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Islamic World News ( 23 Jul 2017, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Lashkar-Led Jihadist Conclave Calls for War against India











China has asked its Muslim minority people in Xinjiang to install a surveillance app on their phones to monitor them

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Lashkar-Led Jihadist Conclave Calls for War against India

Churches, Police HQs on Taliban’s Hit List

China Forces Its Muslims to Install Spyware on Their Phones

ISIS Militants Execute Three of Their Comrades in North of Afghanistan

Egypt’s Al-Azhar Sets up Religious Booth in Metro to Provide Religious Edicts

 

India

Lashkar-Led Jihadist Conclave Calls for War against India

Hate In The Hearts In Bisada: Ikhlaq’s Murder over Cow Exposes Fault Line

Muslim Rashtriya Manch to launch mass movement, ask Pakistan to vacate PoK

Kargil war: When an IAF Jaguar had Sharif, Musharraf in its crosshairs

'US Is Clearly Standing with India, Has Told Islamabad to Improve Relations With New Delhi': Report

Iraq Mission: Efforts On To Trace 39 Missing Indians Held Captive By IS

Local intelligence spurs J&K anti-terror operations

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Pakistan

Churches, Police HQs on Taliban’s Hit List

Balochistan CM Zehri Orders Inquiry into 1,500 Ghost Schools in the Province

Army wants to mainstream Fata before its merger with KP, says Safron minister

PML-N leaders face protests at presser over manhandling of reporters by FIA

Young Pakistan military officers oppose terrorism, says US expert

Operation Khyber-IV: army clears terrorist strongholds in Rajgal valley

Army secures two militant strongholds in areas bordering Afghanistan

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Southeast Asia

China Forces Its Muslims to Install Spyware on Their Phones

Ministerial-Level Meeting in Manado to Address Increasing Terror Threats in Region

Deputy education minister: No bully-related deaths in school since 2012

Syariah Bill appears on Malaysia's Parliament order paper

Leader of terrorist group behind Marawi assault still alive and unhurt as of July 17, says Muslim leader

Marawi Standoff Enters Third Month, Underlining Crisis in Philippines

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South Asia

ISIS Militants Execute Three of Their Comrades In North Of Afghanistan

At Least 24 Killed, 42 Injured In Kabul Car Bomb Attack

Taliban overruns district headquarters: Afghan official

Ailing Bangladeshi Islamist cleric moved to New Delhi for treatment

Prominent Taliban leader Mawlavi Shahidullah killed in Kunduz airstrike

Afghanistan's Hazaras Mark Anniversary Of Deadly Attack

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Arab World

Egypt’s Al-Azhar Sets up Religious Booth in Metro to Provide Religious Edicts

Syrian Army Opens up Safe Humanitarian Corridors in Raqqa

Tahrir Al-Sham Terrorists Occupy More Regions in Northern Syria

43 receive draconian sentences over death of Egyptian prosecutor

Explosion kills 11 in Syria’s militant-held city of Idlib

Egypt forces kill eight militants at camp in south

Syrian Soldiers Make Fresh Gains in War on Terrorism in Eastern Damascus

Jihadists control Syria's Idlib after rebel pullout

Rival Groups Likely to Engage in Fresh Clashes in Syria's Idlib

Egypt opens sprawling military camp, says largest in Middle East

Syrian army soldiers, allies gain more ground in battle against Daesh

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Mideast

Christian Man Prays With Jerusalem Muslims As Religious Tensions Flare

Israel Playing With Fire at Al-Aqsa Mosque: Arab League

Divisive approaches escalate insecurity, instability in Iraq: Shamkhani

US violation of nuclear deal won’t go unanswered: Iran official

Defence minister vows Iran's full support for Iraq stability, security

Mine blast kills Saudi soldier near Yemen border

Iran, Iraq Ink MoU on Defence-Military Cooperation

Iran strongly condemns Israeli 'terrorism' in Mideast

Post-coup Turkey tries its best known journalists

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Europe

France Plans To Legitimize Libya Rebel Commander Haftar: Sources

Germans Wary of Government Inaction on Turkey’s Provocations: Poll

UK Islamist Hate Preacher Jailed in New Isolation Unit

A Ban on Muslim Cemeteries Is an Attack on Us All

British protesters hold anti-Israel rallies in London

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Africa

Muslim Scholars Condemn Joey Rasdien's 'Sacrilegious Satire'

2 killed, 1 wounded in shooting at Israeli embassy in Jordan

Mali confirms arrest of key jihadist near Timbuktu

UN Says Moroccan Peacekeeper Killed In Central Africa

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North America

Radio Station Cancels Richard Dawkins Appearance over Islam Tweets

Frustrated at White House, Tillerson looks for an exit: Sources

What drives Canadian youth to adopt jihad?

Influential US magazine Newsweek corrects impression that not all but merely Muslims were terrorists

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau

URL: http://www.newageislam.com/islamic-world-news/new-age-islam-news-bureau/lashkar-led-jihadist-conclave-calls-for-war-against-india/d/111944

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Lashkar-Led Jihadist Conclave Calls for War against India

By Praveen Swami

July 24, 2017

Lashkar-e-Taiba-led jihadist commanders met in Islamabad last Sunday to demand that Pakistan’s government should go to war with India to seize Kashmir, the terrorist group’s in-house magazine Jarrar reported over the weekend. “No trade with India, only Ghazwa-e-Hind (holy war to capture India),” the magazine wrote, recording the proceedings of the July 16 conference.

The meeting, arguably the largest single gathering of jihadist commanders in recent years, was held in the build-up to Supreme Court hearings on corruption charges that will decide the fate of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s government, to demand that he reverse his policies on Kashmir.

“Imperialists are trying to make enemies of Islam happy, because of which Hafiz Muhammad Saeed has been put under house arrest,” Jarrar quoted Hizbul Mujahideen chief Muhammad Yusuf Shah, also known as Syed Salahuddin, as saying. “But because of Ghazwa-e-Hind, we will not only free Kashmir, but also change the map of the subcontinent,” Shah reportedly said.

The Ghazwa-e-Hind is a saying some Islamic traditions attribute to Prophet Muhammad, prophesying that army arising from the West will seize India for Islam before the day of judgement.

The hardline polemic came amid reports of growing frustration in Shah’s Hizb, as well as other jihadist groups in Kashmir, over severe ammunition and weapons shortage — attributed by their leadership to restrictions placed by Sharif’s government on fundraising and military operations, under international pressure.

According to the Jarrar report, speakers at the conference demanded the immediate release of Saeed, the head of the Lashkar’s parent organisation, Jama’at-ud-Dawa, who has been under house arrest since February.

“Kashmiris have been fighting Hindus even before the birth of Pakistan,” Hurriyat Conference leader Mehmood Ahmad Sagar was reported by Jarrar as telling the meeting. “Islam and Kashmir, and Islam and Pakistan are not separate. The Pakistani army should intervene to free Kashmir”. His call for escalated Pakistani state support against India was seconded by Rasool Shah, also known as ‘General Abdullah’, chief of the Tehreek-ul-Mujahideen, said the report.

One infiltrator killed by Army

Srinagar: The Army foiled an infiltration bid in North Kashmir’s Machil sector and killed one infiltrator on Sunday.  The Army said troops guarding the LoC noticed movement of militants and launched an operation in which one militant was killed. The operation is in progress. (ENS)

http://indianexpress.com/article/india/lashkar-led-jihadist-conclave-calls-for-war-against-india-4764011/

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Churches, police HQs on Taliban’s hit list

July 24, 2017

LAHORE - Security has been heightened at the churches and police headquarters across the provincial metropolis amid Taliban threats.

Police sources said that the latest security measures were taken to thwart the nefarious designs of terrorists after intelligence inputs indicating possible suicide bomb attacks on churches and offices of the law enforcement agency. Sources added that terrorists belonging to Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) riding on a motorcycle could hit the vehicle or convoy of top police officers in the big cities. The police department has issued a circular to the regional, district, and city police officers and directed them to ensure foolproof security arrangements for police officers, offices, and the headquarters.

The police were also directed to set up surprise pickets on city roads to check and intercept the movement of militants. Hundreds of police on Sunday were seen busy in security operations across the metropolis. Heavy police contingents were also deployed at churches to ensure foolproof security for the minorities.

Meanwhile, capital city police officer Muhammad Amin Wains said that the police were put on high alert across the metropolis to maintain peace. The officer on Sunday visited different churches and key government installations to check police deployment. On this occasion, the CCPO directed the field police officers to remain on their toes and ensure best security arrangements.

The police vigilance teams were also activated at street level to check the activities of the suspected persons. Citizens are requested to immediately contact the police in case they notice any suspicious activity in their area.

http://nation.com.pk/lahore/24-Jul-2017/churches-police-hqs-on-taliban-s-hit-list

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China forces its Muslims to install spyware on their phones

July 22, 2017

In a latest move to increase surveillance, China has asked its Muslim minority people in Xinjiang to install a surveillance app on their phones to monitor them.

Messaging service WeChat sent a notice to the residents of Xinjiang’s capital Urumqi, instructing them to install the app.

Chinese authorities are also conducting drives in the area to ensure that the residents have the app installed, reports Mashable.

The app, Jinwang, will automatically detect terrorist and illegal religious videos, images, e-books and electronic documents stored in the phone, authorities claim.

If the app detects any illegal content, the users will be ordered to delete them.

Those who did not install the app or deleted after installation would be detained for up to 10 days.

Jinwang also keeps a copy of Weibo and WeChat records, as well as a record of IMEI numbers, SIM card data and Wifi login data. The records are then sent to a server.

“Chinese police are so powerful, particularly in Xinjiang, that anyone being stopped is unlikely to be able to refuse the police’s requests,” Maya Wang, a senior researcher with Human Rights Watch, was quoted by Mashable as saying.

“While the authorities have the responsibility to protect public safety, including by fighting terrorism, such mass collection of data from ordinary people is a form of mass surveillance, and an intrusion to privacy,” she said.

“I think there is reason to be concerned about what kinds of data these apps may be collecting about users and their activity without their knowledge or consent,” said Joshua Rosenzweig, a Hong Kong-based analyst with Amnesty International.

Xinjiang has a population of eight million Uighurs, a Turkic ethnic group. Its people have complained of longstanding oppression under the country’s Communist government.

In March, the country banned veils and the growing of long beards — traditional Muslim customs.

Last year, Xinjiang residents who used foreign messaging apps such as Whatsapp found they had their phone services cut.

http://www.dhakatribune.com/world/2017/07/22/china-forces-muslims-install-spyware-phones/

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ISIS militants execute three of their comrades in North of Afghanistan

Jul 23 2017

The ISIS militants have executed three of their comrades in northern Jawzjan province of Afghanistan, the local government officials said.

The incident has taken place in the vicinity of Qosh Tapa district of Jawzjan where the militants loyal to ISIS terrorist group are actively operating.

Provincial governor’s spokesman Mohammad Reza Ghafoori confirmed the incident and said the militants were apparently executed after they were accused of having links with the government.

He said the dead bodies of the slain militants were recovered from Alamlek village in Qosh Tapa district.

The anti-government armed militant groups have not commented regarding the report so far.

The security situation in Jawzjan province has started to deteriorate during the recent years with the rampant insurgency led both the Taliban and ISIS militants.

The ISIS militants executed at least three civilians in this province nearly four months ago, accusing them of supporting the government.

At least 52 farmers were abducted by the militants believed to having links with the ISIS terrorist group in mid-February this year.

At least six employees of the International Committee of Red Cross were also shot dead by militants in this province during the same month.

Local officials said the ICRC employees were shot dead by ISIS loyalists and at least two of them were kidnapped.

https://www.khaama.com/isis-militants-execute-three-of-their-comrades-in-north-of-afghanistan-03205

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Egypt’s Al-Azhar Sets up Religious Booth in Metro to Provide Religious Edicts

Jul 23, 2017

Egypt's Al-Azhar, the Sunni Muslim world's foremost religious institution, has set up booths in Cairo metro stations to provide religious edicts to commuters in the latest bid to dispel religious misconceptions and misinterpretations of religious texts seen as fostering extremist militancy in the country, which is targeting mainly security personnel and Copts.

The move comes after militants killed at least 28 security personnel in two separate attacks earlier in July in the restive Sinai Peninsula and near some of Egypt's most famous pyramids outside of Cairo, and more than 100 Coptic Christians since December in four separate attacks.

Al-Azhar's Islamic Research Academy said in a statement issued Thursday that it launched the project as part of the institution's efforts to correct misconceptions and radical ideologies.

Photos of Al-Azhar clerics manning the booths and engaging with commuters circulated on social media networks.

But Gamal Eid, director of the Arabic Network for Human Rights, expressed skepticism about the effectiveness of the move, saying other measures should be taken to confront terrorism like fighting corruption and oppression.

"I don't think these booths will confront terrorism," Eid said. "This measure is not a priority."

Mohi el-Din Afifi, the academy's secretary general, slammed critical remarks saying that what Al-Azhar is doing serves the interests of the nation and its citizens. "Who will face the violent currents and protect the nation and citizens from their edicts?"

President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi has repeatedly blamed what he believes to be outdated religious discourse for rising extremist militancy and has called for the "modernization of religious discourse" since he took office in 2014.

http://www.presstv.ir/Detail/2017/07/23/529441/Egypt-AlAzhar-Religious-Edicts

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India

 

Hate In The Hearts In Bisada: Ikhlaq’s Murder over Cow Exposes Fault Line

Jul 24, 2017

Opposite the main temple in Bisada lies a memorial of a male cow found dead on the spot. No one knows how it died, but the injuries suggested it had been killed. The villagers pooled in money to commemorate the bovine. That was in the mid-eighties.

Thirty years later in September 2015, an announcement about an alleged cow slaughter -- from the same spot -- would transform the people of this small village into a murderous mob.

That night, 55-year-old Mohammad Ikhlaq was lynched by angry villagers; he was first assaulted with fists, sticks and bricks, had his daughter’s sewing machine smashed on his head and then dragged through narrow lanes onto the main road. He did not survive the attack. His 20-year-old son, Danish, was also severely injured and spent 10 days in coma.

The brutality of cow-related mob violence since the BJP-led government came to power in 2014 was brought into sharp focus by Ikhlaq’s murder. It sparked shock, horror and a national debate on rising intolerance in the country. But the outrage did not stop a spate of hate crimes against Muslims in the name of the cow. More than 600 days since the incident, the communal faultlines in Bisada remain; generations of harmony between Hindus and Muslims in this Uttar Pradesh village swallowed by hatred and prejudice.

In the aftermath of the murder, Bisada claimed innocence of its men. But with time, the bravado of the tumultuous September night has returned. Today, the families of the accused have no qualms about admitting to the motivation behind the crime.

Family members of Ravi Sisodia, one of the 18 accused of Ikhlaq’s murder, take pride in his actions. Ravi died in October last year, allegedly due to illness. But family members claim he died of assault by jail authorities.

“Our son died for gau raksha, not for theft or (any other) crime. He is a martyr. It was right to kill Ikhlaq as he had slaughtered a cow,” his mother Nirmala says.

When Ravi’s body returned from the hospital, it was draped in the national flag -- an honour generally reserved for soldiers. His 20-year-old wife, Pooja, sobs in a corner of the house, blaming Ikhlaq’s family.

