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Islamic World News ( 7 Dec 2017, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Jihadi Social Networks Light Up With Threats of Violence, Retribution over Trump Shift on Jerusalem


New Age Islam News Bureau

7 Dec 2017

PressTV-Twitter rages against Trump's US embassy decision

Scores of Twitter users are speaking their mind: Trump must refrain from stirring tension in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict by relocating the US embassy to Jerusalem al-Quds.



 Jihadi Social Networks Light Up With Threats of Violence, Retribution over Trump Shift on Jerusalem

 Iran Says Trump's Al-Quds Move to Spark another Palestinian Intifada

 BJP MP Vinay Katiyar Says Delhi’s Jama Masjid Was ‘Jamuna Devi Temple’

 U.N., European Union and Pope Criticize Trump’s Jerusalem Announcement

 Musharraf Says Open to Alliance with Terror-Designated Lashkar-e-Tayyiba

 Saudi Arabia Describes Jerusalem Decision as Irresponsible and Unjustified


North America

 Jihadi Social Networks Light Up With Threats of Violence, Retribution over Trump Shift on Jerusalem

 Trump Declares Jerusalem Al-Quds as Israel's Capital

 House Democrats Press Tillerson on Trump’s Muslim Retweets

 Allow aid into Yemen, Trump asks Saudis



 Iran Says Trump's Al-Quds Move to Spark another Palestinian Intifada

 Houthis Execute ‘Thousands’ In Two Days: UN’s Yemen Envoy

 Erdogan: US move ‘plays into hands’ of terrorists

 Emergency OIC summit, Arab League meeting called to discuss Jerusalem

 Strikes and protests planned across Palestine over Jerusalem decision

 Ayatollah Khamenei: Palestine will at last be freed

 Iran 'will not tolerate' Trump Jerusalem 'violation': Rouhani

 Document reveals US asks Israel to restrain response to Jerusalem move

 Yemen rebels holding more than 40 media staff: Watchdogs

 Turkish Army, SDF Clash in Northern Aleppo



 BJP MP Vinay Katiyar Says Delhi’s Jama Masjid Was ‘Jamuna Devi Temple’

 Can You Be Arrested For Comparing A Place To Pakistan? It Happened To This Muslim Cleric

 Ambedkar Spurned Bid To Convert Him to Islam: Sushil Kumar Modi

 Ayodhya Case: Muslim Bodies Speak In Different Voices

 3 Pakistanis among 8 LeT men given life sentence

 US Jerusalem recognition: Our position on Palestine is independent, consistent, says India

 On Babri anniversary, message from al-Qaeda in Kashmir calls on Indians to join jihad

 Hosting Zakir Naik, Malaysia Cocks the Snook at India



 U.N., European Union and Pope Criticize Trump’s Jerusalem Announcement

 Pope Francis Urges World Leaders to Respect UN Position on Jerusalem

 Putin declares 'complete victory' on both banks of Euphrates in Syria

 British PM blasts Trump’s ‘unhelpful’ Jerusalem al-Quds move

 UK will ‘destroy and eliminate’ citizens fighting with Daesh



 Musharraf Says Open to Alliance with Terror-Designated Lashkar-e-Tayyiba

 MMA Restoration Is a Trap for Jama’at-e-Islami

 Pakistan condemns US move to recognise Al Quds as Israeli capital

 Shifting US Consulate Tantamount To Disturbing World Peace: Pakistan Ulema Council

 Pakistan says actions taken against all terror groups including Haqqani network

 Two wanted terrorists killed in security forces operation

 Sami says alliance with PTI will block victory of ‘secular forces’


Arab World

 Saudi Arabia Describes Jerusalem Decision as Irresponsible and Unjustified

 Sisi Cautions Trump against 'Complicating' Matters in Middle East: Egyptian Presidency

 Tens of Al-Nusra Front Terrorists Killed in Syrian Army, Air Force Operations in Hama

 Damascus: 5 Terrorist Groups Join FSA to Prevent Syrian Army Advances in Qalamoun

 Syrian Army Cuts Al-Nusra Front's Supply Route to Southwestern Damascus

 Infighting Intensifies Among Terrorists in Quneitra

 Modern Aircraft Deployed in Electronic Warfare against Terrorists in Syria

 Turkish Army Preparing for Imminent Military Operations against Kurdish Forces in Northern Aleppo

 Al-Nusra's Notorious Terrorist Commander Assassinated by Unknown Gunmen in Idlib

 Syrian Army Takes Control of More Key Regions in Deir Ezzur


South Asia

 Rohingya Plight in Bangladesh Raises Fears of Radicalisation

 Bangladesh, Myanmar Youths Are A Sign Of Hope For Asia, Pope Says

 Bangladesh can make robots like Sophia

 Killing of Al-Qaeda leader an example of Afghan Special Forces lethality: Nicholson

 US military release video of airstrike on Taliban Red Unit leader


Southeast Asia

 Taking the Anti-Terror Fight To Islamic Schools in Malaysia

 China Says UN Resolutions 'Cannot Solve' Rohingya Crisis

 Malaysian PM Najib urges Muslims to strongly oppose Jerusalem as Israel’s capital

 The correct protest venue is the Saudi embassy, Muslims told

 ‘Indonesian terrorist held in Marawi radicalised in Malaysia’



 Libyan ISIS Militant Reveals New Details about 2015 Massacre Of Egyptian Copts

 Somali man found guilty in kidnapping of Canadian journalist

 Malawi Muslims Add Weight to Dec 13 Protests in Solidarity With PAC

 Nigeria: U.S. Supreme Court Okays Trump's Latest Travel Ban

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau




Jihadi social networks light up with threats of violence, retribution over Trump shift on Jerusalem

December 6, 2017

Radical jihadi online networks and social media outlets lit up Wednesday, threatening increased attacks targeting U.S. and Israeli interests in the wake of President Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s official capital.

Messages posted to open online forums tied to terror groups, such as al Qaeda and Islamic State, and also passed along encrypted messaging applications such as Signal or Telegram — Islamic State’s preferred mode of secure online messaging — were rife with calls to violence and retribution for Mr. Trump’s policy shift.

One Islamic State Telegram channel on Wednesday posted numerous messages featuring the Al-Aqsa Mosque, the third holiest site in Islam located inside the Old City in Jerusalem, with the caption: “We will be between your soldiers and your weapons and your clothing. We will cut off your heads and liberate Jerusalem for you, God willing,” the SITE Intelligence Group, which monitors radical online postings, reported Wednesday.

In separate messages on other extremist-linked social media sites, posted images featuring the mosque ran alongside statements by Islamic State leaders and field commanders, running under the banner “All of al-Quds is the capital of Palestine” — using the Arabic name for Jerusalem, SITE reported.

On al Qaeda-linked social media sites, programmers resurrected a call to arms by Nasir al-Wuhayshi, the slain leader of the group’s Yemeni cell known as al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, demanding the group’s followers “apply pressure without pause until all of Palestine is conquered.”

The terror group’s fighters and sympathizers must “kill those of the Crusaders we find on our land, and destroy the Western interests” until the state of Israel collapses, according to the al-Wuhayshi quote. The al Qaeda chieftain was killed in a June 2015 U.S. drone strike in Yemen.

Some Palestinian groups are calling for “three days of rage” in protest over Mr. Trump’s decision. Hezbollah Secretary-General Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah is expected to hold a televised address Tuesday, although a statement from the terror group gave no specifics regarding Mr. Nasrallah’s planned comments.

Even before Mr. Trump’s official announcement Wednesday, Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh said the U.S. shift on Jerusalem crosses “every red line” regarding Washington’s relations with the Middle East.

The embassy relocation puts the U.S. on a path toward “dangerous escalation” with the Arab world, possibly sparking a third Palestinian “intifada” or uprising that would plunge the region into another bloody cycle of violence.

The last such revolt, known as the Al-Aqsa intifada, began in 2000 after then-Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon made a personal visit to the Temple Mount, also known as Haram esh-Sharif to Muslims, sparking over four years of vicious fighting between Israelis and Palestinians.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu issued a statement of “profound” gratitude for Mr. Trump’s move, saying he shares the president’s commitment “to advancing peace between Israel and all of our neighbors, including the Palestinians.”

But officials in Iran echoed the warnings on jihadist websites by saying that Mr. Trump’s unilateral decision will meet with a violent response.

“The provocative and unwise decision by the U.S. to recognize [Jerusalem] as the integrated capital of the Zionist regime will not contribute to regional peace and stability,” the Iranian Foreign Ministry said in a statement. “Rather, it will enrage the Muslims and fan the flames of a new intifada, prompting violent acts for which the U.S. and the Zionist regime should stand accountable.”



Iran says Trump's al-Quds move to spark another Palestinian Intifada

Dec 6, 2017

Iran has strongly condemned US President Donald Trump’s decision to move his country’s embassy in Israel to Jerusalem al-Quds, saying the measure will ignite a new Palestinian Intifada (uprising).

In a Wednesday night statement, the Iranian Foreign Ministry said Washington’s recognition of Jerusalem al-Quds as Israel’s capital is a “blatant violation of international resolutions.”

“The Islamic Republic of Iran has always stressed that the most important reason behind instability and insecurity in the Middle East is [Israel’s] continued occupation, the US’ relentless support for the Zionist regime, and denying the oppressed Palestinian nation the right to establish an independent state with al-Quds as it capital,” the statement said.

Describing the US move as “provocative and unwise,” the Iranian Foreign Ministry warned that “recognizing al-Quds as the Israeli regime’s capital” will “provoke Muslims and inflame a new Intifada and intensify extremism and violent behavior for which the US and the Israeli regime will be responsible.”

The statement also called on the international community to pressure the US not to go through with the embassy move or the recognition of Jerusalem al-Quds as the Israeli regime's capital.

The statement was issued shortly after Trump officially declared the disputed city of Jerusalem al-Quds as Israel's capital, despite warnings from around the world that the measure risks triggering a fresh wave of violence in the Middle East.

In a speech at the White House earlier in the day, Trump said his administration would also begin a years-long process of moving the American embassy in Tel Aviv to the holy city.

The announcement was a major shift by Washington that overturns decades of US foreign policy.

Al-Quds eternal Palestinian capital: Abbas

In a televised speech after Trump's announcement, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said Jerusalem al-Quds is the "eternal capital of the State of Palestine."

Abbas added that the US president's speech was "tantamount to the United States abdicating its role as a peace mediator."

"In addition, these measures are considered a reward to Israel for denying the accords and challenging the international law," the Palestinian president stated, adding that the US "encourages the occupation policy, settlements, apartheid and ethnic cleansing."

Meanwhile, Palestinians in the besieged Gaza Strip staged a demonstration against the US and Israel, condemning Trump's recognition of Jerusalem al-Quds as Israel's capital.

The Palestinian resistance movement of Hamas which rules Gaza condemned the US move as "flagrant aggression against the Palestinian people," and called on Arabs and Muslims to "undermine the US interests in the region" and to "shun Israel."

Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh said in a statement that the Palestinian people "know how to respond properly to the disregard of their feelings and sanctuaries."

He added that the decision "will not change the facts of history and geography."

Turkey condemns 'irresponsible' US decision

Reacting to Trump’s speech, the Turkish Foreign Ministry denounced Trump's speech as an "irresponsible statement."

"We call upon the US administration to reconsider this faulty decision which may result in highly negative outcomes and to avoid uncalculated steps that will harm the multicultural identity and historical status of Jerusalem al-Quds," it said.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu also said Trump's recognition does not automatically make Jerusalem al-Quds the capital of Israel.

"You can't come out and say, 'I'm a great power, I can do what I want.' There can be no understanding under which one can say I made such an announcement and it will become reality," Cavusoglu stated, adding that "the whole world opposes” what he described as Washington’s “dangerous” move.

US decision won't weaken Palestinian cause: Assad

The office of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad dismissed Trump's move, saying in a statement it would not undermine the "Palestinian cause."

"The future of Jerusalem al-Quds is not set by a state or a president, but by its history, will, and the determination of those loyal to the Palestinian cause, which will stay alive in the conscience of the Arab homeland until the establishment of a Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital," it said.

Trump's move 'legally null': Jordan

Jordanian government spokesman Mohammad al-Momani told state news agency Petra that Trump's announcement violated longstanding UN Security Council resolutions that "stipulated the non-recognition of the Israeli occupation" of Jerusalem al-Quds' eastern sector and the occupied West Bank.

The kingdom also considered "all unilateral moves that seek to create new facts on the ground as null and void", Momani added.

UN against 'unilateral measures'

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres implicitly criticized Trump's announcement, warning that the Palestinian city’s status must be resolved through direct Israeli-Palestinian negotiations.

"From day one as secretary general of the United Nations, I have consistently spoken out against any unilateral measures that would jeopardize the prospect of peace for Israelis and Palestinians," Guterres said.

Trump’s decision drew a chorus of condemnation from many other countries, including its close allies France and Britain.

"This is a regrettable decision that France does not approve of, and which goes against international law and all the UN Security Council resolutions. The status of Jerusalem is a question of international security that concerns the entire international community, and I'll reaffirm that the status of Jerusalem must be determined by Israelis and Palestinians in the framework of negotiations under the auspices of the United Nations," said French President Emmanuel Macron.

UK Prime Minister Theresa May also said her country disagreed with the US decision before reaching a “final status agreement.”

"We believe it is unhelpful in terms of prospects for peace in the region," May’s spokesperson said.

Israel lays claim to the entirety of Jerusalem al-Quds as its “capital” while Palestinians want its eastern part as the capital of a future state for themselves.

Palestinian leaders have warned that the potential relocation would fuel strong reaction in the region and deliver a death blow to any prospect of resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.



BJP MP Vinay Katiyar Says Delhi’s Jama Masjid Was ‘Jamuna Devi Temple’

December 7, 2017

Amid the ongoing debate over the Ayodhya dispute, BJP MP Vinay Katiyar Thursday claimed that close to 6,000 places have been razed by invading Mughal forces in the past. Katiyar, who had previously claimed that Taj Mahal was a temple, added that Delhi’s Jama Masjid was known as “Jamuna Devi Temple” before the capital was sacked by Mughals. The 17th-century mosque was built by Shah Jahan, who had also built Taj Mahal and Red Fort.

“There were about 6000 places that were broken down by the Mughal emperors. Delhi’s Jama Masjid was originally Jamuna Devi temple, similarly, Taj Mahal was Tejo Mahalaya,” ANI quoted Vinay Katiyar as saying.

Earlier, when the Uttar Pradesh government left out Taj Mahal from its tourism brochure, Katiyar claimed the Mughal mausoleum was, in fact, a Hindu temple which housed an idol of Lord Shiva.

On Tuesday, the Supreme Court began final hearing in the Ayodhya case, 25 years after the demolition of Babri Masjid. The apex court, however, adjourned the hearing till February 8. Appearing for one of the Muslim litigants in the case, senior counsel Kapil Sibal requested the bench headed by Chief Justice Deepak Misra to postpone the hearing until July 2019. Sibal told the court that the verdict would have repercussions outside the court and disturb law and order in the country. He also questioned the “hurry” in concluding the hearing.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, addressing an election rally in Gujarat on Wednesday, lauded the Sunni Waqf Board, Uttar Pradesh, for disagreeing with Sibal’s stand. He attacked the Congress for “the sin of keeping important issues unresolved” for electoral advantage and “making a mess of the country”.

Meanwhile, Sibal clarified that he was not representing the Sunni Waqf Board and sought to de-link his roles as a professional lawyer and a Congress politician. “First of all, I am a professional. I represented Iqbal Ansari,” he said.

On his request to defer the hearing till July 2019, he said: “People of the country know what the BJP stands for. The Prime Minister just proved it today. My plea was that there should be no divisive politics in India.”



U.N., European Union and Pope Criticize Trump’s Jerusalem Announcement

Leer en español


DEC. 6, 2017

ROME — Pope Francis said, “I cannot remain silent.” The United Nations secretary general spoke of his “great anxiety.” The European Union expressed “serious concern.” American allies like Britain, France, Germany and Italy all declared it a mistake.

A chorus of international leaders criticized the Trump administration’s decision on Wednesday to officially recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, calling it a dangerous disruption that contravenes United Nations resolutions and could inflame one of the world’s thorniest conflicts.

Secretary General António Guterres and Pope Francis both expressed alarm that the announcement would provoke new tensions in the Holy City, which is revered by Jews, Christians and Muslims.

Within minutes of Mr. Trump’s speech, in which he said the American Embassy would be moved from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, Mr. Guterres delivered what amounted to a diplomatic rebuke.

Reading a statement outside the Security Council chambers at United Nations headquarters in New York, Mr. Guterres criticized “any unilateral measures that would jeopardize the prospect of peace for Israelis and Palestinians,” underscoring the administration’s departure from decades of American policy.

“Jerusalem is a final-status issue that must be resolved through direct negotiations between the two parties on the basis of the relevant Security Council and General Assembly resolutions, taking into account the legitimate concerns of both the Palestinian and the Israeli sides,” Mr. Guterres said.

“In this moment of great anxiety, I want to make it clear: there is no alternative to the two-state solution,” he said. “There is no Plan B.”

In Rome, Pope Francis prayed that Jerusalem’s status be preserved and needless conflict avoided.

“I cannot remain silent about my deep concern for the situation that has developed in recent days,” Francis said at his weekly general audience at the Vatican. “And at the same time, I wish to make a heartfelt appeal to ensure that everyone is committed to respecting the status quo of the city, in accordance with the relevant resolutions of the United Nations.”

“Jerusalem is a unique city,” he said, “sacred to Jews, Christians and Muslims, where the Holy Places for the respective religions are venerated, and it has a special vocation to peace.”

In especially strong language, the pope added, “I pray to the Lord that such identity be preserved and strengthened for the benefit of the Holy Land, the Middle East and the entire world, and that wisdom and prudence prevail, to avoid adding new elements of tension in a world already shaken and scarred by many cruel conflicts.”

The European Union’s top diplomat, Federica Mogherini, expressed concern about “the repercussions this may have on the prospect of peace.”

