New Age Islam
Fri Aug 14 2020, 04:07 PM

Islamic World News ( 16 Feb 2017, NewAgeIslam.Com)

Keep Masjid Free From Politics, W. B. Shahi Imam Gets Revolt from Muslims
















Hoarding put up near Tipu Sultan Mosque in Kolkata. (enewsroom.in)

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Keep Masjid Free From Politics, W. B. Shahi Imam Gets Revolt from Muslims

Fall of ISIS? Jihadis 'Close Sharia Courts and Evacuate HQ’ As Armed Forces Batter City

In Mosul Orphanage, Islamic State Groomed Child Soldiers

Over 25 Killed In Crackdown after Attack on Lal Shahbaz Qalandar Shrine

We ‘Absolutely’ Support Two-State Solution: US Ambassador to UN

 

India

Keep Masjid Free From Politics, W. B. Shahi Imam Gets Revolt from Muslims

'Al-Qaeda Using US Preoccupation with Islamic State to Spread To India'

Karachi Hub of Anti-India Jihadists Supported By Pakistan Army: Report

Kairana Not a Hindu-Muslim Issue, Don't Know Meaning of Love Jihad: Home Minister

India: Rohingya and Bangladeshis Living in Jammu Fear Expulsion

Constitution Bench to Decide Petitions on Triple Talaq: Supreme Court

Emotional Speeches Won’t Eradicate Economic Backwardness of Muslims – Conress Leader

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Arab World

Fall of ISIS? Jihadis 'Close Sharia Courts and Evacuate HQ’ As Armed Forces Batter City

In Mosul Orphanage, Islamic State Groomed Child Soldiers

Takfiris Kill 160-Plus Free Syrian Army Militants in Syria: Intelligence Group

Nearly 200 Terrorists Killed by Army in Hama

ISIL Executing Fugitive, Defeated Commanders in Deir Ezzur

Baghdad Car Bomb Claimed By Islamic State Kills 51

24 civilians killed in bombing on Syria town: monitor

Al-Nusra Attack against Dara'a Repelled, 45 Terrorists, Commanders Killed

Assad says Trump travel ban targets terrorists, not Syria's people

Arab League chief says Mideast peace requires two-state solution

Saudi Arabia optimistic about overcoming Mideast challenges

US used depleted uranium rounds in anti-ISIS air strikes: military

After invading Syria, does Hezbollah threaten Israel or Turkish-Saudi interests?

Saudi Arabia dismantles four ISIS cells, arrests 18 individuals

CIS Official Warns of ISIL Terrorists' Tendency to Return Home

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Pakistan

Over 25 Killed In Crackdown after Attack on Lal Shahbaz Qalandar Shrine

Six Jamaat-Ul-Ahrar ‘Militants’ Shot Dead

Resetting ties: Pakistan may appoint new India envoy

Two FC personnel injured in 'terrorist attack' on Pak-Afghan border

Taliban entered Pakistan as migrants on condition they would disavow militancy: Aizaz Chaudhry

Four policemen among five killed in Dera Ismail Khan

Jamaat-ul-Ahrar operating from Afghanistan: Pakistan

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North America

We ‘Absolutely’ Support Two-State Solution: US Ambassador to UN

Donald Trump Says He Will Sign New 'Muslim Ban' Order Next Week

UN wants to negotiate with US, Canada to resettle Rohingya refugees

Anti-Muslim groups 'tripled in US since Trump campaign'

Muslims and Canadians get a wake-up call

Muslim immigrant in US fosters terminally ill children

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South Asia

Pakistan Army Summons Afghan Diplomats, Demand Actions against 76 Terrorists

Pakistan Closes Routes with Afghanistan after Deadly Attacks

Myanmar reopens border gate with Bangladesh as peace restores

Myanmar military ends crackdown against Rohingya

Wider support for Rohingya terrorists hints at further attacks

Around 120 militants killed so far in ongoing month in Nangarahr: Officials

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Europe

Do Your Bit to Combat Terror, London Met Chief Tells Muslim Scholars

Tennessee Man Convicted Of Planning To Attack NY Mosque

Trump denies campaign had pre-election contact with Russia

Hundreds of migrants enter Spain from Morocco: officials

US under pressure on Syria ahead of Geneva talks

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Mideast

Turkey Steps Up Scrutiny on Muslim Migrants From Russia

Turkey Clearing Syria’s Al-Bab of Remaining ISIS Militants

Recordings by Egyptian warships prove Houthi militants blocking aid

Iran, Oman, Kuwait share will for amity: Ministry spokesman

Astana summit aimed at facilitating intra-Syrian dialogue: Iran

US stance on two-state solution worrying: French FM

US embassy relocation would be explosive for Mideast: AL

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Southeast Asia

China Holds 'Anti-Terrorism' Mass Rally in Xinjiang's Uighur Heartland

Survey: 600,000 Indonesian Muslims Involved In Radicalism 

S Arabia says it has broken up four IS cells

4 linked to Islamic State cell in Sabah nabbed

Hardline Islamist group claims Hadi’s Bill to uphold ‘Allah’s law’ not Shariah-compliant

Indonesia seeks to reenergize trade with Saudi Arabia

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Africa

Tunisia Extends State Of Emergency Citing ‘Terror Threats’

Central African Republic: Rebel group 'killed 32 civilians'

Nigeria: Violence in Southern Kaduna Threatens to Undermine Democratic Stability

Somalia's new leader faces delicate balancing act

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau

URL: http://www.newageislam.com/islamic-world-news/new-age-islam-news-bureau/keep-masjid-free-from-politics,-w-b-shahi-imam-gets-revolt-from-muslims/d/110112

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Keep Masjid Free From Politics, W. B. Shahi Imam Gets Revolt from Muslims

February 16, 2017

KOLKATA: A hoarding put up near Tipu Sultan Mosque and over 100 shopkeepers close the shutters of their shops in and around the mosque for 24 hours on Wednesday in Kolkata. Why?

Because, the shopkeepers (Muslims) are fed up with the Shahi Imam Maulana Nurur Rehman Barkati’s outrageous behaviour of mixing politics and religion which is damaging the reputation of Muslims.

The Imam just to be in the news made inflammatory comments or issues immature obscure fatwas.

Anwar Ali, the mutawalli of the Tipu Sultan Masjid, told enewsroom, “He has the habit of calling press conferences within the mosque and giving his views as the Imam of this mosque. This is just not acceptable. He as the Imam should understand that he is only a religious leader, who’s job is merely to lead the namaz. He can’t make comments on behalf of the community.”

Ali added, “So, this time when he called a press conference to show his stand for a certain political party in Uttar Pradesh, I objected to it and that made his sons gets violent.”

The shutter goes down for shops near Tipu Sultan Mosque

The community people therefore united against the Imam, who is not entitled to give make any statements on behalf of the community and should not use mosque for political purpose.

A member of the Shopkeeper’s Welfare Association of the Tipu Sultan Mosque said, “Whatever he has to say he can say but not as the Imam of this mosque. Why does he has to announce it in a way that to the world it appears as if he is representing us. His opinion is never ours. His comments often have a communal tinge and are very inflammatory. We can’t let him do what he wills; it is high time that he gets the message of keeping politics away from the mosque.”

http://www.siasat.com/news/keep-masjid-free-politics-wb-shahi-imam-gets-revolt-muslims-1133227/

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Fall of ISIS? Jihadis 'close Sharia courts and evacuate HQ’ as armed forces batter city

By Nicole Stinson

17th February 2017

Terror leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi has reportedly been “seriously injured” in recent airstrikes by coalition forces.

A further 14 ISIS militants were killed in another airstrike on the western Mosul yesterday, according to a security source.

Now a local source close to Mosul reveals the jihadi leaders have started to evacuate their headquarters in their so-called Iraqi capital.

The source said: “The Islamic State [ISIS] closed the remaining Sharia courts in western Mosul, and started to evacuate its alternative headquarters immediately.

“The authority of Sharia Courts was transferred to the field’s Emirs [Islamic rulers], with the approaching offensive in western Mosul.”

It comes as US army chiefs reveal they expect to wipe out ISIS this year after they are push the terror groups from their strongholds in Mosul and Raqqa.

Under ISIS’ Sharia law offences such as theft, playing music or being suspected of homosexuality attract brutal penalties.

One man accused of being thief had his hand chopped off by the merciless jihadis, while a young girl bled to death after she bitten with a metal jaw weapon for walking outside her home without a man.

Soldiers suspected of being from coalition forces were burned alive after they were captured by the the murderous regime.

Sick ISIS thugs also photographed the moment they threw a blindfolded prisoner off a rooftop to his death “for being gay”.

Chilling footage from inside an ISIS courtroom revealed prisoners were held like animals in cramped cages.

http://www.dailystar.co.uk/news/latest-news/589067/end-of-ISIS-terror-group-evacuate-Mosul-headquarters-Sharia-courts-al-Baghdadi-injured

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In Mosul orphanage, Islamic State groomed child soldiers

February 17, 2017

MOSUL: When the boys first arrived at the Islamic State training facility in eastern Mosul they would cry and ask about their parents, who went missing when the militants rampaged through northern Iraq in 2014.

But as the weeks passed they appeared to absorb the group’s ultra-hardline ideology, according to a worker at the former orphanage where they were housed.

The children, aged from three to 16 and mostly Shi’ite Muslims or minority Yazidis, began referring to their own families as apostates after they were schooled in Sunni Islam by the militant fighters, he said.

The boys were separated from the girls and infants, undergoing indoctrination and training to become “cubs of the caliphate – a network of child informers and fighters used by the jihadists to support their military operations.

The complex in Mosul’s Zuhur district, which had been home to local orphans until they were kicked out by Islamic State, was one of several sites the jihadists used across the city.

It is now shuttered, its doors sealed with padlocks by Iraqi security forces.

Islamic State withdrew before Iraqi forces launched a US-backed offensive in October to retake the city, but during a Reuters visit last month there were still reminders of the group’s attempt to brainwash dozens of children.

A saying attributed to the Prophet Mohammed is painted in black on one wall, urging children to learn to swim, shoot and ride horses. Inside the building is a swimming pool, now dry and full of rubbish.

‘A’ for apple, ‘B’ for bomb

In another room sits a stack of textbooks Islamic State had amended to fit its brutal ethos.

Arithmetic problems in a fourth grade maths book use imagery of warfare, while the cover bears a rifle made up of equations. History books focus exclusively on the early years of Islam and emphasise martial events.

Another textbook entitled “English for the Islamic State” includes ordinary words like apple and ant beside army, bomb and sniper. Martyr, spy and mortar also appear alongside zebra crossing, yawn, and X-box.

The word “woman” is depicted by a formless black figure wearing the full niqab covering. All faces in the books – even those of animals – are blurred, in keeping with an Islamic proscription against such images.

The orphanage worker, who was cowed into staying on after the militants took over in 2014, said girls who were brought to the centre were often married off to the group’s commanders.

The man asked not to be named for fear of reprisals by Islamic State, which still controls the entire western half of Mosul. He was shot in the leg during recent clashes.

He said the militants, mostly Iraqis, taught the Shi’ite children how to pray in the tradition of Sunni Islam and forced the Yazidis to convert.

They memorised the Koran, were taught to treat outsiders as infidels and conducted physical exercise in the yard, which has since grown over.

Old enough to fight

A pair of colourful plastic slides and swing sets now sit untouched amid shattered glass, casings from a grenade launcher and a suicide bomber’s charred remains – signs of the militants’ fierce resistance as they retreated late last year.

Reuters could not independently verify the orphanage worker’s comments. But local residents gave similar accounts, and Islamic State has published numerous videos showing how it trains young fighters and even makes them execute prisoners.

New batches of children arrived at the Zuhur orphanage every few weeks from outside Mosul, including a few from neighbouring Syria, while older boys were sent to the town of Tel Afar west of Mosul for intensive military training for duties including with Islamic State’s courts or vice squad, residents said.

“After six months at the camps, some of the boys came back to spend a weekend with their younger brothers. They were wearing uniforms and carrying weapons,” the orphanage worker said, fingering black and yellow prayer beads.

One of the boys, Mohammed, was killed last summer during the battle in the city of Falluja, west of Baghdad, he said, recounting how the other children wept upon learning the news.

A few weeks before the Mosul offensive began, Islamic State cancelled lessons and sent the boys to guard an airfield near Tel Afar which pro-government forces later seized, he said.

“I told them, ‘If you see the army, drop your weapons and tell them you are orphans. Maybe they will spare your lives'”.

http://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/world/2017/02/17/in-mosul-orphanage-islamic-state-groomed-child-soldiers/

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Over 25 killed in crackdown after attack on Lal Shahbaz Qalandar shrine

ALI AKBAR

February 17, 2017

A nationwide security crackdown was launched Friday, officials said, after a bomb ripped through a crowded shrine of Lal Shahbaz Qalandar in Sehwan, killing at least 70 people including 20 children and wounding hundreds.

The militant Islamic State group (IS) claimed the attack, which came after a series of bloody extremist assaults this week.

“Both the federal and provincial law enforcement authorities and police started a crackdown across the country before dawn, and scores of suspects have been arrested from different cities,” a government official speaking on condition of anonymity told AFP.

He said the sweeping operation will continue for the coming days.

A statement from the paramilitary Rangers said at least 18 terrorists had been killed in operations in Sindh overnight, while police officials said 11 more had been killed in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

Three alleged terrorists were killed during a search and strike operation in Reggi area of Peshawar. According to officials, weapons and hand-grenades were also recovered from the militants.

Security sources said four terrorists were killed in an exchange of fire with security forces after they attempted to attack a security check-post in Orakzai Agency. Four more were killed in Bannu during an exchange of fire.

Police cordoned off the shrine of Lal Shahbaz Qalandar, a revered 13th century Muslim saint, early Friday, as forensic investigators arrived.

Lack of medical facilities

The popular shrine's white floor was still smeared with blood, with scattered debris including shoes, shawls, and baby bottles. At least 20 children are believed to be among the dead, the head of Sehwan's medical facility Moeenuddin Siddiqui said.

At 3:30am the shrine's caretaker stood among the carnage and defiantly rang its bell, a daily ritual that he vowed to continue, telling AFP he will “not bow down to terrorists”.

The Sindh government announced three days of mourning as Pakistanis vented their grief and fury on social media, bemoaning the lack of medical facilities to help the wounded, with the nearest main hospital some 130 kilometres from the shrine.

The medical facilities in Sehwan are basic, and many of the injured were flown to Karachi and other major cities of Sindh in military planes and helicopters.

Pakistan had seen a dramatic improvement in security in the past two years, but multiple attacks this week have undermined the growing sense of optimism.

Condemnations pour in

Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf Chairman Imran Khan condemned the suicide blast and said he was shocked and saddened on the terrorist attack which targeted innocent people, including women and children.

Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan also strongly condemned the blast at Sehwan. He expressed deep sorrow over the loss of precious lives and sympathised with the bereaved families.

Chairman PPP Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari said the terrorist attack on the shrine in Sehwan was the worst form of terrorism aimed at ripping apart the Sufi fabric of unity and peace.

"This was an attack on our culture, history and civilisation. Every single individual of this land will fight against the terrorists and uproot this menace, said the PPP scion adding that the perpetrators will be brought to justice.

Resurgence in terror attacks

Pakistan seems to be experiencing a fresh resurgence in terror attacks.

The bombing at Qalandar's shrine was the tenth militant attack over the past five days in the country. The fresh wave of terrorism started with an attack on a DSNG van of Samaa TV in Karachi on Sunday, leaving a media worker dead.