“I begged them, fell at their feet to not blame Ravi but they did not relent,” she says. Ikhlaq had attended her wedding three years ago, she told us.

But there was a time in Bisada when Hindus and Muslims lived as one. Om Mahesh, father of one of the accused, Vinay, says the land for the mosque in Bisada was gifted by Hindus.

All that has long been forgotten.

When Hindustan Times met the family of Arun Sisodia, an accused out on bail, his brother shouted that Hindus can no longer follow Mahatma Gandhi’s dictum of offering the other cheek to those who want to destroy the country – an apparent swipe at the Muslim community.

Read |A year after Ikhlaq’s lynching, Bisada sitting on a communal tinderbox

Arun, 35, tries to calm him down, but the lid over simmering hatred had been taken off. “Why don’t our Muslim brothers eat pig? What is so special about the cow? Pigs are cheaper,” Arun says.

Initially hesitant to talk about the incident, Arun opens up slowly. “Feelings were incited. Does the Quran say anywhere that cow should be eaten?”

Ikhlaq’s house is just behind Arun’s and he too, albeit grudgingly, admits to friendship between the families. Ikhlaq and his brother’s were the only two Muslim families who lived among Hindus. All other Muslim families -- about 30 -- live in a separate enclave.

The kacha lane outside Ikhlaq’s house, through which his body was dragged, has since been relaid with concrete -- as if it were possible to bury the ghosts of the past. No one lives in the houses of Ikhlaq and his brother’s now, both families moved out of the village 10 days after the murder.

The door to one of the rooms that remain unlocked creaks open. A red curtain hangs limply, a charpoy sits on one corner of the sparse room -- it seems as if the residents stepped out hurriedly and will return any moment.

But Ikhlaq’s family says they can never return to Bisada. His wife, Ikraman, daughter Shaista and son Danish -- live in Delhi with the eldest son, Sartaj -- a corporal in the air force.

“Mara bhi hum ko aur case bhi hum par. Yeh kahan ka insaaf hai?” (They killed my father and yet the case is filed against us. What sort of justice is that?), Shaista asks.

Read |Dadri lynching: Meat found in Ikhlaq’s fridge was beef, says lab

Nine months after the incident, a villager filed a cow slaughter case against Ikhlaq’s family. Jaan Mohammed, Ikhlaq’s younger brother and the main accused in the case, says it is just a diversionary ploy by the villagers.

“When (Union minister) Kiren Rijiju says he eats beef, no one says anything to him. Why was Pehlu Khan killed? Why was Ikhlaq killed for no reason? There are different standards for different people. There is no rule of law for cow vigilantes who do what they want,” he adds.

The BJP and Sangh Parivar groups sought to delink the communal angle in the murder.

Mahesh Sharma, BJP parliamentarian from Noida, called it an “accident” while Nawab Singh Nagar, Dadri’s former BJP MLA, blamed Ikhlaq’s family. The main accused in the case, Vishal, is the son of a local BJP member.

There is no law to monitor religious hate crimes making it hard to gauge the extent of the problem.

The closest is section 153A of the Indian Penal Code which pertains to promoting enmity on the basis of “religion, race, place of birth, residence, language, caste or community”. In Ikhlaq’s case, this section has not been invoked.

Senior advocate, Rebecca John, says it is not enough to say that Ikhlaq was murdered. “It is problematic because you don’t refer to the crime contextually. You don’t bring out the elements of hate crime and it allows the accused an exit. What is the resistance in invoking 153A along with 302 (murder). The answer is political,” she adds.

Despite being assigned to a fast track court, the trial in Ikhlaq’s death is yet to begin.

Jaan Mohammed, however, has a different take. “Other family members may want to see the accused getting convicted but personally I want the venom in society to finish. The distances that political parties have created should be removed. The accused can get any punishment but that will not bring back Ikhlaq,” he says.

http://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/let-s-talk-about-hate-dadri-villagers-live-in-suspicion-faultlines-deepen-after-lynching-of-mohammad-ikhlaq/story-ER944FgQacbVHLYrmO3N4K.html

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Muslim Rashtriya Manch to launch mass movement, ask Pakistan to vacate PoK

July 23, 2017

The Rashtriya Sawayamsevak Sangh (RSS) has said that its Muslim wing, the Muslim Rashtriya Manch, will launch a mass movement in Jammu and Kashmir against Pakistan’s illegal occupation of Kashmir on August 9. RSS pracharak and national executive member Indresh Kumar said that aim of the movement to ask Pakistan to vacate that part of Kashmir and has urged all other political parties to take part in the agitation.

“The Muslim Rashtriya Manch has decided to launch a mass movement on August 9. The aim of the movement is to raise voice against Pakistan asking them to leave that part of the Kashmir,” Kumar told ANI. “If this takes place, then a major change is expected to take place in Kashmir,” he added. The PoK, which lies to the west of Jammu and Kashmir, was occupied during a war fought between India and Pakistan in 1947.

Full report at:

http://www.financialexpress.com/india-news/muslim-rashtriya-manch-to-launch-mass-movement-ask-pakistan-to-vacate-pok/776111/

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Kargil war: When an IAF Jaguar had Sharif, Musharraf in its crosshairs

by Sushant Singh

July 24, 2017

Around 8.45 am on Thursday, June 24, 1999, at the height of the Kargil War, an Indian Air Force Jaguar flying close to the Line of Control “lased over” — that is, acquired for bombing using its laser-guided system — a forward base of the Pakistan army. Ultimately, however, the pilot of a second Jaguar that was following close behind — who was supposed to fire the bomb — targeted it “outside the laser basket”; that is, he did not fire it at the military base.

At that precise time, Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Pakistan Army chief General Pervez Musharraf were present at the base, shows an official document accessed by The Indian Express. The events of what might have been a day of catastrophic disaster have not been made public before.

“On 24 June 1999, Jaguar CLDS [Cockpit Laser Designation System] engaged Point 4388. The pilot had lased over Gulteri across LoC but the bomb did not reach the target as it was released outside the laser basket,” says the document of the Government of India. It then notes, in bold type, that “Later, it was ascertained that the PM of Pakistan, Mr Nawaz Sharif, was present at Gulteri when the target was attacked.”

When the first Jaguar targeted Gulteri base, it was not aware that Sharif and Musharraf were present at the target. An Air Commodore, who was airborne at the same time, however, advised the pilot to not fire the bomb. The bomb was then dropped on the Indian side of the LoC.

Gulteri, also called Gultari, a forward administrative base of the Pakistan Army, was at the forefront of providing logistics support to Pakistani soldiers during the Kargil War. It is approximately nine kilometres inside Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (PoK) from the LoC, opposite India’’ Dras sector.

On that day, Sharif, accompanied by Musharraf, was on his first visit to forward areas along the LoC in Shakma sector. In a report titled ‘War no solution to problems, says Nawaz’, the Pakistani newspaper The News, said in its edition of June 25, 1999: “Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif on Thursday reiterated his call for dialogue with India for defusing a war-like situation along the Line of Control (LoC). “I invite the government of India to adopt the way of reconciliation,” so that all disputes including Kashmir could be solved through peaceful means, he said while addressing the troops at the height of 11,600 feet here. Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee and the Army Chief Gen Pervez Musharraf, Defence Secretary Lt Gen (Retd) Iftikhar Ali, Hummayun Akhtar, the Chairman Board of Investment, were also present on the occasion.”

Air Marshal Vinod Patney (retd), who was then the Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief of the IAF’s Western Air Command, and directly responsible for the air operations in the Kargil War, told The Indian Express about the incident of June 24, 1999: “It was a target in Mushkoh Valley, where a logistics dump was seen by the Jaguar aircraft. The first Jaguar lased against the target and the second Jaguar was to fire a laser-guided bomb. When the captain of the lasing aircraft suddenly had a doubt and told him not to fire, he came back and found from the video that it was Gulteri.”

‘Lasing the target’ happens when the laser guidance system locks on to the target, puts the crosshairs on it, and continues to keep it in the crosshairs, which is visible to the pilot on a screen in the cockpit. As the CLDS system was then fitted on trainer Jaguar aircraft which could not carry weapons, the bombing had to be done by a second Jaguar aircraft. Following at a distance of about three kilometres, the second Jaguar would pick up the laser beam from the target using the LRMTS (laser range-finder and marked-target seeker), and deliver the bomb with pinpoint accuracy.

Air Marshal Patney clarified that “I was neither informed nor aware” about Sharif’s presence at Gulteri. In any case, “hitting Gulteri was against the rules”, said the Air Marshal, who is now director general of the Centre for Air Power Studies (CAPS) in New Delhi.

The government of Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee had chosen to restrict operations to India’s side of the LoC, and denied the IAF permission to cross the Line while executing missions. Air Marshal Patney’s Air-1 (a senior staff officer) in HQ Western Air Command then, Air Marshal A K Singh (retd), a Jaguar pilot, was airborne in that area during the same time, and was in communication with the pilot of the leading aircraft when this incident occurred. Air Marshal Singh, who was an Air Commodore during the Kargil War, retired as AOC-in-C of the Western Air Command a decade ago, and now leads a retired life in Delhi.

“The time was around 8.45 am. I was also airborne that day in the same area in a Jaguar aircraft, which I had flown from Adampur air base. The flight commander of the leading Jaguar was a Squadron Leader who was my youngster when I had commanded the squadron,” Air Marshal Singh told The Indian Express.

According to Air Marshal Singh, “The flight commander excitedly called me on the radio and said, ‘I have the target in sight. It is a big military camp with a large number of people. I have it on the CLDS.’ I told him not to fire and to tell me whether he was on this side of the river or the other side.”

The flight commander of the first aircraft had lased on to Gulteri while Sharif and Musharraf were there, and the second aircraft was ready to fire the bomb when Air Marshal Singh told them not to fire. The second Jaguar then fired the bomb in Mushkoh Valley on the Indian side of the LoC.

“I was very sure that he was across the LoC as I had overflown that area earlier myself. I also knew the flight commander personally who was excitable and known for his impetuousness. As it was on a riverbank and with a large number of people, the base could only be Gulteri,” Air Marshal Singh said.

“I then told the flight commander, ‘let me fix the position’. It means that my aircraft had to come to a position where I could physically see his aircraft. When I did that, I saw that he was 10-12 kilometres to my right, clearly in Pakistani territory,” said Air Marshal Singh. But Air Marshal Singh refused to fully blame the pilot, ascribing it to “the aircraft equipment which was so inaccurate in terms of border marking and the maps; and where you were, you could not be sure.”

When Air Marshal Singh and the flight commander returned to base and saw the video recorded by CLDS, it was confirmed that the target lased by the Jaguar was indeed Gulteri. The large number of men seen at the post in the video were listening to the speech being delivered by Sharif.

Was it pure luck that a disaster was averted? “It was purely coincidental that I was airborne at that time,” Air Marshal Singh said. “Else, once a pilot is in the air, acquires a target and confirms it, he has orders to bomb it.” In this case, the target of the bombs would have included Nawaz Sharif and Pervez Musharraf, in the middle of a war between two nuclear-armed neighbours.

Full report at:

http://indianexpress.com/article/india/kargil-war-when-an-iaf-jaguar-had-sharif-musharraf-in-its-crosshairs-4764110/

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'US is clearly standing with India, has told Islamabad to improve relations with New Delhi': Report

Jul 24, 2017

NEW DELHI: Washington is "clearly standing with New Delhi" and has told Pakistan it needs to improve its relationship with India, says a report on Monday in Pakistani newspaper The Nation, citing a senior foreign ministry official.

The official further told the newspaper that the US is unhappy with Pakistan's efforts toward regional peace and wants it to initiate dialogue with both India and Afghanistan to improve ties. He added that Pakistan believes it is doing it all it can.

"It is sad they don't want to acknowledge our anti-terror successes. They are repeating the 'do more' mantra. We believe now India and Afghanistan have to do more. We are doing what we can," the official told The Nation.

Pakistan, in turn, told the US it blames New Delhi and Kabul for poor relations.

"We have told them Pakistan has always wanted a dialogue but both India and Afghanistan were not responding," the official said.

Pakistan has been backed into a corner in the last couple of months after a series of actions by the US and the European Union.

Last month, the European Parliament adopted a resolution condemning the human rights situation in Pakistan.

The resolution, which was adopted by majority, expressed grave concern over the "roll-back in Pakistan of the respect for human rights and the rule of law," in particular the freedom granted to security forces, the use of military courts, the crackdown on NGOs, the intimidation of human rights defenders and religious minorities, and the increase in extrajudicial killings, reported IANS.

Then, last Wednesday, the US listed Pakistan among the nations providing "safe havens" to terrorists, saying terror groups like the LeT and JeM continued to operate, train, organise and fund-raise inside the country.

"Pakistan did not take sufficient action against other externally focused groups, such as Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) in 2016, which continued to operate, train, organise, and fundraise in Pakistan," said the annual 'Country Report on Terrorism' from the US state department. LeT's founder Hafiz Saeed is the mastermind of the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks.

Also last week, the US said it was blocking $350 million in coalition support funds to Pakistan as it had not taken "sufficient actions" against the dreaded Haqqani terror network which has been behind terror attacks in Afghanistan.

Another official at the foreign ministry said to The Nation that Islamabad had told Washington that doubting Pakistan's role against terror would not be helpful.

"The world knows we have sacrificed a lot in the war on terror. The US also acknowledges it but it is strange they [the US] are toeing the Indian line," he added.

A retired Pakistani army veteran told The Nation that these US actions are a result of annoyance with Pakistan due to its strong ties with China.

"They [the US] are trying to put pressure on Pakistan. The US support for [Indian] Prime Minister [Narendra] Modi is designed to corner Pakistan and then force it to bow to India's superiority," said Naeem Lodhi, a retired Pakistani army lieutenant general .

The US is motivated by self-interest, he added.

Full report at:

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/us-is-clearly-standing-with-india-has-told-islamabad-to-improve-relations-with-new-delhi-report/articleshow/59733396.cms

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Iraq mission: Efforts on to trace 39 missing Indians held captive by IS

July 24, 2017

Ahead of the bilateral meeting between External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and her Iraqi counterpart Ibrahim al-Jaafari, the embassy of Iraq Sunday said search operations are still on for 39 missing Indians, who were held captive by the Islamic State, and there is a “high level of coordination” between the Indian and Iraqi authorities to “locate” them.

This came a day after media reports said the Badush jail, where the Indians were believed to have been kept, has been reduced to rubble. Last Sunday, Swaraj had said intelligence sources in Iraq had told MoS, External Affairs, V K Singh that there is a possibility that the 39 Indians abducted by the IS militants from Mosul three years ago were kept there.

Sushma Swaraj Meets Kin Of 39 Indians Missing In Iraq

“Regarding the 39 Indian citizens who were taken as prisoners by Daesh terrorist group in 2014, search operations are still ongoing and there is a high level of coordination between Iraqi and Indian concerned authorities to locate them, as well as the Government of the Republic of India has already sent two high-level senior delegations to Iraq to follow up on this matter,” a statement by the Iraq embassy in Delhi said.

Full report at:

http://indianexpress.com/article/india/iraq-mission-efforts-on-to-trace-39-missing-indians-held-captive-by-is-4764020/

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Local intelligence spurs J&K anti-terror operations

Jul 24, 2017

NEW DELHI: The Mehbooba Mufti government is aiding the fight against terrorism with stronger ground intelligence and the participation of J&K police, improving the success ratios of anti-terror operations in the state.

