New Age Islam
Fri Apr 19 2024, 03:06 AM

Islamic World News ( 27 Dec 2009, NewAgeIslam.Com)

Comment | Comment

March to Ghalib's haveli for keeping flame burning

Millions throng Karbala for Ashoura

10 killed, 100 injured in two simultaneous blasts in Pak

Bomb Kills 4 Pilgrims in Northern Iraq as Millions of Shi'ites Observe Ashura

Millions of Iranians hold rallies to commemorate Shiite Muslim ritual of Ashura

In Iran, protesters clash with security forces

Tehran police 'in fatal clashes with protesters'

30 injured in clashes during Muharram procession in J&K

Al Qaeda bid to blow up US airliner foiled

Nigerian charged for trying to blow up US jet

Detroit: Flyers foil Qaida man’s bid to blow up US jet

'Sounded like firecracker in pillowcase'

DETROIT: Plotter a UK engineering student

Device more incendiary than explosive: Bomber

Nigerian Muslim organization condemns terrorism

Passengers relive terror of Flight 253 as new threat emerges from al-Qaida

Detroit: America now associates London universities with terror plots and Islamic extremists

A feminist, a maulvi & his Magna Carta of Muslim women's rights

A Muslim saint in Gorakhpur preaches Hinduism

Allowing ethnic Malay Muslims to use the Yawi dialect as a way to peace

'Chehel Minbar,' special tradition to commemorate Tasu'a

Pak N-site was target of American jihadis

Iraqi, Iranian armies dig in for standoff

Will Zardari's fall bring back the army?

Imran Khan offers to mediate between Taliban and Pak govt

US drone strike kills at least five in NW Pakistan: Officials

3 Fatah activists killed in Israeli raid

U.S. missiles kill militants in Pakistan

'Israel used to do more than just talk'

Israel’s airport security increased following attack

Karzai impersonator tests limits of Afghan free speech

Hezbollah chief asks Egypt to stop Gaza border wall

2 blasts in last 24 hours in Karachi cause 43 injured

Ban Ki-Moon: Gaza reconstruction not being addressed

Headley not to be extradited to India: FBI

The week in review: A merry, safe Christmas

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau

URL of this Page:


March to Ghalib's haveli for keeping flame burning

TNN 27 December 2009,

New Delhi: Days after Mirza Ghalib's haveli made headlines for being used as a venue to host marriage parties, admirers of the poet organized a candlelight vigil to commemorate his 212th birthday.

The venue was again his haveli and the occasion was marked by the presence of lyricist Gulzar, director Vishal Bharadwaj and his wife and singer Rekha Bharadwaj.

The candlelight walk is organized every year by the Ghalib Memorial Movement spearheaded by Kathak dancer Uma Sharma.

Talking about the misuse of Ghalib's haveli as a marriage venue, Gulzar said: "We should not blame the government for everything. We need to create awareness among people to conserve and protect monuments and this candlelight walk is a step forward in that direction. To keep the great poet's memory alive, a people's movement should be started to convert the haveli into a museum. We do not need money from people, but only their support. It is important to conserve our monuments in order to preserve our tradition and history."

As reported by TOI on December 22, a marriage function was held inside the haveli. Thereafter, the caretaker of the haveli was suspended and an FIR was lodged by the state department of archaeology.

Vishal Bharadwaj called the walk from Ghanta Ghar to Ghalib's haveli a nostalgic experience. Said Bharadwaj: "Through this walk we have retraced Ghalib's journey." His wife recited Ghalib's ghazals thereafter.

Sharma said she had decided to start the movement to save Ghalib's haveli and his memory after she visited the place during the shoot of a show and found it in a bad state. Said Sharma: "I have been dancing to Ghalib's ghazals for years now. I visited the haveli during the filming of a show and found it in a bad shape. We started the Ghalib Memorial Movement to keep his memory alive and got the government to preserve the haveli. I heard about a marriage party taking place in the haveli a few days back. The entire episode is very sad and shows that no one is looking after the monument. We have now decided to hold cultural events on his death anniversary also."

Writer Pavan K Varma said the memory of Ghalib and his works should be kept alive and that can only happen by reviving Shahjahanabad. Said Varma: "Shahjahanabad is just living, not growing. If we do not look after our heritage, Old Delhi will soon be deserted by its people."

Talking about the neglect of Old Delhi and the unfortunate episode around the haveli, former Union minister Vijay Goel said: "The concentration in terms of growth has shifted to New Delhi. But it is Old Delhi which has the tourist potential and needs to be revived. While crores are being spent on restoring CP, it is Chandni Chowk that will be visited most by tourists during the Commonwealth Games 2010."

A dance performance by Uma Sharma and ghazal recitals by other artistes were also held at a haveli in Kucha Pati Ram after the walk. The haveli had been repaired for the event. Said activist Firoz Bakht Ahmed: "Cultural activities like Yadgar-e-Ghalib are needed so that no one can misuse heritage buildings."


Millions throng Karbala for Ashoura

December 27, 2009

Up to three million Shia men and women have flocked to the Iraqi shrine city of Karbala to participate in the annual Ashoura commemorations, despite bomb blasts that left at least seven dead.

Tens of thousands security personnel had been deployed for the occasion and city officials on Sunday later claimed that the "day had been a success".

Ashoura pilgrims have been targeted in a number of attacks over the past week, killing more than 180 people.

On Sunday, at least five pilgrims were killed and 15 others wounded after a blast targeted a religious procession in the northeastern town of Tuz Khormato.

Blasts in the capital Baghdad killed two more pilgrims.

Sunday's commemorations marked the climax of Ashoura, the yearly mourning period in which Shia Muslims remember the seventh century death of the Prophet Muhammad's grandson, Imam Hussein, in a battle against overwhelming odds in the central city of Karbala.


To commemorate his death, black-clad pilgrims marched to Karbala in long processions, waving green flags and chanting religious slogans. They marched past crowds of onlookers towards Imam Hussein's shrine, beating themselves around the chest, back and head with fists, chains and swords.

As pilgrims poured into the city, police formed eight cordons around the city as a protective measure.

About 1,000 snipers were positioned on roof-tops and sniffer dogs pressed into service to help find any explosives.

About 600 female staff were placed on three roads entering the city to counter women suicide bombers, who have struck in the past.

CCTV cameras were also used to follow any incidents in the city.

"It was difficult to get in, but it's better than having bombings and lots of victims," Mohammed Abu Sajad, one of the pilgrims, said.

Baghdad has also seen a rise in security personnel during the commemorations.

Some pilgrims will visit a Shia shrine in the Kadhimiya district of the capital.

Security for the commemoration was seen as a key test for the government of Nuri al-Maliki, the Iraqi prime minister, with a general election planned for March 7.

"I came to show my belief in Imam Hussein. This event has nothing to do with personal motivations or politics," Mohammed Abdul Hussein, a 40-year-old who travelled from neighbouring Babil province, said.


10 killed, 100 injured in two simultaneous blasts in Pak

Agencies, Posted: Sunday, Dec 27, 2009 at 1952 hrs

Islamabad: Two near-simultaneous terror strikes on Sunday targeted Shia religious gatherings in the southern port city of Karachi and the capital of Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, killing at least 10 people and injuring nearly 100.


A suicide bomber detonated his explosives when police guards prevented him from entering the Pir Alam Shah Bukhari 'imambargah' or Shia prayer hall in PoK capital Muzaffarabad.


Provincial Minister Ghulam Murtaza Gillani said 10 people were killed in the attack and eighty people, including some policemen, were injured.


The 'imambargah' is located in a high-security area near a military hospital, where the injured were taken.


Witnesses said they had seen the body parts of the bomber at the site. Scores of people were present in the imambargah, one of the largest Shia prayer halls in Muzaffarabad, for a gathering organised to mark the Islamic month of Muharram.


Bomb Kills 4 Pilgrims in Northern Iraq as Millions of Shi'ites Observe Ashura

27 December 2009

Iraqi officials say a bomb has exploded among Shi'ite pilgrims marking the holy day of Ashura in northern Iraq, killing at least four people and wounding about 20 others.

Sunday's blast in the town of Tuz Khormato is the latest in a series of attacks targeting Iraqi Shi'ites in the run up to Ashura.  Millions of Shi'ites joined processions across Iraq Sunday, the high point of the 10-day religious observance.

Authorities say an estimated three million pilgrims were taking part in the main procession in the holy city of Karbala, home to the shrine of Imam Hussein.

