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Islamic World News ( 9 Jun 2017, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Heart-Warming Letter by Muslim Family in Manchester during Ramadan Gets a Lot of Love Online


New Age Islam News Bureau

9 Jun 2017

 Heart-Warming Letter by Muslim Family in Manchester during Ramadan Gets a Lot of Love Online

 Iraq Blast: Suicide Bomber Kills 30 Shias near Karbala, Islamic State Claims Responsibility

 Al Shabaab Takes Over Somali Town, Claims Killing 61 in Military Base Attack

 US Arrests, Charges Naturalized Hezbollah ‘Operatives’

 The Angry Young Kashmiri, Not Deterred By Parents or Police Cases



 Heart-Warming Letter by Muslim Family in Manchester during Ramadan Gets a Lot of Love Online

 Australian Muslims Demand Safe Spaces to Talk About Islamic Issues

 Saudis apologise over minute's silence snub for London victims

 After London attack Italian Muslims fear backlash

 Tripoli counter-terrorism force: Manchester bomber radicalized in Britain

 UN: ISIS inspiring local commanders to attack


Arab World

 Iraq Blast: Suicide Bomber Kills 30 Shias near Karbala, Islamic State Claims Responsibility

 Qatar Rejects As Baseless Terrorism Designations by Four Arab States

 Arab Powers List 59 Individuals as Qatar-Linked Terrorism Supporters

 Who are the al-Ashtar Brigades, latest Arab-designated ‘terrorist group’?

 Egypt calls for UN probe on Qatar giving terrorists $1 bln in Iraq

 UN: ISIS killed over 200 civilians fleeing Mosul

 Fierce clashes as US-backed force battles IS in Syria’s Raqqa

 Syrian Soldiers on Verge of Capturing Vital Town in Damascus Province

 Syrian Army Advances to Areas Close to Arak Region in Eastern Homs

 Syrian government warplanes strike ISIS near Raqqa city

 UN warns about rising civilian deaths, Daesh killing of children fleeing Mosul battle



 Al Shabaab Takes Over Somali Town, Claims Killing 61 in Military Base Attack

 Boko Haram Kills 14 in Fresh Attack in Nigeria’s Maiduguri

 Libyan official: Manchester bomber’s brother knew of plans

 Hamas dismisses claims it has fighters in Libya

 Nigeria: Islamic Group Reacts to Bail for Hajj Granted Son of Ex-Minister On Corruption Trial

 Uganda: If You Think This Ramadan Is Hard, Try Fasting in Europe


North America

 US Arrests, Charges Naturalized Hezbollah ‘Operatives’

 Chicago Owes $580,000 to Muslim Congregation for Denying a Mosque

 US Senate advances Iran sanctions bill, eyes new Russia sanctions

 Muslim Americans: They seek freedom, too

 Pro-Con: Should the U.S. designate the Muslim Brotherhood a foreign terrorist group?

 D.C. Muslim groups praise tolerant lawmakers

 B.C. man facing terror charges cheered 2014 Quebec, Ottawa attacks



 The Angry Young Kashmiri, Not Deterred By Parents or Police Cases

 NIA Moves to Revoke Zakir Naik’s Passport, Probe His Money Trail

 Surrendered Militant’s Teachers Say Misguided Youths Should Follow His Example

 Malappuram Natives Hold On To Experiences Of Hindu-Muslim Unity As Divisive Politics Rise On Twitter

 Hizbul denies surrendered Doon student its member

 At UNHRC, India slams Pak for nurturing terror


South Asia

 International Community Should Stop Funding Afghan Govt: Jamiat-e-Islami Official

 10 ISIS Militants Killed In Latest Airstrikes in Nangarhar Province

 Qatar crisis: Bangladesh should not rush into taking sides

 Hekmatyar’s stance and warnings regarding the recent political upheavals

 Myanmar Muslims Struggle after Camp Closures

 Kabul voices alarm as anti-govt protesters expand sit-in camps



 Intelligence Ministry: Terrorists behind Attacks in Tehran Fought for ISIL in Mosul, Raqqa

 Saudi Ally Bahrain Demands Qatar Distance Itself From Iran

 Number of Tehran Terrorist Attack Victims Grows 17

 FM: Iranians Reject US Claims of Friendship

 Iranian Security Forces Arrest 5 Suspects, 1 Female Terrorist after Tehran Incidents

 Israel advances plans for further 1,500 settler homes

 After Daesh attacks, Iran draws UN attention to Saudi threats

 Iran says it thwarted 100 terrorist plots in 2 years

 Israel re-arrests former Palestinian hunger striker



 Muslim University the First to Host a Church in Pakistan

 Malik Wants Judicial Commission to Probe WikiLeaks’ Claim

 Army releases details of 3-day Mastung operation that targeted 'IS facilitators'

 NA urges ME states to show restraint

 COAS for collective anti-terror response

 IS bid to establish foothold foiled


Southeast Asia

 Extreme Obsession with Individuals Can Affect Faith of Muslims: Dy PM, Malaysia

 China ‘Gravely Concerned’ At Islamic State’s Claims of Killing Two Teachers in Pakistan

 Myanmar bars Rakhine documentary from film festival

 Amid Qatar crisis, China tells Iran that Gulf stability is best

 Istiqlal, Police forbid rally to defend Rizieq

 Rizieq to file pre-trial motion this month, lawyer says

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau




Heart-Warming Letter by Muslim Family in Manchester during Ramadan Gets a Lot of Love Online

June 8, 2017

The Muslim neighbours won hearts with their heartwarming letter. (Source: File Photo)

The tragic attack at Manchester Arena after Ariana Grande’s concert on May 22 and another one on June 3 at the London Bridge have shaken the world. Following the terror attack in London, more than 130 Muslim imams came together to refuse to carry out funeral prayers for the attackers. Not only did the leaders express their grief, they also issued a public statement saying, “This is because such indefensible actions are completely at odds with the lofty teachings of Islam.”

While their gesture garnered a lot of praise on social media, a lot of other people have taken to share heartfelt instances to bring unity in the world. Meanwhile, a Redditor went on to share an emotional message from his Muslim neighbours after the unfortunate incident in Manchester. The letter reads, “Please join us today as we break our fast at sunset and say a prayer for the innocent lives lost in our country and all around the world.” Sending an invitation to join them when they open their fast, the neighbours won hearts and have also attracted a lot of eyeballs after the letter was posted online.

Shedding light on why Ramadan is observed, the letter has received more than 40,000 up votes, at the time of writing. Take a look at the picture shared by Reddit user SenecaTheYounger__.

After it came into the spotlight, a lot of people shared their experiences too. A Reddit user pippabeemine wrote: “I’ve had several sets of Muslim neighbours over the years, and all of them have included me and my family in the breaking of their fast. Last year, my Muslim neighbours bought me a meal for all four of us, spiced chicken, rice and mixed veg. It was amazing. They are wonderful, wonderful people.”

“Many years ago, I had a Turkish neighbour who kind of randomly brought us some traditional Turkish pudding, one evening…she didn’t say anything about being Muslim or Ramadan…but now I think this is likely what she was doing. Not having any notion that about them fasting, I tried to return the favour by baking some traditional Turkish shortbread cookies (which turned out pretty tasty)…which would likely have not been on the menu, considering,” another user, mrjawright, commented.



Iraq Blast: Suicide Bomber Kills 30 Shias near Karbala, Islamic State Claims Responsibility

Jun 09, 2017 16:33 IST

Reuters, Iraq

A woman detonated her explosive belt in a market east of the Shia holy city of Kerbala on Friday, killing at least 30 and wounding 35, Iraqi security sources said.

“A suicide bomber blew himself up in Musayyib market, causing 20 civilian martyrs,” an interior ministry spokesman said.

At least 34 other people were wounded in the attack in the centre of Musayyib, a town that lies about 60 kilometres (35 miles) south of the capital, a police officer and a medic at the local hospital said.

A source at Musayyib hospital said at least four of the wounded were in very serious condition following the blast, which rocked the market at around 11:30 am (0830 GMT).

The attack in Musayyib came hours after another, apparently failed attack in the Shiite shrine city of Karbala, a few kilometres (couple of miles) to the southwest.

Four civilians were wounded when a suicide bomber blew himself up at the entrance of the city’s main bus station early Friday, police sources said.

Both attacks were claimed by the Islamic State jihadist group through its propaganda agency Amaq, which in both cases spoke of a “martyrdom-seeking operation” using an explosive vest.

IS has carried out dozens of deadly suicide bombings targeting civilians but Iraq has been on heightened alert since the start of the holy Muslim fasting month of Ramadan.

More than 40 people were killed and dozens wounded in a spate of attacks on May 30, a few days after the beginning of Ramadan, including a devastating blast at an ice cream shop in central Baghdad’s Karrada neighbourhood.

It was during Ramadan last year that IS carried out its deadliest ever attack in the Iraqi capital with a truck bomb that set two shopping arcades ablaze, also in Karrada, resulting in more than 320 deaths.

The bombings in Baghdad come as Iraqi forces fight to retake the last IS-held areas of Mosul, a city that was the jihadist group’s emblematic stronghold.

Iraqi forces are almost eight months into a massive operation to recapture the second city and have already taken back its whole eastern side and much of the west.

Islamic State claimed the attack in the town of Musayab, in a statement on its Amaq news agency.

“A suicide bomber blew himself up in Musayyib market, causing 20 civilian martyrs,” an interior ministry spokesman said.

At least 34 other people were wounded in the attack in the centre of Musayyib, a town that lies about 60 kilometres (35 miles) south of the capital, a police officer and a medic at the local hospital said.




Al Shabaab Takes Over Somali Town, Claims Killing 61 in Military Base Attack

Jun 9, 2017

Al Shabaab militants captured a town in Somalia's semi-autonomous Puntland region on Thursday, a senior official said, and the group said it had killed at least 61 soldiers in the fighting.

"Al Shabaab attacked Af Urur town this morning. There were few soldiers there and thus al Shabaab captured the town. It is difficult to know the casualties because the telecommunications were cut off," Bari region governor Yusuf Mohamed told Reuters.

The al Qaeda-linked group said it had also killed 61 soldiers after over-running a military base in the town.

"The number could rise since the operation is still underway," Abdiasis Abu Musab, al Shabaab's military spokesman said in a statement.

Musab said their fighters had also seized weapons and vehicles from the base.

Al Shabaab's insurgency aims to drive out African Union peacekeepers, topple Somalia's Western-backed government and impose its strict version of Islam on the Horn of Africa state.



US arrests, charges naturalized Hezbollah ‘operatives’

9 June 2017

Two naturalized Americans from New York and Michigan have been charged with terrorism, accused of operating on behalf of Hezbollah in the United States, Panama and Thailand, US officials announced Thursday.

Ali Kourani, 32, and Samer el Debek, 37, were arrested on June 1 in the Bronx and just outside Detroit, respectively, US officials said. They appeared before US magistrates separately.

Also read: Will Trump finally learn the difference between Hamas and Hezbollah?

Both were hit with a raft of charges that include providing material support to Hezbollah weapons offenses and receiving military-type training from group. If convicted they could spend decades in a US prison.

Debek, on Hezbollah’s payroll for years, conducted surveillance in Panama, where he scoped out the US and Israeli embassies and assessed vulnerabilities of the Panama Canal and ships passing through it, US officials said.

Kourani allegedly monitored potential targets in the United States, including military bases in New York, acting Manhattan US Attorney Joon Kim said.

Teenager in Lebanon

US officials said Kourani received weapons training from Hezbollah as a teenager in Lebanon before moving to the United States legally in 2003, to obtain degrees in biomedical engineering and business administration.

They alleged that he was recruited into Hezbollah’s operations unit in 2008, and the following year became a naturalized US citizen. He communicated with his handler through coded emails, and received bouts of weapons training and drills on tactics in Lebanon, US prosecutors said.

Also read: Hezbollah as a threat to the US that no wall can prevent

In the United States, he allegedly scoured for firearms suppliers, Israeli military personnel, airport security information and surveilled US military and law enforcement facilities in New York, sending information back to Hezbollah.

US officials say Debek visited Thailand in May 2009 on his US passport, tasked with cleaning up explosive precursors in a Bangkok house that had been abandoned by others because they were under surveillance.

Surveillance mission to Panama

In 2012, he went on a Hezbollah surveillance mission to Panama, tasked with identifying areas of weakness at the Panama Canal and providing information about how close someone could get to a ship passing through the Canal, officials said.

Panama’s government expressed “satisfaction” over the arrests, saying “it maintains active cooperation with international intelligence bodies to prevent this type of threat.” The statement said US authorities had alerted Panama in 2014 that Debek might try to enter that country, and “actions were immediately taken in line with the law to impede his entry.”

Debek allegedly told the FBI that he was detained by Hezbollah from December 2015 to April 2016, and falsely accused of spying for the United States. The Federal Bureau of Investigation believes that his military training included extensive instruction on bomb-making.



The Angry Young Kashmiri, Not Deterred By Parents or Police Cases

June 9, 2017

Atif Hassan is 31. He has 44 cases against him. “I am out on bail in all these cases. I don’t know if the police have named me in more cases since last year,’’ says Hassan, sitting with his friends in a tea stall in a largely deserted market in Anantnag, south Kashmir. It is evening and soon, the police checkpoints will be out for another night of siege. “I first took part in protests in 2006. I was a student then… Sixteen Kashmiri schoolchildren had died after a Navy boat capsized in Wular lake. We protested and raised pro-freedom slogans. I was arrested, but police didn’t register a case,’’ he recalls. “In 2008, I was arrested for another protest.” He adds he was part of the 2010 and 2016 protests too.

In 2009, Hassan’s family — his father is a retired forest officer and mother a retired assistant matron – got him married. “I had just graduated. They hoped marriage would tie me down, but it didn’t,” he says. Hassan’s story is illustrative of a deep generational divide in Kashmir, where youngsters constantly defy their parents to go out and protest, shout slogans and throw stones. They have grown up internalising every dinnertime talk about “the injustices done to Kashmir”. And unlike the older generation, they know little fear.

“This status quo has done us no good. I want Kashmiris to get the right to self-determination. Let us choose our own fate,” says Hassan. “I am not scared of getting arrested. If you are politically conscious, how can you not [join protests]?” Hassan says he has been charged with “unlawful activities” in 10-12 cases, “criminal conspiracy against the state”, and stone pelting. “I don’t sleep at home even today,” he says. Police sources say they know about Hassan and that he faces several cases but add they would need to check for specific details.

While Hassan admits marriage “made me more careful”, he says he doesn’t agree with his parents when they tell him to stay out of the streets. “When my father was younger, he was in jail for three years for protesting… Now, my parents tell me not to get involved. It’s not that they think I am doing anything wrong but they don’t want to lose me.” The reason he still joins the protests is to “try and do something so that my five-year-old son and his children live in freedom”. The other youngsters in the tea stall listen intently, nodding in agreement each time he talks about “our demand for freedom”.”

“I offer prayers five times a day… I am a believer. But I don’t seek Khilafat in Kashmir,” he says. “But if there is a non-Muslim who is pro-azadi, I will wholeheartedly accept him.” Not everyone shares his views. In Qaimoh in south Kashmir’s Kulgam, a 19-year-old says azadi has “no meaning if it is not in the name of Islam. I am ready to die. I pelt stones only because weapons are scarce these days. If it was like in the 1990s, I would have become a militant”. He too says his parents don’t agree with him. “Perhaps age has made them weak,’’ he says. He is also critical of the separatist leadership, calling them “meek and tired”. A few boys who hang around to listen to the conversation nod in agreement.

After the boys have left, an older man, who had been overhearing the conversation, says, “You should have asked these youngsters that if religion is so important to them that they are ready to give up their lives for it, why don’t they go to the mosque? You should have asked them how much they know about Islam. This is a political struggle. These children are angry and will understand eventually.” While there are these disagreements —primarily about the methods they use — these youngsters strongly agree that Kashmir’s demand for azadi is legitimate and it comes with a wider political, social, and historical legitimacy in Kashmiri society.

In Redwani, a village in Kulgam, a 24-year-old sits on the pavement. Redwani and nearby villages were on the boil during the uprising triggered by Burhan Wani’s killing in July 2016. Though protests have subsided, the situation is far from calm. The 24-year-old says 23 FIRs are registered against him, his face lighting up as he repeats- “23 cases”. “I used to pelt stones whenever I got a chance. But my family got me married. Once you have children, things change,’’ he says. “My heart hasn’t changed. I still feel the same way. But my circumstances have changed. Each time I go out to protest, I think of my family, my wife and daughter – if I am killed, what will happen to them. Marriage has made me weak,” he says. He says that after Wani was killed, he wanted to join militancy. “I couldn’t. My family became this unbreakable chain on my feet,” he says.

He insists, however, that his views remain the same. “My parents aren’t ready to take any risk. I disagree because we can’t wait and do nothing.” What will a few hundred youngsters with guns achieve? “This is exactly what my father says. I have an answer to that. We haven’t become numb like our elders. Our generation is angry because the only thing we have seen is tragedy after tragedy, funeral after funeral. “When you become a militant, you at least get your own freedom.”

In downtown Srinagar, a 47-year-old counsels his 17-year-old son, a polytechnic student, not to join the street protests only to arrive at their family’s tragic past — two of his brothers were killed in the 1990s. “They were both militants,” says the father. He says his son recently saw old photographs of his uncles and asked him why they were killed. “He kept asking me why I didn’t seek revenge. I always avoided his questions,” the father says.

