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Islamic World News ( 6 Jan 2010, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Lucknow: Deobandi and Barelvi Sunni sects battle over religious sites

Shia graves bring out Iran-Saudi friction

Malaysian Polygamy Club Draws Criticism

Malaysia Islamic party approves Christian use of 'Allah'

Malaysia word row spills on to Facebook

Kasmir Chief Minister Omar wins many laurels but still has miles to go

BJP burns Saghir report copies in Jammu

Quota on religious lines unconstitutional: Rajnath

Pak can't be threatened by Indian Army: Qureshi

Suicide bomb in Russia's Dagestan follows strike on Al Qaeda

Kerala High Court restraint on Islamic banking firm operations

US toughens air screening rules

Egypt's steel wall to seal Gaza tunnels

Qaida, Colombia rebels biz partners

Yemen steps up raids, US opens mission

Uncompromising Hindutva’ on agenda, Kalyan launches party

Fake rupee arrests in Nepal confirm Pakistan link

Pakistani sentenced in US for creating fake identity

Israeli incursion into Palestinian village

US Embassy open as Yemen hits Al-Qaeda

Why is Pak President Asif Zardari so paranoid?

Zardari: Kashmir vital for regional peace

Cop killed, three injured in Kashmir attack

Plot thickens: Bomber at CIA base was a triple agent

Obama to unveil anti-terror reforms

NEW DELHI: Israel NSA on hush-hush visit

Omar wants govt to hold talks on J&K autonomy

Eliminate extremist ideologies: Manmohan

Rights of Kashmiris suppressed: Zardari

New pipeline to boost Turkmen gas sales to Iran

Yemen launches offensive against al Qaeda

Pakistan court rejects acquittal plea for Lakhvi, six others

Afghans answer call to fight

Europe's Fear of Islam

How terrorists are winning

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau

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Lucknow: Deobandi and Barelvi Sunni sects battle over religious sites

Manjari Mishra | TNN


Lucknow: The age-old animosity between Deobandi and Barelvi schools of thought among Sunni Muslims resurfaced in Uttar Pradesh with moderate Barelvis serving an ultimatum to hardline Deobandis to give up control over Muslim religious places during a Sunni conference.

The fight is over control of over a lakh madrassas, dargahs, graveyards and other monuments. Under the control of the Sunni Waqf board, these properties in UP alone are worth at least Rs 10,000 crore. The figure would be substantially higher if properties in Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Punjab, West Bengal, Bihar, MP and Chhattisgarh were to be included.

A demand to free all ‘idaaras’ (religious places) from ‘wahabis’ — read Deobandis — was raised at the conference hosted by All-India Ulema Mashaikh Board in Moradabad last Sunday. ‘13% minority hijacking all bodies’

Lucknow: Animosity between Deobandi and Barelvi schools of thought among Sunni Muslims resurfaced in UP with moderate Barelvis serving an ultimatum to hardline Deobandis to give up control over Muslim religious places during a Sunni conference.

General secretary of the board, Maulana Syed Mohammad Ashraf Kichowchhwi, accused the ‘‘13% minuscule, manipulative minority with hijacking all minorities bodies in UP and the national level’’.

Talking to TOI, Maulana Kichowchhwi said this was a fight between moderates and hardliners. ‘‘Since the latter do not have faith in patron saints of ‘dargah’ or ‘mazar’ and have condemned the practice, logically they must not be considered for management of Ajmer Sharif or Deva Sharif. The government must ensure that the chairperson and members of the Sunni Waqf Board come from among 80% of the population of moderate Muslims who follow the Sufi tradition,’’ he said. The Sunni Conference, a Deobandi cleric said, could be just a pressure tactic to influence the Mayawati government.


Shia graves bring out Iran-Saudi friction

Medina, January 05, 2010

At the cemetery where the Prophet Muhammad’s family is buried, an Iranian Shia Muslim pilgrim overcome with emotion was jerked by a Saudi soldier, who barked a sharp order: “Stop crying!”

The soldier, a gun at his hip, then hovered over the pilgrim as he wrapped up his prayers to make sure he didn’t start weeping again.

The Baqee cemetery is where the bitter rivalry between Sunni powerhouse Saudi Arabia and Shiite Iran gets personal.

Iranians and other Shias flock to the graves to pay respects to several revered descendants of Islam’s prophet, while Saudi soldiers and morality police try to prevent dramatic displays of fervent praying or weeping.

Shias’ prayer books are snatched away, they are ordered to read only Saudi-approved verses written on billboards at the site, and groups of worshippers are broken up.

Part of the reason for the heavy restrictions is religious.

Saudi Arabia’s strict version of Sunni Islam, called Wahhabism, considers customs like crying — or even praying — at gravesites and revering saints repugnant because it smacks of idolatry. In fact, many Wahhabi clerics consider Shias heretics. But beyond the religious practices lies politics.

The two countries have been locked in a struggle for influence across the Middle East.

Saudi forces have been fighting for more than a month with Shia rebels on the border with Yemen who it claims are backed by Tehran. The kingdom accuses Iran of fueling conflicts in Lebanon, the Palestinian territories and Iraq with its support for militant groups.

Saudi Arabia, an oil-rich U.S. ally, also appears increasingly worried over Iran’s nuclear standoff with the West.

Mahdi Habibolahi, an Iranian who visited the Baqee after performing his hajj pilgrimage last month, sees a message in the harassment he and fellow Shias face. “Maybe they want to give us a warning, that you are different you should be careful, you shouldn’t interfere (in the region’s politics),’’ said Habibolahi, an English teacher.

The Baqee is on a large piece of land in front of the mosque that encloses the Prophet’s tomb in Medina.


MALAYSIA Islamic party approves Christian use of 'Allah'

January 5, 2010  |

BANGKOK (UCAN) -- Malaysia's main opposition Islamic party has given its blessing to Christians using the word "Allah" for God, despite strong opposition in other Muslim circles.

A section of the ‘Herald’ website

The High Court in Kuala Lumpur on Dec. 31 overturned a government ban on non-Muslim publications using the word.

"The use of the word Allah by the people of the Abrahamic faiths such as Christianity and Judaism is acceptable," PAS (Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party) declared Jan. 5 on its website.

But the word "must not be misused or abused or it will affect racial and religious harmony in the country," the statement cautioned.

"PAS strongly objects to any aggressive and provocative approach that can lead to tension in society."

Other Islamic groups have not been so accommodating.

A Facebook group opposed to the practice has attracted more than 60,000 hits, and many personal blogs written by Malaysians are abuzz over the issue.

Even former prime minister Mahathir Mohamad has entered the fray, saying "such a sensitive matter cannot be resolved by only referring to the law."

"Allah" is not an accurate translation for "God" in the Christian sense, he argued in his Malay-language blog.

However, his daughter Marina Mahathir, a social activist, wrote in her blog that "a confident Muslim never gets confused over which is his/her religion and which is other people's."

Prominent Islamic scholar Mohammad Asri Zainul Abidin called for guidelines on the use of the word "Allah" by non-Muslims.

The lecturer of Islamic studies at Universiti Sains Malaysia (Malaysian University of Science) in Penang and former mufti (interpreter or expounder of Islamic law) of Perlis state outlined his suggestions in his Malay-language blog.

"Allah" should be used only to refer to the one true God and no other deity, he insisted. No one should use the word "Allah" to insult Islam or to manipulate Islamic teachings, he added.

