New Age Islam
Wed Dec 02 2020, 08:19 AM

Islamic World News ( 2 Jul 2016, NewAgeIslam.Com)

More Than 140 Killed, 176 Injured as Two Huge Bombs Explode in Baghdad

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photo: Two huge bomb attacks rocked busy market areas in the Iraqi capital, Baghdad, killing at least 140 people and injuring 176 others.

 

Saudi Rights Abuses in Yemen Mockery of International Law

'I Think We Will Be Killed One By One', Indian Victim of Dhaka Terror Told Father Over Phone

Intel Sleuths Fear Strikes by IS-Inspired JMB Cadres in Assam, Bengal Soon

Taliban’s Eid Attack Plot Foiled in Balkh, Bomb Making Factory Busted

Israel Blocks Gaza’s Palestinians from Praying at Al-Aqsa Mosque

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Arab World

More Than 140 Killed, 176 Injured as Two Huge Bombs Explode in Baghdad

Saudi Rights Abuses in Yemen Mockery of International Law

Over 30 Al-Nusra Terrorists Killed in Syrian Airstrikes Northeast of Damascus City

Spread in Crisis in Region Result of Certain Countries' Miscalculations about Terrorist Groups

ISIL Bases Bombed in Raqqa, Deir Ezzur

Civilians Killed in Al-Nusra Front Mortar Attacks in 3 Syrian Provinces

Leader Calls for Iranian Students' Vigilance against Global Arrogance's plots

Deputy Defence Minister: Hostilities Continue against Iran

Terrorist Groups Losing Al-Malaah Battle to Syrian Army

Son of Ex-Iranian Envoy: Kidnapped Diplomats Alive in Israeli Prisons

Iran Urges Unity against Terrorism as Hostage Crisis Leaves 28 Dead in Dhaka

Syrian Democratic Forces Smash ISIL Terrorists in Manbij

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India

'I Think We Will Be Killed One By One', Indian Victim of Dhaka Terror Told Father Over Phone

Intel Sleuths Fear Strikes by IS-Inspired JMB Cadres in Assam, Bengal Soon

Hyderabad IS Module Chief Had Tried To Travel to Syria

French Jihadi: IS Training Indians for Suicide Attacks

Owaisi’s Stand on IS Suspects Boosting Morale of Terrorists: Govt

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South Asia

Taliban’s Eid Attack Plot Foiled in Balkh, Bomb Making Factory Busted

Over 60 Militants Killed In Badakhshan and Ghazni Airstrikes

These Are the Smiling Terrorists Who Killed Anyone Who Couldn't Recite the Quran In #DhakaAttack

Dhaka terrorists have no connection with Islamic State, says Bangladesh minister

Bangladesh may be confronting a more fearsome militant foe

Top security officials investigated for deadly Kabul attack

Afghan forces recapture security posts in Wardak province

Taliban’s shadow governor for Kabul killed in airstrike

Afghan air force has ‘come long way’

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Mideast

Israel Blocks Gaza’s Palestinians from Praying at Al-Aqsa Mosque

Israeli Army Closes Off and Occupies Hebron As West Bank Violence Flares

Erdoğan, Putin could meet late July or early August

One soldier killed in PKK attack in Turkey’s southeast

Syrians in Turkey could become citizens: Erdoğan

Russia’s investment relations with Turkey will be restored: Report

Israel's Netanyahu seeks new allies in historic Africa trip

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Pakistan

At UN, Pakistan Demands Immediate Cessation Of Illegal Drone Strikes

Gilgit-Baltistan Govt. Boycotts Shandur Festival Due To Territorial Dispute

Protesters demand compensation for Soran Singh’s family

Ibad concedes recent rise in street crimes in Karachi

Dar asks Imran to apologise to Maryam

Iran frees 20 Pakistani fishermen

PPP warns govt against campaigning for Kalabagh dam

Concern over border issues conveyed to US

Three security personnel shot dead in Balochistan's Mastung district

Terror charges: ATC sends Ahmadi boy on 10-day remand

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Africa

Libyan Fighters Take Battle with the Islamic State to the Streets of Sirte

Africa rallies for Palestine’s liberation on Al-Quds Day

Youth Association demonstrates muslim love

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Europe

Second Wind? Daesh Ditching Syria, Iraq for Better Luck in Europe

Appealing to Its Base, ISIS Tempers Its Violence in Muslim Countries

U.K. Chief Rabbi Deplores Jeremy Corbyn's 'Offensive' Remarks on Israel, Radical Islamic Groups

German Agency Says Islamic State Operatives Came to Country Disguised as Refugees

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Southeast Asia

Buddhist Mob Burn Down A Mosque in Myanmar Village as Anti-Muslim Sentiment Swells In the Southeast Asian Nation

Chinese Enterprises Give Ramadan Donation to Indonesian Muslims

Jakarta mosque moves with the times

We need solidarity for Muslims who do not fast

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North America

Muslim Community Celebrates Ramadan, American Loyalty at Chino Mosque

Memo to Trump: American Muslims Do Assimilate

Muslim Man Beaten at Florida Islamic Centre

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau

URL: http://www.newageislam.com/islamic-world-news/new-age-islam-news-bureau/over-80-killed,-176-injured-as-two-huge-bombs-explode-in-baghdad/d/107843

 

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More Than 140 Killed, 176 Injured as Two Huge Bombs Explode in Baghdad

July 3, 2016

BAGHDAD — As celebrations for the Muslim holy month of Ramadan stretched past midnight into Sunday in central Baghdad, where Iraqis had gathered to eat, shop and just be together, a minivan packed with explosives blew up and killed at least 143 people — the third mass slaughter across three countries in less than a week.

The attack was the deadliest in Baghdad in years — at least since 2009 — and was among the worst Iraq has faced since the American invasion of 2003. The bombing came barely a week after Iraqi security forces, backed by American airstrikes, celebrated the liberation of Falluja from the Islamic State, which almost immediately claimed responsibility for the attack.

Even as fires still blazed Sunday morning at the bombing site, Iraq’s machinery of grief was fully in motion: Hospitals tried to identify charred bodies, workers sorted through the rubble searching for more victims, and the first coffins were on their way to the holy city of Najaf and its vast cemetery, always expanding, where Iraq’s Shiites bury their dead. By Sunday evening, a worker at the cemetery said more than 70 bodies had arrived, and many more were expected on Monday.

There were also immediate political repercussions, as the bombing brought an abrupt end to the brief victory lap that Iraq’s beleaguered prime minister, Haider al-Abadi, was enjoying after the recapture of Falluja. Mr. Abadi rose to power in 2014, and the Obama administration had hoped that he could reunite the country after the divisive tenure of his immediate predecessor, Nuri Kamal al-Maliki, whose sectarian policies were blamed for the rise of the Islamic State.

Less than two days earlier, two police officers and 20 hostages, many of them foreigners, were killed after gunmen invaded a restaurant in Dhaka, Bangladesh. The Islamic State claimed to be behind that attack. In Turkey, the authorities blamed the Islamic State for a coordinated suicide attack on Istanbul’s main airport that killed more than 40 people, although the terrorist group has not claimed responsibility.

Many of the victims in Baghdad on Sunday were children; the explosives detonated near a three-story complex of restaurants and stores where families were celebrating the end of the school year, residents said.

Ali Ahmed, 25, who owns a shop close to where the bomb went off, said that in the aftermath, knowing how many children were inside a shopping mall that was hit, he had begun yelling: “The kids upstairs! The kids upstairs! Save them!”

“But the firefighters arrived too late,” Mr. Ahmed said.

Later, he helped carry the bodies of children out of the rubble. He voiced anger at the security forces for failing to stop the bomber, and questioned why the street, which had been closed off earlier in the evening, was reopened around midnight.

When Mr. Abadi visited the bombing site on Sunday morning, people threw rocks and shoes at his convoy and yelled, “Thief!” The epithet was directed as much at Iraq’s dysfunctional and corrupt political class as it was at the prime minister.

“Thank God I managed to hit Abadi with stones to take revenge for the kids,” Mr. Ahmed said.

As those scenes unfolded and with anger swelling in the streets of the capital, many are now sure to wonder how long Mr. Abadi may remain in power; at the very least, the chaos is likely to presage the resumption of street unrest that had calmed during Ramadan and the military operations in Falluja.

The scenes that unfolded across the city on Sunday were another brutal illustration of the paradox Iraq faces as its security forces — and the American military, which is training the Iraqi Army and carrying out airstrikes and raids by Special Forces — make gains against the Islamic State. As more territory is won back, the group is reverting to its roots as a guerrilla insurgency, turning Baghdad again into an urban killing field.

Assaults like the one early on Sunday, as well as a string of attacks in Baghdad in May that killed more than 200 people in a week, make it difficult, if not impossible, for Mr. Abadi, a Shiite, to make meaningful progress in reconciling Iraq’s majority Shiites with Sunnis.

But the ferocity of the attack, and the ease in which the Islamic State is able to carry out mass murder in Baghdad, demonstrate another monumental challenge if the extremist group is driven from areas under its control: Not only will reconciliation be paramount, but any lasting peace will also require a lengthy counterinsurgency campaign that will challenge the Iraqi security forces and, perhaps, require a deepening involvement by United States forces.

After Mr. Abadi was forced to retreat with his bodyguards, he issued a statement saying that it was his “moral duty” to visit the site of terror attacks, and that he understood “the feelings and emotions and the actions of some people in their moment of sadness and anger.” He also declared three days of national mourning for the bombing victims.

He said the attacks were an attempt by the Islamic State to erase the jubilation many Iraqis felt about the liberation of Falluja. “I ask that God enable us to defeat terrorism and to protect our people, to have mercy on the martyrs and quickly heal the wounded, and to unite the Iraqis and crown their sacrifices with great victory,” he said.

The bombing occurred in the middle-class neighborhood of Karada, a busy district of cafes, shops and hotels, not to mention Mr. Abadi’s childhood home, as Iraqis joyously marked Eid al-Fitr, the days-long post-Ramadan festivity.

On Sunday afternoon, dozens of people were still unaccounted for. One man, Omar Adil, said two of his brothers, Ghaith and Mustafa, were missing. Five people from a single family in Sadr City, a poor Shiite neighborhood in eastern Baghdad, were also missing.

The Sunni extremists of the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL, quickly claimed responsibility for the attack, saying it was the work of a suicide bomber and had killed a gathering of Shiite Muslims. But Karada is a mixed area where Iraqis of all identities gather to do ordinary things — mainly to shop and eat — and many Sunnis were killed, too.

Abdulkareem Hadi, a shop owner in Karada, said that late Saturday he had to go home briefly, and asked two of his friends to watch his store. On Sunday morning, he was mourning those friends, Saif and Abdullah, who both owned clothing stores near his.

“I could not recognize their bodies,” he said. “ISIS says, ‘We kill Shiites,’ but I lost my dearest friends to me in this explosion, and they were Sunnis.”

Officials said on Sunday night that the death toll in Baghdad stood at 143, and that at least 195 were wounded. But that tally may well grow in the days ahead, given that many people were still unaccounted for and that many of the wounded were in critical condition. Hospital officials, accustomed to the gory aftermath of terror attacks, were horrified, saying they had never seen so many charred bodies, and that many of them could not be identified.

Abdullabas Ameen, an Iraqi Navy officer from a rural area of southern Iraq, was a patient in one of the hospitals, with shrapnel wounds to his chest and thigh. He came to Baghdad for a military course, and said he had been in a great mood Saturday night, enjoying the cosmopolitanism of the capital, and shopping for Eid.

“Those feelings didn’t last for long,” he said. “Suddenly I felt an earthquake, and a huge explosion. I felt myself in the middle of smoke, fire, destruction and screaming.”

He said he had lost a colleague, and then railed against the government for failing to protect its citizens. “The government is completely responsible for this daily bloodshed,” he said.

In the weeks ahead, as Iraqis face soaring summer temperatures, a lack of electricity to power air-conditioners and growing anger over security lapses, many expect a return of street protests.

Beginning last summer, a street protest movement gathered steam, demanding that Mr. Abadi root out corruption, end the system of handing out government posts based on sect and improve services. He made several proposals but has been unable to make meaningful changes in the face of opposition from other political blocs worried about losing their influence.

The protest movement ebbed and flowed over months, and at various times different factions sought to capitalize on the growing fury of Iraq’s citizens. This year, the powerful Shiite cleric Moktada al-Sadr, who commands a following among millions of the country’s Shiite underclass, tried to seize the movement, and twice his followers stormed Baghdad’s fortified Green Zone, the citadel of government.

But in their grief on Sunday, the political fallout was far from many Iraqis’ minds.

At the bombing site on Sunday, a woman, who had lost her husband and whose two sons were among the missing, was too grief-stricken to leave the scene.

All she could say was, “I don’t want to go to Najaf.”

Falih Hassan and Omar Al-Jawoshy reported from Baghdad, and Tim Arango from Beirut, Lebanon. An employee of The New York Times contributed reporting from Najaf, Iraq.

nytimes.com/2016/07/04/world/middleeast/baghdad-bombings.html?hp&action=click&pgtype=Homepage&clickSource=story-heading&module=a-lede-package-region&region=top-news&WT.nav=top-news&_r=0

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Saudi Rights Abuses in Yemen Mockery of International Law

July 3, 2016

TEHRAN (FNA)- More than 70 professors in Europe and North America expressed concern over a UN decision to remove Saudi Arabia from its blacklist of child rights violators amid Riyadh’s military campaign against Yemen.

The 73 professors, in a letter sent to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon earlier this week, expressed shock at “the brazen vulgarity of power that a single ruling family in one member state can assert against the entirety of the UN to prevent it from documenting war crimes and crimes against humanity,” presstv reported.

The signatories, all professors of top universities including Harvard, Columbia, Georgetown, Princeton, Oxford and Cambridge, further pointed to the exclusion of Israel from a similar list, noting that it is the second time in a year that the UN has dropped the name of a regime charged with war crimes from such rosters.

“Such egregious violations of the human rights of a beleaguered nation by Saudi Arabia and its coalition partners, aided and abetted by the US and the UK, make a mockery of the sovereignty of nations, of international humanitarian conventions, of the rule of law, and above all of the rule of reason and sanity,” the professors said

“If not the UN then what international body has the duty of documenting such criminal offenses? If not the UN then who should hold Saudi Arabia and its coalition partners accountable for such war crimes?” they asked.

The professors also said it is up to the UN to document Saudi Arabia’s barbaric violations of Yemeni children’s safety and security.

On June 6, the UN gave into a Saudi demand to drop the kingdom from its annual blacklist of child rights violators, less than a week after it blamed Riyadh for the killing of hundreds of Yemeni children.

The Children and Armed Conflict (CAAC) report, published on June 3, said the Saudi coalition was responsible for 60 percent of child casualties in Yemen last year, during which 510 children were killed and 667 others injured.

Both Saudi Arabia and the UN drew international criticism after Ban acknowledged that he had expunged Riyadh from the blacklist under “undue pressure.”

Saudi Arabia launched its military aggression against Yemen on March 26, 2015 in a bid to bring Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, who has resigned as Yemen’s president and is a staunch ally of Riyadh, back to power and defeat the Ansarullah movement.

More than 9,600 people have been killed and at least 16,000 others injured since the onset of the aggressio

en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13950413000821

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'I think we will be killed one by one', Indian victim of Dhaka terror told father over phone

Jul 3, 2016

AGRA/FIROZABAD: Sometime before 6 am on Saturday when 19-year-old Tarishi Jain's phone went dead, her father Sanjiv Jain, who had been waiting outside Gulshan Cafe through most of the night after he got to know that heavily armed terrorists had stormed the restaurant in upscale Dhaka and were butchering guests, got a call.

It was from his daughter, cowering inside a toilet with two of her friends, Faraaz Ayaz Hossain and Abinta Kabir, hiding from the rat-tat-tat of gunfire outside the washroom's door. " Terrorists have entered the restaurant," she told her father, who was planning just a day earlier to bring his wife and two children to Firozabad in UP for a short holiday before Tarishi headed back to the US where she was an Economics undergraduate at the University of California. "I am very afraid and not sure whether I will be able to come out alive. They are killing everyone here."

It had been a long and harrowing night for Sanjiv as he gathered with dozens of anxious family and friends of those huddled in the cafe to know how the bloody strike on innocent and unarmed men and women would end. By the time the terrorists were neutralised, 20 people, mostly foreigners and among them Tarishi - the only Indian among the casualties - had died.

Tarishi was a recipient of an internship with a Bangladesh bank through the Institute for South Asia Studies at her university in California.

"After coming to know that Tarishi is among the hostages, we remained glued to our TV set the entire night and remained in touch with Sanjiv (her father) Rakesh Mohan Jain, Tarishi Jain's uncle. "She said, `I'm hiding in the toilet with friends, I think we will be killed one by one'. He was standing outside the cafe the whole time. We were in touch with him throughout," he said.

Her brother Sanchit, who has done his engineering from Canada, had landed in Delhi a day earlier so that the family of four, along with mother Tulika, could all head to Firozabad — where Sanjiv's three brothers Rakesh, Rajiv and Ajit have a flourishing trade in glass — on Saturday. That family reunion was never to be. At the Jains' Suhag Nagar home in Firozabad, there is both anger and deep grief. "We don't want her to be cremated in the land where she was brutally murdered. Terrorists killed her for being a Hindu," Sanjiv's younger brother Rakesh Mohan Jain told TOI.

timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/I-think-we-will-be-killed-one-by-one-Indian-victim-of-Dhaka-terror-told-father-over-phone/articleshow/53027779.cms

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Intel sleuths fear strikes by IS-inspired JMB cadres in Assam, Bengal soon

Jul 3, 2016

NEW DELHI: The threat of Islamic State staging Dhaka-like attacks in India is seen as a "real" possibility by the security establishment with online propaganda motivating jihadist-leaning, radicalised youth to travel to Iraq-Syria to train in jihad and return to carry out terror strikes in the name of a so-called 'Caliphate'.