Men beat their heads and chests in ritual acts of mourning for the seventh-century killing of the imam, a grandson of the Prophet Muhammad.  No attacks were reported in and around Karbala, where authorities deployed an extra 25,000 security personnel to prevent violence.

In the days leading up to Sunday, attacks on Shi'ite pilgrims across Iraq had killed at least 20 people and wounded more than 100 others.  Sunni militants have targeted Shi'ite observances in Iraq in the past.

Former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein, a Sunni, strictly limited Ashura rituals during his rule.  Since his overthrow by U.S.-led forces in 2003, Ashura has become a show of strength for Iraq's majority Shi'ites.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.


Millions of Iranians hold rallies to commemorate Shiite Muslim ritual of Ashura 2009-12-27

 Millions of Iranians held rallies on Sunday across the country to commemorate the Shiite Muslim ritual of Ashura, state television reported.

   Live footage showed large crowds of people gathered in every major Iranian cities to commemorate Ashura, which marks the death of Imam Hussein, grandson of Prophet Mohammed, who was killed and buried in Karbala in 680 AD.

   The Ashura ritual is widely performed in Iran and many other countries with large populations of Shiite Muslims, such as Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen and Lebanon.

   During the annual Ashura commemorations, mourners, generally dressed in black, took to the streets or gathered in mosques to grieve over the death of Hussein.

   In the Iranian capital of Tehran, tens of thousands of people held rallies and processions in different parts of the city to observe the Ashura commemorations. Free food was also distributed in some mosques or roadside stands as part of the ritual.

    Meanwhile, sporadic clashes were seen in some parts of downtown Tehran between police and opposition protestors, who voiced their support for defeated presidential candidate Mir-Hossein Mousavi, opposition websites said.

    The clashes could not be independently verified as foreign media have been banned from covering any opposition protests in Iran.


In Iran, protesters clash with security forces

Sun, 27 Dec 2009

The Iranian capital on Sunday witnessed sporadic anti-government protests on the anniversary of the Shia Muslim Ashura religious event, with security forces clashing with protesters.

Protestors took to some central and downtown streets in Tehran, hijacking the Shia Muslims Ashura event during which people commemorate the 7th century death of Prophet Muhammad's (PBUH) grandson, Hussein (PBUH).

The protesters reportedly chanted slogans against top Iranian government officials.

Meanwhile, Iranian police forces fired shots into the air and tear gas to disperse protestors.

In a separate report, Tehran's police chief Commander Azizollah Rajabzadeh dismissed certain media reports claiming that several anti-government protestors were killed by security forces.

"Police has not fired any shots in Tehran and security forces were not in possession of fire arms," Commander Rajabzadeh told ISNA.

According to witness accounts, several banks, bus stops and a number of trash-cans were set on fire during the protests.


Tehran police 'in fatal clashes with protesters'

27 December 2009

Opposition sources in Iran say that at least four protesters have been shot dead in violent clashes between anti-government crowds and police.

They said security forces opened fire on protesters as some of the fiercest clashes in months erupted in the capital, Tehran.

The police have denied there had been any fatalities.

Opposition parties had urged people to take to the streets as the Shia Muslim festival of Ashura reached a climax.

People were chanting "Khamenei will be toppled", opposition sources said, a reference to Iran's Supreme Leader.

Thousands of demonstrators are reported to have taken part in the protests, in defiance of official warnings.

Initial reports said the security forces fired in the air to disperse the protests, but several different reports said that at least one, and possibly as many as four demonstrators, had been shot dead.

Police sources, quoted by the Iranian Fars news agency, denied this, saying foreign media were exaggerating reports of unrest.

Parlemannews, a reformist website, reported that the nephew of former presidential candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi was among the dead.

Although there were deaths in the immediate aftermath of the disputed elections and protests in June, fatalities since then have been rare.

The security forces clearly have to tread a fine line between not appearing weak but also not provoking opposition protesters, says Siavash Ardalan of BBC Persian TV.

Police helicopters were seen flying over central Tehran as clouds of black smoke billowed into the sky, reports said.

On the ground, the security forces clashed with protesters trying to reach central Enghelab Square, witnesses said.

Protesters were chanting, "This is the month of blood", and calling for the downfall of Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, according to opposition websites.

At the same time, crowds of pro-government demonstrators marched on Enghelab Street to voice support for Ayatollah Khamenei, witnesses said.

Protests were also reported in the cities of Isfahan and Najafabad.

Disputed election

Tensions have risen in Iran since influential dissident cleric Grand Ayatollah Hoseyn Ali Montazeri died a week ago aged 87.

Supporters of opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi have sought to use Shia religious festivals this weekend to show continued defiance of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's government.

Full report at:


30 injured in clashes during Muharram procession in J&K

December 26, 2009

At least 30 people were injured on Saturday when Shia devotees clashed with police here after they were prevented from taking out a Muharram procession in violation of prohibitory orders in force in the city.

Police fired warning shots in air, lobbed tear gas shells and used batons to disperse stone-pelting processionists at Lal Chowk and adjoining Abi Guzar, official sources said.

The trouble started when a Muharram procession of the Shia community led by Nissar Hussain Rather of Tehreek-e- Wahadat-e-Islami was stopped by police personnel at Maulana Azad Road and asked to disperse, the sources said.

They said after a heated exchange between the police and the processionists, security personnel used batons and fired tear gas shells to disperse them.

Mr. Rather was taken into preventive custody, the sources said adding police tried to persuade the devotees to disperse as no procession could be allowed in view of prohibitory orders under Section 144 CrPC being in force in the city.

The processionists regrouped and pelted stones on the policemen who retaliated by lobbing tear gas shells and used batons to disperse them. At least 30 people were injured in the clash, the sources said.

Keywords: Shias, Muharram procession, Tehreek-e- Wahadat-e-Islami, Nissar Hussain Rather

India Jammu and Kashmir

crime, law and justice police


Al Qaeda Bid To Blow Up US Airliner Foiled

Lalit K Jha

December 27, 2009

A suspected Nigerian al Qaeda operative on Saturday made an attempt to blow-up a US Airliner in air, but was over-powered by alert passengers who staved off what could have been a devastating Christmas Day terror attack.

The passenger, Umar Farouk Abdul Mudallab, an engineering student in London, tried to ignite an incendiary device aboard the Northwest Airlines flight 253, an Airbus 330, carrying 278 passengers from Amsterdam to Detroit, in what was described as an “attempted act of terrorism” by the White House.

The man, 23, who sustained burn injuries in the failed bid, later reportedly told interrogators that explosive powder was taped to his leg and he used a syringe to inject chemicals into it to cause an explosion on the trans-Atlantic flight.

However, the device mal-functioned and as smoke and fire erupted from his seat, co-passengers pounced on him and along with the crew dragged him to the front of the plane.

Two other passengers reported minor injuries, but the plane was able to land safely, The New York Times quoted an anti-terrorism official as saying. The incident has prompted the FBI to issue a nationwide red alert.

Muttalab, who is being questioned by FBI and other federal investigative agencies has reportedly said he had links to al Qaeda and that he had travelled to Yemen "to collect the incendiary device and instructions on how to use it," said The Washington Post. (However, an official expressed caution about the claim, saying "it may have been aspirational".

FBI agents are investigating the incident on the suspicion that it was an attempted act of terrorism, the official said. Passengers, who later gave an account said there was panic after fire was seen in the midst of passengers.

US national Syed Jafry, who had flown from the UAE, said people ran out of their seats to tackle the man. Jafry told the local FreeP.Com that he was sitting in the 16th row — three rows ahead of the passenger — when he heard "a pop and saw some smoke and fire." Then, he said, "a young man behind me jumped on him."

He told the newspaper that there was a little bit of commotion for about 10 to 15 minutes. The incident occurred during the plane's descent, he added."There was a pop that sounded like a firecracker" and the "next thing you know everybody was on him," he said.

Officials described the device as more "incendiary rather than explosive," The Post said.

Federal officials said the man wanted to bring the plane down. "This was the real deal," Congressman Peter T King of New York said, adding: "This could have been devastating".

Ranking Republican on the House Homeland Security Committee, King, who was briefed on the incident, said something had gone wrong with the explosive device, which was ‘somewhat sophisticated’

-- PTI.