In interactions between Muslims and people of other religions, the word "Allah" should be used in a respectful way that glorifies God, the scholar continued.

He also referred to a statement he had made in his blog in the past: "Contesting the name of God is not the need of the day, but rather a movement to build up the faith and improve the welfare of the people."

The High Court in Kuala Lumpur made its decision in a case brought by the national Catholic weekly "Herald." The weekly had sought to overturn a government ban on its use of "Allah" to refer to God in its Malay-language section.

The Home Ministry on Jan. 4 lodged an appeal against the ruling.

The government and some Muslim groups have maintained that allowing religions other than Islam to use the word "Allah" would confuse Muslims.


Malaysia word row spills on to Facebook

Razak Ahmad


Jan. 4: More than 43,000 Malaysians protested online over a court ruling allowing a Catholic paper to use the word "Allah" to describe the Christian God, signalling growing Islamic anger in this mostly Muslim Southeast Asian country.

A group page on social networking site Facebook was drawing 1,500 new supporters an hour on Monday as last week’s court ruling split political parties and even families.

Among those who signed up for the protest were deputy trade minister Mukhriz Mahathir, the son of Malaysia’s longest serving PM, Mahathir Moha-mmed, while Mr Mahathir’s daughter Marina called critics of the court decision "idiots" in her weblog (

The government said on Monday it had filed an appeal against the court ruling amid concerns the issue could cause religious and racial conflict in this country of 28 million which has large Christian, Buddhist and Hindu minorities.

"The problem is that there will be lots of doctrines and principles promoted that would totally contradict Islamic theology... there is a danger to public order here," said Shad Saleem Faruqi, a constitutional law lecturer with Universiti Tekonologi Malaysia.

The Facebook page, named in Malay as "Protesting the use of the name Allah by non-Muslims", said that the group was for Muslims "who realise that this is propaganda to confuse Muslims now and in future".

The Catholic Church, which publishes a Malay version of its newspaper, the Herald, says that it uses the word "Allah" for the Christian God to meet the needs of its Malay-speaking worshippers on the island of Borneo.

"There should not be a cause for concern because some people have got the idea that we are out to convert (Muslims), but not at all, there is no question of this," Father Lawrence Andrew, the newspaper’s editor, said. The ruling by the Kuala Lumpur high court followed a ban imposed by the government on the weekly Herald in January 2009 over the use of the word "Allah" by Christians. The government had argued that the use of the Arabic word might offend the sensitivities of Muslims .



Malaysian Polygamy Club Draws Criticism


January 6, 2010


KUALA LUMPUR — Rohaya Mohamad, 44, is an articulate, bespectacled medical doctor who studied at a university in Wales. Juhaidah Yusof, 41, is a shy Islamic studies teacher and mother of eight. Kartini Maarof, 41, is a divorce lawyer and Rubaizah Rejab, a youthful-looking 30-year-old woman, teaches Arabic at a private college.

The lives of these four women are closely entwined — they take care of each others’ children, cook for each other and share a home on weekends.

They also share a husband.

The man at the center of this matrimonial arrangement is Mohamad Ikram Ashaari, the 43-year-old stepson of Hatijah Aam, 54, a Malaysian woman who in August established a club to promote polygamy.

“Men are by nature polygamous,” said Dr. Rohaya, Mr. Ikram’s third wife, flanked by the other three women and Mr. Ikram for an interview on a recent morning. The women were dressed in ankle-length skirts, their hair covered by tudungs, the Malaysian term for headscarf. “We hear of many men having the ‘other woman,’ affairs and prostitution because for men, one woman is not enough. Polygamy is a way to overcome social ills such as this.”

The Ikhwan Polygamy Club is managed by Global Ikhwan, a company whose businesses include bread and noodle factories, a chicken-processing plant, pharmacies, cafes and supermarkets. Mr. Ikram is a director of the company.

While polygamy is legal in predominantly Muslim Malaysia, the club has come under fire from the government and religious leaders, who suspect it may be an attempt to revive Al-Arqam, a defunct Islamic movement headed by Mrs. Hatijah’s husband, Mr. Ashaari Mohamad, who is the founder and owner of Global Ikhwan. Al-Arqam was banned in 1994 for “deviant” religious teachings.

The club denies allegations that it is trying to revive Al-Arqam, and says that the aim of the club is to help single mothers and women past “marrying age” find husbands.

The Ikhwan Polygamy Club says it has 1,000 members across Malaysia, Indonesia, Australia, Singapore, Thailand, the Middle East and Europe. It recently started a branch in Bandung, Indonesia, and plans to open another one in Jakarta. Most of the members are employees of Global Ikwan or former members of Al-Arqam.

Full report at:



Kasmir Chief Minister Omar wins many laurels but still has miles to go

5 Jan, 2010

when Omar Abdullah took of office and became the youngest Chief Minister of Jammu & Kashmir, his father Dr Farooq Abdullah had dedicated a famous song, 'Papa kehtain hain bada naam karega' to his dutiful son while wishing him luck.

Though one year is very less time to judge the performance of any Chief Minister, it is a crucial phase for any popular leader to set the pace for reform measures and leave behind his stamp of authority.

Omar's 12 months in office were marred by many ups and downs. As a politician, Omar may take some more time to mature fully but he has to fulfill the expectations of his esteemed father and grandfather.

In the initial months, all was smooth sailing but then sex taint allegations hit the floor of the House. However, Omar weathered the storm and came out with a clean chit from the CBI. After a brief lull, the Shopian rape and murder case tested his nerves and virtually disgraced his administration for a series of goof-ups. Although Omar himself issued contradictory statements to defend his Government, separatist forces have yet to win that battle.

Even as he prayed, the realist in Omar campaigned for thinning down troops in safer areas across the State and advocated a greater role for the State police. As a team member, he decided to stand by the assessment of the Union Home and Defence Ministers on the security situation.

As a diplomat, he lent all his support to the Union Government -- to open doors for dialogue with separatist forces -- and the idea of quiet diplomacy.

As chairman of the unified command, he adopted policy of zero tolerance to human rights violation yet came under attack from the opposition parties for failing to check growing atrocities on the local population. In the end, however, 2009 was regarded as the 'golden year' in the 20-year period of militancy in the State. Almost all parameters of militant-related violence came down drastically during the year as security forces broke the backbone of militancy by eliminating many of their commanders.

Full report at:



BJP burns Saghir report copies in Jammu

5 Jan, 2010

The State unit of the BJP on Monday organised a series of protests across Jammu province by burning copies of the report submitted by Justice (retd) S Saghir Ahmad which had earlier proposed autonomy for J&K.

These token protests were led by several senior state BJP leaders at various places.

State BJP Chief Ashok Khajuria, led the party workers and BJP supporters in old city area of Jammu while leader of the BJP legislature party Prof Chaman Lal Gupta led protestors at Janipur and Talab Tillo. The party leaders, while rejecting the report, said Justice Saghir Ahmed had prepared the report on the dictates of the National Conference. "Justice Ahmed has worked as a mere scribe of NC and the same is clear from the fact that it is a reworded Autonomy manifesto of NC and was submitted, instead of PM, to Jammu and Kashmir CM & NC leader Omar Abdullah, who later handed over it to the Prime Minister, as if it was a National Conference document," a BJP leader alleged.

The party said the document was not a report based on judicial consideration of various opinions -- that were submitted to it by the people of Jammu and Ladakh -- but pandered only to the whims and aspirations of a section of Kashmir-based elements.