Also, as evident from the busting of three IS-inspired modules in Roorkee and Hyderabad over the past 6-7 months, there are attempts by self-radicalised youths to organise themselves and plot terror attacks here, driven by Syria-based handlers. According to sleuths, sections of young Indian Muslims are increasingly gravitating towards IS, rather than aligning with older groups like Indian Mujahideen, SIMI or Lashkar-e-Toiba or Jaish-eMohammad.

The IS's success in acquiring and retaining territory in West Asia has added to its appeal along with its aggressive claims to be more true to jihad than other groups who it labels pretenders. Even as home minister Rajnath Singh maintains IS has limited impact in India, 23 Indians have travelled to IS territory. Though two have returned, 54 have been arrested for planning attacks.

"As many as three modules were busted by NIA in the past 6-7 months. While one was based in Roorkee, the one cracked in January had a pan-India profile. Another module, which was preparing the deadly explosive triacetone triperoxide (TATP) used in Paris and Brussels attacks, was busted in Hyderabad this week. This shows that agencies are also successfully monitoring the radicalised youths and acting before they can operationalise their plans," said an intelligence officer.

But, the officer added, one slip is all it takes for a jihadi strike. "We are tracking nearly 400-500 radicalised youth and intervene from time to time to counsel them or even detain/arrest those on verge of operationalising their terror plans," said an officer.

That IS is looking to enhance its appeal and recruitment in India was clear when it released a video last month showing an Indian youth fighting for IS in Syria. Incidentally, IS's influence is also growing in Bangladesh. Local terror elements linked to Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB), frustrated with their own failure to prevent hanging of leaders such as Motiur Rahman Nizami, have reportedly aligned with IS.

Only recently, IS Bangladesh chief Shaykh Abu Ibrahim Al Hanif declared IS's intention to use fighters from Pakistan and Bangladesh to mount "guerilla attacks inside India" by partnering local mujahideen. Indian agencies fear attacks by JMB in Assam and West Bengal in the coming days. These are the two states where JMB has set up bases and training facilities.

timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Intel-sleuths-fear-strikes-by-IS-inspired-JMB-cadres-in-Assam-Bengal-soon/articleshow/53027285.cms

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Taliban’s Eid attack plot foiled in Balkh, bomb making factory busted

Sun Jul 03 2016

A bomb making factory of the Taliban group was busted during an operation in northern Balkh province of Afghanistan, the Afghan intelligence said Sunday.

The National Directorate of Security (NDS) said the factory was discovered in Robat village located in Chemtal district.

According to a statement by NDS, two experts working in the factory to manufacture Improvised Explosive Device (IED) were also detained during the operation.

The statement further added that the two suspects have been identified as Mehrabuddin son of Noor Mohammad and Mohammad Ewaz Akbari son of Abdul Salam.

NDS also added that the intelligence operatives seized 12 kgs of TNT explosives, 6 Nokia mobile phone sets, some explosives, 2 hand grenades, 20 explosives capsules, 1 remote control, and other types of equipment used to manufacture IEDs.

According to NDS, the Taliban militants were looking to use the weapons and explosives to plan and coordinate attacks during the Eid days in Balkh province.

NDS said the Taliban militants were looking to target the mosques during the Eid days as hundreds of people would gather for Eid prayers.

The anti-government armed militant groups including the Taliban insurgents have not commented regarding the report so far.

khaama.com/talibans-eid-attack-plot-foiled-in-balkh-bomb-making-factory-busted-01404

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Israel blocks Gaza’s Palestinians from praying at Al-Aqsa Mosque

July 3, 2016

The Israeli occupation authorities have blocked Palestinians in Gaza from travelling to Jerusalem in order to spend one of the highlights of the month of Ramadan, the 27th night, in Al-Aqsa Mosque, Anadolu reported on Friday.

According to the Palestinian Authority’s Information Ministry, officials made a great deal of effort to get Israeli permission for people from Gaza to travel. The Israelis, said Media Director Mohamed Maqadmeh, simply refused to let it happen, although they did allow 300 elderly Palestinians to leave the beleaguered Gaza Strip to perform the Friday prayer at Al-Aqsa Mosque on condition that they were back in the territory before dark.

Muslims spend the odd-numbered nights within the last 10 days of Ramadan praying and supplicating to God in the hope of reaping the spiritual benefits of Lailatul Qadr, one of the most special nights of the whole Islamic calendar.

Despite the restrictions placed on Palestinians travelling to and visiting the Noble Sanctuary of Al-Aqsa in Jerusalem, agencies have reported that more than 400,000 worshippers from other parts of Palestine were able overcome the difficulties in order to perform their prayers in the mosque on Friday night.

middleeastmonitor.com/20160702-israel-blocks-gazas-palestinians-from-praying-at-al-aqsa-mosque/

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Arab World

Over 80 Killed, 176 Injured as Two Huge Bombs Explode in Baghdad

July 3, 2016

TEHRAN (FNA)- Two huge bomb attacks rocked busy market areas in the Iraqi capital, Baghdad, killing at least 83 people and injuring 176 others.

The explosions targeted the Karrada and Sha'ab districts. The explosion in Karrada killed at least 78 people and injured 160 others, while local sources reported at least 5 people were killed in the explosion happened in Sha’ab neiborhood, RT reported. 

Interior Ministry spokesman Sa’ad Ma’an confirmed that the first attack was a car bomb, as eyewitnesses said on Twitter that many shops burned down in the explosion. There are also fears the number of casualties could grow.

Karrada, the upper middle class district of the Iraqi capital, is mostly inhabited by Shiites and a large Christian minority. The area gets really busy after sunset during the holy month of Ramadan.

Shortly after the explosion hit Karrada, eyewitnesses said there was a second blast that targeted the Sha’ab neighborhood, located in the Northern part of the city.

Some media said that at least five people were killed in this explosion and another 16 were injured. Meanwhile, they said a suspected homemade explosive device was used to hit a market.

ISIL terrorist group has claimed responsibility for the attack in Karrada, Baghdad, BNO News reported.

The tactics also bears ISIL’s hallmarks in the groups typical attacks, as the terrorists frequently choose civilian areas in the capital as their targets.

Earlier this week, a suicide attack west of the Iraqi capital, Baghdad, killed at least 12 people and injured another 32. An attacker wearing a suicide vest targeted a mosque in Abu Ghraib.

ISIL recently suffered significant ground losses, as it was pushed out of Fallujah by Iraqi forces. However, the terrorist group still controls Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city, located in Northern Iraq.

en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13950413000314

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Saudi Rights Abuses in Yemen Mockery of International Law

July 3, 2016

TEHRAN (FNA)- More than 70 professors in Europe and North America expressed concern over a UN decision to remove Saudi Arabia from its blacklist of child rights violators amid Riyadh’s military campaign against Yemen.

The 73 professors, in a letter sent to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon earlier this week, expressed shock at “the brazen vulgarity of power that a single ruling family in one member state can assert against the entirety of the UN to prevent it from documenting war crimes and crimes against humanity,” presstv reported.

The signatories, all professors of top universities including Harvard, Columbia, Georgetown, Princeton, Oxford and Cambridge, further pointed to the exclusion of Israel from a similar list, noting that it is the second time in a year that the UN has dropped the name of a regime charged with war crimes from such rosters.

“Such egregious violations of the human rights of a beleaguered nation by Saudi Arabia and its coalition partners, aided and abetted by the US and the UK, make a mockery of the sovereignty of nations, of international humanitarian conventions, of the rule of law, and above all of the rule of reason and sanity,” the professors said

“If not the UN then what international body has the duty of documenting such criminal offenses? If not the UN then who should hold Saudi Arabia and its coalition partners accountable for such war crimes?” they asked.

The professors also said it is up to the UN to document Saudi Arabia’s barbaric violations of Yemeni children’s safety and security.

On June 6, the UN gave into a Saudi demand to drop the kingdom from its annual blacklist of child rights violators, less than a week after it blamed Riyadh for the killing of hundreds of Yemeni children.

The Children and Armed Conflict (CAAC) report, published on June 3, said the Saudi coalition was responsible for 60 percent of child casualties in Yemen last year, during which 510 children were killed and 667 others injured.

Both Saudi Arabia and the UN drew international criticism after Ban acknowledged that he had expunged Riyadh from the blacklist under “undue pressure.”

Saudi Arabia launched its military aggression against Yemen on March 26, 2015 in a bid to bring Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, who has resigned as Yemen’s president and is a staunch ally of Riyadh, back to power and defeat the Ansarullah movement.

More than 9,600 people have been killed and at least 16,000 others injured since the onset of the aggressio

en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13950413000821

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ISIL Bases Bombed in Raqqa, Deir Ezzur

July 3, 2016

TEHRAN (FNA)- The Syrian warplanes carried out several combat flights over ISIL's concentration centers in Western Raqqa and Central Deir Ezzur, inflicting major damage on the terrorists' infrastructures and military hardware.

The Syrian fighter jets pounded two key bases of the ISIL at the crossroad of al-Tabaqa-Raqqa, which not only left scores of the militants dead or wounded but destroyed a number of vehicles.

In the meantime, the army aircraft targeted the ISIL strongholds in the Western side of Deir Ezzur airbase, causing heavy damage on the Takfiri terrorists' site and military equipment.

In relevant developments in Deir Ezzur on Saturday, the Syrian Air Force, in several combat flights, targeted ISIL's positions and bases in different parts of the Eastern province of Deir Ezzur, destroying their military hardware and their bases' infrastructures.

One of the headquarters of the ISIL in Southern side of the village of Albu Leil near Deir Ezzur city was completely destroyed and the entire members of the ISIL in the headquarter were killed in the Syrian warplanes' attacks.

In the meantime, the Syrian fighter jets pounded ISIL's bases in Ein Albu in Western side of Deir Ezzur city, which ended in the explosion of an ammunition depot and a bomb-laden car.

The Syrian army aircraft also bombed the ISIL concentration centers in the neighborhoods of al-Roshdiyeh and al-Kanamat, leaving several militant dead or wounded.

ISIL's artillery units sustained major damage in Syrian airstrikes in al-Tharda mountain.

en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13950413000762

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Civilians Killed in Al-Nusra Front Mortar Attacks in 3 Syrian Provinces

July 3, 2016

TEHRAN (FNA)- Al-Nusra Front terrorist group shelled with mortars a number of civilian-populated areas in three Syrian provinces of Damascus, Aleppo and Idlib and dozens of civilians were killed in the attack, the Russian Defense Ministry said.

"Al-Nusra Front terrorist group continues to sabotage the cessation of hostilities, conducting shelling attacks on Handarat, Khaddar and Kudeihi areas in Aleppo and the Nayrab’s Airport," the ministry said in a daily bulletin posted on its website, Sputnik reported.

According to the ministry, terrorists also attacked Dzhaubar, Kabun in Damascus Province, while in province of Idlib they shelled a civilian-populated area in Fuaa.

Syria has been mired in civil war since 2011, with government forces fighting numerous terrorist groups.

The brokered ceasefire regime in Syria came into force on February 27. Al-Nusra Front and ISIL terrorist groups, are excluded from the truce.

en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13950413000671

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Leader Calls for Iranian Students' Vigilance against Global Arrogance's plots

July 3, 2016

TEHRAN (FNA)- Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei called on the country's university students to be watchful of the plots hatched by the arrogant powers against Iran.

"Iranian students should stay vigilant towards enemies’ media hype against Iran," Ayatollah Khamenei said in a meeting with Iranian university students and academicians in Tehran on Saturday evening.

Iran's Supreme Leader said that the enemies of Iran have spent huge amounts of money to wage massive media campaign against Iran with the aim of undermining the country’s strong points and exaggerating its certain negative points in order to create disappointment among people and the youth in particular.

"There are only two ways to end Iran’s struggle against world arrogant powers; either to become strong enough or to lose true identity of the Islamic Republic," Ayatollah Khamenei added.

He pointed to an example of the enemies' media campaign against Iran, and said, "The silence of foreign media vis-à-vis huge presence of people in Iran and other countries to mark the International Quds Day (July 1) is a clear example."

Iran's Supreme Leader said that the demonstrations to mark the International Quds Day on Friday which was a very hot day and people were all fasting is truly a unique and unprecedented phenomenon which was not properly covered by foreign media while they would make exaggerations, if they found a negative point.

"The crucial and inevitable struggle of the Iranian nation with the arrogant powers front started when Iranians decided to be independent and make progress by relying on themselves which was against the interests of the world's domineering powers,” Ayatollah Khamenei added.

Millions of Iranians took to the streets in all Iranian cities across the country on the International Quds Day on Friday to voice support for the Palestinian nation against the Israeli regime.

Iranians across the country, including in the capital Tehran, alongside other people around the world are holdingmassive anti-Israel rallies on the last Friday of Ramadan in opposition to the continued occupation of the Palestinian land by Israel.

The International Quds Day was started by the late Founder of the Islamic Republic, Imam Khomeini, in 1979 as a way of expressing solidarity with the Palestinians and underscoring importance of the holy Quds to Muslims.

International Quds Day is an annual event opposing Israel's occupation of Beit-ul-Muqaddas. Anti-Zionist rallies and demonstrations are held on the last Friday of Ramadan in Muslim and Arab countries around the world, and especially in Iran.

en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13950413000697

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Deputy Defense Minister: Hostilities Continue against Iran

July 3, 2016

TEHRAN (FNA)- Iranian Deputy Defense Minister Brigadier General Amir Hatami underlined that the world arrogant powers have not yet abandoned their hostilities against the country.

"Besides the defense industry's astonishing progress, enemies cannot bear the Islamic Republic of Iran's spiritual power and therefore, will never leave animosity towards Iran," General Hatami said, addressing a ceremony in the Northwestern city of Tabriz on Sunday.

Stressing that the form of enmities is changing, he said, "Since the beginning of the Revolution, the enemies have been plotting against Iran and they still pursue their goals by changing the nature of their hostilities from military war to sanctions, soft warfare and economic warfare and they don’t spare any attempts to this end and change the form of their enmities relevant to Iran's conditions and capabilities."

In relevant remarks last month, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif blasted Washington for its continued hostilities against the country, and said Tehran never trusts the US.

"The nuclear agreement doesn’t mean that the other side's hostilities have ended since they always consider the Islamic Republic of Iran as an obstacle on their way; also it doesn’t mean that they have withdrawn from their stonewalling," Zarif said, addressing the Iranian MPs in an open session of the parliament in Tehran.

He underlined that the nuclear deal also doesn’t mean the end of the western states' attempts to find different pretexts to pressure Iran since the nature of the negotiating countries has not changed and talks were only limited to the nuclear issue and not other subjects, including Iran's missile power.

Zarif stressed Iran's caution in dealing with the western states, specially Washington, and said, "We never trust the US and the basis of our power is our fight against hegemony."

Also, in April, Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei underlined that Iran cannot trust the US and its western allies for their bad record in complying with their commitments.

Addressing members of the cabinet and the parliament's presiding board and judiciary officials in Tehran, the Leader said it is typical of the US to do unethical and immoral moves and actions, and added, "The Americans cannot be trusted and, in addition to the Americans, certain other western states are also the same; hence, we should put trust in our own abilities and the US officials' positions and performance is also a confirmation of the same fact," he added.

Ayatollah Khamenei underscored his support for the government, parliament and judiciary to settle the Iranian people's problems and improve their living conditions, and underlined that any measure taken by the three branches of power should be deemed necessary and meet the national interests.

He also stressed the importance of supporting domestic production, and said, "Production should be given special attention in both the industrial and agricultural sectors."

en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13950413000669

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Over 30 Al-Nusra Terrorists Killed in Syrian Airstrikes Northeast of Damascus City

July 3, 2016

TEHRAN (FNA)- 31 militants of the al-Qaeda-affiliated al-Nusra Front were killed and many more were wounded in the Syrian fighter jets' heavy bombardments in Eastern Qalamoun.

The Syrian warplanes, in a fresh round of combat sorties, targeted positions of al-Nusra Front near the town of Jayroud, where a Syrian Air Force's pilot was captured and killed by the militant groups.

The ISIL military equipment also sustained major damage in attacks.

The Syrian Armed Forces' Command Center, in a statement on Saturday, underlined the firm will of the country's military forces to punish the terrorists who killed the Syrian Air Force's pilot captured on Friday.

"Nawras Hassan was in the custody of Jeish al-Islam; however, just hours later Nawras Hassan was executed by al-Nusra Front," the statement said, adding, "Syrian military forces are resolved to avenge the murder of the pilot, whose jet crashed in Damascus province on Friday."

Army sources said on Friday that a military aircraft crashed in the Damascus region in Southern Syria, adding the pilot's fate was unknown.

"A military aircraft crashed in Qalamoun in the Damascus governorate," the sources said

According to the source, the aircraft was carrying out a training task and the pilot managed to eject himself, though his fate remains unknown.

en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13950413000503

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Spread in Crisis in Region Result of Certain Countries' Miscalculations about Terrorist Groups

July 3, 2016

TEHRAN (FNA)- Iranian Ambassador to Turkey Mohammad Ebrahim Taherian Fard blamed certain countries' miscalculations and instrumental use of terrorism for the critical conditions in the region.

"Certain countries' wrong calculus and their use of the terrorist and extremist groups have yielded no results but destruction and increasing crisis in the region and beyond," Taherian Fard said, addressing a ceremony in Ankara.

He described extremism and terrorism as the most important problem of the region and the world, and said, "Unity and cooperation among all Muslim states is the only remedy to the crisis."

Taherian Fard also blasted certain countries for using terrorism as an instrument to attain their goals.

In relevant remarks in March, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif called for the world countries' colossal efforts to fight against the spread of terrorism in the world.

"All world countries should do their best to uproot the terrorist groups as they are posing a threat to all countries," Zarif said, addressing a press conference in Bangkok.

The Iranian foreign minister strongly criticized the western countries for not taking serious measures to uproot the terrorist groups, and said, "The war on terrorism and extremism requires contribution of all world countries."

Also, in December, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani underlined the need for cooperation among the world countries to uproot the terrorist groups.

