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Islamic World News ( 2 Nov 2017, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Kerala Police identify 5 from Kannur fighting for Islamic State in Syria









Photo: A person, identified as U K Hamza is suspected to be behind prompting the youths from Kannur to move to Syria.

 

Some students in Indonesia want Islamic caliphate

Pakistan rated among most dangerous countries for journalists

Osama bin Laden still matters. Islamic State leader Baghdadi not so much.

India

Kerala Police identify 5 from Kannur fighting for Islamic State in Syria

Uber bans right wing US journalist for bias against Muslim drivers, will it do same in India?

Found in Osama bin Laden cache: Kumar Sanu, Alka Yagnik, Tom and Jerry

The fearless Wadia: Jinnah's daughter, Nusli's mother dead

After blocking ban on Masood Azhar, China says ready to work with India on bilateral relations

Rajasthan ‘love jihad’ case puts focus on 2 pending bills

Iranian spies held top Indian Al Qaeda man, set him free

Army jawan, terrorist killed in Pulwama encounter

India frees 14 Pakistan citizens, neighbour returns favour

Photo of Hizbul Mujahideen terrorist with US arms goes viral, probe launched

J&K govt suspends Hizbul chief Syed Salahuddin’s son from agriculture dept job

Consider plea to denotify SIMI as terror outfit: Delhi HC to Govt

Hardline preacher Zakir Naik finds refuge in Malaysia as politicised Islam grows

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Southeast Asia       

Some students in Indonesia want Islamic caliphate

Manila to Focus on Terrorism at Southeast Asian Summit, Urge Greater Cooperation

Indonesia: Turning Back Rising Tide Of Radicalism

Batam radio station cleared of allegation it spreads IS propaganda

Malaysian Islamic preacher seeks audience with Johor Ruler to defend himself

Singapore govt told to focus on overseas trips to hear Muslim preachers

A loss to ban Mufti Menk, ‘Ustad Bollywood’, says PAS

Indonesia takes ultra-nationalist turn against Islamic populism

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Pakistan

Pakistan rated among most dangerous countries for journalists

Security bodies role to continue in national interest, say commanders

FO summons envoy over Dhaka’s offensive protest note

IS graffiti found on State Bank wall in Rawalpindi

OBL had no help from state elements in Pakistan: CIA files

Sir Aga Khan III: Remembering a great Muslim leader

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Arab World

Osama bin Laden still matters. Islamic State leader Baghdadi not so much.

Daesh executed 741 civilians during Mosul liberation battle: UN

Syrian Army Regains Control of New Regions in Northern Hama

Daesh atrocities in Iraq’s Mosul ‘intl. crimes’, must be tried by ICC: UN

Hama: Hundreds of Terrorists Join Al-Nusra to Prevent Syrian Army Advance

Syrian Army on Verge of Full Cleansing of Deir Ezzur

Over 200 Gunmen Receive Gov't Amnesty in Northeastern Aleppo

Army Forces Discover ISIL's Large Arms Cache in Eastern Hama

Syria in Past 24 Hours: ISIL's Presence in Deir Ezzur City Ending

US draft UN resolution seeks extension of Syria chemical probe

Egypt: Former army officer led terrorists in West Desert attack

Iraqi army recaptures key natural gas field from Daesh

Russian long-range bombers strike Daesh positions in Syria’s Dayr al-Zawr province

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North America

Islamic State Claims Responsibility for Lower Manhattan Terrorist Attack

Professor apologizes for fiery response to Muslim student

Muslims in NJ city fear another backlash after latest attack

‘Allahu akbar!’ on the streets of America

Listening and learning at Islam awareness presentation

US draft UN resolution seeks extension of Syria chemical probe

White House slams Russia over veto on Syria chemical weapons probe

NY attack suspect charged, could face death penalty

Killed by hate: Victims of America's far-right violence

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South Asia

Muslim countries push UN to speak out on Myanmar abuses

US lawmakers target Myanmar military with new sanctions

Haqqani network on top as US shares list of 20 terror groups with Pakistan

Air and artillery strikes pound Taliban positions in Helmand province

US strategy ineffective and influenced by defeated generals: Asif

Suu Kyi makes first visit to crisis-hit Rakhine

Ghani orders probe as deadly fuel tanker fire leaves several dead, wounded

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Mideast

Saudi Arabia: UN’s support of Houthi militias is unacceptable

After Daesh, Ankara to target former Al-Qaeda affiliate in Syria

Secretary of Int'l Union of Resistance Conference: ISIL Defeat Victory of Resistance Front

‘Proud’ Britain marks Balfour anniversary with Netanyahu

Houthi militias massacre children in Taiz shelling

Russia, France: Iran nuclear deal cannot be revised

US trying to whitewash 9/11 facts via wild claims against Iran: Zarif

Israel, Saudi Arabia have linked up against Iran: Larijani

Syria urges UN action after fresh Israeli airstrikes

Saudi Arabia slams Houthis for planting 50,000 mines on Saudi-Yemeni border

CIA documents ‘conclusive proof of Al-Qaeda-Iran ties’

Turkish police seize ‘record’ amount of explosives in ISIL operation

Former New Yorker, ISIL's alleged Turkey recruiter extradited to US

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Africa

Niger asks US to use armed drones against militants in African country

Ethiopia sends thousands of troops to Somalia to fight al-Shabab

Nigeria: CAN Replies Osinbajo, Insists There's Plot to 'Islamise' Nigeria

Tunisian policeman dies after knife attack

Nigeria: Buhari, Sultan, Make Top 50 World Influential Muslim Leaders

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Europe

From NYC to Charlie Hebdo, why is Islam the target?

UK Is Tougher On Facebook Posts Than ISIS Returnees

Jeremy Corbyn attended event held by Muslim group accused of hosting preachers with extremist views

Judge orders father to not impose religion on his children

One killed, two hurt in Morocco tourist town shooting

Russia, France: Iran nuclear deal cannot be revised

France unhappy about Russia’s forum on Syria, stresses Geneva process

‘Devout terrorist’ jailed for Australia plot

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau

URL: http://newageislam.com/islamic-world-news/new-age-islam-news-bureau/kerala-police-identify-5-from-kannur-fighting-for-islamic-state-in-syria/d/113114

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Kerala Police identify 5 from Kannur fighting for Islamic State in Syria

by Shaju Philip

November 3, 2017

Kerala Police on Thursday identified five persons from Kannur who are suspected to be fighting for the Islamic State in Syria. The youths, who migrated to Syria between 2015 and 2017, had been activists of the Popular Front of India, the police said.

According to police, one of the five is an 18-year-old called Safwan, son of T V Shameer of Pappinisseri in Kannur. Last week, police confirmed deaths of Shameer and his elder son Salman, who were allegedly fighting for the IS in Syria. Shameer moved to Syria in December 2015 with his wife Fousiya, sons Salman and Safwan and daughter Najila, said police. According to probe agencies, Fousiya, Najila and Safwan are still in an IS camp.

Abdul Khayoom, from Mayyil in Kannur, allegedly moved to Syria in April. Abdul Manaf, from Valapattanam in Kannur, allegedly went to Syria on a fake passport. Manaf allegedly had close links with Valluva Kandy Shajahan, who was arrested by Delhi Police in July after his deportation from Turkey, where he was arrested during his second attempt to sneak into Syria.

The other two youths suspected to be in Syria are Shabeer and his relative Suhair, both from Valapattanam. Suhair moved to Syria from Dubai in 2016, police said.

DSP P P Sadanandan said there could be more persons from other districts in Kerala who have moved to Syria. “We have registered cases under Sections 38 and 39 of Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act against those who died while fighting in Syria, those who returned after an aborted bid to enter that country and others who are still fighting for the IS,” he said.

A person, identified as U K Hamza is suspected to be behind prompting the youths from Kannur to move to Syria. Hamza, who lived in Bahrain for two decades, had close links with IS ideologue Abu Thurki, said police.

http://indianexpress.com/article/india/kerala-police-identify-five-from-kannur-fighting-for-islamic-state-in-syria-4920064/

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Some students in Indonesia want Islamic caliphate

Nov 03, 2017

JAKARTA Nearly 20 per cent of high school and university students in Indonesia support the establishment of a caliphate in the Muslim-majority country over the current secular government, a survey showed this week.

Indonesia has in recent years seen its long-standing reputation for religious tolerance come under scrutiny as hardline Islamic groups muscle their way into the public and political life in the young democracy.

Most Indonesians practise a moderate form of Islam, and the country has sizeable minorities of people of other beliefs. Religious diversity is enshrined in its constitution.

The survey by Jakarta-based organisation Alvara polled more than 4,200 Muslim students, mostly in top schools and universities.

Nearly one in four said they were ready to wage jihad to achieve a caliphate.

The report said the government and organisations "must start taking tangible steps to anticipate this". - REUTERS

http://www.tnp.sg/news/world/some-students-indonesia-want-islamic-caliphate

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Pakistan rated among most dangerous countries for journalists

November 03, 2017

WASHINGTON: An international index for press freedom places Pakistan among the most dangerous countries for journalists – along with the Philippines and Bangladesh – as the world observed on Thursday the “Day to End Impunity for Crimes Against Journalists.”

The 2017 World Press Freedom Index, prepared by an international media advocacy group – Reporters Without Borders – ranked Pakistan 139th out of 180 countries survey for the report. In 2016, Pakistan was 146th.

India is 136th in the 2017 report.

Although the two South Asian countries have more press freedom than many other nations, targeted killing by terrorists, religious gangs and mafia make them dangerous for journalists.

The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists has listed 60 journalists who have been killed in Pakistan since 1994, although it did not place Pakistan among the most dangerous countries this year.

Iraq tops this 9-member list, followed by Syria and Mexico. Afghanistan is number 7.

Reporters Without Borders, which is better known by its French acronym RSF, cites the Asia-Pacific region as the third worst violator overall.

“Two of its countries, China (176th) and Vietnam (175th), are the world’s biggest prisons for journalists and bloggers. It has some of the most dangerous countries for journalists: Pakistan (139th), Philippines (127th) and Bangladesh (146th),” says the report.

“It also has the biggest number of “press freedom predators” at the head of the world’s worst dictatorships, including China, North Korea (180th), and Laos (170th), which are news and information black holes,” RSF adds.

https://www.dawn.com/news/1368018/pakistan-rated-among-most-dangerous-countries-for-journalists

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Osama bin Laden still matters. Islamic State leader Baghdadi not so much.

By Rick Noack

November 2, 2017

The release Wednesday of files seized in the 2011 Abbottabad raid on Osama bin Laden’s hideout has drawn renewed attention to the late al-Qaeda leader. Bin Laden was killed by U.S. forces in the raid six years ago, but his al-Qaeda legacy is still the subject of public debate and expert analysis, despite the emergence of an arguably more powerful rival group, the Islamic State.

Its leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, has been declared dead several times now, although the group recently released an audio file meant to prove that he is still alive. But even if the reports of Baghdadi’s death turn out to be true at some point, would it really matter as much as the killing of bin Laden did? Probably not.

Bin Laden may have been involved in the day-to-day operations of al-Qaeda before 9/11, but he subsequently spent the vast majority of his life as the world’s most wanted terrorist in the role of a more symbolic figure and recruiter-in-chief. Bin Laden worked on a broad strategy for the group, mostly relying on his own public profile and status within the global jihadist movement to pressure associated groups into following his guidance.

In contrast, Baghdadi has made few public remarks. Those comments may have galvanized hardcore supporters, but what really attracted many foreigners who joined the movement were the group's slick propaganda videos or the social media accounts of fighters. The Islamic State has also prepared for the possible death of Baghdadi for years, researchers believe. “The Islamic State’s organizational structure has been built to ensure that Baghdadi’s death would not deal a significant blow to the group’s operations, with a relatively broad network of commanders and likely a succession structure in place with some depth,” said Otso Iho, a senior analyst with IHS Jane’s Terrorism and Insurgency Center.

“There is a reason why he hasn’t been featured that much in the group’s propaganda — they are aware that if they put too much emphasis on one individual who can be killed, the entire organization could suffer as a result,” said Charlie Winter, a senior researcher with London’s International Center for the Study of Radicalization who specializes in the group’s propaganda.

To understand why, look at the history of the Islamic State. Its forerunner, known as al-Qaeda in Iraq, was founded by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi around 2004 following the U.S. invasion of Iraq. (Zarqawi, a Jordanian, was killed in a U.S. airstrike in 2006.) As the group's name implies, it was linked with bin Laden.

By the time Baghdadi took the reins of what was left of al-Qaeda in Iraq in 2010, bin Laden was more of an ideological leader than an operational day-to-day manager, whose messages took weeks or months to reach their destinations for security reasons. When the U.S. forces killed bin Laden in 2011, it came as a huge setback for global jihadist movements that had looked up to him for advice. It also disrupted al-Qaeda, which at the time mostly consisted of various splinter groups that were more or less loosely connected.

“Sometimes, the removal of a leader can cause a substantial degradation of a group,” said Raffaello Pantucci, director of international security studies at Britain’s Royal United Services Institute. The Taliban, for example, covered up the death of its leader, Mohammad Omar, for two years until 2015 out of fear that the group would break apart.

“But in most cases, a leader’s death only speeds up the rise of even more radical successors,” said Pantucci. This was the case with the killing of bin Laden, which opened a path for new leaders and the creation of new radical splinter groups no longer bound by his influence. That included Baghdadi’s group, which soon gained momentum in Iraq and Syria, then already embroiled in its own civil war.

Within two years of bin Laden’s death, the Islamic State was carrying out a revitalized and arguably even more toxic strain of Islamist terrorism both in the Middle East and around the world. In addition to launching attacks in the West, it gained the allegiance of other groups in countries such as Libya and Nigeria.

The Islamic State was soon described by U.S. officials as being more dangerous than al-Qaeda. Yet despite being named caliph of an actual territory, Baghdadi never reached bin Laden’s status within the global jihadist movement, and is unlikely ever to do so.

Baghdadi’s greatest achievement was the capture of physical territory he dubbed the Islamic State, but with that mostly gone, so goes his legacy. Bin Laden, on the other hand, will always be known as the man who took violent radical Islam and spread it across the world.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/worldviews/wp/2017/11/02/osama-bin-laden-still-matters-islamic-state-leader-al-baghdadi-not-so-much/?utm_term=.78d3ca2b40b0

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India

 

Uber bans right wing US journalist for bias against Muslim drivers, will it do same in India?

NOV 02, 2017

Uber has banned a US journalist with right wing leanings after she tweeted that she doesn't take the cabs driven by Muslim drivers. Laura Loomer, who calls herself an investigative journalist and has a verified Twitter account, was banned from Uber after she tweeted against Muslim drivers following a terrorist attack in Manhattan in which 8 people were killed. Several hours later, Loomer was also banned by Lyft, a cab service that competes with Uber in the US, similar to how Ola does it here in India.

Before she was banned, Loomer said she would never take Uber or Lyft cabs that were driven by Muslim drivers. She said that she always waited for non-Muslim drivers. On November 1, Loomer tweeted,

"I'm late to the NYPD press conference because I couldn't find a non Muslim cab or @Uber @lyft driver for over 30 min! This is insanity."

 A few hours later, she was banned by Uber. Evidently, Loomer didn't like Uber's move and tweeted in her replies that she was planning to sue the company.

She tweeted:

"I was already taking legal action against @Uber before they banned me today. They are a highly anti Semitic company and endanger lives."

And then in another tweet she said,

"@Uber will literally hire an Islamic terrorist, but they will ban a conservative journalist for addressing legitimate safety concerns."

Although Loomer case is fresh in news, this is not the only incident where bias and prejudice has come out in the open as far as services like Uber and Airbnb are concerned. Uber had earlier too acted against bigotry. Earlier in August, the company banned white supremacist James Allsup after protests in Virginia. "There is simply no place for this type of bigotry, discrimination, and hate," Uber Regional general manager Meghan Verena Joyce had said at that time.

Airbnb on its part too has clamped down on hosts who refuse to offer services to people due to racial prejudice. The company recently suspended a host after a Asian traveller was denied services at the person's place.

But even as companies crack down on bigotry, it is also something that is increasingly more common in the gig economy. Although in the US, Uber -- and Lyft -- have been more assertive in tackling the racial prejudice, in India we are yet to see such steps from the company or from Ola, which competes with Uber.

Just recently around mid October MadhuPurnima Kishwar, founder of human rights organisation MANUSHI and supposedly with right leanings, hinted in tweets that how her bad experiences with Uber rides were fault of Muslim drivers.

The tweets were later deleted (but people took screenshots) after they were called out by many on Twitter for bigotry and prejudice. But interestingly, she also found support among her over 1 million followers, with many chiming in that they cancel the Uber and Ola rides if their car has a Muslim drivers. Some also commented that they rate Muslim drivers poorly after the ride.

http://indiatoday.intoday.in/technology/story/uber-bans-right-wing-journalist-for-bias-against-muslim-drivers-will-it-do-same-in-india/1/1080683.html

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Found in Osama bin Laden cache: Kumar Sanu, Alka Yagnik, Tom and Jerry

by Mihir Vasavda

November 3, 2017

Sandwiched between graphic videos of suicide bombings and beheadings are Bollywood chartbusters sung by Udit Narayan, Kumar Sanu and Alka Yagnik. Along with news reports on security measures for the 2010 Hockey World Cup in Delhi and videos by terrorist Ilyas Kashmiri is a compilation of “Best FIFA World Cup goals” featuring Garrincha, Roger Milla and Fernando Torres. And, even a November 2009 report of The Indian Express, titled ‘Omar Sheikh’s Pak handler Ilyas Kashmiri also handled Headley’.

As the CIA on Wednesday made public at least 470,000 files from computers seized during the May 2011 raid on Osama bin Laden’s Abbottabad safehouse, the world got a peep into the secret life of the man who was once the world’s most wanted. The data trove also provides an insight into the mind of the al-Qaeda leader who was confined to his 38,000-sq ft compound during his final years before being gunned down by a team of US Seals in that raid. Also Read: CIA releases 470,000 more files from Osama bin Laden raid

The documents include Bin Laden’s personal journal, over 18,000 document files, and roughly 80,000 audio and image files, apart from thousands of videos — ranging from memes and gifs to animation movies and bombing videos — of up to 175 gigabytes. In the sea of digital data are videos of Bollywood songs, such as ‘Ajnabee mujhko itna bata’ from the Ajay Devgn and Kajol-starrer Pyar Toh Hona Hi Tha, the title track from the Salman Khan and Madhuri Dikshit-starrer Dil Tera Aashiq and Udit Narayan’s ‘Tu chand hai poonam ka’ from the 1994 classic Jaane Tamanna. Apart from Hindi music, the documents show that Bin Laden also had clips of the nursery rhyme ‘Twinkle Twinkle Little Star’, short clips from the cartoon series Tom & Jerry and animation movies Antz and Cars. They are interspersed with football videos, which include a compilation of the the ‘Best World Cup’ goals. A video titled ‘Where can I play football’ provides a beginner-level introduction to English language, teaching the use of basic words using the sport as a context. Also Read: Osama followed developments in Kashmir, Headley trial: CIA documents

According to a CIA release on its website, a BBC documentary titled ‘The Story of India’ was among the two dozen videos that were not released because of copyright issues. However, there are nearly a dozen India-related videos and news reports related to the Kashmir dispute.

Bin Laden kept a close watch on developments in India through newspaper and TV reports, as his viewing habits show. Several news clips from Indian channels were recovered from his hard drive, primarily related to David Headley and Ilyas Kashmiri, the alleged masterminds behind the 2008 Mumbai attacks. A report titled ‘Why India wants Al Qaida man Ilyas Kashmiri’ was found on his computer, along with another that had the file name: ‘Ilyas_Kashmiri_threatens_to_target_sports_even_in_India_2.’

Full report at:

http://indianexpress.com/article/world/found-in-al-qaeda-osama-bin-laden-cache-kumar-sanu-alka-yagnik-tom-jerry-4920140/

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The fearless Wadia: Jinnah's daughter, Nusli's mother dead

Nov 3, 2017

MUMBAI: When Dina Wadia, the only daughter of Mohammed Ali Jinnah, told him in the 1930s that she wanted to marry a young man named Neville Wadia from a prominent Parsi family of Bombay that had built the famous Cusrow Baug in Colaba and Jer Baug and Rustom Baug in Byculla, he was furious. "There are millions of Muslim boys in India," he told her, and she could marry anyone she chose. Dina promptly replied, "Father, there were millions of Muslim girls in India. Why did you not marry one of them?"

The young Jinnah had married a Parsi girl, Rattanbai "Ruttie" Petit (she died in 1929). Dina Wadia, their only child and mother of Bombay Dyeing chairman Nusli Wadia, who stood up to her father by marrying Neville Wadia at a time when Jinnah was consolidating his position as the pre-eminent leader of India's Muslims and who later staked claim to Jinnah House at Malabar Hill as the Pakistan founder's "sole heir," passed away at her New York residence on Thursday. She was 98 and had been ailing for some time.

The London-born Dina spent a major part of her life in Mumbai but had been living in the US for the past few decades. Her industrialist son Nusli, who shared a close bond with her, had been shuttling between Mumbai and New York, spending a lot of time with her. Nusli had told TOI in 2008 that "I speak to my mother once a day every day no matter where I am... I don't think there is any mother-son relationship in the world as close as ours." Besides Nusli, Dina is survived by her daughter Diana, grandsons Ness and Jeh, and great-grandchildren Jah and Ella. Her funeral will be held in New York.

Dina was born a little after midnight on August 15, 1919 or, as Stanley Wolpert wrote in his book 'Jinnah of Pakistan,' "precisely twentyeight years to the day and hour before the birth of Jinnah's other offspring, Pakistan".

As her parents' marriage floundered and her mother sunk into depression — Ruttie was ostracized by her family and the Parsi community for marrying Jinnah — the child was neglected to such a degree that for many years she wasn't given a name. She eventually took the name of her maternal grandmother, writes author Sheela Reddy in her book 'Mr And Mrs Jinnah: The Marriage That Shook India'.

On November 16, 1938, she married Neville, the only son of Sir Ness and Lady Wadia, in a ceremony at All Saint's Church on Malabar Hill. Her father did not attend the ceremony. Dina and Neville had two children but a few years later, the couple separated. Later, she repaired her relationship with her father. On April 28, 1947, she wrote congratulating her father on winning Pakistan at least in principle.

"I am so proud and happy for you — how hard you have worked for it," she wrote. But Dina didn't visit Pakistan until her father's funeral in Karachi in September 1948. In 2004, Dina visited Jinnah's tomb in Karachi, along with Nusli and his two sons. In the visitors' book, she then wrote, "May his dream for Pakistan come true."

Three years later, in 2007, she moved the Bombay high court challenging a 60-year-old notification of the Indian government that defined Jinnah House as 'evacuee property.'

She claimed the mansion could not be classified as 'evacuee property' as her father had died intestate and demanded it be handed over to her. The government said Jinnah had willed the house to his sister Fatima on May 30, 1939. But Dina in her petition denied the existence of any such valid will. The petition still awaits final hearing and disposal.

In an interview to TOI during a visit to Mumbai in 2008, Dina had said, when asked about the bungalow, "Why do you keep calling it Jinnah House? That's the name the British gave it. Its real name is South Court. Why don't you refer to it by its original name?" In her petition, she had stated that she wished to spend her remaining years in the house in Mumbai where she was born and where she spent her childhood years.

Full report at:

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/the-other-fearless-nadia-jinnahs-daughter-nuslis-mother-dead/articleshow/61474219.cms

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After blocking ban on Masood Azhar, China says ready to work with India on bilateral relations

Nov 3, 2017

BEIJING: China on Friday said it was ready to work with India to promote "constant progress" of bilateral relations, amid fresh strains in ties after Beijing again blocked Pakistan-based JeM chief Masood Azhar's designation as a global terrorist by the UN.

China on Thursday, for the fourth time, blocked India, the US and other nations' bid to list Pathankot terror attack mastermind Azhar as a global terrorist, saying "there is no consensus" within the members of the sanctions committee.

India reacted sharply to China's move, saying "accommodating with terrorism" for narrow objectives was both short-sighted and counterproductive.

China's Assistant Foreign Minister Chen Xiaodong told the media that China attached great importance to its relations with India.

"India is an important neighbour of China," Chen said, adding China plans to step up ties with neighbours under the "neighbourhood diplomacy with Chinese characteristics in the new era" enunciated by President Xi Jinping during the recently concluded key Congress of the ruling Communist Party of China (CPC).

"We are ready to work with India to promote constant progress of bilateral relations guided by this diplomacy with Chinese characteristics for the new era," Chen said without elaborating.

He said China has been following this concept and vision over the past few years in its cooperation with the neighbours and deepening mutual political trust promoting practical cooperation with them.

In the last two years, China has stonewalled efforts by India to declare Azhar as a global terrorist.

Last year in March, China was the only member in the 15-nation UN organ to put a hold on India's application with all other 14 members of the Council supporting New Delhi's bid to place Azhar on the 1267 sanctions list that would subject him to an assets freeze and travel ban.

