New Age Islam
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Islamic World News ( 4 Sept 2015, NewAgeIslam.Com)

Islamic State Blows Up Palmyra Funerary Towers


















Syria's antiquities chief said the Tower of Elahbel, built in AD103, was among those destroyed

 

Arab World

45 UAE Sons Martyred In Yemen

Islamic State 'Blows Up Palmyra Funerary Towers'

58 ISIL Militants Killed in Iraqi Army Counter-Attacks in Samarra City

Syria Car Bombs Kill 26, Including Anti-Regime Druze Cleric: Monitor

The Gold Standard: Get Ready For Islamic State Currency

Syrian Army Kills 21 Militants in Lattakia Province

Jeish Al-Fatah Militants Killed in Syrian Army Offensives in Hama Province

5 Bahraini Soldiers Killed in Yemeni Forces Attack in Ma'arib Province

The Arab World’s Wealthiest Nations Are Doing next To Nothing for Syria’s Refugees

Bahrain says five soldiers killed while protecting Saudi borders

On IS Frontline, Kurdish Fighters Ready for Offensive

Emergence of Islamic State an embarrassment for national security community

ISIS releases 15 Christians in Syria, monitoring group says

Saudi willing to work with U.S. for Mideast stability

Druze leader killed in car bomb in southern Syria

Iraq top Shia cleric calls for ‘quick action’ to uproot corruption

Analyst Blasts Arab Leaders for Interfering in Internal Affairs of Yemen, Syria

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Africa

Angola Bans Islam, Shuts Down Mosques

Libyan Soldiers in Deadly Clashes With ISIS

Is Boko Haram re-creating a caliphate in Africa?

Nigeria: Muslim League Says Measures on Economy, Security Will Lead to New Nigeria

President Buhari's make or break strategy against Boko Haram

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Europe

Scholars Split By Claim That Quran Scrap Rewrites Story of Islam

At least 10 killed in armed attacks in Tajikistan, U.S. embassy shut

The Demise of Tajikistan's Islamic Party

Dutch serviceman 'may have joined Islamic State in Syria'

Syria: Bashar al-Assad ready to share power, says Vladimir Putin

British Muslim Opinion on Corbyn Is One of Hope

Cameron agrees to take more Syrian refugees

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India

India Muslim Leaders Condemn ISIS: Religious Scholars Endorse Fatwa Lambasting Islamic State Ideology as Un-Islamic

Muslim Dress Designer Exemplify Communal Harmony in Vrindavan

Bodh Gaya May Become Spiritual Capital of Buddhism

Afzal Guru, Yakub Memon hangings send signals of weak Government: Justice Ajit Prakash Shah

Posters in Srinagar’s Pulwama ask locals to live life the Islamic way

UAE-India target $75 billion investments

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South Asia

Mullah Omar Asked Musharraf to Bomb Kandahar: US Cable

148 Insurgents Killed, Wounded In Past Two Days in Afghanistan

Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami’s “Wait and See Policy” Belies Survival Preparations

Fears stalk Bangladesh bloggers after killing spree

Suicide bombing leaves 14 civilians wounded in Logar

Qatar to open embassy in Kabul

Pakistani official blames Hamid Karzai for spoiling peace talks

Saudi Arabia okays extradition of Rajon murder accused

Bangladesh and Australian police to curb transnational crimes together

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Pakistan

Washington Takes Islamabad on Board Over Anti-IS Alliance

Security Forces Foil Defence Day Terror Attack In Quetta: ISPR

PPP Calls for Inquiry into Musharraf’s Kashmir Policy

Nisar convinced Britain to withdraw Altaf support

Pakistan takes issue of Indian ceasefire violations to UN Security Council

MQM leader’s brother, others booked for China-cutting business, money laundering

Aziz meeting with Ghani fails to break the ice

‘Rangers kept MQM workers in illegal detention for eight months’

Pakistani general appointed UN mission commander

President seeks joint trade ventures with Bosnia

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Mideast

A Problem from Hell: The U.S.'s Genocide Complicity in Yemen

Iran: We Will Not Stop Supporting Terror Groups

Turkey Raids Opposition Paper Following Report of Isis Arms Trade

Turkey appeals to Europe to reach out to refugees

After Iran deal, EU bids to restart Israel-Palestinian talks

Saudi spared Yemen from years of infighting: Yemeni VP

Scholars slam Iranian movie on Prophet

Bodies of 103 foreign troops recovered from Yemen’s Safer airport

Commander: Iranian Air Force to Use Different Fighter Jets, UAVs in Upcoming Wargames

Report: Yemeni Missile Downs UAE Apache Chopper

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North America

Obama Is Right: 'Islam Has Always Been Part of America'

The American Veterans Who Fight ISIS

US after neocolonialism in Mideast: Pundit

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Southeast Asia

Joko to Discuss Religion, Trade with Egypt's El-Sisi

“Indonesia Must Help Democratise Malaysia”

China upholds its commitment to religious freedom: says Dilmurat Omar

5 years in prison sought for 2 British journos

Thai Muslim man is third Bangkok blast suspect detained by police as two arrested foreigners identified for first time

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Australia

Lindt siege inquest: criminals, terrorists ‘work together’

An independent voice for all people

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau

URL: http://www.newageislam.com/islamic-world-news/new-age-islam-news-bureau/islamic-state-blows-up-palmyra-funerary-towers/d/104496

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Arab World

 

45 UAE sons martyred in Yemen

September 05, 2015

The UAE has offered 45 martyrs who fell in the line of duty during ‘Operation Restoring Hope,’ under the Arab alliance to support the people of Yemen and their legitimate government.

Earlier today, the General Headquarters of the UAE Armed Forces mourned 22 of its personnel who died while performing their national duty as part of the Saudi-led Arab coalition in the operation 'Restoring Hope' in Yemen.

It said 23 soldiers died of their wounds.

Abdullah bin Zayed receives John Kerry's telephone call to offer condolence on 23 Emirati martyrs

UAE Foreign Minister, Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, on Friday, received a telephone call from the United States (US) Secretary of State, John Kerry, who offered his condolences for the 23 Emirati personnel who died while performing their national duty as part of the Saudi-led Arab coalition in the "Operation: Restoring Hope" in Yemen.

Sheikh Abdullah thanked the US Secretary of State for calling to offer his sympathy.

FNC mourns UAE martyrs

The Federal National Council (FNC) has mourned the 23 martyrs who died in the line of duty during ‘Operation Restoring Hope,’ under the Arab alliance to support the people of Yemen and their legitimate government.

While offering sincere condolences to the families of martyrs and praying to the Almighty Allah to grant their souls rest in paradise and bestow patience and solace upon their families, the FNC said those great martyrs had been elevated to the highest ranks by offering precious sacrifice for the sake of the homeland and the Arab nation. By their heroism and bravery, they have engraved their names in the annals of great men and heroes of the UAE and Arab-Islamic Nation,'' the FNC added in a statement today. ''They will not only be remembered by the UAE but also by generations of Arabs for answering the call of duty in defence of Arab dignity,'' the FNC said.

It indicated that the UAE's participation in the Arab Alliance to support the legitimate government in Yemen came through a call by the Arab fraternity to help a fellow Arab nation which refused to accept and believe in an alien ideology, or accept domination by a clique which seized power in the country in breach of a GCC-UN sponsored and agreed political process.

''The UAE received the sad news of the martyrdom of its gallant heroes in the midst of the government and people-backed "Yemen: We Care" humanitarian campaign, which was launched under the directives of President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan out of the UAE's established principles to be loyal to its nation and people and to spare no effort in providing all forms of assistance to Yemen so as to enable it to ride over this critical juncture and reach to safety and preserve its stability and territorial integrity,'' the FNC noted.

Grand Imam of Al Azhar mourns UAE martyrs

Dr. Ahmed El Tayeb, the Grand Imam of Al Azhar in Egypt, has mourned the UAE martyrs who died in the line of duty during ‘Operation Restoring Hope,’ under the Arab alliance to support the people of Yemen and their legitimate government.

In a statement today, Egypt’s renowned Islamic institution offered sincere condolences and sympathy to the government and people of the UAE and to the families of martyrs, praying to the Almighty Allah to grant their souls rest in paradise and bestow patience and solace upon their families.

The statement expressed appreciation to the UAE for its honourable stance and sacrifice towards its Arab-Islamic nation and for standing with its fellow member in the Saudi Arabia-led Arab Alliance.

GCC chief mourns martyrs of duty in Yemen

Secretary-General of Gulf Cooperation Council Dr. Abdullatif bin Rashid Al Zayani last evening mourned the Emirati soldiers who died in the line of duty during 'Operation Restore Hope', under the Arab alliance to support the people of Yemen and their legitimate government.

''Martyrdom of our gallant soldiers in Yemen will remain a symbol of sacrifice and dedication and theme for solidarity and cooperation with Arab people in Yemen,'' he said, emphasising the GCC's determination to continue supporting efforts being made by the Yemeni people to restore its state and defeat the coup plotters and rid the Yemeni people from their oppression and tyranny.

The GCC chief offered his heartfelt condolences to UAE President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, HM King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa of Bahrain, Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Salman bin Abdul Aziz of Saudi Arabia and President Abd Rabu Mansour Hadi of Yemen, and to their governments and families of martyrs.

He prayed the Almighty Allah to grant the martyrs' souls rest in Paradise and bestow patience and solace upon their families.

Arab League condemns Houthis' attack on Arab Alliance's camp in Yemen

The Arab League has condemned the terrorist attack perpetrated by the rebellious Houthi militias in Yemen on the Arab Alliance's camp, which killed and wounded scores of soldiers.

Arab League's Secretary-General Dr. Nabil Al Araby, in a statement, offered sincere condolences to the families of victims and governments of the Arab Alliance and their peoples. He also wished speedy recovery to those injured in the attack.

Al Araby reiterated the pan-Arab organisation's support for the Saudi Arabia-led coalition and for the legitimate government in Yemen, led by President Abd Rabu Mansour Hadi, and for efforts being made by the Yemeni state institutions to restore their national role in bringing about security and stability to Yemen.

Jordan expresses solidarity with UAE following death of a number of soldiers in Yemen

Jordan today voiced its solidarity with the UAE following the fall of a number of Emirati soldiers in the line of duty during 'Operation Restore Hope', under the Arab alliance to support the people of Yemen and their legitimate government.

''Jordan stands with the UAE in this calamity following the martyrdom of a number of soldiers while performing their duty towards their fellow Yemenis,'' Jordan's government spokesperson Mohammad Momani said.

He offered, on behalf of the Jordanian government, sincere condolences and sympathy to the leadership, government and people of the UAE and to the families of martyrs and prayed the Almighty Allah to grant the martyrs' souls rest in Paradise and bestow patience and solace upon their families.

Speaker of Kuwait's National Assembly sends cable of condolences to Speaker of UAE's Federal National Council on UAE martyrs

Speaker of the Kuwaiti National Assembly Marzouq Al Ghanem has sent two cables of condolences to Mohammed Ahmed Al Murr, Speaker of UAE Federal National Council (FNC) and Speaker of the Council of Representatives Ahmed bin Ibrahim Al Mulla on the death of a number of armed forces personnel in Yemen.

Kuwait News Agency (KUNA) quoted Al Ghanem as saying, '' We extend our deep sympathies and condolences to the governments and peoples of UAE and the Kingdom of Bahrain on the killing of 45 Emirati soldiers and five Bahraini soldiers during the Saudi-led ''Operation Restore Hope'' in Yemen.''

Yemen's delegate to Arab League mourns UAE martyrs

Mohammed Al Haisami, Permanent Representative of Yemen to the Arab League, has expressed his deep sympathy and condolences to the leadership, government and people of the UAE and the families of martyrs, on the martyrdom of 23 soldiers who died in the line of duty during ‘Operation Restore Hope,’ under the Arab alliance to support the people of Yemen and their legitimate government.

In a statement to the Emirates News Agency (WAM), Al Haisami said he was saddened when he heard the news of the death of the UAE soldiers while they were performing their duty along with their Yemeni counterparts.

He prayed to Almighty Allah to bestow his mercy on the martyrs, grant them rest in eternal peace and to grant patience and fortitude to their families to bear their loss.

He hailed the UAE's unequivocal support for Yemen's constitutional legitimacy and valued the humanitarian assistance the country is extending to the Yemeni people at this delicate juncture.

''We feel pride and gratitude that the UAE has emerged the world's largest aid donor to Yemen,'' he added.

 Arab Parliament Speaker mourns UAE's heroic martyrs

Speaker of the Arab Parliament, Ahmed Mohammed Al Jarwan, has paid homage to the UAE martyrs who died in the line of duty during ‘Operation Restore Hope,’ under the Arab alliance to support the people of Yemen and their legitimate government.

Al Jarwan, on behalf of the Arab people, offered his heartfelt condolences and sympathy to President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, armed forces personnel, the martyrs' families and the UAE people.

''By answering the call of duty, the UAE martyrs have engraved their names in the annals of Arab and Islamic history,'' he said, praying to the Almighty Allah to grant their souls rest in Paradise and bestow patience and solace upon their families.

Egypt expresses sympathy with UAE on death of soldiers in Yemen

The Arab Republic of Egypt today offered deep condolences to the government and people of the UAE on the death of 23 soldiers who died in the line of duty during ''Operation Restore Hope'', under the Arab alliance to support the people of Yemen and their legitimate government.

The Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in a statement, also extended heartfelt sympathy to the families of martyrs and prayed to Almighty Allah to grant patience and fortitude to their families to bear their loss.

Sudan's delegate to Arab League offers condolences to UAE on death of soldiers

Sudan's Permanent Representative to the Arab League and Sudan's Ambassador to Cairo, Ambassador, Abdul Mahmoud Abdul Halim, has offered his heartfelt condolences and sympathy to the UAE on the martyrdom of its soldiers who died in the line of duty and in defence of legitimacy in Yemen.

In a statement, the Sudanese delegate, on behalf of the leadership, government and people of Sudan, extended his deep condolences to the leadership and people of the UAE and to the families of martyrs.

He prayed to the Almighty Allah to grant their souls rest in paradise among prophets and martyrs.

http://www.emirates247.com/45-uae-sons-martyred-in-yemen-2015-09-05-1.602368

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Islamic State 'Blows Up Palmyra Funerary Towers'

4 September 2015

Jihadist militants from Islamic State (IS) have blown up three funerary towers at the ancient city of Palmyra, Syria's antiquities chief has said.

Maamoun Abdul Karim said they included the Tower of Elahbel, built in AD103 and one of the best-preserved.

The multi-storey sandstone monuments, standing outside the city walls in an area known as the Valley of the Tombs, belonged to rich Palmyrene families.

Their demolition comes only days after IS blew up Palmyra's two main temples.

The group, which captured the Unesco World Heritage site from government forces in May, has previously destroyed two Islamic shrines - those of a Shia saint and Sufi scholar - near Palmyra, which they described as "manifestations of polytheism".

Satellite images

The Valley of the Tombs, in the hills to the south and west of the ruins of the Greco-Roman city, contains a series of funerary towers of various sizes.

The towers were divided into compartments, or loculi, into which sarcophagi were placed before being sealed with slabs of stone carved with an image of the deceased and painted in lively colours.

Ancient city of Palmyra

The ancient Temple of Bel at Palmyra, Syria, (13 June 2009)Image copyrightReuters

Image caption

The Temple of Bel, pictured here in 2009, was the great sanctuary of the Palmyrene gods

Unesco World Heritage site

Site contains monumental ruins of great city, once one of the most important cultural centres of the ancient world

Art and architecture, from the 1st and 2nd Centuries, combine Greco-Roman techniques with local traditions and Persian influences

More than 1,000 columns, a Roman aqueduct and a formidable necropolis of more than 500 tombs made up the archaeological site

More than 150,000 tourists visited Palmyra every year before the Syrian conflict

IS threat to 'Venice of the Sands'

History's lesson in how to save artefacts

Understanding sadness at loss of sites

Why IS destroys ancient sites

The Tower of Elahbel was among the most prominent. It was four storeys high and could purportedly accommodate up to 300 sarcophagi.

Mr Abdul Karim told the AFP news agency that he had received reports 10 days ago that the "best preserved and most beautiful" towers had been blown up, but only just confirmed the news.

"We obtained satellite images from the US-based Syrian Heritage Initiative, taken on 2 September," he added.

On Tuesday, satellite images confirmed reports that IS had destroyed the Temple of Bel, which the UN Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organisation (Unesco) said was one of the most important religious edifices of the 1st Century in the East.

Funerary towers on a hill outside the ancient city of Palmyra, Syria (4 August 2010)Image copyrightReuters

Image caption

The Valley of the Tombs is located in the hills to the south and west of the ruins of Palmyra

Last month, the jihadist group blew up the smaller Temple of Baalshamin and beheaded the archaeologist who looked after the site for four decades, Khaled al-Asaad, after he reportedly refused to reveal where treasures had been hidden.

Unesco's director-general Irina Bokova has said the systematic destruction of Palmyra constitutes a "war crime" and called on the international community to stand united against IS efforts to "deprive the Syrian people of its knowledge, its identity and history".

IS has ransacked and demolished several similar ancient sites that pre-date Islam in Iraq.

The sale of looted antiquities is nevertheless one of the group's main sources of funding. It has also been accused of destroying ancient sites to gain publicity.

The Syrian authorities removed hundreds of statues and priceless objects before IS overran Palmyra, among them the carved images found in the funerary towers.

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-34150905

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58 ISIL Militants Killed in Iraqi Army Counter-Attacks in Samarra City

Sep 04, 2015

The Iraqi army troops supported by tribal fighters repelled the ISIL's massive attacks on Samarra and killed at least 58 Takfiri militants in their counter-attacks, the Command Center of the Iraqi Forces announced on Friday.

The center said that the ISIL was planning to carry out suicide attacks in Samarra city, but were all foiled.

On Wednesday, Iraq's Hashd al-Shaabi forces thwarted an ISIL attack on al-Sobihat district in the town of Al-Karmah in Anbar province.

The Iraqi forces thwarted the ISIL attack, and killed and injured scores of the terrorists, a security source said.

The ISIL Takfiri terrorists currently control shrinking swathes of Syria and Iraq. They have threatened all communities, including Shiites, Sunnis, Kurds, Christians, Ezadi Kurds and others, as they continue their atrocities in Iraq.

Senior Iraqi and Syrian officials have blamed Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and some Persian Gulf Arab states for the growing terrorism in their country.

The ISIL has links with Saudi intelligence and is believed to be indirectly supported by the Israeli regime.

http://english.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13940613000483

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Syria Car Bombs Kill 26, Including Anti-Regime Druze Cleric: Monitor

September 05, 2015

BEIRUT:  A prominent Druze cleric known for criticising Syria's regime and Islamists was assassinated in a car bomb attack that killed 25 others and sparked riots outside the city of Sweida on Friday, a monitor said.

