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Islamic World News ( 7 Jan 2017, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Netanyahu Tried to Negotiate a Good Press in Return for Benefits-Media

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photo: Israeli rescue forces work at the scene of a truck ramming incident in Jerusalem January 8, 2017. © Ronen Zvulun / Reuters

 

Opposition Figure Blasts Human Rights Advocates for Keeping Mum about Long Siege of 20,000 Bahrainis in Diraz

300 Marines to Aid Fight Against Taliban in Spring

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Mideast

Netanyahu Tried to Negotiate a Good Press in Return for Benefits-Media

Truck rams into crowd in Jerusalem, 4 reportedly dead, 15 injured

Rifts among Muslim Nations Serve Israeli Interests: Lebanon PM

Security Expert: Turkish Gov't Distrusts Army, Hires Special Militia

Istanbul nightclub attacker identified as Uzbek IS militant: reports

Turkey dismisses more civil servants in post-coup purge

University of Sharjah and Aligarh Muslim University discuss cooperation

Iran Raps Saudi Arabia for Treason against Muslims

‘You protect us, we protect you’: Israel mulls legal immunity extension for IDF soldiers

Shiraz selected as Islamic countries’ youth capital

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Arab World

Opposition Figure Blasts Human Rights Advocates for Keeping Mum about Long Siege of 20,000 Bahrainis in Diraz

At Least 12 Killed After Another Explosion Hits Iraq's Capital Baghdad

Terrorists' Religious Leader Acknowledges Defeat in Syria Battle

Video of Saudi Officer Apparently Renouncing Islam Sparks Controversy

Massive tanker bomb kills 48 in Syria border town

17 dead as Yemen loyalists attack rebels on Red Sea coast

Islamic State hits Baghdad market with deadly car bomb, 13 dead and more than 50 injured

At Least 5 Killed, 15 Injured in Terror Attack in Syria's Damascus Province

Over 100 ISIL Terrorists Killed, Wounded in Syrian, Russian Air Raids in Homs

Nusra Appoints New Commander in Wadi Al-Bardi, Confirming Presence in Western Damascus

Russia Seeking to Strengthen Closer Cooperation between Kurds, Damascus

Islamic State senior doctor killed in Kirkuk airstrike: source

4 soldiers killed, 3 wounded in Islamic State attack west of Anbar

Saudi Arabia says man who planned mosque attack killed in shootout

Saudi Army's Joint Military Operation Room Destroyed in Najran Province

Ta'iz Province: Saudi Arabia's Newly-Sent Weapons for Militias Fully Destroyed by Yemeni Forces

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South Asia

Taliban Reacts at US Plan To Deploy 300 Soldiers In Helmand

Gunmen open fire on cricketer Shapoor Zadran in Kabul

Afghanistan signs $11.4m contract to establish prefabricated construction factory

2 key Taliban leaders among 19 killed in Afghan forces operations: MoD

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Southeast Asia

King of ‘Dangdut’ Promotes Tolerant, Peaceful Islam through Politics

Philippine police raid Islamic centre before Catholic event

French FM, Kofi Annan discuss Burmese Muslims

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India

Shahi Imam of Kolkata Mosque Issues 'Fatwa' Against PM Narendra Modi

159 years later, Waris Ali accepted as freedom fighter

BJP MP Sakshi Maharaj booked for remark on Muslim population, EC seeks report

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Pakistan

Police Question Suspects As Search for Tayyaba Continues

Minorities’ Vote Bank Reaches Close To 3m

‘Military courts convicted five missing persons’

Pakistan Military Courts Wound Up After 2 Years

Ex-Pakistani army chief to head Islamic Military Alliance

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Africa

Pig's Snout Left at Cape Town Mosque

Islamic Cleric explains absence at President Akufo-Addo’s investiture

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Europe

Rumi Film to Challenge Muslim Stereotypes

Czech Government Fears Muslim "Super-Holocaust", Urges Citizens to Shoot Them Yourselves

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North America

Mosque Burns to the Ground near Lake Travis; Cause of Fire Unknown

Islamic State’s Oil Facilities, Supply Routes and Tactical Units under US Fire

Iraq war veteran accused of killing five at Florida airport

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau

URL: http://newageislam.com/islamic-world-news/new-age-islam-news-bureau/netanyahu-tried-to-negotiate-a-good-press-in-return-for-benefits-media/d/109640

 

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Netanyahu Tried to Negotiate a Good Press in Return for Benefits-Media

By REUTERS JAN. 8, 2017,

(Reuters) - Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, under police investigation for suspected corruption, was caught on tape negotiating mutual benefits with an arch-foe, the owner of one of Israel's largest-selling newspapers, Israeli media reported on Sunday.

The report, which Israeli media outlets described as "an earthquake" that could have implications for Netanyahu's political future, drew no immediate comment from the prime minister or Yedioth Ahronoth daily owner Noni Mozes.

