Complied by New Age Islam News Bureau
Photo: Two Bullet riddled bodies of Baloch missing persons
LeT Raises New All-women Terror Outfit for Kashmir with 21 Girls
New Delhi, Jan 3, 2012, Pakistan-based militant outfit Laskhkar-e-Taiba has raised an exclusive women's extremist outfit and has trained 21 girls at a camp near Muzzafarabad in Pakistani Kashmir for future infiltration into Jammu and Kashmir across the Line of Control, intelligence inputs have indicated.
Intelligence sources said in Delhi on Wednesday that the LeT effort to raise an exclusive women militant outfit of its own is to have an alternative to the Kashmir-based all-women separatist outfit Dukhtaran-e-Millat (DeM) led by Asiya Andrabi.
"Inputs reveal that 21 girls are being trained by LeT at Divalia, Muzzafarabad, under the name of Dukhtaran-e-Toiba," sources said.
The group, after training, have been placed under the command of an LeT commander, Sayeed Sadaqat Hussain, for future deployment in Kashmir, the sources said.
The entire project for raising the DeT was reportedly conceptualised by the LeT leadership and these trained women militants are likely to be infiltrated into Kashmir through Uri sector or brought to Kashmir through the Nepal route, the sources said.
The intelligence assessment is th at the DeT is being propped up as a substitute to DeM.
The reason cited for having the substitute was a feeling among the terror groups that DeM was unsuccessful in mobilising local women against the Indian state in the recent past.
Meanwhile, another intelligence report has indicated that Pakistani's spy agency Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) has instructed the LeT to carry out attacks on Indian troops deployed along the Line of Control with Pakistan.
The group, sources said, have done a recce of the forward operating locations of the Indian troops opposite to Chhamb and Sunderbani sector.
The intelligence assessment, sources said, is that the LeT may resort to sniper fire or stand-off firing on Indian troops in these sectors soon.
Houston enhances its link with Arab culture
By MARIA PETRINGA,
Jan 4, 2012, The city of Houston, Texas, is widely known for its achievements in energy, space and medical technology. During the past few decades, thanks to its excellent museums, restaurants and thriving international communities, this fourth-largest US city has also made a name for itself as a cultural capital.
The discovery of oil in east Texas in 1901 brought the prosperous petroleum industry to Houston. By 1950, American oil production and technology were foremost in the world. Arabian Gulf States including Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Kuwait relied on US firms like Texaco for exploration and development of their highly profitable oil fields.
These business links have deepened and expanded over the years. Saudi Aramco, whose US headquarters is located in Houston, sends at least 50 employees a year to earn prestigious degrees in petroleum engineering and related subjects at Texas A&M University. The University of Houston offers Arabic studies, and the University of Texas at Austin has a dynamic Middle Eastern Studies Program with more than 50 scholars offering nearly 300 courses. Partnerships exist between Texas A&M and Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST), and between many American and Arab institutions.
The Museum of Fine Arts Houston (MFAH), founded in 1900, is among the top 10 most comprehensive art museums in the USA. It features 63,000 works of art from six continents, ranging from ancient to contemporary, and offers many exciting programs and presentations. Over a million visitors enjoy the museum’s collections and activities every year.
In 2007, the MFAH launched its Arts of the Islamic World initiative, with the goals of mounting exhibits and educational programs, and building a permanent collection of Islamic art, found in cultures from Iberia and Africa to the Far East. Recent acquisitions given by generous individual donors include a 1797 illustrated copy of “Tasrish-i Mansuri” (Anatomy With Illustrations), originally compiled in 1396 by Mansur Ibn Faqir Ilyas, the first medical treatise in the Islamic world to depict the anatomy of the entire human body; and a 19th-century Turkish lute made of wood, ebony, ivory and mother-of-pearl intarsia. A splendid exhibit, “Light of the Sufis: The Mystical Arts of Islam,” originally organized by the Brooklyn Museum, visited the Houston museum in 2010.
The MFAH is currently hosting “Gifts of the Sultan: The Arts of Giving at the Islamic Courts.” This groundbreaking international exhibit assembles priceless objects from 40 institutions worldwide. It was organized by the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) with support from the MFAH. The nearly 250 objects in the show date from the eighth to the 20th centuries.
“Gifts of the Sultan” is the first exhibit to view Islamic art through the lens of gift-giving, and to explore the ways gift exchange fostered the development of art styles and techniques. All of the works on display were either fabricated as gifts or were offered as gifts in the course of their history. Some pieces were modified significantly after reception, as they moved from continent to continent, revealing interesting aspects of the various cultures in which they have “lived.”
Exchanging gifts is a universal human practice, and it was of essential importance to the Ottoman, Mogul, Fatimid and other Muslim civilizations featured in this show. Gifts were presented to celebrate personal or communal events and to demonstrate religious piety. They were also exchanged to further political interests, to advertise the wealth and power of the donor and to underscore the strategic importance of the recipient. Thus, an examination of the gifts, and the circumstances in which they were given, reveals the underpinnings of societies and the major historical currents and events of their time.
“Gifts of the Sultan” is arranged along three themes: Personal, state and pious gifts. Beyond the great beauty and wide diversity of the works, the presentation, reception and eventual modification of the gifts bring the viewer closer to daily life and thought in these exotic cultures of the past. The exhibition ends with three contemporary works commissioned from prominent Muslim artists of today.
Personal gifts included gold jewelry and coins, luxurious robes and textiles and finely-crafted ivory, metal or wooden chests. They were often part of dowries, or gifts to mark special occasions. Distinguished military chiefs were rewarded with costly arms and armor. Lavishly illustrated manuscripts and personal portraits were presented to honor the learning or high rank of the recipient.
An example of a personal gift on view in the exhibit is a pair of elegant gold bracelets made in Syria or Egypt in the 11th Century, on loan from the Museum of Islamic Art in Doha, Qatar. Decorated with wire, granulation, and repoussé, these bracelets would seem thoroughly fashionable today. Besides their beauty as a personal adornment, their high value clearly announced the wealth and social status of the wearer.
Political and diplomatic objectives have motivated state gifts since ancient times, as they continue to do today. Rulers spared no expense to make a lasting impression, both in the choice of gifts offered, and in the formal, respectful way they were presented. These gifts were meant to instill respect for the wealth and power of the giver, and flatter the receiver whose loyalty, friendship, or services were desired.
A gilded 1633 folio from India, “Shah Jahan receives the Persian Ambassador Muhammad ‘Ali Beg,” shows the lavish atmosphere in which the Mogul ruler received an important emissary from Persia. This work is a page from the “Padshahnama” (Chronicle of the Emperor), an official visual history prepared for Shah Jahan. The haloed Shah is seated in the center, facing his visitor at the left of the scene. They are surrounded by elegant dignitaries, soldiers and horses, all standing at attention. Pages bearing food and gifts circulate along the lower register of the work. The pomp and formality of the meeting, conveyed by the gilding and bright colors, highlight the importance of the event. This work is lent for the exhibit by the Royal Collection at Windsor.
Generosity is one of the marks of the true believer, according to the Islamic tradition and generosity belongs to the dwellers of paradise. This esteemed quality inspired gifts given as pious acts to mosques, schools, hospices, and burial sites, usually through a local charitable trust known as a “Waqf.” These religious gifts ranged from a simple “kashkul,” or begging bowl, to a lavish carpet intended for a holy shrine, or a silver-gilt “sitara,” a silken drape for the door of the Kaaba in Makkah.
One of the many fascinating religious articles on display in “Gifts of the Sultan” is the spectacular “Ardabil Carpet,” made in Tabriz, Iran, in 1539 and bearing the signature of Maqsud Kashani. It was one of a matched pair of royal carpets commissioned by Shah Tahmasp for presentation to his ancestral shrine at Ardabil in northwestern Iran. Inscribed above the date and signature is a Persian couplet by the renowned poet Hafez Shirazi: “I have no refuge in this world other than thy threshold / My head has no resting place other than this doorway.” The “Ardabil Carpet” is now a part of LACMA’s permanent collection.