"Sheikh Wahid al-Balous was killed in a car bomb attack as he was driving on the outskirts of Sweida city," said Rami Abdel Rahman, head of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

Abdel Rahman said a second car bomb struck near the hospital in the Dahr al-Jabal neighbourhood where the wounded were being taken. He told AFP the toll from the two attacks had risen from eight people to 26, and that 50 others were wounded.

Balous was a popular leader in the southwestern city of Sweida, the heartland of Syria's Druze minority which made up around three percent of the country's pre-war population of 23 million.

His death sparked riots in Sweida city, where protesters smashed a statue of Hafez al-Assad, the deceased ruler of Syria and father of its current president, Bashar al-Assad, the Observatory said.

"Dozens of protesters have gathered at government institutions... they burned some cars and gunshots were heard in the city," the Observatory said.

"It's an uprising by Balous's supporters, because they believe the regime killed him," Abdel Rahman added, describing the late-night instability as "major" for a city that has largely been spared the violence of Syria's ongoing war.

A resident who spoke on condition of anonymity said he heard crashing sounds and saw protesters throw rocks at a municipal building.

According to Malek Abu Kheir, a journalist from Sweida who knew Balous, the sheikh often spoke out against both jihadist groups and the Assad regime.

"Balous was the leader of the Sheikhs of Dignity group, which aimed to protect the Druze areas in Syria," said Abu Kheir.

'Pay the price with blood'

The Sheikhs of Dignity is the most powerful militia in the area and had fought fierce battles against the Islamic State jihadist group and Al-Qaeda's Syrian affiliate.

Balous also opposed army conscripts from Sweida being sent outside the province, Abu Kheir told AFP.

Days before Balous's murder, Sweida residents had gathered in the city to demand more regular government services, including electricity and water - a protest that he had supported, activists said.

The head of Lebanon's Druze community, Walid Jumblatt, in a condolence statement he posted on Twitter, accused the Assad government of killing Balous.

"My condolences to Sheikh Wahid al-Balous and his companions, who were assassinated by the regime of Bashar al-Assad," he said.

But the chief of Syria's Druze, Sheikh Youssef Jarboua, accused "the enemies of the nation and humanitarian state".

Syrian Information Minister Omran Zohbi said the "terrorism that struck Sweida wants to send a message to its people, that because they stood by their nation, they will pay the price of this stance with blood".

According to SANA, parliament condemned "the two terrorist explosions in Sweida".

"These cowardly terrorist acts will not discourage the Syrian people from continuing their fight against terrorism, but will instead strengthen their perseverance," the parliament statement said.

Neither Zohbi nor the parliamentary statement mentioned Balous.

The Druze, who follow a secretive offshoot of Shiite Islam, have been divided during Syria's civil war, with some members fighting on the government side and others expressing sympathy for the opposition.

Thousands of Druze men have evaded military service in the army's dwindling ranks and have mostly taken up arms only in defence of their own areas.

In Sweida, Druze have formed a local militia to protect themselves from the rebels, residents say.

http://www.ndtv.com/world-news/syria-car-bombs-kill-26-including-anti-regime-druze-cleric-monitor-1214468

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The gold standard: Get ready for Islamic State currency

SEPTEMBER 4, 2015

What’s a war without a few gold dinars to fight the evil Crusaders?

The gold standard has a group of new advocates — the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.

In its latest video released on Aug. 31, the group, which bestrides parts of Iraq and Syria, reveals a new currency that, it claims, will be the death knell for petro-dollar system and corruption on earth.

The video does not tell when the currency will become operational. But it will consist of gold dinars and silver dirhams designed to reflect the group’s ideology of re-establishing a global caliphate.

The five dinar coin depicts a map of the globe denoting the territory the ‘Ummah’ (Arabic word for nation) which includes Constantinople (Istanbul), Rome and America.

The one dirham silver coin has a spear and a shield symbolizing jihad (spiritual struggle/war).

The hour-long video titled ‘The Rise of the Khilafah and the Return of the Gold Dinar’ uses charts and sound bites to explain how the group is going to set up a new, interest-free financial system that will take the world back to the golden age of the Islamic empire.

The group’s plan to re-introduce gold coins may be to connect itself to the history of Islamic coinage when, according to the documentary, “the Arab world was at peak imperial strength.”

But is this quixotic idea going to work? Not likely.

For one thing, just like the rules governing the gold standard, the new dinar’s worth will be determined by the supply and demand for gold.

This means the currency will be subjected to price fluctuations. If supply of gold falls short, it could lead to recession.

Next is the question of credulity. Who will have trust in a currency circulated by a group which does not have any legitimacy?

Dollar has its ups and downs. But the world still trusts it and many currencies are pegged to the dollar. So the IS dream of ending the hegemony of the dollar is far-fetched.

Most Arab countries have come a long way. They are integrated well with the global financial markets and it is unlikely they will go back to the 7th century to recapture a glory.

http://atimes.com/2015/09/the-gold-standard-get-ready-for-islamic-state-currency/

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Syrian Army Kills 21 Militants in Lattakia Province

Sep 04, 2015

The sources said that the surrounding areas of Burj al-Rahmaliyeh in Rabi’a area in the Northern countryside of Lattakia were the scenes of heavy clashes between the rebel groups and the Syrian army, which resulted in the killing of 19 fighters.

The militants' positions in Zahiyeh Mountain were also raided by the army men which left two rebels killed and some others injured.

On Wednesday, the Syrian government forces tightened the noose on the Takfiri militants in Lattakia.

The army killed scores of terrorists in the villages of Shirin, al-Hilweh, al-Rawda and Dweirshan in the Northern countryside of Lattakia.

The Syrian troops also destroyed a weapons cache, a rocket launching pad and a car equipped with a rocket launcher in the operations.

http://english.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13940613000239

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Jeish Al-Fatah Militants Killed in Syrian Army Offensives in Hama Province

Sep 04, 2015

The sources confirmed that the Syrian army has gained more grounds against the rebel group of Jeish al-Fatah in al-Mansoura, al-Ziyara, al-Inkawi, Qastoun, al-Hwash, al-Amkia, al-Kahira and Shahshabo Mountain in Hama countryside, killing at least three commanders of the group, including Ahmad al-Rayan and Majid Abu Ramadan.

On Wednesday, the foreign-backed Takfiri militants fighting to topple the Syrian government suffered heavy losses in Hama as the army continues its mop-up operations across the country.

Full report at:

http://english.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13940613000259

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5 Bahraini Soldiers Killed in Yemeni Forces Attack in Ma'arib Province

Sep 04, 2015

At least 5 Bahraini soldiers were killed in the province of Ma'arib in Central Yemen today, Arab media outlets reported.

Yet, the sources did not give further details on the incident.

22 soldiers from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) were also killed in Central Yemen earlier today.

The revolutionary forces in Yemen said they fired a rocket at a weapons cache in a camp used by the coalition forces in the Central Marib area, killing dozens of Emirati soldiers.

Also today, the Yemeni army and popular forces shot down a military helicopter of the Emirati army with a surface-to-air missile in a region in Eastern Yemen.

The UAE Apache military chopper exploded after it was hit by the Yemeni forces' missile in Al-Sa'fer region in Eastern Yemen, killing all the military men on board, the Arabic-language Al-Mayadeen satellite TV reported.

In a relevant development on August 21, the Yemeni army and popular forces shot down a Saudi military helicopter in the province of Jizan, in Southern Saudi Arabia.

Saudi Arabia has been striking Yemen for 163 days now to restore power to fugitive president Mansour Hadi, a close ally of Riyadh. The Saudi-led aggression has so far killed at least 5,648 Yemenis, including hundreds of women and children.

Full report at:

http://english.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13940613000688

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The Arab world’s wealthiest nations are doing next to nothing for Syria’s refugees

Sep 04, 2015

The world has been transfixed in recent weeks by the unfolding refugee crisis in Europe, an influx of migrants unprecedented since World War II. Their plight was chillingly highlighted on Wednesday in the image of a drowned Syrian toddler, his lifeless body lying alone on a Turkish beach.

A fair amount of attention has fallen on the failure of many Western governments to adequately address the burden on Syria's neighboring countries, which are struggling to host the brunt of the roughly 4 million Syrians forced out of the country by its civil war.

Some European countries have been criticized for offering sanctuary only to a small number of refugees, or for discriminating between Muslims and Christians. There's also been a good deal of continental hand-wringing over the general dysfunction of Europe's systems for migration and asylum.

Hundreds of migrants marching west from Budapest

Play Video1:36

Several hundred migrants are hoping to make the 90-mile trek to Austria on foot if no trains would take them from Budapest's Keleti train station. (Storyful)

[Europe's refugee crisis is America's problem, too]

Less ire, though, has been directed at another set of stakeholders who almost certainly should be doing more: Saudi Arabia and the wealthy Arab states along the Persian Gulf.

As Amnesty International recently pointed out, the "six Gulf countries -- Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Oman and Bahrain -- have offered zero resettlement places to Syrian refugees." This claim was echoed by Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch, on Twitter:

Or see this map tweeted by Luay Al Khatteeb, a nonresident fellow at the Brookings Institution, showing the numbers accommodated by Syria's overwhelmed neighbors in comparison to the oil-rich states further south:

That's a shocking figure, given these countries' relative proximity to Syria, as well as the incredible resources at their disposal. As Sultan Sooud al-Qassemi, a Dubai-based political commentator, observes, these countries include some of the Arab world's largest military budgets, its highest standards of living, as well as a lengthy history -- especially in the case of the United Arab Emirates -- of welcoming immigrants from other Arab nations and turning them into citizens.

Moreover, these countries aren't totally innocent bystanders. To varying degrees, elements within Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the U.A.E. and Kuwait have invested in the Syrian conflict, playing a conspicuous role in funding and arming a constellation of rebel and Islamist factions fighting the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

None of these countries are signatories of the United Nations' 1951 Refugee Convention, which defines what a refugee is and lays out their rights, as well as the obligations of states to safeguard them. For a Syrian to enter these countries, they would have to apply for a visa, which, in the current circumstances, is rarely granted. According to the BBC, the only Arab countries where a Syrian can travel without a visa are Algeria, Mauritania, Sudan and Yemen -- hardly choice or practical destinations.

Full report at:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/worldviews/wp/2015/09/04/the-arab-worlds-wealthiest-nations-are-doing-next-to-nothing-for-syrias-refugees/

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On IS Frontline, Kurdish Fighters Ready for Offensive

KALAK, IRAQ—

Sep 05, 2015

Finger on the trigger, the Kurdish Peshmerga soldier stared across the dust at a village taken over by Islamic State extremists. The Kurdistan’s Khazir frontline, just 45 minutes from the Islamic State stronghold of Mosul. And at this point, the militants were less than two kilometers away.

Holding down the northern Iraq frontline are the Peshmerga in guard posts dotted along a 1,500-kilometer stretch. IS tests those defenses daily with rockets and gunfire. A full-scale attack has not happened at this particular spot for four months, but the Peshmerga are not taking any chances. They constantly gather information on IS and analyze it.

Commander Ato Zibari said when the militants mount complex attacks, they use suicide bombers to rip open the defensive line.

“They armor-plate vehicles like bulldozers and other vehicles that our weapons cannot stop,” he said.

Kurdish forces said they need more heavy artillery, such as the latest delivery of Milan anti-tank rockets from Germany, to counter the militants.

Soldiers stay vigilant, watching for advances by the Islamic State group, at the Kurdistan frontline, a 45-minute drive east of the Islamic State group stronghold of Mosul, northern Iraq. (S. Behn/VOA)

Soldiers stay vigilant, watching for advances by the Islamic State group, at the Kurdistan frontline, a 45-minute drive east of the Islamic State group stronghold of Mosul, northern Iraq. (S. Behn/VOA)

Burying into landscape

Soldiers standing in the 45-degree Celsius heat on this front line post admit IS is a powerful force with creative tactics.

Zibari said fighters from IS, or Da’esh as it is known locally, tend to operate in small groups, and have taken to hiding in trenches and tunnels to avoid being hit by coalition airstrikes.

They also take refuge in villages, knowing that coalition planes typically do not bomb civilian areas.

But the Peshmerga said their fighters have used the land to their advantage, adapting their own tactics and using snipers. Sniper Kamal Omar described how he and other snipers buried themselves into the landscape and watched the militants for five to six hours a day, tracking their movements.

Kurdistan frontline, a 45-minute drive east of the Islamic State group stronghold of Mosul, northern Iraq. (S. Behn/VOA)

Kurdistan frontline, a 45-minute drive east of the Islamic State group stronghold of Mosul, northern Iraq. (S. Behn/VOA)

Omar said the shots he was most proud of were those that hit the small vulnerable spot on the armored vehicles used by IS to attack.

“There is only one spot where you can hit the radiator and make the vehicle explode, that’s what we are proud of, and shooting them in the head and killing them, we are proud of that too,” Omar told VOA.

Full report at:

http://www.voanews.com/content/kurdish-fighters-on-islamic-state-frontline-ready-for-offensive/2942766.html

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Emergence of Islamic State an embarrassment for national security community

SEP 4, 2015

The national security community in the United States and the West neither predicted the Islamic State’s rise, nor has been able to figure out how to halt it. Writes Burak Kadercan at National Interest, the Islamic State has

… constituted a source of embarrassment for the security community…. Consequently, there is little agreement in the security community over the true nature of ISIS and the proper strategy to effectively “degrade and destroy” the organization. Put bluntly, for all the pride that the security community takes in its predictive, explanatory, and prescriptive capabilities, it has failed (with a capital F) over the puzzle that ISIS poses.

Kadercan maintains that policymakers and natsec analysts have bought into three myths. The first:

… that ISIS owes much of its appeal to its “territorial” nature. Therefore, if ISIS begins to lose chunks of territory, its legitimacy will also start falling apart.

The second:

… ISIS needs territorial expansion to remain relevant. Containing ISIS, so the argument goes, will eventually undermine the group’s expansionist ideology.

The third:

… that ISIS could energize its fighters and supporters because it had been able to project an image of invincibility. If this “myth of invincibility” is broken … ISIS will no longer be able to command the loyalties of its supporters or serve as a focal point for global jihad.

Kadercan refutes all three. As for the first, true, the Islamic State is territorial,

… but not in the same way that a modern nation-state is territorial. Modern states legitimize their authority by “fixing” borders and treating them as “impregnable shells.” ISIS’s understanding of territoriality, however, is built more on the notion of “territorial flexibility” [like] the Ottoman Empire [which] neither committed nor recognized set borders, but instead emphasized open frontiers. Such flexibility allowed them to not only galvanize support for almost continuous harassment campaigns on the frontier, but also accommodate strategic retreats and territorial contractions. ISIS operates in a similar fashion. Losing chunks of territory do not necessarily de-legitimize the organization in the same way territorial losses, even marginal ones, would affect a national government.

As for the second:

Full report at:

http://scholarsandrogues.com/2015/09/04/emergence-of-islamic-state-an-embarrassment-for-national-security-community/

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ISIS releases 15 Christians in Syria, monitoring group says

5 September 2015

At least 15 Syrian Christians who had been held by ISIS in the central village of Al-Qaryatain were released Friday, monitoring groups said.

"A group of 15 Christians who had been under house arrest by ISIS in Al-Qaryatain were released and arrived in Fayrouzah," said Rami Abdel Rahman, head of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

ISIS had taken at least 230 civilians hostage, including dozens of Christians, in the village in Syria's Homs province in early August.

The Assyrian Monitor from Human Rights confirmed that the 15 Christians had arrived in Fayrouzah, five kilometres (three miles) southeast of Homs city, on Friday afternoon.

Citing a medical source, it said they "were in good health."

According to Abdel Rahman, the group had been released after paying jizya, a tax imposed on non-Muslims.

Full report at:

http://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2015/09/05/ISIS-releases-15-Christians-in-Syria-says-monitoring-group.html

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Saudi willing to work with U.S. for Mideast stability

4 September 2015

Saudi Arabia’s King Salman said Friday during his first visit to the United States as monarch that his country was willing to collaborate with the United States to ensure stability in the region.

Speaking to reporters gathered in the Oval Office before the meeting with U.S. President Barack Obama, King Salman said that Saudi Arabia must allow more opportunities for U.S. and the kingdom to do business.

King Salman, characterized his visit as symbolic of the deep ties between the allies. “I’m happy to come to a friendly country to meet a friend,” he said. “We want to work together for world peace.”

He said "I intended to make my first official visit to the United States as a symbol of the deep and strong relationship that we have with the United States that’s indeed historical relations that go back to the day when King Abdelaziz met with President Roosevelt in 1945."

Read more: ‘Special Relationship’: Milestones in Saudi-U.S. History

The King emphasized that Saudi-U.S. ties  are beneficial to the entire world and to the region. "Our relationship must be beneficial to both of us, not only on the economic field but on the political and military and defense field, as well," he added.

King Salman affirmed the importance of the region's stability, "which is essential for the prosperity of its people. And in our country, thank God we are prosperous, but we want prosperity for the entire region. And we are willing to cooperate with you in order to achieve that," he said.

Video: King Salman and President Obama speak to the media at the Oval Office

Meanwhile, Obama said he plans to discuss Yemen, the Iran nuclear deal and other topics with King Salman at the White House on Friday.

Obama said that he and King Salman shared the common goals of resolving the humanitarian crisis in Yemen and countering Iran's destabilizing activities in the region.

Full report at:

http://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2015/09/04/Saudi-willing-to-work-with-U-S-for-Mideast-stability.html

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Druze leader killed in car bomb in southern Syria

4 September 2015

A car bomb blast killed a Druze leader and at least three other people in southern Syria on Friday, a monitor said.

The explosion on the outskirts of the town of Sweida killed Sheikh Wahid al-Balous, who opposed both the Syrian government and Islamist insurgents fighting against it, the British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

A separate blast that occurred around the time in Sweida killed and wounded dozens of people, the Observatory said.

Full report at:

http://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2015/09/04/Druze-leader-killed-in-car-bomb-in-southern-Syria.html

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Iraq top Shia cleric calls for ‘quick action’ to uproot corruption

Sep 5, 2015

Iraq’s senior Shia cleric Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani has highlighted the need for fighting corruption in the country, calling on the Baghdad government to start hunting the “big heads” and take “quick action” concerning the implementation of much needed reforms.

“One of the essential steps for reform is to hunt the big heads among the corrupt and hold them accountable, to retrieve all the stolen money,” Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani said in a sermon delivered by his representative Ayatollah Ahmad al-Safi in the Iraqi holy city of Karbala on Friday.

He added people “have long suffered from corruption” and they want “this mission to be implemented without procrastination and delay.”

“Quick action and real, convincing and assuring steps are needed to show that the officials are serious in implementing reforms,” the prominent Iraqi clergyman pointed out.