In a statement, she reiterated the bloc’s position that Jerusalem should be a future capital of two states, Israeli and Palestinian, and that embassies should not be moved there until the city’s final status was resolved. She cited a 1980 United Nations Security Council resolution that condemned Israel’s attempted annexation of East Jerusalem as a violation of international law.

She called on actors in the region “to show calm and restraint in order to prevent any escalation.”

Within a few hours of Mr. Trump’s speech, eight countries on the 15-member Security Council — including some of America’s closest allies — requested an emergency meeting to be held before the end of the week. Diplomats said it would most likely be scheduled for Friday.

Joakim Vaverka, political coordinator of Sweden’s United Nations mission, said in a statement that the delegations of Bolivia, Britain, Egypt, France, Italy, Senegal, Sweden and Uruguay had sought the meeting, including a briefing by Mr. Guterres, “in light of the statement today by the president of the United States regarding the status of Jerusalem.”

The warnings by the pope, the United Nations and the European Union spoke to a broad fear that Mr. Trump’s announcement would be the death knell for an already moribund peace process and that it would pull the plug on a two-state solution.

Critics of the announcement said the change in policy removed any pretense that the United States is a neutral broker for peace. Palestinians and other Arabs in the region already view the Trump administration as leaning toward Israel’s right-wing government. The change in American policy “destroys the peace process,” said the Palestinian prime minister, Rami Hamdallah.

Some of the United States’ closest allies expressed apprehension.

Prime Minister Theresa May of Britain called Mr. Trump’s decision “unhelpful in terms of prospects for peace in the region.”

President Emmanuel Macron of France, who was in Algeria on Wednesday meeting with the country’s president and other figures, said in a news conference that the decision by Mr. Trump was “regrettable” and that “France and Europe are committed to a two-state solution.” He called on all parties to refrain from violence.

Germany’s chancellor, Angela Merkel, said through a spokesman that her government “does not support this position, because the status of Jerusalem is to be resolved in the framework of a two-state solution.”

Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni of Italy wrote on Twitter: “Jerusalem holy city, unique on earth. Its future will be defined within the framework of the peace process based on the two states, Israel and Palestine.”

In China, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman, Geng Shuang, expressed support for a Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital and urged all parties to the conflict to proceed cautiously. “What we worry about is any potential flare-up of regional tensions,” he said. “The status of Jerusalem is a complicated and sensitive issue.”

Britain’s foreign minister, Boris Johnson, told reporters in Brussels, “Clearly this is a decision that makes it more important than ever that the long-awaited American proposals on the Middle East peace process are now brought forward.”

That process, led by Mr. Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, has seemingly failed to get off the ground.

Leaders in the region had already warned against the move. A statement from the royal palace of King Abdullah II of Jordan, whose kingdom is the custodian of Al Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem, emphasized that the city was critical to “achieving peace and stability in the region and the world.”

In Turkey, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was convening a summit meeting of the main Pan-Islamic body next week in Istanbul to discuss the American move and to show, as his spokesman Ibrahim Kalin told reporters in Ankara, “joint action among Islamic countries.”

Mr. Kalin called the expected change a “grave mistake,” adding that “Jerusalem is our honor, Jerusalem is our common cause, Jerusalem is our red line.”

Iran, unsurprisingly, condemned the change. Its supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, said at a conference in Tehran on Wednesday that it reflected the “incompetence and failure” of the American government.

Like much of Europe, the Vatican has long been sympathetic to the plight of Palestinians. The Vatican established full diplomatic relations with Israel in 1994, and Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI visited Israel and the Palestinian territories.

In 2012, the Vatican called for “an internationally guaranteed special statute” for Jerusalem, with the goal of “safeguarding the freedom of religion and of conscience, the identity and sacred character of Jerusalem as a Holy City, (and) respect for, and freedom of, access to its holy places.”

Francis visited the Holy Land in 2014, but he upset some Israelis by flying by helicopter directly from Jordan to the “State of Palestine,” as the Vatican schedule at the time referred to the territories. He visited Israel afterward.

In 2015, the Vatican entered into a treaty with the “State of Palestine.”

On Tuesday, Francis spoke by telephone to the Palestinian Authority president, Mahmoud Abbas, about the unfolding crisis. Before the pope’s public remarks to the faithful at the Vatican on Wednesday, he met privately with a group of Palestinians participating in interfaith dialogue with officials at the Vatican.

“The Holy Land is for us Christians the land par excellence of dialogue between God and mankind,” he said. “The primary condition of that dialogue is reciprocal respect and a commitment to strengthening that respect, for the sake of recognizing the rights of all people, wherever they happen to be.”

Reporting was contributed by Melissa Eddy and Steven Erlanger from Berlin; Rick Gladstone from New York; Austin Ramzy from Hong Kong; and Alissa J. Rubin from Paris.

Lebanon once fought against French colonialism, now resisting Saudi Arabia, Iran

On last Nov. 22, all ethnic groups in Lebanon marked the 74th anniversary of the country's independence, celebrating the historical day together by singing their national anthem under their national cedar flags. When looking from the outside, it seems normal that a nation celebrate its freedom – but it is not what it looks like. The Prime Minister Saad Hariri case makes the last anniversary stranger than ever. Let us take a brief look at Lebanon's history and find its correlation with Hariri's resignation story.

On Nov. 22, 1943, the French colonial administration in Beirut put an end to the detention of dozens of Lebanese politicians, including the then president and prime minister of the country, and thus we can say Lebanon gained independence from France. As a milestone in history, the Independence Day, celebrated during the past weeks, was also memorized with similar events in Lebanon's history. Hariri, who declared his resignation while he was in Saudi Arabia – according to some, he was forced to resign and was taken hostage in Riyadh – returned to his country on the very same day, namely, on the Independence Day.

Becoming a modern state in the Middle East

Lebanon, after the San Remo Conference in 1920, was left to the French mandate. France formed Lebanon as a separate unit on this date and separated it from Syria by strict boundaries. The most important feature distinguishing this small Middle Eastern country from the others in the region is its highly fragmented demographic structure. The Lebanese constitution recognizes 18 religions and sects as official. Nevertheless, the 1926 constitution, created under the French rule, foresees the fair participation of all the groups in Lebanon in governance, but it has not been able to apply this principle in practice.

Historically, political life in Lebanon has been shaped around the struggle between Arab nationalists who support the unification with Syria, and Arab Christian Lebanese nationalists who were pro-French/Western. During the French-controlled 1920s and 1930s, Lebanese Muslims were the most ardent advocates of independence. The French-sponsored Maronite government dominated all the bureaucratic and administrative mechanisms in the country and the Lebanese identity was built largely on the basis of Maronite activity. Change was possible in 1943, when Lebanon agreed that Christian and Muslim groups in Lebanon would reach a common consensus and that Lebanon was independent of both Syria and France.

Bishara al-Khuri, one of the prominent figures in the Maronite community, and the first prime minister, a Sunni leader, Riad al-Solh, made a mutual agreement on Oct. 7, 1943, to determine the future of both communities and Lebanon in general. According to this treaty, which is now called the National Pact, the unique structure of Lebanon was confirmed. While Maronites confirmed that it was independent of France, a part of the Arab region and culture, Muslims also agreed that Lebanon would not unite with Syria. It was also decided to open administrative and bureaucratic duties to all religious and sectarian groups in the country, and various authorities were allocated to certain denominations.

While the National Pact is still a vital agreement for Lebanon and there is no written text in it, Lebanese prime ministers are sworn in on the National Pact, along with the Constitution.

Along with the treaty, then President Khuri and Prime Minister Solh took action for Lebanon's independence, imprisoning many Lebanese politicians, including both French colonial administrations. The state of detention of the elected prime minister and president of the country ended on Nov. 22, 1943, as a result of intensive protests by the people from every faith and ideological opinion, and on this day the Lebanese people got their independence.

The next stage was an unstable period for Lebanon. During decades of economic and political crises, assassinations and civil wars, Lebanon was heavily influenced by events in the Middle East. As the Cold War continued, the struggle between the United States and the Soviet Union reduced the polarization to an ideological platform for the actors in the country. Since 2000, the Saudi Arabia-Iran disintegration in the Middle East has changed the balance of domestic politics for Lebanon, which has nearly the same amount of Sunnis and Shiites. In 2005, then Prime Minister Rafik Hariri was assassinated in a bombing, and in the following process, trying to protect the dominance of the Syrian-Hezbollah partnership in Lebanon led to bloody consequences.

The son of Refik Hariri, the future leader of the Future Movement (FM), Saad Hariri, sat in the prime minister's seat in 2016, acknowledging a partial reconciliation with Hezbollah. The conflicts in Syria since 2011 had large and hard impacts on Lebanon. Conflicts have sprung up in certain parts of Lebanon, together with Palestinian refugees, the number of migrants in the country has surpassed two million and the Lebanese economy has been unable not withstand the crises.

As Saudi Arabia changes, so do others

Moreover, the anticipated change of power in Saudi Arabia and Mohammad bin Salman's anti-Iran attitude led to the anticipation of a war of fortune in Lebanon following Syria and Yemen. Hariri, who was in Saudi Arabia in this process, announced his resignation as prime minister, accusing Iran of involvement in Lebanon's interior affairs.

Hariri's resignation was interpreted as a result of Saudi Arabia's direct intervention in Lebanon and desire to create a harsh opposition against Iran and Hezbollah in Lebanon. One day after Hariri's resignation, on Nov. 4, the media reported that 11 princes and four ministers from the Saudi dynastic family were arrested. Hariri flew to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) on Nov. 7 and interviewed Mohammad bin Zayed al-Nahyan, the crown prince of Abu Dhabi, the number one partner of Mohammad bin Salman. The Lebanese prime minister's resignation in Riyadh in a period of political intrigue far from his own country increased the Lebanese reaction to Saudi Arabia. Even Hariri's party raised criticism against Saudi Arabia. Despite his denial, some claimed Hariri was arrested in Riyadh with his family.

On Nov. 18, Hariri met with French President Emmanuel Macron, and three days later, with Egyptian coup leader and President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi. Then following a one-day visit to Greek Cyprus, he returned to his country on Nov. 22, Lebanon's Independence Day. He read the Lebanese national anthem with hundreds of Lebanese in front of the prime minister's residence and then announced that he suspended his resignation. By doing so, Hariri thought he would make his position stronger thanks to support from international actors in Lebanon. In terms of Saudi Arabia and Mohammad bin Salman, the situation in Lebanon has become quite bad. The Saudis, who aim to strengthen the anti-Iranian front with new partners in the region, may have to change their policies in the face of the new realities in Lebanon.

Above all, Independence Day on Nov. 22, 2017, was celebrated in an atmosphere of national reconciliation rarely encountered in Lebanese history. Maronite Christians, Sunnis, Shiites, millions of Lebanese, welcomed Hariri's return (or release) with enthusiasm reminiscent of celebrations that took place 74 years ago. The Lebanese people, who defended the independence of their country against France and Syria in the past, today want to protect their freedom from Saudi Arabia and Iran. How much it is possible in the Middle East, where there is a lot of potential for conflicts in a highly unstable environment, is difficult to predict.



Musharraf says open to alliance with terror-designated Lashkar-e-Tayyiba

Dec 07 2017

The former Pakistani president and dictator Pervez Musharraf has said he is open to political alliance with Jamaatud Dawa (JuD), Lashkar-e-Tayyib and its chief Hafiz Saeed.

Musharraf made the remarks during an interview with a local news channel, Aaj News, saying he welcomes the political alliance between him and the two groups.

Musharraf further added that there have been no talks in this regard so far but the are welcome if they intend to start a coalition with him.

The leader of the terrorist-designated Lashkar-e-Tayyiba Hafiz Saeed was released from house arrest late in November.

Since 2012, the United States has offered a U.S. $10 million reward for information that brings Saeed to justice.

Saeed was also individually designated by the United Nations under UNSCR 1267 in December 2008 following the November 2008 Mumbai attack in which 166 people, including six American citizens, were killed. LeT and several of its front organizations, leaders, and operatives remain under both State Department and Treasury Department sanctions.

Washington strongly reacted at the release of the notorious Lashkar-e-Tayyiba leader Hafiz Saeed from the house arrest and warned regarding the repercussions in the event the country did not take any action against him.

The White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said the U.S. “strongly condemns” the release of Hafiz Saeed from house arrest. She urged his “immediate re-arrest and prosecution.”

Huckabee further added “Saeed’s release, after Pakistan’s failure to prosecute or charge him, sends a deeply troubling message about Pakistan’s commitment to combating international terrorism and belies Pakistani claims that it will not provide sanctuary for terrorists on its soil.”

“If Pakistan does not take action to lawfully detain Saeed and charge him for his crimes, its inaction will have repercussions for bilateral relations and for Pakistan’s global reputation,” she added.



Saudi Arabia describes Jerusalem decision as irresponsible and unjustified

7 December 2017

Saudi Arabia described the US decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and move its embassy there as inexplicable, irresponsible and unjustified.

The Kingdom warned earlier of the dangerous consequences of a US decision to move the embassy to Jerusalem. It added that this position discredits Washington’s neutrality with regards to the peace process.

Saudi called on the US administration to review its position and said that this decision on is greatly biased against the rights of the Palestinian people.



North America


Trump declares Jerusalem al-Quds as Israel's capital

Dec 6, 2017

US President Donald Trump has officially declared the disputed city of Jerusalem al-Quds as Israel's capital, despite warnings from around the world that the measure risks triggering a fresh wave of violence in the Middle East.

In a speech at the White House on Wednesday, Trump said his administration would also begin a process of moving the American embassy in Tel Aviv to the holy city, which is expected to take years.

"I have determined that it is time to officially recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel," Trump said. "While previous presidents have made this a major campaign promise, they failed to deliver. Today, I am delivering."

The US leader also said that Vice President Mike Pence will travel to the Middle East in the coming days “to reaffirm our commitment to work with partners throughout the Middle East to defeat radicalism.”

The announcement was a major shift by Washington that overturns decades of US foreign policy.

Trump's decision was mostly aimed at pleasing his main supporters - Republican conservatives and evangelical Christian Zionists who comprise an important share of his voter base.

Trump’s predecessors, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama, had consistently deferred that decision to avoid inflaming tensions in the region.

The entire Jerusalem al-Quds is currently under Israel’s control, while the regime also claims the city’s eastern part, which hosts the third holiest Muslim site.

The city has been designated as “occupied” under international law since the 1967 Arab War, which Palestinians want as the capital of their future state.

Trump had vowed during his presidential campaign that he would relocate the US embassy in order to court pro-Israel voters.

Palestinians have repeatedly warned Trump against such an action, saying it would deliver a death blow to any prospects of the resolution of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and fuel extremism in the region.

A Palestinian envoy said the Trump decision was a declaration of war in the Middle East.

China and Russia also expressed concern the plans could aggravate Middle East hostilities.

Pope Francis joined a list of leaders warning of an historic misstep, saying new tension would further inflame world conflicts.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hailed Trump's recognition as "historic" and a "courageous and just decision."



House Democrats press Tillerson on Trump’s Muslim retweets

By Richard Lardner

December 6, 2017

WASHINGTON — A group of House Democrats is demanding that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson tell them whether President Donald Trump’s frequent use of social media is putting U.S. diplomats and Americans traveling abroad at risk.

In a letter sent Wednesday to Tillerson, the 20 members of the Foreign Affairs Committee said they are extremely troubled over Trump’s retweets last week of inflammatory videos from a fringe British political group that purported to show violence being committed by Muslims.

They said the retweets represent official statements from the president and present “a serious danger” to Americans by promoting Islamophobia, stoking hatred of America and fueling the recruitment of “those who mean harm to our country and citizens.”

They want to know if the State Department contacted the White House to express concern Trump’s retweets of the videos could trigger protests at U.S. embassies. The lawmakers have asked for a briefing “on the effect of the president’s use of social media which has the potential to impact negatively the safety and security of Americans around the world,” according to the letter.

Separately, House Democrats also plan to introduce a resolution that would condemn and censure Trump for retweeting the three videos from Jayda Fransen, deputy leader of Britain First, a far-right British group whose profile was elevated by Trump’s attention.

British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, right, shakes hands with U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson prior to a bilateral meeting on the sidelines of a NATO foreign ministers meeting at NATO headquarters in Brussels on Wednesday, Dec. 6, 2017. The sculpture in the foreground is called ‘The Praying Woman’ by artist Yrsa von Leistner. (Virginia Mayo, Pool/Associated Press)

The move triggered outrage in Britain and led Prime Minister Theresa May to criticize Trump. She said his retweets were “the wrong thing to do” and called Britain First “a hateful organization” that runs counter to “common British decency.”

The censure resolution seeks to condemn Trump “for his reckless behavior on Twitter that can have serious ramifications for Americans serving or working abroad.” The measure also says Trump and his administration should stop encouraging bigoted, nationalist and racist ideology and policies.” The resolution, however, has little chance of passage in the GOP-led House.

One of the videos that Trump retweeted falsely claims to be of a Muslim migrant beating up a Dutch boy on crutches. But the attacker was a Dutch citizen, not a migrant.

The Dutch Embassy responded to Trump’s dissemination of the video with a tweet directed to him: “Facts do matter. The perpetrator of the violent act in this video was born and raised in the Netherlands. He received and completed his sentence under Dutch law.”

Full report at:



Allow aid into Yemen, Trump asks Saudis

Dec 6, 2017

US President Donald Trump has called on Saudi Arabia to “allow food, fuel, water, and medicine” into neighboring Yemen, where the impoverished nation is experiencing a human disaster  in the wake of the monarchy’s aggression.

“I have directed officials in my Administration to call the leadership of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to request that they completely allow food, fuel, water, and medicine to reach the Yemeni people who desperately need it,” read a statement by the president on Wednesday.

The president’s rare move against the US ally stopped short of requesting the monarchy to stop the US-backed bombardment of the Muslim nation.

According to humanitarian policy leader at Oxfam America, Trump's call was long overdue but "hugely important."

