New Age Islam
Tue Nov 24 2020, 06:09 PM

Islamic World News ( 8 March 2017, NewAgeIslam.Com)

Israeli Parliament Approves Bill to Quieten Mosques, Fueling Arab Anger

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photo: 'We're Not Going Away'; Hecklers Take Aim At Israel Ambassador Nominee David Friedman

 

Brave Worshippers Thwart Public Beheading In Mosque As Kidnapper Takes Man Hostage

Daesh and Taliban Are Not Opposed To Each Other, Says Hanif Atmar, Afghan NSA

A Terrorist Is a Terrorist Whether Bearded or Not: Maulana Fazlur Rehman

US Inviting More Than 60 Countries for Strategy Session on Countering Islamic State

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Mideast

Israeli Parliament Approves Bill to Quieten Mosques, Fueling Arab Anger

Muslim's Trial for 'Glorifying Terrorism' Moved Because It Falls During Ramadan

Turkey Plans to Construct New Town in Syria's Al-Bab

'Russia and Israel are partners in war on Islamic terror'

Ayatollah Nouri Hamedani: "Quranic teachings must be promoted worldwide"

Foreign Ministry rejects UN Iran human rights report

Eight Teams To Compete For Football Gold In Baku 2017 Islamic Solidarity Games

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Europe

Brave Worshippers Thwart Public Beheading In Mosque As Kidnapper Takes Man Hostage

French Mayor Faces €1,800 Fine for Inciting Hate against Muslim Students

Islamic State Sharpens Focus on Germany

This Muslim Human Rights Activist Says He Couldn’t Travel To The UK Because Of Visa Issues

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South Asia

Daesh and Taliban Are Not Opposed To Each Other, Says Hanif Atmar, Afghan NSA

Pakistani And Iranian Militants among 64 Killed In Clearance Operations: Afghanistan MoD

20 Taliban militants killed in foreign forces airstrike in Kandahar

Islamic State suicide team assaults military hospital in Kabul

Afghanistan writes to UN Security Council amid growing artillery shelling

The Unique Threat of the Islamic State in Afghanistan

ISIS release pictures of terrorists involved in Kabul military hospital attack

India to spend $450 million in housing projects in Afghanistan

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Pakistan

A Terrorist Is a Terrorist Whether Bearded or Not: Maulana Fazlur Rehman

Pakistan Threatens To Block Social Media over 'Blasphemy'

Pakistan rejects Indian concerns over terrorists' movement on LoC

Over 22 million Pak children out of schools: Report

NAP implementation needs to be expedited, says military leadership

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North America

US Inviting More Than 60 Countries for Strategy Session on Countering Islamic State

The First State Lawsuit against Trump’s New Muslim Ban Just Dropped

Hawaii first state to challenge new Trump travel ban

UN condemns terrorist attack on Kabul hospital

Indiana-Based Muslim group criticizes revised travel ban order

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India

Lucknow Encounter: ATS Performed Admirably, Let's Not Overplay Terrorist's Islamic State Connection

Bhopal-Ujjain Passenger Train Explosion: Arms, Passports Found In House, 7th Arrest Made

No evidence so two Pakistani school kids arrested for Uri strike are set free

Hyderabad IS trackers traced jihadis to Lucknow lair

J&K DG warns terrorists to desist from attacking the families of police personnel

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Arab World

Suspected Coalition Raids Kill 23 Civilians in North Syria

Twin Suicide Bombing Kills 26 at a Wedding North of Baghdad

Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi has fled Mosul: US official

Iraq: US Forces Evacuate ISIL Commanders from Western Mosul

Saudi-led coalition used cluster bombs in Yemen: Amnesty

Warplanes bomb east of Damascus after truce declared there: Monitor

Envoy: Iraqi Forces to Liberate Entire Mosul Soon

Tens of Terrorists Killed, Injured in Syrian Armed Forces' Attacks in Hama, Idlib

Syrian Army Deploys in More Kurdish Villages in Northeastern Aleppo

Fort Bragg to deploy more than 2,500 troops in anti-Islamic State effort

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Africa

Ritualists storm Islamic school, slaughter three students in Niger State

Ahmadiyya Muslim Jamaat Holds Annual Convention for Elderly

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Southeast Asia

Rohingya refugees return to Myanmar

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau

URL: http://newageislam.com/islamic-world-news/new-age-islam-news-bureau/israeli-parliament-approves-bill-to-quieten-mosques,-fueling-arab-anger/d/110345

 

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Israeli Parliament Approves Bill To Quieten Mosques, Fueling Arab Anger

3/9/17

'We're Not Going Away'; Hecklers Take Aim At Israel Ambassador Nominee David Friedman

Israeli lawmakers invoked Arab anger late Wednesday after approving an initial reading of a bill that will limit calls to prayer from places of worship, viewed as a targeted law against Muslim communities.

The Israeli parliament, or Knesset, voted 55 to 48 in favor of the bill, an amended version of the bill that the cabinet of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu approved in November.

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It seeks to ban calls to prayer between 11pm and 7am. The bill also includes churches and synagogues, but Israeli Arabs say it predominantly targets their communities. The traditional Muslim call to prayer, made from the Muezzin, or loudspeaker, of a mosque, typically sounds before sunrise.

The bill, which still needs to pass three further readings before becoming law, will apply to communities in East Jerusalem, a territory the Palestinians have earmarked as the capital of any future state, as well as Israel proper. It will impose a 5,000 to 10,000 shekel ($1,350-2,700) fine for houses of worship that violate the ban.

The result prompted scenes of anger within the chamber of Israeli democracy, as well as regional condemnation. Jordan, Israel’s Arab neighbor, criticized the bill as a piece of “discriminatory” legislation that “violates Israel’s obligations under international human rights,” such as the right to freedom of religion.

Ahmad Tibi, an Israeli Arab lawmaker who was removed from the debate ahead of the vote during a critical speech to the parliament, told Newsweek Thursday: “This is a racist law aimed exclusively against Muslims. Behind this law is Netanyahu himself. There is no need for this proposal, it is a source of friction and anger. Muslims will play the muezzin (loudspeaker) of mosques regardless of this law.”

Other Arab lawmakers expressed their frustration at a bill they say is an attack on their religion and culture by one of the most right-wing governments in Israeli history. Ayman Odeh, the leader of the Arab Joint List, Israel’s third-largest party, ripped up a copy of the bill’s legislation during the parliamentary debate. Security threw him out of the debate ahead of the vote.

Zouheir Bahloul, lawmaker for the opposition Zionist Union faction, called the bill a declaration of “war against the country’s Arab minority.” As tensions boiled over, far-right Israeli politician Robert Ilatov of the nationalist Yisrael Beiteinu party told Joint List lawmaker Osama Saadi to “go back to Saudi Arabia!”

Netanyahu remained defiant in his support of the bill Wednesday. He said: “All Israeli citizens—Jews, Muslims and Christians alike—have a right to sleep in peace. We will move forward with the legislation, as is the practice in many nations around the world.”

The Al-Aqsa Mosque, which Muslims consider to be the third-holiest site in Islam, will not be party to the ban because of the sensitives around the site, which is controlled by a Jordanian-Palestinian-led Islamic Waqf (trust). Israel refers to the site as the Temple Mount and considers it to be the holiest site in Judaism.

europe.newsweek.com/israeli-parliament-approves-bill-quieten-mosques-fueling-arab-anger-565561?rm=eu

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Muslim's trial for 'glorifying terrorism' moved because it falls during Ramadan

Mar 9, 2017

The man was accused of downloading terrorist-related material

Taha Hussain, 21, is said to have sent WhatsApp files were entitled: "Paris Outrage: A Muslim Perspective".

Another file entitled "Charlie Hebdo to Jagrity" was sent on the encrypted Telegram messaging service.

Hussain denied ten counts of disseminating terrorist publications when he appeared today via videolink at Kingston Crown Court.

Hussain denied ten counts of disseminating terrorist publications

I only have to think about myself not eating or drinking for 19 hours

Judge Dodgson

A trial had originally been scheduled automatically for May 30, but the fixture was moved to a later date at the Old Bailey by Judge Paul Dodgson.

Judge Dodgson said: "I only have to think about myself not eating or drinking for 19 hours."

He added: "This is not to be taken as a precedent for all trials involving devout Muslims.

A trial had been scheduled for May 30

"The date was fixed administratively but no consideration had been made for Ramadan.

"I would not be confident for someone to stand trial if I looked up and I thought he's not fit to be here."

Hussain has remained in custody ahead of his trial

He told Hussain 'Your trial is going to take place at the Old Bailey either on June 26 or perhaps July 10.'

Hussain, of Langtree Avenue, Slough, Berks, was remanded in custody ahead of his trial at the Central Criminal Court.

express.co.uk/news/uk/777064/muslim-trial-glorifying-terrorism-moved-Ramadan

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Brave Worshippers Thwart Public Beheading In Mosque As Kidnapper Takes Man Hostage

Thu, Mar 9, 2017

A HOSTAGE-TAKER armed with a Stanley knife marched a Muslim into a mosque to carry out a brutal beheading – but was tackled by brave worshippers.

Haidar Hami, 22, frog-marched his victim through Hull Mosque and Islamic Centre and forced his head down to demand: "Are you going to pray now?"

The victim was already bleeding from cuts to his cheeks and face.

But using just the power of speech, Ebrima Touray, 45, and his fellow worshippers managed to distract the attacker and snatch the serrated knife to prevent a sickening attack.

Mr Touray, 45, said: "I was at the mosque praying when I saw this guy walk in with his shoes on.

"Shoes are not allowed to be worn in any mosque and one of my friends kept telling him, 'No shoes, no shoes'.

"When I looked back he hadn't left but instead closed the door and that's when I saw the knife in his hand.

"I saw the guy with him had a slice on his face, so I asked him, 'Who did that to you? Did he do this to you?'

"He nodded, so I told [Hamid] to put the knife away. At that point he said, 'This is my knife', and put it in his pocket.

"My friend at the mosque was speaking Arabic [to Hamid] so I told him to keep his concentration and keep talking to him. That's when I managed to grab the knife off him.

"He ran off so I called the police and I saw a guy pull up in a car shouting his name, and I told him he wasn't taking him anywhere.

"He said he was from his hostel, but I wasn't having that. He hadn't protected him when he left with this guy with a knife, so I wasn't going to let him protect him now."

Mr Touray, a security guard for St Stephen's Shopping Centre in Hull said his 14 years' as a security guard helped him defuse the situation.

He said: "I knew I had to help when I saw what was happening.

"If I didn't he could have easily gone out and hurt someone in the street.

"My job helped me in the situation, because I knew what to do. I don't think I would have gone as near him if not.

"But I think everyone needs to help out in some little bit when these things happen.

"I have been visiting this mosque for years and this is the first time anything like this has happened.

"This is a community we all have to live in."

When Hamid was interviewed by police following the incident, he said he was going to kill the man with one of the knives and, when asked why, said: "To stop him doing bad things to me."

He admitted kidnap, assault occasioning actual bodily harm and threatening with an offensive weapon during the incident on September 9 last year.

Judge Peter Kelson QC commended Mr Touray and fellow worshipper, Taha Mohammed, for their "extremely remarkable courage".

Hamid, from Hull, was sentenced to 10 years in jail on Tuesday.

Imam Hafiz Salik said: "We have never had anything like it and we have been there for more than 30 years."

express.co.uk/news/uk/777053/Mosque-attempted-beheading-hostage-Hull

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Daesh and Taliban are not opposed to each other, says Hanif Atmar, Afghan NSA

Indrani Bagchi | Updated: Mar 9, 2017

In an exclusive chat with TOI, Hanif Atmar, Afghan NSA, says Pakistan should understand that their proxy terror group, Afghan Taliban, is providing sanctuary to its enemy group, TTP, just like Daesh and Taliban are not really opposed to each other.

To what would you attribute the increased instability in Afghanistan in 2017?

It's no longer about a lone wolf or one specific terrorist organisation. It's about the evil axis of three actors, violent extremism, criminal economics and state sponsorship of terrorists. These three have come together to challenge the legitimate state of Afghanistan and turn it into a sanctuary for international terrorism, and to expand the criminalized economy with narcotics, use its proceeds to finance terrorism.

Is there something you are missing which fighting the Taliban? Something you can do differently?

Definitely. First of all, the violent extremist organisations that we are confronted by are not just Taliban. There are four groups — first, Taliban and Haqqanis; second Pakistani groups including LeT, JeM, LeJ, TTP and others; third are regional groups like ETIM and IMU, and fourth are international terrorists like Daesh and Al Qaeda.

These four groups have a symbiotic relationship with the Afghan terrorists. They need the Afghans, the Afghans need them. Second, they have symbiotic relationships with the two other relationships I described earlier, the criminal economy and state sponsorship.

What should be your response?

Our response cannot be peace and reconciliation. We can make peace and reconciliation with the Afghan groups based on certain principles, but cannot reconcile with the other three groups. They are not fighting there for anything related to Afghanistan. They want to have a sanctuary there to fight others. LeT would like a sanctuary to fight India, ETIM to fight China, and so on. We told our Pakistani interlocutors that Taliban will allow sanctuary to the TTP, your enemy. Therefore, blind support to the Taliban will be creating a frankenstein again.

Therefore our regional and global partners will have to look at a global strategy to pursue these different elements pursing different objectives.

Russia, China, Pakistan want to do things differently, engage Taliban to fight Daesh. What did you say at the meeting in February?

We objected to the first meeting in December. We said, as a friend you cannot have a meeting about us, but without us. We were present at the next meeting in February. But we also said we wanted US, India and Iran, because these are our partners, especially US and India are critical partners to advance our counter-terrorism and peace and reconciliation agendas.

We said to them, if you want to make peace with the Taliban, that's one thing, but you cannot make peace between the government and Taliban, especially with the government not being there.

Third we said, your peace with the Taliban will never be seen as legitimate by the Afghan people or the governement. This idea that Taliban and Daesh are opposed to each other is wrong. No Daesh has come from Syria or Iraq, it's actually the morphing and mutating of Taliban, TTP and IMU into Daesh. They are the same people, but there is a lot of re-branding here.

People who are now saying that Daesh is the enemy of Taliban and Taliban will fight Daesh are wrong. We give them specific examples — there was a local dispute between Taliban and Daesh in Nangarhar, but Daesh and Taliban worked closely with each other in northeastern Afghanistan to fight us.

In addition, using one terrorist group against another is not an ethically correct way forward.

We did ask our friends, if you have such influence with Taliban, use it for peace, bring them to the table, which will be the most effective strategy against Daesh. If you remove the Afghan Taliban from Daesh and other foreign terrorist groups, including Pakistani groups, then they will not have sanctuary in Afghanistan. If they are trying to get sanctuary, it's only because of the Taliban. The best way to defeat Daesh and other groups is first either defeat the Taliban militarily or if they prefer to have a principled peace, accept Afghan constitution, cut ties with international terror groups and renounce violence then that would be the best way forward.

Rather than getting Taliban to fight Daesh, bring Taliban to the negotiating table, you will never have Daesh.

You mentioned ETIM. Has their activities increased in Afghanistan?

Yes. For all the above reasons. They work closely with the Taliban, they are in Badakshan, under protection of the Taliban. They are also in Zabul, where they come in from Pakistan.

We tell the Chinese, you have our full commitment in fighting ETIM wherever they are in Afghanistan. But we also have to appreciate where they come from and how to actually separate the Taliban from them. They agree with us and they say lets look at peace and reconciliation as a first strategy.

What has been the response of the new Trump administration?

Their commitment to Afghanistan is strategic and long term and not driven by a few operational or tactical issues. We have a strong convergence of interests. The most important interest we share with US and India is to defeat terrorism, which is a common enemy of all of us. The US again strongly expressed commitment to work with Afghanistan under the NATO framework. They are not looking at a drawdown or withdrawal.

What more can India do in the security sector in Afghanistan?

Rather than going into details of our defence cooperation I would say the most important objective here is the strengthening of the ANSF. This is a goal we've set for all of our strategic partners. We have a shared interest — the Afghans have demonstrated their will and capability to fight. The enemy we are fighting is three times bigger than the enemy we were fighting in 2009-14. Then we had 150,000 international soldiers. There are much less now, but we are battling them successfully. The Afghans are ready to fight. Not just for themselves, but also to protect the world from the menace of terrorism.

They need tools and resources. Let me clarify — we are not asking for troops from India or any other country apart from the NATO mission. Asking for a wide range of strengthening measures, which I think we will keep away from public conversation.

timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/pakistan/daesh-and-taliban-are-not-opposed-to-each-other-says-hanif-atmar-afghan-nsa/articleshow/57557300.cms

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A Terrorist Is A Terrorist Whether Bearded Or Not: Maulana Fazlur Rehman

March 9th, 2017

SUKKUR: Chief of the Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl Maulana Fazlur Rehman has said that a terrorist is a terrorist whether he is bearded or beardless, wears trousers and shirt or a shalwar kameez, or whether he is a parliamentarian or a common man; if one is a terrorist, he should be given severe punishment.

He said there should be no military courts in a democratic country.

“We have supported military courts only because of the prevailing situation in the country,” he said while addressing an ulema convention held at Manzil Gah Mosque in Sukkur on Wednesday.

He said civil courts had many weaknesses which should be rectified and all institutions were required to perform their duties and provide justice to the common man.

He said despite the fact that Pakistan had become a big military power and there was relative peace in the country as compared to the past, the recent wave of terrorism had created fear among the people.

Restoration and maintenance of peace was the responsibility of the state, he added.

He also criticised PTI chief Imran Khan for his unflattering remarks about foreign cricketers who played in the Pakistan Super League final at Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore recently.

Amongst those who also spoke at the convention included JUI-F Sindh general secretary Maulana Rashid Mehmood Soomro, Abdul Qayoom Halejvi, Siraj Ahmed Amroti and others.

