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Islamic World News ( 8 Aug 2017, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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How Suicide, Murder and War Created a ‘Lost Generation’ Of Middle East Men

New Age Islam News Bureau

8 Aug 2017

Muslim intellectual Kassim Ahmad who will be turning 84 early next month, said he is grateful now he is a “free man” following his discharge and acquittal at the Putrajaya Syariah High Court yesterday. ― Picture by Saw Siow Feng



 How Suicide, Murder and War Created a ‘Lost Generation’ Of Middle East Men

 Malaysia Probes Atheist Group after Uproar over Muslim Apostates

 Taliban, ISIS Jointly Massacred 50 Civilians: Afghan Officials

 Remains Of 9/11 Victim Identified 16 Years after Terror Attack



 How Suicide, Murder and War Created A ‘Lost Generation’ Of Middle East Men

 US, Yemeni and UAE Forces Target Al Qaeda Stronghold

 Palestinian officials urge US to clarify stance on future state

 Turkey to tackle Kurds in Syria: Erdogan

 Al-Qaeda ousted from oil-rich Yemen province

 Turkey’s Erdogan says Germany abetting terrorists

 Israel to strip Arab attacker of citizenship for first time

 Iran allows no West’s inspection of military sites: IRGC commander

 Iran regards Pakistan security as extension of its own: Rouhani


Southeast Asia

 Malaysia Probes Atheist Group after Uproar over Muslim Apostates

 Kassim Ahmad Thankful, Now a ‘Free Man’, Says Has Always Defended Islam

 Perak mufti: Quarrelling Muslim preachers pushed youths away to atheism

 Ramasamy calls Ridhuan Tee a bigot for his DAP anti-Islam list

 Govt removes unilateral conversion clause from new bill

 The Toxic Impact of Indonesia’s Abusive Blasphemy Law

 'I'm Your Humble Friend,' Philippines' Anti-US Leader Tells Tillerson


South Asia

 Taliban, ISIS Jointly Massacred 50 Civilians: Afghan Officials

 Taliban Deny Cooperating With Daesh in Afghan Attack

 Indian Police Hunt Suspected Bangladeshi Terror Group Leader

 Myanmar rejects allegations of human rights abuses against Rohingya

 Key Taliban leader ‘Zarqawi’ killed during clashes in Nangarhar province


North America

 Remains Of 9/11 Victim Identified 16 Years after Terror Attack

 US 'Mulling Airstrikes against Islamic State in Philippines'

 Trump asks 'tough questions' on Afghan mission: Tillerson

 Saudi ambassador to Washington: US, allies realize magnitude of Iranian threat

 Canada sees rising tide of migrants from the US

 Think Your Kids Aren’t Vulnerable to ISIS Recruitment? Think Again



 'GT Road Party' Will Be Buried On GT Road'-Qadri Hits PML-N

 Pakistan: Sindhi Cleric Accuses Minority-Friendly Hindu Lawmaker Of Being A RAW Agent

 Blast on Lahore's Outfall Road leaves 46 injured

 Ghani, Abbasi vow to fight terrorism

 Iran regards Pakistan’s security as its own: Rouhani

 References against Nawaz family: Monitoring judge’s appointment challenged

 ‘Multiple’ militant outfits behind law enforcers’ killings in Karachi

 3 terrorists killed, 4 arrested in Karachi raids: CTD

 Raksha Bandhan celebrated at Gurdwara Punja Sahib

 Efforts must continue to uphold supremacy of constitution: COAS


Arab World

 US Forces Attack Popular Mobilization Units Base, Kill 30: Report

 Syria: Tens of Gunmen Receive Gov't Amnesty in Northeastern Aleppo

 KSA-led coalition agrees to allow fuel for UN aid planes

 Syrian army increases strikes on capital's last rebel enclave

 Syrian Army Scores More Victories in War on Terrorism in Eastern Homs

 ISIL Fails Again to Prevail over Syrian Army Positions in Deir Ezzur

 ISIS may have fired rockets into Lebanon, security source says

 External powers targeting Arab identity, unity, says Syrian president

 Daesh fires several rockets into Lebanon, army shells terrorists' positions

 Rights groups urge UK to break silence on top Bahraini activist

 Syrian army forces strike last militant stronghold near Damascus

 3 wanted terrorists surrender in Qatif: Saudi interior ministry



 Post Basirhat Communal Violence: In Show of Unity, Hindus, Muslims Tie Rakhis

 India Not Responding Positively To Peace Efforts: Pakistan’s New Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif

 Kabul requests India to launch exclusive satellite for Afghanistan

 5 terrorists killed in Kashmir's Machil sector after infiltration bid

 Hearing on Jammu & Kashmir’s Muslim minority status in Supreme Court today

 LeT militant of Abu Ismail group killed in encounter



 Dozens of Migrants Storm Morocco-Spain Border Post

 Moroccan sailor’s family calls for intervention over kidnap by Nigerian pirates

 Mauritanians vote to abolish Senate, boost president powers

 Belfast councillor defiant on rally’s controversial Islam speeches



 Libya’s Derna Suffers As Haftar’s LNA Tightens Siege on City

 Ethiopia: Building Local Capacity to Explore Heritages

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau




How Suicide, Murder and War Created A ‘Lost Generation’ Of Middle East Men

8 August 2017

Suicide and murder take 10 times as many lives as war does in the Middle East and nearby regions, creating a “lost generation,” particularly among men, researchers said Monday.

These violent acts accounted for 1.4 million deaths in 2015 in the Eastern Mediterranean region, which includes 22 nations such as Afghanistan, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and the United Arab Emirates, said the report in the International Journal of Public Health.

Wars in the Eastern Mediterranean region — home to 600 million people — took an additional 144,000 lives.

“Intractable and endemic violence is creating a lost generation of children and young adults,” said lead author Ali Mokdad, director for Middle Eastern Initiatives at the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington.

“The future of the Middle East is grim unless we can find a way to bring stability to the region.”

Researchers also found a “sharp increase” in mental health conditions such as depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia in the Eastern Mediterranean.

“In 2015, nearly 30,000 people in the region committed suicide and another 35,000 died from interpersonal violence, representing increases of 100 percent and 152 percent, respectively, over the past 25 years,” said the report.

“In other parts of the world during the same period, the number of deaths from suicide increased 19 percent and interpersonal violence by 12 percent.”

Meanwhile, experts such as counselors, psychiatrists and psychologists are in severe shortage.

Countries such as Libya, Sudan and Yemen have just 0.5 psychiatrists per 100,000 people, said the report. In comparison, among European nations the ratio ranges from nine per 100,000 to more than 40.

Researchers also found a 10-fold increase in deaths related to HIV/AIDS between 1990 and 2015.

Most of the cases of death from HIV/AIDS occurred in Djibouti, Somalia, and Sudan.

“In this region, individuals infected with HIV are dying faster than the rest of the world,” said assistant professor at IHME, Charbel El Bcheraoui.

“This is a sign that HIV patients are not receiving proper treatment in an era where HIV can be well controlled with the appropriate treatment regimens.”

The entire report includes 15 papers and three editorials.

The data comes from the most recent estimates from the annual Global Burden of Diseases, Injuries, and Risk Factors study (GBD).

The GBD is put together by more than 2,300 collaborators in 132 countries, and looks at health loss from all major diseases, injuries, and risk factors by age, sex, and population.



Malaysia Probes Atheist Group after Uproar Over Muslim Apostates

August 8, 2017

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia is investigating an international atheist organisation, a minister said on Monday, after a picture of the group’s local chapter went viral, sparking claims that Muslim apostates were involved.

Apostasy is not a federal crime in Malaysia, a multi-ethnic and multi-religious country. However, critics say deepening fundamentalism within the Muslim majority is threatening religious freedoms.

Malaysian states, which have their own laws governing Islamic affairs, do not allow Muslims to formally renounce Islam, preferring instead to send them for counselling, or fining or jailing them.

The Kuala Lumpur chapter of Atheist Republic, a Canada-based organisation, posted a picture of the group’s members attending a gathering last week, sparking uproar among some Muslims and leading to threats of death and violence against the group on social media.

Malaysia’s deputy minister in charge of religious affairs, Asyraf Wajdi Dusuki, said on Monday he had instructed the Federal Territories Islamic Religious Department to investigate the Atheist Republic chapter to see if any Muslims were involved.

“We need to determine whether any Muslims attended the gathering, and whether they are involved in spreading such views, which can jeopardise the aqidah (faith) of Muslims,” he told Reuters when contacted.

Any Muslims found to be in the group would be sent for counselling, while attempts to spread atheist ideas could be prosecuted under existing laws, Asyraf said.

“We need to use the soft approach with (apostates). Perhaps they are ignorant of the true Islam, so we need to engage them and educate them on the right teachings,” he said.

Atheist Republic’s founder, Armin Navabi, said the group’s gatherings caused no harm to the public and were not considered a threat in other countries.

“They (Atheists) are treated like criminals. They are just hanging out and meeting other atheists. Who are they harming?!” he said in a post on his Facebook account.

Malaysia’s apostasy laws have left many former Muslims in legal limbo, as they are not allowed to register their new religious affiliations or legally marry non-Muslims.

In 2007, Lina Joy, a Malaysian convert to Christianity, lost a high-profile legal battle to have the word “Islam” removed from her national identity card. In delivering judgment in that case, the Federal Court’s chief justice said the issue was related to Islamic law, hence civil courts could not intervene.



Taliban, ISIS jointly massacred 50 civilians: Afghan officials

Aug 8, 2017

The Taliban and Islamic State group jointly massacred dozens of civilians in an Afghan village, officials said Monday, highlighting rare co-operation between the insurgents that could increase the strain on Afghanistan's beleaguered security forces.

The fighters killed more than 50 men, women and children in the remote Sayad district of northern Sar-e Pul province on Saturday after overrunning the Afghan Local Police (ALP) -- a government-backed militia -- in a 48-hour battle, according to local officials.

"It was a joint operation by Daesh (IS) and Taliban fighters. They had recruited forces from other provinces of the country and attacked Mirzawalang village," Zabihullah Amani, a spokesman for the provincial governor, told AFP.

The spokesman alleged that dozens of Taliban and IS group fighters under the command of Sher Mohammad Ghazanfar, a local Taliban commander who Amani claims pledged allegiance to IS, launched a co-ordinated attack on the area on Thursday.

"The fighters overran the area and it led to the massacre of innocent and defenceless civilians," he said.

The majority of those killed were Shiites. Most were shot but some were beheaded, Amani added.

Verifying information from poor, mountainous areas of Afghanistan made inaccessible by fighting and with patchy communications is difficult, and AFP was not able to access the village.

Mohammad Noor Rahmani, head of Sar-e Pul's provincial council, said 44 of the 50 victims were believed to be civilians, with the ALP militia also suffering casualties.

"This is not the final toll. It might change because the area is inaccessible and no telephone networks are working to get an update," he told AFP.

The Taliban and IS fighters have regularly clashed since the latter gained a foothold in eastern Afghanistan in 2015, as the two vie for supremacy in the war-torn country.

An Afghan security source told AFP there had been around three incidents in the past where fighters from both groups had teamed up to strike Afghan forces in certain areas.

"This is not the first time that they have co-operated. There are no strict ideological distinctions between them so they build bridges when it helps them both. It's very opportunistic," the source said.

IS has been adding a sectarian twist to the Afghan conflict, with a number of deadly attacks on Shiites in the past year.

Last week two suicide bombers throwing grenades killed more than 33 worshippers at a mosque in Afghanistan's western city of Herat, in an attack claimed by IS.

A resurgent Taliban, whose ranks are mostly made up of Sunni Muslim ethnic Pashtuns, is at the peak of its summer fighting season.

Zabihullah Mujahid, a spokesman for the Taliban, confirmed to AFP that it had captured Mirzawalang village but said it had done so alone. It also denied allegations it had killed civilians.

"It was an independent operation by our mujahideen forces. There is no cooperation with the Islamic State on the operation," said the spokesman.



Remains of 9/11 victim identified 16 years after terror attack

Aug 8, 2017

The remains of a man killed at the World Trade Center on 9/11 have been identified nearly 16 years after the terror attacks.

His name was withheld at his family’s request, the New York City medical examiner’s office said.

The announcement marked the first new identification made since March 2015 in the painstaking, ongoing effort. The office uses DNA testing and other means to match bone fragments to the 2,753 people killed by the hijackers who crashed airplanes into the twin towers on 11 September, 2001.

Remains of 1,641 victims have been identified so far, leaving 40% of those who died unidentified.

New, more sensitive DNA technology was deployed earlier this year and helped make the latest identification after earlier testing produced no results, the medical examiner’s office said on Monday.

As DNA testing advanced, so has the multimillion-dollar effort to connect more than 21,900 pieces of remains to individual victims. Few full bodies were recovered after the giant towers burned and collapsed, and the effects of heat, bacteria and chemicals such as jet fuel made it all the more difficult to analyse the remains.

Over time, the medical examiner’s office came to use a process that involves pulverizing the fragments to extract DNA, then comparing it to the office’s collection of genetic material from victims or their relatives. Most of the DNA profiles generated belong to previously identified victims.

In some cases, scientists have gone back to the same bone fragment 10 or more times, hoping new technology will provide answers.

The 9/11 airliner attacks killed a total of nearly 3,000 people in New York, at the Pentagon and near Shanksville, Pennsylvania.





US, Yemeni and UAE forces target Al Qaeda stronghold

7 August 2017

Yemeni, Emirati and American troops are conducting a “clearing operation” aimed at driving Qaeda militants from one of their major strongholds in southern Yemen, American officials said.

The offensive in Shabwa Province started last week and includes about 2,000 Yemeni forces backed by dozens of advisers from the United Arab Emirates, and a “handful of United States Special Operations commandos providing intelligence and planning assistance”, the New York Times reported.

Large numbers of US troops and UAE soldiers have overrun wide swaths of the province of Shabwa, a Houthi militia appointed deputy governor, Mohammad Abu Harbah told Houthi controlled media outlets.

In addition to the ground troops, who the Pentagon says are providing intelligence support, the US is also refueling aircraft involved in the operation Foreign policy reported. It’s the largest ground offensive in the country since 2016.

A local army commander told the New York Times that the Balhaf liquefied natural gas plant in Shabwa is being protected by Sudanese, Emirati and Yemeni soldiers. “The plant is secured from Al Qaeda attacks,” said Khalid Al Adhami.



Palestinian officials urge US to clarify stance on future state

Aug 8, 2017

Palestinian officials have called on the administration of US President Donald Trump to take a clear position regarding the establishment of an independent Palestinian state.

The Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO)’s Secretary General, Saeb Erekat, made the call in a statement issued on Monday following a visit by Jordan’s King Abdullah II to the West Bank city of Ramallah.

In Ramallah, the Jordanian king sat down with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. The meeting came days after tensions at the al-Aqsa Mosque compound in East Jerusalem al-Quds.

Abdullah’s visit carried “a message of support and succor for President Abbas and the Palestinian people,” Erekat’s statement read.

Jordan is one of only two Arab countries that have open diplomatic relations with Israel, the other one being Egypt.

Abdullah and Abbas agreed that Washington must clearly admit that the diplomatic process between Israelis and Palestinians was meant to create a Palestinian state on the basis of a two-state solution, the statement added.

The statement by Erekat also urged the US to agree that the negotiations aimed at resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict require a complete freeze in Tel Aviv’s settlement construction in the occupied territories.

The Trump administration has been by and large vague about the potential establishment of a Palestinian state. Earlier this year, Washington suggested that it would no longer insist on the so-called two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which envisages the establishment of an independent Palestinian state.