"The past month's escalation has killed thousands and condemned thousands more to die in the near future. Millions will die in a historic famine and public health crisis if President Trump's call is not heeded," Scott Paul said in a statement.

He also noted "the fact that US support has helped create Yemen's horrific crisis" and called on Washington to cease military assistance to the aggressors.

Riyadh imposed a tight blockade on nearly all Yemeni air, land and sea ports on November 6, prompting human rights and charity groups to raise the alarm over the deteriorating situation in the country as people, particularly children, are increasingly suffering from the lack of food and medical supplies.

Full report at:





Houthis execute ‘thousands’ in two days: UN’s Yemen envoy

6 December 2017

SANAA/NEW YORK: Yemeni militias on Wednesday dispersed a protest in Sanaa staged by dozens of women demanding the handover of the body of slain former President Ali Abdullah Saleh for burial.

“There is no god but Allah and the martyr is a friend of Allah,” the women shouted in front of the Saleh Mosque, named after the former president, and the largest in the capital.

Witnesses say the protest lasted less than an hour before Houthi militias violently dispersed it. Video footage of the women fleeing the scene was posted on social media.

Witnesses said a second group of women gathered in front of Sanaa Military Hospital, shouting, “The people want the remains of the leader.”

It was unclear on Wednesday whether the Houthis had already buried Saleh’s body, according to the Agency France-Presse.

The previous day, Khaled Hussein Al-Yamani, Yemen’s permanent representative to the UN, revealed that the UN’s special envoy for Yemen, Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, told a closed session of the UN Security Council that Houthi militias are assassinating leaders of Saleh’s General People’s Congress party (GPC).

Al-Yamani said Houthi militants have executed “thousands” of people in the past two days, adding that there is an agreement to evacuate UN humanitarian workers from Sanaa in light of recent developments.

Koro Bessho, president of the UN Security Council, said the council strongly condemns the missile attacks carried out by Houthi militias against Saudi Arabia, stressing that the council has imposed an arms embargo on the rebels.

Stephane Dujarric, spokesperson for the UN secretary-general, called for a negotiated settlement.

In Washington, US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said that Saleh’s murder would either push the conflict toward UN-led peace negotiations, or create an “even more vicious war.”

Either way, he suggested, in the short-term, it would likely worsen an already dire humanitarian situation “for the innocent people” in Yemen.

“This is where we’ve all got to roll up our sleeves,” Mattis said. “What are you going to do about medicine and food and clean water and cholera? I think there has got to be a lot more focus on the humanitarian side right now.”

In another development, the Houthi militias have detained more than 40 media staff, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) said on Wednesday, demanding their immediate release.

They reportedly include staff of Yemen Today — a channel affiliated with Saleh. Houthis overran the channel’s Sanaa offices on Saturday, attaching with rocket-propelled grenades and wounding three guards the press watchdog said.

“This hostage-taking is typical of the climate of hostility in Yemen toward journalists, who are often targeted in this conflict,” said RSF’s Alexandra El-Khazen.

A GPC official said some of the detained staff had since been transferred to prison while others were still being held in the television’s offices.

“The Houthis were exerting pressure on them to change their coverage, to issue certain statements, and report the betrayal of former President Saleh and accuse him of working for the Arab coalition. But the journalists refused to do it,” the official said.

A spokesman for the Committee to Protect Journalists called for the immediate release of the journalists, saying the Houthi attack on Yemen Today “shows profound contempt for press freedom.”



Erdogan: US move ‘plays into hands’ of terrorists

7 December 2017

ANKARA: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Wednesday strongly warned the US against recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, saying the move would help terror groups.

“Such a step will only play into the hands of terror groups,” Erdogan said at a joint news conference in Ankara after talks with Jordan’s King Abdallah.

“This mistaken step... will lead to public outrage in the entire Islamic world, dynamite the ground for peace and ignite new tensions and clashes in our region,” he said.

King Abdallah, who had been personally informed by Trump of the move by telephone, backed Erdogan’s warnings and said East Jerusalem must be the capital of a future Palestinian state. “There is no alternative to a two-state solution,” Abdallah said, speaking in English.

He cautioned that “Jerusalem is key to any peace agreement (between Israel and the Palestinians) and is key to the stability of the entire region”.

Abdallah said he had told Trump of “our concerns” over the decision to move the US embassy to Jerusalem during their telephone call.

He added that it was “imperative now to work fast” to reach a final status solution and a peace agreement between Palestinians and Israelis.

“This must allow the Palestinians to establish an independent state side by side with Israel and its capital in East Jerusalem.”

He also warned that ignoring Muslim rights in Jerusalem “will only fuel further extremism and undermine the war against terrorism.”

The two countries, which are celebrating their 70 years of diplomatic relations, focused on regional developments with a special emphasis on the de-escalation zones in Syria.

Sharing borders with Syria and Iraq, Ankara and Amman accord high importance to the ongoing developments in Syria as they host millions of Syrian refugees, while Jordan supports Turkey’s mediation initiatives in Syria for a cease-fire and peace settlement for the seven-year civil war.

Last month, Jordan, Russia and US agreed on setting up a temporary de-escalation zone in southern Syria, while Turkey, along with Russia and Iran, implemented a de-escalation zone in the northern part of the war-torn country since October.

“It is very important to have one more regional power on board for solving the Syrian conflict because there is a substantial lack of common position in Syria,” Nursin Atesoglu Guney, dean of the faculty of economics, administrative and social sciences at Bahcesehir Cyprus University, told Arab News.

Guney thinks that the Jerusalem decision, over which regional countries showed an outcry of opposition, will be a wake-up call to the Muslim world about the need for unity on regional issues.

“The problem here is not only the violation of the international law, but it will also push the world towards a new chaos that may start by a revenge campaign in Gaza,” she said.

“Considering the significant Palestinian community in Jordan, King Abdallah cannot keep himself away from the sensitivity of such a looming crisis,” Guney added.

According to Guney, taking initiatives on sensitive regional issues such as Palestinian conflict, Jerusalem issue and de-escalation zones in Syria, both countries aim for being real power brokers in the region and they intend to raise awareness of the international community about some acute challenges from a humanitarian perspective.

“In this way, they show that the US is not the only actor in the region, but they are many counterweight forces that balance it,” she added.

Full report at:



Emergency OIC summit, Arab League meeting called to discuss Jerusalem

7 December 2017

Jordan and the Palestinians on Wednesday requested an emergency Arab foreign ministers’ meeting to discuss the issue of Al-Quds, the Arab League said. The meeting is likely to be convened on Saturday, a diplomatic source said.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan called a summit of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) in Istanbul on Dec. 13, his spokesman said on Wednesday.

“In the face of developments that arouse sensitivity over the status of Jerusalem, Mr. President is calling a leaders’ summit of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) in order to display joint action among Islamic countries,” presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin told reporters in Ankara.

Turkey currently holds the chairmanship of the OIC. The Jordanian government also called for an extraordinary meeting of OIC foreign ministers on Sunday to coordinate Arab and Islamic positions on Jerusalem.

Erdogan had warned Tuesday that the status of Jerusalem is a “red line” for Muslims and could even prompt Turkey to cut ties with Israel. In Vatican City, Pope Francis called for Jerusalem’s “status quo” to be respected.

In an appeal at the end of his weekly general audience, Francis called for all to honor United Nations resolutions on the city, which is sacred to Jews, Christians and Muslims. “I make a heartfelt appeal so that all commit themselves to respecting the status quo of the city, in conformity with the pertinent resolutions of the United Nations,” he said.

“There is no way that there can be talks with the Americans. The peace process is finished. They have already pre-empted the outcome,” said Palestinian official Hanan Ashrawi. “They cannot take us for granted.”

Full report at:



Strikes and protests planned across Palestine over Jerusalem decision

7 December 2017

Palestinian factions on Wednesday called a general strike and midday rallies to protest US President Donald Trump's announcement that he has recognized Jerusalem as Israel's capital, they said in a joint statement.

Answering the call for strike on Thursday, the Palestinian education ministry declared a day off and urged teachers as well as high school and university students to take part in the planned rallies in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, the Gaza Strip and Palestinian areas in Jerusalem.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said on Wednesday that Jerusalem was the “eternal capital of the State of Palestine”

In a televised address in response to the US announcement President Abbas said that the Palestinian issue has now entered a critical stage after Trump‘s announcement,

Full report at:



Ayatollah Khamenei: Palestine will at last be freed

Dec 6, 2017

Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei says the Muslim world will stand against a US plot to declare Jerusalem al-Quds as Israel’s “capital,” stressing that Palestine will eventually be freed from occupation.

Speaking on Wednesday on the occasion of the birth anniversary of Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon Him), Ayatollah Khamenei stated, “Palestine today tops the political issues facing the Islamic Ummah and everyone is duty-bound to make endeavors towards its freedom and salvage."

The Leader made the remarks in an address to state officials, ambassadors of Muslim countries and participants at the 31st International Islamic Unity Conference underway in Tehran.

Ayatollah Khamenei said that the enemies’ plan to recognize Jerusalem al-Quds as the “capital” of the Israeli regime stems from their “incompetence and despair.”

“The Muslim world would undoubtedly stand against this conspiracy and the Zionists will be dealt a heavy blow with this move and dear Palestine will at last be liberated without doubt,” he added.

US President Donald Trump is expected to announce the recognition of Jerusalem al-Quds as the Israeli “capital” and move Washington’s embassy from Tel Aviv to the occupied city.

The US bid has drawn a wave of condemnations from various countries and international bodies, which are warning of the repercussions of such a measure across the region.

Elsewhere in his comments, Ayatollah Khamenei described the US, the Zionist regime and the reactionary elements as well as those tied to big powers as “today’s Pharaohs," noting that they are trying to sow divisions and pit Muslim nations against each other.

“Some US politicians have wittingly or unwittingly acknowledged that a war should start in the Western Asia region in order to provide the Zionist regime with a margin of safety," the Leader said.

He also expressed deep regret over some regional rulers’ adherence to US demands, warning those serving the oppressors that their stance would be to their own detriment.

The Leader referred to “resilience” as the key to counter vicious Takfiris, who are the proxies of the US and Zionism.

The enemies’ ultimate goal of creating Takfiri groups was to spark a war between the Shia and Sunni Muslims, Ayatollah Khamenei stated.

‘Quds belongs to Islam’

Prior to the leader's address, President Hassan Rouhani said in a speech, “Quds belongs to Islam, Muslims and the Palestinians, and there is no room for new adventurism by global arrogance.”

Full report at:



Iran 'will not tolerate' Trump Jerusalem 'violation': Rouhani

Dec 6, 2017

TEHRAN: Iranian President Hassan Rouhani blasted his US counterpart Donald Trump's plan to recognise Jerusalem as the Israeli capital today, saying it would not be tolerated.

Rouhani also spoke with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan by phone, describing Trump's announcement as "wrong, illegitimate, provocative and very dangerous", according to an account posted on the Iranian government's website.

He also agreed to attend a special summit of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, the main pan-Islamic body, on December 13, which Erdogan called to discuss the issue.

Rouhani had earlier been speaking at an international conference in Tehran promoting Islamic unity and marking the anniversary of the birth of Islam's Prophet Mohammed.

Iran "will not tolerate a violation of Islamic sanctities," he said in reference to Trump's Jerusalem announcement.

"Muslims must stand united against this major plot."

Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei also spoke at the event, saying the US move was the result of "paralysis and incompetence".

"The Islamic world will undoubtedly stand against this plot and the Zionists will receive a big blow from this action and dear Palestine will be liberated," Khamenei said.

Since the 1979 Islamic revolution, Iran's opposition to Israel and support for the Palestinian cause has been central to its foreign policy.

The issue has again come to the fore in recent weeks amid rumours that regional rival Saudi Arabia has sought to build ties with Israel in order to better face down Iran's growing influence.

Iran was dedicated to building unity among Islamic countries, Khamenei said, but "unfortunately there are rulers and elites in this region that dance to the tune of the US: they do whatever the US desires against Islam."

His official Twitter account in English, which exists despite the messaging service being banned in Iran, later added: "We advise them: the outcome of what some states, in region, are doing will be as Quran says, 'their own destruction'".

The Iranian account of Rouhani's conversation with Erdogan quoted the Turkish president as saying: "Trump's insolence is a result of internal differences in the Islamic world".

Full report at:



Document reveals US asks Israel to restrain response to Jerusalem move

7 December 2017

The United States is asking Israel to temper its response to the US recognition of Jerusalem as its capital because Washington expects a backlash and is weighing the potential threat to US facilities and people, according to a State Department document seen by Reuters on Wednesday.

“While I recognize that you will publicly welcome this news, I ask that you restrain your official response,” the document dated Dec. 6 said in talking points for diplomats at the US Embassy in Tel Aviv to convey to Israeli officials.

“We expect there to be resistance to this news in the Middle East and around the world. We are still judging the impact this decision will have on US facilities and personnel overseas,” the document said.

A second State Department document seen by Reuters, which was also dated Dec. 6, said the agency had formed an internal task force “to track worldwide developments” following the US decision on Jerusalem.

A US official who spoke on condition of anonymity said it was standard to set up a task force “any time there is a concern about the safety and security of US government personnel or US citizens.” The State Department had no immediate comment on either document.

Talking points

The first document also laid out talking points for officials at the US Consulate General in Jerusalem, the US Embassies in London, Paris, Berlin and Rome and the US mission to the European Union in Brussels.

In its message for the European capitals, the document asked European officials to argue that Trump’s decision did not prejudge so-called “final status” issues that Israel and the Palestinians need to hammer out in any peace agreement.

“You are in a key position to influence international reaction to this announcement and we are asking you to amplify the reality that Jerusalem is still a final status issue between Israelis and Palestinians and that the parties must resolve the dimensions of Israel’s sovereignty in Jerusalem during their negotiations,” it said.

A unique administration

“You know that this is a unique Administration. It makes bold moves. But it is bold moves that are going to be needed if peace efforts are finally going to be successful,” it said.

The status of Jerusalem, home to sites holy to the Muslim, Jewish and Christian religions, is one of the biggest obstacles to reaching an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal. Israel considers Jerusalem its eternal and indivisible capital and wants all embassies based there.

Full report at:



Yemen rebels holding more than 40 media staff: Watchdogs

December 07, 2017

SANAA - Yemeni rebels who seized full control of the capital Sanaa over the past week have detained more than 40 media staff , press watchdogs said on Wednesday, demanding their immediate release.

They include staff of Yemen Today -- a television channel affiliated with former president Ali Abdullah Saleh, whom the Huthi rebels killed on Monday as he fled the capital following the collapse of their uneasy three-year alliance, the watchdogs said.

The rebels overran the television's Sanaa offices on Saturday after attacking it with rocket-propelled grenades and wounding three guards, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) said. "This hostage-taking is typical of the climate of hostility in Yemen towards journalists, who are often targeted in this conflict," said RSF's Alexandra El Khazen.

A spokesman for the Committee to Protect Journalists called for the immediate release of the journalists, saying the Huthi attack on Yemen Today "shows a profound contempt for press freedom".

Saleh, who ruled Yemen for three decades, had joined forces with the Huthis in 2014 when they took control of large parts of the country, including the capital. But that alliance unravelled over the past week as the former leader reached out to the Saudi-led coalition that has waged an air campaign against the Huthis since March 2015. A least 234 people were killed in fighting that the International Committee of the Red Cross described as the fiercest since the start of the conflict. An official of Saleh's General People's Congress (GPC) said some of the detained staff had since been transferred to prison while others were still being held in the television's offices.  "The Huthis were exerting pressure on them to change their coverage, to issue certain statements and report the betrayal of former president Saleh and accuse him of working for the Arab coalition. "But the journalists refused to do it," the official said.

Addressing a mass rally in Sanaa on Tuesday, the head of the rebels' revolutionary council, Mohammed Ali al-Huthi, said they had been left with no choice but to "confront" their former ally but were now "ensuring the safety" of his supporters. "They are being treated in hospitals and no one is looking to eliminate them," Huthi said. But Yemen's Sanaa-based national syndicate of journalists said the Huthis were posting the names of employees of media they regarded as hostile at checkpoints around the capital and demanded "an end to abuses".

Meanwhile, Yemeni women held rare protests in Sanaa on Wednesday, demanding that the capital's rebel authorities hand over the body of slain ex-president Ali Abdullah Saleh. Around 20 women, dressed head to toe in black, did not hide their loyalty to the leader of three decades, who was killed by the Iran-backed rebels on Monday after their uneasy alliance collapsed.  "There is no God but God and the martyr is a friend of God," they shouted in front of the Saleh mosque, the largest in the capital and named for the former president.

The rebels dispersed the protest but video footage of the women fleeing the scene was posted on social media . A second group of women gathered in front of Sanaa military hospital, shouting: "The people want the remains of the leader," witnesses said. It was unclear on Wednesday whether the Huthis had already buried Saleh's body. Saleh had joined forces with the Huthis in 2014 when they took control of large parts of the country, including the capital.

Full report at:



Turkish Army, SDF Clash in Northern Aleppo

Dec 06, 2017

The SDF clashed with the Turkish army troops as the latter intended to get close to Gir mountain in Balbaleh region of Afrin city, the Kurdish-language Hawar news reported.

It noted that the Turkish army failed to penetrate into Gir mountainous region, and was forces to retreat to Bakur lands.

The report came as the Turkish army's drones troops are constantly flying over Afrin.

In a relevant development on Wednesday, the Turkish National Security Council announced in a statement that Ankara could expand its military mission in Syria to two other provinces, potentially bringing its forces into confrontation with US-backed Kurdish fighters.

The statement said that Ankara is about to expand it monitoring centers in regions close to the town of Afrin in Aleppo province that is under the control of the Syrian Democratic Forces.

"It’s been considered that the observation mission of the Turkish armed forces in the Idlib de-escalation zone continues successfully, and such a mission being performed near Western Aleppo and Afrin would provide a real environment of peace and safety,” the statement added.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had stressed that Ankara needed to clear the Afrin region of Northwest Syria of Kurds as the military operation in Idlib province is largely complete.

