New Age Islam
Tue Aug 11 2020, 05:49 AM

Islamic World News ( 24 Oct 2009, NewAgeIslam.Com)

‘Love jehad’ figment of imagination: PUCL

Malegaon imam, a product of Deoband, is MLA

Pak army captures Taliban chief Hakimullah's hometown

Islamabad: India's call to secure its nuclear assets is ‘self serving.’

Who are the Taliban?

26/11 trial: Pak appoints new judge

UN nuclear inspectors leave for Iran

US drone attack kills 18 militants in Pak's NWFP

Pakistan denies drone attack report

Taliban call for Afghan poll boycott, threaten violence

UN nuclear inspectors leave for Iran

Palestinians Now Have Voting Date, but No Unity

Iran Is Said to Arrest Wives of Many Prominent Detainees

NATO Ministers Endorse Wider Afghan Effort

Strong quake hits off Indonesia

Israel debates response to Gaza report

Protesters urge end to Afghan war

Europe criticised on Iraqi asylum

Abbas sets Palestinian polls date

Iran delays reply on nuclear plan

Jewish-Arab crime film captures tensions

Pakistan assures action against Iran bombers

Al Jazeera journalists detained in Zimbabwe

Afghans oppose U.S. hit list of drug traffickers

Suicide bomber kills 7 at Pakistani air force complex

Pakistan 'must act' on Iran rebels

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau

Photo: SNDP to deploy task force to counter ‘Love Jihad’

URL of this page:  http://www.newageislam.com/islamic-world-news/‘love-jehad’-figment-of-imagination--pucl/d/1982

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‘Love jehad’ figment of imagination: PUCL

Bangalore: The People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) has said it will file a writ petition in the Supreme Court challenging the Karnataka High Court’s order asking a woman who had converted to Islam to marry a Muslim man from Kerala, to return to her parents’ home until the case was investigated.

The PUCL will question the decision of the High Court to send the 23-year-old woman back to her family despite her statement in court that she had willingly converted and was waiting to get married under the provisions of the Special Marriages Act.

Hearing the case of Siljaraj and Azghar, the court had said the facts had “national ramifications concerning security, besides the question of unlawful trafficking of women,” and ordered the Director-General and Inspector-General of Police to hold a thorough investigation to rule out the theory that this was a case of ‘love jehad’ (a loose coinage implying that women are being lured into conversion through marriage) and file a report by November 13. The girl was asked to stay with her parents until such time.

“She is a major and no one has a right to thrust her back into the family. We see it as part of a pattern of continued intimidation on the basis of community and gender, first started in Dakshina Kannada,” said Ramadasa Rao of the PUCL. He feared that the girl might come under pressure of family and community during her stay with them.

The whole notion of ‘love jehad’, said Professor Rao, is a “figment of the imagination” and the order will severely impact the rights of young women and men to free association and marriage.

Reacting to the order, senior advocate Ravi Varma Kumar said that it violated Article 21 (of life and personal liberty) and Article 25 (of freedom of religion) of the Indian Constitution. He cited Lata Singh vs. State of Uttar Pradesh, 2006, in which the Supreme Court upheld the right of a person who had reached the age of majority to marry of his or her own choice. Kirti Singh, a Supreme Court advocate and legal convener of the All India Democratic Women’s Association (AIDWA), described the case as “absolutely shocking.” She said the question of national security was being mixed up with the simple case of a girl exercising a choice guaranteed to her under the law of the land and Constitution. “The court has taken a patriarchal role,” she said, stating that it reflected intolerance for the girl’s choices.

In Bangalore, Home Minister V.S. Acharya told reporters that ‘love jehad’ appeared to be a “serious issue.” The State government would take steps to counter it.

The Muslim Central Committee of Dakshina Kannada and Udupi districts will convene a conference of Muslims in Mangalore on November 12 to discuss issues related to ‘love jehad’.

Addressing reporters in Mangalore on Thursday, committee president K.S. Mohammed Masood alleged that vested interests were attempting to tarnish the image of Islam by framing the phrase ‘love jehad’. “There is no such phrase in Islam. It is an absurd usage,” he added.

 http://www.hindu.com/2009/10/23/stories/2009102360270700.htm

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Malegaon imam, a product of deoband, is MLA

Mateen Hafeez, TNN 23 October 2009

         

MUMBAI: The terror-struck Malegaon has rebuffed the overtures of the Congress. Mufti Ismail, the Deoband-trained chief imam of the Muslim-dominated textile town's Jama mosque won the seat by a handsome 17,000 votes, getting the better of Congress's Shaikh Rasheed and five-time MLA and Janata Dal (secular) leader Nihal Ahmed.