Nigerian charged for trying to blow up US jet

REUTERS 27 December 2009

DETROIT/WASHINGTON: A Nigerian man with possible links to al-Qada militants was charged on Saturday for trying to blow up a US passenger plane with an explosive device on approach into Detroit, US officials said. ( Watch Video )

The suspect, who was being treated for extensive burns at a Michigan hospital, was overpowered by passengers and crew on the Christmas Day flight from Amsterdam.

The passengers, two of whom suffered minor injuries, disembarked safely from the Delta Air Lines plane.

"We believe this was an attempted act of terrorism," a White House official said.

The justice department said in a statement that the man, whom it identified as Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, 23, from Nigeria, had been charged with attempting to blow up the plane by setting alight the explosive device that was attached to his body.

He was due to make a court appearance later on Saturday, it said. A preliminary FBI analysis found that the device contained PETN, also known as pentaerythritol. That was one of the explosives carried by Richard Reid, the "shoe bomber" who was convicted of trying to blow up a plane headed to the United States months after the 2001 attacks.

"This alleged attack on a US airplane on Christmas Day shows that we must remain vigilant in the fight against terrorism at all times," Attorney General Eric Holder said in the statement.

"We will continue to investigate this matter vigorously, and we will use all measures available to our government to ensure that anyone responsible for this attempted attack is brought to justice."

Investigators were trying to confirm the man's claims that he has connections to al-Qaida, which carried out the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks in the United States.

Citing US officials, the Wall Street Journal said the Nigerian man had told investigators that al-Qaida operatives in Yemen had given him the device and instructions on how to detonate it.

Full report at:


Detroit: Flyers foil Qaida man’s bid to blow up US jet

December 27, 2009

Detroit: A Nigerian believed to be linked to al-Qaida militants was in custody on Saturday after he tried to ignite an explosive device on a US passenger plane as it approached Detroit, US officials said. The suspect, who suffered extensive burns, was overpowered by passengers and crew on the Christmas Day flight from Amsterdam.

    The passengers, two of whom suffered minor injuries, disembarked safely from the Delta Airlines plane. ‘‘We believe this was an attempted act of terrorism,’’ a White House official said.

    Dutch authorities said they were trying to figure out how the 23-year-old, Abdul Farouk Abdulmutallab, had been screened and how he managed to get on board. Northwest Airlines flight 253 had left Amsterdam on Friday with 278 passengers on board and was approaching Detroit when the man tried to ignite the device or mixture, US officials said. Representative Peter King of New York, of the Representatives Homeland Security Committee, said the device was “fairly sophisticated”. AGENCIES Plotter a UK engineering student

Detroit: The passenger who attempted to set off a device on a flight to United States has been identified by federal officials as Abdul Farouk Abdulmutallab and is said to be a student from London.

    Television channels reported that the Nigerian-born Abdulmutallab attends University College London, where he studied engineering. Representative Peter King of New York, told CNN that the suspect was listed in a database as having a connection to militants. ‘‘My understanding is...that he does have al-Qaida connections, certainly extremist terrorist connections, and his name popped up pretty quickly” in a search. ‘‘I would say we dropped the ball on this one.’’

    British police were searching premises in central London on Saturday to establish details about his activities in the country, a British counterterrorism source said. European airports tightened security checks on US-bound flights in response to the failed attack.

    King said the suspect started his journey in Nigeria. The Nigerian government ordered security agencies to investigate the incident and said they would cooperate fully with the American authorities.

Full report at:


'Sounded like firecracker in pillowcase'

Sarah Wheaton

27 December 2009

We heard a pop and the next thing you know it was a fire," Calvin Kakar, a passenger on Northwest Airlines Flight 253, told the Detroit Free Press. He was among the 278 passengers on a trans-Atlantic flight to Detroit that ended with the arrest of a man who tried to ignite an explosive device in what is being called an attempted terrorist attack. Travelers recounted the confusing series of events at the gate of Detroit Metropolitan Airport.

"It sounded like a firecracker in a pillowcase," said Peter Smith, who was also quoted by the Free Press. "There was a little bit of light, a little bit of — kind of flamish light and there was fire," said Syed Jafry, who was sitting three rows behind the suspect. "And people began to panic."

"There's a lady shouted, 'What are you doing? What are you doing?' " said Elias Sawaz, in an interview with WXYZ-TV in Detroit. Some remembered the practical effort to put out the fire. "We said, 'There's fire, bring water!' " recalled Zeena Saigal.

Richelle Keepman, seated at the back of the plane, initially had trouble discerning what was happening.

"I think we knew at the point when we saw the fear in the flight attendants' eyes, and they grabbed the fire extinguishers," Keepman said to WDIV-TV in Detroit.

Then, Saigal said, a "sturdy guy put a lock" around the head of the suspect, identified by authorities as Abdul Farouk Abdulmutallab, 23. "He handled him pretty good, I think," Jafry said of the volunteer, who jumped over several rows of seats.

Abdumutallab was ultimately dragged to the front of the plane, pants down, severely burned. Melinda Dennis said: "He was very calm. He didn't show any reaction to pain or any feeling of shock or nervousness. He just looked like a normal individual."


DETROIT: Plotter a UK engineering student

27 December 2009

DETROIT: The passenger who attempted to set off a device on a flight to United States has been identified by federal officials as Abdul Farouk Abdulmutallab and is said to be a student from London.

Television channels reported that the Nigerian-born Abdulmutallab attends University College London, where he studied engineering. Representative Peter King of New York, told CNN that the suspect was listed in a database as having a connection to militants. "My understanding is...that he does have al-Qaida connections, certainly extremist terrorist connections, and his name popped up pretty quickly" in a search. "I would say we dropped the ball on this one."

British police were searching premises in central London on Saturday to establish details about his activities in the country, a British counter-terrorism source said. European airports tightened security checks on US-bound flights in response to the failed attack.

King said the suspect started his journey in Nigeria. The Nigerian government ordered security agencies to investigate the incident and said they would cooperate fully with the American authorities.

"All necessary security measures are in place in Nigeria. Any passenger, including crew members, on any flight is subject to the same security screening," a spokesman for Nigeria's Federal Airport Authority said.

Security at Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport and at other airports in Europe with US-bound flights was stepped up. "This incident shows once again that vigilance is necessary at all times in the fight against terror," European Commission vice-president Jacques Barrot said in Brussels.

Dutch counter-terrorism agency NCTb said it had started a probe into the incident. "He (the suspect) did not go through passport control," a Dutch military police spokesman said. Once on the ground, the aircraft was moved to a remote area at Detroit's airport where all baggage was being rescreened, the Transportation Security Administration said.


Device more incendiary than explosive: Bomber

27 December 2009

He Used Chemical-Filled Syringe To Ignite Powder Taped To His Leg

Washington: The Nigerian national, arrested on charges of “attempted act of terrorism” in a Detroit bound plane, has told interrogators that explosive powder was taped to his leg and he used a syringe to mix chemicals with it to cause an explosion.

    The 23-year-old man, identified as Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, said the device was “more incendiary than explosive”, and that he had tried to ignite the device or mixture to cause a fire as the plane was approaching Detroit, a senior official from the Department of Homeland Security was quoted as saying by the New York Times.

    Mutallab told the law enforcement authorities that he had explosive powder taped to his leg and that he used a syringe full of chemicals to mix with the powder to try to cause an explosion, the daily reported. The device, however, failed to fully detonate.

    The Nigerian national, according to fellow passengers and investigating agencies, tried to ignite a small explosive 20-30 minutes before the Northwest Airline flight 253 carrying 278 passengers was about to land at the Detroit airport. Overpowered by fellow passengers and handed over to security agencies on landing, he was being questioned by the FBI. The plane originated in Nigeria, but had its stop in Amsterdam.

    Initial report said Abdulmutallab, who revealed his al-Qaida links, was put on the watch list by the US but was not debarred from entering the country.

    “Abdulmutallab has told federal investigators that he had ties to al-Qaida and travelled to Yemen to collect the incendiary device and instructions on how to use it,” according to a federal counterterrorism official, the Washington Post said.

    However, the official expressed caution about the claim, saying “it may have been aspirational”, the New York Times said. “Federal authorities have been told that Abdulmutallab allegedly had taped some material to his leg, then used a chemical-laden syringe to mix with the powder while on board the airplane,” an official was quoted as saying by the Post.

    “Officials described the device as incendiary rather than explosive, pending tests by forensics experts at the FBI. Incendiary devices generally deliver less of an impact than explosive devices,” the Post said.

