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Islamic World News ( 25 Sept 2017, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Madrasas in Pak Produced Ruthless Militants: Communist Party of Pakistan

New Age Islam News Bureau

25 Sept 2017

Rabbi Marc Schneier (center) revels in role Sunday as honorary grand marshal of the Muslim Day Parade he marches arm in arm with Imam Shamsi Ali (left). (ANDREW SAVULICH/NEW YORK DAILY NEWS)



 Madrasas in Pak Produced Ruthless Militants: Communist Party of Pakistan

 Kurdish Warlords Seek New Target as Islamic State Retreats

 Rabbi Leads City’s Muslim Parade as Grand Marshal in Show of Unity

 Sadiq Khan: Trump’s Language about Muslims Is Similar to Isis Rhetoric

 Kabul Offers Khalid Khurasani in Swap for Mullah Baradar



 Madrasas in Pak Produced Ruthless Militants: Communist Party of Pakistan

 Pak Nukes Hidden At Nine Places, At Risk of Being Stolen By Terrorists

 At UN, Pakistan's Maleeha Lodhi shows Gaza war victim's photo as face of Indian atrocities; draws flak

 Ahle Bait made great sacrifices for spreading the message of Islam: Syedna Mufaddal

 40,000 Bohras from all over world attending their annual congregation in Karachi

 Pakistan’s requests to remove Twitter accounts doubled in six months: report

 Security forces kill 3 suspects during alleged encounter in Dera Ismail Khan


Arab World

 Kurdish Warlords Seek New Target as Islamic State Retreats

 Russian Strikes Kill 45 Syrian Rebels

 Iraqi PM accuses Kurdish leaders of corruption ahead of referendum

 Russia to Set up New Military Base in Eastern Syria

 Homs: Gov't Forces Continue to Purge Central Syria of Terrorists

 Saudi-Led Coalition Launches over 70 Airstrikes on Yemeni Army in One Day

 Al-Nusra Preparing to Attack Turkey-Backed Militants West of Aleppo Province

 Syrian Army Receives More Advanced Tanks, Military Vehicles

 Syrian Soldiers Repel Terrorists' Heavy Attack in Northern Homs

 Three Kurdish fighters killed, five wounded in blast south of oil city Kirkuk

 Iraqi Kurdistan holds referendum in defiance of intl. community

 Russian general killed in Syria’s Dayr al-Zawr by Daesh

 Iraq urges world countries not to buy oil from Kurdish region

 Iraq does not allow creation of ethnic govt. in country: Abadi


North America

 Rabbi Leads City’s Muslim Parade as Grand Marshal in Show of Unity

 Trump Administration Revises Travel Ban to Expand Beyond Muslim-Majority Countries

 Fighter jets, drones on table as Mattis visits key ally India

 Trump casts doubt over Iran nuclear deal after missile test

 White House declines to confirm or deny new travel ban



 Sadiq Khan: Trump’s Language about Muslims Is Similar to Isis Rhetoric

 Chechnya Warlord Stands Up For Islam and the Rohingya

 Muslim surgeon stabbed outside mosque in 'hate crime'

 Survey reveals scale of hostility towards Arabs in Britain

 UK terror suspect held in Spain over Islamic State funding

 Russian submarine attacks Fatah al-Sham terrorists in Syria's Idlib

 Imam Who Told Children Martyrdom Was 'Greater Success' Than School Convicted Of Supporting Isis


South Asia

 Kabul Offers Khalid Khurasani in Swap for Mullah Baradar

 Rohingya Influx into Bangladesh Drops

 Car bomber hits NATO convoy in Afghanistan, wounds five civilians

 Rohingya crisis: UN reports drop in arrivals in Bangladesh



 Muslim as Chief Guest at RSS’ Function: Political Compulsion or a Paradigm Shift?

 Rohingya crisis: What happens inside Hindu refugee camps in Bangladesh, India Today explores

 Pakistan Lies at UN, Now Media Report Says It Wants UN to Declare India 'Terror Sponsor'

 3 terrorists killed, jawan injured in Uri encounter

 Kashmir Terror Funding: NIA Summons PhD Student, Trader Body Head, 2 Hurriyat Leaders


Southeast Asia

 The Fervent Rise of Islamophobia in China

 Tourists Could Suffer Under New Sex Crime Law Pushed By Islamic Group

 Anti-Apostasy Laws Bad For Islam, Says Writer

 Singapore IS fighter challenges Prince Harry

 Denying gay people from entering Malaysia may be unconstitutional, lawyers say

 Former President Yudhoyono Praises Humanitarian Aid Sent to Rohingya Refugees



 Turkey Vows To Take ‘All Measures’ If Kurdish Vote Endangers Security

 France ‘Extremely Concerned’ By Iran Ballistic Missile Test

 Yemeni Army Targets King Khalid Airbase with Ballistic Missile

 Iran launches war games near Iraqi Kurdistan border

 Iran reasserts support for Iraq sovereignty

 Iranian drones destroy Daesh bases in Syria’s Dayr al-Zawr

 Hadi says Yemen conflict will be settled militarily



 Africa: Religious Conflicts on the Rise in Africa

 Explosion in Mali Kills 3 UN Soldiers from Bangladesh

 Boko Haram displaced protest poor conditions in Nigeria camp

 Biafra: What Buhari should do to IPOB, MASSOB, others – Islamic Leaders?

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau




Madrasas in Pak Produced Ruthless Militants: Communist Party of Pakistan

September 24, 2017

Kochi, Sep 24 (PTI) Thousands of Madrasas in Pakistan preaching Saudi brand of Islam produce "ruthless militants in hundreds", the Communist Party of Pakistan (CPP) has said.

In a message to the two-day South Asian Regional Seminar of Communist and Left parties held here, the Central Committee of the CPP said that long-term tactics were designed by the military in Pakistan to tear the social fabric of the society.

M A Baby, a member the Polit Bureau of the Communist Party of India (Marxist), circulated a copy of the CPPs message at a press conference on the concluding day of the seminar today.

The CPP, founded in Calcutta in 1948, has a marginal presence in Pakistan.

Baby said CPP representatives could not attend the conference as they were denied visa by the Indian authorities.

The CPI(M) organised the seminar to mark the 100th anniversary of the October Revolution in Russia.

The CPP said that during periods of military rule in Pakistan, the party was banned and hundreds of its leaders activists were jailed. Many of them disappeared, it said.

Even under these circumstances, the CPP continued its struggle for the basic rights of the masses.

It said the Pakistani military, soon after imposing martial law in the country in 1980, established some 60,000 Madrasas which started preaching the Saudi brand of Islam.      "To glamourise jihadi culture, special recruitments were made in universities, schools and colleges. Areas adjacent to the Afghan border were surrendered to jihadi outfits," it said.

"Textbooks were revised and fanatic sectarian articles were included in the curriculum. Democracy and secularism were synonyms for curse," it said.

The party alleged that the same pattern was being followed by the "establishment" in Pakistan even today.

"Madrasas are producing ruthless militants in hundreds. ...Students from public educational institutions are encouraged to join the ranks of militants," it said. PTI TGB SMN SC SC



Kurdish Warlords Seek New Target as Islamic State Retreats

Sep 25, 2017

As the jihadists of the so-called Islamic State retreat, the Arab and Kurdish forces allied against it in Iraq are turning their arms towards each other.

Rather than celebrate victory, Masoud Barzani, the President of Iraqi Kurdistan, called a referendum on independence for today, not just in his constitutionally recognised autonomous zone but in the vast tracts that his forces seized from Islamic State. Protesting against this threat to Iraq’s integrity, Iraq’s Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi gathered his commanders at Makhmour, opposite the Kurdish front lines. If the referendum went ahead, Kurdistan “might disappear”, he warned. Hoping to prevent their allies from sparring, Western mediators have stepped in. But yesterday Barzani remained committed to his referendum.

Kurdistan is far from ready for statehood. The government is steeped in debt; its coffers are empty. The Peshmerga, its vaunted fighting force, is split among family-led factions.

Barzani, for his part, has made a mockery of the political system. He has twice extended his rule. In 2015 he shut parliament after it tried to limit his powers and questioned how he spends oil revenues. Instead of dealing with the region’s ills ahead of parliamentary and presidential elections planned for November, he has used the referendum to distract the public and rouse nationalist fervour. Rallies across Kurdistan feature fireworks and fiery rhetoric. “Whatever it takes (to gain independence),” says a normally cool-headed official at a rally. A toll of half a million dead, he suggests, could be acceptable.

Neighbours around the enclave are uniting against the Kurds. Iraqi politicians speak of closing its airspace. Fearing that the referendum will stir separatist sentiments among their own Kurds, Turkey and Iran have mulled closing their borders with Iraqi Kurdistan. Turkey is conducting military exercises on the frontier. It could turn off the tap of the territory’s only pipeline, blocking its oil exports. Western powers are also threatening to withhold aid to Kurdistan if Barzani rejects their proposals. They are offering Barzani and Abadi a room in the US embassy in Baghdad to negotiate a deal under their auspices. Abadi might endorse a process that buys him time. Barzani is still hoping for a path to independence.

Many Kurds, for now at least, would prefer their leaders focus on improving Kurdistan rather than seceding. Even in the Kurdish capital, Irbil, the referendum has left many nonplussed. As the threat of a siege mounts — Kurdistan imports almost everything — people are stockpiling basics. Flights out of Irbil are packed. But many are feeling squeezed financially. The referendum is “a luxury only the rich like Barzani can afford”, complains a teacher, who moonlights as a taxi driver because of cuts to salaries. Beyond Barzani’s strongholds the campaign for independence has begun belatedly, if at all. In a straw poll in the main market of Sulaymaniyah, in the east, your correspondent could not find one Kurd who said he would vote.

In the Nineveh Plains, where an earthen wall splits the Arab- and Kurdish-ruled areas, other minorities view the referendum as an impossible loyalty test. “Each side is forcing us to choose when we should just abstain,” says a priest at St Joseph’s, a towering Chaldean church that serves displaced Christians in Irbil. Abadi is planning a conference for Christians to air their grievances at the end of the month. Barzani is urging priests not to go.

The tensions are also affecting Kurds beyond Kurdistan. Under Saddam Hussein, Baghdad was Iraq’s largest Kurdish city. Many Kurds have since drifted north, but hundreds still hold positions in the government and the army. Their loyalty has been questioned and jobs put at risk.

If violence flares, Kirkuk may be where it starts. The fighting could spread quickly along the region’s ethnic faultlines into Syria, where Arab and Kurdish forces are also competing to take land from Islamic State.

Even if the referendum passes, Barzani is not obligated to declare independence. A deal might better serve his interests. Right now, he risks ignominy if the exuberance of statehood that he has stoked should dissipate, and his people flee a failed and besieged state. With an accord, he could boast of at last bringing evasive Iraqi officials to the table. He might yet win their agreement to restore the old subsidy for the Kurds that was cut when they began selling Kirkuk’s plentiful oil independently. And he might add the Peshmerga to the Iraqi government’s payroll, as was done for the Shia militias. He would thus alleviate Kurdish fears of being marginalised, having served their purpose in fighting Islamic State.

Come the election in November, Western powers are likely to turn a blind eye if the ballot is again postponed. If so, Barzani could thus secure his position as Kurdistan’s pre-eminent warlord, and prolong his one-man rule.



Rabbi Leads City’s Muslim Parade as Grand Marshal in Show of Unity

Sep 25, 2017

The annual Muslim Day Parade went from Muhammad to Moses as a show of unity Sunday.

Parade organizers tapped Rabbi Marc Schneier as an honorary grand marshal to send a message of togetherness between the two religions.

“This is a clear message to the world that we can be united despite our differences,” said Imam Shamsi Ali, president of the Muslim Foundation of America, the umbrella group organizing the parade.

Schneier said he was honored to kick off the 32nd Muslim parade at 38th St. and Madison Ave.

“We have witnessed a real coming together of Muslims and Jews in America that serves as a paradigm for other nations,” he said, noting many Jewish organizations have been at the forefront in opposing the Trump administration’s travel ban plans.

“As the children of Abraham, we recognize that we both have a common faith, and a common fate,” added Schneier, who serves as the spiritual leader of the Hampton Synagogue in Westhampton Beach, L.I.

Ali acknowledged that some Muslim leaders were against the decision to have Schneier kick off the parade.

“Some people voiced their concerns,” he said. “But the majority was so happy to have a rabbi to be part of the parade.”

Ali and Schneier have long been close.

In 2013, they teamed up to write a book, “Sons of Abraham: A Candid Conversation About the Issues That Divide and Unite Jews and Muslims.”



Sadiq Khan: Trump’s language about Muslims is similar to Isis rhetoric

24 September 2017

Sadiq Khan accused Donald Trump of adopting the language of Islamic State and “playing their game” by adopting the terror group’s clash of civilisations rhetoric.

Speaking at a Guardian Live event at the Labour party conference in Brighton, the London mayor said he was a “reluctant participant” in the continuing hostility between himself and the US president.

But Khan made it clear that he was offended by Trump’s call for a ban on Muslims and the president’s claim that he would make an exception for the Labour politician.

“My view was firstly ‘I’m not exceptional’ and secondly ‘Think about what you are saying.’ Because what you are saying is not dissimilar to what Daesh or so-called IS says.

“They say that there is a clash of civilisations, it is not possible to be a Muslim and a westerner, and the west hates us. And you are inadvertently playing their game, you are helping them.”

Speaking to the Guardian’s editor-in-chief, Katharine Viner, Khan praised the contribution American Muslims had made to the country, including as students, artists and politicians.

He said Trump’s ban on travellers from a number of Muslim-majority countries gave the “wrong impression” of the religion.

“I’m a westerner, but also a very proud Muslim. There are some people who want to divide our communities – I’m not going to let them,” Khan said.

He also spoke about Labour’s performance in the June general election, when the party secured 40% of the vote and stripped Theresa May of her parliamentary majority.

Asked what the result was down to, Khan said: “Jeremy Corbyn.”

He suggested that Labour had taken tips from The West Wing. “Let Jeremy be Jeremy,” he said, praising the manifesto, and the success in bringing back old Labour voters and energising young people.

He said Corbyn spoke to the public’s anger about unfairness and inequality. “He wasn’t doing it to triangulate. He was authentic. Jeremy has always believed that,” Khan said.

The London mayor stressed again that in terms of explaining the result, “the one thing above everything else [was] Jeremy”.

He said Labour had not won the election, but the “direction of travel” had been right, and he believed Corbyn was on track to be prime minister.

Khan also said that he was in favour of what he called “hybrid” shortlists, which would consist of women and people from ethnic minorities, when selecting candidates to become MPs.

Asked in quickfire questions whether he would choose Corbyn or John McDonnell, the shadow chancellor, Khan said it was like being asked to choose one of the Beatles.

On housing, he called for a sea change in the attitude of central government as he argued that some properties that local residents could afford were being bought up from abroad and left empty.

“Some of my best friends are foreigners [but] we should have homes for Londoners,” Khan said.



Kabul offers Khalid Khurasani in swap for Mullah Baradar


by Tahir Khan

ISLAMABAD: Afghanistan is ready to hand over a senior Pakistani Taliban leader Mufti Khalid in exchange of Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, the former deputy to Mullah Omar, Afghan officials say.

Afghan security forces had arrested Mufti Khalid, who had served spokesman for the banned Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan as Mohammad Khurasani, was arrested in Afghanistan days after the brutal 2014 attack on Army Public School Peshawar. Nearly 150, almost all students, were martyred in the attack.

Minutes after the gunmen entered the APS, Mufti Khalid contacted reporters in Pakistan, including this correspondent, to claim responsibility for the attack. Militant sources said Khalid was arrested in a joint raid by the US-led NATO and Afghan forces in Nangarhar’s Shinwar district near the Pakistani border.

Khalid, belonging to Gilgit-Baltistan, had worked as the TTP spokesman under fake names of Ehsanullah Ehsan and Mohammad Khorasani in North Waziristan until security forces launched a major operation in June 2014.

Like many other Pakistan and foreign militants, he also fled to neighbouring Afghanistan and would later regularly contact the media to claim responsibility for attacks in Pakistan. The militants, who knew Khalid, say he was previously a teacher at a Karachi ‘seminary. He headed the TTP media centre in North Waziristan and later in Nangarhar.

Pakistan and Afghanistan have no agreement on prisoner exchange and Kabul had in the past rejected Pakistan’s requests for the handover of two key TTP leaders Latifullah Mehsud and Haji Faqir Muhammad, the TTP deputy chief.

