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Islamic World News ( 17 Dec 2021, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Global Terrorist Group Islamic State Has Sixty-Six Known Indian-Origin Fighters: U.S. Report on Terrorism

New Age Islam News Bureau

18 December 2021

 

 

 

Picture for representational purpose only.

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• In A Historic Move, US Senate Approved Muslim Rashad Hussain to Serve As Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom

• Germany: Sheep Heads Thrown At Lawmaker's Office Following Attack On Mosque

• Iraqi Government and Kurdish Fighters Working Together To Prevent Islamic State's Resurgence

• ISIS Set To Become Islamist Frankenstein In Africa

 

India

• Gurgaon Muslim Council Spokesperson: The Administration Was Letting Vigilantes Take Over Law and Order in Gurgaon Disrupting Friday Namaz

• Kerala Muslim bodies resent decision to hike marriageable age of women

• Gurugram: Namaz congregation forced to chant 'Bharat Mata ki Jai', 'Hindustan Zindabad'

• BSF guns down Pakistan drone in Ferozpur border area of Punjab

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North America

• Vacant Blackburn Church Could Become A New Mosque Minimise the Need To Travel To A Larger Mosque Further Away

• US Senate approves setting up Afghan war commission

• Former CIA chiefs, US officials call on Biden to restore Iran’s fear of strikes

• US 'gravely concerned' about reported detentions, killings in Ethiopia's Tigray

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Europe

• UK Imam Joins Cross-Faith Call to Boost Vaccine Take-Up

• Belgium’s Muslim community challenges halal slaughter ban at Strasbourg Court

• Tatarstan's Supreme Court Upholds Sentence For Teacher Found With Banned Islamic Group's Books

• UK court rules in favour of Lebanese bank over transfers abroad

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Arab World

• UN: Lebanese crisis exposes children to abuse, exploitation

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Africa

• ‘Severe human rights violations’ on all sides of Ethiopia conflict: UN

• Tunisians call for ouster of president on anniversary of 2011 revolution

• UN rights forum orders investigation into abuses in Ethiopia

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Pakistan

• PM Imran Will Decide On Alliance with Tehreek-I-Labbaik Pakistan: Punjab Law Minister

• Pak minister threatens TV channels for airing allegations against PM Imran

• Capital to observe holidays till Monday under security for OIC meeting

• 4 accused in Perween Rahman murder case awarded life imprisonment by Karachi anti-terrorism court

• Pakistan to enhance mutually beneficial multi-domain relations with EU: COAS

• Islamabad to repatriate illegal Afghan nationals

• Katas Raj temples visit: Over 100 Hindu pilgrims arrive in Pakistan

• US recognises Pakistan’s efforts to counter terrorism in 2020

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South Asia

• Bangladesh PM's Son Joy Denounces Islamist Jamaat-e-Islami Over 'Connivance' With Pak during Liberation War

• Taliban risk losing power without inclusive government in Afghanistan, warns Russia

• Taliban reacts to UN’s decision over allowing Faiq assume PR seat

• Pakistan to host OIC extraordinary session on Afghanistan on 19-Dec

• UNSC extends term of team tracking sanctions against Taliban-linked outfits

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Southeast Asia

• 'Strong Passport, More Practising Muslims': Zakir Naik on Why He Fled To Malaysia

• Sisters in Islam: Don’t gamble on the future of our children

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Mideast

• Iran's Top Negotiator: Negotiations to Continue after Few Days Break

• Expert: Balance of Vienna Talks Leaning towards Iranian Logic

• Latest round of nuclear talks ‘worse than they should have been’: Senior US diplomat

• IAEA chief Grossi has doubts that Iran surveillance camera’s footage vanished

• Israeli settlers attack Palestinian villages in northern West Bank

• Palestine calls for prompt international intervention to stop settler 'terrorism'

• Over 50 Saudi-backed pro-Hadi commanders killed while fighting Yemeni forces over Ma’rib control

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau


URL:  https://www.newageislam.com/islamic-world-news/global-terrorist-islamic-state-terrorism-indian-us/d/125985


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Global Terrorist Group Islamic State Has Sixty-Six Known Indian-Origin Fighters: U.S. Report On Terrorism

 

 

Picture for representational purpose only.

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DECEMBER 17, 2021

There were 66 known Indian-origin fighters affiliated with the global terrorist group Islamic State, the latest U.S. State Department report on terrorism has said as it commended India’s counterterrorism forces, including the NIA, for actively detecting and disrupting transnational and regional terror forces.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, in the 2020 Country Reports on Terrorism issued on Thursday, said that India collaborates with the United States on implementing UNSCR 2309 and is enforcing compliance with the dual-screen X-ray mandate for cargo screening at airport locations.

The UN Security Council Resolution 2309 calls governments to meet their responsibility to keep citizens secure while travelling by air.

The report said that there were 66 known Indian-origin fighters affiliated with ISIS, as of November.

No Foreign Terrorist Fighters (FTFs) were repatriated to India during 2020, it said.

Highlighting the US-India cooperation, the report said that the United States continues to build its strategic partnership with the Government of India, including through bilateral engagements such as the 17th Counterterrorism Joint Working Group and Third Designations Dialogue in September, as well as the third 2+2 Ministerial Dialogue in October.

It also commended the Indian counterterrorism forces, including the National Investigation Agency (NIA), for actively detecting and disrupting transnational and regional terror forces.

“Indian counterterrorism forces, at the federal and state levels, actively detected and disrupted transnational and regional terror forces.

“The National Investigation Agency examined 34 terrorism-related cases related to ISIS and arrested 160 persons, including 10 alleged al-Qaeda operatives from Kerala and West Bengal, in September,” the report said.

Giving details of the terrorists’ arrests made by the NIA, the report said that the premier investigation agency arrested 10 alleged al-Qaeda-affiliated operatives from Kerala and West Bengal on September 19 and 26.

“Through the end of September, the NIA had investigated 34 terrorism cases it indicated were related to ISIS and arrested 160 persons,” it said.

The Kolkata Police counter-terrorism Special Task Force on May 29 arrested Abdul Karim, the second-in-command of Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh, on suspicion of involvement in a 2013 bombing in Bodh Gaya, it said.

“India responds to the US requests for information related to terrorism investigations in a timely manner and makes efforts to mitigate threats in response to US information.

“Over the past two years, collaborative efforts have disrupted terrorist travel and alerted US authorities to possible threats in the United States and against US interests,” the report said.

Officials in India remain concerned about internet use for terrorist recruitment and radicalisation to violence, as well as for fomenting interreligious tensions, it said.

“In 2020 there were multiple reports in the media and from the NIA of suspected cases of online terrorist radicalisation, particularly in southern Indian states,” the report said.

India is active in leadership roles in the many regional and international fora in 2020, where it has promoted multilateral counterterrorism cooperation, it said.

India has agreed to share intelligence on terrorism with Sri Lanka and the Maldives. India’s long-standing defence relationship with Russia extends to counterterrorism issues, the US State Department report added.

The US report, meanwhile, pointed towards the “gaps” in the interagency intelligence and information sharing.

It said that the “Indian security agencies are effective in disrupting terror threats, although gaps remain in inter-agency intelligence and information sharing”.

“The Indian Multi-Agency Centre (MAC) collaborates with the US on exchanging terrorist screening information. In the absence of a National Counter Terrorism Center, the MAC conducts real-time collation and sharing of intelligence among federal and state security agencies.

“Several Indian states have established state-level MACs to disseminate terrorism information to law enforcement,” the report said.

It also said that Indian security forces demonstrate limited capacity to patrol and secure extensive maritime and land borders.

“India is implementing UNSCR 2396 to improve detection and deterrence of terrorist travel by using watchlists, implementing biographic and biometric screening at ports of entry, and expanding information sharing,” it said.

The United Nations Security Council Resolution 2396 (2017) requires Member States to develop and implement systems to collect biometric data in order to identify terrorists responsibly and properly.

Source: The Hindu

Please click the following URL to read the text of the original story:

https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/islamic-state-has-66-known-indian-origin-fighters-us-report-on-terrorism/article37977401.ece

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In A Historic Move, US Senate Approved Muslim Rashad Hussain to Serve As Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom

 


 

Rashad Hussain (Getty Images)

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Servet Günerigök  

18.12.2021

WASHINGTON

The US Senate approved Muslim American Rashad Hussain to serve as Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom, in a historic move.

Hussain, who was nominated by President Joe Biden in July, won Senate approval in a 85-5 vote Thursday. Hussain is the first American Muslim to hold the position.

He served as US Special Envoy to the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), Special Envoy for Strategic Counterterrorism Communications and Deputy Associate White House Counsel during the Barack Obama administration.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the US' largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, welcomed the confirmation on Friday.

"This is a historic day for the American Muslim community and our nation," Deputy Executive Director Edward Ahmed Mitchell said in a statement.

"We are confident that he will defend the religious freedom of all communities threatened by bigotry around the world, including Uyghur Muslims facing an unprecedented genocide by the Chinese Communist Party," said Mitchell.

Also, the US Commission on International Religious Freedom hailed Hussain's confirmation.

"With his years of knowledge and experience, Ambassador Hussain is well placed to advance the U.S. government’s promotion of international religious freedom," Chair Nadine Maenza said in a statement.

Source: Anadolu Agency

Please click the following URL to read the text of the original story:

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/americas/first-muslim-confirmed-by-us-senate-as-religious-freedom-envoy/2450570

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Germany: Sheep Heads Thrown At Lawmaker's Office Following Attack On Mosque

 


 

Police cordoned off the entire area after sheep heads were thrown at the Left party's local office

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17.12.2021

Unknown assailants threw two sheep heads at the office of a left-wing lawmaker in the East German city of Leipzig on Thursday night, police in the city said.

The perpetrators also set off fireworks and left a note with a message. There was no damage done to the building.

The incident follows an attack on a mosque in the city, allegedly carried out by an extreme left wing group, that sparked outrage locally.

Juliane Nagel, a lawmaker for the Left party in the state of Saxony whose office is in the building that was attacked on Thursday night, told the local Leipziger Zeitung newspaper that: "It's now clear that we've been made responsible for the attack on Monday."

Believed to be an act of revenge

Leipzig police were unable to give details as to who might be behind Thursday's incident, but said that: "Evidence was found at the scene of the crime that suggests a political motivation. For this reason, police state security is taking over for further investigations."

Nagel told the public broadcaster MDR on Friday that pyrotechnics exploded outside the office and that two animal heads were thrown out of a car, as well as a handwritten note that included the word "mosque."

She said on Twitter that she believed it showed her party was being held at fault, at least by the perpetrator, for the vandals' actions: "we are being made responsible for the attack on the mosque, or for not having taken a critical position."

"That's rubbish: We've clearly stated that an attack on a place of prayer and retreat for migrants is wrong!"

Mosque with Turkish ties

Nagel's criticism of the damage done by an extreme left group at the Leipzig mosque — that left many of the building's windows smashed — was accompanied by a criticism of the mosque's benefactors.

"There's no need to fool yourselves, the imams there are Turkish officials, they get their sermons sent over from Istanbul," she had also told the local newspaper Leipziger Volkszeitung in the aftermath.

The mosque belongs to the DITIB network which falls under the umbrella of Diyanet, a Turkish state-operated religious institution. The organization has been criticized in the past for spreading Turkish right-wing nationalism and antisemitism.

The co-chair of the Leipzig migrant advisory board, Francesca Russo, slammed the actions of the small leftist group: "We're shocked that a group of people who claim to be against fascism, oppression and street violence, commit acts of violence themselves."

Source: DW News

Please click the following URL to read the text of the original story:

https://www.dw.com/en/germany-sheep-heads-thrown-at-lawmakers-office-following-attack-on-mosque/a-60166590

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Iraqi Government and Kurdish Fighters Working Together To Prevent Islamic State's Resurgence

 


 

Representational Image | AP

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17 Dec 2021

As a backhoe dug up the ground to build trenches, Iraqi soldiers scanned the vast farming tracts for militants; not far away, their Kurdish counterparts did the same.

The scene earlier this month in the small northern Iraqi farming village of Lheiban was a rare instance of coordination between the federal government and the semi-autonomous Kurdish region. The two sides were fortifying a joint position aimed at defending the village against attacks by the Islamic State group.

Despite a long-standing territorial dispute, Baghdad and Iraq's Kurds are taking steps to work together to prevent a resurgence of the Islamic State group.

Whether the fragile security partnership can hold is the big test in the next chapter of Iraq's war with IS. Both sides say they need the Americans to help keep it together — and they say that is one reason why the US military presence in Iraq is not going away even as its combat mission officially ends on December 31.

Iraq declared IS defeated four years ago this month. But the rivalry between Baghdad and the Kurds opened up cracks through which IS crept back: a long, disputed zone snaking through four provinces -- Nineveh, Kirkuk, Salaheddin and Diyala -- where the forces of either side did not enter. In some places, the zone was up to 40 km (24 miles) wide.