The Kurdish-language Hawar news reported earlier this month that the Turkish soldiers crossed Nahr (river) al-Aswad that streams between Bakur Kurdistan and Afrin and crossed the borders of Afrin near the village of Akbas in Raju region.

It said that the army built a bridge over the river to transfer its vehicles in case it comes under attack.

Full report at:





Can You Be Arrested For Comparing A Place To Pakistan? It Happened To This Muslim Cleric

December 7, 2017

A Muslim cleric, who was seen comparing a Hubballi neighbourhood to Pakistan in a viral video, was arrested and sent to judicial custody for 14 days.

At an Eid-Milad event, Abdul Hameed Khairati was filmed saying that this neighbourhood - Ganesh Peth - looked like Pakistan, reports said.

There were calls for action against the cleric, and "several BJP activists and Hindu leaders" said he should be taken into custody, the Kannada newspaper Vijaya Karnataka reported.

In an apology, Khairati said what he really wanted to communicate was that Muslims in Ganesh Peth celebrated Eid-Milad "more enthusiastically than Pakistan, but wrongly made the statement likening Ganesh Peth to Pakistan," the report added.

On Tuesday, the Deccan Herald quoted Deputy Commissioner of Police (Law & Order) Renuka Sukumar as saying a case was filed against Khairati "under IPC Section 153A, which includes promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race, place of birth, etc, and doing acts prejudicial to maintenance of harmony."



Ambedkar Spurned Bid To Convert Him to Islam: Sushil Kumar Modi

Dec 7, 2017

PATNA: Deputy CM Sushil Kumar Modi on Wednesday said Dr B R Ambedkar had spurned all overtures made to him for his conversion to Islam and Christianity and, instead, embraced Buddhism because it had roots in the Indian cultural tradition. Modi also called Buddhism an offshoot of Hindu religion.

"The Nizam of Hyderabad approached Ambedkar, suggesting that he should convert to Islam. Similarly, Christians also approached him, pleading conversion. But Ambedkar spurned their offers," SuMo said.

Addressing a function organized by Baby Kumari, Independent MLA from Bochaha in Muzaffarpur district, to observe the death anniversary of Dr Ambedkar, SuMo also said Buddhism was an offshoot of Hinduism as Shiva's 'lingam' is also placed at the Mahabodhi Mahavihara in Bodh Gaya.

SuMo said BJP was also in favour of reservation in promotion of government jobs for people from Dalit and other backward sections of the society. The first NDA government of JD (U) and BJP in Bihar had granted reservation to the extremely backward castes (EBCs), scheduled castes (SCs) and scheduled tribe (ST) for mukhiya and sarpanch in panchayats, he said.

Road construction department (RCD) minister Nand Kishore Yadav, without taking the name of Congress, said it had always used the Dalit and minority sections as its vote banks. The government led by PM Narendra Modi, in contrast, has decided to develop five places of importance in the life of Ambedkar into 'Panchtirtha,' besides purchasing the building at London where he had lived.

Without taking his name, Yadav also took potshots at RJD president Lalu Prasad and said "one leader" in Bihar had taken to giving washing and cleaning to Dalit children only for a few days. "The BJP government has been working for the uplift of Dalits in sustained manner," Yadav said.

Full report at:



Ayodhya case: Muslim bodies speak in different voices

December 6, 2017

Lucknow, Dec 6 (PTI) Major Muslim bodies today spoke in conflicting voices on the Ayodhya title suit with the UP Sunni Waqf Board against deferment of the hearing in the apex court till after the 2019 general elections and the AIMPLB saying the time was not right for the arguments to take place.

Senior advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing for the Sunni Waqf Board, had said in the Supreme Court yesterday that the appeals in the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid case be heard in July 2019 after the completion of the next Lok Sabha polls as the atmosphere at present was not conducive for the proceedings.

"The board is of the view that hearing in the case be held and the matter be disposed of promptly... I do not know on whose behalf the counsel for the Muslims appearing in the apex court, Kapil Sibal had stated this... No such directive had been given by the board," Chairman of the Uttar Pradesh Sunni Waqf Board Zafar Farooqui said.

"Apparently, Sibal had appeared on behalf of one of the appellants in the Ayodhya case Hasim Ansaris son Iqbal Ansari... There was no directive from the board. We want that the case is solved at the earliest," he stressed.

Another party to the case, Haji Mehboob said he also wanted early disposal of the matter and did not approve of Sibals stand.

"Everyone is involved in politics, be it the Congress or the BJP. I do not want to get involved in their politics. I just want the issue to be resolved soon," Mehboob said.

The All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB), which is not a party to the case, however, favoured deferring the hearing till after the next general elections claiming that the time was not right for the same now.

"This is not the right time for holding the hearing in the case. If the next hearing is taken up it will provide an opportunity to some people to take political mileage," AIMPLB general secretary Maulana Wali Rehmani said.

"The hearing was taken up for the first time yesterday and BJP president Amit Shah gave reaction on Sibals statement," he said, adding that this in itself was indicative of what will happen if the hearing was taken up on a daily basis.

Rehmani also said that Sibal had talked about shifting of the hearing on the advice of the AIMPLB and other Muslim parties.

To a question on Sunni Waqf Boards position, Rehmani said that he has not had any talk with it in this regard.

Reacting to Sibals contention, Amit Shah has asked the Congress and Rahul Gandhi to clarify their stand on this count.

Full report at:



3 Pakistanis among 8 LeT men given life sentence

Joychen Joseph

Dec 7, 2017

JAIPU: Eight Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) operatives, including three from Pakistan, were awarded life imprisonment by an additional district court in Jaipur on Wednesday for plotting terror strikes and recruiting Indians to the Pak-based militant organization.

Along with their life sentences, the three have been slapped with a penalty of Rs 3 lakh each under Section 20 of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.

The Pakistani LeT members - Asgar Ali, Shakkar Ulla and Mohammad Iqbal - were lodged in separate jails in India. Despite being in prison, they were able to make contacts with people outside to recruit members for their organization. They were acting at the behest of Lashkar commander in Pakistan Walid alias Vicky.

The court also made strong remarks against the jail officials who had given a "free hand" to the Pakistanis. "There were serious lapses and dereliction of duty by the jail superintendents and other prison officials as they gave the Pakistanis, jailed for serious crimes, a free hand to use mobiles phones in jail to make contact with the Indians [recruits]," the court said.

While Asgar Ali was lodged in Bikaner and Jodhpur Jail, Shakkar Ulla was imprisoned in Nabha jail in Punjab and Mohammad Iqbal was confined in Amritsar jail in Punjab.

Full report at:



US Jerusalem recognition: Our position on Palestine is independent, consistent, says India

December 7, 2017

With US President Donald Trump officially recognising Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, India on Thursday stated that its position on Palestine is ‘independent and consistent’ and is not determined by any third country.

“India’s position on Palestine is independent and consistent. It is shaped by our views and interests, and not determined by any third country,” Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) Spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said.

This remark from New Delhi came after Trump ended decades of unwavering US neutrality on Jerusalem, declaring the sorely divided holy city as Israel’s capital and sparking frustrated Palestinians to cry out that he had destroyed already-fragile Mideast hopes for peace. He also directed the State Department to initiate the process of moving the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, which many Arab leaders warn can trigger an upheaval in the already volatile Middle East .

The declaration came in a press conference which was held in the White House with Vice-President Mike Pence accompanying the 45th US President.

ALSO READ | What US recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital means

“I have determined that it is time to officially recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. I direct to move the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, the new embassy will be a magnificent tribute to peace. For over 20 years every previous American president has exercised the law’s waiver, refusing to move the American Embassy to Jerusalem or to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital city, under the belief that it will advance the cause of peace,” said Trump in his presser.

“We cannot solve our problems by repeating same failed strategies of the past. Old challenges demand new approach, my announcement today is a new approach to the conflicts between Israel and Palestine,” he said.

“Israel is a sovereign nation with the right to determine its own capital and acknowledging this is necessary for peace in the region. Jerusalem is not just the heart of three great religions but also the heart of one of the most successful democracies in the world,” he added.

The US president insisted that the decision was not intended to deflect from their commitment to move from peace process and they were not taking a position on the final status issue including the boundaries of Israeli sovereignty in Jerusalem.

“We call for calm, moderation and voices of tolerance to prevail over the perverse of hate. Our children should inherit our love, not our conflicts,” he said.

Full report at:



On Babri anniversary, message from al-Qaeda in Kashmir calls on Indians to join jihad

By Praveen Swami

December 7, 2017

Ansar Ghazwa ’tul-Hind, the Kashmir-based affiliate of transnational terrorist group al-Qaeda, has called on Indian Muslims to “join the fields of the jihad”, claiming that “perfidious Hindus will keep changing their tactics until their mission is accomplished — and that mission is the elimination of every last Muslim, be they children or the elderly, men or women, or brothers or our sons”.

The call was released on online jihadist feeds on Wednesday, by the new al-Qaeda affiliate formed earlier this year by breakaway cadre of the Hizb-ul-Mujahideen and Lashkar-e-Taiba, in an apparent effort to exploit Muslim anger on the 25th anniversary of the demolition of the Babri Masjid.

“Every Indian Muslim must prepare to leave his home for jihad,” the message says, “because the enemy is preparing for war.”

The message was read aloud by a jihadist using the pseudonym Sultan Zabul al-Hindi, whose grammar and accent suggests he is a non-native Hindi speaker. Intelligence sources said they were not aware of any individual from outside Kashmir serving with the estimated dozen-strong formation of Ansar Ghazwa ’tul-Hind commander Zakir Bhat, also known as Zakir Musa.

But the use of the term ‘Zabul’ in ‘Sultan Zabul al-Hindi’ could indicate that he is serving, or has served, in southern Afghanistan. Earlier this month, Afghan and United States forces killed Omar Mansour, one of the key deputies of al-Qaeda’s Uttar Pradesh-born Indian subcontinent chief, Sana-ul-Haq, in the course of raids targetting the organisation across its strongholds in the provinces of Zabul, Ghazni and Paktia.

General John Nicholson, the commander of United States forces in Afghanistan, revealed on November 28 that “al-Qaeda Indian subcontinent fighters who are the ones who are training a lot of the local Taliban, and in return for this the Taliban afford them sanctuary”.

Indian jihadists, including fugitive members of the Indian Mujahideen, are known to have trained with al-Qaeda in Afghanistan, acquiring the skills needed to fabricate improvised explosive devices and operate automatic weapons.

Kerala and Maharashtra-based jihadists are known to have joined Lashkar-e-Taiba units in Kashmir to acquire military training. This is, however, the first case in which an Indian national from outside Kashmir has been associated with Ansar Ghazwa ’tul-Hind.

In the message, Ansar Ghazwa ’tul Hind argues strongly against democratic politics, calling on Muslims to “beware the Congress and BJP, the Samajwadi Party and Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, the Trinamul Congress or Bahujan Samaj Party, for all are only faces of tyranny”.

“The only solution for you is the rule of sharia’t, which Allah has commanded”, ‘Sultan Zabul al-Hindi’ asserts.

The message is also directed at audiences in Pakistan, pointing to military ruler General Pervez Musharraf’s assault on the Islamist-controlled Lal Masjid in Islamabad. “The Babri Masjid and the Lal Masjid were one, and those who extinguished them were also one, both idol-worshippers”.

Like other transnational Kashmir jihadist groups, the Ansar Ghazwa ’tul-Hind says it is devoted not just to the state, but to a wider struggle to impose Islamic rule in India. In May, Ansar chief Bhat appeared in a video posing under the al-Qaeda banner, accusing Indian Muslims of cowardice, and calling on them to engage in jihad against the government.

This summer, al-Qaeda’s Global Islamic Media Front issued a formal declaration, saying “the jihad in Kashmir has reached a stage of awakening, as the Muslim nation of Kashmir has committed to carry the flag of jihad to repel the aggression of tyrant Indian invaders”.

Ansar Ghazwa ’tul Hind remains a small organisation, but appears to have won some cachet among young Kashmiri Islamists disillusioned with the Hizb-ul-Mujahideen and Lashkar. Pro-Zakir Bhat slogans were, notably, raised at an Indian Army-organised cricket match between the towns of Budgam and Ompora over the weekend.

Full report at:



Hosting Zakir Naik, Malaysia Cocks the Snook at India

Dec 7, 2017

Malaysia hosting Zakir Naik, wanted in India for fomenting militancy, should not come as a surprise since he was granted permanent resident (PR) status five years ago.

Naik has made Malaysia his transitory home during his world tour as an Islamic televangelist, long before he grew controversial in India and attracted the ire of the authorities.

He is not a Malaysian citizen. Although Malaysia has a scheme for granting citizenship under “Malaysia My Home”, Naik has not availed it and has for various reasons ranging from his support base and huge property, chosen to remain an Indian citizen.

What should come as a surprise to Indians is that his host, Malaysia, although an Islamic nation is multi-ethnic and prides in its multi-racial, multi-religious polity. Under Mahathir Mohamad, who was the prime minister for 22 years, Malaysia has taken pride in practicing what it calls moderate Islam, different from the hard-line Wahabi West Asian one.

That, again, should not come as a surprise as the present Prime Minister, Najib Tun Razak, himself a moderate, is politically fighting Mahathir, the non-agenarian statesman who has fought every prime minister who came after him.

Yet another matter that should not cause surprise is that Najib’s United Malays National Organization (UMNO), and the alliance Barisan Nsional (BN), that has ruled Malaysia since independence in 1957, has been leaning towards hard-line, conservative Islam as he faces crucial elections next year. His party and his ruling alliance have lost control of three states. Significantly, these three states witnessed the rise of pan-Islamic party (PAS).

Islamic conservatives are consolidating in Malaysia. Now Najib is competing with PAS and the opposition for winning the Malay vote.

In supporting Naik, both Najib’s party and PAS are one. Naik was the star at a religious conference that PAS had organized in July this year.

This pan-party support secures Naik’s position in Malaysia where he is very popular among the Malays, the Muslims who are the backbone of the society and get preferential treatment as they are designated as “Boomiputera” (sons of the soil).

However, Malaysia and other Muslim groups form 61 per cent of the population of 29 million. The Malaysian establishment is striving to boost this majority by including Muslims from neighbouring Thailand and Indonesia and even distant Sri Lanka. Ethnic Indian Muslims are also striving to be included as ‘Boomiputeras’.

Over 24 percent of Malaysia’s population is ethnic Chinese and at 2.1 million, ethnic Indians, a bulk of them Tamils form eight percent of the nation’s population. They are also the largest Indian diaspora.

The ethnic Indians are politically divided into several political parties, but the largest of them are with Malaysian Indian Congress (MIC), which is a constituent of the ruling Barisan Nasional.

To his credit, MIC president, Dr S. Subramaniam, who is also Malaysia’s Health Minister has opposed the hosting of Zakir Naik.

On April 20 this year, the minister said: Malaysia doesn't need Dr Zakir Naik as the country's own Islamic scholars are far more adept and competent in advocating the faith to Malaysians.

The minister has the traditional title of Datuk Seri.

The MIC president said that “Malaysia's Islamic foundation, and its multi-religious national texture are not going to be nourished by Dr Zakir's preaching.

"On the contrary, it would only be inciting divisive forces to distort the unifying tenets of Islam as currently practiced in the country," he said in a statement.

Dr Subramaniam said that Malaysia is well acknowledged among other Islamic countries as a progressive nation with strong Islamic value systems embedded within its national character.

He added that Peace TV, the television channel owned by Dr Zakir has been banned in Bangladesh, Canada and in the United Kingdom.

He said that when a large Muslim country like Bangladesh has taken action against Dr Zakir, Malaysia should never allow him to remain in our midst advocating his nefarious and divisive form of Islamic worldview.

"Given the space, Zakir Naik would also infiltrate into our national space to disrupt national harmony which could lead to undesirable actions of grave consequence to national peace and stability.

"Zakir Naik should not be allowed to use his questionable religious credentials to solicit support from Malaysia to be shielded from possible prosecution in India," he said.

However, his senior in the Najib government, Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi confirmed that Dr Zakir was given PR status about five years ago. He contended that Naik was not receiving any preferential treatment from the Malaysian Government.

He also offered Malaysia’s assistance to the Indian authorities in the investigations by the Indian NIA, and that would cover Naik’s stay.

Malaysian Government has taken the stand that during his stay in the country, Naik has not broken any local law.

Hamidi told Parliament: "Over the time spent in this country, he has not broken any laws or regulations. As such, there is no reason from a legal standpoint to detain or arrest him." He added that Kuala Lumper has not received any official request from India "related to terrorism allegations involving Naik".

Zahid Hamidi and Prime Minister Najib have both posted photos on Facebook of their meetings with Naik last year in Malaysia.

However, there has been alarm in the way Naik’s public speeches are creating a fervour among his listeners, including non-Muslims, some of whom have converted to Islam.

It is now clear that support for a more politicised Islam has grown in recent years in Malaysia under PM Najib Razak.

Critics see Naik's presence in Malaysia as another sign of top-level support for hard-line Islam in a country with substantial minorities of Christians, Hindus and Buddhists, and which has long projected a moderate Islamic image.

Najib’s UMNO party has been trying to appease an increasingly conservative ethnic Malay-Muslim base and religion has become a battleground ahead of elections the prime minister has to call by mid-2018.

Bangladesh suspended Peace TV channel, which features Naik's preachings, after some media reports claimed bombers of a Dhaka cafe that killed 22 people last year were Naik’s admirers. Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack.

The Malaysian government accommodates Naik because "he remains a reasonably popular character amongst Malays, who gloss over his more controversial aspects," said Rashaad Ali, an analyst with S Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS) in Singapore.

"If the government were to kick him out of the country, it causes them to lose religious credibility in the eyes of the public."

At his appearance at the Putra mosque last month, a female Reuters reporter asked about the investigation in India. Naik replied: "Sorry, it is not right for me to speak with ladies in public."

