New Age Islam News Bureau
4 Apr 2018
China has over 20 million Muslims, more than 57,000 clerical personnel, and 35,000 Islamic mosques, according to a white paper released by the State Council Information Office.
• Jammu and Kashmir Cop Narrates Verses from Quran to Deter Deadly Hizbul Terrorist from Violence
• China Has Over 20 Million Muslims, 35,000 Mosques
• National Ulema and Mashaikh Council Act Close To Being a Reality Soon
• Rise of Radical Islamic Forces in Bangladesh Stirs Concern amidst Experts
• Saudi King Reaffirms Support for Palestinians after Son's Pro-Israel Comments
• Jammu and Kashmir Cop Narrates Verses from Quran To Deter Deadly Hizbul Terrorist From Violence
• Personal Law Board Misleading Muslims on Talaq Bill: Activists
• Indian Envoy Ajay Bisaria 'Sensitises' Pakistan NSA on Cross-Border Terror
• JK Terrorists Resorting To Glamorisation of Militancy to Recruit Youths: Centre
• NSG seeks nod to support forces in J-K counter-terror operations
• Lashkar-e-Taiba’s hand suspected in abduction, murder of Kashmiri man
• China Has Over 20 Million Muslims, 35,000 Mosques
• Sukarno’s Daughter Reported to Police for Alleged Blasphemy
• Selection of Bishops Doesnt Breach Religious Rights: China
• Malaysia Intercepts Boat Carrying Rohingya Refugees, More Perilous Sea Journeys Expected
• National Ulema and Mashaikh Council Act Close To Being a Reality Soon
• UN Terror List Has 139 Pakistan Entries
• LEAs arrest ring leader of TTP killers in Quetta: report
• Khadim Rizvi declared PO as police make little effort to arrest cleric
• Fazl, Durrani grabbed land meant for Kargil martyrs: PTI
• Pakistan has established peace on its side of Pak-Afghan border: DG ISPR
• Rise of Radical Islamic Forces in Bangladesh Stirs Concern amidst Experts
• MoD Release Findings about Kunduz Airstrike Saying Civilians Shot By Taliban
• Monsoons in Bangladesh could bring 'enormous deaths' to Rohingya refugee camps
• President Ghani orders probe into the deadly Kunduz airstrike
• ISIS Launch Coordinated Attack on Security Posts In Darzab District
• Saudi King Reaffirms Support for Palestinians after Son's Pro-Israel Comments
• Saudi Arabia, Cuba Unified and Firm against Terror and Extremism: Al-Jubeir
• Eastern Ghouta Militants Relocated to Turkey-Occupied Afrin in Northern Syria
• More Terrorists in Hama Province Surrender to Syrian Army
• Tens of Terrorists Killed in Fresh Round of Infighting in Northern Syria
• Northern Syria: US Sets up New Base in Manbij amid Turkish Military Threats
• Over 1,100 Jeish Al-Islam Militants Leave Douma for Northern Syria
• More than 40,000 people returned to Syria’s Ghouta
• Syrian army forces uncover Israeli, NATO-made munitions in Dayr al-Zawr
• Saudi Arabia funds humanitarian plan in Yemen with half a billion dollars
• ‘Punish a Muslim Day’ Generates Anger, Fear and Solidarity in Britain
• UN Chief Urges Yemeni Sides for Political Settlement
• Anti-Islam rhetoric alarms German foreign ministry
• Interfaith community stands against Islamophobia as “Punish a Muslim” fliers circulate online
• Russia, Turkey agree to speed up S-400 missile deal
• AU Forces Kill 30 Al-Shabaab in Somalia
• 6 Dead In Mali Grave Had Been In Military Custody
vUgandan president confirms 8 soldiers killed in Somalia
• Is proposed amnesty for Boko Haram members advisable?
• 16 Saudi Troops Killed in Clashes with Yemeni Army, Popular Forces
• Yemeni Army Continues Ballistic Missile Attacks on Saudi Military Bases in Asir Province
• Syrian People Shattered Israel’s Invincibility Myth: Iran FM
• Arab League calls for Security Council probe into Israel’s killings in Gaza
• Iranian president calls for end to ‘illegal’ foreign military presence in Syria
• UN refugee agency urges Israel to ‘reconsider’ decision on cancelling migrant deal
• Pentagon At Odds With Trump over Troop Withdrawal from Syria
• An atypical terror case turns pivotal for FBI; comes to close with 20-year sentence
• Saudi Crown Prince meets with Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti
Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau
Jammu and Kashmir Cop Narrates Verses from Quran to Deter Deadly Hizbul Terrorist from Violence
Apr 04, 2018
ANANTNAG: Killing of Pakistan-backed terrorists by the security forces during fierce encounters in the high-risk areas of Jammu and Kashmir is a routine affair in the state. However, not many are aware that the security personnel involved in such operations take desperate measures in convincing the terrorists – often misguided jobless youths - to shun the path of violence and surrender so that they can stay alive and later reunite with their families.
One such incident has now come to fore where the parents of a Hizbul terrorist and the cops involved in an encounter in south Kashmir's Anantnag district desperately tried for six hours to convince him to surrender before he was finally eliminated.
According to reports, Rauf Khanday and another terrorist, believed to be linked to Hizbul Mujahideen, were holed up in a house in the Dialgam village in south Kashmir's Anantnag district recently.
Around 11 pm on Saturday, the Anantnag division of J&K Police received a tip-off about the presence of two terrorists inside a house in Dialgam. After ascertaining the identity of the terrorists, the house was cordoned off by security personnel and they were asked to surrender.
The security personnel involved in the operation and the 'worried' parents of Rauf Khanday – one of the two terrorists holed up in the house - tried to talk to them into surrendering.
The officials present at the spot waited for nearly six hours in convincing the two terrorists and but one of them showed no signs of surrendering.
One of the two terrorists, whose identity has not been disclosed, did so immediately leaving young Rauf Khanday inside, cut off from the rest of the world.
Narrating Rauf Khanday's last hours, officials recounted that a phone was also passed on to him so that a conversation could begin. Then followed the hours of trying to talk to him, reason with him and even bringing in his parents so they could convince him to surrender.
"It is always a tough call. I was pretty sure that the parents will be able to convince Khanday and he will come out and surrender. But destiny willed it otherwise," Senior Superintendent of Police Anantnag Altaf Ahmed Khan told PTI.
"I tried everything that is possible to make him surrender. But every effort of mine was stonewalled by the young boy, who had been brainwashed," the SSP said.
Asked what had transpired, Khan, who has earlier headed districts like Shopian and Sopore, said he spoke to Khanday to understand his mental frame of mind and found he had interpreted various religious books wrongly.
The Anantnag SSP even narrated the verses from Holy Quran and advised him that whatever he was doing was against the teachings of Islam. The conversation continued for over 30 minutes during which Khanday got agitated and abusive. But, the SSP did not lose his cool and ignored all that because he wanted to save him from getting killed.
Listening to the entire conversation were the commanders outside, their eyes fixed on the house where Khanday was hiding, an official told PTI.
Around 1 am on Sunday, Khanday said that he wanted to speak to his mother for which permission was granted.
"I sent a police team to his native place seven kilometres away. Security personnel escorted his father Bashid Ahmed Khandey and mother to the site so that they could persuade him to come out and surrender," said Khan.
"We were so desperate to save his life that we all agreed to his mother's request to take him home if he surrenders," he added. Both parents went inside to speak to their son, raising hopes that there might not be any bloodshed. They came out after half-an-hour, despair writ large on their face.
"I missed a heartbeat. A chill ran down my spine as we had to perform our final job now and fight him out," Khan said. A commander present at the encounter site apologised to the parents, who knew the fate awaiting their son.
"I sent the parents to my place as they were quite nervous, especially the mother... I refused to give up," said Khan.
It was past 3 am now and Khan made yet another bid to engage with Khanday. He asked a small team to see if there could be a backdoor entry into the house so security personnel could overpower him. Khan said Khanday fired at him when told that he was entering the house unarmed and would only engage in talks with him. "I tried my best but all efforts failed," Khan said in a choked voice.
Following this, security personnel began the final onslaught, killing Khanday.
Rauf Khanday, who was killed in the pre-dawn darkness of Sunday at Dialgam village in south Kashmir's Anantnag district, had just passed his first year of graduation.
Director General of Police SP Vaid later made a special mention about Khan's efforts to save Khanday during a press conference on the three counter-insurgency operations in the Kashmir Valley that left 13 terrorists, three Army jawans and four civilians dead.
China Has Over 20 Million Muslims, 35,000 Mosques
April 03, 2018
China has over 20 million Muslims, more than 57,000 clerical personnel, and 35,000 Islamic mosques, according to a white paper released by the State Council Information Office here today.
In total, the country has nearly 200 million religious believers and more than 380,000 clerical personnel.
The major religions practiced in China are Buddhism, Taoism, Islam, Catholicism, and Protestantism, said the white paper, titled “China’s Policies and Practices on Protecting Freedom of Religious Belief.”
According to the document, there are around 222,000 Buddhist clerical personnel and over 40,000 Taoist clerical personnel.
The 10 minority ethnic groups, the majority of whose population believe in Islam, total more than 20 million, with about 57,000 clerical personnel, said the document.
Catholicism and Protestantism have 6 million and 38 million followers in China, respectively, with 8,000 and 57,000 clerical personnel, said the white paper.
There are approximately 5,500 religious groups in China, including seven national organizations which are Buddhist Association of China, Chinese Taoist Association, China Islamic Association, Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association, Bishops’ Conference of Catholic Church in China, National Committee of the Three-Self Patriotic Movement of the Protestant Churches in China, and China Christian Council.
“Conditions of places of worship have been notably improved,” said the document.
At present, there are about 144,000 places of worship registered for religious activities in China, among which are 33,500 Buddhist temples (including 28,000 Han Buddhist temples, 3,800 Tibetan Buddhist lamaseries, and 1,700 Theravada Buddhist temples), 9,000 Taoist temples, 35,000 Islamic mosques, 6,000 Catholic churches and places of assembly spread across 98 dioceses, and 60,000 Protestant churches and places of assembly, it said.
National Ulema and Mashaikh Council Act close to being a reality soon
BY OBAID ABBASI
Apr 04, 2018
ISLAMABAD: In order to curtail sectarianism in the country, the federal government has geared up efforts to make a ‘National Ulema and Mashaikh Council Act, 2018′, Pakistan Today has learnt.
“The draft has been prepared by the ministry of religious affairs and a National Ulema and Mashiakh Council will be constituted under the proposed draft with a representation of religious scholars from all schools of thought,” explained the official sources in the federal government.
The official sources told Pakistan Today that a final meeting will be held in the ministry in the next couple of days where the draft would be finalised. After that, the draft would be sent to the provincial ulema and mashaikh councils.
Similarly, the ministry would take input from law and interior ministries which would result in the final draft being sent to the cabinet division and then the parliament.
Under the proposed draft, after the establishment of the council, the federal minister of religious affairs and interfaith harmony will be its chairman.
The council is to have 50 members who will be picked up by all provinces including Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) and Gilgit-Baltistan (GB).
The council will take input from all provinces to take practical steps for curtailing sectarianism and regular meetings will be held in this regard.
According to the draft, only the federal government will have the authority to remove the chairman of the council.
Similarly, two committees would be constituted under the council, a steering committee and a curriculum committee. The Terms of Reference (TOR) of the steering will be to suggest practical steps for the promotion of sectarian harmony and peace in the country in the light of recommendations made by the council earlier.
Similarly, the TOR of the curriculum will suggest ways to eradicate hate literate from the syllabus of madrasas. The committee will recommend changes and improvements in the madrasa curriculum all over the country.
The ministry believes that the draft will be a landmark in the country’s history which will definitely help to promote interfaith harmony among all sects.
Another senior official of the ministry said that in 2016, the federal government had notified a National Ulema and Mashaikh Council Act, 2018 through an executive order. However, it has no legal value as it could be deemed dysfunctional any time. Therefore, the government has decided to make a new draft in which a new council would be established with a legal status.
When asked about how many meetings over the matter have been held, the official claimed that over a dozen of the meetings were held in different parts of the country and the council has been given many recommendations but the recommendation will be valuable once the draft has become a proper act.