The relations between the two neighbours are also strained by a 73-day standoff at Dokalam over Chinese army's plans to build a strategic road in the area also claimed by Bhutan.

Full report at:

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/after-blocking-ban-on-masood-azhar-china-says-ready-to-work-with-india-on-bilateral-relations/articleshow/61477667.cms

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Rajasthan ‘love jihad’ case puts focus on 2 pending bills

Bhanupratap Singh

Nov 3, 2017

JAIPUR: The Rajasthan high court's directive to police to probe a case of alleged "love jihad" has put the spotlight back on two bills aimed at banning forceful religious conversions that were passed by the state assembly in 2006 and 2008 . None of the bills have become a law in the state as they are pending clearance from the president.

On Wednesday, while hearing a habeas corpus petition by one Chirag Singhvi — who had described his sister's marriage to a Muslim as a case of "love jihad" — the HC asked the state government about the legal procedures that were in place to recognise religious conversions.

Police claimed in court that it had an affidavit in which Singhvi's sister, Payal Singhvi (22), converted from Hinduism to Islam and adopted the name Aarifa Modi to marry one Faiz Modi of Jodhpur.

Cops had refused to register an FIR after the girl's family members couldn't trace her, saying the accused had already approached police with a marriage certificate and an affidavit on conversion.

The court wondered whether religious conversions could be recognised on the basis of affidavits on a stamp paper of mere Rs 10 and asked the state government if there was any law governing conversions. Pulling up the police, Justice GK Vyas of the two-judge bench said: "In this way, tomorrow, even I could address myself as Gopal Mohammad." The court ordered that the girl be sent to Nari Niketan for seven days and asked the police to ensure that none could meet her there.

Dissident BJP MLA Ghanshyam Tiwari, who was state law minister when the two bills were passed by the assembly, said they were sent to the Centre for the President's nod and are presently pending with the home ministry.

"The 2006 bill was sent to the then governor for her nod but she returned it to the state government. The government then sent it to the President for consent. As the bill pertained to the home department, the President's office sent it to the home ministry and it is still pending there," Tiwari told TOI.

Full report at:

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/rajasthan-love-jihad-case-puts-focus-on-2-pending-bills/articleshow/61474324.cms

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Iranian spies held top Indian Al Qaeda man, set him free

By Praveen Swami

November 3, 2017

Iranian intelligence officials released an alleged lieutenant of al-Qaeda’s South Asia chief from prison after learning that he was a jihadist fighting against US-led forces in Afghanistan, documents accessed by The Indian Express have revealed.

The testimony was provided by Muhammad Asif, a resident of Sambhal in Uttar Pradesh who is now being tried in New Delhi, but it was never made public because of its potentially damaging diplomatic repercussions. “Efforts were made to seek details on Asif’s case from Tehran. Iran did not come back to us with anything. Iranian cooperation is important for India to secure its interests in Afghanistan, so we chose not to make an issue of this matter,” a senior government official involved in the case said.

The revelations on Asif’s mysterious release from prison come even as the CIA released papers purportedly showing that al-Qaeda and Tehran cut a deal to allow the jihadist group to route personnel through its territory. The negotiations are contained in a tranche of over 470,000 documents purported to have been recovered from slain al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden’s safehouse in Abbottabad, Pakistan. Instead of notifying Indian authorities of Asif’s arrest, Iranian officials handed him over to a narcotics trafficker who arranged for him to cross into Turkey along with five others, the documents show. In Istanbul, Asif claimed to be an illegal immigrant who had lost his passport, and succeeded in obtaining emergency documentation from the Indian consulate within days.

The case has drawn renewed attention because of fears that several Indian jihadists known to have been fighting with the Islamic State in Syria could be seeking to return home after the fall of its de-facto capital, Raqqa. “Iran’s apparent willingness to let some jihadists travel through its territory, as well as the ease with which emergency documentation was obtained by an individual whose travel records should have raised red flags, point to serious vulnerabilities of the system,” the official said.

Led into the ranks of al-Qaeda by fellow Sambhal resident Muhammad Usman, Delhi Police investigators allege, Asif travelled to Iran in May 2013 as part of a group of three recruits. The visa was obtained by falsely claiming to be a Shia pilgrim who wished to visit the mausoleum of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. The other two men travelling with him, Muhammad Sharjeel Akhtar and Mohammad Rehan, are sought by Delhi Police, but yet to return to India. In Tehran, a series of al-Qaeda affiliated traffickers arranged for their travel by bus and then car for a weeks-long journey through Zahedan, Pakistan’s Quetta, Afghanistan’s Ghazni province and then the jihadist stronghold of North Waziristan.

Late in June, Asif told interrogators, the men were met in the town of Miranshah — then al-Qaeda’s regional base, and the area where 26/11 perpetrator David Headley allegedly trained — by another Sambhal resident, Sayeed Akhtar. He was also to meet Sana-ul-Haq, an UP resident who authored several apocalyptic religious tracts under the pseudonym Asim Umar, and is now the head of al-Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent.

Asif’s testimony to police records that he met with several other Indians at al-Qaeda’s camp in Mirsanshah, including fugitive Indian Mujahideen operative Muhammad ‘Bada’ Sajid, and two men he knew only by the names ‘Imran’ and ‘Akhlaq’.

Following the formation of al-Qaeda’s South Asia unit in April 2014, police documents state, he was ordered to return to India, allegedly to help find recruits and set up operational units. Travelling again through Paktika, Ghazni and Zabul in Afghanistan, Asif reached the Pakistan-Iran border before heading to Zahedan, records show. There, however, the trafficker assigned to get him to Tehran pointed out that his visa had expired, making further travel hard.

In panic, Asif attempted to travel to Tehran on his own, hoping to get a fresh Indian passport from the Embassy, but was arrested by a police patrol searching for illegal immigrants. From prison, Asif told interrogators, he was taken to a civilian home, where he was met by civilian officials, likely from Iran’s intelligence services. “There, I disclosed that I was doing jihad against the United States of America to one Urdu-speaking Iranian officer,” he told police in transcripts seen by The Indian Express.

The transcript records Asif as saying that “Iranian officials kept my passport and told me that they would not send me to India from Tehran, as India was a friendly country”. Instead, he was handed over to a narcotics trafficker, who took him to Istanbul. Based on identification provided by Asif’s wife, India’s consulate in Istanbul accepted his claims to have been an illegal immigrant hoping to reach Europe, and provided emergency travel documents.

Like all individuals arriving on such certificates, Asif was questioned on arrival but his activities were not detected. “There are thousands of emergency travel certificates issued every year and tens of thousands of illegal immigrants from India all over the world. There’s just no system in place to subject each case to close verification,” said an official at the Ministry of External Affairs.

Important clues as to why Iranian authorities may have aided Asif appear in a 19-page document released by the CIA on Thursday. The author explains that Iran offered al-Qaeda arms, training and cash “in exchange for striking American interests in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf”. Iran is known to have negotiated safe passage and sanctuary with al-Qaeda for Islamist ideologue Mahfouz Ould al-Wali prior to 9/11, but the new document shows the deal fell apart after jihadists failed to keep their end.

The note’s author, however, explains to Bin Laden that the interests of al-Qaeda and Iran “intersect”. Bin Laden himself, an earlier tranche of Abbottabad documents show, underlined to his cadre that Iran was al-Qaeda’s “main artery for funds, personnel, and communication”. Even though his letters were abusive of Shia Islam, he emphasised that the convergence of interests allowed for cooperation.

Little information has, interestingly, been made available by Iran on the movements of at least 22 Kerala residents who joined the Islamic State’s affiliate in Afghanistan’s remote Nangarhar province last year. Though Indian intelligence services have established that the women, men and children flew from the UAE to Tehran, no investigative material was passed on about how the highly visible group transited through the country.

For years now, India’s intelligence services have known of Iran’s role as a transit hub for terrorists targeting the country but say it has been less than helpful on investigations. For example, Fahim Arshad Ansari, a Mumbai-born, Dubai-based printing-press worker held in 2008 on terrorism charges related to an attack in UP’s Rampur, is alleged to have been sent to a Lashkar-e-Taiba training facility in Pakistan through Iran’s Zahedan, using the services of transborder traffickers.

Investigation records of the case, obtained by The Indian Express, state that he trained at Bait ul-Mujahideen, the Lashkar’s headquarters in Muzaffarabad, in February 2007. He then travelled back to India through Nepal, using a Pakistani passport, and set himself up in Mumbai using the pseudonym Sahil Pavaskar.

Full report at:

http://indianexpress.com/article/india/iranian-spies-held-top-indian-al-qaeda-man-set-him-free-islamic-state-jihadi-4920187/

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Army jawan, terrorist killed in Pulwama encounter

M Saleem Pandit

Nov 2, 2017

SRINAGAR: A soldier of the Indian Army and a militant were killed in an encounter in Samboora area of south Kashmir's Pulwama district on Thursday evening. Earlier in the day, at least six Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel were injured when Hizbul Mujahideen and Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) militants attacked their convoy in Anantnag district.

Acting on a tip off about the presence of militants in Samboora village of Pampore, a joint team of the Indian Army, Special Operations Group of Jammu and Kashmir Police and CRPF personnel cordoned off the area and launched a search operation.

Soon after, the security forces fired some warning shots towards the suspected spot to which the militants retaliated, triggering off an encounter. In the ensuing firefight, one Army soldier and a militant were killed. Two more militants are still believed to be holed up in the area, said an official source.

DGP S P Vaid said the intermittent exchange of fire is still going on. Internet services have been snapped in the district as a precautionary measure.

Earlier in the day, at least six CRPF personnel were injured in a militant attack in south Kashmir's Anantnag district. Terror outfits Hizbul Mujahideen and LeT have claimed responsibility for the attack.

CRPF inspector general Zulfikar Hassan said, "The convoy comprising six buses was on its way to Mattan from Qazigund when militants fired at it. While three jawans sustained bullet injuries, the rest were wounded by broken glass. The personnel were hospitalised and are now stable."

Though the militants managed to escape, the area was cordoned off and a search operation launched to nab the culprits.

Claiming responsibility for the attack, Hizb operational spokesperson Burhanuddin said, "The deadly attack was carried out by the valiant militants of Hizb and LeT, leaving many Indian troopers either dead or wounded." Such attacks will continue across the Valley, he warned. LeT spokesperson Abdullah Ghaznavi reiterated the same in an emailed statement.

BJP youth president murdered in Shopian

The youth president of BJP in Shopian district — Gowhar Ahmad Bhat — was found dead with his throat slit and visible torture marks on his body in Kiloora area on Thursday. A resident of Bongam area in the district, Bhat had been associated with the party for over two years, said Altaf Thakur, BJP's media in-charge in Kashmir.

Full report at:

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/army-jawan-terrorist-killed-in-pulwama-encounter/articleshow/61470597.cms

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India frees 14 Pakistan citizens, neighbour returns favour

November 3, 2017

India on Thursday repatriated to Pakistan nine fishermen and four civilian prisoners along with a child, while Pakistan issued visas to over 2,600 Sikh pilgrims to attend the birth anniversary celebrations of Guru Nanak Dev from Thursday till November 11. All the prisoners crossed over to Pakistan through the land transit route of the Attari-Wagah border on the basis of emergency travel certificates issued by the Pakistan High Commission, officials said.

Asserting that it attaches high priority to addressing all humanitarian issues, including early release and repatriation of Indian fishermen and prisoners in Pakistan’s custody, the ministry of external affairs (MEA) said the release of 370 Indian prisoners — including 363 fishermen — has been secured in 2017.

“Nine fishermen and four civilian prisoners from Pakistan and a child were repatriated Thursday via the Attari/Wagah border,” an MEA statement said.

Full report at:

http://indianexpress.com/article/india/india-frees-14-pakistan-prisnores-sikh-pilgrims-guru-nanak-dev-anniversary-celebration-attari-wagah-border-4920117/

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Photo of Hizbul Mujahideen terrorist with US arms goes viral, probe launched

November 2, 2017

Security agencies have launched an investigation after a photograph showing a Hizbul Mujahideen terrorist brandishing a US-made AR-15 M4 rifle in an orchard in Kashmir went viral on social media. An intelligence officer said prime facie it looked like a “morphed” picture but “we are investigating the matter”. This is the first time a terrorist in Kashmir has been spotted with an AR-15 M4 rifle, widely used by the US Army in Iraq and Afghanistan wars.

The militants operating in Kashmir have mostly been using AK assault rifles — both Chinese and Russian made. A senior police official said there was nothing surprising about a Hizbul terrorist being spotted with a US rifle in the valley as weapons of all kinds are freely available in Pakistan’s FATA (Federally Administered Tribal Areas) region.

Full report at:

http://indianexpress.com/article/india/photo-of-hizbul-mujahideen-terrorist-with-us-arms-goes-viral-probe-launched-4919691/

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J&K govt suspends Hizbul chief Syed Salahuddin’s son from agriculture dept job

November 2, 2017

The Jammu and Kashmir government on Thursday suspended Hizbul Mujahideen chief Syed Salahuddin’s son Syed Shahid Yousuf from his agriculture department job, 10 days after he was arrested by the NIA in a terror-funding case, officials said. Yousuf, 42, was posted as agricultural assistant in Budgam of central Kashmir when he was arrested by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) on October 24.

The officials termed the suspension as routine. Every government servant is deemed to be suspended within 48 hours of his or her arrest under the civil services conduct rules. However, in this case, the state government had sought some clarifications from the NIA before issuing the order.

The order, which was issued today by Director of Agriculture Altaf Andrabi, said that Yousuf is deemed to have been suspended from the date of his arrest. Yousuf was arrested by the NIA in connection with a 2011 terror-funding case for allegedly receiving money from his father, who is currently based in Pakistan.

The NIA alleged that Yousuf used to receive funds through a US-based international wire transfer company from Aijaz Ahmed Bhat, another accused in the case who is absconding and based in Saudi Arabia. The NIA claimed he had received a total of nearly Rs 4.5 lakh through eight international wire transfers. The case, registered by the NIA in April 2011, relates to the transfer of money from Pakistan to Jammu and Kashmir through hawala channels via Delhi, which the agency believed was used in funding terrorism and secessionist activities.

The NIA has filed two charge sheets against six people including G M Bhat, a close aide of pro-Pakistan separatist Syed Ali Shah Geelani, Mohammed Siddiq Ganai, Ghulam Jeelani Liloo and Farooq Ahmed Dagga. All four are in judicial custody. Two others — Mohammed Maqbool Pandit and Bhat — also

Full report at:

http://indianexpress.com/article/india/jk-govt-suspends-hizbul-chief-syed-salahuddins-son-from-agriculture-dept-job/

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Consider plea to denotify SIMI as terror outfit: Delhi HC to Govt

November 2, 2017

The Delhi High Court has directed the Centre to consider an application seeking to denotify the Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) as a ‘terrorist organisation’. Justice Vibhu Bakhru noted that the application was made before the Centre on September 27 for denotification of SIMI as a terrorist organisation under the provisions of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) and said the decision be communicated to the petitioner within 30 days.

“… an application made under Section 36(1) of the UAPA is required to be considered and disposed of by the Central Government within a period of 45 days from the date of receipt of the said application.

“It is seen that the said period of 45 days has not expired as yet. In the circumstances, the respondent (Centre) is directed to consider the application and take a decision, if not already taken, on the petitioner’s application and communicate the same to the petitioner within a period of 30 days from now,” the court said in its order while disposing of the petition.

The petition, filed by former SIMI member Humam Ahmad Siddiqui, sought direction to the Centre to dispose of the application under the Prevention of Terrorism Act, 2002 or UAPA seeking to denotify SIMI in accordance with law.

The SIMI was declared a terrorist organisation under the provision of the Prevention of Terrorism Ordinance 2001, which was later replaced by the Prevention of Terrorism Act (POTA), 2002 and SIMI continued to be notified as a terrorist organisation, the court noted in the order. Thereafter, POTA was repealed and replaced by the UAPA.

Full report at:

http://indianexpress.com/article/india/consider-plea-to-denotify-simi-as-terror-outfit-delhi-hc-to-govt-4919621/

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Hardline preacher Zakir Naik finds refuge in Malaysia as politicised Islam grows

Nov 02, 2017

When Zakir Naik emerged from a prominent Malaysian mosque last month fans swarmed about him, seeking selfies with the Indian Muslim televangelist whose hardline views have sparked a criminal investigation back in his home country.

Accompanied by a bodyguard, Naik was making a rare public appearance at the Putra Mosque in Malaysia’s administrative capital, where the prime minister and his cabinet members often worship.

Naik, who has been banned in the UK, has been given permanent residency in Malaysia, and embraced by top government officials.

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

Support for a more politicised Islam has grown in recent years under Prime Minister Najib Razak, especially after he lost the popular vote in the 2013 general election — the ruling coalition’s worst-ever electoral performance.

Since then, his ruling party has been trying to appease an increasingly conservative ethnic Malay-Muslim base and religion has become a battleground ahead of elections the prime minister has to call by mid-2018.

Naik, a 52-year-old medical doctor, has triggered controversy with his puritan brand of Islam — recommending the death penalty for homosexuals and those who abandon Islam as their faith, according to media reports. A YouTube video shows Naik saying that if Osama bin Laden “is terrorizing America the terrorist, the biggest terrorist, I am with him”.

Last week, India’s counter-terrorism agency prepared charges against Naik, saying he has been “promoting enmity and hatred between different religious groups in India through public speeches and lectures.”

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

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

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

Facebook Photos

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

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

Malaysian Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi told parliament on Tuesday that Naik, who obtained permanent residency five years ago, was not being given “preferential treatment”.

“Over the time spent in this country, he has not broken any laws or regulations. As such, there is no reason from a legal standpoint to detain or arrest him,” Zahid said. The government has not received any official request from India “related to terrorism allegations involving him”, he added.

Zahid and the prime minister have both posted photos on Facebook of their meetings with Naik last year in Malaysia.

A group of Malaysian activists has filed suit in the High Court to deport Naik, saying he is a threat to public peace in the multi-racial society — about 40% of Malaysia’s population is non-Muslim. The group said it was unaware Naik had been going to the Putrajaya mosque — or where he might be in Malaysia.

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

Naik has in the past denied India’s allegations. In an interview with a Kuwaiti television channel in May, he said he was being targeted by the Hindu nationalist government of Narendra Modi because of his popularity.

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

Nine sultans

Islamic groups have stoked controversy for trying to impose their ethos in a multi-cultural country. Malaysian authorities cancelled a planned beer festival last month, citing security concerns, and for some years now international pop stars who wish to make appearances in Malaysia face restrictions over clothing and dancing.

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

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

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

To ensure Malay support, the government thinks it has “to have Islamic credentials just like PAS,” Farouk told Reuters. said. “Islam sells.”

Full report at:

http://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/hardline-preacher-zakir-naik-finds-refuge-in-malaysia-as-politicised-islam-grows/story-e6jGbRtKfGYQad3Qpj8sqL.html

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Southeast Asia       

 

Manila to Focus on Terrorism at Southeast Asian Summit, Urge Greater Cooperation

November 3, 2017

Manila. Two weeks ahead of a regional summit, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte on Thursday (02/11) urged greater cooperation to battle Islamist militancy, following military victories in Iraq, Syria and the southern Philippine city of Marawi.

Philippine Foreign Minister Alan Peter Cayetano said Duterte would discuss the fight against terrorism, a key priority, with Asean leaders and regional partners, including US President Donald Trump, gathering at a summit in Manila on Nov. 13.

"The defeat suffered by the Islamic State in Iraq, Syria, and the Philippines does not mean the fight is over," Cayetano said in a statement a day after an Islamic State-inspired attack in New York killed eight people and injured 11.

"The terrorist attacks in New York and other places abroad during the past several weeks tell us the threat remains real."

In Marawi, soldiers killed two pro-Islamic State gunmen and arrested an Indonesian militant a week after the army declared victory over the Maute group, which occupied large parts of the lakeside city for five months.

It was the biggest security crisis in years for the Roman Catholic-majority Philippines, triggering concerns the island of Mindanao could become a magnet for Islamic State fighters driven out of Iraq and Syria.

More than 1,100 people, mostly rebels, were killed in the battle and air strike have leveled the heart of the city of 200,000.

Six army battalions are still in the ruined city hunting the remaining militants, who number about 40, based on information from the captured Indonesian, said Colonel Romeo Brawner, deputy commander of a military task force.

Cayetano said the Philippines, during the Asean summit, want to deepen and strengthen its cooperation with allies, by stepping up efforts to share intelligence, training and build resources, among others.

Also on the summit agenda are North Korea's ballistic missile tests and nuclear weapons program, overlapping claims in the South China Sea and wider regional trade pacts.

The Philippines will urge its allies to step up efforts to hunt down Islamic State and affiliates worldwide. There are still two smaller pro-Islamic State militant groups in the southern Philippines.

http://jakartaglobe.id/international/manila-focus-terrorism-southeast-asian-summit-urge-greater-cooperation/

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Indonesia: Turning Back Rising Tide Of Radicalism

November 3, 2017

By Katharina R. Lestari and Ryan Dagur,

The son of moderate Muslim parents, Yaqut Cholil Qoumas has a strong conviction that Islam is a religion that upholds pluralism and peace.

The 42 year old inherited the outlook from his father, a respected member of Nahdlatul Ulama (NU), Indonesia’s largest moderate Islamic organization. Established in 1926, the Sunni group claims to be the largest Islamic organization in the world with 90 million members.

But as he grew older, Qoumas, who was born in Central Java, realized not all Muslims held similar tolerant beliefs. More and more radical groups began to emerge in Sunni-dominant Indonesia, posing a threat not only to the reputation of Islam but also broader society.

As a young man, he joined NU’s youth wing, Gerakan Pemuda Ansor, the front-line guardians of pluralist Islam and protectors of persecuted minorities, including Christians. It was established in 1934 and has three million members aged 20-40.

“We are brothers. But I firmly refuse to stay in touch with fellow Muslims who want to do evil,” said Qoumas who was appointed chairman of the organization in 2015.

“They shout Allahu Akbar (God is great), but they damage houses of worship and persecute minorities. As NU cadres, we have to fight groups like this,” he told ucanews.com.

Far-right extremist groups in the form of the Islamic Defenders Front are increasingly seeking political stages for their cause in Indonesia.

They succeeded in mobilizing thousands of people to rally against former Jakarta governor, Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama, a Chinese Christian who was seeking a second term.

Purnama was accused by the extremists of mocking a verse in the Koran and failed to win re-election in April 2017. In May, he was found guilty and sentenced to two years in prison for blasphemy and inciting violence.

On Sept. 29, the extremists were back on the streets again, this time accusing President Joko Widodo, an Ahok ally, of undermining democracy and religion through a decree banning mass galleries and supporting communists.

The allegations arose from mudslinging during the 2014 presidential campaign when Widodo was accused of being the son of former Communist Party members. About 15,000 hardliners joined the rally, which was also staged in support of opposition Islamic parties.

However, Quomas said their accusations were baseless, and hid a thinly veiled extremist agenda.

Helmy Faishal Zaini, the NU’s general secretary, said the existence of radical groups is a serious threat, making the task of moderate Muslims much tougher.

“This worries us, as these groups always try to find opportunities to show strength,” he said, adding that NU always discourages its members from joining such rallies.

The biggest challenge facing NU now is how to get rid of the so-called Islamic State which has at least 600 members in Indonesia.

One method is to promote Islam Nusantara, a concept introduced last year based on cultural and pluralist approaches, to spread peaceful Islam.

In November, the organization will start an education program for 1,000 Islamic preachers in Jakarta

Similar projects have already been undertaken. In May, Gerakan Pemuda Ansor launched the Humanitarian Islam movement to counter the views and doctrines of radical groups.

In cooperation with the government’s National Counter-terrorism Agency, the NU’s women’s wing Fatayat in April announced 500 preachers would deliver the anti-radicalism message to women and children.

“We will embrace more members. Our target is to get 5,000 preachers,” said Anggia Ermarini, Fatayat chairwoman.

She added they are taking an active role to prevent radical groups indoctrinating women and even children to be martyrs.

NU is also aware that extremists have used social media to recruit followers.

In 2016, the number of Indonesians using Facebook reached 71.6 million people, WhatsApp 35.8 million, Instagram 19.9 million and Line 37.6 million.

“We encourage our followers to use social media to preach,” Zaini said.

Ahmad Nurcholish, chairman of the Indonesian Conference on Peace and Religion’s education division, said the NU played on important role, but cooperation with other groups was needed for the correct message to get across.

“Cooperation among Muslim groups is irreplaceable because Muslim fundamentalists not only want to target young people, women and children but to control future leaders,” he said.

Full report at:

http://www.eurasiareview.com/03112017-indonesia-turning-back-rising-tide-of-radicalism/

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Batam radio station cleared of allegation it spreads IS propaganda

November 2, 2017

A Batam radio station that Singapore accused of spreading Islamic State (IS) group propaganda has been cleared of the allegation and was granted permission to continue operations.