Intelligence largely generated by J&K police, and improved coordination among the state police, the CRPF and the Army in joint operations have emerged as key factors in the elimination of 95 terrorists till July 9 this year, senior sources in the government said. This figure is higher than that seen in the whole of 2012 and 2013.

The security forces have persevered to take live encounters to their logical end even in the face of local resistance, which is also being tackled more systematically, with a core of stonepelters being identified through technical surveillance.

The results on the ground, said sources, indicated that the perceived hesitation of PDP in acting against troublemakers in its pockets of districts of its political influence is no longer a hurdle.

Agencies are optimistic that the figure of 150 terrorists neutralised in J&K in 2016 may well be breached this year as operations remain in high gear, helped by a political dispensation at the Centre and in the state that is willing to give counter-terror forces a free hand in all lawful actions to tackle terrorism.

The incidence of terror-related violence in J&K is high, with 172 incidents recorded until July 9 (see graphic), but senior security officials said this is largely due to terrorists being engaged in encounters almost on a daily basis.

"Motivational levels are higher, intelligence is more pinpointed as it is coming largely from the local network of state police, and response of forces like the CRPF is quicker..." said a senior official in the central security establishment.

Coordination among J&K police, the CRPF and the Army, which undertake joint counter-terror operations, is better as not only are their local commanders discussing intelligence inputs on a daily basis, but the CRPF and J&K quick reaction teams have also been training together for 5-6 months, an officer pointed out.

Full report at:

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/local-intelligence-spurs-jk-anti-terror-operations/articleshow/59730226.cms

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Pakistan

 

Balochistan CM Zehri orders inquiry into 1,500 ghost schools in the province

Syed Ali Shah

July 22, 2017

Balochistan Chief Minister Nawab Sanaullah Zehri on Saturday ordered an inquiry into the matter of ghost schools and missing teachers across the province.

The chief minister said that all divisional commissioners should launch inquiries at a district level regarding the matter of missing schools and teachers in Balochistan.

According to a press release, Zehri issued the orders upon taking notice of a news report on missing schools in the province.

The report published earlier this week quoted officials saying that over 1,500 government-run primary, middle and high schools in Balochistan were found, during a verification process, to exist only on paper.

However, Balochistan Education Minister Rahim Ziaratwal put the figure of ghost schools at 1,400. "We could not identify 1,400 schools during the verification process," the minister said.

Chief Minister Zehri ordered commissioners to "bring to book" those involved in the creation of the ghost schools.

He also announced that action against ghost schools and teachers would begin from his hometown of Khuzdar.

"None will be spared and action will be taken against those playing with the future of our children," the chief minister cautioned in a press release.

According to Education Department data, over 5,000 schools in the province are schools with just one room and one teacher. Over 2,000 schools are shelter-less.

https://www.dawn.com/news/1346949/balochistan-cm-zehri-orders-inquiry-into-1500-ghost-schools-in-the-province

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Army wants to mainstream Fata before its merger with KP, says Safron minister

Nadir Guramani

July 20, 2017

Minister for States and Frontier Regions (Safron) Abdul Qadir Baloch, while speaking during a Senate session on Thursday, said the military didn't oppose the merger of Federally Administrated Tribal Areas (Fata) with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, instead, it wanted that first Fata should be brought into the national stream.

He was responding to a motion in the Senate on Fata reforms. "The army had pressed for completion of rehabilitation and development works in Fata before its merger with KP," he said.

In response, PPP's Senator Farhatullah Babar raised an objection, saying that the statements of the Safron minister and Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) on the issue were contradictory.

He pleaded, "The statement regarding the opinion of the army should not be made public at this point."

"Abdul Qadir said the army does not want Fata reforms, whereas contrary to the statement, the GHQ had said in a press release that the army wants Fata reforms," he said, adding that even after the ISPR tweet, the minister did not deny the statement.

To this point, Baloch clarified that the army did not oppose the Fata reforms but said last year that before merging Fata with KP, the region should be brought into the main stream.

He further said that this year, the army has demanded in writing for implementation of Fata reforms.

However, the military has asked for the completion of rehabilitation work in Fata before its merger.

Baloch said that he was trying his level best to table the draft of Riwaj bill for approval from the Senate on July 27, after getting it approved by the National Assembly Standing Committee on Safron.

Meanwhile, Senate Chairman Raza Rabbani said that the Senate should deliver a clear message in this regard, that the Upper House of the Parliament would defend the supremacy of the Constitution and democratic system.

Full report at:

https://www.dawn.com/news/1346529/army-wants-to-mainstream-fata-before-its-merger-with-kp-says-safron-minister

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PML-N leaders face protests at presser over manhandling of reporters by FIA

July 23, 2017

Spokesmen of the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz were about to start their presser when they met with protests from reporters covering the press conference, demanding the government to take action against manhandling of journalists by FIA officials.

Tariq Fazal Chaudhry and Daniyal Aziz had called a press conference in Islamabad to defend Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s position in the Panamagate verdict. Their press conference, however, was interrupted when media personnel organised a protest to demand action against Friday's incident.

The two also met with demands of "we want FIR" and "shame, shame, shame" by newsmen present. Chaudhry, while trying to address the situation, promised a transparent inquiry into the matter. "We'll make sure your grievances are addressed," he said.

On Friday, a team of FIA officials brought Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) Chairman Zafar Hijazi to Pims for medical assistance after he was arrested by the FIA, officials said.

The media, including Saba Bajeer from Channel 24 and Aitzaz Hassan from Dawn News, were present at Pims. Bajeer took photos of the SECP chairman. In the meantime, six or seven FIA officials surrounded them and pushed them into a room in the hospital and took their mobile phones and cards.

Full report at:

http://nation.com.pk/national/23-Jul-2017/journalists-at-pml-n-presser-demand-action-against-manhandling-of-reporter-by-fia

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Young Pakistan military officers oppose terrorism, says US expert

Anwar Iqbal

July 24, 2017

WASHINGTON: The new generation of Pakistani military officers is more sensitive to terrorism than its predecessors, says Robin Raphel, former assistant secretary of state for South Asia, rejecting a claim by the Afghan ambassador that those officers are more likely to back terrorism than current Pakistani commanders.

At a weekend seminar on Afghanistan at the Aspen Institute, California, America’s most prestigious forum on security issues, Ms Raphel said a lack of clarity in Washington’s policies was preventing Pakistan from breaking its links with the Haqqani network.

Hamdullah Mohib, Afghanistan’s ambassador in Washington, spoke before Ms Raphel and urged the international community to stop supporting Pakistan.

“Pakistan is moving toward becoming a state that supports terrorism as an element of foreign policy, to a state that believes in terrorism,” he claimed.

He alleged that the new cadre of officers in the Pakistani military believed in terrorism as an ideology and as those officers rose through the ranks, they would create more problems for the world.

“If we continue to give Pakistan a free pass, imagine the conflict at a time when the military is one million strong, has nuclear weapons, has sophisticated intelligence and believes in extremism at its core,” he warned.

He also urged the international community to work with the Pakistani civilian leadership to keep the military in check.

Since Pakistan’s ambassador Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhary decided not to attend the seminar because of a recent experience in Washington where he was hooted and ridiculed at a similar event, Ms Raphel was apparently the only friend Pakistan had in the seminar. She told the Afghan ambassador that his statement was “a little bit misleading” and inaccurate.

Ms Raphel, who is an old friend of Pakistan and had to face an FBI inquiry last year because of her alleged links with Islamabad, also disagreed with Mr Mohib’s claim that “terrorism and Pakistan are equated”.

She said Pakistan was one of the numerous countries that have a “proxy” in Afghanistan. It was likely to keep that proxy as long as uncertainty existed on the outcome of the conflict, she added.

The discussion about Pakistan’s role overshadowed the primary topic of the panel discussion, the Trump administration’s Afghanistan policy, expected later this month.

Full report at:

https://www.dawn.com/news/1347313/young-pakistan-military-officers-oppose-terrorism-says-us-expert

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Operation Khyber-IV: army clears terrorist strongholds in Rajgal valley

Dawn.com

July 23, 2017

The military's media wing on Sunday said that the army has cleared two strongholds of terrorists in the Rajgal valley during the ongoing Operation Khyber-IV.

The Spinkai Top dominating Saprai Pass and Star Kille have been secured and are "effectively dominated by the Pakistan Army", read a statement issued by Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR).

The army was targeting terrorist hideouts "by artillery and army aviation" which has dismantled terrorists who are "on the run", the ISPR quoted IG FC Major General Shaheen. The operational commander further said that Khyber-IV was progressing as planned. On Saturday, the army announced that it had completed the first phase of Operation Khyber-IV in the Rajgal area of Khyber Agency after gaining control of a key mountain top.

“Khyber-IV’s Phase-I has been completed after clearance of Brekh Muhammad Kandao,” ISPR said in an update on the operation that started last Sunday.

Two soldiers have been martyred in the operation in which over 90 square kilometres of a total of 250 square kilometres have been cleared.

Full report at:

https://www.dawn.com/news/1347158/operation-khyber-iv-army-clears-terrorist-strongholds-in-rajgal-valley

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Army secures two militant strongholds in areas bordering Afghanistan

July 23, 2017

The military in a statement issued on Sunday said it has secured two militant strongholds in tribal areas bordering Afghanistan under the recently launched Khyber-IV offensive.

“Security Forces have cleared two strongholds of terrorists in Rajgal valley, Khyber Agency. Spinkai top dominating Saprai pass and Star Kille have been secured,” the statement said.

ISPR earlier announced the troops had made operational gains by securing Brekh Muhammad Kandao, which, it said, was the “highest and craggiest mountain top” near Pakistan’s border with Afghanistan.

“Many terrorists killed, few fled to Afghanistan. Terrorists hideout dismantled, cache of IEDs, arms and ammunition recovered,” it said.

Full report at:

http://nation.com.pk/national/23-Jul-2017/army-secures-two-militant-strongholds-in-areas-bordering-afghanistan

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Southeast Asia

 

Ministerial-Level Meeting in Manado to Address Increasing Terror Threats in Region

July 24, 2017

Jakarta. Indonesia is set to host a meeting to discuss increasing regional threats from foreign terrorist fighters and cross-border terrorism on Saturday (29/07) in Manado, North Sulawesi. Representatives from a number of neighboring countries are expected to participate in the discussion.

According to Foreign Affairs Ministry spokesman Arrmanatha Nasir, the ministerial-level meeting will be attended by representatives from Malaysia, the Philippines, Australia, New Zealand and Brunei.

Arrmanatha said the meeting is a follow-up from last year’s international conference on counterterrorism in Bali.

"[This meeting has been arranged] to address escalating [terror] threats in [our] region, especially considering [terrorist attacks] in the last year and the [increasing number] of terrorist groups affiliated with the Islamic State coming into the region," Arrmanatha said during a press briefing in Jakarta on Thursday.

The meeting in Manado will be chaired by Indonesia's Political, Legal and Security Affairs Coordinating Minister Wiranto and Australia's Attorney-General George Brandis.

"[Terrorism] is a new challenge for countries in the region. Each country has its own counter-terrorism policies and other frameworks to deal with the situation. What we are trying to do here is to combine our efforts and see what we can do together," Foreign Affairs Ministry’s director general for Southeast Asia, Denny Abdi, said.

Denny said the meeting will produce a joint statement and strengthen intergovernmental cooperation to ensure stability and security in the region.

"However, it will not limit possibilities for other concrete partnerships between counterterrorism agencies of these countries," Denny said.

On June 22, Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines agreed to enhance cooperation and jointly implement a range of counterterrorism measures and strategies.

The agreement was negotiated after radical groups staged a brazen takeover of Marawi City in southern Philippines and hijacked ships sailing on sea borders intersecting the three countries. It was signed in Manila by the countries' defense ministers and police and intelligence chiefs.

The June meeting had focused on addressing the underlying aspects of terrorism, deradicalization, rehabilitation and reintegration programs, as well as intelligence cooperation.

http://jakartaglobe.id/news/ministerial-level-meeting-manado-address-increasing-terror-threats-region/

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Deputy education minister: No bully-related deaths in school since 2012

July 24, 2017

KUALA LUMPUR, July 24 — There has been no cases of death due to bullying in the school compound from 2012 until now, the Dewan Rakyat heard today.

Deputy Minister of Education Datuk Chong Sin Woon said records of the Disciplinary and Education Management  System shows that bullying in school is under control.

“I would like to emphasise that the cases have been dealt with accordingly, whether at school level or by the courts via the Royal Malaysian Police (PDRM),” he said told Ram Karpal Singh  (DAP-Bukit Gelugor) during question and answer session today.

Ram Karpal wants to know the number of bullying cases recorded in schools since 2002 and whether the cases involved death or serious injury.

The ministry was  serious in tackling bullying and had put into place preventive mechanisms, enforced the school rules, conducted intervention of victims and collaborated with stakeholders and the relevant agencies to enhance  legislation related to juvenile.

Schools were reminded by circulars and guidelines on preventing and handling of  bullying while the School Discipline Committees conducted investigation and proposed intervention measures to the school administrators.

Chong also told parliament that as enhancement,  the Handbook To Address Bullying in Schools, was reprinted in 2014 for distribution in schools and as a guidance.

“The ministry also works with the Malaysian Armed Forces (ATM) and PDRM via the ‘Remaja Berwawasan’ programme with the aim to train high-risk students.

Full report at:

http://www.themalaymailonline.com/malaysia/article/deputy-education-minister-no-bully-related-deaths-in-school-since-2012

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Syariah Bill appears on Malaysia's Parliament order paper

July 24, 2017

PETALING JAYA - A private member's Bill by Parti Islam SeMalaysia's (PAS) president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang to strengthen sentencing powers of the country's syariah courts has appeared on the order paper for the Malaysian Parliament sitting that began Monday (July 24).

The Bill, which proposes to amend the Syariah Courts (Criminal Jurisdiction) Act, also known by its Malay language acronym RUU355, is unlikely to be brought up this sitting, according to The Star daily, as government Bills take precedence over private member's Bills. The syariah bill is the 10th item listed on the order paper.

The speaker of the house however, can decide whether to resume debate on the syariah Bill, which was last tabled on the final day of the last Parliament sitting on April 6.

PAS Member of Parliament Datuk Takiyuddin Hassan was the sole lawmaker to address lawmakers on the amendments that day, before the speaker, Tan Sri Pandikar Amin Mulia, adjourned proceedings sine die. The controversial move irked MPs who opposed the Bill as they did not get the chance to voice their views or debate the amendments.

According to the New Straits Times, the Bill could be fast-tracked for debate this sitting if a motion is tabled and approved by Parliament.

The syariah court today can mete out what is called the 3-5-6 punishment, that is, imprisonment of up to three years, a RM5,000 (S$1,583) fine and six strokes of the cane. RUU355 will raise these to a maximum punishment of 30 years' prison, a RM100,000 fine and 100 strokes of the cane.

Malaysia's ruling party Umno has supported the Bill, speeding up its progress through Parliament.

This support has fostered Umno's friendship with opposition party PAS and burnished its Islamic credentials among Malay voters, the key demographic that will determine the outcome of elections which must be held by August 2018.

