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Islamic World News ( 8 Apr 2018, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Islamic Scholars Warn Against ‘Interference’, Favour Internal Reform

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

PAT GREENHOUSE/GLOBE STAFF

Imam Yasir Fahmy (top centre) led the Asr Prayer (third prayer) in the Musallah (prayer space).

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Islamic Scholars Warn Against ‘Interference’, Favour Internal Reform

Pakistan Plans Permanent Ban On JuD, Other Terror Groups

UN Wants Consensual Sex Decriminalised In Pakistan

Muslims Teach Neighbours about Their Religion during Open Mosque Day

Muslim World League Chief Calls for Rejection of All Forms of Extremism

 

India

Islamic Scholars Warn Against ‘Interference’, Favour Internal Reform

The Refrain in Samastipur: Outsiders Were Responsible, Will Be Wary Now

Maulana Wali Rahmani Makes a U-Turn on ‘Triple Talaq Bill’, Calls off Agitations

NIA brands Pakistani diplomat 'wanted,' to seek Interpol RCN

Refer Babri Masjid issue to statute Bench, says counsel

Two Rohingya Muslim men arrested in Manipur on trafficking charges

Trying to Restore SC/ST Reservation in Jamia, Aligarh Muslim University: Union Minister Gehlot

Rohingya crisis: Supreme Court to hold final hearing on deportation of refugees today

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Pakistan

Pakistan Plans Permanent Ban On JuD, Other Terror Groups

UIPM to Take Religious Scholars, Human Rights Activists Along

I fear Allah, others fear NAB: Siraj

Pakistani Christians Fearful After IS Attack on Community

CTD nabs 4 LeJ militants in Karachi for terror financing

Naqeebullah’s father demands arrest of Rao Anwar’s associates

Taliban won’t accept Pakistan’s ‘pressure’, says former Afghan envoy

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Europe

UN Wants Consensual Sex Decriminalised In Pakistan

Turks in Europe Introduce Islam at 200 Spots

Terrorists ‘plot in shadows of the dark net’, report warns

France hosts reformist Saudi crown prince on global tour

Russia ‘ultimately’ to blame for Syria attack, US says, calling for emergency UNSC meeting

Russia says reports of Syria's chemical attack 'bogus,' meant to shield terrorists

Anti-Muslim racism has made France the Republic of Islamophobia

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North America

Muslims Teach Neighbours about Their Religion during Open Mosque Day

'Big Price to Pay,' After 'Mindless' Syria Attack: Trump

US, Afghan forces expand air strikes on Taliban drug labs

US, allies set up more Syria posts, risking standoff with Turkey

YouTube suspends Canadian anti-terror expert

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Arab World

Muslim World League Chief Calls for Rejection of All Forms of Extremism

Syria Crisis: Jaish al-Islam to Leave Douma in Return for Releasing Prisoners

Daesh’s ideology still threatens Iraq: PM

Egypt army says it killed 4 jihadists in Sinai

Syrian Army Frees Vital Region in Eastern Ghouta

Syrian Army Purges More Territories of Terrorists near US-Held Al-Tanf Region

Syria: Turkey-Backed Militants Sent to Western Aleppo to Face Rival Terrorists

Four killed in ISIS suicide attack on Iraq party HQ

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Africa

Libya Shaken After Bodies of Kidnapped Children Found

Teachers' Exodus Aids Al Shabaab

Double car bomb attacks kill 3 in Mogadishu

Police confirm 10 killed in central Nigeria

US intensifies attacks on Al-Shabaab

Boko Haram should be given conditional pardon – Onaiyekan

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Mideast

Funding Hezbollah Terror, Paid For By Depriving Struggling Citizens

Turkey: Scholars Urge Action to Tackle Islamophobia

Turkish accession to EU will benefit Muslim world: EU Ministry

Israeli jets target Gaza position after 'infiltration attempt'

Turkey deports hundreds of Afghan migrants

Rebels kill dozens of Sudanese troops in Yemen

Zarif: Saudis turned down Iran's offers to facilitate political solution in Yemen

Yemeni forces, allies target Saudi radar station in Asir with ballistic missile

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South Asia

2 Militants Killed As Motorcycle Packed With Bombs Exploded In Afghanistan

Afghan Forces and Taliban Suffer Casualties in Uruzgan Operation

Bangladesh Bank suggests regulator encourage Islamic Shariah compliant investment certificate in capital market

Abdullah and Turkish PM discuss Gen. Dostum’s return to Afghanistan

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Southeast Asia

‘Political Islam’ Threatens Indonesia’s Jokowi

Hadi claims PAS going solo as others don’t do enough for Islam

MCA plans Chinese version of Amanah Saham funds

Nearly 50 Indonesians dead in April from bootleg liquor

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau

URL: http://www.newageislam.com/islamic-world-news/new-age-islam-news-bureau/islamic-scholars-warn-against-‘interference’,-favour-internal-reform/d/114871

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Islamic Scholars Warn Against ‘Interference’, Favour Internal Reform

08th April 2018

By Sana Shakil

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court’s recent decision to examine the constitutional validity of polygamy and Nikah Halala has created a stir among the Muslim community. While there was a clear divide in the community between the supporters and critics of Talaq-e-Biddat (instant triple Talaq), on the issues of polygamy and Nikah Halala the community appears to have a unified stand that no outside intervention is welcome. Under the Sharia, polygamy allows a man to keep four wives and according to Halala, a couple that undergoes divorce cannot remarry unless the woman marries another man and her second husband dies or divorces her.

One of the major arguments against triple Talaq — that it was an unpopular practice among Muslims worldwide — may not hold against polygamy and Nikah Halala, both of which are accepted conventions among Muslims the world over. The Sunday Standard spoke to Islamic scholars and senior members of the clergy belonging to different school of thoughts to understand their views on the two practices. Some of them admitted there was a need of bringing reforms to curb the misuse of the two practices.

However, the reform should come from within the community and not be imposed from outside, they asserted.

Scholars from all school of thoughts among Muslims — Hanafi, Maliki, Shafi’i, Hanbali and Al-Hadees — were on the same page on these issues. Moulana Mohammad Rahmani, president of Abul Kalam Azad Islam Awakening Centre, said the interference in Muslim Personal Law was unacceptable. “If there is any sort of fixing in Nikah Halala, it is a crime and that marriage is invalid. But the community can curb this misuse on its own. Nobody has the right to interfere in personal matters of any religion.” The scholars also insisted that the use of these two practices was rare in the country and therefore, the possibility of misuse was negligible.

All India Muslim Personal Law Board member Kamal Farooqui also condemned the misuse of the two provisions, but said there are valid reasons why these practices are allowed in Islam.The scholars explained that the practices are permissible only with strict conditions and their purpose is to ensure protection of women. “The purpose of polygamy is to ensure that a man does not abandon his sick wife,” said Muhammad Raziul Islam, a senior functionary of Jamat-e-Islami Hind. “What is being propagated as Halala is not real Halala. These practices are based on the teachings of Quran and cannot be interfered with.”

Zafarul Islam, president of the All India Muslim Majlis Mushaviratr and chairman of Delhi Minority Commission, and Muhammed Jafar of Jamaat-e-Islami Hind claimed polygamy was more prevalent among Hindus despite being banned in Hinduism. “Polygamy and Nikah halala are hardly practised in India, though these are practices that come with stringent conditions. There are real problems of the community — such as lack of education, health facilities and unemployment — and the government should be concerned about those,” Jafar said.

Citing Quran and other Islamic scriptures, they said a Muslim man is permitted to have more than one wife only in extreme circumstance such as terminal illness of the first wife or her incapacity to bear children.

Waris Mazhari, professor of Islamic Studies at Jamia Millia Islamia, said there have been cases of misuse of polygamy and Nikah Halala by Muslim men in India. Suggesting a solution, Mazhari said that “just as is

the norm in some countries such as Pakistan, where polygamy is allowed only if the husband gets permission for the same from the first wife, some pre-conditions should be applied to polygamy practice in India, too”.

http://www.newindianexpress.com/thesundaystandard/2018/apr/08/islamic-scholars-warn-against-interference-favour-internal-reform-1798463.html

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Pakistan plans permanent ban on JuD, other terror groups

Apr 8, 2018

ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan government is working on a draft bill to permanently ban Mumbai attack mastermind Hafiz Saeed-led Jamaat-ud Dawa as well as other groups and individuals on the watch list of the interior ministry.

The bill will replace the presidential ordinance that banned outfits and people already on the watch list of the interior ministry.

Citing its sources in the law ministry, Dawn reported that the proposed draft bill to amend the Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA), 1997 was likely to be tabled in the upcoming session of the National Assembly scheduled to commence tomorrow.

The law ministry was involved in the process for the purpose of vetting the proposed draft bill, the sources said, adding that the military establishment was also on board.

The government decided to prepare a draft bill to amend the ATA as part of its damage-control campaign after the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) approved a nomination proposal tabled jointly by the US, the UK, France and Germany to place Pakistan on the international watchdog's money-laundering and terror-financing grey list in February.

Earlier, President Mamnoon Hussain had promulgated the ordinance amending the ATA to include entities listed by the UNSC as proscribed groups but it will expire in 120 days.

The National Assembly can extend it for another four months after which it has to be tabled before both the houses - National Assembly and the Senate - for further extension.

Through the ordinance, amendments were made to ATA's Section 11-B that sets out parameters for proscription of groups and Section 11-EE that describes the grounds for listing of individuals. In both sections, Sub-Section 'aa' was added.

According to the sub-section, organisations and individuals "listed under the United Nations (Security Council) Act, 1948 (XIV of 1948), or" will be included in the First Schedule (for organisations) and Fourth Schedule (for individuals), respectively, on an ex parte basis.

Under Section 11-EE, the requirements were: "(a) concerned in terrorism; (b) an activist, office-bearer or an associate of an organisation kept under observation under section 11D or proscribed under section 11B; and (c) in any way concerned or suspected to be concerned with such organisation or affiliated with any group or organisation suspected to be involved in terrorism or sectarianism or acting on behalf of, or at the direction of, any person or organisation proscribed under this Act."

In addition to the draft bill, Pakistan is also preparing a consolidated database of known terrorists and terrorist organisations which will be accessible to financial institutions and law-enforcement agencies of the country to strengthen the regime against money laundering and terror financing.

For the enforcement of prohibition of funds and financial services, it was recommended to the authorities to ensure that statutory regulatory orders issued under UNSC Resolutions-1267 and - 1373 (issued under ATA) are implemented without delay. The government would also frame the ATA's freezing and seizure rules and ensure that Anti-Terrorism Amendment Ordinance 2018 is enacted through the parliament, according to the draft action plan.

The amendment to the ATA would also enable investigation officers to be trained to investigate sources of funding besides other financial aspects in terrorism cases.

The presidential ordinance has already been challenged by Saeed in the Islamabad High Court. He claimed that the ordinance had been promulgated due to external pressure and hence was not only prejudicial to the sovereignty but also contradictory to the fundamental rights enshrined in the Constitution.

Saeed was listed under UN Security Council Resolution 1267 in December 2008.

His JuD is believed to be the front organisation for the LeT which is responsible for carrying out the Mumbai attack that killed 166 people. It has been declared as a foreign terrorist organisation by the US in June 2014.

When contacted, Barrister Zafarullah Khan, special assistant to the prime minister, said that the amendment to the ATA was a subject of the interior ministry. He added the law would not introduce anything new, as it would basically ensure compliance to the UNSC Resolutions.

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/pakistan/pakistan-plans-permanent-ban-on-jud-other-terror-groups/articleshow/63665558.cms

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UN wants consensual sex decriminalised in Pakistan

By Sehrish Wasif

April 9, 2018

ISLAMABAD: In a surprise move, Pakistan has officially ‘noted’ a recommendation made during the third Universal Periodic Review (UPR) which suggest repealing laws barring adultery and non-marital consensual sex.

It has also noted, among hundreds of other recommendations, others which suggest decriminalising such activities, and ensuring punishment for all perpetrators of violence against participants and those who may call for such violence, including members and leaders of jirgas.

The UPR recommendations-2017 –copies of which are available with The Express Tribune and online at the UPR’s website, show that the first recommendation was given by Canada, and the second by Czechia (formerly the Czech Republic). ‘Noted’ – Pakistan’s response – means that the country will consider this recommendation and take a final decision on either accepting or rejecting it at a later time, officials explained.

An official working closely with the Ministry of Human Rights confirmed that the recommendation was officially ‘noted’. “Pakistan adopted the third cycle of UPR last month. The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) will issue the official document in coming days,” they said, adding that the document which is publically available was issued after Pakistan’s review in November 2017.

The UPR was introduced by the United Nations General Assembly in 2006 and involves a unique process of periodic review of human rights records of all UN member states. The process lets states quantify steps needed for improvement in human rights situations around the globe.

UN rights chief warns Indonesia over crackdown against LGBT community

In 2008, Pakistan received 51 recommendations, of which it accepted 43 and rejected eight. These eight pertained to the decriminalisation of defamation and non-marital sexual relations, ending abuse of blasphemy laws, legal reforms to ensure punishments in ‘honour killings’ and the abolition of the death penalty.

Many of these were also either noted or accepted in the most recent UPR.

At its second UPR in 2012, Pakistan received 167 recommendations, out of which it accepted 126, ‘noted’ 34 and rejected seven.

The recommendations rejected by Pakistan included proposals for repeal of laws related to blasphemy and criminalising non-marital sexual relations, abolition of the death penalty, and bringing an end to the ongoing military operation in Balochistan.

While talking to The Express Tribune a human right activist who asked not to be named due to the sensitivity of the issue said that Pakistan’s response to these recommendations is quite a surprise.

“Noting the recommendations on decriminalizing adultery and non-marital consensual sex by the Pakistan government during its recent Universal Periodic Review is shocking. The same recommendations were presented in 2008 UPR but were rejected by the government of Pakistan. We really need to check what forced influenced Pakistan.”

He believed that there is a disconnect between what happened at the UN and the ground realities in Pakistan.

“Pakistani officials are showing a liberal face to the west to make them happy, but within the country, they are not even ready to pass and implement laws on issues like child marriage and domestic violence, which shows the double standard of two-faced government officials,” said the activist.

Officials at the Ministry of Human Rights said they have not yet officially received these recommendations from the Foreign Office.

Some of them, however, expressed their views that there are some ‘groups’ who, based on their vested interests, “do this just for the sake of defaming Pakistan”.

Meanwhile, Pakistan Ulema Council Chairman Tahir Ashrafi said, “It is impossible to decriminalise adultery in Pakistan as it is against Islam and the Constitution of Pakistan. If the government tries to do so, it would result in a disaster.”

He said that there are few people who are making efforts to defame Pakistan and Islam.

“Anyone who does this will face treason charges,” he claimed.

Sex with wife below 18 years is rape: India top court

Council of Islamic Ideology (CII) Chairman Dr Qibla Ayaz said, “It is shocking for all of us to learn that the Pakistani government agreed to even consider this, even though it is impossible to decriminalise such acts in Pakistan.”

He further said that CII will request the Government of Pakistan to probe the matter and see who is behind it.

https://tribune.com.pk/story/1680776/1-un-wants-consensual-sex-decriminalised-pakistan/

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Muslims Teach Neighbours about Their Religion during Open Mosque Day

APRIL 09, 2018

Among throngs of people touring the Islamic Society of Boston Cultural Center on Sunday were two lanky middle school girls who love to talk about religion.

“What do you believe?” they often ask each other.

Mary Matero, 12, is Catholic and lives in West Roxbury. Mareyama Jalloh, 13, is Muslim and lives in East Boston. The girls met last fall during orientation at John D. O’Bryant School of Mathematics and Science in Roxbury.

Both seventh-graders wear glasses and are a little shy. Both love to hang out and buy bubble tea in Chinatown. At Christmas, they exchanged presents and they hope to celebrate Ramadan together.

On Sunday afternoon, Jalloh showed Matero her mosque.

“I was nervous,” Jalloh said. “Then I opened up and learned new things about my religion.”

On the second annual Open Mosque Day, more than 21 mosques across Massachusetts were scheduled to open their doors Sunday afternoon to people of all backgrounds so they could meet their Muslim neighbors, according to the Council on American-Islamic Relations-Massachusetts.

“We really wanted to support the idea that people should visit the mosque,” said Rabbi Michael Shire of Needham, who visited the ISBCC with his 96-year-old mother, Ruth Shire. “This dialogue between different faiths is important.”