My favorite work on display combines elements of personal, state, and pious gifts, and illustrates perfectly the idea that gift-giving itself can influence art. It is a 16th-century gilded glass Mosque Lamp from Venice. The gold design looks thoroughly Italian, while the characteristic shape of the lamp follows the Islamic model of a tapered foot, a globular vase and a flaring neck. In the 1500s, Venice was the capital of a great trading empire, and the city became Europe’s most important link to the Muslim world through its sustained diplomatic efforts. Known for its glass, Venice sent gilded mosque lamps like this one to the Ottoman vizier, to insure favor at the Turkish court. If not for the interplay of Venice’s desire to obtain the favor of a foreign trading partner, and the Ottoman vizier’s desire to adorn a public place of worship, this exquisite work would never have been created. The lamp is on loan from the Topkapi Saray Museum in Istanbul.
“Gifts of the Sultan” concludes by bringing the gift-giving experience into the present day. Three contemporary Muslim artists were commissioned to interpret the theme of the exhibit in a new work.
Sadegh Tirafkan, an Iranian born in Iraq in 1965, offers a multimedia view of Iranian cultural traditions. His sculpture “Always in Our Thoughts” is informed by memory and loss. As in “hijlah,” temporary shrines built in Iran to honor the dead, his loved ones are remembered through images, candles and thin strips of cloth, which visitors to Muslim shrines place near the tomb in homage.
Shahzia Sikander, an American born in Pakistan in 1969, presents a composition that resembles an open book adorned by a Persian miniature painting, but one in which the text and paintings overlap. “Untitled” quotes verses by an Urdu poet, in a work that reflects the different cultures in which Sikander has lived.
Ahmed Mater, a Saudi artist born in 1979, is also a practicing physician. The title of his “Illumination Diptych (Ottoman Waqf)” is reminiscent of illuminated manuscripts endowed to religious charities. But this diptych consists of two X-ray images of human torsos facing each other, both surrounded by a gold calligraphic border and placed on an antique-looking manuscript page.
These modern works remind the viewer that gift-giving is above all a timeless symbol of human interaction, and that every gift is a meeting point not only of a giver and a receiver, but also of past histories and hopes for the future.
“Gifts of the Sultan: The Arts of Giving at the Islamic Courts” continues at the Museum of Fine Arts Houston until Jan. 16, 2012.
India: A Muslim Brother kills sister for 'honour' in UP
MEERUT: Jan 4, 2012, In yet another case of honour killing, a brother allegedly shot dead his sister here for eloping with her lover.
Kausar (21), daughter of Haroon, was in love with a youth in Haara village in the district here. She ran away with the youth on January two, but returned the next day under family pressure.
Kausar was shot dead last night by her brother Shaukeen, DIG Prem Prakash said.
The body has been sent for post-mortem and a search is on to arrest the absconding brother and other family members, he said. A case of murder has also been registered, he added.
Earlier, on January one, a couple Sarita and Devendra were shot at by the girl's family members in Maithana village.
The boy died on the spot, while the girl was admitted to a hospital in a critical condition.
Two Bullet riddled bodies of Baloch missing persons found
Balochistan: Pakistan continues its secret dirty war in Balochistan unabated and with International immunity as mutilated bodies of two Baloch missing persons were found from Lasbella and Machh area of Balochistan here on Wednesday.
Lasbella: According to the Naib Tehsildar Ilhai Baksh, some passers-by spotted the body and informed the local administration. They rushed to the spot and the body was shifted to the District Headquarters Hospital, Uthal for post-mortem. The body was identified as 30 years old, Sikandar Ali Bugti s/o Kamalan Bugti resident of Vindar area of Lasbela. “The body was brutally tortured before the victim was killed. He received three bullets, two in his head and one in his chest.” The body was handed over to the victim’s relatives, after legal formalities.
MACH: The second bullet riddled was body found near Mach town of Balochistan. Sourced reported that the Levies force found body of an unknown person from Bibi Nani area of Mach, and shifted it to the local hospital, where he was identified as Abdul Qadir s/o Noor Mohammad, a resident of Aab-e-Gum area of Mach. The victim was shot in the chest, causing instant death,” doctors at the hospital said. Later, the body was handed over to the victim’s relatives, after legal formalities.
Meanwhile talking to NNI via telephone, Qadeer Baloch, the vice president of Voice for Baloch Missing Persons (VBMP) condemned the brutal murder of Sikandar Bugti adding that the “deceased was abducted two years back from Windar area and was listed missing since then.”
He strongly condemned the Pakistani agencies for abducting Baloch youth and throwing their decomposed bodies. Qadeer Baloch said that coordinators of his Organisation were present in every district of Balochistan, and collecting the data of abducted Baloch youths. He further said that Over 14,000 people are missing throughout in Balochistan, including 150 women and 169 innocent children. The secret agencies have kept them in their torture cells, and now they are killing and throwing their bodies on daily basis.
He appealed humanitarian organizations to take immediate notice of forced disappearances and the dump and kill policy of Pakistani security agencies in Balochistan.
Militant groups in Pakistan form united front
By Karin Brulliard and Haq Nawaz Khan,
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan, January 3, 2012 — At the urging of the Afghan Taliban, four major Pakistani insurgent factions have joined the Afghan guerrilla group known as the Haqqani network in a council aimed at resolving infighting and ending militant violence against civilians in Pakistan.
The council’s formation was announced in a leaflet distributed in recent days in North Waziristan, a remote Pakistani tribal area that is the base of the Haqqani network, a cross-border group that NATO forces in next-door Afghanistan call their most lethal foe. In the pamphlet, the Shura-i-Muraqba said it had formed in consultation with the Afghan Taliban and called on “all holy warriors” to avoid criminal activities or face punishment under Islamic law.
The two countries are allies but their relationship has been plagued by mistrust over the last 50 years.
The new coalition could indicate a unified effort to strike harder against U.S.-led troops as they begin their withdrawal from Afghanistan, or it could signal a recognition that splintering has weakened the insurgency inside Pakistan, where the incidence of terrorist attacks fell 7 percent in the past year, according to data released Tuesday.
Those divisions remained on display even as participants in the council confirmed the agreement. In a telephone interview, a member of the militant group led by Maulvi Nazir said the factions had agreed to direct all their attacks against coalition forces in Afghanistan. But Ensaullah Ehsan, a spokesman for the Pakistani Taliban, said his wing had made no such pledge.
The Pakistani Taliban, an umbrella group, has become the primary face of the bloody rebellion against the Pakistani state. It denounces Pakistan’s alliance with the United States and says its goal is to overthrow the government and establish a caliphate, or Islamic state. That differentiates it from other militant groups in the new council — including the Haqqani network and blocs led by Nazir and Hafiz Gul Bahadur — that already target NATO troops and have tacit peace agreements with the Pakistani state.
Al-Qaeda, which some news reports said was also involved in brokering the Shura-i-Muraqba, and the Haqqani network have long sought to unify Pakistani militants. One past such effort, in 2007, resulted in the formation of the Pakistani Taliban, but the group has since been fractured by leadership spats, military offensives and U.S. drone strikes.
The member of the group commanded by Nazir, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said the council recognized that killings and kidnappings of civilians had “brought a bad name to our struggle,” further weakening the groups’ public standing.
Security analysts said they doubted that the new union would have much impact, in large part because it does not include various militant factions that attack inside Pakistan.
But the suggestion that the council would shift its focus to Afghanistan, while unconfirmed, could indicate militants’ approval of Pakistan’s hard stance against the United States following a NATO airstrike that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers in November, said Ashraf Ali of the FATA Research Center, which studies Pakistan’s tribal areas.
“That has been bringing all these militants to have a softened stance against Pakistan,” Ali said.
According to an annual report released Tuesday by the Pak Institute for Peace Studies, the number of terrorist attacks in Pakistan dropped 7 percent and caused 18 percent fewer deaths in 2011. Suicide bombings fell 34 percent, the report said.
Military offensives that have shrunk insurgent space, CIA drone strikes that have killed key commanders and the possibility of peace talks with the Pakistani government have all contributed to the decline, said Muhammad Amir Rana, the institute’s director.
“During the last two years, they have suffered a lot,” Rana said of Pakistani insurgents. “But that doesn’t mean that these groups have been dismantled. .?.?. They can pose a threat even in the future.”
Malaysia: Man charged with ill-treating children in 'chaining' case
BUTTERWORTH: Jan 04, 2012, The father of two children, who were found chained in the bathroom of their house, has claimed trial to separate charges of ill-treating them.
The 44-year-old chemical supplier pleaded not guilty to exposing his six-year-old daughter and two-year-old son to physical and emotional hurt by chaining their legs with iron chains and confining them.