    Federal officials said the man wanted to bring the plane down. “This was the real deal,” said Congressman Peter T King of New York. The White House has termed the incident as an “attempted act of terrorism”. PTI


Nigerian Muslim Organization Condemns Terrorism


APA, Abuja (Nigeria) The Muslim Public Affairs Centre in Nigeria, an independent Muslim organization, has condemned all acts of terrorism, describing them as complete violation of the teachings of Islam.

A statement signed by Disu Kamor, the Director of Media and Communications of the Center on Sunday in Kano, said "all attacks that threaten peace, or aim at civilian targets, even in a state of war, are terrorism.”

It therefore expressed dismay over the act of the 23 year-old Nigerian passenger aboard a Delta Airlines flight to Detroit, United States, who allegedly tried to set a bomb off on the passenger aircraft on Christmas Day.

MPAC said : "We repudiate anyone or any group that plans or carries out a terrorist act and we welcome early actions by law enforcement authorities against credible threats to the safety of the travelling public.”

It further stated that the Nigerian Muslim community had always been dedicated to the protection of national security locally as well as global security and peace, warning that law-abiding Nigerian Muslims should not be left out.

He further stated that. "it is our responsibility as Muslims to rally together to positively and constructively intervene with our youth to make sure they have a good understanding of Islam so that no extremists will play upon them”.

"As an experienced and independent voice within the Nigerian Muslim community, MPAC reaffirms Islam’s teachings of peace, justice and tolerance for all,” it said.


Passengers relive terror of Flight 253 as new threat emerges from al-Qaida

Nigerian Umar Abdul Mutallab's attempt to bring down a transatlantic jet highlights the ongoing recruitment of young Muslims and the need for western institutions to be more vigilant

Terrified passengers yesterday told of the moment when Umar Abdul Mutallab tried to set off a bomb as their plane commenced its descent on Christmas Day.

Flight 253 from Amsterdam to Detroit was carrying 290 passengers and crew who heard what was described as a "balloon being popped". "What we heard in the beginning was a bang... then a minute later there was a lady shouting things like, 'What are you doing? What are you doing?'?" said passenger Elias Fawaz. "We looked back and there was a struggle – and we saw fumes and fire coming out."

Witnesses said Mutallab emerged from a toilet with a pillow over his stomach and a syringe in his hand. He injected the syringe into something held on his stomach, triggering smoke and flames.

"It was terrifying," said Richelle Keepman, another passenger. "We all thought we weren't going to land, we weren't going to make it. We were in the back of the plane and all of a sudden heard some screams and some flight attendants ran up and down the aisles. We saw the fear in their eyes and they grabbed the fire extinguishers."

Another passenger, Syed Jafri, said: "Everybody was rushing towards that area and tried to get water, a blanket and fire extinguisher." The suspected terrorist was said to have been yelling and swearing and "screaming about Afghanistan".

"When [it] went off, everybody panicked," said Jasper Schuringa, a Dutch film director travelling to the US to visit friends. "Then someone screamed, 'Fire! Fire!' I saw smoke rising from a seat... I didn't hesitate. I just jumped." Schuringa said he heard a sound similar to a firework going off and looked across the aisle at the suspect who had a blanket on his lap attempting to ignite an object he was holding. "It was smoking and there were flames coming from beneath his legs," he said. "I searched on his body parts and he had his pants open. He had something strapped to his legs."

Schuringa and the cabin crew then dragged Mutallab, a 23-year-old Nigerian, to the front of the plane, where he was restrained until landing. Mutallab reportedly told intelligence agents who began interrogating him after he was taken to hospital strapped to a stretcher that he had an explosive powder strapped to his leg. He was trying to set off the device with a syringe filled with liquid.

Mutallab, who had boarded a flight from Lagos, Nigeria, to Amsterdam's Schipol airport before transferring to the Northwest Airlines flight to Detroit, had burns on his leg. "The only thing I can tell for sure is that he was severely burned," said Melinda Dennis. "They required a fire extinguisher as well as water to put it out. You could smell the smoke when we landed."

Full report at:


Detroit: America now associates London universities with terror plots and Islamic extremists

By Damian Thompson

December 26th, 2009

The attempt to blow up an airliner as it approached Detroit airport is being reported in America with heavy emphasis on reports of the Nigerian suspect’s education at University College, London. “Terror Suspect Abdulmutallab is engineering student at elite London university,” is one typical headline.

UCL has issued a statement saying a student named Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab studied mechanical engineering there between September 2005 and June 2008 – though it “wasn’t certain” the student was the same person who was on the plane. However, American public opinion will be quick to seize on this incident as yet more evidence that British universities, especially those based in the capital, are the natural habitat of potentially dangerous extremists.

As the Telegraph reported in September, the British authorities are still pursuing charges against Waheed Zaman, the former president of the Islamic Society at London Metropolitan University, whose trial for conspiracy for murder ended in a hung jury at Woolwich Crown Court. (He had earlier been acquitted of plotting to bomb transatlantic aircraft.)

A Telegraph report three years ago established that London Metropolitan University had been extremely careless, to put it mildly, about providing facilities for jihadists:

    Material found at two portable buildings used by the society includes documents advocating jihad and a pamphlet on how to deal with approaches from the security services.

    Prof Anthony Glees, the director of Brunel University’s centre for intelligence and security studies, criticised university authorities for ignoring the threat to national security in their midst. “Institutions have not sought to address the problem: they have instead sought to undermine those who have raised the issue,” he told this newspaper.

    Extremist Muslim groups had been detected at more than 20 institutions, both former polytechnics and long-established universities, over the past 15 years, Prof Glees said.

Earlier this month, Queen Mary college at London University was forced to withdraw an invitation to a spokesman for the Islamist group Hitzb ut Tahrir to address students. Meanwhile, London University’s School of African and Oriental Studies (SOAS) continues to attract accusations that it provides a platform for extremists. This Standpoint article by Alexander Meleagrou-Hitchens casts grave doubts over the impartiality of SOAS’s course on political Islam.

Full report at:


A feminist, a maulvi & his Magna Carta of Muslim women's rights

Mohammed Wajihuddin

TNN 27 December 2009

Last week, the Ghatkopar police and some local clerics were at loggerheads over the proposed nikah of a 15-year-old Muslim girl. The cops, tipped off by the girl's uncle, stalled the wedding, saying the girl was a minor; the girl's parents and the clerics, on their part, claimed they were exercising their rights under the Muslim personal law. The girl is currently in a children's welfare home even as her parents, emboldened after securing a fatwa in favour of her right to marry, are preparing to petition the court.

The stubbornness of the parents and unqualified endorsement from the clerics for a minor's marriage are part of a primitive syndrome that afflicts Muslim society. Called male supremacy, it virtually gives men ownership of women. Interestingly enough, however, this not only flies in the face of rational thinking but also contravenes the divine commandments—as a recently resurrected book called Huququn Niswan (Rights of Women), could corroborate.

Penned by Maulvi Syed Mumtaz Ali Khan (1860-1935) of Lahore, the book, which was published in 1898, is being hailed as a beacon of hope that could help remove cobwebs clouding Muslim minds. The ulema of Maulvi Mumtaz's time ignored it, but its revolutionary thoughts are now warming the hearts of reformists in the community. "Quoting the Quran and Hadith, both Prophet Muhammad's traditions, the maulvi convincingly explodes the myth of male supremacy and argues that the Quran is just to both sexes," says Islamic reformist Asgar Ali Engineer who published Huququn Niswan a few months ago after he got a photocopy from a US library with an American scholar's help.

Full report at:


A Muslim saint in Gorakhpur preaches Hinduism

Amita Verma

He is a devout Muslim who offers "namaaz" five times a day. He also wears saffron robes, a sandalwood "tikka" and gives discourses on Hindu scriptures. Sant Yaseen Bharti, 60, a resident of Pipraich in Gorakhpur, is a unique blend of two religions and a perfect example of secularism.

Born as Mohd Yaseen, he developed an interest in Hindu scriptures, particularly the Ramayana and the Bhagwad Gita, when he lost his father in a road accident.

"I was 17 when my father died in the accident and I underwent severe emotional trauma. I took ill and had to be hospitalised. In the hospital, my neighbour was a sadhu who became my friend. He introduced me to the Hindu religion and shared the teachings in the Ramayana. On the day I was to be discharged, he advised me to listen to discourses on the Ramayana which would divert my attention from my personal problems," he recalls.