Rise of radical Islamic forces in Bangladesh stirs concern amidst experts
Apr 3, 2018
Dhaka: As Bangladesh gears up for the general elections to be held in December 2018, the Islamic forces in the country have started gaining ground.
The Khalida Zia-led Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), in alliance with Jamaat-e-Islami and other Islamic fundamentalist groups, are making attempts to root out the Sheikh Hasina-led Awami League.
Experts believe that the Jamaat-e-Islami has committed war crimes during the 1971 Liberation War and killed three million people in the name of Islam.
Around 500,000 women were reportedly violated by the Pakistan Army and their collaborators.
Shahriar Kabir, a Dhaka-based journalist and human rights activist, said, "The rise of Islamic militancy, terrorism in the name of Islam, perpetrated by the Jamaat-e-Islami and the Hifazat-e-Islam, is backed by the BNP, one of the largest political parties of Bangladesh. Because of the BNP, the Jamaat-e-Islami and the Hifazat-e-Islam as well as other fundamentalist and extremist groups have become so violent and we have seen their violence starting from February 2013.”
Experts sitting offshore are also concerned over the growing alliance of the BNP and Islamic fundamentalists as they believe the perpetrators of 1971 are still stronger than pro-liberation forces.
Rohan Gunaratna, an expert on international terrorism based in Singapore said, "The Jamaat-e-Islami ideology has formed the sea bed, the foundation for the emergence of extremist and terrorist groups in Bangladesh. If not for the Jamaat-e-Islami, so many people would not have been radicalised and we have seen the emergence of JMB (Jamaatul Mujahideen Bangladesh), HuJI-B, the Harkat-ul-Jihad-al Islami Bangladesh and a number of other groups."
The rise of Islamic forces in Bangladesh not only affects the common people in the country, but also raises concerns for the fragile neighbourhood.
BNP-Jamaat-led coalition governments in the past had provided shelter, funds and training to secessionist insurgent groups of north eastern India.
A BNP return to power would mean New Delhi facing a hostile government in Dhaka as it would again allow anti-India groups to gain ground on Bangladesh soil.
Saudi king reaffirms support for Palestinians after son's pro-Israel comments
April 03, 2018
Saudi King Salman reaffirmed support for Palestinians to US President Donald Trump, state media said Tuesday, after his son and heir apparent said Israel has a “right” to a homeland.
The king “reaffirmed the kingdom's steadfast position towards the Palestinian issue and the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people to an independent state with Jerusalem as its capital,” the official Saudi Press Agency said.
The king also emphasised the need to advance the Middle East peace process in a phone call with Trump, which came after Israeli forces killed 17 Palestinians last week during a demonstration on its border with Gaza.
Saudi Arabia and Israel have no formal diplomatic relations, but behind the scenes their ties appear to have improved in recent years against what they see as a common Iranian threat.
Israel's conflict with the Palestinians has long proved an obstacle to a full rapprochement, however, as Riyadh still supports the Palestinian claim to sovereignty.
But Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman indicated a notable shift in the kingdom's position in an interview published Monday with US news magazine The Atlantic.
The prince was asked by the magazine whether the “Jewish people have a right to a nation-state in at least part of their ancestral homeland?”
“I believe that each people, anywhere, has a right to live in their peaceful nation,” said the prince, who is on a three-week US tour.
“I believe the Palestinians and the Israelis have the right to have their own land,” he added.
“But we have to have a peace agreement to assure the stability for everyone and to have normal relations.”
Since 2002, Saudi Arabia has been the main sponsor of the Arab Peace Initiative, which envisions a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
No senior Saudi official is known to have previously accepted that Israel has a right to any land beyond the practical need to secure a lasting deal.
Personal law board misleading Muslims on talaq bill: Activists
Apr 4, 2018
MUMBAI: Days after the All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) held meet of women at Azad Maidan to protest the talaq bill, a group of activists and scholars slammed the board for "misleading the community and trying to present misogyny and patriarchy as Islamic laws".
At a news conference called by the Indian Muslims for Secular Democracy (IMSD) on Tuesday, the activists attacked the Board for "mishandling" the triple talaq issue. "It is the same Board which had filed an affidavit in the court saying that if triple talaq is banned Muslim men would murder their wives. The Board should first apologise to the Muslim women for misrepresenting them," said IMSD's co-convener Feroze Mithiborwala.
Islamic scholar Zeenat Shaukat Ali, differing with members of IMSD who are against the talaq bill, said that instant divorce is a crime and there should be a deterrent to it. "Instead of three years, the bill should make triple talaq punishable with one year's imprisonment," Ali said. "But more than that, the Muslim Board must introspect and see why it has has failed to live up to the trust the community. So many years have passed since the Shah Bano case in 1986. Why didn't it come out with laws which are not discriminatory and don't take the Sharia to medievalism," she asked.
Senior Urdu columnist Hasan Kamal questioned the relevance of the personal law board. "The board has lost its utility. It should dissolve itself now," he said. Kamal added that, by holding huge rallies of women, the board might make the Supreme Court prejudicial against Muslims. "The Supreme Court has declared triple talaq null and void. Now the impression is being created that the court is interfering in Islamic laws," he said. He added that the government should desist from framing a law against triple talaq and deal with the cases under the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005.
Haseena Khan of Bebaak Collective slammed the board for "bringing women on the roads with slogans like Islam is in danger".
Indian Envoy Ajay Bisaria 'Sensitises' Pakistan NSA on Cross-Border Terror
Omer Farooq Khan
Apr 4, 2018
ISLAMABAD/NEW DELHI: Indian high commissioner Ajay Bisaria on Tuesday "sensitised" Pakistan's national security advisor Nasser Janjua on issues of India's concern, mainly related to cross-border terrorism, official sources said.
Bisaria paid a courtesy call on Janjua and the meeting, according to diplomatic sources, saw constructive discussions for improving the bilateral relationship. The meeting was scheduled a week earlier.
Pakistan and India agreed to explore the possibility of more cooperation and of improving bilateral relations to ultimately take it towards comprehensive process of dialogue, said an official statement issued in Islamabad.
According to the statement, the two discussed matters pertaining to improving bilateral relations, including the recent Kashmir situation.
Janjua reiterated that Pakistan pursued the policy of friendly relations with all its neighbours, including India. "Pakistan is committed to resolve all outstanding issues through comprehensive dialogue," Janjua said.
"The process of dialogue is the only way forward to resolve our disputes," he told Bisaria.
The statement said the Indian envoy acknowledged that Pakistan and India needed to improve their bilateral relations and that the two countries had immense potential to cater to each other's needs.
"He also suggested to work on taking small steps for improving bilateral relations including exchange of prisoners, visits of medical teams and trade initiatives," the statement further added.
Full report at:
JK terrorists resorting to glamorisation of militancy to recruit youths: Centre
April 3, 2018
The Centre on Tuesday said terrorists in Jammu and Kashmir have been resorting to glamorisation of militancy to recruit misguided youths in their outfits.
Union Minister of State for Home Hansraj Gangaram Ahir said the state has been affected by terrorist violence that is sponsored and supported from across the border and levels of the violence in various districts of the Valley are linked to infiltrations. “Militants have been resorting to glamorisation of militancy to recruit misguided youths in their outfits,” he said, replying to a written question.
The government regularly reviews the security situation in Jammu and Kashmir and in order to prevent activities of militants, numerous steps have been taken including strengthening of operational grid with enhanced human intelligence and use of technical intelligence grid.
“The government has also continuously encouraged policies to mainstream the youth, including providing employment opportunities to wean them away from militancy,” he said.
Replying to a question on whether terrorist activities have increased in Jammu and Kashmir after the surgical strike in PoK on September 29, 2016, Ahir said the suggestion was not correct.
“188 terrorist incidents were reported during six months period before the surgical strike. 56 security personnel and 10 civilians lost their lives in these incidents.
Full report at:
NSG seeks nod to support forces in J-K counter-terror operations
Apr 04, 2018
With a motive of remaining battle-ready and at the forefront of counter-terrorist (CT) operations, the elite National Security Guards (NSG) has approached the home ministry and top national security planners for permission to send its “house intervention teams (HIT)” in support of counter-terrorism operations conducted by the army and security forces in Jammu and Kashmir.
North Block officials confirmed this and said NSG is doing this in order to maintain its cutting edge as well as acquire much-needed on-field operational experience for its experts.
The NSG proposal comes in the wake of security forces losing troopers in high-risk house intervention operations, used to neutralise holed up terrorists or fidayeens (suicide attackers) in densely populated localities of the valley.
Normally, security forces try to tire out the terrorists by constantly firing at the adversary with high caliber weapons. The rate of firing is often such that the structure collapses or catches fire with the holed up terrorists being collateral damage.
The NSG HIT teams use state of the art Heckler and Koch MP5 sub-machine guns, gas guns, M 107 Barret sniper rifles, through-the-wall radars, corner shot rifles and C-4 explosives to neutralize holed-up terrorists with minimum casualties and damage to the structure. A typical NSG HIT team has six troopers led by a non-commissioned officer along with demolition experts and crack marksmen.
While the Modi government is considering NSG’s proposal positively, the elite force has also offered to let its HIT teams serve under the command and control of the army in special counter terrorism operations in the Valley. A similar offer has been made by NSG to CRPF, a paramilitary force involved in counter-insurgency activities in the restive state.
Another reason why NSG wants to test its skills in live operations is for battle inoculation as the 10,000 strong force is only involved in simulated exercises.
Full report at:
Lashkar-e-Taiba’s hand suspected in abduction, murder of Kashmiri man
Apr 03, 2018
A 33-year-old man was found murdered hours after suspected Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) militants attacked his family members and abducted him from his father-in-law’s home in north Kashmir’s Bandipora district around 10pm on Monday, police said.
The victim’s wife suffered a bullet injury and his mother-in-law was stabbed, police added.
Police identified the deceased as Muntazir Ahmad Parrey, a private car driver. His body was found on the outskirts of Hajin on Tuesday.
“The body has three bullet wounds and multiple stab wounds,” said Bandipora superintendent of police Sheikh Zulfikar Azad. “His wife and mother-in-law are admitted to hospital in Srinagar and their condition is stated to be stable,” Azad added.
Police are trying to ascertain the motive for the killing. “There is no apparent reason. He was a common man living his life. He had no affiliation with anybody,” said Azad.
A police spokesperson said local militant Mohammad Saleem Parrey is suspected of having played a role in the killing. “Five foreign terrorists affiliated with the LeT — Abu Muslim, Hubaib, Khalid, Abu Hamza and Haider — are also involved in the killing,” the spokesperson added.
The LeT had not issued any statement related to the attack at the time of this report.
Full report at:
Sukarno’s daughter reported to police for alleged blasphemy
April 3, 2018
A lawyer and a prominent Muslim organization have filed a report against Sukmawati Soekarnoputri, daughter of the late first president Sukarno, for alleged blasphemy as they complained that her poem contained insults to Islam.
The lawyer, named Denny Andrian Kusdayat, filed the complaint to the Jakarta Police on Tuesday. He argued that Sukmawati’s poem titled Ibu Indonesia (Mother Indonesia) insulted Islam and had invited waves of public scrutiny.
Sukmawati read the poem during a fashion event held to celebrate famous designer Anne Avantie’s 29th anniversary in fashion on Thursday.
Denny claimed that Sukmawati read the poem in which she allegedly compared sharia to konde (traditional hair bun), mocked cadar (full-face veil) and insulted adzan (Muslim call to prayer).
"If we are talking about adzan that means insulting God because there is the word Allah mentioned,” he said as reported by tempo.co, adding that his move was based on his own initiative and not based on any group.
In his report, Denny also handed over the video of Sukmawati reading the poem, which was also found on several social media posts. He accused the sister of former president Megawati Soekarnoputri of violating Article 156a of the Criminal Code on blasphemy and the 2008 law on the elimination of racialism.
Besides Jakarta, Sukmawati was also reported by the East Java branch of Nahdlatul Ulama (NU) to the East Java Police.
“The content of the poem was disrespectful to religion,” East Java NU chairman Hasan Mutawakkil Alallah said on Tuesday.