Full report at:

http://www.straitstimes.com/asia/se-asia/shariah-bill-appears-on-malaysias-parliament-order-paper

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Leader of terrorist group behind Marawi assault still alive and unhurt as of July 17, says Muslim leader

July 24, 2017

ILIGAN CITY, MINDANAO (PHILIPPINE DAILY INQUIRER/ ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Abdullah Maute, one of the leaders of the home-grown terror group that launched the assault on Marawi city, is still alive and unhurt, says a prominent Muslim leader.

Agakhan Sharief, known in the province as Bin Laden because of his resemblance to the late Al-Qaeda leader, told the Inquirer on Saturday that he was able to speak with Maute on July 17.

"He is unhurt, but the military already cut off the communication signal inside the battle zone," Sharief said. He said mobile phone signal inside the war zone in southern Philippines was cut on July 18.

Sharief was able to reach Maute after he was asked to lead efforts to bring out civilians and dead bodies through a peace corridor set up with the help of the government and Moro Islamic Liberation Front.

The Marawi assault was planned and executed by the Maute Group which had pledged allegiance to Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS). The group, which is also known as Dawla Islamiya, wants recognition from ISIS as its regional affiliate.

Led by two brothers, the Maute Group want a "Wilayah", or province of ISIS, in Philippines' southern Lanao del Sur province, where it has engaged in several battles with the military since 2016.

The Philippines army said one of the Maute brothers, Omar Maute, had been killed in the fighting.

Both are believed to have been radicalised in the Middle East. Omar completed Islamic Studies in Egypt. Abdullah also finished his Islamic Studies in Jordan, according to intelligence reports.

Omar is believed to be the brains behind the group while Abdullah serves as the commander of its military operations, reported Rappler website.

Lawmakers over the weekend approved President Rodrigo Duterte's request to extend martial law to the end of the year on the island of Mindanao, granting greater powers to security forces to go after extremists with a reach that goes far beyond Marawi.

It remains unclear how exactly Duterte plans to tackle extremism after troops retake Marawi, one of the biggest southern city in the Philippines, where about 70 militants remain holed up along with many civilian hostages.

After missing several self-imposed deadlines to re-take the city, the military says its options are limited because of the hostages, according to a Reuters report.

More than 500 people have been killed, including 45 civilians and 105 government troops. The fighting has displaced at least 400,000 people.

Sharief said that in his conversation with Abdullah Maute, the latter did not mention the fate of Catholic priest Teresito "Chito" Suganob, the vicar general of Marawi City, who together with others was taken hostage on May 23 when the group launched the assault on Marawi.

An attempt by government troops to arrest Isnilon Hapilon, one of the world's most wanted terrorists, in Marawi had triggered the siege by the militants.

Sharief also said the Abu Sayyaf leader had managed to escape from Marawi in the last week of May.

Defence Secretary Delfin Lorenzana on Sunday (July 23) said that Maute members who would surrender to the government would be accepted and given necessary support by the state even as he stressed that soldiers will strive even harder to end the on-going crisis.

"With the overwhelming vote of confidence from our legislature and the ardent support of the Filipino people, your defense department will strive even more to deal with the rebellion decisively and expeditiously," Lorenzana said in a statement.

Lorenzana, administrator of martial law for Mindanao, said the government would help members of the Maute group who wish to reform to return to normal lives.

Full report at:

http://www.straitstimes.com/asia/se-asia/leader-of-terrorist-group-behind-marwai-assault-still-alive-and-unhurt-as-of-july-17

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Marawi Standoff Enters Third Month, Underlining Crisis in Philippines

July 24, 2017

Manila. Two months after Islamist militants launched an assault on one of the biggest southern cities in the Philippines, the fighting is dragging on, and President Rodrigo Duterte says he is prepared to wait for a year for it to end.

The defense top brass admits it underestimated its enemy and is struggling to finish off the highly organized, pro-Islamic State fighters who swept through Marawi City on May 23 and have held parts of it despite sustained ground attacks by hundreds of soldiers and daily pummelling by planes and artillery.

On Saturday (22/07), lawmakers approved Duterte's request to extend martial law to the end of the year on the island of Mindanao, granting greater powers to security forces to go after extremists with a reach that goes far beyond Marawi.

But it remains unclear how exactly Duterte plans to tackle extremism after troops retake Marawi, where about 70 militants remain holed up in the debris of what was once a flourishing commercial district, along with many civilian hostages.

More than 500 people have been killed, including 45 civilians and 105 government troops. After missing several self-imposed deadlines to re-take the city, the military says its options are limited because of the hostages.

Duterte has said he had asked to military to avoid more civilian casualties.

"I told them 'do not attack.' What's important is we do not want to kill people," he said on Friday. "If we have to wait there for one year, let us wait for one year."

The southern Philippines has been marred for decades by insurgency and banditry. But the intensity of the battle in Marawi and the presence of foreign fighters fighting alongside local militants has raised concerns that the region may be becoming a Southeast Asian hub for Islamic State as it loses ground in Iraq and Syria.

Militants from neighboring Malaysia and Indonesia, both Muslim-majority nations, are fighting in Marawi.

About 5 million Muslims live in the Catholic-majority Philippines, mostly on Mindanao. Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana indicated on Saturday that after Marawi, the government would strengthen surveillance in the region, widening the net to detect rebel training camps and movements of militants.

"We need communications equipment, high-tech communications equipment that we can use to monitor cellphones of the enemies. We also need drones," he told Congress.

Overhaul

Security experts say the government needs a strategic overhaul after failing to act on warnings long ago that radical ideology was taking hold in Mindanao, and luring foreign fighters unable to join Islamic State in Syria and Iraq.

"Things have changed dramatically [...] our country must pursue some paradigm shifts," said analyst and retired police intelligence officer Rodolfo Mendoza.

"We have to counter the spread of terrorism not only by supporting use of intelligence or counter intelligence, but tackling the root causes."

The Marawi assault was planned and executed by a relatively new group, Dawla Islamiya, better known as the Maute Group, which wants recognition from Islamic State as its regional affiliate.

Led by two brothers, the Maute Group want a "Wilayah," or province of Islamic State, in Lanao del Sur province, where it has engaged in fierce, days-long battles with the military since 2016, each time suffering heavy losses before regrouping months later.

The brothers, Abdullah and Omarkhayam Maute, have been joined by Isnilon Hapilon, the anointed Southeast Asian "Emir" of Islamic State and leader of a faction of another Mindanao group, Abu Sayyaf.

The Marawi fighting has been much publicized across militant networks and experts say it could attract more fighters to the region.

"It has inspired young extremists from around the region to want to join," the Institute for Policy Analysis of Conflict said in a report on Friday, adding the fighting had "lifted the prestige of the Philippine fighters in the eyes of ISIS Central."

Richard Javad Heydarian, a political science professor at Manila's De La Salle University, said the military should seek to neutralize the Maute brothers to buy time to disrupt recruitment and stop fighters regrouping.

Moderate separatist groups from Mindanao should be co-opted to counter the extremist message, he said, while the military should work closer with the United States and Australia, which have provided operational advice and surveillance planes.

The Marawi crisis erupted not because of intelligence failures, but the policy priorities of Duterte, Heydarian added.

Full report at:

http://jakartaglobe.id/international/marawi-standoff-enters-third-month-underlining-crisis-philippines/

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South Asia

 

At least 24 killed, 42 injured in Kabul car bomb attack

July 24, 2017

KABUL: A suicide attacker detonated a car bomb in the western part of Kabul on Monday, killing at least 24 people and wounding 42, and the death toll could rise, an Interior Ministry spokesman in the Afghan capital said.

Police cordoned off the area, located near the house of the deputy government Chief Executive Mohammad Mohaqiq in a part of the city where many of the mainly Shi'ite Hazara community live, but they said the target of the attack was so far unclear.

Acting Interior Ministry spokesman Najib Danish said at least 24 people had been killed and 42 wounded but the casualty toll could rise further.

The latest suicide bombing adds to the unrelenting violence in Afghanistan, where at least 1,662 civilians were killed in the first half of the year. It came two weeks after the Islamic State group claimed an attack on a mosque in the capital that killed at least four people.

Kabul has accounted for at least 20 percent of all civilian casualties this year, including at least 150 people killed in a massive truck bomb attack at the end of May, according to United Nations figures.

It also coincides with the U.S. administration weighing up its strategic options for Afghanistan, including the possibility of sending more troops to bolster the training and advisory mission already helping Afghan forces.

http://nation.com.pk/international/24-Jul-2017/at-least-12-killed-in-kabul-car-bomb-attack

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Taliban overruns district headquarters: Afghan official

July 24, 2017

Taliban fighters overran a district headquarters in northern Afghanistan after a ferocious clash that left 2 police personnel dead in northern Faryab province, an Afghan official said on Sunday.

Abdul Karim Yourish, provincial police chief spokesman, said the assault on the Lawlash District government headquarters was launched under the cover of darkness late Saturday.

The police headquarters are located inside a compound along with government offices.

In recent days, Taliban have launched dozens of attacks in northern Afghanistan, temporarily closing a key highway between the capital Kabul and northern Afghanistan.

The attacks reflect the Taliban's efforts to apply pressure on government troops and police across the country and not just in their strongholds in the south and east of Afghanistan.

http://nation.com.pk/international/23-Jul-2017/taliban-overruns-district-headquarters-afghan-official

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Ailing Bangladeshi Islamist cleric moved to New Delhi for treatment

July 23, 2017

The 96-year-old ailing chief of Hefazat-e-Islam, a pro-Islamist platform in Bangladesh, has been flown to the Indian capital for treatment after his health condition worsened, a media report said.

Shah Ahmed Shafi, who has been suffering from various old age complications, left for New Delhi on Saturday, the Dhaka Tribune reported.

Azizul Haque Islamabadi, central organising secretary of the Islamist platform, told the Dhaka Tribune that a flight carrying Shafi left Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport at 10 a.m. on Saturday.

"He [Shafi] has been suffering from various old age complications. He is now taking liquid food through a tube. His respiratory problem has also worsened. That's why he is going Delhi for better treatment. Delhi's Deoband Madrasa teacher Arshad Madani will look after him during the treatment session," Azizul said.

Shafi was undergoing treatment at a private hospital in Chittagong city after he fell sick on May 18.

He was flown to Dhaka on June 6 after his condition deteriorated. Doctors at Asgar Ali Hospital in Gendaria treated him for old age complications and released him from the hospital on July 10.

The controversial nonagenarian leader, who is known as Boro Hujur (the oldest cleric) among his followers, is strongly criticised by progressive people for his highly prejudicial views on various social issues and also for the radical Islamist platform's pledge of Islamising Bangladesh, the daily said.

Shafi is the rector of Al-Jamiatul Ahlia Darul Ulum Moinul Islam, also known as Hathazari Madrasa, and the chairman of Befaqul Madarisil Arabia Bangladesh, the largest Qawmi Madrasa board in Bangladesh.

The Islamist group was in the news earlier this year for demanding the removal of all 'idols' installed in the name of sculptures or statues across the country.

The Hefazat, which is an influential network of madrasas, had demanded the removal of the statue of 'Lady Justice' at the Supreme Court premises and staged countrywide protests demanding the removal of the statue.

Full report at:

http://www.business-standard.com/article/news-ians/ailing-bangladeshi-islamist-cleric-moved-to-new-delhi-for-treatment-117072300368_1.html

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Prominent Taliban leader Mawlavi Shahidullah killed in Kunduz airstrike

Jul 24 2017

A prominent leader of the Taliban group has been killed during the air and ground operations in northern Kunduz province of Afghanistan.

According to the local security officials, Mawlavi Shahidullah was killed during the operations conducted late on Saturday night.

A spokesman for the 20th Pamir Division in Northeastern parts of the country Nazar Mohammad Ghiasi said the operations were conducted in Kunduz city, Qala-e-Zal, and Khanabad districts.

He said at least 17 Taliban insurgents were killed during the operations and 15 others were wounded.

Ghiasi further added that Mawlavi Shahidullah was one of the prominent leaders of the Taliban in Kunduz province who had a major role in the destructive activities.

The Taliban insurgents group has not commented regarding the report so far.

Kunduz is among the relatively volatile provinces in northern Afghanistan where the Taliban insurgents are actively operating in its various districts and often carry out insurgency activities.

The Afghan security forces are busy conducting counter-terrorism operations in various restive districts of Kunduz, including the strategic Kunduz city as the Taliban insurgents are attempting to expand their insurgency in this key province.

http://www.khaama.com/prominent-taliban-leader-mawlavi-shahidullah-killed-in-kunduz-airstrike-03210

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Afghanistan's Hazaras mark anniversary of deadly attack

July 24, 2017

KABUL - Silently, the figures climb the hill in a dusty breeze to reach the gravestones of their loved ones.

The site west of Kabul is the last resting place for victims of a deadly suicide bombing on July 23 last year -- the first claimed by the Islamic State group in the heart of Kabul against Afghanistan's Shiite Muslim Hazara ethnic minority.

A demonstration had been called for Monday -- the first anniversary of the atrocity, according to the religious calendar -- by the leaders of the "Enlightenment", a movement born out of a protest against the routing of a high-voltage power transmission line.

But on Sunday the movement leaders said in a Twitter message the march had been postponed because they are holding talks with the government. The line from Turkmenistan to Kabul, capital of energy-starved Afghanistan, bypasses the province of Bamiyan, a Hazara stronghold.

For Hazara leaders the route is a further sign of discrimination against their community and their province, one of the least developed in Afghanistan.  The young people interred on a stony hilltop west of Kabul were mown down by two suicide bombers as they ended a good-humoured protest a year ago in Kabul.

The official death toll was put at 84 dead with 320 injured. In the early evening when the heat of the day diminishes, it is time for the women to remember the dead. Three of them, in multicoloured shawls, are accompanied by seven children -- the youngest of whom, less than 15 months old, stumbles among the tombs.

They insist they come to pray for all the young victims and not for anyone in particular, and make a point of passing from one grave to another.

'SO WORRIED'

"We are so worried. Day by day, Daesh (Islamic State) becomes more powerful and our government is not honest with us," says a frail man in a grey suit, a black umbrella in hand to protect himself from the sun.

Musa Afzali, who is 56 but looks 20 year older than that, has come to mourn at the tomb of his nephew. Mohamad Juna was just 20 years old when he died. "I was working that day. I got a call announcing the attack. It took us two days to find his body," said Musa Afzali, wiping his eyes on his shawl at the memory.

Amid the panic and the confusion, survivors took victims randomly to hospitals. Because his nephew was very active in the Enlightenment movement, Musa Afzali is ready to take part in any protest in memory of all those who died.

"We are no better than them, we cannot give up," he said. Most of the victims were young people, mainly students -- the elite of the community and its hope for the future. But Qambar Hayder Ali, 68, who watches over the cemetery, also indicates the graves of three schoolchildren and their relatives. Like Assadullah, who looks six years old, buried near his big brother.

A little further on, some grieving parents display their son's certificate of admission to the Peking University Language Institute. Sharif Beiroz would have graduated in July 2020.

Afghanistan's Hazaras, who now number around three million, have been persecuted for decades. Thousands of its members were killed in the late 1990s by al-Qaeda and the Taliban, whose ranks are mostly made up of Sunni Muslim ethnic Pashtuns.