Israel occupied the West Bank, including East Jerusalem al-Quds, during the Six-Day War in 1967. It later annexed East Jerusalem al-Quds in a move not recognized by the international community.

Palestinian officials say they want the resolution of the conflict with Tel Aviv based on the two-state solution along the pre-1967 boundaries. However, Israel has been building settlements deep within territory that the Palestinians want for their future state. Israeli regime officials also say they consider Jerusalem as the “capital” of their own “state.”

During his visit to Ramallah, the Jordanian king stressed his country’s support for the establishment of a Palestinian state with East Jerusalem al-Quds as its capital and the importance of cooperation with the Trump administration to restart the so-called Middle East peace process, the official Petra news agency reported.

Abdullah and Abbas further underlined the need for maintaining the status quo at the Aqsa Mosque compound, according to the report.

A spokesman for Abbas, Nabil Abu Rudeineh, said the Palestinian president had praised Abdullah’s efforts to defend the Palestinian cause, adding that the Jordanian king’s “important visit… constitutes a continuation of close coordination between the two sides on all levels.”

‘American commitment necessary’

On Sunday, during a meeting with Jordanian parliamentarians, Abdullah raised the importance of the US contributing to a resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Full report at:



Turkey to tackle Kurds in Syria: Erdogan

Aug 8, 2017

ISTANBUL: Days after a reshuffle of Turkey's top military commanders, President Tayyip Erdogan has revived warnings of military action against Kurdish fighters in Syria that could set back the U.S.-led battle against Islamic State.

Kurdish militia are spearheading an assault against the hardline militants in their Syrian stronghold Raqqa, from where Islamic State has planned attacks around the world for the past three years.

But U.S. backing for the Kurdish YPG fighters in Syria has infuriated Turkey, which views their growing battlefield strength as a security threat due to a decades-old insurgency by the Kurdish PKK within in its borders.

There have been regular exchanges of rocket and artillery fire in recent weeks between Turkish forces and YPG fighters who control part of Syria's northwestern border.

Turkey, which has the second largest army in NATO after the United States, reinforced that section of the border at the weekend with artillery and tanks and Erdogan said Turkey was ready to take action.

"We will not leave the separatist organization in peace in both Iraq and Syria," Erdogan said in a speech on Saturday in the eastern town of Malatya, referring to the YPG in Syria and PKK bases in Iraq. "We know that if we do not drain the swamp, we cannot get rid of flies."

The YPG denies Turkish allegations of links with Kurdish militants inside Turkey, saying it is only interested in self-rule in Syria and warning that any Turkish assault will draw its fighters away from the battle against Islamic State which they are waging in an alliance with local Arab forces.

Erdogan's comments follow the appointment of three new leaders of Turkey's army, air force and navy last week - moves which analysts and officials said were at least partly aimed at preparing for any campaign against the YPG militia.

Turkish forces swept into north Syria last year to seize territory from Islamic State, while also cutting off Kurdish-controlled northeast Syria from the Kurdish pocket of Afrin further west. They thereby prevented Kurdish control over almost the whole sweep of the border - Ankara's worst-case scenario.

Recent clashes have centered around the Arab towns of Tal Rifaat and Minnigh, near Afrin, which are held by the Kurdish YPG and allied fighters.

Erdogan said Turkey's military incursion last year dealt a blow to "terrorist projects" in the region and promised further action. "We will make new and important moves soon," he said.


His comments follow weeks of warnings from Turkey of possible military action against the YPG.

Washington's concern to prevent any confrontation which deflects the Kurdish forces attacking Raqqa may help stay Ankara's hand, but a Turkish government source said last week's changes in military leadership have prepared the ground.

"With this new structure, some steps will be taken to be more active in the struggle against terror," the source said. "A structure that acts according to the realities of the region will be formed".

The battle for Raqqa has been underway since June, and a senior U.S. official said on Friday that 2,000 Islamic State fighters are believed to be still defending positions and "fighting for every last block" in the city.

Even after the recapture of Raqqa, U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis has left open the possibility of longer-term American assistance to the YPG.

The influence of Turkey's once-dominant military has decreased dramatically since Erdogan came to power nearly 15 years ago. A purge in senior ranks since last year's failed military coup has stripped it of 40 percent of top officers.

Last Wednesday's appointments were issued by the Supreme Military Council, a body which despite its name is now dominated by politicians loyal to Erdogan.

"Of course the political will is behind these decisions, Erdogan's preferences are behind them," the source said. "But the restructuring of the Turkish Armed Forces and the demand for a more active fight against the PKK and Islamic State also has a role". Vacancies in senior military ranks resulting from the year-long purge would not be filled immediately, he said, but would be addressed over time.

While all three forces - air, land and sea - are under new command, focus has centered on the new army chief Yasar Guler. As head of Turkey's gendarmerie, he was seen to take a tough line against the PKK and the movement of U.S.-based cleric Fethullah Gulen blamed by the government for the July 2016 coup attempt.

Ankara considers the YPG an extension of the PKK, which is designated a terrorist organization by Turkey, the United States and European Union.

Can Kasapoglu, a defense analyst at the Istanbul-based Center for Economics and Foreign Policy Studies (EDAM), said the YPG "remains at the epicenter of Turkey's threat perception".

Guler was well-placed to address Turkey's "transnational counter-terrorism priorities" and lead the campaign against Kurdish forces because of his past roles as chief of military intelligence, head of gendarmerie and postings to NATO.

"There is an undeniable likelihood that Turkey's new top military chain of command might have to lead a major campaign against the YPG," Kasapoglu said.

Guler is now favorite to take over from the overall head of the Turkish armed forces, General Hulusi Akar, who is due to step down in two years.

"Guler gets on well with members of Erdogan's AK Party and is known for his hardline performance against the PKK...and the Gulen movement," said Metin Gurcan an independent security analyst and retired Turkish military officer who now writes a column for Al-Monitor news website.

Full report at:



Al-Qaeda ousted from oil-rich Yemen province

Aug 8, 2017

ADEN - Al-Qaeda's Yemen branch has retreated from an oil-rich southern province in the face of an assault by a US-backed elite government force, a senior military official said Monday.

Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), seen by the United States as the global network's most dangerous franchise, has exploited Yemen's war to expand its presence in the country's south.

But the elite force, trained by the United Arab Emirates, on Thursday launched a "major operation" against the jihadists in Shabwa province.

The group staged a "tactical retreat" from the province with no major clashes, the military official said, requesting anonymity as he was not authorised to talk to the press.

The jihadists appear to have moved even further south into neighbouring Abyan province.

Residents of an Abyan town near the Shabwa border said they counted at least 45 cars carrying armed AQAP militants through their district.

AQAP's Shabwa stronghold has been a focal point in a long-running American-led drone war which has intensified since President Donald Trump took office in January.

A US air raid on the province in June killed AQAP emir Abu Khattab al-Awlaqi, according to the Pentagon.

Shabwa has also been the site of AQAP attacks in recent months, with the Yemen government reporting seven soldiers killed there in a suicide attack last week.

The Pentagon on Thursday confirmed that the United States was helping Emirati and government forces battle AQAP in Shabwa.

The UAE, part of a Saudi-led military alliance battling Iran-backed Huthi rebels in Yemen, said the operation was being "closely supported by a combined UAE and US enabling force".

Pentagon spokesman Navy Captain Jeff Davis said Friday that the operation involved "a very small number" of US forces on the ground whose main task was to help the flow of information.

The assault aimed to "degrade" AQAP's ability to coordinate terror attacks abroad, he said, adding that the US had conducted more than 80 strikes in Yemen since February 28.

US President Donald Trump ordered a special forces raid on Yemen in his first month in office which ended in the deaths of a US Navy SEAL and several Yemeni civilians in Baida province, bordering Shabwa and Abyan.

Full report at:



Turkey’s Erdogan says Germany abetting terrorists

7 August 2017

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan accused Germany on Monday of assisting terrorists by not responding to thousands of files sent to Berlin or handing over suspects wanted by Turkish authorities.

“Germany is abetting terrorists,” Erdogan told a conference in the Black Sea province of Rize, in comments likely to further escalate tensions between the two countries.

“We gave (German Chancellor Angela) Merkel 4,500 dossiers, but have not received an answer on a single one of them,” he told members of his ruling AK Party.

“When there is a terrorist, they can tell us to give that person back. You won’t send the ones you have to us, but can ask us for yours. So you have a judiciary, but we don’t in Turkey?” he said.



Israel to strip Arab attacker of citizenship for first time

7 August 2017

An Israeli court has decided to strip an Arab Israeli attacker of his citizenship, legal sources said Monday, in what a rights group said was the first ruling of its kind.

The Haifa district court decided to strip Alla Zayud of his citizenship Sunday by applying a 2008 law that allows the interior ministry to deprive of their nationality those involved in “terrorist activities”, sources said. Adalah, an Arab Israeli rights group, said it was the first court decision of its kind.

The 22-year-old, from Umm al-Fahm in northern Israel, was convicted on four counts of attempted murder after driving a car into Israeli soldiers and stabbing civilians in October 2015 and he was sentenced to 25 years in jail in June 2016. His mother is an Israeli citizen while his father is a Palestinian with permanent residence in Israel.

Supreme Court ruling

Adalah and the Association for Civil Rights in Israel in a joint statement said they would appeal the ruling to the Supreme Court. They said the court decision deviated “from the principles of international law, and from the general rule according to which an individual cannot be stripped of (their) citizenship and left stateless”.

Arab Israelis are the descendants of Palestinians who remained on their land when the Jewish state was established in 1948. They number around 1.4 million, some 18 percent of Israel's population.

Full report at:



Iran allows no West’s inspection of military sites: IRGC commander

Aug 7, 2017

A senior commander of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) Aerospace Division says Iran will never allow any Western country to inspect the Islamic Republic’s military sites.

Asked by reporters on Monday about the recent media reports that the US administration is pushing for inspection of Iranian military sites, Brigadier General Amir Ali Hajizadeh said, “The answer is clear. We will not give them such a permission.”

The comments came after US officials said late in July that the administration of President Donald Trump was pushing for inspections of the Iranian military sites in a bid to test the strength of the nuclear deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), reached between Iran and the P5+1 group of countries in 2015.

Iran and the five permanent members of the UN Security Council – the United States, Britain, France, Russia and China – plus Germany signed the JCPOA on July 14, 2015 and began implementing it in January 2016.

Hajizadeh further said the IRGC, as the top military power in the region, supported the Iranian government in standing up against the excessive demands of the enemies, particularly the US.

Enemies would suffer a defeat against the Iranian nation and all those nations standing up to them, he added.

The top IRGC commander emphasized that the enemies sought to disarm Iran by imposing sanctions, exerting pressure and waging a psychological warfare, just as they did in Libya, adding, “We will not give them such a permission.”

Full report at:



Iran regards Pakistan security as extension of its own: Rouhani

Aug 7, 2017

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani says security is currently the most important issue in the region, stressing that the Islamic Republic regards Pakistan’s security as extension of its own.

In a meeting with Pakistan’s Senate Chairman Mian Raza Rabbani in Tehran on Monday, the Iranian president added that terrorism poses the main threat to the countries in the region.

“All regional countries must cooperate with each other to fight and eliminate terrorism,” he said.

He added that Tehran and Islamabad had the potential to cooperate and hold consultation on the fight against terrorism and the development of regional security.

Rouhani emphasized that Iran and Pakistan were strategically important to one another and expressed the Islamic Republic’s determination to expand relations with Islamabad in various sectors such as science and technology, culture and energy.

Iran, Pakistan share close stance on regional, global issues: Rabbani

The Pakistani Senate chairman, for his part, said relations between the two countries were based on religious, historical and cultural commonalities.

Rabbani, who had traveled to Iran to attend Rouhani’s inauguration for a second term, added that Tehran and Islamabad enjoyed a common stance on regional and international issues.

He stressed the importance of bolstering cooperation in economic, security, parliamentary and energy fields as well as in the campaign against terrorism based on common interests.

Pakistan would spare no effort to promote relations with Tehran, the top senator pointed out.

Iran, Zimbabwe must use potentialities to serve nations: Rouhani

Meanwhile, in a meeting with his Zimbabwean counterpart, Robert Mugabe, the Iranian president said Tehran and Harare must use their extensive potentialities to serve the interests of their respective nations.

“Like the Iranian people, the Zimbabwean people have fought and are fighting for their dependence,” Rouhani said.

Full report at:



Southeast Asia


Kassim Ahmad Thankful, Now a ‘Free Man’, Says Has Always Defended Islam


August 8, 2017

KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 8 — Muslim intellectual Kassim Ahmad thanked God for his release from Shariah charges that have been hanging over his head since 2014, also asserting that he has been defending Islam instead of insulting the religion as accused.

Kassim, who will be turning 84 early next month, said he is grateful now he is a “free man” following his discharge and acquittal at the Putrajaya Syariah High Court yesterday.

“I’m greatly relieved, thank God. I’m of course happy,” he told Malay Mail Online when contacted.

Kassim said he has been “fully vindicated” of the “ridiculous” accusation that he had dishonoured Islam, pointing out that he has been defending Islam for many years.

As an example, he cited his lengthy criticism against atheist academic Richard Dawkins’ controversial book The God Delusion, comparing it to the local Islamic authorities’ response when it was published.

“You see they accuse me of dishonouring Islam. In the first place, I think I’m one of those who defend Islam. How can you judge me for dishonouring Islam?” he asked.

“Those who know me, know I defend Islam, but Islam which is the religion that I know, I defend it. I have been defending it for as long as I know what Islam is… And so I have been defending that all these while.

“So God be praised, today I’m free of those charges,” he said.

Yesterday, the Federal Territories Islamic Religious Department’s (Jawi) Shariah prosecutors finally withdrew all three Shariah charges against Kassim upon the direction of the Shariah court and in recognition of the Federal Court’s ruling in his favour.

Kassim was facing three separate charges — two of insulting Islam and one of defying religious authorities under Section 7(b) and Section 9 of the Syariah Criminal Offences (Federal Territories) Act 1997 respectively. Each charge is punishable with a maximum RM3,000 fine or maximum two-year jail, or both

No more worries for the family

His Penang-based son Ahmad Shauqi Kassim, 50, similarly expressed gratitude and relief over the removal of the heavy mental and physical burden.

“We thank God Almighty that everything is finally over,” he told Malay Mail Online when contacted.

“We have been travelling up and down from Kulim, it’s not easy,” he said, noting that he needed to drive down from Penang to his father’s house in Kedah’s Kulim, before making a four or five-hour trip to Kuala Lumpur and Putrajaya respectively for court cases.

Ahmad Shauqi himself is handicapped with his right-hand paralysed owing to an accident 11 years ago, but has been driving his father on the frequent trips to court. Even yesterday, they had left home at around 5am.

“He is going to be 84 very soon, so we thank God. After all what he said doesn’t contradict the teachings of Islam and the Quran,” his son said, noting that his father who has weak lungs and is wheelchair-bound because of gout, has to just “endure” the long commutes.

Last February, Kassim had spoken of the difficulties he faced as an 82-year-old then in making the regular trips from Kedah to the courts here, while his lawyer Rosli Dahlan had also then said the bail imposed meant that both Kassim and his three bailors have had to come for every single Shariah court proceeding.

As for Kassim’s wife who will be turning 79 this year, she would usually follow him to care for him but was unable to come yesterday due to medical check-ups, Ahmad Shauqi said.