This is the first time an imam has won in Maharashtra. The victory is significant as Malegaon has witnessed successive incidents of violence, including the plot hatched by the Abhinav Bharat conspirators.

Ismail's strengths are his command over local residents and communication skills. During the 2001 communal riots, it was he who managed to control the angry mob. Even after the 2006 Malegaon serial blasts, he visited the entire city in a police van and appealed for peace. Imam Ismail (46), who contested the election on a Jan Shakti Sawaraj Party, secured 71,157 votes while the Congress candidate got 53,238 votes. Former minister Nihal Ahmed could secure just 23,237 votes.

Malegaon, which has been hit by bomb blasts twice and labelled "communally sensitive" after sectarian violence, witnessed an election beyond politics of hatred. "Ismail is a role model and youth icon. He has made history by winning the election by not spending any money. In fact, he had asked for one rupee as party fund for every vote," said Ishtiyaque Ahmed, a law graduate from Malegaon.

Ismail, who has been leading the namaz at Malegaon's grand mosque, studied Islamic shariah from Darool Uloom Deoband in Uttar Pradesh. He was just 28 when he led the Eid prayers and ever since, he has been leading the prayers for over two lakh worshippers. "Ismail formed a third front in Malegaon in 2006 and his party captured 28 seats in the 72-member Malegaon corporation just based on goodwill," said a town's resident.

"It was Ismail who dared to tell Congress president Sonia Gandhi that her party had given just promises to Muslims and they did not expect anything beyond that. Gandhi was meeting the prominent Muslims after the 2006 blasts when Ismail brought her attention to the problems," said Masood Ahmed, another resident.

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Pak army captures Taliban chief Hakimullah's hometown

PTI 24 October 2009

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan army on Saturday claimed to have captured the hometown of Taliban chief Hakimullah Mehsud in the lawless South Waziristan tribal region, where a major ground offensive was launched against militants a week ago.

Several militants were killed in the operation to capture Kotkai, the Inter-Services Public Relations said.

There were no details of any casualties among security forces.

Reports from Waziristan said the town was captured overnight and troops subsequently launched an operation to clear the area.

Troops took control of the town after besieging it from several directions over the past few days. Jets and helicopter gunships were used to pound militant positions during the siege.

The army faced stiff resistance as it captured strategic heights and features overlooking Kotkai.

More than 20 militants and several soldiers, including an officer, were killed in clashes in and around the town over the past three days.

Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan chief Hakimullah is not present in Kotkai but the capture of the town represents a major propaganda coup for the army in its campaign against militants in South Waziristan.

Kotkai is also the hometown of Hakimullah's close aide Qari Hussain, who is the chief trainer of suicide bombers.

Full Report at: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow/msid-5157040,prtpage-1.cms

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October 24, 2009

Pakistan Said to Seize Taliban Town

ISLAMABAD (AP) -- Soldiers captured the strategically located hometown of Pakistan's Taliban chief Saturday after fierce fighting, officials said, the army's first major prize as it pushes deeper into a militant stronghold along the Afghan border.

A suspected U.S. missile killed 22 people elsewhere in the northwest, but apparently missed a top Taliban figure, authorities said.

Pakistan's eight-day-old offensive in the Taliban and al-Qaida stronghold of South Waziristan is considered its most critical test yet in the campaign to stop the spread of violent Islamist extremism in this nuclear-armed, U.S.-allied country. The army operation has prompted a wave of retaliatory attacks by militants this month that have killed some 200 people.

The battle for Kotkai town took several days and involved aerial bombardment as soldiers captured heights around the town. Army spokesman Maj. Gen. Athar Abbas said troops were now ridding the town of land mines and roadside bombs planted by the insurgents.

Kotkai is symbolically important because it is the hometown of Pakistani Taliban chief Hakimullah Mehsud and one of his top deputies, Qari Hussain. It also lies along the way to the major militant base of Sararogha, making it a strategically helpful catch.

Full Report at: http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/2009/10/24/world/AP-AS-Pakistan.html?_r=1&ref=global-home

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India should stop opportunistic propaganda: Pakistan

PTI 24 October 2009

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan on Saturday dismissed India's call to effectively secure its nuclear assets as "self serving," and said New Delhi should instead work with it on establishing a "regional strategic restraint regime".

Following a suicide attack on Friday outside the Pakistan Aeronautical Complex at Kamra - considered a base for some of the country's strategic weapons - Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao had said that India hoped the Pakistan government would "continue to take steps to effectively secure their nuclear assets".

Responding to a question on Rao's comments, Foreign Office spokesman Abdul Basit said, "Such remarks are evidently self-serving and integral to India's efforts to seek unilateral advantage at the cost of regional strategic stability by its feverish militarization and working on dangerous military doctrines. Instead of finger pointing, India should accept our proposal for promoting a regional strategic restraint regime and work with Pakistan to promote strategic stability in South Asia," he said.