The group decided to file a report to the police, arguing that there should be a legal action taken against Sukmawati so that her poem would not create sectarian issues in public, especially ahead of the 2018 regional elections and 2019 presidential and legislative elections.
“We are afraid that this issue would be taken advantage of by those who dislike peace in Indonesia,” he said, adding that the NU urged all Muslims to remain calm and not be easily provoked. (dpk/rin)
Selection of bishops doesnt breach religious rights: China
By K J M Varma
Apr 04, 2018
Beijing, Apr 3 (PTI) The right to appoint high priests in China should remain with the government, a Chinese official said today, stressing that not giving Pope the control over their appointment does not infringe on the religious freedom of the believers.
The official also said that Beijing has made real efforts to strike a "historic" accord on the appointment of bishops to end seven decades of rift with the Vatican.
The government today released a white paper "Chinas Policies and Practices on Protecting Freedom of Religious Belief", outlining its stand on religion in Communist China.
Releasing the document, vice-administrator of the State Administration for Religious Affairs, Chen Zongrong told reporters that Chinas religious groups cannot be controlled by "foreign forces", and Beijing should retain the right to appoint high priests.
According to the Chinese Constitution, religious bodies and religious affairs are not subject to any foreign control, the official said.
"China has made real efforts towards establishing relations with the Holy See to end the 71 years of rift, but the talks reportedly broke down over the appointment of bishops," Chen said.
Catholics in China are split between those who attend officially sanctioned churches run by government-approved bishops and those which are loyal to the Vatican, but are technically illegal "underground".
Last month, the state-run Global Times had reported that a deal between China and the Vatican could be signed soon as the negotiations have reached "the final stages".
But, the Vatican quickly denied as the news spurred criticism that Pope was giving away too much after resisting Chinas pressure since relations were severed 1951.
"Not giving complete control to Pope to appoint top Catholic priests need not necessarily amount to breach of religious rights," he said, adding that Church has been exploited by "colonialists and imperialists" to subvert its independence and progress.
The ruling Communist Party of China (CPC) wants that its nearly 90 million members remain atheists, apprehending that foreign religions, specially Christianity, may subvert its rule like in the case of Poland, where a movement by the Church was instrumental in overthrowing the Communist rule.
In China, Christianity is regarded as the fastest growing religion, with unofficial estimates putting the number of followers to 90 million. But, the Vatican is anxious over the rapid spread of Protestantism.
Buddhism, which came from India, however, remained a majority religion in China.
According to the white paper, the Chinese government supports all religions in upholding the principle of independence and self-management.
"This principle is a historic choice made by Chinese religious believers in the Chinese peoples struggle for national independence and social progress, as Catholicism and Protestantism, which were known as foreign religions in China, had long been controlled and utilised by colonialists and imperialists," it said.
China has 200 million believers, including 20 million Muslims, 38 million Protestants and six million Catholics.The major religions practised in China are Buddhism, Taoism, Islam, Catholicism and Protestantism.
Also, there are about 5,500 religious groups in China, including seven national organisations, and about 1,44,000 places of worship registered for religious activities, including 33,500 Buddhist temples of different schools, 9,000 Taoist temples, 35,000 Islamic mosques, 6,000 Catholic churches and places of assembly spread across 98 dioceses, and 60,000 Protestant churches and places of assembly, it said.
All normal religious activities, which believers conduct at places of worship or in their own homes, are protected by law, and no organisation or individual may infringe on these rights, the paper said.
Full report at:
Malaysia Intercepts Boat Carrying Rohingya Refugees, More Perilous Sea Journeys Expected
April 04, 2018
Kuala Lumpur. Malaysia intercepted a boat carrying 56 Rohingya refugees from Myanmar off its northern island of Langkawi on Tuesday (03/04) and will allow them to enter on humanitarian grounds, with rights groups expecting further such perilous journeys by sea.
The boat had stopped at an island in southern Thailand on Saturday after a storm, with officials there saying the refugees were heading to Malaysia. It had set sail from central Rakhine state in Myanmar, the UN refugee agency said.
The Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency said in a statement that the boat was carrying 19 men, 17 women and 20 children. It had since been escorted to the peninsula and its occupants handed over to immigration authorities for processing.
Malaysia's standard policy has been to turn away refugee boats attempting to make landfall, unless weather conditions are bad, though thousands have managed to enter the country over the years.
"Generally all 56 passengers, mostly children and women, are safe but tired and hungry," Malaysian navy chief Admiral Ahmad Kamarulzaman Ahmad Badaruddin told Reuters.
"We have provided them with water, food and other humanitarian assistance."
According to UN and other rights groups, some 700,000 mostly Muslim Rohingya fled their homes in Rakhine into Bangladesh after militant attacks in August last year sparked a military crackdown that the United Nations and Western countries have said constitutes ethnic cleansing.
Buddhist-majority Myanmar rejects that charge, saying its forces have been waging a legitimate campaign against "terrorists" who attacked government forces.
Tens of thousands of Rohingya fled Myanmar by sea following an outbreak of sectarian violence in Rakhine in 2012, some falling prey to human traffickers. That exodus peaked in 2015, when an estimated 25,000 people fled across the Andaman Sea for Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia, many drowning in unsafe and overloaded boats.
Due to the fresh outbreak of violence in Myanmar, rights groups expect another surge in Rohingya boats reaching Southeast Asia, during the months the seas are calmer, even if not at the levels of three years ago.
Boats can originate from Myanmar or from overcrowded Bangladesh camps, rights groups have said.
Full report at:
UN terror list has 139 Pakistan entries
April 04, 2018
WASHINGTON: The United Nations Security Council’s consolidated list of terrorist individuals and entities includes 139 entries from Pakistan.
The list — updated and accessed on Tuesday — identifies all those individuals who have lived in Pakistan, operated from there or have been associated with groups that used Pakistani territory for carrying out their operations, from Al Qaeda’s Ayman al-Zawahiri to known Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) activists.
The first person on the list is Ayman al-Zawahiri, Osama bin Laden’s heir apparent. The UN data claims that he is still hiding somewhere “in the Afghanistan-Pakistan border area”. Several of his lieutenants are also on the list who, the UN believes, are hiding with him.
The second person on the list is another internationally known terrorist, Ramzi Mohammad bin al-Sheibah, who is identified as a Yemeni national, arrested in Karachi and handed over to the US authorities.
More than a dozen suspected terrorists are listed in the same category, arrested in Pakistan and handed over to the US authorities. Some of them had Pakistani passport, issued by various Pakistani missions in the Middle East and renewed in Pakistan.
The list also includes Dawood Ibrahim Kaskar, an Indian national who, according to the UN Security Council, has held several Pakistani passports issued in Rawalpindi and Karachi. The UN claims that he owns a “palatial bungalow in the hilly area of Noorabad, Karachi”.
LeT’s Hafiz Mohammad Saeed is listed as a person also wanted by Interpol for his involvement in terrorist activities. Haji Mohammed Yahya Mujahid, LeT’s media contact, and Hafiz Saeed’s deputies, Abdul Salaam and Zafar Iqbal, are listed under him. Like Hafiz Saeed, they are all wanted by Interpol.
LeT is listed with its various aliases, such as al-Mansoorian, Paasban-i-Kashmir, Paasban-i-Ahle Hadith, Jamaatud Dawa and Falah-i-Insaniat Foundation.
Terrorist entities that were allegedly based in Pakistan, worked from there or had links to Pakistani individuals, include Al Rasheed Trust, Harkatul Mujahideen, Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, Wafa Humanitarian Organisation, Jaish-e-Mohammed, Rabita Trust, Ummah Tameer-i-Nau, Afghan Support Committee, Revival of Islamic Heritage Society, Lashkar-i-Jhangvi, Al-Harmain Foundation, Islamic Jihad Group, Al Akhtar Trust International, Harkatul Jihad Islami, Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan, Jamaatul Ahrar and Khatiba Imam Al-Bukhari.
Some of them are listed as based in the Afghanistan-Pakistan border area.
LEAs arrest ring leader of TTP killers in Quetta: report
Apr 04, 2018
QUETTA: Law Enforcement Agencies (LEAs) arrested the leader of a gang of killers linked to the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) in Quetta. The group was involved in the killing of 16 police officers in the city during last three months, and the agencies are conducting raids to arrest the other members of the group, reported a local English newspaper.
During a press conference, Balochistan Chief Minister Abdul Quddus Bizenjo revealed the information after chairing a meeting on the law and order situation in the province.
Bizenjo told the press that Fazal Haq Ghaibzai, the ringleader, was arrested during a combined operation by police, Frontier Corps, and the Counter Terrorism Department on the basis of intelligence tip-off.
Khadim Rizvi declared PO as police make little effort to arrest cleric
Apr 04, 2018
ISLAMABAD: An anti-terrorism court (ATC) on Tuesday declared Tehreek-e-Labbaik Ya Rasool Allah (TLYR) chief Khadim Hussain Rizvi and other party leaders as proclaimed offenders in cases related to the last year’s Faizabad sit-in, with Rizvi threatening to hold nationwide protests if the government failed to implement the controversial army-brokered Faizabad agreement.
Rizvi, who was declared an absconder later in the day, has been leading a TLYR sit-in outside Data Darbar in Lahore since Monday.
The leaders at the protest announced that if the conditions stated in the apparently one-sided Faizabad agreement — which had become a cause of much controversy for carrying signatures of an army general as a mediator — were not met, they will announce their future course of action via a press conference at 4 pm on Wednesday.
Earlier, the ATC judge declared the TLYR chief and other absconding suspects proclaimed offenders over their continued absence from the trial despite being summoned multiple times. Others declared absconders by the court in cases filed during and after last year’s Faizabad sit-in include Pir Afzal Qadri, Maulana Inayatullah and Sheikh Azhar.
The Labbaik leader along with other religious activists are facing multiple charges, including terrorism, in several cases that were registered in 26 police stations across the federal capital after the Faizabad protests.
At the previous hearing, the court had issued non-bailable arrest warrants for Khadim Hussain Rizvi along with other absconding suspects in 14 cases related to the Faizabad sit-in held last year.
ATC Judge Shahrukh Arjumand had issued arrest warrants in five cases regarding the Islamabad protests that were registered in the I-9 police station after Rizvi and other suspects had refused to appear in court for the hearing.
However, despite multiple arrest warrants issued by the courts, the police is reluctant to arrest the fiery cleric fearing a repeat of violent protests by armed cadres of the extremist religio-political outfit.
Aabpara police informed the court that summons were posted outside Rizvi’s residence and the notice board of the relevant police station. It requested the court to take the cases forward in absence of the accused.
Religious parties led by TLYR chief Rizvi held a sit-in at Faizabad Interchange in the federal capital following the passage of the Elections Act 2017, which they believed deliberately modified the Khatm-e-Nabuwwat oath as part of some conspiracy. The amendment to the oath had been explained as a ‘clerical error’ by the government and subsequently rectified through an Act of Parliament.
Nonetheless, the protesters had occupied the Faizabad Interchange, which connects Rawalpindi and Islamabad through the Islamabad Expressway and Murree Road — both of which are the busiest roads in the twin cities.
Rizvi was one of the central figures of the protests that disrupted life in the twin cities for nearly 20 days.
The government had initiated several rounds of negotiations with the protesters but failed each time.
The sit-in lasted nearly three weeks and culminated after an operation to end the protest by the government failed, following which the army brokered an ‘agreement’ between the state and the protesters, the terms of which included the resignation of former law minister Zahid Hamid.
The agreement had been seen as a complete surrender by the state to the protesters.
Protesters had been demanding action against those behind the controversial amendment in Khatm-e-Nabuwat declaration.
Full report at:
Fazl, Durrani grabbed land meant for Kargil martyrs: PTI
April 04, 2018
ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI)’s central leader Shafqat Mahmood on Tuesday alleged that JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman and former Khyber Pakhtunkhwa chief minister Akram Khan Durrani had illegally taken over 1,200 kanals of land allocated for families of martyrs and demanded that the matter should be investigated by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB).
Speaking at a news conference at the National Press Club here, Mr Mahmood, who is also the head of the PTI’s anti-corruption cell, said that in 2001 the KP government had given 140,624 kanals (17,578 acres) of land to Pakistan Army in Dera Ismail Khan for families of Kargil martyrs, and other deserving serving and retired officials of the army.