“I’m sure she will be very happy, relieved, no more worry. My mum worries a lot, she doesn’t show her worry, she ‘makan hati ulam jantung’ — suffer from the inside. She worried a lot for my dad for the past so many years

“She will be very happy, I’m sure, thank God,” Ahmad Shauqi said, noting that she only has vision and hearing remaining in only one eye and one ear.

Ahmad Shauqi said his two elder sisters based abroad were similarly concerned for his father’s ordeal.

Both father and son credited their lawyer Rosli with doing his work well in helping secure the acquittal, with Ahmad Shauqi also saying that the judge ruled justly and wisely after taking into account all the legal arguments.

Yesterday’s acquittal marks the end of Kassim’s court struggles of over three years. He had previously already won in the Court of Appeal in December 2015 and yet again in the Federal Court this March.

The Court of Appeal had unanimously found that Jawi had acted illegally in various actions against Kassim — including using a defective warrant to cross the borders to arrest him; denying him access to lawyers in a detention exceeding 24 hours and in its prosecution against him.

The Court of Appeal’s 2015 order had quashed the Federal Territories chief Syarie prosecutor’s decision to charge Kassim in 2014 with three Shariah offences and to continue prosecuting him; with the same court order also directing Jawi to cancel the arrest and bail on him.

The Kuala Lumpur High Court will have to hear and decide on the compensation that must be paid to Kassim by those he had successfully sued over the arrest and Shariah prosecution — minister in charge of Islamic affairs Datuk Seri Jamil Khir Baharom, Jawi’s then Chief Shariah Prosecutor Ibrahim Deris, Jawi and the government of Malaysia.



Perak mufti: Quarrelling Muslim preachers pushed youths away to atheism

August 8, 2017

KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 8 — Tan Sri Harussani Zakaria has blamed Muslim preachers who disagreed in public today for confusing Muslim youths, claiming they subsequently lead them towards atheism.

The Perak mufti also put the blame on several others, including parents and schools, for the alleged lack of religious knowledge among youths which he said was a cause behind atheism.

“The preachers are in a disarray, so many teachings and opinions, until there is confusion among Muslims themselves,” he reportedly said in Malay paper Sinar Harian.

He said there were arguments among the Muslim community that Islam in its original form no longer fits with the current times.

“So this resulted in those who say previous preachers were wrong. This caused the youths to become confused,” he claimed.

Harussani explained that some Muslims turn to atheism since they believe that religions are no longer relevant in this day and age.

Just yesterday, the minister in charge of Islamic affairs said the occasional conflicting interpretations of Islam between mufti from different states should be viewed positively.

Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Jamil Khir Baharom said during Question Time that the dialectics between some of the Muslim clerics proved that the country’s Shariah system allowed for diversity.

A photo of the gathering by the Kuala Lumpur chapter, or “consulate”, of Atheist Republic has caused uproar from some in the Muslim community recently after it was highlighted by pro-Islamist blogs, leading to violent and death threats on social media.

Full report at:



Ramasamy calls Ridhuan Tee a bigot for his DAP anti-Islam list

Predeep Nambiar

August 7, 2017

GEORGE TOWN: A DAP leader has branded controversial preacher Ridhuan Tee Abdullah as a bigot for coming out with a list of “10 reasons and proof why DAP was anti-Islam” in Utusan Malaysia yesterday.

DAP deputy secretary-general P Ramasamy said it was unbecoming for a person who “claimed to be a professor” to come out with such a “hateful list”.

He said it was clear that Tee was trying to work up Malay sentiments to spark racial tensions among peace-loving Malaysians.

He said extremists in Umno, PAS and Perkasa had before this hurt the feelings and sentiments of non-Muslims and non-Malays in the country.

“Look at the comments and statements of Tee himself, a Chinese convert who is trying to over-please Muslims just to ingratiate himself into their ranks.

“He is increasing racial pressure in the country to create more disunity in the country,” Ramasamy told FMT.

Tee is a professor at Universiti Sultan Zainal Abidin’s General Studies and Advanced Education faculty.

His list of why DAP was anti-Islam, as reported in Utusan Malaysia yesterday, is as follows:

1. Perak DAP leader Nga Kor Ming had insulted Muslims by equating the giveaway of duit raya as akin to graft or “dedak”;

2. Penang DAP leader Jeff Ooi had insulted the late PAS leader Harun Din by saying “Adios Harun Din”;

3. Nga made fun of the “purdah” which is won by Muslim women. When Kepala Batas Umno secretary Ahmad Darus suggested flight attendants wear outfits covering the aurat, DAP leaders said Malay leaders were suffering from “otak cacat”;

4. Ramasamy had called preacher Dr Zakir Naik a satan;

5. DAP had questioned the contents of Friday prayers and meddled with fatwa matters in Penang;

6. DAP was rude to question the Muslim call for prayer or azan and recital of Quranic verses through the mosque speakers;

7. DAP questioned apostasy and also the existence of the Islamic Affairs Department or Jakim;

8. DAP dared to insult and make fun of hudud laws;

9. DAP fought the shariah law amendment in Parliament, saying it was not necessary;

10. DAP was against ustaz and ustazah from Peninsular Malaysia being sent to Sarawak.

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Tee also said before DAP could even take over the reins of government in Putrajaya, it had already “memandulkan” (spayed) Islam.

“Hence, DAP’s politics will ‘spay’ Islam. Muslims who support PH means they are helping to ‘spay’ Islam — their own religion. Ask yourself if what you are doing is right,” Tee was reported in the daily as saying.

Ramasamy said the list concocted by Tee was “false and nonsensical” and condemned the attack on DAP’s good name.

“Are these 10 ‘commandments’ reflections of his learning or his own dogmatism and narrow thinking?

“A religious person who claims to be a professor should think carefully before coming out with 10 statements condemning the DAP as anti-Islam.

“What comes from his mouth is nothing but hatred and venom towards non-Muslims.

“Is this what he has learned all this while?”

Tee has had a fair share of controversial outbursts through his commentaries published in mainstream Malay dailies.

He had called the Chinese community “ultra kiasu” for putting monetary goals above everything else and attacked the “weak patriotism” said to have been displayed by Chinese Malaysians at the last Olympics.

Despite being slammed by others, Tee had declared two years ago that he would continue to “express the truth” in his writings, even if it leads to his imprisonment.

Full report at:



Govt removes unilateral conversion clause from new bill

Minderjeet Kaur

August 8, 2017

KUALA LUMPUR: The government will table a new bill today to amend the Law Reform (Marriage and Divorce) Act but it will no longer include a clause to disallow unilateral conversion of children in a marriage where one spouse later converts to Islam.

Instead the bill to be tabled at the Dewan Rakyat for first reading only seeks to address issues faced by the spouse who converts to Islam in a marriage previously registered under civil law.

The new Law Reform (Marriage and Divorce) (Amendment) bill states it seeks to give the right to the converting spouse to file a petition for divorce to dissolve the civil marriage.

Currently, the law does not give the spouse who has converted to Islam the right to file a petition for divorce in civil court under Act 164 as the right to dissolve the marriage in a civil court is only given to the spouse who has not converted to Islam. The bill further states since the spouse who has converted to Islam does not have the right to file a petition for divorce under Act 164, he/she does not have the right to make an application in a civil court for other relief such as maintenance, custody of children and division of matrimonial assets, among others.

“The situation causes hardship to the converting spouse since Act 164 does not provide for them to seek other remedies (in civil court), hence they seek to find other remedies by filing an application for a divorce and other relief in Shariah Courts,” the bill reads.

The bill also states conflicts will arise when both spouses make respective applications in two different courts, for instance, the civil courts and the Shariah Courts.

Although, the bill states the Shariah Courts can grant an order for a divorce and ancillary relief, it does not dissolve the civil marriage under Act 164 because the power to dissolve a marriage is only given to the civil courts.

Therefore, the Shariah Courts do not have jurisdiction to dissolve the marriage and make order for ancillary relief and such order for divorce.

The bill also states so long as the spouse who has not converted to Islam does not file a petition for divorce in the civil court, the civil marriage of the spouses is deemed to be valid and continues under Act 164.

Other clauses included in the new bill seek to allow a party to a marriage who has converted to Islam or both parties to present a petition for a divorce before a civil court under Act 164.

At present, the right to present a petition for divorce is only given to the party who has not converted to Islam. Those who have converted to Islam cannot apply for divorce under the Islamic Family Law Act as the Shariah Courts does not have jurisdiction to hear any case where a non-Muslim is involved.

Rights to matrimonial assets

Other changes are to ensure the next-of-kin of the person converting to Islam who subsequently dies before the non-Muslim marriage is dissolved, shall be entitled to the matrimonial assets.

In making the distribution, the civil court shall have regard to the extent of the contributions made towards the acquisition of the assets, debts owing, the duration of the marriage and the needs of the children.

On a separate issue, under clause 3, the bill seeks to confer equal rights in giving consent for marriage to the mother or adopted mother of a person below 21 years of age, similar to that given to the father.

Azalina said the bill will be debated at this sitting, with the MPs then voting for or against the bill.

Yesterday, for the second time, the government withdrew the controversial bill which would have barred the unilateral conversion of children by any one parent.

The bill was tabled for first reading in the Dewan Rakyat last November and was to have been debated at this sitting.

The government’s move to amend the legislation comes following the controversy arising from two cases where the Muslim convert ex-husbands had unilaterally converted their children to Islam.

Full report at:



The Toxic Impact of Indonesia’s Abusive Blasphemy Law

Andreas Harsono

Aug 8, 2017

Donald Ignatius Suyanto, a chef living on the Hindu-majority island of Bali, on March 21, 2016 uploaded a video to YouTube in which he questioned the integrity of the Islamic shahada, or statement of faith. That prompted complaints from some Muslim bloggers and on July 27, 2017, police arrested Suyanto for blasphemy. He is currently behind bars awaiting trial.

In May 2017, Aking Saputra, a real estate executive in Karawang, West Java posted on Facebook his opinion that the majority of cadres of the Indonesian Communist Party, banned since 1966, had been Muslim clerics. A local Islamist group protested that those comments were blasphemous. Police arrested Saputra for blasphemy on June 9 and he is currently facing trial.

These are just two of the two dozen or so blasphemy prosecutions filed since President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo took office in October 2014, according to databases of the Setara Institute and the Southeast Asia Freedom of Expression Network, two Jakarta-based nongovernmental organizations. At least 10 of those prosecutions have produced convictions that have resulted in the imprisonment of 15 people. There have been zero acquittals. That compares to a total of 89 blasphemy prosecutions during the 2004-2014 administration of former President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and suggests that despite Jokowi’s rhetorical support for respecting human rights, he is content to allow abusive blasphemy prosecutions to continue unchecked.

The threat of Indonesia’s blasphemy law is nothing new. The law, article 156a of the Indonesian criminal code, was passed in 1965 and punishes deviations from the central tenets of Indonesia’s six officially recognized religions with up to five years in prison. The blasphemy law has been used to prosecute and imprison members of religious minorities and traditional religions. Recent targets of the blasphemy law include three former leaders of the Gafatar religious community following the violent forced eviction of more than 7,000 members of the group from their farms on Kalimantan island last year, as well as former Jakarta Governor Basuki “Ahok” Purnama, who a court sentenced to a two-year prison term for blasphemy in May 2017 due to a reference he made to a Quranic verse in September 2016.

Not even the 22-year-old son of Jokowi, Kaesang Pangarep, has been immune to blasphemy accusations. On July 6, 2017, a resident of Bekasi, outside of Jakarta, filed a complaint of “blasphemous” content in a video that Kaesang posted on YouTube. Police declined to pursue charges because of “lack of evidence.” Despite the law’s abusive nature, Indonesia’s Ministry of Religious Affairs is seeking to reinforce and expand its scope through the so-called Religious Rights Protection bill, which parliament is likely to debate by the end of 2017. The government’s refusal to abolish the law, despite pressure from both the United Nations as well as the Indonesian Legal Aid Foundation raises troubling questions about the government’s willingness to respect its international human rights obligations.

But there is a new and equally sinister form of abuse of the right of freedom of expression linked to the same strain of intolerance fueling the recent spate of blasphemy prosecutions: vigilante-style persecution by militant Islamists of individuals who publicly express support for Ahok or concern about the blasphemy law. Statistics compiled by the Southeast Asia Freedom of Expression Network indicate that militant Islamists have targeted at least 55 people since September 2016 with abuse including online threats, verbal harassment and physical intimidation.

Their victims include Dr. Otto Rajasa In Balikpapan, East Kalimantan province. On November 4, 2016, Rajasa wrote a Facebook posting questioning the rationale of fellow Muslims who travelled from Balikpapan to Jakarta for a huge Friday prayer-cum-protest organized by anti-Ahok militant Islamists. That prompted a campaign of online and offline harassment from individuals who accused Rajasa of blasphemy. On December 21, 2016, the Indonesian Ulama Council, an umbrella of Muslim groups in Indonesia, issued a non-legally binding edict that Rajasa was guilty of blasphemy. Within weeks, that campaign prompted his employer to transfer Rajasa to a remote area in reprisal for his remarks. Classmates and a teacher of his 14-year-old son tormented the boy by calling his father a “blasphemer.” Police detained Rajasa on May 23, 2017 and on July 26, the Balikpapan court sentenced him to a two-year prison term for “spreading online hostility and hatred against Muslims.”

Fiera Lovita, a doctor in Solok, West Sumatra, fled her home with her family on May 29, 2017 after members of the thuggish militant group the Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) subjected her and her family to a relentless barrage of threats and insults in response to critical Facebook comments she posted about the group’s leader, Rizieq Syihab. That intimidation peaked on May 23 when FPI members confronted her at her workplace and demanded that she delete those postings and issue a written apology to Syihab. Rather than arrest the FPI members implicated in those abuses, local police “mediated a dialogue” between the FPI and Lovita. Lovita and her family have now relocated to Jakarta and have no plans to return to Solok due to personal safety concerns.

Full report at:



'I'm Your Humble Friend,' Philippines' Anti-US Leader Tells Tillerson

Aug 8, 2017

Manila. Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte called himself a "humble friend" of the United States on Monday (07/08), taking a break from his notorious hostility toward Washington to grant a warm reception to visiting US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.

Duterte's often profanity-laden tirades against the United States has become his trademark during his year-old presidency, but he appeared happy to meet Tillerson, who was in Manila to attend a regional security meeting dominated by North Korea's missile tests, and maritime squabbles.

"I am happy to see you [...] and you have come at a time when the world is not so good, especially in the Korean peninsula, and of course, the ever nagging problem of South China Sea," Duterte told Tillerson at the presidential palace.

"I know you're worried there, because you also have domestic problems [...] We are friends. We are allies," Duterte said.

"I am your humble friend in Southeast Asia," he said.

The maverick leader makes no attempt to hide his grudge against the United States, which he has repeatedly chided for what he says is a history of hypocritical foreign policy, and for treating the Philippines "like a dog."

He last year announced to China his "separation" from Washington, has complained about being given "hand-me-down" US military hardware, and once invited American investors jittery about his remarks to pack their bags and leave.

But Duterte's biggest anger was directed at former President Barack Obama, whose administration spoke out against his signature war on drugs, a fierce crackdown that has killed thousands of Filipinos.

Duterte's warm words for Tillerson indicates Philippines-US ties under US President Donald Trump may be in better shape.

Though Duterte still vents about Washington, he has spoken positively about Trump, who praised him for doing "an unbelievable job on the drug problem."

Trump in an April phone call told Duterte he would invite him to the White House.

But when a US lawmaker recently said he would try to block that, Duterte said he would never go to the United States because "I've seen America and it's lousy."