Tours were given of the mosque on Malcolm X Boulevard in Roxbury, where classes were given on the Islam religion, and activities such as henna and calligraphy were featured.

Just before 5 p.m., many gathered to observe afternoon prayers.

“I think it’s nice to learn about religions other than your own,” said Mary Matero. “So you’re more open and see how other people worship.”

“It’s a really lived experience of the Muslim community,” said Yusufi Vali, executive director at the ISBCC. “The real benefit of this is people get to meet real people and make their own judgements about who Muslims are.”

Eight-year-old Kasim Kulovic was among people giving roses to visitors.

“Thank you for coming,” he said to them with a smile.

“I want him to feel proud of his identity,” said the boy’s father, Kemal Kulovic, of Arlington.“I teach him to be nice and merciful to others, to serve others, to help others, to be on his best behavior, to be the best person he can be.”

https://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/2018/04/08/muslims-teach-neighbors-about-their-religion-during-open-mosque-day/eghhnxtMc2kFJt537f4i0J/story.html

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Muslim World League chief calls for rejection of all forms of extremism

Mohammed Al-Sulami

April 08, 2018

JEDDAH: The Muslim World League (MWL) is using all of its academic and ideological resources to confront the evil forces that threaten the global safety of humanity, according to Dr. Mohammed bin Abdul Karim Al-Issa, the organization’s secretary general.

Al-Issa was speaking at a conference on communal safety, organized by the MWL in collaboration with the Jordan based Global Forum for Moderation, and held under the auspices of Jordanian Prime Minister Hani Al-Mulki. The attendees included dozens of political figures, researchers and scholars from 35 countries.

Al-Issa criticized the two extremes the world is witnessing: “The extremism wrongly labeled as Islam, and the opposite extremism known as Islamophobia.” He added that extremists feed off of each other, and benefit from each other’s recklessness.

He reminded the attendees that extremism and terrorism fill a void created by hatred and useless sectarian conflicts, and that the only way out of the cycle is to confirm noble religious values, away from useless rhetoric and narratives.

He added that the Umma will not progress unless we reverse the negative image created by some minorities in non-Muslim countries and decide to confront these countries.

The conference also discussed the disruption of the ideological security, which leads to widespread corruption and exposes Arab and Muslim society to extremist ideological ideas, attacking its strength, unity and future aspirations.

The conference agreed on the importance of looking for a community consensus, a formula that achieves justice and guarantees everybody’s rights in a safe, pluralistic society, calling for the Islamic Umma to move from ideological rhetoric to a real contribution to civilization by promoting moderation, and move from a narrow vision to a holistic one by rearranging priorities and tackling global issues for the good of humanity.

It was highlighted that communal security can only be achieved through concerted efforts between security and religious authorities, coupled with active work among university students and youth organizations to confront extremism through education and empowerment.

They called for enhancing the global approach of Islam toward respecting countries, defending them and protecting them from all dangers, considering that extremists who claim to follow Islam should not justify Islamophobia.

The conference called for abiding by the true principles of Islam, interpreting them in a way that is clear to everyone, by contributing actively to building a civilized humane society, taking into consideration religious and cultural diversity, and striving to achieve social justice and enhance national unity, in collaboration with all the other components to achieve a society of justice, peace and compassion.

http://www.arabnews.com/node/1281251/saudi-arabia

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India

 

The Refrain in Samastipur: Outsiders Were Responsible, Will Be Wary Now

by Dipankar Ghose

April 9, 2018

Just 300 metres separate the Mahavir temple, the biggest in Rosera town, and the Jama Masjid, the biggest mosque. Between them is a narrow lane, one shop after the other, most selling jewellery, some clothes, others daily supplies. For the residents of the town, they have never known those 300 metres to fall silent. Day after day, the distance was a symbol of a thriving market and a bustling harmonious town with over 32,000 people.

Until March 27, 2018. That one day, the street saw more people than ever before, over two thousand. But they were far from peaceful, stoning the mosque, injuring twelve people including an ASP and even climbing atop the Masjid to plant a saffron flag. And then Gudri bazaar fell quiet. For one week until April 3, nothing was sold, and only security personnel roamed the streets. What started it all was a slipper.

On March 26, at around 8:00 pm, a Chaiti Durga Puja procession that carried the idol of the goddess was passing through Gudri Bazaar, on its way to the river nearby to be immersed. As the devotees passed by the Jama Masjid, one slipper landed in their midst. Eyewitnesses said it came from a house next to the mosque.

PC Thakur, a local Rosera resident said, “There are only a few Muslim families in Gudri Bazaar, and it was from one of their homes. The Hindus felt this was an affront. The Muslims feigned ignorance and said it had not been done on purpose. There was a heated conversation, but everybody there was a local and so we did not want trouble. There were other murtis behind as well, and there was no electricity so it was dark. Everybody calmed down and the procession went on. Nothing happened that night.”

The local anger did not subside the next morning. Vinod Dev, a member of the Rosera Traders Association said, “We did not want trouble. We wanted police to take some action. What would have happened if the slipper fell on the pratima? So a few of us collected at the spot, and some local residents had identified two Muslim men as the troublemakers. We only wanted them to be arrested because they had done something wrong. There should have been no trouble. Our communities have lived together for generations.”

Nawaz Khan, who lives 1 km away and runs a grocery shop said, “In the morning, I went and mingled with those demanding arrests. I have known them for decades, and even agreed that if a slipper was thrown, action should be taken. Lots of us did. But soon we realised that the atmosphere was getting dangerous. The crowd kept increasing, and most were people we had never seen before.”

“They were the loudest, abusing the most. Even after the police arrested Mohammad Shahzad, they didn’t quieten down and wanted another person identified as Arman to be arrested. I left, but some remained in the masjid.”

By 2 pm, an irate crowd surrounded the mosque, and despite being pushed back by the police, threw stones at the mosque and police. Some broke open the gates, climbed the minaret and planted the saffron flag. One group broke off, went to a madrasa nearby and set motorcycles ablaze.

Successive police lathi charges finally dispersed the crowds at Gudri Bazaar, and ten people have been arrested since, including a local BJP leader, Mohan Patwa. Yet, many questions remain in Rosera, even among those that first collected on the morning of March 27.

As Vishnu Dev stood and watched, he too was struck by the number of faces he didn’t recognise. “It was clear that someone wanted to take advantage of the situation,” he said.

Through the night, people in Rosera, Samastipur, Begusarai and Muzaffarpur saw social media abuzz with messages. One WhatsApp message at the time, that was also reproduced on the pages of members of groups such as the Hindu Putra Sangathan, said, “I am going to the Mahavir Mandir in Rosera, there have been a lot of religious insults, not anymore.”

Raju Gupta, a local Rosera based journalist said, “Through the night and in the morning, there were messages that said that the slipper had hit the idol when it had actually missed and that people should collect. Some shouted that the accused were hiding in the mosque when the stoning began. Eventually, in the crowd, the outsiders far exceeded those from here, and most were teenagers.”

Dev pointed to a wound on his hand. “We even tried to protect the mosque and shouted for calm. I got hit with a stone that just missed my head and hit my hand. I even slapped one man throwing stones and shouted at him. But there were just too many,” he said.

Gupta said that sensing the danger, local Hindu families sheltered those who fled the madrasa, so when a section of the mob arrived there, they found only motorcycles and no people.

Speaking to The Indian Express, Samastipur Superintendent of Police, Dipak Ranjan said, “I cannot reveal any aspects of the investigation, but can assure you that it is being done thoroughly and all the evidence is being gone through. Ten people have been arrested so far.”

Almost inevitably, distrust has entered most conversations in Rosera, particularly about the arrests.

“There have been several peace meetings and the police assured us of fair action. But one night, ten people were rounded up. Rumours began to fly that a hundred people have been arrested. Others said that those detained were being beaten. There was an atmosphere of fear so shops remained shut. Some argued that the main accused from the “doosra paksh” was still on the run,” Dev said. Breaking out into a wry chuckle, he said, “Doosra paksh. I have never used that word before in my life.”

30 km away, at the district headquarters, JD(U) leader Banarasi Lal Thakur echoes the feeling. “This is Samastipur, where no incident like this ever takes place, even when the rest of the country is burning. This is the land of Karpoori Thakur, who is an icon of secular harmony and justice. And do you know where, in the most communally charged of times in 1990, Lal Krishna Advani was arrested during his rath yatra, and even then nothing happened?”, he said, pointing to a room on the first floor of the Samastipur Circuit House.

At Gudri Bazaar, in the peace meetings and conversations in every shop and home, there is apprehension and a plan. One grocery shop owner said, “This was the Chaiti Durga Puja. The main Puja will happen in October, and there will be Muslim festivals too. We will have to be careful of people who want to reopen our wounds. We will ensure one thing this time. We will be wary of outsiders.

http://indianexpress.com/article/india/samastipur-communal-violence-bihar-hindu-muslim-ram-navami-clash-nitish-kumar-5129392/

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Maulana Wali Rahmani Makes a U-Turn on ‘Triple Talaq Bill’, Calls off Agitations

April 8, 2018

New Delhi (Muslim Mirror): In a surprise move the All India Muslim Personal Law Board has called off nationwide agitations against Triple Talaq Bill of Modi government. Board’s general secretary Maulana Wali Rahmani in a press release has instructed to wind up all agitations planned against Triple Talaq Bill being held across the country.

Maulana Rahmani didn’t give any clarification regarding his U-Turn on the agitation. Interestingly the 4th April protest which is scheduled for tomorrow has been exempted from his wind-up message.

It should be noted that Board’s decision to include Muslim women in the protest ware being criticized from many quarters.

On the contrast Maulana Rahmani has appealed to the well-wishers of the community surrounding Delhi –NCR to bring Muslim women in large numbers to Ramlila Maidan and make the event a grand success.

Full report at:

https://www.siasat.com/news/maulana-wali-rahmani-makes-u-turn-triple-talaq-bill-calls-agitations-1339431/

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NIA brands Pakistani diplomat 'wanted,' to seek Interpol RCN

Apr 9, 2018

NEW DELHI: In a first, the National Investigation Agency (NIA) has put a Pakistani diplomat on its ‘wanted’ list and released his photo, seeking information.

It said the diplomat — Amir Zubair Siddiqui, who was posted as visa counsellor in the Pakistani High Commission in Colombo — had been included in the list along with two other Pakistani officers for conspiring to launch 26/11-type attacks on US and Israeli consulates besides Army and Navy commands in south India in 2014. NIA said a fourth Pakistani officer posted in the high commission in Sri Lanka was also involved in the conspiracy.

The development comes even as the agency is preparing to send a request to Interpol seeking red corner notices (RCNs) against the Pakistani officers, who have reportedly been repatriated to Islamabad.

While the NIA chargesheeted Siddiqui in February, the other three officers could not be identified. The two, who have been put on the ‘wanted’ list apart from Siddiqui, are a Pakistani intelligence officer who went by his alias ‘Vineeth’, and another official codenamed ‘Boss alias Shah’. This is the first time that India has put a Pakistani diplomat’s name in the ‘wanted’ list or sought a red corner notice against one, an official said.

According to the NIA, the Pakistani officers, while serving in Colombo from 2009 to 2016, planned to attack vital installations in Chennai and other places in south India with the help of their agents. Siddiqui allegedly hired Sri Lankan national Muhammed Sakir Hussaien and others, including Arun Selvaraj, Sivabalan and Thameem Ansari, all of whom were arrested by agencies here.

After recruiting them, Siddiqui and the other Pakistani officers instructed them to collect information about defence installations, nuclear establishments and movement of arms and click photographs of such places, the NIA claimed. The Pakistanis also asked them to steal laptops of senior Indian Army officers and supply fake Indian currency notes (FICN), the agency said. They planned to attack the US consulate in Chennai, the Israeli consulate in Bengaluru, the Eastern Naval Command headquarters in Visakhapatnam and various ports, the NIA claimed.

Full report at:

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/in-a-first-nia-brands-pakistani-diplomat-wanted/articleshow/63672801.cms

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Refer Babri Masjid issue to statute Bench, says counsel

APRIL 07, 2018

“Are pleas to strike down polygamy more important?”

Senior advocate Rajeev Dhavan, appearing for Muslim parties in the Ramjanmabhoomi title appeals, on Friday asked the Supreme Court to clarify in the open court, before the press, whether it considered pleas to strike down polygamy more important than Muslim rights involved in the Ramjanmabhoomi case.

For 45 minutes, Mr. Dhavan confronted a Bench led by Chief Justice Dipak Misra as to why the court chose to refer pleas to declare polygamy unconstitutional to a Constitution Bench, while continuing to mull over whether or not to send questions raised in the Ramjanmabhoomi title appeals to a five-judge Bench, that too, despite repeated requests from the Muslim parties.

Dhavan’s plea

“Tell me, are the petitions to declare polygamy unconstitutional — an issue detrimental to Muslims — much more important than the questions raised in the Ramjanmabhoomi-Babri Masjid case? If so, say that now... I am here, the press is here ... please say so,” Mr. Dhavan challenged the Bench.

The reference of polygamy pleas to the Constitution Bench was made on the very first day of hearing, on March 26.

“The Ramjanmabhoomi case is the most important issue that affects India’s secularism ... more than polygamy,” Mr. Dhavan said.

In the Ramjanmabhoomi appeals, the Muslim parties want a Constitution Bench to answer the question “whether mosques are essential to Islam”.

Muslim parties have challenged the 24-year-old judgment of the court in the Ismail Faruqui versus Union of India case, which observed that a mosque had no “unique or special status” and was not an essential part of the practice of Islam and namaz .

In 1994, the Supreme Court observed that “Muslims can offer prayer anywhere, even in open”.

The Muslim parties want a five-judge Bench to reconsider the Ismail Faruqui verdict before further hearing the Ramjanmabhoomi appeals on merit.

Justice Ashok Bhushan, who is part of the Ayodhya Bench along with Justice S. Abdul Nazeer, said the order passed in the polygamy case could not be made a ground to refer the Ramjanmabhoomi appeals to a Constitution Bench.

Chief Justice Misra and Justice Bhushan explained to Mr. Dhavan that they intended to hear the arguments from both sides before taking a call on whether the case should be sent to a five-judge Bench.

The hearing witnessed repeated arguments between Mr. Dhavan and senior lawyers from the other side.

Chief Justice Misra stood firm, saying the court was aware of the “high significance” and the “enormous impact” of the question of Muslim rights of worship raised in the Ramjanmabhoomi case.

Full report at:

http://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-national/refer-babri-masjid-issue-to-statute-bench-says-counsel/article23461131.ece

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Two Rohingya Muslim men arrested in Manipur on trafficking charges

Apr 08, 2018

The Manipur Police have arrested two Rohingya Muslim men and a 20-year-old woman, suspected to be a trafficking victim, from Moreh, a thriving commercial hub that borders Myanmar.

The arrests were made on Saturday after police were tipped off about a group of Rohingya men staying in Moreh’s Muslim Basti with trafficked girls, police sources said.

“The two men were arrested for their suspected involvement in human trafficking while the woman for not having valid document,” Tengnoupal superintendent of police S Ibomcha said. Moreh is part of Tengnoupal district.

The Rohingya are a persecuted ethnic group in Myanmar, who have faced violence from time to time. At least 40,000 of them live in India.

More than 700,000 Rohingya fled to Bangladesh after a military crackdown in the northwestern Rakhine state in August 2017.

The violence, which saw widespread killings and rapes, hit women and children particularly hard, leaving them vulnerable to human traffickers.

Police identified the two men as Mohd Saifullah (34) and Mohd Salam (25) from Arakan, which is now known as Rakhine. The woman’s name was Toiba Hatu alias Nargis (20), who, too, is from the troubled Myanmar province.

Saifullah, who was living in Moreh with his family, was carrying an Aadhaar card and also a United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees’ card, the SP said.

Salam and Toiba Hatu seemed to have arrived in India recently and had no documents on them.

The two men and a local, Mohd Ismail from Imphal West district, were trafficking Rohingya girls from Myanmar to different parts of the world, including India, Ibomcha said.

Ismail and the owner of the house where the group was living were on the run.

This is the second time in two months that such arrests have been made in Moreh, which is considered India’s gateway to the Southeast.

Three Rohingya men were arrested in March and police sources said they suspected involvement of some locals as the men had been promised jobs.