The next day saw a suicide attack in Lahore, killing 13 people, including two senior police officers. On the same day, a Bomb Disposal Squad commander and a policeman were killed while defusing a bomb in Quetta and two security personnel lost their lives when their vehicle hit a landmine in South Waziristan.

On Wednesday, four suicide bombers blew themselves up in Peshawar, Mohmand Agency and Charsadda in an attempt to target security forces and members of the judiciary.

On Thursday, three soldiers were killed in a bomb attack in Awaran area of Balochistan, and four policemen and a civilian were killed in an attack on a police van in Dera Ismail Khan.

http://www.dawn.com/news/1315329/over-25-killed-in-crackdown-after-attack-on-lal-shahbaz-qalandar-shrine

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We ‘Absolutely’ Support Two-State Solution: US Ambassador To UN

17 February 2017

The United States “absolutely” supports a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict but is thinking of new ways to push for a peace deal, US Ambassador Nikki Haley said Thursday.

It would be an “error” to say the United States is abandoning its decades-old policy of backing a Palestinian state as part of a final settlement, she told reporters. “We absolutely support a two-state solution, but we are thinking out-of-the-box as well,” Haley said following a Security Council meeting on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

She repeated her statement three times in response to questions from journalists outside the council chamber. The United States wants to help bring the Israelis and Palestinians “at the table to have them talk through this in a fresh way, to say ‘okay we’re going back to the drawing board: what can we agree on?” she said.

The council earlier heard the UN envoy for the Middle East peace process, Nickolay Mladenov, insist that the two-state solution remains “the only way” to meet the aspirations of the Palestinians and Israelis. Trump announced Wednesday that the United States would not insist on a two-state solution to the conflict, stepping back from previous US policy and the international consensus on the peace process. Haley accused the United Nations of having an anti-Israel bias.

Describing her first council meeting on the Middle East as “a bit strange,” she said there was no mention of rockets fired by Hezbollah militants or the threat from Iran, but that discussions had focused on “criticizing Israel, the one true democracy in the Middle East.”

The US ambassador again described as a “terrible mistake” a council resolution adopted in the final weeks of former president Barack Obama’s administration demanding an end to Israeli settlement building on occupied Palestinian territory.

Germany: More settlements may end two-state solution

Germany’s foreign minister on Thursday warned that building more Israeli settlements in the Palestinian territories could end the prospect of a two-state solution and fuel conflict in the region.

“We are concerned that unlimited construction of settlements will ... make a two-state solution impossible and could increase the risks of conflicts in the Middle East, including possible war,” Sigmar Gabriel told reporters, showing Berlin’s growing frustration about settlement activity in the Israeli-occupied West Bank.

Also read: Trump adds nuance to pro-Israel approach ahead of Netanyahu visit

A vote by the Israeli Knesset to “legalize” settlements banned under international law further complicated the situation, Gabriel said during a news conference at a G20 foreign ministers meeting. French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault told reporters after a meeting with US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson that the US position on the Israeli-Palestinian dossier was “very confused and worrying”.

Gabriel said Germany would continue to advocate a two-state solution for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, calling it “the only realistic option to reduce conflict in the region and prevent the emergency of a new war”. Germany’s concerns about settlements have already derailed a meeting planned between the German and Israeli governments in May, with one senior German official saying ties between the two countries had been “completely pared back.”

(With Reuters inputs)

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2017/02/17/US-absolutely-supports-two-state-solution-US-ambassador-to-UN.html

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India

 

'Al-Qaeda using US preoccupation with Islamic State to spread to India'

February 16, 2017

Washington: Al-Qaeda has used America's "preoccupation" with the Islamic State to regain strength in South Asia and preparing to spread its ideology in India from its "home" in western Pakistan, top US lawmakers have warned.

"Al-Qaida has never changed, and it still sees itself in what it conceives as an existential struggle against the West and against the United States in particular," Bruce Hoffman, Director Center for Security Studies at Georgetown University, told members of the House Armed Services Committee.

"I think that it's taken advantage of our preoccupation with ISIS to rebuild its strength, particularly in South Asia, where, again, almost completely escaped notice when they created al-Qaida in the Indian Subcontinent which was designed simultaneously to reinvigorate its presence in Afghanistan," he told Congressman Mac Thornberry, chairman of the committee.

During a Congressional hearing on terrorism and counter- terrorism strategies yesterday, Hoffman said al-Qaida "had been preparing to spread its ideology to India", which has the world's second-largest Muslim population.

"We already see its effectiveness in Bangladesh and in Burma (Myanmar)," he said.

"But elements like the Khorasan group are an elite forward deployed special operations unit that is waiting for the proper time to take the struggle to the West and to the United States," Hoffman said.

Michael Sheehan from the Combating Terrorism Center, West Point, told lawmakers in response to a question that the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) of Pakistan is the "home" of al-Qaida central, which is traditionally America's biggest strategic threat.

"They're the ones that blew up our embassies in Africa, at least an African arm of that, blew up the Cole in - in Yemen, an arm of the al-Qaida central and are the people that are responsible for 9/11. They reside in Pakistan. Some of them are floating back in Afghanistan but it's difficult for them to operate in Afghanistan because we own the terrain around Afghanistan," Sheehan said.

"In Pakistan, in Western Pakistan, it's interesting. We haven't had soldiers there in over 10 years, yet we continue to diminish and degrade the capability of al-Qaida central to reach us strategically. I worry about this all the time, that without that presence there and the Pakistani army isn't in there very often either. Once in a while they come rumbling through, but that's not really that effective," Sheehan said.

"That they're there in those mountainous regions and what's interesting is we need Afghanistan almost as much as a base to attack the FATA than we need Afghanistan itself. Afghanistan has no strategic importance to the United States. However, the importance is that al-Qaida is there and blew up the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. We can't allow that to come back again," Sheehan said.

"They are in Western Pakistan and for a variety of political reasons we can't put troops on the ground there so we've had to come up with a solution to diminish AQ in Pakistan without one soldier on the ground. So sometimes you have to come up with solutions with no troops on the ground.

"Other times if you have the ability to send 100,000 there it doesn't mean you should. So it's a matter of finding the right solution commensurate with the threat," Sheehan said.

http://zeenews.india.com/india/al-qaeda-using-us-preoccupation-with-islamic-state-to-spread-to-india_1977830.html

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Karachi hub of anti-India jihadists supported by Pakistan army: Report

Neeraj Chauhan

Feb 17, 2017

NEW DELHI:The Pakistan port city of Karachi is a hub of anti-India jihadist groups and criminals who often enjoy the support of the Pakistani army, says a report released by the Brussels-based think tank, International Crisis Group.

The report says terrorist groups like Lashkar-e-Taiba, its parent organisation Jamaat-ud-Dawa, Maulana Masood Azhar led Jaish-e-Mohammad and anti-Shia group Lashkar-e-Jhangvi have "umbilical links with Karachi's large, well-resourced madrassas".

It says Pakistan's most dangerous groups actively contest Karachi's turf and resources. These outfits operate madrassas and charity fronts with no hindrance from Pakistani law enforcement authorities.

ICG's report titled "Pakistan: Stoking the fire in Karachi", talks about how ethnic, political and sectarian rivalries and a jihadist influx are turning the largest and wealthiest city of Pakistan, into a pressure cooker. It says that during a crackdown on jihadists and criminal gangs, Pakistan Rangers have spared many areas in Karachi and its outskirts of the city, known as the redoubts of "good" jihadists like LeT-JuD and Jaish-e-Mohammed.

"There are pockets all along the Super Highway of 'good Taliban'", ICG quoted a senior Sindh ruling PPP (Pakistan People's Party) member.

Quoting elected representatives, senior officials, journalists, civil society activists and sources from the ground, ICG report states that while many jihadist masterminds had fled Karachi by September 2013, anticipating the Rangers' operation, they may have now returned emboldened by lack of action. On the role of these groups when India-Pakistan tensions are running high, ICG quoted a retired senior provincial official of Pakistan, who said, "Any time Pakistan-India or Kashmir tensions flare, these groups mobilise in the heart of the city...You can't treat (LeT and Jaish-e-Mohammed) as your friends in one part of the country and your enemies elsewhere."

Full report at:

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/karachi-hub-of-anti-india-jihadists-supported-by-pakistan-army-report/articleshow/57195402.cms

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Kairana Not A Hindu-Muslim Issue, Don't Know Meaning Of Love Jihad: Home Minister

16 Feb 2017

After the two phases of Assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh, where the Western part of the state voted for 140 seats, the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) seems to have changed its agenda. 

During the campaigns for two phases in the region which has sensitive areas like Muzaffarnagar, Dadri and Kairana, BJP leaders vociferously raised the issue of “love jihad” and “exodus.”  Now the polling is over, the tone seems to have changed. 

Home Minister Rajnath Singh, one of the tallest leaders of the BJP from the state, today said he does not recognise alleged migration in Kairana as a Hindu-Muslim issue and showed ignorance for the term “love jihad”. 

“I do not see this (migration) as a Hindu-Muslim issue. Some so-called secular parties spread hatred in the name of Hindu and Muslim to gain votes. But we believe that no party should do politics in the name of caste and religion but should instead do politics over humanity and justice,” Rajnath said speaking to India TV. 

Speaking on the Kairana issue, the former Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister said, “Whether it’s Hindu or Muslim, it is the responsibility of the government to stop migration if it involves Indian citizens. Government should take this as a challenge.”  

When asked to react on BJP MP Yogi Adityanath’s remarks comparing situation in Kairana with that of Kashmir in 1990s, Rajnath said he did not agree with it. 

Full report at:

http://www.indiatvnews.com/politics/national-kairana-not-a-hindu-muslim-issue-don-t-know-meaning-of-love-jihad-rajnath-singh-369204

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India: Rohingya and Bangladeshis Living in Jammu Fear Expulsion

2017-02-16

Anxiety is growing among thousands of Rohingya refugees and Bangladeshi migrants who live in Indian Kashmir’s Jammu city over calls by mainstream political parties, including India’s ruling Hindu nationalist BJP, to kick them out and even deport them.

In early February the Jammu and Kashmir National Panthers Party (JKNPP), a local rightwing political outfit, began erecting billboards across Jammu asking the more than 13,000 Muslims from Bangladesh and Myanmar who reside in temporary shelters on the outskirts of town to leave immediately.

“Wake up, Jammu,” reads the headline on one of the billboards. “Rohingya, Bangladeshis quit Jammu. Let us all Jammuites unite to save history, culture and identity of Dogras,” it adds.

Dogras, an Indo-Aryan ethno-linguistic group, is believed to be the earliest group of settlers in Jammu, the only city in the Muslim-majority state of Jammu and Kashmir with a Hindu-majority.

“There is a deep sense of insecurity among all of us ever since we heard of these billboards,” said Mohammad Sadiq, 40, a Rohingya refugee who landed in Jammu several years ago. He said he fled from Buddhist-majority Myanmar following a wave of attacks in the western Rakhine state against Rohingya Muslims.

“We are not staying here out of our own free will. We are here so we can live without fear of being persecuted or worse, killed. Government forces in Myanmar routinely rape our women and kill members of our community and even burn down entire villages,” Sadiq, a daily wage laborer living in a makeshift hut in the Narwal area of Jammu, told BenarNews, an RFA-affiliated online news service.

A military crackdown in Rakhine in recent months has caused at least 66,000 Rohingya to flee across the border to southeastern Bangladesh. Newly arrived Rohingya refugees have reported witnessing cases of killings, rapes and acts of arson carried out by Burmese security forces against their people – allegations that Myanmar’s government has denied.

The government of Myanmar does not recognize Sadiq and the other refugees as citizens. Officials in that country often refer to them as “Bengalis.”

In India, the Rohingya are among more than 200,000 foreigners who have fled to India from conflicts in other countries. However, India has no legal framework that recognizes or protects them as refugees.

“We are hated in our country. They don’t want us there. We fear we would be subjected to torture and humiliation if we were forced to return,” said Sadiq, who lives with his wife and three children.

“Our lives aren’t that great here, either. We live in small huts and are barely able to make ends meet. But at least we have some dignity here. I beg the Indian government to let us continue living here,” he said.

Court ruling being violated: JKNPP

Some 10,600 Rohingya live in India, including nearly 6,700 in Jammu, according to figures from the Bureau of Immigration. No figures are available to determine the number of Bangladeshi migrants in the region.

Providing shelter to refugees in Jammu and Kashmir is in violation of a 2016 Supreme Court ruling, JKNPP founding member Bhim Singh told BenarNews.

“The Supreme Court last year passed a verdict that refugees cannot be settled in Jammu and Kashmir, which is mostly forested land. Despite this ruling, the state government has facilitated their settlement and allowed them to avail benefits like electricity and water,” Singh said.

“By raising these billboards, the JKNPP has exposed the double standards of the state’s incumbent coalition government,” Singh added, referring to the People’s Democratic Party (PDP)-BJP coalition in power in Jammu and Kashmir.

A BJP official said he backed demands to evict Bangladeshis and Rohingya from Jammu.

“These migrants have illegally entered our territory and continue staying here illegally. They must be deported to their native countries at the earliest as the state’s constitution does not allow them to stay in any part of Jammu and Kashmir,” BJP’s Ramesh Arora told BenarNews.

Full report at:

http://www.rfa.org/english/news/myanmar/india-rohingya-02162017160204.html

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Constitution Bench to Decide Petitions on Triple Talaq: Supreme Court

February 16, 2017

A five-judge constitution bench would be set up by the Supreme Court to hear and decide on a batch of petitions relating to the practice of triple talaq, ‘nikah halala’ and polygamy among Muslims. A bench headed by Chief Justice J S Khehar took on record three sets of issues framed by parties with regard to the cases and said the questions for consideration of the constitution bench would be decided on March 30.

The bench, also comprising Justices N V Ramana and D V Chandrachud, said “the issues are very important. These issues cannot be scuttled”.

Referring to the legal issues framed by the Centre, it said all of them relate to the constitutional issues and needed to be dealt by a larger bench.

The bench asked the parties concerned to file their respective written submissions, running not beyond 15 pages, by the next date of hearing, besides the common paper book of case laws to be relied upon by them during the hearing to avoid duplicity.

When a woman lawyer referred to the fate of the apex court judgement in the famous Shah Bano case, the bench said “there are always two sides in a case. We have been deciding cases for last 40 years. We have to go by the law and we would not go beyond the law.”

The bench also made it clear that it is willing to sit on Saturdays and Sundays to decide on the issue as it was very important.

During the last hearing, the apex court had said it would decide the issues pertaining to ‘legal’ aspects of the practices of triple talaq, ‘nikah halala’ and polygamy among Muslims but not deal with the question whether divorce under Muslim law needs to be supervised by courts as it fell under the legislative domain.

‘Nikah halala’ means a man cannot remarry a woman after triple talaq unless she has already consummated her marriage with another man and then her new husband dies or divorces her.

The bench headed by the CJI had said “You (lawyers for parties) sit together and finalise the issues to be deliberated upon by us.”

The bench had made it clear to the parties concerned that it would not deal with the factual aspects of the particular case and would rather decide the legal issue.

The apex court had said that the question whether divorce under Muslim Personal Law needed to be supervised by either courts or by a court-supervised institutional arbitration fell under the legislative domain.

It, however, allowed lawyers to file small synopsis of cases pertaining to alleged victims of triple talaq.