Following the sadhu’s advice, Mohd Yaseen started attending a discourse on Ramayana on the outskirts of his village. "After attending the discourses for a few days, I felt peace within me and it was then that I started reading and understanding Hindu scriptures," he says.

Yaseen faced the expected opposition from within his family when he started reading the Hindu scriptures. His family even threatened to throw him out of the house if he did not stop reading the Hindu scriptures.

"They finally drove me out of the house when I did not give up and this left me completely free. I started by giving discourses at local temples. There was no opposition because I was a Muslim and people accepted me whole-heartedly," he says.

Talking about the Hindu scriptures, Sant Yaseen Bharti says that the Ramayana and the Gita offer lessons in leading one’s life.

"These lessons are practical and if adopted by the people, they inject harmony and peace in one’s life. These books teach us how to behave with family, friends, society and how to perform our duties before flaunting our rights," he says.

Today, Yaseen travels across cities giving discourses while his son looks after the family business.

"I have not stopped being a Muslim even though I give discourses on Hinduism. I make it a point to offer namaaz five times a day and my Hindu followers respect me for that," he says.

Yaseen’s following has already transcended religious boundaries and Muslims now form a sizeable chunk in his audiences. "In a society divided by communalism and casteism, Sant Yaseen Bharti comes with a healing touch and if we had more like him, the society would be a better place to live in," says Dr A.K. Bagchi, a local medical practitioner in Varanasi and also a follower of Sant Yaseen Bharti.


Allowing ethnic Malay Muslims in the Deep South to use the Yawi dialect in primary school as a way to peace


Foreign scholars at a recent seminar in Bangkok co-organised by Walailak and Chulalongkorn universities strongly advised allowing ethnic Malay Muslims in the deep South to use the Yawi dialect in primary school as a way to peace. They argued that it would not further separatist sentiments in the South, but would instead create respect toward the central government in Bangkok. Ahmad Fathy al-Fatani, a renowned Islamic scholar from Malaysia, said the Muslims in southern Thailand had pride in their historic language and that Bangkok-initiated efforts to assimilate the Thai language into the region did not bode well for the people-state relationship.

''Thanks to Patani Ulama [14-15th century Muslim scholars from the Patani region], the Malayu language has been widely used in Islamic studies and also in daily life ... Mixing Thai language in primary schools for those speaking Malayu has only confused the kids _ they cannot do well in either the Thai or Yawi languages,'' said Mr Ahmad, whose book Patani History has been widely cited by Thai academics.

He pointed out that in many countries, such as Russia, South Africa, Malaysia and Indonesia, minority languages are widely spoken.

''Why doesn't Bangkok allow the use of Yawi in primary school? I believe if they do so, tension in southern Thailand will be eased up,'' said the independent researcher at the Dec 11-12 seminar on ''The Phantasm in Southern Thailand: Historical Writings on Patani and the Islamic World.'' The ancient Patani Kingdom included much of northern Malaysia as well as what is now the southernmost region of Thailand.

Administrative control over the South was abruptly instated by the central government in 1909, but the culture and language were allowed to remain intact, said the Malaysian scholar, who questioned why Bangkok should now feel that the use of the Yawi language in school is inappropriate.

Hatib Abdul Kadir, of the Gadjah Mada University Centre for Religious and Cross-cultural Studies (CRCS), said Bangkok should not be so paranoid as to think that allowing the local language to be widely spoken would create some form of separation.

''Look at Indonesia since Suharto's fall, people are no longer forced to use only Bahasar. In fact, if you allow freedom of language, the local people will feel grateful and more loyal to the central government. Bangkok will be respected by the Muslim southerners if their language is well-recognised. There will be less resistance if their identity can be formally expressed,'' said Mr Hatib, who is from the Indonesian province of Yogyakarta .

The Indonesian scholar also said that cross-cultural and inter-religious dialogue would only work through for mal education within the society.

Conflict in southern Thailand is supposed to be solved not only by political and security means, but also by understanding the religious contexts of the situation, he said.

To overcome the conflicts, he said, an effort needs to be made to initiate a dialogue for reconciliation that is inclusive and seeks atonement and forgiveness for the adherents of every faith.

Full report at:


'Chehel Minbar,' special tradition to commemorate Tasu'a

26 Dec 2009

Thousands of women in Iran's western province of Lorestan have commemorated the martyrdom anniversary of Prophet Muhammad's grandson, Imam Hussein (PBUH) by means of a special tradition referred to as 'Chehel Minbari'.

According to an IRNA report, women from cities and towns across the province covered their faces, and walked in silence as they knocked on the doors of forty houses and lit candles in forty spots as mourners beat their chests in their grief over the suffering and martyrdom of Imam Hussein (PBUH), along with 72 of his loyal companions in a place still called Karbala in southern Iraq, in 680 CE.

The report added that the tradition is upheld every year on Tasu'a, which falls on the ninth of Muharram, as a show of solidarity with the sister of Imam Hussein and one of the most knowledgeable Muslim women of her time, Hazrat Zainab (PBUH). The ritual starts after participants have said their dawn prayers and ends at dusk prayers.

Shia mourners throughout the world gather on Tasu'a to commemorate the martyrdom anniversary of Imam Hussein (PBUH), the grandson of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH).

Today, with a mixture of wonder, sorrow, and admiration, the mourners listened to tales of resolute courage, generous self-sacrifice and the infinite patience of Imam Hussein (PBUH) as he faced severe hardship for the attainment of a sacred goal.

Imam Hussein (PBUH) not only saved Islam from deviation, distortion and corruption by the forces of apostasy and oppression, but he also revived the institution of martyrdom. In a world of cowardly men, who loved life in this physical world, he achieved martyrdom because of his devotion to the eternal truth.


Pak N-site was target of American jihadis

AGENCIES 27 December 2009,

ISLAMABAD: Taliban insurgents had planned to use five Americans detained in Pakistan, who had contacted the militant group through the internet, to carry out attacks inside the US ally, a police official said on Saturday.

Usman Anwar, police chief in Sargodha, where the men were arrested this month, said emails revealed plans for the young men from Virginia to travel to a Pakistani nuclear power plant. "We believe that they were supposed to be used inside Pakistan," Anwar said. "In their last email to the Taliban, we found they mentioned the Chashma Nuclear Plant and that's why they were going to Mianwali (district)."

Anwar declined to give details of the case because police were still interrogating the suspects. The possibility of militants attempting to attack Pakistan's nuclear weapons alarms Western powers, although analysts say it is highly unlikely.

Earlier, a local court extended the custody of the terror suspects for 10 more days till January 4. All the five "jihad seekers" were produced before an anti-terrorism court in Sargodha on Friday, following which judge Mohammad Aslam extended their custody on the plea of the police.

"We do not think that a 10-day remand is sufficient to investigate this complex matter. At next hearing we may ask for more time," a foreign news agency quoted a senior Pakistani police official as saying.

During the hearing, another police official, Amir Abbas told the court that during investigations, officials scanned the common email accounts of the suspects in which the name of a Pakistani nuclear plant was mentioned.


Iraqi, Iranian armies dig in for standoff

REUTERS 27 December 2009,

AMARA: Iraqi and Iranian forces are dug in on either side of a disputed inactive oil well in the sensitive border area, with Iraqis vowing to fight if necessary to fend off another occupation of the well by Iranian soldiers.

Iraqi troops say they will defend the well, where Iranian troops raised a flag for several days this month. It is unclear how many troops are involved in the stand-off, but as many as 30 lightly armed Iraqi troops usually occupy border outposts in sensitive areas, and up to 10 in other areas.

The seizure of the well, which Iraq says is part of its Fakka oilfield in southeast Maysan province, triggered protests from the government in Baghdad and caused a rise in prices on jittery world oil markets.

The Iranian forces have since pulled back, but Iraq says they are still on its territory, stirring echoes of the border dispute that led to the eight-year Iran-Iraq war in the 1980s, in which about 1 million people died. "These wells in the Fakka region are Iraqi, and we will defend them to the last drop of blood," said Brigadier-General Razak Abdul Hassan of the Iraqi border guards at Fakka.


Will Zardari's fall bring back the army?

Ranjan Roy

December 27, 2009

This Muharram, the grieving in large sections of Pakistani society is not just ritual. They see a historical opportunity of putting democracy in place, slipping by as President Asif Ali Zardari is increasingly pushed to the wall and perhaps out of office as pressure daily mounts on him to quit in light of corruption charges.

