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Islamic World News ( 9 March 2010, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Mahmoud Ahmadinejad attacks US for Afghan 'double game'

Cyber attacks worry firms more than terrorism

‘Jihad Jane’ linked to Irish arrest of Muslim plotters

'Pak poking nose, India must change Afghanistan policy'

A third of world's jailed journalists are in Iran: Committee to protect journalists

Headley chase, Lashkar conspiracy

Obama's visit is the cause of anti-terrorism raids in Indonesia

Terrorists to make Indonesia's Aceh as Southeast Asia base

Israel, Palestine to begin indirect talks

Pakistan sponsored 26/11 attack, says prosecution

“Statement of Kasab cannot be used against accused”

Interpol alert for 16 in Dubai killing of Hamas leader

IM has shifted to Nepal after Bangladesh crackdown

'Salman met Bhatkal brothers in Dubai'

Islamabad accuses New Delhi of breaching Indus Water Treaty

Bridging the gap: Pakistan and the US

India, Brazil face emerging threats from al-Qaeda

Islamic insurance execs optimistic about growth

Libya-Switzerland feud deepens as Gaddafi faces travel ban

Indonesian Police Kill Bali Bombing Suspect

Muslim quota’ gains ground, opens floodgate of problems for UPA

Bedlam in Karnataka over cow slaughter Bill

Sheikh Tantawi, Egypt's top cleric dies aged 81

M.F. Husain applies for Overseas Citizen of India card

India not to wind-up Kabul mission

Musharraf eyes President slot again

Israel, Syria aim for nuke energy

Across party lines, disquiet among Muslim MPs

Feel free, Mr M.F Husain

Bangladeshi prisoners observed fast for their release: Sharma

Plays, film festival mark Jamia Women's Day celebrations

India rubbishes charge of involvement in Lahore blast

SP leaders oppose Bareilly cleric’s arrest

US woman charged with plotting attacks in south Asia, Europe

The Camberley mosque should be stopped

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau

URL: http://www.newageislam.com/islamic-world-news/mahmoud-ahmadinejad-attacks-us-for-afghan--double-game-/d/2560

 

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad attacks US for Afghan 'double game'

10 March 2010

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has accused the US of playing a "double game" in Afghanistan after the US used the same term to condemn Iran's role.

Mr Ahmadinejad said the US had "created terrorists and now say they are fighting them", as he appeared with Afghan President Hamid Karzai in Kabul.

US Defence Secretary Robert Gates, who is also in Kabul, has accused Iran of giving the Taliban low-level support.

Later, Mr Karzai flew to Pakistan for talks with another key neighbour.

This is Mr Ahmadinejad's first visit to Afghanistan since both he and Mr Karzai were re-elected last year.

At a joint press conference with Mr Karzai, Mr Ahmadinejad rejected the presence of foreign military forces "as a solution for peace in Afghanistan".

He said: "Our policy is full support for the Afghan people and Afghan government and reconstruction of Afghanistan."

Mr Gates, who is in Afghanistan to review the progress of the current Western troop surge against the Taliban, had earlier accused Tehran of "playing a double game" of offering friendship to the Afghan government while at the same time giving "low-level support" and money to the Taliban.

The Taliban are Sunni Muslims and sworn enemies of Shia Iran, which has growing interests and influence, particularly in western parts of Afghanistan.

Mr Ahmadinejad said it was the US that was playing the "double game".

"They themselves created terrorists and now they're saying that they are fighting terrorists," he said.

Mr Ahmadinejad criticised the US for its troops' presence, saying: "Your country is located on the other side of the world, so what are you doing here?"

Mr Ahmadinejad said that terrorism could not be defeated by armies, only by intelligence.

'Bothersome'

The BBC's Quentin Sommerville in Kabul says that President Karzai said little at the joint conference, but thanked President Ahmadinejad for his support and described Iran as a realistic friend.

Mr Karzai said: "We are very hopeful that our brother nation of Iran will work with us in bringing peace and security to Afghanistan so that both our countries will be secure."

Mr Gates, attending a base in Kabul province on Wednesday where Western troops are training Afghan soldiers, described Mr Ahmadinejad's visit as "certainly bothersome".

He said the US wanted Afghanistan to have good relations with its neighbours but that those neighbours must treat Afghanistan fairly.

He also said US troops might begin to leave Afghanistan before the previously stated withdrawal start date of July 2011, depending on "conditions on the ground".

However, he added: "We should not be too impatient.

"At the end of the day, only Afghans will be able to provide long-term security for Afghanistan."

Mr Karzai later travelled to Pakistan, which has been accused in the past of providing a haven to the Afghan Taliban.

However, it has recently stepped up its drive to arrest Taliban leaders, including alleged second-in-command Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar.

The BBC's Aleem Maqbool in Islamabad says Mr Karzai will want the leaders extradited, while Pakistan will argue for more involvement in regional strategy, particularly if Western troops do start to leave Afghanistan.

Later on Wednesday, Britain's Foreign Secretary David Miliband is expected to deliver a speech in the US, urging President Karzai to do more to find a political solution to the conflict with the Taliban.

The military effort alone will not be enough to resolve the conflict, he is expected to say, and Afghanistan's neighbours will need to play a central role in securing peace in the country.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/8559084.stm

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Cyber attacks worry firms more than terrorism

Abhijit Dev Kumar

March 10, 2010

HYDERABAD: When it comes to threats, natural or man-made, Indian companies have rated cyber security as a major concern. In the light of increased cyber attacks, over 42 per cent of enterprises perceive cyber crime as a bigger threat than terrorism, crime and natural disasters.

This was one of the findings of ‘2010 State of Enterprise Security Study,' a global study carried out by Symantec Software Solutions Pvt. Ltd., where Indian companies from sectors such as telecom, hospitality, manufacturing, retail and technology participated.

“Indian enterprises are experiencing frequent cyber attacks and the losses incurred due to them are escalating. In the past 12 months, 66 per cent of the companies experienced cyber intrusions and 51 per cent of them reported repeated attacks, while 34 per cent have experienced high number of malicious hits. On the other hand, 31 per cent said there were internal attacks as well,” said Vishal Dhupar, managing director, Symantec, at a press conference here on Tuesday.

Also, each cyber attack had a financial impact, as organisations reported loss of revenue. “Apart from financial loss, companies will have to put up with damaged brand reputation, loss of customer trust. The average revenue lost by companies due to the virtual attacks was recorded at Rs. 58.59 lakh in 2009.”