Action against Pakhtuns condemned

JUI-F MNA Maulana Ameer Zaman has condemned the arrest of members of the Pakhtun community by police on what he described as ‘flimsy’ grounds and added that the Sindh government should desist from linking every bearded man with terrorism.

He was speaking to journalists in new Hyderabad city on Wednesday at the residence of a party supporter.

JUI-F leaders Maulana Taj Mohammed Nahiyoon, Azam Jehangiri and others were also present.

Mr Zaman claimed that the Pakhtuns were JUI-F supporters and they were being harassed by police on the ground that they were ‘illegal immigrants’.

“Pakistan has disintegrated because of such environment of hatred. If people of one community are arrested or imprisoned it would lead to hatred, which would not be beneficial for Pakistan,” he added.

“Every man having a beard or wearing a turban is not a terrorist.”

The JUI-F condemned terrorism in all its manifestations. Terrorism could not be linked with Islam, madressahs and ulema, he added.

He said police were arresting underage boys who did not possess national identity cards as they were not adults.

“Such actions are a conspiracy against army. It would sabotage the Zarb-i-Azb and Raddul Fasaad operations.”

The army made major gains in the fight against terrorism, but the police were wasting these gains through their ‘biased’ actions against the Pakhtuns. The police should be refrained from declaring every Pakhtun a terrorist, he added.

He warned that if such acts continued the JUI-F would launch agitation and the government would not be able to face it.

He said that the JUI-F was holding its centenary celebrations in Nowshera which would be attended by the Imam of the grand mosque of Makkah on April 7-9.

dawn.com/news/1319274/a-terrorist-is-a-terrorist-whether-bearded-or-not-fazl

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US inviting more than 60 countries for strategy session on countering Islamic State

March 9, 2017

WASHINGTON — The Trump administration has invited more than 60 nations and international organizations to Washington later this month for a strategy session on how to counter the Islamic State after a widely expected U.S.-backed military assault on the extremists' home base.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson will lead a two-day gathering of a global coalition focused on fighting the extremist group militarily and starving it of money, weapons and fighters.

The session is an important signal that the new administration intends to maintain leadership of a sprawling diplomatic effort begun by President Barack Obama in 2014, despite Trump's scathing assessment of Obama's approach to the Islamic State during the presidential campaign.

U.S. officials described plans for the March 22-23 session in interviews with The Washington Post ahead of a planned announcement Thursday at the State Department. The meeting will be the largest since the inaugural session, and comes as the Islamic State appears to be losing ground militarily.

"It tells the coalition partners the U.S. remains incredibly committed to working with them to defeat" the group now loosely based in Raqqa, Syria, a senior U.S. official said.

"The first thing the new administration will do is reinforce the importance of the coalition," which includes both military partners and nations that support diplomatic and humanitarian efforts through donations of money, expertise and other resources, the official said.

The Trump administration had said it would retain Obama's top official in charge of what was formerly called the Global Coalition to Counter ISIL, but had not spelled out its goals for the group of 68 countries and international organizations.

The Trump administration has substituted its preferred acronym, ISIS, in the global coalition's name but left the organization's structure and focus intact. The revised State Department web page for the coalition also stripped out mention of Obama and former secretary of state John F. Kerry, but kept language stressing that "there is a role for every country to play in degrading and defeating" the militants.

"It's consistent with what the president talked about in terms of burden-sharing and asking other countries to carry their load," said one U.S. official who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe the U.S. goals for the meeting ahead of its announcement. "They need to hear that from the new secretary of state," and know that "this was not on autopilot. He decided to do this."

The coalition's future is a question that involves the new politics in Washington and the eroding military power of the Islamic State. Diplomats from some of the countries involved have questioned whether the coalition would be disbanded if the extremist group is routed from Raqaa.

One European diplomat said the expected military assault would leave no clear physical battlefield to confront the extremist group, despite the continued humanitarian and political problems in Iraq and Syria.

But U.S. officials said that Tillerson will stress the importance of keeping the coalition intact and focused on what is likely to be a diffuse but potent extremist threat.

"We expect them to disperse," but not disappear, one official said.

Another official said that although the upcoming meeting is not a fundraising conference, the coalition aims to raise about $1.5 billion for humanitarian and other efforts in the near term.

Trump campaigned on a pledge to expand what he called a weak and indecisive fight against the militants in Syria, Iraq and beyond, but his strategy thus far is not markedly different from Obama's.

A revised Pentagon plan for Raqqa calls for significant U.S. military participation, including increased Special Operations forces, attack helicopters and artillery, according to U.S. officials. It also would send arms to the main Syrian Kurdish and Arab fighting force on the ground.

Although the Americans would not be directly involved in ground combat, the proposal would allow them to work closer to the front lines.

Russia is a not a member of the diplomatic coalition, although it is a dominant military presence in Syria in support of President Bashar Assad's forces.

Trump has raised the prospect of the United States and Russia collaborating to fight Islamic State militants in Syria, and he and Russian President Vladimir Putin discussed possibilities in a phone call in January, according to the White House. But the issue is complicated by political fallout from Russia's alleged interference in the 2016 presidential election, and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis has said that discussion of any broad cooperation is premature.

Another senior U.S. official said this week that cooperation seemed more likely if a Russian-guaranteed cease-fire proved durable.

"There was a lot of this talk a few weeks ago," the official said. "Now it is in abeyance."

When hopes for the cease-fire were high, Tillerson had asked for an economic breakdown of Syria - how the oil, water and agriculture resources were divided in the country. The idea was that the Trump administration might be able to work with the Russians to carve out autonomous territories that could survive with little or no connection to Damascus, that official said.

"You could have regions that would be able to sort of exist, and maybe they would not be in kinetic opposition to the regime. Instead there would be a live-and-let-live scenario."

But as the Russians have been unable to deliver on the cease-fire, such hopes have given way to more practical realities that the Obama administration faced, the official said.

stripes.com/news/us/us-inviting-more-than-60-countries-for-strategy-session-on-countering-islamic-state-1.457811#.WMFkutKGN1s

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Pakistan

A Terrorist Is A Terrorist Whether Bearded Or Not: Maulana Fazlur Rehman

March 9th, 2017

SUKKUR: Chief of the Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl Maulana Fazlur Rehman has said that a terrorist is a terrorist whether he is bearded or beardless, wears trousers and shirt or a shalwar kameez, or whether he is a parliamentarian or a common man; if one is a terrorist, he should be given severe punishment.

He said there should be no military courts in a democratic country.

“We have supported military courts only because of the prevailing situation in the country,” he said while addressing an ulema convention held at Manzil Gah Mosque in Sukkur on Wednesday.

He said civil courts had many weaknesses which should be rectified and all institutions were required to perform their duties and provide justice to the common man.

He said despite the fact that Pakistan had become a big military power and there was relative peace in the country as compared to the past, the recent wave of terrorism had created fear among the people.

Restoration and maintenance of peace was the responsibility of the state, he added.

He also criticised PTI chief Imran Khan for his unflattering remarks about foreign cricketers who played in the Pakistan Super League final at Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore recently.

Amongst those who also spoke at the convention included JUI-F Sindh general secretary Maulana Rashid Mehmood Soomro, Abdul Qayoom Halejvi, Siraj Ahmed Amroti and others.

Action against Pakhtuns condemned

JUI-F MNA Maulana Ameer Zaman has condemned the arrest of members of the Pakhtun community by police on what he described as ‘flimsy’ grounds and added that the Sindh government should desist from linking every bearded man with terrorism.

He was speaking to journalists in new Hyderabad city on Wednesday at the residence of a party supporter.

JUI-F leaders Maulana Taj Mohammed Nahiyoon, Azam Jehangiri and others were also present.

Mr Zaman claimed that the Pakhtuns were JUI-F supporters and they were being harassed by police on the ground that they were ‘illegal immigrants’.

“Pakistan has disintegrated because of such environment of hatred. If people of one community are arrested or imprisoned it would lead to hatred, which would not be beneficial for Pakistan,” he added.

“Every man having a beard or wearing a turban is not a terrorist.”

The JUI-F condemned terrorism in all its manifestations. Terrorism could not be linked with Islam, madressahs and ulema, he added.

He said police were arresting underage boys who did not possess national identity cards as they were not adults.

“Such actions are a conspiracy against army. It would sabotage the Zarb-i-Azb and Raddul Fasaad operations.”

The army made major gains in the fight against terrorism, but the police were wasting these gains through their ‘biased’ actions against the Pakhtuns. The police should be refrained from declaring every Pakhtun a terrorist, he added.

He warned that if such acts continued the JUI-F would launch agitation and the government would not be able to face it.

He said that the JUI-F was holding its centenary celebrations in Nowshera which would be attended by the Imam of the grand mosque of Makkah on April 7-9.

dawn.com/news/1319274/a-terrorist-is-a-terrorist-whether-bearded-or-not-fazl

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Pakistan threatens to block social media over 'blasphemy'

AFP | Mar 9, 2017, 07.09 PM IST

ISLAMABAD: A Pakistani court has ordered the government to open an investigation into online "blasphemy", threatening to ban social media networks if they failed to censor content deemed insulting to Islam, lawyers said on Thursday.

The issue came to the fore in January when five secular activists known for their outspoken views against religious extremism and the powerful military were disappeared, presumed abducted by state agencies according to opposition parties and international rights groups.

Four of them were later returned to their families weeks later, but not before they were tarnished by a virulent campaign to paint them enemies of Islam deserving execution.

Judge Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui of the Islamabad high court asked the government to form an investigative committee to report back next Monday over the issue, saying he could order social media sites to be blocked if offending content remained online.

"The judge ordered the government to make a Joint Investigation Team (JIT) with Muslim officials only to look into the blasphemy issue," said advocate Tariq Asad, who represents the hardline Red Mosque which brought the case to court.

Rights groups say the label of blasphemer is liberally applied by religious conservatives in order to silence criticism of extremism.

Even unproven allegations can be fatal. At least 65 people including lawyers, judges and activists have been murdered by vigilantes over blasphemy allegations since 1990, according to recent think tank report.

Pakistan previously banned Facebook for hosting allegedly blasphemous content for two weeks in 2010 while YouTube was unavailable from 2012 to 2016 over an amateur film about the Prophet Muhammad that led to global riots.

But Islamabad later came to agreements with major internet firms to block within Pakistan material that violated its laws, generally once the companies had performed their own cross-checks.

Yasser Latif Hamdani, a lawyer who worked to get YouTube unblocked, said previous web censorship had also originated with court orders and the judge could succeed in implementing a fresh set of bans.

"In this case you would have to apply to the Supreme Court to overrule it. Would they? He's going to couch it in religious language ... It could create a lot of problems if he does that," he said.

timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/pakistan/pakistan-threatens-to-block-social-media-over-blasphemy/articleshow/57559076.cms

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Pakistan rejects Indian concerns over terrorists' movement on LoC

PTI | Mar 9, 2017

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan military on Thursday rejected Indian Army's concerns over the movement of terrorists along the LoC in Jammu and Kashmir and asked it to "share evidence".

Army's director-general of Military Operations (DGMO) Lt Gen AK Bhatia spoke with his Pakistani counterpart and conveyed India's concerns over the movement of terrorists along the LoC.

Pakistan military spokesman Maj Gen Asif Ghafoor confirmed the contact between the officials of the two armies on the hotline.

"Indian concern on terrorists' movement along LoC were strongly rejected during (the) hotline (call).

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 Maj Gen Asif Ghafoor @OfficialDGISPR

Indian concern on terrorists' movement along LOC were strongly rejected during hotline. Indian Army asked to look inward, share evidence.

2:40 PM - 9 Mar 2017

  490 490 Retweets   1,037 1,037 likes

Indian Army asked to look inward, share evidence," Ghafoor tweeted.

Indian Army sources had earlier said, "The DGMO spoke to the Pakistan Army DGMO this morning. He expressed concern regarding the movement of terrorists noticed along the Line of Control (LoC)."

The Pakistani DGMO was also informed about the repatriation of two Pakistani nationals apprehended in Uri.

timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/pakistan-rejects-indian-concerns-over-terrorists-movement-on-loc/articleshow/57556019.cms

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Over 22 million Pak children out of schools: Report

PTI | Updated: Mar 9, 2017, 05.09 PM IST

ISLAMABAD: Over 22 million children in Pakistan between the age group of five and 16 are out of schools despite the government's claim of improving their enrolment in educational institutions, according to a report.

The Pakistan Education Statistic 2015-16 report launched on Wednesday by a department of the Ministry of Federal Education and Professional Training disclosed that as many as 44 per cent children (22.6 million) between the age group of five to 16 are still out of school, Dawn reported.

The report said the number of out-of-school children has reduced from last year's figure of 24 million to 22.6 million.

The statistics further said 21 per cent primary schools in the country are being run by a single teacher while 14 per cent have one room.

It said only 30 per cent children remain enrolled from class one till tenth. Balochistan region is home to the highest proportion of out-of-school children followed by the impoverished tribal region along Afghan border.

"As many as 70 per cent children in Balochistan and 58 per cent in Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) are out of school," the report said.

As regards to schools' infrastructure, 40 per cent public sector primary schools were operating without electricity, 28 per cent did not have toilets, 25 per cent were without boundary walls and 29 per cent had no access to drinking water. While 7 per cent schools did not have any building and 43 per cent had unsatisfactory buildings.

"The situation is pathetic; it has been like this for a long time and is getting worse. The government should prioritise the education sector," said Khalid Aftab, former vice chancellor of a government university, Lahore.

"I think, the actual figure of out-of-school children is much higher than 22.6 million; how can we rely on this data," he said.

Speaking at the launching ceremony, minister of state for federal education Balighur Rehman said, the report noted considerable improvement in the Net Enrolment Rate in Primary Education, availability of physical facilities in government schools and reduction in number of out-of-school children (OOSC).

"The number of OOSC in classes one to 12 and the age bracket of five to 16 years has reduced by 3 per cent per annum from 25.96 million in 2012-13 to 22.64 million in 2015-16. Punjab province has outperformed other provinces by managing to reduce the number by 6 per cent per annum from 12.87 million to 9.92 million during the same period," the minister said.

Rehman said the net enrolment rate in primary education had improved at the rate of 4 per cent per annum from 14.65 million in 2012-13 to 17.1 million in 2015-16. Again, Punjab had fared better than other provinces, making a contribution of 6 per cent per annum.

The minister also appreciated improvements in physical facilities in government schools and urged provincial governments to concentrate in this area.

timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/pakistan/over-22-million-pak-children-out-of-schools-report/articleshow/57556866.cms

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NAP implementation needs to be expedited, says military leadership

Mar 9, 2017

A Corps Commanders conference chaired by Chief of Army Staff Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa on Thursday discussed progress on the National Action Plan (NAP) and concluded that its implementation needs to be expedited jointly by all stakeholders for lasting peace and stability, a press release issued by Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) said.

The meeting was held at General Headquarters in Rawalpindi.

Gen Bajwa discussed his last security conference with government officials and apprised the corps commanders of a phased fencing plan for the Pak-Afghan border.

General Bajwa further informed the forum of decisions taken regarding the repatriation of Afghan refugees and police, judicial, seminary and educational reforms in the country.

 Follow

 Maj Gen Asif Ghafoor @OfficialDGISPR

CCC.Hostile design 'll be defeated through whole of the nation approach. Sacrifices by resilient people of Pak/forces shall not go waste,IA.

6:33 PM - 9 Mar 2017

  339 339 Retweets   813 813 likes

Restarting the execution of death sentences issued by military courts was also discussed, with participants expressing their satisfaction on the performance of the courts, added the ISPR statement.

The military's senior command also discussed the details of the ongoing Operation Raddul Fasaad and appreciated the performance of civilian and military security forces in the successful hosting of the Pakistan Super League Final in Lahore and the overall response by the state’s security apparatus after the recent spate of terror attacks.

General Bajwa reiterated that Raddul Fasaad is a comprehensive, across-the-board operation against terrorists and terrorism and is not focused on any particular race, sect or group.

The Corps Commanders conference also agreed that "hostile agencies" were trying to undo Pakistan's gains in security and development, especially the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor.

Geostrategic concerns and security environment of the country were also discussed with a special focus on internal security, added the military’s media wing.

Continued cease-fire violations along the Line of Control and the Working Boundary were also brought up.

dawn.com/news/1319423/nap-implementation-needs-to-be-expedited-says-military-leadership

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Mideast

ISRAELI PARLIAMENT APPROVES BILL TO QUIETEN MOSQUES, FUELING ARAB ANGER

3/9/17

'We're Not Going Away'; Hecklers Take Aim At Israel Ambassador Nominee David Friedman

Israeli lawmakers invoked Arab anger late Wednesday after approving an initial reading of a bill that will limit calls to prayer from places of worship, viewed as a targeted law against Muslim communities.

The Israeli parliament, or Knesset, voted 55 to 48 in favor of the bill, an amended version of the bill that the cabinet of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu approved in November.

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It seeks to ban calls to prayer between 11pm and 7am. The bill also includes churches and synagogues, but Israeli Arabs say it predominantly targets their communities. The traditional Muslim call to prayer, made from the Muezzin, or loudspeaker, of a mosque, typically sounds before sunrise.

The bill, which still needs to pass three further readings before becoming law, will apply to communities in East Jerusalem, a territory the Palestinians have earmarked as the capital of any future state, as well as Israel proper. It will impose a 5,000 to 10,000 shekel ($1,350-2,700) fine for houses of worship that violate the ban.

The result prompted scenes of anger within the chamber of Israeli democracy, as well as regional condemnation. Jordan, Israel’s Arab neighbor, criticized the bill as a piece of “discriminatory” legislation that “violates Israel’s obligations under international human rights,” such as the right to freedom of religion.

