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Islamic World News ( 19 Aug 2017, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Israel Says Will Never Support Pakistan on Kashmir

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

PM Modi met his Israeli counterpart Benjamin Netanyahu last month. (File Photo)

 

Terrorism in Name of Islam Doesn’t Represent Islam: Zarif

Only Room for Jakim’s Take on Islam in Malaysia, Say Scholars

Nine British Pilgrims Bike 3,000 Km from London to Medina for Hajj

India

Israel Says Will Never Support Pakistan on Kashmir

They're Demolishing Muslim Stereotypes, A Tweet at a Time

‘Garba entry should be only for those who apply tilak, drink Panchagavya’: Hindu Utsav Samiti

RSS to Debate Ansari’s Muslim Remark

Pakistani prisoner released from Warangal jail

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Mideast

Terrorism in Name of Islam Doesn’t Represent Islam: Zarif

Erdogan Slams German Rebukes Over Election ‘Interference’

Houthi leader launches attack on Yemen’s Saleh and his party

Saudi deploys troops to Yemen’s Aden: Pro-Hadi officials

Erdogan tells Germany’s FM Gabriel to know his limits

Israeli forces kill Palestinian teenager over alleged stabbing

Saudi-led war on Yemen totally failed to achieve objectives: Ansarullah leader

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Southeast Asia

Only Room for Jakim’s Take on Islam in Malaysia, Say Scholars

Scholars Urge Universities to Promote Moderate Islam

Six dead as Philippine militants battle pro-IS splinter group

Indonesia and Malaysia are poles apart after flag blunder

Moral panic created to make Malays feel insecure, says Bebas

Khairy apologises to Indonesian counterpart for flag bungle

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Europe

Nine British Pilgrims Bike 3,000 Km from London to Medina for Hajj

'Recruiting for Jihad' Examines Islamic Extremist Groups in Europe

Spain Terror Attacks: Suspects' Community Speaks Out Against Extremism

Barcelona Attacks: Families Believe Muslim Cleric Is To Blame

Spain: Muslims express innocence in Barcelona gathering

ISIS claims responsibility as eight stabbed in Russian city

Daesh losses in Mideast increasing UK terror threat: Minister

Spain ‘dismantles cell behind terror attacks’

Australia charges 3 over attacks on Shia mosque

Muslims fear anti-Islam backlash in tolerant Barcelona

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Pakistan

Afghanistan, Pakistan Will Boost Efforts to Curb Terrorism

Two More TTP Militants Killed In Korangi ‘Encounter’

Trump to ‘cut all military aid to Pakistan’

NA-120 by-polls:Nawaz stops Hamza Shehbaz from taking part in campaign

NAB moves to get statements of JIT men

US Centcom chief stresses sustained ties with Pakistan

Elected govt is ‘actual establishment’: Abbasi

US army delegation visits North Waziristan 

JUI-F leader shot dead in DI Khan

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South Asia

10 To Die for Attempted Murder of PM Hasina

23 Taliban Killed, Wounded In Air And Ground Operations In 13 Provinces: MoD

High security as Afghanistan marks Independence Day

Bangladesh sends back Rohingya boat carrying injured

Treaty with South Africa soon to extradite Maulana Tajuddin

Trump confirms decisions made on Afghanistan in meeting with military leaders

Imran Khan opposes fencing of Durand Line with Afghanistan

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Arab World

The Syrian Regime Targets Jobar District with Poison Gas

Lebanese Army, Hezbollah Launch Separate Military Assaults against ISIS

Saudi-Iraqi negotiations to form a new alliance

One dead in clashes with Islamists in Palestinian camp in Lebanon

Syrian Army Scores More Victories against ISIL in Heights at Border with Lebanon

ISIL's Large Arms Depot in Deir Ezzur Destroyed in Russian Airstrikes

Spanish newspaper: Qatar financed extremism in Catalonia

Car bomb attack kills two in Syria’s coastal city of Latakia

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Africa

Tunisia’s Grand Mufti ‘To Appear before the Judiciary on Corruption Charges’

Kenya opposition files case against presidential election

Nigeria leader to fly home after UK treatment

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North America

Petition Urges Trump to Classify Anti-Fascist Movement as Terrorism

Canadian ISIS member identified by Interpol as ‘potential suicide bomber’

Trump hints decision on strategy for 17-year-old US war in Afghanistan

US defense chief Mattis to visit Jordan, Turkey, Ukraine to discuss military ties

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau

URL: http://newageislam.com/islamic-world-news/new-age-islam-news-bureau/israel-says-will-never-support-pakistan-on-kashmir/d/112259

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Israel says will never support Pakistan on Kashmir

Sachin Parashar

Aug 19, 2017

JERUSALEM/RAMALLAH: Under no circumstances will Israel support Pakistan on the Kashmir issue, top Israeli authorities have said.

This is significant given that the country has been relatively silent over Kashmir, which is described as the core issue between India and Pakistan, despite standing shoulder to shoulder with India in the fight against terrorism.

For India, the main issue with Pakistan is cross-border terrorism which continues to fan unrest in Jammu and Kashmir.

For a while, after India established full diplomatic relations with Israel in the early 90s, Israel had endorsed India's position that Kashmir was an integral part of the country.

However, as India's West Asia expert Rajendra Abhyankar described it, a certain entente cordiale emerged between Israel and Pakistan after 2003 with Israel starting to look at Pakistan as an important country of the Muslim world.

The Delhi Declaration issued after the visit to India by then PM Ariel Sharon in 2003, the first bilateral visit by the PM of either country, did not mention Israel's position on Kashmir. Similarly, the recent visit by PM Narendra Modi, first by an Indian PM to Israel, did not see any direct or even indirect reference to the issue in public despite the tumult prevailing in the state for which India blames Pakistan.

According to Israeli officials though, there is no question of Israel in any way supporting Pakistan, whatever might be the situation in Kashmir. This was conveyed, in response to a TOI query, to a delegation of Indian journalists and politicians who were brought to Israel by the American Jewish Committee (AJC).

The query also touched upon why, despite claiming to fully back India's stand on terrorism, the joint statement issued after Modi-Netanyahu meeting last month, neither made any specific mention of cross-border terrorism nor called upon Pakistan to bring the perpetrators of the Mumbai attacks to justice. In contrast, the Modi-Trump joint statement this year did not just name Pakistan, asking it to expeditiously bring the perpetrators of Mumbai and Pathankot attacks to justice, but also sought action against Pakistan based terror groups like Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammed.

According to Israel though, the joint statement did not have to be exhaustive and that if something wasn't mentioned, it did not mean that it wasn't on the table. Israel also doesn't see the Kashmir issue as any form of religious conflict.

It's perhaps a sign of the maturity of its relationship with India that Israel has the confidence to not pursue exclusive ties with New Delhi. As Israeli officials said, there was no reason for Israel to take a position on the Sino-Indian military standoff even though Israel was following the situation closely. Israel has great relations with China but, as an official put it, just as India's relations with Iran are not directed at Israel, Israel's relations with any country too were were not directed to India.

However, while Israelis recalled Modi's visit as one of the most successful ever by a foreign leader, there was considerable disappointment at Ramallah, barely 10 miles north of Jerusalem, over Modi's decision to ignore Palestine during the visit. Unlike even his own foreign minister Sushma Swaraj, Modi chose not to visit Ramallah with his government looking to de-hyphenate ties with Israel and Palestine.

"There's significant concern here that India is moving away from the policies it has followed since 1947," said Khalil Shikaki, the director of Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research in Ramallah.

"The current PM (Modi) seems more interested in security and in relations with the West. Palestinians seem to believe that they can no longer count on India's support," added Shikaki.

timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/israel-says-will-never-support-pakistan-on-kashmir/articleshow/60135571.cms

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Terrorism in name of Islam doesn’t represent Islam: Zarif

Aug 19, 2017

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has criticized US President Donald Trump for hastily “insulting” Islam following terrorist attacks in Spain, saying that acts of terror committed in the name of Islam do not represent the holy religion.

“Quick to insult Islam but hesitant to condemn racist terror at home. Terror in name of race or religion is plain terror & represents neither,” Zarif said in a message posted on his Twitter account on Saturday.

Last week, violent clashes erupted between far-right demonstrators and counter-protesters in the US city of Charlottesville. A white supremacist drove a car into a crowd of counter-protesters, killing a woman.

Trump failed to condemn the far-right agitators for the violence at first, remaining silent for 48 hours before he finally came up with a statement of condemnation that surprisingly denounced all sides.

In later remarks, the US president also seemed to compare the far-right protesters with the people who had been rallying to denounce white supremacy and fascism.

In contrast, soon after Daesh claimed deadly terrorist attacks in Spain on Thursday, Trump took to Twitter to make anti-Islam remarks.

He urged strong measures to combat what he called “radical Islamic terrorism” and advised people to study a debunked myth about a US general who executed suspected Muslim militants in the Philippines in the early 1900s by shooting them with bullets dipped in pigs’ blood.

“Study what General Pershing of the United States did to terrorists when caught. There was no more Radical Islamic Terror for 35 years!” he tweeted.

The offensive remark drew strong criticism, including by former US officials.

Trump has in the past been criticized for his linking of terrorists who claim to be “Muslims” to the religion of Islam.

The radical groups are in fact followers of an extremist pseudo-ideology known as “Wahhabism,” which is preached by government-sanctioned clerics inside Saudi Arabia.

presstv.ir/Detail/2017/08/19/532206/Iran-Zarif-US-Trump-antiIslam-remarks

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Only room for Jakim’s take on Islam in Malaysia, say scholars

19 Aug 2017

THERE is little tolerance for interpretations of Islamic tenets outside of what is prescribed by the Department of Islamic Development Malaysia (Jakim), say scholars.

"In Malaysia, there's only one version of Islam and it is the one approved by Jakim," said Ahmad Farouk Musa of the Islamic Renaissance Front (IRF) in a forum today.

Malaysia officially recognises the Sunni denomination of Islam and the Shafie school of jurisprudence.

According to the Pew Research Centre, Sunnis constitute close to 90% of the world's 1.6 billion Muslim population.

Farouk said the country has a history of state discrimination against Shia Islam, which religious authorities considered to be deviant.

"When we vilify one sect that has existed for thousands of years, such as Shia, that's a real problem," Farouk said at the forum organised by IRF, entitled 'Moderation in al-Qur'an: Between two extreme points'.

"We need to accept diversity not only on other religions but intra our religion. We are oppressing these subgroups. The question of human rights is something that is inherent within us," he said.

Farouk also spoke of discrimination against Wahabism, a movement that was outlawed by the National Fatwa Council in 2015.

"I believe now we are in that process heading towards extremism where the country will impose its interpretation of religion on its subjects," he added.

Meanwhile, Ahmad El-Muhammady of the International Islamic University Malaysia (IIUM) said Islamic issues remained unresolved due to the lack of communication.

"Megaphone diplomacy often fails because you never get the full picture of the story. You need direct engagement with Jakim."

"We need to meet with the leaders (of Jakim) otherwise we will fight until we become old. Shouting at one another (through the media) is very immature," said Ahmad.

Maszlee Malik of IIUM said the Muslim ummah should not be caught up with "jargon" but struggle to overcome evil.

"We should be discussing how to prevent a kleptocratic government, or how to create a system that accords people equal opportunity.

"There's no need to get drawn into arguments over definitions on what is moderate, or what constitutes Wahabism."

Maszlee said Islam gives prominence to good governance.

"We need to provide for people's future and ensure there is rule of law. I don't like to talk about all this jargon," he said.

"Tolerance is actually a bad word. I prefer the word love. Let's love one another." – August 19, 2017.

themalaysianinsight.com/s/11507/

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Nine British pilgrims bike 3,000 km from London to Medina for Hajj

20 August 2017

A group of nine British pilgrims have arrived in Saudi Arabia’s Medina on their bikes after a six-week long journey from London, which took them over 3,000 km through France, Switzerland, Italy, Greece and Egypt.

The trip, according to the British riders, was aimed at conveying a picture of Islam as a religion of peace and tolerance among the countries they passed through.

They are expected to complete their tour within the Kingdom from Jeddah through Medinah, before embarking on the performance of the pilgrimage rituals in Mecca.

“The ‘Hajj Ride’ is the first ever cycle ride for charity set up with the end goal being the performance of the most challenging physical worship in the five pillars of Islam, the hajj pilgrimage,” a statement from the group’s website read.

The group of cyclists hope to raise 1 million British pounds on their journey for Syrian refugees through the charity Human Aid UK.

People can donate money to Hajj Ride and the money the group raises will be used for emergency services in Syria. Human Aid and a few other organizations in UK and in Malaysia organized a unity convoy and since April they have sent 80-85 ambulances to Syria.

The funds raised during Hajj Ride will be used to replenish these ambulances and give them the equipment they need. Abdul Wahid, the founder of Hajj Ride conceptualized the project when he converted to Islam 11 years ago.

“People say you have to change everything about you when you become Muslim. I had a lot of time to think about how I can merge my lives. I thought I love cycling and I want to go to Hajj, so why don’t we go back to the old way of journeying?” Wahid told Al Arabiya English back in July just before their journey began from London.

english.alarabiya.net/en/features/2017/08/20/Nine-British-pilgrims-bike-3-000-km-from-London-to-Medina-for-Hajj.html

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India

Israel says will never support Pakistan on Kashmir

Sachin Parashar

Aug 19, 2017

JERUSALEM/RAMALLAH: Under no circumstances will Israel support Pakistan on the Kashmir issue, top Israeli authorities have said.

This is significant given that the country has been relatively silent over Kashmir, which is described as the core issue between India and Pakistan, despite standing shoulder to shoulder with India in the fight against terrorism.

For India, the main issue with Pakistan is cross-border terrorism which continues to fan unrest in Jammu and Kashmir.

For a while, after India established full diplomatic relations with Israel in the early 90s, Israel had endorsed India's position that Kashmir was an integral part of the country.

However, as India's West Asia expert Rajendra Abhyankar described it, a certain entente cordiale emerged between Israel and Pakistan after 2003 with Israel starting to look at Pakistan as an important country of the Muslim world.

The Delhi Declaration issued after the visit to India by then PM Ariel Sharon in 2003, the first bilateral visit by the PM of either country, did not mention Israel's position on Kashmir. Similarly, the recent visit by PM Narendra Modi, first by an Indian PM to Israel, did not see any direct or even indirect reference to the issue in public despite the tumult prevailing in the state for which India blames Pakistan.

According to Israeli officials though, there is no question of Israel in any way supporting Pakistan, whatever might be the situation in Kashmir. This was conveyed, in response to a TOI query, to a delegation of Indian journalists and politicians who were brought to Israel by the American Jewish Committee (AJC).

The query also touched upon why, despite claiming to fully back India's stand on terrorism, the joint statement issued after Modi-Netanyahu meeting last month, neither made any specific mention of cross-border terrorism nor called upon Pakistan to bring the perpetrators of the Mumbai attacks to justice. In contrast, the Modi-Trump joint statement this year did not just name Pakistan, asking it to expeditiously bring the perpetrators of Mumbai and Pathankot attacks to justice, but also sought action against Pakistan based terror groups like Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammed.

According to Israel though, the joint statement did not have to be exhaustive and that if something wasn't mentioned, it did not mean that it wasn't on the table. Israel also doesn't see the Kashmir issue as any form of religious conflict.

It's perhaps a sign of the maturity of its relationship with India that Israel has the confidence to not pursue exclusive ties with New Delhi. As Israeli officials said, there was no reason for Israel to take a position on the Sino-Indian military standoff even though Israel was following the situation closely. Israel has great relations with China but, as an official put it, just as India's relations with Iran are not directed at Israel, Israel's relations with any country too were were not directed to India.

However, while Israelis recalled Modi's visit as one of the most successful ever by a foreign leader, there was considerable disappointment at Ramallah, barely 10 miles north of Jerusalem, over Modi's decision to ignore Palestine during the visit. Unlike even his own foreign minister Sushma Swaraj, Modi chose not to visit Ramallah with his government looking to de-hyphenate ties with Israel and Palestine.

"There's significant concern here that India is moving away from the policies it has followed since 1947," said Khalil Shikaki, the director of Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research in Ramallah.

