New Age Islam
Thu Aug 13 2020, 01:43 AM

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

How Did An Islamic State Flag End Up In Edmonton? Flag Sellers Offer Theories

















Carrying on a long tradition of persecution of Myanmar’s Rohingya Muslims … the Venerable W. Photograph: the 61st BFI London Film Festiva/BFI London Film Festival

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How Did An Islamic State Flag End Up In Edmonton? Flag Sellers Offer Theories

The Venerable W Review – The Poisonous Monk Behind Myanmar's Anti-Muslim Vendetta

Brussels Exhibit Tackles Islam in City Scarred By Terror

Taj Mahal Rightly Kept Out Of UP Tourism Booklet: Minister

Pastors Arrested After House Churches Banned In Largest City Of Southern Punjab

 

North America

How Did An Islamic State Flag End Up In Edmonton? Flag Sellers Offer Theories

NY ‘Plotter’ Was Allegedly Doctor to Pro-Islamic State Gunmen

EDL founder Tommy Robinson to address one of America's most prestigious universities

US Muslim Concerned 'Award-Winning Bigot' Will Replace Tillerson

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South Asia

The Venerable W Review – The Poisonous Monk Behind Myanmar's Anti-Muslim Vendetta

Bangladesh Arrests Top Leaders of Jamaat-e-Islami

Terrorists attack Pakistan’s border areas from Afghanistan, claims Pak PM

14 dead as Rohingya boat sinks off Bangladesh

Bangladesh foreign minister: Dhaka won’t take suicidal steps in dealing with Rohingya crisis

Hekmatyar warns war will continue if necessary steps are not taken

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Europe

Brussels Exhibit Tackles Islam in City Scarred By Terror

Hate Crimes Targeting Mosques, Muslims Doubled In UK: Report

Britain 'firmly committed' to Iran nuclear deal, May tells Netanyahu

Srebrenica's Muslim defender cleared of crimes, Serbs protest

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India

Taj Mahal Rightly Kept Out Of UP Tourism Booklet: Minister

Muslim League MP E T Muhammed Basheer’s Salafi Remarks Backfire

Muslim panel to discuss Haj subsidy abolition

LeT ‘bomb-maker’ Tunda held guilty for 1996 Sonipat blasts

Top Jaish commander among 4 terrorists killed in J&K

Jan Raksha Yatra: Malabar rebellion first jihadi massacre, says Kerala BJP chief

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Pakistan

Pastors Arrested After House Churches Banned In Largest City Of Southern Punjab

Pakistan Nabs Suspect Distributing Pamphlets Allegedly Linked to Hizb-ut-Tahrir

3 Hazaras among 5 shot dead on Quetta's Kasi road

Clear Signs of De Facto Martial Law in Pakistan

Pakistan attempts to restart Afghan peace process

‘Pakistan has offered US joint action against Haqqani network’

MQM, PSP delegations assure support to Shia leader

US and India have joined hands to make CPEC controversial, claims Maulana Fazal

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Southeast Asia

Shariah Law on ‘Credentials’ Allows Govt to Suppress Topics on Islam

Malaysian Home Ministry Gazettes Prohibition Order on 22 Publications

New York Terrorist Plot Suspect a Surgeon From Philippines Isis Hotbed

Does Zahid understand scholarly research, asks academic

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Arab World

Al-Nusra Terrorists Vow to behead all Villagers in Abu Dali in Southern Hama

Iraqi Army Forces Find Daesh Mass Grave West Of Ramadi

Nusra Front, Islamic State clash in Syria's Hama province

Tens of Terrorists Arrive in Turkey to Enter Idlib Province

Turkish Army Deploys Huge Military Cargo at Border with Syria

US Air Raids in Syria Continue Killing Civilians

Syrian Army Wins back More Key Regions near Al-Sukhnah-Deir Ezzur Highway

Militants in More Regions End Battle with Syrian Army

Syrian Soldiers Seize ISIL's US-Made Weapons

ISIL Collapsing in Northern Deir Ezzur after Agreement with SDF

US supplying munitions to Daesh, Nusra terrorists: Top Syrian general

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Mideast

Fatah, Hamas to Discuss Security in Gaza under Unity Deal

PLO Censures Israel Plans to Build Nearly 4,000 Settler Units in West Bank

150 go on trial over coup bridge massacre

Iran promises 'crushing' response if US designates Guards a terrorist group

Deputy FM: Iran to Withdraw from N. Deal if Necessary

How Saudi Arabia tackles border spillover from the Yemen war

Turkey may find other partners if Russia reluctant to share S-400 technology: Cavusoglu

Nobel Laureate group urges Trump to stick to Iran nuclear deal

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Africa

Restructuring: Islamic Group, MURIC, Seeks Six Reliefs for Nigerian Muslims

Islamic Scholars Clamour For More Universities

UN assisting thousands of migrants in Libyan smuggling hub

UN says two peacekeepers killed, 12 injured in eastern DR Congo

UN peacekeeper killed in attack in DRC

Nigeria resumes secret trial of Boko Haram suspects

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau

URL: http://www.newageislam.com/islamic-world-news/new-age-islam-news-bureau/how-did-an-islamic-state-flag-end-up-in-edmonton?-flag-sellers-offer-theories/d/112832

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How did an Islamic State flag end up in Edmonton? Flag sellers offer theories

Oct 09, 2017

A few years ago, Arif Dewji, owner of House of Flags and Banners in Coquitlam, B.C., got an odd request from a prospective customer.

A man who seemed to be based in New York sent over the design of a flag he wanted printed.

At first Dewji did not know the meaning of the white logo set against a black backdrop, but something seemed fishy. After some online digging, he realized it was the flag used by followers of the Islamic State terror group.

"I didn't touch it with a dirty shirt," he said.

Edmonton police have said an Islamic State flag was found last weekend in a vehicle involved in what they are investigating as a terrorist attack.

Abdulahi Hasan Sharif, a 30-year-old Somali refugee, is accused of hitting a police officer with a speeding car, stabbing him and then mowing down pedestrians with a cube van. He faces 11 charges, including five counts of attempted murder. Sharif does not currently face any terrorism charges.

Dewji said he doubts anyone in Canada would have been able to get his hands on a professionally made flag locally, but it's possible it came from China. Images of the flag come up in search results on the Chinese e-commerce site Alibaba, but not on eBay or Amazon.

Dewji told the would-be client he wouldn't print his flag.

"Basically the conversation went dead and he just hung up the phone."

Edmonton flag shop refuses to print ISIS flags

Phyllis Bright, owner of The Flag Shop in Edmonton, said she had a similar inquiry this summer.

A man called asking for an Islamic State flag to be printed and, when she refused, he asked for a plain black one instead. Presumably he intended to stencil on the logo in white paint.

At first she didn't think much of it. Bright said she is sometimes sheepishly asked for Confederate flags, which are seen as a symbol of America's history of slavery, and she declines.

"The more I thought about it, the more fearful I became," Bright recalled.

"It really scared us because I think until last weekend we felt very sheltered in Edmonton and the fact that someone would even ask about it was very scary."

She did not have the man's name, but she tracked down his number, which was local. She called the RCMP, who referred her to the Edmonton police. She said the police told her there wasn't much they could do based on just a flag request, but that they'd keep the information on file.

Bright said she has no idea where someone could have picked up the flag found in Edmonton, but she added it looked professionally done in photos she saw in the news.

Both Dewji and Bright said their businesses refuse to sell flags emblazoned with symbols associated with hatred, such as Nazi swastikas, unless it's for a legitimate purpose such as a film or stage production.

The flag associated with the Islamic State is black with white Arabic writing along the top. Below that is a white circle with black writing that is meant to portray the seal of the prophet Muhammad. A flag with a similar design has been used by members of the Somali terror group al-Shabaab. Many jihadist groups use some variation of a black flag with white script, sometimes referred to as a "black standard."

The design has sown so much confusion and fear that when a Zurich man hung a black-and-white Jack Daniel's whiskey flag in his window, neighbours raised concerns, said a report in the U.K. tabloid The Sun.

Inscriptions on the Islamic State flag together make up a basic declaration of faith recited by Muslims around the world — that Allah is the only God and Muhammad is his prophet. Mainstream Muslims have been angered to see the message appropriated by the terror group in such a way.

Andre Gerolymatos with Simon Fraser University's terrorism, risk and security studies program likens using the flag to white supremacists using a Christian cross.

"It just shows that these people are trying to exploit peoples' sentiments and beliefs by perverting them."

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/edmonton/isis-flag-edmonton-1.4346467

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The Venerable W Review – The Poisonous Monk Behind Myanmar's Anti-Muslim Vendetta

10 October 2017

Barbet Schroeder’s overpoweringly bleak documentary about the Buddhist monk stirring up ethnic hate against Myanmar’s Rohingya Muslims is the third in what has now emerged as his “trilogy of evil” – a trio of disquieting documentaries of which the first two were General Idi Amin Dada in 1974 and Terror’s Advocate in 2007 about the genial, cigar-smoking Jacques Vergès, lawyer for Klaus Barbie.

The Venerable W delivers a nauseous, almost black-comic jab at any liberal who fondly believed that Buddhism and Buddhists somehow float ethereally free of the sectarianism and bigotry that infect any other religion. And it also emerges as a devastating indictment of someone who is not its subject and appears only briefly: Aung San Suu Kyi, the leader who is now increasingly resembling a passive-aggressive Eva Perón, or perhaps a Mother Teresa, but the way Christopher Hitchens considered her: as a self-important matriarch of nationalism.

It is actually about Ashin Wirathu, an orange-clad Buddhist monk with a mass following, who despite a bland and almost torpid manner is a fanatical anti-Muslim activist, using social media and unceasing programmes of public speaking and DVD propaganda to stir up violent hate against the Rohingya Muslims – claiming that they are a Saudi-backed Bangladeshi insurgency whose purpose is to infiltrate the country, destroy Myanmar’s traditional Buddhism and establish a caliphate. At this monk’s instigation, Rohingyas have their villages burned and they are harassed, beaten and killed. Wirathu himself drops his quiet mannerisms at the end of the film, for a raucous speech calling the UN human rights envoy Yanghee Lee a “whore” and for an acid interview mocking Angela Merkel. Time magazine ran a cover story about Wirathu in 2013, but Schroeder’s movie gives a more substantial, and stomach-turningly intimate study of the man, even more relevant now that Aung San Suu Kyi’s fall from grace has focused attention on Myanmar’s sectarianism.

Schroeder’s film persuasively points out that Rohingya persecution is nothing new. The government’s Operation King Dragon carried out similar actions in the late 1970s: ostensibly a counter-insurgency, but more resembling a pogrom, fuelled by the conviction that the territory bordering Bangladesh is rich in mineral deposits. Beating up and killing the Muslim minority is a traditional risk-free way of reaffirming Myanmar’s embattled statehood. And the country’s Buddhist monks are a willing civilian militia. There are gruesome images of violence in this film which reminded me of Josh Oppenheimer’s The Act of Killing (2012) and The Look of Silence (2014), about the brutal mass slaughter in Indonesia, or perhaps Matthew Heineman’s City of Ghosts (2017) about Isis in Raqqa.

So is this film more evidence that we are reliving the 1930s? Actually, it put me in mind of the 1990s. This preposterously poisonous monk reminded me of the Belgian-born journalist and radio announcer Georges Ruggiu whose inflammatory broadcasts in Rwanda against the Tutsis were a very substantial cause of the massacres. Like Wirathu, there is the same touch of pure irrational malevolence, something that does not have a political or ideological explanation. Maybe it’s a clinical pathology. Nationalist fever could simply be a pretext for a bacchanal of violence. And of course there is the example of the Bosnian genocide: mass killings in the very midst of Europe, where “never again” had been a political mantra for four decades.

There is the same paranoia over territory and the same self-pitying overdog victimhood – beating up a smaller minority, and claiming that they are in fact the larger force, backed by foreigners. Wirathu even deploys an outrageous “false flag” claim: that Rohingyas are setting fire to their own villagers to get international support. Maybe Wirathu had studied the Serbs’ PR in the 1990s: they used to say that the Muslims were bombing their own positions in Sarajevo.

The Venerable W does not explicitly debate the existence of evil as such, but it certainly argues that nationalism, ignorance, arrogance, dogmatic religion and fear are its constituent elements. This is a sombre, pessimistic but necessary film.

https://www.theguardian.com/film/2017/oct/10/the-venerable-w-review-ashin-wirathu-myanmar-rohingya-muslims-barbet-schroeder

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Brussels Exhibit Tackles Islam in City Scarred By Terror

Oct 10, 2017

BRUSSELS — For months after the Brussels extremist attacks of 2016 it seemed an exhibition on Islam’s legacy in Europe might never open in the city. At first, the creators and city officials felt the time wasn’t right, and then they struggled to find a location willing to host a show certain to be seen as controversial by some.

But the “Islam. It’s Also Our History” exhibition at the city-owned Vanderborght Building finally managed to open and is telling its story of a long Islamic presence on European soil that has shaped Western culture in areas ranging from medicine, philosophy and architecture to diplomacy, language and food.

“We want to make clear to Europeans that Islam is part of European civilization and that it isn’t a recent import but has roots going back 13 centuries,” said Isabelle Benoit, a historian with Tempora, the organization that designed the exhibition.

Funded by the European Union and Belgian authorities, the show was conceived many years before the deadly Paris attacks of 2015 were carried out by a Brussels-based extremist cell and the March 2016 attacks that killed 32 people in Brussels itself.

It tries to build bridges in an era of distrust and fear by showing the rich civilization that Muslims first brought to Europe in the Medieval period, when they ruled in the Iberian Peninsula, today’s Spain and Portugal, for eight centuries. There they produced a rich civilization and oversaw a long era in which Muslims, Jews and Christians lived in peaceful co-existence, albeit with Jews and Christians as second citizens.

The golden era is recalled today in Islamic architectural gems — castles and mosques-turned-cathedrals — that still dot Granada, Seville and other parts of Spain, Portugal and even Sicily.

Jean-Francois Ravagnan, a visitor from Liege, Belgium, said he found the exhibition a “chance to set the record straight.”

“We no longer take the time to look at our common history. We’re no longer interested in the other, in their origins, in their traditions,” he said.

The show also addresses difficult issues, including violent extremism and the problems that Belgium and other Western European countries have faced in past decades in integrating large Muslim communities.

While stressing that integration is often a success, the exhibition puts some blame on both native populations and Muslim migrants for the times integration fails, and says building bridges requires accommodation on both sides. To Muslim newcomers there is a pointed message delivered in a short video: certain values are “non-negotiable” in Europe, including democracy, individual rights, secularism and gender equality.

A variety of traditional objects and installations are used to tell the story of three major periods of Muslim presence on Europe’s soil: the Arab conquest of Spain in the Middle Ages; Ottoman rule over southeastern Europe starting in the 14th century; and the Colonial era, which opened the way for Muslims from the Middle East and Africa to begin settling in Europe in the 20th century.

The unsettled problems of today, including the large-scale migration over the past few years and Islamic violence, are dealt with primarily with artistic installations, some of them provocative.

One installation — “End of Dreams” by Danish artist Nikolaj Bendix Skyum Larsen — is an ode to those who have died trying to reach Europe in dangerous voyages across the Mediterranean Sea. Visitors find themselves in a dark room surrounded on all four sides by large videos of the sea bottom, with bundles on the floor evoking the small bodies of children who have drowned at sea.

But one installation in particular provoked some Muslim schoolteachers from Belgium on a recent visit — a Louis Vuitton vanity case holding a mock bomb, creation of U.S. artist Gregory Green.

Nejia Adouiri, a 41-year-old primary school teacher, said she found it “very confrontational” that the show “wanted to make a link between Islam and what has been happening recently worldwide.” She was also upset that it was among the last objects in the show — giving it the power to linger in visitors’ minds.

In response to the criticism, organizers told The Associated Press that they intended to move the installation to a different place in the exhibition hall to give it less psychological weight, and would also probably add some textual context. But they said they wouldn’t remove it entirely.

Eli Barnavi, a historian from Tel Aviv University and president of the scientific committee that developed the exhibition, said that while jihadi extremism is an aberration in the long history of Islam, it’s a reality of the current age that must be dealt with, too.

He said society must grapple even with these difficult issues, and that while organizers and city officials were hesitant to open the exhibition soon after the 2016 attacks, the time was finally right.

“Slowly but surely everybody started to understand that that’s the moment to do it,” Barnavi said. “That precisely because of the strife and the violence and terrorism it’s important to have some kind of pedagogical approach, some kind of dialogue; and the exhibition is meant to do precisely that, to show that Muslims are very much part of Europe, that they belong here, that it’s a very old presence on European soil, that they had an important influence and impact on this civilization.” — (AP)

http://www.phillytrib.com/news/brussels-exhibit-tackles-islam-in-city-scarred-by-terror/article_e622f156-ca39-5cf3-adf9-9fc82e746eb1.html

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Taj Mahal rightly kept out of UP tourism booklet: Minister

Anuja Jaiswal

Oct 10, 2017

AGRA: Days after the row over the absence of the Taj Mahal from a UP government booklet on tourism projects, a cabinet minister of the state said on Monday the 17th-century monument was "rightly kept out and should instead be replaced with the Guru Gorakhnath peeth".