But one recent evening, he found himself confronting those questions again, along with some new ones. “I was riding my scooter at Gojwara [in downtown Srinagar] when I saw my son among a group of protesters – throwing stones at policemen,’’ says the father. That evening, he says, he confronted his son. “His reply made me shudder. He told me I have been throwing stones for the past year and a half. He said, ‘You don’t have courage. You know well why do I do it. Don’t stop me from throwing stones. If you do, I will pick up the gun’. I do not want to lose my son. I am scared. I can’t talk him out of it because I have no answers to his questions,” the father says.

A government employee in south Kashmir, whose 18-year-old son was arrested last year for stone throwing, says “children born after 1990” have gone through a difficult time. “They have seen so much brutality. They have heard elders talk about it. The grown-ups are all tied up with their daily lives, so all we do is talk, oblivious that our children are listening. Once they go out of home, they face this oppression and humiliation that have become part of our lives. These children are angry, they don’t weigh their options,” he says, adding that he doesn’t question his son’s reasons for protesting because “he isn’t a thief; he is only asking for azadi. But I am also scared he will get killed. That’s why I try and stop him. Perhaps this is how every father and mother feels about their child.”





Australian Muslims demand safe spaces to talk about Islamic issues

Jun 08, 2017

An Australian Islamic council has called for taxpayer-funded “safe spaces” so young Muslims can express “inflammatory” views without fear in a move slammed Thursday as troubling and wrong.

News of the request comes just days after a fatal shootout in Melbourne claimed by the Islamic State group, which is being treated as a terrorist incident.

In a submission to a parliamentary inquiry into freedom of religion, the Islamic Council of Victoria demanded funding for federal counter-terrorism and anti-extremism programmes be diverted to create the refuges.

“Existing ... funding re-allocated to create safe spaces urgently needed by Muslim youth to meet and talk about a range of issues in emotional terms,” it said.

“(A space) where they can be frank and even use words, which in a public space would sound inflammatory.”

Victorian state Premier Daniel Andrews said he was “very troubled” by any suggestion for safe spaces where Muslim youth “could be radical”.

“There is no safe way to rail against the West,” he told reporters. “There is no safe way to rail against the values that we hold dear.

“I am very troubled by the suggestion that we might have a space where people could be radical as part of a de-radicalisation programme. That makes no sense to me whatsoever.”

He ruled out any funding for such an initiative.

The council argued in its submission that the rise of right-wing extremist political rhetoric had a created “a culture of surveillance for our families”.

“Muslim youth especially are watched everywhere, every day, and this 24/7 surveillance is becoming internalised and leading to serious mental health issues for many Muslims and increasing family tensions,” it said.

The council added that words were frequently seen as “more of a crime than actions” and this limited young people’s freedoms “to express themselves in ways that do not apply to non-Islamic faith youth”.

In Melbourne on Tuesday a man of Somali background was killed in a gun battle with police when he opened fire following an hour-long standoff after taking a female escort hostage.

It is alleged 29-year-old Yacqub Khayre, linked to a 2009 terror plot targeting an Australian army barracks, had first murdered a Chinese-born Australian man.

Australian officials have grown increasingly concerned over the threat of extremist attacks and have prevented 12 on home soil since the threat level was raised in September 2014.



Saudis apologise over minute's silence snub for London victims

Jun 9, 2017

The Saudi Arabian Football Federation has apologised after its national team did not properly observe a minute's silence for the victims of the recent London attacks before the start of their World Cup qualifier in Australia on Thursday.

The Saudi players, although silent, continued to jog and stretch as the Australia team lined up in the centre circle ahead of the match at Adelaide Oval.

Eight people were killed and 50 injured after three Islamist militants drove into pedestrians on London Bridge last Saturday, then attacked revellers nearby with knives. Two of the dead were Australian.

The governing body of Saudi football later issued a statement saying it "deeply" regretted and "unreservedly" apologised for their players not "formally" observing the minute's silence.

"The players did not intend any disrespect to the memories of the victims or to cause upset to their families, friends or any individual affected by the atrocity," it added.

"The Saudi Arabian Football Federation condemns all acts of terrorism and extremism and extends its sincerest condolences to the families of all the victims and to the government and people of the United Kingdom."

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said on Friday that he had not seen video of the incident but said "everybody" should show "love and sympathy and respect" for the victims and their families.

Full report at:



After London attack Italian Muslims fear backlash

Jun 9, 2017

Italy's Muslims fear a backlash from the London attacks could undermine their already fragile position in the country after one of the attackers was identified as half-Italian.

Youssef Zaghba, 22, was one of three men shot dead by police after a jihadist van attack and stabbing spree in the British capital on Saturday.

It has since emerged that the Moroccan-born militant had an Italian passport and his mother, a convert to Islam, lives near Bologna.

“All that has nothing to do with Islam, it was the work of crazies,” Mohamed Ben Salem, the Tunisian imam at the centre where Zaghba's mother worships, said of the attacks.

“It is not going to help things, people (in Italy) have been mixing up Muslims with terrorism for a long time.”

Zaghba, 22, never came to the Bazzano mosque during his rare visits to his mother's home in nearby Fagnano.

“If he had lived full-time in Italy and had attended our mosque, he would never have picked up these kind of ideas, never!” said the Imam.

Like most mosques in Italy, the Bazzano one is a makeshift affair the several hundred faithful worshipping in a corner of an old industrial building.

During the fasting month of Ramadan there are only a handful of worshippers there in the early afternoon and those who are willing to talk all speak of their concern at their community being linked, albeit tenuously, to events in London.

Double discrimination

“Yes, I think this can do us harm after years working to build a relationship of confidence with the (non-Muslim) population,” said Bahi Cherkaouin.

“People have sacrificed a lot to create this space, some give 50, 100, 200 euros a month to keep it going and pay the imam, because the local authorities give us nothing,” added the 59-year-old Moroccan.

The Bazzano faithful are also concerned about what Zaghba's mother's story will do to the image of Islam in Italy. According to her aunt, Valeria Collina left Zaghba's father in Morocco because he was violent and wanted to take on a second wife.

The imam says he will continue to try and project a truer image of Islam.

“We always urge people to come and see us, to take part in our open door events, because it is ignorance that leads to these acts of terror."

“These young people who blow themselves up, who blindly kill innocent people, they are empty inside and they understand nothing of our religion.”

He says he urges followers of his faith to inform the authorities if they have the slightest suspicion that someone in the community is undergoing radicalisation.

Collina said she had told police to detain her son because she feared he was going off the rails. “I'm a good citizen who loves her country, an Italian Muslim.”

Opened in 2004, the Bazzano mosque caused a bit of a row locally but that was quickly forgotten, locals say.

But many Italian Muslims feel they are victims of a general lack of equal opportunities for ethnic minorities, and of restrictions placed on their freedom to practise their faith.

Muslims viewed negatively

The number of Muslims living in Italy has been recently estimated at around 1.4 million, or nearly 2.5 per cent of the population.

It is considered the second most followed faith in the mostly Roman Catholic country but it has struggled to overcome a legacy of suspicion. A recent survey by the Pew institute found that 69 percent of Italians had negative views of Muslims.

Islam is the only major religion not to be officially recognised by the state.

As a result, mosques are not eligible for state funding through a tax levy that funds other faiths, and Muslim employees are not guaranteed the right to take the day off on religious holidays.

Full report at:



Tripoli counter-terrorism force: Manchester bomber radicalized in Britain

8 June 2017

The suicide bomber who killed 22 people at a concert in Manchester last month was radicalized in 2015 while living in Britain, his brother has told Libyan counter-terrorism investigators in Tripoli.

Salman Abedi’s brother Hashem also said he had bought equipment for the attack in Britain, though he did not know where it would be carried out, Ahmed Bin Salem, a spokesman for Tripoli’s Special Deterrence Force (Rada), told Reuters.

Rada is a counter-terrorism force aligned with the UN-backed government in Tripoli. It detained Salman Abedi’s father, Ramadan, and his younger brother, Hashem, in the days after the attack, and has been questioning them and other members of the family.

“Hashem said that he and Salman got the ideology of ISIS in Manchester in 2015 from the internet and some friends in the UK,” said Bin Salem.

“He added that they used to watch videos and had sympathy for children in Syria and wanted to do something for Daesh to help.”

Salman and Hashem flew to Libya on April 18, Bin Salem said. Salman traveled back to Manchester about a week before the attack, after telling his parents he was going on pilgrimage to Mecca.

“Hashem said that he bought all the necessary things for Salman for the attack from the UK and added that Salman was planning to carry out an attack but he did not know where,” Bin Salem said.

He said Salman Abedi also phoned Tripoli on May 15 before carrying out the attack to “say goodbye to his family before the attack”.


“Salman phoned Hashem’s phone on the day of the attack to talk with his family. The mother had refused to talk with him because they were angry with him as he lied,” Bin Salem said.

“Hashem knew about the attack and convinced his mother to talk to him … he said ‘please, please mum, talk to him’. (The mother) said during the investigation that he asked for forgiveness from her and she could not understand why.”

It was not possible to access the Abedis or verify under what conditions they had been questioned and whether they were offered any legal representation. British consular officials have been granted access by Rada.

The suicide bombing killed 22 children and adults attending a concert by US singer Ariana Grande. A total of 21 people have been arrested so far in the investigation into the attack. Twelve were released without charge and nine remain in custody.

Rada had previously said that Hashem had been plotting an attack in Tripoli, though Bin Salem said he could not give details for security reasons.

He said Hashem had told investigators he had spent time in Germany working as a driver between December last year and his return to Tripoli in April.

The mother told Rada that Salman was “an introvert, an anti-social person”, and that video games had had a bad influence on both Salman and Hashem when they were young, according to Bin Salem.

She said Ramadan Abedi, who moved to Britain during the rule of late Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi and returned to Libya during the country’s 2011 revolution, had taken both sons to the frontline for one day that year.

Full report at:



UN: ISIS inspiring local commanders to attack

8 June 2017

The UN political chief says the ISIS extremist group has reorganized its military structure, giving local commanders more power and inspiring attacks outside conflict areas.

Jeffrey Feltman told the UN Security Council on Thursday that the threat posed by the militant group is intensified by its use of the internet and social media, including in Europe.

Although the volume of ISIS messages has declined in the last 16 months, he said “the threat persists as supporters outside Syria and Iraq collect and redistribute this propaganda.”

Full report at:



Arab World


Qatar rejects as baseless terrorism designations by four Arab states

Jun 9, 2017

Qatar dismissed allegations of support for Islamist militancy on Friday after four Arab states, which cut ties with Qatar earlier this week, put the emirate on a "terror finance watch list".

"The recent joint statement issued by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Egypt and the UAE regarding a 'terror finance watch list' once again reinforces baseless allegations that hold no foundation in fact," a Qatari government statement said.

"Our position on countering terrorism is stronger than many of the signatories of the joint statement - a fact that has been conveniently ignored by the authors."



Arab powers list 59 individuals as Qatar-linked terrorism supporters

Jun 9, 2017

According to Al Arabiya, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Bahrain have collectively designated 59 individuals and 12 institutions that have financed terrorist organizations and received support from Qatar.

“The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the Arab Republic of Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, and the Kingdom of Bahrain are unified in their ongoing commitment to combatting terrorism, drying up the sources of its funding, countering extremist ideology and the tools of its dissemination and promotion, and to working together to defeat terrorism and protect all societies from its impact.,” according to a statement made available to Al Arabiya News Channel.

“As a result of the continued violation by the authorities in Doha of the obligations and agreements signed by them, including the pledge not to support or harbor elements or organizations that threaten the security of states and to ignore the repeated contacts that they called upon to fulfill what they had signed in the Riyadh Agreement of 2013, its implementing mechanism and the supplementary agreement in 2014; The four States have agreed to classify 59 individuals and 12 entities on their prohibited lists of terrorists, which will be updated in succession and announced,” the statement added.

The majority of those entities sanctioned are linked to Qatar and are a manifestation of a Qatari Government policy of duplicity, the statement read.

List of designated individuals:

1. Khalifa Mohammed Turki al-Subaie - Qatari

2. Abdelmalek Mohammed Yousef Abdel Salam - Jordanian

3. Ashraf Mohammed Yusuf Othman Abdel Salam - Jordanian

4. Ibrahim Eissa Al-Hajji Mohammed Al-Baker - Qatari

5. Abdulaziz bin Khalifa al-Attiyah - Qatari

6. Salem Hassan Khalifa Rashid al-Kuwari - Qatari

7. Abdullah Ghanem Muslim al-Khawar - Qatari

8. Saad bin Saad Mohammed al-Kaabi - Qatari

9. Abdullatif bin Abdullah al-Kuwari - Qatari

10. Mohammed Saeed Bin Helwan al-Sakhtari - Qatari

11. Abdul Rahman bin Omair al-Nuaimi - Qatari

12. Abdul Wahab Mohammed Abdul Rahman al-Hmeikani - Yemeni

13. Khalifa bin Mohammed al-Rabban - Qatari

14. Abdullah Bin Khalid al-Thani - Qatari

15. Abdul Rahim Ahmad al-Haram - Qatari

16. Hajjaj bin Fahad Hajjaj Mohammed al-Ajmi - Kuwaiti

17. Mubarak Mohammed al-Ajji - Qatari

18. Jaber bin Nasser al-Marri - Qatari

19. Yusuf Abdullah al-Qaradawi - Egyptian

20. Mohammed Jassim al-Sulaiti - Qatari

21. Ali bin Abdullah al-Suwaidi - Qatari

22. Hashem Saleh Abdullah al-Awadhi - Qatari

23. Ali Mohammed Mohammed al-Salabi - Libyan

24. Abdelhakim Belhadj - Libyan

25. Mahdi Harati - Libyan

26. Ismail Muhammad Mohammed al-Salabi - Libyan

27. Al-Sadiq Abdulrahman Ali al-Ghuraini - Libyan

28. Hamad Abdullah Al-Futtais al-Marri - Qatari

29. Mohamed Ahmed Shawky Islambouli - Egyptian

30. Tariq Abdelmagoud Ibrahim al-Zomor - Egyptian

31. Mohamed Abdelmaksoud Mohamed Afifi - Egyptian

32. Mohamed el-Saghir Abdel Rahim Mohamed - Egyptian

33. Wagdy Abdelhamid Ghoneim - Egyptian

34. Hassan Ahmed Hassan Mohammed Al Dokki Al Houti - UAE

35. Hakem al-Humaidi al-Mutairi - Saudi / Kuwaiti

36. Abdullah al-Muhaysini - Saudi

37. Hamed Abdullah Ahmed al-Ali - Kuwaiti

38. Ayman Ahmed Abdel Ghani Hassanein - Egyptian

39. Assem Abdel-Maged Mohamed Madi - Egyptian

40. Yahya Aqil Salman Aqeel - Egyptian

41. Mohamed Hamada el-Sayed Ibrahim - Egyptian

42. Abdel Rahman Mohamed Shokry Abdel Rahman - Egyptian

43. Hussein Mohamed Reza Ibrahim Youssef - Egyptian

44. Ahmed Abdelhafif Mahmoud Abdelhady - Egyptian

45. Muslim Fouad Tafran - Egyptian

46. Ayman Mahmoud Sadeq Rifat - Egyptian

47. Mohamed Saad Abdel-Naim Ahmed - Egyptian

48. Mohamed Saad Abdel Muttalib Abdo Al-Razaki - Egyptian

49. Ahmed Fouad Ahmed Gad Beltagy - Egyptian

50. Ahmed Ragab Ragab Soliman - Egyptian

51. Karim Mohamed Mohamed Abdel Aziz - Egyptian

52. Ali Zaki Mohammed Ali - Egyptian

53. Naji Ibrahim Ezzouli - Egyptian

54. Shehata Fathi Hafez Mohammed Suleiman - Egyptian

55. Muhammad Muharram Fahmi Abu Zeid - Egyptian

56. Amr Abdel Nasser Abdelhak Abdel-Barry - Egyptian

57. Ali Hassan Ibrahim Abdel-Zaher - Egyptian

58. Murtada Majeed al-Sindi - Bahraini

59. Ahmed Al-Hassan al-Daski - Bahraini

List of entities:

1. Qatar Volunteer Center - Qatar

2. Doha Apple Company (Internet and Technology Support Company) - Qatar

3. Qatar Charity - Qatar

4. Sheikh Eid al-Thani Charity Foundation (Eid Charity) - Qatar

5. Sheikh Thani Bin Abdullah Foundation for Humanitarian Services - Qatar

6. Saraya Defend Benghazi - Libya

7. Saraya al-Ashtar - Bahrain

8. February 14 Coalition - Bahrain

9. The Resistance Brigades - Bahrain

10. Hezbollah Bahrain - Bahrain

11. Saraya al-Mukhtar - Bahrain

12. Harakat Ahrar Bahrain - Bahrain Movement



Who are the al-Ashtar Brigades, latest Arab-designated ‘terrorist group’?

9 June 2017

The Saraya al-Ashtar, also known as the al-Ashtar Brigades in English, extremist group in Bahrain was added to a designated terror list by Saudi Arabia, UAE, Bahrain and Egypt on Friday.

The list, which names 59 individuals and 12 entities, stand accussed of terror financing and having links with Qatar.

In March, the United States government placed two affiliates of the Saraya al-Ashtar organization on its terrorist list.