Ahmad Tibi, an Israeli Arab lawmaker who was removed from the debate ahead of the vote during a critical speech to the parliament, told Newsweek Thursday: “This is a racist law aimed exclusively against Muslims. Behind this law is Netanyahu himself. There is no need for this proposal, it is a source of friction and anger. Muslims will play the muezzin (loudspeaker) of mosques regardless of this law.”

Other Arab lawmakers expressed their frustration at a bill they say is an attack on their religion and culture by one of the most right-wing governments in Israeli history. Ayman Odeh, the leader of the Arab Joint List, Israel’s third-largest party, ripped up a copy of the bill’s legislation during the parliamentary debate. Security threw him out of the debate ahead of the vote.

Zouheir Bahloul, lawmaker for the opposition Zionist Union faction, called the bill a declaration of “war against the country’s Arab minority.” As tensions boiled over, far-right Israeli politician Robert Ilatov of the nationalist Yisrael Beiteinu party told Joint List lawmaker Osama Saadi to “go back to Saudi Arabia!”

Netanyahu remained defiant in his support of the bill Wednesday. He said: “All Israeli citizens—Jews, Muslims and Christians alike—have a right to sleep in peace. We will move forward with the legislation, as is the practice in many nations around the world.”

The Al-Aqsa Mosque, which Muslims consider to be the third-holiest site in Islam, will not be party to the ban because of the sensitives around the site, which is controlled by a Jordanian-Palestinian-led Islamic Waqf (trust). Israel refers to the site as the Temple Mount and considers it to be the holiest site in Judaism.

europe.newsweek.com/israeli-parliament-approves-bill-quieten-mosques-fueling-arab-anger-565561?rm=eu

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Muslim's trial for 'glorifying terrorism' moved because it falls during Ramadan

Mar 9, 2017

The man was accused of downloading terrorist-related material

Taha Hussain, 21, is said to have sent WhatsApp files were entitled: "Paris Outrage: A Muslim Perspective".

Another file entitled "Charlie Hebdo to Jagrity" was sent on the encrypted Telegram messaging service.

Hussain denied ten counts of disseminating terrorist publications when he appeared today via videolink at Kingston Crown Court.

Hussain denied ten counts of disseminating terrorist publications

I only have to think about myself not eating or drinking for 19 hours

Judge Dodgson

A trial had originally been scheduled automatically for May 30, but the fixture was moved to a later date at the Old Bailey by Judge Paul Dodgson.

Judge Dodgson said: "I only have to think about myself not eating or drinking for 19 hours."

He added: "This is not to be taken as a precedent for all trials involving devout Muslims.

A trial had been scheduled for May 30

"The date was fixed administratively but no consideration had been made for Ramadan.

"I would not be confident for someone to stand trial if I looked up and I thought he's not fit to be here."

Hussain has remained in custody ahead of his trial

He told Hussain 'Your trial is going to take place at the Old Bailey either on June 26 or perhaps July 10.'

Hussain, of Langtree Avenue, Slough, Berks, was remanded in custody ahead of his trial at the Central Criminal Court.

express.co.uk/news/uk/777064/muslim-trial-glorifying-terrorism-moved-Ramadan

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Turkey Plans to Construct New Town in Syria's Al-Bab

 

TEHRAN (FNA)- Turkey's Agency of Disaster and Emergency Management (AFAD) said it plans to build a new town just to the North of al-Bab city in Aleppo to accommodate a sum of 80,000 people, a plan that has already received criticism for what experts call "its suspicious demographic and political objectives".

The Arabic-language Enab al-Baladi news website quoted Othman Sultan, an engineer working for the project, as saying that Nadhah region North of al-Bab has been selected as the ultimate site for building this new town.

He added that the town will have two districts; one with 400 buildings stretching over a 2km area, and another one that will be comprised of 311 four-story buildings.

According to Sultan, the first district will include four schools and the second one will have three. Also a grand mosque, two prayers rooms and a hospital will be built in every district.

This is while, Hamza Tekin, a journalist with close links to the Turkish government, confirmed Sultan's remarks, and said construction of the town will take 6 months.

But housing experts believe that the project could be accomplished in a period no less than 3 years, specially considerring that it is located in a war zone.

Meantime, political analyst Seyed Mostafa Khoshcheshm said Turkey would either stage a construction show in the region to justify and ensure its mid-term presence in the region under humanitarian grounds, or more likely continue building the town in pursuit of long-term objectives.

"Turkey is pursuing covert political and demographic objectives through this move. If accomplished, Turkey will certainly try to relocate a large number of Arab refugees to Al-Bab as it will help them get rid of a portion of its Syrian refugees whose concentration on Syrian soil would then become a burden for the international community. Secondly, Turkey would change the population structure of Al-Bab in favor of the Arabs to push the Kurdish population further to the East. And the last but not the least, it could start its safe zone plan that has recently received US President Donald Trump's approval, all through this single move," Khoshcheshm said.

"Given the Syrian government's strong opposition to the Turkey and US-backed safe zone plan that envisages a belt in Northern Syria to accomodate the refugees whose security, according to the plan, should be provided by the militant groups, it would be strange to see Damascus, Tehran and Moscow agree to the Turkish plan in Al-Bab unless they receive the needed guarantees first," he concluded.

The Turkish army’s chief of staff announced late in February that Ankara-backed militants had taken full control of al-Bab in Aleppo province after months of fighting.

Turkey declared in August 2016 that its army has launched 'Euphrates Shield' military operation in Syria, as Ankara claims that it has begun to cleanse the ISIL terrorists from its border with the Arab country. But, despite Ankara's allegations, Turkish military forces support militant groups in Northern Syria, and fight against Kurdish forces in the region.

Damascus had condemned Ankara's military operation and entry of Turkish special forces and tanks into Syria.

The Turkish army troops have sustained heavy losses and casualties during their military operation in the Syria’s territory, while the Turkish airstrikes as well as artillery attacks by the Turkish army and the Ankara-backed Euphrates Shield Operation militants have killed and wounded hundreds of civilians in recent months.

Furthermore, The Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) have started the 'Euphrates Rage' Operation to capture ISIL's de facto capital of Raqqa in November 2016.

en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13951218001398

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'Russia and Israel are partners in war on Islamic terror'

09/03/17

Putin wishes Israel a happy Purim during meeting with Netanyahu, Israeli PM calls Russia a 'partner' in fighting radical Islam.

Netanyahu and Putin meet at the KremlinNetanyahu and Putin meet at the KremlinHaim Zach/Flash90

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu met with Russian President Vladimir Putin in the Kremlin in Moscow Thursday as part of a state visit amid warming relations between the two countries.

Putin greeted Netanyahu with holiday blessing, wishing Israelis a happy Purim, referencing the Jewish festival celebrated this coming Sunday and Monday.

Ahead of his closed-door meeting with Putin, Netanyahu addressed journalists, discussing shared threats facing the Russian and Israel, as well as the expanding partnership the Prime Minister described between the two nations.

“Our frequent visits reflect genuine friendship and a tightening of relations in economics, technology, tourism and culture, as well as the living bridge of the one million Russian speakers living in Israel. One of them is translating for us now. But in this context, I would like to point out that in recent months we concluded the agreement on pensions between us. I would like to thank you for your personal involvement.”

The Prime Minister singled out the efforts of both Israel and Russia against Sunni terrorist groups like ISIS and Al Qaeda as a central area of cooperation between the two powers. He also made a subtle reference, however, to Moscow’s client state, Iran, and the Tehran regime’s support of Shi’ite terror groups across the Middle East, including Hezbollah.

“One of the things that we are fighting together is radical Islamic terrorism. Of course, in the past year there was significant progress in the fight against the radical Sunni Islamic terrorism led by [ISIS] and Al Qaeda; Russia has made a very important contribution. Naturally, we do not want this terrorism to be replaced by the radical Shi'ite Islamic terrorism led by Iran.”

While Netanyahu did not explicitly mention Iran’s nuclear program, he did reference its recent ballistic missile tests and warning of the global dangers of Islamic fundamentalism in Iran.

“I thank you for your Purim greetings. 2,500 years ago in ancient Persia there was an attempt to destroy the Jewish People that did not succeed and we mark this on the holiday of Purim. Today there is an attempt by Persia's heir, Iran, to destroy the state of the Jews. They say this as clearly as possible and inscribe it on their ballistic missiles.

“Of course, I would like to say as clearly as possible: Israel is a state today. We have an army and we are capable of defending ourselves. But the threat of radical Shi'ite Islam threatens us no less than it does the region and the peace of the world, and I know that we are partners in the desire to prevent any kind of victory by radical Islam of any sort.”

israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/226441

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Ayatollah Nouri Hamedani: "Quranic teachings must be promoted worldwide"

March 9, 2017

(AhlulBayt News Agency) - "One should not devote himself to merely reciting Quranic verses; rather they must also make an effort to promote Quranic teachings worldwide," Ayatollah Nouri said.

In a meeting with the head of Iran's Endowment and Charity Organization on Thursday, March 9 in Qom, Grand Ayatollah Hussein Nouri Hamedani, a Shia source of emulation, stressed the importance of developing Quranic activities and said, " Quran is like a vast ocean of knowledge that covers all skills and sciences."

The Shia source of emulation added, "Quran is a truly comprehensive book that includes all sciences; its comprehensiveness and truthfulness becomes more apparent as time goes by."

"One should not devote himself to merely reciting Quranic verses; rather they must also make an effort to promote Quranic teachings worldwide," Ayatollah Nouri said.

The revered source of emulation further said, "Spreading the invaluable teachings of the Holy Quran along with organizing Quranic competitions and events are highly recommended to promote the message of this divine book."

"Today, the world is in need of Quranic teachings more than ever; therefore, we must take a step on this path to spread its message worldwide," Ayatollah Nouri concluded.

en.abna24.com/news/grand-ayatollahs/ayatollah-nouri-hamedani-quranic-teachings-must-be-promoted-worldwide_816650.html

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Foreign Ministry rejects UN Iran human rights report

March 9, 2017

(AhlulBayt News Agency) - Foreign Ministry spokesperson has denounced the UN’s Iran human rights report as ‘unfair and politically motivated.’

Ms. Asma Jahangir, a Pakistani lawyer replaced Ahmed Shaheed earlier in 2016 as the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran. Her new report was published by the UN on Tuesday to which Mr. Bahram Ghasemi responded, condemning the report as prepared using sources and testimonies by the individuals not qualified for providing evidence and by a resolution which had sought political motives.

He reiterated Islamic Republic of Iran’s official positon on the UN Special Rapporteur as individuals base their reports on unfounded reports and isolated cases of data; “the report tries to display an opaque image of the human rights inside the country and distorted the reality, failing to capture the advancements in human rights conditions, only highlighting baseless claims and suspicious sources,” he told reporters on Thursday.

Ghasemi recriminated countries who had contributed actively to the UN approach on Iran in watching the human rights conditions in Iran in violating of human rights; “this totally discredits the authenticity of Jahangir’s report; her report emulates the previous ones in making inaccurate conclusions and unfair judgements based on preconceptions and false reports,” he emphasized.

“The Islamic Republic of Iran has always rejected double-standards in dealing with human rights conditions in other countries which had damaged the credibility of the human rights bodies of the UN and are a great blow to trust invested upon these bodies,” Ghasemi added.

“We believe selective and politically-motivated approach to the human rights issues will leave the privileged countries free in their mockery of the mechanisms of human rights in the UN and will still support their terrorist proxies,” he concluded.

en.abna24.com/news/iran/foreign-ministry-rejects-un-iran-human-rights-report_816643.html

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Eight Teams To Compete For Football Gold In Baku 2017 Islamic Solidarity Games

Mar 9, 2017

BAKU, March 9 (Bernama) -- The Azerbaijan Islamic Solidarity Games Operations Committee (AISGOC) announced Thursday the eight teams that will compete for gold in the Baku 2017 Islamic Solidarity Games football competition, Azerbaijan's AZERTAC news agency reported.

Azerbaijan will be joined by teams from Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Cameroon, Morocco, Oman, Palestine and Algeria. Each squad will be made up of under-23 players, with teams also able to field a maximum of three over-age players.

Teams will initially be drawn into one of two pools of four, where they will play the other sides in that group. The top two teams from each group will progress to the semi-finals, with the winners of those matches going on to compete for the gold and silver, whilst the two losing teams will play-off for a bronze medal.

The competition will comprise 16 matches in total, which will take place at four venues across Baku - Bayil Arena, Dalga Arena, Tofiq Bahramov Stadium and Azal Arena.

Given the condensed format of the competition, the first round of matches, which will see all eight teams in action, will take place on May 8. The semi-finals and final are currently scheduled to be played on the May 18 and 21, respectively, with the final being held at the Tofiq Bahramov Stadium.

Speaking about the football competition, Mark Honeybunn, Baku 2017, Director of Sport said: "We have already received significant interest in the Baku 2017 football competition and expect the level of excitement to rise upon the announcement of the participating teams."

"With 16 matches taking place in total, the competition has been scheduled in such a way as to provide those teams that progress to the latter stages with the necessary time to prepare ahead of the semi-final and final matches."

"We expect demand for tickets to be high, not just from those people keen to support the host nation, Azerbaijan, but also from football fans who have the opportunity to see some of the world football stars of the future here in Baku."

Tickets for all football matches will go on sale on March 19 and will be available online via the Baku 2017 website or from one of 12 ticket outlets located across Baku.

-- BERNAMA

bernama.com/bernama/v8/wn/newsworld.php?id=1336493

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Europe

Brave Worshippers Thwart Public Beheading In Mosque As Kidnapper Takes Man Hostage

Thu, Mar 9, 2017

A HOSTAGE-TAKER armed with a Stanley knife marched a Muslim into a mosque to carry out a brutal beheading – but was tackled by brave worshippers.

Haidar Hami, 22, frog-marched his victim through Hull Mosque and Islamic Centre and forced his head down to demand: "Are you going to pray now?"

The victim was already bleeding from cuts to his cheeks and face.

But using just the power of speech, Ebrima Touray, 45, and his fellow worshippers managed to distract the attacker and snatch the serrated knife to prevent a sickening attack.

Mr Touray, 45, said: "I was at the mosque praying when I saw this guy walk in with his shoes on.

"Shoes are not allowed to be worn in any mosque and one of my friends kept telling him, 'No shoes, no shoes'.

"When I looked back he hadn't left but instead closed the door and that's when I saw the knife in his hand.

"I saw the guy with him had a slice on his face, so I asked him, 'Who did that to you? Did he do this to you?'

"He nodded, so I told [Hamid] to put the knife away. At that point he said, 'This is my knife', and put it in his pocket.

"My friend at the mosque was speaking Arabic [to Hamid] so I told him to keep his concentration and keep talking to him. That's when I managed to grab the knife off him.

"He ran off so I called the police and I saw a guy pull up in a car shouting his name, and I told him he wasn't taking him anywhere.

"He said he was from his hostel, but I wasn't having that. He hadn't protected him when he left with this guy with a knife, so I wasn't going to let him protect him now."

Mr Touray, a security guard for St Stephen's Shopping Centre in Hull said his 14 years' as a security guard helped him defuse the situation.

He said: "I knew I had to help when I saw what was happening.

"If I didn't he could have easily gone out and hurt someone in the street.

"My job helped me in the situation, because I knew what to do. I don't think I would have gone as near him if not.

"But I think everyone needs to help out in some little bit when these things happen.

"I have been visiting this mosque for years and this is the first time anything like this has happened.

"This is a community we all have to live in."

When Hamid was interviewed by police following the incident, he said he was going to kill the man with one of the knives and, when asked why, said: "To stop him doing bad things to me."

He admitted kidnap, assault occasioning actual bodily harm and threatening with an offensive weapon during the incident on September 9 last year.

Judge Peter Kelson QC commended Mr Touray and fellow worshipper, Taha Mohammed, for their "extremely remarkable courage".

Hamid, from Hull, was sentenced to 10 years in jail on Tuesday.

Imam Hafiz Salik said: "We have never had anything like it and we have been there for more than 30 years."

express.co.uk/news/uk/777053/Mosque-attempted-beheading-hostage-Hull

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French mayor faces €1,800 fine for inciting hate against Muslim students

By News DeskPublished: March 9, 2017

Last year, a far right French mayor incited hatred against Muslims by making remarks such as there are too many Muslim children at the schools in his city. These remarks caused him to appear in court.

Robert Ménard, mayor of the southern town of Béziers appeared before Paris Criminal court on Wednesday for the launch of his incitement of hatred trial in relation to the statements he made in 2016.

“In a class in the city center of my town, 91 per cent of the children are Muslims. Obviously, this a problem,” he said in an interview to the French News channel LCI in September.

Islamophobia: French mayor to be tried on hate charges

“These classes represent the most striking proof of the #GreatReplacement in progress. Just look at old class photos,” Ménard tweeted in the same month on the first day of school.

Ménard faces a €1800 fine to be payable within 60 days, if he is found guilty and can face a prison term too if he refuses to pay up.

The prosecutor argued that by making such remarks, the mayor portrayed children as a burden for the national community.

The prosecutor said that Ménard reduced the children to their religion, regardless of whether they are French nationals or do not practice this religion.

“I do not find it desirable for children and their mothers that there are ghetto schools. And to find solutions, it is necessary to say what it is,” Ménard said.

Hate and extremism ‘not Islam’: French PM

Ménard’s lawyer demanded the court to clear him of all charges unless it wants to be known for pronouncing a “death penalty for freedom of thought.”

This is not the only scandal that has engulfed the controversial mayor. In May 2015, Ménard was accused of racism after he counted the names of school children to determine how many of them were Muslims.