Duterte said he and Tillerson discussed "many things" on Monday, but he did not give details.

The defense treaty alliance between the two countries remains strong and US forces have been providing the Philippines with technical assistance to fight militants allied with Islamic State. He last year repeatedly threatened to eject US military trainers and advisers.

Asked prior to his meeting if helping the Philippine military meant the United States was endorsing the government's bloody anti-drugs campaign, Tillerson said the two were unrelated.

Full report at:



South Asia


Taliban deny cooperating with Daesh in Afghan attack

Aug 7, 2017

The Taliban have rejected reports they used foreign fighters and cooperated with Daesh Takfiri militants in fighting at a remote village in northern Afghanistan this weekend where officials said dozens of local police and civilians were killed.

The Taliban said the claims were intended to discredit it. The movement sees Daesh, which is fighting to create a global caliphate, as a hostile force.

However, Afghan government officials quoted villagers as saying as many as 600 fighters, who appeared to include both Taliban and Daesh militants, had overrun Mirza Olang village in the northern province of Sar-e Pul on Saturday.

They said that many of the fighters appeared to be foreigners, speaking Turkmen, Uzbek and Punjabi, a language spoken in the Punjab region of Pakistan.

The reports appeared to offer support to claims that the Taliban have been using foreign fighters, but in a region with a patchwork of different ethnicities and national borders close by, establishing a true picture is difficult.

"The Afghan government and its foreign masters are making false claims that we are working with Daesh (Islamic State) just to discredit us in the local community," one Taliban commander said.

However, the Mirza Olang incident adds to the picture of growing insecurity across Afghanistan where many remote areas are completely out of government control.

Zabihullah Amani, a spokesman for the provincial governor, said that contact with the village was difficult, in part because fighters had been going house to house confiscating mobile telephones.

The Taliban said a force led by a commander named Ghazanfar had staged the attack and had killed 28 local police members but they denied using foreigners or cooperating with Daesh.

A senior Taliban member said the fighters were Uzbeks, but he did not say whether they were part of Afghanistan's substantial Uzbek minority or from Uzbekistan itself.

"We don't have Arabs, Turkmen or Pakistanis in that area. Only the Uzbek mujahideen took part in the fighting," he said.

Afghan officials say that villagers reported exceptionally brutal treatment in the Mirza Olang attack, including beheadings and victims being thrown off a cliff. The Taliban denied such killings.

"Our fighters didn't behead them but it's possible they were killed in fighting," said one senior Taliban member.



Indian Police Hunt Suspected Bangladeshi Terror Group Leader


Indian police launched a massive manhunt Monday for the suspected leader of a Bangladeshi terror cell believed to be operating in India, a day after a member of the group was arrested in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh, an official said.

The name of Mohammad Faizan, a Bangladeshi national, came up during the interrogation of Abdullah al-Mamon, another Bangladeshi who was arrested in the state’s Muzzaffarnagar town on Sunday, according to the official.

Al-Mamon, who had been staying in Uttar Pradesh since 2011, allegedly was involved in radicalizing and recruiting people for Ansarullah Bangla team (ABT), an al-Qaeda inspired extremist group which is banned in Bangladesh, police said, adding that Faizan was his handler.

“Abdullah has named quite a few of his colleagues, besides Faizan, during interrogation. We have started raiding his possible hideouts across Uttar Pradesh,” Senior Superintendent of Police of the state’s Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) Umesh Kumar Srivastava told BenarNews.

The ATS has sought a 14-day remand for al-Mamon to hold him for further questioning in order to unravel his alleged links in India, Srivastava said.

“Initial investigations have revealed that he was involved in making fake Indian identity cards for Bangladeshi citizens living illegally in India. He also made Faizan’s passport on the basis of false documents,” Srivastava said.

More than a dozen fake Indian I.D. cards, a passport and Islamic extremist literature were found among al-Mamon’s possessions, he said.

Bangladesh’s counter-terrorism chief, Monirul Islam, told BenarNews that they had identified the man arrested in India.

“He is from Tarakanda in Mymensingh and has been living in India for the last eight years,” he said.

Anniversary of blogger’s murder

Bangladeshi police have blamed ABT for the murders of six secular bloggers in the country between February 2015 and May 2016, including Niladri Chottopaddhya who was hacked to death exactly two years ago on Monday.

“Two years have passed but the police have not even submitted a charge-sheet so far. They don’t communicate with us anymore. We are losing hope,” Asha Moni, Chattopaddhya’s wife, told BenarNews.

Although the police have arrested eight suspects for Chattopaddhya’s murder, a charge-sheet has not yet been filed in court, investigating officer Bahauddin Faruki told BenarNews.

“I want to submit the charge-sheet as soon as possible. There is also some pressure from the authorities to finish the investigation quickly. But since this is a case of a militant attack, I need some more time,” Faruki said.

Millions living in India without proper papers

There is no accurate figure to determine the number of Bangladeshi nationals living illegally in India, but the government last year estimated the number to be close to 20 million.

Analysts called for the government to take serious and effective steps to tackle the cross-border infiltration into India by Bangladeshi criminal elements and religious extremists.

“The infiltration is continuing despite the government’s promise to control it. If even with so much vigilance at the borders and complete knowledge of intelligence and government agencies, the cross-over happens unabated, it needs to be investigated and from all sides,” said Amit Aryan, a right-wing activist.

“The illegal smuggling of weapons by Bangladeshis has been a long-known fact. The funds generated goes into aiding terror organizations. And since Bangladeshis look like Indians, it is hard to identify and arrest them,” he told BenarNews.

Retired Maj. Gen. Afsir Karim, a New Delhi-based security expert, said Indian security forces ought to step up action against undocumented Bangladeshis, who are considered a threat to Indian security.

Full report at:



Myanmar rejects allegations of human rights abuses against Rohingya

August 08, 2017

Myanmar on Sunday rejected allegations of crimes against humanity and ethnic cleansing during a crackdown against Rohingya Muslims last year, accusing the United Nations of making exaggerated claims in its report on the issue.

Rohingya militants killed nine border guards in October, sparking a response in which the army was accused of raping Rohingya women, shooting villagers on sight and burning down homes, sending an estimated 75,000 people fleeing to Bangladesh.

A UN report in February said security forces instigated a campaign that "very likely" amounted to crimes against humanity and possibly ethnic cleansing. This led to the establishment of a UN probe which is being blocked by Myanmar.

The country's own 13-member investigation team - led by former head of military intelligence and now Vice President, Myint Swe - has been dismissed by human rights monitors as lacking independence to produce a credible report.

Speaking to reporters gathered in Yangon to conclude its 8-month-long probe, Myint Swe said the UN report exaggerated the claims and created misunderstanding for the international community.

"There is no possibility of crimes against humanity, no evidence of ethnic cleansing, as per UN accusations," said Myint Swe.

He added that, "some people from abroad have fabricated news claiming genocide had occurred, but we haven't found any evidence."

The panel said that the UN report did not take into consideration "violent acts" committed by the insurgents, instead focusing on the activities of the security forces.

The UN did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The Myanmar commission had received 21 reports from villagers of incidents of murder, rape, arson and torture by the security forces, but, unable to verify their veracity, it referred them to the authorities.

"We opened doors for them to complain to the courts if they have evidence that they suffered human rights abuses, but no one came to open a lawsuit until now," Zaw Myint Pe, the secretary of the panel said.

The commission blamed the violence on the insurgents, accusing them of links to organizations abroad, "set up to destabilize and harm Myanmar".

The treatment of the roughly one million Muslim Rohingya has emerged as majority Buddhist Myanmar's most contentious rights issue as it makes a transition from decades of harsh military rule.

Full report at:



Key Taliban leader ‘Zarqawi’ killed during clashes in Nangarhar province

Aug 07 2017

A key Taliban leader who was famous as ‘Zarqawi’ was killed during the clashes with the security forces in eastern Nangarhar province.

The provincial government media office in a statement said clashes between the Taliban insurgents and the security forces broke out in Khogyani district earlier today, inflicting casualties to both sides.

The statement further added that two Taliban insurgents including one of their key commanders identified as Nematullah also famous as Zarqawi were killed.

At least two Taliban insurgents were also wounded during the clashes, the statement said, adding that the incident took place in Hakimabad area of Khogyani district at around 7 am local time.

The provincial government also added that a member of the Afghan national police also lost his life during the clashes.

The anti-government armed militant groups have not commented regarding the report so far.

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

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

Full report at:



North America


US 'mulling airstrikes against Islamic State in Philippines'

Nicola Smith

8 AUGUST 2017

The Pentagon is reportedly mulling plans to conduct airstrikes against Isil terrorist targets in the Philippines.

A recent surge of terrorist networks affiliated to Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isil), including an ongoing assault on the southern city of Marawi, has caused alarm in the Philippines and neighbouring countries that Islamic State could establish a regional southeast Asian hub even as it declines in the Middle East.

The authority to strike Isil targets as part of a strategy of collective defence could become part of a military operation that may be named as early as Tuesday, two defence officials told NBC News.

The strikes would likely be conducted by armed drones, a strategy already used across the Middle East, Pakistan and Afghanistan, and one which has a controversial record over allegations of civilian casualties.

If the Pentagon plan is approved, the US military would be able to conduct strikes against the Isil groups the Philippines forces are currently battling in the country’s southern islands.

The US has been sharing intelligence and had a counter-terrorism presence in the Philippines for 15 years.

Speaking at a meeting of Southeast Asian foreign ministers in the Philippine capital, Manila, on Monday, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said that Washington had already provided Cessna planes and UAVs (drones) for intelligence purposes.

“We’re providing them some training and some guidance in terms of how to deal with an enemy that fights in ways that are not like most people have ever had to deal with.”

Reports of US troops on the ground near the besieged city of Marawi emerged as early as June. Marawi, a Muslim-majority city of 200,000, was overrun by groups claiming allegiance to Isil in late May, and the Philippine military has been unable to regain full control.

The Americans were not fighting but “operating equipment to provide information on situation awareness to our troops,” said military spokesman Brigadier General Restituto Padilla in June.

President Rodrigo Duterte initially claimed he was “not aware” of their presence and that he had “never approached America” for help.

While seeking stronger ties with China, Mr Duterte has tried over the past year to distance himself from Washington, which he has accused of treating the Philippines like “dogs on a leash”.

On Monday, he changed his tone. “I am happy to see you,” Mr Duterte told Mr Tillerson at the presidential palace. “I am your humble friend in Southeast Asia.”



Trump asks 'tough questions' on Afghan mission: Tillerson

Aug 8, 2017

MANILA - President Donald Trump has asked his advisers "tough questions" about American strategy in Afghanistan and is not willing to continue on as before, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Monday.

The White House has launched a review of the US plan for Afghanistan after 16 years of war, and reports suggest that Trump's national security team is divided on whether to send more troops or to pull out. Speaking in Manila on the sidelines of a regional security forum, Tillerson did not reveal his own advice to the president - but said Trump would not be content with continuing the fight as before.

"The president is not willing to accept that, so he is asking some tough questions," Tillerson told reporters.

Tillerson said the president's National Security Council has met three times on the issue and that Vice President Mike Pence has joined Trump in taking a close interest in the strategy review.

"The president is asking some very, very pointed questions, and I think good questions that he should be asking," Tillerson said. "And perhaps these are questions that no-one has been willing to raise in the past," he continued.

"So we want to give him good thorough answers and good thorough analysis to go with that - a very clear-eyed view, a very realistic view of what the future is likely to look like." Trump's generals have called the Afghan conflict a "stalemate" and even after years of intensive help from the US and other NATO nations, Afghanistan's security forces are still struggling to hold back an emboldened Taliban. In an early move to address the situation, Trump gave his Pentagon chief, former general Jim Mattis, broad powers to set troop numbers. But several months later the level remains stuck at about 8,400 US and about 5,000 NATO troops.

Mattis wants to wait until the White House has come up with a coherent strategy for not just Afghanistan but the broader region, notably Pakistan and how it deals with terror groups, before he commits to adjustments.

But reports have suggested that other Trump advisers, including his influential strategy chief Steve Bannon, favor cutting American losses by pulling out or sending private military contractors to replace troops.

"How does this all play out and where does this go?" Tillerson asked, rhetorically.

"It's one thing to say we're just going to keep fighting because there's no other options. There are always other options," he said.

Full report at:



Saudi ambassador to Washington: US, allies realize magnitude of Iranian threat

8 August 2017

In his first media interview since taking the post of Riyadh’s ambassador to Washington, Saudi Prince Khaled bin Salman told The Washington Post that the United States and its allies realize “how big the Iranian threat is to international security and are ready to work together to contain Iranian actions and expansionist policies”.

The newly assigned Saudi Ambassador also described the Saudi-US relations as strong and improving since President Donald Trump took office.

“There is a huge improvement in the Saudi-US relationship under this administration. I think that President Trump is determined to work with his allies in the region to counter Iranian expansionism and terrorism. We are happy with the current policies in the region,” Ambassador Prince Khaled told the Lally Weymouth, a senior associate editor at The Washington Post.

His interview with Weymouth touched upon multiple topics pertaining to the Middle East, especially on the Syria, Yemen and Iraqi front and warned of Iran’s overreaching negative influence on several parties.

“Yes, sectarianism always leads to terrorism. The Sunnis and [Shiites] have to be treated equally as Iraqi citizens. Iran wants Iraq to obey Iran. We support the independence of Iraq,” Prince Khaled said.

Full report at:



Canada sees rising tide of migrants from the US

07 August 2017

The flow of migrants, mostly Haitians fearing expulsion from the United States, has surged in recent weeks on Canada's southern border, with requests for asylum tripling since mid-July, officials say.

More than 100 persons were processed Sunday morning, while 50 others waited patiently to register with the Canadian border services.

Most of them were Haitians but they included some Yemenis and Somalis.

Once registered, the migrants are taken to a transit center, and from there sent on to Montreal, where they are housed while authorities consider their requests for asylum.

Montreal's Olympic stadium has been turned into a shelter for more than 1,000 people.

An estimated 450 to 700 migrants traverse the border each week at the Lacolle crossing point, according to the head of the union representing customs and immigration workers, Jean-Pierre Fortin.

Quebec's immigration minister Kathleen Weil said this week that asylum requests averaged 50 a day in the first half of July, but "the pace has surpassed 150 requests."

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Friday promised that Canada would step up its efforts to handle the surge.

But he also appealed to those seeking asylum to go through proper immigration channels rather than cross the border illegally.

The wave of Haitians coming into the country stems from their loss of "temporary protected status" in the United States, which was granted to 60,000 Haitians after the Caribbean nation was devastated by a 2010 earthquake.

Full report at:



Think Your Kids Aren’t Vulnerable to ISIS Recruitment? Think Again


WASHINGTON – Homegrown terrorism is a major national security threat to the United States in the 21st century because of the combination of violent extremist ideology and the internet.

Last week, 22-year-old, of Topeka, Kansas, was sentenced to 30 years in federal prison for attempting to detonate a car bomb on the Fort Riley military base.

Agents say he tried to connect wires to what he believed was a bomb inside of a van. What he didn't know was the device was fake -- provided by an FBI informant. Thankfully, federal authorities had him under surveillance for months.

Authorities say, Booker, who pleaded guilty last year, acted on behalf of the ISIS terror network.

"Mr. Booker was a young man who born in Kansas, raised in Kansas, went to school in Kansas but somehow became lost," said former U.S. Attorney of Kansas Barry Grisson. "He became self-radicalized in the basement watching jihad tapes and adopted a perverse notion on what Islam was."

