New Age Islam
Mon Nov 30 2020, 07:21 PM

Islamic World News ( 24 Oct 2016, NewAgeIslam.Com)

Muslims to Join 'Homam' Seeking Safety of Soldiers Scripting a Saga in Communal Harmony


















Members of the local Muslim community attend a forum Sunday that was titled Terrorism: Challenge for American Muslim.

 

Iraqi Security Forces 5km Away from Mosul

Palestinian Mufti: All of Jerusalem is Islamic!

Islamabad Reportedly Asked Taliban to Join Peace Talks or Leave Pakistan

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India

Muslims to Join 'Homam' Seeking Safety of Soldiers Scripting a Saga in Communal Harmony

The ISIS Mirage: Second Indian Fighter Returns Home Disillusioned

‘Islamic State recruit’ from Tamil Nadu knew Paris attackers tells sleuths

Terrorism Global Issue, International Community Must Join Hands: Rajnath Singh

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Arab World

Iraqi Security Forces 5km Away from Mosul

ISIL Terrorists Backed by US in Kirkuk Offensive

Over 50 ISIL Terrorists Killed in Syrian Army Attacks in Deir Ezzur

Iran Cautions Turkey against Violating Iraq's Sovereignty

Over Dozen of ISIL Terrorists Killed by Iraqi Popular Forces South of Mosul

Kurdish Peshmerga Forces Reject Alleged Request Help from Turkey

Kirkuk under threat of ISIL sharpshooters

ISIL's Oil Tankers Destroyed in Syrian Army Attacks in Sweida Province

Gov't Troops Launch Fresh Offensive to Trap Terrorists in Housing Project 1070

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Mideast

Palestinian Mufti: All of Jerusalem is Islamic!

Turkey Pursuing Triple Aim in Debate over Mosul

Iraq denies Turkey taking part in Mosul operation

No Turkish troops to be sent to Mosul: Ankara

Turkey’s ruling party completes proposal on presidency: PM

Palestinians arrest four for attending Jewish celebration

Middle East will get democracy eventually: Senior Turkish diplomat

Turkish artillery units shelling ISIL in Bashiqa: PM Yıldırım

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South Asia

Islamabad Reportedly Asked Taliban to Join Peace Talks or Leave Pakistan

9 ISIS Militants Killed In Air and Ground Raids in East of Afghanistan

Taliban attack foiled near Vice President Dostum’s compound in Faryab

Crackdown not enough: Bangladesh needs to neutralise sources of militant support

'Links to Militancy': S'pore deports 6 Bangladeshis

Afghan Taliban discuss Kabul talks with Pakistan

China to deliver 2 transport planes to Afghan Air Force

MoD reacts towards Taliban’s drone video showing Helmand suicide attack

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Southeast Asia

Call For Worldwide Muslim Unity In Diversity: Head Of Nahdlatul Ulema

Leader of Moro Islamic Liberation Front Names Three Indonesia’s Top Terrorists

Islam in Malaysia: When religion infiltrates the government

Muslims too, are against Hadi’s Bill, says Siti Kasim

Indonesians are the 2nd most generous people in the world: Gallup poll

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North America

North Texas Muslim Leader: ‘We Must Work Together For Peace.’

Wipe out Islamic State jihadis in Mosul AND Raqqa at the SAME TIME, says US official

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Pakistan

Pak Urges UK to Push India for Talks

Jamaat to Quit Govt If Posts of Theology Teachers Not Restored

Gunmen kill Pakistani intelligence officer, IS claim attack

Three MQM-London offices demolished in Hyderabad

‘Pakistan is stronger than ever before,’ claims army Chief Raheel Sharif

Pakistan court releases 3 ‘R&AW agents’ for lack of evidence

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Africa

Officers: 83 Nigerian Soldiers Missing In Boko Haram Attack

Nigeria: Islamic Insurance Firms to Begin Operations in Nigeria

Sudanese rebel leader slams South Africa’s withdrawal from war crimes court

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Europe

Natick: Interfaith Liaison Continues Muslim Educational Tour

Turkey, EU must cooperate more than ever: France

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau

URL: http://www.newageislam.com/islamic-world-news/new-age-islam-news-bureau/muslims-to-join--homam--seeking-safety-of-soldiers-scripting-a-saga-in-communal-harmony/d/108908

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Muslims to Join 'Homam' Seeking Safety of Soldiers Scripting a Saga in Communal Harmony

K R Rajeev

Oct 24, 2016

KOZHIKODE: Hindus and Muslims of Muthuvallur near Kondotty in Malappuram will join hands to conduct a Maha Mrityunjaya Homam for the wellbeing of the Indian soldiers deployed long the country's borders.

The homam, to avoid untimely deaths and seeking divine blessings for the health and longevity of armed forces personnel, will be held at the 400-year-old Sree Durga Bhagavathi Temple on November 4 and 5.

The homam will script a saga in communal harmony with Muslims coming forward to bear a major chunk of the cost involved.

Muslim expat K P Sulaiman Haji, for instance, is sponsoring the entire cost of the 'anna danam' for the around 2,000 people who are expected to turn up as part of the rituals.

"I have offered to bear the cost of the food as it is a noble initiative on the part of the temple authorities. Hindus and Muslims have been living in complete harmony here and the temple is a symbol of it," said Sulaiman Haji who is the chairman of KPS Group which runs schools and other businesses in Saudi Arabia.

The homam will be conducted by a team of priests led by Thantri Tharananellur Thekkinedath Padmanabhan Unni Namboodiripad.

"The homam will seek divine blessings for our soldiers who are currently fighting in the border to protect our country. It is a homam dedicated to Lord Shiva and is very special. It is performed to avoid untimely death and to provide longevity, good health and vigour. The seven prominent offerings in the homam, like the stem of Amritha plant, ghee, sesame seeds and young blossom of banyan trees, are offered 1,008 times," said the thantri who is a head priest in around 2,000 temples in Kerala.

Another local Muslim, P Moideen Kutty Master is himself a member of the committee formed for raising funds and making arrangements for the ritual. "It is worrying that currently people are being categorized just on their basis of religious affiliations when our fundamental identity is that of Indians. When the temple authorities said that conducting the homam will bring good to the military personnel guarding our borders in these tumultuous times, we wholeheartedly lent our support," he said.

Sankaran Padinjath, secretary of the temple renovation committee, said that they are proud that Hindus and Muslims in the village have come together and set a model in communal harmony and tolerance even in these testing times.

Source: timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/kozhikode/Muslims-to-join-homam-seeking-safety-of-soldiers/articleshow/55022984.cms

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Iraqi Security Forces 5km Away from Mosul

Oct 24, 2016

TEHRAN (FNA)- A local official in Northern Iraq announced that the Iraqi forces are five kilometers away from the city of Mosul, saying that there are signs of an uprising against the ISIL terrorists in the city.

“Iraqi forces are within the distance of five kilometers to Mosul  and as the number of ISIL militants are estimated between four thousand and eight thousand in the city of Mosul, then, they will show fierce resistance due to the symbolic importance of the city,” Interior Minister of Iraq's Kurdistan region, Karim Sinjari said in a press statement, Iraqi News reported.

Commander of the Iraq's Armed Forced, Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi announced on 17 October 2016, the launch of the battle to liberate the city of Mosul from the ISIL, while the ISIS is trying to tighten its grip on the city.

Source: en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13950803000722

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Palestinian Mufti: All of Jerusalem is Islamic!

Monday, August 22, 2016

The Palestinian Authority-appointed Mufti of Jerusalem, Sheikh Muhammad Hussein (pictured), declared on Sunday that the entire city belongs to Islam and the Arabs, and must be defended against the Jews.

Speaking on the 47th anniversary of an arson attack against the Al-Aqsa Mosque by an Australian man, Hussein urged all Arabs living in the area to surround Jerusalem’s Temple Mount to prevent further visits to the holy site by Jews and other non-Muslims.

That despite the fact that the Temple Mount, as clearly documented by the Bible and numerous historical resources, has been Judaism’s holiest site since long before the advent of Islam.

But the Muslims have so thoroughly rewritten history to fit their agenda that even a top religious leader like Hussein can assert that “each floor of the holy city, every remnant of the city, and every centimeter attest to the fact that it is an Arab and Islamic city, whose roots lie deep in history and culture.”

Two days earlier, Friday prayers at the Al-Aqsa Mosque were led by Sheikh Ismail Nawahada, who likewise rejected any historical Jewish connection to Jerusalem, and insisted that it was forbidden for Muslims to cooperate with the Jews in their “conquest” of the city.

Source: israeltoday.co.il/Default.aspx?nid=29896&tabid=178

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Islamabad reportedly asked Taliban to join peace talks or leave Pakistan

Mon Oct 24 2016

The Taliban leaders based in Pakistan have reportedly been asked to join peace talks or leave the country along with the family members.

“The squeeze is continuing on them [the Taliban] and some have already left, or [are] leaving the country,” a senior Pakistani official

told VOA in background interview.

According to the report, the latest crackdown by Islamabad has forced the Taliban leaders based in Qatar to send a delegation to

Islamabad to take up the issue with Pakistani officials.

Earlier, reports emerged that the Taliban delegation had visited Islamabad to brief the Pakistani officials regarding the secret

informal talks between the group and Afghan officials.

There were also reports suggesting that the Taliban delegation visited Islamabad to discuss the issue of Afghan refugees which sparked

furor among the Afghan officials who said such issues do not relate to Taliban militants group.

The officials also slammed the group for being dependent and having no authority to decide regarding the issue of reconciliation.

This comes as the Afghan officials have long been critizing Pakistan for allowing the Taliban group leaders to use its soil for

executing attacks in Afghanistan which causes most of the casualties to the ordinary Afghan civilians.

However, Pakistan has repeatedly rejected the allegations although Pakistan’s foreign affairs adviser Sartaj Aziz admitted earlier this

year that the country has influence on the group and could use certain leverages to force the group to join peace talks.

Source: khaama.com/islamabad-reportedly-asked-taliban-to-join-peace-talks-or-leave-pakistan-02133

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India

Muslims to Join 'Homam' Seeking Safety of Soldiers Scripting a Saga in Communal Harmony

K R Rajeev

Oct 24, 2016

KOZHIKODE: Hindus and Muslims of Muthuvallur near Kondotty in Malappuram will join hands to conduct a Maha Mrityunjaya Homam for the wellbeing of the Indian soldiers deployed long the country's borders.

The homam, to avoid untimely deaths and seeking divine blessings for the health and longevity of armed forces personnel, will be held at the 400-year-old Sree Durga Bhagavathi Temple on November 4 and 5.

The homam will script a saga in communal harmony with Muslims coming forward to bear a major chunk of the cost involved.

Muslim expat K P Sulaiman Haji, for instance, is sponsoring the entire cost of the 'anna danam' for the around 2,000 people who are expected to turn up as part of the rituals.

"I have offered to bear the cost of the food as it is a noble initiative on the part of the temple authorities. Hindus and Muslims have been living in complete harmony here and the temple is a symbol of it," said Sulaiman Haji who is the chairman of KPS Group which runs schools and other businesses in Saudi Arabia.

The homam will be conducted by a team of priests led by Thantri Tharananellur Thekkinedath Padmanabhan Unni Namboodiripad.

"The homam will seek divine blessings for our soldiers who are currently fighting in the border to protect our country. It is a homam dedicated to Lord Shiva and is very special. It is performed to avoid untimely death and to provide longevity, good health and vigour. The seven prominent offerings in the homam, like the stem of Amritha plant, ghee, sesame seeds and young blossom of banyan trees, are offered 1,008 times," said the thantri who is a head priest in around 2,000 temples in Kerala.

Another local Muslim, P Moideen Kutty Master is himself a member of the committee formed for raising funds and making arrangements for the ritual. "It is worrying that currently people are being categorized just on their basis of religious affiliations when our fundamental identity is that of Indians. When the temple authorities said that conducting the homam will bring good to the military personnel guarding our borders in these tumultuous times, we wholeheartedly lent our support," he said.

Sankaran Padinjath, secretary of the temple renovation committee, said that they are proud that Hindus and Muslims in the village have come together and set a model in communal harmony and tolerance even in these testing times.

Source: timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/kozhikode/Muslims-to-join-homam-seeking-safety-of-soldiers/articleshow/55022984.cms

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The ISIS mirage: Second Indian fighter returns home disillusioned

Mon, 24 Oct 2016

Subahani Haja Moideen—the second ISIS fighter to return—was attracted to the outfit’s ideology. Five months later, he returned to India, disillusioned with the senseless violence.

In the muggy summer of April 2015, almost a year after self-anointed Caliph Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi urged Muslims to immigrate to the land of Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), Tamil Nadu-native Subahani Haja Moideen sold his land and boarded a flight from Chennai to Turkey to perform hijrah—a Muslim’s duty as a faithful.

According to investigating officers, the 30-year-old class XII graduate was not particularly religiously inclined; he was married and a low-skilled worker, sometimes in a store, sometimes in garment factories. Like millions of other Indians, he had access to the Internet.

That is where he found religion, in the slick, sophisticated propaganda that ISIS is known for putting out in the hopes of adding recruits to its cause of expanding the so-called Caliphate. In what is now widely recognised as an ISIS tactic, Moideen also met a woman online—she claimed to be Swedish—while searching for guidance on hijrah.

Moideen was a ready convert to the cause. Like thousands of others, he had spent time consuming the group’s propaganda and videos. In 2015, he made contact with ISIS supporters via the instant messaging app Telegram. Chats with accounts in the name of Abu Naisha al Maghrabi and Abu al-Swedi assured Moideen that if he travelled to Turkey, they would arrange his journey inside IS territory in Syria.

It was just the push Moideen needed.

He sold ancestral property for Rs 1.8 lakh, paid off debts, and flew to Istanbul, Turkey. His family thought he was going for umrah—the pilgrimage to Islam’s holiest site, Mecca.

In the chosen land

In Turkey, Moideen contacted handlers who took him to a safe house in Istanbul where foreign fighters from Morocco, the UK, Russia and Pakistan were awaiting their journey to the Caliphate.

Two days later, when they reached the town of Tell Abyad on Turkey-Syria border in Raqqa, Moideen was enrolled in a training camp for a 21-day basic course providing military, political and Sharia insights. In a second, 15-day round of training for physical combat, Moideen injured his knee and was unable to complete the course. “His training commander told him from the start, his performance as a fighter was poor,’’ said an investigating officer. Not accustomed to the gruelling physical endurance required, Moideen couldn’t keep up. “After taking a gun in his hand, his heroism faded away. His commanders made him guard tents in the camp,” an investigating officer said. He spent the next few days doing chores, with a monthly salary of $100.

In June, as Kurdish forces advanced into ISIS territory and seized the town of Tell Abyad, Moideen saw for the first time the horrors of battle in real-time as opposed to social media videos that portrayed ISIS as ‘baqiya wa tatamaddad’ (‘remaining and expanding’). While the Kurds were on ground, the US coalition forces were providing assistance from the skies.

In one such attack, a drone-fired bomb hit a building where Moideen hid with other recruits. Two of his training comrades were charred to death. “This made him question his choice,” the officer said. This is reportedly when Moideen asked for his passport to leave Syria. Upon arrival into ISIS territory, foreign fighters are required to hand their passports to leaders.

Since the beginning of the armed conflict in Syria, an estimated 40,000 foreign fighters from over 100 countries have joined ISIS, al Qaeda and other jihadi groups in the region. The large chunk of mercenary fighters are the life blood of the group, deployed on frontlines and in suicide attacks.