Lheiban lies in one part of the zone, and a recent flurry of IS attacks threatened to empty the area of its residents, mostly Kurds.

So, for the first time since 2014, Iraqi troops and peshmerga are setting up joint coordination centres around the zone to better police the gaps.

“Daesh took advantage,” said Capt. Nakib Hajar, head of Kurdish peshmerga operations in the area, using the Arabic acronym for IS. Now, he said, “we are coordinating ... It begins here, in this village.”

Like all residents of Lheiban, Helmet Zahir is tired. In past months, the cement factory worker would spend all night on the roof of his humble home, his wife and children sleeping inside, holding his rifle and waiting.

Security personnel guarding a nearby oil company – the only ones in the area equipped with thermal night vision – would send the signal when they spotted IS militants making their way down the Qarachok Mountain range toward Lheiban.

It was up to Zahir and other armed residents to fend them off.

“We were abandoned. The peshmerga was on one side, the Iraqi army on another and neither was intervening,” he said.

A recent uptick in attacks on the village, with three in the first week of December alone, prompted many of the village's residents, who are mainly Kurds, to leave. Zahir moved his family to Debaga in the relative safety of the Kurdish-run north.

Once numbering 65 families, Lheiban now has only 12 left, said village mukhtar Yadgar Karim.

On December 7, peshmerga and Iraqi forces moved into the village with plans to replicate coordination elsewhere across the disputed territories. Kurdish officials hoped this would prompt villagers to return. Maintaining a Kurdish population in the area is key to their territorial claims.

Zahir is not convinced. “I came to check on the situation only, I am too afraid to return,” he said.

The peshmerga have positions all along the ridge of the Qarachok mountains. But they don't have orders to stop IS militants as they cross on attacks or to raid IS positions because of wariness over entering disputed territory, explained Col. Kahar Jawhar.

Moreover, the militants move at night, using tunnels and hiding in caves, and the peshmerga lack key equipment including night vision.

“That is why IS are able to terrorise the residents, because we can't see them,” Jawhar said.

The talks to re-establish joint coordination centres between the Iraqi army and peshmerga began over two years ago, but fell apart because of deep mistrust and differences over how to carve out lines of control.

Under current Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi, talks were rekindled, paving the way for an agreement to set up six joint coordination centres in Baghdad, Irbil, and across the disputed zone.

Kadhimi also agreed to establish two joint brigades to conduct anti-IS operations. But this is awaiting budget approval from Baghdad's Finance Ministry, said Hajar Ismail, peshmerga head of relations with the coalition.

Between 2009-2014, Iraqi and Kurdish forces conducted joint security in the northern provinces of Ninevah, Kirkuk and Diyala. But the collapse of the Iraqi army during the IS onslaught of 2014 ended the arrangement.

Kurdish authorities managed to solidify control over Kirkuk and other disputed areas during this time, even developing oil fields and conducting an independent export policy, to the ire of the federal government.

After Iraq declared victory over IS in 2017, Baghdad turned its sights to these areas, launching a military operation in October 2017 to retake them. Relations soured, with Baghdad cutting off budget allocations to the Kurdish region, rendering it unable to pay public sector workers and debts to oil companies.

Baghdad was long reluctant to resume security talks partly due to political optics in the capital, with many dominant Shiite parties deeply mistrustful of Kurdish intentions, according to federal officials.

The Popular Mobilization Forces, made up largely of Shiite militia groups close to Iran, has opposed joint patrols with the peshmerga. The PMF also has a powerful presence in many areas in the disputed zone.

Source: Outlook India

Please click the following URL to read the text of the original story:

https://www.outlookindia.com/website/story/world-news-iraq-government-and-kurdish-fighters-working-together-to-prevent-islamic-states-resurgance/405475

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ISIS Set To Become Islamist Frankenstein In Africa

 

 

Representational Image | AP

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Ahmadu Sarr

17 December 2021

Terror organisation, ISIS, on the run from Europe and Asia since 2014, is desperately trying to establish itself on the African continent by setting up links with local terror bodies. In the process, its jihadist ideology has secured a fresh lease of life to expand the influence of the Islamic caliphate.

Several African countries where the civil-military differences are weakening the social and economic fabric are now the hunting grounds of ISIS. Even among them, the terrorist organisation prefers countries where Islamist politics has reared its head. The world has noticed the silence of orthodox Islamic clergy in the face of rogue expansion of the Islamic terror bodies in Africa as they escape the western military forces in west Asia and Europe, especially from Syria and Iraq.

It is perhaps as a result of the pressure on these terror groups that in recent months, both Europe and Africa have witnessed lone-wolf attacks in public places. It is seen by terror-watchers as a sign that even the ISIS, or al-Qaeda for that matter, are not willing to waste men and material in major acts of violence. The ISIS has formally ordered lone-wolf attacks in mid-2020 – that much is established. But that has also increased the fervour of these bodies to establish new bases, especially in Africa.

ISIS State is taking over swathes of Africa like it did in Syria and Iraq with “staggeringly brutal” tactics, the Pentagon has warned a couple of months ago. A report from West Point, the US officer training academy, says: “By the summer of 2020, it had become resolutely clear that the Islamic State was a changed organisation, but by no means a beaten one.”

The Pentagon report said there had been a “marked upward curve of claimed cumulative attacks and casualties” across Africa, but the “largest and most sophisticated” presence is in West Africa and the Greater Sahara. “ISIS in West Africa is engaging in operations that are increasingly audacious, staggeringly brutal, and worryingly akin to what ISIL, as it was known at the time, was doing early 2014,” it said.

The ISIS is said to have several tactical headquarters where its second-rung leadership is settled for the time being, giving them a breathing space after they were thrown out of Mosul, Iraq.

The group has “expanded its influence on the continent through a network of affiliates in West, North and East African regions”. North Africa is most significant for ISIS, with “affiliate groups in Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya and Egypt”.

According to anti-terror watch groups, in West Africa, Boko Haram pledged allegiance to ISIS in 2015. The Islamic State in West Africa or the Islamic State’s West Africa Province, formerly known as Jamā’at Ahl as-Sunnah lid-Da’wah wa’l-Jihād and commonly known as Boko Haram, is a jihadist terrorist organisation based in north-eastern Nigeria, also active in Chad, Niger and northern Cameroon, and responsible for some of the worst violent attacks in recent times.

However, the group does not rely on ISIS for resources or operational support, and Boko Haram’s recruitment base still primarily originates from north-east Nigeria and countries of the Lake Chad region. In Western Sahel, ISIS has enlisted the support of an al-Qaeda splinter group, but the group’s presence in the region remains marginal.

In East Africa, the reports say, an al-Shabaab splinter group pledged allegiance to ISIS in 2015, but did not succeed in establishing itself in Somalia, or the wider region. The group’s operational visibility in Central and Southern Africa has been primarily absent. Harakat al-Shabaab al-Mujahideen, more commonly known as al-Shabaab, is a terrorist, jihadist fundamentalist group based in East Africa. In 2012, it pledged allegiance to the militant Islamist organisation, Al-Qaeda.

Faced with the pressures in Iraq and Syria, a number of scenarios could play out. Abu Muhammad al-Adnani, ISIS’s chief of external operations who was killed last year, said one strategy would be for the group to temporarily set aside its statehood aspirations and revert to more traditional terrorist strategies – operating underground.

Furthermore, in the wake of the defeat in Mosul, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi – the leader of ISIS – has called for supporters to refrain from travelling to Iraq, and to focus on strengthening its networks elsewhere. Therefore, ISIS might try to regroup using organisations that have pledged allegiance in Africa and South-East Asia.

ISIS is in competition with al-Qaeda in “conquering” Africa. Reports suggest that since 2014, “ISIS has built an effective propaganda campaign based on its battlefield successes, territorial control and proclamation of the caliphate, and financial prosperity”. This kind of violent extremism has helped it gather support of nearly 30,000 foreign fighters since 2011. They include “potential al-Qaeda recruits attracted by the group’s propaganda and image, and al-Qaeda-affiliated groups and individuals around the world who switched to ISIS or pledged allegiance to the caliphate”.

But, al-Qaeda is said to have weathered the poaching by ISIS and has increased its capabilities in Africa in the last two years. It has managed to undermine the growth of ISIS in sub-Saharan Africa where al-Qaeda has a stronger foothold.

The ISIS is studying the activities of an important Islamic terror body of Africa, known Da’esh before deciding on any informal ties with it. It is formally known as the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).

The latest report of the UN Secretary-General on the threat posed by ISIL (Da’esh) says: “Since 2014, ISIL has used its online publications to reach potential foreign terrorist fighters and social media to directly engage individuals, encouraging them to join its ranks. It has also targeted specific skill-sets and tailored its message to different linguistic groups using foreign terrorist fighters primarily based in Syria and Iraq to reach out to individuals in their countries of origin in their own language. Once engaged in dialogue, ISIL recruiters and enablers quickly shifted their communications onto a wide range of encrypted applications, complicating efforts in home countries to monitor and investigate such contacts.”

The Twenty-sixth report of the Analytical Support and Sanctions Monitoring Team of UN) concerning ISIL (Da’esh), Al-Qaida and associated groups in July, 2020 says the ISIL, of all terror groups operating in Africa is professionally managed and therefore in a better position to carry out more terror attacks in the near future.

Its report says ISIL handled the COVID-19 situation with change of operational tactics because of which its attacks continued in Africa while those of other organisations became less frequent. It explains why: “ISIL propaganda and media output have been largely unaffected by COVID-19, but the group’s commentary on it has broadly covered four areas. First, ISIL has urged attacks on its enemies while they are weakened and distracted. Second, the pandemic has been presented as divine punishment of the West and a cause for celebration. Third, the group has recognised that the virus could be weaponised (though Member States report no attempts to do so in practice). Four, seeking to protect its members from COVID-19, ISIL has embraced social distancing and, in mid-March 2020, advised against travel to Europe.”

The relative strengths and weaknesses of the top terror groups in Africa are also a subject of recent study. In West Africa, “ISIL franchises in West Africa and the Sahel continued to enjoy operational success in early 2020, as have those of Al-Qaida, heightening international concern about stability in the region”.

In North Africa, ISIL-Libya represents a threat to the stability and security of Libya and its environs, exacerbated by the ongoing Libyan conflict. In the Greater Sahara region, the peaceful coexistence of JNIM and the Islamic State in the Greater Sahara has reportedly ended because of internal contradictions between the two.

In East Africa, al-Shabaab continued its activities and attacks across Somalia unabated and largely unaffected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Al-Shabaab ideologues and clerics continued to disparage the COVID-19 threat and resisted lockdown attempts in various administrative areas under their control. Beyond Somalia, emboldened by the January attack on a United States military base on the Manda Island in Kenya, Al-Shabaab leadership urged its fighters to conduct attacks abroad.

In Central and Southern Africa, terror activities of ISIL in Somalia and Islamic State Central Africa Province (ISCAP) in Cabo Delgado, Mozambique, gained momentum in early 2020 as the group launched complex attacks on several locations. ISCAP operatives briefly took over some villages and they openly addressed inhabitants while displaying ISCAP banners. In a communiqué issued on April 23, 2020, the Mozambique authorities acknowledged the role of ISIL in the attacks and links to foreign terrorist elements.

While these terror groups jostle with one another to expand their territories in Africa, one thing becomes clear: The ISIS continues to be the primary terror brand in the continent. Even though local groups are not really fascinated by the Islamic caliphate theory, they are attracted by its “prosperity” in terms of finances and weaponry. The internal problems of the al-Qaeda have also contributed to the increasing lure of ISIS.

Could this result in these groups attempting to outcompete each other in terms of increased attacks and brutality in Africa? The African nations are now beginning to understand the threat Islamic terror poses, particularly in the form of ISIS because not only is it trying to expand its operations, it is also acting as a beacon of light for fellow Islamic bodies. ISIS needs to be prevented from regrouping and gaining a stronger foothold in North Africa and regional cooperation is mandatory to prevent the group from extending its influence to west and east Africa.

Source: Punch Nigeria

Please click the following URL to read the text of the original story:

https://punchng.com/isis-set-to-become-islamist-frankenstein-in-africa/

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India

 

Gurgaon Muslim Council Spokesperson: The Administration Was Letting Vigilantes Take Over Law and Order in Gurgaon Disrupting Friday Namaz

By Pavneet Singh Chadha

December 18, 2021

Strategy sessions through the week, cars and motorcycles to rush them around, and videos after every ‘victory’ — protesting against Namaz at public places in Gurgaon now for several Fridays, the men in saffron robes have a standard operating protocol of sorts. Among them is a former wrestler, a “berozgar” who now goes by the second name “Hindu”, and a property dealer who sees himself as a social worker. Many claim affiliation to ‘Sanyukt Hindu Sangharsh Samiti’ — a conglomerate of 22 Hindu right-wing groups.

This Friday, they are feeling further emboldened, by what they see as an “endorsement” of their protests: a statement by Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar that namaz should not take place at public spaces.