Full report at:

http://indianexpress.com/article/india/constitution-bench-to-decide-petitions-on-triple-talaq-supreme-court/

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Emotional Speeches Won’t Eradicate Economic Backwardness of Muslims – Conress Leader

February 17, 2017

Hyderabad: Congress Leader of Opposition in Telangana Council, Mr. Mohammed Ali Shabbir told that positive steps were taken during Congress regime for the welfare of Muslims. He was addressing a large meeting of Muslim leaders at his residence yesterday. These leaders had called on Mr. Shabbir to greet him on the occasion of his birthday.

Full report at:

http://www.siasat.com/news/emotional-speeches-wont-eradicate-economic-backwardness-muslims-shabbir-1133428/

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Arab World

 

Takfiris Kill 160-Plus Free Syrian Army Militants in Syria: Intelligence Group

Feb 17, 2017

A Takfiri terrorist outfit has killed hundreds of the foreign-backed Free Syrian Army (FSA) militant group in Syria, a US-based intelligence group says.

The SITE Intelligence Group reported the Jund al-Aqsa terrorists had taken the FSA militants prisoner during attacks against their gatherings in the northwestern Syria Idlib Province.

The attacks, it said, had come in response to the FSA’s dispatch of representatives to talks with the Syrian government in the Kazakh capital of Astana. The talks strive towards a political solution to the deadly crisis gripping Syria since 2011.

Militants from the foreign-backed Free Syrian Army militant group sit inside an armored vehicle near the town of Bizaah northeast of the city of al-Bab in northwestern Syria. (Photo by AFP)

SITE was citing Abdul Hakim al-Rahmon, the head of the political arm of Jaish al-Nasr, an FSA faction. He confirmed that 70 militants from the group were executed eight days ago, vowing to attack in response.

More than 160 FSA militants were killed in total, plus another 43 from Tahrir al-Sham which includes the former al-Qaeda branch in Syria, Jabhat Fateh al-Sham. “They were all liquidated at the same time,” he said.

Fighting between Jund al-Aqsa and Tahrir al-Sham has flared in the past week, in clashes that war monitors say have killed dozens. Those clashes have added to the complexity of Takfiri infighting in the west of the country.

Both Tahrir al-Sham and Jund al-Aqsa are also fighting against FSA militant factions who have been foreign-backed. Takfiri groups attacked the FSA for sending delegates to peace talks in Kazakhstan last month.

Many of those FSA groups are now fighting under the banner of the Ahrar al-Sham militant outfit.

http://www.presstv.ir/Detail/2017/02/17/510905/Syria-Idlib-SITE-Intelligence-Group-Free-Syrian-Army-Jund-alAqsa

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Nearly 200 Terrorists Killed by Army in Hama

Feb 16, 2017

Al-Watan newspaper reported that Ahrar al-Sham and Faylaq al-Sham terrorist groups stationed in Kafar Zita in Northwestern Hama had plotted to attack the army positions in Reef al-Hamawi (outskirts of Hama) but were surprised by the Syrian troops' preemptive strike.

Over 87 militants were killed and more than 160 others were wounded, reports said, adding that the terrorists also lost several military vehicles, a bomb-laden car and an arms truck in the attack.

Also, in the Northern outskirts of Hama, the Syrian fighter jets pounded the terrorists' positions and moves North of Murak area, killing 109 terrorists and injuring over 200 others.

Army reports said over 11 military vehicles and two cars carrying the militants were also smashed in the raid.

Also, on Tuesday night, Syrian army troops ambushed a truck of al-Nusra Front as it was transferring a large cache of weapons from Northern Hama to the Eastern territories of the same province.

Full report at:

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13951128000814

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ISIL Executing Fugitive, Defeated Commanders in Deir Ezzur

Feb 16, 2017

According to al-Watan newspaper, the Syrian fighter jets continued military operations in Deir Ezzur against the ISIL positions in al-Maqaber region, killing several terrorists and smashing their military vehicles.

Meantime, the Syrian army's artillery units pounded the ISIL bases in al-Baqiliyeh village in West of Deir Ezzur and inflicted losses and injuries on the militants.

On Wednesday, the Syrian army troops targeted ISIL's positions and movements in the Western and Southern outskirts of Deir Ezzur city, inflicting major losses on the terrorists.

The army’s artillery units destroyed ISIL's positions in al-Baqaliyeh in the Western outskirts of Deir Ezzur city, inflicting heavy losses on the terrorists.

In the meantime, the army units and popular forces continued to clash with ISIL terrorists in different parts of al-Maqaber, inflicting heavy casualties on the terrorists and destroying their positions.

Full report at:

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13951128000556

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Baghdad Car Bomb Claimed By Islamic State Kills 51

February 17, 2017

BAGHDAD - A car packed with explosives blew up on Thursday in southern Baghdad, killing at least 51 people and wounding 55, security and medical sources said, in the deadliest such attack in Iraq this year.

Islamic State, which is on the defensive after losing control of eastern Mosul to a US-backed Iraqi military offensive, claimed responsibility for the bombing in an online statement.

As it cedes territory captured in a 2014 offensive across northern and western Iraq, the ultra-hardline group has stepped up insurgent strikes on government areas, particularly in the capital Baghdad.

Security sources said the vehicle which blew up on Thursday was parked in a crowded street full of garages and used car dealers, in Hayy al-Shurta, a Shi'ite district in the southwest of the city. The death toll could climb further as many of the wounded are in critical condition, a doctor said. The bombing is the second to hit car markets this week, suggesting the group has found it easier to leave vehicles laden with explosives in places where hundreds of other vehicles are parked.

The Amaq propaganda agency linked to the Islamic State group (IS), which has claimed nearly all such attacks recently, reported the blast and described it as targeting "a gathering of Shias".

Full report at:

http://nation.com.pk/international/17-Feb-2017/baghdad-car-bomb-kills-51

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24 civilians killed in bombing on Syria town: monitor

February 17, 2017

BEIRUT: Turkish bombardment of an ISIS-held town in Syria has killed 24 civilians, a monitor said Thursday, but Turkey's army said only "terrorists" died in the operation.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the dead in air strikes and shelling on the town of Al-Bab in the last 24 hours included 11 children.

Turkey's army, quoted by the state-run Anadolu news agency said it had killed 15 "terrorists" in air strikes, artillery fire and clashes.

Al-Bab is ISIS's final stronghold in the northern Syrian province of Aleppo and has come under fierce attack by Turkish forces and allied Syrian rebels in recent months.

The joint force entered Al-Bab over the weekend, and Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said Tuesday that the town had "largely been taken under control."

The Observatory however said Turkish forces had made little progress since entering the town from the west.

Turkey began military operations in Syria in August, targeting both ISIS and Kurdish fighters.

Full report at:

http://nation.com.pk/international/16-Feb-2017/24-civilians-killed-in-bombing-on-syria-town-monitor

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Al-Nusra Attack against Dara'a Repelled, 45 Terrorists, Commanders Killed

Feb 16, 2017

The Syrian army units clashed with a group affiliated to al-Nusra terrorists who sought to occupy a residential complex in al-Manshiyeh district and warded off their offensive.

A military source said that during the operations codenamed 'Almot Wa La al-Mazellah (Death and Not Humiliation)', the Syrian troops killed over 45 terrorists, including several commanders.

He added that clashes in al-Manshiyeh have decreased now.

On Wednesday, the Syrian army troops continued to target the positions and movements of Al-Nusra Front and other terrorist groups in different parts of Dara'a city and province, killing at least 24 militants and wounding 50 others.

The army men targeted al-Nusra Front's concentration centers in the neighborhood al-Nazeheen, a number of towns near Dara'a city, and village of Koum al-Raman, South of al-Qariyeh al-Qarbi, Southwest of al-Yadoudeh and the Shahab Hill, leaving over 24 terrorists dead and 50 others wounded.

Full report at:

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13951128000788

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Assad says Trump travel ban targets terrorists, not Syria's people

February 17, 2017

Syria's President Bashar al-Assad said President Donald Trump's ban on Syrians entering the United States targeted terrorists, not the Syrian people, appearing to defend the logic of the measure in an interview broadcast on Thursday.

Trump last month issued an executive order, since suspended by a US district judge, that temporarily barred travellers from seven mostly Muslim countries including Syria, as well as imposing an indefinite ban on all Syrian refugees.

"It's against the terrorists that would infiltrate some of the immigrants to the West. And that happened. It happened in Europe, mainly in Germany," Assad said in the interview with Europe 1 radio and TF1 television which was recorded on Tuesday in English.

"I think the aim of Trump is to prevent those people from coming." It was "not against the Syrian people", he said.

Trump said his order, which triggered protests at home and abroad and confusion at US and international airports, was intended to prevent militants from entering the United States. His administration is challenging the suspension ruling, which was upheld last week by appeal court judges.

Full report at:

http://www.dawn.com/news/1315126/assad-says-trump-travel-ban-targets-terrorists-not-syrias-people

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Arab League chief says Mideast peace requires two-state solution

17-Feb-17

CAIRO: Arab League chief Ahmed Abul Gheit said on Thursday resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict would require a two-state solution, a day after Washington signalled it would drop that demand.

Abul Gheit affirmed that the conflict "requires a comprehensive and just peace based on a two-state solution with an independent Palestinian state," a statement said after he met UN chief Antonio Guterres in Cairo.

Full report at:

http://dailytimes.com.pk/world/17-Feb-17/arab-league-chief-says-mideast-peace-requires-two-state-solution

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Saudi Arabia optimistic about overcoming Mideast challenges

February 17, 2017

BONN, Germany -  Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubeir said on Thursday he was optimistic about overcoming the many challenges facing the Middle East and looked forward to working with the administration of US President Donald Trump.

On Wednesday, Trump dropped Washington’s commitment to the eventual creation of a Palestinian state, a key pillar of US Middle East policy through successive administrations.

After meeting his US counterpart Rex Tillerson, Jubeir declined to comment directly on that decision, which added to European concerns about how Trump’s “America First” message might reshape US foreign policy.

A senior French diplomat said Trump’s remarks, made alongside Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, “made no sense.”

“We look forward to working with the Trump administration on all issues in the region,” Jubeir said. “We are very, very optimistic about our ability to overcome the many challenges we face in the region.”

Tillerson and Jubeir are in Bonn to attend a meeting of the G20 top industrialised countries.

Trump also promised to work towards a peace deal between Israel and Palestinians and said it would require compromise on both sides.

Last week the US ambassador to the United Nations said UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres’ choice of former Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad as the UN envoy to Libya showed the organisation was biased against Israel.

Full report at:

http://nation.com.pk/international/17-Feb-2017/saudi-arabia-optimistic-about-overcoming-mideast-challenges

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US used depleted uranium rounds in anti-ISIS air strikes: military

17 February 2017

The United States used depleted uranium anti-tank rounds on two occasions in 2015 during devastating air strikes against convoys of ISIS tanker trucks, the Pentagon said Thursday.

The military prizes depleted uranium munitions for their armor-piercing capabilities as well as for protective armor for tanks and vehicles. But they have been criticized for posing health risks to soldiers who use them and being potentially toxic to surrounding civilian populations.

The United Nations Environment Program has described them as “chemically and radiologically toxic heavy metal.” A by-product of uranium enrichment, depleted uranium “is mildly radioactive, with about 60 percent of the activity of natural uranium,” it says.

Also read: Pentagon may recommend US deploy troops in Syria

A military spokesman said A-10 attack aircraft used depleted uranium rounds on November 16 and 22, 2015 in attacks on tanker trucks carrying oil for the ISIS militants. The operations destroyed hundreds of trucks. A total of 5,265 depleted uranium rounds were fired in combination with other incendiary rounds, US Central Command spokesman Major Josh Jacques said.

The combination of armor-penetrating and high explosive incendiary munitions was used “to ensure a higher probability of destruction of the truck fleet ISIS was using to transport its illicit oil,” he said. “We will continue to look at all options during operational planning to defeat ISIS, this includes DU rounds,” he added.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2017/02/17/US-used-depleted-uranium-rounds-in-anti-ISIS-air-strikes-military-.html

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After invading Syria, does Hezbollah threaten Israel or Turkish-Saudi interests?

16 February 2017

When the Shiite group’s fighters first poured into Syria to fight the mostly Sunni rebels, many observers expected Hezbollah to be worn down and its reputation as the pre-eminent anti-Israel force to be tarnished as it was dragged into a sectarian conflict.

Instead, Hezbollah, closely allied to Iran, looks set to emerge more powerful than before — one of the big winners of Syria’s war, according to a Financial Times report.

“They set an unpopular policy in Syria, even for their own constituents, and steamrollered it through; they set off on military expeditions far outside their borders and were successful,” says an Israeli security consultant who asked not to be named. “They did a 180-degree shift from a guerrilla force to an invading force.”

The report added that The threat Hezbollah poses to US interests could stretch beyond Israel. Growing ties between Hezbollah and Iranian-backed paramilitaries in Iraq, known as the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF), has in effect created a roving force that may seek to continue wielding power in the region. That could have ramifications for Sunni states and US allies, such as Saudi Arabia, seeking to curb Iran’s influence.

ANALYSIS: US wrong to ignore Hezbollah in Syria

“Will they continue to operate outside of Lebanon in tandem with pro-Iranian forces that may be used to pressure other governments in the region? Whether it is Turkey, Saudi Arabia or Jordan,” Wael Alzayat, a former adviser to Samantha Power when she was US ambassador to the UN says. “Because that’s where I think we’re heading: the PMF, Hezbollah and the Syrian regime continue to try to work with the IRGC [Iranian Revolutionary Guard] to maintain their influence, all the way from really the Iranian border to Lebanon.”

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2017/02/16/After-invading-Syria-does-Hezbollah-threaten-Israel-or-Turkish-Saudi-interests-.html

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Saudi Arabia dismantles four ISIS cells, arrests 18 individuals

16 February 2017

Saudi Arabia has dismantled at least four Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) cells made up of 18 individuals inside the kingdom, officials from the interior ministry confirmed.

Fifteen of those arrested were Saudi nationals while the remaining three were from Yemen and Sudan, the ministry said in statements made on Thursday.

The ministry also said that ISIS cells in Saudi Arabia have spread to Mecca, Medina, Riyadh and Qassim regions of the country.

In addition, nearly two million riyals were confiscated from the cells upon arrest.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/gulf/2017/02/16/Saudi-Arabia-dismantles-four-ISIS-cells-arrests-18-individuals.html

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CIS Official Warns of ISIL Terrorists' Tendency to Return Home

Feb 16, 2017

"The number of extremists who are interested in entering Iraq and Syria has decreased and the ISIL terrorists are seeking ways to return to their homelands," Novikov said on the sidelines of the 10th conference of the heads of CIS anti-terror centers in Moscow on Wednesday.

He said that the information has been confirmed by several anti-terrorism organizations so far.

The conference was attended by representatives of all special services and law-enforcement agencies of the CIS states - Azerbaijan, Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.

Reports said last June that militants recruits from Western nations are escaping Syria and seeking help from their governments to get home.

Western media cited diplomats as saying that ISIL Western recruits have been increasingly contacting their governments, and that some of them even turned up at diplomatic missions in Turkey.

Full report at:

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13951128000451

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Pakistan

 

Six Jamaat-ul-Ahrar ‘militants’ shot dead

17-Feb-17

MULTAN: The Counter-Terrorism Department (CTD) of the Punjab Police raided a militant hideout and killed six suspected members of the proscribed Jamaat-ul-Ahrar, the group that has launched a new campaign of violence in the country, police said on Thursday.

