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Islamic World News ( 19 March 2019, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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ISIS Calls On Followers to ‘Take Revenge’ For New Zealand Terror Attack

New Age Islam News Bureau

19 March 2019

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern speaks to the media during a Post Cabinet press conference at Parliament in Wellington, on March 18, 2019. PHOTO: AFP



 Isis Calls On Followers to ‘Take Revenge’ For New Zealand Terror Attack

 Saudi Arabia’s Adel Al-Jubeir Says Terrorism Has ‘No Religion or Race’ In Wake of Christchurch Attack

 UAE Gave ‘Words of Wisdom’ To Reduce Indo-Pak Tensions: Envoy

 UK Muslims Could Be Target of Mass Shooting: Minister Of State For Security

 New Zealand PM Says Mosque Attacker Will Face ‘Full Force of Law’

 Malaysian Government’s Reform Agenda Distracted by Political Islam

 Utrecht Attack: The Erdogan Connection?

 Bangladeshi Christians, Muslims and Hindus Condemn the Christchurch Mosque Attacks

 Pakistan Minority Members Demand Representation in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly


Arab World

 Isis Calls On Followers to ‘Take Revenge’ For New Zealand Terror Attack

 Saudi Arabia’s Adel Al-Jubeir Says Terrorism Has ‘No Religion or Race’ In Wake of Christchurch Attack

 Ankara Builds New Border Crossing to Connect Aleppo's Afrin, Turkey

 Several ISIL Terrorists Evacuated from Eastern Syria in US Heliborne Operations

 Syrian Army Fends Off Terrorists' Attacks as Ankara Sends More Convoys to Idlib

 Tens of Mass Graves of Izadi Victims of ISIL Discovered in Northern Iraq

 More Civilians Killed in US Airstrikes on Deir Ezzur

 Iraq sentences Belgian man to death for being part of ISIS



 UAE Gave ‘Words of Wisdom’ To Reduce Indo-Pak Tensions: Envoy

 Kartarpur Corridor: India Starts Work On Integrated Check Post At Dera Baba Nanak

 Maldives highlights ‘India-first’ policy during Sushma Swaraj’s visit

 India lodges strong protest with Pak over harassment of its officials in Islamabad

 Civilian shot dead by militants in J-K’s Pulwama

 Mirwaiz skips NIA summon for second time, reiterates willingness to be quizzed in Srinagar



 UK Muslims Could Be Target of Mass Shooting: Minister of State For Security

 New Zealand PM Says Mosque Attacker Will Face ‘Full Force Of Law’

 Muslims in Germany anxious after New Zealand attacks

 Islamophobia is on rise in Spain: Report

 Australia pledges $39m to improve security at religious sites

 Dutch police arrest suspect in Utrecht shooting

 Three dead in Dutch tram shooting, police say suspect is Turkish-born

 Teenager charged for live streaming NZ mosque shooting

 NZ cabinet agrees on measures for tougher gun laws ‘in principle’

 Rights activist gets 4-year sentence in Russia’s Chechnya

 Sweden to grant direct refugee status to Uighur Turks

 Turkey blasts Europe's 'silence' on NZ terror attacks

 Germany weighs heightened security for mosques


Southeast Asia

 Malaysian Government’s Reform Agenda Distracted by Political Islam

 Home Minister Has No Power to Ban Books on Islam, Court Told

 MPs hail New Zealanders, PM Ardern for show of love and strength in face of adversity

 Ban Aussie Senator Fraser Anning from Entering Malaysia, Urges MP

 Indonesian terror group leader Abu Umar jailed for 10 years over extremist teachings



 Utrecht Attack: The Erdogan Connection?

 Turkey, Iran Carried Out Joint Operation against Kurdish Militants

 Israel is depriving Palestinians of clean water: UN rights expert

 Iran denies Turkish statement on a joint raid against PKK militants

 Erdogan says anyone trying to attack Turkey will go back home ‘in caskets’


North America

 Trump Is the Guiding Hand behind the Mass Slaying Of Muslims in New Zealand: Analyst

 Trump Complains He Is Being Blamed For Christchurch Attack

 US Muslim group slams Israeli assault at al-Aqsa

 Rouhani: Iran to take legal action against US over sanctions

 US, Iraq discuss next steps in Daesh fight

 UN: Israel violated human rights in Palestine


South Asia

 Bangladeshi Christians, Muslims and Hindus Condemn the Christchurch Mosque Attacks

 Bangladesh PM: Never Allow Anti-Liberation Forces To Be In Power Again

 Rohingya ‘lost generation’ struggles to study in Bangladesh camps

 MoD confirms Taliban militants have captured 58 border security forces

 35 Taliban militants killed, large weapons cache destroyed in Kunduz province

 28 Taliban militants killed in past 48 hours in Faryab: 209th Shaheen Corps

 More than 40 Taliban militants killed, wounded in Special Forces operations, airstrikes

 Myanmar military court to probe violence against Rohingya

 China terms 2008 Mumbai attacks as one of ‘the most notorious terrorist attacks’



 Pakistan Minority Members Demand Representation in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly

 Siraj Asks Muslim Ummah to Work out Strategy For Security

 Talks with Locals For Rs100bn Fata Uplift Plan Soon

 I Am a Proud Muslim from Pakistan, but I Will Be A Kiwi Forever

 FM arrives in Beijing for first Sino-Pak strategic dialogue

 Police van targeted with IED in DI Khan, three injured

 Pakistan’s National Day: Chinese fighter jets to participate in Parade



 Jordanian MPs Call For Expulsion of Israeli Envoy over Al-Aqsa Dispute

 Somalia: Locals Gang-Up Against Al-Shabaab, Kill 4 Militants

 Brother-in-law of Tunisia’s Ben Ali arrested, France confirms

 Fourth month of protests in Sudan, demonstrations go on

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau




Isis Calls On Followers to ‘Take Revenge’ For New Zealand Terror Attack

19 March 2019

Isis has called on its followers to retaliate for the terror attack against Muslims in New Zealand last week, in a rare message from one of its top figures.

The group’s spokesman, Abu Hassan al-Muhajir, broke a six month silence to call on Isis supporters to “take vengeance for their religion” in the 44-minute audio recording.

“This slaughter in those two mosques is no more than another tragedy among past and coming tragedies, which will be followed by scenes of force that reach all who were tricked to living among the polytheist,” he said in the message distributed by Al Furqan, a media organisation linked to Isis.

“The scenes of death in the two mosques are enough to wake the sleep and incite the supporters of the caliphate who live there, to take vengeance for their religion and for sons of their Ummah, who are killed everywhere in the world.”

The attack in Christchurch, New Zealand, left 50 people dead at two mosques during midday prayers. A 28-year-old Australian is the main suspect and in a manifesto, called himself a white nationalist out to avenge attacks in Europe by Muslims.

Isis has consistently made the argument that Muslims and non-Muslims cannot live side-by-side, and has used terror attacks such as these in its propaganda to make the case for its declaration of an Islamic state.

Even before the message appeared on Isis channels on the encrypted messaging app Telegram, experts had warned that the Christchurch massacre could be used for "reciprocal radicalisation".

Isis supporters have claimed to avenge Muslims killed in Syria and Iraq, while far-right terrorists including the Finsbury Park attacker and the alleged New Zealand mosque shooter have claimed the same for victims of Isis-inspired attacks.

Security services fear a "domino effect" in atrocities and will be bracing for any potential impact from Isis's latest call.

Al-Muhajir, who real name is not known, also commented on the ongoing battle for the last scrap of the Isis caliphate in eastern Syria. Isis fighters have been surrounded in a camp in the village of Baghouz and are facing a final onslaught from the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces.

Tens of thousands have filed out of the village over the past two months, among them nearly 5,000 surrendering Isis fighters. But the spokesman sought to downplay the losses.

"Do you think the displacement of the weak and poor out of Baghouz will weaken the Islamic State? No," he said.

Isis's defeat at Baghouz will end its control of inhabited land in the third of Syria and Iraq that it captured in 2014. However, the group will remain a threat, regional and Western officials say

The last message from Al-Muhajir came in September 2018, when he claimed responsibility on Isis’s behalf for an attack on an Iranian military parade in the city of Ahvaz.




Saudi Arabia’s Adel Al-Jubeir says terrorism has ‘no religion or race’ in wake of Christchurch attack

March 18, 2019

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia's Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Adel Al-Jubeir said on Monday that the world stands united in solidarity with Muslims after the terror attack in Christchurch, New Zealand last week, which killed 50 people.

Taking to Twitter, Al-Jubeir also said that the incident proved that terrorism had "no religion or race."

He added: "New Zealand is a safe, peaceful and open country for all, and what the prime minister, the government and the people of New Zealand have done is proof of that."

His statements follow condemnation of the attacks by King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. The king was praised for his “strong and firm” response to Friday’s terrorist attack by Dr. Yousef Al-Othaimeen, secretary-general of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC).

Dr. Al-Othaimeen said: “The words of King Salman come as support for the OIC, its committees, institutions and administrations, to control and combat Islamophobia.”



UAE Gave ‘Words Of Wisdom’ To Reduce Indo-Pak Tensions: Envoy

March 19, 2019

NEW DELHI: The UAE played an important role in reducing the recent tensions between India and Pakistan by giving "words of wisdom" on sorting out differences in a peaceful manner, the Gulf nations ambassador said in Delhi on Monday.

Ambassador Ahmed Al Banna, however, clarified that the United Arab Emirates (UAE) did not mediate between the two countries and that the aim of its efforts was to decrease the tensions which had spiralled in the wake of the air strike by Indian jets at a Jaish-e-Mohammed terror camp in Balakot, Pakistan, following the Pulwama terror attack.

The UAE envoy, while speaking at an interaction at IIT-Delhi, also referred to Abu Dhabi Crown Prince and deputy commander of the armed forces Mohamed bin Zayed al-Nahyan's telephonic conversation with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Pakistani counterpart Imran Khan amid escalating tensions.

"We played an important role in reducing the (Indo-Pak) tensions that took place. On the day there was a huge escalation, there was a phone call from our Abu Dhabi Crown Prime to Prime Minister Modi and to the Pakistan Prime Minister," he said in response to a question on the role played by the UAE in de-escalating Indo-Pak tensions.

"Our role was to give words of wisdom and try to sort out the differences in a peaceful manner just like the UAE has done in its relationship with Iran," he said.

On whether the UAE had successfully mediated in reducing Indo-Pak tensions, Mr Al Banna said: "We did not mediate. When you talk about mediation there has to be a request from both parties. We tried to decrease tensions by using our special relationship (with the two countries)."

Asked about India's action to strike the Jaish-e-Mohammed terror camp in Balakot, Mr Al Banna said what India or any country decides in terms of its policy, the UAE does not interfere.

"In general, we are against radicalism, we are against terrorists, we are against terrorism. A lot of people talk about definitions, but for us a terrorist act is a terrorist act. A lot of time we interact with Indian authorities and make suggestions and it is up to the Indian side to take it or not," he said.

To another question on India's presence at the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation Foreign Ministers meet in Abu Dhabi earlier this month, he welcomed New Delhi's participation.

Asked about Kashmir being raised by the Islamic grouping, the envoy stressed that the declaration made in Abu Dhabi at the OIC meeting made no mention of the "Kashmir problem".

The UAE envoy also said that there was strong cooperation between India and his country on counter terrorism.

"We would like to enhance counter-terror cooperation. We want to stop this nonsense of killing innocent people...Islam has been hijacked by some of those terrorists and they have hijacked the actual purity of Islam," Mr Al Banna said.

Asked if the UAE had given any message to Pakistan on terror sanctuaries, Mr Al Banna said: "Without mentioning any specific person, name or country, the UAE has a long standing (position of) preventing, fighting act of terrorism and those radical organisations, so we work with all partners in the region to make our region a peaceful region."

Tensions between India and Pakistan escalated after Indian Air Force fighter jets bombed terror group Jaish-e-Mohammed's biggest training camp near Balakot deep inside Pakistan on February 26.

Pakistan retaliated by attempting to target Indian military installations the next day. However, the IAF thwarted their plans.

The Indian strike on the JeM camp came 12 days after the terror outfit claimed responsibility for a suicide attack on a CRPF convoy in Jammu and Kashmir''s Pulwama in which 40 soldiers were killed.

In his address, the envoy said it was the UAE and Saudi Arabia that covered the shortage of oil for India after Iran sanctions.

Get the latest election news, live updates and election schedule for Lok Sabha Elections 2019 on Like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter and Instagram for updates from each of the 543 parliamentary seats for the 2019 Indian general elections.



UK Muslims Could Be Target Of Mass Shooting: Minister Of State For Security

Mar 18, 2019

Britain’s Minister of State for Security Ben Wallace has warned Muslims in the country could become victims of high-profile terrorist attacks like those that killed 50 worshipers in two mosques in New Zealand on Friday.

Speaking to the BBC Radio on Monday, Wallace said the government was hugely concerned about the mushroom growth of far-right extremist groups in the UK which he said could be a serious threat to the safety of around three million Muslims living in the country.

Wallace said a mass shooting of Muslims seen in the city of Christchurch in New Zealand on Friday “absolutely could happen” in Britain, adding that police and other security officials have been busy over the past days hunting down suspects that could have been inspired by the massacre. 

“The government has been concerned about the growing group of people crossing into the extremist mindset on the far right, and the neo-Nazis,” said the minister, adding that police in London and Wales have made arrests in connection to attacks and operations that are believed to have been terrorist or related to far-right activity.

Australia-born 28-year-old Brenton Torrent, who has yet to be officially identified, had said before his mass shooting of the Muslims in Christchurch that he was inspired by Darren Osborne, an English terrorist who drove his car into a crowd of Muslim worshipers outside a mosque in Finsbury Park, North London, in June 2017.

Right after the attack in New Zealand, police in east London rushed to respond to an attack on a Muslim man outside a mosque in the area. Muslims across the UK have suffered numerous hate attacks over the past years with many blaming the surge on an Islamophobic discourse existing in the media and supported by the politicians of the country.



New Zealand PM says mosque attacker will face ‘full force of law’

Mar 19, 2019

New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says the terrorist who killed scores of Muslims at two mosques in the country last Friday will face “the full force of the law.”

In a condolence speech in parliament on Tuesday, Ardern said she would also never speak the name of the 28-year-old Australian attacker, who she said “sought many things from his act of terror, but one was notoriety.”

“That is why you will never hear me mention his name. He is a terrorist. He is a criminal. He is an extremist. But he will, when I speak, be nameless,” she said in the speech, which she opened with an Arabic “as salaam alaikum” message of peace to Muslims.

Ardern also urged people not to give the terrorist the notoriety he sought by speaking his name.

“I implore you: speak the names of those who were lost rather than the name of the man who took them,” she said.

New Zealand was struck by grief and shock after a gunman opened fire at two mosques in the South Island city of Christchurch during prayers last Friday, killing at least 50 people and wounding some 50 others, nine of whom are in critical condition.

The gunman was charged with one count of murder at Christchurch District Court on Saturday. Ardern assured parliament that he would face further charges, saying “he will face the full force of the law in New Zealand.”

The 38-year-old leader also urged the country to support its grieving Muslim community, particularly when they return to pray on Friday.