Laxmi Narayan Chaudhary, the minister in charge of religious affairs and culture, claimed this was necessary as the present UP government was "rashtravadi (nationalist)" and runs on "dharm niti (religious policy)".

"Taj Mahal is not the symbol of any religion and (it is) nobody's. It does not represent any religion," Chaudhary said at an event in Hathras organised by the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP).

He added, "On the other hand, Gorakhnath peeth represents people's faith." When someone pointed out that the Unesco heritage site was hailed as one of the world's wonders, he said, "Those who included the monument in that list must have been of a similar taste (mizaz) as those who built it."

The absence of the Taj Mahal from the UP government's booklet on ongoing and future tourism projects had triggered a massive outcry last week. Later, UP tourism director general Avneesh Awasthi had said the booklet was not "a compendium of tourist attractions... just a book to highlight the works done by the incumbent government and projects it plans to take up".

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/taj-mahal-rightly-kept-out-of-up-tourism-booklet-minister/articleshow/61013132.cms

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Pastors arrested after House Churches banned in largest city of Southern Punjab

Oct 10, 2017

Bahawalpur: October 9, 2017. (PCP) Church leaders in the city of Bahawalpur are urging Prime Minister of Pakistan Mr. Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, Chief Minister of Punjab Mian Shahbaz Sharif and Interior Minister government of Pakistan to uphold the constitution after the administration imposed restrictions on Christian worship in their city. Please sign and circulate our petition to support their efforts.

Authorities have ordered the closure of house churches in Bahawalpur after Muslims complained that they were disturbed by Christian prayers. Some Christians across hold their regular services in the houses of pastors and other members until they are able to afford a proper church building. However, when they gather at these locations for prayer the Punjabi police force are now arresting their pastors.

Several Pastors have been arrested under this targeted campaign against house churches instigated by the district council and enforced by Bahawalpur police, these men include: Rev Arslan-ul-Haq, Rev Munir Masih (Gospel of Salvation), Rev Arshd Baghicha (Kings Jesus Pentecostal church), Rev Javad Veru (Pentecostal church), Rev Mubashir Maqsood ( United Presbysterian Church Pakistan), Rev Patress Nawab Gill, Rev Shoukat Masih and Rev Arshad Rehmat ( Gospel of Salvation)

There are only four church buildings in Bahawalpur; which is the largest city in Southern Punjab. These historic church buildings of The Catholic Church of Pakistan and The Church of Pakistan were built in the city of Bahawalpur prior to the 1947 independence of Pakistan and in 1971.

Permits to build new church buildings in the area are not granted if the site is within 200 meters from any mosque or 100 metres away from a Muslim residential home.

Local pastors in Bahawalpur want to Government of Pakistan take action against on those authorities who are banning house churches and want BPCA help them in this mission because they are unable to build proper buildings for churches to accommodate public worship.

Local churches are now not allowed to use a PA system during services, in addition to being unnecessarily restrictive; this action impedes the communication of the message from the pulpit to those who have come to hear it, as church congregations on average have very large attendances on any given Sunday - hence amplification would be required. It is estimated that more than 1000 Christian families live in the city of Bhawalpur.

In addition to these logistical restrictions Church services have to be rescheduled, as they are not permitted to conflict with Muslim prayers in Mosques in that locality.

Given the inspirational value of raising of a 140 foot cross in Karachi a project led by a Pakistani Christian businessman (click here), Bahawalpur’s administration has also placed limits and special permits on the common practice of erecting of crosses on gates of new Church buildings. Which seems intended to be to make the church invisible in a process that ostensibly seeks to minimalize the presence of Christians to reduce offence to the primary Muslim citizens of the city.

Banning house church meetings for prayer in the city of Bahawalpur pulls the rug out from under religious freedom and guarantees provided to religious minorities in the constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, showing how basic rights are suppressed.

The original Constitution of Pakistan did not discriminate between Muslims and non-Muslims. However, the amendments made during President Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq's Islamization led to the controversial Hudood Ordinance and Shariat Court. Later, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's government tried to enforce a Shariat Bill, passed in May 1991. After the incident of 9/11 Pervez Musharraf's government took steps to curtail the religious intolerance of non-muslims but this has had little effect.

http://www.pakistanchristianpost.com/detail.php?hnewsid=6648

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North America

 

NY ‘plotter’ was allegedly doctor to pro-Islamic State gunmen

Oct 10, 2017

A Filipino doctor wanted over a foiled jihadist plot targeting New York’s subway and Times Square previously treated pro-Islamic State (IS) group militants in the mountains of southern Philippines, the military said on Monday.

Russell Salic, 37, had links to the Maute group, which since May had been occupying parts of the Philippines’ most important Islamic city of Marawi in a bid to establish an IS caliphate in Southeast Asia, Philippine authorities said.

“He was among those who were treating wounded members of the Maute group,” military spokesman Colonel Edgard Arevalo told AFP.

Another military spokesman, Major-General Restituto Padilla, told reporters Salic had performed these tasks in visits to Maute training camps before the Marawi attack.

“That’s why his nom de guerre or nickname, based on our information, was ‘Doc’ or ‘Doctor,'” Padilla added.

Salic, who has been in Philippines custody since April, is wanted by US prosecutors after he and two other were indicted over a plan to conduct bombings and shootings in Times Square, New York’s subway system and concert venues in the name of IS.

The attacks were planned for the Muslim holy month of Ramadan in 2016, US prosecutors said when they announced the charges on Friday.

One alleged plotter is already in US custody while the second is in Pakistani custody.

Salic is accused of wiring $423 to the US to help fund the plot, the American justice department said.

He and the suspect in Pakistan now face legal proceedings seeking their extradition to the United States.

The restive south of the mainly Catholic Philippines is home to a decades-old Muslim separatist insurgency and to extremist gangs that have declared allegiance to IS.

Among them is the Maute group, which had withstood a US-backed military campaign in Marawi including artillery and daily air strikes in fighting that had left 979 people dead and thousands displaced.

Salic is under investigation in Manila over his alleged involvement in the kidnapping and beheading of two sawmill workers in April 2016 in the southern rural town of Butig, which the military had blamed on the Maute group.

Four other sawmill workers were set free and told authorities they saw Salic in the Maute camp where they were detained, senior assistant state prosecutor Peter Ong told AFP.

“The complainants said they saw him in an adjacent room full of guns. He was cleaning guns,” Ong said, quoting from the workers’ depositions.

Salic had denied the allegation and said he was in another province then, according to Ong, who is handling the investigation and has yet to decide whether to charge Salic in court.

http://www.dhakatribune.com/world/2017/10/09/220505/

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EDL founder Tommy Robinson to address one of America's most prestigious universities

Oct 10, 2017

Tommy Robinson, founder of the far-right English Defence League, is to give a talk to one of America’s most prestigious universities.

Mr Robinson, 34, who has repeatedly been accused of stoking Islamophobia, will address students of traditionally liberal, Ivy League Columbia University on Tuesday in a talk provocatively entitled: “The fall of Europe – mass immigration”.

His talk will be the start of a succession of controversial hard-right figures addressing students at the university whose alumni include Bill Clinton’s former secretary of state Madeleine Albright.

On 30 October students will hear from Mike Cernovich, who helped fuel the “pizzagate” conspiracy theory in which Democrats linked to Hillary Clinton were falsely accused of child sex trafficking – and who has also been lavishly praised by the US president’s son Donald Trump Jr.

The Columbia University College Republicans club, which is organising both talks, described Mr Robinson as “an important political figure in England and Europe”, who has “championed the notion that radical Islam is incompatible with Western values and the freedoms we currently enjoy”. 

It also claimed Mr Robinson “has been jailed unfairly due to his politics, which should frighten any American who values freedom of speech.”

The promotional material gave no explanation as to when or where Mr Robinson might have been “unfairly jailed”. 

Nor did it mention that the EDL founder was jailed for 12 months for a drunken assault in 2005, jailed again in January 2013 for using someone else’s passport to enter the US illegally, and again in January 2014 for his part in a £160,000 mortgage fraud.

Mr Robinson, who founded the EDL in 2009 but left the street-protest group in October 2013, has repeatedly been accused of making inflammatory and divisive statements about Muslims.

The day after the Manchester Arena attack, he made an online video in which he stood outside a mosque in the city, alleging that 16 people within a two-mile radius had fought for Isis, and claiming: “In these houses are enemy combatants.”

In another video, he claimed Government “inaction” against extremism would lead to a “disgruntled and angry population cleaning out this Islamic problem”.

On Saturday Mr Robinson took a camera crew to London’s Natural History Museum, where a car had mounted the pavement.

He was filmed talking about “what looks like a suspected jihad attack... black male, possibly a convert, probably will turn out to have been on our watchlist.”

Police later ruled out any link to terrorism and confirmed the incident was being treated as a road-traffic matter.

Mr Robinson, however, has insisted he has never incited hatred or violence, claiming he was just warning about the kind of “sectarianism” that might lead to “idiots” attacking the Muslim community because they felt the Government was doing nothing about Islamist extremism.

He now plans to launch his new book – Mohammed’s Koran: Why Muslims Kill For Islam – in Manchester – despite criticism from Mancunians and Dan Hett, whose brother died in the arena attack.

In addition to the offences for which he was jailed, Mr Robinson has a conviction for leading Luton Town football supporters in a 100-person mass brawl with rival fans, during which a court heard he had chanted the words “EDL til I die”. 

After being given community service and a three-year ban from attending football matches in July 2011, he claimed outside court to be the victim of the British “police state” because he thought he was being prosecuted for “what I am saying rather than what I am doing”.

The claim he has been “jailed due to his politics” may be a reference to the time in September 2011 that he was remanded in custody and went on hunger strike after breaching bail conditions by attending an EDL rally while awaiting court proceedings for assaulting a fellow EDL member.

Mr Robinson was subsequently convicted and given a suspended jail sentence for headbutting the EDL man.  A Bedford Prison source told Luton Today: “His hunger strike only lasted 24 hours and then he gave up.”

Mr Robinson has also said he spent three days in a “grimy prison” in Switzerland before being fined for a rooftop protest at Fifa’s Zurich headquarters in which he and a fellow EDL member demanded England footballers be allowed to wear poppies on their shirts.

In October 2014, after being released from jail part-way through his mortgage fraud sentence, he was jailed yet again for breaching the terms of his licence.

Mr Robinson claimed his licence conditions included that he refrain from contact with the EDL. He said he had been recalled to prison because “I responded to a death threat targeting my family”.

Without offering detailed evidence, he told his 12,000 twitter followers that his rearrest was also related to him being due to speak at the Oxford Union “exposing police persecution”.

Given Mr Robinson’s criminal record, it is thought he will travel be unable to travel to the US in person and will instead address students via Skype.

Campaigners including the Southern Poverty Law Center Chapter at Columbia and Black Lives Matter of Greater New York are planning to protest at what they called “hateful and divisive rhetoric which does not align with the values of the university”.

CUCR, however, has said: “We’re proud of our efforts to provide a conservative voice on an overwhelmingly liberal campus and to defend free speech.”

CUCR president Ari Boosalis, a finance student, told DNAinfo New York: “I don’t agree with all my speakers on every point, but it’s important for that conversation to happen.

“A lot of people that represent middle America and those types of voters, they’re not represented at this school at all, and this is an opportunity for students to confront those views.”

Mr Robinson rushed to the Natural History Museum on Saturday after being enthusiastically received by some supporters at a march in London organised by the recently-formed Football Lads Alliance. 

Full report at:

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/tommy-robinson-english-defence-league-edl-immigration-talk-columbia-university-islamophobic-racism-a7990686.html

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US Muslim concerned 'award-winning bigot' will replace Tillerson

Oct 10, 2017

Muslim advocates in the United States have shown concern over the potential nomination of an official accused of making past "Islamophobic" comments to replace Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.

A group, dubbed Muslim Advocates, said reports suggesting that CIA Director Mike Pompeo could be nominated to the post are "concerning".

"Rumours that Mike Pompeo is being considered for a cabinet position should concern every senator and every American who cares about religious freedom," Scott Simpson, public advocacy director for Muslim Advocates, said in a press statement on Monday.

"The Secretary of State is in charge of implementing much of the Muslim ban, and having someone so hostile to American Muslims in that role is even more chilling. 

"This not a man who can be trusted in the cabinet, and we urge members of the Senate to speak up against his potential nomination," the statement added.

Pompeo has made a number of controversial statements against Muslims in recent years.

Following the Boston Marathon attack, Pompeo accused Muslim American leaders of being "potentially complicit", angering the nations Muslim community.

The US official also claimed that Muslims "abhor Christians…and will continue to press against us until we make sure that we pray and stand and fight".

He was also a staunch advocate of halting the refugee resettlement programme.

Full report at:

https://www.alaraby.co.uk/english/news/2017/10/9/us-muslim-concerned-award-winning-bigot-will-replace-tillerson

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South Asia

 

Bangladesh arrests top leaders of Jamaat-e-Islami

Oct 10, 2017

DHAKA - Bangladesh police Monday night arrested the top leaders of the country’s largest Islamic party, an official said, as the government appeared to have launched a crackdown on the main opposition parties.

Nine people were arrested after a raid on a house in Dhaka’s northern neighbourhood of Uttara, including the top leader of the Jamaat-e-Islami party, Maqbul Ahmed, deputy leader Shafiqur Rahman and former member of parliament Golam Parwar.

“We learnt from a secret source they were holding a meeting at a secret place at a house in Uttara Sector Number Six. We have found some papers from that place,” Dhaka Police deputy commissioner Shaikh Nazmul Alam told AFP, adding they were investigating the documents.

He did not say what the Jamaat leaders were arrested for, but that “most of them were fugitive”. Prothom Alo, the country’s largest newspaper, said the leaders were arrested on charges of sabotage.

The arrests came as the government appeared to have launched a crackdown on the opposition parties after it came under heavy flak for its handling of the Rohingya crisis which has seen a massive influx of refugees fleeing violence in neighbouring Myanmar. Earlier in the day, a court in the country’s east issued an arrest warrant against main opposition leader Khaleda Zia after she failed to appear at a hearing over charges related to a 2015 fire-bombing of a bus that killed eight people.

Zia has been visiting her exiled son in London for the last two months and is expected to return home later this month.

The country’s chief justice, who is widely seen as a major critic of the government, has also gone on a month-long leave, amid concerns that he was forcibly sent to vacation and might not return to duty.

A Jamaat spokesman condemned the arrests, saying the leaders were attending “a social gathering”.

“We protest the arrests. These are motivated. We are a democratic party and abide by all democratic norms. We did not do anything that was violent or went against the democratic ways,” he said.

Ahmed, 79, has not appeared in any public meeting or political activities after he was elected as the head of the Islamist outfit last October, months after the execution of previous leader Motiur Rahman Nizami for alleged war crimes related to the 1971 war.

Nizami, who was elected secretary general last year, is seen as his heir apparent.

Jamaat has been banned from contesting polls in Bangladesh after the country’s high court ruled in 2013 that the party’s charter contravened the nation’s secular constitution.

The government of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina also set up a controversial war crimes tribunal in 2010, which convicted and sentenced to death top Jamaat leadership, triggering nationwide violent protests that left hundreds dead. Five of the key leaders including Nizami were later hanged.

http://nation.com.pk/international/10-Oct-2017/bangladesh-arrests-top-leaders-of-jamaat-e-islami

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Terrorists attack Pakistan’s border areas from Afghanistan, claims Pak PM

Oct 09 2017

The Pakistani Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi has claimed that terrorists attack Pakistan’s border areas from their safe havens in Afghanistan.

Speaking to a private TV channel during an interview, Abbasi claimed that the terrorist leadership have safe havens in Afghanistan.

The latest remarks by Abbasi come as pressures are on the rise on Islamabad regarding the safe havens of the terror groups, mainly the Taliban and the notorious Haqqani terrorist network in Pakistan.

In the meantime, senior US officials are expected to visit Islamabad at the end of this month and earlier next month amid reports the officials will deliver tough message by President Donald Trump to the Pakistani officials regarding the circumstances surrounding the fight against terrorism.

Relations and ties between Islamabad and Washington have deteriorated since President Trump announced the new US strategy for South Asia and strongly criticized Pakistan for sheltering the terrorist groups.

Full report at:

http://www.khaama.com/terrorists-attack-pakistans-border-areas-from-afghanistan-claims-pak-pm-03611

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14 dead as Rohingya boat sinks off Bangladesh

Oct 10, 2017

SHAH PORIR DWIP, Bangladesh - At least 14 Rohingya refugees, most of them children, drowned and scores more were missing Monday after their overloaded boat capsized in the latest tragedy to strike those fleeing violence in Myanmar.