The CTD said its officers surrounded a hideout of the Jamaat-ul-Ahrar, a breakaway faction of the banned Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), in Multan late on Wednesday and ordered the suspects inside to surrender. "But the terrorists started firing at the raiding party and threw explosives," a spokesman for the department, who the unit does not identify for security reasons, said in a statement. Six militants were killed while three or four escaped under cover of darkness, the department added.

http://dailytimes.com.pk/punjab/17-Feb-17/six-jamaat-ul-ahrar-militants-shot-dead

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Resetting ties: Pakistan may appoint new India envoy

Sachin Parashar

Feb 17, 2017

NEW DELHI: India and Pakistan are likely to press the reset button in bilateral relations with Islamabad looking to appoint a new high commissioner to India, top diplomatic sources said.

Pakistan's high commissioner to India Abdul Basit will complete three years here next month and he has been recalled in yet another sign that Pakistan PM Nawaz Sharif is in complete control of foreign policy.

"Pakistan will announce the name of the new high commissioner in a few days," said a diplomatic source on condition of anonymity.

One of the names being considered is that of Sohail Mahmood, a career diplomat of 1985 batch. He has earlier served in Washington, New York and Ankara. Basit was said to be a certainty for the position of Pakistan's foreign secretary but was pipped by Tehmina Janjua, Pakistan's permanent representative to the UN in Geneva.

Janjua is said to be the choice of Pakistan PM Nawaz Sharif. The fact that Basit was seen as taking a hawkish position on most contentious issues with India is said to have gone against him in Islamabad's choice of foreign secretary.

Sharif in the past few months, or more specifically since the retirement of former army chief Raheel Sharif, has been keen to reach out to India. This has reflected in some of the steps taken by his government, including the release of Indian fishermen in December on his birthday and later also in the release again of an Indian soldier who was said to have "inadvertently" crossed over into Pakistan territory the day India carried out its surgical strikes across LoC.

Full report at:

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/resetting-ties-pakistan-may-appoint-new-india-envoy/articleshow/57195719.cms

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Two FC personnel injured in 'terrorist attack' on Pak-Afghan border

NAVEED SIDDIQUI

February 17, 2017

Two personnel of the Frontier Corps (FC) were injured on Friday when suspected militants attacked a post along the Pak-Afghan border in Khyber Agency, the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) said.

Troops "effectively responded" to the attack carried out by militants from the Afghan side of the border, the statement said.

According to the ISPR, there are reports of a "few" militants killed in the ensuing exchange of fire.

In the aftermath of the blast at the shrine of Lal Shahbaz Qalandar that killed over 70 people and injured 250 others on Thursday night, the government decided to seal Torkham border crossing with Afghanistan for an indefinite period for all kinds of communication due to security concerns.

Pakistan seems to be experiencing a fresh resurgence in terror attacks.

Earlier on Thursday, before the attack on devotees at the shrine of Lal Shahbaz Qalandar, an explosive device had targeted an Army convoy in the Awaran area of Balochistan, killing three soldiers.

On Feb 15, a suicide bomber struck in Mohmand, killing three personnel of the Khasadar force and five civilians. The attack was claimed by Tehreek-i-Taliban (TTP)

The same day, a suicide bomber rammed his motorcycle into a vehicle carrying judges in Peshawar's Hayatabad Phase 5 area, killing the driver and injuring its four other occupants. The attack was claimed by the TTP too.

On Feb 13, a suicide bomber had struck a protest on Lahore's Charing Cross interchange, killing 13 and injuring 85. The attack had happened right outside the gates of Punjab's Provincial Assembly.

Full report at:

http://www.dawn.com/news/1315313/two-fc-personnel-injured-in-terrorist-attack-on-pak-afghan-border

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Two FC personnel injured in 'terrorist attack' on Pak-Afghan border

NAVEED SIDDIQUI

February 17, 2017

Two personnel of the Frontier Corps (FC) were injured on Friday when suspected militants attacked a post along the Pak-Afghan border in Khyber Agency, the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) said.

Troops "effectively responded" to the attack carried out by militants from the Afghan side of the border, the statement said.

According to the ISPR, there are reports of a "few" militants killed in the ensuing exchange of fire.

In the aftermath of the blast at the shrine of Lal Shahbaz Qalandar that killed over 70 people and injured 250 others on Thursday night, the government decided to seal Torkham border crossing with Afghanistan for an indefinite period for all kinds of communication due to security concerns.

Pakistan seems to be experiencing a fresh resurgence in terror attacks.

Earlier on Thursday, before the attack on devotees at the shrine of Lal Shahbaz Qalandar, an explosive device had targeted an Army convoy in the Awaran area of Balochistan, killing three soldiers.

On Feb 15, a suicide bomber struck in Mohmand, killing three personnel of the Khasadar force and five civilians. The attack was claimed by Tehreek-i-Taliban (TTP)

The same day, a suicide bomber rammed his motorcycle into a vehicle carrying judges in Peshawar's Hayatabad Phase 5 area, killing the driver and injuring its four other occupants. The attack was claimed by the TTP too.

On Feb 13, a suicide bomber had struck a protest on Lahore's Charing Cross interchange, killing 13 and injuring 85. The attack had happened right outside the gates of Punjab's Provincial Assembly.

Full report at:

http://www.dawn.com/news/1315313/two-fc-personnel-injured-in-terrorist-attack-on-pak-afghan-border

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Taliban entered Pakistan as migrants on condition they would disavow militancy: Aizaz Chaudhry

WAJIHA KHANAIN

February 17, 2017

The newly-appointed ambassador to the United States, Aizaz Chaudhry, on Thursday said that the Taliban had entered Pakistan as migrants, who had been told to steer clear of militant activities if they wanted to stay in the country.

Chaudhry, whose career as a foreign service officer spans over 36 years of multilateral and bilateral experience, was speaking at a seminar at the Air University Islamabad on matters of national security.

"We will not tolerate that the Taliban operate from here to carry out terror attacks across the border. The unrest in Afghanistan will not be allowed to infiltrate into Pakistan," Chaudhry said, when asked for a comment on the supposed distinction between "the good and the bad" Taliban.

The newly-appointed ambassador to the US said that the state wants Afghanistan and Taliban to enter dialogue.

"Billions of dollars have been spent on establishing peace in Afghanistan, but to no avail," Chaudhry added, saying that terrorism from Afghanistan is now spreading into Pakistan where elements are trying to destabilise the country and sabotage major events like the Pakistan Super League.

"We will not be pressurised by this so-called 'Do more' ideology being pushed on us. We're working on full capacity to counter terrorism and we will continue with our efforts in full force," he added.

Chaudhry also said that Pakistan is under threat from the militant Islamic State (IS) group, which may head to the country as the Syrian conflict nears an end.

Full report at:

http://www.dawn.com/news/1315134/taliban-entered-pakistan-as-migrants-on-condition-they-would-disavow-militancy-aizaz-chaudhry

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Four policemen among five killed in Dera Ismail Khan

February 17, 2017

Four policemen and a passerby were killed on Thursday when their vehicle was attacked by unidentified assailants in Mission Mor area of Dera Ismail Khan, said rescue official.

The van was stationed at a filling station as part of its normal patrol duty when it was attacked by unidentified attackers, said District Emergency Officer Imran Khan.

The victims were identified as Assistant Sub-Inspector Rehmatullah, Constable Iqbal, Constable Irshad and a passerby Fazal. The driver of the vehicle sustained serious bullet wounds and was rushed to hospital by rescue officials, but he later succumbed to his injuries during treatment.

Full report at:

http://www.dawn.com/news/1315155/four-policemen-among-five-killed-in-dera-ismail-khan

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Jamaat-ul-Ahrar operating from Afghanistan: Pakistan

17-Feb-17

ISLAMABAD: Foreign Office (FO) Spokesperson Nafees Zakaria has said that Jamaat-ul-Ahrar - a banned militant outfit - is launching terrorist attacks in Pakistan from sanctuaries in Afghanistan.

He said that Afghan government had been asked to take action against the banned outfit.

Responding to a question regarding Pak-Afghan border management, he said that both countries should address "cancers" regarding the border management. "There is a dire need to take strict measures for better Pak-Afghan border management," said the spokesperson in a weekly media briefing here on Thursday.

Zakaria said Pakistan was aware of Indian plans to sabotage the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project. "Even Kulbhushan Yadav, an arrested Indian spy, had admitted to making attempts to sabotage the CPEC."

Referring to India's defence build-up, he said massive purchase of weapons by India could lead to instability in the region. He said that Pakistan had repeatedly lodged protests with India in this regard.

He added that India's continued atrocities against defenceless Kashmiris in Held Kashmir (IKH) were highly condemnable and the international community should call India to account for its crimes against humanity. "Indian forces are repeatedly violating ceasefire violations on the Line of Control (LoC) and the Working Boundary (WB) to divert the world's attention from the genocide and grave human rights violations against defenceless Kashmiris in the occupied valley." When his attention was drawn towards Held Kashmir's Chief Minister Mahbooba Mufti's demand for opening Kargil-Ladakh Road and Siachen for tourism, he said, "Since I had not read the statement, I can't comment on the issue." He, however, said, "Elections in IHK are sham elections, and the government over there is also a sham government, which is in violation of those UNSC resolutions that clearly state that such elections in IHK cannot be a substitute to the plebiscite promised to the Kashmiri people under UN resolutions." To another question, Zakaria said that the figure of 39,000 Pakistanis reportedly deported from Kingdom of Saudi Arabia was exaggerated by media. "Pakistan is in contact with Saudi authorities. Those repatriated to Pakistan were involved in violation of local laws," he maintained.

Full report at:

http://dailytimes.com.pk/islamabad/17-Feb-17/jamaat-ul-ahrar-operating-from-afghanistan-pakistan

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North America

 

Donald Trump says he will sign new 'Muslim ban' order next week

February 17, 2017

The Justice Department will not fight for Donald Trump's Muslim ban executive order which was struck down by a federal court - the President will file a revised travel ban instead.

Mr Trump said the new order would be "tailored" to the federal court decision in Washington state, which struck down the original order eight days after it was signed.

He did not provide any more details about how the ban would differ to the first one.

"The only problem we had [with the order] was a bad court which gave us what I consider, with all respect, to be a very bad decision," he said.

After 27 January, when the travel ban was signed, nearly all travellers from seven Muslim-majority countries were temporarily halted from coming to the US and Syrian refugees were suspended indefinitely.

Confusion was caused in these countries as well as in Mexico and Canada. Visa and green card holders, as well as dual citizens, were caught up in the ban. His unelected chief strategist, Steve Bannon, was reportedly behind the ban and had overruled members of the Department of Homeland Security who objected to certain aspects.

Judge James Robart struck down the order nationwide, and Mr Trump's emergency appeal was denied.

The President had threatened to take the case to the Supreme Court, but the Justice Department has decided to revise the original order and re-file it.

The President said he signed the original order to fight terrorism, yet nobody from these seven countries killed a single American in US soil as part of a terrorist attack since 2001.

He was also asked about the immigration programme for lone children refugees, called the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals programme.

"It's a very tough subject. We have to deal with Daca with heart," he said.

"The Daca situation is a very difficult thing to me. I love these kids. I have kids, grandkids. I find it doing very hard what the law says I have to do."

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/donald-trump-new-travel-muslim-ban-executive-order-next-week-justice-department-a7584541.html

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UN wants to negotiate with US, Canada to resettle Rohingya refugees

Feb 16, 2017

MYANMAR: The United Nations' refugee agency has asked Bangladesh to allow it to negotiate with the United States, Canada and some European countries to resettle around 1,000 Rohingya Muslims living in the South Asian nation, a senior official at the agency said.

Tens of thousands of Rohingya live in Bangladesh after fleeing Buddhist-majority Myanmar since the early 1990s, and their number has been swelled by an estimated 69,000 escaping an army crackdown in northern Rakhine State in recent months.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) would push for resettlement of those most in need, despite growing resistance in some developed countries, particularly the United States under President Donald Trump, UNHCR's Bangladesh representative, Shinji Kubo, told Reuters on Thursday.

"UNHCR will continue to work with the authorities concerned, including in the United States," Kubo said. "Regardless of the change in government or government

policies, I think UNHCR has a clear responsibility to pursue a protection-oriented resettlement programme."

Kubo said 1,000 Rohingya refugees had been identified as priorities for resettlement on medical grounds or because they have been separated from their family members living abroad.

"Resettlement will always be a challenging thing because only a small number of resettlement opportunities are being allocated by the international community at the moment," Kubo said in an interview. "But it's our job to try to consult with respective countries based on the protection and humanitarian needs of these individuals."

H T Imam, a political adviser to Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, said the resettlement proposal was "unrealistic" due to reluctance in the United States and Europe to take further Muslim refugees.

Reuters reported this month that officials at an Australian immigration centre in Papua New Guinea were increasing pressure on asylum seekers to return to their home countries voluntarily, including offering large sums of money, amid fears a deal for the United States to take refugees had fallen through.

Full report at:

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/south-asia/un-wants-to-negotiate-with-us-canada-to-resettle-rohingya-refugees/articleshow/57189625.cms

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Anti-Muslim groups 'tripled in US since Trump campaign'

February 17, 2017

The number of anti-Muslim hate groups in the US has nearly tripled since Donald Trump launched his presidential election campaign in 2015, according to a non-profit organisation that "combats hate, intolerance and discrimination through education and litigation".

The Montgomery, Alabama, based Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) said in a report on Wednesday that the number of organisations opposing Muslims "leaped" from 34 in 2015 to 101 last year, as the total number of various hate groups remained at "near-historic highs, rising from 892 in 2015 to 917 last year".

The SPLC also noted that FBI statistics showed that the rate of hate crimes against Muslims rose by 67 percent in 2015, when Trump, who used his election campaign to call for a travel ban against Muslims among other policies targeting ethnic and religious minority groups, became a popular political figure.

"The growth [of hate groups] has been accompanied by a rash of crimes targeting Muslims, including an arson that destroyed a mosque in Victoria, Texas, just hours after the Trump administration announced an executive order suspending travel from some predominantly Muslim countries."

"Without a doubt, Trump appealed to garden-variety racists, xenophobes, religious bigots and misogynists - people not necessarily in any hate or related kind of group, but who still were antagonistic towards multiculturalism," the report said.

In November last year, the SPLC released a report saying that the US saw a "national outbreak" of hate incidents following Trump's presidential election.

Full report at:

http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2017/02/anti-muslim-groups-tripled-trump-campaign-170216153335713.html

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Muslims and Canadians get a wake-up call

Feb 17, 2017

It was an emotional roller coaster. The brutal massacre of six Muslims in a mosque in Quebec and the wounding of several others traumatized Canadian Muslims. But the overwhelming solidarity they received from Canadian authorities and from people throughout the country reinforced their faith in Canada and elated them.

Canadians hear about such tragedies in other countries but see their country as a haven that attracts people from all over the world seeking safety, justice, freedom and opportunities. So the attack on innocent worshippers was shocking.

Following 9/11, there was a mass gathering near Parliament that was addressed by the prime minister and the US ambassador. A hundred thousand people attended. A friend who saw me said he was surprised. “Are you not afraid,” my white friend asked. This is Canada, I responded, I feel no fear.

I was perhaps complacent. Polls show that some 10 percent of Canada’s population is racist. Canada has a racist past and the Aboriginal people continue to suffer from its venom. But this also shows that 90 percent of Canadians are not racist.

After 50 years in Canada, I cannot think of any country whose people are as friendly and helpful.

But polls show that a majority of Canadians view Muslims and Islam unfavorably – such people have never met Muslims. They are influenced by Islamophobia in Canada, which is partly fuelled by horrible news from overseas.