Full report at:

http://nation.com.pk/international/24-Jul-2017/afghanistan-s-hazaras-mark-anniversary-of-deadly-attack

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Arab World

 

Syrian Army Opens up Safe Humanitarian Corridors in Raqqa

Jul 23, 2017

The source said that the army troops have opened up four safe corridors in the last two days for the transfer of people in Raqqa city to the government-controlled regions.

The source further said that ISIL has been using civilians as human shield, adding that the ISIL has also planted a large number of landmines and bombs along the roads to the regions that are under the army control to prevent people from leaving Raqqa.

The source pointed out that a large number of women, children and elderly have left Raqqa for Syrian Army positions and have been resided in temporary camps.  

Relevant reports said on Saturday that a large number of civilians fled their homes in Raqqa to escape the ISIL as well as the growing civilian casualties of the US airstrikes on the terrorist group's pseudo-state's Syrian capital.

As the US-backed Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces of the Euphrates Rage Operation continued the bloody offensive on ISIL in Raqqa, the US-led coalition's increasing air raids led to a growing number of civilian casualties.

Now local sources said that the heavy bombardments by the coalition and ISIL's attacks caused civilians to escape the city in groups.

"Houses, families, children, women, all are hit in random strikes,” a man said.

Another civilian recounted how he had returned to his home one morning to find 12 people dead and then buried them, adding that “there is a massacre at every village, there is no exception for that, massacres took place in all of them".

According to reports, US-led coalition air strikes have killed hundreds of civilians in Syria. The air raids have resulted not only in staggering loss of civilian life, but also have led to tens of thousands of civilians fleeing their homes and becoming internally displaced.

Meanwhile, United Nations war crimes investigators has reported that the US-led coalition's aerial back up for the Kurdish forces to take control of Raqqa from ISIL have thus far killed hundreds of civilians and displaced tens of thousands more.

The UN investigators said that intensified US-led coalition air raids on ISIL's strongholds in Raqqa are causing a "staggering loss of civilian life".

Paulo Pinheiro, chairman of the UN Commission of Inquiry, said that intensified coalition airstrikes have killed at least 300 civilians in the Syrian Northern city of Raqqa since March.

He added that "we note in particular that the intensification of air strikes, which have paved the ground for an SDF advance in Raqqa, have resulted not only in staggering loss of civilian life, but also led to 160,000 civilians fleeing their homes and becoming internally displaced."

Lama Fakih, deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch (HRW) said that "the battle for Raqqa is not just about defeating ISIS (ISIL or Daesh), but also about protecting and assisting the civilians who have suffered under ISIL rule for three and a half years.”

"Coalition members and local forces should demonstrate concretely that the lives and rights of hundreds of thousands of civilians in Raqqa are a parallel priority in the offensive,” Fakih added.

Pentagon chief James Mattis has recently said that the US is “accelerating the tempo” of the fight against ISIL, and that civilian deaths should be anticipated as a “fact of life”.

The comments came after new figures from war monitor the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights found that the last four-week period was the deadliest for Syrian civilians on record since the US-led coalition bombing campaign began in 2014.

Based on reports, since the first days of 2017 hundreds of civilians have been killed in the US-led coalition's airstrikes in Syria and Iraq.

The SDF started military Operations codenamed 'Euphrates Rage' to liberate Raqqa from the ISIL hands in November 2016, as the US has sent tens of trucks full of light and semi-heavy weapons to the Syrian Democratic Forces.

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13960501001166

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Tahrir Al-Sham Terrorists Occupy More Regions in Northern Syria

Jul 23, 2017

The sources said that Tahrir al-Sham dispatched its military column, including 25 vehicles, and captured the town of Dar al-Izzah.

They went on to say that Tahrir al-Sham imposed control over the village of Termanin and Mount Barakat that is the highest mountain in Northern Aleppo overlooking Afrin region and Western and Northern Aleppo.

The sources said that the militant Regiment of Hazifeh Bin al-Liman and the Battalions of Ibn Tamimeh cut their ties with Ahrar al-Sham and joined Tahrir al-Sham, paving the ground for Tahrir al-Sham to capture the region without any battle.

Relevant reports said on Thursday that intensified clashes between Ahrar al-Sham and Tahrir al-Sham Hay'at in Southern Idlib resulted in the latter's control over several towns and villages.

The clashes erupted in the towns of Saraqib, Sarmada, Khan al-Sobol, Ariha, Salqin, Abli and Kalki, leaving tens of terrorists dead and wounded from both sides.

According to reports, Tahrir al-Sham took control of the villages and towns of Harem, Azmarin, al-Dana, al-Habit and al-Amar and the Sraqib silos.

After the development, Ahrar al-Sham attacked the town of Hazarin, occupied by Tahrir al-Sham on Wednesday, by tanks.

Full report at:

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13960501001354

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43 receive draconian sentences over death of Egyptian prosecutor

Jul 22, 2017

An Egyptian court has handed down some draconian death and life sentences to 43 people for their involvement in the 2015 killing of the country’s then top prosecutor.

In a Saturday hearing, the criminal court in Cairo sentenced 28 people to death while 15 other people convicted in the case received jails terms of up to 25 years.

The sentences were announced by the court after Egypt’s Grand Mufti, the country’s top religious authority, reportedly approved an earlier recommendation for endorsing the death penalties. The sentences are now open for appeal, the court said.

The ruling brought to an end the relatively long legal procedure related to the death of Hisham Barakat, Egypt’s former public prosecutor who was killed on June 29, 2015, when a car bomb hit his convoy in Cairo. Egyptian authorities blamed the assassination on the Muslim Brotherhood, the oldest and most popular party in the country, which had been outlawed a year earlier after a series of political developments led to the rise of army man Abdel Fattah el-Sisi to power at the expense of Mohammed Morsi, a senior Brotherhood member.

Tens of thousands of Brotherhood members have been jailed and convicted by Sisi’s judiciary system over the past three years while many from the party’s top echelon have been sentenced to death or life in jail. Rights groups have repeatedly criticized the crackdown, saying it has mostly targeted the political opponents of Sisi.

Full report at:

http://www.presstv.ir/Detail/2017/07/22/529317/Egypt-prosecutor-killing

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Explosion kills 11 in Syria’s militant-held city of Idlib

Jul 23, 2017

Nearly a dozen people have been killed in a massive explosion that rocked the militant-held city of Idlib in northwestern Syria, purportedly targeting a gathering of members of the Jabhat Fateh al-Sham Takfiri terrorist group, formerly known as al-Nusra Front.

The blast was caused by detonating an explosive-laden car on Sunday, a few hours after the Takfiri terrorist group managed to push its rival group, the Ahrar al-Sham, from the terror-stricken city.

According to local sources, the huge blast killed at least 11 people and inflicted injuries to 34 others.

Two civilians, including a child, were among the dead.

According to local sources, the truck belonged to Ahrar al-Sham and the blast was reportedly carried out in revenge for its defeat against the more powerful Jabhat Fateh al-Sham, which is reportedly in full control of the city now.

Syria has been fighting different foreign-sponsored militant and terrorist groups since March 2011. UN Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura estimated last August that more than 400,000 people had been killed in the crisis until then.

http://www.presstv.ir/Detail/2017/07/23/529460/Syria-Idlib-Jabhat-Fateh-alSham-Ahrar-alSham-explosion

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Egypt forces kill eight militants at camp in south

July 24, 2017

CAIRO - Egyptian security forces have killed eight suspected Islamist militants belonging to the Hasm movement in what officials said was a training camp in a southern desert region, the interior ministry said on Sunday.

Five other militants were arrested in operations carried out in Giza and Sharqiya regions, it said. Automatic rifles, ammunitions and supplies were recovered at the Fayoum camp southwest of the capital, the ministry said.  Hasm, a group that emerged last year and has claimed several attacks on security forces, said on Friday it had carried out a shooting last week in Fayoum, a province about 60 km (37.28 miles) south of Cairo, that killed one policeman and injured three others.  Egypt accuses Hasm of being a militant wing of the Muslim Brotherhood, an Islamist group it outlawed in 2013. The Muslim Brotherhood denies this. An Islamist insurgency in the rugged Sinai Peninsula strengthened after the Egyptian military overthrew President Mohamed Mursi of the Muslim Brotherhood in mid-2013 following mass protests against his rule.

Full report at:

http://nation.com.pk/international/24-Jul-2017/egypt-forces-kill-eight-militants-at-camp-in-south

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Syrian Soldiers Make Fresh Gains in War on Terrorism in Eastern Damascus

Jul 23, 2017

The army men engaged in fierce clashes with Al-Nusra in Ein Terma and captured several buildings after Sonbol petrol station, advancing almost 800 meters along the main passageways of terrorists in Eastern Ghouta.

In the meantime, the Syrian fighter jets bombed Al-Nusra centers heavily in Jobar region after the army men engaged in heavy fighting with terrorists in the region.

Relevant reports said on Saturday that the army men continued their anti-terrorism advances in Ein Terma and detonated a large arms and munitions depot Northeast of Sonbol petrol station, killing a number of terrorists, including several snipers.

The source added that several strong positions of the terrorists adjacent to Shimi Land project in Ein Terma were destroyed in the attack.

The source further pointed out that the army has imposed full control over three strategic positions of al-Menara School, Zmelka crossroad and Meat Packing Company in its one-month long operation in Ein Terma.

The army has also destroyed a tank, several BMP vehicles, eight missile launchpads, and ten heavy and semi-heavy machineguns of terrorists in its operation.

The source went on to say that over six military convoys of the terrorists along the road connecting Harmaleh passageway to their positions in Ein Terma, 37 tunnels and trenches including three tunnels for vehicles, media center of the terrorists were destroyed in the army's one-month-long operation in Eastern Damascus.

Full report at:

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13960501000849

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Jihadists control Syria's Idlib after rebel pullout

July 24, 2017

BEIRUT - A former Al-Qaeda affiliate took control of the northern Syrian city of Idlib on Sunday two days after agreeing to end fighting with a rebel group, a monitor said. "Ahrar al-Sham (the rebel group) withdrew from the city of Idlib which is now under the control of (the jihadist) Hayat Tahrir al-Sham," Rami Abdel Rahman of the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights told AFP.

This week saw fierce clashes between Hayat Tahrir al-Sham and Ahrar al-Sham across much of Idlib province, including at the key Bab al-Hawa border crossing with Turkey, before a truce was announced late Friday.

"Hundreds of rebels left the city aboard dozens of vehicles heading towards southern Idlib province," Abdel Rahman said. He said Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) set up checkpoints across the northwestern city.

The Observatory also reported two loud explosions in Idlib, killing one person and wounding 30, but with no further details. HTS and Ahrar al-Sham, which is supported by Turkey and some Gulf countries, were once allies and fought alongside each other to capture most of Idlib province from the Syrian government in 2015.

But analysts say growing tensions over the past two months have been exacerbated by HTS fears of a plan to expel the internationally designated "terror" group from the province. Idlib is one of the last Syrian provinces still beyond regime control.

The fall of the city and provincial capital to the jihadists is symbolic and comes after the Observatory said they captured "more than 31 towns and villages" across the province over the past two days.

The bloodless takeover of the towns and villages came after Friday's truce announcement. The HTS is dominated by the Fateh al-Sham faction, which was previously known as Al-Nusra Front before renouncing its ties to Al-Qaeda.

Full report at:

http://nation.com.pk/international/24-Jul-2017/jihadists-control-syria-s-idlib-after-rebel-pullout

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Rival Groups Likely to Engage in Fresh Clashes in Syria's Idlib

Jul 23, 2017

The Arabic-language al Sharq al Awsat daily quoted an opposition source in Northern Syria as saying that Tahrir a-Sham Hay'at has captured over 70 percent of Idlib province in recent clashes with Ahrar al-Sham.

The source said that the deal over Bab al-Hawa border-crossing between the two rival groups was concluded by Ankara's mediation, but Turkey's final plan is to support Ahrar al-Sham to start battling Tahrir al-Sham.

Based on the agreement, Bab al-Hawa's revenues must be distributed between Ahrar al-Sham and Tahrir al-Sham.

The sources also said that the security situation in Idlib is getting worst, as despite the earlier pause in clashes, Tahrir al-Sham has started attacking positions of Ahrar al-Sham and other militant groups.   

Relevant reports said on Saturday that terrorists of Ahrar al-Sham and Tahrir al-Sham Hay'at declared ceasefire after non-stop clashes in Idlib province.

Ahrar al-Sham and Tahrir al-Sham ended fight after the former took up to retreat from its positions in Bab al-Hawa border region in Northern Idlib and pass on control to a non-military council.

The two terrorist groups also agreed to halt clashes, remain committed to the truce and free each other's war captives.

Ahrar al-Sham Commander Abu Amar al-Omar had previously threatened that if Tahrir al-Sham attacked their positions, his forces would retaliate in alliance with other militant groups.

In reaction to the recent intensified clashes between terrorist groups in Idlib, the Turkish Army has deployed several artillery units in front of Bab al-Hawa border passageway in Northern Idlib and the Turkish fighter jets are carrying continued flights over the border region with Syria.

Full report at:

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13960501001484

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Egypt opens sprawling military camp, says largest in Middle East

Jul 22, 2017

Egypt has opened a sprawling military base in the northwest of the country, which officials claim is the largest of its kind in the region.

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi was seen on state TV on Saturday inaugurating the military base at El Hammam City in Marsa Matrouh governorate west of Alexandria.

Officials said the Mohammed Naguib military base is the largest in the Middle East and is to protect facilities and projects in the coastal cities on the Mediterranean. The area is a major tourist destination and has seen a surge in acts of terror by suspected militants. Daesh, a Takfiri terrorist group based in Iraq and Syria, which has established a branch in the nearby Sinai region since the 2013 ouster of Sisi’s predecessor Mohammed Morsi, has been behind many of the attacks in Egypt’s northwest. Smaller groups have also targeted tourists to harm Egypt’s revenues from the profitable industry.

Naguib, whom the base is dedicated to, was Egypt’s first president after the end of the monarchy 65 years ago. Sisi, himself a general, rose to power after serving as Egypt’s head of the armed forces. He is believed to have led the popular coup which removed Morsi from office one year after he became Egypt’s first democratically-elected president. Sisi inaugurated the camp with senior officials from Arab countries in attendance.

Full report at:

http://www.presstv.ir/Detail/2017/07/22/529354/Egypt-military-base-inauguration

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Syrian army soldiers, allies gain more ground in battle against Daesh

Jul 23, 2017

Syrian government forces, backed by allied fighters from popular defense groups, have made fresh advances against the Daesh Takfiri terrorist group across the war-ravaged Arab country.

Syria’s official news agency, SANA, reported that Syrian Army fighter jets had bombarded Daesh positions and gatherings on the outskirts of the troubled northeastern city of Dayr al-Zawr, located 450 kilometers northeast of the capital Damascus on Sunday, killing and wounding scores of the terrorists.

A large number of Daesh Takfiris were also killed and injured when Syrian army units and their allies engaged in heavy clashes with them on southern outskirts of Dayr al-Zawr as well as the area surrounding Dayr al-Zawr Airport.