The souring

Filled with the religiousness of jihad and lured by foreign fighters, it was only a matter of time before Moideen realised there was nothing Islamic about the state formed in the name of Islam, say investigators.

In September 2015, Moideen became the second Indian ISIS recruit to return back home, dejected and disillusioned, a mere five months later. Investigating officials who interrogated Moideen say his is a classic case of social media indoctrination. “It did not take him much time to realise there is a difference between the way ISIS portrays itself in its videos and how it operates on ground. He made attempts to flee from the very first month,’’ said a senior officer.

Police officers from Tamil Nadu said Moideen did not take part in any armed conflict either in Mosul or Raqqa, because he was physically inept and also because he questioned IS strategies.

“From what he saw on the ground, ISIS maintained some form of Islamic law on its territory, but it was also killing civilians. There was no clarity on who the enemy is—the Assad government and Syrian military forces, other rebel groups or fellow Muslims,” an officer said.

As a result, recruits like Moideen who came looking for a jihadist utopia to live an Islamic life have been shattered by the reality on ground. Killings of fellow Muslims, Shias, Sunnis as spies, capturing Yazidi women as sex slaves, atrocities against civilians for crimes such as smoking cigarettes, not performing prayers, corruption, and religious differences has led to many foreign fighters deserting ISIS. Those caught trying to escape have been jailed.

The flight

Following Tell Abyad’s seizure, ISIS fighters, including Moideen’s group, fled to Mosul. He continued with security duties while pleading to be let go. Instead, he was jailed for up to 40 days, first in Raqqa and then in Mosul (Iraq). Moideen told interrogators that ISIS commanders suspected him to be a spy. For days, he was questioned about his motives. After confirming his innocence, senior ISIS leaders took Moideen along with other prisoners to an undisclosed location.

With other fighters in this group, Moideen realised he was not alone in wanting to return home. They had heard stories of other deserters. Moideen found allies in fighters from UK, Morocco, Tajikistan and Russia. A Russian fighter—likely a spy sent before Russia officially intervened militarily in Syria in the same month—had a GPS and knew the route from another fighter who had safely made it to Turkey a few days prior. They pooled in savings and used $600 as a bribe to a truck driver to another town. After walking for over 8 km, they reached Gaziantep, a Turkish border city.

Once inside Turkey, the members went their own ways. With no other options, Moideen made his way to the Indian consulate in Istanbul. He did not disclose what he did since his arrival in Turkey five months prior. ISIS advises recruits travelling to Syria via Turkey to have a return ticket and if caught by security forces, to pretend to be just another tourist vacationing in resort towns.

At the Indian embassy, Moideen, too, pretended to be an Indian tourist who had lost his passport and luggage. The Indian embassy, after checking his background, issued him an Emergency Certificate that allowed him to travel back. He returned on September 22 to Mumbai and headed to his village in Kadayanallur in Tamil Nadu’s Tirunelveli district. Although the Intelligence Bureau has issued a circular that states should be notified about any EC issued to any of their residents, senior officials from Tamil Nadu police said they were in the dark about Moideen’s journey to Syria and his return.

Home, sweet home?

Once back, Moideen claimed his time with the ISIS frightened him. Fearing that security forces would catch up with his past sooner or later, he confided in his family and assured them he would start afresh.

After settling back into a routine life, Moideen revived his encrypted Telegram account. The NIA alleges that Moideen was “planning to collect explosives and chemicals from Sivakasi at their (ISIS’) instance” and was conspiring on a terrorist attack. Tamil Nadu police officers who also interrogated Moideen say his testimony only reveals a motivation to make some money.

“He was in extreme financial distress and thought he could get some money from the Islamic `brothers’ as help. He belongs to a poor family and had already sold his land,” a police officer said.

ISIS social media supporters consider themselves a part of the baqiya (enduring) family. Researcher Amarnath Amarsingham, who co-directs a project on studying Western foreign fighters joining the conflict in Syria and Iraq at the University of Waterloo in Canada, finds them “a deeply connected group of youth who find a sense of community online”. Mushtaq Komari, another ISIS fighter from India on the app, offered aid. Coordinating with a contact in Chennai, Komari told Moideen to collect Rs 20,000. Moideen made the trips, but was not able to find the middleman. This was because the entire encrypted communication was done without making phone calls. On the third attempt, Moideen picked up Rs 20,000 cash kept under a statue in City Park, Chennai. On October 6, he was picked up by the NIA, becoming only the second known Indian to have returned home.

Source: dnaindia.com/india/report-the-isis-mirage-2266839

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‘Islamic State recruit’ from Tamil Nadu knew Paris attackers tells sleuths

October 24, 2016

A suspected Islamic State (IS) recruit from Tamil Nadu, arrested recently by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) for allegedly having fought alongside the outfit in Iraq, has told the agency that he had met two French operatives who were later found to have participated in the November 2015 Paris attacks.

Subahani Haja Moideen, a resident of Tirunelveli in Tamil Nadu, had spent a few months in Mosul after having left India in April 2015. He has now told NIA sleuths that he knew the Paris bombers, Abdelhamid Abaaoud and Salah Abdeslam.

“In Mosul, he was put in a group which also had these two individuals. He knew them only by their pseudonyms which carried the suffix al-Francisi. However, when he was shown the photographs of the attackers, he recognised them,” an NIA officer said.

The Paris attack inside a theatre last November had left over 100 people dead. Moideen, however, has said that he had no clue about the plot then and had returned to India by the time the attacks took place. He learned of the attack through news channels.

While Abaaoud was killed in retaliatory fire during the Paris theatre attack in November last year, Abdelslam is in the custody of the French police.

Moideen was arrested from Tamil Nadu in a crackdown by the NIA with the help of central security agencies and other state police, foiling designs of IS operatives to target some judges of Kerala and foreign tourists visiting the coastal state.

The NIA has informed the French security officials and contacted its embassy here, sources said. They said that French officials could question him as well after getting the requisite court order.

Moideen was allegedly radicalised and recruited in the IS through social media platforms and he had left India for Istanbul from Chennai in April last year on the pretext of performing ‘Umrah’, sources said.

After reaching Istanbul, he crossed over along with other people who hailed from Pakistan and Afghanistan to Iraqi territory under control of IS.

Moideen was in Iraq from April 8, 2015 from where he was taken to Mosul and underwent detailed ‘religious training’ followed by combat training. After this, he was reportedly deputed to fight for almost two weeks.

During the war, he told interrogators that he was paid US $100 per month as an allowance by IS besides being given accommodation and food.

However, Moideen told interrogators that he could not withstand the violence and war misery in Mosul and decided to leave especially after he saw two of his friends getting killed.

He was jailed by IS and produced before an Islamic judge who sent him to Syria. He claimed that he was allowed to cross over to Turkey from where he contacted his family with the help of the Indian consulate in Istanbul. He arrived in Mumbai after a gap of six months in September last year on an emergency certificate and returned to his ancestral place. He later managed to get a job at a jewellery shop at Kadayanallur in Tamil Nadu.

Source: indianexpress.com/article/india/india-news-india/islamic-state-recruit-paris-attack-tamil-nadu-3099457/

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Terrorism Global Issue, International Community Must Join Hands: Rajnath Singh

October 24, 2016

Bahrain: Terrorism is a global problem and the international community must join hands to root out the menace, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh said in Manama on Sunday night as he began his three-day visit to the Gulf country.

Addressing the Indian community in Bahrain, Mr Singh also said the Narendra Modi government has made several structural and procedural changes and that resulted in successfully reducing the “wholesale corruption” in the country.

“Terrorism is a global problem and the entire international community has to come together to face the challenges posed by the menace,” he said.

Highlighting various initiatives of the Modi government, the Home Minister said the NDA dispensation is creating an environment that will make every Indian “proud”.

“India today is the fastest growing economy in the world and now it has become the most favorite destination for investments.”

“India has attracted maximum FDI in one year which is more than even of the United States and China. India attracted USD 51 billion FDI in one year,” he said.

Mr Singh said that schemes like ‘Jan Dhan Yojana’, Skill India, Digital India, Make in India and others are having a positive impact on India’s economy.

“Our Prime Minister is very imaginative and extremely hard-working leader. He is working to minimise economic disparities in India,” he said.

The Home Minister said Bahrain has started a “Little India in Bahrain” project and both the countries are coming closer on “emotional level” as well.

Earlier, upon his arrival, the Home Minister was received at the airport by Bahrain’s Interior Minister Rashid bin Abdullah Al Khalifa.

Mr Singh will meet Bahrain King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, Prime Minister Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa and the Interior Minister and will discuss with them various bilateral issues.

Pakistan’s continuous support to cross border terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir is expected to be raised by the Home Minister in his meetings with the top leadership of Bahrain, official sources said.

There will be extensive discussions on how to enhance bilateral cooperation with regard to tackling terror and each other’s fugitives at the meeting between Singh and his Bahrain counterpart Rashid bin Abdullah Al Khalifa, sources said.

Source: siasat.com/news/terrorism-global-issue-international-community-must-join-hands-rajnath-singh-1048548/

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Arab World

Iraqi Security Forces 5km Away from Mosul

Oct 24, 2016

TEHRAN (FNA)- A local official in Northern Iraq announced that the Iraqi forces are five kilometers away from the city of Mosul, saying that there are signs of an uprising against the ISIL terrorists in the city.

“Iraqi forces are within the distance of five kilometers to Mosul  and as the number of ISIL militants are estimated between four thousand and eight thousand in the city of Mosul, then, they will show fierce resistance due to the symbolic importance of the city,” Interior Minister of Iraq's Kurdistan region, Karim Sinjari said in a press statement, Iraqi News reported.

Commander of the Iraq's Armed Forced, Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi announced on 17 October 2016, the launch of the battle to liberate the city of Mosul from the ISIL, while the ISIS is trying to tighten its grip on the city.

Source: en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13950803000722

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ISIL Terrorists Backed by US in Kirkuk Offensive

Oct 24, 2016

TEHRAN (FNA)- Head of the security committee of Kirkuk Provincial Council Ali Musa Yadekar disclosed that the US helped the ISIL terrorists in launching attacks against Kirkuk on Friday.

The US planes transferred the ISIL terrorists from Hawijah to Leilan and Daqouq which are mountainous regions empty of security forces in Southern Kirkuk, Yadekar was quoted as saying by the Arabic website of Sputnik news agency on Monday.

Meantime, Ambassador of the International High Commission for Human Rights in the Middle-East Haitham Abu Saeed also said today that the Takfiri terrorists have fled from Mosul to Raqqa and Idlib in Syria with US support.

"The US is also pressuring the Iraqi government to stop Hashd al-Sha'abi (popular) forces' participation in the Mosul Liberation Operations in a move to implement its plots in the region," he added.

Their remarks came after one of the ISIL prisoners nabbed by Iraqi forces in Kirkuk confessed that Turkish airplanes brought them from Turkey and dropped them South of Kirkuk, near the village of Sari Tepe, security sources said.

“The Iraqi security forces have managed to arrest a number of terrorists who attacked Kirkuk province, after the militants blew up and struck governmental headquarters by suicide attacks and clashed with the security forces and the local people,” the security source said.

The source confirmed that “One of the prisoners admitted that Turkish planes brought them from Turkey and dropped them in an area South of Kirkuk, near the village of Sari Tepe”.

"The investigations are underway about the confessions of those terrorists for documentation purposes and to criminalize those who facilitated the terrorists’ infiltration into Kirkuk”, the source added.

Source: en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13950803000670

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Over 50 ISIL Terrorists Killed in Syrian Army Attacks in Deir Ezzur

Oct 24, 2016

TEHRAN (FNA)- Syrian Army troops, backed up by the country's fighter jets and artillery units, stormed ISIL's positions and supply lines in three regions in the Southern countryside of Deir Ezzur city, claiming the lives of at least 50 terrorists.

Syrian soldiers, supported by heavy artillery and tank fire, targeted ISIL's concentration centers in Panorama, al-Thardah mountain and the village of al-Jafrah in the Eastern side of Deir Ezzur airbase, leaving over 50 militants dead and many more wounded.

Six vehicles of the ISIL also were destroyed in the attacks.

Reports said on Sunday that the Syrian military forces fended off ISIL's heavy attacks on government positions near Deir Ezzur airbase, inflicting major damage and casualties on the terrorists.

Syrian army troops, backed up by the country's warplanes and artillery units, repelled ISIL's offensives to break through the government positions in the Eastern side of Deir Ezzur airbase.

ISIL left behind tens of casualties and military hardware and pulled back the remaining pockets of its forces from the battlefield.

The Syrian soldiers, assisted by army aircraft, struck ISIL's centers in al-Huweiqa, al-Umal, al-Rasafeh and al-Baqaliyeh, killing several militants and destroying their command and control center.

Eleven ISIL members were killed and five vehicles were destroyed in the Syrian fighter jets' attacks in al-Thardah mountain.

Source: en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13950803000584

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Iran Cautions Turkey against Violating Iraq's Sovereignty

Oct 24, 2016

TEHRAN (FNA)- Iran warned Turkey the violation of Iraq's sovereignty, stressing that any anti-terrorism effort in the Arab country needs Baghdad's approval.

"Fighting against terrorism in the region and the world is important and it is good if any government fights against terrorism, but we shouldn’t violate another country's sovereignty to this end," Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Bahram Qassemi told reporters in his weekly press conference in Tehran on Monday.

"Any partnership in this field should be coordinated with the central government (in Iraq)," he added.

Asked about the last week summoning of the Turkish Ambassador to Tehran Reza Hakan Takin to the Iranian foreign ministry, Qassemi said that during the meeting different issues related to mutual relations, Syria, Iraq and the Persian Gulf littoral states were raised and he promised to inform Iran as soon as possible on Ankara's positions on certain issues.

The Turkish envoy was summoned the Foreign Ministry last week to inform Ankara of Tehran's strong protest at the recent statements made by a number of Turkish officials against Iran's regional policies.

Relations between Turkey and Iraq deteriorated after Turkey dispatched its troops in Iraq allegedly to fight against ISIL in late 2015.

The Turkish government said its forces would participate in the operation on the liberation of Mosul, however, Iraqi authorities claim they had not given their consent for this participation.

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider Abadi said Saturday that Turkey has sent troops to Iraq to extend its influence, but not to combat the ISIL terrorist group.

"Turkey does not fight against Daesh, it fights for its interests and extension on influence," Abadi said.

On Friday, US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter said that Iraq and Turkey reached preliminary agreement on the framework of Turkish military participation in the fight against the ISIL.

Iraqi government spokesman Saad al-Hudaythi said later on the same day that no concrete agreements had been reached yet.

Source: en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13950803000867

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Over Dozen of ISIL Terrorists Killed by Iraqi Popular Forces South of Mosul

Oct 24, 2016

TEHRAN (FNA)- The Popular Mobilization Forces announced that its forces have killed at least 13 terrorists and destroyed 10 vehicles carrying machineguns in addition to the dismantling of 7 car bombs during the operations in the vicinity of Hamam al-Alil area south of Mosul.

“The popular mobilization units have shelled ISIS defenses in the villages of Hamam al-Alil and Ghazlani as the shelling resulted in the killing of 13 terrorists and the destruction of 10 vehicles carrying machineguns in addition to the dismantling of 7 car bombs,” a senior commander in the popular mobilization Forces, Jabbar al-Mamouri said, Badr News reported.

“ISIL terror group has declared general alert for suicide bombers brigades in Hamam al-Alil’s block lines to confront the PMU advance and security forces,” l-Mamouri added.