Interestingly, with IT security becoming a daunting issue for enterprises, the study pointed out that implementation of enterprise security is turning into a difficult task.

“Enterprise security is understaffed and the most affected areas in organisations are network security, web security and data-loss prevention. To tackle the issue, companies need to secure their messaging and web environments and defending critical internal servers. They should also have the ability to back up and recover data and respond to threats rapidly.”

To overcome such threats, companies should develop and enforce IT policies to secure data breach in anyway possible. “By prioritising risks and defining policies, companies will not only be able to identify threats but also come up with remedies. Also, they should know the location of sensitive information and how it's coming or leaving the organisation. Companies should be able to monitor and report their systems status and be ready for any kind of threat.”

http://www.hindu.com/2010/03/10/stories/2010031057422000.htm

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‘Jihad Jane’ linked to Irish arrest of Muslim plotters

By David Cairns

MARCH 10, 2010

A suburban American housewife who dubbed herself 'Jihad Jane' has been charged with plotting terrorist acts in Europe on the orders of Islamic extremists she met on the internet.

Colleen LaRose, from Philadelphia, is thought to have planned the death of Lars Vilks, a Swedish cartoonist who drew the Muslim Prophet Mohammed with the body of a dog in 2007.

LaRose was arrested last October, but details were not made public while Irish police kept her alleged co-conspirators under surveillance.

The US Department of Justice would not confirm that LaRose's case was related to the arrests made yesterday in Ireland over the Lars Vilks plot - but one official did say she had talked online with at least one of the seven, who are all Muslim immigrants to the Republic.

The 47-year-old posted a video of herself on YouTube in which she says she is "desperate to do something somehow to help" Muslims around the world. Prosecutors say she travelled to Sweden to carry out the murder, but was caught by the authorities before she could carry out her plan.

With her blonde hair and blue eyes, LaRose felt she could "blend in with many people" - and her looks prompted a US National Security Department spokesman to say the case "shatters any lingering thought that we can spot a terrorist based on appearance".

US prosecutors who have charged her say she had agreed to obtain residency in Europe and marry one

http://www.thefirstpost.co.uk/60721,news-comment,news-politics,jihad-jane-linked-to-ireland-arrest-of-muslim-plotters-terrorism-colleen-larose

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'Pak poking nose, India must change Afghanistan policy'

Seema Guha

March 10, 2010

As talks of a re-think of India’s Afghanistan policy gain momentum, diplomatic circles are abuzz with various kinds of steps that New Delhi needs to take to remain relevant to Kabul.

Current reconstruction and rehabilitation efforts may have struck a chord among ordinary Afghans, but this soft power projection is not enough for the tougher times ahead. Some even argue that India’s over $1-billion investments in Afghanistan may go down the drain.

With the US and Nato forces getting ready to withdraw as early as next year, New Delhi has to look at a situation where president Hamid Karzai and his people are no longer in control and the Taliban would once again call the shots.

“Unless India prepares for the time when the American’s pull out, we will not be in a position to face the political crisis that it will trigger,” former foreign secretary Lalit Mansingh said.

He suggested that one way to do so was to revive the India-Russia-Iran axis which supported the Northern Alliance and played an important role in helping the US dislodge the Taliban in 2001.

Prime minister Vladimir Putin is arriving in New Delhi on Friday and Manmohan Singh is expected to discuss Afghanistan in detail. Mansingh believes that China can also join this regional forum as Beijing is as concerned about Afghanistan and the growth of Islamic fundamentalism in Xinjiang.

Retired diplomat Rajiv Sikri believes that while the India-Russia-Iran grouping must be revived, China should not be made a part of it. He suspects that whatever is being planned would be shared with Pakistan by the Chinese. “We are buying arms worth millions of dollars from the Americans. India has to cause Washington some pain for its voice to be heard,” he added.

A senior Indian official, speaking on condition of anonymity, refuted Sikri’s argument. “Perhaps, the number of troops will come down. We don’t expect the US to leave Afghanistan high and dry,” he said.

But he admitted that Afghanistan is likely to become an old-style battleground for a proxy war between India and Pakistan. In fact, it began with India caught on the wrong foot with the bombing of the embassy in Kabul in July 2008. The second attempt was a car bomb crashing into the embassy boundary wall and the third strike on Indian interests was last month at a guest house and a hotel. Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence had a hand in all three.

Pakistan is beginning to play a political role in Afghanistan, promising the US that it can be mediator and bring the Taliban to the talks table.

http://www.dnaindia.com/india/analysis_pak-poking-nose-india-must-change-afghanistan-policy_1357372

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A third of world's jailed journalists are in Iran: Committee to protect journalists

March 10, 2010

NEW YORK: A third of the world's jailed journalists are imprisoned in Iran, the Committee to protect journalists said on Tuesday after the number of reporters held in the Islamic Republic rose to at least 52 in February.

China was next after Iran with 24 jailed journalists and then Cuba with 22. The number of journalists held in Iran was the highest recorded by the New York-based CPJ in a single country since 78 cases were documented in Turkey in 1996.

Several publications in Iran have been banned and many journalists detained since street protests broke out in the aftermath of presidential elections last year.

The CPJ said the number of journalists jailed in Iran rose by five in February from January after 12 members of the media were imprisoned and then seven of them were released.

Of the 52 journalists in jail, five had been held since before the crackdown began last year, the CPJ said. Another 50 journalists have been imprisoned and released on bail during the past several months.

"Iran is entering a state of permanent media repression, a situation that is not only appalling but also untenable," CPJ Executive Director Joel Simon said.

Full report at: http://www.dnaindia.com/world/report_a-third-of-world-s-jailed-journalists-are-in-iran-committee-to-protect-journalists_1357413

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Headley chase, Lashkar conspiracy

March 10, 2010

The Headley-Rana affair suggests that Lashkar-e-Tayyeba continues to prioritise attacks on India

TOctober 2009 arrest in Chicago of two men charged with plotting attacks in Denmak illustrates Lashkar’s transnational capabilities and the nuanced role they can play in terms of terrorism against India and the West. One of the men arrested was David Headley, (aka DaoodGilani), a PakistaniAmerican who trained with Lashkar during the early part of the decade and changed his name in order to perform surveillance in India. He made multiple extended trips to Mumbai in advance of the 2008 attacks that took place there. During each trip he took pictures and video of various targets, including all of those struck by Lashkar’s fidayeen in November 2008.