The Riau Islands Broadcasting Commission (KPID) conducted a review of the contents aired by Hang FM and and found no evidence it was airing radical teachings espoused by the terrorist group.

“The accusation that was made by Singapore is no longer a problem,” KPID chairman Azwardi said recently.

The commission said Hang FM had changed its method of propagating Islam, adding that it was now more open and no longer promoting radical teachings. The radio station, it said, had repeatedly denounced terrorism in its programs.

Hang FM owner Zein Alatas said his radio station was committed to fighting radical teachings. 

The radio station held an off-air discussion on Aug. 30 themed "Developing Indonesia without Radicalism," presenting local members of National Police, the Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI) and KPID as speakers.

The radio station was forced to change its contents after being accused by many parties of spreading radical teachings, including Singaporean authorities, who said it spread extremist ideology and radicalized two of its citizens, who had been arrested under the Internal Security Act for allegedly trying to join the Islamic State (IS) group in Syria.

Full report at:

http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/11/02/batam-radio-station-cleared-of-allegation-it-spreads-is-propaganda.html

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Malaysian Islamic preacher seeks audience with Johor Ruler to defend himself

NOVEMBER 2, 2017

KUALA LUMPUR — A Malaysian Islamic preacher wants to seek an audience with Johor Ruler Sultan Ibrahim Iskandar and the Johor religious authorities after he was banned from preaching in the state.

Mr Haslin Baharim said he wanted to explain himself in case the Sultan had been given the wrong advice, leading to a decree on Wednesday (Oct 2) which prohibits the cleric and Zimbabwean Mufti Ismail Menk from giving religious talks in the southern state. He also hoped to meet Johor Islamic Religious Affairs Committee chairman Abdul Mutalip Abdul Rahim.

“I am confident that the Sultan of Johor is very open with his people, and very wise,” he told The Malaysian Insight.

“I don’t think I (have done anything) wrong, but maybe, there was a lack of information about me and my case. Anyway, I am sure of His Majesty’s wisdom.”

Johor banned Mr Haslin and Mr Menk — also known as Mufti Menk — from giving religious talks in the state, a day after Malaysia’s Deputy Prime Minister said Putrajaya has no issues with the clerics’ conduct.

It is the first state in Malaysia to bar the duo from giving religious talks.

Malaysia’s Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said on Tuesday that the country has no plans to follow Singapore’s footsteps in barring two preachers from giving talks as they have not violated any laws or promoted views detrimental to national harmony.

Johor’s decision mirrors the move by Singapore’s Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) who earlier this week banned Mr Haslin and Mr Menk from setting foot to Singapore after the authorities learned that the duo were to preach on an Islamic-themed cruise which will depart and end in Singapore from Nov 25 to 29.

The authorities had previously rejected the two men’s miscellaneous work pass applications to preach in Singapore, added MHA.

Having been known to preach “segregationist and divisive teachings”, MHA said that Mr Menk for instance, has propagated that it is the “biggest sin and crime” for a Muslim to exchange Merry Christmas or Happy Deepavali greetings with non-Muslims.

MHA also noted that Mr Haslin has expressed views that promote disharmony between Muslims and non-Muslims, who he describes as “deviant”.

Mr Haslin denied allegations that his talks had caused a split in society, saying if such claims were true, he would have been restricted from preaching much earlier.

“I am an independent preacher. I go where I am invited to give talks. I am not aligned with political parties or civil society organisations. I don’t belong to any party. When I speak, I rarely touch on politics,” he said.

“When I take questions, I give answers based on what Islamic law says. Like issues concerning insults against Islam and the Prophet. As a preacher, I have to defend the religion, and that can’t be taken as causing a divide among the people.”

Mr Haslin has a wide following on YouTube and social media due to his creative approach in delivering religious sermons, which earned him the nickname “Ustaz Bollywood”.

Full report at:

http://www.todayonline.com/world/asia/malaysian-islamic-preacher-seeks-audience-johor-ruler-defend-himself

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Singapore govt told to focus on overseas trips to hear Muslim preachers

November 3, 2017

SINGAPORE: Malay-Muslim community leaders here want the authorities to not just ban exclusivist foreign preachers from entering Singapore but to regulate overseas trips organised by religious institutions to attend sermons or lectures by such preachers.

Today Online quoted Dr Mohamed Ali, the vice-chairman of the Religious Rehabilitation Group, as saying the authorities should consider regulating overseas trips by mosques and private Islamic organisations for Singaporeans to attend lectures by foreign preachers.

Dr Mohamed, an assistant professor at the S Rajaratnam School of International Studies, added: “I can see the importance of having such a system in place, where you need to get clearance before conducting such trips. But will it be effective or not, is another question.”

The report said a local religious teacher, who declined to be named, agreed it could be an additional solution to curb access to radical or exclusivist teachings.

“Perhaps, it would be wise for the authorities to study it. With the current environment we’re in, there is a need to explore all options and try to plug as many gaps as we can,” the man was quoted as saying.

The report said, at present, mosques and private Islamic institutions did not need any clearance from the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (Muis) to conduct such trips, which were an occasional affair.

Allaudin Mohamed, vice-chairman of Geylang Serai Inter-Racial and Religious Confidence Circle, questioned the effectiveness of any move to regulate foreign trips to listen to preachers.

“The government cannot stop people if they want to go abroad,” Today Online quoted him as saying.

Dr Mohamed, meanwhile, noted that the Internet had allowed people to hear from religious preachers, without having to be physically present at their lectures or sermons.

The report said even with one avenue cut off, there were other channels – such as social media and YouTube – available for followers to access the teachings of various preachers.

On Oct 30, Singapore authorities announced that two foreign Islamic preachers known for their divisive views — Zimbabwean Ismail Menk, who is better known as Mufti Menk, and Malaysian Haslin Baharim — had been banned from entering Singapore.

Two days later, Johor barred both preachers from giving religious talks there, even though Malaysia’s federal government said it had no issues with the preachers’ conduct.

A Singapore ministry of home affairs representative told Today Online that preachers with divisive and extremist teachings would not be allowed in Singapore “regardless of the faith they represent”. Two foreign Christian preachers were recently denied entry here as they had made denigrating comments about other faiths.

They are also studying ways to tighten the process to keep such preachers from entering Singapore to spread their teachings.

Muis said it was “committed to ensuring that Islamic instruction and guidance for the Singaporean Muslim community is appropriate and consistent with the Singaporean context and the values of the Singaporean Muslim identity”.

Full report at:

http://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/nation/2017/11/03/regulate-overseas-trips-to-hear-foreign-preachers-singapore-malays-tell-govt/

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A loss to ban Mufti Menk, ‘Ustad Bollywood’, says PAS

Mohamad Fadli

November 2, 2017

KUALA LUMPUR: PAS hopes the Johor government will listen to the lectures of Zimbabwe grand mufti Ismail Menk and Malaysian Haslin Baharim before banning them from giving talks in the state.

The party’s vice president, Idris Ahmad, said the ban was a loss to Johor.

“I don’t know why they were banned. The principle should be to listen to their lectures first.

“If their teachings caused disunity or undesirable polemics, we should call them up to advise them,” Idris told reporters after lodging a police report at the Sentul district police headquarters here today.

Johor yesterday banned Menk and Haslin, who is popularly known as “Ustad Bollywood”, from giving religious talks in the state.

Executive councillor for religion Abd Mutalip Abd Rahim was quoted by Berita Harian as saying the ban was ordered by state ruler Sultan Ibrahim Sultan Iskandar on the grounds that the views of the two preachers could harm racial unity and harmony.

The Johor ban came a day after the Singapore government disallowed Menk and Haslin from entering the city state to lecture on board a cruise ship.

The republic’s home ministry said Menk had been known to preach “segregationist and divisive teachings”, such as calling it a sin and crime for a Muslim to wish a non-Muslim Merry Christmas or Happy Deepavali.

Haslin was said to have described non-Muslims as “deviant”.

However, deputy prime minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said the Malaysian government had no problems with the two preachers giving talks in the country as it had found nothing wrong with their speeches.

In a statement to defend Menk, a group of religious scholars in Zimbabwe explained that the preacher encouraged Muslims to offer neutral greetings such as “Happy Holidays”, “Seasons Greetings” and “Have a Good Day”, instead of “Merry Christmas”.

Full report at:

http://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/nation/2017/11/02/a-loss-to-ban-mufti-menk-ustad-bollywood-says-pas/

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Indonesia takes ultra-nationalist turn against Islamic populism

3rd November 2017

AFTER banning Islamist organisation Hizb ut-Tahrir Indonesia (HTI) through a decree in July 2017, Indonesia has now moved to codify in law government power to summarily disband community organisations deemed to be against Pancasila, the country’s state ideology.

On Oct 24, of 445 lawmakers present, 314 members from seven factions agreed to approve a regulation in lieu of law on community organisation (Perppu Ormas). Some 131 members from three opposition factions objected.

HTI was one of the Islamist organisations that rallied against the former Jakarta governor, Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama, for his comments on Islam. Ahok is now in jail after being convicted of blasphemy.

A battle of extremes

The Perppu Ormas serves as a political tool for President Joko Widodo’s administration. Jokowi, as the president is commonly called, is wary of the rise of Islamic populism. He has seen how it managed to mobilise large numbers of the Muslim community to bring down Ahok, a Christian Chinese-Indonesian widely seen as clean and competent by the Jakarta electorate.

Unable to rely on pluralist or tolerant Islam – which is poorly organised and lacks a large social or political base – it seems that Jokowi’s administration views ultra-nationalism as the answer to rising Islamic populism in Indonesia.

In arguing for the Perppu Ormas, the government used militaristic language: “a threat to the Unitary State of the Republic of Indonesia (NKRI)”, or “national alert” (kewaspadaan nasional). The military under Soeharto’s New Order regime commonly used these phrases to justify repressive approaches.

At this point, a return to military involvement in Indonesian politics is unlikely and would be unpopular. But the military clearly sees the Perppu as an opportunity to claw back some influence in political life. Several high-ranking military personnel have publicly supported it.

Pancasila orthodoxy

Since the declaration of independence in 1945, the relationship between Islam and the Indonesian state has been a constant source of debate.

In June 1945, leaders of the independence movement produced The Jakarta Charter, a document that laid out the first draft of the country’s founding principle, Pancasila. The charter included an obligation for Muslims to follow Islamic law.

But the country’s first president, Sukarno, deleted this, restating Pancasila’s first principle as “Belief in God Almighty”. Sukarno moved to embrace other religious communities, particularly in the eastern islands, with the aim of preventing them from making their own demands for independence.

This lack of clear acknowledgement in the Constitution of the dominance of Islam became a grievance among some Muslim communities. In 1949, the radical Darul Islam movement emerged in West Java, calling for Islam to be recognised as the basis of the state. It gained popularity in Aceh, South Sulawesi and South Kalimantan. Sukarno ordered military operations to dissolve the movement, resulting in an estimated 16,000 to 40,000 deaths.

Under Soeharto, the military and Islamic groups worked closely together once again in the early days of the New Order to kill or imprison alleged communists.

Islamic groups had expectations of being offered political space in the regime. Instead, Suharto’s regime forced Islamic groups to unite in one political party, the United Development Party (PPP), which it tightly controlled.

The New Order also promoted Pancasila as “the single principle” for the country. Political and social organisations, including Islamic organisations, had no choice but to accept Pancasila as their ideological basis.

Religion is compulsory for all citizens, but this, too, followed Pancasila orthodoxy. Pancasila was used as a means to establish control, eliminating both the now banned Indonesian Communist Party (PKI) and Islamist movements as sources of contested power.

Suharto continued using the military to suppress dissent. The military was not only in charge of state security from foreign threats but also was involved in socio-political affairs through the so-called military’s dual roles (dwi-fungsi). The military repressed groups it saw as not adhering to Pancasila. This often involved violent means, such as the Tanjung Priok massacre in 1984, which resulted in more than 400 casualties.

The fall of Soeharto’s New Order in 1998 ushered in press freedom, multiparty democracy, the end of the military’s role in politics, and the lifting of restrictions on civil rights.

Today, there has been greater expression of Islam in everyday life. Diverse forms of political Islam – from liberal to radical – have emerged.

Lessons from the past

While HTI’s platform is considered intolerant and undemocratic, it is still important not to ignore the lessons of the past simply to keep the current administration in power.

It might serve short-term goals for Jokowi. But the Perppu could have serious implications for the future of Indonesian democracy.

The Perppu ignores a legal process that is the base of democracy by giving the government the authority to disband any community organisation without trial. The Perppu as a legal product could be used like a “gun” being pointed to any direction depending on the interest of the “gun holder”. Even human rights defenders could be potential targets as seen in the attempt to disband the Jakarta Legal Aid Institute.

Full report at:

https://asiancorrespondent.com/2017/11/indonesia-takes-ultra-nationalist-turn-islamic-populism/#wiQcrQmwo3DTOtSo.97

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Pakistan

 

Security bodies role to continue in national interest, say commanders

Baqir Sajjad Syed

November 03, 2017

ISLAMABAD: Military co­m­­manders emphasised on Thursday that Pakistan’s on­going counterterrorism cam­paign would continue to be driven by national interest.

“The forum concluded that security apparatus shall continue to perform its role in line with national interest,” military’s public affairs division said after a meeting of the corps commanders at the General Headquarters, without elaborating whether it meant an intensification of current operations.

The meeting was presided over by Army Chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa, according to the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR).

The military’s top brass took the decision after deliberating on US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s visit to Islamabad and other engagements with the Trump adm­inistration over the past couple of months and Gen Bajwa’s meeting with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani.

The future trajectory of counterterrorism actions was also on the meeting’s agenda.

“Internal security situation, progress of ongoing counterterrorism operations and its projection to achieve enduring peace and stability were discussed,” the ISPR said.

Secretary Tillerson, during his meeting with Pakistani leaders, which was also attended by Gen Bajwa, had conveyed the Trump administration’s demand for action against terrorist groups that have allegedly taken refuge in safe havens on Pakistani soil. The two sides had agreed on intelligence sharing and coordination in their counterterrorism actions.

The Trump administration, it is said, has provided a list of terrorist groups and suspected terrorists to Pakistan, which are believed to be operating along the Pak-Afghan border.

Briefing the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee on his visit to Pakistan, Mr Tillerson told American lawmakers that “Pakistanis have indicated — if we provide them information, they will act. We’re going to have to test that, give them an opportunity to do so… so, we are going to enter into an effort to have greater sharing of certain intelligence information”.

Earlier this month, Pakistani troops acted on intelligence provided by US and rescued American national Caitlan Coleman, her husband Joshua Boyle and their children. The rescue operation was celebrated as an indication of resumed cooperation between the US and Pakistan.

President Trump, while hailing the recovery of the American family, said: “The Pakistani government’s cooperation is a sign that it is honouring America’s wish that it do more to provide security in the region. … They worked very hard on this and I believe they are starting to respect the United States again.”

Meanwhile, talking about development projects in the militancy-hit area, Gen Bajwa told his commanders that there would be enhanced focus on similar socio-economic development efforts in Balochistan as part of effort to consolidate operational gains.

https://www.dawn.com/news/1368092/security-bodies-role-to-continue-in-national-interest-say-commanders

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FO summons envoy over Dhaka’s offensive protest note

November 03, 2017

ISLAMABAD: The diplomatic row between Pakistan and Bangladesh over a controversial video clip on social media continued to simmer on Thursday as the Foreign Office summoned the Bangladeshi envoy to receive a demarche over the language of Dhaka’s protest note.

“In order to register our protest on the use of undiplomatic language in a Note Verbale, on an incident of obscure origin, the High Commissioner of Bangladesh in Islamabad was summoned by Director General (South Asia & Saarc) to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs today,” the FO said in a statement.

The video clip, which was posted on the Facebook account of the Pakistan High Commission in Dhaka, contained Mujeebur Rehman’s interview that suggested he wanted autonomy not separation from Pakistan. The clip annoyed the Bangladesh government, which rejected it as a distortion of history.

A diplomatic protest note that was handed over to Pakistan’s High Commissioner in Dhaka by the host foreign ministry contained undiplomatic assertions, according to the FO. While the entire letter was laced with inconsiderate comments, the harshest was probably a reference to the events of 1971.

“Bangladesh’s long freedom movement culminated in the declaration of independence by Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman on 26 March 1971 and Pakistan’s subsequent surrender at Dhaka on 16 December 1971,” the note said.

Bangladesh’s high commissioner was told that Pakistan’s mission in Dhaka could not be blamed for the posting of the video clip, which was done by an unidentified “third party”.

The Bangladeshi envoy was told that Pakistan wanted friendly bilateral ties in accordance with the Tripartite Agreement of 1974, which provided for a fresh start after forgetting the bitter past.

Speaking at the weekly media briefing, the new FO spokesman, Dr Muhammad Faisal, who also heads the South Asia directorate, said the Pakistani government expected Bangladesh to adhere to the tripartite agreement.

The current tense phase in relations has roots in a 2009 move by the government of Prime Minister Hasina Wajid to resume the trials of 1971 “war crimes” that had been suspended after the tripartite accord. Five Bengali leaders, who had opposed the creation of Bangladesh, have since been executed after “trials for war crimes”.

Human rights groups have raised serious questions about the fairness of these “war crimes trials”.

Chabahar port

Dr Faisal also played down concerns about India making operational a trade route to Afghanistan through Iran’s Chabahar port.

“It is our consistent position that Afghanistan as a landlocked country has a right of transit access through any neighbouring country according to its needs. Transport of wheat and other commodities to Afghanistan is nothing new, as Pakistan has been traditionally providing goods to Afghanistan,” the spokesman said.

Earlier this week, India sent its first shipment of wheat to Afghanistan via Chabahar port. It was seen as a bid to bypass Pakistan which lies between India and Afghanistan, but does not allow transportation of Indian goods.

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani had last week, while visiting India, again warned that his government could block Pakistan’s access to Central Asia, if Islamabad did not allow Indo-Afghan trade through Wagah-Attari border.

Full report at:

https://www.dawn.com/news/1368102/fo-summons-envoy-over-dhakas-offensive-protest-note

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IS graffiti found on State Bank wall in Rawalpindi

Mohammad Asghar

November 03, 2017

RAWALPINDI:  The police have launched an investigation and registered a case against unidentified persons after noticing the name of the so-called Islamic State (IS) written in chalk on the rear wall of the State Bank of Pakistan’s building in Saddar on Thursday.

The wall chalking in the high security area in Rawalpindi alerted the police and intelligence agencies who removed it and started looking for those responsible after registering a case against unknown persons.

A police official told Dawn the police were unable to get footage of the culprits from the CCTV cameras in the nearby buildings.

He said the offence on which the case was registered with the Civil Lines police was non-bailable under the Punjab Prohibition of Expressing Matters on Walls Act 1995.

In September, a flag similar to that of IS was found hoisted in the outskirts of the federal capital territory. The Counter Terrorism Department and intelligence agencies have not been able to track down the miscreants yet.

Full report at:

https://www.dawn.com/news/1368079/is-graffiti-found-on-state-bank-wall-in-rawalpindi

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OBL had no help from state elements in Pakistan: CIA files

NOVEMBER 3, 2017

LAHORE: Since the 2011 raid that took out the al Qaeda head honcho, there had been much speculation in the Western world on whether Osama bin Laden had support from within the Pakistani security establishment to hide at stone’s throw from a top military academy.

America’s Central Intelligence Agency, or CIA, rummaged through a treasure trove of document seized from bin Laden’s compound but couldn’t find anything that might suggest the world’s most wanted terrorist had any support from the establishment.

The al Qaeda chief was killed in a secret raid by US Special Forces at his compound near the Pakistan Military Academy Kakul in Abbottabad on May 2, 2011.

The controversial raid, denounced by Pakistan as violation of its sovereignty, triggered intense speculation that the world’s No 1 terrorist had support from elements in the Pakistani security establishment.

The CIA released nearly 470,000 additional files recovered during the Abbottabad raid, revealing a lot of new information about the terrorist group.

There is a lot of interest in whether these documents contain details about the people who were helping or supporting the ‘most wanted man in the world’ while he was residing in the country.

Pakistan’s role in the war on terror, and the help American forces have received in the capture of some senior al Qaeda operatives down the years, has swayed US administrations in the past.

But there have also been concerns that there is a state-sponsored militant support group which helps terrorists like bin Laden take shelter in the country.

Despite speculations, there is little evidence to lend credence to the claims that there were elements within the Pakistani security establishment who helped the al Qaeda chief reside in the country.

However, a meticulous review of the newly released documents might shed some light on this matter in the coming days.

According to The New York Times, one of bin Laden’s trusted associates, whose mobile phone was seized during the raid, apparently had some contacts with the Harkatul Mujahideen group, a banned militant outfit which operates in the border region between Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Al Qaeda has actively helped anti-state terrorist groups inside Pakistan wage a war on its government and citizens from across the border in Afghanistan. And some newly released files decry Pakistan’s betrayal of the militants after the terrorist attacks of September 11, and supposedly point the incident as the turning point in the relationship between the two. Although the members of US Special Forces took everything they could from the compound, there was some intelligence left behind which was scooped up by local law enforcement officials, which have not been made public.

Whatever the verdict, the released documents do offer a unique chance for journalists, experts, academics and public intellectuals to garner a better understanding of the inner workings of al Qaeda.

Meanwhile, a foreign news agency reported that the CIA’s release of documents again raised questions about Iran’s support of the extremist network leading up to the September 11 terror attacks.

US intelligence officials and prosecutors have long said Iran formed loose ties to the terror organisation from 1991 on, something noted in a 19-page report in Arabic that was included in the release of some 47,000 other documents.

Full report at:

https://dailytimes.com.pk/133953/obl-no-help-state-elements-pakistan-cia-files/

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Sir Aga Khan III: Remembering a great Muslim leader

By RIZWAN JAMIL'

November 3, 2017

A pioneer of the Pakistan Movement, Sir Sultan Mahomed Shah Aga Khan III was born on November 2, 1877. During the freedom struggle, Sir Aga Khan III served as an effective mediator between the western world and the Muslim leaders of the sub-continent. Being a world-renowned personality, he was involved in matters related to political rehabilitation, health, education and social development of Muslims world over. Sir Aga Khan III was the 48th Imam of the Shia Ismaili Muslims and the grandfather of the present Imam Prince Karim Aga Khan.

With his strong belief about education being the ultimate tool to empower the Muslims of the sub-continent, he built educational institutions for the intellectual, social and economic development of the Muslims. In the year 1902, at the young age of 25 years, he was nominated a member of the Imperial Legislative Council by Lord Curzon, the Viceroy. A strong advocate of female education, he established more than 200 schools in Asia and Africa during the 20th century. Today, the Aga Khan Education Service runs 182 schools across Pakistan catering to more than 38,000 students.

During his presidential address at the Mohammadan Educational Conference in Delhi in 1902, Sir Aga Khan III emphasised the need for a Muslim university in order to combat the crumbling Muslim political power in India.

“We want to create for our people an intellectual capital – a city that shall be a home of elevated ideals, a centre from which light and guidance shall be diffused amongst the Muslims of India and out of India too, and [that] shall hold up to the world model standard of justice and virtue and purity of our faith,” he said.

To this end, Sir Aga Khan III helped establish the Aligarh University. With his untiring efforts, he was able to collect three million rupees for the university, and personally donated one hundred thousand rupees for the cause. Paying his homage to the work of Sir Aga Khan III, the renowned writer of “Seerat-Un-Nabi” Allama Shibli Nomani once wrote, “That which could not be achieved by 60 million Muslims was accomplished by Prince Aga Khan”.

Sir Aga Khan III played a pivotal role in the Pakistan Movement. On October 1, 1906, he led a distinguished delegation of 35 Muslim leaders to Simla and presented a memorandum on behalf of the Muslims of the Sub-Continent. He raised concerns relating to the treatment of Muslims under the British rule, and the domination of Congress majority. He urged the British viceroy that the Muslims must be accepted and respected as a separate nation and should be given sufficient rights of representation. After the success of the Simla Deputation, the All India Muslim League was established in 1906, and Sir Aga Khan III was chosen as its first president for a term of 6 years.

Sir Aga Khan III was also nominated as the leader of the Muslims at the Round Table Conference in London. Commenting on Sir Aga Khan III’s services, Allama Iqbal said, “We have placed these demands before the Conference under the guidance of His Highness the Aga Khan; that worthy of statesman whom we all admire and whom the Muslims of India love for the blood that runs through the veins.”

Sir Aga Khan III was also the representative for India in the Disarmament Conference. He was unanimously elected as chairman of the League of Nations, a precursor to the modern United Nations. His efforts allowed for the inclusion of countries such as Turkey, Iraq, Afghanistan and Egypt in the League of Nations.

Sir Aga Khan III always viewed Islam as a global religion and worked towards promoting unity and understanding among Muslims globally.