“On Friday, it will be a week since the attack; members of the Muslim community will gather for worship on that day. Let us acknowledge their grief as they do,” she said.

In the wake of the terrorist attack, Ardern has vowed to reform the country’s gun laws, which allowed the assailant to legally purchase the weapons he used in the terrorist attack, including semi-automatic rifles.

Ardern said that the “worst act of terrorism on our shores” had exposed a range of weaknesses in the country’s gun laws. “I strongly believe that the vast majority of gun owners in New Zealand will agree with the sentiment that change needs to occur.”

New Zealanders have already begun answering government appeals to hand in their weapons. Police said they did not have data available on the number of weapons surrendered since Friday.



Malaysian government’s reform agenda distracted by political Islam


MARCH 19, 2019

As Malaysia nears the first anniversary of a historic regime change, there are questions about the viability of the new Pakatan Harapan (Alliance of Hope) government led by Mahathir Mohamad. PH has just lost the two most recent by-elections and there is every likelihood that it will lose the next by-election, in the middle of next month, as well. Losing three by-elections is always a bad sign for any government.

Although there are probably many reasons why PH is not doing well, there is consensus that perhaps it is losing steam because it is not keeping to its reform agenda. There is little doubt that the previous Barisan National (National Front) government under Najib Razak was kicked out for kleptocracy but, equally importantly, people were just sick and tired of the BN’s racial and religious politics — in the name of Ketuanan Melayu(Malay Supremacy) — and in more recent times, Ketuanan Islam (Islamic supremacy).

The Malay supremacy game is played out by the affirmative action policy enacted back in 1971, widely called the Malay Agenda, where Malays are given preference in all economic, social and education spheres. They range from a special university for Malay students, special licences to import cars, to discounts for buying properties. Most Malaysians would support this policy if it were going to help poor Malays, but many studies have shown the ones benefiting most from the program are the rich and politically connected Malays. The unique feature is the creation of crony capitalism with an ethnic identity.

The PH administration knows the right thing to do is to move away from a racial affirmative action policy to one that is needs-based. This will end resentment among the non-Malay population while the poor Malays will still benefit.

Most Australians think that Malaysia is more moderate than Indonesia, but Malaysia has more Islamic State fighters per capita than Indonesia. The past four decades have seen a bureaucratisation of Islam in Malaysia, much more extensive than anything in Indonesia. Islamic schools in Malaysia, state and private, are known to be using a curriculum that preaches intolerance and there is evidence that Salafi teaching is gaining a foothold in some schools. Hence a significant portion of young Muslims today hold intolerant views and prefer the establishment of an Islamic state, ignoring the fact that one-third of the population of Malaysia is non-Muslim.

The rise of political Islam is probably unstoppable given the constitutional set-up. Malaysia is one of very few countries around the world that constitutionally links race and Islam. A person who is legally defined as a Malay in Malaysia is also legally defined as a Muslim. Islam is also the de facto official religion. All political parties hoping to get the Malay vote must project themselves as champions of Islam.

Mahathir has always stood for the progressive form of Islam but he is a minority among Muslim leaders.

Many Muslim leaders simply do not want to confront the rise of political Islam in Malaysia for the simple reason that this is the still the most potent political vehicle to climb.

The middle class and the intelligentsia were hoping that PH will deal with these two key issues — Malay Agenda and political Islam — if elected. After all, in its manifesto PH clearly stated that it will reform the Malay Agenda and deal with political Islam.

One year later, the new government appears to be still stagnant. The civil service is still resisting change while PH supporters are disheartened by the slow pace of reform.

The issue is compounded by endless rumours about Anwar Ibrahim. Anwar, a former deputy prime minister who was jailed for corruption and sodomy, was anointed by PH to be Mahathir’s successor. Mahathir has publicly named Anwar as his successor and promised to go by next year. Yet there are persistent rumours that Anwar is not the “right” person and that Mahathir privately prefers someone else.

Whatever the truth, the reality is these rumours are creating mistrust among PH parties and creating an even more negative perception of the government. It distracts the entire government from concentrating on reforms as key political players prefer to wait and see.

If PH is to have any real chance of getting re-elected in 2023, it must confront the destructive ideology of Ketuanan Melayu and the rise of political Islam. Some PH leaders may think they must pander to both to get re-elected but the truth is, you win by moving to the middle ground with real reforms. If PH plays the same game as the previous regime, then the voters will think they might as well return the BN to power. Why vote for the clone when you can have the original?

But first, PH had better settled the issue of Mahathir’s successor. By not giving a clear date for the handover, they are creating unnecessary political tensions in a government that should be reforming Malaysia. The “new” Malaysia is still a nation in waiting.



Utrecht Attack: The Erdogan Connection?

March 19, 2019

ANKARA: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was heavily criticized on Monday for using the New Zealand mosque terrorist’s video footage to inflame his supporters at election rallies.

After Erdogan spoke, a Turkish gunman in the Netherlands shot three people dead on a tram. Gokmen Tanis, 37, was arrested on Monday night after an eight-hour manhunt in the Dutch city of Utrecht. Police said initially the incident was a terrorist attack, but they have not ruled out a family dispute.

The Turkish leader used the video footage, filmed by Brenton Tarrant as he killed 50 people in two mosques in Christchurch on Friday, at a series of election rallies the following day. He said Tarrant’s manifesto was to keep Turks from Europe.

As the footage of Friday’s attack played on a screen, Erdogan said: “What does it say? That we shouldn’t go west of the Bosphorus, meaning Europe. Otherwise, he would come to Istanbul, kill us all, drive us out of our land.”

Erdogan’s use of the video footage, which social media companies have been trying to block from their sites, was condemned in both New Zealand and Turkey. New Zealand Foreign Minister Winston Peters raised the issue on a visit by Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu.

“Anything of that nature that misrepresents this country … imperils the future and safety of the New Zealand people and our people abroad, and it’s totally unfair,” Peters said.

“We had a long dialogue on the need for any other country, or Turkey for that matter, to ensure that our country, New Zealand, was not misrepresented.”

Turkey’s main opposition CHP party spokesman Faik Oztrak, said: “Is it worth showing this bloody massacre in order to gain a few more votes?”

In Utrecht, the man arrested for shooting dead three people on a tram had been detained previously on suspicion of being connected to Daesh, after he went to Chechnya to fight.

Gokmen Tanis, 37, is from Turkey’s central Yozgat province, the scene of several anti-Daesh operations in recent years. He has lived in the Netherlands since 1993.

Tanis was known to police for both minor and major crimes, including a shooting in 2013.

The shooting took place in Kanaleneiland, a quiet residential district on the outskirts of Utrecht with a large immigrant population.

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte convened crisis talks immediately after the incident.

“Our country has today been shocked by an attack in Utrecht. A terrorist motive cannot be excluded,” he said.

Dutch police issued an image of Tanis and warned the public not to approach him.

“It’s frightening that something like this can happen so close to home,” said Omar Rahhou, whose parents lived on a street cordoned off by police. “These things normally happen far away but this brings it very close, awful.”



Bangladeshi Christians, Muslims and Hindus condemn the Christchurch mosque attacks


by Sumon Corraya

Dhaka (AsiaNews) – Christians, Muslims and Hindus in Dhaka strongly condemned Friday’s attacks against two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand.

The carnage, carried out by Brenton Tarrant, an Australian man with supremacist and racist views, caused the death of 50 people and the wounding of at least another 48.

Several of the victims were migrants from the South and South-East Asia. Two of the dead and five of the wounded came from Bangladesh.

In yesterday’s Angelus in St Peter's Square, the Pope condemned the attack in New Zealand, calling on the faithful to "oppose hatred and violence" with "prayer and gestures of peace". In Asia, several Churches also expressed closeness to the Muslim community.

Bangladeshi Foreign Minister Shahriar Alam released the names of the Bangladeshis victims. The two dead are muezzin Abdus Samad and Hosina Ara, a homemaker who had taken her disabled husband to Friday prayer. The wounded are Lipi, Motasim, Md Omar Faruk, Shahjada Akter and Sheikh Hasan Rubel. The first two are still in critical conditions.

Meanwhile, the Bangladesh cricket team returned home yesterday. The players were supposed to play a game the day after the attack and escaped the massacre by only five minutes. They were in fact on their way to the mosque to pray.

In Dhaka, thousands of Muslims gathered yesterday in front of the National Press Club to protest against the attack.

"It is not acceptable for an attack to take place in a place of prayer in an advanced country like New Zealand,” said Mahammad Abdul Hakim, secretary of the Bangladesh Islamic Front Dhaka Unit. “We condemn the odious act against the faithful of Islam."

Speaking about the attacker’s Christian religion, he added: "We want the Christian militant to be punished. Muslims are not safe anywhere in the world.”

Christians shared the pain felt by Muslims, calling for the murderer to be punished.

"I don’t have enough words to condemn the mosque attacks,” said Mgr Gervas Rozario, bishop of Rajshahi. “My thoughts are for the victims, may they have eternal rest, and I ask for an exemplary punishment of the attacker.”

Nirmol Rozario, president of the Bangladesh Christian Association, agrees with bishop’s harsh words. "This incident comes from the devil. We condemn this shameful attack on our Muslim brothers. We hope for the healing of the wounded."

"The world is afflicted by fundamentalists,” said Palash Roy, a Hindu leader. “Religion is for the good [of people], not to show hatred. All believers, of any faith, must realise this.”,-Muslims-and-Hindus-condemn-the-Christchurch-mosque-attacks-46532.html



Pakistan minority members demand representation in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa assembly

Mar 18, 2019

PESHAWAR: The members of the minority community in Pakistan's northwest Khyber Pakhtunkhwa provice Monday demanded representation in the provincial assembly, warning that they will launch a protest if their demand is not met. Leader of the Sikh Community Gorpal Singh said there were three minority members in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa assmebly, of whom two belonged to the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf () party.

All the three members are away from their community as they have no role in addressing the problems of their people, Singh said.

No minority member has been part of the cabinet since April 2016 when the then advisor of chief minister Sardar Soorna Singh was killed.

Prime Minister Imran Khan's party has been in power in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa since 2013.

The problems of the minorities can be addressed if any one of the three members is inducted in the provincial cabinet, Singh said.

He suggested that Ravi Kumar (from Kelash Community of Chitral) be made a member of the cabinet to help address minority community's problems.

"Otherwise, the minority community would have no other option except to protest for the acceptance of their demand," Sigh warned.

The party has two minority members in the assembly



Arab World


Ankara Builds New Border Crossing to Connect Aleppo's Afrin, Turkey

Mar 18, 2019

Turkey has recently attempted to set up new crossing between Afrin region and Lawa Eskandaroun known as Olive Branch Crossing, the London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) reported. 

The report said hundreds of trees have been cut off in Afrin to set up the crossing that is believed to be mainly aimed at sending commodities to Turkey from Syria.

"This border crossing might be an alternate for two other passages of Bab al-Hawa and Atmeh in Northern Syria," the SOHR quoted some sources as saying.

The report comes as measures against civilians such as plundering and stealing properties of civilians as well as abduction of civilians have increased since the Turkish Army and its allied militants occupied Afrin.

In a relevant development on Sunday, sources said that the Turkish Army has looted the artifacts and archeological monuments of Syria's historical sites in Afrin region in Northwestern Aleppo.

Turkish teams equipped with excavation instruments are excavating for artifacts in Jandaris hills in Afrin region, the SOHR quoted informed sources in Southwestern Afrin as saying.

The SOHR noted that the Turkish Army, meantime, has blocked all roads to the region, and said that another excavation operation is underway in Ma'abali region in Western Afrin and Ali Aisheh and Tal Zarafkeh regions.

This comes as plundering of civilians' assets and abducting them as well as receiving heavy taxes by the Ankara-backed militants are still underway in Afrin.

In a relevant development on Thursday, the Syrian government announced that the terrorist groups have transferred thousands of artifacts from the country's archeological sites to Turkey.

"A sum of 17,000 pieces of archeological works that had been stolen from Syria's museums and archeological sites are presently in Turkey," Syria's director general for archeological monuments Mahmoud Hamoud said.

Hamoud reiterated that most of the stolen manuscripts had been stolen from Jobar Synagogue in Eastern Damascus and had been smuggled to Turkey from Eastern Ghouta.

This comes as the terrorist groups had smuggled thousands of artifacts from Syria to neighboring Turkey.

In a relevant development earlier this month, Arab media outlets reported that more than 142 families of ISIL commanders and foreign militants together with Syria's historic monuments have been relocated to Turkey from Eastern Euphrates with the help of the US-backed Kurdish fighters and Ankara's allied militants.

The Arabic-language al-Watan newspaper quoted dissident sources as saying that a network comprising tens of Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and Ankara-backed militants transferred the historic monuments as well as the ISIL commanders, terrorists and their families to Northern Aleppo and from there to Turkey.

The sources explained that over 142 families of the ISIL commanders and terrorists have been relocated to Turkey from Eastern Euphrates on military vehicles after paying cash up to $90,000.

Meantime, a number of Syrian militants and their families have also moved towards Idlib province.



Several ISIL Terrorists Evacuated from Eastern Syria in US Heliborne Operations

Mar 18, 2019

Local sources in Eastern Deir Ezzur reported that the US-led coalition forces staged heliborne operations near Badiyeh al-Tonak region, rescuing the ISIL militants on 3 helicopters.

They added that the evacuated terrorists were likely senior ISIL commanders, noting that a number of other ISIL militants were also transferred in another heliborne operation in al-Shifeh district of the town of al-Kashkiyeh in Eastern Deir Ezzur.

Last Friday, an Iraqi security expert said that the US had relocated the ISIL terrorists to Iraq from Syria through heliborne operations in cooperation with its allied militants in a bid to prolong its military presence in Iraq.

"The military reinforcement along the borders with Syria is futile because the ISIL terrorists in a blatant show are surrendering themselves to the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in Eastern Syria and they are being relocated to Iraq on Chinook and Apache helicopters," the Arabic-language al-Maloumeh News website quoted Kazzem al-Haj as saying.

He pointed to the US plan to continue its military presence in Iraq with the help of the ISIL terrorists and the Syrian Democratic Forces, and said that it is astonishing that the ISIL terrorists only surrender themselves to the SDF and not to any other force.

Full report at:



Syrian Army Fends Off Terrorists' Attacks as Ankara Sends More Convoys to Idlib

Mar 18, 2019

The Damascus Army units engaged in heavy clashes with Tahrir al-Sham terrorists on their military positions from Wadi al-Dorat and the surrounding areas of Lahaya and al-Latamanieh in Northern Hama, inflicting heavy losses and casualties on the militants. The Syrian Army's artillery and missile units also pounded the terrorists' military positions and hideouts in al-Haviz, al-Karkat, al-Koureh, Shahr Naz in Jabal Shahshabou and al-Jaberieh near Qala al-Maziq in Western Hama, destroying their military positions.

In Southern Idlib, the Syrian Army troops also inflicted heavy losses on the terrorists after foiling their attack from Safvohen on the Syrian Army's military positions.

This comes as the Turkish Army has dispatched new military convoys their controlled areas in Jisr al-Shoghour and Northwestern Hama after crossing Kharbeh al-Joz in Northern Idlib.

In a relevant development on Sunday, the Syrian Army warded off attacks by terrorists of Tahrir al-Sham al-Hayat in Northern Hama, Southern Idlib and Western Aleppo, destroying their key military positions.