"I hope that we would see, through efforts and more cooperation among the world countries, the restoration of daily-growing peace and security, elimination of discrimination and eradication of terrorism across the globe,” President Rouhani said in a message to the heads of Christian countries on the occasion of Christmas and the New Year.

en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13950413000603

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Son of Ex-Iranian Envoy: Kidnapped Diplomats Alive in Israeli Prisons

July 3, 2016

TEHRAN (FNA)- Son of former Iranian charge d'affaires in Beirut Seyed Mohsen Moussavi underlined that evidence and documents indicate that the four diplomats abducted in Lebanon in 1982 are still alive and imprisoned in Israel.

"We could attain some information showing that Ahmad Motevasselian and his accompanying team are still alive," Moussavi's son said on Sunday.

"During the time, different reports have come from the Iranian diplomats and we conclude that they are alive and being kept in Israeli prisons," he added.

Moussavi's son stressed that legal works are underway in Lebanon to pursue fate of the four diplomats.

In relevant remarks in May, Iranian Defense Minister Brigadier General Hossein Dehqan said that Iran is in possession of corroborative evidence proving that its four diplomats are still alive and imprisoned by Israel.

"We claim on the basis of proofs that they are alive and captivated by the Zionist regime," General Dehqan said.

He underlined that the Israelis are responsible for the health of the Iranian diplomats, adding that Tehran will also pursue their fate legally and politically.

The then charge d'affaires of the Iranian Embassy in Beirut Seyed Mohsen Mousavi, military attaché Ahmad Motevaselian, embassy technician Taghi Rastegar Moghadam and journalist of the Islamic republic news agency Kazzem Akhavan were kidnapped by the Lebanese mercenary army - also known as the Falangists - at gunpoint in Northern Lebanon in 1982 and were later handed over to Israeli army.

Israel has released contradictory reports on the issue. The Zionist regime alleged in a statement last year that the diplomats had never been surrendered to Israel. Elsewhere it claimed in response to a request put forward by the Lebanese Hezbollah group that the four are already dead.

In January 2009, the then Iranian foreign ministry spokesman said that Iran had received a report from the Zionist regime which said the kidnapped Iranian diplomats had not been transferred to Tel Aviv and laid the blame on the Lebanese mercenary army affiliated with Israel.

In reaction to the report, the spokesman said at the time that the report "will not relieve the Zionist regime of its responsibility" for the healthiness and safe repatriation of the diplomats.

en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13950413000405

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Iran Urges Unity against Terrorism as Hostage Crisis Leaves 28 Dead in Dhaka

July 3, 2016

TEHRAN (FNA)- Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif condemned the Saturday morning hostage crisis which killed at least 28, stressing the need for unity among the world states against terrorism.

"The latest terror attack in Dhaka was less headline-making in the West, nonetheless it shows we must be united in ridding our world of this evil," Zarif wrote on his twitter page on Saturday night.

The dramatic, 10-hour hostage crisis that gripped Bangladesh’s diplomatic zone ended Saturday morning with at least 28 dead, including six of the attackers, as commandos raided a popular restaurant where heavily armed attackers were holding dozens of foreigners and Bangladeshis prisoner while hurling bombs and engaging in a gunbattle with security forces.

The victims included 20 hostages, mostly foreigners, and two Bangladeshi police officers.

The 20 hostages killed included nine Italians, seven Japanese, three Bangladeshis and one Indian, government sources said, as details of the bloodshed began trickling from other capitals worldwide.

Two Bangladeshi police officers also died from injuries sustained while exchanging gunfire with the attackers Friday night.

en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13950413000247

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Syrian Democratic Forces Smash ISIL Terrorists in Manbij

July 3, 2016

TEHRAN (FNA)- Fighters of Manbij Military Council, affiliated to the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), continued to beat the ISIL back from more positions in Manbij and took back more residential areas in the town.

The SDF fighters stormed the ISIL positions in al-Hazaveneh neighborhood and took control over traffic police building, which claimed the lives of at least 17 militants.

The SDF combatants found two long tunnels with at least 800 meters of length connecting the traffic building to wheat silos.

The Kurdish-led SDF further found a large volume of ammunition, arms, communication devices, RPG missiles and grenades.

In relevant developments on Friday, the Kurdish-led SDF beat the ISIL back from more positions in the town of Manbij in Northeastern Aleppo after hours of non-stop battle.

"The SDF fighters stormed ISIL's strongholds and seized back Madfaa square near Western gate of Manbij and the police traffic building at the M4 Highway," the sources said.

"The SDF is likely attempting to separate the Eastern and Western parts of the town in order to cut off different ISIL's units and defeat them one after another," the sources added.

en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13950413000629

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India

'I think we will be killed one by one', Indian victim of Dhaka terror told father over phone

Jul 3, 2016

AGRA/FIROZABAD: Sometime before 6 am on Saturday when 19-year-old Tarishi Jain's phone went dead, her father Sanjiv Jain, who had been waiting outside Gulshan Cafe through most of the night after he got to know that heavily armed terrorists had stormed the restaurant in upscale Dhaka and were butchering guests, got a call.

It was from his daughter, cowering inside a toilet with two of her friends, Faraaz Ayaz Hossain and Abinta Kabir, hiding from the rat-tat-tat of gunfire outside the washroom's door. " Terrorists have entered the restaurant," she told her father, who was planning just a day earlier to bring his wife and two children to Firozabad in UP for a short holiday before Tarishi headed back to the US where she was an Economics undergraduate at the University of California. "I am very afraid and not sure whether I will be able to come out alive. They are killing everyone here."

It had been a long and harrowing night for Sanjiv as he gathered with dozens of anxious family and friends of those huddled in the cafe to know how the bloody strike on innocent and unarmed men and women would end. By the time the terrorists were neutralised, 20 people, mostly foreigners and among them Tarishi - the only Indian among the casualties - had died.

Tarishi was a recipient of an internship with a Bangladesh bank through the Institute for South Asia Studies at her university in California.

"After coming to know that Tarishi is among the hostages, we remained glued to our TV set the entire night and remained in touch with Sanjiv (her father) Rakesh Mohan Jain, Tarishi Jain's uncle. "She said, `I'm hiding in the toilet with friends, I think we will be killed one by one'. He was standing outside the cafe the whole time. We were in touch with him throughout," he said.

Her brother Sanchit, who has done his engineering from Canada, had landed in Delhi a day earlier so that the family of four, along with mother Tulika, could all head to Firozabad — where Sanjiv's three brothers Rakesh, Rajiv and Ajit have a flourishing trade in glass — on Saturday. That family reunion was never to be. At the Jains' Suhag Nagar home in Firozabad, there is both anger and deep grief. "We don't want her to be cremated in the land where she was brutally murdered. Terrorists killed her for being a Hindu," Sanjiv's younger brother Rakesh Mohan Jain told TOI.

timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/I-think-we-will-be-killed-one-by-one-Indian-victim-of-Dhaka-terror-told-father-over-phone/articleshow/53027779.cms

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Intel sleuths fear strikes by IS-inspired JMB cadres in Assam, Bengal soon

Jul 3, 2016

NEW DELHI: The threat of Islamic State staging Dhaka-like attacks in India is seen as a "real" possibility by the security establishment with online propaganda motivating jihadist-leaning, radicalised youth to travel to Iraq-Syria to train in jihad and return to carry out terror strikes in the name of a so-called 'Caliphate'.

Also, as evident from the busting of three IS-inspired modules in Roorkee and Hyderabad over the past 6-7 months, there are attempts by self-radicalised youths to organise themselves and plot terror attacks here, driven by Syria-based handlers. According to sleuths, sections of young Indian Muslims are increasingly gravitating towards IS, rather than aligning with older groups like Indian Mujahideen, SIMI or Lashkar-e-Toiba or Jaish-eMohammad.

The IS's success in acquiring and retaining territory in West Asia has added to its appeal along with its aggressive claims to be more true to jihad than other groups who it labels pretenders. Even as home minister Rajnath Singh maintains IS has limited impact in India, 23 Indians have travelled to IS territory. Though two have returned, 54 have been arrested for planning attacks.

"As many as three modules were busted by NIA in the past 6-7 months. While one was based in Roorkee, the one cracked in January had a pan-India profile. Another module, which was preparing the deadly explosive triacetone triperoxide (TATP) used in Paris and Brussels attacks, was busted in Hyderabad this week. This shows that agencies are also successfully monitoring the radicalised youths and acting before they can operationalise their plans," said an intelligence officer.

But, the officer added, one slip is all it takes for a jihadi strike. "We are tracking nearly 400-500 radicalised youth and intervene from time to time to counsel them or even detain/arrest those on verge of operationalising their terror plans," said an officer.

That IS is looking to enhance its appeal and recruitment in India was clear when it released a video last month showing an Indian youth fighting for IS in Syria. Incidentally, IS's influence is also growing in Bangladesh. Local terror elements linked to Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB), frustrated with their own failure to prevent hanging of leaders such as Motiur Rahman Nizami, have reportedly aligned with IS.

Only recently, IS Bangladesh chief Shaykh Abu Ibrahim Al Hanif declared IS's intention to use fighters from Pakistan and Bangladesh to mount "guerilla attacks inside India" by partnering local mujahideen. Indian agencies fear attacks by JMB in Assam and West Bengal in the coming days. These are the two states where JMB has set up bases and training facilities.

timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Intel-sleuths-fear-strikes-by-IS-inspired-JMB-cadres-in-Assam-Bengal-soon/articleshow/53027285.cms

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Hyderabad IS module chief had tried to travel to Syria

Jul 3, 2016

NEW DELHI: Mohammad Ibrahim Yazdani, 'emir' or leader of the Islamic State module busted in Hyderabad , had attempted to travel to Syria via Turkey and entered into a joint pledge with other members of the module, owing allegiance to the IS and its commander Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. In fact, Ibrahim, in a bid to motivate the module, even misinformed the members that news of the pledge had been conveyed to Baghdadi.

Ibrahim, according to sources, could not succeed in his effort to cross over to the IS territory . But as 'emir' of the Hyderabad module, he organised it well, allocating 'portfolios' to the members. The 'portfolios' included finance, procurement of weapons and explosives, weapons training and bomb assembly.

TOI has learnt Abdullah Bin Ahmed Al Amoodi, alias Fahad, and Mohammad Habeeb handled the explosives department, which explains the recovery of explosive material from their houses. NIA sources said terror plans of the IS module were largely localised, with the handler playing on the members' perceived grievances about minority youth being rounded up by the city police on suspicion of links with Indian Mujahideen, to prepare them for "revenge strikes".

The interrogation of suspects so far points to their plans to avenge the "injustice to their Muslim brothers" by attacking police stations in the neighbourhood. The idea, said an officer, was to send out a message to the law enforcement agencies "not to harrass members of the community as part of terror investigations".

Interestingly, though the agencies had intercepted a conversation on June 25 pointing to attempts by the suspects to procure pieces of beef, questioning of the suspects has not yet confirmed their plans to use these to foment communal trouble. "It is possible that the targets were not yet known to the module, as the handler may have wanted to maintain secrecy," said an NIA officer. The module, incidentally, was scouting for hideouts near Hyderabad to assemble bombs and to take shelter after carrying out bomb blasts.

An investigator on Saturday told TOI that two of the suspects, on the direction of Ibrahim, travelled to Anantapur in Andhra Pradesh earlier this month to pick up some "chemical". Ibrahim was told by a Syria-based handler that the "chemical" would be delivered to them in a packet, to be picked up from a location in Anantapur. Ibrahim picked two members of the module to go to Anantapur, who then waited for two days to be told where to collect the packet from. But they were finally told by Ibrahim to leave Anantapur after he learnt from the IS handler that the "chemical" could not be organised.

While Ibrahim and another member Iliyas Yazdani are brothers, Habeeb and Fahad are related by marriage. The module had made several suspicious money transactions from the Middle East, both through hawala and regular money transfer channels.

timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Hyderabad-IS-module-chief-had-tried-to-travel-to-Syria/articleshow/53026869.cms

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French jihadi: IS training Indians for suicide attacks

Jul 3, 2016

NEW DELHI: The assessment of intelligence agencies that Indian youths joining Islamic State (IS) are not considered good fighters as compared to those from other countries may not be completely accurate, if the terror outfit's propaganda video and disclosures made by a French national arrested in Paris last year are to be believed.

Last month, US-based private SITE Intelligence Group had said that IS had launched a new propaganda video that showed a large group of Kalashnikov-wielding jehadis, allegedly from India, fighting against the Syrian forces in Homs province. The video is part of the outfit's propaganda on foreign fighters in their ranks. The intelligence group said the video on Indian fighters was aimed at recruiting more jehadis to fight against the Syrian forces.

"It points to the fact that Indians are probably part of their killing squads and might have travelled to some countries along with other foreign fighters, though there is no concrete evidence to suggest that yet," said a senior officer, who didn't wish to be quoted.

French national Reda Hame, who was arrested in August 2015 upon his arrival from Syria after being trained by Islamic State, told investigators that while in Syria, he was kept in a dormitory where he saw some Indians along with Russians and Chechens, apart from few Chinese and an American. Hame was hired by IS's external operations wing, managed by caliphate's spokesperson Abu Muhammad al-Adnani, which western intelligence agencies say is tasked to train foreign fighters for fidayeen attacks.

In the transcript of his interrogation, reported by a US daily, Hame describes how, after reaching Syria last summer, he was "first housed in a dormitory that had more than a hundred fighters, including Russians, Chechens, Chinese, some Indians and one American".

Indian agencies had claimed last year, on the basis of questioning of 25-year old Kalyan youth Areeb Majeed and a few others, that the Indian

youths who went to Iraq and Syria were made to clean toilets or carry water to the conflict zones apart from being ill-treated by their IS commanders. According to official government figures, 25 Indians joined IS in Syria of whom six died.

Hame's disclosure could force Indian agencies to reassess the situation as more Indian youths may have joined the outfit than what has been presumed so far. About 500 youths are under the scanner of intelligence agencies for their suspicious activities related to IS as gleaned from their online posts. Some experts say the "number could be bigger" and it needs a reassessment of the situation.

Since 2014, Islamic State has been regularly sending trained fighters to other countries, especially Europe, where they have been found involved in deadly attacks like the ones seen in Brussels, Paris, Turkey and several other places.

According to Brussels-based International Crisis Group, up to 4,000 volunteers from Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan had joined Islamic State by the end of 2015. A large number of fighters have gone from countries like France, UK, Turkey, Germany and Russia

timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/French-jihadi-IS-training-Indians-for-suicide-attacks/articleshow/53026730.cms

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Owaisi’s stand on IS suspects boosting morale of terrorists: Govt

July 3, 2016

New Delhi : With AIMIM chief Asaduddin Owaisi defending his decision to provide legal aid to five IS suspects arrested from Hyderabad, the Centre on Sunday condemned his decision and asserted that such proceedings only fuel terrorism in the country.

Speaking to ANI here, Minister of State for Minority Affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said Owaisi’s statement boosted the morale of the terrorists.

“One should not fall so low in politics that they begin to appear favouring terrorists and terrorism. Play politics and take on the opposition, but don’t do something which shows that you are on the side of terrorism,” Naqvi said.

Condemning Owaisi’s decision to back the IS suspects, he further said that his decision would not be accepted by anyone across the country no matter his or her religion.

The Congress also condemned Owasi’s stand with party leader Digvijaya Singh stating on one hand the saffron party is hell bent on saving the Malegaon blast accused while the AIMIM chief on the other side is attempting to protect those caught by the NIA in alleged terror cases.

Backing his party’s decision, Owaisi earlier said that the legal system would anyway have offered legal help to the accused and urged the media not to blow the issue out of proportion and be a hindrance in the legal process.

The AIMIM chief had on Friday announced that his party would provide legal aid to the five IS suspects arrested from Hyderabad earlier this week by the National Investigation agency.

According to reports, Owaisi had earlier decided to support the accused after the family members of the youth met him and claimed that they are innocent. The Hyderabad MP then said he had directed a lawyer to provide the legal help.

The NIA on Friday received 12-day custody of the five accused, who were arrested from Hyderabad over suspicion of having terror links.

The agency had detained 11 people for suspected terror links in raids conducted at several places in Hyderabad on June 29.

In a major development since the arrest of five IS suspects, the NIA yesterday revealed the suspects had money transactions from Middle East on several occasions through ‘hawala’ and that they also pledged their allegiance to the Islamic State.

Stating that the suspects had divided portfolios among themselves for carrying out their objectives, the NIA report further said that they had also entered into a joint pledge owing allegiance to the Islamic State and its commander Baghdadi and one of them confessed that the pledge had been conveyed to him.

siasat.com/news/owaisis-stand-suspects-boosting-morale-terrorists-govt-981748/

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South Asia

Taliban’s Eid attack plot foiled in Balkh, bomb making factory busted

Sun Jul 03 2016

A bomb making factory of the Taliban group was busted during an operation in northern Balkh province of Afghanistan, the Afghan intelligence said Sunday.

The National Directorate of Security (NDS) said the factory was discovered in Robat village located in Chemtal district.

According to a statement by NDS, two experts working in the factory to manufacture Improvised Explosive Device (IED) were also detained during the operation.

The statement further added that the two suspects have been identified as Mehrabuddin son of Noor Mohammad and Mohammad Ewaz Akbari son of Abdul Salam.

NDS also added that the intelligence operatives seized 12 kgs of TNT explosives, 6 Nokia mobile phone sets, some explosives, 2 hand grenades, 20 explosives capsules, 1 remote control, and other types of equipment used to manufacture IEDs.

According to NDS, the Taliban militants were looking to use the weapons and explosives to plan and coordinate attacks during the Eid days in Balkh province.

NDS said the Taliban militants were looking to target the mosques during the Eid days as hundreds of people would gather for Eid prayers.

The anti-government armed militant groups including the Taliban insurgents have not commented regarding the report so far.

khaama.com/talibans-eid-attack-plot-foiled-in-balkh-bomb-making-factory-busted-01404

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Over 60 militants killed in Badakhshan and Ghazni airstrikes

Sun Jul 03 2016

Afghan Air Force MD-530FaOver 60 Taliban insurgents were killed or wounded in a series of airstrikes in Arghistan district located in northeastern Badakhshan province.  (U.S. Air Force Photo by Staff Sgt. Perry Aston/Released)

The Ministry of Defense (MoD) said at least 50 militants were killed and 12 others were seriously wounded in the raids.