Full report at:

https://tribune.com.pk/story/1548401/1-sir-aga-khan-iii-remembering-great-muslim-leader/

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Arab World

 

Daesh executed 741 civilians during Mosul liberation battle: UN

Nov 2, 2017

The United Nations says members of Daesh Takfiri terrorist group executed 741 civilians during a nine-month military campaign by Iraqi army forces and pro- government fighters from the Popular Mobilization Units to retake the strategic northern city of Mosul from the extremists.

The UN rights office, in a report released on Thursday, said that a total of 2,521 civilians were killed, mostly by Daesh attacks, during the battle, accusing the terrorists of perpetrating “international crimes” in Mosul, located some 400 kilometers north of the capital Baghdad.

“Those responsible must answer for their heinous crimes,” said United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein.

On July 10, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi formally declared victory over Daesh extremists in Mosul, which served as the terrorists’ main urban stronghold in the conflict-ridden Arab country.

In the run-up to Mosul's liberation, Iraqi army soldiers and volunteer fighters from the Popular Mobilization Units, commonly known by their Arabic name, Hashd al-Sha’abi, had made sweeping gains against Daesh.

The Iraqi forces took control of eastern Mosul in January after 100 days of fighting, and launched the battle in the west on February 19.

The UN rights office also emphasized on Thursday that it had compiled witness testimonies documenting “mass abductions of civilians, the use of thousands as human shields, the intentional shelling of civilian residences, and indiscriminate targeting of civilians trying to flee Mosul.”

More than 800,000 people were displaced by the fighting, it pointed out.

Violence claimed 114 Iraqi lives in October: UN

Latest figures released by the United Nations show that acts of terrorism and violence left more than one hundred people dead in Iraq in October as Iraqi forces were trying to expel Daesh terrorist from their last bastions in the country.

According to the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI), a total of 114 Iraqi civilians lost their lives and 244 others were injured last month.

The worst-affected area, with the highest number of casualties, was the capital province of Baghdad, where violence took the lives of 39 civilians and left 139 others wounded.

The troubled western province of Anbar saw 36 deaths and 55 injuries. Eighteen people also died and 33 others were wounded in Iraq’s oil-rich northern province of Kirkuk.

http://www.presstv.com/Detail/2017/11/02/540755/Daesh-executed-741-civilians-during-Mosul-liberation-battle-UN

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Syrian Army Regains Control of New Regions in Northern Hama

Nov 02, 2017

The army units engaged in heavy clashes with the al-Nusra terrorists at borders between the two provinces of Hama and Idlib, retaking control of the village of al-Forkeh.

Also, the artillery units of the Syrian army targeted the al-Nusra Front's moves in Western Salamiyeh last night, leaving tens of terrorists dead and wounded.

In a relevant development on Wednesday, the Syrian Army troops pushed the al-Nusra Front back from more territories in Northern Hama, coming further close to the Hama province's administrative border with terrorist-held province of Idlib in Northwestern Syria, field sources confirmed.

The sources said that the army forces captured a number of regions in Northern Hama, including Mosheirefeh Abu Lefeh, Jubb al-Jamlan, Rasm Abu Mayal, deployed in regions parallel to Idlib's border.

The sources further said that tens of al-Nusra have been killed in the army operation in Northern Hama, backed up by the heavy fire of artillery units and Syrian Air Forces' attacks.

Full report at:

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13960811000784

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Daesh atrocities in Iraq’s Mosul ‘intl. crimes’, must be tried by ICC: UN

Nov 2, 2017

The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) says the atrocities committed by Daesh Takfiri terrorist group during its reign of terror in the Iraqi city of Mosul are “international crimes,” urging Baghdad to accept the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court (ICC) over the crimes.

A 52-page report compiled by the OHCHR, with the help of the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI), said on Thursday that Iraqi courts currently did not have jurisdiction over atrocities such as genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes committed by Daesh against the residents of the northern city.

It also called on Baghdad to introduce amendments to Iraqi Criminal Law to grant jurisdiction to domestic courts over international crimes and to accept the ICC’s jurisdiction with respect to the specific situation Iraq is experiencing.

The report, which was published on Thursday, particularly focused on the crimes committed by members of the terror outfit during nine months of fierce battle between city-based Daesh terrorists and government forces. The offensive commenced in October last year and lasted until July this year, resulting in the total liberation of Mosul from the grips of the Daesh terror group.

“Daesh’s reign of terror has spared no one, inflicting untold suffering on unarmed residents whose only guilt is that they lived in the areas under ISIL (Daesh) control. Their evil acts did not stop at killing and terrorizing residents, as they wantonly destroyed cultural and religious monuments, including the city’s iconic leaning minaret, al-Hadba, in total disregard of history and Islam,” the report said.

The UN report also detailed various crimes the terror group committed against the desperate residents of Mosul, saying the information was mostly obtained directly from “the victims, survivors, or witnesses of violations and abuses of international human rights law and/or violations of international humanitarian law.”

It also said that more than 2,500 people lost their lives during the nine months of the battle to liberate Mosul and 137,339 families (824,034 individuals) were displaced in the same period.

Full report at:

http://www.presstv.com/Detail/2017/11/02/540754/Iraq-UN-Mosul-Daesh-international-crimes-ICC

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Hama: Hundreds of Terrorists Join Al-Nusra to Prevent Syrian Army Advance

Nov 02, 2017

News websites affiliated to the terrorist groups reported on Wednesday that after the Syrian army advanced in the Northeastern parts of Hama and regained controlled of several regions, hundreds of FSA members entered battle against the army soldiers along with the al-Nusra terrorists.

They added that two groups of Jeish al-Izza and Jeish Idlib Hor, affiliated to the FSA, have united with al-Nusra.

Meantime, the FSA-linked Ferqat al-Wosta group has also engaged in clashes with the Syrian army in Northeastern Hama.

In a relevant development on Wednesday, the Syrian army troops stormed the defense lines of al-Nusra Front in Northern Hama, and imposed control over two more regions.

The army soldiers captured the villages of Mosheirefh Advan and Mosheirefeh Mowayleh Northwest of the town of Sheikh Hilal.

Full report at:

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13960811000472

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Syrian Army on Verge of Full Cleansing of Deir Ezzur

Nov 02, 2017

The army forces continued purging operations in the remaining districts of Deir Ezzur city on Thursday, winning back control of al-Badr farms in the city and advancing towards al-Takaya street in Sheikh Yasin district after clashes with the terrorists.

Meantime, heavy clashes are underway in al-Hamidiyeh district between the Syrian army troops and the ISIL terrorists.

A military source said only the two districts of Sheikh Yasin and al-Arazi and certain parts of al-Hamidiyeh, al-Roshdiyeh and al-Huwaiqiyeh have remained under the occupation of ISIL militants after the Syrian army's recent advances in Deir Ezzur city.

In a relevant development on Wednesday, the Syrian army troops struck ISIL's positions in Deir Ezzur city again, imposing control over two more neighborhoods in a part of city that is still in terrorists' hands.

The army men drove ISIL out of the old airport and al-Rasafeh neighborhoods in Deir Ezzur city.

The army's operation inflicted major losses on the ISIL.

Full report at:

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13960811000353

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Over 200 Gunmen Receive Gov't Amnesty in Northeastern Aleppo

Nov 02, 2017

The militants, who endorsed the peace agreement with the Syrian Army in the town of Manbij, received government amnesty from the peace committee on Thursday and returned to normal life.

In a relevant development last month, over 100 members of the Free Syrian Army (FSA) that laid down arms and applied for amnesty were pardoned by Damascus, the Russian Reconciliation Center for Syria reported.

Full report at:

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13960811000371

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Army Forces Discover ISIL's Large Arms Cache in Eastern Hama

Nov 02, 2017

The engineering units of the Syrian army discovered the cache during purging operations in the village of Rasm al-Awamid in Eastern Hama on Thursday.

The depot contained a large amount of explosives, including monophosphate, sodium carbonate, barrels which contained white alcohol powder and flammable nitrogen as well as several barrels of TNT and C4.

Meantime, the Syrian army units seized a large number of hand-made weapons and missiles of the ISIL.

In a relevant development on Wednesday, the Syrian Army troops advanced further against the al-Nusra (Tahrir al-Sham Hay'at or the Levant Liberation Board) in Northern Hama on Wednesday, inching closer to the key bastion of the terrorists.

The army deployed 6 km away from the town of al-Rahjan, the most important base of Al-Nusra in Northern Hama, after taking control over the towns along the road connecting the towns of Ithriya and Sheikh Hilal to each other.

In the meantime, the Russian Air Force pounded the Al-Nusra positions in the towns of al-Rahjan, al-Hamdamiyeh and Zaqbar in Wadi al-Azib region along road to Ithriya.

The Syrian army is planning to restore security to the roads that connect Hama to Homs and later secure the road to Raqqa.

Full report at:

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13960811000547

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Syria in Past 24 Hours: ISIL's Presence in Deir Ezzur City Ending

Nov 02, 2017

Deir Ezzur

The army men drove ISIL out of the old airport and al-Rasafeh neighborhoods in Deir Ezzur city.

The army's operation inflicted major losses on the ISIL.

The army's engineering units started defusing bombs and landmines in the newly-liberated neighborhoods as soon as their liberation. 

Also in the past 24 hours, the Syrian Army troops engaged in tough battle with ISIL in the remaining terrorist-held neighborhoods in Deir Ezzur city, imposing control over more areas.

The army men continued their advances from al-Omal neighborhood and seized control of Qasan Aboud square near the Khasarat neighborhood and al-Soyouf square.

Also, the army men won back Moqhi al-Jandul crossroad.

A large number of ISIL terrorists have been killed or wounded in the street battle.

The army men have established a safe corridor to evacuate civilians from ISIL-held neighborhoods.

Also on Wednesday, the Syrian Army soldiers continued the Valfajr 3 operation in Southwestern Deir Ezzur, advancing further towards ISIL-held regions at border with Iraq.

The army men engaged in fierce clashes with ISIL terrorists within the framework of the Valfajr 3 operation East of the newly-liberated T2 oil pumping station, advancing 11 km more towards the key town of Albu Kamal near border with Iraq.

ISIL suffered heavy casualties and its military hardware sustained major damage in the operation.

Also in the past 24 hours, Russian strategic Tu-22M3 bombers, which were covered by Su-30SM fighters deployed at the Hmeimim airbase in Latakia, launched an airstrike on ISIL targets in Syria, according to the country's Defense Ministry's statement.

"Six long-range Tu-22M3 bombers took off from the territory of Russia that flew over the territory of Iran and Iraq have launched a massive airstrike on the terrorist targets near the city of Abu Kemal in the Deir Ezzur province," the statement said.

Russian reconnaissance means have confirmed the destruction of terrorists' fortified areas, arms and ammunition depots, the statement said.

Hama

The Syrian Army troops stormed the defense lines of Al-Nusra Front (Tahrir al-Sham Hay'at or the Levant Liberation Board) in Northern Hama, and imposed control over two more regions.

The army soldiers captured the villages of Mosheirefh Advan and Mosheirefeh Mowayleh Northwest of the town of Sheikh Hilal.

The Al-Nusra suffered heavy casualties and its military equipment sustained major damage in the attack.

Also on Wednesday, the Syrian Army troops pushed the Al-Nusra Front back from more territories in Northern Hama, coming further close to the Hama province's administrative border with terrorist-held province of Idlib in Northwestern Syria, field sources confirmed.

The sources said that the army forces captured a number of regions in Northern Hama, including Mosheirefeh Abu Lefeh, Jubb al-Jamlan, Rasm Abu Mayal, deployed in regions parallel to Idlib's border.

The sources further said that tens of al-Nusra have been killed in the army operation in Northern Hama, backed up by the heavy fire of artillery units and Syrian Air Forces' attacks.

The sources added that the army is planning to continue its operation to capture Abu al-Dhuhour airbase in Eastern Idlib.

Also in the past 24 hours, the Syrian Army troops advanced further against the Al-Nusra in Northern Hama on Wednesday, inching closer to the key bastion of the terrorists.

The army deployed 6 km away from the town of al-Rahjan, the most important base of Al-Nusra in Northern Hama, after taking control over the towns along the road connecting the towns of Ithriya and Sheikh Hilal to each other.

In the meantime, the Russian Air Force pounded the Al-Nusra positions in the towns of al-Rahjan, al-Hamdamiyeh and Zaqbar in Wadi al-Azib region along road to Ithriya.

The Syrian army is planning to restore security to the roads that connect Hama to Homs and later secure the road to Raqqa.

The army also intends to purge Southeast of Ithriya region of terrorists. 

Aleppo

The Syrian Marines have been dispatched from the Badiyeh (desert) al-Sham in Southern Syria to the Northeastern part of Hama province, a military source reported.

The Lebanon-based AMN quoted a military source as saying on Tuesday night that the marines have been deployed to the Ithriya-Khanasser road in order to help the Qalamoun Shield forces of the 3rd Division and Republican Guard take back the Al-Nusra Front stronghold in al-Rahjan.

Once al-Rahjan is captured, the Syrian Marines will play a major role in the upcoming battle to clear the Southern part of the Aleppo.

The final preparations are being made for the Southern Aleppo offensive, as the Syrian Army and their allies, mainly Hezbollah, plan to retake the regions of Khan Touman, Tal Al-‘Eis, and Al-Rashedeen.

Also in the past 24 hours, the Syrian army's engineering units discovered a depot of Italy-made landmines during their clean up operation in Aleppo province, a Russian media outlet reported.

The Arabic-language website of RT quoted the commander of engineering units as reporting that they found 30 landmines made in Italy and a number of hand-made rockets in terrorist groups' positons in the town of Um Adas and its surrounding areas.

RT further said that the region where the army men found the Italy-made landmines was occupied by the terrorists over three years ago, adding that C4 explosive material has been used in the landmines that is more powerful than TNT.

Also on Wednesday, an Arab media outlet reported that the Turkish military is about to establish its first military base in Western Aleppo in the next few days.

The Arabic-language al-Watan daily reported that Turkey has completed preliminary steps for the establishment of its first military base in Jabal Sheikh Barakat near the town of Dar al-Izzah in Western Aleppo, adding that the Ankara's move is a flagrant violation of the Astana 6 Agreement.

Al-Watan further said that the Turkish military base in Aleppo will be one of the eight bases Ankara plans to build in Northern and Northwestern Syria.

The paper quoted local source as reporting that the Turkish army's bulldozers have sped up construction operation of the base in Western Aleppo.

Full report at:

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13960811000255

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US draft UN resolution seeks extension of Syria chemical probe

3 November 2017

The United States has circulated a draft UN Security Council resolution that would extend by two years the mandate of an international inquiry into chemical weapons attacks in Syria, after Russia vetoed an extension last week.

The US draft, which was seen by Reuters on Thursday, says Syria must not develop or produce chemical weapons, and it calls on all parties in Syria to provide full cooperation with the international probe.

The investigation by the United Nations and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons - known as the Joint Investigative Mechanism (JIM) - was unanimously created by the 15-member Security Council in 2015 and renewed in 2016 for another year. Its mandate is due to expire in mid-November.

The JIM found that the Syrian government of Bashar al-Assad was to blame for a chemical attack on the opposition-held town of Khan Sheikhoun that killed dozens of people in April, according to a report sent to the Security Council on Oct. 26.

Russian veto

Two days earlier, Russia vetoed a renewal of the JIM mandate after it was unsuccessful in getting the Security Council to postpone the vote. UN Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia said Russia wanted to discuss the Khan Sheikhoun report before the vote.

Russia, whose air force and special forces have been supporting the Syrian army, says there is no evidence to show Damascus was responsible for the attack. It maintains that the chemicals that killed civilians belonged to rebels, not Assad’s government.

On Wednesday, the United States admonished Russia for its veto. “Russia’s attempts to undermine and eliminate the JIM show a callous disregard for the suffering and loss of life caused by the use of chemical weapons and an utter lack of respect for international norms,” the White House said in a statement.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson by phone on Thursday it was unacceptable to politicize the work of chemical weapons inspectors in Syria, Russia’s foreign ministry said.

Extension of the inquiry

A Russian draft resolution calls for a six-month extension of the inquiry, with the possibility of further extensions, and asks for investigators to collect environmental samples in connection with the Khan Sheikhoun probe, among other things.

In their 14th report since 2011, UN investigators said in September they had documented 33 chemical weapons attacks to date. Twenty-seven were by the Assad government, including seven between March 1 and July 7. Perpetrators had not been identified yet in six attacks, they said.

The Assad government has repeatedly denied using chemical weapons. It said its strikes in Khan Sheikhoun hit a weapons depot belonging to rebel forces, an assertion “excluded” by UN Commission of Inquiry on Syria Chairman Paulo Pinheiro.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2017/11/03/US-draft-UN-resolution-seeks-extension-of-Syria-chemical-probe.html

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Egypt: Former army officer led terrorists in West Desert attack

3 November 2017

Egyptian soldiers and officers who battled terrorists in the Western Desert confirmed that the masked dead militant leader was Imad al-Din Sayyid Ahmed Abdul Hamid, 36, a former military commando in the Egyptian army.

The terrorist leader was dismissed from the army after he had adopted extremist ideology and served as an assistant to Hasham al-Ashmawi, leader of the al-Murabetin organization in Libya.

Maher Farghali, a researcher and expert on terrorist and extremist groups told Al-Arabiya that security information confirmed the killing of former officer Imad Abdul Hamid in the last attack by the army's forces on their hideouts in Kilo 175, in the oasis west of Fayoum governerate.

During the confrontations, he was referred to by two names; Mustafa and Ramzi. He served as an assistant to Hasham al-Ashmawi, a former officer in the Egyptian army.

He was responsible for the military training of the members of "Ansar al-Bayt" group (ISIS in Sinai) before he had a disagreement with al-Ashmawi regarding Baghdadi’s leadership and left Sinai heading to Libya.

The researcher confirmed that al-Ashmawi assigned Imad to move to the Western Desert and to establish it as a receiving station for terrorist groups coming from Libya, specifically al-Murabetin group, to carry out terrorist operations in Egypt.

The security forces were able to pre-empt the groups in the oasis area before they were capable of launching their planned attacks.

The Egyptian army is fighting a battle against four main terrorist organizations as per statements by expert Ahmed Ban to Al Arabiya.

ISIS in Sinai

Ban said that ISIS group in Sinai are around 1000 militants centered in 27 kilometers within the cities of Sheikh Zuwaid, Rafah and Al-Areesh. They were first called "Ansar bait Al Maqdis" and after pledging allegiance to Baghdadi changed its name to "ISIS in Sinai State."

He added that the organization targets the army and police forces its operations and align with the Muslim Brotherhood and foreign insurgents. Their logistical and financial support was provided through the tunnels connected to the Gaza Strip.

After the army took control of these areas by placing several security bases, flooding and destroying these tunnels, it blocked the smuggling of arms, ammunition and money.

ISIS organization launched following these security measures, attacks on the main military checkpoint in Karm Al-Qawdis which was hindering their supplies.

Caliphate’s Army

The second group is Caliphate’s Army (Jund al-Khalafah) an organization linked to ISIS, funded by members of the Muslim Brotherhood group and led by Amr Saad Abbas, the first suspect in the bombings of the Tanta and Alexandria churches.

Ahmed Ban says that members of this terrorist organization disappear in the desert of Upper Egypt, and do not exceed 60-70 militants, they hide for a long time to escape security pursuits after one or two operations.

Hasm

The third terrorist organization Hasm, which is administratively and financially associated with the Muslim Brotherhood, under the leadership of Muhammad Kamal.

They are operative in the governorates, not Sinai, and launch attacks and ambushes in Cairo and Giza cities in order to affirm their presence and confuse the security services.

Al-Murabetin

The fourth terrorists group was led by Hisham al-Ashmawi who split from ISIS and formed his group in Libya, and its militants carry out operations inside Egypt's major cities.

Al-Ashmawi was accused of involvement in the assassination attempt on former Interior Minister General Mohamed Ibrahim, the assassination of the late Attorney General Hisham Barakat, and the attack on Battalion 101.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2017/11/03/Egypt-Former-army-officer-led-the-terrorists-in-the-West-Desert-attack.html

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Iraqi army recaptures key natural gas field from Daesh

Nov 2, 2017

Iraqi government forces have managed to liberate a major natural gas field from Daesh Takfiri terrorists in the country’s embattled western province of Anbar as they are battling to drive the extremists out of their last remaining strongholds in the crisis-hit Arab country.

Oil Minister Jabar al-Luaibi told reporters in the capital Baghdad on Thursday that army troops had captured the Akkas gas field, which produces natural gas and condensate.

The total proven reserves of the field are estimated to be around 5.6 trillion cubic feet, and production reportedly stands at around 400 million cubic feet per day. The field is operated by Korea Gas Company (KOGAS) and is located in western Anbar province near the Syrian border.

Development of Iraq's Akkas gas field stopped Daesh terrorists seized swathes of land in Anbar in May 2014.

KOGAS halted development operations following multiple attacks by terrorists against the company's sites in the field.

Iraqi oil ministry officials have said that they have plans to send a crew to Akkas gas field to assess damages to its energy production facilities.

"We will make a field visit to write a report about the damages and what we need to bring back the field online as soon as possible," said Mohammed Ibrahim, an engineer who is a member of an oil ministry team supervising Akkas.

According to Ibrahim, the Iraqi government has plans to contact KOGAS officials soon to resume development operations at the field.

"Security forces are working to clean Akkas from landmines and booby traps that might be left by Daesh," Colonel Saad Hardan from Anbar police was quoted by Reuters as saying.

Earlier in the day, Nuaman al-Zawbai, commander of the 7th Division of al-Jazeera Operations Command, said government troops were in control of 85 percent of al-Qa'im town, located nearly 400 kilometers northwest of Baghdad.

“The local government, in cooperation with security forces, has prepared a plan to repatriate families that have been displaced from western regions. Officials have accordingly started to vet the official documents of interested families in a bid to prevent terrorists from disguising among ordinary civilians,” Zawbai pointed out.

Meanwhile, intelligence sources speaking on condition of anonymity, also told Arabic-language Shafaaq news agency that Iraqi Air Force fighter jets had targeted and destroyed a Daesh convoy.

The sources said the ten-vehicle convoy was destroyed on the outskirts of Qa'im as extremists were fleeing to Syria’s eastern border city of al-Bukamal.

Among those killed was the self-proclaimed Daesh governor of Qa'im, identified by the nom de guerre, Abu Ahmed al-Iraqi.

Separately, Daesh terrorists executed two fellow militant commanders in al-Bukamal on charges of escaping battles in al-Ebeidi town.

Government troops managed to retake al-Ebeidi from Daesh terrorists on Tuesday, and raised the national Iraqi flag over a number of buildings there.

Full report at:

http://www.presstv.com/Detail/2017/11/02/540766/Iraqi-army-recaptures-control-of-key-natural-gas-field-from-Daesh

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Russian long-range bombers strike Daesh positions in Syria’s Dayr al-Zawr province

Nov 2, 2017

The Russian military says six of its Tupolev Tu-22M3 long-range bombers have successfully pounded the positions of the Daesh Takfiri terrorist group in Syria’s eastern province of Dayr al-Zawr for the second day in a row.

According to a statement by the Russian Defense Ministry on Thursday, the large bombers struck Daesh targets, including command centers, weapon depots and fortified areas, in the town of al-Bukamal, located in the vicinity of Syria’s common border with Iraq, where the Syrian forces are making territorial gains against the terrorists.

The Thursday strike was “carried out in order to support the Syrian government forces to crush Daesh terrorists,” added the statement, carried by the TASS news agency. The aerial raid on terrorists’ positions in the war-torn country was commenced on Wednesday, after the long-range bombers flew over Iran and Iraq to reach the designated targets near the border town. 

The statement said that the bombers returned safely to their bases in Russia after destroying an unspecified number of terror targets, adding that the planes were covered with a number of Su-30SM fighter jets from the Russia-run Hmeimim air base in Syria's western coastal province of Latakia during the operation.

In September, Syrian government forces, backed up by Russia’s airstrikes, reached Dayr al-Zawr on the Euphrates River, breaking a three-year terrorist siege on the city and a nearby air base.

Russia has been conducting air raids against Daesh and other terrorist outfits in Syria at the Damascus government’s request since September 2015. Moscow has also maintained a naval group in the Mediterranean since the start of its anti-terror campaign in the war-ravaged Arab country.

Full report at:

http://www.presstv.com/Detail/2017/11/02/540765/Russia-Syria-Tupolev-Tu22M3-Daesh-Bukamal-Dayr-alZawr

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North America

 

Islamic State Claims Responsibility for Lower Manhattan Terrorist Attack

November 2, 2017

The Islamic State claimed responsibility late Thursday for the terrorist attack in Lower Manhattan two days earlier that killed eight people and wounded a dozen more.

The statement was issued in the group’s weekly newsletter and called Tuesday’s rampage “one of the most prominent attacks targetting Crusaders in America.”

It describes the suspect, Sayfullo Saipov, 29, as a “soldier of the Caliphate” and goes on to say that the attack was carried out in response to the group’s call to target “citizens of the Crusader countries involved in the alliance against the Islamic State.”

