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Islamic World News ( 16 Sept 2016, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Guantanamo Prisoner Says Saudi 'Royal' Involved In Terrorism















Nov. 21, 2013: Dawn arrives at the now closed Camp X-Ray, which was used as the first detention facility for Al Qaeda and Taliban militants who were captured after the Sept. 11 attacks, at the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base, Cuba. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak, File)  (The Associated Press)

 

U.S. Seeks to Prevent Islamic State from Looting, Selling or Destroying Antiquities

Philippine Militants 'Hungry' For Caliphate, Says Duterte

 

Arab World

Guantanamo Prisoner Says Saudi 'Royal' Involved In Terrorism

Saudi Arabia Begging Bahrain for Reinforcement to Fight Ansarullah in Border Regions

Syrian Army Fends off ISIL Offensives near Kuweires Airbase

Iraq's Hashd Al-Shaabi Repels ISIL's Attacks in Anbar Province

Iranian Ground Force Using Drones for Missions in Remote Areas

Iranian Judiciary Chief: No Difference between US Democrats, Republicans

Yemeni Army Destroys Saudi Arabia's Spying Aircraft, Military Vehicle in Najran Province

Saudi Arabia's Western Coast within Yemen's Fire Range

Iranian Missiles Capable of Responding All Threats

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North America

U.S. Seeks to Prevent Islamic State from Looting, Selling or Destroying Antiquities

Muslims Are Most Disliked Group In America, Says New Study

3 In 10 American Catholics Hold Unfavourable Views toward Muslims, Says New Study

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Southeast Asia

Philippine Militants 'Hungry' For Caliphate, Says Duterte

No Islamic State Threats in Penang, Says Police

America loves Muslim food - so much for a clash of civilizations

Myanmar leader says Rakhine commission will help heal wounds

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South Asia

ISIS Failed To Establish Khurasan Province in Afghanistan

Karzai Calls On Taliban to Be Free From Pakistani Intelligence, Military

Peace deal with Hezb-e-Islami to be signed in 2 to 3 days: officials

Afghan forces receive 4 MD-530 light attack helicopters in North

Boiler blast at Bangladesh factory kills at least 21

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Africa

Military Says Latest Boko Haram Video Is a Fake, ‘Complete Joke’

If Buhari Contests, He Will Win Again – Ahmadu Ali

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India

Hindus Are Indeed Tolerant, but Majoritarianism Is Self-Defeating

13 Muslim Youths Get 5 Year Term for Terrorist Activities

India Slams Pakistan’s ‘Deep State’ As Both Face off over Kashmir at UN

Beef Export Rose by Two-And-A-Half Times under Modi Govt: Uttar Pradesh Minister

Hindu-Muslim couple found killed in Thane

India Willing To Share Mumbai Attack Evidence with Pakistan

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Mideast

Two Soldiers Killed, Four Wounded In Clashes with PKK in Eastern Turkey

New Satellite to Launch Later This Year, Contribute to Turkey’s Terror Fight

Cyprus deal possible in 90 days: Akıncı

Turkey key to solving Europe’s problems: Turkish parliament speaker

US Special Forces join Turkish troops in al-Rai

Government completes removal of military units from city centres after failed coup

Merkel criticizes Turkey over press freedom

Turkey detains four over suspected plot against British, German missions

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Pakistan

Curfew in Mohmand As Suicide Attack Death Toll Rises To 30

Rights Group Urges Pakistan Not To Hang Mentally Ill Man

Electronic media turns a blind eye to Mohmand mosque attack

Under pressure, Punjab undecided about Rangers powers

MQM's Khawaja Izhar is called chief of target killers: SSP Rao Anwar

Pakistan 'disappointed' over Afghan leadership's behaviour: Foreign Office

Pakistan may be building new nuclear sites: Western defence experts

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Europe

Fight against Terror Is Not a Clash of Civilizations, Says EU Parliament Speaker

Terrorism in the West: More lethal, more random, less likely

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau

URL: http://www.newageislam.com/islamic-world-news/new-age-islam-news-bureau/guantanamo-prisoner-says-saudi--royal--involved-in-terrorism/d/108588

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Guantanamo prisoner says Saudi 'royal' involved in terrorism

September 17, 2016

MIAMI: An accused Al Qaeda bomb-maker who went to college in Arizona told military officials at the US base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, that he believed an unnamed member of the Saudi royal family was part of an effort to recruit him for violent extremist acts before the Sept 11, 2001, attacks, according to a newly released transcript.

Ghassan Abdallah al-Sharbi said a religious figure in Saudi Arabia used the term "your highness" during a telephone conversation with a man, just before urging al-Sharbi to return to the US and take part in a plot against the US that would involve learning to fly a plane.

The Sept 11 commission found there was no evidence to indicate that the Saudi government as an institution or Saudi senior officials individually had supported the attacks, and the kingdom's government has consistently denied it had any role in the plot.

It was early 2001, and al-Sharbi had only recently returned from the United States, where he had taken some flight school courses in Phoenix with two men who would become hijackers in the 9/11 attacks.

Al-Sharbi described the conversation in June to the Periodic Review Board, which assesses whether Guantanamo prisoners can be released.

The Pentagon on Thursday posted a transcript, with parts blacked out, on the website of the board, which includes representatives from six US agencies and departments.

The statement is convoluted and lacks important details, such as whether the "religious figure" might be close to any Saudi officials.

It does not indicate who the Saudi royal might be. The term can be used for thousands of members of the Saudi royal family; al-Sharbi did not say he met the man.

Al-Sharbi also appears to be struggling with illness. He tells the board he had just come from the detainee hospital, is "really exhausted, and nauseous and lethargic", and uses what is described as a "manual breathing device".

His statement adds to a list of suggestive but hardly definitive clues about possible involvement by members of the Saudi establishment in the Sept 11 attacks, in which 17 of the 19 hijackers were Saudi.

The Saudi Embassy in Washington declined to comment on the al-Sharbi transcript.

In the past, the Saudis have pointed to the 9/11 Commission, FBI investigations and other probes that found no Saudi government or royal family involvement in the attacks. Those denials have not ended speculation about possible Saudi involvement.

Congress recently approved legislation that would allow 9/11 families to sue the kingdom for any role in the plot. Al-Sharbi says he listened as the "religious figure" spoke to the man whom al-Sharbi believes was a royal as they discussed al-Sharbi's qualifications for returning to the US for jihad.

"I remember, 'yes, your highness, yes your highness,' and he was talking to him about me," al-Sharbi said.

Full report at: dawn.com/news/1284336/guantanamo-prisoner-says-saudi-royal-involved-in-terrorism

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U.S. Seeks to Prevent Islamic State From Looting, Selling or Destroying Antiquities

Sep 16, 2016

Islamic State’s operations involve more than murder, mayhem and destruction of valuable artifacts in the Middle East. The group is also profiting from looted antiquities.

United States officials are redoubling their efforts to protect ancient works of art. In a congressional briefing in Washington, D.C., on Sept. 8, professors and government representatives including State Department officials gathered to discuss the security of Middle East antiquities. While Islamic State is known to destroy large cultural antiquities to attract media attention (such as the public destruction of the Temple of Bel in Syria), the group also engages in the trafficking of antiquities to fund its operations.

Stopping the problem has been a challenge.

From The New York Times in January:

The police raid [in Shumen, Bulgaria,] last March [2015] was heralded as a rare success against the trafficking of antiquities, a crime that reached new levels as the Islamic State militant group took control of parts of Syria and Iraq, and destroyed and looted ancient sites. Yet it also highlighted the barriers that, dozens of art experts and officials in the United States and Europe say, hamper the fight against the illicit trade.

Laws around the world are weak and inconsistent, and customs enforcement can screen only a portion of what crosses international borders, according to officials and experts in trafficking. Long-established smuggling organizations are practiced in getting the goods to people willing to pay for them, and patient enough to stash ancient artifacts in warehouses until scrutiny dies down. Despite a near-universal outcry over Islamic State’s actions, few countries have shown interest in imposing new restrictions to curb the booming trade in antiquities, estimated to be worth billions of dollars a year.

Full report at:truthdig.com/eartotheground/item/us_wants_to_prevent_islamic_state_from_looting_destruction_and_trafficki

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Philippine militants 'hungry' for caliphate, says Duterte

September 17, 2016

Manila (AFP) - Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte said Saturday Abu Sayyaf Islamic militants were hungry to establish a caliphate, as he toughens his stance on the kidnap-for-ransom group accused of a deadly bombing in his home city this month.

The fiery leader, who has threatened to eat the militants alive in a bloodthirsty vow of revenge for the attack in Davao that killed 15 people, said the group was no longer just after money from criminal activities.

Several units of the Abu Sayyaf in the strife-torn southern Philippines have pledged allegiance to the Islamic State group but analysts have said they are more interested in funding than ideology.

"They are hungry for a fight to establish a caliphate in Southeast Asia. Caliphate is a kingdom for the Muslims," Duterte said in a speech to soldiers.

"The problem is that they do not talk on the basis of what school you can give them," he said referring to previous local services the militants have asked for.

"It's either the caliphate or nothing."

The Abu Sayyaf is a radical offshoot of a Muslim separatist insurgency in the south of the mainly Catholic Philippines that has claimed more than 120,000 lives since the 1970s.

The Philippine defence department has said there were no formal links between the group and the Islamic State which holds vast swathes of Iraq and Syria.

"They are ISIS inspired and not actually ISIS supported. They are just ISIS wannabes," defence department spokesman Arsenio Andolong told AFP, using another name for the Islamic State.

Duterte, who has restarted peace talks with the country's two major Muslim rebel groups since taking office on June 30, initially pleaded for peace with Abu Sayyaf but has since hardened his position and branded them as terrorists.

Last month, he launched an offensive against the militants, ordering the military to "destroy" them.

He sent thousands of troops to Abu Sayyaf strongholds in the southern islands of Jolo and Basilan in an assault that had killed 15 soldiers and 32 militants according to the military.

The Abu Sayyaf is blamed for the nation's worst terror attacks and has beheaded foreigners, including two Canadians in April and June after ransom deadlines lapsed.

The militants have also conducted high seas kidnappings in waters bordering the Philippines, Indonesia and Malaysia, prompting the three nations to launch joint patrols.

Source: au.news.yahoo.com/world/a/32649016/philippine-militants-hungry-for-caliphate-says-duterte/#page1

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Arab World

Guantanamo prisoner says Saudi 'royal' involved in terrorism

September 17, 2016

MIAMI: An accused Al Qaeda bomb-maker who went to college in Arizona told military officials at the US base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, that he believed an unnamed member of the Saudi royal family was part of an effort to recruit him for violent extremist acts before the Sept 11, 2001, attacks, according to a newly released transcript.

Ghassan Abdallah al-Sharbi said a religious figure in Saudi Arabia used the term "your highness" during a telephone conversation with a man, just before urging al-Sharbi to return to the US and take part in a plot against the US that would involve learning to fly a plane.

The Sept 11 commission found there was no evidence to indicate that the Saudi government as an institution or Saudi senior officials individually had supported the attacks, and the kingdom's government has consistently denied it had any role in the plot.

It was early 2001, and al-Sharbi had only recently returned from the United States, where he had taken some flight school courses in Phoenix with two men who would become hijackers in the 9/11 attacks.

Al-Sharbi described the conversation in June to the Periodic Review Board, which assesses whether Guantanamo prisoners can be released.

The Pentagon on Thursday posted a transcript, with parts blacked out, on the website of the board, which includes representatives from six US agencies and departments.

The statement is convoluted and lacks important details, such as whether the "religious figure" might be close to any Saudi officials.

It does not indicate who the Saudi royal might be. The term can be used for thousands of members of the Saudi royal family; al-Sharbi did not say he met the man.

Al-Sharbi also appears to be struggling with illness. He tells the board he had just come from the detainee hospital, is "really exhausted, and nauseous and lethargic", and uses what is described as a "manual breathing device".

His statement adds to a list of suggestive but hardly definitive clues about possible involvement by members of the Saudi establishment in the Sept 11 attacks, in which 17 of the 19 hijackers were Saudi.

Full report at: dawn.com/news/1284336/guantanamo-prisoner-says-saudi-royal-involved-in-terrorism

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Saudi Arabia Begging Bahrain for Reinforcement to Fight Ansarullah in Border Regions

September 17, 2016

TEHRAN (FNA)- A senior military commander said Saudi Arabia has asked for reinforcement troops from the Bahraini army to fight and stop the Yemeni revolutionary forces crossing the border into the kingdom.

"Saudi Arabia has asked for help from Bahrain to fight along the border regions," Senior Ansarullah Commander Ali al-Hamzani told FNA on Saturday.

The Yemeni troops have crossed the border into Saudi Arabia and captured several commander centers and bases in the last few weeks.

Al-Hamzani also added that the Saudi army's military positions in al-Tawwal region were badly damaged when they came under the Yemeni missile attacks. 

On Thursday, Saudi Arabia confirmed that five Saudi army soldiers had been killed in separate clashes with fighters of the Yemeni popular forces in its Southern border regions of Dhahran Janoub, Jizan and Asir.

Major General Mahya al-Otaibi, Jizan Border Guard chief, said that conscript Musa bin Mohammed Daeli was killed in Dhahran al-Janoub region near the border with Yemen’s mountainous Northwestern province of Sa’ada.