On August 21, Ayatollah Sistani said the reform campaign must continue, and the government must quickly prosecute the “big thieves of public funds.”

Iraq’s prominent Shia cleric Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani (© AP)

On August 11, the Iraqi parliament unanimously approved Prime Minister Haider Abadi’s proposals aimed at uprooting corruption and reducing government costs.

Full report at:

http://www.presstv.ir/Detail/2015/09/05/427821/Iraq-Shia-cleric-Ayatollah-Sistani-anticorruption-campaign-reform-plan-Haider-Abadi-

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Analyst Blasts Arab Leaders for Interfering in Internal Affairs of Yemen, Syria

Sep 04, 2015

"The Arab countries that have hundreds of billions of dollars in their funds have adopted interfering stances in full violation of and disrespect for Islamic values," Atwan wrote on Friday.

He reiterated that the Arab countries are interfering in the internal affairs of war-affected countries such as Syria and Yemen, and worsen their situations, causing human catastrophe in there.

"They send weapons and cash for the destruction of the people of these countries," Atwan lamented.

In relevant remarks late last month, a senior political analyst underlined that the Riyadh government is fighting a war on behalf of Washington in Yemen.

"Saudi Arabia is implementing the US plans in the region," Syrian Journalist and Political Analyst Nezal Naisseh told FNA.

Full report at:

http://english.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13940613000675

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Africa

 

Angola Bans Islam, Shuts Down Mosques

03 September 2015

The African nation of Angola has become the first country to ban Islam and Muslims, reports On Islam.

Concerning the ban, Angolan President Jose Eduardo dos Santos said Sunday:

“This is the final end of Islamic influence in our country.”

Angola’s ban was first announced when Angolan Minister of Culture, Rosa Cruz e Silva said:

“the process of legalization of Islam has not been approved by the Ministry of Justice and Human rights, their mosques would be closed until further notice." she also said that the ban must take place as Islam was,  “contradictory to the customs of Angola culture and it is a sect”.

Full report at:

http://www.worldbulletin.net/headlines/163865/angola-bans-islam-shuts-down-mosques

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Libyan soldiers in deadly clashes with ISIS

5 September 2015

Heavy clashes broke out between ISIS and army units loyal to the country's official government near the eastern city of Derna on Friday, killing four soldiers, military officials said.

Three soldiers were also wounded during fighting with ISS militants outside Derna, a city east of Benghazi, military officials said.

The conflict is part of chaos gripping Libya, which has fragmented into two governments and parliaments allied to former rebel groups that helped topple Muammar Qaddafi in 2011.

ISIS, which has exploited a security vacuum in the oil producer, has had a base outside Derna, a traditional militant hotspot, since a rival group kicked it out of the coastal city in June.

The air force loyal to the internationally recognized government based in the east also attacked suspected Islamist militant targets in Benghazi, a different battle site, air force spokesman Nasser al-Hassi said.

No casualty figures were available.

Full report at:

http://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2015/09/05/Libyan-soldiers-in-deadly-clashes-with-ISIS.html

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Is Boko Haram re-creating a caliphate in Africa?

Sep 05, 2015

Both Boko Haram and ISIS have emerged as serious security threats, which draw upon religious-historical ties to boost their images. ISIS is attempting to redraw the border of the Middle East, but could Boko Haram be seeking to re-create its own African caliphate?

Since July 2009, the Jama’atu Ahlissunnah Lidda’awatiwal Jihad, meaning  ‘a People Committed to the Propagation of the Prophet’s Teachings and Jihad’, which the local communities in north-eastern Nigeria refer to as Boko Haram, has been a major security threat. Boko Haram’s primary objective is to establish a caliphate in Northern Nigeria based on its extremist interpretation of Sharia law.

Amnesty International estimates that Boko Haram has at least 15,000 fighters. Its violent campaign has paralysed education and trade in the six north-eastern states, as well as some other parts of the northern Nigeria. Boko Haram’s violence has had a devastating impact on the agricultural economy in the north-east, with many farmers afraid to farm their land.

Dismantling territorial boundaries

Islamic State (IS)’s primary agenda is to ‘dismantle’ territorial borders in the Middle East, redraw the traditional borders of the Levant, and establish a “caliphate” ruled by a single political and religious leader according to Sharia law. After his men captured Mosul, the second largest city in Iraq, blowing up the checkpoints between Syria and Iraq, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi swore to destroy the artificial boarders created by the Sykes Picot Agreement in 1916.

The Ottoman Empire – the previous caliphate – was ruled by a sultan who also bore the title of ‘caliph’ or ‘commander of the entire world’s Muslims.’ The empire was abruptly dismantled by the British and the French governments after WWI.

Like the Ottoman Empire, Kanem-Bornu was an African trading empire. Its territory included modern-day southern Chad, northern Cameroon, northeastern Nigeria, eastern Niger, and southern Libya. Its first capital was at Njimi, northeast of Lake Chad. Toward the end of the 11th century, Kanem-Bornu became an Islamic empire, when its leader, Ibn ʿAbd al-Jalīl, converted to Islam until the empire faded out between 1846 and 1893.

Reminiscent of the caliphate declared by Islamic State (IS), Boko Haram has previously had some success in holding territories and declaring caliphates in parts of Nigeria’s northeastern states of Borno, Yobe, and Adamawa. Since then, coordinated and large-scale attacks both within Nigeria and across borders have become increasingly common.

Full report at:

http://globalriskinsights.com/2015/09/is-boko-haram-re-creating-a-caliphate-in-africa/

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Nigeria: Muslim League Says Measures On Economy, Security Will Lead to New Nigeria

4 SEPTEMBER 2015

The Muslim League for Accountability, an NGO, on Friday said that measures taken by the Federal Government on security, corruption and economic revival would lead to the emergence of a new Nigeria.

The Executive Director of the league, Malam Yusuf Arrigasiyyu, stated this in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Kaduna.

Arrigasiyyu said that the measures had started yielding positive results.

"A lot of successes have been recorded within the last three months, which if sustained, will lead to a better country.

"President Muhammadu Buhari's effort in fighting corruption and the recovery of our commonwealth is commendable.

Full report at:

http://allafrica.com/stories/201509041497.html

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President Buhari's make or break strategy against Boko Haram

05 Sep 2015

On 5 September 2015, Muhammadu Buhari will mark the first 100 days of his presidency. As expectations are high, particularly regarding his strategy and actions against Boko Haram, these first 100 days are a useful indicator of what is to come. As Michael Watkins puts it in the Harvard Business Review, ‘what new leaders do in their early days has a disproportionate impact on all that follows’. While this is not his first time at Nigeria’s helm, this former major general faces far different challenges than during his first tenure as military head of state from 1983 to 1985.

Nigerians supposedly elected Buhari to reinstate the country’s honour or ‘manifest destiny’, which has suffered under steady state decay caused by spiralling corruption, a deteriorating economy and persistent insecurity from the Boko Haram crisis in the north of the country. The latter may have played a critical role in Buhari’s election. Thanks to the Islamist sect’s campaign of violence, which reached its peak last year accounting for more than 400 attacks and over 9 000 deaths, support for the previous administration dwindled rapidly.

For many Nigerians, the intensity of Boko Haram attacks demonstrated the inability of the previous administration under Goodluck Jonathan to deal with the crisis. The perceived ineptitude of his government was best illustrated when Boko Haram carried out the mass kidnapping of nearly 300 school girls at Chibok, Borno State, in April 2014, attracting global condemnation. The global social media campaign of #BringBackOurGirls, which mobilised some of the most powerful voices on earth, was perceived almost as an opposition group.

Boko Haram has continued to evolve both structurally and tactically. In March this year, it became the first group in sub-Saharan Africa to pledge allegiance to the Islamic State (IS), signalling a shift in authority from its notorious leader, Abubakar Shekau, to the supreme command of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of IS. This strategic association is meant to enable Boko Haram, which now goes by a new name, the Islamic State Province in West Africa, to benefit from the expansive resources of IS, potentially guaranteeing its long-term sustainability. It’s a union that does not augur well for the fight against Boko Haram because, in theory, it means that defeating the group also requires dismantling the Islamic State.

Since Buhari’s inauguration on 29 May, Boko Haram has intensified its attacks in Nigeria in a bid to intimidate the new president and force his hand. According to data compiled by the ISS on reported major terrorist incidents in Africa, Boko Haram has carried out more than 200 attacks as at 31 August, claiming over 5 000 lives in the four Lake Chad Basin countries – Nigeria, Cameroon, Chad and Niger.

Despite the expansion of the group’s attacks to the three other countries, Nigeria continues to be the principal target. Of the 200 attacks this year, 141 (70%) have occurred in Nigeria, which accounts for 4 233 deaths (85%) of total deaths recorded so far. The deadliest attack was in January when Boko Haram militants invaded Baga, a town in Borno State, where they massacred 2 000 people. Meanwhile, 31 attacks have been recorded in Cameroon with 296 deaths, 16 in Chad with 189 deaths, and 12 in Niger with 160 deaths.

From January to May, before Buhari took office, Boko Haram carried out 115 attacks in all the four countries – a monthly average of 23 attacks. Under Buhari, 86 attacks occurred in three months – a monthly average of 27 attacks. Approximately 3 466 deaths were recorded between January and May, averaging 693 deaths per month. In Nigeria alone, 60 attacks accounting for 1 145 deaths have occurred under Buhari, reaching their peak in July, which accounted for 30 or about half of all attacks in Nigeria between June and August, with 647 or 57% of total Boko Haram-related deaths in the same period in Nigeria.

A major shift in Boko Haram’s tactics during the past 100 days is the increased use of suicide attacks, especially involving young teenage girls. Only 19 suicide attacks took place in the five months before Buhari took power, but at least 33 have occurred in the past three months, accounting for 55% of all attacks carried out during that period. Boko Haram has used suicide attacks not only to reach difficult targets but also to inflict mass casualties. The new administration has rightly made the issue a top priority. Buhari has responded with military, diplomatic, social and economic measures. In a diplomatic offensive, the Boko Haram crisis featured prominently in the president’s first foreign state visits to Niger, Chad, United States, Cameroon, Benin and the G7, where he sought to consolidate support and harness resources to combat the Islamist sect.

Full report at:

http://cameroon-concord.com/op-ed/item/4004-president-buhari-s-make-or-break-strategy-against-boko-haram

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Europe

 

Scholars Split By Claim That Quran Scrap Rewrites Story of Islam

05 September 2015

When chocolate magnate Edward Cadbury funded the acquisition of some 3,000 Middle Eastern manuscripts in the 1920s, he did so in the hope that it would turn Birmingham into a global focal point for religious research.

Some 90 years later, the Quaker philanthropist’s aspirations have been realised in spectacular fashion in the form of four pages of the Quran in early Arabic script which have sparked fierce debate over whether they could rewrite the founding story of Islam.

Leading Oxford academics this week said carbon dating of the parchment, which suggested it dated from between 568-645 AD, may change our understanding of the way in which Islam’s holy book was compiled.

But the assertion that the document, kept at Birmingham University, is part of one of the world’s oldest s – and could possibly date from the early years of the Prophet Mohamed’s life, which is generally thought to have been between 570 to 632 – is strongly disputed by other scholars.

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It is a tenet of Islam that Mohamed received the divine revelations that form the Quran between 610 and the year of his death. But it has long been maintained that the articles of the Muslim faith were not written into book form until about 650, having hitherto been passed on in the “memories of men” or written piecemeal on materials from palm leaves to the shoulder blades of camels.

But the radiocarbon analysis of the “Birmingham”, documents which were recently rediscovered by a PhD student inside a more recent version of the holy book, opens the possibility that a text of the Quran was in circulation during Mohamed’s lifetime. Some historians argue that the earliest end of the date range also leaves open the theory that the document was in existence during the Prophet’s childhood or even before his birth.

Dr Keith Small, an expert on ic texts at the University of Oxford, told The Times: “This gives more ground to what have been peripheral views of the Quran’s genesis, such as that Mohamed and his early followers used a text that was already in existence and shaped it to fit their own political and theological agenda, rather than Mohamed receiving a revelation from heaven.”

Such an interpretation would substantially rewrite the history of Islam and challenge fundamentalist branches of the faith.

But it is also strongly contested by other scholars, who point out that the science of carbon dating is contradicted by other evidence.

They argue that a study of the orthography of the pages – the spelling, grammar and other conventions of language – shows that it can be dated to the second half of the seventh century and therefore fits in with the more traditional explanation of the ’s development.

Among the tell-tale features that indicate that it is from a later version of the holy book are the use of verse markers and marks denoting how a consonant should be pronounced. Such devices, it is argued, were not in use during the Prophet’s life.

Dr Mustafa Shah, senior lecturer in Islamic studies at the School of Oriental and African Studies, told The Independent: “When you look at this, it is clear they simply fit with the stylistic conventions of Arabic linguistic form of the later seventh century.”

Scholars have also pointed out that the carbon dating, carried out at Oxford University, was conducted on the animal skin parchment and not the ink used to write the  pages.

Such was the expense of obtaining parchment in the early days of Islam, however, that it was common practice simply to wash off the ink from already existing texts considered redundant and recycle them with new calligraphy. Dr Abbas Tashkandi, co-founder of the Al-Furqan Islamic Heritage Foundation, said: “The hide may be old, but the writing may be new.”

According to the convention long established by Sunni Muslim scholars, the definitive  was compiled under the rule of Uthman, the third caliph or successor to Mohamed, who was elected from 644 to 656.

Full report at:

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/scholars-split-by-claim-that--scrap-rewrites-story-of-islam-10487474.html

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At least 10 killed in armed attacks in Tajikistan, U.S. embassy shut

Sep 5, 2015

MOSCOW At least eight policemen and two gunmen were killed in Tajikistan on Friday in attacks the authorities in the Central Asian nation blamed on forces loyal to the country's own deputy defence minister.

Tajikistan, an impoverished Muslim nation of 8 million and the poorest ex-Soviet state, is still volatile after a 1992-97 civil war that killed tens of thousands.

The events prompted the U.S. embassy in Dushanbe, the Tajik capital, to shut. A statement on its website said armed gunmen had clashed with Tajik police early on Friday in the city and that the incidents "may be precursors to other acts of violence."

Tajikistan's interior ministry blamed the attacks in Dushanbe and the adjacent city of Vahdat on a "terrorist group" it said had seized arms and ammunition.

It said the group was led by Major General Abdulkhalim Mirzo Nazarzod, the deputy defence minister. He was dismissed later on Friday by Imomali Rakhmon, the president, for "committing a crime".

Law enforcement officers had killed two of the attackers, at least one of whom was a state security official, and wounded three others, the ministry said. It added that six people were detained and that Nazarzod was on the run.

Russia's RIA news agency quoted an unidentified source as saying that 33 interior and defence ministry troops had in fact been killed in Dushanbe, as well as nine of Nazarzod's troops.

Nazarzod is a member of the opposition Islamic Revival Party of Tajikistan. A former opposition militiaman, he was brought into the Tajik armed forces under a 1997 peace deal.

Rakhmon, a former head of a Soviet state farm who tolerates little dissent, has put pressure on the Islamic Revival Party of Tajikistan. He is a close ally of Moscow and used Russian support during the civil war.

Full report at:

http://www.firstpost.com/world/at-least-10-killed-in-armed-attacks-in-tajikistan-u-s-embassy-shut-reuters-2422010.html

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The Demise Of Tajikistan's Islamic Party

September 04, 2015

The Islamic Renaissance Party of Tajikistan (IRPT), the second-largest political party in the country and the only Islamic political party legally registered in Central Asia, is days away from being closed down.

According to an August 28 order from Tajikistan's Justice Ministry, the IRPT must cease all its activities by September 7, two days before Tajikistan's Independence Day.

Many, including the IRPT, accuse Tajik President Emomali Rahmon of orchestrating a protected campaign to remove the IRPT as a political force in the country's politics. If that is true then Rahmon appears to have succeeded, but there will likely be some consequences from the IRPT's closure.

Why the Tajik government would want to close down the IRPT, why it is happening now, and what happens next were the topics of a panel discussion organized by RFE/RL's Turkmen Service, known locally as Azatlyk.

(NOTE: This podcast was recorded on September 2, two days before the violence near Dushanbe that Tajik authorities allege involved at least one former opposition field commander.)

Azatlyk director Mohammad Tahir moderated the discussion. Participating were Habibullo Kurbon, editor at the independent Tajik newspaper Nigoh (View), and Edward Lemon, a doctoral candidate at the U.K.'s University of Exeter who lived in Tajikistan and continues to keep close watch on events there. I, as always, said some things as well.

The IRPT was once the main partner in an alliance that fought against government forces during the 1992-97 Tajik civil war. The IRPT and its allies signed a peace agreement with the government in June 1997. The unique peace deal legalized the wartime opponents' political parties and granted them 30 percent of places in government at all levels from village to ministerial.

The opposition's share in government has gradually been eroded since then and following this year's parliamentary elections in March, no opposition politicians remain in any branch of Tajikistan's national government.

Lemon called the August 28 order from the Justice Ministry "quite a surprising move because the Islamic Renaissance Party was always in a way a useful tool for the government in terms of its international relations with other Islamic countries, in terms of giving an impression that the country is in some way democratic."

Kurbon said the IRPT's popularity has been growing for years. "This party has the backing of society," he said, adding that in Tajikistan, where a post-Soviet religious revival in well under way, "the word ‘Islam' helps this party to involve more and more supporters."

But Lemon said it had been clear for some time that Rahmon's government was moving to eventually neutralize the IRPT. "Since the end of the civil war in 1997 the regime has arrested, exiled and sometimes killed its major opponents and I guess people in Dushanbe in the regime have got to the point where they believe that the party is no longer a useful tool," Lemon explained.

Lemon said the regime seemed to feel secure enough now to take this final step to eliminate the IRPT, and some reasons for this feeling of security were mentioned in the discussion.

Also mentioned was the growing economic trouble in Tajikistan (and throughout Central Asia) and that the Tajik government might wish at this time to silence any potential domestic sources of criticism as the country enters a trying and uncertain period.

It was also noted that growing global concern about Islamic extremist groups helped pave the way for Tajik authorities to allege the IRPT provided a "gateway" of sorts for recruiting. In recent days some in the Tajik government have made clumsy attempts to connect the IRPT and the Islamic State (IS) militant group in Iraq and Syria.

Kurbon rejected that connection, saying, "The chairman of the party, [Muhiddin] Kabiri, several times stressed that their party is against this Islamic State and the Islamic State also several times announced that Kabiri would be killed, they sentenced him to death."

Such an allegation by Tajik authorities could also be seen as an attempt to distract attention from the fact that the best-known citizen of Tajikistan fighting in the ranks of IS is Gulmurod Halimov, who was previously a commander of Tajikistan's Interior Ministry troops.