Whereas in September 2015, Ménard caused outrage after a video emerged of him going around Syrian refugees’ houses telling them, “You are not welcome in this town.”

tribune.com.pk/story/1350574/french-mayor-faces-e1800-fine-inciting-hate-muslim-students/

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5 Afghans to be deported for gang-rape of fellow minor refugee in Sweden

By KHAAMA PRESS - Thu Mar 09 2017

A group of five Afghan asylum seekers are facing deportation back to Afghanistan after they were found guilty of gang-raping a young fellow refugee.

According to the local media reports, the five men appeared before the appellate court of Sweden and were convicted of gang-raping a minor fellow refugee, order the men to be deported after completing their jail terms in Sweden.

This comes as the primary court had awarded 15-month jail term for four of the convicts while the fifth convict was awarded a 13-month jail term.

The fifth convict was reported to be around 16-year-old when he was arrested in connection to the incident.

The primary court had convicted men of forcing the victim, who was under age 15, into a forested area on the outskirts of Uppsala where they raped the individual at the end of October.

Part of the assault that included a beating was recorded on a mobile phone, according to EBL newspaper. The victim was also threatened with a knife.

The five were ordered to pay damages of 250,000 kronor (27,600 dollars) to the victim whose identity was shielded by the court.

According to the paper, the defendants had consumed alcohol and several said they were too drunk to remember the incident prior to the assault.

khaama.com/5-afghans-to-be-deported-for-gang-rape-of-fellow-minor-refugee-in-sweden-02359

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Islamic State Sharpens Focus on Germany

09. March 2017

Islamic State has stepped up its presence in Germany as a target for jihadist terror attacks, the country’s domestic intelligence agency said during a news conference on Wednesday.

Agency President Hans-Georg Maassen told reporters that the number of violent extremists in the country has increased to 1,600 individuals.

“We continue to have a high threat level in Germany,” Mr. Maassen said, as reported by local media. “Over the course of 2016, Germany has become much more prioritized as a selected target for IS.”

According to Mr. Maassen, tip-offs about potential threats have tripled over the last four years. A hotline for reporting tips on Islamist terrorism received 1,100 calls last year — more than double a record set in 2015.

Mr. Maassen said the information is getting more specific, and that individual cases are examined closely.

Germany has been high alert for terrorist activity since December, when an IS attacker drove a truck into a Christmas market in the capital, killing 12 and injuring dozens of others. Since then, authorities have undertaken several raids, the most recent of which was two weeks ago, when a Berlin mosque where the market attacker was supposedly radicalized was shut down and several related homes and businesses searched.

A government source told German daily Die Welt that the statistics should not be cause for more alarm, but rather a reflection of “the new water level,” where terror attacks have become an assumption of the current political climate.

Despite this, opposition party the Greens have criticized the federal government of inciting fear in the public.

“It is right for people to take the danger seriously,” the Green’s deputy parliamentary chairman Konstantin von Notz told Die Welt. “But alarmism and oracle-like warnings do not help more.”

Mr. von Notz called for a “complete explanation” of what happened in Berlin. Authorities were aware of the Christmas market attacker’s willingness to carry out a suicide attack, but he somehow slipped through bureaucracy.

global.handelsblatt.com/politics/islamic-state-sharpens-focus-on-germany-722162

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This Muslim Human Rights Activist Says He Couldn’t Travel To The UK Because Of Visa Issues

posted on Mar. 9, 2017

Human rights activist and political refugee Iyad el-Baghdadi was due to speak at three British universities about efforts to silence free expression in the Gulf.

An Arab Spring activist has been forced to cancel university speaking appearances in the UK about efforts to silence free expression in the Gulf because his visa application was flagged as “complex” and delayed.

Iyad el-Baghdadi, who was raised in the United Arab Emirates and is now a political refugee in Norway, had been due to speak at the London School of Economics and Oxford University about free expression in the Gulf. He was also due to appear at an event organised by the student union at SOAS about the “indigenisation of liberty”, which has been now cancelled as a result of his visa delay.

On Twitter, Baghdadi, who rose to prominence for creating the hashtag #ArabTyrantManual during the uprisings in 2011, said it was not clear why his case was flagged as complex and referred for further examination.

 Follow

 İyad el-Baghdadi @iyad_elbaghdadi

I was supposed to be speaking at LSE tomorrow along with @MARYAMALKHAWAJA. Unfortunately I won't be able to because of UK visa issues. twitter.com/LSEHumanRights/status/838429150943842304 …

4:57 PM - 7 Mar 2017

  73 73 Retweets   51 51 likes

23h

 İyad el-Baghdadi @iyad_elbaghdadi

I am a political refugee, having been granted political asylum in Norway in 2015. I carry a Norwegian travel document and live in Oslo.

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 İyad el-Baghdadi @iyad_elbaghdadi

Ironically, the events were about efforts to silence free expression in the Gulf (!) and about the ethics of academic funding (!)

8:46 PM - 8 Mar 2017

  2 2 Retweets   7 7 likes

He said he believes the delay was likely to be related to an incident in 2014, in which he was arrested, detained, and then offered two choices by the UAE government – indefinite imprisonment or immediate deportation from the UAE.

At the time, news outlets reported that he was deported due to his online activism and outspokenness against repression and leadership in the region. Baghdadi said he was never formally charged with any crime or given an explanation. He was eventually granted political asylum in Norway in 2015.

Nicholas McGeehan, a senior researcher at the charity Human Rights Watch who organised the LSE and Oxford events, told BuzzFeed News that he had provided Baghdadi with a formal invitation, which was then submitted with his UK visa application.

A few days before Baghdadi was supposed to travel to the UK he contacted the British embassy in Oslo to find out the reason for the delay.

Although the visa hasn’t yet been refused, McGeehan said he’d be extremely disappointed if it is. “Iyad is an articulate and thoughtful writer and activist and staff and faculty at UK universities will benefit from hearing what he has to say,” he said.

“It would be deeply troubling if the delay related to intelligence from the government of the UAE, which deported Iyad from the country when his wife was seven months pregnant, simply because they didn’t like the anti-authoritarian nature of his tweets.”

BuzzFeed News understands that straightforward non-settlement visa applications are usually granted within 15 working days. In this case Baghdadi was notified that his application would take longer than this.

The Home Office declined to comment on Baghdadi’s visa delay on the basis that it does not “routinely comment on individual cases”.

buzzfeed.com/fionarutherford/this-muslim-human-rights-activist-says-he-couldnt-travel-to?utm_term=.sjBQAQedx#.bo11R1nvr

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South Asia

Daesh and Taliban are not opposed to each other, says Hanif Atmar, Afghan NSA

Indrani Bagchi | Updated: Mar 9, 2017

In an exclusive chat with TOI, Hanif Atmar, Afghan NSA, says Pakistan should understand that their proxy terror group, Afghan Taliban, is providing sanctuary to its enemy group, TTP, just like Daesh and Taliban are not really opposed to each other.

To what would you attribute the increased instability in Afghanistan in 2017?

It's no longer about a lone wolf or one specific terrorist organisation. It's about the evil axis of three actors, violent extremism, criminal economics and state sponsorship of terrorists. These three have come together to challenge the legitimate state of Afghanistan and turn it into a sanctuary for international terrorism, and to expand the criminalized economy with narcotics, use its proceeds to finance terrorism.

Is there something you are missing which fighting the Taliban? Something you can do differently?

Definitely. First of all, the violent extremist organisations that we are confronted by are not just Taliban. There are four groups — first, Taliban and Haqqanis; second Pakistani groups including LeT, JeM, LeJ, TTP and others; third are regional groups like ETIM and IMU, and fourth are international terrorists like Daesh and Al Qaeda.

These four groups have a symbiotic relationship with the Afghan terrorists. They need the Afghans, the Afghans need them. Second, they have symbiotic relationships with the two other relationships I described earlier, the criminal economy and state sponsorship.

What should be your response?

Our response cannot be peace and reconciliation. We can make peace and reconciliation with the Afghan groups based on certain principles, but cannot reconcile with the other three groups. They are not fighting there for anything related to Afghanistan. They want to have a sanctuary there to fight others. LeT would like a sanctuary to fight India, ETIM to fight China, and so on. We told our Pakistani interlocutors that Taliban will allow sanctuary to the TTP, your enemy. Therefore, blind support to the Taliban will be creating a frankenstein again.

Therefore our regional and global partners will have to look at a global strategy to pursue these different elements pursing different objectives.

Russia, China, Pakistan want to do things differently, engage Taliban to fight Daesh. What did you say at the meeting in February?

We objected to the first meeting in December. We said, as a friend you cannot have a meeting about us, but without us. We were present at the next meeting in February. But we also said we wanted US, India and Iran, because these are our partners, especially US and India are critical partners to advance our counter-terrorism and peace and reconciliation agendas.

We said to them, if you want to make peace with the Taliban, that's one thing, but you cannot make peace between the government and Taliban, especially with the government not being there.

Third we said, your peace with the Taliban will never be seen as legitimate by the Afghan people or the governement. This idea that Taliban and Daesh are opposed to each other is wrong. No Daesh has come from Syria or Iraq, it's actually the morphing and mutating of Taliban, TTP and IMU into Daesh. They are the same people, but there is a lot of re-branding here.

People who are now saying that Daesh is the enemy of Taliban and Taliban will fight Daesh are wrong. We give them specific examples — there was a local dispute between Taliban and Daesh in Nangarhar, but Daesh and Taliban worked closely with each other in northeastern Afghanistan to fight us.

In addition, using one terrorist group against another is not an ethically correct way forward.

We did ask our friends, if you have such influence with Taliban, use it for peace, bring them to the table, which will be the most effective strategy against Daesh. If you remove the Afghan Taliban from Daesh and other foreign terrorist groups, including Pakistani groups, then they will not have sanctuary in Afghanistan. If they are trying to get sanctuary, it's only because of the Taliban. The best way to defeat Daesh and other groups is first either defeat the Taliban militarily or if they prefer to have a principled peace, accept Afghan constitution, cut ties with international terror groups and renounce violence then that would be the best way forward.

Rather than getting Taliban to fight Daesh, bring Taliban to the negotiating table, you will never have Daesh.

You mentioned ETIM. Has their activities increased in Afghanistan?

Yes. For all the above reasons. They work closely with the Taliban, they are in Badakshan, under protection of the Taliban. They are also in Zabul, where they come in from Pakistan.

We tell the Chinese, you have our full commitment in fighting ETIM wherever they are in Afghanistan. But we also have to appreciate where they come from and how to actually separate the Taliban from them. They agree with us and they say lets look at peace and reconciliation as a first strategy.

What has been the response of the new Trump administration?

Their commitment to Afghanistan is strategic and long term and not driven by a few operational or tactical issues. We have a strong convergence of interests. The most important interest we share with US and India is to defeat terrorism, which is a common enemy of all of us. The US again strongly expressed commitment to work with Afghanistan under the NATO framework. They are not looking at a drawdown or withdrawal.

What more can India do in the security sector in Afghanistan?

Rather than going into details of our defence cooperation I would say the most important objective here is the strengthening of the ANSF. This is a goal we've set for all of our strategic partners. We have a shared interest — the Afghans have demonstrated their will and capability to fight. The enemy we are fighting is three times bigger than the enemy we were fighting in 2009-14. Then we had 150,000 international soldiers. There are much less now, but we are battling them successfully. The Afghans are ready to fight. Not just for themselves, but also to protect the world from the menace of terrorism.

They need tools and resources. Let me clarify — we are not asking for troops from India or any other country apart from the NATO mission. Asking for a wide range of strengthening measures, which I think we will keep away from public conversation.

timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/pakistan/daesh-and-taliban-are-not-opposed-to-each-other-says-hanif-atmar-afghan-nsa/articleshow/57557300.cms

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Pakistani And Iranian Militants among 64 Killed In Clearance Operations: Afghanistan MoD

By KHAAMA PRESS - Thu Mar 09 2017

At least sixty four militants including the nationals of Iran and Pakistan were killed during the counter-terrorism and clearance operations in the past twenty four hours, the Ministry of Defense (MoD) said Thursday.

According to a statement by MoD, at least four Pakistani nationals and two Iranians fighting with the terrorist groups were killed during the latest counter-terrorism operations.

The statement further added that the counter-terrorism operations were conducted in the past 24 hours with the support of the Afghan Air Force and the artillery units of the Afghan army in Laghman, Kapisa, Maidan Wardak, Paktia, Khost, Kandahar, Zabul, Uruzgan, Badghis, Herat, Baghlan and Helmand provinces.

At least twenty eight militants including a local commander of the group Kamran hailing from Pakistan and two Iranians were killed during the operations in Lashkargah and Nad-e-Ali district.

The ministry further added that six militants were wounded, a vehicle and four Ak-47 rifles were destroyed along with several Improvised Explosive Device and other types of explosives.

At least nineteen insurgents were killed, seventeen others were wounded, and three vehicles were destroyed during the operations in Dahan-e-Ghori and Baghlan-e-Markazi districts of Baghlan, the statement said.

It also added that eight insurgents were killed and another militant was wounded during a separate operation in Zurmat district of Paktia province.

According to MoD, at least four militants were killed and another militant was wounded in a separate operation conducted in Nish district of Kandahar.

In another operation conducted in Andar district of southeastern Ghazni province, at least three militants were killed and nine others were wounded, MoD said, adding that two militants were killed and three others were wounded during the other operations in Uruzgan and Kapisa provinces.

khaama.com/pakistani-and-iranian-militants-among-64-killed-in-clearance-operations-mod-02362

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20 Taliban militants killed in foreign forces airstrike in Kandahar

By KHAAMA PRESS - Thu Mar 09 2017

At least twenty Taliban militants were killed in an airstrike conducted by the foreign forces in southern Kandahar province of Afghanistan.

According to the local security officials, the militants were targeted as they were planning to launch a coordinated attack on Nish district.

Provincial police spokesman Zia Durani said the airstrike was carried out in Lam area located between Nish and Khakriz districts.

He said the airstrike was conducted amid ongoing operations by the Afghan forces to clear Nish district of militants.

In the meantime, the Ministry of Defense (MoD), said the Afghan forces also conducted an airstrike in the vicinity of Nish district.

MoD said at least four militants were killed in the airstrike and another militant was wounded.

The security situation had improved considerably during the recent years but the anti-government armed militants have resumed their insurgency as they attempt to boost insurgency in key southern provinces.

The Taliban group has launched numerous attacks on the neighboring Helmand province last year and earlier this year as the local officials are saying the group attempted to establish a part of its leadership council in this province.

khaama.com/20-taliban-militants-killed-in-foreign-forces-airstrike-in-kandahar-02358

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Islamic State suicide team assaults military hospital in Kabul

BY THOMAS JOSCELYN | March 9, 2017 | tjoscelyn@gmail.com | @thomasjoscelyn

A team of five Islamic State suicide fighters assaulted a military hospital in the Afghan capital yesterday. The number of reported casualties has steadily climbed, with dozens killed and many more wounded.

The United Nations mission issued a statement condemning the attack. The UN explained that the Sardar Mohammad Daud Khan Hospital in Kabul is “the largest military medical facility in Afghanistan” and “treats sick and wounded members of the armed forces and their family members.”

“This egregious and morally reprehensible attack targeted people at their most vulnerable, while they were receiving treatment in the hospital, and also targeted the medical staff caring for them,” Pernille Kardel, the acting head of the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), was quoted as saying in the UN’s press release. Kardel added that the massacre “amounts to an atrocity, and the perpetrators must be held accountable.”

The Islamic State’s Amaq News Agency quickly claimed responsibility, posting pictures of the terrorists responsible and also a statement. Separately, the so-called caliphate’s Khorasan province released an image of the jihadis. The photo can be seen above.

The operation began when a suicide bomber drove a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device (VBIED) into an entrance in the rear of the hospital. Four others, wearing explosive vests, then rushed in. Both Amaq and the UN report that the jihadis were dressed as hospital staff, a move that was undoubtedly intended to sow confusion among the patients, doctors and nurses.

The Islamic State describes its terrorists as inghimasis, who are well-trained guerrilla fighters prepared to die in battle. They are different from traditional suicide bombers in that they don’t detonate their explosive belts at the outset of the fight, but instead first battle their enemies with light arms or other weapons. They “immerse” themselves in the battle before killing themselves.

This is how the raid was conducted in Kabul, as the Islamic State’s inghimasis reportedly engaged in a lengthy firefight, using AK-47s and grenades, before Afghan security forces finally pinned them down. Only then did they detonate their suicide vests.

As FDD’s Long War Journal has reported in the past, both the Islamic State and al Qaeda use inghimasi fighters in their operations.

In January 2016, the Islamic State’s Khorasan province claimed responsibility for an inghimasi assault on the Pakistani consulate in Jalalabad. Seven members of Afghan security forces were reportedly killed. Jalalabad is the capital of Nangarhar province, where the Islamic State’s branch in Afghanistan is based. [See FDD’s Long War Journal, Islamic State ‘province’ claims attack on Pakistani consulate in Jalalabad.]

Al Qaeda uses inghimasis as well. A team of al Qaeda suicide terrorists were used in the battle for Aleppo last year. Another group of inghimasis raided the Syrian regime’s military intelligence buildings in Homs earlier this month. The jihadists killed Bashar al Assad’s intelligence chief in Homs after fighting through security and infiltrating his office building. [See FDD’s Long War Journal report, Syrian military intelligence official killed in suicide assault in Homs.]

Amaq News claims that upwards of 400 people were killed or wounded at the military hospital in Kabul. This is likely an exaggeration. Still, according to the UN, the “number of civilian casualties is reportedly high.”

Thomas Joscelyn is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Senior Editor for FDD's Long War Journal.

longwarjournal.org/archives/2017/03/islamic-state-suicide-team-assaults-military-hospital-in-kabul.php

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Afghanistan writes to UN Security Council amid growing artillery shelling

By KHAAMA PRESS - Thu Mar 09 2017

The Afghan government has written a formal memo to the United Nations Security Council to file a complaint regarding the growing artillery shelling by the Pakistani military in eastern provinces of the country located along the Durand Line.