He is accused of committing the offences at their house in Taman Dahlia here between 3pm and 8pm on Dec 28 last year.
The accused was charged in the magistrate's court here Wednesday.
He was charged under Section 31(1)(a) of the Child Act 2001 which carries a maximum jail term of 10 years and a fine not exceeding RM20,000.
Deputy public prosecutor Masnuraznim Abdul Malik proposed bail of RM10,000. The accused, who was unrepresented, asked for a lower bail.
Magistrate Mohd Zamir Suhaimee set bail at RM9,000 in one surety and fixed Feb 3 for mention.
The accused was sent to prison after he failed to post bail.
It was reported that the siblings were found shackled in the bathroom of their home on Dec 28 while their father was at work.
Neighbours who heard the children's cries called a volunteer patrol team, who then alerted the police and Welfare Department.
A neighbour had said the man had been under much stress after his Thai wife left home about a month ago.
Indonesia: Flip-flops used to protest beating of teen
By Niniek Karmini -Associated Press
AKARTA, Indonesia, Jan 3, 2012 — Indonesians have found a new symbol for their growing frustration at uneven justice in their young, democratic nation: cheap, worn-out flip-flops.
They have been dropping them off at police stations all over the sprawling archipelago to express outrage over the arrest and trial of a 15-year-old boy for lifting an old pair of white sandals from outside a boarding house used by police in northern Indonesia.
“This is insane,” said Titis Anissa, a high school teacher in the capital, Jakarta, noting that government officials found guilty of plundering state coffers get off with a slap on the wrist. “And a young, poor boy takes a pair of $3 sandals? Enough already.”
The boy snatched the shoes while he and several friends headed home from school in Palu, the capital of Central Sulawesi province, in November 2010.
He later was interrogated and badly beaten by three officers, and faces up to five years in prison if found guilty - the same sentence given to many terrorists, drug pushers and rapists.
He is to appear Wednesday before the court in Palu for the second hearing of his trial, which opened last month.
Indonesia has made tremendous strides since the ouster of longtime dictator Suharto just more than a decade ago, implementing sweeping reforms that have freed up the media, scrapped oppressive laws and given citizens the right to pick their leaders directly for the first time.
But the judicial system remains a weak point. The flip-flop case has captured headlines since the trial began and is one of the most popular trends on social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter.
Thousands have joined the sandal donation protest.
A batch of 1,000 flip-flops will be given to Sgt. Ahmad Rusdi Harahap, owner of the stolen shoes, as “compensation,” said campaign organizer Budhi Kurniawan.
The boy, not identified by name because of his age, said he found the dirty old flip-flops near a garbage bin outside the boarding house.
Six months later, he was summoned by Sgt. Harahap, who accused him of theft.
“At first, I didn’t understand what he was talking about,” he told the Associated Press. “I’d forgotten all about those sandals.”
“He called a few of his colleagues and they started beating me up, hitting me with a piece of wood,” he said. “I fell into a steep trench. My legs were bleeding.”
The boy said the officers made him promise to give each a new pair of sandals, but his father, after seeing the cuts and bruises on his son’s body, reported the men to their superiors.
Palestinian threats stop concert by Israeli-Arab
By Aron Heller -Associated Press
JERUSALEM, January 3, 2012 — A popular Israeli-Arab singer had to cancel a show on New Year's Eve in the West Bank because of threats from Palestinian activists opposed to coexistence with Israel, the performer and police said.
It was the latest in a string of cancellations after threats and other pressure tactics by Palestinian groups promoting a boycott of virtually anything connected with Israel. The boycott movement says its tactics are nonviolent ways to protest Israeli policies. Israeli officials denounce the efforts as “delegitimization” of Israel’s right to exist.
Sharif, who uses only one name, said he was expecting to perform before thousands of Palestinian fans at a New Year's Eve concert in Ramallah, the West Bank administrative capital, but he was told a day earlier that his concert would be canceled because of a threat to his life.
“I’m an artist, and I want to sing before all audiences,” said Sharif, a member of Israel’s Arab Druse minority who sees himself as a bridge between the two sides. “I’m a man of peace, not politics. I just want to bring my music to my fans.”
Palestinian activists campaigned against his concert because he has performed before Israeli soldiers.
Palestinian police said the cancellation of the show was based purely on security concerns. They said that once they became aware of the opposition, which was organized in a Facebook campaign, they ordered the concert canceled.
“When we see people bracing to bar a controversial party like this, we interfere to prevent any tension or violence,” said Adnan Damari, a police spokesman.
Sharif said he separates his performances from politics and that he has played before in the West Bank and Gaza and dreams of performing in Syria and Lebanon.
“I’m surprised that this was done against me - I belong to both sides,” said Sharif, 32, who performed last year in the West Bank. “I’ve got to get back there, and I hope it happens soon.” The Druse sect is part of the larger Israeli-Arab minority.
It wasn’t the only controversy in Ramallah on New Year's Eve.
Palestinian singer Basel Zayed was prevented from completing his concert after he performed a song that mocked the Palestinian leadership. Under pressure from Palestinian police, organizers shut down the event.
The New Year’s incidents follow two other events in which Israeli-Palestinian dialogue meetings were thwarted because of Palestinian pressure. The activists behind the move oppose any “normalization” between Palestinians and Israelis as long as peace talks between the sides are deadlocked. Negotiators sat down in Jordan on Tuesday for their first meeting in 15 months.
“The movement in Jerusalem will always demonstrate against any joint meeting as long as the peace process is stalling,” said Hatem Abdel Qader, an adviser to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Jerusalem affairs.
Palestinian government spokesman Ghassan Khatib said the meetings were local initiatives - his government was not involved and did not oppose them. Even so, among the Palestinians who objected to the Israeli-Palestinian meeting were senior members of Mr. Abbas’ Fatah movement.
Palestinian activists have long called for boycotts of Israel and hoped such pressure would achieve what years of negotiations and violent uprisings have not: End Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem and bring about the creation of a Palestinian state.
Bangladesh: Journalists Human chain demands ruling party MP’s punishment
Star Online Report
January 4, 2012, Journalists on Wednesday formed a human chain in the capital demanding punishment to ruling party MP Kamal Ahmed Majumder and others who assaulted some journalists at Monipur High School in Mirpur the previous day.
Protesting in front of the Jatiya Pres Club in the morning, they also demanded formation of a probe committee and proper investigation into the incident.
The Awami League lawmaker assaulted Aparna Singha, a staff reporter of Rtv, when she went to at Monipur High School and College along with cameraman Syed Haider and another reporter Shahin Parvez Tuesday morning to seek Kamal's comment on the school’s charging admission fees way beyond the government-fixed amount.
On Wednesday morning, around 200 journalists from different media outlets, including Shakhawat Hossain Badsha and Sazzad Alam Khan Tapu, president and general secretary of Dhaka Reporters Unity respectively, joined the hour-long human chain.
Condemning the attack, Abdul Jalil Bhuiyan, secretary general of Bangladesh Federal Union of Journalist (BFUJ), said such attack on newsmen is nasty interference in the mass media.
Television footage showed Kamal Majumder striking Aparna's hand and pushing her aside, saying, "Keep it [the microphone] away…keep it away."
The lawmaker was also heard calling her "stupid" and ordering some men surrounding him to "slap her".
Aparna received primary treatment at Dhaka Medical College Hospital, Rtv authorities said.
Kamal, elected from Dhaka-15 (Kafrul-Ibrahimpur), is president of the school managing committee.
Man confesses to attacking Islamic centre, Hindu temple
NEW YORK, 04 JANUARY 2012, A New York man arrested for attacking an Islamic centre and a Hindu place of worship with firebombs has confessed to his role in the incidents that caused outrage over the weekend, citing personal grudges with people at the targeted locations.
The 40-year old, whose identity has not been released yet, was arrested yesterday after the police tracked down his car that was seen at the site of the attacks through surveillance cameras as well identified by few witnesses, Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said.
Charges are pending against the man who confessed during questioning that he hurled molotov cocktails using Starbucks bottles at the five locations in Queens, including a convenience store and two other residences on New Year's day.
"The individual is implicating himself in each of the five firebombing cases, citing personal grievances with each location," police spokesman Paul Browne said.
Kelly said the man in custody had been kicked out of the convenience store on December 22 for trying to steal a glass Starbucks bottle and milk and had made threats as he was escorted out of the store.