The BJP appealed to the Prime Minister to reject the report as it had not dealt with the Centre-State relationship aspect and was anti-Jammu and Ladakh, anti-national and one-sided. They declared that the party would undertake different democratic modes in the coming days against the report and not rest till it was totally rejected.

Similar protests were held across Udhampur, Reasi, Kathua, Ramban, Kishtwar, Bhaderwah, Samba, RS Pura and Akhnoor.



Quota on religious lines unconstitutional: Rajnath

5 Jan, 2010

Hitting out at the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance Government for speaking in favour of separatist forces, former Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) chief Rajnath Singh said that the Government should not accept the Ranganath Mishra Commission report and allow reservation on religious lines "as it would be unconstitutional".

"If the Government accepts the Mishra Commission report it would be a sort of harakiri as this step would whip up separatist sentiments in the country," Singh said demanding that the report should be done away with straightaway.

"The report, which had suggested curtailing the reservation to the Schedule Castes, Schedule Tribes and Other Backward Castes while giving reservation to minorities, would lead to increased disparity and disharmony among various religions and castes.

his would also give a fillip to conversions," he said.

Singh added that reservation on the basis of religion should be vehemently opposed and how could the Centre speak in favour of a step that was unconstitutional.

Addressing mediapersons in Lucknow, Singh said that the Government required redefining the minority in this country. "The country wants to know whether Christians can enjoy minority status in northeast despite this community being in a majority there, he said.

Drawing a parallel with Muslim Leagues' Peerpur Resolution in 1937, the BJP leader said that it favoured division of country into India and Pakistan on religious lines and the Mishra Commission report was also a fresh attempt in this direction.

On spiralling price rise, Singh said: "Prices of essential commodities have gone skyward while the Centre has been a mute spectator. This could lead to a food riot."

He also said that the Centre has failed to tackle the Kashmir situation and its decision to withdraw military could boomerang. When asked about Kalyan Singh's possible return to the party, Singh said that the decision had to be taken by national leadership in consultation with the State unit.


Pak can't be threatened by Indian Army: Qureshi

Farzand Ahmed

January 4, 2010

Pakistan's Foreign Minister Shah Mohammad Qureshi on Monday morning described Indian Army Chief Gen Deepak Kapoor's reported statement that the Indian army is ready to battle Pakistan and China at the same time, as "irresponsible" and said "Pakistan could not be threatened by the statement by Indian Army Chief".

Leading daily The Nation quoting a Private TV Channel said the Foreign Minister told media persons in Karachi the government did not believe in sensationalism and always looked for forming good ties with the neighbouring country.

The Foreign Minister said that Pakistan stressed to maintain peace in the region, adding that India itself has asserted progress in the stalked dialogue process of late.

The FM said that Pakistan's foreign policy is very clear and called to restart result-oriented composite dialogue with India. He noted the sacrifices made by nation in war on terror. He added that Pakistan People's Party always did politics of reconciliation and therefore made alliance with PML-N and MQM.

Earlier Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee Chairman Gen Tariq Majeed warned that "any misadventure against Pakistan will be a strategic mistake and amount to putting itself on the road to destruction".

He, however, had expressed doubt about the statement attributed to Gen Kapoor, saying he could not be so "outlandish in strategic postulations to put India on a self-destructive path".


Suicide bomb in Russia's Dagestan follows strike on Al Qaeda

The violence, which took place in the Muslim majority republic of Dagestan, underscores that an Islamist-led insurgency in the Caucasus area has escalated sharply, possibly threatening to penetrate the Russian heartland. Russian President Dmitri Medvedev has called it Russia’s single biggest domestic problem, according to Reuters.

The attack is also worrying because it seems to showcase yet again the capacity of Al Qaeda’s affiliates to strike targets around the globe.

For the past decade, Russia has struggled to contain flaring uprisings in its Muslim majority North Caucasus republics, namely Chechnya, Ingushetia, and Dagestan. In those areas, poverty and strong-handed government crackdowns have created wide support for Islamist insurgents.

Dagestan, a mountainous republic rich in oil and gas reserves, is nestled on the Caspian Sea. Since the late 1990s it has been the staging ground for a growing conflict between government security forces and Islamist rebels clamoring for an independent state based on Islamic law, reports the BBC. (See map of the area from the BBC here.)

As yet, no group has claimed responsibility for Wednesday’s attack. But it may have been a retaliatory strike, coming close on the heels of a police raid conducted on New Year’s Eve. The raid, undertaken in Dagestan by members of Russia’s Federal Security Service, was significant because it helped underscore the seriousness of the problem: Among four militants killed was Umalat Magomedov, whom Al Qaeda had appointed as its Amir in Dagestan, reports RT, a Russian news service.

Mr. Magomedov’s group is held responsible for a bloody campaign of violence: In June, Dagestan’s Interior Minister was shot dead, while in the same month the president of the republic narrowly escaped a suicide attack on his motorcade, reports Russia’s Ria Novosti news outlet. In August, a suicide bombing at a police station in Ingushetia killed at least 24 people, while another suicide strike on a police station wounded 16 people in mid December, the Associated Press adds.

Full report at:


Kerala High Court restraint on Islamic banking firm operations


Swamy challenges Kerala sanction for registration of company

Kochi: The Kerala High Court on Tuesday directed the State government and the Kerala State Industrial Development Corporation (KSIDC) to ensure that a newly formed banking company, said to be based on Islamic principles, did not commence its operations until further orders. A Bench of Chief Justice S.R. Bannurmath and Justice Thottathil B. Radhakrishnan passed the interim direction on a public interest writ petition by Janata Party leader Subramanian Swamy challenging a government order according sanction for registration of the Islamic finance service company by the KSIDC.

Dr. Swamy argued that the government action was against the country’s secular principle and would lead to similar demands from other religions.

Counsel for the KSIDC said the company, already registered, would function not on the basis of Islamic laws but in accordance with the Companies Act and the Reserve Bank of India Act.

In its order, the Bench said the question whether the KSIDC was a company owned by the government required deeper consideration. It impleaded the Centre and the RBI as additional respondents to know their views in the case.

The court said no activity could be undertaken by the newly formed company in violation of the provisions of the Reserve Bank of India Act, the Banking Regulation Act and related laws.

According to Dr. Swamy, the setting up of a financial service company, with government participation, which would follow the canon of law of a particular religion was a clear instance of the state favouring a particular religion. It was clear from the order that the company was to be set up strictly in accordance with the Shariah. It also implied the setting up of a Shariah Advisory Board. It was stated in the order that the company’s chief executive officer was required to report to the Shariah board. This made it clear that the board would have some measure of supervision over the company.

Dr. Swamy said that as per the government order, 11 per cent of the equity would be held by the KSIDC. This showed the identification of the KSIDC with Islam. The setting up of a company with co-ownership of the state was “antithetical” to equal treatment of all religions. The Shariah-compliant operation of the company would also mean imposing prohibitions under the Shariah law.


US toughens air screening rules

Stepped-up screening targets fliers from 'terror-prone' lands

By Carol D. Leonnig

Washington Post Staff Writer

Monday, January 4, 2010

All travelers flying to the United States from other countries will face increased random screening, and all passengers from more than a dozen terrorism-prone nations will be patted down and have their carry-on bags searched, under new rules the Obama administration said will take effect Monday morning.