Full report at:

https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/two-rohingya-muslim-men-arrested-in-manipur-on-trafficking-charges/story-AHorgaVCDk6WsyAgjxLKhI.html

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Trying to Restore SC/ST Reservation in Jamia, Aligarh Muslim University: Union Minister Gehlot

April 9, 2018

New Delhi: Union Social Justice and Empowerment Minister Thaawar Chand Gehlot on Sunday said that the Narendra Modi government was trying to restore the reservation for Scheduled Castes (SC) and Scheduled Tribes (ST) in Jamia Millia Islamia and Aligarh Muslim University (AMU).

"The JMI and AMU are central universities but the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government made them minority institutions. And hence reservation for SC and ST students does not apply there.

"But these are funded by the central government. Any institution funded or aided by the Central government must have provisions of reservation for SC, ST and OBCs as per the Central government rules. We have presented our side in the Supreme Court and also submitted a changed affidavit. Now waiting for apex court's response," Gehlot said.

He said that the Modi government will "never end reservation nor let others do it".

He also targeted fellow Dalit leader and Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) chief Mayawati, saying she was digressing from the path of party founder Kanshi Ram.

"Kanshi Ram did not believe in violence but Mayawati is not following in his footsteps," Gehlot said as he and Union Law Minister Ravi Shanker Prasad accused the BSP, Samajwadi Party and the Congress of fanning Dalit violence in different parts of the country for "political gains".

Earlier, the Congress questioned Modi's "stoic silence" over the concerns of Dalits and said it indicated that the BJP and RSS were working towards a "Dalit-mukt Bharat".

The Congress said that despite massive protests and outcry on the streets over the dilution of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act in the wake of a Supreme Court ruling on March 20, the Prime Minister has maintained silence.

Full report at:

https://www.news18.com/news/india/trying-to-restore-scst-reservation-in-jamia-aligarh-muslim-university-union-minister-thaawar-chand-gehlot-1712161.html

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Rohingya crisis: Supreme Court to hold final hearing on deportation of refugees today

April 9, 2018

The Supreme Court on Monday is likely to hear a petition related to deportation of Rohingya refugees who had fled the persecution in Myanmar last year. A top court bench, headed by Chief Justice of India (CJI) Dipak Misra, will hear the matter wherein the Centre has questioned the credentials of the petitioners seeking to block the deportation of Rohingya refugees, saying the genesis of the PILs threaten to change the country’s demography and destabilise it.

Last month, a bench comprising Misra and Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud had directed the Centre to file a comprehensive report on the conditions in Rohingya refugee camps across various states, particularly Haryana, Rajasthan and Jammu and Kashmir. The order came after senior advocate Colin Gonsalves claimed that the conditions at the camp are unhygienic and “filthiest to say the least”.

Appearing for petitioner Zaffar Ullah, Gonsalves said the poor and unhygienic conditions had led to several deaths of refugees living in these camps. The senior lawyer urged the apex court to direct the Centre and states to provide better hygienic facilities in these camps.

Earlier this year, the Centre had urged the top court to leave the issue of securing the country’s border to the executive. It also rejected charges that Border Security Force personnel are using “chilli and stun grenades” to turn away Rohingya refugees.

Responding to a petition filed by two Rohingya refugees who accused the BSF of using chilli and stun grenades to push back refugees at the border, the affidavit said the MHA had sought a report from the BSF following this and found that the charges were “false, incorrect and far from truth.” The MHA stated, “it is submitted that no such devices are used either as alleged or otherwise.”

Full report at:

http://indianexpress.com/article/india/rohingya-crisis-supreme-court-hearing-case-on-deportation-of-refugees-5129674/

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Pakistan

 

UIPM to take religious scholars, human rights activists along

April 9, 2018

Islamabad: Universal Interfaith Peace Mission, the gold medallist organisation of World Interfaith Harmony Week of the United Nations is going to organise a Thanksgiving Reception in honour of Federal Minister for Human Rights Mumtaz Ahmed Tarar (Sitara-e-Imtiaz) today (Monday) at Islamabad Hotel, says a press release

Human rights activists from several organisations have been invited to the reception where Federal Minister for Human Rights Mumtaz Ahmed will be the chief guest, Dr Qibla Ayaz, Chairman Council of Islamic Ideology (CII) will preside over the ceremony, while UIPM Chairman Allama Dr GR Chishti will deliver vote of thanks.

Dr Chishti said that the purpose of the reception is to shed light on Pakistani Shariah Law and Supra International Human Rights Laws with an aim of highlighting the issues which are not only for the betterment of Pakistani nation, but for the entire Muslim Ummah and nations around the world. “We will try to take religious as well as human rights activists along and reach a consensus on the issue as these will have future implications on the world and Muslim Ummah,” he added.

Dr Chishti is also likely to highlight the aspects of the future of foreseeable contingency and also give its solution. UIPM chairman is also likely to highlight the issue of apostasy and decrees of apostates given by several schools of thoughts of Islam against each other. He will also shed light on sensitivities of the issues as these are dangerous times for global peace and contradictory to interfaith harmony.

Dr Chishti will also highlight the tussle between two warring parties in Yemen and their implications on minorities including Jews, Christians, and Baha’i community particularly the later who are being regularly persecuted for just practising their faith, which is in complete contradiction to the United Nations Human Rights Covenants of 1948.

https://www.thenews.com.pk/print/302171-uipm-to-take-religious-scholars-human-rights-activists-along

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I fear Allah, others fear NAB: Siraj

April 09, 2018

LAHORE - The Jamaat-e-Islami chief, Senator Sirajul Haq, said on Sunday the only difference between him and other politicians was that he feared Allah they feared NAB.

Addressing a public gathering at the JI Youth Convention at Minar-e-Pakistan ground on Sunday evening, he sought support and confidence of farmers, workers and the youth for building Pakistan as a truly welfare state.

A big number of young men from all over Punjab had gathered at Minar-e-Pakistan ground on the call of the JI chief. They continued raising slogans of Islam Zindabad and Jeevey Jeevey Pakistan.

The JI chief said that Allah Almighty had blessed this country with unlimited resources including coal, gas, and oil reserves besides a valuable sea cost spread over 650km. However, he said, that farmers, young men and workers of the country remained hungry.  Sirajul Haq vowed to ensure election of the youth to assemblies. He cursed the present political system under which only scions of feudal lords, vaderas and capitalists could return to assemblies.

Full report at:

https://nation.com.pk/09-Apr-2018/i-fear-allah-others-fear-nab-siraj

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Pakistani Christians Fearful After IS Attack on Community

April 08, 2018

Muhammad Ishtiaq

ISLAMABAD —

Pakistan’s Christian community has faced the brunt of some of the worst terrorist attacks in the country in recent years, but now the community fears another looming danger.

During the last few months, the Islamic State (IS) terrorist group, or Daesh, has claimed responsibility for two deadly attacks on the Christian community in Pakistan’s southwestern province of Baluchistan.

In Quetta, the provincial capital of Baluchistan, a Christian family was attacked on April 2, a day after Easter.

Gunmen killed four people, all members of one Christian family.

In December 2017, several days before Christmas, suicide bombers attacked a Christian church, killing at least nine people in the southwestern city of Quetta.

IS claimed responsibility for both attacks.

Nadeem Anthony, a Christian rights activist, told VOA that IS has become a new danger for the community.

“The Christian community is scared and concerned after [the] deadly attacks by Daesh. It is not acceptable,” Anthony noted. “If Daesh is active and involved in the attacks on the Christian community, then we (Christians) can’t do anything against this militant outfit. It’s the responsibility of the state to act against such a group.”

Pakistan denies the organized presence of IS in the country and said the state is committed to cracking down on all militant groups that threaten any community or sect.

But some quarters have expressed concern that IS is emerging as a threat.

Dr. Mehdi Hassan, chairman of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP), said IS's presence cannot be completely denied.

“Attacks on the Christian community by Daesh is really a matter of concern, and this will worsen [the] religious extremism situation in Pakistan. In a country where extremism exists in so many forms, any outfit (including Daesh) can triumph,” Hassan said.

Tariq Christopher Qaiser belongs to the Christian community and is a parliamentarian from Pakistan’s ruling Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N) political party. He expressed serious concerns about the increasing number of targeted attacks on different Muslim sects and on Christians.

Full report at:

https://www.voanews.com/a/pakistan-christians-terror-threat/4337902.html

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CTD nabs 4 LeJ militants in Karachi for terror financing

April 9, 2018

KARACHI: The Counter-Terrorism Department (CTD) on Sunday claimed to have arrested four suspected militants from Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ) over allegations of terror financing through bank robberies, kidnapping for ransom and extortion.

The arrested were identified as Zakir alias Qari, Affan, Muzamil and Abdul Hafeez alias Haji, according to CTD Additional Inspector General (AIG) of Police Dr Sanaullah Abbasi. The AIG said the suspects were considered to be ‘facilitators’ of terrorism, adding that the CTD was now paying special attention to cases involving funding and financing of terrorist organisations.

“Though we have been arresting operatives involved in smaller rackets, efforts are now being made to look into cases where larger sums of money are involved,” said the CTD Sindh head. He revealed that “in every interrogation of terror suspects, there is a special focus on the ‘economics of terror’.”

Meanwhile, CTD Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Junaid Ahmed Shaikh said that during the initial probe, the arrested militants revealed that they had been generating funds for terrorism in Karachi since 2014. According to the SSP, the suspects had confessed to the generation of around Rs150 million, which was subsequently handed over to militants for carrying out acts of terrorism.

Full report at:

https://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2018/04/08/ctd-nabs-4-lj-militants-in-karachi-for-terror-financing/

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Naqeebullah’s father demands arrest of Rao Anwar’s associates

April 9, 2018

KARACHI: The family of late Naqeebullah Mehsud on Sunday demanded the Sindh government to arrest the associates of suspended Malir Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Rao Anwar.

Anwar is accused of the extrajudicial murder of Naqeebullah and three others, who were allegedly killed on his orders in a fake police encounter in Karachi on January 13.

The absconding SSP went into hiding in late January and was arrested on the orders of a three-member Supreme Court (SC) bench, headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Saqib Nisar, when he finally appeared in court on March 21.

Naqeebullah’s father, senior members of the Mehsud tribe, and family members of missing persons participated in the protest outside the Karachi Press Club on Sunday.

The protestors gave the government an ultimatum to punish Rao Anwar and his associates complicit in the murder of Naqeebullah, otherwise, they would protest outside the Chief Minister House and Governor House in Karachi.

“Why is Naqeeb’s killer being provided protocol?” asked one protester. “The government is attempting to influence the case,” said another.

People from different parts of the provincial metropolis arrived at the press club to take part in the demonstration.

They demanded from the authorities to recover the missing persons and present them before the court of law, while calling for “an end to unconstitutional arrests”.

They demanded transparent investigations into ‘fake shootouts’ conducted by the law enforcement authorities.

Participants of the protest alleged that the Sindh government and certain institutions were trying to influence investigations being carried out in connection with the Naqeebullah murder case, a practice they said should be stopped immediately.

Full report at:

https://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2018/04/08/naqeebullahs-father-demands-arrest-of-rao-anwars-associates/

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Taliban won’t accept Pakistan’s ‘pressure’, says former Afghan envoy

Tahir Khan

APRIL 9, 2018

ISLAMABAD: Former Afghan ambassador in Islamabad Mullah Abdul Salam Zaeef says Pakistan has ‘increased pressure’ on the Taliban to join the reconciliation process but the insurgents will not accept the pressure.

“Pakistan has increased pressure on the Taliban but they will not accept what Pakistan wants them to do. Pakistan has detained some senior Taliban leaders at a time when efforts are underway in the region to encourage the Taliban to come to the negotiating table,” Zaeef told Daily Times by the phone.

Pakistan is now committed to supporting the Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace and reconciliation under Afghanistan – Pakistan Action Plan for Peace and Solidarity (APAPPS), which is a joint action plan for cooperation in key areas of counter-terrorism and for reduction of violence and promotion of peace and reconciliation, involving repatriation of refugees and joint economic development.

Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi during his visit to Kabul on April 6 welcomed President Ashraf Ghani’s peace and reconciliation offer to the Taliban and both leaders called on them to respond positively to the peace offer and join the peace process without further delay.

“Taliban do not want any deal through any country, including Pakistan and Iran, but they want to solve the problems with the US without involvement of others,” Zaeef said.

Zaeef, who was the Afghan ambassador during Taliban government in Kabul, was arrested in Pakistan in 2002 and handed over to the United States months after American military toppled the Taliban government.

The United States had detained Zaeef at the Guantanamo Bay for some years, and finally set him free in 2005. He was put on the list of designated terrorists until 2010 and later he was excluded from it.

To a question why the Afghan Taliban were invited to peace negotiations by Kabul government, Zaeef said that the Taliban had not accepted the offer to join the political system as yet.

“So far, the Taliban consider the Kabul government an unconstitutional government. Secondly, the Taliban want to liberate Afghanistan from clutches of occupation forces. They want to introduce Islamic government in Afghanistan,” the former Taliban envoy said.

“I believe the Kabul government is not willing to understand objectives of the Taliban. Some Taliban leaders believe there is a conspiracy theory hidden behind recognition of the Taliban as a political power and, therefore, they do not accept this offer,” he said when asked about President Ghani’s offer to recognise them as a political party.

Ghani in his speech at the Kabul Process meeting on February 28 had offered the Taliban to open office in Afghanistan.

Responding to another question, Zaeef said that Pakistan was keen to see the Afghan Taliban joining the political system because Pakistan was facing serious allegations.

He categorically stated that the Taliban would not accept the demands of any country unless the foreign forces quit Afghanistan. He said that the United States was still engaged in creating problems for the Taliban and the people of Afghanistan and the region in several different ways. He said that the regional situation had deteriorated with the US invasion of Afghanistan.

Full report at:

https://dailytimes.com.pk/225664/taliban-wont-accept-pakistans-pressure-says-former-afghan-envoy/

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Europe

 

Turks in Europe introduce Islam at 200 spots

08 April 2018

The Turkish Muslim community in Europe on Saturday launched an event to introduce Islam to European people.

The Islamic Community Milli Gorus (ICMG), a religio-political movement, distributed more than 200,000 roses and brochures describing Islam and Muslims to citizens at 200 places across the continent.

This was the fourth annual 'Hello, I am a Muslim' event organized by the ICMG.

The event was held simultaneously in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Netherlands, Belgium, France, Denmark, Sweden, Italy and Norway as well as Australia and Canada.

In Germany, the event was held at 120 places in 15 regions, the group said.

In Austria, the activities were organized at 25 places across nine states.

In the Netherlands, 27,000 roses and brochures were distributed by 250 volunteers in 17 cities.

“We aimed to break down the prejudices against Islam and Muslims in the Netherlands by giving roses to people,” a volunteer Idris Erdogan said.

Petra Warmerdar, a Dutch said: “There are some things that are misunderstood. People do not usually know each other. I think it's important to bring people close to each other.”

Tunahan Kuzu, the leader of Netherland's Denk, a party founded by ethnic Turkish lawmakers, said: “I have attended this event for four years. As Muslims in Europe, we should do everything we can to eliminate the bad image created especially in the western World.”

http://www.worldbulletin.net/islamic-world/200821/turks-in-europe-introduce-islam-at-200-spots

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Terrorists ‘plot in shadows of the dark net’, report warns

8 Apr 2018

Terrorists and extremists are creating growing numbers of safe havens on the “dark net” to plot future attacks, raise funds and recruit new followers, new research reveals.

Terrorist organisations and individuals are evading security services and intelligence agencies by “hiding in the shadows” of the darknet, using encrypted messaging services, to communicate and anonymous cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin to generate funds. Researchers for the Henry Jackson Society, a foreign policy thinktank, say that groups have also been able to create a reservoir of extremist propaganda, saving it from deletion by the security services or tech companies.

Following the five terror attacks on British soil in 2017, the UK government has dedicated more time and funds to tackling online extremism, yet the report argues that more attention should be paid to the dark net because extremists are still able to operate unchallenged on the anarchic platform.

Researchers said that the current encrypted communication app of choice is Telegram, which Islamic State has encouraged members to use, with messages including explanations on how to access new dark net sites linked to the group. In November 2017, an al-Qaida-linked organisation called al-Sadaqah used a public channel on Telegram to campaign for bitcoin funding.

The report’s author, Nikita Malik, director of the centre for the response to radicalisation and terrorism at the Henry Jackson Society, said: “We have denied Islamic State territory in the real world, but it has a whole new safe haven in cyberspace which we need first to understand and then to close down.