Former prime minister Stephen Harper termed “radical Islam” a threat to Canada and said some immigrants were rejecting Canadian values because a few covered their faces and many wore head coverings. Christian nuns also cover their heads and Mormons practise polygamy in British Columbia. Similarly, a thousand Aboriginal women have gone missing or have been murdered in the last few years. Aboriginal women face murders, rape, incest and/or assaults. But Christians are not blamed, while Muslims and Islam are blamed for the actions of a few.

Quebec politicians and parts of the media throughout Canada have fanned Islamophobia. Muslims have been attacked and insulted; mosques have been defaced.

But consider that some 604 murders took place in 2015, and crimes against property are also not rare. One in five Canadians suffers from mental illness or depression.

Canada is not perfect, but is arguably the world’s best country in how it treats its citizens and outsiders. It accepts refugees from all countries where they fear persecution. It provides them allowances and medical coverage. Its refugee and immigration policies make no distinction on grounds of race, religion or ethnicity. It has accepted some 40,000 Syrian refugees though it is thousands of miles from Syria and could have easily ignored their suffering.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has visited mosques and speaks glowingly about Canadian Muslims. He attended the funeral of the murdered Muslims. So did Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard, who praised Muslims’ contributions and warned that hateful words are poisonous. Neil MacDonald of Canadian Broadcasting Corporation said that most terrorist attacks in Canada have been carried out by white Christians; no Muslim have been involved. Ottawa Citizen wrote an editorial in support, saying: “We are all Muslims.”

Average Canadians flooded Muslim organizations with messages of support, left flowers at mosques, attended vigils and formed huge lines outside mosques with banners portraying the Canadian flag and proclaiming, United We Stand.

The Quebec City killer was one individual who admired right-wing politicians, opposed non-white immigration to Canada, and had himself suffered from bullying. This is cold comfort to the families of the slain Muslims. But it is reassuring that there is no mass movement against immigrants or Muslims and that Canadian authorities and Canadians overwhelmingly reject racism and value Muslims as fellow countrymen.

Still, the murders send a chilling message to Muslims and to Canadian authorities, the media and politicians. Muslims have built mosques but have not paid much attention – except in rare cases – to meeting the community’s needs, especially the youth, some of whom are drifting to crime, alcoholism, drugs and extremism. If one deranged Muslim kills innocent people the entire community will suffer.

Nor are Muslim organizations working together and seriously studying the challenges they face and how to meet them. Each organization goes its own way and feels that praying in mosques and arranging religious lectures are all that the community needs. Never mind the mentally ill, the disturbed youth, the elderly and others in distress.

In many cases these organizations have only made token efforts to build relationships with churches and synagogues. Now they have begun to work together a bit more, but still have a long way to go.

Full report at:

http://saudigazette.com.sa/opinion/muslims-canadians-get-wake-call/

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Muslim immigrant in US fosters terminally ill children

17 February 2017

Mohammad Bzeek's bravery is nothing short of incredible. A widowed immigrant has spent the past twenty years looking after terminally ill children.

For now he is spending his days and nights caring for a bedridden 6-year-old foster girl with a rare brain defect. Blind and deaf she has daily seizures and arms and legs are paralyzed.

Bzeek, a quiet, devout Libyan-born Muslim who lives in Azusa, just wants her to know she’s not alone in this life.

“I know she can’t hear, can’t see, but I always talk to her,” he said speaking to the LA times “I’m always holding her, playing with her, touching her. … She has feelings. She has a soul. She’s a human being.”

There is a shortage in the foster system for people like Mohammad Bzeek and up till now he has been the only one to fill the void.

“If anyone ever calls us and says, ‘This kid needs to go home on hospice,’ there’s only one name we think of,” said Melissa Testerman, a DCFS intake coordinator who finds placements for sick children. “He’s the only one that would take a child who would possibly not make it.”

“These kids, it’s a life sentence for them,” he said. 

Bzeek, 62, is a portly man with a long, dark beard and a soft voice. The oldest of 10 children, he came to this country from Libya as a college student in 1978.

Some years later through a mutual friend, he met a woman named Dawn, who he married. She had become a foster parent in the early 1980s, before she met husband. Inspired by her grandparents and before she met Bzeek, she had opened her home as an emergency shelter for foster children who needed immediate placement or who were placed in protective custody. Stress caused friction in the marriage and they split in 2013 - she died a year later after she had become very ill, with seizures leaving her weak for days after.

“The key is, you have to love them like your own,” Bzeek said recently. “I know they are sick. I know they are going to die. I do my best as a human being and leave the rest to God.”

Full report at:

http://www.worldbulletin.net/america-canada/184943/muslim-immigrant-in-us-fosters-terminally-ill-children

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South Asia

 

Pakistan army summons Afghan diplomats, demand actions against 76 terrorists

Fri Feb 17 2017

The Pakistani military has reportedly summoned some of the Afghan diplomats following a series of deadly attacks across Pakistan, claiming that 76 terrorists are involved in the attacks using the Afghan soil.

“Afg Embassy officials called in GHQ. Given list of 76 Ts hiding in Afg. Asked to take immediate action / be handed over to Pakistan,” DG ISPR Major General Asif Ghafoor said in a Twitter post.

Earlier, the Pakistani military announced that the routes linking the two countries along the Durand Line have been closed after the attacks.

Gen. Ghafoor said “Pakistan-Afghanistan Border closed with immediate effects till further orders due to security reasons.”

The incident at Sehwan city of Sindh took place on Thursday evening as hundreds of people had gathered for a ritual.

According to the Pakistani government officials, at least 70 people, including women and children were killed in the attack.

The officials further added that nearly 150 others were also wounded in the attack and the health condition of the majority of them has been reported as critical.

The latest remarks by the Pakistani military claiming that the militants are using the Afghan soil for attacks against Pakistan came as the Afghan officials have long been asking Pakistan for coordinated actions against the militant groups using the Pakistani soil for attacks on Afghanistan.

The Afghan officials are saying that the leadership councils of Taliban and the notorious Haqqani terrorist network are based in Peshawar and Quetta cities of Pakistan from where they plan and coordinate attacks in Afghanistan.

http://www.khaama.com/pakistan-army-summons-afghan-diplomats-demand-actions-against-76-terrorists-02906

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Pakistan closes routes with Afghanistan after deadly attacks

Feb 17 2017

Pakistan has closed all routes along the Durand Line with Afghanistan following a series of deadly attacks across the country.

The Pakistani military officials announced the closure of the routes late on Thursday night after a deadly suicide attack ripped through a shrine in Sindh province.

Director General of the Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR), the media wing of Pakistani military, Major General Asif Ghafoor, informed regarding the decision by the Pakistani military.

In a tweet post on Thursday, Gen. Ghafoor said “Pakistan-Afghanistan Border is closed with immediate effects till further orders due to security reasons.”

The incident at Sehwan city of Sindh took place on Thursday evening as hundreds of people had gathered for a ritual.

According to the Pakistani government officials, at least 70 people, including women and children were killed in the attack.

The officials further added that nearly 150 others were also wounded in the attack and the health condition of the majority of them has been reported as critical.

Full report at:

http://www.khaama.com/pakistan-closes-routes-with-afghanistan-after-deadly-attacks-02905

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Myanmar reopens border gate with Bangladesh as peace restores

17 February 2017

Myanmar has reopened No. 1 border gate with Bangladesh which was temporarily closed following terrorist attacks on some three border posts on Oct. 9 last year, according to the State Counselor's Office Thursday.

The border gate was reopened for entry and departure in Maungtaw, Rakhine state in the weekend due to restoration of peace and stability in the region after Myanmar negotiated with Bangladesh.

The surprise coordinated attacks by violent armed men on three border posts in Maungtaw on Oct. 9 last year prompted the then closure of all border gates with Bangladesh for more than four months, resulting in financial hardship for local traders.

Myanmar's Rakhine Violence Investigation Commission, which was formed on Dec. 1 and led by First Vice President U Myint Swe to probe into the background on the violent attacks, has so far inspected Maungtaw's attacked areas for four times to find out the truth.

The armed men's attack on three border posts, namely Kyikanpyi in Maungtaw, Kotankauk in Buthedaung and Ngakhuya Office, had killed five soldiers and eight policemen .

In the latest development, Myanmar's Sittway district court has handed out death sentence to one of the 14 captured armed men who violently attacked the three border outposts in Maungtaw.

Uruma, also named Mammud Nu and Ular, who is charged with leading a raid on the border outpost in Kotankauk of Rathedaung and killing one police officer and injuring two others, is the first so punished in connection with the incident.

The remaining 13 culprits are still under investigation.

Full report at:

http://www.mizzima.com/news-domestic/myanmar-reopens-border-gate-bangladesh-peace-restores

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Myanmar military ends crackdown against Rohingya

16.02.2017

Myanmar's military has ended its counterinsurgency operations in the troubled Rakhine State, government officials said on Thursday.

The announcement ends a four-month military sweep that the United Nations has warned amounts to crimes against humanity and possible ethnic cleansing against Muslim Rohingya minorities.

The military operation in the Bangladeshi border region began in early October after insurgents killed nine police officers. Since then, the UN estimated that more than 1,000 Rohingya Muslims have been killed, around 70,000 have fled across the border into Bangladesh, and another 20,000 are believed to be internally displaced.

In a statement issued by the office of State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi, Myanmar's newly appointed national security advisor, Thaung Tan, was quoted of saying that the situation in the country's western region "is now stabilized."

"The clearance operations by the military have ceased, the curfew has been eased and there remains only a police presence to maintain the peace," Tan said.

Damning UN allegations

The government has so far denied reports of abuses. However, a UN reports published this month details harrowing instances of mass killings and sexual assault, based on accounts from refugees and escapees. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said on Tuesday that he "was horrified" by the reports of sexual abuses carried out by security forces.

"We have shown that we are ready to act when there is clear evidence of abuses," Tun said in the statement.

Police to remain in Rakhine

A spokesman for the office of President Htin Kyaw announced in a separate statement Thursday that police forces would remain stationed in the region for security reasons.

"Halting the military operation doesn't really mean we won't have our security forces there," he said.

Amid growing international outcry and pressure on Nobel laureate Suu Kyi's civilian government, Myanmar has tasked a state-backed security commission to investigate the allegations.

The state-backed probe raises doubts over impartiality; a Myanmar presidential spokesman said the latest military figures estimated that fewer than 100 civilians had been killed in the counterinsurgency operation.

UN urges resettlement of Rohingya

The UN's refugee agency on Thursday said it has asked Bangladeshi authorities to allow it negotiate a resettlement deal with the United States, Canada and some European countries for around 1,000  Rohingya Muslims living in the South Asian nation.

The Bangladeshi representative for the UN's High Commissioner for Refugees, Shinji Kubo, said the agency would push for a deal despite growing resistance towards immigration from some developed countries, particularly the United States.

Kubo said that 1,000 Rohingya refugees had been identified as priorities for resettlement on medical grounds or because they had been separated from family.

Full report at:

http://www.dw.com/en/myanmar-military-ends-crackdown-against-rohingya/a-37583734

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Wider support for Rohingya terrorists hints at further attacks

February 17, 2017

The armed attacks on three border outposts by Rohingya militant group Harakah al-Yakin (Faith Movement, HaY) on October 9 and onwards came into light after the Myanmar military retaliated by launching a crackdown in Rakhine State in the name of clearing operations when innocent people were killed and raped, and their houses burnt to ashes.

Apart from the October 9 attacks, the militants carried out 11 additional strikes all over the infected areas killing seven members of the army and wounding three others, the Myanmar government claims.

In a video released on October 12, HaY spokesperson Ata Ullah or Ayatullah declared jihad against the Myanmar government. After two weeks, HaY issued a statement calling for international intervention to help Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar, and declared that its “people” will free themselves from “oppressors.”

The HaY group later released several videos in a desperate move to seek wide support from like-minded outfits. And they are apparently successful.

Also Read- Are terrorists infiltrating Rakhine state?

Under the circumstances, the armed Rohingya groups may launch further attacks on the Myanmar forces if the government does not take effective measures.

The Bangladesh government was initially tough towards the Rohingyas fleeing Myanmar, but later allowed around 70,000 to enter the country. The law enforcers also handed over two wanted members of the HaY group to the Myanmar authorities for investigation. Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has called for concerted efforts by world leaders to solve the growing Rohingya crisis.

Supports expressed quickly

Meanwhile, applauding HaY fighters for their “bravery,” regional and Middle East-based militant outfits including al-Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS), Taliban and Islamic State have urged the Muslim youths of Bangladesh and Myanmar to wage all-out war against the Myanmar forces.

Also Read- Myanmar to execute Rohingya man for attack on police post

Militant group al-Qaeda’s Bangladesh offshoot Ansar al-Islam has already extended support to HaY and asked the Rohingyas and the Muslim youths of Bangladesh to join the fight in a public statement issued on December 15.

They have opened several YouTube channels and Facebook accounts, and released some inciting videos using both fake and true contents, along with some recent contents released by the HaY group.

In late November, a pro-Islamic State Telegram channel suggested that Muslims in the United Kingdom who cannot go to Myanmar to help their brethren can attack the country’s embassy and ambassador at home.

The Salafist group has claimed 26 attacks, including the Gulshan restaurant attack, in Bangladesh since September 2015 killing 45 people, many of whom are Hindus. The IS last year warned that their members would attack India and Myanmar from its base in Bangladesh.

Also Read- Inside the Rakhine State insurgency

On November 30, jihadist activity monitoring website SITE Intelligence Group said that the Afghan Taliban had reiterated its call to Muslims as well as Islamic charitable organisations to take action in support of their brethren in Myanmar, and condemned what it sees as global silence to the ongoing “genocide.”

The regional and international terrorist outfits that have been instigating armed attacks in Myanmar since 2012 include al-Qaeda, AQIS, al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), Afghan Taliban, Islamic State, Shabaab al-Mujahideen Movement of Somalia, Turkistan Islamic Party (TIP), Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU), Iraq-based Ansar al-Islam, Lebanon-based Fatah al-Islam and Al-Faroq Media of Egypt.

After the October crackdown began, Bangladesh’s banned outfit Hizb ut-Tahrir has asked Bangladesh Army to take stand against Myanmar to avenge the persecution of the Rohingyas.

Two other banned outfits Harkat-ul Jihad al-Islami Bangladesh (HujiB) and Jama’atul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB), who have long been associated with the Rohingya militant groups, did not issue any statement.

Among Bangladesh’s Islamist parties and groups, Jamaat-e-Islami, Hefazat-e-Islam and Islami Andolon Bangladesh among others have been campaigning across the country rigorously to wage a strong movement against the oppression of Myanmar military. IAB of Chormonai Pir even announced a long-march towards Myanmar from Dhaka via Teknaf, a Cox’s Bazar upazila dominated by Rohingyas.

Also Read- ‘We will fight until the last drop of blood’

The Islamist groups – some of who were behind the rise of militant outfits – are also raising funds at mosques, madrasas, religious conferences (waz) and even on the streets to help the Rohingyas who have taken shelter in Bangladesh.

Meanwhile, indigenous rebel groups in Myanmar’s north along China have also launched armed attacks on the military, putting the civilian government of Aung San Suu Kyi under huge pressure as the threat of existing Rohingya-dominated militant outfits like RSO and Aqa Mul Mujahideen (AMM) are also active at the moment.