The changes greatly beef up screening standards for all U.S.-bound travelers and are in response to the attempted bombing of an airliner on Christmas Day. The Nigerian man suspected in the attack boarded an Amsterdam flight headed to Detroit. But in keeping with previous protocols, he and other passengers were screened by a magnetometer, which did not detect the explosives he was allegedly carrying in his underwear.

The Transportation Security Administration notified airline carriers Sunday of the changes for all flights entering the United States -- with an emphasis on a "full body pat-down and physical inspection of property" for all people who are citizens of or are flying through or from nations with significant terrorist activity. TSA officials declined to name all the "countries of interest" on Sunday, but confirmed that the directive applies to the State Department's list of state sponsors of terrorism.

The department's Web site lists Cuba, Iran, Sudan and Syria as state sponsors of terrorism. A senior administration official identified the following as terrorism-prone nations or countries of interest to U.S. intelligence agencies: Afghanistan, Algeria, Iraq, Lebanon, Libya, Nigeria, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Somalia and Yemen.

"Today, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) issued new security directives to all United States and international air carriers with inbound flights to the U.S. effective January 4, 2010," TSA spokesman Greg Soule said. "The new directive includes long-term sustainable security measures developed in consultation with law enforcement officials and our domestic and international partners."

Full report at:


Qaida, Colombia rebels biz partners

REUTERS 6 January 2010,

BOGOTA (COLOMBIA): Colombian guerrillas have entered into "an unholy alliance" with Islamic extremists who are helping the Marxist rebels smuggle

cocaine through Africa on its way to European consumers, a US official said.

Interdiction efforts have made it more difficult to send cocaine straight from Colombia and other Andean producer nations to the United States and Europe. So criminal organizations including the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or Farc, are going through Africa to access the European market. And they are doing it with the help of al-Qaida and other groups branded terrorists by Washington, according to the US Drug Enforcement Administration.

"In the mid to late 1990s when the Europeans became better at maritime interdiction, off the coasts of Portugal and Spain for example, traffickers started moving their routes southward. So the next progression was to Western Africa," said Jay Bergman, director for the Andean region of South America.

Three West African men accused of ties to al-Qaida were extradited to New York in December on drug trafficking and terrorism charges. It was the first time US authorities established a link suggesting al-Qaida is funding itself in part by providing security for drug smugglers in West Africa.

When sea interdictions step-ped up, traffickers started using planes to get to Africa. Most flights appear to take off from Venezuela, which shares a border with Colombia.


Yemen steps up raids, US opens mission

REUTERS 6 January 2010,

SANAA: Yemen launched a major offensive against al-Qaida and the US embassy in Sanaa reopened on Tuesday after security forces staged a raid just

outside the city that dealt with an imminent security threat.

Yemen has sent thousands of troops to take part in a campaign against al-Qaida in three provinces, and authorities have already detained five suspected fighters from the group, a security source said on Tuesday.

"The campaign is continuing in the capital and in the provinces of Shabwa and Maarib," the source said, on condition of anonymity. The manhunt was also going on in the southern province of Abyan. There were no further details.

The American embassy in Yemen reopened after a raid that killed two al-Qaida militants dealt with specific security concerns which had forced US and European missions to close, the embassy said. US secretary of state Hillary Clinton has said fighting in Yemen was a threat to regional and global stability.


Egypt's steel wall to seal Gaza tunnels

AP 6 January 2010, 12:19am IST

RAFAH (GAZA STRIP): A jackhammer pounded large steel beams side by side into the sandy soil on the Egyptian side of Gaza's border, putting in

place an underground wall that could shift the balance of power in this volatile area.

Once completed, the steel barrier would cut off blockaded Gaza's last lifeline and — by slicing through hundreds of smuggling tunnels under the nine-mile Gaza-Egypt border — could increase pressure on the territory's Hamas rulers to moderate.

The Islamic militants have so far shown little willingness to compromise in power-sharing talks with their Western-backed rivals or in negotiations on a prisoner swap with Israel. Their hold on Gaza is at least partly dependent on supplies and cash coming through the tunnels.

On Monday, workers operated huge machines just behind the Egyptian border line, offering a rare glimpse at what the wall is made of.

A drill pierced holes in the soil, a crane lifted steel beams into position and a jackhammer drove them into the ground as several workers could be seen welding.

Egyptian troops in four armored personnel carriers with mounted machine guns guarded the crew. In the past, shots were fired several times from Gaza at the workers, though no one has been hurt.

Full report at:


‘Uncompromising Hindutva’ on agenda, Kalyan launches party

Tarannum Manjul Posted online: Wednesday, Jan 06, 2010 at 0419 hrs

Lucknow : With BJP showing little interest in his return to the party fold, its former leader Kalyan Singh on Tuesday floated a new political outfit — Jan Kranti Party— on the occasion of his 77th birthday. His son Rajveer Singh is its national president.

Kalyan, who has designated himself as the chief patron, said the party’s core ideology would be Hindutva.

“This is new year, and I have a new party, new agenda, new jhanda (flag) and anushashan ka naya danda (new stick of discipline),” Kalyan told the mediapersons.

This is the second time that Kalyan — once projected as the hero of Ram Temple movement and counted among top rung leaders of the BJP — has launched a party. His earlier venture, Rashtriya Kranti Party, was launched in 1999 after he first broke away from the BJP, alleging that he was being sidelined by the high command.

He later returned to the BJP, only to leave it again in January last year and join hands with Samjawadi Party chief Mulayam Singh.

“I have formed this party with workers who wanted to work on the ideology which I subscribe to — the ideology of uncompromising Hindutva. And to give representation to the youth I have made Rajveer the national president,” said Kalyan, who will be visiting Ayodhya on Wednesday with his son and daughter-in-law.

Incidentally, Kalyan’s daughter-in-law Premlata is a BJP MLA. Asked if his wife, too, would join the new party, Rajveer said, “I am trying to convince her, but it will be on her own will.”

Kalyan said the party would also work for the welfare of rural poor, slum-dwellers and women empowerment. “There are workers from all over the state who have given their support to me and I and Raju (his son) will now be moving around the state to strengthen the party base. We also plan to contest all 403 seats in the next Assembly elections,” said Kalyan.

The party flag has a green strip between two saffron strips. “We have also applied for allotment of a symbol from the Election Commission. The available symbols are a glass, a charpai and basket,” said Rajveer.


Fake rupee arrests in Nepal confirm Pakistan link

Utpal Parashar, Hindustan Times

Email Author

Kathmandu, January 05, 2010

The arrest of a Nepali politician and two Pakistani nationals with fake Indian currency in the heart of Kathmandu during a New Year crackdown has re-confirmed the Pakistani link to the international racket.

The arrest of Yunus Ansari, chairman of Rastriya Janata Dal and son of former minister Salim Miyan Ansari by Nepal Police has been hailed as a major a major step in the drive against fake currency.

Although Ansari, his Nepali aide Kashi Ram Adhikari and Pakistani nationals Mohammad Iqbal and Sajjad Mohammad Khurram were arrested on Friday, the matter came to limelight when they were produced in court late on Sunday.

Nepal Police had been keeping a tab on Ansari following a request from India’s Central Bureau of Investigation after two Nepalis arrested in Madhya Pradesh with fake currency revealed the young politician was the main conduit for counterfeit notes in Nepal.

Ansari is alleged to have links with Pakistan’s ISI and is also stated to be underworld don Dawood Ibrahim’s main contact man in Nepal.

He is also stated to be associated to the Mumbai underworld.

Based on an intelligence tip-off, Ansari and Adhikari were arrested from a hotel room with fake Indian currency worth Rs 25.4 lakh.