MoD further added that 12 militants were killed and 2 others were wounded in a separate airstrike carried out in Aband district of southeastern Ghazni province.

The anti-government armed militant groups have not commented regarding the report so far.

Both Badakhshan and Ghazni provinces are among the relatively volatile provinces where anti-government armed militant groups are actively operating in a number of its remote districts.

The increased raids by the Afghan forces comes as the Taliban-led insurgency has been rampant since the group announced its spring offensive earlier in April.

The Taliban militants have since then staged numerous coordinated and suicide attacks across the country including capital Kabul as the group’s insurgency has entered to its 15th year.

In the meantime, the Afghan forces launched a counter terrorism operation in response to the annual spring offensive of the Taliban with the security officials claiming that the major attacks as part of Taliban spring offensive have been repulsed and the group has sustained major losses.

khaama.com/over-60-militants-killed-in-badakhshan-and-ghazni-airstrikes-01400

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These Are The Smiling Terrorists Who Killed Anyone Who Couldn't Recite The Quran In #DhakaAttack

July 3, 2016

Islamist militants killed 20 people inside an upmarket restaurant in Bangladesh's capital in the name of religion - and they did with a smile. This hostage situation was ended 12 hour later, after security forces stormed the building.

Islamic State took credit for what is one of the most brazen attacks in the South Asian nation's history. But Bangladesh has seen increasing attacks by militants who targeted mostly individuals advocating a secular or liberal lifestyle in majority-Muslim Bangladesh with 160 million people.

The gunmen ordered all to stand up before they began killing foreigners, a source said.

"Let the people of the crusader countries know that there is no safety for them as long as their aircraft are killing Muslims," Islamic State said in a statement, also posting pictures of five fighters it said were involved in the attack. Survivors said the killers made hostages recite verses from the Quran, to check who was Muslim - the unlucky few were killed. Most of those killed were found with their throats slit.

"All the hostages were killed last night. The terrorists used sharp weapons to kill them brutally," said Brig Gen Nayeem Ashfaq Chowdhury of the Army Headquarters on Saturday.

But Friday's attack was different, more coordinated, with the attackers brandishing assault rifles as they shouted "Allah hu Akbar" (God is Great) and stormed the Holey Artisan Bakery while dozens of foreigners and Bangladeshis were dining out during the holy month of Ramzan.  Six gunmen were killed during the police operation and one was captured, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said in a TV broadcast after more than 100 commandos concluded their operation to clear the cafe. Two police were killed in the initial assault.

It was not immediately clear whether the attackers had a specific goal, and Bangladesh authorities did not say if they had made any demands. Ten of 26 people who were wounded when the militants opened fire were in critical condition, and six were on life support, according to hospital staff.

indiatimes.com/news/world/these-are-the-smiling-terrorists-who-killed-anyone-who-couldn-t-recite-the-quran-in-dhakaattack-257744.html

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Top security officials investigated for deadly Kabul attack

Sun Jul 03 2016

Top Afghan security officials in the Ministry of Interior were investigated for a deadly attack in capital Kabul that targeted a convoy of the Afghan police cadets.

Sources in the Ministry of Interior (MoI) have said at least 10 senior officials have been investigated, apparently for any negligence that led to the death of at least 33 police cadets.

The incident in Kabul took place on Thursday after a suicide bomber targeted the convoy of the vehicle and second blast took place minutes after the first explosion.

The Ministry of Interior on Friday disclosed the latest casualties toll putting the number of dead people to 33 which included 32 police cadets.

MoI further added that 80 others were also wounded in the attack including a civilian and 79 police cadets.

The Taliban group claimed responsiblity behind the attack which followed almost two months after a deadly attack targeted the VIP protection unity in Kabul.

At least 64 people were killed and 347 others were wounded in the attack, forcing the Afghan government to change the soft stance against the Taliban and pick a strict military action against the group amid ongoing peace efforts.

In the meantime, the attack on police cadets convoy on Thursday drew international condemnation.

“On behalf of the United Nations in Afghanistan, I condemn today’s attack in Kabul that targeted Afghan National Police (ANP) cadets and their instructors, killing 33 and injuring 71 others,” Tadamichi Yamamoto, the US Secretary-General’s new Special Representative for Afghanistan and head of the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA).

He said the attack appears specifically designed to maximize suffering as police went to the aid of their fallen colleagues.

“There is simply no justification for such an attack. I remind all parties to the armed conflict in Afghanistan that they are bound to uphold their obligations under international humanitarian law at all times. The perpetrators must be held accountable,” Yamamoto added.

khaama.com/top-security-officials-investigated-for-deadly-kabul-attack-01403

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Dhaka terrorists have no connection with Islamic State, says Bangladesh minister

July 3, 2016

The terrorists who slaughtered 20 hostages at a Dhaka restaurant were members of a homegrown Bangladeshi militant outfit and not followers of the Islamic State group, a senior minister of the neighbouring country said today.

"They are members of the Jamaeytul Mujahdeen Bangladesh," Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan said, referring to a group which has been banned in Bangladesh for more than a decade. "They have no connection with the Islamic State."

According to Police Inspector General Shahidul Hoque, all the attackers in the assault on the cafe in Dhaka were Bangladeshi citizens and five of them were wanted by police for their involvement in terror-related cases. Bangladesh Police had tried to arrest these five militants previously, Hoque

TERRORISTS BELONGED TO AFFLUENT FAMILIES

The Bangladesh government is verifying if the terrorists received any guidance from Islamic State or Al Qaeda, an official in Bangladesh's counter-terrorism wing said.

According to reports, the terrorists were all aged 20 or 21 years old and were students of Dhaka's North South University. The slain terrorists belonged to affluent families and had passed out of top-notch schools in the city like Scholastica and the Turkish International School.

One of the slain terrorists Nibras islam, who was involved in the terror attack, belonged to a rich family too. He was allegedly brainwashed by radicals to carry out the heinous attack.

ISLAMIC STATE CLAIMS RESPONSIBILITY

However, The Islamic State on Saturday claimed responsibility for the Dhaka attack. The terrorist group's Amaq news agency said the terror group carried out the attack and claimed more than 20 people were killed in the attack.

"Islamic State commandos attack a restaurant frequented by foreigners in the city of Dhaka," the Amaq news agency said.

HASINA CALLS TWO-DAY STATE MOURNING

After the brutal attack, Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has called a two-day state mourning for the victims, who included nine Italians, seven Japanese, three Bangladeshis and an Indian teenager, at the Holey Artisan cafe in the diplomatic area of Gulshan in Dhaka.

In her speech, Hasina said her government was determined to "root out terrorism and militancy" from the country.

"It was an extremely heinous act. What kind of Muslims are these people?" said Hasina in a televised address on Saturday, after a 10-hour siege of the upmarket cafe in Dhaka. The prime minister also thanked all security personnel involved in the "successful" raid at the Holey Artisan Bakery in Dhaka's high-security diplomatic enclave.

THREE US STUDENTS HACKED TO DEATH

Three students from US universities, including an Indian girl, were among 20 hostages hacked to death by ISIS militants in a terror attack at a restaurant in Bangladesh capital's high-security diplomatic zone.

Nineteen-year-old Tarishi Jain, an Indian student at UC Berkeley, was on vacation in Dhaka when the attack happened.

The two other students -- Abinta Kabir and Faraaz Hossain-- were studying at Atlanta's Emory University, varsity officials said here, mourning the loss of their lives.

Bangladeshi-origin Abinta, who was from Miami, was a rising sophomore at Emory's Oxford College. Faraaz, a junior from Dhaka, was a graduate of Oxford College and a student at the university's Goizueta Business School, the university said yesterday.

US CONDEMNS TERRORIST ATTACK

Condemning the terrorist attack in Bangladesh as "despicable", the United States today offered to assist Bangladeshi authorities in bringing to justice those responsible for the death of 20 people, including foreigners, at a restaurant in Dhaka's high-security diplomatic zone.

"We remain in contact with Bangladeshi authorities and have offered any assistance necessary," White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said.

The "heinous" attack resulted in the death of an American citizen, Bangladeshi law enforcement personnel and citizens of several other nations, Earnest said.

"This is a despicable act of terrorism, and the US stands with Bangladesh and the international community in our resolve to confront terrorism wherever it occurs," he said.

State Department spokesman John Kirby said: "We remain in close contact with the Government of Bangladesh and have offered our assistance in their efforts to bring to justice those responsible for these attacks."

The US has not disclosed the name of the American killed in the attack. "Out of respect for the family, we have no further comment. At this time, we are not aware of any other US citizens among those held hostage," State Department said.

indiatoday.intoday.in/story/dhaka-terrorists-have-no-connections-with-islamic-state-says-bangladesh-minister/1/706517.html

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Bangladesh may be confronting a more fearsome militant foe

July 3, 2016

DHAKA/NEW DELHI July 2 (Reuters) - Bangladesh, faced with the worst militant attack in its history, is probing deeper for possible ties between the men who murdered around 20 people in a restaurant and trans-national Islamist extremist groups, security officials said.

Until Friday's attack in an upscale part of the capital Dhaka, the government had blamed two home-grown groups for mounting violence, but these were attacks on individuals, most of them with crude machetes and knives, and never a coordinated mass killing.

So the storming of the restaurant, taking diners hostages, apparently singling out foreigners for death and then fighting a gunbattle to the finish marked a new level of sophistication and scale, anti-terrorism officials and security experts said.

"We cannot say immediately which group is behind this. But they were terrorists who were trained well," said Brigadier General Naeem Ashfaq Choudhuri, director general of military operations for the Bangladesh army.

One line of inquiry being pursued is whether the attackers received any guidance from Islamic State or al Qaeda in the run-up to the attack, an official in the police counter-terrorism wing said.

Police were also looking into whether the Dhaka assault was part of, or inspired by a series of attacks elsewhere in the world including on Istanbul airport last month, he added.

Islamic State claimed responsibility for the Dhaka attack, and even while the siege was still on, the group published grisly pictures from inside the restaurant apparently sent by the assailants.

The authenticity of the images has not been established, however.

A U.S. government source said some U.S. government experts were now leaning towards the view that Islamic State was behind the attack, in which an American citizen was among the dead, along with at least nine Italians and seven Japanese.

AL QAEDA VERSUS ISLAMIC STATE?

Bangladesh, a pre-dominantly Muslim country of 160 million people, has long maintained that there are no foreign fighters on its soil, although some Western security experts have questioned that.

Officials have said that all seven gunmen in Friday night's attack and overnight siege were local.

It is not yet clear whether they belonged to either of the two main domestic militant movements blamed for a spate of attacks in recent months on bloggers, university teachers and members of religious minorities.

Ansar-al-Islam, considered the better coordinated and more dangerous of the two until now, had pledged allegiance to al Qaeda, while Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen had claimed to represent Islamic State in Bangladesh.

Security experts in Bangladesh, India and the United States said that even if there were no foreign fighters involved, whichever group mounted the restaurant assault appeared to have benefited from external support.

"This attack was of a level of sophistication that suggests the involvement of a group well schooled in intricately choreographed terror operations, and ISIS and al Qaeda fit the bill," Michael Kugelman, a senior South Asia associate at the Wilson Center, said.

Four pistols, an AK-22 semi-automatic assault rifle, four unexploded IEDs and several sharp weapons were recovered from the scene, Brigadier General Choudhuri said.

The targeting of people in a restaurant appeared more in line with Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen, which has focused its attacks on non-Muslims, whether a poor rickshaw-puller or a grocer.

Ansar-al-Islam, in contrast, has laid down strict "targeting criteria" under which its fighters attack people carrying out "anti-Islamic" activities such as bloggers criticising radical Islam or activists promoting gay rights.

It has said it will not carry out random killings.

Bangladesh counter-terrorism officials say Ansar follows the ideology and methods of al Qaeda, and has a fugitive former army major playing a key role that could make it more potent.

But they and foreign experts also see the risk of an escalating rivalry between al Qaeda and Islamic State, or their local proxies, in Bangladesh.

news.trust.org/item/20160703020039-opko1/?source=hpMostPopularTheWire

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Afghan forces recapture security posts in Wardak province

Sun Jul 03 2016

Afghan forces WardakThe Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF) have recaptured a number of the security posts in Jalrez district of central Wardak province.

According to the local security officials, the security posts were captured during two days of ongoing operations which were lunched following a coordinated Taliban attack.

Provincial governor’s spokesman Abdul Rahman Mangal said the security posts were captured by the Taliban militants two days ago and an operation was launched to clear the area from the militants’ presence.

He said at least security personnel sustained injuries during the operations and around 15 Taliban insurgents were killed or wounded.

The Taliban militants launched the coordinated attack on security posts in Jalrez district late on Friday night and managed to capture several security posts.

The local officials had earlier warned that the district would fall to Taliban control if additional forces were not deployed to repulse the Taliban attack.

Taliban militants are actively operating in a number of the remote districts of Wardak province and often carry out insurgency activities.

The militants are also occasionally targeting the security forces and passenger buses and vehicles on the highway connecting Kabul with the southern and southeastern provinces.

khaama.com/afghan-forces-recapture-security-posts-in-wardak-province-01402

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Taliban’s shadow governor for Kabul killed in airstrike

Sun Jul 03 2016

Taliban-killed-2-665x432A senior Taliban leader was killed in an airstrike in eastern Nangarhar province of Afghanistan along with at least 15 other militants.

The Ministry of Defense (MoD) said the airstrike was carried out by the Afghan Air Force in Hesarak district.

MoD further added that Mawlavi Mumtaz Mia Khel the group’s shadow governor for Kabul was killed along with his 15 fighters in the raid.

Another senior Taliban commander identified as Mullah Tor was also among those killed and a vehicle belonging to the group was confiscated by the Afghan forces.

The anti-government armed militant groups including the Taliban militants have not commented regarding the report so far.

Nangarhar is among the relatively volatile provinces in eastern Afghanistan where anti-government armed militants are actively operating in a number of its districts and often carry out insurgency activities.

The airstrike in Hesarak comes as the Taliban militants launched a coordinated attack on several security out posts in this district few days earlier.

The officials had warned that the district is the brink of collapse if additional forces are not deployed to repulse the Taliban attack.

khaama.com/talibans-shadow-governor-for-kabul-killed-in-airstrike-01399

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Afghan air force has ‘come long way’

Sat Jul 02 2016

Afghan airmen are giving their country’s government security forces a “lift” in the fight against militants in more ways than one.

The Afghan air force is conducting flying missions daily – sometimes with U.S. Airmen from the 438th Air Expeditionary Wing, Train, Advise, Assist Command – Air (TAAC-Air), and sometimes completely on their own with one of their four C- 130H aircraft.

The flying abilities of the AAF pilots are not surprising to their U.S. counterparts who work with them daily.

“I’m usually instructing from the right seat with an Afghan pilot in the left seat,” said Capt. John Menezes, 538th Air Expeditionary Advisory Squadron C-130 instructor pilot. “A lot of the AAF C-130 pilots are experienced pilots. They’re familiar with airplanes and have flown between five and eight other airframes.”

Menezes said most of his instructing with his Afghan counterparts is on instrument flying and C-130 specific items. The AAF flies two types of missions. They have training or proficiency missions and then missions where they are transporting passengers and cargo.

The AAF is fully capable of flying C-130 missions independently, said Col. Thomas Geiser, TAAC-Air deputy commander.

“If you look back a year ago, the AAF has come a long way,” said Geiser. “They didn’t have enough qualified crews, and relied on advisor support to conduct operational lift and training missions. Now, they have three fully qualified crews with their own instructors and evaluators.

“We are very proud of the AAF C-130 crews and their development, as they are demonstrating increasing independence in executing their own missions, training and upgrades.”

Geiser said between June 2015 and May 2016, the AAF C-130s have flown more than 25,000 passengers and nearly 1 million pounds of cargo.

A June 26, 2016, mission saw Menezes in the left seat because his Afghan counterpart is in upgrade training to be an instructor pilot. Since he will be instructing from the right seat, the AAF pilot takes every opportunity available to practice for his training role.

This particular mission was a transportation “down and back” to Camp Shorabak.

Shorabak, formerly Camp Bastion containing Camp Leatherneck, saw a huge coalition presence at its peak. According to a Sept. 12, 2012, Telegraph story, Camp Bastion had 600 flights per day with almost 28,000 troops and civilians working on the base.

On the Sunday of this mission, a single C-208 was on the ramp and took off as the C-130 was taxiing after landing. The C-130 took over as the sole aircraft on the field. The previously giant metropolis resembled a ghost town…or city.

Shortly after arrival, Afghan National Army Ford Rangers, ambulances and small busses showed up. The almost 50 passengers transported from Hamid Karzai International Airport deplaned, and about 50 new passengers boarded for the trip back to Kabul.

Two of the passengers were deceased Afghan fighters. The ANA held a somber Dignified Transfer planeside. Afghan military members made line formations on each side of the ambulance. They saluted as the flag-draped wooden caskets were marched

ceremoniously onto the aircraft. The group closed with a prayer.

At one point as the C-130 was preparing to leave Shorabak, some hopeful passengers were turned away by the AAF because the plane was full. Although the situation appeared tense, the Afghan pilot quickly calmed the crowd and the mission was ready for departure.

The group returned to HKIA and the aircraft was unloaded by ANSF. The passengers in the rear of the aircraft could not have known if the mission was flown by Menezes or the Afghan pilot. Their flying feels similar, and both are skilled pilots.

khaama.com/afghan-air-force-has-come-long-way-01398

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Mideast

Israel blocks Gaza’s Palestinians from praying at Al-Aqsa Mosque

July 3, 2016

The Israeli occupation authorities have blocked Palestinians in Gaza from travelling to Jerusalem in order to spend one of the highlights of the month of Ramadan, the 27th night, in Al-Aqsa Mosque, Anadolu reported on Friday.

According to the Palestinian Authority’s Information Ministry, officials made a great deal of effort to get Israeli permission for people from Gaza to travel. The Israelis, said Media Director Mohamed Maqadmeh, simply refused to let it happen, although they did allow 300 elderly Palestinians to leave the beleaguered Gaza Strip to perform the Friday prayer at Al-Aqsa Mosque on condition that they were back in the territory before dark.