Grissom says the FBI investigation began after Booker posted on Facebook that he wanted to commit jihad.

"Booker tried to enlist in the U.S. Army to commit an inside attack against American soldiers," said Grissom. "The notion that we can build a wall, that we can deny visas for folks who want to do our citizens harm as if that is going to address any issues we have, is completely wrong. Our biggest problem in law enforcement right now is the lone wolf."

Terror experts say people who feel disenfranchised from society as a whole and are looking for something bigger than themselves are targets for groups like ISIS. Many times these people are not on government watch lists because they've never been arrested.

Sources say the FBI has over 1,000 active terrorism investigations in all 50 states.  Also, at least 250 people have attempted to or have traveled from the U.S. to join extremist groups in Syria or Iraq. Since March 2014, 128 individuals have been charged with terrorism-related activities in connection with the Islamic State.

Experts call it a 'homegrown' phenomenon in the truest sense of the word.

"They are vying for our youth. They are trying to attract them. There is a whole long list of various groups, " said Christianne Boudreau, who lost her son, Damian, to ISIS.

While growing up in Calgary, Boudreau remembers Damian as warm and compassionate. That all changed in high school. At 17, feeling disconnected from his classmates, Damian converted to Islam. She had no idea what was coming when Damian told her he wanted to study Arabic in Egypt. In reality, the 22-year-old headed instead to Syria to join ISIS fighters.

 "At the end of January 2013, that's when our Canadian equivalent to the FBI showed up at the door step and said they've been watching him for almost two years," she recalled.

In November 2012, Damian died during rebel infighting.

Boudreau now runs Hayat Canada Family support and Mothers for Life to provide support and outreach for those affected by violent extremism.

Full report at:





'GT road party' will be buried on GT road'-Qadri hits PML-N

August 08, 2017

Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) Chairman Tahir-ul-Qadri reached Allama Iqbal Airport, Lahore today.

According to media reports, large numbers of PAT supporters are workers are present outside the airport to welcome Qadri. He will go to Nasir Bagh for a public gathering in shape of caravan. He will also go to Data Darbar Lahore.

Almost 1,000 policemen are being allocated for the security at Airport whereas 3,000 personnel will be present during the of rally in Nasir Bagh.

While talking to media, Qadri stated that it seems that blood of Model Town martyrs resulted in Nawaz Sharif's disqualification through Panama Leaks.

"This is punishment for rulers by Allah Almighty," he said.

The PAT Chairman further stated that Pakistan is his home, his country. "The blood of my workers spilled in this country and I will get justice for it till end of my breath," he said.

Qadri praised the verdict of Supreme Court in Panama Leaks case. "It seems that doors of justice has started opening in Pakistan and we are now hopeful that martyrs of Model Town will get the justice," he said.

"Supreme Court ousted the Prime Minister disgracefully and he should stay in his home silently," Qadri said.

While discussing Article 62, PAT Chairman said that four years ago, he gave a lecture to Pakistani nation on this and today it has shown its power. "Supreme Court disqualified him on Article 62 not on other allegations or cases against him," Qadri maintained.

Qadri hit Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) calling it a 'GT road party'. "The GT road party will be buried on GT road," he said.

He further asked Nawaz Sharif on whose orders he is conducting this rally. "Who is behind it, you should tell it whole nation clearly," Qadri urged Nawaz.



Pakistan: Sindhi cleric accuses minority-friendly Hindu lawmaker of being a RAW agent

August 8, 2017

A Sindhi cleric has alleged that a Pakistani Hindu lawmaker known for opposing forced conversions of minorities, is a Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) agent, the news agency ANI reported on Tuesday.

Lal Chand Malhi, a legislator nominated in 2013 by cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan's Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf, is "being targeted for his stance against" such conversions, feminist and lawyer Shumaila Hussain Shahani tweeted.

In other tweets, Shahani said the cleric, Peer Jaan Sarhandi, is "notorious for forced conversions" and that accusations such as the one Malhi now faces are a "common tool of harassment and blackmailing."

She posted the video of the Umerkot rally where Sarhandi called Malhi an Indian spy.

Allegations of links to RAW have also been famously foisted on Kulbhushan Jadhav, an Indian national captive in Pakistan without consular access, and controversially sentenced to death by a military court.


Lal Chand Malhi, a working member of Pakistan's Human Rights Commission, was the MNA (Member of National Assembly who tabled a 2016 resolution in which the top lawmaking body asked former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's government to put an end to fored conversions and marriages of minority women,  ANI's report said.

Each year, forced conversions of many as 1,000 girls - most of them Hindus - take place in Pakistan, the South Asia Partnership-Pakistan says.

Pakistan's Sindh province is home to its largest Hindu population, and reportedly witnesses several abductions and conversions of girls from the community.

Full report at:



Blast on Lahore's Outfall Road leaves 46 injured

Imran Gabol

August 08, 2017

LAHORE: Up to 46 people were injured, of them four critical, when an explosion occurred in a truck at a parking stand on Outfall Road on Monday evening.

According to eyewitnesses, it was a powerful blast which damaged, partially or heavily, more than 100 vehicles, such as cars, mini-trucks and motorcycles parked at the stand. Up to 46 people were also injured.

One of the eyewitnesses said three or four cars parked by the truck went airborne about 10 to 15 feet due to the impact of the blast. He said windowpanes of a nearby building were also shattered while the roof of a school building in the vicinity also collapsed due to the blast.

A large number of people in the area came out on roads after the explosion. The blast was heard in several areas of the city in the radius of four to five kilometres of the site. The high voltage wires (132kV) from Saggian Grid Station were also damaged leaving the area in darkness.

According to the police authorities, the initial investigation suggested that the truck was carrying crates of apricot being transported from Swat to the city. The truck had been at the stand for the last three days.

Authorities have yet to ascertain the exact route of the truck from Swat to Lahore.

Officials said a huge cache of explosives had been stored in the truck. They were trying to assess the exact weight of the explosives.

The injured were taken to Services and Mian Munshi hospitals from where 12 of them were discharged after first aid.

Four people suffering life-threatening injuries were admitted to the Mayo Hospital.

Deputy Inspector General Dr Haider Ashraf said the attackers might have been intending to transport the explosives to other areas of the city.

According to Rescue 1122 officials, the powerful explosion left a 10 to 15 feet crater on the spot.

Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif took notice of the incident and sought its report from Capital City Police Officer Amin Wains. He also directed the authorities to investigate the incident.

Some officials said they feared that the explosives-laden truck might have been arranged to target the caravan of ousted prime minister Nawaz Sharif who was earlier scheduled to arrive in the city on Sunday from Islamabad. His rally would have passed by the point as per the earlier plan.

Full report at:



Ghani, Abbasi vow to fight terrorism

August 08, 2017

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and Afghan President Ashraf Ghani agreed to work together not only against the menace of terrorism but also to meet the challenge of energy in the region in their first telephone contact on Monday.

The last known contact between the leaders of the two neighbouring countries was made when ousted prime minister Nawaz Sharif and President Ghani met on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation meeting in Astana about two months ago.

Both sides in the Astana meeting had agreed to use the Quadrilateral Coordination Group (QCG) mechanism as well as bilateral channels to undertake specific actions against terrorist groups and to evolve, through mutual consultation, a mechanism to monitor and verify such actions.

However, relationship between the two countries remains cold till date, as the two sides continued to blame each other for acts of terrorism in their respective countries.

On Monday, President Ghani phoned PM Abbasi and congratulated him on his election as the new chief executive of the country, said a PM Office statement.

It added that the Afghan leader expressed satisfaction over the smooth transition and said that it was good for democracy in Pakistan.

The brief statement did not mention any other thing from President Ghani.

PM Abbasi thanked the president and said that terrorism was a common threat for both the countries.

“We will work with Afghanistan for security and stability in the region,” the PM said, adding that terrorism was a common enemy and “we will work together to eliminate this menace from the region”.

“It was agreed to work together to address the challenge of energy in the region and improve the economic condition in Pakistan and Afghanistan,” the statement concluded.

Afghan allegations against Khyber-IV operation rejected

Also on Monday, the Foreign Office rejected the allegations levelled by the governor of Afghan province of Kunar that the Khyber-IV military operation was meant to push militants into Afghanistan.

An FO spokesperson in a statement underlined that such statements were contrary to the spirit and understanding arrived at during recent engagements at the leadership level of the two countries. “Such media headlines are misleading and part of the malicious campaign.”

“Khyber-IV is part of the ongoing counterterrorism operation Radd-ul-Fasaad. Our security forces have achieved success in fighting back terrorists,” the statement said, adding: “The political leadership of the two countries had agreed that the two sides would coordinate and cooperate in their action to eradicate the menace of terrorism, which is a common challenge.”

Full report at:



Iran regards Pakistan’s security as its own: Rouhani

Monitoring Desk

August 08, 2017

KARACHI: Iran regards Pakistan’s security as its own security, President Hassan Rouhani said on Monday, stressing that the two countries have the potential for combating terrorism and ensuring regional security.

During a meeting with Senate Chairman Raza Rabbani in Tehran, the Iranian president said terrorism posed a major threat to the region and security was currently the most important issue. “All regional countries must cooperate with each other to fight and eliminate terrorism,” Mr Rouhani said, according to Iran’s Press TV.

Iran and Pakistan were strategically important to one another, he said and expressed Tehran’s determination to expand relations with Islamabad in science and technology, culture and energy.

Mr Rabbani, who was leading a Senate delegation to Iran to attend Mr Rouhani’s inauguration for a second presidential term, said relations between the two countries were based on religious, historical and cultural commonalities. “Pakistan will spare no effort to promote relations with Iran,” he said.

The two countries had a common stance on regional and international issues, he said and stressed the importance of bolstering cooperation in economic, security, parliamentary and energy as well as in the fight against terrorism.

The Senate chairman also thanked Iran for its principled stand on Kashmir which was recently expressed by the country’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the APP news agency reported, citing a press release issued on Monday.

The Kashmiri people were suffering the worst kind of torture at the hands of occupied Indian forces who were using new tactics of brutalities such as pellet guns, blinding hundreds of innocent Kashmiris as a result, Mr Rabbani informed the Iranian president.

Mr Rouhani recalled his two visits to Pakistan during the past one year and hoped that bilateral relations would continue to improve.

Full report at:



References against Nawaz family: Monitoring judge’s appointment challenged

August 08, 2017

LAHORE: The appointment of Justice Ijazul Ahsan of the Supreme Court as monitoring judge in references to be filed by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) against former prime minister Nawaz Sharif and his other family members has been challenged before the apex court.

Barrister Zafarullah Khan of the Watan Party filed a petition at the Lahore registry saying the Panama case judgment delivered by the apex court and disqualification of an elected prime minister without trial would be remembered mostly for the infirmity of legal reasons, for question it raises about the integrity of the process leading to the verdict and for distorting institutional balance of power.

The petitioner contends that the very purpose of fair trial under Article 10-A of the Constitution is impossible if a judge of the SC continues to monitor the whole process from the joint investigation team (JIT) to NAB and the accountability court.

He argues that affected party cannot get fair trial from a lower court, which will remain prejudice by the apex court’s constant monitoring. He points out that there is no precedent that a Supreme Court judge had monitored a specific case in lower courts. Furthermore, he says, the NAB ordinance does not have any clause for monitoring of the court’s proceedings by a superior court judge.

Barrister Khan submitted that the judiciary of Pakistan unfortunately does not have an illustrious history when it comes to standing up for democracy and constitutionalism or exhibiting allegiance to the scheme of institutional checks and balances.

He asks the court to declare the appointment of Justice Ahsan as monitoring judge in the NAB references against the Sharif family null and void for being violative to right to fair trial under Article 10-A of the Constitution. He pleads that the monitoring of the trial court proceedings by a judge of the SC would obstruct the course of justice.

Full report at:



‘Multiple’ militant outfits behind law enforcers’ killings in Karachi

August 07, 2017

KARACHI: Contrary to their previous assumption that one single group has been targeting policemen and retired personnel of law enforcement agencies, counterterrorism officials now conclude that there are numerous splinter groups — of either outlawed Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan or Lashkar-i-Jhangvi — responsible for the spate of attacks in recent months, it emerged on Sunday.

“There are multiple groups involved in targeted killings of policemen in the city,” said Counter-Terrorism Department’s chief Additional Inspector General Sanaullah Abbasi.

He said the CTD assessed that there were apparently separate militant groups involved in around half a dozen acts of terrorism in the metropolis as their modus operandi were different in each case.

They were operating in the East and West zones of the police’s organisational structure.

A CTD assessment about recent targeted killings revealed that one group was almost certainly linked with the new outfit Ansar al-Sharia. Militants from banned Jundullah might have also joined this new outfit.

“This group, however, is made up of educated and media savvy individuals, who are equally concerned not only with their targeting of police officials but also with winning public perception and delegitimising the state,” said Mr Abbasi.

The other groups were “less calculated in their approach”, according to the CTD analysis, which added that at least one such group was a possible offshoot of the banned TTP or Jamaat-ul-Ahrar.

Other groups were likely to be affiliated with the militant Islamic State group and/or LJ offshoots.

“There may also still be some remnants of Naeem Bukhari’s faction of the banned LJ who are now either operating independently following Bukhari’s arrest or forming new splinters with other groups,” said the CTD analysis.

The CTD assessment about the killings showed that Dawood Mehsud, a former policeman who has become the TTP-Karachi chief, might have led a group for targeting law enforcers.

However, the CTD said that there were also some indications that Mehsud might have died or had switched his allegiance to the IS.

In June, four policemen were shot dead by armed pillion riders when they were sitting at a roadside eatery in SITE to break their fast. The responsibility of the attack was claimed by the Ansar-ul-Sharia Pakistan.

It appeared later that the attackers were more “dangerous and trained” as if they had come from war zone, believed Abbasi.

He disclosed that the CCTV footage showed the attackers wearing “commando jackets” and sparing the life of a civilian who witnessed the gory incident.

In July, three policemen and a passer-by were shot dead by six armed assailants in Korangi. The gunmen had opened indiscriminate firing on the policemen. One of the policemen fell down in a storm-water drain but the culprits chased him and fired at him.

The killers, according to the CTD, lacked “precision”.

“It appeared that there was also an element of vengeance behind the targeted killings of the three policemen in Korangi,” said the CTD chief.

Also in July, a traffic policeman, Mohammed Khan, was gunned down and another wounded by armed assailants on busy Abul Hasan Ispahani Road in Gulshan-i-Iqbal.

The CCTV footage obtained from the crime scene showed that one attacker was wearing pants and shirt.

He said that the outlawed TTP had established at least five different groups in the country to carry out terror acts.

One of such groups was known to the counterterrorism officials as the “Special Task Force (STF) of the TTP”.

The CTD assessment indicated that the STF was a “dangerous group” that appeared to be active in Karachi and other parts of the country.

This group has been tasked with carrying out attacks on the police and personnel of other law enforcement agencies.

“Presently, this group [STF] seems to be very active in Karachi and members of this group have expertise in making small IEDs [improvised explosive devices],” said the CTD head.

Referring to a task force led by the Rangers director general and comprising officials of CTD, intelligence agencies, etc, he said each terrorism case was being discussed by it and assessments of threat were also made to chalk out future strategies.

He said apart from recent killings of law enforcers in the city, the security officials were also working on the deadly Sehwan blast and the escape of two high-profile LJ militants from the Karachi central prison.

“There are some positive developments in all these high-profile cases,” he said, without elaborating.