After each trip, he allegedly returned to Pakistan where he provided his Lashkar handlers with photographs, videos and oral descriptions of various locations. Headley and his handlers are believed to have discussed potential sites for a seaborne infiltration. US charges allege that Lashkar operatives in Pakistan instructed him to take boat trips in and around the Mumbai harbour and record surveillance video, which he did during a visit to India in April 2008.

Full report at: http://www.dailypioneer.com/241091/Headley-chase-Lashkar-conspiracy.html

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Obama's visit is the cause of anti-terrorism raids in Indonesia

By Arlina Arshad

10 Mar 2010

Barack Obama's planned visit to Indonesia this month has lent new impetus to raids that have left one top militant dead and his band of Islamist extremists on the ropes, analysts say.

"The most important and powerful leader in the world is coming to Indonesia, so the authorities have to tame any possible attack by jihadists," said Noor Huda Ismail, an Indonesian analyst of extremism.

Obama along with his wife, Michelle, and daughters, Malia and Sasha, are expected to visit Indonesia, where he spent four years as a child, from March 20 to 22 before heading on to Australia.

On Wednesday, during a visit to Canberra, the Indonesian president, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, confirmed the death in a police raid of Dulmatin, one of the masterminds of the 2002 Bali bombings that killed 202 people, mostly foreign tourists.

Full report at: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/expat/expatnews/7412695/Obamas-visit-is-the-cause-of-anti-terrorism-raids-in-Indonesia.html

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Terrorists to make Indonesia's Aceh as Southeast Asia base

2010-03-09

JAKARTA, March 9 (Xinhua) -- Governor of Indonesia's Aceh province on Tuesday suspected that terrorist target the country's westernmost province as the biggest terrorism activity base in Southeast Asia, Detikcom online news reported.

The governor said that terrorist have been set the province as operation target for a long time.

"Terrorists want Aceh to be their training location and be their Southeast Asia base,"said Irwandy while visiting the terrorist raid location in Pamulang of Banten province.

In the raid, the police's anti-terror special squad Densus 88 shot dead an allegedly Bali bombing terrorist named Dulmatin and his accomplices consisted of a man and a woman.

Irwandy said that the armed group purposely selected Aceh as their base as the province has a history of separatist group called Aceh Independent Movement (GAM), a separatist movement that was active in promoting independence of the province a year ago.

Full report at: http://news.xinhuanet.com/english2010/world/2010-03/09/c_13204041.htm

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Israel, Palestine to begin indirect talks

Mar 9, 2010,

JERUSALEM: Israel and the Palestinians agreed to begin indirect, American-brokered talks, the US Mideast envoy announced on Monday -- ending a 14-month deadlock in peacemaking and representing the Obama administration's first substantive diplomatic achievement here.

The announcement, however, came just hours after Israel enraged Palestinians by announcing new West Bank settlement construction on the same day US Vice President Joseph Biden landed in the region to promote negotiations.

Israel's decision to build 112 new housing units on lands Palestinians claim for a future state highlighted the tough road ahead for those seeking peace in the region.

Also underlining the difficulties are sharp divisions between Palestinian moderates and militants as well as a hardline Israeli government opposed to many concessions seen as necessary for peace.

Full report at: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/middle-east/Israel-Palestine-to-begin-indirect-talks/articleshow/5663682.cms

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Pakistan sponsored 26/11 attack, says prosecution

March 10, 2010

Mumbai: In a pointed indictment of Pakistan's military establishment in the November 26, 2008 Mumbai terror attacks, Special Public Prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam, in his opening argument, on Tuesday termed the incident “a classic case of sponsored terrorism” perpetuated by “State actors involved in the security apparatus of Pakistan.”

When the Special Sessions Court trying the case began hearing the arguments from the prosecution's side, Mr. Nikam said he was consciously using the term “sponsored terrorism.” He dwelt on the role of an unidentified Major General, and the intention of the attackers and their handlers to zealously conceal their Pakistani identity.

“The November 26 attack was not an ordinary attack by 10 indoctrinated terrorists. It was well orchestrated, meticulously planned and [reflected] a deep-seated hatred for our country. It was a classic case of sponsored terrorism. Evidence by the prosecution has successfully established that the attack was sponsored by Pakistan. Irrefutable inference [can be drawn] that it was sponsored by State actors involved in the security apparatus of Pakistan,” Mr. Nikam contended.

Full report at: http://www.hindu.com/2010/03/10/stories/2010031056151500.htm

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“Statement of Kasab cannot be used against accused”

March 10, 2010

ISLAMABAD/LAHORE: In a significant ruling that could affect the trial of seven suspects charged with involvement in the Mumbai terror attacks in Pakistan, a Bench of the Lahore High Court on Tuesday ruled that Ajmal Amir Kasab's confessional statement could not be used against the accused.

Kasab, the lone surviving gunman in the attacks, is being tried in a special court in Mumbai.

The Rawalpindi-based Bench gave the order in response to a petition filed by Lashkar-e-Taiba commander Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi and other accused who are being tried by an anti-terrorism court for planning and helping to execute the 2008 attacks.

However, the Bench dismissed the plea of Lakhvi and the other accused for acquittal.

The Bench said they could not be acquitted when their trial was under way in the anti-terrorism court.

The accused filed the petition in the Lahore High Court earlier this year.

A Bench of Justices Sagheer Ahmed Qadri and Ijazul Ahsan reserved verdict on January 26. The two judges were subsequently recalled to Lahore, and the verdict was announced on Tuesday by Justices Asad Munir and Ijaz Ahmed.

Violation

Full report at: http://www.hindu.com/2010/03/10/stories/2010031063471500.htm

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Interpol alert for 16 in Dubai killing of Hamas leader

March 10, 2010

PARIS: Interpol has expanded its wanted list over the killing of a Hamas commander to 27 people, and also revealed previously unreleased details about one suspect, including his alias and a snapshot of his smiling face.

The Lyon, France-based organisation says it issued Red Notices, its highest-level alert, for a 16-strong team accused of shadowing Mahmoud Al-Mabhouh before his killing. It had already issued notices for 11 other suspects last month.

The alerts came at the request of authorities in Dubai in the United Arab Emirates, where Mahmoud al-Mabhough was found dead in a luxury hotel room in January. His methodical stalking and killing has been widely blamed on Israel's Mossad spy agency. Israel has neither confirmed nor denied involvement.

Dubai police had previously released information about all of Interpol's newly listed suspects, with the exception of one. Interpol listed his alias as Joshua Aaron Krycer. It did not give his age or nationality, but he appeared to be in his late 20s or early 30s. His snapshot showed a dark-haired man with thick eyebrows grinning confidently at the camera.