They led the police to the two Pakistani nationals who were arrested from another hotel. Nearly 3.7 kg heroin were found in their possession. According to preliminary investigation, the fake currency notes are brought to Kathmandu from Karachi by air with help of conduits.


Pakistani sentenced in US for creating fake identity

Agencies Posted online: Wednesday, Jan 06, 2010

Washington : A Pakistani national has been sentenced to two years of probation by a US court for creating a fake identity by using a counterfeit passport to file an application for a social security card.

Amjad Iqbal, a citizen of Pakistan lawfully residing in Connecticut, had pleaded guilty.

According to court documents and statements made in court, on June 13, 2001, Iqbal, using a counterfeit Pakistani passport and Immigration and Naturalisation Employment Card in the name of Asif Ali, filed an application for a social security card.

Iqbal stated on his application to the Social Security District Office in Manhattan, New York that he had not received a social security number before, which was a material misrepresentation as he had previously received such a number in his own name.

Based upon his misrepresentation, the Commissioner of the Social Security Administration issued a social security number to him in the name of Asif Ali.

On February 3, 2006, Iqbal applied for a capital one platinum visa card in the name of Asif Ali. In the application, he used the social security number issued in the name of Asif that he fraudulently obtained in June 2001, the FBI said.


Israeli incursion into Palestinian village

Hisham Abu Taha | Arab News

6 January 2010

GAZA CITY: Israeli tanks along with bulldozers advanced into the Khuza village east of Khan Younis city in the southern Gaza Strip on Tuesday morning, witnesses said.

They said that four tanks and four bulldozers rolled into the eastern part of the village and started to raze farmlands while the residents and farm workers fled the marauding forces. No was reportedly injured during the incursion.

On Monday night, the Israeli warplanes carried out two separate air strikes on Palestinian fighters belonging to Abu Ali Mustafa brigades, the military wing of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, but no one was wounded, witnesses and official sources said.

In a statement, the group said their fighters fired a rocket-propelled grenade at an Israeli military watch-tower along the security fence in northern Gaza Strip.


US Embassy open as Yemen hits Al-Qaeda

Wednesday 6 Januar

SANAA: The US Embassy in Yemen reopened its doors Tuesday after a two-day closure, saying successful attacks on Al-Qaeda targets by Yemeni forces a day earlier had addressed concerns about a specific militant threat.

The Yemeni Interior Ministry, however, issued its own statement saying the security situation in the capital had always been under control, suggesting that the embassy closures had not been necessary to begin with.

The embassy said it shut down for two days because of information of an imminent Al-Qaeda attack, but government attacks on Monday had neutralized the threat. “Successful counter-terrorism operations conducted by government of Yemen security forces Jan. 4 north of the capital have addressed a specific area of concern, and have contributed to the embassy’s decision to resume operations,” the statement said.

The British embassy, meanwhile, also said it had reopened, though consular and visa services remain suspended.

Other Western embassies maintained heightened security profiles Tuesday, including the French and Czech embassies, which were operational but closed to the public, and the Spanish and German embassies, which were restricting the number of visitors. In a sign of possible dissatisfaction over the embassy closures, Yemen’s Interior Ministry issued a statement saying the situation was under control. “There is nothing to fear from any threats of terror attack,” the ministry said. “Security is good in the capital and the provinces, and there is no fear for the lives of any foreigner or foreign embassy.” Yemen has sent thousands of security forces to take part in a campaign against Al-Qaeda in three provinces, and authorities have detained five suspected fighters from the group, a security source said on Tuesday. “The campaign is continuing in the capital and in the provinces of Shabwa and Maarib,” the source said, speaking on customary condition of anonymity. The manhunt is also going on in the southern province of byan.Meanwhile, US senator John McCain warned Tuesday Al-Qaeda is increasingly using Yemen as a base to launch attacks around the world, and called on Washington to help the Arab country expel the terror network. McCain and fellow US senator Joseph Lieberman, who both visited Yemen in August, told reporters on a one-day trip to Baghdad that the United States needed to help Yemen build up its economy. “We cannot allow Yemen to be a base for Al-Qaeda to mount attacks on other countries in the region as well as the United States,” said McCain, the Republican presidential candidate in 2008.

Lieberman said an American who was working in Yemen had warned him during the August visit that “Iraq was yesterday’s war, Afghanistan is today’s war and if do not act preemptively now, Yemen will be tomorrow’s war.”


Why is Pak President Asif Zardari so paranoid?


The Economist Posted online: Wednesday, Jan 06, 2010

Ever since pressure from the public and the army forced President Asif Zardari to reinstate Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry as Pakistan’s chief justice in March, he has looked rattled. Now he sounds almost unhinged. On December 27th, the second anniversary of the murder of his wife, Benazir Bhutto, a former prime minister, he accused “non-state actors” of wanting to break up Pakistan by pitting state institutions against each other.

He meant press commentary claiming that he is at odds with the powerful army over foreign policy and that his Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) government is tussling with the judiciary. He said the press had been giving “dates” for his downfall, but that he would not flee the country as predicted by his enemies. “I will stay in the presidency or go to jail,” he thundered.

The undignified outburst came at Naudero in Sindh province, the burial site of his wife and her similarly “martyred” father Zulfikar Ali Bhutto. Of late Mr Zardari has been playing the “Sindh card” by whipping up sub-nationalist sentiment against the “anti-PPP conspiracies” hatched in the dominant province, Punjab.

Mr Zardari has looked vulnerable since December 16th, when the Supreme Court struck down the National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO) promulgated by the previous president, Pervez Musharraf, in October 2007. This had afforded Mr Zardari and other PPP leaders amnesty from criminal proceedings in corruption cases.

Overnight, facing a clamour of resignation calls, senior government ministers had to scurry to the courts for bail before they were arrested. Mr Zardari enjoys presidential immunity from criminal, but not civil, action. The court’s judgment relies on hitherto unused Islamic provisions of the constitution to declare the NRO “immoral”. Similar devices may be used when the court starts hearing civil petitions to unseat Mr Zardari for “moral turpitude”.

Earlier, the government’s lawyer in the NRO case made the astonishing claim that army headquarters and the CIA were conspiring against the PPP government. Following an uproar, he retracted his comment. But senior army officers do not hide their contempt for Mr Zardari and America doubts the value of lending support to an increasingly isolated president.

Full report at:



Zardari: Kashmir vital for regional peace

Abu Arqam Naqash | Reuters

6 January 2010

MUZAFFARABAD: The settlement of a dispute between Pakistan and India over Kashmir is vital for regional peace, Pakistan’s president said on Tuesday as his government faces growing pressure to combat militancy.

President Asif Ali Zardari said regional peace was inextricably linked to the settlement of the decades-old dispute over the Muslim-majority Himalayan region of Kashmir, which both Pakistan and India claim in full but rule in part.

“As world attention is on Pakistan, then together with Pakistan, the world has to talk about the Kashmir problem as well because only then can peace be brought to the region,” Zardari said in a address to Pakistani Kashmir’s legislature.

“We cannot delink regional peace from peace in Kashmir...we have highlighted this thinking in the world and will keep projecting it.”

Zardari said Pakistan and India, which have fought three wars since their independence from British rule in 1947, should learn to live in peace.

“We know that we cannot change our neighbors but they should also know that they can also not change their neighbors.”

India, which rejects outside involvement in the Kashmir dispute, accuses Pakistan of arming and sending militants across the border to fight Indian rule in Kashmir.