“The authorities must move urgently to increase their knowledge of terrorists’ activities in cyberspace and their use of technologies such as bitcoin. Regulation in this area has to move carefully if we are to balance liberties with guarding against threats to our security – but the time has come to deny extremists the space they need online to plan fresh atrocities.”

Malik identified numerous sites on the dark net that explain how to make TATP – triacetone triperoxide – which can be made from household chemicals and was used in the jihadist attacks in Paris in November 2015, Brussels in March 2016, Manchester in May 2017 and Parsons Green, London, in September 2017.

One study last year found that of 811 arms-related listings on 24 darknet cryptomarkets, 208 were ebooks with instructions for the manufacture of explosives or firearms at home.

A preliminary search on the dark net on 18 January by Malik found 1,101 results for instructional material related to “security”, including guides on drugs, fraud, hacking, and firearms. The Anarchist Cookbook, which contains bomb-making instructions, was available for sale for 0.0003 bitcoin – around £1.45.

Other focal points for discussion on darknet forums included “how to make bombs, plan lone-actor terrorist attacks … how to use vehicles as weapons, where to stab people for maximum effect, and how to create a fake suicide vest or mask their activity, with the aim of convincing potential recruits to undertake their own attacks.”

Lord Trimble, a current member of Parliament’s joint committee on the national security strategy and former first minister of Northern Ireland, said: “While the first decade of the century was defined by the battle against jihadist ‘safe havens’ – physically located in Afghanistan, north-west Pakistan, Yemen and so on – this report draws attention to the possible rise of ‘virtual safe havens’: encrypted communication channels, hidden portions of the internet, cryptocurrency accounts that are not registered with any banks and more.”

Labour’s shadow spokesperson for digital, culture, media and sport, Lord Griffiths of Burry Port, said: “This is a deeply disturbing report, illustrating how extremist content and instructional terrorist material, as well as funding campaigns to raise money for terrorist groups, can be found on the internet – with varying degrees of accessibility.”

The report’s recommendations include a new internet regulatory body with the role of scrutinising tech companies’ efforts to remove extremist content, along with extra resources for the Joint Terrorism Analysis Centre to accrue darknet intelligence.

Full report at:

https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2018/apr/08/terrorists-plot-shadows-dark-net-report

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France hosts reformist Saudi crown prince on global tour

April 09, 2018

PARIS - Saudi Arabia’s crown prince arrived in France on Sunday for the next leg of a global tour aimed at reshaping his kingdom’s austere image as he pursues his drive to reform the conservative petrostate.

Prince Mohammed bin Salman will hold meetings with President Emmanuel Macron during his two-day official visit starting Monday — his first trip to France as the heir to the Saudi throne.

Macron will walk a diplomatic tightrope with the young prince in talks set to focus on cultural ties and investments but also the war in Yemen, dubbed the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, and the kingdom’s arch-nemesis Iran. The 32-year-old prince, widely known as MBS, was received at the Bourget airport near Paris on Sunday morning by French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian.

The trip follows a coast-to-coast tour of the United States as well as visits to Britain and Egypt, where the prince courted a host of business tycoons and struck multimillion-dollar deals from defence to entertainment.

Around 18 memorandums of understanding in energy, agriculture, tourism and culture are set to be signed at an official Saudi-France CEO Forum on Tuesday, a source close to the crown prince’s delegation told AFP.

A Franco-Saudi cooperation deal to develop Al Ula, a Saudi city richly endowed with archeological remnants, is also expected to be a central highlight of the visit, the source added.

Aside from meetings with the French president, prime minister and trade officials, the prince is also considering a visit to the Paris-based tech start-up campus Station F, the Arab World Institute and a concert in the southern city of Aix-en-Provence, the source said.

“This is not a traditional state visit,” another source close to the Saudi delegation told AFP, without revealing the time of his arrival on Sunday. “It is about forging a new partnership with France, not just shopping for deals.” Macron’s office said the trip would also focus on investment in the digital economy as well as renewable energy, as the world’s top crude exporter pumps billions of dollars in the sector in a bid to diversify its economy.

Prince Mohammed’s tour is meant to project “Saudi Arabia is open for business,” Bernard Haykel, a professor at Princeton University, told AFP.

“He is marketing Saudi Arabia as a strategic and business partner to the West and a force of stability in the region, as compared to rival Iran which he presents as a destabilising force,” he said.

The tour comes after a tumultuous period at home that saw a major military shake-up and a royal purge as the prince consolidates power to a degree well beyond that wielded by previous rulers.

The prince has used his global tour to project his reforms — including the historic lifting of a ban on women driving, cinemas and mixed-gender concerts — as part of his pledge to return the kingdom to moderate Islam.

Backed by high-power lobbying and public relations firms, the prince is seeking to rebrand Saudi Arabia as a modernist oasis instead of an austere kingdom known for exporting jihadist ideology and subjugating women. Saudi officials project strong relations between Prince Mohammed and Macron, both young leaders undertaking challenging reforms to transform their countries.

“Saudi Arabia is not resetting diplomatic ties with France,” a source close to the Saudi government told AFP. “The leadership of both countries share much in common. They are both young, visionary and ambitious.”

But the trip follows a period of underlying tensions, with Macron seeking to bolster ties with the Arab world’s biggest economy while also managing other relationships with Middle Eastern nations.

Macron waded into a regional crisis last November when Lebanon’s Prime Minister Saad Hariri tendered his resignation on live television from Riyadh, apparently under pressure from the crown prince.

Macron invited Hariri to Paris for talks and he has since rescinded his resignation, a development that analysts say exposed the limits of the prince’s authority.

As US President Donald Trump threatens to tear up the 2015 nuclear cooperation deal with Iran, Macron also faces the challenge of convincing the crown prince that some agreement to curb Tehran’s atomic ambitions is better than no deal at all, experts say. The crown prince, however, has emphasised closer ties with Washington just as Macron has sought to improve relations with Iran.

Macron also faces seething criticism over French weapon exports to Saudi Arabia, including Caesar artillery guns, sniper rifles and armoured vehicles, despite the kingdom’s role in the Yemen crisis.

Three out of four French people believe it is “unacceptable” to sell weapons to Saudi Arabia, according to a poll last month by independent research group YouGov.

Full report at:

https://nation.com.pk/09-Apr-2018/france-hosts-reformist-saudi-crown-prince-on-global-tour

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Russia ‘ultimately’ to blame for Syria attack, US says, calling for emergency UNSC meeting

Apr 8, 2018

Tensions are escalating between the US and Russia as Washington says Moscow “ultimately bears responsibility for these brutal attacks,” in reference to a reported chemical attack the US blames on the Syrian government.

“These reports, if confirmed, are horrifying and demand an immediate response by the international community,” US State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert said in a statement on Sunday. “The United States continues to use all efforts available to hold those who use chemical weapons, in Syria and otherwise, accountable… The Assad regime and its backers must be held accountable and any further attacks prevented immediately.”

Russia has dismissed as “bogus” reports of the chemical gas attack in Eastern Ghouta, while Damascus maintains that it has not launched any chemical attacks.

Nauert further called on the Kremlin to stop supporting the Syrian government.

“The United States calls on Russia to end this unmitigated support immediately and work with the international community to prevent further, barbaric chemical weapons attacks,” she said.

Earlier in the day, US President Donald Trump said his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin is to blame along with Iran.

Iran has strongly condemned the use of chemical weapons by any country in any part of the world, saying claims about a chemical attack by the Syrian government in Eastern Ghouta are "conspiratorial and illogical."

Trump, military advisors clashing over Syria

The US, meanwhile, is suggesting that all options are on the table as White House homeland security adviser Tom Bossert said nothing should be taken "off the table.”

The report came not long after Trump called for withdrawal of US troops from war-ravaged Syria.

Trump has reportedly been butting heads with his military advisers who disagree with immediate withdrawal.

A similar debate over Afghanistan finally ended with Trump acquiescing to indefinite presence of US military forces there.

UNSC emergency meeting

The British mission to the United Nations has said in a tweet that the issue is being taken to the UN Security Council.

Full report at:

http://www.presstv.com/Detail/2018/04/08/557868/Tensions-mount-amid-Syria-chemical-attack

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Russia says reports of Syria's chemical attack 'bogus,' meant to shield terrorists

Apr 8, 2018

Russia’s Foreign Ministry has lambasted as “bogus” reports of a chemical gas attack allegedly conducted by the Syrian government in Eastern Ghouta, warning that any military intervention based on such “invented and fabricated excuses” could lead to severe consequences.

“The spread of bogus stories about the use of chlorine and other poisonous substances by (Syrian) government forces continues. Yet another such fabricated piece of information about an alleged chemical attack in Douma appeared yesterday,” the ministry said in a statement on Sunday.

Moscow’s reaction came a few hours after militants and activists linked to them, including the so-called civil defense group White Helmets, claimed that government forces on Saturday had dropped a barrel bomb containing poisonous chemicals in Douma, Eastern Ghouta’s largest town, killing and wounding dozens of civilians.

Damascus, in a statement released late on Saturday, strongly rejected the allegation and said that the so-called Jaish al-Islam Takfiri terrorist group, which has dominant presence in the town, was repeating the allegations of using chemical munitions “in order to accuse the Syrian Arab army, in a blatant attempt to hinder the Army’s advance.”

On Sunday, the US State Department also issued a strongly-worded statement, blaming the Syrian government for purportedly conducting the attack. It further said that Moscow was “ultimately bearing responsibility” for all chemical incidents in the Arab country, regardless of who carried them out.

The Russian Foreign Ministry, elsewhere in its statement, said that Moscow had "warned several times recently against such dangerous provocations."

"The aim of such deceitful speculation, lacking any kind of grounding, is to shield terrorists ... and to attempt to justify possible external uses of force."

It added that the “notorious” White Helmets, which has a large role in fabricating the gas attack allegation, “has been repeatedly caught acting with terrorists, as well as other so-called humanitarian organizations based in the United Kingdom and the United States.”

Meanwhile, Konstantin Kosachev, the chairman of the international affairs committee of Russia's upper house of parliament, said in a statement that reports of a purported gas attack in Douma were bogus and convenient news for the US.

“This is yet another bogus claim by ‘fakemakers’ and there is a banally obvious reason for it: to undermine the exit of Jaish al-Islam” Takfiri terrorists “from Douma and impede the offensive by Syrian government forces.”

Syria: Chemical arms claims “unconvincing broken record”

Later on Sunday, Syria's Foreign Ministry released a statement denouncing accusations about the government using chemical weapons in its war against foreign-backed militants.

"Allegations of chemical use have become an unconvincing broken record, except for some countries that trade with the blood of civilians and support terrorism in Syria," the statement, which appeared on state news agency, SANA, said.

The Syrian Foreign Ministry added, "Every time the Syrian Arab Army advances in the fight against terrorism, allegations of chemical use are used as an excuse to prolong the life of terrorists in Douma."

Eastern Ghouta, which is home to nearly 400,000 people, fell to multiple militant groups in 2012, months after Syria plunged into crisis and has since served as a launch pad for fatal attacks against residents and infrastructure in Damascus.

The area has witnessed deadly violence over the past few months, with foreign-sponsored terrorists launching mortar attacks on the Syrian capital in the face of an imminent defeat.

After days of what has been described as one of the deadliest episodes in the war against militants that has gripped Syria since 2011, Syrian forces agreed to let the militants flee to Syria's northern parts in order to save the lives of civilians caught in the crossfire.

Militant groups and their families have left different parts of Eastern Ghouta in convoys under deals with the government. The flash point has now been fully liberated with the exception of Douma, whose militants reached a deal with the government on Sunday to leave the town.

In April last year, US warships in the eastern Mediterranean launched a barrage of 59 Tomahawk missiles against Shayrat Airfield in Syria’s Homs province, which Washington alleged was the origin of a suspected chemical attack on the town of Khan Shaykhun in Syria’s Idlib province a few days earlier.

Washington has so far failed to provide any concrete evidence to support the accusations, prompting criticisms from many countries and international intuitions for choosing to take unilateral military action hastily and without proof. The strike drew the praise from anti-Damascus militant groups as well as the parties long viewed as their staunch supporters, including Saudi Arabia, Israel, and their Western allies.

The Syrian government surrendered its stockpiles of chemical weapons in 2014 to a joint mission led by the UN and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), which oversaw the destruction of the weaponry.

Western governments and their allies, however, have never stopped pointing the finger at Damascus whenever an apparent chemical attack has taken place.

Full report at:

http://www.presstv.com/Detail/2018/04/08/557827/Russia-Syria-chemical-attack-Douma

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Anti-Muslim racism has made France the Republic of Islamophobia

8 Apr 2018

Emmanuel Macron managed to beat fascist Front National (FN) leader Marine Le Pen in the French presidential election this time last year.

“It demonstrated that a majority of voters were not prepared to see an openly Islamophobic party with fascist roots take over the highest office of the state,” argues socialist author Jim Wolfreys. But Le Pen’s vote also showed “that over 10 million people were”.

Wolfreys’ new book, Republic of Islamophobia, looks at how racism against Muslims has become the defining issue that seeps into every aspect of French politics.

“Identification with Islam marks individuals out as a potential ‘foreign’ threat” held back by “a religion that breeds riots, terrorism and the subjugation of women,” he writes. And the problem is that “this kind of politics has no end point”.

The French state’s racism was brought to worldwide attention by the “burkini ban” in August 2016.

The defining moment was when four policemen, armed with batons, guns and teargas, forced a Muslim woman to strip on a beach in the southern city of Nice.

Authorities claimed that the burkini full-body swim suit was “ostentatiously religious” clothing and threatened “security, secularism and the republic”.

The cops’ actions were met with outrage and protests across the world—and were seen as a watershed moment. It was the logical consequence of the spiral of Islamophobia in French society.

This has particularly targeted a Muslim woman’s right to wear whatever she chooses.

The burkini clampdown followed bans on the hijab headscarf in schools in 2004 and the niqab face veil in all public spaces in 2011.

The spiral that Wolfreys describes has been dressed up as a fight against clerical oppression of women.

Intolerance

“Racist intolerance had found a new means to assert itself,” he writes, “seeking justifications in the language and customs of France’s secular tradition” known as laïcité.

After Islamist attacks in 2015 Socialist president Francois Hollande said schools would observe a new secular day on 9 December.

It was to mark when the law of separation of church and state was passed in 1905.

Wolfreys takes apart the idea the Islamophobic clampdown is justified under the 1905 law.

“It sought neutrality for the state, and state actors, but freedom of expression for individuals and tolerance of their views,” he writes.

But the problem is more fundamental than people misinterpreting French secularism.

The French Republican tradition was progressive during 1789 revolution.

Then the battle against clericalism was about breaking the power of the Catholic church which sought to justify the rule of the aristocracy.

Republicanism is now simply a cloak for racism and nationalism—and targets the poorest and most oppressed sections of French society.

Since debates about secularism came to the fore in the 1990s, it has been “primarily concerned with policing what Muslim women wear”.

“Put bluntly, France’s problem is not laïcité but racism” Wolfreys adds, “it has simply become the most ‘respectable’ and therefore effective means for it to be expressed today.”

The main driving force behind the rise of Islamophobia has been the West’s “war on terror” since the 9/11 attacks. Islamophobia was used to justify the West’s imperialist interventions in the Middle East and break opposition to them at home.

This was reinforced in France after the terror attacks on the Charlie Hebdo magazine in January 2015 and the Bataclan theatre in November 2015.

Hollande’s Labour-type Socialist Party government brought in a state of emergency and toyed with the idea of making it a permanent part of the constitution.

Of course targeting Muslims after terror attacks isn’t unique to France. Across the US and Europe, the war on terror has seen Muslims painted as an “enemy within”, a suspect population who must prove their loyalty to the state.

Rehabilitation

But the rot goes much deeper and is part of the rehabilitation of French colonialism that has been taking place.

“The French ‘war on terror’ predates 9/11,” explains Wolfreys. “Its origins go back to the Republic’s colonial mission, whose tropes and reflexes were revived in the early 1990s as the Algerian civil war spilled into France.”

Islamophobia was mixed in with French colonialism before the 21st century.

During the Algerian War for Independence in the 1950s forced unveiling was presented as part of imperialism bringing for women’s liberation.

And the idea of Muslims as a suspect population also builds on racist debates from the 1980s about the “integration” of immigrants from former North African colonies.

Despite being given the right to citizenship in 1945, they are still treated as foreigners.

This has combined with a broader shift to a view of citizenship and national identity as culturally based.