"The current PM (Modi) seems more interested in security and in relations with the West. Palestinians seem to believe that they can no longer count on India's support," added Shikaki.

timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/israel-says-will-never-support-pakistan-on-kashmir/articleshow/60135571.cms

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They're Demolishing Muslim Stereotypes, A Tweet at a Time

Aug 20, 2017

Last week, a Hyderabad court acquitted 10 accused in the 2005 Hyderabad suicide bomber case. The blast had earlier been pinned on the Harkatul Jihad-e-Islami (HUJI) of Bangladesh, but the police's special investigation team could not back its claims. While most newspapers and TV channels reported the news, the hardship suffered by the 10 Muslim men who languished for 12 years in prison, was largely buried. Twocircles.net, a non-profit community-run news site, highlighted the struggle that some of those arrested went through.

Massachusetts-based founder-editor Kashif ul-Huda says, "We spoke to the lawyer in detail, got the background of the innocents, and how their trial was delayed for years." A larger series called 'Terror Tales' puts together reports of Muslim youth arrested on false charges, tortured in custody or killed. It makes for disheartening reading and may not find its way to your Facebook feed.

Unhappy with the coverage of Muslims in Indian media, Kashif started twocircles.net in 2007. "The media tends to go for sensational and controversial topics and any marginalised community loses the ability to talk about issues that matter to them and tell their own stories in their own way."

Twocircles.net is an early entrant, but it is not the only one. Muslim voices are cutting through the online bedlam to provide alternative narratives and opinions. Sometime in 2016, Mumbai-based stylist and blogger Amena Azeez realised that there was no space for moderate Muslim voices around her. "I was tired of people appropriating Muslim opinions," she says referring to hardline talking heads on TV and online. She is part of @MuslimVoicesIn, which Kashif and others started. The Twitter handle is curated by a different person every week and focuses on personal experiences, history and culture of Indian Muslims.

Azeez says that as an Indian Muslim woman she faces significant trolling and hatred online. "Even a critique on fashion is something that draws comments like "go to Pakistan". Why should I have to prove my loyalty to my country? My Hindu friends can speak trash but I have to think twice before I can air an honest opinion," she says.

Syed Zubair Ahmad, who started MuslimMirror.com in December 2012, points out that it is the lack of balanced views on mainstream media that has created a need for websites like his. The website recently wrote about how an FIR filed against Gorakhpur doctor Dr Kafeel Khan accusing him of rape was closed. This came after two BJP leaders alleged that he was a rapist. The reportage about Khan, who was sacked by the UP CM Yogi Adityanath for dereliction of duty, is a case study in this lack of balance, glorified by some, slammed by others for alleged corruption. MuslimMirror.com has done several stories that were later followed up by mainstream newspapers and TV.

Ahmad also speaks about a growing anger amongst the Muslim youth. Clearly there is a gap that needs to be bridged. Journalist Saba Naqvi says, "With television portraying Muslims only in the context of terrorism or love jihad, the community has its back to the wall. I'm happy that there are websites or social media putting across alternative information but this must be done by mainstream media as well to have an impact. Why should only a Muslim Mirror talk about Muslims?"

Just before the 2014 general elections, Patna resident Mohammed Umar Ashraf noticed a website that was posting anti-Hindu content. The posts — typically decrying Indian army efforts in J&K or cheering Pakistan's cricket team — would be taken as snapshots by right wing trolls to lambast Muslims as anti-nationals. Ashraf says that after the elections, the website and its vitriolic content shut down as abruptly as it had begun. "This got me thinking. My community was being vilified for a purpose," he says. With this sprung the idea of using social media to highlight Muslim heroes, freedom fighters and those who had made a contribution to the freedom struggle, through the Facebook page Muslims of India and Twitter handle @WeIndianMuslims. The 22-year-old used public documents to find nuggets of information that range from "who coined the slogan Quit India?" (Yusuf Meher Jaffer Ali), and "who designed our national flag?" (Suraiya Badruddin Tayyabji). "I wanted to make a positive contribution amid all the viciousness online," he says.

Masarat Daud, who runs an NGO in Rajasthan's Shekhawati, agrees. She recently gave a TED talk about the burqa and the prejudices surrounding it. For her, the burqa is a form of resistance. In cities like Mumbai and Delhi, she is stopped from walking into hotels or triple- checked on the assumption that she is too poor or illiterate to be there. Daud, who was brought up in Dubai and now shuttles between UK and India, recounts a recent incident: "I don't litter in public, I collect my 'trash' and dispose it when I find a dustbin. Once, at the Jaipur airport, I disposed my bag of trash which included a packet of chips, a used pen and a few sheets of paper. When I went to the immigration queue, I noticed that I was being watched by the women in charge of cleaning toilets. One of them walked to the dustbin, found my plastic bag and went through the contents. When she found nothing suspicious, she threw it back."

Daud has not let such actions bother her though. She writes against practices like triple talaq and halala, even as she tweets and talks about the richness of her culture, heritage and food.

timesofindia.indiatimes.com/home/sunday-times/theyre-demolishing-muslim-stereotypes-a-tweet-at-a-time/articleshow/60136223.cms

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‘Garba entry should be only for those who apply tilak, drink Panchagavya’: Hindu Utsav Samiti

By Milind Ghatwai

August 20, 2017

Soon after Hindu Utsav Samiti (HUS)’s demand that Aadhaar card be made compulsory to keep non-Hindus away from Garba pandals, Sanskriti Bachao Manch (SBM) on Saturday demanded that entry should be given only if participants produce the unique identity number, apply tilak on forehead and drink Panchagavya. Panchagavya is a concoction of cow milk, urine, dung, curd and ghee. “Drinking Panchgavya cleanses one’s soul. Hinduism lays emphasis on it but Muslims won’t drink it and will be found out,’’ convener of SBM Chandrashekhar Tiwari told The Indian Express. He claimed Muslim boys “infiltrate” garba pandals and “trap” Hindu girls as part of “love jihad”.

The Bhopal-based organisation said it had appealed to parents through religious and social groups on WhatsApp to instruct their daughters to choose garba partners only after knowing their real identity and background. He said he has also appealed garba organisers to allow only religious songs at the venue.

The SBM claims membership of over 500 in the Madhya Pradesh capital. From anti-Pakistan protests to fashion shows to pro-Hindu causes, its volunteers often take to the streets. It has also protested against “indecent” hoardings near a government college for girls. Tiwari earlier headed Bajrang Dal. He said Islam does not allow idol worship and yet Muslim boys insist on entering garba venues because “they have evil designs”. When asked whether Hindu youths would be asked to taste Panchgavya, he claimed they would not refuse because they are used to it having it during religious events at home.

indianexpress.com/article/india/garba-entry-should-be-only-for-those-who-apply-tilak-drink-panchagavya-hindu-utsav-samiti-4804560/

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RSS to debate ansari’s muslim remark

By By Kumar Vikram

20th August 2017

NEW DELHI: Just before Hamid Ansari’s term as Vice-President ended on August 11 this year, he stirred up a hornet’s nest by saying “there is a feeling of unease and a sense of insecurity among Muslims in the country”. The RSS will now debate that there’s nothing like a sense of “unease” or “insecurity” among Muslims in India. The RSS’ wing, Muslim Rashtriya Manch, will organise a meeting of ulemas (scholars) here wherein the issue of fear or insecurity among the community will be discussed.Ansari’s statement triggered a debate and drew sharp reactions from many quarters. Many BJP leaders—including incumbent Vice-President M Venkaiah Naidu, and Kailash Vijayavargiya—said the statement was political propaganda. RSS leader Indresh Kumar said there were no takers for Ansari’s remark within the community.

“I want to ask him (Ansari) why he didn’t realise this earlier while he was at important positions. Muslims have rejected this,” said Yasir Ali Jilani, national convener, Muslim Rashtriya Manch.

Jilani said a meeting of ulemas is likely to be held on August 22 at Haryana Bhawan in Delhi. “Hamid Ansari’s statement has created confusion among the Muslim community. Scholars from many parts of the country have been invited and there will be debates over the issue,” he said.

Jilani added that “cow sacrifice is a crime and a campaign is being run ahead of Bakrid in which we are appealing to Muslims not to sacrifice cows. They are also being made aware that cow slaughter is banned in many parts of the country and that it is a crime. This will also be discussed by scholars”.

The BJP government has come under attack by the Opposition parties due to violence perpetrated by gau rakshaks (cow protectors). Amidst the controversies, BJP and the Sangh Parivar have made it clear that they support a ban on cow slaughter and condemn vigilantism in the name of cow protection.

newindianexpress.com/thesundaystandard/2017/aug/19/rss-to-debate-ansaris-muslim-remark-1645474.html

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Pakistani prisoner released from Warangal jail

August 20, 2017

A Pakistani prisoner lodged at the Warangal Central Jail in Warangal was on Saturday released from the prison. Arshad Muhammad was handed over to Habits police personnel of Hyderabad by jail superintendent M Sampath.

According to Sampath, though Arshad’s term ended in August last year and the Indian government permitted him to go back to his country, he could not return as the Pakistani government did not respond to his case which delayed the documentation process.

Arshad then appealed to External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj to help him to go-back to his country, and it took one year for him to receive the clearances. 53-year-old Arshad was sent to jail in 2009 after he was found guilty of treason and spying for Pakistan.

He served sentence at the Chentalguda prison and was later shifted to Warangal Central Prison due to security reasons. His jail term had ended on August 16, 2016, but he did not get the required permission from Pakistan, said the jail official.

Sampath said, “The Ministry of Home Affairs has issued orders asking the Police to hand him over at the Wagah Border.”

indianexpress.com/article/india/pakistani-prisoner-released-from-warangal-jail-4804440/

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Mideast

Terrorism in name of Islam doesn’t represent Islam: Zarif

Aug 19, 2017

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has criticized US President Donald Trump for hastily “insulting” Islam following terrorist attacks in Spain, saying that acts of terror committed in the name of Islam do not represent the holy religion.

“Quick to insult Islam but hesitant to condemn racist terror at home. Terror in name of race or religion is plain terror & represents neither,” Zarif said in a message posted on his Twitter account on Saturday.

Last week, violent clashes erupted between far-right demonstrators and counter-protesters in the US city of Charlottesville. A white supremacist drove a car into a crowd of counter-protesters, killing a woman.

Trump failed to condemn the far-right agitators for the violence at first, remaining silent for 48 hours before he finally came up with a statement of condemnation that surprisingly denounced all sides.

In later remarks, the US president also seemed to compare the far-right protesters with the people who had been rallying to denounce white supremacy and fascism.

In contrast, soon after Daesh claimed deadly terrorist attacks in Spain on Thursday, Trump took to Twitter to make anti-Islam remarks.

He urged strong measures to combat what he called “radical Islamic terrorism” and advised people to study a debunked myth about a US general who executed suspected Muslim militants in the Philippines in the early 1900s by shooting them with bullets dipped in pigs’ blood.

“Study what General Pershing of the United States did to terrorists when caught. There was no more Radical Islamic Terror for 35 years!” he tweeted.

The offensive remark drew strong criticism, including by former US officials.

Trump has in the past been criticized for his linking of terrorists who claim to be “Muslims” to the religion of Islam.

The radical groups are in fact followers of an extremist pseudo-ideology known as “Wahhabism,” which is preached by government-sanctioned clerics inside Saudi Arabia.

presstv.ir/Detail/2017/08/19/532206/Iran-Zarif-US-Trump-antiIslam-remarks

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Erdogan slams German rebukes over election ‘interference’

August 20, 2017

ISTANBUL - Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan lashed out at the German government on Saturday for criticising his call to ethnic Turks to vote against Germany’s two ruling parties in September elections, warning the foreign minister to “know your limits”.

The latest spat between Ankara and Berlin risks propelling a months-long crisis in ties between two NATO allies with deep historic links to a new level ahead of Germany’s general election on September 24.

Erdogan had a day earlier caused consternation in Berlin by urging ethnic Turks in Germany to vote against both parties in Chancellor Angela Merkel’s governing coalition.

Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel had bitterly condemned Erdogan’s comments as an “unprecedented act of interference” in Germany’s sovereignty.

But speaking to supporters in the southwestern province of Denizli, Erdogan launched a stinging personal attack on Gabriel.

“He knows no limits! Who are you to talk to the president of Turkey? Know your limits. He is trying to teach us a lesson... How long have you been in politics? How old are you?” Erdogan said.

Erdogan repeated his controversial call for ethnic Turks eligible to vote in the German elections not to cast their ballots for Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU), their coalition partner the Social Democratic Party (SPD), or the Greens.

“Teach them a lesson in the German elections,” he said. “They are waging a campaign against Turkey. Vote for those who don’t have enmity towards Turkey.”

He added: “It’s not important for us whether Germany opens its doors to us or not. We have enough doors.” Tensions have spiralled between Germany and Turkey in recent months.

Berlin has lambasted Ankara over the magnitude of the crackdown that followed last year’s failed coup, which has seen several German citizens arrested, including journalists. Turkish-German journalist Deniz Yucel, the Istanbul correspondent of the Die Welt daily, has been jailed in Turkey since February ahead of trial on terror charges.

German journalist Mesale Tolu has been held on similar charges since May, while activist Peter Steudtner was arrested in a July raid.

Ankara meanwhile has accused Berlin of failing to extradite suspected Kurdish militants and coup plotters who have taken refuge in Germany.

Addressing Merkel as “Madam”, Erdogan said the Turkish authorities had sent Germany dossiers on 4,500 suspects wanted for extradition to Germany on terror charges and received no answer.

“And she wanted one or two people to be sent home by me,” he said in apparent reference to the detained journalists and activist. “Forgive me but you have your legal system and so do we,” he added.

In a potential further bone of contention, Dogan Akhanli, a German writer of Turkish origin who has written extensively on Turkey’s human-rights record, was arrested in Spain on Saturday at Ankara’s request, Greens MP Volker Beck said. It was not clear why.

Earlier, Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdag, who is also the official government spokesman, defended Erdogan’s comments and said the reactions were “very disrespectful and very arrogant” and “beyond the bounds of decency.”

Gabriel’s SPD - whose candidate for the chancellorship is ex-EU parliament speaker Martin Schulz - and Merkel’s CDU are rivals in the election. But they have been in broad agreement on the policy regarding Turkey within the country’s grand coalition.

Merkel’s spokesman Steffen Seibert said on Twitter: “We expect foreign governments to not interfere in our internal affairs.”

The opposition Greens meanwhile have pushed for an even tougher line against Ankara, with its co-leader Cem Ozdemir, who is himself of Turkish origin, a vocal critic of Erdogan. Ankara Mayor Melih Gokcek, a staunch Erdogan loyalist, lashed out against Ozdemir on Twitter, warning: “Sit tight! You Armenian servant...”

Ozdemir had previously pressed Ankara to recognise the World War I killings of Armenians as genocide.

Analysts estimate that about 1.2 million people of Turkish origin will have the right to vote in the September elections.

nation.com.pk/international/20-Aug-2017/erdogan-slams-german-rebukes-over-election-interference

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Houthi leader launches attack on Yemen’s Saleh and his party

20 August 2017

Houthi leader Abdul Malik al-Houthi has launched an attack on his coup partner, ousted former Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh.

In a speech which appeared to be referring to Saleh’s party, al-Houthi said that there are those who seek to dismantle and strike the home front. They also aim to provoke conflicts to influence the military front, he added.

Al-Houthi also noted that there are those who are holding deals and attempting to conspire against Yemen.

Similarly, the Houthi leader spoke on the penetrations found in some of the political elements. Allegedly referring to Saleh’s party, he underlined the apparent practice of labor abroad which aimed to divide the national front.

According to al-Houthi, the alleged suspects are attempting to escalate the situation. The leader said so while accusing the former president’s party of abdication of responsibility in the management of state institutions.

english.alarabiya.net/en/News/gulf/2017/08/20/Houthis-launch-attack-on-Yemen-s-Saleh-and-his-party.html

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Saudi deploys troops to Yemen’s Aden: Pro-Hadi officials

Aug 20, 2017

Yemeni officials loyal to former president, Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, say Saudi Arabia has for the first time deployed troops to the southwestern port city of Aden, where Riyadh and its ally, the United Arab Emirates, are vying for a foothold.

The officials, who were speaking on condition of anonymity, said the Saudi forces had been stationed at Aden's presidential palace, port and airport.

They are the first special Saudi forces in Aden since 2015, when the Arab monarchy launched a military campaign against Yemen in an attempt to eliminate the country’s Houthi Ansarullah movement and reinstall Riyadh-friendly Hadi.

Saudi Arabia receives backing in the war from a number of its client states, including the UAE. There have, however, been some indications that Saudi Arabia and the UAE disagree on a number of issues over the war on Yemen, among them the control of Aden International Airport.

Earlier this year, Aden-based Hadi became suspicious of Abu Dhabi’s role in Yemen and accused it of acting "like an occupation power.”