The Syrian Army units engaged in heavy clashes with the terrorists in al-Sharia, al-Tavineh and al-Karim towns in Northern Hama, inflicting major losses on the terrorists and forcing a large number of them to retreat from the battle scene.

The Syrian Army's artillery and missile units also heavily pounded the terrorists' gatherings near the town of al-Jamaseh and West of Kafar Naboudeh in Northern Hama, destroying the terrorists' military positions and killing a large number of them.

This comes as Tahrir al-Sham terrorists launched a large number of rocket attacks on the town of al-Saqilbiyeh West of Hama, killing and injuring a number of civilians.

In Southeastern Idlib, the Syrian Army troops pounded the movements of Tahrir al-Sham and its allied militants from Badama and al-Najieh towns, inflicting heavy losses on them.

In a relevant development last Wednesday, the Syrian army pounded and destroyed a command headquarters of Tahrir al-Sham amid fierce attacks by terrorists on their military positions.

The Damascus army attacked the terrorists' military positions and movements in al-Habit and around Babilon town, destroying a meeting of militant commanders and killing all those present at the venue.

A military source also confirmed that the Syrian Army troops have destroyed a command center of Tahrir al-Sham together with several military vehicles in Harash Abedin town in Southeastern Idlib, inflicting heavy casualties on the terrorists.

In Northern Hama, the Syrian Army troops engaged in heavy clashes with terrorist groups who had concurrently attacked the Syrian Army's military positions near the town of Mahradeh and the al-Jadideh town in Northern Hama, inflicting heavy losses on the assailant terrorists after warding off their attack.

Meantime, the Syrian Army troops attacked the terrorists' military positions in Tal-e Shaviheneh, Kafar Hamreh and Haritan in response to their attacks on the civilian population in al-Zahra, al-Mokambo, al-Shahba al-Jadideh regions in Western Aleppo.

Full report at:



Tens of Mass Graves of Izadi Victims of ISIL Discovered in Northern Iraq

Mar 18, 2019

"A sum of 76 mass graves containing corpses of Izadi people who were victimized by the ISIL terrorist group have been found in Sinjar," Iraqi Commissioner for Human Rights Faten al-Halafi said.

He noted that in the latest discovery nine mass graves containing the dead bodies of Izadi people have been discovered in Northern Iraq.

In a relevant development last Wednesday, the Syrian Army discovered over 30 dead bodies from the debris of the buildings destroyed in the US-led air raids on Raqqa city and mass graves of ISIL's victims.

"The dead bodies of at least 10 Syrian victims who had been killed in the US airstrikes last year were discovered from buildings in al-Adkhar, al-Bayatareh and al-Haramiyeh districts of Raqqa City," media activists said.

They also said that the corpses of 23 victims massacred by the ISIL were retrieved from Fakhikheh mass grave South of Tale al-Ba'as Garrison in Raqqa City.

In a relevant development last month, the corpses of over 30 people who have been killed by the ISIL terrorists or in airstrikes by the US-led coalition were found from mass-graves and rubble of buildings in Raqqa.

Media activists in Raqqa reported that the civil workers have discovered the bodies of 28 people, including women and children, from a mass-grave near the village of Fakhikheh.

They added that corpses of 4 other civilians, including one child, killed in the US airstrikes, have been found from under the debris of a building in al-Haramiyeh and al-Badou districts in Raqqa.

After one year of occupation of Raqqa by the US and the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), the corpses of ISIL and US victims are everyday pulled out of the mass-graves and ruins.

In a relevant development late last month, tens of dead bodies of the victims of the US-led airstrikes and the ISIL's crimes were discovered from the debris of ruined buildings and mass graves in Raqqa, media sources said.

Media activists said the corpses of four civilians were retrieved from the debris of buildings ruined in US airstrikes last year in al-Sokna district of Raqqa city.

Moreover, four dead bodies of civilians were recovered from the buildings destroyed in US air assaults in al-Bayatareh in Raqqa city, the activists added.

They also said that the corpses of about 50 people, including women and children, were discovered from a mass grave in al-Fakhikheh South of Raqqa city.

Full report at:



More Civilians Killed in US Airstrikes on Deir Ezzur

Mar 18, 2019

The US-led coalition fighter jets conducted attacks on al-Baghouz Camp in Southeastern Deir Ezzur along the border with Iraq, killing over 10 women and children as well as injuring many others, local sources said.

The sources pointed to the large-scale damage caused on al-Baghouz region, and said that the death toll will probably increase as the condition of the injured is worsening.

The US-led coalition fighter jets had also pounded the besieged Al-Baghouz Foqani Town in Eastern Syria with phosphorus gas earlier this month.

Full report at:



Iraq sentences Belgian man to death for being part of ISIS

18 March 2019

Iraq sentenced a Belgian man to death by hanging on Monday for being part of ISIS extremist group, one of dozens of foreign nationals facing the death penalty in Iraq.

Bilal al-Marchohi, 23, was given the death penalty for conducting operations on behalf of the group.

During an hour of proceedings at Iraq’s Central Criminal Court, the judge read out portions of Marchohi’s signed confession and showed a video and photographs that he said proved his membership in the group.

The images from a phone found in his possession at the time of arrest showed Marchohi carrying a gun and making a hand gesture affiliated with the militants. Several pictures showed him cradling his infant son.

Marchohi repeatedly denied all allegations against him in open court, including that he was a member of ISIS in Iraq at any time.

“I shouldn’t be prosecuted in Iraq,” Marchohi said. “I should be prosecuted in Belgium, I am a Belgian citizen.”

During the proceedings, Judge Jumaa Saidi told the court that the photographs were clear evidence that Marchohi was a member of ISIS.

A translator was appointed by the judge for Marchohi, who spoke in English throughout the trial. He was also given a court appointed lawyer with whom he had no contact at all throughout the trial.

Belgian consular representatives attended the proceedings on Monday. The Belgian foreign ministry in Brussels said it was not immediately able to comment.

Marchohi is the second of two Belgians held in Iraq known to have been sentenced to death for a role in ISIS.

Tarek Jadaoun, 30, also known as Abu Hamza al-Beljiki, was sentenced to death in May 2018. A senior member of ISIS, Jadaoun featured prominently in the group’s propaganda videos which threatened attacks on European soil.

ISIS captured a third of Iraq in 2014 but was largely defeated both there and in neighboring Syria last year. A battle is ongoing to dislodge the militants from their final populated enclave in Syria near the Iraqi border.

Iraq is conducting the trials of hundreds of suspected members of ISIS, many of whom were arrested as the group’s strongholds crumbled throughout Iraq.

Full report at:





Kartarpur corridor: India starts work on integrated check post at Dera Baba Nanak

Mar 18, 2019


India on Monday started construction work on the integrated check post (ICP) at Dera Baba Nanak as part of the proposed corridor which will give access to Sikh pilgrims from the country to visit Gurdwara Darbar Sahib at Kartarpur in neighbouring Pakistan. A team of the Land Port Authority of India (LPAI) led by Attari integrated check post manager Sukhdev Singh and Dera Baba Nanak sub-divisional magistrate (SDM) Gursimran Singh Dhillon, who is also the competent authority to acquire farmland for the corridor, visited the site on Monday.

Sukhdev Singh said, “On Tuesday, technical teams from India and Pakistan will visit the zero line at the border to draft the modalities for the construction of the corridor. The ICP will have adequate immigration and customs clearance facilities to process the smooth movement of nearly 5,000 pilgrims per day.”

LPAI officials said the corridor ICP will have a unique design in line with other check posts in the country.

Earlier, the SDM held a meeting with local farmers whose land is to be acquired for the corridor and claimed they agreed in-principle for starting the work. “The ICP will be constructed on 50 acres and the work will be completed before the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak, the first Sikh master,” he said.

The SDM said, “Though their land has not been acquired yet, the farmers have voluntarily given the possession of their land to LPAI. I informed them about the land acquisition rates fixed by the government, to which they agreed.”

He said the government will give ₹25 lakh per acre compensation.

This comes three days after delegations from the two countries met at Attari in Amritsar to discuss the draft agreement for the corridor. As per some media reports, Pakistan has completed more than 40 per cent work on the corridor on its side.



Maldives highlights ‘India-first’ policy during Sushma Swaraj’s visit

Mar 18, 2019

The Maldives on Monday committed itself to being sensitive towards India’s “security and strategic concerns” as the two countries signed three agreements covering cooperation in areas such as community development projects and renewable energy.

Relations between the two sides have improved since last year’s elections in the Indian Ocean archipelago brought to power a coalition government led by President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih. Ties had dipped to an all-time low under Solih’s pro-China predecessor, Abdulla Yameen.

A joint statement issued at the end of external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj’s two-day visit to Male quoted her Maldivian counterpart Abdulla Shahid reiterating his government’s “India-first” policy. Shahid said his government will “remain sensitive towards India’s security and strategic concerns” and work closely with India on all issues.

People familiar with developments said India was unable to unveil any substantial new measures to assist the Maldives as the code of conduct had kicked in with the announcement of dates for the next general election.

The two sides signed an agreement on exemption from visas for holders of diplomatic and official passports, a memorandum of understanding on Indian grant aid for high-impact community development projects implemented through local bodies and a memorandum of understanding on collaboration in energy efficiency and renewable energy.

The Indian side agreed to consider a request for aid for building a cricket stadium. Shahid thanked India for financial assistance in the form of budgetary support, currency swap and concessional lines of credit. Swaraj announced India’s decision to renew the quota for essential commodities, as requested by the Maldives, for three years starting from April 1.

The foreign ministers agreed on the importance of peace and security in the Indian Ocean region and to strengthen coordination for regional maritime security. Shahid expressed his country’s commitment to support efforts to combat terrorism, particularly cross-border terror, and trans-national crimes.

Full report at:



India lodges strong protest with Pak over harassment of its officials in Islamabad

Mar 18, 2019

NEW DELHI: India has lodged a strong protest with Pakistan over several incidents of alleged harassment of Indian High Commission officials in Islamabad between March 8 and 11, and demanded an immediate investigation into them, official sources said on Monday.

The Indian high commission issued a "note verbale" to Pakistan foreign ministry on March 13, giving a detailed account of the incidents including tailing of India's deputy high commissioner, naval adviser and a first secretary on multiple occasions, they said.

Sources said the deputy high commissioner was aggressively tailed by Pakistani security personnel on March 9 and 10 while the first secretary faced similar harassment on March 8.

The naval adviser in the mission was subjected to aggressive tailing by Pakistani security personnel on March 8, 9, 10 and 11, they said.

One Pakistani agency personnel was observed keeping surveillance outside the residence of the Indian deputy high commissioner on March 9 and 10.

Sources said two Pakistani security agency personnel have been following the high commissioner on a daily basis.

In the note verbale, which is a diplomatic communication, the Indian High Commission has sought an urgent investigation into the incidents, saying such cases of harassment are violation of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations. India's strong protest over the incidents came in the midst of severe strain in bilateral ties between the two neighbours.

Tensions between India and Pakistan escalated after Indian Air Force fighter jets bombed terror group JeM training camp near Balakot deep inside Pakistan on February 26.

Pakistan retaliated by attempting to target Indian military installations the next day. However, the IAF thwarted their plans.

Full report at:



Civilian shot dead by militants in J-K’s Pulwama

Mar 18, 2019

A 25-year-old man was shot dead by militants Monday in Pulwama district of Jammu and Kashmir, a police official said.

They fired upon Mohsin Wani near his residence in Reshipora area of Tral in the south Kashmir district, he said.

Wani succumbed to injuries while he was being taken to a hospital, the official said.

Police have cordoned off the area and a hunt has been launched to nab the assailants, he said.



Mirwaiz skips NIA summon for second time, reiterates willingness to be quizzed in Srinagar

Mar 18, 2019

Mir Ehsan

For the second time this month Kashmiri separatist leader Mirwaiz Umar Farooq skipped a summon by the National Investigation Agency for questioning at its New Delhi headquarters on Monday in a terror funding case citing security reasons and insisted that he was willing to be quizzed in Srinagar.

The Mirwaiz who is also the chairman of moderate faction of the Hurriyat Conference was issued summons for the second time to appear before the NIA at its Delhi headquarters on Monday in connection with a 2017 terror funding case.

His counsel Ajaz Ahmad Dhar wrote to the NIA saying, “Your attention is invited to some of the distressing comments which have appeared in the mainstream print media since the news of his summons to New Delhi. There are open calls for his assassination. Having regard to the comments, merely stating in the notice that security will be provided appears to be perfunctory observation.”

“My client is willing and was always willing to be examined by the agency. It is once again urged that such examination and sitting be held at Srinagar. It will avoid all adverse consequences.”

An NIA spokesperson did not take calls when HT tried to contact him to seek the agency’s reaction.

The Mirwaiz had earlier skipped an appearance on March 11.

Dhar had then written to the NIA citing various reasons including security why the Mirwaiz could not appear at the NIA headquarters. He had said in the letter that the notice in appeared to have been issued on the basis of fallacious assumptions and misinformation solely aimed at maligning the Mirwaiz-i-Kashmir (Farooq), knowing his status and position.

Full report at:





Muslims in Germany anxious after New Zealand attacks

Ayhan Simsek 



Germany’s Muslim community voiced concern Monday over their safety due to growing Islamophobia and anti-Muslim violence.

“Since the attacks at two mosques in New Zealand, our community members are calling us to get information on the security situation in Germany,” Burhan Kesici, chairman of the Islamic Council for the Federal Republic of Germany, said in a statement.

“Many Muslims are anxious about the situation and they fear that something similar to these attacks in New Zealand might also happen here,” he said.

At least 50 people were killed in New Zealand last week when an anti-Muslim extremist opened fire on worshippers during Friday prayers at the Al Noor and Linwood mosques in the southern city of Christchurch.

Kesici said in recent years, incidents of verbal and physical attacks targeting Muslims have significantly increased in Germany, and the shocking massacre in Christchurch has led to increased fear and anxiety among their community.

He called on politicians to take a clear stance against the growing racism and Islamophobia in society and all necessary measures.

German police recorded 578 hate crimes against Muslims between January and September last year.

At least 40 Muslims were injured in the attacks, which were mostly carried out by far-right extremists.

Germany, a country of over 81 million people, has the second-largest Muslim population in Western Europe after France. Among the country’s nearly 4.7 million Muslims, 3 million are of Turkish origin.



Islamophobia is on rise in Spain: Report

Senhan Bolelli 


There is an increase in religious discrimination and hate crimes in Spain, according to a report issued by the country’s Interior Ministry.

“We have observed an increase, even though not at an alarming level, in Islamophobia and attacks against Muslims, and in religious hate in conversations on social media,” Miguel Angel Aguilar, a coordinator for services dealing with hate and discrimination crimes in Barcelona, told local media, while referring to a report issued by the Ministry of Interior.

The report said that there is a 120 percent increase in hate crimes in 2017 with a total of 103 incidents compared to the previous year in Spain.

Aguilar also said that 39 out of 41 cases related to religious hate crimes in 2017 were about Islamophobia.

According to the report, most of the religious hate crimes, which is mostly Islamophobic cases, were committed in Catalonia region, which hosts most of the total 2 million Muslim population in the country and has 317 mosques.