It was an uncharacteristically late claim for a group that in the past year has typically issued its statements within the first 24 hours after an attack. It was also not released through the Islamic State’s Amaq News Agency, which is usually the first to carry such statements. And it marks a break with the usual pattern of not claiming responsibility for an attack when a suspect is in custody.

As the investigation continues, the federal authorities are increasingly focusing on a wedding in Florida two years ago attended by Mr. Saipov as a possible key to understanding whether he had personal ties to people connected to the Islamic State, law enforcement officials said.

A person at the wedding was under scrutiny by the F.B.I. as part of a terrorism investigation at the time, the officials said. Mr. Saipov’s presence at the wedding brought him to the F.B.I.’s attention, though it did not prompt an investigation of him, law enforcement officials said.

The wedding, the details of which have not previously been reported, was held in August 2015 in the clubhouse of a sprawling apartment complex in Fort Myers, Fla., that was the home of relatives of Mr. Saipov, according to a Muslim cleric whom Mr. Saipov invited to the celebration.

The groom was the brother-in-law of Mr. Saipov, an immigrant from Uzbekistan. The bride was an Uzbek woman from Fort Myers, whose family lived in the apartment complex where the celebration was held.

The cleric, Abdul, who is affiliated with a mosque in Tampa and spoke on the condition that only his first name be used because he feared reprisals, described the event as a small affair with about 20 attendees, some of whom had traveled from New York and California.

The person at the wedding who was under an active F.B.I. investigation would have been the subject of physical and electronic surveillance.

While the wedding provided a clue about the direction of the F.B.I. investigation into the Manhattan truck attack, many questions about the wedding remain unanswered.

It is not clear if the F.B.I. is still investigating the person at the wedding who was under scrutiny at the time. Officials have also not named that person or said why they were investigating the person.

The wedding is at the center of widening circles of Mr. Saipov’s connections that federal agents are scrutinizing as they try to determine whether he had direct connections with ISIS operatives.

The celebration was held in a carpeted poolside meeting room with maroon walls and a built-in bar. A sign warns against exceeding an occupancy of 92 people. The apartment complex, Osprey Cove, rents the room to residents at the complex for a $100 fee, and a $100 deposit, for four hours.

Oak trees and palm trees dot the complex, a circle of apartment buildings arranged around a man-made lake. The complex has about 350 apartment units.

Adjoining the party space is a smaller room where brides sometimes change and the apartment complex stores chairs and tables for big dinners.

At the wedding, Abdul said he gave about a 20-minute speech — a blessing of sorts — before the attendees ate Uzbek food and talked. He described the apartment complex as fancy, but said little else was memorable about the ceremony.

It was an unlikely setting for an Uzbek wedding because few Uzbek families live in Fort Myers, he said. He was invited to many weddings because of his following in the Uzbek community, and he officiated Mr. Saipov’s wedding, he said.

Mr. Saipov was married in Ohio in 2013 to Nozima Odilova. Officials said she was cooperating with investigators and has hired a lawyer. The couple live in Paterson, N.J., and have three children.

Abdul said Mr. Saipov attended his Tampa mosque for a time, and he became worried that Mr. Saipov increasingly misinterpreted Islam. As Mr. Saipov grew more devoted to the outward observances of Islam, Abdul said he urged him to calm down and learn the substance of the religion.

Federal investigators this week were pursuing another lead related to Mr. Saipov’s friendships in Florida. They announced on Wednesday that they were trying to learn more about a second Uzbek man, Mukhammadzoir Kadirov, 32. Later that day, they said they had found Mr. Kadirov in New Jersey. They did not say why they were interested in him.

It was at an apartment complex in Tampa where neighbors said Mr. Kadirov lived until a few months ago where they saw him and Mr. Saipov together.

“They’d be together all the time,” said Joshua Clemente, 26, who remembered Mr. Kadirov moving into the apartment directly above his with a wife and two children. “His friend would come over. They would go inside or they would go to the mosque down the street.”

Mr. Clemente was referring to the Islamic Society of Tampa Bay, where his younger brother, Jeremy, 17, said he used to see the two men.

The brothers said an F.B.I. agent had come to the family’s apartment on Wednesday and shown them a picture of Mr. Kadirov.

“Oh, I know that guy,” the younger Mr. Clemente said he told the agent. “He was a self-conscious person. Him and the other guy would go up and down the stairs all the time. They’d just sit on the bench by the basketball court, or get into the white Toyota van that the guy with the beard had. He didn’t talk a lot; he’d only talk to the people he knew. Sometimes he’d wave or say ‘hi,’ but that was about it.”

On Thursday, Mr. Kadirov, through an intermediary, issued a statement denouncing the attack in New York.

“It is so sad and unbelievable,” the statement read in part. “It is not acceptable. We as Muslims completely reject this kind of actions. No human being who has a heart can do this.”

In New York on Thursday, the Transportation Department began placing hundreds of concrete barriers at 57 intersections along the Hudson River Park Bikeway.

Al Baker, Nick Madigan and William K. Rashbaum contributed reporting. Susan C. Beachy contributed research.

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/11/02/nyregion/manhattan-terror-attack-wedding.html?mtrref=www.google.co.in&gwh=0610FE84EC93BC8117479E1B39CFDB7C&gwt=pay

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Professor apologizes for fiery response to Muslim student

By Dan Sewell

November 2, 2017

CINCINNATI — A University of Cincinnati music teacher has apologized for his fiery online responses to a Muslim student who was critical of Donald Trump’s presidency and talked about celebrating freedom and diversity.

College-Conservatory of Music assistant professor Clifford Adams wrote a letter late Wednesday to The Cincinnati Enquirer saying he is “deeply sorry” for hurting feelings and offending people. He wrote that he had intended to have a “lively, provocative, scholarly argument” and didn’t expect the discussion to go outside his “What’s Hot in Popular Music” class.

“As I reconsider what I wrote from an online student’s vantage point, I now realize that I did come across like a religious bigot and that makes me feel horrible,” wrote Adams, a veteran teacher and musician.

The university said Thursday that the incident remains under investigation and that the school is committed to “excellence and diversity.” Spokesman Greg Vehr’s statement said the school “takes seriously all concerns for discriminatory or harassing comment.”

The investigation comes in the aftermath of the school’s recent decision to allow white nationalist Richard Spencer to speak on campus. The school’s board condemned hate while upholding the First Amendment and the role of free speech at a public university. No date has been set yet for the planned appearance, which UC’s president has said is provoking “fear and unease.”

The Enquirer reported earlier that a student not in the class posed a screenshot of Adams’ comments on Facebook.

The Facebook post showed that a student identifying herself as a Middle Eastern Muslim female wrote about the Thirty Seconds to Mars song “Walk on Water,” which has a video using footage filmed across the United States on the Fourth of July. The student wrote that the Trump presidency has promoted hate, while the song featured diversity and freedom and shows “what America is really about and why we celebrate July 4.”

Full report at:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/higher-education/professor-apologizes-for-fiery-response-to-muslim-student/2017/11/02/c6818e30-bfcd-11e7-9294-705f80164f6e_story.html?utm_term=.caecbeb38bb1

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Muslims in NJ city fear another backlash after latest attack

By Wayne Parry

November 2, 2017

PATERSON, N.J. — In the halal bakeries and markets that line Main Street, and in mosques that have been part of the community for decades, a familiar dread has taken hold after the latest terror attack in the U.S.

Sayfullo Saipov, the Muslim man accused of using a truck to mow down people on a New York City bike path in the name of the Islamic State group, lived in Paterson.

Paterson saw a surge of anti-Muslim harassment after 9/11, particularly after it was learned that as many as a half-dozen of the hijackers who flew planes into the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and a Pennsylvania field lived or spent time in the city 20 miles (32 kilometers) outside New York.

After the rampage on Tuesday that left eight people dead, “it’s the same feeling again,” said Imam Mohammad Qatanani, spiritual leader of the Islamic Center of Passaic County, the region’s most influential mosque.

“People here feel they will be blamed as a religion and as a people. Because this guy was a Muslim, Muslims will be blamed anywhere and everywhere.”

Tensions have flared within the Muslim community as well, with two men getting into a fistfight at a mosque in a dispute over the cause of Saipov’s alleged radicalization.

Until this week, Saipov, who came to the U.S. in 2010 from Uzbekistan, was just one more recent arrival in a city that is home to immigrants from more than four dozen countries.

Neighborhoods have been dubbed Little Ramallah or Little Istanbul for their respective Arab and Turkish residents. Peru has a consulate in the city to serve the large number of Peruvians.

More than 34 percent of the city’s residents were born in another country, according to the Census Bureau.

Islamic leaders in the city of 147,000 people estimate Paterson’s Muslim population at 25,000 to 30,000.

Paterson was an engine of the Industrial Revolution, its factories churning out textiles and embroidery that helped earn it the nickname Silk City. But many of the industrial jobs are gone, and nearly a third of Paterson’s population lives in poverty, the city beset by crime and drugs.

It has been in this environment that the Muslim community established itself over decades, with a mix of Arab, Asian, African-American and European members of the faith. The Islamic Center of Passaic County, formed nearly three decades ago in Paterson, draws about 2,000 people for Friday communal prayers.

Now, some are afraid they will be made to answer for the actions of a man many leaders of the community say they didn’t know.

Saipov did not attend the Passaic County mosque, Qatanani said. The suspect’s apartment is next door to the Omar Mosque, where congregants disagreed over whether he prayed there.

Ramy Elhelw, 30, of Hoboken, said he never saw Saipov there. “This is not somebody we recognize in any way, shape or form,” Elhelw said. “A person who does something of this nature is a deranged human being.”

But Abu Mohammed, a 46-year-old Palestinian construction worker and olive oil importer who came to America at 18, said he saw Saipov worship there.

While he condemned Saipov’s alleged crimes, he also said he understands what can send a law-abiding Muslim down the path of radicalization.

“It’s simple: They see the U.S. terrorizing Muslims left and right for the last 27 years, hundreds of thousands of them,” Mohammed said. “That’s terrorism, and terrorism creates terrorists. The one who starts the fight is more guilty.”

Upon hearing Mohammed’s remarks to reporters at the Omar Mosque, an elderly man yelled at him and punched him in the face, and they scuffled.

The mosque had been targeted by the New York Police Department, which conducted broad surveillance of Muslims in New Jersey, New York and beyond after 9/11, a program uncovered by The Associated Press in 2011. An NYPD report from the surveillance found no evidence of criminal activity at the Omar Mosque.

Frank Cagatay, who lives in an apartment building where Saipov had lived, said the latest attack will further damage Paterson’s reputation.

“The people that do this cite God in carrying out terrorist attacks, but God never told anyone to kill innocent people,” Cagatay said.

After 9/11, Muslims in and around Paterson reported that people screamed anti-Muslim insults and threw objects at them, particularly after false rumors spread that people were dancing in the streets to celebrate the attacks. Several Muslims were assaulted, and mosques received bomb threats.

Muslim leaders have gone to great lengths to try to ease the hostility by reaching out to law enforcement officials and local residents.

Government agencies held job fairs at Qatanani’s mosque to recruit Arabic-speaking Muslims, and high-ranking political and counterterrorism officials were guests at its annual Ramadan dinner.

The local FBI office, which began meeting with Paterson Muslims in 1999, said tips and other information from the Muslim community were extremely helpful after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, and they praised local residents who served as translators when investigators conducted interviews.

Worries over discrimination against Muslims in New Jersey continue, however, in part because of efforts by some towns to thwart construction of mosques.

Full report at:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/religion/muslims-in-nj-city-fear-another-backlash-after-latest-attack/2017/11/02/13290246-bff5-11e7-9294-705f80164f6e_story.html?utm_term=.993fe62ced38

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‘Allahu akbar!’ on the streets of America

November 2, 2017

Confederate soldiers shrieked the rebel yell at Gettysburg, American paratroopers cried “Geronimo!” when they jumped into France on D-Day, and radical Muslim terrorists cry “Allahu akbar” when they kill innocents on the streets of America. Whether meant to calm nerves or strike fear in the hearts of opponents, the cries become a signature, sometimes a cry of bravery and heroism, but sometimes a cry of cowardly revenge.

Mohammed Atta, one of the villains of the 9/11 attack, left instructions in his journal for those who would follow him in wickedness to “Shout ‘Allahu akbar,’ because this strikes fear in the hearts of the non-believers.”

The cry doesn’t strike fear so much a quick and convenient identification of the perpetrator and his aims when there’s massacre on the street, or at an airport, or a nightclub. “Allahu akbar!” cried Amor Ftouhi when he stabbed a policeman in Flint, Mich., and repeated it several times on his day in court. A black separatist cried “Allahu akbar!” when he killed three innocents in Fresno, Calif., and a black Muslim separatist cried it when he stabbed 10 shoppers at a shopping mall in Minnesota. And the man who drove a truck on to a bicycle path in Manhattan, killing 8 and wounding 11, cried “Allahu akbar” when he emerged from his truck.

For good and peaceful Muslims, this perception that the cry is a signature of radical Islamic terror strikes a pain in a devout heart. “That’s why it hurts that on Tuesday, ‘Allahu akbar,’ those two simple words so close to our heart, instantly shaped the entire news coverage and presidential response,” writes Wajahat Ali, a lawyer and playwright, in The New York Times. “A common, benign phrase used daily by Muslims, especially during prayer, is now understood as code for “It was terrorism.”

Full report at:

https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2017/nov/2/editorial-devout-muslims-feel-pain-after-terrorist/

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Listening and learning at Islam awareness presentation

November 3, 2017

Education is the first step to understanding our neighbours.

This was the focus of a public presentation on Islam hosted by the Westminister United Church on Oct. 19.

Ilyas Sidyot, Imam of the Islamic Association of Saskatchewan Saskatoon Inc. was invited to speak about Islam, which was quite an honour, he says.

He was also pleased with the number of people who attended with around 40 people coming to listen and ask questions.

“Many people came there and we had a really special session over there, almost 2 hours and people were listening attentively.”

In Saskatchewan, there is an estimated 25,000 Muslim people, with around 20,000 in Saskatoon and Regina.

Even with such small numbers spread throughout the province, Sidyot says he is surrounded by friendly people.

“My children grow up here and we do walk in street and marketplace in traditional dress and I get nothing but respect from the people.”

While this has not been the case for all Muslims in Canada, the best way to counter hostility is with education, he says.

There are many misconceptions about Islam, says Sidyot, which is not helped by the media and television.

What is shown on the news is all wars and killing, he says, which is not the full picture of Islam.

People would learn more about Islam by sitting down and talking with an actual Muslim, he says.

“People are concerned. Are Muslims like this? No, but if you meet with Muslims, that is a total different reality.”

With such a big crowd, there were many questions about the faith and culture differences.

A big question, says Sidyot, is about interactions between men and women of the faith.

Related men and women can shake hands, he says, but interactions between men and women who are not related and are around the same age can lead to temptation. In Islam, they remove that temptation all together.

“The decision has been made in that you avoid shaking hands with opposing gender and highly at the young age.”

This also a reason behind the Muslim clothing for women, says Sidyot, with women choosing their clothing based on how comfortable they are with the opposite gender. With some Muslim women, in order to avoid the opposing gender while still living her life outside the home, she would wear specific clothing, like the burqa or the hijab.

With recent decisions in Quebec regarding face coverings, while the numbers of women who wear the burqa are low, says Sidyot, the right to wear it is covered under our Canadian Charter Rights under religious freedoms.

With the Muslim family dynamic, even the men in the family cannot dictate proper clothing, says Sidyot.

“Even father cannot dictate on wife, mother, daughter, sister, then why would government come and say you have to wear this and not this way.”

While Rev. Brenda Curtis knew a little bit about Islam, she learned a whole lot more, she says, through Sidyot’s presentation.

“Everybody learned something from it for sure, some more than others, it depends what people were looking for when they came.”

Curtis knows that Sidyot is busy with his position as Imam of the Islamic Association so she appreciates the time and passion he dedicated to coming to Humboldt.

“You can tell he has a passion for interfaith dialogue,” she says. “He wants us to connect with people around different faith traditions and he knows a fair bit about both Christian and Judaic faith traditions.”

Full report at:

http://www.humboldtjournal.ca/news/local-news/listening-and-learning-at-islam-awareness-presentation-1.23081070

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US draft UN resolution seeks extension of Syria chemical probe

November 03, 2017

The United States has circulated a draft U.N. Security Council resolution that would extend by two years the mandate of an international inquiry into chemical weapons attacks in Syria , after Russia vetoed an extension last week.

The U.S. draft, which was seen by Reuters on Thursday, says Syria must not develop or produce chemical weapons, and it calls on all parties in Syria to provide full cooperation with the international probe.

The investigation by the United Nations and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons - known as the Joint Investigative Mechanism (JIM) - was unanimously created by the 15-member Security Council in 2015 and renewed in 2016 for another year. Its mandate is due to expire in mid-November.

The JIM found that the Syrian government of Bashar al-Assad was to blame for a chemical attack on the opposition-held town of Khan Sheikhoun that killed dozens of people in April, according to a report sent to the Security Council on Oct. 26.

Two days earlier, Russia vetoed a renewal of the JIM mandate after it was unsuccessful in getting the Security Council to postpone the vote. U.N. Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia said Russia wanted to discuss the Khan Sheikhoun report before the vote.

Russia, whose air force and special forces have been supporting the Syrian army, says there is no evidence to show Damascus was responsible for the attack. It maintains that the chemicals that killed civilians belonged to rebels, not Assad’s government.

On Wednesday, the United States admonished Russia for its veto. [nL2N1N805Y]

“Russia’s attempts to undermine and eliminate the JIM show a callous disregard for the suffering and loss of life caused by the use of chemical weapons and an utter lack of respect for international norms,” the White House said in a statement.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson by phone on Thursday it was unacceptable to politicize the work of chemical weapons inspectors in Syria , Russia’s foreign ministry said. [nL8N1MP0GI]

A Russian draft resolution calls for a six-month extension of the inquiry, with the possibility of further extensions, and asks for investigators to collect environmental samples in connection with the Khan Sheikhoun probe, among other things.

In their 14th report since 2011, U.N. investigators said in September they had documented 33 chemical weapons attacks to date. [nL8N1LN29P]

Twenty-seven were by the Assad government, including seven between March 1 and July 7. Perpetrators had not been identified yet in six attacks, they said.

The Assad government has repeatedly denied using chemical weapons. It said its strikes in Khan Sheikhoun hit a weapons depot belonging to rebel forces, an assertion “excluded” by U.N. Commission of Inquiry on Syria Chairman Paulo Pinheiro.

Full report at:

http://nation.com.pk/03-Nov-2017/us-draft-un-resolution-seeks-extension-of-syria-chemical-probe

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White House slams Russia over veto on Syria chemical weapons probe

November 02, 2017

The White House admonished Russia on Wednesday after it vetoed a United Nations plan to continue an ongoing investigation that recently found Syria killed dozens of people with chemical weapons and implored the international body to renew the probe.

Russia cast a veto at the United Nations Security Council eight days ago, preventing the renewal of a mandate for a mission by the United Nations and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) - known as the Joint Investigative Mechanism (JIM) - that investigates the use of chemical weapons in Syria .

“Russia’s attempts to undermine and eliminate the JIM show a callous disregard for the suffering and loss of life caused by the use of chemical weapons and an utter lack of respect for international norms,” the White House said in a statement.

The JIM found that the Syrian government of Bashar al-Assad is to blame for a chemical attack on the opposition-held town of Khan Sheikhoun that killed dozens of people last April, according to a report sent to the United Nations Security Council last Thursday.

“This unconscionable attack marks the fourth time that the JIM has confirmed that the Assad regime used chemical weapons , underscoring the brutal and horrifying barbarism of Bashar al-Assad and making the protection provided by Russia even more egregious,” the White House said.

JIM was unanimously created by the 15-member U.N. Security Council in 2015 and renewed in 2016 for another year. Its mandate is due to expire in mid-November.

“The United States implores the UN Security Council to renew the mandate of the JIM so that we may continue to identify the perpetrators of these horrific attacks and send a clear message that the use of chemical weapons will not be tolerated,” the White House said.

In their 14th report since 2011, U.N. investigators said they had in all documented 33 chemical weapons attacks to date.

Twenty-seven were by the government of President Bashar al-Assad, including seven between March 1 to July 7. Perpetrators had not been identified yet in six attacks, they said.

The Assad government has repeatedly denied using chemical weapons . It said its strikes in Khan Sheikhoun hit a weapons depot belonging to rebel forces, a claim “excluded” by U.N. Commission of Inquiry on Syria chairman Paulo Pinheiro.

Full report at:

http://nation.com.pk/02-Nov-2017/white-house-slams-russia-over-veto-on-syria-chemical-weapons-probe

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NY attack suspect charged, could face death penalty

02 November 2017

The suspect accused of killing eight people and injuring a dozen others in New York City is facing two federal charges related to the attack, and could face the death penalty, prosecutors announced Wednesday.

Uzbek immigrant Sayfullo Saipov has been charged with providing material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization, namely ISIL, and violence and destruction of motor vehicles, according to court documents.

The first charge carries a maximum life sentence, while the second is eligible for the death penalty, Acting U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York Joon H. Kim told reporters.

In all, two Americans and six foreign nationals were killed when Saipov allegedly drove a rental truck down a bike path in lower Manhattan before striking a school bus carrying special needs children. 

A criminal complaint alleges that a document found near the truck's driver side door stated “in substance and in part” in Arabic the Islamic creed, "No God but God and Muhammad is his prophet", as well as the phrase, "Islamic Supplication. It will endure", an expression associated with ISIL.

Authorities said late Wednesday a second person that was sought for questioning had been found, but officials did not provide any details.

While being interviewed by law enforcement officers at a local hospital where he was recovering from a gunshot wounds, Saipov allegedly admitted to planning an attack about a year ago, and decided to use the truck two months ago.

He told police he rented a truck Oct. 22 to practice making turns ahead of the attack, and decided to carry it out on Halloween "because he believed there would be more civilians on the street for the holiday", according to the criminal complaint.

He also requested to display ISIL's flag in his hospital room, the document said.

Earlier Wednesday, President Donald Trump said he was open to the idea of sending Saipov to the controversial military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and the White House appeared to give weight to the idea by saying it considers Saipov an "enemy combatant". But with the filing of federal charges against Saipov that seems unlikely.

Sending Saipov to Guantanamo would be a "grave mistake", according to Amnesty International USA.

"He’s a criminal suspect and should be treated as such by the U.S. justice system," said the group’s Security with Human Rights Director, Daphne Eviatar. "Guantánamo has become an international symbol of torture, rendition and indefinite detention without charge or trial – it must be closed, not expanded.

Lashing out at the U.S.’s immigration system and in an attempt to blame the attack on the top senator from New York, President Donald Trump wrote on Twitter that the country should change to a system he has long sought.

“The terrorist came into our country through what is called the ‘Diversity Visa Lottery Program,’ a Chuck Schumer beauty,” he said, referring to the Senate’s senior Democrat. “We are fighting hard for Merit Based immigration, no more Democrat Lottery Systems. We must get MUCH tougher (and smarter).”

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo slammed the remarks, telling reporters at a news conference Wednesday he is bothered by any attempt “by anyone to politicize this situation.

"To politicize this event is wholly counterproductive," he said. "His tweet wasn't even accurate as far as I'm concerned. That was a bipartisan law that was passed."

The Department of Homeland Security confirmed to Anadolu Agency the suspect entered the U.S. via the Diversity Immigrant Visa Program that issues as many as 50,000 visas in an annual lottery.

The program was signed into law by Republican President George H.W. Bush in 1990.

Trump has said he is starting the process to end the program

New York Police Department deputy commissioner John Miller earlier cautioned against possible targeting of Muslims following the attack, saying anyone who does "will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

Full report at:

http://www.worldbulletin.net/america-canada/195547/canada-to-admit-nearly-1-mln-immigrants-in-next-3-years

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Killed by hate: Victims of America's far-right violence

03 November 2017

Over the last 16 years, the number of far-right attacks in the United States has grown to an average of 300 per year, according to a study by the Combating Terrorism Center at West Point.

Yet, since the election of right-wing US President Donald Trump in November, researchers and activists say far-right groups have been emboldened to carry out more hate crimes.

The Alabama-based Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), an organisation that monitors hate groups, recorded an average of 87 hate incidents a day during the ten-day period after Trump’s elections. This is five times the daily average of hate crimes recorded by the FBI in 2015.

Many of those hate incidents targeted people of colour, Muslims, Jews, members of the LGBTQ community and others.

The upsurge in racist violence has been punctuated by a handful of deadly attacks. Al Jazeera has broken down some of the most high-profile killings attributed to far-right violence in 2017.

Charlottesville’s Unite the Right rally, August 2017

On August 12, hundreds of white supremacists and neo-Nazis converged on Charlottesville, Virginia, for “Unite the Right”, the largest far-right rally to be held in the US in recent decades.