He also sacked two of his pro-Emirati officials who allegedly supported the secession of southern Yemen. The move sparked mass protests in the south and fueled calls for separation.

Saudi Arabia has come under international criticism over mounting civilian casualties in Yemen and the massive destruction.

It has also achieved neither of the objectives despite spending billions of dollars on the war and enlisting the cooperation of dozens of its vassal states as well as Western countries.

The Saudi-led bombing campaign, which has been accompanied by a naval and aerial blockade on Yemen, has so far killed over 12,000 people in the impoverished state, left 70 percent of the country’s 27 million population in desperate need of humanitarian aid, and caused the worst cholera outbreak in the world.

'Long history of destructive intervention'

With the Yemen war at a stalemate, Saudi Arabia and the UAE are competing for influence in the areas which their mercenaries control.

Saudi Arabia has a long history of destructive intervention in Yemen, treating the country “as both threat and target,” according to political analyst Andrew Hammond.  

The kingdom’s stance on Yemen revolves around splitting political entities, spreading the radical Salafi ideology, and securing a passage to Bab-el-Mandab and the Arabian Sea, thus bypassing the Straits of Hormuz.

Saudi Arabia's strategy has been funding Yemen’s administrations as well as tribal leaders to secure support for its policies and prevent the emergence of a non-tribal, non-sectarian culture.

presstv.ir/Detail/2017/08/20/532291/Saudi-Arabia-Yemen-Aden

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Erdogan tells Germany’s FM Gabriel to know his limits

Aug 19, 2017

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said that German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel has to learn his “limits” after he told Turkey’s leader to stop interfering in the upcoming Germany's elections.

“He knows no limits! Who are you to talk to the president of Turkey? Know your limits. He is trying to teach us a lesson… How long have you been in politics? How old are you?” said Erdogan on Saturday.

The Turkish president made the remarks after Gabriel slammed Erdogan for his comments urging ethnic Turks in Germany to vote against Chancellor Angela Merkel in the county’s September 24 legislative elections. 

"That is an unprecedented act of interference in the sovereignty of our country," said Gabriel on Friday.

"Erdogan's interference in Germany's electoral campaign shows that he wants to incite people in Germany against each other," he added.

Erdogan meanwhile repeated his call on Turks eligible to vote in the German elections not to vote for Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU), their coalition partner the Social Democratic Party (SPD) or the Greens.

“Teach them (the three parties) a lesson in the German elections. They are waging a campaign against Turkey. Vote for those who don’t have enmity towards Turkey,” he said.

“It’s not important for us whether Germany opens its doors to us or not. We have enough doors,” he added.

“We will go to countries that have opened their doors and we will open our doors to them,” he stressed.

Relations between Turkey and Germany began to deteriorate after a failed coup in Turkey in 2016. Germany has repeatedly criticized Ankara's crackdown on the suspects of involvement in the coup, saying the Turkish government has acted beyond the rule of law.

Turkey defends the crackdown and insists that the government in Berlin has failed to properly condemn the coup.

Ankara also accuses Berlin of giving sanctuary to outlawed Kurdish militants and allowing their sympathizers to stage anti-Turkey rallies across Germany.

presstv.ir/Detail/2017/08/19/532273/turkey-erdogan-gabrial-germany-limits

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Israeli forces kill Palestinian teenager over alleged stabbing

Aug 19, 2017

Israeli forces have shot and fatally wounded a Palestinian teenager in the northern part of the occupied West Bank over an alleged stabbing attack, police and medics say.

Israeli police alleged in a statement that the 17-year-old, whose identity was not disclosed, approached a group of border guards at Israel's Zaatara military checkpoint, located at Tapuah Junction, south of the city of Nablus, on Saturday and made an “apparent stabbing attempt” against one of the soldiers.

It added that another guard opened fire at him and critically injured the Palestinian teen, who succumbed to his wounds shortly afterwards. According to the statement, he was from the West Bank city of Tul Karem.

Israeli medics initially announced that one of the guards also sustained light stabbing injuries but later said it appeared that the 21-year-old trooper had been wounded by shrapnel from the shots fired. Israel's public radio also said the border guard was the victim of “friendly fire.”

On July 14, three Palestinians opened fire on Israeli forces at the al-Aqsa Mosque compound, killing two of them before being shot dead.

The occupied Palestinian territories have witnessed new tension ever since Israeli forces introduced restrictions on the entry of Palestinian worshipers into the al-Aqsa Mosque compound in East Jerusalem al-Quds in August 2015.

More than 300 Palestinians have lost their lives at the hands of Israeli forces since the beginning of October 2015.

The Tel Aviv regime has tried to change the demographic makeup of Jerusalem al-Quds over the past decades by constructing settlements, destroying historical sites and expelling the local Palestinian population. Palestinians say the Israeli measures are aimed at paving the way for the Judaization of the city.

The al-Aqsa Mosque compound is a flash point Islamic site, which is also holy to Jews. The mosque is Islam’s third holiest site after Mecca and Medina in Saudi Arabia.

presstv.ir/Detail/2017/08/19/532263/Palestine-Israel-West-Bank-teenager-Nablus-stabbing-attack

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Saudi-led war on Yemen totally failed to achieve objectives: Ansarullah leader

Aug 19, 2017

The leader of Yemen's Ansarullah movement, Abdul-Malik al-Houthi, says the Saudi-led aggressors have failed to achieve any of their political objectives in the war on Yemen due to the unity and steadfastness of the nation.

During a live televised speech for a group of Yemeni commanders and tribal leaders in the capital Sana’a on Saturday, Houthi underlined Ansarullah’s support for an “honorable peace” in Yemen that would guarantee the sovereignty of the country, stressing that surrendering to the enemy pressures is no option for the nation.

The Ansarullah leader warned that the enemy seeks to change the result of the failed war in its favor through a new plot aimed at sowing discord among the Yemeni political factions.  

Houthi said enemies seek to infiltrate the Yemeni government and buy loyalty of some officials.

He rejected speculation about efforts by Ansarullah to take control over government institutions and called on all Yemeni political factions to assume an active role in running the country’s affairs.

The Ansarullah leader underscored the need for fighting corruption and implementing reforms in Yemen’s judiciary system to “hold back traitors.”

Since the beginning of the Saudi-led war on Yemen in March 2015, Saudi warplanes have been pounding the nation, killing over 12,000 people, including many women and children, and displacing over three million others.

The Yemen war, which was launched in an attempt to crush the Houthi movement and reinstall the resigned president, Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, a staunch ally of Riyadh, has also taken a heavy toll on the country’s facilities and infrastructure, destroying many hospitals, schools, and factories.

The humanitarian situation in Yemen has also dramatically deteriorated amid a Saudi blockade, which has put the impoverished country on the brink of widespread famine.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has warned that Yemen is battling against the “world's worst cholera outbreak” which affects 5,000 Yemenis on a daily basis.

WHO’s latest report says over 500,000 people have been affected by cholera in Yemen since the epidemic broke out in late April, as the waterborne disease has killed nearly 2,000 others in the impoverished nation during the past four months.

presstv.ir/Detail/2017/08/19/532249/Yemen-Saudi-Arabia-war-Ansarullah-Houthi-

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Southeast Asia

Only room for Jakim’s take on Islam in Malaysia, say scholars

19 Aug 2017

THERE is little tolerance for interpretations of Islamic tenets outside of what is prescribed by the Department of Islamic Development Malaysia (Jakim), say scholars.

"In Malaysia, there's only one version of Islam and it is the one approved by Jakim," said Ahmad Farouk Musa of the Islamic Renaissance Front (IRF) in a forum today.

Malaysia officially recognises the Sunni denomination of Islam and the Shafie school of jurisprudence.

According to the Pew Research Centre, Sunnis constitute close to 90% of the world's 1.6 billion Muslim population.

Farouk said the country has a history of state discrimination against Shia Islam, which religious authorities considered to be deviant.

"When we vilify one sect that has existed for thousands of years, such as Shia, that's a real problem," Farouk said at the forum organised by IRF, entitled 'Moderation in al-Qur'an: Between two extreme points'.

"We need to accept diversity not only on other religions but intra our religion. We are oppressing these subgroups. The question of human rights is something that is inherent within us," he said.

Farouk also spoke of discrimination against Wahabism, a movement that was outlawed by the National Fatwa Council in 2015.

"I believe now we are in that process heading towards extremism where the country will impose its interpretation of religion on its subjects," he added.

Meanwhile, Ahmad El-Muhammady of the International Islamic University Malaysia (IIUM) said Islamic issues remained unresolved due to the lack of communication.

"Megaphone diplomacy often fails because you never get the full picture of the story. You need direct engagement with Jakim."

"We need to meet with the leaders (of Jakim) otherwise we will fight until we become old. Shouting at one another (through the media) is very immature," said Ahmad.

Maszlee Malik of IIUM said the Muslim ummah should not be caught up with "jargon" but struggle to overcome evil.

"We should be discussing how to prevent a kleptocratic government, or how to create a system that accords people equal opportunity.

"There's no need to get drawn into arguments over definitions on what is moderate, or what constitutes Wahabism."

Maszlee said Islam gives prominence to good governance.

"We need to provide for people's future and ensure there is rule of law. I don't like to talk about all this jargon," he said.

"Tolerance is actually a bad word. I prefer the word love. Let's love one another." – August 19, 2017.

themalaysianinsight.com/s/11507/

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Scholars urge universities to promote moderate Islam

ISMIRA LUTFIA TISNADIBRATA

15 August 2017

JAKARTA: A conference of Islamic scholars from Saudi Arabia, Indonesia and Malaysia on Monday explored the role of universities in strengthening moderate Islamic thought.

They urged Muslim communities to combat religious extremism and societal division by spreading knowledge about moderate Islam.

The conference was organized by the Muslim World League (MWL) and Al-Azhar Indonesia University in Jakarta.

The scholars said intensifying dialogue on moderate Islam will help veer young Muslims away from those who want to destroy the religion, its people and its civilization.

In his opening remarks, MWL Secretary-General Mohammed bin Abdul Karim Al-Issa said a small faction of the roughly 1.8 billion Muslims worldwide has distorted understanding of Islam.

“The majority of Muslims around the world understand the right conception about Islam, except a minority few who have no idea about the core of Islamic teachings,” he said, adding that universities play an important role in rectifying misconceptions about Islam and terrorism.

Daesh “is just a small community in Islam, but it’s widespread due to the proliferation of the Internet. It’s our obligation, including universities, to set the record straight about the real Islamic teachings.”

Jakarta’s Governor-elect Anies Rasyid Baswedan, who was a panelist at the conference, said extremism flourishes when people do not think critically.

“It’s not just religious extremism but extremism in any field, any sector. University is the place to nurture critical thinking and creativity,” said the former rector of Paramadina University and education minister.

Indonesia has had to deal with rising extremism among its youths. A 2016 study by the Wahid Institute in Jakarta showed that more than 60 percent of 1,626 activists in Islamic study groups in schools and universities expressed willingness to wage what they believe is jihad in areas torn by religious conflict.

According to police data, some 600 Indonesians have gone to Syria to join Daesh. Some have returned in phases, most recently a group of 18 Indonesians who arrived in Jakarta on Saturday and are in police detention.

A Wahid Institute survey released in February showed that Indonesia saw an increase in violations of religious freedom from 190 in 2015 to 204 last year.

Institute Director Yenny Wahid said while the common perception is that lack of education is the main cause of radicalization, the survey found that economic inequality and feelings of alienation contributed the most to radicalization.

Speakers at the conference said it is important for the MWL and educational and social institutions in Indonesia to cooperate further to provide educational assistance to Muslims in Southeast Asia, roll out development programs in the region and address problems such as poverty.

Indonesian Religious Affairs Minister Lukman Hakim Saifuddin said moderation is an Islamic characteristic that promotes fairness, respect for diversity and openness to various groups in society.

“One of the main principles of dialogue to maintain diversity and togetherness is not to look down on other people and insult other religions’ symbols, which could cause a backlash,” he said.

Din Syamsuddin, head of the Indonesian Council of Ulemma’s advisory board, said in order for various faiths’ followers to get along, they should respect each other’s religious domains.

arabnews.com/node/1145011/world

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Six dead as Philippine militants battle pro-IS splinter group

August 19, 2017

'The MILF is trying to force the BIFF out of the area. They do not want any trouble'

The Philippines’ largest Muslim militant group has launched a deadly offensive against a splinter faction that has pledged allegiance to the Islamic State group, police said Saturday.

The fighting between the two groups began about two weeks ago in the marshy farmlands around the southern town of Datu Salibo on Mindanao island, regional police spokeswoman Tara Leah Cuyco said.

Clashes between the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and its offshoot, the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF), took place on Friday and Saturday, with six fighters from the original group killed.

“The MILF is trying to force the BIFF out of the area. They do not want any trouble,” Chief Inspector Cuyco told AFP.

A MILF guerrilla leader told a video journalist working for AFP on Saturday: “We do not want them here. It’s an order from the higher-ups.”

The MILF, which has more than 10,000 fighters, has waged a decades-long guerrilla war, first for independence and later autonomy for the large Islamic minority in the south of the largely Catholic Asian nation.

It signed a peace treaty with the Philippine government in 2014 and is observing a ceasefire with the Philippine government while waiting for the passage of a proposed law that would grant self-rule to the Muslim areas of the Mindanao region.

Senior MILF leaders have warned President Rodrigo Duterte to deliver on government commitments under the peace accord, chiefly the autonomy law, or risk frustrating MILF members and causing them to defect to the BIFF and other pro-IS groups.

The BIFF, said by the military to have a few hundred armed fighters, has been among several small armed groups in Mindanao that have pledged alliance to the IS.

The fighting comes as the military fought a near three-month battle in Marawi, a Muslim city 100 kilometres (62 miles) to the north.

The fighting in Marawi is being led by two other Muslim rebel factions, the Maute group and the Abu Sayyaf.

The Marawi battle has left 573 militants and 128 soldiers and police dead, along with at least 45 civilians, according to an official tally.

dhakatribune.com/world/asia/2017/08/19/philippine-militants-milf-biff/

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Indonesia and Malaysia are poles apart after flag blunder

August 20 2017

Indonesia has accused the Malaysian organisers of the Southeast Asian Games of negligence after the Indonesian flag was printed upside down in a souvenir guidebook.

The mistake, which makes the red-and-white Indonesian flag resemble Poland's, has caused anger in Indonesia where "shameonyoumalaysia" has become the most popular hashtag on Twitter.

Youth and sports minister Imam Nahrawi said the error was "very painful".

Indonesia's Olympic Committee chairman Erick Thohir said the mistake "shows negligence" and demanded the guidebook be replaced.

Indonesia appears to have taken particular offence because the guidebook was distributed to VIPs at Saturday's opening ceremony and only its flag was shown incorrectly.

Malaysia and Indonesia are both Muslim majority nations and share a similar language but often trade accusations of stealing each other's food and culture.

independent.ie/world-news/indonesia-and-malaysia-are-poles-apart-after-flag-blunder-36049618.html

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Moral panic created to make Malays feel insecure, says Bebas

Nora Jaswa

August 20, 2017

PETALING JAYA: Civil rights group Bebas says the creation of moral panic in Malaysia by certain quarters is especially intended to make the Malay-Muslim community feel constantly insecure.

Its spokesman Azrul Khalib said moral panic is artificially generated so that a particular race is afraid and suspicious of people from other faiths and cultures in the belief that the latter are out to corrupt or convert them.

“It creates a false sense of need and dependence on those who are currently in power, to allow them to remain as self-proclaimed protectors, defenders and champions of race and religion,” he told FMT.

He said such arguments often hinge on fear, bigotry and compulsion instead of reason, understanding and discussion.

“Racism, and the politics and policies of race and religion, remain very much alive in the Malaysia of 2017,” he said.

“This is actually happening in tandem with the increasing economic disparity experienced by all levels of society,” he added.

Azrul also said the disparity becomes more polarising when communal leaders start looking for someone to blame for their failures, misfortunes and hardships.

Azrul was commenting on an assertion by a research analyst at the Malaysia Programme in the S Rajaratnam School of International Studies in Singapore that Malaysian politicians are good at producing moral panic and that is how they stay in power.

In a commentary in Singapore’s Today Online, Prashant Waikar said Malaysian politicians use events to manufacture moral panic by characterising them as threats to the country’s moral and religious fabric, especially Islam, and present themselves as the saviour.

He said these threats tend to centre on the issues of poverty, drug use, immigration and, as is currently the case in Malaysia, sexuality.