Major General Nasser bin Saleh Aldojse, Jizan police chief, added that officer Hamoud Mohammed Awaji was killed in clashes in the Southern flank of Saudi Arabia.

Additionally, Saudi Arabia’s Minister of the National Guard Mutaib bin Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Saud said a soldiers was critically wounded during a heavy exchange of gunfire in the al-Rabu’ah town of the southwestern Asir region.

The three senior Saudi officials, however, did not provide any information about the time when three soldiers were killed and the circumstances surrounding their deaths.

Arabic-language Saudi Arabian daily newspaper Okaz also reported that officer Ahmed bin Hassan Atif was killed in the southern part of the kingdom.

Saudi Arabia has been striking Yemen since last March to restore power to fugitive president Mansour Hadi, a close ally of Riyadh. The Saudi-led aggression has so far killed at least 10,800 Yemenis, including hundreds of women and children.

Despite Riyadh's claims that it is bombing the positions of the Ansarullah fighters, Saudi bombers are flattening residential areas and civilian infrastructures.

According to several reports, the Saudi-led air campaign against Yemen has driven the impoverished country towards humanitarian disaster.

Source: en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13950627000904

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Syrian Army Fends off ISIL Offensives near Kuweires Airbase

September 17, 2016

TEHRAN (FNA)- Syrian Army troops repelled ISIL's attacks on their positions South of Kuweires airbase 40 kilometers to the East of Aleppo city, leaving at least 10 militants dead and several more wounded.

The ISIL terrorists failed to break through the government positions in Air Force Academy near the villages of Hazaza and Tal Maksour along the highway to Raqqa after facing the strong defense of Syrian army.

ISIL suffered 10 casualties and its arms, ammunition and machinegun-equipped vehicles were destroyed in the failed attacks. 

Last Saturday, Syrian Army troops and National Defense Forces clashed with ISIL terrorists in an area South of Kuweires airbase in Southeastern Aleppo, inflicting heavy losses and casualties on the militants.

Syrian government forces launched a fresh round of attacks on ISIL's positions near the aviation academy, ending in the killing of 10 militants and wounding of several more.

At least three machinegun-equipped vehicles of the ISIL were destroyed in the attacks.

Source: en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13950627000795

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Iraq's Hashd Al-Shaabi Repels ISIL's Attacks in Anbar Province

September 17, 2016

TEHRAN (FNA)- Iraqi volunteer forces (Hashd al-Shaabi) repelled three attacks by the ISIL on strategic regions in Anbar province, inflicting heavy losses and casualties on the terrorists.

The ISIL terrorists attacked Haditha and Brawneh regions in the Eastern and Northern parts of Anbar province, but they were forced back by Hashd al-Shaabi forces.

Meantime, the Iraqi security forces in Anbar province repulsed ISIL's attack on a security post about 160 kilometers to the West of al-Ramadi, killing one ISIL terrorist and injuring many others in fierce clashes.

The ISIL terrorists also tried to attack the security forces in Bou Ziyab and al-Jarishi regions, but they were beaten back by the Iraqi forces backed by the Iraqi army's artillery and fighter jets.

Six terrorists were killed and three others were wounded in the third attempt to attack the Iraqi forces' military positions.

The terrorists' military hardware also sustained heavy damage in clashes with the Iraqi army.

On Wednesday, Iraq's joint military forces seized back tens of houses in two strategic regions of Anbar province.

The Iraqi army and volunteer forces (Hashd al-Shaabi) took control of 386 homes in al-Halabeseh and al-Boutiban regions in Anbar province.

The government forces also seized a sum of 25 hand-made bombs from the ISIL in al-Halabeseh region.

At least 100 terrorists of the ISIL group, including a number of top commanders, were killed in Anbar province as the Iraqi Air Force carried out a number of airstrikes against their positions.

The Iraqi Interior Ministry announced that an F-16 fighter jet, after analyzing field intelligence, conducted 11 airstrikes against the targets in five separate districts of Qa'im, Akashat, Anah, Rawa and Rutbah on Tuesday.

According to the statement, the Iraqi warplane killed a top Saudi commander of the ISIL, originally from Jeddah, who was responsible for the execution of a number of Iraqi people.

The air raids also destroyed a large amount of the terrorists’ ammunition, weapons and explosive devices.

Army troops and volunteer forces have been engaged in joint operations to retake ISIL-held regions in Iraq.

Source: en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13950627000846

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Iranian Ground Force Using Drones for Missions in Remote Areas

September 17, 2016

TEHRAN (FNA)- Ground Force Commander Brigadier General Ahmadreza Pourdastan underlined the high capabilities of Iran-made Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), and said his forces are using drones for conducting missions in remote regions.

"When the Ground Force wants to make any activity in remote areas, it prepares its drones for that mission," Pourdastan said, addressing army commanders and personnel in Tehran on Saturday.

He underscored the necessity for the further enhancement of the capabilities of the Iran-made drones to be used in sensitive situations, and said, "Today, the drones are the discerning eyes and long arms of the Ground Force and they have been able to act successfully in their missions and in wargames."

In relevant remarks in June, Commander of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps Navy Rear Admiral Ali Fadavi announced IRGC's plans to increase drone missions in its naval operations.

"Drones comprise the fifth pillar of the IRGC Navy considering their combat and operational power," Fadavi said after visiting the IRGC Navy's Drone Command Center.

"Drones can find their place within the framework of the IRGC Navy's definitions of naval power which are different from the normal definitions in the world," he added.

The IRGC Aerospace force enjoys high capabilities and has taken wide strides in building different home-made aircraft, including drones.

The Islamic Republic has so far unveiled various domestically produced drones, including Ababil, Fotros, Hazem, Karrar (long range attack drone), Mohajer, Sarir, Shahed 129, Yasir and Zohal.

IRGC Lieutenant Commander Brigadier General Hossein Salami said last year that the IRGC has developed a drone technology which has empowered its radar-evading pilotless aircraft to fly 3,000km nonstop for reconnaissance and combat missions.

Iran in August unveiled a new home-made drone which is capable of jamming the enemies' communication systems.

The drone was displayed in an exhibition of the Iranian Ground Force's latest achievements in Tehran. General Pourdastan had visited the exhibition.

In addition to the drone, other UAVs with the capability of taking images and footages and jamming enemy drones' camera and surveillance systems as well as a drone equipped with destructive laser weapons were unveiled in the exhibition.

Source: en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13950627000723

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Iranian Judiciary Chief: No Difference between US Democrats, Republicans

September 17, 2016

TEHRAN (FNA)- Iran's Judiciary Chief Sadeq Amoli Larijani underlined that election of a Democrat or Republican president in the US makes no differences since American rulers, irrespective of their partisan affialiation, continue their crimes in other countries.

"Empowerment of the Republicans or Democrats makes no difference in the US. Obama who claimed 8 years ago that he would close the Guantanamo prison or withdraw the US forces from Iraq and Afghanistan, didn’t keep his promises," Amoli Larijani said, addressing a meeting of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) commanders and personnel in Tehran on Saturday.

"They approved $38bln of financial aid to the Zionist regime, no matter who would rule the country, the Republicans or the Democrats," he added.

Amoli Larijani also referred to the US attacks against the civilians and hospitals in Afghanistan, and said Washington is also supplying Saudi Arabia with weapons that are being used to massacre the Yemeni children, women and men.

In relevant remarks in August, Iranian Supreme Leader's top adviser for international affairs Ali Akbar Velayati underlined that Tehran sees no difference between the US Republicans and Democrats in the 2016 presidential race, given the latter's bad record in remaining loyal to their undertakings.

"There is no difference between the Democrats and Republicans and we don’t see any difference between them in the US presidential election," Velayati said in an interview with al-Mayadeen news channel.

"The democrats proved that they are not committed to their undertakings under on the nuclear deal and are no different than the Republicans," he added.

Source: en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13950627000631

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Yemeni Army Destroys Saudi Arabia's Spying Aircraft, Military Vehicle in Najran Province

September 17, 2016

TEHRAN (FNA)- The Yemeni army and popular forces continued inflicting heavy losses on the Saudi Army in the Southern parts of the kingdom, and destroyed a military vehicle and a reconnaissance aircraft in Najran province.

Saudi Arabia's spying drone was downed by the Yemeni forces in the sky over al-Talah and Zalam region in Najran province.

The Saudi army used the reconnaissance aircraft for gathering intelligence on the Yemeni forces' military positions and command centers.

The incident came as Saudi Arabia continues air raids on the civilian population across the impoverished nation.

On Thursday, military sources disclosed that the Yemeni army has fired several missiles and artillery shells at strategic military positions of Saudi Arabia in the Southern parts of the kingdom.

"Saudi Arabia's al-Dokhan and al-Soudaneh military centers in al-Khoba region in Jizan province came under heavy missile and artillery attacks by the Yemeni forces, sustaining heavy losses," a military source said.

On Tuesday, the Yemeni army fired a Qaher-I ballistic missile at Saudi Arabia's Khaled bin Abdel Aziz airbase in Assir province.

Source: en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13950627000672

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Saudi Arabia's Western Coast within Yemen's Fire Range

September 17, 2016

TEHRAN (FNA)- Saudi Arabia's Western coasts are now within the fire range of the Yemeni army and popular forces after the latter captured Jabal Dakhan and al-Ramih military bases as well as the heights overlooking them in Jizan province.

Tens of Saudi forces, including senior officers, were killed in the Yemeni army's offensives while others fled the battlefield after leaving behind a considerable amount of military hardware and equipment.

The city of Jizan is now within the fire-range of the Yemeni forces, specially because the distance between Jizan city and the two military bases is less than 70 kilometers.

The Yemeni army can now pound the towns and villages in the countryside of Jizan, including the villages of al-Khobeh, al-Qaviyeh, al-Masfouqeh, al-Shaneq, al-Marouseh, al-Sabakhieh, Jalah, al-Raheh and al-Mozbarat.

Saudi Arabia confirmed that five Saudi army soldiers have been killed in separate clashes with fighters of the Yemeni popular forces in its Southern border regions of Dhahran Janoub, Jizan and Asir.

Major General Mahya al-Otaibi, Jizan Border Guard chief, said that conscript Musa bin Mohammed Daeli was killed in Dhahran al-Janoub region near the border with Yemen’s mountainous Northwestern province of Sa’ada.

Major General Nasser bin Saleh Aldojse, Jizan police chief, added that officer Hamoud Mohammed Awaji was killed in clashes in the Southern flank of Saudi Arabia.

Additionally, Saudi Arabia’s Minister of the National Guard Mutaib bin Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Saud said a soldiers was critically wounded during a heavy exchange of gunfire in the al-Rabu’ah town of the southwestern Asir region.

The three senior Saudi officials, however, did not provide any information about the time when the three soldiers were killed and the circumstances surrounding their deaths.

Arabic-language Saudi Arabian daily newspaper Okaz also reported that officer Ahmed bin Hassan Atif was killed in the southern part of the kingdom.

Moreover, Akhbar 24 online newspaper reported that a soldier, identified as Ahmed Tohara, died during clashes on the southern border of Saudi Arabia with Yemen.

The developments came as three Qatari soldiers of the Saudi-led military coalition against Yemen were killed during operations in the conflict-ridden country on Monday.

Qatar’s state-run QNA news agency did not give any information on how or where they lost their lives.

Over the past few weeks, there have been multiple losses of life within the ranks of Saudi army soldiers and border guards during encounters with Yemeni soldiers and allied Ansarullah fighters.

Saudi Arabia has been incessantly pounding Yemen since March 2015, with the UN putting the death toll from the military aggression at about 10,000. The offensive was launched to reinstate Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, a Saudi ally who has resigned as Yemen’s president.

Source: en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13950627000582

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Iranian Missiles Capable of Responding All Threats

September 17, 2016

TEHRAN (FNA)- Senior Military Advisor to the Iranian Leader Brigadier General Seyed Hessam Hashemi underlined the high precision-striking power of country's missiles, and said Tehran enjoys the capability to reciprocate any kind threat.

"The enemies have always been threatening us and their threats have not decreased but increased every day and if the enemy comes to the conclusion that we have grown weak, it will certainly attack us. We can respond threats with threats when we have such a high defensive power," General Hashemi told FNA on Saturday.

"Today, our missile industries have advanced to the extent that we can reciprocate any kind of threat with a (similar) threat," he added.

Stressing the strong enmity between the US and Iran, General Hashemi said, "In its assessments, the US has concluded that it cannot confront us."

In relevant remarks in August, Iranian Defense Minister Brigadier General Hossein Dehqan underlined that his country sees no limit for the range of the ballistic missiles that it is developing.

"We don’t have any limit for the range of liquid or solid-fueled ballistic missiles," Dehqan said in a meeting in the Central city of Isfahan.

He underlined the indigenous nature of most Iranian weapons and military equipment, and said, "90 percent of the country's defense systems have reached an acceptable standard and enjoy competitive quality compared with the weapons of advanced countries; production of the national individual weapons and efforts to improve the quality and precision-striking power of ballistic missiles are among the defense ministry's achievements in the defense field."

General Dehqan added that Iranian experts have also taken long strides in building satellites, satellite carriers, missile launchpads and research work in defense areas.