“Agar Bharat mein rehna hai toh Bharat Mata ki jai bolna padega (If you want to stay in India, you will have to say Bharat Mata ki jai),” says Amit, a familiar face now at the protests. A former wrestler, he claims to be part of the Bajrang Dal and the Youth Morcha president of the Rashtriya Hindu Shakti Sangathan, and says he has been associated with Hindu right-wing groups for 15 years.

Wearing saffron, his long hair tied in a bun, Amit, 27, cites “Hindu” as his chosen last name. Having done BA from a college in Gurgaon, the Sector 45 resident says he “lost interest in studies” and started working full-time “for interests of Hindus”.

Two weeks ago, he sat in protest outside the Sector 37 police station, after 10 people were detained for disrupting namaz. On November 5, when the Sanyukt Samiti organised a ‘Govardhan Puja’ at the Sector 12 site where namaz was earlier offered, with BJP leader Kapil Mishra in attendance, Amit was felicitated as a ‘Dharam Yodha’. Earlier, on October 29, he was one of the 26 people arrested for attempting to disrupt namaz at the site. He later posted pictures on Instagram of himself in a police bus.

“Mein berozgar hoon… Sirf Hindu Samaj aur desh ke liye kaam karta hoon (I am unemployed and work only for Hindu society and our country)… I am not scared of arrests. I have lost count of how many times I have been detained or arrested in Gurgaon and even Chandigarh and Ghaziabad,” Amit tells The Indian Express.

He says they will continue their protests in Gurgaon, “and whole India, till the practice (of namaz in the open) is stopped”. “People who want it can go to Pakistan. This is a country of Hindus. Why can’t people pray inside mosques?”

Several of the protesters are Amit’s acquaintances or friends. They have shown up at grounds across Gurgaon, stopping prayers for the past few weeks. At Sector 37, they have parked trucks, held havans, even organised a game of cricket, to stop the ground from being used for prayers.

One of the leaders is Parveen Yadav, 33, a real estate businessman from Sarhaul village. Yadav, who runs a ‘Manavta Sangathan’ “for the poor”, says: “During the week we hold meetings to discuss places where namaz is being offered illegally. For an hour late evening, we discuss issues concerned with our faith. Our sources inform us where people are likely to gather for namaz. We go there and inform them that the administration has withdrawn permission and ask them to leave. This is not namaz; this is a propaganda of Muslims to encroach land.”

Yadav says the protests have brought him close to “people with similar ideas and wavelength”. “If it is an issue of our faith… we have to step forward.”

On Friday, around 12.15 pm, Yadav, Amit and the others are assembled at Tau Devi Lal Park in Sector 22. “Last week, we heard that over 350 had offered namaz here,” says a group member. Five policemen are present at the park.

Half an hour later, they hear that over 80 Muslims are offering Namaz at a park in Phase 5, Udyog Vihar. The group rush out, some take saffron robes from a car driven by Amit, then get onto an SUV, with ‘Sher’ sticker on the rear window, driven by Yadav. Others follow on motorcycles.

In 10 minutes, the group is at the Phase 5 park, where a Maulvi is about to lead prayers. “Yahan namaz nahin hogi (Namaz will not take place here),” warns the group, telling the devotees that permission to offer Namaz in the open had been withdrawn, as the CM had said.

On December 10, Khattar said Namaz should not be offered in the open and the practice “will not be tolerated”, and that an earlier decision to reserve some sites for the purpose had been withdrawn.

Several try to force those who have come for prayers to raise slogans of “Bharat Mata ki jai”, or leave. For 10 minutes, there is an intense argument. As the threats continue, the devotees leave, folding up their mats. One group member tells them, “If you want namaz, say Bharat Mata ki jai. Those not saying so are Rohingya.”

Haider, who is among those leaving, says the men told them to go to Sector 29. “They said first chant the slogan and then you can offer prayers. I am a patriot. I don’t have to prove this to anyone.”

Source: Indian Express

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://indianexpress.com/article/india/invoking-khattar-group-disrupts-namaz-gurgaon-7678480/

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Kerala Muslim bodies resent decision to hike marriageable age of women

Dec 17, 2021

Many Muslim organisations in Kerala have criticized the Centre’s move to hike the legal age of marriage for women from 18 to 21 years. Muslim League leader E T Mohammad Basheer on Friday introduced an adjournment motion in the Lok Sabha saying the decision was against Muslim personal law and it was another step towards introducing a uniform civil code in the country.

“We will oppose this. The government is trying to implement the Sangh Parivar’s favourite agenda of uniform civil code. The Muslim Personal Law Board clearly defines marriage, divorce and right to property. These issues relate to our faith,” said Basheer adding he will talk to other political parties to form a consensus on the issue. The Congress is yet to make its stance clear on the matter.

The Union government is planning to bring a bill to increase the minimum legal age of marriage for women from 18 to 21, people familiar with developments said, underlining a far-reaching decision that will require modification in faith-based personal laws dealing with marriage and inheritance.

The Union Cabinet cleared the proposal in its meeting on Wednesday and the government plans to bring the bill — which will bring the minimum age of marriage for women at par with that of men — in the ongoing winter session of Parliament, said the people quoted above.

The Samastha Kerala Jamait-ul-Ulema, an organisation of Sunni scholars, and many other religious bodies also opposed the move. The women’s wing of the League also opposed the decision saying delaying the age of marriage will give way to “live-in relationships and illegitimate relations”.

“The necessity for increasing the age from 18 to 21 is not known. No medical study indicates any psychological or physiological problems if girls are married at 18. The stipulation that girls should wait till 21 to marry is an affront to individual freedom and religious belief,” said T K Ashraf, leader of the Salafi group Wisdom Islamic Organisation.

Muslim organisations got support from an unexpected quarter, the CPI (M) women’s wing-- the All India Democratic Women’s Association. “We oppose the decision strongly. This will do more harm to women than helping them. Instead of bridging the gender gap and empowering women the government is coming out with a new legislation laced with communal outlook,” it said in a statement.

Source: Hindustan Times

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https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/kerala-muslim-bodies-resent-decision-to-hike-marriageable-age-of-women-101639740956740.html

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Gurugram: Namaz congregation forced to chant 'Bharat Mata ki Jai', 'Hindustan Zindabad'

Bagish Jha

Dec 18, 2021

GURUGRAM: A week after chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar promised his government would work on an amicable solution to the row over namaz being offered in public spaces, the protests continued - this time in Udyog Vihar, where those who congregated for Friday prayers were forced to chant "Bharat Mata ki Jai" and "Hindustan Zindabad" by activists of right-wing outfits. The site where the protests took place is near a designated site for prayers. A purported video of the incident was shared widely on social media.

"The chief minister has said no namaz will be allowed in open areas. It is now the responsibility of the police and the administration to comply with his directions," said Amit, who was among the group that had come to Udyog Vihar. He added that Friday prayers should be held only at the six places that have been designated for namaz.

Meanwhile, no namaz was offered in Sector 37, which has seen several protests over the issue and has ceased to be a designated site now. Some locals organised a 'bhandara' at the spot.

Altaf Ahmad, spokesperson of Gurgaon Muslim Council, said 'vigilantism' had taken over the city's law and order. "Right-wing groups are defining how and where namaz will be offered. The latest incident is just another instance in which vigilantes have forced Muslims to raise 'Bharat Mata ki Jai' slogans," he said, adding that he did not hold out any hope for police action.

The latest disruption comes just a day after former Rajya Sabha MP and Gurgaon resident Mohammad Adeeb filed a petition in the Supreme Court, seeking contempt proceedings against the Haryana chief secretary and director general of police for not stopping the protests, citing the apex court's 2018 directions to states during a hearing on mob violence.

Source: Times of India

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https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/gurgaon/gurugram-namaz-congregation-forced-to-chant-bharat-mata-ki-jai-hindustan-zindabad/articleshow/88351270.cms

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BSF guns down Pakistan drone in Ferozpur border area of Punjab

Yudhvir Rana

Dec 18, 2021

AMRITSAR: Border Security Force (BSF) personals gunned down a Pakistani drone near BSF's Wan Border Outpost (BoP) in Ferozepur sector on late Friday night.

According to highly placed sources, the BSF jawan spotted the drone flying at a lower height due to fog in the area of responsibility of Wan BoP following which they opened fire and brought it down.

The recovered drone is found to be made in China.

Source: Times of India

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https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/bsf-gunned-down-a-pakistan-drone/articleshow/88352741.cms

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North America

 

Vacant Blackburn Church Could Become A New Mosque Minimise The Need To Travel To A Larger Mosque Further Away

Dec 18, 2021

Pleckgate Community Centre wants to convert St Chad’s Church, in Pleckgate Road, Blackburn, and replace it with a place of Islamic worship and religious instruction.

The building is vacant having previously been used as a workshop.

The community centre has submitted a planning application to Blackburn with Darwen Council for the change of use and demolition of an outbuilding to provide 15 car parking spaces.

A planning statement said: "The former church building was used for some years as a workshop and for storage, although this was not formalised by a planning permission. It has been vacant for a number of years.

"The proposed mosque would serve the local community by providing facilities for individual and congregational worship.

"The purpose is to provide a more accessible facility for the local community and minimise the need to travel to a larger mosque further away. It would not be used for Friday prayers or for weddings and funerals, nor would there be a resident imam.

"The building is located in a densely-built residential area, on a bus route and within walking distance of many of the people the mosque would serve.

"The building, while not listed or in a conservation area, is distinctive and adds to the character of the area. The application proposal would bring it back into beneficial use and retain it as a community asset.

"The proposals include the demolition of the existing garage at the rear of the church in order to provide appropriate levels of parking."

St Chad’s was a single-storey stone-built building constructed circa 1870.

It later became a day school and also had a Sunday School. It is understood that services continued to be held in the building until the 1970s.

Source: Lancashire Telegraph

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https://www.lancashiretelegraph.co.uk/news/19789726.vacant-blackburn-church-become-new-mosque/

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US Senate approves setting up Afghan war commission

Anwar Iqbal

December 18, 2021

WASHINGTON: The US Senate approved a defence bill on Friday, which calls for establishing an independent commission to scrutinise the Afghan war and to probe options for combating terrorism in the region, including Pakistan.

The proposed 16-member Afghanistan War Commission will produce a report within three years. The members would be selected in equal measure by Republican and Democratic lawmakers. Current and former members of Congress dating to 2001, as well as Cabinet-level and high-ranking defence officials involved in planning US policies on Afghanistan are excluded.

A previous version of the bill also proposed probing Pakistan’s role in the Afghan war, but that provision has now been dropped.

The commission, however, can examine how regional countries influenced the Afghan war and the role they can play in peacefully ending the Afghan conflict.

The summary of the bill states that the bipartisan panel will “examine” the 20-year conflict and will prepare “in-depth” reports on the US ability to counter terrorism in the Pakistan-Afghanistan region.

The commission will also do the “accountability” of the military equipment left in Afghanistan after the US withdrawal and will devise plans for evacuating American citizens and “Afghan allies” still there.

The defence authorisation bill — passed with 88 to 11 votes in the Senate — approved a record $770 billion for America’s defence. It earned the support of more than 80 per cent of the House last week. In both chambers, Republicans supporting the bill outnumbered Democrats, although Democrats control both the House and Senate.

Underlining America’s continued focus on China, the bill includes $7.1bn for the Pacific Deterrence Initiative and a statement of congressional support for the defence of Taiwan that Beijing claims as its own territory. It also includes a ban on the US Department of Defence procuring products made with forced labour in China’s western Xinjiang region.

Source: Dawn

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https://www.dawn.com/news/1664444/us-senate-approves-setting-up-afghan-war-commission

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Former CIA chiefs, US officials call on Biden to restore Iran’s fear of strikes

18 December ,2021

Two former CIA directors and a handful of former senior US officials urged President Joe Biden to “restore Iran’s fear that its current nuclear path will trigger the use of force,” in a letter published Friday.

“Diplomacy appears to be moving backward,” the letter read on the same day that European capitals voiced frustration with Tehran’s request to adjourn talks on the now-defunct 2015 nuclear deal.

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While voicing their support for the Biden administration’s preference of using diplomacy to ensure that Iran’s nuclear program remains for civilian purposes, the former US officials said the challenge of preventing Tehran from acquiring a nuclear had reached a “critical moment.”

“Therefore, for the sake of our diplomatic effort to resolve this crisis, we believe it is vital to restore Iran’s fear that its current nuclear path will trigger the use of force against it by the United States,” the letter signed by Leon Panetta and David Petraeus read.

Panetta was the former defense secretary and former CIA director while Petraeus was the former chief of the US Central Command (CENTCOM) and a former CIA director.

Former Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Michele Flournoy, a top official in the Obama administration, also endorsed the letter as did former Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Howard Berman.

Talks reached an impasse on Friday after Iran stalled the ongoing discussions in Vienna for months after they elected a new president.

Iran’s new hardline government is demanding the lifting of all sanctions before it comes back into compliance with the deal the Biden administration is hoping to re-enter, otherwise known as the JCPOA.