It said the rate of Islamophobic crimes and attacks alone in Catalonia increased 307 percent in 2017 compared to 2016.

The report also highlighted that most of the hateful remarks on religions are shared on the Internet.

Another report on Islamophobia in media, which is prepared with the initiatives of some foundations and universities in Spain and issued last week, said Islamophobia in the media is an “unquestionable reality.”

Stating that they started works on Islamophobic remarks in Spanish media in 2017, Pedro Rojo, president of Fanar Foundation, said: “Around 65 percent of all articles in newspapers in 2017 are Islamophobic.”

Rojo also said they could say “for the first time” that most of the Spanish media were Islamophobic.

Full report at:



Australia pledges $39m to improve security at religious sites

Naser Al Wasmi

March 18, 2019

Australia will spend millions of dollars on improving security at places of worship after the mass shooting at two mosques in New Zealand last week.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the $39 million (Dh143m) fund would go towards providing places of worship with "CCTV cameras, lighting, fencing, bollards, alarms, security systems and public address systems".

The suspect accused of killing 50 people at two mosques in Christchurch was from Australia.

Mr Morrison said the "community safety grants" will go to "religious schools, places of religious worship and religious assembly".

"I so wish we didn't need this on places of worship in Australia, whether they be at temples or schools or mosques or churches," said Mr Morrison. "It grieves me that this is necessary. But, sadly, it is."

Australia joins a number of non-Islamic countries that have ramped up or pledged to improve security at places of worship.

New York police increased security at mosques after the attack on Friday. This came as the UN Security Council, which is headquartered in the city, adopted a statement condemning the New Zealand attack that was proposed by the two Muslim council, Kuwait and Indonesia.

The statement called the attacks "heinous and cowardly" and said terrorism "constitutes one of the most serious threats to international peace and security".

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio has ordered police to step up security in the city’s mosques saying it was their job to “ensure that this community [Muslims] is respected, embraced and protected”.

Heavily armed guards were seen in mosques within metropolitan New York, accompanied by members of a special self-funded neighbourhood watch group, the Muslim Community Patrol.

Although the UK also heightened security measures after the Christchurch shootings, two men in their twenties were seen brandishing a hammer before attacking a man near a mosque in East London just hours after the attacks in Christchurch.

British Muslims called for more police protection at mosques after the incident, saying they feared more such attacks in the UK.

In France, the Ministry of Interior said it would be stepping up security patrol at places of worship.

Full report at:



Dutch police arrest suspect in Utrecht shooting

18 March 2019

Local police arrested a Turkish man suspected of shooting dead three people and wounding five on a tram in the Dutch city of Utrecht on Monday.

Authorities announced the suspect, 37-year-old Gokmen Tanis, had been taken into custody.

The city was put into lock-down after the shooting, shortly after the morning rush hour, which authorities initially said was an apparent terrorist attack. Police conducted raids in several locations.

But hours after the shooting, the gunman’s motive remained unclear. A prosecutor said it could be for “family reasons” and Turkey’s state-run Anadolu news agency, quoting relatives of the gunman, said he had fired at a relative on the tram and had then shot at others who tried to help her.

Helicopters hovered over the usually quiet town.

Authorities had raised the terrorism threat in Utrecht province to its highest level, schools were told to shut their doors, and paramilitary police increased security at airports, other vital infrastructure and mosques.

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte convened crisis talks immediately after the incident, which came three days after a lone gunman killed 50 people in mass shootings at two mosques in the city of Christchurch, New Zealand.

“Our country has today been shocked by an attack in Utrecht(...) A terrorist motive cannot be excluded,” Rutte said.

“The first reports have led to disbelief and disgust. Innocent people have been struck by violence(...) We are now doing everything we can to find the perpetrator or perpetrators as soon as possible. That is now our complete focus.”


Local broadcaster RTV Utrecht said earlier the suspect was known to police for both minor and major crimes, including a shooting in 2013.

The shooting took place in Kanaleneiland, a quiet residential district on the outskirts of Utrecht with a large immigrant population.

“It’s frightening that something like this can happen so close to home,” said Omar Rahhou, who said his parents lived on a street cordoned off by police. “These things normally happen far away, but this brings it very close, awful.”

Witness Daan Molenaar, who said he had been sitting at the front of the tram when the shooting started, told national broadcaster NOS he did not believe it was a terrorist attack.

“The first thing I thought was, this is some kind of revenge or something, or somebody who’s really mad and grabbed a pistol,” he said.

The streets of Utrecht were emptier than usual, and mosques in the city kept their doors closed on Monday. Police screened off the site where at least one body lay covered near the tram.

Dutch television showed counter-terrorism units surrounding a house in Utrecht and sniffer dogs being put to work.

Full report at:



Three dead in Dutch tram shooting, police say suspect is Turkish-born

18 March 2019

Three people were killed and five injured in a shooting in the Dutch city of Utrecht, the mayor said Monday, adding that authorities were working on the basis of it being a terrorist attack.

The suspect was identified as Gokmen Tanis, a 37-year-old Turkish-born man.

Local authorities said a square at a tram station outside the city center had been cordoned off as emergency services were at the scene.

“It is a shooting incident in a tram. Several trauma helicopters have been deployed to provide help,” Utrecht police stated on their twitter account.

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said that the government is holding crisis talks after the shooting.

The Dutch government raised the terrorism threat level to the highest possible in the province of Utrecht.

Security was increased at schools, mosques and transportation hubs after the shooting.

Suspect arrested

Dutch police arrested a man of Turkish origin for his suspected involvement in the tram shooting. “The chief suspect has been arrested,” the city of Utrecht said in a tweet.

The father of the suspect, Mehmet Tanis, stated earlier that his son should be punished if he’s to blame.

Full report at:



Teenager charged for live streaming NZ mosque shooting

18 March 2019

An 18-year-old man was denied bail at a court in New Zealand on Monday after he was charged with distributing a live stream of the mass shooting at a mosque last week, the New Zealand Herald reported.

The man was arrested on Friday, but police have since said they do not believe he was directly involved in the attacks at two mosques in Christchurch which happened on the same day, in which 50 worshipers were killed.

He faces charges of sharing the terrorist’s livestream and posting a photograph of one of the mosques attacked with the message “target acquired” along with other chat messages “inciting extreme violence”, the Herald reported.

His request for bail was refused but the judge granted him name suppression. He is due back in court next month.

Australian Brenton Tarrant, 28, a suspected white supremacist, was charged with murder for the mosque shootings. Tarrant was remanded without a plea and is due back in court on April 5 where police said he was likely to face more charges.

The teen was initially charged with publishing material insulting other races and ethnicities but that charge was withdrawn and replaced by the two new charges on Monday.

Police search homes

Meanwhile, Australian counter-terrorism police searched two homes early Monday linked to Tarrant, police said.

The homes were in the New South Wales towns of Sandy Beach and Lawrence, both near the town of Grafton where Brenton Tarrant, the alleged shooter, grew up.

“The primary aim of the activity is to formally obtain material that may assist New Zealand police in their ongoing investigation,” a police statement said.

They said Tarrant’s family “continues to assist police with their inquiries” but that there is no information to suggest “a current or impending threat” to the community.

Tarrant, a self-avowed white supremacist, spent his youth in Grafton but has traveled abroad extensively over the past decade and had lived in recent years in Dunedin, New Zealand.

He has been charged with murder in the country after the mass shooting on Friday which left 50 dead and 50 injured in two mosques in the city of Christchurch on.

Australian Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton said Monday that Tarrant had spent only 45 days in Australia over the past three years and was not on any terror watch lists.

He rejected as “disgraceful” criticism that Australia’s counter-terror agencies had neglected the threat of right-wing extremists like Tarrant due to their focus on combatting Islamist radicals.

He said the Australian Security Intelligence Organization (ASIO), the country’s main counter-terror agency, closely tracked the activities of far-right groups.

“These extremist groups -- neo-Nazis, or white supremacists, extreme right-wing groups -- whatever term you want to apply to them, they’ve been squarely on their radar,” he said in a televised interview.

“They are well and truly looking at this threat, they are dealing with the threat and to think that they’ve just discovered it or they are coming late to the party is complete rubbish,” he said.

Full report at:



NZ cabinet agrees on measures for tougher gun laws ‘in principle’

18 March 2019

New Zealand’s cabinet agreed on measures to tighten gun control laws “in principle” Monday, just days after a deadly mass shooting killed more than 50 people.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said details of the measures would be rolled out before a cabinet meeting next Monday, saying “the time to act is now.”

Ardern also announced an inquiry into Friday’s twin mosque attack in Christchurch, which raised questions about how the suspected terrorist -- a white supremacist -- was not picked up by intelligence agencies.

Although details have yet to be hashed out, the speed of New Zealand’s move has resonated around the world -- particularly in the United States, where reforms have spluttered for decades, and similar debates are re-run after each new mass shooting.

“Within 10 days of this horrific act of terrorism we will have announced reforms which will, I believe, make our community safer,” Ardern said at news conference after her cabinet reached in principle decisions on gun reform laws in the wake of New Zealand’s worst ever mass shooting.

In addition to the 50 killed, dozens were wounded at two mosques in the South Island city during Friday prayers.

Shooter bought weapons online

The owner of a New Zealand gun store where the man charged with murder in the mosque shootings had bought firearms and ammunition from online, said they did not sell him the high-powered weapon used in the massacre.

Gun City owner David Tipple said the alleged terrorist bought four weapons and ammunition between December 2017 and March 2018.

“The MSSA, military-style automatic, reportedly used by the alleged gunman was not purchased from Gun City. Gun City did not sell him an MSSA, only A-category firearms,” Tipple told a news conference in Christchurch.

Under New Zealand gun laws, A-category weapons can be semi-automatic but limited to seven shots. Video of a terrorist in one mosque showed a semi-automatic with a large magazine round.

Tipple said the online purchases followed a police-verified online mail-order process and A-category firearms were bought in three or four purchases.

“We detected nothing extraordinary about the license holder. He was a brand new purchaser, with a brand new license,” he said. The shock of the attacks has led to calls for an immediate tightening of laws to restrict access to some firearms, particularly semi-automatic weapons.

Tipple said he supported Ardern’s call for gun law reforms as the Christchurch shootings had raised legitimate concerns.

New Zealand, a country of only five million people, has an estimated 1.5 million firearms. The minimum age for a gun license is 16, and 18 to own a semi-automatic weapon.

A Radio New Zealand report, based on police data secured through an Official Information Act request, said more than 99 percent of people who applied for a firearms license in 2017 were successful.

A New Zealand standard A-category firearm license is issued after a police and background check. No license is required to buy a large round magazine, which can be illegally modified for use in such a weapon.

Only firearm owners are licensed, not weapons, so there is no monitoring of how many weapons a person may possess.

Full report at:



Rights activist gets 4-year sentence in Russia’s Chechnya

March 18, 2019

KURCHALOY, Russia: A court in Russia’s province of Chechnya on Monday sentenced a prominent rights activist to four years imprisonment on drug charges widely seen as an effort by authorities to stifle a critical voice.

The court in the Chechen town of Shali found Oyub Titiyev guilty of drug possession and sent him to a prison colony, which means he will be able to travel home to see his family two days a weeks. Titiyev has denied the charges, and his lawyers said they would appeal the verdict.

The 61-year-old rights activist, in a traditional Muslim skull cap, spent the entire day in a metal cage in court, sometimes reclining on the bars. The courthouse was packed with his relatives and neighbors, some of whom at times would doze off at the monotony of the judge’s reading which took more than eight hours.

Titiyev has been in custody since his arrest in January 2018 in what has been largely perceived as a vendetta against a rare critic of the Chechen government. As the head of the Chechen office of prominent rights group Memorial, he played a major role in exposing extrajudicial killings, kidnappings and torture perpetrated by security forces in Chechnya.

Chechnya’s regional leader Ramzan Kadyrov, who previously dismissed rights activists as liars and traitors, publicly called the 61-year-old Titiyev a “junkie.” Titiyev’s supporters said the case aimed not only to silence the activist, who is known as a devout Muslim, but also discredit him in the eyes of the community.

Council of Europe Human Rights Commissioner Dunja Mijatovic late on Monday said that the charges against him “lacked credibility” and called Titiyev’s conviction “the latest example of the hostile and dangerous environment” for rights activists in Chechnya.

Chechnya witnessed two devastating wars in the 1990s and early 2000s before a separatist leader switched sides to support the Russian government in return for almost full control over this region in the North Caucasus. Since his father’s assassination in 2004, Ramzan Kadyrov has ruled this predominantly Muslim area as a personal fiefdom, using generous Kremlin subsidies.

Titiyev’s case closely resembles criminal prosecution of a politician and a journalist in 2014 and 2016, respectively. Both men have been a thorn in the side of the Chechen government, and both men were charged with drug possession, which they say were planted on them.

The case against Titiyev was intended to “punish him for his rights activism and drive out Memorial, which is the last remaining rights organization present in Chechnya,” said Tanya Lokshina, associate director for Europe and Central Asia at Human Rights Watch.

Titiyev was arrested after a traffic patrol stopped his car and found what they said a suspicious bag in his car. The prosecutors later said it was marijuana.

Tests didn’t find any drugs in Titiyev’s blood and two dozen neighbors gave testimony in court to say that he wasn’t known for taking drugs — a bold act in Chechnya where people who come out even with mild criticism of authorities end up being harassed and intimidated.

Titiyev’s wife and three children fled Russia after he was jailed. His eldest daughter still lives in Chechnya.

The dusty streets of Titiyev’s home village of Kurchaloy, which is about 35 kilometers (22 miles) away from regional capital Grozny, were empty last weekend, except for a few boys riding bicycles past Titiyev’s family house.

Titiyev’s 72-year-old sister Zharadat Titiyeva charged that the authorities sought not only to silence him, but also smear his reputation as a devout Muslim who doesn’t drink or smoke, let alone take drugs.

“They decided to disgrace him in front of the people: ‘Look who your defender really is: he’s just a junkie,’” she said.

Titiyev’s trial could become a watershed moment for Chechnya where the crackdown on rights activists has been unrelenting.

The Chechen leader last year pledged unhindered access to hearings in the Titiyev case, but vowed to make Chechnya after the end of the trial a “no-go zone” for human rights activists whom he described as being no better than “terrorists and extremists.”

Titiyev took the lead of Memorial in Chechnya in 2010 after his boss Natalya Estemirova, a single mother of a teenage girl, was kidnapped and brutally murdered. Her death remains unsolved.

His sister recalls how proud the whole family was when he took up activism.

“But when Estemirova was killed we started getting worried,” she said. “We were saying: ‘You should quit this job.’ And he would say: ‘If I quit, who would be left then?’“

In his final statement in court last week, Titiyev recalled the release of villagers captured by federal forces during the second war in Chechnya as a turning moment in his life that kept him going all those years.

Full report at:



Sweden to grant direct refugee status to Uighur Turks

Atila Altuntas  



Sweden announced Monday that it will grant refugee status to Uighur Turks coming from China’s Xinjiang Autonomous Region as well as any other Muslim minority group members.

Posting the announcement on its webpage, the Swedish Migration Board said it will view asylum-seekers coming from the region as refugees.

It added that applications of those people would be accepted directly and they would not be deported.