The clashes reportedly coincided with airstrikes on the hills south of Dayr al-Zawr, where a pickup truck equipped with a machine gun, and a number of terrorists' hideouts were destroyed.

Separately, a young man set fire to a Daesh media center in Hatla village southeast of Dayr al-Zawr.

Unnamed military sources also confirmed that Saleh Mohammad al-Khaleif, a high-profile member of Daesh, has also escaped to the eastern countryside of Dayr al-Zawr, taking huge sums of money with him.

Elsewhere in Sabkha village east of Daesh-held northern city of Raqqah, Syrian army troops managed to regain control over an oil field.

Full report at:

http://www.presstv.ir/Detail/2017/07/23/529442/Syrian-army-forces-allies-new-advances-Takfiri-Daesh-terrorists-Dayr-alZawr-Raqqah

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Mideast

 

Christian man prays with Jerusalem Muslims as religious tensions flare

July 23, 2017

Jerusalem (CNN)Nidal Aboud stood out as one among many. As the men around him bowed, he made the sign of the cross. As they chanted their prayers, he read the Bible to himself. And as they said "Allahu Akbar" -- God is greatest -- he stood silently and respectfully.

He was the only Christian among thousands of Muslims at Friday prayers in the Wadi el-Joz neighbourhood, outside the Old City of Jerusalem.

The photograph, taken by CNN, of this simple interfaith moment has been published in local media and widely shared on social network sites as a touching example of cooperation in a time of conflict.

The prayers took place after Israel restricted access to Al-Aqsa mosque, which sits on the holiest site in the Old City, known to Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary and to Jews as the Temple Mount.

After an attack at the Lion's Gate entrance to the site left two Israeli police officers dead last week, Israeli authorities installed metal detectors and limited entry to men over 50 and women. On Sunday, they installed security cameras, a move that is likely to further inflame tensions.

The security measures are seen by Palestinians and Arab countries as a unilateral attempt by Israel to control the site -- considered holy by both the Muslim and Jewish communities -- and they have triggered widespread demonstrations and violent clashes between Palestinians and Israeli security forces.

Aboud, a 24-year-old Palestinian who has never before joined the midday Muslim prayers, says he wanted to stand alongside Muslims as they worshiped.

"I had a dream since I was a child. I wanted to spread the world with love. I wanted to be the one who plants love in people's hearts," Aboud told CNN.

Holding a Bible with a cross draped around his neck, he said he didn't feel out of place.

"I asked my Muslim friends for their permission to pray between them. They were asking me to stand beside them," he said.

"My motivation was to stand in solidarity with my Muslim brothers and in solidarity with our Palestinian issue against the (Israeli) occupation and its policies against our holy sites, whether it's the mosque or the church."

Aboud says he would refuse to walk through a metal detector if one were placed outside the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in the Old City, the biblical site of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ.

He is urging all Christians to unite with Muslims against what he says is blatant unfairness, and even urged Jews to stand against Israeli occupation.

Tensions have been high in Jerusalem and the West Bank following the attack on police in the Old City and the increased security measures.

Aboud sees his small act of inclusiveness as a way of bridging the gap between the region's religions. "I see it as a sign from God that my dream came true to be the ambassador of goodwill between religions."

http://edition.cnn.com/2017/07/23/middleeast/jerusalem-christian-man-prays-muslims/index.html

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Israel playing with fire at al-Aqsa Mosque: Arab League

Jul 23, 2017

The Arab League has strongly condemned Israel’s new restrictive measures at al-Aqsa Mosque in the Old City of the occupied Jerusalem al-Quds, stressing that the Tel Aviv regime is “playing with fire” at the highly sensitive sacred site.

“Jerusalem al-Quds is a red line,” the regional organization’s chief, Ahmed Abul Gheit, said in a statement released on Sunday, adding that “no Arab or Muslim will accept violations” against holy sites in the city.

Abul Gheit further accused Israel of “adventurism” and said its imposition of fresh restrictive measures could trigger a “crisis with the Arab and Muslim world.”

The statement came after two Palestinian teenagers succumbed to injuries they sustained during clashes in protest at Israel’s imposition of restrictive measures at the al-Aqsa Mosque compound, including the installment of metal detectors and cameras, following a deadly shooting attack more than a week ago.

The Palestinian Health Ministry said 17-year-old Oday Nawajaa died on Saturday after being hit by Israeli live fire in the West Bank city of al-Eizariya.

Another 18-year-old Palestinian suffered fatal injuries in the West Bank town of Abu Dis, when a petrol bomb exploded prematurely.

On July 14, three Palestinians opened fire on Israeli forces at the al-Aqsa Mosque compound, killing two of them before being shot dead.

Israel detains Hamas lawmaker in West Bank

Separately, Israeli forces arrested a legislator with the Gaza-based Islamic resistance movement, Hamas, along with nearly a dozen other Palestinians during separate operations across the occupied West Bank.

A large number of Israeli troopers raided the home of 53-year-old Omar Abdel Razek in the central West Bank city of Salfi on Sunday morning, and violently ransacked it before taking the Palestinian lawmaker away to an unknown location.

Israeli forces have detained Abdel Razek on multiple occasions in the past. The Palestinian lawmaker was last arrested in mid-2014 after the killing of the three settlers in al-Khalil (Hebron).

He has been held each time under Israel's policy of administrative detention, which is a sort of imprisonment without trial or charge that allows Israel to incarcerate Palestinians for up to six months. The jail term can be extended for an indefinite number of times.

Some prisoners have been held in administrative detention for up to 11 years without any charges brought against them.

Palestinian detainees have continuously resorted to open-ended hunger strikes to express their outrage at the detentions.

Also early on Tuesday, Israeli forces broke into several homes across West Bank and the Old City of Jerusalem al-Quds, arresting more than two dozen Palestinians. 

Two minor girls aged 16 and 17 from the predominantly Palestinian neighborhood of Silwan on the outskirts of the Old City of Jerusalem al-Quds, and an activist from Ramallah were among those arrested.

Israel may reduce metal detectors installed at al-Aqsa Mosque

Meanwhile, Israeli officials said on Sunday that they will not remove metal detectors installed outside al-Aqsa Mosque compound.

“They (metal detectors) will remain…. If they (Palestinians) do not want to enter the mosque, then let them not enter the mosque,” Tzachi Hanegbi, Israeli minister for regional development and a senior member of the ruling Likud party, told Israel's Army Radio.

However, Gilad Erdan, Israel's public security minister, also told Army Radio that Israeli officials may do away with metal detector checks for all Muslims entering the al-Aqsa Mosque.

“There are, after all, many worshipers whom the police knows, regulars, and very elderly people and so on, and it is recommended that we avoid putting all of these through metal detectors,” Erdan commented.

This is while the Muslim authorities in charge of al-Aqsa Mosque affairs said they would continue to refuse to go through the metal detectors, and will hold street prayers.

“We stress our absolute rejection of the electronic gates, and of all measures by the Occupation (Israel) that would change the historical and religious status in Jerusalem al-Quds and its sacred sites, foremost the blessed Aqsa Mosque,” Grand Mufti of Jerusalem al-Quds Muhammad Hussein, Chief Justice Chancellor Emad Saleem Sa’ad and the Jordanian-sponsored Waqf religious trust said in a joint statement.

The occupied Palestinian territories have witnessed new tensions ever since Israeli forces introduced restrictions on the entry of Palestinian worshipers into the al-Aqsa Mosque compound in East Jerusalem al-Quds in August 2015.

More than 300 Palestinians have lost their lives at the hands of Israeli forces in the ongoing tensions since the beginning of October 2015.

The Tel Aviv regime has tried to change the demographic makeup of Jerusalem al-Quds over the past decades by constructing settlements, destroying historical sites and expelling the local Palestinian population. Palestinians say the Israeli measures are aimed at paving the way for the Judaization of the city.

Full report at:

http://www.presstv.ir/Detail/2017/07/23/529427/Arab-League-secretary-general-Ahmed-Aboul-Gheit-Israel-playing-with-fire-measures-alAqsa-Mosque

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Divisive approaches escalate insecurity, instability in Iraq: Shamkhani

Jul 23, 2017

A senior Iranian official has warned that adopting divisive approaches in Iraq would prepare the ground for the Arab country’s enemies to pursue more excessive demands and boost insecurity and instability.

In a meeting with Iraqi Defense Minister Erfan al-Hiyali in Tehran on Sunday, Secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council (SNSC) Ali Shamkhani said national unity and integrity in Iraq would guarantee the country’s stability and security and serve the interests of Iraqis regardless of their ethnic and religious backgrounds.

He hailed the resistance of the Iraqi people, army and popular forces against terrorist groups’ threats and said, “Close cooperation among countries which have been victims of terrorism in the region is an unavoidable necessity for military, security and cultural confrontation with terrorism.”

“It will also prevent the reemergence of terrorism and military intervention of foreigners under the pretext of fighting them,” he added.

The SNSC secretary emphasized that the Islamic Republic would continue to support Iraq’s armed forces and cooperate with the war-stricken country to establish full security and peace and deter all terrorist threats.

Iran’s support plays leading role in the fight against Daesh

Hiyali, for his part, said relentless support by the Iranian government, people and Armed Forces for Iraq in its campaign against terrorism played a determining role in the Iraqi nation’s victory against the Daesh Takfiris.

The Iraqi defense minister stressed the importance of strengthening bilateral cooperation in various fields given the two sides’ common objectives.

He said the Iraqi army had managed to independently thwart any act of aggression against the country and would never make way for new plots and illegal moves, which are aimed at disintegrating Iraq.

Heading a delegation, Hiyali arrived in Tehran on Saturday at the official invitation of Iranian Defense Minister Brigadier General Hossein Dehqan. Later in the day, the two defense chiefs held talks on different issues.

Hiyali and Dehqan on Sunday signed a memorandum of understanding to boost defense and military cooperation in a variety of fields.

Full report at:

http://www.presstv.ir/Detail/2017/07/23/529429/Iran-Iraq-Ali-Shamkhani-Erfan-alHiyali

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US violation of nuclear deal won’t go unanswered: Iran official

Jul 23, 2017

A senior official says Iran will respond to any failure on the part of the US to meet its commitments under the 2015 nuclear agreement, to which Washington is a signatory.

Ali Akbar Velayati, the senior adviser to Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei on international affairs, made the remarks after a meeting with China's Special Envoy for Syria Xie Xiaoyan in Tehran on Saturday.

“Undoubtedly, the US breach of the JCPOA won’t go unanswered,” he said, referring to the nuclear deal, officially called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.

He said the supervisory committee on the implementation of the nuclear accord would discuss the US non-compliance and make a collective decision after hearing the results of the eighth meeting of the Iran-P5+1 Joint Commission in Vienna this week.

The nuclear agreement was inked between Iran and the P5+1 countries — namely the US, Russia, China, France, Britain, and Germany — in July 2015 and took effect in January 2016.

Under the deal, which was later endorsed by a UN Security Council resolution, limits were put on Iran’s nuclear activities in exchange for the removal of all nuclear-related bans imposed on the Islamic Republic, among other things.

The administration of US President Donald Trump, which took over in January 2017, one year after the JCPOA came into force, has however slapped sanctions on Iran over its missile program in violation of the nuclear deal.

Kuwait downgraded Iran ties under Saudi pressure

Elsewhere in his comments, Velayati said Kuwait’s recent move to downgrade its ties with Iran came under Saudi, US and Israeli pressure.

“It is in the interest of the Kuwaiti government and nation to manage their relations with Iran based on good neighborly relations," rather than endangering the country's national interests under pressure from the Saudis and others, he said.

On Thursday, Kuwait shut down the Iranian cultural mission and ordered the Iranian ambassador to Kuwait City and 14 other Iranian diplomats to leave the country, according to local media reports.

Full report at:

http://www.presstv.ir/Detail/2017/07/23/529389/Iran-Velayati

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Defence minister vows Iran's full support for Iraq stability, security

Jul 22, 2017

Iranian Defense Minister Brigadier General Hossein Dehqan says the Islamic Republic will continue to provide Iraq with full support to help it become more secure and powerful.

“We have cooperated and will cooperate with the Iraqi government and nation and will continue our support [for the country],” Dehqan said in a meeting with Iraqi Defense Minister Erfan al-Hiyali in Tehran on Saturday.

“We will use our utmost political, economic and military capabilities along with Iraq’s capabilities to establish sustainable security and stability in the country and create a powerful Iraq,” he added.

He further hailed the Iraqi armed forces’ recent achievements in the fight against terrorism and the full liberation of the northern city of Mosul from the grip of the Daesh terrorist group and said such a victory was the outcome of bravery, unity and coherence among Iraqis of all ethnicities and faiths.

He emphasized that national unity and integrity in Iraq would guarantee stability, security and interests of all ethnic groups and said Iran would never accept any divisive move in the country.

On July 10, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi formally declared victory of the country’s forces over Daesh in Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city which fell into the hands of the Takfiri terrorist group in June 2014. The victory marked the formal end of a campaign that lasted nearly nine months.

Pointing to the support of certain regional countries for terrorists and their collusion with the US and Israeli regime to cause insecurity across the region, the Iranian defense minister said, “A regional and international consensus must be achieved against terrorism and its supporters” to eradicate it, Dehqan said.

Iran-Iraq interests help ties expansion

The Iraqi defense minister, for his part, said Tehran and Baghdad have common views, objectives and interests, which would prepare the ground for the expansion of relations.

Hiyali hailed Iran’s full support for the Iraqi government, nation and the armed forces and called for the further development of defense and military cooperation with the Islamic Republic.

Full report at:

http://www.presstv.ir/Detail/2017/07/22/529345/Iran-Iraq-Mosul-Hossein-Dehqan-Erfan-Hiyali-terrorism

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Mine blast kills Saudi soldier near Yemen border

23 July 2017

RIYADH: A Saudi border guard died on Sunday in a mine explosion near the country’s border with Yemen, the interior ministry said.

The guard was on patrol in the southern Asir province when the mine exploded, the ministry said in a statement carried by the official SPA news agency.

Saudi Arabia heads an Arab military coalition which entered Yemen in March 2015 to prop up the government up against Iran-backed Houthi rebels.

Asir province is home to an air base central to the coalition campaign.

The Houthis and their allies, troops loyal to former president Ali Abdullah Saleh, control much of northern Yemen and the Red Sea coast including the port of Hodeida.

Cross-border attacks by the rebels have killed 140 military personnel and civilians inside Saudi Arabia since March 2015.

http://www.arabnews.com/node/1133726/saudi-arabia

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Iran, Iraq Ink MoU on Defence-Military Cooperation

Jul 23, 2017

Iran and Iraq have signed a memorandum of understanding to boost defense and military cooperation in a variety of fields.

The agreement was inked by Iranian Defense Minister Brigadier General Hossein Dehqan and his Iraqi counterpart, Erfan al-Hiyali, in Tehran on Sunday.

According to the MoU, Tehran and Baghdad will strengthen cooperation, exchange experience in the fight against terrorism and extremism, improve border security, and provide the two countries' military forces with training, logistical, technical and military support.

Speaking at the ceremony held to sign the agreement, Dehqan said while terrorist groups, especially Daesh, were committing crimes in Iraq, cooperation between the two countries resulted in great achievements.

He added that more serious cooperation was necessary to prevent the emergence of terrorist groups in Iraq and across the region.

