New Age Islam
Thu Nov 26 2020, 07:35 PM

Islamic World News ( 26 Oct 2016, NewAgeIslam.Com)

ISIL Executes over 230 Iraqi Civilians in Mosul
















Tens of people from the community, including church members, took part in the solidarity rally [James M.Dobson/Garden City Telegram]

 

Kansas Residents Rally In Support Of Muslims 

34 ISIS Fighters Killed During Shaheen-20 Operations: Mod

Boko Haram Attacks Signal Resilience of ISIS and Its Branches

Smithsonian’s Quran Exhibit Aims to Dazzle the Eyes and May Soften the Heart

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Arab World

ISIL Executes over 230 Iraqi Civilians in Mosul

Several Terrorist Commanders, Comrades Killed in Homs

Turkish Army Destroys 103 ISIL, PKK Positions in Northern Syria

Militants Derail Attempt to Evacuate 40 Civilians from Eastern Aleppo

Army Advances in North-eastern Aleppo, Retakes New Areas

Operations Continue to Liberate Souran, Taybat al-Imam

Aleppo Militants Sponsors Fail to Convince Armed Groups to Ceasefire

Terrorists Use Grad Missile Systems to Launch Offensive in Aleppo's Southwest

Syria Rejects Accusations in UN, OPCW Report on Chemical Weapons

Syrian Kurdish YPG will be part of coalition effort to isolate Raqqa, says US commander

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North America

Kansas Residents Rally In Support Of Muslims 

2 Top Al-Qaeda leaders targeted in US airstrikes in Afghanistan

Muslim Americans mobilise against Trump with open mosques

Concerned about ISIL’s eyes on Afghanistan: US

Brooklyn College Muslims Giving Back

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South Asia

34 ISIS Fighters Killed During Shaheen-20 Operations: Mod

Pakistan Fixed 2009 Elections In Favour Of Karzai, Pak Senator Claims

Afghan intelligence foil attack on Indian consulate in Nangarhar

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Africa

Boko Haram Attacks Signal Resilience of ISIS and Its Branches

How Nigeria’s Buhari Is Turning the Tide against Boko Haram

ISIL-Linked Militants Capture Port Town in Somalia

Gambia announces withdrawal from International Criminal Court

Why it’s not all about security as West beefs up military in Africa’s Sahel

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Europe

Smithsonian’s Quran Exhibit Aims to Dazzle the Eyes and May Soften the Heart

British Islamic Toy Store to Battle Extremism

Germany charges Syrian teen over attack research for Islamic State

Russian Warships Headed to Syria Withdraw Request to Refuel in Spain

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India

Kashmir a Matter for India, Pak to Sort out: British PM

Donald Trump's America Would Look Like India

India on the footsteps of Israel; plans to settle Hindus from Muslim countries in India

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Pakistan

Pakistan Is Major Victim of Terrorism, Says Sartaj Aziz

'I Will Tear Section 144 into 144 Pieces': Sheikh Rashid

Islamabad protest will be held at any cost on Nov 2, vows Imran

March on Islamabad bid to pressure SC: Fazl

Either police or PTI will ‘lockdown’ capital

Khurshid fears showdown over PTI sit-in, tells govt to exercise restraint

Pak summons Indian envoy over ‘ceasefire violations’

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Mideast

Turkey, US Top Law Officials Talk Gülen Extradition

45 Army Pilots Detained in Turkey as Opposition Crackdown Continues

One soldier killed in PKK attack in Turkey’s southeast

Istanbul gears up for mass underground tunnel project up to 2023

Turkey may send additional troops to Bashiqa

Supreme Court of Appeal upholds acquittal of 357 in military espionage case

Hürriyet dismisses daily Sabah claims over ByLock story

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Southeast Asia

Military Probing Malaysian Terror Suspect for Abu Sayyaf Ties

Fear stalks Myanmar’s Rakhine State in wake of deadly attacks

Malaysian terror suspect nabbed in the Philippines

Indonesia Proposed Islamic Law Would Put Sexually Active People in Prison

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau

URL: http://www.newageislam.com/islamic-world-news/new-age-islam-news-bureau/isil-executes-over-230-iraqi-civilians-in-mosul/d/108936

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ISIL Executes over 230 Iraqi Civilians in Mosul

October 27, 2016

TEHRAN (FNA)- ISIL executed over 230 civilians in Mosul as the battle to liberate the Iraqi city from the terrorist group has gained momentum, an Iraqi official said.

"ISIL militants continued to commit atrocities in the province of Nineveh, they executed 190 people in the area of Hammam al-Alil after taking them hostage in different areas of Mosul," said the chairman of the Iraqi parliamentary human rights committee, Abdel Rakhim Shamri, presstv reported.

He added that another 42 people were taken from the village of Arij and executed after they refused to cooperate with the terrorists.

Shamri also called on Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi to facilitate the airlifting of civilians from ISIL-held areas in Mosul as the terrorists are using them as human shields.

On Tuesday, the UN human rights office said it had preliminary reports about scores of mass killings by Daesh around Mosul in the past week.

UN human rights spokesman Rupert Colville told a regular UN briefing in Geneva that the bodies of 70 civilians with bullet wounds had been discovered by Iraqi security forces in Tuloul Naser village on October 20, and 50 police officers being held outside the city had also reportedly been killed.

On Wednesday, the commander of the Mosul operations, Major General Najm al Jabouri, announced that government forces had liberated the villages of Saf al Tuth and Nana after engaging enemy snipers stationed close to the villages.

Locals report that ISIL militants are employing a scorched earth policy destroying buildings, farms, detonating explosives, torching industrial plants and kidnapping and killing civilians as they are forced to retreat.

Regional officials have confirmed the terrorists are kidnapping and executing people as they are forced to retreat by advancing Iraqi forces.

A member of the Nineveh provincial council, Abdul Rahman al-Wagga, noted that the executions were carried out "to terrorize the others, those who are in Mosul in particular."

"ISIL was taking families from each village it left," he added.

Earlier, military sources announced that Peshmerga fighters had established control over Dirik village near the town of Bashiqa, which lies 12 kilometers Northeast of Mosul.

Iraq’s Joint Operations Command also announced that Iraqi counter-terrorism units were only two kilometers away from Mosul.

Since the beginning of the operations, the Iraqi army, backed by volunteer forces, has been engaged in a large military offensive to cleanse Mosul of ISIL terrorists. The city fell in 2014 when the terror group started ravaging the country, naming Mosul as its self-proclaimed headquarters in Iraq.

Source: en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13950806000440

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Kansas Residents Rally In Support Of Muslims 

26 OCT 2016 

Three members of an American white-terrorist group, ‘the Crusaders' were recently arrested after their plans to carry out a massacre of Somalian immigrants in Kansas came to light. The very existence of such a terrorist organization, whose aim is to eliminate Muslims completely, is indicative of what levels of blind hatred of Muslims exists in America. Almost all the perpetrators of Islamophobic crimes, including the members of the Crusaders profess support to Republican Donald Trump, whose rhetoric against Muslims has been taken as the source of inspiration by the criminals. Kansas Residents Rally in Support of Muslims TWEET THIS However, if this arrest led people to believe that citizens of Kansas are Islamophobic, then they are in for a delightful surprise. Local American groups have come forward to protect the Somalian immigrant community from Islamophobes. In a very touching move, residents of Garden City, Kansas rallied to support Muslim immigrants, assuring them of their support and protection. This massive show of support was spearheaded by the pastor of a local Presbyterian Church, Denise Pass. Pass says, "The actions of few racist individuals should not be taken to represent the whole community, just as the Muslim community should not negatively labelled or held responsible for the actions of the very few terrorists who happened to be Muslims.” The move by the residents of this small city sends a bold message to white Christian Americans who misunderstand Muslims and refuse to see things in any way apart from that all Muslims are terrorists. Garden City’s show of support for the immigrants is a powerful example of core-Christian values should speak to politicians and religious leaders who insist on labelling all Muslims as threats to the nation for personal and political gains. President of the Somalian community centre, Mursal Naleye, thanked the American community in Garden City and the law-enforcement for their protection and support. Naleye says his people came to America from a war-torn Somalia seeking a peaceful life, "We just want to have a normal life and don't want to bother anyone."

Source: worldreligionnews.com/issues/kansas-residents-rally-in-support-of-muslims

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34 ISIS fighters killed during Shaheen-20 operations: MoD

Thu Oct 27 2016

At least 34 loyalists of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) terrorist group were killed during the counter-terrorism operations of the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF).

The Ministry of Defense (MoD) said Thursday that the militants were killed during the Shaheen-20 military operations being conducted by the Afghan forces.

MoD further added that a mine planter of the terror group was among those killed and another militant was wounded during the operations.

No further details were given regarding the exact locations where the operations were conducted but ISIS loyalists are mainly operational in eastern Nangarhar province.

The Ministry of Defense on Tuesday said at least 45 militants including 19 loyalists of ISIS terrorist group were killed in eastern Nangarhar province.

According to MoD, the militants were killed during the counter-terrorism operations conducted in Pachera Agam and Achin districts.

MoD further added that the operations were conducted with the support of close-air support and artillery units in the past 24 hours.

The counter-terrorism operations are being conducted as part of the annual clearance operations of the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF).

The annual operation, Shafaq operation, was launched earlier this year in response to Taliban’s annual spring offensive the group announced in mid-April this year.

Source: khaama.com/34-isis-fighters-killed-during-shaheen-20-operations-mod-02155

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Boko Haram Attacks Signal Resilience of ISIS and Its Branches

OCT. 27, 2016

DIFFA, Niger — The military convoy was rumbling across a river near the border last month when soldiers suddenly realized they were surrounded. More than 100 Boko Haram fighters, some of them on horseback, had encircled the vehicles, ready to strike.

The 300 soldiers from Niger and the handful of American Special Operations forces accompanying them called for help. Soldiers from Chad rushed to the area, and fighter planes from Niger buzzed overhead, bombing the militants, killing some and sending others fleeing. This time, at least, the quick international teamwork averted what could have been a deadly militant ambush.

Defeating Boko Haram was a flagship campaign promise of President Muhammadu Buhari of Nigeria, the former general who took office a year and a half ago. Since then, the Nigerian military, aided by neighboring countries — along with training from the United States, Britain and France — has made huge advances. Mr. Buhari has claimed for months that Boko Haram has been defeated, and this month he reveled in the release of 21 of the nearly 300 girls kidnapped from a school by Boko Haram more than two years ago.

Yet a troubling new series of attacks in Nigeria and the neighboring country of Niger, including one that killed dozens of soldiers, highlights how Boko Haram is far from eliminated. With the rainy season ending and roads becoming passable again, officials are bracing for more ambushes like the one at the river crossing.

Boko Haram has pledged allegiance to the Islamic State, and Western intelligence officials believe the recent strikes were carried out by a group that splintered off with the Islamic State’s blessing to focus on Western and strategic military targets. Now, the group is unleashing the kinds of military attacks that had been on the wane in past months, restoring a deadly urgency to the conflict just as it seemed the militants were finally losing traction.

The splinter group has stated its intent to focus its attacks “away from local Sunni civilians and towards military and Western targets,” said Cmdr. William J. Marks, a spokesman for the Defense Intelligence Agency in Washington.

Full report at:nytimes.com/2016/10/28/world/africa/boko-haram-isis-nigeria-niger.html

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Smithsonian’s Quran exhibit aims to dazzle the eyes and may soften the heart

Oct. 26, 2016

A single -volume Qur’an copied by Abd al -Qadir ibn Abd al –Wahhabi, who worked in what is now Iran in the 16th century. The ink, color, and gold on paper manuscript is from the Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts, in Istanbul and is now on display at...

Islam prohibits the depiction of God or prophets, and some Muslims believe drawing any animate being is also forbidden. Certainly no such images appear in the Quran, its central holy book.

So there are no pictures per se in the first major exhibit of Qurans in the U.S., “The Art of the Qur’an,” on display at the Smithsonian’s Arthur M. Sackler Gallery on the National Mall until Feb. 20. What visitors to the exhibit can expect to see is words, thousands of Arabic words.

But these words, within the more than 60 Qurans on display, present a visually stunning tour of more than 1,000 years of Islamic history, told through the calligraphy and ornamentation that grace the sacred folios.

“We can convey a sense of how artists from North Africa to Afghanistan found different ways to honor the same text, the sacred text of Islam,” said Sackler director Julian Raby.

“They found different forms of illumination and binding to beautify the manuscripts they had copied. But above all they developed different forms of script to express in a dazzling array of calligraphic variety the very same text. The results could be intimate; or they could be imposing. But in every case the scribe invested his calligraphy with piety.”

Intricate calligraphy and rich ornamentation made these Qurans — which come almost exclusively from the Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts in Istanbul — cherished possessions of some of the most powerful people of the Muslim world. Each comes with a rich story of those who commissioned it, copied it, entombed it or preserved it.

Many were offered as gifts to forge military and political alliances.

Essentially though, Qurans are religious objects, the word of God that Muslims believe was transmitted through the Angel Gabriel to the Prophet Muhammad in the seventh century, when Islam was founded. Details within the text and on the margins of the parchment convey the pronunciation of words and the cadence of the verses.

Intricate ornamentation — geometric illuminations in gold, azure and other brilliant colors — beautify the pages, but also serve a function, said Simon Rettig, assistant curator of Islamic art at the Sackler.

“They help the readers locate him or herself within the Quranic text. They tell you when you have to prostrate yourself,” he said, pointing to a complex geometric emblem in an early 14th-century manuscript by Abdallah al-Sayrafi, a master calligrapher who worked in Tabriz, a historical capital of Iran.

What’s the easiest way to boost your mood, your budget and your overall health? The answer might be right out your front door. Taking a walk could be the best thing we do each day.

Al-Sayrafi was trained in six Arabic scripts, and uses three — sometimes writing in gold, sometimes in black — in one of Rettig’s favorite Qurans in the exhibit. His illuminations look like multicolored sunbursts and gilded foliage blossoms.

The exhibit, on two floors of the Sackler, also aims to explain the Quran as scripture meant to be heard. Written down shortly after the founding of Islam, the Quran is verses to chant.

“Calligraphy is a way to capture the beauty of the orality,” said Massumeh Farhad, chief curator at the Sackler and Freer galleries, which form the Smithsonian’s Asian art collections and exhibits.

Scholars don’t know exactly how scribes wrote Qurans centuries ago. Farhad said it’s possible they would inscribe verses as they were recited, each showing reverence through his skill and style.

“That’s why the work of Yaqut is considered so supreme,” Farhad added, referring to the 13th-century master scribe who worked in Baghdad for the last caliph of the Abbasid dynasty. “It has this sort of lightness. It seems to float on the page.”

The exhibit is not intended as commentary on today’s politics, its organizers said. Work started on the project six years ago, before sharp rises in Islamophobic rhetoric and violence in the U.S. and Europe, and before Muslim immigration and culture became a flashpoint in American and European politics.

But the Smithsonian is not sorry for the timing, and hopes the exhibit can help quell fears of Islam and its followers.

“The Art of the Qur’an” comes at “a difficult moment” in world affairs, said Raby, who said it may lead some to “reflect on their own assumptions.”

As the exhibit makes clear, Muslims refer to Jews and Christians as “ahl al-kitab” — people of the book. The curators show how the Quran, the Torah and the Christian Bible share variations of the same stories, and the same prophets’ teachings. One Quran at the Sackler is turned to a sura, or chapter, that explains:

“Step by step, He has sent the Scripture down to you [Prophet] with the Truth, confirming what went before: He sent down the Torah and the Gospel earlier as a guide for people and He has sent down the distinction [between right and wrong].”