It was generally agreed there is little the IRPT can do to prevent its activities from being banned. "The Tajik opposition has no tribune to raise their voice," Kurbon said, and Lemon pointed out that "in June, Jumhuriyat, the state-controlled paper, published an article alleging that Muhiddin Kabiri, the party leader, was involved in fraudulent property transactions and now he's in self-imposed exile."

Full report at:

http://www.rferl.org/content/qishloq-ovozi-demise-of-tajik-islamic-party/27227509.html

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Dutch serviceman 'may have joined Islamic State in Syria'

3 September 2015

A serving member of the Dutch air force is suspected to have travelled to Syria to join the Islamic State group.

The Netherlands defence ministry identified the man as a 26-year-old air force sergeant. It said he had been suspended from service and his access to military intelligence revoked.

Authorities are investigating radicalisation in the Dutch military.

The Dutch air force is currently operating in Jordan, taking part in an operation against IS in Iraq.

Sources say the sergeant was not involved in the mission, according to Netherlands' public broadcaster NOS.

The allegations are being investigated by the public prosecutor, the defence ministry said in a statement.

Defence Minister Jeanine Hennis Plasschaert said it would be "unpleasant" if it turned out that one man had "joined up with evil" while his colleagues "risked their lives for other people's freedom".

Islamic State militant sniper in position during a battle against Syrian government forces, in Deir el-Zour province, SyriaImage copyrightAP

Image caption

Islamic State sniper in Syria: Officials have stressed that travelling overseas to join IS fighters is a crime in the Netherlands

Prime Minister Mark Rutte said the allegations were "extremely serious and painful", especially for the sergeant's colleagues.

Officials have stressed that travelling overseas to join IS is a crime in the Netherlands.

The case would be the first time a serving member of the Dutch army has gone to Syria to join IS.

Full report at:

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-34144550

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Syria: Bashar al-Assad ready to share power, says Vladimir Putin

September 4, 2015

Russian President Vladimir Putin said Syria's President Bashar Al-Assad is ready to share power and even could hold snap parliamentary elections.

Russia has been Assad's main international ally during the four-year civil war that has caused millions to flee the country and cost more than 200,000 lives.

Moscow has repeatedly resisted calls for Assad to step aside, and Putin said the West should work with Assad's regime to combat jihadist organisation Islamic State, which now controls more than half of Syria.

"We really want to create some kind of an international coalition to fight terrorism and extremism," Putin told journalists on the sidelines of the Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok.

Putin added he had already spoken to US President Barack Obama on the matter, reports Reuters. "We are also working with our partners in Syria. In general, the understanding is that this uniting of efforts in fighting terrorism should go in parallel to some political process in Syria itself," Putin said.

"And the Syrian president agrees with that, all the way down to holding early elections, let's say, parliamentary ones, establishing contacts with the so-called healthy opposition, bringing them into governing."

On Thursday, Russian military and aircraft were reported to have been deployed to support Assad's forces in Syria. White House spokesman Josh Earnest said on Thursday, September 4, that "any military support to the Assad regime for any purpose, whether it's in the form of military personnel, aircraft supplies, weapons, or funding, is both destabilizing and counter-productive".

The US insists that Assad step aside. In July, Obama told reporters in Washington DC that the only way for Isis to be defeated was for Assad to leave office and for the government to be replaced by an "inclusive" government "that serves all Syrians".

The US has launched airstrikes against Isis positions in Syria, but efforts to build a ground force of moderate rebels to take on jihadist rebels on the ground have so far had little success, with five leaders kidnapped by jihadist group Jabhat Al Nusra shortly after finishing US training.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said Syria's President Bashar Al-Assad is ready to share power and even could hold snap parliamentary elections.

Russia has been Assad's main international ally during the four-year civil war that has caused millions to flee the country and cost more than 200,000 lives.

Moscow has repeatedly resisted calls for Assad to step aside, and Putin said the West should work with Assad's regime to combat jihadist organisation Islamic State, which now controls more than half of Syria.

"We really want to create some kind of an international coalition to fight terrorism and extremism," Putin told journalists on the sidelines of the Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok.

Putin added he had already spoken to US President Barack Obama on the matter, reports Reuters. "We are also working with our partners in Syria. In general, the understanding is that this uniting of efforts in fighting terrorism should go in parallel to some political process in Syria itself," Putin said.

"And the Syrian president agrees with that, all the way down to holding early elections, let's say, parliamentary ones, establishing contacts with the so-called healthy opposition, bringing them into governing."

On Thursday, Russian military and aircraft were reported to have been deployed to support Assad's forces in Syria. White House spokesman Josh Earnest said on Thursday, September 4, that "any military support to the Assad regime for any purpose, whether it's in the form of military personnel, aircraft supplies, weapons, or funding, is both destabilizing and counter-productive".

The US insists that Assad step aside. In July, Obama told reporters in Washington DC that the only way for Isis to be defeated was for Assad to leave office and for the government to be replaced by an "inclusive" government "that serves all Syrians".

The US has launched airstrikes against Isis positions in Syria, but efforts to build a ground force of moderate rebels to take on jihadist rebels on the ground have so far had little success, with five leaders kidnapped by jihadist group Jabhat Al Nusra shortly after finishing US training.

Morocco votes in test for Islamist government

'Elections first step along road to building future'; less than half of voters participated in 2011 elections

Moroccans began voting Friday in local elections seen as a test for the ruling Islamists, who swept to power nearly four years ago after Arab Spring protests that prompted reforms by the monarchy.

About 15 million Moroccans were eligible to vote in the municipal and regional polls, considered a gauge of the popularity of Prime Minister Abdelilah Benkirane and his government, a year ahead of a general election.

In 2011, Benkirane's Islamist Justice and Development Party (PJD) became the North African country's first Islamist party to win a national election, and the first to lead a government.

That vote followed concessions from King Mohammed VI, the scion of a monarchy that has ruled the country for 350 years.

A new constitution curbed some, but not all, of his near-absolute powers as autocratic regimes toppled in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya.

Prime Minister Abdelilah Benkirane casts his vote at a polling station in Rabat on September 4, 2015 ( Fadel Senna (AFP) )

Prime Minister Abdelilah Benkirane casts his vote at a polling station in Rabat on September 4, 2015 ( Fadel Senna (AFP) )

"Fadel Senna (AFP)"

Previously the monarch could choose his prime minister. Now he must appoint a candidate from the party that wins the most seats in parliament.

Around 32,000 seats on local and regional bodies were at stake in Friday's vote, which will offer a snapshot of the political climate.

Full report at:

http://www.i24news.tv/en/news/international/middle-east/84570-150904-morocco-votes-in-test-for-islamist-government

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British Muslim Opinion On Corbyn Is One Of Hope

How appropriate that the man who could most relate to that is the man who defends the community feverishly. Jeremy Corbyn has sparked huge interest in an apathetic community still bearing anger and resentment towards New Labour for the Iraq war.

Corbyn is an enormously principled socialist, anti-war and pro-peace. Defining himself as everything the Establishment is not, he’s won support. But he’s won enemies too.

He isn’t a left-wing firebrand, delivering speeches with rousing passion. Nor is he using the Muslim community for its votes by discrediting rival politicians as either being liars or zionists. In a nutshell, he isn’t being George Galloway. Instead he’s the quiet, humble and hugely impressive giant of a character who has set off like a thunderstorm in the Labour Party. And the rumbles are reverberating around the community.

Slowly but surely, it’s become contagious within the Muslim community.

As realisations of his policies on foreign affairs and Islamophobia have materialised, the Muslim community has largely (but not entirely) been supportive of him.

It is an incredible accomplishment on Corbyn’s part because the Labour Party is a soiled name in the eyes of many Muslims.

To understand what drives Corbyn’s appeal for ordinary Muslims is to understand the fears and insecurities they feel. They have experienced ceaseless scrutiny and criticisms, questions and demands for them to change.

Stripped of a coherent media platform, they have largely been unable to respond and often had unrepresentative voices like Anjem Choudary positioned as their spokespersons.

The anger of the Muslim community orbits largely around foreign policy. The Iraq war was a disaster. It created space for so-called Islamic State (Isis). Ditto the intervention in Libya.

Support for brutal Shi’ite militias fighting Isis overlooks the fact that they are simply a Shi’ite equivalent of Isis, brutally massacring innocent Sunnis where they find them.

Guantanamo Bay, drone strikes and support for brutal dictatorships have hugely angered British Muslims.

The West has often been complicit in, or utterly responsible for, creating the toxic environment in which Islamic extremism thrives.

Extremism is able to manifest itself through anti-Establishment, anti-Western rhetoric to demand a throwback to the socially stable times of the sharia law.

For ordinary Muslims in the Middle East, they are often drawn to that by their experiences, finding some sort of solidarity and meaning in that.

 Within Britain, anger over foreign policy and a search for belonging driven by fierce bigotry and poverty can also lead to the same.

Since the July 7 bombings, over a third of Muslims have reported in a rise of Islamophobia.

Mosques are desecrated, hijabs are pulled and Muslim schoolchildren face bullying.

Fifty per cent of the Muslim community lives in the poorest 10 per cent of council districts, while 28 per cent of Muslims live in social housing.

The discrimination contributes heavily to the life chances of Muslim women as they are 71 per cent less likely to find employment.

Austerity has cut society deep but Islamophobia has torn the wounds open for an already bleeding community.

Tony Blair drafted illiberal laws such as extended detentions, secret court trials, extradition, surveillance of entire communities, racial profiling and other policies.

Innocent Muslims were constantly harassed and spied upon. Under the Tories, these acts worsened. The Counter-Terrorism and Security Act 2015 essentially forced those in the public sector to spy on their Muslim colleagues by watching for signs of radicalisation.

The Prevent strategy demands the same of teachers, asking them to scrutinise students for signs of extremism. All of this is based on dismantling the neighbourly bonds of trust and comradeship fellow human beings have with each other, criminalising Muslims as guilty before innocent.

Full report at:

http://www.morningstaronline.co.uk/a-224e-British-Muslim-opinion-on-Corbyn-is-one-of-hope

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Cameron agrees to take more Syrian refugees

Sep 5, 2015

LISBON: Prime Minister David Cameron said on Friday that Britain would welcome “thousands more” Syrian refugees, after an outpouring of emotion over the image of a Syrian toddler lying dead on a Turkish beach put him under pressure to act. Cameron, who spent two days refusing to commit Britain to taking in more migrants in response to a surge in numbers reaching Europe, gave no precise figure.

A spokeswoman for the UN refugee agency told reporters in Geneva that Britain would offer 4,000 spaces for Syrian refugees.

Later in Madrid, Cameron said his government would spend another 100 million pounds ($152 million) on humanitarian aid, taking its total contribution to 1 billion pounds since 2012.

With Europe seemingly at a loss over how to cope with a huge increase in numbers of migrants and refugees from the Middle East and Africa seeking safety or better lives, Cameron had previously said he did not think the answer was to take in more.

Many at home and abroad accused his government of being uncaring and inflexible, and several of his own Conservative legislators and the human rights chief of the Council of Europe urged Britain to welcome more refugees.

“Given the scale of the crisis and the suffering of people, today I can announce that we will do more in providing resettlement for thousands more Syrian refugees,” Cameron told reporters in Lisbon after meeting his Portuguese counterpart.

About 5,000 Syrians who made their own way to Britain since the start of the war in their country have been granted asylum, and another 216 were brought to Britain under a UN-backed relocation scheme.

“We will accept thousands more under these existing schemes and we keep them under review,” Cameron said, adding that the government would speak with humanitarian organisations and announce further details next week.

Full report at:

http://www.dawn.com/news/1204988/cameron-agrees-to-take-more-syrian-refugees

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India

 

India Muslim Leaders Condemn ISIS: Religious Scholars Endorse Fatwa Lambasting Islamic State Ideology As Un-Islamic

By Michael Kaplan

September 04 2015

More than 1,000 Muslim leaders in India have endorsed a religious ruling, or fatwa, condemning the Islamic State militant group as antithetical to the teachings of Islam and inhumane. Religious leaders in the country have expressed concern over the spread of slick extremist propaganda online, the Wall Street Journal reported Friday.

India’s Ministry of Home Affairs knows of just 17 Indians who have joined the Islamic State, also known as ISIS. That figure is considerably lower than the number of recruits from many European and Middle Eastern countries. An additional 30 Indian Muslims have been stopped by authorities from traveling to Syria to join the radical militant group.

“It is a strong message that we, as a large and influential community of Muslims, reject this kind of torture, killings, violence,” Abdur Rahman Anjaria, a Muslim community leader in Mumbai, told the Wall Street Journal.

India is home to more than 170 million Muslims, putting the country in second place in the world in terms of Muslim demographics. Muslims make up about 14 percent of India’s largely Hindu population. Indian Islam has long been considered moderate and at odds with the radical interpretation of religion endorsed by groups that include al Qaeda and ISIS.

“Repeated statements of this kind help to keep Muslims out of the sphere of radicalization,” Ajai Sahni, executive director of New Delhi’s Institute for Conflict Management, told the Wall Street Journal. “They create an atmosphere and culture and interpretation of Islam that opposes violent jihad.”

Full report at:

http://www.ibtimes.com/india-muslim-leaders-condemn-isis-religious-scholars-endorse-fatwa-lambasting-islamic-2083620

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Muslim Dress Designer Exemplify Communal Harmony in Vrindavan

September 4, 2015

Following the communal incident at Agra's Shamshabad on Thursday, visiting Vrindavan on the eve of Krishna Janmashtami is an eyeopener and a lesson in communal harmony.

Vrindavan was Lord Krishna's fabled playground, where he never differentiated between caste and creed while choosing his playmates, presenting the perfect example of harmony among classes. And Krishna's legacy has continued in Vrindavan till date, where thousands of Muslim workers work long weeks before Janmashtami to prepare the dresses that the Krishna idols wear during the celebrations.

The dresses these Muslim workers prepare are treated by them with the same reverence as they give to their own religion and are prepared with extraordinary finesse that is customarily attributed to Muslim workers only. The quality of these dresses is so fine that they are exported all over the world and even the ISCKON temple at Delhi uses the dresses prepared in Vrindavan by these Muslim artisans.

Full report at:

http://indiatoday.intoday.in/story/muslim-dress-designer-exemplify-communal-harmony-in-vrindavan/1/465516.html

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Afzal Guru, Yakub Memon hangings send signals of weak Government: Justice Ajit Prakash Shah

by Maneesh Chhibber

New Delhi

Sep 5, 2015

Less than a week after after he demitted office as Chairman of the Law Commission of India after submitting a landmark report recommending abolition of death penalty except in cases of terror attacks, former Delhi High Court Chief Justice Ajit Prakash Shah Friday said the sudden and “secretive” hanging of Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru was a mistake by the government.

“I don’t understand why it had to be done so secretly and so suddenly. In my opinion, it was a sign of weakness and caused great setback to attempts to resolve the Kashmir issue. The decision was completely political,” Justice Shah told The Indian Express.

Watch Video: Yakub Memon: All You Need To Know

[App users click here to see video]

Incidentally, former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Omar Abdullah had also said Guru had been hanged for “political reasons”, and that even he had been informed just hours before the execution.

Asked if he agreed with the way in which the government and the Supreme Court handled the mercy plea and the petition filed by 1993 Mumbai blasts convict Yakub Memon, the jurist said, “Both the Executive and the Judiciary didn’t perform their duty completely and transparently. “I have so far refrained from speaking on this issue as I was holding this post. But now I can speak freely. I don’t know what was the great hurry to hang him. This is not the sign of a vibrant democracy. The manner in which the Supreme Court handled the case, holding a hearing pre-dawn, also was not good. It was almost as if the Judiciary was trying to stick to the deadline to hang him. This hanging has alienated an entire community. Look at the crowd that came to attend his burial. Unfortunately, the signal that has gone out is that there are two sets of rules for dealing with such cases — one for killers like Rajiv Gandhi’s and another for those from the minority community like Yakub Memon. This is very unfortunate,” he added. Elaborating on the role of the judiciary, he pointed out that several important reasons were ignored while deciding Memon’s case as well as the mercy petition. “The governments may have an ideology but it should have absolutely no impact on the judiciary. Full report at:

http://indianexpress.com/article/india/india-others/afzal-guru-yakub-memon-hangings-send-signals-of-weak-govt-justice-ajit-prakash-shah/

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Bodh Gaya may become spiritual capital of Buddhism

Sep 5, 2015

NEW DELHI: Prime Minister Narendra Modi will visit Bodh Gaya on Saturday amid indications that he may declare the city where Lord Buddha attained enlightenment as the spiritual capital of Buddhism.

Modi who will be the first PM to visit Bodh Gaya since 1954, sees the place as one which has the credentials to emerge as the "global symbol and vehicle" for enlightenment and peace.

The focus on Buddhism is part of the Modi government's strategy to leverage India's soft power to reach out to a large swathe of countries steeped in Buddhist influence. "This is an asset which was never appreciated. Civilisational affinity between India and these countries can be a force multiplier for Delhi, helping it to forge new partnerships and deepen existing ones," said a senior government source involved in 'Samvad - Global Hindu-Buddhist Initiative on Conflict Avoidance and Environment Consciousness'.

The harnessing of India's Buddhist legacy, advocated among others by national security advisor A K Doval, has emerged as a conspicuous feature of foreign policy under Modi who, while commemorating Buddha Purnima, proclaimed Buddha to be the reason why Asia would dominate the 21st century.

Full report at:

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Bodh-Gaya-may-become-spiritual-capital-of-Buddhism/articleshow/48831613.cms

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Posters in Srinagar’s Pulwama ask locals to live life the Islamic way

Sep 4, 2015

Hizbul Mujahideen militant outfit on Friday pasted posters in Kellar belt of south Kashmir’s Pulwama district, asking people to live life the Islamic way and keep a close watch on the activities of their wards and stay indoors after 8:30 PM. Claiming to have prepared a hit list of 10 persons, the posters also warned of “stern action” against political activists and those spreading drugs and waywardness. “The people are advised to desist from wrong doing and try to live their lives in accordance with the Islamic teachings and strive for the supremacy of the religion,” the posters read.

Full report at:

http://indianexpress.com/article/india/india-others/posters-in-srinagars-pulwama-ask-locals-to-live-life-the-islamic-way/

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UAE-India target $75 billion investments

Sep 5, 2015

NEW DELHI: India and UAE are utilizing a congruence of geopolitical and economic interests to realize a potential $75 billion investment commitment by the Gulf state in Indian infrastructure. Within weeks of the PM's visit to Abu Dhabi and Dubai, the UAE foreign minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed al Nahyan arrived in India on Thursday with a 95-member delegation cutting across sectors as diverse as renewable energy to defence, security, tourism and higher education.