Authorities in Bangladesh said the boat was carrying between 60 and 100 people when it overturned and sank in rough seas on Sunday night.

The bodies of 11 children, two women and a man were washed up on Shah Porir Dwip island in Bangladesh and border guards pulled 13 survivors from the sea, but the fate of the others remains unknown.

Alif Jukhar, a Rohingya refugee who has long lived in Bangladesh, lost nine relatives in the disaster including his mother and father.

"Yesterday I spoke to my parents on the phone and they told me they they would arrive in Shah Porir Dwip tomorrow," he told AFP as he used his bare hands to bury their bodies.

Shortly afterwards, overcome with grief, he collapsed screaming in the middle of the cemetery.

More than half a million Rohingya have left Myanmar since militant raids on police posts on August 25 prompted a brutal military backlash against the Muslim minority that the United Nations has said could amount to ethnic cleansing.

Around 150 have drowned trying to make the journey in small and rickety fishing boats that coastguards say are woefully inadequate for the rough seas.

Survivor Sayed Hossain wept as he watched the body of his two-year-old son being taken away to the local cemetery for burial.

"We set off at around 6pm. We did not have any choice but to leave our village," he said, telling how the overloaded boat overturned when it hit a shoal and sank in rough water.

"They (security forces) have restricted our movements. Many are starving as we could not even go to shop or market to buy food," said the 30-year-old Rohingya farmhand, who lived in a village east of Myanmar's Buthidaung township.

Hossain's mother, his pregnant wife and two children were all still missing.

The International Organisation for Migration said some children on board had lost their entire families in the disaster and were now alone in a strange country.

Jashim Uddin, a teacher at the local madrassa, said he received a call from the coastguards at 5:00 am to tell him that bodies had been found on the beach. As tracking their relatives down is impossible, the victims are routinely taken to the madrassa to perform their last rites.

Late last month more than 60 refugees are feared to have died when the boat carrying them from Myanmar capsized in rough weather in the Bay of Bengal.

Villagers at Shah Porir Dwip where the boats mostly land told AFP the Rohingya were increasingly travelling at night to avoid strict border patrols in Bangladesh, making the journey even more dangerous. Last week the guards destroyed at least 30 wooden fishing vessels amid increased concern they were being used to bring the popular methamphetamine drug known locally as Yaba into the country and using the refugee crisis as cover. Gangs of boat owners, crew and fishermen have also been charging the fleeing Rohingya upwards of $250 for the two-hour journey that normally costs no more than $5.

The government of Buddhist-majority Myanmar refuses to recognise the Rohingya as a distinct ethnic group and considers them illegal migrants from Bangladesh.

While the worst of the violence appears to have abated, insecurity, food shortages and tensions with Buddhist neighbours are still driving thousands of Rohingya to make the arduous journey to Bangladesh.

Full report at:

http://nation.com.pk/international/10-Oct-2017/14-dead-as-rohingya-boat-sinks-off-bangladesh

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Bangladesh foreign minister: Dhaka won’t take suicidal steps in dealing with Rohingya crisis

October 09, 2017

Bangladesh Foreign Minister AH Mahmood Ali on Monday said Dhaka will not make any suicidal decisions, such as getting involved in a war with Myanmar, as it wants a peaceful solution to the Rohingya crisis through diplomatic efforts.

“Why should we get involved in war? We won’t do that. Why should we destroy our development? We want peace,” he told reporters after briefing diplomats at the state guesthouse in Padma in the afternoon.

He said Bangladesh is now a role model for the development for many countries in the world, including some developed ones.

The minister cited Iraq, Syria and Yemen as some examples of countries that have witnessed extensive destruction because of war.

Also Read- West edges towards punishing Myanmar army leaders over Rohingya crisis

“Why should we go to that direction? Why should we commit suicide? We won’t take any suicidal steps,” he said, as the top Bangladesh diplomat reiterated that there would be no fight with Myanmar.

The minister also invited all who wished to voice their opinions on the issue to take part in the discussion to be held at Bangladesh Institute of International and Strategic Studies (BIISS) on Tuesday morning.

“We’ll discuss openly. You all come and take part in the discussion,” he said, adding that the event will focus on Rohingya crisis.

Also Read- New surge of Rohingya flee Myanmar citing violence, hunger

Minister Ali said the entire international community is beside Bangladesh on the issue and all should be united on the mater.

He also expressed his displeasure over comments made by various quarters questioning the Foreign Ministry’s role.

“We’re looking for a peaceful solution to the Rohingya crisis through diplomatic efforts.”

State Minister for Foreign Affairs M Shahriar Alam and Foreign Secretary M Shahidul Haque were also present.

Full report at:

http://www.dhakatribune.com/bangladesh/foreign-affairs/2017/10/09/foreign-minister-suicidal-myanmar/

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Hekmatyar warns war will continue if necessary steps are not taken

Oct 09 2017

The leader of Hezb-e-Islami Gulbuddin Hekmatyar has warned that war and violence will continue in the country if necessary steps are not taken to bring the situation under the control.

Hekmatyar made the remarks during a meeting with the tribal elders of Koh-e-Safi district.

According to Hekmatyar, the violence and war will continue if the issues of migration and grabbing are not resolved and a national government is not established.

He also called on people to contribute in ending the ongoing situation in the country and help bring peace and stability.

The media office of the cultural department of Hezb-e-Islami in a statement said Hekmatyar also emphasized on proper utilization of the opportunities available in the elections.

Hekmatyar further added that the elections should be used as a platform for ending the violence in the country and only those should be elected in parliamentary elections who can serve the people in a proper way.

The leader of Hezb-e-Islami once again expressed concerns regarding certain circles who are trying to maintain the war in Afghanistan and are working for the interests of the outsiders.

He did not provide further information in this regard but said such circles have robbed and looted the government and work based on the instructions of the outsiders.

Full report at:

http://www.khaama.com/hekmatyar-warns-war-will-continue-if-necessary-steps-are-not-taken-03612

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Europe

 

Hate crimes targeting mosques, Muslims doubled in UK: Report

Oct 9, 2017

LONDON: Violence, assaults, arson and other hate crimes targeting mosques and Muslims more than doubled across the UK this year, a media report said today, quoting latest official figures.

Police forces recorded 110 hate crimes directed at Muslim places of worship between March and July, up from 47 over the same six month period in 2016, the Independent reported.

It said the crimes include racist abuse, threats to bomb mosques, attacks on mosques and worshippers, damage to vehicles outside mosques, graffiti daubed on buildings, arson attacks and physical assaults on Muslims arriving and leaving mosques.

Describing the figures as "deeply troubling", Britain's shadow home secretary Diane Abbott said attacks on any religious group or minority are abominable.

"We have seen a rise in anti-Muslim extremism and far-right activity online, with a very slow, dinosaur approach from social media companies to take off hate, and an utter denial for three or four years that this was their responsibility," said Fiyaz Mughal, Director of Faith Matters which works to increase community cohesion.

"They are now taking steps, but they are baby steps."

The latest data was obtained through Freedom of Information requests made to 45 UK police forces. The figures, based on 42 responses, showed that 25 forces saw an increase in hate crimes directed at mosques, the paper said.

The biggest increase was reported by Greater Manchester Police and the second largest increase was in London.

Threats, harassment and other intimidating behaviour outside mosques more than tripled across the country, from 14 crimes in 2016 to 49 in 2017, the paper said.

Violent crime against Muslims attending mosques more than doubled from five recorded crimes in 2016 to 11 crimes in 2017. Crimes recorded as vandalism or criminal damage increased from 12 in 2016 to 15 in 2017, it added.

A record number of anti-Semitic crimes were also reported in the UK in the first six months of this year, with 767 incidents recorded, according to the Community Security Trust.

A Home Office spokesman said: "All forms of hate crime are completely unacceptable and the UK has some of the strongest laws in the world to tackle it."

Communities secretary Sajid Javid announced a new fund of 375,000 pounds to encourage the reporting and funding of hate crime in January, in addition to the one million pound of support directed at young people as part of the Hate Crime Action Plan announced last summer.

A total of 55 places of worship applied for anti-hate crime funding since the Westminster terror attack, with almost half of applications coming from mosques.

The government announced an additional one million pound would be made available to provide private protection outside places of worship.

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/uk/hate-crimes-targeting-mosques-muslims-doubled-in-uk-report/articleshow/61009568.cms

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Britain 'firmly committed' to Iran nuclear deal, May tells Netanyahu

Oct 9, 2017

Prime Minister Theresa May has told Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that Britain remains “firmly committed” to the 2015 nuclear agreement with Iran.

In a telephone call on Monday, May and Netanyahu discussed security cooperation, bilateral trade, and the Iran nuclear deal, according to a statement issued by 10 Downing Street.

“They discussed Iran, with the Prime Minister noting the importance of the nuclear deal with Iran which has neutralized the possibility of the Iranians acquiring nuclear weapons for more than a decade,” the statement said.

The deal, known as Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), was struck in July 2015 between Iran and the P5+1 group-- the US, Britain, France, Russia and China plus Germany.  The two sides began implementing the accord in January the next year.

Netanyahu, whose regime is believed to possess the only nuclear arsenal in the Middle East, has repeatedly made unfounded accusations that Iran has been seeking to develop nuclear weapons. Tehran has strongly denied the allegations.

“The Prime Minister said the UK remains firmly committed to the deal and that we believe it is vitally important for regional security,” the statement said.

“The Prime Minister said it was important that the deal is carefully monitored and properly enforced, and that both sides deliver on their commitments,” the statement noted.

May’s remarks are also in contrary to the opinion of US President Donald Trump who has publicly criticized the nuclear agreement, calling it “one of the worst deals I've ever seen.”

According to reports, Trump is expected to “decertify” the 2015 nuclear agreement with Iran this week, while quietly encouraging Congress not to reimpose sanctions that could unravel the landmark deal.

Trump’s national security advisers have recommended he should not certify the nuclear deal, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), but keep the agreement intact for now.

Trump has until October 15 to decide whether to certify that Iran is in compliance with the accord, but he is reportedly going to announce his decision on October 12.

Under the deal, Washington agreed to waive nuclear-related sanctions in exchange for Tehran restricting its nuclear program. Trump’s senior advisers have been warning him that other signatories to the JCPOA, including European allies, were unlikely to reimpose their own sanctions if the US decided to withdraw from the deal.

A group of European ambassadors made a trip to Capitol Hill last week to make their case before the US Congress that the nuclear agreement should remain in place.

The ambassadors from the UK, EU, France and Germany met with at least 30 senators, warning that there is a "lot of misunderstanding" on Capitol Hill regarding the Iran deal.

They also noted that other signatories to the JCPOA - Russia and China in particular - have little appetite for reopening negotiations on the accord. Tehran has also repeatedly made clear it has no intention of renegotiating the terms of the deal.

Meanwhile, German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel on Sunday warned that "the world will change" if Trump decides to ditch the multilateral nuclear deal with Iran.

Full report at:

http://www.presstv.com/Detail/2017/10/09/538005/Britain-firmly-committed-to-Iran-nuclear-deal-May-Netanyahu

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Srebrenica's Muslim defender cleared of crimes, Serbs protest

OCTOBER 9, 2017

SARAJEVO (Reuters) - Naser Oric, the Bosnian Muslim commander who led the defense of Srebrenica during the 1992-95 war, was cleared of war crimes against Serbs on Monday, a ruling greeted by both celebration and condemnation in the divided state.

Bosnian Muslims, who largely see Oric as a hero, broke into applause as he and a fellow soldier left the courtroom free men. Cheering crowds massed around them outside.

Families of Bosnian Serbs killed in the war, who see Oric and his troops as criminals, walked out of the hearing in the Bosnian capital Sarajevo in protest.

“This is horrific, this is a scandal. Everybody expected that he will be punished. Is this a justice? I am speechless,” said Radojka Filipovic from Bratunac, near Srebrenica. She said Oric’s forces killed at least six of her relatives.

Milorad Dodik, the president of Bosnia’s autonomous Serb Republic, called on Serb lawyers to withdraw from the shared national legal system. The justice minister of neighboring Serbia, Nela Kuburovic, called the ruling “shameful”.

The case went to the heart of fractured Bosnia, haunted by ethnic divides and long-running grievances that have blocked its progress to joining the European Union and NATO.

Bosnia was hit by a devastating war in the 1990s after the Bosnian Serbs, helped by Serbia, tried to carve out a separate statelet following the break up of Yugoslavia.

Bosnian Serbs have accused Oric and his men of killing about 3,000 of their people in the Srebrenica area during the conflict.

Bosnian Muslims, or Bosniaks, hailed his role in defending Srebrenica, where Bosnian Serb forces later killed more than 8,000 Muslim men and boys - widely seen as Europe’s worst atrocity since World War Two.

After the war, the country was divided into two autonomous regions, the Serb Republic and the Bosniak-Croat Federation, linked via a weak central government.

SREBRENICA

“Serbs cannot accept this and this proves this country and its judiciary should not exist,” Serb Republic President Dodik said in the town of Banja Luka after the verdict. “I call on all Serbs in the court and prosecution to pull out from these institutions.”

Dodik has long disputed the authority of the national legal system, which he says was established on the order of Bosnia’s Western peace envoys, and has repeatedly threatened to secede if his region’s autonomy is undermined.

Dodik said the verdict would likely “revive the idea of holding a referendum on the state court” - the last attempt to hold a referendum on the status of the state court, in 2015, was halted amid Western warnings.

Bosnia’s three-man presidency chairman Dragan Covic, a Bosnian Croat, said negative rhetoric over the case could be a setback for Bosnia’s progress.

Oric was acquitted of war crimes against Serbs by the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) in 2008, but was arrested again in June 2015 in Switzerland on a warrant from Serbia accusing him of killing three Bosnian Serb prisoners of war early in the conflict.

“It was only just to acquit Oric of war crimes charges,” Hatidza Mehmedovic, a Bosnian Muslim who lost her husband and two sons in the Srebrenica massacre, told the Fena news agency. “It was a great injustice to drag him in courts from The Hague to here.” Oric did not speak to reporters outside the court.

Dozens of Bosnian Serbs, including senior political and military leaders, have been sentenced by the ICTY and a Bosnian war crimes court over the Srebrenica massacre, which was declared genocide by two international courts.

Millions of people were displaced and more than 100,000 died in the war.

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-spain-politics-catalonia/catalan-leader-under-pressure-to-drop-independence-idUSKBN1CE0R0

Islamic preacher slams Muslim parents for playing music to their children on the car radio on the way to the mosque - and for letting kids DANCE at home

An Islamic preacher from western Sydney has slammed Muslim parents for playing music to their children on the way to the mosque and allowing them to dance at home.

Sunni fundamentalist morals campaigner Nassim Abdi said it was wrong for parents to have the radio on as they drove to and from the mosque. 

'We have children who are drowning in the listening of music, day and night, to the extent where we have parents taking their children to learn the book of Allah, learning the Koran ... but on the way there, and on the way back, the children are in the car listening to music,' he said.

The Islamic teacher, who has previously criticised Muslim women for showing their ears and necks in public and plucking their eyebrows, also said it was wrong for parents to allow their children to listen to music at home.

'When they get home, the parents are listening to music,' he said.

'The parents encourage them to listen to music and to dance and to make videos and to make a joke out of it and to make fun out of it and to post it online.

'What is going to be bred into the heart of this child: the love of the Koran or the love of music?'

Mr Abdi hails from the hardline Ahlus Sunnah Wal Jamaah Association, an ultra-conservative Salafist form of Sunni Islam from Saudi Arabia.

His sermon, delivered at Auburn in Sydney's west, said parents were 'lacking Islamically' because they were unwittingly teaching their children to overlook Sharia law, a Muslim legal system.

Full report at:

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4964928/Muslim-preacher-slams-parents-letting-kids-hear-music.html

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India

 

Muslim League MP E T Muhammed Basheer’s Salafi Remarks Backfire

Oct 10, 2017

MALAPPURAM; The remarks made by Mr  E.T Muhammed Basheer,   IUML national organising secretary and MP from Ponnani,  on Salafism has drawn flak from a  section of  partymen, namely the E.K faction of Sunnis.   An article in its mouthpiece ‘Suprabhatham’ on Monday lambasted Mr Basheer without mentioning his name which was followed by a strong statement from the Samstha Kerala Jamiyathul Ulema (EK).   The article alleged that Mr Basheer’s remarks endorsing Salafism would lure Muslims to radical Salafism which had proved fatal in many parts of the world.

Mr Basheer had made the controversial remarks in a short video which was produced and released recently by Kerala Nadvathul Mujahideen, the Kerala- based Salafi organisation popularly called Mujahids, as part of the upcoming state conference which is slated to be held in Malappuram in December. In the video, Mr Basheer claimed that the Salafi organisation played a crucial role in spreading the message of puritan monotheism, which is considered to be the basis of Islamic belief. The term was widely used by the Salafi preachers to vilify Sunnis.