That rally was called by Jason Kessler, a former journalist and white supremacist activist, and was attended by several groups affiliated with the alt-right, a loosely knit coalition of white supremacists, white nationalists and neo-Nazis.

Unite the Right participants clashed with community members, anti-racists and anti-fascist activists throughout the city.

By the end of the day, 20-year-old James Alex Fields allegedly ploughed his car into an anti-racist march and killed 32-year-old Heather Heyer, a social worker and activist. At least 19 others were injured in the incident.

Earlier in the day, Fields was photographed marching with a Vanguard America, a neo-Nazi group. He was subsequently charged with second-degree murder and a slew of felonies.

Islamophobic tirade ends with deadly stabbings, May 2017

Jeremy Christian, 35, stabbed three menin the throats when they attempted to intervene while he hurled anti-Muslim insults at two teenage girls on a light rail in Portland, Oregon.

Christian had been photographed a week earlier performing Nazi salutes at a far-right rally a week before the attack.

Two of the victims, 53-year-old Ricky John Best and 23-year-old Taliesin Myrddin Namkai-Meche, died. Micah Fletcher, who is now 21, survived the attack.

Upon entering the court room for a hearing following the killings, Christian bellowed: "You call it terrorism; I call it patriotism. You hear me? Die. Death to the enemies of America. Leave this country if you hate our freedom.”

Fletcher later spoke to local media about the attack. "The Muslim community, especially in Portland, needs to understand that there are a lot of us that are not going to stand by and let anybody - whether they are from here or not - scare you into thinking you can't be a part of this town, this city, this community or this country," he said.

Stabbed to death while waiting for Uber, May 2017

Sean Christopher Urbanski, 22, was charged with first- and second-degree murderafter allegedly stabbing to death 23-year-old Richard Collins III, an African-American university student and lieutenant in the US army, as the victim and his friends waited for an Uber on the University of Maryland’s campus.

Police did not charge Urbanski with a hate crime, but critics denounced the decision and pointed to his membership in a Facebook group called “Alt-Reich: Nation”.

“Reich” was ostensibly a reference to the German Nazi regime known as the Third Reich, and the group was chock-full of anti-Semitic and racist content.

Collins was only three days away from graduating from nearby Bowie State University at the time of his killing.

At the time, Prince George County’s State Attorney Angela D Alsobrooks said prosecutors would “need something probably more than just a Facebook posting” to charge the assailant with a hate crime.

Black man fatally stabbed with a sword, March 2017

James Harris Jackson, a 28-year-old white man from Baltimore, travelled to New York City with the hopes of killing black people, according to investigators.

Upon arriving in the city, Jackson used a sword to fatally stab 66-year-old Timothy Caughman, an African American.

Investigators later stated that Jackson admitted that he ventured to New York City to kill African Americans because he believed it would get more media attention.

Subsequent media profiles painted Jackson, an army veteran, as a man who had harbored intense anti-black racism for most of his life.

Indian immigrant shot dead, February 2017

Adam W Purinton, a 51-year-old white man, was kicked out of a bar in Kansas City after hurling racist slurs at Srinivas Kuchibhotla and Alok Madasani, two immigrants from India.

Witnesses said Purinton later shouted “get out of my country” as he shot the two men, killing Kuchibhotla and injuring Madasani, both 32 years old.

The assailant was later charged with a hate crime, murder, attempted murder and weapons charges.

Full report at:

http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/features/2017/09/killed-hate-victims-america-violence-170924153101480.html

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South Asia

 

Muslim countries push UN to speak out on Myanmar abuses

November 03, 2017

UNITED NATIONS - Muslim countries led by Saudi Arabia want the United Nations to denounce serious rights abuses in Myanmar and demand an end to the military campaign against the Rohingya, according to a draft resolution seen by AFP on Wednesday.

In one of the worst refugee crises in decades, more than 600,000 Muslim Rohingya have fled an army crackdown in Myanmar’s Rakhine state since late August.

The draft resolution introduced this week to the General Assembly’s human rights committee said UN member-states were “highly alarmed” by the outbreak of violence and “further alarmed by the disproportionate use of force by the Myanmar forces” against the Rohingya.

The non-binding measure is expected to come up for a vote in the committee around November 14 and be discussed in the assembly a month later.

Drafted by the 57-member Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), the proposed resolution marks the return of Myanmar to the rights agenda at the United Nations after a one-year break.

Rohingya must return as

citizens: UN refugee chief

Myanmar must grant citizenship to the Rohingya to allow hundreds of thousands of people from the Muslim minority to return to Rakhine state from where they were driven by an army campaign, the UN refugee chief said Thursday.

“These people cannot remain stateless because this statelessness exposes them to discrimination and abuse, as has been the case in the past,” said Filippo Grandi, the UN high commission for refugees.

“For people to go back and for this return to be sustainable, you need to address the very complex issue of citizenship,” Grandi told reporters after addressing the Security Council. “No return will be sustainable ... if that issue is not unblocked.”

Tillerson to visit Myanmar

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson will go to Myanmar next week, the State Department said, becoming the most senior US official to visit since the start of the Rohingya crisis.

Tillerson’s spokeswoman said he would visit Naypyidaw on November 15 for talks on the “humanitarian crisis in Rakhine State and US support for Burma’s democratic transition.”

The secretary’s visit will come after he accompanies President Donald Trump on a five-nation Asian tour that will include a stop in Beijing and at the US-ASEAN summit in Manila.

Myanmar’s Rakhine state was plunged into violence in August, when troops cracking down on a local insurgency embarked on the alleged slaughter and expulsion of the Rohingya minority.

Since then, more than 600,000 people have fled to neighboring Bangladesh, bringing with them accounts of rape, torture and arson by the military and pro-government militia.

United Nations officials say the crackdown is likely tantamount to ethnic cleansing and pressure has mounted on Myanmar to protect the Rohingya and allow people to return home.

The United States, while condemning the violence, has been careful to say it holds the military responsible, not Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi’s civilian government.

Tillerson has been pressing her to speak up, and for the powerful military to allow diplomatic observers and humanitarian workers to operate freely within northern Rakhine.

Myanmar has been transitioning from rule by military junta to elected civilian leadership since elections were held under a new constitution in 2010.

But the military still wields broad powers in security matters and crisis-hot regions, and as “state counsellor”, a role akin to a prime minister, Suu Kyi’s power is limited.

Observers say Suu Kyi chose not to criticize the army in fear of a backlash from powerful generals and their rich friends.

But there is little for the Nobel laureate to gain politically from supporting the Muslim Rohingya, who enjoy little sympathy among the broader Buddhist-majority population.

http://nation.com.pk/03-Nov-2017/muslim-countries-push-un-to-speak-out-on-myanmar-abuses

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US lawmakers target Myanmar military with new sanctions

November 03, 2017

The measure does not target Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi

US lawmakers proposed targeted sanctions and travel restrictions on Myanmar military officials on Thursday over the treatment of the country’s Rohingya Muslim minority, one of the strongest efforts yet for Washington to intervene in the humanitarian crisis.

Introduced the day before Republican Donald Trump leaves on his first trip to Asia as president, the legislation would reimpose some sanctions lifted last year as Myanmar returned to democracy. It also would bar the United States from supplying most assistance to the country’s military until perpetrators of atrocities against the Rohingya are held accountable.

The measure does not target Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi, head of Myanmar’s civilian-led government and a Nobel peace laureate who still enjoys strong support among some US officials.

But congressional aides said it is intended to underscore a strong desire among many members of Congress for her to do more to help the Rohingya.

The legislation is sponsored by lawmakers including the Republican Senate Armed Services Committee chairman John McCain, and Senator Ben Cardin, the top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

“This bill will allow Congress to strengthen the president’s hand by making it clear to Myanmar officials that there will be consequences for their crimes against humanity,” Cardin said in a statement.

Among other things, it re-imposes a ban on jade and rubies from Myanmar and requires a report on which individuals should be subjected to sanctions, and instructs the US Treasury Department not to support international financial assistance programs that partner with enterprises owned by the Myanmar military.

A companion bill is also being introduced in the House of Representatives. That measure is also bipartisan, led by Representative Eliot Engel, the top Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and Republican Representative Steve Chabot, another foreign affairs panel member.

Members of Congress have been clamoring for a strong response to the plight of the Rohingya, and the Trump administration has been weighing labeling their treatment “ethnic cleansing.”

The State Department announced on Thursday that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson would accompany Trump on his trip to Asia, and also stop in Myanmar.

Full report at:

http://www.dhakatribune.com/world/2017/11/03/us-lawmakers-target-myanmar-military-new-sanctions/

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Haqqani network on top as US shares list of 20 terror groups with Pakistan

Nov 02 2017

The United States has shared a list of at least twenty terrorist groups with Islamabad which Washington insists use the Pakistani soil for the terrorist activities in Afghanistan and elsewhere, it has been reported.

Diplomatic sources have confirmed to the local news outlet Dawn News that the White House retains a list of 20 terrorist groups that the Trump administration claims are operating in Pakistan.

The sources further added that the list has reportedly been shared with Islamabad by Afghanistan and the United States.

In the meantime, reports indicate that the US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has said the US and Pakistan had been engaged in “a very healthy exchange of information on terrorists” since his visit to Islamabad last week.

Tillerson has further added that further information will also be shared with Pakistan in the future to include information on “specific location on any given day of where certain individuals or certain cells may be located.”

According to reports, the Haqqani terrorist network is on the top of the list shared with Islamabad as the US officials are saying that the network has safe havens in Fata and uses them to launch attacks into Afghanistan.

Full report at:

http://www.khaama.com/haqqani-network-on-top-as-us-shares-list-of-20-terror-groups-with-pakistan-03771

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Air and artillery strikes pound Taliban positions in Helmand province

Nov 03 2017

The Afghan security forces conducted and air and artillery strikes on Taliban positions in southern Helmand province of Afghanistan, leaving several militants dead.

The provincial government media office in a statement said at least eleven Taliban insurgents were killed during the operations.

The statement further added that the artillery units of the Afghan army pounded the hideouts of the Taliban group in Greshk district of Helmand, leaving at least six insurgents dead.

At least two motorcycles belonging to the Taliban insurgents were also confiscated by the security forces during the operation, the statement said.

In the meantime, the Afghan Air Force conducted airstrikes in Spin Jumat, Bashran of Lashkargah, and Chah Engineer area of Nad-e-Ali, leaving at least five militants dead.

According to the provincial government, a vehicle and motorcycle along with some light and heavy weaponry of the Taliban insurgents were also destroyed during the operations.

The Afghan security forces in separate operations confiscated at least 95 different types of improvised explosive devices from different parts of the province, the provincial government added.

Full report at:

http://www.khaama.com/air-and-artillery-strikes-pound-taliban-positions-in-helmand-province-03717

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US strategy ineffective and influenced by defeated generals: Asif

Nov 02 2017

Pakistan’s foreign minister Khawaja Asif once again revealed Islamabad’s opposition towards the new US strategy for South Asia, claiming that the policy has been influenced by the defeated US generals.

Asif said Wednesday that the new US policy was ineffective because it was influenced by the generals who suffered defeat in Afghanistan.

“The Americans have devised a framework for their policy for South Asia, which is in fact focused on Afghanistan. It was devised by generals who have struggled in Afghanistan for the last 15 years. I do not think any policy can be made by people with that baggage and mindset,” he was quoted as saying by Dawn News.

The foreign minister further added that he had urged the US State Department and other policy-making institutions of the country to have greater control of the American policy “instead of relying on President Trump’s rejected approach to this problem.”

The US President Donald Trump announced the new US strategy for South Asia and Afghanistan late in the month of August.

Full report at:

http://www.khaama.com/us-strategy-ineffective-and-influenced-by-defeated-generals-asif-03773

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Suu Kyi makes first visit to crisis-hit Rakhine

November 3, 2017

Myanmar's leader Aung San Suu Kyi visited conflict-wracked northern Rakhine for the first time Thursday, under mounting pressure to halt an army crackdown that has forced hundreds of thousands of Rohingya to flee their homes.

Suu Kyi, a nobel laureate who leads Myanmar's pro-democracy party, has been hammered by the international community for failing to use her moral power to speak up in defence of the Rohingya Muslim minority.

As she arrived in Rakhine State, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson announced a plan to visit Myanmar for talks next week, and the UN High Commissioner for Refugees demanded that the Rohingya be allowed home as citizens.

Some 600,000 of the stateless minority have fled to Bangladesh since late August carrying accounts of murder, rape and arson at the hands of Myanmar's powerful army, after militant raids sparked a ferocious military retaliation.

The UN says the army operation is likely tantamount to ethnic cleansing, while pressure has mounted on Myanmar to provide security for the Rohingya and allow people to return home.

Suu Kyi left via state capital Sittwe as evening fell on Thursday after a visit that also took in Maungdaw and Buthidaung in northern Rakhine.

It was her first trip in office to the region, which has seen some of the worst communal violence to cut through the western state since 2012, severely damaging Myanmar's global reputation.

"The Lady" -- as she is known -- met with the Rohingya community in Maungdaw town, according to local media, a first for a leader keen to convince observers inside the country and abroad that the crisis has abated and reconstruction can begin.

But it was not clear if Suu Kyi visited some of the hundreds of Rohingya villages torched by the army -- allegedly aided by ethnic Rakhine Buddhist locals.

The Rohingya who remain in northern Rakhine are living in fear, surrounded by hostile neighbours, who refuse to let them farm or move freely.

The UN on Thursday again called for unfettered humanitarian access to a zone still under army lockdown.

And Filippo Frandi, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, declared that not only must the refugees be allowed to return but that they should be accorded full Myanmar citizenship.

"These people cannot remain stateless because this statelessness exposes them to discrimination and abuse, as has been the case in the past," he told reporters at UN headquarters.

On Thursday around 3,000 Rohingya arrived by land at the Bangladesh border, a sign hunger and fear is still driving people from their homes.

"The army didn't attack us but made our life very difficult," Mohammad Zafar, 35, from a village in Buthidaung told AFP at the Bangladesh border.

"We were not paid for any work and couldn't go to markets. How long is it possible to live like that?"

-- 'Here for generations' --

Suu Kyi heads a committee charged with rebuilding Rakhine.

She was joined on Thursday by businessman Zaw Zaw, one of a host of military "cronies" who thrived under junta rule and are now taking prominent roles in rebuilding the battered region. 

There are fears a carve-up of contracts in Rakhine by big business will further divorce the Rohingya from their land.

Suu Kyi says the Rohingya who have fled are now welcome back, if they meet contested "verification" criteria for re-entry to Myanmar.

The Rohingya are loathed in Buddhist-majority Myanmar, where they are denied citizenship and denigrated as illegal "Bengali" immigrants.

Their legal status is at the crux of communal tensions, with ethnic Rakhine Buddhists adamant that Rohingya are foreign interlopers.

A Rohingya resident who has remained in Maungdaw town appealed to Suu Kyi to reconsider foisting a controversial national verification card (NVC) on the minority.

The card grants them limited rights of residence in Myanmar, but does not recognise them as an ethnic group with citizenship.

The Rohingya say it is a bureaucratic attempt to erase their identity and force a shaky legal status onto them in a region where many claim generations of ancestry.

"We cannot do anything with this NVC card, so we do not want to receive it," the resident said, requesting anonymity fearing reprisals.

"We are not Bengalis from Bangladesh, we are Rohingya living here for generations."

Observers say Suu Kyi has chosen not to criticise the army in fear of a backlash from a powerful institution that controls all security matters.

The United States has also condemned the violence, but has been careful to say that it holds the military and not Suu Kyi's civilian administration responsible.

Full report at:

http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/11/03/suu-kyi-makes-first-visit-to-crisis-hit-rakhine.html

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Ghani orders probe as deadly fuel tanker fire leaves several dead, wounded

Nov 02 2017

President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani has instructed the relevant government institutions and officials to launch an investigation into the deadly fuel tanker fire in northern Parwan province that left several people dead or wounded.

The Office of the President, ARG Palace, said President Ghani was saddened with the loss of lives as a result of the fire incident in Charikar city late on Wednesday night.

The statement further added that the relevant officials have been instructed to take immediate steps to assist those who sustained injuries in the incident and to launch an investigation to ascertain the circumstances surrounding the incident.

The incident took place late on Wednesday night amid reports a magnetic bomb planted in an oil tanker went off, setting a bus on fire and leaving scores of people dead or wounded.

According to the local officials, at least fifteen people were killed and at least 27 others were wounded in the incident.

No individual or group has so far claimed responsibility behind the incident.

Parwan is among the relatively volatile provinces in northern Afghanistan where the Taliban insurgents are actively operating in some of its remote districts and often carry out insurgency activities.

Full report at:

http://www.khaama.com/ghani-orders-probe-as-deadly-fuel-tanker-fire-leaves-several-dead-wounded-03772

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Mideast

 

Saudi Arabia: UN’s support of Houthi militias is unacceptable

3 November 2017

Saudi Arabia expressed its deep condemnation of the report by a UN committee stating that the United Nations has provided $14 million to the Yemeni Ministry of Education run by the Houthi militia in Yemen; as the militias are planting thousands of mines inside Yemen and on the Saudi border.

Saudi Arabia asked the committee to reconsider the submitted report, and reflect facts that has been ignored asking for the commitment of all involved United Nations organizations, regarding resolution 2216, stressing that United Nations support for the Houthi militias was unjustifiable and unacceptable.

At least 50,000 mines on the Saudi-Yemeni border

Saudi Arabia confirmed that the Houthi and Saleh’s militias has planted and deployed at least 50,000 mines on the Saudi-Yemeni border, engrained tens of thousands of mines in populated Yemeni cities and villages, and laid mines in the Red Sea near the Saudi border.

Not to mention these facts in the report submitted to the United Nations Commission on the matter, is a serious disregard for what these mines pose to the security and safety of Saudi Arabia.

This came in a speech delivered by the Saudi delegation to the United Nations on Wednesday to the Special Political and Decolonization Committee (Fourth Committee) on Mine Action section number 50.

In addition, the delegation of Saudi Arabia expressed its appreciation for the efforts of the United Nations in the area of mine clearance, and the efforts to achieve the United Nations’ Mine Action Strategy for the period 2013-2018.

This is to ensure the safety of people from mines and explosives, and in line with the achievement of the goals of the United Nations' Plan for Sustainable Development 2030.

Mines in the Red Sea

The mines pose a threat throughout the world, and Saudi Arabia is one of those countries that face the threat of landmines with regard to its population and territorial integrity. The Houthi and Saleh’s militias have planted and deployed at least 50,000 mines on the Saudi-Yemeni borders.

They have also developed stone-like landmines which are easy to conceal in the local environment, to increase the risk of targeting civilians.

They also planted tens of thousands of mines indiscriminately in the populated cities and villages of Yemen, leading to the killing of thousands of civilians, as well as planting mines in the Red Sea near the Saudi border.

The mines located in the Red Sea by the coast of Midi and the island of Tawak and in many other areas, threaten the security and safety of international maritime passages, the regional and international security and represent a flagrant violation of related Security Council resolutions.

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/gulf/2017/11/03/Saudi-Arabia-UN-support-for-Houthi-militias-is-unacceptable.html

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After Daesh, Ankara to target former Al-Qaeda affiliate in Syria

3 November 2017

ANKARA: Turkey will target Jabhat Fateh Al-Sham (JFS) after eradicating Daesh, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said.

Targeting JFS, Al-Qaeda’s former affiliate in Syria, constitutes the “real pillar” of the ongoing Russian-Turkish operation in rebel-held Idlib province, he added.

“After Daesh, the real issue will be local terrorist groups” such as JFS, said Erdogan.

“Some will retreat, while others will go away completely. We want locals to return to their territories in Iraq and Syria. We urge moderate opposition groups, the Free Syrian Army (FSA), to stake a claim on their lands.”

Since July, Idlib has been dominated by the Hayat Tahrir Al-Sham terrorist alliance, which includes JFS.

In line with the Astana peace talks, Turkey and Russia are working together to maintain a cease-fire between the Syrian regime and opposition groups in Idlib, and to clear the province of terrorist groups.

“The disappearance of Daesh raises the question of other actors in Syria,” Salih Bicakci, a Middle East expert at Kadir Has University in Istanbul, told Arab News.

“From the beginning, all intervening states were trying to establish a government with moderate opposition actors, but JFS wasn’t on the list. Former Daesh fighters are now joining JFS.”

Ankara is willing to have a permanent presence in Idlib to prevent the formation of a Kurdish state, Bicakci said. To that end, Turkey is planning to maintain good relations with Russia and Iran, he added.

“It’s also possible to read Erdogan’s latest statement from another angle, as Ankara wants to see the FSA as a remarkable actor with which it has effective communication on the ground.”

Turkey’s decision to target JFS post-Daesh does not signify a change in its priorities, as eliminating Syrian affiliates of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) remains its ultimate goal, Bicakci said.

“But Turkey’s struggle against Kurdish groups depends on its relations with Russia,” he added.

Analysts warn that taking on JFS and affiliated groups in Syria could be risky and costly due to their battlefield capabilities and in terms of Turkey’s domestic security.

“If Ankara is decisive in its struggle against JFS, it means Turkish counterterrorism police have to be on high alert,” Bicakci said.

On Wednesday, Turkish police detained 15 people on suspicion of recruiting for JFS and financially supporting it.

Following the operation, which took place in the cities of Istanbul, Agri, Van and Hatay, four suspects were arrested.

Full report at:

http://www.arabnews.com/node/1187381/middle-east

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Secretary of Int'l Union of Resistance Conference: ISIL Defeat Victory of Resistance Front

Nov 02, 2017

"All those who addressed the 2nd International Union of Resistance Scholars referred to the issue of the ISIL and the Takfiri groups, saying that their defeat is actually the victory of resistance," Sheikh Hamoud told FNA on the second day of the conference in Beirut on Thursday.

He underlined that reminding this reality to people will help the future victories.

"The resistance has kept its promises so far and promises again that past victories and the victories which will be gained in the future will leave positive impacts on all the regional people," Sheikh Hamoud said.

The 2nd International Union of Resistance Scholars conference headed by Sheikh Hamoud started work in Beirut on Wednesday.

According to Hamoud, more than 200 scholars from more than 80 countries have taken part in the two-day event in Beirut.

In a message to Hamoud on Wednesday, Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei called for continued fight against Israel.

The Supreme Leader expressed optimism that the divinity promises definite victory in this fight against the Israeli regime.

"Without a doubt, scholarly elites, clerics and politicians, as well as the officials of Muslim countries carry the heavier part of this responsibility; this is a sacred and well-ending Resistance. The Divine promise guarantees definite victory of the resistance," he said.

"Your congress today represents part of this vast, public movement. May God help you succeed on this path. I recommend all individuals, who feel the importance of this great responsibility, to continue different methods of fighting against the usurper Zionist Regime," he underlined in his message.

Sheikh Hamoud appreciated Ayatollah Khamenei's message, expressing the hope that they would deserve this level of trust and attention.

Also, Hamas Leader Ismail Haniyeh underlined the necessity for the Palestinian issue to remain as the Islamic Ummah's principled issue.

Meantime, Hezbollah's Deputy Secretary-General Sheikh Naim Qassem referred to the Zionist regime's crimes, stressing that Palestine will emerge as the final winner of this battle.

Also, Mohamed al-Bouti, a notable Sunni Muslim scholar, described the resistance front as a popular one, stressing that final victory over the Zionist regime is possible by isolation of Takfiri groups.

Meantime, addressing the conference, Secretary General of the World Forum for Proximity of Islamic Schools of Thought (WFPIST) Ayatollah Mohsen Araki underlined that "today we can say that the time is ripe for victory against the US".

Full report at:

The first international conference of resistance scholars was held in Lebanon in May 2016.

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13960811000872

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‘Proud’ Britain marks Balfour anniversary with Netanyahu

2 November 2017

Prime Minister Theresa May and Israeli counterpart Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday were preparing to celebrate the centenary of a British declaration that ultimately led to the foundation of the state of Israel.

“We are proud of our pioneering role in the creation of the state of Israel,” May will say at a dinner in London to mark the date alongside Netanyahu, according to extracts released by her office.

May will also warn about a “pernicious form of anti-Semitism which uses criticism of the actions of the Israeli government as a despicable justification for questioning the very right of Israel to exist.”

On the second day of his five-day visit to Britain, Netanyahu was set to meet with May in her Downing Street office and hold talks with British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, including on the Iran nuclear agreement.

The dinner will be attended by dignitaries including a descendant of the Balfour Declaration’s author, then foreign secretary Lord Arthur Balfour who called for “a national home for the Jewish people”.

Forced from their homes

The declaration is seen as a precursor to Israel’s creation in 1948 and the anniversary is a joyous occasion for Israelis but is contentious for many Palestinians who say it led to hundreds of thousands fleeing or being forced from their homes.

Speaking ahead of his departure for London, Netanyahu said: “The Palestinians say that the Balfour Declaration was a tragedy. It wasn’t a tragedy.