Full report at: http://www.hindu.com/2010/03/10/stories/2010031055851400.htm

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IM has shifted to Nepal after Bangladesh crackdown

Caesar Mandal,

Mar 10, 2010

KOLKATA: The terror threat to Kolkata seems to be getting stronger. Indian Mujahideen (IM) operatives from Nepal had conducted a reccee of the city around four months ago, say intelligence officers who are grilling Salman Ahmed alias Chhotu, an IM terrorist wanted in several terrorist attacks across India.

Security agencies started tracking Salman, a native of Azamgarh in Uttar Pradesh, after the September 18, 2008, serial blasts in Delhi that killed 30 people and injured 100. He was arrested near the UP-Nepal border a few days ago.

According to sources in various agencies that are grilling Salman, he has revealed that most IM operatives have shifted base from Bangladesh to Nepal after the massive crackdown by Bangladesh Rapid Action Battalion in the past few months. Another suspected IM operative, Shehjad Ahmed, who was nabbed in the first week of February from UP, has corroborated this, saying IM has strengthened its Nepal unit for operations in eastern India.

Salman has told police that Kolkata is very much on the terror radar, say sources. A few weeks ago, IM operatives had visited Kolkata to activate their sleeper cells.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/IM-has-shifted-to-Nepal-after-Bangladesh-crackdown/articleshow/5665538.cms

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'Salman met Bhatkal brothers in Dubai'

Wed, Mar 10

New Delhi, March 9 -- Salman Ahmed (21) alias Chotu, one of the founding members of the Indian Mujahideen (IM) met the Bhatkal brothers in Dubai, police said. Police said Riyaz and Amir Bhatkal, along with Amir Reza Khan, had founded the IM. During his interrogation, Ahmed has told the police that the IM stopped recruiting youth from Azamgarh in Uttar Pradesh due to police pressure and too much media attention.

All the 17 IM members arrested across the country till date belong to Azamgarh. The IM was recruiting men from all over the country and the hotbeds were Mumbai and Pune, Ahmed told his interrogators.

Police said Ahmed, who reached Dubai on a fake passport procured in the name of Fahad Ansari, said he met several members of the IM in Dubai. "Both Riyaz and Amir Bhatkal with fugitive terrorist Amir Reza Khan were present in Dubai and Ahmed went there as part of a strategy.

He has told us that he met the duo in a tall building and after they moved to Pakistan," said a senior police officer. It was in Pakistan that Ahmed was given extensive arms and ammunitions training for 10 days, the police said.

http://in.news.yahoo.com/32/20100310/1053/tnl-salman-met-bhatkal-brothers-in-dubai.html

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Islamabad accuses New Delhi of breaching Indus Water Treaty

Seema Guha

March 10, 2010

New Delhi: Realising that the Kashmir issue has been milked to the hilt and there is now little support for the cause, Islamabad is relying on water to gain international sympathy. For the last one year or so, it has been running a well-oiled campaign about “big bully” India denying the farmers of Pakistan their rightful share of water.

In fact, Islamabad has gained some sympathy over this, with Western diplomats in New Delhi harping on the point.

The latest salvo came not from the government but from Jamaat-ud-Dawa chief Hafiz Saeed, whom India accuses of being the mastermind of the Mumbai terror attack. He drummed up anti-India hysteria by saying on Sunday that New Delhi had “imposed war on Pakistan” by constructing illegal dams and diverting water from its rivers. He asked the Pakistani government to get ready to counter this “aggression”.

India refuted the charge on Tuesday. Water experts explained that New Delhi never deviated from the Indus Water Treaty first signed in 1960. It took eight years of intense negotiations to complete the treaty which has so far stood the test of time. Even during the 1965 and 1971 wars between India and Pakistan, it worked to the advantage of both countries.

Full report at: http://www.dnaindia.com/india/report_islamabad-accuses-new-delhi-of-breaching-indus-water-treaty_1357357

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Bridging the gap: US and Pakistan

10 Mar, 2010

Much continues to divide the American administration and the Pakistan Army when it comes to war against militancy in the region.

But a relentless focus on the negatives can often miss signs of convergences when and where they occur. In the last week, Gen Petraeus, the head of US Central Command, has given interviews to PBS and CNN in which he has taken a measured and thoughtful line on Pakistan: the general appreciated the turnaround in Swat/Malakand division, acknowledged the sacrifices of military men and civilians, outlined some actions the security forces have already taken in North Waziristan, accepted the wrongs committed by the US in the region in the past and showed some sympathy for the army’s desire of ‘strategic depth’ in Afghanistan.

And yet Gen Petraeus did not end up sounding like he was simply pandering to a remote Pakistani audience. When asked by Charlie Rose of PBS, “So the bottom line is you are satisfied with the Pakistani effort and the Pakistani cooperation and the Pakistani effort to wipe out the Taliban in Pakistan?” the general demurred. “Well, I wouldn’t allow you to put words in my mouth. What I would say is that Pakistan has made significant progress in its fight against extremists threatening its existence.”

Full report at: http://www.dawn.com/wps/wcm/connect/dawn-content-library/dawn/the-newspaper/editorial/14-bridging-the-gap-030-zj-08

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India, Brazil face emerging threats from al-Qaeda

March 10, 2010

The CIA on Tuesday warned India and Brazil that they face "emerging threats" from al-Qaeda and Taliban, though the terrorist outfits are "on the run" due to extreme pressure exerted on them in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

CIA Director Leon Panetta, said that the US spy agency has a "fundamental duty to provide warning and prevent surprise," which also refers to "emerging threats" to nations like Brazil and India, indicating the need for growing cooperation between the US and India on intelligence sharing.

Intense operations have put top al-Qaeda and Taliban leaders under extreme pressure and "many of them are on the run," Panetta claimed.

He said "Our counter-terrorism operation have put put top al-Qaeda leaders under intense pressure and much of their network has been disrupted."

He said that American efforts both in Afghanistan and Pakistan were aimed at hitting command and control centres of the al-Qaeda. Panetta's claim comes as Pakistani forces with the help of CIA have captured some top Taliban commanders, including the outfits Nos 2 Mulla Abdul Ghani Baradar.

Full report at: http://www.dailypioneer.com/240945/India-Brazil-face-emerging-threats-from-al-Qaeda.html

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Islamic insurance execs optimistic about growth

Mar 10, 2010

SINGAPORE - The Islamic insurance, or takaful, market is expected to see strong growth this year but the industry is fraught with challenges that includes low market penetration and a lack of Syariah-compliant investment opportunities for takaful players.