US Special Envoy for Iran, leading the delegation in Vienna, is returning to Washington in a sign that talks will not resume in the days ahead.

While Biden and his team have repeatedly said the time for talks is not open-ended, they have been forced to wait for nearly one year as Iran continues to ramp up its nuclear program, which it claims is for non-military use.

Friday’s letter to the White House said the challenge was now how to restore US credibility in the eyes of Iranian leaders. “Words—including formulations that are more pointed and direct than ‘all options are on the table’—are also necessary but not sufficient,” the letter read.

Washington has said that they are preparing for life without a deal and said they were studying options in the event that no deal is reached.

However, critics believe Iran is now just months away from having the capability to develop a nuclear weapon.

“In that context, we believe it is important for the Biden administration to take steps that lead Iran to believe that persisting in its current behavior and rejecting a reasonable diplomatic resolution will put to risk its entire nuclear infrastructure, one built painstakingly over the last three decades,” the former US officials said.

Steps could include military exercises by the US military, along with its allies, “including rehearsing air-to-ground attacks on hardened targets and the suppression of Iranian missile batteries.”

Source: Al Arabiya

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https://english.alarabiya.net/News/middle-east/2021/12/18/Former-CIA-chiefs-US-officials-call-on-Biden-to-restore-Iran-s-fear-of-strikes

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US 'gravely concerned' about reported detentions, killings in Ethiopia's Tigray

Servet Gunerigok  

17.12.2021

WASHINGTON

The US on Friday voiced grave concern about reported detentions and killings in Ethiopia's Tigray region.

"The United States is gravely concerned by unconfirmed new reports alleging mass detentions, killings, and forced expulsions of ethnic Tigrayans in western Tigray by Amhara security forces," State Department spokesman Ned Price said in a statement.

According to UN reports, 1.2 million people have been forcibly displaced from western Tigray since the beginning of the conflict in November 2020.

Price called on Amhara leaders to renounce violence against civilians and reiterated the US call on Eritrea to remove its forces from Ethiopia.

"We urge the Ethiopian authorities to investigate these reports to determine their veracity and to commit to inclusive, transparent processes to hold responsible those accountable," he said.

Earlier in the day, the UN Human Rights Council voted on a resolution to establish an international commission of experts to conduct an investigation into allegations of human rights violations and abuses by all parties to the conflict in Ethiopia.

Price also called for an end to violence against civilians.

"We also reiterate our call for a cessation of hostilities, an immediate end to human rights abuses and violations, negotiations without preconditions, unhindered humanitarian access, and the start to an inclusive national dialogue," he added.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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https://www.aa.com.tr/en/americas/us-gravely-concerned-about-reported-detentions-killings-in-ethiopias-tigray-/2450451

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Europe

 

UK imam joins cross-faith call to boost vaccine take-up

Nicky Harley

Dec 17, 2021

The imam of the first UK mosque to offer Covid-19 vaccines has joined forces with other faith leaders to urge people to get booster injections amid rising cases of the Omicron variant.

In January, Sheikh Nuru Mohammed became the first imam to open his mosque as a vaccination centre.

He has now joined with the Archbishop of Canterbury – the principal leader of the Church of England – the Secretary General of the Hindu Council and members of the Prime Minister’s Places of Worship Taskforce to emphasise the importance of receiving a booster injection.

Sheikh Mohammed, who is originally from Ghana, opened up the Al-Abbas Islamic Centre in Birmingham as a vaccine centre when local cases were high.

It led to many other mosques following suit.

He is urging everyone to “come together” to fight the latest spread of coronavirus.

“The best way to do so is to go for our jabs, otherwise we will not go back to some sort of normality,” he said.

On Friday, the UK's faith minister Kemi Badenoch met with religious leaders to thank them for their work and asked for their support in increasing booster uptake.

The government said while the UK has one of the highest uptake rates in the world – with more than 85% of adults double jabbed so far – data shows people from black, Asian, and minority ethnic backgrounds are less likely to take up the vaccine.

“More than 25 million people have already received their booster jab, helping to keep themselves, their friends and family safe this winter. But we need everyone from every community to come forward to get ahead of this virus,” Ms Badenoch said.

“This is why I have joined up with leaders from across all the major faiths to ask people of every denomination to come forward and support this huge national effort.”

Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury, said the public should do “everything” to support staff from the UK's NHS publicly funded healthcare system.

“None of us are safe until all of us are safe: we are all each other’s neighbours,” he said.

“I want to encourage everyone, whatever your faith and background, to get boosted as soon as you can. It’s our best hope of keeping everyone safe this Christmas and beyond.”

Health Secretary Sajid Javid said it is vital people get vaccinated.

“Faith and local community leaders have played a vital role supporting the Covid-19 vaccine programme from the very beginning,” he said.

“Thank you to everyone who is uniting behind this national mission, spreading the word about the life-saving benefits of the vaccines and encouraging people to roll up their sleeves and get boosted now.

“Today’s discussion with faith leaders is another opportunity to listen to views from across the country and join forces to get ahead in the race against the Omicron variant.

“It is never too late to get your vaccine, whether it’s your first, second or third. Please come forward and get protected for yourself, your family and your community.”

Earlier this week the UK ruled that all adults in the UK would be eligible to get a booster vaccination.

Source: The National News

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https://www.thenationalnews.com/world/uk-news/2021/12/17/uk-imam-joins-cross-faith-call-to-boost-vaccine-take-up/?5CFBCA07-1AE7-A64D-B0AC-734BA6AEF7E2_kav_cup_C6FA3ED5_6D17_47D1_B6E2_F4B02CC905E0_

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Belgium’s Muslim community challenges halal slaughter ban at Strasbourg Court

Agnes Szucs  

17.12.2021

BRUSSELS

The Muslim community in Belgium will appeal at the European Court of Human Rights against the ban on ritual halal animal slaughtering.

“The Belgian Muslim Executive and the Coordination Council of Islamic Institutions of Belgium will challenge at the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg the ban imposed by the Flemish and Walloon government on the ritual slaughter,” the two organizations wrote in a press statement.

The move comes after the Belgian Constitutional Court approved in October the ban on ritual slaughtering.

In 2019, new legislation on the protection and welfare of animals entered into force in the country’s Wallonia and Flanders regions.

The law banned slaughter by traditional Muslim and Jewish rites by requiring butchers to stun the animals before cutting them.

Muslim and Jewish organizations challenged the bill, arguing that the ban on ritual slaughtering is against the freedom of religion, but the Belgian top court dismissed their appeal.

The Muslim community now decided to take the case to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.

“After all, the rule of law must not surrender to the political and social pressure of the growing populist movements that fight a symbolic battle against vulnerable minorities across Europe,” the organization wrote.

“Current religious slaughter techniques constitute a full-fledged alternative to stunning animals and are fully compatible with public health, food safety, and animal welfare requirements,” the associations explained.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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https://www.aa.com.tr/en/europe/belgium-s-muslim-community-challenges-halal-slaughter-ban-at-strasbourg-court/2450427

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Tatarstan's Supreme Court Upholds Sentence For Teacher Found With Banned Islamic Group's Books

December 17, 2021

KAZAN, Russia -- The Supreme Court of Russia's Republic of Tatarstan has rejected an appeal filed by Nakia Sharifullina, a noted teacher and founder of Islamic schools for girls, who was handed a suspended two-year sentence in August after being convicted of organizing the activities of a banned Islamic group.

Sharifullina's lawyer, Ruslan Nagiyev, told RFE/RL that the court handed down its decision on the appeal on December 17.

Sharifullina was charged in March 2020 after police found in her possession of several books by the founder of the Nurcular movement, Islamic scholar Said Nursi. She has rejected all of the charges, insisting that she did not use the books in her lessons.

The teacher was placed under house arrest for eight months at the time and later released on condition she would not leave the city.

Since 2013, several alleged members of Nurcular have been arrested across Russia.

Last month, a noted Islamic scholar in Tatarstan, Gabdrakhman Naumov, was sentenced to 6 1/2 years in prison after a court found him guilty of creating and running Nurcular's branch in the republic, which he and his supporters have denied.

Nurcular was founded in Turkey by Nursi, who died in 1960.

The Nurcular movement, which has millions of followers around the globe -- especially in Turkey -- has been banned in Russia since 2008.

Source: RFERL

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https://www.rferl.org/a/tatarstan-nurcular-teacher-sentence-banned/31614255.html?879447C6-D269-7F4F-BB36-FCF9AB0F2601_kav_cup_C6FA3ED5_6D17_47D1_B6E2_F4B02CC905E0_

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UK court rules in favour of Lebanese bank over transfers abroad

17 December ,2021

A British court ruled on Friday in favor of a Lebanese bank in a case brought by a depositor barred from transferring funds abroad because of capital controls in place since Lebanon’s financial system collapsed in 2019.

The court ruled that BLOM Bank could be considered to have discharged its debt to the plaintiff, Bilal Khalifeh, by issuing a cheque in Lebanon.

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Banks have imposed tight controls on accounts, including a de facto ban on transfers abroad and local withdrawals of dollar-denominated deposits in dollars, but the controls have been challenged in Lebanese and international courts.

Banks have sought to discharge dollar-denominated funds via banker’s cheques which cannot be cashed out in dollars and are instead sold on the market at a discount of about three-quarters of their value.

The ruling by London’s High Court of Justice, Queens Bench Division, said BLOM Bank was under no obligation to transfer some $1.4 million in Khalifeh’s savings abroad and could be considered to have discharged his account via a cheque deposited with a notary.

“The debt due from the Bank was payable in Lebanon and... Mr Khalifeh had no contractual right to require the Bank to transfer funds abroad,” it said.

Khalifeh told Reuters he would appeal the ruling.

In a separate case last month, a French court ordered Lebanon’s Saradar Bank to pay $2.8 million to a client residing in France, saying payment via cheque in Lebanon was not valid.

In that case, the documents opening the account were signed by the plaintiff in Paris. Khalifeh did so in Lebanon.

Source: Al Arabiya

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https://english.alarabiya.net/News/middle-east/2021/12/17/UK-court-rules-in-favor-of-Lebanese-bank-over-transfers-abroad-

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Arab World

 

UN: Lebanese crisis exposes children to abuse, exploitation

17 December ,2021

The UN children’s agency said Friday the number of cases of child abuse and exploitation it has handled in Lebanon has nearly doubled in the past year amid the Mideast country’s economic meltdown.

Lebanese are under enormous pressure as their country struggles with an unprecedented economic crisis, the worst in its history, with inflation and unemployment soaring and more than 80 percent percent of its population plunged into poverty.

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That has pushed parents to send their children to work and force their daughters into early marriage. Babies are increasingly being abandoned on the streets.

“I think it is not acceptable and it is preventable, and I think we can’t really use the excuse for political and financial crisis to justify this violation of rights,” said Najat Maala M’jid, the UN special representative on violence against children, who is currently visiting Lebanon.

“Despite ... the financial crisis, this is not to be seen as additional expenses but as an investment, and no, not (one for) tomorrow because the children are the present,” she told The Associated Press.

M’jid urged for laws to be reviewed to ensure protection, such as penalizing child marriage, and for social welfare to be extended to children and institutionalized.

“We all know what to do. So, the question is why we are not doing it,” she said, adding that she is meeting with Lebanese officials to press the urgency of the matter.

UNICEF estimates that one in every eight families in Lebanon send their children to work. Figures by UNICEF and national agencies show that 4 percent of Lebanese girls between the ages of 15 and 19 are married.

The situation is even more dire for the Syrian refugee communities living in Lebanon, estimated to be over 16 percent of Lebanon’s population of 6 million.

The number of Syrian refugee children who are working doubled between 2019 and 2021 to about 28,000, mostly boys, exposing them to abuse, exploitation and harsh working conditions. One in five Syrian girls between the ages of 15-19 in Lebanon is married.

These numbers are likely an underestimation of the growing phenomenon, according to UNICEF.

Source: Al Arabiya

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https://english.alarabiya.net/News/middle-east/2021/12/17/UN-Lebanese-crisis-exposes-children-to-abuse-exploitation

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Africa

 

‘Severe human rights violations’ on all sides of Ethiopia conflict: UN

17 December ,2021

All sides in the deepening conflict in northern Ethiopia region are committing “severe human rights violations,” the United Nations said on Friday, calling for them to pull back from their year-old war.

An estimated 5,000 to 7,000 people are detained, including nine UN staff, under a state of emergency and its “excessively broad provision” declared by the government last month, the UN Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights, Nada al-Nashif, said.

For the latest headlines, follow our Google News channel online or via the app.

“Many are detained incommunicado or in unknown locations. This is tantamount to enforced disappearance, and a matter of very grave alarm,” she told a special session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva.

Ethiopia’s ambassador to the council, Zenebe Kebede, did not comment directly on the accusations of detentions, but told the UN body it had failed to condemn what he said was a series of abuses by rebellious forces from the northern Tigray region.

“Ethiopia is being targeted and singled out at the Human Rights Council for defending a democratically elected government, the peace and the future of its people,” he said in a speech during the session.