Citing a UNHRC report which said over a million Uighur are being held in camps in China, the board also touched on a Human Rights Watch report decrying bans on practicing Islam in Xinjiang.

Ahmed Tursun, deputy head of the Sweden Uighur Maarif Foundation, told Anadolu Agency that they welcomed the decision and hoped it would set an example for other Western countries.

China’s Xinjiang region is home to around 10 million Uighur. The Turkic Muslim group, which makes up around 45 percent of Xinjiang’s population, has long accused China’s authorities of cultural, religious, and economic discrimination.

Up to 1 million people, or about 7 percent of the Muslim population in Xinjiang, have been incarcerated in an expanding network of “political re-education” camps, according to U.S. officials and UN experts.

In the report last September, Human Rights Watch accused the Chinese government of a “systematic campaign of human rights violations” against Uighur Muslims in Xinjiang.

Full report at:



Turkey blasts Europe's 'silence' on NZ terror attacks

Faruk Zorlu 


Turkey’s president on Monday blasted European countries for being silent in the face of last week's terror attacks on two mosques in New Zealand, killing or injuring some 100 people.

Europe is silent on this issue, and the Western media is insidious, said Recep Tayyip Erdogan, speaking in a televised interview.

At least 50 people were killed when a terrorist opened fire on worshippers during Friday prayers last week at the Al Noor and Linwood mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand.

About as many were injured, with several still in critical condition.

Turkish-EU ties

Commenting on Turkish-EU relations, Erdogan said the EU cannot halt Turkey's accession negotiations because they need Turkey.

Erdogan's remarks came after the European Parliament last week passed a non-binding report urging the suspension of Turkey's EU accession process.

Ankara slammed the report for bias, inaccuracy, and prejudice.

Turkey applied for EU membership in 1987 and accession talks began in 2005.

But negotiations stalled in 2007 due to the objections of the Greek Cypriot administration on the divided island of Cyprus as well as opposition from Germany and France.

Defeating terror corridor in northern Syria

Speaking on a potential terrorist corridor in northern Syria, Erdogan said if Turkey had not carried out operations in Afrin and Jarabulus, its southern borders would be occupied by PYD/YPG terrorists, referring to Turkey’s successful Operation Olive Branch in Syria.

Turkey launched Operation Olive Branch last January to remove PYD/PKK and Daesh terrorists from Afrin.

Full report at:



Germany weighs heightened security for mosques

Ayhan Simsek  



German government is weighing heightened security for mosques after New Zealand attacks, interior minister said on Monday.

“Religious sites can also become targets for terrorists. If there is any hint of danger, we will strengthen their protection,” Horst Seehofer said in an interview with Bild daily.

He said local authorities were in contact with religious communities for the protection of their places of worship.

“For the federal government, freedom of worship is a key concern,” he stressed.

“It is important to act decisively and use the full rigour of the law against Islamophobic crimes and attacks against mosques,” he added.

Full report at:



Southeast Asia


Home minister has no power to ban books on Islam, court told

Ho Kit Yen

March 19, 2019

KUALA LUMPUR: A Muslim group says the home minister has no powers to ban books on Islamic topics, as it seeks to challenge a ban imposed on three of its books by the government .

In its submission in the High Court today, Islamic Renaissance Front (IRF) said matters of Islam do not come under the federal government and as such Putrajaya does not have powers to regulate issues related to religion.

“Our Federal Constitution has said it clear that the power to legislate issues related to religion lies within the state,” said IRF counsel Khoo Guan Huat, in applying to the court to rule that the ban violated the constitution, as well as a declaration that Section 7 of the Printing Presses and Publications Act which gives the home minister absolute powers to ban publications he regards as prejudicial to public interest.

IRF’s three books were banned in 2017 by then home minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi. They include two books by Turkish author Mustafa Akyol – “Islam without Extremes: A Muslim Case for Liberty” and its Malay translation, “Islam Tanpa Keekstreman: Berhujah Untuk Kebebasan”, as well as a two-volume book under the “Wacana Pemikiran Reformis” edited by IRF director Dr Farouk Musa.

Khoo said the government cannot use Section 7 of the PPPA in cases that have to do with religion.

He cited the case involving the ban on the book “Kebebasan dan Cinta” by Irsha Manji published by ZI Publications, where he said the Selangor state government’s ban on the book was affirmed by the Federal Court because the state had powers to enact laws in controlling religious publications.

“They (government) should let the state take charge,” he added.

Another counsel for IRF Tunku Farik Ismail reminded the court that the banned books had been in circulation for five years.

He said despite this, the books did not cause public disorder or confusion, adding that it was enough to show that the minister was unreasonable in using his powers under the law.

Meanwhile, senior federal counsel for the former minister, Jamilah Jamil, said Zahid had exercised his powers reasonably under the law.

High Court judge Nordin Hassan fixed April 22 to deliver the court’s decision.

In his affidavit for a judicial review to lift the ban, Farouk said it was a breach of natural justice as it did not give IRF the right to be heard.

“The minister failed to explain how the said publications or contents promote liberalism, contain elements that insults Islam and deviates from the true teachings of Islam,” he said.



MPs hail New Zealanders, PM Ardern for show of love and strength in face of adversity

18 March 2019

By Yiswaree Palansamy

KUALA LUMPUR, March 18 ― Several Malaysian MPs heaped praise upon New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and her people for their show of solidarity in the aftermath of last Friday’s deadly attack on two mosques in Christchurch.

The MPs, who joined a debate on an emergency motion in the Dewan Rakyat to condemn the Christchurch mosque massacre, said Ardern’s swift action in tackling the incident and the support extended to victims and their families were commendable.

“As I had mentioned in my speech in the morning, in my motion, the role played by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern was not only stern, but showed a very caring personality towards the sufferings of the Muslim community in Christchurch,” Port Dickson MP Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim said in his speech.

Kepala Batas MP Datuk Seri Reezal Merican Naina Merican also shared Anwar’s sentiment.

“The honourable Speaker, I am of the same opinion with Port Dickson. We have to congratulate the leadership of Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, a woman who has been tested with such a great and heavy tragedy.

“Likewise the determination of the people and authorities, especially the people of New Zealand who rose to reject terrorism,” Reezal added.

Iskandar Puteri MP Lim Kit Siang also expressed his gratitude to the Muslim leaders in New Zealand, praising them for responding only with love.

“We must also express gratitude to the leaders of the Muslim communities in New Zealand, who responded to terrorism by sending messages of sympaty and love to all who extended help,” he said.

PAS’ Kuala Nerus MP Mohd Khairuddin Aman Razali praised the determination of the non-Muslims in New Zealand who stepped up efforts to protect the Muslim community.

“It has been witnessed now, when there was killing carried out onto Muslims who were praying, not only did the Muslims condemn the incident, but even the non-Muslims protected these Muslims by being willing to form a human chain to allow and grant them the right to perform their prayers,” Mohd Khairuddin said.

The Dewan Rakyat later observed a moment of silence for those who had perished in the deadly shootout.

The attack at the Linwood Mosque and Al-Noor Mosque killed 50 people and injured scores others, who were performing their Friday prayers.

Australian citizen Brenton Harrison Tarrant who has been identified as the alleged shooter has since been charged with murder.

Full report at:



Ban Aussie senator Fraser Anning from entering Malaysia, urges MP

Minderjeet Kaur

March 18, 2019

KUALA LUMPUR: Deputy Foreign Minister Marzuki Yahya today agreed with a call to ban Queensland senator Fraser Anning from entering Malaysia after blaming Muslims for the Christchurch massacre.

The call was made by Lim Lip Eng (PH-Kepong), who also asked Putrajaya to work along with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and Interpol to draw up a list of individuals identified as white supremacists.

Lim said such people should be banned from entering Malaysia.

Marzuki said he agreed with Lim and the matter should be studied by the home ministry.

“The matter comes under the home ministry. We hope such data compiled would also be channelled to the foreign ministry,” he said during a special motion to debate Friday’s shooting in New Zealand where 50 people were killed and dozens injured.

Eight MPs debated the issue, with all of them condemning the killings, calling it cruel.

They also praised New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Arden for taking swift action on the matter.

Another MP, Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar (GPS-Santubong), said certain countries are obsessed with Islamic names but said the incident showed terrorism has no race or religion.

“Profiling of suspects should not be based on Islamic names,” he said, calling on Malaysian authorities to monitor foreigners entering Malaysia as visitors to work here.

Rizal Merican (BN-Kepala Batas) praised the foreign ministry for taking immediate steps to locate the Malaysian families in Christchurch.

He criticised Anning for criticising Islam as it places a high priority on peace and harmony.

Reezal said in the case of Israel, he does not blame Judaism but condemns Zionists.

In Myanmar, he said he does not condemn the teachings of Buddha but the way the Rohingya are being treated.

Full report at:



Indonesian terror group leader Abu Umar jailed for 10 years over extremist teachings

March 19, 2019

The chief agitator behind last year's child suicide bombings in Indonesia's second-biggest city, Surabaya, has been sentenced to 10 years in prison.

Abu Umar, also known as Syamsul Arifin, was the East Java provincial leader of the terrorist group Jamaah Ansharud Daulah (JAD) and held regular motivational meetings attended by some of Indonesia's most extreme militants.

Prosecutors, who recommended a 15-year jail sentence, said the defendant was responsible for mass casualties through his teachings for JAD.

Among those he recruited was Dita Oepriarto, the mastermind of the Surabaya bombings, who led his wife and children — one of them just nine years old — to commit suicide attacks against churches during Sunday mass in May 2018.

The day after the church bombings, Tri Murtiono and his family, riding two motorbikes, bombed the Surabaya police headquarters.

Their youngest daughter, just eight years old, was the only member of the family to survive.

In all, 28 people were killed and around 50 were wounded.

During the trial, Abu Umar denied knowledge of the Surabaya plot, claiming Dita Oepriarto acted alone in the planning and execution of the attacks.

However, according to a report by the Institute for Policy Analysis of Conflict (IPAC), Umar was a keynote speaker at a number of meetings throughout 2017, where he urged his followers to prepare for "total war" by bombing churches and government offices, especially those of the police.

At one of the meetings in early January 2017, Abu Umar addressed local leaders of JAD, including both Dita Oepriarto and Tri Murtiono, along with their wives and children.

The court heard Umar's sermon praised martyrdom, encouraged obedience to the caliphate declared by the Islamic State group in Syria and Iraq, and urged his followers to prepare for attacks against Indonesian police and military targets.

He was also accused of planning an attack on police with a Beretta pistol, which he had kept buried in the backyard of an associate's home.

Prosecutors claim in March 2018, he took the gun to the city of Malang with two other members of JAD, but they cancelled the attack because the street was too crowded with traffic.

During the trial, Umar resigned from JAD, apparently to avoid responsibility for crimes committed by the banned group in the future.

Last June, the founder and spiritual leader of JAD, Aman Abdurrahman, was sentenced to death over his role in a string of deadly bombings.

Full report at:





Turkey, Iran carried out joint operation against Kurdish militants

March 18, 2019

ANKARA: Turkey and Iran carried out a joint operation against militants from the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) on Monday, Turkish Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu said according to state-owned media.

“We started carrying out an operation with Iran against the PKK on our eastern border this morning (and) will announce the result,” news agency Anadolu quoted Solyu as saying. State broadcaster TRT Haber also cited him commenting on the operation.

Turkey’s military regularly carries out air strikes against PKK militants in northern Iraq and has carried out operations to arrest alleged members of the group in Turkey. The PKK is deemed a terrorist group by Turkey, the United States and European Union.



Israel is depriving Palestinians of clean water: UN rights expert

18 March 2019

Israel is depriving millions of Palestinians of access to a regular supply of clean water while stripping their land of minerals “in an apparent act of pillage,” a United Nations human rights investigator said on Monday.

The UN special rapporteur on human rights in the Palestinian territories, Michael Lynk, said that Israel “continues full-steam with settlement expansion” in the West Bank, which the United Nations and many countries deem illegal. There are some 20-25,000 new settlers a year, he said.

He was addressing the UN Human Rights Council, whose debate Israel’s delegation boycotted due to what it considers a deep bias against it. “In his latest farcical report, Mr. Lynk stoops to a new low and (accuses) the Jewish State of stealing,” Israel’s mission in Geneva said in a statement to Reuters. It accused Lynk of being a “known Palestinian advocate.”

Israel’s main ally, the United States, quit the 47-member forum last year, also accusing it of an anti-Israel slant.

“In Gaza, the collapse of the coastal aquifer, the only natural source of drinking water in the Strip and now almost entirely unfit for human consumption, is contributing to a significant health crisis among the two million Palestinians living there,” Lynk said.

Despite the withdrawal of Israeli settlers and troops from Gaza in 2005, it has maintained a “hermetic seal of air, sea and land blockade” around the coastal enclave, he said.

An internationally-sponsored $567 million plan has been agreed to address Gaza’s acute shortage of clean water by constructing desalination plants, but analysts say its realization is years away.

“For nearly five million Palestinians living under occupation, the degradation of their water supply, the exploitation of their natural resources and the defacing of their environment are symptomatic of the lack of any meaningful control they have over their daily lives,” Lynk said.

In the West Bank, Israeli quarry companies extract some 17 million tons of stone each year, “notwithstanding strict prohibitions in international law against a military power economically exploiting an occupied territory”, Lynk said.

“The Dead Sea and its plentiful natural resources, part of which lies within the occupied Palestinian territory, is off-limits to any Palestinian development while Israeli companies are permitted to harvest the minerals in an apparent act of pillage,” he added.

Israeli authorities have said in the past that Palestinian quarries were ordered shut because they posed safety and environmental risks.

Palestinian Ambassador Ibrahim Khraishi called for Israel to halt what he said was theft of Palestinian property.

Full report at:



Iran denies Turkish statement on a joint raid against PKK militants

18 March 2019

Iran has denied the Turkish Interior Minister’s comments on Tehran and Ankara carrying out a joint operation against Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) militants.

Earlier in the day, state-run Anadolu news agency quoted Turkish Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu as saying that Turkey staged a joint operation with Iran against the PKK on the country’s eastern border.

Turkey has recently talked about a possible joint operation with neighbor Iran to counter outlawed militants from the PKK, but it appears that this is the first time Turkish authorities have confirmed a raid.

Soylu did not specify precisely which PKK bases the planned operation targeted, but Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has in the past said it would be against militant hideouts in Iraq.

The Turkish military has often bombed PKK bases in Iraq’s mountainous northern regions as part of its decades-long operations against the group.

Full report at:



Erdogan says anyone trying to attack Turkey will go back home ‘in caskets’

Mar 18, 2019

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says recent mass shooting of Muslims in New Zealand is part of a wider attack on Turkey, calling on Wellington to launch a serious investigation into the massacre and threatening to send back “in caskets” all those who try to take the battle to Istanbul.

On Friday, a gunman killed 50 people and wounded 50 others at two mosques in Christchurch, a city located on the east coast of New Zealand’s South Island.

The mass shooting is regarded as the deadliest ever attack in New Zealand.

The 28-year-old assailant, who is an Australian national identified as Brenton Tarrant, wrote a detailed manifesto, titled "The Great Replacement," in which he described the Turkish president as a “warlord” who is leading a country that is among “the oldest enemies of our people.”