The Turkish multinational Koc Holdings is the principal sponsor of “The Art of the Qur’an: Treasures from the Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts.”

Source: deseretnews.com/article/865665701/Smithsonian7s-Quran-exhibit-aims-to-dazzle-the-eyes-and-may-soften-the-heart.html?pg=all

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Arab World

ISIL Executes over 230 Iraqi Civilians in Mosul

October 27, 2016

TEHRAN (FNA)- ISIL executed over 230 civilians in Mosul as the battle to liberate the Iraqi city from the terrorist group has gained momentum, an Iraqi official said.

"ISIL militants continued to commit atrocities in the province of Nineveh, they executed 190 people in the area of Hammam al-Alil after taking them hostage in different areas of Mosul," said the chairman of the Iraqi parliamentary human rights committee, Abdel Rakhim Shamri, presstv reported.

He added that another 42 people were taken from the village of Arij and executed after they refused to cooperate with the terrorists.

Shamri also called on Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi to facilitate the airlifting of civilians from ISIL-held areas in Mosul as the terrorists are using them as human shields.

On Tuesday, the UN human rights office said it had preliminary reports about scores of mass killings by Daesh around Mosul in the past week.

UN human rights spokesman Rupert Colville told a regular UN briefing in Geneva that the bodies of 70 civilians with bullet wounds had been discovered by Iraqi security forces in Tuloul Naser village on October 20, and 50 police officers being held outside the city had also reportedly been killed.

On Wednesday, the commander of the Mosul operations, Major General Najm al Jabouri, announced that government forces had liberated the villages of Saf al Tuth and Nana after engaging enemy snipers stationed close to the villages.

Locals report that ISIL militants are employing a scorched earth policy destroying buildings, farms, detonating explosives, torching industrial plants and kidnapping and killing civilians as they are forced to retreat.

Regional officials have confirmed the terrorists are kidnapping and executing people as they are forced to retreat by advancing Iraqi forces.

A member of the Nineveh provincial council, Abdul Rahman al-Wagga, noted that the executions were carried out "to terrorize the others, those who are in Mosul in particular."

"ISIL was taking families from each village it left," he added.

Earlier, military sources announced that Peshmerga fighters had established control over Dirik village near the town of Bashiqa, which lies 12 kilometers Northeast of Mosul.

Iraq’s Joint Operations Command also announced that Iraqi counter-terrorism units were only two kilometers away from Mosul.

Since the beginning of the operations, the Iraqi army, backed by volunteer forces, has been engaged in a large military offensive to cleanse Mosul of ISIL terrorists. The city fell in 2014 when the terror group started ravaging the country, naming Mosul as its self-proclaimed headquarters in Iraq.

Source: en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13950806000440

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Several Terrorist Commanders, Comrades Killed in Homs

October 27, 2016

TEHRAN (FNA)- The Syrian army's large-scale operations in Homs killed several terrorist leaders and their comrades and blew up their military vehicles and bases.

The Syrian army units targeted the terrorists' bases in al-Rastan town which killed a number of militants, including the head of Faylaq al-Homs military office and the commander of the group's operations room in Northern Homs, named Shouqi Ayyoub.

Also, a commander of Ahrar al-Sham terrorist group, called Faisal al-Awaz, and a number of other militants were killed in the army's special operations in Ain Hossein village near Talbiseh in the Northern parts of Homs.

The Syrian forces also attacked the Ahrar al-Sham gathering centers in al-Sa'an region in Northern Homs which destroyed two of their military vehicles and killed tens of militants, including their commander, Ahmad al-Shahleh.

The army also repelled the militants' attacks on the terrorists who sought to take al-Mashreqah village in Northeastern Homs, killing and wounding tens of terrorists and destroying their military vehicles.

The Syrian air force also bombed the ISIL terrorists' positions near al-Sha'er oil field near Tadmur (Palmyra) and the two villages of Rahoum and Um al-Rish as well as the Northern parts of Abu al-Alaya in the Eastern parts of Homs city which smashed several vehicles and bases of the terrorist group and inflicted tolls on the militants.

On Wednesday, the Syrian army troops and National Defense Forces had repelled the ISIL's offensive on their defense lines in al-Maher oilfield in Eastern Homs, inflicting several casualties on the terrorists.

The Syrian government forces fended of ISIL's attack to recapture the position they had lost in the battles of the last several days.

The ISIL terrorists suffered a number of casualties in the failed attack.

Meantime, Syrian fighter jets pounded ISIL's centers in Arak oilfield and its nearby areas, near the town of al-Sukhnah and in the village of al-Tibeh in Eastern Homs.

Syrian army men also clashed with terrorist groups of Fatah al-Sham Front (formerly known as the al-Nusra Front), Ahrar al-Sham and Rejalollah near the town of al-Rastan blocking their invasion.

Source: en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13950806000279

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Turkish Army Destroys 103 ISIL, PKK Positions in Northern Syria

October 27, 2016

TEHRAN (FNA)- Turkish forces destroyed 94 positions of the ISIL terrorist group and 9 positions of the PKK militant group in the past 24 hours as part of the Euphrates Shield operation in Northern Syria, the Turkish General Staff said in a statement on Thursday.

“Turkish armed forces have hit 94 ISIL positions and 9 PKK positions. The Free Syrian Army liberated a settlement in the area of the city of Mari, the total area under its controls in the North of Syria amounts to 1,305 square kilometers," the Turkish military said, Sputnik reported.

The General Staff added that two FSA fighters were killed in the hostilities, 16 were injured. A Turkish serviceman was injured in the mortar attack carried out by terrorists.

On August 24, Turkish forces, backed by US-led coalition aircraft, began a military operation dubbed Euphrates Shield to clear the Syrian border town of Jarabulus and the surrounding area of ISIL militants.

As Jarabulus was retaken, the Turkish-backed forces continued the offensive Southwest. Ankara considers PKK as a terrorist group, and the country's operation in Syria is focused on targeting PKK, along with ISIL militants.

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13950806000699

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Militants Derail Attempt to Evacuate 40 Civilians From Eastern Aleppo

October 27, 2016

TEHRAN (FNA)- Russian Defense Ministry's spokesman Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov said Thursday that militants in the Northern Syrian city of Aleppo with their sniper fire derailed a Russian and Syrian attempt to evacuate some 40 people from Eastern districts of the city to safe zones.

Konashenkov reminded that Russian and Syrian planes have not been flying in the zone of a radius of 10 kilometers (6.2 miles) for nine days, Sputnik reported.

"Because of the sniper fire of the militants, another attempt of the Syrian authorities and the Russian reconciliation center to evacuate around 40 people from Eastern districts of Aleppo to safe regions of the city was derailed," Konashenkov said, adding that the incident happened last night.

Fighting in the city of Aleppo intensified after the Syrian army declared an end to the week-long ceasefire on September 23, blaming militants for numerous violations that made the cessation of hostilities unreasonable.

On October 20, a humanitarian pause was introduced in the embattled city of Aleppo to ensure the safe evacuation of unarmed militants, and civilians from Eastern Aleppo via eight designated corridors.

However, Fatah al-Sham Front (formerly known as al-Nusra Front) militant group prevented civilians who wanted to flee the city, attacking people, during their attempts to leave Aleppo.

"However, the terrorists continue indiscriminately shelling residential districts of the city with makeshift rocket launchers, blocking the civilians leaving using humanitarian corridors."

Source: en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13950806000384

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Army Advances in Northeastern Aleppo, Retakes New Areas

October 27, 2016

TEHRAN (FNA)- The Syrian army and its allies continued operations in the Northeastern parts of Aleppo and seized back control of new regions after fierce clashes with the terrorists.

"The pro-government troops and Palestinian Liwa Al-Quds forces launched special operations in Bostan Pasha district, and regained control of two buildings after killing tens of terrorists," a field source said on Thursday.

According to the source, the army forces are now in control of nearly three forth of the region.

The army forces also advanced in some regions of Ard al-Hamra, near Jabal al-Badr and Hanano region, and inflicted damage and toll on Nour al-Din Zanki, the Free Syrian Army (FSA) and al-Shamiyah Front terrorist groups, the source added.

In a relevant development in Northern Aleppo on Wednesday, the Syrian air force and artillery units launched heavy strikes on ISIL positions in Deir Hafer, the terrorist group's second largest stronghold in Eastern Aleppo after al-Bab.

"The attacks destroyed 6 military vehicles of terrorists and killed dozens of the ISIL militants," a military source said.

Analysts believe that intensified army attacks on ISIL gathering centers in Deir Hafer and Maskanah which is seen as the gate to Raqqa province is a sign of imminent operations by the Syrian forces to capture the terrorist group's self-proclaimed capital.

Military sources disclosed on Wednesday that experienced commandoes of Desert Hawks Brigade have arrived in Aleppo city to join a large-scale battle against the terrorist groups in the region.

"The Syrian Special Forces, also known as Liwa Suqour al-Sahra, are also experienced in street battle," the sources said, adding, "The Brigade will lead the operation of government forces to drive Jeish al-Fatah out of Aleppo city and its outskirts in the next few days."

A military source said on Tuesday that the Syrian Army troops and Air Force struck a large gathering of the terrorist groups in the Northern outskirts of Aleppo city, killing or wounding scores of them and foiling their plan to hit government strongholds.

"Following sensitive intel received from army agent in the region, the Syrian government forces and fighter jets carried out surprise attacks on terrorists' concentration centers in Haraytan and al-Malaah regions near Castello road to preempt them and defuse their plan for raiding army positions in the Northern outskirts of Aleppo city," an army officer told FNA.

"Dozens of militants were killed or wounded in the attack, and now the Castello road is safe and under the army's full control," he added.

Source: en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13950806000334

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Operations Continue to Liberate Souran, Taybat al-Imam

October 27, 2016

TEHRAN (FNA)- The Syrian army continued military operations in Northern Hama to retake the two strategic towns of Souran and Taybat al-Imam, and drove out the terrorists from more regions.

Field sources reported on Thursday that the Syrian army clashed with the Takfiri terrorists in the Northeastern parts of Souran and seized back control of several residential buildings as well as a hill in Western Souran.

Also, the Syrian army units repelled a terrorist group's attempt to take control of Sangar al-Madjaneh in the Western parts of Ma'an and inflicted heavy casualties on the militants.

According to the field sources, the army troops destroyed three military vehicles of the terrorists and killed a large number of them in Taybat al-Imam.

They also seized a large cargo of weapons and ammunition destined for Northern Hama.

In a relevant development on Wednesday, the Syrian government forces and military helicopters repelled ISIL's attack in the Eastern side of the town of al-Salamiyah, inflicting dozens of casualties on the terrorists.

ISIL launched a large-scale operation in al-Salamiyah region to capture a key triangle from the town of Aqarib, to the village of Eastern Mofaker and to the oil pipeline, but the Syrian government forces forced them to retreat from the battlefield with heavy fire.

The ISIL suffered a heavy death toll and pulled back to evade more casualties.

The Syrian amry helicopters also targeted ISIL's vehicles and positions, playing a crucial role in repelling the terrorists' assault.

Earlier reports said that Syrian Army soldiers and popular forces continued to drive Jeish al-Fatah out of more positions near the newly-freed town of Ma'an in Northern Hama, restoring security to three key regions.

The government forces inflicted major losses and a heavy death toll on Jund al-Aqsa and Fatah al-Sham Front (the al-Qaeda-affiliated terrorist group previously known as the al-Nusra Front) and pushed them back from the regions of al-Borj and Zohrat al-Fatas and Tal (hill) Khirbet Kahileh.

The Jeish al-Fatah terrorist coalition, specially Fatah al-Sham and Jund al-Aqsa, suffered a heavy death toll and pulled the remaining pockets of their forces back from the battlefield.

Source: en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13950806000441

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Aleppo Militants Sponsors Fail to Convince Armed Groups to Ceasefire

October 27, 2016

TEHRAN (FNA)- The Russian ambassador to the United Nations Vitaly Churkin stressed that foreign sponsors of armed groups in eastern Aleppo have no willingness to positively influence terrorists and convince them to ceasefire, withdraw from the region and allow civilians to leave.

According to Churkin, the UN staff "didn’t exercise the necessary pressure over the sponsors of illegal military groups in order to make possible cooperation between the armed groups and humanitarian workers", Vestnik Kavkaza reported.

Speaking at the UN Security Council meeting to discuss the situation in Aleppo, Churkin said that the UN staff “didn’t exercise the necessary pressure over the sponsors of illegal military groups in order to make possible cooperation between the armed groups and humanitarian workers” in order to evacuate patients and injured people from Eastern Aleppo.

“The United Nations didn’t work through properly the operation of medical evacuations of the sick and wounded,” Churkin stated. “The work with opposition groups present in city and the local council was left to its own.”

He warned that the armed groups still receive weapons and ammunition, including TOW anti-tank missiles and American air defense systems.

Source: en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13950806000789

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Terrorists Use Grad Missile Systems to Launch Offensive in Aleppo's Southwest

October 27, 2016

TEHRAN (FNA)- Terrorists launched an offensive against the Syrian army in Aleppo's southwest, using Grad multiple rocket launchers, sources reported from the scene on Thursday.

According to the sources, militants launch rocket strikes on Syrian army's positions on strategic heights, including in the area where an air defense unit is deployed, RIA Novosti reported.

Militants strike Syrian army’s and militia's positions near the 1070 district of Aleppo, and according to Syrian military intelligence data terrorists are redeploying reinforcements to the Southwest of Aleppo.

Mobile communication and the Internet have not worked in the city since Thursday morning.

On October 20, the Russian "humanitarian pause" was introduced in the embattled city of Aleppo to ensure the safe evacuation of civilians from Eastern Aleppo via eight designated corridors.

During the humanitarian pause, Fatah al-Sham Front (formerly known as al-Nusra Front) terrorist group prevented civilians from fleeing the city, attacking them. On Sunday, the government forces started offensive in the South of Aleppo after the end of the humanitarian pause.

Source: en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13950806000759

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Syria Rejects Accusations in UN, OPCW Report on Chemical Weapons

October 27, 2016

TEHRAN (FNA)- Syrian Foreign and Expatriates Ministry insisted that the latest accusations leveled against the country in joint inquiry by the UN and Organization for the prohibition of chemical weapons (OPCW) were not based on any tangible evidence and they didn’t reflect any objectivity or accuracy.

“The Syrian republic has repeatedly denied all allegations circulated by some Western entities and their tools about the use of chemical poisonous materials by Syrian sides, like chlorine gas, during military acts which take place between the Syrian armed forces and the terrorist groups,” the Syrian foreign ministry said in a statement about a report by the joint international inquiry mechanism, formed according to Security council resolution No.2235, SANA reported.

It added that, in light of its commitment to the principle of transparency, the Syrian government has cooperated with the demands of inquiry conducted by international commissions since 2014 until now, and it offered all necessary facilities to have credible and fair inquires.

“Syria has repeatedly warned against repercussions of politicizing this issue regarding the credibility of the work of international relevant sides,” the Ministry said.

It added that the government of Syrian Arab Republic, while fully rejects the accusations included in the reports of that mechanism, affirms its commitment to carry out all its obligations when it joined the treaty of Chemical weapons convention.

Source: en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13950806000678

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Syrian Kurdish YPG will be part of coalition effort to isolate Raqqa, says US commander

October 27, 2016

Fighters of the Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Unit (YPG), the military wing of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), which Turkey regards as a terror organization, will be included as a part of the force to isolate the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL)-held Syrian city of Raqqa, the top U.S. military commander in Iraq said on Oct. 26.