Full report at:



3 terrorists killed, 4 arrested in Karachi raids: CTD

Imtiaz Ali

August 07, 2017

The Counter-Terrorism Department (CTD) on Monday claimed to have foiled a terror bid in Karachi by arresting four suspected terrorists and killing three others during counter-terrorism operations in different parts of the city on Sunday night.

According to the CTD, three raids were carried out as a result of a rise in terrorist activities in the city over the past month.

The operations were carried out in Machhar Colony and near MA Jinnah road after the CTD was tipped off about the presence of terrorists with ties to the banned Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) in the areas, the CTD said.

The dead terrorists have not been identified, the CTD said, adding that those arrested had admitted to killing a police sub-inspector in 2015.

According to the CTD, the terrorists had planned to target jamaat-khanas belonging to the Aga Khani community, imambargahs and shrines.

One Kalashnikov, five pistols, and a home-made bomb were recovered from the possession of the suspected terrorists.

The CTD also claimed to have dismantled two sleeper cells in the overnight raids.

Just a day before these counter-terror operations, the CTD had concluded, contrary to their previous assumption that a single group had been targeting policemen and retired law enforcement personnel, that numerous splinter groups with ties to the outlawed TTP or Lashkar-i-Jhangvi are responsible for the spate of attacks in recent months.

“There are multiple groups involved in targeted killings of policemen in the city,” CTD chief Additional Inspector General Sanaullah Abbasi had said on August 6.

A CTD assessment about recent targeted killings revealed that one group was almost certainly linked with a new terror outfit Ansar al-Sharia. Militants from the banned Jundullah group might have also joined this new outfit.

“This group, however, is made up of educated and media savvy individuals, who are equally concerned, not only with their targeting of police officials, but also with winning public perception and delegitimising the state,” Abbasi had said.

According to Abbasi, the outlawed TTP has established at least five different groups in the country to carry out terror acts.

The CTD's assessment indicated that the TTP's Special Task Force was a “dangerous group” that appeared to be active in Karachi and other parts of the country.

This group has been tasked with carrying out attacks on the police and personnel of other law enforcement agencies.

Referring to a task force led by the Rangers director general and comprising officials of CTD, intelligence agencies and others, Abbasi had said each terrorism case was being discussed by the counter-terror body and threat assessments were also made to chalk out future strategies.

Full report at:



Raksha Bandhan celebrated at Gurdwara Punja Sahib

Amjad Iqbal

August 08, 2017

TAXILA: Hundreds of Hindus and Sikhs observed the festival of Raksha Bandhan, commonly known as rakhi, on Monday at the Gurdwara Punja Sahib in Hassanabdal.

Women tie rakhi on the wrists of their brothers and pray for their safety while the brothers promise to protect their sisters forever and also give them presents. Those observing the religious festival dress up for the occasion and the holy thread is usually tied at a time prescribed by pundits.

“When a woman ties a thread around a man’s wrist, he will not forget the meaning of the bond established the next day. He will look out for that woman for the rest of his life. This is a serious responsibility,” said Neha Kumari, who was observing the ritual.

“Though the festival is now observed between siblings, it began as an honourable relationship between strangers. Some years ago, two women to whom I was not related by blood made me their brother. They are now married and live in India but always send me a rakhi every year,” said Ratan Kumar, who belongs to Shakirpur and also made a new sister at the temple. Another participant explained that Raksha Bandhan translates to the bond of protection.

According to Evacuee Trust Property Board’s (ETPB) Deputy Secretary Shrines Syed Faraz Abbas, Rakhsha Bandhan begins on the full moon in the Hindu month of Shravan and could go on for seven days.

According to the Hindu history, the festival dates back to the Vedic period when deities and demons were fighting on a poornima, or a full moon night of the Hindu month of Shravan.

The king of the deities, Lord Indra, was worried as the demons were in a stronger position so his wife, Indrani (also known as Shashikala) prepared a magical thread and tied it to Indra’s right wrist.

The thread protected him and the deities and they won the battle. The magic was called Raksha Sutra and later renamed to Raksha Bandhan.

The festival takes place on a poornima day in Shravan each year.

Addressing the Bhog ceremony, which marks the conclusion of the three-day festival, ETPB Additional Secretary Shrines Tariq Wazir said the government was committed to ensuring religious freedom in Pakistan and that the ETPB was making efforts so all important religious days were celebrated.

Other than Sikh temples, the board is also looking after the nine mandirs in the country, he said, adding free boarding and lodging facilities were provided to the pilgrims at the Punja Sahib. He said funds had also been allocated for talented students from minority communities.

Assistant Commissioner Jannat Hussein also visited the temple and talked to the Hindu and Sikh pilgrims about the facilities provided to them and issued necessary orders on individual requests.

Talking to mediapersons, the AC said about 1,400 pilgrims were visiting the Punja Sahib to observe rakhi and that the ETPB, local administration and the TMA were making efforts to make the stay of the pilgrims comfortable. Though there is no specific security threat, a three-layer security plan has also been put in place.

Vendors inside the temple had set up stalls for selling rakhi, which came in many colours and designs and the prices for which varied between Rs100 and Rs700. The more expensive rakhi were imported from Hyderabad Deccan, India.

“They have zircon, beads and rudraksha seeds. The combination helps ward of the evil eye and brings good luck to whoever will wear them,” said Sharma Kumar, a vendor.

Full report at:



Efforts must continue to uphold supremacy of constitution: COAS


ISLAMABAD: Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa on Monday said that efforts must continue in collaboration with other national institutions to defeat terrorism in order to establish the rule of law and uphold the supremacy of constitution in the country, according to the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR).

"Efforts must continue, in concert with other elements of national power to defeat terrorism/militancy in order to establish rule of law and uphold supremacy of constitution," the COAS said while presiding over the 203rd Corps Commanders' conference held at the General Headquarters (GHQ). The forum undertook a comprehensive review of internal and external security environment and deliberated upon regional security situation, especially the situation in Afghanistan. The conference reaffirmed its commitment to work for regional peace and security. "We look forward to a trust based mutual cooperation in this regard which can achieve the policy ends of enduring regional peace," Gen Bajwa said.

The conference was briefed about situation along the Line of Control (LoC) and Indian violations of the ceasefire agreement. The forum acknowledged positive long-term effects being achieved through Operation Radd ul Fasaad, according to the ISPR. The army chief especially appreciated successful conduct of Operation Khyber 4 in the most inhospitable terrain of Rajgal with minimal own casualties. He said the achievement made possible through high standards of professionalism of Pakistan Army. The army chief also expressed satisfaction on army's commitment to national defence and security.



Arab World


US forces attack Popular Mobilization Units base, kill 30: Report

Aug 7, 2017

US forces have reportedly attacked an Iraqi military base affiliated to the country’s Popular Mobilization Units (PMU), killing over 30 troops and injuring many more.

According to a statement released by the Sayaed al-Shuhada brigades on their website on Monday, their base was targeted by US artillery fire and smart bombs.

In the statement, the brigades called on the Iraqi government to launch an extensive investigation into the incident, while noting that the US’ actions will not remain unanswered.

Iraq's Hashd al-Sha’abi forces retake 17 villages southeast of Tal Afar from Daesh

The PMUs, aka Hashd al-Sha’abi, is a group of Shia and Sunni fighters that was formed after the emergence of the Takfiri Daesh terrorist group in Iraq in 2014. In the early days of Daesh’s terror campaign, the then-volunteer fighters played a major role in reinforcing the Iraqi army, which had suffered heavy setbacks in the face of lightning advances by the terrorists.

Last November, the Iraqi parliament recognized Hashd al-Sha’abi as an official force with similar rights as those of the regular army.

The Hashd al-Sha’abi forces are now actively cooperating with Iraqi forces in operations to rid the whole country of Daesh elements.



Syria: Tens of Gunmen Receive Gov't Amnesty in Northeastern Aleppo

Aug 07, 2017

The sources said that the Syrian authorities pardoned 78 gunmen of the Northern Syrian city of Manbij in accordance with amnesty decree issued in 2016 after the latter vowed not to participate in any activities affecting the country's security.

The Russian Defense Ministry said in its latest report on Saturday that gunmen in more regions have ended fight with Syrian government forces, adding, "The total number of regions, towns and villages that have thus far endorsed peace agreement with Damascus stands at 2,131."

The ministry added that talks are underway between the government officials and representatives of militants in the province of Aleppo, Damascus, Hama, Homs, Quneitra and Damascus to join the peace plan.



KSA-led coalition agrees to allow fuel for UN aid planes

Aug 8, 2017

UNITED NATIONS - The Saudi-led coalition fighting in Yemen will lift hurdles hampering deliveries of jet fuel for UN planes bringing humanitarian aid to the rebel-held capital Sanaa, the UN spokesman said Monday.

The UN Development Program last week said it was having trouble operating two humanitarian flights into Sanaa from Amman, Jordan because there was no fuel available in the Yemeni capital for the planes to make the return trip.

Auke Lootsma, the UNDP’s country director, said the coalition and the Saudi-backed Yemeni government were denying permission to transport the fuel to Sanaa from the government-controlled port of Aden.

“The fuel will be moving this week from Aden to Sanaa,” UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric told reporters.

He added that the United Nations is seeking a concrete arrangement for fuel deliveries to allow the UN flights to provide regular deliveries of aid.

“We ask authorities for a mechanism to help ensure regular delivery of aviation fuel for UN operations,” he said.

The United Nations has declared Yemen the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, with a deadly outbreak of cholera, famine threatening 7 million people and a war in which civilian targets have been hit.

The Saudi-led coalition has repeatedly been accused of blocking aid to Yemen, one of the Arab world’s poorest countries, which has been brought to its knees since the military campaign began in March 2015.

Dujarric stressed that all sides in the conflict were hindering aid deliveries to Yemeni people who are caught in an “unspeakable humanitarian crisis.”

Yemen’s health system has collapsed during the war pitting coalition forces against Iran-backed Shiite Huthi rebels.

On Sunday, Saudi Arabia pledged $33.7 million to help fight cholera in Yemen, which has killed nearly 2,000 people since April with 436,000 suspected cases.

Full report at:



Syrian army increases strikes on capital's last rebel enclave

Aug 8, 2017

AMMAN - The Syrian army intensified shelling and air strikes on the last rebel enclave in the Syrian capital on Monday, its heaviest bombardment in a two-month military campaign, rebels and witnesses said.

From the strategic Qasyoun Heights that overlooks Damascus, elite units of the army struck Jobar district, some 2 km (1.2 miles) east of the Old City wall and Ain Terma just to the south.

The offensive has dented a Russian-sponsored ceasefire announced two weeks ago in the Eastern Ghouta area to the east of Damascus.

Scores have been injured and at least ten civilians killed in three days of bombardment, civil defence sources said. Less intense shelling hit Zamalka, Harasta and Kafr Btna, also in Eastern Ghouta.

If successful, the campaign would help the army in its eventual goal of regaining Eastern Ghouta, which has been under opposition control for much of the six-year conflict. Jobar is in northeast Damascus and borders the Eastern Ghouta district of Ain Terma. The army is also using more elephant rockets - inaccurate improvised munitions often made from gas canisters and fired on a high trajectory - insurgents said. "The elephant rockets are not having mercy on us. We have dug tunnels and fortified our positions so they are unable to advance," said Abu Obada al Shami, a commander from Failaq al Rahman, the rebel group whose fighters are drawn from the area.

The rebel battle to keep their last foothold in Damascus follows the loss earlier this year of Qaboun and Barzeh districts, located north of Jobar, after intense bombardment. Before the war began in 2011, more than half a million people lived in Eastern Ghouta, a sprawling mix of towns and farmland. Two residents said Ain Terma was now a ghost town, with only a few hundred families taking shelter in basements after most former residents fled to other towns in Eastern Ghouta.

"Life is non-existent. Permanent terror and people are not coming out of their basements," said Abdullah al-Khatib, a former electrician, who lives there with his eight-member family.

Rebels accuse the Syrian army and its Iran-backed allies of breaking the Russia-brokered truce in Eastern Ghouta to throw its full weight against Jobar and Ain Terma.

The government has said it will abide by the truces Russia has brokered but says it continues to target Islamist militant factions not covered by the agreement.

Full report at:



Syrian Army Scores More Victories in War on Terrorism in Eastern Homs

Aug 07, 2017

The army soldiers engaged in fierce clashes with ISIL South-East of Jubb al-Jarah region and pushed the terrorists back from the village of Manoukh Northeast of Jubab Hamd region.

In the meantime, the army's missile units and aircraft pounded ISIL's positions in the battlefield, destroying several military vehicles and killing a number of their crew.

Earlier reports said that the army aircraft launched repeated air assaults on ISIL's movements and concentration centers in the towns and villages of Um Sahriaj, East of al-Tayebeh, Toweinan and Humeimeh near Deir Ezzur's provincial border with Homs, destroying several command centers, vehicles and military equipment of the terrorists.

Also, the warplanes targeted ISIL's gathering centers in the villages of al-Khashabiyeh, al-Fasedeh, Abu Habilat, Jani al-Bawi, al-Dakileh Shomali and Salba in Eastern Hama.

Full report at:



ISIL Fails Again to Prevail over Syrian Army Positions in Deir Ezzur

Aug 07, 2017

The army men engaged in heavy fighting with ISIL that had attacked the pro-government forces' positions from the village of al-Baqaliyeh and repelled their offensive after hours of clashes.

The army soldiers also exchanged fire with ISIL in al-Maqaber (cemetery) region, around Regiment 137 base and Deir Ezzur base.

In the meantime, the fighter jets bombed heavily ISIL's positions and movements in al-Sina'ah neighborhood, around Tal (hill) Alloush, power company in the Southern outskirts of Deir Ezzur city and the village of al-Jafrah South-East of the city, inflicting heavy casualties on the terrorists.

Local sources reported that Abu Mohammad Khorsani, a notorious commander of ISIL, has fled following the terrorist groups' defeats in battle.   

Earlier reports said that the army men engaged in heavy fighting with ISIL in al-Maqaber region, Panorama base, Deir Ezzur base and al-Baqaliyeh.

In the meantime, the warplanes bombed heavily ISIL's positions in Panorama, al-Ma'amel region, Jonayd Division base, Tamin Brigade base, power company, the neighborhoods of al-Omal and al-Hamidiyeh and the villages of al-Tabni, al-Shamitiyeh and al-Boytiyeh.

Full report at:



ISIS may have fired rockets into Lebanon, security source says

7 August 2017

ISIS may have fired seven Grad rockets into Lebanon on Monday from its enclave on the border with Syria, without causing any injuries, a Lebanese security source said.

It would mark the first use of those weapons by ISIS fighters there for several years, and comes as the Lebanese army prepares for an expected assault on their enclave.

The rockets fell around the town of al-Qaa and led the Lebanese army to shell ISIS positions in the hills nearby, the source said.

Fighters from ISIS and the former Nusra Front group established pockets in the rugged border area near the Lebanese town of Arsal early in the six-year Syrian civil war, the biggest spillover of the violence so far into Lebanon.

Lebanon's Shi'ite Hezbollah group late last month forced the Nusra fighters to quit their pocket after a brief offensive, and the Lebanese army is expected to launch an assault on the ISIS enclave soon.

Full report at:



External powers targeting Arab identity, unity, says Syrian president

Aug 7, 2017

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad says foreign powers have desperately attempted to divide Arab nations by targeting their identity and igniting strife among them.

“The external interventions will continue with the aim of changing our identity and dividing us into communities and small groups,” Assad said on Monday, Syria's official news agency, SANA, reported.

The Syrian president made the remarks in Damascus during a meeting with a parliamentary delegation comprising members of a number of Tunisian parties headed by Mbarka Brahmi.