A government source privy of the development said the memo was sent to the UN Security Council by the Afghan government.

The source further added that the memo contains information regarding the artillery shelling, casualties incurred to the local residents and displacement of hundreds of families due to the shelling.

According to the official, the Afghan government has mentioned regarding the 1,266 artillery shells fired on eastern provinces since the month of January that has inflicted casualties to the residents besides causing collateral damage.

The memo also contains information regarding the displacement of more than 400 families due to the shelling.

Tensions between Kabul and Islamabad intensified following a series of deadly terrorist attacks in both the countries.

Both Afghanistan and Pakistan claim that the attacks are plotted and carried by the militants having safe havens in the two countries.

The lists of alleged terrorists and information regarding the sanctuaries being used by Taliban and Haqqani network were handed over to Pakistan in response to Pakistani military’s list of 76 alleged terrorists.

However, no breakthrough has been reported despite the Afghan government welcomed to jointly work with Islamabad to resolve the issue.

khaama.com/afghanistan-writes-to-un-security-council-amid-growing-artillery-shelling-02357

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The Unique Threat of the Islamic State in Afghanistan

 

The Islamic State claimed responsibility for an attack on a Kabul hospital that killed at least 30 people.• Despite more than 15 years of a combat presence and billions spent on creating a central government, the spread of the Islamic State to Afghanistan shows how fragile the country remains.• Neither the U.S. counter-insurgency strategy against the Taliban nor the U.S. counterterrorism strategy to battle al-Qaeda is suited for the fight against the Islamic State in Afghanistan.• The proliferation of the Islamic State in Afghanistan represents a very different challenge that will require an entirely different approach to combat..The goal of establishing an effective central government capable of providing security for the entire country has continued to prove highly elusive for Afghanistan, even after more than 15 years of a U.S. presence in the country. Afghanistan in 2016 is demonstrably more dangerous than it was in 2001—and even 1979—in terms of the levels of insurgent and terrorist violence. The government in Kabul, backed by a NATO coalition, has battled a persistent and strengthening Taliban insurgency, while also dealing with the continued presence of al-Qaeda in certain areas of the country. Indeed, it was the very presence of al-Qaeda and the threat the group posed to the U.S. and the West that has driven the past 15 years of foreign intervention in Afghanistan. Though al-Qaeda has suffered massive losses in Afghanistan, the U.S. intervention has been unsuccessful in completely denying al-Qaeda a safe haven in the country. It has also failed to generate a stable central government capable of maintaining rule of law throughout the country. Despite various metrics that have been used as evidence of isolated successes—such as the number of roads paved and increased cell phone coverage—the ongoing Western intervention in Afghanistan continues to be an enormously expensive endeavor with insufficient returns on the investment. The persistent insecurity throughout Afghanistan—even in locations deemed most secure—was highlighted yet again by a March 8 attack at the Sardar Daud Khan medical complex in Kabul. The attack, which was carried out by the increasingly deadly Islamic State affiliate in the country, killed at least 30 patients and medical staff in what is the premier military hospital in the Afghan capital. There is no denying both the immense human toll of such an attack as well as the larger systemic failure of the Afghan government to protect even its most important and obvious targets. Despite massive efforts to fortify Kabul in a ‘ring of steel,’ the Afghan capital remains extremely vulnerable. The spread of the Islamic State in Afghanistan is not simply a natural consequence of the Taliban insurgency; it represents a new and distinct form of parasite that feeds off of the weaknesses wrought by strife and poor governance. The U.S.-led effort is designed to help Kabul fight an insurgency while combating pockets of terrorism in the form of al-Qaeda. The Islamic State represents a third threat that is not accounted for in the plans; the group is not interested in tapping into local tribal ties for the long-term fight, but rather is intent on killing its way to prominence in a muddled battlefield. The Islamic State is very unlike the Taliban, which is an insurgency, as well as al-Qaeda, which sees long-term association as its key to success. The Islamic State in Afghanistan, as elsewhere, wants to bypass local ties and traditions and kill its way to influence and control. Murdering people in a hospital, something even the Taliban publicly rejects, is a sign of the terror group seeking to coopt an insurgency on its way to a proclaimed caliphate. Though the Islamic State is not nearly as powerful in Afghanistan as it was at its peak in Syria and Iraq, its ambitions and methods are unlikely to be tempered.

soufangroup.com/tsg-intelbrief-the-unique-threat-of-the-islamic-state-in-afghanistan/

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ISIS release pictures of terrorists involved in Kabul military hospital attack

By KHAAMA PRESS - Thu Mar 09 2017

The loyalists of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) terrorist group released the pictures of the terrorists who were involved in a deadly coordinated attack on Kabul’s main military hospital.

The pictures circulated on social media purportedly show the militants are equipped with suicide bombing vests and belts.

The loyalists of the terror group have released the pictures via its media wing, the Amaq news.

The attack on Sardar Mohammad Daud Khan hospital was launched around 9 am local time after one of the militants detonated his explosives near the hospital.

The remaining militants started clashes with the security forces that lasted until later on Wednesday afternoon.

The Ministry of Defense (MoD) officials said at least thirty people were killed and around 50 others were wounded in the attack.

MoD spokesman Gen. Dawlat Waziri confirmed the casualties toll.

According to the officials, the militants had disguised themselves in health workers uniforms to penetrate inside the hospital and indiscriminately open fire on the workers and the patients.

The Taliban group initially rejected their role in the attack and said the group had no plan to carry out an attack on any hospital.

khaama.com/isis-release-pictures-of-terrorists-involved-in-kabul-military-hospital-attack-02356

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India to spend $450 million in housing projects in Afghanistan

By KHAAMA PRESS - Thu Mar 09 2017

The government of India intends to spend around $450 million in housing projects in Afghanistan, it has been reported.

The Ministry of Urban Development and Housing informed regarding India’s intention following  a meeting between the Indian Ambassador Manpreet Vohra Minister Syed Sadat Mansoor Naderi.

Ambassador Vohra said the Ministry of Urban Development and Housing should share their plans and models regarding the housing projects to be constructed in various parts of the country.

The Ministry of Urban Development and Housing said it is busy working on models as part of the national urban development plan to be compatible with the environment and living conditions, natural, social and economic aspects.

This comes as India’s joint secretary for development partnership agreement in ministry of external affairs M Subbarayudu informed regarding the plan to build low-cost houses as he was speaking during a gathering for the first ever training batch of officers from Afghan Revenue Department, at National Academy of Direct Taxes (NADT) last month.

India has played a major role in the reconstruction of Afghanistan since the fall of the Taliban regime and has invested over $2 billion in various reconstruction and infrastructure projects.

The construction of the major Salma Dam, the new Afghan parliament building, Zaranj-Delaram highway, and some other projects are among the key investments India has done so far in the country.

In the meantime, the government of India announced a new aid package of $1 billion for the reconstruction of Afghanistan.

khaama.com/india-to-spend-450-million-in-housing-projects-in-afghanistan-02363

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Pakistan

A Terrorist Is A Terrorist Whether Bearded Or Not: Maulana Fazlur Rehman

March 9th, 2017

SUKKUR: Chief of the Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl Maulana Fazlur Rehman has said that a terrorist is a terrorist whether he is bearded or beardless, wears trousers and shirt or a shalwar kameez, or whether he is a parliamentarian or a common man; if one is a terrorist, he should be given severe punishment.

He said there should be no military courts in a democratic country.

“We have supported military courts only because of the prevailing situation in the country,” he said while addressing an ulema convention held at Manzil Gah Mosque in Sukkur on Wednesday.

He said civil courts had many weaknesses which should be rectified and all institutions were required to perform their duties and provide justice to the common man.

He said despite the fact that Pakistan had become a big military power and there was relative peace in the country as compared to the past, the recent wave of terrorism had created fear among the people.

Restoration and maintenance of peace was the responsibility of the state, he added.

He also criticised PTI chief Imran Khan for his unflattering remarks about foreign cricketers who played in the Pakistan Super League final at Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore recently.

Amongst those who also spoke at the convention included JUI-F Sindh general secretary Maulana Rashid Mehmood Soomro, Abdul Qayoom Halejvi, Siraj Ahmed Amroti and others.

Action against Pakhtuns condemned

JUI-F MNA Maulana Ameer Zaman has condemned the arrest of members of the Pakhtun community by police on what he described as ‘flimsy’ grounds and added that the Sindh government should desist from linking every bearded man with terrorism.

He was speaking to journalists in new Hyderabad city on Wednesday at the residence of a party supporter.

JUI-F leaders Maulana Taj Mohammed Nahiyoon, Azam Jehangiri and others were also present.

Mr Zaman claimed that the Pakhtuns were JUI-F supporters and they were being harassed by police on the ground that they were ‘illegal immigrants’.

“Pakistan has disintegrated because of such environment of hatred. If people of one community are arrested or imprisoned it would lead to hatred, which would not be beneficial for Pakistan,” he added.

“Every man having a beard or wearing a turban is not a terrorist.”

The JUI-F condemned terrorism in all its manifestations. Terrorism could not be linked with Islam, madressahs and ulema, he added.

He said police were arresting underage boys who did not possess national identity cards as they were not adults.

“Such actions are a conspiracy against army. It would sabotage the Zarb-i-Azb and Raddul Fasaad operations.”

The army made major gains in the fight against terrorism, but the police were wasting these gains through their ‘biased’ actions against the Pakhtuns. The police should be refrained from declaring every Pakhtun a terrorist, he added.

He warned that if such acts continued the JUI-F would launch agitation and the government would not be able to face it.

He said that the JUI-F was holding its centenary celebrations in Nowshera which would be attended by the Imam of the grand mosque of Makkah on April 7-9.

dawn.com/news/1319274/a-terrorist-is-a-terrorist-whether-bearded-or-not-fazl

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Pakistan threatens to block social media over 'blasphemy'

AFP | Mar 9, 2017, 07.09 PM IST

ISLAMABAD: A Pakistani court has ordered the government to open an investigation into online "blasphemy", threatening to ban social media networks if they failed to censor content deemed insulting to Islam, lawyers said on Thursday.

The issue came to the fore in January when five secular activists known for their outspoken views against religious extremism and the powerful military were disappeared, presumed abducted by state agencies according to opposition parties and international rights groups.

Four of them were later returned to their families weeks later, but not before they were tarnished by a virulent campaign to paint them enemies of Islam deserving execution.

Judge Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui of the Islamabad high court asked the government to form an investigative committee to report back next Monday over the issue, saying he could order social media sites to be blocked if offending content remained online.

"The judge ordered the government to make a Joint Investigation Team (JIT) with Muslim officials only to look into the blasphemy issue," said advocate Tariq Asad, who represents the hardline Red Mosque which brought the case to court.

Rights groups say the label of blasphemer is liberally applied by religious conservatives in order to silence criticism of extremism.

Even unproven allegations can be fatal. At least 65 people including lawyers, judges and activists have been murdered by vigilantes over blasphemy allegations since 1990, according to recent think tank report.

Pakistan previously banned Facebook for hosting allegedly blasphemous content for two weeks in 2010 while YouTube was unavailable from 2012 to 2016 over an amateur film about the Prophet Muhammad that led to global riots.

But Islamabad later came to agreements with major internet firms to block within Pakistan material that violated its laws, generally once the companies had performed their own cross-checks.

Yasser Latif Hamdani, a lawyer who worked to get YouTube unblocked, said previous web censorship had also originated with court orders and the judge could succeed in implementing a fresh set of bans.

"In this case you would have to apply to the Supreme Court to overrule it. Would they? He's going to couch it in religious language ... It could create a lot of problems if he does that," he said.

timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/pakistan/pakistan-threatens-to-block-social-media-over-blasphemy/articleshow/57559076.cms

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Pakistan rejects Indian concerns over terrorists' movement on LoC

PTI | Mar 9, 2017

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan military on Thursday rejected Indian Army's concerns over the movement of terrorists along the LoC in Jammu and Kashmir and asked it to "share evidence".

Army's director-general of Military Operations (DGMO) Lt Gen AK Bhatia spoke with his Pakistani counterpart and conveyed India's concerns over the movement of terrorists along the LoC.

Pakistan military spokesman Maj Gen Asif Ghafoor confirmed the contact between the officials of the two armies on the hotline.

"Indian concern on terrorists' movement along LoC were strongly rejected during (the) hotline (call).

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Indian concern on terrorists' movement along LOC were strongly rejected during hotline. Indian Army asked to look inward, share evidence.

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Indian Army asked to look inward, share evidence," Ghafoor tweeted.

Indian Army sources had earlier said, "The DGMO spoke to the Pakistan Army DGMO this morning. He expressed concern regarding the movement of terrorists noticed along the Line of Control (LoC)."

The Pakistani DGMO was also informed about the repatriation of two Pakistani nationals apprehended in Uri.

timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/pakistan-rejects-indian-concerns-over-terrorists-movement-on-loc/articleshow/57556019.cms

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Over 22 million Pak children out of schools: Report

PTI | Updated: Mar 9, 2017, 05.09 PM IST

ISLAMABAD: Over 22 million children in Pakistan between the age group of five and 16 are out of schools despite the government's claim of improving their enrolment in educational institutions, according to a report.

The Pakistan Education Statistic 2015-16 report launched on Wednesday by a department of the Ministry of Federal Education and Professional Training disclosed that as many as 44 per cent children (22.6 million) between the age group of five to 16 are still out of school, Dawn reported.

The report said the number of out-of-school children has reduced from last year's figure of 24 million to 22.6 million.

The statistics further said 21 per cent primary schools in the country are being run by a single teacher while 14 per cent have one room.

It said only 30 per cent children remain enrolled from class one till tenth. Balochistan region is home to the highest proportion of out-of-school children followed by the impoverished tribal region along Afghan border.

"As many as 70 per cent children in Balochistan and 58 per cent in Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) are out of school," the report said.

As regards to schools' infrastructure, 40 per cent public sector primary schools were operating without electricity, 28 per cent did not have toilets, 25 per cent were without boundary walls and 29 per cent had no access to drinking water. While 7 per cent schools did not have any building and 43 per cent had unsatisfactory buildings.

"The situation is pathetic; it has been like this for a long time and is getting worse. The government should prioritise the education sector," said Khalid Aftab, former vice chancellor of a government university, Lahore.

"I think, the actual figure of out-of-school children is much higher than 22.6 million; how can we rely on this data," he said.

Speaking at the launching ceremony, minister of state for federal education Balighur Rehman said, the report noted considerable improvement in the Net Enrolment Rate in Primary Education, availability of physical facilities in government schools and reduction in number of out-of-school children (OOSC).

"The number of OOSC in classes one to 12 and the age bracket of five to 16 years has reduced by 3 per cent per annum from 25.96 million in 2012-13 to 22.64 million in 2015-16. Punjab province has outperformed other provinces by managing to reduce the number by 6 per cent per annum from 12.87 million to 9.92 million during the same period," the minister said.

Rehman said the net enrolment rate in primary education had improved at the rate of 4 per cent per annum from 14.65 million in 2012-13 to 17.1 million in 2015-16. Again, Punjab had fared better than other provinces, making a contribution of 6 per cent per annum.

The minister also appreciated improvements in physical facilities in government schools and urged provincial governments to concentrate in this area.

timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/pakistan/over-22-million-pak-children-out-of-schools-report/articleshow/57556866.cms

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NAP implementation needs to be expedited, says military leadership

Mar 9, 2017

A Corps Commanders conference chaired by Chief of Army Staff Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa on Thursday discussed progress on the National Action Plan (NAP) and concluded that its implementation needs to be expedited jointly by all stakeholders for lasting peace and stability, a press release issued by Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) said.

The meeting was held at General Headquarters in Rawalpindi.

Gen Bajwa discussed his last security conference with government officials and apprised the corps commanders of a phased fencing plan for the Pak-Afghan border.

General Bajwa further informed the forum of decisions taken regarding the repatriation of Afghan refugees and police, judicial, seminary and educational reforms in the country.

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 Maj Gen Asif Ghafoor @OfficialDGISPR

CCC.Hostile design 'll be defeated through whole of the nation approach. Sacrifices by resilient people of Pak/forces shall not go waste,IA.

6:33 PM - 9 Mar 2017

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Restarting the execution of death sentences issued by military courts was also discussed, with participants expressing their satisfaction on the performance of the courts, added the ISPR statement.

The military's senior command also discussed the details of the ongoing Operation Raddul Fasaad and appreciated the performance of civilian and military security forces in the successful hosting of the Pakistan Super League Final in Lahore and the overall response by the state’s security apparatus after the recent spate of terror attacks.

General Bajwa reiterated that Raddul Fasaad is a comprehensive, across-the-board operation against terrorists and terrorism and is not focused on any particular race, sect or group.

The Corps Commanders conference also agreed that "hostile agencies" were trying to undo Pakistan's gains in security and development, especially the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor.

Geostrategic concerns and security environment of the country were also discussed with a special focus on internal security, added the military’s media wing.

Continued cease-fire violations along the Line of Control and the Working Boundary were also brought up.

dawn.com/news/1319423/nap-implementation-needs-to-be-expedited-says-military-leadership

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North America

US inviting more than 60 countries for strategy session on countering Islamic State

March 9, 2017

WASHINGTON — The Trump administration has invited more than 60 nations and international organizations to Washington later this month for a strategy session on how to counter the Islamic State after a widely expected U.S.-backed military assault on the extremists' home base.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson will lead a two-day gathering of a global coalition focused on fighting the extremist group militarily and starving it of money, weapons and fighters.

The session is an important signal that the new administration intends to maintain leadership of a sprawling diplomatic effort begun by President Barack Obama in 2014, despite Trump's scathing assessment of Obama's approach to the Islamic State during the presidential campaign.