Army Lieutenant General Stephen Townsend also said in a news briefing that the U.S.-led coalition fighting ISIL wished to move urgently to isolate Raqqa because of concerns about the group using the city - its main stronghold in Syria - as a base to plan and launch attacks against targets abroad.

“Turkey doesn’t want to see us operating with the SDF anywhere, particularly in Raqqa,” Reuters quoted Townsend as saying. He was referring to the U.S.-backed umbrella group established to defeat ISIL in Syria with the participation of Syrian Arabs and Kurdish militia.

“We’re having talks with Turkey and we’re going to take this in steps,” he said.

“The only force that is capable on any near-term timeline are the Syrian Democratic Forces, of which the YPG are a significant portion,” Townsend said. “We’re going to take the force that we have and we will go to Raqqa soon with that force.”

The United States and Turkey are at odds over the designation of the PYD and YPG as the U.S. regards the two forces as an ally in its fight against ISIL, but Turkey regards them as a terrorist organization because of its links with the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

Townsend added that intelligence officials believe that ISIL is using Raqqa as a central planning point for international attacks.

“We think it’s very important to get isolation in place around Raqqa to start controlling that environment on a pretty short timeline,” he noted.

But Arab forces, and not Kurdish ones, are expected to be the ones to take the city itself, U.S. officials have said previously.

U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter has repeatedly signaled this week that the campaign in Raqqa was fast approaching, telling reporters traveling with him in Brussels on Oct. 26 that the start of the operation was weeks away.

“I think it will be within weeks, that’s what I want to say, and not many weeks,” Carter said, adding the goal was to generate and position local forces to start isolating the city.

Carter said on Oct. 25 the attack on Raqqa would start while the battle of Mosul in neighboring Iraq was still unfolding.

The operation to isolate Raqqa will have a lighter U.S.-led coalition footprint than the campaign against ISIL in Iraq, Townsend said.

“We’ll have fewer coalition troops there, less combat capability there, we’ll have to apply coalition combat support in a different way than we are doing here in Iraq,” he said.

There will be efforts to recruit and train forces local to Raqqa, with much of the training being carried out by local partners, Townsend said, adding that the training would likely be undertaken in northern Syria.

Source: hurriyetdailynews.com/syrian-kurdish-ypg-will-be-part-of-coalition-effort-to-isolate-raqqa-says-us-commander.aspx?pageID=238&nID=105422&NewsCatID=352

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North America

 

Kansas Residents Rally In Support Of Muslims 

26 OCT 2016 

Three members of an American white-terrorist group, ‘the Crusaders' were recently arrested after their plans to carry out a massacre of Somalian immigrants in Kansas came to light. The very existence of such a terrorist organization, whose aim is to eliminate Muslims completely, is indicative of what levels of blind hatred of Muslims exists in America. Almost all the perpetrators of Islamophobic crimes, including the members of the Crusaders profess support to Republican Donald Trump, whose rhetoric against Muslims has been taken as the source of inspiration by the criminals. Kansas Residents Rally in Support of Muslims TWEET THIS However, if this arrest led people to believe that citizens of Kansas are Islamophobic, then they are in for a delightful surprise. Local American groups have come forward to protect the Somalian immigrant community from Islamophobes. In a very touching move, residents of Garden City, Kansas rallied to support Muslim immigrants, assuring them of their support and protection. This massive show of support was spearheaded by the pastor of a local Presbyterian Church, Denise Pass. Pass says, "The actions of few racist individuals should not be taken to represent the whole community, just as the Muslim community should not negatively labelled or held responsible for the actions of the very few terrorists who happened to be Muslims.” The move by the residents of this small city sends a bold message to white Christian Americans who misunderstand Muslims and refuse to see things in any way apart from that all Muslims are terrorists. Garden City’s show of support for the immigrants is a powerful example of core-Christian values should speak to politicians and religious leaders who insist on labelling all Muslims as threats to the nation for personal and political gains. President of the Somalian community centre, Mursal Naleye, thanked the American community in Garden City and the law-enforcement for their protection and support. Naleye says his people came to America from a war-torn Somalia seeking a peaceful life, "We just want to have a normal life and don't want to bother anyone."

Source: worldreligionnews.com/issues/kansas-residents-rally-in-support-of-muslims

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2 Top Al-Qaeda leaders targeted in US airstrikes in Afghanistan

Thu Oct 27 2016

US drone strikes has reportedly targeted two of Al-Qaeda terrorist network’s top leaders in eastern Kunar province of Afghanistan.

The officials in Pentagon have said the two top Al-Qaeda leaders have likely been killed in the airstrike but the US military in Afghanistan is still assessing the results of the weekend airstrikes.

According to reports, at least 15 insurgents including two Arab nationals and several Pakistani Taliban fighers were killed in the airstrikes.

Pentagon spokesman Peter Cook quoted by AFP said one of the targets was Faruq al-Qatani, a Qatari national who is Al-Qaeda’s leader for northeastern Afghanistan and who was assigned to reestablish safe havens in the country.

Cook further added that other, Bilal al-Utabi, also was involved in reestablishing safe havens from which the militants could threaten the West while recruiting and training foreign fighter.

“If these strikes are determined to be successful, eliminating these core leaders of Al-Qaeda will disrupt efforts to plot against the United States and our allies and partners around the world, reduce the threat to our Afghan partners, and assist their efforts to deny Al-Qaeda safe haven in Afghanistan,” Cook said.

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

Kunar is among the relatively volatile provinces in eastern Afghanistan where anti-government armed militants are actively operating in a number of its remote districts and often carry out insurgency activities.

Insurgents belonging to Taliban group as well as foreign militants are operating in this province which is located along the Durand Line bordering the tribal regions of Pakistan.

Source: khaama.com/2-top-al-qaeda-leaders-targeted-in-us-airstrikes-in-afghanistan-02153

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Muslim Americans mobilise against Trump with open mosques

27 OCT 2016

Stopping all Muslim immigrants from coming to America has been one of Donald Trump's key foreign policy platforms.

But American Muslims are fighting back against the Republican presidential candidate's racist and misinformed comments by opening their mosques.

They hope by educating the public about Islam and what happens inside mosques they will reduce the stigma surrounding their religion on America.

Betul Tuna explains why she is travelling around Australia in a mobile shisha cafe - to fight the perception that she doesn't belong in the country in which she was born.

Muslim voter Anna Givens told SBS News Islamophobia was "rampant" in the US, and that Mr Trump was encouraging the hatred.

"Anything that comes out of his mouth is just a joke and unfortunately a lot of people take him seriously," she said.

"Women have their scarves ripped off them. A woman was egged. You know, it's very frightening, especially as a woman because we just want to hide."

At the Muslim Community Centre of San Diego, members of the public are being given a beginner's guide to Islam, Owais Siddiqui told SBS News.

"There's some misconceptions where people think that islam preaches something that it doesn't," he said.

"We see people who might think Islam has something to do with terrorism or violence and we actively encourage those people to just come and just talk to us."

The open mosques program also hopes to mobilise the one million new Muslim American voters.

Muslim Student Association president, Luqmaan Bokhary said it was disheartening to see how much hatred was directed at his community, but encouraging to see them becoming more involved politically.

Donald Trump says all Americans should look to his corporate record for evidence of how well he'd run the country.

"It's really disheartening to see how much hatred that has come about but at the same time you see the Muslim community that has almost become united and they are trying their very best to be politically involved," he told SBS News.

"For the first time my grandmother in the primaries said 'when's the time to vote?' Meanwhile in 2012 she didn't even care to go out to the polls."

Mr Siddiqui said members of the Muslim community were becoming more important to political candidates as their numbers grew.

"In years past perhaps candidates didn't particularly focus on trying to reach out to the Muslim community as much, but I think that is certainly happening this year," he said.

"Not just here in California but nationwide, in particular the battleground states - Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania are key battleground states where there are sizeable members of the Muslim community."

Source: sbs.com.au/news/article/2016/10/27/muslim-americans-mobilise-against-trump-open-mosques

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Concerned about ISIL’s eyes on Afghanistan: US

Thu Oct 27 2016

The US officials have expressed concerns regarding the attempts by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant also known as the Islamic State of Syria and Iraq (ISIS) terrorist group to expand foothold in Afghanistan.

The State Department spokesman John Kirby said Wednesday “It is no secret that we have been long concerned about ISIL’s eyes on Afghanistan and their desires to have a presence there.”

He was responding to a question regarding the latest massacre of dozens of civilians in western Ghor province of Afghanistan, allegedly involving the loyalists of the terror group.

Kirby further added ” In fact, for now almost a year-and-a-half if not two years, President Ghani has spoken about this, and so has our commanders in Afghanistan.”

“So this is something that their desires to metastasize into Afghanistan is something we’ve been long watching. I certainly could not rule out their hand in this. We just don’t know enough right now,” Kirby added.

This comes as the top US commander in Afghanistan Gen. John Nicholson earlier said the terrorist group is attempting to establish a caliphate inside Afghanistan.

“Right now we see them very focused on trying to establish their caliphate, the Khorasan caliphate, inside Afghanistan,” General Nicholson told NBC News.

He said the push is “principally a non-Afghan movement”, adding that the U.S. has seen foreign fighters, particularly Uzbeks from the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, joining the Islamic State Khorasan, or IS-K.

According to Gen. Nicholson the US also sees many Pakistani Pashtun from the Pakistani Taliban who joined IS-K moving into Afghanistan to fight.

Source: khaama.com/concerned-about-isils-eyes-on-afghanistan-us-02156

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Brooklyn College Muslims Giving Back

27 OCT 2016 

Iqra Nadeem, a Brooklyn College junior, never sits aimlessly around campus. She is always flitting from political science classes to biology research to pre-med science courses to study groups in the library. No matter how busy or exhausted she is, she always greets her fellow Muslim classmates with “Asalamualaikum”, which means “peace be upon you,” when she sees them around campus.

As an active member of the Brooklyn College community and in response to some of the hate directed towards Muslims around the world, Nadeem founded the Brooklyn College club, Muslims Giving Back (MGB).

“So I was a second semester freshmen (last year) and I was overwhelmingly feeling that I wasn’t part of an organization that wanted to make some form of change,” recalled Nadeem. “I went to a couple of club meetings to check out clubs like Sustainability Today and Tomorrow, but nothing felt right.”

This was all around the time when Islamophobia was on the rise because of the Charlie Hebdo attacks in Paris, France. But then, Nadeem woke up to news that struck home even more.

“To say that I was angry would be the understatement of a lifetime,” said Nadeem on the shooting of three Muslim students in Chapel Hill, North Carolina last year. “This was blatantly a hate crime, and as I learned more about the individuals, I was more and more sure about what I wanted to do.”

Nadeem began researching the three individuals who were murdered in the shooting. Deah Barakat and Yusor Mohammad Abu-Salha were continuing graduate students, and Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha was an undergraduate student at the University of North Carolina (UNC) Chapel Hill.  Nadeem also learned that they were involved with the United Muslim Relief (UMR) at their university—and that captured her attention.

“I felt compelled to create a club that was about volunteering, making real impact in the community, but also one that unapologetically carried a Muslim identity,” said Nadeem. “It was what had been missing on campus and it was certainly what felt right given the context of Islamophobia we had been living in, and continue to live in.”

The Brooklyn College chapter of UMR was active for about a semester when it suddenly hit upon unexpected administrative problems with the club’s organization. Additionally, the massive fundraising requirements made it difficult for the chapter to continue to operate.

The BC club’s executive board and members sought to continue their mission through new means. Their resolution was found with the organization MGB.

Wajiha Kazmi, a BC junior, helped co-found the club. Weighing in on the rewards of being a leader in the club, she says, “It is really gratifying to be able to work towards addressing issues such as food insecurity in New York City, and in the future we hope to take part in disaster relief efforts and outreach. For me, being a part of this club is a very rewarding experience because of the difference I am able to see that I’m making in the lives of others.”

The BC chapter of MGB was officially formed this semester, and its first event,  Project Downtown, took place on October 20. About thirty people came to the event to help make 150 sandwiches for the homeless. Club members later delivered the sandwiches to the main MGB organization branch located in Sunset Park. Inspired by the success of the event, BC MGB is interested in expanding this initiative around the BC campus to the local community in need.

BC MGB is also looking looking forward to combining events with other clubs on campus. It is currently working on an event called Muslim Monologues, to shed light on the experiences of Muslim-American millennials growing up in post-9/11 America.

“This event will double as a charity event as we plan to collect winter clothing, socks, and blankets to be distributed among the homeless and needy,” said Nadeem. The club is also raising Syrian crises awareness through tabling and charity events, Haitian relief efforts through fundraisers in collaboration with the Red Cross, and hospital visits with gifts and cards.

Member Maysan Hasan voiced her hope for her participation in the club. “I look forward to helping others, seeing the smiles on people’s faces when we make a difference in their lives,” she said.

What is BC MGB’s motivation? Nadeem strongly says, “[it’s] misconstrued conflation of being Muslim with being a terrorist that drives organizations like Muslims Giving Back to be so forthcoming with exactly what Islam means: to give back, to serve, and to be humane.”

Source: bcexcelsior.com/brooklyn-college-muslims-giving-back/

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South Asia

 

34 ISIS fighters killed during Shaheen-20 operations: MoD

Thu Oct 27 2016

At least 34 loyalists of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) terrorist group were killed during the counter-terrorism operations of the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF).

The Ministry of Defense (MoD) said Thursday that the militants were killed during the Shaheen-20 military operations being conducted by the Afghan forces.

MoD further added that a mine planter of the terror group was among those killed and another militant was wounded during the operations.

No further details were given regarding the exact locations where the operations were conducted but ISIS loyalists are mainly operational in eastern Nangarhar province.

The Ministry of Defense on Tuesday said at least 45 militants including 19 loyalists of ISIS terrorist group were killed in eastern Nangarhar province.

According to MoD, the militants were killed during the counter-terrorism operations conducted in Pachera Agam and Achin districts.

MoD further added that the operations were conducted with the support of close-air support and artillery units in the past 24 hours.

The counter-terrorism operations are being conducted as part of the annual clearance operations of the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF).

The annual operation, Shafaq operation, was launched earlier this year in response to Taliban’s annual spring offensive the group announced in mid-April this year.

Source: khaama.com/34-isis-fighters-killed-during-shaheen-20-operations-mod-02155

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Pakistan fixed 2009 elections in favour of Karzai, Pak Senator claims

Thu Oct 27 2016

A Pakistani senator has claimed the country fixed the 2009 Afghan Presidential Elections in the favour of the former Afghan President Hamid Karzai.

Senator Mushahid Hussain made the revelation during an interview with a locla newspaper.

Pointing towards Pakistan’s role in shaping the polling results, Senator Hussain explicitly told The Express that “the election, we know how to rig, and they were duly rigged in favour of Karzai.”

The Senator further added that he had told American officials that Karzai was smarter than any of them and had the capacity to outsmart and still survive.

“President Hamid Karzai knew that Americans were gunning for him. He switched from America to Pakistan, earned a good will, and there were three million Afghan refugees in Pakistan and we were supposed to be holding their elections, and all the threemillion voted for Karzai,” he said.

He also also asserted that President Obama’s Special Envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan, Richard Holbrooke met with him in Lahore in 2009 before the presidential elections in Afghanistan in August.

“Holbrooke took out a notepad and he said to me, ‘Tell me who should be the next president of Afghanistan,” Mushahid said he found the remark very arrogant and pompous. “I said, Holbrooke, are you deciding the presidency today? Is it just pick and choose? It’s not going to happen,” he said.

The 2009 Presidential Elections ended in Karzai’s favour after his rival Abdullah Abdullah decided to pull out of the vote during the second round of the election.

Abdullah had said the decision was taken “in the best interests of the country”.