In most cases, he says, these threats are deemed to be morally repugnant precisely because they are framed as antithetical to society’s dominant culture.

Amanah vice-president Mujahid Yusof Rawa said Malaysian politicians are usually prone to use religion to gain voters’ sympathy as the general public easily relate to it.

The Parit Buntar MP called for politicians not to stoop so low as to manipulate the people’s religious interests.

“Religion should not be exploited. For a society such as in Malaysia which has not matured, voters can be easily influenced by what politicians say,” he said.

Barisan Nasional MP for Pasir Salak, Tajuddin Abdul Rahman, however, said Malaysia has a high tolerance level when it comes to religious issues.

He said much of the national discussion would obviously centre on the concerns of the dominant race of a country.

“Most of the voters in Malaysia come largely from the Malay-Muslim community. So of course issues revolving around Islam would form the main topic for politicians to relate with in society,” Tajuddin said.

freemalaysiatoday.com/category/nation/2017/08/20/moral-panic-created-to-make-malays-feel-insecure-says-bebas/

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Khairy apologises to Indonesian counterpart for flag bungle

August 20, 2017

KUALA LUMPUR: Youth and Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin has apologised to his Indonesian counterpart over a mistake on the Indonesian flag in a booklet on the Kuala Lumpur SEA Games 2017.

He said that the mistake was purely unintentional.

“Bapak Imam, please accept my sincere apologies for this. There was no malice.

“I very much regret that this mistake happened. My apologies,” he said on his Twitter account in response to a tweet from Indonesian Youth and Sports Minister Imam Nahrawi, regarding the matter.

In the booklet, the Indonesian flag appeared upside down.

Meanwhile, the Malaysia SEA Games Organising Committee (MASOC), in a statement, apologised to all Indonesians over the unintentional mistake.

It said Khairy, who is also MASOC chairman, would call on Imam Nahrawi today to extend a personal apology on behalf of the committee.

“We truly regret this error and we hope that the close ties between the two countries will be further enhanced in the spirit of the SEA Games,” the statement said.

freemalaysiatoday.com/category/nation/2017/08/20/khairy-apologises-to-indonesian-counterpart-for-flag-bungle-in-booklet/

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Europe

Nine British pilgrims bike 3,000 km from London to Medina for Hajj

20 August 2017

A group of nine British pilgrims have arrived in Saudi Arabia’s Medina on their bikes after a six-week long journey from London, which took them over 3,000 km through France, Switzerland, Italy, Greece and Egypt.

The trip, according to the British riders, was aimed at conveying a picture of Islam as a religion of peace and tolerance among the countries they passed through.

They are expected to complete their tour within the Kingdom from Jeddah through Medinah, before embarking on the performance of the pilgrimage rituals in Mecca.

“The ‘Hajj Ride’ is the first ever cycle ride for charity set up with the end goal being the performance of the most challenging physical worship in the five pillars of Islam, the hajj pilgrimage,” a statement from the group’s website read.

The group of cyclists hope to raise 1 million British pounds on their journey for Syrian refugees through the charity Human Aid UK.

People can donate money to Hajj Ride and the money the group raises will be used for emergency services in Syria. Human Aid and a few other organizations in UK and in Malaysia organized a unity convoy and since April they have sent 80-85 ambulances to Syria.

The funds raised during Hajj Ride will be used to replenish these ambulances and give them the equipment they need. Abdul Wahid, the founder of Hajj Ride conceptualized the project when he converted to Islam 11 years ago.

“People say you have to change everything about you when you become Muslim. I had a lot of time to think about how I can merge my lives. I thought I love cycling and I want to go to Hajj, so why don’t we go back to the old way of journeying?” Wahid told Al Arabiya English back in July just before their journey began from London.

english.alarabiya.net/en/features/2017/08/20/Nine-British-pilgrims-bike-3-000-km-from-London-to-Medina-for-Hajj.html

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'Recruiting for Jihad' Examines Islamic Extremist Groups in Europe

August 19, 2017

WASHINGTON —

Recruiting for Jihad is a Norwegian expose on the practices extremist Jihadists follow to recruit young men to fight for ISIS. During filming, Adel Khan Farooq, one of the two filmmakers, had unprecedented access to a radicalized network of Islamists in Europe. He met them through Norwegian-born Ubaydullah Hussain, a notorious recruiter, currently serving a nine-year sentence in a Norwegian prison.

"In the beginning, he was very charming," Farooq told VOA, describing Hussain. "He was easy to talk with, and I never felt like he was a threat directly against me or anybody else for that matter, but when the attacks against Charlie Hebdo in France occurred and he was praising ISIS and then praising the attacks on Copenhagen, I certainly felt like that I did not know him after all."

Still, Farooq kept filming Hussain.

"I wanted to find out why he became that way, why did he become so extreme, because there are some pieces of him that he used to be a referee in soccer and he was a bright child and did OK in school," he says. Farooq accompanied Hussain to underground meetings and workshops among radicalized Islamists in a number of places in Europe, trying to learn what was behind the radicalization of people like him.

Farooq learned that most of the radicals are born in Europe but are culturally and psychologically displaced and vulnerable to the idea of close-knit radicalized communities.

"At least in Norway, 99 percent of Muslims, the majority of Muslims, are integrated in society. They work as lawyers, doctors, teachers, police officers, and have a Muslim background. But there are some, the minority, that have these extreme views. It's not only in Norway, it's in Sweden, Denmark, UK, France, Belgium, you always find a small minority of people who don't fit in even as Muslims, they don't fit in, they are marginalized, might struggle or have some struggles at home, hard time finding work."

These types of people, Farooq says, are radicalized by leading Islamists such as Anjem Choudary, a British citizen, who supports the existence of an Islamic state.

Before his six-year incarceration for supporting Islamic State, Choudary was holding workshops throughout Europe advocating jihad. During one of those underground meetings, Farooq captured chilling footage of him preaching to a group of men, women and children in a basement room. His lecture, advocating that Islamic values are superior to British values and the British constitution, was also being recorded and distributed to thousands over the internet.

In 2015, Islamic extremists waged a series of attacks in Paris, first against the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, and months later, at a concert hall and football stadium, killing 130 and injuring 368. Afterward, Farooq says Hussain told him on camera that he did not know the attackers in Paris, but he knew people who knew them.

"These extremist groups," Farooq said, "are really small, but they are strong because they work together. They either visit each other, have so called sessions, where they have seminars of sort."

Though their ideas don't represent the majority of Muslims in Europe, Farooq said, they impact the Muslim communities by fueling hatred against them.

"This radicalization is not a Muslim thing," he says. "You find radicalization in America, too. Right wing extremists, they are radicalized; criminals, they are radicalized."

One of Farooq's last filming sessions of Hussain showed the Islamist recruiting a young Norwegian to fight for ISIS in Syria. The 18-year-old recruit was apprehended at the airport just before he boarded a plane with a fake passport. Hussain was arrested, and Norwegian police forces confiscated footage from Farooq and his co-director, Ulrik Rolfsen as evidence. The filmmakers' fight for freedom of the press became a story in itself. Farooq and Rolfsen took their case all the way to Norway's Supreme Court. They won.

"The key issue is that for any democracy, it is very, very vital that journalists and media are separated from authorities," Rolfsen stressed. "My power is to tell stories and expose things that happen in society to educate the public, and I think it's important that we don't step on each other's toes."

When asked whether such a documentary can fuel fear and mistrust against Muslims, Rolfsen said that audiences' reactions overall were positive, but he admitted it is a tough subject to tackle.

"We have a lot of people hating Islam, we have a lot of people pro Islam, the whole refugee situation is in the middle of that. Publishing the film felt like walking through a fire with a big balloon filled with gasoline and you know it's going to blow up in your face if you don't hold it high enough and you don't walk fast enough."

Farooq, raised as a Muslim, feels the film was close to his heart because he wanted to expose how these cells operate on the fringes of society.

"That was very important to me and Ulrik. Because most Muslims are not like these guys," he said. "They are normal people."

voanews.com/a/recruiting-for-jihad-film/3992559.html

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Spain terror attacks: Suspects' community speaks out against extremism

Sam Kiley

August 20, 2017

A handful of worshippers prayed quietly on the red carpet of the An Nour Mosque in Ripoll.

Off to one side in the offices, well-meaning elders of the institution that serves a mostly Moroccan congregation grappled with the notion that their last imam is suspected of being at the centre of the latest terror attacks in Spain.

Worse still, some young men whom they knew - who were occasional visitors to prayers - had been killers, and been killed.

"It's been a big shock... it hurt us a lot what happened in Barcelona.

"It was a blow - a big, big blow for us, for the Spanish people and the world, and for Muslims as well because this doesn't happen," said Ali Yassine, president of the mosque.

He said that Abdelbaki es Satty, the former imam, had stopped attending the place of worship "a couple of months ago".

Spanish police suspect the preacher's remains are in the rubble of a house in Alcanar which blew up in a bomb-making accident on Wednesday.

Had es Satty displayed any radical views in sermons or other teachings?

"No. He was very normal. We would have stopped him if he had been. But what happens outside the mosque - we have no control over that and we don't know," said Mr Yassine.

Five of the town's youths were shot dead by police after ramming pedestrians and killing one in a car and then emerging brandishing machetes and knives.

The anxious president appeared near to tears of despair.

"We don't know how they were radicalised. Someone brainwashed them," he said.

Younes Abouyaaqoub, 22, is being hunted across Europe.

He is suspected of driving the van into people in Barcelona, killing 13.

He was also from Ripoll.

His cousin, Fatima, said that she had not heard from him nor had any other member of the family for "more than a month".

She joined a vigil attended by the relatives of the dead terrorists outside the town hall which condemned the attacks, held a minute's silence while the town hall clock chimed six, and wept.

"It seems like a bad dream. Sometimes I wonder, I wake up - it can't have happened," said Fatima.

But it did.

And now the Muslim citizens of Ripoll, which has a population of just under 12,000, face not only the horror of a terror attack on their country, but also an unnerving suspicion that fellow Spaniards may assume they are "guilty" by association.

And that is an unjust stain that the murderous extremists they knew, would never have wanted erased.

news.sky.com/story/spain-terror-attacks-suspects-community-speaks-out-against-extremism-10997023

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Barcelona attacks: Families believe Muslim cleric is to blame

AUGUST 20 2017

Ripoll, Spain: In the Spanish mountain town where the Barcelona terror attacks were born, people want to know how it all had started.

The Spanish interior minister boasted on Saturday that the terrorist cell that had carried out attacks in the capital and a nearby seaside village has been "completely dismantled".

But at the centre of the mystery there are questions: how did a dozen young men from a small town - some friends since childhood - come together to plot in secret and carry out the deadliest terrorist attack in Spain in more than a decade, considering some were barely old enough to drive and most still lived with their parents.

As many as eight of 12 young men named as suspects in the terrorist attacks in Barcelona and Cambrils are first and second-generation Moroccan immigrants from the picturesque town of Ripoll, perched high in the forests at the edge of the Pyrenees, a two-hour drive on the highway from Barcelona.

Parents of the young men here said they fear their sons were radicalised by a visiting cleric who spent the last months praying, preaching - and possibly brainwashing gullible youngsters who spoke better Spanish than Arabic.

Others were not sure what drove the young men to such extreme violence. One assailant drove a white rented van down a crowded pedestrian boulevard in Barcelona, killing 14 and seriously wounding scores. Five others attacked police and bystanders after running a checkpoint. Two other suspects, still unidentified, were blown up in an explosion at a house being used by the cell to make a bomb, which authorities say was to be deployed in "a major attack".

Spanish authorities said on Saturday that they are searching for Younes Abouyaaqoub, a 22-year-old Moroccan-born man from Ripoll, who they now believe drove the van.

As of Saturday night, some of the families with sons in the terror cell said they had not been definitely informed by authorities if, how or where they died.

Some questioned how the young men could have organised themselves. "Who is behind all this? Who is the big fish?," said Rashid Oukabir, a cousin of 17-year-old Moussa Oukabir, a member of the cell who was killed by police after their car rammed officers.

"It's impossible these kids did all of this on their own," he said. "Who helped them?"

Local Moroccan immigrants drinking tea and watching cable news at the Cafe Esperanza wondered aloud how the youths could have turned so quickly toward violence.

"They were nerds," said one man who knew them.

Ibrahim Aallaa is the father of two young men implicated in the attacks: Said Aallaa, 18, and his brother, Youssef Aallaa, 22. He said he assumed both were dead.

A third son, Mohammad, 27, was the registered owner of the Audi A3 used in the Cambrils attack. He is in police custody, his father said.

Aallaa told The Washington Post that he believed Youssef may have been radicalised by an imam in Ripoll, where a generation ago the first Moroccans came to work in the forests cutting trees or in the fields harvesting crops. Aallaa said he did not know the cleric's name.

In Ripoll on Saturday, national Catalan police searched the abandoned apartment of a part-time Muslim preacher named Abdelbaki Essati, who had served in a local mosque.

According to the Spanish newspaper El Pais, police were looking for DNA samples from the apartment because they suspected that Essati might have been one of the two men killed in Wednesday's explosion.

Albert Oliva, a regional police official, declined to provide details on the cleric during a news conference on Saturday.

The elder Aallaa said that his son Youssef had changed in recent months, that he had become more strict in his religious practice and more judgmental.

"My son would tell me, 'Father, you have to pray. You have to follow Islam'."

Youssef, he said, was a "problematic" child. The boy was aggressive. He fought in school, Aallaa recalled. He opened the door to his tiny room, where he slept on a mattress next to his brother Said. There were religious texts and some free weights for bodybuilding - and that was it.

Recently, Youssef would disappear for days at a time, his father said, adding that he last saw his son a month ago. He thought he was working in a nearby town. He suspects that Youssef got his brother Said involved in the attack.

"I never heard them speak of the Islamic State or Syria," he said. "Not anything like that, ever."

Hafida Oukabir said she saw her younger brother Moussa hours before the Barcelona attack. She did not notice anything new or different. If he had undergone some dramatic change, it was hidden from her, she said.

"My brother didn't change," Hafida insisted.

Moussa Oukabir went to Friday services at the mosque but did not pray every day. In the days before the attacks, "he was laughing, going out. If I would have seen any changes or had the suspicion of anything, we would have gone to the authorities. But nothing pointed at this."

Hafida said the tight-knit Moroccan community, especially the families, are now focusing on who may have radicalised the youths.

"What I think happened is that someone must have brainwashed them," she said. "Do you really believe a 17 or 18-year-old, who was born here and grew up here, would think about killing people? No, no - somebody must have played with their minds and used them."

The Islamic State had earlier claimed that its "soldiers" carried out the attacks in Spain, but the level of involvement by the terrorist group remained unclear.

Aallaa said that his son Youssef had books he kept hidden that he would study with friends. When police raided the home, they took away old mobile phones and a laptop.

In the immediate aftermath of the attacks, as news broke that Moroccan immigrants from Ripoll were responsible, many in town swore that relations between the Muslim newcomers and the established Catholic residents were calm and respectful.

But as the first arrests came to Ripoll, some locals jeered at the detainees, threatening them.

There also was graffiti spray-painted near one of the mosques that read "Moors out!' - a reference to Moroccan immigrants.

Over the past two days, stickers also appeared on street signs reading "enough Islamisation" with a picture of a mosque and a line drawn across it.

Irene Payet, 64, lives in the same building as the Aallaa family. She is also a local politician. Payet said she believes the Moroccan immigrants are coddled by the government, given rights and benefits they have not earned.

"These people, they are radicals, so I am not surprised they do this," she said. "These people should be pushed aside. They are not ready to live in our society."

Payet gestured toward the floors above her apartment.

"I'm sleeping with the enemy," she said.

smh.com.au/world/barcelona-attacks-families-believe-muslim-cleric-is-to-blame-20170820-gy04bv.html

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Spain: Muslims express innocence in Barcelona gathering

Aug 19, 2017

A small group of Muslims have gathered at Barcelona’s Las Ramblas promenade to insist they aren’t terrorists in the wake of the twin vehicle attacks that killed 14 people and injured dozens.

The protest by about 100 members of Barcelona’s Muslim community was held at the Canaletas Fountain at the top of the promenade.

They shouted “We are not terrorists” and “Islam is peace.”

Catalan’s Moroccan community, in particular, has been in the spotlight after the four main suspects in the attacks claimed Moroccan roots.

hindustantimes.com/world-news/spain-muslims-express-innocence-in-barcelona-gathering/story-o0b6QB2fgRCeeYib1qVBbJ.html

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ISIS claims responsibility as eight stabbed in Russian city

19 August 2017

Eight people were injured in a knife attack in the Siberian city of Surgut, the local office of the Russian law enforcement committee said in a statement published on its website.