Basit said India should "stop its opportunistic propaganda against Pakistan".

Source: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow/msid-5157840,prtpage-1.cms

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Operation against Taliban to go on despite attacks: PM Yousuf Raza Gilani

24 October 2009

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan's military operation against the Taliban in South Waziristan will be taken to its logical conclusion despite a wave of attacks by the militants as "failure is not an option", Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani said on Friday.

Addressing a high-level meeting convened to frame a strategy to counter a series of suicide attacks and bombings unleashed by the Taliban, Gilani said his government is committed to "uprooting militancy and intolerance from society and all those who challenge the writ of the state will be dealt with an iron hand".

"Failure is not an option despite the ferocity of these attacks (by the militants)," he said hours after a suicide bomber struck a strategic air force complex in Punjab province and a car bomb targeted a restaurant in Peshawar, killing eight persons and injuring nearly 30 more.

"The military operation in South Waziristan will continue till its logical conclusion," Gilani said.

He assured the people that the government "will not allow the terrorists to get away with their cowardly acts".

The meeting, which was attended by senior federal ministers, provincial chief ministers and officials of the police and law enforcement agencies, was briefed by army chief Gen Ashfaq Pervez Kayani on the military operation in South Waziristan.

Topics:

Source: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow/msid-5154665,prtpage-1.cms

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Who are the Taliban?

Recent years have seen the re-emergence of the hardline Islamic Taliban movement as a fighting force in Afghanistan and a major threat to its government.

They are also threatening to destabilise Pakistan, where they control areas in the north-west and are blamed for a wave of suicide bombings and other attacks.

The Taliban emerged in the early 1990s in northern Pakistan following the withdrawal of Soviet troops from Afghanistan.

A predominantly Pashtun movement, the Taliban came to prominence in Afghanistan in the autumn of 1994.

It is commonly believed that they first appeared in religious seminaries - mostly paid for by money from Saudi Arabia - which preached a hard line form of Sunni Islam.

The Taliban's promise - in Pashtun areas straddling Pakistan and Afghanistan - was to restore peace and security and enforce their own austere version of Sharia, or Islamic law, once in power.

In both countries they introduced or supported Islamic punishments - such as public executions of convicted murderers and adulterers and amputations of those found guilty of theft.

Men were required to grow beards and women had to wear the all-covering burka.

Madrassas

The Taliban showed a similar disdain for television, music and cinema and disapproved of girls aged 10 and over from going to school.

Pakistan has repeatedly denied that it is the architect of the Taliban enterprise.

But there is little doubt that many Afghans who initially joined the movement were educated in madrassas (religious schools) in Pakistan.

Pakistan was also one of only three countries, along with Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), which recognised the Taliban when they were in power in Afghanistan from the mid-1990s until 2001.

It was also the last country to break diplomatic ties with the Taliban.

But Pakistan has since adopted a harder line against Taliban militants carrying out attacks on its soil.

Full Report at: http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/2/hi/south_asia/1549285.stm

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26/11 trial: Pak appoints new judge

PTI 24 October 2009

ISLAMABAD: A new judge was on Saturday appointed to conduct the crucial trial of seven key suspects in the Mumbai terror attack case, replacing Judge Baqir Ali Rana who asked to be taken off citing "security issues".

Judge Malik Muhammad Akram Awan of anti-terrorism court replaced Rana on the orders of Chief Justice of the Lahore High Court Khwaja Mohammad Sharif. ( Watch Video )

Rana was conducting in-camera the trial of the seven suspects, who included senior Lashker-e-Taiba operatives Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi and Zarar Shah, in the high-security Adiala Jail in Rawalpindi.

The Chief Justice issued the order following a request from Rana to be taken off the case due to "security issues", sources told PTI.

There were reports that Rana received threats from the LeT because the suspects were indicted in the absence of their lawyers during a hearing on October 10.

Rana was also reportedly unhappy about pressure from the government regarding the case, sources said.

Though a hearing of the Mumbai attacks case was scheduled for today, there were no proceedings due to the changing of the judge. The new judge will begin hearing the case from October 31, sources said.

Source:  http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow/msid-5156877,prtpage-1.cms

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Soldiers turning rogue Pak's new terror headache

Chidanand Rajghatta, TNN 13 October 2009

WASHINGTON: A prominent Pakistani military commando-turned-terrorist mastermind who was reported killed in a US Predator strike apparently survived the attack and has re-surfaced even as American attention has turned to the growing number of jihadis and extremists from Pakistan’s armed forces.