In a gathering organized late in 2009, Abdullah made it clear he did not want to provoke a confrontation with Karzai or risk partisan violence.

He also added that he feared the runoff would bring a repeat of the fraud that marred the first presidential poll in August.

Source: khaama.com/pakistan-fixed-2009-elections-in-favour-of-karzai-pak-senator-claims-02154

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Afghan intelligence foil attack on Indian consulate in Nangarhar

Wed Oct 26 2016

The Afghan intelligence operatives foiled an attack plot by the anti-government armed militant groups on the Indian Consulate in eastern Nangarhar province of Afghanistan.

The National Directorate of Security (NDS) said two suspects identified as Nasrullah son of Hazrat Bilal and Obaidullah famous as Shina son of Torrkhan were arrested in connection to the attack plot.

NDS further added that the detained individuals were looking to use 5 kg of water gel, 15 kg of potassium chloride, 9 hand grenades, 1 Improvised Explosive Device, 6 electronic capsules, 2 remote controls, 1 GPS set, 1 communication device, 1 binacolure, 1 sniper, 1 Dshk heavy machine gun, 2 meters of explosives strip, and some other equipment and Afghan army uniform to conduct the attack.

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

This is not the first time the anti-government armed militant groups have carried out attacks on Indian missions in Afghanistan.

At least three people including a policeman lost their lives and 19 others sustained injuries in an attack on the Indian consulate in eastern Nangarhar province in March this year.

The attack was launched by a group of at least 6 militants but did not فhere were no casualties to Indian diplomats and consulate employees.

A policeman and two civilians were among those killed and 19 others were wounded including women and children.

Source: khaama.com/afghan-intelligence-foil-attack-on-indian-consulate-in-nangarhar-02152

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Africa

 

Boko Haram Attacks Signal Resilience of ISIS and Its Branches

OCT. 27, 2016

DIFFA, Niger — The military convoy was rumbling across a river near the border last month when soldiers suddenly realized they were surrounded. More than 100 Boko Haram fighters, some of them on horseback, had encircled the vehicles, ready to strike.

The 300 soldiers from Niger and the handful of American Special Operations forces accompanying them called for help. Soldiers from Chad rushed to the area, and fighter planes from Niger buzzed overhead, bombing the militants, killing some and sending others fleeing. This time, at least, the quick international teamwork averted what could have been a deadly militant ambush.

Defeating Boko Haram was a flagship campaign promise of President Muhammadu Buhari of Nigeria, the former general who took office a year and a half ago. Since then, the Nigerian military, aided by neighboring countries — along with training from the United States, Britain and France — has made huge advances. Mr. Buhari has claimed for months that Boko Haram has been defeated, and this month he reveled in the release of 21 of the nearly 300 girls kidnapped from a school by Boko Haram more than two years ago.

Yet a troubling new series of attacks in Nigeria and the neighboring country of Niger, including one that killed dozens of soldiers, highlights how Boko Haram is far from eliminated. With the rainy season ending and roads becoming passable again, officials are bracing for more ambushes like the one at the river crossing.

Boko Haram has pledged allegiance to the Islamic State, and Western intelligence officials believe the recent strikes were carried out by a group that splintered off with the Islamic State’s blessing to focus on Western and strategic military targets. Now, the group is unleashing the kinds of military attacks that had been on the wane in past months, restoring a deadly urgency to the conflict just as it seemed the militants were finally losing traction.

The splinter group has stated its intent to focus its attacks “away from local Sunni civilians and towards military and Western targets,” said Cmdr. William J. Marks, a spokesman for the Defense Intelligence Agency in Washington.

The renewed violence offers insight into the reach of the Islamic State. As it loses ground in Iraq and Syria, the group is relying on affiliates like this Boko Haram faction to hold their ground. Other affiliates are also trying to keep up the fight, even under increasing pressure from the West. The Libya faction, for instance, has taken a pounding in Surt, but many of its fighters have simply scattered to the south and other places, where American counterterrorism officials fear they will regroup to fight another day.

The recent Boko Haram developments illustrate the very adaptive and resilient nature of the Islamic State, often called ISIS or ISIL, and its branches.

“Both ISIL and its regional affiliates are under increasing pressure, and both sides have increasing incentive to deepen the center-affiliate bond,” said Jennifer G. Cooke, director of the Africa program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington.

Boko Haram has ravaged Nigeria and other sub-Saharan nations along Lake Chad, killing civilians, kidnapping people and seizing entire villages. At its peak, the group pummeled major military targets and even controlled large swaths of territory.

But in the past year or so, as Nigeria’s president launched a renewed military offensive against the group, Boko Haram’s operations became less organized and more opportunistic. Led by Abubakar Shekau, notorious for his wild YouTube rants with a Kalashnikov slung across his chest, Boko Haram’s battleground strategy often consisted of sending men, women and children strapped with explosives into markets and mosques to blow up everyday citizens.

Evidence of a weakened Boko Haram had begun to emerge. Fighters retreated into the Sambisa Forest as Nigerian forces aided by a multinational military coalition gained traction and squeezed the group’s supply lines.

Some of the newly released schoolgirls offered reports that demonstrate the group’s weakened status. When the girls were first brought to the forest by their captors more than two years ago, the fighters had a surplus of cars and motorcycles, according to Yakubu Nkeki, chairman of the Abducted Chibok Girls Parents Movement for Rescue, who has spent time with the girls. Now, fighters have no vehicles and use bicycles and donkeys to get around, the girls told him.

In the beginning, the militants routinely slaughtered cows for feasts. They had so much food, the girls told Mr. Nkeki, that sometimes they used sacks of rice to fill potholes or control erosion.

More recently, the Nigerian military has been reporting that captured fighters are scrawny from hunger. The newly released girls appear gaunt, their bony shoulders poking out of colorful dresses.

Throughout the region, word of divisions within Boko Haram and defections has spread. Some fighters have even been turning themselves in to the Nigerian military, which has offered amnesty if they agree to take part in a “deradicalization” program. Some officials also think the release of the schoolgirls from Nigeria is a sign of defections in Mr. Shekau’s group.

The biggest sign of trouble in Mr. Shekau’s ranks came in August when news of a factional split was announced in an online newsletter for the Islamic State. Boko Haram appeared to be divided along theological lines, with a new faction disavowing the random killing of Muslims that had taken place under Mr. Shekau’s leadership. Instead, this new wing has pledged to focus on Western and strategic military targets.

Led by Abu Musab al-Barnawi, thought to be the son of the founder of Boko Haram, the new faction appears to be concentrated along the northern edge of Nigeria and into Niger. The new attacks suggest that the splinter group has found new ground to operate in and a new sense of purpose, emboldened by its Islamic State endorsement.

In June, the Barnawi-led faction swarmed a military post in Bosso, Niger, killing 32 soldiers and wounding more than 60 others. Militants made off with weapons and ammunition as soldiers fled the post.

Then this month, fighters attempted a jailbreak in Niger at a facility where Boko Haram militants were being held. Officials suspect the perpetrators of the attack, which was thwarted, were members of Boko Haram, but their allegiance has yet to be confirmed.

Fighters believed to be Boko Haram members also raided two medical facilities in Niger this month, making off with medicine and equipment.

And then again this month along the Niger-Nigeria border, soldiers were ambushed, leaving 13 of their ranks wounded. Some are still missing in action, according to a news release from the Nigerian military.

Western intelligence officials believe the new attacks are energizing a multinational effort to battle Boko Haram that, until now, has had mixed success.

A Multinational Joint Task Force made up of soldiers from Nigeria, Niger, Chad and Cameroon has slowly made headway in sharing intelligence and launching attacks together. During the rainy season, a group of Chadian soldiers moving toward Lake Chad near Bosso, Niger, became bogged down along mud-clogged roads. Instead of turning back, the soldiers set up camp for weeks to wait for drier weather so they could push forward.

But operations against Boko Haram have also suffered setbacks. The most recent was several weeks ago when soldiers from Nigeria launched an attack across the border that erroneously killed several soldiers from Niger, according to Western intelligence officials and security operators in Niger.

The multinational forces have struggled with communications. Language is a barrier — English is the main language in Nigeria, but French is spoken in Niger, in Chad and by many in the Cameroonian military. Top-secret information sometimes flows slowly and is passed along on mobile phones across unreliable cell networks. Radio gear is incompatible in some cases — Nigerians use American radios, but in Niger soldiers use French-made devices. The militaries are about to receive technology that will help make the radios work together.

“We have good cooperation between all our forces,” said Col. Mahamane Laminou Sani, director of documentation and military intelligence of Niger’s armed forces.

For the moment, in the homeland of Boko Haram, Nigeria, celebrations were still underway over the release of some of the schoolgirls.

“We are happy for seeing this wonderful day,” said one of the freed girls, Rebecca Mallum, speaking at a meeting with Mr. Buhari. “The grace of the Lord show us now we are together.”

Source: nytimes.com/2016/10/28/world/africa/boko-haram-isis-nigeria-niger.html

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How Nigeria’s Buhari Is Turning the Tide Against Boko Haram

26 Oct 2016

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has faced an imposing array of security, political, economic, and crime-related challenges since his historic election win in March 2015, with the country officially entering into recession in August this year. However, one notable positive development has been a revamped counterinsurgency campaign against Boko Haram extremists in northeastern Nigeria and the Lake Chad Basin area stretching into Cameroon, Chad, and Niger. Attacks by the group are forecast to claim about 3,500 lives in 2016, a third the number of fatalities in 2015 and the conflict’s lowest total since 2012. Buhari’s transformation of the military response to Boko Haram provides some useful counterinsurgency lessons to other conflict areas with respect to regional cooperation, security sector reforms, and enlisting the support and assistance of local vigilante groups.

First, following years of failed attempts at regional operation planning and intelligence sharing, Buhari has worked far more effectively with his Chadian, Nigerien, and Cameroonian neighbors. The regional Multinational Joint Task Force (MNJTF) framework has allowed joint operations between these countries, while Chadian and Nigerien troops have been permitted to intervene on Nigerian territory in the Lake Chad area. This resulted in the gradual recapture of nearly all of Boko Haram-controlled territory, which, at its peak in late 2014, covered an area the size of Belgium.

While independently corroborated information is scarce in the northeast, with official military statements being the main source of information, the tide is undoubtedly turning under Buhari’s direction. Much remains to be done on the regional front, but since the beginning of 2016 plausible reports have emerged of joint Cameroonian-Nigerian operations in Borno state, Chadian troops coming to the aid of Nigerien neighbors in the Lake Chad Basin, as well as direct cooperation between the counterinsurgency forces of Niger and Nigeria.

Second, Buhari has replaced the upper echelon of the military hierarchy, moved its anti-Boko Haram command headquarters from the capital Abuja to Maiduguri in Borno, and investigated more than 300 companies and officers for corruption in the security budget, even detaining some individuals. Buhari’s reformist agenda has also prompted the United States to expand its military aid, which was restricted due to human rights concerns under Buhari’s predecessor, Goodluck Jonathan. Military aid from the US, France, the United Kingdom, and other allies has also taken the form of training, equipment and intelligence sharing for Niger, Chad, and Cameroon, including US surveillance drones operating out of northern Cameroon. This has boosted morale and improved the capabilities of Nigerian and regional MNJTF troops.

Last, but certainly not least, more effective cooperation with local vigilante groups known as the Civilian Joint Task Forces (CJTF) has increased the army’s intelligence gathering capabilities, operational reach, and overall momentum. Under Jonathan’s presidency, the army was accused of indiscriminate crackdowns, arrests, and extrajudicial killings of perceived Boko Haram sympathizers across the northeast, turning away many potential counterinsurgency allies. A northern Muslim himself, Buhari’s improved collaboration with locals in Boko Haram’s operational theater has also been assisted by a backlash against the brutality of attacks on Muslim civilians in mosques and marketplaces carried out by erstwhile Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau, who considered anyone who did not subscribe to his ruthless insurgency to be a legitimate target.

This cooperation with local fighters has also been employed by Cameroon, where a network of vigilantes are sharing intelligence and tracking suspected suicide bombers with state-provided motorbikes and bicycles in the porous border area between its Far North Region and neighboring Borno. There are inherent risks in empowering local vigilantes in terms of accountability, possible infiltration by Boko Haram supporters, and upsetting local power dynamics. Cameroon has also been accused of arbitrarily arresting and dismissing perceived Boko Haram collaborators from the vigilante camp, which could lead to increased distrust and backlash from locals. However, the reality is that conventional soldiers lack the local knowledge and ability to effectively patrol vast expanses of rugged terrain, as witnessed in the Congo’s dismal efforts to neutralize armed groups in their eastern Kivu provinces. Vigilante groups thus remain a useful and at times underutilized resource in counterinsurgency campaigns.

Looking ahead, the numerous Boko Haram factions do not appear to have the unity, capacity, or interest at this time to regain control over large swaths of territory as a kind of Nigerian caliphate, with their activities too vulnerable to the robust counterinsurgency campaign. Moreover, the Islamic State-backed faction loyal to Abu Musab al-Barnawi—known as Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP)—with its stronghold in the Lake Chad region, appears more intent on highly publicized ambushes of military targets rather than Shekau’s trademark indiscriminate suicide bombings at marketplaces and mosques, which lost favor with ISIS. This was evidenced by ISWAP’s claim of having killed 40 MNJTF troops in Malam Fatori on September 21 and at least 20 more in Ghashgar on October 16. While internal divides have weakened Boko Haram, its numerous factions remain a potent, albeit diminished, security threat. There are no signs of negotiations to end the insurgency on the horizon, which is unsurprising given the common goal across the militant factions to overthrow the Nigerian government.

Turning the tide definitively on Boko Haram will require a more permanent state security presence in recently liberated areas, with the cooperation of local leaders, broader economic recovery programs, humanitarian assistance spearheaded by the international community, and increased involvement of moderate northern Muslim leaders in countering violent extremism in their midst. The task will not be easy, with 20% of Nigerian Muslims holding a favorable view of ISIS, and Buhari having to direct his attention and political capital to a host of other threats. Nevertheless, the Nigerian president has proven a number of critics wrong in putting Boko Haram firmly on the back foot, with a critical opportunity for Western donors to build on the momentum in providing military, humanitarian, and economic assistance to the long-neglected northeast.

Source: reliefweb.int/report/nigeria/how-nigeria-s-buhari-turning-tide-against-boko-haram

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ISIL-Linked Militants Capture Port Town in Somalia

October 27, 2016

TEHRAN (FNA)- Local residents said militants linked to ISIL have seized an ancient port town in Somalia’s semi-autonomous Northeastern state of Puntland.

Hassan Adan, an elder in Qandala, said up to 50 armed militants captured the town after security forces withdrew from the town, located 75 kilometres East of Puntland’s commercial hub, Bossaso, The Star reported.

Adan says the attackers raised their black banner in the town.

The development marks the first victory for the fighters, who are expanding the areas under their control amid a rivalry with the al-Shabab terror group.

The fighters broke away from al-Shabab and declared allegiance to ISIL last year.

Al-Shabab sees the splinter group as a threat to its operations in the Horn of Africa nation

Source: en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13950806000460

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Gambia announces withdrawal from International Criminal Court

OCT. 27, 2016

The government of Gambia announced on Tuesday that it is withdrawing from the International Criminal Court (ICC), accusing the struggling court of seeking only to prosecute Africans.

“The Government of the Islamic Republic of The Gambia hereby informs all and sundry, the withdrawal of the Islamic Republic of The Gambia‘s Membership of the International Criminal Court,” Information Minister Sheriff Bojang said on state television.

South Africa withdrew from the court earlier this month.