Muslims spend the odd-numbered nights within the last 10 days of Ramadan praying and supplicating to God in the hope of reaping the spiritual benefits of Lailatul Qadr, one of the most special nights of the whole Islamic calendar.

Despite the restrictions placed on Palestinians travelling to and visiting the Noble Sanctuary of Al-Aqsa in Jerusalem, agencies have reported that more than 400,000 worshippers from other parts of Palestine were able overcome the difficulties in order to perform their prayers in the mosque on Friday night.

https://middleeastmonitor.com/20160702-israel-blocks-gazas-palestinians-from-praying-at-al-aqsa-mosque/

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Israeli army closes off and occupies Hebron as West Bank violence flares

July 3, 2016

Israeli troops locked down Hebron, the occupied West Bank's most populous city, and surrounding villages on Saturday after two Israelis were killed in nearby attacks.

Troops locked gates and set up barriers blocking access routes to villages in the area and closed all exit roads from the city except for the northern one through the town of Halhul towards Jerusalem, an AFP correspondent reported.

The army announced on Friday that it would close off the flashpoint city in the wake of a spate of violence in the past week. Two additional units from the elite Golani Brigade were sent to the city.

The measures were described by Isreali army spokesperson Peter Lerner as the "most substantial steps on the ground" since 2014, when Israeli forces carried out a huge search operation in the southern West Bank for three young hitchhikers abducted and later murdered by Palestinian militants.

Overnight on Saturday, Israel bombed four sites in the Gaza Strip, causing damage but no injuries after Palestinian militants fired a rocket that struck a building in southern Israel.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel will reduce the amount of tax funds transferred monthly to the Palestinian Authority as part of measures to be taken following the attacks.

"Netanyahu has ordered that the entire amount of support for terrorists and their families be deducted from the tax revenues that Israel transfers monthly to the Palestinian Authority," his office said.

Hisham Sharabati, an activist with the Popular Committee to Defend Hebron, told Middle East Eye that several villages east and south of Hebron had been besieged for days, affecting about 100,000 people.

“The main roads to the villages are closed. Banie Naa'em village is completely besieged. There was one exit that people could use but that was closed this afternoon by the army,” he said.

Sharabati said there were still ways to reach Hebron, but that the restrictions were already making life difficult for residents.

“There are 700,000 living in Hebron and it would be a catastrophe if it was closed. Those worst affected are those who need to reach hospitals, children and old people,” he said.

Sharabati said Israeli security forces were already conducting raids and arresting people, and some residents were fearful that they could be planning to take military action during next week’s festival of Eid.

“People are waiting to see what will happen. There is a lot of concern about what will happen next,” he said.

The developments came just hours after an Israeli man was killed in a drive-by shooting on Friday afternoon on a road leading to the Israeli settlement of Otniel, just south of Hebron.

Pictures of the aftermath showed an overturned car on the road, apparently having flipped over after shooting broke out.

One man was killed in the attack, Israeli news site Haaretz reported, while at least three others were wounded.

Israeli police did not immediately make public whether an assailant had been identified.

The incident came after a 63-year-old Palestinian man identified as Mohammed Mustafa al-Habash was killed and at least 40 others wereinjured on Friday during fierce clashes at the Qalandia checkpoint.

Habash died of exposure to tear gas, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry.

Fadi Asmar, a paramedic at the scene, told Middle East Eye that soldiers at the checkpoint prevented an ambulance from entering a terminal to help Habash. 

Instead, Asmar said, he walked into the terminal and brought Habash out to the ambulance. Habash died on the way to the hospital.

"Had he received medical treatment in time, he would have lived," Asmar said.

Ahmed Bitwai, director of the Ramallah hospital where Habash was taken, said he died from being "directly subjected" to tear gas.

The clashes broke out at the main checkpoint between the West Bank and northern Jerusalem after Israeli authorities prevented Palestinians under the age of 40 from crossing into Jerusalem to pray at al-Aqsa Mosque on the last Friday of the holy fasting month of Ramadan.

About an hour earlier, a Palestinian woman - related to the perpetrator of an attack a day earlier - was shot dead by Israeli police after allegedly attempting to stab a guard at a flashpoint West Bank holy site.

Israeli officials said no police were wounded in the stabbing attempt at the Hebron site, known to Muslims as the Ibrahimi Mosque and to Jews as the Cave of the Patriarchs.

"A female terrorist armed with a knife approached a border police post at one of the entrances to the Cave of the Patriarchs and suddenly drew a knife and tried to stab one of the policemen," a police statement said.

"He responded and shot the terrorist."

The woman, identified by Palestinian media as 27-year-old Sara Tarayra, was reported to have been pregnant.

Her 19-year-old family member Mohammed Tarayra on Thursday morning stabbed to death Hallel Ariel, a 13-year-old American-Israeli, in her home at the Jewish settlement of Kiryat Arba adjoining Hebron, before being shot dead by security guards.

The West Bank has seen the increase in attacks in recent days amid tensions flaring over access to the al-Aqsa Mosque compound in Jerusalem.

A site sacred to both Jews and Muslims, the compound is regularly closed to Muslims, with the exception of women and men over the age of 40 or 50, particularly during times of political strife. Non-Muslims, including Jews, are allowed to visit the site during set hours, but are barred from praying to avoid provocation.

During the last 10 days of Ramadan, there is a tacit ban on non-Muslim access to the site, but Islamic officials accused Israel earlier this week of breaking the ban, which added to tensions.

In an effort to relieve social pressures, Israeli authorities said on Tuesday that they were closing the compound to non-Muslim visitors.

middleeasteye.net/news/israeli-killed-drive-shooting-amid-flare-west-bank-violence-1443685610

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Erdoğan, Putin could meet late July or early August

July 3, 2016

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan could meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin in late July or early August, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said July 3, private broadcaster NTV has reported.

Çavuşoğlu had previously stated that the two leaders could meet in August in the Russian resort of Sochi.

The minister also said he invited his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, to the southern resort of Antalya.

The two ministers met in Sochi at the Black Sea Economic Cooperation meeting (BSEC) meeting on July 1 in the first face-to-face meeting in seven months after bilateral relations were badly hit when Turkey downed a Russian jet.

hurriyetdailynews.com/erdogan-putin-could-meet-late-july-or-early-august.aspx?pageID=238&nID=101171&NewsCatID=510

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One soldier killed in PKK attack in Turkey’s southeast

July 3, 2016

One soldier was killed late on July 2 in an outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) attack in the Beytüşşebap district of the southeastern province of Şırnak.

A group of PKK militants simultaneously attacked the district security directorate, gendarmerie command post and military lodgings with long-barreled weapons and rocket propelled grenades.

Non-commissioned officer İsmail Demir was wounded in the attack and later succumbed to his injuries at Beytüşşebap State Hospital.

Security forces conducted an operation in the region to apprehend the fleeing militants.

The district governor’s office announced on July 3 that it had declared a curfew starting from 1. a.m. until further notice to apprehend the militants.

Meanwhile, another soldier was wounded late on June 2 during clashes with PKK militants in the rural area of the Genç district of the eastern province of Bingöl.

One specialized sergeant was wounded when an armed clash erupted between security forces conducting a search and PKK militants.

The wounded soldier was immediately taken to Bingöl State Hospital in a helicopter and is reported to be in a stable condition.

hurriyetdailynews.com/one-soldier-killed-in-pkk-attack-in-turkeys-southeast.aspx?pageID=238&nID=101166&NewsCatID=341

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Syrians in Turkey could become citizens: Erdoğan

July 3, 2016

Millions of Syrians living in Turkey will have a chance to become Turkish citizens, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said on July 2.       

Speaking in the southern Turkish province of Kilis, which borders Syria and hosts more than 120,000 Syrians, Erdoğan said many of the Syrians now in Turkey want to become citizens of the Republic of Turkey.

“There are steps our Interior Ministry is taking on the issue,” he said.       

“We will give the chance to [acquire] citizenship by helping out these brothers and sisters by monitoring through offices set up by the ministry,” Erdoğan added.       

Around 2.7 million Syrians who have fled the civil war in their country are being sheltered at camps and in major cities across Turkey.  

Referring to the Syrian crisis, which turned violent in 2011 when regime leader Bashar al-Assad cracked down on peaceful protesters, Erdoğan said the Syrians had been “prevented from governing themselves.”       

“The organization called Daesh [Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant] is, in fact, a puppet put forward with this aim. The organization called the PYD [the Kurdish Democratic Union Party], and the YPG [the People’s Protection Unit] are subcontractors that were empowered for the same purpose,” he said.       

Erdoğan stressed that just as ISIL does not represent Muslims, “the PYD and YPG do not represent Kurds,” adding that they “are tools used for dirty designs in the region by those who hold their leashes.”

“Today we are defending the same principles that we defended six years ago. We are saying the same things,” Erdoğan said on the country’s attitude toward Syrians.    

Syria has remained locked in a vicious civil war since early 2011, when the Assad regime cracked down on pro-democracy protests with unexpected ferocity.       

Since then, more than 250,000 people have been killed and more than 10 million displaced, according to U.N. figures.       

The conflict in Syria has now driven more than 4 million people – a sixth of the country’s population – to seek sanctuary in neighboring countries, making it the largest refugee crisis for a quarter of a century, according to the U.N.

hurriyetdailynews.com/syrians-in-turkey-could-become-citizens-erdogan-.aspx?pageID=238&nID=101165&NewsCatID=338

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Russia’s investment relations with Turkey will be restored: Report

July 3, 2016

Russian Economic Development Minister Alexey Ulyukayev has said that trade and investment relations between Turkey and Russia will be restored, according to a TASS report.

“Trade and investment relations with Turkey will be restored,” he said in an interview with Gazeta.ru, as TASS has reported on July 1.

The minister also said that, in his opinion, before the end of this year relations between Russia and European countries would also change.

“The European sanctions are ultimate story I think there is a high degree of probability that a decision about on their serious modification will be made by the end of this year,” he said.

Earlier it was reported that Ulyukayev will meet with Minister of Economy of Turkey Nihat Zeybekci as part of the meeting of trade ministers of Group of 20, which will be held in Shanghai (China).

On June 29, Russian President Vladimir Putin had a telephone conversation with his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

After the conversation, Putin instructed the government to enter into negotiations with Turkey to restore cooperation in trade, tourism and other areas.

hurriyetdailynews.com/russias-investment-relations-with-turkey-will-be-restored-report.aspx?pageID=238&nID=101175&NewsCatID=345

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Israel's Netanyahu seeks new allies in historic Africa trip

July 3, 2016

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu heads to Africa this week, where Israel has found much-needed partners in the battle against Islamic militants and allies in countering the rising Palestinian influence at the United Nations.

Netanyahu will also visit the site where his brother was killed in a 1976 military raid on a hijacked airliner in Uganda, a seminal event that helped cement his hard-line ideology.

Israel is hoping that the visit — the first by an Israeli premier to sub-Saharan Africa in three decades — will usher in a new era in which it provides African states with security and agricultural assistance in return for support in international forums.

Israel has a long history of involvement in Africa, sending experts in agriculture and development, as well as military advisers and mercenaries, over the years.

Netanyahu's visit caps a budding rapprochement in recent years initiated by Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman, who, as foreign minister a few years ago, toured the continent on two occasions after no Israeli foreign minister had visited in two decades.

In turn, dozens of African dignitaries have visited Israel in recent years, including Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta and Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. Dore Gold, a senior Israeli diplomat, traveled to South Africa in March, hoping to mend ties with a country that is strongly supportive of the Palestinian quest for statehood.

"Israel is coming back to Africa; Africa is coming back to Israel. It's happening in a big way," Netanyahu told African ambassadors at the launch February of the Israeli parliament's caucus for Israel-Africa relations. Netanyahu said last month he will seek government approval for a $13 million plan to strengthen economic ties and cooperation with African countries.

Israel played a prominent role in assisting newly independent African countries in the 1960s, but those relations crumbled in the 1970s, when Arab countries, promising aid, pressured African nations to limit or cut ties with Israel. African states were also opposed to Israel's close ties to South Africa's apartheid government.

With the rise of jihadism across the continent, from Boko Haram in Nigeria to al-Qaida-linked al-Shabab militants in Somalia, Israel has found common ground with countries like Kenya, Uganda and Nigeria.

"Any victory of radical Islam in any part of Africa immediately impacts us," said Avi Granot, the former head of the Israeli Foreign Ministry's Africa division. "The more defeats (militants) face, whether it is in Nigeria, Cameroon, Somalia or Chad, then it's a victory also for the Middle East."

While Israeli military exports to Africa are limited, it provides several countries with security training and assistance. Granot cited Israel's deployment of a team of security experts following the 2013 al-Shabab attack on a Nairobi mall. He said Israel, with its vast experience fighting militants, could continue to offer training on terror prevention.

Israeli defense officials say intelligence sharing is limited to a few close allies for now. Israel has military ties with several African countries, and Israel's Defense Ministry has given clearance for private Israeli security firms to operate in some nations, including some arms sales.

In exchange for its expertise in security and other fields, Israel wants African states to side with it at the U.N., where the General Assembly overwhelmingly recognized Palestine as a nonmember observer state in 2012. The Palestinians have used their upgraded status to launch a diplomatic offensive against Israel and its occupation of lands where the Palestinians hope to establish a future state.

"We're talking about some 45 countries in sub-Saharan Africa who vote in one bloc at the U.N.," said Arye Oded, a former Israeli diplomat and expert on Africa. "Netanyahu wants to improve relations with these countries ... and wants more countries to not vote against us at the U.N."

Granot said African countries may be responsive to supporting Israel because the Palestinian cause is "tangential" to them. One example of that came during Kenyatta's trip, when he angered the Palestinians by visiting a Jewish settlement in the West Bank. The Palestinians and virtually the entire international community view the settlements as illegal or illegitimate.

Yoram Elron, the head of the Israeli foreign ministry's Africa division, said an increasing number of African countries "understand that Israel is being singled out in the international fora."

Jamal Dajani, the Palestinian government spokesman, said he believed African states would see through Netanyahu's "propaganda" because Africans and the Palestinians share a history of "occupations and colonialism."

Netanyahu departs Monday, and will spend a total of four days in the east African nations of Uganda, Kenya, Rwanda and Ethiopia.

In Uganda, a ceremony is planned to mark the 40th anniversary of the July 1976 operation that freed Israeli hostages from a hijacked plane at Entebbe. Netanyahu's brother Yonatan, the leader of the commando unit that led the raid, was shot dead as he was helping the Israeli hostages who had been held inside the airport's old terminal back onto the plane. His death made Yonatan an Israeli hero, and thrust Netanyahu toward public life.

"It changed his life 180 degrees," said Nahum Barnea, Israel's pre-eminent political columnist, adding that Netanyahu has also derived political capital from his brother's death.

"The images from the airport will make Israelis think that Yoni and Bibi are the same thing," he said, referring to the Netanyahu brothers by their nicknames. "The outcome will be (the impression that) Netanyahu is linked to victory. Netanyahu is linked to military success."

theolympian.com/news/nation-world/article87467457.html

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Pakistan

At UN, Pakistan demands immediate cessation of illegal drone strikes

July 3, 2016

UNITED NATIONS: Pakistan on Saturday demanded an immediate cessation of drone strikes in its territory at United Nation terming it a violation of "territorial integrity and sovereignty of states".

Pakistan's Permanent Representative to United Nations (UN) Dr Maleeha Lodhi told the UN General Assembly that the extraterritorial use of armed drones or remotely-piloted aircraft is a violation of international and humanitarian laws.

Dr Lodhi highlighted recognition by member states of the notion that counter-terrorism measures violating territorial integrity and sovereignty of states can be counterproductive and also fuel violent extremism.

Last month, Pakistan urged the UN Human Rights Council to respond to loss of lives, human rights violations and breach of its territorial sovereignty because of drone attacks.

Speaking at a meeting of the council in Geneva, Pakistan’s permanent representative Tehmina Janjua had pointed out that the drone strikes were also a violation of the UN charter and international law, including human rights and humanitarian law.

Janjua had asked the international community and the HR Council to take notice of human rights violations taking place as a result of illegal drone strikes in the country.

dawn.com/news/1268651/at-un-pakistan-demands-immediate-cessation-of-illegal-drone-strikes

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Gilgit-Baltistan govt. boycotts Shandur festival due to territorial dispute

July 3, 2016

Gilgit (Pakistan) : The Gilgit-Baltistan government has decided to boycott the three-day Shandur polo festival over lingering territorial dispute and failing to reach consensus over jointly organizing the event with the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government.

They have instead decided to organise separately a three-day Shandur polo festival.

The festival is scheduled to start from July 22 on the world’s highest polo ground, Shandur, located at 12,000 feet above the sea level.

The Gilgit-Baltistan government had also boycotted the event last year and in 2011 as it accused the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government of monopolising the sport.

Though a meeting was held in Islamabad between GB and KP representatives to work out an amicable solution to organise the festival, the dialogue ended without consensus.

Meanwhile, lawmaker Fida Khan responding to a question regarding GB’s right over Shandur territory said that Shandur was a part of Gilgit-Baltistan, but KP administration had illegally and unconstitutionally occupied it.

“KP administration is deliberately escalating tension by illegally occupying the territory,” Dawn quoted him as saying.

Khan added both sides would suffer if the tension continued.

He further said that the Gilgit-Baltistan government had given the territory to Chitral people for cattle grazing on a temporary basis.

He demanded amicable solution from the federal government on the matter.

siasat.com/news/gilgit-baltistan-govt-boycotts-shandur-festival-due-territorial-dispute-981746/

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Protesters demand compensation for Soran Singh’s family

July 3, 2016

PESHAWAR: Members of religious minority communities on Saturday demonstrated against the delay in release of a compensation package announced by the provincial government for the family of slain Sardar Soran Singh, who was adviser to chief minister on minority affairs.

The protesters warned to agitate after Eidul Fitr if the demands were not met soon.