Ilyas Kashmiri, a former Pakistan Special Services Group commando and a veteran of the Islamabad-backed separatist movement in Kashmir, has promised retribution against the ''U.S and its proxies,'' an American terrorism watchdog reported Tuesday, after the armyman-turned-jihadi gave an interview to a Pakistani journalist to show that he was alive and ticking.

Kashmiri is very likely to be directly linked to last weekend's terror assault on Pakistan's Army General Headquarters in Rawalpindi masterminded by ''Dr Usman'' (who is also from the Pakistani military), according to Bill Roggio of the Long War Journal, a publication which tracks terrorism in the region.

The story puts the focus on several emerging aspects of Pakistan’s existential association and struggle with terrorism: The growing number of Pakistani military personnel who are turning rogue; and their ethnic origins, mostly form Punjab province.

Also of concern to intelligence analysts is Pakistan’s revolving door policy that frees or cuts loose terrorists – as had happened with Mumbai massacre mastermind Hafeez Mohammed Saeed this week – who eventually return to bite the Pakistani establishment in the back.

Source: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow/msid-5121492,prtpage-1.cms

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UN nuclear inspectors leave for Iran

PTI 24 October 2009

VIENNA: Four inspectors of the UN International Atomic Energy Agency left Vienna on Saturday for Tehran to visit Iran's controversial second uranium enrichment plant, journalists at the airport reported.

They are due to visit the site near the holy city of Qom tomorrow, two days after Tehran postponed its response to a UN deal on supplying the Islamic republic with nuclear fuel.

Media reports said the team will spend three days in the country to inspect the facility being built inside a mountain some 100 kilometres south of the capital.

Tehran's disclosure of the new plant to the IAEA on September 21 triggered widespread global outrage, with US President Barack Obama warning Iran would face "increased pressure" if it does not come clean on its nuclear activities.

IAEA chief Mohamed ElBaradei criticised Tehran for what he said was its late disclosure of the facility's existence.

The inspection has gained further significance after Tehran delayed yesterday its response to an IAEA deal under which Iran would ship its existing stock of low-enriched uranium to Russia.

As the inspectors were leaving, Iran's parliament speaker Ali Larijani accused Western powers of trying to "cheat" Tehran through the deal.

Source: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow/msid-5157623,prtpage-1.cms

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US drone attack kills 18 militants in Pak's NWFP

PTI 24 October 2009

ISLAMABAD: At least 18 militants, including kin of top Taliban commander Maulvi Faqir Mohamad, were killed and several others injured on Saturday in a US drone attack in Pakistan's restive Bajaur tribal region.

The drone targeted a compound at Damadola in Bajaur Agency where a large number of militants were present, TV news channels reported.

The son-in-law and nephew of Faqir Mohammad and at least three foreign fighters were among the dead.

The death toll could rise as some of the injured are in a critical condition, reports said.

The drone attack came after a relative lull in such strikes in the tribal belt over the past few weeks.

Reports have said the US decided to cut down on drone attacks due to the operation launched by the Pakistan Army against the Taliban in South Waziristan.

Faqir Mohammad was the deputy of slain Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan chief Baitullah Mehsud, who was killed in a drone attack in August.

Soon after Mehsud's death, he said he had been appointed the new chief of the Taliban 'shura' or council but later retracted his claim.

Source: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow/msid-5156833,prtpage-1.cms

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Pakistan denies drone attack report

A wave of Taliban attacks across Pakistan has heightened security concerns

Pakistan's military has denied that a US drone attack was behind the deaths of as many as 22 people in the country's tribal areas, insisting that the campaign against the Taliban there is a purely Pakistani offensive.

The confusion over the incident on Saturday slightly overshadowed the military's claim that it had captured the hometown of Hakimullah Mehsud, the Pakistani Taliban leader in South Waziristan.

Soon after the military's announcement, officials were quoted as saying a missile from a suspected US drone attack had hit a house in Chuhatra village in Bajaur.

"The missile hit home of Maulvi Faqir [a local Taliban commander] and we have reports of 10 dead," Abdul Malik, an official in the region, was quoted by the Reuters news agency as saying.

Other reports said 14 people had been killed. The Associated Press quoted Mohammad Jamil, a government official, as saying the suspect US drone attack had killed as many as 22 people.

The target appeared to be Faqir Mohammad, a prominent Taliban leader, but he is believed to have escaped, Jamil said.

Full Report at: http://english.aljazeera.net/news/asia/2009/10/2009102414109742840.html

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Taliban call for Afghan poll boycott, threaten violence

AFP 24 October 2009

KABUL: The Taliban called on Saturday for a boycott of the upcoming run-off in Afghanistan's fraud-tainted presidential election as top US and UN envoys predicted fewer problems with the second round.