U.S. officials described plans for the March 22-23 session in interviews with The Washington Post ahead of a planned announcement Thursday at the State Department. The meeting will be the largest since the inaugural session, and comes as the Islamic State appears to be losing ground militarily.

"It tells the coalition partners the U.S. remains incredibly committed to working with them to defeat" the group now loosely based in Raqqa, Syria, a senior U.S. official said.

"The first thing the new administration will do is reinforce the importance of the coalition," which includes both military partners and nations that support diplomatic and humanitarian efforts through donations of money, expertise and other resources, the official said.

The Trump administration had said it would retain Obama's top official in charge of what was formerly called the Global Coalition to Counter ISIL, but had not spelled out its goals for the group of 68 countries and international organizations.

The Trump administration has substituted its preferred acronym, ISIS, in the global coalition's name but left the organization's structure and focus intact. The revised State Department web page for the coalition also stripped out mention of Obama and former secretary of state John F. Kerry, but kept language stressing that "there is a role for every country to play in degrading and defeating" the militants.

"It's consistent with what the president talked about in terms of burden-sharing and asking other countries to carry their load," said one U.S. official who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe the U.S. goals for the meeting ahead of its announcement. "They need to hear that from the new secretary of state," and know that "this was not on autopilot. He decided to do this."

The coalition's future is a question that involves the new politics in Washington and the eroding military power of the Islamic State. Diplomats from some of the countries involved have questioned whether the coalition would be disbanded if the extremist group is routed from Raqaa.

One European diplomat said the expected military assault would leave no clear physical battlefield to confront the extremist group, despite the continued humanitarian and political problems in Iraq and Syria.

But U.S. officials said that Tillerson will stress the importance of keeping the coalition intact and focused on what is likely to be a diffuse but potent extremist threat.

"We expect them to disperse," but not disappear, one official said.

Another official said that although the upcoming meeting is not a fundraising conference, the coalition aims to raise about $1.5 billion for humanitarian and other efforts in the near term.

Trump campaigned on a pledge to expand what he called a weak and indecisive fight against the militants in Syria, Iraq and beyond, but his strategy thus far is not markedly different from Obama's.

A revised Pentagon plan for Raqqa calls for significant U.S. military participation, including increased Special Operations forces, attack helicopters and artillery, according to U.S. officials. It also would send arms to the main Syrian Kurdish and Arab fighting force on the ground.

Although the Americans would not be directly involved in ground combat, the proposal would allow them to work closer to the front lines.

Russia is a not a member of the diplomatic coalition, although it is a dominant military presence in Syria in support of President Bashar Assad's forces.

Trump has raised the prospect of the United States and Russia collaborating to fight Islamic State militants in Syria, and he and Russian President Vladimir Putin discussed possibilities in a phone call in January, according to the White House. But the issue is complicated by political fallout from Russia's alleged interference in the 2016 presidential election, and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis has said that discussion of any broad cooperation is premature.

Another senior U.S. official said this week that cooperation seemed more likely if a Russian-guaranteed cease-fire proved durable.

"There was a lot of this talk a few weeks ago," the official said. "Now it is in abeyance."

When hopes for the cease-fire were high, Tillerson had asked for an economic breakdown of Syria - how the oil, water and agriculture resources were divided in the country. The idea was that the Trump administration might be able to work with the Russians to carve out autonomous territories that could survive with little or no connection to Damascus, that official said.

"You could have regions that would be able to sort of exist, and maybe they would not be in kinetic opposition to the regime. Instead there would be a live-and-let-live scenario."

But as the Russians have been unable to deliver on the cease-fire, such hopes have given way to more practical realities that the Obama administration faced, the official said.

stripes.com/news/us/us-inviting-more-than-60-countries-for-strategy-session-on-countering-islamic-state-1.457811#.WMFkutKGN1s

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The first state lawsuit against Trump’s new Muslim ban just dropped

 

The state of Hawaii on Wednesday became the first state to launch a legal challenge against President Donald Trump’s revised Muslim travel ban, saying in court filings that the executive order is already damaging the state’s tourism industry and its foreign university students.

The state is requesting emergency court intervention in the form of a temporary restraining order barring the ban’s enforcement across the nation, Reuters reported.

The revised order, which was drafted after the first was blocked by legal challenges from every corner, is slated to go into effect on March 16. It does not apply to permanent legal residents or travelers who already have visas. Iraq was also dropped from the list of Middle Eastern countries subjected to a 90-day ban on travel to the US, leaving six countries affected. The order also temporarily shutters the US refugee program.

Hawaii’s attorney general Douglas Chin told ABC News that battling the ban is especially important to the people of his state, a diverse group that remembers the xenophobia that fueled the internment of Japanese-American residents in the state during World War II.

“Hawaii is special in that it has always been non-discriminatory in both its history and constitution,” Chin said. “Twenty percent of the people are foreign-born, 100,000 are non-citizens and 20 percent of the labor force is foreign-born.”

The plaintiff in the state’s case is Ismail Elshikh, an Egyptian-born US citizen and iman at the Muslim Association of Hawaii whose mother-in-law resides in Syria, according to court filings.

“This second Executive Order is infected with the same legal problems as the first Order,” the state wrote in the filings, as quoted by Reuters. The order subjects Elshikh and other Muslims to “discrimination and second-class treatment.”

fusion.net/story/391022/douglas-chin-trump-muslim-ban-hawaii-lawsuit/

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Hawaii first state to challenge new Trump travel ban

AFP | Mar 9, 2017

WASHINGTON: Hawaii has become the first US state to file suit against President Donald Trump's amended travel order banning entry of people from six mainly Muslim countries and suspending refugee resettlement.

The state's attorney general argued late Wednesday that while the new order features changes to address complaints raised by courts that blocked the first travel ban, the new order is pretty much the same as the first one.

The far-flung Pacific state is seeking a nationwide restraining order blocking implementation of the order Trump signed on Monday.

The new order suspends refugee admissions for 120 days and halts the granting of new visas for travelers from Syria, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Yemen and Sudan. It explicitly exempts Iraqis, who were on the first list, and legal permanent residents and valid visa holders.

"Nothing of substance has changed: There is the same blanket ban on entry from Muslim-majority countries (minus one)," state attorney general Doug Chin said in a statement.

"The courts did not tolerate the Administration's last attempt to hoodwink the judiciary, and they should not countenance this one," Chin wrote.

Trump's first order sparked a legal, political and logistical furor.

There was chaos at major airports and mass protests while several district courts moved to block its implementation and lawmakers expressed opposition.

The troubled rollout also dominated the first weeks of the new administration, leaving many with the impression that it was badly planned and badly implemented.

Polls show American public opinion is deeply divided on the issue. Most indicate a slight majority of voters opposed, with strong support among Trump's political base.

The Republican president criticized a court order suspending the ban as "a very bad decision, very bad for the safety and security of our country. The rollout was perfect."

But he has now stepped away from a promise to challenge the matter in the courts. The second order repeals the first, spelling the end of any pending legal proceedings.

Whatever the legal outcome, Trump's new ban is likely to polarize opinion further and be immensely popular with his core supporters.

timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/us/hawaii-first-state-to-challenge-new-trump-travel-ban/articleshow/57552932.cms

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UN condemns terrorist attack on Kabul hospital

March 9, 2017

(AhlulBayt News Agency) - The United Nations mission in Afghanistan has condemned terrorist attack on a military hospital in Kabul for which the ISIS claimed responsibility.

“This egregious and morally reprehensible attack targeted people at their most vulnerable, while they were receiving treatment in the hospital, and also targeted the medical staff caring for them,” said Pernille Kardel, the acting head of the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), in a new release.

“This cowardly attack reflects a fundamental rejection of the most basic principles of humanity,” Ms. Kardel, who also serves as the UN Secretary-General's Deputy Special Representative for that country. “Without question, it amounts to an atrocity, and the perpetrators must be held accountable.”

According to UNAMA, Sardar Mohammad Daud Khan Hospital treats sick and wounded members of the armed forces and their family members, and is the largest military medical facility in Afghanistan.

The release said that attackers reportedly disguised as medical doctors detonated a suicide vehicle-borne improvised explosive device at the entrance gate to the hospital, after which several attackers armed with AK-47s, grenades and suicide vests entered the facility. The armed attackers proceeded to target patients and medical workers before Afghan security forces ended the assault. The number of civilian casualties is reportedly high.

UNAMA stresses that attacks on hospitals are violations of international humanitarian law that may amount to war crimes, urging all warring parties to respect and protect all medical workers, clinics and hospitals.

UNAMA expresses its condolences to the families and colleagues of those killed in the attack and wishes a speedy recovery to those injured.

Afghanistan has been in protracted conflict for more than three decades, which has seen an ever-growing number of civilians killed and poverty reduction and development efforts seriously hampered.

en.abna24.com/news/central-asia-subcontinent/un-condemns-terrorist-attack-on-kabul-hospital_816644.html

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Indiana-Based Muslim group criticizes revised travel ban order

March 9, 2017

(AhlulBayt News Agency) - An Indiana-based Muslim group in the USA is criticizing the scaled-back version of President Donald Trump’s ban on many foreign travelers that still bars new visas for people from six Muslim-majority countries and temporarily shuts down America’s refugee program, according to media reports.

The Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), based in the Indianapolis suburb of Plainfield, said the new ban does nothing to protect the U.S. and “punishes the vulnerable, particularly immigrants and refugees.”

A statement issued by the society says that the ban harms the U.S. economy by denying companies and academic institutions with talented scholars and employees. It says the ban also serves to legitimize Islamophobia and xenophobia that has led to recent violence against Muslims, Hindus, and Sikhs.

The society claims to be the largest and oldest Islamic umbrella organization in North America.

en.abna24.com/news/america/indiana-based-muslim-group-criticizes-revised-travel-ban-order_816654.html

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India

Lucknow encounter: ATS performed admirably, let's not overplay terrorist's Islamic State connection

Mar, 09 2017

#Anti terrorism squad#Ats#Gujarat anti-terrorism squad#Inmyopinion#Isis#Islamic-state#Lucknow#Uttar pradesh

On 8 March, the Anti-Terrorism Squad of the Uttar Pradesh police neutralised Saifullah alias Ikrama, a dreaded terrorist believed to be inspired by the ISIS. Saifullah belonged to the Islamic State's Khorasan module, which is thought to be behind terror acts in India, Pakistan and Afghanistan, although its primary target remains India.

But for the timely intervention of the Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS), Saifullah and his associates could have continued to spread their tentacles and perhaps caused unimaginable devastation.

It was disappointing to read in one of the prominent national dailies on Thursday that a senior official of the Union Home Ministry raised questions about the encounter, doubting whether the terrorists were really linked to the Islamic State. While it is important to establish which terror outfit the latest module was affiliated to, we must remember that a terrorist is a terrorist.

It is naive to think that the Islamic State is dormant in India. It's a common knowledge now that Islamic State has already cast a profound spell on some Indian youth, misled through radicalisation programmes often dictated from Syria.

One does not need a Baghdadi to indoctrinate a segment of the Indian youth who have, unfortunately, gravitated towards Islamic State ideology.

We have numerous cases of National Investigation Agency-led action busting pro- Islamic State modules in states such as Maharashtra, Karnataka, Telangana, Kerala and Madhya Pradesh. Social media is playing an important role in indoctrinating youngsters.

Thanks to several pro- Islamic State Twitter handles, it is easy for the youth to fall under the spell of radicals. This help to churn out several Saifullahs who'd prefer attaining 'shahadat' rather than surrendering to the police and divulging their structural and operational details. Such is the grit and commitment of these cadres.

This argument is buttressed by the fact that Saifullah, despite being exhorted to surrender, did not oblige. Displaying rare patience, ATS officials also managed to get Saifulla's brother to prevail upon him to surrender. However, all their efforts were in vain. The point is, the ATS only went ahead with its operation after all other alternatives were exhausted.

Reverting to the questions being raised by an official in the Home Ministry, it is also alleged that "officials in both states should have exercised restraint before airing premature comments ...". The ministry has recommended a probe by the National Investigation Agency (NIA), which is fine, but to appeal for restraint has a demoralising impact for state forces, especially when the Uttar Pradesh ATS is relentlessly and decisively neutralising terror threats.

As an overseeing apex government body, the Ministry of Home Affairs should exhibit vision, closely coordinate and guide states to ensure that anti-terror operations are sending the right message to the remaining terrorists, thus keeping them demoralised. Unwarranted statements will only weaken police resolve .

Islamic State-inspired local terror groups are striking up almost all over the world. Any footprint in India should not come as a surprise but a wake-up call. The question is, are we simply seeing a trailer before the real movie unfolds?

Paris, Brussels, Istanbul, Kabul and a host of other places have witnessed several attacks recently. There is hardly any time to assess which group is responsible for what or if they are linked to Islamic State or not. Action should take precedence over such a debate.

Also, the morale of the forces engaged (the UP Anti-Terrorism Squad in this instance) must take top priority. Her are two indicators of how challenging this task was: the operation was ed by a senior Inspector General-level officer and it lasted for over thirteen hours.

Patience and the use of all possible options to catch the terrorist alive were employed. Thakurganj is a communally-sensitive area and the police had the additional responsibility to ensure there was no collateral damage or a flare-up. During election time, politicians are known to use these situations to polarise the populace and make political gain.

The UP police, keeping all this in mind, exercised tremendous restraint and displayed true professionalism. The operation started on the eve of the final phase of UP elections. Imagine the pressure the cops were under.

Top officers were reeling under 'threats' of the encounter being declared fake. It was a tough call but in the larger interest, the mission was accomplished despite the looming threat of the issue being politicised.

A quick glance at the profile of Saifullah and his cadres would reveal that terrorists under one Atiq Muzaffar were using Lucknow as their headquarters for northern India. Profiles of other associates are available with the intelligence agencies.

Although Saifullah's associates look determined to do harm, the Uttar Pradesh ATS has struck hard. It is expected that this would cause some deterrence, at least for the foreseeable future and minimise the number of possible terror strikes.

In the meanwhile, let things remain apolitical. Let the National Investigation Agency carry out an independent and professional probe.

This is the time to jointly fight terror— Islamic State or non- Islamic State—anything else is of merely academic interest.

The writer is a retired IPS officer of UP cadre and a security analyst. He is also a Senior Fellow with India Police Foundation

firstpost.com/india/lucknow-encounter-ats-performed-admirably-lets-not-overplay-the-islamic-state-connection-3324266.html

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Bhopal-Ujjain passenger train explosion: Arms, passports found in house, 7th arrest made

Written by Manish Sahu | Lucknow | Updated: March 9, 2017 5:42 am

Arms, ammunition and other items recovered after Saifullah was killed in Lucknow. PTI

A suspect allegedly linked to an explosion on board the Bhopal-Ujjain passenger train Tuesday was shot dead in the early hours of Wednesday by Uttar Pradesh anti-terrorism squad personnel on the outskirts of Lucknow where he had holed up in a house for hours. The bomb squad had to be called after they noticed a wire wrapped around Saifullah, the suspect who hailed from Kanpur. Six others were arrested Tuesday — three in Pipariya in Hoshangabad district of Madhya Pradesh and three in Kanpur — for their alleged involvement in the train explosion that left 10 persons injured.

Lucknow Attack: Suspected Terrorists Father Cries Foul, Says All Allegations Are False

A seventh arrest was made in Auraiya on Wednesday. Police identified him as one Shailendra Yadav and claimed he was a weapon-supplier. Additional DGP (Law and Order) Daljit Singh Chaudhary said Saifullah and other members of the group were radicalised online by Islamic State propaganda and had formed a self-proclaimed IS outfit. He said they have found no evidence so far of members receiving funds from any source and they appeared to have arranged funds on their own.

Madhya Pradesh ATS SP Pranay Nagvanshi said the module was formed a year ago by Atif Muzaffar alias Al Kasim — one of the three arrested in Pipariya — and was named ISIS Khorasan. He said the group tested a timer-bomb in an open field in Kanpur in August-September last year.

UP DGP Javeed Ahmad too said Atif was the head of the group. The UP ATS, which shot dead Saifullah, said he had rented the house in Haji Colony and was staying there with Atif, Danish Akhtar alias Jaffar and Syed Mir Hussain alias Humza who were held in Pipariya. The house belongs to Badshah Khan of Malihabad who works in Dubai.

In Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan said: “We have proof that the explosion was carried out by ISIS-inspired operatives.’’ He said the men shared a photograph of the bag, containing the pipe bomb and kept on the luggage rack of the train, with a handler in Syria. Chouhan said the three men reached Bhopal Tuesday morning from Lucknow by the Pushpak Express and boarded a Pipariya-bound bus after planting the IED in the Bhopal-Ujjain Express. From Pipariya, they had planned to head back to Lucknow via Jabalpur and Allahabad.

Train suspect shot dead was named last year by member of IS-inspired cell, police lost trail

During a search of the house in Lucknow, police found eight country-made pistols, four knives, 632 live cartridges, 71 empty shells, 45 gm gold, three mobile phones, bank passbook, ATM card, PAN card in the name of Atif Muzaffar, four SIM cards, a motorcycle, two mini walkie-talkie sets, a bottle filled with iron balls, two bottles of gunpowder, passports belonging to Atif, Danish and Saifullah, hand-written literature, Rs 1.5 lakh cash, some Riyal and a black cloth banner similar to an ISIS flag.

Chaudhary said the ATS tried to capture Saifullah alive and made several attempts. They even made his brother Khalid speak to him on the phone by taking it close to the room where he was holed up. But he did not respond.

The ATS later drilled a hole in the roof and threw chilli bombs to force him out. Chaudhary said Saifullah opened fire. Around 3 am Wednesday, the ATS shot him dead.

PTI adds: SP (Kanpur City) Somen Verma said Saifullah’s family was contacted but they refused to take the body. He said a team of UP ATS left from Kanpur for Lucknow with two other suspects around 3 am for further questioning.