His remarks came as the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) fired 2 home-made 'Qadr H' ballistic missiles from the Eastern Alborz Mountains at a target in Iran's Southeastern Makran seashore some 1400km away in March.

The missiles were fired on the sidelines of the main stage of the IRGC drills in Central Iran and various parts of the country.

One missile had a message written on it that said in Hebrew: "Israel should be wiped off the Earth".

Qadr is a 2000km-range, liquid-fuel and ballistic missile which can reach territories as far as Israel.

The missile can carry different types of ‘Blast’ and ‘MRV’ (Multiple Reentry Vehicle) payloads to destroy a range of targets. The new version of Qadr H can be launched from mobile platforms or silos in different positions and can escape missile defense shields due to their radar-evading capability.

A Multiple Reentry Vehicle payload for a ballistic missile deploys multiple warheads in a pattern against a single target. (As opposed to Multiple independently targetable reentry vehicle, which deploys multiple warheads against multiple targets.) The advantage of an MRV over a single warhead is that the damage produced in the center of the pattern is far greater than the damage possible from any single warhead in the MRV cluster, this makes for an efficient area attack weapon. Also, the sheer number of Warheads make interception by Anti-ballistic missiles unlikely.

Improved warhead designs allow smaller warheads for a given yield, while better electronics and guidance systems allowed greater accuracy. As a result MIRV technology has proven more attractive than MRV for advanced nations. Because of the larger amount of nuclear material consumed by MRVs and MIRVs, single warhead missiles are more attractive for nations with less advanced technology. The United States deployed an MRV payload on the Polaris A-3. The Soviet Union deployed MRVs on the SS-9 Mod 4 ICBM.

Source: en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13950627000457

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North America

U.S. Seeks to Prevent Islamic State From Looting, Selling or Destroying Antiquities

Sep 16, 2016

Islamic State’s operations involve more than murder, mayhem and destruction of valuable artifacts in the Middle East. The group is also profiting from looted antiquities.

United States officials are redoubling their efforts to protect ancient works of art. In a congressional briefing in Washington, D.C., on Sept. 8, professors and government representatives including State Department officials gathered to discuss the security of Middle East antiquities. While Islamic State is known to destroy large cultural antiquities to attract media attention (such as the public destruction of the Temple of Bel in Syria), the group also engages in the trafficking of antiquities to fund its operations.

Stopping the problem has been a challenge.

From The New York Times in January:

The police raid [in Shumen, Bulgaria,] last March [2015] was heralded as a rare success against the trafficking of antiquities, a crime that reached new levels as the Islamic State militant group took control of parts of Syria and Iraq, and destroyed and looted ancient sites. Yet it also highlighted the barriers that, dozens of art experts and officials in the United States and Europe say, hamper the fight against the illicit trade.

Laws around the world are weak and inconsistent, and customs enforcement can screen only a portion of what crosses international borders, according to officials and experts in trafficking. Long-established smuggling organizations are practiced in getting the goods to people willing to pay for them, and patient enough to stash ancient artifacts in warehouses until scrutiny dies down. Despite a near-universal outcry over Islamic State’s actions, few countries have shown interest in imposing new restrictions to curb the booming trade in antiquities, estimated to be worth billions of dollars a year.

“It’s a broken system that ISIS or anyone else, whoever is next, can play into,” said Donna Yates, an archaeologist at The Scottish Centre for Crime & Justice Research at the University of Glasgow.

Officials still do not know how the artifacts ended up in Shumen or whether they passed through Islamic State territory. For every seizure like the one here, many other pieces are believed to reach dealers and buyers in Vienna, Munich, London and New York. Dealers exploit the legal trade in antiquities to move objects that have been looted for years amid the conflicts in Syria and Iraq, as well as Libya, Yemen and Egypt, officials and experts said.

The sale of heritage objects has sparked renewed interest among U.S. national security officials because the funds from stolen antiquities help fuel Islamic State’s capacity for violence. The artifacts can generate sizable revenues, estimated at $150 million to $200 million per year.

The U.S. Department of State reported in May 2015 that “U.S. Special Forces raided the Syrian compound of Abu Sayyaf, the head of ISIL’s oil and gas, and antiquities division” and discovered hundreds of historical artifacts. Documents found in the raid confirmed Islamic State’s large profit from theft.

Stephen Epstein, special adviser to the State Department’s Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs, expressed his concerns at the congressional briefing: “Documents captured by the raid showed that Daesh [Islamic State] has elaborate bureaucracy devoted to the administration of the sale of antiquities. … The artifacts looted from Syria and Iraq have not immediately flooded the art market. Some have trickled onto the market, but most—especially the most costly pieces—have been warehoused awaiting a more propitious market environment.”

In addition to focusing on Islamic State’s financial strategy, U.S. officials are concerned with the preservation of cultural items. Corine Wegener, cultural heritage preservation officer at the Smithsonian Institution, spoke at the meeting about the importance of recovering Middle Eastern antiquities, noting that displaced populations will eventually return to territories now controlled by Islamic State. “People need something to return to someday ... ,” she said. “After you save people’s lives, you have to save people’s reason for living.

Source: truthdig.com/eartotheground/item/us_wants_to_prevent_islamic_state_from_looting_destruction_and_trafficki

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Muslims Are Most Disliked Group in America, Says New Study

September 16, 2016

Muslims are the most disapproved group in America, according to a new study, amid increasing anti-Muslim rhetoric from conservative politicians.

A new study from sociologists at the University of Minnesota, which analysed Americans’ perceptions of minority faith and racial groups, found that their disapproval of Muslims has almost doubled from about 26 per cent 10 years ago to 45.5 per cent in 2016.

Amid increasing focus on immigration, refugees and national security and in the wake of multiple terrorist attacks around the world, the study found that almost half of those surveyed would not want their child to marry a Muslim, compared to just 33.5 per cent of people a decade earlier.

The report found that anti-Muslim violence spiked after the attacks on the Twin Towers in 2001, as did attacks on Sikh Americans, who are often confused with Muslim Americans.

"Even the generally tolerant millennials exhibit relatively strong anti-Muslim sentiments," the report read.

Hussein Rashid, a professor at Barnard College in New York, told Religion News that the spike in intolerance is reflected by current political rhetoric.

"In 10 years, people have a more negative perception of Muslims, Jews, gays, Latinos, and Blacks," he said.

"As a new America is taking shape, with all its diversity, there is a reactionary response that wants a mythic America of everyone being exactly the same."

The survey, completed by 2,521 people between February 2014 and March 2016, found that Jews, Latinos and Asian-Americans also saw their disapproval ratings jump by about 10 points each.

Atheists were the second most disapproved group in the US, as they were associated with a "lack of morals".

The news comes as the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) has announced that 2016 is on track to be one of the worst years for anti-mosque incidents, with 55 cases reported as of mid-September. There were 79 incidents in 2015.

"This trend of increasing violence targeting the American Muslim community is deeply troubling," said CAIR national executive director Nihad Awad.

He added that 2016 was one of the worst years on record, involving vandalism, intimidation and physical assault.

"It is important for presidential candidates and other public figures to unify Americans against hate," he added.

"Any American should be able to freely practise his or her religion without fear of harm or intimidation."

The most recent cases in September included someone throwing rocks through a window of a mosque in New Hampshire, a driver of a tractor-trailer being rammed twice into a mosque in Maryland and a man setting a mosque on fire in Florida.

In Georgia, Newtown County officials recently reversed their decision to ban the building of a new mosque and small cemetery on land purchased by the Muslim community, following concerns from locals that the land would be turned into an “Isis training camp”.

Source: independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/muslims-acism-america-most-disliked-group-discrimination-anti-mosque-a7311151.html

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3 in 10 American Catholics hold unfavorable views toward Muslims, says new study

Sep 16, 2016

A new study conducted by researchers from Georgetown University indicated that three in 10 American Catholics hold an unfavorable impression of Muslims. The study on the topic of Islamophobia showed that white Catholics in the country have diverse opinions about Islam but only 14 percent of the respondents admitted to having favorable views of Muslims.

45 percent of the respondents said that they had "neither favorable nor unfavorable" views of Muslims. 11 percent said they were not sure.

The study was conducted from a sample of 1,027 Catholics. The report titled "Dialogue and Danger: Report on American Catholic Public Opinion and Portrayals of Islam," revealed that almost half of the respondents cannot cite the similarities between Catholicism and Islam.

The document also showed that most Catholic media outlets had published articles with negative sentiments regarding Islam. It cited "Catholic Answers" and "Catholic Culture" as online media outlets that published titles that conveyed negative impressions towards the religion.

The report mentioned that books by Robert Spencer of the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) are being sold by Catholic institutions. MEMRI has been listed as an anti-Muslim hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC).

Another study conducted by sociologists from the University of Minnesota showed that Muslims have surpassed atheists as the most unpopular minority group in the U.S. The dislike for Muslims jumped from 26 percent to 45.5 percent in the past 10 years. About 48.9 percent said that they would not let their child marry a Muslim.

Hussein Rashid, a professor at Barnard College, said that the rising anti-Islamic sentiment only reflects the current political rhetoric.

"The data from this survey shows that there is an increasing pull away from the promise of America," he said in an email to Religion News Service. "In 10 years, people have a more negative perception of Muslims, Jews, gays, Latinos, and Blacks. As a new America is taking shape, with all its diversity, there is a reactionary response that wants a mythic America of everyone being exactly the same," he added.

Such negativity towards Muslims is also reportedly present in other countries. Earlier this week, Austrian Cardinal Christoph Schönborn caused a stir for asking "Will there be an Islamic conquest of Europe?"

The cardinal asked the question during his speech at the 333rd anniversary of the West's victory over the Ottoman forces in the Battle of Vienna. He suggested further that there are Muslims that want to see the end of Europe.

Source: christiantimes.com/article/3-in-10-american-catholics-hold-unfavorable-views-toward-muslims-says-new-study/62892.htm

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Southeast Asia

Philippine militants 'hungry' for caliphate, says Duterte

September 17, 2016

Manila (AFP) - Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte said Saturday Abu Sayyaf Islamic militants were hungry to establish a caliphate, as he toughens his stance on the kidnap-for-ransom group accused of a deadly bombing in his home city this month.

The fiery leader, who has threatened to eat the militants alive in a bloodthirsty vow of revenge for the attack in Davao that killed 15 people, said the group was no longer just after money from criminal activities.

Several units of the Abu Sayyaf in the strife-torn southern Philippines have pledged allegiance to the Islamic State group but analysts have said they are more interested in funding than ideology.

"They are hungry for a fight to establish a caliphate in Southeast Asia. Caliphate is a kingdom for the Muslims," Duterte said in a speech to soldiers.

"The problem is that they do not talk on the basis of what school you can give them," he said referring to previous local services the militants have asked for.

"It's either the caliphate or nothing."

The Abu Sayyaf is a radical offshoot of a Muslim separatist insurgency in the south of the mainly Catholic Philippines that has claimed more than 120,000 lives since the 1970s.

The Philippine defence department has said there were no formal links between the group and the Islamic State which holds vast swathes of Iraq and Syria.

"They are ISIS inspired and not actually ISIS supported. They are just ISIS wannabes," defence department spokesman Arsenio Andolong told AFP, using another name for the Islamic State.

Duterte, who has restarted peace talks with the country's two major Muslim rebel groups since taking office on June 30, initially pleaded for peace with Abu Sayyaf but has since hardened his position and branded them as terrorists.

Last month, he launched an offensive against the militants, ordering the military to "destroy" them.

He sent thousands of troops to Abu Sayyaf strongholds in the southern islands of Jolo and Basilan in an assault that had killed 15 soldiers and 32 militants according to the military.

The Abu Sayyaf is blamed for the nation's worst terror attacks and has beheaded foreigners, including two Canadians in April and June after ransom deadlines lapsed.

The militants have also conducted high seas kidnappings in waters bordering the Philippines, Indonesia and Malaysia, prompting the three nations to launch joint patrols.

Source: au.news.yahoo.com/world/a/32649016/philippine-militants-hungry-for-caliphate-says-duterte/#page1

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No Islamic State threats in Penang, says police

17 SEPTEMBER 2016

GEORGE TOWN: Penang police have denied that threats have been made by Islamic State in Penang and are asking the public to remain calm. Penang Police Chief, Datuk Abdul Ghafar Rajab clarified that images of policemen in full combat gear making rounds at malls that were spread on social media yesterday was old ones and that the situation was not in Penang. Abdul Ghafar acknowledged that police did increase security on Malaysia Day yesterday as a precautionary step to ensure the safety of the public. “I urge the people not to spread untrue stories on social media as it could create unnecessary panic and fear among the public. “Verify it with the police first before making any comments regarding national security,” he said when contacted, here today. People as far as Sabah and Sarawak had been sharing the post.

Source: nst.com.my/news/2016/09/173785/no-islamic-state-threats-penang-says-police

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America loves Muslim food - so much for a clash of civilizations

September 17, 2016

Sometimes, culinary trends move in sync with political ones. Sauerkraut was renamed "liberty cabbage" when the U.S. was at war with Germany, and a more recent falling-out with the French led to the invention of "freedom fries."