American military officials, who had reported snatched Mehsud from the Afghan intelligence operatives, handed him over to Pakistan in December 2014. Hamid Karzai’s spokesman Aimal Faizi had condemned the US action to what he called abduction of Latifullah, who had served as the deputy of Hakimullah Mehsud, who was killed in a drone strike in Miranshah in 2013.

Afghan intelligence officials had arrested Haji Faqir in Nangarhar in February 2013 along with some of his associates. He is still in detention in Kabul and Afghan government has refused to hand him over to Pakistan despite repeated requests.

Like Afghanistan, Pakistan is seemed unwilling to accept Afghanistan’s calls for the repatriation of the Afghan Taliban detainees.

Afghanistan has long been demanding the handover of the former Taliban second-in-command Mullah Baradar, who Afghan officials believe is still in Pakistan’s custody. Taliban have the same stance on Baradar’s detention.

However, Pakistan had announced his release in 2013 when Pakistan had freed dozens of senior Afghan Taliban leaders in late 2013 on the request by then president Karzai and his peace council in a move to encourage the Taliban to join the peace process. But no Taliban freed official had joined the peace process as they believed Karzai had no powers to make independent decision.

Some Taliban leaders insisted they do not trust Karzai as he had violated an agreement with them in late 2001 that his regime will not touch those Taliban leaders who live in peace in Afghanistan after the US military had toppled their government.

Baradar, who was appointed by Mullah Omar, was among the few of his close confidant. Baradar was arrested in February 2010 in Karachi in a joint operation by the Pakistani and American security officials.

In an informal interaction with a group of Pakistani journalists at his residence in Kabul in May, Karzai confirmed his agreement with the Taliban in Kandahar but shifted the blame to the Americans to frustrate his peace deal with the Taliban as his government was weak that time and the Americans would not listen to him.





Pak nukes hidden at nine places, at risk of being stolen by terrorists

Sachin Parashar

Sep 25, 2017

NEW DELHI: Pakistan PM Shahid Khaqan Abbasi last week yet again flaunted+ his country's tactical or nonstrategic nuclear weapons, saying they were meant to deter the Indian Army's 'cold start' doctrine+ .

While Abbasi declared that Pakistan's nuclear assets, including the tactical nukes, were under a robust command-and-control system, the short-range weapons meant to be used early in a conventional conflict with India are vulnerable to accidents and risk of landing up with terrorists.

According to a recent report by the Federation of American Scientists (FAS), Pakistan has stored its nuclear forces at nine different locations across the country.

Read this story in Gujarati

Renowned US nuclear weapon expert and co-author of the report Hans Kristensen said Pakistan's nuclear warheads may be located in storage facilities near the bases the report identifies, and that these bases themselves appear to house nuclear-capable launchers that would use those warheads.

The report describes the launcher bases to give readers an impression of the extent to which Pakistan's nuclear forces are being dispersed across the country.

Read this story in Malayalam

Kristensen told TOI that because Pakistan was building a short-range sub-strategic nuclear arsenal (in addition to its longer-range force), the warheads would likely be distributed to regional storage sites from which they could be assembled and transported to the launcher bases.

"Since the shorter-range systems are intended to be used earlier in a conflict below the strategic level, weapons for these systems would likely be distributed early in a crisis and raise the risk of accident and incidents. If used against conventional attacks, use of the tactical nuclear weapons would likely lead to escalation to a wider nuclear war quickly," said Kristensen.

A Trump administration official was quoted last month as saying that the US was particularly concerned by the development of tactical nuclear weapons that were designed for use in the battlefield, and that Washington believed these systems were more susceptible to terrorist theft and increased the likelihood of nuclear exchange in the region.

The report by Kristensen and Robert Norris also says that Pakistan has a rapidly expanding nuclear arsenal of 130-140 warheads and an increasing portfolio of delivery systems.

The report says Islamabad is quantitatively and qualitatively strengthening its arsenal and deploying weapons at more sites and yet the locations are difficult to pinpoint.

"For example, no reliable public information exists on where Pakistan produces or stores its nuclear weapons. Thus, we have used commercial satellite images, expert studies, and local news reports and articles to make the assumption that nuclear weapons are likely to be at, or near, wherever nuclear-capable weapon systems are deployed," it says.



At UN, Pakistan's Maleeha Lodhi shows Gaza war victim's photo as face of Indian atrocities; draws flak

Sep, 25 2017

Pakistan received criticism from all quarters on Sunday after the country's envoy to the United Nations Maleeha Lodhi allegedly showed 2014 Gaza war victim's photograph as an image of Indian atrocities at the UN General Assembly. Lodhi showed the photograph terming it as the face of "Indian democracy".

The envoy to United Nations was seen confidently raising a poster of an injured girl at the UNGA, slamming Prime Minister Narendra Modi, accusing him of killing Muslim people in Gujarat and adding that no minority is safe, the Outlook reported.

Though Lodhi didn't categorically mention "pellet gun injury" in her response, however, she referred to Indian atrocities. The official Twitter handle of Pakistan office at United Nations said:

Interestingly, the image of the Gaza airstrike victim, Rawya abu Jom’a, was taken by Jerusalem-based award-winning photojournalist Heidi Levine when she was covering Gaza war for The National and was published as a collection by the Guardian in 2014.

Jom'a was one of the many young people who had been injured by shrapnel during an airstrike by Israeli forces.

According to News 18, the photo was also tweeted on 27 March, 2015, by Dr Ramy Abdu, whose bio on his verified Twitter account says he is the founder of Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor.

However, Pakistan seems to have refused to accept the mistake. According to India Today, when Pakistan defence expert Qamar Cheema was questioned about the fraudulent incident, he said that even Israelis haven't been as brutal as Indians have been to Kashmiris.

On Saturday, Lodhi had also borrowed the standard lines of a section of Indian secularists who describe Modi and his government as "fascist" and Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath as a "fanatic".

Terming India as the "mother of terrorism" in South Asia, Lodhi had accused India of sponsoring terrorism in various parts of Pakistan. Lodhi alleged that "in her vitriol she (External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj) deliberately ignored the core issue" of Kashmir while exercising its right of reply to Swaraj.

In her address the same day, Swaraj had termed Pakistan as the "world's greatest exporter of havoc, death and inhumanity" and accused Islamabad of being "only engaged in fighting us (India)" and rejecting peace and dialogue.

Speaking at the high-level session of the UN General Assembly on Saturday, Swaraj also accused Pakistan's leadership of spurning the hand of friendship, choosing instead to fight and sponsor terrorism, IANS reported.

It was a speech marked by fiery remarks, responding the unusually virulent attacks by Pakistan prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi on Thursday.

Lodhi, who is quite active on social media, including on Twitter, was silent after it emerged that she posed with a fake picture the UN General Assembly.

The Permanent Mission of Pakistan to the UN also did not immediately respond to a PTI query on Lodhi's apparent use of such a picture.

This, however, wasn't Lodhi's first brush with controversy. According to The Times of India, in February, Lodhi had deleted a congratulatory tweet about Oscar winner Muslim actor Mahershala Ali after being criticised for promoting an Ahmadi, considered to be non-Muslims in Pakistan.

Full report at:



Ahle Bait made great sacrifices for spreading the message of Islam: Syedna Mufaddal

September 25, 2017

KARACHI: Addressing the third majlis of Muharramul Harram at Taheri Masjid here on Sunday, Dawoodi Bohra community’s spiritual leader Syedna Mufaddal Saifuddin said that Almighty Allah chose Islam for showing the right path to the mankind through our beloved Holy Prophet (peace be upon him).

He added that Islam is the religion of peace and tranquillity, adding that providing service and welfare to human beings is equivalent to making Allah Almighty happy. “The Holy Prophet (peace be upon him) and Ahle Bait rendered great sacrifices for spreading the message of peace,” he said.

The spiritual leader said: “Particularly, the grandson of Holy Prophet (peace be upon him), Hazrat Imam Hussain (RA), who was hungry and thirsty for three days, had fought on the hot sand of Karbala against the tormentors and laid his precious life in the way of Almighty Allah.” He further added that the exemplary sacrifices made by Hazrat Imam Hussain (RA) and his people had become a lifetime example in the history of humankind.

Syedna Mufaddal Saifuddin thanked the Government of Pakistan, people of Pakistan and the people in power for making high-level security arrangements for the majlis. He also thanked the prime minister and interior minister for making this visit possible and for coordinating and cooperating during the entire process.

The spiritual leader said that this was the love of Pakistani people and the government that was leading towards enhanced mutual ties. By referring to Syedna Taher Saifuddin and Syedna Mohammad Burhanuddin, Syedna Mufaddal Saifuddin said that both these religious leaders had visited Pakistan many times and directed their community to work towards the betterment and welfare of Pakistan.

The spiritual leader of Dawoodi Bohra community, on the occasion, said that he was very delighted on getting the opportunity to address Muharram majalis in Karachi after a long gap as his (Syedna’s) father and grandfather earlier used to address Muharram majalis in the city.

He said that steps and measures adopted by the government and law-enforcement agencies for restoration of law and order situation in the country in general and in Karachi in particular were highly praiseworthy.

He said that initiation of development projects in the city was a welcoming sign as it would provide the best of communication facilities to people. He thanked the administration for adopting strict security measures and giving other facilities to participants of the Muharram congregations.

On the other hand, Sindh Governor Mohammad Zubair said that the arrival and stay of the spiritual leader of Dawoodi Bohra community, Syedna Mufaddal Saifuddin, in Karachi during the sacred month of Muharram shows an improvement in law and order of the city.

The Sindh governor stated this on Sunday as he met the spiritual leader of the Dawoodi Bohra community here at the Taheri Masjid, Saddar. He also attended the Muharram majlis addressed by Syedna Mufaddal Saifuddin.

Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah, Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P) chief Dr Farooq Sattar, Mayor Karachi Waseem Akhtar and Sindh Local Govt Minister Jam Khan Shoro were also present on the occasion.

The meeting took into consideration the role of the Dawoodi Bohra community in development, progress and stabilisation of peace in the province.

Speaking on the occasion, the Sindh governor said that he welcomed the decision of spiritual head of Dawoodi Bohra community to visit Karachi during Muharram after a long gap. He hoped that Syedna, in future, would continue to hold his Muharram majalis in Karachi.

He acknowledged that the Dawoodi Bohra community was one of the most peace-loving sections of the society. He said the Dawoodi Bohra community had always played an important role in promotion of economic and trade activities in Karachi, which is rightly considered as the business hub of the country.

The Sindh governor said that the development of Karachi meant the development of the entire country as the city offered massive prospects of trade and investment after restoration of law and order here.

Speaking to the media on the occasion, the Sindh governor said that stringent security measures had been put in place during the sacred month of Muharram in order to thwart any untoward incident. He said that concerned citizens were required to extend cooperation to the government for maintaining law and order as peace could not be ensured without the support of public. He said that Ulema of all sects had complete consensus of opinion that beliefs and teachings of each others’ sect should be given due respect and honour.

Governor Zubair said that teachings of Hazrat Imam Hussain (RA) were for the entire world as the maternal grandson of the Last Prophet (SAW) had laid down his life and that of his companions for upholding the flag of Islam as after this noble sacrifice, Islam had become an exemplary religion for the entire world.

Meanwhile, Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah said that he had invited the spiritual leader of Dawoodi Bohra community, Syedna Mufaddal Saifuddin, to spend Muharramul Haram in the city and address his majalis and he had kindly consented to his request.

He said this while talking to the media just after listening to the majlis of Syedna Mufaddal Saifuddin at Tahri Masjid Saddar.

He said that it was an event where Syedna was addressing the majlis of his community in the city in which his followers had come from other countries also. “We have made necessary security arrangements for his majlis,” he said. “Our Bohri brothers were peaceful and cooperative; they have also cooperated with the administration for their security.”

Syed Murad Ali Shah said that peace has been restored in the city with constant efforts and political will of the government. “This credit goes to the people of Karachi who supported the targeted operation and also extended their full support to the government, Rangers, police and other law enforcement agencies in restoring peace,” he said.

The chief minister said that with the restoration of peace in the city, a boost had been witnessed in the business activities. “People, with their families, have been coming out of their homes for outings without any fear,” he said. “Syedna has come from India to address his majalis and this is happening after 21 years.”

The Sindh chief minister expressed his satisfaction that the city is again attracting and respecting its visitors, guests, investors and religious scholars and spiritual leaders.

Earlier, the chief minister reached Taheri Masjid, where he listened to the majalis being addressed by Syedna Mufaddal Saifuddin.

Syedna Mufaddal Saifuddin, just after his address, presented a shawl, rosary and a prayer mat to the chief minister.

Later, the chief minister reviewed the arrangements for the Dawoodi Bohra community’s other majlis at the KPI ground. He visited their kitchen, dispensary and sitting places. The chief minister issued directives to Additional IG Karachi Mushtaq Mahar and Commissioner Karachi Aijaz Ali Khan to keep in touch with the management of the Bohra Jamaat majalis and other programmes and provide them necessary security, support, and whatever else was required by them.

Mayor Karachi Wasim Akhtar and MQM Pakistan chief Dr Farooq Sattar paid a visit to the Taheri Masjid in Saddar on Sunday where they met with Syedna Mufaddal Saifuddin – the 53rd spiritual leader of the Dawoodi Bohra community and expressed well wishes on his visit to Pakistan.

Talking to media representatives on this occasion, Dr Farooq Sattar stressed the need for promoting Ittehad Bain-ul-Muslimeen, which he said was the need of the hour. He said the arrival of Dr Mufaddal Saifuddin was in fact a message of love and unity and all of their people work for peace and harmony around the world.

He said in the month of Muharramul Harram, we all should show the mutual understanding and unity to prove that we are peace-loving people and want progress and development of our city and country.

Mayor Karachi Wasim Akhtar, while talking to the leaders of Bohra community, said this community had a big role in the development and progress of Karachi and they always supported promotion of love and harmony among the people.

He said the development works, including road carpeting, street lights maintenance and cleanliness were started in the city before the start of Muharramul Harram and now these are being completed rapidly so that the citizens could be saved from any inconvenience while performing religious rituals during Muharram.

Full report at:



40,000 Bohras from all over world attending their annual congregation in Karachi

Shazia Hasan

September 25, 2017

KARACHI: Just a day before the Muharram moon was officially sighted in Pakistan, the roads in Saddar were crowded with men, women and children of the Dawoodi Bohra community. They were all headed towards one direction, the Taheri Masjid.

The buses, cars and motorcycles all had men in crisp white clothes and women distinctly dressed in those pretty and colourful Bohra burqas called rida.

Karachi this year is hosting some 40,000 Bohras from all over the world for their annual congregation, or Ashra Mubaraka, which takes place in different cities every year. There are visitors from India, Sri Lanka, Iraq, UAE, the rest of the Gulf region and the Far East, Malaysia, UK, Canada and the US. The hotels are full as are many Bohra homes who have welcomed members of their community with open arms.

“It is after about 21 years that we have so many people from our community visiting. It is the first time also that head of the Dawoodi Bohras Dr Syedna Mufaddal Saifuddin is holding the Muharram majlis series. When the gathering was held 21 years ago here the sermons were conducted by [the late 52nd leader or dai] Dr Syedna Mohammed Burhanuddin,” said Mustafa Tawawala, a senior member of the community in Karachi.

Since the Bohras follow the Egyptian calendar, the Muslim year for them commenced a day before everyone else in Pakistan. And the first day was marked with the birthday of the thaal or the huge stainless steel serving platter placed on a kundli or wooden stool around which some eight people can sit cross-legged to enjoy the dishes.

Usually, there are about 53 dishes on each thaal. Fifty-three because the present leader of the community happens to be the 53rd one. But that’s not all, the variety in dishes is according to the concept of sakhan, which is a wish to be blessed in as big a variety of ways are there are dishes on the thaal. The more the dishes the more the blessings.

There is all kinds of food including the popular Bohra khitchra, a rice and meat dish, chicken, fish, vegetables, pickles, salads, raita, savoury dishes, deserts and fruit on the thaal. Every meal begins and ends with the tasting of salt but on the birthday of the thaal on Muharram 1, it is customary to first pass a coconut over the thaal seven times in clockwise motion. Then after

the tasting of salt it is time to have the sweetened rice. As a shukrana or thanksgiving every happy occasion within the community begins by having the sweet dish first.