The demonstration was held on the Sher Shah Suri road with the protesters holding banners and placards inscribed with slogans in favour of their demands.

They asked the government to ensure protection to non-Muslims and immediately release the package to late Sardar Suran Singh’s family as per its announcement.

On the occasion, All Pakistan Hindu Rights Movement Chairman Haroon Sarbdiyal said the provincial government had announced package for the slain lawmaker, but it was not yet provided to the aggrieved family.

The PTI government, he said had ignored the family of the minority leader. He demanded of Chief Minister Parvez Khattak to ensure provision of compensation payment to the bereaved family.

Similarly, he said the packages announced by late Soran Singh for various Gurdwaras, temples and churches should immediately be delivered.

The vacant seat of Soran Singh, he said should be filled immediately from the minority wing and the elected person should be appointed as the CM’s adviser or coordinator.

Haroon Sarbdiyal also demanded of the PTI government to provide protection to minorities, especially to Soran Singh’s family.

dawn.com/news/1268768/protesters-demand-compensation-for-soran-singhs-family

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Ibad concedes recent rise in street crimes in Karachi

July 3, 2016

KARACHI: Sindh Governor Dr Ishratul Ibad Khan meets people at a market during his late night visit to different commercial areas of the city to review security arrangements amid shopping spree ahead of Eid celebrations.

Sindh Governor Dr Ishratul Ibad Khan meets people at a market during his late night visit to different commercial areas of the city to review security arrangements amid shopping spree ahead of Eid celebrations.

KARACHI: Sindh Governor Dr Ishratul Ibad on Saturday conceded that the incidents of street crimes had jumped up recently in Karachi as the issue might have been ‘overlooked’ by law-enforcement agencies busy in fighting ‘major’ issues, like restoration of peace and arrest of militants and hitmen.

However, he claimed that the adequate security arrangements had been made for shoppers in city markets to ensure that people could do their Eid shopping with utmost peace of mind and without any fear.

While speaking to reporters during his visit to different commercial areas and markets of the city, the Sindh governor accompanied by Sindh Home Minister Suhail Anwar Siyal also appreciated the role of people of Karachi who were cooperating with the law-enforcement agencies.

“No one should have any doubt over the performance of our agencies,” he said while responding to a query. “They have done a wonderful job to restore peace, but you are right to some extent that while handling major issues, the minor one could have been overlooked which led to increase in street crimes. But I believe and can assure you in the presence of our home minister that our law-enforcement agencies would definitely take it up.”

He said that the purpose of his visit was to see security arrangements himself at various places and ask consumers about the same and any other problem being faced by them. Due to strenuous and untiring efforts of personnel of law enforcement agencies, the security situation had improved considerably and the crowd in markets was reflection of that success, he added.

“The development is the priority after improvement in law and order situation,” he said. “You already know that the work on north bound track of Lyari Expressway which has been restarted after a gap of eight years is progressing well while the most vital K-4 project has also been started.”

The Sindh governor visited Tariq Road, Hyderi, Nazimabad, Saddar and Clifton and also met shoppers and traders and asked them about security and other arrangements.

In Hyderi, North Nazimabad representatives of the Bohri community complained of power failure in their area for three days. The power supply restored only after the Sindh governor intervened and contacted the K-Electric management with the same complaint.

dawn.com/news/1268672/ibad-concedes-recent-rise-in-street-crimes-in-karachi

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Dar asks Imran to apologise to Maryam

July 3, 2016

ISLAMABAD: Finance Minister Ishaq Dar has asked Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) chairman Imran Khan to apologise to the prime minister’s daughter, Maryam Nawaz, for wrongly blaming her for an incident in Lahore in which police misbehaved with one of Mr Khan’s sisters.

In a statement issued on Saturday, Mr Dar said that after coming to know about the facts of the incident Mr Khan should apologise to Maryam Nawaz, in line with the moral values expected of a national leader.

The minister claimed the PTI chief was in the habit of reacting to “hearsay and rumours without verifying facts” of the cases involved.

“Being the head of a political party, Imran Khan should adopt responsible behaviour,” said Mr Dar, who has been looking after affairs of the government in the absence of the prime minister.

In an apparent reference to Faryal Talpur, the sister of former president Asif Ali Zardari, the finance minister wondered whether the PTI chairman would have considered parting ways with his new ally, the PPP, had Ms Talpur’s vehicle been involved in the incident.

“Would he [Mr Khan] have announced the launch of a campaign against the PPP, just as he has announced the launch of one against the PML-N government?”

For his part, a PTI spokesman responded to Mr Dar’s comments about the incident by declaring that Mr Khan would never apologise to the premier’s daughter.

Naeemul Haq said the real issue at hand was not Maryam Nawaz but the attitude of police towards common people.

Instead of seeking an apology from Mr Khan, he said, the members of the Sharif family should apologise to the nation for “hiding the truth about their assets and wealth”.

dawn.com/news/1268802/dar-asks-imran-to-apologise-to-maryam

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Iran frees 20 Pakistani fishermen

July 3, 2016

GWADAR: The Iranian authorities released on Saturday 20 Pakistani fishermen who had been taken into custody by the coastguards along with their boats last week.

“The fishermen have reached home,” relatives told Dawn. “They were arrested by the Iranian coastguards while fishing in the Arabian Sea near Jiwani.”

The Iranian authorities handed over the fishermen to Levies Force at the Taftan border crossing. But their boats are still in the custody of Iranian coastalguards.

“Our five boats have not been returned by the Iranian authorities,” said Khuda Bakhsh, one of the fishermen who reached here after being released.

Sources said that Iranian coastguards had also taken another group of fishermen into custody along with their two boats. There has been no information about those fishermen so far.

dawn.com/news/1268804/iran-frees-20-pakistani-fishermen

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PPP warns govt against campaigning for Kalabagh dam

July 3, 2016

ISLAMABAD: The main opposition Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) has expressed its concern over what it called re-launching of the campaign in support of the construction of the controversial Kalabagh dam by the PML-N government, warning that the move could bring disastrous consequences for the federation.

Talking to Dawn here on Saturday, PPP’s Parliamentary Leader in the Senate Saeed Ghani alleged that the government was intentionally touching the controversial matters in an effort to divert the attention of the nation from the real issues, including the Panama Papers scandal.

The PPP senator alleged that the present Wapda chairman had been writing columns in newspapers in support of the dam perhaps after getting a green signal from the rulers.

Mr Ghani recalled that the provincial assemblies of Sindh, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan had adopted resolutions against the construction of the proposed Kalabagh dam on a number of occasions.

“Is he [Wapda chairman] a representative of those having a particular thinking on the issue or a representative of the whole country?” he asked.

Mr Ghani asked the federal government to take action against the Wapda chairman, saying “a government employee should not be allowed to reject the resolutions passed by three provinces”.

When contacted, PML-N Chairman Raja Zafarul Haq rejected the allegation that the government was intentionally raising the sensitive matters to divert the attention of the people from the real issues.

“The Kalabagh dam issue has nothing to do with the leaked Panama Papers,” he said.

Mr Haq said the PML-N had a principled stance on the issue that the dam could not be and should not be built without a national consensus.

When asked about the Wapda chairman’s act of writing columns, Mr Haq said that people and experts in the field of energy and water were writing on their own in support of the dam. He said there were many people in the country who believed that had the Kalabagh dam been constructed, the country would not have been facing the present energy crisis.

Meanwhile, five PPP MNAs on Saturday submitted an adjournment motion to the National Assembly secretariat regarding the recent alleged statements and columns written by the Wapda chairman in support of the construction of the controversial dam.

“Three provincial assemblies have already passed resolutions against the construction of the Kalabagh dam. Publication of such statements/articles by the Wapda chairman will open a Pandora’s box,” says the motion, adding that “the Wapda chairman’s attempt is not only beyond his mandate but it is also leaving an adverse impact and challenging the unity of the federation”.

The motion has been submitted by former water and power minister Naveed Qamar, Shazia Mari, Nafisa Shah, Ijaz Jakhrani and Syed Ghulam Mustafa Shah.

Talking to Dawn, Naveed Qamar said that the Wapda chairman being a government functionary was required to take a neutral position on the issues, particularly on the controversial matters.

“He [the Wapda chairman] can’t take the position of a political party,” he added.

Saeed Ghani had also raised the matter of the Wapda chairman’s act of writing columns in newspapers.

Another PML-N senator, Ghaus Mohammad Niazi, had defended the Wapda chairman for writing columns and endorsed Mr Majeed’s viewpoint of initiating a debate on the issue of the Kalabagh dam.

dawn.com/news/1268805/ppp-warns-govt-against-campaigning-for-kalabagh-dam

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Concern over border issues conveyed to US

July 3, 2016

Army Chief General Raheel Sharif talks to members of a US Congressional delegation during a meeting on Saturday. The US delegation was led by Senator John McCain, Chairman of the Senate Armed Forces Committee.

Army Chief General Raheel Sharif talks to members of a US Congressional delegation during a meeting on Saturday. The US delegation was led by Senator John McCain, Chairman of the Senate Armed Forces Committee.

ISLAMABAD: Despite lingering mutual mistrust, Pakistan and the United States on Saturday agreed to carry forward their bilateral engagement and cooperation for peace and reconciliation in Afghanistan.

The agreement was reached during a meeting between US Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan Ambassador Richard Olson with Foreign Secretary Aizaz Chaudhry — a second meeting in three weeks and since the bilateral relationship took a dip following a drone attack in Nushki in May that took out Afghan Taliban chief Mullah Akhtar Mansour and amid growing concerns in the US Congress that Pakistan is soft on the Haqqani network and the Taliban during its counterterrorism operations.

Meanwhile, Army Chief Gen Raheel Sharif, while countering the reservations in Congress during a meeting with a senior US bi-partisan Congressional delegation led by Senator John McCain, Chairman Senate Armed Services Committee, at the General Headquarters, counted the successes of military’s counterterrorism Operation Zarb-i-Azb in North Waziristan. Also, the army chief listed unregulated border and rocky ties with Afghanistan as major challenges for sustaining those achievements.

Olson and McCain hold talks with Aizaz, Raheel

“[The] COAS dilated upon security challenges faced by Pakistan and Pakistan’s contribution to regional stability and global peace. Pakistan’s successes in war on terror, [and] need for an effective border management across [the] long porous Pak-Afghan border to check illegal movement on either side of the border were also discussed,” a statement from ISPR said about the meeting.

The delegation, which included Senators Lindsey Graham and Joe Donnelly, is visiting Pakistan on an invitation by Gen Sharif.

During its stay in the country, the delegation would study the actions Pakistan has taken against terrorism and their impact on regional peace and security.

The delegation would also visit the operational area.

Concerns in the US Congress that Pakistan did not fully act against the Haqqani network and the Taliban during Operation Zarb-i-Azb had earlier prompted Senate Foreign Relations Committee to stop the use of Foreign Military Financing programme for partially funding the sale of 8 F-16s, which ultimately led to the cancellation of the deal.

The US defence secretary has, meanwhile, also been withholding a certification to the Congress that Pakistan has adequately acted against the Haqqani network and the Taliban. Deductions have, therefore, been made from the Coalition Support Fund reimbursements for Pakistan.

Ambassador Olson had at the Atlantic Council on June 21 repeated those concerns when he noted: “It doesn’t seem to us that Pakistan will have a bright future…unless and until it goes after the Afghan Taliban.”

Washington’s logic

The US opinion is that a strong action by Pakistan against the Taliban sanctuaries and supply lines on its territory would push the insurgent group to join the peace process.

Pakistan had been claiming that its security forces acted against all terrorist groups indiscriminately. But lately they have become more forthcoming by admitting that they cannot start a war on their own soil for Afghanistan by taking on the Haqqanis and the Afghan Taliban.

Adviser to the PM on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz said in an interview with Reuters the previous day: “There are risks involved of how far we can go and in what sequence we should go and in what scale we should go.”

Gen Sharif very candidly explained the situation as he described normal relations between Pakistan and Afghanistan as key for regional peace and security.

The Pak-Afghan relations, except for short periods of calm, have remained tense. Pakistan sees Indian involvement in Afghanistan as a major security threat for itself.

Gen Sharif had in one of the meetings with a US delegation last month also asked for Afghanistan to dismantle the sanctuaries of the banned Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan on its soil.

Pakistani officials have been hoping that the Congressional delegation’s visit would help address the misperceptions in the Congress about the operations.

Sartaj Aziz has said that he will in his meeting with the Congressional delegation counter the allegations that not enough has been done.

Although there was no word from Senator McCain’s office on the GHQ meeting as yet, Pakistani officials said the delegation was appreciative of Pakistani achievements and understood their constraints.

Mr Olson also separately met Gen Sharif.

The Foreign Office in a statement on Mr Olson’s meeting with Aizaz Chaudhry said: “Both sides agreed on continued constructive engagement between Pakistan and the United States in the areas of trade, investment, education, health and energy.”

Mr Chaudhry reiterated Pakistan’s commitment to the Quadrilateral Coordination Group as an effective forum to facilitate an Afghan-owned and Afghan-led reconciliation process, the statement said.

Mr Olson, the FO said, expressed appreciation for continued close cooperation between Pakistan and the United States on issues of mutual interest.

dawn.com/news/1268794/concern-over-border-issues-conveyed-to-us

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Three security personnel shot dead in Balochistan's Mastung district

July 3, 2016

QUETTA: Unidentified armed assailants shot dead three security officials in two separate incidents of violence in Balochistan's Mastung district on Saturday evening.

Two Levies personnel were killed when attackers opened fire at them in in Al Falah Road area of Mastung city. Levies Risaldar identified as Murtaza Lehri died on the spot while his colleague succumbed to injuries on his way to hospital.

In another incident, armed men opened fire and killed Head Constable Ashfaq Qazi in Killi Sheikhan area of Mastung.

The assailants escaped unhurt from the spot in both the incidents, while the dead bodies were shifted to Civil Hospital Mastung for postmortem.

Police described the killings in Mastung as acts of targeted killings.

Moreover, members of Balochistan National Party (Mengal) strongly condemned the incident and termed them as conspiracy to deteriorate the law and order situation in the area.

BNP leader Malik Naveed Dehwar said government has failed to protect masses. He demanded an immediate arrest of the culprits involved in the recent acts of targeted killings.

dawn.com/news/1268699/three-security-personnel-shot-dead-in-balochistans-mastung-district

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Terror charges: ATC sends Ahmadi boy on 10-day remand

July 3, 2016

HYDERABAD: An Anti-Terrorism Court (ATC) in Hyderabad sent an Ahmadi boy on 10-day remand in a case pertaining to planning an act of terrorism.

The teenager, Imran Asghar Gurgez, was arrested along with four of his family members on June 30 after police claimed to recover explosives from his house.

SHO Model police station Badin Mohammad Ibrahim Jatoi told Dawn that the police only produced the boy for remand, while four other suspects including the boy's father were still being interrogated.

"Police are on the lookout for two unidentified people named in the First Information Report (FIR)," added the officer.

Deputy Commissioner Badin Mohammad Rafique Quraishi categorically denied the impression that the family was being targeted because of their religious beliefs.

Quraishi claimed that on the directions of the high-ups, he looked into matter thoroughly and found no evidence of any wrongdoing on the basis of religion.

The boy, along with his family members, was arrested two days ago after police claimed that an ugly terror bid was foiled when a bomb pre-maturely exploded inside a house in Qaidabad locality of Badin city.

Following the blast, police raided the house and recovered explosives and also arrested five family members.

dawn.com/news/1268654/terror-charges-atc-sends-ahmadi-boy-on-10-day-remand

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Africa

Libyan fighters take battle with the Islamic State to the streets of Sirte

July 2, 2016

Libyan security forces on Friday took their battle with the Islamic State to the streets of the strategic coastal city of Sirte.

The pro-government forces who have been battling the Islamist militants for some two months now, received support from fighters from different parts of the country with many coming from the nearby port of Misrata and others from as far as the capital Tripoli.

Friday’s fierce fighting involved the use of rockets, mortars and guns with each side exchanging sniper rounds and mortar shells sometimes just 200 metres apart.

At least three pro-government fighters were killed and more than 30 others injured after Islamic State fighters were driven out of the residential 700 district said a senior commander and hospital officials.

Perched on rooftops, Libyan fighters aimed through breeze blocks at positions held by Islamic State fighters in the city of Sirte.

Force commanders said the remaining Islamic State fighters were in an area near Sirte’s Ouagadougou conference complex and a nearby hospital adding that snipers had slowed down their progress.

Misrata forces commanders also said they had hit a house where Islamic State commanders were hiding although it was not clear if there suffered any casualties and how long it would take to clear out the remaining militants.

Misrata forces support the UN-backed unity government which is expected to restore stability to the country which has been thrown into a state of chaos since the ouster of its long time leader Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.

The two-month campaign by the pro-government troops in Sirte is aimed at liberating the important coastal city which has been overrun by the Islamic state militants which took advantage of the fighting between rival factions to set up base there last year.

The pro-government forces have so far managed to recapture keys parts of Sirte including a power station, the harbour and some residential areas.

africanews.com/2016/07/02/libyan-fighters-take-battle-with-the-islamic-state-to-the-streets-of-sirte/

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Africa rallies for Palestine’s liberation on Al-Quds Day

July 2, 2016

Voices reverberated across Africa in solidarity for Palestine on the annual International Al-Quds Day. With one-third of the world’s Muslim population in Africa, hundreds of thousands on the continent added their voices to global efforts towards Palestine’s liberation.

Al-Quds Day, initiated in 1979 and held on the last Friday of every Ramadan, inspires a humanitarian unity against Israel’s oppression of Palestine, according to Achmad Cassiem, a former South African political prisoner.

“Africa does not localize an important demonstration of such nature, but we share in it, as the pain is one all of Africa can identify with,” he told Anadolu Agency.

Nigeria marches amid heavy security

Thousands partook in long processions across major northern Nigerian cities as the country's Shia led  Al-Quds Day in support of Palestinian freedom, shadowed by riot police deployed to prevent violence.

Despite the heavy security presence, fears of previous years’ tragedies did not slow the pace of the marchers. It was only two years ago that soldiers attacked the Al-Quds rally, resulting in 32 civilian deaths.