“A man was moving along the main streets stabbing people”, it said, adding “the attacker has been killed.”

“The committee is investigating attempted murder”, the spokeswoman for the committee told Reuters by phone, adding she would not comment on whether the incident was terrorism related.

Meanwhile, ISIS has claimed responsibility for the stabbing attack in Surgut, Russia, according to the group’s Amaq news agency, reported Reuters.

Two of those stabbed are in a serious condition while five more are in a stable condition, the government of the Khanty-Mansi region said in a statement, calling the attacker so far “unidentified.”

It called for calm over the incident, saying that “in the interests of public calm and also of the investigation, citizens and media are recommended to use reliable information in assessing the situation until all the circumstances are established.”

Surgut, with a population of about 320,000, is an oil- and gas-producing center 2,100 kilometers northeast of Moscow.

english.alarabiya.net/en/News/world/2017/08/19/Eight-stabbed-in-Russian-city-police-shoot-man-dead.html

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Daesh losses in Mideast increasing UK terror threat: Minister

Aug 19, 2017

Britain’s security minister has warned that terror threat is still on the rise in the United Kingdom despite recent losses of the Daesh Takfiri group in Iraq and Syria.

Security Minister Ben Wallace said Europe has come under "constant attack" from terror groups, because Daesh is “collapsing in Syria and people are either unable to get out there to fight for ISIS (Daesh) and so they look to do something at home.”

"I think those two things mean that the threat is to some extent increasing,” he added.

Daesh has already been pushed out the northern city of Mosul — its main Iraqi stronghold — which was liberated on July 10. The group has also lost large swathes of its occupied lands in Syria, and is now subject to intensive counter-terrorism operations in the city of Raqqah, which is yet to be declared free from the militant group.

Britain has recently been targeted by several Daesh claimed terrorist attacks. The country increased terror threat level to critical in the aftermath of a bombing that killed at least 22 people, including seven children, at the Manchester Arena at the end of a concert back in May.

Later in June, two attacks claimed the lives of at least ten people in central London. Three men rammed a van into people on London Bridge before launching knife attacks on people somewhere else in Borough Market. Both attacks were later claimed by Daesh. A recent car rampage, which was also claimed by the takfiri group in the Spanish city of Barcelona, is said to  have been inspired by the London Bridge attack, according to security officials.

The attack occurred on Thursday evening, when a van rammed into a crowd on Rambla Avenue in the center of Barcelona, killing at least 14 and injuring some 100 others. Daesh claimed responsibility for the deadly attack.

presstv.ir/Detail/2017/08/19/532254/UK-security-terror-threat-Daesh-ISIS-Ben-Wallace

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Spain ‘dismantles cell behind terror attacks’

Aug 20, 2017

Spain says it has dismantled an extremist cell behind the recent terrorist attacks in Catalonia, which were claimed by the Takfiri Daesh group.

Thirteen people died on Thursday when a man drove a van into people in a Barcelona promenade. Some 120 people were also injured.

Another similar attack on Friday killed one person and wounded five in the resort of Cambrils.

Spanish Interior Minister Juan Ignacio Zoido told a news conference on Saturday that the cell behind the terrorist attacks had been dismantled.

“The cell has been fully dismantled in Barcelona, after examining the people who died, the people who were arrested and carrying out identity checks,” Zoido said.

He assured there was no new imminent danger of an attack.

This is while Spanish police have said the driver of the van in the Barcelona attack is still at large. He was seen escaping on foot after the attack.

Information about the investigation is patchy. Police were also trying on Saturday to determine whether two other suspects linked to the attacks were dead or still at large.

That uncertainty may be because the remains of three people found at a house in Alcanar after an explosion on Wednesday are yet to be identified. An unknown number of suspects were reportedly attempting to build bombs there when a pre-mature detonation occurred.

A Moroccan-born 22-year-old, Younes Abouyaaqoub, is among the suspects still being sought. Spanish media said he might have been the driver of the van in the Barcelona attack, but authorities have not confirmed that.

In the Cambrils incident, police managed to kill all the five assailants. They were wearing fake explosive belts.

Seventeen-year-old Moussa Oukabir, whose brother Driss reported to police that his documents had been stolen, was one of the five killed. His documents were found in the van in the Barcelona attack.

Four people were also in police custody.

Everyone so far known in the cell grew up in Ripoll, a Catalan town near the French border, 100 kilometers north of Barcelona.

Halima Hychami, the mother of Mohamed Hychami, one of the attackers named by police, said she learned about the incident on TV.

She said Mohamed had told her he was leaving on vacation. His younger brother, Omar, left home and has been missing since mid-afternoon Thursday, as well.

presstv.ir/Detail/2017/08/20/532293/Spain-Ignacio-Zoido-terrorist-cell-dismantled

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Australia charges 3 over attacks on Shia mosque

Aug 20, 2017

Police in Australia have charged three men with terrorism over two “Daesh-inspired” arson attacks against a Shia Muslim mosque in Melbourne last year.

Security forces arrested a 29-year-old male resident of Melbourne late on Saturday, who was charged along with two other men, aged 25 and 27, who had already been in custody and awaiting trial on suspicion of planning bomb attacks in Australia’s second largest city.

Police said all three had been charged with engaging in a “terrorist act” by causing two serious fires at the Imam Ali Islamic Center at Fawkner, a Melbourne suburb, in November and December 2016.

Australian Federal Police Assistant Commissioner Ian McCartney said attacking a place of worship was a serious crime and that there had been a “strong influence” on the attackers by the Daesh terrorist group.

“It is clear that these arson attacks were designed to intimidate and influence those that attend this mosque and the wider Islamic community. These actions have no place in our society,” McCartney said.

Ross Guenther, Victoria’s police assistant commissioner, also said in a statement that the trio had been “inspired” and “strongly influenced” by Daesh to commit the arson attacks, but asserted that there was no evidence to conclude they were directly ordered to do so by the terrorist group.

All the three man will face a maximum penalty of life imprisonment over the attacks if convicted.

Australia is concerned about the threat of attacks in the country as nationals who had joined terror groups in the Middle East return home.

In late March 2017, Australia’s Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said that hundreds of militants from Southeast Asia had been in the Middle East fighting for Daesh and could soon return to the region as the Takfiri group loses more territory to security forces fighting to take back land overrun by the outfit.

Daesh, which first emerged in the Middle East and later spread its activities to North Africa and Afghanistan, has been suffering heavy losses in Iraq and Syria, the two countries where it has been significantly active.

The Australian government has ratified a law criminalizing travel to Daesh strongholds, including those in Syria and Iraq. Individuals charged with the crime could face up to 10 years in prison.

presstv.ir/Detail/2017/08/20/532298/Australia-three-charged-Shia-mosque-Melbourne

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Muslims fear anti-Islam backlash in tolerant Barcelona

August 20, 2017

BARCELONA (AFP) - Prayer time is approaching but Raja Miah, an imam at a tiny mosque in the heart of Barcelona does not expect a big turnout.

Since the twin attacks in Barcelona and the nearby seaside resort of Cambrils claimed by the Islamic State group, the Muslim community in central Barcelona's neighbourhood of Raval fears an anti-Islam backlash.

"People are very scared," said Miah, 23, as he sat in a small room at the mosque in Raval as a small group of children in an adjoining room studied the Quran.

Raval - whose name derives from the Arabic word for neighbourhood - is located just west of Barcelona's bustling Las Ramblas boulevard where a van ploughed into pedestrians on Thursday, killing 13 and injuring dozens of others.

Just hours later, another person died in a similar attack in the holiday town of Cambrils, where police shot five suspects dead.

"There is a lot of fear, people don't go out. Very few people come to pray. Normally we are about 40 people, last night we weren't even 15 and this morning 10," said Miah, who moved to Barcelona nine years ago from Bangladesh.

Spain's Muslim community has until now been spared from the Islamophobia that has swept parts of Europe.

Far-right parties remain barely visible and just 4 per cent of Spaniards consider immigration to be a problem, according to a survey by the government's Centre for Sociological Research (CIS).

But the string of attacks in Europe, claimed by the so-called Islamic State in Iraq and Syria group, has sparked a rise in hate incidents.

The number of recorded cases jumped from just 48 in 2014 to 534 in 2015, according to a campaign group, the Citizens' Platform Against Islamophobia.

And Muslims fear it will get worse following the twin attacks.

'YOU FEEL BAD'

The narrow and normally noisy streets of Raval were silent on Saturday morning.

Immigrants account for roughly half of the densely-populated neighbourhood's population, with a huge number of people from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Morocco.

"(The) Spaniards treat us well, they help us, they make us feel at home," said Raja.

But just minutes after the attack in Barcelona, he said he could feel that something was changing. When he fled the Ramblas area in the wake of the attacks he was stopped by police.

"It's normal, they saw me with my beard and robe and they stopped me. But you feel bad," he said.

"We fear that the same will happen here as in France, Britain or other places" where far-right parties have grown strongly in recent years, said Islam Zahid, 22, who runs a small supermarket in back streets of Raval. Children could be heard playing football in the background.

About 100 members of Barcelona's Muslim community, many of them tearful, gathered on Las Ramblas on Saturday to demonstrate against the twin attacks in Spain.

"They are not Muslims, they are terrorists" and "Islam is peace," they shouted.

'BARBARIANS'

Marzouk Rouj, a 39-year-old Moroccan construction worker who went to the demonstration with his daughter, said the bloodshed left him "shattered".

"I have lived more years here than in my (own) country. My children go to school here and I don't want people to look at them negatively because of some barbarians," said Rouj, who moved to Spain from Nador in northern Morocco when he was just 16.

Several Muslims left flowers at an impromptu shrine on Las Ramblas.

"In the end Muslims are the main victims, for the deaths as well as for the social pressure," said Xantal Genovart, vice president of the Association of Catalan Muslim women.

Catalonia is home to about a quarter of Spain's 1.9 million Muslims - and it is also a centre of Islamic militancy, according to experts.

Even so, Mounir Benjelloun, president of the Spanish Federation of Islamic Religious Entities, remains optimistic.

"I think that Spain will know how to handle this and will separate the culprits from the rest so a xenophobic message does not prosper," he said.

The initial signs are encouraging. A small group of anti-Islam protesters who turned up at Las Ramblas on Friday were forced to leave after passers-by began to shout "No racists" at them.

straitstimes.com/world/europe/muslims-fear-anti-islam-backlash-in-tolerant-barcelona

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Pakistan

Afghanistan, Pakistan will boost efforts to curb terrorism

August 20, 2017

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan and Afghanistan on Sa­turday reiterated the desire to coordinate counterterrorism operations, said the Foreign Office (FO).

According to the FO, a meeting was held between Foreign Secretary Tehmina Janjua and visiting Afghan Deputy Foreign Minister Nasir Andesha to discuss counterterrorism efforts.

Mr Andesha is visiting Pakistan to participate in Afghan Independence Day celebrations at the embassy and to attend the foundation stone-laying ceremony of the new Afghan embassy complex in the Diplomatic Enclave in Islamabad.

Afghan Ambassador Dr Omar Zakhilwal said the embassy complex, once completed, would be the largest Afghan embassy building in the world.

“Recognising that terrorism was a common enemy of the two countries and its people, the foreign secretary and the Afghan deputy foreign minister agreed to deepen cooperation and coordination in counterterrorism efforts with a view to eliminating the menace,” the FO said.

Bilateral engagement between Pakistan and Afghanistan has intensified over the past few weeks giving an impression of improvement in relations that have remained frozen over terrorism concerns and border disputes.

Earlier this week, Ms Janjua visited Kabul for political consultations. On the occasion, both sides agreed that terrorism was a common challenge and there was a need to streng­then institutional cooperation between the two countries to eliminate the problem.

dawn.com/news/1352758/afghanistan-pakistan-will-boost-efforts-to-curb-terrorism

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Two more TTP militants killed in Korangi ‘encounter’

Imtiaz Ali

August 20, 2017

KARACHI: Two suspected militants of the banned Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) allegedly involved in the recent killing of police officers and members of the Ismaili and Bohra communities were killed in an ‘encounter’ in Korangi in the early hours of Saturday, officials said.

A time bomb that the militants had set at their hideout was safely defused and police seized a large number of detonators, two pistols, explosive substance and pamphlets from their possession.

As the targeted operation in Noorani Basti of Korangi was being conducted by a joint team of Counter-Terrorism Department, Pakistan Rangers and intelligence agencies, the militants hurled hand grenades at the personnel and opened fire on them. In the ensuing encounter, the two militants were killed.

The militants, identified as Irfanullah alias Hammad alias Sheena and Nasir alias Khalid, belonged to the Mufti Shakir-led group of the TTP, said CTD DIG Amir Farooqi while speaking at a press conference at his office.

CTD SSP (Intelligence) Omar Shahid said the militants were involved in the recent targeted killing of three policemen in Korangi’s Awami Colony besides a traffic police official, Mohammed Khan, on Abul Hasan Ispahani Road.

An MP-5 rifle snatched from the wounded traffic policeman, Kamran, was also seized from the custody of the deceased following the encounter in Korangi, said the officer in charge of the CTD’s Transnational Terrorism Intelli­gence Group, Raja Umar Khattab. The officer said the TTP had displayed the snatched rifle on their social media site.

Some accomplices of the militants had been recently killed in an ‘encounter’ by the CTD.

The CTD officer told Dawn that Irfanullah’s relatives, too, had been involved in militancy, as a brother of his had been killed in a drone strike and another allegedly involved in an attack on a former minister of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa belonging to the Awami National Party had been gunned down in an ‘encounter’. The family shifted to Karachi from Peshawar in 2013.

Mr Khattab said one of the TTP militants, Nasir, had been directly sent from Afghanistan by Qari Saifullah, a Bannu resident who has been providing logistic and other support to the militants there.

A forensic test showed that the two pistols seized from the custody of the deceased had been used in the targeted killing of a textile mill’s general manager belonging to the Ismaili community in 2014, the CTD officer said.

The weapons had also been used in the targeted killing of two Bohra community members in North Nazimabad the same year.

One of their accomplices, Hashim, was in jail for killing Bohra community members, the CTD official said, adding that he was arrested in 2014.

Mr Khattab said their third accomplice had escaped during a raid conducted by the CTD in Shah Faisal Colony around two weeks ago. He was later killed by security forces near the Chaman border when he attempted to flee to Afghanistan.

“With the killing of these militants, one group that was active in the targeted killing of policemen has been eliminated,” said DIG Farooqi.

In reply to a question, DIG Farooqi said there were at least four to five militant groups operating in the city.

Meanwhile, IGP Sindh A.D. Khowaja announced Rs5 million reward for the police team.

dawn.com/news/1352605/two-more-ttp-militants-killed-in-korangi-encounter

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Trump to ‘cut all military aid to Pakistan’

20-Aug-17

WASHINGTON: US President Donald Trump is mulling over cutting off all military aid to Pakistan because 'Washington is being ripped off by Islamabad', claims a Foreign Policy report.

As Trump reviewed an array of options for a strategy on Afghanistan with his top national security aides at Camp David, he made no decision on whether he would commit more troops to America's longest war. Committing more troops would also significantly affect the United State's relationship with Pakistan.

The FP report quoted a White House official as saying that "the president thinks we're being ripped off by Pakistan. The president wants to cut off all military aid to Pakistan. That's part of the strategy". The official further said that the Department of Defence views Pakistan and the United State's relationship as 'troubled'.

During the discussions at Camp David, there were differences of opinion over taking a harder line on Pakistan for failing to close Afghan Taliban sanctuaries and arrest Afghan extremist leaders. US officials say the Afghan Taliban are supported by elements of Pakistan's military and top intelligence agency, a charge Islamabad denies.

Pentagon has already frozen support to Islamabad under the coalition support fund, which provides Pakistan with payments to finance counter-terrorism operations. Mattis claims he could not find evidence that Pakistan had taken enough action against the Haqqani network.

Amid relentless criticism of Pakistan from the Trump administration, Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa has told a top US military commander that Pakistan "doesn't need aid, all it wants is acknowledgement" of its efforts in the fight against terrorism. "More than financial or material assistance, we seek acknowledgement of our decades-long contributions towards regional peace and stability, understanding of our challenges and most importantly the sacrifices the Pakistani nation and its security forces have rendered in [the] fight against terrorism and militancy," he told CENTCOM chief General Joseph L Votel during a meeting at the GHQ on Friday.