On Sunday, Sakina Bookwala and family, who crossed over to Pakistan from India by train a few days ago, were on their way for the majlis in Saddar. “We are travelling from Mumbai in a group. We first arrived in Lahore before coming to Karachi,” said Sakina, surrounded by her immediate family which includes her little daughter Sarah, who is wearing a very pretty cap with sail boats, steering wheels, anchors and lifebuoys embroidered on it.

The family is also accompanied by the extended family comprising cousins, aunts and uncles. All could be spotted from afar in their traditional attire. The women are wearing different coloured rida and the men the three-piece white kurta, pajama and saya, a long matching coat worn over the kurta. On their heads they are wearing white caps with golden embroidery. Some also wear golden caps with white embroidery.

When asked if she suggested the design on her cap, Sarah smiled shyly before nodding. And how many caps did she have? “Three,” she said. “This and two more, one decorated with lace and the other with ribbons,” she added.

“The caps serve as training headgear for when they are old enough to adorn the rida. They also prove as encouragement to dress decently,” explained Sakina. All the little girls going to attend majlis wear similar caps. One girl has different colour fish on her cap, another has beads on hers. The caps match the clothes. “We have plenty of cap makers within our community. They are experts in their craft,” said the mother.

Some of those experts can be found at the nearby Najmi Market, too. There are shops there catering specifically to the Bohra community as they are also owned by Bohras. Unstitched rida sellers, rida tailors, shops selling lace for the borders of the pleated rida capes with hoods and the long skirts and shops which sell Bohra menswear. There are also shops selling other things of daily use such as the wooden slippers, or kharawein, as they are called, attar, bukhur, the short, fat incense sticks, thaal, kundli, etc.

The visitors to Pakistan though don’t really have time to shop. Sakina and her family said that they would be leaving around the 12th of Muharram. “Wish we could stay longer but the children would miss too much of school then,” she pointed out.

With so many Dawoodi Bohras around all of sudden others want to know more about them, which is not easy to do as they are a very peace-loving, quiet community who keep to themselves and don’t like to fuss or attract attention towards themselves. “We are commonly known as ‘Bohri’ here, which is a distortion of Bohra. We don’t even call the bazaar, commonly known as the Bohri Bazaar that. We call it Bohra Bazaar,” Mr Tawawala said.

“The word ‘Bohra’ means traders, by the way,” he said. “Our community has been associated with various trades,” he added.

“For instance, if you come across a Bandukwala, you can be certain that he is a progeny of someone who traded in hunting rifles. Similarly, up in the family tree of a Sadriwala there must have been someone involved in the trade of selling or making umbrellas. So our surnames say a lot about our family businesses,” he said, adding that such names are common in Gujaratis, who happen to be business-minded people.

Full report at:



Pakistan’s requests to remove Twitter accounts doubled in six months: report

Tooba Masood

September 25, 2017

KARACHI: The number of requests made by Pakistani authorities to Twitter for removal of accounts and information has doubled since last year, according to a bi-annual transparency report of the social networking website.

Between January and June 30, the government asked Twitter to remove 24 accounts, and over 80 accounts were reported, with zero compliance.

According to Nighat Dad from the Digital Rights Foundation, there has been strict monitoring of Twitter and other social networking websites since some bloggers disappeared earlier this year.

“Several people reported that they had received notices from the Federal Investigation Agency...regarding what they had posted on social media,” she said, adding that while monitoring was a reality, Pakistan was following bad examples set by its neighbours as well as countries such as the US, Russia and Turkey.

The report, available on the website, is aimed at highlighting trends in legal requests received by Twitter, intellectual property-related requests and email privacy practices. It provides an insight into whether or not the website took any action on the requests made.

According to the report, removal requests include worldwide legal requests Twitter received from governments and authorised reporters seeking removal of or withholding content.

It claimed that from January to June this year, India had two account removal requests from the court [Pakistan had none] and more than 100 from the government.

Last year, India had one court-ordered account removal request, 96 by the government and agencies while 295 accounts were reported. Pakistan had zero court requests, 13 account removal requests made by the government and agencies while only 19 accounts were reported.

The highest number of court-ordered removals this year came from Turkey (715) while requests to remove accounts from the government stood at 1,995, followed by Russia (1,213) and France (1,038).

The highest number of accounts was reported from Turkey at 9,289, followed by Russia (1,225) and France (1,177).

Full report at:



Security forces kill 3 suspects during alleged encounter in Dera Ismail Khan

September 24, 2017

Security forces on Sunday claimed to have killed three suspected terrorists in Gara Madda near Dera Ismail Khan, the military media wing reported.

A press release issued by Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) stated that the law enforcement agencies were carrying out a search operation in Gara Madda area when the alleged encounter took place.

The officials signalled three people, riding a bike, to stop but they reportedly resorted to firing on the security personnel, ensuing an encounter, claimed ISPR.

All the three suspects were killed by the security officials during the alleged encounter whereas the security personnel remained unhurt.

Full report at:



Arab World


Russian strikes kill 45 Syrian rebels

Sep 25, 2017

BEIRUT - Russian air strikes have killed 45 members of a rebel group in the northwestern Syrian province of Idlib, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitor said Sunday.

It was unclear why the strikes, which took place Saturday, targeted members of the Faylaq al-Sham rebel group, which has taken part in peace talks supervised by Moscow in the Kazakh capital Astana. The strikes hit the group in the province of Idlib, which is part of a so-called "de-confliction" zone agreed in a deal between Syrian regime allies Russia and Iran, and rebel backer Turkey.

The Observatory initially reported a lower toll, but said the figure had risen as bodies were recovered after the strike on one of the rebel group's headquarters on the outskirts of the village of Tal Mardikh.

Faylaq al-Sham is an Islamist rebel group considered close to the Muslim Brotherhood movement. It has fought against the former Al-Qaeda affiliate that now effectively controls nearly all of Idlib after chasing its former rebel allies from their positions in fighting this summer. A spokesman for Faylaq al-Sham confirmed the group's headquarters had been targeted, despite their participation in the last round of talks in Astana. "Our participation in Astana does not in any way mean that Russia is a friendly or neutral country," Idriss al-Raed told AFP.

"The Russian bombing is not surprising, since its policy since its intervention in Syria is based on criminality and killing," he added. Russia began an intervention in Syria in support of ally President Bashar al-Assad in 2015, and has helped the regime win back large parts of the country.

Moscow also helped broker a deal for four truce zones, one of which includes Idlib province, in an agreement with Iran and Turkey inked in May. The deal excludes jihadists, but is intended to otherwise halt fighting in the agreed areas.

The three other zones are around the capital Damascus, in southern Syria and in the centre of the country. More than 330,000 people have been killed in Syria since the conflict began in March 2011 with anti-government protests.



Iraqi PM accuses Kurdish leaders of corruption ahead of referendum

24 September 2017

Iraq’s Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi held a concurrent press conference on Sunday in which he warned that a planned Kurdish referendum on Monday would “bring us into useless internal conflict”.

Speaking to reporters on Sunday, Abadi accused Kurdish leaders, including Iraqi Kurdistan Regional Government leader Masoud Barzani, of being corrupt and using the referendum as a way to hide behind internal issues like the non-payment of state employee’s salaries.

“Why not be transparent regarding the mass oil exports in Kurdistan in a clear account to the citizens? Most of Kurdistan’s internal problems are not with Baghdad and will worsen after the referendum,” Abadi said.

Barzani had earlier dismissed the concern of Iraq’s powerful neighbors, Iran and Turkey that the vote could destabilize the region, committing to respecting the laws on international boundaries” and not seek to redraw region’s borders.

Full report at:



Russia to Set up New Military Base in Eastern Syria

Sep 24, 2017

The Arabic-language al-Ahd news website quoted western media sources as reporting that Russia is to set up a new large military base in Deir Ezzur due to its reginal and international strategic importance.

Al-Ahd added that the long distance between the Russia-run Humeimim airbase and Eastern or Central Syria and the superior capabilities and features of Deir Ezzur airbase are two other reasons for Moscow's decision.

In the meantime, proximity of Deir Ezzur to the US bases in Iraq and Syria's main oilfields, on which Russia is keen to invest, have been mentioned among other reasons, al-Ahd pointed out.

The website went on to say that Moscow's decision to set up a military airbase in Deir Ezzur is also mainly aimed at preventing the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces from crossing the Euphrates River to rush towards South that is home to the richest oilfields in Syria.

Moscow warned the US on Thursday that if US-backed groups in Northeast Syria again attack the positions of the Syrian pro-government forces backed by Russia, the Russian military would use all its force to retaliate.

The troops of the SDF, a group that receives support from the US military, twice attacked positions of the Syrian Arab Army in the Deir Ezzur province with mortar and rocket fire, according to the Russian Defense Ministry's spokesman, Major General Igor Konashenkov.

Konashenkov said, “Russia unequivocally told the commanders of US forces in Al Udeid Airbase (Qatar) that it will not tolerate any shelling from the areas where the SDF are stationed."

He further added that the attacks put at risk Russian military advisers embedded with Syrian government troops.

“Fire from positions in regions controlled by the SDF will be suppressed by all means necessary,” he stressed.

Konashenkov said Moscow suspected the SDF of colluding with the terrorist group ISIL in Deir Ezzur rather than fighting it, as it claims to be. He said Russia had detected the transfer of SDF militants from the ISIL stronghold of Raqqa, to join forces with the terrorists.

“SDF militants work to the same objectives as ISIL terrorists. Russian drones and intelligence have not recorded any confrontations between ISIL and the ‘third force,’ the SDF,” the Russian general said.

The statement said that the siege of Raqqa by the SDF was halted, apparently in response to the latest advances by Syrian government forces in Deir Ezzur, which was located to the East from Raqqa along the Euphrates River.

“The Central parts of the former ISIL capital, which account for roughly 25 percent of the city, remain under full control of the terrorists,” Konashenkov remarked.

According to the statement, the Syrian government troops “continued their offensive operation” to destroy the last “ISIL bridgehead” near the city of Deir Ezzur, the provincial capital. Troops led by Syrian Army General Suheil al-Hassan liberated around 16 sq/km of territory and two settlements on the Western bank of the Euphrates River.

“More than 85 percent of Deir Ezzur territory is under the full control of Syrian troops. Over the next week the city will be liberated completely,” Konashenkov said.

The city of Deir Ezzur in Eastern Syria was besieged by ISIL in 2014. Syrian government forces lifted the blockade of the city in early September.

However, the liberation of Deir Ezzur also triggered a confrontation between Syrian government forces and the US-backed SDF militants, the point of contention being control of Deir Ezzur's oil fields.

Full report at:



Homs: Gov't Forces Continue to Purge Central Syria of Terrorists

Sep 24, 2017

The army men stormed the positions of the terrorists and won control over the villages of al-Safavaniyeh, al-Mokaramiyeh, Rasm Suwayed and Rajm al-Shareh Northeast of al-Shandakhiyeh region near the town of Jubb al-Jarah.

Earlier reports said that the army troops managed to fend off a heavy offensive of Al-Nusra Front (Tahrir al-Sham Hay'at or the Levant Liberation Board) on the pro-government forces' positions in Northern Homs on Sunday, inflicting major losses on the terrorists.

The Al-Nusra terrorists violated the de-escalation zone truce again and attacked the strongholds of the army South of the town of Talbiseh, in areas surrounding the village of al-Qantou and North of the town of al-Rastan.

The army soldiers engaged in fierce clashes with Al-Nusra and warded off their attack.

The Al-Nusra suffered heavy casualties and pulled back the remaining pockets of its forces from the battlefield.

Full report at:



Saudi-Led Coalition Launches over 70 Airstrikes on Yemeni Army in One Day

Sep 24, 2017

According to Saba'a news agency, local sources in Yemen said that the Saudi fighter jets launched airstrikes on Walad Massoud region's water canal in Sahar region of Sa'deh province in Northern Yemen.

Also the Haraz and Midi regions in Hajjah province in Western Yemen were 20 times pounded by the Saudi warplanes.

Meantime, the Saudi air force conducted 24 assaults on the two bases of al-Sharfeh and al-Shabakeh controlled by Yemeni forces and two raids on al-Taleh base in Najran region in Southern Saudi Arabia.

Also in the past 24 hours, the Saudi helicopters launched over 22 airstrikes on the positions of the Yemeni troops in Sahwah base in Assir region in Southern Saudi Arabia.

Saudi Arabia has been striking Yemen since March 2015 to restore power to fugitive president Mansour Hadi, a close ally of Riyadh. The Saudi-led aggression has so far killed at least 15,000 Yemenis, including hundreds of women and children.

Despite Riyadh's claims that it is bombing the positions of the Ansarullah fighters, Saudi bombers are flattening residential areas and civilian infrastructures.

According to several reports, the Saudi-led air campaign against Yemen has drove the impoverished country towards humanitarian disaster, as Saudi Arabia's deadly campaign prevented the patients from travelling abroad for treatment and blocked the entry of medicine into the war-torn country.

The cholera outbreak in Yemen which began in April, has also claimed 2,000 lives and has infected 700,000, as the nation has been suffering from what the World Health Organization (WHO) describes as the “largest epidemic in the world” amid a non-stop bombing campaign led by Saudi Arabia. Also Riyadh's deadly campaign prevented the patients from traveling abroad for treatment and blocked the entry of medicine into the war-torn country.

Full report at:



Al-Nusra Preparing to Attack Turkey-Backed Militants West of Aleppo Province

Sep 24, 2017

The Arabic-language al-Watan daily reported that Al-Nusra has deployed a large number of terrorists and military vehicles in areas surrounding the town of al-Artab in Western Aleppo.

The Al-Nusra's move came after the Turkish Army sent several convoys of military equipment and forces to the border with Syria, the paper said.

It added that the Al-Nusra is about to attack the al-Artab that is under the Ankara-backed militants of the Free Syria Army (FSA) to foil a plan by the Turkish army and the FSA to carry out an offensive on Al-Nusra Front positions in Idlib.

Al-Watan further said that the FSA has put its forces in al-Artab on alert.

An Arab media outlet reported last week that the Turkish Army dispatched a large number of fresh soldiers and a large volume of military equipment to the country's border with Syria's Idlib province.

The Arabic-language Al-Ahd news website reported that the Turkish army sent fresh forces and military hardware to two border regions across the regions of Bab Saqa and Ra'as al-Hasaan in Northern Idlib.

The army had forwarded its forces and equipment deployed in Hatay province to the borders with Syria yesterday.

The Arabic-language website of Russia's state news agency, Sputnik, quoted a Turkish paper as reporting that the Turkish Army was to dispatch more soldiers and military hardware to its border with Syria in Hatay province to help the Ankara-backed militants and also monitor ceasefire in Idlib de-escalation zone.

Full report at:



Syrian Army Receives More Advanced Tanks, Military Vehicles

Sep 24, 2017

The Arabic-language website of Russia's state news agency, Sputnik, reported that a large consignment, including Russian-made T-62 tanks and BRM-1K military vehicles was delivered to the Syrian army via the Tartus port in August, adding that the newly-arrived tanks and military vehicles assisted the Syrian soldiers to have an easier and fasters move while crossing the Euphrates River to hit ISIL's defense lines on the Eastern bank of the river.

The BRM-1K military vehicle in designed to carry out reconnaissance operation in the battlefield and the T-62 tanks are equipped with 115mm cannons.

The Arabic Sputnik reported earlier this month that the army had been using modernized models of T-72P and T-72P1 tanks in war on terrorists in the war-hit country.

The Arabic-language page of the Russian news agency, Sputnik, reported that the modernized tanks of T-72P and T-72P1 were being used by the army in their combat against terrorists, adding that the tanks were equipped with Contact 1 technology which has increased safety of the tanks against anti-tank shells.

Full report at:



Syrian Soldiers Repel Terrorists' Heavy Attack in Northern Homs

Sep 24, 2017

The Al-Nusra terrorists violated de-escalation zone truce again and attacked the strongholds of the army South of the town of Talbiseh, in areas surrounding the village of al-Qantou and North of the town of al-Rastan.

The army soldiers engaged in fierce clashes with Al-Nusra and warded off their attack.

The Al-Nusra suffered heavy casualties and pulled back the remaining pockets of its forces from the battlefield.

In the meantime, the army's artillery units opened fire at terrorists' positions in Talbishe and the villages of al-Qantou, al-Za'aferaneh and al-Mokaramiyeh in Northern Homs in response to the terrorists' missile and mortar attacks on the villages of Akrad al-Dasniyeh and Jabourin.  