Source: africa.tvcnews.tv/2016/10/26/gambia-announces-withdrawal-international-criminal-court/#.WBHk_tJ97IU

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Why it’s not all about security as West beefs up military in Africa’s Sahel

27 OCT 2016

The US and France have bolstered military strength across vast areas of Africa. But the interest is also driven by Western strategic calculations.

 Growing Western interest in the Sahel region has been ascribed to the threat of Islamic groups in Mali and elsewhere. But it is also linked to a new geopolitical race for natural resources such as oil, gas and uranium. REUTERS/Media Coulibaly Growing Western interest in the Sahel region has been ascribed to the threat of Islamic groups in Mali and elsewhere. But it is also linked to a new geopolitical race for natural resources such as oil, gas and uranium. REUTERS/Media Coulibaly

Over the past few weeks, the United States and France have pledged considerable extra funds to strengthening their military presence in Africa’s Sahel region – a narrow, arid band of land stretching across the continent from west to east just south of the Sahara desert. This has been prompted by growing Western fears of destabilisation. There has been concern that Islamist groups were establishing themselves in the vast spaces between the Atlantic Ocean and the Red Sea.

Washington and Paris have promised to help bolster the security of allied governments from Mali in the west to Djibouti in the east. Most of these countries have porous borders and suffer internal security problems or conflicts.

Mali , for example, has endured a long-running civil war fuelled by the return of armed fighters from Libya after the fall of Muammar Gaddafi in 2011. These fighters launched a separatist struggle that was quickly hijacked by Islamist movements like Ansare Dine and Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb.

Niger on the other hand has become embroiled, along with Cameroon and Chad, in Nigeria’s  war against the Boko Haram terrorist group. Other conflicts continue in the Central African Republic , South Sudan and Darfur in Sudan .

France has had a considerable military role in West and Central Africa, long after it’s colonial role ended in the early 1960s. Its military seeks to protect friendly governments and to defend longstanding French economic interests. These interests include particularly Niger’s uranium.

The US, in a less overt manner, has a surprisingly widespread military presence in Africa. This has increased in recent years with growing instability in the Sahel region. America is now taking a more overt approach with more basing facilities as well as surveillance and training missions. This includes supporting friendly states and establishing a stronger combat-capable presence.

But Western interest in the Sahel region is not merely about security. It has also been linked by some to the West’s desire to protect vital natural resources such as oil, gas and uranium. The geographer and Africa specialist, Padraig Carmody, has called this a new scramble for Africa .

Global chessboard of the 21st century

The arid, desert or semi-desert belt across the Sahel has been described as “a key territory on the global chessboard of the 21st century”. It is not just the security that is at stake but also the natural resource value of the region to the West, China and Japan.

Algeria has major oil and gas resources, Niger supplies uranium for France’s nuclear programmes and Chad is now an oil producer. There are believed to be untapped oil and gas fields in Mali, Mauritania and Niger.

Former US Ambassador to Nigeria and South Africa and Special Envoy to Sudan, Princeton Lyman, has pointed out that the West and China are competing fiercely for access to Africa’s mineral resources and for both political influence and commercial advantage.

It comes as no surprise that both China and Japan have recently increased their naval presence in the Horn of Africa. The naval facilities being established in Djibouti are ostensibly to combat piracy along the Indian Ocean littoral. But they have clear elements of a scramble for a major presence in Africa, at a time of competition over access to Africa’s mineral resources.

As the Washington Post has pointedly observed, US’s growing presence and role in Niger covering what has previously been seen as mainly a French area of interest and influence is a significant strategic move.

Gaddafi aftershocks still being felt

The US is also spending a considerable sum on developing a military base at Agadez in central Niger. From here drones could be launched for surveillance or combat missions across the Sahel and as far north as Libya.

The base would add to the existing US presence in Niger. It already shares facilities in the capital Niamey with French forces engaged in Operations Barkhane against Islamist insurgent groups in Mali. It also provides intelligence on Boko Haram militants in northern Nigeria, Niger, Chad and northern Cameroon to the governments of those states.

Prof Tony Chafer of Portsmouth University has pointed out that the heightened Western fear for stability and strategic resources in North and West Africa has led to unprecedented US-French cooperation. The two are working together in combating perceived enemies in the region and cooperating to strengthen the military capabilities of countries like Nigeria, Chad, Niger, Cameroon and Mali.

The cooperation has developed gradually since the early 2000s. But the exodus of experienced and well-armed fighters from post-Gaddafi Libya into the region triggered a shock wave.

French deployments have been bolstered with over 3,000 troops spread across the region. They are engaged with Islamist groups in Mali and backing UN efforts to keep the peace between violent factions in the Central African Republic. The French government has said its presence will be reduced to 300 troops by the end of the year.

History of Western intervention

There is a history of Western security interventions in a region where rebel or Islamist groups are still active. The groups, such as Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), pose a serious security threat in a number of countries. The list of active groups also includes Movement for Unity and Jihad in West Africa (MUJAO), Ansar Dine and Boko Haram.

Up until now, US military facilities in Africa have always fallen short of being US bases. No country in Africa has been willing to host the US military command for Africa, AFRICOM, and it has had to locate its HQ in Stuttgart in Germany.

But in 2015, the commander of Africom, General David Rodriguez, admitted that in addition to Djibouti, America had 11 “cooperative security locations” in sub-Saharan Africa. These had been upgraded in the years since 9/11. Yet this is not the full story. US forces have access to more than 60 outposts of various sorts from secure warehouses for equipment to surveillance bases, fuel depots, training camps and port facilities in 34 African states.

The pro-Western governments are willing to accept Western assistance. This is largely because of the huge territories they need to police and the small armies they are able to maintain. This is not to mention a paucity of advanced aircraft, drones and other surveillance equipment. Mali, for example, has only 7,500 military personnel, 15 aircraft and nine helicopters but its land area is a massive 1,240,192 square kilometres.

Source: mgafrica.com/article/2016-10-27-why-its-not-all-about-security-as-west-beefs-up-military-in-africas-sahel

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Europe

Smithsonian’s Quran exhibit aims to dazzle the eyes and may soften the heart

Oct. 26, 2016

A single -volume Qur’an copied by Abd al -Qadir ibn Abd al –Wahhabi, who worked in what is now Iran in the 16th century. The ink, color, and gold on paper manuscript is from the Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts, in Istanbul and is now on display at...

Islam prohibits the depiction of God or prophets, and some Muslims believe drawing any animate being is also forbidden. Certainly no such images appear in the Quran, its central holy book.

So there are no pictures per se in the first major exhibit of Qurans in the U.S., “The Art of the Qur’an,” on display at the Smithsonian’s Arthur M. Sackler Gallery on the National Mall until Feb. 20. What visitors to the exhibit can expect to see is words, thousands of Arabic words.

But these words, within the more than 60 Qurans on display, present a visually stunning tour of more than 1,000 years of Islamic history, told through the calligraphy and ornamentation that grace the sacred folios.

“We can convey a sense of how artists from North Africa to Afghanistan found different ways to honor the same text, the sacred text of Islam,” said Sackler director Julian Raby.

“They found different forms of illumination and binding to beautify the manuscripts they had copied. But above all they developed different forms of script to express in a dazzling array of calligraphic variety the very same text. The results could be intimate; or they could be imposing. But in every case the scribe invested his calligraphy with piety.”

Intricate calligraphy and rich ornamentation made these Qurans — which come almost exclusively from the Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts in Istanbul — cherished possessions of some of the most powerful people of the Muslim world. Each comes with a rich story of those who commissioned it, copied it, entombed it or preserved it.

Many were offered as gifts to forge military and political alliances.

Essentially though, Qurans are religious objects, the word of God that Muslims believe was transmitted through the Angel Gabriel to the Prophet Muhammad in the seventh century, when Islam was founded. Details within the text and on the margins of the parchment convey the pronunciation of words and the cadence of the verses.

Intricate ornamentation — geometric illuminations in gold, azure and other brilliant colors — beautify the pages, but also serve a function, said Simon Rettig, assistant curator of Islamic art at the Sackler.

“They help the readers locate him or herself within the Quranic text. They tell you when you have to prostrate yourself,” he said, pointing to a complex geometric emblem in an early 14th-century manuscript by Abdallah al-Sayrafi, a master calligrapher who worked in Tabriz, a historical capital of Iran.

What’s the easiest way to boost your mood, your budget and your overall health? The answer might be right out your front door. Taking a walk could be the best thing we do each day.

Al-Sayrafi was trained in six Arabic scripts, and uses three — sometimes writing in gold, sometimes in black — in one of Rettig’s favorite Qurans in the exhibit. His illuminations look like multicolored sunbursts and gilded foliage blossoms.

The exhibit, on two floors of the Sackler, also aims to explain the Quran as scripture meant to be heard. Written down shortly after the founding of Islam, the Quran is verses to chant.

“Calligraphy is a way to capture the beauty of the orality,” said Massumeh Farhad, chief curator at the Sackler and Freer galleries, which form the Smithsonian’s Asian art collections and exhibits.

Scholars don’t know exactly how scribes wrote Qurans centuries ago. Farhad said it’s possible they would inscribe verses as they were recited, each showing reverence through his skill and style.

“That’s why the work of Yaqut is considered so supreme,” Farhad added, referring to the 13th-century master scribe who worked in Baghdad for the last caliph of the Abbasid dynasty. “It has this sort of lightness. It seems to float on the page.”

The exhibit is not intended as commentary on today’s politics, its organizers said. Work started on the project six years ago, before sharp rises in Islamophobic rhetoric and violence in the U.S. and Europe, and before Muslim immigration and culture became a flashpoint in American and European politics.

But the Smithsonian is not sorry for the timing, and hopes the exhibit can help quell fears of Islam and its followers.

“The Art of the Qur’an” comes at “a difficult moment” in world affairs, said Raby, who said it may lead some to “reflect on their own assumptions.”

As the exhibit makes clear, Muslims refer to Jews and Christians as “ahl al-kitab” — people of the book. The curators show how the Quran, the Torah and the Christian Bible share variations of the same stories, and the same prophets’ teachings. One Quran at the Sackler is turned to a sura, or chapter, that explains:

“Step by step, He has sent the Scripture down to you [Prophet] with the Truth, confirming what went before: He sent down the Torah and the Gospel earlier as a guide for people and He has sent down the distinction [between right and wrong].”

The Turkish multinational Koc Holdings is the principal sponsor of “The Art of the Qur’an: Treasures from the Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts.”

Source: deseretnews.com/article/865665701/Smithsonian7s-Quran-exhibit-aims-to-dazzle-the-eyes-and-may-soften-the-heart.html?pg=all

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British Islamic toy store to battle extremism

October 26, 2016

Nazia Nasreen, 31, says her range of dolls, colorful prayer mats, Quran cards and Arabic letter blocks fill a gap in the market and also help battle extremism.

(AhlulBayt News Agency) - Nasreen, from Birmingham, set up Ibraheem Toy House in 2014 and sells her products all over the world, according to the Daily Mail.

She said: 'A lot of times children learn the wrong things and that's where the extremism kicks in. If the right educational toys and books are provided from a young age, we can instill the correct Islamic ethos and values in our children'.

She is in a group of leading British 'Muslim Mumpreneurs', which also includes Bake Off winner Nadiya Hussain, who juggle bringing up children and running successful businesses in what has traditionally been a male-dominated world.

The mother-of-two now sells 200 toys, games and other children's products and her turnover has near-doubled to £30,000 in just a year.

Popular products include dolls for £25, foam Arabic alphabet blocks for £12.99, a cardboard minaret for £22, prayer mats for £17 and Ramadan bunting for £9.

The businesswoman, whose biggest markets are Britain and America, also says the toys can 'instill the correct Islamic ethos and values in our children' and put them on the path the peace.

She says her business has built a 'fan following' and this weekend she will meet customers at a Muslim Lifestyle Expo in Manchester.

There will be at least 130 exhibitors taking part with female entrepreneurs last year showcasing non-alcoholic mocktails, greeting cards, luxury prayer mats, Islamic toys, fashion and cosmetics.

Explaining the importance of her products, Nasreen said: 'I want children to grow up being proud of their religion and heritage and knowing the truth about Islam.

'We teach what any other religion would how to pray, spirituality, sharing so from day one they have the core belief. Then they know who they are and no one can misguide them'.

Nasreen set up the business because she struggled to find the right toys for her own family.

She said: 'I struggled to find good quality, Islamic toys and books for my children from one store.

'I was exhausted having to shop around in a number of places just to buy Islamic toys and Eid presents for my little ones. I saw a gap in the market and sought to fill it, making Ibraheem Toy House the first online Islamic toy store in the UK'.

Source: en.abna24.com/service/europe/archive/2016/10/26/787932/story.html

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Germany charges Syrian teen over attack research for Islamic State

27.10.2016

Berlin (dpa) - A 19-year-old Syrian national has been charged in Germany, accused of having researched terrorist attack targets in Berlin on behalf of Islamic State, prosecutors said Thursday.

Shaas Al-M, whose full name was withheld in line with German privacy laws, has been charged with membership in a foreign terrorist organization and violation of a law that regulates the sale and transport of weapons of war.

In a statement, the federal prosecutor‘s office said that Shaas Al-M joined Islamic State in 2013. After undergoing religious and combat training, he took part in the clashes in and around the Syrian city of Deir al-Zour.

Shaas Al-M travelled to Germany in 2015 by posing as one of hundreds of thousands of Syrians fleeing war and travelling through the Western Balkans to northern Europe.

Prosecutors said he went on trips to Berlin to research potential targets for terrorist attacks, recruited at least one person for Islamic State and acted as a point person for would-be terrorists.

The teen, who prosecutors say was also prepared to carry out terrorist attacks himself, was taken into custody on March 22.

Germany has been on high alert since two terrorist attacks in the space of one week in July were claimed by Islamic State. Both were carried out by people who entered the country as asylum seekers.

Source: en.europeonline-magazine.eu/germany-charges-syrian-teen-over-attack-research-for-islamic-state_491927.html

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Russian Warships Headed to Syria Withdraw Request to Refuel in Spain

October 27, 2016

TEHRAN (FNA)- Russia withdrew a request for its aircraft carrier group, heading to the Syrian waters, to be refueled at the Spanish autonomous port of Ceuta, as the ships have already passed Gibraltar, a Russian Embassy source said.

“We confirm that the request has been withdrawn,” an official of the Russian Embassy in Spain said, RT reported.

Earlier, Spanish newspaper El Mundo reported that the naval group led by the aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov had already passed through the Strait of Gibraltar heading to the Eastern Mediterranean Sea.

“The Russian Embassy in Madrid has just informed us that it is withdrawing the request for permission for stopovers for these ships and these stopovers have therefore been cancelled,” Spain’s Foreign Ministry later said, quoted by Reuters.

A barrage of harsh statements followed when Spanish media reported that Russia’s naval battle group led by aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov would make a stopover at the autonomous port of Ceuta after passing the Straits of Gibraltar on Wednesday.

Later in the day, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg made it clear that the bloc wants Madrid to rethink the stopover permit.

“We are concerned and I have expressed that very clearly about potential use of this battle group to increase Russia’s ability and to be a platform for airstrikes against Syria,” he said.

“This is something I have conveyed very clearly before and I repeat those concerns today and I believe that all NATO allies are aware that this battle group can be used to conduct airstrikes against Aleppo and Syria.”

He then downplayed the rhetoric, noting that “it’s for each nation to decide whether these ships can get supplies and be fuelled in different harbors along the route towards the eastern Mediterranean.”

euta, an autonomous Spanish enclave on the tip of Africa’s northern coast, lies along the Straits of Gibraltar and borders Morocco, which also claims the territory as its own.