“As per terms and conditions signed by the KP government and the GHQ, only legal heirs of the martyrs and deserving army personnel were entitled to the allotment. However, in 2002 when the Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal (MMA) government came to power in KP and Mr Durrani became the chief minister, they both managed to get 600 kanals of land each and transferred the land in the names of their front men,” he said.
“In 2008 when the Awami National Party and Pakistan Peoples Party formed the government in KP, the Revenue Minister Makhdum Zada Mureed Kazim from D.I. Khan also started efforts, like Maulana Fazl and Mr Durrani, to get the share in the land. In 2010-11, Mr Kazim illegally got allotted 150 kanals of land to his front men.
“In 2009/10, the NAB, KP, started an inquiry into the illegal allotment of the land to Maulana Fazl and Mr Durrani. Later, a second inquiry was started against Mr Kazim,” he said.
Mr Mahmood said that NAB not only arrested Mr Kazim, but he had been facing the case since then, but Maulana Fazl and Mr Durrani were neither arrested nor cases against them were pursued or taken up because they politically managed them.
He urged the current chairman of NAB to look into the issue and explain why cases were not pursued against the two leaders.
“Mr Durrani has a number of properties in different areas of the country and his property does not match with his known sources of income so NAB should initiate cases against both personalities because they have deprived families of martyrs from their due rights,” the PTI leader alleged.
He said that allegations should be investigated so that the land was handed over to the deserving people.
He, however, did not reply to the question if the KP government would officially take up the matter with NAB.
Earlier, Mr Mahmood said that Maulana Fazl had been enjoying the status of the chairman of the Kashmir Committee for over a decade, but he has done nothing for the Kashmir cause.
Full report at:
Pakistan has established peace on its side of Pak-Afghan border: DG ISPR
Apr 04, 2018
Director General of Inter-Services Public Relations, Major General Asif Ghafoor says Pakistan has established peace on its side of the Pak-Afghan border, reported Radio Pakistan.
In an interview with a private TV channel, he said Pakistan is contributing and supporting the peace process in Afghanistan. Asif Ghafoor said American Principal Deputy Secretary has held a meeting with Army Chief in which, they discussed the security matters regarding Afghanistan and Pakistan.
To a question, he said that Pakistan Army has never said that it has an influence on Taliban. There is a set of the environment inside Afghanistan and they will have to be brought for talks within that environment.
He said the situation has improved a lot in Balochistan as the security agencies are playing an effective role in restoration of peace in the province.
Full report at:
MoD release findings about Kunduz airstrike saying civilians shot by Taliban
Apr 03 2018
The Ministry of Defense of Afghanistan (MoD) released new information regarding the deadly airstrike in northern Kunduz province of Afghanistan.
MoD spokesman Gen. Mohammad Radmanish shared the latest information as well as pictures of the airstrike as he was updating the media during a press conference today.
Gen. Radmanish said the airstrike was carried out a main stronghold of the Taliban group in Dasht-e-Archi district which was also being used as the training camp by the group.
He said the raid was conducted based on accurate intelligence information and as a result several Taliban insurgents including eighteen of their leaders were killed.
The defense ministry spokesman also displayed several pictures taken from the site before the airstrike and said only the Taliban insurgents and their leaders were seen in the compound before the raid was conducted.
He said several key members and militants of the Red Unit of Taliban were also killed in the airstrike together with the foreign nationals from Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.
In regards to the civilian casualties, Gen. Radmanish said the Afghan army helicopters attacked the the compound with rockets but the civilians sustained casualties from small fire arms.
According to Gen. Radmanish, the Taliban militants initially opened fire on army helicopters after their base was attacked with rockets and later opened fire on civilians.
Monsoons in Bangladesh could bring 'enormous deaths' to Rohingya refugee camps
Apr 04, 2018
Myanmar's panel of international advisers on Rohingya issues said on Tuesday that the coming monsoon season could bring "enormous deaths" as refugee camps in neighbouring Bangladesh are not built to withstand the storms.
Rights groups say some 700,000 mostly Muslim Rohingya have fled violence and crossed the border from Myanmar's Rakhine state since August and most live in flimsy, bamboo-and-plastic structures perched on what were once forested hills at Cox's Bazaar.
"We are at this time in a race against time. For us, the monsoons are coming. The camps of almost one million people are not built to withstand monsoon," Kobsak Chutikul, the head of the secretariat of the board, said at a press conference in Singapore.
"There will be enormous deaths if all parties do not move to some understanding on repatriation, on aid."
Because a repatriation deal between the neighbouring countries has been delayed, Bangladesh is racing to prepare new homes on a nearby island, called Bhasan Char, before the monsoons that could arrive later this month.
The Advisory Board for the Committee for Implementation of the Recommendations on Rakhine State was set up by Myanmar last year to advise on ways of adopting the findings of an earlier commission headed by former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan.
Computer modelling by the United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR) shows that more than 100,000 refugees will be threatened by landslides and floods in the coming monsoons. The rains typically begin in April and peak in July, according to the Bangladesh Meteorological Department.
Chutikul's comments came as Malaysia intercepted a boat 56 Rohingya refugees from Myanmar off its northern island of Langkawi after a storm.
Malaysia will allow them to enter on humanitarian grounds, with rights groups expecting further such perilous journeys by sea.
The Rohingya fled their homes in Rakhine into Bangladesh after militant attacks in August last year sparked a military crackdown that the United Nations and Western countries have said constitutes ethnic cleansing.
Full report at:
President Ghani orders probe into the deadly Kunduz airstrike
Apr 04 2018
President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani has ordered an investigation into the deadly airstrike in northern Kunduz province of Afghanistan.
The Office of the President, ARG Palace, said maintaining stability and ensuring security of the lives and properties of the people are the responsibilities of the government, emphasizing that the security and defense forces have always done their best to ensure accuracy during the operations to prevent harm to the civilians.
However, ARG Palace said the Taliban group had invited militants from other parts of the country and outside of the country to Dasht-e-Archi district in Kunduz in a bid to plot attack for the bloodshed of the ordinary civilians of the country.
The statement further added that the Afghan forces did their best to thwart the plans of the Taliban based on the accurate information they had but reports indicate that ordinary civilians have also been hurt during the operation.
President Ghani in reaction to the civilian casualties report has tasked a commission led by senior National Security Council auditor Gen. Khudaidad Hazara to investigate the incident, ARG Palace.
Full report at:
ISIS launch coordinated attack on security posts in Darzab district
Apr 03 2018
Militants affiliated with the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) terrorist group launched a coordinated attack on security posts in Darzab district of northern Jawzjan province.
According to the local security officials, the attack was launched late on Monday night which continued for several hours.
District police chief Mohammad Ismail confirmed the attack but added that the militants of the terror group faced a strong resistance from the security and defense forces.
He did not disclose further information regarding the possible casualties during the clash but he said the authorities have requested air support to eliminate the terrorists.
The anti-government armed militant and terrorist groups including ISIS group have not commented regarding the report so far.
This comes as counter-terrorism operations are underway against the terror group in some districts of Jawzjan province.
The US military said last week that on March 22, ASSF and USSOF eliminated four ISIS-K fighters in Darzab district. Six days earlier on Mar. 16, a U.S. airstrike killed ISIS-K platoon commanders, Omair and Abu Samaya, as the duo met in Sar-e Pul province. Later that evening, an ASSF nighttime raid on the ISIS-K headquarters in Jowzjan resulted in the removal of another 13 terrorists. Omair and Abu Samaya’s predecessor Khitab Aka, ISIS-K’s head facilitator of foreign fighters in Jowzjan, was captured by Afghan forces on Jan. 28.
Saudi Arabia, Cuba unified and firm against terror and extremism: Al-Jubeir
03 April 2018
London: Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubeir has met with Cuban President Raul Castro in Havana on Tuesday.
During his visit to the presidential residence, Jubeir extended the greetings of King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
The Saudi FM and Cuban president discussed ties between the two countries, as well as recent developments across the globe.
Also, in attendance at the meeting were the director general of the office of the Minister of Foreign Affairs Khalid bin Musaed Al-Anqari and the Saudi Ambassador to Cuba, Faisal bin Musallat Al-Mandil.
Jubeir said they agreed on a number of issues including the “unified and firm stance against extremism and terrorism.”
Iranian-back Houthi militia are among the terrorist groups to have targeted the Kingdom. They have been responsible for missiles toward Makkah and the Saudi capital Riyadh.
Eastern Ghouta Militants Relocated to Turkey-Occupied Afrin in Northern Syria
Apr 03, 2018
The Arabic-language website of RT quoted Syrian activists as reporting that Faylaq al-Rahman militants that have left their positions in Eastern Ghouta for Idlib in recent days have been transferred to Afrin region along with their family members.
RT said that the Eastern Ghouta militants arrived first in Idlib and later were moved to Afrin to be relocated to the residential areas whose owners had fled under the Turkish army attacks in recent weeks.
Hassan Shandi, a spokesman for the Save Afrin Conference, had claimed that Syria's Afrin would be administered under the supervision of Turkey's Hatay province, and that Hatay would appoint a governor for the town of Afrin.
A field source said earlier today that a sum of 1,130 militants from Jeish al-Islam and their family members left the town of Douma on 22 buses via al-Wafedeen safe corridor for the town of Jarabulus in Northeastern Aleppo at the border with Turkey.
Full report at:
More Terrorists in Hama Province Surrender to Syrian Army
Apr 03, 2018
A 12-member group of Faylaq al-Rahman terrorists, under the command of Abu al-Bara, laid down arms and surrendered to the army men in Northern Hama today.
In the meantime, other army units managed to impose full control over the village of al-Hamidheh after a peace agreement between the army and militants and withdrawal of the anti-Damascus gunmen in Southeastern Hama.
Also, the army men fortified their positions in the newly-seized villages of Taqsis and al-Amarah.
Field sources reported earlier today that the army troops managed to impose full control over several villages and settlements in Southeastern Hama after the local population forced the militants to join the peace process,
The sources reported that the militants were forced to join the reconciliation plan with the army and leave the settlements and villages of Taqsis, al-Amarah, al-Mashyah, al-Jamqaliyeh and Jour Abu Dardah in Southeastern Hama after a popular uprising against terrorists in the region.
They went on to say that the army later entered the villages and settlements.
Militants in the villages and farms of Zour Alash, Jomaqliyeh, Taqsis Zour, Abu Daradah, Romaylah, Qabihah, Hanifah, Akshan, al-Mashdaho al-Amarah and al-Mashdah had had also earlier endorsed peace with the army.
In the meantime, Hama Governor General Mohammad al-Hazwari said that based on the peace agreement some of the militants were forced to leave the region and their remaining pockets handed over their arms and applied for government amnesty.
Full report at:
Tens of Terrorists Killed in Fresh Round of Infighting in Northern Syria
Apr 03, 2018
The Tahrir al-Sham and Syria's Tahrir Front engaged in heavy fighting after a one-day truce ended in Western Aleppo, the sources said, adding that the infighting left tens gunmen dead on both sides and tens of others wounded.
The sources said that Tahrir al-Sham stormed the positions of Syria's Tahrir Front in Western Aleppo from Dar al-Izzah region and the settlements of Rahab and Maklabis.
In the meantime, local sources in Western Aleppo reported that Tahrir al-Sham managed to prevail over rival terrorists near the village of Zarzita, adding that heavy clashes are underway between the warring sides near Mount Sheikh Aqil around the town of Dar al-Izzah.
The sources said that both sides have sustained tens of casualties and lost several tanks and military vehicles in the infighting.
Meanwhile, the Arabic-language al-Watan daily reported that Turkey has mediated to end clashes between Tahrir al-Sham and Syria's Tahrir Front in Idlib and Western Aleppo, adding that Turkey intends to move Jeish al-Islam to Jarabulus to use them in its next operation against the Kurds in the town of Manbij in Northeastern Aleppo.
In a relevant development last week, heavy infighting erupted between Tahrir al-Sham Hay'at and Syria's Tahrir Front in Ajel and Jamiat al-Sa'adiyeh villages in Western Aleppo, the towns of Khan al-Sobol and Kafr Batikh in Idlib, the village of al-Jaradeh in Southern Idlib and the two villages of al-Mansoureh and Kharbat al-Naqous in Western Hama.