The remark has drawn much flak from the Sunni organisations under the Samastha and prompted them to come out openly against Mr. Basheer’s stand at a time when the state is witnessing the perils of this ideology which attracts youths to extremism.  Meanwhile,  Mr Basheer has distanced himself from the controversy preferring not to react. 

“There were so many arguments from them but I took a stand not to react. I don’t want to aggravate the issue at this point of time,” Mr Basheer told DC.    The feeling that Salafism thrived in Kerala under the wings of Muslim League is strong among both the EK and AP factions of Sunnis which have around 90 per cent of Muslim population in the state.  Mr Basheer’s earlier remarks praising Salafisms also have started doing the rounds in social media after the Samastha statement.  At the same time, a section in the IUML sees this as a pressure tactic of the Samastha when the Assembly by-election is set to be held in Vengara.

http://www.deccanchronicle.com/nation/in-other-news/101017/muslim-league-mp-e-t-muhammed-basheers-salafi-remarks-backfire.html

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Muslim panel to discuss Haj subsidy abolition

Oct 10, 2017

Mangaluru: Muslim leaders in Dakshina Kannada are yet to take a call on the proposed Haj Policy that recommends abolition of subsidy for Haj pilgrims.

Muslims, especially those in the Congress too, are not opposing the proposed policy since the concept of availing subsidy for Haj is considered unacceptable, according to Islam. The proposed Haj Policy 2018-22 by the panel headed by former secretary Afzal Amanullah recommends abolition of subsidy for Haj pilgrims.

Dakshina Kannada and Udupi District Muslim Central Committee vice-president Ibrahim Kodijal said the committee will be meeting within a day or two to discuss the proposed policy, which also recommends that the central government allow women devotees aged over 45 to travel in a group of at least four, without a male escort. "We read it in the newspapers and are yet to go through the details of the proposal. The Muslim Central Committee will meet soon to discuss the proposal," said Ibrahim, who is also former in-charge president of Dakshina Kannada District Congress Committee.

Meanwhile, senior Congress leader and district minister B Ramanath Rai said that stopping a privilege that the central government had extended for years, is not correct. "Personally, I believe that it is not fair to stop subsidy for Haj, which was extended for Muslim pilgrims for several years. The Congress will take a decision in this regard through our Minority Cell. The cell will hold a meeting soon and decide on the future course of action," he added.

Congress leader and Mangaluru City Corporation corporator Abdul Rouf told TOI that performing Haj is one of the five pillars of Islam and should be done by a Muslim on his/her own. "No Muslim depends completely on the subsidy the government extends. As per Islam, one should follow faith, prayer, charity, fasting and Haj compulsorily. Only those who have health and wealth should perform Haj, as per Islam. However, since subsidy has become a tradition in the country, they may continue it," he added.

Meanwhile, BJP Minority Morcha state vice-president Rahim Uchil said, "It is mandatory as per Islam that no Muslim should perform Haj by taking money from others, and nor are they to avail of a loan for the purpose. Only those who earn money through hard work should spend it on performing Haj. Haj is the fifth pillar of Islam and it is not right to perform Haj on a subsidy from the government."

Full report at:

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/mangaluru/muslim-panel-to-discuss-haj-subsidy-abolition/articleshow/61011112.cms

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LeT ‘bomb-maker’ Tunda held guilty for 1996 Sonipat blasts

Manvir Saini

Oct 10, 2017

CHANDIGARH: Syed Abdul Karim Tunda, an alleged bomb-maker of terror outfit Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), who has been named in 40 related terror cases in the country, was on Monday convicted of triggering two bomb blasts in Sonipat more than 20 years ago.

On December 28, 1996 the blasts had gone off - one in the market area not far from the Sonipat bus stand and another near a cinema in which 12 people were injured, seven of them seriously. However, all the victims had survived. This was followed by blasts in Rohtak and Panipat soon after.

During the hearing on Monday, additional district and sessions judge Sushil Garg convicted Tunda on charges of attempt to murder, criminal conspiracy and under sections the Explosive Act for the Sonipat blasts. The quantum will be announced on Tuesday.

Initially, the police had arrested two persons, Shakeel Ahmed of Pilkhua in Uttar Pardesh and Mohammad Amir Khan of New Delhi, in the case. In their interrogation, both the accused confessed to their involvement in the case. According to Haryana police officials Amir had revealed that he had met Tunda in Pakistan and travelled with him to Bangladesh and other places to learn the skills needed to plant bombs.

Both Shakeel and Amir were acquitted by the court in 2002 and 2006. Meanwhile, in 1998, Tunda, a resident of Pilkhua was declared a proclaimed offender. The file was reopened in August 2013 after the special cell of Delhi police arrested Tunda in cases registered against him at Sonipat, Panipat and Rohtak. His trial in Panipat and Rohtak will continue. Sources told TOI that soon after arguments concluded on Monday, Tunda reiterated that on the day of the blasts he was in Pakistan and that he had nothing to do with the attack. The defense counsel too pleaded innocence of his client. Tunda, who comes from Pilkhua village of western UP, was a homeopath practitioner.

Full report at:

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/let-bomb-maker-tunda-held-guilty-for-1996-sonipat-blasts/articleshow/61013558.cms

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Top Jaish commander among 4 terrorists killed in J&K

Oct 9, 2017

SRINAGAR: In a double breakthrough, security forces killed three top Hizbul Mujahideen terrorists, including its chief recruiter Zahid, in an encounter in Shopian and a top Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) terrorist in the Baramulla district of Jammu and Kashmir today, police said.

The slain JeM terrorist is believed to be the mastermind of the recent attack on a BSF camp near the airport here, they said.

Security forces launched a cordon and search operation in the Ladoora area of Baramulla district following information about the presence of terrorists, an official said.

The operation turned into a gunbattle when a search party was fired upon, he added. In the retaliatory action, one terrorist - identified as Khalid alias Shahid Showkat of the JeM - was killed, he said.

The slain terrorist was the mastermind of 'fidayeen' (suicide) attacks on the BSF camp near the Srinagar Airport earlier this month and on the district police lines in Pulwama last month, a police spokesman said.

"He was also involved in a fidayeen attack on 46 RR Army Camp at Khajabagh, Baramulla in 2016," he said.

Khalid was constantly exploring the opportunities to attack security forces and establishments, the spokesman said adding that the slain militant would incite young boys to join his outfit to carry out grenade attacks on behalf of Pakistan-based commanders for monetary benefits.

"He was involved in the recent attack on an SPO named Altaf Ahmad Khan at Hajin Handwara in which the SPO along with his son were seriously injured. He was also involved in the killing of tower guard Eidul Amin Mir at Behrampora, Sopore," the spokesman said.

The JeM terrorist was involved in three other killings as well, he added.

Meanwhile, three Hizbul Mujahideen terrorists were killed in a separate gunbattle with the security forces in the Keller area of Shopian district, police said.

Full report at:

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/top-jaish-commander-among-4-terrorists-killed-in-jk/articleshow/61010884.cms

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Jan Raksha Yatra: Malabar rebellion first jihadi massacre, says Kerala BJP chief

by Shaju Philip

October 10, 2017

As the BJP’s Jan Raksha Yatra entered Muslim-dominated Malappuram district on Monday, the party’s state president, Kummanam Rajasekharan, said the Malabar rebellion of 1921 was the first jihadi massacre in Kerala.

Rajasekharan, who is leading the yatra, said that depicting unprovoked massacre of Hindus as part of the independence struggle is an insult to history as well as the majority community in the state.

The BJP leader said, “If it were an agitation against British rule, why were thousands of people butchered and temples destroyed? It high time we stopped glorifying this massacre depicting it as freedom struggle. If anyone is given pension on behalf of this rebellion, it should be given to those who had to flee their homes during the riot and the dependents of the victims of the jihadi massacre.”

He said mainstream political parties should desist from the move to celebrate the centenary of the rebellion.

Full report at:

http://indianexpress.com/article/india/bjp-jan-raksha-yatra-muslim-malappuram-malabar-rebellion-kerala-pinarayi-vijayan-amit-shah-4882630/

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Pakistan

 

Pakistan Nabs Suspect Distributing Pamphlets Allegedly Linked to Hizb-ut-Tahrir

Madeeha Anwar

October 09, 2017

Authorities in Pakistan say a terror suspect is in custody on charges of distributing pamphlets on behalf of banned Islamic extremist group Hizb-ut-Tahrir, or HuT, and that a case has been opened against him under anti-terrorism laws. VOA could not independently verify the authenticity of the pamphlets.

According to officials, the man was one of five people seen circulating the pamphlets outside a busy mosque in Islamabad after Friday prayers last week. The leaflets read, "Get rid of this weak leadership which seeks honor in subservience to and alliance with America." The other four men fled when security personnel arrived, authorities said.

"The government is vigilant and there have been instances in the past where HuT's members were taken into custody by the security authorities," Rasul Baksh Rais, a political analyst from Pakistan, told VOA.

Hizb-ut-Tahrir, which translates to the "party of liberation," is an international political organization created six decades ago with a charter to re-establish a caliphate across the Islamic world through a bloodless revolution.

The organization has a global and prominent existence in the European, Middle Eastern and Central Asia region. The group operates freely in many Western countries where free speech laws provide them protection.

In Pakistan, the group has been active since the '90s, and tried to propagate its message of bringing an Islamic revolution through Sharia, or Islamic law.

The government placed a ban on Hizb-ut-Tahrir in 2004, but it has been operating as an underground movement since then. Pakistan considers members of the proscribed outfit as terrorists, although their non-violent ideology makes them unique from other militant groups active in the country.

Hizb-ut-Tahrir works in complete secrecy and it is hard to assume or estimate the number of members linked to the terror group, but analysts say they have a clear policy of targeting the highly skilled and qualified youth belonging to well-to-do families to form a caliphate in the country.

"I believe HuT has a relatively small presence in Pakistan, but they are certainly targeting the educated youth," Rais said. "Hizb-ut-Tahrir doesn't believe in any constitution or government other than the caliphate. In a way, HuT's ideology is not different than the Islamic State's ideology and their pattern of targeting youth is similar to the IS as well."

In 2016, Islamabad police arrested a software engineer as he was distributing HuT's pamphlets in one of the busiest markets after Friday prayers.

In 2011, a military court convicted five high-ranking officers, including four majors and a brigadier, after establishing their sympathies and allegiance to HuT.

Pressure on Pakistan

In the past few years, Pakistan has faced mounting pressure from the international community for not being able to crush the militant groups active in the country.

Last month, the economic bloc known as BRICS, which comprises Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, expressed concern over Pakistan-based militant groups, including Hizb-ut-Tahrir, citing them as a threat to the region.

"We, in this regard, express concern on the security situation in the region and violence caused by the Taliban, ISIL/DAISH, Al-Qaida and its affiliates, including Eastern Turkistan Islamic Movement, Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, the Haqqani network, Lashkar-e-Taiba, Jaish-e-Mohammad, TTP and Hizb-ut-Tahrir," said a joint statement released after the BRICS annual summit, which was held in China.

Back in August, while outlining his South Asia policy, U.S. President Donald Trump criticized Pakistan for allegedly harboring terrorists and said Pakistan has havens for militant groups which plan attacks on Afghan and NATO forces in Afghanistan.

Pakistan denies the allegations and says it has a zero-tolerance policy toward extremist and militant groups. Pakistan maintains it has cracked down on all the terrorist groups, regardless of their ideologies, affiliations and allegiances.

https://www.voanews.com/a/pakistan-suspect-pamphlets-hizb-ut-tahrir/4062912.html

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3 Hazaras among 5 shot dead on Quetta's Kasi road

Syed Ali Shah

October 09, 2017

At least three members of the ethnic Hazara community and two other Shias were killed, while one other was seriously injured on Quetta's Kasi road on Monday morning as unidentified armed men opened fire at their vehicle, police said.

According to the police, armed motorcyclists sprayed bullets at the vehicle and fled the scene unhurt.

Police reached the spot and started an investigation into the incident.

The Hazara community staged a protest at Alamdar road and demanded protection while chanting slogans against the government and the law enforcement agencies.

The protesters dispersed after Balochistan Home Minister Sarfaraz Bugti visited them and promised them the government's support.

Balochistan has been experiencing incidents of violence and targeted killings since more than a decade. More than 1,400 incidents targeting the minority Shia and Hazara community have taken place in the province during the past 15 years.

Full report at:

https://www.dawn.com/news/1362674/3-hazaras-among-5-shot-dead-on-quettas-kasi-road

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Clear Signs of De Facto Martial Law in Pakistan

09/10/2017  

As a country where military dictators have ruled overtly for 36 of the 70 years of independence, while virtually none of the 17 prime ministers have completed a full term, Pakistan is no stranger to military spokespersons holding press conferences. The October 5 presser by Major General Asif Ghafoor, the director general of Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), however, was exceptionally brazen not just for its tone and tenor but also because of the scope of issues discussed.

If there was any doubt before about the army being the actual ruler of the country, the army spokesperson took even that fig leaf off himself.

A bunch of docile reporters lobbed one softball question after another, as if on cue, and the director general of the ISPR fielded it with an unabashed disregard for what is or isn’t the military’s domain. Curiously, the media persons had their questions neatly and conveniently pooled under four broad categories: Pakistan’s political, economic, diplomatic and security state of affairs. It might have been a coincidence but the way General Ghafoor had to say that a particular bunch of questions are political or economic, smacked of some backroom or spur-of-the-moment collating. The whole talk came across as a colonial governor general setting the agenda for his dominion or more recently the late chief martial law administrator General Zia-ul-Haq’s information secretary Lt. General Mujeeb-ur-Rehman listing the dos and don’ts for the media.

Clearly, the director general of ISPR was telling the domestic audience that the army is in charge. But he also appeared to be sending a message abroad that, notwithstanding his lip service to the military being constitutionally under the command and control of the civilian government, they are the ones calling the shots on both domestic and foreign policy fronts. For all practical purposes, it was an announcement that a de facto martial law is in place and the Pakistani civilian leadership has no control over the country’s domestic and foreign policies. What started with tripping the post-2008 democratic setup every step of the way, tacitly egging on judiciary to dismiss two duly elected prime ministers, coercing parliament to allow a parallel judicial system in the form of military courts, has culminated in the praetorian guards’ complete chokehold on all issues, whether they are security-related or not.

Condoning of religious vigilantism

It was disconcerting to see General Ghafoor comment on Pakistan’s economy that “if it isn’t terrible, it isn’t good either” or him not interrupting the reporters who insisted on derogating the former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif by calling him a “na-ahel wazir-e-azam (disqualified or incompetent PM)”. The most shocking part of the whole charade, however, was when the director general of ISPR took it upon himself to delve into complex religious doctrinal issues.

When asked about a recent change and repeal in an electoral law pertaining to affirmation of the finality of the Prophet Muhammad, instead of deferring the matter to the parliament where it was being discussed, he said: “Neither the armed forces have compromised on Namoos-e-Risalat (dignity of the Prophethood) (SAW), nor would they compromise on it in future [sic]”.

He added that the military and the Muslim Pakistanis are ready to die for the sake of Namoos-e-Risalat. In a country where blasphemy allegations have led to murder of even a sitting governor of the country’s most populous province Punjab, General Ghafoor’s comment was nothing short of legitimising the weaponised anti-blasphemy laws and a tacit condoning of religious vigilantism.

It also indicates that a supposedly professional army is willing to deploy religious dogma as a lethal weapon against its political opponents. The comment had come a day after some politicians considered close to the military smeared the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PMLN) for trying to remove the said clause from the election laws.

Support for jihadist outfits

Earlier this year the military is said to have abducted five bloggers running websites critical of the army and charged them with blasphemy. These bloggers were critical not just of the military but also the jihadist outfits it has sired. Ominously, he acknowledged on the record that a process is underway in Pakistan through which the jihadist outfits Jamat-ud-Dawa (JuD) et al are being formally inducted into the political process. Though he claimed that the (political) government was overseeing that process, the fact the JuD’s political front the Milli Muslim League was launched against the ruling party’s candidate and the former first lady, Begum Kulsoom Nawaz Sharif, in a recent by-election, strongly indicates that it is not the current government’s project and the so-called mainstreaming of militants was pushed by the army.

What General Ghafoor’s remarks show clearly is that military is jihadised at the highest level, it has consistently used the street agitation by its religio-political quisling to pressurise successive elected governments over matters ranging from alliance with the US or peace overtures to India and is willing to use the blasphemy smear to stifle dissent.

Days earlier, the army’s paramilitary wing, the Pakistan Rangers, had stopped sitting government ministers from entering a court where Nawaz was to appear. The Rangers, de jure, are the interior ministry’s troops but ended up stopping the federal interior minister professor Ahsan Iqbal as well. When the melee resolved, it appeared the interior ministry or local commissioner had not requisitioned the Rangers’s presence for that particular day.