“The suicide bombers brigades are a group of terrorists from Eastern Asia assigned to blow themselves up in the front lines of confrontation,” he said.

“ISIL is suffering a great shortage of medicines and supplies as a result of the security siege, as it is surrounded and is besieged inside Mosul after cutting off all of the roads leading to the ports of escape towards the Syrian city of Raqqa,” he concluded.

Source: en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13950803000786

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Kurdish Peshmerga Forces Reject Alleged Request Help from Turkey

Oct 24, 2016

TEHRAN (FNA)- A senior Kurdish commander rejected the claims by Ankara officials that the Peshmerga forces have requested help from Turkey for the fight against the ISIL terrorist group in Northern Iraq.

"Contrary to the Turkish government's claims, Peshmerga forces have never demanded the Turkish army to target the ISIL in Baishqa region in Nineveh province," the Arabic-language media quoted Senior Peshmerga Commander Qias al-Sourchi as saying on Monday.

He went on to say that the Turkish army's artillery fired 10 artillery shells, but opposite to the Turkish officials' allegations they didn't claim any casualty among the ISIL terrorists.

"Turkey is trying to hijack the Peshmarga forces' advances and success," al-Sourchi said.

He said that Kurdish Peshmerga forces have more advanced and stronger weapons than the Turkish army weapons and military grid in the region and they, thus, are needless of Ankara's military aid.

Earlier on Monday, the General Command of Iraq's Peshmerga Forces said that the units had accomplished their goals of the military operation conducted Northeast of the Iraqi city of Mosul.

"Peshmerga Forces have already achieved their primary objective in a large-scale operation near Bashiqa, North East of Mosul, to cordon off eight villages in an area measuring approximately 100 square kilometers," the Command said in a statement issued on its Twitter page.

"The achievement which was realized ahead of planned time, positions Peshmerga forces less than 9 km, about 6 miles, from the outskirts of Mosul,” the Command said.

The statement said that the Peshmerga secured a significant stretch of a highway connecting Mosul with the town of Bashiqa to limit the ISIL terrorists’ freedom of movement.

The Command added that the Kurds managed to kill dozens of terrorists on Sunday, including Abu Faruq known as the emir of Bashiqa.

On October 17, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider Abadi announced the start of a military operation to retake Mosul from ISIL. According to local media, about 30,000 Iraqi soldiers and 4,000 Kurdish Peshmerga fighters are taking part in the operation, backed by airstrikes carried out by the US-led coalition.

Source: en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13950803000839

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Kirkuk under threat of ISIL sharpshooters

October 24, 2016

Sharpshooters from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) jihadist group have become a threat in the Kurdish-controlled city of Kirkuk in Iraq on the third day of clashes, with security forces still tracking down the militants.

Locals and journalists working in the field have been trapped in the streets due to concealed ISIL sharpshooters in the city.

Clashes intensified on the third day of ISIL attacks across the city in the southern Dumiz neighborhood, housing Arab citizens, in addition to the June 1 and Esra Mefqudin neighborhoods in the west housing Arabs and Turkmens.

The militants also attacked Muhafiz Street, where predominantly wealthy Turkmens and Christians reside.

Streets remained empty on Oct. 23 as sharpshooters immediately opened fire at anyone moving. Locals have been waiting for anti-terror units to kill the militants in order to go out.

The north side of the city and Kurdish neighborhoods in the east have been the most secure places with no clashes reported yet. Locals have also moved to the neighboring Arbil and Sulaymaniyah provinces when possible.

Due to the sleeping ISIL cells, security has yet to be fully provided in the city.

However, peshmerga forces have been hunting the militants with armored vehicles.

On Oct. 21, ISIL sharpshooters killed Ahmet Necmeddin Haceroğlu, who was the news editor of Türkmeneli TV, in an attack on his broadcasting vehicle.

ISIL militants struck with a surprise assault on the city on Oct. 21, but dozens of attackers, including several suicide bombers, failed to seize control of key government buildings.

At least 51 militants have been killed, including three more on Oct. 23, local security officials told Agence France-Presse.

Sporadic clashes were continuing, a senior security official said, with forces besieging ISIL gunmen in the Nidaa neighborhood.

At least 46 people, most of them members of the security forces, were killed in the raid and ensuing clashes, the agency said.

Kurdish and other forces were also tracking down jihadists believed to have fled Kirkuk on Oct. 22 to rural areas east of the city.

The militants also attacked Rutba, a remote town near the Jordanian border in the western province of Anbar, with five suicide car bombs, the area’s top army commander said on Oct. 23.

The attackers briefly seized the mayor’s office but security forces quickly regained the upper hand, he said.

Source: hurriyetdailynews.com/kirkuk-under-threat-of-isil-sharpshooters.aspx?pageID=238&nID=105270&NewsCatID=352

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ISIL's Oil Tankers Destroyed in Syrian Army Attacks in Sweida Province

Oct 24, 2016

TEHRAN (FNA)- Syrian military forces stormed the concentration centers and gatherings of ISIL terrorists in two regions in Eastern Sweida, destroying several fuel tankers.

ISIL's bases in al-Bayader region and in the Eastern side of the village of al-Rashideh came under heavy attack by the Syrian army troops, destroying a base, several oil tankers and killing a number of militants.

In a similar raid on Friday a number of ISIL vehicles, carrying fresh forces and ammunition in the Southern province of Sweida, came under attack by the Syrian Army troops, adding that most of the vehicles were damaged in the offensive.

"Syrian military forces, tipped off by intelligence agents, stormed a long convoy of ISIL's vehicles in Tal Dhafla region, inflicting major damage on the armored and supply vehicles," field sources said.

"Several ISIL members were killed and several more were wounded in the attacks," the sources added.

Source: en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13950803000626

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Gov't Troops Launch Fresh Offensive to Trap Terrorists in Housing Project 1070

Oct 24, 2016

TEHRAN (FNA)- Syrian Army soldiers and popular forces launched fresh operation in areas South and Southeast of Housing Project 1070 in Southwestern Aleppo on Monday to complete siege on the remaining pockets of Jeish al-Fatah terrorists.

"After the Syrian government forces' advances and the seizure of air defense battalion, Tal Bazo and a telecommunication tower, the Syrian military forces stormed Jeish al-Fatah's positions around a key height near Housing Project 1070 to cut off the supply lines of the terrorists in the Project and other Southwestern neighborhoods of Aleppo city," the sources said.

"Syrian and Russian fighter jets, for their parts, pounded Jeish al-Fatah's gatherings in the Housing Project 1070," the sources added.

"The army soldiers, meantime, ambushed a group of terrorists in Project 1070 and killed at least 7 militants," they went on to say.

On Saturday, Syrian Army troops and popular forces launched fresh rounds of offensives to take back a few remaining building blocks still under Jeish al-Fatah's control in Southwestern Aleppo.

"Syrian government forces, this time enjoying more fresh soldiers, are engaged in an intense battle with the Jeish al-Fatah terrorist coalition in Housing Project 1070," the sources said, adding, "Units of Jeish al-Fatah have now pulled forces back from their positions under the heavy fire of the Syrian army."

Source: en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13950803000514

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Mideast

Palestinian Mufti: All of Jerusalem is Islamic!

Monday, August 22, 2016

The Palestinian Authority-appointed Mufti of Jerusalem, Sheikh Muhammad Hussein (pictured), declared on Sunday that the entire city belongs to Islam and the Arabs, and must be defended against the Jews.

Speaking on the 47th anniversary of an arson attack against the Al-Aqsa Mosque by an Australian man, Hussein urged all Arabs living in the area to surround Jerusalem’s Temple Mount to prevent further visits to the holy site by Jews and other non-Muslims.

That despite the fact that the Temple Mount, as clearly documented by the Bible and numerous historical resources, has been Judaism’s holiest site since long before the advent of Islam.

But the Muslims have so thoroughly rewritten history to fit their agenda that even a top religious leader like Hussein can assert that “each floor of the holy city, every remnant of the city, and every centimeter attest to the fact that it is an Arab and Islamic city, whose roots lie deep in history and culture.”

Two days earlier, Friday prayers at the Al-Aqsa Mosque were led by Sheikh Ismail Nawahada, who likewise rejected any historical Jewish connection to Jerusalem, and insisted that it was forbidden for Muslims to cooperate with the Jews in their “conquest” of the city.

Source: israeltoday.co.il/Default.aspx?nid=29896&tabid=178

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Turkey pursuing triple aim in debate over Mosul

October 24, 2016

Turkey is looking to kill a number of birds with one stone amid its recent insistence on participating in the offensive on Mosul, according to a Turkish professor of international relations. Regional, anti-terror and domestic considerations are all at play, according to Hasan Köni

Turkey is attempting to accomplish three aims at once in flexing its muscles during the offensive to retake Mosul from jihadists, according to international relations scholar Hasan Köni.

Turkey wants to be involved during the possible redesign of the region in any post-jihadist period, while also moving against the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and gaining nationalist votes at home, Köni said.

What is this recent debate about the National Pact (Misak-ı Millî) regarding the lands that those who led the Turkish War of Independence wished to see in a new Turkey?

From 1919, Turks started fighting inside Anatolia. By the end of the World War I, Russia had become the Turks’ ally. There was a debate on the new borders. It was impossible to get the former Ottoman lands back. A parallel state was formed in Anatolia and debates started on what the new borders of this new state should be. 

An area was designated that included Mosul, Sulaymaniyah and Kirkuk, extending north of Lake Van until the Black Sea. So they [Mustafa Kemal Atatürk and his comrades-in-arms] said that if we can save and liberate these lands, this is our nation; let us say our oath for that. So this was called the National Pact.

The war continued with the Greeks [who occupied western Turkey], with the British offering support behind the scenes. As Turks started to win the war, forces were dispatched to Mosul. But the British defeated the Turkish forces. So Turkey could not get back Mosul by force.

At that time, the Lausanne Peace Conference started. Turkey’s position was to keep Mosul, Kirkuk and Sulaymaniyah, arguing that the Kurdish and Turkish populations lived in these provinces and that Kurds and Turks were inseparable.

But this argument ended with the Kurdish uprising in 1925. Turks were told, “Kurds don’t want to be with you.” Turkey’s warring strength was limited; so Mosul was left to Iraq with a treaty signed in 1926. And the chapter was closed.

Has there been a feeling ingrained among Turks for generations that we lost Mosul due to great injustices and that we could have become a much bigger power had we kept Mosul?

All countries have certain imaginations that harbor great hopes for the future. Greater Israel, or a great Turkish Empire extending to Central Asia, which was among the aspirations of Talat Pasha.

That keeps societies’ hopes toward the future alive.

Has Lausanne been presented as a great success in the Turkish education system?

The opponents of the Lausanne Treaty claim that those who established the current system [the republic, based on parliamentary democracy] did not succeed.

But one needs to look at what the capacity was and what was possible with that capacity. In politics, however, it is like free shooting.

In order to establish a new regime, you need to criticize the old one. To defend the new system, you need to say the former one was bad. So now there is rhetoric about the shortcomings of Lausanne. When you need to mobilize the public, you designate certain aspirations toward the future to boost hopes; whether you can fulfill these aspirations or not is another question.

So today we are being told that targets set in 1920 were not reached, like Mosul. But what we ended up with that time was a success when you take into consideration the limits on the power of the country. It is very classical to bring to the agenda the failures of the old system.

Is the loss of Mosul a bleeding wound in the subconscious of Turks?

The reason why this feeling has been on the rise is the fact that the global economy has developed over energy. We don’t mourn over Damascus for instance.

Why Mosul? It is because of the oil. They look at the richness of the Saudis and think: “We could have been more powerful than the Saudis. If these tribes have become so rich, if we had the oil and together with an imperial culture, think of what could have happened.” From the 2000s on, the feeling of “We could have been the leader of the Sunnis if we had oil” also started to develop. But with the new treaty signed on climate change, the business of oil is coming to the end.

But is there any framework within which we can claim to be involved in Mosul?

There is a perception that the Middle East is being redesigned and that Iraq and Syria’s territorial integrity and unity will be compromised.

With Russia supporting Syria and Iran having become so involved in Iraq, there is a feeling of “how can we benefit from the situation? Maybe we can also grab something. If Syria and Iraq will disintegrate, can we get a share?”

In addition to that, there is also the plan to strike a blow at the PKK [outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party] with such a forward move; we did not get Mosul, but can we go to the regions where the PKK is concentrated and eliminate it.

The third dimension is domestic; can we get the votes of the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) constituency by fueling these hopes and images when talks have intensified on the presidential system? It’s an approach based on a triple target.  It’s good for the inside and good for the outside.

Turkey still says it favors the territorial integrity of both Syria and Iraq; do you think this has changed? Do you think Iraq and Syria will disintegrate?

Although it is not being voiced in the official rhetoric at the state level, it is a conviction that is gaining predominance. When it comes to whether this will happen or not … there is an environment that keeps changing. But looking from a wider perspective, let’s suppose the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) has been eliminated and there is peace. The country that would feel the most danger will be Israel. That means we would need new scenarios. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is at the root of all the disasters that have come since 1948. If ISIL goes, what will be the new scenario? Since the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has not ended, there will be a need for another structure that will create problems. Suppose there is a Kurdish structure that will preoccupy Turkey, Syria, Iraq and Iran, and no one will care about how many Palestinians die. What is horrific is that the military of a country that was wounded by the [failed coup of] July 15 can enter Syria and meet no resistance until Dabiq. It sseems the wrong image of ISIL was projected. It seems ISIL was a paper tiger.

But isn’t natural for the government to take action when there are regional developments taking place that will have direct consequences on the country?

Turkey’s rhetoric needs to match its capability. The idea behind the policy might be right, but what is being said is beyond the capability. If you can send a force of 100,000 soldiers, then you can say, “I am coming and I will have a say.” With 600 [Turkish] soldiers in Bashiqa, then it’s just rhetoric.

If Turkey cannot remain idle while crucial developments are taking place and it has limited capacity, how should it act?

What Turkey is doing is what a middle-size country does; using the balance of power in the region. It has reconciled with Russia; that enabled Turkey to enter Syria. Russia has asked Turkey to convince al-Nusra to leave Aleppo, which will stay in the hands of the [Syrian] regime. In exchange, Turkey is asking for tacit support for its offensive against the PKK, which for Moscow is less important when compared with the threat radical Islamists pose to Russia.

On the other hand, the government also realizes that the United States does not want to lose Turkey. So there is an effort to benefit from the regional balances, to see if it can get something regionally while consolidating its power domestically. And in these circumstances it won’t seek peace with the PKK.

Source: hurriyetdailynews.com/turkey-pursuing-triple-aim-in-debate-over-mosul.aspx?pageID=238&nID=105268&NewsCatID=352

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Iraq denies Turkey taking part in Mosul operation

October 23, 2016

Iraq's joint operations command on Oct. 24 denied Turkey was participating in military operations to retake the northern city of Mosul from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) group.

"The spokesman of the Joint Operations Command denies Turkish participation of any kind in operations for the liberation of Nineveh," a statement said, referring to the Iraqi province of which Mosul is the capital.

Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım told reporters on Oct. 23 that Turkish troops stationed outside Mosul had provided support "with artillery, tanks and howitzers" following a request by Kurdish peshmerga forces.

Thousands of peshmerga forces are currently involved in a massive push in the Bashiqa area northeast of Mosul, where Turkey has a military base.

The forces of the autonomous Kurdish region, whose leader has close ties with Turkey, have complained recently that the US-led coalition's air support as insufficient.