Thousands of civilians have died and millions fled in the conflict between the federal government and the forces loyal to the Tigray People’s Liberation Front, which dominated Ethiopia’s ruling coalition for nearly 30 years.

The UN’s Al-Nashif told the council the latest arrests included 83 people detained by local forces this week in Guji zone of Oromia region, under the government’s state of emergency.

A further 1,500 people of Tigray and Gumuz ethnicity were reportedly detained last week in Asosa, Benishangul-Gumuz region, she added.

“I also deplore increasing hate speech and incitement to violence by federal and regional authorities, as well as other public figures, particularly targeted against Tigrayans and members of the Oromo community,” al-Nashif said.

The forum will consider a draft resolution brought by the European Union (EU) that condemns violations committed by all sides and, if adopted, would set up an international commission of rights experts on Ethiopia to investigate further and report back after a year.

Source: Al Arabiya

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://english.alarabiya.net/News/world/2021/12/17/-Severe-human-rights-violations-on-all-sides-of-Ethiopia-conflict-UN

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Tunisians call for ouster of president on anniversary of 2011 revolution

17 December 2021

Thousands of Tunisians have protested against Tunisia’s President Kais Saied in a demonstration marking the anniversary of a 2011 uprising, amid outrage over his seizure of power in July.

On Friday, demonstrators gathered in the center of the capital, Tunis, and chanted slogans such as "Freedom, freedom, the police state is over!" and "The people want the removal of the president!"

The protest, which took place amid heavy police presence, was the first since Monday, when Saied announced a road map extending the suspension of parliament until new elections in December next year and called for a referendum on constitutional reforms in July.

"It isn't a road map to exit the crisis, but to perpetuate the crisis," said protester Jawhar Ben Mubarak, a constitutional law expert and activist in "Citizens against the coup." Saied "abducted the country half a year ago and wants to abduct it for another year," he added.

On July 25, the president dismissed Prime Minister Hichem Mechichi and suspended parliament for 30 days, in a move denounced as a "coup" by the biggest political party Ennahda. The Tunisian president said at the time that his decision was meant to "save Tunisia, the state, and the Tunisian people," in the midst of growing public anger and protests against the government's handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Following his takeover, Saied dismissed several ministers and top officials, and announced a crackdown against corruption.

On September 29, Saied appointed Najla Bouden Romdhane, a little-known university professor, as the country's prime minister.

Saied's seizure of power initially appeared to win broad support among Tunisians amid an economic and the public health crisis, but it later caused growing opposition, even from major domestic players who were initially supportive.

Hundreds of Saied's supporters also took part in a rival protest in Tunis on Friday.

In Sidi Bouzid on Friday, hundreds of unemployed people also took to the streets, chanting "work, freedom, dignity, patriotism," a slogan of the 2011 uprising.

Source: Press TV

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https://www.presstv.ir/Detail/2021/12/17/672872/Tunisians-call-for-ouster-of-president-on-anniversary-of-2011-revolution

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UN rights forum orders investigation into abuses in Ethiopia

17 December 2021

The United Nations Human Rights Council has agreed to launch an international investigation into allegations of abuses by all sides in Ethiopia's Tigray conflict, amid warnings of looming generalized violence.

During an emergency meeting on Friday, the 47-member forum adopted a resolution, drafted by the European Union (EU), that calls for the establishment of "an international commission of human rights experts on Ethiopia" to probe alleged abuses, with 21 votes in favor and 15 against, and 11 abstentions.

The emergency meeting had been requested by the EU, and supported by more than 50 countries, to consider launching an international investigation into allegations of horrifying abuses in Tigray that include mass killings and sexual violence.

Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights Nada al-Nashif said during the meeting that the conflict — which erupted between the government of Ethiopia's Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and the Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF) rebels last year — could "escalate into generalized violence."

She added that the violence would have "major implications, not only for millions of people in Ethiopia, but also across the region."

On behalf of the EU, Slovenia's Ambassador to the UN in Geneva Anita Pipan said, "The gravity and scale of violations and atrocities committed against civilians by all sides, including sexual and gender-based violence and ethnic violence, is unacceptable."

Tigray has been the scene of conflict since November 2020, when Ethiopia's Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed sent troops there to topple the TPLF in response to attacks on army camps. The war in Tigray has killed thousands of people, displaced more than two million, and pushed hundreds of thousands into famine-like conditions due to a de facto humanitarian blockade on the northern region.

Last month, a joint probe by the UN rights office warned that possible war crimes and crimes against humanity had been committed by all sides during the conflict.

Since then, the UN's rights office, al-Nashif said, had continued "to receive credible reports of severe human rights violations and abuses by all parties."

Ethiopia decried the Friday session, saying that it had cooperated with the joint investigation and had launched its own probe. Ethiopia's ambassador, Zenebe Kebede, charged that the council was "being used as an instrument of political pressure," adding that multilateralism had been "hijacked by a neo-colonialist mentality."

In the debate, several countries stood against the requested investigation, with Cameroon's Ambassador Salomon Eheth insisting on behalf of African countries that the move would be "counterproductive and susceptible to exacerbating tensions."

Source: Press TV

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.presstv.ir/Detail/2021/12/17/672861/UN-rights-forum-orders-investigation-into-abuses-in-Ethiopia

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Pakistan

 

PM Imran Will Decide On Alliance with Tehreek-I-Labbaik Pakistan: Punjab Law Minister

December 18, 2021

LAHORE: Punjab Law Minister Muhammad Basharat Raja says any decision on political alliance with the Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan will be made by Prime Minister Imran Khan.

Responding to a question about his personal opinion on alliance with the TLP, he said: “There is no worth of personal opinion of an individual who is affiliated with a party and is a part of the cabinet. But he can say with clarity that any decision on the subject will be made by none other than Prime Minister Imran Khan.”

Mr Raja was talking to reporters at the Punjab Assembly on Friday and briefing them on the performance of the government regarding lawmaking.

He said the federal government was taking steps to bring back Nawaz Sharif from London where he had gone for his medical treatment in November last year. He said the former PM was involved in active politics while sitting in London but would pretend to be ailing when asked to return home.

Commenting on the Khanewal by-polls result, the law minister termed election a political game and that the PML-N won its own seat. He said the N-Leaguers would claim the win of the narrative of ‘Respect for Vote’ in case of victory but raise allegations of rigging in case of loss.

Source: Dawn

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https://www.dawn.com/news/1664479/pm-imran-will-decide-on-alliance-with-tlp-minister

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Pak minister threatens TV channels for airing allegations against PM Imran

Omer Farooq Khan

Dec 18, 2021

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan government has threatened the country’s broadcast media with legal action for reporting on allegations by former member of the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party that expenses of Prime Minister Imran Khan’s private palatial residence on hilltop in Islamabad were borne by party’s workers.

Earlier this week, a retired judge of Pakistan’s apex court, Wajihuddin Ahmed, who had resigned from the PTI in 2016, claimed that the now-estranged party leader Jahangir Tareen had been providing Rs 3 million every month for Khan to run his household.

The amount, Ahmed alleged during a TV interview, had been increased to Rs 5 million later.

According to Ahmed, the public perception of Imran Khan being an honest man was completely wrong. Tareen, in a posting on Twitter, however, denied the allegation.

Soon after its telecast, the interview went viral on social media and was subsequently picked up by mainstream media outlets.

“Some TV stations made a campaign out of Justice Wajihuddin Ahmed’s allegations,” said information minister Chaudhry Fawad Hussain, vowing that the government would pursue a case against all channels that had reported on Ahmed’s allegations without verification.

The minister further said that the government had also decided to file a “criminal defamation” suit against Ahmed for his allegations.

Appealing to the chief justice of Pakistan and the chief justices of all high courts to ensure that the respect of institutions was upheld, the minister suggested the formation of special division benches at district and high court levels to deal specifically with defamation cases.

Source: Times of India

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https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/pakistan/pak-minister-threatens-tv-channels-for-airing-allegations-against-pm-imran/articleshow/88348813.cms

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Capital to observe holidays till Monday under security for OIC meeting

Munawer Azeem

December 18, 2021

ISLAMABAD: The capital administration has declared a local holiday in Islamabad on Dec 18 and 20 as part of security for Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) meeting, sources told Dawn.

Besides, the administration also decided against suspending mobile phone services, the sources said.

Furthermore, all public and private educational institutions within Rawalpindi city will remain closed on Monday (Dec 20). However, this holiday notification will not apply to institutions located in the cantonment area.

Talking to journalists after attending a meeting in connection with security arrangements for delegates of the OIC Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed confirmed that the capital administration have declared a local holiday in the capital on Dec 18 and 20 .

Mobile phone services not to be suspended

He said after consultation with all attached departments of the ministry, including the police, Capital Development Authority (CDA) and armed forces, it was decided that mobile phone services in the capital will not be suspended. The decision was made after concerns about this were raised in the foreign media as suspension of mobile phone services would make it difficult to make contact with delegates, he added.

The minister further said that all departments were coordinating with each other and the best possible security services would be given to the visiting guests.

The prime minister will also be addressing participants of the conference.

Mr Ahmed also visited the Safe City Authority to attend a briefing about security arrangements for the conference.

Officials of the capital administration said a section of metro bus from Shaheed-i-Millat Secretariat to Pak Secretariat will remain closed from Dec 17 to 20 besides all hiking trails. This was mentioned in a notification issued from the office of Deputy Commissioner Mohammad Hamza Shafqaat.

In a similar move, the Cabinet Division declared Monday (Dec 20) as a local holiday in Islamabad on account of the OIC conference. A press release issued by the division stated that all federal ministries/divisions along with their attached departments and other organisations/offices of the federal government located in Islamabad shall also remain closed on Monday.

Source: Dawn

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https://www.dawn.com/news/1664385/capital-to-observe-holidays-till-monday-under-security-for-oic-meeting

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4 accused in Perween Rahman murder case awarded life imprisonment by Karachi anti-terrorism court

Naeem Sahoutara

December 17, 2021

An anti-terrorism court (ATC) in Karachi on Friday awarded life imprisonment on two counts to four accused in the murder case of renowned rights activist Perween Rahman, who was shot dead in the metropolis in 2013.

Five people had been charged in the high-profile murder case, namely Abdul Raheem Swati and his son Mohammad Imran Swati, and three co-accused – Ayaz Shamzai alias Swati, Amjad Hussain Khan and Ahmed Khan alias Pappu Kashmiri.

The judge of the ATC-VII sentenced Abdul Raheem Swati, Ahmed Khan, Amjad Hussain Khan and Ayaz Swati to life imprisonment. All five of the accused were fined Rs200,000.

The fifth accused, Imran Swati, was sentenced to seven years in prison and fined an additional Rs200,000.

The court had reserved its verdict on October 15 after recording the evidence and final arguments in the eight-year-long trial.

However, the pronouncement of the verdict was postponed after the prosecutor had moved an application on Oct 28 for framing an amended charge against the accused for hatching a conspiracy to kill Rahman. The court had dismissed the application on Nov 25.

The murder

Rahman, who was heading the Orangi Pilot Project (OPP) and had devoted her life to the development of impoverished neighbourhoods, was gunned down near her office in Orangi Town on March 13, 2013.

Initially, a case for her murder was registered under Sections 302 (premeditated murder) and 34 (common intention) of the Pakistan Penal Code at the Pirabad police station.

Later, Section 7 (punishment for acts of terrorism) of the Anti-Terrorism Act, 1997, was added to the first information report on the basis of a judicial inquiry conducted by then-district and sessions judge (west) Ghulam Mustafa Memon on the orders of the Supreme Court.

Source: Dawn

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https://www.dawn.com/news/1664346/4-accused-in-perween-rahman-murder-case-awarded-life-imprisonment-by-karachi-anti-terrorism-court

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Pakistan to enhance mutually beneficial multi-domain relations with EU: COAS

December 17, 2021

Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar on Friday said that Pakistan valued its relations with European Union (EU) countries and earnestly look forward to enhance mutually beneficial multi-domain relations based on common interests, the military said in a statement.

According to Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), the army chief expressed these remarks during a meeting with Czech Republic Ambassador in Pakistan Tomas Smetanka at General Headquarter (GHQ) in Rawalpindi.

During the meeting, the ISPR said, matters of mutual interest, regional security, current situation in Afghanistan and measures for collaboration in extending direly needed humanitarian assistance to Afghans were discussed.

The COAS said that Pakistan valued its relations with EU countries. “We earnestly look forward to enhance mutually beneficial multi-domain relations based on common interests.”

The ISPR said that the visiting dignitary appreciated Pakistan’s role in Afghan situation, efforts for regional stability and pledged to play his part for further improvement in diplomatic cooperation with Pakistan at all levels.

On November 19, Speaker of the Council of Representatives of Bahrain Fawzia Bint Abdullah Zainal called on the army chief and discussed the Afghan security situation besides matters of mutual interest.