“The signed MoU will set a framework for future cooperation and we hope that it would prepare the ground for serious and effective measures [in this regard],” Dehqan said.

The Iraqi minister, for his part, said the agreement was signed in line with the two countries’ common interests.

Full report at:

http://www.presstv.ir/Detail/2017/07/23/529419/Iran-Iraq-Hossein-Dehqan-Erfan-alHiyali-MoU

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Iran strongly condemns Israeli 'terrorism' in Mideast

Jul 23, 2017

Iran has strongly condemned Israel's siege of the al-Aqsa Mosque and its crackdown on Palestinian worshipers, saying the regime is the source of terrorism in the region. 

Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Qassemi on Sunday also called on world nations and governments to support "the oppressed Palestinians and counter inhuman measures and aggression of the usurping Zionists."

He touched on a "continued mass abduction of the Palestinian people by usurious Zionists and their crimes, aggressions and violations of the basic rights of Palestinians, in particular restrictions put on religious freedom and access to holy places" in Jerusalem al-Quds.

The crackdown "shows that the oppressed Palestine is still the first issue of the Islamic world and the Zionist regime acts as the manifestation, source, and origin of state terrorism and panic in the region," Qassemi said.

He also criticized the regional states for their silence and inaction in the face of the Israeli crackdown, asking the international community, especially the United Nations, "to urgently address the unfortunate developments in the occupied territories and firmly stand against the oppression, racial discrimination and religious discrimination policies of the Zionist regime."

"We also call on the international community and human rights organizations, including the UN Human Rights Council and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), to act in accordance with their duty to confront and decisively condemn the inhuman and anti-cultural policies of the Zionist regime which are against human rights principles," he added.

Tensions broke out in the occupied territories on July 14, when a deadly shooting took place outside the Haram al-Sharif which Jews call Temple Mount.

Following the incident, Israeli police briefly shut down the al-Aqsa compound in the occupied East Jerusalem al-Quds and canceled Muslim Friday prayers at the holy site.

Israel reopened the compound on July 16, but with metal detectors and surveillance cameras put up at entrances.

Palestinians say Israel’s fresh restrictions at al-Aqsa are meant to expand the regime’s control over the highly-sensitive site and change its status quo.

The occupied lands have been volatile ever since Israeli forces imposed restrictions on the entry of Palestinian worshipers into al-Aqsa two years ago.

The Tel Aviv regime has been trying to change the demographic makeup of Jerusalem al-Quds by constructing settlements, destroying historical sites and expelling the local Palestinian population.

Full report at:

http://www.presstv.ir/Detail/2017/07/23/529410/Iran--Israel

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Post-coup Turkey tries its best known journalists

Jul 24, 2017

As many as 17 directors and journalists from one of Turkey’s most respected newspapers are being tried on Monday after spending over eight months behind bars as the government's post-coup crackdown shows no sign of slowing.

The suspects including writers, cartoonists and executives from opposition mouthpiece Cumhuriyet will go on trial from 0600 GMT at the imposing palace of justice in Istanbul.

Those appearing in court include some of the best known names in Turkish journalism including the columnist Kadri Gursel, the paper's editor-in-chief Murat Sabuncu, the respected cartoonist Musa Kart and the investigative journalist Ahmet Sik.

Eleven of the 17 suspects are held in jail with the other six free under judicial supervision. The paper's former editor-in-chief Can Dundar is being tried in absentia after fleeing to Germany. 

The indictment accuses Cumhuriyet of beginning a "perception operation" with the aim of starting an "asymmetric war" against President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. If convicted, the defendants could face varying terms of up to 43 years in jail.

They were detained from October last year under the state of emergency implemented after the July 15, 2016 failed coup. Supporters have dismissed the charges as absurd and an attempt to muzzle the newspaper.

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) Secretary General Christophe Deloire said, "It's journalism in Turkey, not just Cumhuriyet, that is being put on trial."

Turkey ranks 155th on the RSF press freedom meter, which rates 180 countries. There are reportedly 166 journalists behind bars in Turkey.

President Erdogan, however, insisted in an interview earlier this month there were just "two real journalists" behind bars in Turkey.

The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention has said it had found that the detention of the staff was arbitrary and that they should be immediately released and given the right to compensation.

Back in May, UK-based rights body Amnesty International said 250,000 activists had signed an online petition calling for the release of journalists detained in Turkey following the abortive coup.

Full report at:

http://www.presstv.ir/Detail/2017/07/24/529483/Turkey-Cumhuriyet

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Europe

 

France plans to legitimize Libya rebel commander Haftar: Sources

Jul 23, 2017

Diplomatic sources in Paris have revealed that French President Emmanuel Macron is to hold a meeting with Libya’s renegade military commander Khalifa Haftar in Paris as reports suggest that the French government is planning to give the rogue general some sort of legitimacy.

A diplomatic source said Sunday that Macron was planning to meet Haftar, who is reportedly in Paris for talks with the head of Libya’s government next week, an encounter the source said could help bring around the commander by offering him "some form of legitimacy".

The source said Macron wanted France to play a more active role in tackling the crisis in Libya; a country plagued by militancy six years after the ouster and killing of longtime dictator Muammar Ghaddafi.

The source said recognizing the authority and influence of Haftar would allow Government of National Accord (GNA) to implement a 2015 the United Nations-backed peace agreement.

It also revealed that GNA head and Libya’s Prime Minister Fayez al-Serraj will arrive in Paris for talks with Haftar in the coming days.

“I know Haftar is in Paris already, Serraj is due to arrive soon. They are aiming for Tuesday,” said the source, adding that Macron will also hold a meeting with Serraj.

There was no official confirmation from the French government that the meetings on Libya would take place. GNA officials have yet to comment on the peace talks between Serraj and Haftar in Paris. However, Libyan local media have cited a Libyan government source saying Serraj would arrive in Paris on Tuesday.

Haftar served as a senior military commander during the time of Gaddafi. Enjoying strong support from regional governments, including from Libya’s neighbor Egypt and the United Arab Emirates, Haftar has consistently refused to accept GNA’s legitimacy. This comes as governments like Algeria and Tunisia support an inclusive and political approach to the Libyan crisis and want Haftar to disarm. Haftar forces have managed to gain grounds in eastern Libyan territories over the past months

France, along with Britain, are repeatedly blamed for the crisis in Libya as the two contributed to the NATO military alliance’s limited military operation which helped topple Gaddafi in 2011.

http://www.presstv.ir/Detail/2017/07/23/529461/Libya-Haftar-France-talks

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Germans wary of government inaction on Turkey’s provocations: poll

Jul 23, 2017

A new poll released in Germany indicates that Germans have become increasingly wary of the way their government is handling an ongoing diplomatic crisis with Turkey, saying Berlin has not done enough to defend Germany against Turkish Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s hate campaign against the Germans.

Results of the poll published in the German daily Bild am Sonntag on Sunday said 76 percent of the respondents thought that the government was not defending itself enough against Erdogan.

Some 12 percent disagreed with the idea of government inaction on Erdogan’s hate campaign against Germany, the poll, conducted by Emnid opinion research institute, said.

The survey also found that a growing number of Germans think Turkey was no longer a safe destination for their holiday-making. It said 44 percent said they can still go on holiday in Turkey.

The poll comes amid widening diplomatic disputes between Germany and Turkey. Ties further deteriorated earlier this week when Turkish prosecutors remanded in custody six rights activists, including a German national, for their alleged support for terrorism activities. Germany has lashed out at Turkey over the arrest of Peter Steudtner, calling allegations against him and other activists as baseless and in line with a wider crackdown launched by Erdogan against the dissent since a failed coup last year. More than 200,000 people have been either jailed or dismissed from work in Turkey on suspicion of having links to main plotters of the July 15, 2016 coup attempt.

After the arrest of Steudtner, Germany has warned Turkey of economic sanctions and suspension of cooperation between the two countries in weapons projects.

A senior aide to German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Sunday that Berlin was still willing to engage with Turkey, reiterating that it was Ankara’s “unacceptable behavior” that was hampering better ties.

"We want to have good relations with this big and important country but that's only possible if Turkey is and remains a state under the rule of law," Merkel's chief of staff Peter Altmaier said.  

Full report at:

http://www.presstv.ir/Detail/2017/07/23/529437/Germany-Turkey-disputes-poll

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UK Islamist Hate Preacher Jailed in New Isolation Unit

July 23, 2017

London: Anjem Choudary, a notorious Islamist hate preacher of Pakistani origin jailed for propagating terror last year, has become one of the first extremists to be moved to Britain's new isolation jail unit, according to a media report on Sunday.

Fifty-year-old Choudary was jailed for five and a half years in September 2016 for urging Muslims to support the Islamic State. The judge in his ruling then said that the "calculating and dangerous" man should be locked up behind bars.

Among Choudary's followers was one of the five attackers who stormed a cafe in Bangladesh capital Dhaka in July 2016 and killed 22 people, including an Indian girl.

Also among his followers was Indian-origin IS fighter Siddhartha Dhar, whom the UK media dubbed 'Jihadi Sid'. The British Hindu converted to Islam and now goes by the name Abu Rumaysah.

Choudary has become the first known Islamist to be moved to a "separation centre" at HMP Frankland, a high-security prison in County Durham, northeast England, The Sunday Times reported.

He was moved to the unit after he refused to stop preaching his extremist views despite being warned by prison authorities, the newspaper reported.

Frankland's separation centre is the first of three in high security units. The other two are Woodhill, in Milton Keynes, which is expected to open in September, and Full Sutton, in Yorkshire.

Ian Acheson, who conducted the UK government's review into prison extremism, said separating "subversive hate preachers from their audience is a necessary step to prevent the spread of Islamist extremism".

But he added: "The possibility of hope and change is important, not just as a moral abstraction but because it will keep staff and prisoners safer."

Full report at:

http://www.news18.com/news/world/uk-islamist-hate-preacher-anjem-choudary-jailed-in-new-isolation-unit-1470219.html

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A ban on Muslim cemeteries is an attack on us all

PETER STOCKLAND

Jul. 23, 2017

It would be easiest and most gratifying to call residents of Saint-Apollinaire, Que., nasty, anti-Islamic bigots for saying non to having a Muslim cemetery in town.

It might, for a handful of the tiny fraction of villagers who voted in last Sunday’s referendum on the matter, be true.

But such name-calling and virtue signalling would not only miss the point, it would shamefully miss the opportunity to examine the deeper truths that this single-incident ugliness brings to the surface. Among the most crucial of those truths is one offered by a leader of the campaign to deny Muslims their own burial ground.

Cemeteries, local resident Sunny Létourneau said as she went door-to-door collecting signatures to force the public vote, are a reflection of society as a whole. Ms. Létourneau insisted neither she nor others opposed to the new cemetery were motivated by anti-Muslim animus.

They oppose separate Catholic cemeteries, too. They are against burial on the basis of any faith tradition, period. They want to stretch egalitarianism beyond the grave so that we are equally dead together. By extension, they deny the very existence of sacred earth. Whatever is hallowed by some must be hollowed of its particular holiness until it holds the same degree of emptiness for everyone.

Alarming as such thinking might seem, Ms. Létourneau’s explanation is more refreshingly candid than the freezer-burned disclaimer of Premier Philippe Couillard, who insisted it doesn’t reflect Quebec society as a whole. True, the anti-cemetery bloc won by a minuscule three-vote margin. The “victory” was based on a ludicrously low 36 ballots being cast in a hamlet of 6,400 citizens. It is also true Quebec’s political class, from local Mayor Bernard Ouellet to Mr. Couillard himself, was stung by the bumpkin embarrassment and have vowed to find a suitable workaround.

But the view articulated by Ms. Létourneau is hardly confined to one bucolic ’burb on Quebec City’s south shore. It is as much a fact of life in Montreal’s dense urban borough of Outremont. Just as voters used democracy to disallow a Muslim cemetery in pastoral Saint-Apollinaire, so Outremont’s urban trendies rallied to pass a zoning bylaw that outlawed building new places of worship; for example, synagogues and mosques.

As Montreal-based writer Gideon Strauss wrote, those who carried the day in Outremont used the same tactics, to further the same argument, as their Saint-Apollinaire compatriots. They used the machinery of municipal government to overturn the essence of religious freedom, all while insisting that they had nothing against any specific religion. They just want to keep all society safely insulated from any form of religious faith.

In that desire lies a crucial truth that affects all Canadians. It is the truth of our forgetting that religious freedom is about religion, yes, but it is first, last and always about freedom. As my colleague Andrew Bennett, Canada’s first and last ambassador for religious freedom, puts it so eloquently: the freedoms of religion and conscience are and must be the first freedoms to which all others are bound.

Why? Because if you are not free to believe, and that necessarily contains the freedom to share your personal and communal sense of the sacred in a respectful way, then you are not free at all. At best, you are licensed to act. You are granted permission to behave. You are allowed, whether by the state or by the limits at which your fellow citizens will inflict blunt-force democratic trauma, to be what others say you can be. You will be buried under the weight of Ms. Létourneau’s ideal of cemetery egalitarianism.

Full report at:

https://www.theglobeandmail.com/opinion/a-ban-on-muslim-cemeteries-is-an-attack-on-us-all/article35776652/

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British protesters hold anti-Israel rallies in London

Jul 23, 2017

Hundreds of British people have held a protest in front of the Israeli embassy in London amid rising tensions over Israel’s imposition of restrictive measures at the al-Aqsa Mosque compound in the occupied East Jerusalem al-Quds.

The demonstration on Saturday was organized by the Palestinian Forum in Britain, who said they sought to attract attention to Israel’s aggression in Jerusalem.

Some of the protesters were holding placards which read “Save Al-Aqsa” and “Free Palestine,” while some others were shouting anti-Israeli slogans like “Israel is a terror state”, and “Hands-off Al-Aqsa.” They also burned Israeli flags.

Tensions erupted in the occupied territories on July 14, when a fatal shooting happened outside the Haram al-Sharif which Jews call Temple Mount.

Following the incident, Israeli police briefly shut down the al-Aqsa compound and canceled Muslim Friday prayers at the holy site.

However, the compound was reopened on July 16, but with metal detectors and surveillance cameras put up at entrances.

Meanwhile, protesters also gathered to condemn Israel's actions in Northern Ireland's Londonderry city.

Over the past few days, 390 Palestinians have been injured and almost 100 hospitalized after being wounded by Israeli live fire or rubber bullet, according to the Red Crescent,

Also, three Palestinians have been killed in street clashes with Israeli forces in Jerusalem al-Quds and three Israelis in an alleged stabbing attack at a West Bank settlement.

On Saturday, Israeli police used stun grenades and water cannons to disperse dozens of stone-throwing Palestinians.

Similar protests have been held in Jordan, Turkey and Malaysia.

Full report at:

http://www.presstv.ir/Detail/2017/07/23/529407/UK-Israel-Jerusalem-alQuds

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Africa

 

Muslim scholars condemn Joey Rasdien's 'sacrilegious satire'

23 JULY 2017

Cape Town - Muslim scholars have condemned 'in the strongest terms' the comments made by Joey Rasdien during his slot at the the Ilm Arts Festival at the Sandton Convention Centre on Saturday.

This comes after Rasdien came under fire for making controversial comments about the companion to the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH).

He apologised for his comments afterwards wherein he expressed its intention to be satirical.