Tahrir al-Sham Hay'at also won control of al-Mohandeen Awal, al-Mohandeseen Thani, Sheikh Ali, Reef al-Ateba, al-Fouj 46, Tadil, Ajil, Urum Soqra, Taqad, Kafr Nouran, al-Tawameh, Kafr Karamayn, Ma'arat al-Na'asan and Mirnaz regions.
Tahrir al-Sham Hay'at erected checkpoints in the village of Atmeh near the border with Turkey and stopped traffic of fuel vehicles from Northern Aleppo to Idlib.
Reports from the region said Tahrir al-Sham Hay'at also imposed control over Ram Hamdan, Hazreh, Kafr Yahmoul, Ma'arat Mesrin, Tarmanin, Tala'adat Waqah, Aqrabat, Kafr Lousin, Atmeh and Deir Hissan regions in Northern Idlib.
The infighting erupted after a huge blast rocked the base of the foreign members of Tahrir al-Sham Hay'at in Central Idlib, inflicting tens of casualties on the terrorist group.
Militant-affiliated sources reported that a bomb-laden car was detonated in front of a building called 'National Salvation Government' in the Center of Idlib city.
The sources added that the building belongs to the Uzbek militants of Tahrir al-Sham, saying that at least 15 militants were killed and tens of others were wounded in the explosion.
Tensions have intensified among the terrorists in Idlib province in recent days.
Full report at:
Northern Syria: US Sets up New Base in Manbij amid Turkish Military Threats
Apr 03, 2018
The sources said that the coalition has established a new military base in al-Awn region North of the town of Manbij along the regions occupied by the Turkey-led Euphrates Shield forces.
The sources went on to say that the US and French forces that have recently arrived in Manbij are expected to deploy in the new base.
They added that US and French forces have dispatched a sum of 300 soldiers and a large number of armored vehicles and heavy military equipment to a region in Northern Aleppo between Manbij and territories controlled by the Euphrates Shield forces.
In the meantime, the US troops have embarked on patrolling in a region between the Kurdish-held regions and the regions occupied by the Euphrates Shield forces near Sajour River and along Syria's border with Turkey.
The development comes after the French president announced a hike in the number of French forces deployed in Northern Syria after his Turkish counterpart threatened to occupy the Kurd-held Manbij.
Militant-affiliated sources reported on Tuesday that the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) forwarded more gunmen and military hardware to the strategic town of Manbij in Northern Syria amid Turkey's move to purge the town of the Kurds.
The sources said that the SDF dispatched a new convoy of fighters and military equipment from Kurdish-held regions in Northern and Eastern Syria to Manbij in Northeastern Aleppo on Sunday.
Full report at:
Over 1,100 Jeish Al-Islam Militants Leave Douma for Northern Syria
Apr 03, 2018
The sources reported that a sum of 1,130 militants from Jeish al-Islam and their family members left the town of Douma on 22 buses via al-Wafedeen safe corridor for the town of Jarabulus at the border with Turkey.
A fresh wave of tension and clashes has erupted among Jeish al-Islam militants after the start of their withdrawal from their main bastion city of Douma.
On Saturday, the Syrian army command announced that the government forces liberated all the towns and cities in the embattled Damascus suburb except for the town of Douma which remained under the control of militants.
According to Maj. Gen. Yuri Yevtushenko of the Russian Reconciliation center, a preliminary agreement on the withdrawal of Jeish al-Islam militants from Syria's Eastern Ghouta was reached.
More than 40,000 people returned to Syria’s Ghouta
3 April 2018
Russia’s defense ministry said on Tuesday that more than 40,000 civilians who had fled Syria’s eastern Ghouta have returned, Interfax agency reported.
The government offensive on Ghouta has been one of the deadliest of the war, killing more than 1,600 civilians, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. The government says it is restoring security to Damascus, which was regularly shelled from eastern Ghouta during the war.
In the past 24 hours, 1,123 rebel fighters and their families have left the town of Douma in eastern Ghouta, Interfax citied the Russian Ministry of Defence.
Full report at:
Syrian army forces uncover Israeli, NATO-made munitions in Dayr al-Zawr
Apr 3, 2018
Syrian government forces have discovered a considerable amount of Israeli-made munitions, including chemical warfare, left behind by Daesh Takfiri terrorists in the country’s eastern province of Dayr al-Zawr near the border with Iraq.
Syria’s official news agency SANA reported that Syrian army troopers launched clean-up operations in the villages of al-Salihiyah, al-Dweir, al-Kishma and Sabikhan southeast of Mayadin town, located about 44 kilometers southeast of the provincial capital city of Dayr al-Zawr, and discovered Israeli-built chemical substances, explosive materials and weapons there.
Syrian soldiers also uncovered several artillery shells produced by some members of the US-led North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).
An unnamed Syrian military source said many rocket-propelled grenades were found inside the Daesh arms cache in Salihiyah, while the depot in Dweir contained rocket launchers as well as mortar shells of different kinds.
In Kishma village, Syrian soldiers uncovered anti-armor missiles.
About 60,000 rounds of bullets and several barrels of chemicals used in the manufacture of explosives were also found in Sabikhan.
This is not the first time that Syrian government forces have made such findings from terrorists' hideouts across the war-ravaged Arab country.
Syria’s state-run television network reported on March 28 that army forces had discovered a considerable amount of Israeli-made landmines and grenades left behind by Takfiri terrorist groups inside a secret underground tunnel in the town of Harasta, located 10 kilometers (6.2 miles) from the center of Damascus, as they were combing the areas of hidden ordnance and unexploded devices.
SANA published video footage on February 27, showing a cache of Israeli-built rockets, mortars, tank shells and other ammunition that Daesh terrorists had left behind in the eastern border city of Abu Kamal as well as Mayadin town.
In September 2016, Israeli legislator Akram Hasoon accused the Tel Aviv regime of directly providing military assistance to members of the Jabhat Fateh al-Sham Takfiri terrorist group, formerly known as al-Nusra Front, in the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights.
Hasoon, in a post published on his Facebook page, said the extremists were shelling the Druze village of Khadr under the generous support and protection of Israeli Minister of Military Affairs Avigdor Lieberman.
He wrote that Israel had offered advanced technological equipment to Jabhat Fateh al-Sham militants in order to give them the upper hand in clashes with Syrian government forces.
Full report at:
Saudi Arabia funds humanitarian plan in Yemen with half a billion dollars
3 April 2018
Saudi Arabia has raised $0.5 bln to contribute to the 'humanitarian plan' in Yemen, and the United Arab Emirates has granted the same amount.
The United Nations Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, said Tuesday from Geneva at a conference held for Yemen that Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, which are involved in the conflict to restore the internationally recognized Yemeni government to power, have "generously donated" $930 mln to the humanitarian aid plan for this year.
Kuwait has also raised $250 mln for Yemen's humanitarian plan, while the European Union has provided 107 mln euros.
Guterres explained that there is an opportunity to resolve the conflict in Yemen and must be used, pointing out that the UN envoy is working on the Yemeni plan for a solution.
The United Nations has requested donations worth $3 bln to fund Yemen's humanitarian needs.
UN chief seek peace talks with Iran-allied Houthis
United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres urged the warring sides in Yemen on Tuesday to reach a political settlement to end a four-year-old conflict that has left 22 million people in urgent need of aid.
Yemeni Foreign Minister Abdel-Malek al-Mekhlafi echoed the call for a return to the negotiating table and said that his internationally-recognised government was working to open ports and airports to humanitarian aid.
The UN conference, which is seeking pledges towards a $3 bln funding appeal to address the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, takes place a day after an air strike by the Arab coalition fighting in Yemen killed 12 civilians in the coastal city of Hodeidah and the Houthi rebels later targeted Saudi Arabia’s southern border area with a missile.
“A negotiated political settlement through inclusive intra-Yemeni dialogue is the only solution. I urge all parties to engage with my new Special Envoy, Martin Griffiths, without delay,” Guterres told the one-day conference.
“All ports must remain open to humanitarian and commercial cargo, the medicines, food and the fuel needed to deliver them. Sanaa airport is also a lifeline that must be kept open,” he said.
The war has killed more than 10,000 people, displaced more than 2 million and driven the country - already the poorest on the Arabian Peninsula - to the verge of famine. Hodeidah is Yemen’s biggest port where most of the humanitarian aid enters for millions of hungry civilians but the government accuses Houthis who control the port of smuggling weapons through it.
Mekhlafi said: “We need to find the ideal solution which is a return to the talks table, to put an end the war, to return to a sustainable system supported by the people of Yemen, including the putschist parties and those supported by the international community.”
The country’s unity and territorial integrity must be preserved, he added.
When the Houthis fired missiles at Riyadh last November, the Western-backed coalition responded by shutting Yemen’s airports and ports. The United Nations said that blockade raised the danger of mass starvation and it was partially lifted.
“It is a war that should end, so we need a ceasefire, we need peace talks, we need an end to the embargo on many of Yemen’s ports,” Jan Egeland, secretary-general of the Norwegian Refugee Council, told Reuters.
“But we also ask Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Iran - who are supporting opposing sides - and for that matter, the United Kingdom, the United States, who are earning enormous sums of money on arms sales to this conflict to push the parties to the table.”
Full report at:
‘Punish A Muslim Day’ Generates Anger, Fear And Solidarity In Britain
By Jennifer Hassan
April 3, 2018
The letters arrived in March. Sent anonymously to multiple communities, the letters with words in bold at the top declared that Tuesday, April 3, would become “Punish a Muslim day” in Britain.
Sent to homes, lawmakers and at least one business, the documents detailed a disturbing point-based system that would award attackers for acts of hatred and violence: 10 points for verbally abusing a Muslim; 500 points for “butchering a Muslim using a gun, knife, vehicle or otherwise.”
“Punish A Muslim Day” letters are being sent to families in East London. The letter details a point system for each action & a reward. For example pulling a Muslim women’s hijab is 25 points, throwing acid is 50 points and burning or bombing a mosque is a whole 1,000 points. pic.twitter.com/6kmCrDrXt0
— Rowaida Abdelaziz (@Rowaida_Abdel) March 9, 2018
Police launched an investigation, urging communities to stand together.
A spokesman for the Metropolitan Police service told London's Evening Standard that there is “no credible information” that any hate crimes would happen on Tuesday. By Tuesday evening, there were no news reports of hate crime incidents relating to the “Punish a Muslim day.”
At a time when hate crimes are on the rise and British Muslims are repeatedly feeling the sting of the xenophobia that surfaced during and after the 2016 Brexit vote, the letters caused distress, not just to those receiving them, but also in the broader Muslim community.
As April 3 approached, many took to social media to share their thoughts on the hate campaign. Some posts urged British Muslims to take care and look out for one another. Others were determined that the letters would not cause them to change their daily habits.
“I've been seeing Whatsapp messages, snaps, Facebook statuses & other folks telling Muslims, particularly hijabi women, not go out tomorrow because of ‘Punish a Muslim Day.’ Every woman should do what makes her feel comfortable, but I am choosing to go about my normal day. Try me,” Rowaida Abdelaziz wrote on Twitter on Monday night.
On Tuesday, many Brits returned to work after the four-day-long Easter break. For British Muslims, the day was filled with a heightened sense of anxiety, far more than just the “back to work blues.” Some took the day off. Others asked to telework. By lunchtime, #PunishAMuslimDay had been used more than 26,000 times and was one of the top Twitter trends in the United Kingdom.
“I took the day off to take my mum to work at the NHS [National Health Service]. If it were not for her, the patients wouldn't be fed. She refused to neglect her job and went,” said one British Muslim who spoke on the condition of anonymity out of concerns linked to the hate campaign. “I didn't want to regret not being available for my mum should something happen. It was my way of coping with my own anxiety, too.”
“The impact is the anxiety and fear on our whole family,” she continued. “My non-Muslim friends are allies. They get down in the pain with me and ask how they can help.”
Angry at the lack of reassurance or response from the government, many demanded answers.