Turkey had repeatedly stated it wanted a part in the massive operation to retake Mosul, the ISIL group's last major stronghold in Iraq.

Turkish presence in northern Iraq is not new but reinforcement sent to the Bashiqa base last year sparked the ire of parts of Iraq public opinion and of dominant Shiite parties.

AFP reporters on the front line near Bashiqa saw artillery fire emanating from the Turkish base and targeting ISIL positions on several occasions since the offensive started a week ago.

Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi is under domestic pressure not to be seen as tolerating the presence on his soil of troops from a country many in Iraq see as having abetted the rise of the jihadist group.

US Defence Secretary Ashton Carter visited Baghdad on on Oct. 22 and Arbil, the Kurdish capital, on Oct. 23.

He had suggested before his visit to Iraq that Turkey should be given a role in the Mosul offensive, Iraq's biggest military operation in years.

But speaking after a meeting with Carter, Abadi swiftly rejected the idea.

"I know that the Turks want to participate... We tell them 'thank you, this is something the Iraqis will handle and the Iraqis will liberate Mosul'," he said.

Source: hurriyetdailynews.com/iraq-denies-turkey-taking-part-in-mosul-operation-.aspx?pageID=238&nID=105285&NewsCatID=352

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No Turkish troops to be sent to Mosul: Ankara

October 24, 2016

Turkey is not taking part in ground operation for the liberation of Mosul in Iraq, although Ankara has been in talks with the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) to declare a safe haven in the north of the country, Turkey’s prime minister said.

“There are air and ground units in the coalition forces. Turkey will take part in the air units,” Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım said. 

He added that no member in the international anti-ISIL coalition was directly involved in the Mosul operation but that the U.S. was providing logistical support.     

Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu also ruled out the participation of Turkish troops in the operation to retake Iraq’s second city from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). Speaking to journalists at a Justice and Development Party (AKP) members’ meeting in Afyonkarahisar on Oct. 22, he said special forces could be used to support local fighters in the Mosul offensive.     

“The land operation must be conducted by the [Iraqi] army instead of different groups. It is out of the question for Turkey or other countries to join in the land operation,” he said. “There are Peshmerga fighters that Turkey has trained and there are Nineveh forces among them. If needed, our special forces can of course join to support the local fighters.”     

Çavuşoğlu said Turkey was “currently backing the operation with air support,” but did not elaborate on the role of its power over the operation. Yıldırım also added that they planned to contain the possible refugee influx within the borders of Iraq by forming a safe haven in northern Iraq.

“The Iraqi Kurdish administration is aware of the importance for cooperation on this matter and they are ready to work with Ankara,” Yıldırım said. “We have troops both near Arbil and on the Iraqi side of the Hakkari-Şırnak border region. There are special units deployed there.”

Turkey and the KRG will establish a safe have in northern Iraq to secure the region against the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and contain a possible refugee influx, Yıldırım said in a television interview on late Oct. 22. “What we have done in Syria, will be done in Iraq,” he said.

“Declaring a safe haven in the region is required and desired by Turkey and the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) because, there is a common threat, the PKK, which is a threat to both Turkey and northern Iraq,” he said.

The prime minister also said the KRG and Turkey would further develop cooperation as the Iraqi Kurds are also uncomfortable with the PKK’s presence in the Sinjar region.

“Turkey will not remain a spectator on issues that threaten its security,” said Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Oct. 22. “They say ‘Don’t go to al-Bab.’ We are obliged to; we will go there,” Erdoğan said in of Bursa. “We have to prepare a region freed of terror.” Erdoğan also reiterated that if coalition powers would be willing to act jointly, Turkey would do “whatever is necessary in Raqqa” against ISIL.

Source: hurriyetdailynews.com/no-turkish-troops-to-be-sent-to-mosul-ankara.aspx?pageID=238&nID=105263&NewsCatID=352

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Turkey’s ruling party completes proposal on presidency: PM

October 23, 2016

The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) has finalized preparations for a draft of a constitutional amendment, which will change the country’s parliamentary system to an executive presidency, Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım said on Oct. 23.

“We have finalized our work on both the new constitution and on the presidential [system]. We have made sufficient discussions both in parliament and by the public. We’ll bring our proposal to parliament as soon as possible,” Yıldırım said addressing the deputies in his closing speech at the AKP camp.

The government will go to a popular referendum on whether the parliament should adopt new charter draft with 367 votes or agrees to go for public opinion on 330 votes, he said.

So that Turkey will end “system debate and use its energy for its future,” Yıldırım said.

Members of the AKP met in the western province of Afyon last weekend, with focusing mostly on work related to the proposed executive presidency. President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has long sought a presidency that has greater executive power.

Turkey’s presidential term will be five years in a new planned constitution, Yıldırım said during a televised interview on Oct. 22.

He praised the leader of Turkey’s opposition the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) Devlet Bahçeli for his support of a referendum on a proposed presidential system.       

“Mr. Devlet Bahçeli sometimes makes this kind of breakthrough. This breakthrough opens every time the doors for the solution of a country’s issues become an insolvable issue.” Yıldırım said.  

The prime minister also commented on the parliamentary election in the new constitution, saying deputies could also be elected to five-year terms.  “We have not gone into the content, but we think that the parliamentary elections should be for five-year terms,” he said.   

Yıldırım formed a team of deputies and ministers to work on the charter amendment with. The team informed the AKP about the process and details.

After the consultation camp in Afyon, the charter will be introduced to two of the opposition parties in parliament, the Republican People’s Party (CHP) and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), as the AKP has refused to work with the third largest party in parliament, the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP).

After the bilateral discussions with the two opposition parties, AKP will submit the draft to parliament. The AKP officials have indicated that the party anticipates a referendum on the draft in April following an approval in parliament set to be done in January.

The draft will include 12 to 15 articles outlining the presidential model that the party will present to the public.

Constitutional change, in particular, the call for a presidential system, has been on the political agenda since President Erdoğan, the former prime minister, was elected as Turkey’s president in August 2014.

The 2014 election was the first time a Turkish president was directly chosen by popular vote.

The discussion on the presidential system was revived after Bahçeli suggested going to a referendum, to let the people decide if Turkey should change its administrative model.

Changing to a presidential system is opposed by Turkey’s two other parliamentary parties, CHP and HDP, and the AKP lacks the super-majority in parliament needed to make the change without submitting it to a referendum.

The AKP, with 316 seats in parliament, needs the support of the 40-seat MHP to take any constitutional amendment to a referendum.

Source: hurriyetdailynews.com/turkeys-ruling-party-completes-proposal-on-presidency-pm.aspx?pageID=238&nID=105280&NewsCatID=338

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Palestinians arrest four for attending Jewish celebration

October 24, 2016

RAMALLAH: Four Pales­t­i­nians have been detained for attending a Jewish holiday celebration in a West Bank settlement, according to Palestinian officials.

A senior Palestinian security official said on Sunday that “any Palestinian cooperation with settlers is viewed as violating the law, as he cooperates with the enemy.”

The Palestinians, along with the international community, object to Israeli settlements in the West Bank and east Jerusalem areas captured by Israel in the 1967 Mideast war. The Palestinians seek both territories as parts of a future independent state, a position that has wide international backing. With nearly 600,000 Israelis now living in settlements on occupied lands, the Palestinians say their goal of establishing an independent state alongside Israel is rapidly vanishing.

While Palestinians see settlements as illegal, thousands of Palestinian labourers in the economically depressed West Bank continue to work in menial jobs in the Israeli communities.

The security official said the government is aware of labourers who have no choice but to work in settlements to support their families.

Source: dawn.com/news/1291879/palestinians-arrest-four-for-attending-jewish-celebration

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Middle East will get democracy eventually: Senior Turkish diplomat

October 24, 2016

Democracy will ultimately come to the Middle East in spite of the issues that the region is facing at present, Turkey’s former ministry undersecretary, Feridun Sinirlioğlu, has said after recently becoming Turkey’s permanent representative at the United Nations.

“We also see that this multicultural region needs a secular and democratic future on the basis of freedom of religion and belief,” Sinirlioğlu recently told daily Hürriyet.

“The Arab Spring, which started in 2011, also began with the same demand. People were demanding democracy. Democracy and secularism both remained on the agenda. At the beginning, this process created a mood of optimism … But right after, great pessimism appeared. Both optimism and pessimism were the wrong approach,” he said.

Suggestions that the region’s culture does not accord with democracy are wrong, if not racist, Sinirlioğlu said.

“The process of finding common ground with democracies in the southern and eastern Mediterranean, which began in 2011, and the northern Mediterranean will continue. But the Middle East will eventually get a secular democracy established as a reflection of the people’s consent and will. This process may take time. We should not forget that the democratization process in Eastern Europe took 10 years after the Cold War. We should be patient about some of our expectations and we should not lose sight of the target,” he added.

Sinirlioğlu also said it was Iraq that invited Turkey to the Bashiqa training camp in the country against militants from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).

The topic has recently become an issue of contention between Ankara and Baghdad.

“Iraq’s defense minister and Iraq prime minister demanded help from Turkey to train and arm local elements in the region against the ISIL threat, despite the claims by Iraq. This demand was also expressed to me. The Bashiqa camp was founded within this framework. Moreover, the salary of the people who were trained there was paid by the Iraqi Defense Ministry after the camp was founded. This process continued for three-four months. After that, an unnecessary reaction erupted for some reason. We maintained our cooperation and dialogue with the Iraqi government despite their reaction. We met twice with them to troubleshoot as part of our undersecretariat. A third meeting occurred at the beginning of last week in Baghdad,” he said.

Sinirlioğlu began his tenure on Oct. 21 after presenting his credentials to the U.N.’s outgoing secretary-general, Ban Ki-moon.

In a meeting at U.N. headquarters in New York, Ban greeted Sinirlioğlu with the Turkish greeting “Merhaba” and congratulated him on beginning his term.

Sinirlioğlu, who replaced Halit Çevik in June, is a career diplomat with vast experience in Turkish foreign policy.

Sinirlioğlu served as undersecretary at the Foreign Ministry for seven years. He also briefly assumed the role of foreign minister last year ahead of snap elections.

Source: hurriyetdailynews.com/middle-east-will-get-democracy-eventually-senior-turkish-diplomat.aspx?pageID=238&nID=105282&NewsCatID=359

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Turkish artillery units shelling ISIL in Bashiqa: PM Yıldırım

October 23, 2016

Turkish artillery units are shelling the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) jihadist group in Bashiqa near Mosul, Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım said Oct. 23, hours after U.S. Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter visited the Bashiqa military camp.

The Turkish shelling on the jihadist group came at the request of Peshmerga forces, Yıldırım told reporters in the Aegean province of Afyonkarahisar.

The Peshmarga  fighters said they had taken Bashiqa from ISIL as coalition forces pressed their offensive against the jihadists’ last stronghold in Iraq.

Masoud Barzani, President of the Iraqi Kurdish region, told U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter that the Kurds had succeeded in liberating Bashiqa from ISIL.

Peshmerga fighters told reporters at the scene that they had entered Bashiqa. Journalists were not being allowed into the town, which lies 12 kilometers to the northeast of Mosul.

Ankara and Baghdad have been at odds over the Turkish training camp near Bashiqa with the Iraqi administration calling on Turkey to leave the area.

The Bashiqa town’s capture, if confirmed, would mark the removal of one more obstacle on the road to the northern Iraqi city.

The top U.S. commander in Iraq, Army Lieutenant General Stephen Townsend, said his own information - while limited - “suggests that President Barzani is right, that there has been a considerable success at Bashiqa.”

But he added: “I have not received a report that says every house has been cleared, every Daesh [ISIL] has been killed and every IED [roadside bomb] has been removed.”

Source: hurriyetdailynews.com/turkish-artillery-units-shelling-isil-in-bashiqa-pm-yildirim.aspx?pageID=238&nID=105278&NewsCatID=352

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South Asia

Islamabad reportedly asked Taliban to join peace talks or leave Pakistan

Mon Oct 24 2016

The Taliban leaders based in Pakistan have reportedly been asked to join peace talks or leave the country along with the family members.

“The squeeze is continuing on them [the Taliban] and some have already left, or [are] leaving the country,” a senior Pakistani official

told VOA in background interview.

According to the report, the latest crackdown by Islamabad has forced the Taliban leaders based in Qatar to send a delegation to

Islamabad to take up the issue with Pakistani officials.

Earlier, reports emerged that the Taliban delegation had visited Islamabad to brief the Pakistani officials regarding the secret

informal talks between the group and Afghan officials.

There were also reports suggesting that the Taliban delegation visited Islamabad to discuss the issue of Afghan refugees which sparked

furor among the Afghan officials who said such issues do not relate to Taliban militants group.

The officials also slammed the group for being dependent and having no authority to decide regarding the issue of reconciliation.

This comes as the Afghan officials have long been critizing Pakistan for allowing the Taliban group leaders to use its soil for

executing attacks in Afghanistan which causes most of the casualties to the ordinary Afghan civilians.

However, Pakistan has repeatedly rejected the allegations although Pakistan’s foreign affairs adviser Sartaj Aziz admitted earlier this

year that the country has influence on the group and could use certain leverages to force the group to join peace talks.

Source: khaama.com/islamabad-reportedly-asked-taliban-to-join-peace-talks-or-leave-pakistan-02133

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9 ISIS militants killed in air and ground raids in East of Afghanistan

Mon Oct 24 2016

At least 9 loyalists of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) terrorist group were killed in separate operations in eastern Nangarhar province of Afghanistan.

The provincial government media office in a statement said at least 4 militants were killed during an operation by the Afghan forces in Pacher Agam district.

In the meantime, the Ministry of Defense (MoD), said at least 5 militants were killed during an airstrike in the same district.

He said a compound belonging to the loyalists of the terror group was targeted in the airstrike which destroyed in the raid.

The loyalists of the terror group have not commented regarding the report so far.

This comes as the local officials said Saturday at least 54 loyalists of the terror group were killed during a large scale operation launched in this province.

Nangarhar is among the relatively volatile provinces in eastern Afghanistan where both the Taliban insurgents and militants loyal to ISIS terrorist group are actively operating.

Both the Afghan forces and the US forces in Afghanistan are conducting regular raids against the Taliban insurgents and ISIS loyalist in the districts where they are conducting insurgency activities.

The US forces increased airstrikes against the Taliban insurgents and ISIS loyalists earlier this year after the Obama administration granted a broader role to the American forces.

Source: khaama.com/9-isis-militants-killed-in-air-and-ground-raids-in-east-of-afghanistan-02132

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Taliban attack foiled near Vice President Dostum’s compound in Faryab

Sun Oct 23 2016

The Afghan security forces targeted a group of Taliban militants in Ghormach district of Faryab as they were planning to launch an attack near the compound of Vice President General Abdul Rashid Dostum.

The Office of the First Vice President in a statement said the operation was conducted late on Saturday night.

The statement further added that the Taliban insurgents were forced to leave the area after the operation was launched and the group’s militants have suffered casualties in the gun battle.

No further details were given regarding the exact number of Taliban casualties but the Office of the First Vice President said numerous documents including identity cards and Pakistani passports as well as job descriptions were confiscated from the area.

This comes as Taliban militants ambushed Vice President Dostum as he was accompanying a convoy of the security forces on the way to Ghormach district that fell to Taliban control last week.

Initial reports indicated the First Vice President sustained a minor injury in the attack as it was confirmed by CEO Abdullah but the office of the Chief Executive released a statement late on Monday and said Gen. Dostum did not suffer any injury, emphasizing that CEO

Abdullah made the remarks during the Ministers’ Council meeting based on inappropriate and initial reports.