In a statement, Bahrain's Ministry of Foreign Affairs praised the US’ "positive and important decision", saying that its position reflects the US determination to confront all forms of terrorism and all those who support and sympathize with it.

The US State Department had announced in a statement on its website that they designated Ahmad Hasan Yusuf and Alsayed Murtadha Majeed Ramadhan Alawi as Specially Designated Global Terrorists (SDGT) under Executive Order (E.O.) 13224.

“Today’s actions follow a recent increase in militant attacks in Bahrain, where Iran has provided weapons, funding, and training to militants. This marks yet another step in our continued effort to aggressively target Iran’s destabilizing and terrorism-related activities in the region,” the State Department said in a statement.

“We will continue to stand with Bahrain in addressing these threats, even as we encourage the government to clearly differentiate its response to violent militia groups from its engagement with peaceful political opposition,” they added.

Who are the al-Ashtar Brigades?

Saraya al-Ashtar, also known as the al-Ashtar Brigades in English, have claimed responsibility for more than 20 attacks in Bahrain, mainly against police officers and security forces.

The name “al-Ashtar” links the group to Malik al-Ashtar, a figure revered by Shiites from early Islam.

They are perhaps responsible for what many have called the “single worst incident of terrorism on Bahraini soil,” according to local activist group Citizens for Bahrain.

The incident refers to the March 2014 attack that claimed the lives of Bahraini police officers Ammar Abdu-Ali al-Dhalei and Mohammed Arslan Ramadhan and Emirati officer First Lieutenant Tariq al-Shehhi.

The three Bahrainis perpetrators with links to al-Ashtar Brigades were executed for their actions earlier this year.

They told Al Arabiya English they strongly welcomed the designation and viewed it as an acknowledgment of Iranian involvement with terror groups in Bahrain.

Full report at:



Egypt calls for UN probe on Qatar giving terrorists $1 bln in Iraq

8 June 2017

Egypt on Thursday has urged the UN Security Council to open investigation over Qatar giving a “terrorist group active in Iraq” $1 billion as ransom.

On Monday, the Financial Times reported that Qatar paid $1 billion to release members of its royal family who were kidnapped in Iraq during a hunting trip.

Commanders of militant groups and government officials in the region told the Financial Times that “Doha spent the money in a transaction that secured the release of 26 members of a Qatari falconry party in southern Iraq and about 50 militants captured by jihadis in Syria.”

The paper said Qatar the money went to two blacklisted forces of the Middle East “an al-Qaeda affiliate fighting in Syria and Iranian security officials.”

Qatar has denied trying to pay ransom money to secure the release of 26 Qataris, including members of the country's ruling royal family, abducted in Iraq by unidentified gunmen. The Qataris were released in April, some 18 months after they were abducted during a hunting trip in southern Iraq.

“It is everywhere in the news that Qatar paid up to $1 billion to a terrorist group active in Iraq in order to release members of its royal family,” senior Egyptian UN diplomat Ihab Moustafa Awad Moustafa told the Security Council.

“This violation of the Security Council resolutions, if proved correct, shall definitely have a negative bearing on counter-terrorism efforts on the ground,” he said. “We propose that the council launch a comprehensive investigation into this incident and other similar incidents.”

Qatar’s mission to the United Nations was not immediately available for comment on Egypt’s call for an inquiry.

UN Security Council resolutions call on states “to prevent terrorists from benefiting directly or indirectly from ransom payments or from political concessions and to secure the safe release of hostages.”

“We also want to know how the Security Council can address such violations, these flagrant violations of its resolutions,” Moustafa said.

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is ready to support any diplomatic efforts to resolve tensions between Qatar and other Gulf Arab states “if desired by all parties,” his spokesman said on Thursday.

Full report at:



UN: ISIS killed over 200 civilians fleeing Mosul

8 June 2017

Children trying to flee western Mosul have been shot dead by ISIS militants, the UN human rights office said on Thursday, saying it had reports of a “significant escalation” in civilians’ deaths in the battle for the Iraqi city.

It also said it was investigating reports that 50-80 people had died in an air strike on the Zanjili district of Mosul on May 31. It did not say who carried out the strike.

The killing of fleeing civilians by ISIS militants occurred in the al-Shifa neighborhood on May 26, June 1 and June 3, it said.

“Credible reports indicate that more than 231 civilians attempting to flee western Mosul have been killed since 26 May, including at least 204 over three days last week alone,” the UN human rights office said in a statement.

“Shooting children as they try to run to safety with their families - there are no words of condemnation strong enough for such despicable acts,” the statement quoted UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein as saying.

Iraqi government forces retook eastern Mosul in January and began a push on May 27 to capture the remaining ISIS-held enclave in the western side of the city, where about 200,000 people are trapped in harrowing conditions.

Last week Iraqi police said at least seven civilians had been killed by ISIS mortar shells in the Zanjili area of western Mosul.

But a young man told Reuters he had been wounded when an air strike hit a group of 200-250 civilians collecting water because an ISIS fighter was hiding among them.

The UN statement said the deaths in Zanjili were reportedly caused by one of several recent air strikes that had inflicted civilian casualties and it was seeking further information about those attacks, without elaborating.

“The murder of civilians, as well as the intentional directing of an attack against civilians who are not directly taking part in hostilities, are war crimes,” it said.

Full report at:



Fierce clashes as US-backed force battles IS in Syria’s Raqqa

Jun 9, 2017

Damascus - US-backed fighters battled the Islamic State group Thursday as they tried to push further into the militants’ Syrian bastion Raqa, two days after finally entering the northern city.

The Syrian Democratic Forces alliance of Kurdish and Arab fighters began the battle for the city earlier this week after seven months of fighting to surround the militant stronghold. On Wednesday, an AFP journalist entered the city with SDF fighters and witnessed heavy clashes in the Al-Meshleb neighbourhood, with IS firing multiple mortar rounds towards the advancing forces.

He said part of the neighbourhood was under SDF control but US-led coalition planes were still carrying out strikes against IS fighters elsewhere in the district, one of the largest in Raqa.

SDF fighters were armed mostly with light weapons including Kalashnikovs, and were also returning mortar fire on IS positions.

The SDF did not allow journalists to return to the city on Thursday where fighting was continuing.

“Our troops are advancing in Al-Meshleb and control parts of it,” SDF spokesman Talal Sello told AFP.

“The international coalition forces are working with use on the ground in the battle for Raqa in a highly effective manner,” he added

The US-led coalition said it had carried out 22 strikes near Raqa on Wednesday, hitting IS fighting positions and vehicles as well as a weapons cache and a training camp.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitor said the SDF now controlled around two-thirds of Al-Meshleb and was some 400 metres (yards) from the neighbouring Al-Senaa district.

“IS has snipers monitoring Al-Meshleb neighbourhood and has laid mines extensively throughout it,” the Observatory said.

The group said the district had been emptied of its civilian population before the SDF entered, and IS had dug defensive trenches and tunnels in the area in a bid to hold off attacking forces.

Fighting was also continuing on the western outskirts of the city, the monitor said, adding that US special forces were actively participating in battles on several fronts.

Around 500 US military personnel, not all of them special forces, are believed to be participating in the battle for Raqa.

On Wednesday, an AFP correspondent saw coalition armoured vehicles parked among olive trees in the desert east of Raqa, covered with camouflage fabric.

SDF male and female commanders, dressed in fatigues and sporting colourful printed scarves wrapped around their heads, pored over maps on tablet devices to pinpoint targets.

Captured by the militants in 2014, Raqa has become synonymous with IS atrocities including beheadings and public displays of bodies, and also emerged as a hub for planning attacks abroad.

An estimated 300,000 civilians were believed to have been living under IS rule in Raqa, including 80,000 displaced from other parts of Syria.

But thousands have fled in recent months, and the UN humanitarian office estimates about 160,000 people remain in the city.

An activist from the anti-IS Raqa is Being Slaughtered Silently group told AFP on Wednesday that conditions in the city were deteriorating, describing continuous bombardment and water and electricity outages. Civilians who have escaped have described harrowing journeys and being targeted by IS fighters as they fled.

The International Rescue Committee said earlier this week it was “deeply concerned for the safety of civilians in Raqa,” noting a drop in the numbers fleeing the city in the past week.

That decrease could indicate IS intends to use remaining civilians “as human shields,” the aid group said.

Civilians trapped in Raqa also face the risk of heavy coalition air strikes.

The number of reported civilian casualties in the coalition’s strikes has swelled as the SDF offensive has intensified.

Along with Mosul in Iraq, Raqa was one of the twin pivots of the self-styled Islamic “caliphate” that IS declared nearly three years ago.

Iraqi forces backed by the coalition are battling IS in Mosul too. The militants there are now confined to a few neighbourhoods in the Old City.

The Syrian military has so far been absent from the battle for Raqa, though state news agency SANA said Thursday that the air force had targeted IS positions in the west of Raqa province.

Full report at:



Syrian Soldiers on Verge of Capturing Vital Town in Damascus Province

Jun 08, 2017

According to a field source, only a number of buildings and a farmland are currently remaining under militants' control, while most of the districts in the town have been liberated by Syrian government troops.

The government forces also managed to break into Hawsh al-Salahiyah, cutting off Tall Farzat-al-Nashabiyah supply route.

The Syrian soldiers also captured several points, including the large hilltop of Tal al-Abd, Southeast of the strategic airbase of al-Dhumayr in the region.

In a relevant development on Wednesday, the Syrian army troops carried out a fresh round of anti-terrorism operation in the Central part of Damascus province, recapturing a strategic hill near al-Dhumayr military airport.

The army soldiers stormed ISIL's defense lines South-East of al-Dhumayr airbase and pushed the terrorists back from Tal (hill) al-Abd, killing and wounding several militants.

Well-informed sources confirmed on Friday that the army troops engaged in clashes with the terrorist groups of Ausoud al-Sharqiyeh and Ahmed al-Abdou affiliated to the US-Backed Free Syrian Army near the villages of Dakwah and Beir Qassab villages East of Damascus International Airport.

Full report at:



Syrian Army Advances to Areas Close to Arak Region in Eastern Homs

Jun 08, 2017

The army soldiers retook control of several hills overlooking Arak region in Northeastern Palmyra (Tadmur) after heavy clashes with ISIL terrorists.

The Syrian army units also continued to advance in Southeastern Palmyra, and seized back control of Montaj Znobia region in the Eastern parts of al-Sukri mines, 4km away from Palmyra.

Meantime, the Syrian soldiers liberated Tal al-Fara region in Eastern al-Sawanah in the Eastern parts of Homs after fierce clashes with ISIL terrorists.

Also, the Syrian fighter jets pounded the ISIL moves in al-Talileh region and the Southern parts of it as well as Be'r al-Badi'e in Eastern Homs.

Also, the Syrian fighter jets pounded terrorists' movements in al-Talileh region and areas to its South as well as Be'r al-Badi'e in Eastern Homs.

A military source referred to the army's advance in Eastern Homs, and said the Syrian soldiers killed tens of ISIL terrorists during these clashes and destroyed their military equipment.

In a relevant development on Wednesday, the Syrian army's artillery and missile unit along with the country's Air Force targeted heavily ISIL's defense lines and movements in Eastern Homs to pave the way for the ground forces' imminent operation to take back Arak energy-rich region.

The artillery and missile units shelled heavily ISIL's concentration centers in Arak region, Maoukh and East of Halab al-Jarrah in Eastern Homs, killing a number of terrorists and destroying several military vehicles.

Full report at:



Syrian government warplanes strike ISIS near Raqqa city

8 June 2017

Syrian government warplanes struck ISIS positions west of Raqqa city on the southern bank of the Euphrates river on Thursday, state media said.

“The air force destroyed positions and armored vehicles” in the western Raqqa countryside, about 70 km (44 miles) from the city, state-run news agency SANA said.

US-backed militias have separately been pushing into the edges of Raqqa city in the first days of their attack to seize ISIS’s base of operations in Syria.

The Syrian Democratic Forces, an alliance of Kurdish and Arab fighters, launched an assault this week to take the northern city.

The SDF has been closing in for months with the help of air strikes and special forces from the US-led coalition.

ISIS militants have made enemies of all sides in the six-year Syrian conflict, losing territory to several separate military campaigns over the past year.

The Syrian army has made gains against ISIS in the east of Aleppo province, bringing them to the provincial border with Raqqa which is largely under SDF control.

The Russian-backed Syrian army and allied militias then crossed into Raqqa province this week from neighboring Aleppo.

The strikes on Thursday targeted areas near the provincial border, along a highway linking Raqqa to Aleppo and close to the Tabqa area the SDF captured from ISIS in May.

The Syrian government described the Kurdish-led war against ISIS as “legitimate” last month.

Full report at:



UN warns about rising civilian deaths, Daesh killing of children fleeing Mosul battle

Jun 8, 2017

The United Nations says members of the Daesh Takfiri terrorist group have fatally shot children trying to flee heavy exchanges of gunfire between the extremists and government forces in the western part of Mosul, condemning the crime as "despicable."

“Shooting children as they try to run to safety with their families - there are no words of condemnation strong enough for such despicable acts,” said Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein, the UN high commissioner for human rights, on Thursday.

The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) also said in a statement that there had been a "significant escalation" of civilian deaths by Daesh, which has been targeting those trying to flee Mosul.

“Credible reports indicate that more than 231 civilians attempting to flee western Mosul have been killed since May 26, including at least 204 over three days last week alone,” the OHCHR said.

The UN human rights office added that dozens of people were shot dead by Daesh terrorists in Mosul’s al-Shifa neighborhood on May 26, June 1 and June 3.

The agency also said that it had launched an investigation into reports that between 50 and 80 people lost their lives in an aerial attack on the Zanjili district of western Mosul on May 31. It did not, however, provide any information as to who had carried out the strike.

The OHCHR noted that the deaths in Zanjili were reportedly caused by one of several recent airstrikes that had inflicted civilian casualties, adding that the UN agency is seeking further information about those attacks.

The UN high commissioner for human rights called on Iraqi authorities “to ensure that those who are responsible for these horrors are held accountable and brought to justice in line with international human rights laws and standards.” Hussein stressed that “the victims of such terrible crimes must not be forgotten.”

On Monday, Peter Hawkins, representative of the United Nations International Children’s Fund (UNICEF) in Iraq, estimated that 100,000 girls and boys are still living under extremely dangerous conditions in Mosul’s militant-held Old City neighborhood and other districts.

The UN agency is receiving "alarming reports" of civilians being killed, including children, in the city's western half, he added.

The UNICEF representative, however, didn't give a specific number of children killed in the crossfire.

Iraqi army soldiers and volunteer fighters from the Popular Mobilization Units, commonly known by the Arabic name Hashd al-Sha’abi, have made sweeping gains against the Takfiri elements since launching the Mosul operation on October 17, 2016.

The Iraqi forces took control of eastern Mosul in January after 100 days of fighting, and launched the battle in the west on February 19.

Jens Laerka, the spokesperson of the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, said on May 30 that nearly 600,000 civilians have been displaced until then amid the operation to drive Daesh terrorists out of western Mosul.

Full report at:





Boko Haram kills 14 in fresh attack in Nigeria’s Maiduguri

Jun 8, 2017

At least 14 people have been killed when the Boko Haram Takfiri terrorist group launched a fresh attack in Maiduguri, the capital of Nigeria’s Borno state.

Police said on Thursday that two dozen people were also wounded in explosions and shootings overnight in the suburbs of Maiduguri.

“A total of 13 people were killed in the multiple explosions with 24 persons injured while one person died in the attack (shooting),” Borno police commissioner Damian Chukwu said, adding that militants also set several buildings on fire before they were repelled by police forces.

Witnesses said shootings and explosions lasted for around an hour in the southeastern and southwestern outskirts of Maiduguri, prompting thousands to flee their homes.

Borno has been the hotspot of attacks by Boko Haram since the Takfiri group launched its insurgency against the Nigerian government in 2009. Maiduguri, a city of more than a million, has been largely free of violence over the past two years as a result of a successful military operation against the militants.

Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari announced six months ago that Boko Haram had been technically defeated and that the group could no longer pose a threat to major urban centers in northern Nigeria. He said many of Boko Haram members were forced to remote jungles near the border with Cameroon.

However, the group continues to launch attacks in Nigeria.

The Boko Haram militancy has left more than 20,000 people killed and around three million displaced.

The insurgency has also affected Nigeria’s neighbors of Chad, Cameroon and Niger.

Recent reports have suggested that despite army’s success in purging many towns and cities from militants, humanitarian staff still have difficulty reaching affected people as a massive risk of famine looms large for around 1.5 people in off-limit areas.



Libyan official: Manchester bomber’s brother knew of plans

8 June 2017

A Libyan counterterrorism official says the brother of the Manchester arena suicide bomber knew he was planning something, and that his radicalization took root when he was living in the city in 2015.

Libyan official Ahmed bin Salem said Thursday that Salman Abedi’s brother Hashim was still being held for questioning in Libya. Abedi’s father, who allegedly belonged to an al-Qaida-backed extremist group, is also being held there.

Abedi blew himself up at the Manchester arena last month, killing 22 people.

Full report at:



Hamas dismisses claims it has fighters in Libya

08 June 2017

Palestinian resistance group Hamas on Thursday denied recent claims that it had dispatched fighters to war-torn Libya.