The interior minister went on to decry that the brigadier in-charge of the troops had gone into hiding and was not taking his calls and he would rather resign his ministry than tolerate a state within the state. Undercutting the interior minister, General Ghafoor complimented the soldiers who stopped him and came up with a bogus excuse that the troops could move without being specifically ordered to do so in every instance. Ironically, he stated that the Rangers, constitutionally, are the interior ministry’s troops but still did not refer the question to the said ministry. He took it upon himself to rationalise the unauthorised action of the paramilitary against their duly elected and appointed civilian boss. A day prior to the presser, the Rangers posted to guard the Pakistani parliament were mysteriously withdrawn from their picket as if to rub it in that army can and will get away with any excesses.

General Bajwa’s visit to Kabul

General Ghafoor dwelled quite a bit on the Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa’s recent visit to Kabul where he met with the Afghan President Ashraf Ghani ostensibly to break the stalemate in the bilateral relations. General Ghafoor mentioned a host of topics that the COAS discussed with the Afghan leadership.

Interestingly, the army chief had neither consulted with the National Security Committee of the Cabinet, headed by Prime Minister Khaqan Abbasi, nor bothered to take along an elected civilian official – including the minister of defence – on his dash to Kabul in which he promised, as per General Ghafoor, the sun and moon of defence cooperation to the Afghans. The Director General of the Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate Lt. General Naveed Mukhtar and career diplomats flanked the army chief in Kabul. An utter disregard for the norms of statecraft and diplomacy is not new for the Pakistan army and is its way of declaring to the neighbouring countries that they are the powers that be and no diplomatic breakthrough can be achieved over their heads. More importantly, it signals to the elected government that the Afghan and India policy remain an absolute no-go area for them.

In the aftermath of the COAS Bajwa’s Kabul visit and the Rangers fiasco, the Pakistan army’s corps commanders had convened a conference but curiously did not issue an official press release immediately afterwards. When asked about it, the director general of ISPR, like a B-grade novelist, pronounced that “(their) silence is also an expression”. He went on to proclaim that “saying that there is going be a martial law should not even be talked about. We are busy in doing our duty as stated in the constitution.” The irony was perhaps lost on General Ghafoor that usurping the foreign policy, trampling upon the domestic policy by flouting the federal interior minister, bypassing the prime minister, using highly-charged religious matters to settle scores with dissenters and politicians, passing adverse remarks about the country’s economy, harassing and abducting the dissenters and running a clandestine dirty war in Balochistan is anything but constitutional. If it is run a like a martial law, spoken for like a martial law and is as pervasive as a martial law, it is a martial law, whether or not a takeover at gunpoint has taken place.

And frankly, when the army can have its cake and eat it too, it would be foolish to impose an overt military dictatorship. It has successfully dislodged the country’s foremost politician in a bloodless judicial coup, has muzzled the media and manufactured consent and co-opted opposition politicians, so why would it need to go the whole hog. The answer would depend upon the extent to which the ousted Nawaz is willing to go to undo his disqualification and make a comeback.

History of military rule

The army’s current quest is to regain the space it lost after General Pervez Musharraf was eased out of presidency which he has usurped. Generally, clear-cut political victories or convincing military defeats cut the adventurist armies and their ambitions to size. In Pakistan’s case, the first military ruler General Ayub Khan had massive protests against him but was not exactly toppled. When he handed the baton to General Yahya Khan, The Economist, London, cheekily titled its March 29, 1969 editorial ‘Tweedle Khan takes over’. The 1971 defeat of the army and the independence of Bangladesh buoyed the civilian fortunes in Pakistan and Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto consolidated his position vis-à-vis the army and removed the army chief. However, Bhutto revived the military’s fortunes through his own unbridled jingoism and deployment of the army to crush the secular Baloch movement for autonomy. And when Bhutto ended up in a deadlock with the opposition, the COAS Zia wasted no time in toppling and then hanging Bhutto on cooked-up murder charges.

While there was a consistent and rather robust pro-democracy movement against Zia’s dictatorship, it never did succeed in forcing him to relinquish power. An act of god or man took Zia in the clear blue skies, and eventually elections were held three months after his death. What followed was a quasi-democratic dispensation in which, to paraphrase the late PM Bhutto, the civilians were given the government but never the power to rule.

The army maintained an unconstitutional tutelary role and the civilians fell afoul whenever they attempted to question or challenge it. In the 11 years that ensued Zia’s death, military kept encroaching on the civilian space and eventually General Musharraf and his coterie launched an overt coup d’état in 1999. As Samuel Finer has discussed in The Man on Horseback: The Role of the Military in Politics, a military putsch is generally function of and an interplay between an army’s disposition to intervene vis-à-vis the opportunity existing on the ground for such intervention. Pakistan’s history has shown that its army has always maintained a relentless disposition and readiness to intervene. It has capitalised on opportunity when one popped up or manufactured one if there was none on the ground.

All militaries are, however, uniquely ill-trained professionally and psychologically to rule the complex civilian societies, multi-ethnic states and modern governments and invariably fall back on collaborating and coopted civilians. We saw that in Pakistan in every single dictators’ case. After an initial rule purely by the junta, Ayub, Yahya, Zia and Musharraf all eventually brought in a coterie of pliant civilians to run the government. Discussing this design flaw in the militaries world over, Finer points out that “politically the armed forces suffer from two crippling weaknesses, which preclude them, save in exceptional cases and for brief periods of time, from running without civilian collaboration and openly in their own name … once weakness is the armed forces’ technical inability to administer any but the most primitive community. The second is their lack of legitimacy: that is to say their lack of moral title to rule”. Again, every single Pakistani dictator resorted to coercing and coopting superior judiciary and some mutation of a parliament to condone his rule.

The showdown between Nawaz and the army, with the latter attempting to clip the former’s political wings permanently, has come to a head. Whether the undeclared martial law will morph into a manifest military rule seems less likely at this stage. Army’s preference would be to keep Nawaz out of the parliament and, possibly politics, with the courts and several opposition politicians closing rank with the brass. If they are able to contain Nawaz and possibly even carve a chunk out of his PMLN party, the army would prefer to maintain the status quo where it rules through informal diktat.

Full report at:

https://thewire.in/185673/clear-signs-de-facto-martial-law-pakistan/

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Pakistan attempts to restart Afghan peace process

Anwar Iqbal

October 10, 2017

WASHINGTON: Pakistan is trying to restart the quadrilateral peace process for ending the Afghan war and has asked the group members to meet in Muscat, Oman, on Oct 16.

Afghanistan, the United States, China and Pakistan are members of the group.

Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif told VOA Urdu in Washington last week that Pakistan would play a leading role in this quadrilateral session, aimed at bringing the Afghan Taliban to the negotiating table.

The Quadrilateral Cooperation Group first met in January 2016 and has had five sessions so far, the last being held in May 2016 in Murree.

The process was plagued by problems from the beginning. First the Taliban refused to join it unless given the same status as the Afghan government. When they were persuaded to attend, relations between Kabul and Islamabad strained.

The first four meetings, however, did show some progress. China’s participation was particularly encouraging as both Pakistan and Afghanistan set aside their acrimony to welcome China. Pakistan hoped that China’s involvement would answer its main concern, India’s growing influence in Afghanistan. The Afghan government hoped that China’s clout with Pakistan could have helped persuade Islamabad to improve its ties with Kabul.

The international community too welcomed the quadrilateral talks because all four countries are seen as crucial to ensuring the success of any peace talks on Afghanistan.

But during the fifth session, some officials in Kabul leaked news to the media saying that the reclusive Taliban leader Mullah Omar had died in Karachi in 2013 but Pakistan was hiding this news because it feared losing its influence on the Taliban.

The revelation derailed the talks as officials from each of the four governments opted to return to their capitals for consultations. On May 21, 2016, Mullah Omar’s successor, Mullah Mansour was also killed in a US drone strike in Balochistan, which further delayed the peace process.

Since then, Pakistan has made several attempts to restart the talks but none of the four parties seemed very keen on returning to negotiations.

In Afghanistan, the Taliban increased their attacks on both US and Afghan government targets. And in the United States, the new Trump administration concluded that the best way is to force the Taliban to talk.

At a recent news briefing in Washington, US State Department’s spokesperson Heather Nauert expressed doubts about the success of these peace efforts when she questioned the efficacy of the Taliban’s non-official diplomatic post in Qatar.

“We’ve been now in that war for 16 years” but “they have not been able to come to any kind of peace and reconciliation, so just by having folks sit around in Qatar, in probably a pretty cushy life there, has not demonstrated, has not brought to the table any kind of significant peace efforts,” she said.

And during his three-day visit to Washington last week, the Pakistani foreign minister acknowledged that Pakistan too was losing its influence on the Taliban.

“At least for our influence on Taliban today, there is mistrust,” Mr Asif told VOA Urdu, adding that he believes Russia “today has more influence on the Taliban than Pakistan does”.

Despite these concerns, all four members of this group want some peace in Afghanistan and are likely to participate in the Muscat meeting.

Full report at:

https://www.dawn.com/news/1362834/pakistan-attempts-to-restart-afghan-peace-process

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‘Pakistan has offered US joint action against Haqqani network’

10-Oct-17

LAHORE: Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif on Monday said that Pakistan had offered the United States a joint operation against the Haqqani network.

“Islamabad has offered US authorities to visit Pakistan with details of the Haqqani network’s safe havens in the country. If they found any activities in the targeted areas, our forces along with the US would destroy them once and for all,” Asif said while in a talk show.

The foreign minister, who recently went to Washington on an official visit and met the top Trump administration, went on to say that Afghan President Ashraf Ghani was also offered the same option during the meeting with Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa in Kabul.

Full report at:

http://dailytimes.com.pk/pakistan/10-Oct-17/pakistan-has-offered-us-joint-action-against-haqqani-network

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MQM, PSP delegations assure support to Shia leader

October 10, 2017

KARACHI - Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P) delegation, led by MNA Ali Raza Abidi and Pak Sarzameen Party (PSP) delegation, led by Mohammad Raza and Syed Qamar, called on Allama Hassan  Zafar Naqvi at the Baghdadi police station on Monday to express solidarity with the Jail Bharo Tehreek.

Allama Syed Hassan Zafar had volunteered himself for arrest in protest against the illegal detention of many Shia Muslims across Pakistan. MQM and PSP delegations, in their separate meetings, assured their all-out support to Naqvi, and said they opposed violation of fundamental human rights. They said they supported Naqvi and all those who were offering their arrests to demand immediate release of illegally detained Shias.

They lamented that enforced disappearances of Shia citizens had made lives of their families miserable because they were dependents on them.

They urged that those members of the community, who had been picked up by the authorities, should be produced in courts for trial or they must be released without any delay.

Full report at:

http://nation.com.pk/karachi/10-Oct-2017/mqm-psp-delegations-assure-support-to-shia-leader

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US and India have joined hands to make CPEC controversial, claims Maulana Fazal

Oct 09 2017

A prominent Pakistani religious and political figure Maulana Fazal-ur-Rehman has claimed that the United States and India have joined hands to make the major economic corridor between Pakistan and China, the Pakistan-China Economic Corridor (CPEC) project controversial.

Speaking during a gathering on Sunday, Maulana Fazal claimed that  some senior officials of the US administration had threatened Pakistan with dire consequences, according to the local media reports.

This comes as the US Secretary of Defense James Mattis informed regarding Washington’s opposition regarding the Pakistan and China Economic Corridor (CPEC) as he was speaking to the US congress last week.

“The One Belt, One Road also goes through disputed territory, and I think that in itself shows the vulnerability of trying to establish that sort of a dictate,” Secretary Mattis said.

Mattis has said the US opposed the One Belt, One Road policy in principle because in a globalised world, there were many belts and many roads, and no one nation shou­­ld put itself into a position of dictating One Belt, One Road.

Secretary Mattis further added the US opposed the one going through Pakistan also because it passed throu­­gh a disputed territory.

Full report at:

http://www.khaama.com/us-and-india-have-joined-hands-to-make-cpec-controversial-claims-maulana-fazal-03610

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Southeast Asia

 

Shariah law on ‘credentials’ allows govt to suppress topics on Islam

Melissa Darlyne Chow

October 9, 2017

KUALA LUMPUR: A law that requires speakers to apply for credentials from religious authorities allows the government to restrict any discussion dealing with the topic of Islam, and therefore restricts freedom of expression, says Universiti Malaya Academic Association chairman Azmi Sharom.

“The language is very broad,” he said referring to Section 11 of the Shariah Criminal Offences (Federal Territories) Act 1997. “It gives government agencies broad powers to control discussion on anything relating to Islam.

“This can only be a hindrance to any intellectual discourse. It is an affront to academic freedom and an affront to freedom of expression,” Azmi told a press conference today to show solidarity to Islamic Renaissance Front (IRF) director, Dr Ahmad Farouk Musa who is facing a charge of violating the same law.

The section states that it is an offence for any person who teaches or professes to teach any matter relating to the religion of Islam without a tauliah (accreditation).

Azmi said the word “teaching” in the section, and the part stating that “any matter relating to the religion of Islam”, were not clearly defined.

“What is teaching? It is not defined. Is discussion teaching? Not defined. What do you mean by ‘any matter relating to the religion of Islam’?

“For example, if you are a teacher in a law faculty and teaching Islamic law, does that mean you cannot do that without proper credentials?“ he asked.

Azmi said that accreditation is granted by a religious teaching supervisory committee under Section 96 of the Administration of Islamic Law (Federal Territories) Act 1993.

The committee, which is appointed by the Federal Territories Islamic Religious Council, consists of a chairman and at least three persons with appropriate experience, knowledge and expertise.

It is empowered to grant accreditation for the purpose of teaching on any aspect of Islam and to withdraw such accreditation.

“The requirements and other matters relating to the granting of accreditation are totally at their discretion, and who they exempt from accreditation,” he said.

The Federal Territory Islamic Department (Jawi) recently summoned Turkish scholar Mustafa Akyol for questioning for allegedly “teaching Islam without credentials”.

Akyol was on the final day of his Malaysian lecture tour organised by IRF, when he was arrested on Sept 25 at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport and questioned by Jawi.

Farouk was also questioned for allegedly abetting Akyol.

Farouk, who is represented by lawyer Rosli Dahlan, is due to appear at the Shariah Court on Dec 4. He plans to apply for a judicial review to challenge the Jawi summons as well as the government’s ban on his publications.

http://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/nation/2017/10/09/shariah-law-on-credentials-allows-govt-to-suppress-topics-on-islam/

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Malaysian Home Ministry Gazettes Prohibition Order on 22 Publications

October 10, 2017

PUTRAJAYA, Oct 10 ― The Home Ministry (KDN) has gazetted a prohibition order on 22 publications, effective September 28 and October 3.

The ministry’s chief secretary, Datuk Seri Alwi Ibrahim said among the publications were 10 translations of the Quran in Malay, English, Chinese and Korean languages as they were printed without the original verses in Arabic.

“Translation of the Quran into other languages must be done with the original verses in Arabic, failing which; the translation might not be accurate. The translation needs to be done, according to the Arabic method which has certain rules,” he said in a statement here yesterday.

Also included in the ban are five publications for promoting liberalism ideology, defaming Islam and for clearly deviating from the true teachings of Islam.

The publications are titled, Islam Tanpa Keestreman: Berhujah Untuk Kebebasan, Islam Without Extremes: A Muslim Case For Liberty, Wacana Pemikiran Reformis (Volumes I and II), and Ulama Yang Bukan Pewaris Nabi.

Alwi said two books titled, Islam dan Iman: Aturan-Aturan Pokok, and Islam Kemodernan Dan Keindonesiaan were also banned because they were found to contain elements  that were confusing and contradictory to the Islamic syariah.

Two other books titled, Sekitar Masalah Tariqat (naqsyabandiyah), and Meniti Jalan Hidayah: Menuju Toriqah Khotmul-Auliya, were banned  for containing facts that were confusing and contradictory to the teachings of Islam, according to the Sunnah Wal Jamaah Sect.

Other publications included in the ban are Tantra: The Search For Ecstasy;  Aku ___, Maka Aku Ada!; and Sapuman: Man of Steel.

Alwi said overall, all the publications were seen to be detrimental to, or misleading the readers, especially the younger generation, and not suitable as general reading material.

“The contents of these publications are capable of confusing the public, going against the law, and detrimental to public morality,” he added.

Any individual who prints, imports, produces, reproduces, publishes, sells, circulates, offers to sell, distributes or has a banned publication is committing an offence under Section 8 (2) of the Printing Presses and Publications Act 1984.

If convicted, they can be jailed for not more than three years or fined not more than RM20,000, or both.

Full report at:

http://www.themalaymailonline.com/malaysia/article/home-ministry-gazettes-prohibition-order-on-22-publications#zgM8ZtRUOS2dKWZI.97

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New York terrorist plot suspect a surgeon from Philippines Isis hotbed

9 October 2017

A Filipino citizen accused of funding the foiled terror plot in New York is an orthopaedic surgeon previously based in Marawi City in the Philippines, where armed groups linked with Islamic State have staged a bloody battle for more than four months.