"When they were pushing him out of the store, he said words to the effect that 'We're going to get even. We're going to get back at you,'" Kelly said, adding the man was motivated by personal grievances with people at each of the locations.
The attacks, being investigated as possible hate crimes, caused outrage among city officials and inter-faith leaders who said such incidents should not be tolerated and the guilty be brought to justice.
Full Report at:
Jailed terrorist complains of not being allowed to Skype
LONDON, 03 JANUARY 2012, In what could be regarded as the height of whining, a Bangladeshi terrorist, who plotted to blow up a passenger jet, has complained that that he is not allowed to use Skype to make low-cost phone calls from a high-security UK jail.
Rajib Karim, 32, wants to use the system, which offers cheap international calls from phones as well as free video link-ups, to contact friends and family in Bangladesh.
But officials at maximum security HMP Frankland in Durham barred the move saying it would pose a serious security risk.
“This guy planned on killing hundreds of people. He is a former British Airways software engineer who knows a lot about computers and telecommunications.
“The last thing he should be given access to is a computer or method of free communication,” The Daily Mail quoted an unnamed source as saying.
Karim was jailed for 30 years last year after being found guilty of planning a 9/11-style terror attack with former al- Qaeda warlord Anwar al-Awlaki.
The father-of-two claims using a prison payphone costs him too much money.
In a letter written to Inside Time, a newspaper for prisoners, he said: “The international call rates cost a lot using the prison PIN system and the Skype option looked like a perfect solution.
“The best part was that it was legal and no breach of prison rules as the call was made to a direct number and was not being redirected.
“But when I recently tried making my first call I was told by staff at HMP Frankland that I am not allowed to make any calls through Skype”.
The report said he “tried to explain” how other prisons in the UK reportedly allow inmates to use the service, but said: “The response was a firm ‘no’ as HMP Frankland is part of the high security estate”.
Karim’s complaint has been passed on to the National Offender Management Service (NOMS).
He was imprisoned for 30 years last year after Woolwich Crown Court heard he wanted to use his position at British Airways to plant a bomb on a plane as part of a “chilling” conspiracy with al-Awlaki, a notorious radical preacher associated with al-Qaeda.
Saudi Arabia: Renewed Protests Defy Ban
(Beirut) – Saudi reform advocates have staged several protests since mid-December, 2011, despite a categorical ban on protests issued last March, Human Rights Watch said today. In Riyadh, Buraida, and Qatif, security forces immediately arrested the protesters, who were peacefully protesting the detention without trial of hundreds of people held for long periods in intelligence prisons.
Saudi Arabia’s Interior Ministry should immediately release scores of detained and convicted peaceful advocates of reform, Human Rights Watch said.
“Saudi Arabia is not immune to the Arab Spring,” said Christoph Wilcke, senior Middle East researcher at Human Rights Watch. “The basic human right to protest peacefully is all the more important in a place like Saudi Arabia, where there are almost no other means of participating in public affairs.”
Since the Arab protest movements began in January, hundreds of Saudis have voiced specific grievances or called for political reform. The Saudi government banned all public protests on March 5, after public protests in the capital, Riyadh, and in Qatif in the Eastern Province. However, the Qatif protests have continued and Riyadh protests began again in mid-December.
On December 23, Saudi security forces arrested about 30 women and 30 men who participated in a silent protest in Riyadh, a participant told Human Rights Watch. The protesters called in particular for the release of Dr. Yusuf al-Ahmad, a controversial cleric arrested in July after he tweeted support for the relatives of long-term detainees. By December 28, all but four or five of those arrested had been released.
On December 16, more than 100 women and several dozen men demonstrated in Riyadh and in Buraida, capital of Qasim Province north of Riyadh, calling for long-term detainees to be released or brought to trial. In Riyadh, security forces arrested about 34 men and several women from al-Rajhi mosque after one man shouted “Freedom for the detainees,” a participant told Human Rights Watch. Security forces also briefly detained dozens at Buraida’s al-Rajhi mosque. Most of the women and at least 13 men arrested in Riyadh were released by December 23. Several men remain in detention, activists told Human Rights Watch.
Full Report at:
Azerbaijan: Is Opposing Islam in Baku More Dangerous than Criticizing Government?
January 3, 2012 , Azerbaijani writers and civil society activists are expressing concern about what they describe as dwindling space for public discourse on the role of Islam in Azerbaijan.
The catalyst for concern was the late November murder of Rafig Tagi, an essayist outspokenly critical of Islam and Iran. Tagi, a 61-year-old writer who had earlier served prison time for an article lambasting the Prophet Muhammad, died on November 23 from multiple knife wounds delivered by an unknown assailant in downtown Baku. In an interview with RFE/RL, given shortly before he died,Tagi blamed the attack on Iranian agents or Muslim fundamentalists outraged by two of his recent pieces.
The writer’s death has highlighted a growing division over what role Islamic beliefs should play in the country’s largely secular society. On social networks, a key forum for Azerbaijani public opinion, the full spectrum of opinion has been on display, ranging from outrage that Tagi died for expressing his views to joy that he met with “justice for insulting the prophet [Muhammad].”
At the same time, Tagi’s death seems to have had a chilling effect on advocates of religious liberty and freedom of speech. “This incident has already added to self-censorship in discussions on this issue,” said Emil Huseynov, the director of the Institute for Reporters’ Freedom and Safety. “Some people will not feel comfortable to talk about Islam. … Nevertheless, there are some people who are even more open in expressing their attitude to Islam.”
One of Azerbaijan’s most outspoken fiction writers, Ali Akbar, the author of a controversial novel about an Azerbaijani-Armenian homosexual couple, concedes that Tagi’s death already has prompted him to curb his criticism of those who espouse Islamist views. Opposing Islam is now more dangerous than opposing the government, he contended.
“I do express my views on what kind of changes I want to see in Azerbaijan, but I don’t feel free speaking about how Islam prevents Azerbaijan from making positive changes,” said Akbar, who describes himself as an atheist. “And the reason for that is not only the threat from Islamists, but also the possibility that the government of Azerbaijan will misuse these radical sentiments.”
From the destruction of allegedly illegally constructed mosques to an informal ban on wearing a hijab in state-funded schools and universities, Baku has come under increasing fire for its treatment of Azerbaijan’s growing numbers of active Muslim practitioners in what are described as further crackdowns on dissent.
In the wake of Tagi’s death, the confrontations of the past are contributing to an atmosphere that discourages any constructive dialogue about religion, moderates on both sides say.
Full Report at:
School blown up in Mohmand Agency
MOHMAND AGENCY: January 04, 2012, Unidentified terrorists blew up a government school in tehsil Safi of Mohmand Agency on Tuesday, political administration informed. According to details, the terrorists planted an explosive device inside a government primary school in Gagezai area and detonated it in the wee hours of Tuesday. The building of the school was destroyed completely, while no causality has been reported so far. Political administration has registered a case against unidentified culprits and started an investigation. app
Bahrain: Crushing Pro-Democracy Protests. American and British Police Chiefs Step Up State Repression
By Finian Cunningham
Global Research, January 2, 2012, Two former police chiefs from the US and Britain have brought discernible Western “expertise” to the Bahraini force only weeks following their appointments – a surge in repression and state terrorism.
Former Miami police chief John Timoney and his British counterpart, John Yates, formerly commander at London’s Scotland Yard, were assigned last month by Bahrain’s royal rulers to “oversee reform” of the Persian Gulf kingdom’s security forces. Officially, the appointment of the American and Briton was to bring Western professional policing to the Bahraini force and specifically to upgrade the human rights record of Bahrain’s ministry of interior and National Security Agency.
The assignments were announced by King Hamad Al Khalifa following a report by an international commission of inquiry into widespread human rights violations in the US-backed oil kingdom since pro-democracy protests erupted there last February.
As reported earlier by Global Research, the inquiry report and the subsequent appointment of the US and British police chiefs appeared to be a public relations exercise to burnish the tarnished image of this key Persian Gulf ally of Washington and London .
However, only weeks into their jobs, the Western commanders appear to have been given a remit that goes well beyond public relations, namely, to sharpen the repression against the pro-democracy movement.
Full Report at:
PaK: Two suicide bombers killed
GUJRAT: Two alleged suicide bombers blew themselves up near Gorali locality on Tuesday.