But sometimes they move in mysterious ways. In an election season dominated by Donald Trump, Muslims haven't always been made to feel welcome in America. Meanwhile sales of halal food, prepared according to Islamic law, are surging -- and not just among the fast-growing U.S. Muslim population: Adventurous millennial foodies are embracing it too.

Shahed Amanullah could only find about 200 places that served halal food in 1998, when he launched a website to help Americans find it. Today, he's tracking 7,600, and he says halal is making inroads even among people who are wary of Muslims. "Food is a great medium for cultural sharing," Amanullah said.

There's a well-trodden path in America's food culture, leading from ethnic-specialty status to the mainstream. It happened long ago with Italian cuisine, and to some extent with kosher food, which offers a closer parallel to halal. Like the Jewish equivalent, Islamic rules mandate humane treatment of animals as well as other special preparations.

At every level of the U.S. food chain, halal already occupies a small but rapidly expanding niche.

In grocery and convenience stores and similar outlets, research firm Nielsen estimates that sales reached $1.9 billion in the 12 months through August, a 15 percent increase from 2012.

Overall, from restaurants to supermarkets, halal sales are projected at $20 billion this year, up by one-third since 2010, according to the Islamic Food and Nutrition Council of America, which certifies halal food and promotes education on the topic

Whole Foods Market Inc., which has been among the pioneers, ranks halal among its fastest growing categories, with double-digit sales growth in each of the last five years. It's been running Ramadan promotions since 2011.

Full report at: chicagotribune.com/news/sns-wp-blm-halal-59bd54b4-7a5f-11e6-8064-c1ddc8a724bb-20160917-story.html

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Myanmar leader says Rakhine commission will help heal wounds

Sep 17, 2016

The state's dominant Arakan National Party (ANP) and the Rakhine Women Network led the protest from near the airport in Sittwe, capital of Rakhine.

Hundreds of Buddhists in Myanmar have staged a protest against a visit by former United Nations chief Kofi Annan, who is leading a commission to advise the government on how it can bridge the bitter sectarian divide in Rakhine state.

Mr. Obama's historic opening to Myanmar followed by its peaceful transition to an elected civilian-led government is seen as one of his foreign policy achievements. "No Kofi Annan", they shouted.

Former United Nations secretary-general Kofi Annan was met by hundreds of jeering protesters when he arrived in Myanmar's western Rakhine state Tuesday to begin a fact-finding mission into the bitter ethnic and religious strife that has triggered a humanitarian crisis.

"We are here to help provide ideas and advice", Annan said at the Rakhine state government office, where he met government and police officials, community leaders and members of nongovernmental organizations.

Journalists were not allowed to attend the community meetings, but some people who participated described them afterward.

"They invited us to the meeting and asked us to leave without a chance to have a discussion".

Some of the locals have said they wanted one of their own local Rakhine nationality people to represent the panel and not an outsider.

Sectarian violence, which erupted in 2012, has seen dozens of Muslim Rohingyas killed by vigilante mobs comprising hardline Buddhist nationalist groups and followers, with thousands more displaced.

The Myanmar government, particularly the recently elected leader Aung San Suu Kyui, has been accused of failing in its commitment to protect the human rights of the people as the treatment of Rohingya Muslims has been considered by Amnesty International as gross human rights violations.

The Rohingya's plight threatens to poison democratic gains in the former army-run country and has damaged Ms Suu Kyi's reputation as a defender of the downtrodden. Recognising the highly charged nature of the divisions in the state, he said his advisory commission would listen to all sides. "I demonstrated because this is an internal affair and not an worldwide issue".

At least 300 agitators lined the road from the airport objecting Annan's presence as a kind of foreign intervention. We are here to help. The commission is on a two-day visit to Sittwe, which is the capital of the Rakhine state.

The commission is in Sittwe on Tuesday and Wednesday to meet with local authorities and representatives from various communities.

"We are anxious that if he makes the wrong decision it will inflict more pain on the people here", said lawyer U Myint Soe Win, as he sat with friends in a local tea shop. Dr Aye Maung, the party's chairman, said vice-chair Daw Aye Nu Sein instead presented him with a letter outlining the party's position on the commission. He also pressed home the message that "stability and development go hand in hand".

On Aug. 30, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon endorsed the government's efforts.

However, worldwide human rights groups have welcomed the move.

Source: crcconnection.com/2016/09/17/myanmar-leader-says-rakhine-commission-will-help-heal-wounds.html

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South Asia

ISIS Failed To Establish Khurasan Province in Afghanistan

Sat Sep 17 2016

The loyalists of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) terrorist group failed to establish the Khurasan province in Afghanistan as the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF) suppressed the activities of the terror group in the areas under their control.

Shah Hussain Murtazvi, deputy presidential spokesperson, during a televised debate with 1TV, said the terror group received major blows during the operations of the Afghan forces as they attempted to establish the so-called ‘Khurasan province’ in the country.

He said loyalists of the terror group have failed and have been defeated in the battle ground.

The remarks by Murtazvi came as the top US general in Afghanistan General John Nicholson earlier said the loyalists of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) terrorist group in Afghanistan has direct links with the main terror group in Syria and Iraq. Gen. Nicholson said the loyalists of the terror group based in Afghanistan have financial, communications and strategic connections with the main IS leadership based in a self-declared caliphate in Iraq and Syria.

The former US General in Afghanistan General John Campbell had also said earlier that the loyalists of the terror group in Afghanistan are attempting to consolidate operations with the main group in Syria and Iraq.

The attempts by the loyalists of the terror group to expand foothold in Afghanistan prompted the US administration to grant permission to the US forces to suppress the activities of the terror group in the country.

The US forces are conducting regular airstrikes against ISIS loyalists mainly in eastern Nangarhar province besides the Afghan forces have launched a major operation to eliminate them from the area.

Source: khaama.com/isis-failed-to-establish-khurasan-province-in-afghanistan-01891

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Karzai calls on Taliban to be free from Pakistani intelligence, military

Sat Sep 17 2016

hamid-karzaiThe former Afghan President Hamid Karzai has called on Taliban group in Afghanistan to be free from the foreign influence, particularly pointing towards the Pakistani intelligence and military.

In an interview with Reuters, Karzai appealed to the Taliban “as fellow Afghans to recognise that this is their country” and to break free of the influence of Pakistan, which despite frequent denials, is blamed by Afghanistan for supporting the insurgency.

“I would call on the Taliban to be free from foreign influence – in this case Pakistan, the Pakistan intelligence and military,” Karzai said.

The former Afghan President further added added that they had to be more realistic in their demands to make peace talks possible.

“When they say that foreign forces must leave first and then we will talk, then I tell them that if they keep waiting for that, a lot of Afghan blood will be shed,” he said.

The remarks by Karzai came as the Afghan officials have long been criticizing Pakistan for supporting the Afghan militant groups, including the Taliban and the notorious Haqqani terrorist network.

According to the Afghan officials, the leadership councils of both the groups are based in Quetta and Peshawar cities of Pakistan from where they plan and coordinate attacks in Afghanistan.

Source: khaama.com/karzai-calls-on-taliban-to-be-free-from-pakistani-intelligence-military-01887

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Peace deal with Hezb-e-Islami to be signed in 2 to 3 days: officials

Sat Sep 17 2016

The officials in Afghanistan High Peace Council (AHPC) have said the peace agreement with Hezb-e-Islami party led by Gulbuddin Hekmatyar will be signed in coming two to three days.

Deputy High Peace Council Chief Abdul Khabir Ochqoon told RFE that the draft peace agreement will be signed in two to three days.

This comes as the peace deal between Hezb-e-Islami and the Afghan government was due to be signed on 10th September, ahead of the Eid holidays.

However, the Afghanistan High Peace Council said the signing of the peace agreement was postponed due to Eid holidays but a final agreement has been concluded between the Afghan government and the party.

The statement by High Peace Council was released amid concerns that the signing of the deal was delayed due to some internal issues, apparently within the government to conclude the deal.

Earlier reports emerged earlier suggesting that the party has issued new impossible-to-meet demands to sign a peace agreement with the Afghan government.

According to the reports, the new demands included cancellation of pacts with the United States, a timetable for the withdrawal of foreign troops and that it be signed by a new government.

The new demands were made as Hekmatyar had earlier said he has changed his conditions for peace process with the Afghan government by stepping back from his demands for the complete withdrawal of foreign forces.

Source: khaama.com/peace-deal-with-hezb-e-islami-to-be-signed-in-2-to-3-days-officials-01888

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Afghan forces receive 4 MD-530 light attack helicopters in North

Fri Sep 16 2016

md-530-helicopters-afghanistanThe Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF) received 4 light attack MD-530 Cayuse helicopters in north of Afghanistan. (Photo: 438th Air Expeditionary Wing)

The Afghan Air Force commander Gen. Abdul Wahab Wardak told reporters in Mazar-e-Sharif city that the helicopters will be used by the 209th Shaheen Corps of the Afghan army.

He said the helicopters have been deployed to 22 provinces and are currenty involved in counter-insurgency activities in at least 10 provinces.

Gen. Wardak further added that the Afghan Air Force is currently having 35 MD-530 Cayuse helicopters which have been delivered by the United States.

According to Gen. Wardak the pilots of the helicopters have been trained in the United States and the newly deployed helicopters in north will be used to cover operations in Baghlan, Sar-e-Pul and Kunduz provinces.

MD-530 helicopters are designed for high altitude and/or hot weather operations to provide close-air support to the ground forces.

The US army awarded a contract worth $13.2 million to add the seven-tube M260 launcher for the 70mm (2.75 inch) rockets to MD-530Fs nearly a year ago.

Source: khaama.com/afghan-forces-receive-4-md-530-light-attack-helicopters-in-north-01886

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Boiler blast at Bangladesh factory kills at least 21

Sep 17, 2016

A fire broke out in a garment packaging factory just outside the Bangladeshi capital on Saturday, killing at least 12 people, police and witnesses said.

More than 70 people have been injured, according to reports.

About 50 people, mostly workers, suffered injuries when flames tore through Tampaco Foils Limited's factory in BSCIC industrial area of Tongi yesterday.

Police said about 100 people were in the four-storey building at the time, including machine operators and guards.

Dhaka - Rescuers found four more bodies in rubbles of the packaging plants that burned to ashes near Bangladeshi capital raising the death toll in the disaster to 29, officials said Sunday. In 2013, more than 1,100 workers died in a building collapse that ranks as the country's worst industrial disaster.

"We checked the design of this factory and initially it is our understanding that it was a one floor building and later the floor had been raised, similar to case of Rana Plaza", he said.

This was the last work day at the factory before the start of the Muslim festival Eid al-Adha, which is set to begin on Tuesday in Bangladesh. "Survivors say workers were forced to go inside the building, even though a visible crack was forming", as NPR's Jim Zarroli reported earlier this year.

Tampaco Foils, which owns the five-storey factory, packages various items for several global brands, including Nestle and British American Tobacco. "They will also suggest how we can improve fire safety of local factories", Ahmed said.

"This is a major issue that the Accord, all other building safety initiatives in Bangladesh, and the Bangladesh government must address"

Bangladesh factory inspector general Syed Ahmed said an investigation would occur into the cause of Saturday's accident.

Fires and other accidents are common in the factories that make up the $27-billion garment industry in Bangladesh, the world's second-biggest apparel exporter after China.

At least 13 people died in a fire at a plastic factory in Dhaka past year.

That tragedy triggered worldwide outrage and successfully put pressure on United States and European clothing brands to improve deplorable safety conditions at the factories that supply them.

Source: crcconnection.com/2016/09/17/boiler-blast-at-bangladesh-factory-kills-at-least-21.html

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Africa

Military Says Latest Boko Haram Video Is a Fake, ‘Complete Joke’

16 Sep 2016

The Nigerian military has dismissed a Boko Haram video threatening to abduct and behead President Muhammadu Buhari as a “photoshop” and “complete joke,” claiming that Boko Haram no longer has the capacity for large-scale attacks and is merely trying to intimidate villagers into a distorted perception of their strength.

Buhari claimed in December 2015 that “we have won the war” against the Islamic State affiliate, a claim widely dismissed as the terrorists have continued to attack mosques, crowded marketplaces, and remote villages throughout the year. As such, the Nigerian military has a vested interest in arguing that Boko Haram is no longer capable of large scale attacks.

“Issue of threat to PMB (President Muhammadu Buhari) is a complete joke and the dream of the century, therefore the entire clip is a washout,” military spokesman Brigadier General Rabe Abubakar said of the video. “We reiterate our total commitment and resilience in stamping them out, people shouldn’t be deceived by their use of photoshop.”

The extended statement went on to accuse Boko Haram of using an old video clip from 2014 to fabricate the appearance of a large group of terrorists and supporters praying in observation of Eid al-Adha, one of Islam’s most important holidays. “The video clip is a complete show of weakness and sign that the end is near for the insurgents, hence it does not in any way poses threat to us,” the statement concluded.

Nigerian military officials did not dismiss the possibility that some of the video may be new as the unnamed individual delivering the message in it dated the video in September 2016. The use of previously released clips of individuals praying nonetheless “cast aspersions to the credibility of the clip and therefore should be disregarded,” they claim.

In the video, published on YouTube earlier this week, an unnamed man prays for the head of Boko Haram, Abubakar Shekau, and vows to abduct and behead the “infidel” Buhari, himself a Muslim from northern Nigeria.