The denial came one day after a spokesman for Libyan military commander Khalifa Haftar accused the Gaza-based resistance group of sending members of its armed wing to fight in Libya on behalf of Qatar, which is currently embroiled in an unprecedented diplomatic row with several other Arab states.

"Hamas has not -- and will not -- send its fighters and weapons abroad,” leading Hamas member Khalil al-Hayya said in a Thursday statement.

“Our weapons remain directed solely at Israel, which we will continue to resist -- even if it means sacrificing our leaders, our sons and our homes,” al-Hayya declared.

He made the assertion while taking part in the funeral of a recently-deceased Hamas member in the city of Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip.

Full report at:



Nigeria: Islamic Group Reacts to Bail for Hajj Granted Son of Ex-Minister On Corruption Trial

8 JUNE 2017

A rights group, Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC), has just issued the statement below in reaction to the granting of bail to a fraud suspect, Shamsudeen Bala.

Mr. Bala, son of former Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Bala Mohammed, is standing trial for an alleged N1.2billion fraud.

But the Federal High Court in Abuja suprised many Nigerians on Wednesday when it suddenly granted him bail to travel to Saudi Arabia for lesser hajj.

It was an unprecedented decision that MURIC has now described as miscarriage of justice and undue indulgence.

"The trial judge has been misled," the group said. "It is a miscarriage of justice and undue indulgence. Permission to travel abroad is usually given to accused persons on medical grounds. Religion is not strong enough as reason for granting an accused person leave to travel outside the country.

"This is a flimsy excuse. The accused is not even going for hajj (pilgrimage) but for 'Umrah which is lesser hajj. It is rather unfortunate that Nigerians engage in reckless abuse of religion and hide behind it to commit atrocities."

The group asked the court to immediately revoke the bail in the interest of justice.

A Federal High Court in Abuja yesterday granted the son of former Federal Capital Territory (FCT) minister, Shamsudeen Bala, permission to travel for 'Umrah (lesser hajj). Bala is standing trial on charges of money laundering to the tune of N1.2 billion.

The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) denounces the permission granted the accused. The trial judge has been misled. It is a miscarriage of justice and undue indulgence. Permission to travel abroad is usually given to accused persons on medical grounds. Religion is not strong enough as reason for granting an accused person leave to travel outside the country.

This is a flimsy excuse. The accused is not even going for hajj (pilgrimage) but for 'Umrah which is lesser hajj. It is rather unfortunate that Nigerians engage in reckless abuse of religion and hide behind it to commit atrocities.

Whereas hajj is the last of the five pillars of Islam, Nigerian Muslims make it their first priority. Whereas hajj is compulsory only once in a life time, Nigerian Muslims compel themselves to go every year. Whereas the Qur'an makes it explicitly clear that hajj is only compulsory on those who have the wherewithal (Glorious Qur'an 3:97), even poverty-stricken Nigerian Muslims bend over backwards to look for money by all means to travel to Makkah. It is only hajj officials who should be permitted to go annually.

This is an aberration and it is an area the Nigerian authorities should focus on. Efforts should be geared towards proper education of Nigerians about their religions. Inadequate or improper knowledge about one's religion is what usually leads to wrong perception, religious extremism, violence and terrorism.

Whereas 'Umrah is not compulsory, thousands of Nigerian Muslims throng to Saudi Arabia to perform it every year. Many of them repeat the same exercise on an annual basis even though it costs no less than one million naira for each person. This constitutes serious drain on the nation's foreign exchange while it boosts Saudi Arabia's economy.

MURIC therefore finds no justification whatsoever for somebody who is on trial for money laundering to seek permission to go on 'Umrah and for that frivolous request to be granted. It is sheer misplacement of priorities. Although Shamsudeen Bala remains innocent until he is found guilty, it appears the accused is being unduely rewarded for having the temerity to steal Nigeria's money.

That N1.2 billion which is in contention will go a long way in ameliorating the sufferings of thousands of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in the North East or pay the tuition fees of hundreds of indigent students in Nigerian universities. N1 billion is N1 million in one thousand places and we are talking of N1.2 billion, not just N1 billion. It is a fabulous amount of money in a country where the minimum wage is a paltry N18,000 and many Nigerians do not know what they will eat tomorrow.

The average Nigerian lives on less than $1 per day. Our per capita income is less than $300. Nigeria is the 26th hungriest country in the world. We are the 20th poorest nation yet the most 'fantastically corrupt'.

Bala should thank Allah that he is not behind bars. He should stay at home and pray to Allah from here. Allah is everywhere. He is near, not far. He is alive, powerful, wonderful. He does not sleep. He hears the cries of His servants whenever they call Him (Qur'an 2:186, 255).

Full report at:



Uganda: If You Think This Ramadan Is Hard, Try Fasting in Europe

8 JUNE 2017

By Sheikh Kassim Kayira

There is a way that God does not impose upon a person something that is not within our capacity to contain or bear.

In fact, it is our mental rather than physical capacity that needs to be adjusted within the confines of their elasticity to be able to cope with the challenge or task at hand. Muslims across the world are fasting the holy month of Ramadan.

From dawn to dusk, they abstain from food, drink and other nullifiers of fast commonly known as mubtwilaat assaum and stand in prayer a lot of the nights seeking God's favours.

Having grown up in Uganda, in the tropics where time is almost standard, we knew when to start fasting and when to break the fast. It was almost a given. But in Europe, a few realities I had to contend with came to the fore.

First, the freedom to eat during Ramadan, without any visible repercussions from the watching public. Back in Uganda, Kenya or Rwanda, it was taboo for a Muslim to eat during the day in Ramadan, let alone the fact that Islam is lenient to the sick, old, pregnant and children who have not attained adolescence.

These would eat in the safety of their houses away from any prying eyes, short of which they would be frowned upon not only by Muslims but also by Christians who knew Muslims to be fasting.

Kobe for tortoise and Kakolokooto were common words for fasting defaulters. In Europe I met my first 'unashamed eaters.'

Then came the weather patterns. Back in 2003, because Ramadan fell in winter, we fasted from around 6am in the morning to 2:30pm in the afternoon. It was a straight walkover; yet even then, for the faint-hearted, they were eight hours of torment with no heat, no sweat.

Fast-track to 2017 and I am back in for a short break with family. Ramadan falls at the beginning of summer and here up north, we are fasting 18 hours!

Summer days are notoriously longer in these climates, with the sun rising at 4am and setting at 10pm some days. To the ear, it sounds like disaster in waiting.

Yet faith has this ability to transcend any physical or physiological barriers. All but one of my half a dozen children are fasting these 18 hours in a row and none has collapsed.

It is the fourth year in a row this has happened. Their resilience puts to shame any excuse one would front not to fast.

Coming from a routine Monday and Thursday optional fasting in Uganda, doing eight hours, it was a bit of a shock wake-up call to the system adjusting it to an additional 10 hours.

Day one was uneventful. The weather balanced. Day two was the real task.

Very hot at first, then cold later. The combination did not go down well with my body that was already on a path of adjustment. A cold set in and to bed I went by early afternoon.

By break of fast at 9:30pm, I was a copy of myself. Yet the body sustained it. Into day 6 and the body is fully adjusted like that is where I always have been.

I spoke to a new convert to Islam, a white guy, who ordinarily would be drinking water every 30 minutes or snacking on something. He thought he would die, especially from dehydration.

A week into Ramadan and he could not believe what his body and mindset had done. He is now worried about how to go back to the old days once the 30 days end.

But Ramadan also invokes another spirit. The spirit of sharing. The time of breaking the fast is such that it would be so lonely to eat alone. So, people go out to families and friends or to mosques that organise iftar sessions and the unity, calmness, friendliness that pours out of that is just priceless.

It is all in the mind, they say; and yes, 18 hours is a lot, but only to the undetermined. Those in Denmark are fasting 21 hours out of a 24-hour day!

Full report at:



North America


Chicago owes $580,000 to Muslim congregation for denying a mosque

Jun 9, 2017

Four years after a Chicago suburb denied a Muslim group’s request to convert a vacant building into a mosque, the U.S. Justice Department announced Tuesday that the city is required pay the congregation $580,000 in a settlement.

The Des Plaines’ City Council voted in 2013 to deny a zoning request by The Society of American Bosnians and Herzegovinians (SABAH), a small Muslim congregation. The group sued the city later that year for violating the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA), a federal law that protects religious organizations from discrimination in land use and zoning decisions.

The Justice Department took up the case and filed a lawsuit in September 2015, after investigating the city’s zoning and land use practices. The department’s complaint accused Des Plaines of discriminating against the group “on the basis of religion or religious denomination by treating land use applications by non-Muslim religious groups better than it treated SABAH’s on the basis of parking requirements and tax-exempt status.”

The suit also alleged that the city “departed from its normal practices and procedures” in its denial of the group’s request.

“Religious freedom is a fundamental right that belongs to all persons and religious groups in the United States,” said Tom Wheeler, acting assistant attorney general of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, in a statement.

In February, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois found that the city applied improper use of its zoning laws in its treatment of SABAH and ruled that the department’s claims should proceed to trial.

Des Plaines settled the suit before the schedule trial, agreeing to pay the gorup $580,000 and provide training on religious land use law to its officials and employees. Des Plaines city attorney Peter Friedman told CBS Chicago that the suburb did not admit to any wrongdoing and viewed the decision to settle as “a business decision.”

Joel R. Levin, acting U.S. attorney of the Northern District of Illinois, said in a statement that the U.S. Attorney’s Office “will continue to safeguard the rights of religious groups to establish houses of worship without fear of discriminatory zoning or land use practices.”

The Des Plaines settlement comes just days after a New Jersey town settled a pair of lawsuits brought by a local Islamic group and the federal government. Bernards Township agreed to pay $3.25 million to the Islamic Society of Basking Ridge after the town denied the group a permit to build a mosque, the Justice Department announced.

Imam Senad Agic, who heads SABAH, expressed relief at the result of Tuesday’s settlement.

“They broke our hearts when they denied us because these are Bosnian refugees who lost everything,” he told the Associated Press.

The group went on to find a church in nearby Franklin Park to convert into a worship space. The money from the settlement, Agic said, will “help us do renovations, construction that we need to turn the sanctuary there into a prayer hall.”



US Senate advances Iran sanctions bill, eyes new Russia sanctions

8 June 2017

The US Senate voted overwhelmingly on Wednesday to advance a bill that would impose new sanctions on Iran, the same day at least 12 people were killed in attacks in Tehran, as lawmakers planned to add a package of sanctions on Russia to the measure.

The vote was 92-7 on a procedural motion to end debate on the Iran sanctions bill, clearing the way for a vote later on passage of the legislation.

Chuck Schumer, the top Senate Democrat, said most members of his party supported the Iran bill, but that they would only agree to let it go ahead because they expected it would be amended to include “a strong package” of new sanctions on Russia as well.

Many lawmakers have been clamoring for new sanctions on Russia over its alleged meddling in the 2016 US election, annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea region and support for Syria’s government in that country’s six-year-long civil war.

Full report at:



Muslim Americans: They seek freedom, too

June 8, 2017

By Letters editor

The leaders of ACT for America have been quoted as saying that the protests Saturday are not about extremists, fundamentalists or bad Muslims. Rather, they are about Islam and Muslims, period.

Founder Brigitte Gabriel previously stated that a practicing Muslim who believes in the teachings of the Quran cannot be a loyal citizen to the United States of America. Really? Is it then reasonable to say that more than 3 million Muslims living in the U.S. are bad guys or terrorists?

Muslims are often the victims of extremism and violence. This week, the Islamic State group claimed responsibility for two bombings that killed and injured people in Tehran, Iran, my hometown. There have been numerous attacks against children and civilians claimed by ISIS in the name of Islam.

Full report at:



Pro-Con: Should the U.S. designate the Muslim Brotherhood a foreign terrorist group?

Jun 9, 2017

Yes: Brotherhood provides spiritual grounding for jihadist terror

The Muslim Brotherhood is an organization dedicated to the overthrow of the United States and its values.

Since its inception, the organization’s foundational objective has been to re-establish a caliphate, which it defines as a geographic territory ruled by a caliph and governed by sharia law. More importantly, the Muslim Brotherhood has consistently embraced violent jihad as a core part of its strategy for success.

Founded in 1928, the Brotherhood has been an inspiration and has provided spiritual grounding for the ideology and violence of many radical jihadist groups, including Hamas, al-Qaida and the Islamic State.

The Muslim Brotherhood, whose core values pose a dire threat to U.S. national security, should be formally identified as the terrorist group it so clearly is.

With the recent horrific attacks in London, Manchester and Kabul, and with violence spreading to the Philippines and Indonesia, it is imperative to highlight the global threat posed by radical Islamic jihadists. The recent attacks have come on top of the slaughter of Muslims, Christians and others in regions such as the Middle East, Northern and Central Africa, and Europe.

The United States needs to recognize and identify those who seek the demise of our country and must take every legal step to confront, contain and ultimately defeat the threat posed by the Muslim Brotherhood.

Designating a group a terrorist organization is a hard and laborious process for the State Department. However, a thorough analysis must be done. Undoubtedly, the examiners would declare the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist group.

The evidence is overwhelming.

From stealth tactics to violent jihad, the Brotherhood has used various strategies to advance its goal of establishing a caliphate. And the group embraces the concept of taqiya, in which deception is permitted as a means of advancing one’s mission.

More directly, the International Islamic Relief Organization provided funding to al-Qaida. The CIA linked the organization to Osama bin Laden and Ramzi Yousef, the mastermind of the 1993 attack on the World Trade Center. The United Arab Emirates identifies it as part of the Muslim Brotherhood.

The Union of Good, designed to support Hamas and sanctioned by the U.S. Treasury Department in 2008, is another international terrorist network connected to the Muslim Brotherhood. Its board once included a Yemini Muslim Brotherhood cleric named Sheikh al-Zindani, who was designated a terrorist in 2004 for his work as an al-Qaida recruiter.

Further, the UAE, understanding the Brotherhood’s capabilities and intentions, has designated the group a terrorist organization.

Those who oppose the U.S. making that designation claim the Muslim Brotherhood renounces violence. Yet in recent years, the citizens of Egypt and Libya have suffered tremendously under Brotherhood-affiliated regimes.

The Muslim Brotherhood has done an exceptional job burying its violent ideology through its use of taqiya, front organizations and other subterfuge to hide and conceal its true intentions.

It is the responsibility of the State Department to work with U.S. allies and the intelligence community to gather the information necessary to make this indispensable designation.

After almost 90 years of the group spreading a lethal and evil ideology, it is time to step up to the plate, to identify the threat and separate the notion of good versus evil. It is time to finally designate the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist organization.

A former chairman of the U.S. House intelligence committee, Pete Hoekstra is a senior fellow at the Investigative Project on Terrorism and the author of “Architects of Disaster: The Destruction of Libya.” Readers may write him at IPT, 5614 Connecticut Ave. NW, suite 34, Washington, D.C., 20015.

No: Denouncing the peaceful group will set back the war on terror

By George Bisharat

Tribune News Service

Islamophobes — people who mischaracterize and malign Islam, one of the three great Abrahamic religions — are at it again.

In January, Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, R-Fla., introduced the Muslim Brotherhood Terrorist Designation Act in the Senate and House, marking the fifth consecutive year such legislation has been proposed.

Designating a group a foreign terrorist organization authorizes a host of U.S. government sanctions, including criminal prosecution of anyone providing the group with material support, whether in the U.S. or abroad.

Most responsible experts inside and outside government do not consider the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist group, and that view, to this point, has prevailed.

The difference this year? The current occupant of the White House, who has an unfortunate history of stoking hostility toward Islam. With that, and Republicans controlling Congress, the Brotherhood being wrongly designated a terrorist group has become much more likely.

In fact, President Donald Trump has reportedly been contemplating an executive order that would slap the label on the group.

He has been egged on by the anti-Islam Faith Leaders for America group, which held a news conference just days before his inauguration advocating such action.

Egypt’s military dictator, Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, praised by Trump as “a fantastic guy,” is also urging our president to brand the Brotherhood as terrorists, which would enable el-Sissi to further isolate and repress his domestic political opponents.

The Brotherhood was founded in Egypt in 1928 and has generally espoused governance in accordance with principles of Islam. It has inspired as many as 1,500 spinoff groups and political movements in the Middle East attracting millions of adherents. The few that have engaged in violence have, for the most part, been acting against foreign occupation (such as the Palestinian Hamas group), harsh regime repression, or other internal disputes.

But the Brotherhood leadership publicly renounced violence decades ago, and the group is not suspected to have resumed it.

A CIA analysis leaked in late January concluded that the Brotherhood had “rejected violence as a matter of official policy and opposed (al-Qaida) and (the Islamic State).” In Morocco, Tunisia, Jordan, Turkey and elsewhere, Brotherhood-affiliated parties and individuals regularly join governments and engage in fully legal and open political activity.

Why, then, is the Muslim Brotherhood, which has never been known to commit any act of violence on U.S. soil or against Americans, the object of so much attention in Washington?

Because Islamophobes need ammo in accusing organizations such as the Council on American Islamic Relations, the Muslim Public Affairs Committee and others of acting as Brotherhood fronts in the U.S. These groups, those with twisted perspectives argue, want to impose sharia law in America.

There is, of course, no credible evidence supporting such a wild conspiracy theory, and all of these groups have been under relentless law enforcement scrutiny since 9/11, if not before.