Industry executives said they want to see more Islamic bond, or sukuk, issuances in order to help them balance their portfolios away from equities and reduce risk.

At a conference on takaful yesterday, industry executives say they remain optimistic about growth prospects.

Currently, total takaful contributions only account for 1 per cent of the global insurance market.

Full report at: http://www.todayonline.com/Business/EDC100310-0000091/Islamic-insurance-execs-optimistic-about-growth

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Libya-Switzerland feud deepens as Gaddafi faces travel ban

10 March 2010

Leader among Tripoli officials slapped with Europe-wide travel ban as relations with Geneva take turn for worse

In the bad old days before Muammar Gaddafi cleaned up his act, international isolation and confrontation with the west were a normal state of affairs for Libya. But now the Jamahiriya – the "state of the masses" – is mired in an embarrassing crisis with Switzerland that has escalated into a Europe-wide travel ban for the country's leaders and top officials.

From Gaddafi downwards, no senior Libyan is allowed to visit the Schengen area, the 25-country passport-free zone that includes most EU member states, as well as non-EU Switzerland.

The trouble began in 2008 over the arrest in Geneva of Gaddafi's son Hannibal on charges, later dropped, of mistreating two domestic employees. Libya retaliated by arresting two Swiss men on visa charges, cutting oil supplies and withdrawing billions of dollars from Swiss banks. A controversial public apology by the Swiss president failed to end the affair.

Full report at: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/mar/10/libya-switzerland-gaddafi-feud

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Indonesian Police Kill Bali Bombing Suspect

March 10, 2010

Police in Indonesia have killed the suspected mastermind of the 2002 Bali bombings in a shootout at a Jakarta Internet café, striking a huge blow to Islamic terrorism in the world's most populous Muslim country.

Indonesia's president announced the raid during a speech today at Australia's parliament.

The suspect, who goes by the single moniker Dulmatin, was accused of assembling a car bomb and explosive vests used in a sophisticated terrorist strike on nightclubs on the resort island of Bali, which killed 202 people in 2002, including seven Americans and 88 Australians. Dulmatin is alleged to have detonated the bombs by remote control from his mobile phone. He was the last Bali bomber to evade capture, after three others were convicted and executed by firing squad in 2008.

The Bali bombings were the deadliest terror attack in Indonesia's history, and Dulmatin was the country's top fugitive.

Full report at: http://www.aolnews.com/world/article/indonesian-police-kill-suspected-bali-bombing-mastermind-dulmatin-in-internet-cafe/19390985

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Muslim quota’ gains ground, opens floodgate of problems for UPA

Kumar Uttam

March 10, 2010

The UPA's refusal to provide Muslims sub-quota in the women's reservation Bill, which passed its first hurdle on Tuesday, has opened a floodgate of problems for the Congress. While its ally Trinamool Congress revolted against the present format of the Bill, prominent Muslim bodies and clergies rallied around Mulayam Singh Yadav and Lalu Prasad clamouring for minority quota. Under the circumstances, Mamata's stand came as a major setback for the Congress many of whose leaders are also wary of the ramifications of the Bill on minority vote-bank.

Mamata's party, which depends heavily on the Muslim support to dislodge the more-than-three-decade-old Left Front Government in West Bengal in the next year's Assembly election, has only emboldened the Yadav chieftains who enjoy substantial support among Muslims.

The Congress, which is trying to resurrect itself in the cow-belt dominated by the Yadav duo, is faced with another problem. Those opposing the Bill in its present form are in a place to weaken the stability of the Government that enjoyed a comfortable majority so far.

The Congress's worries were well reflected in Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's speech in the Rajya Sabha wherein he referred to the concerns of members about minorities and OBCs and said while minorities in general have not got an adequate share of the fruits of development, his Government was committed to work sincerely for their uplift through several other measures.

Full report at: http://www.dailypioneer.com/241167/%E2%80%98Muslim-quota%E2%80%99-gains-ground-opens-floodgate-of-problems-for-UPA.html

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Bedlam in Karnataka over cow slaughter Bill

Kestur Vasuki n

As anticipated, the Opposition Congress vociferously protested the introduction of 'Karnataka Prevention of Slaughter and Preservation of Cattle Bill 2010' by the BJP government in Karnataka.

Noisy scenes were witnessed in the State Assembly on Tuesday over the introduction of this Bill. However, amidst all the protest and dharna, the Speaker KG Bopaiah, introduced the Bill by voice vote.

Leader of the Opposition Siddaramaiah led the Congress dharna against the Bill. Opposing the Bill at the introduction stage itself, Siddaramaiah and others termed it as "draconian" and "anti-people."

Demanding its withdrawal, the Congress leaders said the Bill was against the culture of the "majority of people. The House witnessed rowdy scenes with the Speaker struggling to control the protesting members. At one point, the introduction of the Bill by voice vote, led to heated exchanges between the Opposition and treasury benches. The entire Opposition sat on dharna and relented only after the Speaker agreed to allow time for discussion on the Bill.

Full report at: http://epaper.dailypioneer.com/ThePioneer/Pioneer/2010/03/10/ArticleHtmls/10_03_2010_007_007.shtml

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Sheikh Tantawi, Egypt's top cleric dies aged 81

Mar 10, 2010

Egypt's foremost Muslim cleric, Sheikh Mohammed Sayed Tantawi, has died, aged 81, while on a trip to Saudi Arabia.

Sheikh Tantawi was the Grand Imam of the al-Azhar mosque and head of the al-Azhar University, Sunni Islam's centre of learning and scholarship.

He died of a heart attack in the Saudi capital Riyadh, where he was attending a prize-giving ceremony.

Sheikh Tantawi had infuriated radical Islamists with his moderate views on women wearing the veil.

His body will be taken to the Saudi city of Medina, the burial place of the Prophet Muhammad, for burial, Egyptian authorities said.

An adviser to the Sheikh told Egyptian television Sheikh Tantawi's death was a shock, as before leaving for Saudi Arabia he had seemed in "excellent shape and health".

A member of Sheikh Tantawi's office, Ashraf Hassan, told news agency Reuters that Mohamed Wasel, Sheikh Tantawi's deputy, was expected to temporarily take over leading the institution until the Egyptian president appointed a new head for the body.

Moderate views

Full report at: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/8559397.stm

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M.F. Husain applies for Overseas Citizen of India card

March 10, 2010

DUBAI: Famed painter M.F. Husain may have quit his Indian citizenship, but he does not want to snap links with the country of his birth and has applied for an Overseas Citizenship identity.