This is not the first time Gen. Dostum has came under attack by Taliban militants or has escaped assassination plot by the group.

Gen. Dostum first joined the Afghan security forces in the frontline in northern Faryab province earlier in the month of August last year where he survived at least two assassination plots by the anti-government armed militant groups while he was leading counter-terrorism operations.

Initially his convoy was ambushed by the Taliban in militants in Qaisar district in mid August 2015 while another plot to assassinate him was thwarted by the security forces and his special security guards few days later.

At least three suicide bombers were arrested from the vicinity of Gen. Dostum’s residence in Qaisar district in connection to the attack plot last year.

Source: khaama.com/taliban-attack-foiled-near-vice-president-dostums-compound-in-faryab-02131

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Crackdown not enough: Bangladesh needs to neutralise sources of militant support

24th October 2016

On October 8, 2016, in a series of anti-militancy crackdowns, 12 Jama'atul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) militants were killed in Gazipur, Tangail and Dhaka districts. Seven of them were killed in the Harinal area under Gazipur city of Gazipur district in Operation Spate 8 conducted jointly by a Counter Terrorism and Transnational Crime (CTTC) unit, a Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) team and the Gazipur police.

Two others were killed during an operation by a Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) at a JMB den in Lebubagan area of Gazipur district. In another raid carried out by the RAB, two other militants were killed in a three-storey building in the Mirzamath area of Tangail town in Tangail district. Separately, in Dhaka district, Nazmul Haque alias Abdur Rahman, the financier of JMB, died after he jumped off from his flat in the fourth floor to flee during a raid by the RAB.

According to partial data collected by the Institute for Conflict Management, since the July 1, 2016, Gulshan attack on a cafe, a total of 41 JMB terrorists have been killed and 80 others have been arrested across Bangladesh in different raids (data till October 17, 2016). Prominent among those killed were: 'financier' Nazmul Haque alias Abdur Rahman, 'military commander' of the northern region Ripon alias Golam Tareque alias Abu Ibrahim (29), mastermind of Gulshan attack Tamim Ahmed Chowdhury, 'military commander' Murad alias Jahangir Alam alias Omar alias Major Shaheb.

The JMB was founded in 1998 by Sheikh Abdur Rahman, with the objective of establishing Islamic rule in Bangladesh and to replace the current state and constitution. It opposes the existing political system and seeks to "build a society based on the Islamic model laid out in Holy Quran-Hadith." It opposes democracy, socialism as well as cultural functions, cinema halls, shrines and NGOs. The government did not realize the gravity of JMB's agenda until the terror group triggered a countrywide serial bombing on August 17, 2005. A staggering 459 explosions had occurred in 63 of Bangladesh's 64 districts (excluding Munshiganj) killing three and injuring more than 100 people.

In the crackdown that followed, according to an estimate of the police headquarters, a total of 160 cases were filed across the country and 1,157 JMB leaders and cadres were named as accused. Of these, 960 were arrested. Remarkably, two top leaders of the group, Sheikh Abdur Rahman and Sidiqul Islam alias Bangla Bhati, were executed on March 30, 2007. That was the end of the JMB's first phase.

Before the crackdown, the JMB was led by a seven-member Majlis-e-Shura, comprising its top leadership, including Abdur Rahman and Bangla Bhai. The group had 16 'regional commanders' and 64 'district heads', besides hundreds of 'operational commanders'.

The cadre was organized in three tiers. The first tier was known as Eshar, where the 200 members were full-timers and reported directly to the central committee. The second tier was Gayeri Easher and had about 10,000 members. The third tier was Sathis or Sudhis consisting of younger foot soldiers.

For operational requirements, the group divided the country into nine divisions - one division each in Khulna, Barisal, Sylhet and Chittagong, two each in Dhaka and Rajshahi. The JMB also had a suicide squad called Shahid Nasirullah Arafat Brigade. The members had an 'insurance policy' from the group.

The JMB took only nine years to reorganise. This time, the born-again militant outfit, Neo JMB, as called by law enforcers, is far more radicalized and fearsome. The Neo JMB is now inspired by the ideology of Islamic State (IS), skilled in modern technology and equipped with sophisticated firearms capable of causing damage more than the old JMB which a decade ago carried out suicide bombing and synchronized blasts across the country.

Emerging in 2014, the Neo JMB drew law enforcers' attention only after committing Bangladesh Commerce Bank Limited (BCBL) robbery in Ashulia, a suburban area near Dhaka city on April 21, 2015, leaving eight people dead. The Neo JMB is responsible for the July 1, 2016, Gulshan attack in which 20 hostages, including 17 foreigners, was killed. The armed attack launched near the historic Sholakia Eidgah on July 7, 2016, leading to the death of two policemen, a housewife and a militant, was also an act of Neo JMB.

Notably, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina who has consolidated Bangladesh's secular commitments reining in the Islamist extremist groups during a visit to Dhakeshwari National Temple in Dhaka city on October 8, 2016, said: "Our government has always taken stern action against terrorism and militancy and would continue to curb the twin demons with an iron hand.... There would be no place for terrorism and militancy on Bangladesh's soil."

Earlier on September 3, 2016, asking the terrorists and militants to surrender or face dire consequences, Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan said: "If you do not give yourself up to the law enforcement agencies, you will face what your accomplices have experienced in the immediate past operations."

Indeed, the re-surfacing of JMB in the form of Neo-JMB, mainly consisting of tech-savvy youngsters, has surprised Bangladesh's security forces, who are finding it difficult to detect their motives and future plans. No doubt, Bangladesh's law-enforcement agencies have neutralized a number of hardcore JMB militants who posed a serious security threat to the country. Despite the successes, law enforcers must be on their guard as the militant groups are still gaining fresh recruits.

Law enforcers should address how these organisations are being funded as the weapons collected from the dead militants suggest that they continue to receive substantial external assistance. If the source of their support can be identified and neutralized, the security forces can deal a substantial blow to their activities.

Source: newindianexpress.com/nation/2016/oct/24/crackdown-not-enough-bangladesh-needs-to-neutralise-sources-of-militant-support-1531266.html

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'Links to Militancy': S'pore deports 6 Bangladeshis

24th October 2016

Singapore has recently deported six more Bangladeshis for their suspected involvement in militancy.

Later on October 17, they were arrested by the Counter Terrorism and Transnational Crime unit of the Dhaka Metropolitan Police at the BRTC Bus Depot in the capital's Motijheel area. They were held while “inviting” locals to join militancy. Six to seven of their cohorts, however, fled, said police.

The arrestees are Hossain Kabir alias Rubel, 36, his brother Hasarul Kabir alias Rasel, 34, Mohiuddin, 37, Afzal Hossain, 35, Shahadat Hossain, 23, and Rakibul Islam, 23.

A case was filed against them with Motijheel Police Station after their arrest.

Later on, a Dhaka court placed each of them on a six-day remand.

With the arrest of the six Bangladeshis, police in the last one year arrested 37 migrant workers deported by the Singapore authorities for their suspected link with militancy.

Police could not say exactly when the six were sent back home from Singapore.

According to the case statement, all the arrestees had been in Singapore as migrant workers and they admitted that they were members of a militant outfit.

While in Singapore, they used to meet every Sunday evening in areas having high Muslim populations and tried to motivate and recruit people for carrying out militant activities in Bangladesh.

They also used to collect funds, spread jihadist propaganda, sermons and videos among people there, said police, quoting the case statement.

When the Singapore police learnt about their activities, they detained and deported the six Bangladeshis, telling them that they would never be allowed to enter Singapore again.

After coming back, instead of going to their village homes, they stayed in Dhaka and reorganised to continue their covert activities to establish a sharia-based state in Bangladesh.

On April 29, Singapore deported five Bangladeshis for their suspected militant links.

Back then, the Singapore authorities had said the five were investigated as part of a crackdown on the so-called Islamic State of Bangladesh (ISB), and it was found that “they possessed and/or proliferated jihadi-related materials, or supported the use of armed violence in pursuit of a religious cause”.

However, their involvement in the ISB was not found, according to Singapore's home affairs ministry.

On May 3, law enforcers arrested them from the capital's Banasree area over their suspected militant links, and filed a case against them under the anti-terrorism act.

Between November 16 and December 1 last year, the Singapore authorities arrested 27 Bangladeshi construction workers for “supporting armed jihad ideology of terrorist groups such as Islamic State (IS) and al-Qaeda”.

Of them, 26 were deported to Bangladesh. On December 21, police arrested 14 of them finding their links with militancy and kept the rest under surveillance.

Officials of the Detective Branch of police then said the deportees had no links to the IS or al-Qaeda, but 14 of them had ties with banned local militant outfit Ansarullah Bangla Team (ABT) and its detained spiritual leader Jasim Uddin Rahmani.

On July 12, a Singapore court jailed four Bangladeshi workers for two to five years for financing terrorism.

Meanwhile, amid arrest and expulsion of several expatriate Bangladeshis from Singapore on militancy connection, Singapore's Senior Minister of State of Ministry of Defence and Foreign Affairs Dr Mohamad Maliki will arrive in Dhaka today to discuss security and militancy.

Source: thedailystar.net/backpage/links-militancy-spore-deports-6-bangladeshis-1303450

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Afghan Taliban discuss Kabul talks with Pakistan

October 22, 2016

Islamabad: At least three Afghan Taliban members have met officials here to discuss recent secret talks with Kabul held in Qatar, a Pakistani official said on Saturday.

An Afghan diplomat as well as a Taliban member also confirmed the Friday meeting after the peace process, started in 2013, broke down following the death of Taliban founder Mullah Omar’s successor, Mullah Akhtar Mansour, News International reported.

Afghan ambassador to Pakistan Hazrat Omar Zakhilwal said he was aware of the meetings but refused to offer details.

Islamabad is playing its role to ensure peace in Afghanistan, said the Pakistani official who confirmed the meetings between the Taliban and Pakistani authorities.

“We will keep making efforts to facilitate talks between Kabul and the Taliban as we did in July last year but the world knows who scuttled the peace process at the time and we do not want to discuss those bitter things,” the Pakistani official said.

The two rounds of talks are the first known negotiations to have taken place since a Pakistan-brokered process broke down late in May following Mansour’s death in a US drone strike in Pakistan.

Source: siasat.com/news/afghan-taliban-discuss-kabul-talks-pakistan-1047522/

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China to deliver 2 transport planes to Afghan Air Force

Mon Oct 24 2016

China is due to hand over two transport planes to the Afghan Air Force months after the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF) received the first batch of military aid from the country.

Officials in the Ministry of Defense of Afghanistan (MoD) have said the planes will be used for the transportation of the Afghan army officials and delegates.

MoD spokesman Dawlat Waziri said the delivery of the planes will play a key role as the Afghan Air Force needs the planes for the transportaion of the army officials on official trips inside and outside the country.

No further details were given regarding the exact date of the delivery of the planes and the type of the aircraft China would deliver to the Afghan army.

Afghanistan received the first batch of military aid from China earlier in the month of July which followed as the country has been attempting to increase role in supporting in Afghanistan amid deteriorating security situation.

Earlier China’s Chief of Army earlier pledged over $70 million to help support and equip the Afghan security forces.

During his visit to Afghanistan earlier in March, Chief of China’s People’s Liberation Army Mr. Fang Fenghui, announced the fresh military aid, saying the latest aid will follow besides Beijing’s ongoing cooperation in development and economic sector.

Gen. Fenghui also added that China will call a regional summit to implement the proposal by President Ghani during Shanghai conference for fight against terrorism.

Reiterating China’s commitment to fight terrorism in the region, Gen. Fenghui said Afghanistan is located in a strategic location and acts as an important economic belt, which is continuously threatened by the terror groups.

Source: khaama.com/china-to-deliver-2-transport-planes-to-afghan-air-force-02135

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MoD reacts towards Taliban’s drone video showing Helmand suicide attack

Mon Oct 24 2016

The Ministry of Defense of Afghanistan (MoD) reacted towards Taliban’s drone video which purportedly shows an attack on a security forces base in southern Helmand province.

MoD spokesman Dawlat Waziri said the enemies of the country are attempting to hide their defeat by publishing such videos.

He said the Afghan army forces have not detected the drone cameras used by the Taliban militants, emphasizing that such drones will not pose any threat to the Afghan armed forces.

Waziri further added that the drones can not cover longer distances and can be shot down with the small arms.

The Taliban militants released the footage of the attack earlier this week which has been recorded in a similar manner as the Islamist groups fighting in Iraq and Syria.

The suicide bomber appears at the beginning of the 23-minute video as he calls on the Afghan forces to repent and join the group, warning that they will continue to use the equipment given by foreigners to conduct more attacks.

The video shows the bomber ramming a Humvee vehicle laden with explosives into the middle of the base and produce a cloud of smoke and dust.

Several security personnel lost their lives including the district police chief of Nawa district in the attack that was carried out earlier this month.

Source: khaama.com/mod-reacts-towards-talibans-drone-video-showing-helmand-suicide-attack-02134

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Southeast Asia

Call For Worldwide Muslim Unity In Diversity: Head Of Nahdlatul Ulema

October 24, 2016 

Jakarta—Officials from Indonesia’s largest Muslim organization have called for unity against radicalism and peaceful approaches to politics and diversity in the country.

Said Aqil Siraj, head of Nahdlatul Ulema (NU), urged all Muslims to resist groups that flout “Pancasila” — a national principle under which Indonesia’s diverse ethnicities and religions are unified — as the organization marked the country’s annual Students Day.

“Ulema has always taught a peaceful Islam. That delivers Islamic teachings which urge goodness, rather than mock it. Islam can only embrace, not hit,” he was quoted by metrotvnews.com as saying Saturday.

He warned against the influence of ISIL and other groups “that make radicalism as a basic preaching”.

Siraj was joined by other officials from NU — which has around 40 million members countrywide — in calling for unity, with some voicing concerns over hard-line groups’ opposition to Jakarta’s Christian governor, Basuki Tjahaja Purnama.

NU stressed that next year’s gubernatorial election in the capital should took place peacefully.

The organization’s volunteer coordinator, Taufik Damas, said, “we must back the constitution in the leaders’ election. NU has a commitment to care for diversity.”

Tensions have been mounting in relation to the 2017 vote over the past month, with Governor Purnama — commonly known as Ahok — defending himself against allegations by political opponents who claim he insulted the Quran.

Since Ahok was accused of insulting the Quran in a speech last month, some groups — including the Islamic Defenders Front, known for having led violent protests in the past — have held several rallies against him, the latest Friday.

“”I did not say [things] that insulted the Quran… What I said to the local people of Thousand Islands is that if you are fooled by racists and cowards using that verse in the Quran not to vote for me, then don’t vote for me,” he told kompas.com earlier this month.

On his Instagram account, he posted, “I do not intend to harass the Holy Quran, I do not like to politicize the holy verses, both the Quran, the Bible, as well as other books.”

The Front has reported Ahok — Jakarta’s first Christian ethnic Chinese governor in nearly 50 years — to the police on charges of insulting religion.

On Saturday, the NU’s East Java branch chief, Mutawakkil Alallah, said its members are free to join the protests but must not claim to be representing the organization.

“But, if [members are] taking symbols of or claiming to act on behalf of NU, strict sanctions from within the organization will be applied,” he was quoted as saying by metrotvnews.com.

In the past, the NU has advocated for the rights of both Muslims and non-Muslims to serve as leaders due to Indonesia being home to people from different religions and ethnicities.