According to police, two alleged suicide bombers, identified as Ramzan Ali and Muhabbat Khan of Bhimber, Azad Kashmir, wearing suicide jackets were heading towards their target on a motorcycle.
When they heard the sound of siren of the Rescue 1122 ambulance, they blew themselves up near Gorali, thinking that police were chasing them.
The explosion created panic in the city. DPO Rana Shahid Pevaiz along with a heavy contingent of police reached the spot and took the body of the bombers into custody. app
5 killed, 26 injured in KP bomb attacks
PESHAWAR: January 04, 2012, Two separate bomb blasts in Kyhber Pakhtunkhwa on Tuesday killed five people and wounded 26 others, police said. The first bomb was planted in a motorbike at Azam Tower on Arbab Road. On detonation, it killed two people and injured 19 others, senior police officer Tahir Ayub said. Another senior police officer, Saeed Khan, confirmed the casualties. The Online news agency quoted police as saying that the blast took place in the basement of Azam Tower where two Internet cafés were located. The injured were admitted to Khyber Teaching Hospital. A second bomb hit a busy market in Landikotal, killing three people and wounding seven others, government official Ahmad Jan told AFP. One tribal policeman was among the dead and two others were injured. “The bomb also destroyed two vehicles,” Ahmad Jan said. agencies
Indian Army denies chief's 'Pakistan army chief' remarks
Indo-Asian News Service
New Delhi, January 03, 2012, The Indian Army Tuesday officially denied that its chief, General VK Singh, had alluded to the defence ministry's handling of his age row "as though he was Pakistan's army chief" in a meeting with Defence Secretary Shashikant Sharma.
In a clarification issued in New Delhi, the Indian Army headquarters said the media report in this regard was "factually incorrect" and has been made "to sensationalise" a routine meeting.
"With reference to the media report, it is clarified that the report is factually incorrect and has been made to sensationalize a routine meeting," the clarification issued by the army spokesperson's office said here.
The report had claimed that Gen. Singh told Sharma during a one-on-one meeting that he was being treated by the ministry as if he was the Pakistan army chief and that he felt humiliated by the bureaucrats in the ministry.
Meanwhile, former Punjab chief minister and state Congress president Captain (retd.) Amarinder Singh has batted for Gen. Singh in a letter written to Defence minister AK Antony on his decision to reject the army chief's contention that his date of birth is May 10, 1951 and requesting that the official records be reconciled.
Antony had last week rejected a statutory complaint field by Gen. Singh four months ago, citing the recommendation of the attorney general that changing birth date records at this state would vitiate the existing succession line in the army.
Amarinder Singh, in his letter to Antony, said that he backed the army chief's fight for his honour and for upholding his integrity and that the controversy was affecting the morale of the 1.13-million strong army.
The former Punjab chief minister also reportedly attacked former army chief Gen. Deepak Kapoor, saying politics played a large part in have this controversy brewing so that it benefits some individuals.
Full Report at:
Army chiefs plotting to get me, claims Asif Ali Zadari aide
By Dean Nelson
New Delhi, Jan 3, 2012, Pakistan’s former ambassador to the United States was sheltering in the prime minister’s official residence in Islamabad last night (Monday) as his lawyer accused the country’s judiciary and armed forces of conspiring against him.
Husain Haqqani was forced to resign as ambassador late last year after a Pakistani-American businessman claimed he had passed on a memo on behalf of President Asif Ali Zardari pleading for US help to oust its army chiefs.
The memo was allegedly sent to Admiral Mike Mullen, the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff at the time, via General James Jones, the former national security adviser.
Both President Zardari and Mr Haqqani have denied making any overtures to the Americans.
General Ashfaq Parvez Kiyani, Pakistan’s chief of army staff, and Lt-General Ahmad Shuja Pasha, the country’s intelligence director, have encouraged the establishment of a judicial inquiry into the allegations.
The developing confrontation between Pakistan’s civilian and military leaderships has triggered warnings of a coup against the Pakistan People’s Party-led democratic government and intensfied rumours that President Zardari may yet flee the country.
The extent of mutual suspicion between the military and political leaderships was exposed by Asma Jahangir, Mr Haqqani’s lawyer, who said that the former ambassador was too afraid to leave the prime minister’s house to meet her in her office. She was forced to obtain a court order to allow him to visit her at the Supreme Court under a heavy police guard.
Miss Jahangir accused the judges of the Supreme Court of falling under the influence of the country’s army chief after it established a judicial commission to establish whether Mr Haqqani had violated the constitution by seeking to collude with a foreign power against state officials.
An investigation into the allegations had already been announced by the country’s National Assembly but Nawaz Shartif, the opposition leader and former prime minister, appealed to the Supreme Court for a separate judicial inquiry.
Miss Jahangir said she will not represent Mr Haqqani in the inquiry because she believes the judges are acting under the influence of the military establishment.
“They’ve set up a commission not to probe what is there already but to go further and create more evidence. The case is stacked against Haqqani, of course,” she said.
Full Report at:
State institutions should remain within their domains: Pakistan PM
By Rezaul H Laskar, Agency: PTI
ISLAMABAD, Jan 3, 2012, Pakistan's state institutions should perform their functions while remaining within their respective domains, Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani said against the backdrop of continuing tensions between his government and the military over the Memo scandal.
Gilani made the remarks while speaking at the National Defence University before an audience that included army chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, air force chief Air Chief Marshal Rao Qamar Suleman and naval chief Admiral Asif Sandila.
"We believe that all institutions should perform their functions in their respective domains, efficiently and effectively," the premier said.
A stable domestic environment is a prerequisite for investments and trade and only "democracy guarantees dynamic stability", he remarked.
Democracy enables the creative forces of the people to "find expression and full resonance for the socio-economic transformation" of the country and all state institutions, including the armed forces, judiciary and parliament are anchored in the Constitution and law, Gilani said.
In the past few weeks, the government and the powerful military have differed on the crucial issue of whether the Supreme Court should order an inquiry into the alleged memo that sought US help to stave off a military takeover in Pakistan after the killing of Osama bin Laden in May.
The army had urged the court to order an independent probe and a nine-judge bench subsequently formed a commission to conduct an inquiry into the scandal.
The court's move increased pressure on the weak government, which is grappling with charges of corruption and inefficiency.
Gilani recently lashed out at the army, saying it was unacceptable for the force to act as a "state within a state".
Pakistan Charges Iranian Border Guards with Murder
By AFP / PPI
TEHRAN:January 3, 2012, Pakistan police on Tuesday charged three Iranian border guards with the murder of a Pakistani man shot dead on Sunday in a cross-border attack in the country’s southwest.
The three guards were held late Sunday in southwestern Balochistan province along the Iranian border after they allegedly crossed the frontier and shot at a car, killing a Pakistani national.
Police said they had charged the Iranians following a written complaint from the father of the victim.
“We have registered a murder case against the three Iranians and will present them in court,” said Abdul Malik, officer in charge of the Mazan Sar Mashkail area, where the three were arrested.
A brother of the victim was also wounded by gunshots in the incident, police said.
The Iranians reached the area in Washuk district, three kilometres inside Pakistan, where they opened fire on a vehicle they were chasing, according to officials in the insurgent-hit province.
Pakistani officials said the Iranian guards were trying to take both Pakistani nationals back into Iran.
Malik said the three Iranians were in the custody of Pakistan paramilitary Frontier Corps and a request has been sent to hand them over to police.
Iran working to secure release of border guards
The Iranian Border Guards Commander Brigadier General Hossein Zolfaghari on Tuesday called on Pakistan to release three Iranian border guards who had “entered Pakistan by mistake while chasing armed drug smugglers.”
Full Report at:
traffickers over the past 30 years, mainly in areas bordering Afghanistan or Pakistan.
Memogate Scandal forces early elections in Pakistan?
Islamabad, Jan 4, 2012, (TruthDive): A secret memo seeking Washington’s help reining in the Pakistani military has brought into sharp relief the tensions between Pakistan’s shaky civilian government and its powerful army generals. The memo was to stave off a military coup after the covert raid in Abbottabad that killed Osama bin Laden in May. The resulting scandal called the Memogate Scandal threatened Pakistan’s ambassador to the US and perhaps the country’s president.
Anyhow, now Hussain Haqqani has resigned and a panel has been appointed by the Supreme Court to investigate the scandal. But the memogate scandal still remains as a threat to the government and speculation of early polls intensifies. Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani has denied any chances of early elections repeatedly.