“So this infidel by the name Buhari saying that he will finish us, he should know that by the grace of Allah, he cannot finish us,” the terrorist says. “Rather, he will die, he will die, he will die.”

The video is notable both for the threat to Buhari and the repeated assertions of allegiance to Abubakar Shekau, the leader of Boko Haram since 2009 — when its founder, Mohammed Yusuf, was killed. Shekau has not appeared in any Boko Haram propaganda in months, and Islamic State publications announced in August the appointment of another man, Abu Musab al-Barnawi, as the “governor” of the Islamic State West Africa Province, the official name of Boko Haram. Al-Barnawi has been referred to by some Nigeria news outlets as Yusuf’s son, though this is not yet a confirmed fact.

Reports from the northern Nigerian state of Borno suggest that the terror organization has now split its loyalties between Shekau and al-Barnawi, ever since the latter criticized Shekau’s indiscriminate targeting of mosques and urban centers for terror attacks. Al-Barnawi instead vowed to target every public center known to be frequented by Christians, rather than risk the shedding of Muslim blood.

Witnesses in Borno say entire villages have had to flee their homes as al-Barnawi’s people attack Shekau strongholds, burning down homes and taking food and other loot with them. Standard Boko Haram terrorism also continues, with a mass abduction most recently occurring in the village of Chibok, home to the hundreds of schoolgirls abducted in April 2014 and not yet found.

In addition to killing thousands of civilians and burning down homes, Boko Haram has prevented international aid from entering remote regions of northern Nigeria, allowing for the spread of previously subdued illnesses like polio.

According to a recent study published by the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism, Boko Haram killed over 5,000 people in 2015 and, when measured as an independent terror group rather than a wing of the Islamic State, remains the third deadliest terror group in the world, after the Taliban and the greater Islamic State.

Source: breitbart.com/national-security/2016/09/16/nigeria-military-says-latest-boko-haram-video-fake/

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IF BUHARI CONTESTS, HE WILL WIN AGAIN – AHMADU ALI

Sep 17, 2016

Ahmadu Ali is a retired Army Colonel, a physician and politician. In 1973, he became the first Director-General of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC), a position he held until 1975 when he was appointed Minister of Education, during which he was nicknamed ‘Ali Must Go’ on account of a nationwide students protest. He served also as Chairman of the PDP National Working Committee (NWC) from 2005 to 2007. By the time he finished his assignment as head of ‘africa’s largest party’, the Kogi State-born politician had acquired another controversial alias; the ‘Garrison Commander.’ In the last general elections, he was the Director-General of the Goodluck Jonathan/Mohammed Sambo Presidential Campaign Organisation, which saw the PDP out of power, after a 16-year rule.

Even under the current PDP crisis, his wife, Mrs. Ali is a chieftain of the Ali Modu Sherrif-led PDP faction while he remains with the Ahmed Makarfi faction.

When he spoke with  JACOB  EDI at his Maitama Abuja residence, he didn’t mince words when he said President Muhammadu Buhari will win a second term if he offers himself for re-election. This is in spite of the hue and cry by Nigerians over the current economic hardship. He also accused western powers of being behind the crisis within the PDP with the ultimate aim of destabilizing the country for their economic and political gains.

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Your party, the PDP is currently embroiled in crisis and a battle for survival. What actually went wrong?

The PDP imbroglio is most unfortunate but it is all within the realm of politics. If APC finds that they are not performing excellently well and we who can claim to be experts in running the country for 16 years are now outside government and we keep criticizing, the best thing is to find a way of disorganising us and they succeeded in disorganising us.

So, you are saying that the problem in the PDP now is caused by APC?

Of course

Didn’t you people see it coming?

We saw it coming… We saw it coming.  May be some of us didn’t see it in this particular angle that it appeared. We knew that that was bound to happen… disorganize the opposition, if not you will have no peace, so that is what they have done.

And again our friends, the enemy outside Nigeria who believed that the PDP has broken such a record in the governance of Nigeria… 16 years uninterrupted… one political party… it has never happened in Nigeria. So they believed that leaving the PDP to continue in that run, they will end up to become an impossible party that they cannot manipulate, like the Gulf Party of the Arabs where they had to destroy Saddam and everybody to disorganize the region.

Are you saying that the crisis in the PDP has international dimension?

It has. There is no doubt about it.

Can you be more specific, is it the western powers?

Which other power are we dealing with? How much of the East is actually here? Everybody in the world knows that the Chinese come for business and they don’t care about what you are doing with your politics. But your other brothers who have been helping us since independence, we keep fooling ourselves that there is free lunch. There is no free lunch anywhere. Their quid needs a pro quo. So they know what they want before they come to you and what they might extract from that.

Are you trying to exonerate the PDP?

Full report at: nigeriatoday.ng/2016/09/2019-if-buhari-contests-he-will-win-again-ahmadu-ali/

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India

Hindus are indeed tolerant, but majoritarianism is self-defeating

MINHAZ MERCHANT

Sat, 17 Sep 2016

A simple tweet I sent out recently drew unexpected ire. “Just as Muslim majoritarian Kashmir is unacceptable, so is Hindu majoritarian India,” I wrote.

The criticism was sharp. The Kashmir Valley should of course be plural, I was told. But India, being a naturally Hindu majority country, should be majoritarian.

Pray why? Because, the tweeple said, Hindus are tolerant and can be trusted to look after minorities. As evidence they pointed to the (relative) peace in which 180 million Muslims live in India. They comprise the largest Muslim minority in the world. Only Indonesia has more Muslims (Pakistan comes a close third).

Muslims in India retain their personal laws, their festivals and their minority educational institutions. But Kashmir, the argument goes, is different. After centuries of pluralism in the Valley where Muslims and Hindus lived side by side in harmony, Pakistan has tried to spread a dangerous strain of Salafi Islam.

Hindus have been driven out of the Valley. At Independence, Hindus made up around 10 per cent of the total population in the Kashmir Valley. Muslims comprised 90 per cent. Today Hindus comprise just one per cent of the population in the Valley and Muslims 99 per cent.

Meanwhile, as the deluge of tweets on my timeline affirmed, the population of Muslims in India has increased from 9.80 per cent of the total population in the 1951 census to 14.23 per cent in the 2011 census.

These statistics, the argument goes, underscore how tolerant Hindu majoritarianism is – and how intolerant Muslim majoritarianism in the Valley has proved to be.

Globally Islam has been hijacked by medieval thinking. The repository of Islam’s holiest shrines, Saudi Arabia, instead of being a progressive leader of Islam worldwide, has set the worst possible example. Its Wahhabi version of Islam forbids women to drive or vote. It outsources jihad to terror outfits like the Islamic State (ISIS), which it initially funded, and al-Qaeda.

Turkey, Indonesia and Malaysia, three large non-Arab Muslim-majority countries, have all regressed into semi-autocracies. Apart from Tunisia, where the Arab Spring brought some reform, the entire Arab world and non-Arab Iran have descended into sectarian conflict, civil strife or religious obscurantism. What is wrong with contemporary Islam? The answer lies partly in its rigid theological interpretation by Islamic clergy and partly in the shadow of history.

Islam began violently. The Sunni-Shia conflict is over 1,300 years old. The sword rather than the book has been used to settle internal differences as well as proselytise.

Despite the violence, Islam was civilisationally advanced till the 13th century. But just when medieval Christianity in Europe was reforming itself by setting up universities (Oxford, Cambridge, Heidelberg and the Sorbonne) in the 13th century, Islam took the wrong fork in the road.

For the next five hundred years, till the 18th century, it leaned on the sword. Its all-conquering armies reached the gates of Venice in Austria before being driven back in 1716 in the Battle of Petrovaradin.

Full report at: dnaindia.com/analysis/column-the-cultural-fault-line-2255848

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13 Muslim youths get 5 year term for terrorist activities

September 17, 2016

Bangalore: Special Terrorism Court of Bangalore pronounced 5 year imprisonment term to 13 Muslim youths of LeT. They are Shoeb Ahmed Mirza (27), Abdul Hakeem Jamadar (30), Riyaz Ahmed Bhatti (32), Mohammed Akram (27), Obaidullah Bahadur (28) Waheed Husain (31), Dr. Zafar Iqbal, Mohammed Sadiq Lashkar (33), Mehoob Bagalkot (32), Obaidurahman (26), Dr. Nayeem Siddiqui (32), Dr. Imran Ahmed (30) and Mr. Syed Tanseem Ahmed (27).

Obaid ur Rahman belong to Hyderabad. These youths were arrest August- September 2012. They were convicted on the statements given by 240 eye witnesses. The youths requested that they have been in prison for the past four years. The judge ordered to keep them for another 1 year.

Source: siasat.com/news/13-muslim-youths-get-5-year-term-terrorist-activities-1022062/

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India slams Pakistan’s ‘deep state’ as both face off over Kashmir at UN

September 17, 2016

Geneva/New Delhi: India and Pakistan continued to trade diplomatic barbs over Kashmir at the UN Human Rights Council, with Islamabad raising the issue of “unceasing oppression” even as New Delhi hit back, saying “Pakistan-occupied Kashmir is administered by a “deep state” and also raked up alleged human rights violations in Balochistan.

A day after both sides were locked in a diplomatic stand-off over Kashmir, ahead of Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s address to the 71st session of the UN General Assembly, the exchange continued at the 33rd Session of the UN Human Rights Council.

Under the Right to Reply, India countered Pakistan for raising the issue of alleged human rights abuses in Jammu and Kashmir, terming its “unsolicited and unwarranted comments” as “factually incorrect and bear no relationship to reality”.

India slammed Pakistan for continually referring to the UN Security Council Resolutions on Jammu & Kashmir, saying that Islamabad “very conveniently forgets its own obligation under these resolutions which is to acefirst vacate the illegal occupation of Pakistan Occupied Kashmir”. It also accused Pakistan of “blatantly disregarding” its commitments under the 1972 Simla Agreement, the 2004 Joint Declaration foreswearing terrorism, and the understanding reached at Ufa, Russia,in 2015.

India countered Pakistan for saying that Jammu and Kashmir was under foreign occupation, saying “Yes, a part of it is, and the occupier in question is Pakistan”.

It said that the “foremost challenge to stability in Kashmir is the scourge of terrorism, which receives sustenance from Pakistan and the territories under Pakistan’s control”.

India said it has handed over “Concrete evidence about cross-border encouragement and support for the protests in Kashmir” to Pakistan, but instead of trying to address the issue, “Pakistan resorts to short-sighted tactics to divert attention”.

“Pakistan-occupied Kashmir is administered by a deep state and has become an epicentre of terrorism. Pakistan’s human rights record in Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir and Balochistan is deplorable. It has had no hesitation in using air power and artillery against its own people, not once but repeatedly over the years.AIt is high time for Pakistan to do some deep introspection,” India said.

It urged Pakistan to focus on “improving human rights situation and dismantling the terrorism infrastructure in Pakistan and Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir”.

Under its Second Right to Reply, India slammed Pakistan, saying it was ironical that a nation “that has established a well earned reputation of being the global epicentre of terrorism” was holding forth on human rights.

“In the last two decades, the most wanted terrorists of the world have found succor and sustenance in Pakistan. This tradition unfortunately continues even today, not surprising when its government employs terrorism as an instrument of state policy,” it said.

India said the current unrest in Jammu and Kashmir began after the death “in police action of a self-proclaimed terrorist commander of Hizbul Mujahideen with links to the adeep state’ across the border”.

“Since then, we have seen continuous flow of terrorists trained and armed by our neighbour and convincing proof that they have been tasked with creating incidents that would lead to casualties in the civilian population,a India said.

“There cannot be a more cynical policy that targets the very people for whom such deep concern is professed.”

It said the pervasive practice of terrorism was also hurting neighbors.

“In fact, Pakistan is a nation that practises terrorism on its own people. The sufferings of the people of Balochistan are a telling testimony in this regard. Not coincidentally, this region also serves as a base to conduct terrorism and violate human rights in a neighbouring country.”

India urged the UN Human Rights Council to take a “clear cut stance against the egregious violation of human rights through state-sponsored terrorism”.

Nearly 90 Apeople have died in clashes with security forces in Jammu and Kashmir in the aftermath of the killing of Hizbul commander Burhan Wani.

The sharp exchanges come as Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif met leaders of the Hurriyat in Pakistan-Administered Kashmir, with the aim of raising the issue of alleged human rights violations in Kashmir at the UNGA.

Source: siasat.com/news/india-slams-pakistans-deep-state-face-kashmir-un-1022033/

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Beef Export Rose by Two-And-A-Half Times under Modi Govt: Uttar Pradesh Minister

 September 17, 2016

Mathura: Uttar Pradesh Minister Azam Khan today alleged that the export of beef has shot up by two-and- a-half times under the Narendra Modi government.

“BJP criticised previous governments for promoting beef export. But under Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the export of beef has shot up two-and-a-half times. The party is indulging in double speak,” Khan said at an event here.

Khan alleged that Modi has failed to deliver on the promises he made in the run up to the 2014 Lok Sabha polls.

He alleged that the Modi government was “deceiving people in the name of cleaning the Ganga, while innocent people are getting killed in the name of protecting cows”.

Asked about factional feud in the Samajwadi Party, the minister said, “Neta Ji (Mulayam Singh Yadav) would settle the issue amicably.