Source: pakobserver.net/call-for-worldwide-muslim-unity-in-diversity/

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Leader of Moro Islamic Liberation Front Names Three Indonesia’s Top Terrorists

OCT 24, 2016

TEMPO.CO, Jakarta - Former leader of Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) Ali Fauzi said that Indonesia is still prone to terror attacks even though authorities have cracked down on the local terrorist cells. Ali, the younger brother of death row convicts of the first Bali bombing Ali Ghufron and Amrozi, names three top terrorists in Indonesia who are capable of building new networks: Aman Abdurrahman, Ali Kalora, and Bachrumsyah.

Aman, currently imprisoned in Nusakambangan, Cilacap, Central Java, played an important role in recent terror attacks, Ali said. Two of the attacks were launched on Solo Police Precinct by Nur Rohman and on a police outpost in Cikoko, Tangerang City, by Sultan Azianzah.

“Similar to drug trafficking, terrorism can also be controlled from prison. In this case, Aman still has a role,” Ali said in a journalism training on terrorism in Surabaya on Sunday, October 23, 2016.

Ali Fauzi also highlighted Ali Kalora, Santoso’s successor in the East Indonesia Mujahideen (MIT) in Poso, Central Sulawesi. Santoso’s real successor was Basri but he was later arrested by police, paving the way for Kalora to assume command. The East Indonesia Mujahideen has been decimated but in a guerilla war. The lesser men you have, the more difficult for you to get detected,” he said.

As for Bachrumsyah, who is may still be in Syria, Ali said he is dangerous because he is allegedly been funding a number of terror attacks in Indonesia, including a bomb attack on Jalan M.H. Thamrin, Jakarta, early this year. “Terror attacks in Solo Police Station, St Joseph Church in Medan and a police outpost in Tangerang were carried out by youth, which proves that terrorist recruitment efforts continue to be made,” he said.

Source: en.tempo.co/read/news/2016/10/24/055814528/Ali-Fauzi-Names-Three-Indonesias-Top-Terrorists

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Islam in Malaysia: When religion infiltrates the government

24th October 2016

WHAT is the role of a religious authority like the Department of Islamic Development Malaysia (Jakim) in the country? How much influence does it wield in Malaysia’s governmental and administrative affairs?

It may seem like the people in Jakim are just old wise men with long beards and a magical staffs who advise the ruler of the country – much like the magician Jaafar did in the Disney movie Aladdin.

In the case of Jaafar, he makes colourful potions and smoke screens to impress the king, using his powers to hide his sinister plans before going on to usurp the ruler’s power.

This analogy struck me when I was watching the 2017 National Budget presentation by the Prime Minister Najib Razak last Friday in Parliament.

Najib made everyone aware that he had referred to the Islamic authorities for advice on the best and, I’m assuming, the most blessed way to allocate and spend the nation’s money.

In fact, Jakim was even allocated RM1 billion (US$240 million) for the coming year. What will they be using that money for? No one really knows for sure.

The Islamic department has been busy making sure than society is free from evil and non-Islamic influence that they believe would lead Muslims astray.

The most recent was the haram declaration of the ‘Pretzel Dog’. Dogs are filthy in Islam and hence a food item named like that would be, well, filthy, according to the department. Even if the meat was beef or chicken.

Following that logic, hot dogs, root beer, beef bacon, turkey ham and the like would all be considered haram, even if the ingredients used are clean and the meat slaughtered according to Muslim rituals.

Aunty Anne's famous 'pretzel dogs'. Source: Aunty Anne's.

Aunty Anne’s famous ‘pretzel dogs’. Source: Aunty Anne’s.

In fact, there are so many other traditional Malay dishes that would be considered haram, just from the name of the dishes alone. It would just cause too much confusion.

But Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department in charge of religious affairs Jamil Khir Baharom clarified everything by saying there won’t be a ban on the name ‘Pretzel Dog’.

This is despite the fact that under the halal certification guidelines by Jakim, it does say that a name of a dish can be deemed unclean.

Yes, ridiculous as it is, Jakim has that guideline.

Aside from being vigilant to food names, Jakim has also spent a lot of time doing other things that protect the sanctity of Islam and the purity of Malaysian Muslims.

Another one of their operations is the regular review and banning of books that they deem are against the teaching of the brand of Islam that they approve of.

One can just do a Google search for the official list of books that gets banned annually. It is as long as the hard copy of Najib’s national budget speech.

Jakim has also restricted the use of the word ‘Allah’ to only Muslims. Apparently, the Arabic word for ‘God’ cannot be used by people other than Malays and Muslims.

Their reason is that Malays can easily be confused if they heard people of another religion using the word. This can lead them astray and they will became apostates without even knowing so.

Don’t get me wrong. I do not object to having bodies and agencies that work towards protecting their chosen religion. It is a basic human right to have freedom of religion.

What I am against is the fact that this one particular religion has been incorporated into a governmental system that is supposed to be secular and represent everyone regardless of faith.

It has infiltrated it so much that for many Malaysians, expressing any opinion that is just slightly against their accepted interpretation of Islam means that you are an infidel.

They are the be all and end all when it comes to religious knowledge and interpretation. Nobody should question their actions and motives – if you do, you’ll be accused of going against Islam.

For a multi-racial and multi-religious society that is far from homogenous like Malaysia, it is unhealthy and plain wrong when one religious group is allowed to impose their authority on all.

Source: asiancorrespondent.com/2016/10/islam-malaysia-religion-infiltrates-government/

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Muslims too, are against Hadi’s Bill, says Siti Kasim

October 24, 2016

KUALA LUMPUR: Activist lawyer Siti Kasim today said there was a lack of constitutional protection for Muslims in the country, especially after amendments in the Federal Constitution placing Shariah laws on par with civil law.

The outspoken lawyer said while Muslims are protected under the constitution, they could not seek redress over Islamic issues through civil laws due to the “judiciary’s lack of courage”.

“No judge would look at the case from the legal perspective. Instead they ask for the cases to be heard in Shariah courts,” she told reporters at a gathering to protest the private member’s Bill tabled by PAS President Abdul Hadi Awang to amend the Shariah Courts (Criminal Jurisdiction) Act 1965, to allow heavier penalties on Shariah offenders.

Siti led about a dozen protesters who gathered as early as 9 am outside the Parliament building, carrying placards with messages of “Islam is beautiful”, “Malays are not lackeys”, and “#RejectAct355 I’m a Muslim and I don’t support it”.

The Bill, slated for debate in the Dewan Rakyat today, has drawn criticism from civil society groups and Barisan Nasional component parties, who say it is part of PAS’ efforts to eventually introduce hudud in Kelantan.

Several Muslim groups including muftis have on the other hand urged Muslim lawmakers to support the Bill when it is put to vote.

Siti said the judiciary’s refusal to get involved in cases concerning Islam leaves Muslims at the mercy of Shariah judges.

She recalled the amendments to the Federal Constitution in the 80s, which gave Shariah courts wider powers including arresting Muslims who consume alcohol or those caught for khalwat (close proximity between different sexes).

“Those are personal sins,” added Siti.

Siti said there were many other rights of Muslims which require attention, such as problems faced by Muslim women in divorce settlements.

“Learn from the experience of other countries. Acheh, Saudi (Arabia) and Pakistan among others, are failed states,” said Siti, referring to countries with Islamic capital punishment.

“I’ve always asked for an example of a country that practises religious laws and is successful. None.

“Do we Malaysians want to head towards that direction? That’s why we Malays have to rise up. Don’t be afraid as it is not against the law to stand up for your rights,” she said.

Siti also questioned claims by PAS and others that the Bill was based on divine law.

“Let us open this up for discussions if this is really God’s law. We are not trying to destroy Islam, but to empower it.

“We want to show that Islam is beautiful, and is not merely about punishment. It’s about education and justice.”

Source: freemalaysiatoday.com/category/nation/2016/10/24/muslims-too-are-against-hadis-hudud-bill-says-siti-kasim/

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Indonesians are the 2nd most generous people in the world: Gallup poll

October 24, 2016

Sometimes people who have less, give more. That seems to be one of the lessons from a recent Gallup poll which asked people in 140 countries about their charitable spending habits to find out which country’s people were the most generous. These are the surprising results:

That’s right, Indonesia was ranked as the secound most generous country in the world. When asked if they had given to a charity in the last 30 days, a whopping 75% of Indonesians said they had, putting them above the citizens of countries with much higher average incomes such as the Netherlands, United Kingdoms and New Zealand.

But far ahead of all those countries and Indonesia is Myanmar. Despite having a per capita GDP of just USD $824 per person (compared to $3,843 per person in Indonesia and $53,000 in the United States) 91% of Burmese reported giving to charity in the last month. Some analysts speculate their their  generosity is at least partly attributable to the Buddhist principle of Sangha Dana, which teaches that giving and generosity in this life can bring you rewards in the next.

In Indonesia, the Islamic concept of zakat, or alms-giving, may be at least partially responsible for our people’s high level of generosity.

The data is based on the results of the Gallup 2016 Global Civic Engagement Report, which measures people's answers to questions about their inclination to give their time, money or assistance to others in needs. The report is based on more than 145,000 interviews with adults in 140 countries in 2015.

Source: jakarta.coconuts.co/2016/10/24/workers-protest-city-hall-demanding-increase-minimum-wage-rp-38-million-or-theyll

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North America

North Texas Muslim leader: ‘We must work together for peace.’

24 October 2016

Terrorism by extremists affects everyone, including “Muslims and non-Muslims,” leaders from the North Texas Muslim community said Sunday at a town hall-style meeting at the downtown library.

Hosted by the Institute of Quranic Knowledge and Religious Acceptance, the forum sought to create partnerships that will make the country safer.

“We go to malls. We travel by planes,” said Dr. Basheer Ahmed, a local psychiatrist and longtime advocate of improving relations among Muslims and other faiths. “When a bomb goes off, it does not distinguish between Muslims and non-Muslims.”

Representatives from the Arlington Police Department and FBI spoke about their own outreach efforts, and a pastor from University Christian Church shared stories of an interfaith group of Muslim, Christian and Jewish children.

This was the institute’s first meeting in Fort Worth, although the organization has hosted similar gatherings in Irving and Frisco. The advocacy group is dedicated to building peaceful and civic-minded communities through interfaith dialogues and social and political activity.

WHEN A BOMB GOES OFF, IT DOES NOT DISTINGUISH BETWEEN MUSLIMS AND NON-MUSLIMS.

Dr. Basheer Ahmed

Islam, which has about 1.6 billion believers, is the fastest-growing major religion, according to Pew Research Center studies. In the United States, Muslims account for 3.3 million people, about 1 percent of the population.

On Sunday, those at the meeting described the Muslim community in North Texas as successful and thriving. When Imam Moujahed Bakhach arrived here in 1983, two mosques existed in North Texas. Today, that number has soared to 86.

Yet prejudice persists, and not just from Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, who has been outspoken about banning Muslims from entering the United States. Bakhach recalled last year when armed protesters gathered outside the Islamic Center of Irving. The protest came after the Obama administration pledged to accept Syrian refugees into the United States, a move that some people saw as a way for Islamic terrorists to infiltrate the nation.

“Imagine if the opposite scenario had occurred,” Bakhach said. “What would the response have been?”

Outreach efforts are ongoing

Officials in some North Texas communities are working to strengthen relationships among law enforcement, Muslims and the greater community to promote understanding and prevent future incidents like what happened in Irving.

In Arlington, police are applying for a Homeland Security Department grant that would help officers build and improve relationships with Muslim communities. Deputy Police Chief Os Flores said the grant would complement the department’s push for stronger community policing.

ISLAM, WHICH HAS ABOUT 1.6 BILLION BELIEVERS, IS THE FASTEST-GROWING MAJOR RELIGION, ACCORDING TO PEW RESEARCH.

“Together, not separately, can we address these quality-of-life issues,” Flores said.

The FBI, too, is working to bolster its outreach with Muslims, said Richard Esler III, who serves as the agency’s liaison to the Muslim community. To be successful, he said, the FBI needs more Muslims to work as special agents and translators and in other roles.

Dedicated to ending violence

The Rev. Russ Boyd of University Christian Church said he wants children there to learn about Islam not only from social studies classrooms and religion courses, but also from Muslims their own age.

“Curiosity with each other turns into bonding with each other,” Boyd said.

Even as recent news stories have caused Muslims to worry about their own safety, attendees said they are thankful for the reception they have received in Fort Worth, which they called accepting.

Earlier this month in Kansas, three men who called themselves “crusaders” are accused of plotting to attack a mosque and apartment complex where Somali immigrants lived and worshipped.

North Texas Muslims are dedicated to helping end such violence, Ahmed said.

“There is no room in America for hate and intolerance,” he said. “We must work together for peace.”

Source: star-telegram.com/news/local/community/fort-worth/article110068357.html

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Wipe out Islamic State jihadis in Mosul AND Raqqa at the SAME TIME, says US official

Mon, Oct 24, 2016

US Secretary of Defence, Ash Carter, said he wants an assault on the ISIS stronghold in Syria as soon as possible.

He said: “We want to see an isolation operation begin around Raqqa as soon as possible.

“We are working with our partners there in Syria to do just that… There will be some simultaneity to these two operations.”

Work has already begun to retake Mosul as Iraqi and Kurdish Peshmerga forces descend on the city held by the depraved death cult since 2014.

The offensive, which is just five miles from the edge of the city, is backed by 60 countries and has delivered training to local forces in a bid to destroy ISIS.

But a fight on two fronts could be complicated due to the lack of co-operation between the Syrian government, back by Russia, and the coalition.

ISIS has desperately attempted to hold onto Mosul by striking nearby Iraqi town Rumba, killing at least seven policemen and injuring dozens more.

It comes as two people were killed and 1,000 people left sick in Mosul after Daesh set fire to a chemical plant.

The attack released huge plumes of noxious smoke over Islamic State's stronghold of Mosul, where the terror group is fighting to maintain is reign of terror.

Innocent civilians trying to flee the battlefield suffered nosebleeds and extreme coughing as they were overcome by the toxic smoke.

Coalition troops trying to prise Mosul from ISIS' evil clutches have been issued with gas masks as the jihadis were expected to use chemical weapons.

General Qusay Hamid Kadhem said: “Daesh blew up the sulphur plant two days ago and that has led to the deaths of two people among the civilians in nearby villages.

“Of course, this is affecting our planned progress.”

Source: express.co.uk/news/world/724413/Islamic-State-ISIS-Raqqa-Syria-Iraq-Daesh-Mosul-US-official-Ash-Carter-attack-two-fronts

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Pakistan

Pak urges UK to push India for talks

October 24, 2016

Islamabad [Pakistan]: Special Assistant to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Foreign Affairs, Syed Tariq Fatemi, has in his meeting with British National Security Adviser Sir Mark Lyall Grant briefed about the ongoing tensions in Kashmir and urged Britain to ask India to indulge in sustained dialogue process with Pakistan.

“The Special Assistant briefed the visiting dignitary about the current situation in Indian Occupied Kashmir. He also stressed that as a country with historic links to this region, and as a member-state of UN Security Council’s P-5, it was incumbent on Britain to urge India to end its human rights violations in the occupied territory and to enter into a sustained dialogue process with Pakistan, so as to enable the two countries to peacefully resolve their differences,” said a statement issued by the Foreign Ministry.

“Sir Mark Lyall Grant acknowledged the important role being played by Pakistan in promoting peace and stability in the region. The Minister of State also briefed the visiting dignitary about Pakistan’s serious efforts to promote lasting peace and stability in Afghanistan, including the Afghan-owned and Afghan-led reconciliation process through the Quadrilateral Coordination Group,” said the statement.