“India is my motherland and I simply cannot leave that country. What I have surrendered is just a piece of paper,” Mr. Husain, revered by many as ‘India's Picasso,' was quoted as saying by the local media, a day after he surrendered his Indian passport in Doha.

“I will continue to travel to India and have applied for an Overseas Citizen of India [OCI] card as Indian law does not permit its citizens to hold dual citizenship. I'm here to fulfil my professional commitments and I'm grateful that Qatar came to my support,” said the 95-year-old artist, whose decision to quit his Indian citizenship has caused dismay and cynicism in equal measures among Indians in the Gulf.

‘Great loss'

Full report at: http://www.hindu.com/2010/03/10/stories/2010031064492200.htm

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India not to wind-up Kabul mission

Mar 10, 2010

NEW DELHI: India is looking at various options including scaling down operations of its missions in Afghanistan in the wake of terror attacks on Indians there.

Government is also planning to put all the Indians working in projects like power and road together to ensure their safety, reliable government sources said today.

This follows an assessment made by National Security Adviser Shivshankar Menon's visit to Kabul last week in the wake of terror attack on Feb 26 on guest houses frequented by Indians in which seven Indians were killed.

Apart from the embassy in Kabul, Indian has consulates in Herat, Kandahar, Mazar-e-Sharif and Jalalabad.

The sources said that an advisory may also be issued asking all Indians in Afghanistan to return home.

They recalled that the operations of the Indian medical mission has already been put on hold after the Feb 26 attack in which the hand of Pakistan based LeT operatives is suspected.

Taliban terrorists, with backing from Pakistan's ISI, had targeted the Indian embassy twice in the past. On July 7, 2008, 60 people, including four Indians--one IFS official and a brigadier-ranked official were killed in the attack, while on Oct 8 last year, four ITBP jawans were among those injured.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/India-to-scale-down-Afghan-operations/articleshow/5667990.cms

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Musharraf eyes President slot again

Shafqat Ali

10 March 2010

Islamabad, March 9: Former Pakistan military ruler Pervez Musharraf has said that he can run for the President’s slot in the next election.

“I am not ruling it out,” he said, adding, “If at all, I have to be democratically elected, one has to wait for the next elections.”

The former military ruler said his return depends on the people of Pakistan. Mr Musharraf is currently in London and has been making bids for coming back to power. He ruled Pakistan from 1999 to 2008 before quitting under pressure. In an interview with US newspaper Oregonian, Pervez Musharraf said he does not think of a coup developing in Pakistan. He said Pakistan is very stable and there is no problem. Asked if he was in touch with the Army Chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, Mr Musharraf said, “I am not in touch with him at all. The military is there to safeguard the integrity of Pakistan.”

He refused to comment when asked his views about President Asif Ali Zardari.

He criticised the Obama administration for announcing a withdrawal date in Afghanistan.

“In Afghanistan, we must defeat Al Qaeda, we must dominate the Taliban,” he stressed.

Asked how he evaluates President Obama’s handling the war in Afghanistan, Mr Musharraf said, they are taking good decisions as far as increasing the number of forces is concerned.

http://www.asianage.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=4968:musharraf-eyes-president-slot-again&catid=36:international&Itemid=61

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Israel, Syria aim for nuke energy

10 March 2010

PARIS, March 9: Israel and Syria are separately eyeing plans to develop nuclear power to meet the energy needs of the volatile West Asia, ministers told a conference hosted by France on Tuesday to promote reactors.

Israel unveiled hopeful plans to work with its Arab neighbours to build a joint nuclear plant in a project that the country’s infrastructure minister said would serve the entire region and advance peace.

“Nuclear energy can be an area of regional cooperation with the objective of promoting peace,” said Israeli minister Uzi Landau told the Paris conference.

Syria, which has been investigated by the UN nuclear watchdog over its alleged attempt to build a secret nuclear reactor, also said it would like to develop atomic energy. Damascus needs “to consider alternative sources of energy, including nuclear energy,” said Syrian deputy foreign minister Faisal Mekdad. French President Nicolas Sarkozy opened the conference on Monday with a call for many more countries to adopt nuclear power to produce electricity, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and ease pressure on energy prices. Israel has already chosen a site for the nuclear reactor — its first to be put to civilian energy use — in the northern part of the Negev desert, said Israeli minister Landau. Israel has two nuclear reactors, one near the southeast city of Dimona that is widely believed to be used to produce atomic weapons, and a second research reactor at Nahal Soreq near Tel Aviv.

Full report at:  http://www.asianage.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=4975:israel-syria-aim-for-nuke-energy&catid=36:international&Itemid=61

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Across party lines, disquiet among Muslim MPs

Mar 10, 2010

On a day the Women’s Reservation Bill cleared the first hurdle, Muslim Lok Sabha MPs cutting across party lines demanded a sub-quota for the already under-represented community, a demand that could well turn out to be an irritant for the Congress as it takes the legislation to the Lower House.

Significantly, the demands came from within the Congress and allies like the National Conference and Muslim League as well. The Trinamool Congress has already struck a note of dissent, with its MPs staying away from voting on the Bill in the Rajya Sabha.

Maulana Mohammad Asrarul Haque, who represents Kishanganj in Bihar, became the first Congress MP to say that the views regarding sub-quota for Muslims, backward classes and Dalits needed to be looked into. The opponents of the Bill — the RJD, JD(U) and Samajwadi Party — have been consistently making this demand.

“I am not against reservation for women, but at the same time I would urge that the fears or opinions regarding Dalits, minorities and OBCs being left out should be addressed. Reservation should be such that women from all sections and communities get adequate representation,” he told The Indian Express.

Haque’s sentiments are shared by other Muslim MPs of the Congress, though many did not admit to it openly. “We will have to abide by whatever the high command says. We will talk in the party forum,” said Ismail Hussain, a Congress MP from Assam.

MPs belonging to allies National Conference (NC) and the Muslim League have also joined their counterparts from the BSP, JD(U) and Majlis-E-Ittehadul Muslimeen’s Asaduddin Owaisi in raising similar demands.

Full report at: http://www.indianexpress.com/news/across-party-lines-disquiet-among-muslim-mps/588964/2

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Feel free, Mr M.F Husain

Wed, Mar 10

March 10 : Now that M.F. Husain has settled in Qatar where there is total freedom, he is free of the shackles imposed by the Indian system on freedom of expression. All those who appreciate his art would now eagerly await his imaginative paintings of the leaders of Qatari society, hopefully not artistically clothed.