Relevant reports said on Saturday that the army troops drove ISIL out of three more regions in Eastern Homs within the framework of their anti-terrorism operation in the Central part of the war-hit country.

Full report at:



Three Kurdish fighters killed, five wounded in blast south of oil city Kirkuk

24 September 2017

Three Kurdish Peshmerga fighters were killed and five wounded on Saturday when an explosive device blew up near their vehicle south of the Iraqi oil city of Kirkuk, security sources said.

The explosion happened in Daquq, a region bordering ISIS-held areas, the sources said.

It took place as the Kurdistan Regional Government prepares for a referendum on Monday on independence for the region under its control in northern Iraq, including Kirkuk, a multi-ethnic region also claimed by the central government in Baghdad.



Iraqi Kurdistan holds referendum in defiance of intl. community

Sep 25, 2017

Iraq's semi-autonomous Kurdistan Region is holding an independence referendum in the face of strong objections from the central government in Baghdad and in defiance of urgent calls from the international community to scrap the vote.

A total of 12,072 polling stations have opened at 8:00 local time (0500 GMT) Monday where more than 5.3 million are eligible to vote. Polls will remain open for 12 hours.

The stations are dotted across the three provinces of Arbil, Sulaimaniyah and Dohuk that form the Iraqi Kurdistan Region as well as in disputed bordering zones such as the oil-rich province of Kirkuk.

Initial results are expected to be announced 24 hours after the vote.

The non-binding vote on the secession of the semi-autonomous region has irked the central government.

Baghdad on Sunday urged the world countries not to purchase oil from Kurdistan Region in response to the referendum hours after Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi vowed to take “necessary measures” to protect the unity of Iraq.

His remarks came after President of the Kurdistan Region Massoud Barzani urged “all Kurds” to go to the polls, saying his people’s partnership with the central government in Baghdad had failed.

Neighboring countries have voiced their opposition to the Kurdish referendum plan.

Iran has denounced the “unilateral” scheme for independence, underlining the importance of maintaining the territorial integrity and stability of Iraq and insisting that the Kurdistan Region is part of the majority Arab country.

Also on Sunday, Iran closed its airspace to all flights to and from the Kurdish region at the request of the Iraqi government.

Turkey has also opposed the referendum and warned that the disintegration of Iraq has the potential to turn into a major global conflict.

The Kurdistan Region's referendum plan has also drawn large-scale criticism internationally.

Earlier this month, United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres urged Iraqi Kurdish leaders to scrap the vote which he said would undermine the ongoing battle in the Arab country against Daesh.

On September 13, the Arab League rejected the plebiscite as an illegal measure that would pose further threats to security in the already volatile Middle East.

The European Union also cautioned political parties in Iraq's semi-autonomous Kurdistan Region against holding the independence referendum.

The US, which has deployed a contingent of military forces to a base in the Kurdistan Region, has also opposed the referendum.

However, many observers view the vote in line with a long-pursued Israeli-US agenda to partition regional states.

The Israeli regime has openly come out in support of the referendum, saying it endorses an independent Kurdish state.

Full report at:



Russian general killed in Syria’s Dayr al-Zawr by Daesh

Sep 24, 2017

A Russian general has been killed by Daesh terrorists close to Syria’s eastern Dayr al-Zawr province.

According to a statement released by the Russian Defense Ministry on Sunday, Lieutenant-General Valery Asapov was killed after coming under Daesh mortar fire.

The statement added that Asapov, a senior military advisor in the country, was stationed at a Syrian command outpost aiding in the liberation of Dayr al-Zawr when he was killed.

"As a result of a sudden mortar shelling by Daesh militants, Lieutenant-General Valery Asapov was fatally wounded by an exploding shell,” read the statement.

In early September, the ministry announced the death of two more Russian servicemen in Daesh shelling in Syria. Together with Asapov, that brings the overall death toll of Russian troops in Syria to 37.

Last week, Moscow announced that the Syrian military had liberated more than 85 percent of the strategic eastern city of Dayr al-Zawr from Daesh terrorists.

The Syrian army’s liberation operation in Dayr al-Zawr is facing strong resistance and massive fire from areas where militant groups and US-backed forces are stationed.

Daesh overran large parts of Dayr al-Zawr province, including its oilfields, in mid-2014 as it seized swathes of land in Syria and neighboring Iraq.

By early 2015, the Takfiri terrorists were in control of some parts of Dayr al-Zawr and besieged the remaining parts, which were under government control.

Full report at:



Iraq urges world countries not to buy oil from Kurdish region

Sep 24, 2017

Iraq's central government has called on the world countries not to purchase oil from the semi-autonomous Kurdish region in response to a highly controversial referendum on independence, which the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) is set to hold on Monday in clear defiance of Baghdad.

According to a statement released by Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi’s office on Sunday, the government also asked the Kurdish region to hand over control of international border posts and its international airports.

The statement also called on foreign countries to “exclusively” deal with Baghdad with regards to airports and borders.

The planned referendum has raised fears of a fresh conflict in the region, which is trying to emerge from years of a campaign of death and destruction by Daesh Takfiri terrorists. The international community and the regional countries alike are strongly opposed to the referendum, saying the partitioning of Iraq could touch off a fresh bout of violence across the region.

Earlier in the day, Abadi criticized the Kurdish leaders for taking some 25 percent of the revenues that Iraq raises through exporting crude oil, saying they had not even paid salaries to employees and workers in the Kurdish region despite their hefty oil revenues.

Abadi, who addressed the Iraqi nation in a televised speech on the eve of the contentious plebiscite, said he would not allow the creation of an “ethnic government,” vowing that the Iraqi leaders would also not allow the Arab country to return to “dark times” of the past. The premier further promised that he would also take the “necessary measures” to protect the unity of Iraq.

The Iraqi prime minister added that Kurdistan’s problems were mostly of a domestic nature and the situation in that region would deteriorate as a result of the wrong and unwise decisions of its leaders.

Earlier on Sunday, Barzani said at a press conference in Erbil that his people’s partnership with the central government in Baghdad was over, calling on “all Kurds” to go to the polls “in peace” on Monday.

In a statement on September 18, United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres urged Iraq’s Kurdish leaders to scrap the vote, saying it would undermine the ongoing battle in the Arab country against Daesh.

Iran has also announced that it is opposed to the “unilateral” scheme for the independence of the Iraqi Kurdistan, underlining the importance of maintaining the integrity and stability of Iraq and insisting that the Kurdistan region is part of the majority Arab country.

Full report at:



Iraq does not allow creation of ethnic govt. in country: Abadi

Sep 24, 2017

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi says Baghdad will not allow the creation of an “ethnic government” in the Arab country as the Iraqi Kurdish region prepares for a highly controversial planned referendum on its independence on Monday.

The Iraqi premier made the remarks in a televised address on Sunday, a day before the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), led by Massoud Barzani, is to hold a contentious plebiscite on independence of the semi-autonomous Kurdish region.

Abadi also vowed that the Iraqi leaders would not allow the Arab country to return to “dark times” of the past, promising that he would also take the “necessary measures” to protect the unity of Iraq.

“Taking a unilateral decision, which can affect the unity of Iraq and its security and the security of the region, through a referendum on separation, is unconstitutional and against civil peace. We will take the necessary measures to preserve the unity of the country," the Iraqi prime minister said.

Abadi also stated that Baghdad would not “abandon” the Kurdish citizens, saying, “Iraq will remain for all Iraqis. We will not allow it to become a possession of one or the other, and we will not permit anyone to play with Iraq and not pay the consequences.”

The planned referendum has raised fears of a fresh conflict in the region, which is trying to emerge from years of a campaign of death and destruction by the Daesh Takfiri terrorists.

The international community and the regional countries alike are strongly opposed to the referendum, saying the partitioning of Iraq could touch off a fresh bout of violence across the region.

Abadi also criticized the Kurdish leaders for taking some 25 percent of the revenues that Iraq raises through exporting crude oil, saying they had not even paid salaries to employees and workers in the Kurdish region despite their hefty oil revenues.

The Iraqi prime minister added that Kurdistan’s problems were mostly of a domestic nature and the situation in that region would deteriorate as a result of the wrong and unwise decisions of its leaders.

Barzani: Partnership with Baghdad has failed

Earlier on Sunday, Barzani said at a press conference in Erbil that his people’s partnership with the central government in Baghdad was over, calling on “all Kurds” to go to the polls “in peace” on Monday.

“The partnership with Baghdad has failed and we will not return to it. We have reached the conclusion that independence will allow us not to repeat past tragedies,” Barzani said.

The Kurdish leader further stated that the plebiscite was just the first stage in the effort made by the Kurdistan region to express its opinion, adding, “After that, a long process will begin.”

“The referendum is not for defining borders or imposing a fait accompli. We want a dialogue with Baghdad to resolve the problems, and the dialogue can last one or two years,” Barzani added, in reference to disputed zones such as oil-rich Kirkuk province.

Kirkuk is not one of the three provinces that have made up the semi-autonomous Kurdish region in Iraq since 2003. However, Kurdish militants used a vacuum created when government troops were fighting against Daesh to overtake city of Kirkuk.

The United States has already expressed its opposition to the referendum, arguing that it would weaken the joint Arab-Kurdish military operations that have managed to make Daesh retreat in both Iraq and neighboring Syria.

The White House has also warned that holding the vote in “disputed areas” would be “provocative and destabilizing,” urging leaders of the Kurdistan region to call off the referendum and begin serious and sustained negotiations with Baghdad.

In a statement on September 18, United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres urged Iraq’s Kurdish leaders to scrap the vote, saying it would undermine the ongoing battle in the Arab country against Daesh.

Iran has also announced that it is opposed to the “unilateral” scheme for the independence of the Iraqi Kurdistan, underlining the importance of maintaining the integrity and stability of Iraq and insisting that the Kurdistan region is part of the majority Arab country.

Earlier on Sunday, Iran also closed its airspace to all flights to and from the Kurdish region at the request of the Iraqi government.

On September 16, Ali Akbar Velayati, a senior advisor to Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei on international affairs, expressed the Islamic Republic’s opposition to the referendum, warning that separatist moves in the region would ultimately serve the interests of the US and the Israeli regime.

Full report at:



North America


Trump Administration Revises Travel Ban To Expand Beyond Muslim-Majority Countries

September 24, 2017

The Trump administration is updating its travel ban, just hours before it was set to expire. In a proclamation signed by President Trump on Sunday, the travel restrictions now include eight countries, a couple of which are not majority-Muslim, as had been the case with all the nations in the original ban.

Five countries in the previous ban remain under restriction: Iran, Libya, Syria, Yemen and Somalia. Chad, North Korea and Venezuela have been added. The latter two are the first nations included in a version of the travel ban that do not have majority-Muslim populations, which has been a key point in litigation challenging the ban as discriminatory based on religion.

Sudan has been dropped from the order. Restrictions for Somalia will be relaxed for non-immigrant visitors, and restrictions for Iran will be relaxed for students and other exchange visitors.

The new restrictions on Chad and North Korea are a broad ban on nationals from those countries entering the U.S. For Venezuela, restrictions apply to government officials and their immediate family.

These changes are set to take effect on Oct. 18, though the restrictions on Sudan will be lifted immediately, as a result of security baselines defined by the administration.

The White House said in a statement, "The President has also determined that while Iraq did not meet the baseline, entry restrictions are not warranted under the September 24 proclamation."

"Following an extensive review by the Department of Homeland Security, we are taking action today to protect the safety and security of the American people by establishing a minimum security baseline for entry into the United States," President Trump said in the statement. "We cannot afford to continue the failed policies of the past, which present an unacceptable danger to our country. My highest obligation is to ensure the safety and security of the American people, and in issuing this new travel order, I am fulfilling that sacred obligation."

The White House also hailed the proclamation as "aimed at creating — for the first time in history — minimum requirements for international cooperation to support visa and immigration vetting and adjudications for individuals seeking entry to the United States."

There are some exceptions for nationals from the eight countries who have "bona fide" connections to the U.S., though narrower than what was ordered by the Supreme Court in its temporary ruling on the travel ban. The high court will hear arguments on the merits of the travel ban on Oct. 10.

The original travel ban was signed by Trump during his first week in office and caused chaos at airports as some nationals from the seven majority-Muslim countries on the original list were caught up in the ban mid-transit. Protests also broke out at many airports.

The original countries were Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. The first order was put on hold by a federal judge in Washington State, and that ruling was backed by an appeals court.

A second order was signed to revise the original, allowing in people from targeted countries who already held green cards and valid visas. Iraq was also removed from the ban.

A blanket ban on all refugee entry into the U.S., except for those with close family already in the country. That portion expires on Oct. 24.



Fighter jets, drones on table as Mattis visits key ally India

24 September 2017

Fighter jets, drone deals and shared concerns over Afghanistan's security look set to dominate the agenda when US Defense Secretary James Mattis visits India this week.

"The United States views India as a valued and influential partner, with broad mutual interests extending well beyond South Asia," a Pentagon statement said.

Trump and Modi met in June in Washington and the visit by Mattis is a sign "the political leadership in both countries place defence cooperation as a top priority", Mukesh Aghi, president of the US India Strategic Partnership Forum, told AFP.

Delhi and Washington share concerns about Afghanistan, with Trump announcing a new strategy for the war-torn country last month which cleared the way for the deployment of thousands more US troops.

The president has urged India to increase assistance to Afghanistan's economy, and has lambasted Delhi's arch-rival Pakistan for offering safe haven to "agents of chaos".

Mattis "will express US appreciation for India's important contributions toward Afghanistan's democracy, stability, prosperity, and security", the Pentagon said.

Experts are not expecting any Indian boots on the ground, though there may be some role for Indian military expertise in supporting the US-led training and advisory mission with Afghan security forces.

India has long vied with Pakistan for influence in Afghanistan, building dams, roads and a new parliament in the troubled country. Last year it offered some $1 billion in aid.

Full report at:



Trump casts doubt over Iran nuclear deal after missile test

Sep 25, 2017

WASHINGTON - President Donald Trump gave a stark warning Saturday that cast growing uncertainty over whether a nuclear deal clinched with Iran would survive after the Islamic republic tested a new medium-range missile.

State television carried footage of the launch of the Khoramshahr missile, which was first displayed at a high-profile military parade in Tehran on Friday. It also carried in-flight video from the nose cone of the missile, which has a range of 2,000 kilometres (1,250 miles) and can carry multiple warheads.

"Iran just test-fired a Ballistic Missile capable of reaching Israel.They are also working with North Korea. Not much of an agreement we have!" Trump tweeted.

The test comes at the end of a heated week of diplomacy at the UN General Assembly in New York, where US President Donald Trump again accused Iran of destabilizing the Middle East, calling it a "rogue state whose chief exports are violence, bloodshed and chaos."

"As long as some speak in the language of threats, the strengthening of the country's defence capabilities will continue and Iran will not seek permission from any country for producing various kinds of missile," Defense Minister Amir Hatami said in a statement.

Previous Iranian missile launches have triggered US sanctions and accusations that they violate the spirit of the 2015 nuclear deal between Tehran and major powers. An "extremely concerned" French foreign ministry, warned the launch violated the United Nations Security Council resolution that endorsed the accord.

"France demands that Iran halt all destablizing activities in the region and to respect all provisions of Resolution 2231, including the call to halt this type of ballistic activity," a statement read.

"France will consider ways, with its European and other partners, to get Iran to stop its destabilizing ballistic activities."

Iran, which fought a war with neighboring Iraq in the 1980s, sees missiles as a legitimate and vital part of its defense -- particularly as regional rivals Saudi Arabia and Israel import huge amounts of military hardware from the West.

Trump has threatened to bin the nuclear agreement altogether, saying Iran is developing missiles that may be used to deliver a nuclear warhead when the deal's restrictions are lifted in 2025. Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman denounced the test as a "provocation" aimed at the United States and its allies, including the Jewish state.

Trump is due to report to Congress on October 15 on whether Iran is still complying with the deal and whether it remains in US interests to stick by it. If he decides that it is not, that could open the way for US lawmakers to reimpose sanctions, leading to the potential collapse of the agreement.

Trump said Wednesday he had made his decision but was not yet ready to reveal it. The other signatories to the deal -- Britain, France, Germany, China, Russia and the European Union -- have all pushed for it to continue.