The statement further said that regional security issues and matters of mutual interest were also discussed during the meeting, adding the UK reaffirmed its continued support to Pakistan.

Source: siasat.com/news/pak-urges-uk-push-india-talks-1048385/

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Jamaat to quit govt if posts of theology teachers not restored

October 24, 2016

NOWSHERA: Jamaat-i-Islami chief Sirajul Haq on Sunday warned to quit the PTI-led coalition government in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa if posts of theology teachers in public sector schools were not restored and Urdu was not given the status of official language in accordance with the Supreme Court verdict.

Mr Haq was addressing the concluding session of his party’s two-day congregation at Azakhel Park here. A large number of people, including women, participated in the congregation.

The JI chief publicly asked senior provincial minister Inayatullah Khan to pursue the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf to appoint ‘Islamiat’ (theology) teachers in all the government schools and declare Urdu as official language else they would quit the coalition government.

He also sought to reduce the government and assemblies’ term from five years to four years like America and Britain. Justifying his demand, Mr Haq said that the rulers had been spending the first three years in corrupt practices and looting national wealth while doing nothing for people in the last two years.

He also demanded reforms in the election commission before the 2018 general elections, adding that a large number of bogus votes had been found in the voter lists.

Siraj asks Nawaz to resign over ‘Panamagate’ to avert crisis

He said that some elements changed the results for favorite candidates and parties due to lacunas in the voter lists. He also demanded ban on political parties in general elections who failed to hold intra-party election under the election commission’s supervision.

Mr Haq asked Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to resign over Panamagate to avert crisis, alleging he had undermined the ideology of Pakistan and deceived the people by terming Pakistan as ‘liberal and secular state’.

JI provincial chief Mushtaq Ahmad Khan, KP Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser, Dr Said Alam Mahsud, JUI-S leader Maulana Hamidul Haq, Shoaibuddin Kakakhel, Maulana Mohammad Taib Tahiri, Qaumi Watan Party provincial chief Sikandar Sherpao, ministers and MPAs also attended the concluding session.

The JI chief said that a specific group who served the British rule and gained huge properties and benefits was still ruling the country and looting national kitty.

He claimed his party would sweep the 2018 general elections, saying that all other parties had failed to deliver. He pledged that his party would change the system with votes and not guns.

He regretted that while Indian prime minister Narendra Modi was openly interfering in Pakistan’s affairs and claiming to have conducted surgical strike, the rulers here were talking of peace and bilateral relationship.

He urged Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to raise the issue of Indian atrocities in occupied Kashmir at the UN and other forums.

Mr Haq demanded reforms in the present judicial system, saying the judicial system had failed to deliver justice to the victims in time.

He said that the poor had no accesses to get justice in courts because they had no amount t to pay big fees of lawyers.

He said that implementation of Islamic system was panacea for all evils, adding that people would get access to justice very easily if Islamic courts were established.

The JI chief said if voted to power his party would give due share to farmers and labourers in the crop and industrial production.

He said that it was time for bringing about a change in the country. He said that girls’ education would be declared compulsory and parents failing to send their children to schools would be sent to jail.

Source: dawn.com/news/1291966/jamaat-to-quit-govt-if-posts-of-theology-teachers-not-restored

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Gunmen kill Pakistani intelligence officer, IS claim attack

Oct 24, 2016

PESHAWAR: Two gunmen on a motorcycle shot dead an intelligence officer in northwest Pakistan on Monday, police said, in an attack claimed by the Islamic State group.

Akbar Ali, an intelligence sub-inspector, was on his way to work and waiting at a bus stop near his home in Charsadda district when the gunmen opened fire, Suhail Khalid, district police chief, told AFP.

"Akbar Ali was hit by four bullets from the front and was killed on the spot," he said, adding that the attackers used a 9mm pistol and fled the scene.

The attack was later claimed by the Islamic State group in a short statement posted on Amaq, its affiliated news agency.

"Islamic State fighters have killed a Pakistan intelligence agent in the Sardaryab region... of Pakistan," it said, referring to the local area.

Pakistan's military last month admitted for the first time that the Islamic State group had a presence in the country but said it had detained hundreds of its militants and prevented them from carrying out major attacks.

The army's spokesman said its forces had foiled planned attacks by IS on embassies and Islamabad airport, but denied the group was behind an August attack on a hospital that killed 73, as it had claimed.

IS, which has struggled for traction in Pakistan in the face of competition from well-established groups, gained its first toehold in January 2015 when six Pakistani Taliban leaders switched their allegiance from Al-Qaeda.

Violence has declined in recent years following a series of military offensives in the northwest border areas as well as concerted efforts to block the militants' sources of funding.

But the remnants of militant groups are still able to carry out periodic bloody attacks, particularly in the northwest

Source: timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/pakistan/Gunmen-kill-Pakistani-intelligence-officer-IS-claim-attack/articleshow/55027989.cms

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Three MQM-London offices demolished in Hyderabad

October 24, 2016

HYDERABAD: In an accelerated pace of their action against the Muttahida Qaumi Movement-London, the Sindh Rangers demolished its three offices and carried out raids on the houses of its activists in Hyderabad on Saturday evening and Sunday.

A search operation was reportedly carried out in Gharib Nawaz Colony but no arrests were declared till late in the evening.

Soon after the arrest of MQM-A coordination committee head Prof Dr Hasan Zafar Arif and two other members, Kanwar Khalid Yunus and Amjadullah Khan, in Karachi on Saturday afternoon, the Rangers-led operation in Hyderabad was accelerated to check the party’s activities. Law-enforcers picked up Intikhab Alam and his brother, Rahil Qureshi, along with their acquaintance Tasneem Alam, from their house in Faqir ka Pir locality at around midnight intervening Saturday and Sunday. They reportedly seized some weapons on their pointation but Rangers authorities avoided sharing details of the raids and swoop.

In the meantime, a unit office and two sector offices that had remained under the use of the MQM before its split in August were demolished in the SITE area, Gharib Nawaz Colony near Parda Park (a municipal park), and the Seroghat area. Another sector office set up at a government facility near Liberty Market was got vacated. Since the Aug 22 incendiary speech made by MQM supremo Altaf Hussain, his party’s five offices in Hyderabad have been demolished.

Zafar Rajput, who was appointed the head of MQM-A’s Hyderabad zone on Oct 21 at a meeting of pro-Altaf workers held at his residence, and Momin Khan, a member of the zonal committee in the party’s organisational structure, were produced before a duty magistrate by the Hali Road police in connection with an FIR (96/16) registered against them for their alleged anti-state activities.

Sub-inspector Akram lodged the FIR on behalf of the sate against Zafar Rajput, Momin Khan and a dozen other unknown suspects who, according to the FIR, raising anti-Pakistan slogans at the party’s Parda Park sector office.

The magistrate granted bail to the two held suspects in a sum of Rs10,000 each but the area police re-arrested Momin Khan from outside the court. “Yes, he had to be detained again in view of the nature of the offence he was booked for,” said a police source who denied having picked up the other suspect, Mr Rajput, a cardiac patient, again.

Reports suggested that Mr Rajput entered the magistrate’s room but slipped away, after being let off on bail, fearing his arrest. However, there were rumours about his re-arrest which remained unverified. He could not be approached by phone to confirm or deny that he was going to hold a press conference, as suggested by some of his party colleagues.

Source: dawn.com/news/1291866/three-mqm-london-offices-demolished-in-hyderabad

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‘Pakistan is stronger than ever before,’ claims army chief Raheel Sharif

October 24, 2016

Islamabad: Amid India’s campaign to diplomatically isolate Pakistan globally on all fronts, Army Chief Gen Raheel Sharif on Sunday said Pakistan now “stands integrated” with the rest of the world than ever before. “Today Pakistan is more stronger than ever before.

Pakistan stands integrated with the rest of the world than ever before,” Raheel said, addressing the concluding ceremony of the First International PACES Competition-2016 here.

The armies of 18 countries including Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Maldives, Qatar, Australia, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Russia, Turkey and the United Kingdon participated in the first six-day World Physical Agility and Combat Efficiency System (PACES) event held in Lahore.

Following the Uri terror attack in Kashmir, India has stepped up its efforts to isolate Pakistan globally on all fronts.

The army chief further said that Zarb-e-Azb Operation against militants has brought “stability and prosperity” to Pakistan.

“Operation Zarb-e-Azb is an example of war for peace which is bringing stability and prosperity to Pakistan and the region. Today, our brave men can tell the world with pride that by eliminating terrorist networks from the far reaches of Pak-Afghan border, an environment of peace and prosperity is flourishing. Having overcome the heartless enemy, we are set to march forward on the road to progress,” he said.

Raheel further said: “Physical Agility and Combat Efficiency System of Pakistan army has proven its effectiveness during the recent fight against terrorism. Our troops confronted insurmountable challenges that called for extreme endurance and constant vigilance.

“Our success against terrorism owes immensely to the physical strength and mental robustness of our officers and men. This, coupled with sincerity of purpose and clear direction contributed heavily towards fortifying their will and morale during intense and demanding operations,” he said and added that it is the disposition of the soldier that determines the outcome of the battle.

“The Pakistan army is trained to constantly uphold its soldierly attributes of courage, character and competence to fulfil the trust reposed by the nation,” he said.

The army chief said the First International PACES Competition has been a “great success”.

“We look forward to holding such events in future as well and I am sure that we will see even larger and more diverse participation,” he said.

Source: siasat.com/news/pakistan-stronger-ever-claims-army-chief-raheel-sharif-1048454/

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Pakistan court releases 3 ‘R&AW agents’ for lack of evidence

October 23, 2016

Karachi: Three Pakistani men, alleged to be ‘spies’ of India’s external intelligence agency R&AW, have been acquitted by an anti-terrorism court in Karachi citing lack of evidence in five cases relating to carrying explosives and illegal weapons, media reported today.

Tahir, alias Lamba, Junaid Khan and Imtiaz have been booked for allegedly carrying explosive materials and unlicensed weapons in a Malir locality in April last year, Dawn reported.

Police had alleged that the men belonged to Muttahida Qaumi Movement – a Karachi-based political party claiming to represent Mohajirs (Urdu-speaking people of Sindh province) – and were trained by the Research and Analysis Wing (R&AW).

MQM is the single-largest party in Karachi and has dominated its political landscape for years, but since a “clean-up” operation began on the orders of the federal government, the political party has come under pressure.

Judge Abdul Naeem Memon of Anti-Terrorism Court-VI, who conducted the trial inside the central prison, exonerated the accused, saying the prosecution was unable to establish their cases against the accused beyond any shadow of the doubt, the report said.

There were glaring contradictions in the documentary evidence and in the testimonies of the prosecution witnesses; the court said adding that the police also conducted faulty investigations.

According to the prosecution, initially police arrested Tahir and Junaid and allegedly found explosives, weapons and hand-grenades in their custody.

They disclosed that Imtiaz, who was arrested by Rangers at MQM headquarters Nine-Zero in March 2015, had provided the explosives and asked them to keep them, it added. Later, Imtiaz was also shown arrested in the main case of explosive material. Three explosives and two illicit weapons cases were registered against them.

The court directed the jail authorities to release the three men if they were not wanted in any other criminal case.

After the arrest of the accused, SSP-Malir Rao Anwar had claimed that they were MQM men and had been trained by R&AW in India to carry out terrorist activities in the city.

The officer had also urged the federal government to ban the MQM and termed it an “anti-state” organisation. Police had not registered any case of anti-state offences against them.

Source: siasat.com/news/pakistan-court-releases-3-raw-agents-lack-evidence-1047902/

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Africa

Officers: 83 Nigerian soldiers missing in Boko Haram attack

October 23, 2016

MAIDUGURI, Nigeria — Some 83 Nigerian soldiers are missing in action since Boko Haram Islamic extremists attacked a remote military base in the northeast, senior army officers said Sunday.

The soldiers were unable to fight back and fled because Boko Haram had superior firing power, the officers told The Associated Press, speaking on condition of anonymity because they are not authorized to give information to reporters.

Morale also was low among the troops because they were being rationed to one meal a day and their allowances were being pilfered by their commanders, the officers said.

Army spokesman Col. Sani Kukasheka Usman reported last week that "some" soldiers were missing and 13 wounded when the insurgents on Oct. 17 attacked their base in Gashigar village, on the border with Niger. Usman has not responded to requests for the actual number.

Dozens of fleeing troops jumped into the Niger River and 22 were pulled from the water by soldiers from that neighboring country, officers said. Many soldiers are feared to have drowned, they said.

President Muhammadu Buhari promised to better arm Nigeria's military when he was elected in March 2015, blaming corruption for the deaths of thousands including soldiers in the 7-year-old Islamic insurgency that has killed more than 20,000 people.

Billions of dollars meant to buy arms were stolen or diverted to the presidential campaign of former President Goodluck Jonathan, according to ongoing court cases.

Military officers also are currently facing courts-martial for allegedly selling arms and ammunition to Boko Haram, indicating the corruption bedeviling the country's fight against the Islamic extremists continues despite government efforts to halt graft.

Still, the military in the past year has succeeded in dislodging the insurgents from most towns and villages where they had set up an Islamic caliphate. But the extremists continue to attack remote villages and main roads that they have mined. Nigeria's army has reported thwarting and killing several suicide bombers in the past month.

The United Nations has warned that tens of thousands among the 2.6 million people forced from their homes by the insurgency are facing famine-like conditions that already are killing children.

Source: stripes.com/news/middle-east/2.1198/officers-83-nigerian-soldiers-missing-in-boko-haram-attack-1.435482

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Nigeria: Islamic Insurance Firms to Begin Operations in Nigeria

October 24, 2016

Some new Islamic Insurance Companies (Takaful) will commence operations in the country in the next couple of months, thus becoming the first set of fully-fledged Takaful Insurance companies in the country, Leadership exclusively gathered over the weekend.

Takaful insurance guarantees profit sharing between the insurer and the policyholders, a trait that is absent in the conventional insurance business as the conventional insurer takes the whole profit made from its investment. Hence, when the three Takaful operators start operations, they are going to rival conventional insurer, especially in the grassroots where this concept would sell faster.

LEADERSHIP reliably gathered that five investors had submitted applications to the National Insurance Commission (NAICOM) to float Takaful insurance companies in the country; the regulatory body had only given approval to three of them. The remaining two applications, it was learnt, are still receiving attention from the insurance industry regulatory body.

Findings revealed that one of the three licensed Takaful insurers, Noor Takaful Insurance Company Plc, is expected to officially start operations next month (November) in Lagos, while the two others are putting finishing touches to their setup and could commence operation latest by next year.

Investigation revealed that the new insurance firms are mostly owned by foreigners, especially investors from the Middle East and Asia, who have the needed expertise in the area of Islamic insurance and had operated successfully in some other parts of the world. They are now set to use the template to operate Takaful insurance business in the country.

The local insurance firms, it was learnt, are not ready to float Islamic insurance subsidiaries because of their modus operandi, which allows profit sharing between the insured and the insurers, although some of them are operating it at a window level (having a department or product for Takaful insurance).

The likes of African Alliance Insurance, Niger Insurance Plc, among others, are operating it on a window level, following the launching of Takaful insurance guidelines in 2013 by NAICOM.

Although, there are still some misconceptions about Takaful Insurance in Nigeria, being a Muslim scheme, experts said increased awareness will correct these misconceptions.

Insider source disclosed that, currently, Takaful insurance is selling fast in the northern part of the country, with the window operators making their major profits from communities, while the three fully-fledged operators are also targeting the North and the Muslim communities for a start.