“Is a UK gov't minister going to say anything about #PunishAMuslimDay today? You know, offer reassurance, give an update on counter-terror investigation, say what they're doing on anti-Muslim bigotry? Or is that too much to ask, even when a Muslim Tory minister is threatened?” tweeted writer Sunny Hundal.
Hundal was referring to Housing Secretary Sajid Javid, a member of the Conservative Party and of Prime Minister Theresa May's Cabinet. Other lawmakers also have received the letters.
“This government condemns any attempt to sow hatred- persecution of anyone based on their race or religion has no place in our society,” Susan Williams, a Home Office minister in the House of Lords, tweeted Tuesday using the hashtag #WeStandTogether.
3rd of April has been planned as a "PunishAMuslimDay" To help our community feel safe, we have organised the #ProtectAMuslimDay initiative. We have organised volunteers from around the UK to help you if you feel unsafe on the day, call: 07985606148 or 07985601849. More info 👇🏼 pic.twitter.com/XbzWd9qMC5
— Jamilla جميلة (@JamillaTweets) March 28, 2018
An outpouring of solidarity and acts of kindness weren't hard to find on social media. #LoveAMuslimDay events were organized along with the “Protect a Muslim day” initiative. Helpful and sensitive reminders on what to do if you witness abuse circulated online.
Others offered transportation to those scared to take public transportation.
If anyone needs a lift tomorrow home from Salford/Trafford back to Bolton/Bury so you can avoid public transport, please let me know. No one should feel scared to leave the house #PunishAMuslimDay
— amy-beth (@amybethhunter) April 2, 2018
Jennifer Hassan is the social media editor for the Foreign desk at The Washington Post. She is based in London. Before joining The Post in 2016, Jennifer was global community manager for the international chat app Viber. Follow @GuinnessKebab
UN chief urges Yemeni sides for political settlement
04 April 2018
The UN secretary-general on Tuesday urged warring sides in Yemen for a political settlement.
Speaking at a high-level pledging conference in Geneva held to discuss the crisis in Yemen, Antonio Guterres asked donor countries to provide nearly $3 billion in aid to the country where humanitarian access is restricted in 90 percent of districts.
"Yemen is the world’s worst humanitarian crisis. As the conflict enters its fourth year, more than 22 million people – three-quarters of the population – need humanitarian aid and protection.
"We must see action to end the conflict...There are no humanitarian solutions to humanitarian crises. A negotiated political settlement through inclusive intra-Yemeni dialogue is the only solution. I urge all parties to engage with my new Special Envoy, Martin Griffiths, without delay," Guterres said.
The 2018 Humanitarian Response Plan for Yemen requires $2.96 billion to reach more than 13 million people across the country.
"Some 18 million people are food insecure; one million more than when we convened last year. A horrifying 8.4 million of these people do not know how they will obtain their next meal," Guterres said.
"Yemen’s situation today is catastrophic. But with international support, we can and must prevent this country from becoming a long-term tragedy," he said.
Noting that last year’s donor conference raised $1.1 billion for humanitarian action in Yemen, Guterres said Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have provided $930 million and pledged to secure an additional $500 million from the region while other donors have contributed some $293 million so far which means 40 percent of the requirements have been provided for the year.
"The scale of suffering that we see in Yemen requires rapid, full funding for the 2018 response plan," said Guterres, adding: "The plan is prioritized so that every dollar goes where it is urgently needed. I urge all to do whatever is possible."
Noting that all ports must remain open to humanitarian and commercial cargo, the medicines, food and the fuel, Guterres said: "Humanitarians must be able to reach the people who need help the most, without conditions."
"Humanitarian agencies and their partners need full and unconditional access at all times. But humanitarian agencies report access constraints in 90 percent of districts in Yemen," Guterres said.
Yemen has remained dogged by conflict since 2014, when the Houthi militia overran much of the country, including the capital Sanaa.
In 2015, Saudi Arabia and its Arab allies -- who accuse the Houthis of serving as a proxy force for Iran -- launched a wide-ranging military campaign aimed at rolling back Houthi gains and shoring up Yemen’s Saudi-backed government.
Several children were killed in an attack on Monday in the coastal city of Hodeida in western Yemen and many children are reported missing, UN children’s fund, UNICEF said on Tuesday.
Full report at:
Anti-Islam rhetoric alarms German foreign ministry
April 04, 2018
Berlin’s foreign policy establishment is growing increasingly uneasy at the anti-Islam rhetoric deployed by the Christian Social Union (CSU), a conservative coalition partner of Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats (CDU). In particular, foreign ministry officials fear that recent attacks on Kuwait Airways by CSU ministers could impact Germany’s relations with the Muslim world.
Under pressure from the right-wing Alternative for Germany (AfD) party, senior CSU figures have made provocative statements on Islam in recent weeks. Immediately after taking office, Horst Seehofer, Germany’s interior minister and the CSU chairman, claimed “Islam is not a part of Germany”.
Mr. Seehofer’s statement was challenged by Ms. Merkel, and was widely criticized as damaging the country’s efforts to integrate its minority populations. However, CSU ministers have continued to make publicity-grabbing statements on Islam, in what is clearly a coordinated effort to win back support from the AfD ahead of October’s Bavarian regional elections.
Interfaith community stands against Islamophobia as “Punish a Muslim” fliers circulate online
April 04, 2018
Imam Mohammad Ali Elahi said the interfaith community is ready to stand against Islamophobia and other hatred April 3 at the Islamic House of Wisdom in Dearborn Heights.
The press conference, held on the eve of the 50th anniversary of the death of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., was called in response to community concern following the appearance of “Punish a Muslim April 3” fliers encouraging violence that are circulating on social media.
Dearborn Police Chief Ronald Haddad said, as a rule, he wouldn’t dignify the threats on the fliers, but because it can be an igniter for someone else, he said they have put a tactical plan on the street to keep the community safe. He said they are protecting religious institutions and other soft targets, and have asked residents to report anything suspicious.
The Rev. Edwin Rowe, co-chair of the Michigan Chapter, Methodist Federation for Social Action, said the shock of Islamophobia and other hatred brings the interfaith community together, and called for 40 days of moral action, May 13 to June 21, the Poor People’s Campaign, to confront racism.
The Rev. Bill Wylie-Kellermann, of Detroit, author and community activist, and an advocate of the Poor People’s Campaign, said the interfaith belief in the ultimate reality of love unites people to oppose the hatemongers.
Full report at:
Russia, Turkey agree to speed up S-400 missile deal
Apr 3, 2018
Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan have agreed to hasten the delivery of S-400 air defense missile systems to Ankara.
"We took the decision to speed up the timetable for the delivery of these highly effective Russian systems," said Putin following talks with his Turkish counterpart in Ankara on Tuesday.
He added that the speeding up of the deal was being carried out on "request of our Turkish partners and friends."
"In the military sphere our priority is to fulfill a contract to supply Turkey with S-400 Triumph missile systems. We expect the upcoming meeting of a targeted government-level commission to thoroughly discuss future supplies of Russia's modern military production," he noted.
According to reports the deal is worth around US$2 billion, and the delivery of the S-400s was to initially begin in early 2020.
The United States has reportedly warned Turkey against the consequences of its decision to buy S-400 surface-to-air missile batteries from Russia, saying Washington could slap Ankara with sanctions over such a purchase.
The S-400, whose full name is the Triumf Mobile Multiple Anti-Aircraft Missile System (AAMS), is an advanced Russian missile system designed to detect, track, and destroy planes, drones, or missiles as far as 402 kilometers away. It has previously been sold only to China and India.
Full report at:
AU forces kill 30 al-Shabaab in Somalia
03 April 2018
The African Union peacekeeping mission forces in Somalia (AMISOM) have killed at least 30 al-Shabaab fighters after militants attacked an AU base in the town of Bula Marer in the southern Lower Shabelle region.
The special representative of the chairperson of the African Union Commission for Somalia, Francisco Caetano Madeira, said in a statement that AMISOM troops had fought off and successfully pushed back al-Shabaab militants Sunday.
"The militants were dealt a heavy blow, with at least 30 of them put out of action, following intense fighting," Madeira said in the statement.
The head of the African Union peacekeeping mission statement also confirmed that that four AMISOM soldiers had killed and six others injured.
Brig. Richard Karamire, Ugandan People's Defence Force (UPDF) spokesman told Anadolu Agency earlier, that the victims from the Sunday attack were Ugandan troops who were part of the African Union mission in Somalia.
The al-Qaeda-affiliated insurgent group al-Shabaab claimed that it had killed 59 Ugandan troops, a claim the Somali Security Ministry spokesman had denied.
Bula Marer, is an agriculture town located 120 kilometers (74 miles) southwest of the capital Mogadishu.
6 dead in Mali grave had been in military custody
Apr 3, 2018
Villagers in central Mali said six people found dead in a mass grave last month had been arrested by the military three days earlier, an Amnesty International report said on Tuesday.
The grave, uncovered in the Mopti region on March 25, is the latest in a spate of killings and kidnappings ahead of a July presidential election, that rights groups say are being conducted by the army against suspected sympathizers of extremist groups.
The Malian government and military did not respond to repeated requests for comment. The government has acknowledged some abuses by its forces in the past but also rejects many allegations made by rights groups.
"Civilians in Mali are living in fear," said Amnesty International's West Africa researcher Gaetan Mootoo. "We are urging the Malian authorities to investigate reports of enforced disappearances and extrajudicial killings of civilians in the central region."
Extremist insurgents seized control of Mali's northern desert in 2012 before being driven back by a French-led military intervention a year later. They have since regrouped and carried out attacks further south, winning recruits by playing on local grievances.
In Tuesday's report, Amnesty said 65 people had been killed by improvised explosives used by armed groups since the start of the year, raising concerns about the government's ability to conduct presidential elections planned on July 29.
The UN's independent expert on the human rights situation in Mali reported in February that at least 43 people had been victims of "enforced disappearance" by security forces during anti-militant operations between May and June last year.
Full report at:
Ugandan president confirms 8 soldiers killed in Somalia
04 April 2018
Uganda's President Yoweri Museveni said Tuesday that Sunday's attack by Al-Shabaab killed eight Ugandan soldiers in Somalia.
Al-Shabaab attacked three African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) bases in Lower Shabelle region killing dozens. The military coalition has been fighting Al-Shabaab in the region for more than a decade.
In a tweet the Ugandan president said: "Unfortunately, two vehicles of the enemy entered one of the three sites attacked. One vehicle was detonated and killed eight of our soldiers. May their souls rest in eternal peace."
He added: "Our soldiers in Somalia heroically gave serious blows to Al-Shabaab, killing 36 of them and destroying six vehicles full of explosives. This was because they were alert.
Full report at:
Is proposed amnesty for Boko Haram members advisable?
April 4, 2018
It is not advisable. It would be like organising a tea party for murderers of innocent Nigerians.
Once you do that, you have no reason not to continue to do it for others. It does not make sense. It is anti-public; it is ethically and morally wrong. If you grant amnesty to this set of people, you are encouraging others to take up arms against ordinary citizens. The first duty of any government anywhere in the world is the protection of lives and property. So, if the Nigerian state has failed in that endeavour, it should not do further damage to the collective destiny of our people by granting amnesty to Boko Haram terrorists.
Boko Haram members ought to come and lay down their arms; they ought to face the wrath of the law. There is no reason why the Nigerian state cannot possess credible and actionable intelligence to rout them out or make them submit to our legal processes in order to account for the evil they have brought on our country.
Boko Haram members caused a lot of damage to this nation. They killed many people, destroyed property, battered the image of this country among the comity of nations. They spilled innocent blood which has been crying out for justice. It would appear as if the Nigerian state is encouraging violence and lawlessness or is powerless if Boko Haram members were granted amnesty.
The Nigerian government must bring them to submission and make those found culpable go through the judicial process that will culminate in appropriate punishment for the guilty.
It (amnesty) is an attempt to allow willful murderers masquerading as political and religious insurgents, who do not respect the basic tenets of humanity and the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, to go free having committed crimes against humanity.