No stranger to political flux, Pakistan could have survived another convulsion but, as observers here point out, the timing for this one could not have been worse. Last week, the Supreme Court, empowered by the return of democracy and restoration of its own legitimacy, opened old cases that point to a treasure trove of close to $60 million stashed away in Swiss bank accounts.

That has exposed Zardari to prosecution and questioned his eligibility to have ever contested for the nation's top job. The sense of despair generated is not because Zardari may be ousted from Pakistani polity. But that an elected, battle-weary government may fall, and that would be a big setback to hopes of Pakistan emerging from its khaki-smeared modern political history.

For once, the all-powerful Pakistani military establishment had watched quietly as the post-Benazir Bhutto Pakistan People's Party wrangled its way to power and fell in and out with its chief ally Nawaz Sharif. The generals kept a careful eye on the developments but did not step in as the government teetered several times. But as the political flux deepens, observers warn that the generals, reluctant as they may seem, may be forced to step in and take the reins to stave off a complete collapse of the administration.

There has been resentment to the way Zardari has conducted himself. The military brass grumbled silently as Washington led the Zardari-administration kicking and screaming into the war against the Taliban and ensnared it in the Kerry-Lugar bill, which most Pakistani commentators describe as humiliating since it makes US help for Pakistan contingent on action against terror. The bill stipulates that year-on-year the US president has to certify that Pakistan's army is on track in the war on terror before US money flow for that year is cleared.

In Sindh's capital city Karachi, the Bhutto family's home, misfortunes of the PPP should have been mourned. But instead people, from cab drivers to those chewing on steaks marinated in French wines at the tony Cafe Flo, rue the fact that after inheriting her political legacy, Zardari has practically squandered it.

Political analysts, who have spoken to Zardari and still speak to him, say his intransigence and hostility towards the judiciary and the media in the face of the serious corruption charges could surely hasten his exit. The despondency is deeper this time because people of Pakistan know that political flux will inevitably weaken the war against the Taliban and could amount to frittering away gains from the hard-fought offensives in SWAT and South Waziristan in which the army has lost scores of officers and a few hundred men.

The crisis has not only taken the government's attention off the more pressing crisis brought on by terrorism at a time when suicide bombers are hitting daily but has alienated the military, the judiciary and divided the media, which had not so long ago celebrated the triumph of democracy. While Zardari is believed to be seeing a great conspiracy by the generals to remove him, the top brass has so far maturely kept out of this mess.

But for how long? That is the question doing the rounds. To scotch rumours of a falling out with the generals, something that's a death-knell still for Pakistani politicians, Zardari was quick to organize a photo-op with Gen  Kiyani. And as the crisis deepened, prime minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, to whom many are looking to keep a steady hand on the wheel,  met editors and gave a TV interview to assure Pakistanis that the breaking point was far.

Full report at:


Imran Khan offers to mediate between Taliban and Pak govt

Shafqat Ali

The heartthrob of millions of girls only about two decades back, Imran Khan, the cricketer-turned politician, has offered to mediate between the Pakistan government and the Taliban. Mr Khan, who led Pakistan to the 1992 World Cup glory, says he is in contact with the Taliban leaders and can broker a peace deal between the government and the militants. The Pakistan Army is engaged in a bloody operation in the lawless tribal areas against the Taliban militants who want to impose strict Sharia (Islamic rule) in the country.

Mr Khan, who heads the Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf (PTI), said he was making the mediation offer as the present security situation was unacceptable, and if allowed to continue, it would ruin Pakistan.

Mr Khan said that the Taliban leaders have shown "encouraging response" to his talks offer. "I have got encouraging response from Taliban. They are willing to talk", the cricket legend said. "We have to give up implementing the US agenda and work for our own. Talks should be held with Taliban without any delay", he said.

Unique Protest Against Victimisation

A Pakistani citizen, who had converted from Christianity to Islam, protested in a unique way against his decade-long illegal imprisonment. Seeking justice against those who wrongly put him behind bars in 1996 for years, the elderly man rode his bicycle from Karachi to Peshawar and back, chaining himself all the way to protest against his illegal imprisonment.

Lala Ismail Ramazan, a resident of Korangi in Karachi, said he was arrested in a false case and it ruined his life. He asked the government to hold investigation into the case and punish those responsible for his ordeal.

Clad in black dress, the skinny Ismail had chained himself to demonstrate that he was constantly living in prison. He stood with his bicycle carrying meals in a pot. He had placed a portrait of slain former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto on his bicycle with a placard inscribed with slogan for justice. "I was jailed in 1996. My wife and son used to meet me until 1998 but then I lost contact with them. The jail authorities took my signature on a document that turned out to be a divorce paper and not my release orders from jail, as I thought," the ageing Lala Ismail recalled. He said he was a Christian but embraced Islam in 1991 and was given the name Mohammad Ishaq by a cleric. However, he said the jail authorities continued to refer to him by his old name.

Survival At The Cost Of Poor

Advances in medical science have enabled modern man to increased chances of survival in the face of a fatal disease. However, at times, it comes at the cost of other people, especially the poor. Kidney failure is one of disorders which has provided the haves with an opportunity to exploit the have-nots.

The less privileged sell this vital organ to pay back a loan, marry off a daughter or meet another pressing needs in underdeveloped countries like Pakistan. A World Health Organisation (WHO) report has included Pakistan among top five organ-trafficking hotspots besides China, Colombia, Egypt and the Philippines.

Patients, mostly from Europe and Saudi Arabia, pay about Rs 500,000 for a new kidney. Donors often get no medical care after the surgery which has higher rates of viral infection. In January 2007, Pakistan introduced the Human Tissues and Transplant Ordinance to regulate organ transplantation and curb kidneys’ trade.

Workers can now become owners

Full report at:


US Drone Strike Kills At Least Five In NW Pakistan: Officials

AFP 27 December 2009

MIRANSHAH (PAKISTAN): At least five people were killed on Saturday when missiles from an unmanned US aircraft hit a suspected militant compound in Pakistan's northwest tribal belt, security officials said.

The missiles struck a house in Saidgi village of North Waziristan tribal district, which borders Afghanistan, officials said.

"Two missiles hit a house, five militants were killed," an intelligence official said.

Another security official confirmed the drone attack and the toll, adding that the house belonged to a local tribesman named Asmatullah, who, he said, had links with Taliban militants.

The two officials refused to be named because of the sensitivity of US drone attacks in Pakistan, which have inflamed anti-American sentiment.

Neither official's statements could be confirmed independently.

Residents said that tribesmen had cordoned off the compound surrounding the house and were searching the rubble.

Today's drone strike is at least the third since December 17 in North Waziristan, where Islamabad is under growing US pressure to dismantle Islamist extremist networks along the lawless and porous border with Afghanistan.

North Waziristan rife with Taliban militants, al-Qaida fighters and members of the Haqqani network, a powerful group known for staging attacks on foreign troops in Afghanistan.


3 Fatah activists killed in Israeli raid

AP | Nablus

December 27, 2009

Israeli soldiers stormed homes in the West Bank on Saturday, killing three Palestinians allegedly involved in the fatal shooting of an Israeli and testing an uneasy security arrangement with Palestinian authorities.

The predawn operations in Nablus targeted activists of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah movement. Abbas aides accused Israel of undermining US-backed peace efforts. Also on Saturday, an Israeli air strike killed three Palestinians in Gaza, near Israel's border barrier. Relatives who witnessed the Nablus shootings said soldiers fired at two of the men without warning. An Israeli army spokesman, Maj Peter Lerner, said troops fired after the three men failed to respond to calls to surrender.

The West Bank has been relatively calm in the past two years, as Abbas' security forces began exerting control over former militant strongholds, such as Nablus, and renewed some coordination with Israeli troops. Abbas and Israel have a shared foe, Hamas,wrested the Gaza Strip from Abbas in a 2007 takeover. However, Abbas has frequently complained that continued Israeli army raids into Palestinian-controlled areas of the West Bank undermine his authority.

This week's sudden spike in violence could undercut the security coordination. On Thursday, Palestinian gunmen shot and killed an Israeli settler, a father of seven, as he drove in the northern West Bank.


U.S. missiles kill militants in Pakistan

December 27, 2009

Islamabad, Pakistan (CNN) -- Two missiles believed to be fired by a U.S. unmanned aircraft killed 13 militants in Pakistan's tribal region, a local intelligence official said Sunday.