They point out that abandoning the agreement will remove restrictions on Iran immediately -- rather than in eight years' time -- and that the International Atomic Energy Agency has repeatedly confirmed Tehran is meeting its commitments.

Iran says all of its missiles are designed to carry conventional warheads only and has limited their range to a maximum of 2,000 kilometres, although commanders say they have the technology to go further.

That makes them only medium-range but still sufficient to reach Israel or US bases in the Gulf. "The ballistic missile which Iran fired is a provocation of the United States and its allies, including Israel," the Israeli defense minister said.

Full report at:



White House declines to confirm or deny new travel ban

23 September 2017

A White House official on Friday declined to address reports that indicate the U.S. is readying a series of new measures to replace President Donald Trump's controversial travel ban on six Muslim-majority countries.

"The Trump Administration will ensure we only admit those who can be properly vetted and will not pose a threat to national security or public safety,” the official said in an emailed statement.

The comment follows multiple reports that suggest new targeted restrictions could be announced as early as Sunday when the travel ban is slated to expire.

Trump’s executive order had been rewritten to bar residents of six Muslim-majority countries from receiving new visas after the policy had faced successive legal challenges.

In June, the Supreme Court allowed parts of the ban on new visas for travelers coming from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen to go into effect ahead of oral arguments scheduled for Oct. 10.

But what the case will address, if it goes ahead, is unclear. The 90-day visa ban expires at the end of September, and a prohibition on refugee entry expires at the end of October.

Instead, it appears Trump's executive order will be abandoned in favor of new targeted restrictions that are slated to affect more countries.

The severity of the new restrictions will vary depending on how individual countries cooperate with U.S. government mandates, as well as specific threat assessments of each country and additional factors, the Wall Street Journal originally reported.

The number of targeted countries would likely rise from six to eight, or nine, according to the newspaper.

Originally, 17 nations were slated to be affected, but roughly half came into compliance with U.S. regulations when presented with the new prohibitions.

Rather than have an end-date as was the case in the original executive order, the new measures would be calibrated to change with various factors, according to the newspaper.

The original travel ban had been hit with a series of legal defeats, with a series of federal judges ruling it was an unconstitutional attempt to ban Muslims from coming to the U.S.

Full report at:





Chechnya warlord stands up for Islam and the Rohingya

September 25 2017

The warlord of Chechnya, who calls himself “Putin’s foot-soldier”, has unnerved the Kremlin by reinventing himself as a leading advocate of Muslim causes on the world stage.

Ramzan Kadyrov, 40, clashed with the Russian government this month after organising a protest of hundreds of thousands of people in Grozny, the capital of his semi-autonomous Russian region, against the treatment of Rohingya Muslims in Burma. That followed a prominent demonstration in Moscow.

Mr Kadyrov harshly condemned Burmese brutality, saying that he would like to drop a nuclear bomb on the perpetrators of violence.

“If even Russia is going to support the devils who are today committing crimes, then I’m against the position of Russia, because I have my own perspective, my own position,” he said.



Muslim surgeon stabbed outside mosque in 'hate crime'


A surgeon was stabbed on his way to a mosque in an apparent hate crime by attackers who shouted "abusive" comments, according to a Muslim community leader.

The victim, a 58-year-old man named locally as surgeon Dr Nasser Kurdy, was taken to hospital with a stab wound to his neck following the assault outside the Altrincham Islamic Centre, in Grove Lane, in the Greater Manchester market town on Sunday evening.

He has been discharged from hospital, according to his colleague Dr Khalid Anis, a spokesman for the Altrincham & Hale Muslim Association, who said he was "very lucky".

Greater Manchester Police said two man, aged 32 and 54, were arrested within an hour of the attack, which the force is treating as a hate crime but not terrorism related.

Assistant Chief Constable Russ Jackson said: "'This is a very nasty and unprovoked attack against a much-loved local man."

Police are not looking for any other suspects, he added.

Dr Anis, who was with his friend moments after the attack, said: "It could have been very, very serious.

"He said he noticed someone cross the road and then somebody just attacked him from behind.

"There were definitely abusive comments made - obviously he was in shock at the time, he had just been stabbed so the detail of those comments I don't know but there were definitely abusive comments made by the attackers at the door of the mosque.

"We understand it was a knife - he is very lucky.

"It's obviously out of the blue, it's shocked the whole community.

"It's not just a criminal act against the Muslim community or one individual, it's the people living in Altrincham, I think we all feel that.

"The fact they attacked an orthopaedic consultant who devoted his life to helping others is really quite poignant."

Other Muslim leaders condemned the attack.

Harun Khan, secretary general of the MCB, said: "We are shocked to hear of the stabbing of a prominent Muslim surgeon outside Altrincham Mosque today in what the Greater Manchester Police have described as a hate crime.

"We are relieved to hear that the victim's injuries are not currently critical.

"Our prayers are with the victim, his family and the local community."

He called on the Prime Minister and Home Secretary to implement the Government's Hate Crime Action Plan. Mohammed Shafiq, chief executive of the Ramadhan Foundation, tweeted: "I strongly condemn the stabbing of the Imam of the Altrincham mosque earlier today. The Imam is recovering and an arrest has been made."

A video posted on Facebook following reports of the stabbing purportedly shows the victim immediately after the attack. A man is filmed sitting on a bench clutching at his neck and appears to be in some pain as people attend to him.

The footage shows them asking him about his attacker. At first he appears unable to answer and another person is overheard saying he was "hit" by something in a man's hand: "I don't think it was that sharp."

Full report at:



Survey reveals scale of hostility towards Arabs in Britain

25 September 2017

The scale of hostility in Britain towards Islam and Arabs is revealed in a YouGov survey showing most UK voters believe Arabs have failed to integrate themselves into British society, and their presence has not been beneficial.

The survey also shows that most voters back security policing based on assumptions about the likelihood of races to commit crimes – so-called racial profiling.

Only 28% believe migration from the Arab world has been beneficial to the UK, and 64% believe Arabs have failed to integrate.

The survey also shows most voters believe the number of refugees entering the UK from war-torn Syria and Iraq has been too high.

The three characteristics most closely associated with the Arab world by British people are gender segregation, wealth and Islam, with extremism and a rich history the next two identified characteristics. The degree of association with innovation or forward thinking is miniscule.

The poll, commissioned by the Council for Arab-British Understanding and the New Arab newspaper, also reveals scepticism about UK foreign policy in the region with only 15% of those surveyed saying they agreed that the UK’s foreign policy in the Arab world had helped human rights and global security. Only 13% believe UK foreign policy has been a stabilising force in the Arab world.

An astonishing 85% say they regard the invasion of Iraq in 2003 by the UK and the US as a mistake, but there is still majority support for the current UK involvement in the air campaign against Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.

The weighted survey, due to be formally unveiled at a conference on Monday, was conducted among 1,200 people from a YouGov panel in August. The published results exclude “don’t knows”.

The emerging picture – fear, ignorance and hostility – underlines the tensions in UK society about attitudes to Islam and the Arab world in the UK, with the strong backing for racial profiling likely to disturb those worried by the civil liberties implications. A total of 55% of voters regard it as right for the police to use racial profiling against Arabs or Muslims for security reasons. Only 24% disagree. Racial profiling allows the security services to police on the basis of working assumptions about the likelihood of ethnic, religious or national groups to commit offences in the UK. Support for racial profiling among Conservative voters reaches 72%.

In a survey that also reveals widespread self-confessed ignorance about the Arab world, a total of 63% say they believe Arabs have failed to integrate themselves into western society and live in isolated communities. That belief is held by 78% of leave voters in the 2016 referendum, but also by 47% of Labour voters in the 2017 election.

Asked if migration from the Arab world has been beneficial to the UK, only 23% agree, 41% say it has not been beneficial and 32% say it has been neutral. Asked if Islamophopia is a growing issue in the UK, 72% agree.

The findings suggest UK voters’ concern about migration is hardly likely to disappear after Brexit since much of it is directed at migration from outside the European Union.

For instance, 90% of Brexit supporters in 2016 believe the UK has taken too many refugees from Syria and Iraq. In total across all voting patterns 69% believe too many refugees have been taken in by the UK.

Faisal J Abbas, editor in chief of Arab News, said the poll showed on the one hand a shocking lack of knowledge of the Arab world, with 81% of Brits saying they “know little or nothing” about it.

“On the other, it showed that Brits have some very strong opinions about key regional issues. Eight in 10 say Britain was wrong to go to war with Iraq; more than half believe the UK should recognise Palestine as a state, and the majority point to the rising problem of Islamophobia in the UK.

Full report at:



UK terror suspect held in Spain over Islamic State funding

Sep 24, 2017

A Bangladeshi-origin businessman from Wales has been arrested in Spain over his alleged involvement in a worldwide Islamic State weapons programme unearthed by the UK media.

Ataul Haque is believed to be linked to a network of front companies, run from an office in Cardiff, which are accused of financing attacks in the US and shipping military- grade equipment for ISIS around the world, the Sunday Times reported.

Spanish police allege that the 34-year-old was involved in “one of the most secretive and sophisticated” branches of the terrorist organisation and that it aimed to create weaponised drones.

Balaclava-clad police with assault rifles raided Haque’s home in Merida, southwest Spain, on Friday morning.

He later appeared before an investigating judge at the national criminal court in Madrid.

The arrest follows a Sunday Times investigation last month into a network of companies in south Wales set up by Haque’s brother, Siful Sujan, who later travelled to Syria to become a senior figure in the ISIS weapons development programme and was killed, aged 31, by an American drone strike in 2015.

Sujan and Haque were directors of Ibacstel Electronics, which operated from a business park in Cardiff.

In 2015, the company was used to send USD 7,700 in cash to an ISIS supporter in the US state of Maryland for “causing destruction or conducting a terrorist attack in the United States,” according to US court papers, based on FBI evidence.

Full report at:



Russian submarine attacks Fatah al-Sham terrorists in Syria's Idlib

Sep 22, 2017

A Russian submarine has launched a barrage of Kalibr cruise missiles at the positions of the foreign-sponsored and Takfiri Jabhat Fatah al-Sham – previously known as the Nusra Front – militant group in Syria’s northwestern province of Idlib and destroyed them only a few days after the extremists attacked a unit of Russian Military Police in the crisis-hit Arab country.

The Russian Defense Ministry said in a statement that the Veliky Novgorod submarine of the Varshavyanka class – designated “Improved Kilo” by the US-led North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) – fired the missiles on Friday from the Mediterranean Sea.

“The missile strike targeted the recently detected terrorist strongholds, manpower, and armored vehicles, as well as the ammunition depots of the Jabhat al-Nusra terror group in Idlib province,” an unnamed military source said.

The source added, “The missiles flew about 300 kilometers. According to the objective monitoring data, all the targets have been hit.”

Earlier this week, Jabhat Fatah al-Sham terrorists had attacked Russian troops stationed in the neighboring Hama Province.

Colonel General Sergei Rudskoi, the head of the Russian General Staff's Main Operations Department, also said on Tuesday that Jabhat Fatah al-Sham militants had launched a large-scale attack on the positions of Syrian troops in the Idlib de-escalation zone in order to stop the government forces’ offensive in Dayr al-Zawr province. The attack was later repelled.

Idlib province, which borders Turkey, is largely under the control of Jabhat al-Nusra terrorists. It is covered by one of four designated de-escalation zones set up to separate extremist groups, including Daesh and Jabhat Fatah al-Sham, from the so-called moderate outfits.

Syrian army establishes control over several villages in Dayr al-Zawr

Meanwhile, Syrian army soldiers have liberated several villages in the western flank of the eastern province of Dayr al-Zawr from the grip of Daesh terrorists.

Syria’s official news agency SANA reported that army units had established control over the villages of Halbia, Zalbia and al-Qasabi.

Army bomb disposal teams are now combing the villages in order to defuse bombs and improvised explosive devices left by Daesh terrorists.

Later in the day, the privately-owned and pro-government al-Ikhbariya al-Soriyah television news network reported that Syrian government forces had reached the banks of the Euphrates River, and completed the siege on Takfiri militants inside the provincial capital city of Dayr al-Zawr.

Daesh overran large parts of Dayr al-Zawr province, including its many oil fields, in mid-2014 as it seized swathes of land in Syria and neighboring Iraq.

By early 2015, the Takfiri terrorists were in control of some parts of Dayr al-Zawr city and besieged the remaining parts, which were under government control. It is estimated that 100,000 people remain in the government-held parts of the city.

Full report at:



Imam who told children martyrdom was 'greater success' than school convicted of supporting Isis

Sep 25, 2017

An imam who told children that martyrdom was “greater than any other success” they could achieve at school has been convicted for supporting Isis.

Kamran Hussain’s extremist sermons were recorded by an undercover police officer at a charity-funded mosque in Stoke-on-Trent.

Prosecutors said Hussain told children as young as 10 that non-Muslims wanted to kill them and that they must “stand up and be ready to sacrifice, be ready to stand in the face of the elements of Shaytan [Satan], be ready to spill blood and have your blood spilt”.

The 40-year-old argued that he was exercising freedom of speech, and that the ability to discuss “difficult concepts in a challenging world” was an essential part of religion.

But a jury at the Old Bailey found him guilty of eight charges including supporting Isis and encouraging terrorism.

Hussain’s lunchtime speeches to the Ellahi Mosque in Tunstall High Street were recorded for four months from June last year, seeing him address around 40 worshippers including children.

Prosecutors said the 10 out of 17 sermons investigated “strayed beyond the mainstream moderate Islamic thought”.

The court heard that in June, Hussain referred to Isis as “a small fledgling state who is standing in the face of a pompous and arrogant army”, while calling on Muslims to pray for the terrorist group’s victory and for their “oppressors to be annihilated”.

The following month, he prayed for all to live under Sharia law and urged his listeners to stand against “sinners, oppressors and infidels”.

He urged them to “finish them and remove their heads for what they do”, adding: “When you don’t fulfil the command of Allah, I’m coming to remove your head.”

In August, Hussain was recorded speaking in favour of engaging in jihad, while claiming that neither the “Queen or Prime Minister” could stand in the way of the law of Allah.

Hussain said jihadis would “take over a land; they stand a black flag; and establish the law of Allah over the necks of the people, whether they like it or don’t like it”.

His words were echoed in an audio clip found on one of his mobile phones with a jihadi saying: “Inshallah... we will see the black flag rise over Big Ben and Downing Street.”

Around 15 children were present at a meeting later that month when he gave an incendiary sermon on non-Muslim “kuffar”, while floating conspiracy theories claiming that the far-right English Defence League and Britain First had been created by the Government to target Muslims.

In September, prosecutor Sarah Whitehouse QC said he told his audience “that martyrdom was the supreme success and was greater than any other success, such as school or college”.

Martyrs would go to paradise if “you go in front of Allah with the bullet wounds and the sword wounds and you are raised in that situation with the blood still coming from your body”, Hussain added.

He repeated the same sentiment later in the month, while criticising the Government’s counter-extremism Prevent programme.

Michael Ivers QC, a barrister representing Hussain, argued there was “a place for criticism and unconventional views” and “not toeing the line”.

He told jurors: “My client… does not need to channel everything he says just so it fits in with what other people think it should say.

“Just because Mr al-Baghdadi and his group – the Islamic State – have decided to take various Islamic terms, words and concepts, that everyone in the world must change their sermon and adapt what they would have said.

“Or everyone must not use the word ‘martyrdom’ anymore because you would be aligning yourself to this johnny-come-lately group who have decided to say it. Why do people have to amend what they say?”

Hussain did not react as he was found guilty on all counts, half of which were by a majority verdict.

A supporter called down from the public gallery “see you soon” as he was led from the dock, with Hussain smiling and replying “inshallah”, meaning God willing.

He was remanded in custody ahead of a sentencing hearing on Thursday, where he faces a maximum of seven years in jail for encouragement of terrorism and 10 years for supporting a proscribed organisation.

West Midlands Police Superintendent Wayne Jones said Hussain’s actions have “no place in our society” and would not be tolerated.

Mari Reid, from the Crown Prosecution Service’s counter-terror division, said Hussain had “violated” his position of trust and authority in the community.

“His audience included children, some as young as 10, who would have heard him say killing others or being killed themselves was more desirable than doing well in school,” she added.

Full report at:



South Asia


Rohingya influx into Bangladesh drops

Sep 25, 2017

COX’S BAZAR: The flood of Rohingya refugees into Bangladesh has come to a virtual halt, Dhaka officials said on Saturday, almost a month after violence erupted in Myanmar’s Rakhine State and sent nearly 430,000 people fleeing across the border.