Although Ceuta is part of the EU, its status within NATO is still unresolved. Since 2011, Spain has rankled the bloc by allowing 57 Russian warships to refuel at the enclave.

The mission of the Admiral Kuznetsov carrier group has already triggered media frenzy across Europe, with British, Norwegian, and Dutch navies sending frigates and surveillance vessels to shadow the Russian warships as they round European shores through international waters.

Once they reach Syrian shores, the ships will provide backup for Russia’s naval standing group already deployed to the area, according to the Russian Defense Ministry.

Source: en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13950806000508

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India

Kashmir a matter for India, Pak to sort out: British PM

October 27, 2016

London: British Prime Minister Theresa May has said that the UK’s stand on Kashmir remains unchanged and it is a bilateral issue between India and Pakistan to address.

The issue was raised in the House of Commons during the weekly Prime Minister’s Questions session yesterday by Pakistani-born Labour MP Yasmin Qureshi, who asked if the Kashmir issue would form part of May’s discussions during her visit to India next month.

“I take the same view as this government has since it came into power, and indeed previously, which is that the issue of Kashmir is a matter for India and Pakistan to deal with and sort out,” the British PM said in Parliament, clearly indicating that Kashmir was unlikely to be on the agenda during her bilateral talks with Prime Minister Narendra Modi when she visits India between November 6 and 8.

Qureshi, who represents a heavily Pakistani-origin constituency of Bolton in north-west England, had questioned in the Commons: “Will the Prime Minister meet with me and cross-party colleagues to discuss the human rights abuses and the issue of self-determination for Kashmiri people, as was set out in the resolution of the UN in 1948 and can she raise this issue with the Indian Prime Minister.”

May, while dismissing any meeting herself, said: “The foreign secretary [Boris Johnson] has heard her representations and I am sure will be interested in taking those issues up with her.”

The British PM is scheduled to arrive in New Delhi on November 6 for her first overseas bilateral visit outside Europe.

Besides inaugurating the India-UK Tech Summit alongside Modi, she will be holding talks with her Indian counterpart before heading to Bengaluru.

May will be accompanied by a business delegation comprising small and medium enterprises from across the UK and her international trade minister, Liam Fox.

Source: siasat.com/news/kashmir-matter-india-pak-sort-british-pm-1050951/

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Donald Trump's America Would Look Like India

October 27, 2016

A Muslim man from Jaipur drugged his wife and forced her to sleep with a friend under the pretence of following nikah halala. The 42-year old victim filed a complaint on charges of rape. The nikah halala, according to Muslim Personal laws, dictates that a woman must consummate her marriage with another man if she wants to go back to her former husband, with whom she has been divorced. The victim told HT, that she could not get over the insult and shame that was meted out on her. She expressed her anger and said that her husband had her raped by his friend. “I feel angry, depressed, scared”, she cried.

The woman informed that her husband is also her cousin and had divorced her some 8 months ago. They had been married for 25 years before that. The couple also happens to have two grown up sons. The woman further informs that her husband used to insist her to sleep with his friends despite her refusing repeatedly. She talks about their divorce and says that her denial angered him one day and he gave her a ‘triple talaq’. where this gets interesting though that he still lived with her and had physical relations. “So why the need for halala?”, the woman asks. She talks about the day she was raped and says that her husband took her to his friend’s house for a drive and then drugged her with tablets. After reaching the friend’s house, she was made to swallow more tablets following which she passed out. She says that the next thing she remembered was waking up naked to his friend.

The husband then came into the room as she shouted and warned her not to fuss over it. When the woman went to a police station and the Muslim civil rights campaigners’ to report the case, he showed her a video clip of her in compromising position with his friend. The victim, though, did not pay any attention to these threats and immediately lodged a case of rape and cheating against him and his friend. Even Mohammed Iqbal of the Jamaat-e-Islami Hind, a part of the All India Muslim Personal Law Board, which is opposing the Uniform Civil Code agreed that since she was not married to the man, it was a case of rape must be punished.

Source: financialexpress.com/india-news/muslim-man-gets-wife-raped-by-friend-says-it-was-nikaah-halala/431778/

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India on the footsteps of Israel; plans to settle Hindus from Muslim countries in India

October 27, 2016

Hyderabad: With the country focusing on Uniform Civil Court debate, no one is observing that India is going to become a second Israel by paving way for legislation which will enable nationality on the basis of religion. For this purpose government is planning to make amendment to the Citizenship Act, 1955. This is one of the greatest threats to the constitution of India, as by amending Citizenship Act Hindus residing in Muslim countries will be brought to India.

Section 14 of Indian Constitution guarantees equal rights to foreign nationals belonging to all the religions, but the government by amending the Act attempt to provide Indian nationality to Hindis residing in Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan. Government’s proposal to make amendment to the Citizenship Act 1955 is part of a conspiracy to convert the country into a Hindu Rashtra.

After occupying a small part of Palestine, the Israel announced to bring back all the Jews from nook and corner of the world. After succeeding in its plans, it became the first country to rehabilitate the nation on religious grounds. Now India also seems to be on the foot steps of Israel and is preparing to make legislation to bring back, Hindus Sikh, Jain, Parsi and Christian to the country by providing them Indian nationality.

The proposal has invited criticism from the opposition which has accused government of granting citizenship to minorities from neighbouring countries on religious lines.

The Citizenship Amendment Bill seeks to allow illegal migrants belonging to the Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi or Christian religious communities coming from Afghanistan, Bangladesh or Pakistan to not be imprisoned or deported. The bill will enable the country to grant citizenship to minorities, mostly Hindus from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan, who fled their countries fearing religious persecution. The Bill creates an exception for Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan, and plans to reduce the requirement of 11 years of continuous stay to six years to obtain citizenship by naturalisation. The Bill, however, does not extend to illegal Muslim migrants.

Source: siasat.com/news/india-footsteps-israel-plans-settle-hindus-muslim-countries-india-1050917/

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Pakistan

Pakistan is major victim of terrorism, says Sartaj Aziz

October 27, 2016

Islamabad [Pakistan]: Pakistan Prime Minister’s Adviser on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz has claimed that Pakistan is a major victim of terrorism, including state sponsored acts of terrorism aimed at creating instability in the country.

Speaking to the Executive Director of the United Nations Security Council Counter-Terrorism Committee Jean-Paul Laborde in Islamabad, Aziz recalled the geo-political developments that have led to the rise of terrorism in the region during the last decades. He said this has placed Pakistan in the forefront of the international community’s fight against terrorism, reports Radio Pakistan.

The advisor said that Pakistan’s counter-terrorism is guided by the National Action Plan.

The tremendous sacrifices and efforts by Pakistan in the global counter-terrorism campaign were appreciated by the Executive Director of CTED.

Source: siasat.com/news/pakistan-major-victim-terrorism-says-sartaj-aziz-1050762/

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'I will tear Section 144 into 144 pieces': Sheikh Rashid

October 27, 2016

In a dramatic response to the Islamabad administration's order against public gatherings, Awami Muslim League (AML) Chief Sheikh Rashid has said that he will "tear Section 144 into 144 pieces."

"On Nov 2, Rawalpindi will be closed down no matter what anyone does," Rasheed told reporters Thursday adding, "from Chandi Chowk till Islamabad, people will come out onto the streets."

"We have not even started yet, we will start tomorrow from Lal Haveli," he added, referring to an old building in downtown Bohar Bazaar that serves as his political office.

"Congratulations, Nawaz Sharif, congratulations Shahbaz Sharif! You have started the game, now we will make sure you meet your end."

Earlier today, District Magistrate of Islamabad Capt (retd) Mushtaq Ahmed imposed Section 144 of the criminal procedure code (CrPC) in Islamabad for two months, creating another obstacle for Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf's (PTI) planned siege of Islamabad on November 2.

Under the order, the carrying and display of weapons and use of loudspeakers has been prohibited. Section 144 also prohibits public gatherings of five or more persons, rallies and demonstrations within Islamabad.

"No person other than the members of armed forces, civilian law enforcement agencies, Rangers and police on duty shall carry firearms or display firearms within the revenue/territorial limits of district Islamabad," said the notification issued by the magistrate's office.

Source: dawn.com/news/1292602/i-will-tear-section-144-into-144-pieces-sheikh-rashid

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Islamabad protest will be held at any cost on Nov 2, vows Imran

October 27, 2016

Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan on Thursday announced that Islamabad protest will be held at any cost on Nov 2.

Talking to reporters in Islamabad, the PTI chief said protest is their "legal and constitutional" right.

"No power or deception can stop us from holding a sit-in in Islamabad," he said.

"People have decided to hold the corrupt prime minister accountable in Islamabad or he will have to resign," he said, adding that "the government is using illegal and unconstitutional tactics to refrain us from holding a peaceful protest."

The government's measures have been pushing the situation towards chaos, he said.

"I want to ask judicial institutions to halt the government from taking anti-democratic and revengeful measures," he said adding that their people were being arrested, raids were being carried out at printers and they (the government) were threatening transporters.

"My fervour, passion and enthusiasm have been increasing day by day and my conscience tells me the darkness prevailing over Pakistan will be eliminated shortly."

The PTI chief held a press conference, following a meeting of party's cadres to review the latest situation after the Islamabad High Court questioned Imran Khan's authority in announcing plans of a lockdown in Islamabad.

The court asked Islamabad authorities to ensure that no roads are blocked and all institutions function normally on Nov 2.

"We are not taking unconstitutional steps but the prime minister, whose corruption has been seen, is breaking the law. Holding a public office when you are suspected of committing a crime is unconstitutional," he said.

"We have been waiting for seven months that some institution would come forward and hold Nawaz Sharif accountable."

Khan asked the Islamabad police not to act blindly upon directions being issued by the government against PTI.

“You are mistaken that you will go free after torturing peaceful protesters. The nation will not spare you and you will not be able to find a place to hide. Their (the government's) time is up. Who will provide shelter to you?”

He said, “It is my message for you: go by the book.”

Source: dawn.com/news/1292597/islamabad-protest-will-be-held-at-any-cost-on-nov-2-vows-imran

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March on Islamabad bid to pressure SC: Fazl

October 27, 2016

PESHAWAR: JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman has prescribed an easy solution to the federal government to foil the PTPs Nov 2 Islamabad lock down plan. Block the supply of hashish for two days and they will disperse automatically, he told charged party workers during a convention here in Bagh-i-Naran on Wednesday.

The JUI-F chief said the people, who had planned protest in Islamabad, had never experienced hard times. Without naming names, he said, they are drug addicts and will soon vacate the venue of the sit-in after the stoppage of hashish consignment.

Mr. Fazl termed the PTPs accountability march an attempt to pressurize the Supreme Court to give verdict in its favour on identical petitions seeking disqualification of the prime minister over the Panama Papers.

He said some forces were trying to destabilise democratic system and judiciary in the name of accountability and eradication of corruption. The JUI-F chief said there was no justification for protest after the filing of petitions in the Supreme Court, especially after date was fixed for hearing into them.

This is the most corrupt government in the history of KP, he said, adding that top institutions had been destroyed in the province.

Mr. Fazl said the KP Ehtesab Commission director general was forced to resign after he started inquiries against the chief minister and his ministers over corruption.

They (PTI and its allies) are trying to exert pressure on the judiciary to get verdict of their choice in Panama Papers case. There is no moral justification for Islamabad lock down, he said.

The JUI-F leader said nobody could dare destabilise democracy and judiciary in the country. He said the PTI had employed double standard in politics as on one hand, it demanded judicial inquiry into Panama Papers case and on the other, its government in the province had refused to ask the Peshawar High Court to conduct inquiry into the Bank of Khyber scam.

Mr. Fazl said the KP government had authorised a minister to conduct inquiry into the BOK scandal though that minister was expelled from the cabinet on the charge of corruption.

He added that the same minister`s party was again made the PTPs coalition partner. I have respect for Qaumi Watan Party and its leadership but this is a fact that Sikandar Sherpao was expelled from the government on corruption charge,he said.

The JUI-F chief said the KP government had virtually bankrupted and asked foreign donors to provide $700 million loan with markup. He said on one hand, the coalition government was propagating in favour of Islamic banking system in the province, while on the other, it was obtaining loan at high markup.

Mr. Fazl said the PTPs agitation plan was aimed at sabotaging China-Pakistan Economic Corridor and power generation projects to stop economic growth in the country. He said tensions had escalated on the country`s eastern border, while the PTI had planned Islamabad lock down.

The nation needs unity atthiscritical moment, he said. Condemning terrorist attack on the police training college in Quetta, the JUI-F chief said the acts of terrorism had been occurring in the country since the times Pakistan joined the US-led war on terrorism. He said Pakistan had suffered due to the war on terrorism, while policymakers still believed that the shift in policy after 9/11 was in the country`s interest.

Source: dawn.com/news/1292582/march-on-islamabad-bid-to-pressure-sc-fazl

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Either police or PTI will ‘lockdown’ capital

October 27, 2016

ISLAMABAD/RAWALPINDI: The federal capital will be cut off from the rest of the country on Nov 2, no matter who controls its entry-exit points – law enforcement agencies or the protesting Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaaf (PTI).

Police officials told Dawn that while PTI had announced their intentions to lock down the capital, law enforcement personnel will also be manning blockades on the city’s entry/exit points.

Although the Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT) administration and police still have no clear instructions on how to handle the demonstrators, they will be on hand in case the protesters try to breach the capital or become violent.

If security personnel are asked to intercept the protesters, police officials said, they must have control over the entry/exit points, which will be blocked either with shipping containers or by any other means.

Rawalpindi police have already chalked out a strategy to prevent people from reaching the PTI’s protest; they will be using containers and trucks to block access points to Islamabad in at least 13 places, including Bhara Kahu, Tarnol, T-Chowk in Rawat and on I.J. Principal Road.

Law enforcement personnel apprehensive of showdown with KP CM’s police guard

It is not difficult to choke or paralyse the capital, officials said. “Previous experiences suggest that even a couple of dozen people are enough,” a police officer told Dawn. Faizabad was the main interchange linking the twin cities and blocking it would paralyse other roads, as had been witnessed in the past.

Other access roads to the capital, including Park Road, Ninth Avenue and I.J. Principal Road, cannot bear the burden of traffic that plies on Islamabad Expressway and any disruption results in massive traffic jams, where vehicles could be stuck for up to five to seven hours on normal days, officials said.

Police showdown?

Although officials said that they were ready to respond to whatever directives were issued by the interior minister or the government, insiders fear a confrontation between law enforcers from different parts of the country.

A major concern is the PTI leadership, supporters and activists coming to Islamabad from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Most people would be arriving in large groups or motorcades, which will also include the KP chief minister and other government functionaries – who will be guarded by police from the province.

“How can Islamabad or Punjab police intercept the chief minister or ministers of another province? If the law and order situation spirals out of control, what will the KP police do, and what will be the role of their counterparts from the capital and Punjab?”

Faced with this daunting question, most officials said they would not like to think of such a situation. “A face-off with the KP police will be awful for morale and most officials from the police and ICT administration are not willing to face such a situation,” an official said.

Impounding drive

In line with their plan, Rawalpindi police have started impounding shipping containers, freight and smaller trucks on Wednesday – a full week ahead of the PTI’s planned siege. Sources said that these would be used to block the capital’s entry points, while smaller trucks would be used by police to fulfill their own logistical requirements.

The impounding of heavy vehicles sparked panic among transporters and the business community, who claimed that some of the impounded trucks were loaded with goods and were worried they would face losses if they remained in police custody for a week or more.

Islamabad police, meanwhile, are also arranging sand to fill the containers, so they cannot be moved by the protesters.