Naik did not respond to subsequent requests for comment from Reuters.

A group of Malaysian activists has filed a suit in the High Court to deport Naik, saying he is a threat to public peace in the multi-racial society - about 40 percent of Malaysia's population is non-Muslim.

Officials at the Putra Mosque said Naik has been attending Friday prayers there for about a month. He has also been spotted in other mosques, hospitals and restaurants in the administrative capital in recent months, according to witnesses that Reuters spoke to.

Malaysia's opposition Islamic Party (PAS), which has defended Naik in the past, has since urged the government to disregard any potential Indian extradition request, saying the allegations aim "to block his influence and efforts to spread religious awareness among the international community."

Islam is the official religion in Malaysia. The laws, however, are secular, though the country does have sharia courts for civil cases for Muslims.

Malaysia's nine sultans, who take turns as the mostly ceremonial monarch, are the official guardians of Islam in Malaysia; last month they called for unity and religious harmony after what they described as "excessive actions" in the name of Islam. One of them harshly condemned a Muslim-only launderette.

"We are seeing this gravitation towards fundamentalism and a conservative idea of Islam because the current government doesn't want to be seen as secular anymore," said Ahmad Farouk Musa, founder of a moderate Islam think-tank, Islamic Renaissance Front (IRF).

To ensure Malay support, the government thinks it has "to have Islamic credentials just like PAS," Farouk told Reuters. He remarked: "Islam sells."

Full report at:





Pope Francis urges world leaders to respect UN position on Jerusalem

By Elise Harris

Vatican City, Dec 6, 2017 / 03:37 am (CNA/EWTN News).- With debate on the status of Jerusalem heating up in the wake of U.S. President Donald Trump's controversial decision to recognize the city as the capital of Israel, Pope Francis has urged international leaders to proceed with prudence and respect for current U.N. resolutions.

“My thought now goes to Jerusalem. In this regard, I cannot ignore my deep concern for the situation that has been created in recent days,” the Pope said Dec. 6.

He issued a “heartfelt appeal” to the international community to ensure that “everyone is committed to respecting the status quo of the city, in accordance with the relevant Resolutions of the United Nations.”

The position of the U.N. on the Jerusalem issue is that East Jerusalem is occupied Palestinian territory, and that the city should eventually become the capital of the two states of Israel and Palestine.

Pope Francis spoke to pilgrims in the Vatican's Paul VI Hall during his weekly general audience, during which he recounted the phases of his recent Nov. 27-Dec. 2 trip to Burma, also called Myanmar, and Bangladesh.

His appeal for Jerusalem comes shortly after news came out that U.S. President Donald Trump would be recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel – a widely controversial decision that has provoked a mixed reaction from the international community.

As part of the plan, the Trump administration is expected to eventually move the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, and while Israel welcomes the changes, both Palestinians and Arab leaders have voiced concern that the move could jeopardize the peace process in the Middle East, according to BBC.

Israel has traditionally always recognized Jerusalem as its capital. However, Palestinians claim that the eastern portion of the city is the capital of the future Palestinian state. In recognizing Jerusalem as Israel's capital, the U.S. is the first country to do so since the state was established in 1948.

Debate on the issue is in many ways the crux of the conflict between Israel and Palestine, which is backed by Arab leaders, including Saudi Arabia, and the wider Islamic world.

According to the 1993 Israel-Palestinian peace accords, the final status of Jerusalem will be discussed in the late stages of the talks. Israeli sovereignty over Jerusalem has never been recognized by the international community, and all countries have embassies in Tel Aviv.

Recognizing Jerusalem as Israel's capital, then, is likely to increase tension on the issue, particularly in regards to the 200,000-some settlements Israel has built in East Jerusalem, which are considered illegal under international law, though Israel disputes this stance.

On Wednesday, a group of more than a dozen Patriarchs and Heads of Churches in Jerusalem released a statement cautioning that the U.S. policy change “will yield increased hatred, conflict, violence and suffering in Jerusalem and the Holy Land, moving us farther from the goal of unity and deeper toward destructive division.”

“Our solemn advice and plea is for the United States to continue recognizing the present international status of Jerusalem. Any sudden changes would cause irreparable harm,” they warned.

“We are confident that, with strong support from our friends, Israelis and Palestinians can work towards negotiating a sustainable and just peace, benefiting all who long for the Holy City of Jerusalem to fulfill its destiny.”

In his general audience, Pope Francis noted how Jerusalem is a “unique city” that is considered holy for Jews, Christians and Muslims. Because of this, he said the city has “a special vocation for peace.”

“I ask the Lord that this identity be preserved and reinforced for the benefit of the Holy Land, the Middle East and the entire world, and that wisdom and prudence prevail to avoid adding new elements of tension in a global panorama already convulsed and marked by so many cruel conflicts,” he said.

Prior to his general audience, the Pope met with a Palestinian delegation of religious and intellectual leaders for a scheduled audience, urging dialogue that is respectful of everyone's rights in the Holy Land. He also voiced his hope that “peace and prosperity” would prevail for the Palestinian people.

On his trip to Burma and Bangladesh, Francis said it was “a great gift from God,” and thanked the civil authorities and bishops of each country for their welcome and for everything they did to prepare for the trip.

He noted how his Nov. 27-30 visit to Burma marked the first time a Pope has ever traveled to the country, which took place just months after the Holy See established full diplomatic relations with the nation in May. 

“I wanted, also in this case, to express the closeness of Christ and of the Church to a people that has suffered due to conflict and repression, and which now is slowly walking toward a new condition of freedom and peace,” he said.

Burma, a majority Buddhist country where minorities, including Christians, often face stigma and discrimination, is still working to transition to a democratic government after more than 50 years of military rule, while also facing harsh criticism from the international community over what the United Nations has called a “textbook case of ethnic cleansing” of Rohingya Muslims from the country's Rakhine State.

In this context, Christians there are the “leaven of God,” he said, and called the Church in Burma a “living and fervent” community that he had the joy of meeting and affirming in faith and communion.  

Similarly, he said his Nov. 30-Dec. 2 visit to Bangladesh was equally important, and focused largely on the need for “respect and dialogue” between Christianity and Islam, as the country is a majority Muslim nation with a small Catholic community.

Religious freedom was a major theme, and was reflected in each of his meetings, he said, and underlined the importance of “openness of the heart as the basis for the culture of encounter, harmony and peace.”



Putin declares 'complete victory' on both banks of Euphrates in Syria

Dec 6, 2017

Russian President Vladimir Putin has declared a 'complete victory' over the Daesh Takfiri terrorist group on both banks of the Euphrates River in Syria, stressing the significance of switching to a political process to ultimately end the crisis in the Arab country.

Putin said in remarks released by the Kremlin on Wednesday that the terrorists have been completely defeated on both banks of the Euphrates River in Syria.

"Two hours ago, the (Russian) defense minister reported to me that the operations on the eastern and western banks of the Euphrates have been completed with the total rout of the terrorists," Putin said.

He further said "some pockets of resistance” could remain in the area, “but overall the military work at this stage and on this territory is completed with, I repeat, the total rout of the terrorists."

Putin did not specify whether he was referring to the end of operations in entire Syria, or just the areas around the Euphrates valley.

The Russian president stressed the need to move to a political dialogue that would eventually involve presidential and parliamentary elections, but said this is "a big and prolonged task."

"We need to ... move, undoubtedly, on to the next stage - the start of a political process."

Since September 2016, Moscow has been launching military operations in Syria, targeting the positions of Daesh and other militant groups upon an official request from the Damascus government.

Different foreign-backed terrorist groups have been wreaking havoc in Syria since 2011.

Full report at:



British PM blasts Trump’s ‘unhelpful’ Jerusalem al-Quds move

Dec 7, 2017

The UK disagrees with US President Donald Trump’s “unhelpful” decision to recognize Jerusalem al-Quds as the capital of Israel, says British Prime Minister Theresa May.

In a statement issued on Wednesday night, May said Trump’s declaration earlier in the day jeopardized the "prospects of peace" in the Middle East.

"We disagree with the US decision to move its embassy to Jerusalem and recognize Jerusalem as the Israeli capital before a final status agreement," May said in a statement.

"Our position on the status of Jerusalem is clear and long-standing: it should be determined in a negotiated settlement between the Israelis and the Palestinians, and Jerusalem should ultimately be the shared capital of the Israeli and Palestinian states," May added.

The British leader said London had "no plans to move" its own embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem al-Quds.

Earlier, she said there a sovereign and viable Palestinian state was a pre-requisite to any two-state solution.

Before Trump’s announcement, UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson also voiced "concern" over the decision, making it clear that London had no intention of following Trump's lead.

"We have no plans ourselves to move our embassy," he told reporters ahead of a NATO summit in Brussels.

World leaders have warned Trump that recognizing Jerusalem al-Quds as the Israeli capital could spark further tensions in the region.

In his statement, the Republican president admitted that "there will of course be disagreement and dissent regarding this announcement,” but “we are confident that ultimately, as we work through these disagreements, we will arrive at a place of greater understanding and cooperation."

Israel lays claim to the entirety of Jerusalem al-Quds as its “capital” while Palestinians want its eastern part as the capital of a future state for themselves.

Palestinian people have vowed to hold three days of protests, with resistance leaders warning that the decision is likely to ignite another Intifada anti-occupation movement.

Full report at:



UK will ‘destroy and eliminate’ citizens fighting with Daesh

7 December 2017

LONDON: British citizens fighting for Daesh should be located and killed and not allowed back into the country, new defense minister Gavin Williamson told the Daily Mail on Thursday.

“Quite simply, my view is a dead terrorist can’t cause any harm to Britain,” he told the tabloid.

“We should do everything we can do to destroy and eliminate that threat,” he added.

An estimated 800 British passport holders traveled to fight in Iraq and Syria, with 130 killed and around 400 returning, leaving 270 still in the Middle East.

The issue came into sharp focus in 2014 when British citizen Mohammed Emwazi — also known as “Jihadi John” — appeared in Daesh propaganda videos showing the beheading of a number of captives.

Williamson, who became defense chief last month after Michael Fallon resigned over allegations of misconduct, vowed that fighters who fled to other countries would also be tracked and refused passage back to Britain.

“We have got to make sure that as (they) splinter and as they disperse across Iraq and Syria and other areas, we continue to hunt them down,” he told the Mail.

“Make sure there is no safe space for them, that they can’t go to other countries preaching their hate, preaching their cult of death.”

Full report at:





MMA Restoration Is a Trap for Jama’at-e-Islami

December 03, 2017

Restoration of MMA is a trap and appeared as a lame excuse for inability to work on real agenda, i.e., making country ideologically strong:

This text is written after hearing an important news; that decision makers of religious political parties have decided to restore MMA . The assumption behind re-establishment of MMA is to get political mileage by scoring maximum seats in the upcoming election. So the primary target of establishing MMA is just to gain a size able electoral position by increasing seats. It is not formed to achieve any greater target of building or strengthening the ideology of the country. To me it’s not an aggressive approach but an offensive one. Letting everything in the hands of few decision makers without bothering to take into account the overall consequences and impact on the society, would demotivate all real stakeholders. I am not of opinion that increase in seats should not be a target. Yes, it is a target but not at the cost of loosing the mainstream position. In a modern and globally connected world, we can’t afford staying outside the legitimate societal composition, if we really wish to play an active role in policy making, i.e. outcomes of politics. We have to be vigilant and well aware of the global and domestic situation on all fronts inclusing, socio-economical and political. The chances of bringing people near a genuine cause me ideological narration building through logical discourse are very high. But question is, why we are stuck somewhere in the past. After the advent of new social media and easy access to every latest news, Pakistani society has extremely been transformed in an open society. So to approach and win public support logically is all possible, as compare to the past.

Look at the style of other main stream political parties, what they do? They do nothing but align themselves with public opinion. They keep a keen eye on the trends in society. We can look at the example of Pakistan Tahreek-e-Insaaf (PTI), People’s Party (PPP), Muslim League (N) etc. Their actions against court charges. How confidently they deny all charges publicly and portray themselves as heroes. Although a majority of people are fed up with their unpopular contradictory stances, inability to perform as needed, corruption stories, etc. But due to not having a voice for remedy, they are highly desperate and frustrated.

Now have a look at religious political leadership.

Unfortunately, religious leadership has lost credibility as alternative to already existing pragmatic politicians. MMA does nothing except to broaden the differences in an already confused society. MMA bracket Jama’at a sectarian. small segmented organization instead of main stream political party with national agenda. Jama’at should become a mainstream influential political party. It has all necessary potential and resources to reach that level. As part of MMA Jama’at waste another five years to plan, do act and check things ideologically and for some extent freely. Pakistannis ideological mainstream political party to be in power. There is no short cut to make country ideologically strong except to utilize all potential at its fullest. If it is as then why to leave clear visionary journey aside for a short, narrow targeted approach. MMA is a trap , it cost a huge price to Jama’at afterward.

What if this alliance met with no targets accomplishment, then what planners would do?

The only way to bring all likeminded political parties (look, what Musharraf has done? Initiated, a political alliance with small parties) along with, is to raise Jama’at stature as high the level to main stream party. Otherwise the last experience will repeat once again. These religious political parties are not capable enough to think for whole society and ready to give other religious parties due share, previous situation of MMA bears testimony to the tact. JUI(F) is already exposed as opportunist party and JI as organizational-cum- non-public party. 2002 was a different time, if we compare it with current situation. So the chance to get same public support seems impossible. PTI is in better position than 2013 due to success (de-seating of Nawaz on court charges. Fazal-ur-Rehman is still supporting PML(N).

The important point, not to be ignored, is, why to show the world that in Pakistan Islam loving people are not more than 10% to 15%. Exposing limited following of Islam in the country that is built on Islamic ideology is disastrous. Please do not do this again.

Last but not the least, are we, as Jama’at, heading toward an end to ideological discourses in the country. What if Jama’at is diluted in other streams, who would toe real Islamic narrative in Pakistan.

In obsession to increase few seats if we lose pace of sincere attachment, whom would be charge responsible?

The decision makers, the workers or the forces who bring us to this decision?

For God sake! don’t play a game that suits others. What suits us, a complete participation in decision making with zeal to make country ideologically developed. On this agenda all alliances are welcomed with open heart but not on agenda of narrow seat securing mentality.

In short, difference is of big picture and a small dot. We are after a small dot for nothing. Big picture is continuously changing with new actors in the scene. So there are chances to hold more things in hands for better playing, the political game. I am unable to understand at one end we do not want to establish a separate political wing even but on other hand, we are dying for MMA . Isn’t it something that comes under lame excuse of inability to perform in big picture, confidently.

Come on, apply “think big and get big” approach at least this time for getting food results in the coming election.



Pakistan condemns US move to recognise Al Quds as Israeli capital

December 07, 2017

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan on Wednesday joined the international community in expressing its strong opposition and condemnation of the US decision to recognise the occupied city of Al Quds Al Sharif / Jerusalem as the so-called capital of Israel and the plan to relocate the American embassy there.

“It is deeply regrettable that pleas from states across the globe not to alter the legal and historical status of Al Quds Al Sharif have been ignored, more out of choice than necessity,” a statement issued by the Prime Minister Office said.

This decision represents a serious violation of international law and applicable UN Security Council resolutions, particularly the UNSCR 478. It is a serious setback to the rule of law and international norms. It signals a severe blow to the Middle East peace process as well, the statement said.

Pakistan shares the international outrage and is deeply concerned over the implications of this decision for international peace and security, especially in the Middle East, it said and added that Pakistan called upon the UN Security Council to take cognisance of this situation and take steps in accordance with the UN Charter.

Pakistan urged the United Sates to revisit its decision as soon as possible in order to avoid the potentially grave repercussions in the region and beyond.

Full report at:



Shifting US Consulate Tantamount To Disturbing World Peace: Pakistan Ulema Council

DECEMBER 7, 2017

LAHORE: Pakistan Ulema Council announced to observe December 8 as “Youm-e-Al-Quds” to express solidarity with people of Palestine.

Central leadership of Pakistan Ulema Council headed by Hafiz Muhammad Tahir Mehmood Ashrafi held meeting with Palestinian Ambassador to Pakistan on Wednesday and reiterated Pakistan’s support for Palestinian Muslims. Leadership of Pakistan Ulema Council asserted that shifting of American consulate to Jerusalem by US administration was tantamount to disturbing world peace and asserted that leadership of Muslim world should oppose the decision of US president.

A joint declaration was issued following the meeting of Pakistan Ulema Council delegation with Palestinian ambassador, which demanded world leadership and Muslim Ummah to restrain US administration from shifting the US consulate to Jerusalem.

They said Jerusalem was not only the centre of Palestinian Muslims but of the entire Muslim world, and that holy places for Christians were also situated in Jerusalem.

The PUC said the decision on part of US President Donald Trump to shift US consulate to Jerusalem was in negation of international laws; therefore US administration should take into consideration religious sentiments of Muslims as well as Christians and withdraw the decision to shift US consulate to Jerusalem.

The joint declaration also demanded King of Saudi Arabia Salman bin Abdul Aziz, Shah Abdullah of Jordan and governments of France, England and America to restrain US president from his negative policies.

Pakistan Ulema Council Chairman Hafiz Muhammad Tahir Mehmood Ashrafi also demanded the government of Pakistan to play their role by demanding US administration to restrain US President from shifting the US consulate to Jerusalem.

Palestinian Ambassador to Pakistan Waleed Abdullah speaking on this asserted that Pakistan was a great force of Islamic world and expressed hope that Pakistan and people of Pakistan will play their role in support of the people of Palestine.

Full report at:



Pakistan says actions taken against all terror groups including Haqqani network

Dec 06 2017

Pakistani officials are saying that the country’s military has taken actions against all terror groups including the notorious Haqqani terrorist network. (AFP File Photo)

According to the officials familiar with the recent meeting with the US defense secretary James Mattis, Islamabad has also shared information with the US delegation regarding the counter-terrorism steps in this regard.