On Tuesday, police arrested Mohammed Faisal Khan from Jajmau and his brother Mohammed Imran from a leather factory in Unnao. Fakre Alam alias Rishu of Etawah was the third person arrested. Police had also apprehended one Shakeel alias Ajgar from the Rehmani market in Kanpur but he escaped after the shopkeepers there started protesting.

indianexpress.com/article/india/bhopal-ujjain-passenger-train-explosion-arms-passports-found-in-saifullah-house-7th-arrest-made-4561234/

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No evidence so two Pakistani schoolkids arrested for Uri strike are set free

The Indian Express had, in December, first published evidence suggesting the two were Class X students at the Shaheen Model School in Muzaffarabad who had accidentally strayed across the Line of Control, and were not terrorists.

Written by Praveen Swami | New Delhi | Published:March 9, 2017

Militants attacked an army base in Kashmir (Source: File/Express Photo By Shuaib Masoodi)

TWO Pakistani teenagers named in an Indian government dossier as having facilitated the “infiltration of a group of four Jaish-e-Muhammad cadre who carried out the Uri army camp attack” are being returned home after the National Investigation Agency informed a court on Wednesday that it had no evidence to prosecute them. Faisal Husain Awan, a resident of Potha Jandgran near the village of Koomi Kote in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, and his school-friend Ahsan Khursheed, from Khilayana Khurd in Muzaffarabad’s Hattian Bala tehsil, were handed over to the Indian Army, which is expected to hand them over to Pakistani authorities.

The Indian Express had, in December, first published evidence suggesting the two were Class X students at the Shaheen Model School in Muzaffarabad who had accidentally strayed across the Line of Control, and were not terrorists.

NIA officials said they had exercised their authority under Section 169 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, which empowers police officials to release arrested individuals if no evidence is found against them. The NIA also informed the designated court in Jammu of its decision. Ghulam Mustafa Tabassum, Awan’s brother, said both teenagers’ families were waiting to receive their wards home but — at the time of writing — were unaware of precisely where they would be handed over.

“How can I tell you what it has been like to see our mother start to weep and scream every night around 2 am or 3 am when her medication wears off,” he said. “People gather around her to comfort her, but they can do nothing but cry, either.”

The two juveniles were arrested by the Indian Army on September 21, three days after the attack which claimed the lives of 19 soldiers. Three days later, an Army spokesperson said the two were “Pakistan-occupied Kashmir nationals who have been working for Jaish-e-Muhammad terror outfit”.

In an e-mail to the The Indian Express, the Army had said this determination was based on what it described as “spot interrogation”. Both juveniles, sources familiar with the investigation said, offered varying testimonies confessing their guilt in the first days after being handed over to the NIA, some throwing up disturbing evidence of coercion. In one statement to a woman doctor working for the Central Reserve Police Force, the two claimed that they had participated in the attack itself, providing details of how incendiary substances were used to set the tents at the 12 Brigade on fire.

Then, in an October 3 statement, the NIA claimed Awan identified one of the four slain terrorists who attacked the 12 Brigade headquarters as Hafiz Ahmad, who he said was the son of Feroze, in the village of Dharbang, west of Murree.

Later, however, the NIA said that it was the Lashkar-e-Taiba which was behind the attack — not, as initially claimed, the Jaish-e-Muhammad — based, in part, on Global Positioning System data retrieved from a set used by one of the attackers and cipher-matrixes they used. The Muridke-based terrorist group had held funeral rites for one of the attackers, as first reported by this newspaper.

indianexpress.com/article/india/no-evidence-so-two-pakistani-schoolkids-arrested-for-uri-strike-are-set-free-4561223/

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Hyderabad IS trackers traced jihadis to Lucknow lair

Bharti Jain | Mar 9, 2017

NEW DELHI: Were it not for a small group of intelligence experts in Telangana dedicated to tracking individuals and groups inspired by the so-called Islamic State, central agencies and Madhya Pradesh police might still have been scrambling to track down the terrorists behind the Ujjain train blast.

The Telangana unit had been closely scouring the web, following the suspects who were arrested from MP and Uttar Pradesh, as well as Saifullah who was killed by the UP ATS in Lucknow, well before they executed their terror plan. The team missed the actualisation of the terror plans narrowly, defeated by the lag in decoding encryption.

"All the inputs regarding identity and location of the radicalised, IS-inspired suspects came from the intelligence-cum-IT experts of Telangana police, which immediately shared these for further action. Unfortunately, though they busted the module, they could not get a sense of its terror plan in real time. This happens sometimes as it is not always possible for intel to immediately decipher the encrypted online conversations," said a senior intelligence officer.

But as soon as the blast occurred, the Hyderabad-based experts were able to pinpoint the location of the suspects based on phone intercepts and online activity, enabling MP and UP cops to nab them swiftly.

The intelligence wing of the Telangana police has emerged a pioneer in tracking IS activity regularly inputing the IB and RAW to track radicalised "lone-wolf" operatives as well as modules in touch with foreign-based handlers. This task is being carried out by other state police forces and central agencies too but the Telangana team seems to have become adept at the task.

Sources said the Telangana 'IS' trackers are a small, motivated lot, who are provided the resources as well as financial incentives to deliver. They often travel abroad, mostly to Gulf countries, to track members of the Indian diaspora working as head-hunters for IS or carrying out online radicalisation. "Many IS operatives were deported to India after months of tracking by these experts, who would then pass off this information to RAW," said a central government officer who has worked closely with the Telangana police.

timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/hyderabad-is-trackers-traced-jihadis-to-lucknow-lair/articleshow/57546414.cms

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J&K DG warns terrorists to desist from attacking the families of police personnel

M Saleem Pandit | Updated: Mar 9, 2017

SRINAGAR: Director General of Jammu and Kashmir police, S P Vaid, on Wednesday warned terrorists to desist from attacking the families of police personnel in Kashmir valley.

DG Vaid said: "Don't bring in families in this conflict, you too have families. If you harass our families we will do same to your families."

The remarks came a day after some terrorists ransacked the house of a police officer and asked the families to tell the officer to quit the job else face the consequences.

About ten militants carrying automatic rifles on Saturday barged in to the residential house of a Dy SP at Shopian, who is posted in Srinagar, and smashed electronic appliances besides household items.

The intruders even asked the family members to convey their message to the officer to quit the job. "They told us the police were destroying property of the militants and of those who provide them shelter, and this attack was in reaction to that," said a family member of the police officer.

Speaking to TOI, Vaid said: "The families should not be brought into this conflict. If we (police) start doing this to militants' families, how they will feel?"

Hizb module busted: The Jammu and Kashmir police on Wednesday busted a Hizb-ul-Mujahideen module by arresting its three suspected members in Bemina area of Srinagar.

The three suspects - identified as Reyaz Ahmad Wani, Ikhlaq Ahmad Khanday and Tawseeul-Nabi, all residents of Kishtwar in Jammu - were apprehended during a police check at Bemina Bypass Crossing. The police recovered two pistols, two pistol Magazines, 20 rounds, four grenades, one wireless set and a packet of explosive substance, the police spokesman said. During preliminary investigation the trio said they were working with Jehangir, an active militant in Kishtwar, the police said.

timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/jk-dg-warns-terrorists-to-desist-from-attacking-the-families-of-police-personnel/articleshow/57545837.cms

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Arab World

Suspected coalition raids kill 23 civilians in north Syria

AFP | Mar 9, 2017

BEIRUT: The toll in air strikes thought to have been conducted by a US-led coalition on a jihadist-held northern Syrian village on Thursday has risen to 23 civilians killed, a monitor said.

"The raids hit the village of Al-Matab after midnight and were likely carried out by the coalition," said Rami Abdel Rahman of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

The Observatory earlier reported a toll of 14 people killed.

At least eight children and six women were among the dead in Al-Matab, held by the Islamic State group.

The village lies near a key road linking Raqa -- IS's de facto capital -- to Deir Ezzor city, the capital of the adjacent oil-rich province.

On Monday, fighters from the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces cut off that route in a bid to encircle the jihadists in Raqa.

The US-led coalition has been backing the SDF's drive for Raqa with air power and hundreds of special operations forces as advisers.

Abdel Rahman said SDF fighters advancing on IS jihadists in Al-Matab, which lies about 55 kilometres southeast of Raqa.

The SDF, an alliance of Kurdish and Arab fighters, launched its offensive for Raqa in early November and has since seized swathes of territory in northern Syria.

But it is despised by Ankara, who condemns the group's dominant component -- the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) -- as "terrorists" because of its links to an outlawed Kurdish militia in Turkey.

The profusion of forces operating in Syria -- particularly in its fractured north -- has led to a deeply complex battlefield and tensions between different parties.

The US-led coalition fighting IS in Syria and Iraq said earlier this month that its raids had unintentionally killed at least 220 civilians since 2014 in both countries.

More than 310,000 people have been killed since Syria's conflict erupted in March 2011 with protests against the rule of President Bashar al-Assad.

timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/middle-east/suspected-coalition-raids-kill-23-civilians-in-north-syria/articleshow/57557701.cms

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Twin suicide bombing kills 26 at a wedding north of Baghdad

AP | Mar 9, 2017

BAGHDAD: A twin suicide bombing struck a village wedding north of Baghdad as the wedding party gathered in the evening hours, killing at least 26 people and wounding dozens, a government spokesman said on Thursday.

The attack, which took place late yesterday, began when one suicide bomber wearing an explosives-laden belt walked into the wedding party assembled in an open area in Hajaj, near the city of Tikrit, about 130 kilometers from Baghdad.

The bomber detonated his explosives, only to be followed by the second attacker who blew himself up when people had gathered to help the victims of the first explosion, provincial spokesman Ali al-Hamdani told The Associated Press.

He said 26 people were killed, most of them children, and up to 67 were wounded.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack but suspicion is likely to fall on the Islamic State group, which has staged similar attacks in the past. The wedding party was for a family that had been displaced from Iraq's western Anbar province and that is affiliated with a major anti-IS tribe there.

IS had captured Tikrit during its blitz across Iraq in the summer of 2014 when the Sunni militant group seized nearly a third of the country's territory. Iraqi forces drove the militants from the city in April 2015, but IS has since then managed to launch deadly attacks in and around Tikrit.

IS has also used large-scale attacks in an effort to distract from its losses as Iraqi forces battle to retake all of Mosul, the country's second-largest city, from the group.

Iraqi forces in Mosul have over the past week fought their way into the heart of the western part of the city, separated by the Tigris River from the eastern sector, capturing a government complex and the city's antiquities museum where IS had destroyed priceless relics.

Mosul also fell to IS in the summer of 2014, along with Tikrit and large swaths of northern and western Iraq, but now remains the militant group's last significant urban area in the country.

timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/middle-east/twin-suicide-bombing-kills-26-at-a-wedding-north-of-baghdad/articleshow/57555586.cms

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Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi has fled Mosul: US official

March 9, 2017

(AhlulBayt News Agency) - ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi has fled Mosul and has apparently delegated tactical control of the battle for the city to local commanders, a US defense official said Wednesday.

The official said the elusive leader, who appeared in public in Mosul in July 2014 to proclaim a "caliphate," fled the former ISIS bastion some time before Iraqi security forces surrounded the city during an offensive to retake it.

"He was in Mosul at some point before the offensive. We know he's been there," the official told reporters.

"He left before we isolated Mosul and Tal Afar," a town to the west of the city, the official added.

Baghdadi is not believed to be exercising any kind of tactical influence on how the Mosul fight will play out, the official said.

"He probably gave broad strategic guidance and has left it to battlefield commanders."

IS has lost most of the land it once held in Iraq and Syria but hopes to cling to scraps of a self-declared caliphate, the official said.

ISIS now is looking beyond the seemingly inevitable loss of their strongholds of Mosul in Iraq and Raqa in Syria.

"I don't think they have given up on their vision of their caliphate yet," the official said, noting ISIS hopes to hold on to parts of eastern Syria and western Iraq.

"They still believe they can function and are still making plans to continue to function as a pseudo-state centered in the Euphrates River valley."

In Mosul, Iraqi security forces have recaptured the eastern side of the city and are making gradual progress into the western side in a bloody fight.

ISIs terrorists realize their days are numbered in Mosul and, despite having spent two years building defensive measures in Raqa, also understand they will lose that bastion too, the official said.

"Logically, any of those leaders would look at that situation and say from a military perspective this may be not be tenable for us to hold," the official said.

"Raqa would probably not be the final battle against ISIS... There is still ISIS in the rest of the Euphrates river valley downstream that will have to be dealt with."

About 15,000 ISIS fighters remain in Iraq and Syria, including some 2,500 in Mosul and the neighboring town of Tal Afar and as many as 4,000 still in Raqa, the official said.

en.abna24.com/news/middle-east/abu-bakr-al-baghdadi-has-fled-mosul-us-official_816645.html

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Iraq: US Forces Evacuate ISIL Commanders from Western Mosul

 

TEHRAN (FNA)- Commander of Asa'eb al-Haq Movement affiliated to the Iraqi popular forces of Hashd al-Shaabi said that the US forces have carried out a rapid heliborne operation and evacuated two commanders of ISIL terrorists from Western Mosul in Northern Iraq.

Javad al-Talaybawi said that the US forces carried out the heliborne operation in one of the Western neighborhoods of Western Mosul, evacuating two senior ISIL commanders to an unknown location after the commanders came under siege by Iraqi government forces in intensified clashes in Western Mosul.

"Americans' support and assistance to the ISIL is done openly to save their regional plan in a desperately attempt," al-Talaybawi underlined.

Al-Talaybawi had warned late in February that the US forces tried hard to evacuate ISIL commanders from the besieged city of Tal Afar West of Mosul.

After photos surfaced in the media displaying US forces assisting ISIL terrorists, al-Talaybawi said that the Americans were planning to take ISIL commanders away from Tal Afar that is under the Iraqi forces' siege.

In the meantime, member of Iraqi Parliament's Security and Defense Commission Iskandar Watut called for a probe into photos and footages displaying US planes airdropping aid packages over ISIL-held regions.

Watut further added that we witnessed several times that US planes dropped packages of food stuff, arms and other necessary items over ISIL-held regions, and called on Iraq's air defense to watch out the US-led coalition planes.

Eyewitnesses disclosed at the time that the US military planes helped the ISIL terrorists in Tal Afar region West of Mosul.

"We saw several packages dropped out of a US army aircraft in the surrounding areas of the city of Tal Afar in Western Nineveh province and six people also came out of a US plane in the ISIL-controlled areas," the Arabic-language media quoted a number of eyewitnesses as saying.

Tal Afar city has been under the siege of the Iraqi volunteer forces (Hashd al-Shaabi) for about two months now and the efforts by the ISIL terrorists to help their comrades besieged in Tal Afar have failed so far.

The news comes as the Iraqi army had reported that the US air force has been helping the ISIL terrorists in areas controlled by the terrorist group.

The Iraqi army says that the US army is trying to transfer the ISIL commanders trapped in areas besieged by the Iraqi army to safe regions.        

en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13951219000621

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Saudi-led coalition used cluster bombs in Yemen: Amnesty

 

Amnesty International on Thursday accused the Saudi-led Arab coalition battling rebels in Yemen of using banned cluster munitions in raids on residential areas.

The Brazilian-manufactured munitions were fired in a February 15 attack on three residential districts and agricultural land in Saada province of northern Yemen, a stronghold of the Shiite Huthi rebels, it said in a statement.

Two people were wounded in the attack, said Amnesty, which has also reported that the coalition used cluster munitions in October 2015 and May of last year.

The coalition “absurdly justifies its use of cluster munitions by claiming it is in line with international law, despite concrete evidence of the human cost to civilians caught up in the conflict”, said Lynn Maalouf, research director at Amnesty's Beirut regional office.

“Cluster munitions are inherently indiscriminate weapons that inflict unimaginable harm on civilian lives,” she said.

Amnesty called for Brazil “to join the Convention on Cluster Munitions and for Saudi Arabia and coalition members to stop all use of cluster munition”.

Separately, Human Rights Watch in December accused the coalition of firing Brazilian-made rockets containing the outlawed munitions near two schools in Saada, killing two civilians and wounding six including a child.

The December 6 came a day after Saudi Arabia joined the US and Brazil in abstaining from a UN General Assembly vote that overwhelmingly endorsed an international ban on cluster bomb use.

The weapons can contain dozens of smaller bomblets that disperse over large areas, often continuing to kill and maim civilians long after they are dropped.

The Saudi-led coalition, which has come under repeated criticism over civilian casualties in Yemen, acknowledged in December it had made “limited use” of British-made cluster bombs but said it had stopped using them.

The conflict in Yemen has left more than 7,400 dead and 40,000 wounded since the coalition intervened on the government's side in March 2015, according to the UN.

dawn.com/news/1319404/saudi-led-coalition-used-cluster-bombs-in-yemen-amnesty

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Warplanes bomb east of Damascus after truce declared there: Monitor

Reuters | Updated: Mar 8, 2017

BEIRUT: Warplanes bombed a rebel-held area east of Damascus on Wednesday where Russia had declared a ceasefire less than 24 hours earlier, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported.

There was no immediate comment from the Syrian military.

Russia's Defence Ministry said on Tuesday that a ceasefire had been agreed in Eastern Ghouta in Syria's Damascus province until March 20. The Observatory said air strikes and artillery had hit three towns in the Eastern Ghouta.

timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/middle-east/warplanes-bomb-east-of-damascus-after-truce-declared-there-monitor/articleshow/57536937.cms

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Envoy: Iraqi Forces to Liberate Entire Mosul Soon

 

TEHRAN (FNA)- The Iraqi security forces will soon capture the remaining parts of Western Mosul that are still under ISIL control, Iraq's Ambassador to Russia Haidar Hadi said Thursday.