Officials gave no reason for the dramatically reduced numbers. But Rohingya Muslim leaders said it could be because villages located near the border in Myanmar’s Rakhine state were now empty.

Bangladesh Border Guard commanders said hardly any refugees are now seen crossing on boats coming from Myanmar or trying to get over the land border. In the past two weeks there have been up to 20,000 people a day entering Bangladesh.

The UN says 429,000 Rohingya have sought refuge in Bangladesh since attacks by Ronhingya militants in Rakhine on Aug 25 sparked a major Myanmar military crackdown.

“Our guards have not seen any Rohingya coming in the past few days. The wave is over,” said Bangladesh Border Guard commander S.M. Ariful Islam.

The United Nations also said “the influx has dropped”. It said it will now release updates on the numbers of refugees entering Bangladesh once a week, rather than daily.

Rohingya community leaders said most of the Rakhine villages near the Bangladesh border are now deserted.

“Almost all the people I know have arrived in Bangladesh,” said Yusuf Majihi, a Rohingya leader at a camp at Balukhali, near Cox’s Bazar. “Village after village has become empty due to the attacks by Myanmar soldiers and torching of the houses by Moghs [Buddhists],” he added.

Farid Alam, another Rohingya leader, said “I have not heard of any Rohingya crossing the border in the past five days. All I could see is people concentrating near the main camps.” Myanmar’s de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi said this week that troops had ceased “clearance operations” targeting Rohingya militants in Myanmar’s border area.

The United Nations previously said the military crackdown could amount to “ethnic cleansing”. But despite the calm on the border, there were new signs of unrest in Myanmar.

Myanmar commander-in-chief Min Aung Hlaing issued a statement saying Rohingya militants planted a “home-made mine” that exploded in between a mosque and madrasa in Buthidaung township on Friday.

The army chief accused militants of trying to drive out around 700 remaining villagers.

Analysts highlighted however that the militants’ influence depends on the networks they have built across Rohingya communities.

Amnesty said new videos and satellite imagery indicated fires were still raging through Rohingya villages, scores of which have already been burned to the ground.

According to government figures, nearly 40 per cent of Rohingya villages in northern Rakhine have been abandoned over the past month.

Human Rights Watch on Saturday also echoed allegations from Bangladeshi officials that Myanmar security forces were laying landmines along the border.

A number of Rohingya, including children, have been killed by mines at the border.

Bangladesh authorities are meanwhile stepping up efforts to bring order to the chaotic aid distribution for refugees.

Soldiers have been deployed around a 70 square kilometre area where Rohingya have built camps on hills or in open spaces near existing UN run camps.

“We are in the process of taking over the whole relief distribution,” said an army spokesman.

He said the troops would dig hundreds of latrines for refugees after doctors warned that the camps were on the brink of a health disaster.

Even before the latest exodus, the camps were home to some 300,000 Rohingya who had fled previous violence in Rakhine.



Car bomber hits NATO convoy in Afghanistan, wounds five civilians

24 September 2017

Five civilians were wounded when a car bomber attacked a Danish convoy belonging to the NATO-led international mission in the Afghan capital, Kabul, on Sunday, security officials said.

Captain William Salvin, a spokesman for NATO’s Resolute Support mission, confirmed an attack had occurred and said a team was on the scene to recover the vehicle.

“There are no Resolute Support casualties as a result of the explosion,” Salvin he said in an emailed statement.

Afghan security officials said a car bomb had been used in the attack on the convoy.



Rohingya crisis: UN reports drop in arrivals in Bangladesh

24 September 2017

UN agencies in Bangladesh say there has been a notable drop over the past two days in the number of Rohingya refugees fleeing violence in Myanmar.

But a spokeswoman for the International Organization for Migration (IOM) told the BBC it was "too soon to say that the influx is over".

The reason for the fall in new arrivals is now being analysed.

More than 400,000 Rohingya have fled to Bangladesh since a crackdown by Myanmar's military on 25 August.

The army launched its operation in the western Rakhine state after deadly attacks on police stations, blamed on a newly emerged militant group, the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (Arsa).

Myanmar's military says its operation is aimed at rooting out militants and has repeatedly denied targeting civilians. Witnesses, refugees and journalists have contested this.

The Rohingya, a stateless mostly Muslim minority in Buddhist-majority Rakhine, have long experienced persecution in Myanmar, which says they are illegal immigrants.

Myanmar's de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi is facing mounting international pressure for her handling of the violence and the refugee crisis.

In a speech on Tuesday, she condemned human rights abuses but did not blame the army or address allegations of ethnic cleansing.

'The wave is over'

IOM spokeswoman Peppi Siddiq told the BBC there were "notably lower numbers" of new arrivals over the past two days.

"This is mainly as we have so little visibility over what may be happening in Rakhine state and much of the movement is a direct response to violence on that side of the border."

On Saturday, Bangladesh's border guards said new arrivals had almost stopped.

"Our guards have not seen any Rohingya coming in the past few days," Bangladeshi border guard commander SM Ariful Islam told AFP news agency. "The wave is over."

In a separate development, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi said he was shocked by what he had seen during a visit to makeshift shelters for Rohingya in Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh.

Full report at:





Muslim as Chief Guest at RSS’ Function: Political Compulsion or a Paradigm Shift?

Sep 25, 2017

By Nilanjan Mukhopadhyay

In a significant departure from past, organisers of one of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh’s Dusshera functions and Shastra Pujan ceremonies in Nagpur for young volunteers, or Shishu and Bal Swayamsevaks, on Sunday invited an eminent Muslim homeopath as its chief guest.

For the first time in RSS history, a Muslim was given such an honour. It has to be seen in conjunction with the organisation’s Muslim outreach programme.

The Dusshera function is significant in the yearly calendar of RSS. It was established on Vijay Dashami in 1925 by KB Hedgewar.

The decision to invite Munawar Yusuf is a noteworthy step in RSS efforts to secure acceptance among Muslims. It also paves the way for tighter embrace of eminent and politically neutral Muslims.

Significantly, Yusuf is from the Bohra community and his uncle had close personal ties with eminent RSS pracharaks. Four functions were held on Sunday evening in Nagpur. Each were attended by an estimated 600 young boys (standard 1-8).

Dusshera celebrations and Shastra Pujan (worship of weapons) are held every year separately for young RSS Swayamsevaks. Almost 2,000-2500 children turn out for these events from different parts of the city.

Shastra Pujan is a traditional RSS ritual which has often courted controversy for consecration of weapons by senior leaders, including from BJP. Dilip Deodhar, long-time RSS watcher and a former functionary, contended that getting a Muslim dignitary to address Bal Swayamsevaks is extremely significant for breaking stereotypes of Hindu children about religious minorities.

RSS has recently been engaging with Muslims on the social and religious planes. In 2015, Indresh Kumar, the spearhead of Muslim Rashtriya Manch — the RSS-connected organisation — made a public show of Muslim women tying rakhi on their ‘brother’. Since then, the Manch has been organising the event every year when Muslim girls tie rakhis on Hindu boys and vice versa.

In April this year, sarsanghchalak Mohan Bhagwat visited Syedna Mufaddal, spiritual head of Bohras at his Mumbai residence. The Syedna previously lent support for several initiatives of PM Modi, including Make in India and Swachh Bharat. This invite to a Muslim homeopath, well-known locally among Hindus and Muslims, is expected to be harnessed by RSS affiliates.

Nagpur-based MRM national co-convenor Virag Pachpore’s assertion that it’s a “welcome move” and will benefit RSS in campaigning among Muslims, is indicative of its compulsions to engage in activity that it terms as “appeasement” when opponents participate or organise such programmes. Ajay Dhakras, sanghchalak of the significant Mahal unit of RSS in Nagpur, says the homeopath’s presence “will remove the misgivings of Muslims towards RSS”.

Such programmes have traditionally been problematic for RSS and its affiliates. Given that Hindus form their core constituency, conflict with the “other” was handy.

Consequently, the RSS leadership played along with the Savarkarite animosity towards minorities, especially Muslims, though RSS ideologue MS Golwalkar downwards did not look at Muslims from the same prism as VD Savarkar.

Extending a hand of ‘overt’ friendship to Muslims is a sign of growing political compulsion of the Sangh Parivar. As the Parivar became a mainstream political force from the late 1990s, it became imperative to be socially inclusive, at least in theory.

It must be mentioned here that MRM was established in December 2002, months after the Gujarat riots and coincided with Modi’s decision to prioritise Gujarat’s economic reconstruction — a process that provided business and job opportunities to all, irrespective of religious identity. This marked the genesis of Modi’s slogan — Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas.

Yet, contradictions remain within RSS insofar as Savarkar is concerned. Despite inspiring Hedgewar to establish the organisation, he was unsparing in his mocking of it. Savarkar also headed the Hindu Mahasabha that mostly remained at loggerheads with RSS. The Sangh leadership will undoubtedly assess reaction to inviting a Muslim to its Dusshera function. The organisation always invites someone from outside the fold to preside over the function where the sarsanghchalak delivers his most important speech of the year.

It’s too early to say if the ball has been set rolling for the main Dusshera function, with top brass in attendance, to be addressed by a Muslim. For that the Sangh Parivar will have to move beyond symbolism and be guided more by commitment than compulsion.



Rohingya crisis: What happens inside Hindu refugee camps in Bangladesh, India Today explores

September 24, 2017

Among those fleeing Rakhine province of Myanmar are also Hindu families from the Arakan region. Around 100 Hindu families from Rakhine have fled to Bangladesh following the attacks by Myanmar's security forces.

These families have taken shelter in camps raised at Cox's Bazar in Bangladesh. India Today visited the camps where Hindus from Myanmar have taken refuge alongside their Muslim neighbours.

The Cox's Bazar camp is being looked after by a few activists and social workers, who have presently turned a poultry farm into a temporary camp.  With around 105 families, there are presently 550 to 600 people in this camp but the challenge is of arranging food supply for them.


Sujan Sharma, the coordinator of Hindu camp committee explained the challenges. "We have informed the local administration for support but we are yet to get any help. We are relying only on United Nations Food Programme and other supplies," Sharma said.

"We need more food from government but not much is happening. Only private organisations are helping. Government has sent only 10 kg rice and one litre oil for 100 families. UNFP has sent 25 kg rice till now. We are feeding through what we are receiving from private donations," he added.

Even septuagenarian Sarobala said, "We came from Myanmar because of torture. But, the same is being repeated here. If we are getting food, there is no shelter even in rainfall."

Malati, who wears sindoor and saree in Myanmar, is one of the refugees, who have fled Myanmar. She lives in the camp now. "We are living under constant threat to life. It is very dangerous situation. My father-in-law was called to other Rohingya camp and was beaten up because he asked for his dues. But, he got injuries in return," Malati said.


The Bangladesh government has said that Rohingya people coming from Rakhine will be treated as a Myanmar national and identity cards will soon be issued for each of them. Only those having identity cards are being given relief materials including food and medicines.

The Bangladesh government has deployed its army for smooth distribution of the food and other relief materials at 12 camps. But, none of those camps shelter Hindu refugees from Myanmar. Deputy Commissioner of Cox's Bazar Mohammad Ali Hossain said, "They will be treated as Myanmar nationals and nothing else."

Full report at:



Pakistan lies at UN, now media report says it wants UN to declare India 'terror sponsor'

Sep 25, 2017

Shailaja Neelakantan

NEW DELHI: Pakistan has reportedly begun to lobby the UN to declare India a 'state sponsor of terror', said a report in the Pakistan newspaper The Express Tribune, citing unnamed "highly credible sources".

It however didn't make for an auspicious start that Pakistan lied at the august body's General Assembly yesterday, as its representative waved a photograph of a wounded Palestinian woman, and claimed she was a Kashmiri pellet gun victim.

This would be especially troubling for Pakistan, which, according to the Tribune report, plans to "share damning evidence with key world powers" of India's alleged sponsorship of terrorism. It would need to get its evidence sourcing right to make any headway.

Still, the report said Pakistan already has, who else, but 'all-weather friend' China's support in the matter. Apparently, all the UN Security Council's veto-wielding members - especially China, of course, and Russia - will be approached to get their support on declaring India a 'terror sponsor'. After that, Pakistan prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi will apparently move a resolution in the Security Council.

As for the US, Pakistan will apparently take it "into confidence" on the issue, sources told the Tribune.

In addition, Pakistani officials will reportedly "impress upon their American counterparts to build up diplomatic pressure on India to desist from provocation along the Line of Control and the Working Boundary." This is expected to happen when an American delegation arrived in Islamabad next month for high-level talks, according to an understanding reached in a meeting between Abbasi and US Vice President Mike Pence, the Tribune report said.

It may not be an understatement to say that Pakistan may have an uphill task convincing the Security Council to declare India a 'state sponsor of terror', especially considering US President Donald Trump savagely called out Islamabad last month on the very issue it is accusing India of.

Last month, while outlining his administration's Afghan policy, Trump named Pakistan and condemned it for providing "safe havens to agents of violence, chaos and terror". Why, even Trump's maiden UN speech last week more than hinted at the country.

"It is time to expose and hold responsible those countries who support and finance terror groups like al-Qaida, Hezbollah, the Taliban, and others that slaughter innocent people," said Trump at the UN.

Like in August, when Trump threatened to cut off funding to Pakistan, at the UN, too, he spoke of denying any form of support to those who harbour terror safe havens.

"We must deny the terrorists safe haven, transit, funding, and any form of support for their vile and sinister ideology," said Trump.

Other countries too, except for China, have come out recently against Pakistan-based terror groups.

The India-Japan statement issued after Prime Minister Shinzo Abe visited the country earlier this month, named Pakistan-based terror groups Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) and Jaish-e-Muhammed (JeM). The 2008 Mumbai terror attacks were carried out by LeT operatives. And the JeM's Masood Azhar was the mastermind of last year's terror attack in Pathankot.

Not only did India convince Japan, it also got other BRICS countries to name and shame these groups at the summit in China earlier this month. Specific reference to the LeT and JeM were made in the BRICS declaration, even though China has consistently blocked India's attempt to get the UN to sanction the JeM's Azhar.

Full report at:



3 terrorists killed, jawan injured in Uri encounter

Sep 24, 2017

SRINAGAR: Three terrorists, believed to have crossed over from Pakistan, were killed while five civilians and a soldier were injured in a day-long gun battle in Uri's Kalgai village on Sunday.

One residential house also went up in smoke during the encounter, police said.

Uri DySP Syed Javed Ahmad said, "The operation is over and the people who were evacuated during the shootout have returned home. An intensive search of the area has also been conducted."

Police said the gun battle began when the security forces launched a cordon and search operation in Uri near the Line of Control (LOC). At least three-four terrorists, who were holed up in the area after reportedly crossing over from Pakistan, fired upon the security forces.

Full report at:



Kashmir terror funding: NIA summons PhD student, trader body head, 2 Hurriyat leaders

September 24, 2017

NIA has issued summons to a Kashmir university PhD student, the head of a trader’s body and two Hurriyat leaders to appear before it tomorrow in connection with a case related to the funding of terror activities in Kashmir, officials said today.

Yaseen Khan of Kashmir Traders and Marketing Federation, Aala Fazil, pursuing a doctorate from Kashmir university, and leaders of pro-Pakistan Syed Ali Shah Geelani-led Hurriyat Conference, Abdul Hameed Magrey and Wali Mohammed, have been asked to appear before the National Investigation Agency (NIA) at its headquarter in New Delhi, they said.

Kashmir Trader’s body has called for a strike tomorrow to register its protest over Khan’s summoning. Kashmir Bar Association president Mian Qayoom is likely to be summoned again by the NIA, the officials said, adding that many points related to his statement that was recorded earlier were being corroborated.

The people summoned to appear before the NIA tomorrow were likely to be questioned about alleged funding to various groups that pelted the security forces with stones, the officials said.

The NIA had registered a case on May 30 against separatist and secessionist leaders, including unknown members of the Hurriyat Conference, who have been acting in connivance with active militants of proscribed terrorist organisations Hizbul Mujahideen, Dukhtaran-e-Millat, Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and other outfits and gangs, officials said.

The case was registered for raising, receiving and collecting funds through various illegal means, including hawala, for funding separatist and terrorist activities in Jammu and Kashmir and for causing disruption in the Valley by pelting the security forces with stones, burning schools, damaging public property and waging war against India, the probe agency said in the FIR.