Source: Pakistan Today

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https://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2021/12/17/pakistan-to-enhance-mutually-beneficial-multi-domain-relations-with-eu-coas/

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Islamabad to repatriate illegal Afghan nationals

December 17, 2021

ISLAMABAD: The federal government on Friday decided to repatriate Afghan and other foreign nationals, who are staying illegally in Pakistan.

Cources disclosed that recently Prime Minister Imran Khan has discussed the current situation in the neighbouring country, Afghanistan during a meeting where a decision has been taken to repatriate 300,000 illegal Afghan immigrants to their homeland.

Sources further said that the Afghan nationals whose visas have expired will be given three months’ time to go return to their country. The high-level meeting attended by the top civil and military leadership decided that Pakistan cannot further bear the burden of Afghan nationals and they have to go back to their homeland.

Earlier, Pakistan’s top civil, military leadership led by Prime Minister Imran Khan had agreed upon providing all-out assistance to Afghanistan on a humanitarian basis to save the country from any humanitarian disaster.

The decision was made in the apex committee meeting headed by Prime Minister Imran Khan and attended by Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa, federal ministers, and other senior civil and military leadership.

Source: Pakistan Today

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https://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2021/12/17/islamabad-to-repatriate-illegal-afghan-nationals/

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Katas Raj temples visit: Over 100 Hindu pilgrims arrive in Pakistan

December 17, 2021

LAHORE: Over 100 Hindu pilgrims on Friday arrived in Pakistan today through the Wagah border to perform their religious rituals at the Katas Raj temples.

The pilgrims have arrived in Pakistan on a seven-day visit visa issued by the Pakistan High Commission New Delhi, and they are scheduled to return on December 23 via the Wagah border.

The central ceremony will be held at Katas Raj temple on December 19, in which different political and religious leaders will participate.

All arrangements, including security, accommodation, and transportation of Hindu women have been completed.

Additional Secretary of Shrines at the Evacuee Trust Property Board (ETPB) Rana Shahid had said that all arrangements, including security and accommodation, had been completed on the directives of the federal government and the ETPB Chairman Dr Amir Ahmad.

The board’s security staff will remain with the pilgrims.

Source: Pakistan Today

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https://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2021/12/17/katas-raj-temples-visit-over-100-hindu-pilgrims-arrive-in-pakistan/

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US recognises Pakistan’s efforts to counter terrorism in 2020

December 17, 2021

The annual US report on terrorism has recognised Pakistan’s efforts in 2020 to counter terror financing and restrain Indian-backed militant groups from conducting attacks in Pakistan.

In the report, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken stated that Pakistan has made some important contributions to the Afghan peace process, such as encouraging the Taliban to adopt peace and reduce violence and making more progress toward completing its Financial Action Task Force (FATF) Action Plan in 2020.

However, the report stated that Pakistan did not fulfil all of the Action Plan’s elements and remained on the FATF’s “grey list”.

Despite acknowledging Pakistan’s efforts to combat terrorism in the region, the report claimed that terrorist groups continued to conduct attacks against Pakistani military and civilian targets in 2020.

Although Pakistan’s national action plan calls for ensuring that no armed militias are allowed to function in the country, several UN- and U.S.-designated terrorist groups that focus on attacks outside the country continued to operate from Pakistani soil in 2020, the report claimed, adding that the government and military acted inconsistently with respect to terrorist safe havens throughout the country.

“Authorities did not take sufficient action to dismantle certain terrorist groups,” it stated.

Appreciating Pakistan’s constructive and active role in the International Atomic Energy Agency-hosted meetings and in the Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism, the report noted: “Pakistan is committed to combating the trafficking of items that could contribute to the development of WMDs and their delivery systems.”

In a chapter titled “Support for Pakistan,” the report stated that the US urges Pakistan to dismantle terrorist groups within its territory while acknowledging Pakistan’s role in Afghanistan and broader regional security.

“The United States cooperates with Pakistan on counterterrorism operations, which has helped Pakistan reclaim parts of the country previously held by militant groups,” it reported, while claiming that designated terrorist groups continue to conduct attacks against Pakistani military and civilian targets.

“While Pakistan has taken some action against these designated terrorist organisations, some externally focused terrorist groups continue to find safe haven in Pakistan,” the report stated.

The chapter in the report further noted that the US has supported civilian law enforcement and the rule of law to help Pakistan disrupt transnational organised crime and terrorist networks and provide security and justice for Pakistani citizens.

The emphasis on sustainable development and capacity-building, and on leveraging trade and private sector investment where possible, encourages partnership and a long-term positive impact on the Pakistani people, the report stated. People-to-people exchanges, which largely shifted to virtual exchanges during COVID-19, helped promote mutual understanding and bilateral ties, it added.

Source: Pakistan Today

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https://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2021/12/17/us-recognises-pakistans-efforts-to-counter-terrorism-in-2020/

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South Asia

 

Bangladesh PM's Son Joy Denounces Islamist Jamaat-e-Islami Over 'Connivance' With Pak During Liberation War

17 December 2021

Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's information technology adviser, Sajeeb Wazed Joy came down heavily on Islamist political party Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) for its wartime brutalities and conspiracies geared towards strengthening the footing of Pakistan and wiping out the dream of freedom cherished by Bangladeshis.

Sajeeb Wazed Joy, who is also the son of Prime Minister Hasina, heavily criticized former Prime Minister Khaleda Zia for entrusting war criminals with the charge of ministries.

In a Facebook post from his verified account on Wednesday, he mentioned multiple anti-liberation activities Jamaat engaged in.

"As the Liberation War was drawing towards the end, the victory of the Bengali nation seemed to be a foregone conclusion. When the world was vocal against the atrocities committed by Pakistanis and in favour of freedom sought by Bengalis, Pakistanis hatched one last conspiracy," he added.

Joy said, "They took the initiative to take some Jamaat leaders to the UN council as the representatives of Bengalis. Their purpose was to resist the final victory of Bangladesh."

"When freedom fighters shook the footing of the Pakistani junta in November of 1971, Jamaat spokesperson and Muslim League leader Shah Azizur Rahman resorted to the UN to speak in favor of the Pakistani junta and against Bengalis. They lashed out at the freedom fighters without reservation," he wrote.

"Posing as a Bengali leader of Pakistan's political party, Shah Aziz denied the mass killing conducted by the armed forces of Pakistan in Bangladesh. Later, Ziaur Rahman, after grabbing the state power, made this person the prime minister," he added.

"Armed Al-Badr and Al-Shams, made by Niazi, assisted Pakistani soldiers on the warfield.

They were led by Ghulam Azam, Shah Aziz, Nizami, Mojaheed, and other top leaders of Jamaat and Shibir. Long after the independence of Bangladesh, Khaleda offered the charge of ministries to these commanders of rapists and killers after forming the government," Joy further said.

Condemning the conspiracies and strategic moves of Pakistanis during the Liberation War of Bangladesh, he said as the Liberation War was drawing towards the end, the victory of the Bengali nation seemed to be a foregone conclusion.

"When the world was vocal against the atrocities committed by Pakistanis and in favour of freedom sought by Bengalis, Pakistanis hatched one last conspiracy. They took the initiative to take some Jamaat leaders to the UN council as the representatives of Bengalis. Their purpose was to resist the final victory of Bangladesh."

"The US security apparatus became active to implement the conspiracy of Pakistanis. That is why they formed a right-wing sphere with Khondaker Mostaq Ahmad, Taheruddin Thakur, and Mahbub Alam Chashi.

Source: Catch News

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.catchnews.com/world/bangladesh-pm-s-son-denounces-islamist-party-over-connivance-with-pak-during-liberation-war-227626.html

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Taliban risk losing power without inclusive government in Afghanistan, warns Russia

Dec 17, 2021

A Russian diplomat on Friday said that the Taliban risk losing power in Afghanistan if they don’t form an inclusive government as promised during intra-Afghan peace talks in Doha before taking over the control of Kabul. Zamir Kabulov, the Kremlin's envoy to Afghanistan, said the Sunni Pashtun group has to ensure inclusiveness in power-sharing but clarified that it wasn’t an ultimatum, reported Russian news agency Sputnik.

"Ethnic political inclusiveness is needed. They might lose power in the near future if they keep acting like that. They will have to ensure inclusiveness. By the way, we say this without ultimatums, calmly - just do it. They will have to do it," Sputnik quoted Kabulov as saying.

The Taliban announced a Cabinet expansion in September insisting that the Sunni Pashtun group has opted for an inclusive government. But a closer look showed that the government remained dominated by Taliban officials, including members of the Haqqani network. The ethnic minorities were not given any significant posts and all induction were unknown faces. They also didn’t include a single woman in the Cabinet.

The international community has repeatedly called on the hardline Islamist group to share a greater fraction of the power pie with the member of ethnic minority communities such as Hazaras and Tajiks. It has not recognised the Taliban as countries around the world continue to monitor the actions of the Islamist fundamentalists on the human rights front as well as inclusiveness.

Kabulov said that the Afghan assets will be unfrozen if the outfit starts making concessions, noting that the assets frozen in Western nations are the resources of the Afghan people and not the funds of the Taliban. As Afghanistan is witnessing a serious humanitarian crisis, the Russian diplomat said Western countries should bear full financial responsibility for the situation.

When asked about the possibility of Russia providing a loan to the war-torn country, Kabulov said, "We can, of course, if (Russian) President (Vladimir Putin) decides. But you understand, have we got some extra money?”

Source: Hindustan Times

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.hindustantimes.com/world-news/taliban-risk-losing-power-without-inclusive-government-in-afghanistan-warns-russia-101639740378042.html

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Taliban reacts to UN’s decision over allowing Faiq assume PR seat

18 Dec 2021

Taliban reacted to the decision of the United Nations over allowing Naseer Ahmad Faiq to assume the seat of Afghanistan’s permanent representative at the UNGA and said the UN must not further deteriorate the issue.

Taliban’s nominee for UN Suhail Shaheen has told Radio Free of Afghanistan that the UN must act based on the principles of impartiality and allow him to assume the seat.

Suhail Shaheen added that the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan is ruling the entire country so the seat must necessarily be given to the envoy of IEA, not to someone who has no sovereignty nor is part of the ruling government in Afghanistan.

 “The UN must resolve the issue based on principle and do not allow the problem to further be worsened.” Added Shaheen.

Afghanistan’s permanent mission base in New York on Friday, December 17 in a press statement said that Naseer Ahmad Faiq will resume the post of Permanent Representative in the UN after Ghulam Muhammad Ishzaqzai resigned from the post.

Source: Khaama Press

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https://www.khaama.com/taliban-reacts-to-uns-decision-over-allowing-faiq-assume-pr-seat-96789/

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Pakistan to host OIC extraordinary session on Afghanistan on 19-Dec

18 Dec 2021

The Pakistan capital Islamabad will be hosting an extraordinary session of the Council of Foreign Ministers (CFM) of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation that will be concentrated on the humanitarian situation in Afghanistan.

The session in scheduled for Saturday, December 19, and representatives of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan have also been invited.

Foreign Ministers of the member states will discuss the means of providing humanitarian assistance to the Afghan people.

CFM will find solutions for the rapidly deteriorating humanitarian situation in Afghanistan, especially in terms of food shortages, displacement of people, and a potential economic collapse.

The 17th extraordinary CFM session is being convened at the initiative of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and to the session, the UN, International Financial Institutions, non-OIC member states, US, UK, China, Russia, Germany, Italy, Japan, and EU have also been invited.

Source: Khaama Press

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https://www.khaama.com/pakistan-to-host-oic-extraordinary-session-on-afghanistan-tomorrow-457457/

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UNSC extends term of team tracking sanctions against Taliban-linked outfits

December 18, 2021

The UN Security Council has decided to extend for 12 months the mandate of the team monitoring sanctions against individuals and entities associated with the Taliban, as well as other individuals, groups, undertakings and entities associated with the Taliban in constituting a threat to the peace, stability and security of Afghanistan.

Unanimously adopting Resolution 2611, the 15-member council directed the monitoring team to gather information on instances of non-compliance with the measures imposed in Resolution 2255, and to facilitate, upon request by member states, capacity-building assistance, Xinhua news agency reported.

It further directed the monitoring team to provide recommendations to the committee on actions taken to respond to non-compliance.

The council highlighted the importance of ensuring that the monitoring team receives the necessary support to effectively, safely and in a timely manner fulfil its mandate.

Source: Business Standard

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.business-standard.com/article/international/unsc-extends-term-of-team-tracking-sanctions-against-taliban-linked-outfits-121121800145_1.html

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Southeast Asia

 

'Strong passport, more practising Muslims': Zakir Naik on why he fled to Malaysia

December 17, 2021

Controversial Islamic preacher Zakir Naik has defended his decision to move to Malaysia after fleeing India in 2016. In a video uploaded on his Facebook page and YouTube channel on Wednesday, Naik extolled the purported virtues of Malaysia, calling it one of the “best Muslim countries” in the world.