Pakistan argues that it has done a great deal to help the US in tracking down terrorists and points out that it has suffered hundreds of deaths in militant attacks in response to its crackdowns.

dailytimes.com.pk/pakistan/20-Aug-17/trump-to-cut-all-military-aid-to-pakistan

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NA-120 by-polls:Nawaz stops Hamza Shehbaz from taking part in campaign

August 20, 2017

KARACHI: Founder Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) Nawaz Sharif has refrained his nephew Hamza Shahbaz to participate in the electioneering of NA-120 by-elections, citing sources Samaa reported.

According to sources, the disqualified premier had summoned his brother Shahbaz Sharif, nephew Hamza Shehbaz and close aide Pervez Malik at his residence of Jati Umra.

In the meeting, he handed the responsibilities of the campaigning to Pervez Malik, who suggested that Hamza Shahbaz can perform the duties better than him. However, the PML-N founder rejected his suggestion.

Sources also said that Hamza Shahbaz said in the meeting that he was a worker and would like to work for the party in that capacity.

However, representative of the ousted prime minister said that the PML-N leader will be in Lahore and will fully take part in the election campaign.

The NA-120 Lahore seat fell vacant after Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was disqualified by the Supreme Court of Pakistan in a landmark judgment in the Panama Papers case.

The polling will be held on September 17.

samaa.tv/pakistan/2017/08/nawaz-stops-hamza-shahbaz-taking-part-campaign/

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NAB summons ex-PM Nawaz Sharif, family members for Avenfield flats reference

Inamullah Khattak | Idrees Sheikh

August 20, 2017

The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) has summoned members of the Sharif family to appear before it on Sunday at 11am, a NAB spokesperson told DawnNews.

Former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, his sons Hassan and Hussain Nawaz his daughter, Maryam Nawaz and her husband Captain Safdar have been summoned to appear before investigators in Lahore in a reference related to the Sharif's Avenfield properties, said NAB spokesperson Asim Ali Nawazish.

It appears unlikely, however, that the members of the Sharif family will appear before the investigating team today, Nawazish added.

Notifications had been issued to all five members of the Sharif family on Friday to appear before investigators today. The former premier, Maryam and Capt Safdar had accepted their notifications. However, Hassan and Hussain were out of town and therefore, did not receive the notifications issued to them.

The NAB team, under the supervision of director general Saleem Shahzad, proceeded with its enquiry into the Avenfiled flats on Sunday morning despite the absence of the Sharif family members at the Lahore offices.

It ha not yet been confirmed whether the Sharifs will appear before investigators today.

Last week, NAB had summoned Nawaz and his two sons to appear before it in the Al-Azizia Steel Mills case.

However, the former prime minister and both his sons decided not to appear before the NAB team till Nawaz's petition seeking a review of the Supreme Court’s verdict that disqualified him from office is decided.

Nawaz has also moved a separate application in the SC with a request to suspend the final verdict in the Panama Papers case as long as the review petition is pending.

On July 28, a five judge larger bench of the SC while disqualifying Nawaz under Article 62(1)( f) of the Constitution had asked NAB to file four references in the Rawalpindi accountability court within six weeks on the basis of the material collected and referred to by the Joint Investi­gation Team which probed allegations of money laundering against the Sharif family as well as that already available with the Federal Investi­gation Agency and NAB.

According to the court order, NAB has to file a reference against Sharif; his children and son-in-law in connection to four upscale flats in London.

Another reference against Sharif and his sons about Al-Azizia Steel Mills and Hill Metal Establishment and one regarding 16 other companies were also ordered. The companies are Flagship Investments, Hartstone Pro­perties, Que Holdings, Quint Eaton Place 2, Quint Saloane, Quaint, Flagship Securities, Quint Gloucester Place, Quint Paddington, Flagship Develop­ments, Alanna Ser­vices (BVI), Lankin SA (BVI), Chadron, Ansbacher, Coomber and Capital FZE (Dubai).

The fourth reference has to be filed against Finance Minister Ishaq Dar for possessing assets and funds beyond his known sources of income.

Independent commentators have said that NAB's probe into large-scale corruption allegations against the Sharif family could set the standard for accountability in Pakis­tan for all times to come.

The cases are an acid test for the ousted prime minister who is fighting his case both in courts as well as before what he des­cribed as people’s jury.

dawn.com/news/1352763/nab-summons-ex-pm-nawaz-sharif-family-members-for-avenfield-flats-reference

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US Centcom chief stresses sustained ties with Pakistan

Baqir Sajjad Syed | Zulfiqar Ali

August 20, 2017

ISLAMABAD/PESHAWAR: Senior US commander Gen Joseph Votel on Saturday departed after his two-day visit to the country with “increased understanding of the counterterrorism and counter-insurgency efforts of the Pakistani government”.

According to a statement issued by the United States embassy, the general, who was also taken to North Waziristan that was once home to some of the most violent terrorist groups, including the Haqqani network, emphasised sustained cooperation with Pakistan and welcomed Islamabad’s commitment to bilateral ties.

“Military cooperation, and even stronger cooperation with Pakistan, is very important, and we deeply appreciate the hospitality and willingness to continue an honest and open relationship,” the commander of the US Central Command (Centcom) said in the statement issued at the conclusion of the visit.

He, nevertheless, underlined the need for ensuring that “Pakistani soil is not used to plan or conduct terrorist attacks against its neighbours”. This has been a consistent message from visiting US officials. Acting Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs and acting Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan Alice Wells, who visited Pakistan earlier this month, too had left behind the same note.

Gen Votel’s third trip to Pakistan as Centcom commander took place as the US government continued a review of its South Asia policy amid speculation of a looming rupture in ties because of a strong opinion in the White House that Pakistan had not been an honest partner in the fight against terrorism in Afghanistan.

However, the US defence department believes that Pakistan’s support is crucial for operations in Afghanistan and any eventual peace deal with the Taliban. Therefore, the department has been counselling against a split even though Defence Secretary James Mattis had refused to certify that Pakistani actions had denied safe haven to Taliban and the Haqqani network. Reimbursements for Pakistani actions in support of US military operations under the ‘Coalition Support Fund’ were cut because of the defence secretary’s refusal issue the certification.

Gen Votel tried to assuage the concerns in Islamabad about a complete breakdown in relationship by noting: “We are extraordinarily pleased to continue these enduring relationships.”

The embassy said the commander had in his meetings “focused on the need to further strengthen US and Pakistani military-to-military relations… to ensure greater regional security and stability”.

Chief of the Army Staff Gen Qamar Bajwa had a day earlier, in his meeting with Gen Votel, renewed the commitment to cooperate with US-led coalition troops in Afghanistan and Afghan security forces for “improved security environment in Pakistan-Afghanistan border region”. Gen Bajwa had at the same time stressed acknowledgment of Pakistan’s sacrifices in the fight against terrorism.

A similar resolve was expressed by Prime Minister Shahid Khaqqan Abbasi when Gen Votel called on him.

PM Abbasi agreed on cooperation for dealing with “regional concerns” and underscored that the ongoing policy review in the US should recognise Pakistan’s efforts in fighting terrorism and its commitment to peace and security in Afghanistan.

In North Waziristan, the US delegation headed by Gen Votel briefed about the army’s operations in the area and the Pakistan-Afghanistan border security mechanism through enhanced surveillance measures.

It was also briefed about progress in socio-economic development, including return of displaced people to their native areas.

The US delegation appreciated efforts and sacrifices of the army and local tribes for re-establishing peace and order in the area and realised the importance of the bilateral border security coordination.

Later, the delegation visited the Army Public School in Miramshah and interacted with the students.

Upon arrival in the tribal region, the delegation was received by Peshawar Corps Commander Lt Gen Nazir Ahmad Butt, while Chief of General Staff Lt Gen Bilal Akbar accompanied it.

dawn.com/news/1352743/us-centcom-chief-stresses-sustained-ties-with-pakistan

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Elected govt is ‘actual establishment’: Abbasi

20-Aug-17

QUETTA: Rejecting reports of any friction between institutions, Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi on Saturday said that the elected government was the actual establishment. He was talking to reporters after his arrival in Quetta on an official visit.

"There is no clash between any institution and the government. Such reports only exist in the media," he said. To a question about Pakistan People's Party Co-Chairman Asif Ali Zardari's recent statement, the PM said that political parties should continue the dialogue process. "Zardari will be included in the dialogue. It is just a politically-charged statement as the general elections are being held next year," he said. To another question about references filed against Nawaz Sharif by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB), Abbasi said that it was the right of institutions to file references. "Let them file references, we will respond to them," he said, adding that everyone had the right to defend his position. "The people of Pakistan will give their verdict after June 4, 2018," he said. Abbasi said that his government would continue the projects which were initiated in Balochistan by Nawaz Sharif. "The government will complete the gas project started in Balochistan at the cost of Rs 15 billion. Water issues in Balochistan will also be resolved for the welfare of the people," he said. "Our objective is to resolve the problems of the masses. We will continue to do that," he said. He said that the government was taking effective steps to root out terrorism from Balochistan and the rest of the country. "Balochistan is among our top priorities. It will become the richest province," he said.

dailytimes.com.pk/balochistan/20-Aug-17/elected-govt-is-actual-establishment-abbasi

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US army delegation visits North Waziristan 

20-Aug-17

NORTH WAZIRISTAN: A delegation of the US armed forces, headed by CENTCOM Commander General Joseph Votel, visited North Waziristan Agency (NWA) on Saturday. The delegation was briefed about Pakistan Army's operations in NWA and the mechanism of Pak-Afghan border security achieved through enhanced surveillance measures, military's media, Inter-Services Public Relations, said. According to details, Peshawar Corps Commander Lieutenant General Nazir Ahmad Butt received the delegation upon its arrival. The delegation was also briefed on the ongoing socio-economic development in the agency, including the return of temporarily displaced persons (TDPs). Members of the delegation lauded the efforts of local tribes and army officers in re-establishing peace in the region. Later, the delegation also visited Army Public School Miranshah and interacted with the students.

dailytimes.com.pk/pakistan/20-Aug-17/us-army-delegation-visits-north-waziristan

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JUI-F leader shot dead in DI Khan

August 20, 2017

PESHAWAR -  A local leader of Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) was shot dead by unidentified assailants in Dera Ismail Khan on Saturday morning, police said.

The unidentified armed assailants targeted Maulana Attaullah Shah when he was on his way to home after offering Fajr prayers at Ayesha Siddiqa Mosque.

He succumbed to bullet wounds on the way to a nearby hospital for treatment. The assailants managed to flee from the crime scene.

Attaullah Shah, a resident of Panyala area in Dera Ismail Khan, was a prayer leader at a local mosque. He originally belonged to Panyala but was residing in DI Khan for the past several years.

The deceased was a prominent leader of the JUI-F from DI Khan and also a close aide of the JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman.

No one claimed responsibility for the incident. However, the local police have launched a search operation against the criminals, the police added.

Following the incident, police reached the scene and started an investigation after collecting evidence from the spot.

The police have registered a murder case against the unidentified assailants; however, no arrest was made till the filing of this report.

This was the third attack on the JUI-F leaders in less than a month as earlier on July 27, Jamia Muhammadia head Maulana Haq Nawaz Haqqani, was targeted and killed in Charsadda.

Similarly, on May 12 last, at least 28 people were killed and over 40 others injured when a bomb went off near the convoy of the JUI-F leader and the Deputy Chairman Senate, Abdul Ghafoor Haideri, as he left a local seminary in Balochistan.

nation.com.pk/national/20-Aug-2017/jui-f-leader-shot-dead-in-di-khan

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South Asia

10 to die for attempted murder of PM Hasina

August 20, 2017

Nine people were also sentenced to 20 years imprisonment in an explosive case filed over the incident

A Dhaka court has sentenced 10 people to death in a case filed over the attempted murder of Awami League President and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in 2000.

Judge Momtaz Begum of Dhaka Speedy Trial Tribunal 2 gave the verdict on Sunday.

The death row convicts are Wasim Akhter, Md Yousuf, Md Rashed Driver, Sheikh Forid, Hafez Tarequl Alam Bodor,

Maulana Abu Bakkar, Mufti Shofiqur Rahman, Maulana Yahya, Mufti Abdul Hye and Mannan Abdul Rouf.

The court said the convicted can be executed either by hanging or by firing squad as per the order of the High Court.

The court also sentenced one to life imprisonment and three others to 14 years jail in the attempted murder case.

They were fined him Tk10,000 each, in default, they will have to serve an extra year in prison.

The court acquitted 10 others from the charge.

The tribunal sentenced nine people to 20 years imprisonment and fined them Tk20,000 each in an explosive case filed over the incident.

Harkat ul-Jihad al-Islami Bangladesh chief Mufti Abdul Hannan was also an accused in the case. Hannan was hanged on April 12 over the grenade attack on former British envoy Anwar Choudhury in Sylhet.

A total of 89 out of 64 prosecution witnesses testified before the court in the case.

The case dockets say police on July 20, 2000, seized 76kg of explosives planted near Kotalipara Sheikh Lutfar Rahman Ideal Government College where Sheikh Hasina, who was prime minister then, was scheduled to address a rally two days later.

In this connection, Kotalipara police filed a case under the Explosive Substances Act, and later pressed charges against 16 people on April 8, 2001.

A supplementary charge sheet was filed on June 29, 2009 when the Awami League came to power again, accusing nine more people in the case.

A Gopalganj court recorded the depositions of 43 witnesses out of a total of 89, but the case was transferred to the speedy trial tribunal in Dhaka in September 2010 for expedited trial.

Following the development, the speedy tribunal started recording depositions again.

dhakatribune.com/bangladesh/court/2017/08/20/10-to-die-for-attempted-murder-of-pm-hasina/

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23 Taliban killed, wounded in air and ground operations in 13 provinces: MoD

Aug 20 2017

At least twenty three Taliban insurgents were killed or wounded during the counter-terrorism operations conducted in thirteen provinces in the past twenty four hours, the Ministry of Defense (MoD) said Saturday.

According to a statement by MoD, the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF) conducted 17 planned operations, 22 special operations, 1 night raid, and 10 airstrikes in the past twenty four hours.

The statement further added that the Taliban insurgents suffered the most casualties in Taywara district of Ghor province where 10 militants were killed and 5 others were wounded.

The Afghan security forces also kill 4 insurgents in Jani Khel district of Paktia province while 3 militants were killed and another one was wounded in Nawa district of Helmand during the clearance operations, the Ministry of Defense added.

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

The Afghan security forces have stepped up counter-terrorism and clearance operations across the country amid a rampant Taliban-led insurgency across the country during the recent months.

The Taliban insurgents have intensified attacks in various key provinces after they announced their spring offensive earlier this year.

khaama.com/23-taliban-killed-wounded-in-air-and-ground-operations-in-13-provinces-mod-03394

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High security as Afghanistan marks independence day

August 20, 2017

KABUL - Afghan security forces were on high alert Saturday as the war-weary country, reeling from a number of high-profile deadly attacks, marked its independence day with muted celebrations.

There was an increased police presence in the capital Kabul where President Ashraf Ghani hosted a private ceremony for Afghan dignitaries.

"All of our police units are on the highest state of alert and they are placed everywhere across the city," Kabul police spokesman Abdul Basir Mujahid told AFP.

"We have increased the number of police checkpoints in and around the diplomatic quarters (too)," he added, amid fears that the Taliban would mark the anniversary with a large-scale attack.

August 19 commemorates the signing of the Treaty of Rawalpindi in 1919, which granted Afghanistan full independence from Britain, although the country was never part of the British empire, after three bloody wars.

While Afghanistan's red, black and green tricolour flag adorned many Kabul streets, the day was largely going unobserved by ordinary Afghans, who are frustrated by the deteriorating security situation and the lack of progress by the US-led international coalition forces.

As in recent years there are no public ceremonies planned in the capital.

The city has been on edge since a massive truck bomb ripped through its diplomatic quarter during morning rush hour on May 31, killing about 150 and wounding around 400 people, mostly civilians, in an unclaimed attack.

Taliban insurgents are currently at the peak of their summer fighting season and have launched several deadly assaults around the country in recent weeks.

Ghani welcomed dozens of Afghan officials for a morning ceremony at the presidential palace and laid a wreath at the independence minaret inside the defence ministry compound.

"A very happy Independence Day to everyone in AFG," Ghani said on Twitter. "This day was earned with lots of sacrifices. We must pay homage & celebrate this legacy."

While some Afghans changed their Facebook profile pictures to the Afghan flag or to Amanullah Khan, the king who secured Afghanistan's independence, others lamented that the fight against the Taliban, now in its 16th year, meant there was little to celebrate.