The visit was bumped up from being a normal visit by a foreign minister with Al Nahyan meeting defence minister Manohar Parrikar, as well as railways minister Suresh Prabhu apart from Sushma Swaraj with whom he conducted the joint commission meeting. Significantly, national security adviser Ajit Doval held a dinner for the visiting foreign minister. While the business component of the visit saw progress in a number of key collaborations, Anil Wadhwa, secretary east in MEA clarified that it was a "congruence of geopolitical interests" that has put an "already robust relationship on a faster track" after the August visit by PM Modi.

An MEA statement issued at the end of Al Nahyan's visit said, "The two sides agreed to increase the bilateral trade by 60% over the next five years and also to encourage the investment institutions of the UAE to raise their investments in India, including through the establishment of UAE-India Infrastructure Investment Fund, with the aim of reaching a target of $75 billion."

At the security level, both countries will now cooperate against terrorism, including intelligence sharing on transnational networks based in third countries. This is the first sign that Pakistan-sponsored terror groups may soon find their room for operation in UAE getting squeezed. The fight against IS constituted a big part of the agenda, focusing on the need to ensure "the root causes of their progress are stopped, and that is basically financing, who are the people who finance them, how do they sustain themselves, which is the way that countries can elaborate on a global scale," Wadhwa said.

Full report at:

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/UAE-India-target-75-billion-investments/articleshow/48831734.cms

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South Asia

 

Mullah Omar asked Musharraf to bomb Kandahar: US cable

Sep 5, 2015

WASHINGTON: The late Taliban leader Mullah Omar asked the Musharraf government to bring in weapons and bomb Kandahar if it did not like Taliban policies, reveals a secret US cable released by the State Department.

Pervez Musharraf, who was then the country’s chief executive, conveyed this message to then US Under Secretary of State Thomas Pickering at a meeting in Islamabad on March 26, 2000.

In the meeting, “the chief executive referred to the recent visit of DG ISI Gen Mahmud to Kandahar as evidence of what it was like to deal with the Taliban”.

“Mullah Omar told Mahmud he was sorry that Taliban policies were causing Pakistan problems and suggested that if (Islamabad) did not like (those policies), it might want to bring in its weapons and begin shelling Kandahar,” Gen Musharraf told Mr Pickering.

Know more: After Mullah Omar: ‘This is not the end of war’

When Mr Musharraf urged the US to engage with the Taliban directly, Mr Pickering said the US had been engaging with the Taliban “at multiple venues on repeated occasions, in Washington, New York and Islamabad”.

Mr Pickering said “the fact that Pakistan was the strongest supporter of the Taliban, was of particular concern” to the US.

“This presented us with the anomaly of a good friend being the best friend of our worst enemy. This was an abscess on our relationship that would only get worse and worse.”

Mr Pickering said the US understood why Gen Musharraf did not want to go to Kandahar without being able to bring back concrete results. “But it was important that he recognise that the Bin Laden issue was eating away at our relationship.”

Mr Musharraf replied that he was well aware of US concerns and was personally engaged in dealing with the Taliban on three major issues. The first was terrorist training camps and the sanctuary being given by the Taliban to Pakistani terrorists and criminals. The second was the peace issue. And the third was Osama Bin Laden.

The former chief executive said that Osama Bin Laden was the one area where progress was not being made. He noted he had recently met the visiting Taliban interior minister, who had exhibited a “little bit” of flexibility on the issue. The minister had indicated the possibility of constituting an Ulema council, bringing together religious scholars from Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and perhaps the OIC, to consider the evidence against Bin Laden.

Mr Musharraf said that the Taliban continued to want to see proof of Bin Laden’s guilt. Mr Pickering pointed out that the US had recently given Pakistan a full presentation of the evidence against Bin Laden.

Full report at:

http://www.dawn.com/news/1205027/mullah-omar-asked-musharraf-to-bomb-kandahar-us-cable

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148 Insurgents Killed, Wounded In Past Two Days In Afghanistan

Sep 05 2015

Ministry of Defense says that 148 insurgents have been killed and in newest security operations in 18 provinces.

A statement issued by the ministry on Saturday states that the operations were conducted in Kunar, Ghazni, Logar, Paktia, Paktika, Khost, Kandahar, Urozgan, Daikundi, Zabul, Ghor, Farah, Baghlan, Sar-i-Pul, Kundoz, Faryab, Takhar and Helmand provinces in past 48 hours.

According to the press released, 77 militants were killed, 71 wounded and 8 others detained during these operations.

Full report at:

http://www.khaama.com/ministry-of-defense-says-148-insurgents-killed-wounded-in-past-two-days

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Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami’s “Wait and See Policy” Belies Survival Preparations

Mohammad Al-Masum Molla

September 5, 2015

If Bangladesh banned religious-based political parties, Jamaat will emulate the response of religious-based political parties in Turkey’

After failing to oust the government from office and halt the trial of its leaders for 1971 war crimes, the Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami’s “wait and see policy” belies the long-term preparations the party has made to survive.

Jamaat leaders said they are waiting to see if the government actually bans the party. If it does, party bosses say they will re-establish it with new faces in the leadership under a new political platform, on the model of the Turkish Islamist political parties.

The Dhaka Tribune has learnt that the party will not come out of its quiescence at this time but will wait for the government’s next move.

One section of the party, led by the business wing of party, wants to modify the party on the lines of the Turkish Justice and Development Party (AKP).

Another section, led by former Chhatra Shibir members, prefer “direct action,” a euphemism for street politics and violence.

The past

In 2013, the Election Commission cancelled Jamaat’s registration, stripping the party of its right to take part in any kind of election as an organisation, following a court order that ruled that Jamaat’s constitution was not in compliance with the country’s constitution.

This is not the first time the party has faced a major crisis. Jamaat has always been on the wrong side of Bangladesh’s history.

Jamaat was banned after the Liberation War. In the parliamentary elections of 1979, six of its members were elected under the banner of the Islamic Democratic League.

Since then, Jamaat has sought to gain legitimacy and popular support.

The right-wing political party has made strategic alliances with both the BNP and Awami League at different points of time.

Jamaat’s violent reaction to the death penalty awarded to its leader Delawar Hossain Sayedee drew massive criticism across the country and from around the world.

Further violent campaigns ahead of the January 5 general elections and this year has again drawn widespread criticism.

Hundreds of people were maimed and burned and over a hundred killed in the BNP-led alliance strike and blockade programme of 2015. The Islamist political party, whose activists helped enforce unpopular the strikes with firebombings, share in the blame for the carnage of the 90-day “movement.”

There is vocal international pressure for the BNP to put an end to its dealings with Jamaat-e-Islami. The European Union has publicly asked the BNP to sever its ties to Jamaat.

The present

Currently, the acting ameer of Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami is Maqbul Ahmed.

His leadership team includes Central Nayeb-e-Ameer Mujibur Rahman, acting Secretary General Shafiqur Rahman, Central Executive Committee member AHM Hamidur Rahman Azad, Central Publicity Secretary Tasnim Alam, Central Executive Committee Member and Dhaka city unit President Rafiqul Islam Khan.

Also influential in the party are Central Executive Committee member and Dhaka city unit Secretary Nurul Islam Bulbul, Central Executive Committee member and Dhaka city unit Assistant Secretary Selimuddin, Central Working Committee member and Assistant Secretary of the Dhaka city Jamaat Monjurul Islam Bhuiyan and Central Working Committee member and Dhaka city unit Nayeb-e-Ameer Maulana Abdul Halim.

Central Jamaat leader Redwanullah Sahedi

is the party’s key liaison officer with the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) and typically represents his party at alliance meetings.

On the party’s silence over the trial of its top leaders, Imran Hossain, Ameer of Khulna district Jamaat, said: “There is currently no way we can enforce a systematic and democratic movement. We cannot behave like a terrorist party because, worldwide, Islam is branded as ‘terrorist.’ There is no use wasting energy. We are waiting with great patience.”

The future

According to a US embassy cable leaked by whistle-blower website WikiLeaks on September 1, 2011, the party already had a back-up plan ready in the event of a ban or a cancellation of registration.

Full report at:

http://www.dhakatribune.com/politics/2015/sep/05/jamaat-plots-its-next-move

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Fears stalk Bangladesh bloggers after killing spree

Sep 5, 2015

DHAKA: Nervous, pale and sleep deprived, Bangladesh blogger Shammi Haque describes living in constant fear after four of her colleagues were hacked to death this year by suspected Islamists.

A social activist, feminist and atheist writer, Haque rarely ventures outside her home in the capital and receives 24-hour police protection, fearful of being next on the list of machete-wielding attackers.

“I cannot close my eyes without having sleeping pills. Even the noise of the window shutters scares me,” the 22-year-old university student told AFP recently in Dhaka.

Bangladesh's bloggers and secular activists have been in hiding or fled the country since the murders —including that of Niloy Chakrabarti, a vocal critic of Islamic fundamentalism, in his home in August.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's secular government has vowed to hunt down the killers, following international outrage and accusations it failed to stop the attacks, wary of a political backlash from Islamists.

Police have stepped up security for those being threatened and thought to be on the hit-list drawn up by a hardline Islamist group.

A string of arrests have been made, and police this week charged five militants of banned Islamist militant outfit Ansarullah Bangla Team over the murder of Washiqur Rahman, the first blogger killed in January.

But bloggers including Shammi are unconvinced by the belated efforts and question the government's sincerity.

“At least 12 atheist bloggers have fled the country this year. And 70 bloggers have asked for assistance for migration as their lives are at stake,” said Berlin-based atheist blogger Asif Mohiuddin.

Mohiuddin left Bangladesh after surviving a machete attack in 2013. Police have accused several of Mohiuddin's attackers, who were released on bail, of later murdering Chakrabarti.

“I am not sure whether the government is sincere in protecting the bloggers. If that was the case, these murderers could have never got bail and continued their killing spree,” said Mohiuddin.

Moderate Muslim nation

Islamists have long clashed with young secular activists whom they consider infidels for criticising Islam on social media, some of them under pen names.

But the gruesome killings have shaken many in Bangladesh which prides itself on being a mainly moderate Muslim country.

The impoverished and officially secular nation of 160 million has largely rejected Islamic extremism since gaining independence from Pakistan in 1971.

At a restaurant in Dhaka, Haque tells of death threats made by anonymous callers to her mobile and also on social media, as well as being followed by strangers.

As a police officer hovers nearby, Haque, known for her feminist and atheist posts on blogs and Facebook, says she swings between wanting to leave and a desire to stay and write.

“Many of my friends including fellow activists and bloggers had to leave the country after receiving such threats,” she says, jumping as a waiter drops a fork on the floor nearby.

“But I want to stay and continue writing, although I know I need to be alive first.”

Death threats

One of the bloggers, Bangladeshi-born US citizen Avijit Roy, was hacked to death on a crowded street in Dhaka in February.

Although encouraged by recent arrests, bloggers accuse the government of sitting on its hands over the killings. They say the government is wary of losing votes in the deeply conservative rural heartland where Islamist leaders hold great sway.

The government has cracked down on Islamist activists in recent years after large-scale, violent protests against conviction of their leaders for war crimes dating back to the 1971 independence conflict.

Full report at:

http://www.dawn.com/news/1204913/fears-stalk-bangladesh-bloggers-after-killing-spree

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Suicide bombing leaves 14 civilians wounded in Logar

Sep 05 2015

14 civilians have been wounded in a suicide blast in Logar province.

Mohammad Qasim Sediqi, member of Logar’s provincial council said that the incident took place in a bus station in Pul-i-Alam, the provincial capital, this morning.

He said the suicide bomber blasted his explosives among a high volume of people who had come to the bus station to go to Khoshi area.

10 victims of the incident have been taken under medical care in Pul-i-Alam but four others were shifted to Kabul for being in critical condition.

Full report at:

http://www.khaama.com/suicide-bombing-leaves-14-civilians-wounded-in-logar-3867

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Qatar to open embassy in Kabul

By ZABIHULLAH MOOSAKHAIL

Sep 05 2015

Afghanistan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs has announced that Qatar is going to open an embassy in Kabul.

A statement issued by the ministry on Saturday states that the matter was discussed between Foreign Minister Salahuddin Rabani and his Qatari counterpart Khalid Bin Mohammed AlAttiyah in Kabul yesterday.

The statement, however, does not specify when the Arab country is going to open its embassy.

Qatar had talked to Afghan officials about opening an embassy in Kabul two years before in President Karzai’s tenure but it was still delayed due to unannounced reasons.

Reports suggest that Afghanistan and Qatar will also ink some agreements in different sectors in near future.

Full report at:

http://www.khaama.com/qatar-to-open-embassy-in-kabul-3866

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Pakistani official blames Hamid Karzai for spoiling peace talks

Sep 05 2015

A senior Pakistani official has accused the former President Hamid Karzai and Afghan Intelligence – National Directorate of Security (NDS) for spoiling peace talks with the Taliban group.

During a background discussion with the media ahead of Sartaj Aziz’s visit to Kabul, the official said the decision to reveal Mullah Mohammad Omar’s death amid peace talks was unwise.

The official did not elaborate further on how the former president and Afghan intelligence spoil the peace efforts.

He said there was a strong possibility of reaching an understanding with the Taliban group to reduce violence as eight Taliban shura members were ready for 2nd of talks.

The remarks by the senior Pakistani official comes as relations between Kabul and Islamabad hit an all time low following a series of deadly attacks in capital Kabul apparently orchestrated by militant groups based in Pakistan.

In the meantime, the former president appeared in a 2-hour interview broadcasted by Tolo TV on Thursday night slamming Pakistan for trying to have control on Afghanistan’s foreign policies towards India, recognition of Durand Line and interference in internal affairs of Afghanistan.

Full report at:

http://www.khaama.com/pakistani-official-blames-hamid-karzai-for-spoiling-peace-talks-1474

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Saudi Arabia okays extradition of Rajon murder accused

Sep 5, 2015

The deportation of Kamrul Islam, the prime accused in the murder of thirteen-year-old Sheikh Samiul Alam Rajon, has been approved by Saudi Arabia’s royal court.

The extradition process is expected to take no more than two weeks.

State Minister for Foreign Affairs M Shahriar Alam confirmed the desert kingdom’s decision to extradite the prime suspect in the brutal murder, in a post on his official Facebook page.

“Saudi Royal court approved deportation of Quamrul (sic). They have already issued letter to Interpol. Few other paper works (sic) should not take more than two weeks,” the post reads.

An official of the Bangladesh consulate in Jeddah, who asked not to be named, yesterday told the Dhaka Tribune: “The paperwork required to deport Kamrul is in the final stages.

“A final approval from the Saudi Arabian Home Ministry is all that is needed. We hope that very soon we can deport him to Bangladesh.”

On August 27, Bangladesh Ambassador to Saudi Arabia Golam Mosih told the Dhaka Tribune: “The Saudi authorities contacted me and said that Kamrul would be repatriated within the next three to four weeks.”

There is no extradition treaty between the two countries. “Despite that, in the absence of any political element, he will be repatriated very smoothly,” Mosih said.

Rajon, 13, was tied to a pole and clubbed to death by Kamrul and several others in Kumargaon on the outskirts of Sylhet city on July 8, after falsely being accused of theft.

Sixty-four injury marks were found on his body, according to the autopsy report.

His tormentors recorded the brutal beating on a mobile phone and circulated the video on the internet, setting off a massive uproar.

Sylhet Metropolitan Police pressed charges in court against 13 people, including Kamrul, on August 16.

Full report at:

http://www.dhakatribune.com/crime/2015/sep/05/saudi-arabia-okays-extradition-rajon-murder-accused

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Bangladesh and Australian police to curb transnational crimes together

Sep 5, 2015

Bangladesh police and Australian Federal Police will work together in curbing transnational organised crimes as the two police forces signed a Memorandum of Understanding in Australian capital city Canberra yesterday. Inspector General of Bangladesh Police AKM Shahidul Hoque and Commissioner of Australian Federal Police Andrew Colvin signed the MoU on behalf of their respective police forces. From now both the police forces will work together in controlling various types of transnational organised crimes including terrorism, smugglings of illegal drugs, goods and illegal firearms, cyber crimes and piracy. It is expected that cooperation between the two forces will be increased in curbing transnational crimes following the signing of the MoU, said Assistant Inspector General (Media) of Police Headquarters Md Nazrul Islam. After signing the MoU, the IGP said increasing technical capability, information exchange and coordination between the two police forces will play a positive role in combating crimes in the region.

http://www.dhakatribune.com/bangladesh/2015/sep/05/bangladesh-and-australian-police-curb-transnational-crimes-together

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Pakistan

 

Washington takes Islamabad on board over anti-IS alliance

September 05, 2015

ISLAMABAD - The United States has taken Pakistan into confidence over a new US military alliance to fight the growing global presence of the self-styled Islamic State.

A report said the new alliance, called ‘Sahel to South Asia’ is expected to be announced soon by the White House.

“Pakistan has been consulted by the US at the highest level on this issue,” said a top government official.

Pakistan will take a formal decision after conducting consultations with all domestic stakeholders over joining the alliance, added the official.

“IS has presence in Afghanistan, and they maintain close collaboration with militant organisations, and if not tackled they can pose a threat to Pakistan’s security,” the government official further said.

More details are expected to be worked out through a high-level meeting between the military leadership of both countries.

Once the alliance is officially announced and made public by the US.

In February this year, the foreign office had broken its silence regarding the IS activities inside Pakistan, admitting that the radical Islamist group posed a “serious threat” to the country.

A report also emerged on Friday suggesting a Pakistani was among 13 detained in the UAE on charges of planning to join the Islamic State and recruiting, financing and providing logistics to those willing to joining the terror outfit, since early August.

This is after two Indians hailing from northern Kerala, detained as part of the same group, were deported from the UAE a couple of days ago.

According to intelligence sources, the UAE security services came across two groups of people hailing from India, based in Abu Dhabi and Dubai, who were involved in sharing and discussing issues pertaining to IS on social media.

They were also reportedly trying to establish online contact with IS leaders.

Of those detained, eight were in Abu Dhabi and five in Dubai.

A Bangladeshi national were also held.

Earlier this year, leaflets calling for support for IS were seen in parts of Northwest Pakistan, while pro-IS slogans had also appeared on walls in several cities.

Security forces had also arrested a man in January, whom they believed was the commander of IS in the country involved in recruiting and sending fighters to Syria.

Full report at:

http://nation.com.pk/national/05-Sep-2015/washington-takes-islamabad-on-board-over-anti-is-alliance

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Security forces foil defence day terror attack in Quetta: ISPR

MATEEN HAIDER

Sep 5, 2015

ISLAMABAD: Security forces have arrested a suspected terrorist who was planning to carry out attacks in Quetta on the occasion of Defence Day.

The suspected terrorist was arrested from Quetta in an intelligence-based operation, the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) said in a statement.

The statement issued from the army’s General Headquarters (GHQ) in Rawalpindi said that security forces recovered a remote-controlled improvised explosive device (IED) from the suspect’s possession. Moreover, some six kilogrammes of explosives and nuts and bolts were also recovered from the arrested man.