A Pakistani official speaking on the condition of anonymity has told the Pakistani Today newspaper that Secretary Mattis inquired regarding the Haqqani terrorist network during his meeting with the Pakistani officials.

“Pakistan submitted details of some of its recent actions against the terrorists of all hue and colour, telling the US officials that no terrorist would be spared under Pakistan’s policy of indiscriminate action against terrorists,” the official said.

The official further added that “We told the US officials that around 70,000 Afghans cross over through nine border crossings on a daily basis, which makes it impossible to identify each and every individual crossing the border.”

Full report at:



Two wanted terrorists killed in security forces operation

Dec 7, 2017

RAWALPINDI: Security forces conducted a special intelligence based operation (IBO) in Jahanabad area of the city on Wednesday.

Two wanted terrorists, namely Asad alias Anus and Wahab, were killed during the operation. Both were being tracked by intelligence agencies for some time for their previous involvement in terrorist activities in Malakand Agency of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

Intelligence agencies had earlier received accurate intelligence regarding the activities of the terrorists, who had recently crossed over from Afghanistan and entered Swat Valley for a possible terrorist attack.

Full report at:



Sami says alliance with PTI will block victory of ‘secular forces’

Zulfiqar Ali

December 07, 2017

PESHAWAR: The Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Sami has rejected the prospect of joining the Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal (MMA) — a defunct alliance of religious parties which is in the process of being revived — and revealed its intention of forging an electoral alliance with the Pakistan-i-Tehreek Insaf (PTI) for the 2018 general elections.

Talking to the media here on Wednesday, JUI-S chief Maulana Samiul Haq said that the party’s central body (Shura) had unanimously rejected the proposal of joining the MMA and decided to become an ally of the PTI in the next elections.

The JUI-S and the PTI would stand side by side in the coming polls to block the victory of “liberal and secular forces,” he said, adding that foreign forces would try to bring liberal and secular groups to power after the next elections.

JUI-S central body rejects proposal to join MMA

“An alliance between the two parties will pave the way for promulgation of Islamic system in the country,” Maulana Sami said.

He called for coordination among religious forces to protect Islamic ideology and identity of Pakistan, saying “I will continue my efforts for unity among religious groups to contest elections from a joint platform”.

Maulana Sami said: “There is a deep mental harmony between me and Imran Khan. He (Imran) has said that our thoughts are similar.”

In the same breath, he added that the PTI would respect ulema and give up its “culture and traditions” after formation of the alliance.

The PTI core committee had also approved an alliance with the JUI-S, Maulana Sami claimed.

He said that he would continue efforts to persuade other religious parties and groups to join the JUI-PTI alliance.

The JUI-S Shura has decided not to join the MMA when efforts for revival of the erstwhile conglomerate of six religious parties are afoot and a formal announcement is likely to be made in Karachi on Dec 13.

Leaders of the Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl, Jam­aat-i-Islami (JI), Tehreek-i-Islami, Jamiat Ulema-i-Pakistan (Noorani) and Jamiat Ahle Hadias (Sajid Mir) have recently met in Lahore and agreed on restoration of the MMA.

However, after Lahore’s meeting, Maulana Sami held separate meetings with Imran Khan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Chief Minister Pervez Khattak in Islamabad and Akora Khattak, respectively, last month, to discuss the prospect of an electoral alliance between the two parties.

It may be recalled that the KP government had allocated Rs300 million for Darul Uloom Haq­qania, a madressah run by the Maulana Sami family, in the 2016-17 budget. The JUI-S recently supported the PTI candidate in the NA-4 Peshawar by-election.

JI shocked

Reacting to Maulana Sami’s announcement, JI provincial chief Mushtaq Ahmad Khan said the JUI-S decision had shocked him and called on its chief to review his decision.

“I urge Maulana Sami to withdraw the decision and ask leaders of the MMA to persuade him to do so,” said Mr Khan, adding that the defunct alliance could be a proper platform for all religious parties.

Maulana Sami also heads the Difa-i-Pakistan Council (DPC) — an alliance of 40 religious groups, including Jamaatud Dawa of Hafiz Muhammad Saeed.

Maulana Sami had earlier insisted that the DPC and other religious groups should also be included in the MMA.

Criticising leaders of the defunct MMA, particularly Maulana Fazlur Rehman, Maulana Sami said that the MMA failed to do anything for Islamisation (of the country) after the alliance emerged victorious in the 2002 elections and subsequently formed government in KP — then called the North West Frontier Province.

Despite forming government in the province and having 70 seats in the two houses of parliament, the MMA did not raise voice for an Islamic system, the JUI-S chief said. “A wise man cannot be bitten twice,” Maulana Sami said, adding that he was founder of the MMA but others had hijacked the alliance.

Terming Maulana Fazl “king”, he alleged that the JUI-F chief had used the alliance to promote his personal interests.

Full report at:



Arab World


Sisi cautions Trump against 'complicating' matters in Middle East: Egyptian presidency

December 06, 2017

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi told U.S. President Donald Trump on Tuesday there was no need to “complicate” matters in the Middle East after Trump phoned him to talk about his decision to move the U.S. Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, a Cairo presidential statement said.

It said Sisi cautioned Trump against “taking measures that would undermine the chances of peace in the Middle East”.

“The Egyptian president affirmed the Egyptian position on preserving the legal status of Jerusalem within the framework of international references and relevant U.N. resolutions,” the statement said.

U.S. endorsement of Israel’s claim to all of Jerusalem as its capital would break with decades of U.S. policy that the city’s status must be decided in negotiations with the Palestinians, who want East Jerusalem as the capital of their future state. The international community does not recognize Israeli sovereignty over the entire city.



Tens of Al-Nusra Front Terrorists Killed in Syrian Army, Air Force Operations in Hama

Dec 06, 2017

The Syrian army troops engaged in tough battle with Al-Nusra Front terrorists in the village of al-Rahjan in Northern Hama, killing tens of the militant and destroying their military equipment.

Meantime, the Syrian air force also pounded the supply routes of terrorists in Abu Dali, al-Balil Sharqi and Tal Khanzir village.

A battlefield source also confirmed that tens of Al-Nusra Front terrorists were killed and wounded in the military operations of the Syrian army and air force. The terrorists' military hardware were also destroyed.

In a relevant development on Tuesday, the Syrian Army troops warded off a heavy attack of Al-Nusra Front terrorists who tried to recapture lost positions in Northeastern Hama.

The army men engaged in heavy fighting with Al-Nusra terrorists after they attacked the army positions in the villages of al-Shakousiyeh and Um Mayal and fended of their attack.

A large number of Al-Nusra members were killed in the failed attack and their remaining pockets were forced to retreat from the battlefield.

In the meantime, the army's artillery units hit Al-Nusra's positions and movements badly near the villages of Eidoun and al-Dalak West of the town of al-Salamiyah, killing a number of militants and destroying their equipment. 

Relevant reports said on Monday that the artillery and missile units shelled the Al-Nusra positions close to the village of al-Rahjan in Northeastern Hama, inflicting major losses on the militants.

Also, the army aircraft bombed heavily the Al-Nusra strongholds in the villages of al-Rahjan and Shakousiyeh, killing a number of terrorists.

Full report at:



Damascus: 5 Terrorist Groups Join FSA to Prevent Syrian Army Advances in Qalamoun

Dec 06, 2017

Over the past several days the five militant groups of Lawa Shohada al-Qouta, Lawa al-Shahid Omar Heidar, Katibeh Fastat al-Moslemin, Katibeh Shohada Bokheh and Katibeh Ayesheh Um al-Momenin have dissolved in Eastern Qalamon and joined Jeish Tahrir al-Sham which is affiliated to the Free Syrian Army, the websites affiliated to the terrorist groups quoted Jeish Tahrir al-Sham media spokesman as saying.

In a relevant development on Tuesday, field sources said that Abu Hazifeh Felestini, a notorious commander of the Al-Nusra Front (Tahrir al-Sham Hay'at or the Levant Liberation Board), was killed in an offensive operation of the Syrian Army in Southwestern Damascus.

The sources said that Abu Hazifeh Felestini, the field commander of Al-Nusra, was killed in battle with the army men in Beit Jinn region in Southwestern Damascus.

The sources further said that the army's artillery and missile units targeted a military vehicle of the terrorists on the road that connects Beit Jinn to al-Mughur al-Mir, destroying the vehicle and killing its crew.

The Syrian Army men drove the Al-Nusra Front out of more positions in Southwestern Damascus and gained control over the terrorists' main supply line in region on Monday.

In a relevant development in August, the Syrian Army and Air Force targeted terrorist groups' defense lines in Eastern Ghouta and western Qalamoun on Friday, inflicting major losses on the militants.

The army's missile units shelled heavily terrorists' positions along the road connecting the region of Jobar and Ein Terma, killing and wounding a number of militants.

In the meantime, the army aircraft bombed badly ISIL's strongholds in Qara'a and al-Jarajeer heights at border with Lebanon, inflicting major damage on them.  

Relevant reports said on Wednesday that the army soldiers heavily pounded the terrorists' positions and bases in Jobar district, specially in the Southern regions between Jobar and Zmelka, with artillery and missile fire.

The army troops could regain control of several new buildings in Tayebeh region in Jobar district after killing a number of Faylaq al-Rahman and Al-Nusra Front (Tahrir al-Sham Hay'at or the Levant Liberation Board).

They also retook control of a number of buildings in the Northern parts of Sonbol gas station in the Western parts of Ein Terma region.

Full report at:



Syrian Army Cuts Al-Nusra Front's Supply Route to Southwestern Damascus

Dec 06, 2017

The Syrian army troops backed by artillery fire continued its clashes with Al-Nusra Front (Tahrir al-Sham Hay'at or the Levant Liberation Board) in Southwestern Damascus and took control of Tal Shahab South of al-Barda'aya hilltops-North of the town of Moqar al-Mir.

Several terrorists were killed and many more were wounded in the clashes with the Syrian army.

Military equipment of the terrorists was also destroyed in the Syrian army's military operations.

Meantime, a military source announced that after taking control of Barda'aya hilltops, the Syrian army has cut off the Al-Nusra Front's supply routes to the village of Beit Jen and its surrounding farms which were regarded as the biggest military base of al-Nusra Front in Southwestern Damascus.

In a relevant development on Monday, the Syrian Army men drove the Al-Nusra Front out of more positions in Southwestern Damascus and gained military control over the terrorists' main supply line in region.

The army men engaged in fierce clashes with Al-Nusra and other terrorists from Ahrar al-Harmoun group East of Bardaya hills and North of the small town of al-Mughur al-Mir and managed to push Al-Nusra back from more position, seizing military control over the entire roads connecting al-Mughur al-Mir and Beit Jinn Farm.

The army soldiers have laid siege on Al-Nusra from the three flanks of al-Mughur al-Mir, al-Zahr al-Aswad and Tal (hill) Mravan, trying hard to complete the siege, field sources said.

The sources went on to say that Commander of Ahrar al-Harmoun Ayman Kamal nom de guerre Moro who had direct links to the officers of al-Joulani Brigade affiliated to Israeli army was killed in the army attacks. 

Relevant reports said on Friday that the army men, supported by the artillery units' heavy fire, captured several hills overlooking Jabal al-Sheikh region, trying to separate the towns of al-Mughur al-Mir and Beit Jinn and Beit Jinn farm from the towns of Beit Tima, Kafr Hoor and Beit Saber that had previously joined the peace agreement.

Field sources reported that the Al-Nusra carried out several counter-attacks to recapture lost lands before the army men fortify their positions there.

The Syrian Army soldiers pushed Al-Nusra Front back from several other key regions in Southwestern Damascus.

Military sources said that the army men clashed fiercely with Al-Nusra in Southwestern Damascus and seized full control of the strategic Bardaya hills Northeast of Beit Jinn Farm.

Full report at:



Infighting Intensifies Among Terrorists in Quneitra

Dec 06, 2017

The terrorist groups clashed in the town of Seida Julan in Quneitra province on Tuesday.

Commander of Ahrar al-Julan Brigade said that the clashes erupted after his forces' weapons and ammunition were stolen and sold by Ma'az bin Jabal terrorist group, the terrorist-affiliated websites reported.

He also warned against the tragic consequences of constant clashes among two-thirds of the terrorist groups in Quneitra and Dara'a provinces.

In a relevant development in early August, clashes among rival terrorist groups intensified following the Syrian Army troops' advances in Ein Terma and Jobar regions in Eastern Damascus.

A well-informed source said that Faylaq al-Rahman stormed the positions of Ahrar al-Sham in Eastern Ghouta and imposed control over the village of Modira.

Also, Faylaq al-Rahman drove Ahrar al-Sham fighters out of the town of Arbin and attacked more positions of Ahrar in the towns of Kafr Batna and Saqba.

In the meantime, Faylaq al-Rahman stormed the positions of Al-Nusra Front (Tahrir al-Sham Hay'at or the Levant Liberation Board) in the towns of Kafr Batna and pushed them away from the town.

Faylaq al-Rahman has, in a statement, denied any agreement with Jeish al-Islam over driving the Al-Nusra out of Eastern Ghouta, and meantime called on Jeish al-Islam to halt attacking its positions.

Full report at:



Modern Aircraft Deployed in Electronic Warfare Against Terrorists in Syria

Dec 06, 2017

The Il-22PP has been updated on the bases of Il-18 aircraft with the aim of identifying and jamming the electronic warfare systems.

The Il-22PP aircraft is capable of jamming any radio and satellite equipment.

In a relevant development in July, the Russian media outlets reported that the Syrian Army was using an anti-drone electronic warfare system that might also be mounted on any type military vehicle.

Rossiyskaya Gazeta daily reported that the Syrian army's anti-aircraft units are equipped with a new model of electronic cannon that can be used for jamming remote-controlled drones.

The daily added that the electronic system can be mounted on any military vehicle and jams the control waves of the drones.

Full report at:



Turkish Army Preparing for Imminent Military Operations Against Kurdish Forces in Northern Aleppo

Dec 06, 2017

"The Turkish troops will conduct their military operations against the Kurdish forces in Afrin in January," the Turkish-language Qarar newspaper quoted military sources as saying on Wednesday.

The sources said that the Turkish troops have laid siege on the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) from the three directions of Dareh al-Furat, Northern Idlib and borders of Hatay, Kelis and Afrin regions.

They reiterated that the Turkish army's military operations will resume in the same regions in January 2018, and said that Russia will pull out its military troops from Afrin city before January.

In a relevant development on Wednesday, the Turkish National Security Council announced in a statement that Ankara could expand its military mission in Syria to two other provinces, potentially bringing its forces into confrontation with US-backed Kurdish fighters.

The statement said that Ankara is about to expand it monitoring centers in regions close to the town of Afrin in Aleppo province that is under the control of the Syrian Democratic Forces.

"It’s been considered that the observation mission of the Turkish armed forces in the Idlib de-escalation zone continues successfully, and such a mission being performed near Western Aleppo and Afrin would provide a real environment of peace and safety,” the statement added.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had stressed that Ankara needed to clear the Afrin region of Northwest Syria of Kurds as the military operation in Idlib province is largely complete.

The Kurdish-language Hawar news reported earlier this month that the Turkish soldiers crossed Nahr (river) al-Aswad that streams between Bakur Kurdistan and Afrin and crossed the borders of Afrin near the village of Akbas in Raju region.

It said that the army built a bridge over the river to transfer its vehicles in case it comes under attack.

In the meantime, the Turkish forces dug trenches adjacent to the village of Heidarku in Hatay province in Southwestern Turkey.

Full report at:



Al-Nusra's Notorious Terrorist Commander Assassinated by Unknown Gunmen in Idlib

Dec 06, 2017

The vehicle of the Abu Zabah Araqi, a notorious commander of the Al-Nusra Front, came under attack by unknown assailants near the central prison in Idlib and he was shot dead, the media sources close to the terrorists said.

They also reported intensified terrorist attacks on Al-Nusra commanders, and said that the vehicle of the commander of Al-Nusra Front's Islamic Police, Khaled Anis al-Mousa, was exploded in Basqala village in Southern Idlib and his fate is still unknown.

In a relevant development in August, informed sources disclosed that clashes among terrorist groups have intensified in Southeastern Idlib, leaving a number of militants dead or wounded.

The sources reported that the Al-Nusra Front stormed the positions of Jeish al-Fateheen affiliated to Ahrar al-Sham in the town of Tahtaya, killing and wounding a number of the rival militants.

The sources added that Al-Nusra intends to impose full control over the road connecting the Southern part of Idlib province to its Eastern part via driving out Jeish al-Fateheen of Tahtaya.

In the meantime, fighters of Hamoud al-Malik, the former commander of Ahrar al-Sham, engaged in clashes with former combatants of Jund al-Aqsa in the town of Ma'art Shamarin in Southern Idlib.

Local activists reported on Wednesday that Al-Nusra militants stationed at a checkpoint South of Saraqib intercepted a convoy of four trucks of Faylaq al-Sham terrorist group.

Al-Nusra militants seized the vehicles which were laden with weapons and ammunitions, and detained Abu Adas, Faylaq’s commander who was leading the convoy.

Faylaq al-Sham issued an ultimatum to Al-Nusra to release the convoy and the commander before midnight or wait for bloody clashes.

Full report at:



Syrian Army Takes Control of More Key Regions in Deir Ezzur

Dec 06, 2017

The Syrian army units clashed with ISIL terrorists South of Al-Mayadeen in Eastern Deir Ezzur and took control of al-Laij, al-Shamr and al-Sabkheh villages in that area.

A number of terrorists were killed and many more were injured in fierce clashes with the government troops.

In a relevant development on Tuesday, the Syrian Army troops managed to push the ISIL back from almost 10 more regions in Southeastern Homs, killing tens of terrorists.

The army men continued their fight against ISIL Southeast of the town of al-Mayadeen towards the town of Albu Kamal in Southeastern Deir Ezzur and captured Jabal (mount) al-Narousiyeh, Tal (hill) al-Khanzir, Tal al-Bani and Moweiha al-Mowaja.