Pakistan denies that, saying it only extends political, moral and diplomatic support to what it calls Kashmir’s freedom movement.

While India and Afghanistan accuse Pakistan of backing rebels fighting the Indian and Afghan governments, Pakistan says India and Afghanistan are helping separatist rebels in Pakistan’s gas-rich Baluchistan province.


Cop killed, three injured in Kashmir attack

PTI 6 January 2010,

SRINAGAR: A policeman was on Wednesday killed and three civilians were injured as terrorists struck in the heart of Srinagar, entering a hotel

The policeman, identified as Mohammed Yusuf who was posted as driver of the Station House Officer of Maisuma Police station, was killed during the attack, official sources said.

Three civilians, including Rauf, a cameraman of a Delhi-based private news channel, were also injured and have been rushed to a hospital, they said.

The terrorists are believed to be holed up in the hotel adjacent to historic Amira Kadal bridge in Lal Chowk area. The police had recently claimed that there had been a drop in militant violence.

Exchange of fire between the terrorists and the security personnel is continuing, the sources said. Grenade explosions and random gun-shots were heard, triggering panic among people.

The terrorists, believed to be "Fidayeen" (suicide squad), initially lobbed grenades on a CRPF picket at Pladium Chowk and followed it by indiscriminate firing around 2.15 pm.

The CRPF and police personnel deployed in the area retaliated and the militants, whose number could not be ascertained immediately, reportedly took shelter inside a hotel. They opened fire and lobbed grenades on the security forces.

The whole area was immediately cordoned off to neutralize the militants, a police officer said.

Immediately after the attack, people, including shopkeepers, present in the area fled to safety, while traffic went off the roads.

The entire area wore a deserted look with reinforcements rushing to the scene to tackle the situation arising out of the attack in the valley in more than two years.

The last suicide attack was carried out in Dal Lake area of Srinagar in October 2007 in which two terrorists were killed and three securitymen injured.

Today's attack came a day after the National Conference-led coalition government completed its first year in office and listed in its achievements, improved security situation.

Full report at:


Plot thickens: Bomber at CIA base was a triple agent

Chidanand Rajghatta,

TNN 5 January 2010,

WASHINGTON: It's the stuff of Ludlum and Le Carre. In yet another twist in the tale of the massacre by suicide bombing of a CIA team at a forward

base in Afghanistan, it turns out the perpetrator of the carnage may have been a Jordanian doctor who was a double or triple agent playing both the CIA and al-Qaida.

Here is the revised script, which is by no means complete or accurate given the twists and turns befitting a spy thriller: According to latest intelligence accounts, the suicide bomber who took out the CIA crew at Forward Operating Base Chapman last Wednesday went by the name of Humam Khalil Abu-Mulal al-Balawi. Hailing from Zarqa, the same Jordanian town as Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the infamous leader of al-Qaida in Iraq who tormented the US military and Bush administration until his death in 2006, al-Balawi was an al-Qaida activist who frequently posted messages railing against US and the west on jihadist websites under the name Abu Dujana al-Khorasani.

Al-Balawi was languishing in a Jordan prison after he was captured and thrown in the clink by Jordanian authorities when country's intelligence service, the Dairat al Mukhabarat — or General Intelligence Department (GID) — tried to turn him into an asset and thought it had succeeded. The GID has deep ties to the CIA, and he was presented to it as a possible infiltrator to track al-Qaida. His background as a doctor was also thought to enable him get close to the al-Qaida No. 2 Ayman al-Zawahiri.

Such was the CIA's trust in Jordanian intelligence — the agency has long regarded Jordan as a protectorate — it went along with the plan. Al-Balawi too appears to have played along, although his rants on jihadist forums and an earlier stint in Afghanistan reflected his militant views.

Full report at:


Obama to unveil anti-terror reforms

AP 5 January 2010, 11:58pm IST

WASHINGTON: US president Barack Obama on Tuesday plans to unveil reforms aimed at thwarting future attacks like the attempted Christmas Day

airliner bombing, as he seeks to limit political fallout from the incident.

Obama will outline an initial series of changes, including enhancements in much-criticized "watchlists" of terrorism suspects, after he meets with intelligence chiefs and other top security advisers, an administration official said.

On Obama's first full day back from his Hawaii vacation, he faces the challenge of spotlighting national security — suddenly pushed to the top of his agenda — while not looking distracted from other pressing public concerns like reducing double-digit unemployment. It won't be easy.

The administration is on the defensive after intelligence failures allowed a Nigerian with alleged links to Yemen-based al-Qaida operatives to board a transatlantic flight from Amsterdam on December 25. The man is accused of trying to blow up the plane with explosives hidden in his underwear.

US spy agencies and the state department had information about the suspect, 23-year-old Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, but never connected the dots that might have put him on a no-fly list.

White House officials have conceded the failed bomb plot on a Detroit-bound airliner exposed errors that must be fixed but have played down the need for a top-to-bottom overhaul of the US security system.

But Obama, who returned on Monday from 11 days in his home state, has been lambasted by Republicans who accuse his Democratic administration of being weak on terrorism and unable to fix intelligence gaps that have lingered since the September 11, 2001, hijacked plane attacks.

Full report at:


NEW DELHI: Israel NSA on hush-hush visit

Sachin Parashar, TNN 6 January 2010

NEW DELHI: India's close cooperation with Israel in dealing with terror received further impetus on Monday when Israel's NSA Uzi Arad visited India and held talks with his counterpart M K Narayanan. Arad was accompanied by a delegation comprising experts on counter-terror measures on the visit, which was kept under wraps for obvious reasons.

Some of the "key issues" discussed included Pakistan's nuclear arsenal, Iran and the threat to Israel nationals in India. Israel had last month withdrawn the terror alert issued for its citizens travelling to India but Arad did voice concerns for their safety in the country in the light of terror threats.

Arad, who is also the chairman of the Israeli National Security Council, spoke about the threat of Pakistan's nuclear weapons falling into the hands of jehadi forces. In fact, Pakistan formed the core of the discussions as the two sides expressed concern about the terror groups operating out of the country. The situation emerging in the Afghanistan war was also discussed. Arad is said to have conveyed to India that one of Israel's main concerns now was to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons.

The two sides also discussed weapons to be acquired by India from Israel including the need for purchasing equipment essential to ensure security at airports in the light of the recent attempt by a Nigerian national to blow up a Detroit-bound aircraft. Counter-terrorism measures and intelligence sharing were other important things discussed.

Despite getting into an extensive partnership with Israel over security and terror related issues, New Delhi has preferred to carry out discussions with Israel unobtrusively so as not to offend the minority community. Things have remained the same since the engagement between the the two countries started in the 70s when the legendary Moshe Dayan visited India. The Prime Minister's Office in Israel, however, was said to have confirmed Arad's visit saying that he was in India for "a periodic discussion".

The visit comes close on the heels of the India-Israel joint working group meeting last month. There has been a series of meetings in the past few months as the two sides have sought to intensify counter-terror cooperation.


Omar wants govt to hold talks on J&K autonomy

Jammu:Jammu & Kashmir chief minister Omar Abdullah on Tuesday said that he has asked Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to initiate dialogue on his fifth working group’s report on the Centrestate relationship that last month reco m m e n d e d the restoration of autonomy ‘‘to the extent possible’’ to the state.