The external powers use similar methods to divide Arab nations, but under different titles and names, he stressed.

Elsewhere in his remarks, Assad stressed the need for the exchange of high-level delegations between Syria and Tunisia for further cooperation.

Such parliamentary delegations can be helpful in exchanging expertise and creating a state of dialogue not only about the current situation, but also about the future, the president pointed out.

For their part, members of the Tunisian delegation said that they came to Damascus to convey a message of support for the Syrian government and people, who have long resisted foreign-backed terrorist groups.

They also hailed the ongoing reconciliation process among various echelons of the Syrian society and their resolve to achieve victory against the foreign-backed militancy in their country.

Syria has been gripped by a deadly conflict since March 2011. The government has repeatedly blamed certain foreign countries for the spread of the devastating militancy.      

Over the past few months, Syrian forces have made sweeping gains against Takfiri elements, which have in turn increased their acts of violence across the country.

Tunisia, too, has experienced violence since the 2011 uprising that ousted the country’s dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, who was in power for over two decades.

Full report at:



Daesh fires several rockets into Lebanon, army shells terrorists' positions

Aug 7, 2017

The Daesh Takfiri terrorist group has reportedly fired seven Grad rockets into the Lebanese territories from a militant-held enclave on the Syria-Lebanon border.

A Lebanese security source, speaking on condition of anonymity, further said that the attack had been carried out on Monday, without causing any casualties.

The source also said that the rockets fell in the vicinity of al-Qaa town, in Baalbek-Hermel province, and prompted the Lebanese army to respond by shelling Daesh positions in the nearby hills.

The development came as the Lebanese army has intensified its shelling of Daesh posts in recent days amid reports that it is set to launch an operation aimed at purging the Takfiris out of the border region with Syria.

The Lebanese Hezbollah resistance movement formally announced an end to its security operation around border town of Arsal against members of the foreign-sponsored and Takfiri Jabhat Fateh al-Sham – previously known as the Nusra Front – militant group.

Hezbollah launched a major push on July 21 to clear both sides of Lebanon's border with Syria of “armed terrorists.” Hezbollah fighters have fended off several Daesh attacks inside Lebanon. They have also been providing assistance to Syrian army forces to counter the ongoing foreign-sponsored militancy.

On Friday, Hezbollah Secretary General Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah said that the next phase of the battle with terrorists would be aimed at eliminating the Daesh Takfiri terrorists in the border areas between Lebanon and Syria. He also asserted that Hezbollah fighters were backed by the Syrian army in their battle with Takfiris.

Full report at:



Rights groups urge UK to break silence on top Bahraini activist

Aug 7, 2017

At least thirteen rights group have condemned Britain’s awkward silence on the situation of prominent Bahraini human rights activist and pro-democracy campaigner Nabeel Rajab, who has been kept behind bars over his criticism of the ruling Al Khalifah regime and the Wahhabi ideology, calling on London to take up a condemnatory stance.

“It is appalling that … the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) has turned a blind eye to the human rights abuses in Bahrain, including the reprisals against Mr. Rajab,” the groups stated in a letter addressed to the FCO on Monday, Arabic-language Lualua television network reported.

“We urge you to overturn this policy of silence and support Nabeel Rajab and all human rights defenders in Bahrain … by condemning his sentence and calling on the Government of Bahrain for his immediate and unconditional release, and abolition of all charges leveled against him,” the letter added.

On December 22, 2016, Bahraini authorities accused Rajab of making comments that “harm the interests” of the Manama regime and other Persian Gulf kingdoms through an article attributed to him and published by French daily Le Monde.

The article slammed the Daesh Takfiri terrorist group for their crimes against humanity. It also slammed Persian Gulf Arab countries for their failure to stop the spread of the violent Wahhabi ideology.

Wahhabism, the radical ideology dominating Saudi Arabia and freely preached by its clerics, fuels the ideological engine of terror organizations such as Daesh and Fateh al-Sham, al-Qaeda's Syrian branch formerly known as al-Nusra Front. Takfiri terrorists use the ideology to declare people of other faiths “infidels,” justifying the killing of their victims.

Rajab, who was detained on June 13, 2016 for tweets that criticized Manama’s role in the deadly Saudi-led military campaign against Yemen, could face up to 15 years in jail.

Liz Throssell, the spokeswoman for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, said in a statement that Rajab was arrested for “exercising his right to freedom of expression.”

Thousands of anti-regime protesters have held demonstrations in Bahrain on an almost daily basis ever since a popular uprising began in the country in mid-February 2011.

They are demanding that the Al Khalifah dynasty relinquish power and allow a just system representing all Bahrainis to be established.

Manama has gone to great lengths to clamp down on any sign of dissent. On March 14, 2011, troops from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates were deployed to assist Bahrain in its crackdown.

Scores of people have lost their lives and hundreds of others sustained injuries or got arrested as a result of the Al Khalifah regime’s crackdown.

On March 5, Bahrain’s parliament approved the trial of civilians at military tribunals in a measure blasted by human rights campaigners as being tantamount to imposition of an undeclared martial law countrywide.  

Full report at:



Syrian army forces strike last militant stronghold near Damascus

Aug 7, 2017

Syrian government forces have intensified shelling and airstrikes on the last militant stronghold near the capital city of Damascus as army soldiers and allied fighters from popular defense groups continue to make territorial gains against foreign-sponsored militant groups across the war-battered country.

Local sources said elite units of the army, positioned on the strategic Mount Qasioun that overlooks Damascus, struck Jobar district, located some 2 kilometers (1.2 miles) east of the Old City walls, as well as Ain Terma suburb, located 3 kilometers (1.9 miles) east of Old Damascus.

Syrian army troops also struck militant outposts in Zamalka, located 3.5 kilometers (2.2 miles) northeast of Old Damascus, Harasta city and Kafr Batna town.

Abu Obada al-Shami, a commander from the Takfiri Faylaq al-Rahman militant group, said the extremists had dug tunnels and fortified their positions in the Eastern Ghouta district in a bid to impede the government forces’ advance.

Meanwhile, Syrian Air Force jets bombarded Daesh positions in al-Bawlieh Mountain, Ma'adan subdistrict, al-Khamaiseh, al-Jaber and al-Numaisa districts south of the northern city of Raqqah.

Elsewhere in Salamiyah district of the central province of Hama, Syrian military aircraft pounded Daesh position, inflicting heavy losses on their ranks.

Syrian Air Force warplanes also carried out airstrikes against Daesh gathering points and fortifications in al-Khashabiyieh, al-Fasda, Abu Hubailat, Jana al-Albawi, al-Dukailiyah al-Shamaliyah and Salba districts, killing and wounding scores of terrorists.

Furthermore, Syrian government forces regained control over Manoukh village in the eastern part of Homs Province after eliminating the last pockets of Daesh terrorists there.

Syrian military aircraft also hit Daesh positions across the troubled eastern province of Dayr al-Zawr, leaving many terrorists dead and injured.

Full report at:



3 wanted terrorists surrender in Qatif: Saudi interior ministry

8 August 2017

JEDDAH: The Saudi Interior Ministry confirmed on Monday that three men from a list of 23 wanted terrorists have surrendered to security forces.

Ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Mansour Al-Turki said that Ali H. Al-Zaid, Ramzi M. Al-Jammal and Mohammed Al-Lubbad, all Saudi citizens, gave themselves up to the security authorities.

Al-Turki said their voluntary surrender would be taken into consideration, and that they will be treated according to the laws in force.

It emerged on Sunday that two of the men had surrendered in Qatif in eastern Saudi Arabia, with confirmation of a third man having given himself up coming later.

The ministry warned of grave consequences for anyone sheltering, hiding or offering any kind of assistance to wanted criminals.

Only three fugitives are still at large from a list of 23 terrorists issued in 2012. They are Salman A. Al-Faraj, Fadel H. Al-Safwani, and Mohammed H. Al-Zaid.

The ministry had already renewed its call to the rest of the wanted fugitives to surrender, and called upon anyone with information about them to inform the authorities.

Sheikh Mohammed Al-Ebidan, former judge in the Court of Endowments and Inheritance in Qatif, called upon terrorist groups to give themselves up, refrain from carrying weapons, and answer the call of Eastern Province Gov. Prince Saud bin Naif.

Prince Saud told Al Arabiya News Channel earlier: “My message to those is to let this country remain stable and in peace. Enough with the innocent blood they have shed so far. I call upon them to give themselves up to the responsible authorities, and, God willing, they will see nothing but good matters.”

Sheikh Mohammed Al-Ebidan stressed that “terrorism and terrorists are a cancerous gland our secure country has been infected with.”

Concerning the damage terrorists brought upon Qatif and its people, Sheikh Mohammed said: “We all know the extent of harm which has been brought upon this area due to carrying weapons, resisting security forces, killing innocent people, and the adverse effects caused by such behavior. All this necessitated a strong and serious stance to put an end to the bloodshed, especially since this has drawn the region to unwanted miseries, and it may draw it in the future to other calamities.”

Full report at:





Post Basirhat communal violence: In show of unity, Hindus, Muslims tie rakhis

August 8, 2017

In a show of harmony, members of the Hindu and Muslim communities in Basirhat on Monday tied rakhis on each other, a month after the area was hit by communal violence. Violence had erupted between the two communities in Basirhat and Baduria areas of North-24 Parganas over a controversial Facebook post. In an effort to revive cordial ties, the Bangla Sanskriti Manch and Rights to Life Foundation jointly organised a Raksha Bandhan celebration at Basirhat Town Hall. Residents of Basirhat took part in the event, and lauded the effort to strengthen peace.

“It was totally an apolitical event here in which local people participated. Children danced on stage and tied rakhis on the wrists of people. They sang songs written by Rabindranath Tagore and Nazrul Islam on communal harmony. Later, they took out a rally in Basirhat and tied rakhis on local people,” Mizanur Rahaman, a participant in the event, told The Indian Express.

Another participant, retired banker Nirmal Ghosh, said the show of unity should be replicated in parts of the state which have witnessed communal tension in recent times. “The message was loud and clear. People are united here. Members of both communities delivered speeches on communal harmony and vowed to stand united. We all know the tension was intentionally created by some people. But people here want to rise above that, and want to continue this show of unity against all odds,” he said.

Local residents also said no political party had tried to organise such an event, and that they were happy to see an apolitical organisation organising it. “Bengal is land of Rabindranath Tagore, Kazi Nazrul Islam and Netaji Subash Chandra Bose, where Muslims and Hindus lived together. We appeal to the people of Bengal to be united against all kinds of communal forces, and we are sending a peace massage that is need the need of the hour. Raksha Bandhan programme has been organised in Basirhat to convey this message to the people,” said Samirul Islam, president of Bangla Sanskriti Manch.



India not responding positively to peace efforts: Pakistan’s new foreign minister Khawaja Asif

August 7, 2017

Pakistan’s newly appointed Minister for Foreign Affairs Khawaja Muhammad Asif said India is not responding in a positive manner to Pakistan’s efforts to establish peace in the region, Pakistan newspaper Dawn reported on Monday. Addressing his first press conference at Pakistan Muslim League-N House in Sialkot since taking over his new role, Asif said both India and Afghanistan have failed to respond positively to Pakistan’s desire for peace. He further stated that Pakistan’s efforts to establish good relations with neighbours should not be thought of as its weakness.

“It’s high time for both India and Afghanistan to come forward as good neighbours and give positive response to Pakistan’s peace initiatives and end the blame game,” Asif said.

He went on to express his regret that “India was continuously violating the the ceasefire accord by shelling the civilian population along the Line of Control”. He further alleged that India is supporting conspiracies against Pakistan being hatched by Afghanistan to “destabilise this country economy and politically”.

He accused India conspiring with the US to sabotage the Indus Water Treaty. He said Pakistan has gained support from the international community on the treaty and has been able to take up the issue with the World Bank. Asking India to support Islamabad’s peace initiatives, Asif said, Pakistan’s strong defence is capable of defending its own borders.

Full report at:



Kabul requests India to launch exclusive satellite for Afghanistan

Dipanjan Roy Chaudhury

Aug 8, 2017

NEW DELHI: The Afghanistan government has requested India to launch a special satellite exclusively for its use, three months after India launched the South Asian Satellite. The Afghan Ministry of Telecommunications and Technology recently made such a request to the Indian government, officials in the Afghan government told ET.

Afghanistan minister Syed Ahmad Shah Sadat recently met Indian Ambassador Manpreet Vohra in Kabul to make the request. It is not yet clear if Kabul wants to use a dedicated satellite to track terrorist hideouts. The minister and the Indian envoy discussed opening of a terminal for Afghanistan in the South Asia Satellite, another special satellite and India-assisted small development projects.

A MoU would be signed soon to let Afghanistan benefit from South Asia Satellite. Two of the 12 transponders will be provided to Afghanistan and the satellite will be used in areas of telecommunications, television services, agriculture, mines and other sectors. A special satellite station in Kabul is also under construction.

Full report at:



5 terrorists killed in Kashmir's Machil sector after infiltration bid

Aug 7, 2017

NEW DELHI: Five terrorists were killed as security forces successfully foiled an infiltration bid from Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) into Machil sector of north Kashmir's Kupwara district on Monday.

Troops monitoring the area noticed suspicious movement along the LoC and immediately challenged the intruders. Five terrorists were shot down in the ensuing gunbattle.

Security forces have recovered weapons from the scene. The identity and affiliation of the terrorists is being determined.

"Five weapons have been recovered from the slain terrorists. The operation is still going on in the area," Defence ministry spokesman Col Rajesh Kalia said.

Meanwhile, security forces have launched a cordon and search operation in Pulwama district's Pinglena village, following specific inputs about presence of terrorists.

This year, the Army has foiled a total of 22 infiltration bids along the LoC in Jammu and Kashmir, and 38 armed intruders have been eliminated in such operations.



Hearing on Jammu & Kashmir’s Muslim minority status in Supreme Court today

by Muzamil Jaleel

August 8, 2017

The Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) government is facing another challenge in the Supreme Court along with that to the state’s permanent resident law that has triggered a political storm. A public interest litigation (PIL) questioning the minority status of the state’s Muslims is coming up for hearing on Tuesday. Jammu lawyer Ankur Sharma had filed the PIL last year, seeking a Minority Commission for the state’s Hindus, other religious and linguistic minorities. The petition challenges benefits given to the state’s Muslims in view of their minority status and asks for a probe into it. Sharma has sought the commission through legislation besides time-bound identification, notification of religious and linguistic minorities. He has called for appointment of an experts panel under the court’s supervision to identify communities, which qualify as religious and linguistic minorities. The petition pleads for extension of National Commission for Minorities Act to J&K.

The state’s ruling coalition partners — the Peoples Democratic Party and BJP – are not in agreement over the issue. But the state government has ignored this case. Earlier this year, the court had slapped a Rs 15,000 fine on the state and Central governments for not filing their replies. J&K Advocate General Jahangir Ganai said that the Union minority affairs ministry had constituted a committee after the court had asked the Centre and the state government representatives to together take a stand on the issue. He said that a secretary of the ministry heads the committee while J&K chief secretary and a National Minority Commission representative are its members. “The committee has held a meeting and decided to have more discussion on the issue before arriving at a decision,” said Ganai. He said that senior advocate Rakesh Dwivedi will represent the state government.

Full report at:



LeT militant of Abu Ismail group killed in encounter

August 8, 2017

A Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) militant from Pakistan was killed during an overnight encounter that started on Sunday at Samboora in Pulwama district. The militant has been identified as Umer and belonged to the Abu Ismail group.