“The booing of the Marseillaise national anthem at a football match between France and Algeria the month after 9/11, became symbolic,” writes Wolfreys.

It supposedly showed “the threat to national identity posed by young people living in the banlieues (working class neighbourhoods on the urban outskirts)”.

Behind these broader debates lies the failure of the French ruling class to force through the free market reforms it has long desired.

Attempts to drive through attacks have seen traditional parties of right and left hollowed out and disconnected from their bases.

It was summed up by the fact that neither the right wing Les Républicans nor the Socialist Party presidential candidates made it to the second round of last year’s election.

Wolfreys explains that this flows from a gap between “an economic orthodoxy shared by mainstream parties, but not by their electorates”.

“The rise of respectable racism in the 21st century, accelerating since the 2008 financial crisis, should be seen as a product of this,” he writes.

Scapegoating

Politicians have “resorted to negative themes based on the scapegoating” to “compensate for a lack of positive affiliation to their core economic project”. Right wing president Nicholas Sarkozy was at the forefront of this strategy.

He drove the spiral of Islamophobia—and fuelled a rise in of the fascist FN.

Sarkozy could blame Muslims and migrants for ­inequality and social deprivation—but racist clampdowns would not solve them as migrants and Muslims were not to blame.

They simply made more racist clampdowns necessary.

The mainstream right could not outflank the fascists on racism. But it did pull the traditional parties, including the Socialists, and the wider debate further to the right and intensify the Islamophobic spiral.

The left has also fallen into this because it accepts most of the right’s argument about Muslims.

Even the revolutionary left has not fought against Islamophobia because its politics are tied to Republican secularism. And they don’t just fall in behind the right’s racism, they actively push it themselves.

Teachers who were members of far left LRC and LO parties were behind the expulsion of two Muslim students for wearing the niqab at a school in 2008.

The New Anticapitalist Party distanced itself from one of its own candidates who wore the niqab.

The left has not addressed the poisonous legacy of French colonialism in the working class movement.

France saw a powerful social movement—including ­anti-capitalist activists and the unions—in the 2000s.

But Muslims were treated with suspicion when they tried to get involved with the anti-capitalist activity or feminist marches.

The anti-war movement was far smaller in France than in Britain and was hampered “by putting terrorism on an equal footing with US intervention”.

And many on the French left counterposed the 2005 revolt in the banlieues to workers’ resistance to free market reforms.

Nothing is inevitable about this process—and it can be resisted. There are new organisations across France that seek to fight against Islamophobia.

While rising Islamophobia is particularly bad there, the factors behind it are not unique to France. It is a stark warning of what happens if we don’t fight Islamophobia and for a united working class.

Full report at:

https://socialistworker.co.uk/art/46391/Anti+Muslim+racism+has+made+France+the+Republic+of+Islamophobia

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North America

 

'Big price to pay,' after 'mindless' Syria attack: Trump

April 08, 2018

US President Donald Trump on Sunday said there will be a “big price to pay” after what he called a “mindless CHEMICAL attack” in Syria, allegedly involving chlorine gas.

Trump also called Syrian President Bashar al-Assad an “animal.” “President Putin, Russia and Iran are responsible for backing Animal Assad.

Big price to pay,” Trump said in a pair of tweets which began with a discussion of the attack in Syria's Eastern Ghouta, where rescue workers alleged that regime loyalists had used chlorine gas.

“Many dead, including women and children, in mindless CHEMICAL attack in Syria. Area of atrocity is in lockdown and encircled by Syrian Army, making it completely inaccessible to outside world,” the president said.

At least 80 civilians have been killed since Friday after the regime launched fresh air raids on rebel-held areas of Eastern Ghouta, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based monitor.

Syrian state media and the regime's ally Russia denounced claims of chemical use as “fabrications.” “Open area immediately for medical help and verification,” Trump said.

“Another humanitarian disaster for no reason whatsoever. SICK!”

The latest alleged attack came a year after the rebel-held town of Khan Sheikun in northwestern Syria was hit by an air strike. A UN-commissioned report said many residents of the town suffered the symptoms of an attack from an illegal nerve agent and more than 80 or them died, convulsed in agony.

Trump responded to that attack three days later, when US warships in the Mediterranean fired 59 cruise missiles at a Syrian airbase.

Assad denied ordering that attack and Russia has continued to give him diplomatic cover at the United Nations.

Trump on Sunday criticised his predecessor Barack Obama for not striking after warning that the use of chemical weapons in Syria was a “red line.”

“If President Obama had crossed his stated Red Line in The Sand, the Syrian disaster would have ended long ago! Animal Assad would have been history!” Trump said.

https://nation.com.pk/08-Apr-2018/big-price-to-pay-after-mindless-syria-attack-trump

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US, Afghan forces expand air strikes on Taliban drug labs

April 08, 2018

American and Afghan forces have expanded their air strikes against drug labs into western Afghanistan, aiming to choke Taliban revenue.

Air strikes in Afghanistan, the world’s main heroin source, also threaten civilians, however, and may not be an effective blow to the Taliban militant group, an expert on the country’s drug industry said.

The campaign targeting Afghan drug labs began as opium production jumped 87 per cent last year to a record high in Afghanistan. The Taliban, who US officials say control the drug trade, have made large territorial gains since a US troop reduction of recent years.

American and Afghan forces responded with a dramatic increase in air power since early 2017, with the number of weapons released tripling in the first two months of 2018 compared with a year earlier.

US Forces-Afghanistan (USFOR-A) and Afghan forces conducted strikes on 11 Taliban drug production facilities in the western provinces of Farah and Nimroz this week, US Forces said on Saturday. The strikes are the first in western Afghanistan and aim to reduce the Taliban’s main revenue flow, the US statement said.

“By cutting off the Taliban’s economic lifelines, we also reduce their ability to continue these terrorist activities,” said Major-General James Hecker.

Drug processing and taxation generate $200 million annually for the Taliban, US Forces-Afghanistan estimates.

The drug lab campaign began in November, and has now included 75 strikes, especially in Helmand, the main poppy-growing province. The poppy’s fluid, opium, is processed into heroin.

However, David Mansfield, an authority on Afghanistan’s opium industry, says bombing labs has a negligible effect on Taliban revenues, because heroin profits and taxes are not as large as US Forces estimate and the simple labs can be quickly rebuilt.

Calling strikes on drug labs “the theatre of counter-narcotics,” Mansfield said the risk of civilian deaths may be greater than potential benefits of curbing Taliban revenues.

“There has been little account of the number of casualties attributed to the bombing of drugs labs,” he said in an email to Reuters. “And in contrast to the narrative of USFOR-A, those that work in labs are not seen as Taliban but as civilians” by rural Afghans.

US Forces-Afghanistan could not be reached for response to Mansfield’s critique.

Full report at:

https://nation.com.pk/08-Apr-2018/us-afghan-forces-expand-air-strikes-on-taliban-drug-labs

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US, allies set up more Syria posts, risking standoff with Turkey

Apr 6, 2018

The United States and allies Britain and France have been setting up new outposts in northeastern Syria, despite a lack of permission from Damascus to have military presence in sovereign Syrian territory.

Officials from a coalition of Arab and Kurdish militants operating in northeastern Syria said Friday that they had been witnessing increased activity by Western forces in the region, adding that military forces from the US, Britain, and France had been setting up new bases around the city of Manbij.

“The United States and France have increased the number of their military in Manbij,” said Helil Bozi, the commander of the so-called Military Council of Manbij of the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). He said British forces, too, had been deployed to the same territories.

Bozi, whose ragtag militant group has been allied to US forces over the past years, said the increased presence was clearly a bid to counter a potential Turkish military offensive into Manbij, as Ankara has vowed to expand its operation from areas in the northwest of Syria, where it has been battling Kurdish militants, to the east.

“The US has deployed its Special Forces units near the Sajur River, thereby setting a red line the crossing of which will be seen by the [US-led] coalition forces as an attack and will prompt retaliatory actions,” he said.

Bozi added that the increased presence proved that the US had no intention of leaving the Kurdish-dominated territories in northern Syria — as demanded by Turkey.

Other Kurdish official confirmed the increased military presence of coalition forces in the region, saying US, British, and French forces had also been deployed to Tell Abyad, Dayr al-Zawr, Raqqah, and Tabqa.

The increased deployment comes despite US President Donald Trump’s earlier expression of his tendency to withdraw US forces from Syria “very soon.” He was reportedly later persuaded by his top aides to take back that stance.

Images of new US bases in Manbij have confirmed earlier plans by the Pentagon to expand US presence in Syria.

US military officials said, however, that the new deployments were not against Trump’s will for a pullout, saying they were necessary to adapt to the operational needs of the military on the ground.

The US has reportedly more than 2,000 troops stationed in eastern Syria, in addition to several thousand others in the Arab country’s north.

Full report at:

http://www.presstv.com/Detail/2018/04/06/557603/US-military-presence-Syria-Manbij-Turkey-standoff

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YouTube suspends Canadian anti-terror expert

April 8, 2018

Canadian intelligence expert Tom Quiggin has quite the resume. He’s worked with the RCMP, Canadian Armed Forces, the UN Protection Force in Yugoslavia, to name but a few. He’s testified before the Senate and at the Air India Inquiry. He was even an arms control inspector in Europe.

Yet, these extensive qualifications apparently aren’t enough for YouTube, which removed Quiggin’s new podcast from its platform before he even posted the first episode.

On Feb. 24, a trailer for The Quiggin Report — running less than a minute — was posted to the video platform now run by Google. All it shows is the logo of the show and snippets of audio referencing extremism and political correctness. Hardly controversial content.

Yet by March 1, Quiggin and his producers were unable to access their accounts – both on YouTube and the Gmail account they’d been using for the show.

They then received a message stating: “Your access to this Google product has been suspended because of a perceived violation of either the Google Terms of Service or product-specific Terms of Service.”

After appealing the suspension they were soon told: “We have decided to keep your account suspended based on our Community Guidelines and Terms of Service.” They were never informed what actual guidelines or terms they’d violated.

“We really are at a loss to explain how a 44-second trailer can get you banned, but we believe that simply using the term “free speech” in conjunction with security, extremism and terrorism can trigger progressives,” Quiggin told me via e-mail.

A long-time media commentator, Quiggin has been a guest speaker at a number of conferences and regular discusses intelligence matters on National Post Radio, the SiriusXM Canada morning show that I host.

Quiggin’s a determined observer and critic of radical Islam, working alongside a handful of Canadian Muslims who want to expose the extreme elements they wish to eradicate from their faith.

A fundraising page describes the new podcast as giving “behind-the-scenes insight into the world of intelligence and how Western governments deal with the growing phenomenon of extremist groups gaining influence within Western governments.”

He certainly doesn’t mince words in this regard, repeatedly drawing attention to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s habit of being soft on terror. Was it this sort of talk that got his podcast banned before his team even had the chance to post the first episode? We just don’t know. Google Press did not respond to Postmedia questions before deadline.

As for Quiggin, he sees a double standard. “It seems strange that YouTube and others attack free speech advocates, but yet they allow videos by individuals such as Yusuf Qaradawi who is the chief inspirational cleric of the Muslim Brotherhood,” he wrote.

A double standard indeed. There’s already a growing chorus of concern over YouTube censorship. It’s a problem that’s been going on for years and only seems to be getting worse.

Those on the receiving end of such perceived censorship have generally taken to just venting their frustrations online. But last week one woman took her grievances with the company to extreme and criminal lengths, allegedly shooting multiple people at YouTube headquarters before killing herself. Police are still combing through the background of animal rights activist Nasim Aghdam, but her family claimed she was mad at YouTube for their “suppression.”

Full report at:

http://torontosun.com/news/national/youtube-suspends-canadian-anti-terror-expert

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Arab World

 

Syria Crisis: Jaish al-Islam to Leave Douma in Return for Releasing Prisoners

April 8, 2018

Moscow/ Beirut: An agreement has been reached to release all prisoners held by Syrian rebels controlling the eastern Ghouta city of Douma in return for the fighters' leaving the city, Syrian state television reported on Sunday, citing an official source.

According to the agreement, Jaish al-Islam fighters will leave Douma for the northern city of Jarablus, near the borders with Turkey, within 48 hours, the source added.

There was no immediate comment from Jaish al-Islam, which control the city.

The rebel group has more than 3,500 prisoners and hostages in its prisons in Douma, Rami Abdulrahman, the director of the U.K.-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group, told Reuters. Five prisoners were released on Wednesday, after earlier departures by Jaish al-Islam fighters.

Russian news agency RIA, citing a security source, said Jaish al-Islam rebels will leave Douma in two batches in the coming hours.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has regained control of nearly all of eastern Ghouta in a Russian-backed military campaign that began in February, leaving just Douma in rebel hands. Tens of thousands of people are estimated to be sheltering in the battered city.

After a lull of a few days, government forces began bombarding Douma again on Friday.

On Saturday evening, Jaish al-Islam accused the Syrian government of carrying out a chemical attack on Douma that a medical relief organisation and rescue workers say killed dozens of people. The government has denied carrying out any such attack.

The offensive in Ghouta has been one of the deadliest of the seven-year-long war, killing more than 1,600 civilians, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

The conquest of Douma would further strengthen Assad's political and ground position, as it recaptures the biggest rebel enclave near Damascus.

The rebel groups controlling the eastern Ghouta area had shelled the capital's neighbourhoods almost daily in the past few months, inflicting casualties and damages.

https://www.news18.com/news/world/syria-crisis-jaish-al-islam-to-leave-douma-in-return-for-releasing-prisoners-1711821.html

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Daesh’s ideology still threatens Iraq: PM

08.04.2018

By Haydar Hadi

BAGHDAD

The Daesh terror group’s ideology is still a threat in Iraq even though the fight against terrorism has ended in military terms, the country’s prime minister said Saturday.

“Our land war with Daesh has ended. We have saved all the land of our country and taken control of the Syrian border. But the danger of Daesh’s ideology and sleeper cells remains. I should warn everyone about that,” Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said in a speech at a meeting of the Islamic Dawa Party, Iraq’s ruling party.

“Iraqi officials had told me the war against Daesh might take up to 10 years, but we overcame it in a short time”, he said.

Abadi alluded to the term of former Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki in criticizing corruption in the country. He said during that period, corruption was at its peak in Iraq and sectarian policies had led to terrorism and violence.

“We will call everyone to account. We want the public’s support in this great change,” he said.

Daesh began losing control over land it had captured after reaching its peak at the end of 2014, when it occupied two-thirds of Syrian territory.

The collapse of Raqqa, its self-proclaimed capital, on Oct. 17 marked the symbolic end of the Islamic terrorist organization.

Full report at:

https://aa.com.tr/en/middle-east/daesh-s-ideology-still-threatens-iraq-pm/1111643

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Egypt army says it killed 4 jihadists in Sinai

8 April 2018

CAIRO, Egypt — Egypt’s military said on Sunday it has killed four jihadists in Sinai in recent days, in an ongoing campaign to quash the terrorists based in the peninsula.

Two suspected jihadists and 250 “wanted and suspected criminals” have been arrested, it said in a statement.

More than 100 jihadists and at least 22 soldiers have been killed in the wider-ranging operation launched on February 9, according to army figures.

Security forces have sought to quell attacks by an Egyptian terror group that later declared allegiance to the Islamic State group (IS) since the military ousted Islamist president Mohamed Morsi in 2013, following mass protests against him.

The group has killed hundreds of soldiers, policemen and civilians, mainly in its North Sinai stronghold but also elsewhere in Egypt. The jihadists have also killed scores of Christians in church bombings and shootings.

The army launched a sweeping campaign after recently reelected Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi gave it a three-month deadline to crush IS in Sinai. He issued his ultimatum in November after suspected IS gunmen massacred more than 300 worshipers in a Sinai mosque associated with Sufi Muslim mystics.

The jihadists have killed hundreds of soldiers, policemen and civilians, mainly in North Sinai but also elsewhere in Egypt.

They have also killed scores of Christians in church bombings and shootings, as well as bombing a Russian airliner carrying tourists from an Egyptian resort in 2015, killing all 224 people on board.

Full report at:

https://www.timesofisrael.com/egypt-army-says-it-killed-4-jihadists-in-sinai/

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Syrian Army Frees Vital Region in Eastern Ghouta

Apr 08, 2018

The army soldiers managed to impose control over al-Reihan settlement near the town of Douma before they agree with Jeish al-Islam's demand for a halt in the army's operation and to resume fresh talks.

Jeish al-Islam lost a number of fighters in the attack and the remaining pockets of them retreated towards Douma.