"Any Muslim would take deep offence and would be incensed if Nabi Sallallahu alayhi wasallam or any of the Sahabah or teachings of Deen were to be ridiculed," they said in a statement.

Ml Ebrahim Bham, Ml Sulaimaan Ravat, Ml Junaid Kharsany and Ml Zahir Mahmood have in their statement described the comments as 'outrageous, despicable and deplorable'.

They further stated that they do no condone nor allow such "travesty to the honour and dignity of what is sacrosant to our faith."

The signatories had left the venue before the 'unfortunate' incident and therefore were not present at the time of his comments.

They have appealed to Rasdien to make an unconditional apology and deemed the apology behind the cover of satire as unacceptable.

"We would like to bring to the notice of Joey Rasdien and all Muslim comedians that humour that lampoons, caricatures and satirises the Divine, religious symbols and all that is sacred, should be avoided at all costs."

http://www.iol.co.za/news/south-africa/muslim-scholars-condemn-joey-rasdiens-sacrilegious-satire-10427805

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2 killed, 1 wounded in shooting at Israeli embassy in Jordan

Jul 24, 2017

AMMAN: Two Jordanians were killed and an Israeli was wounded by gunfire Sunday in a residential building in the heavily fortified Israeli embassy compound in Jordan's capital, the kingdom's Public Security Directorate said.

Before the shooting, Jordanians had entered the apartment building for carpentry work, the statement said.

It did not say what triggered the shooting.

Three people were initially wounded in the incident, the security agency said. Two Jordanians later died, according to the agency and the news site Hala Akhbar, linked to the Jordanian military.

One of the Jordanians killed was a physician at the scene, the security agency said.

The Israeli was in "unstable" condition, the new site said.

The Israeli Foreign Ministry had no comment.

The incident comes at a time of mounting tensions between Israel and the Muslim world over metal detectors Israel installed at a Jerusalem shrine revered by Muslims and Jews.

Full report at:

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/middle-east/2-killed-1-wounded-in-shooting-at-israeli-embassy-in-jordan/articleshow/59730426.cms

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Mali confirms arrest of key jihadist near Timbuktu

July 24, 2017

BAMAKO - Malian and French troops have arrested a close associate of a preacher whose jihadist group has claimed dozens of attacks against Western and Malian targets, Mali's security minister said on Sunday.

Macina Liberation Front, based in central Mali's Mopti region, is led by cleric Amadou Koufa who has called upon followers to take up arms and rebuild the historic Fulani empire of Massina. "I confirm that the terrorist Alhousseyni Ag Assaleh, in charge of logistics for...the group run by Amadou Koufa was arrested on 8 July during a joint operation with Barkhane in the Timbuktu region," General Salif Traoré told Reuters.  He said the arrest was kept secret until now because of ongoing efforts to capture others in his network. There was no immediate comment from France's 4,000-strong Barkhane counter-terrorism force operating in the Sahel. Barkhane is collaborating with regional troops in five West African countries to form a new force to fight desert militants who have regrouped since the French army drove them out of their urban strongholds in northern Mali in 2013.

Full report at:

http://nation.com.pk/international/24-Jul-2017/mali-confirms-arrest-of-key-jihadist-near-timbuktu

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UN Says Moroccan Peacekeeper Killed In Central Africa

July 24, 2017

BANGUI, CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC:  An ambush killed a Moroccan peacekeeper and wounded three others on Sunday in the Central African Republic, the United Nations said, blaming pro-Christian militias for the violence.

"A MINUSCA (peacekeeping mission) military convoy was targeted by anti-Balaka," it said of the clash in the southern city of Bangassou.

The country is struggling to emerge from a civil war that erupted in 2013 following the overthrow of former president Francois Bozize, a Christian, by Muslim rebels from the Seleka coalition.

The coup led to the formation of "anti-Balaka" (anti-machete) vigilante units, drawn from the Christian majority, which began to target Muslims. Both sides committed widespread atrocities.

"The attack took place while the Moroccan peacekeepers were escorting water tankers to the river to help resupply the village," the MINUSCA force said Sunday, condemning the assault and sending "condolences to the family, the people and the government of Morocco".

Earlier on Sunday, the UN condemned an "attack by anti-Balaka near a cathedral where a number of displaced people are living". Two children were seriously wounded, it said.

On Friday, a patrol of peacekeepers was shot and one of the attackers killed, Herve Verhoosel, spokesman for MINUSCA, told AFP on Saturday, blaming pro-Christian militias once again.

On the same day, a Muslim woman was kidnapped by what is believed to be an anti-Balaka unit and six Christians were held by Muslims. All were released on Saturday following negotiations.

Six peacekeepers were killed in May in the city and surrounding region, which lies around 470 kilometres (300 miles) from Bangui on the border with the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Militias are still flourishing given the weakness of the state.

Former colonial power France intervened in 2013 to stop violent Christian-Muslim clashes and formally ended its peacekeeping mission only last month, hailing it a success despite fresh outbreaks of violence.

Full report at:

http://www.ndtv.com/world-news/un-says-moroccan-peacekeeper-killed-in-central-africa-1728329

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North America

 

Radio station cancels Richard Dawkins appearance over Islam tweets

July 24, 2017

A US radio station invited Richard Dawkins to speak about his latest book, and then cancelled the ticketed event over his tweets about Islam.

The evolutionary biologist was due to discuss Science in the Soul: Collected Writings of a Passionate Rationalist at a benefit event for KPFA, a listener-funded station in Berkeley, California.

Tickets were snapped up ahead of the anti-theist’s planned talk on 9 August – but KPFA cancelled the event on Thursday, claiming it had recently discovered that his comments about Islam had upset people.

“We had booked this event based entirely on his excellent new book on science when we didn’t know he had offended and hurt – in his tweets and other comments on Islam – so many people,” KPFA told ticket buyers in an email.

“While KPFA emphatically supports serious free speech, we do not support abusive speech. We apologise for not having had broader knowledge of Dawkins’s views much earlier.”

Mr Dawkins, an avowed atheist who has criticised religion publicly for decades, has previously appeared at KPFA benefit events as recently as October 2015.

The Kenyan-born ethologist said he was “astonished” to be no-platformed by a station broadcasting in the birthplace of the Free Speech Movement, a student protest that took place at the University of California, Berkeley (UCB) in 1965.

He published an open letter in response to the cancellation, which stated: “The idea that I have engaged in abusive speech against Islam is preposterous, which even the most rudimentary fact-checking by KPFA would have made clear.

“I have indeed strongly condemned the misogyny, homophobia, and violence of Islamism, of which Muslims — particularly Muslim women — are the prime victims. I make no apologies for denouncing those oppressive cruelties, and I will continue to do so.”

Mr Dawkins often takes aim at religion on Twitter, and has called God “the most unpleasant character in all fiction”.

He has been branded “Islamophobic” by those who have taken offence to his remarks about the world’s second largest religion, which he has called the “greatest force for evil today”.

But he insists that his opinions about religious texts and “ridiculous pseudoscientific claims made by Islamic apologists” are not driven by bigotry towards Muslim people.

He told KPFA: “Far from attacking Muslims, I understand – as perhaps you do not – that Muslims themselves are the prime victims of the oppressive cruelties of Islamism, especially Muslim women.”

Full report at:

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/richard-dawkins-islam-muslims-islamophobic-row-twitter-tweets-atheist-kpfa-us-university-of-a7854751.html

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Frustrated at White House, Tillerson looks for an exit: Sources

Jul 24, 2017

The United States’ Secretary of State Rex Tillerson may be considering parting ways with the White House amid widening differences with President Donald Trump on a number of subjects, including on Iran, US sources say.

The CNN reported on Monday that Tillerson faced “a growing list of differences with the White House, including a new debate over Iran policy and personnel.”

A former CEO at the oil and gas giant ExxonMobil, Tillerson was appointed secretary of state after Trump secured an upset victory in the US presidential election in November last year. As America’s top diplomat, Tillerson would have been expected to play a considerable role in policy-making and have the president’s ear on foreign policy in particular.

Frustration at boiling point?

But since assuming office in January this year, Tillerson has seen room shrinking for him in the president’s inner circle. On a number of major issues, he has either been sidelined, overruled, rebuked, or ignored altogether.

However, he had been hoping that the status quo would change for the better.

Until now, that is.

Two sources “familiar with Tillerson[’s] conversations with friends outside Washington” told CNN that the US secretary of state was growing increasingly frustrated and was losing hope that a shift in the presidential mood was in order.

While he had previously signaled determination to stay at the job for at least one year amid the differences, the sources said “they would not be surprised if there was a ‘Rexit’ from Foggy Bottom sooner that [sic] that.”

Tillerson’s differences with the White House first emerged when the administration proposed to drastically slash State Department funding in May. In a leaked internal State Department memo, Tillerson said he was “deeply concerned about the timing and the size of the reductions.” He did not get his way, and ultimately offered a public defense of the cuts, a sign that he was unwilling to let the matter turn into an open dispute.

According to the CNN, Tillerson was also opposed to Trump’s recent public reprimand of Attorney General Jeff Sessions over the latter’s recusal from an investigation of White House links with Russia.

Most recently, Tillerson was said to have been rebuked by Trump because the secretary of state had failed to provide the US president with “options” other than certifying Iranian compliance with a 2015 multilateral nuclear deal, to which the US is a party.

Trump has reportedly assigned a team of White House confidantes to look for ways to avoid a recertification in the future, sidelining the State Department.

Full report at:

http://www.presstv.ir/Detail/2017/07/24/529487/US-Rex-Tillerson-Trump-differences-Iran-policy-personnel-Rexit

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What drives Canadian youth to adopt jihad?

AHMED SAHI

JULY 23, 2017

Who could have ever imagined a time in Canada when the “boy next door” could become a radicalized extremist who’s headed abroad for jihad?

According to CSIS, more than 120 Canadians have now gone overseas to join various terror groups. Just last week, two Canadians were among 20 women and girls recently captured by Iraqi forces hunting for ISIS militants in Mosul — once again highlighting the strong allure possessed by ISIS, and the phenomenon of youth radicalization.

So what exactly makes these young Canadians leave their way of life for war in a strange land? For a cause so contrary to the faith they aspire to?

What made Aaron Driver abandon his Canadian upbringing for militant extremism? What about Damian Clairmont? Or Martin Couture-Rouleau?

Often, it starts with a feeling of discontentment — an inner happiness that is missing — which leads to a search for something more in life.

Then, like millions, they turn to religion — just not the one most would expect — finding peace in the emphasis on prayer that Islam offers them. That’s when they become susceptible to being misguided by manipulative recruiters, who distort concepts like jihad to appeal to the psyche of these impressionable youth — playing on feelings of brotherhood and vigilante justice.

Ideological recruiters understand that these impressionable youth are, at their core, good at heart, and that after Islam’s good qualities have attracted them initially, they are sometimes ready to accept whatever other nefarious notions are packaged along with the good.

And that’s where the danger lies — those who have great potential for good, also have great potential for bad. C.S. Lewis once said: “It is great men, potential saints, not little men, who become merciless fanatics. Those who are readiest to die for a cause may easily become those who are readiest to kill for it.”

It seems strange, but often people who fall victim to radicalization, are good people who were just vulnerable and manipulated by others. Several young Canadians who’ve been radicalized, have been described by those close to them, as being good-natured during their younger years growing up and throughout school.

In today’s multi-faith society, we know not to paint Islam with broad-strokes as a movement of evil. In reality, Islam has many qualities that endear it to people looking for God and spirituality. Just like every other major religion. That’s why countless people enter these faiths every year — for spiritual enhancement.

But if these malleable young Muslims knew what a false picture of “jihad” these radicals portray, we could nip radicalization in the bud. Muslims in the West must really make it known within their communities, especially among the youth, that what these radicals teach is not jihad.

Not as the Qur’an teaches it; not as the Prophet lived it.

In reality, jihad is suppose to be a spiritual struggle within oneself on the journey toward spiritual enlightenment. Jihad is prayer; it’s sacrificing to help mankind; it’s making the moral choices. This is the jihad we need these young Muslims to understand. This is what will cut at the root of ISIS’ appeal. Jihad is not about guns and bullets. It’s about reformation and spiritual growth.

As the Prophet himself once said: “The greater of those who carry out jihad is he who strives against himself most.” Which Muslim youth are carrying out this jihad?

Full report at:

http://www.torontosun.com/2017/07/23/what-drives-canadian-youth-to-adopt-jihad

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Influential US magazine Newsweek corrects impression that not all but merely Muslims were terrorists

Salahuddin Haider

July 24, 2017

The influential US magazine ‘Newsweek’ has corrected the impression that mostly Muslim were terrorists, writing in its report that extremists were responsible for incidents in America, but to generalise it with Muslims as a class will be folly. The Report makes interesting reading. It says that ‘

US President Donald Trump was elected vowing to get tough on ‘radical Islamic terrorism.’ He has tried to implement a travel ban barring people from six Muslim-majority nations from entering the U.S. and has tweeted frequently about Islamist terrorist attacks around the world. On Thursday, a new report claimed the president has his facts muddled. A joint project by the Investigative Fund at the Nation Institute, a nonprofit media center, and Reveal from the Center for Investigative Reporting has found that within the past nine years, right-wing extremists plotted or carried out nearly twice as many terrorist attacks as Islamist extremists. Of the 115 right-wing incidents, police only foiled 35 percent. Compare this to the 63 Islamist terrorism cases, where police foiled 76 percent of the planned attacks.

Right-wing extremists were not only more successful, they were often more deadly, too. From 2008 to 2016, a third of right-wing attacks involved fatalities, compared to 13 percent of Islamist attacks. It should be noted, however, that Islamist extremists killed more people overall, with a death toll of 90 people compared to 79. In a statement pointing out the higher rate of successful, right-wing terrorist attacks, the Investigative Fund said: ‘This project quantifies just how irrational Trump and the GOP’s fixation on ‘radical Islamic terrorism’ as the greatest security threat is.’

‘Fixation’ might be the right word. The president has yet to acknowledge the problem of right-wing violence, remaining uncharacteristically silent after an Islamophobic attack on a mosque in London that left one man dead. (Trump tweeted about the three incidents of Islamist terrorism that have hit the U.K. capital in recent months.) Part of the problem, the Investigative Fund and Reveal suggest, are the people that Trump has advising him. Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, the president’s former national security adviser, had said that ‘fear of Muslims is rational,’ and that he doesn’t ‘see Islam as a religion.’ Trump advisor Steve Bannon has referred to Islam as a ‘religion of submission,’ and is believed to have been a strong advocate for the ban on certain nationalities entering the U.S. (As the former head of Breitbart News, Bannon boasted that the organization was ‘the platform for the alt-right.’)

The new administration, says Reveal and the Investigative Fund, is therefore unlikely to change the culture whereby federal authorities disproportionately focus on potential Islamist extremists. Of the incidents’ the two organizations registered, federal authorities handled 91 percent of the Islamist ones and just 60 percent of the right-wing ones

Full report at:

https://pakobserver.net/influential-us-magazine-newsweek-corrects-impression-not-merely-muslims-terrorists/

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URL: http://www.newageislam.com/islamic-world-news/new-age-islam-news-bureau/lashkar-led-jihadist-conclave-calls-for-war-against-india/d/111944

 

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