Also read: 1965 and after

The ISPR said security personnel defused another IED that had already been planted at the site from where the man was arrested. It added that during the preliminary probe, the suspected terrorist, whose name has not been revealed, had confessed to having links with India’s premier intelligence agency, the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW).

During questioning, the man also confessed to planting IEDs in Quetta on two occasions in the past, incidents in which several people were killed.

Full report at:

http://www.dawn.com/news/1205097/security-forces-foil-defence-day-terror-attack-in-quetta-ispr

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PPP calls for inquiry into Musharraf’s Kashmir policy

Sep 5, 2015

ISLAMABAD: PPP Co-Chairman Asif Ali Zardari has called for an inquiry into what he has described as the soft stance of former military ruler retired Gen Pervez Musharraf on Kashmir issue.

“It needs to be investigated as to why Musharraf chose to deviate from Pakistan’s principled position (on the matter) and that too behind the back of Kashmiris and the people of Pakistan,” the former president said in a statement issued in Dubai on Friday.

He expressed concern over media reports that Mr Musharraf “secretly sought to barter away the rights of Kashmiris” without reference to the parliament and people of the disputed region.

Know more: Musharraf agreed in 2000 to low-key UN resolutions on Kashmir: US cable

“The reports that Musharraf agreed to ignore UN resolutions on Kashmir are most disturbing and the motives behind the dictator’s secret moves must be probed,” the PPP leader said.

Mr Zardari said that successive governments, even while seeking to normalise relations with India in other areas, had never given up on the principled stance on the UN resolutions.

He recalled that the late prime minister Benazir Bhutto had warned of disastrous consequences if the country unilaterally gave up its principled stance on Kashmir without quid pro quo. Responding to her apprehensions, the Musharraf regime had denied any move to ignore the UN resolutions.

The United States cables now made public under the country’s Freedom of Information Act, however, had revealed that the Musharraf regime’s denial was bogus, Mr Zardari said.

Any resolution of the Kashmir dispute must be based on the wishes of the people of Kashmir and the UN resolutions were key to it, he said.

KP BY-ELECTIONS: Former prime minister and PPP Secretary General Raja Pervez Ashraf has expressed apprehensions that the PTI-led coalition in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa might be tempted to exert pressure on the administration in Upper Dir to manipulate the by-elections in the provincial assembly’s constituency of PK-93.

In a letter to the Chief Election Commissioner, he said the ruling parties in the province would desperately seek to win the seat to avenge the embarrassment of deseating of its MPA by the Election Commission.

By-elections in PK-93, Upper Dir, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, have been scheduled for Sept 15. The electoral contest has turned out to be a straight fight between the ruling coalition in the province, represented by the Jamaat-i-Islami candidate, and the PPP, supported by the opposition parties, including the ANP, JUI and PML-N.

Full report at:

http://www.dawn.com/news/1205045/ppp-calls-for-inquiry-into-musharrafs-kashmir-policy

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Nisar convinced Britain to withdraw Altaf support

September 05, 2015

ISLAMABAD - Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar has convinced British authorities to ‘withdraw’ their support for Muttahida Qaumi Movement chief Altaf Hussain in exchange of certain guarantees.

The revelation came during a meeting between the interior minister and Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif at the PM House yesterday.

“The interior minister met the premier at the PM House to discuss his visit to the United Kingdom and his meetings with British leadership,” a PM House statement said.

“Nisar convinced British authorities to withdraw their support for MQM chief Altaf Hussain in exchange of certain guarantees,” a source said

“Nisar’s recent visit was a continuation of last year’s talks aimed at getting support from British authorities in curbing MQM and Baloch insurgents who are currently seeking asylum in UK,” the source added.

Full report at:

http://nation.com.pk/national/05-Sep-2015/nisar-convinced-britain-to-withdraw-altaf-support

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Pakistan takes issue of Indian ceasefire violations to UN Security Council

Sep 5, 2015

UNITED NATIONS: Pakistan has urged the UN Security Council (UNSC) to “take notice” of the escalating incidents of firing by Indian troops across the Line of Control (LoC) in the disputed Kashmir region and the Working Boundary in which a large number of civilians have been killed and injured, it was officially stated Friday.

In a letter to the President of the UNSC, Ambassador Vitaly Churkin of Russia, who holds the rotational presidency of the 15-member body for the month of September, Pakistan’s Ambassador to the UN Maleeha Lodhi emphasised that India should be asked to abide by the 2003 ceasefire agreement.

In doing so, Ambassador Lodhi has taken the issue of India's “provocative” actions to the highest levels of the United Nations.

Also read: Pakistan to raise India’s truce violations at UN: minister

In her letter, the Pakistani envoy gave details of breaches of the ceasefire, and pointed out that there had been a spike in such violence in the last couple of months. These violations have involved the use of small arms as well as heavy mortar fire, and had targeted innocent civilians, including women and children, it was said in the letter.

She requested UNSC president to circulate the letter as an official document of the Security Council.

Full report at:

http://www.dawn.com/news/1205099/pakistan-takes-issue-of-indian-ceasefire-violations-to-un-security-council

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MQM leader’s brother, others booked for China-cutting business, money laundering

IMTIAZ ALI

Sep 5, 2015

KARACHI: The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) has registered two FIRs against the brother of a London-based MQM leader, a banker and several officials of an exchange company for illegally transferring money out of Pakistan through fake bank accounts and Hawala to the UK and the UAE, it emerged on Friday.

They allegedly transferred between Rs50 million and Rs60m generated through land grabbing, particularly China-cutting — the illegal carving out of smaller residential plots, less than 120 square yards, from a big amenity plot — to London, Dubai and Sharjah from 2013 to 2015, according to FIA officials and documents obtained by Dawn.

According to the FIR (44/2015) registered by the FIA commercial banks circle on behalf of the state, Syed Iqbal Rasheed allegedly abused his official position as branch manager of the NIB Bank, Stadium Road, and the UBL Bank Ltd, SMCHS branch to provide ‘illegal benefit’ of banking services to Mohammad Ahsan, alias Chunnu Mamu, pertaining to laundering the proceeds obtained from unlawful business of China-cutting abroad.

The FIR did not mention the affiliation of Mohammad Ahsan, alias Chunnu Mamu, with any political party, but FIA director Shahid Hayat in his recent letter to the Sindh government stated that Mohammed Ahsan alias Chunnu Mama was ‘brother of Muhammad Anwar of MQM, London’.

The FIA claimed that from November 2013 to September 2014, Iqbal Rasheed being NIB Bank branch manager opened at least five bank accounts in the name of Mohammad Ahsan and his family members. These accounts were opened “illegally and fraudulently with fake and forged signatures in collusion with accused Mohammad Ahsan in order to provide illegal services of transfer of proceeds of crimes to the latter from Karachi to London, Sharjah and Dubai,” according to the FIR.

Similarly, the FIA said that while being UBL Bank branch manager from October 2014 to July 2015, Iqbal Rasheed illegally and fraudulently opened four bank accounts with fake and forge signatures in collusion with Mohammad Ahsan alias Chunnu Mamu in order to provide illegal services of transfer of proceeds of crimes to him from Karachi to London, Sharjah and Dubai.

“Since the year 2013, Mohammad Ahsan alias Chunnu Mamu and his family members have not been residing in Pakistan but illegally and fraudulently got opened the above bank accounts in connivance with accused Syed Iqbal Rasheed and received proceeds of crimes in the bank accounts being maintained abroad,” as per the FIR copy.

The FIR mentioned the account numbers of Mohammad Ahsan and his family members maintained in six banks in Edgware London namely Hailfax Bank and Natwest Bank branches and two banks in Sharjah and Dubai, respectively, where the money was transferred through the alleged fake accounts in Karachi.

The FIA believed that Iqbal Rasheed abused his official position as bank manager and provided illegal banking services to accused Chunnu Mamu and others. The banker “dishonestly, fraudulently and illegally laundered proceeds of crimes abroad to the tune of millions of rupees obtained from illegal business of land grabbing and thereby committed offences punishable with Sections 409, 420, 468, 471, 109/34 of Pakistan Penal Code.”

According to the other FIR (45/2015) registered by the FIA on a complaint of deputy director of exchange policy department, the State Bank of Pakistan, Mohammad Ahsan alias Chunnu Mamu and his wife Ms Sikandar Ahsan in collusion with the banker remained involved in illegal purchase of foreign currencies and sending remittances out of Pakistan through Hawala through a director of Gohar Exchange Company, Syed Mohammad Ashfaq, and his associates/employees namely Mohammad Masoom-ul-Hassan, Amjad Iqbal, Imran Iqbal and others.

Full report at:

http://www.dawn.com/news/1204952/mqm-leaders-brother-others-booked-for-china-cutting-business-money-laundering

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Aziz meeting with Ghani fails to break the ice

BAQIR SAJJAD SYED

Sep 5, 2015

ISLAMABAD: Afghan Presi­dent Ashraf Ghani conveyed on Friday mixed signals to Pakistan on resumption of rapprochement that was disrupted last month after terrorist attacks in Kabul.

As Adviser on National Security and Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz returned to Islamabad after a day-long trip to the Afghan capital it wasn’t clear if a thaw in ties after weeks of estrangement was in the offing or the tensions would persist.

Take a look: ‘Pakistan and Afghanistan need each other’

Addressing the participants of the sixth edition of Regional Economic Confere­nce on Afghanistan (RECCA-VI) in Kabul hours after he had held an hour and half long one-to-one meeting with Mr Aziz, President Ghani reiterated his policy of good neighbourly ties with Pakistan, but at the same time pointed fingers at unnamed elements within Pakistan who, in his view, were opposed to peace in his country (Afghanistan).

Adviser carries five key messages to Afghanistan

It looked from the statement as if the meeting between Mr Ghani and Mr Aziz, which was being keenly followed, failed to achieve any major breakthrough.

Mr Aziz was leading the Pakistani delegation to the regional conference, which in addition to foreign ministry officials, included Director General Military Operations Maj Gen Aamer Riaz.

Besides attending the conference and meeting President Ghani, the adviser met a number of Afghan leaders, including Foreign Minis­ter Salahuddin Rabbani, National Security Adviser Hanif Atmar, Second Deputy to Chief Executive Officer Mohammad Mohaqiq and Ustad Atta Muhammad Noor. He also attended a reception hosted by Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah.

The focus of Mr Aziz’s discussions in Kabul was on finding a way to end the acrimony in the relationship that became more pronounced after last month’s attacks in Kabul.

Significantly, there was no joint communiqué at the end of the visit. No statement was issued on the meetings Mr Aziz had held with Afghan leaders in Kabul.

According to an analyst, the best indicator of what transpired in Kabul vis-a-vis the bilateral ties was the speech that Mr Ghani delivered at the conference.

Afghan president said: “Pakistan’s leaders express the desire for peace but face the challenge of controlling those forces that believe that an unstable and weakened Afghanistan is better than a strong and confident neighbour.”

The veiled reference to the ‘spoilers’ and anti-peace elements within Pakistan neutralised the positivity generated by the reiteration of the Afghan president’s policy of normalisation of ties with Pakistan.

Full report at:

http://www.dawn.com/news/1205033/aziz-meeting-with-ghani-fails-to-break-the-ice

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‘Rangers kept MQM workers in illegal detention for eight months’

AZFAR-UL-ASHFAQUE

Sep 5, 2015

KARACHI: The Rangers formally detained two Muttahida Qaumi Movement ‘missing’ workers for three months after keeping them in their illegal detention for around eight months, said a senior MQM leader on Friday.

Speaking at a press conference at the Khurshid Begum Secretariat in Azizabad, senior MQM leader Dr Farooq Sattar said the two workers, Mirza Zeeshan Beg and Syed Tanveer Ahmed, were the victim of enforced disappearance after they were picked up by the Rangers in January.

He said the Rangers had denied in the Sindh High Court that they had arrested the two workers during the hearing of a petition against their illegal detention. “Today, the Rangers got their remand for 90 more days after keeping them in their illegal detention for 240 days. Will the high court take suo motu notice on this?” he asked.

Dr Sattar said that illegal raids were being conducted for arresting ‘innocent’ MQM workers in the name of the Karachi operation. If the arrests were being made on the basis of intelligence and evidence, then why the authorities had released thousands of workers after having them detained for a considerable period, he argued.

He shared details of the recent arrests of the MQM workers by the Rangers and said the held workers had not been formally shown arrested yet.

The MQM leader said if the held workers were not produced in a court of law within 24 hours of their arrest, their names would be included in the list of the victims of enforced disappearance.

He said there was an unannounced ban on political and welfare activities of the MQM. “At some point, this has to be stopped. There is no militant wing in the MQM and all of our held workers are innocent.”

Full report at:

http://www.dawn.com/news/1204951/rangers-kept-mqm-workers-in-illegal-detention-for-eight-months

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Pakistani general appointed UN mission commander

Sep 5, 2015

NEW YORK: United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon announced on Friday the appointment of a Pakistani military officer as the force commander of the UN Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (Minurso).

Maj Gen Muhammad Tayyab Azam, who is currently Inspector General of the Frontier Corps, will succeed Maj Gen Major Imam Edy Mulyono of Indonesia, whose tenure of duty ends on Sept 17.

The Minurso mission, created by the UN after the French name over 30 years ago, has been assigned to monitor the ceasefire and oversee a referendum on the status of Sahrawi people and the system of government to take place.

During the past 30 years, the UN has provided support for the referendum by determining voter eligibility and registration, and by monitoring the ceasefire to prevent war between the two parties claiming control over Western Sahara.

The UN has also facilitated informal dialogue between Morocco and the Frente Polisario, but it has had little success in resolving the conflict.

Full report at:

http://www.dawn.com/news/1205035/pakistani-general-appointed-un-mission-commander

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President seeks joint trade ventures with Bosnia

September 05, 2015

BEIJING - President Mamnoon Hussain Friday said Pakistan values its ties with Bosnia Herzegovina and said it would welcome joint ventures and investment in power generation, construction and textiles.

The President expressed these views while talking to Bosnian President Dragan Covic, as the two leaders met here on the sidelines of the commemorative events of China's 70th anniversary of victory in World War II.

President Mamnoon appreciated the excellent cooperation between the two countries at international fora and emphasised the need for greater contacts at official level as well as people-to-people exchanges.

He underscored the need to further strengthen exchanges between the parliamentarians of the two countries. The president said the trade volume with Bosnia had steadily increased from US$ 289 million in 2009 to US$ 500 million in 2012, but pointed out that it remained far below the potential.

He recalled the visit of Bosnian President Bakir Izetbegovic in October 2012 that resulted in the signing of two Memoranda of Understanding (MoUs) in the fields of defence and commerce.

Full report at:

http://nation.com.pk/national/05-Sep-2015/president-seeks-joint-trade-ventures-with-bosnia

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Mideast

 

A Problem from Hell: The U.S.'s Genocide Complicity in Yemen

Dan Kovalik

05/09/2015

A massive human rights tragedy is unfolding in Yemen. Thousands of Yemini civilians have already been killed and millions of Yemini civilians are in imminent risk of starvation as a consequence of the war being waged by the Saudi-led coalition against that country and its life-sustaining infrastructure. CNN recently described the extent of this crisis:

The U.N. Childrens' Fund estimates that 100,000 people have been displaced across the country in the last two weeks, while Oxfam says that more than 10 million Yemenis do not have enough food to eat -- including 850,000 malnourished children. Over 13 million people have no access to clean water.

An urgent call by the ICRC for an "immediate humanitarian pause" to allow humanitarian supplies to reach the most vulnerable has gone unheeded.

Meanwhile, the Saudi coalition waging this asymmetrical war of aerial bombardment upon a country with little to no air defenses, could not carry out this assault without the critical aid from the U.S. in the form of military hardware, including banned cluster bombs; intelligence for targeting of airstrikes; and mid-air refueling.

What's more, the acts of the Saudi-led coalition against Yemen constitute genocide within the meaning of 1948 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide ("Genocide Convention"), and the U.S. is complicit in that genocidal campaign.

In pertinent part, Article II of The Genocide Convention states that "genocide means any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such: (a) Killing members of the group; (b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group; (c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part . . . ." As an initial matter, there is no doubt that the Saudi-led coalition, with U.S. help, is carrying out all three of these wrongful acts, and a on a massive scale.

As Donatella Rovera, Senior Crisis Response Advisor at Amnesty International, recently wrote:

The Houthis and their allies are the declared targets of the [Saudi-led] coalition's 5-month-old air campaign. In reality, however, it is civilians . . . who all too often pay the price of this war. Hundreds have been killed in such strikes while asleep in their homes, when going about their daily activities, or in the very places where they had sought refuge from the conflict. The United States, meanwhile, has provided the weapons that have made many of these killings possible.

The conflict has worsened an already dire humanitarian situation in the Middle East's poorest country. Prior to the conflict, more than half of Yemen's population was in need of some humanitarian assistance. That number has now increased to more than 80 percent, while a coalition-imposed blockade on commercial imports remains in place in much of the country and the ability of international aid agencies to deliver desperately needed supplies continues to be hindered by the conflict. The damage inflicted by a coalition airstrike last week on the port of the northwestern city of Hudaydah, the only point of entry for humanitarian aid to the north of the country, is only the latest example. The situation is poised to deteriorate further: The U.N. World Food Program warned last week of the possibility of famine in Yemen for millions, mostly women and children.

Full report at:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dan-kovalik/a-problem-from-hell-the-u_b_8090782.html?ir=India&adsSiteOverride=in

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Iran: We Will Not Stop Supporting Terror Groups

4 Sep 2015

Iran’s Defense Minister Hossein Dehqan stressed that Iran will continue providing material support to Hezbollah, Hamas, Islamic Jihad, or any other terrorist group fighting the U.S. and Israel, reports Tehran Times.

Iran will continue supporting “resistance movements” such as Hezbollah, Hamas, and Islamic Jihad, said the defense minister on September 1. All three groups mentioned by Dehqan have been officially designated as terrorist organizations by the United States and other Western countries.

“We have often declared publicly that we will not stop material or spiritual support for Hezbollah or any other resistance organizations that are fighting the U.S. and the Zionist regime,” stressed the Islamic Republic’s defense chief.

On the heels of Dehqan’s comments, Iranian land force Commander Ahmadreza Pourdastan, proclaimed that despite the nuclear deal Iran struck with the U.S. and five other world powers, hostilities between the Islamic Republic and America will likely continue due to the strong relationship America maintains with Israel.

“It is true that we have had an agreement with the U.S. in the nuclear field, but U.S. enmity towards us is deeply rooted,” said Pourdastan in a speech addressing land force commanders in Tehran, The Jerusalem Post reported on Thursday, citing Iran’s state-run Far News agency.

“The occupying Zionist regime is the U.S. redlines, and we have a problem with the child-killer Israeli regime,” he added.