Suspect Russell Salic is highly educated and well-connected. The mayor of Marawi City, Majul Gandamra, said he used to have links to the Amai Pakpak medical center, one of the most advanced hospitals in a region known for its poverty. The hospital was among the first facilities attacked by Isis-linked groups when the conflict erupted on 23 May.

The US government has accused Salic of sending $423 to fund a foiled jihadist plot to attack targets in New York, including concert venues, subway stations and Times Square. A Philippines government investigator, lawyer Abdul Jamal Dimaporo of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), said Salic admitted sending the money but claimed it was for charity and did not know it was used to purchase bomb materials.

Philippine authorities have also charged Salic with involvement in the kidnapping and beheading last year of sawmill workers near Marawi by the terrorist group behind the siege of the city. He denies the charges and that trial is ongoing.

Gandamra said he issued Salic with a certificate of good moral character this year. “His sister went to my office to secure a certification for purposes of a clearance for good behaviour. He used to work with my wife. She was also a doctor in Amai Pakpak,” said Gandamra.

Later, Salic surrendered to Philippine authorities amid a crackdown on suspected extremists in Marawi. The mayor said he was surprised to learn about his alleged links to radical extremists.

The latest revelations underscore the role of Marawi and the Philippines in supporting the operations of Isis, particularly via privileged personalities in local communities that have been shown to be susceptible to radicalisation. The Maute terrorist group is led by one of the area’s affluent and politically connected families and is responsible for the situation in Marawi. Their friends did not suspect their links with extremists until authorities exposed them.

One of Salic’s co-defendants in the New York plot, Abdulrahman El Bahnasawy, was arrested after travelling from Canada in May 2016 to carry out the attacks. He pleaded guilty in October that year but the case was sealed while the investigation continued.

According to criminal complaints, Bahnasawy, 19, told an undercover FBI agent “[t]hese Americans need an attack”, and that he wanted to “create the next 9/11”. He sent the agent an image of Times Square and said: “We seriously need to car-bomb Times Square. Look at these crowds of people!”

In another message, he said he wanted to “shoot up concerts cuz they kill a lot people … We just walk in with guns in our hands. That’s how Paris guys did it,” the papers said in an apparent reference to the 2015 attack on the Bataclan concert hall in the French capital that killed 89 people.

A third suspect, Talha Haroon, was arrested in Pakistan and is awaiting extradition to the US. A US Department of Justice statement said: “Communicating through internet messaging applications, these three men allegedly plotted to conduct bombings and shootings in heavily populated areas of New York City during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan in 2016, all in the name of Isis.”

General Eduardo Año, chief of the Philippines armed forces, alleges Salic has been providing funds to suspected terrorists from 2014 to 2016.

“He was involved in terror activities by providing funds and donations to suspected terrorists in the Middle East, US, and Malaysia from 2014 to 2016. He has been under watch and surveillance for his suspicious activities in coordination with allied foreign intelligence agencies,” Año said.

The military chief said Salic sent the money to a suspected bomb maker in the US, an American citizen living in Ohio. “All along he has been very much aware that he was in the network of providing funds to extremists,” claimed Año.

Dimaporo said Salic denied involvement with Isis and would seek to clear his name.

Full report at:

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/oct/09/new-york-terror-plot-suspect-philippines-surgeon-isis-marawi

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Does Zahid understand scholarly research, asks academic

Oct 10, 2017

PETALING JAYA: A university professor has asked if the deputy prime minister understands the function of scholarly research and doctorate (PhD) supervision following the latter’s statement that prominent Turkish author Mustafa Akyol’s book has been banned as it does not conform to local norms.

UCSI professor Tajuddin Rasdi said academics were always pushing the boundaries of knowledge through scholarly research.

“Expanding the knowledge boundary always conflicts with what is considered the ‘norm’ of the day.

“Questioning and developing questions are the key to knowledge development,” he told FMT, adding that the best academics were the ones who had the deepest and most number of questions in mind.

He was commenting on the recent statement by Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi on the ban imposed on the book, ‘Islam Without Extemes: A Muslim Case for Liberty’ written by Akyol.

“Had we allowed it to be distributed, it could have national security implications,” Zahid had said.

‘Islam Without Extremes: A Muslim Case for Liberty’, a best-seller, discusses the question of freedom and liberty in Muslim societies, a topic close to Akyol’s heart.

Besides Akyol’s work, several works by Islamic Renaissance Front (IRF ) director Dr Ahmad Farouk Musa, novelist Faisal Tehrani and politician Wan Ji Wan Hussin have also been banned.

The government had said the works were “likely to be prejudicial to public order” and could “alarm public opinion”.

Akyol’s book, ‘Islam Without Extremes: A Muslim Case for Liberty’, was the sole English publication banned. It has been an international best-seller since it was first published in the US in 2011.

The Bahasa Malaysia version of the book, ‘Islam Tanpa Keekstreman: Berhujah Untuk Kebebasan’ was also banned, along with two of Farouk’s books – ‘Wacana Pemikiran Reformis (Jilid 1) and (Jilid 2)’.

Faisal’s book ‘Aku ___ maka aku ada’ was his latest work to be declared taboo by the authorities.

In May 2015, four of his books – ‘Sebongkah Batu di Kuala Berang’, ‘Karbala’, ‘Tiga Kali Seminggu’ and ‘Ingin Jadi Nasrallah’ – were banned by the home ministry.

Tajuddin said that in traditional religious education, challenging the norm was not encouraged and that was why religious knowledge had decreased over time.

“The west thrived and developed much knowledge today after religious authorities were defeated in their efforts to control thinking.

“If the religious department does not grow in their thinking and insists on banning books that go against the ‘norm’ then we should close down all PhD programmes.

“In science, we are now talking about the multi-verse and not just one universe and science is also talking about the string theory and both theories may conflict with traditional religious cosmological views,” Tajuddin said.

He asked if such research should also be banned as it was against the religious norm in Malaysia.

Full report at:

http://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/nation/2017/10/10/does-zahid-understand-scholarly-research-asks-academic/

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Arab World

 

Al-Nusra Terrorists Vow to Behead all Villagers in Abu Dali in Southern Hama

Oct 09, 2017

The English-language Lebanon-based AMN reported that newly leaked footage from the village shows a group of blindfolded non-combatants sitting in the back of a vehicle with their hands tied, pleading for mercy with Al-Nusra terrorists.

Despite the looming massacre, the fall of Abu Dali is yet to spark any outrage from the international community.

Abu Dali has long served as a trading point between the warring parties; therefore, the Syrian army and National Defense Forces (NDF) were caught completely off-guard by the surprise Al-Nusra offensive that targeted a long-standing government salient in Southern Hama.

Meanwhile, the Russian Air Force is increasing its sorties against Al-Nusra across Idlib with dozens of airstrikes targeting terrorists in Abu Dali as well.

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13960717001217

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Iraqi army forces find Daesh mass grave west of Ramadi

Oct 9, 2017

Iraqi forces have found a mass grave in the country’s troubled western province of Anbar containing the remains of nearly two dozen Daesh Takfiri militants killed during heavy clashes with government forces and their allies during the campaign for the liberation of the strategic city of Ramadi.

Colonel Alaa Fadel told Deutsche Presse-Agentur (DPA) that the grisly finding was made while Iraqi forces were combing the mountainous Abul Jir region west of al-Rahaliya district of possible remnants of the terror group.

Fadel noted that the mass grave contains the remains of 20 bodies of Daesh Takfiris. 

On December 28, 2015, the Iraqi Joint Operations Command declared that Ramadi, located about 110 kilometers (68 miles) west of the capital Baghdad, had been "fully liberated" from the Daesh Takfiri terrorist group, and that government soldiers had raised the Iraqi national flag over the main government building there.

State-run al-Iraqiya television network showed troops, some waving Iraqi flags and others brandishing machine guns, chanting and celebrating inside a government complex that had been taken from Daesh the day before.

Ramadi fell into the hands of Daesh in May 2015, months after the terrorist group overran territories in northern Iraq.

Senior Daesh bomb expert dies of injuries

Meanwhile, a high-ranking bomb expert for the Daesh terrorist group has died of injuries sustained during clashes with Iraqi army forces and pro-government fighters from Popular Mobilization Units, commonly known by the Arabic word Hashd al-Sha’abi, near Qurret Tabah region northeast of Diyala.

A security source, speaking on condition of anonymity, told Arabic-language al-Ghad Press news agency that the slain militant and his two aides were trapped as government troops and their allies staged an ambush.

Full report at:

http://www.presstv.com/Detail/2017/10/09/538014/Iraqi-army-forces-find-Daesh-mass-grave-west-of-Ramadi

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Nusra Front, Islamic State clash in Syria's Hama province

Oct 10, 2017

BEIRUT (Reuters) - Islamic State took control of some Syrian villages in a rebel-controlled area east of Hama on Monday, opening a new frontline days after the Syrian military said it had cleared Islamic State from a nearby area.

Islamic State said in a statement it had taken control of 12 villages and carried out a big attack on the jihadist alliance Tahrir al-Sham.

Tahrir al-Sham, spearheaded by al Qaeda’s former affiliate the Nusra Front, said in its own statement that Islamic State had stormed several villages and accused the Syrian army of allowing it to cross government territory.

A war monitor, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, said Islamic State had taken 15 villages from Tahrir al-Sham, but that the jihadist alliance then took five of them back.

On Friday the Syrian army said it had cleared Islamic State from its last pocket of territory in a nearby part of the countryside east of Hama after months of fighting.

The Observatory and Tahrir al-Sham said those same fighters were the ones that captured the villages, appearing to have crossed government-held territory. The Observatory said some of them had crossed with groups of civilians.

Although Islamic State and the groups that make up Tahrir al-Sham, including the Nusra Front, subscribe to hardline jihadist ideology, they have opposed each other for years.

Islamic State has not held territory abutting areas held by jihadists or other rebel groups in northwest Syria, the most populous area held by the insurgency, since last year.

Full report at:

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-mideast-crisis-syria-islamic-state/nusra-front-islamic-state-clash-in-syrias-hama-province-idUSKBN1CE1TC

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Tens of Terrorists Arrive in Turkey to Enter Idlib Province

Oct 09, 2017

The Arabic-language Smart news quoted well-informed sources as saying that 150 gunmen of Jeish al-Islam militant group crossed Northern Aleppo's border into Turkey and arrived in the town of Antakya.

The news website further said that the militants have deployed at the positions of the Euphrates Shield Operation via Hoor Kilis passageway at Syria-Turkey border.

Smart news went on to say that the Jeish al-Islam militants have deployed in Antakya to participate in the military operation in Idlib province, adding that almost 2,000 fully-equipped militants are now at an Antakya base.

Relevant reports said on Sunday that several vehicles of the Turkish Army crossed the border into Syria and entered Idlib province following clashes between the Turkish soldiers and Ankara-backed militants with Al-Nusra Front.

The militant-affiliated websites reported that the Turkish army units and Al-Nusra fighters engaged in sporadic clashes near the town of Kafr Loseen in Northern Idlib along the border between Syria and Turkey.

Full report at:

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13960717001557

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Turkish Army Deploys Huge Military Cargo at Border with Syria

Oct 09, 2017

The Arabic-language al-Ahd news website reported that a large number of armored and military vehicles of the Turkish army were sent to the town of Reyhanli at the border with Syria.

Al-Ahd further added that the military hardware have been sent from Reyhanli to the border to be transferred to Syria's Idlib.

Relevant reports said on Sunday that several vehicles of the Turkish Army crossed the border into Syria and entered Idlib province following clashes between the Turkish soldiers and Ankara-backed militants with Al-Nusra Front.

The militant-affiliated websites reported that the Turkish army units and Al-Nusra fighters engaged in sporadic clashes near the town of Kafr Loseen in Northern Idlib along the border between Syria and Turkey.

Full report at:

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13960717001305

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US Air Raids in Syria Continue Killing Civilians

Oct 09, 2017

The websites reported that the US fighter jets bombed heavily residential areas in the ISIL-held Raqqa city on Sunday afternoon, killing six and wounding four members of a family.

The websites reported on Sunday that 15 civilians were killed and several more were injured in the fighter jets' raid in the town of Merkadeh in Southern Hasaka.

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13960717001426

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Syrian Army Wins back More Key Regions near Al-Sukhnah-Deir Ezzur Highway

Oct 09, 2017

The army men engaged in fierce clashes with the ISIL East of the town of al-Sukhnah Northeast of Palmyra city, and captured al-Saroukh hill that overlooks the al-Sukhnah-Deir Ezzur highway.

A large number of terrorists were killed or wounded and a large volume of ISIL's military equipment were destroyed in the operation.

The Syrian Army troops pushed ISIL back from more positions in Eastern Homs also on Saturday and reopened a chunk of the highway that connects Palmyra (Tadmur) city to the town of al-Sukhnah after a week of clashes.

The Palmyra-Sukhnah Highway was reopened after the army soldiers successfully expelled the ISIL terrorists from the Al-Hayl Gas Field that is located South of al-Sukhnah.

Full report at:

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13960717001007

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Militants in More Regions End Battle with Syrian Army

Oct 09, 2017

The ministry said that militants in more regions handed over their weapons to the Syrian Army and applied for government amnesty, adding the total number of the towns, villages and regions that have so far endorsed the peace plan stands at 2,248.

The Russian Defense Ministry's Center for Syrian Reconciliation said last month that some 35 militant groups were ready to join the peace agreement with the Syrian Army troops in Idlib.

The ministry said that 35 units confirmed their readiness to side with the government troops" following talks with the leaders of the formations.

The agreement on the de-escalation zone in Idlib was reached in September. The establishment of the Idlib safe zone was especially crucial due to the fact that around 9,000 terrorists Al-Nusra Front (Tahrir al-Sham Hay'at or the Levant Liberation Board) were attempting to take control over the province, according to the Russian Defense Ministry.

Previously, safe zones were established in Southern Syria, Eastern Ghouta, and the Homs province.

Full report at:

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13960717000988

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Syrian Soldiers Seize ISIL's US-Made Weapons

Oct 09, 2017

The Arabic-language website of Russia's state news agency, Sputnik, quoted Walid Hali, a Syrian army man, as saying that the ISIL used arms manufactured in the US, Belgium and France in its assault on the military police monitoring center on September 18. He told Arabic Sputnik that the weapons had been smuggled into Syria from outside the country, adding that over 100 weapons and hand grenades made in the US, Belgium and France were seized by the army. 

Relevant reports said in March that the army troops discovered several ISIL hideouts stashed with a large volume of US-manufactured weapons and ammunition in the Northern province of Aleppo.

The army discovered three hideouts of ISIL in Aleppo province used by the terrorist group as arms depot and temporary jails for women, adding that a large volume of US-made arms and munitions have been found in the hideouts.

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13960717000878

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ISIL Collapsing in Northern Deir Ezzur after Agreement with SDF

Oct 09, 2017

he SDF managed to expel ISIL from the villages of Wesiha, Al-Sawah and Zughayr Jazeera amid clashes on Saturday and Sunday with the framework of the Island Storm operation.

The SDF fighters had captured the villages of Hermushiya Kabeera, Hermushiya Saghira, Tall Kasrah and Tall Abu Fahat on October 4; the villages are all located directly to the North of Deir Ezzur city.

Meanwhile, clashes continue to unfold across several points along the Khabur River in Southern Hasaka and Eastern Deir Ezzur where the SDF is probing ISIL lines and steadily advancing.

In total, 8 ISIL members were killed by the SDF across the Northern and Eastern countryside of Deir Ezzur during the latest round of operations.

The ISIL is expected to lose control of its last villages in Northern Deir Ezzur before the end of October.

The Arabic-language al-Ahd news quoted websites affiliated to the terrorists groups as reporting that ISIL and the SDF have agreed on the former's withdrawal from Raqqa city in the next few days.

In the meantime, the ISIL is also withdrawing from its positions in parts of Deir Ezzur province, handing over their lands to the SDF in line with the same agreement.  

The London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) reported on Monday that the ISIL has started surrendering its positions in Northwestern Deir Ezzur to the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).

It added that the ISIL has pulled fighters back from the battlefield with the SDF to concentrate on war with the Syrian Army troops.

A tribal leader in Eastern Syria said last month that hundreds of ISIL militants joined the SDF amid intensifying tension between the Syrian Army troops and the US-backed SDF in Deir Ezzur province.

The Arabic-language al-Watan paper quoted Sheikh Mohammad Amlah al-Daham, the leader of al-Akidat tribe that is one of the largest tribes in Syria as saying that almost 500 ISIL gunmen that had fled the battlefields joined the SDF in the town of al-Shaddadi in Southern Hasaka amid the Syrian Army troops' rapid advances in Deir Ezzur.