“We are coming for Constantinople and we will destroy every mosque and every minaret in the city. The Hagia Sophia will be liberated from the minarets, and Constantinople will be rightfully Christian-owned once more,” his manifesto said.

He further issued threats against Turkey and Erdogan himself, calling for the drive of Turks from Turkey’s northwestern European region, where Istanbul is located, a Muslim-majority city and Turkey’s largest urban center.

On Monday, Erdogan addressed a rally in the northwestern province of Canakkale commemorating the 1915 Gallipoli campaign, when Ottoman soldiers defeated British-led forces including Australian and New Zealand troops trying to seize the peninsula, a gateway to Istanbul.

“We have been here for 1,000 years and will be here until the apocalypse, God willing,” he said.

“You will not turn Istanbul into Constantinople,” Erdogan added, referring to the city’s name under its Christian Byzantine rulers before it was conquered by Muslim Ottomans in 1453. “Your grandparents came here... and they returned in caskets,” Erdogan said, adding, “Have no doubt we will send you back like your grandfathers.”

The Turkish president also called on the New Zealand government to launch a thorough investigation into the tragic event and to take the issue seriously.

“We expect the New Zealand government to take this issue seriously. They should not take it lightly like Western countries do. I have shared this issue with New Zealand’s Governor-General Patsy Reddy. I have told her that we, as Turkey, which has suffered a lot from terrorist acts and have many fallen martyrs, could hold joint works with them,” Erdogan said.

Citing Turkey’s intelligence, Erdogan also said that the mass murderer had visited Turkey twice in 2016. 

Full report at:



North America


Trump complains he is being blamed for Christchurch attack

March 19, 2019

WASHINGTON: US President Donald Trump waded on Monday into the controversy over his response to the massacre of 50 people in two New Zealand mosques, complaining that he was being blamed for the tragedy.

“The Fake News Media is working overtime to blame me for the horrible attack in New Zealand,” Trump told his more than 59 million followers on Twitter.

“They will have to work very hard to prove that one,” he tweeted. “So Ridiculous!” Trump appeared to be referring to criticism of his response to the attack, which was allegedly carried out by a 28-year-old white supremacist claiming to be resisting genocide against white people.

In a lengthy written rant, the alleged killer referred to Trump as “a symbol of renewed white identity.” Trump did on several occasions tweet and speak to condemn the “horrible” attack and offer any US assistance to New Zealand’s authorities.

However, he courted controversy on Friday when he played down the wider implications of the gunman’s ideology, saying that violent white nationalism is not a growing problem. “It’s a small group of people,” he said.

Trump’s homeland security chief, Kirstjen Nielsen, gave a distinctly different emphasis on Monday in a speech where she said that “domestic terrorists,” like the New Zealand killer, increasingly resemble the better known threat from Islamist groups.

“The primary terrorist threat to the United States continues to be from Islamist militants and those they inspire, but we should not and cannot and must not ignore the real and serious danger posed by domestic terrorists,” she said.

“They are using the same do-it-yourself, mass murder tactics as we saw with the horrible assault last week in New Zealand against Muslim worshipers,” she said.

Trump’s dismissal of a broader security threat led to a flurry of criticism from Democrats and other critics over the weekend.

They pointed to his frequent labelling of illegal immigrants as invaders, his high-profile restrictions on immigration from several Muslim-majority countries, and a lukewarm condemnation of a neo-Nazi march in Charlottesville, Virginia, in 2017.

“Time and time again, this president has embraced and emboldened white supremacists — and instead of condemning racist terrorists, he covers for them. This isn’t normal or acceptable,” tweeted Kirsten Gillibrand, who formally entered the Democratic race for the White House on Sunday.

Acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney went on television to push back, saying “the president is not a white supremacist. I’m not sure how many times we have to say that.” “To simply ask the question every time something like this happens overseas, or even domestically, to say, ‘Oh, my goodness, it must somehow be the president’s fault,’ speaks to a politicisation of everything that I think is undermining sort of the institutions that we have in the country today,” he said on Fox television.



US Muslim group slams Israeli assault at al-Aqsa

Umar Farooq  



The assault on worshippers at the al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem last week by Israeli forces is yet another sobering reminder of ills afforded by Washington's unwavering support for Israel, a Muslim-American advocacy group said Monday.

Around 16 Palestinians were injured, according to Jerusalem’s Religious Endowments Authority, after Israeli police shut down the compound last Tuesday on claims of an arson attack on an Israeli police station nearby, triggering clashes with angry Palestinians.

Among the victims were three Americans, Safa Hawash, her sister Nour and their mother Germeen Abdelkareem.

“The brutality that happened to Germeen, Safa, and Noor has been done in our name as Americans,” Nihad Awad, executive director of the Council of American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), an advocacy and civil rights group, told reporters at a news conference.

The Israeli soldiers "feel aided, they feel shielded by this government,” Awad said referring to the U.S.

A video posted on Twitter by the Dar al-Hijrah Islamic Center, where Safa and Nour Hawash work, shows an Israeli police officer on top of Nour as the officer handcuffed her.

Safa Hawash said her sister was trying to show her U.S. passport, which the officer threw to the side and said "I don't care about your ID."

“The Dar al-Hijrah community holds our government responsible for making sure that American citizens are protected both at home and abroad,” Saif Rahman, Public and Government Affairs director at the Dar Al Hijrah Islamic Center said at a news conference. The sisters' mother was also physically assaulted by Israeli police, according to Hawash.

“This is only a fragment of what Palestinian people have to endure on a daily basis, fighting for the basic right of existence,” Hawash said.

“This incident before us is just another reminder of Israel’s disrespect to the United States and American citizens,” Osama Abuirshaid, National Policy Director for American Muslims for Palestine, said.

Safa Hawash said she notified her congressman, Gerry Connolly, of the incident, but has yet to hear from him.

Tensions have mounted in Jerusalem since last month, when Israeli police briefly sealed the al-Aqsa compound’s al-Rahma prayer area, sparking angry Palestinian demonstrations.

In the weeks since, the Israeli authorities have banned scores of Palestinians -- including religious officials -- from entering al-Aqsa, which for Muslims represents the world’s third holiest site.

Full report at:



Rouhani: Iran to take legal action against US over sanctions

Mar 18, 2019

President Hassan Rouhani says the government will sue US officials behind draconian sanctions on the country in Iranian courts before taking the case to international courts of justice.

In a speech broadcast live on Monday, Rouhani said he had ordered the ministries of foreign affairs and justice "to file a legal case in Iranian courts against those in America who designed and imposed sanctions on Iran."

"These sanctions amount to crime against humanity," he said, adding if an Iranian court finds against US officials, Iran will pursue the case in international courts of justice.

Iran's litigations against the US have already succeeded in international tribunals. In October, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) ordered the US to exempt exports of humanitarian and civil aviation supplies to Iran.

"We were able to win in both the International Court of Justice in the Hague and the European courts, which means that we were able to legally defeat America, and of course, this trend should continue," Rouhani said.

He said the enemies will never succeed in their attempts to weaken the Iranian nation despite having tried all in their power over the past 40 years.

The Iranian people, he said, has long resisted outside pressure and will keep up the fight until the enemy is defeated. 

“The enemy made some attempts but never achieved what it desired even though sometimes” the pressure was too much, the president said.

Referring to US President Donald Trump’s withdrawal from the 2015 nuclear agreement and his pledge to tighten economic pressure on Iran, Rouhani said the US was looking for a way back to Iran after the nation overthrew the Shah during the 1979 Revolution. “What the US did was based on the idea that they could return to Iran if they could keep the sanctions and increase the pressure,” he said.

Rouhani said Washington thought that abandoning the nuclear deal would prompt Iran to also abandon the agreement and that it could eventually have all UN sanctions removed under the deal, reinstated.

“We ruined their plan; they didn’t expect us to act like this,” he said.

The US, Rouhani said, expected Europe to follow its lead in quitting the nuclear deal but except for a few countries, the world stood in solidarity with Iran.

“Let the world know that what America has done is not against Iran or nuclear technology; rather, it is against the well-being, environment, food, medicine and the lives of the Iranian people,” he said.

Rouhani touched on some economic problems in the country, saying their root causes had been identified and the government was taking necessary measures to address them.

“The thieves ambushed us, our progress briefly slowed down and things became a bit difficult,” he said.

“A superpower like the US, the Zionist regime (of Israel) and the region’s reactionary (regimes) all joined forces to bring the Iranian nation to its knees and take their 40-year revenge” on Iran, he said.

As an example, the president noted, while there were still major sanctions against Iran, the country was able to launch new phases of South Pars gas field in the Persian Gulf.

On Sunday, Rouhani officially launched phases 13, 22, 23, and 24 of South Pars, the world's largest gas field.

"Today is a very auspicious day for the Iranian nation, which has dealt strong blows to enemies, because they thought that by imposing sanctions, they would be able to stop all our plans and advances,” Rouhani said in Kangan.

Minister of Petroleum Bijan Zangeneh said Iran, which shares the South gas field Pars with Qatar, expects to operate 27 phases by next March.

Full report at:



US, Iraq discuss next steps in Daesh fight

Michael Hernandez  



U.S. Vice President Mike Pence and Iraqi Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi on Monday discussed the next steps to be taken following the territorial defeat of the Daesh terrorist group.

Pence "welcomed news of Iraq’s recent economic and trade agreements with Jordan and the prime minister’s upcoming travel as major steps towards Iraq’s reintegration in the region after the territorial defeat of ISIS," Pence's office said in a statement, using another name for Daesh.

Pence and Abdul-Mahdi further discussed potentials to bolster the "strategic partnership" between their countries, including efforts to "professionalize" Iraqi security forces and develop the Iraqi economy, the statement added.

Daesh's territorial defeat has long been sought by the U.S.-led coalition, and the terrorist group is now fighting against U.S.-backed forces in its last remaining bastion in Baghouz, Syria.

Abdul-Mahdi further briefed Pence on efforts to "exhume the mass graves of ISIS’s genocide against Yazidis in Sinjar and the prime minister conveyed that he would personally investigate security and economic impediments noted by the vice president as preventing the return of many of Iraq’s religious components and other displaced persons," according to Pence's office.

Pence had worked to expedite U.S. aid for Iraq's Christian and Yazidi minority communities that were killed and enslaved by Daesh en masse when the territories under its control included much of Iraq as well as Syria.

Full report at:



UN: Israel violated human rights in Palestine


The Israeli Security Forces violated international human rights and humanitarian law in Palestine's occupied Gaza strip, the UN commission said on Monday.

"Some of those violations may constitute war crimes or crimes against humanity, and must be immediately investigated by Israel," Betty Kaari Murungi, Commissioner of Kenya said in a report published by the UN Independent Commission of Inquiry on the Protests in the Occupied Palestinian Territory.

Murungi stressed that Israeli soldiers killed and injured civilians during the Great March of Return protests, who were neither "participating directly in hostilities nor posing an imminent threat to the Israeli Security Forces, or to the civilian population in Israel."

The commission urged Israel to revise its rules of engagement before a large protest expected on the anniversary of the protests.

"We present this comprehensive report with an urgent plea to Israel to immediately ensure that the rules of engagement of their security forces are revised to comply with international legal standards," the Chair of the Commission of Argentina, Santiago Canton, told the Human Rights Council.

He added that the "excessive use of force" that took place on March 30, May 14 and October 12, 2018 "must not be repeated".

Recalling a senior Israeli official’s statement that "each and every bullet" fired by security forces during the protests had received authorization from an experienced commander he said the commission found that lethal force had been authorized, "in the majority of cases", unlawfully.

"This inevitably led to arbitrary deprivation of life," he said.

He underlined that Israeli security forces shot and wounded 6,016 protesters with live ammunition in 2018 alone, leaving 189 dead.

"The Commission found there was no justification for Israel’s security forces killing and injuring persons who pose no imminent threat of death or serious injury to those around them, including journalists, health workers and children," Canton added.

He underscored that Israeli security forces’ practices of shooting so-called "key inciters" or "key rioters" for actions such as burning tires, cutting or breaching through the separation fence between Israel and Gaza, or leading crowds towards the fence contributed to "unlawful actions".

Full report at:



South Asia


Bangladesh PM: Never Allow Anti-Liberation Forces To Be In Power Again

March 18th, 2019

She also said the government has already declared 2020-21 as the Mujib Year, and will celebrate the year in a befitting manner

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Monday urged the people of Bangladesh to remain vigilant, so that anti-liberation forces, killers, terrorists and militants can never assume state power again.

She made the call while addressing a discussion at Bangabandhu International Conference Centre (BICC), on the occasion of the 99th birth anniversary of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.

"In this Bangladesh, the people's rights will be upheld. Insha Allah, we will build a Golden Bangladesh that is free from hunger and poverty," the prime minister said.

She also said the government has already declared 2020-21 as the Mujib Year, and will celebrate the year in a befitting manner. "We have constituted a committee in this regard. Preparations will have to begin at all levels, including unions, to celebrate the Mujib Year."

The prime minister said Bangabandhu founded Bangladesh, setting up all basic structures required for its economy, culture, and politics.

She added that the birth of Bangabandhu was necessary for the emergence of an independent Bangladesh. "It is unsure whether the birth of Bangladesh would have been possible without the birth of the great leader.”

The prime minister said Bangabandhu had been preparing his people for independence since 1948, defying the pressure and intimidation of Pakistani rulers. “Bangabandhu was repeatedly put behind bars, but nothing could stop him from pursuing his goal.”

Sheikh Hasina also said the Father of the Nation took every step extremely carefully during his long struggle for independence, keenly aware that a wrong move could impede the people’s aspirations.

Awami League leaders Amir Hossain Amu, Tofail Ahmed, Matia Chowdhury, Mahbubul Alam Hanif, Jahangir Kabir Nanak, Ahmed Hossain, Advocate Qamrul Islam, Fazilatunnesa Indira, and Ajmat Ullah also spoke at the program, among others.

Prof Syed Anwar Hossain discussed various aspects of Bangabandhu's life.



Rohingya ‘lost generation’ struggles to study in Bangladesh camps

March 18, 2019

COX’S BAZAR, Bangladesh — Sixteen-year-old Kefayat Ullah walked to his school in southern Bangladesh in late January, as he had done most days for the previous six years, to find that – despite being one of the top students in his class – he had been expelled.

A government investigation had outed him, along with dozens of his classmates, as a Rohingya refugee, a member of the mostly stateless Muslim minority from neighboring Myanmar.

“Our headmaster called us into his office and told us that there’s an order that Rohingya students have no rights to study here anymore,” said the teenager, a small boy with cropped hair and a faint mustache. “We went back home crying.”

For years, Bangladeshi schools have quietly admitted some of the Rohingya who live as refugees in sprawling camps on the country’s southern coast, and whose numbers have swelled to more than 1 million since violence across the border in 2017. But the new influx has tested the hospitality of the Bangladeshi government, leading them to apply tighter controls on the population.

The recent expulsions highlight the struggle of hundreds of thousands of children desperate to study in the world’s largest refugee settlement, but at risk of missing out on crucial years of education and the chance to obtain formal qualifications.