Full report at:



D.C. Muslim groups praise tolerant lawmakers

June 8, 2017

Muslim advocacy groups in Washington, D.C., honored federal lawmakers on both sides of the aisle Thursday for promoting religious pluralism and tolerance at a time of simmering political and social tensions in the U.S. toward Islam and Muslims.

Just over a week into Ramadan, celebrations are overshadowed following at least five terrorist attacks across the globe that have killed hundreds and left even more injured.

“Unfortunately, this isn’t the first time we’ve seen this happen,” said Rabiah Ahmed, media and public affairs director of the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC), which co-hosted the congressional iftar [evening meal] with the Pakistani American Political Action Comitee (PAKPAC).

“Last year during Ramadan it was a pretty violent month as well. What we’re experiencing now with these attacks and uptick [was] seen before. Muslims are concerned, and we’re perhaps more concerned than anyone else because of the way it impacts us.”

Ramadan is the monthlong Islamic holiday marked by daily fasts, prayer and contemplation that culminate in evening feasts.

Terrorist attacks have been carried out in the United Kingdom, Egypt, Baghdad, Kabul and Tehran over the past week.

The Islamic State has claimed responsibility for almost all of the attacks, but the veracity of its claims has not been confirmed.

Yet what is clear is that attackers frequently invoke the name of Allah, linking their actions to Islam and sowing fear and distrust among general populations toward Muslims.

It is important to honor those government leaders who stand up for the rights of religious minorities and share traditional Ramadan celebrations and experiences, Ms. Ahmed said.

“When these terrorists commit these acts of violence, they’re trying to create fear among Muslims and Islam,” she said.

“With each attack they commit, they create this false narrative that Islam and Muslims are at war with the West. With each attack they seem to convince more and more people — in terms of public perception — that drive anti-Muslim sentiment. That increases the hate crimes that we’re experiencing in this country.”

Thursday’s congressional iftar was the first hosted jointly by the Muslim Public Affairs Council and the Pakistani American Political Action Comitee.

Leaders honored as “Champions of Religious Freedom” include Reps. Mike Quigley, Illinois Democrat; Grace Meng, New York Democrat; Brian K. Fitzpatrick, Pennsylvania Republican; and Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring, a Democrat.

Of those honored, Mr. Quigley was recognized in part for his co-sponsorship of the SOLVE Act, which sought to block the use of federal funds from enforcing President Trump’s original executive order on a temporary travel ban for people from seven Muslim-majority nations.

The bill was largely symbolic as the executive order was blocked by federal appeals courts. When the revised travel ban was issued, Mr. Quigley joined 50 other representatives to offer amicus briefs to federal appeals courts, offering information in favor of upholding the block of the order.

“The American Muslim community represents our family, friends, neighbors, and allies, and I thank them for their vital contributions to all aspects of our society and culture,” Mr. Quigley said in an email to The Washington Times.

Full report at:



B.C. man facing terror charges cheered 2014 Quebec, Ottawa attacks

Jun 08, 2017

A British Columbia man accused of posting terrorist propaganda online mourned two attackers who were shot dead by police after killing Canadian soldiers in 2014, an expert witness for the Crown has testified.

A trial for Othman Hamdan of Fort St. John has begun in B.C. Supreme Court with RCMP Const. Tarek Mokdad, an expert in Islamist-inspired terrorism and so-called "lone wolf" attacks, describing several posts on the man's Facebook page.

Hamdan has pleaded not guilty to encouraging the commission of murder, assault and mischief, all for terrorist purposes. He has also entered a not guilty plea to inducing and instructing someone to carry out a terrorist act.

Expert witness discusses Facebook posts

Mokdad said after two Canadian military members were killed in separate terrorist attacks in Quebec and Parliament Hill in October 2014, posts appeared on Hamdan's Facebook page calling the attackers "brother" and "martyr."

He also discussed images and messages that appeared to be promoting the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, including the use of a social media hashtag used by members of the terrorist group.

It was unclear whether Hamdan was accused of being the author of the posts himself or sharing posts written by someone else.

One of the posts appeared after Martin Couture-Rouleau rammed a car into two Canadian Forces members in Quebec on Oct. 20, 2014, killing warrant officer Patrice Vincent. Couture-Rouleau was later shot by police.

"A Muslim brother is martyred by the Canadian police after he killed (a) Canadian soldier in retaliation to Canada's crimes in Iraq," the post said, as read aloud by Crown counsel Lesley Ann Kilgore.

Mokdad testified that in the view of ISIL, martyrhood is the absolute highest honour one can attain.

"A martyr means God has chosen you to be a martyr. It's not up to you to be a martyr. You aspire to be a martyr," he said.

"A martyr is promised, in Islam, the highest, most honorific status in paradise. There is nothing better than a martyr."

Testimony to continue Friday

Two days later, Michael Zehaf-Bibeau stormed Parliament Hill in Ottawa after killing Cpl. Nathan Cirillo at the National War Memorial. ISIL claimed responsibility for the attack, Mokdad testified.

The post on Hamdan's page on Oct. 22, 2014, appears in both English and Arabic, said Kilgore.

Full report at:

Mokdad is the only witness for the Crown and is expected to continue his testimony Friday.





NIA moves to revoke Zakir Naik’s passport, probe his money trail

June 9, 2017

by Varinder Bhatia

The National Investigation Agency is set to move to revoke the Indian passport issued to Islamic Research Foundation (IRF) president Dr Zakir Abdul Karim Naik wanted in a criminal case registered last year. After interrogating Naik’s sister and aide, the agency says it is also tracking his web of financial transactions that include at least 10 companies and 19 properties in Mumbai and Pune in which Naik has invested an estimated Rs 104 crore. Highly placed sources told The Indian Express that Naik is, most probably, in Malaysia and seeking Malaysian citizenship. The NIA has also initiated proceedings to get a Red Corner Notice against Naik and has sent the requisite documents to National Central Bureau (Interpol) NCB, India on May 11, 2017.

Sources said that Naik holds Passport No. Z2200757 that was issued in Mumbai on May 13, 2011. His passport was renewed on January 20, 2016 in Mumbai and a new passport was issued in his name bearing number Z3606623, with a validity of 10 years. The NIA, on November 18, 2016, on the orders of Ministry of Home Affairs, registered a criminal case against Naik at its Mumbai branch under Sections 153A of Indian Penal Code and Sections 10, 13 and 18 of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967. IRF has already been declared as an Unlawful Association by Government of India as per a notification dated November 17, 2016.

NIA sources told The Indian Express that it was in September 2012 that Zakir Naik obtained a status of Non-Resident Indian. He left India on May 13, 2016, and has not returned since. The special NIA Court at Mumbai issued a non-bailable warrant against Naik on April 21, 2017. NIA investigators claim that one Abu Anas, an accused chargesheeted in the “ISIS conspiracy case” registered by NIA in 2015, received a scholarship from Naik’s IRF for three consecutive years from 2013 to 2015. Sources say that Hyderabad-based Abu Anas was alleged to be part of a conspiracy linked to an ISIS-affiliated group, Junood-ul-Khalifa-fil-Hind. The chargesheet in the ISIS case further elaborated that the members of the said group conducted a number of meetings in different parts of the country “to recruit Muslim youths to work for ISIS and to identify places for training and finally commit terrorist strikes at various public places and vital installations in India”.

NIA investigators found that Abu Anas and his associates received instructions from one Yusuf-Al-Hindi @ Shafi Armar @ Anjan Bhai who is based in Syria and is purportedly the media chief of ISIS. NIA has found that “the total amount of scholarship provided to Abu Anas by IRF was about Rs 1.5 lakh”. Probing Naik’s financial assets, investigators are learnt to have found huge investments in various properties across Mumbai and Pune. Sources said at least 19 properties have been identified in which Naik reportedly invested more than Rs 104 crore over the last few years.  The NIA has also traced a web of at least 11 companies incorporated by Naik with his family members and close aides as Directors of these companies. NIA has tracked the trail of financial transactions running into many crores through these companies and the bank accounts of Zakir Naik’s sister Nailah Noorani and their father Abdul Karim Naik (now deceased) that took place in the last few years.

Nailah Noorani and a few close aides of Zakir Naik, sources said, have revealed financial details to interrogators in their statements duly recorded by the NIA following the relevant procedures of law. NIA has been looking for Naik since last year accusing him of “encouraging and aiding his followers through his public speeches, lectures and talks, to promote on grounds of religion, disharmony or feelings of enmity, hatred and ill-will between different religious communities and groups”. Naik has delivered over 1500 public lectures/ talks in India and abroad. His last public lecture in India was held in Kishanganj, Bihar in March, 2012.

NIA investigators have recorded the statement of Naik’s close aide Aamir Abdul Mannan Gazdar who is said to have told interrogators that he was merely a signatory in a number of companies owned by Naik and that he used to sign cheques later counter-signed by Naik’s sister Nailah. NIA Director General Sharad Kumar told The Indian Express: “He (Naik) is not cooperating with us despite repeated notices sent to him asking him to join investigations.”



Surrendered militant’s teachers say misguided youths should follow his example

June 8, 2017

Teachers at the Doon PG College of Agriculture Science and Technology who taught Danish Ahmed, the militant who surrendered in Srinagar yesterday, feel his decision will inspire other “misguided” Kashmiri youths to give up the path of violence and join the mainstream. The Hizbul Mujahideen terrorist, who was seen in a video shot during the funeral of outfit commander Sabzar Bhat last week, surrendered to authorities in Kashmir.

Danish was also found to have been involved in stone-pelting incidents in Handwara during the 2016 Kashmir unrest. “It is good that Danish has surrendered. Misguided Kashmiri youths can learn a lesson from him,” said Director of the institute Sanjay Chaudhry.

However, he said he was shocked when he learnt last month that the simple student they knew had links with hardcore militants in Jammu and Kashmir. “It is hard to imagine Danish in the company of militants. He was so simple. Apart from being good at studies, he also participated in extra-curricular activities with great jest, mixed up freely with everyone and was always willing to help friends,” he said.

Other teachers of the college echoed Chaudhry’s views, saying there was nothing dubious about Danish’s activities and the news about his links with militants came as a shock to all of them.

Full report at:



Malappuram natives hold on to experiences of Hindu-Muslim unity as divisive politics rise on Twitter

Ashraf Padanna

Jun, 08 2017

“It’s 3 am and I’m losing sleep over this negative covfefe about my beloved home state. #Kerala,” Nirupama Menon Rao, the Kerala-born former foreign secretary of India tweeted, using the Trump neologism.

She was reacting to a far-right Hindu groups' social media campaign against the Muslim-dominated Malappuram district, where she was born. She retweeted a joke Shashi Tharoor shared on Times Now about “penchant for confusing Pakistan with Kerala”.

There were all sorts of stories doing the rounds and concerted efforts to drive the point that Kerala was fast going the Kashmir way and non-Muslims, mainly Hindus, were being driven out of Malappuram.

Rao is now a public policy fellow at Washington-based think tank Wilson Centre, ranked among the top 10 in the world. She had taken to Twitter on Wednesday to debunk the campaign that only Muslims are allowed to buy land in Malappuram. “That is an outright lie. I am from Malappuram and my family owned land there for over a hundred years. You are spreading hate,” she wrote, opening a floodgate for hatemongers.

“Murderous vigilantism in the name of cow protection only unites the regressive and lumpen within us. Cribbed, cabined, confined India? No!” she tweeted four days back.

Minority Muslims and Christians constitute 45 percent of Kerala’s 33.4 million population, and it has no history of communal riots that the northern states are familiar with. Malappuram is 70.25 percent Muslim, 27.6 percent Hindu and 1.98 percent Christian. Malappuram-born historian MGS Narayanan, the former chairman of the Indian Council of Historical Research (ICHR), was also surprised at the claims and wild comparisons.

“I have been here for many years, and I don’t think there’s any such discrimination,” said Narayanan, who lives in the nearby Kozhikode, the second most Muslim populated district in Kerala.

“There is no such restriction (on non-Muslims buying land) there. This is not a truthful statement,” he told Firstpost, adding that he does not follow the social media.

The hate campaigners point out “atrocities” against Hindus in the district during the 1921 rebellion against the British crackdown on the Khilafat movement, which ended up in the Wagon tragedy in which 67 of 90 Muslim prisoners bundled into a freight vehicle suffocated to death on the way to Coimbatore Central Prison. Narayanan says that the campaign for the restoration of Khilafat was started by Mahatma Gandhi and the Congress as a movement against the British regime.

"But here the government servants employed to protect law and order were mostly Hindus.  Naturally, they were at the receiving end. It’s true; the movement had such a transformation. I think there were few conversions as well, but not much. That was not its intention. But it happened to be like that, and the British also wanted to make it a Hindu-Muslim divide.”

History apart, there are many shining examples for the strong bond the communities enjoy among them from the district. Last week, Shree Lakshmi Narasimha Murthy Vishnu Temple hosted iftar for some 200 Muslim families in Punnathala village on the premises of the centuries old temple.

It was sort of thanksgiving for the help they were rendering to the temple renovation and deity restoration. Since it’s their fasting month, they decided to cancel a mass feast they planned as part of the temple celebrations. The temple authorities said that it was a tradition the villagers inherited from their ancestors.

“We want to pass on this culture to the next generation as the youngsters are increasingly getting exposed to the hate campaign,” says Cherussery Unnikrishnan Nair, the temple committee president.

Fringe elements in the Muslim community also exploit every opportunity to destroy this harmony. But the elders make timely interventions to thwart attempts at any communal flare-up.

In May, the extremist elements on both sides came face-to-face when the Villwath Mahakshetram temple in Pookkottumpadam village was ransacked and three idols inside its sanctum sanctorum were disfigured.

There were demonstrations by the Hindu Aikya Vedi and counter-demonstrations by Muslim groups. There was also a call on the social media for Hindus to get ready to open refugee camps across the southern districts. But it lasted only for a day until the police arrested a Hindu man, Mohanakumar, hailing from the remote southern district of Thiruvananthapuram, where he had committed similar offences including murder.

The incident happened on the first day of the fasting month of Ramadan, coinciding with the Union environment ministry’s new restrictions on sale of cattle for slaughter. Many had feared deliberate attempts at creating communal violence.

But the police has not explained if it was done by him alone, which temple authorities doubt given the extent of destruction. “The (ruling) CPM also supports Muslim extremists aiming at a consolidation in its favour, which is equally dangerous,” says social critic Hameed Chennamangaloor. “Their overreaction against the slaughter ban is to make political capital out of it. The party is careful not to oppose the closure of eateries in some Muslim areas during their fasting month. The BJP is benefiting from this,” he told Firstpost.

In 2016, the police arrested a dozen RSS men for the killing of neo-convert Faisal, 32, in Kodinhi village where more than 90 percent of the families are Muslims. The reason: he switched his faith while working in Saudi Arabia as a driver and took his wife and children to his new faith. The arrested people included his brother-in-law.

At his funeral, hundreds of workers of Social Democratic Party of India (SDPI), the political arm of the right-wing Popular Front, a breakaway group of the Jama’at-e-Islami, drawn from distant places gathered provocatively chanting "Allahu Akbar". But the timely intervention of the Juma Masjid saved the situation. It called a meeting of families from both the communities who vowed to stand together to thwart such attempts at creating a communal frenzy.

They were living in harmony for centuries, and the Koorba Bhagavati Temple in the village stands on the land donated by the Kodinhi Juma Masjid, which follows the Sufi tradition.

The last time Kodinhi village was in the news internationally was for its mysteriously large number of twins, 250 in all, and they knew no hatred. The hate campaigners also claimed that the district had prospered disproportionately with the political patronage and the remittances from West Asia. But the state’s latest economic review says its per capita income is the lowest (Rs 85,575), far below the state average of Rs 112,343. At 13.45 percent, the district’s decadal population growth rate is far higher than the state average but much below the national average of 27.64 percent.

Kerala’s human development index is always compared with that of the developed nations and Malappuram is no exception.

Full report at:



Hizbul denies surrendered Doon student its member

Jun 9, 2017

DEHRADUN: Danish Ahmed, a Kashmiri youth studying in Dehradun who surrendered to the Jammu & Kashmir police two days ago, is suspected to be a member of the Hizbul Mujahideen group although the militant group, soon after his arrest, issued a statement distancing itself from him.

"Danish was part of the Hizb even if the outfit is now claiming to disown him. He came under the influence of Hizbul's ideology through social media. We have registered an FIR against him under Section 7/25 of the Arms Act, and will be interrogating him further," a senior police officer in Handwara in north Kashmir who is interrogating Ahmed told TOI on Thursday.

Ahmed, who hails from Handwara where his father runs a poultry shop, is a third year BSc (forestry) student at the Doon PG College. On May 26, he went missing from his college in the midst of his semester-end exams. Two days later, on May 28, he was spotted at the funeral of self-styled Hizbul commander Sabzar Bhat at Rathsuna village in south Kashmir where he was photographed wielding a grenade.

His picture started circulating on social media, after which he came on the radar of intelligence officials. On Tuesday, the 22-year-old surrendered to Kashmir police. At the time of his surrender, officials said, he had a grenade and pistol with him.

Full report at:



At UNHRC, India slams Pak for nurturing terror

Jun 9, 2017

India has again slammed Pakistan for "preaching and nurturing" terrorism at the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC), accusing it of violating human rights in both PoK and Balochistan.