The army men also took control over the towns of al-Taresh, al-Abbas and al-Mar'ei Shamar and Shamar Farm and al-Tutehiyeh region on the Western bank of the Euphrates River.

Tens of the ISIL members were killed and a number of their military and bomb-laden vehicles and a large volume of their arms and ammunition were seized by the army men in the clashes Southeast of al-Mayadeen.

The army men are now just 13 km away from their comrades in the town of al-Asharah West of Albu Kamal.

Earlier reports said that the army troops continued to advance against the ISIL in Eastern Deir Ezzur and managed to drive terrorists out of three more regions.

The army men engaged in fierce clashes with the ISIL along the road to al-Mayadeen and imposed control over Kharita Abbas, Shamou Farm and al-Qata'a region.

Full report at:



South Asia


Rohingya plight in Bangladesh raises fears of radicalisation

Dec 7, 2017

“They slaughtered us,” cries a woman in one of the Bangladesh camps packed with Muslim refugees driven over the border from Myanmar by marauding soldiers. “They killed my son. How can I go back?”

Disease is spreading among the 630,000 Rohingya who in the past few months have fled a campaign of violence denounced by the UN and US as ethnic cleansing. Tensions with Bangladeshi locals are simmering and refugees are gripped with fear of forced repatriation to Myanmar.

Yet there is little criticism or resentment in the camps of the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army, the radical militant group blamed by the Myanmar government and local Buddhists for sparking Asia’s worst refugee crisis for decades.

It was Arsa’s crude August attacks on Myanmar security forces that prompted the brutal crackdown, but among those languishing in the overcrowded camps rage is directed squarely at the Myanmar military. Not one of the dozens of refugees interviewed by the Financial Times questioned the legitimacy of the insurgency carried out by ARSA, which is now seeking to regroup.

“It’s the army that has persecuted us for decades, not ARSA,” says Mohammed, a refugee whose arm was amputated in Bangladesh because of injuries sustained at the hands of Myanmar soldiers.

From remote camps to town bazaars, the Rohingya in south-east Bangladesh pin vague hopes on a UN-brokered solution to their plight. But observers say a swift outcome is unlikely, playing into ARSA’s efforts to recruit more people to its stated cause of defending the Rohingya from persecution.

“Any long-term hopeless situation is very conducive for recruitment by radical groups who want to pursue their agenda,” says Richard Horsey, an independent analyst based in Myanmar.

RSA imam, speaking on condition that neither his name nor location be revealed, says the group is biding its time.

“We are keeping a low profile now, otherwise people will think we are terrorists,” he says. “ARSA is not dead. Hardly any of the hardliners and leadership were killed. Most of those killed and arrested didn’t even belong to ARSA. We wanted the world to know [about our persecution]. And now the world knows that we are refugees.”

The imam, who taught at a madrassa in the Rohingya’s home state of Rakhine, opposes repatriation of refugees under current conditions and says ARSA is preparing new attacks pending the outcome of the international community’s deliberations.

“ARSA will have no problem in identifying young people willing to join,” Mr Horsey says. He adds that now most of the Rohingya community is in Bangladesh, the group “will have to shift its modus operandi from attacks under the cover of the community to cross-border attacks — and that needs a very different type of training and weapons”.

ARSA is resented by some refugees for stoking a conflict without being properly armed, and feared because it is reputed to kill Rohingya seen as informers or traitors. Nonetheless, it is increasingly seen by many in the camps as the only option if the international community fails them.

“If they got more funding and were better equipped, far more people will join,” says one Rohingya in the camps who asks not to be named.

Aung Kyaw Moe, founder of the Centre for Social Integration, a group working in the camps to offer young refugees opportunities such as teaching or volunteering as an alternative to militancy, says that while there is a “real risk of radicalisation”, ARSA would lose much of its appeal if the Rohingya — who are not recognised as a distinct ethnicity in Myanmar — were granted equality.

“We want the right to identify [as Rohingya], he says. “But we can temporarily compromise even over the term if our rights are fully restored.”

ARSA, whose leader Ata Ullah was born in Pakistan and raised in a madrassa in Saudi Arabia, has called for supporters to martyr themselves. Members include veterans of other conflicts, such as Afghanistan and Yemen, according to the International Crisis Group.

The imam says ARSA has rejected contact with jihadi groups but his recollection of the group’s principles, practices and training echoes fundamentalist values.

“We had to obey sharia law and live according to Islam,” he says. “We were not allowed to watch videos...If a man took drugs, he’d be warned three times, then punished — I mean beaten. If someone was not able to live according to sharia, then we would select somebody else.”

According to people in the camps, religious leaders met recently in Kutupalong to discuss defence of their community and religion. However, imams there were said to be divided over whether their resistance should be peaceful.

Following intense international pressure, Aung San Suu Kyi, Myanmar’s de facto leader, signed a repatriation deal with Bangladesh late last month.

But the two sides are still working on the details and it is not yet clear what documentation Myanmar will demand to allow Rohingya back into Rakhine. Many fled burning villages with no papers. Rohingya leaders interviewed in several camps suggested less than a third can prove their identity or ownership of property.

“I oversee 140 families and not even 50 have their documents with them,” says a translator from Rakhine’s Maungdaw district who is now a community leader in Kutupalong.

The UN insists repatriation must be voluntary and aid workers say conditions are not right for refugees to return.

“People are asking so many questions. Will they keep us in camps after repatriation?” says Nurul, a refugee who fled to Kutupalong. “We are swimming in the ocean.”



Bangladesh, Myanmar youths are a sign of hope for Asia, pope says

Dec 6, 2017

VATICAN CITY — Young people in Myanmar and Bangladesh are a source of hope for a peaceful future in their countries after years of war and suffering, Pope Francis said.

As is customary, at his general audience Dec. 6, the first after his Nov. 27-Dec. 2 trip to Asia, Pope Francis reviewed his visit.

"In the faces of those young people, full of joy, I saw the future of Asia: A future that doesn't belong to those who build weapons, but to those who sow brotherhood," the pope said.

As temperatures in Rome hovered just above 40 degrees, the audience was held in the Paul VI audience hall to avoid the chilly weather.

The pope entered the hall, stretching his hands to each side of the aisle to greet people who reached out to touch him.

After telling the estimated 8,000 pilgrims that he wanted to speak about his recent visit, four Bangladeshi priests cheered loudly and held up a banner that read, "Thank you, Papa." The pope smiled and waved at the small group.

Noting that it was "the first time a successor of Peter visited Myanmar," the pope said he hoped to express "the closeness of Christ and the church to a people who have suffered due to conflict and repression and that now is slowly moving toward a new condition of freedom and peace."

The Catholic Church in Myanmar is "alive and fervent," he said, adding that he had "the joy of confirming them in the faith and in communion."

He also said his Nov. 29 meeting with a group of senior Buddhist monks was a moment to "manifest the church's esteem for their ancient spiritual tradition and the trust that Christians and Buddhists together can help people to love God and neighbor while rejecting every kind of violence and opposing evil with good."

Pope Francis said his visit to Bangladesh "followed in the footsteps of Blessed Paul VI and St. John Paul II" and "marked a further step toward respect and dialogue between Christianity and Islam."

He also praised the country's care for religious liberty and its welcoming of welcoming hundreds of thousands of Rohingya refugees from Myanmar.

"I wanted to express my solidarity with Bangladesh in their commitment to aid the Rohingya refugees flowing en masse in their territory, where the population density is among the highest in the world," the pope said.

The "most significant and joyful event" of ordaining 16 new priests in Dhaka, he said, was "the sign of a living community where the voice of the Lord resounds, calling on them to follow him."

This joy was also evident during his visit to the home in Dhaka where the Missionary of Charity sisters care for "so many orphans and people with disabilities," Pope Francis said.

Full report at:



Bangladesh can make robots like Sophia

December 07, 2017

Bangladeshi developers can build modern robots like Sophia using its software, said the manufacturer of the humanoid robot at a session of Digital World expo in Dhaka yesterday.

“All of our software is placed on open platforms and Bangladeshi developers can use those resources if they want to build robots,” said David Hanson, founder and chief executive officer of Hanson Robotics.

The Hong Kong-based robotics company, which also works on artificial intelligence, developed Sophia one and a half years ago.

Capable of chatting, smiling and even telling jokes as per media reports, the humanoid robot garnered attention around the world recently. It is based on state-of-the-art innovations in artificial intelligence, visual data processing and facial recognition.

Saudi Arabia, a conservative Muslim country, even provided citizenship to the robot, which uses voice recognition technology from Alphabet Inc, the parent company of Google, and is designed to get smarter over time.

Sophia's intelligence software was designed by SingularityNET.

Both Sophia and its creator attended a session titled “Tech-Talk with Sophia” and answered questions from a packed audience at Bangabandhu International Conference Centre.

Sophia expects that Bangladeshi developers would be able to manufacture social robots in the near future.

It said, after more robots are developed in the coming years, there would be new dimensions in the job markets while artificial intelligence would also create new opportunities.

“Some traditional jobs will vanish over time and new opportunities will be created,” Sophia responded to a question from Zunaid Ahmed Palak, state minister for ICT.

The robot came wearing a yellow Jamdani kameez and it described the clothing as the most attractive one. “This is Jamdani and I know this is a patent of Bangladesh,” said the robot.

Sophia said Bangladesh was very well known for readymade garments and now it was moving towards digitisation.

The programme was to last for two hours but it was closed in half an hour as the organisers were finding it hard to manage the crowd. Around 2,000 visitors were scheduled to attend but over 5,000 arrived. There was also a lot of commotion.

Hanson, who took three and a half years to build Sophia, said robots would soon be walking around with people.

“Within the next five years social robots will walk around us and robots like Sophia will be our friend,” added Hanson, who also developed 13 robots similar to Sophia.

“Designers are now developing robots with an empathetic body movement,” he said, adding that the industry was moving to feature technologies that would be helpful.

During the inauguration, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina also talked with Sophia. The robot said to have known the premier as a daughter of the Father of the Nation -- Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.

About Bangladesh's digitisation process, Sophia said she learned about the vision of Digital Bangladesh and a digitalised Bangladesh would have more developed human resources and ensure better e-governance.

Full report at:



Killing of Al-Qaeda leader an example of Afghan Special Forces lethality: Nicholson

Dec 06 2017

The commander of the NATO-led Resolute Support Mission and the US forces in Afghanistan General John Nicholson has said the recent operation resulting into the killing of a top Al-Qaeda leader is an example of the lethality of the Afghan Special Forces. (Photo: NATO Resolute Support Mission)

“This operation is a testament to the real growth the Afghan forces have achieved over the past year,” he said.

Gen. Nicholson further added “It is also another example of the lethality of the undefeated Afghan Special Forces and the success of working side by side with our Afghan partners.”

The Afghan security authorities said Tuesday that a top leader of the Al-Qaeda terrorist network has been killed along with at least 80 other militants during the operations of the Afghan and US forces.

The Afghan Intelligence, National Directorate of Security (NDS), the militants were killed during the operations conducted in Ghazni, Zabul, and Paktia provinces.

According to NDS, the senior Al-Qaeda leader killed during the operation has been identified as Omar Khetab who was also famous was Omar Mansoor.

This comes as the Afghan and US forces have stepped up counter-terrorism efforts during the recent months to suppress the terror groups who are attempting to expand their foothold in Afghanistan.

Earlier, a similar operation resulted in the death of Qari Yasin, a well-known al Qaida terrorist leader responsible for the deaths of dozens of innocent victims, including two American service members.

Full report at:



US military release video of airstrike on Taliban Red Unit leader

Dec 06 2017

The US military has released a video which purportedly shows an airstrike that target one of the most senior leaders of the Taliban group.

The video shows the airstrike on the leader of the Red Unit of the Taliban Mulah Shah Wali who was killed in the raid on 1st December.

A fast moving car is shown in the video as the military planes approach and targets it with a missile, putting on flames with the US officials saying at least five people were killed in the raid.

 According to a statement by the US military, the Taliban’s “Red Unit” commander in Helmand province, Mullah Shah Wali, aka Haji Nasir, was killed in a kinetic strike in Musa Qalah, Helmand, Dec. 1. One of Wali’s deputy commanders and three other insurgents were also killed in the strike.

The statement further added that Wali and his “Red Unit” are responsible for planning numerous suicide bombings, IED attacks, and coordinated assaults against civilians, Afghan and coalition forces. Wali was directly responsible for coordinating operations and resupply of munitions, explosives, and materials for the Taliban throughout Helmand province.

“Mullah Shah Wali’s death will disrupt the Taliban network, degrade their narcotics trafficking, and hinder their ability to conduct attacks against Afghan forces,” Nicholson said. “USFOR-A and our Afghan partners will continue to aggressively target Taliban leaders to destroy their drug network, disrupt their communications, and deny them safe haven.”

Full report at:



Southeast Asia


Taking The Anti-Terror Fight To Islamic Schools In Malaysia

07 December 2017

During a recent conference of Islamic scholars from the Southeast Asian and Middle Eastern regions held in Kuala Lumpur, a lecturer from Riyadh’s Saud Islamic University had urged Muslim clerics to utilise mass media in tackling the spread of extremism.

“Some clerics and scholars stay away from mass media, wherein mass media is an important channel to convey the accurate message and keeping the positive image of Islam towards non-Muslims,” Dr Muhammad al-Bashar Muhammad al-Khar’an said to Bernama during the recent Khayr Ummah Conference (KUC) 2017.

His call was also echoed by Mushtak Parker, a London-based economist and writer who discussed contemporary challenges in the fight against Islamic extremism.

"One of the failures of mainstream ulama has been to not robustly counter the warped ideology of extremists, whether on the concept of jihad, suicide bombings and the slaughter of the innocents. The tendency has been to sit on the fence and shy away from engagement," the writer commented in an article published by NST.

Our government has been actively waging a war against the spread of terrorist ideology in Malaysia and recently participated in the inaugural meeting of the Islamic Military Counter Terrorism Coalition (IMCTC) held in Riyadh last month, endorsing IMCTC's aim to will fight terrorism through four domains: Ideology, Communications, Counter-Terrorist Financing and the Military.

The Malaysian authorities are doing the best they can to prevent the spread of such ideologies but as highlighted by scholars, the battle must go to the root causes, by ensuring that religious education is free from radical ideology.

Malaysian Digest takes a closer look at the efforts being made by our local Islamic organisations to curb the spread of terrorist ideology and counter the misconception that religious schools have become breeding grounds for Islamic extremism and recruitment hotbeds for terrorist groups like Islamic State (IS).

What Tahfiz Schools Are Doing To Ensure Their Students And Teachers Are Not Being Influenced

Militant Islamic groups have been known to target those attending Islamic schools in their recruiting endeavours, and spreading their view of the religion on those schools.

To counter the spread of such ideology, the Islamic schools in Malaysia are taking measures to ensure their students, teachers and employees are not influenced by opportunistic militant groups.

Malaysian Digest spoke to Ustaz Muhammad Hafiz Mohd Haneefa, deputy chairman of Selangor Tahfiz Schools Association (PITAS), to know what the tahfiz schools in the state are doing to prevent their school community from being influenced.

“We start from the basic Islamic education curriculum itself, in which the religion abhors its followers from any form of violence.

“On top of that, we also hold numerous seminars and courses to educate our students about the dangers of extremist teachings,” he explained.

For example, last Thursday they collaborated with the Selangor state government (SUK) to hold a Selangor Security Management seminar, in which there were 500 attendees including members of the police force.

The police gave a presentation on the extremist activities in the country and how the authorities are doing their best to arrest them.

“Yes, there were previous cases of tahfiz students wanting to leave the country for Syria to join the extremist groups after they were influenced on social media, but they were arrested by the authorities in KLIA.

“This showed how deceiving the militants can be to influence young students that are thousands of kilometers away.”

During the seminar, the police showed photographs and videos of Malaysians who participated in extremist groups and carried out acts of terror, and educated the attendees to be aware of such teachings. Ustaz Hafiz recalled that the material shown by the police during the seminar was strictly classified, and attendees were forbidden from taking photgraphs or videos of the material.

Besides that, PITAS regularly hosts courses for its teachers, dubbed as Pemantapan Murabbi course, to implement positivity and care in their teachings and not resorting to harsh punishments when educating their students.

Next week, PITAS and the Selangor SUK will host another course in Kolej Universiti Islam Antarabangsa Selangor (KUIS) to educate the tahfiz schools in preventing the spread of extremist ideologies. Among those who will present at the seminar include senior Islamic clerics from the state mufti office and the mufti himself, Dato’ Setia Hj Mohd Tamyes.

“While the previous seminar involved presentations from the police, in this course it is themed around theological discussion on why Islam rejects terrorism and blind violence. Tahfiz schools look up to their respective state muftis, hence if we can include the mufti in our discussion, the course will be more influential,” Ustaz Hafiz explained.

However, despite these efforts, Ustaz Hafiz admitted that they can’t control what the students are viewing in social media at home. While students normally are not allowed to visit social media sites while they are in school grounds, they can access pages of the terrorist groups while they are at home, and these groups are known to using convincing internet videos to influence viewers to join them.

As for the teachers, the police has suggested that beginning from 2018, all tahfiz school teachers will be screened by Bukit Aman to ensure that they are not influenced by extremist ideologies.

“The Selangor Islamic Department (JAIS) has expressed their interest in the screening process. Local teachers from within the country as well as overseas will have to undergo a screening process, with foreign teachers will go through an additional layer of screening with JAIS,” he explained, adding that foreign teachers only makes up a small percentage of the religious schools’ workforce.

While the initiative has yet to be executed, Ustaz Hafiz opined that it is a brilliant idea to ensure that the teachers are free from radical influences.

Muslim NGO Says Combating Terrorism Is Everyone’s Responsibility

As highlighted by PITAS, while the students and teachers are monitored while in schools, they cannot control what is being viewed on social media at home so it is the society’s collective responsibility to remain vigilant.