While Western military chiefs say they can ensure the November 7 poll is conducted in a peaceful atmosphere, the warning from the Taliban threatens to further deflate turnout, which was less than 40 percent first time round.

"The Islamic emirate (of Afghanistan) once again informs all the people that no one should participate in this American process and should boycott the process," said a Taliban statement emailed to AFP.

"The mujahedeen are fully prepared to defeat this process," it said, adding: "Anyone who participates and gets hurt will be responsible for their own losses."

The run-off pits former foreign minister Abdullah Abdullah against incumbent Hamid Karzai, who came to power in late 2001 after the Taliban were toppled by US-led forces.

Eight years on, the Islamists are waging an increasingly virulent insurgency, particularly in their southern heartland, where attacks and threats helped limit turnout in some provinces such as Kandahar to ten percent or less.

Almost 200 violent incidents around the first vote were attributed to the Taliban, including amputations of fingers marked with purple ink as proof of voting, and rocket and grenade attacks on polling stations.

Full Report at: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow/msid-5157324,prtpage-1.cms

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UN nuclear inspectors leave for Iran

PTI 24 October 2009

VIENNA: Four inspectors of the UN International Atomic Energy Agency left Vienna on Saturday for Tehran to visit Iran's controversial second uranium enrichment plant, journalists at the airport reported.

They are due to visit the site near the holy city of Qom tomorrow, two days after Tehran postponed its response to a UN deal on supplying the Islamic republic with nuclear fuel.

Media reports said the team will spend three days in the country to inspect the facility being built inside a mountain some 100 kilometres south of the capital.

Tehran's disclosure of the new plant to the IAEA on September 21 triggered widespread global outrage, with US President Barack Obama warning Iran would face "increased pressure" if it does not come clean on its nuclear activities.

IAEA chief Mohamed ElBaradei criticised Tehran for what he said was its late disclosure of the facility's existence.

The inspection has gained further significance after Tehran delayed yesterday its response to an IAEA deal under which Iran would ship its existing stock of low-enriched uranium to Russia.

As the inspectors were leaving, Iran's parliament speaker Ali Larijani accused Western powers of trying to "cheat" Tehran through the deal.

Source: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow/msid-5157623,prtpage-1.cms

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October 24, 2009

Palestinians Now Have Voting Date, but No Unity

By ISABEL KERSHNER

RAMALLAH, West Bank — The Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, issued a decree on Friday for presidential and parliamentary elections to be held on Jan. 24. The move resolved an immediate constitutional crisis, but created new complications and underscored the depth of the Palestinian political divide.

Mr. Abbas, who leads Fatah, the mainstream nationalist party, had been hoping to put off the elections until June, to be held in the framework of an Egyptian-brokered reconciliation agreement with the rival Islamic group Hamas. But Hamas has so far refused to sign the accord.

In the absence of an agreement, Mr. Abbas was obliged to call the election three months before the current Parliament ended its four-year term, as required by the Palestinian basic law.

The last parliamentary elections were held on Jan. 26, 2006, and were won by Hamas. The Islamic group went on to seize control of Gaza in mid-2007, routing pro-Fatah forces there and confining the power of Mr. Abbas and his Western-backed Palestinian Authority to the West Bank.

The decree issued by Mr. Abbas, who was elected to the presidency in 2005, specifies that the elections will be held in Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza. But it is highly unlikely that a vote can take place in Gaza without Hamas’s consent, and many Palestinians strongly oppose the idea of holding elections only in Jerusalem and the West Bank.

Full Report at: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/24/world/middleeast/24mideast.html?ref=middleeast&pagewanted=print

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October 24, 2009

Iran Is Said to Arrest Wives of Many Prominent Detainees

By NAZILA FATHI

Iranian authorities arrested the wives and family members of a number of high-profile political detainees at a religious ceremony in Tehran, several reformist Web sites reported Friday.

The raid happened Thursday after the family members of one detainee, Shahab Tabatabee, announced on the Web site Norooz News that they were holding a prayer ceremony for his release. Mr. Tabatabee, a member of the reformist party Islamic Iran Participation Front, was sentenced to five years in prison last week.

The police raided the ceremony at a private home a few minutes after it began, according to a relative of some of the people who were arrested.

Officers arrested nearly all the guests except for several young women who were attending with infants and toddlers.

There were conflicting reports on the Web sites as to the number arrested. The relative, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said 60 people had been arrested, which would make it the largest mass arrest in recent months.

Two senior clerics, Grand Ayatollah Hussein Ali Montazeri and Grand Ayatollah Yousef Sanei, denounced the raid, opposition Web sites reported. At least three opposition Web sites reported the arrests, each citing witnesses.