Source: business-standard.com/article/pti-stories/beef-export-rose-by-two-and-a-half-times-under-modi-govt-azam-116091700002_1.html

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Hindu-Muslim couple found killed in Thane

Nishikant Karlikar

Sep 17, 2016

THANE: The highly decomposed bodies of a 30-year-old man and his nine-month pregnant wife were found at their home in Daighar area here on Thursday, a case that the police said might well be one of honour killing.

The throats of the couple, Vijay Shankar Jagmohan Yadav and Sufia Abrar Mansuri alias Priya (22), were slit and the bodies bore several injury marks, but there were no signs of forced entry or robbery. The door to the flat of the Hindu-Muslim couple was locked from outside.

The couple hailed from Unnao district of Uttar Pradesh. The two are believed to have come to live in Sagar building in Daighar village soon after marrying in April last year, said senior police inspector Krishnath Katkar of the Daighar police station.

Yadav worked with a private company in MIDC. Katkar said that locals believed the couple had come to live there after marrying for love. The officer said the woman was due to deliver towards the end of the month.

The bodies were sent for post-mortem. The fact that the throats of the couple were slit was a clear sign of murder, said the police.

"They could have been attacked with a sharp weapon by a known person as no forced entry is seen like in the case of a robbery attempt," a senior police officer, who requested anonymity , said.

The murder came to light when locals complained to the police about a foul smell emanating from the flat.

The police said the family members of both would be questioned. A team of police officers left for Unnao. Some neighbours told the police that they believed the couple had run away from home and were living an isolated life, rarely interacting with anyone in the locality.

"They came down from Unnao in UP April 2015, and started living here," a police officer said. "As they hardly spoke to the neighbours, very few people knew anything about them."

A neighbour, who did not wish to be named, said that but for the occasional smile, the couple kept its distance. Another neighbour said no one had seen anyone visiting the couple. The police registered offences under Section 302 (murder) of the IPC against unidentified accused.

Source: timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/thane/Hindu-Muslim-couple-found-killed-in-Thane/articleshow/54372675.cms

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India willing to share Mumbai attack evidence with Pakistan

September 17, 2016

ISLAMABAD: The Foreign Office on Friday said India has expressed its readiness to share material evidence regarding the Mumbai attacks with Pakistan.

“In reply to the Foreign Secretary of Pakistan’s letter, dated September 8, 2015, the Indian Foreign Secretary, in his letter of September 6, 2016, has expressed India’s readiness to share the material evidence, which Pakistan had been seeking for quite some time for the Mumbai trial,” said Nafees Zakaria, spokesperson for the Foreign Office.

The spokesperson added that the material evidence and cross examination of prosecution witnesses is needed to proceed further with the trial in Pakistan as per the law of the land.

“Legal aspects and modalities of the proposal contained in the Indian Foreign Secretary’s letter are current being examined by our legal experts,” elaborated Zakaria.

Earlier in August, the arrest of an alleged financier of the 2008 Mumbai terrorist attacks has been termed a breakthrough in the otherwise stalled case, but it may delay the conclusion of the trial pending in an anti-terrorism court (ATC) since 2009.

In January, Islamabad asked the Indian government to send the 24 witnesses to Pakistan to testify against the seven suspects, including Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi, the alleged mastermind of the attacks.

Lakhvi and the other suspects — Abdul Wajid, Mazhar Iqbal, Hammad Amin Sadiq, Shahid Jameel Riaz, Jamil Ahmed and Younus Anjum — are being tried by the ATC in Islamabad.

The prosecution completed the testimony of the 68 Pakistani witnesses earlier this year.

Source: dawn.com/news/1284128/india-willing-to-share-mumbai-attack-evidence-with-pakistan

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Mideast

Two soldiers killed, four wounded in clashes with PKK in eastern Turkey

September 17, 2016

Two soldiers were killed and four others were wounded in clashes between security forces and outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) militants in the rural parts of the Agacdibi village of central Hakkari province in eastern Turkey.

The clashes began at around 11.00 am on Sept. 17 in the rural parts of Agacdibi, located near the Hakkari-Cukurca road, some 25 kilometers from central Hakkari.

Sources have said four militants were also killed in the clashes. While the wounded soldiers were taken to Hakkari public hospital, an aerial operation began against militants in the area. 

Source: hurriyetdailynews.com/two-soldiers-killed-four-wounded-in-clashes-with-pkk-in-eastern-turkey.aspx?pageID=238&nID=103973&NewsCatID=341

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New satellite to launch later this year, contribute to Turkey’s terror fight

September 17, 2016

A new Turkish satellite set to launch in December is expected to contribute to the Turkish Armed Forces’ (TSK) fight against terror, daily Milliyet reported on Sept. 16.

The satellite, named Göktürk 1, is scheduled to be launched into space on Dec. 5 from French Guiana in South America.

Göktürk 1 will also be used for civil applications such as controlling forested areas, monitoring illegal construction, quickly determining the extent of damage caused by natural disasters and monitoring harvests.

However Göktürk 1’s primary mission will be to answer the needs of the TSK, especially in the fight against terrorism. The satellite cost Turkey 261.5 million euros and is expected to have a lifespan of seven years. The satellite is expected to be used primarily in Turkey’s eastern and southeastern regions, as well as Iraq and Syria. It is also expected to be used in military operations conducted in Syria.

The new satellite will be able to get high resolution images from lower than 1 meter. The current satellite in use, Göktürk 2, gets high resolution images from 2.5 meters.

The tests of the satellite were conducted in Turkey.

Source: hurriyetdailynews.com/new-satellite-to-launch-later-this-year-contribute-to-turkeys-terror-fight.aspx?pageID=238&nID=103955&NewsCatID=341

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Cyprus deal possible in 90 days: Akıncı

September 17, 2016

A peace deal can be reached on Cyprus within 90 days if both sides of the divided Mediterranean island are willing and decisive about the issue, Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akıncı has said.

“We have come to a point where the willpower, political courage and decisiveness factors weigh more heavily than the time factor. If there is will and decisiveness then 90 days is enough [to reach a peace deal on the island],” Akıncı said in a televised interview on Sept. 15 in response to a question on whether Greek Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades would take a possible resolution to his nation, according to a transcript of the interview published on the Turkish Cypriot Presidency’s website on Sept. 15.

Akıncı added that out of the total of six negotiation chapters, a consensus was reached in most of the topics under four chapters, while the remaining two chapters - Security and Guarantees, and Territory – would not take up as much time as the Governance and Power-Sharing, and Property chapters. Ninety days would therefore be enough to reach the long-anticipated deal.

Akıncı comments on Anastasiades’ social media post

Akıncı said his Greek Cypriot counterpart had engaged in an effort to prepare his side for a possible resolution on the island, citing a recent Facebook post by Anastasiades.

“There was a statement [by Anastasiades] on Facebook. There were very bold remarks. He was able to express some things [topics] that was not pronounced previously and that he had also not said,” Akıncı said. “But we need to see if it will continue. We will see this within 90 days.”

The eastern Mediterranean island was divided into a Turkish Cypriot state in the north and a Greek Cypriot state in the south after a 1974 military coup aimed at unification with Greece was followed by the intervention of Turkey as a guarantor power.

Efforts to find a peaceful solution to the more than 40-year-old conflict were relaunched after previously failed peace talks were opened once again in May 2015 following the election of Akıncı as the new president of Turkish Cyprus.

On Sept. 14, speaking after the final meeting of a series of intensified meetings between Akıncı and Anastasiades, the U.N. Secretary-General’s special Adviser for Cyprus Espen Barth Eide said the two sides were committed to reaching a peace deal before the year ends, but gaps on controversial issues remained.

Akıncı and Anastasiades are scheduled to meet U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Sept. 25 in New York in a tripartite meeting, while the United Nations General Assembly will be held.

‘Turkey, Greece talking over Cyprus peace deal’

Akıncı said negotiations would continue after the meeting in New York with Ban and the multi-partite conference, including the guarantor states, would be hold in a later and unspecified date.

“The foreign ministers of Turkey and Greece are talking. These talks will enhance in New York [during the General Assembly]. [Turkish President Recep Tayyip] Erdoğan and [Greek Prime Minister Alexis] Tsipras will also meet. Eide went to Athens [recently] and held a meeting with Tsipras for one-and-a-half hours, and he met with [Greek] Foreign Minister [Nikos] Kotzias for three-and-a-half hours. Greece is now involved in the process,” he added.

Akıncı reiterated that the peace process negotiations should reach an end in 2016 as there were many risks in 2017. He said the last months of 2016 were crucial, referring the start of searches for natural gas reserves, the presidential elections in the Greek Cypriot administration set for 2018, and the United States presidential elections in November, after which U.S. President Barack Obama, who supports the Cyprus peace process, will leave office.

‘Two founding states, one identity’

Speaking about the details of the federal state that will be formed if a deal is reached, Akıncı said the new state would have two founding states but its international identity, sovereignty and citizenship would be one.

He said the new federal state would hold the powers that will be listed in the new constitution and the topics left out of that list would be governed by the two founding states, “such as the health and education topics.”

“Foreign policy will be a federal authority with the contribution of the founding states,” Akıncı said.

He also stated that both the Turkish and Greek Cypriots would have four fundamental guaranteed freedoms in a settlement: Movement, settlement, business establishment, and possession.

Source: hurriyetdailynews.com/90-days-is-enough-to-reach-a-peace-deal-in-cyprus-says-turkish-cypriot-leader-.aspx?pageID=238&nID=103952&NewsCatID=351

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Turkey key to solving Europe’s problems: Turkish parliament speaker

September 17, 2016

Turkey, a founder of the Council of Europe, is one of the key members in tackling the challenges the group faces, Turkish Parliament Speaker Ismail Kahraman said on Sept. 16.

His remarks came in an address at the European Conference of Presidents of Parliaments in Strasbourg.  

Kahraman highlighted the Council of Europe’s growing importance in challenges discussed during the meeting without making concessions to democracy, human rights or the rule of law.     

“Trkey, as one of the founding countries of the Council of Europe, has been among the largest contributors to its budget to boost its operational capacity to overcome challenges,” he said.    

About Turkey’s contributions, he added, “We continue to help protect and improve our common values, as we have done so far.”       

The parliament speaker also said Turkey will host the group’s next conference in 2018.       

The European Conference of Presidents of Parliaments is hosted by one of the member countries every two years and lasts for two days.

Source: hurriyetdailynews.com/turkey-key-to-solving-europes-problems-turkish-parliament-speaker.aspx?pageID=238&nID=103956&NewsCatID=338

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US Special Forces join Turkish troops in al-Rai

September 17, 2016

U.S. special forces are accompanying Turkish troops and Free Syrian Army (FSA) fighters along the Turkish border near Jarabulus and al-Rai in Syria, the Pentagon told Anadolu Agency on Sept. 16.

The move came “at the request of the government of Turkey”, according to agency spokesman Capt. Jeff Davis.

“U.S. personnel operating with Turkish forces and Syrian opposition forces will provide the same train, advise and assist support they have been providing to other local partners in Syria fighting ISIL,” Davis wrote in an email.

The new development comes as the Free Syrian Army, backed by Turkish artillery earlier in the day, began to move toward Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) stronghold al-Bab, nearly 30 kilometers (20 miles) south of al-Rai as a part of Operation Euphrates Shield.

Operation Euphrates Shield was launched Aug. 24 by Ankara and aims at improving security, supporting coalition forces and eliminating the terror threat along Turkey’s border using Free Syrian Army fighters backed by Turkish armor, artillery and jets.

The Syrian town of al-Rai and Jarabulus city were recently cleared of ISIL militants as part of the operation.

Davis said the U.S. would continue to support the counter-ISIL fight in northern Syria because “access to the Syria-Turkey border region is strategically important to ISIL's operations in Syria and Iraq as well as the group's attempts to export terror to Turkey, the wider region, Europe and the United States”.

“Denying ISIL access to this critical border cuts off critical supply routes in and out of Iraq and Syria and further isolates ISIL's so-called 'capital' in Raqqa,” he added.

Meanwhile, the Turkish General Staff released a statement about Operation Euphrates Shield, saying artillery had hit 26 ISIL targets.

The statement also said an improvised explosive device hit Tatimus area of northern Syria, killing five Syrian opposition fighters and injuring six others.

According to Turkey’s military, four air operations were conducted in the Kunaytirah, Tatimus, Caqqa and Baragidah areas, killing five ISIL militants.

Operations in al-Rai continue with exploration, observation and target acquisition, the military added.

The statement also confirmed that U.S. special operations forces accompanied Turkish troops in al-Rai.

Source: hurriyetdailynews.com/us-forces-enter-syrian-town-then-withdraw-rebel-source-and-monitor.aspx?pageID=238&nID=103972&NewsCatID=352

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Government completes removal of military units from city centers after failed coup

September 17, 2016

The Turkish government has completed the removal of military units from city centers, including Istanbul and the capital Ankara, as part of measures taken in the aftermath of the failed coup attempt of July 15.

The relocation process has included key military divisions in the capital with their tanks, armored vehicles, and all their military equipment.

“The removal process in Istanbul and Ankara is completed. From now on, tracked armored vehicles will no longer be held in city centers,” Defense Minister Fikri Işık was quoted as saying by the state-run Anadolu Agency on Sept. 16.