“We thank Almighty Allah that there was no incident of violence or faceoff with anybody. Hundreds of thousands took part in the processions in Sokoto, Katsina, Jos and of course in Zaria,” Ibrahim Musa, spokesman for the Islamic Movement of Nigeria, or the Shia, told Anadolu Agency shortly after the rally.

Musa said the event was a huge success even though local Shia leader Ibrahim El-Zakzaky has been in detention since last December, after an incident in which dozens of Shia members were allegedly killed by soldiers.

Senior IMN member Haruna El-Binawy said that the rally highlighted the suffering of Palestinians and the need for the world to insist on justice for all the oppressed.

“The rallies also call for the release of Sheikh Ibraheem Zakzaky and all those held captive by the Nigerian regime. The third and final message of the rallies is that the IMN showed solidarity with all the oppressed in the world, especially the Nigerian oppressed who have been plunged into more misery and abject poverty due the self-centered and anti-poor economic policies of the Buhari administration,” said El-Binawy.

Ghana pushes for Palestine’s victory

Palestinian and Iranian ambassadors attended Ghana’s stern call for Palestine’s freedom to be achieved within a year. Organizers and speakers at the annual event conveyed solidarity messages in the capital city of Accra.

"We must vow here that when we return next year, we will be celebrating victory," said Edmund Delle, national chairman of the Convention People's Party. "If one country is not free, then we're all not free. I declare a total fight for the liberation of Palestine.”

Attending the event were over 100 different representatives from political parties, Islamic sects, the Rastafarian Council, as well as several learners, including the Students Unions president.

The Palestinian ambassador to Ghana, Abdalfatah Al Sattari, decried how the Israeli state "aggressively oppressed the region through its militancy." For Al Sattari, Israel will be defeated in Palestine similar to what happened in the Sinai region in the 1970s.

Addressing the symposium, Iran’s Ambassador to Ghana Mohammad prayed that one day Palestinians will celebrate republican status like Ghana does on July 1.

Kwesi Pratt Jnr, a member of the Socialists Forum of Ghana, expressed disappointment that Ghanaians treated former Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman like a VIP during his last visit to the country.

The Zionist movement, he said, is very much present in Ghana's schools and churches, adding that they have "managed to distort the Palestinian struggle."

South Africa’s long walk to Palestine’s freedom continues

The crowd cheered as the Israeli flag flickered in flames in front of Cape Town’s parliament, while Johannesburg’s streets were covered in pickets and slogan chants calling for Palestine’s liberation.

“Across racial and religious divides we will never forget the cause for freedom and never support anyone who considers Israel a friend,” Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions representative Braam Hanekom told Cape Town’s gathered masses.

Marching from the historic oppressed area of District 6 to Cape Town’s parliament, the Islamic Unity Convention delivered a memorandum to South Africa’s international relations officer Seraki Matsebe demanding that the government strengthen its opposition to Israel, enhance its support for Palestine, and grant educational and employment opportunities to Palestine refugees in the country.

Reverend Jane Major called for women to be strong in the cause as a flotilla to Gaza will be assembled by female activists across the globe.

“They can try to kill us, but the biggest mosque and church is in our hearts,” she told the crowd.

The country holds deep connections with Palestine as the late Nelson Mandela was well known for his stance, having famously said, “We know too well that our freedom is incomplete without the freedom of the Palestinians.”

 Kenyans rally

Rallies mobilized by Muslims marked International Al-Quds Day in Kenya’s major towns of Nairobi, Mombasa, Nakuru, and Kisumu.

In the capital Nairobi, over 100 Muslims gathered at Parkroad Mosque to observe the annual event, with a recitation of the Holy Quran followed by speeches from top Muslim clerics and officials.

Sheikh Mohmoud Salim, one of the speakers from the congregations of imams of Nairobi, spoke on the importance of unity within the Muslim community.

The event was organized by the Embassy of the Islamic Republic of Iran in conjunction with the Mahdi Muslim Community.

worldbulletin.net/world/174513/africa-rallies-for-palestines-liberation-on-al-quds-day

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Youth Association demonstrates muslim love

July 2, 2016

A youth Association “Djazair Al Kheir” in Algiers is providing free food to people as Muslims observe the Ramadan fast.

With charity being a strong recommendation of the Koran, cooks at the “Djazair Al Kheir” Association have been sharing a variety of dishes with the homeless, migrants and refugees

“This year we are preparing 600 meals per day, 300 dishes are reserved for African Migrants, 100 for the

3 restaurants of the Association in Algiers. For instance those from Africa have the right to a special menu, “Daoud, a volunteer cook with the “Djazair El Kheir” Association said.

Long queues in front of the Association’s restaurant has become a norm this year, just as in previous years.

The youth Association has about 200 outlets across Algeria catering to the needy who live close to their establishments.

“I encourage this. It is a very good thing. We prefer eating here rather than paying for meals It is like our home which we really appreciate,” a Guinean migrant said.

Members of the Association regularly distribute fruits, water and meals to those in the hinterlands who cannot make it to the restaurant.

“The aim of our work is to see the smile on the faces of the downtrodden and those who face difficulties in feeding their families,” Mahmoud Rabi, president of the Association said.

The various social restaurants run by the group depend on donations from benefactors and companies.

africanews.com/2016/07/02/algeria-youth-association-demonstrates-muslim-love/

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Europe

Second Wind? Daesh Ditching Syria, Iraq for Better Luck in Europe

July 2, 2016

Daesh has suffered a series of defeats in Syria and Iraq, but it does not mean that the problem of terrorism has been solved, the newspaper wrote.

On the contrary, the threat of attacks is growing.

"We fear externalization, transfer of IS [Daesh] activities to Europe," German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere said earlier.

The terrorist attacks in Paris and Brussels give enough reasons for concerns. The Istanbul massacre also raises a lot of questions.

"So far it remains unknown who committed the massacre at Istanbul's Ataturk Airport. No one has claimed responsibility. But the attack in the Turkish capital resembles the handwriting of the terrorist organization Islamic State [Daesh]," the newspaper wrote.

On Tuesday evening, three suicide blasts rocked the international terminal of Istanbul's Ataturk international airport killing over 40 people. Initial indications suggest that Daesh is responsible for the terrorist attack, though the investigation is still underway.

"[The choice] of the scene corresponds to the current tactics of the IS. The attack on the third largest airport on the continent, which millions of Europeans know as a transit node, causes fear far beyond the borders of Turkey, and thus attracts even more attention," the newspaper wrote.

Earlier, German media reported that Germany is one of the main targets of Daesh terrorists. The attacks in Paris and Brussels have demonstrated that the terrorists are capable of conducting complex operations and have high-level planning skills, Frankfurter Rundschau wrote.

"The so-called Islamic State has been weakened in Syria and Iraq," Holger Münch, president of the Federal Criminal Police (BKA) said, cited by the newspaper. "The terror group is thus under pressure and needs spectacular actions to attract attention and demonstrate power," he added.

According to another German newspaper, Die Welt, German authorities have already managed to prevent several terrorist attacks in the country. In particular, the newspaper refers to the arrest of three terror suspects who have planned an attack in the city center of Düsseldorf.

The newspaper noted that German security authorities are on guard. However, it doesn't mean there are no reasons for worries.

"Just because a major terrorist attack in German was successfully prevented once, doesn't mean there is a reason to relax. On the contrary, the fact that IS sends its fighters disguised as refugees from Syria with a terrorist mission, shows that Germany is being specifically targeted by the Islamist militia," Die Welt noted.

sputniknews.com/europe/20160702/1042334364/second-wind-daesh-europe.html

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Appealing to Its Base, ISIS Tempers Its Violence in Muslim Countries

July 2, 2016

The first to be killed was a jogger, gunned down last September during his daily run in the leafy diplomatic quarter of Bangladesh’s capital, Dhaka. He was identified as a 50-year-old Italian aid worker, and the police say the men who murdered him had been given instructions to kill a white foreigner at random.

In October, a Japanese man was killed. In November, gunmen riding a motorcycle pulled alongside a Catholic priest in northern Bangladesh and opened fire, wounding him.

For the Islamic State terrorist group, which broadly advised operatives it sent to Europe to kill “anyone and everyone,” the group’s tactics in Bangladesh have seemed more controlled. In the past nine months, it has claimed 19 attacks in the South Asian country, nearly all of them targeted assassinations singling out religious minorities and foreigners. They included hacking to death a Hindu man, stabbing to death a Shiite preacher, murdering a Muslim villager who had been accused of converting to Christianity and sending suicide bombers into Shiite mosques.

For years, the Islamic State, also known as ISIS and ISIL, has pursued a campaign of wholesale slaughter in Syria and Iraq. And in the attacks the group has directed or indirectly inspired in Western countries — including the coordinated killings in Paris and Brussels and the mass shooting inside an Orlando, Fla., nightclub — the assailants killed at random.

But a closer look at the attack the Islamic State has claimed in Bangladesh — and at the fact that it has not claimed bombings attributed to it in Turkey, including the airport attack this past week — suggests a group that is tailoring its approach for different regions and for different target audiences.

“For I.S. to maintain support among its followers and prospects, it must take different considerations into account when planning an attack in a Muslim country versus non-Muslim countries,” argues Rita Katz, the director of the SITE Intelligence Group, which has tracked the group’s attacks in Bangladesh. “I.S. encourages the killing of random civilians in France, Belgium, America or other Western nations, but in a country like Turkey, I.S. must be sure that it isn’t killing Muslims — or at least make it look like it’s trying not to,” she wrote in an analysis recently published online.

The issue of killing Sunni civilians has been a main point of contention with Al Qaeda after the Islamic State broke away from the terror network several years ago. And it surfaced again in the past week.

After the triple suicide bombing at the Istanbul airport on Tuesday, a Qaeda official used Twitter to issue a stinging rebuke of the attack blamed on ISIS. “The Turkish people are Muslims, & their blood is sacred. A true mujahid would give his life up for them, not massacre them #IstanbulAttack,” wrote Abu Sulayman al-Muhajir, who has been described as an Australian member of Al Qaeda’s branch in Syria, according to a transcript provided by SITE.

The Islamic State’s uncharacteristic silence about the attacks in Turkey, when it tends to quickly claim bombings elsewhere, reflects the balancing act the terror group must undertake when carrying out violence in predominantly Muslim nations, analysts say.

Ms. Katz said the Islamic State “has shown comparable discretion when conducting attacks in other Muslim countries, focusing on government targets, perceived religious deviants and enemy factions, as opposed to random civilians.”

For example, when the terror group last month claimed its first bombing in Jordan, it made sure to identify its target as an American-Jordanian military base. In May, the Islamic State carried out a bombing on a Shiite mosque in Sunni-dominated Saudi Arabia. And in January, when it struck in Jakarta, Indonesia, the group took pains to frame the attack as one against tourists, not locals, Ms. Katz wrote.

That kind of hedging is more typical of Al Qaeda, which has called on its fighters to avoid operations that would cause mass casualties among Muslim civilians.

In reality, though, Al Qaeda, like ISIS, continues to kill large numbers of Muslims in its attacks. But that has not stopped the two groups from arguing about it.

The disagreement dates back to at least 2005, when the then-No. 2 of Al Qaeda, Ayman al-Zawahri, wrote a letter of complaint to the head of the group’s affiliate in Iraq, chastising him for repeated attacks on Shiite shrines, which the Qaeda leadership feared would turn the population against them. The recipient of that letter was Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, who carried out the strikes anyway. His jihadist branch, Al Qaeda in Iraq, would years later re-emerge as the Islamic State.

In the years since the letter to Mr. Zarqawi, Al Qaeda went further. In one speech, Mr. Zawahri advised Qaeda fighters across the world to avoid killing religious minorities, including Christians, and to design operations that minimized Muslim casualties.

In 2013, when Al Qaeda loyalists stormed a BP-operated gas plant in southern Algeria, they separated their hostages by faith, releasing hundreds of Muslim workers while holding and killing the plant’s Western employees, a fact they touted in an after-action report sent to a senior Qaeda leader.

These tactics were far from perfect: Muslims still died in the Algeria attack, and in numerous others by Al Qaeda, including in their siege that same year at a mall in Kenya, where they asked shoppers to recite Quranic scripture in an effort to separate Muslims from non-Muslims.

“It’s a very stark difference in approach,” says Thomas Joscelyn, a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies who studies jihadist groups. “Al Qaeda wants Muslims to believe that its terrorism is morally justifiable, whereas the Islamic State argues that only its followers have moral legitimacy.”

In the most recent attack attributed to the Islamic State, on the Holey Artisan Bakery in Bangladesh’s diplomatic quarter, the attackers were more selective about their target than the Islamic State tends to be.

The bakery is in what expatriates affectionately call the “Tri-State” area of Dhaka, referring to the intersection of three exclusive neighborhoods — Gulshan I, Baridhara and Banani — that are popular with foreigners, said Lori Ann Walsh Imdad, a 45-year-old United States citizen who lives a block and a half from the scene of Friday’s standoff. “When you walked by, you would always see someone you recognized,” she said, adding that it was founded to provide expatriates with the comfort foods they missed, including American-style bagels and cream cheese.

On Saturday, the Islamic State released images of the attackers, describing them as having “charged into the middle of the gathering of nationals from Crusader nations in Bangladesh.” While the casualty breakdown is not yet known and it is unclear how many Muslims were killed in the attack, the group’s description suggested it was eager to pass off the slaughter as aimed exclusively at non-Muslims.

Accounts from witnesses said that some of the attackers sought to calm their hostages, calling for Bengalis to come out from hiding and explaining they were only seeking foreigners to kill. Hours later, the gunmen released a group of women who wore hijabs.

Though ISIS may have been trying to signal restraint with its attacks in Bangladesh, their tactics are still less targeted than those of Al Qaeda, said Amarnath Amarasingham, a fellow at the George Washington University Program on Extremism.

Al Qaeda’s branch in the Indian subcontinent has focused on killing those they claim have insulted Islam, including secular bloggers.

For his research, Mr. Amarasingham interviewed a man he said was a member of Al Qaeda’s branch in the region who derisively compared the group’s handiwork to that of ISIS. “AQ is targeting the best from the best. but isis guys killing in jungle, in village, innocent hindu old guy etc, just to increase the number of claim,” read one private message from the Qaeda member that was shared by Mr. Amarasingham.

nytimes.com/2016/07/03/world/middleeast/isis-muslim-countries-bangladesh.html?_r=0

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U.K. Chief Rabbi Deplores Jeremy Corbyn's 'Offensive' Remarks on Israel, Radical Islamic Groups

July 2, 2016

United Kingdom Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis on Friday accused Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn of making "offensive" comments at the release of a report compiled by a party investigation into anti-Semitism, the BBC reported.

Rather than rebuilding trust with the U.K.'s Jewish community, Corbyn caused "greater concern," Mirvis was reported as saying.

The rabbi's comments followed a statement by Corbyn that Jews were "no more responsible" for Israel's actions than Muslims were for "those of various self-styled Islamic states.

Corbyn later denied that he had compared Israel to the so-called Islamic State, saying 'the point in the report is that you shouldn't say to somebody just because they're Jewish, you must have an opinion on Israel. Any more than you say to anyone who is a Muslim you must have an opinion on any vile action that's been taken by misquoting the good name of Islam."

Despite Corbyn's disavowal, former Chief Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks also added his voice to the criticism of the Labour leader, saying that his comments were "demonization of the highest order, an outrage and unacceptable."

The comments showed "how deep the sickness is in parts of the left of British politics today", Sacks said in a statement.

He said the Islamic State was "a terrorist entity whose barbarities have been condemned by all those who value our common humanity. In the current political climate, when hate crimes are rising and political rhetoric is increasingly divisive, this is all the more shocking."

The report on anti-Semitism in the Labour Party concluded that the party was not overrun by anti-Semitism or other forms of racism but there was an "occasionally toxic atmosphere".

There was "too much clear evidence... of ignorant attitudes," said Shami Chakrabarti, the chairwoman of the inquiry

.

haaretz.com/world-news/europe/1.728498

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German Agency Says Islamic State Operatives Came to Country Disguised as Refugees

July 2, 2016

BERLIN—Seventeen operatives of Islamic State have entered Germany disguised as refugees, according to evidence collected by the country’s domestic intelligence agency.

Most of the group are in prison or dead, Hans-Georg Maassen, the head of Germany’s Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution, said Saturday in an interview with daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. The agency, he said, has tracked more than 320 attempted contacts between Islamists and refugees in the country.

“The biggest threat in Germany is Islamist terrorism,” Mr. Maassen said. An attack similar to the one Tuesday that left 44 dead at Istanbul Atatürk Airport couldn’t be ruled out in Germany, he added.

Since more than 1.2 million immigrants began arriving in Germany last year, many of them crossing from Turkey into Europe without documents or thorough identity checks, the country has been living with a heightened risk of a terror attack.

Last month, German police commandos arrested three members of a terrorist cell—two of whom lived in some of the country’s hundreds of refugee shelters—that was planning an attack on Düsseldorf. The group of 17 mentioned by Mr. Maassen includes two men who died as terrorists in the attacks on Paris, he said.

Sending operatives into Germany with the stream of refugees, which can have an unsettling effect on the country’s open-door policy, isn’t the most practical way for Islamic State to arrange an attack in Europe, Mr. Maassen said.

“More than anything, it’s about [Islamic State] showing their power,” he said. “It’s a sign of political strength.”

In addition to tracking people who are hidden among the refugees, Mr. Maassen said it was important for the country to stop homegrown terrorists, specifically young people who become radicalized through extremists sects of Islam.

“Success rests upon the state’s, school’s and parents’ ability to drive a wedge between young people and Salafists,” Mr. Maassen said, referring to the ultraconservative proponents of Islam.

wsj.com/articles/seventeen-islamic-state-operatives-came-to-germany-disguised-as-refugees-1467486687

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Southeast Asia

Buddhist mob burn down a mosque in Myanmar village as anti-Muslim sentiment swells in the Southeast Asian nation

July 3, 2016

A Buddhist mob burned down a mosque in northern Myanmar during the holy month of Ramadan as anti-Muslim sentiment boiled over in the Southeast Asian nation, formerly known as Burma.