His fans would not expect him to confine nudity to Hindu deities alone; it would extend to all the religions. Having already painted his mother, daughter and Muslim kings fully robed, Mr Husain, being the freed citizen that he is now in Qatar, should be prepared to remove those clothes. How can the artist in him be satisfied with seeing Saraswati and Parvati alone in the nude?

Fortunately for art in the nude, the courts here cannot do anything to Mr Husain now that he has run away from the Indian judicial system. All the cases could be now buried amidst the pictures drawn by him. Both would mercifully go to the dustbin. I am very anxious not to get branded as communal in my thinking. I want to be hailed as a secularist and so I would say with all the force I can command that Mr Husain has the inalienable right to depict the Hindu deities in the most obscene manner while taking care to paint even non-religious Muslims fully clothed. He can claim that because he hates Hitler he painted him in the nude so he could humiliate him and in the same breath justify his nude pictures of Hindu goddesses as depiction of purity.

Full report at: http://www.asianage.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=4937:feel-free-mr-husain&catid=42:op-ed&Itemid=67

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Bangladeshi prisoners observed fast for their release: Sharma

March 10, 2010

KOLKATA: Even as the Centre is planning radical reforms in the prison system, 138 Bangladeshi nationals resorted to hunger strikes and protests recently to secure their release from a prison in West Bengal's Murshidabad district despite them having served their full sentence.

While 102 prisoners were deported to Bangladesh over the past two weeks, the deportation orders for the remaining 36 persons have been received and will be sent back shortly, said B.D. Sharma, the State's Additional Director General and Inspector General Correctional Services.

Recently some of them had gone on a hunger strike at the Berhampore Central Jail, demanding their release after which the Department of Correctional Services took immediate action.

“This is a persisting issue — a human problem — where bureaucratic processes result in these persons having to be kept in prison even after they have been declared released prisoners,” Mr. Sharma admitted.

If a Bangladeshi is arrested here for entering the country without required documentation, according to provisions of the Foreigners Act, he or she can be sentenced for a period between six months and three years.

But most of the time these persons end up languishing in prisons for much longer periods as the process of repatriation is lengthy and involves several authorities, he said.

http://www.hindu.com/2010/03/10/stories/2010031055190900.htm

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Plays, film festival mark Jamia Women's Day celebrations

Urvashi Sarkar

March 10, 2010

NEW DELHI: Jamia Millia Islamia has come up with a host of week-long events to mark the centenary of International Women's Day.

The celebrations began this past week on the Jamia campus with Jamia's Outreach Programme and the Sarojini Naidu Centre for Women's Studies organising a 30-minute street play titled “Voh Bol Uthi” by Moloyshree Hashmi in which women were portrayed asserting themselves against patriarchy.

On International Women's Day on Monday, a film festival was organised in which documentary films and feature films were screened focusing on various aspects of women's everyday life and struggle.

Films were shown on the struggle of women such as Irom Sharmila in Manipur against the Armed Forces Special Powers Act, the plight of mothers who had lost children in the Kashmir Valley, women's lot in the backdrop of the Iranian revolution and domestic violence.

Five women at the university from the teaching and non-teaching staff were also felicitated.

Later this week, Jamia's Outreach Programme and the Academy of Third World Studies are organising a play titled “Salsaland Shahmaama” based on the Bamiyan Buddhas in Afghanistan which will be performed by an all-women group.

A seminar on livelihood issues among women will be organised, consisting of presentations on thesubject by representatives from the media, women's forums and NGOs. Also, there are plans to hold an exhibition and sale of products made by marginalised women, including members of Jamia's Zakir Hussain Memorial Welfare Society and Balak Mata Centre.

Representatives from Jamia will also attend a meeting of the South Asian Women's Network in Chandigarh to discuss the problems faced by women across the spectrum such as education, health, art and literature.

http://www.hindu.com/2010/03/10/stories/2010031060990200.htm

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India rubbishes charge of involvement in Lahore blast

March 10, 2010

India on Tuesday rubbished allegations of its involvement in the Lahore blast, saying it is not for the first time Pakistan has levelled such "baseless" charges.

Though there was no official reaction from the Ministry of External Affairs on the charges by Pakistan Interior Minister Rehman Malik that India was involved in yesterday's suicide attack at a building in Lahore where police interrogated high-value terrorist suspects, sources here said "there is no evidence of India's involvement."

This is not for the first time such charges have been levelled against India, the sources said, adding last time also when Sri Lankan cricket team was attacked, this charade was played and similar charges were levelled against India.

"No evidence has been shared with us. This is whole fabrication by that side. And they will continue doing it till they convince themselves that this fabrication is convincing," the sources said.

http://www.dailypioneer.com/240946/India-rubbishes-charge-of-involvement-in-Lahore-blast.html

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SP leaders oppose Bareilly cleric’s arrest

March 10, 2010

With an eye on the Muslim vote bank, the Samajwadi Party (SP) on Tuesday raked up the issue of the arrest of Maulana Tauqir Raza in Bareilly.

Capitalising on the issue, the party directed its Muslim MLAs and leaders to raise the issue among their community members.

Tauqir Raza, a Maulana of Barelvi sect of Muslims, was arrested by Bareilly police on Monday for his alleged inflammatory speeches during the Juloos-e-Mohammadi on March 2 inciting violence in the city.

Raza heads Ittehad Millat Council (IMC), an organisation of Barelvis, with considerable following. His followers trace his lineage to Janab Imam Ahmed Raza commonly referred as 'Aala Hazrat' whose shrine is situated in Bareilly. The shrine is considered as the main seat of Barelvi sect of Sunni Muslims.

SP MLA Abbas Ali Zaidi stated that Maulana Tauqir Raza was revered by the whole community. He said that the issue of his arrest would be raised with the authorities and his supporters would take to the streets over the matter.

Moreover, Zaidi claimed that Muslim clerics across the state would be roped in the protest against Raza's arrest. “The manner in which Maulana Raza was arrested while on way to attend a peace committee meeting in Kotwali, reflected the anti-Muslim face of the BSP government.

He demanded Raza's release within 24 hours. “We are contacting the Ulemas (clerics) for their support in protest,” said Zaidi.

Reacting to the situation, SP MLA Shahid Manzoor said: “It is an attempt on part of the state government to conceal its failure in curbing violence in the city. Maulana Tauqir is a cleric who commands respect in the community. His arrest cannot be justified.”