Officials said they had asked for funding to the tune of Rs50 million to implement the security plan, which also calls for blocking the path of rallies coming from KP. Blockades will be placed on the Attock Bridge, as well as Hasanabdal and Taxila.

Since Tarnol is one of the only places near the capital where freight terminals operate, police expect there to be a shortage of containers, since police from Islamabad, Rawalpindi, Attock, Taxila and Fateh Jang will all need them.

Islamabad police have already indicated they need more than 300 containers to properly seal off the capital and prevent PTI rallies from entering the capital.

Police wishlist

Rawalpindi police had already requested the Punjab inspector general’s office for around 5,000 rubber bullets, 1,500 batons and 5,000 teargas shells. The Rawalpindi city police officer (CPO) has also asked all station house officers to deposit their anti-riot equipment at the police armoury – for stock taking purposes, as well as to check whether the tools are in proper working order.

On Tuesday, a senior police official inspected the rubber bullets available police in the armoury and was surprised to find that some of them had ‘expired’.

Another official, requesting anonymity, told Dawn the expired bullets had been separated from the usable stock, but did not provide an exact number of the latter.

According to police, available stocks include 238 gas masks, 192 teargas launchers and 5,000 tear gas shells, but they have asked for another 50 launchers and around 2,000 more teargas shells.

The armoury also has 178 batons, 690 plastic helmets, 620 riot jackets, 90 riot shields, 1,527 shin guards and 2,900 arm guards currently in stock.

Islamabad police, meanwhile, have only received four of the eight armoured personnel carriers (APCs) they had asked for. The assistant inspector general (AIG) for operations had written to the interior ministry last month, asking that the government of Sindh be asked to provide more prison vans and APCs, but so far, no response has been received.

They have also asked for space to be cleared in the two main district jails, Adiala and Attock, so that there is place to accommodate PTI leaders, supporters and activists if the order to arrest them is issued.

Reserves requested by Islamabad police have also begun to arrive. Of the 25,000 Frontier Constabulary personnel requested, only 5,000 have been sent so far. The Punjab reserves, who were asked to send 5,000 personnel, have only committed 1,500 so far.

Source: dawn.com/news/1292549/either-police-or-pti-will-lockdown-capital

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Khurshid fears showdown over PTI sit-in, tells govt to exercise restraint

October 27, 2016

HYDERABAD: Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Syed Khurshid Ahmed Shah has advised both sides to exercise restraint and urged the Nawaz government to preclude the option of use of force against the planned lockdown of Islamabad by the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) on Nov 2.

Mr Shah was speaking to journalists at the residence of PPP parliamentary leader in National Assembly, Syed Naveed Qamar, after attending Soyem of his father Syed Qamaruzzaman Shah in Latifabad on Wednesday evening. Mr Shah was accompanied by senior party leaders Qamar Zaman Kaira and Chaudhry Manzoor.

Asked if he saw any threat to the democratic system in view of the present situation, Mr Shah replied: “As I’ve expressed my fear earlier. There can be a threat to the democratic system”.

He said that in a democratic system it was every individual’s right to stage protests and uncountable protests had been held in past. “But there is a fear this protest may take an ugly turn. The government, therefore, should keep it in its mind that it will not resort to use of force and the PTI must ensure the protest should not culminate in any loss of life,” he said.

He said the PPP had waged decisive struggles against three dictators but its leadership always ensured no harm came to the workers. “Our leaders sacrificed their lives but made sure the workers did not suffer,” he said, adding that he hoped Imran Khan would also try his best that his workers were not pushed into a situation which led to loss of lives.

Mr Shah shared details of government-PPP talks over the present situation arising out of Panama Papers issue and Nov 2 PTI lockdown and disclosed it appeared there was no dispute over three of four points and the fourth one could be discussed to find out a resolution.

“We told the government that opposition parties are signatory to the bill [for inquiry into the issue of Panama Papers]. If the government makes a headway on it then I will talk to the opposition parties. I asked them to tell us how far they [government] can go,” he said.

About Imran Khan’s harsh comment against him, Mr Shah said that it was a figment of his imagination as there were no investigations pending against him and (even if there were any) even PTI chairman had faced various accusations from time to time.

“We are experienced politicians and have been deeply involved in politics. We have seen breakup of the country, execution of our leader and derailment of democratic process but Imran Khan has seen nothing of the sort so far,” he said.

He said the onus for the protection of workers rested with Imran Khan and if any harm came to them only he would be responsible for it as it was he who was urging them on all through his public meetings.

He expressed concern over the situation and said “the conditions are quite serious. I hope whatever is the outcome of the protest it is peaceful”.

On a politician’s statement that movements demanded ‘blood’, Mr Shah said that if it was true then the leader should come forward to shed his blood first and not ask the workers for it. “PPP leaders have always sacrificed first in movements and then others followed. We lead from the front but they are asking for children’s blood which only a ‘witch’ can do,” he said.

He said that PPP believed in parliamentary system and it wanted all issues to be resolved in parliament.

About announcement of new army chief, he said the prime minister should not have delayed it. “He [PM] should have taken a decision 15 days back,” he said.

Source: dawn.com/news/1292468/khurshid-fears-showdown-over-pti-sit-in-tells-govt-to-exercise-restraint

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Pak summons Indian envoy over ‘ceasefire violations’

October 26, 2016

Islamabad: For the second day in a row, Pakistan today summoned India’s Deputy High Commissioner and lodged a strong protest over alleged “unprovoked firing” by Indian forces along the Working Boundary and Line of Control.

It was second day in succession that Indian envoy JP Singh was summoned by the Foreign Office over violation of ceasefire.

“The Indian Deputy High Commissioner was summoned by the Director General (South Asia & SAARC) today. A strong protest was lodged against the unprovoked ceasefire violations,” the Foreign Office said in a statement.

The protest was lodged over violation of ceasefire agreement at the Working Boundary in Chaprar and Harpal sectors and on the LoC in Bhimber sector on 25-26 October, the statement said.

Pakistan said that two civilians were killed and nine others injured in the firing.

“It was conveyed to the Indian side that it should investigate the incident and share the findings with Pakistan, instruct its troops to respect the ceasefire, in letter and spirit, refrain from intentionally targeting the villages and maintain peace on the Working Boundary and the LoC,” FO said.

India had yesterday said Pakistan Army violated the ceasefire by targeting Indian Army positions with mortar and small arms fire in Noushera sector of Rajouri district, prompting the army to give a “befitting response”.

There have been over 40 ceasefire violations from the Pakistani side since the Indian side carried out surgical strikes inside Pakistan occupied Kashmir targeting terror launching pads, post the attack on an army camp in Uri on September 18.

Source: siasat.com/news/pak-summons-indian-envoy-ceasefire-violations-1050576/

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Mideast

Turkey, US top law officials talk Gülen extradition

October 27, 2016

Turkish Justice Minister Bekir Bozdağ said on Oct. 26 that he had “a productive conversation” with his American counterpart, Loretta Lynch, regarding the extradition of the leader of the Gülenist organization, Fethullah Gülen.  

“We discussed Turkey’s requests about extradition as well as his temporary detention,” Bozdağ said at a news conference with members of the Turkish press in Washington.      

Ankara has accused Gülen of plotting a failed coup attempt in Turkey in July.

Bozdağ said he also expressed to Lynch that it was not acceptable for American authorities to drag their feet on the extradition request.

“For the first time, a Turkish justice minister is visiting a country for the extradition of a criminal residing in that country,” Bozdağ said, noting the importance of the case to the Turkish government.

Bozdağ said American leaders understood Turkey’s concerns, noting that experts of the two countries would work together on the case.

Turkey does not want the U.S. to hand over Gülen by bypassing the court system, Bozdağ said. Turkey wants American courts to process the evidence Ankara has provided against the organization’s leader.      

“We have submitted sufficient, even more than sufficient, evidence to have him [Gülen] detained,” he said.        

Bozdağ also shared Turkey’s concerns that Gülen might flee the U.S., adding that Ankara has intelligence that the leader is searching for asylum in a number of countries, including Belgium, Canada and Brazil.

The minister presented a document to his counterpart that depicts the text of an agreement signed between the Ottoman Empire and the U.S. in 1874 regarding the extradition of criminals.

Turkey’s documents includes evidence that Gülen’s network established a quasi-state within the Turkish state in an attempt to topple the government and ultimately tried to take over the state via a bloody coup.

Turkish authorities also issued an official request for Gülen’s extradition under a 1979 treaty between Turkey and the U.S.

Source: hurriyetdailynews.com/turkey-us-top-law-officials-talk-gulen-extradition--.aspx?pageID=238&nID=105413&NewsCatID=509

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45 Army Pilots Detained in Turkey as Opposition Crackdown Continues

October 27, 2016

TEHRAN (FNA)- Forty-five Turkish army pilots were detained in an anti-terror investigation into a opposition group in the country on Thursday, security sources said.

A provincial security source spoke on condition of anonymity due to restriction on talking to media said that the arrests occurred in 17 provinces across the country, Anadolu reported.

The Konya chief public prosecutor issued the arrest warrants for 73 pilots, 71 lieutenants and two colonels, early Thursday as part of an investigation into the opposition group linked to the US-based Turkish leading opposition figure, Fethullah Gulen.

The apprehended pilots went through medical examinations at Konya State Hospital, the sources said.

The operation to arrest the suspects is still underway, the sources added.

Meanwhile, 26 police officers were referred to the court in Bursa province Thursday for using a smartphone messaging app, ByLock, linked to the deadly July 15 coup attempt.

ByLock was allegedly used by Gulen group's members, which the government blames for being behind the coup attempt.

The app is believed to have been cracked by Turkish security agencies before the coup, prompting the plotters to switch to the WhatsApp messaging service but not before tens of thousands of suspects had been identified.

In addition, four police chiefs were arrested in Istanbul early Tuesday for alleged links to the opposition groups.

US-based Fetullah Gulen is accused of orchestrating Turkey’s July 15 coup plot as well as being behind a long-running campaign to overthrow the state through the infiltration of Turkish institutions, particularly the military, police and judiciary.

The July 15 defeated coup left 241 people killed and some 2,200 injured.

Source: en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13950806000573

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One soldier killed in PKK attack in Turkey’s southeast

October 26, 2016

One soldier was killed in an outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) attack on Oct. 27 in the southeastern Turkish province of Bingöl, state-run Anadolu Agency has reported.

PKK militants detonated a hand-made explosive during the passage of a military vehicle in the Kiğı district of Bingöl.

The security forces subsequently launched an operation to apprehend the PKK militants.

Source: hurriyetdailynews.com/one-soldier-killed-in-pkk-attack-in-turkeys-southeast.aspx?pageID=238&nID=105415&NewsCatID=341

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Istanbul gears up for mass underground tunnel project up to 2023

October 27, 2016

The Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality is set to build 28 transport tunnels across major parts of the city, amounting to 145 kilometers in length and expected to be completed by 2023, pro-government daily Yeni Şafak reported on Oct. 27.

According to the project, 17 tunnels totaling 98 kilometers in length will be completed by 2019 and 11 tunnels totaling 47 kilometers will be constructed after 2019 for completion by 2023.   

Some 22 tunnels will be located on the European side of the notoriously traffic-snarled city, while six of them will cover the Asian side. Construction of the Kasımpaşa-Sütlüce and Libadiye-Çamlıca tunnels, which are 5.78 kilometers long, have already reached an end.

The tunnels project aims to provide undisrupted transportation over long distances in the city. Through a tunnel that begins from the Kağıthane district of Istanbul, for example, vehicles will be able to reach Bayrampaşa district and from there arrive in the Bağcılar district.

Another tunnel to be built between Dolmabahçe and Levazım, extending to Ayazağa and then to Baltalimanı and Çayıbaşı, will make the Beşiktaş-Sarıyer route more direct. A 52 kilometer-long tunnel that will extend from Kağıthane to Büyükçekmece, meanwhile, will connect six districts of Istanbul.   

In the projects due to be launched after 2019, Davutpaşa will be linked to Samatya, Merter will be linked to Kazlıçeşme, and Kadıköy will be linked to the Kuşdili area.

The Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality had in June unanimously approved the underground tunnel project inspired by Madrid and Barcelona in Spain, in a bid to ease congestion by taking 300,000 vehicles underground with its “dive in, dive out” model.

Istanbul was in April 2015 ranked as the world’s worst city for traffic congestion by GPS maker TomTom.

According to the project, a six-tunnel-road passing through the Büyükçekmece, Esenyurt, Avcılar, Küçükçekmece, Bahçelievler, Bayrampaşa, Kağıthane and Sarıyer districts will be constructed on Istanbul’s European side and will be connected to the TEM highway and the D100 highway. 

Most of the areas where the tunnels will be constructed are already built on, with some included in disaster risk areas but some within unplanned area borders. Parts of the Sarıyer-Kilyos section of the project, however, are under protection as natural areas.

Source: hurriyetdailynews.com/istanbul-gears-up-for-mass-underground-tunnel-project-up-to-2023.aspx?pageID=238&nID=105421&NewsCatID=344

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Turkey may send additional troops to Bashiqa

October 27, 2016

Turkey is considering deploying more troops to the Bashiqa military camp in northern Iraq due to the increasing threat posed by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), if the Ankara-Baghdad talks on the status of the camp fail, sources have told the Hürriyet Daily News.

A visiting Turkish delegation presented a draft to Iraqi officials in Baghdad on Oct. 17 where the parties amended some of the articles following proposals by the Iraqi side, Turkish officials said on condition of anonymity.

The agreement will identify the current status and future of the Turkish troops, with Turkey insisting the soldiers remain stationed in Bashiqa until the end of the Mosul offensive. A formula that would bring the status of the Bashiqa camp under the mandate of the coalition forces has long been proposed by Turkey.

The next round of talks between Ankara and Baghdad will be held upon a reply from the Iraqi side.

Meanwhile, ISIL fighters on Oct. 26 kept up their fierce defense of the southern approaches to Mosul which has held up Iraqi troops on the southern front and forced an elite army unit east of the city to put its more rapid advance on hold.

Ten days into the offensive, Iraqi army and federal police units are trying to dislodge the militants from villages in the region of Shora, 30 kilometers south of Iraq’s second largest city.

The frontlines in other areas have moved much closer to the edges of Mosul, the last major city under control of the militants in Iraq, who have held it since 2014.

The elite army unit which moved in from the east has paused its advance as it approaches built-up areas, waiting for the other attacking forces to close the gap.

“As Iraqi forces move closer to Mosul, we see that Daesh [ISIL] resistance is getting stronger,” said Maj. Chris Parker, a coalition spokesman at the Qayyara airbase south of Mosul that serves as a hub for the campaign, which U.S.’ CENTCOM commander Gen. Joseph Votel visited on Oct. 25.

Qayyarah West, located about 60 kilometerssouth of the city, has been resurrected after jihadists smashed it to pieces when they seized much of northern Iraq in 2014.

Votel’s C-130 cargo plane touched down in total darkness, one of the first fixed-wing aircraft in years to land at the base.

“This is where supplies will come into, it’s where Iraqi forces will come into. Being able to sustain the fight for the Iraqi forces will be critical, and this airfield will play a very important role,” Votel told reporters travelling with him.

As the offensive continued, around 700 people fled the village of Tob Zawa early on Tuesday, escaping the military operation to recapture Iraq’s second biggest city from the jihadists who have controlled it for nearly two and a half years.

Special forces Maj. Gen. Haider Fadhil said residents of Tob Zawa and other villages were taken to a camp in the nearby Khazer region for their safety.