“What’s been tragic is their refusal to accept this 100 years later. I hope they change their mind, because if they do they can move forward finally to making peace between our two peoples,” he said.

At the dinner, May is also set to call for “a renewed resolve to support a lasting peace that is in the interests of both Israelis and Palestinians -- and in the interests of us all.

“A peace deal that must be based on a two-state solution, with a secure and prosperous Israel alongside a viable and sovereign Palestinian state.”

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2017/11/02/-Proud-Britain-marks-Balfour-anniversary-with-Netanyahu.html

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Houthi militias massacre children in Taiz shelling

2 November 2017

In a new massacre to add to its balance of violations against Yemeni children, Houthi militias and forces loyal to ousted Ali Abdullah Saleh indiscriminately shelled residential neighborhoods in the city of Taiz killing seven children and wounding four others.

Sources told Al Arabiya that in another attack a mortar shell fired by militia forces targeted houses in the Anaswa area of the district of Bir Basha in Taiz killing five children and wounding three.

The children killed in the Bir Bahsa assault were identified as Ammar Mohamed Ibrahim, Ahmed Mahyoub, Mohammed Mahyoub , Ammar Mahioub and Amro Mahjoub.

The wounded children were identified as Muammar Jamil, Mohammed Saif and Amr Mohamed Ibrahim.

The Houthi militias are continuing their artillery and rocket attacks on residential neighborhoods in the city of Taiz on a daily basis, causing a number of civilian casualties and extensive damage to homes and property.

A recent non-governmental human rights report accused the United Nations of ignoring the scale of abuses against children in Taiz province by Houthi militias.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/gulf/2017/11/02/Houthi-militias-massacre-children-in-Taiz-shelling.html

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Russia, France: Iran nuclear deal cannot be revised

Nov 3, 2017

Russian President Vladimir Putin and his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron have discussed the 2015 Iran nuclear deal over the phone, highlighting the need to implement the landmark agreement and protecting it from unilateral revisions.

Macron called Putin on Thursday to ask him about the results of his high-profile visit to Tehran the day before.

“In this connection, the two leaders pointed to the need to precisely implement the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) for Iran’s nuclear program. They stressed that a unilateral revision of this important agreement would be unacceptable," the Kremlin press service said in a statement.

Under the JCPOA, Tehran agreed to limit certain parts of its nuclear program in exchange for the removal of nuclear-related sanctions.

While former US President Barack Obama hailed the deal as one of the highlights of his carrier, his successor, Donald Trump, has blasted it as an “embarrassment.”

Trump refused to certify Iran’s commitment to the deal last month, calling on Congress to fix its “flaws.”

The US Congress now has less than 60 days to decide whether to reimpose economic sanctions on Tehran.

This is while the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) on Monday once again reiterated Iran’s adherence to the nuclear agreement, stressing that UN inspectors are facing no problems in their verification efforts.

Full report at:

http://www.presstv.com/Detail/2017/11/03/540806/Russia-France-Iran-nuclear-deal-JCPOA-Putin-Macron

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US trying to whitewash 9/11 facts via wild claims against Iran: Zarif

Nov 3, 2017

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has dismissed US allegations about Iran’s support for the al-Qaeda terror group, describing the claims as an attempt to “whitewash” the truth about the role US allies had in the September 11, 2001 attacks.

“A record low for the reach of petrodollars: CIA & FDD fake news w/ selective AlQaeda docs re: Iran can't whitewash role of US allies in 9/11,” Zarif wrote on his Twitter account on Thursday.

Zarif posted the tweet after the release of a 19-page al-Qaeda report in Arabic, which claimed Iran supported the extremist group before the 9/11 attacks.

The document, part of nearly 47,000 documents recently released by the CIA, quoted the group’s slain leader Osama bin Laden as saying, “Anyone who wants to strike America, Iran is ready to support him and help him with their frank and clear rhetoric.”

It claimed that Iran and al-Qaeda could overlook their differences and join forces when it came to confronting the US.

The US government's 9/11 Commission has made similar allegations, saying Iranian officials met with al-Qaida leaders in Sudan in either 1991 or early 1992.

Ignoring the fact that 15 of the 19 hijackers involved in the 9/11 attacks were Saudi nationals, the commission makes yet another wild claim, alleging that eight of the hijackers who kept passengers on the hijacked flights under control passed through Iran before arriving in the US.

Last year, a New York court ordered Iran to pay $7.5 billion in damages to the families of the 9/11 victims.

Who spawned Al Qaeda after all?

Perhaps, former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has given the clearest response to this question.

Clinton has admitted on numerous occasions, including in a 2010 Fox News interview, that the US government and its intelligence agencies created al-Qaeda.

“Let’s remember here… the people we are fighting today we funded them 20 years ago… and we did it because we were locked in a struggle with the Soviet Union,” she said. “And great, let them come from Saudi Arabia and other countries, importing their Wahhabi brand of Islam so that we can go beat the Soviet Union,” she said during the interview.

“So there is a very strong argument which is… it wasn’t a bad investment in terms of the Soviet Union but let’s be careful with what we sow… because we will harvest,” she warned.

9/11 congressional report

Saudi Arabia’s role in the deadly 9/11 attacks became more clear last year, when the US finally decided to declassify parts of the 9/11 congressional report it had kept secret for years.

The heavily redacted document mentions many individuals that the congressional inquiry believed deserved more investigation regarding their ties to the Saudi regime, including Omar al-Bayoumi, a suspected Saudi intelligence agent who helped two of the hijackers in California.

The report also drew a possible link between the hijackers and then Saudi Ambassador to the US Prince Bandar bin Sultan.

Apparently, when US security forces retrieved the phone book of Abu Zubaydah, the first high-profile al-Qaeda terror suspect captured after 9/11, they found an unlisted number traced to ASPCOL Corp. in Aspen, Colorado. Further investigation showed that the firm “manages the affairs of the Colorado residence” of the Saudi prince.

The Riyadh regime, however, has kept mum in the face of the growing evidence.

Full report at:

http://www.presstv.com/Detail/2017/11/03/540805/Iran-Zarif-CIA-US-Saudi-Arabia-911-attacks-Qaeda-bin-Laden

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Israel, Saudi Arabia have linked up against Iran: Larijani

Nov 2, 2017

Iranian Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani says Israel and Saudi Arabia are in cahoots against the Islamic Republic, which has played a positive role in providing regional security.

“The Zionist regime and Saudi Arabia have linked up in their enmity towards Iran and in regional and international issues, they are making moves against the Islamic Republic," he said on Thursday while addressing a session in the Iranian city of Qom.

Tel Aviv and Riyadh, Larijani said, are seeking to provoke the US against Iran, but this situation has led to a break in the belief that always viewed Iran as the cause of trouble, because "everybody is seeing how America is making some mischief."

"The hostility of the Saudis toward Iran was covert in the past, but they are now openly engaged in enmity against Iran," he said, adding the kingdom was provoking terrorist currents in the region and counter-revolutionaries against Tehran.   

"The Islamic Republic of Iran does not seek hostility with other countries," Larijani said.

As for Israel, he said that "the Zionist regime is seeking to support al-Nusra Front after disillusionment with Daesh, because they are worried about the activities of Iran and the axis of resistance, which are detrimental" to Tel Aviv.

Larijani also touched on Iran's standing in the region and its role in establishing security, saying, “Iran has resolved many crises ... and even the Europeans are now aware of the positive role, which Iran has in establishing security," he said.

The Europeans have sided with Iran after US President Donald Trump refused last month to formally certify Iran’s compliance with the nuclear agreement reached between Iran and the P5+1 countries in June 2015.

Larijani said, "Between the United States and its European allies, a schism has been created over Iran's nuclear issue, which is not of little importance."

Iran, he said, has made this "achievement with shrewdness" in spite of Saudi Arabia and Israel, which spent money and other resources to scuttle the nuclear agreement, which is known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

The parliament speaker also touched on Russian President Vladimir Putin's strong opposition, which he announced in his Tehran visit Wednesday, to any renegotiation of the nuclear deal  to include Iran's missile program as sought by the US leader. 

Full report at:

http://www.presstv.com/Detail/2017/11/02/540764/Israel-Saudi-Arabia-Iran-US-Ali-Larijani

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Syria urges UN action after fresh Israeli airstrikes

Nov 2, 2017

Syria has written two letters to the United Nations, calling on the world body to take swift action against Israel's attacks on the Arab country.

In the letters addressed to the UN chief and the Security Council chairman, the Syrian Foreign and Expatriates Ministry complained on Thursday about a recent Israeli airstrike on a copper factory for civil industries in the town of Hassia in Homs Province.

The Syrian ministry urged the UN Security Council to take "strict and immediate" measures to stop Israeli attacks.

The so-called Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a pro-opposition monitoring group, claimed that Israeli warplanes had targeted an arms depot belonging either to the Syrian government or the Lebanese Hezbollah resistance movement.

Israel's Transportation and Intelligence Minister Yisrael Katz declined to comment on the strike, but repeated a threat to hit what he called “arms smuggling” to Hezbollah.

Syria's state television reported "an aggression" by Israel in Homs, adding that the army had "responded" by firing a surface-to-air missile at the aircraft. Israel's Channel 10 television said the Israeli jets were not hit and returned safely to base.

During the past few years, Israel has frequently attacked military targets in Syria in what is considered as an attempt to prop up terrorist groups that have been suffering heavy defeats against Syrian government forces.

Full report at:

http://www.presstv.com/Detail/2017/11/02/540770/Syria-Israel-Homs-UN

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Saudi Arabia slams Houthis for planting 50,000 mines on Saudi-Yemeni border

3 November 2017

RIYADH: The Kingdom slammed the Houthi rebels and their cohorts at the UN for planting 50,000 mines on the Saudi-Yemeni border at random.

This came in the Kingdom’s address before the Fourth Committee on “the item on mine action” prepared by Manal Radwan, political coordinator and first secretary at the Saudi mission to the UN.

Radwan said the Saudi-led coalition aiming to restore the legitimate government in Yemen was able to clear mines in Aden, Abyan, Dhala, Lahj, Taiz, Saada, Sanaa, and other areas.

The US-educated Radwan added that the mines posed a great danger to life and limb among Saudi troops and the local population.

“The Houthi militias have developed mines and manufactured them in a way that it is easy to conceal these in the local environment, like stones and other things, which increase the risk to civilians,” said Radwan.

Radwan said the Houthis have recruited children to plant mines, putting them at grave risk and violating their childhood and right to a safe life.

In cooperation with the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), the Kingdom has repatriated 54 children who were recruited by the Houthis and their cohorts.

Full report at:

http://www.arabnews.com/node/1187501/saudi-arabia

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CIA documents ‘conclusive proof of Al-Qaeda-Iran ties’

3 November 2017

JEDDAH: Wednesday’s release by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) of documents seized during the 2011 raid that killed Osama bin Laden has “conclusively proved” the terror chief’s cosy relationship with Iran, experts say.

US intelligence officials and prosecutors have long said Iran formed loose ties to Al-Qaeda from 1991 onward.

This was noted in a 19-page report in Arabic that was included in the release of some 47,000 other documents by the CIA.

Iran has long denied any involvement with Al-Qaeda, but the report included in the CIA document dump shows how Bin Laden partnered with Tehran to target the US.

The Associated Press (AP) examined a copy of the report released by the Long War Journal, a publication backed by the Washington-based Foundation for Defense of Democracies, a think tank fiercely critical of Iran and skeptical of its nuclear deal with world powers. The CIA gave the Long War Journal early access to the material.

“Anyone who wants to strike America, Iran is ready to support him and help him with their frank and clear rhetoric,” AP quotes the report as saying.

The unsigned report is dated in the Islamic calendar year 1428 (2007), and offers what appears to be a history of Al-Qaeda’s relationship with Iran.

It says Iran offered Al-Qaeda fighters “money and arms and everything they need, and offered them training in Hezbollah camps in Lebanon, in return for striking American interests in Saudi Arabia.”

This coincides with an account offered by the US government’s 9/11 Commission, which said Iranian officials met with Al-Qaeda leaders in Sudan in either 1991 or early 1992.

The commission said Al-Qaeda militants later received training in Lebanon from the Shiite militant group Hezbollah.

US prosecutors also said Al-Qaeda had the backing of Iran and Hezbollah in their 1998 indictment of Bin Laden following Al-Qaeda’s truck bombings of the US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania that killed 224 people, including 12 Americans.

Oubai Shahbandar, a Syrian-American analyst and fellow at the New America Foundation’s International Security Program, said the documents provide for the first time direct evidence of the symbiotic relationship between Al-Qaeda’s most senior operatives and Tehran.

“Without Iranian support and safe haven, Al-Qaeda as an organization couldn’t have endured for as long as it did following the international backlash it faced after the 9/11 terror attacks,” Shahbandar told Arab News.

“That Bin Laden was personally involved in establishing Al-Qaeda’s network in Iran shows how shrewd and cynical the regime in Tehran truly is, and how capable and willing it is to support international extremist groups like Al-Qaeda and its successor Daesh.”

Harvard scholar and Iranian affairs expert Majid Rafizadeh said he is not surprised by the damning revelations.

“There has long been strong evidence showing the connection between Tehran and Al-Qaeda, including the fact that the Iranian regime has sheltered Al-Qaeda leaders,” he told Arab News.

“Iran is the top state sponsor of terrorism. Its regime supports, funds, arms and trains any terrorist group that shares its revolutionary values, such as anti-Americanism and pursuing hegemonic ambitions in the region,” he said.

“As a US federal judge found, Iran was a key player in facilitating the 9/11 terrorist attacks. The US should’ve confronted the Iranian regime, not Iraq,” Rafizadeh added.

“The US should hold the Iranian regime, and those leaders who helped facilitate the 9/11 attacks, accountable through various means such as sanctioning them, bringing them to the International Criminal Court (ICC) and isolating them.”

Full report at:

http://www.arabnews.com/node/1187461/middle-east

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Turkish police seize ‘record’ amount of explosives in ISIL operation

November 02 2017

Police have seized a "record” amount of explosives in an operation against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) that helped foil the group’s plan to carry out a massacre at the Forum Istanbul shopping mall.

According to intelligence units, the anti-ISIL operation conducted over the weekend prevented a major bomb attack that the militants planned to stage in Istanbul.

“This is maybe the biggest and most successful operation of the past 30 years when taking its contents into account,” a high level intelligence source told daily Habertürk on Nov. 2, adding that the joint efforts of the National Intelligence Agency (MİT) and Istanbul police saved Turkey from a massive disaster.

Anti-terror police in Istanbul launched an operation on Oct. 27 after two consecutive explosions took place in two buildings in Istanbul’s Esenyurt and Arnavutköy districts.

In the raids that followed the blasts, police confiscated a total of 56 bomb set-ups prepared with 16 different chemical materials and strengthened with aluminum and steel marbles, 67 bomb molds weighing between three and four kilograms each, 32 propane cylinders, gas cans, iron marbles and four suicide vests ready to be worn.

According to the police, ISIL could have staged more than 40 attacks with the aforementioned amount of seized explosives.

Moreover, two kilograms of unidentified white powder was also found in one of the cell houses.

“This amount of explosives hasn’t been seized in a long time,” the intelligence officer told Habertürk, while praising the operation.

Mücahit Şahin and Can Yenil, who were caught in the mall, were being tracked by intelligence units over their suspected links to ISIL.

Police determined that they rented houses in Arnavutköy and Esenyurt, and both of them were staying with women believed to be their wives.

Both houses were under surveillance 24 hours a day in order to bust an ISIL cell, and the operation kicked off when Şahin and Yenil hastily left their houses late on Oct. 27, which was followed by explosions.

Intelligence units continued to track Şahin and Yenil and detained them, as well as the women with them, when they entered the mall in order to prevent a possible attack.

It was recently revealed that the four suspected militants set up a three-phase bomb plan aiming to carry out a massacre at the mall, which consisted of detonating bombs inside and outside the mall before donning suicide vests and staging suicide attacks targeting people rushing to help victims of the two blasts.

Meanwhile, police detained a total of 283 suspected ISIL militants in operations carried out in the past 11 days.

Police on Nov. 2 said they seized 66 improvised explosive devices during the anti-ISIL operations conducted in 25 provinces across Turkey.

Full report at:

http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/turkish-police-seize-record-amount-of-explosives-in-isil-operation-121809

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Former New Yorker, ISIL's alleged Turkey recruiter extradited to US

November 02 2017

An Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL) recruiter, who reportedly worked in Turkey in the so-called "ISIL border offce" and who is a permanent U.S. resident who abandoned the United States in 2013 to join the group and to cheer on suicide bombers while recruiting and spreading propaganda on the internet has been captured in the Bosnian capital, Sarajevo, authorities said on Nov. 1.

The former Bronx and Brooklyn resident was extradited Oct. 31 from Bosnia and Herzegovina to face a six-count indictment including charges of conspiracy and providing and attempting to provide support to the ISIL. He has been detained since his July arrest in Sarajevo, the Associated Press reported on Nov. 1.

William F. Sweeney Jr., head of the New York FBI office, said Mirsad Kandic expressed a desire to travel overseas to kill or maim U.S. military forces long before he used fake documents to overcome a no-fly designation in December 2013 and travel to Turkey.

Sweeney said Kandic assisted Jake Bilardi, an 18-year-old Australian citizen who died in a suicide bomb attack west of Baghdad in March 2015, the U.S. Justice Department's memo read.

“Kandic eventually put his desire in action when he traveled to Turkey to join ISIL, and from there he set about recruiting others, including Jake Bilardi, to support his cause. Just prior to Bilardi successfully detonating a suicide bomb in Ramadi, Kandic told Bilardi he hoped Bilardi’s victims’ organs would ‘implode,’ and just after the attack, Kandic publicized it on Twitter.  Kandic is now back in New York, no longer living freely among us, but rather in federal custody to face justice,” Sweeney said.

A few days before Bilardi flew to Turkey, Kandic sent Twitter messages instructing Bilardi to stand in a particular section of an airport in Istanbul.  Kandic informed Bilardi that he would send someone to meet him there.  From Turkey, Bilardi traveled to ISIL-controlled territory in Syria and Iraq.  Kandic continued to communicate with Bilardi and encouraged him to commit a suicide attack in Iraq.

In early March 2015, Bilardi informed Kandic via Twitter that he “just went to look at my target today for my operation.”  Kandic replied, “May Allah reward you immensely.”  Kandic later added: “May Allah make there inner organs implode.”  On March 11, 2015, Bilardi committed a suicide bombing in Ramadi, Iraq.  Kandic publicized the attack via Twitter.  

Kandic told associates that he traveled to and from ISIL-controlled territory, including Raqqa, Syria, in connection with his work with ISIL. In a recorded voice memo from Kandic to an associate, Kandic stated, “I have a lot of Mujahideen in Europe, a lot,” and “I sent out over 20,000 brothers . . . to Sham.”  “Mujahideen” refers to fighters.  “Sham” is frequently used by ISIL members to refer to the region of the Levant, including Syria.

Sweeney said of charges that carry a potential for a life prison sentence.

James Branden, a lawyer for Kandic, said he had no immediate comment. His client pleaded not guilty in Brooklyn and was detained without bail.

Acting U.S. Attorney Bridget M. Rohde said Kandic recruited others to join ISIL, "swelling their ranks and helping them commit terrorist acts such as suicide bombings."

The government said Kandic began as early as 2005 to express a desire to travel to Pakistan, Afghanistan and elsewhere in the Middle East to fight U.S. forces in martyrdom missions.

"By late 2013, the defendant began trying to realize those objectives," prosecutors wrote.

Authorities said Kandic recruited individuals from the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, and elsewhere to travel to Syria and Iraq and join the group’s battles. They said he told an associate online that he worked in Turkey in the "ISIL border office" as part of a team that conducted background checks of foreign fighters who wanted to go to Syria.

In court filings unsealed Nov. 1, prosecutors said Kandic’s voice was captured in a recorded voice memo to an associate saying he had sent over 20,000 fighters to a region that included Syria.

Full report at:

http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/former-new-yorker-isils-alleged-turkey-recruiter-captured-in-sarajevo-121769

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Africa

 

Niger asks US to use armed drones against militants in African country

Nov 2, 2017

Niger has called on the United States to use armed drones against extremist militants operating on the African country’s border with neighboring Mali.

Nigerien Defense Minister Kalla Mountari said in an interview with Reuters on Wednesday that his country was open to allowing US drone strikes against terror outfits, nearly one month after a number of forces from a joint US-Nigerien patrol were killed in a militant ambush north of the capital, Niamey, and near Mali’s border.

“I asked them (the Americans) some weeks ago to arm them (the drones) and use them as needed,” Mountari said.

When asked if Washington had accepted the request, he said, “Our enemies will find out.”

Meanwhile, an anonymous US official welcomed the Nigerien defense minister’s comments, saying armed drones would be helpful in protecting US troops and potentially targeting militants. But he said he was unaware of any formal agreement having been reached between Niamey and Washington.

In the October 5 ambush, four US Special Forces troops along with five Nigerien soldiers were killed after coming under attack by the suspected members of the so-called al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb.

The US soldiers were reportedly providing “training and security assistance” to the Nigerien Armed Forces to fight against violent extremists in the country.

The US conducts controversial drone strikes in other parts of the world, including in Somalia, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and elsewhere. The drone attacks, often described by the US as “targeted” strikes, anger local populations, who say civilians are often killed in the attacks.

During a protest rally earlier this week, dozens of demonstrators chanted slogans against the presence of foreign troops in Niger.

The country is part of an African counter-terrorism task force known as the G5 Sahel, which also comprises troops from Mali, Burkina Faso, Chad, and Mauritania.

Washington recently announced that the American military was shifting its counter-terrorism strategy in Africa and would expand military operations in the continent.

US Defense Secretary James Mattis told lawmakers in Congress that the Pentagon would expand the ability to use lethal force against suspected terrorists in Africa and place decision-making authority in the hands of US commanders on the field.

http://www.presstv.com/Detail/2017/11/02/540706/Niger-Kalla-Mountari-US-armed-drones-terrorist-groups

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Ethiopia sends thousands of troops to Somalia to fight al-Shabab

Nov 2, 2017

Ethiopia has deployed thousands of troops to neighboring Somalia to help a regional fight against the al-Shabab Takfiri group, the most feared terror outfit in Africa.

Villagers in western Somalia said Thursday they had witnessed Ethiopian troops passing through the border Thursday morning to enter the country.

Abdullahi Yusuf, an elder in Luq town, said tanks and armored vehicles carrying Ethiopian troops entered Somalia and made their way through southwestern territories.

Muhummed Muse, a resident of Dolow town, said he had witnessed dozens of armored vehicles passing through.

Ethiopian authorities confirmed the new deployment, saying it was a routine for the country’s military to contribute to the ongoing fight against al-Shabab in Somalia.

A Foreign Ministry spokesman, Meles Alem, said the deployment was in line with Ethiopia’s responsibilities as one of the troop-contributing countries of AMISOM, the African Union mission in Somalia.

“It is a routine or normal military activity of the Ethiopian contingent based in Somalia to support the fight against terrorism,” said Alem.

The deployment follows a huge bombing in Somalia’s capital Mogadishu on October 14 that left over 300 people killed. Though no group claimed responsibility, officials said al-Shabab, the main militant group in Somalia which has been behind decades of havoc in the Horn of Africa country, was responsible for the bomb attack.

The group also claimed a high-profile truck bombing and a siege on a hotel in Mogadishu, which left scores of people dead last week.

Full report at:

http://www.presstv.com/Detail/2017/11/02/540775/Somalia-Ethiopia-troops-Shabaab

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Nigeria: CAN Replies Osinbajo, Insists There's Plot to 'Islamise' Nigeria

2 NOVEMBER 2017

By Evelyn Okakwu

The Christian Association of Nigeria has responded to Vice President Yemi Osinbajo's explanation of the federal government's adoption of Sukuk bonds.

Speaking during a pastors' conference in Lagos on Friday, Mr. Osinbajo said CAN was wrong in its conclusion that the federal government's adoption of the Sukuk bond was a ploy to Islamise Nigeria.

Mr. Osinbajo criticised CAN for what he described as the association's constant alarm about Islamisation, which he said was comparable to a fruitless search for invisible demons.

"Part of the problem is the failure of Christian leadership to take its rightful place. We focus our minds on something we call the Islamic agenda. We look for it everywhere as if we are looking for demons," he said.

"The Sukuk is an Islamic concept, which enables people to have access to credit. It is essentially like a bond. The US, UK, China, South Africa have all used the Sukuk. Once there is money in the market, let us not get sentimental. The most important thing is for us to use those monies well," Mr. Osinbajo was quoted by the Punch as saying.

But CAN urged the vice president to stop discrediting the association.

A statement signed by CAN's head of media and communications, Adebayo Oladeji, quoted the CAN president, Samson Ayokunle, as saying that Mr. Osinbajo was oblivious of what CAN called illegal actions of successive governments in a bid to actualise the Islamic agenda.