Full report at:

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13960717000672

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US supplying munitions to Daesh, Nusra terrorists: Top Syrian general

Oct 9, 2017

A high-ranking Syrian military commander says the United States is supplying various kinds of munitions to Daesh Takfiri terrorists and members of the foreign-sponsored and Takfiri Jabhat Fatah al-Sham – previously known as the Nusra Front – militant group, not the so-called moderate armed opposition.

“We know that the United States delivered 1,421 truckloads of military hardware between June 5 and September 15 this year to terrorists in Syria. The weapons were purportedly intended to be used in the fight against terrorists, but eventually fell into the hands of Daesh and Nusra Front militants,” the chief of the Main Operational Directorate of the Syrian Army, General Ali al-Ali, said in Damascus on Monday.

He added that Takfiri terrorists in Syria were getting weapons bought under the Pentagon's program of assistance to armed anti-Damascus moderates.

Walid Khali, a Syrian army official, also said Jabhat Fatah al-Sham terrorists, who attacked Russian troops stationed in Syria’s west-central province of Hama on September 18, carried weapons made in the United States, Belgium and France.

The remarks came a day after Secretary General of the Lebanese Hezbollah resistance movement, Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, said the United States is using its air force to protect Daesh militants from Syrian government forces.

“The United States protects Daesh in several regions of Syria by using aircraft, and prevents the Syrian army to end with the terrorists,” Nasrallah said.

Full report at:

http://www.presstv.com/Detail/2017/10/09/538021/US-supplying-munitions-to-Daesh-Nusra-terrorists-in-Syria

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Mideast

 

Fatah, Hamas to discuss security in Gaza under unity deal

Oct 10, 2017

Negotiators from rival Palestinian factions Fatah and Islamist group Hamas will discuss security in the Gaza Strip at unity talks in Cairo on Tuesday, including a proposal that would see Fatah security personnel deployed to Hamas-dominated territory.

The plan for 3,000 Fatah security officers to join a Gaza police force over the course of a year, part of a unity deal mediated by Egypt in 2011, would restore much of the influence of Fatah leader President Mahmoud Abbas in Gaza and further loosen Hamas’ grip.

The deal was never implemented.

The Western-backed mainstream Fatah party lost control of the enclave to Hamas, considered a terrorist group by the West and Israel, in fighting in 2007. The loss damaged Abbas’ credibility in the eyes of the West and Israel, after years of being their main Palestinian diplomatic counterpart.

But under Egypt’s mediation, major steps have been made toward narrowing rifts since Hamas handed administrative powers in Gaza to a Fatah-backed government last month.

The move was a major reversal for Hamas and was partially prompted by the group’s fears of potential financial and political isolation after its main donor Qatar suffered a major diplomatic crisis with key allies.

“The sides will discuss the security issue, especially in Gaza, in the way that serves the home front, enforces the rule of law in a professional and national way and is not factional,” said Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum.

Under the deal, Hamas would still have the most powerful armed Palestinian faction, whose estimated 25,000 well-equipped fighters have fought three wars with Israel since 2008.

“The issue of arms of resistance is not up for discussion,” Hamas official Sami Abu Zuhri told Reuters. Israel’s enmity with Hamas means greater unity with Fatah is unlikely to help any future efforts for a peace deal with Israel.

But both sides hope that the deal’s proposed deployment of security personnel from the Fatah-led Palestinian Authority to Gaza’s borders will encourage Egypt and Israel to ease their tight restrictions at border crossings, a badly needed step to help Gaza revive its economy and improve the living standards of its two million residents.

Officials said that apart from the implementation of the 2011 agreement and security, the Cairo talks would also cover issues such as setting a date for presidential and legislative elections and reforming the Palestine Liberation Organization, which is in charge of long-stalled peace efforts with Israel.

“What happened in the past days is something like a declaration of principles while the two sides have postponed final status issues to the talks in Cairo,” said Gaza political analyst Akram Attallah.

Abbas has pledged there would be “one authority, one law, one administration, one weapon” in the Gaza Strip, a statement seeming to challenge Hamas’ continued security dominance.

But Tayseer Nasrallah, a member of the Fatah Revolutionary Council, told Reuters: ”There are difficult challenges and it will take time to overcome them.

Outstanding issues include the fate of 40,000 to 50,000 employees hired by Hamas over the past 10 years and its demand Abbas lift economic sanctions he imposed in recent months to try to pressure the group to compromise.

http://nation.com.pk/international/09-Oct-2017/fatah-hamas-to-discuss-security-in-gaza-under-unity-deal

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PLO censures Israel plans to build nearly 4,000 settler units in West Bank

Oct 9, 2017

The Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) has strongly condemned Israel’s plans to construct nearly 4,000 housing units in the occupied West Bank irrespective of the international outcry against the Israeli regime’s land expropriation and settlement expansion policies in Palestinian territories.

“We strongly condemn Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's approval of the construction of 3,829 illegal settlement units in the occupied West Bank,” Hanan Ashrawi, a member of the PLO’s Executive Committee, said during a meeting with the visiting Norwegian politician, Hilde Haraldstad, in the central West Bank city of Ramallah on Monday.

She added, “Clearly, Israel is bent on entrenching the military occupation and its illegal settlement enterprise, further reaffirming its intentions of displacing Palestine and replacing it with the 'Greater Israel’.”

The senior PLO official further urged the international community to hold Israel accountable for acting outside the law before it shatters the prospects of a viable Palestinian state.

“It is vital that European countries exhibit the political will necessary to take decisive action to end the occupation and to remove all of its manifestations from Palestinian soil,” Ashrawi pointed out.

Since the inauguration of US President Donald Trump in January, the regime in Tel Aviv has stepped up its construction of settler units on occupied Palestinian land in a blatant violation of international law.

Less than a month before Trump took office, the United Nations Security Council adopted Resolution 2334, calling on Israel to “immediately and completely cease all settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territories, including East Jerusalem” al-Quds.

About 600,000 Israelis live in over 230 illegal settlements built since the 1967 Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories of the West Bank and East Jerusalem al-Quds.

Palestinians want the West Bank as part of a future independent Palestinian state, with East Jerusalem al-Quds as its capital.

The last round of Israeli-Palestinian talks collapsed in 2014. Among the major sticking points in those negotiations was Israel’s continued settlement expansion on Palestinian territories.

Trump backtracked on Washington’s support for a “two-state solution” earlier this year, saying he would support any solution favored by both sides.

Full report at:

http://www.presstv.com/Detail/2017/10/09/538002/PLO-censures-Israel-plans-to-build-nearly-4000-settler-units-in-West-Bank

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150 go on trial over coup bridge massacre

Oct 10, 2017

SILIVRI - Almost 150 former Turkish military personnel went on trial Monday over clashes on an Istanbul bridge during last year’s failed coup that claimed dozens of lives, including a key aide of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

The bridge across the Bosphorus strait in Istanbul was the scene of bloody fighting between Erdogan’s supporters and renegade soldiers seeking to oust the elected government on the night of July 15, 2016. It was later renamed by the government as July 15 Martyrs’ Bridge.

The dead included Erdogan’s campaign manager Erol Olcok and his 16-year-old son Abdullah Tayyip, who were killed when soldiers opened fire on protesters on the bridge which connects Asia and Europe.

Erol Olcok had named his son after Erdogan and his predecessor as president, Abdullah Gul.

A total of 143 suspects, including 30 officers, appeared in court. All the suspects barring eight are being held under arrest.

They are accused of crimes ranging from murder to attempting to overthrow the parliament and the government, according to the 1,052-page indictment. If convicted, the suspects each face 37 life sentences, according to the state-run Anadolu news agency.

Many civilians rushed to the bridge on the night of the coup, heeding Erdogan’s call to quash the putsch bid, but the renegade soldiers then shot at them.

Fatmanur Goksu, 24, was one of those shot on the bridge as well as her father.

“The same bullet hit my arm and then my father’s,” she told AFP outside the court, where some of the victims’ relatives gathered wearing T-shirts with the word “martyr” and the name of their dead loved one.

Goksu said she got out onto the streets “without any second thought” after Erdogan’s call.

Thirty-four civilians and seven coup plotters were killed on the Bosphorus bridge, according to the indictment.

But by the early morning hours, the soldiers surrendered to police, laying down their arms on the bridge and raising their hands in an enduring image of the coup’s defeat.

Erdogan attended the funeral of the Olcoks and others two days after the coup bid, weeping openly in a rare show of emotion.

“We’re here today to settle accounts with those who attempted to invade our country,” Mahir Unal, ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) spokesman told reporters before the trial began.

Monday’s trial is one of several legal processes seeking to bring to justice those believed to have played a role in the coup bid which left 249 people dead, not including the putschists.

Veysel Kilic, the father of one of the military academy students being held, said he did not have any hope in the “unsound” justice system.

Kilic took part in the main opposition leader Kemal Kilicdarogu’s month-long foot march in July to protest against alleged injustices under Erdogan.

Like many relatives, Kilic said his air force academy student son was “deceived” and “told to join an unplanned exercise to measure their obedience to their commander”.

“The students were totally unaware. They did not fire. Those children remained neutral,” adding that more would have been killed if the students had taken sides.

Last week, a court in southwestern Turkey handed life sentences to 40 people convicted of plotting to assassinate Erdogan at an Aegean hotel.

Erdogan has vowed to purge all state institutions to clean the “virus” of US-based Muslim preacher Fethullah Gulen whom his government blames for the putsch.

The cleric, who lives in Pennsylvania, has denied any involvement.

Full report at:

http://nation.com.pk/international/10-Oct-2017/150-go-on-trial-over-coup-bridge-massacre

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Iran promises 'crushing' response if US designates Guards a terrorist group

Oct 10, 2017

Iran promised on Monday to give a “crushing” response if the United States designated its elite Revolutionary Guards as a terrorist group.

The pledge came a week before President Donald Trump announces final decision on how he wants to contain Tehran. He is expected on Oct 15 to decertify the landmark international deal to curb Iran’s nuclear program, in a step that potentially could cause the 2015 accord to unravel.

Trump is also expected to designate Iran’s most powerful security force, the Revolutionary Guards Corp (IRGC) as a terrorist organization, as he rolls out a broader U.S. strategy on Iran.

“We are hopeful that the United States does not make this strategic mistake,” foreign ministry spokesman Bahram Qasemi was quoted as saying by the state news agency IRNA at a news conference.

“If they do, Iran’s reaction would be firm, decisive and crushing and the United States should bear all its consequences,” he added.

Individuals and entities associated with the IRGC are currently on the U.S. list of foreign terrorist organizations, but the organization as a whole is not.

IRGC commander Mohammad Ali Jafari said on Sunday “if the news is correct about the stupidity of the American government in considering the Revolutionary Guards a terrorist group, then the Revolutionary Guards will consider the American army to be like Islamic State all around the world.”

Full report at:

http://nation.com.pk/international/09-Oct-2017/iran-promises-crushing-response-if-us-designates-guards-a-terrorist-group

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Deputy FM: Iran to Withdraw from N. Deal if Necessary

Oct 09, 2017

"No doubt national interests will be the framework of any decision and if necessary, we will put the nuclear deal aside, yet of course, we will not initiate violation of the nuclear deal," Takht Ravanchi said on Monday.

He underlined that if Iran withdraws from the nuclear deal, it can revive industrial production of civilian nuclear products.

Takht Ravanchi also referred to the speculations about the US administration's decision to decertify the nuclear deal, and said Washington is not in a position to confirm or reject Iran's compliance, and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is the only body vested with the authority to confirm Tehran's loyalty.

In relevant remarks on Saturday, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani underlined that his US counterpart Donald Trump cannot reverse the benefits that Iran could achieve by the 2015 nuclear deal with the world powers.

"We attained certain benefits in the nuclear talks and by the nuclear deal, and no one can reverse them; neither Trump nor 10 other Trumps, these are irreversible. We displayed our political power to the world in the nuclear talks," President Rouhani said, addressing Iranian university students in Tehran.

"We have broken the world unity against Iran," he stressed.

President Rouhani blasted the US disloyalty to the nuclear deal, and said, "Remaining committed to a deal doesn’t harm anyone, but those who break the deal will be losers."

His comments came after European Commission Spokesman Margaritis Schinas underlined that the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) is working, and called on parties to remain committed to the nuclear agreement.

The remarks by the European Commission came after a senior US administration official said on Thursday that Trump would announce soon that he would decertify the landmark agreement.

"We are following very closely all the developments of the deal... reminding that it is a non-proliferation deal, which has been endorsed by the UN Security Council, that it's working, delivering as it has been verified eight times by the international agency for atomic energy," the European Commission spokesman told a news conference in Brussels.

"It is a durable, long-term solution to the Iranian nuclear issue which gives all sides the necessary assurances and we expect all sides to stick to their commitments under the deal," he added.

Trump faces an October 15 deadline for certifying that Iran is complying with the accord's terms. The US president has twice endorsed Tehran's compliance, but on Thursday he claimed that Iran had not "lived up to the spirit of the agreement."

Full report at:

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13960717001284

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How Saudi Arabia tackles border spillover from the Yemen war

Oct 10, 2017

Gas masks lie abandoned among rusting debris in a shell-pocked Saudi military outpost on the border with war-torn Yemen, an enduring flashpoint in more than two years of fighting against Houthi militias.

The post in Al Khubah, a deserted village framed by barren mountain ridges, is one of several border guard bases the militias have targeted since a Saudi-led coalition began its military intervention in Yemen in 2015.

The Iran-backed insurgents’ hit-and-run incursions and rocket barrages have not jeopardized Saudi control of the vast frontier, but they have underscored how the raging conflict in Yemen is spilling across the border, threatening scores of villages like Al Khubah.

“The Houthis thought we will withdraw,” Saudi border guard Colonel Mohammed al-Hameed said as he gave this news agency a rare tour of the battered base.

“But we are still very much in control,” he added, broken glass and bullet casings crunching under his feet.

The base showed signs of close-range combat. The scorched walls were scarred with shrapnel and the metal ceiling was pitted with bullet and shell holes. A cat prowled behind a mountain of wrecked furniture.

Gas masks had been procured for fear of potential chemical attacks, Al-Hameed said.

He described the Saudi base on the edge of the frontier as an “arrowhead”, directly exposed to Houthi mountain posts on the other side that give the militias a strategic vantage point.

The militias, well-versed in the region’s rugged topography, have mounted numerous cross-border raids in retaliation against Saudi air strikes on their Yemeni strongholds.

Saudi Arabia led a 2015 intervention in Yemen to prop up the government of President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi after Houthi militias forced him into exile.

It has also been hit repeatedly by the militias’ cross-border incursions, raising fears the conflict could drag out yet further.

“It’s been extraordinarily difficult to prevent Yemeni infiltrations across the border,” Lori Boghardt, from the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, said.

“The Saudis are not just trying to protect civilians and... infrastructure from the tens of thousands of projectiles and ballistic missiles being launched over the border,” she said.

“There’s also the broader strategic issue of trying to secure the basic territorial integrity of the kingdom.” The militias have posted numerous propaganda videos purporting to show their incursions into Saudi territory, including one inside Al Khubah showing border guards beating a hasty retreat.

“The Houthis are liars, liars, liars,” Al-Hameed said, claiming there had only been a handful of Saudi casualties and no fatalities in militia assaults at the site.

Saudi Arabia does not officially disclose military fatalities, but state media has frequently featured funeral notices for “martyred” soldiers.

Unofficial figures show that cross-border attacks by militias have killed at least 140 soldiers and civilians in Saudi Arabia since March 2015.

Given Saudi Arabia’s large military presence along the border and its superior air power, the Houthis would struggle to hold any territory they might seize.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/features/2017/10/09/How-Saudi-Arabia-tackles-border-spillover-from-the-Yemen-war.html

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Turkey may find other partners if Russia reluctant to share S-400 technology: Cavusoglu

Oct 9, 2017

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu says Ankara may cancel its deal with Russia on acquiring the Russian S-400 missile systems and seek a deal with other partners if Moscow is reluctant to share the technology of its most advanced air defense system with the Anatolian country.

Turkey’s top diplomat made the remarks in an interview with the Turkish newspaper Aksam, the transcript of which was published on Monday, adding that Ankara had earlier reached an agreement in principle with Moscow for joint production of the air defense system.

"We have agreed in principle on joint production in the medium and long term. If Russians do not agree, we will sign an agreement with another country. But we have not received any negative replies [from Moscow] regarding this issue,” Cavusoglu said.

Cavusoglu’s comments came almost a month after Ankara and Moscow reached an agreement on the delivery of the S-400 systems to Turkey. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan later said that Ankara had already made its first payment for the air defense systems.

Under the deal, Russia would send two S-400 systems to Turkey within the next year and then help the country domestically produce two more batteries. The deal is said to be worth around $2.5 billion.