"What independence day are we talking about when we are still at war with terrorism and don't seem to be winning against it?" one user wrote on the social media site.

The day got under way as US President Donald Trump wrapped up a meeting of his national security team at Camp David on Friday as he tries to forge a new strategy for Afghanistan.

Trump must decide if he wants to continue on the current course, which relies on a much reduced US-led NATO force to help Afghan partners push back the Taliban, or try a new approach, such as sending more troops or even withdrawing altogether.

General John Nicholson, the top US commander in Afghanistan, offered his congratulations on "98 years of independence".

"We look forward to many years of continued friendship and cooperation," he said in a statement.

Afghan pop star Aryana Sayeed, who has been likened to Kim Kardashian for her skin-tight clothing and selfies, has said she will stage a concert despite threats from conservatives who oppose women performing in public.

"The concert will one hundred percent be held on Saturday evening," she told Tolo News late Friday.

nation.com.pk/international/20-Aug-2017/high-security-as-afghanistan-marks-independence-day

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Bangladesh sends back Rohingya boat carrying injured

Aug. 19, 2017

DHAKA: Bangladesh coastguards Saturday turned back a boat carrying 31 Rohingya Muslim refugees escaping renewed army activity in their neighboring Myanmar homeland, an official said.

The push-back came after at least 500 Rohingya fled their villages in Myanmar's Rakhine state, crossing the border to take shelter in refugee camps and hills in Bangladesh's southeastern Cox's Bazar district.

A coastguard patrol boat found the boat on the Naf river, which acts as a border between Bangladesh and Myanmar, as it tried to enter Cox's Bazar early in the morning.

The refugees included women and children who said they were victims of violence, coast guard spokesman Sheikh Fakhr Uddin said quoting the escapees.

"We found two injured among 18 men, along with nine women and four children. But we had to send them back," Uddin told AFP.

The latest influx follows a months-long bloody military crackdown on the mainly Muslim minority in Myanmar that led tens of thousands to flee across the border. The United Nations has said the violence may amount to ethnic cleansing.

"We have beefed up our patrol on the Naf as (Myanmar) army is gathering in the bordering villages, which may prompt them (Rohingya) to try coming to Bangladesh," Uddin said.

Dhaka estimates that nearly 400,000 Rohingya refugees are living in squalid refugee camps and makeshift settlements in Cox's Bazar, which borders Rakhine.

Their numbers swelled last October when more than 70,000 Rohingya villagers began arriving, bringing stories of systematic rape, murder and arson at the hands of Myanmar soldiers.

Last week, the UN special rapporteur Yanghee Lee voiced alarm at reports that a Myanmar army battalion had flown into Rakhine to help local authorities boost security in the region.

Buddhist-majority Myanmar has long faced criticism for its treatment of the more than one million Rohingya who live in Rakhine, who are seen as interlopers from Bangladesh, denied citizenship and access to basic rights.

But they are also increasingly unwelcome in Muslim-majority Bangladesh, where police often blame them for crimes such as drug trafficking.

Dhaka has floated the idea of relocating tens of thousands of Rohingya refugees to a remote, flood-prone island off its coast, despite opposition from rights groups.

dailystar.com.lb/News/World/2017/Aug-19/416491-bangladesh-sends-back-rohingya-boat-carrying-injured.ashx

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Treaty with South Africa soon to extradite Maulana Tajuddin

August 20, 2017

Syed Zainul Abedin

Few former DGFI officials helped Maulana Tajuddin to flee the country

Foreign Ministry official has confirmed that the extradition treaty will be signed soon with South Africa to extradite Maulana Tajuddin, a key accused in August 21 grenade attack case.

South Africa prepared the draft of the extradition treaty and Bangladesh had sent it back to South African government with positive review paving the way to extradite Tajuddin.

“We are now just waiting to sign the treaty officially,” Foreign Ministry official, wishing anonymity, told the Dhaka Tribune on Saturday.

He said: “We have sent back the draft treaty through our mission in South Africa. Now rest of the matter depends on the South Africa government’s response.”

Maulana Tajuddin was allegedly one of the suppliers of grenades, which were used in the attack on the Awami League rally in 2004. He fled with a fake passport to Pakistan after the attack.

According to prosecution witness of the case, few former Directorate General of Forces Intelligence (DGFI) officials helped Maulana Tajuddin to flee the country.

The witness former DGFI official Major Syed Monirul Islam said, Tajuddin’s name was changed to Badal in the fake passport.

Chief of the banned Harkat-ul-Jihad (Huji) Mufti Abdul Hannan was arrested by RAB on August 2005 and during an interrogation in the Taskforce for Interrogation (TFI) cell he confessed to planning the attack on the Awami League rally.

He admitted that the grenades were supplied by Maulana Tajuddin, the younger brother of the then deputy minister Abdus Salam Pintu.

However the process of extradition of Tajuddin still may face complication as South African law does not support death penalty.

dhakatribune.com/bangladesh/foreign-affairs/2017/08/20/treaty-south-africa-soon-extradite-maulana-tajuddin/

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Trump confirms decisions made on Afghanistan in meeting with military leaders

Aug 20 2017

The US President Donald Trump has confirmed that decisions have been made on Afghanistan during the meeting with the Generals and military leaders on Friday.

“Important day spent at Camp David with our very talented Generals and military leaders. Many decisions made, including on Afghanistan,” Trump said in a Twitter post.

No further details have been given regarding the decisions made on Afghanistan with the confirmation by President Trump coming hours after reports emerged suggesting that the meeting concluded with any results.

In the meantime, the Foreign Policy in its report has said that one of the reasons that draws Trump into this land-locked country is “abundant natural resources”.

On the other hand, certain media outlets in Pakistan have reported that the new policy will not have a good news for Pakistan.

According to The Express, the United States could deploy additional forces to Afghanistan under the new policy and could stop the military aid to Pakistan.

This comes as a US official last month that the United States will withhold $50 million remaining in military reimbursements to Pakistan for fiscal year 2016 because Defense Secretary Jim Mattis believes that Islamabad has not done enough to blunt the Islamist militant Haqqani network.

The United States Department of States released its latest reports regarding terrorism for 2016 last month, providing an overall report regarding the terrorism related upheavals during the year.

“Afghanistan, in particular, continued to experience aggressive and coordinated attacks by the Afghan Taliban, including the affiliated Haqqani Network (HQN) and other insurgent and terrorist groups,” the report stated.

The Department of State also added that a number of these attacks were planned and launched from safe havens in Pakistan.

khaama.com/trump-confirms-decisions-made-on-afghanistan-in-meeting-with-military-leaders-03390

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Imran Khan opposes fencing of Durand Line with Afghanistan

Aug 19 201

A prominent Pakistani politician has opposed with the fencing of Durand Line with Afghanistan as the issue remains one of the main factors behind the deteriorating ties between Kabul and Islamabad.

In an interview with the Voice of America (VOA), the chief of Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf, called on ‘open borders’ and ‘free trade’ policy between the two neighboring nations.

“The long term relationship between Pakistan and Afghanistan is open borders,” Khan told VOA.

He said “Rather than building fences, I think it should have open, free trade, it should be like a European Union type of relationship. That’s our long term future and this would be of enormous benefit to Afghanistan and Pakistan.”

This comes as the Pakistani military informed regarding the resumption of fencing work along the Durand Line nearly two months ago, saying the step has been taken with an aim to improve security.

The Inter Services Public Relations, media wing of the Pakistani military, in a statement said “Measures to improve the security situation along the Pak-Afghan border continue and phase fencing of Pak-Afghan border has commenced.”

The statement further added the work will be done in two phases, with the first phase to focus on high infiltration prone border areas in Bajaur, Mohmand and Khyber agencies where fencing has started.

khaama.com/imran-khan-opposes-fencing-of-durand-line-with-afghanistan-03392

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Arab World

The Syrian regime targets Jobar district with poison gas

19 August 2017

The cease-fire agreement between the Russians and the Al-Rahman Legion was born dead, after the regime's forces escalated their shelling of the neighborhood of Al-Jobar and Ein-Terma during the past hours.

Although the truce was supposed to be implemented at 9:00 pm on Friday night between the regime forces and the Syrian opposition with a Russian guarantee, the region witnessed an escalation by the Assad forces.

This tool place after the implementation of the cease-fire agreement, where the activists monitored a number of surface-to-surface missiles in the area between Jobar and Ein Terma, in addition to the fall of five artillery shells, one of which contains chlorine gas poison in the neighborhood of Jobar, resulting in the suffocation of four civilians.

This escalation was accompanied by intermittent clashes between the Al-Rahman Legion on the one hand and the regime forces and their loyal supporters on the other, on the axis of Al-Manashir in the Jobar district.

The developments came after the Russian Defense Ministry announced earlier that it had reached a truce agreement with the faction of Al-Rahman Legion in Ghouta Damascus, which stipulates a cease-fire in the district of Jobar in Damascus and East Ghouta.

The agreement also instructs the lifting of the siege on the eastern regions of Ghouta on the basis of preserving the benefits of the political process.

english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2017/08/19/The-Syrian-regime-targets-Jobar-district-with-poison-gas.html

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Lebanese army, Hezbollah launch separate military assaults against ISIS

19 August 2017

The Lebanese army launched an offensive against an ISIS enclave on the northeast border with Syria, a Lebanese security source said on Saturday, as Hezbollah and the Syrian army announced an assault from the Syrian side of the border.

The Lebanese army was targeting ISIS positions near the town of Ras Baalbek with rockets, artillery and helicopters, the source said. The area is the last part of the Lebanese-Syrian frontier under insurgent control. "We started advancing at 5 a.m. (0200 GMT)," the Lebanese source said.

The operation by the Syrian army and Hezbollah, an Iran-backed Lebanese group, was targeting ISIS militants in the western Qalamoun region of Syria, the Hezbollah-run al-Manar television station reported, an area across the frontier from Ras Baalbek.

Last month, Hezbollah forced Nusra Front militants and Syrian rebels to leave nearby border strongholds in a joint operation with the Syrian army.

The Lebanese army, a major recipient of US military aid, did not take part in the July operation, but it has been gearing up to assault the ISIS pocket in the same mountainous region. A military source said around 500 ISIS fighters were holed up in the enclave.

Lebanese President Michel Aoun was following the army operation, called "Jroud Dawn". "Jroud" refers to the barren, mountainous border area between Lebanon and Syria.

Lebanese security sources have previously said the army intends to fight ISIS in Lebanese territory on its own, in response to suggestions Hezbollah or the Syrian army may help it.

english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2017/08/19/Hezbollah-Syrian-army-launch-Lebanese-border-assault-on-ISIS.html

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Saudi-Iraqi negotiations to form a new alliance

19 August 2017

Serious negotiations are under way between Iraq and Saudi Arabia to form a new alliance that would give Riyadh a leading role in rebuilding Iraq's war-torn cities.

The Guardian newspaper stated in a report that Saudi Arabia is in constant talks with the Iraqi parties in an effort to return Iraq to the Arab fold away from the influence of Iran.

The meetings between senior officials of the two sides over the past six months focused on assisting Iraq and limiting the interference of Iran, whose influence in Iraqi affairs has increased remarkably since the overthrow of Saddam Hussein in 2003.

The Guardian said that Iraq and Saudi Arabia moved past the differences of the past and exchanged an official visit, which was echoed in the visit of Prime Minister Haider Abadi and the signing of agreements of partnership, investments and reconstructions with Saudi Arabia.

The official visits of the cleric, Moqtada al-Sadr, to Riyadh, and then to the UAE, added a new dimension to the relations between Iraq and the Gulf states.

english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2017/08/19/Saudi-Iraqi-negotiations-to-form-a-new-alliance.html

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One dead in clashes with Islamists in Palestinian camp in Lebanon

August 20, 2017

At least one person was killed and several others were injured on Saturday in renewed clashes between Palestinian security forces and Sunni Islamists in Ain el-Hilweh Palestinian refugee camp in Lebanon, local sources said.

Saturday's clashes broke out after fighters belonging to the mainstream Palestinian group Fateh, led by the West Bank-based Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, fired at a district where the leader of an Islamist group was believed to be taking cover.

Scores of families were forces to flee the area.

The fighting began on Thursday after the leader of an armed faction sympathetic to the Islamist Badr group fired at the headquarters of a joint security force comprising the main Palestinian factions.

In April seven people were killed in clashes in the camp between the Badr group and the joint security force after it deployed there.

Lebanon's Palestinian camps, which date back to the 1948 war between Israel and its Arab neighbors, mainly fall outside the jurisdiction of Lebanese security services. There are some 450,000 Palestinian refugees living in 12 camps in Lebanon.

nation.com.pk/international/19-Aug-2017/one-dead-in-clashes-with-islamists-in-palestinian-camp-in-lebanon

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Syrian Army Scores More Victories against ISIL in Heights at Border with Lebanon

Aug 19, 2017

The army men and Hezbollah fighters, backed up by artillery units' heavy fires, continued their advances and imposed control over Wadi Mas'oud, Wadi Abu Khazir heights in al-Jarajeer.

In the meantime, the Syrian pro-government forces tool control of Sho'aba Sarour, Qabr al-Asrali and Khirbet al-Eileh regions in Qareh heights after hours of heavy fighting with ISIL.

The army and Hezbollah further advanced against ISIL-held regions in al-Arqoub region and Rabiyeh (hill) al-Nahash in Qareh heights.

The Syrian government forces, meantime, advanced toward the strategic Halmat Qareh region at the border with Lebanon. 

Relevant reports said on Friday that the Syrian Army units engaged in fierce clashes with ISIL and drove them out of the Sho'aba Yunes, Harf Wadi al-Dab and Sho'aba al-Mahbas al-Owla heights, Harf al-Hashishat region and the village of al-Hashishat.

The army and Hezbollah fighters tightened noose on ISIL in Qalamoun heights after their fresh advances in the region.

In the meantime, the Arabic-language Elam al-Harbi reported that the resistance fighters, deployed in al-Jarajeer and Qar'a heights in the Western Qalamoun attacked ISIL's positions and took control of Sho'aba Yunes, Harf Wadi al-Dab and Sho'aba al-Mahbas al-Owla.

Elam al-Harbi also said that the resistance combatants drove ISIL out of Harf al-Hashishat region and the village of al-Hashishat.

The army and Hezbollah took full control of Faliteh heights in Western Qalamoun on July 23.

en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13960528000608

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ISIL's Large Arms Depot in Deir Ezzur Destroyed in Russian Airstrikes

Aug 19, 2017

The warplanes bombed heavily ISIL's positions in Civil Defense region North of al-Mufti Grand Mosque in Deir Ezzur city, destroying a large weapons and munitions depot of the terrorists.

The fighter jets, later, targeted ISIL's defense lines in Jonayd division base, Tal (hill) Aloush, Tal Milad in the Southwestern outskirts of Deir Ezzur city.

The Russian army aircraft further struck al-Rabi'at region South of Panorama region, and the two regions of al-Maqaber (cemetery) and al-Khazanat Southwest of Tamin brigade base.

Local sources confirmed on Friday that a senior commander of ISIL was killed in Syrian Air raids in Deir Ezzur's outskirts and two more were killed in popular uprising in the Southeastern territories of the province.

The sources said that the fighter jets bombed ISIL's positions in the neighborhoods of al-Roshdiyeh and al-Huweiqa near Regiment 137 base, al-Mawared region, in al-Tayem region, Panorama base and the village of al-Masrab, killing a large number of terrorists, including a notorious commander nom de guerre Abu al-Abbas.

The sources further said that a group of villagers in the village of al-Hara near the town of Albu Kamal in Southeastern Deir Ezzur stormed a meeting of ISIL's commanders along the road connecting Albu Kamal to the border town of Qa'em in Iraq, killing Abu Omar al-Mesri and Abu Tariq al-Mesri and wounding several more.

In the meantime, the army engaged in fierce clashes with ISIL in al-Roshdiyeh, al-Maqaber (cemetery) region and in the region near Deir Ezzur airbase.

en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13960528000514

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Spanish newspaper: Qatar financed extremism in Catalonia

19 August 2017

A Spanish newspaper revealed that Qatar financed centers of Islamic worship and mosques in Spain, particularly in the province of Catalonia, where the terrorist attacks happened.

The newspaper said in its report that Doha supports the places of worship there through wealthy businessmen, which lead to the growth of the phenomenon of extremism in Spain.

The Barcelona attack, which was adopted by ISIS organization, recalls to mind earlier discussions related to the funding of mosques frequented by extremists in Europe and its relation to terrorist attacks that claimed innocent lives.