Two militants are believed to have escaped from the spot. According to police officials, acting on a tip-off on presence of militants, a joint team of Awantipora Police, 50 Rashtriya Rifle and CRPF launched a cordon and search operations in Samboora village on Sunday night. During the course of the operation, the militants opened fire on the search party, triggering an encounter. Pakistani LeT militant Umer was killed in the process.

Umer’s role in different crimes committed by Ismail is being ascertained now. One AK-47 rifle has also been recovered from the encounter site, police officials added. Ismail is the mastermind behind the Amarnath Yatra attack that took place on July 10, in which eight pilgrims were killed and 20 injured. He is believed to be the new Kashmir division chief of Lashkar, operating in southern part. With Umer’s death, the total number of people killed since July 30 has reached 16, including three civilians, two Army personnel and 11 militants.





Dozens of migrants storm Morocco-Spain border post

7 August 2017

More than 100 migrants stormed a border post between Morocco and the Spanish territory of Ceuta on Monday, careering through with agents unable to stop them, police said.

They started running from the Moroccan side, crossed the border posts and reached Spanish soil, a spokesman for the Guardia Civil police force told AFP, in the latest incident there.

Ceuta and Melilla, another Spanish territory on Morocco's northern border, have the EU's only land borders with Africa.

As a result, they are entry points for migrants desperate to get to Europe and who regularly try to climb the high border fences, swim along the coast or hide in vehicles crossing the frontier. The police spokesman, however, said this type of border-crossing attempt -- sprinting through manned posts -- was very rare.

“It's been a long time since we've had any attempt of this kind here,” he said, adding that the migrants who reached Spanish soil were taken to a reception centre in Ceuta, which would later give the exact number of people who crossed across.

Last week in Ceuta, about 200 migrants stormed the high border fence, with 73 managing to get through using wire cutters and mallets.

Ceuta is ringed by a double wire fence eight kilometres (five miles) long. The six-metre high fence also has rolls of barbed wire.



Moroccan sailor’s family calls for intervention over kidnap by Nigerian pirates

7 August 2017

The family of a Moroccan merchant navy officer abducted by Nigerin pirates in the Gulf of Guinea issued an appeal to the government to intervene amid silence surrounding the kidnapping of the crew of a Panamanian navy ship, a week ago.

Independent news website Hespress reported on Monday that it has received an appeal letter from the family of one of the two kidnapped Moroccan officers, one a captain and the second an engineer.

In the letter the family demanded that the Moroccan authorities intervene through the Foreign Ministry and the Ministry of International Cooperation with the Nigerian authorities to rescue the men and start negotiations with the kidnappers.

In its first reaction the Moroccan government confirmed that it was following the matter, the report said.

It quoted the Moroccan government spokesman, Mustapha al-Khaliji, making a statement in which no new details had been disclosed.

Last week, Moroccan and Nigerian media outlets reported that unidentified pirates had intercepted a vessel carrying the Panamanian flag about 15 nautical miles southwest of the island of Bonny, operating for a Congolese maritime shipping company.

“Two Moroccan merchant navy officers are among the crew of a ship targeted by an act of piracy in Nigerian waters on 31 July,” Casablanca-based, Moroccan privately-owned website Le360 reported on August 2.

Contacted by Le 360, a source from the Moroccan Royal Armed Forces [FAR] confirmed the information, adding that it was indeed civilian sailors and not members of the FAR.

Full report at:



Mauritanians vote to abolish Senate, boost president powers

Aug 7, 2017

Mauritanians have voted to abolish the upper house of the country’s parliament and change the national flag in a controversial referendum boycotted by the opposition.

The national electoral commission said on Sunday that 53.73 percent of the nation’s eligible voters took part in the referendum, with 85 percent of them voting to abolish the Senate.

Critics view the vote as a victory for President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz, who had described the Senate as “useless and too costly” and decided to have it abolished after the body rejected his proposal to change the constitution.

The opposition, which boycotted the referendum, says by abolishing the Senate, Abdel Aziz becomes the sole decision-maker and could scrap presidential term limits to remain at the helm. It also said the vote was marred by fraud.

The capital, Nouakchott, was on high alert before the vote on Saturday due to opposition protests in the week before. Voting, however, went ahead without any incident.

Last week, police clashed with anti-government protesters in the country. Senators also occupied the Senate building in a show of protest on Saturday.

The resource-rich African country has never had a peaceful transfer of power, with senior officials speaking in favor of lifting presidential term limits, currently set at two terms.

Abdel Aziz, last year, said he had no plans to extend the presidential mandate.

The leader, who has cordial relations with the West, first came to power in a coup in 2008 and won a second term in 2014, but is barred by the constitution from running again.

Full report at:



Belfast councillor defiant on rally’s controversial Islam speeches

07 August 2017

A Belfast councillor has said she is happy to stand over claims that “all Muslims” are obliged to “wage war” on the Christian population of the UK and Europe.

Having helped organise the ‘Northern Ireland Against Terrorism’ rally outside Belfast City Hall on Sunday, independent unionist councillor Jolene Bunting said she had no issues with any of the right-wing speakers who condemned Muslim immigration – and said she would cooperate with police if an investigation is launched.

The rally gave a platform to a number of Britain First members including its leader Paul Golding and deputy leader Jayda Fransen.

Ms Fransen told around 60 supporters in Donegall Square East that Muslims were “baying for our blood,” and added: “The world is at war with Islam. Every single Muslim is obliged to kill you and your husbands and your wives and your children.”

Commenting on terrorism carried out by people regarded as Christian, Ms Fransen said violent Irish republicans were “not Christian,” but added: “The terrorism waged by republicans is just as bad as the terrorism waged by the Muslims.”

Ms Bunting, who was elected as a TUV candidate before resigning from the party in February this year, introduced each of the four speakers in turn but also addressed the small crowd herself.

“We will start today’s rally by asking for God’s blessing on the rally,” she said before reading the Lord’s Prayer.

“I don’t care what colour your skin is, I don’t care where you come from, if your faith teaches you that you should murder people if they don’t conform to your beliefs and your ideology, then your faith needs to be opposed.”

She went on to say: “There are republican terrorists elected to our government in Stormont. Can you imagine if Prime Minister Theresa May let the political wing of Daesh go into coalition with the Tories? Yet that is exactly what we have had happen in our country.

“They are not just in our government but they are in charge of our government ... while innocent victims of terrorists struggle to have their voices heard.”

A counter demonstration was held by the ‘Belfast Says No to Fascism’ group.

Speaking to the News Letter on Monday, Ms Bunting said she was pleased with how the rally had passed off – and how many people had viewed the video of the speeches online.

“It was a complete success, and what I am really impressed with is that over 100,000 people actually saw it online,” she said.

“If the police want to investigate anything I will cooperate with them.”

Asked if she thought any of the speakers went too far in the denouncement of Islam, she said: “No.”

Addressing Sunday’s rally, Mr Golding said: “England is going to descend into civil war. There’s going to be bloodshed. You’ve seen the template for this kind of thing over in Northern Ireland during the Troubles.

“That is going to come to the mainland. Except it’s going to be far more vicious and bloodthirsty.”

Condemning Muslim immigration, he said that “politicians are deliberately replacing us in our own country – it’s an act of genocide”.

Full report at:





Libya’s Derna suffers as Haftar’s LNA tightens siege on city

Aug 7, 2017

The Libyan National Army (LNA), a militia group led by General Khalifa Haftar, has tightened a crippling siege on the northeastern city of Derna as the renegade military strongman seeks the permanent ouster of rival militia from the region he controls in eastern Libya.

Residents of Derna said Monday that a decision by Haftar last week to tighten the long-standing siege on the city has made their life extremely difficult.

“The situation is extremely bad. Everything is stopped, the supplies are depleted and nothing is getting into the city,” one resident said, adding, “There is a total blockade with no entry or exit. They only allow you to leave as a displaced person.”

The siege around Derna was reinforced after militiamen from the Derna Mujahideen Shura Council (DMSC), which controls the city on the Mediterranean, shot down an LNA fighter jet at the end of July. The pilot of the jet was killed in the incident.

Haftar, a former general under slain dictator Muammar Gaddafi, has been backed by countries like Egypt and the United Arab Emirates in his quest for ultimate power in Libya.

Last month, he announced victory against a rival coalition of militants in Benghazi, which lies around 350 kilometers from Derna.

The victory, which came after a three-year military campaign, effectively elevated the position of Haftar and the LNA in talks with Libya’s Government of National Accord (GNA).

The LNA, which is allied with a parliament and government in the eastern Libya, has refused to endorse the GNA since it was established with the United Nations backing in 2015.

However, Haftar and GNA heads met for talks in Paris in late July amid efforts to broker a peace settlement for Libya. 

The UN has expressed deep concerns about the deteriorating humanitarian situation in Derna. The GNA, which is based in Tripoli in Libya’s west, has called on all sides to "facilitate ways to provide for all the needs of the citizens."

A resident of Derna said Monday that there was an acute shortage of medicine in the city, adding that most bakeries had closed because of a shortage of fuel and that petrol stations remained shut for eight months.



Ethiopia: Building Local Capacity to Explore Heritages

7 AUGUST 2017

By Shushay Adane

The sixth biannual conference of the East African Association for Paleoanthropology and paleontology (EAAPP), co-organized by the EAAPP secretariat in collaboration with the Authority for Research and Conservation of Cultural Heritage (ARCCH) and the ministry of culture and tourism was held here in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia from July 30th to August 2nd 2017.

According to Professor Zeresenay Alemseged, a scientist who discovered selam, co-founder and President of the EAAPP who hosted and spearheaded the conference, over two hundred local, regional and international scholars are said to have attended the conference and presented high number of scientific papers pertaining to heritage research, conversation, management and development.

As to the professor, it was extremely hard for young African scholars to take part thereby present and discuss their findings in such international scientific forums. But the EAAPP has, now, reversed the situation by bringing this forum to the region. He, with reference to that, added that by creating this forum and bringing the scientific discourse back to the Eastern region, the EAAPP aims at augmenting collaboration between international researchers and local scientists. "Though the eastern African region is endowed with impressive archaeological paleoanthropological resources, a platform where research outputs could be discussed within the region was missing up until the formation of our association," said Zeresenay.

According to him, the association has, as one of its main achievements, enabled young African scholars to establish broad collaborative networks globally. As could be learnt during the occasion, the objective of the conference is to create an enabling environment for East African scientists to present their own research outputs away from merely being participants in such conferences unlike the previous times. For instance, in this scientific conference, right here, over 20 young Ethiopian scientists are expected to present and discus their scientific research findings thereby let the two parties-scientists and policy makers- discuss face to face on issues which need their collaborative efforts.

Having expressed in his keynote remark that the association will continue to play a key role in promoting scientific discourses in the region and beyond, Ato Yonas Desta, Director of the Authority for Research and Conservation of Cultural Heritage (ARCCH), said in this regard that the association is key in bridging scientists and policy makers together.

Dr. Hirut woldemariam, Minister of Culture and Tourism, on her part said during the occasion that eastern African region holds the single most important promise for the solution of the many mysteries that still surround the question of origins of humanity and its early days. It is indeed gratifying for Ethiopians to begin to talk about themselves as descendants of Lucy or as distant relatives of Ardi or selam, she added.

As to her, it is beginning to figure increasingly in the parlance of the ordinary public too. She expressed to the participants that there is something very powerful for Ethiopians about Ethiopia being described as the cradle of humanity.

She, furthermore, accentuated in her speech that it is even more gratifying that this is not just a self-aggrandizing banter exchanged among the literati only. She said that Ethiopia is the origin of mankind and this ascertained not by Ethiopians but by these scientists who are here in the conference. They have, through Lucy, Ardi and Selam, reached a consensus that mankind from its very beginning was evolved here in Ethiopia and then dispersed to the rest of the world.

Yonas on his part said that some of the earliest evidences for the emergency of the first humans and upright walking have been discovered here. As to him, a unique record of human biological and cultural evolution, spanning the past 6 million years, has been documented at various sites in Ethiopia. Further, some of the most iconic fossils specimens known to date in the history of paleoanthropology including Lucy, Selam and Ardi were discovered here in Ethiopia.

Concerning the government's efforts, the minister expressed that various tasks are being carried out to make Ethiopia a tourist destination taking all the above facts into account though much more still remains to be done.

As said by her, the government is promoting the country's wonders through various national and international media outlets, festivals, tourism programmes, websites and many other marketing mechanisms."For instance, as we all know, Al-nejashi is the first mosque, where Islam could be practiced openly in the world after its birth in Saudi Arabia, so, we are working to make it Islamic (pilgrimage) tourists destination like that of Mecca, so internationally branded Nigerian investors are investing on that to open international resorts," said Hirut.

The minister added that, nowadays, in addition to the other forms of transport facilities, there are 25 local airports in Ethiopia; so, travelers can simply and safely visit any sight they want by using air flights. The same is true for other facilities too, as sources indicate, for instance, currently; a worldwide hotel is being launched here in the metropolis at a monthly basis.

Regarding to activities being undertaken at a government level to build the capacity of Ethiopian Paleoanthropologists and paleontologists, laboratories, research centres, bureaus, libraries, meeting halls and other related services not mentioned here are almost met. As to Hirut, the government is working on human resource development. A considerable number of individuals have been sent to different parts of the world to attend their PHD programmes in this particular field of study in addition to allocating budget for research away from the other fund sources as this is a critical field.

Professor Zeresenay added that the government's support to the field in all dimensions is really wonderful. Many young Ethiopian students are showing interests to this field and are therefore joining to the department in various old and newly flourishing universities here and there.

Having expressed that it is necessary to expand and support archaeological field schools in east Africa, Dr. Hirut, called upon the association to work toward creating the East African regional centre of excellence in these fields of study given the very fertile ground the region has.

In relation to this, Hirut promised to the participants of the conference that the government would be more than willing to support their valiant efforts to expand paleoanthropological and paleontological research in our country.

Meanwhile, Zeresenay told this reporter in his exclusive interview with The Ethiopian Herald that he in collaboration with all other concerned organs wants to open a centre of excellence here in Ethiopia in these fields.

According to Yonas, organizing such conferences locally and beyond that is quite critical if African museums and universities are able to be centres for science and research.

As could be known in the occasion, research into human origins in Ethiopia is relatively young compared to many other countries. The director of ARCCH says that yet, the research output registered during this relatively short time is phenomenal showing that the potential of the nation is indeed huge. After irregular intermittent searches at the beginning of the 20th century and in the 1930's, systematic paleontological and archeological exploration in Ethiopia began in the lower Omo valley in the 1960's and Melka Kunture. Work in the lower Omo valley documented a huge number of faunal and floral remains. Research in the Omo was soon followed by new missions to the Afar depression, which subsequently, became an epicenter for paleoanthropological exploration. "Currently, there are over 27 paleontological and archaeological missions throughout the country making unparalleled impact on the search for human origins. But the country's paleontological and archaeological resources are still untapped and much more remains to be discovered," he said.

With this regard Hirut said that there may be plenty of research findings of prehistoric flora and fauna in the East African region but she is not quite sure they are kept properly and safely, while being at the same time accessible to the public both for scientific investigations as well as viewing by local visitors. She said, "I humbly urge the association and other collaborators to work toward establishing a state of the art museums and safe showcase areas for prehistoric fossil remains and related scientific findings.

As indicated by Yonas, researches into human origins in Ethiopia have been conducted by non-Ethiopians, mostly western scholars for various historical reasons but, now, the authority is working to transform itself from just being an institution which facilitates researches to conducting researches and develop modern field and laboratory conservation plans

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