Around 100 police officers were brought in today to guard Muslims living in Hpakant, a jade-mining town in Kachin state.

In recent years Myanmar has struggled to contain sectarian tensions between the Buddhist majority and the Muslim minority which have posed a major challenge to the government, led by Aung San Suu Kyi.

The mosque was stormed and set it ablaze shortly after Friday prayers.

A police officer, Moe Lwin, said: 'The problem started because the mosque was built near a (Buddhist) pagoda. The Muslim people refused to destroy the building when the Buddhists discovered it.'

He said no arrests had been made and dozens of police officers were now stationed in the village, where the situation has calmed down.

The riot came eight days after a crowd of Buddhists destroyed another mosque in the village of Thayethamin in Bago state in central Myanmar, forcing the Muslim community to seek refuge in a neighbouring town.

Tensions are also simmering in western Rakhine, a state scarred by deadly riots in 2012 that left communities almost completely divided along religious lines.

The region is home to the stateless Rohingya, a Muslim minority largely relegated to destitute displacement camps and subject to host of restrictions on their movements and access to basic services.

Suu Kyi, a veteran democracy activist who championed her country's struggle against repressive military rulers, has drawn criticism from human rights groups for not taking swifter moves to protect the Rohingya.

Her government recently ordered officials to refer to the group as 'people who believe in Islam in Rakhine State' instead of Rohingya - a term whose use has set off protests by hardline Buddhists who insist the group are illegal immigrants from Bangladesh.

Many Rakhine Buddhists demand the group be referred to only as 'Bengalis' and say they are preparing to rally in protest at the order tomorrow.

After a 12-day visit to troubled Rakhine and other conflict sites in Myanmar, UN rights investigator Yanghee Lee warned Friday: 'Tensions along religious lines remain pervasive across Myanmar society'.

She urged the country's new civilian government to make 'ending institutionalised discrimination against the Muslim communities in Rakhine State...an urgent priority'.

dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3671017/Myanmar-mob-torches-mosque-religious-tensions-spike-report.html

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Chinese enterprises give Ramadan donation to Indonesian Muslims

July 3, 2016

A number of Chinese companies in Indonesia are pooling up money to help mark the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

Around 150-thousand yuan worth of goods have been dolled out to local Muslim communities in the suburbs of Jakarta.

Jin Hongyue, cultural attache to the Chinese embassy in Jakarta, says the donations should be viewed as a symbol of China's support for the people and culture of Indonesia.

"I think it is very meaningful that our Chinese-funded companies made donations on the eve of Ramadan's conclusion. China and Indonesia are very active in trade. But these donations are a sign that Chinese companies in Indonesia respect the Muslim holiday, and want to bring our two peoples closer together. I think it is very commendable."

Ramadan, the 9th month of the Islamic calendar, calls on all Muslims to fast during daylight hours.

It's conclusion, which falls on Tuesday, is a major celebration, which often includes large-scale banquets and other activities.

english.cri.cn/12394/2016/07/03/3742s932904.htm

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Jakarta mosque moves with the times

July 3, 2016

Mobile mosque offers convenient prayer space, with driver doubling up as both the imam and muezzin

A new mosque has opened in Jakarta, but this one runs on wheels.

The Mobile Masjid, a sand-transport truck that has been converted into a Muslim prayer space for 20 people, comes complete with prayer mats and ablution facilities for special cleansing rituals.

It also carries 15 rolls of carpet to turn any public space into a prayer spot for a congregation of up to 100. The driver doubles up as the imam who leads prayers and the muezzin who makes the call to prayer.

It is managed by Yayasan Masjid Nusantara, an organisation that builds and maintains mosques in the country.

Mobile Masjid is the second of its kind in Indonesia - the first mobile mosque made its debut last year in Bandung, West Java. It was aimed at helping Muslims perform their prayers when mosques are not easily accessible, organisation director Hamzah Fatdri Ulhaq told The Sunday Times.

The mobile mosque has travelled to parks, local attractions and even concerts to meet event organisers' requests for a portable place of worship. "We have received positive feedback in Bandung. People say the mobile mosque has made it very convenient to perform their prayers anywhere," Mr Hamzah said.

Mosques are a central feature of Islamic life in majority-Muslim Indonesia, which is home to more than 200 million Muslims. They become a hive of activity on special Islamic months such as Ramadan, when they blare Quran recitals and religious sermons, as well as host pre-dawn meals and fast-breaking dinners.

While there are around 800,000 mosques and smaller mushollas or prayer rooms across the country, the mobile mosque is a new way to bring the religion closer to Muslims dealing with modern-day inconveniences like traffic jams, Mr Hamzah said.

The Jakarta mobile mosque, which hit the roads last Tuesday, will ply parks and the business district on usual days but is available for bookings for public events - ranging from special festivals to football matches - on a first come, first served basis, he said.

The service is free, and is kept afloat by donations from corporate sponsors and the public. An insurance firm supplied the Mitsubishi truck, covering most of the 700 million rupiah (S$71,900) cost, and will support running expenses for a year.

The vehicle has 2m-long doors on either side that are reinforced with steel plates so they turn into a sturdy platform. Canvas awnings can be rolled out to block the sun and rain, while taps installed on a 500-litre tank at the back allow worshippers to perform their ablutions.

There are sarongs for men and special robes for women that are available for borrowing.

A microphone and speakers help to project the voice of the driver, who wears many hats. Mr Hamzah said the biggest challenge was finding the right person to operate the mobile mosque.

"The driver not only navigates the truck, he is the logistician who sets up the mosque. He also needs to have a deep religious knowledge to be both the imam and the muezzin. He will also give religious sermons. Only our fourth interviewee met the criteria," he said.

In the future, he hopes to set up a second mobile mosque in the capital and one each in other major cities.

Bank officer Izwandi, 32, said he will no longer have any excuse to skip his prayers if the mobile mosque shows up near his workplace.

He said: "Everything is going mobile these days. Even mosques too. So if you can't go to the mosque, don't worry, the mosque will come to you."

straitstimes.com/asia/se-asia/jakarta-mosque-moves-with-the-times

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We need solidarity for Muslims who do not fast

July 3, 2016

JULY 3 — Every Ramadan, some non-Muslims would proudly join their fellow Muslims to fast.

For example, there is the annual Fast4Malaysia event where participants across ethnicities and religions are encouraged to fast together for one day to foster “unity” and promote understanding among Malaysians.

Such an initiative might be useful for the curious and its undeniable feel-good factor of communal togetherness, but symbolically it feels like it is no longer relevant in such an Islamised Malaysia. In fact, it feels dishonest.

Unlike in countries where Muslims are the minority, there is little reason to join Muslims in solidarity during Ramadan. Most Muslims are not victims of discrimination, and are free to fast from dawn to sundown. Fasting is a nationwide event, observed by the majority, endorsed and facilitated by the State.

Perhaps nobody feels Ramadan more than those who wish to eat but find themselves unable to do so because Muslim-owned eateries are closed during the day, while others are fully booked almost every day from as early as 6.30pm, well until after 8pm. Even if you do not plan to eat in, there is a fat chance getting a diner that is willing to serve takeaways during that same period.

And what of Muslims who cannot fast? Islamic jurisprudence agrees that menstruating, pregnant, and nursing women are exempted. The sick, the old and travellers are also allowed to skip fasting.

In short, not every Muslim fasts. Even if you are an observant adherent, and for many different reasons.

Yet, and yet, in Malaysia these Muslims — even the same ones exempted by their own religion — cannot afford to eat in public, to literally nourish themselves, either by an unspoken taboo or by Shariah law.

My friend Maryam Lee was a victim of this absurdity this fasting month when she was berated by not only those who worked in the diner, but by the random public who just could not deal with her conscious effort to break this taboo and eat her damn lunch like any other day.

Her recollection of the event went viral, and sparked widespread debate on moral policing and so-called etiquette during Ramadan.

Things went ugly, to put it mildly, as Maryam was accused of intentionally being provocative with a “stunt”, of trying to seek undeserved attention, making up stories, or just being a plain shameless hussy.

The most nauseating comments, however, came from fellow activists and left-leaning contemporaries, who accused her of mere social media activism, and harping on a minor issue when there are bigger issues to tackle.

Which was a shame, because moral policing here is definitely not a minor issue, and even if it is, are minor issues less significant than the major ones? To paraphrase publisher Amir Muhammad in a recent Facebook post: Rosa Parks would disagree.

There are several main arguments levelled against Maryam, most of which completely missed the point. But the biggest one claims that eating in public disrespects the holy month of Ramadan, and is an act devoid of manners and courtesy for other Muslims.

I cannot make this any clearer: Ramadan is a month. And months, in general, do not care if humans disrespect them or not. Because months do not have feelings.

In fact, these Muslims should own up that it is them who feel insulted when others can eat in public. It is them who feel that those who do not fast can only eat in some hidden corner, in shame, like they have committed a crime.

Why are they insulted, you may ask? There are many reasons for this: self-entitlement, insecurity, the urge to impose one’s belief on others, but above all, a feeling of envy that others can indulge when one has to grudgingly fast. All which come from mandated fasting against one’s will.

The issue of etiquette and manners is the most questionable one. How could one act that is completely harmless one day, becomes so maligned on another? And does this mean that other Muslims in countries where public eating during Ramadan is completely allowed, are less well-mannered than Malaysian Muslims?

Just like the excuse of “respecting Ramadan”, the etiquette of Ramadan is another excuse that has been constructed by Malaysian Muslims to impose their privilege and morality in the public sphere, by denigrating those who do not follow such a code.

It is sad how over time this feeling that everybody should “respect Ramadan” just because, has been entrenched and normalised, that even a benign act such as eating in public causes public outrage akin to blasphemy.

Unlike respecting Ramadan, respecting Muslims who fast not only makes more sense, but easier too. CNN senior assignment editor Saeed Ahmed said it the best:

“You can totally eat in front of us... but try not to schedule a work lunch.

“You don’t have to fast with us... but you can join us for iftar.

“We’ll still go for coffee with you... but we may keep our distance. Because halitosis.”

Which brings me back to the start. Fasting Muslims do not need your solidarity. Non-fasting ones do.

Instead of breaking fast together with Muslims, perhaps non-Muslims can have lunch together with their non-fasting friends, and stand together with them against those who would try to demand undeserved respect.

In recent times, Ramadan has become more and more insufferable for those who are not zealous in their faith. Just this year, there was the “kafir harbi” remark by the Pahang mufti, a police report against an interfaith breaking fast, and of course the vitriol against Maryam.

Muslims believe that Satan is chained during Ramadan, and any wickedness by Muslims during the period comes solely from within themselves. It is only apt that Ramadan has peeled back the pretense of the rest of the year to show what we are truly facing: an increasingly Islamised and unsympathetic society.

Our only relief is that Aidilfitri will come in just a few more days. Ramadan, you will not be missed.

themalaymailonline.com/opinion/zurairi-ar/article/we-need-solidarity-for-muslims-who-do-not-fast

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North America

Muslim community celebrates Ramadan, American loyalty at Chino mosque

July 3, 2016

CHINO >> The Los Angeles chapter of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community hosted “Muslims For Loyalty” on Saturday evening at the Baitul Hameed Mosque in Chino.

The event, in its second consecutive year at the mosque, is part of a national campaign “where we celebrate what it means to be Muslims living in America,” chapter president Ahsan Khan wrote in an email.

In addition to occurring during the holy month of Ramadan, the event coincided with the Fourth of July weekend.

“This is an opportunity to recognize law enforcement and public officials for serving this country and protecting us,” Khan wrote. “It is also an opportunity for us to break our fast during the holy month of Ramadan with our friends and neighbors.”

The event featured remarks from local civic, church and law enforcement leaders and from the imam, according to Khan. Congresswoman Norma Torres, representing the 35th District that includes the mosque, was the keynote presenter.

Torres spoke “about how important it is to gain a better understanding of our neighbors and their culture in order to break down negative stereotypes,” spokesperson Anna González wrote in an email. She also recognizes “how much the Chino mosque and other Muslim organizations in the district have worked to educate the broader community about their faith and have been active partners with local officials in efforts to create a safe, thriving community.”

sgvtribune.com/social-affairs/20160702/muslim-community-celebrates-ramadan-american-loyalty-at-chino-mosque

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Memo to Trump: American Muslims do assimilate

July 3, 2016

Last December President Obama praised Muslim sports heroes, and a clueless Donald Trump tweeted: “What sport is he talking about, and who?” Was Trump so much into his own head that he forgot about Muhammad Ali, a great American hero and also a Sufi, the most peaceful of all Islamic sects?

In addition to Ali, there are of course champion boxers such as Mike Tyson, Bernard Hopkins, Eddie Mustafa Muhammad, Matthew Saad Muhammad, Dwight Muhammad Qawi, and Hasim Rahman.

Three of the top 10 scorers in NBA history are Muslims: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Shaquille O’Neal, and Hakeem Olajuwon. Other NBA Muslim stars are Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf, Shareef Abdur-Rahim, Hassan Adams, Larry Johnson, Nazr Mohammed, and Rasheed Wallace.

Pro football Muslims are Aqib Talib, Hamza Abdullah, Husain Abdullah, Oday Aboushi, Az-Zahir Hakim, Ryan Harris, Abdul Hodge, Ahmad Rashad, Ephraim Salaam, and Usama Young.

Once again Trump has put his small foot in his big mouth.

Much more so than their European counterparts, American Muslims have assimilated and have risen to the top of major professions. There are over 180 prominent American Muslims in politics, the military, business, the arts, comedy, film, music, TV, modeling, scholarship, science, and journalism. Sayed Raheel Farook, the brother of the San Bernardino shooter, is a decorated Navy veteran.

On the Palouse there are dozens of Muslim scholars and scientists who have become outstanding members of our community. Shaikh “Ghazi” Ghazanfar had a distinguished career in the UI economics department, and he won many awards both on campus and in the city. Assimilation par excellence!

In his incendiary speech after the Orlando massacre, Trump reiterated his plan to ban all Muslim immigration and added that American mosques should be “respectfully” surveilled. He also claimed that “the Muslim community does not report people like this.”

“To claim there is no cooperation is defamatory to the Muslim-American community,” responds terrorism expert Professor Charles Kurzman. The FBI states that it has a “productive relationship” with the Muslim community and 20 percent of its tips come from its members.

The mother of 17-year-old Ali Amin, on the advice of her imam, turned in her own son, who is now serving 11 years for supporting ISIS. In 2014 a woman in Minneapolis showed police messages from her brother Abdi Nur, and he has been charged with providing material support for ISIS.

Not all of this cooperation has been reciprocated. Although police departments generally assure their Muslim communities that they will be profiling behavior not Muslims per se, one imam reported that, after attending a police meeting, he was later interrogated a local airport.

Muslims in New York City are still smarting from a 10-year police surveillance program that targeted Muslims and their mosques in the way that Trump now suggests. Two suits were filed against the city and settlements are now in place.

Hina Shamsi, from the ACLU’s National Security Project, declared: “For the first time, this watershed settlement puts much needed constraints on law enforcement’s discriminatory and unjustified surveillance of Muslims.”

The Florida chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations prefers to police its own. A spokesman explained: “We train our people to be very capable of identifying antisocial behavior and signs of radicalization. We have put into place a team of professionals to help people face that.”

Omar Mateen’s imam was a Pakistani born family physician whose sermons are devoid of any signs of jihadism, so people are convinced that Mateen was radicalized on the internet. One of his last Facebook posts was: “You kill innocent women and children by doing airstrikes. Now taste the Islamic State’s vengeance.”

Trump threatens to kill the families of terrorists and Ted Cruz wants to carpet bomb Syrian and Iraqi cities. Common sense dictates that this will further radicalize disaffected youth in America and Europe.

idahostatejournal.com/opinion/columns/memo-to-trump-american-muslims-do-assimilate/article_d4721740-900f-51ca-858c-ff945b0db241.html

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Muslim Man Beaten at Florida Islamic Center

July 3, 2016

TEHRAN (FNA)- A Muslim man was attacked and beaten in an apparent hate crime at the Fort Pierce Islamic Center in the US state of Florida.

Authorities with the St. Lucie County Sheriff's Office said the man was attacked and beaten at the center on West Midway Road, and a news release from the Council on American-Islamic Relations said an intruder commited the  violence, WPBF reported.

“Just before dawn, a white truck stopped at the center, and a 6-foot-tall man got out of the truck and began uttering racial slurs and using foul language before beating the man, causing a head injury and knocking out a tooth,” the statement reads.

Another man at the center witnessed what happened and called police.

St. Lucie County Sheriff Ken Mascara said deputies were able to issue an alert with a description of the assailant and the vehicle. He said a vehicle matching the description was located seven minutes later and stopped in Port St. Lucie.

Mascara said the suspect was identified as Taylor Mazzanti, 25, who faces a felony battery charge. He was booked into the St. Lucie County Jail on $3,750 bond.

“Interviews by the deputies and supervisors on scene and a written witness statement completed by the victim do not indicate any racially-motivated comments were made by the suspect prior to, during, or after the incident,” Mascara said.

The victim was taken to Lawnwood Regional Medical Center and was treated and released.

"For over two weeks, we have been emphasizing that the community from the  Islamic Center of Fort Pierce needs to be offered security from the Sheriff's Office. Unfortunately, our requests were repeatedly ignored," CAIR Florida Communications Director Wilfredo Amr Ruiz said."Will someone have to be killed for the Sheriff to provide safety and security to this mosque?"

Ruiz said the mosque plans to file a complaint with Gov. Rick Scott and the US Department of Justice.

“The untruthful rhetoric from the mosque and its spokesperson is doing nothing more than trying to bring empathy to their cause, which I hope our community recognizes,” Mascara said. “My office, including myself and our agency chaplain, have repeatedly attempted to communicate with the mosque to explore options of working together and there has been no response.”

en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13950413000720

 

URL: http://www.newageislam.com/islamic-world-news/new-age-islam-news-bureau/over-120-killed,-176-injured-as-two-huge-bombs-explode-in-baghdad/d/107843

 

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