A report published in the Spanish newspaper "La Razón” exposed the funds coming from abroad, especially from Doha to centers of worship in Spain in Catalonia, which became, according to the newspaper, a stronghold of extremism and terrorism.

Islamic centers and mosques have been under Spanish security control for years since it started receiving funding from Qatar through wealthy businessmen, the report said.

The data indicate that seven percent of Muslims in Spain, estimated at two and a half million people are based in Catalonia.

Spain has more than 1,260 Islamic worship centers, of which 256 are in Catalonia alone, where the highest numbers of immigrants live.

english.alarabiya.net/en/News/gulf/2017/08/19/Spanish-newspaper-Qatar-financed-extremism-in-Catalonia.html

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Car bomb kills two in Syrian city of Latakia

19 August 2017

Activists say a car bomb has killed two people in the Syrian coastal city of Latakia, a stronghold of President Bashar Assad’s government.

The pro-government Latakia News Network Facebook page says the car bomb was detonated at a checkpoint Saturday. The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights also reported the attack.

The government has sought to present the country as slowly returning to normalcy after six years of war. It held a premier trade fair in the capital, Damascus, last week for the first time since 2011.

But fighting is still underway in several parts of the country, and the attack in Latakia, which has been firmly under government control throughout the conflict, highlighted the lingering instability.

english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2017/08/19/Car-bomb-kills-2-in-Syrian-city-of-Latakia.html

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Africa

Tunisia’s Grand Mufti ‘to appear before the judiciary on corruption charges’

20 August 2017

Controversy is brewing in Tunisia after several media outlets began reporting that the judiciary is mulling charging the country’s Grand Mufti Sheikh Othman Battikh with corruption charges.

Local media outlets reported on Saturday that the corruption charges are related to misuse of funds by Battikh during the 2015 Hajj season when the mufti was the minister of religious affairs at the time.

The latest allegations seem to widen the circle of controversy over the religious establishments in Tunisia after Habib Essid’s government at time filed a complaint with the country’s attorney general against the grand mufti.

Tunisian media reported that the complaint was accompanied by documents related to allegations that Battikh abused his power in the selection of guides who accompany the pilgrims at the expense of the Tunisian state and specifically charges of favoritism in the selection of some of them.

On January 5, 2016, an enquiry was opened at the Tribunal of First Instance of Tunis in relation to financial overspends which the minister was said to have carried out at the time of his last pilgrimage to Mecca a year before. He was replaced by Mohamed Khalil the next day as the minister of religious affairs. A week later, he was re-appointed as grand mufti by President Beji Caid Essebsi.

It is not the first time Battikh has courted controversy. Last year, he contradicted Tunisia’s president on calls for equality between men and women regarding inheritance laws in the country. The Islamic scholar would then go on to reverse his position when Essebsi made his proposal official last week.

english.alarabiya.net/en/News/north-africa/2017/08/20/Tunisia-s-Grand-Mufti-to-appear-before-the-judiciary-on-corruption-charges-.html

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Kenya opposition files case against presidential election

Aug 19, 2017

The Kenyan opposition has filed a petition with the country’s Supreme Court, dismissing as “fundamentally flawed” the results of last week’s election won by President Uhuru Kenyatta, his longtime rival.

In a statement released on Friday, the lawyers representing the National Super Alliance (NASA) coalition outlined alleged irregularities in the August 8 presidential vote and demanded new polls.

“The entire process of tallying recording, transmitting, verifying and confirmation of results was so fundamentally flawed that you cannot talk of any meaningful results,” NASA said in the statement.

“This petition asks the court and by extension the people of Kenya to nullify the entire exercise because it is fatally compromised, in order to pave the way for fresh, legitimate elections,” it added.

The opposition dismissed the election process as “so badly conducted and marred with such glaring irregularities that it does not matter who won, or who was declared the winner.”

Kenyatta was declared the winner of last week’s election with 1.4 million votes and a 54-percent support, but opposition leader Raila Odinga said the results were false, without presenting evidence.

“It is a petition by millions of Kenyans who would like to see justice done in our country and we hope that through this petition we can finally transform the electoral process in our country,” Odinga said.

The opposition leader, who lost his third bid for presidency in the recent election, said pursuing this claims through legal channels would not mean an end to street protests by his supporters, which he said should peacefully continue.

Odinga has claimed that incumbent Kenyatta’s victory in the recent election was a result of hacking and manipulation of the electronic vote counting system.

The claim has sparked massive protests in two major slums in the capital, Nairobi, and in the west of Kenya, where Odinga enjoys huge support.

Dozens have reportedly been killed in the violence while the international community has called on Odinga to calm his supporters.

The high court’s ruling will be in two weeks, after it hears the opposition’s petition and legal responses from Kenyatta’s Jubilee Party and country’s electoral commission.

presstv.ir/Detail/2017/08/19/532220/Kenya-opposition-rejects-presidential-vote

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Nigeria leader to fly home after UK treatment

19 August 2017

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari will return home on Saturday after spending more than 100 days in London receiving treatment for an undisclosed ailment, his office said.

A presidency statement said Buhari, who "returns to the country later today after receiving medical attention in London," would make a national broadcast on Monday morning.

"President Buhari is expected to speak to Nigerians in a broadcast by 7 a.m on Monday," it said, adding that the ailing leader expressed his appreciation to Nigerians for their prayer and support for his recovery.

Buhari, a retired general who headed a military regime in the 1980s, has been dogged by speculation about his health since June last year when he first went to London for treatment of what his aides said was a persistent ear infection.

He then spent nearly two months in London in January and February and said on his return in early March that he had "never been so ill".

In July, members of the ruling party and the opposition went to see him in London and even took pictures in an attempt to douse public anxiety.

The health of Nigeria's leaders has been a sensitive issue since the 2010 death in office of president Umaru Musa Yar'Adua after months of treatment abroad.

worldbulletin.net/africa/193113/nigeria-leader-to-fly-home-after-uk-treatment

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North America

Petition urges Trump to classify anti-fascist movement as terrorism

Aug 20, 2017

A petition calling on US President Donald Trump’s administration to formally classify the anti-fascist (Antifa) movement in the country as a terrorist organization has been launched on the White House website.

As of Saturday, the petition, which began on Thursday, had collected more than 13,000 on-line signatures. It must reach the benchmark of 100,000 signatures within 30 days to compel the White House to review and potentially act on the initiative.

A similar petition was also launched in January to classify the Black Lives Matter movement as a terrorist organization but it failed to succeed since it only garnered less than 1,000 signature in a month.

The petition argued that the anti-fascists, referred to leftist or anti-racist activists in the US, should be recognized as terrorists because of their “violent actions in multiple cities and their influence in the killings of multiple police officers throughout the United States.”

It added that "terrorism is defined as the use of violence and intimidation in pursuit of political aims,” and called on the US military to be “consistent in its actions.”

“Just as they rightfully declared ISIL a terror group, they must declare Antifa a terror group – on the grounds of principle, integrity, morality, and safety,” the petition further read.

Antifa – also referred to as the extreme left – has been cited in US media reports for its violent rivalry with white supremacists and other far-right groups across the country.

Violent clashes erupted last Saturday between participants in a Unite the Right rally and anti-fascist  counter protesters in Charlottesville, Virginia, when a right-wing activist plowed his vehicle through a crowd of anti-racist demonstrators, killing one person and injuring at least 19 others.

Trump came under harsh criticism after the Charlottesville events for his failure to condemn the white supremacists, instead placing the blame on “all sides.”

The development came as hundreds of right-wing protesters and thousands of anti-racist counter-demonstrators converged on a park in downtown Boston on Saturday for rival rallies.

Prior to the rally, the Boston Antifa branch had urged its members and supporters to “confront fascism” at the rally.

presstv.ir/Detail/2017/08/20/532275/US-White-House-petition-antifascist-movement-Antifa-Donald-Trump-white-supremacists

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Canadian ISIS member identified by Interpol as ‘potential suicide bomber’

August 19, 2017

A Canadian man is on an Interpol list that identifies Islamic State fighters believed to have been trained for suicide attacks in Europe, Global News has learned.

Former Toronto resident Tabirul Hasib, 25, is among 173 ISIS fighters Interpol has named as potential suicide bombers, based on data uncovered by U.S. intelligence.

The list was distributed amid concerns that, as ISIS collapses in Syria and Iraq, it will attempt to send waves of trained operatives to the West to conduct attacks.

Terrorism researcher Prof. Amarnath Amarasingam, who found the Canadian on the list, said Interpol disseminated it because “they are scared of many of these guys sneaking into various countries to launch attacks.”

Amarasingam, an expert on foreign affairs and a senior research fellow at the Institute for Strategic Dialogue, said most of those named were Iraqis, who would “not really be on the radar of European law enforcement.” But he added that the list also includes several Westerners, including the Bangladeshi-Canadian.

Hasib was part of a group of friends of Bangladeshi and Indian origin who were recruited in Toronto by André Poulin, a Muslim convert originally from Timmins, Ont. Poulin, who called himself “Abu Muslim,” died in Syria in August 2013.

The following year, Hasib and at least two other recruits, including one named Malik Abdul, flew to Turkey. They crossed into Syria at Tal Abyad on July 14, 2014, according to leaked ISIS entry records.

Hasib’s ISIS entry form noted he was single, wanted to be a fighter and had previously traveled to Bangladesh and Lebanon. His “Shariah level” was rated as “student.”

The Interpol list also said Hasib joined ISIS in July, 2014 and that he used the nom de guerre “Abu Bakr Bangladeshi.” It named his mother, and said he lived at the “Battalion Guest Houses.”

Amarasingam said the group of friends had joined ISIS with the help of former Mississauga resident Mohammed Ali, an ISIS member in Syria.

“As far as I know, two of these Bangladeshis have already been killed in Syria. Tabirul seems to be still alive, but I can’t be sure,” Amarasingam said.

The Guardian, which first reported on the May 27 list, said it named fighters that “may have been trained to build and position improvised explosive devices in order to cause serious deaths and injuries. It is believed that they can travel internationally, to participate in terrorist activities.”

A note attached to the list said those on it “have been identified through materials found in the hiding places of ISIL,” and added that “it emerges that those subjects may have manifested willingness to commit a suicidal attack or martyrdom to support Islam,” The Guardian reported.

Last April, the brother of one of the fighters who joined ISIS with Hasib was arrested. Kadir Abdul was picked up by Turkish authorities in the city of Adana, not far from the Syrian border.

He was deported to Toronto and arrested by the RCMP on terrorism allegations. Rather than laying criminal charges against him, the RCMP instead sought a one-year terrorism peace bond against the former Toronto bus shelter cleaner. The peace bond has now expired.

During the investigation into Kadir, police discovered that he was the legal owner of an AR-15 “assault type rifle.” Asked by a reporter why he owned a restricted firearm, he declined to answer.

globalnews.ca/news/3683084/canadian-isis-fighter-interpol/

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Trump hints decision on strategy for 17-year-old US war in Afghanistan

Aug 19, 2017

US President Donald Trump has hinted that his administration has come to a decision on a course of action regarding the country’s 17-year old war in Afghanistan, but offered no details following a meeting with his top national security advisers at the Camp David presidential retreat near Washington.

“Important day spent at Camp David with our very talented Generals and military leaders. Many decisions made, including on Afghanistan,” Trump said on Twitter Saturday after meeting with more than a dozen aides, including Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, to discuss his administration's strategy in the increasingly restive region, including Pakistan and India.

The White House said in a Friday statement that Trump "was briefed extensively by his national security team on a new strategy to protect America's interests in South Asia."

It further added, "The President is studying and considering his options and will make an announcement to the American people, to our allies and partners, and to the world at the appropriate time."

Mattis was tasked by an executive order issued by Trump back in February to devise an Afghan strategy that was expected to be delivered in mid-July, but the timeline has reportedly been thrown off by the president’s demand for revisions.

"I want to find out why we've been there for 17 years," Trump insisted at the White House on July 18 referring to Afghanistan.

While the Pentagon chief confirmed last week that US military options in Afghanistan ranged from a full withdrawal of forces to a troop surge of several thousands, he is reportedly also considering a plan offered by founder of the notorious Blackwater security firm, Erik Prince, to create an "American viceroy" for Afghanistan and to privatize much of the war effort through the use of armed mercenaries.

The Prince plan was presented to Mattis last month by chief White House strategist Steven Bannon, who was sacked Friday by Trump.

Mattis told reporters on Thursday that "we will move this toward a decision" on Afghanistan at Camp David , adding, "We are coming very close to a decision and I anticipate it in the very near future."

According to US press reports, the US defense chief had been leaning toward the request made in February by commander of US and allied NATO forces in Afghanistan, Army Gen. John Nicholson, for an additional 3,000-5,000 troops to bolster the 8,400 already on the ground in the so-called “counter-terrorism operations and the train, advise and assist role with Afghan security forces.”

Mattis further emphasized that he was looking to expand the use of air power and focus on a more regional approach to counter Taliban militants through more cooperation with Pakistan.

Other top US officials attending the Camp David meeting included White House National Security Adviser McMaster, Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Joseph Dunford, Vice President Mike Pence, CIA Director Mike Pompeo, and United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley.

Also attending were retired Marine general and White House Chief of Staff John Kelly, Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Air Force Gen. Paul Selva.

The development came as the Republican chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Sen. John McCain stated in frustration last week that he was preparing his own Afghan strategy for presentation to the US Congress in the absence of an administration plan.

McCain further charged that the US was "adrift in Afghanistan,” adding that “we are losing in Afghanistan, and time is of the essence if we intend to turn the tide."

presstv.ir/Detail/2017/08/19/532272/US-President-Donald-Trump-Afghanistan-war-strategy-Camp-David-Jim-Mattis-national-security-team

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US defense chief Mattis to visit Jordan, Turkey, Ukraine to discuss military ties

Aug 20, 2017

US Defense Secretary James Mattis is set to embark on a foreign tour this week that will take him to Jordan, Turkey and Ukraine, becoming the first Pentagon chief to visit Kiev in a decade.

Mattis is due to meet with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko and Defense Minister Stepan Poltorak on Ukraine’s independence day next Thursday, as Washington is considering plans to supply Ukraine with lethal weapons amid Kiev’s persisting conflict with pro-Russian forces in east of the country, Military.com reported citing a Pentagon statement on Friday.

"During these engagements, the secretary will reassure our Ukrainian partners that the US remains firmly committed to the goal of restoring Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity, as well as strengthening the strategic defense partnership between our two countries," added the statement.

The US says it has supplied the Ukrainian military with non-lethal equipment, including night-vision goggles, uniforms and surveillance equipment such as Raven RQ-11B Analog mini-drones.

US authorities, however, worry that with the seemingly endless breakouts of clashes between pro-independence fighters and Ukraine's national guard forces, the conflict would prolong without expanded military support to Kiev.

Prior to his visit to Ukraine, Mattis will also travel to Turkey and Jordan later this week, to discuss with his counterparts the ongoing air campaign purportedly against the remainder of the foreign-backed Daesh (ISIL) terrorists in Iraq and Syria.

According to the Pentagon, the US military chief will begin his visit to Jordan on Monday by meeting King Abdullah II, supreme commander, and Lt. Gen. Mahmoud Freihat, the chairman of Jordan's joint chiefs of staff. This will be his first visit to the Arab nation as defense secretary.

Mattis will then travel to Turkey to meet with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, as well as the country’s  Minister of National Defense Nurettin Canikli and Foregin Minister Mevlut Çavusoğlu.

This is while Washington ties with Ankara, a key regional ally, have cooled in recent months, over persisting tensions with Kurdish militia operating in Syria close to Turkey's borders.

The US continues to back the Kurds and began supplying small arms to its militants in May. Turkey, however, considers the Kurdish YPG, or the People's Protection Units, a terrorist organization linked to the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which has carried out terrorist attacks in southeastern Turkey.

"Secretary Mattis will emphasize the steadfast commitment of the United States to Turkey as a NATO ally and strategic partner, seek to collaborate on efforts to advance regional stability, and look for ways to help Turkey address its legitimate security concerns -- including the fight against the PKK," said the Pentagon statement.

In July, Ankara agreed to purchase four Russian-made S-400 mobile anti-air missile batteries for $2.5 billion over the next few years.

presstv.ir/Detail/2017/08/20/532285/US-Secretary-of-Defense-James-Mattis-Ukraine-Jordan-Turkey-lethal-weapons

 

URL: http://newageislam.com/islamic-world-news/new-age-islam-news-bureau/israel-says-will-never-support-pakistan-on-kashmir/d/112259

 

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