Işık stated that once the removal process is fully completed, the military fields and buildings will be opened to public use.

The decision to remove military units from city centers was taken after the coup attempt, as Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım vowed to take all necessary measures to prevent the reoccurrence of such attempts.

“We will take very radical measures. All military units will be removed from city centers,” Yıldırım said on July 23.

The removal process in Ankara’s Armored Unit School and Training Division Command started in late August. Sixty-two tanks and 37 armored personnel carriers, as well as armored combat carriers in the training division command in the Etimesgut district of Ankara, were transported to Şereflikoçhisar, a province of the capital city. While tanks were carried by tank carriers, the supplies in barracks were transported by trailers.

Another 66 tanks and 43 armored personnel carriers from the same division will be transported via railway to military units in Burdur, a southwestern Anatolian town, in the coming days. 

Meanwhile, the transportation process in the Mechanized Infantry Brigade Command in Ankara has been completed. Some 40 tanks and 110 armored crawlers, including armored personnel carriers and armored combat vehicles, and six howitzers were transported to units in the Central Anatolian town of Çankırı.

Two commands in Istanbul have been removed to other cities. Some 14 howitzers in the Armored Brigade Command in Istanbul have been transported to military units in the southeastern province of Kahramanmaraş, while 80 tanks and 169 tracked armor vehicles have been transported to Gaziantep, on Turkey’s border with Syria, via railway. In addition, 40 tanks in Mechanized Infantry Brigade Command in Istanbul’s Bağcılar district have been removed to the Thracian province of Tekirdağ while 15 howitzers and 158 tracked armor vehicles have been sent to units in Sivas in eastern Turkey.

In addition to the relocation of military units, the government is also considering moving the offices of the Chief of General Staff and all force commanders from downtown Ankara to the outskirts of the capital.

Source: hurriyetdailynews.com/government-completes-removal-of-military-units-from-city-centers-after-failed-coup.aspx?pageID=238&nID=103954&NewsCatID=341

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Merkel criticizes Turkey over press freedom

September 17, 2016

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has criticized Turkey over press freedom, at an award ceremony of the Sanssouci Colloquium held in Germany’s Potsdam. Merkel mentioned the former editor-in-chief of the daily Cumhuriyet, Can Dündar, during her speech, as she stressed the significance of press freedom.

Saying that press freedom should be defended every time, Merkel noted that press freedom was outside the boundaries of state control and censorship, adding that journalists should be able to report on corruption without being subjected to fear and tracking.

Dündar and Cumhuriyet Ankara bureau chief Erdem Gül faced trial for “leaking state secrets” due to stories they published about Turkish intelligence trucks allegedly bound for Syria with hidden weapons in early 2014.

During the ceremony, Italian writer Roberto Saviano, who is well known for his stance against the mafia, received the M100 Media award, which he dedicated to two brothers under detention in Turkey, Ahmet Altan, a journalist and Prof. Mehmet Altan, an academic and columnist.

Saviano, who defended that Turkey should become a member of the European Union, said that the situation of the Altan brothers would closely concern them if Turkey were an EU member.

In addition, Dündar, who participated in the ceremony, noted that at least 220 journalists were jailed in Turkey.

Meanwhile, Ahmet and Mehmet Altan wrote letters while under detention. The Altan brothers criticized the charges against them in their letters, which were released to the press via their lawyers.

“We were detained for giving subliminal messages suggesting a military coup on a TV program. A conscious [individual] who can allege this can also allege that we talk to aliens or fly like Superman in the sky using our magnetic powers,” Ahmet Altan wrote in his letter, adding that the charges against them will “definitely go down in history.”

“However, it is hard to know if it will be in the history of comedy or law,” he also wrote. 

Ahmet Altan, a novelist and former editor-in-chief of daily Taraf, is also on trial along with his colleagues for “leaking state secrets” for stories on an alleged coup plan by the Turkish military.

Source: hurriyetdailynews.com/merkel-criticizes-turkey-over-press-freedom--.aspx?pageID=238&nID=103951&NewsCatID=339

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Turkey detains four over suspected plot against British, German missions

September 17, 2016

Turkish authorities have detained four people as part of an investigation into a potential threat against British and German diplomatic missions in the country but found no links to any terrorist groups, a Turkish official told Reuters on Sept. 16. 

The investigation was prompted by intelligence about a potential Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) plot against the countries’ embassies, the official said.

“Four people were detained in relation to a potential act against the two embassies. Security remains at the highest level. We continue to cooperate closely and share information with the foreign missions,” the official said.

Three of the suspects were detained in the capital Ankara and the other was detained in Istanbul, state-run Anadolu Agency said.

Britain shut its embassy in Ankara on Sept. 16 for what its foreign office said were security reasons, without giving further details.

A spokesman for Germany’s foreign ministry confirmed its diplomatic offices were closed this week, citing both a four-day public holiday in Turkey and information, which he described as “not completely verifiable,” about a potential attack.

“We take such leads seriously,” the spokesman told reporters at a regular news conference in Berlin. “So we decided to keep our diplomatic missions and German schools in Turkey closed this week. It was a precautionary measure.”

He said the government would make a decision after the weekend on whether the missions would reopen on Sept. 19.

Separately, state-run Anadolu Agency said police have detained 24 foreign nationals suspected of planning an attack in Istanbul for ISIL.

The agency said police raided a location where a Syrian national identified as Azzov K. was staying following a tip-off about a planned attack.

Police found 23 other men at the same location in Istanbul’s Küçükçekmece neighborhood, which abuts the city’s main Ataturk airport.

Police said Azzov K. allegedly purchased explosives and ammunition to be used in the attacks.

Authorities said of the 24 suspects in custody, nine were in leadership positions while 15 had arrived in Turkey from abroad to cross into Syria.

Turkey has suffered a series of suicide bombings and attacks by ISIL and the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) over the past several months.

Source: hurriyetdailynews.com/turkey-detains-four-over-suspected-plot-against-british-german-missions-.aspx?pageID=238&nID=103943&NewsCatID=509

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Pakistan

Curfew in Mohmand as suicide attack death toll rises to 30

September 17, 2016

PESHAWAR: A curfew has been imposed in Mohmand Agency’s Anbar tehsil following a suicide attack in a mosque which left 30 people dead, local political administration officials said on Saturday.

After imposing the curfew, security forces launched a search operation in the area, Assistant Political Agent Naveed Akbar said.

The political administration also announced a compensation of Rs300,000 for families of each of the dead and Rs100,000 for each of the injured.

A suicide bomber targeted the mosque in Mohmand's Pai Khan village during Friday prayers, leaving at least 30 worshipers dead and wounding 30 others. Several children were also among those killed or wounded in the deadly attack.

Pashin Gul, the head of local tribal police, confirmed to the Associated Press that it was a suicide attack.

Jamaatul Ahrar, an offshoot of the banned Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan, claimed responsibility for the bombing and said the target were members of pro-government tribal lashkars.

Jamaatul Ahrar had also claimed responsibility for the September 2 attack on a court in Mardan, where at least 14 people were killed and 50 others injured.

The group had also said it was behind an attack on lawyers in Quetta, which killed 73 people on August 8, as well as the Lahore Easter bombing that left 75 dead in what was the deadliest attack to hit the country this year.

Poor rescue arrangements

Sawab Khan, a resident of Anbar, who was brought to the Agency Headquarters Hospital (AHH) at Ghalanai in the Mohmand tribal region with injuries, said he was offering prayers along with at least 200 other worshippers when he heard a shout of ‘Allahu Akbar’ followed by an explosion.

“There was blood everywhere [and] the verandah was destroyed,” he recalled.

Sawab Khan said most of the injured were waiting for vehicles to be taken to hospitals because there were no arrangements of transportation in the area.

Soft targets such as courts, schools and mosques are routinely attacked.

The army launched an operation in June 2014 in a bid to wipe out militant bases in the tribal areas and so bring an end to the bloody insurgency that has cost thousands of civilian lives since 2004.

As a result, security in the country has since improved. Scattered attacks still take place, but they are fewer and of a lesser intensity than in previous years.

According to data from the South Asia Terrorism Portal, 457 civilians and 182 members of the security forces were killed in Pakistan from January 1 to September 11, putting 2016 on course for fewer casualties than 2015.

Last year, the country recorded its lowest number of killings since 2007.

Source: dawn.com/news/1284337/curfew-in-mohmand-as-suicide-attack-death-toll-rises-to-30

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Rights group urges Pakistan not to hang mentally ill man

September 17, 2016

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan must not hang a mentally ill man suffering from paranoid schizophrenia, a rights group said Friday, after a court issued a warrant for his execution next week.

Death row prisoner, Imdad Ali, who is around 50 years old, was sentenced to death for the murder of a religious teacher in 2002.

"Imdad Ali is mentally ill and has suffered years without proper treatment," a report by local watchdog the Justice Project Pakistan (JPP) said, adding he had been diagnosed as a "paranoid schizophrenic".

JPP said it had filed an appeal against a Lahore High Court decision last month which dismissed pleas that Ali could not be executed on the basis of his mental illness.

His medical condition should be looked into, as well as the extenuating circumstances that had aggravated his mental illness during his lengthy time on death row, the organisation argued.

Ali's execution has been scheduled for September 20, it said.

Prison authorities have sent a letter seen by AFP to his relatives asking if they want a final meeting with him the day before his execution in the town of Vehari.

JPP executive director Sarah Belal said Pakistan would violate its international legal commitments if it executed a mentally ill person.

"Executing Imdad will exemplify Pakistan's failure to abide by its international legal commitments that forbid the death penalty for persons suffering from mental disabilities," Belal told AFP.

"Knowing what they do about his condition would make his hanging a most serious crime."

The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CPRD), which Pakistan ratified in 2011, guarantees the “inherent dignity” of individuals with disabilities, she said.

Pakistan reinstated the death penalty and established military courts after suffering its deadliest-ever extremist attack, when gunmen stormed Peshawar's Army Public School in 2014 and killed more than 150 people mostly children.

Hangings were initially reinstated only for those convicted of terrorism, but later extended to all capital offences.

The country has executed over 400 people since resuming hangings in December 2014, according to new research by Reprieve, a British anti-death penalty campaign group.

Source: dawn.com/news/1284333/rights-group-urges-pakistan-not-to-hang-mentally-ill-man

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Electronic media turns a blind eye to Mohmand mosque attack

September 17, 2016

PESHAWAR: The mainstream electronic media might be deaf and blind to the terrorist attack on a mosque in Mohmand Agency, but some rights activists on social media picked up the issue of not covering a deadly blast killing 22 and running non-stop tickers of arrest of a politician in Karachi instead.

“Had this blast happened in Kashmir instead of Mohmand Agency, Pakistani politicians, including the PM, would be in queue to issue statements,” reads a tweet on social media about the Friday’s mosque attack.

“Fata is bleeding and news channels are happy to glue themselves to Khwaja Izhar and Rao Anwar...and they call themselves beacon of information,” said a lawyer in his tweet criticising the mainstream media for blacking out the Friday’s attack in Mohmand tribal agency and running tickers of arrest of MQM’s leader of opposition in Sindh Assembly Khwaja Izharul Hassan.

Only two private Pashto TV channels based in Peshawar showed updates and details of the terrorist attack on Mohmand mosque.

Bushra Gohar, a rights activist-turned politician, expressed her disappointment at the electronic media for not giving coverage to attacks in Mardan and Peshawar and the recent attack in Mohmand Agency.

“Firstly, Pakhtuns don’t have a channel of their own to highlight issues of this region. Secondly, Punjab-centric media is controlled and right winged. They never discuss serious issues like that of conflict in Fata and displacement,” said Bushra Gohar while explaining why the mainstream electronic media did not give any coverage to the issues of Fata , Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan which had still been bearing the brunt of terrorism and extremism. Not running any ticker on the blast in Mohmand Agency is the latest example of this selective reporting by the mainstream electronic media.

“The Fata people and its land have been used for the last over 60 years as strategic depth and human life has no value there,” said Bushra Gohar.

Ijaz Mohmand, a senior lawyer hailing from Mohmand Agency, seemed angered at the electronic media for not showing the tragic event and its details to let the world know how the people of Fata were suffering.

“We sensed it ourselves when we continuously saw arrest of a politician in Karachi on our TV screens, but there was no mention of the attack on mosque in Mohmand where mostly boys were hit and being transferred for treatment to Bajaur and Peshawar,” said Ijaz Mohmand, calling all those analysts and security analysts pseudo-intellectuals who seem to have no words when it comes to situation of Fata and never speak on the issues that are taking toll on the lives of people in tribal areas.

“…the screams of pain of the affected have yet to reach media houses,” Prof Khadim Hussain , a writer and analyst, tweeted when 22 persons were hit in a mosque during Friday prayers in Mohmand Agency.

Speaking on the issue of why electronic media refrained from discussing or highlighting the events in tribal areas, Prof Hussain told Dawn that when states used some areas for its strategic purposes then such areas become more like a black hole and its people were so much dehumanised by the state with its policies that even media was pressured to think anyone talking about the issues of Fata as a criticism against the state itself.