The wife of Abdullah Ramezanzadeh, a prominent prisoner who was the government spokesman under former President Mohammad Khatami, and the wives of several former members of Parliament were among the detainees.

Full Report at: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/24/world/middleeast/24iran.html?ref=middleeast

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October 24, 2009

NATO Ministers Endorse Wider Afghan Effort

By THOM SHANKER and MARK LANDLER

BRATISLAVA, Slovakia — Defense ministers from NATO on Friday endorsed the ambitious counterinsurgency strategy for Afghanistan proposed by Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, giving new impetus to his recommendation to pour more troops into the eight-year-old war.

General McChrystal, the senior American and allied commander in Afghanistan, made an unannounced appearance here on Friday to brief the defense ministers on his strategic review of a war in which the American-led campaign has lost momentum to a tenacious Taliban insurgency.

“What we did today was to discuss General McChrystal’s overall assessment, his overall approach, and I have noted a broad support from all ministers of this overall counterinsurgency approach,” said NATO’s secretary general, Anders Fogh Rasmussen.

The acceptance by NATO defense ministers of General McChrystal’s approach did not include a decision on new troops, and it was not clear that their judgment would translate into increased willingness by their governments, many of which have been seeking to reduce their military presence in Afghanistan, to contribute further forces to the war.

But it was another in a series of judgments that success there could not be achieved by a narrower effort that did not increase troop levels in Afghanistan substantially and focused more on capturing and killing terrorists linked to Al Qaeda — a counterterrorism strategy identified with Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr.

Full Report at: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/24/world/europe/24nato.html?ref=world

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Strong quake hits off Indonesia

A magnitude 7.0 earthquake has hit deep under the sea off Indonesia's coast, the US Geological Survey (USGS) says.

The quake was reported in the Banda Sea, near the Maluku islands to the east of East Timor.

It struck at 2340 local time (1440 GMT) at a depth of 92 miles (148km), USGS said. Indonesian authorities issued, but later withdrew, a tsunami alert.

Indonesia sits on the Pacific Ring of Fire, one of the world's most active areas for earthquakes and volcanoes.

It has recently been struck by string of deadly earthquakes. In September, dozens were killed by a tremor off Java, while a quake which hit Sumatra left more than 1,000 people dead.

According the the USGS, Saturday's earthquake struck 138 miles (222km) from Saumlaki, in Indonesia's Tanimbar islands.

Indonesian authorities put the quake's magnitude at 7.3.

People in the area reportedly ran to higher ground after they felt the tremor, though there was no immediate news of injuries or damage.

Full Report at: http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/2/hi/asia-pacific/8324031.stm

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Israel debates response to Gaza report

By Heather Sharp

Support is growing within Israel for the launch of an independent inquiry into alleged war crimes committed during its offensive in Gaza last winter.

Last week the UN Human Right's Council voted to back the controversial Goldstone report, which calls on Israel and Hamas to mount credible investigations within six months.

Deputy Prime Minister and Intelligence Minister Dan Meridor added his voice on Wednesday to calls by the attorney general, and what officials say is pressure from the justice and foreign ministries, to establish a commission of inquiry.

This does not mean such figures depart from the widespread view in Israel that the report was a flawed, biased, politically motivated attempt to discredit it - a "kangaroo court", as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu put it.

Rather, it should be seen as some members of the Israeli government now considering their next defensive steps, after the failure of an intensive diplomatic campaign to stop the HRC even voting on the Goldstone report.

International jurist Richard Goldstone's report recommends that if Israel and Hamas do not conduct credible investigations of their own within six months, the issue should be referred to the UN Security Council, which has the power to open a war crimes prosecution at the International Criminal Court.

The Israeli military has opened about 100 investigations, of which about 20 are criminal, but Mr Goldstone and many human rights organisations have said it is insufficient for the military to investigate itself.

Full Report at: http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/2/hi/middle_east/8322584.stm

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Protesters urge end to Afghan war

Soldiers and military families were among 5,000 protesters in London demonstrating against UK military operations in Afghanistan.

The Stop the War Coalition says it was the first march against the Afghan war since the conflict began in 2001.

L/Cpl Joe Glenton, of York, who faces a court martial for refusing to return to Afghanistan, led the protest march.

The government said Afghanistan must become "stable and secure" before Nato forces could pull out.

'Disobeying orders'

The death of British corporal James Oakland, of the Royal Military Police, in a blast on Thursday took the number of UK personnel killed in Afghanistan since 2001 to 222.

The protesters gathered at Speakers' Corner, in Hyde Park. They then set off for Trafalgar Square, where speakers including MP George Galloway and campaigner Tariq Ali addressed the crowd.