The casualties Saturday included Taliban commander Abdur Rehman, who is part of a network that operates in Afghanistan.

The incident took place in the Saidgi village in North Waziristan, according to the official, who asked to remain anonymous because he was not authorized to speak to the media.

The official said the drone strike target was a house. The United States does not offer comment on reported drone attacks. However, the United States is the only country operating in the region known to have the ability to launch missiles from drones, which are controlled remotely.

Elsewhere in Pakistan, at least 21 people were injured Saturday night when a roadside bomb exploded in southern Karachi, authorities said. The incident occurred as a Shiite Muslim procession ahead of the holy day of Ashura on Sunday was expected to pass through that area, police said.

A government official and five of his children were killed Sunday by a bomb blast in Pakistan's troubled northwest, authorities said.

The device was planted outside the home of Sarfaraz Khan, an official who helped administer the Sadda area in Kurram.

Kurram is one of seven districts that make up the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) in the country.

The 2 a.m. attack also wounded three other Khan family members: two women and a child, officials said.

The government is in the midst of an intense army offensive to rout militants from their haven along the country's border with Afghanistan -- where the tribal areas are located. The militants, in turn, have launched a series of deadly attacks inside the country in retaliation.

No one immediately claimed responsibility for Sunday's attack.


'Israel Used To Do More Than Just Talk'


Dec 27, 2009 16:20

In a Sunday speech to mark the tenth and final day of the Shi'ite mourning period for Imam Hussein, grandson of the Muslim prophet Muhammed, Hizbullah leader Hassan Nasrallah once again slammed US and Israeli policies in the Middle East while glorifying "resistance," a euphemism for terrorist acts.

Speaking in a Beirut suburb, Nasrallah urged Muslims around the world to avoid confusing "between the friend and the foe and not to listen to US and Israeli proxies who wish to replace brother with enemy."

"Time has changed," Nasrallah said. "In the past, Israel used to do more than it speaks, however today Israel speaks more it acts because it is unable to do anything."

The Hizbullah leader also alluded to Egypt's ongoing construction of an impenetrable metal wall meant to block off tunnels used by smugglers in Gaza. "Today, I call on Egypt to stop building this wall," he said, adding that Cairo must take the initiative to end the blockade imposed on Gaza since the advent of Hamas rule there. "The iron wall and the flow of water in tunnels to finish off the rest of the narrow veins that give some hope to Gaza."

Turning to internal affairs, Nasrallah stressed that Lebanon had gone through dangerous times in the previous five years. Prophesied for Beirut, he said, were "wars, seditions and divisions," as well as a role in the "sectarian … conflicting" Middle East which would eventually yield easily toIsrael.

Citing the Phalagists, Nasrallah warned that Lebanese political parties would not succeed in attempts to "provoke" Hizbullah by threatening to undermine the legitimacy of the "resistance."

"If war were imposed on us," he said, "we would fight … God willing, we would achieve no less than victory."

The Hizbullah leader's speech was broadcast and translated by Hizbullah TV station Al-Manar.


Israel’s airport security increased following attack

December 27, 2009

JERUSALEM (JTA) -- Israel's Ben Gurion International Airport increased security following an attempted terrorist attack on a flight to the United States.

Airline passengers traveling from Israel to the United States will also be subjected to additional questioning, according to reports.

The American Jewish Committee on Saturday praised the crew and passengers traveling on the Northwest Airlines flight from Amsterdam to Detroit Friday who prevented a bombing attack by an alleged Al Qaeda operative

Abdul Farouk Abdulmutallab, 23, a Nigerian native currently studying in London, was charged Saturday with attempting to blow up the U.S. airliner. He was contained by passengers and crew of the flight after he set off an explosive strapped to his leg, which set fire to the airplane's wall and the terrorist's leg.

"As we approach the end of a decade defined by the experience of 9/11, this attack - thankfully foiled through the sheer courage of those on board the plane - is a painful reminder that the struggle against Islamist terrorism continues," said AJC Executive Director David Harris.

Abdulmutallab was listed in a U.S. terrorism database last month after his father contacted U.S. State Department officials because he was worried about his son's connections to extremist Muslim groups, the Washington Post reported.

Abdulmutallab said he was trained by al-Qaida in Yemen, according to reports.


Karzai Impersonator Tests Limits Of Afghan Free Speech

By Dion Nissenbaum

Dec. 27, 2009

KABUL -- Everyone around the Afghan capital seems to recognize his voice, but almost no one knows his face.

His crass impersonation of Afghan President Hamid Karzai draws both gasps and chuckles as it bounces from cell phone to cell phone around the nation's capital.

In the weeks since Karzai secured his hold on a second term after a dubious election, this anonymous Karzai impersonator has become the newest voice of underground political dissent to test the limits of free speech in Afghanistan.

The satire isn't sophisticated.

For 150 seconds, Karzai hurls some startling insults - especially for a conservative Muslim country - at political challenger Ashraf Ghani.

The Karzai impersonator, known for his effete voice, responds by tossing graphic profanities back at the Afghan president.

"They say I rigged the election," said Ghani, who draws laughs for capturing Karzai's signature staccato speech as he curses his critics in one of the more family-friendly moments. "Mother---s."

Despite its simplistic humor, or perhaps because of it, the audio clip has boomeranged around Kabul, bopping from Bluetooth to Bluetooth.

Inside the presidential palace, it's caught the ears of Karzai aides, who privately scolded the would-be comedian for pushing the boundaries of the country's shaky free speech protections.

"President Karzai doesn't care if they make dramas, comedies or cartoons about him," said one presidential aide, who agreed to speak about the impersonation only if his name wasn't used.

"But freedom of speech should have its limits," the aide said. "I don't think cursing one's wife - or insulting someone's personality - should have a place in freedom of speech."

Afghanistan's free press has grown exponentially since Karzai assumed power after U.S.-backed forces routed the Taliban in 2001.

Afghanistan now has more than a dozen daily newspapers, at least 15 TV stations and scores of radio outlets, according to Reporters Without Borders, the Paris-based free speech organization.

Although reporters in Afghanistan face government intimidation and abductions by anti-government forces, Reporters Without Borders has called the media explosion "unprecedented."

There's even a weekly comedy show that's been dubbed "The Daily Show of Afghanistan."

"In the last few years, Karzai's single achievement has been freedom of speech," said Hanif Hamgam, one of the stars of "Danger Bell," a political television show that's been compared to comedian Jon Stewart's popular Comedy Central faux news program.

"It's a success for Karzai," said Hamgam, whose show appears on Tolo TV, one of the country's private television stations that constantly tests Afghanistan's free speech protections. "He's failed in 90 percent of the things he's done, but there is freedom of speech."

Full report at:


Hezbollah chief asks Egypt to stop Gaza border wall


Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah on Sunday called on Egypt to stop building a steel wall along the Gaza border that could obstruct tunnels which provide a lifeline for the blockaded enclave, Reuters reported.

Nasrallah told a crowd of tens of thousands of Lebanese Shi'ite Muslim marking the Ashura religious ceremony that Egypt should be condemned if it does not halt the wall building.

Tensions between Egypt, a predominantly Sunni country, and Hezbollah, a Shi'ite group backed by Iran, have been running high since last year when Nasrallah accused Cairo of complicity with Israel in its siege of the Gaza strip.

"In addition to the siege there has been news about (building) a steel terminate the thin veins which are giving some life and some hope to Gaza," he said.

"We call on the government in Egypt and the leadership to stop the wall and flooding the tunnels and to end the siege otherwise it should be condemned by all Arabs and the Muslims," he said.

Egypt is trying 26 men suspected of links with Hezbollah and accused of planning attacks inside the country. Hezbollah denies they had plans for attacks inside Egypt and says one of the men is a Hezbollah member and that he and up to 10 others were trying to supply military equipment to Hamas-run Gaza.

Egyptian officials have said steel tubes were being placed at several points along the 14-km (8-mile)-long border, but they did not specify their purpose.

Palestinians fear a steel barrier, deep underground, would limit or end smuggling through hundreds of tunnels operating in defiance of a three-year-old Israeli-led blockade.

Tunnel-builders said some 3,000 tunnels were operational before Israel launched a three-week offensive in the Gaza Strip a year ago, but only 150 were still functional following the conflict and subsequent Israeli air raids.

"This unjust silence over besieging a whole people should not continue regardless of the excuses," Nasrallah said.