The Iranian commander accused the United States of sponsoring terrorist organizations in the Middle East, namely the Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL).

His comments come after Brig. Gen. Mohsen Kazzemeini, a senior Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps Commander (IRGC), said Wednesday that Iran will not stop its military buildup until Israel is annihilated.

Full report at:

http://www.breitbart.com/national-security/2015/09/04/iran-we-will-not-stop-supporting-terror-groups/

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Turkey Raids Opposition Paper Following Report of Isis Arms Trade

4 Sep 2015

Turkish police raided the offices of opposition paper Bugün after the publication ran a story that claimed Turkey sent weapons to the Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL) in Syria. The paper included pictures that allegedly show the weapon exchange.

Authorities said the raid is connected to a tax fraud investigation, but others believe it has to do with the article.

They targeted the building that houses the Koza İpek Holding, which owns numerous publications that are often critical of the government. Police also searched owner Akın İpek’s house. They issued a warrant for his arrest, but he is in exile in Pennsylvania. Today’s Zaman revealed the authorities left the premises with “an envelope with a verse from the Quran and several hadiths along with a cevşen, a book of supplications, and a table that has the first chapter of the Quran carved into its top in Arabic calligraphy as evidence of a crime.”

Editor-in-chief Erhan Başyurt tweeted about the raid on his personal account:

Translation: Silencing the media operation. Police raid the Koza İpek Holding. Added newspapers to the “search companies” list.

An anonymous source told Asharq Al-Awsat the government is attempting to silence the opposition before the November 1 elections.

“The strategy here is to scare us and other news outlets by making an example of us to anyone who dares criticize [President Recep Tayyip] Erdoğan and his [ruling Justice and Development] party [AKP],” explained the source.

On Tuesday, the International Business Times reported the Greek coastguard seized a weapons cargo ship off Crete. Local media claimed the ship was aimed at Libya with weapons meant for ISIS.

Full report at:

http://www.breitbart.com/national-security/2015/09/04/turkey-raids-opposition-paper-following-report-of-isis-arms-trade/

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Turkey appeals to Europe to reach out to refugees

Sep 05, 2015

With people risking their lives to reach Europe from its coast, Ankara has called on European countries to embrace refugees who face rejection in Europe, which has been criticized for its inaction in the face of refugees' plight. Turkish leaders unanimously criticized Europe and called on the leaders of the European Union to take action to end the plight of refugees who increasingly seek to travel to the continent in pursuit of a better life after fleeing the conflicts in their countries. President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan had slammed Europe's treatment of refugees while interim Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu called on world leaders to share the responsibility in tackling the Syrian refugee crisis. Speaking to CNN International, Erdoğan said he and his family was devastated when they saw the photo of Aylan Kurdi, the Syrian toddler whose body washed ashore on the coast of Bodrum in southwestern Turkey. Three-year-old Aylan Kurdi was among 12 Syrians who drowned when their boat sank off the coast of Bodrum, a popular spot for hundreds of refugees embarking on dangerous trips to nearby Greek islands every day.

Pressure is mounting on Europe to admit more refugees whose ordeal was highlighted when the image of Kurdi sparked outrage over the state of refugees. Erdoğan said people questioned the humanity and conscience of such an occurrence, noting that the Mediterranean has become a graveyard for many children, mothers and fathers while the Turkish Coast Guard has rescued tens of thousands of people from drowning.

"As a matter of fact, the Western world is guilty for this," Erdoğan said. The president emphasized that European countries littoral to the Mediterranean Sea did not want to admit refugees while Turkey received them as guests.

Turkey, already hosting more than 1.9 million Syrian refugees displaced by the ongoing conflict in their countries, faces a heavy burden, and though Ankara underlines it is doing its best to help the refugees, migrants facing uncertainty in the country, look to Europe for a better life and more permanent residence.

Erdoğan said Greece, Italy, Spain, France, Hungary and other countries can do what Turkey did for refugees but they did not. The president also criticized a German minister's proposal to distinguish the migrants by their profession, classifying them as skilled and unskilled migrants during their admission. "What kind of approach is that? It is not possible to understand that," Erdoğan said.

Addressing a business summit that brought together international figures of the business world on Friday, Davutoğlu said the lifeless body of Kurdi should be a warning sign for everyone. "If Syrian children are not safe in their homes, our children will not be safe in Ankara, Paris, London or New York [City]. These children cannot decide where they are born. Our decisions, wrong decisions, shape their future. Turkey has been trying to reach out to the world over the past four years, warning about a humanitarian crisis in Syria. Millions of refugees, millions of children are victims of a regime of oppression and terrorist organizations," he said.

Full report at:

http://www.dailysabah.com/nation/2015/09/05/turkey-appeals-to-europe-to-reach-out-to-refugees

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After Iran deal, EU bids to restart Israel-Palestinian talks

4 September 2015

Arab countries will join the Middle East Quartet in New York at the end of September to seek ways to revive peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians, the EU’s top diplomat said on Friday, part of a new European diplomatic initiative.

Encouraged by Europe’s role in securing a nuclear deal with Iran, the EU believes a broad range of countries could help, more than a year after the collapse of a U.S.-brokered peace push envisaging a Palestinian state co-existing with Israel.

On the margins of the General Assembly of the United Nations, Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia and the head of the Arab League will join the Middle East Quartet of the United States, the United Nations, the European Union and Russia for talks.

Full report at:

http://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2015/09/04/After-Iran-deal-EU-bids-to-restart-Israel-Palestinian-talks.html

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Saudi spared Yemen from years of infighting: Yemeni VP

4 September 2015

Yemen’s exiled Vice President Khaled Bahah denied on Thursday plans intending to turn the country’s second largest city of Aden into the new capital for the next five years.

In July, Yemen’s second city of Aden was retaken from Iranian-backed Houthi militias by the Saudi-led coalition and forces backing the internationally-recognized government.

(Al Arabiya)

In an exclusive interview with Al Arabiya News channel, Bahah said that the government was determined to work between both Aden and Sanaa.

The port city of Aden was one the capital of the former independent south Yemen, before unification in 1990, when Sanaa - situated 400 kilometers to the north - became the now-unified nation’s capital.

(Al Arabiya)

In September 2014, Houthi militias seized the capital Sanaa and over the next few months, drove out the government of internationally-recognized President Abdrabbu Mansour Hadi.

Bahah revealed that a number of ministers are currently present in Yemen, but did not give further details.

He also called for a conference involving Southern-based leaders to determine the fate of the South part of the country.

Al-Qaeda in Yemen

Speaking about the situation in Sanaa, Bahah said that the Houthis and forces to deposed leader Ali Abdullah Saleh were responsible for its deterioration.

He also acknowledged the presence of al-Qaeda in Yemen’s northern city of Hadramout and said that the government will soon work to oust extremist groups based there.

Decisive Storm operation

During the interview, Bahah said that Yemen has avoided years of internal fighting thanks to the intervention of the Arab coalition led by Saudi Arabia.

He added that Operation Golden Arrow - the biggest government-led military campaign against the Houthis – would not end until the government retakes control of all of Yemen’s governorates.

Full report at:

http://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2015/09/04/EXCLUSIVE-Sanaa-to-stay-as-country-s-capital-Yemeni-VP.html

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Scholars slam Iranian movie on Prophet

5 September 2015

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Council of Senior Scholars has denounced the release of the Iranian movie ‘Muhammad, Messenger of God’ which has scenes showing representations of the body of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him).

In a statement, the organization said that any representation of the Prophet (peace be upon him) in this manner showed little reverence for him and a disregard for Islamic law.

Earlier this week, the Kingdom’s Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdul Aziz Al-Asheikh said the film “is a mockery of the Prophet (peace be upon him) and a degradation of his status.” The Muslim World League and Al-Azhar scholars have slammed the decision to release the film. Al-Azhar University said “it is not permitted under Shariah to embody the prophets.”

Full report at:

http://www.arabnews.com/saudi-arabia/news/801816

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Bodies of 103 foreign troops recovered from Yemen’s Safer airport

Sep 5, 2015

A top Yemeni tribal source says the bodies of 103 foreign troopers have been recovered from a military airport in the central Yemeni province of Ma’rib, where they came under a rocket attack by Yemeni army forces and allied Popular Committees.

The source, speaking on condition of anonymity, said authorities have identified 45 Emirati nationals as well as five Bahraini citizens among the soldiers slain in al-Safer airport, adding that the remaining corpses belong to individuals that hailed from other Arab nations, Arabic-language al-Masirah satellite television network reported.

He further noted that at least 70 people, mostly Emirati soldiers, also sustained injures in the Friday afternoon’s incident, and some of them are in critical condition.

The source said more than 40 armored vehicles and military trucks were destroyed in the attack. Three Apache combat helicopters also went up in flames.

Meanwhile on Saturday morning, Saudi fighter jets pounded a residential neighborhood in al- Sabain district of Sana’a province, leaving five Yemeni civilians dead.

A Yemeni man walks past damaged buildings following a Saudi airstrike on the capital Sana’a on August 31, 2015. (© AFP)

At the same time, Yemeni forces have smashed an al-Qaeda-affiliated terrorist network that planned to assassinate a number of political, security and military figures, and also target vital installations and infrastructure in a bid to further destabilize the crisis-hit Arab country.

Informed sources, requesting not to be named, said Yemeni soldiers recovered more than 300 grenades, sixty rockets, a considerable amount of ammunition for light and heavy weapons, binoculars, mortar shells and artillery rounds from the detained Takfiri terrorists.

Yemeni soldiers backed by Popular Committees fighters wrested control of the strategic Jebel al-Wa’ash mountain overlooking the southwestern Yemeni city of Taiz, situated 346 kilometers (214 miles) south of the capital, Sana’a, on Friday, killing and injuring an unspecified number of Saudi soldiers in the process.

A Yemeni man looks at damages following a Saudi airstrike on the capital Sana’a on August 31, 2015. (© AFP)

Full report at:

http://www.presstv.ir/Detail/2015/09/05/427815/Yemen-Safer-airport-Marib-Emirati-Bahraini-Sanaa-

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Commander: Iranian Air Force to Use Different Fighter Jets, UAVs in Upcoming Wargames

Sep 04, 2015

"The exercises will be held tomorrow in Isfahan and all fighter jets, bomber jets, transport planes, reconnaissance aircraft, refueling planes and different kinds of drones will take part in these wargames," Lieutenant Commander of the Iranian Air Force Brigadier General Alireza Barkhor said on Friday.

He noted that the preliminary stage of the Air Force drills has already started with participation of F4, F5, F14, F7, Sokhoi 24, Mig 29, C 130, Boeings 707 and 747, Saeqeh and different types of drones.

"These wargames have been planned for three stages; the first stage deals with reconnaissance, receiving and transferring intelligence during which the young and brave pilots of the Air Force will use their fighter jets and drones in different parts of the wargames zone round the clock to identify the specified targets," Brigadier General Barkhor said.

And in the second stage of the military drills the identified targets will be hit and the third stage of the maneuvers will focus on passive Air Defense.

Brigadier General Barkhor mentioned air combat and destroying targets in the air and on the ground as the main and outstanding features of Fadaeeyan-e Harim-e Veletayat-5 wargames.

"The Air Force, alongside other Iranian Armed Forces, is tasked with defending and protecting the country's airspace, but it has the message of security, stability, friendship and peace for the regional countries," he added.

Brigadier General Barkhor pointed out that the goal of the Air Force maneuvers is boosting the skills of its commanders, conducting operations in simulated combat zone, updating systems and testing defense achievements and also displaying the combat might of the Iranian Armed Forces.

In August, a senior Iranian Air Force commander announced that Iran had attained self-sufficiency in overhauling military aircraft despite the sanctions imposed by the western countries.

"Thanks God and thanks to the Iranian Air Force experts and engineers, we have become self-sufficient in airplane overhauling, pilot training and many other fields," Head of Shahid Sattari Aviation Science and Technology University Brigadier General Mehdi Hadiyan announced.

He reiterated that the Air Force is now self-sufficient in all areas while all its planes fly in accordance with the required standards.

In recent years, Iran has made great achievements in the defense sector and gained self-sufficiency in manufacturing essential military hardware and defense systems.

Yet, Iranian officials have always stressed that the country's military and arms programs serve defensive purposes and should not be perceived as a threat to any other country.

In June, Deputy Chief of Staff of the Iranian Armed Forces for Logistics Major General Mostafa Izadi announced Tehran's preparedness to overhaul the most advanced jet engines in the world.

Full report at:

http://english.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13940613000610

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Report: Yemeni Missile Downs UAE Apache Chopper

Sep 04, 2015

The UAE Apache military chopper exploded after it was hit by the Yemeni forces' missile in Al-Sa'fer region in Eastern Yemen, killing all the military men on board, the Arabic-language Al-Mayadeen satellite TV reported.

In a relevant development on August 21, the Yemeni army and popular forces shot down a Saudi military helicopter in the province of Jizan, in Southern Saudi Arabia.

Saudi Arabia has been striking Yemen for 163 days now to restore power to fugitive president Mansour Hadi, a close ally of Riyadh. The Saudi-led aggression has so far killed at least 5,648 Yemenis, including hundreds of women and children.

Full report at:

http://english.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13940613000424

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North America

 

Obama is right: 'Islam has always been part of America'

By Karin McQuillan

September 5, 2015

As Congress is on the verge of giving President Obama his Iran Deal, including a payoff of $150 billion dollars to Iran’s terror regime, they might do well to contrast our founding fathers with the current occupant of the White House. 

In the Ramadan speech in which he declared his support for the Ground Zero Mosque, Obama returned to a favorite theme of his:

Ramadan is a reminder that Islam has always been part of America. The first Muslim ambassador to the United States, from Tunisia, was hosted by President Jefferson, who arranged a sunset dinner for his guest because it was Ramadan—making it the first known Iftar at the White House, more than 200 years ago.  

You would think Obama would keep his mouth shut about this particular chapter in American history.

Yes, Mr. President, Islam was part of American history.  The brutal, barbarous Islamic states of Tripoli (Tunisia), and Morocco terrorized the Mediterranean with their ‘Barbary Pirates.’  They kidnapped, enslaved and tortured Western seaman.  At one time 20,000 seamen were in captivity in Algiers.  Those with money bought their freedom.  Seaman without money were sold as slaves who were worked to death in mines and galleys.

According to historian Paul Johnson...The US Congress chose bribery. The US paid Algiers its ransom – as much as $1 million each year for the next fifteen years to the year 1800. This was close to 20 percent of Washington's revenues.

In France, Jefferson asked Tripoli's ambassador what right Tripoli had to extort money and take slaves. According to Jefferson, the ambassador answered that such a right was founded on the Laws of the Prophet: that it was written in the Quran that all nations who did not recognize their authority were sinners; that it was their right and duty to make war upon them wherever they could be found; and to make slaves of all they could take as prisoners; and that every Muslim slain in battle was sure to go to heaven.

Michel Oren writes in Power, Faith, and Fantasy: America in the Middle East: 1776 to the Present

European women, prized for their fair complexion, were sold to harems.

American seamen were kept in dungeons awaiting ransom: “perfectly dark…many nearly naked…the slightest resistance was punishably by beatings on the feet, beheading, or impalement on iron spikes.”…

Full report at:

http://www.americanthinker.com/blog/2015/09/obama_is_right_islam_has_always_been_part_of_america.html

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The American Veterans Who Fight ISIS

Sept. 4, 2015

Bruce Windorski could hear Islamic State fighters taunting him as he peered down the moonlit Syrian village street early this year. Their voices were getting louder, and their aim seemed to be getting better.

The 40-year-old former Army Ranger from Wisconsin reached into his bag of semi-reliable grenades, chose one, pulled the pin and tossed it over the wall. There was a blast, he says, and the jeers came to an abrupt halt. “It was definitely a satisfying event.”

But the battle continued for days. As militants closed in one night, Jamie Lane, a Marine combat veteran who had traveled from California to fight, wondered if they would make it out alive. “We’re holding our ground,” he says quietly in a video he took in the pitch dark as gunfire crackles. “I imagine it will go until dawn.”

The men are part of an unusual fringe of American veterans joining the war against Islamic State. They go, even as their president and Pentagon leaders strive to keep U.S. forces out of the ground war.

Mr. Windorski and Mr. Lane, 29, joined other Westerners going into combat alongside the Kurdish fighters who have proved to be one of the most effective forces confronting Islamic State. They met fighters from America and England, Greece and Australia, Israel and Iran.

No one has good numbers, but the Federal Bureau of Investigation estimates fewer than 100 Americans have gone to fight Islamic State, also known as ISIS. Still, as military veterans hear of the route to the front lines, more are going, says Lu Lobello, a Marine combat veteran in Las Vegas who has helped some join the battle.

Marine combat veteran Jamie Lane, 29, here at home in Las Vegas, traveled to Syria early this year to join Kurdish fighters in their war against Islamic State militants. ENLARGE

Marine combat veteran Jamie Lane, 29, here at home in Las Vegas, traveled to Syria early this year to join Kurdish fighters in their war against Islamic State militants. PHOTO: ISAAC BREKKEN FOR THE WALL STREET JOURNAL

“America is not fighting Islamic State,” he says, “but Americans are.”

Mr. Windorski and Mr. Lane augment their accounts with videos, photos and notes they took during their travels, elements of which aren’t independently verifiable. The FBI declines to discuss the men, and U.S. military officials say they don’t typically track volunteers like them.

Unlike Americans joining Islamic State, who can face terrorism charges, citizens like them risk little trouble back home. U.S. officials say volunteering to fight overseas, while discouraged, isn’t illegal if an American isn’t joining an enemy or group the U.S. labels terrorist.

The foray can be deadly. At least five foreign fighters, including one American, have died this year in Syria, according to Kurdish groups. There is the grim prospect of capture by Islamic State.

And Americans expecting a good-versus-evil battle find themselves fighting alongside Marxist-inspired guerrillas with close ties to militants Washington calls terrorists. Volunteers face new risks now that Turkey has started bombing some Kurdish guerrilla bases in Iraq where Western fighters gather before heading into Syria.

“We think it’s probably ill-conceived for a lot of reasons,” says a senior U.S. official. “On the surface, this is a perilous road, and it’s a muddled place over there.”

A Ranger’s mission

Mr. Windorski anticipated none of that in rural Wisconsin, where he lives with his wife and children. The self-employed graphics designer had fantasized about visiting Kirkuk, Iraq, where his older brother, Philip, died in 2009 when his Army helicopter was shot down while searching for a handgun that had fallen out of another chopper earlier that day.

Then he saw reports last year that militants who took credit for downing the chopper were joining Islamic State, and he decided he had to go. He bought a plane ticket to Iraq, figuring he would go to Kirkuk and come home in two weeks.

“I kind of went there on a wing and a prayer,” he says.