Asma Jahangir, one of Pakistan’s leading civil rights activist and previously the counsel for Pakistan’s former ambassador to the US, Husain Haqqani has accused the panel appointed by the Supreme Court of acting under the influence of the military. He said he has no confidence in the panel.
The Memogate Scandal seriously strained the civilian government’s relations with the country’s powerful military. Earlier, Pakistan Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani made a public statement expressing fear of a possible military coup.
” I want to make it clear today those conspiracies are being hatched here to pack up the elected government,” Gilani told a gathering at the National Arts Gallery on December 22.
There are signs of a realignment of political forces with the emergence of Imran Khan’s Tehrik-e-Insaaf as a major threat to the ruling Pakistan People’s Party (PPP). The cricketer-turned-politician’s party, which drew an impressive crowd at a rally in Karachi last week, has indicated that it is open to an alliance with former President Pervez Musharraf. Shah Mahmood Qureshi, who recently quit the PPP to join Mr Khan’s party, has said that a decision will be taken in due course.
It takes very little to put fuel on rumors of a coup in Pakistan, where the military has ruled for more than half of the country’s history. Even now, nearly four years after the restoration of democracy, the military remains Pakistan’s dominant institution, and it largely dictates foreign policy and national security matters.
With the elections due in February 2013,Pakistan civilian government’s ability to survive its full term is certainly doubtful, after strained relations with the country’s powerful military.
Nawaz and Zardari mull summit to counter Imran Khan
LAHORE: Jan 4, 2012, Imran Khan's sudden explosion on Pakistan's political horizon seems to have shaken the country's mainstream parties, with erstwhile foes PML-N and PPP proposing a summit, apparently to counter the threat from cricketer-turned-politician.
Khan's Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf party has created a stir by holding a string of rallies across the nation in recent weeks, drawing massive crowds. His meetings in Nawaz Sharif's citadel Lahore and PPP stronghold of Karachi drew unprecedented response, triggering political ripples.
The advent of the cricketer has forced Sharif to tone down his criticism of the PPP-led government and its chief, President Asif Ali Zardari in recent days, with political sources saying that this may pave the way for a meeting of the top leaders of the two parties.
"There is a likelihood of President Zardari and Nawaz Sharif having a meeting in the near future," Navid Chaudhry, an aide to the President said.
In a sharp change of strategy, PML-N chief has now turned his guns on the cricketer-turned-politician, charging that his party was being backed by the security establishment -- an indirect reference to the powerful army.
Chaudhry, while pointing to a meeting between Sharif and Zardari, claimed that the ice had melted between the two.
He said the indications to this were Zardari's praise of Sharif in his December 27 speech on the death anniversary of former premier Benazir Bhutto.
Zardari's gesture was reciprocated by Sharif at a public meeting in Karachi, where he stopped PML-N supporters from shouting "Go Zardari go".
Afghan Taliban to open Qatar office for peace talks
By Ashish Kumar Sen-The Washington Times
January 3, 2012, A decision by the Afghan Taliban to set up a liaison office in Qatar is the first concrete step in a decade by the militants toward a peace deal, but it shuts out a key negotiating partner - Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s government.
Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid said Tuesday that the office in Qatar will conduct negotiations only with the “international community.”
“There are two essential sides in the current situation in the country that has been ongoing for the past 10 years. One is the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan and the other side is the United States of America and their foreign allies,” Mr. Mujahid said in an e-mailed statement, according to the Associated Press.
Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan refers to the country’s name under Taliban rule.
The Taliban want to set up a political office for negotiations, and have “reached a preliminary understanding with relevant sides, including the government of Qatar, to have a political office for negotiations with the international community,” he added.
Mr. Karzai has insisted that peace negotiations must be an Afghan-led process. His government has set three preconditions for such talks: the militants must renounce al Qaeda, give up arms and respect the Afghan constitution.
The U.S. also has supported an Afghan-led reconciliation process.
Afghan-led efforts stalled in September, when a Taliban suicide bomber assassinated former President Burhanuddin Rabbani, who headed a national council dedicated to brokering peace with the militants.
Speaking to reporters on Tuesday, State Department spokesman Victoria Nuland said the U.S. is “prepared to support an Afghan-led process of reconciliation.”
“In any negotiated settlement at the end of a conflict, there has to be a negotiation,” she said. “So the question is whether this office, were it to open, could play a positive role in that.”
Support from Pakistan and militant groups in the region, including the Haqqani Network, mujahedeen leader Gulbuddin Hekmatyar’s Hezb-e-Islami, and the Pakistani Taliban, are key to the success of any peace agreement in Afghanistan.
Marvin Weinbaum, a former Afghanistan and Pakistan analyst at the State Department, criticized the Obama administration for overlooking the contradictions in its Afghan policy.
“How can the United States reconcile talks, which would give the Taliban a share of power and at the same time have a strategic relationship with Afghanistan whose principle purpose is to leave U.S. forces on ground,” said Mr. Weinbaum, a Middle East Institute scholar.
“Karzai has made it pretty clear that he will set the terms, but we are so anxious for a soft landing by 2014 that we have this policy, which they view as grasping at straws,” he added.
Al Qaeda And The Savage Splinter
December 29, 2011: Islamic terrorists, sustained by drug gang cash and kidnap ransoms, are growing south of Algeria. This includes the appearance of a more radical splinter group - MOJWA (Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa). These two terror groups currently hold twelve Europeans for ransom and expect to get at least a million dollars for each of them. This would enable the terrorists to recruit a lot more impoverished young locals and equip them with vehicles and weapons. European nations are under pressure by African countries to not pay the ransom but to help track down the captives and rescue them (dead or alive). The European governments are under domestic pressure to pay the ransoms, as the voters back home are more concerned about the captive Europeans than North African victims to European financed terrorism.
Full Report at:
US rejects warning, vows to keep warships in the Gulf
Tehran: Jan 04, 2012. Iran's military on Tuesday warned one of the US navy's biggest aircraft carriers not to return to the Gulf, in an escalating showdown over Tehran's nuclear drive that could pitch into armed confrontation.
“We advise and insist that this warship not return to its former base in the Gulf,“ said Brigadier General Ataollah Salehi, Iran's armed forces chief.
“We don't have the intention of repeating our warning, and we warn only once,“ he was quoted as saying by the armed forces' official website. The US carrier would face the “full force” of the Iranian navy if it returns, navy spokesman Commodore Mahmoud Mousavi told Iran’s Arabic television service Al Alam.
The ominous message came just after Iran completed 10 days of naval manoeuvres at the entrance to the Gulf to show it could close the strategic oil shipping channel in the Strait of Hormuz if it felt threatened.
The US vowed to keep its warships deployed in the Gulf region, despite warnings from Iran. “The deployment of US military assets in the Gulf region will continue as it has for decades,” Pentagon Press secretary
George Little said in a statement. In the climax of the war games on Monday, Iran test-fired three missiles -including a new cruise missile -designed to sink warships. The aircraft carrier Salehi was referring to is the USS John C. Stennis, one of the US navy's biggest warships.
The carrier last week passed through the Strait of Hormuz heading east across the Gulf of Oman and through the zone where the Iranian navy was holding its manoeuvres. The US Defence Department called its passage “routine“.
The potential for an Iran-US conflict sent a shiver through oil mar kets on Tuesday, pushing oil prices up around $2 a barrel.
There was no sign of a let-up in the tensions. Iran's armed forces chief-of-staff General Hassan Firouzabadi added to the defiance by saying on Tuesday that the Revolutionary Guards, an elite military force apart from the regular defence services, would soon hold its own naval manoeuvres in the Gulf.
Foreign ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast told reporters that “the foreign forces“ present in the Gulf -meaning the US Navy -“are against the security of the region“. -AFP
US wants relations with Pakistan ‘to get back to normal’
South Asian News Agency (SANA) ⋅
WASHINGTON DC: January 4, 2012, The US State Department spokesperson, Victoria Nuland, on Tuesday said that following the passage of the defence authorisation act, the United States would now have to certify that cooperation is going well in order to release military funds. It’s essentially a continuation of some of the issues that we’ve had before.
The spokesperson said that the United States was still talking to the Government of Pakistan at “all levels.”