RSO, a brand

The RSO (Rohingya Solidarity Organisation) reportedly started regrouping in June 2012 after a communal riot broke in Rakhine and on June 8 the group declared Rakhine as an independent Islamic state. Later they beefed up activities in bordering Bandarban and Cox’s Bazar districts to collect fighters from among the Rohingya youths and the local militant groups and train them for the jihad.

According to detectives, all the militant groups of Bangladesh have been working in concert since late 2014 since their aim is the same – establishing an Islamic state incorporating parts of Bangladesh, Myanmar and India by 2020.

HaY-AMM connection

The little-known AMM group was blamed by the Myanmar government in a statement issued on the October 9 attacks and one of its leaders was named as Ata Ullah, a former refugee at a Rohingya camp in Bangladesh. The statement also added that he had remained missing since the attack on an Ansar outpost outside a refugee camp in Teknaf on May 12, 2016.

Also Read- Rohingyas get Malaysian aid

In several video messages released on YouTube after the attack, Ata Ullah – the alleged spokesperson of HaY – called for all-out war against the Myanmar government, but did not take responsibility.

The HaY second man recently took credit for the attacks that killed nine members of Myanmar Border Police During in an exclusive interview with the Dhaka Tribune. Its leaders said that they had retreated for now due to the military operations.

It could not be confirmed independently whether HaY and AMM were the same organisation. But according to Rapid Action Battalion, the 10 people they have arrested over the Ansar camp attack were Rohingyas.

Recent Rohingya-linked militant activities

RSO leaders, among others, were also behind the attacks on Buddhist localities and temples in Ramu in September 2012, police said. The mastermind of the attacks, Tofail Ahmed, also a Jamaat leader, had allegedly been under the shelter of the RSO after the attacks.

Full report at:

http://www.dhakatribune.com/world/2017/02/17/wider-support-rohingya-terrorists-hints-attacks/

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Around 120 militants killed so far in ongoing month in Nangarahr: Officials

Fri Feb 17

Around 120 militants have been killed in various parts of eastern Nangarhar province so far during the ongoing month, local security officials said.

The provincial police commandment’s security chief Syed Aqa Gul Rohani told reporters that the militants were killed during the special military operations, airstrikes, and direct clashes with the Afghan security forces.

Rohani further added that nearly 30 militants were also wounded and around 73 others were arrested during the same operations.

He said the Afghan forces also seized 22 weapons, 6, 959 various types of ammunition, 41 Improvised Explosive Device, and 31 hand grenades and pressure-plated mines.

According to Rohani, 4 new outposts have been established in Surkh Rod and Momand Dara districts in a bid to improve the security situation of the two districts.

He also added that the Afghan security forces confiscated 868 kg of Hashish and 495 kg of heroin which were bound for the smuggling.

Full report at:

http://www.khaama.com/around-120-militants-killed-so-far-in-ongoing-month-in-nangarahr-officials-02907

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Europe

 

Do Your Bit To Combat Terror, London Met Chief Tells Muslim Scholars

Fiona Hamilton, Crime & Security Editor

February 17 2017

Muslim scholars should do more to challenge the belief that Islam condones the violence carried out by the jihadists of Islamic State, Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe said.

Sir Bernard, the retiring Metropolitan Police commissioner, warned that more efforts were needed to counter the terrorist group’s violent ideology. At least 850 Britons have travelled to Syria and Iraq to fight for Isis, with at least half of them believed to have returned.

Sir Bernard, 59, told the London Evening Standard that Isis continued to lure recruits by using Islam as a justification for its actions. He said that Muslim scholars needed to challenge the false narrative.

He told the newspaper: “The hardest part for the western world is to interrupt this philosophy that Daesh [Islamic State] is perpetuating, which is that Islam in any way supports this horrific use of violence. There is no interpretation I would argue that could say that, but some people are getting away with that.

“Muslim scholars have got to come up and be really challenging of that and be very clear that this can never be acceptable. There is no interpretation that can ever conclude it’s OK to kill people. We can’t be at all sensitive to religious beliefs. We have all got to say that is wrong.”

Sir Bernard said last year that it was a matter of “when, not if” an attack inspired by Isis was carried out in Britain, after a string of atrocities in Europe. The terrorist threat remains severe.

The commissioner said that the “brutalised and militarised” extremists returning from fighting in Syria and Iraq posed a threat. They were “political criminals” who were carrying out “horrific violence” that had no justification in the Muslim religion.

“We are now seeing Daesh’s sphere of influence being reduced in Syria and Iraq and it looks as though it’s clear that they will lose and the other side will win,” he said. “Some of those people are going to come home and that’s the threat that’s hanging there.

“The ones who return in reasonable numbers will put more pressure on us and will go to the top of the priority list in terms of looking at, because they will be brutalised, militarised, have friends and a level of organisation that we don’t experience today.

“They are the ones that we most have to worry about and it’s hard to predict when.”

Sir Bernard, who has spent five and a half years at the helm of Britain’s biggest police force, retires on February 28. He plans to spend a month in Switzerland and the Middle East.

He claimed that he had “no regrets” about his leadership, which has endured a series of controversies, most notably the Operation Midland inquiry into false allegations of VIP abuse.

Full report at:

Source: http://www.thetimes.co.uk/edition/news/do-your-bit-to-combat-terror-met-chief-tells-muslim-scholars-csdn6hft9

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Tennessee man convicted of planning to attack NY mosque

17 February 2017

A federal jury Thursday convicted a Tennessee man of planning to attack a mosque in New York.

Media outlets report that 65-year-old Robert Doggart was found guilty of solicitation to commit a civil rights violation, solicitation to commit arson of a building and making a threat in interstate commerce.

The jury told U.S. District Judge Curtis Collier that it was deadlocked Wednesday. Collier didn't declare a mistrial and told jurors to return Thursday for more deliberations.

Prosecutors said Doggart stockpiled weapons and communicated with others about plans to attack a Muslim community called Islamberg. An FBI agent showed jurors an M-4 rifle seized from Doggart's home and prosecutors played a series of conversations Doggart had with a confidential informant in March 2015.

Doggart's attorneys argued that he never had a consistent plan in place, he was entrapped by a confidential informant and he only wanted to conduct reconnaissance on Islamberg.

Attorneys for Islamberg said Doggart was not charged with terrorism because the federal government doesn't have a "catch-all" law punishing domestic terrorists, the Chattanooga Times Free Press reported.

The attorneys said prosecutors used non-terrorism charges for Doggart's case because current statutes are largely aimed at foreign radical groups.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/world/2017/02/17/Tennessee-man-convicted-of-planning-to-attack-NY-mosque.html

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Trump denies campaign had pre-election contact with Russia

Feb 17, 2017

WASHINGTON DC, USA (UPDATED) – President Donald Trump insisted Thursday, February 16, that neither he nor his campaign team had contacts with Russian officials in the run-up to last year's US election, contradicting an explosive report which he blasted as "fake news."

Trump also defended Michael Flynn, the national security advisor whose resignation he demanded and received this week, saying Flynn "wasn't wrong" for holding pre-inauguration phone calls with the Russian ambassador about US sanctions policy.

Instead, Trump accused members of US intelligence agencies of breaking the law by leaking information about the calls.

The new president, in the midst of a turbulent week of back-and-forth accusations about contacts with Russia and his battle with the intelligence community, addressed the concerns during an extraordinary White House press conference.

Asked whether he or anyone on his staff had engaged in contacts with Russia prior to the election, Trump proclaimed: "No, nobody that I know of."

"I have nothing to do with Russia," Trump said. "The whole Russia thing is a ruse." (READ: Trump dodges questions as Russia scandal deepens)

It was a full-throated denunciation of a bombshell report by the New York Times which said intercepted calls and phone records show Trump aides were in repeated contact with Russian intelligence officials well before the US elections.

"It's all fake news," Trump said, unleashing verbal assaults on the media.

Trump stressed that the Times story centered instead on inappropriate action by US intelligence agencies, as he stepped up earlier Thursday attacks in which he vowed to catch "low-life leakers" of potentially classified information that led to the ouster of his national security advisor.

Jeopardy

"Those are criminal leaks" by people angry about Democrat Hillary Clinton's loss, he told reporters, as he revealed he has asked the Justice Department to investigate the disclosures.

"The people that gave out the information to the press should be ashamed of themselves."

The Washington Post meanwhile reported that current and former US officials said Flynn denied to FBI agents that he had discussed US sanctions on Russia with Moscow's ambassador.

Should it turn out that he discussed the sanctions, as Trump appears to believe he did, Flynn could be in legal jeopardy because lying to the FBI is a felony.

"What he did wasn't wrong," Trump stressed.

"I didn't direct him" to discuss sanctions with Russia's envoy, Trump added. "But I would have directed him because that's his job" to talk with foreign contacts.

Late Thursday Flynn's replacement was still undetermined after former navy admiral Robert Harward, who Trump had reportedly tapped for the job, declined it, US media said.

In his wide-ranging presser Trump defended his political agenda, and said that next week he will introduce an amended version of the much-criticized travel ban now caught up in court.

He also pledged that new trade deals were coming that would stop countries from "taking advantage of us," and said he would "show great heart" in dealing with undocumented immigrants who arrived as children and are protected from deportation.

But the crux of his remarks centered on Russia connections.

"I would love to be able to get along with Russia," he insisted. "It would be much easier for me to be tough on Russia, but then we're not going to make a deal."

The latest salvoes came amid reports that Trump plans to name New York billionaire Stephen Feinberg – who has no national security experience – to lead a sweeping review of US intelligence agencies, raising fears of a bid to curtail their independence.

Trump had pointed the finger at the National Security Agency, which conducts electronic surveillance, and the FBI, which handles counter-intelligence probes, as possible sources of the leaks.

The drumbeat of revelations has infuriated Democrats and alarmed Republican leaders, wary of Trump's overtures toward Russia.

"It is a cloud over the White House," said Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, who has called for in-depth investigations.

'Collusion?'

Amid mounting calls for more sweeping congressional investigations, one Democrat openly accused Trump's campaign of improper contacts with Russia.

"I believe there was collusion," House Democrat Maxine Waters told CNN, stressing that Trump's focus on the leaks was a distraction.

Trump's stance on leaks has flipped since last year's campaign when he proclaimed "I love WikiLeaks" – the organization that published hacked Clinton campaign emails.

He also dismissed as a "joke" his suggestion that Russia was behind the damaging leaks.

By January, US intelligence had concluded that those leaks were part of a wider campaign ordered by President Vladimir Putin to try to tilt the election in Trump's favor. Moscow denies any involvement.

Full report at:

http://www.rappler.com/world/regions/us-canada/161739-trump-denies-campaign-pre-election-contact-russia

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Hundreds of migrants enter Spain from Morocco: officials

17 February 2017

Hundreds of migrants stormed into Spain's North African territory of Ceuta from Morocco early Friday, the emergency services and police said, adding that some were injured in the process.

"The Civil Guard at Ceuta estimates that 500 people could have succeeded in entering the town," the emergency services said on Twitter.

The Civil Guard, or paramilitary police, meanwhile told AFP that "several hundreds" crossed over and many of them were hurt, as were members of the security forces.

The last such attempt took place on New Year's Day when more than 1,000 migrants tried to jump a high double fence between Morocco and Ceuta in a violent assault that saw one officer lose an eye.

The emergency services said on Twitter that the Spanish Red Cross extended assistance to some 400 people.

Ceuta and Melilla, another Spanish territory in North Africa, have the European Union's only land borders with Africa.

Full report at:

http://www.worldbulletin.net/europe/184948/hundreds-of-migrants-enter-spain-from-morocco-officials

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US under pressure on Syria ahead of Geneva talks

17 February 2017

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Friday faced a grilling by global peers seeking clarity on Washington's position on the Syria conflict ahead of UN peace talks in Geneva.

It is the first meeting of the so-called "like-minded" nations -- made up of around a dozen Western and Arab countries as well as Turkey -- since US President Donald Trump took office.

Tillerson, on his first diplomatic trip abroad, will face pressure to spell out where Trump stands on the future of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

"It will be an opportunity to gauge the American position on the political aspect of the Syrian issue," a French diplomatic source told AFP.

The meeting came ahead of a new round of United Nations-led talks in Geneva on February 23 involving Syrian regime and rebel representatives.

Under Trump's predecessor Barack Obama, Washington insisted Assad had to go, putting it at odds with Moscow which backs the Syrian leader.

Trump has called for closer cooperation with Moscow in the fight against the ISIL extremist group in Syria, leaving the Assad question open.

With Russia's sway in the conflict growing, Moscow has seized the initiative by hosting separate peace talks in Kazakhstan along with Turkey, to broker a fragile six-week truce between Syria's warring parties but making little other progress.

"It's essential to know what the US administration has in mind," a European diplomat said ahead of Friday's talks in the German city of Bonn.

"Our goal is to make sure to bring the (peace) process back under UN control," the source added.

German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel, host of the G20 meeting, said he wanted the "like-minded" countries to speak as one.

"What we need is unity so we can achieve the resumption of negotiations in Geneva between the different interest groups and parties to the Syrian conflict."

- 'Reassurance' -

Tillerson has used the two-day G20 to meet with a string of foreign counterparts unsure about what Trump's "America First" policy means for the rest of the world.

He moved to reassure nervous allies with a cautious approach to Russia, signalling there would be no radical shift despite Trump's pledges to seek a softer line.

Speaking after his first sitdown with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Thursday, Tillerson said the US sought cooperation with Moscow only when doing so "will benefit the American people".

Full report at:

http://www.worldbulletin.net/europe/184946/us-under-pressure-on-syria-ahead-of-geneva-talks

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Mideast

 

Turkey steps up scrutiny on Muslim migrants from Russia

 Feb 17, 2017

By Maria Tsvetkova and Humeyra Pamuk | ISTANBUL

Turkey has increased scrutiny of Russian-speaking Muslim communities in the past few months following a series of attacks blamed on Islamic State, a concrete example of the renewed relationship between the two countries.

Turkish police have raided the homes of Russian-speaking immigrants in Istanbul, detained many and expelled others, according to interviews with Russian Muslims living in the city. At least some of those targeted by Turkish authorities are known to be sympathetic to radical Islamist movements.

The security activity indicates that Russia and Turkey are sharing intelligence, part of a newly-forged alliance that has also seen Moscow and Ankara work together on a peace deal for Syria.

The cooperation comes as a resurgent Russia, already active in Ukraine and keen to boost its diplomatic influence in the Middle East, has been playing a greater role in Syria in the vacuum left by the United States under Barack Obama.

The roundups mark a change for Turkey, which has historically welcomed Muslims fleeing what they say is repression in countries including Russia, among them communities who fought government forces in Russia's North Caucasus.

"Around ten of my acquaintances are in jail now," said Magomed-Said Isayev, a Muslim from the Russian North Caucasus mountains, who moved to Istanbul three years ago.

He said for most of his time in Turkey he had no difficulties with the authorities. He said he had done nothing to harm Turkish citizens, but now he felt he was no longer safe from the threat of detention.

Turkey has been criticised by some Western allies for being too slow to stop the flow of foreign fighters crossing its borders to join Islamic State in Syria and Iraq in the early years of the jihadist group's rise.

Turkey has rejected such suggestions, saying it needed greater intelligence sharing from its allies in order to intercept would-be jihadists. It has tightened its borders and last August launched a military campaign in Syria to push Islamic State away from Turkish territory.

Several recent Islamic State attacks in Turkey have been blamed on Russian-speaking attackers.

After a gun-and-bomb attack on Istanbul's Ataturk airport that killed 45 people last June, police detained two suspects from the North Caucasus.

An Uzbek has been charged with a gun attack on an Istanbul nightclub on New Year's Day in which 39 people were killed.