He hadn’t told his wife. Courtney Windorski, 33, says an FBI agent called on Jan. 7 to tell her that Mr. Windorski was about to board a Chicago flight to Istanbul, and then onto Iraq. The agent asked: Is he going to join Islamic State?

Ms. Windorski couldn’t believe it. Her husband had just called, saying he was at a logging-equipment training class.

“Call me,” she texted. “It’s important.”

Mr. Windorski, awaiting his flight, didn’t reply. He told the FBI agents at the airport he was traveling to get closure for his brother’s death, dismissing their attempts to scare him out of going.

Full report at:

http://www.wsj.com/articles/the-american-veterans-who-fight-isis-1441362601

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US after neocolonialism in Mideast: Pundit

Sep 4, 2015

Press TV has conducted an interview with Soraya Sepahpour Ulrich, an independent researcher and writer in Tehran, about remarks by Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei on the US and its ambitions to annihilate regional resistance movements and dominate Syria and Iraq.

What follows is a rough transcription of the interview.

Press TV: You heard the Leader’s statements. Let’s begin with how he has said the US is seeking the annihilation of regional resistance movements and total dominance over Syria and Iraq.

Ulrich: I believe that Ayatollah Khamenei is absolutely right and infinitely wise. That is exactly what the West is attempting to do, led by the United States; and in fact in post 9/11, when the United Nations Security Council passed resolution 1373, without defining terrorism, it gave America the means and a way forward to project itself as fighting terrorism but in fact we know, even from top Pentagon officials, that they are responsible for creating Daesh and they knew what was going to take place, but as long as they have terrorists on the ground in these countries that Mr. Khamenei mentioned, then the United States has a pretext of not only deploying boots there but pretending that they are fighting terrorists. So I really believe that the whole world must be alerted to this and join the war on terror on the right side, to be on the side of the victims not those who are sponsoring terrorism for their own gains to destroy Iraq, Syria and now Yemen.

Press TV: Ever since this nuclear conclusion that has been reached between Iran and the world powers, which includes obviously the United States, there has been repeated statements coming from the US when there has been talk of the nuclear conclusion, in which it has accused Iran of supporting terrorism and based on what you have said it seems like that is reversed but yet what we see on the ground is what indeed you have said: the support of terrorism coming from the US in particular. Why then does it accuse Iran of terrorism? 

Ulrich: It is very interesting. I am very glad that you asked that question. In fact terrorism has well over one hundred definitions, but regardless of the definitions, they all come to one conclusion, and that is the deliberate coercion and harming of civilians to take forward the policies of intimidating a government, and even the United States Code 2331 describes terrorism as a deliberate coercion and a means to force a government to do its bidding.

A United Nations panel in 2004 even said that terrorism is a deliberate harming of civilians and non-combatants to force a government to abide by a given policy; and Iran - 80 million Iranians are victims of terrorism, of sanctioned terrorism, which are the sanctions - and yet they have the audacity to say that Iranians are supporting terrorists and unfortunately because they have such a hold on global media, they are able to project their own definition of terrorism and we are led to believe that if a plane goes into a building or if Daesh cut somebody’s head off, that is terrorism, it must have an immediate impact and it must have blood and carnage. Yet there is nothing being portrayed in the media of the million Iraqis that died because of sanctioned terrorism, and we do not even have a number of how many Iranians have been the victims of sanctioned terrorism, which is sanctions-licensed terrorism.

So to call Iran a supporter of terrorism and to impose sanctions on Iran or sanctioned terrorism for supporting terrorism is irony at its best. It is just inconceivable.

Press TV: US Secretary of State John Kerry yesterday from Philadelphia spoke about Iran’s nuclear conclusion at length and again he talked about Iran in terms of being the supporter of terrorism but he took a step further reminiscent of what the US ambassador to the UN said, which is almost a doomsday scenario that Iran is just really this power that is a threat to humanity. It painted Iran in those terms and it said we are going to support our Persian Gulf allies, we are going to support Israel and all of the support was in form of military hardware, and yet at the same time it says Iran might come aboard in terms of some of the policies we have in the region. Those are very mixed signals coming from the US vis-à-vis Iran.

Ulrich: They are indeed and I think that Iran is wise not to want to engage with parties or to conclude a deal with the parties that are committing terrorism against it, and to label Iran as supporting terrorists enables America to tighten further sanctions.

Full report at:

http://www.presstv.ir/Detail/2015/09/04/427724/Iran-US-Ayatollah-Khamenei-terrorism-Daesh-Kerry-Power

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Southeast Asia

 

Joko to Discuss Religion, Trade With Egypt's el-Sisi

Sep 5, 2015

Jakarta. President Joko Widodo is scheduled to meet with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi to discuss bilateral issues during the latter's brief trip to Indonesia, which kicks off on Friday.

The state visit to the archipelago is a historical one for Egypt, said Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Arrmanatha Nasir, as it will be the country's first in 32 years.

The two leaders plan to speak on a range of issues, including ways to boost bilateral trade and investment, as well as religion.

Egypt's trade balance in Indonesia currently stands at $1.4 billion, while Indonesia has invested $260 million in the Middle Eastern nation on food products such as instant noodles, fine china, textiles and tires.

"We will make sure that all tariff and non-tariff obstacles will receive equal attention from the President of Egypt," Arrmanatha said.

Full report at:

http://jakartaglobe.beritasatu.com/news/joko-discuss-religion-trade-egypts-el-sisi/

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“Indonesia must help democratise Malaysia”

September 4, 2015

KUALA LUMPUR: Despite only making its transition from President Soeharto’s authoritarian regime in the mid-1990s, Indonesia has succeeded in turning itself into ASEAN’s most advanced democracy, an opinion editorial in the Jakarta Post says.

“[I]n Southeast Asia, Indonesia is practically the only country that meets democratic standards,” the Post says proudly, pointing out that “political turmoil and anti-democratic attitudes have persistently haunted” most other ASEAN nations.

As such, Indonesia bears the “moral responsibility” of acting as a role model for its Southeast Asian neighbours, including Malaysia.

“In 2007, 2011 and 2012 the Bersih movement proved itself to be a powerful force in demanding clean and fair elections in Malaysia,” the Post notes. “Today, the movement is increasing its stake by demanding the resignation of Prime Minister Najib Razak over a financial scandal.”

Full report at:

http://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/nation/2015/09/04/indonesia-must-help-democratise-malaysia/

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China upholds its commitment to religious freedom: says Dilmurat Omar

Sep 5, 2015

Law-abiding religious activities are fully protected in China and the Muslims are free to perform their religious practices as per Quran and Sunnah, said Dilmurat Omar, Dean Xinjiang Normal University.

Religious activities are on rise in China in recent years and the Chinese government fully respects religious sentiments of the people, he said while addressing a media seminar held here Friday. The seminar, organized by the local information department of the State Council was participated by senior journalists form the regional countries, including Pakistan.

Muslims in China perform religious rituals including Haj and fasting as per their traditions and the Chinese government facilitates them to do so, Dilmurat said adding all laws and regulations in China are aimed at promoting social stability and ensuring security and well-being of common citizen.

The religious activities are growing with a passage of time. Overall there are about 35,000 mosques and more than 50,000 teaching faculties in various parts of the country. Accordingly, the number of Islamic clergies has increased to 28,000.

Majority of Muslims are living in Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region where there are about 24,100 mosques and 30,000 teaching faculties, which work freely to promote teaching of Quran and Sunnah without any kind of restriction. The Chinese Muslims are also facilitated by the government to visit Mecca to perform Haj. The government supports the Chinese Muslim Associations to undertake their religious tasks.

The Central and the Xinjiang’s administration fully respects and guarantees people’s free choice of religion. Imams and religious leaders help the common Muslims to properly understand and interpret Quran. He made it clear that extremist thoughts or violent terrorism is not Islam by any nature. All the Muslims fully stand by the government in curbing three evil forces- religious extremism, separatism and terrorism, he added.

Full report at:

http://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2015/09/04/uncategorized/china-upholds-its-commitment-to-religious-freedom-says-dilmurat-omar/

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5 years in prison sought for 2 British journos

September 03 2015,

Two British journalists detained by Indonesian authorities since May for making a documentary on piracy in the Malacca Strait without proper papers could face five years’ imprisonment for breaching the country’s immigration laws, an official has said.

Speaking to The Jakarta Post on Wednesday, the head of the Batam Prosecutors’ Office’s general crimes unit, Ali Akbar, said his office had received a notification letter on the investigation order (SPDP) against the two journalists, 31-year-old Neil Bonner and 30-year-old Becky Prosser, from the Batam Immigration Office.

The pair, Ali said, would be charged under the Immigration Law, which carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison, for working in the country while on tourist visas.

“In their case dossiers, both admitted that they were British journalists. The immigration office is still preparing the dossiers.” Ali said.

Once their dossiers are completed, the journalists, according to Ali, will undergo trial at Batam District Court.

The Malacca Strait is a maritime area that borders four states: Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand. The strait connects three major seas: the South China Sea in the north, the Indian Ocean in the south and the Pacific Ocean to the east. Defense Minister Ryamizard Ryacudu has emphasized the importance of securing the Malacca Strait from piracy.

On May 28, the Indonesian Navy patrol arrested the two journalists along with nine Indonesian nationals in Belakang Padang Island, Batam, as they were about to film a reenactment of piracy.

The nine locals have been identified as Zamira Lubis, 52, Andi Kusnanto, 36, Ahmadi, 36, Marsel Karel, 50, Indratno, 43, Apson Kakahue, 49, Samsul, 49, Diki, 28, and Lamusa, 36. The nine were released on bail on May 30.

Lamusa has said that he received US$250 for three hours of shooting.

On Tuesday, the Indonesian Navy’s Western Fleet (Armabar) commander, Rear Adm. Taufiqurrahman, admitted that the Navy had been under pressure from the British government to free the two journalists.

“From the beginning, there were efforts from the UK government to free them, but I firmly said no.

We rejected such efforts,” he told the Post.

According to Taufiqurrahman, the two admitted that the documentary, which featured former pirates as actors, was to be aired on the National Geographic Channel.

“What they were reenacting was not accurate and could tarnish the image of the Malacca Strait as a crime-prone area,” he said.

A center focusing on piracy and armed robbery, the Regional Cooperation Agreement on Combating Piracy and Armed Robbery against Ships in Asia (ReCAAP), said that 129 sea attacks were reported from January to September 2014, predominantly in Indonesia, the South China Sea, the Malacca Strait and the Singapore Strait.

Taufiqurrahman was quick to rebuff criticism of the Navy for halting journalistic activity. He also said that as of Wednesday, no local or international journalist associations had demanded the release of the two documentary-makers.

Full report at:

http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2015/09/03/5-years-prison-sought-2-british-journos.html

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Thai Muslim man is third Bangkok blast suspect detained by police as two arrested foreigners identified for first time

03 September, 2015

Thailand's junta has for the first time named two foreign suspects and arrested a third man linked to the deadly Bangkok Erawan Shrine bombing that killed 20 people, reports said today.

The foreign suspects were identified as Adem Karadag and Yusufu Mieraili. The identification of the former had been complicated by the existence of fake passports at the scene of a police raid.

According to Thai media reports, Mieraili is a 25-year-old Chinese national from Xinjiang - a vast region in China's far west that is home to millions of ethnic Turkic-speaking Uygurs (pronounced "wee-gurs").

Asked about speculation that Mieraili is a Uygur, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said: “We are in close communication with the Thai side. The Chinese side will closely follow the development of the case. We believe that whoever carried out such a crime should be dealt with according to law.”

A third suspect, identified as Kamarudeng Saho, 38, was arrested by police in Narathiwat, a southern province of Thailand.

Saho, a Thai Muslim, was arrested at his home in Sungai Kolok district and was flown to Bangkok by helicopter, where he was placed in military custody, the Bangkok Post reported.

Karadag, 28, was arrested on the morning of August 29 at his apartment in northern Bangkok's Nong Chok district during a raid by around 100 police officers.

Authorities said he was carrying a fake Turkish passport and that dozens more fake Turkish passports were found in the flat.

He spoke to investigators in Turkish, but not in the standard dialect. A Turkish Foreign Ministry spokesman has denied that the man is a Turkish national.

Bomb-making materials, including about 10 detonators and ball bearings of the same kind used in the shrine attack, were also found in the flat, according to police.

WATCH: The first suspect arrested by Thai police had dozens of fake passports

The Bangkok Post quoted a police source as saying that the arrest came after investigators spent more than a week sifting through every mobile phone call made within the vicinity of the shrine around the time of the bombing on August 17.

He was placed under seven-day military custody in line with martial law.

Three days later, on August 31, police discovered bomb-making materials in another apartment in Min Buri district, located in Bangkok's outskirts. They quickly issued a warrant of arrest for Thai woman Wanna Suansan (also known by her Muslim name "Misaloh"), 26, and her Turkish husband Emrah Davutoglu, who had reportedly been renting the flat in an area close to Nong Chok.

Gunpowder and fertiliser that can be used for explosives were seized at the Mimuna Garden Home apartment. Investigators believe it was used as a hideout by the network that carried out the attack.

Wanna Suansan (inset, right) and her Turkish husband are wanted by police in connection with explosive material found at their Bangkok flat. Photos: EPA

Wanna Suansan, from the southern province of Phang Nga, said she was innocent and had not lived in that apartment for more than a year. She said she had been living in the central Turkish city of Kayseri with her husband and that she was last in Thailand over three months ago.

Full report at:

http://www.scmp.com/news/asia/southeast-asia/article/1854956/two-foreign-suspects-bangkok-shrine-blast-identified-junta

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Australia

 

Lindt siege inquest: criminals, terrorists ‘work together’

Dan Box

SEPTEMBER 5, 2015

Criminals and “would-be terrorists” are collaborating on the streets of Sydney, according to NSW Police Deputy Commissioner Nick Kaldas, with the lines between profit-driven organised crime and religiously motivated violence becoming a blur.

In a statement tendered yesterday to the inquest into last December’s Sydney siege, Mr Kaldas said the conflict between the Sunni and Shia branches of Islam was “significant for us in Sydney”. “These disparate groups are all repres­ented here in NSW,” he said.

An Egyptian-born Arabic speaker who has worked extensively with security forces in Iraq and Lebanon, Mr Kaldas was asked by the inquest to give evidence about radicalisation and the police response.

The coroner is currently investigating the circumstances in which lone gunman Man Haron Monis took 18 people hostage at the Lindt cafe in Sydney’s Martin Place. Monis claimed to be acting on behalf of the terrorist group Islamic State. Three people, including the gunman, died as a result.

Describing his experience working to rebuild the Iraqi police force following the 2003 invasion, Mr Kaldas said “it was clear to me that the line between pure profit-driven criminality and religiously or politically motivated violence was blurring”.

“Arguably, that is the case in many cases in Sydney, with the purchase of weaponry and other contraband being an example of collaboration between criminals and would be terrorists.

“Emerging communities who are more recent arrivals in Australia may be vulnerable to radical­isation. A recent conflict in a particularly vicious organised crime group which feigned religiosity was driven by a faction of more recent arrivals from a conflict zone,” his statement read.

Full report at:

http://www.theaustralian.com.au/in-depth/sydney-siege/lindt-siege-inquest-criminals-terrorists-work-together/story-fnqxbywy-1227513575613?sv=b0b1afa8fca79413281c997525af4441

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An independent voice for all people

September 4, 2015

The Abbott government has over-promised and under-delivered. The Shorten Opposition has failed to grow into a viable and trustworthy alternative. Voters are disenchanted and the nation is in policy limbo.

This is Australia two years after the election of Prime Minister Tony Abbott and the rise of Bill Shorten to lead the union-driven Labor party.

The Herald's independent editorials have tracked the growth in the public's distrust and disappointment in politics since September 6, 2013. Our reporting has exposed failures across the spectrum, both in the conduct of our politicians and the delivery of solutions to the nation's problems.

Now the government and its cheerleaders fear for Mr Abbott's future, with the Canning byelection on September 19 and a general election due within a year.

Some politicians are so concerned about the decline in the nation's respect for them that they have escalated the search for scapegoats. One cabinet minister even alleges a "jihad" by the Herald's publisher, Fairfax Media, against the government.

Such nonsense does not bear close scrutiny.

In the past two years we have bestowed the meed of praise on the coalition for beginning the economic reform and budget repair process. We do not, however, regret opposing those measures which were botched and unfair.

We have praised Labor's stand on some social issues and a few tax reforms. But we do not regret opposing Mr Shorten's blind support for unions and his small target strategy.

The Herald believes its print readers – and a growing digital and social media audience – are intelligent and open-minded. They know policy matters are complex and they simply want to make decisions based on evidence; not ideology, party allegiance or political spin.

As such we treat issues on their merits. We refuse to put news and views through an ideological or commercial filter. We do not start with an assumption that the coalition or Labor must be right and then backfill with convenient rhetoric or selective facts.

The promise of the Herald since 1831 has been clear: "Sworn to no master, of no sect am I."

Our editorial views today are formed on the same principles proposed 184 years ago: "We have no wish to mislead; no interests to gratify by unsparing abuse, or indiscriminate approbation. We shall regret opposition, when we could wish to concur, and bestow the meed of praise. We shall dissent with respect, and reason with a desire, not to gain a point, but to establish a principle."

This independence scares those whose business model depends on characterising life and politics as an "us versus them" contest.

Some publishers rely on a drip-feed of one-sided stories and wait anxiously for the word of their proprietor before adjusting their editorial course. They lash out at "greenies", "lefties", "elites", the Senate and even the Herald when it dares to expose government flaws and the Prime Minister's "captain's picks", just as fair-minded voters demand we do.

The latest tweet from the mount by News Corporation chief Rupert Murdoch says Australia is "almost ungovernable". He concludes that he wants a snap election to rescue "Abbott far the best alternative, principled and a fighter".

In such an ideologically and commercially charged environment, independent media outlets like the Herald MUST hold the government AND the opposition to account. That is not bias or even a perception of bias. It is the duty of any principled media organisation that promotes ethical and fair journalism, in the public interest.

Our investigative journalists such as Adele Ferguson and Kate McClymont, and the entire Herald newsroom, routinely uncover information that politicians of all persuasions – and people in positions of power and organisations who exert great influence – do not want you to know. Our staff approach every task in the same impartial manner, while not shying away from the duty to ask the hard questions on behalf of readers and report back fairly and honestly. The Herald errs at times – that is only human. But we are committed to openly correcting the record when those mistakes occur.

At election time our editorial columns weigh both sides and offer an opinion on whom we think is best to govern in the nation's interest.

Full report at:

http://www.smh.com.au/comment/smh-editorial/our-political-promise-to-you-sworn-to-no-master-of-no-sect-am-i-20150902-gjdy9f.html

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URL:  http://www.newageislam.com/islamic-world-news/new-age-islam-news-bureau/islamic-state-blows-up-palmyra-funerary-towers/d/104496


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