The army soldiers further managed to take control of a main road connecting Ibn Sina Hospital and the town of Douma.

The road was one of the main supplying lines of terrorists in the region. 

Earlier today, Jeish al-Islam terrorist group demanded fresh talks with the Syrian Army after they violated the evacuation agreement that they had signed with the Damascus government this week and killed scores of civilians in mortar attacks on the capital.

Reports from Eastern Ghouta said the Syrian Army has agreed with Jeish al-Islam's demand for fresh talks in Douma in an effort to save civilian lives and in pursuit of efforts to release the people kidnaped by the terrorist group.

Some sources says the talks would start in hours from now, adding that one of the conditions of the army to enter talks is an immediate halt in terrorists' mortar attack on civilians.

The sources further said that a delegation from the Russian Reconciliation Center for Syria has entered Douma from al-Wafedeen safe corridor for talks with Jeish al-Islam's delegation.

The Syrian army has captured all territories held by various terrorist groups in Eastern Ghouta, East of the capital, except for Douma, the main stronghold of the Saudi-backed Jeish Al-Islam terrorist group.

After the Damascus army swept through all the region and laid siege on Douma, it offered a relocation plan to Jeish Al-Islam, a protocole that has long been in force ever since the army won the momentum in defeating the terrorist groups in various parts of the country three years ago.

The militants agreed to the terms and allowed some of the wounded to leave the city, but as was suspected, they violated the terms in the last two days and launched more than a dozen rocket attacks on the capital.

Later reports said that the Jeish al-Islam prevented a large number of civilians from leaving Douma in Eastern Ghouta for safe zones, using them as human shield to save its gunmen as the army is on march in the region.

The terrorists have opened fire at civilians that have been protesting against Jeish al-Islam in Eastern Ghouta and calling for the pullout of militants and deployment of the army in their region.

The Syrian army moved fast in response and swept through the suburbs of the town and deployed troops at the gates of Douma. The army was advancing against terrorists in several flanks near Douma, and came close to a full victory over Jeish al-Islam.

The terrorists have resorted to every possible measure including frequent suicide attacks to prevent the army from advancing.   

The terrorists then resorted to a false-flag operation - that had long been warned against by both Russia and Damascus - on Sunday morning to accuse the Syrian army of a chemical attack in reprisal and incite a global outcry against the Damascus government to force the government troops to stop their raids.

Speaking on the developments in the key town, Middle-East and World Analyst Seyed Mostafa Khoshcheshm told FNA that the Jeish al-Islam's move seems to be a second play of an old game.

"A similar false-flag staged in Eastern Ghouta in 2013 worked well and gave a pretext to the then US President, Barack Obama, to move naval fleets to the Mediterranean for war on Syria, but a prompt plan by Moscow that envisaged a chemical disarmament of Syria under the auspices of the United Nations defused the US-Saudi plot," he reminded.

Full report at:

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13970119001243

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Syrian Army Purges More Territories of Terrorists Near US-Held Al-Tanf Region

Apr 08, 2018

Syria's al-Watan daily quoted the field sources as reporting that the army units managed to advance in the depth of Eastern Homs Badiyeh towards al-Tanf region that is home to a US-run airbase, adding that the army men imposed control over more points near Mount al-Qorab 50 km Northwest of al-Tanf region.

The army had previously seized Mount al-Qorab in an operation.

The daily further reported that the army exchanged fire with the ISIL terrorists near al-Mo'ayzileh region in Eastern Badiyeh.

The army units further clashed with ISIL in the Eastern part of al-Alyaniyeh region in Eastern Homs.

Also, the Syrian Air Force pounded terrorists' positions in Eastern Homs, inflicting major losses on the militants.

In a relevant development last month, the Syrian army dispatched a large number of forces and military hardware to Badiyeh of Homs to reinvigorate security of its key positions amid reports on the deployment of more US forces in al-Tanf base in Southeastern Homs.

The sources said that the army forwarded more troops and equipment from Palmyra (Tadmur) city towards Southern Badiyeh of Homs and near the town of al-Quaryatayn.

The sources further said that the army intended to create a strong security belt around al-Quaryatayn, Hawarin and the Mahin strategic region.

The sources added that the army widened the buffer zone around al-Quaryatayn to 80 km in the Eastern and Southern directions to prevent infiltration of terrorist groups in the region.

Full report at:

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13970119001280

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Syria: Turkey-Backed Militants Sent to Western Aleppo to Face Rival Terrorists

Apr 08, 2018

Over 400 militants of the Free Syrian Army affiliated to the Turkish army were sent to the town of Dar al-Izzah in Western Aleppo in two convoys.

The dispatched troops are to face Tahrir al-Sham that intended to capture Dar al-Izzah.

A seven-day long ceasefire has been declared between Tahrir al-Sham and Syria's Tahrir Front in Aleppo and Idlib provinces after months of bloody clashes.

In a relevant development on Thursday a militant group affiliated to Syria's Tahrir Front stormed the positions of Tahrir al-Sham Hay'at rival terrorist group in Western Aleppo.

Sources reported that gunmen of Nouralddeen al-Zinki, affiliated to Syria's Tahrir Front, launched a heavy assault on Tahrir al-Sham Hay'at near the town of Dar al-Izzah and managed to capture Basraton settlement and its surrounding areas after Tahrir Al-Sham withdrew further West of Dar al-Izzah.

Pro-Zinki activists also claimed that at least five militants from Tahrir Al-Sham were killed during the advance.

Full report at:

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13970119001213

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Four killed in ISIS suicide attack on Iraq party HQ

9 April 2018

A suicide attack targeting a political party headquarters in western Iraq has killed four people and injured seven others, including a candidate in polls set for May, officials said on Sunday.

The ISIS group issued a statement claiming the attack, which took place late Saturday in the tribal desert province of Al-Anbar.

A local security official told AFP on condition of anonymity that “two suicide bombers disguised as soldiers entered the Al-Hal Party headquarters”, a prominent party in the region.

One of the attackers “detonated his explosive belt while political leaders held a meeting” at the campaign headquarters in the city of Hit, about 200 kilometers west of Baghdad, General Qassam al-Mohammadi, head of army operations in the area, told AFP.

Candidate wounded

“Three members of the security forces were killed and seven people, including candidate Zineb Abdel Hamid al-Hiti, were wounded,” he said.

A municipal employee on Sunday also succumbed to injuries sustained in the attack, the anonymous official said.

He said the second attacker detonated his belt shortly after the first, but did not cause any casualties.

Medical sources confirmed the death toll of four and said candidate Hiti had been hospitalized with light injuries.

For three years, ISIS ruled the province, which stretches from the western periphery of the capital to the border with war-torn Syria.

In December, Baghdad declared “victory” against ISIS after retaking the group’s last urban stronghold in Al-Anbar.

But according to experts, militants are still hiding along the porous border with Syria and in parts of the Iraqi desert.

Elections held in Iraq since the US-led invasion in 2003 and the fall of Saddam Hussein’s regime have all been marred by deadly violence.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2018/04/09/Four-killed-in-ISIS-suicide-attack-on-Iraq-party-HQ-.html

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Africa

 

Libya shaken after bodies of kidnapped children found

April 09, 2018

TRIPOLI - Libyans mourned Sunday after the discovery of the bodies of three small children from the same family kidnapped in 2015 on their way to school near the capital. Investigators said that based on the confession of one of their kidnappers, the children’s decomposed bodies were found on Saturday buried in a forest south of the town of Sorman.

An armed group kidnapped the three, aged between five and 12, on their way to school in Sorman, 70 kilometres (45 miles) west of Libya’s capital Tripoli. Their mother and a driver were with the children at the time of the attack, in which the driver was shot and wounded. The kidnappers had demanded a ransom from the Shershari family but negotiations failed and the children were killed a month later, investigators said.

They said the family had heard nothing of the children’s fate until one of the suspected kidnappers was arrested in March.

 The municipality in Sorman declared three days of mourning after the discovery of the children’s bodies, and most schools remained closed on Sunday.

“All Libyans are shocked and horrified by this atrocious crime,” said Fayez al-Sarraj, head of Libya’s internationally-recognised unity government. He vowed to bring the perpetrators to justice.

Libya has been wracked by chaos since a 2011 uprising that toppled and killed its long-time dictator Moamer Kadhafi, with two rival authorities vying for control. Kidnappers, jihadists and people-traffickers have taken advantage of the turmoil to gain a foothold in the North African country.

https://nation.com.pk/09-Apr-2018/libya-shaken-after-bodies-of-kidnapped-children-found

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Teachers' exodus aids al Shabaab

Apr. 09, 2018

The acute shortage of teachers in Garissa, Wajir and Mandera counties is a ticking time bomb. Most public schools are either understaffed or lack teachers due to an exodus of non-Somali teachers following terrorist attacks allegedly targetting them. Some schools are on verge of closure.

The issue was hyped when 28 Kenyans, 17 of them teachers, were killed by terrorists who ambushed a bus on November 22, 2014. Teachers were not the target; teachers happened to be the majority passengers. Since then terror has become the major justification for transfers by non-Somali teachers in these three counties.

On February 22 this year, Teachers’ Service Commission CEO Nancy Macharia told the Parliamentary Committee on Education it was transferring non-local tutors following a terrorist attack in Qarsa village, Wajir, on February 16. Four people, among them three teachers, were shot dead by militants. This has been met with resistance by the local communities and leaders.

A recent advert for new recruits received massive response from applicants from outside the region. Reports now indicate that most teachers leaving Northeastern only applied for the jobs before seeking transfers to their home subcounties. In Mandera, for instance, not all the six subcounties are affected by terrorist attacks, but even teachers in secure areas are leaving.

Only teachers employed by the TSC are leaving, those in private schools continue to discharge their responsibilities. Most private schools in Wajir, Mandera and Garissa are taught by non-Somali teachers. So the big question is, what is the motivation for the exodus of TSC-employed teachers?

Further, there are private schools owned by non-Somalis whose teachers have not left. The owners and teachers affirm that terrorists not only target non-locals but local teachers as well. Non-Somali civil servants, NGO employees and business people have not left either.

TSC’s casual withdrawal of teachers without a comprehensive long-term plan to address the problem, may be a recipe for radicalisation and more attacks.

Experiences from other parts that have suffered attacks tell a different story. Terrorism, and crime in general, has not been common to Northeastern alone, but other parts such as Mombasa, Kwale, Kilifi, Tana River and Lamu.

Parts of Mombasa and Kwale counties experienced insecurity at the height of the clamour for secession by the Mombasa Republican Council. However, the areas did not grapple with the problem of teachers’ exodus. The same goes for areas ravaged by inter-clan feuds and cattle rustling attacks such as Turkana, Pokot and Tana River. There is more than meets the eye in the Northeastern exodus.

The government needs to draft a blueprint to turn around education in Northeastern. This should focus on recruiting O level school leavers to teachers’ training colleges. It should lower entry grades for P1 teachers from C, establish more training colleges from the current two and improve the terms of teachers in hardship areas.

The TSC must come up with a policy where teachers posted in the region have to stay for a particular period before they can be transferred. The government should consider reintroducing hardship allowance. The two levels of the government could introduce scholarships for those pursuing the teaching career to increase enrolment.

The recent Mandera Teachers’ Training College provides the best hope of addressing the shortage throughout Northeastern. Efforts must be made to support this initiative.

Full report at:

https://www.the-star.co.ke/news/2018/04/09/teachers-exodus-aids-al-shabaab_c1740551

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Double car bomb attacks kill 3 in Mogadishu

07 April 2018

At least three people were killed and three wounded in a double suicide car bomb attack in the Somali capital on Friday, officials said.

Abdifatah Omar Halle, spokesman for the Banadir region administration, told Anadolu Agency that the first attack was a suicide car bomb blast targeting a security checkpoint near the KM4 intersection in Mogadishu, killing one civilian and wounding three soldiers.

"Seconds later another attack took place at KM5 Street, and one attacker and one soldier were killed," Halle said.

The second attack was also a suicide car bomber, but preceded by gunfire between the soldiers and the attacker.

No group has yet claimed the attacks, but Hallane accused terrorist group al-Shabaab of being responsible.

Friday’s attack comes a day after a landmine in Mogadishu killed two civilians and wounded nine others, according to local emergency services in Mogadishu.

Full report at:

http://www.worldbulletin.net/africa/200791/police-confirm-10-killed-in-central-nigeria

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Police confirm 10 killed in central Nigeria

07 April 2018

10 corpses have been recovered from two villages in central Nigeria’s Benue state following a Thursday night attack by armed bandits, a police spokesman said on Friday.

“Eight dead bodies were found in the bush around the villages of Tse-Audu and Enger in Gwer West local government, in addition to two bodies that were earlier removed from the same area,” Benue police spokesman Moses Iyamu said in a statement.

Iyamu said a police surveillance team had exchanged gunfire with the bandits in the area, adding that efforts are underway to return to normalcy there.

On Thursday, federal lawmakers from Benue claimed that 24 people have been killed in the state over the last few days, calling for full military deployment in the agrarian state where farmers and herders are locked in internecine combat that has claimed hundreds of lives in recent months.

Full report at:

http://www.worldbulletin.net/africa/200800/police-confirm-10-killed-in-central-nigeria

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US intensifies attacks on Al-Shabaab

April 7, 2018

By MARGARET NJUGUNAH, NAIROBI, Kenya, Apr 7 – United States Forces are still pilling pressure on Al-Shabaab terrorists who have continued to stage attacks in war-torn Somalia and the region.

This week, in coordination with the Federal Government of Somalia, US Forces conducted an airstrike against the militants near Jilib, Somalia, killing three terrorists and destroying one vehicle with a mounted heavy machine gun.

In a statement by the US Africa Command, the Forces have committed to partnering with AMISOM and Somali National Security Forces in combined counterterrorism operations.

“We assess no civilians were killed in this airstrike,” read the statement.

Kenya issued a 16 million bounty on 8 terrorists based in Somalia on Friday. The 8 are terror suspects are believed to have been planning to infiltrate Kenya.

Full report at:

https://www.capitalfm.co.ke/news/2018/04/us-intensifies-attacks-al-shabaab/

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Boko Haram should be given conditional pardon – Onaiyekan

April 8, 2018

By Wale Odunsi

The Catholic Archbishop of Abuja, John Cardinal Onaiyekan has advocated conditional pardon for Boko Haram.

Onaiyekan stated this while delivering his homily at a mass celebrated to jointly mark the Divine Mercy solemnity and the 2018 Mothers’ Day in Abuja on Sunday.

He said: “A lot of negative occurrences are going on in our country, and we are scared because God may descend on us in anger.

“If He doesn’t, it is because of his mercy and forgiveness. So we need to pay attention to mutual forgiveness. We must find a way to wash each other’s wounds.

“We have continually hurt each other in ways that polarize the nation along religious and ethnic lines. If we admit our need for God’s mercy, then, we must forgive each other.

Full report at:

http://dailypost.ng/2018/04/08/boko-haram-given-condition-pardon-onaiyekan/

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Mideast

 

Funding Hezbollah terror, paid for by depriving struggling citizens

8 April 2018

With the Iranian people taking part in widespread demonstrations throughout the country, many of their grievances have been focused on the immense cost of foreign wars to the Iranian economy. Much of the cost stems from a vast amount of funds being channelled into the coffers of both Hezbollah and Bashar al-Assad’s war machine.

This cash is blown on funding the formers proxy war effort in Syria, Iraq and Yemen, as well as paying for its war against Israel, and the upkeep of its infrastructure within Lebanon. While for the latter, it comes in the form of propping up a vile dictator’s beleaguered regime in a bid to save him from annihilation, while back home the Iranian people pay the price through deprivation.

According to Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani, his latest budget was aimed at working toward full employment, eliminating poverty, and creating social justice. But as far as any of those goals are concerned, the methods put in place to attain them, which comprise of slashing subsidies on basic goods; including food, gas and electricity, which will mean the price of fuel rising by 50 percent, and with the price of poultry and eggs having already risen by 40 percent, adding this to the cutting of cash handouts to low income families, it seems to be a very odd way to attain such policies.

While at the other end of the spectrum, a vast amount of money has been allocated from state funds to religious charities, which are mainly in the hands of the regime, with many controlled directly by Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, and there is also $7.4 billion that has been assigned to the military, going mainly to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and the Organization for the Basij, plus an increase for Iran’s ballistic missile program, and a vast sum to the Quds Force – the IRGC’s elite unit – which is charged with exporting revolution, quite often through its proxy militia Hezbollah, which is also handsomely funded by the regime.