It is nothing but providing a red carpet reception for them for their crimes against the Nigerian state and its people. It further exposes the inefficiencies of our security system in Nigeria. There is a need for us to ask ourselves as a nation: Why should our President offer amnesty to a group that has brought so much pain and anguish to the Nigerian people? Boko Haram has killed no fewer than 10,000 innocent Nigerians for no just cause. In essence, the President wants to take the right for justice attainment away from the victims and their families. This is not proper. This would create a culture of impunity where perpetrators can anticipate immunity, thus jeopardising the governing power of authorities in the future. The last government attempted to grant them amnesty but it failed due to one reason or the other. One of the selling points of the present day government before it came into power was the promise to end Boko Haram not to lay a red carpet for the sect. The sect would not even embrace amnesty because it has been proposed in the past but it failed. The Federal Government should be prepared to face perhaps, a more deadly and sophisticated response, if it is not ready to face this impunity with the instrument of justice. Amnesty for Boko Haram would serve no public interest in terms of the actual reduction of impunity, the violation of human rights and crimes against humanity.
Usman Abdul (President, Campaign for Democracy)
If the Federal Government is ready to show commitment to the amnesty programme, it will achieve credible purposes.
But if you look at the modalities through which the present government is going about amnesty for the Boko Haram terrorists, they are not effective. Suddenly, you just hear that the government has swapped Boko Haram prisoners for some abductees. Is that part of amnesty?
Was it not that kind of attitude that led to the abduction of another set of schoolgirls in the Dapchi area of Yobe State?
The previous government of President Goodluck Jonathan also had amnesty for the Niger Delta militants and we all know what became of it.
The government should put the correct mechanism in place. I believe there is nothing wrong in granting amnesty. This should be in the areas of reintegrating these repentant members back into the society. They should be trained in vocations and made comfortable in their villages.
It is not about releasing their commanders who go back to regroup and cause more mayhem in our communities.
That kind of thing is a vicious cycle and must not be allowed to continue.
Hector Ehiguina (Benin-based legal practitioner)
Worldwide, some countries provide opportunities for individuals who want to surrender their weapons to do so for peace to reign in such countries. If the proposed amnesty for Boko Haram members is one that will ensure that the menace ceases, then it is a good one.
I believe in dialogue. So, if there is a piece of advice from a competent authority that negotiating with Boko Haram will bring the attack to an end, I do not have a problem with that. Remember, former President Goodluck Jonathan granted amnesty to Niger Delta agitators. That amnesty brought about peace in the region.
A crime is a crime. But if the amnesty will bring peace, I do not have a problem with it. Besides, many countries are embracing dialogue today. On whether the Boko Haram members will accept the amnesty, I am aware that there are people negotiating on behalf of the Federal Government. I am also sure that there are people negotiating on behalf of the insurgents.
However, I know that people will play politics with the proposal for amnesty. I do not think that it is necessary at this time because they have killed many innocent Nigerians. We just have to let the menace stop because it reduces foreign investments, hampers development and causes a lot of problems. So, politics should not come into it.
Mr. Jackson Ojo (Member, International Institute of Professional Security)
The Federal Government should not think of granting amnesty to Boko Haram or members of any other terrorist organisation because that will spell doom for us as a nation. Granting amnesty to terrorists will, at the end, be more disastrous and I pray the Federal Government would shelve the idea.
Terrorism is quite different from civil unrest and the activities of ethnic militias. Terrorists are sadists and it is difficult if not impossible for them to change. For example, if they are two million terrorists and 1,999, 000 repent the remaining one will carry on with the evil. Even those who they want to give amnesty to will not stop their evil.
The Boko Haram that our government is proposing to give amnesty to have been ranked as the third most dreaded terrorist group in the world. Their members are not only Nigerians. They have members from other parts of West Africa and even Africa as a whole. So, how do you negotiate with these people?
I can predict what they will do if the Federal Government grants them amnesty. The first thing they will do is that they would use any money they realise to further buy weapons. They will agree to the amnesty deal and they will use that to penetrate the Federal Government and any money they get from this will be used to buy weapons. We should not negotiate an amnesty deal with these terrorists, what we need to do is to face them. That is the only language they understand. The United States of America which is over 200 million per cent bigger and richer than Nigeria did not negotiate amnesty with terrorists. If we do it, it will spell doom for the whole nation.
Retired Justice Mustapha Akanbi (A former Chairman, Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission)
Amnesty for what? If somebody commits a crime, you can reduce the penalty but not grant him amnesty. If your father, mother, son or child is among those killed, you can never forgive those who committed the crime let alone grant the killers amnesty. As far as I am concerned, the law must take its course.
I feel that we are stretching this amnesty thing too far, when people commit a crime, instead of punishment we say we are giving them amnesty. I do not think amnesty is the answer. You grant a man amnesty for committing a crime and you are not doing anything for the victims. My advice is that the Federal Government should revisit the issue if it has proposed it. They should bear in mind the outcome. Imagine someone who is living in Ilorin going to a mosque in Maiduguri or Adamawa State or going to any of those states to do business and getting killed by Boko Haram, he is gone for good.
Full report at:
16 Saudi Troops Killed in Clashes with Yemeni Army, Popular Forces
Apr 03, 2018
A sum of 16 Saudi Army soldiers have been killed in conflict with the Yemenis in Southern Saudi Arabia, the Doha-based Al Jazeera news agency reported.
Yemen's missile units also targeted a Saudi military base in Asir region.
In a relevant development on Saturday, the Yemeni armed forces blew up two armored vehicles of Saudi soldiers in attacks on the kingdom’s Southern border regions.
The Arabic-language al-Masirah television network reported that the first Saudi car was destroyed in a Yemeni mortar attack in the Jizan region on Saturday.
The second vehicle was destroyed when a booby trap went off at the al-Sadis military base in Najran region, the report added.
Additionally on Saturday, the Yemeni army's artillery unit fired missiles at gathering places of Saudi troops in several military bases in Najran.
Seven Saudi soldiers were further killed in the Yemeni sniper fire in both Njaran and Jizan.
Meanwhile, Yemeni missile strikes targeted Saudi forces and mercenaries at the Alab border crossing in the Southwestern Asir region.
Earlier on Saturday, Yemeni forces fired a short-range Badr-1 ballistic missile at a base belonging to the Saudi Arabian National Guard Forces in Najran.
Saudi Arabia and its regional allies attacked Yemen in March 2015 to bring back to power the deposed president of Yemen Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi.
A sum of 15,700 Yemenis have been killed in the Saudi-led attacks and over 2,000 have lost their lives due to cholera epidemic.
Yemeni Army Continues Ballistic Missile Attacks on Saudi Military Bases in Asir Province
Apr 03, 2018
Al-Jarbah Base in Dhahran district was targeted with a short-range Badr-1 missile, the Arabic-language al-Masirah television network reported.
It noted that the projectile had hit the designated target with great precision.
The development came a day after Yemeni forces fired a ballistic missile at another military base in the kingdom’s Southwestern border region of Jizan.
Meanwhile, the Yemeni army targeted Talah military base in Saudi Southern region of Najran with multiple rockets and mortar shells, inflicting damage to the base.
Furthermore, a number of Saudi mercenary forces were killed in Kersh district of Yemen’s southwestern province of Lahij after Yemeni troops launched an attack against their positions. Separately, scores of Saudi-sponsored militiamen loyal to Yemen's former president Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi were killed or wounded when Yemeni troops and their allies attacked their position in the Hamir area of Wazi'iyah district in the southwestern Yemeni province of Ta’iz.
The Yemeni Ministry of Human Rights announced in a statement on March 25 that the Saudi-led war had left 600,000 civilians dead and injured during the past three years.
The United Nations says a record 22.2 million Yemenis are in need of food aid, including 8.4 million threatened by severe hunger.
The Saudi aggression was launched in March 2015 in support of Yemen’s former Riyadh-friendly government and against the country’s Ansarullah movement, which has been running state affairs in the absence of an effective administration.
Full report at:
Syrian people shattered Israel’s invincibility myth: Iran FM
Apr 3, 2018
Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif says the Syrian people have shattered the myth of invincibility of the Israeli regime through their resistance against Tel Aviv’s acts of aggression during past years.
Zarif made the remarks while speaking to reporters upon arriving in the Turkish capital, Ankara, when he and Iran's President Hassan Rouhani are to take part in a tripartite summit on Syria.
The summit will also be attended by Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin.
“Everybody must accept that firstly, the problem of Syria must be solved through a political solution, and secondly, accept that this political solution must be reached by the Syrian people,” Zarif said.
Iran's top diplomat added, “Of course, the Zionist regime (of Israel) has continued its acts of aggression [against Syria], but we recently witnessed the shattering of the myth of the Zionist regime’s invincibility through the resistance of the Syrian people.”
On February 10, the Syrian military downed an intruding Israeli F-16 warplane returning from a bombing raid on an army base in central Syria.
The Israeli military confirmed that one F-16 had gone down in northern Israel and that its two pilots had ejected and had been located and transferred to hospital. It later announced that one of the pilots was in serious condition.
Syrian government forces on March 28 discovered a considerable amount of Israeli-made landmines and grenades left behind by Takfiri terrorist groups inside a secret underground tunnel in Eastern Ghouta region on the outskirts of the capital Damascus.
Syria’s state-run television network reported that army troopers made the discovery in the town of Harasta, located 10 kilometers (6.2 miles) from the center of Damascus, as they were combing the areas of hidden ordnance and unexploded devices.
The Iranian foreign minister added that foreign countries should accelerate the process of the settlement of the Syria crisis through political channels instead of making decisions for the Syrian people, drawing up the Arab country's constitution, and provoking the negotiating sides.
Zarif said the US presence in the region has led to the widening of ethnic gaps in Syria and Washington's short-sighted policies on the war-ravaged country have resulted in "serious threats" to the region.
The Iranian foreign minister emphasized that empowering the Syrian government and providing it with more support were the best ways to counter the US.
Russia, Iran and Turkey have been acting as guarantor states in peace talks for Syria in Astana, Kazakhstan. The three countries have helped set up de-escalation zones across Syria to reduce fighting on the ground.
Only after US President Donald Trump talked of a pullout from Syria in the near future, a new report said the US military had been working on plans to dispatch dozens of additional troops to the northern parts of the Arab state.
Citing several US defense and administration officials, CNN reported on Monday that the plans have been under discussion for several days and were first considered before Trump’s remarks last week.
The US president announced on March 29 that Washington would withdraw from Syria "very soon,” just hours after the Pentagon highlighted the need for American troops to remain in the war-torn country.
Full report at:
Arab League calls for Security Council probe into Israel’s killings in Gaza
Apr 4, 2018
The Arab League (AL) has condemned Tel Aviv’s “crimes against humanity” in Gaza, voicing support for investigations by the UN and the International Criminal Court (ICC) into Israel’s recent killing of 18 unarmed Palestinian protesters.
The pan-Arab body convened at the regional grouping’s headquarters in Cairo on Tuesday on an ad hoc basis to address Israel’s attacks on anti-occupation Palestinian demonstrators on March 30.
Gazans on that day marched to the fence separating the enclave from Israeli-occupied lands at the start of a six-week protest, dubbed “The Great March of Return.”
The mass protest, however, turned violent when Israeli military forces used lethal force to disperse the crowd. Besides the 18 killed, some 1,500 Gazans were also injured.
Israel had previously deployed military vehicles and special forces, including 100 snipers, to Gaza’s border. The regime’s forces had also the permission to shoot at the demonstrators.
“The AL condemns the Israeli obvious, systematic, and large-scale crimes against the defenseless Palestinian civilians that are considered war crimes and crimes against humanity according to the international humanitarian law and the international human rights law,” a final statement said.
The organization also backed a request by the Palestinian Hamas resistance movement for the League to sue Israel at the ICC for its crimes against Gazans.
Addressing the meeting, Arab League Secretary General Ahmad Aboul Gheit called on the United Nations Security Council to form an international commission to investigate Israel’s killings.
“Going to the UN General Assembly to provide protection to the Palestinian people and form an investigation commission will be an option if the Security Council continues to fail,” he added.
The Security Council held an emergency meeting over the mass killing by Israeli forces on Saturday, but failed to condemn the regime as the US hindered a final statement against its ally.
Aboul Gheit’s second-in-command Saeed Abu Ali stressed that the deaths had been caused after Israel deployed weapons against unarmed people.