Later in the day and in a press conference in Moscow, Kremlin spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, was asked about Cavusoglu’s comments regarding the transfer of S-400 systems’ technology to Turkey. He said, “Contacts and negotiations at an expert level in the context of this deal are ongoing. This is all I can say for now.”

S-400, whose full name is the Triumf Mobile Multiple Anti-Aircraft Missile System (AAMS), is an advanced Russian missile system designed to detect, track, and destroy planes, drones, or missiles as far as 402 kilometers away. It has previously been sold only to China and India.

Turkey, being a NATO member state with the second-largest army in the military alliance, drew an outpouring of criticism from the US and other members of the bloc, which criticized Ankara for drifting toward Moscow.

“They went crazy because we made the S-400 agreement. What were we supposed to do, wait for you?” said Erdogan on September 13, a day after he inked the deal with the Russians.

Before gravitating towards Russia, the Turkish military reportedly walked out of a $3.4 billion contract for a similar Chinese system. The withdrawal took place under purported pressure from Washington

Ankara’s ties with its Western allies in NATO have been strained over a range of issues. The Turkish leader has been critical of Washington for supporting Kurdish groups in Syria that he says are responsible for terror attacks inside Turkey.

Erdogan has also slammed American officials for rejecting his requests to hand over Fethullah Gulen, a powerful opposition figure living in the US, who is blamed by Ankara for masterminding last year’s mid-July failed coup.

Full report at:

http://www.presstv.com/Detail/2017/10/09/538040/Turkey-Russia-S400-deal-Erdogan-Putin-US-NATO

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Nobel Laureate group urges Trump to stick to Iran nuclear deal

Oct 10, 2017

A Nobel prize-winning nuclear weapons disarmament campaign group has called on US President Donald Trump to honor his commitment to Iran’s nuclear deal.

"We really call on the US government to continue to certify and stay in this deal," said the director of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) Beatrice Fihn, on Monday. ICAN won the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize.

The deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), was struck in July 2015 and began being implemented in January the next year. Apart from Iran and the US, the other parties to the agreement are France, Russia, Germany, China, and the UK. US President Donald Trump has long despised the deal in part because he perceived it as a legacy of Democratic former President Barack Obama. Since taking office a year after the deal took effect, the Trump administration has twice certified Iranian compliance under the specific American law that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is now reportedly planning to amend.

Those two certifications have been offered only half-heartedly, and indications are that a third one — due shortly in mid-October — may not be forthcoming.

"This is not really what the world needs right now... We see no evidence that Iran is not complying with it," added Fihn.

Earlier in the day, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and many world leaders unanimously threw their weight behind the JCPOA, rejecting Trump’s claims that Tehran has violated the “spirit” of the deal.

Under the JCPOA, Iran undertook to put limitations on its nuclear program in exchange for the removal of nuclear-related sanctions imposed against Tehran.

Full report at:

http://www.presstv.com/Detail/2017/10/10/538054/jcpoa-iran-trump-nuclear-weapons-ican

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Africa

 

Restructuring: Islamic group, MURIC, seeks six reliefs for Nigerian muslims

October 9, 2017

A pro-Islam Nigerian rights group, the Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) has issued the statement below demanding certain rights for muslims in the country.

In a statement sent to PREMIUM TIMES Monday, the group asked the federal government to declare Friday a work-free day to allow Muslims worship just as Sunday has been set aside for Christians.

The group made five other demands. Read full statement below.

RESTRUCTURING NIGERIA: MUSLIMS SEEK SIX RELIEFS

The Federal Government appears set for restructuring particularly with the setting up of a committee on this crucial matter by the ruling party, the All Peoples’ Congress (APC). Restructuring became popular after the South East, South South and a section of the South West complained about marginalization. Several politicians from both the opposition and the ruling party have since spoken in support of this clamour.

However, we of the Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) dissociate ourselves from all agitations for secession. We condemn all irredentist movements rearing their ugly heads in Southern Nigeria, particularly the agitation for the creation of Oduduwa Republic. We affirm clearly, unambiguously and unequivocally, that Muslim leaders in Yorubaland were not carried along before those demands were tabled. Nonetheless, just as some ethnic groups have complained of disaffections, we contend that Nigerian Muslims also nurse serious grudges bordering on marginalization against the Nigerian state.

We must start from the lanes of history because today was born from the wombs of yesterday. Islam has been in Nigeria since the 11th century and the British met Islam on ground when they arrived in the 19th century (800 years later). The British did not deem it fit to observe the rules of natural justice when they colonized the country as all Islamic landmarks were eliminated and supplanted with a wholly Christian system.

This injustice may have been at the root of frequent religious crisis in Nigeria because successive governments after independence refused to listen to the agitations of Muslims for a review of the status quo. The issues being raised by Muslims are listed in the following paragraphs so that the authorities may address them when restructuring eventually begins.

One: Nigerians enjoy a total of eight (8) public holidays in a year. These are Christmas Day, Boxing Day, New Year Day, Good Friday, Easter Monday, Id al-Kabir, Id al-Fitr and Maulud an-Nabiyy. Five (5) of the eight holidays belong to Christians (Christmas Day, Boxing Day, 1st January, i.e, New Year Day, Good Friday and Easter Monday). Only three (3) holidays belong to Muslims, viz, Id al-Kabir, Id al-Fitr and Maulud an-Nabiyy.

Restructuring should give Muslims 1st Muharram. This will bring the total number of Muslim holidays to four while Christian holidays remain five.

Two: Christian marriages contracted inside churches or registries are held sacrosanct everywhere in Nigeria whereas Muslim marriages (nikah) are not recognized for any official purpose. Muslim couples find themselves in a cul de sac each time they presented their Islamic marriage certificates for official purposes. It is paradoxical that in a democracy, one marriage conducted by a religious group is acceptable while the other is not. What kind of constitution is Nigeria using?

Islamic marriages should be recognized in all official circles where Christian marriages are recognized. The Nigerian Marriage Act (1990) should therefore be revisited.

Three: Nigeria has a two-day weekend, viz, Saturday and Sunday. Saturday was a half day during the colonial era and Sunday was the only full day at the weekend. However, Saturday was made a full day to favour the Seventh Day Adventists, a Christian denomination during the regime of General Yakubu Gowon, a Christian military ruler. It is very clear, therefore, that the two weekend days recognized in Nigeria belong to Christians while Muslims have none since Friday, the Muslim day of worship, remains a working day.

It is pertinent to note that Friday was a work-free day until the British brought Christianity and stopped Muslims from enjoying their Allah-given fundamental human right. The relief we are seeking through restructuring is that Friday should be declared free to assume parity with the Christians’ Sunday. While we are not seeking anarchy, we are confident that the Federal Government (FG) has all the paraphernalia of administration to work out the modalities.

Four: Immigration officials engage in regular stereotyping of Muslims who apply for international passports. They intimidate Muslims particularly at the point of taking pictures. Muslim males are ordered to remove their caps; Imams are coerced into removing their turbans; bearded Muslims are compelled to shave or trim their beards; hijab-wearing Muslim women are made to remove their hijabs or ordered to draw their hijab backwards to reveal their ears. The same scenario plays itself out in driving licence, national identity card offices and during registration for elections.

In the process, thousands of Muslims have been denied international passports, driving licences and national identity cards while millions have been disenfranchised during elections. The authorities must find a way of stopping the persecution and profiling of Muslims.

Five: Uniformed groups in Nigeria, including the army, police, uniformed voluntary groups, nurses, the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC), students of primary and secondary schools, etc, use uniforms designed by the Christian colonialists. These uniforms should have been reviewed after independence because they only suit the Christians. Some of them constitute breaches to Islamic dress code and offend the sensibility of Muslims who are compelled to wear the uniforms regardless of their inner feeling of resentment.

In view of the fact that Western countries like Britain, Canada and the United States have designed uniforms with hijab for their female Muslim police, soldiers, students, etc, Nigeria’s restructuring authorities should borrow a leaf from those countries. Six: There is no single Shari’ah court in South Western Nigeria where Muslims constitute the majority. This is contrary to what obtained in Yorubaland before the advent of the British. There were Shariah courts in Ede, Iwo, Ikirun, Ibadan, etc. Yoruba Muslims are now compelled to take their civil matters like inheritance, marriage, etc to Christo-Western courts. This is preposterous and unacceptable.

We demand the establishment of Shariah courts in all South Western states including Edo State where there is a significant percentage of Muslims.

We call the attention of FG and the restructuring committee of the APC to the above six reliefs. Muslims are in bondage in this country and we believe that restructuring should emancipate people in captivity. APC promised change. This change can only be meaningful to us if it breaks the shackles around our necks. We have begged enough for the restoration of our Allah-given and fundamental human rights. We are tired of begging. Restructuring is about reapportioning the dividends of democracy such that it goes round and it is not restricted to one section.

Colonial administration was grossly unfair to Muslims. Nigeria was Christianised by Britain and Muslims bore the brunt. We suffered forceful conversion, denial of rightful employment and even worse forms of persecution. But what is most disappointing is the policy of exclusion adopted by post-independence governments.

On a final note, we demand full integration and full recognition as bona fide citizens of Nigeria, not second or third class citizens. We are the aggrieved party. The British most brutally and most unjustly took all we had from us, giving us nothing in return and offering no relief. It has continued to give us a feeling of rejection, marginalization, denial of the dividends of democracy and lack of a sense of belonging. The time for redress is now and our six-point relief is here for all to digest.

https://www.premiumtimesng.com/news/top-news/245569-restructuring-islamic-group-muric-seeks-six-reliefs-nigerian-muslims.html

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Islamic scholars clamour for more universities

OCTOBER 9, 2017

Islamic scholars have called for the establishment of more universities to cater for the learning needs of Muslim students globally. The call was made in a communique issued at the end of a 4-day International Conference on Islamic Universities, in Osogbo, on Monday. Read more at: https://www.vanguardngr.com/2017/10/islamic-scholars-clamour-universities/

According to the participants, the current number of Islamic universities across the globe was grossly insufficient to cater for the learning needs of approximately two billion Muslims all over the world. The participants also said the number of such universities was inadequate to cater for the spiritual needs of such students across the globe. “Continuous financial support of the universities is essential for the survival, growth and development of Islamic universities. “Islamic Universities should intensify efforts at ensuring promotion of quality education that combines theory with practice. “With the spate of societal challenges, the intervention of Islamic universities is non-negotiable and therefore required in solving the problem of the dearth of teachers and students in public schools. “In line with the policies of their respective countries, Islamic Universities should design a curriculum that will include the integration of Islamic teachings into the modern knowledge,’’ the statement said. It said that Islamic universities all over the world were established primarily to solve societal problems through the provision of quality learning in addition to the provision of spiritual training for the students. It said that Islamic Universities and the Muslim Ummahs should not only bother about the dwindling education of the Muslims, rather, they should be concerned with how to tackle the challenges. It stated further that the spate of corruption and security challenges in the country could be ameliorated with knowledge integration which Islamic universities offers.

Full report at:

https://www.vanguardngr.com/2017/10/islamic-scholars-clamour-universities/

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UN assisting thousands of migrants in Libyan smuggling hub

Oct 10, 2017

U.N. agencies said on Monday they were trying to provide urgent help to large numbers of migrants held and then stranded in the smuggling hub of Sabratha as rival factions battled for control of the city.

At least 4,000 migrants, including pregnant women, newborn babies and unaccompanied children, have been transferred from informal camps and housing to a hangar in the city since the clashes ended on Friday, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) said. The U.N. refugee agency, UNHCR, said some 6,000 had been held at the informal sites.

Hundreds of migrants who had left Sabratha arrived in Zuwara, about 25 km (15 miles) to the west, on foot along the beach, said Sadeeq Al-Jayash, head of Zuwara’s emergency committee.

“They come walking in groups ... for example there were various groups that came on Sunday -- 50, then 100 and 200 at night,” said Jayash. There were about 1,700 migrants currently in Zuwara “in desperate need of help”, he said.

Sabratha has been the most common point of departure for mostly sub-Saharan African migrants trying to cross the Mediterranean by boat from Libya.

But the number of crossings dropped sharply in July after an armed group struck a deal with officials from the U.N.-backed government in Tripoli to block departures, under pressure from Italy and other European Union member states.

That set off three weeks of fighting among rival factions that left at least 43 dead and 340 wounded, according to a new health ministry toll, and ended with the withdrawal of the armed group. The migrants who have since been rounded up were being held at sites that the group had controlled, local officials said.

“We are seriously concerned by the large number of migrants caught up in recent developments in Sabratha,” Othman Belbeisi, IOM Libya chief of mission, said in a statement.

Some migrants are being sent on to detention centers elsewhere in western Libya that are nominally under the control of the Tripoli government.

IOM officials say those centers, which were housing some 5,000 migrants, risk being overwhelmed by the new arrivals. Conditions in the centers are often dire and abuse widespread.

“Alternatives to detention must be found for migrants in Libya. In the meantime, IOM continues to provide direct humanitarian, health and psychosocial assistance to meet the urgent needs of the thousands of migrants being affected,” Belbeisi said.

Local sources have previously said that an estimated 10,000 migrants were being held in the Sabratha area.

The head of Sabratha’s department for countering illegal migration told Reuters on Saturday that help was badly needed as some migrants had received no food or water for six days.

Full report at:

http://nation.com.pk/international/10-Oct-2017/un-assisting-thousands-of-migrants-in-libyan-smuggling-hub

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UN says two peacekeepers killed, 12 injured in eastern DR Congo

Oct 9, 2017

Ugandan rebels have attacked two military bases in the northeast of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), killing two United Nations peacekeepers and injuring a dozen others.

The UN mission in Congo, known as MONUSCO, said the casualties occurred during two simultaneous attacks early on Monday, when soldiers were battling the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) rebel group along the main road leading from North Kivu province's Beni territory to the Uganda border.

The UN did not specify the nationality of the dead soldiers or the injured.

"This region has seen more than enough violence already," the mission chief, Maman Sidikou, said in a statement, adding that MONUSCO would “strongly” respond to threats by armed groups.

A Congolese army spokesman in the region, Mak Hazukay, also confirmed the report and later said the bases housed Tanzanian peacekeepers who formed part of an intervention brigade with a mandate to conduct offensive operations against the rebel group.

The assault came a day after the ADF militants killed at least 30 civilians by slitting their throats and took another 19 hostages near the city of Beni.

The recent fighting is a fresh outbreak of violence for a region plagued by ethnic tensions and massacres that killed more than 800 people between 2014 and 2016.

The Allied Democratic Forces-National Army for the Liberation of Uganda (ADF-NALU) rebel group, which was founded in Uganda in 1995 and later moved to Congo, is believed to have roughly 400 members and has been accused of committing serious human rights violations, including recruiting child soldiers and rape.

ADF-NALU and dozens of other armed groups have been active in eastern Congo since the 1996-2003 Congo wars.

Full report at:

http://www.presstv.com/Detail/2017/10/09/538046/Ugandan-rebels-DRC-United-Nations-peacekeepers-Beni

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UN peacekeeper killed in attack in DRC

09 October 2017

A UN peacekeeper was killed Monday when suspected Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) rebels attacked two UN mission military bases in the North Kivu province of the Democratic Republic of Congo, officials have said in statement.

Twelve people were also injured in the attack. The nationality of the peacekeeper has not yet been revealed.

''One peacekeeper has been killed and 12 injured during an attack of [UN mission] MONUSCO camp at Mamundioma this morning," said the UN Congo mission spokeswoman Florence Marchal.

A DRC army spokesman, Mak Hazukay, blamed the attack on ADF rebels. He said that since last week ADF rebels have resumed attacks on army bases and on civilians.

ADF rebels began fighting in Uganda in 1990 against President Yoweri Museveni’s government but fled into the DRC after being defeated by Ugandan army.

Full report at:

http://www.worldbulletin.net/africa/194819/un-peacekeeper-killed-in-attack-in-drc

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Nigeria resumes secret trial of Boko Haram suspects

09 October 2017

The trial of at least 1,600 Boko Haram suspects resumed on Monday as courts began hearings after the country’s annual vacation.

“The trials are going on right now. But they are not open to the public because we do not want to endanger the lives of people,” Othman Salihu Isa, a spokesman for the justice minister, told Anadolu Agency.

Isa also did not name the judges handling the cases for “security reasons and because of the sensitivity of the trial”.

The justice ministry announced in a statement in September that four judges had been picked along with special prosecutors and defense attorneys to speed up the trial which begins at a military facility in central Nigeria’s Kainji town.

That statement claimed the trial of some 651 suspects being held in northeastern Maiduguri would follow as the authorities continue to review cases arising from military operations against the Boko Haram insurgency.

The trial is dogged by what Justice Minister Abubakar Malami called the poor investigation of cases, reliance on confession-based evidence, lack of forensic evidence, bickering between investigators and prosecutors in the early stages of the investigation and security fears of the counsel handling the cases.

Full report at:

http://www.worldbulletin.net/africa/194813/nigeria-resumes-secret-trial-of-boko-haram-suspects

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