With around 50,000 militia fighters in the ranks of Hezbollah, Iran is believed by some analysts to fund it to the tune of $300 million a year, although many now believe the sum is more like $1 billion. Within Lebanon itself, as Hezbollah has grown in stature, its funds boosted enormously by Iran, as well as various multi-million-dollar fundraising activities amongst Shiite diasporas, which include centrally-run enterprises in the Middle East, Africa, Southeast Asia, North America, South America and Europe, it has continued to thrive.

Social programs

Wherever the party decides to settle, in whatever country across the globe, it soon finds enthusiastic support amongst the Shiite community, due to the vast number of social programs it finances; which include schools, hospitals and various other public utilities, all funded as a façade to cover up its murderous activities, to bring in new recruits as cannon fodder for terror attacks, with much of the cash financing it coming at the expense of the Iranian poor.

Whenever necessary, the group will stoop to bribing those it wishes to influence, both at home and abroad. In Lebanon itself, both in the community, and in parts of the national administration, Hezbollah has managed to maintain a certain amount of respectability for its political party amongst its hard-line supporters.

Due to its often-spouted claim of being the only armed group that has truly stood up to Israel, it has been able to use its so-called claim to fame, to hoodwink its more ardent followers into allowing it to use Lebanon as a base for its terrorist activities.

But such is the wealth that is needed to fulfil its financial needs, the Lebanese terror group also runs a vast criminal enterprise throughout the globe, which includes deep connections to the Colombian and Mexican drug cartels, through which Hezbollah facilitates the distribution of drugs across the entire Middle East, Western Europe and the US. Through its connections with the Taleban, the group swaps heroin it receives from its Afghan drug partners, with cocaine received in South America from its associates there, effectively cornering both markets.

Hezbollah is also connected to vast counterfeiting rackets, which deal in car parts, DVDs, clothes, pharmaceuticals and forged cash. A vast amount of the cash made from these illicit activities, is then laundered through the sale of cars to Africa, as well as through its second-hand car dealerships in the USA, which eventually finds its way back to Hezbollah’s accounts in Lebanon.

With the Hezbollah having a powerful home base in Lebanon, its structure contains a powerful paramilitary wing, which since its inception, has been regarded by its dwindling supporters in the Arab world as being a resistance movement, while most see it as a terror movement, that has caused disruption throughout the area, through carrying out a long string of terror attacks at the behest of its Iranian paymaster.

In the 1980s, Hezbollah was just a fledgling guerrilla group, but through the guidance of Iran, and through the expert training of the IRGC Qods Force, Hezbollah’s militia army has become more powerful than the Lebanese military.

In reality, today’s Hezbollah is nothing more than a well-structured terror force, led by a bunch of top-notch hard-line commanders, who have been brainwashed into following the ideology of Khomeini, and due to its unwavering commitment to the Iranian regime, has been honed to perfection by the IRGC in the art of asymmetric warfare, and equipped at great expense with the latest high-tech weaponry.

Political wing

Another side to its structure is its political wing, which through both Syrian and Iranian backing has grown vastly in stature, and with the organization now having seats in the Lebanese government, it also runs its own radio, Nur, and also a satellite television station, Al-Manar (the lighthouse), which is watched throughout the Arab world.

The organisation also publishes its own newspapers and magazines, has its own book publishing venture to print books, all in line with the Iranian regime’s ideological requirements.

Hezbollah’s Al Manar satellite television network is believed to cost more than $15-million a year to run, which of course is said to be paid for by Iran. Through Al Manar, Nur, and use of the internet, Hezbollah preaches its messages of Iranian-inspired hate, and through the use of these media organs, it has the perfect hub with which to relay propaganda across the air waves, reaching all of those it wishes to influence.

Just like any legitimate state, Hezbollah’s political wing has its own police force patrolling the streets of its South Beirut stronghold, dressed professionally in khaki fatigues, and they also have a justice system based on Sharia law. When it comes to children, the organisation has a youth wing known as the Imam al-Mahdi Scouts, this group has branches in the Shiite communities of Beirut, the Beqa’a Valley and South Lebanon.

But this is no ordinary scout group, as its young members, aged between 8 and 16 dress in army fatigues, are indoctrinated with radical Shiite Islam - which takes in the Twelver apocalyptic beliefs connected to the return of the Mahdi – and these recruits are also taught how to use firearms, and also take part in military parades.

Another way in which Hezbollah attract youths to the group, is by running youth clubs, as well as football teams. Then just to make sure that those indoctrinated within its ranks, remain tightly within the fold, the organisation has even setup a matrimonial agency, and through its comprehensive structure, Hezbollah is able to look out for its members from cradle to the grave.

Within Lebanon, Hezbollah is considered a state within a state, as it controls around 25 percent of the national territory, and due to its social programs, the organisation has maintained a very strong grassroots support among the local population.

Its well-constructed social program has been carefully designed to win hearts and minds, and with somewhere in the region of 400,000 of Lebanon’s estimated 4m population living under its control, Hezbollah collects its own taxes, and using its vast resources to run health clinics, hospitals, and centres setup for orphans and widows, it also runs schools which have syllabuses that have been constructed in Iran in the Shiite tradition.

Having built itself up as a crucial player in Lebanese politics on both a local and national level, Hezbollah has become a powerful partner in the government, and even with its leader’s constant extremist outbursts, it still claims to be a legitimate political party, always denying any connection to terrorism, which both the West, most of the Middle East, and Israel cannot accept.

With its deceitful rhetoric now only believed by diehard supporters, the war in Syria has shown it to be the true monster it really is, while all of its murderous acts are being subsidised by the deprived population of Iran.

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/perspective/features/2018/04/08/ANALYSIS-Funding-Hezbollah-terror-paid-for-by-depriving-its-struggling-citizens.html

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Turkey: Scholars urge action to tackle Islamophobia

08.04.2018

By Handan Kazanci

ISTANBUL

A conference on Islamophobia in Istanbul featuring scholars from around the world concluded on Sunday.

The three-day conference, hosted by the Center for Islam and Global Affairs at Sabahattin Zaim University, was based on the theme “Contextualizing Islamophobia: Its Impact on Culture and Global Politics".

“Islamophobia is not an accident, people just don’t fall into Islamophobia, it is being pushed,” said Salman Sayyid, a scholar from the University of Leeds.

Sayyid called on the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) to take up the issue on a serious note.

According to Sayyid, the Muslim world should not limit itself to the ideas put forward by nationalism.

Hatem Bazian, a scholar from the University of California-Berkeley, said there was an urgent need for a fund to tackle Islamophobia.

“Islamophobia systematically targets individuals and institutions,” Bazian said.

Burak Erdenir, the deputy permanent delegate of Turkey’s delegation to the EU, gave the example of Jewish and Armenian lobbies in the U.S.

“The Muslim world should be well organized,” Erdenir said, adding that Muslims should create their own art, movie, and literature to fight Islamophobia.

Featuring scholars from countries such as Turkey, the U.S., Qatar, the U.K., Austria, Myanmar and Singapore, the conference focused on the effects of Islamophobia on culture, society, politics, and international relations.

Full report at:

https://f.aa.com.tr/en/turkey/turkey-scholars-urge-action-to-tackle-islamophobia/1112278

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Turkish accession to EU will benefit Muslim world: EU Ministry

April 07 2018

Turkey’s prospective accession to the European Union will benefit the Muslim world, said a senior official from Turkey’s Ministry of EU Affairs on April 7.

“Turkey will be a bridge between the West and the Muslim world because Turkey has proved that it is a democracy, it has a constitution based on secularism and on the other hand it is a Muslim majority country,” said Burak Erdenir, the deputy permanent delegate of Turkey’s delegation to the EU.

“Turkey’s membership to the EU will be an antidote to Islamophobia,” Erdenir added.

His remarks came at a three-day conference, hosted by the Center for Islam and Global Affairs at Istanbul’s Sabahattin Zaim University, with the theme “Contextualizing Islamophobia: Its Impact on Culture and Global Politics.”

Erdenir recalled the announcement of the launch of Turkey’s accession talks in 2004. “There were more than 100 journalists from Muslim countries for the coverage of the news because it is a big issue for the Muslim countries.”

Turkey applied for membership in the European Economic Community (a precursor to the EU) in 1987. It became eligible for EU membership in 1997 and accession talks began in 2005.

Erdenir noted that migration has become a dominant issue in the western European societies.

“The role of Turkey is important in that sense,” Erdenir said.

“At the end of the day, Turkey would also be a facilitator in understanding the issues of the migrants and it would contribute to European policy-making process in implementing and solving their issue.”

Full report at:

http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/turkish-accession-to-eu-will-benefit-muslim-world-eu-ministry-129932

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Israeli jets target Gaza position after 'infiltration attempt'

AFPApril 09, 2018

Israeli fighter jets targeted a Hamas “military target” in northern Gaza on Monday in response to Palestinians infiltrating the border and laying bombs the previous day, the army said.

There were no immediate reports of damage or casualties from Gaza.

The Israeli strike came a day after suspects crossed the northern Gaza border fence, leaving “explosive devices” that were found by the army.

The border fence between the Palestinian enclave and Israel has become the backdrop of mass Gaza demonstrations that lead to deadly clashes.

Israel has faced mounting questions over its use of live fire after 10 days of protests and clashes along the Gaza Strip border in which its forces have killed 30 Palestinians, according to Gaza's health ministry.

Israel says it opens fire when necessary to stop damage to the border fence, infiltrations and attempted attacks.

It alleges Hamas, the Palestinian movement that runs the Gaza Strip and with whom it has fought three wars since 2008, is seeking to use the protests as cover to carry out violence.

“The IDF (Israeli Defence Forces) views with great severity the Hamas terror organisation endeavours to turn the security fence parameter into a combat zone while attempting to damage security and defence infrastructure,” the army said in its Monday statement.

Rights groups have harshly criticised Israeli soldiers' actions, and Palestinians say protesters are being shot while posing no threat to troops.

Full report at:

https://www.dawn.com/news/1400543/israeli-jets-target-gaza-position-after-infiltration-attempt

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Turkey deports hundreds of Afghan migrants

April 09, 2018

ISTANBUL: Turkey was on Sunday deporting hundreds of Afghan migrants back home on special flights, in a major operation after thousands illegally entered the country in recent weeks.

Early on Sunday morning 227 Afghan migrants boarded a chartered flight from Erzurum in northeastern Turkey back to Kabul, the Dogan news agency said.

It said a total of 691 Afghan migrants would be deported this week with two more flights expected from Erzurum to Kabul later. The flights are being provided by an Afghan airline.

Dogan news agency quoted migration officials in Erzurum as saying Turkey planned to deport all 3,000 Afghan migrants who were currently in Erzurum.

In Kabul, officials denied that the refugees were being deported, insisting they were coming back home at their own choice.

“A number of Afghan refugees are coming back to the country of their own will,” said Islamuddin Jurat, spokesman for the ministry of refugees and repatriation.

“They are the ones who wanted to use Turkey as a transit route to other countries, but when they failed they decided to come back.”

Hub for migrants

Turkey is a major hub for migrants from Afghanistan and other nations seeking to cross from Asia into Europe in search of better lives and work.

Over a million migrants and refugees entered Europe largely through Turkey in 2015, prompting the EU to agree a deal with Ankara on curbing the migration in 2016. There has been a major influx of migrants into Turkey from conflict-plagued Afghanistan in recent weeks, with reports saying almost 18,000 have entered the country illegally in the last three months.

The Afghan migrants are believed to have crossed from Iran into Turkey’s eastern Van province and then moved — sometimes walking on highways on foot — to Erzurum, one of the major cities of Turkey’s east.

Full report at:

https://www.dawn.com/news/1400480/turkey-deports-hundreds-of-afghan-migrants

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Rebels kill dozens of Sudanese troops in Yemen

April 09, 2018

ADEN  - A rebel ambush in Yemen killed dozens of Sudanese soldiers belonging to a Saudi-led coalition fighting on the side of the government, military sources and the insurgents said Saturday.

The Iran-backed Huthi rebels hit the Sudanese military convoy in the northern province of Hajjah before dawn on Friday, according to military sources. The losses were reported to be the heaviest suffered by Sudanese troops in Yemen since they were deployed in the war-torn country in 2015.

"The Sudanese soldiers were lured into a trap by the rebels" who allowed them to advance into areas where they were waiting to attack them, a Yemeni military officer told AFP on condition of anonymity. The Huthis reported the attack on their Al-Masirah website, saying dozens of Sudanese soldiers had been killed and armoured vehicles destroyed.

There was no immediate comment from Sudan, which has deployed hundreds of soldiers as part of the coalition that Khartoum joined in 2015 after breaking decades-old ties with Tehran.

On Thursday Yemeni military officials said hundreds of soldiers from Saudi Arabia and Sudan had arrived in the north to reinforce troops deployed around rebel stronghold Saada. President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi's government was driven from Yemen's capital after the Huthis overran the city in 2014, sweeping southwards from their northern bastion.

The coalition led by mainly Sunni Saudi Arabia has since struggled to close in on rebel strongholds. Nearly 10,000 people have been killed since the coalition joined the Yemen war in 2015, triggering what the United Nations has called the world's largest humanitarian crisis.

The Huthis have launched a string of ballistic missile attacks on neighbouring Saudi Arabia from northern Yemen. The rebels say the missile attacks are retaliation for Saudi-led air raids. 

Both the coalition and the United States -- a key ally of Saudi Arabia -- have accused Iran of arming the Huthi rebels.

Full report at:

https://nation.com.pk/09-Apr-2018/rebels-kill-dozens-of-sudanese-troops-in-yemen

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Zarif: Saudis turned down Iran's offers to facilitate political solution in Yemen

Apr 8, 2018

Saudi Arabia rejected Tehran's offers to facilitate a political solution to the crisis in Yemen, says Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif.

“At the beginning of the crisis in Yemen in 2013, I wrote a letter to former Saudi Foreign Minister Saud Al Faysal with the aim of ending the crisis with the aid of Iran and Saudi Arabia. But they denied, saying that the Arab world's affairs do not concern Tehran,” said Zarif on Sunday during an interview with the BBC's Arabic language service.

Zarif noted that the Saudis' rejection was based on the false assumption that the war in Yemen would be ended soon.  

Iran's foreign minister added that the finding a solution to the crisis was could only be achieved via dialogue and negotiations among Yemenis, and that Iran was always prepared to help solve the ongoing crisis in the impoverished country.  

Meanwhile, at least 12 people, including women and children, have been killed in a Saudi airstrike in southern Yemen.

The civilians were killed as Saudi fighter jets targeted an area in the province of Ta’izz.

The deadly attack came after a series of airstrikes which left four people dead in the northwestern province of Sa’ada and in Hudaydah province, in the country’s west.

Saudi Arabia has been incessantly pounding Yemen since March 2015 in an attempt to crush the popular Houthi Ansarullah movement and reinstate former president, Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, who is a staunch ally of the Riyadh regime.

The Yemeni Ministry of Human Rights announced in a statement on March 25 that the Saudi-led war had left 600,000 civilians dead and injured since March 2015.

Full report at:

http://www.presstv.com/Detail/2018/04/08/557870/iran-saudi-arabia-tehran-zarif

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Yemeni forces, allies target Saudi radar station in Asir with ballistic missile

Apr 8, 2018

Yemeni army forces, supported by allied fighters from Popular Committees, have fired a domestically-manufactured ballistic missile at a radar station in Saudi Arabia’s southwestern border region of Asir in retaliation for the Saudi regime’s military campaign against their crisis-hit country.

A military source, speaking on condition of anonymity, told Yemen’s Arabic-language al-Masirah television network that the Badr-1 missile struck the designated target just outside Khamis Mushait city, located 884 kilometers southwest of the capital Riyadh, with great precision on Sunday.

There were no immediate reports about the extent of damage caused.

Additionally, two people lost their lives when Saudi warplanes bombarded Shada'a district in Yemen’s northwestern mountainous province of Sa’ada.

Two other Yemeni civilians were killed and several others injured as Saudi military aircraft carried out five airstrikes against a farm in the al-Garrahi district of the western coastal province of Hudaydah.

The Yemeni Ministry of Human Rights announced in a statement on March 25 that the Saudi-led war had left 600,000 civilians dead and injured since March 2015.

The United Nations says a record 22.2 million Yemenis are in need of food aid, including 8.4 million threatened by severe hunger.