Also addressing the meeting, Palestinian Ambassador to Cairo Diab al-Louh said the US is “encouraging” Israel to continue committing “heinous crimes” against defenseless Palestinians.
Israel “has occupied more than 60 percent of the West Bank, builds illegal settlements, and continues to impose a crippling blockade on Gaza,” he added.
The regime has defended its bloodshed in Gaza and even threatened a more violent response to future protests on Gaza’s border.
The Israeli minister for military affairs, Avigdor Lieberman, has rejected calls for a probe into the killing of Palestinians by the regime forces, saying, “We shall not cooperate with any commission of inquiry.”
Full report at:
Iranian president calls for end to ‘illegal’ foreign military presence in Syria
Apr 3, 2018
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has slammed unauthorized military presence of foreign forces in Syria, calling for an end to such “illegal” intervention.
“From our viewpoint, the presence of foreign forces in Syria without authorization of the country's government is illegal and must be stopped,” Rouhani said in Tehran on Tuesday ahead of his flight to the Turkish capital city of Ankara.
Rouhani and his Russian and Turkish counterparts, Vladimir Putin and Recep Tayyip Erdogan, respectively, will discuss the ongoing situation in the war-torn Arab country on Wednesday.
The important point about the trilateral summit is total exclusion of Western countries, especially the United States, despite claims by Washington that it has been playing a leading role in the fight against terrorist groups in Syria.
The Iranian president pointed to the ongoing issues in Syria, including ethnic disputes, foreign support for terrorism and the US presence in the country, adding, “The Americans seek to prevent the Syrian government from taking control of all areas and they even think about partitioning the country.”
He also noted that Israel’s bombardment of the Syrian territories and Tel Avi regime’s support for terrorist groups have exacerbated the ongoing crisis in the country.
Rouhani underlined Iran’s position on Syria, including the need for the settlement of the crisis through dialogue, continuation of anti-terrorism campaign until complete eradication of all terrorist groups, and determination of the future of the country by the Syrian people without any foreign intervention.
The president also pointed to the humanitarian crises across Syria and called on the international community to deliver more aid to the people in the country.
The Ankara summit will be the second such meeting among the presidents of Iran, Russia and Turkey, as guarantors of ceasefire in Syria. Their first meeting on the issue was held in Russia’s resort city of Sochi on November 22 last year.
“The issue of reconstructing Syria as well as drawing up and amending a new Constitution are the key matters, which are important for the future of Syria and they will be discussed during the trilateral meeting,” Rouhani pointed out.
In the process of peace talks for Syria in the Kazakh capital city of Astana, Iran, Russia and Turkey helped set up de-escalation zones across Syria to reduce fighting on the ground.
Full report at:
UN refugee agency urges Israel to ‘reconsider’ decision on cancelling migrant deal
Apr 3, 2018
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has called on Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu “to reconsider” his decision to renege on an agreement on resettling thousands of African asylum seekers following fierce right-wing criticism.
“UNHCR continues to believe that a win-win agreement that would both benefit Israel and people needing asylum is in everyone’s best interests,” the UN refugee agency said in a statement on Tuesday, encouraging the Israeli regime “to consider the matter further, while standing ready to be of help.”
Netanyahu said in a televised address on Monday that Israel and the UNHCR had reached an agreement “for the departure of at least 16,250 migrants...to Western nations.” However, a few hours later he put the deal on hold until further notice, and earlier on Tuesday changed course in a dramatic move and said that he had cancelled the agreement altogether, after facing pressure from his right-wing base.
“After having heard numerous comments on the agreement, I have examined the pros and cons and have decided to cancel the agreement,” the premier said.
There are currently some 42,000 African migrants in Israel, and more than 1,400 asylum seekers are held in two detention centers, including the notorious Holot facility in Negev desert.
Prior to the deal with the UN, Israel had handed notices to nearly 39,000 asylum seekers, mainly Eritreans and Sudanese, notifying them that they would be deported to Uganda and Rwanda.
In an attempt to end the possibility of forced deportations of thousands of migrants from Israel to the African countries, the agreement was designed so that over 16,000 migrants can instead resettle in Western nations. At a press conference on Monday, Netanyahu had identified Canada, Germany, and Italy as some of the countries set to host the migrants.
Elsewhere in the Tuesday statement, the UN refugee agency expressed regret over Netanyahu’s unilateral move in scrapping the deal, saying “the agreement was the result of discussions over an extended period of time, and reflected a shared effort to find a solution that gave international protection to people arriving in Israel fleeing war or persecution while also meeting the concerns of Israeli host communities.”
The migrants say the Israeli regime has already forced them in their thousands to southern Tel Aviv, intentionally making living conditions unbearable for them. They have been staging regular thousands-strong rallies to condemn the prospect of deportation. The latest protest on March 25 gathered around 25,000.
Israel, however, considers the majority of African asylum seekers to be economic migrants and has said it has no legal obligation to keep them.
Full report at:
Pentagon at odds with Trump over troop withdrawal from Syria
Apr 4, 2018
Top Pentagon and US State Department officials have adopted a totally different policy than that of President Donald Trump regarding the withdrawal of American troops from Syria, saying that the United States will not be leaving the war-torn Arab country anytime soon as the “mission is not over.”
Addressing a forum in Washington, DC, on Tuesday, US Central Command Chief General Joseph Votel said “well over 90 percent” of land once held by the Daesh (ISIL) Takfiri terrorist group in Iraq and Syria had been recaptured, particularly in the north and eastern parts of the country, but added that the military must maintain its presence there.
“There still are some areas where they are present and that we will have to continue to operate on,” Votel said.
Speaking alongside Votel, the State Department's senior envoy to the so-called anti-Daesh coalition, Brett McGurk, agreed that “ISIL is not finished.”
“We are in Syria to fight ISIL. That is our mission and our mission isn’t over, and we’re going to complete that mission,” McGurk said.
The comments were made shortly after Trump said the US would withdraw troops from Syria "very soon," and that he intended to "bring our troops back home."
“As far as Syria is concerned, our primary mission in terms of that was getting rid of ISIL. We’ve almost completed that task, and we’ll be making a decision very quickly, in coordination with others in the area, as to what we’ll do,” Trump said at a news conference with his counterparts from Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.
“Seven trillion dollars in the Middle East over the last 17 years, we get nothing out of it … except death and destruction. It’s a horrible thing,” he added.
The US president also suggested that the country’s military would stay in Syria if other countries, such as Saudi Arabia, would pay for it.
In a speech in the US state of Ohio last week, the US president said the American forces would be “coming out of Syria, like, very soon,” and called on other countries to “take care of it now.”
The US has reportedly more than 2,000 troops stationed in eastern Syria, in addition to several thousand others in the Arab country's north.
The US and its allies have been bombarding what they call Daesh positions inside Syria since September 2014 without any authorization from the Damascus government or a UN mandate.
The strikes have on many occasions resulted in civilian casualties and failed to fulfill their declared aim of countering terrorism.
Syria has on several occasions written to the UN, complaining that the US was flagrantly violating its sovereignty. The US supports militants fighting to topple President Bashar al-Assad and has repeatedly attacked Syrian army positions.
An atypical terror case turns pivotal for FBI; comes to close with 20-year sentence
03rd April 2018
BALTIMORE: It was July 2015 when the FBI, scrambling to contain a surge in Islamic State group propaganda, first visited an Egyptian-American newspaper deliveryman in Maryland.
Agents needed to ask Mohamed Elshinawy why his phone number had surfaced in an investigation involving ISIS extremists and how he came to receive a $1,000 Western Union transaction from Egypt.
During hours of questioning, Elshinawy first suggested the money was from his mother. Next he said it was for an iPhone purchase for a friend. After being reminded it was a crime to lie to federal agents, he proceeded to tell a whole new story — that he had indeed received money from the Islamic State but that he was actually scamming the group instead of planning an attack.
It was a pivotal moment in a months-long FBI investigation. Elshinawy was sentenced Friday to 20 years in prison on terrorism-related charges.
The investigation stretched from a modest townhome northeast of Baltimore across multiple continents, unveiled a shadowy network of illicit payments and shell companies, and revealed a direct link to an ISIS hacker killed in Syria just before Elshinawy's arrest. It also had a chilling twist: Officials say that among the roughly 150 IS-linked cases U.S. authorities have brought since 2014, this is the only prosecution they're aware of in which money was transmitted from IS group operatives abroad to someone in the U.S.
Law enforcement officials involved in the case spoke to The Associated Press about it in detail, recounting a high-intensity investigation that required constant surveillance, the scouring of money transfers and concern that funds sent to Elshinawy would fund an attack.
Brian Nadeau, a Baltimore FBI assistant special agent in charge, said the case raised a lot of red flags.
"Why is the money coming this way? Who is this person? What level are they at?" he said. The FBI, he said, "can't let someone who's receiving ISIS money be out running around. Who knows if we're in the middle of it, the beginning of it, the end, and what their plan is?"
Elshinawy's lawyers didn't return messages seeking comment, but they have argued that his social media and other communications — such as his claim that he was an ISIS soldier and was committed to violent jihad — were protected by the First Amendment, were not directed by the Islamic State and were merely aspirational.
Under a plea agreement, Elshinawy admitted conspiring with the IS group, but he defended himself at his sentencing hearing, saying, "I am not a terrorist," according to the Baltimore Sun.
It's not clear how close Elshinawy came to an attack, though FBI officials said they believed the threat of violence was real. Elshinawy's lawyers said in a sentencing memorandum that he was provided little to no specific direction, though Elshinawy told authorities he was given multiple options for violence, including a suicide bombing, and images of individuals who were potential targets, court papers say.
The Islamic State generally doesn't need to fund attacks in the U.S. given the inexpensive nature of the violence it advocates and its reliance on social media to motivate followers. But officials believe jihadists exploited a personal connection: a childhood friend of Elshinawy's from Egypt who joined the Islamic State in Syria, communicated with him on social media and encouraged him to pledge allegiance to the group.
His technological know-how and skill in covering his electronic tracks — he used encrypted communications applications and proxy servers — likely made Elshinawy a natural conduit, officials said.
Elshinawy received nearly $9,000 in money transfers, including through PayPal accounts, and used the funds for phones, a laptop and a virtual private network for communication with militants overseas. The funds, disguised as money for printers, were routed through a web of wire transfers. Much of it came from a United Kingdom-based IT company run by Siful Sujan, an IS computer hacker killed in December 2015 airstrikes in Syria.
"I think they thought they were going to just have a run-of-the-mill ISIS case, and when they peeled back the onion, they realized that (Elshinawy) was a key node," said Seamus Hughes, deputy director of George Washington University's Program on Extremism, who has written about the case.
The FBI's first interview with Elshinawy came weeks after an attempted rampage at a Prophet Mohammed cartoon contest in Texas and one day after shootings at military facilities in Tennessee.
Officials say he deflected questions about the money transfer with answers they knew were untruthful. At one point he pulled out an iPhone to display a Facebook conversation in Arabic. The English translation he provided was clearly improvised, an FBI official said.
After several hours, he admitted under pressure to receiving the money from the Islamic State but said he was scamming the group because he never intended to commit violence, officials said. He said that his cleverness should be rewarded and that he should be hired by the FBI to help untangle the IS money network, officials say.
The interviews continued over several weeks, and the results from search warrants and subpoenas yielded insights that alarmed officials further.
Elshinawy had pledged allegiance to the Islamic State group in February 2015 and, in conversations with his friend, pronounced himself ready for jihad and asked for advice in bomb-making, court papers say.
He responded to the unrest in Baltimore that followed the death of Freddie Gray by praising violence against police. And, the FBI says, he attempted to recruit a brother in Saudi Arabia to join the Islamic State.
Elshinawy has been in custody since his December 2015 arrest.
Agents searching his home found a box of articles about IS attacks. His laptop held an image of a severed head next to an IS flag, and he accessed on his phone images of government buildings in Baltimore that officials believe were potential targets.
Full report at:
Saudi Crown Prince meets with Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti
3 April 2018
Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman met on Monday with Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti.
During the meeting, both exchanged friendly talks as well as discussed opportunities for economic cooperation within the framework of Saudi Vision 2030.
The meeting was attended by Prince Khalid bin Salman, Saudi Ambassador to the United States and members of the official delegation of the crown prince.
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