Raising the issue at the 35th session of UNHRC, the government said Pakistan needed to rein in its "compulsive hostility" towards India and acknowledge that the entire state of J&K is an integral part of India.

"Pakistan remains in illegal occupation of a part of our territory. Therefore, the neutrality of the phrase 'Indian-administered Jammu & Kashmir' is artificial," said Rajiv K Chander, India's permanent representative to the UN offices in Geneva.

"The central problem in Jammu & Kashmir is cross-border terrorism, and Pakistan's use of terrorism as an instrument of state policy. This fact needs due recognition by one and all. We firmly believe that a policy of zero tolerance to terrorism is as much an international obligation as it is a commitment to our own people," he added.

India said Pakistan had with complete impunity channelised billions of dollars from international aid to training, financing and supporting terrorist groups as militant proxies against it neighbours.

"We demand that Pakistan lives up to its public commitment to refrain from supporting and sponsoring terrorism against India," India told the UNHRC.

The Indian delegation also highlighted that there were as many as 450 ceasefire violations by Pakistan in 2016 and also that the number of terrorists killed in J&K the same year had gone up by 50%.

"Internationally proscribed terrorist entities and their leaders continue to thrive in Pakistan with state support, even raising funds openly in flagrant violation of its international obligations," claimed Alok Jha, counsellor at the Indian mission in Geneva.

Full report at:



South Asia


International Community Should Stop Funding Afghan Govt: Jamiat-E-Islami Official

Jun 9, 2017

KABUL: on Thursday, Afghan media reported that Ismail Khan , a prominent member of Jamiat e Islami has called on the international community to stop raising funds for the Afghan government saying it has failed and unsuccessful to fix the weakening and deteriorating scenario in the country and other issues of national interest.

His statement comes just two days after acting foreign affairs minister Salahuddin Rabbani, who is also the leader of Jamiat e Islami party, said his party was calling for the rapid discharge of all heads of security institutions including Haneef Atmar who is national security advisor of President Ashraf Ghani, following a cord of noxious attacks in Kabul last wek that left over 150 people dead and hundred others were injured.

But apprehension between presidential palace and Jamiat has intensified after the presidential palace Jamiat’s call for Atmar to step down.

Khan claimed that the National Unity Government (NUG) under Ghani and CEO Abdullah Abdullah has failed and unsuccessful to find resolution to the issues facing the nation instead recommended an early census to replace what he described an incompetent and unskilled system.

He said that it would be better for the international community to support the Afghan people rather than supporting an incompetent and unskilled government.

“ I expect that the international community stops supporting this incompetent , weakened and unskilled government of national unity and instead support the people of Afghanistan, this system has lost its reliability and consistency and it has lost the trust of the people , therefore it is better that the international community especially the US stands together with the people,” he sustained.

But Khan said “The exclusion of officials from their posts will not change anything and instead recommended holding early elections in the country.”

“I hope that we get purge of this situation either through elections or a Loya Jirga so that these doubts uncertainties come to an end,” added Khan.

He called on the government to promptly act upon the demands nominated by Jamiat, admonition that there would be fallout if government disobeys the party’s recommendations and demands.



10 ISIS militants killed in latest airstrikes in Nangarhar province

Jun 08 2017

At least ten militants affiliated with the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) terrorist group were killed in the latest airstrikes carried out in the eastern Nangarhar province.

According to the local officials, the airstrikes were carried out in the past 24 hours in the vicinity of Kot district, once of the main strongholds of the terror group.

The officials further added that the militants were targeted in the vicinity of Nargis and Chinar areas of Kot district, leaving ten of them dead, including several foreign insurgents.

The local residents and security forces did not suffer any casualties during the airstrikes, the officials added.

No further details were given regarding the parties involved in the airstrike as both the Afghan and US forces conduct regular operations against the terror group in this province.

Nangarhar is among the relatively calm provinces in eastern Afghanistan but the anti-government armed militant groups have recently increased their insurgency activities in some parts of the province during the recent years.

This comes as an anti-ISIS operation is underway in Nangarhar to eliminate the presence of ISIS affiliates in this province.

Full report at:



Qatar crisis: Bangladesh should not rush into taking sides

Syed Zainul Abedin

Jun 9, 2017

Just because the Arab countries are quick to point fingers and take a counter terrorism stance against Qatar does not mean we have to rush to take sides

Experts say Bangladesh should consider all sides before taking a stand in the Qatar crisis, considering that it is the third destination country for migrant labours from Bangladesh.

Arab nations including Saudi Arabia and Egypt on Monday cut ties with Qatar, accusing it of supporting extremism, in the biggest diplomatic crisis to hit the region in years.

Speaking to the Dhaka Tribune Associate Professor of International Relations Shahab Enam Khan at Jahangirnagar University said: “Bangladesh has to be careful in making a decision. Just because the Arab countries are quick to point fingers and take a counter terrorism stance against Qatar does not mean we have to rush to take sides. We have to think about our migrant labour market, remittance and our sources of energy too.”

Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, Yemen and the Maldives joined Saudi Arabia and Egypt in severing relations with gas-rich Qatar, with Riyadh accusing Doha of supporting groups, including some backed by Iran, “that aim to destabilise the region.”

Qatar reacted with fury, denying any support for extremists and accusing its Gulf neighbours of seeking to put the country under “guardianship.”

The crisis is likely to have wide-ranging consequences, not just for Qatar and its citizens but around the Middle East and for Western interests.

Shabab does not think Bangladesh has a good foreign policy, critising the country’s inability to stand up to Saudi Arabia, saying: “Why did we make an anti-terrorism alliance with Saudi Arabia? Essentially it is an imposition from the Saudis. They have been able to impose their will onto us because our foreign policy is extremely weak.

“Bangladesh has to be more pragmatic and careful about the Qatar crisis. And Bangladesh has to understand that taking one side will not benefit everyone.”

Qatar is the third destination for the Bangladeshi migrant workers. According to Bureau of Manpower Employment and Training (BMET) statistics, in 2016, a total of 1,20,382 of migrant workers travelled to Qatar.

Just between January to May they have remitted $247.1 million from Qatar.

Currently there are 380,000 Bangladeshi migrants workers living in Qatar, working in different construction projects for the FIFA World Cup 2022.

Ambassador Muhammad Zamir, chief of the Political Division at Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) Secretariat in Jeddah from 1991 to 1995, told the Dhaka Tribune that Bangladesh has the right stance regarding this.

“We have to maintain a balance in our foreign policy.

“Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, during her last visit to Riyadh, told the Muslim leaders that we do not support terrorism. And Bangladesh is ready to send its force to defend Mecca and Madina.

“But, Bangladesh will not participate in any war in the middle-east,” Zamir said, quoting the prime minister.

Some are however concerned over the impact of this crisis on Bangladesh. former Bangladesh ambassador, Humayun Kabir doe see some major issues arising in the near future over this.

“If the middle east crisis prolongs, there might be a problem in our labour market. But we hope that this crisis will not last too long,” Humayun Kabir said who is also the vice president of Bangladesh Enterprise Institute (BEI).

“But there is nothing to panic over just yet.

“If Qatar faces an economic setback, our labour market will be also affected,” he added.

Bangladesh has a deal to import LNG, worth $1.5 billion, from Qatar.

According to Bangladesh Bank data, remittance flow has decreased by 2.5% in the 2015-16 fiscal year. In the first ten months of the current fiscal year, the income from migrants workers has dropped by more than 16%. Despite this recession, remittance from Qatar has increased by more than $120 million in the fiscal year 2015-16 comparing to the previous fiscal year.

Full report at:



Hekmatyar’s stance and warnings regarding the recent political upheavals

Jun 08 2017

The leader of Hezb-e-Islami Gulbuddin Hekmatyar announced the party’s stance regarding the recent political upheavals in the country, warning that the persistent deadlocks and fall of the current regime will have a negative impact on the condition of the country.

Speaking during a press conference in Kabul, Hekmatyar said the nation has the right for peaceful demonstrations and every Afghan must raise their voice for the change.

However, he said the use of power, violence, and arms to reach to the ARG Palace were a mistake which should not be repeated in the future.

Hekmatyar further added that his party does not support the fall of the current system in the place and emphasized that such violent moves will not be allowed either.

He also warned that the country will fall to the hands of the Taliban group if any individual or party attempts to bring down the government.

This comes as deadlock persists between the government and the demonstrators, mainly comprising of Jamiat-e-Islami supporters after the Friday demonstrations turned violent.

The Jamiat-e-Isalmi party announced its conditions for an end to the deadlock and demanded the removal of the top security officials, including the national security adviser Mohammad Hanif Atmar to step down, accusing the security establishments for failing to maintain security for the people.

Full report at:



Myanmar Muslims Struggle After Camp Closures

Jun 9, 2017

Yangon/Ramree, Myanmar. When Nwe Nwe Oo left Myanmar's restive Rakhine State for the commercial hub of Yangon with a $590 government stipend in her pocket, she hoped to escape persecution against minority Muslims and start a new life.

Two months on the 50-year-old widow, who had lived in the rundown camp for displaced people since Rakhine was roiled by communal violence in 2012, has already spent more than half of the money to rent a room of eight square meters. With few job prospects and high living costs, she struggles to feed her two daughters in a strange city 500 kilometers from home.

"What do we eat after the money runs out? We are all very worried. I can't find a job here," said Nwe Nwe Oo. The family is dependent on her elder daughter who earns $88 a month in a tea factory.

The authorities began shuttering her small camp in the town of Ramree in April, the start of a push by Aung San Suu Kyi's government to close down all such camps in Rakhine within five years, following a recommendation from a commission led by former United Nations chief Kofi Annan.

Humanitarian experts back the eventual closure of the camps but criticize the way the government has begun the task, which they say sets a worrying precedent for the handling of much larger camps elsewhere in Rakhine where tens of thousands of people still live.

Without more efforts to bring peace and stability to Rakhine, "by closing camps one will simply be transferring the problem to another place," said Mark Cutts, Head of United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in Myanmar.

Nwe Nwe Oo had little choice in moving to Yangon. The authorities said it was not safe for the 128 Muslim residents of the camp in Ramree, a coastal town in southern Rakhine, to remain in the town, where they had lived before the violence.

"We don't have enough police force to prevent conflict happening again," said Min Aung, spokesman of the Rakhine State government. "That's why we allow them to relocate to other places as they want to."

Officially Recognized

Nwe Nwe Oo's family belongs to the Kaman Muslim minority, who, unlike the more numerous Rohingya Muslims from northern Rakhine, have Myanmar citizenship and are officially recognized as an ethnic group.

The homes of Kamans in Ramree were burned in the clashes between Muslims and Rakhine Buddhists in 2012 that killed nearly 200 and displaced tens of thousands in the state.

"The new government helped us move to Yangon, but what we hoped for was to return to our homeland. I don't know whether that will ever happen," Nwe Nwe Oo told Reuters.

She was among nearly 100 Kaman Muslims from the camp who since April were offered bus fares, air tickets as well as additional modest financial support if they chose to leave the Buddhist-majority area.

The OCHA's Cutts said the Ramree Kamans told UN staff they were not allowed to go back to their original land and were given no viable options other than to leave.

In contrast to the Kaman Muslims, the government in April resettled nearly 300 ethnic Rakhine Buddhists, displaced in the same conflict, to 65 houses in the neighboring Kyauk Pyu area, local officials, residents and OCHA officials said. Each family was offered about $294 to settle in their newly-built homes with water, electricity and drainage systems.

Rights groups say that if the Kaman were not allowed to return to their places of origin, there is little prospect of a workable solution for the 120,000 stateless Rohingya Muslims still living in camps in Rakhine.

"If the government can't facilitate the safe and voluntary return of the Kaman, a group they officially recognize as citizens, what hope is there for the Rohingya?" said Amnesty International researcher Laura Haigh.

No Going Back

Kaman residents said apartheid-like conditions in Ramree, where some bus drivers refuse to carry Muslims, give them little chance of finding a job or a good education for their children in the Buddhist-majority town of 97,000.

"I really love my homeland, but I will face so many problems if I stay," said 55-year-old Tin Hla, a father of four and one of the last remaining residents of the camp, who is planning to move to Yangon this month.

Full report at:



Kabul voices alarm as anti-govt protesters expand sit-in camps

Jun 9, 2017

Kabul - Afghan authorities warned anti-government protesters of legal action Thursday as demonstrators set up new sit-in camps around Kabul, raising security alarms after a week of deadly bombings and street clashes.

Tensions have been high in Kabul since a truck bomb last Wednesday killed more than 150 people and wounded hundreds in the fortified diplomatic quarter, the deadliest attack in the Afghan capital since 2001.

Protesters enraged by spiralling insecurity have established sit-in camps in at least six locations around Kabul, including one near the bombing site, demanding the resignation of President Ashraf Ghani’s government.

Ghani has roundly rejected their demands, including calls to sack his powerful national security advisor Hanif Atmar, while demanding an immediate end to the protests.

“We ask our countrymen to end their protests which have caused problems considering the sensitive security situation and... open the roads for traffic,” the presidential palace said in a statement.

“If the protests continue, the government will take legal action against the demonstrators to ensure security for our people.”

Protesters are refusing to give in despite insurgent threats still looming over the city. Much of Kabul is on lockdown, with many streets blocked with shipping containers and armoured vehicles, but that has not stopped hundreds of people from joining the sit-ins.

“We must clearly say that any use of force against our civil protest will lead to catastrophe,” protest leader Asaar Hakimi warned on Facebook. “We will continue our protests until our demands are met.”

Any violent showdown between authorities and protesters could spiral into chaos, a threat that has prompted government allies including former warlord Gulbuddin Hekmatyar to call for peace.

Last Friday at least four people were killed when hundreds of protesters clashed with police, prompting officials to beat them back with live rounds fired into the air, tear gas and water cannon.

“Unruly protests have proved bloody in the past, and these unfortunate events should not be repeated,” Hekmatyar said. “I ask the protesters to remove their tents. Roads and streets are public property and nobody has the right to block them.”

The Italian-run Emergency hospital, seen as a medical lifeline in Kabul, has also voiced fears for the safety of its staff with protesters camped near their facility.

The attacks have exacerbated tensions between rival ethnic groups and raised the prospect of a political crisis.

Full report at:





Intelligence Ministry: Terrorists behind Attacks in Tehran Fought for ISIL in Mosul, Raqqa

Jun 9, 2017

"The ISIL team which participated in the terrorist operations at Imam Khomeini shrine and the parliament were 5 infamous terrorists affiliated to the Wahhabi and Takfiri groups who had left the country after being recruited by the ISIL terrorist grouplet and took part in the terrorist grouplet's crimes in Mosul and Raqqa," the statement said on Thursday.

It added that the terrorists had entered the country in August 2016 under the command of an ISIL ringleader named Abu Ayesheh who intended to carry out terrorist operations in the country's religious cities.

The terrorists fled the country after their group was disbanded and their commander, Abu Ayesheh, and other ringleaders of the group were killed by the Iranian security forces, according to the statement.

The statement came after Iranian Intelligence Minister Seyed Mahmoud Alavi announced that the country's security forces have foiled over 100 plots to carry out terrorist attacks in the country in the past 2 years.

Four unknown male assailants attacked the parliament building in the Iranian capital, killing and scores of people in the hallway on Wednesday morning. Also, another group of terrorists raided the holy shrine of the late founder of the Islamic Republic, Imam Khomeini, South of the Tehran on Wednesday morning, killing and wounding tens of people in a bomb attack and a shooting spree.

The Iranian security and Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) forces killed all the four terrorists who attacked the parliament building on Wednesday morning, bringing the situation under control after several hours of clashes on evening.

Meantime, the Iranian medical officials announced that the number of people killed in the two terrorist attacks has increased to 17, adding that 52 people were wounded.

The ISIL terrorist group claimed responsibility for the Wednesday morning terrorist attacks at the Iranian parliament and the holy shrine of late Imam Khomeini in Tehran.

Full report at:



Saudi ally Bahrain demands Qatar distance itself from Iran

Jun 9, 2017

Bahrain's foreign minister, keeping up the pressure on Qatar in a deepening Arab row, reiterated on Thursday a demand that Doha distance itself from Iran and stop support for "terrorist organizations".

Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and several other countries severed relations with Doha on Monday, accusing it of supporting Islamist militants and their arch foe Iran charges Qatar says are baseless.

In an interview published by Saudi-owned Asharq al-Awsat newspaper, Sheikh Khalid bin Ahmed al-Khalifa said conditions posed by the four countries for a resolution of the crisis were "crystal clear".

"Qatar has to redress its path and has to go back to all previous commitments, it has to stop media campaigns and has to distance itself from our number one enemy, Iran," he said.

"It has to realize its interests are with us, not with another country that conspires against us, wants to dominate and divide us. It has to stop supporting terrorist organizations, Sunni or Shi'ite, and its policy has to be for the benefit of its people."

In an earlier interview with the Saudi newspaper Makkah on Wednesday, Sheikh Khalid said he appreciated Kuwaiti mediation to resolve the dispute but that all options were open for his country to protect itself from Doha.

In some of the strongest comments related to those efforts by a senior Gulf Arab official, Sheikh Khalid told the newspaper he doubted whether Qatar would change its behavior.

Full report at:



Number of Tehran Terrorist Attack Victims Grows 17

Jun 08, 2017

"The number of martyrs in the yesterday terrorist incidents in Tehran has increased to 17," Shojayee said on Thursday.