The Takaful Guideline of 2013 put the capital base of any interested party willing to float a Takaful insurance at N100million for either family or general Takaful business.

Speaking in an interview with LEADERSHIP at the weekend, the director, Authorisation and Policy, NAICOM, Mr. Plus Agboola, described Takaful insurance as a concept that will deepen insurance penetration and acceptance, especially at the grassroots, explaining that Takaful insurance is not restricted to a culture or religion.

"It is a concept that preaches sharing of risks and profits. One of the objectives of this insurance is to encourage savings. So, it's a programme that has both short and long term perspective: short term perspective because within one year, whether you have claims or not, you still share from the profit; long term perspective is that anytime you have a loss, once you are a member of that scheme, in one to 10 years' time, you will still benefit from it," he pointed out.

On how many applications the commission had received since the launch of the scheme in 2013, he said: "For window operation, we have so many applications, but for fully-fledged, we have about five applications, but we have given licences to about three."

On his part, the chairman of one of the licensed Takaful operators, Noor Takaful Insurance Plc, Ambassador Shuaibu Ahmed, explained that Takaful is about joint guarantee, whereby individuals in a community jointly guarantee themselves against any loss or damage. This function, he said, is undertaken by insurance companies whereby the insuring public transfers its financial risks of loss or damage of their assets or lives to the insurance companies at a price called premium.

"In Takaful insurance, claims are paid, and whatever is left, some part of it comes to insurers. It is like mutual assurance, where a group of participants comes together and puts funds together. At the end of the day, it's their money, not insurance firm's money. Once claims are paid to some participants that record some calamities, whatever balance is left in those funds belong to participants," he clarified.

Speaking on how Takaful insurer makes profits, he noted: "We make our profit from the contributions that are made by the participants. We, the company, normally take an agency fees, because I want to play a role of managing those funds. We manage the claims, because if you don't manage the claims, everybody will come and make claims, and some of them might not be genuine.

"So, we are supposed to invest those funds and also manage the claims. At the end of the day, we have agency fees and we also share in the profit that we are making from the investment."

The key essential driver of Takaful Insurance, according to him, is transparency, as there must be full disclosure of the terms from the company to the participants, and that claims must be paid as at when due.

He added that once a claim has been verified and its genuineness ascertained, the claimant get his claim within three days.

However, the managing director of Riskguard-Africa Nigeria Ltd, Chief Yemi Soladoye, explained why some operators are hesitant to leverage on opportunities in Takaful and micro-insurance.

He said: "Most operators are neck-deep in running businesses the old style; they are faced with the challenge of meeting the boards' and shareholders' expectation and this makes it difficult for them to invest in future market developments like micro insurance and Takaful insurance. They have not come together for united market development. And whether we like it or not, retail insurance is key."

Source: allafrica.com/stories/201610240122.html

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Sudanese rebel leader slams South Africa’s withdrawal from war crimes court

23-10-2016

The South African government’s decision to leave the International Criminal Court is “shameful” and effectively supports the genocide against people in Sudan, according to Abdul Wahid al-Nur of the Sudan Liberation Army (SLA). In a wide-ranging interview in Paris, Abdul Wahid told RFI about his recent meeting with Chadian President Idriss Deby, the importance of Libya’s General Khalifa Haftar and the use of chemical weapons in Darfur.

“South Africa of Nelson Mandela, of discrimination, of a long history of apartheid, supporting [President Omar] al-Bashir, who’s committing genocide against African people in Sudan, in Darfur, in Nuba Mountains, in Blue Nile - it’s as if they’re compensating Bashir to kill us and disregard the struggle of our people,” says the SLA founder and chairman.

Abdul Wahid was recently in Berlin to discuss the situation in Darfur with President Deby. The Chadian leader had previously been at odds with Sudan’s Bashir over the conflict in Darfur, however ties have normalised in recent years. Additionally Chad hosts some 300,000 Sudanese refugees, according to the UN.

"Deby proposed to us, very clearly, to join Khartoum's dialogue," says Abdul Wahid, “he insists that we have to join”. But the SLA leader rejected Deby’s proposal, reiterating that Bashir needs “stop the ongoing genocide”. Abdul Wahid had previously shunned dialogue with Khartoum when other prominent Sudanese rebel groups signed a roadmap earlier this year aiming to establish a permanent ceasefire and pave the way for the delivery of humanitarian aid.

The Chadian president has proposed further talks with the SLA in N’Djamena without pre-conditions, according to Abdul Wahid, who describes Deby as playing an important role in “fighting terrorists in the region”. Furthermore, “Deby has a good relationship with General Haftar”, he says.

Abdul Wahid sees Libyan Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar as a bulwark against Islamist extremists and says he’s ready to commit SLA fighters to Haftar’s cause, although they have yet to establish a relationship.

"We will open our hands to him, to coordinate with him, with others, in order to fight this terrorist organisation ISIS [the Islamic State armed group],” says Abdul Wahid. “As a movement we have enough military personnel, whatever he agrees, we will coordinate with him, and we will fight these Islamic fundamentalists wherever they are," he adds.

Chemical weapons, ceasefire and people-smuggling

The SLA leader is urging further action following a report from Amnesty International on the use of chemical weapons in Jebel Marra, Darfur. The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons has said it will “examine the reports”, but Abdul Wahid says “the evidence is there”. He calls on the UN Security Council to establish a commission of enquiry as well as take steps to remove chemical weapon stockpiles.

Syria and former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein gave chemical weapons to the Sudanese government, according to Abdul Wahid. The Sudanese government has rejected Amnesty’s report with President Bashir accusing the rights group of spreading “empty lies”.

When asked about the government’s announcement of a ceasefire in Darfur, Abdul Wahid says there is none, adding that the Janjaweed militia, who he considers part of the government’s forces, are “systematically targeting civilians because they’re indigenous and they’re black”.

The European Union is also misguided in its engagement and support to Khartoum on people-smuggling, according to Abdul Wahid. The EU established the Khartoum Process to “improve migration management” and “curb the trafficking of human beings and smuggling of migrants” partnering with five African countries including Sudan.

Abdul Wahid says “Bashir is part of the problem” and the Sudanese government is not actually using the financial support as intended, "the money is not going to stop human trafficking," he adds.

Source: en.rfi.fr/africa/20161023-sudanese-rebel-leader-slams-south-africa-s-withdrawal-war-crimes-court

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Europe

Natick: Interfaith liaison continues Muslim educational tour

Oct 23, 2016

NATICK - The 2016 election has been tumultuous for many American Muslims.

A proposed ban on Muslims from entering the country is a presidential campaign issue, and growing unrest in the Middle East and Europe with terrorist organizations such as ISIS have once again sown seeds of distrust of Muslims in the west.

To combat the stereotyping and fear, Shaheen Akhtar, interfaith liaison at Wayland's Islamic Center of Boston, has spent her weekends over the past year visiting libraries and community centers around MetroWest to deliver "A Conversation with Our Neighbors," an ongoing talk introducing the core tenets of Islam and giving locals a chance to ask questions they may have about the religion.

On Sunday, Akhtar took the talk to Natick's Morse Institute Library to continue her educational tour.

"Compassion represents the true spirit of Islam" Akhtar said. "If I cannot soften my heart for the other, if I cannot acknowledge the otherness of the other, if I cannot embrace our common humanity and if I cannot respect the sanctity of every human life then I need to reflect and ask myself am I worthy of the designation of Muslim?"

Much of the program involved a brief history of Islam and its Abrahamic roots in Judaism and Christianity. But shifting to politics, Akhtar contrasted the religious teaching of Islam with the violent politics of ISIS and cultural differences of predominately Muslim nations.

"We always hear this refrain of where is the Muslim condemnation (of terror)? Of course we denounce these heinous acts, it grieves us to see loss of lives," she said. "But somehow this all gets linked to Islam as if Islam is inherently a violent religion. In the battle against ISIS only the radicals should be the enemy, not Islam and all Muslims."

During a Q&A, several audience members were concerned about topics often talked about but rarely defined in the mass American media, such as Sharia Law.

Sharia Law, the general set of rules and teachings Muslims follow as part of their religion, has often been depicted by American politicians as a dictatorial set of rules extremists want to instate. However, Akhtar said a major tenet of Sharia is for Muslims to follow the law of the land as written in their country and said there is no conflict between the U.S. Constitution and Sharia. So long as freedom of religion is allowed, Sharia and American law do not clash in any way.

Akhtar also cited countries like Saudi Arabia that impose unique laws on its citizens, such as banning women from driving cars - which has no connection to Islamic practices in the rest of the world.

"Islam is a global religion," she said. "We all need to make a distinction between cultural practices and what are the teachings of Islam."

Some residents, such as Maureen Nguyen, a parishioner at St. Paul's Episcopal in Natick, said she was excited the event was held and hoped to see more about Islam taught in schools so people better understand the religion.

However, Natick resident Bob Bernstein, 65, said he didn't feel like he got much out of the talk as much of it was old information to him.

"We stereotype and put people in containers because it's convenient," said Bernstein, who has experienced discrimination for being Jewish. "You shouldn't have to represent your whole ethnicity but that's what we've got to do."

Source: natick.wickedlocal.com/news/20161023/natick-interfaith-liaison-continues-muslim-educational-tour

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Turkey, EU must cooperate more than ever: France

October 24, 2016

Turkey and the European Union need to work together more than ever to save lives amid historic challenges, France’s top diplomat has said, admitting the bloc must help Turkey’s development, modernization and democratization even if the road will be long.

French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault, who will hold talks in Ankara with top Turkish officials, including President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım and Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu on Oct. 24, spoke to the Hürriyet Daily News about his visit to Turkey in the aftermath of July 15 failed coup attempt.

How would you describe the coup attempt staged on July 15 in Turkey?

The events during the night of 15 July were a real shock. How could anyone have conceived that an attempted coup d’état against a democratically elected government could still take place in Turkey in 2016? Personally, I have a very clear memory of that moment: the first information coming out of Turkey during the evening of July 15, just 24 hours after France was hit by a large-scale terrorist attack in Nice, on our own national holiday, was another shock. France was one of the first countries to condemn this attempted coup d’état. I remember speaking with the minister of foreign affairs, Mevlüt Ҫavusoǧlu, on July 16 to offer my condolences for all the victims of the putsch, and to commend the courage and commitment of the Turkish people and all groups across the political spectrum to defend Turkey’s democratic institutions.

I was keen to visit Ankara to reiterate this message of solidarity, on the very spot where these events took place. I will be visiting parliament, the symbol of Turkish democracy, so hard-hit during the night of July 15, to pay tribute on behalf of France to the courage of the Turkish people, who rose to defend democracy.

‘Normalization of institutions important after coup attempt’

How would you evaluate Turkey’s reaction against the coup plotters and the declaration of the state of emergency, which France also declared after terrorist attacks?

The Turkish authorities’ desire to do everything possible to ensure the perpetrators of the attempted coup d’état are tried and punished is understandable, and we do not underestimate the seriousness of the various threats Turkey currently has to face, particularly terrorism.

After this collective trauma suffered by a whole people, it is important for Turkey’s institutions to return to a normal, serene functioning, so that democracy eventually comes out stronger after this testing time.

Like our European partners, we also [believe] that the Turkish authorities’ response has to comply with the rule of law, the respect for fundamental freedoms, including freedom of expression, and Turkey’s international commitments. These principles are central to the values we share with Turkey, as Mevlüt Ҫavusoǧlu recently underlined at the Council of Europe.

Everyone needs to contribute to this effort to strengthen democracy and institutions, in the spirit of national unity which President [Recep Tayyip] Erdoğan called for from the Turkish people in the aftermath of the attempted coup.

How do you think the stalemate over visa liberalization can be overcome?

Turkey and the EU need to work together more than ever before, and that is in their interests. Strong commitments were made on March 18 during the EU-Turkey Summit, which will enable us to respond better, collectively, to the historic challenge we face and to save lives, by acting to combat illegal migration.

Talks are continuing with the aim of satisfying the criteria that still need to be fulfilled to enable the implementation of the visa liberalization agreement. As regards the counter-terrorism law, we in no case are asking Turkey to diminish its ability to combat this scourge.

A country like France, which itself faces terrorism, understands and shares the need to fight against this threat. This effort has to take place with respect for fundamental rights and freedoms, in accordance with the commitments both France and Turkey have made in the framework of the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms. What we want to see is a clear distinction being made between the perpetrators of terrorist acts and those who freely express their ideas while respecting the law.

Rise of populist movements a concern

There are growing concerns over Islamophobia, xenophobia and other sorts of discrimination in Europe, including France. What’s France doing to avoid tension against the other, particularly on the eve of key elections next year?

The rise of populist movements in Europe is concerning. The French government is combating them with determination, and ensuring respect for the principles and values of our republic, which, in particular, does not tolerate any discrimination on the basis of origin, nationality or religion

In recent months, the French people have suffered unprecedented trials. They have shown their unity and commitment to the founding values of our nation, as expressed by our motto: “Liberty, Equality, Fraternity.” Our government is, for its part, doing its utmost to prevent generalizations and confusions. We will contain these tensions by strengthening intercultural and interreligious dialogue, in which all civil society, religious, state and nongovernmental actors need to take part. I am deeply convinced that France draws its strength from the values of openness and freedom that are central to its identity.

France, Turkey share priorities in Syria

How would you assess the point the international community has arrived in the fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL)?

France and Turkey are members of the global coalition against Daesh [ISIL]. They share the same priority: doing everything possible to foster the region’s stabilization. The efforts of the coalition countries have helped push back Daesh on all fronts. In Iraq, the launch of the Mosul offensive has already achieved rapid progress on the ground toward the city’s liberation. I organized a meeting in Paris on Oct. 20 to discuss all aspects of this battle which is decisive for the future of Iraq and the region as a whole, with more than 20 countries and international organizations present. Turkey was naturally invited, and played a full role in the discussions. In Syria, Daesh is losing ground on a daily basis. Operation Euphrates Shield, supporting Free Syrian Army fighters, is helping.

France and Turkey share the same priorities as regards Syria: the urgency of stopping bombardments by the Assad regime and its backers, including in Aleppo; humanitarian access; and the resumption of negotiations in view of a political transition based on the Geneva Communiqué and U.N. Security Council Resolution 2254.

Turkey’s road to EU is very long

How would you regard the bilateral aspect of our ties? Why is France seemingly not very willing to support Turkey’s EU membership?

I’m not going to go back as far as Francis I and Süleyman the Magnificent, but the ties between our two countries are strong, diverse and anchored in a deeply held friendship. They are currently enshrined in a strategic partnership established during the state visit of the French president in January 2014, when the key areas of cooperation were set down. My visit will help set down new concrete objectives for each of these areas for the period 2017-2019.

Our cooperation naturally extends to the fight against Daesh, including against foreign combatants.

But our bilateral agenda is not dominated solely by crises and threats! Together, we are looking to the future with structural projects, particularly in the fields of transport, energy and agriculture. We are also key economic and trade partners, in very diverse sectors, and these exchanges can be further strengthened.

As regards the relationship with the European Union, the road is indeed very long, I admit. However, this process also needs to help support Turkey’s development, modernization and democratization.

Source: hurriyetdailynews.com/turkey-eu-must-cooperate-more-than-ever-france.aspx?pageID=238&nID=105265&NewsCatID=351

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URL: http://www.newageislam.com/islamic-world-news/new-age-islam-news-bureau/muslims-to-join--homam--seeking-safety-of-soldiers-scripting-a-saga-in-communal-harmony/d/108908


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