"We hope that ISIL will be defeated in a very short time," Hadi told Sputnik, adding, "We hope to complete the operation quickly because ISIL militants' morale is very low now."

He added that the progress of the offensive was complicated by militants using civilians as a human shield.

"We are worried about the civilians' lives, so we are acting with much care," the diplomat pointed out.

The city of Mosul has been occupied by ISIL since 2014. The operation to retake it began on October 17, 2016 and resulted in the liberation of Mosul’s Eastern part this January, but fighting continues in the city's Western areas. The operation to liberate it started on February 19.

"Two years ago, ISIL governed 40 percent of Iraqi territory. Now, only 15 percent of the Mosul province is in its hands," Hadi said at a Rossiya Segodnya International Information Agency press conference.

en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13951219000914

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Tens of Terrorists Killed, Injured in Syrian Armed Forces' Attacks in Hama, Idlib

 

TEHRAN (FNA)- Syrian Army troops and Air Force targeted again the positions and movements of ISIL and Al-Nusra Front (recently renamed to Fatah al-Sham Front) in Northern Hama and Southern Idlib, killing and wounding over 70 terrorists.

The army aircraft hit ISIL's concentration centers in the villages of Albu'izeh, Qalib al-Thowar and al-Lubideh in Hama, killing and wounding over 40 terrorists and destroying seven military vehicles equipped with 23mm machineguns.

In the meantime, the army units targeted terrorists' positions in al-Latamina town in Northern Hama, killing six terrorists and destroying an arms depot and several vehicles.

The army soldiers also targeted Al-Nusra's positions in Kafr Zita town and al-Sayad village in Northern Hama, killing 13 terrorists and wounding 15 others.

Local sources in Northern Hama said that six terrorists were killed and seven more were wounded in an army attack in al-Masaseneh village East of Morek town in Northern Hama.

Meanwhile, the army soldiers hit Al-Nusra's centers hard near the town of Khan Sheikhoun in Southern Idlib, killing five terrorists.

In relevant developments on Tuesday, the army soldiers targeted Al-Nusra's positions in al-Tamanna town in Northern Hama, killing a number of terrorists and destroying three military vehicles.

In the meantime, the army units targeted terrorists' positions and movements in Taybat al-Imam and Lahaya towns, killing at least 15 militants.

Elsewhere in the Northern part of the same province, other units of the army targeted and destroyed a command post of the terrorists in Tal Hawash town.

In the meantime, the army men launched massive strikes on terrorists' positions in al-Barqousiyeh, Abu Habilat, Um Mil, Qalib, al-Thor and Salba towns and villages in Hama province, killing over 30 militants.

Informed sources said that the army aircraft also bombed the position of Al-Nusra near Tal Mardikh town in Eastern Idlib, killing or wounding six militants.       

en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13951219000289

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Syrian Army Deploys in More Kurdish Villages in Northeastern Aleppo

 

TEHRAN (FNA)- Local sources reported on Thursday that the Syrian Army has deployed troops in several villages previously controlled by the Kurdish forces of the Manbij Military Council following the recent Russian-brokered agreement with Damascus.

The sources said that the army units have entered the villages of Jubb al-hamra and al-Wahihij to maintain security to the regions in Manbij that are held by the Kurdish forces against a possible attack by the Turkey-led Euphrates Shield Operation militants.

Jubb al-hamra and al-Wahihij were previously under the control of the Manbij Military Council forces.

The sources pointed out that the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) left Jubb al-hamra and al-Wahihij and other villages in Manbij region after the Syrian soldiers deployed and took charge.

The Kurdish forces are expected to hand over more villages to the Syrian army West of Manbij in the next few days. 

A source in the Manbij Military Council said on Monday that several villages controlled by the Kurdish forces in Northeastern Aleppo were handed over to the Syrian Army troops.

The Arabic language desk of Sputnik quoted the source as saying that the Manbij Military Council delivered control of six villages to the Syrian army troops.

Sputnik added that the villages were in contact line with forces of the Turkey-led Euphrates Shield Operation in Manbij.

The news agency said that the six villages had been seized back from the ISIL during the Al-Bab liberation operation.

The villages are located some 22km to West of Manbij.

Sputnik went on to say that the US army deployed its forces and equipment in Manbij city, raising its flag in the city.

The military council of Manbij announced in a statement last Thursday that the Kurdish forces would surrender the villages bordering the areas occupied by the Turkey-backed Euphrates Shield Operation militants to the Syrian army.

Then, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu on Thursday announced that his government called on the US to evacuate the Kurds from Manbij in Aleppo province immediately, rejecting the agreement between the Kurds and the Damascus government.

Cavusoglu referred to the Euphrates Shield Operation in Northern Syria by the Turkey-backed militants, and told reporters that the Turkish forces did not move towards Manbij but they would start operations in the region soon.

Noting that the Turkish military men were ready to attack the Kurds in Manbij, he said that Ankara did not want Washington to continue support for the Kurds and it had several times warned the US that the Turkish forces would attack the Kurds soon.

Cavusoglu also said that Ankara and Moscow  agreed to prevent clashes between the Syrian government forces and the Turkey-backed opposition (the Free Syrian Army militants), claiming that both of them pursue the same goal of annihilating the ISIL.

Elsewhere, he stood up to an agreement between the SDF and Russia to surrender the villages controlled by the Kurds in Manbij to the Syrian government.

His remarks came as the military council of Manbij announced in a statement that the Kurdish forces will surrender the villages bordering the areas occupied by the Turkey-backed Euphrates Shield Operation militants to the Syrian army.

The statement said that based on an agreement with the Russian side, the control of these villages will be given to the Syrian government's border guards.

It added that the measure will be taken to maintain the security of civilians residing in Manbij and the surrounding areas as well as regions bordering al-Bab in the Western side of Manbij, and take on the greed of Turkey to occupy the Syrian territories.

The statement was issued after sources in Tal Rifat Town's Military Council affiliated to the Turkey-backed Free Syrian Army (FSA) militant group disclosed on last week that the council forces will no more partner in the Euphrates Shield Operations against ISIL in Northeastern Aleppo as they are preparing to shift war to their Kurdish rivals within the SDF.

The Turkey-backed Euphrates Shield Operations is fought by various units of the SDF and backed up by the Turkish army. The SDF is comprised of a Kurdish majority and a minority of Arab fighters mostly from different units of FSA and defected members of Ahrar al-Sham and Al-Nusra that are all called as moderate militants by the US, Turkey and their allies.

The Kurdish units of the SDF have long been complaining that they are fighting on the frontline and, hence, sustain most casualties, and whenever they earn a victory, "the Turkish army sends them to other battle scenes and delivers control over conquered lands to the Arab FSA.

Cavusoglu's warning that the Turkish military men are readying to attack the Kurds in Manbij came after the militant-affiliated Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) last week reported some sources in Tal Rifat Military Council as saying that the council would stop its mission under the Ankara-backed Euphrates Shield Operation to start battling the Kurdish members of the SDF in Northern Aleppo to capture the villages under their control.

The SOHR further added that the Tal Rifat Military Council that is operating under the FSA is getting back to the region (Northern Aleppo) with its forces and military equipment to start attacking the Kurdish forces in their positions.

In response to the militants' invasion plan, the Syrian army initiated plans to tighten security measures across the regions stretching from East Aleppo to the Kurdish populated territories in Afrin Canton to block any possible advance by either the ISIL or the Turkish soldiers and their allied militants fighting for the Ankara-backed Euphrates Shield Operation.

A top placed military source revealed that the Syrian Army intends to carry out a clean-up operation in the towns of Jubb al-Sultan, al-Za'aroureh, Jubb al-Homam and Jubb al-Khafa and the villages South of Manbij to strengthen its lines of defense along the strip that stretches to the Kurdish-held region in Northeastern Aleppo in order to prevent any effort by the ISIL terrorists to bypass the government-held regions.

Cavusoglu displayed his country's anger and opposition to the agreement between the Kurds and the Syrian army by denying it, claiming that "there are all sorts of news and speculation. This is all untrue. We are now seeing that the Syrian government forces are moving to the East".

But the Turkish foreign minister, meantime, stated that Moscow and Ankara agreed on the prevention of clashes between Turkey-backed opposition FSA and government forces.

"We have agreed with Russia on the prevention of clashes between the (FSA) and the Syrian government forces in order to intensify the fight against ISIL," Cavusoglu said last Thursday.

But later reports by other world media confirmed FNA's Thursday report over the agreement.

The villages will be surrendered to the Syrian government in the coming days, an official in the Manbij Military Council told Reuters. An earlier statement by the council said the villages would be handed to Syrian border guards.

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said this week Manbij was the next target of Ankara's campaign in Northern Syria following the capture of nearby al-Bab from ISIL last week.

"We will move towards Manbij after the al-Bab operation is completed, but the operation has not started yet. We know that the US special forces are in that region, and we want the YPG to leave Manbij as soon as possible," Cavusoglu said.

In February 2016, The Kurdish “People’s Protection Units” (YPG) prevailed over the terrorists in the highly strategic city of Tal Rifat in Northern Aleppo and captured the city. YPG constitutes the Kurdish section of the SDF that also includes the Turkey-backed Arab FSA militants.

But months later, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan warned the Kurdish fighters to leave all areas under their control in Northwestern Syria and move to the territories on the Eastern side of the Tishrin Dam on the Euphrates.

The Kurdish population lives in three regions, known as Cantons, in Northern Syria, with the Afrin Canton being located on the Western side of the Euphrates stretching over the Northern parts of Aleppo province with Manbij as its most important and most internationally known town.

The Kurdish fighters won back Manbij from ISIL in weeks of bloody war on August 8, 2016. A few months later, the Turkish president warned the Kurds to withdraw from the town and surrender it to the Turkish army or wait for a massive attack.

In mid-November 2016, Spokesman for the Manbij Military Council Sherfan Dervish voiced his forces' readiness to fight against the ISIL terrorists and Turkish army in Aleppo province in Northern Syria.

"The Manbij military council is ready to repel any possible attack by the ISIL and Turkey," Dervish told FNA at the time.

He noted that the SDF's mission in Manbij ended as per an agreement signed by the two sides, adding that the SDF forces returned to their previous positions.

"The armed groups present in Manbij now are all under the auspices of the Manbij military council because the council can thwart any possible attack by the ISIL and Turkey and combat aggressors to maintain stability and security in the city," Dervish added.

In early August, the SDF pushed ISIL back from the entire neighborhoods of Manbij in Northeastern Aleppo after over 70 days of non-stop bloody clashes with the terrorists.

Also in August, the Military Council of Manbij in Aleppo province announced that over 4,000 terrorists had been killed in tough battle with the SDF since the beginning of Manbij liberation operations.

"A sum of 4,180 terrorists have been killed in the battle over Manbij and the dead bodies of 1,724 of them are with the Kurdish forces," the military council said.

The council said that 112 ISIL terrorists were in custody of the Kurdish forces and 144 different kinds of military vehicles had also been destroyed in Manbij battle.

In late August, a Turkish-backed terrorist ringleader said that his militants intended to head towards Manbij to take the city from the Kurdish forces who could drive out the ISIL in early August.

Colonel Ahmed Osman, the commander of Sultan Murad terrorist group, told the Arabic service of Reuters that the Turkey-backed forces were "certainly heading towards Manbij" since the SDF had fortified their positions instead of evacuating the strategic city.  

en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13951219000889

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Fort Bragg to deploy more than 2,500 troops in anti-Islamic State effort

 

FORT BRAGG, N.C. — At least 2,500 additional Fort Bragg paratroopers will deploy to Kuwait soon to join the fight against the Islamic State, according to the Fayetteville Observer.

The soldiers are part of the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, the newspaper reported. The new deployment will add to the 1,800 soldiers from the 2nd Brigade who are already in Iraq and Kuwait.

The deployment was announced by Lt. Gen. Joseph Anderson during a congressional hearing on Wednesday.

wral.com/fort-bragg-to-deploy-more-than-2-500-troops-in-anti-islamic-state-effort/16574227/

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Africa

Ritualists storm Islamic school, slaughter three students in Niger State

March 9, 2017

A deadly ritualist gang has attacked an Islamic school in Tungan Magajiya, Ri-jau Local Government Area of Niger State.

The attackers who invaded the school in the early hours of Wednesday slaughtered three boys in the process.

The alleged ritualists were said to have removed the throats of the boys after collecting their blood.

Confirming the incident to newsmen, the Niger State Police Command spokesperson, DSP Bala Elkana, said the attack was on five boys but three died.

According to Elkana, “It was suspected ritualists because they took away the victim’s’ blood around 3am on Wednesday.”

The police spokesperson said his men were investigating the incident.

dailypost.ng/2017/03/09/ritualists-storm-islamic-school-slaughter-three-students-niger-state/

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Ahmadiyya Muslim Jamaat Holds Annual Convention for Elderly

March 9, 2017

The 10th National Annual Convention of Majlis Ansarullah, The Gambia for the elderly men wing of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jamaat recently came to an end at Baitus Salam Mosque, in Tallinding.

During the event, the elders prayed for the peace,  progress and harmony of the country.

Delivery his closing remarks, Amir Baba F. Trawally reminded members about the importance of Salat, which is a fundamental teaching of Islam; the very reason for our creation and what best way can ‘we worship Allah  the Almighty than Salat which also happens to be the second pillar of Islam’.

According to him, Allah the Almighty has commanded that the very best way we should worship Him is through prayers which is the bedrock and foundation of every other type and manner of the worship of Allah ‘subhanawatala’.

“Hence He emphasises the observance of prayers in many parts of the Holy Quran. So as true servants of the Almighty Allah, we should always be regular and punctual in our Salat. As elders of the Jamaat we should set the standard and be examplary to the younger ones. Prayer purifies our souls and cleanses us from all sins and dirt, makes us righteous, gives us peace of mind, comfort of the heart and through it we can attain the nearness of Allah the Almighty and be winners of His pleasure, ” he added.

Amir Trawalley quoting the Promised Messiah and Imam Mahdi regarding the subject stated; “The Promised Messiah and Imam Mahdi (on whom be peace) said that Salat alone is the virtue that dispels satanic weaknesses and that Satan wishes man to stay away from Salat because he knows it is Salat that would purify man. Fasting during Ramadan, according to him, comes once every year and Zakat is for the well-off to observe, however, Salat is for everyone and should be observed, seeking Allah’s bounties for the treasures of Allah are always brim-full all that is needed is the certainty that one is standing before an All-hearing, All-Seeing Being Who can provide in a split second if He  wishes so so. Just as a soldier would never surrender his best weapon in a battlefield Salat is the most excellent weapon for a believer and a believer should safeguard it at all costs”.

Speaking at the opening session of the Convention, the National President of Majlis Ansarullah The Gambia, Brother Boido Kandeh welcomed the participants at the Ijtema and informed them that as elders, they should be strong and actively participate in all Jamaat activities and also show great examples to others. He also gave them a brief report on the activities of Majlis Ansarullah The Gambia throughout the year.

Other speakers at the event included Bro. Musa Sanneh, Bro. Demba S. Bah, on the topics, The Holy Quran as a Divine Revelation and Its Protection Against Corruption, The Holy Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W)was a Statesman and as a Mercy for the Universe, Institution of Khilafat: Types and Blessings of Khilafat and Hazrat Imam Mahdias: Resemblance with Hadhrat Issaas and Signs of Advent respectively.

Heads of the Senegalese and Guinea Bissau delegates also gave statements. The convention was graced by almost 200 Ansar from all over the country and delegations from Senegal and Guinea Bissau.

observergm.com/ahmadiyya-muslim-jamaat-holds-annual-convention-for-elderly/

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Southeast Asia

Rohingya refugees return to Myanmar

March 9th, 2017

DHAKA: Thousands of Rohingya who took refuge in Bangladesh after fleeing violence in Myanmar have returned home because of a Bangladeshi plan to house them on an uninhabited flood-prone island, community leaders said on Wednesday.

Nearly 73,000 Rohingya refugees have entered Bangladesh since last October, when government forces in Myanmar unleashed a bloody crackdown on the Muslim minority. Many told horrific stories of villages being burned and women gang-raped.

Most headed to the already overcrowded refugee camps of Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh’s main tourist resort district which borders Myanmar.

The influx led Dhaka to resurrect a controversial plan to relocate refugees to an undeveloped island in the Bay of Bengal.

Community leaders said more than 5,000 Rohingya had now returned to the Buddhist-majority nation despite the risk of persecution.

“They chose to die by bullets than to be killed by nature,” community leader Noor Hafiz said. “People became very concerned after they learnt about the relocation plan. We heard the island submerges during the monsoon. Now we can only hope the situation back home is better.”

Hafiz said 3,000 people had left his camp, while another 2,000 people had left two separate newly-built make-shift refugee camps.

“They said they don’t want to die in flash floods,” said Dudu Mia, a Rohingya who heads another camp called Leda. The Bay of Bengal is frequently hit by cyclones.

Nonetheless the Bangladesh government has ordered the construction of a jetty, helipad and visitor facilities on the 6,000-acre island.

Last week it began a Rohingya headcount as part of its relocation campaign after seeking international support for the plan.

A Border Guard Bangladesh official also said growing numbers of Rohingya were returning, although he gave a much lower figure. “Last month 48 refugees notified us they were leaving Bangladesh for home,” said Teknaf Major Abu Russell Siddique.

“This month, in a week, the number has reached 235.” Siddique said parts of Myanmar’s Rakhine state, where most of the country’s Rohingya live, were now stable. “As far as we know, only people from the villages which were unaffected [by the crackdown] are returning,” he said.

dawn.com/news/1319376/rohingya-refugees-return-to-myanmar

 

URL: http://newageislam.com/islamic-world-news/new-age-islam-news-bureau/israeli-parliament-approves-bill-to-quieten-mosques,-fueling-arab-anger/d/110345

 

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