The Metropolitan Police estimated that 5,000 people took part.

Some of the crowds chanted "Gordon Brown, terrorist" while others sang "What do we want? Troops out".

L/Cpl Glenton told the BBC it had been "touch and go" whether he would be arrested by military police for taking part.

Full Report at: http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/2/hi/uk_news/8323163.stm

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Europe criticised on Iraqi asylum

The United Nations refugee agency has criticised European countries for sending asylum seekers back to central Iraq, an area it considers unsafe.

It said people fleeing the region needed international protection because of security concerns and what it called "serious human rights abuses".

The call from the UN High Commissioner for Refugees came after Britain tried to deport 44 men to Baghdad.

Denmark and Sweden were also cited as having forced Iraqi refugees to return.

Of the asylum seekers sent back by the UK government on 16 October 2009, 10 were admitted but the rest were refused re-entry and flown back to Britain.

They are being held in immigration centres near Gatwick airport.

The UNHCR was set up in 1950 to oversee the protection of refugees and to try to address causal problems.

Source: http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/2/hi/middle_east/8323045.stm

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Abbas sets Palestinian polls date

Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas has announced that presidential and parliamentary elections will be held on 24 January.

His office said in a statement that the polls would take place across the Palestinian territories, including the rival Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip.

Mr Abbas's Fatah faction, which runs the West Bank, has so far failed to reach a reconciliation with Hamas.

The Palestinian leader's presidential term expired earlier this year.

Hamas officials said Mr Abbas's election call would deepen divisions between their faction and Fatah.

"This is an illegal and unconstitutional step because Abu Mazen's [Mr Abbas's] tenure is over and he has no right to issue any decree concerning this," Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhum told AFP news agency.

Hamas won a landslide victory in the last parliamentary elections in 2006.

A bitter power struggle between Fatah and Hamas ensued, and in 2007 Hamas staged a violent takeover of Gaza.

Full Report at: http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/2/hi/middle_east/8323497.stm

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 Iran delays reply on nuclear plan

Iran will respond to a proposed deal on its controversial nuclear programme by the middle of next week, it has told the UN's atomic energy agency.

Agency chief Mohammed ElBaradei said he hoped the answer would be "positive".

The UN watchdog had suggested exporting most of Iran's enriched uranium to Russia and France for further refining.

The proposal followed talks between the UN, Iran, France, Russia and the US. Friday was set as the deadline for a response from Tehran.

The draft deal, agreed by the US, France and Russia, was prompted by concern over Iran's nuclear programme.

'New conditions'

"Iran informed the Director General today that it is considering the proposal in depth and in a favourable light, but needs time until the middle of next week to provide a response," the IAEA said in a statement.

ANALYSIS

BBC Tehran correspondent Jon Leyne Iran is giving extremely mixed messages over this important deal and has missed a deadline from the UN to give its verdict. Either Tehran is playing for time or there are genuine differences within the Iranian government.

At one stage Iranian state TV said Tehran could not accept a key part of the agreement, shipping the nuclear material out of the country.

Full Report at: http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/2/hi/middle_east/8322901.stm

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Jewish-Arab crime film captures tensions

By Heather Sharp

"Where were you? Where were you?," screams the veiled woman on the screen, before breaking into heaving sobs.

She has already lost one son to drug-related gang violence and the other is late home.

"I was really crying, I wasn't acting," says Nisrin Rihan, one of the non-professional actors catapulted into the international limelight by the film Ajami.

“Revenge is the problem - when someone gets killed it just goes on and on ”

Awad Katta Ajami student

Next year, the gritty tale about mafia-style murders will become the first Arabic language film to represent Israel at the Oscars.

Like Ms Rihan, who has lost three relatives to gang crime, most of its actors are locals with first-hand experience of the sprawling, scruffy streets of Ajami, a former slum in the port city of Jaffa.

Impoverished Israeli Arabs shooting one another in the shadow of the gleaming towers of Tel Aviv is far from Israel's preferred international image.

And the aggressive police and brutal killing of a Jewish character shows a dark underside to the ideal of coexistence sometimes touted in mixed Jewish-Arab areas like Jaffa.

But many Israeli film critics and cinema-goers are nevertheless gushing over the film, shot in an intense, documentary style.

Full Report at: http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/2/hi/middle_east/8317049.stm

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Al Jazeera journalists detained in Zimbabwe

Al Jazeera journalists were assaulted and briefly detained in Zimbabwean while covering a cabinet meeting after Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai's boycott, Reporters Without Borders said on Thursday.

According to the global media freedom organisation, cameraman Austin Gundani and reporter Haru Mutasa were assaulted and held for three hours, on October 20 while working outside parliament.