Malaysian Digest spoke to Malaysian Muslim Solidarity (ISMA), an Islamic NGO that was established in 1997, and has since remain as a vocal voice for the Malaysian Muslim community and promoting the true understanding of the religion through various approaches.

“From the beginning, we have made tremendous efforts in explaining the religion, its core values and tolerance towards other religions as taught by the Prophet Muhammad,” said ISMA’s deputy president Haji Aminuddin Yahaya.

Fortunately, none of its members in the 30 ISMA branches across the country as well as overseas have been influenced by extremist teachings.

Haji Aminuddin clarified that ISMA has made its stance clear to its members and the public that they absolutely reject the Islamic interpretations practiced by radical groups such as Daesh and the Islamic State.

“At the same time, we also looked into why these groups existed in the first place. From our observation, they were created as a by-product of Western aggression and interference towards the Middle Eastern countries such as Iraq, Syria and Yemen,” he explained.

Many journalists and international policy experts have opined that the birth of extremist groups such as Daesh are the product of Western interference in war-torn Muslim countries.

American journalist Mark Danner in his essay Iraq: The New War wrote how America’s policy during the Iraq War helped in the creation of the Islamic State, through the mishandling of the Iraqi army as well as the torture of Iraqis by American personnel in the Abu Ghraib prison.

“Hence, the efforts to combat extremist ideologies should not lie only on one side at the Islamic authorities, as the governments must also take action in reducing their interference in Middle Eastern countries.

“A multi-pronged approach must be taken to effectively take down these radical groups,” said Haji Aminuddin to Malaysian Digest.

He admitted that some Muslims were misled by the devious teachings of radical groups, and in preventing more Malaysians from being influenced, ISMA is active in hosting talks and forums to educate the public from joining those radical groups.

“We collaborate with various NGOs all over the country to host educational talks for the public, in which we address issues not only related to extremism, but regarding liberal thinking, pluralisation of religion and atheism.”

Haji Aminuddin relayed that education at the grassroots level is very important, hence the organisation has hosted talks in schools and universities to create awareness among young students about the dangers of extremism.

In a public statement by Ustaz Haji Mohd Hazizi, ISMA’s Information Chief, he called upon Muslims to stay united against extremist teachings that could result in the bloodbath among Muslims themselves.

He cautioned Muslims to be aware of those who only idolises their own imams and not referring back to the original Islamic text in the Qur’an and the Prophet’s sayings.

Ultimately, Education Is Key To Combating Terrorism Ideologies

As the country’s main authority in Islamic affairs, the Malaysian Islamic Development Department (JAKIM) has made countless efforts to correct the misconception of going to fight in Syria or Iraq as the means to jihad.

Taking a multi-pronged approach, the department is actively working with multiple state and federal agencies in waging war against terrorism ideologies.

Its director, Datuk Othman Mustapha said 38 agencies were involved in briefing the public about the nature of extremist groups. In a report by Bernama, more than one million Muslims have attended their events.

He also said focus will be given towards pondok schools and madrasah as it could be a starting point to these ideologies.

“With the development in threat posed by these militant groups, we will collaborate with security agencies to focus on areas that have the potential to be influenced by their teachings,” he said.

JAKIM has also released a fatwa stating it is haram or forbidden for Muslims to join the Islamic State (IS). The fatwa council deducted that the violence and killing promoted by the terror organisation goes against the fundamental tenets of Islam, and they pose a security threat to the nation.

“The IS struggle is not considered as martyrdom as they do not operate within the bounds of Islamic law,” the National Fatwa Council said.

JAKIM deputy director-general Ruslan Said also disapproves of IS’s extreme interpretation of the religion, and publicly condemned the group for shattering Islam’s image.

“Daesh militants are doing useless things and they won’t die as ‘syahid’ (Muslim martyr) if they want to. Their ideology deviates from the belief of Islam, which ironically, is a peace-loving religion,” he said.

In ensuring their message to be effectively propagated among the public, JAKIM collaborates with the Communication and Multimedia Ministry to utilise mass media at its fullest.

“We will work with JAKIM by helping them to produce flyers or articles or capsules on the true meaning of jihad and war in Islam, so that we can broadcast it on any of our television channels,” said deputy minister Datuk Jailani Johari to Bernama.

As for the spreading of the ideologies in the internet, Datuk Jailani said the Malaysian Communication and Multimedia Commission (MCMC), would also continue to monitor Daesh movement in the social media.

Even the Southeast Asia Regional Centre For Counter-Terrorism (SEARCCT), an organisation under the Malaysian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, has expressed their concern towards the role of education in combating extremist ideologies.

“SEARCCT, in its efforts to counter the terrorists’ narratives spread online, has been actively involved in developing counter-narratives to specifically mitigate the issue of online radicalisation and recruitment in the Southeast Asia region.

“We have conducted programmes which engage the public as well as the students at higher learning institutions in the country with the purpose of creating ‘mental firewalls’ in the minds of the undergraduates so as to counter radical ideologies in the event that they are exposed to such ideas,” the organisation explained to Malaysian Digest.

With the recent defeat of radical Islamic groups in Iraq and Marawi, the threat of the ideology spread may has slowed down, but authorities are worried that the returning militants will bring home their extremist ideas and influence others to start a new extremist organisation.

Ultimately, it comes down to the battle to strengthen the hearts and minds of Malaysian Muslims in rejecting such ideologies.

As Defence Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein had said during his speech at the IMCTC conference in Riyadh last week, it is the responsibility of Muslim nations to address the problem of terrorists who have tarnished the face of Islam.

"...because if not for us, who else can we rely on to take the helm in this war against terror?

“As fellow Muslims and brothers in the Ummah, it is us who will bear the greatest burden if the cause of peace fails," said Hishammuddin.



China says UN resolutions 'cannot solve' Rohingya crisis

December 07, 2017

BEIJING - China said Wednesday that a UN resolution expressing grave concern over widespread abuses committed against Myanmar's Rohingya Muslim minority "cannot help to ease the tensions and solve the problem".

Beijing voted against a resolution at the UN Human Rights Council that said abuses in Myanmar indicated "the very likely commission of crimes against humanity". "It will probably complicate the issue and have some negative influence on implementing the repatriation agreement between Myanmar and Bangladesh," Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said during a regular press briefing, referring to a deal signed in November to start returning Rohingya refugees within two months. "This is not in the interest of Bangladesh, Myanmar or the international community." China was one of only three countries that opposed the text, which passed Tuesday with 33 of the council's 47 member states voting in its favour. A army-led crackdown has forced some 626,000 people to flee the northern Rakhine state and cross the border into squalid camps in Bangladesh in recent months, and left hundreds of villages burned to the ground. Myanmar's military vehemently denies accusations by the UN and the US that it has committed ethnic cleansing against the Rohingya .



Malaysian PM Najib urges Muslims to strongly oppose Jerusalem as Israel’s capital

Dec 7, 2017

KUALA LUMPUR (REUTERS) - Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak on Thursday (Dec 7) called on Muslims everywhere to strongly oppose any recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

President Donald Trump reversed decades of US policy and recognised Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, a move that was condemned by the Muslim countries across the world.

“I call on all Muslims across the world to let your voices be heard, make it clear that we strongly oppose any recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital for all time,” PM Najib said in his speech at an annual gathering of the ruling party in Kuala Lumpur.

Earlier on Thursday,  Malaysia's Foreign Ministry voiced concerns over US President Donald Trump's move to recognise Jerusalem as Israel's capital, calling on the United States to reconsider its decision to do so.

It said in a statement that recognising Jerusalem as Israel's capital would put an end to all efforts made towards the resolution of the Palestinian crisis.

"It would have grave repercussions not only towards the security and stability of the region, but would inflame sentiments, making efforts to combat terrorism all the more difficult," it said.

The ministry warned that any attempts to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, establishing or transferring any diplomatic mission to the city, are considered aggression towards the Arab and Islamic world, and an infringement on the rights of Muslims and Christians.

"It is also an infringement on the Palestinian people's national rights, including their right to self-determination, and a grave breach of international law along with the Security Council's relevant resolutions," it said.

The ministry requested United Nations member states not to recognise any changes in the pre-1976 borders, including in connection with Jerusalem.

"Recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel is not a recognition of the reality on the ground; it is an expression of support for Israeli policies, much of which is in contravention of the international law," it said.

On Wednesday (Dec 6), Malaysian Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi urged members of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation to object in a united voice to the decision .

"The OIC nations should view it as beyond a Palestinian matter as it is an international issue," Mr Zahid added.

Full report at:



The correct protest venue is the Saudi embassy, Muslims told

December 7, 2017

KUALA LUMPUR: Muslim groups are barking up the wrong tree if they stage a protest outside the United States embassy in Kuala Lumpur over Washington’s controversial decision to move its embassy to Jerusalem, a prominent Muslim activist says.

Instead, Dr Ahmad Farouk Musa of the Islamic Renaissance Front (IRF) said Muslims should be training their guns at Saudi Arabia, adding that the kingdom was not only President Donald Trump’s closest ally in the Middle East but has made it possible for the US to announce the decision in the face of international protests.

“Trump would not have made such an announcement unless he had regional backers. I think almost everybody knows about the story of Mohammed bin Salman, or MBS, as he is popularly known. The New York Times has reported from multiple sources how the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia had told Mahmoud Abbas to accept the terms; that if there was no Jerusalem, then there was no return. Abbas was told by MBS to make way for someone who will,” Farouk told FMT today.

Several Muslim groups including PAS are calling for a rally outside the US embassy in Jalan Ampang after Friday prayers tomorrow, to protest Trump’s decision to recognise Jerusalem as the Israeli capital.

Israel has long considered Jerusalem, which hosts holy sites for Islam, Christianity and Judaism, as its “eternal and indivisible” capital.

But Western governments have snubbed Israeli calls to move their embassies to Jerusalem, wary that it would further complicate the crisis in the Middle East and any delicate peace plan for Palestine.

Trump’s announcement today is a reversal of its decades-old policy of not recognising Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. It also comes in the wake of a strong alliance between Trump and the US’s traditional Arab allies including Saudi Arabia, both of which have been leading a so-called Gulf anti-terror pact.

Farouk said despite the Saudi involvement in the bombing of Yemen which has sparked a major humanitarian crisis, there has been silence from Muslim groups who instead target the American embassy.

“Sadly, no demonstrations were ever held when the Saudis launched missiles that killed thousands in Yemen and caused the largest humanitarian crisis in the world as confirmed by the United Nations.

“Where were these Islamists, be they PAS, Abim or Ikram?” he asked, referring to the Muslim Youth Movement of Malaysia and Pertubuhan Ikram which brings together several Muslim organisations.

“Why were they silent about the atrocities committed by the Saudis?” Farouk said, adding that it was “blatant hypocrisy”.

“Isn’t this also a treason to the Palestinian cause?” he said.

Farouk said Jerusalem has always been a symbolic city to Muslims all over the world.

“It is a city that unites the followers of monotheistic faiths, Muslims, Christians, and Jews together. It is also a symbol that unites the warring factions of the Palestinians together; the nationalists, the secular, the Islamists, and also the Christian Palestinians.

Full report at:



‘Indonesian terrorist held in Marawi radicalised in Malaysia’

Zam Yusa

December 6, 2017

PETALING JAYA: An Indonesian terrorist arrested in the besieged southern Philippine city of Marawi may have been radicalised in Malaysia, FMT has learned.

Muhammad Ilham Syahputra was detained while trying to flee Marawi in November after military efforts to retake the city from Islamic State (IS)-affiliated groups officially ended.

“It’s possible that Ilham was radicalised while working in Malaysia,” a source, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorised to speak to the media, told FMT.

“The authorities are trying to determine this,” said the source without giving more details.

It is not clear whether Ilham was self-radicalised.

The 22-year-old from Medan, West Sumatra, was one of seven Indonesians on the Philippine’s wanted list for suspected terrorist acts in Marawi, the capital city of Lanao del Sur province.

It was initially reported that he had been killed in June.

Ilham was trying to escape Marawi when he was detained and found to have in his possession ammunition, a .45 calibre handgun, a grenade, money and improvised explosive devices. His passport was found by the military in April in the city.

The Philippine authorities said Ilham had been a drone operator for the terror groups and was tasked with monitoring the movement of government troops in Marawi.

He also admitted to the authorities that he had been a drone operator for the Maute group, one of the groups responsible for the Marawi siege, during the April attack on Piagapo city, also in Lanao del Sur province.

Ilham told Philippine police investigators that Malaysian militant from Sabah, Amin Baco, was the new leader of IS following the death of the group’s emir-designate for Southeast Asia, Isnilon Hapilon.

The Philippine military had refuted the claim at that time but later admitted that Ilham’s assertion might have been true.

He also told the authorities he had operated the drone for Amin during the attack on Piagapo city.

Indonesian news site Kumparan quoted his sister, Atika, as saying Ilham had gone to Malaysia in 2014 and worked with an air cargo company.

During his two-year stay in Malaysia, Ilham regularly contacted his family in Indonesia but then things changed in 2016, the report said.

His sister said Ilham had left Medan again in December 2016 and there had been no news from him since March, a month before the Piagapo attack.

Atika said she did not know where Ilham lived or worked but he had told her he would send money home.

Full report at:





Libyan ISIS militant reveals new details about 2015 massacre of Egyptian Copts

6 December 2017

Libya’s anti-crime department has published the confessional video of Hisham al-Awkli, known as the “dinosaur” among Libyans for being among ISIS extremists who brutally murdered 21 Egyptian Coptic Christian in Sirte.

During the video, Awkli admitted that he was one of the individuals involved in the 2015 massacre that shocked the world.

He said he participated in “slaughtering and burying of 21 Egyptian Copts of, in addition to Christians of African nationality,” adding that those who supervised the massacre were a Tunisian, a Senegalese and two Libyans.

The killings, documented in a grisly video released online by the extremists, shocked Egypt and led it to launch punitive airstrikes.

Awkli explained that he travelled from Sirte to Derna to participate in the slaughter near the Mahari Hotel, adding that the operation was supervised by Abu Ubaid Aziz Anbari, head of the video team that used cameras and modern equipment purchased and smuggled by Abu Abdullah Ahmed Hamali from Turkey through the Maitika airport in Tripoli.

The ISIS militant confirmed that the Copts’ corpses were eventually taken to southern Sirte and were buried inside an abandoned building belonging to a private company.

Awkli said that massacre was ordered in response to what he said was the killing of an Egyptian Copt named Camilia, who converted to Islam and was allegedly killed by Copts in Egypt. He said that it came in response to “the contamination of the sea by the blood of Osama bin Laden.”

Hundreds of ISIS militants are believed to have fled Sirte into the Libyan interior after their defeat last year by militias loyal to a UN-backed government in Tripoli, the capital.



Somali man found guilty in kidnapping of Canadian journalist

December 07, 2017

A Somali national has been convicted in an Ontario court for his role in the 2008 kidnapping of Canadian Amanda Lindhout, who was held captive in Somalia for 460 days and released only after her family paid a ransom, Canadian media reported on Wednesday.

Ali Omar Ader, 40, was found guilty of one charge of hostage-taking for his role as negotiator for the kidnappers, in a decision handed down on Wednesday in Ontario Superior Court in Ottawa.

Lindhout, a freelance journalist , was taken hostage in Somalia on Aug. 23, 2008, along with Australian photographer Nigel Brennan, while working on a story. They were released for ransom in November 2009.

Ader was lured to Canada from Somalia in 2015 and arrested in Ottawa as part of a sting operation by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police in which an officer posed as a publisher interested in a book Ader was writing on Somalia, according to court documents. Prosecutors argued that Ader had been the main spokesman for the hostage-takers, negotiating first with Lindhout’s mother and later with a private consultant hired by the families of Lindhout and Brennan.

According to court documents, he referred to himself as “a commander” and repeatedly threatened that the hostages would be harmed or killed unless the ransom was paid.

During his trial, Ader said that he too had been kidnapped by the group holding Lindhout captive, and was forced to act as their spokesman, as he spoke some English.

In his ruling, Justice Robert Smith said Ader’s claims were “completely unbelievable,” numerous Canadian media outlets reported. Reuters has not read the ruling.

Ader faces up to life in prison. Sentencing in the case is not expected until next year.

Full report at:



Malawi Muslims Add Weight to Dec 13 Protests in Solidarity With PAC


By Zawadi Chilunga

Muslims in the country have been urged to participate in Public Affairs Committee (PAC) nationwide demonstrations on December 13 to push for the enactment of the Electoral Reforms Bills, including the 50+1 provision for electing the President.

Quadria Muslim Association of Malawi National Secretary General, Osman Karim and publicity secretary Sheikh Jafaar Kawinga, encouraged the Muslim community to come in large numbers and participate in the demonstrations.

Karima said PAC are pushing for genuine issues of national interest and Muslims are in full support of the protests, including any decision made by the quasi-religious body.

"As Muslims, we are in full support of the protests calling on all Muslims to join the protests,"Karim said.

Chancellor College political analyst Ernest Thindwa has also backed the decision, indicating that PAC as an organisation that represents people of all walks of life, it has every right to hold demonstrations as stipulated in the Constitution.

Full report at:



Nigeria: U.S. Supreme Court Okays Trump's Latest Travel Ban


The US Supreme Court on Monday issued an order allowing full enforcement of President Donald Trump's revised travel ban to go into effect while legal challenges are argued in lower courts.

The revised order bans most travellers from Syria, Libya, Iran, Yemen, Chad, Somalia, North Korea and Venezuela. Six of the countries have majority Muslim populations.

Lower courts had issued restrictions on fully implementing the ban, saying Trump's action discriminated based on nationality.

But lawyers for the Trump administration argued that those restrictions were "dangerously flawed."

They argued that countries included in the ban had not cooperated with US demands for reliable identification of individuals and information sharing about people who could be criminal or security risks.

The travel ban listing Chad, Iran, Libya, North Korea, Syria, Venezuela and Yemen was announced in September and was supposed to take effect on October 18, but was stayed by lower courts.

Somalia was not listed, but similar restrictions were placed on immigrant visas from that country.

Full report at:




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