“Following the New Year holiday, our ambassador Cameron Munter’s been back in touch with the Pakistanis. We want to get back to normal and get into a full counterterrorism relationship again. We think that’s important not only for US security but for Pakistani security and for the security of the entire region. So those conversations will continue,” said Nuland.
The spokesperson, when asked about President Zardari’s statement that Pakistan would go ahead with the Iran pipeline deal despite US reservations, said “we’ve made absolutely clear over many months now our concerns about this deal, and we will continue to talk to Pakistan about it. You know, were it to go forward, how it might be impacted – again, this is the kind of conversation that we have to have with Pakistan and that we’re starting to have now.”
Talk in the State Department briefing also turned towards the memogate case and the fallout from the resignation of former ambassador Husain Haqqani. While the State Department spokesperson said that they had been following the matter, she stated maintained that it was an internal matter for Pakistan.
When a reporter at the briefing pressed further, the spokesperson added. “With regard to this case, with regard to other judicial proceedings in Pakistan, that we want to see judicial proceedings go forward in accordance with the Pakistani constitution, including the protections on citizens’ rights, and in accordance with international law.”
Asked about aid figures released by the Foreign Office and that Pakistan had not received Coalition Support Funds since June 2010, and only $400 million from Kerry-Lugar-Berman bill funds in 2011, the spokesperson said that while she did not have the exact figures, “You do know that some of the money on the military-to-military side, it was difficult to spend because some of those programs had been suspended and because of the state of the relationship in counterterrorism cooperation. We’ve talked about that at length.”
Hezb-i-Islami delegation meets Karzai, US envoy
PESHAWAR:January 04, 2012, Afghan President Hamid Karzai has reportedly discussed return of peace with a delegation of guerilla commander Gulbuddin Hekmatyar in Kabul. Peshawar-based Afghan Islamic Press said on Tuesday that the delegation, led by head of political wing of Hizb-e-Islami of Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, also met US ambassador in Kabul Ryan Crocker. Quoting unnamed sources, the Afghan wire service said the meetings were held “on the request of Afghan officials”. The wire’s sources said that during the meetings, Hezb-i-Islami said their party was ready for negotiations on the future of Afghanistan if the foreign forces withdraw.” The news wire, meanwhile, quoted unnamed sources as saying that the Afghan guerilla leader’s delegation also “met CIA chief General David Petraeus a few months back.” However, it did not say where and when the meeting took place and what results followed the meeting. staff report
Israel to shut down N-reactor if war breaks out: Report
JERUSALEM, 03 JANUARY 2012, Fearing a possible missile attack on its atomic facility, Israel which has been maintaining nuclear ambiguity, will halt activities at its Dimona reactor if a war breaks out with Iran, a media report has said.
The aim of such nuclear stoppage would be to prevent damage to the reactors’ outlying area, should Iranian missiles penetrate the facilities’ defence shields, Ha’aretz reported.
A decision to this effect was taken by the Israel Atomic Energy Commission (IAEC), which comes directly under the PMO, in coordination with the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) Home Front Command.
Israel has maintained a policy of nuclear ambiguity, neither confirming nor denying nuclear capability, but as per foreign media reports has about 200 nuclear arsenals in store.
The working assumption shared by the Home Front Command and the IAEC management officials responsible for the two reactors is that the multilayered defence systems, which feature anti-missile missiles calibrated to intercept missiles at various heights, along with fortified installations, should be sufficiently effective to minimise damage in an attack against the reactors, the report said.
However, any defence system can be penetrated in principle so nuclear activity in the reactors will be halted should warnings come of an impending war.
This stoppage procedure could also be applied in non-war periods of escalated skirmishes that involve rocket attacks against Israel, Ha’aretz said.
The official explanation for this policy is that activity at the reactors is carried out for research purposes, and such research work does not need to be carried out constantly, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, it said.
Full Report at:
Urgent League meeting on Syria monitors on Saturday
Beirut Jan 04, 2012, The Arab League on Tuesday called for an emergency meeting to discuss whether to withdraw the group’s monitors from Syria, where security forces are still killing protesters despite the observers’ presence, an Arab official said.
The meeting will take place on Saturday in Cairo, where the Arab League is based.
French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe said the regime must not be allowed to interfere with the observers on the ground.
“The conditions in which this observer mission is taking place
need to be clarified,“ he told French television I-Tele. “Does it really have completely free access to information? We await the report that it will submit in the coming days to see more clearly.“
Activists reported more bloodshed on Tuesday. The Britishbased Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said security forces shot dead three people in the restive city of Homs. The LCC had a higher toll, saying security forces killed four people in Homs, one in the Damascus suburb of Kfar Batna and one in the central province of Hama.
Arab League deputy secretarygeneral Ahmed bin Heli said the meeting on Saturday will look into the first report by the head of the monitoring mission, which began December 27.
Another official said the ministerial meeting will discuss whether to pull out the monitors because of the ongoing violence in Syria. The Saturday meeting will not make a final decision, but will send its recommendations to another, highlevel ministerial meeting. No date was set for that meeting.
There are about 100 Arab League monitors in Syria, dispatched to verify the regime's compliance with an Arab League plan to stop its crackdown on a nine-month-old uprising. Syria agreed to the plan on December 19.
But activists say hundreds have been slain in the week since the observers started work. On Monday, League chief Nabil Elaraby acknowledged ongoing bloodshed but insisted the observer mission has yielded important concessions from the Damascus regime, such as the withdrawal of heavy weapons from cities.
Full Report at:
Overtures to Egypt’s Islamists Reverse Longtime U.S. Policy
By DAVID D. KIRKPATRICK and STEVEN LEE MYERS
CAIRO, January 3, 2012 — With the Muslim Brotherhood pulling within reach of an outright majority in Egypt’s new Parliament, the Obama administration has begun to reverse decades of mistrust and hostility as it seeks to forge closer ties with an organization once viewed as irreconcilably opposed to United States interests.
The administration’s overtures — including high-level meetings in recent weeks — constitute a historic shift in a foreign policy held by successive American administrations that steadfastly supported the autocratic government of President Hosni Mubarak in part out of concern for the Brotherhood’s Islamist ideology and historic ties to militants.
The shift is, on one level, an acknowledgment of the new political reality here, and indeed around the region, as Islamist groups come to power. Having won nearly half the seats contested in the first two rounds of the country’s legislative elections, the Brotherhood on Tuesday entered the third and final round with a chance to extend its lead to a clear majority as the vote moved into districts long considered strongholds.
The reversal also reflects the administration’s growing acceptance of the Brotherhood’s repeated assurances that its lawmakers want to build a modern democracy that will respect individual freedoms, free markets and international commitments, including Egypt’s treaty with Israel.
Full Report at:
On (my lack of) Muslim Feminism
JANUARY 3, 2012
Although this blog is about faith in strange times, I somehow made it this far without talking about the looming elephant in the room: Islam and feminism.
The thing is, when it comes to Muslim feminism, I’m a bit of a coward, me. I knowingly and actively partake of the benefits feminism bestows upon me while skirting away from the feminist label itself. And here is why: while I wholeheartedly love and am thankful for feminist theory in itself, being specifically a Muslim feminist opens up a host of negative connotations that I simply do not wish to be associated with.
Yep. Told you I was a coward.
Because I don’t adhere to either essentialist notions of Muslim femininity or the idea of female imams or praying when one is menstruating, I wonder if there’s a place for me somewhere in between. I realize I’m posing my own framework by denoting extremes and thinking that there’s a “middle,” but that’s how I see it.
Muslim feminists have tirelessly repeated themselves in saying that their stance is based on the premise that the Quran addresses men and women equally. I, of course hold that stance. And I also greatly admire the conscious efforts undertaken to talk about prolific Muslim women in a way that has not been done earlier due to prevailing patriarchal structures. I even acknowledge that historically and culturally-entrenched male privilege is something very real, and a serious force to be contended with in the realm of the Muslim community.
What I have a problem with is the notion that Islam needs to be redefined and the Quran needs to be reinterpreted in light of feminist ideals. I am very skeptical of apologetic tendencies about the parts of faith that are unpopular. I find feminism liberating in terms of negotiating with my South Asian cultural baggage (Now, why on earth can’t I dance at my brother’s wedding?) but I just don’t see it working in terms of my internal faith. I am more in favor of conversations that confront the unpleasant realities of Muslim practice, as the blogger and tweeter Muslimerican does in his AltMuslimah piece on sex and slavery in Islam.