Responding to a question, Naik denied he was absconding from India, where he faces charges of abetting terrorism and money laundering. Naik claimed he did Hijrah, the Islamic practice to flee to other places to avoid persecution.

Naik reiterated he was targeted unfairly by the BJP-led government in India.

Referring to Malaysia, Naik said, “Most of the Muslim countries in the world today have problems. Among the Muslim countries in the world... 50-60 [countries]... I feel Malaysia was the best.”

To support his argument on Malaysia being the “best” country, Zakir Naik gave multiple reasons.

The first reason Naik gave was Malaysia was away from war zones. Naik referred to the conflicts in Yemen and Syria to explain many Muslim countries were in war zones.

The second reason he gave was Malaysia was away from the “wrong influence” of the Western countries. “The Gulf countries and Muslim countries nearby and in Europe are under bad influence of the Western countries. Malaysia is away, there is very little influence of America and the Western countries,” Naik said.

Naik noted Malaysia has the “strongest passport among Muslim countries”. He claimed a Malaysian can travel to 185 countries without any visa. The 2021 Henley Passport Index, published in October, ranked Malaysia at 13th position, with its citizens being allowed to fly to 179 countries without visas.

Naik claimed that among “non-Arab Muslim countries”, the average Malaysian is “a more practising Muslim” than the average Indian or Pakistani Muslim. Naik claimed the number of Muslims going to mosques in India five times a day was “minute” while the percentage of people going to mosques in Malaysia was higher.

As a fifth reason, Naik said the federal religion in Malaysia was Islam. “You don't need to feel shy to call yourself a Muslim... there are many Muslim countries where you feel shy to call yourself a Muslim,” Naik argued, referring to “secular” governments in such countries.

Source: The Week

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.theweek.in/news/world/2021/12/17/strong-passport-more-practising-muslims-zakir-naik-on-why-he-fled-to-malaysia.html

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Sisters in Islam: Don’t gamble on the future of our children

18 Dec 2021

PETALING JAYA: The Federal Government’s decision to maintain the minimum marriage age for Muslim girls at 16 has courted flak from Sisters in Islam (SIS), which says that more efforts should be made to raise it to 18 through existing laws.

“The government should work hard to ensure the health, education, safety and welfare of all children and foster a Malaysian mentality that child marriage is irresponsible and will only ruin the future of children.

“Is the government gambling on the future of our children and young Malaysians by not taking care of their welfare and allowing child marriage to continue?” SIS questioned in a statement yesterday.

SIS took the government to task for what it called the lack of concerted efforts to raise the minimum age of marriage through existing federal laws.

“The government has failed to encourage states that have not yet agreed to do so. To date, only Selangor has amended the minimum age for Muslim marriage to 18,” it said.

On Thursday, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Religious Affairs) Idris Ahmad told the Dewan Rakyat that the number of underage marriages among Muslims dropped after the introduction of a strict standard operating procedure under the Syariah Courts.

He said that the government, via the Department of Islamic Development Malaysia (Jakim), had on Sept 22 this year taken the position that there was no need to amend the minimum legal marrying age from 16 to 18 years old.

However, he said the Syariah Judiciary Department had taken various steps to ensure that those who applied for underage marriage would have to undergo a strict review process to ensure the interest of all parties was protected.

SIS lambasted the minister for his statement that it said showed he had not read and was not sensitive towards the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women 1995 (Cedaw) and Convention on the Rights of the Child 1994 (CRC), which guarantee and protect the rights of women and children in Malaysia.

Meanwhile, SIS pointed out that Malaysia was currently the worst performer among Asean countries in the Global Gender Gap Report 2021.

Source: The Star

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.thestar.com.my/news/nation/2021/12/18/sisters-in-islam-dont-gamble-on-the-future-of-our-children

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Mideast

 

Iran's Top Negotiator: Negotiations to Continue after Few Days Break

2021-December-17

"We have made good progress this week. We will convene a Joint Commission today & will continue talks after a break of a few days," Baqeri Kani tweeted.

"Following our consultations with other delegations, yesterday, @enriquemora & I met to take stock of the situation & discuss the way forward," he added.

A source close to the ongoing talks between Iran and the world powers in Vienna said on Thursday that negotiations are progressing but at a slow pace, adding that Europeans have finally accepted working on a third text that includes Iran's demands already raised in the new drafts presented in the new round of talks under President Rayeesi.

"While the Europeans initially rejected Iran's drafts on sanctions and nuclear measures and considered only drafts from the previous six rounds of negotiations as the basis for continued negotiations, they finally agreed to use a third text as a basis," the source told FNA.

"The new text will be prepared and worked on from a combination of the first text and the addition of Iran's proposals," the source added.

The source also said that talks on the third text are going on in the working groups, adding, "Currently, four of the five working groups are active, and negotiations are underway by expert committees."

"Although the negotiations process is slow, they are going on," the source said.

The source added that the trend shows that the Americans, despite setting a deadline and putting pressures feel forced to continue talks.

"Both the Europeans and the US on the whole are in relative interaction in the negotiating atmosphere, but they lead the (media) reports towards the opposite way to display that the negotiations are not moving forward and blame Iran for it."

Baqeri Kani said on Wednesday that if all sides participating in the Vienna talks show seriousness, progress will be possible.

Baqeri Kani in a tweet presented a brief report on the talks held earlier in the day in Vienna on securing a removal of the US sanctions on Iran and a subsequent revitalization of the nuclear deal, officially called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

"Talks continue intensively, both by experts and top negotiators. Today I exchanged views w heads of delegations of UK, France, Germany, Russia, China, and EU," he said.

Baqeri Kani said that "our experts also continue working on texts".

"The last few days showed if everyone engages seriously, progress is possible," he underlined.

Baqeri Kani on Tuesday had advised the western parties involved in the negotiations to set aside “blame game” and engage in real diplomacy with Iran.

Echoing Tehran’s concerns over the Europeans’ unconstructive positions, Russia’s lead negotiator Mikhail Ulyanov likewise expressed surprise over the “illogical” stances adopted by the European trio, saying Moscow cannot back such “destructive” stances since they do not match its understanding of diplomacy.

Baqeri Kani also lashed out at the US for imposing new sanctions against Tehran amid the Vienna talks, saying that Washington should clarify reasons behind such contradictory behavior.

“We believe this is a contradictory and double-sided behavior by the US government. We believe that [President Joe] Biden administration should explain about such contradictions,” Baqeri Kani said, in reaction to the latest round of US sanctions against Iran.

Last week, the US Treasury and State Department announced sanctions against a dozen Iranian government officials and organizations over accusations of human rights abuses.

The process of “serious and meaningful negotiations” on the removal of anti-Iran sanctions has not yet started, Baqeri Kani said.

“Of course, several drafts have been exchanged between the two sides. But what is clear and what is significant is that, from our point of view, the sanctions, which are in contradiction and inconsistent with the JCPOA (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action), need to be removed immediately. These sanctions have been imposed either during the Obama, Trump, or Biden administrations. All of them need to be removed,” he added.

Elsewhere in his remarks, Baqeri Kani said the Israeli regime is frantically trying to poison the atmosphere of the ongoing Vienna talks and is pursuing negative, non-constructive, and destructive measures both at the venue of the negotiations and outside.

He said that Iran is doing nothing covert when it comes to its nuclear activities and the Islamic Republic’s atomic program is operating fully within the framework of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) as well as the Comprehensive Safeguards Agreement (CSA).

Iran has no problem reversing the remedial measures that it has taken once the Americans remove the sanctions against Iran, the Iranian diplomat said.

“All the nuclear activities of Iran are being undertaken within the framework of the NPT and the Safeguards Agreement. The activities are comprehensively being inspected by IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) authorities. Iran does not have any secret nuclear activities,” he said.

“Iran’s nuclear activities are exactly compatible with the JCPOA as paragraphs 26 and 36 of the deal entitle Iran, either wholly or partially, to suspend its activities if another party fails to fulfill its commitments. We have announced earlier and reiterated that our reactions are remedial.

“We started our nuclear activities one year after the United States pulled out of the nuclear agreement. When the Americans remove the illegal sanctions against Iran grounds will be paved for Iran to stop its remedial activities,” Baqeri Kani noted.

Iran’s top nuclear negotiator also stressed that there are several bones of contention between the two sides in the current talks concerning guarantees by the US that it will not leave the deal again and Iran’s verification of Washington’s sanctions removal, over which there still remains a host of differences.

“I believe that if the other party demonstrates serious determination and practical preparedness in order to fulfill all its obligations within the framework of the JCPOA, we would then be able to reach a mutually agreed deal within a short span of time,” Baqeri Kani said.

Baqeri Kani had also on Monday criticized the world powers participating in the Vienna talks, aimed at removal of sanctions against Tehran, for playing a blame game, saying that diplomacy is a two-way road.

"Some actors persist in their blame game habit, instead of real diplomacy," Baqeri Kani wrote on his twitter page.

"We proposed our ideas early, and worked constructively and flexibly to narrow gaps; diplomacy is a 2-way street. If there's a real will to remedy the culprit's wrongdoing, the way for a quick good deal will be paved," he added.

Baqeri Kani had also on Sunday said that the world powers participating in the Vienna talks have not presented any initiative or proposal yet.

Removal of the illegal and cruel US sanctions and Iran’s nuclear activities are two main sticking points in the current talks over which there still remains a host of differences between the two sides, Baqeri Kani said.

The Iranian diplomat added that despite this situation, Iran’s delegation has informed the opposite side of its views on differential points through modifications and proposals that it has offered the opposite party.

“When it comes to these points of difference, we have so far received no proposal and initiative from the opposite side,” Baqeri Kani said.

Iran’s lead negotiator further stated that the removal of the illegal and cruel US sanctions and Iran’s nuclear measures are the most important bones of contention between the two sides during Vienna talks over which many differences still remain unresolved.

“...These differences are clearly visible in the final draft that was achieved following the sixth round of talks in Vienna… The differences, specially on the nuclear issue, are numerous and varied.”

Baqeri Kani noted that during past few days, many sessions have been held both at the expert level and among chief negotiators to discuss modifications, viewpoints, and proposals offered by the Iranian side, which had been applied to the text of drafts drawn up during the sixth round of Vienna talks.

Iran and the five remaining parties (Russia, China, Britain and France plus Germany) to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) began the talks in the Austrian capital in April with the aim of removing Washington’s unlawful sanctions after the US voiced interest to return to the agreement.

Source: Fars News Agency

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.farsnews.ir/en/news/14000926000281/Iran's-Tp-Negiar-Negiains-Cnine-afer-Few-Days-Break

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Expert: Balance of Vienna Talks Leaning towards Iranian Logic

2021-December-16

"In the past, too much trust in the West (US and European) resulted in non-implementation of the nuclear deal and failure to meet the Iranian people's interests and effective removal of sanctions," Massoud Barati said on Wednesday.

"Today, the Iranian negotiating team is highly careful so that the bitter experience of the past will not be repeated and people do not feel harmed," he added.

Barati noted that during the negotiations, each side is trying to advance them based on its demands, saying that the Iranian side has a very clear and unambiguous logic.

"The country that suffered from non-implementation of the agreement was Iran, while, according to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Iran fully fulfilled its undertakings and therefore it is serious about reaching a good agreement," Barati said.

He noted that the US is attempting to attain its goals through psychological operations, media hype and playing a blame game against the Iranian side, adding, "The fact is that the US is not in a position to launch such games, as it has pulled out of the agreement."

"In my opinion, the negotiations are moving towards the domination of Iran's logic because the Iranian logic is a clear logic," Barati underlined.

He added that Iran's top negotiator Ali Baqeri Kani clearly explained Iran's logic which is quite solid and defensible as it is based on Iran's experience with the implementation of the 2015 nuclear deal.

Baqeri Kani on Tuesday, reiterated his country’s position on the necessity for lifting all sanctions against Tehran, calling for the world powers’ seriousness in Vienna talks.

If the other side has a serious will and practical readiness to comply with all of its undertakings under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), an agreement will be reached and it will be accepted by the two sides within a short period of time, Baqeri Kani said.

Iran's highest priority in the Vienna talks is to remove all unlawful and outrageous sanctions imposed against the Iranian nation over the past years, he added.

The sanctions imposed and re-imposed against Iran have violated international laws and regulations as well as international principles, Baqeri Kani said, adding that the imposed sanctions are inconsistent with the JCPOA and the UN Security Council Resolution 2231.

Any sanctions that violate the JCPOA should be lifted immediately, whether they were imposed under Obama or Trump or Biden, all of them should be removed, he said, adding that this includes all sanctions related to the JCPOA.

In addition to the Islamic Republic of Iran, the G4+1 countries and even the new US administration all agree on this, acknowledging that the previous US administration took unlawful action to exit from the JCPOA, which is why the Biden administration wants to return to the 2015 deal, he underlined.

Asked about the contradictory behaviors and positions of Joe Biden's administration, which is imposing new sanctions during negotiations despite expressing a desire to return to the JCPOA, Baqeri Kani said that this is a contradictory and double standard policy of the US.