More than 730,000 Rohingya fled Myanmar after a military campaign in late 2017 that the United Nations has said was executed with “genocidal intent”. Thousands more, like Kefayat, were born in Bangladesh after their parents fled earlier waves of violence. Though Myanmar says it is ready to welcome back the refugees, northern Rakhine state, from where they fled, is still riven by ethnic tensions and violence, and the U.N. has said conditions are not right for them to return.

Bangladesh’s Prime Minister, Sheikh Hasina, meanwhile, has said the country cannot afford to integrate them.

‘Hungry for education’

In some countries, governments allow refugees to study in local schools, allowing them to gain recognized qualifications, or permit institutions in the camps to teach the national curriculum. But Bangladesh has not recognized the vast majority of the Rohingya as refugees and does not issue birth certificates for those born in the camps, making their legal status unclear.

The government has also forbidden centers in the camps from teaching the Bangladesh curriculum, according to the U.N. children’s agency, UNICEF.

“Many students are depressed and frustrated,” said a 21-year-old who asked not to be named because he was continuing to pass as Bangladeshi so he could go to university.

“Yes, we are somehow pretending to be Bangladeshi students. Yes, we have got some education. But now, where will we go? The world should think about this: if we can’t study, our future will be damaged. We are hungry for education.”

In the headmaster’s office at Leda High School, piles of textbooks inscribed with the names of some of the 64 expelled students lay stacked in a corner.

Enlarge ImageBangladeshi students from the class where Rohingya students were expelled by the authorities are seen at Leda high school.

Bangladeshi students from the class where Rohingya students were expelled by the authorities are seen at Leda high school.Reuters

“We are very sorry and disappointed about the decision,” said the principal, Jamal Uddin. “The government is providing everything for the Rohingya – why not education?”

But others were relieved. Eighteen months on from the start of the crisis, and with no resolution in sight, some local people are losing patience.

In the grassy playground of the school, its founder, 48-year-old Kamal Uddin Ahmed, said the arrival of the Rohingya had been a massive upheaval for the local area.

“How do you think I feel?” he said. “We don’t mind the Rohingya, but we mind our lives.”

Intelligence officials who visited said it was “not safe for the country, not safe for our people” to have Rohingya in schools, he said.

Rohingya have been accused by some of bringing drugs and crime to Bangladesh.

‘Short term’

In a letter to local headmasters dated January, Bangladesh’s Refugee Relief and Repatriation Commission Chief Abul Kalam said that an intelligence report on the situation had been filed with the prime minister’s office in November.

“It has been seen the trend of Rohingya children’s participation in getting education has been increasing,” Kalam said in the letter, seen by Reuters, adding that some Rohingya had obtained fake Bangladeshi identity documents through “dishonest public representatives”.

“It is advised to monitor strictly so that no Rohingya children can take education outside the camps or elsewhere in Bangladesh,” he said.

Asked about his order to expel Rohingya children from local schools, Kalam said they were getting an education from learning centers in the camps.

“They are not allowed to enroll in Bangladeshi schools as they are not Bangladeshi citizens,” he said.

But many children and their parents say the hundreds of learning centers operated in the camps by international NGOs and the U.N. offer mostly unstructured learning and playtime.

Bob Rae, Canada’s Special Envoy to Myanmar, who has also traveled to Bangladesh, said Bangladesh authorities including Sheikh Hasina “have emphasized that the refugee camp is supposed to be ‘short term’ and that to talk about schooling beyond learning centers for very young children would risk giving the impression, to Myanmar and the world, that camps were there to stay”.

Secret studying

In the camps, many children study by themselves from tattered textbooks carried from Myanmar or purchased at local markets, where stalls ply a swift trade in copies of the Myanmar curriculum smuggled across the border. Recent fighting in the region has made imports tougher, one stall owner said.

“There are many Rohingya who can’t get the Myanmar curriculum – we are doing this so we can help them,” said 20-year-old Nurul Ansur, the Bangladeshi proprietor of a print shop which specializes in copies of the textbooks, pulling a copy of ‘Grade One Primer, Basic Education’ from a filing cabinet.

A makeshift school staffed with Rohingya volunteer teachers opened in February, though the headteacher said they had no official permission to operate.

Karen Reidy, a communications officer at UNICEF, which leads education programming in the camps, said efforts were under way to adapt other countries’ curriculums into a “learning framework” for refugee children.

“There’s a risk in the camps that we will see a lost generation of children if we don’t manage to catch them with education, with skills and training at this critical point in their lives,” she said.

At Nayapara camp, the expelled students recounted stories from years of illicit study at the Bangladeshi schools. Some of their classmates were cruel, said Kefayat Ullah.

“They used the word ‘Rohingya’, ‘Burma’ to tease us,” he said. “Nevertheless, we were happy. We need education.”

One 15-year-old, Mohammed Yunus, said he had worked in a brick-field to pay for classes that his parents could not afford.

“Bangladesh wants to see us a good community,” he said. “Also the U.N. wants to see us a good community, but if they block our education, how can we be?”

Kefayat Ullah had dreamed of graduating and becoming a journalist “to help our community”. Now, he watches his Bangladeshi former classmates travel to and from class in their crisp white shirts.

Full report at:



MoD confirms Taliban militants have captured 58 border security forces

18 Mar 2019

The Ministry of Defense of Afghanistan has confirmed that the Taliban militants have captured 58 border security forces in northwestern Badghis province.

According to a statement released by Ministry of Defense, all 58 border security forces soldiers who had crossed into Turkmenistan, have safely returned home.

The statement further added that the families of the soldiers who were forced to flee to Turkmenistan have also returned home.

At least 58 soldiers of border security forces are still in custody of Taliban militants, the Ministry of Defense said, adding that operations are underway for the release of detained soldier.

“All 58 border security soldiers (BSS) returned home from Turkmenistan. Afghan families, who were forced by Taliban to emigrate to Turkmenistan, returned home safe. Unfortunately, 58 BSS are captured by the enemies. Search Ops will continue until we release them,” the statement said.

Full report at:



35 Taliban militants killed, large weapons cache destroyed in Kunduz province

19 Mar 2019

At least 35 Taliban militants were killed and a large cache of weapons was destroyed during the operations of Afghan Special Forces and airstrikes in northern Kunduz province.

According to informed military sources, Afghan Special Forces conducted a raid in Chahar Darah district killing 27 Taliban fighters.

The sources further added that a large weapons cache, 38 pressure-plate IEDs and 40 pounds of homemade explosives were destroyed.

“Several self-defense air strikes in Chahar Darah district killed another 8 Taliban fighters,” the sources added.

The anti-government armed militants including Taliban have not commented regarding the operations so far.

Full report at:



28 Taliban militants killed in past 48 hours in Faryab: 209th Shaheen Corps

18 Mar 2019

At least 28 Taliban militants were killed during the airstrikes and clashes with the armed forces in the past 48 hours in northern Faryab province.

The 209th Shaheen Corps of the Afghan Military in the North in a statement said the airstrikes and clashes took place in Arkalik, Zohoria, Shakh, Ziarat Gah and Naw Dareh Qala areas of Qaisar district.

The statement further added that 28 Taliban militants were killed as a result of the clashes and airstrikes, 8 others were wounded, and 6 motorcycles were destroyed.

The statement also added that the security personnel also sustained casualties during the clashes but did not elaborate further regarding the exact number, adding that the numbers announced by Taliban are baseless.

The 209th Shaheen Corps also criticized the Provincial Council officials for endorsing the propagandas of Taliban group.

Full report at:



More than 40 Taliban militants killed, wounded in Special Forces operations, airstrikes

18 Mar 2019

More than 40 Taliban militants were killed or wounded during the operations of Afghan Special Forces and airstrikes which were conducted in various provinces of the country over the past 24 hours.

According to informed military sources, Afghan Special Forces conducted a clearance operation in Chahar Darah district of Kunduz province and destroyed 2 IEDs. The Special Forces killed 7 Taliban militants in a similar raid in Khugyani district of Nangarhar while an airstrike a barricaded shooter in Khugyani district resulted into the killing of a barricaded shooter.

The sources further added that Afghan Special Forces conducted a raid in Ab Band district of Ghazni province killing 4 Taliban fighters and seizing 32 ANA uniforms, 13 pressure plate IEDs and an assortment of weapons and ammunition.

In the meantime, 2 Taliban militants were killed in an airstrike in Khoshi district of Khost and 14 Taliban militants were killed, another militant was wounded during the Special Forces operation in Nad Ali district of Helmand. Over 2,000 pounds of ammonium nitrate and numerous IED components were also destroyed during the same operation.

At least 16 Taliban militants during separate airstrikes in Tarinkot city of Uruzgan and Kajai district of Helmand province, the sources said, adding that a separate air strike in Sangin district of Helmand destroyed a structure being used as a Taliban operations center.

Full report at:



Myanmar military court to probe violence against Rohingya

Mar 18, 2019

A military court in Myanmar will investigate the army's conduct during a crackdown on the persecuted Rohingya Muslims that forced thousands to flee to neighboring Bangladesh in August 2017.

The army said in a statement on Monday that the court, comprising a major general and two colonels, will investigate the events in Rakhine state.

"The information is released that the investigation court was formed ... to further scrutinize and confirm the respective incidents," said the statement, which was posted on the website of Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, the army's commander-in-chief.

The court will respond to allegations made by the United Nations and human rights groups accusing security forces of mass killings, rape and arson.

Last year, a UN fact-finding mission said the campaign against the Rohingya was orchestrated with "genocidal intent." It urged charging the army chief and five other generals with the "gravest crimes under international law."

A previous military investigation in 2017 had exonerated the security forces of any crimes.

Nicholas Bequelin, Southeast Asia and Pacific Director of Amnesty International, said the new court is "another bad faith maneuver" to fend off international pressure.

"The military stands accused of the gravest crimes under international law and has shown no sign of reform," he said.

Myanmar is facing growing international calls for accountability over the Rakhine massacre.

The International Criminal Court (ICC) has opened a preliminary examination into the violence. A commission of inquiry formed by Myanmar and including some current and former diplomats to the UN is due to publish its findings later this year.

About 740,000 Rohingya Muslims are living in camps in Bangladesh after they were driven out of Rakhine during the deadly campaign in 2017, which the United Nations has described as ethnic cleansing.

Rakhine has been the scene of communal violence since 2012. Many Muslims have been killed while tens of thousands have been forced to flee as a result of attacks by Buddhists. The refugees largely live in camps in dire conditions.

Full report at:



China terms 2008 Mumbai attacks as one of ‘the most notorious terrorist attacks’

Mar 19, 2019

In a rare acknowledgment, China on Monday described the 2008 Mumbai attacks carried out by Pakistan-based LeT terror outfit as one of “the most notorious terrorist attacks”.

In a white paper on its massive crackdown against militants in the restive Xianjiang province, China said the global spread of terrorism and extremism over the years had inflicted agony on humanity.

The paper described the Mumbai terror attacks as one of “the most notorious terrorist attacks”, adding that the “global spread of terrorism and extremism over the years has inflicted agony on humanity”.

The release of the paper titled “The Fight Against Terrorism and Extremism and Human Rights Protection in Xinjiang”, interestingly coincided with Pakistan Foreign Minister’s Shah Mehmood Qureshi’s visit to China.

Throughout the world, terrorism and extremism gravely threaten peace and development, and endanger the life and property of individuals, said the white paper released by China’s State Council Information Office.

The paper came days after China for the fourth time blocked a bid in the United Nations Security Council on Wednesday to designate Pakistan-based chief of Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) terror group Masood Azhar as a “global terrorist” by putting a technical hold on the proposal, a move India termed as disappointing.

The JeM has claimed responsibility for the February 14 Pulwama attack that left 40 CRPF personnel dead and escalated tensions between India and Pakistan.

“Striking aggressively at terrorism and furthering the de-radicalisation effort is the common responsibility of the international community and essential to the protection of human rights,” it said.

China opposes all forms of terrorism and extremism, and opposes double standards on fighting terrorism, said the white paper, adding that Beijing opposes linking terrorism and extremism with specific countries, ethnic groups or religions.

China advocates comprehensive measures to address both the symptoms and the root causes, with the dual purposes of striking at terrorist activities and eliminating poverty, so that there will be no room for terrorism to breed, it said.

In one of the most horrific terrorist attacks in the country’s history, 166 people, including Americans, were killed and over 300 injured as 10 heavily-armed terrorists from Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) created mayhem in Mumbai on November 26, 2008.

Nine of the attackers were killed by police while lone survivor Ajmal Kasab was captured and hanged after handed down death sentence by an Indian court.

Full report at:





Siraj asks Muslim Ummah to work out strategy for security

March 19, 2019

ISLAMABAD: Ameer, Jamaat e Islami (JI) Senator Sirajul Haq, currently in Saudi Arabia, has said that the blood of the Muslims was being spilled all over the world and the Muslim Ummah would have to work out a strategy to protect the oppressed Muslims.

He was speaking at a reception hosted in his honour by the Pakistani community in Riyadh, says a message received here.

Sirajul Haq said the Muslims were massacred in Kashmir, Palestine, Iraq, Iraq, Afghanistan and Burma but the world colonialism did not make any effort to check the hatred towards Islam and the Muslims. On the other hand, he said, the western politicians and the western media were deliberately fanning bias towards Islam.

He said that mass killings in two New Zealand mosques were not the first incident of terrorism against Muslims as numerous such incidents had occurred in European and western countries. The targeting of Muslims, mosques and madrissahs and the women wearing veil had been a routine and the scarf wearing school girls were being insulted and forced to leave their institutions.

Sirajul Haq welcomed Turkey move for an emergent meeting of the Muslim countries Foreign Ministers and termed it a timely step to unite the Muslim world on the issue.

He told the Pakistanis in the holy land that they were Allah’s guests in this country and unofficial ambassadors of Pakistan. "Therefore, they should try to raise Pakistan’s image through their conduct and dealings and take lead in serving the pilgrims from all over the world considering it a great honour," he said.



Talks with locals for Rs100bn Fata uplift plan soon

Syed Irfan Raza

March 19, 2019

ISLAMABAD: The federal government is all set to initiate a three-week consultative process to discuss with residents of erstwhile Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata) a 10-year plan under which Rs100 billion will be spent on development of tribal districts every year.

Prime Minister Imran Khan on Monday said the consultative process would be initiated from Bajaur, where he had addressed a public meeting last week. “Our people in the tribal area will see unprecedented development, as government plans to spend over Rs100 billion annually for 10 years in tribal districts,” Mr Khan said.

He added, “[We are] living up to our commitment. A three-week consultative process on 10-year development plan for Fata is being initiated, starting from Bajaur.”

All the seven strife-torn agencies of Fata had been merged with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa last year.

Talking to Dawn, special assistant to the prime minister on media Iftikhar Durrani said the government had planned to spend Rs1 trillion over the next 10 years on Fata. He said development work had already been initiated in the health, education, infrastructure, communication, law and order, security and tourism sectors.

He said the main idea behind the planned consultation was to keep the locals on board so that development activities in their areas could be carried out according to their “need and desire”.

Under the consultative process, meetings would be held with local jirgas in which representatives of KP government would also be involved, he explained.

He said the PM was quite concerned about Fata’s mainstreaming, as this was the top priority of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf government. He said the prime minister himself monitored the area’s development programme on a regular basis.

About some ongoing projects in the region, Mr Durrani said police were replacing the Levies force to take responsibility of Fata after its merger with KP. “Police stations are being built and jobs being given to locals in police,” he said, adding that courts were also being established in the areas.