Full Report at:
Radical Islamist group threatens France
Bamako, 2012-01-03 - The Mauritanian Hamada Ould Mohamed Kheirou, presumed leader of an armed Islamist group active in west Africa, has again threatened France with war in a video seen Tuesday by an AFP journalist.
"We again declare war on France, which is hostile to the interests of Islam," Kheirou said in Arabic, wearing dark glasses and with his head wrapped in a turban. "The jihad [holy war] will be exported everywhere it is necessary and for God, we must be ready for anything."
The video also showed images of three Westerners - a Spanish man and woman and an Italian woman - who were kidnapped late in October in a camp for Sahrawi refugees near Tindouf in southern Algeria.
That kidnapping was claimed by Kheirou's Movement for Unity and Justice in West Africa, which then emerged as a breakaway group from Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), which originated in Algeria and now has bases in northern Mali.
The last part of the video was concerned with the ideology of the group and its ambitions, particularly "to impose shari'ah [Islamic law] across the whole of west Africa." Young black fighters were shown calling for "pure and tough" Islam.
Mauritania last week issued an international arrest warrant against Kheirou, also known as Abou Qumqum. The mandate also targeted three other Mauritanians, including Moustapha Ould Limam Chafi, an influential man in west Africa who has notably negotiated the release of Western hostages by AQIM.
All four men are accused of being "influential members" of AQIM, of financing terrorism and of supporting terrorist groups in the Sahel strip of northwest African nations on the southern edge of the Sahara.
This zone is difficult to patrol and monitor and AQIM has carried out many attacks on troops, kidnappings of Westerners and traffic of various kinds, including drugs.
Twelve Europeans, including six French nationals, are currently hostage in the Sahel.
Senior Islamic Jihad Terrorist Arrested in Raid in northern Samaria
By Gavriel Queenann
A raid in northern Samaria on Tuesday morning that netted a cache of weapons also resulted in the capture of a senior Islamic Jihad terrorist.
Israeli forces raided the home of Sheikh Osama Al-Shalabi in Silat al-Dhahar village south of Jenin, before detaining the Islamic Jihad leader, locals told the Palestinian Authority affiliated Ma'an News Agency.
A second terrorist from the oganization was also arrested in south Jenin. Neither has been identified.
Israeli forces detained another senior Islamic Jihad member, Sheikh Khader Adnan, from Jenin-district Arraba village on December 17. He has since gone on hunger strike to protest his incarceration by Israeli prison authorities.
Islamic Jihad, which is closely allied with the Hamas terror organization that rules Gaza, has openly expressed reservations about Hamas' decision to join the PLO and downshift to 'popular resistance' in Judea and Samaria.
The group has come under increasing pressure from the IDF in recent weeks, with several terrorists being killed and wounded in IAF airstrikes in northern and central Gaza.
Islamic Jihad has been at the forefront of rocket and mortar attacks from Gaza on Israel's southern communities in the past eighteen months - as well as being involved in the cross-border bus ambush near Eilat that resulted in eight Israelis being killed.
A series of targeted killings by the IDF in 2003 and 2004 that culminated in the death of Islamic Jihad leader Sheikh Ahmed Yassin in Gaza brought Islamic Jihad's command element in Israel to the brink of destruction.
Following the Hamas takeover of Gaza in a bloody 2007 putsch, however, the group was able to rebuild its command echelon due to Israel's airstrike-for-rockets strategic paradigm, which favors striking logistical sites rather than targeted killings.
A growing number of senior security figures in Israel have said a major incursion aimed at rooting out Gaza's terror infrastructure is the only way to restore security to some 1 million Israelis who live under the daily threat of rocket-fire from terrorists in the coastal enclave
Philippine military commander says 5 foreign terror suspects hiding on southern island
By Associated Press,
MANILA, Philippines, January 3, 2012 — At least five foreign extremists have been hiding on a remote southern Philippine island and could help link Filipino radicals to potential overseas financiers and combat trainers like the al-Qaida terrorist network, a military commander said Tuesday.
The five, who have been roaming the tropical jungles of Jolo island in Sulu province, are led by U.S.-trained Malaysian engineer Zulkifli bin Hir, one of the remaining key terror suspects in Southeast Asia, regional military commander Lt. Gen. Raymundo Ferrer said.
“They seem to be actively moving around Sulu,” Ferrer told reporters.
U.S. troops have been providing training, intelligence and other noncombat help to underfunded Filipino troops for years to help crush local Abu Sayyaf militants and the foreign extremists they shelter, including members of the Indonesia-based militant network Jemaah Islamiyah.
U.S.-backed Philippine offensives have been credited for the capture and killing of hundreds of Abu Sayyaf fighters and their foreign allies in Sulu, an impoverished Muslim region about 590 miles (950 kilometers) south of Manila, and in outlying island provinces.
Washington has offered huge rewards for some of the terror suspects, including $5 million for Zulkifli bin Hir, also known as Marwan. The Malaysian has been accused of involvement in past bombings and of helping secure funds and weapons for the Abu Sayyaf from foreign donors.
Full Report at:
Gulf International Bank named ‘Best Sukuk Arranger’
By ARAB NEWS
Jan 4, 2012, Dubai-based Islamic Business & Finance magazine has recently named Gulf International Bank (GIB) as the “Best Sukuk Arranger” for the year 2011 after conducting a survey of the world’s best sukuk arrangers.
According to the magazine, nominees for the awards were short-listed from hundreds of top Islamic financial services providers and professionals. Tens of thousands of votes were cast by the readers of the magazine and the registered users of its website.
The magazine distributed its annual Islamic banking awards to the winning banks during a ceremony held in Dubai on Dec. 13 2011.
GIB has developed considerable expertise in originating and placing regional sukuk issuances in the GCC. GIB’s strength in this area originates from long standing relationships with regional issuers and investors, experience of structuring Shariah-compliant instruments and the ability to distribute transactions regionally.
Yahya Abdullah Alyahya, GIB’s chief executive officer, commented: “We are pleased to receive this prestigious award that recognizes our leadership and achievements in the field of sukuk arrangement and issuance. We are committed to further strengthen GIB’s status as a leading investment bank in the GCC.”
Alyahya added: “This new award comes as an addition to other awards the Bank has received during the past 12 months. This reflects GIB’s leadership and the market’s confidence in its capability to provide innovative debt and corporate advisory solutions.”
GIB is a leading bank in the Middle East with its principal focus on the GCC states. Its primary shareholder is the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia. The Bank provides client-focused, innovative financial products and services to a wide customer base in the region, including asset management,, IPOs, private equity placement, mergers & acquisitions, sukuk/bond issues and Shariah-compliant banking services.
Pakistani celebrities make beeline for Bollywood
Bharti Dubey, TNN
MUMBAI: Jan 4, 2012, India has opened the gates for Pakistani aspirants to make a career in Bollywood. During the last few months, many celebrities from the neighbouring country have moved to Mumbai in pursuit of a successful career.
Ali Zafar is shooting for London Paris New York, Imran Abbas is being considered by director Rahul Dholakia for his film, Veena Malik has two films and Meera is playing the lead role in 5 Ghante Mein 5 Crore, Atif Aslam is judging a Indo-Pak music show for a television channel and Humaima Malik too is looking for a role after her critically acclaimed film Bol.
This is an indication that the fear of the Shiv Sena and the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena seems to be on the wane. An industry insider said, "After the recent Veena Malik lost-and-found episode all the Sena chief did was write an editorial on the actress. However, there was no protest to drive her out of the country that they used to do in the past." Film-maker Rahul Dholakia, who may cast Imran Abbas in one of his films, said, "I don't care about the political parties. If my film needs an Pakistan artiste, the I will sign him."
After 26/11 terror attack, almost all Pakistani actors made a quick exitBut despite the political parties protesting against the participation of Pakistani actors in TV shows, film producers continue to work with them.
Film-maker Mahesh Bhatt said, "In the season of hate targeting a Pakistani entertainer is profitable. It gets you instant attention. However, the situation has drastically changed now. Pakistan is no longer heading our hate list.
The intensity of the hostility that has kept us glued together has ebbed. Today, hating a Pakistani actor is not profitable because it does not grab headlines."
Vikas Mohan, vice president of the Association of Motion Pictures and TV Programme Producers, said, "All these actors have work permits and also acquire temporary membership of the Cine and TV Artistes' Association so there is no way one can stop them from working in India."