“Look what happened in Quetta, Peshawar and Kabul and now in Mohmand where innocent people were killed. On the one hand, the state is not ready to review policies causing pain in these areas, on the other, those who bring out the voice of these people are looked upon as working against the state,” explained Prof Hussain while analysing why the electronic media looked the other way when it came to highlighting the issues relating to troubled tribal areas or Balochistan.

Source: dawn.com/news/1284267/electronic-media-turns-a-blind-eye-to-mohmand-mosque-attack

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Under pressure, Punjab undecided about Rangers powers

September 17, 2016

LAHORE: The Punjab government, which has agreed to seek assistance of Rangers in combating terrorists, is under tremendous pressure to also engage the paramilitary force in netting ordinary criminals, highly placed official sources said on Friday.

The provincial government had expressed its willingness to seek deployment of Rangers for a period of two months to assist police and the Counter-Terrorism Department (CTD) in hunting down terrorists and their facilitators and combating banned organisations across the province.

A notification for the purpose was prepared last week. It was to be sent to the federal interior ministry by the Punjab chief minister for approval for deployment of Rangers.

Province wants paramilitary force to assist police against terrorists, not criminals

Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah Khan had told Dawn that the notification would be issued by the governor and Rangers would only assist police and the CTD in conducting intelligence-based operations and providing security during Eidul Azha and Muharram. “This is not going to be the Karachi-like deployment of Rangers who have been given policing powers by the Sindh Assembly,” he said.

But no notification about Rangers’ deployment has been issued so far.

The only development was a Sept 11 directive by Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif to police for launching a crackdown on criminal elements throughout the province and breaking their rackets within 60 days.

There has been an increase in intelligence-based combing operations in various parts of the province being jointly conducted by the CTD of Punjab police and intelligence agencies.

Sources in the Punjab government said the notification could not be issued because of objections by the army which wanted Rangers to also deal with ordinary criminals.

But the provincial government insisted that its police were enough to deal with ordinary crimes.

The sources said that as per the draft notification, Rangers (if engaged in Punjab under Section 7, read with 10 of the Pakistan Rangers Ordinance, 1959) will assist police and the CTD in fighting outlawed organisations, terrorists and their facilitators.

The quantum of the force will be determined by the provincial apex committee, headed by the Punjab chief minister, after due assessment of credible information justifying the intelligence-based operations.

According to the sources, the military authorities are not agreeing to such a condition. They also want Rangers to net criminals like police do. The Punjab government had been opposing it altogether, the sources said.

The provincial government had been opposing the deployment of Rangers in the past, fearing this would affect its administrative independence. But this time it is hard to resist the pressure in the aftermath of the recent act of terrorism in Quetta.

The Punjab government is still trying to keep the engagement of Rangers limited to catching terrorists.

“There is pressure on the Punjab government on this issue which is being handled at the highest level,” said an official when asked whether Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif or the Punjab chief minister was holding negotiations on the matter.

Law Minister Rana Sanaullah, who also heads the provincial committee on law and order that deals with such matters, could not be contacted for his comments on the issue despite repeated attempts.

Source: dawn.com/news/1284305/under-pressure-punjab-undecided-about-rangers-powers

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MQM's Khawaja Izhar is called chief of target killers: SSP Rao Anwar

September 17, 2016

KARACHI: SSP Malir Rao Anwar, talking to media persons after the arrest of MQM's Khawaja Izharul Hassan, referred to the arrested MQM leader as the “chief of target killers”.

“We had intelligence reports of his involvement in unrest. There was a spike in target killings in New Karachi, and he is also called the chief of target killers,” alleged Anwar.

The SSP also clarified that permission from the Speaker of the Sindh Assembly is not needed, and the speaker only needs to be informed if law enforcement agencies arrest a lawmaker.

“We need to inform in writing the speaker of the national or provincial assemblies after the arrest is made. Arrests are made according to law.”

The senior police official reiterated that arresting an individual is part of the procedure, and the individual can only be released through a court order.

“The leaders of the political party were picked up by Rangers some weeks back, and no one said a word,” lamented the SSP.

He added that Hassan has pending FIRs against him, and there should be no finger pointing if a police official acts in line with his duty.

“I have adopted a legal procedure for his arrest,” said the officer.

Anwar also termed his suspension from duty as a wrongful act.

“I was placed under suspension in haste and it was wrong to do so,” said Rao Anwar.

Anwar warned that there would be “side effects” of his suspension.

When asked by the media if he was under orders from security agencies, Anwar denied the allegation and said he was not instructed to make the arrest by any security agency.

The SSP said MQM leaders had raised slogans against Pakistan and had used abusive language against the armed forces

He believed that it was a wrong to say that the MQM leaders in Pakistan had “disconnected” with their founder, Altaf Hussain in London.

“They are still working under orders of Altaf Hussain,” believed Rao Anwar.

To another question, the police officer said there was no need to seek permission from IG Sindh for such an arrest.

“If there was FIR registered against anyone, a sub-inspector has powers to arrest such persons nominated in the FIR and he has no need to seek permission from anyone.”

Earlier in the day, police raided Izhar's residence, after which the chief minister ordered suspension of the station house officer at a Sohrab Goth police station and sought a report from Inspector General Police Sindh A.D. Khawaja regarding the raid.

Source: dawn.com/news/1284129/mqms-khawaja-izhar-is-called-chief-of-target-killers-ssp-rao-anwar

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Pakistan 'disappointed' over Afghan leadership's behaviour: Foreign Office

September 17, 2016

ISLAMABAD: The Foreign Office on Friday expressed disappointment over the “unhelpful statements” made by the Afghan leadership and termed it “complete disregard to the efforts that Pakistan has made for peace and stability in Afghanistan”.

Foreign Office’s statement was in response to Afghan President Ashraf Ghani’s earlier call to involve India in transit trade with Afghanistan.

“We have noted with disappointment the unhelpful statements made by Afghan leadership in complete disregard to the efforts that Pakistan has made and continues to make for peace and stability in Afghanistan,” Foreign Office spokesperson Nafees Zakaria told reporters in the federal capital.

“We remain committed to lasting peace and stability in Afghanistan,” he said, adding that Pakistan firmly believes that peace in Afghanistan was in its interest and necessary for stability and progress of the region.

“Our efforts for peace, stability and economic progress are a matter of our commitment to brotherly people of Afghanistan — millions of whom have been hosted in Pakistan for past 37 years,” he maintained.

Ghani, during a meeting with the UK’s special envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan Owen Jenkins in Kabul last week, had threatened to block Pakistan’s trade access to Central Asian States (CAS) if it did not allow Afghanistan to trade with India through the Wagah border.

The foreign office spokesperson said that under a transit trade agreement between the two countries, Pakistan was extending all services for transit of Afghan exports and imports through Pakistan’s ports. “We have also been facilitating the transit of Afghan fruits to India through Wagah.”

Pakistan’s security forces were engaged in a “valiant fight against terrorism. Their efforts are making an immense contribution to securing the porous border to help bring lasting peace to Afghanistan, and the region”, said Zakaria.

But Pakistan remained concerned that “Afghan soil was being increasingly used by a ‘neighbour’ for subversive activities inside Pakistan and terror financing”, he added.

Zakaria said it was important for both Pakistan and Afghanistan to closely work together for peace, progress and stability of the region.

“It requires a strong commitment for not letting our territories be used against each other. Pakistan is abiding by this solemn commitment,” he said.

Source: dawn.com/news/1284125/pakistan-disappointed-over-afghan-leaderships-behaviour-foreign-office

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Pakistan may be building new nuclear sites: Western defence experts

September 17, 2016

Islamabad :Pakistan, estimated to have the world’s fastest-growing nuclear stockpile, could be building a new uranium enrichment complex according to commercial satellite imagery analysed by Western defence experts.

The construction of a new site, based in the town of Kahuta some thirty kilometres east of Islamabad, provides fresh evidence of how Pakistan is seeking to boost its atomic arsenal—a goal which is inconsistent with the principles of the Nuclear Suppliers Group the country is seeking to join, said the analysis.

The analysis was conducted by IHS Jane’s Intelligence review using satellite images taken by Airbus Defence and Space on 28 September, 2015 and then again on 18 April, 2016.Pakistan, which conducted its first nuclear tests in 1998 is believed to have around 120 nuclear weapons, more than India, Israel and North Korea.

A 2015 report written by scholars at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and the Stimson Center said Pakistan could increase its stockpile by 20 warheads a year and have the world’s third largest in a decade.

“The area of interest is approximately 1.2 hectares and is located within the secure area of the Khan Research Laboratories (KRL), in the southwestern part of the complex,” said the statement.

Karl Dewey, a proliferation analyst at IHS Jane’s added:“It is sited within an established centrifuge facility, has strong security and shows some of the structural features of a possible new uranium enrichment facility. This makes it a strong candidate for a new centrifuge facility.”

The structure of the site also bears strong resemblance to facilities built by nuclear fuel company URENCO which also operates several nuclear plants in Europe, it said.

“This may be more than coincidence as A.Q. Khan, considered by many to be the founder of Pakistan’s nuclear programme, worked at URENCO before stealing centrifuge designs and returning to Pakistan,” said Charlie Cartwright, an imagery analyst for IHS Jane’s.

Pakistan is currently seeking to join the 48-member Nuclear Suppliers Group that seeks to prevent nuclear proliferation by controlling the export of materials, equipment and technology that can be used to manufacture atomic weapons.

“It is difficult to see how these actions are consistent with the principles of the Nuclear Suppliers Group, a group of responsible nuclear exporters which Pakistan is seeking to join,” said Ian Stewart, head of research group Project Alpha at King’s College London.

Source: siasat.com/news/pakistan-may-building-new-nuclear-sites-western-defence-experts-1022224/

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Europe

Fight against terror is not a clash of civilizations, says EU Parliament Speaker

Sep 17, 2016

BRATISLAVA, Slovakia-- European Parliament Speaker Martin Shultz says the war against world terrorism is fought by all faiths and should not be regarded as a clash between different civilizations.

Speaking to Rudaw on the sidelines of EU top meeting in the Slovakian capital, Shultz said Muslim communities around the world are the "greatest victims" of terror and have "actively" taken part in the global war against Islamic Sate insurgency.

"We need to prevent this issue from becoming a clash of civilizations and faiths as we see more and more people try to label it as such," Shultz said, referring to the international coalition efforts against the ISIS.

"This is a war against radicalism even within the Western civilization. ISIS strategy is firstly to target moderate Muslims," he added.

Some 20 nations across the world have joined the US-led coalition against ISIS militants in Syria and Iraq that include among others Morocco, Jordan, Australia, Saudi Arabia and France.

Shultz said the EU has special programs to help radicalized young people in Europe to abandon terror groups and reintegrate with their communities.

"The EU will work to prevent the flow of money and arms to the so-called Islamic State and also to confront radicalization of the young in Europe," he said.

Some 10,000 foreign fighters are believed to have joined the ISIS ranks in Syria and Iraq since 2014 although many have died in the war or returned to their home countries.

Source: rudaw.net/NewsDetails.aspx?pageid=246547

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Terrorism in the West: More lethal, more random, less likely

Sep 17, 2016

Europe is on high alert. Soldiers are on patrol in metro stations, security has been tightened at big public events and, almost every week, police somewhere on the continent report having thwarted a terrorist attack. A widespread feeling of insecurity, fed by a spate of recent atrocities in France, Belgium and Turkey, has hardened over the course of a violent summer.

In just two weeks in July, 86 people were killed in Nice when a lorry drove through Bastille Day crowds on the promenade; a knife-wielding 17-year-old attacked passengers on a train in Würzburg; a gunman shot dead nine civilians in Munich; a bomb went off at a wine bar in Ansbach; and two men slit the throat of an elderly priest in his church in a quiet Normandy town.

Even before the past year brought unsettling proof of the reach of Islamic State, Europeans had been growing increasingly anxious.

In March 2015, when 28,000 of them were asked by Eurobarometer what they saw as the most important challenge to the security of EU citizens, by far the most common answer was terrorism, mentioned by half of the respondents (up from one-third in 2011).

All other concerns – organised crime, climate change, wars, economic crises or nuclear disasters – were marginal by comparison. Eighteen months later, that concern is no doubt even more pronounced.

Yet terrorism and perceptions of the risk it poses are rarely aligned. That’s the point of psychological warfare: a single event can have effects disproportionate to its scale or lethality, through the fear it creates or the response it provokes.

So how likely is a westerner to be killed by terrorists? Since 2014, the number of people who died in terror attacks in the West has been on the rise. Last year the figure for the United States and western Europe was 200; already in 2016 it stands at 161, according to the US state department. However, because the overall numbers for the West are low, single events with high casualty rates, such as the co-ordinated attacks that claimed 136 lives in Paris in November 2015, can cause significant shifts in the overall pattern.

Such spectacular atrocities, and the extensive media coverage they receive, can also mask some broader trends.

Terrorism database

The Global Terrorism Database (GTD), a vast repository of information on almost every attack since 1970, maintained by the University of Maryland, shows that terrorism today is killing far fewer westerners than it did in the 1970s and 1980s. In 1979, for example, there were more than 1,000 individual terrorist attacks in western Europe alone, compared to just over 350 last year.

Full report at: irishtimes.com/news/world/terrorism-in-the-west-more-lethal-more-random-less-likely-1.2794075

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