Similarly, he said, buildings for schools were under construction while hospitals were being established in rented buildings in Fata.

Mr Durrani said mobile phone service was made available in South Waziristan after which it would be provided in Bajaur.

He said the prime minister also vowed to streamline and improve the Afghan transit trade route in Fata for which necessary work would be completed in the area.

Mr Khan has recently been briefed about the administrative and security issues related to the merger. He was quoted as saying that indiscriminate and fair distribution of funds must be ensured in Fata.

During his last week visit to Bajaur, the PM had expressed his desire to extend tourism facilities in Fata so that local and foreign tourists could see beauty of the tribal region. He had also given directives to the KP government in this regard.

Following Fata’s merger with the KP, seven (tribal) agencies have been given the status of districts with political and assistant political agents having been designated as deputy and assistant commissioners, respectively.

The jurisdiction of the Supreme Court of Pakistan and Peshawar High Court (PHC) has already been extended to the tribal region. The PHC has started setting up district and sessions courts in each of the new districts, and the process is expected to be completed in two to four months.

The application of Fata-Interim Governance Regulations 2018 will temporarily continue to operate in place of the centuries-old Frontier Crimes Regulations (FCR).

Full report at:



I am a proud Muslim from Pakistan, but I will be a Kiwi forever

By Mahvash Ali

March 19, 2019

OPINION: When a child passes away, he waits outside the gates of heaven and does not enter until God allows his parents in, too - that's what Muslims believe anyway. 

I hope three-year-old Mucad Ibrahim is there right now with four-year-old Abdullahi Dirie.

I pray my 65-year-old sister in Islam Linda Armstrong is there. 

I hope that's where all Christchurch victims are right now - anywhere but here.  They are in a much better place, because this one feels like hell. 

The first time I went to Christchurch was for a holiday and I was grinning ear-to-ear, yesterday tears rolled down my cheeks as the plane took off.

The day was as grim as the mood of the city.

I saw the two mosques. I broke down on the side of the road when I saw the smashed front window of Linwood mosque. Deans Ave was a scene that left me speechless.

I met a woman who said murdered Fijian imam Musa Patel was her marriage celebrant, another told me the senior citizen walked to the mosque every day. 

A mother looked intently at the mosque as she said one of the men who died inside was the son of a couple who ran her daughter's childcare centre.

"He hasn't made us weaker, "she said.

So here's the upshot, and it gives me much satisfaction to tell you, dear terrorist, you have failed.

Deans Ave was a sea of white European faces, grieving with the Muslims.

The Maori haka that reverberated through Hagley Park was deafening.

You watch on Friday, dear terrorist, Muslims will come out to pray - they will come in their thousands. And there will be those who will stand beside us to protect us. They will stand between your grotesque ideology and the worshipers.

When those caskets are lifted, watch as everyone takes a turn to give them a shoulder. 

There are women who will don the Hijab in solidarity with their Muslim sisters this week. We will all look the same, because we are all the same.

So you may have created hell for now, but watch as New Zealand responds. You shall go down in history as an animal.

Full report at:



FM arrives in Beijing for first Sino-Pak strategic dialogue

Iftikhar A. Khan

March 19, 2019

ISLAMABAD: Foreign Minis­ter Shah Mehmood Qureshi reached Beijing on Monday on a three-day visit to attend the first Pakistan-China Foreign Ministers’ strategic dialogue.

During Mr Qureshi’s visit, both sides will hold comprehensive discussions on a range of bilateral relations, including the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). Both sides will also discuss the regional situation and cooperation at multilateral fora. The foreign minister is to address the Political Parties’ Forum on CPEC and participate in the ruling party’s dialogue between the PTI and the Communist Party of China (CPC). He will also call on top Chinese leadership.

Mr Qureshi was received at Beijing airport by the Chinese ambassador to Pakistan, Yao Jing, Pakistan’s ambassador to China Masood Khalid, and senior officials of the embassy.

Later, while addressing Chinese scholars, Mr Qureshi said that the strong friendship between Pakistan and China was based on strategic cooperation, adding that the start of the second CPEC phase will usher a new era of socio-economic development in this country. Stating that Pakistan wants peace in the region and good relations with all its neighbours in South Asia, including India, he reiterated that Islamabad wants to resolve issues with Delhi through dialogue.

Meanwhile, a PPP delegation led by the parliamentary leader of the party in the Senate, Sherry Rehman, has also reached Beijing to support the consultation over CPEC. The delegation held a meeting with Guo Yezhou, vice-minister of the International Department of the CPC (IDCPC) central committee at the IDCPC on Monday. Mr Guo welcomed the delegation and stated that “the PPP has been an important force in Pakistan’s politics. Since it was launched by Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, the party has made a great contribution to the development of China-Pakistan friendship at different historical stages. The CPC is confident that in the new era, a friendship of two parties will further enhance and strengthen”.

Ms Rehman thanked Mr Guo for organising the multi-party constitution and said, “We are very appreciative of the CPC’s efforts and outreach to the people of Pakistan, and are in the frontlines for creating and collaborating in the great CPEC venture that is President Xi Jinping’s dream. President Zardari’s vision to give Gwadar port to China led to momentum on building a collaborative platform like CPEC. I also bring warm wishes from PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari, son of Shaheed Benazir Bhutto, who as you all know curated this relationship as a pillar of policy. For the PPP and Pakistan, a strong relationship with the CPC and the Peoples’ Republic of China is the cornerstone of our policy. […] We recognise that China has been our iron brother through good and bad times. We have important lessons to learn from all that China has done in last three decades. It has, for instance, taken 700 million people out of poverty and we would like to achieve similar goals. The PPP has always attempted to build consensus on national goals and we are committed to transforming Pakistan’s growth and job trajectory. For that purpose, we stand strongly behind CPEC.

“Eight per cent of our GDP can grow if we are able to consolidate gains from this opportunity. We are looking forward to building consensus and infrastructure that will enable investors and bring some green energy initiatives of the Chinese government to Pakistan.”

Ms Rehman added that “We would like to see three important aspects in CPEC, firstly; job creation for locals with skill training, secondly, sharing best practices on the greening of our technology and energy projects, and thirdly, we would like assistance in agriculture growth, energy, infrastructure, the digital economy and generating momentum on job-creation. […] We look forward to an endeavouring and stable relationship and seek to enhance Pakistan-China ties as well as the PPP-CPC bilateral relationship. We clearly understand the obvious benefits and massive opportunities that CPEC represents for the people of Pakistan.”

Full report at:



Police van targeted with IED in DI Khan, three injured

March 19, 2019

PESHAWAR: At least three people, including two policemen, were injured in an improvised explosive device (IED) explosion near a police vehicle in Dera Ismail Khan’s Parowa tehsil on Monday.

The police van was on a routine patrol in Parowa area, which borders Dera Ghazi Khan, when the bomb planted on a bicycle went off, DI Khan District Police Office Saleem Riaz said.

As a result of the blast, two police officials, including a sub-inspector and a passer-by sustained injuries. The police official said that 8 kilogrammes of explosives had been used in the IED that targeted the police vehicle.



Pakistan’s National Day: Chinese fighter jets to participate in Parade

MARCH 18, 2019

BEIJING: The J-10 fighter jets of the People’s Liberation Army Air Force’s Bayi Aerobatic Team arrived in Pakistan in preparation for a flight performance there on March 23 in celebration of Pakistan’s National Day.

The Chinese pilots, invited by the Pakistani side, received a warm welcome upon arrival as local children greeted them with bouquets, China Central Television reported.

Hu Zhiyong, a research fellow at the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences’ Institute of International Relations, told the Chinese media that China sending fighter jets to celebrate Pakistan Day is symbolic of the friendship between China and Pakistan, noting that Pakistan is an all-weather friend of China.

This is not the first time the Bayi Aerobatic Team performed in Pakistan.

On November 19 2017, the team staged a “wonderful” aerobatic flight with J-10 fighter jets in Quetta, the capital city of Pakistan’s Baluchistan province, according to China Military Online.

In addition to the J-10’s flight performance, Chinese analysts expect more Chinese elements at Pakistan Day parade as the country operates a variety of Chinese weapons.

The Pakistan Air Force’s main fighter jet, the JF-17, is a product of Chinese-Pakistani joint development, China Military Online reported.

The Pakistan Air Force also operates the ZDK-03 early warning aircraft, which is developed by China and is reportedly capable of aerial detection and sharing real time battlefield information.

The MBT-2000 main battle tank developed by China North Industries Corporation (Norinco) is designated the Al-Khalid in the Pakistan Army, the report said.

Pakistan also operates the likes of China’s HJ-8 anti-tank missile and FM-90 air defense missile, according to China Military Online. Hu noted that China has contributed to Pakistan’s military development, as China has been helping the country with its national defense industry for decades.

China is likely to have more joint development projects and arms sales to Pakistan in the future, analysts said.

A third and more advanced batch of the JF-17 fighter jet, the JF-17 Block 3, is currently under development and production, China Aviation News reported on March 8. Meanwhile, a Chinese military aerobatics team arrived in Pakistan for a scheduled performance on March 23.

Full report at:





Jordanian MPs call for expulsion of Israeli envoy over al-Aqsa dispute

18 March 2019

Jordanian lawmakers on Monday sought to expel the Israeli ambassador from the kingdom in response to “ongoing Israeli aggression” at holy sites in Jerusalem.

Amman is the official custodian of Jerusalem’s holy Muslim sites. The parliamentary session followed an Israeli court ruling on the al-Aqsa mosque compound.

“The parliament recommended the government recall the Jordanian ambassador from Israel and expel the Israeli ambassador from Amman to confront the ongoing Israeli aggression at holy sites in occupied Jerusalem,” reported the official Petra news agency.

Lawmakers also called on the government to address the UN Security Council about “stopping Israeli violations and protecting the Palestinian people.”

Jordan is the only Arab country apart from Egypt to have a peace deal with Israel. But the treaty is overwhelmingly opposed by Jordanians, more than half of whom are of Palestinian origin.

On Sunday, an Israeli court ordered the temporary closure of a side building known as the Golden Gate at the al-Aqsa mosque compound, known to Jews as the Temple Mount.

Jordan condemned the court ruling, with its foreign ministry saying that Israel would bear “full responsibility for the dangerous consequences” of the decision.

There have in recent weeks been scuffles between Palestinian worshippers and Israeli police at the site over the use of the side building.

Palestinian worshippers have been entering the site and praying there despite an Israeli order that it should stay closed.

Israel shut access to the site known as Bab al-Rahma (Gate of Mercy or Golden Gate) at the al-Aqsa mosque compound in 2003 during the second Palestinian intifada over alleged militant activity there.

Palestinian officials argue that the organization that prompted the ban no longer exists and there is no reason for it to remain closed.

Al-Aqsa is located in east Jerusalem, occupied by Israel in the 1967 Six-Day War and later annexed in a move never recognized by the international community.

Israel sees the entire city as its capital, while the Palestinians view the eastern sector - where key holy sites for Christians, Muslims and Jews are located - as the capital of their future state.



Somalia: Locals Gang-Up Against Al-Shabaab, Kill 4 Militants

18 MARCH 2019

A picture of Al-Shabab flag. Four militants were killed by villagers over the weekend

At least 4 members of the Al-Sbabab terror group were rounded up and killed by villagers in Wanlawyen, North of Mogadishu over the weekend.

Self-organised locals infuriated with Al-Shabaab continuous extortion killed four militants including a senior leader who was in-charge of Zakawat in Wanlaweyn town of Somalia.

Wanlaweyn is a small town in the coastal southeastern Lower Shebelle region of Somalia. Situated around 50 miles northwest of the capital Mogadishu.

The fighting which initially broke out late Friday entered its second day on Saturday.

According to Omar Sheikh Mohamed, the head of the self-organised group, they killed four Al-Shabaab fighters including a senior Zakawat and operations officers.

Full report at:



Brother-in-law of Tunisia’s Ben Ali arrested, France confirms

19 March 2019

France said Monday it had arrested and detained Belhassen Trabelsi, the brother-in-law of ousted Tunisian leader El-Abidine Ben Ali, who had been on the run for three years after fleeing Canada.

Prosecutor Xavier Tarabeux in the southern city of Marseille said Trabelsi had been charged with “aggravated fraud and money laundering in an organized gang.”

Officials gave no other details of his arrest.

Tunisia said Sunday it was seeking Trabelsi’s extradition to face charges of fraud.

A Tunisian justice ministry statement said he faced 17 arrest warrants in Tunisia and 43 international warrants.

The millionaire businessman and brother of Ben Ali’s wife Leila Trabelsi left Tunisia in January 2011 when the Arab Spring uprising forced the veteran leader to flee to Saudi Arabia.

Trabelsi and his family flew in a private jet to Montreal where he requested political asylum but Canada turned down his appeal in 2015 , and a year later as it prepared to deport him he vanished.

A leaked June 2008 US diplomatic cable concluded that Trabelsi was “the most notorious (Ben Ali) family member and is rumored to have been involved in a wide range of corrupt schemes”.

Full report at:



Fourth month of protests in Sudan, demonstrations go on

Mar 18, 2019

Crowds of anti-government demonstrators in Sudan have taken to the streets of the capital Khartoum, chanting “freedom, peace, justice”, three months after unprecedented protests erupted in the country against President Omar al-Bashir over economic woes.

Protesters on Monday marched through the northern suburb of Bahari, in an area called Street 60, where they confronted with riot police who hurled tear gas canisters to disperse the rally.

“Who killed our martyrs?” asked protesters as they convened in Street 60 area.

Elsewhere in the capital, dozens of students also protested in a college located in another upmarket district.

The East African country has been struggling with persisting protests since December 17, when an anti-government campaign erupted over price hikes and shortages of food and fuel.

The demonstrations first held in the farming town of Atbara after cash-strapped Khartoum cut a vital subsidy on bread and tripled its prices. The move infuriated people and triggered protests, which swiftly mushroomed into nationwide anti-government rallies, particularly in the capital and its twin city of Omdurman.

That initial public display of anger quickly spiraled into calls for 75-years-old Bashir, who took power in 1989 through a military coup, to step down.

In an attempt to further quell the rallies, the president on February 22, the embattled president declared a state of emergency across the African country, dissolved the central government, replaced state governors with security officials, boosted police powers and prohibited unauthorized public demonstrations.

The slew of measures has not completely halted the rallies buy the scale and intensity of them. However, it has shrunk in recent weeks, particularly since the state of emergency came into effect.

The Sudanese president is wanted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) over his alleged role in genocide in the Darfur region, which he strongly denies. He has also been lobbying for his country to be removed from a list of the countries the US considers state sponsors of terrorism.

Sudan’s National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS) has purportedly been carrying out a crackdown on protesters, opposition leaders, activists, and reporters in an attempt to prevent the spread of the rallies, which are viewed as the biggest threat to Bashir’s decades-long rule.

Official figures say 31 people, including some security agents, have lost their lives since the onset of the rallies. Some rights groups, including Human Rights Watch, say at least 51 people have died so far.

Bashir has remained defiant, addressing loyalists at a number of rallies across the country and seeking support from regional allies.

Sudan has been suffering from a worsening economic crisis, including a serious shortage of foreign currency.

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