The US government should explain their behavior, he stated, adding that the serious process of negotiations to lift sanctions has not yet started on the issue of lifting sanctions.

Commenting on western and Zionist regime allies' claims about the nature of Iran's nuclear program, Baqeri Kani said that all of Iran's nuclear activities are carried out within the framework of the NPT and safeguards agreements.

All of Iran's nuclear activities are comprehensively subject to IAEA inspections, he said, noting that Iran has no secret nuclear activities.

Also on Tuesday, Baqeri Kani lashed out at the US for imposing new sanctions against Tehran amid the Vienna talks, saying that Washington should clarify reasons behind such contradictory behavior.

“We believe this is a contradictory and double-sided behavior by the US government. We believe that [President Joe] Biden administration should explain about such contradictions,” Baqeri Kani said, in reaction to the latest round of US sanctions against Iran.

Last week, the US Treasury and State Department announced sanctions against a dozen Iranian government officials and organizations over accusations of human rights abuses.

The process of “serious and meaningful negotiations” on the removal of anti-Iran sanctions has not yet started, Baqeri Kani said.

“Of course, several drafts have been exchanged between the two sides. But what is clear and what is significant is that, from our point of view, the sanctions, which are in contradiction and inconsistent with the JCPOA (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action), need to be removed immediately. These sanctions have been imposed either during the Obama, Trump, or Biden administrations. All of them need to be removed,” he added.

Elsewhere in his remarks, Baqeri Kani said the Israeli regime is frantically trying to poison the atmosphere of the ongoing Vienna talks and is pursuing negative, non-constructive, and destructive measures both at the venue of the negotiations and outside.

He said that Iran is doing nothing covert when it comes to its nuclear activities and the Islamic Republic’s atomic program is operating fully within the framework of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) as well as the Comprehensive Safeguards Agreement (CSA).

Iran has no problem reversing the remedial measures that it has taken once the Americans remove the sanctions against Iran, the Iranian diplomat said.

“All the nuclear activities of Iran are being undertaken within the framework of the NPT and the Safeguards Agreement. The activities are comprehensively being inspected by IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) authorities. Iran does not have any secret nuclear activities,” he said.

“Iran’s nuclear activities are exactly compatible with the JCPOA as paragraphs 26 and 36 of the deal entitle Iran, either wholly or partially, to suspend its activities if another party fails to fulfill its commitments. We have announced earlier and reiterated that our reactions are remedial.

“We started our nuclear activities one year after the United States pulled out of the nuclear agreement. When the Americans remove the illegal sanctions against Iran grounds will be paved for Iran to stop its remedial activities,” Baqeri Kani noted.

Iran’s top nuclear negotiator also stressed that there are several bones of contention between the two sides in the current talks concerning guarantees by the US that it will not leave the deal again and Iran’s verification of Washington’s sanctions removal, over which there still remains a host of differences.

“I believe that if the other party demonstrates serious determination and practical preparedness in order to fulfill all its obligations within the framework of the JCPOA, we would then be able to reach a mutually agreed deal within a short span of time,” Baqeri Kani said.

Baqeri Kani had also on Monday criticized the world powers participating in the Vienna talks, aimed at removal of sanctions against Tehran, for playing a blame game, saying that diplomacy is a two-way road.

"Some actors persist in their blame game habit, instead of real diplomacy," Baqeri Kani wrote on his twitter page.

"We proposed our ideas early, and worked constructively and flexibly to narrow gaps; diplomacy is a 2-way street. If there's a real will to remedy the culprit's wrongdoing, the way for a quick good deal will be paved," he added.

Baqeri Kani had also on Sunday said that the world powers participating in the Vienna talks have not presented any initiative or proposal yet.

Removal of the illegal and cruel US sanctions and Iran’s nuclear activities are two main sticking points in the current talks over which there still remains a host of differences between the two sides, Baqeri Kani said.

The Iranian diplomat added that despite this situation, Iran’s delegation has informed the opposite side of its views on differential points through modifications and proposals that it has offered the opposite party.

“When it comes to these points of difference, we have so far received no proposal and initiative from the opposite side,” Baqeri Kani said.

Iran’s lead negotiator further stated that the removal of the illegal and cruel US sanctions and Iran’s nuclear measures are the most important bones of contention between the two sides during Vienna talks over which many differences still remain unresolved.

“...These differences are clearly visible in the final draft that was achieved following the sixth round of talks in Vienna… The differences, specially on the nuclear issue, are numerous and varied.”

Baqeri Kani noted that during past few days, many sessions have been held both at the expert level and among chief negotiators to discuss modifications, viewpoints, and proposals offered by the Iranian side, which had been applied to the text of drafts drawn up during the sixth round of Vienna talks.

Iran and the five remaining parties (Russia, China, Britain and France plus Germany) to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) began the talks in the Austrian capital in April with the aim of removing Washington’s unlawful sanctions after the US voiced interest to return to the agreement.

Source: Fars News Agency

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.farsnews.ir/en/news/14000925000363/Exper-Balance-f-Vienna-Talks-Leaning-wards-Iranian-Lgic

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Latest round of nuclear talks ‘worse than they should have been’: Senior US diplomat

18 December ,2021

The seventh round of indirect talks between the US and Iran on the 2015 nuclear deal was “better than it might have been, but worse than it should have been,” a senior State Department official said Friday.

“But I also caution that we should curb enthusiasm because we’re now at best where we were last June,” the official, speaking on condition of anonymity, told reporters.

The official also expressed surprise that Iran chose to suspend the talks on Friday, held in Vienna.

“Regardless of whatever progress was made, the pace at which we are moving” is not sufficient, the official added.

Nevertheless, the official said, again, that the US was prepared to continue negotiations to reach a deal.

“The choice really is in Iran’s hands whether it chooses to accelerate its program or… whether it chooses to negotiate seriously and realistically,” the official said.

Earlier, European officials and the European Union envoy Enrique Mora said time was running out on reaching a deal to reactivate the JCPOA.

And Germany, France and the United Kingdom also expressed their disappointment after Iran asked to adjourn the latest round of talks on Friday.

“There has been some technical progress in the last 24 hours, but this only takes us back nearer to where the talks stood in June,” they said, referring to the monthslong stalling by Iran after they elected a new president.

Source: Al Arabiya

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://english.alarabiya.net/News/middle-east/2021/12/18/Latest-round-of-nuclear-talks-worse-than-they-should-have-been-Senior-US-diplomat-

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IAEA chief Grossi has doubts that Iran surveillance camera’s footage vanished

17 December ,2021

The United Nations atomic watchdog has doubts that footage from a surveillance camera at an Iranian centrifuge-parts workshop is missing after an apparent attack there in June, even though Iran has not produced it, the agency’s head said on Friday.

The issue was not addressed by an agreement between Iran and the International Atomic Energy Agency on Wednesday to let the IAEA re-install cameras at the Karaj workshop that Iran removed after the apparent attack, which Tehran blames on Israel.

The agreement should end a months-long standoff over IAEA access there.

One of four IAEA cameras at Karaj was destroyed in the June incident. Iran removed all four cameras and showed them to the IAEA, but the destroyed camera’s data storage device was not included. The IAEA and Western powers have been asking Iran to explain, unsuccessfully so far.

“We have doubts about that and this is why we are asking, ‘Where is it?’” IAEA head Rafael Grossi told a news conference when asked if it was credible that the footage simply vanished.

“I am hopeful that they are going to come up with an answer because it’s very strange that it disappears.”

The agreement on Karaj avoided a diplomatic escalation that threatened to scupper wider talks on rescuing the 2015 Iran nuclear deal.

The cameras are aimed at verifying Iran is not secretly siphoning off the parts for uranium-enriching centrifuges that are made there, but the footage will remain under seal in Iran, so the IAEA cannot view it for now, as has been the case at various locations since February.

Source: Al Arabiya

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://english.alarabiya.net/News/middle-east/2021/12/17/IAEA-chief-Grossi-has-doubts-that-Iran-surveillance-camera-s-footage-vanished

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Israeli settlers attack Palestinian villages in northern West Bank

Awad al-Rujoub

17.12.2021

RAMALLAH, Palestine

Israeli settlers on Friday attacked several Palestinian villages near Nablus city in northern occupied West Bank.

Speaking to Anadolu Agency, Jihad Salah, the head of Burqa village council in northwestern Nablus, said the settlers assaulted the village using firearms.

He added that they set the village's barracks on fire and stoned a number of Palestinian homes.

Meanwhile, the Palestinian Wafa news agency said the settlers attacked Sebastia town, north Nablus, and smashed a number of Palestinian-owned vehicles and a car maintenance workshop.

A group of settlers also attacked a house in Qaryut village, south Nablus, and vandalized its properties.

Sameha Ghefari, a local resident, told Anadolu Agency that her husband, Wael Muqbel, 65, was assaulted in Qaryut village and was taken to a hospital in Nablus.

Late on Thursday, an Israeli settler was killed and two others wounded in a shooting near the Homesh outpost near Nablus.

Earlier this week, Israeli rights group Peace Now said there was an increase in violence by Israeli settlers against Palestinians and their properties.

Source: Anadolu Agency

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/middle-east/israeli-settlers-attack-palestinian-villages-in-northern-west-bank/2450233

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Palestine calls for prompt international intervention to stop settler 'terrorism'

18 December 2021

The Palestinian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates has called upon the international community to intervene immediately, and to pressure the occupying Israeli regime into stopping "acts of terrorism" committed by extremist settlers against Palestinians and their communities.

The ministry, in a statement, urged UN Secretary-General António Guterres to promptly activate the international protection system for Palestinian civilians under the Israeli occupation.

It said it is gravely concerned about the rise in systematic attacks by Israeli settlers on Palestinians, especially in the northern West Bank villages of Qaryout and Burqa as well as in Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of occupied East al-Quds, which have left dozens of people injured.

The ministry held the regime of extremist Israeli prime minister Naftali Bennett fully and directly responsible for settler violence and terror, and warned against the dangerous repercussions of their acts on the status of the region.

Additionally, the Palestinian presidency called on the international community to swiftly put an end to Israeli settlers’ terrorism against the defenseless Palestinians.

It stressed that Israeli authorities are encouraging and protecting settler violence, which is soaring on a daily basis.

It said stability will not prevail as long as Palestinians do not enjoy calm, adding the current situation will keep the Middle East region in a cycle of violence.

Dozens of extremist Israeli settlers raided Qaryout village southeast of Nablus early Friday, injuring several Palestinians and causing material damage.

Ghassan Daghlas, who monitors Israeli settlement activities in the northern West Bank, said the settlers broke into many homes in the town, and assaulted local families.

Scores of Palestinians were injured in the process, who were moved to several hospitals in Nablus.

Source: Press TV

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.presstv.ir/Detail/2021/12/18/672887/Palestine-calls-for-prompt-international-intervention-to-stop-settler-terrorism

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Over 50 Saudi-backed pro-Hadi commanders killed while fighting Yemeni forces over Ma’rib control

17 December 2021

More than 50 high-ranking Saudi-backed militant commanders loyal to former Yemeni president Abd Rabbuh Mansour Hadi have reportedly been killed while fighting Yemeni army troops and their allies over the control of the country’s strategic oil-producing province of Ma’rib.

Yemen's al-Khabar al-Yemeni news website, citing informed sources who preferred not to be named, reported that Ma'rib province has witnessed intense clashes between Yemeni army soldiers and fighters from Popular Committees on one side and Saudi-backed militants on the other over the past few weeks.

The report added that the Yemeni forces and their allies are slowly but steadily making progress, due to the geographical features of the region and heavy deployment of troops and military equipment by the Saudi-led coalition.

The sources highlighted that Ma’rib, al-Thaqba and al-Aswadah districts are now the scenes of pro-Hadi commanders getting killed one after another, and now fear and anxiety have increased among Saudi mercenaries as the Yemeni armed forces have launched fierce battles against them.

Al-Khabar al-Yemeni went on to say that intelligence forces of the Sana’a government have managed to infiltrate into the military and security circles of Saudi-backed Hadi loyalists, monitor all movements of commanders and obtain sensitive information out of their meetings.

According to sources affiliated with the Saudi-led coalition, at least 53 pro-Hadi commanders have been killed in Ma'rib province in recent months.

On December 13, Major General Nasser al-Zubiani, who headed military operations for pro-Hadi forces, died while leading battles against Yemeni soldiers and fighters from the Popular Committees in the Balaq mountain range, south of Ma’rib city.

Saudi Arabia, backed by the United States and regional allies, launched the war on Yemen in March 2015, with the goal of bringing Hadi’s government back to power and crushing the popular Ansarullah resistance movement.

The war has left hundreds of thousands of Yemenis dead, and displaced millions more. It has also destroyed Yemen’s infrastructure and spread famine and infectious diseases there.

Source: Press TV

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.presstv.ir/Detail/2021/12/17/672849/Over-50-Saudi-backed-pro-Hadi-commanders-killed-while-fighting-Yemeni-forces-over-Ma%E2%80%99rib-control

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