"The Organisation of Islamic Countries met in London in 1983 with a follow up meeting in Nigeria in 1989 and had issued a communiqué to Islamize Africa with Nigeria capturing a great attention. This is a public knowledge while facts could be obtained from Wikipedia with links on OIC's Conference in London, 1983 and Abuja Declaration of 1989," CAN said.

"It is also a matter of fact that Nigeria was later made an observer member of the body (OIC) through General Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida. Under General Sani Abacha, another Muslim leader, Nigeria was made full member in total violation of the constitution that the nation is secular and our government should not be religiously partisan.

"From then on, conscious efforts were on to draw Nigeria into joining different Islamic organizations in keeping with the resolutions of OIC & Islam in Africa Organization (IAO)," the statement said.

The statement said CAN was not opposed to peaceful efforts aimed at preaching the Islamic gospel, but said it would not accept the adoption of Islamic resolutions aimed at compelling the country towards Islam.

"We are not opposed to Islamic evangelism by any Muslim group if done with a peaceful motive. The Christians also exercise their constitutional rights to do so through revivals and gospel rallies. But we are opposed to the government of Nigeria adopting Islamic resolutions aimed towards a compelling of this country, contrary to the dictates of the constitution," it said.

"Our worry as a body is that Nigeria started getting active in international Islamic alliances and organizations in total violation of the constitution. But the Vice President seems not conscious of this and the motive behind adoption of the Sukkuk Bond. Then we ask, Is Sukkuk constitutional? Is Sukkuk not part of the resolutions of OIC & IAO Is it not part of Nigeria's adoption of Islamic sharia and financial system that it is mandatory for all governments in Africa subscribing to Islam?

"We also ask why the present government joined Islamic Military Alliance against terrorism. Are we an Islamic nation to so do? Can't Nigeria fight terrorism without joining Islamic coalition? Why would the government continue to consciously heat up the polity," the statement said.

CAN President, Sampson Ayokunle

A lawyer, Jiti Ogunye, shed more light on the Sukuk bond and what he believes CAN should be saying regarding the bond.

"Quite frankly one cannot see the woods from the trees as far as CAN's arguments are concerned. Sufficient explanations have been made by the vice president regarding the Sukuk bond. And although because of our painful experiences with government's pronouncements in the past we must take what government says with a pinch of the salt," he said.

"On this one the explanation is very plain and understandable. That explanation is that the bank that Nigeria took the loan from is one which Nigeria is part of. Invariably, we are not talking about a bank that Nigeria is not a part of. Interesting CAN is not even saying that Nigeria should not be a part of the bank, but that we should not take the Sukuk bond. That argument is faulty.

"It's been explained that Nigeria joined this Islamic bank since 2005 or thereabout; why has CAN not gone to court to get an order of court to say that this is a violation of our secularity status: to obtain an order of prohibition against government since that time? Why is that they are just talking now with the emergence of the Sukuk bond?

"My take is that that bond has nothing to do with the Islamisation of Nigeria. You do not Islamise a country by the injection of foreign funds for development in that country. We have not been told that these funds are meant to build more Mosques or ensure that more people go to Hajj for example; so in terms of intent and purpose of the bonds and the money, there is nothing that offends our secularity status in that," Mr. Ogunye said.

The lawyer warns that CAN might lose its credibility, if it persists in taking "unpopular" position.

"CAN has not been able to point to a position in any of our laws that forbids what the government has done to the Sukuk bond.

"I think that an organisation as important as CAN owes itself and Nigeria a responsibility to backtrack when its advocacy appears wrong-headed and misleading. You can make an advocacy, advice or make a suggestion. But in the course of an enshrined debate, when you come to a realisation that your position is untenable, you don't remain obdurate adamant or obstinate about it. Rather you beat a strategic retreat.

Full report at:

http://allafrica.com/stories/201711020518.html

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Tunisian policeman dies after knife attack

November 02, 2017

A Tunisian police officer who was stabbed by a suspected Islamist died of his wounds on Thursday, a national security spokesman said.

The suspect, named as Zied Gharbi, was arrested on Wednesday after two policemen were wounded with a knife near the parliament. He shouted “Allahu Akbar” - God is greatest - as he stabbed the policeman in the neck, witness and officials said.

The attack was close to the Bardo museum where 21 people, mostly European tourists, were killed in an attack by gunmen in March 2015.

Tunisia suffered two other major attacks that year, one against tourists at the beach resort of Sousse and the other against presidential guards in the capital.

“Our colleague Riadh Barrouta died Thursday after the terrorist attack in Bardo yesterday,” Walid Hkima, a national security spokesman, said.

The attacker was 25 and from Ettadamen, one of the largest, poorest suburbs of Tunis.

The Interior Ministry said Wednesday’s attacker had confessed that “he had adopted Takfiri thought three years ago and believes that killing security forces is a form of jihad”.

“Takfiri thought” refers to a view that Muslims should proclaim other Muslims to be infidels and justify attacks against them.

Zied Gharbi has no ties with Islamist groups, but he had been influenced by hard-line ideology on the Internet, officials said.

“Initial investigations showed that this terrorist does not belong to any terrorist organization, he had not received orders from any group,” Hkima said.

Full report at:

http://nation.com.pk/02-Nov-2017/tunisian-policeman-dies-after-knife-attack

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Nigeria: Buhari, Sultan, Make Top 50 World Influential Muslim Leaders

2 NOVEMBER 2017

By Abbas Jimoh

President Muhammadu Buhari, the Sultan of Sokoto and President of the Nigeria Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA) Muhammadu Sa'ad Abubakar were the only Nigerians listed in the rankings among the top 50 influential Muslim leaders in the world.

A renowned Maiduguri based Islamic cleric, Sheikh Ibrahim Salih however dropped from the first 50 but was listed among the top 500.

They were listed in the 9th edition of the annual "The Muslim 500: The World's 500 Most Influential Muslims" 2018 formally released on Thursday.

It said that apart from being citizens of their respective countries, those recognised also have a sense of belonging to Muslim community worldwide.

It among others measured influence to include; any person who has the power (be it cultural, ideological, financial, political or otherwise) to make a change that will have a significant impact on the Muslim world.

It however, added that the impact can be either positive or negative, depending on one's point of view.

"The first two examples also point to the fact that the lists, and especially the Top 50, are dominated by religious scholars and heads of state. Their dominant and lasting influence cannot be denied, especially the rulers, who in many cases also appoint religious scholars to their respective positions," it said.

It listed 13 criteria scholarly, political, administration of religious affairs, preachers and spiritual guides, philanthropy/charity and development, social issues, business, science and technology, arts and culture, Qur'an reciters, media, celebrities and sports stars, and extremists where those ranked were selected from.

While President Buhari was listed as number 19 (17 last year and 20 in 2016 even as a first timer) in the rankings, the Sultan whose highest ranking was in 2009 at number 16, was listed as 23 (22 last year and 24 in 2016).

The publication list Professor Sheikh Ahmad Muhammad Al-Tayyeb the Grand Sheikh of the Al-Azhar University and Grand Imam of the Al-Azhar Mosque as number one, retaining his 2017 position.

King Salman Abdul-Aziz Al-Saud of Saudi Arabia however emerged the second after displacing King Abdullah Al-Hussein of Jordan to the third position. The Jordanian King was number one on 2016.

The duo of the Iranian Supreme Leader Grand Ayatollah Hajj Sayyid Ali Khamenei and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan came fourth and fifth respectively.

In a short citation the publication recognised President Buhari's past military career, his anti-corruption credentials and his promise and subsequent efforts to deal with the insurgent group, Boko Haram and the economy and infrastructure.

Full report at:

http://allafrica.com/stories/201711030010.html

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Europe

 

From NYC to Charlie Hebdo, why is Islam the target?

Saadet Oruç

November 3, 2017

Tuesday's terrorist attack in New York City coincided with news reports that revealed a U.S. Department of Defense paper about the cost of the U.S. war on global terrorism.

According to the reports, since the 9/11 attacks the United States has spent $250 million a day while the total expenditure stands at around $1.4 trillion. Yet, the U.S. still seems to be far from preventing terrorism even on its own soil.

A U.S.-resident of Uzbek origin drove a pickup truck into a crowd in New York City on Tuesday, mercilessly killing eight and wounding a dozen innocent people. Minutes after the attack, the terrorist was shot by police before being arrested. This incident came just a month after a mass shooting in Las Vegas, which the motivation behind still remains unanswered.

Soon after the attack, serious manipulation against Muslims, immigrants and different identities started appearing in U.S. media. Without any proof, a reference was made to the attacker's so-called Muslim origin. Right after, U.S. President Donald Trump questioned the U.S. green card delivery system and called for the attacker to get the death penalty.

While the Las Vegas attack, which was carried out by a white American man, still waits to be fully explained, a seal was quickly put on the attack in New York City. If you have a Muslim immigrant, a link can easily be discovered between the religion and the act of terrorism, an approach that has become a serious threat to the welfare of Western societies.

In another part of the world, a Muslim intellectual, Tariq Ramadan, currently faced serious allegations of sexual harassment in the midst of similar accusations against some Hollywood figures and even politicians in Europe.

British Defense Secretary Michael Fallon has resigned because of similar accusations and some well-known Hollywood figures such as Kevin Spacey and Harvey Weinstein have been accused of sexual misconduct, as well. Yet, none of them were linked to their religious identity, nor was their religious identity used as an attack against their religion.

Meanwhile, a catastrophic front page of the French satirical cartoon magazine Charlie Hebdo again targeted Islam, using Ramadan's case as a starting point.

Ramadan, who is the grandson of Hassan al-Banna – the founder of the Muslim Brothers in Egypt, is seen to be a subject of a smear campaign because of his political and religious identity. However, he is capable enough to defend himself and so I would like to underline – without any intention of discussing the facts behind the allegations against Ramadan – the anti-Islam position taken by certain Western intellectuals and policymakers.

No matter a terrorist attack or an allegation against an individual, any link with Islam is used to plant the seeds of enmity against Islam in Western societies.

The above issues need to be tackled and answered by Western decision makers. If measures are not taken in social and education studies or in policy changes, the price of these seeds will be very expensive for Muslims as well as Western societies. The warning bells have been ringing for decades.

https://www.dailysabah.com/columns/saadet-oruc/2017/11/03/from-nyc-to-charlie-hebdo-why-is-islam-the-target

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UK Is Tougher On Facebook Posts Than ISIS Returnees

11/02/2017

While America reels from the Islamic terror attack in Manhattan on Tuesday, the United Kingdom is planning not to prosecute hundreds of ISIS fighters arriving on its shores.

Seriously.

Max Hill, a top government adviser who oversees anti-terrorism laws for the British government, told BBC last week that an estimated 400 ISIS militants have already returned to the UK — and authorities have decided to not do anything about it.

Speaking on the fact that the UK is hosting such a large number of known jihadis, Hill said, “That means that the authorities have looked at them, and looked at them hard, and decided that they do not justify prosecution, and really we should be looking towards reintegration and moving away from any notion that we’re going to lose a generation thanks to this travel.”

It seems government officials in the UK are far more troubled by losing a “generation” to ISIS than having that generation’s return to their nation’s shores. Those jihadis just need to be reintegrated and everything will be a-okay.

The authorities’ ideas for reintegrating these foreign jihadis include giving them free housing and other taxpayer-funded support. What a way to punish terrorism.

This proposal of letting in hundreds of hardened Islamic militants in the country without any consequences for the returnees has sparked vigorous debate in Britain.

Unfortunately, plenty of British commentators think the proposal is a brilliant idea.

Self-proclaimed feminist journalist Sirena Bergman recently argued on a television panel that most of these jihadis were simply too naive to understand ISIS barbarism.

“We want those people [British ISIS fighters] to come back. We want to encourage them to reintegrate into society,” Bergman said, before ranting about “divisive rhetoric” that calls for killing the militants.

The journalist also takes the peculiar stance that the only reason the UK wants to kill, or at least disenfranchise ISIS militants is because most Britons “don’t agree” with their ideology.

Writing for The Guardian in September, United Nations consultant Sanam Naraghi-Anderlini argued the best weapon to de-radicalize returning jihadis was with “our humanity.”

Naraghi-Anderlini asserts that many of these hardcore militants are victims as well, and urges a humane approach that seeks to rehabilitate them into their old communities.

“As we face the prospect of Isis returnees to the UK, we must challenge our own perceptions. It would be easy if they were all one-dimensional, Bond-movie bad guys – but they are not. If we fall victim to this sort of thinking, we become that which we abhor and fear,” the UN consultant writes. “Instead our collective task as a nation is to find our own deep well of decency and humanity, to be fair and compassionate, just and kind, and perhaps above all to care.”

The message here is that Britons can win over ISIS returnees with their superior values of tolerance and compassion, values that apparently didn’t win over these militants when they previously dwelled in the UK.

Militants with British passports have already experienced the benefits of the welfare state and the “superiority” of modern progressive values. They rejected all those things in favor of religious war against the West. Giving them more benefits and a gay pride parade will do little to soothe the alienation that convinced them to join ISIS in the first place.

The UK already has thousands of known radicals within its borders and currently lives under a “severe” terror threat level. Welcoming more terrorists into the country does not seem like a brilliant idea.

It is interesting that British elites and government officials preach tolerance when it comes to members of a group that butchered, raped and enslaved thousands of people, but turn into zealous crusaders when it comes to politically incorrect Facebook posts.

As previously mentioned, Prime Minister Theresa May and her government believe the best way to tackle terror is through internet censorship. However, the usual targets for British police crackdowns on internet malfeasance are those who criticize Islam, not those who want to kill in its name. (RELATED: Theresa May’s Answer To Terror: Restrict The Internet)

Whenever an attack occurs, police spokesmen come out to say that mean comments about Islam will not be tolerated — in sharp contrast to the loving tolerance shown for returning soldiers of the caliphate.

After British soldier Lee Rigby was beheaded in broad daylight by a jihadi back in 2013, multiple people were rounded up by British police for “insensitive” social media posts reacting to the horrific crime. (Rigby’s murderer is now reported to be converting a number of his fellow prison inmates to Islam.)

Conservative commentator Katie Hopkins was investigated by London police for allegedly hateful tweets in response to the Manchester bombing in May.

The British government has also explicitly stated that they will target “far-right propaganda” in their campaign against internet extremism, which is supposed to be primarily concerned with Islamism. (RELATED: UK Wants To Jail People For Years For Viewing ‘Far-Right Propaganda’)

Considering how broad of a definition “far-right propaganda” can constitute, it’s reasonable to think that British officials will abuse their power designed to counter terror to silence politically incorrect dissidents instead.

The UK has a serious problem with terrorism, one that is greater than the US. However, their preferred method for solving it will do little to stem the tide, while their idiotic immigration policies and friendliness toward ISIS returnees only guarantee future attacks.

And conservatives are the ones (supposedly) in charge in the UK.

Full report at:

http://dailycaller.com/2017/11/02/uk-is-tougher-on-facebook-posts-than-isis-returnees/

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Jeremy Corbyn attended event held by Muslim group accused of hosting preachers with extremist views

Jack Maidment

2 NOVEMBER 2017

Jeremy Corbyn attended an event in Parliament held by a Muslim group accused of hosting preachers with extremist views.

Mr Corbyn reportedly addressed the Muslim Engagement and Development (Mend) event on Wednesday evening with a handful of Labour MPs also believed to have attended.

Mend was this week accused by a think tank of being “Islamists masquerading as civil libertarians”.

Mr Corbyn’s appearance at the event came after it was also reported that he has refused to attend an official dinner on Thursday evening with the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to mark the centenary of the Balfour Declaration, the 1917 British statement that helped pave the way for the creation of Israel.

He has apparently asked Emily Thornberry, the shadow foreign secretary, to attend in his absence.

The Sunday Times reported that four MPs had pulled out of attending the Mend event in the Commons, quoting Anna Soubry, the co-chairwoman of the all party parliamentary group on British muslims, as saying she had decided not to go because the organisation “don’t have the best of reputations”.

Meanwhile, Crispin Blunt, Sir Ed Davey and Joanna Cherry, who were all due to attend but pulled out, said in a statement: “It has become clear there is controversy over Mend's record and claims of links between the organisation and extremist views.”

The Jewish Chronicle reported that Mr Corbyn told last night’s event: “Our future lies in mutual respect between all communities.”

The Henry Jackson Society claimed in a report published earlier this week that “Mend meets the government’s own definition of extremism” and had “regularly hosted illiberal, intolerant and extremist Islamist speakers”.

Tom Wilson, the author of the report and a research fellow at the think tank, said when it was published: “Public figures and elected officials agreeing to speak at Mend’s events should be aware that this is an organisation which has hosted preachers known for their extremist and intolerant views.

“That is who they are aligning themselves with”.

But Mend rejected the accusations and said the report “equates political dissent with extremism”.

It said in a statement: “Our Parliamentary event shows that we operate in the mainstream of British society and our work has recently been praised by senior figures in all three main UK political parties, including the Labour Party and Liberal Democrat Party leaders.

“The Henry Jackson Society report clearly has its own partisan agenda and is aimed at discrediting Mend with a view to trying to discourage politicians, journalists, unions, civil liberty organisations and others to work with us.”

Mend also said that many of the claims in the report are “based on innuendo and false assertions” and that the organisation “unequivocally reject any allegations of anti-semitism, homophobia, or extremism”.

Theresa May is due to speak alongside Mr Netanyahu at the dinner this evening and she is expected to warn there "can be no excuses for any kind of hatred towards the Jewish people".

The gala dinner is taking place at Lancaster House.

Full report at:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/11/02/jeremy-corbyn-attended-event-held-muslim-group-accused-hosting/

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Judge orders father to not impose religion on his children

November 03, 2017

Father told he can talk to children about Islam in a ‘non-pressuring way’

A Muslim father of three kids in the foster care of a Christian family was told by a judge to not put “pressure” on them about Islam.

The three children – two sons and a daughter, all under the age of 16 – have been under the care of the foster family since 2011, reports the Independent.

The 53-year-old father has seen his kids only twice since then.

In 2015, he signed a court document seen by the Manchester Evening News in which he agreed not to talk about Islam.

The ban has since been softened, but only on the condition he talks about his religion in a “non-pressuring way”.

The man told the paper he was the victim of bigotry, but social services said the children’s wellbeing is their “primary concern”.

The children were taken into foster care after the death of their mother, who, according to court documents, had a “volatile relationship” with their father, and were estranged from one another.

The father has been battling to get custody of his children since their mother’s death, and has been to court 13 times.

He has been accused of domestic violence and assaulting a social worker, which he denies.

The document from Salford Children’s Services stipulates the man agreed “not to discuss the Muslim religion” with his children during any supervised contact.

He told the Manchester Evening News he felt forced to sign the agreement, because he was desperate to see his children.

“What’s happening is xenophobia and bigotry,” he said. “It’s Stockholm syndrome. It’s parental estrangement.

“They are obviously feeding all kinds of ridiculous propaganda to my children and this is the end result.”

At the last hearing at a Manchester family court, District Judge Relph said: “In the light of the court’s finding as to the children’s previous upbringing, the local authority has made it clear that it does not propose to treat the children as belonging to the Muslim faith, although the father may supply relevant information to them about his faith or discuss his beliefs with them in a non-pressurising way during future contact.”

Councillor Lisa Stone, who leads the children’s and young people’s services in Salford, said the council’s “prime concern is children’s safety and wellbeing.”

Full report at:

http://www.dhakatribune.com/world/europe/2017/11/03/judge-orders-father-not-impose-religion-children/

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One killed, two hurt in Morocco tourist town shooting

3 November 2017

One man was shot dead and two others were hurt in a tourist area of Marrakesh, authorities in Morocco said, adding that it appeared to be a local settling of scores.

Two attackers wearing balaclavas shot the victim at a cafe in the town, a popular destination for foreign visitors. The man, who was hit in the head, died instantly.

The two assailants also injured two other people in a hail of bullets before they fled on a motorbike, local authorities said.

Initial investigations indicate that the dead man was specifically targeted, authorities said. Morocco’s head of government said on Twitter that two people had already been arrested.

The cafe where the shooting happened is located in a very busy tourist section of the town, close to several popular hotels.

The incident prompted widespread concern on social media, with rumors of a terrorist attack circulating on the Moroccan internet.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/north-africa/2017/11/03/One-killed-two-hurt-in-Morocco-tourist-town-shooting-.html

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Russia, France: Iran nuclear deal cannot be revised

Nov 3, 2017

Russian President Vladimir Putin and his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron have discussed the 2015 Iran nuclear deal over the phone, highlighting the need to implement the landmark agreement and protecting it from unilateral revisions.

Macron called Putin on Thursday to ask him about the results of his high-profile visit to Tehran the day before.

“In this connection, the two leaders pointed to the need to precisely implement the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) for Iran’s nuclear program. They stressed that a unilateral revision of this important agreement would be unacceptable," the Kremlin press service said in a statement.

Under the JCPOA, Tehran agreed to limit certain parts of its nuclear program in exchange for the removal of nuclear-related sanctions.

While former US President Barack Obama hailed the deal as one of the highlights of his carrier, his successor, Donald Trump, has blasted it as an “embarrassment.”

Trump refused to certify Iran’s commitment to the deal last month, calling on Congress to fix its “flaws.”

The US Congress now has less than 60 days to decide whether to reimpose economic sanctions on Tehran.

This is while the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) on Monday once again reiterated Iran’s adherence to the nuclear agreement, stressing that UN inspectors are facing no problems in their verification efforts.

Full report at:

http://www.presstv.com/Detail/2017/11/03/540806/Russia-France-Iran-nuclear-deal-JCPOA-Putin-Macron

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France unhappy about Russia’s forum on Syria, stresses Geneva process

Nov 2, 2017

France has expressed its objection to a Russian initiative to bring about a political solution to the crisis in Syria, saying Moscow should pursue efforts aligned with those of the United Nations.

French Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Agnes Romatet-Espagne said Thursday that the UN-mediated talks on Syria, generally known as the Geneva process, was the only appropriate forum to discuss a political solution to the war in the Arab country.

“International efforts, including those by Russia, must be within this framework,” said Romatet-Espagne during a daily briefing with reporters in Paris, adding, “The Geneva process is the only appropriate and internationally-agreed forum to discuss political aspects of the Syrian crisis, especially for an election process and a new constitution.”

The remarks came after Russian authorities announced that Moscow would convene the “Syrian Congress on National Dialogue” in the Black Sea resort of Sochi on November 18. Invitations have been sent to 33 Syrian groups and political parties to attend the meeting, which would bring together Syria’s warring sides.

Russia has been a main supporter of the Syrian government in its six-year battle against terrorism and has been conducting strikes against the positions of terrorist groups in the Arab country since September 2015 at the official request of Damascus.

Russia, together with Iran and Turkey, has also been acting as a guarantor state in peace talks for Syria in Astana, Kazakhstan. The three countries have helped set up de-escalation zones across Syria to reduce fighting on the ground.

France, on the other side, has been among key supporters of Syria’s armed opposition, especially the High Negotiations Committee (HNC) umbrella group, which is based in Saudi Arabia.

Previous rounds of UN-mediated talks mainly failed due to the opposition’s insistence for the departure of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad from power.

But, the demand seems no bargaining chip in talks any more due to Syria’s continued victories against terrorists.

During her briefing, Romatet-Espagne also said that all players in the Syrian conflict, including Russia, should abide by UN resolution 2254, which France and other Western countries say has laid the foundation for a future peaceful resolution of the conflict.

Full report at:

http://www.presstv.com/Detail/2017/11/02/540763/France-Russia-Syria-talks

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‘Devout terrorist’ jailed for Australia plot

3 November 2017

SYDNEY: A 22-year-old Australian man described as a “devout terrorist” was sentenced to 22 years in jail Friday for plotting to attack government buildings in Sydney, as authorities grapple with the rise of homegrown Islamist extremism.

Sulayman Khalid was handed the sentence at the New South Wales Supreme Court after pleading guilty to conspiring to act in preparation for a terrorist attack.

He was arrested during a series of police raids in Sydney and Brisbane in late 2014.

Four others, including an unnamed teenager, were jailed for between nine and 18 years for similar or lesser offenses — such as intentionally making a document connected with the preparation of a terrorist act.

Khalid “occupied a co-ordinating role” in the plot, Justice Geoffrey Bellew wrote in his ruling.

“In offending as he did, Khalid demonstrated that he was a devout terrorist,” he added.

Canberra has become increasingly worried about homegrown extremism and officials say they have prevented 13 terror attacks in recent years.

But several have taken place, including the murder of a Sydney police employee in 2015 by a 15-year-old boy, who was then killed in an exchange of gunfire with officers.

In his ruling, Bellew said Khalid adhered to the “religious ideology of Wahhabi-Salafism.”

“The cause that was to be advanced in the proposed terrorist act or acts was that of violent jihad... The offender had publicly displayed his support for the violent jihad espoused by ISIS (Islamic State),” he said.

The group had been planning to kill police officers and attack government buildings, and had considered using weapons such as firearms, Bellew added.

Full report at:

http://www.arabnews.com/node/1187606/world

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