Party's state minority wing chief Ataur Rehman, who lives in Bareilly, alleged that Muslim shrines were under attack from the BSP government. “It is an issue of khanqahi (shrines) following among Muslims. It is direct assault on Muslim faith as Maulana Tauqir Raza is the spiritual leader of Muslims. BSP Government does not have courage to arrest the real faces behind the Bareilly violence,” said Rehman.

http://www.dailypioneer.com/240972/SP-leaders-oppose-Bareilly-cleric%E2%80%99s-arrest.html

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US woman charged with plotting attacks in south Asia, Europe

March 10, 2010

NEW YORK: A Pennsylvania woman was today charged with conspiracy to provide material support to terrorists and recruit men and women on the Internet to wage "violent jihad" in south Asia and Europe.

According to the indictment, unsealed in a Pennsylvania court, American citizen Colleen R LaRose, also known as 'Fatima LaRose' and 'Jihad Jane' is charged with conspiracy to provide material support to terrorists, conspiracy to kill in a foreign country, making false statements to a government official and attempted identity theft.

LaRose, born in 1963, and five unindicted co-conspirators (located in South Asia, Eastern Europe, Western Europe and the US) used the internet to recruit women who had passports and the ability to travel to and around Europe in support ofviolent jihad, prosecutors said.

"Today's indictment, which alleges that a woman from suburban America agreed to carry out murder overseas and to provide material support to terrorists, underscores the evolving nature of the threat we face," assistant attorney General for National Security Division David Kris said.

La Rose has been in custody since October 15 last year, arrested only days after another American citizen David Coleman Headley was arrested by the FBI in Chicago.

Headley, charged with plotting terror attacks in India and Denmark, too has strong ties with Pennsylvania. His mother Serrill Headley brought him to Philadelphia, where she ran a bar called Khyber Pass, after she separated from his Pakistani father.

http://www.dnaindia.com/world/report_us-woman-charged-with-plotting-attacks-in-south-asia-europe_1357408

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Lt-Gen Pasha given one-year extension

March 10, 2010

By Shakil Shaikh

ISLAMABAD: Lt-Gen Ahmed Shuja Pasha has been given one-year extension as a three-star general and he is also expected to continue heading the elite intelligence agency — the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) — during this extended period.

Military sources have confirmed that Army chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani has given Lt-Gen Pasha one-year extension, as he was reaching the age of superannuation by March 18, 2010.

Senior officials told The News that after extending his service for one-year, Chief of the Army Staff General Kayani has brought the information in the knowledge of the prime minister that he wants Lt-Gen Pasha to continue as the Director-General ISI.

“We believe the prime minister will agree to the proposal and he would keep Lt-Gen Pasha as the ISI head,” said a senior official. Though the Army chief is competent to give one-year extension to any three-star general without seeking the approval of the government, the case of Lt-Gen Pasha is a little different in the sense that the ISI comes under the prime minister.

Lt-Gen Pasha is the fourth three-star general, who has been granted extension in the recent times under the plea described in so many words as compulsion for the sake of national security.

Earlier, Corps Commander Masood Aslam has been given extension for an indefinite period. Lt-Gen Sikandar Afzal, now on the UN assignment, and Lt-Gen Tanvir are already on extension. Some other two-star generals are also on extension.

Former Army chief General Pervez Musharraf, who was also the president of the country, did not give too many extensions during the time he remained the Army chief (1998-2008). He gave one-year extension to Major General Zaka and the same was applied in the case of his Chief of Staff Lt-Gen Hamid Javed, who was virtually placed in the Aiwan-e-Sadr during that extended period.

Many say that the extension of senior military officers blocked chances of many officers for promotion. But in case of Lt-Gen Masood Aslam, it was absolutely essential for the continuation of operation against the terrorists.

Lt-Gen Sikander Afzal was given extension on ROR (retirement on return) basis, as he would stand retired once he comes back after the US assignment. Lt-Gen Pasha is rated very high in the Army and enjoys lot of respect for the work he has been doing for the national security purposes. His work and focus to flush out terrorists or nab them has been hailed by the Western powers as well.

http://thenews.com.pk/top_story_detail.asp?Id=27700

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The Camberley mosque should be stopped

Mar 10, 2010

Islam obliges us to be good neighbours and respect others

Tonight in the surprising setting of Surrey’s stockbroker belt, Christian and Muslim groups will clash. The cause of the ill-will is whether Surrey Heath Council should grant planning permission for a new mosque.

This mosque will have five domes and two 100ft minarets that will loom over the Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst. Little wonder many people regard it as a provocation — and that’s why I will be at the council meeting opposing its construction.

The religious needs of Camberley’s burgeoning Muslim community has been served since 1996 by an old Victorian school converted into a mosque. While not perfect, the present premises, with a little modification, could cater for future expansion.

However, elements within the Bengali Welfare Association, which runs the mosque, have aligned themselves to Tablighi Jamaat — a dogmatic, ultra-conservative group whose controversial mega-mosque project close to the 2012 Olympics site in London was recently rebuffed. This new mosque will not be in the interests of all British Muslims as it will allocate less than a fifth of the space to female worshippers. But there is nothing in Islamic theology that legitimises a misogynistic apartheid in the house of God. Nor does the history of Islamic architecture show that mosques must have towering minarets.

Places of worship vary greatly throughout the world of Islam, reflecting local building traditions. From Timbuktu to East Timor, mosque buildings blend into their particular surroundings. There is no Islamic injunction that minarets are intrinsic to mosques. In fact, the first minarets were only constructed decades after the death of the Prophet Muhammad. Their main purpose then was to make possible the broadcast of the prayer call from an elevated spire. Today, modern sound technology has rendered this function superfluous. That’s why building two twin minaret towers, so close to a renowned military college, is a provocation.

We British Muslims, who enjoy full freedom of faith, should remember that Islam obliges us to be good neighbours and respect others. Rather than dismissing objections as either racist or intolerant, we should listen to local opinion. And if the Muslims of Camberley are still determined to build their “traditional” mosque, they should seek an alternative site. More importantly, they should jettison reactionary ideology and adopt a progressive Islam that is part of the British mainstream.

Dr Taj Hargey is the chairman of the Muslim Educational Centre of Oxford and the imam of the Summertown Islamic Congregation in Oxford

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/columnists/guest_contributors/article7055771.ece

URL: http://www.newageislam.com/islamic-world-news/mahmoud-ahmadinejad-attacks-us-for-afghan--double-game-/d/2560


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