Tob Zawa, close to the main road into Mosul from the east, is one of the first populated villages reached by Iraqi counter-terrorism forces after they cleared ISIL last week from a Christian region which has been largely empty since 2014.

U.N. aid agencies said the fighting has so far forced about 10,600 to flee their homes. Lise Grande, the UN humanitarian coordinator for Iraq, told Reuters on Oct. 25 that a mass exodus could happen, maybe within the next few days.

Source: hurriyetdailynews.com/turkey-may-send-additional-troops-to-bashiqa.aspx?pageID=238&nID=105397&NewsCatID=359

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Supreme Court of Appeal upholds acquittal of 357 in military espionage case

October 27, 2016

Turkey’s Supreme Court of Appeals has upheld a decision to acquit 357 people who were tried in the controversial military espionage case, believed to have been pursued by prosecutors linked to the U.S.-based Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen.

In February, a court in İzmir eventually acquitted 357 suspects, including active-duty soldiers, in the trial of a military espionage case in which defendants were accused of “keeping confidential military information and documents.”

The case refers to the 2011 prosecution of 56 members of the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) on charges of military espionage and blackmailing, including illegal wiretapping, founding a criminal organization, and espionage. The indictment alleged that the accused intended to share information with third parties in return for financial gain.

One of the lawyers of the acquitted defendants, Aykanat Kaçmaz, said the decision of the court of appeals meant the path was now clear for the promotion of commissioned and non-commissioned officers who were under arrest during their trials. 

After the initial acquittal of the suspects, an investigation was launched into a number of police officials, including former İzmir Police Chief Ail Bilkay, for organizing a plot against the soldiers embroiled in the case.

Police officers and prosecutors behind the case are thought to be linked to the Gülen movement, a former ally of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) who is now accused by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan of attempting to overthrow the government.

Source: hurriyetdailynews.com/supreme-court-of-appeal-upholds-acquittal-of-357-in-military-espionage-case.aspx?pageID=238&nID=105396&NewsCatID=509

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Hürriyet dismisses daily Sabah claims over ByLock story

October 26, 2016

Daily Hürriyet has excoriated the pro-government daily Sabah for insinuating that a recent interview in the former with the rights holder for an app allegedly used by the Gülenists was part of a “joint operation carried out” by the group and the CIA.

“This is slander that will take its place in Turkey’s media history with its inappropriateness,” said the statement published on the daily’s official website on Oct. 27.

Sabah’s story claimed that during her visit to the United States last week, Hürriyet Chairwoman Vuslat Doğan Sabancı was contacted by David Keynes, the patent holder of the ByLock app who was interviewed by Hürriyet. The daily said the claim was “a big lie.”

The statement concluded that Hürriyet would initiate all necessary legal proceedings to refute this “groundless story.”

On Oct. 16, prominent Hürriyet reporter İsmail Saymaz interviewed Keynes in New York, unearthing details about the creation of the app, which has prompted a number of indictments and paved the way for numerous trials in the aftermath of the July 15 coup attempt in Turkey.

On Oct. 26, Saymaz was called as a witness to provide testimony to an Istanbul prosecutor as part of ongoing investigations into the Gülen movement.

In his testimony, Saymaz said he wanted to conduct the interview because ByLock was regarded as the “most important evidence” that would enlighten probes into the Güelnist organization.

“We acted based on the idea that we have found the clearest, strongest and most concrete evidence concerning this link. We confirmed first-hand that ByLock has been used as an organizational communication means. Therefore unlike as claimed, we have made a big contribution to the probe,” said Saymaz.

 Source: hurriyetdailynews.com/hurriyet-dismisses-daily-sabah-claims-over-bylock-story-.aspx?pageID=238&nID=105417&NewsCatID=339

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Southeast Asia

Military probing Malaysian terror suspect for Abu Sayyaf ties

October 27, 2016

ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines -- The Intelligence Service of the Armed Forces of the Philippines has been interrogating a suspected Malaysian terrorist captured in Basilan, a security official said Thursday.

Ahmad Tarmizi ben Muhamad Sayoti, who has been linked to the Abu Sayyaf Group under Isnilon Hapilon, initially denied his ties to the terrorist group when captured,  Maj. Filemon Tan Jr., spokesperson of the Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom), said.

Sayoti was trying to slip back to Malaysia using the southern backdoor when he was arrested by the military. Col. Cirilo Donato, commander of the 104th Infantry Brigade, reported earlier that operatives recovered an improvised bomb from the suspect.

“But it was proven that he is from another country [and] linked up with the Abu Sayyaf group in Basilan,” Tan said.

Tan said Sayoti was even seen in one of the terrorist’s videos flashing the "No. 1" sign associated with the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria and bearing the black flag of the ISIS.

“So, ISAFP is in the best position to conduct the tactical interrogation to determine why Sayoti met with the ASG (Abu Sayyaf Group) and what is the purpose of the meeting,” Tan added.

Sayoti's arrest underscored an observation of Indonesia-based think tank Institute for Policy Analysis of Conflict (IPAC) that it is important “more than ever” for law enforcement agencies to know and understand links with terror groups abroad.

The IPAC cited the existence of local jihadist groups Abu Sayyaf, Maute Group, Ansarul Khilafa Philippines (AKP), and the breakaway Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF), who are willing to be affiliated with international terror groups in exchange for support.

IPAC director Sydney Jones, in her latest analysis, said more militant fighters could also be attracted to the Philippines “as the jihad of choice” as ISIS gets pushed back in Syria and Iraq.

Jones said getting to Syria becomes increasingly difficult for Southeast Asian fighters. “Mindanao may be the next best option. The difference is that it’s easier to get home.”

Source: philstar.com/headlines/2016/10/27/1637885/military-probing-malaysian-terror-suspect-abu-sayyaf-ties

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Fear stalks Myanmar’s Rakhine State in wake of deadly attacks

27 October 2016

At the time, the 23-year-old fisherman was in his village on the outskirts of Maungdaw Township in the north of Myanmar’s Rakhine State.

Neighbours were roused from sleep. Phonecalls were made. The shooting continued for hours.

“We didn’t really know what was happening,” he said on Wednesday, sitting in a tent at a shelter full of ethnic Rakhine people in Sittwe, the state capital, about a five-hour boat ride south of Maungdaw. “And all of us were really afraid.”

His village, Mrauk Paing, is a 15-minute drive from one of three border guard posts attacked in the early hours of that day. Myanmar’s government initially stated that the suspects belonged to a previously-unheard-of Islamist militant group with ties to the Pakistani Taliban, but later said all the details were not known. Muslim organisations in Myanmar have condemned the attacks.

The assault killed nine police officers, according to the government, and set off a manhunt that has reportedly resulted in the deaths of five soldiers and dozens of ethnic Rohingya. The attacks and the violent response – which has generated reports of widespread abuses of civilians – have further destabilised Rakhine state.

The coastal state on the western fringe of the country is mostly populated by Rakhine Buddhists, but the areas around Maungdaw, which borders Bangladesh, are predominantly Rohingya Muslim. One of Myanmar’s most volatile regions, intercommunal violence exploded in Rakhine State in 2012 when about 140,000 Rohingya were burned out of their homes and then relocated to displacement camps, mostly outside Sittwe.

Almost 120,000 Rohingya are still in camps today, along with a much smaller number of Rakhines. But even Rohingya who remain in their villages live under apartheid-like conditions, mostly stateless with their movements tightly restricted and limited access to medical care and education.

The violence over the past couple of weeks has displaced another 15,000 Rohingya and 3,000 Rakhines, according to aid agencies and Human Rights Watch. The rights group has called on the government to allow humanitarian groups access to Maungdaw to deliver aid.

In the wake of the attacks, more than 1,000 displaced Rakhines made their way to Sittwe, among them Shwe Maung and his family.

No one knew what was happening in the confusing first hours of 9 October. Shwe Maung’s community took up sticks, knives and slingshots and established a security perimeter.

The community watch stayed up until after sunrise. Once they learned more about what happened they grew concerned for their own safety and arranged car rides out of the village and boat rides down to Sittwe. More than two weeks after that night, Rakhine Buddhists who fled Maungdaw are still hunkered down in a miniature tent city inside Sittwe’s only sports stadium. Others are in makeshift shelters and monasteries.

Hla Win, a member of a Sittwe community organisation that is coordinating the relief efforts with support from the government and local donations, said the authorities are attempting to get them back to their homes “as soon as possible”.

Although some have started to return, many are too scared to make the journey, according to interviews with several people sheltering in the stadium. They receive updates from neighbours who stayed behind to guard property.

“Until now, that situation is unstable,” said Shwe Maung. “We have to wait until it is stable.”

Fuelling tensions

Some of the official statements from the Myanmar authorities are unlikely to have helped calm the situation.

On 18 October, Home Affairs Minister Lieutenant General Kyaw Swe suggested it was important for Rakhine Buddhists to return so they would not become even more outnumbered by Rohingya Muslims.

“If our ethnics leave their own places, [they] will replace them in those free spaces. I don’t want this to happen,” he told reporters. “For us, one man only marries a woman. For them [Muslims], a man marries four women. If one is breeding 10 children, there can be 40 people in a family. So I want our ethnic people to love their own places.”

There has been no substantial change over the past few decades in the number of Rohingya in Rakhine State, where they comprise about one third of the population of a little over three million. Yet such sentiments are widespread throughout Myanmar, a predominantly Buddhist country where an extreme nationalist version of the religion has grown increasingly popular over recent years.

The government has so far refused calls by the UN and others to investigate reports of abuses and killings of civilians during the military operation in Maungdaw.

“While the state has the legitimate authority and power to carry out operations to pursue the alleged perpetrators of the 9 October attacks, such crimes should be investigated and prosecuted in a court of law and not dealt with violence,” Agnes Callamard, the UN special rapporteur on summary executions, said in a statement on Monday.

Living in fear

As soldiers continue to sweep through Maungdaw, fear that the violence of 2012 could erupt again has spread throughout the region.

In the grassy grounds of the stadium in Sittwe, six rows of white tents are pitched with piles of firewood stacked up at the entrances. Families sleep on maps inside and bathe using a handful of temporary pools next to a line of wooden outhouses. Laundry hangs on a line strung up between goal posts.

Ma Sandar Win, 30, says she doesn’t want to go back until everything “calms down”. She is worried about the journey, which passes through villages with Muslim residents.

“Who can give us security for that?” she asked.

Source: irinnews.org/news/2016/10/27/fear-stalks-myanmar%E2%80%99s-rakhine-state-wake-deadly-attacks

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Malaysian terror suspect nabbed in the Philippines

OCT 27, 2016

Philippine security officials have arrested a Malaysian suspected of helping to train militants belonging to the Abu Sayyaf terror group in bomb-making.

Colonel Cirilo Donato, commander of the Army's 104th Infantry Brigade, said on Tuesday Ahmad Tarmizi Muhamad Sayoti was captured early this month at a port in Maluso town in Basilan - 880km south of the capital Manila - while attempting to slip back to Malaysia.

Brigadier-General Restituto Padilla, the military's spokesman, told The Straits Times yesterday Ahmad Tarmizi is now being investigated by the national police's elite anti-terror unit.

Col Donato said the Malaysian was tracked down using leads provided by civilians who saw him armed and bearing the black flag of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) at an Abu Sayyaf camp in Baguindan village, Tipo-Tipo town, also in Basilan.

The military captured the camp in August.

As getting to Syria becomes increasingly difficult for South-east Asian fighters, Mindanao may be the next best option.

Col Donato said Ahmad Tarmizi was nabbed as he was about to board a boat that would have taken him to Malaysia. He had on him materials for making improvised explosive devices.

In Kuala Lumpur, Inspector-General of Police Khalid Abu Bakar confirmed yesterday that the suspect was Malaysian and from Kelantan, and that he was "a supporter of the Islamic struggles in southern Philippines". A Jakarta-based think-tank, the Institute for Policy Analysis of Conflict (Ipac) reported on Tuesday that the Abu Sayyaf and three other Islamist groups in the southern Philippine island group of Mindanao were getting funding and training from ISIS operatives in Malaysia and Indonesia. These operatives, in turn, receive refuge and protection at the militants' camps spread across Mindanao.

It said the Sept 2 bombing of a popular night market in President Rodrigo Duterte's home city of Davao in Mindanao that left 15 dead was a collaborative effort of these groups.

On Oct 4, security officials arrested three suspects said to be part of the Maute group and schooled in bomb-making by Malaysian terrorist Zulkifli Hir, alias Marwan, who was killed in a police raid in January.

The bombing was an attempt to win support from ISIS and to derail military offensives against the Abu Sayyaf in Sulu and Basilan, according to security officials.

Ipac director Sidney Jones said extremists have identified Mindanao as their "next best option" for a caliphate, as it has become more difficult for them to slip into Syria.

She added: "Over the last two years, ISIS has provided a new basis for cooperation among extremists in the region. That cooperation could take on a new importance as ISIS losses in the Middle East increase and the incentive to undertake violence elsewhere rises."

Source: straitstimes.com/asia/malaysian-terror-suspect-nabbed-in-the-philippines

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Indonesia Proposed Islamic Law Would Put Sexually Active People In Prison

10/26/16

Anyone engaging in sex outside of marriage in the world’s third-largest democracy could soon face up to five years in prison. Indonesia’s highest court is deliberating whether to broaden existing law to make all casual sex illegal in the latest bid by conservative Islamists in the country to revise a relatively secular legal code.

A decision by the Constitutional Court is expected in December or early next year, with indications that the court is leaning toward enacting the tougher legislation. While adultery is currently punishable by up to nine months in prison, if the new law goes through it would make gay sexual relations illegal in Indonesia for the first time. It has already received backlash from human rights organizations.

“This [petition] consists of discrimination towards all Indonesians,” Bahrain, who like many Indonesians goes by one name, told the court at a hearing in early October, reports the Washington Post. The director of advocacy at the Legal Aid Center continued: “Women as well as men, and those of diverse sexual orientations. The center is one of several progressive advocacy organizations arguing against revising the constitution to ban sex outside of marriage.”

While it is the most populous Muslim-majority country in the world, Indonesia’s legal code remains heavily based on Dutch law as a result of nearly 350-years of Dutch colonization. But lawmakers as well as academics at conservative Islamic advocacy groups such as the Family Love Alliance (AILA), which petitioned for the ban on casual sex, are having a growing influence. Amid anti-LGBT campaigns in the media, a recent survey showed that most Indonesian Muslims disliked LGBT people more than they disliked Jews, Shiites or communists.

Last month, the country’s communications and information ministry banned three gay dating applications, including Grindr, after being urged by AILA. Meanwhile, the Youth and Sports Ministry came under fire earlier this month for banning anyone practicing casual or “deviant” sex, defined as lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT). Participants would be required to have their claims proved by a medical doctor.

Some of the nine justices on the Constitutional Court have already voiced their support for outlawing casual sex.

“Our freedom is limited by moralistic values as well as religious values,” Justice Patrialis Akbar said in August when arguing that the country’s legal system was too “liberal,” according to the Jakarta Post. “This is what the declaration of human rights doesn’t have. It’s totally different [from our concept of human rights] because we’re not a secular country, this country acknowledges religion.”

Akbar continued: “If the principles that have been comprehensively explained [by the expert witnesses] are not enforced in the existing law in this country, would this country be a secular country where religion no longer needed to be respected?”

Another judge, Aswanto, went a step further during a hearing in August.

“I was a bit annoyed with what the government said, [that we should] let people commit zinah [adultery or casual sex] and not regard them as criminals,” he said. “It’s a little bit annoying. I believe casual sex is a crime.”

Source: ibtimes.com/sex-marriage-indonesia-proposed-islamic-law-would-put-sexually-active-people-prison-2437351

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