 ‘‘I’ve asked the PM to initiate the dialogue with the state’s political parties on autonomy and evolve a unanimous and comprehensive strategy,’’ said Omar on the sidelines of a function to mark the completion of his first year in office. TNN


Eliminate extremist ideologies: Manmohan

Vinay Kumar

“The proponents of such ideologies are challenging the tenets of democracy and representational politics”

— Photo: PTI/ Subhav Shukla

Officers representing various countries at the 20th Conference of Speakers and Presiding Officers of the Commonwealth Countries, in New Delhi on Tuesday.

NEW DELHI: Expressing concern over the growth of extremist ideologies, threatening civilised existence everywhere, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Tuesday called for eliminating such forces without undermining the democratic foundations.

“The proponents of such ideologies are challenging the tenets of democracy and representational politics by resorting to intimidation, terror and other manifestations of intolerance,” Dr. Singh said in his keynote address at the inaugural session of the Conference of Speakers and Presiding Officers of Commonwealth Countries (CSPOC).

While asserting that no quarter should be given to such forces, the Prime Minister said it would require sustained international effort and cooperation to evolve “new insights” into tackling this “grave menace.”

Dr. Singh also touched on the stress and strain of the multi-party democratic system, the need for giving women a more meaningful voice in political and developmental process and the issue of climate change.

The conference, hosted by India for the third time since 1969, is being attended by 50 Speakers and Presiding Officers of 42 Parliaments in Commonwealth countries, including Pakistan. Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar is Chairperson of the Conference. Canada is scheduled to host the next conference in 2012.

Referring to the recent meeting of the Heads of Government of the Commonwealth at Port of Spain, the Prime Minster said a declaration on climate change was issued there. It affirmed that a global climate change solution was central to the survival of people and to the promotion of development.

“It is the small states and indeed the developing world in general that are bearing the brunt of a problem they did little to create. Issues relating to climate change require undoubtedly a collective and cooperative approach based on the principles of common but differentiated responsibility. I call for a greater sense of fairness and justice in global approaches to dealing with the problem of climate change,” he said.

Full report at:


Rights of Kashmiris suppressed: Zardari

Nirupama Subramanian

ISLAMABAD: Engaged in a full-fledged battle for survival in office, President Asif Ali Zardari displayed an uncharacteristically hawkish view on the Kashmir issue on a visit to Pakistan Occupied Kashmir on Tuesday, his first to the territory since taking office in 2008.

Gone was the Zardari who said in March 2008 that the Kashmir issue should be put on the back-burner so that India and Pakistan could focus on improving trade relations.

Instead, in an address to a joint session of the “Azad Jammu and Kashmir” Assembly and Council on the occasion of “self-determination” day, Mr. Zardari accused India of suppressing the rights of Kashmiris.

He said Pakistan would carry the late Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto’s pledge of the “thousand-year war” for the “liberation” of Kashmir, describing it however as more as an “ideological war.”

“The struggle for Kashmir began before the struggle for Pakistan. We achieved Pakistan, we will also achieve Kashmir,” he said.

He even offered the catchy slogan of “Kashmir Khappay,” a modification of his now famous “Pakistan Khappay” (we want Pakistan) that he raised in response to the Sindhi separatist slogan of “Pakistan Na Khappay” (we do not want Pakistan) that was heard after Benazir’s killing.

ew line

Mr. Zardari’s new line on Kashmir appears linked to his efforts to surmount his present political troubles.

His friendly attitude towards India combined with his initial statements on the Kashmir issue offended the traditionalists in the Pakistani civil-military establishment, and are widely seen as a reason for the crisis in which he now finds himself.

In the last few days, the embattled President, who is facing calls for resignation after the Supreme Court voided an ordinance under which corruption cases against him were dropped, has reiterated several times that “conspiracies” were afoot against him.

The Pakistan President has also made clear his intention of fighting off the plotters whom he has not identified. On Tuesday, the North West Frontier Province (NWFP) Assembly passed a resolution expressing confidence in the leadership of Mr. Zardari. The Balochistan Assembly did the same on Monday, and Sindh Assembly adopted a similar resolution three weeks ago.

But if these moves appeared to be sending out the message to the “conspirators” that he was prepared for an all out political confrontation, Mr. Zardari’s speech in PoK was clearly meant to appease influential sections of the Pakistani establishment who have been annoyed with him.

Full report at:


New pipeline to boost Turkmen gas sales to Iran

Vladimir Radyuhin

MOSCOW: Turkmenistan would double gas supplies to Iran following the launch of a second pipeline, Turkmen President Kurbanguly Berdymukhamedov said on Tuesday after talks with the visiting Iranian President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

The new gas pipeline to be inaugurated by the leaders of the two countries on Wednesday would boost Turkmen gas sales to Iran from 8 billion cubic metres a year (bcm/y) to 16 bcm/y, and then to 20 bcm/y, Mr. Berdymukhamedov said.

The 31-km pipeline originating at the Dovletebad gas field in southeastern Turkmenistan, close to the Iranian border, supplements the existing Korpezhe-Kurt-Kui pipeline. Iran uses Turkmen gas to supply its northern provinces and free up more of its own gas for exports.

Last month Turkmenistan also launched a gas pipeline to China that would eventually ship 40 bcm/y. Also last month Iran signed a new deal to pump up to 30 bcm/y of gas to Russia. Turkmenistan’s gas deals with China, Russia and Iran are a severe setback to the European Union’s hopes of building a trans-Caspian gas pipeline.


Yemen launches offensive against al Qaeda

Posted 05 January 2010

SANAA - Yemen has launched an offensive against al Qaeda and the U.S. embassy in Sanaa reopened on Tuesday after security forces staged a raid just outside the capital that dealt with an imminent security threat.

Yemen has sent thousands of troops to take part in a campaign against al Qaeda in three provinces over the past three days, and they are hemming them in, security sources said. Five suspected fighters from the group were detained, they said.

"The campaign is continuing in the capital and in the provinces of Shabwa and Maarib," one source told Reuters, on condition of anonymity. The manhunt was also going on in the southern province of Abyan. There were no further details.

The U.S. embassy in Yemen said it reopened after a raid that killed two al Qaeda militants dealt with specific security concerns which had forced U.S. and European missions to close.

Yemen, the poorest Arab country, was thrust into the foreground of the U.S.-led war against Islamist militants after a Yemen-based wing of al Qaeda said it was behind a Christmas Day bomb attempt on a U.S.-bound plane.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has said fighting in Yemen was a threat to regional and global stability.

"Successful counter-terrorism operations conducted by Government of Yemen security forces ... have addressed a specific area of concern, and have contributed to the embassy's decision to resume operations," the U.S. embassy said.

It said in a statement that the mission, a fortified structure with concrete slabs to guard against attacks, had closed for two days on credible information on the "likelihood of imminent terrorist attacks in the Yemeni capital."

Placed strategically on the Arabian Peninsula's southern rim, Yemen is trying to fight a threat from resurgent al Qaeda fighters while a Shi'ite revolt rages in the north and separatist sentiment simmers in the south.

Full report at:


Pakistan court rejects acquittal plea for Lakhvi, six others

Ads by Google

Rezaul H Laskar, Press Trust Of India

Islamabad, January 06, 2010

A Pakistani anti-terror court on Wednesday rejected an application seeking acquittal of LeT operations chief Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi and six others charged with helping plan and executes the Mumbai attacks.

It also turned down an application by the suspects for Ajmal Amir Kasab, the lone terrorist arrested alive during the attacks, to be brought to Pakistan from India for trial.