Hafiz Saeed, the Pakistan-based chief of the Jamaat-ud-Dawa, the front of the banned terrorist organisation Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), has been named in the FIR as an accused.

The FIR also names organisations such as the two factions of the Hurriyat, one led by Geelani and the other by Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, the Hizbul Mujahideen and the Dukhtaran-e-Millat, an all-women outfit of separatists.

NIA has also secured confessional statements from two of the accused in the case.

A confessional statement is recorded before a judicial magistrate. The accused confirms in it that he or she is giving a statement without any pressure from the probe agency.

The entire process is videographed and no investigation officer is present in the court premises during the proceedings. In case of retraction later, the agency can file a case of perjury.

The NIA has arrested 10 people so far in connection with the alleged funding of terror activities case. The list includes Altaf Ahmed Shah, the son-in-law of Geelani, and noted businessman Zahorr Watali.

Geelani’s close aides Ayaz Akbar, who is also the spokesperson of the hardline separatist organisation Tehreek-e-Hurriyat, and Peer Saifullah have also been arrested.

Full report at:



Southeast Asia


The fervent rise of Islamophobia in China

Sep 25, 2017

Whenever we talk about xenophobia and Islamophobia we often look towards the West, especially the increased level of bigotry witnessed in the US and other countries after Donald Trump’s rise to the US presidency. However, Islamophobia is well and truly alive in China and is only increasing with the passage of time. It manifests itself in the form of discrimination of Uyghur Muslims, labelling them as ‘extremists’ and/or ‘terrorists’. If you understand Chinese, it is very common to see Chinese websites such as attacking Islam and Muslims. Islamophobic Chinese users have been calling for a boycott of Halal food. A recent article titled “Eliminating Extremism Should Start from Food” suggested that anyone who refuses to eat non-halal food or does not feel comfortable eating from a non-halal restaurant ‘must have a religious extremist ideology.’

A large number of Uyghur Muslims are in detention centres without trial and some in re-education camps as part of China’s crackdown against religious ideology in Xinjiang.

The Chinese internet is heavily monitored and regulated by the government; therefore, these discriminative and anti-Islamic articles that give rise to Islamophobia among Han Chinese only exist due to state’s tacit support. The government has announced regulations—like “Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region regulation on de-extremification” as well as the recent “Religious Affairs Regulations”—to insult the Muslim Uyghurs by monitoring their religious activities and then measuring those to see if these practices or activities could be deemed fit to practice by the Chinese government. So, in essence, anything religious—no matter how mundane—declared ‘impermissible’ by the government will not be allowed.

Such policies are only helping create an atmosphere of fear, fuelling tensions between Han Chinese and Uyghur Muslims.

“The school expelled me because I prayed secretly before my first year’s final exam. A few classmates in my dormitory found out about it; they reported to the school that I am a ‘witch’, ‘extremist’, and ‘potential terrorist’. Afterwards, all other Chinese classmates refused to stay with me in the same dormitory. They said they were scared of me. I was [not only] expelled from the school, [but also] detained and questioned for a few weeks at the Kashgar police station upon returning home. So, I [had to] leave the country,” said Adele, currently studying in Canada, who studied Chinese history at Chengdu University in 2013.

Recent posters distributed by Chinese police stations have portrayed Muslims as terrorists. These were widely circulated on WeChat—a popular social media app known as Weixin in China—and gained a lot of support within China. The hateful comments made by several Han Chinese users on the app reflected the growing Islamophobia and ignorance among Chinese. Several comments declared that “any Muslim who does not drink or smoke is a Muslim extremist. One comment suggested that “they [Muslims] are dangerous terrorists”. Another comment said: “We must support our government and call police if we met people like those.”

It is quite evident that Chinese government and Chinese state media are playing a direct role in fuelling Islamophobia, all the while creating friction between Uyghur Muslims and Han Chinese due to its anti-Islamic policies.

On one hand the state is allowing Islamophobia to rise; on the other hand, the Chinese government has tried to reduce friction between Han Chinese and Uyghurs through artificial means. Part of China’s so-called “ethnic friendship and stability campaign” forces two hostile nations—the Uyghur Muslims and Han Chinese settlers—in Xinjiang (also known as East Turkistan) to love each other. It was formally introduced by Communist Party Secretary of the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region Chen Quanguo.

As per the policy, every Uyghur family is assigned a Chinese family and they are encouraged to behave like family relatives—visit each other and dine at each other’s homes and even sleep at each other’s residence. It goes without saying that a good relationship is based on equality, trust, and mutual respect; in the case of blood relationship: unconditional love. However, ignoring this fact and creating an artificial family relationship between two hostile nations through force and coercion will only increase distrust and paranoia. Many Uyghurs view these Chinese “relatives” as government spies.

“At school, I was given a Chinese sister. She is very nice. But I don’t want to be reported as an extremist to the government, so I have to be very careful. We must follow government policy,” said Gul, a high school student from Aksu.

The Chinese government has posted several videos on the internet celebrating the success of “become relatives” policy. However, many exiled Uyghurs, commenting on these videos, said: “Uyghurs have [no option but] to do whatever Chinese party asks them to do in order to avoid getting in serious trouble. They don’t want to get charged with jeopardising the unity of the two nations.”

Many Uyghurs do not believe the policy is a success. They know the relationship between them and Han Chinese is different as compared to the relationship between minorities and majorities in other multi-ethnic countries. China has asserted its territorial claims through a blatant distortion of Uyghur history, harsh repression and assimilation, and migration of millions of Han Chinese into East Turkistan—in an apparent attempt to change the demographics.

“The fake ‘relationship’ forced upon the Uyghurs and Han Chinese is a rather crystal clear relationship between that of invaders and a nation that has been invaded. Unlike Han Chinese, Uyghurs do not have any fundamental rights that citizens of nation-states enjoy elsewhere in the world,” said Dolkun Eysa, the general secretary of the World Uyghur Congress.

It is crucial to note that Chinese government has slowly attempted to paper over this friction by banning hateful phrases against Islam and Muslims that used to widely spread on China’s Weibo microblog.

“Banning hateful words here or there is not enough; it is not the honest solution since the root cause is not addressed,” Eysa added.

Since 1949, both groups have witnessed many conflicts. Every ten years or so, Uyghur uprisings have erupted against occupation and injustices, including conflicts between Uyghur farmers and Han settlers over issues such as water and land control.

Instead of ending its draconian policies and harsh regulations towards Uyghurs and putting an end to the anti-Islamic narrative in the state media, the Chinese government has obsessed over artificial attempts at harmonising the society. Therefore, similar to fake made in China products, these policies also belong in a dustbin.



Tourists Could Suffer Under New Sex Crime Law Pushed By Islamic Group

Sep 25, 2017

A new petition could outlaw same-sex and extramarital relationships in Bali, putting tourists who engage in either in danger of being jailed.

The Family Love Alliance, a group of Islamic activists, petitioned for a judicial review of Indonesia’s current sex crime laws before Indonesia’s Constitutional Court in August 2016, hoping to add an amendment that would outlaw both extramarital sex and homosexual sex, according to Indonesia Investments. Human Rights Watch researcher Andreas Harsono said that the proposed amendment went before the court in August 2017, and if it becomes Indonesian law, any tourist engaging in sex outside of marriage would be targeted for arrest, according to News AU.

Australians, according to Harsono, would be particularly at risk given their affinity for vacationing in Bali.

“The group behind this petition want to make consensual relationships outside marriage illegal,” Harsono told News AU. If it becomes a national law, Australians could be punished. We’re now waiting for the verdict. If it is to materialize, it will be used to charge same-sex couples indeed. It will be a crime.”

Only an act of the Indonesian parliament can officially make the amendment into law, but the court’s support of the amendment would influence parliament’s decision.

Active discrimination against individuals perceived to be gay and religious minorities in the Muslim majority country have increased dramatically in recent months, according to News AU.

Full report at:



Anti-apostasy laws bad for Islam, says writer

Sheith Khidhir Bin Abu Bakar

September 25, 2017

KUALA LUMPUR: Prominent Turkish-born writer Mustafa Akyol has challenged Muslims who advocate punishment for apostasy to prove that their call is supported by the Quran.

Speaking at a forum organised by the Islamic Renaissance Front, he also said laws against apostasy were self-defeating, resulting in hypocrisy and a negative view of Islam.

“There is no verse in the Quran that says people who abandon the religion must be punished in this world,” he said. “The Quran says they will go to hell if they die as apostates, but it doesn’t say they must be punished now.”

Akyol also cast doubt on the authenticity of a prophetic tradition that calls for the death of Muslims who leave the faith. He said the hadith surfaced about four centuries after the Prophet’s death and scholars had questioned its authenticity.

He attributed the ban on apostasy in the early history of Islam to political reasons and said those who continued to support it were doing so to silence critics.

“At best, an apostate becomes a munafik and such laws will end up giving a more negative perception of Islam.”

“Munafik” is a term used in the Quran to refer to hypocrites.

“In Muslim societies where there is no ban on apostasy, do you see Muslims leaving Islam in droves?” asked Akyol, an award-winning journalist who has been critical of both Islamists and secularists in his home country.

Full report at:



Singapore IS fighter challenges Prince Harry

Sep 25, 2017

SINGAPORE - A Singaporean member of the Islamic State (IS) group in Syria has appeared in a video challenging Britain’s Prince Harry to fight the jihadists, a monitoring group and authorities said Sunday. It is believed to be the first time that a fighter from the affluent city-state has featured prominently in one of IS’s videos.

In the English-language video released Saturday, a man identified as “Abu ‘Uqayl” from Singapore took issue with Prince Harry talking about a terror attack in London while on a visit to Singapore in June.  “Why don’t you come here and fight us if you’re man enough, so that we can send you and your Apaches to hellfire, biidhnillah (Allah permitting)?” he said in the video which was circulated by the SITE Intelligence Group.

Full report at:



Denying gay people from entering Malaysia may be unconstitutional, lawyers say

SEPTEMBER 24, 2017

KUALA LUMPUR — Denying a person entry into Malaysia based on sexual orientation could be unconstitutional even if the law gives the Immigration Department discretionary power to do so, criminal lawyers have argued, after the department on Thursday (Sept 21) announced a ban on the organisers and participants of a “gay party” planned for Sept 30 at a club at the heart of capital city Kuala Lumpur.

Muslim uproar over the purported party prompted the Immigration Department to announce the ban on anyone planning to participate in the party.

Immigration director-general Datuk Seri Mustafar Ali said in a press statement that the move was to preserve public order, declaring gay parties a threat to peace and security.

However, lawyers noted that homosexuality was not expressly illegal in Malaysia and there were no laws that prohibit gay people from congregating, making the department’s legal justification for the ban weak.

“A ban on someone purely based on one’s sexual orientation may be argued to be unconstitutional. As everyone is equal before the law and the entitled to the equal protection under the law,” criminal lawyer Amer Hamzah Arshad told The Malay Mail Online.

“There’s no specific law preventing people, regardless of their sexual orientation, from meeting up or having a social function.

“Having said that, if in the social function, there are people who commit acts which are against the existing laws, then the appropriate action can be taken,” he added.

Malaysia criminalises anal and oral sex as carnal intercourse against the order of nature, but there are no laws that specifically prohibit or punish same-sex attraction.

However, homosexuality, along with other non-heterosexual orientations, are taboo in Muslim-majority Malaysia.

Criminal lawyer Joshua Tay said the Immigration Act 1959/63 gave Mr Mustafar wide powers to decide arbitrarily if a person constitutes a security threat as the law did not compel him to produce proof, even if he is legally required to explain a ban.

“Being gay in Malaysia is not unlawful… so, if they have problem in determining whether someone is gay or not, then the ban will ultimately rest on the prejudices of the person exercising that power,” Mr Tay said.

Mr Mustafar did not explain if his department has a system to screen for gay people, but said it would collaborate with other agencies to “identify” those who were planning to attend the party.

Full report at:



Former President Yudhoyono Praises Humanitarian Aid Sent to Rohingya Refugees

Sep 25, 2017

Jakarta. Former President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono praised Indonesia's dispatch of humanitarian aid to Rohingya refugees initiated by President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo, saying that the move is "correct" but needs to be followed up with a stronger push to encourage neighboring countries to pay more serious attention to the ongoing crisis in Myanmar's western Rakhine State.

On Sept. 13, Indonesia dispatched its first batch of aid in the form of rice, instant meals, sanitation supplies, tents and water tanks to Rohingya Muslim refugees displaced from their homes in Myanmar and who are now in neighboring Bangladesh.

"What President Jokowi has done was correct […] I have observed this [news] when I was in Kuala Lumpur [Malaysia] and Singapore. It was the right thing to do, it needs to be followed up with further actions, like encouraging Asean and other countries to help Myanmar in tackling the humanitarian crisis," Yudhoyono said last week, referring to the Association of Southeast Nations.

Susilo, commonly known as SBY, gave a special interview with Claudius Boekan, BeritaSatu News editor-in-chief, at the former president's home in Bogor, West Java, last week.

Jokowi's aid mission, dubbed "Civic Mission Indonesia," made national headlines two weeks ago following pressure put on the administration to provide assistance to Rohingya Muslims being driven from Rakhine State by the Myanmar military.

In recent weeks, many Indonesian Muslims have made daily demonstrations in front of the Myanmar Embassy in Central Jakarta to call for an end to the large-scale military operation taking place in Rakhine.

Embassy staff have put up barbed wire fence around the building in recent days, after a petrol bomb thrown at the edifice caused a small fire earlier this month.

Islamist groups in the country also planned to stage a massive protest at Central Java's Borobudur Temple — the largest Buddhist temple in the world — to protest against the Myanmar's treatment of the Rohingya, though that plan was quickly quashed by police.

Jokowi and foreign minister Retno Marsudi earlier went on a diplomatic mission to Myanmar, where Retno met with Myanmar's de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

Full report at:





Turkey vows to take ‘all measures’ if Kurdish vote endangers security

25 September 2017

Ankara will take "all measures" under international law if the Iraqi Kurdish independence referendum being held on Monday generates threats to Turkey's national security, the Turkish Foreign Ministry said.

In a written statement it said it did not recognize the referendum and would view its outcome as null and void, adding that the Iraqi Kurdish government was threatening the peace and stability of Iraq and the whole region.

In a separate travel warning, the ministry said it strongly recommended that Turkish citizens in the Iraqi Kurdish provinces of Dohuk, Erbil and Sulaimaniya should leave as soon as possible if they are not obliged to stay.

Iraqi Kurds began voting on Monday in a historic independence referendum despite the opposition of Baghdad and neighboring states.

The vote, initiated by veteran leader Masoud Barzani, is being held across the three northern provinces of autonomous Iraqi Kurdistan, Arbil, Sulaimaniyah and Dohuk, as well as in disputed bordering zones such as the oil-rich province of Kirkuk.



France ‘extremely concerned’ by Iran ballistic missile test

24 September 2017

France said on Saturday it was extremely concerned by Iran’s ballistic missile test and called on UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to carry out a full report on the launch.

“France asks that Iran cease all destabilizing activity in the region,” Foreign ministry spokeswoman Agnes Romatet-Espagne said in a statement. “(France) will consider with its partners, notably European, the means to obtain from Iran the cessation of its destabilizing ballistic activities.”

Most UN sanctions were lifted 18 months ago under a deal Iran made with key world powers to curb its nuclear program. But Iran is still subject to an arms embargo and other restrictions, which are not technically part of the nuclear agreement.

Guterres reports every six months to the UN Security Council on the implementation of the remaining sanctions and restrictions.

Full report at:



Yemeni Army Targets King Khalid Airbase with Ballistic Missile

Sep 24, 2017

The 'Qaher M2' ballistic missile was fired at King Khalid airbase in Southwestern Saudi Arabia on Saturday night and hit the target, a Yemeni source was quoted as saying by Saba'a news agency.

Meantime, the Saudi military officials claimed that the missile has been intercepted and destroyed by the country's defense shield.

Saudi Arabia has been striking Yemen since March 2015 to restore power to fugitive president Mansour Hadi, a close ally of Riyadh. The Saudi-led aggression has so far killed at least 14,300 Yemenis, including hundreds of women and children.

Despite Riyadh's claims that it is bombing the positions of the Ansarullah fighters, Saudi bombers are flattening residential areas and civilian infrastructures.