Shortly before Nasrallah's speech tens of thousands of Shi'ite Muslim Lebanese, chanting "Death to America, death to Israel," marched in Hezbollah's Beirut stronghold to commemorate the annual Ashura ritual.

A sea of men, women and children marched in the streets of Beirut's southern suburbs carrying Hezbollah's yellow and black flags and some carried religious slogans. They beat their chests in a sign of grief over the killing of the Prophet Mohammad's grandson, Imam Hussein and chanted "O Hussein" and "We will never be humiliated."

Ashura commemorates Hussein, who was killed along with most of his family by Islamic ruler Yazid, who Shi'ites remember as an oppressor and murderer. Hussein's death at Kerbala in Iraq in AD 680 is a defining moment in the history of Shi'ite Islam.


2 blasts in last 24 hours in Karachi cause 43 injured

27 Dec 09

By Kamil Arif, Khurrum Gulzar and Imtiaz Shah

KARACHI: The second bomb blast in the city in last 24 hours has caused 24 people injured, police confirmed SAMAA.

The bomb blast at Kasba turn in Orangi Town in Karachi. The blast took place when the Muharram procession was on its way. The bomb was planted in the manhole. The bomb blast has caused 24 people injured.

The police have cordoned off the area and rescue teams have started relief works. Bomb Disposal Squad have also reached the place of the explosion. The seven injured have been brought to Abbasi Shaheed Hospital while 12 in Qatar Hospital. The city has seen two blast in last 24 hours.

Earlier, the car bomb blast has hit the area of Paposh Nagar in the city, Vice Nazim of the area Ihsanullah Khan and police told SAMAA Saturday.

The bomb blast hit the area of Khilafat Chouk in Paposh Nagar in the city when Muharram procession was on its way from the area.

The bomb blast has caused 19 people injured in the city.

The hospital sources have confirmed that 19 injured have been brought to hospital. The two injured are in a critical condition.

The injured include Saima, Gazala, Awais, Ijaz, Nadia, Sabeen and a unknown child.

SSP Umer Khatab told SAMAA that 19 people have been injured in the blast. It was road side planted bomb blast which included four to five kg explosive material. It looked like a remote control bomb that also damaged the car, he added.

Earlier, the hospital sources confirmed that 12 injured have been brought to Abbasi Shaheed Hospital including two children, woman and policeman.

Earlier, three policemen have been injured in the explosion, police told SAMAA.

The injured people have been brought to Abbasi Shaheed Hospital. The relief work is on its way. The police have cordoned off the area.

The initials report indicated that the people ran away from the spot of the car bomb blast.

SHO Paposh Nagar Rao Ihsan told SAMAA that it was a minor explosion two people have been injured in the explosion. The car bomb explosion caused after the Muharram process has crossed from the area. Bomb Disposal Squad has been investigating that car that exploded and the nature of the explosion would be clear after the report of the Bomb Disposal Squad, he added.


• January 20: In a suspected sectarian incident, unidentified gunmen shot dead a shop owner from the Ahmadiyya community outside his house in the Kotri District of Sindh province.

• February 1: An explosion in the Saddar Town of Karachi killed one person and injured two others. One unidentified man - who fidgeted with the bomb planted in a garbage dump, which caused the explosion - died and two others sustained injuries.

• April 15: A 28-year-old sectarian worker-turned-lawyer was shot dead near Hamdard Dawakhana off the arterial M.A. Jinnah Road in Karachi. Mazharul Islam, was a former member of the banned Sunni outfit SSP.

Full report at:


Ban Ki-Moon: Gaza reconstruction not being addressed

27 December 2009

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has said more must be done to repair damage done in the Gaza Strip by Israeli military action one year ago.

Mr Ban said Gazans were being denied "basic human rights" and urged Israel to end its "unacceptable and counterproductive blockade".

He said Israeli well-being depended on conditions improving in the enclave.

Rallies are being held across Gaza to mark a year since the conflict, in which 1,400 Palestinians were killed.

In comments posted on the UN's website, Mr Ban said he was "deeply concerned that neither the issues that led to this conflict nor its worrying aftermath are being addressed".

He said that while levels of violence had been low in the past year, there was still no durable ceasefire after Operation Cast Lead and Gazans were "denied basic human rights".

"The quality and quantity of humanitarian supplies entering Gaza is insufficient, broader economic and reconstruction activity is paralysed," said Mr Ban.


Under Israel's blockade of Gaza, only basic humanitarian supplies are allowed in, meaning Gazans have not been able to obtain materials to repair damaged homes, buildings and infrastructure.

The UN Relief and Works agency (UNRWA) in Gaza told the BBC that public health was suffering as a result of inadequate and unsanitary water supplies, and there had been a rise in infant mortality.

UNRWA spokesman Christopher Gunness said thousands of tonnes of sewage were being pumped into the sea every day, because material for rebuilding treatment plants and other facilities was so scarce.

An international humanitarian aid convoy of some 200 vehicles is hoping to mark the anniversary by delivering supplies to Gaza.

The convoy is currently in Jordan, awaiting permission to cross the Red Sea and proceed to Egypt.

Hamas, which controls Gaza, is holding 22 days of rallies to mark the anniversary.

Senior leader Ahmed Bahar said Gazans remained "steadfast" after the conflict

"The resistance, which defended its land with honour, was not broken," the AFP news agency quoted him as saying.

Full report at:


Headley not to be extradited to India: FBI

PTI 27 December 2009

NEW DELHI: The FBI has politely turned down India's request for extradition of terror suspect David Headley to this country on the ground he will have to first undergo a sentence which could be imposed on him in the US for the offences committed if convicted.

Indian officials were told there was no realistic possibility of the Pakistani-American being handed over since the sentence could range between 200 and 300 years of imprisonment.

The US stand was conveyed to the Indian investigators by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) officials during their regular interaction to discuss the case related to Headley, whose links with the banned Lashker-e-Taiba (LeT) were being probed by the two countries, official sources said here today.

The polite turning down of the Indian request for extradition of 49-year-old Headley, arrested in Chicago on October three last, came in the wake of repeated statements including that by Union Home Secretary G K Pilai that India would press for the extradition of the terror suspect.

Pillai had said earlier that India will seek his extradition after completing investigation by January next year into his links with the Mumbai terror attacks.

However, FBI seems to be in no mood to hand over him to India and very politely conveyed that he could be handed over once the sentence ranging to 300 years is completed. He can also be sentenced to death, the sources said.

Headley has been charged by the FBI for 26/11 attacks in Mumbai also on December seven. He is alleged to have conducted reconnaissance of all targets attacked by Lashker militants on November 26 last year besides drawing the routemap for their landing on the Mumbai coast.


The week in review: A merry, safe Christmas


Snow-decked trees, real or plastic. Decorated homes, chocolate cake, big sale signs in the malls. And security personnel around the churches. Something is definitely wrong about this annual picture, and this week was no different. The security was in place to ensure safety for Christmas celebrations in anticipation of party poopers. Supposedly moderate Indonesia had to again brace for Christmas, even though it may be only a few people intent on demonstrating how intolerant we are of non-Muslims.

Stepping up security ahead of Christmas Eve has become the drill for the last 10 years, since church bombings in 2000. Some of the later bombings were traced to networks of "jihadi" elements. It's surely convenient to blame everything on 9/11 and its causes, which experts say include resentment of rapid "globalization," leaving many communities marginalized.

But the latest attack on a church construction site in Bekasi shortly before Christmas resulted in earlier patterns of authorities blaming the victims. The police reaction was similar to their inaction on the assault on Ahmadis in the city and elsewhere. An explanation for extreme "religious" behavior might simply be that criminals are encouraged by the complacency of law enforcers.

And why the complacency? Police should clearly act against those disturbing the peace. Follow the attitude to key decision makers and we find our leaders taking the side of the vocal majority, with minorities being blamed for disturbing the peace, either through engaging in a cult that makes Muslims "restless", or conducting church services in majority Muslim residential areas, where they are accused of not having permits to build churches.

Time will tell whether the new administration of re-elected President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono will live up to his slogan "prosperity, democracy and justice" for all.

Indeed he didn't get to begin work on any of that as the controversial bailout of Bank Century still dogs the administration. The only positive sign from the top is that there's no need to temporarily suspend the finance minister and the Vice President, as legislators have demanded. So we might still have stability.

Full report at:

URL of this page: