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Islamic World News ( 8 March 2016, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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ISIL Leader Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi in Libya: Intelligence Sources

New Age Islam News Bureau

8 March 2016 

Photo: US Strike Kills 150 at Terror Camp in Somalia




 US Strike Kills 150 at Terror Camp in Somalia

 Militants Attack Tunisian Forces near Libyan Border; 50 Killed

 Terrorism: Why Nigeria’ll join Saudi-led Islamic coalition - Buhari


South Asia

 Sayaf, a Former Mujahideen, Warns Escalation of Afghanistan War to the World

 35 Militants Killed In Latest Counter-Terrorism Operations in Afghanistan: MoD

 Infighting among Taliban Leaders Leave 26 Dead in Herat Province

 10 Afghan Soldiers Martyred During Clearance Operations: Mod

 Jet Strike Kills Five Daesh Fighters in Nangarhar

 Abdullah: Disapproving fight against Taliban militants not acceptable

 Bangladesh's top court upholds Islamist leader's death sentence

 Afghan forces clear Dand-e-Shahabuddin of Taliban insurgents

 NDS arrest Taliban weapons supplier, seize 7 vehicles laden with explosives



 21 Militants Killed In Overnight Shawal Offensive: ISPR

 MQM All Set To Clean Karachi Streets and Clear ‘Misconceptions’

 Lal Masjid cleric gets pre-arrest bail in two cases

 Pakistan President calls for resolution of Palestine issue


Arab World

 Yemen Strikes Saudi Coalition with More Ballistic Missiles

 Syrian Army Inflicts Heavy Death Toll on Terrorists South of Aleppo

 ISIL Executes Own Member in Deir Ezzur

 ISIL Top Commander Killed in Western Iraq

 Al-Nusra Gatherings in Western Ghouta Targeted by Syrian Helicopters

 Syrian Army Advancing against ISIL near Palmyra with Russian Air Support

 Syria: More Militants in Hama Join Ceasefire Agreement with Gov't

 Syrian Army Troops Repel ISIL Offensive in Sweida

 Syrian Army, Allies Capture More Territories in Damascus Province

 Syrian Army Wins Back More Heights in Lattakia

 Gov't Forces Repel Terrorist Groups' Offensives in Syria's Aleppo

 Saudi-French peace efforts, drive to crush terror hailed

 Military pact with Djibouti in the cards

 Syrian Fighter Jets Smash Terrorist Centres in Idlib



 Islamic University Of Al Mustafa Supports Muslim Solidarity

 Turkey’s Top Cleric Calls for Autonomous Religious Directorate

 Arrest warrant issued for US-based Turkish cleric

 Israel defends spurning Obama invite ahead of Biden visit

 IRGC Kicks off Large-Scale Missile Defense Drill

 IRGC Navy Commander Sees Presence of US Warships in Persian Gulf as Devilish Act


Southeast Asia

 Indonesia Leader Calls on Muslim World to Unite On Palestine

 OIC Urges Ban on Items from Illegal Settlements



 Russian MoD: Russian Jets Only Bombing Terrorists’ Positions in Syria

 Defense Ministry: Russia Delivers 620 Tons of Humanitarian Aid to Syria


North America

 UN Calls for Resettlement of 400,000 Syrians from Turkey

 In a first, White House to release data on drone strikes

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau





ISIL Leader Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi in Libya: Intelligence Sources

8 MARCH 2016

TEHRAN (FNA)- ISIL leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi has moved from Turkey to Libya to escape the hunt operation of the Baghdad Intelligence Sharing Centre after he was traced down and allegedly targeted a number of times in Iraq and the Syria, informed intelligence sources disclosed.

"Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi who was injured in Syria was sent to Turkey for treatment and from there he was sent to Libya," the Arabic-language media outlets quoted former Egyptian intelligence officer Hesam Kheirullah as saying on Monday. 

In relevant remarks in December, sources in Libya said al-Baghdadi had arrived in Sirte, the hometown of the slain Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi, which is under the control of the Takfiri groups.

The ISIL Leader is running a secret life as his life is at stake more than anyone in the world now. Al-Baghdad's terrorist group is under massive airstrike by the Syrian, Russian and Iraqi Air Forces all throughout the Western Iraq and Eastern Syria.

While reports earlier this year said the ISIL leader was always on the move between Iraq's Mosul and Syria's Raqqa - the self-proclaimed capital of the terrorist group - tips and intel revealed in November that Al-Baghdadi had moved from the Syrian city of Albu Kamal to the Iraqi city of Mosul in Nineveh province.

Then in October, Iraq's air force bombed his convoy as he was heading to Al-Karable to attend a meeting with ISIL commanders. 25 other ISIL militants were killed in the special operation that was the product of the Baghdad Intelligence Sharing Center where the latest intel arrives from Iranian, Russian, Iraqi and Syrian spy agencies round the clock.

The notorious terrorist leader escaped the attempt on his life narrowly, but with fatal injuries. Few hours after the assault, the spokesman of Iraq's joint forces declared that Al-Baghdadi was injured in the Iraqi airstrike on his convoy and was taken away from the scene by his forces.

The terrorist leader was first transferred to Raqqa, where surgeons saved his life but failed to give him a thorough treatment due to a lack of specialized medical equipment.

Sources disclosed a few days later that the ISIL leader had been taken to Turkey for treatment through a series of coordination measures by the CIA.

"The CIA has done the coordination with the Turkish intelligence service (MIT) for transferring al-Baghdadi to Turkey," the Arabic-language al-Manar TV quoted unnamed sources as saying.

The source said that two companions of al-Baghdadi who were also injured in the attack on the ISIL leader's convoy and were captured by the Iraqi forces confirmed that al-Baghdadi had been injured in the attack.

After specialists said al-Baghdadi needed months of recovery, one of his aides was appointed to run the cult until the so-called caliph would return to duty.

Al-Baghdad has, thus far, escaped several attempt on his life, making him suspicious of his team of bodyguards.

"While everyone is looking for him in Iraq and Syria, no one expects him to be in Sirte," the Libyan source told FNA, adding, "If he is to be exposed to danger, Sirte would be the last place on Earth for his life to be endangered as it is the safest Takfiri stronghold in the world."

The Syrian army, the National Defense Forces (NDF), the Lebanese Hezbollah and the Syrian and Russian Air Forces, as well as the Iraqi army and popular forces, Al-Hashd Al-Shaabi, have been conducting large-scale operations in Syria and Iraq to end the ISIL control over swathes of lands in the two Arab countries.



US strike kills 150 at terror camp in Somalia

8 March 2016

WASHINGTON: A US airstrike using multiple drones and manned aircraft struck a training camp in Somalia on Saturday, killing more than 150 Al-Shabab fighters who were preparing to launch a large-scale attack, likely against African or US personnel, the Pentagon said Monday.

Navy Capt. Jeff Davis, a Pentagon spokesman, said the US had been watching the site, called Raso Camp, for several weeks. He said it appeared that the training was ending and the operational phase of a suspected attack was about to start.

The evening strike involved both missiles and bombs.



Militants attack Tunisian forces near Libyan border; 50 killed


TUNIS: Dozens of Islamist fighters stormed through the Tunisian town of Ben Guerdan near the Libyan border on Monday attacking army and police posts in a raid that killed at least 50 people, including civilians, the government and residents said.

Local television broadcast images of soldiers and police crouched in doorways and on rooftops as gunshots echoed in the centre of the town. Bodies of dead militants lay in the streets near the military barracks after the army regained control.

Authorities sealed of f the nearby beach resort town of Djerba, a popular destination for foreign and local tourists, imposed a curfew on Ben Guerdan and closed two border crossings with Libya after the attack.

`I saw a lot of militants at dawn, they were running with their Kalashnikovs,` Hussein, a resident, said. `They said they were Islamic State and they came to target the army and the police.

It was not clear if the attackers crossed overthe border, but it was the type of militant operation Tunisia`s government had feared as it prepares for potential spillover from Libya, where the militant Islamic State (IS) group has gained ground.

Since its 2011 revolt to oust ruler Zine El-Abidine Ben Ali, Tunisia has struggled with Islamist militancy at home and over the border.

Militants trained in jihadist camps in Libya carried out two attacks last year in Tunisia.

`This was an unprecedented, well-organised attack,` President Beji Caid Essebsi told local radio. `But the people in the south can be confident the army and police will win against this barbarity across the border.

Soldiers killed 33 militants and arrested six, the Interior Ministry said. Hospital and security sources said at least seven civilians were killed along with ten soldiers.

`If the army had not been ready, the terrorists would have been able to raise their flag over Ben Guerdan and gotten a symbolic victory,` said Abd Elhamid Jelassi, vice president of theIslamist party Ennahda, part of the government coalition.

More than 3,000 Tunisians have left to fight with IS and other groups in Syria and Iraq.

Tunisian security officials say increasingly they are returning to join the militant group in Libya.

Tunisian militants are taking a lead role in IS camps in Libya, Tunisian security sources say.

Tunisian forces have been on alert for possible militant infiltrations since last month when a US air stril(e targeted mostly Tunisian IS militants at a camp near the border in Libya`s Sabratha.

Western military advisers are starting to train Tunisian border forces to help better protect the frontier with electronic surveillance and drones and authorities have built a trench and barrier to help stop militants crossing.

Islamist militant gunmen trained in Libyan jihadist camps carried out two of the three major attacks on Tunisia last year, including assaults on the Tunis Bardo museum and a Sousse beach hotel targeting foreign tourists.



Terrorism: Why Nigeria’ll join Saudi-led Islamic coalition - Buhari

8 MARCH 2016

President Muhammadu Buhari said, weekend, that Nigeria would join the coalition of Muslim countries against terrorism, led by Saudi Arabia, because of the activities of Boko Haram.

The President had, during his state visit to Saudi Arabia last week, said Nigeria would not be a part of the coalition. “Even if we are not a part of it, we support you,” the President had said at the meeting held in Saudi Arabia in February. But speaking in an interview with Aljazeera at the weekend, the President said: “We are part of it because we have got terrorists in Nigeria that everybody knows, which claims that they are Islamic. He noted that Nigeria was currently faced with attacks by Boko Haram, which had claimed over 20,000 lives since 2009.

The Aljazeera interview is believed to have been held in Qatar, where President Buhari visited after his trip to Saudi Arabia. President Buhari said in the interview: “If there is an Islamic coalition to fight terrorism, Nigeria will be part of it because we are casualties of Islamic terrorism.”

Asked how the coalition would work in Nigeria’s interest, the President said it would be within the framework of Lake Chad Basin coalition against Boko Haram, which comprises Nigeria, Niger, Chad, Cameroon, and Benin. “I don’t think we need to tell the press the details in relation to the number of troops to be deployed by the Lake Chad coalition that would be part of the Saudi-led coalition,’’ he said.

On whether or not his decision would go well with Nigerian Christians, who make up about half of the country’s population, Buhari said: “I have just told you it is the Boko Haram itself that declared loyalty to ISIL. Now, ISIL is basically based in Islamic countries. If there is a coalition to fight terrorism, why can’t Nigeria be part of it?

“Why can’t those Christians that complain go and fight terrorism in Nigeria or fight the militants in the south. It is Nigeria that matters, not the opinions of some religious bigots.” He denied seeking to change Nigeria’s multi-religious nature by his actions. “How can I change the religious identity of Nigeria?” the President queried.


South Asia

Sayaf, a Former Mujahideen, Warns Escalation of Afghanistan War to the World

By KHAAMA PRESS - Tue Mar 08 2016

Sayaf Abdul Rab Rasoul Sayaf who was one of the prominent leaders of Mujahideen during the invasion of Soviet Union and an influential political leader has warned that war in Afghanistan would escalate to rest of the world if its does not end immediately.

While talking to a gathering commemorating the second death anniversary of Marshal Mohammad Qasim Fahim on Tuesday, Sayaf said no one would be able to control terrorism if Afghanistan changed into the nest of the phenomenon.

“No one would have a relaxed sleep from East to West,” Sayaf added.

Sayaf said if Taliban and others are fighting for Islam or the country then they should understand that this neither benefits Islam nor the country.

He once again called on all warring parties to come and live like ordinary Afghans in community.

Sayaf also offered to stand in lines with security forces when asked.

“But if national honors are in danger, we would go to defend without permission,” he said.

In another part of his speech, Sayaf urged Pakistan for honest neighborhood saying that if you [Pakistan] are a good friend then you should treat “our wounds”.



35 Militants Killed In Latest Counter-Terrorism Operations in Afghanistan: MoD

By KHAAMA PRESS - Tue Mar 08 2016

At least 35 anti-government armed militants were killed and 4 others were wounded in the latest counter-terrorism operations in the past 24 hours.

The Ministry of Defense (MoD) in a statement said Tuesday that the operations were jointly conducted by the Afghan security forces.

The statement further added that 7 suspects were arrested and various types of weapons, ammunition and explosives were seized during the same operations.

The majority of the militants were killed in southern Uruzgan province, MoD said, adding that 20 militant including the group’s 3 commanders were killed.

In another operation in Balkh province, 5 militants were killed, while 5 militants affiliated with the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) terrorist group were killed in Nangarhar province.

MoD also added that 4 militants were killed in another operation in Qarabagh district of south-eastern Ghanzi province, while another militant was killed, 1 was injured and 5 others were arrested in Dasht-e-Archi district of Kunduz province.

In the ongoing clearance operations in Dand-e-Ghori district of northern Baghlan province, the Afghan security forces seized numerous weapons, ammunition and explosives, MoD said, adding that the clearance operations were conducted in different villages.

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



Infighting among Taliban leaders leave 26 dead in Herat province

Tue Mar 08 2016

Afghan TalibanAt least 26 Taliban militants were killed in the latest infighting among two top Taliban leaders in western Herat province of Afghanistan.

According to the local security officials, clashes between the two top Taliban leaders, Mullah Samad and Mullah Nangialai, broke out on Monday afternoon in Shindand district.

A local security official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said at least 15 militants belonging to Mullah Nangialai and 11 militants belonging to Mullah Samad were killed.

The official further added that the deadly infighting erupted due to differences on group’s leadership.

This comes as over 50 Taliban insurgents were and as much others sustained injuries during a deadly infighting among the supporters of Taliban chief Mullah Akhtar Mansoor and dissident Taliban leader MULLAH Rasool early in the month of December last year.

The Taliban factions are occasionally engaging in deadly infighting, mainly due to differences over the group’s leadership, which changed following the death of the group’s founder Mullah Mohammad Omar.

Mullah Mansoor assumed charge of the Taliban group in July last year following the announcement of Taliban founder Mullah Mohammad Omar’s death.

His controversial appointment as new Taliban supreme leader led to widening rift among the Taliban leaders who are often entering into deadly clash.



10 Afghan soldiers martyred during clearance operations: MoD

By Khaama Press - Tue Mar 08 2016

The Afghan National Army (ANA) forces continue to suffer casualties at an alarming level amid deteriorating security situation across the country.

The Ministry of Defense (MoD) said at least 10 soldiers of the Afghan National Army (ANA) lost their lives in fight against the terrorist groups in the past 24 hours.

The latest toll by the Ministry of Defense (MoD) puts the number of the Afghan soldiers to 36 who have lost their lives since the beginning of the week.

The steep rise in the Afghan army casualties comes as the Afghan security institutions have stepped up counter-terrorism operations in different parts of the country to suppress the anti-government armed militants activities.

The Taliban-led insurgency has been rampant since the beginning of the Afghan calendar year which is normally the time the Taliban group launch their summer offensive.

According to the earlier estimates by security officials, the Afghan army deaths stood at 4 service members daily on average which is mainly caused due to improvised explosive device (IED) attacks.

The officials are also saying that the Afghan security forces casualties have increased sharply since they have taken full control of the security responsibilities from the coalition forces at the start of last year.



Jet strike kills five Daesh fighters in Nangarhar

By Khaama Press - Tue Mar 08 2016

Five fighters of the terrorist group of the Islamic State (IS) which is locally known by its Arabic name Daesh have been killed in a Jet strike in eastern Nangarhar province.

Nangarhar police spokesperson said on Tuesday that the air strike was carried out in Shabi Kandaw area of Haska Mina district yesterday.

According to Colonel Hazrat Hussain Mashriqiwal, weapons and ammunition of the group were also destroyed in bombing.

Nangarhar is the stronghold of Daesh in the eastern part of the country where the group is trying to establish a base of operations in its rugged mountains.

Coalition officials estimate between 1,000 to 3,000 Islamic State fighters are stationed in eastern Afghanistan.



Abdullah: Disapproving fight against Taliban militants not acceptable

By Khaama Press - Tue Mar 08 2016

The Chief Executive Officer Abdullah Abdullah reacted towards the disapproval of fight against Taliban militants, saying the Afghan government is obliged to protect the people against terror.

In his speech during a ceremony marking the 2nd death anniversary of Marshal Qasim Fahim, Abdullah said “It is unacceptable for Afghans if one is saying that fight agianst Taliban is not allowed.”

Abdullah further added “Anyone, from any institution, announcing the ongoing fight against Taliban as ‘illegitimate’, will lose their legitimacy among the peole.”

He was apparently gesturing towards the newly-appointed chairman of the Afghan High Peace Council Pir Syed Ahmad Gilani who recently said he does not deem fight against Taliban militants as ‘fruitful or allowed’.

In an interview with BBC Faris, Gilani said he has also called on Taliban militants to renounce violence.

He also added that he is hopeful that the Taliban leadership might be happy with his appointment as the new chairman of the High Peace Council, noting his direct and indirect contacts with the group since the jihad times.

Gilani is a prominent religious and political figure who assumed charge of the Afghan High Peace Council last month amid ongoing efforts to put an end to the ongoing violence in the country through a peaceful settlement.



Bangladesh's top court upholds Islamist leader's death sentence

Feb. 8, 2016

DHAKA: Bangladesh's highest court on Tuesday upheld the death sentence of a top Islamist leader and business tycoon for war crimes, clearing the way for his execution within months.

Chief Justice S K Sinha announced in the Supreme Court he had dismissed the appeal of Mir Quasem Ali, who was convicted of murder and abduction during Bangladesh's 1971 war of independence.

Ali, a shipping and real estate tycoon, headed a media corporation aligned with Bangladesh's largest Islamist party, Jamaat-i-Islami before his arrest in 2012.

He was convicted of running a militia torture cell that carried out killings including that of a young independence fighter.

"The court upheld his death sentence for the abduction and murder of a young freedom fighter whose body was dumped in a river,” Attorney General Mahbubey Alam told AFP.

The 63-year-old faces the gallows within months unless his case is reviewed by the same court or he is granted clemency by the Bangladeshi president.

Three senior Jamaat officials and a leader of the main opposition party have been executed since December 2013 for war crimes, despite global criticism of their trials by a controversial war crimes tribunal.

The executions and previous convictions against other Jamaat officials plunged the country into one of its worst crises in 2013.

Tens of thousands of activists clashed with police in nationwide protests that left some 500 people dead.

Ali, a former leader of Jamaat's powerful student wing, helped set up a number of charities, businesses and trusts linked to the party after it was allowed to operate in the late 1970s.

The tycoon, who was arrested in 2012 on 14 war crimes charges, headed the Diganta Media Corporation that owns a pro-Jamaat daily and a television station.

The government shut down the television station in 2013 for inflaming religious tensions.

Defence lawyers have said the charges against Ali were "baseless and false" and they argued that he was not at the crime scenes during the war.

Jamaat and the main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party have accused the government of using the war crimes court to target their leaders through phoney charges.

Rights groups have also criticised the trials, saying they fall short of international standards and lack any foreign oversight.



Afghan forces clear Dand-e-Shahabuddin of Taliban insurgents

By Khaama Press - Tue Mar 08 2016

The Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) have retaken full control of Dand-e-Shahabuddin from Taliban militants in northern Baghlan province of Afghanistan.

According to the local security officials, the area has been fully cleared as a result of the counter-terrorism operations launched late in the month of January.

The area was under the control of the Taliban militants for a period of one and half month, with local officials saying the Taliban militants suffered casualties during the operations retake the control of the area.

This comes as the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) took full control of Dand-e-Ghori district from the Taliban militants last week.

Baghlan is located near the restive Kunduz province in the north and has increasingly became a restive province during the recent months.

The operations were launched amid concerns that the group was creating safe havens and preparing for the summer offensive by continuing to the procurement and training of insurgents.

Several power lines were also damaged as the operations kicked off, cutting the power supply to capital Kabul for several weeks before the technical staff managed to reconnect the lines.



NDS arrest Taliban weapons supplier, seize 7 vehicles laden with explosives

By Khaama Press - Tue Mar 08 2016

Taliban weapons supplier arrested in LogarThe Afghan intelligence operatives seized huge loads of weapons, ammunition and explosives by arresting a weapons supplier of the Taliban group in central Logar province of Afghanistan.

The National Directorate of Security (NDS) said the suspected supplier of weapons to the Taliban group was arrested during a special military operation in Khoshi district.

A statement by NDS said the weapons, ammunition and explosives were loaded on 7 vehicles which were confiscated by the intelligence operatives from Dobandi village.

The statement further added that 1 Ak-47 rifle, 16 improvised explosive device, 350 kg of ammonium nitrate explosives, 48 kg of potassium nitrate explosives, 29 mortar rounds, 680 kg of drugs, 29 BM1 warheads, and various other types of explosives were seized by the intelligence operatives.

The Taliban militants group has not commented regarding the confiscation of the weapons and arrest of the group’s supplier.

This comes as the Taliban-led insurgency has been rampant during the recent months with the wave of violence being unprecedented even during the winter times when the insurgents groups were normally reducing insurgency activities.



21 militants killed in overnight Shawal offensive: ISPR

Feb. 8, 2016

PESHAWAR: At least 21 militants were killed in air strikes and ground operations that began overnight in Shawal area near the Pak-Afghan border, the military’s media wing claimed on Tuesday.

Military spokesman Asim Bajwa said the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) and Army Aviation's helicopter gunships carried out strikes in Shawal Valley of North Waziristan. The strikes began Monday night and continued into Tuesday, he said.

“Ops continue. Imp heights & passes along Pak-Afgn Bdr secured. Valley's sanitisation in progress,” he said on Twitter.

He later posted photographs of soldiers fanning out in a forested area and a ruined building engulfed in smoke.

This information could not be independently verified as journalists have limited access to the war-torn region.

Military operation Zarb-i-Azb was launched in North Waziristan on June 15, 2014, following a brazen militant attack on Karachi's international airport and the failure of peace talks between the government and Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) negotiators.

According to official statements, over 3,500 militants have been killed in operation Zarb-i-Azb, while the offensive forced over a million civilians to vacate their homes and move to settled areas of the country.

Chief of Army Staff Gen Raheel Sharif ordered troops on Wednesday to march on the last bastion of terrorists in Shawal to take operation Zarb-i-Azb to its logical end.

North Waziristan is one of the seven regions in Pakistan's Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata) governed by tribal laws which is situated along the Pak-Afghan border.



MQM all set to clean Karachi streets and clear ‘misconceptions’

Feb. 8, 2016

KARACHI: At a time when its strength is the subject of prime time debates across the country, the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) held a press conference to announce a cleanliness drive in Karachi, with an apparent reference to questions being raised about the party’s performance.

"On March 10, we will start a campaign to clean Karachi, and the mindset of its people, by dispelling doubts and confusion," top party representative Farooq Sattar told reporters on Tuesday.

Christened the 'Clean Karachi Campaign' (CKC), the drive is scheduled to kick off on March 10, with the stated goal of cleaning the city and its 'mindset', Sattar said.

"We want to cultivate the passion of owning the city in heart of every citizen and we want the citizens of this city to take ownership for it."

The announcement comes days after the political landscape of the metropolis witnessed tremors with the return of MQM's former mayor Mustafa Kamal, who in his explosive press conference levelled serious allegations against his former political party.

The MQM leader claimed that the initiative will 'kill two birds with one stone'.

The announcement comes days after the political landscape of the metropolis witnessed tremors with the return of MQM's former mayor Mustafa Kamal, who in his explosive press conference levelled serious allegations against his former political party.

Sattar, elaborated and told the media personnel present that the party wants to bring a 'sense of belonging and participation' into the people of Karachi, and that is the real objective of the CKC.

"The cleaning campaign can last for more then a month, and we do not want to limit it. We will continue this campaign till our mayor-designate Waseem Akhtar takes his oath and assumes his responsibilities," stated the MQM leader.

'Will clean Karachi of corrupted minds'

"We will clean Karachi of all garbage and corrupted minds."

In a lighthearted tone, Sattar said that he will talk in an indirect manner, so he can properly convey his message to the media and the people of Karachi.

"Meetings that will be held by the MQM in Karachi's neighbourhoods before the start of CKC, and we will ensure that we clean the minds of the citizens first," stated Sattar.

He went on to say, that once confusion has been dispelled from Karachi's citizenry, they will start to clean the streets.

"We will hold meetings in every ward of Karachi, we will be holding close to 720 meetings with the public. This is the power of an organised political party," said Sattar.

Sattar, during the press conference repeatedly hammered home his point that it is essential to clean the mindset prevalent in the people of the city, before they can move onto cleaning the streets.

The MQM leader also announced that similar cleanliness campaigns would be initiated in the other cities of Sindh after Karachi.

MQM's press conference follows Dr Sagheer Ahmed's switch of loyalty towards Mustafa Kamal, leaving his political party of 28 years.

Last week, former Karachi nazim Syed Mustafa Kamal and former deputy convener of the MQM, Anis Kaimkhani ended their decades-long association with the party, heaping scorn on Muttahida Qaumi Movement supremo Altaf Hussain.

Kamal had criticised Altaf Hussain for “deception” and what he called ‘poor running of one of Karachi’s strongest political parties.’

In a speech that lasted nearly two hours, Kamal also announced the formation of a new political party, which he said is yet to be named. He raised a Pakistani flag and said it is the official emblem of his newly launched organisation.



Lal Masjid cleric gets pre-arrest bail in two cases

March 8th, 2016

ISLAMABAD: A local court of Rawalpindi on Monday confirmed the pre arrest bail to Lal Masjid cleric Maulana Abdul Aziz in two cases, extending threats to the civil society and prompting incitement.

Both the cases were registered against him in October 2014.

The court also rejected identical applications filed by the representatives of civil society seeking registration of FIR against the cleric.

The complainant counsel argued before the court that the cleric had sympathy for Daesh, besides inciting the people against the army.

He requested the court to direct the police to register a case against Maulana Aziz under relevant sections of Protection of Pakistan Act (PoPA).

Tariq Asad, counsel for the cleric on the other hand informed the court that his client had neither shown allegiance nor praised Daesh.

He said the government in July 2015 has added Daesh to the list of proscribed organization and it was not an offence if someone has praised the Daesh before the government officially banned it.



Pakistan President calls for resolution of Palestine issue


ISLAMABAD: President Mamnoon Hussain has linked permanent restoration of peace in the Middle East with the resolution of the longstanding Palestine issue.

The government and people of Pakistan considered the issue as their own and promised continued and unequivocal support to their Palestinian brethren, he said on Monday at the 5th extraordinary session of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) on Palestine and Al Quds, being held in Jakarta.

According to the Presidency, he emphasised the need for an early solution to the Palestine problem and reiterated Pakistan`s stance for complete withdrawal of Israelis from the occupied Arab territories and the inalienable right of Palestinian people to self-determination and sovereignty in an independent state on the basis of pre1967 borders with Al Quds as its capital.

He called for a just resolution of the plightofPalestinianrefugeesin accordance with the UN GeneralAssembly Resolution 194(III) of Dec 11, 1948 and implementation of all Security Council resolutions, including Resolution 1860.

The president stressed the need for release of Palestinian detainees and restoration of religious freedom.

The OIC summit titled `United for just solution`, hosted by Indonesia at the request of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, gathered heads of state and representatives from 49 Muslim countries.

President Hussain spoke categorically about what he called `apartheid policies` of Israel.

He called Israel`s use of excessive, disproportionate and indiscriminate force against unarmed, innocent Palestinians and settlements in the West Bank as blatant violations of international law and United Nations resolutions.

`All Israeli measures, including settlements, separation wall, excavation beneath the Al Aqsa mosque and eviction of Palestinians from their homes, which could change the situation on ground till a resettlement is reached, must stop,` he demanded.

The president said Pakistan sup-ported direct negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians that should be based on internationally agreed parameters with clear benchmarks and timelines.

`While Israel does not seem to abide by these principles, we fully support the Palestinian bid to internationalise the issue to bring more international force on the issue,` he said.

He also said: `The Ummah is facing multiple challenges and problems, with Muslims being discriminated against and excluded from the global mainstream.

He said instability and bloodshed had afflicted the Muslim world as never before and it was far from realising the common causes, most notably in support of the Palestinian and other Muslim populations, such as in Jammu and Kashmir that remained under foreign occupation.

He said the conference was important at a time when Palestinians were facing a new wave of violence.

He recalled the genocide carried out by Israel in Gaza in 2014 and regretted that the world kept watching the killing of Palestinian men, women and children.

Indonesian President JokoWidodo said the organisation needed to enforce its effective role in resolution of this issue.

Palestinian President Abbas said the Israeli operations were a violation of international and human rights. He said it was time to end the longest occupation in the history and Palestine should be made an independent state with Al Quds as its capital.

OIC Secretary General Iyad Ameen Madani called for enhancing the efforts for resolution of the Palestine issue and for providing assistance to address the social and healthcare needs of Palestinians.

In a meeting with the Palestinian president, Mr Hussain said Pakistan would continue to extend diplomatic and moral support to the Palestinians.

He termed Israel`s policy of grabbing land for settlement as an `ugly, immoral and illegal act` `Palcistan supports the admission of Palestine to the UN as a full member,` he said.

He said that besides Palestinians, people of Kashmir had long been suffering at the hands of occupation forces and were being denied the right to self-determination.


Arab World

Yemen Strikes Saudi Coalition with More Ballistic Missiles

Feb. 8, 2016

TEHRAN (FNA)- The Yemeni army and popular forces destroyed the Saudi military positions in Al-Jawf province with their Qaher-I ballistic missile, killing tens of the kingdom's forces.

The Qaher-I missile hit al-Khanjar military base in al-Jawf province, destroying their military hardware and equipment.

The Saudi-led forces' armored vehicles were destroyed during the Yemeni missile attack.

Scores of Saudi forces were killed and injured in the Yemeni missile strikes.

In a relevant development on Thursday, a missile strike conducted by OTR-21 Tochka mobile missile launch system hit a Saudi-led coalition base in the Eastern city of Ma’rib.

The strike took place less than 24 hours after another ballistic missile hit the same base.

Also in late February, a Yemeni Tochka missile hit the Saudi-led coalition's military base in Ma'rib province, killing tens of coalition servicemen, including 8 senior Saudi and UAE officers.

A Commander of Yemen's Ansarullah Movement confirmed firing of the ballistic missile at the Ma'as military base in Ma'rib in Central Yemen.

He noted that at least 48 Saudi forces were killed in Yemen's Tochka missile attack.

Also on February 3, the Yemeni forces rained down a barrage of missiles at the Saudi forces' military tower in Al-Dokhan region in Jizan province in Southern Saudi Arabia.

Al-Dokhan tower was reportedly destroyed in the Yemeni missile attacks in Jizan as eyewitnesses said that they had seen smoke rising from it.

The Yemeni army and popular forces regained control of Al-Khurma region in Asir province after they destroyed two arms depots and other military hardware of the Yemeni forces in the region.



Syrian Army Inflicts Heavy Death Toll on Terrorists South of Aleppo

Feb. 8, 2016

TEHRAN (FNA)- The Al-Nusra Front and Jund al-Aqsa terrorist groups confirmed that scores of their combatants were killed or wounded after their failed attacks on the government forces' positions in the Southern Aleppo.

At least 26 members of Nusra Front and Jund al-Aqsa were killed and their military vehicles were destroyed in a series of failed offensives in Tal al-Eiss.

The Syria army and its allies have fortified their positions after repelling the militant groups' offensives and are fully ready to defend their strongholds.

There have been meantime, heavy fighting between the army and Nusra near the village of Barda.

Abida Ahmad Aloush, Abdu Samir Haj Ibrahim, Ibrahim Sobhi Modirati, Mohammad Osman al-Abdullah and Mohamamd al-Jabrou were amongst the killed terrorist in Ein al-Eiss battle. 

Reports said earlier today that the Syrian army troops and the popular forces fended off the terrorists' attempt to prevail over the government forces' positions in the Southern part of Aleppo province, and forced them to retreat from the battlefield.

The terrorist groups left behind dozens of dead or wounded members and fled the battlefield after their attacks on the government forces' positions in Tal al-Eiss and Tal Syriatel were thwarted by the Syrian soldiers.

The militant groups' military hardware also sustained major damage in the failed attacks.

The al-Qaeda-affiliated Nusra Front tried for the second time in the last 12 hours to break through the defense lines of the Syrian government forces, but their attempts have been repulsed by the Syrian soldiers.



ISIL Executes Own Member in Deir Ezzur

Feb. 8, 2016

TEHRAN (FNA)- The ISIL terrorist group beheaded one of the group's combatants in the Western part of Deir Ezzur on charges of cooperation with the Kurdish popular forces.

A member of the ISIL Takfiri group was killed by his comrades in the village of Abu Khasheb on charge of cooperating with the Kurdish "People's Protection Units" (YPG).

The YPG Kurds have recently bonded with the Damascus government. The Syrian army sent several arms cargoes to the YPG troops in the Northeastern province of Hasaka and trained the first group of Kurdish volunteer forces in the provincial capital city of Hasaka in February.

On Monday, the Syrian army thwarted the ISIL's attack on the military centers in several regions in Deir Ezzur province.

The ISIL attempted to attack the Syrian army's military positions in al-Moqaber, Boor, Saeed and al-Orfi regions, but its terrorists were driven back by the government troops.

Scores of ISIL militants, including their senior commanders, were killed in the army's counteroffensive.

Elsewhere, the Syrian army destroyed the terrorists' arms depot and missile launch-pads in Baqiliyeh region.

The Syrian army also hit hard the ISIL's military convoy near Al-Jazeera university in the suburbs of Deir Ezzur city and in the surrounding areas of Deir Ezzur military airport.



ISIL Top Commander Killed in Western Iraq

Feb. 8, 2016

TEHRAN (FNA)- Iraqi sources announced on Tuesday that a senior commander of the ISIL terrorist group was killed in an Iraqi army operation in the Western province of al-Anbar.

Sources from the Iraqi Army’s “Special Forces” said that Ismail Yusuf, nom de guerre Abu Mustafa Al-Muhajir, was killed along with nine of his comrades during the Iraqi Army's operation in Albu Shejel area in Anbar province.

Yusuf was among the ISIL's top military commander in Iraq's al-Saqlaviyeh region. 

No further detail is available on the operation and the identity of ISIL members killed in the operation.

On Monday, Iraqi air force jets killed at least 50 ISIL (Daesh in Arabic) in the north-central Kirkuk province.

Iraqi air force jets killed at least 50 Daesh in the north-central Kirkuk province, including fighters hailing from the Caucuses, the Joint Special Operations Command said Monday, Sputnik reported.

Kirkuk province has repeatedly been at the epicenter of fierce clashes between IS militants and joint Iraqi forces since the jihadist group captured vast parts of Iraq in June 2014.



Al-Nusra Gatherings in Western Ghouta Targeted by Syrian Helicopters

Feb. 8, 2016

TEHRAN (FNA)- The Syrian army helicopters gunships targeted a number of al-Nusra Front's gatherings in farms on the outskirts of Khan Sheih town in Western Ghouta, informed sources said Tuesday, adding the attack inflicted major loss and damage on the militants.

"The Syrian Army choppers destroyed al-Nusra positions in farms near the town of Khan Sheih in Damascus province," the sources said, adding that a number of terrorists were killed and their military grid, including several pick-up vehicles, and caches of weapons and ammunition were destroyed in the operation.

Earlier this month in Damascus province, around 80 militants, operating in the province, laid down their arms and turned themselves in to the Syrian officials as the pro-government forces keep on advancing across the Southern province.

The militants formerly fighting in the Damascus province's al-Ghadam region surrendered to the Syrian government as the forces loyal to the Syrian President Bashar Assad continue gaining ground across the country.

Reports said earlier that the Syrian Air Force dropped a series of leaflets over the militant-held part of Eastern Ghouta, giving the Takfiri terrorists yet another chance to lay down arms and surrender to the government forces.

As the Syrian government forces are advancing against the militant groups in different parts of Damascus province, the country's air fleet began dropping the leaflets, the practice that the government follows in parallel with hitting the militants.



Syrian Army Advancing against ISIL Near Palmyra with Russian Air Support

Feb. 8, 2016

TEHRAN (FNA)- The Syrian Army, with the Russian's massive air support, have driven the ISIL terrorists back from more strongholds in the Western part of the ancient city of Palmyra (Tadmur) in Homs province, military sources said.

"The Syrian soldiers, Liwa Suqour Al-Sahra (Desert Hawks Brigade) and the 67th Brigade of the 18th Tank Division advanced to a number of new sites in Western Palmyra, including Wadi al-Dhakara after a violent battle with the ISIL," the sources said.

"The Syrian Armed Forces, meantime, enter briefly the Palmyra Castle (Qal’at Tadmur) on Monday night before pulling back in order to allow the Russian Air Force to bombard the terrorist group around Mount Qassoun," the sources added.

The Syrian Armed Forces are still deploying more soldiers to this front because the final assault on the city will require a large force to take Palmyra from the ISIL terrorists.

Reports said on Monday that the Russian and Syrian air forces jointly pounded the military positions of the ISIL terrorist group on the outskirts of Quaryatayn and Palmyra.

The Russian and Syrian fighter jets inflicted heavy losses on ISIL's gathering centers in the suburbs of Quaryatayn and Palmyra.

Scores of militants were killed and wounded in the joint airstrikes.



Syria: More Militants in Hama Join Ceasefire Agreement with Gov't

Feb. 8, 2016

TEHRAN (FNA)- The Syrian officials announced that the militants deployed in a number of villages across the West-Central province of Hama have agreed to join the truce with the Syrian government forces.

"Nearly 150 villages in the Hama province have agreed to reconcile with the government," sources said

The location and names of these villages were not announced by the Syrian officials.

On Monday, the ISIL military hardware sustained major damage after the country's soldiers stormed the terrorist centers in the surroundings of at least two villages in Hama province.

"The Syrian army stormed the ISIL strongholds near the villages of Hamadi Omar and Sheikh Hillal, which ended in the destruction of several vehicles in the terrorists' sites," the army said.

"Several ISIL terrorists were also killed or wounded in the explosions of the vehicles," the army added.



Syrian Army Troops Repel ISIL Offensive in Sweida

Feb. 8, 2016

TEHRAN (FNA)- Syrian Army forces repulsed ISIL's assault on army positions in the Southern province of Sweida and killed a number of militants, a military source said on Tuesday.

"The ISIL militants attacked the army units deployed in the key village of al-Huquf, North of the city of Sweida, but retreated after sustaining several casualties," the source said.

The source added that the army forces destroyed several ISIL heavily-armed pick-up trucks and defused some explosive devices left by the militants in the region.

Earlier this week, the Syrian army troops seized several trucks of the terrorists groups carrying weapons and ammunition Southwest of Sweida province.

The trucks carried a large volume of the ammunition and weapons, including light and heavy machineguns' bullets, RPG rockets and B10 rounds, in Southwestern Sweida.



Syrian Army, Allies Drive ISIL Terrorists Back From More Lands in Damascus

Feb. 8, 2016

TEHRAN (FNA)- The Syrian Army troops and their popular allies continued to hit the ISIL concentration centers in the Northeastern part of Damascus province and seized back two more strategic posts in mountainous regions.

The Syrian army alongside several pro-government paramilitary units continued their cleansing operations at the Eastern slopes of the Qalamoun Mountain, liberating 2 more important sites near the Damascus province's border with Homs.

The Syrian Armed Forces imposed full control over the Thaniyeh Wall and Talat Qabr Antar in the Qalamoun Mountain after a violent battle with the ISIL.

Last week, Jeish al-Islam leaders in the Damascus province decided to join the ceasefire regime in Syria, according to the Russian Defense Ministry.

The number of local ceasefire agreements in Syria has reached 44, the Russian Defense Ministry said Thursday.

"The total number of ceasefire agreements has reached 44," the ministry said in a statement on its website.

"Moreover, Jeish al-Islam leaders controlling the town of Ruhhaybah (Damascus region) decided yesterday to join the cessation of hostilities," the statement reads.



Syrian Army Wins Back More Heights in Lattakia

Feb. 8, 2016

TEHRAN (FNA)- The Syrian Army alongside the popular forces, backed up by the Russian fighter jets, targeted the militant groups' lines of defense in the Northern part of Lattakia province and seized back one more strategic height.

The Syrian army troops and the National Defense Forces imposed full control over al-Zoweiqat height near Kabani following several hours of non-stop battle with the militant groups in the mountainous battlefield.

The militant groups sustained a heavy death toll in the attacks of the Syrian government forces and the Russian fighter jets.

An intense battle is underway between the government forces and the terrorists near Kabani and its nearby hills.

On Monday, the Syrian government troops embarked on a tactical withdrawal from a hilltop in the Northern part of Lattakia province after massive attacks by hundreds of Jeish al-Fatah terrorists backed by the Turkish army's massive artillery fire.

The Syrian army pulled out its troops from al-Nawara height in Northern Lattakia after they came under massive Turkish army artillery fire followed by a large-scale attack by hundreds of the Jeish al-Fatah terrorists who moved from the direction of al-Nawara village.

The government troops had seized the al-Nawara heights alongside several other regions in Northern Lattakia 11 days ago.

Army sources said their units have called for more units and air backup to take back the al-Nawara Height.



Gov't Forces Repel Terrorist Groups' Offensives in Syria's Aleppo

Feb. 8, 2016

TEHRAN (FNA)- The Syrian Army troops and the popular forces fended off the terrorists' attempt to prevail over the government forces' lines of defense in the Southern part of Aleppo province, and forced them to retreat from the battlefield.

The terrorist groups left behind dozens of dead or wounded members and fled the battlefield after their attacks on the government forces' positions in Tal al-Eiss and Tal Syriatel were thwarted by the Syrian soldiers.

The militant groups' military hardware also sustained major damage in the failed attacks.

The al-Qaeda-affiliated Nusra Front tried for the second time in the last 12 hours to break through the defense lines of the Syrian government forces, but their attempts have been repulsed by the Syrian soldiers.

On Sunday, the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) stormed the militants' gathering centers, mainly from al-Nusra Front, in the Northern territories of Aleppo, and inflicted serious losses on the terrorists.

The Kurdish fighters struck the al-Qaeda-affiliated Nusra fighters' concentration centers near Tal al-Shaqif and a road towards Castello, which ended in the killing or wounding of several militants and destruction of their military vehicles and equipment.



Saudi-French peace efforts, drive to crush terror hailed

8 March 2016

RIYADH: The Council of Ministers has lauded the communiqué issued by the Kingdom and France, which committed the nations to improving political and economic ties, resolving conflicts in the Middle East, and fighting terrorism.

This was the message from the Cabinet on Monday, chaired by Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman at Al-Yamamah Palace in Riyadh.

It comes in the wake of the historic visit to France by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Naif, who met French President Francois Hollande and senior officials for extensive talks.

The Cabinet further welcomed the resolutions of the General Secretariat of the Council of Arab Interior Ministers at their 33rd meeting in Tunisia, which condemned terrorism in all its forms, and those who support and finance extremist groups.

The ministers also praised the interior ministers for several other resolutions including the denunciation of Israel for what they described as “state terrorism” in occupied Palestinian territory; Iran’s attempts to destabilize Bahrain and other Arab nations; and Hezbollah’s plan to undermine the stability of countries in the region, according to an SPA report.

The Cabinet also appreciated the ministers’ support for measures taken by some member countries against Al-Qaeda and Daesh, and the Arab coalition’s efforts to ensure the Houthis and their allies are defeated and the legitimate government restored to power.

In this context, the Cabinet lauded the crown prince’s speech at the meeting urging nations to take up their responsibility to fight extremism, which he said would ensure stability and security in the region.

At the GCC level, the Cabinet highlighted the decision taken by the six-nation bloc to declare Hezbollah a terrorist organization for its “continued hostile actions and flagrant violation of the GCC’s sovereignty, security and stability.”



Military pact with Djibouti in the cards

8 March 2016

RIYADH: The Cabinet on Monday took several decisions, including authorizing Crown Prince Mohammed bin Naif to discuss with Niger a draft security agreement and Djibouti a military pact.

The Cabinet approved the application of the decisions of the supreme council of the GCC countries at their summit meetings in Kuwait six years ago and Doha last year related to the adoption of a unified law on real estate registration for four years.

The Cabinet authorized the Finance Ministry to sign a draft agreement with Georgia on the avoidance of double taxation and tax evasion.

The Cabinet approved a housemaid recruitment agreement signed between the Saudi Ministry of Labor and the ministries of labor in Djibouti and Niger.

The Cabinet approved the agreement with Russia on the use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes.



Syrian Fighter Jets Smash Terrorist Centers in Idlib

Feb. 8, 2016

TEHRAN (FNA)- The Syrian warplanes, in several heavy airstrikes on Tuesday, pounded the concentration centers of al-Nusra Front in the Southeastern territories of Idlib province, pinning down the militants behind their lines of defense.

The Syria aircraft bombed the Nusra positions in surroundings of the small town of Jarjnaz in the Eastern side of Maarat al-Nu'aman, which claimed the lives of many terrorists.

In the meantime, a base of Nusra terrorists in the small town of Abu al-Dhohour in the Southern part of Idlib province came under the attacks of the Syrian warplanes, which not only killed several militants but slowed down their logistic-military movements in the region.

In relevant developments in the province On Monday, the Syrian army troops' anti-terrorism offensives in the Southern and Southeastern parts of Idlib inflicted a heavy death toll on the al-Nusra Front's terrorists.

At least 11 Nusra terrorists were killed and several more were wounded in the Syrian army's assaults near the town of Abu al-Dhuhour in the Southeastern territories of the province.

Seven more Nusra fighters were killed in the army attack on their position in the surroundings of the small town of Jarjnaz in the Eastern side of Maarat al-Nu'aman.



Islamic university of Al Mustafa supports Muslim solidarity

March 8, 2016

Iran’s Al Mustafa University announced preparation of the center to share its experiences on Muslim solidarity with scientific and religious centers in the world of Islam.

AhlulBayt News Agency - Hujjat-ul-Islam Alireza A’rafi, director of Al Mustafa International University, met with a group of Muslim scholars from Bangladesh calling the Islamic center as the greatest academic center in the world of Islam which stresses education of all Islamic denominations as well as familiarization with other Islamic schools of thought and underlined that as the proof for unifying approach of the center and an effort to boost Islamic solidarity.

He highlighted necessity of rational and philosophical approaches to defend Islamic teachings against western philosophical approaches and added,” True monotheism in Islamic mysticism can be a savior of man and Islamic unity though unfortunately the meaning of monotheism is defined in a deviate path by Wahhabi ideology and extremist moves.”

Iranian cleric said studying humanities and sociologies with an Islamic focus is an important demand of the world of Islam which is under careful research in Al Mustafa.

Hujjat-ul-Islam A’rafi noted that solution for many issues in the world of Islam, including extremism and Takfir (excommunication) is strengthening commonalities of all Islamic denominations by Muslim clerics and stressed readiness of Al Mustafa University to share its experiences with other academic and religious centers in the world of Islam.

Iranian religious figure warned against growth of secular thoughts and development of extremist and Takfiri thoughts as two threats jeopardizing Bangladesh and other Islamic states and added that promotion of revolutionary thoughts, rationality and stressing morality and Islamic mysticism as strategies which can protect Muslim world from these dangers.



Turkey’s Top Cleric Calls for Autonomous Religious Directorate

ANKARA, March/08/2016

Turkey’s top cleric has called for a restructuring of the Directorate of Religious Affairs (Diyanet) in order to make it an “autonomous” body, during work to draft a new constitution, while he also stating that madrasas (Islamic seminaries) in Southeast Anatolia should have legal status in order to avoid exploitation by “terrorist” groups.

“During debates on the new constitution, Diyanet should definitely be restructured. In my opinion, getting Diyanet completely out of politics and turning it into an entirely autonomous institution has become an obligation,” Diyanet President Mehmet Görmez told a group of journalists last week.

His remarks delivered en route from south-eastern Sirnak province to Ankara on March 4 were released by the state-run Anadolu Agency late on March 7. Görmez accompanied Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu on March 4 during an unannounced visit to Sirnak’s Silopi district, which was scene to a blanket curfew between Dec. 14, 2015, and Jan. 19 as part of operations against militants from the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

“I believe that [for Diyanet] to resume its presence as an autonomous institution in administrative, scientific and religious aspects which has public corporate identity and which can stand on its own feet but which is a constitutional institution will be useful,” Görmez said.

Diyanet was created in 1924 to replace Ottoman Sheikh al-Islam, the mufti with the authority to confirm new sultans who also served as the chief legal adviser. The caliphate itself was abolished in 1924, part of early modernization efforts by Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, who founded the secular Turkish Republic on the ruins of the Ottoman Empire.

Today, Görmez’s department drafts the weekly sermon delivered at the nation’s 85,000 mosques, which it supervises, and more than 2,000 mosques abroad that function under the directorate. It also employs all of Turkey’s imams, who are technically considered civil servants trained by the state.

‘Religious services a matter of security’

“At the moment, looking at our region, religious services are a matter of security. In a world like this, the presence of Diyanet, which fulfills its services in 85,000 mosques in Turkey five times a day and every Friday and conducts all other work, has gradually become more important. Five years later, it will become more important. If we take developments in the region into consideration, 10 years later, we will be more in need of this institution as the country and as the geography. Taking all of these into consideration, I believe that it will be more useful to have the institution able to stand on its own feet and proceed on its way with a more uniting and more surrounding mission by leaving aside suspicions, anxieties and fears,” Görmez said.

“We want the madrasas in the region to have a certain structure with its curriculum, exams and instructors in a legal environment where their inspection would be possible,” he also said. “We witness that otherwise these structures are being exploited by the terror organization,” he added, referring to the PKK. “This should also be spoken very clearly and transparently and should be pondered. It should not be understood as paving the way for a new institution alternative to formal education,” he said.

After the proclamation of the republic in 1923, in addition to the abolishment of the caliphate, a series of reforms were enacted in 1924. The closure of all madrasas, “tekkes” (dervish lodges) and “zaviyes” (small dervish lodges), the closure of the Sharia and Religious Foundations Ministry and placing all educational institutions under the Education Ministry were among these reforms.



Arrest warrant issued for US-based Turkish cleric

ERZURUM , March/08/2016

Arrest warrants have been issued for a U.S.-based Muslim cleric, who Turkey’s president accuses of attempting to topple the government, and his brother on terrorism charges, a Turkish prosecutor has said.