"Before that, Turkey was very loyal to those who came from ex-Soviet countries," said Russian Muslim activist Abdul-Alim Makhsutov, who has lived in Istanbul for several years.

"We have a long-established tradition of moving to Turkey for religious reasons and to escape pressure. The terrorist attacks tarnished this reputation."

Turkey has provided sanctuary to Muslims from Russia since the 19th century, when the tsars conquered the mainly Muslim North Caucasus region. A new flow of migrants was prompted by two wars in Chechnya in the 1990s and 2000s, and a crackdown on Islamists in the south of Russia that continues today.

A Turkish security source said operations had increased following the recent attacks and that raids in areas where foreigners were living had shown that militants were living in and hiding among those communities.

"Our operations are not limited to specific parts of Istanbul but all across the city. It is about foreigners without the necessary paperwork, passport or ID. We fight crime wherever it may be," a Turkish police official told Reuters.

A Russian security official said Moscow has been sharing lists of suspicious Islamists with Ankara for two or three years, but Turkey has only started using the information in the wake of recent attacks, as it has become a clear target for jihadists.

Russia's foreign ministry and Federal Security Service did not respond to Reuters questions about intelligence-sharing with Turkey. A Turkish intelligence source said they were cooperating more with Russia but declined to give further details.

KIDS BEHIND BARS

One 25-year-old woman from Russia's Dagestan region, told Reuters she had lived openly in Turkey for three years. Until last October her family had experienced no problems, she said.

She said her family had bought property in Turkey and took care to renew their immigration documents, while her brother competed professionally for a Turkish wrestling team.

In October, masked policemen in flak jackets, conducting an anti-terror raid, smashed in the door of the family's apartment, the woman said.

She spoke to Reuters on condition of anonymity because, she said, she did not want to endanger members of her family. During the interview, she wore a black chador with only her face uncovered and broke off the conversation to pray.

The family, including women and four children, as well as a female neighbour and her children, were held for several days in a police station, she said.

At first, the police locked them in a room with bars on the windows but after a while police had to leave the door open "because the children often went to the toilet," the woman said.

The detainees were transferred to Istanbul police headquarters and after two weeks most of the women and children from her family, and the family of her neighbour, were released.

But she said her father, brother, sister-in-law and 10-month-old niece were still in detention. They had not been charged with any offence, the woman said, though Reuters was not able to independently verify that. Istanbul police said it could not comment on specific cases.

The Dagestani woman said that in detention she had been questioned about Islamic State, and whether her family was affiliated to it. She denied any links to the group.

Russians living in Turkey say that some detainees were told by the Turkish police that the action against them was based on information provided by Russia.

"I've heard they (Russian authorities) inform the Turks about two kinds of people, who may be involved in terrorist activities or have a shady reputation," said Ali Evteyev, a former Russian mufti and now an Istanbul resident.

He said that often there is no prosecution, but it is made clear to them they are no longer welcome. "The Turks just don't extend their residence permit. You have to go to jail and try to appeal, or leave."

http://www.reuters.com/article/russia-turkey-islamists-idUSKBN15V256

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Turkey clearing Syria’s al-Bab of remaining ISIS militants

17 February 2017

Turkey on Thursday said its armed forces were engaged in “clean-up” operations to clear remaining ISIS militants from the flashpoint Syrian town of al-Bab after a weeks-long campaign. The Turkish army, backing Syria rebels, have since December been engaged in fierce fighting to oust the militants from the town but Ankara now says Al-Bab is largely under its control.

“Al-Bab is now completely surrounded,” Defense Minister Fikri Isik told Turkish media in Brussels where he was attending a NATO meeting. “There is a serious clean-up going on inside to clear Daesh (ISIS) completely,” he added. “Once this clean-up is completed, we expected life in Al-Bab to return to normal.”

Turkey’s offensive has been matched by a separate operation by forces of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on the town from the south. The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights however said Turkish forces had made little progress since entering the town from the west.

It accused Turkey of killing 24 civilians in air strikes. But Turkey’s army said it had killed 15 “terrorists” in air strikes, artillery fire and clashes. Isik said the Turkish forces subsequently wanted to move on the town of Manbij but wanted the Kurdish militia fighters who ousted ISIS there last year to leave first.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2017/02/17/Turkey-clearing-Syria-s-al-Bab-of-remaining-ISIS-militants.html

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Recordings by Egyptian warships prove Houthi militants blocking aid

16 February 2017

Recordings by Egyptian warships proved recently how Houthi militias blocked humanitarian aid ships carrying medical and urgent assistance for suffering Yemenis.

Voice recordings detected by Egyptian warships in the Red Sea revealed that Houthis have seized “tens of aid ships along with their staff.”

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2017/02/16/Recordings-by-Egyptian-warships-prove-Houthi-aid-block-.html

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Iran, Oman, Kuwait share will for amity: Ministry spokesman

Feb 17, 2017

After a visit by President Hassan Rouhani to Oman and Kuwait, Iran says it shares a will with the two Persian Gulf countries to boost mutual friendliness.

“The visits, which took place at a time when the region is in special and sensitive circumstances, indicate the countries’ common will to expand friendly ties across the strategic waters of the Persian Gulf,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Qassemi said on Thursday.

Rouhani visited the countries on Wednesday at separate invitations sent to him by Oman’s Sultan Qaboos bin Said Al Said and Kuwait’s Emir Sabah al-Ahmad al-Jaber Al Sabah.

The visits came after Kuwaiti Foreign Minister Sheikh Sabah al-Khalid al-Hamad Al Sabah traveled to Tehran on January 25, bearing a letter from the Kuwaiti emir on behalf of the Persian Gulf littoral states seeking to fix ties with Tehran, which began to deteriorate last year amid the confrontational approach taken by the new Saudi rulers against Tehran.

Saudi Arabia unilaterally severed its diplomatic ties with Iran last January. It took the move after protests in front of its diplomatic premises in the Islamic Republic earlier against its execution of venerable cleric Shia cleric Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr. Many of the kingdom’s allies either downgraded or cut their Iran ties afterwards.

Qassemi said the Omani sultan and the Kuwait emir have always sought enhanced relations with Iran.

Beyond bilateral relations, the two leaders have invariably pursued the creation of a collective mechanism joining the Islamic Republic and regional countries in dialog on regional stability and threats as well as common concerns, including terrorism and extremism.

During the Kuwait City trip, the Kuwaiti emir expressed satisfaction and delight about Iran’s constructive approach towards efforts to reduce tension with neighboring Arab states.

Full report at:

http://www.presstv.ir/Detail/2017/02/17/510896/Iran-Persian-Gulf-Arab-Oman-Kuwait-Rouhani

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Astana summit aimed at facilitating intra-Syrian dialogue: Iran

Feb 16, 2017

The head of Iran’s delegation to the Syria talks in Astana has underlined the importance of the diplomatic process in Kazakhstan’s capital, saying the discussions are aimed at facilitating intra-Syrian dialogue.

Iran believes that “the most important task for the Astana talks is to facilitate Syrian-Syrian negotiations with the aim of restoring peace and security to Syria,” Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister for Arab and African Affairs Hossein Jaberi Ansari said in the Astana summit on Thursday.

The efforts made by Iran, Syria and Turkey to mediate the Astana talks was no replacement for the previous efforts by the international community to help end the Syria crisis, but rather serve as a supplementary initiative, he noted.

Jaberi Ansari further said the Astana event has “taken initial steps in the path of resolving the crisis,” urging redoubled efforts for the peace process to bear fruit.

 “Major achievements have been made to contain the Syria crisis” during the two rounds of the Astana talks, the Iranian diplomat stressed.

He reiterated the Islamic Republic’s commitment to efforts aimed at ending the Syria conflict, adding that Tehran backs Syria’s territorial integrity and national sovereignty as well as the Arab nation’s right to determine its fate.

He also called on all Syria groups to join peaceful talks with the Damascus government.

The second round of the Astana talks began earlier on Thursday.

The first round of the discussions, which was similarly mediated by Tehran, Moscow and Ankara, took place in January and brought together representatives from the Damascus government and opposition groups for the first time during nearly six years of conflict.

Astana summit paved way for Geneva talks: Ja’afari

Speaking at a press conference in Astana, Syria’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations Bashar al-Ja’afari said that the fresh round of Astana talks paved the way for the upcoming talks on the Syria crisis scheduled to be held under the United Nations auspices in the Swiss city of Geneva on February 23.

“We look forward to having Astana track continued and be successful to the effect of serving the hopes and aspirations of the Syrian people in having security and safety restored all over Syria,” Ja’afari said.

He also noted that the meetings held between the Syrian government delegation and the Russian and Iranian officials were “fruitful” and contributed a great deal to the convening of the Astana talks.

Full report at:

http://www.presstv.ir/Detail/2017/02/16/510851/Syria-Astana-Hossein-Jaberi-Ansari

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US stance on two-state solution worrying: French FM

Feb 16, 2017

French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault has criticized US President Donald Trump for dropping Washington's commitment to a so-called two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, describing the White House’s position on the matter as “confused and worrying.”

“I found that on the Israeli-Palestinian dossier... [the US policy] was very confused and worrying,” Ayrault told reporters after his meeting with US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson at a G20 meeting of foreign ministers in Bonn, Germany, on Thursday.

He added, “I wanted to remind him after the meeting between Donald Trump and (Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin) Netanyahu that in France's view there are no other options other than the perspective of a two-state solution and that the other option which Mr. Tillerson brought up was not realistic, fair or balanced.”

Ayrault did not provide any information what other option the top American diplomat had suggested.

Speaking at a joint press conference with Netanyahu in Washington on Wednesday, the US president said he would back a single-state solution if the two sides agreed to it.

“Looking at two-state or one-state, I like the one that both parties like. I'm very happy with the one both parties like. I can live with either one,” Trump stated.

Meanwhile, German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel censured the Tel Aviv regime for its expansionist policies, warning that construction of more Israeli settlements in Palestinian territories may diminish prospects for the resolution of the decades-long Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

“We are concerned that unlimited construction of settlements will... make a two-state solution impossible and could increase the risks of conflicts in the Middle East, including possible war,” Gabriel told reporters on Thursday.

German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel

The German foreign minister also slammed a recent Israeli law legalizing construction of settler units in the occupied Palestinian land, saying the measure further complicated the situation.

He underlined that Germany would continue to advocate the so-called two-state solution, calling it “the only realistic option to reduce conflict in the region and prevent the emergency of a new war.”

Full report at:

http://www.presstv.ir/Detail/2017/02/16/510873/France-US-Trump-twostate-solution-Israel-Palestinian-conflict

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US embassy relocation would be explosive for Mideast: AL

Feb 16, 2017

The Arab League (AL) has slammed a US plan to relocate the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem al-Quds, saying such a move would worsen the already-tense situation in the Middle East region.

The US diplomatic mission’s transfer would be explosive for the situation in the Mideast, Egypt's state news MENA news agency quoted AL Secretary General Ahmed Aboul Gheit as saying after a meeting with United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres in Cairo on Thursday.

US President Donald Trump had pledged during his campaign to move the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem al-Quds.

In September 2016, Trump who was the Republican presidential front-runner at the time, promised Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that he would recognize Jerusalem al-Quds as Israel’s undivided capital if he won the presidential race.

The pledge, however, has sparked a chorus of condemnations, with several Palestinian and Arab leaders warning that the move could wreck the chances of peace in the Middle East for good.

Elsewhere in his comments, Aboul Gheit stressed that the so-called “two-state solution remains the real way to achieving” peace.

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict “requires a comprehensive and just peace based on a two-state solution with an independent Palestinian state,” he added.

Two-state solution sole way ahead: UN envoy

Separately on Thursday, United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, Nikolay Mladenov, said the so-called two-state solution is “the only way” to meet the aspirations of the Palestinians and the Israelis.

United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, Nikolay Mladenov (Photo by AP)

He made the comments at a UN Security Council meeting which was held to discuss the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Tensions flared between Israelis and Palestinians this week after Washington stepped back from its longstanding commitment to the so-called two-state solution.

This is while successive US administrations have supported the bid, under which a Palestinian state would be formed.

Full report at:

http://www.presstv.ir/Detail/2017/02/16/510842/Palestine-Israel-Arab-League

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Southeast Asia

 

China holds 'anti-terrorism' mass rally in Xinjiang's Uighur heartland

February 17, 2017

The government of the restive far-western Xinjiang marched thousands of armed officers through the region's southern city of Hotan in a shock and awe campaign against what it says is the rising threat of terrorism and ethnic separatism.

The large-scale parade in Hotan, a hotspot of ethnic tension in Xinjiang's southern Muslim Uighur heartland, involved thousands of armed police and paramilitary officers and was designed to "show strength and intimidate", according to a front-page report in the official Xinjiang Daily on Friday.

"Continued vigilance and high-pressure deterrence against terrorists have forced them to end of the road, like a cornered beast driven to desperate action," Xinjiang deputy party secretary Zhu Hailun said.

Hundreds have been killed in Xinjiang in the past two years, most in violence between the Muslim Uighur people, who call the region home, and the ethnic majority Han Chinese.

After a period of relative calm, there has been an uptick in violence in recent weeks, particularly in the region's south. On Tuesday, three knife-wielding attackers killed five people and injured another five in Pishan County, in Hotan prefecture.

In December, five people were killed when attackers drove a vehicle into a government building, and police shot dead what authorities described as three terror suspects last month.

The government has blamed much of the unrest on separatist extremist militants, although rights groups and exiles say anger at tightening Chinese controls on the religion and culture of Muslim Uighurs is more to blame.

Earlier this month, the government said seven people, including six senior public security officials from Hotan and nearby Karakax county, were being investigated on suspicion of graft. All were Uighurs, judging by their names.

Chinese authorities have also increasingly imposed travel restrictions on Uighurs, and late last year, began ordering Xinjiang residents in Xinjiang to turn in their passports to police.

http://nation.com.pk/international/17-Feb-2017/china-holds-anti-terrorism-mass-rally-in-xinjiang-s-uighur-heartland

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Survey: 600,000 Indonesian Muslims Involved in Radicalism 

17 FEBRUARY, 2017

TEMPO.CO, Depok - Director of Wahid Foundation, Yenny Wahid, revealed that 600,000 of 150 million Indonesian Muslim residents have been involved in radicalism act. In fact, 11 million of Indonesian Muslims have committed to be involved in radicalism acts. “That is the data of potential socio-religious intolerance and acts of radicalism among Indonesian Muslims,” Yenny said during a talk show on Thursday, February 16, 2017.

The survey that was conducted together with Lingkar Survei Indonesia was designed to use a multi-stage random sampling with a 2.6 percent margin of error and a 95 percent confidence level. The sample consists of 1,200 respondents from 34 provinces in Indonesia.

Full report at:

https://en.tempo.co/read/news/2017/02/17/055847487/Survey-600000-Indonesian-Muslims-Involved-in-Radicalism

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S Arabia says it has broken up four IS cells

February 17, 2017

DUBAI: Saudi Arabia has broken up four Islamic State cells suspected of providing shelter to wanted militants and recruiting fighters, the Interior Ministry said on Thursday, according to Saudi state television.

Automatic weapons were seized from the four cells, which comprised 15 Saudis, two Yemenis and a Sudanese man, the ministry’s statement said. Security forces also seized more than 2 million riyals ($530,000) in cash. Among those helped to hide by the cells, which operated in the capital Riyadh and in eastern and northern regions, was Taye’ al-Say’ari, one of two suspected militants killed in a security operation in Riyadh last month.