Judge Malik Muhammad Akram Awan, who is conducting the trial within Adiala Jail in Rawalpindi for security reasons, directed the prosecution to present evidence against the accused at the next hearing on January 16.

He rejected the applications filed by the suspects after hearing arguments by defence lawyers and the prosecution, which told the court that it has "strong evidence" against the accused.

The suspects had last month filed an application under Section 265-K of the Code of Criminal Procedure seeking their acquittal on the ground that there is no probability of their being convicted for any offence.

The defence lawyers had challenged the prosecution's decision to use Kasab's statement to Indian authorities on the ground that the accused were not given an opportunity to cross-examine Kasab in the Pakistani court.

They had also questioned the prosecution's decision to use Kasab's statement after he recently retracted his confession.

Full report at:


Afghans answer call to fight

FORMER MUJAHIDEENS working alongside Afghan, NATO forces to clear areas of Taliban

Carlotta Gall


Bakhtiar Ludin looks like a rogue, with a roughly tied checkered scarf for a turban, a Kalashnikov and a band of similarly tough, armed men for company.

But much of the hopes of Afghan and American officials to turn around the eight-year war here rests with him and those like him.

Ludin and his band are part of a push to raise local militias to help stop the Taliban from spreading to new areas, like here in the north, where the insurgents advanced quickly in the past 18 months.

Not long ago even police cars could not drive down the eastern approaches to the city of Kunduz, for fear of rocket attacks from Taliban insurgents.

No more.

"Bakhtiar is really good," said Noor Muhammad, the police captain who commands a small post on the edge of town. "He secured the area."

Supported by American Special Forces troops, and led by Afghan intelligence officials, the effort has been building for six months and is now gaining traction in some rural areas where Afghan and NATO forces are too thinly spread to stop the Taliban's encroachment.

As security deteriorated here in Kunduz province, the governor and intelligence chief enlisted the help of former resistance fighters like Ludin, called mujahideen, who had fought against Soviet invaders and the Taliban in the past.

Although the Americans have said they will not provide weapons to the militias, the Afghans gave them guns.

They also provide critical backup when needed, including transportation, communications and medical treatment, Afghan security officials said.

The militias, working alongside Afghan and NATO forces, recently helped clear several areas of insurgents.

The gains may not be permanent, but they have dealt a setback to the Taliban, the officials said.

"We, the government, must destroy the Taliban in Kunduz this winter because next spring they will be stronger," said General Muhammad Daoud, a deputy interior minister who commanded mujahideen forces in Kunduz when they helped overthrow the Taliban government alongside coalition forces in 2001.

"We should use former mujahideen, formally and logically, as they have the sense of how to fight the Taliban," he said. During the resistance period the mujahideen had forces in every village, Daoud said.

Still loyal to their parties and their local leaders, they represent an extensive network of potential fighters, informants and helpers throughout the country, he said.

Copyright 2009 The New York Times Company

Hazaras head the Afghan class

Richard A. Oppel Jr. & Abdul Waheed Wafa


For much of this country's history, the Hazara were typically servants, cleaners, porters and little else, a largely Shia minority sidelined for generations, and in some instances massacred, by Pashtun rulers.

But increasingly they are people like Mustafa, a teenager whose course reflects the collective effort of the Hazara, who make up 10 to 15 per cent of the population, to remake their circumstances so swiftly that by some measures they are beginning to overtake other groups.

Like many Hazaras of his generation, Mustafa, 16, fled Afghanistan with his family in the mid-1990s. They settled in Quetta, Pakistan, living with other Hazara refugees outside the Taliban's reach and getting a taste of opportunities previously beyond their grasp.

After the 2001 U.S.-led invasion, his family returned, not to their home in impoverished Daykondi province, but to Kabul, where his uneducated parents thought Mustafa and his siblings would get better schooling. Mustafa is a top student at Marefat High School in Dasht-i-Barchi.

The Hazara gains have been rapid. Two Hazara-dominated provinces, Bamyan and Daykondi, have the highest passing rates on admissions exams for the country's top rung of universities.

In a country that has one of the world's lowest female literacy rates -- just one in seven women over age 15 can read and write -- the progress of Hazara women is even more stark, especially compared with Pashtun provinces.

Pashtuns, who are mostly Sunni, are the country's largest ethnic group. While the Taliban insurgency rages in Pashtun regions, and many schools are attacked or forced to close, the enrollment of girls in Bamyan schools rose by one-third the past two years, to 46,500, as total enrollment there grew 22 per cent. THE NEW YORK TIMES

Copyright 2009 The New York Times Company


Europe's Fear of Islam

By  Euro-Muslims Editorial Desk

Anti-Muslims posters threaten tolerance in Europe

Fears of radical Islam are spreading throughout the European continent. They are the result of a series of radical attacks made by alleged militant Islamists in several European countries. Although such attacks have been disturbing Europe for several decades now, the new consecutive attacks of the past few months have drawn the attention back to militant Islam and revived the fears associated with it.

Latest Attack

The lastest of these incidents was the attack of a 28-year-old Somali using an axe and a knife on Danish cartoonist Kurt Westergaard at his house in Aarhus last Friday, January 1. The Somali man — whose name has not been revealed yet because of Denmark's privacy law — was reported to have been screaming, "Blood" and "Revenge" while attacking the window of Westergaard's house.

Attack on US Plane

A similar case took place earlier in December 2009 when Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, a 23-year-old Nigerian and University College of London graduate,  was arrested on charges of attempting to kill almost 300 people when he allegedly tried to bomb a US airliner that was heading to Detroit. Abdulmutallab, who belongs to a wealthy Nigerian family, was studying mechanical engineering in London for three years and was president of the UCL Islamic Society between 2006 and 2007.

This last incident spread panic in Europe as it raised fears about growing Muslim extremism, especially among young university students. The fears were amplified by the revealed fact that Abdulmutallab was actually the fourth president of a London student Islamic society to face terrorist charges in three years. One is facing a retrial on charges that he was involved in the 2006 liquid bomb plot to blow up airliners. Two others have been convicted of terrorist offences since 2007. [1]

In your opinion, what are the reasons for the wave of radical Islam that has hit Europe during the past few months? Is it the result of social factors, religious misunderstandings, or individual circumstances? And would you say that Europe's fear of radical Islam is justified?


How terrorists are winning


Last Updated: 6th January 2010, 1:08am

Over the last decade, there has been no end to the number of instructions attached to the phrase "or the terrorists win."

But you needn't be familiar with the misery of commercial airline travel to know the terrorists are indeed winning, and continue to chalk up victories.

Whether you think "the system works" or not, the aftermath of last month's attempt by the would-be underwear bomber or the infamous shoe bomber of 2001 are reminders, if any were needed, that terrorists win whether they are successful in their primary task or not.

And what is their primary task? To blow up a plane or simply to plunge the travelling public and international airport network into complete and utter chaos?

To have us spend our time and money, both individually as travellers and collectively as taxpayers, in or on various ports of call?

Or is it more insidious than that?

For surely the true intent of this nasty and deadly business is to sow discontent and fear in the new world of alleged tolerance and multiculturalism. To destabilize it in a way so many other nations are destabilized.

At that it is succeeding more every day. Other than submerging the world into wars with vague goals and uncertain outcomes, terrorism is hardening positions and polarizing views on security, crime and punishment. It is creating moral dilemmas for nations that once held themselves to be beacons of freedom and justice.

Full report at:

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