Also, a spokesman of Iran's Forensic Medicine Organization said that 14 men and 3 women are among the martyrs killed in the Wednesday terrorist attacks at the parliament and the holy shrine of late Imam Khomeini.

Four unknown male assailants attacked the parliament building in Iranian capital, killing and scores of people in the hallway on Wednesday morning. Also, another group of terrorists raided the holy shrine of the late founder of the Islamic Republic, Imam Khomeini, South of the Tehran on Wednesday morning, killing and wounding tens of people in a bomb attack and a shooting spree.

The Iranian security and Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) forces killed all the four terrorists who attacked the parliament building on Wednesday morning, bringing the situation under control after several hours of clashes on evening.

Earlier on Wednesday, caretaker of Iran's emergency unit Pirhossein Kolivand had announced that the number of martyred people in the two terrorist attacks on the parliament and the holy shrine of the late founder of the Islamic Republic, Imam Khomeini, in Tehran has increased to 13, adding that 52 people were wounded.

The ISIL terrorist group claimed responsibility for the Wednesday morning terrorist attacks at the Iranian parliament and the holy shrine of late Imam Khomeini in Tehran.

Amaq news website affiliated to the ISIL reported that the Takfiri terrorist group has claimed the responsibility for the terrorist attacks in Tehran.

Iran's President Hassan Rouhani in a message on Wednesday said the twin attacks in Tehran were committed by the terrorists who have been hired by his country's enemies to strike at Tehran for their frequent losses in the region, ensuring that his nation would enhance the war on terrorism more resolutely.

Also, Iran's Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) in a statement issued on Wednesday afternoon vowed to take revenge for the twin terrorist attacks.

"The public opinion in the world, specially the Iranian nation sees this terrorist action that happened a week after the joint meeting of the US president with the heads of one of the reactionary regional states that has constantly been supporting Takfiri terrorists as to be very meaningful, and believes that ISIL's acknowledging the responsibility indicates their complicity in this wild move," the IRGC statement said.

The powerful military force further warned that it would not miss a single moment to avenge the incident, saying, "The IRGC has proved that it would not leave unanswered the shedding of innocent blood and it ensures the Iranian nation that it will not hesitate even for a moment to protect the country's national security and the lives of the dear people, as it killed all these terrorists with the help of the Law Enforcement Force today."

Meantime, Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei described the twin terrorist attacks in Tehran as insignificant moves, saying that such incidents prove the country's strategy of resistance and war on terrorism was well-thought and insightful. "The Iranian nation is moving ahead and the fumbling with firecrackers performed today will leave no impact on people's willpower," Ayatollah Khamenei said at a meeting with a group of students and representatives from the university student associations from across the nation here in Tehran on Wednesday evening.

Full report at:



FM: Iranians Reject US Claims of Friendship

Jun 08, 2017

"Repugnant WH statement & Senate sanctions as Iranians counter terror backed by US clients. Iranian people reject such US claims of friendship," Zarif wrote on his twitter page on Thursday morning.

His remarks came after US President Donald Trump Wednesday condemned dual terrorist attacks in Iran but warned that state sponsors of terrorism "risk falling victim to the evil they promote".

"We grieve and pray for the innocent victims of the terrorist attacks in Iran, and for the Iranian people, who are going through such challenging times," he said in the two-sentence statement.

But he alleged that Iran shared in the blame, saying that "we underscore that states that sponsor terrorism risk falling victim to the evil they promote."

The State Department also issued a brief statement. Although it usually expresses solidarity with and offers assistance to a government in a country where there has been a terrorism episode, it did not do so Wednesday.

"The depravity of terrorism has no place in a peaceful, civilized world," the department said in a three-sentence statement.

"The United States condemns the terrorist attacks in Tehran today," the statement said, adding that "We express our condolences to the victims and their families, and send our thoughts and prayers to the people of Iran."

Also, the US Senate voted on Wednesday to proceed with a bill that would sanction Iran just hours after 13 Iranians lost their lives in two terrorist attacks in Tehran.

92 members voted to move forward with the legislation, with just seven voting against.

Four unknown male assailants attacked the parliament building in Iranian capital, killing and scores of people in the hallway on Wednesday morning. Also, another group of terrorists raided the holy shrine of the late founder of the Islamic Republic, Imam Khomeini, South of the Tehran on Wednesday morning, killing and wounding tens of people in a bomb attack and a shooting spree.

The Iranian security and Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) forces killed all the four terrorists who attacked the parliament building on Wednesday morning, bringing the situation under control after several hours of clashes on evening.

Meantime, caretaker of Iran's emergency unit Pirhossein Kolivand announced that the number of martyred people in the two terrorist attacks on the parliament and the holy shrine of the late founder of the Islamic Republic, Imam Khomeini, in Tehran has increased to 13, adding that 52 people were wounded.

Full report at:



Iranian Security Forces Arrest 5 Suspects, 1 Female Terrorist after Tehran Incidents

Jun 08, 2017

"After the terrorist act in the (Wednesday) morning at the holy shrine of Imam Khomeini, 5 suspects were arrested by the police forces," Tehran's Police Chief General Hossein Sajedinia said on Wednesday evening.

Noting that the suspects are now under interrogation, he said, "The situation in Tehran is secure and there is no need for any concerns."

Meantime, Chairman of the Iranian parliament's National Security and Foreign Policy Commission Alaeddin Boroujerdi said that one of the terrorists who had entered the holy shrine of Imam Khomeini in Southern Tehran on Wednesday morning was arrested alive, adding that the female terrorist is now in hands of the intelligence authorities.

Four unknown male assailants attacked the parliament building in Iranian capital, killing and scores of people in the hallway on Wednesday morning. Also, another group of terrorists raided the holy shrine of the late founder of the Islamic Republic, Imam Khomeini, South of the Tehran on Wednesday morning, killing and wounding tens of people in a bomb attack and a shooting spree.

The Iranian security and Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) forces killed all the four terrorists who attacked the parliament building on Wednesday morning, bringing the situation under control after several hours of clashes on evening.

Meantime, caretaker of Iran's emergency unit announced that the number of martyred people in the two terrorist attacks on the parliament and the holy shrine of the late founder of the Islamic Republic, Imam Khomeini, in Tehran has increased to 13, adding that 43 people were wounded.

The ISIL terrorist group claimed responsibility for the Wednesday morning terrorist attacks at the Iranian parliament and the holy shrine of late Imam Khomeini in Tehran.

Amaq news website affiliated to the ISIL reported that the Takfiri terrorist group has claimed the responsibility for the terrorist attacks in Tehran.

Iran's President Hassan Rouhani in a message on Wednesday said the twin attacks in Tehran were committed by the terrorists who have been hired by his country's enemies to strike at Tehran for their frequent losses in the region, ensuring that his nation would enhance the war on terrorism more resolutely.

Also, Iran's Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) in a statement issued on Wednesday afternoon vowed to take revenge for the twin terrorist attacks.

"The public opinion in the world, specially the Iranian nation sees this terrorist action that happened a week after the joint meeting of the US president with the heads of one of the reactionary regional states that has constantly been supporting Takfiri terrorists as to be very meaningful, and believes that ISIL's acknowledging the responsibility indicates their complicity in this wild move," the IRGC statement said.

The powerful military force further warned that it would not miss a single moment to avenge the incident, saying, "The IRGC has proved that it would not leave unanswered the shedding of innocent blood and it ensures the Iranian nation that it will not hesitate even for a moment to protect the country's national security and the lives of the dear people, as it killed all these terrorists with the help of the Law Enforcement Force today."

Meantime, Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei described the twin terrorist attacks in Tehran as insignificant moves, saying that such incidents prove the country's strategy of resistance and war on terrorism was well-thought and insightful. "The Iranian nation is moving ahead and the fumbling with firecrackers performed today will leave no impact on people's willpower," Ayatollah Khamenei said at a meeting with a group of students and representatives from the university student associations from across the nation here in Tehran on Wednesday evening.

Full report at:



Israel advances plans for further 1,500 settler homes

8 June 2017

Israel has advanced plans for a further 1,500 homes in Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank, Peace Now said on Thursday, the second such announcement in a week.

More than 3,000 units have been advanced this week, a spokeswoman for the NGO that tracks settlement building in the Palestinian territory told AFP.

On Tuesday, Israel advanced 1,500 units, with the potential to add around another 900, Peace Now said. These 900 were confirmed on Wednesday by an Israeli defense ministry planning committee, it added.

In a separate process, 688 homes were advanced by the committee late on Wednesday and will now go out for a 60-day public comment period during which objections can be filed.

Peace Now’s Hagit Ofran told AFP a total of 3,178 units were advanced this week. The plans are at various stages in the process and the units are located in a number of settlements across the West Bank. Israeli authorities did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Full report at:



After Daesh attacks, Iran draws UN attention to Saudi threats

Jun 9, 2017

Iran writes to the UN Security Council, reminding the world body that the recent Daesh terror attacks in Tehran came hot on the heels of Saudi Arabia’s repeated threats against the Islamic Republic.

At least 17 people were killed and around 50 injured in Tehran on Wednesday, when gunmen attacked Iran’s Parliament (Majlis) and the Mausoleum of the late Founder of the Islamic Republic Imam Khomeini.

The Takfiri Daesh terrorist group claimed responsibility for the near-simultaneous assaults.

The Iranian Intelligence Ministry on Thursday released the names of and other information about the five Takfiri Daesh terrorists involved in the terror attacks. The five had participated in Daesh atrocities in the Iraqi city of Mosul and the Syrian city of Raqqah.

 “The terrorist attacks in Tehran took place on the heel of the rejection on 2 May 2017 of any dialog with Iran by the Saudi defense minister and his utter threat, emphasizing that ‘we will work so that the battle is on their side, inside Iran,’” Iran’s Ambassador to the United Nations Gholamali Khoshroo wrote in the letter dated Friday.

The remarks marked a high point in the belligerent Saudi Arabian discourse about Iran. They also saw Mohammed bin Salman, who is also the Saudi deputy Saudi crown prince, accusing Iran of seeking to “control the Muslim world.”

Tehran has consistently rejected Riyadh’s accusations of interference in the region, and has responded to the warlike comments by inviting the kingdom to dialog.

“It is not surprising either that the Saudi minister of foreign affairs had threatened Iran few hours before the attacks, saying that ‘Iran must be punished,’” Khoshroo also noted.

The Al Saud regime has been under fire for nurturing and exporting the radical Wahhabism ideology, which serves as a basis for the creeds of Takfiri groups operating across the Middle East.

Many observers say the Saudi rulers use Daesh and al-Qaeda-linked militants as proxies in pursuit of their own objectives in the region, particularly in Syria, where Riyadh has been seeking to facilitate the ouster of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Meanwhile, Takfiri terror groups have many sympathizers inside Saudi Arabia. There have been reports of fundraising campaigns active in the kingdom in support of Daesh, with the rulers refusing to stop such money donations.

The Iranian diplomat further said he had warned in a letter to the Council the last time about “the irresponsible, provocative, and ill-fated policies” of Saudi Arabia in promoting and financing extremist groups and its adventurism in the region, referring most prominently to the kingdom’s 2015-present bombing of Yemen.

He also said despite its patronage for the extremist ideology, Riyadh had been rewarded recently by a hefty arms deal with the US.

Washington named Iran as the target of the agreement, worth USD-110-billion, which was signed during US President Donald Trump’s visit to the Saudi capital last month.

Full report at:



Iran says it thwarted 100 terrorist plots in 2 years

Jun 8, 2017

Iranian Intelligence Minister Mahmoud Alavi says Wednesday’s twin attacks in Tehran were not the first terrorist incidents, adding that more than 100 terror plots had been foiled in the past two years.

“This was not the first terrorist plot. Terrorists have tried to carry out more than 100 terrorist plots over the past two years, all of which have been thwarted,” Alavi said on Thursday.

At least 17 people were killed and more than 50 injured in Tehran on Wednesday, when gunmen attacked Iran’s Parliament (Majlis) and the Mausoleum of the late Founder of the Islamic Republic Imam Khomeini.

The Daesh Takfiri terrorist group claimed responsibility for the near-simultaneous assaults.

“In recent days and months, we have witnessed heavy pressures from terrorists such that we have identified and arrested two- and three-member teams or even lone terrorists every week,” Alavi said.

The Iranian intelligence minister also noted that the recent terrorist attacks were under investigation, expressing hope that all their origins would be discovered.  

Separately on Thursday, the Iranian Intelligence Ministry released the names of the five terrorists who were killed after carrying out the deadly attacks in Tehran.

The men had left Iran after being recruited by Daesh and participated in the terror outfit’s atrocities in the Iraqi city of Mosul and the Syrian city of Raqqah, according to the statement.

Elsewhere in his remarks, Alavi touched on recent statements against Iran by Saudi officials, saying Tehran had "no doubt about Saudi Arabia’s support for terrorist movements in the world.”

“We see Saudi fingerprints in supporting terrorists in Syria and Iraq and the world believes that the Saudi … ideology is behind terrorist movements,” he added.

Hours before Tehran’s assaults, Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir said, “Iran must be punished for its interference in the region.”

Last month, Saudi Deputy Crown Prince and Defense Minister Mohammed bin Salman said in a televised interview with Arabic-language Al-Manar TV, "We will work to have the battle in Iran rather than in Saudi Arabia."

This is while Takfirism, which is a trademark of terrorist groups such as Daesh, is largely influenced by Wahhabism, the radical ideology dominating Saudi Arabia and freely preached by Saudi clerics.

Full report at:



Israel re-arrests former Palestinian hunger striker

Jun 8, 2017

Israeli forces have re-arrested Mohammed Allan, a prominent Palestinian prisoner who had staged a hunger strike in Israeli jail to protest against his detention without trial.

Media reports said on Thursday that Allan was detained overnight in the occupied northern West Bank.

Israeli domestic spy agency Shin Bet confirmed that the 32-year-old resident of Einabus was detained for questioning "as part of the struggle against the phenomenon of Palestinian incitement in media and social media, which leads to severe attacks in Israel."

Allan, who had been released from Israeli prison after a year without trial, was arrested for calling for resistance to the "Zionist enemy", it said.

In November 2015, Allan was released from a year in jail under an Israeli measure known as administrative detention, which allows Israeli courts to order suspects to be detained indefinitely, subject to renewal every six months, without charge or trial.

In June that year, he began a two-month hunger strike which twice left him in coma and also triggered protests across the occupied territories.

Allan, who is an alleged member of the Palestinian resistance movement Islamic Jihad and a lawyer by training, had been on hunger strike for 65 days to protest Israel’s practice of administrative detention.

He ended his hunger strike on August 20 after an Israeli court suspended his detention.

In mid-September, Allan once again went on an open-ended hunger strike after being re-arrested by Israeli forces following an improvement in his general health condition and discharge from hospital.

He was previously imprisoned from 2006 to 2009 for aiding Palestinians wanted by Israel.

Hunger strikes have become common among Palestinian prisoners, who have been protesting Israel’s practice of administrative detention in recent years.

In April, more than 1,600 Palestinian prisoners took part in a hunger strike, dubbed the Freedom and Dignity Strike. The strike was led by Marwan Barghouti, a jailed leader of the Palestinian Fatah movement.

The hunger strikers were demanding appropriate medical care and treatment in Israeli prisons, as well as an end to solitary confinement and the so-called administrative detention, which is a form of imprisonment without trial or charge.

Full report at:





Muslim University the First To Host A Church In Pakistan

Jun 9, 2017

Bishop Arshad said it took him another three years to negotiate with university officials."We had to work hard as many officers kept delaying our proposal," Bishop Arshad said. "Finally, we have great news for the whole Christian community in Pakistan. This is a landmark for the diocese."Chapels in government-run health or educational facilities are a rare phenomenon in Pakistan which has suffered terrorism and religious fundamentalism for decades. Most of the incidents of mob attacks and suicide bombings on Sunday worshipers have been reported in Punjab, home to over 1.5 million Christians. There are no places of worship for Hindu or Sikh students in 108 state-run universities. As opposed to Muslims, who openly pray in parks and roads, Christians and other religious minorities prefer to pray indoors. However, Christian conventions still encourage the community to make the sign of the cross in public. Saad Suleman, a doctoral candidate in Veterinary Medicine, said his Muslim friends congratulated him the day the university church was announced."Christian students face difficulty in getting combined rooms in the hostels [even though] we have a strong administration who tries to avoid religious problems," he said."The vice chancellor gave us permission to hold a Christmas program in 2014. However, it was cancelled due to the Peshawar school massacre. We never asked again," said Suleman."The Catholic cathedral, situated three kilometers from UAF, is our usual Sunday destination. Now we have our own church, we will be able to offer regular prayers like other students," he added.



Malik wants judicial commission to probe WikiLeaks’ claim

Jun 9, 2017

ISLAMABAD: Former interior minister Rehman Malik has written to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, seeking formation of a judicial commission to probe WikiLeaks’ allegation that the US was given access to Pakistan’s national identity database during his tenure. Speaking to reporters outside Parliament House on Thursday, the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) senator was reacting to a WikiLeaks tweet from June 6, where it recalled a diplomatic cable, leaked in 2011, which contained an account of meetings between former US Department of Homeland Security secretary Janet Napolitano and top Pakistan officials, including Mr Malik.

Calling the report “totally baseless, factitious and fabricated”, he said no country was given access to the National Database and Registration Authority’s (Nadra) records.