“Cell members were (also) active in ... choosing and conducting surveillance of targets and passing information to the organisation abroad, promoting the deviant group and recruiting members for the organisation and inciting them to fight in areas of struggle,” the statement said.

Full report at:

http://nation.com.pk/international/17-Feb-2017/s-arabia-says-it-has-broken-up-four-is-cells

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4 linked to Islamic State cell in Sabah nabbed

January 24, 2017

KUALA LUMPUR: The Bukit Aman Special Task Force has crippled an Islamic State (IS) militant group trying to start a base in Sabah.

They had intended to use the Sabah base as a transit point for militants in Southeast Asia and South Asia to enter Southern Philippines where they could join other IS militants.

Inspector-general of police (IGP) Khalid Abu Bakar said four suspects comprising, three foreigners from Bangladesh and one from the Philippines plus a local woman were detained here and in Kota Kinabalu.

The suspects, aged between 27 and 31, were detained by Bukit Aman’s Special Task Force (Operations and Counter-Terrorism) department during separate operations between Jan 13 and Jan 19.

“With the arrest of the suspects, the Special Task Force has crippled a new group of IS militants who had planned to use Sabah as their transit point for militants in Southeast Asia and South Asia to sneak into southern Philippines,” Khalid said in a statement yesterday.

He said the first suspect, a Filipino aged 31, who is believed to be a member of the IS militant group but who worked as a salesman in a shop selling watches in Kota Kinabalu, was detained on Jan 13.

The Filipino was believed to be under the leadership of Mahmud Ahmad (the former Universiti Malaya lecturer who had joined the IS group in Southern Philippines).

“The suspect was believed to have been directed by Mahmud Ahmad to recruit new members from Malaysia, Indonesia, Bangladesh and Rohingnya from Myanmar before sending them to southern Philippines to join the IS militant group in Marawi City, Mindanao, Philippines,” he said.

According to Khalid, the second suspect was a local woman, aged 27, and detained together with the first suspect in Kota Kinabalu.

“The unemployed woman from Selangor was roped in early last month through social media,” he said adding that the woman took a flight from KLIA on Jan 13, to join the first suspect in Kota Kinabalu.

“The two suspects were planning to move to Sandakan before sneaking into southern Philippines,” he said.

Full report at:

http://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/nation/2017/01/24/4-linked-to-islamic-state-cell-in-sabah-nabbed/

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Hardline Islamist group claims Hadi’s Bill to uphold ‘Allah’s law’ not Shariah-compliant

February 17, 2017

KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 17 ― Islamist group Hizbut Tahrir Malaysia (HT-M) has rebuffed PAS’ bid to strengthen the Shariah courts through a legislative amendment, saying the parliamentary route to uphold God’s law is wrong.

The local chapter of the international hardline group seeking to create a global caliphate argued that divine laws cannot be debated or passed by a secular system that relies on a majority vote and would end up belittling Islam.

“The parliamentary and democratic route is prepared by a secular system, and is not a Shariah-compliant path to uphold Allah's law.

“Through this un-Islamic system humans have usurped God's right as the maker of laws and this is haram, and can corrupt one's faith. How can Allah's law be subject to the approval of humans before it is enacted?” the group said in a posting on their website yesterday.

HT-M also criticised proponents of Hadi's Bill who have repeatedly claimed that non-Muslims would not be affected by the amendments, saying that no one should exempted from God's law.

“God's law is for all humans, whether or not they are non-Muslims or Muslims, except for some specific laws involving marriage, food and drinks and a few other things.”

The group also claimed that the Bill to amend the Syariah Courts (Criminal Jurisdiction) Act 1965 is merely cosmetic in nature, as it is limited and had no jurisdiction on other crimes like murder, corruption and robbery.

“RUU355 only involves some amendments to the court's jurisdiction in terms of 'punishments' without changing ‘the types of punishments’,” it said, referring to the Bill by its Malay name.

Full report at:

http://www.themalaymailonline.com/malaysia/article/hardline-islamist-group-claims-hadis-bill-to-uphold-allahs-law-not-shariah

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Indonesia seeks to reenergize trade with Saudi Arabia

Haeril Halim

February 17, 2017

President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo is seeking help from the Saudi Arabian Consultative Assembly, or Majlis Asy-Syura, to improve slowing bilateral trade and economic cooperation between the Middle Eastern country and Indonesia.

Jokowi received the speaker of the Majlis Asy-Syura, Abdullah bin Mohammed bin Ibrahim Al Al-Shiekh, and his entourage at the Presidential Palace on Thursday.

Although Indonesia contributes greatly to Saudi’s national income as it has become the largest sender of haj pilgrims — approximately 211,000 per year — to the kingdom, trade and economic relations between the two countries are still weak.

Bilateral trade and economic relations saw a significant drop of up to 36 percent in 2014 and 2015 and Jokowi was aiming to bolster cooperation in those two fields this year as Indonesia was preparing to welcome King Salman for a state visit on March 1 to 9.

Jokowi described Salman’s upcoming visit as historic because the last time a Saudi king came to Jakarta for a state visit was 46 years ago when Salman’s father King Abdul Aziz Al-Saud visited the archipelago in 1971.

“We are sure that the upcoming visit of King Salman will strengthen the Indonesia-Saudi Arabia relationship to reach a state of affairs where both countries mutually benefit,” Jokowi said when welcoming Abdullah.

Abdullah is in Jakarta as part of the upcoming state visit of King Salman in March. The Saudi assembly speaker was also scheduled to meet with House of Representatives Speaker Setya Novanto and other House members on Thursday to improve parliamentary cooperation between the two countries.

Abdullah said the House visit also aimed at discussing potential sectors that could be improved by Indonesia and Saudi Arabia in the future.

“Although, there are still several sectors that need to be improved between the two countries, the historic relations between Saudi Arabia and Indonesia will always continue,” Abdullah said.

Indonesian Deputy Foreign Minister AM Fachir, who accompanied Jokowi during Thursday’s meeting, said the President had also asked the Majlis Asy-Syura to convince the Saudi government to materialize its investment plans and commitments in Indonesia.

Jokowi also discussed various issues with Abdullah, including the protection of Indonesians in Saudi Arabia.

Full report at:

http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/02/17/indonesia-seeks-to-reenergize-trade-with-saudi-arabia.html

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Africa

 

Tunisia extends state of emergency citing ‘terror threats’

Feb 16, 2017

Tunisia has renewed for three more months the state of emergency which has been in place across the North African state since a deadly Daesh terror attack in 2015.

President Beji Caid Essebsi decided “to extend the state of emergency for three months from 16 February,” the presidential office announced on Thursday.

The extension came despite government assurances of improved security in the country.

On Wednesday, Prime Minister Youssef Chahed said to a local radio station that the state of emergency will be “definitively lifted in three months.”

The state of emergency gives special powers to the police and in theory grants authorities the right to prohibit strikes and meetings likely to provoke “disorder.” It also permits authorities “to ensure control of the press.”

Also commenting on the state of emergency, Defense Minister Farhat Horchani said there had been a “major improvement” in the country’s security situation compared to the past.

“But as long as our situation is linked to Libya and as long as Libya does not have a government that is in control of the situation... the threat exists,” he warned.

Tunisia shares a 500 kilometer border with Libya, a country plagued by chaos since the NATO-backed ouster of its former dictator, Moammar Gaddafi, in 2011. Taking advantage of the chaotic situation, the Daesh terror group has managed to gain a foothold in Libya.

The state of emergency has been in place in Tunisia since November 2015 when a deadly bombing attack left 12 presidential guards dead in the capital Tunis.

Daesh Takfiri terrorist organization, which is mainly active in Iraq and Syria, claimed responsibility for the attack in 2015.

The terror outfit was also behind attacks the same year at the Bardo National Museum and at a beach resort, which left 59 foreign tourists and a Tunisian officer dead.

A large number of Tunisian nationals have also joined the ranks of Daesh over the past years.

http://www.presstv.ir/Detail/2017/02/16/510836/Tunisia-Tunis-State-of-Emergency

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Central African Republic: Rebel group 'killed 32 civilians'

16 February 2017

Rebels in the Central African Republic (CAR) killed 32 civilians last December after clashes with a rival faction, Human Rights Watch (HRW) says.

The Union for Peace in the Central African Republic (UPC) is said to have rounded victims up and executed them.

HRW says it is concerned UN peacekeepers could not stop the atrocities.

UPC is a splinter group formed from the Seleka movement which briefly seized power in March 2013 after a coup.

The Seleka group was itself then ousted, leading to a wave of violent reprisals against the Muslim population by the Christian anti-Balaka militia.

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More on CAR's rebel groups

UPC fighters killed 25 people in the central town of Bakala on 12 December after calling them to a school for a meeting, HRW said.

They had earlier killed seven men who were returning from a nearby gold mine, it added.

"These executions are brazen war crimes by UPC fighters who feel free to kill at will," said HRW's Lewis Mudge.

"The group is carrying out its killing sprees with no fear of punishment, despite the presence of United Nations peacekeepers."

Thousands of people have been killed and hundreds of thousands displaced in the CAR since 2013.

More than 12,000 UN peacekeepers are deployed in the country.

Their presence is credited with helping to reduce violence that at its peak in 2014 had led to fears of possible genocide.

Full report at:

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-38994300

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Nigeria: Violence in Southern Kaduna Threatens to Undermine Democratic Stability

15 FEBRUARY 2017

ANALYSIS

By Leena Koni Hoffmann

A wave of devastating attacks and reprisals in the southern part of the state is a chilling reminder of rural Nigeria's vast security vulnerabilities and communal tensions.

Over the past two decades, Nigeria's Kaduna State has experienced a sharp segregation along religious and ethnic lines precipitated by about a dozen outbreaks of violence. Kaduna's Hausa-Fulani residents, who are mostly Muslim, are the majority in the northern half of the state, while the people of southern Kaduna are predominantly Christian, although tribally and linguistically diverse. The river that runs through the city of Kaduna, the state capital, highlights the starkness of the divide: the northern half is unofficially called Mecca; the south, Jerusalem.

Between 10,000 and 20,000 people are estimated to have died in incidents across Kaduna State since 1980, a pattern of violence that peaked in 1992 and again from 2000 to 2002. In 2011, when tensions boiled over across 10 northern states triggered by protests against the presidential election results, more than 500 people were killed in southern Kaduna alone.

Outbreaks of violence in this area have now reached an unprecedented scale and frequency over the past five years. Nigeria's National Emergency Management Agency reports that 204 people were killed in southern Kaduna between October and December 2016 - the bloodiest period since 2011- though these figures are hotly disputed by various local and religious groups.

A history of violence

Southern Kaduna straddles the centre of Nigeria, and has a long record of intense political and ethno-religious struggles for power, territory, economic opportunities and agricultural resources. Under successive periods of political transformation in Nigeria, many of the tribal groups in southern Kaduna have shaped their histories and identities around deeply held grievances and the perception of suppression by the more politically influential Hausa-Fulani people.

A lack of development, declining education, poverty, weak and distrusted government, the diminishing influence of traditional leaders, political exclusion and rivalries, and the lack of opportunity for southern Kaduna's youth population have all played a part in escalating the crisis. The result has been a slow-burning, poorly-tracked cycle of bloody intercommunal violence mainly involving nomadic or semi-nomadic Fulani herdsmen and local farmers.

But though ethnic tensions inflame the conflict, there are multiple challenges intertwined with sectarian tensions, including rural banditry, cattle rustling, land use and access disputes, farm and herding differences, transhumance and grazing disputes, electoral violence, criminal gangs, arms proliferation, high youth unemployment and even the prevalence of drug abuse.

Walking the tight-rope

The Kaduna State government, led by Governor Mallam Nasir El-Rufai, now faces enormous pressure to act. In office since 2015, his administration, and that of the federal government, have been accused of a conspiracy of silence, and are facing mounting popular criticism on the ground and on social media.

The governor must walk a tight-rope over the state's gaping majority/minority divide. His identity as a Hausa-Fulani and Muslim is already being used by some to measure his neutrality. El-Rufai's statements regarding compensation to transhumance herders - an occupation associated with nomadic Fulani communities - have come under sharp criticism, and play easily into long-standing local narratives of preferential treatment for certain ethno-religious and cultural groups.

Avoiding these controversies while at the same time restoring civil order, managing local instigators and pursing justice will be a defining test for El-Rufai's first term in office. The state's history of violence suggests the ongoing crisis cannot be ended simply through military or law enforcement means alone- no matter how sincere these actions may be. It will require a long-term, multi-pronged and well-resourced security and rural development plan.

It must also address the longstanding justice deficit and end impunity. This is a high bar for Nigeria's inefficient and corrupt criminal justice system.

In the past, the causes of violence and key instigators were identified by a succession of tribunals and commissions of inquiry, but authorities failed to tackle drivers of conflict, reconciliation processes were abandoned and perpetrators let off by law enforcement.

All sides feel strongly about their grievances and group rights. So, difficult though it may be, engaging traditional, religious and community leaders, elders and influencers in inclusive, representative and reflective dialogue is critical. Even hard-line critics of the government must be accommodated to an extent in negotiations.

Most important is that the government actions against security threats, and the settlement offered to victims, must be transparent and delicately balance ethno-religious and livelihood anxieties. A commitment to non-violence facilitated by the Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue - the Kafanchan Peace Declaration - was signed by key stakeholders on 23 March 2016, and can constitute a strong and realistic starting point for conflict prevention and building long-term arbitration and mediation mechanisms in southern Kaduna. With support from the state government, the dialogue process and agreement was adopted by local leaders from 35 communities spread across five of southern Kaduna's eight local government areas.

Full report at:

http://allafrica.com/stories/201702160523.html

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Somalia's new leader faces delicate balancing act

16 February 2017

Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed's victory in Somalia's presidential election last week brought joyous crowds into the streets of Mogadishu, a testament to the former prime minister's enduring popularity.

But analysts warn that the iron will and nationalist discourse that Somalis fondly remember from his time as premier could be Mohamed's biggest obstacles when it comes to rebuilding the world's most notorious failed state.

Mohamed, who is better known by his nickname Farmajo, or "Cheese", has inherited an administration that has limited control over Somali territory due to the presence of Shabaab Islamists, and is heavily propped up by the international community.

"There is a super-sized expectation, but the problems that bedevilled Somalia for three decades won't vanish because Farmajo is the president," said Abdirashid Hashi, a researcher at the Heritage Institute.

- Why so popular? -

While prime minister for a mere eight months in 2010-11, Farmajo swiftly won over Somalis with his efforts to improve governance.

His resolute nationalism, in which he tried to revive Somali pride in a nation best-known for anarchy and bloodshed, was also well regarded.

He culled the number of government ministers and banned non-essential foreign trips by officials, and launched a program for stamping out corruption.

Farmajo's image also received a boost from the improved security in Mogadishu which saw Shabaab militants driven from the capital a few months after he stepped down as premier.

"It was under Farmajo that the groundwork was laid for this victory," said Roland Marchal, a researcher at Sciences Po university in Paris.

He was also highly popular within the military, not least because his government made sure to regularly pay soldiers, a rarity in Somalia's turbulent history.

- Risky nationalism -

Farmajo inherits a Somalia still operating under an interim constitution, with little in the way of solid administrative structures: the army, central bank, fiscal administration and electoral commission remain rudimentary.

While Farmajo favours a strong central government, Somalia has in recent years shifted towards a system of federalism.

Full report at:

http://www.worldbulletin.net/africa/184896/somalias-new-leader-faces-delicate-balancing-act

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