According to several reports, the Saudi-led air campaign against Yemen has drove the impoverished country towards humanitarian disaster, as Saudi Arabia's deadly campaign prevented the patients from travelling abroad for treatment and blocked the entry of medicine into the war-torn country.

The cholera outbreak in Yemen which began in April, has also claimed 2,000 lives and has infected 700,000, as the nation has been suffering from what the World Health Organization (WHO) describes as the “largest epidemic in the world” amid a non-stop bombing campaign led by Saudi Arabia. Also Riyadh's deadly campaign prevented the patients from traveling abroad for treatment and blocked the entry of medicine into the war-torn country.

Full report at:



Iran launches war games near Iraqi Kurdistan border

24 September 2017

Iranian forces have launched war games in an area near the border with Iraq’s Kurdistan region, Iran’s state media reported on Sunday, a day before a Kurdish independence referendum in the region.

Turkey also said on Sunday its aircraft launched airstrikes against Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) targets in northern Iraq’s Gara region on Saturday after spotting militants preparing to attack Turkish military outposts on the border.

Iraq’s powerful neighbors, Iran and Turkey, strongly oppose the Kurdish vote as they fear could fuel separatism among their own Kurds. Iran also supports Shiite groups who have been ruling or holding key security and government positions in Iraq since the 2003 US-led invasion which toppled Saddam Hussein.

The Kurdistan Regional Government has resisted calls by the United Nations, the United States and Britain to delay the referendum who fear it could further destabilize the region.

Iranian State broadcaster IRIB said military drills, part of annual events held in Iran to mark the beginning of the 1980-1988 war with Iraq, are centered in the Oshnavieh border region. The war games will include artillery, armored and airborne units, it said.

Clashes with Iranian Kurdish militant groups based in Iraq are fairly common in the border area.

Turkey targets PKK

On Saturday, Turkish warplanes destroyed gun positions, caves and shelters used by PKK militants, a military statement in Ankara said. Turkey’s air force frequently carries out such air strikes against the PKK in northern Iraq, where its commanders are based.

Turkey’s parliament voted on Saturday to extend by a year a mandate authorizing the deployment of Turkish troops in Iraq and Syria.

The PKK launched an insurgency in 1984. More than 40,000 people have been killed in the conflict. It is designated a terrorist group by Turkey, the United States and the European Union.

The US embassy in Iraq cautioned its citizens that there may be unrest during a referendum, especially in territories disputed between the KRG and the central government like the multi-ethnic oil-rich region of Kirkuk.

Three Kurdish Peshmerga fighters were killed and five wounded on Saturday when an explosive device blew up near their vehicle south Kirkuk, security sources said.

The explosion happened in Daquq, a region bordering ISIS-held areas, the sources said.

ISIS’ ‘‘caliphate’’ effectively collapsed in July, when a US-backed Iraqi offensive, in which the Peshmerga took part, captured their stronghold Mosul, in northern Iraq.

Full report at:



Iran reasserts support for Iraq sovereignty

Sep 25, 2017

As Iraq’s northern Kurdistan Region is holding a controversial referendum on independence, Iran has reasserted its support for the Arab country’s sovereignty and integrity.

In a telephone conversation with Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi a day before the plebiscite, President Hassan Rouhani said that Iran was against any move that would undermine Iraq’s territorial integrity and national unity.

The vote was announced earlier in the year much to the consternation of the international community - regional countries in particular - with major parties warning that it could most likely throw the already violence-weary country into more trouble.

Prior to the vote, Iraq's Supreme Court ruled in favor of its suspension, and the Parliament voted to reject it. Abadi has even threatened military intervention in case the referendum leads to violence.

President Rouhani told the Iraqi premier, “In our view, Iraq’s Constitution should be respected by all, and any action that is in contravention of the constitution shall be deemed illegal. All should know that their legitimacy lasts as long as they act within the framework of the Iraqi Constitution.”

“In this important issue concerning Iraq, we will stand by our neighbor and the Iraqi government,” Iran's president reiterated.

The Iranian chief executive also pointed to an earlier conversation he had with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and said Ankara and Tehran shared a common stance in their support for Baghdad on the issue.

Rouhani, however, expressed certitude that the Iraqi government and people would overcome this predicament, as they did in other cases before, by virtue of prudence and wisdom.

Abadi, for his part, warned that the Iraqi Kurdistan's President Massoud Barzani, who has pressed ahead with holding the referendum despite all opposition, would direct the course of events towards a new confrontation.

Baghdad has already trusted Erbil with far more authority that has been denoted in the constitution, Abadi noted, adding that Barzani was in fact overstepping the mark.

Full report at:



Iranian drones destroy Daesh bases in Syria’s Dayr al-Zawr

Sep 24, 2017

Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) drones have destroyed several Daesh bases on the Syrian border with Iraq.

According to an IRINN TV report on Sunday, during the IRGC operations carried out in Syria’s eastern Dayr al-Zawr province, many terrorists were killed in the attacks, which also destroyed large amounts of terrorists' equipment and weapons.

The report noted that the attacks were part of operations aimed at clearing the Syria-Iraq border of the Daesh terrorist group.

In June, the IRGC fired six medium-range ground-to-ground ballistic missiles into Daesh bases in Syria’s Dayr al-Zawr in retaliation for twin terrorist attacks in the Iranian capital Tehran, which killed 17 people and injured over 50 others.

Full report at:



Hadi says Yemen conflict will be settled militarily

Sep 24, 2017

Yemen's former Saudi-backed President Abd Rabbuh Mansour Hadi has said the conflict in the country will be settled militarily rather than politically.

Speaking in New York on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly, Hadi told the Saudi-owned al-Arabiya channel that "the military solution is the more likely one for the Yemen crisis."

Hadi said a plan to hand over control of the country's main port of Hudaydah to a neutral party remained blocked by the Houthi Ansarullah movement and former President Ali Abdullah Saleh.

Elsewhere in the interview, Hadi claimed that his administration "continues to extend its hand for peace because it is responsible for the Yemeni people and for lifting the suffering from it."

Hadi also accused former US President Barack Obama of turning a blind eye to advances by Houthis across Yemen.

Hadi, however, hailed the anti-Houthi stance taken by US President Donald Trump, saying, "But the position under the current administration is better because it stands on the basis that there should be pressure on the Houthis."

The Houthis, Hadi said, still had a chance to join the political process if they agreed to hand over weapons and formed a party to help pursue national reconciliation.

The Ansarullah movement has been running state affairs since 2014, when Hadi resigned and fled to Riyadh before returning to Aden later. The movement has also been defending the country against a campaign led by Saudi Arabia since March 2015.

The Houthis say they are willing to form a national unity government to represent the whole country.

Leading a number of its vassal states, Saudi Arabia launched the deadly campaign to eliminate Ansarullah and reinstall the Riyadh-friendly Hadi. The war, however, has failed to achieve either of the goals.

The Houthis say the Saudi-backed coalition seeks to foment "destruction" inside and outside the region.

UN-brokered talks between Yemen’s warring sides have also failed to end the conflict.

The Saudi-led campaign has claimed the lives of more than 12,000 people, most of them civilians.

The United States and Britain have been providing the bulk of the weapons used by the Saudi-led forces against Yemen. The US is also providing other assistance, including the provision of intelligence, to the invading forces.

The aggression has been accompanied by a naval and aerial blockade on Yemen.

It has also taken a heavy toll on Yemen’s infrastructure and led to a cholera epidemic in the country. Almost 2,000 people have died since the outbreak of the cholera epidemic in April, according to the latest figures provided by the World Health Organization (WHO).

Full report at:





Africa: Religious Conflicts On the Rise in Africa



By Gwendolin Hilse

A study by a German academic says religious conflicts in sub-Saharan Africa have been on the rise for decades. Researcher Matthias Basedau says weak African states are a major cause.

In your study on the subject of religious conflicts in Africa, you claim eight out of ten active armed conflicts have a religious dimension. Why are countries in sub-Saharan Africa so vulnerable to this kind of conflict?

Conflicts that have a religious dimension are becoming more common worldwide and sub-Saharan Africa is no exception. The region is generally vulnerable to conflicts because many states in sub-Saharan Africa are often weak. It also has to do with the fact that religious conflicts spill over from North Africa and the Middle East; either directly from Libya or Algeria or indirectly through the spread of more radical versions of Islam. However, religion is only one aspect of these conflicts - they can also be ethnic conflicts, or conflicts over power or resources. There is no conflict based purely on religion.

You also mentioned in your study that countries with a heterogeneous population and religious communities are particularly susceptible to religious conflicts. Somalia is one of the most unstable countries in Africa; it is also one of the most religiously homogenous countries on the continent. In Nigeria the Boko Haram Islamists also frequently attack Muslims. How do you explain this phenomenon?

Basically, one must distinguish between two types of religious conflicts. In inter-religious conflicts, the conflict parties differ in their religious affiliation - for example, Christians and Muslims. This can overlap with ethnic identities, and it is clear that heterogeneous societies are more vulnerable to triggering conflicts along these lines. This is different from theological conflicts which are mostly about religious ideas. Such conflicts can arise in majority Muslim societies, such as Mali, Somalia or Northern Nigeria. But we are also aware of examples of Christian rebel groups in sub-Saharan Africa who have theological demands. The parties involved may differ on the question of what role religion should play in the state. For example, radical Muslim groups demand the introduction of Sharia law. A weak state allows these kinds of groups to be active in the first place - their radical ideology becomes more attractive to people if the state does not provide adequate public services and the politicians are corrupt. But of course, not all Muslims in these countries are radical Islamists.

Why do radical groups from North Africa and the Middle East have an interest in stirring up these conflicts?

Active radical groups have a more direct influence in North Africa, such as Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), or offshoots of the so-called Islamic State. They have an interest in creating branches in other countries. They have supported rebels in Mali and there are indications that they are also doing it in Nigeria and Somalia. Other Middle Eastern states are more likely to have an indirect influence. It is about spreading a radical version of Islam. Sub-Saharan Africa traditionally was home to a rather moderate form of Islam, for example, Sufism. Countries like Saudi Arabia or Qatar are spreading Wahhabism, or similar variants, which can indirectly create a radical ideology that leads to violence. But it is not entirely clear how this influence is spreading or how strong it is.

What role has globalization and social media played in increasing religious conflicts?

Globalization - the simplified flow of information, goods and finances - promotes these kinds of issues, not only in Africa, but also elsewhere. On the other hand, thanks to globalization, governments can also improve their networks to implement de-radicalization measures.

What counter-measures would have to be taken to stop the advance of religious conflicts in sub-Saharan Africa?

The counter-measures must be based on a careful analysis of the causes. We do not know everything yet, but some measures are likely to take hold. Firstly, we need to be aware that there are both religious and non-religious causes that must be dealt with at the same time. On the religious side, one can carry out de-radicalization measures, thus strengthening peaceful interpretations of faith. From a non-religious point of view, this is mainly about long-term development. In other words, governments and states must offer their citizens better prospects. It is about good governance and security. Several measures will be required but the good news is that some of these are already in place. African governments must do most of the work with the support of other countries. In Burundi and Nigeria for example, Germany supports pilot projects through the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) as well as the German Agency for International Cooperation (GIZ). But we should not expect that this alone will make a quick and sustainable difference.

Political scientist Professor Matthias Basedau conducts research on peace and security at the GIGA Institute of Global and Area Studies in Hamburg. He recently published a study on the rise of armed religious conflicts in sub-Saharan Africa.



Explosion in Mali kills 3 UN soldiers from Bangladesh

Sep 24, 2017

Three United Nations soldiers from Bangladesh were killed by an explosive device that detonated as they were escorting a convoy in northern Mali on Sunday, the West African country's peacekeeping mission and Bangladesh's military said.

Attacks on peacekeepers in Mali, where extremist groups continue to operate in the vast desert in the north of the country, have made the UN mission there, MINUSMA, the organization’s deadliest.

Another five UN troops were seriously wounded in Sunday's explosion, which occurred at around 7 a.m. (0700 GMT) on the main road between the towns of Anefis and Gao, MINUSMA said in a statement.

"Our thoughts go firstly to the families and loved ones. We pledge our complete support to them during this painful ordeal," the head of MINUSMA, Koen Davidse, said. "The mission will use all means to ensure that justice is rendered."

The UN did not immediately release the nationalities of the soldiers. But the Bangladesh military's media department confirmed that three of its soldiers had died by an improvised explosive device during an encounter with militants, adding that four other Bangladeshi peacekeepers were injured in the attack.

West Africa's arid Sahel region has in recent years become a breeding ground for militant groups -- some linked to al-Qaeda and Daesh -- that European countries, particularly France, fear could threaten Europe if left unchecked.

Despite a 2013 French-led military operation that drove back militants who had seized control of Mali's north, the area remains home to groups that have staged assaults on high-profile targets in the capital Bamako, Burkina Faso and Ivory Coast.

MINUSMA, established in the wake of the French intervention, has struggled to quell the unrest.

The UN Security Council established a sanctions regime this month that allows the body to blacklist anyone who violates or obstructs a fragile 2015 peace deal signed by Mali's government and separatist groups.

Full report at:



Boko Haram displaced protest poor conditions in Nigeria camp

Sep 24, 2017

Thousands of people uprooted from their homes by the Boko Haram insurgency took to the streets in the sprawling Nigerian city of Maiduguri on Sunday to protest at food shortages and poor conditions in their camp.

More than 2.6 million people have been displaced by the deadly violence in northeastern Nigeria that erupted eight years ago and forced into camps and host communities.

Around 3,000 people living in the Dalori camp protested in Maiduguri, the epicenter of the insurgency, denouncing food and water shortages as well as "appalling" living conditions.

The protesters, from Borno state's second largest town of Bama, urged the authorities to allow them to return home and rebuild their shattered lives.

"We are protesting to demand our right to return to our homes in Bama because of the appalling conditions we live in the camp," Babagana Mohammed told AFP.

"We have no food, no water and our children don't go to school," said the 32-year-old father of five.

Mohammed also said he wondered why those displaced from other towns, such as Gwoza, Dikwa and Gamboru, were allowed to return home.

The protesters were blocked by the military and police around two kilometers (over one mile) from the camp and prevented from heading to the governor's office.

"All we ask for is to be allowed to return to Bama," protester Kulo Gana said.

"We need to go back and rebuild our homes, grow our food because we are tired of living in Maiduguri in abject poverty and untold suffering," Gana said.

"We have all it takes to start a new life back home," said another protester Mohammed Kassim.

As the second biggest town in Borno state, Bama was home to 270,000 residents and a major trading hub on the road to Cameroon before it was captured by Boko Haram in September 2014.

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Biafra: What Buhari should do to IPOB, MASSOB, others – Islamic Leaders?

September 24, 2017

Some Islamic leaders have urged the President Muhammadu Buhari’s government to clampdown on members of Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) and the Movement for the Actualisation of Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB) who pose serious threat to the country.

Admitting that agitation is a form of freedom of expression, the clerics, however, urged government to apprehend and prosecute violent agitators to serve as deterrent to others.

The cleric gave the charge at the weekend in Ilorin, the Kwara state capital at the commemoration of the new Islamic calendar (Hijra).

Pioneer Grand Khadi, Kwara state Sha’aria Court of Appeal Justice Abdulkadir Orire (rtd) said “the issues of IPOB and MASSOB in the South East must be seriously attended to before they degenerated to undesirable and uncontrollable levels.”

“Insecurity is the greatest impediment to industrialisation and growth of other investments which have contributed greatly to unemployment of our youths.

“To ameliorate the situation, there is the need to swiftly confront the Boko Haram insurgents headlong, bring back the remaining Chibok girls and others from captivity. Likewise, the Niger Delta militants and kidnappers should not treated with kid gloves. “The military and para-military forces should be fortified and motivated to enhance adequate security of the lives and property of all Nigerians and others resident in Nigeria.”

Orire, also the Sarkin Malamai of Ilorin, decried the rampant incidents of ritual killings in many parts of the country.

He added that “the menace of killing, selling and buying of human beings for ritual purposes are very rampant nowadays. This act is highly ungodly, un-Islamic, barbaric and sinful.”

Current Grand Khadi of the state, Justice Muhammad Abdulkadir condemned at the growing cases of cultism and other anti-social behaviours in the Kwara.

“Our children are involved in series of nefarious activities such as cultism, killing of innocent people and kidnapping among others”, he lamented.

“Some scholars are engaged in using human beings for ritual purposes all in attempt to get riches by all means.

“All these are seriously against the teachings of Islam and what Ilorin and its environs are known for.

Full report at:




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