He claimed that as interior minister, he had always rejected requests asking for access to travel records of Pakistani nationals and called on incumbent Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan to “investigate this fake news as it is a matter of grave concern for him and many Pakistanis”.

Mr Malik also claimed that Usman Mobin, the current Nadra chairman, was chief technical officer at the time, and can be asked whether such access was granted to any country.

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Army releases details of 3-day Mastung operation that targeted 'IS facilitators'

Jun 9, 2017

The Army on Thursday released details of a three-day operation in the Mastung area of Balochistan earlier this month, in which security forces had killed 12 "hardcore terrorists, including two suicide bombers".

"The suicide bomber used against Deputy Chairman of Senate Maulana Abdul Ghafoor Haidri on May 12 was also sent by [the group targeted]," the ISPR revealed.

Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) said the operation was carried out on credible reports of the presence of a banned outfit's personnel who had been making contact with the militant Islamic State (IS) group.

"The operation, carried out from June 1 to 3, successfully denied the establishment of any direct or indirect IS-organised infrastructure in Pakistan," the ISPR said, adding that the killed terrorists had belonged to the banned Lashkar-i-Jhangvi Al-Almi (LeJA).

The terrorists had been operating from caves near the Isplingi (Koh-i-Siah/Koh-i- Maran) area, some 36 kilometres southeast of Mastung.

"Operation for physical clearance of target area, spread over 10km, started early morning on June 1 by [the] landing of [a] heliborne force," read the statement.

"Terrorists who were hiding in the caves offered stiff resistance. 250-metre-long gorge with steep heights and multiple caves made the clearance operation difficult and challenging.

"Intelligence and Security Forces personnel fought valiantly to clear the hideout by 3rd June," the Army said.

During the operation, five security forces personnel, including two officers, had been injured.

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NA urges ME states to show restraint

June 09, 2017

ISLAMABAD - The National Assembly on Thursday passed a unanimous resolution expressing its “deep concern” over the Middle Eastern crisis involving brotherly Muslim countries in the Gulf region, particularly Saudi Arab and Qatar.

The House, through the resolution moved by Law Minister Zahid Hamid, called upon all countries to show restraint and resolve all differences through dialogue.

“This House also called upon the (Pakistani) government to take concrete steps towards forging unity among the Muslim Ummah in accordance with the Parliament’s unanimous resolution of February 2015,” the resolution read.

At the start of the proceedings, the House offered Fateha for the victims of terrorist attacks in Iran. The Lower House also passed a separate resolution condemning terror attacks on the Iranian parliament and the mausoleum of Ayatollah Khomeini, the late leader of Iran revolution.

The House, through the resolution moved by Qaumi Watan Party chief Aftab Sherpao, expressed its solidarity with the people of the brotherly neighbour Iran. “The House reiterates its resolve to jointly combat the menace of terrorism in the region,” said the resolution.

The Senate also passed a similar resolution moved by PPP’s Kareem Ahmed Khwaja.

Apart from making speeches on the budget, the lawmakers from both sides of the aisle consumed half of the time on the Middle East crisis and the terrorist attacks in Iran.

Sherpao, before presenting the resolution, asked the government of Pakistan to play a proactive role to diffuse tension in the region. “The national security committee should also give a briefing to the parliament,” he said.

Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf lawmaker Shireen Mazari also supported the idea of a briefing by the national security to the parliament. Pakistan needs to distance itself from the Saudi-led military alliance before completely examining all dimensions of the coalition and its terms of reference, she said.

PPP’s Naveed Qamar stressed the need to carefully watch the internal security in the current international scenario.

Muttahida Qaumi Movement’s Sheikh Salahuddin also said that Pakistan should play a proactive role in the Middle Eastern crisis.

The members strongly condemned the terrorist attacks on the Iranian parliament and the mausoleum of Khomeini. They said that the whole nation stands with their Iranian brethren in this hour of grief.

Other lawmakers said that all the Arab countries were equally important for Pakistan. Islamabad therefore needed to play a neutral role in the current scenario, they said.

Awami Muslim League chief Sheikh Rashid said that Pakistan seemed to be indecisive in the current scenario.

“If the attack could take place at the GHQ, Kamra, Karachi bases, then it can also take place here and anywhere,” he said while referring to an incident outside the parliament, wherein a man confronted him, demanding him to pay the sum he allegedly owed him.

“Who was in the aeroplane that landed here from Qatar,” he asked from Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar, who was present in the House. He said that there was a need to appoint a permanent foreign minister.

PkMAP chief Mehmood Khan Achakzai stressed the need to accept parliament as the pillar of power. “A uniform wearing person cannot run the foreign office,” he said.

The opposition lawmakers, after making speeches on the Middle East crisis and Iran attack, again boycotted the house proceedings.

“Sensing the delicacy of the current situation, we (opposition) participated in the proceedings but we cannot be part of the budget debate,” said Opposition Leader Syed Khursheed Shah before leaving the House along with other opposition lawmakers.

The opposition has been on a boycott of the assembly proceedings for last few days as their demand for a live broadcast of budget speeches on PTV was not met by the government.

Full report at:



COAS for collective anti-terror response

June 09, 2017

ISLAMABAD -  Chief of Army Staff Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa on Thursday said that terrorism was a menace that called for a collective response.

According to a statement issued by the ISPR, the army chief said during his visit to the SSG training centre at Terbela, where, he witnessed the completion of eight-week-long counter-terrorism training of Nigerian Special Forces Battalion, conducted by the Pakistan Army SSG team. The Nigerian contingent included 440 trainees including 26 officers.

Gen Bajwa said that the Pakistan Army has vast experience of counter-terrorism operations and modern training facilities and “we are happy to play a part in enabling the counter-terrorism response of multiple friendly countries.

Full report at:



IS bid to establish foothold foiled

June 09, 2017

ISLAMABAD -  The successful operation by security forces in Mastung, which left 12 hardcore terrorists dead, has foiled establishment of an organised infrastructure of Islamic State, a global terrorist group, in Balochistan.

According to a statement issued by Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) on Thursday, the security forces conducted a major, three-day intelligence-based operation in Splinji area of Mastung district last week in which terrorists, hiding inside a cave to plan, coordinate and execute terror activities in the province, were killed.

“There were reports of 10-15 terrorists of a banned outfit Lashkar-e-Jhangvi al-Alami (LeJA) hiding in caves near Splingi (Koh-i-Siah/Koh-i-Maran), 36kms south east of Mastung. The said organisation was reportedly making efforts for communication with IS (Daish) and intended to facilitate establishment of its foothold in Balochistan,” the ISPR statement said.

The military’s media wing said operation for physical clearance of target area started early morning on June 1 by landing of ‘heliborne’ force.

“Terrorists hiding in caves offered stiff resistance. 250 metre-long gorge with steep heights and multiple caves made the clearance operation difficult and challenging. Intelligence and security forces personnel fought valiantly to clear the hideout by June 3,” the communiqué added.

Claiming that the suicide bomber who targeted Senate’s Deputy Chairman Maulana Abdul Ghafoor Haideri on May 12 was sent by this group from the same hideout, the ISPR said and added two would-be suicide bombers were also among those killed during the operation. “Five security personnel, including two officers, were also injured,” it added.

The army also claimed to have destroyed a bomb-making factory inside the cave, besides recovering a cache of arms and ammunition which included 50kg of explosives, three suicide jackets, 18 grenades, six rocket launchers, four light machine guns, 18 small machine guns, four sniper rifles, 38 communication sets.

Army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa has lauded the efforts of the army’s southern command, intelligence agencies and troops for carrying out the successful operation.

Reuters adds: Islamic State, which controls some territory in neighboring Afghanistan, has struggled to establish a presence in Pakistan but it has claimed several major attacks, including one on the deputy chairman of the Senate last month in Balochistan in which 25 people were killed.

A spokesman for the LeJ-AL said last month his group had split with Islamic State due to "policy changes".

Full report at:



Southeast Asia


Extreme Obsession with Individuals Can Affect Faith of Muslims: Dy PM, Malaysia

June 8, 2017

JOHOR BAHRU, June 8 – Muslims have been reminded not to be extremely obsessed with individuals because this can affect their faith in Islam.

Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said extreme obsession in practising Islam and the pillars of the religion are highly demanded by Islam.

“However, being extremely obsessive with individuals other than prophet Muhammad and parents can affect the faith of Muslims,” he said at a programme to inculcate pure Islamic values at Masjid Al-Mizan, Kempas, here today.

The home minister said misinterpretation of the Quran and the Sunnah and going against the consensus of Muslim scholars could also lead to extreme obsession.

“This can be seen by the emergence of obsessed groups or cults. Such obsession can lead to things like harakiri in Japanese culture and suicide bombing in the name of jihad or holy war.

“As such, it is unfair to blame others of Islamophobia.”

Islamophobia among the non-Muslims came about because they misinterpret Islam based on the action of some Muslims who destroyed the good image of Islam.

As such, the desire of Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak to see a moderate Malaysia should always be supported.

Zahid said in the spirit of harmony and plurality of religions and races in the country, he hopes that the matter could be realised.

He then led magrib prayers after breaking fast with some 1,500 Home Ministry staff and 100 orphans and the poor in Kempas.

Also present were Defence Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein, Johor Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Mohamed Khaled Nordin and Deputy Home Minister Datuk Nur Jazlan Mohamad. ― Bernama



China ‘gravely concerned’ at Islamic State’s claims of killing two teachers in Pakistan

June 9, 2017

China said on Friday it was “gravely concerned” at Islamic State claims that the group killed two Chinese teachers it kidnapped in Pakistan’s Baluchistan province last month, where Beijing is investing billions of dollars in infrastructure projects. China said it was working to verify the claim. Armed men pretending to be policemen kidnapped the two language teachers in Quetta, the capital of the southwestern province, on May 24.

The kidnapping was a rare security incident involving Chinese nationals in Pakistan, where Beijing has pledged $57 billion under its massive “Belt and Road” initiative to build rail, road and power infrastructure.

China says Pakistan is a major part of its plans to build a modern day “Silk Road” network of land and maritime routes to connect Asia with Africa and Europe. Key parts of the infrastructure will be in Baluchistan, including the new port of Gwadar, which will be linked to western China under current plans.

The killing of the teachers was claimed by Islamic State’s Amaq news agency on Thursday.

“Islamic State fighters killed two Chinese people they had been holding in Baluchistan province, southwest Pakistan,” Amaq said.

A Baluchistan government spokesman said officials were in the process of confirming whether the report was correct.

China’s Foreign Ministry expressed grave concern.

“We have been trying to rescue the two kidnapped hostages over the past days. The Chinese side is working to learn about and verify relevant information through various channels, including working with Pakistani authorities,” the ministry said in a short statement.

“The Chinese side is firmly opposed to the acts of kidnapping civilians in any form, as well as terrorism and extreme violence in any form,” it said.

There was no immediate comment from Pakistan’s interior ministry or its foreign office.

Chinese state-run newspaper the Global Times, published by the official People’s Daily, said in an editorial on Friday China would never bow in the face of terror, but also said Chinese people should also exercise greater caution abroad, especially in more remote areas.

“They also need to raise their ability to protect themselves, and as much as possible put distance between themselves and real danger,” it said.

China has not formally identified the two teachers. Chinese media has cited foreign media reports as identifying the two as a man and a woman who worked for a private language school.

The claim of the killings sparked anger on Chinese social media, with some strongly anti-Muslim comments.

Islamic State, which controls some territory in neighbouring Afghanistan, has struggled to establish a presence in Pakistan. However, it has claimed several major

attacks, including one on the deputy chairman of the Senate last month in Baluchistan, in which 25 people were killed.

On Thursday, Pakistan’s military published details of a three-day raid on a militant hideout in a cave not far from Quetta, saying it had killed 12 “hardcore terrorists” from a banned local Islamist group and prevented Islamic State from gaining a “foothold” in Baluchistan.

China’s ambassador to Pakistan and other officials have often urged Islamabad to improve security, especially in Baluchistan.

The numbers of Pakistanis studying Mandarin has skyrocketed since 2014, when President Xi Jinping signed off on the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor.

Consequently, any attack on Chinese interests in Pakistan would come as an embarrassment to Islamabad, which greatly prizes its relationship with Beijing. The two refer to each other as “all weather friends”.

Security in Baluchistan has improved in recent years, but separatists, who view infrastructure projects as a ruse to steal natural resources, killed 10 Pakistani workers building a road near the new port of Gwadar this month, a key part of the economic corridor.

Full report at:



Myanmar bars Rakhine documentary from film festival

June 9, 2017

Myanmar's censors have barred a documentary on festering religious tensions between Buddhists and Rohingya Muslims in Rakhine state, a film festival organizer said Thursday, highlighting deep sensitivity over a conflict that has bedeviled Myanmar's new civilian government.

The 18-minute documentary, titled "Sittwe" after Rakhine's state capital, follows Buddhist and Muslim teenagers affected by the unrest that rippled through the region in 2012, displacing more than 100,000 people, mostly stateless Rohingya.

Northern Rakhine become a hotbed of violence again in October 2016 when the military launched a bloody crackdown on Rohingya to a crush a small uprising.

"They said this film could not be screened in public because of cultural and religious issues," Min Htin, the founder of the Human Rights Human Dignity International Film Festival, told AFP.

"But I have watched the film and I don't see how it could make any conflict between religions," he added.

Myanmar's new civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi has faced global pressure to investigate accusations of rights abuses by the army and carve out a solution for the Rohingya, who are denied citizenship.

Read also: Portrait of Myanmar's 'Buddhist Bin Laden' chills Cannes

But she has shied from discussing the subject publicly and rejected a UN probe of allegations that soldiers raped, tortured and murdered Rohingya during their recent crackdown.

The festival, which was founded in 2013 as the country was just emerging from decades of brutal junta rule, will kick off on June 14.

The ruling was issued by a 15-member review board in Myanmar's Information Ministry and is likely to disappoint the country's budding film community, who had hoped for a new era of artistic freedom under Suu Kyi.

Limits on free speech have lingered under her administration, with the army still controlling much of the bureaucracy.

The Rohingya, a group reviled by many Buddhist nationalists, remain an especially volatile subject.

Full report at:



Amid Qatar crisis, China tells Iran that Gulf stability is best

Jun 9, 2017

China's foreign minister has told his Iranian counterpart that maintaining peace and stability in the Gulf is best for everyone, after several Arab states cut off ties with Qatar accusing it of supporting Islamist militants and Iran.

Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Bahrain and Egypt severed relations with the small Gulf Arab state on Monday. Qatar has denied the charges levelled at it.

Meeting on the sidelines of a regional security summit in Kazakhstan, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi told Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif that peace and stability in the Gulf accords with the common interests of the region and the international community.

"China upholds that the relevant countries should appropriately resolve the disputes between them," the Chinese foreign ministry cited Wang as saying on Thursday.

The brief statement gave no other details of their talks over what the Chinese foreign ministry described as "the present situation in the Gulf region".

China has traditionally played little role in Middle East conflicts or diplomacy, despite its reliance on the region for oil.

However, it has been trying to get more involved in efforts to end civil wars in both Syria and Yemen, casting itself as an honest broker without the historical baggage of the other permanent members of the U.N. Security Council.

In March, China played host to the Saudi king and Israeli prime minister in quick succession. China has close ties with Iran too.

Full report at:



Istiqlal, Police forbid rally to defend Rizieq

June 9, 2017

Istiqlal Mosque management body has not granted people permission to hold a rally to defend the wanted leader of the Islam Defenders Front (FPI) Rizieq Shihab in the mosque compound planned on Friday.

“There is no permission for that,” Istiqlal Mosque management body head Muhammad Muzammil Basyuni said on Thursday as quoted by, adding that the mosque had released a letter explaining that they did not give permission to any party who wanted to hold a rally at the biggest mosque in Southeast Asia.

A group of people, who call themselves the Alumni 212 after a group who joined the Dec. 2 rally in Jakarta last year that demanded the prosecution of then Jakarta Governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama over his blasphemy case, claimed that some 500,000 are expected to join a rally to defend fugitive firebrand cleric Rizieq Shihab at Istiqlal.

Jakarta Police chief Insp. Gen. Mochamad Iriawan has also opposed the idea. “What is the purpose of the rally? No matter how you want to fight it, the government won’t be afraid. The law has been enforced,” Iriawan said on Thursday.

Full report at:



Rizieq to file pre-trial motion this month, lawyer says

June 9, 2017

Islam Defenders Front (FPI) patron Rizieq Shihab’s lawyer, Kapitra Ampera, has said his team is set to apply for a pre-trial hearing to challenge the Jakarta Police’s decision to name the cleric a suspect in an alleged pornography case.

“Insya Allah [God willing], we will file the pretrial hearing request this June,” he told The Jakarta Post on Friday.

Kapitra said the lawyer team was still waiting for one document, which was essential in submitting the pre-trial request. He refused to explain what document he was talking about.

Rizieq left Indonesia to perform umrah (minor haj) in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, from April 25 to May 10, skipping a police summons for questioning over the pornography case allegedly involving him and Firza Husein, the coordinator of the Solidaritas Sahabat Cendana Foundation (SSC) and a treason suspect.

Rizieq did not return to Indonesia after performing umrah and instead, planned to extend his visa.

During his long stay in Saudi Arabia, Kapitra said, Rizieq continued to write his dissertation for a doctoral degree at a university in Malaysia. He also used much of his time to meet with Muslim leaders in the country.

Full report at:




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