"Gundani had been filming the arrival of Zimbabwean ministers at the offices of President Mugabe when he was brutally arrested," the organisation said in a statement.

"The two journalists were then locked up in a cell and interrogated."

Thembisa Fakude, Al Jazeera executive director in Johannesburg confirmed the detentions and said it was not the first time that their reporters had been arrested in Zimbabwe.

Full Report at: http://www.hindustantimes.com/StoryPage/Print/468110.aspx

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Afghans oppose U.S. hit list of drug traffickers

PUBLIC OUTRAGE FEARED Justice system will be undermined, officials say

By Craig Whitlock, October 24, 2009

KABUL -- A U.S. military hit list of about 50 suspected drug kingpins is drawing fierce opposition from Afghan officials, who say it could undermine their fragile justice system and trigger a backlash against foreign troops.

The U.S. military and NATO officials have authorized their forces to kill or capture individuals on the list, which was drafted within the past year as part of NATO's new strategy to combat drug operations that finance the Taliban. The list is thought to include people with close ties to the Afghan government and others who have served as intelligence assets for the CIA and the U.S. military, according to current and former U.S. and Afghan officials.

Afghan counternarcotics officials expressed frustration that U.S. and NATO military leaders have refused to divulge the names on the list, a decision that they said could undercut joint operations to hunt down opium traffickers.

Gen. Mohammad Daud Daud, Afghanistan's deputy interior minister for counternarcotics efforts, praised U.S. and British special forces for their help recently in destroying drug labs and stashes of opium. But he said he worried that foreign troops would now act on their own to kill suspected drug lords, based on secret evidence, instead of handing them over for trial.

"They should respect our law, our constitution and our legal codes," Daud said. "We have a commitment to arrest these people on our own."

For years, the NATO-led military coalition in Afghanistan ignored the opium trade, saying their mission was to fight the Taliban and al-Qaeda, not drug dealers. Afghanistan's poppy fields supply about 90 percent of the world's opium.

At a meeting in Budapest last October, however, NATO defense ministers reversed their strategy and authorized their forces to confiscate narcotics and target drug labs as well as kingpins who provide monetary or other support to the Taliban.

Full Report at: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/10/23/AR2009102303709_pf.html

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Suicide bomber kills 7 at Pakistani air force complex

Attack is followed by two others elsewhere in the country

By Haq Nawaz Khan and Shaiq Hussain

October 24, 2009

ISLAMABAD, PAKISTAN -- A suicide attack at Pakistan's main air force maintenance and research facility Friday killed at least seven people and injured 13, the latest in a string of insurgent assaults on the country's security forces.

The attack at the Pakistan Aeronautical Complex, which was carried out by a bomber riding a bicycle, was one of three blasts that killed at least 23 people and injured at least 28 across the country Friday, police said. It occurred as the Pakistani army completed the first week of an offensive to flush Taliban forces from the tribal region of South Waziristan, where officials say the recent wave of attacks has been planned.

"The stakes have become higher, and consequently we are witnessing this surge in acts of terrorism," said a statement from the office of Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gillani, who convened a meeting of top military and civilian officials Friday in Islamabad, the capital.

 The morning attack at the aeronautical complex in Kamra, about 40 miles northwest of Islamabad, took place at an outer checkpost, said Fakhar Sultan, a local police official.

That was followed by a car bombing that injured 15 people outside an upscale restaurant in the northwestern city of Peshawar. Later, at least 16 people were killed in the Mohmand tribal region when the bus in which they were traveling to a wedding struck a roadside bomb planted by insurgents, a provincial official said.

Full Report at: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/10/23/AR2009102303966_pf.html

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Pakistan 'must act' on Iran rebels

Jundollah reportedly claimed responsibility for the Sistan-Baluchestan bombing, which killed 47 people

Iran has called for Pakistan to crack down on a Sunni Muslim group behind a suicide attack in Iran's Sistan-Baluchestan region.

Mostafa Mohammad Najjar, Iran's interior minister, arrived

in neighbouring Pakistan on Friday to meet Rehman Malik, his Pakistani counterpart, as he called for the leader of the Sunni Muslim Jundollah group to be handed over.

Jundollah, or the "Soldiers of God", has reportedly claimed it carried out a bombing that killed 42 people in the city of Pisheen this week,

Iran says the group which is led by Abd ul-Malik Rigi, has bases in Pakistan.

"We have documents that show Rigi travels readily to Pakistan ... we are here to ask Pakistan to hand over Rigi to Iran," Najjar told state television in Pakistan.

"It [sheltering Rigi] is not in the interest of the two countries' good neighbourly relations."

Full Report at: http://english.aljazeera.net/news/asia/2009/10/2009102316564333345.html

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