A high-ranking UN aid official recently warned against the “catastrophic” living conditions in Yemen, stating that there was a growing risk of famine and cholera there.

“After three years of conflict, conditions in Yemen are catastrophic,” John Ging, UN director of aid operations, told the UN Security Council on February 27.

He added, “People's lives have continued unraveling. Conflict has escalated since November driving an estimated 100,000 people from their homes.”

Full report at:

http://www.presstv.com/Detail/2018/04/08/557838/Yemeni-forces-allies-target-Saudi-radar-station-in-Asir-with-ballistic-missile

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South Asia

 

2 militants killed as motorcycle packed with bombs exploded in Afghanistan

April 8, 2018

At least two militants have been killed after a motorcycle packed with explosives went off prematurely in Afghanistan's Laghman province.

A group of insurgents was looking to detonate a Motorcycle-borne Improvised Explosive Device (IED) in Alingar district on Saturday. The explosives went off before they could be used for an attack, leaving at least two of them dead and two others wounded, Khaama Press, reported, citing, the Afghan Military, as saying.

The explosives went off prematurely, killing the two militants, as they were busy planning to plant it on a roadside frequented by the Afghan forces in Alisheng district, Khaama Press reported, citing, the provincial government media office, as saying, in a statement.

The militants killed in the explosion were reportedly involved in major terrorist-related activities in Laghman province.

In a bid to target the government staff and security personnel, the anti-government armed militant groups often use explosives materials for the roadside as well as the car bombings, the reports said.

http://www.business-standard.com/article/news-ani/2-militants-killed-as-motorcycle-packed-with-bombs-exploded-in-afghanistan-118040800544_1.html

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Afghan forces and Taliban suffer casualties in Uruzgan operation

Apr 08 2018

The Taliban militants and Afghan armed forces suffered casualties during an operation in southern Uruzgan province of Afghanistan, the local officials said Sunday.

According to Uruzgan security chief Gen. Rahmatullah Sediqi, at least 18 Taliban insurgents were killed and 17 others were wounded during the operation.

Gen. Sediqi further added that the operation was conducted in the vicinity of Khas Uruzgan district on Saturday to suppress the armed militants.

He said at least three security personnel including two army soldiers and a policeman also lost their lives during the operation and three others were wounded.

This comes as at least Taliban insurgents were killed and eleven others were wounded during a similar operation in Chora district of Uruzgan two weeks ago.

Provincial administrative chief Aminullah Khaleqi had confirmed that nine Taliban insurgents were killed and at least eleven others were wounded during the clashes.

Full report at:

https://www.khaama.com/afghan-forces-and-taliban-suffer-casualties-in-uruzgan-operation-04828/

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Bangladesh Bank suggests regulator encourage Islamic Shariah compliant investment certificate in capital market

2018-04-08

DHAKA, April 8 (Xinhua) -- The central bank of Bangladesh has suggested encouraging Islamic Shariah compliant investment certificate Sukuk in the capital market.

Bangladesh Bank (BB) made the suggestion in its latest quarterly report on Capital Market Developments in Bangladesh', leading English newspaper The Financial Express reported on Sunday.

A Sukuk is an Islamic financial certificate, similar to a bond in mainstream finance that complies with Sharia or Islamic religious laws.

Instead of interest bearing traditional bond, the issuer of a Sukuk generally sells a certificate to an investor group, and then uses the money to purchase an asset.

The investor group has to have partial ownership on the asset and the issuer has to make a contractual promise to buy back the bond at a future date at par value.

Capital market regulator BSEC (Bangladesh Securities and Exchange Commission) may motivate government infrastructure developing bodies and private sector to issue Sukuk for financing the large infrastructure projects, the BB said in its report.

It pointed out that other Muslim majority countries such as Malaysia, Indonesia, KSA, UAE as well as non-Muslim majority countries like the UK and Singapore have Sukuk in their capital market.

The review report also stressed on some pragmatic steps to be taken by the BSEC to ensure good corporate governance, motivate good companies for floating bonds, shares and continue legal facilitation with more attractive incentives, especially for the foreign participants.

"Banks are not in a position to finance a long term productive investment activities continuously following higher level of non-performing loan and risk of maturity mismatch of funds," it observed.

"Given this, Bangladesh needs to undertake measures to expand capital market for financing productive investments and infrastructural projects," the report believed.

Full report at:

http://www.xinhuanet.com/english/2018-04/08/c_137096129.htm

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Abdullah and Turkish PM discuss Gen. Dostum’s return to Afghanistan

Apr 08 2018

The Chief Executive of the Government of National Unity Abdullah Abdullah and the Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım held talks regarding the return of the First vice President of Afghanistan Gen. Abdul Rashid Dostum to Kabul.

Speaking during a press conference with Mr. Yıldırım, the Chief Executive of the Unity Government Abdullah Abdullahs said negotiations were made in this regard during his meeting with the Turkish Prime Minister.

Without disclosing further information, Abdullah told reporters that Mr. Yıldırım will hold more talks in this regard during his meeting President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani.

Dostum is currently residing in Turkey and is accused of grave human rights violations, including a sexual assault and kidnapping of ex-Jawzjan governor Ahmad Ischi by his guards, a charge which he and his office have repeatedly rejected.

Dostum left the country for Turkey few months earlier amid ongoing controversies regarding his alleged involvement in the sexual abuse of Ishchi.

Full report at:

https://www.khaama.com/abdullah-and-turkish-pm-discuss-gen-dostums-return-to-afghanistan-04523/

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Southeast Asia

 

‘Political Islam’ Threatens Indonesia’s Jokowi

April 9, 2018

By: Dewi Kurniawati

Although Indonesia’s presidential election is little more than a year away, with the primary on April 17, 2019, the aura of religious sentiment and the rise of political Islam are taking on ominous overtones.

It is uncertain how real the whole phenomenon of fundamentalist Islam is in Indonesia, a country known as the Islamic world’s most tolerant, where women are as likely to be in miniskirts as niqabs, or full-face veils and where men are as likely to be drinking beer as not.

But politicians, allegedly including President Joko Widodo’s 2013 opponent, the former army general and businessman Prabowo Subianto, have been using Muslim identity politics to stoke ethnic and religious sentiment in a country where 87.2 percent of the country’s 266 million citizens are Muslim. There is growing fear that it will erase Pancasila, the country’s official state ideology, which guarantees citizens the right to worship any of six religions.

Thus, with just a year to go before the election, Indonesia is embroiled in a very real battle, with actual “fake news” exacerbating emotions and testing the country’s reputation for tolerance, raising serious concerns for Jokowi, as the President is known, as he faces reelection. Hard-line Islamists have been exploiting social media to accuse him of being a closet Christian or a communist and in general playing havoc with more moderate elements of the society.

At the center of the web is a 52-year-old cleric and demagogue named Muhammad Razieq Shiha, the founder of Islamic Defenders Group, known by its Indonesian initials FPI, a thuggish organization with close ties to the national police. Sources in Jakarta say Rizieq, who is seeking an Islamic coalition to go after Jokowi, envisions himself as the head of the government. FPI members often harass women who dress immodestly by their lights, have been known to shut down nightclubs and generally are available as flash mobs when the need arises for politicians.

The latest episode to blow up involves Sukmawati Sukarnoputri, one of the daughters of Indonesia’s founding father and first president, Sukarno, and the sister of former President Megawati Sukarno, the head of the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle, or PDI-P, of which Jokowi is a prominent member.

Sukmawati has run into a firestorm over a poem she wrote –19 years ago – saying the niqab wasn’t as beautiful as the konde, a traditional Indonesian hair bun, and that the adzan (call to prayer) wasn’t as melodious as traditional ballads.

The 66-year-old Sukmawati was forced to call a tearful press conference in Jakarta on April 4 to explain.

“Since this literary work has sparked controversy, especially among Muslims, I apologize to all Muslims who feel offended by this poem,” said Sukmawati, adding that she was a proud Muslim whose father was an important figure in both Muhammadyah and Nahdlatul Ulama, the two biggest Islamic organizations in Indonesia.

Nonetheless, at least two Islamic organizations have reported Sukmawati to the police for defaming Islam.

What happened to Sukmawati is a replay of events involving former Jakarta Governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama – a close ally of Jokowi’s – who last year was sentenced to two years in jail for blasphemy after Muslim organizations charged him with insulting a Quranic verse.

The allegations of blasphemy against the Quran sparked solidarity and “united” Indonesian Muslims with millions taking the streets in what was known as a “212 rally” at the National Monument in Central Jakarta, demanding Ahok’s prosecution.

Although Ahok, as the former governor is known, was considered the most effective Jakarta governor in modern history, the FPI capitalized on the charges, which were regarded as overblown, to gain political advantage, turning it into a massive campaign with the help of what the police later called a “fake news factory,” an online syndicate going under the name of Saracen. With Ahok, a Chinese Christian, driven from power, the voters instead installed a Muslim and Prabowo ally, Anies Baswedan into the governor’s seat.

Saracen, the police said, allegedly charged tens of millions of rupiah to publish and spread fake news and hate speech. Five individuals connected with Saracen have been jailed including the 32-year-old leader, Jasrudi, who like many Indonesians has only one name. Although Saracen’s clients haven’t been named, its website, according to the Straits Times of Singapore, listed lawyer Eggi Sudjana and retired army general Ampi Tanudjiwa as its advisers. Eggi is Rizieq Shahib’s lawyer. Jasriadi has said publicly that he is a Prabowo supporter.

The core resentment fanned an ethnic and religious battle in one of Indonesia’s most important political chapters.

Political analysts in Jakarta says the Sukmawati case may well be a curtain-raiser for those who don’t want to see Jokowi win a second term. Jokowi is a member of the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) led by Megawati Sukarnoputri and for better or worse is regarded as secular.

The ugly campaign against Ahok impelled Human Rights Watch to issue a statement saying religious minorities face discriminatory laws and regulations as well as harassment, intimidation, and violence from Islamist militants and that “In early 2017, the Ministry of Religious Affairs drafted a religious rights bill that would further entrench the country’s blasphemy law as well as discriminatory government decrees, including one that prevents religious minorities from obtaining permits to construct houses of worship.”

Jokowi’s government, according to Prelim Kine, deputy Asia director, “ is turning a blind eye to worsening harassment of religious and sexual minorities. Officials are using the dangerously ambiguous blasphemy law to target certain religious groups, while the police are carrying out invasive raids against LGBT people.”

Jokowi has repeatedly been labeled anti-Islam, especially after he banned the infamous Hizbut Tahrir Indonesia, founded in Jerusalem in 1953, which like the bloodthirsty Islamic State (ISIS) aims to establish “the Islamic Khilafah,” or Caliphate.

In July last year, Jokowi, facing criticism from Human Rights Watch for being too lax in confronting religious extremism, issued a regulation in lieu of law, known as a Perppu, on mass organizations deemed to be anti-Pancasila, the state ideology, which officially recognizes five other religions in addition to Islam.

That and other allegations will likely be used against Jokowi during his campaign, which will unfold before August 2018 when presidential candidates must submit the names of their official running partners to the election committee.

Jokowi almost certainly will face Prabowo Subianto, who is currently stirring Indonesian political scenes with nationalistic rhetoric, including saying Indonesia will no longer exist in 2030, that current political elites are not doing much while witnessing Indonesia’s resources are “taken away” by foreign enemies.

Much hinges upon whom Jokowi picks as his running mate next year. More than many countries, the vice presidency is handed to an individual who represents a major voting bloc.  Jusuf Kalla, the current vice president, is 76 and unlikely to be named again. Names that have surfaced include even Prabowo, on the theory that he could bide his time for five years during Jokowi’s final term and take over without an expensive campaign like the enormously expensive one he ran in 2014.

Another is Airlangga Hartarto, a businessman and Minister of Industry in Jokowi’s Cabinet and the chairman of Golkar Party. A third is Mohammad Mahfud, formerly the chief justice of Indonesia’s Constitutional Court and a member of the National Awakening Party, an Islam-based political party, which might spike the guns somewhat of the Islamist purists. But all that is only uninformed speculation in Jakarta’s fevered political climate with a long time to go.

https://www.asiasentinel.com/politics/political-islam-threaten-indonesia-jokowi/

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Hadi claims PAS going solo as others don’t do enough for Islam

BY ANITH ADILAH

April 9, 2018

KUALA LUMPUR, April 9 — PAS was forced to form a coalition outside of the ruling Barisan Nasional and the Opposition's Pakatan Harapan as neither upheld Islamic values, according to Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang.

In a live broadcast on Facebook today, the PAS president said the Islamist party had tried working with the BN government in the 1970s and discovered alleged cases of misconduct then that he said were inconsistent with PAS values.

“Back then, the ruling government had the financial means to properly manage the country but there were some weaknesses and ‘leakages’ which hindered PAS from staying true to our fights,” he said in the 19-minute video.

PAS briefly entered BN in the 70s and even contested the 1974 general election under the coalition's banner, before then-party president Datuk Asri Muda pulled the party out three years later.

On PH, Abdul Hadi said the pact comprised too many ideologically disparate parties, some of which he said were openly against Islam while others failed to do enough for the Islamic agenda.

PAS and DAP rowed openly prior to the death of Pakatan Rakyat, primarily over the Islamist party's push then for hudud law that later receded to simply enhancing Shariah sentencing limits.

Hadi also said his party could not band with PH simply because it was the Opposition.

“It (PH) is made up of political parties that clearly were against Islam, like DAP, and others who was not vocal enough about a religious fight.

“This forced PAS to form our own coalition,” he said.

While conceding that PAS was smaller and has fewer resources as a result of striking out alone, he insisted that party supporters and grassroots should not be discouraged heading into the general election.

“We have previously won Kelantan, Terengganu and Kedah by fighting well within our means  — in terms of follower size and financial ability.

“Allah has proven he can give us the victory provided we are patient and faithful to Islam,” he said.

Hadi previously claimed that his party would contest as many as 130 federal seats.

Full report at:

http://www.themalaymailonline.com/malaysia/article/hadi-claims-pas-going-solo-as-others-dont-do-enough-for-islam

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MCA plans Chinese version of Amanah Saham funds

Ho Kit Yen

April 8, 2018

KUALA LUMPUR: The MCA has pledged to set up an investment fund for the Chinese community, similar to the ones under Amanah Saham Nasional Berhad.

Party president Liow Tiong Lai said MCA wanted to create the investment fund in line with its initiative to set up the Kojadi Co-operative Bank, if the party wins in the election.

“We hope to have an investment fund like Amanah Saham Nasional where the public, especially the poor and middle-income people can benefit from the dividends.

“Indirectly, this will help improve their social-economic wellbeing,” he said at a press conference after the launch of the MCA manifesto today.

Liow said it was time for the Chinese community to have an investment fund of their own.

“Everyone should have a share of the cake,” Liow said.

MCA pledged to set up the Kojadi Cooperative Bank branches in every state to provide financial aid to entrepreneurs and small and medium enterprises (SMEs).

Kojadi, or Koperasi Jayadiri Malaysia Berhad, was set up by MCA in 1981 to provide educational loan for students to pursue higher education.

In its manifesto, the party has also pledged to safeguard moderation as well as ensure checks and balances in the government.

However, Liow said the party would not be able to play its role if it did not get the people’s support and is not represented in the cabinet.

“If MCA is not in the government, then the voice of non-Muslims will not be heard. What I am saying is: if the government consists only of people from a single race, the country will face extremism.

“We in MCA will ensure BN continues to implement moderate and inclusive policies for all Malaysians,” he said.

Full report at:

http://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/nation/2018/04/08/mca-plans-chinese-version-of-amanah-saham-funds/

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Nearly 50 Indonesians dead in April from bootleg liquor

April 09, 2018

JAKARTA, Indonesia: Nearly 50 people have died after drinking bootleg liquor in western Indonesia including the capital Jakarta in little more than a week.

In the latest incident, 17 people died between Thursday and early Monday in Cicalengka subdistrict near the West Java capital of Bandung.

Head of the state-run hospital in Cicalengka, Yani Sumpena, said Monday that 16 died at the hospital and one was dead on arrival.

Jakarta police spokesman Argo Yuwono said another 31 people have died in Jakarta and its satellite cities of Depok and Bekasi in separate incidents since the beginning of the month.

Full report at:

http://www.arabnews.com/node/1281391/world

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URL: http://www.newageislam.com/islamic-world-news/new-age-islam-news-bureau/islamic-scholars-warn-against-‘interference’,-favour-internal-reform/d/114871

 

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