The chief public prosecutor’s office in the country’s eastern province of Erzurum said in a written statement signed by prosecutor Ahmet Çiçekli on March 7 that arrest warrants were issued for Fethullah Gülen and his brother, Salih Güven, on the charges of “membership of an armed terrorist organization,” “violating the constitution” and “major fraud.”

A search was conducted in a printing house owned by the cleric’s brother in Erzurum upon a notice implicating the storage of information and documents related to “parallel structure” in the printing house, the prosecutor’s office added, with Gülen and his referenced in statement only by initials.

 “An investigation has been launched against the suspects F.G., S.G. and S.Y. by our Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office on the charges of ‘membership of an armed terrorist organization,’ ‘violating the constitution’ and ‘major fraud’ upon the notice that information and documents were stored in the printing house owned by S.G., which is the brother of F.G.,” the prosecutor’s office said, adding that S.Y., an administrative official from the printing house, was arrested within the investigation.

Gülen is accused by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and people from his inner circle along with leading profiles from the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) of forming and heading a terrorist organization – publicly dubbed as the “parallel structure” – with the U.S.-based Muslim cleric’s alleged sympathizers working in the police and other state institutions as insiders.



Israel defends spurning Obama invite ahead of Biden visit

JERUSALEM - Agence France-Presse


Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office on March 8 defended his decision to turn down an invitation to the White House that sparked controversy hours before Vice President Joe Biden arrives for talks.

The White House said on March 7 that it was "surprised" Netanyahu spurned President Barack Obama's invitation for talks later this month and said it had first learnt of it through news reports.

It had offered to host Netanyahu on March 18 during a planned visit by the premier for the annual conference of pro-Israel lobby group AIPAC. 

But Netanyahu's office said that he had wanted to avoid interfering in US presidential primary elections currently taking place and would not be travelling to Washington but would address AIPAC by satellite link.

It said Israeli ambassador Ron Dermer had told the White House on March 4 that there was "a good chance" Netanyahu would not be visiting Washington and that a final decision would be taken on March 7.

"On Monday [March 7], news reports suggested that the PM would not be travelling to Washington and erroneously stated that the president was unwilling to meet with the PM," the statement said.

"The (prime minister's office) immediately corrected the erroneous news reports and officially informed the administration that the PM would not be coming to Washington.

"The PM is looking forward to the visit of VP Biden and discussing how we can meet the many challenges facing the region."   

On March 7 in Washington, an Obama aide said the Israeli government had requested a meeting to take place on March 17 or 18, and the White House had responded selecting the latter date two weeks ago.

"We were looking forward to hosting the bilateral meeting, and we were surprised to first learn via media reports that the prime minister, rather than accept our invitation, opted to cancel his visit," said National Security Council spokesman Ned Price.

"Reports that we were not able to accommodate the prime minister's schedule are false."   

Obama and Netanyahu have had a rocky personal relationship, worsened by the Israeli premier's forceful opposition to the Iran nuclear deal, including in a speech to the US Congress.

But the two have sought to set aside their disagreements in recent months and work out a new 10-year defense aid package for Israel as well as demonstrate that the ties between the two traditional allies remain strong.

Biden is due to arrive in Tel Aviv later on March 8 and hold talks with Netanyahu on March 9. He is also scheduled to meet Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas.



IRGC Kicks off Large-Scale Missile Defense Drill

Feb. 8, 2016

TEHRAN (FNA)- The Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) began the main stage of its ballistic missile excercies on Tuesday.

Called 'Eqtedar-e Velayat', the command, tactical and special exercises are being conducted in the presence of IRGC Commander Major General Mohammad Ali Jafari as well as Commander of IRGC Aerospace Force Brigadier General Amir Ali Hajizadeh.

The drills are meant to test advanced missile defense systems as well as showcase the deterrence power and the clout of the IRGC forces in defending the country's territorial integrity against foreign threats.

The maneuvers are being held in different geographical locations, using ballistic missiles fired from underground silos.

Last month, Chief of Staff of the Iranian Armed Forces Major General Hassan Firouzabadi said the IRGC would test its new weapons and military equipment in new wargames.

"The large-scale drills will be staged within the framework of the Armed Forces' stated goals: training, testing and using new products," Firouzabadi told reporters.

He said the defense ministry tests its weapons and equipment in advance as part of a routine training cycle designed to improve defense.

Elaborating on the IRGC drills, Firouzabadi said the exercises are meant to improve cooperation and coordination, prepare the Armed Forces for any possible attack, and contribute to their qualitative military edge.

"Testing and evaluating precision-striking capabilities and power, increasing the Armed Forces' preparedness, and strengthening the missile deterrence power are among the main goals of the drills," he added.

Iranian Armed Forces recently test-fired different types of newly-developed missiles and torpedoes and tested a large number of home-made weapons, tools and equipment, including submarines, military ships, artillery, choppers, aircrafts, UAVs and air defense and electronic systems, during massive military drills.

Defense analysts and military observers say that Iran's wargames and its advancements in weapons production have proved as a deterrent factor.

The officials have always underscored that the country's defense program cannot be affected by the nuclear deal clinched between Iran and the world powers on July 14 and the UN Security Council resolutions.

On October 11, Iran successfully test-fired the country's new precision-guided long-range ballistic missile that can be controlled until the moment of impact. Emad carries a conventional warhead.

"This missile (Emad) which has been fully designed and made by Iranian Defense Ministry's scientists and experts is the country' first long-range missile with navigation and strike controlling capability; it is capable of hitting and destroying the targets with high-precision," Defense Minister Brigadier General Hossein Dehqan told reporters after the successful test of Emad missile.

The Iranian Defense Minister reiterated that the manufacture and successful testing of Emad missile is a technological and operational jump in a strategic field, and said, "We don’t ask for anyone's permission for boosting our defense and missile power; we resolutely continue our defense programs, specially in the missile field, and Emad missile is a conspicuous example."

General Dehqan felicitated Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei, Armed Forces and nation on the successful testing, and appreciated the scientists and experts of the Aerospace Industries Organization of the Defense Ministry.

He said the delivery of Emad missiles to the Armed Forces would considerably increase their deterrence power and tactical capabilities.



IRGC Navy Commander Sees Presence of US Warships in Persian Gulf as Devilish Act

Feb. 8, 2016

TEHRAN (FNA)- Commander of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) Navy Rear Admiral Ali Fadavi said presence of US warships in the Persian Gulf does in no way benefit the security of the littoral states and causes tension and turmoil.

"We have been telling the Americans for years that their military presence in the Persian Gulf is not only damaging but also cause of absolute evil," Fadavi said Monday, addressing a ceremony in the Northwestern city of Tabriz.

On the capture of 10 US Marines in early January, he said, "They were aware that they were not allowed under any condition to enter Iran's territorial waters."

Fadavi said the incident was somehow designed to derail the delicate nuclear deal clinched between Iran and the world powers at the time.

On January 12, nine men and one woman from the US Navy strayed into the Iranian territorial waters near the Farsi Island in the Persian Gulf. They were immediately captured by the IRGC.

Their boats were equipped with 50mm caliber machine guns and other light and semi-heavy weapons. Many regional analysts have also praised the IRGC's brave reaction to the US aggression.

The IRGC freed the 10 a day later and after it was proved that they had strayed into the Iranian waters only due to the failure of their navigation devices and equipment.

Abdel Bari Atwan, the editor-in-chief of Rai al-Youm newspaper, hailed the move and said that he wished one of the Arab countries had ever dared to detain even one or two US forces for the extensive crimes they have committed against the regional people.




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