Channel Two television said the right-wing leader had offered to limit the circulation of Israel Hayom, a free, pro-Netanyahu daily owned and published by U.S. billionaire and Republican party donor Sheldon Adelson, if Mozes' Yedioth Ahronoth gave the prime minister more favorable coverage.

Steps to cut Israel Hayom's market-leading circulation could have financial benefits for Mozes, whose newspaper's advertising revenues have been hit by its free competitor.

It was unclear exactly when the reported conversation took place. The Haaretz daily said it occurred several months ago.

Netanyahu last week was twice questioned by police in two different cases. The first involved receiving gifts, including expensive cigars and champagne from businessmen, police and the Justice Ministry said. Netanyahu's lawyer said such presents from friends were not illegal.

Authorities have not released any details publicly about the second case, reported by Channel 2.

That Netanyahu and Mozes would have a dialogue was greeted with close to astonishment by the Israeli media. Netanyahu has openly accused Mozes and Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper of trying to overthrow his leadership through skewed coverage, an allegation they deny.

On Sunday, Netanyahu again pointed the finger at the media and said he was being personally hounded.

"This is wrong, incessant pressure from the media on law enforcement. They release balloons and the hot air comes out of them time after time. That will be the case here too," Netanyahu told Likud ministers before Channel 2 broadcast its report.

Mozes could not be reached for comment by Reuters. Yedioth Ahronoth did not immediately respond to Reuters' requests for comment on the report. Netanyahu's spokesman did not respond to requests for comment.

In the past few weeks Netanyahu has lashed out at journalists who have published critical reports about his administration and his alleged ties with wealthy businessmen.

Israeli media have reported that in the first case, police questioned Netanyahu about receiving gifts from Israeli Hollywood producer Arnon Milchan over the past few years.

A spokeswoman for Milchan's lawyer in Israel did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Netanyahu, 67, will become Israel's longest-serving leader if he stays in office until the end of next year.

He and his wife Sara have weathered several scandals over the years, including investigations into the misuse of state funds. They have denied any wrongdoing.

Israeli commentators have pointed out that previous Israeli leaders have also been investigated over suspected corruption, with indictments not always forthcoming.

Ehud Olmert, who held office from 2006 to 2009, is currently serving 18 months in prison after being convicted of breach of trust and bribery in 2014.

(Editing by Jeffrey Heller and Stephen Powell)

nytimes.com/reuters/2017/01/08/world/middleeast/08reuters-israel-netanyahu.html?ref=world&_r=0

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Opposition Figure Blasts Human Rights Advocates for Keeping Mum about Long Siege of 20,000 Bahrainis in Diraz

 

TEHRAN (FNA)- A prominent dissident leader lambasted the international community's silence on the Bahraini government's siege of 20,000 people in the town of al-Diraz which hosts the house of senior cleric Sheikh Issa Qassim.

"The Muslim town of al-Diraz in Bahrain has been under the al-Khalifa regime's siege for months and those who claim to support human rights have kept mum," Hussein Abdollah told FNA on Saturday.

"Nearly 20,000 defenseless citizens in al-Diraz which is the hometown of the Shiite Bahraini leader have been under the al-Khalifa army's siege for 205 days," he added.

Abdollah underlined that the residents of al-Diraz are ordinary Bahraini citizens who have been besieged for defending Sheikh Qassim.

On June 20, Bahraini authorities stripped Sheikh Qassim of his citizenship, less than a week after suspending the al-Wefaq National Islamic Society, the country’s main opposition bloc, and dissolving the Islamic Enlightenment Institution founded by Qassim, and the opposition al-Risala Islamic Association.

Over the past few weeks, demonstrators have held sit-in protests outside Sheikh Qassim’s home to denounce his citizenship removal.

Since February 14, 2011, thousands of anti-regime protesters have held numerous demonstrations in Bahrain on an almost daily basis, calling on the al-Khalifah rulers to relinquish power.

In March that year, troops from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, themselves repressive Arab regimes, were deployed to the country to assist Manama in its crackdown on protests.

Bahrain has also sentenced Sheikh Ali Salman, another revered opposition cleric, to nine years in prison on charges of seeking regime change and collaborating with foreign powers, which he has denied.

Sheikh Salman was the secretary general of the al-Wefaq National Islamic Society, which was Bahrain’s main opposition bloc before being dissolved by the regime last month.

en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13951018001275

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Taliban reacts at US plan to deploy 300 soldiers in Helmand

By KHAAMA PRESS - Sun Jan 08 2017

The Taliban militant group reacted on US military plan to deploy around 300 soldiers in southern Helmand province of Afghanistan, claiming that the deployment of additional forces indicate the defeat of the Afghan and US forces in Helmand battle.

“Yesterday American military commanders announced that 300 extra US troops will be deployed to Helmand in the upcoming spring to help their local puppet forces.

This announcement comes after 100 American SOF troops were also deployed last summer to defend Lashkar Gah but was promptly pulled back to Camp Bastion after they suffered heavy losses,” a statement released by Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid reads.

“At the same time the American military brass has kept hundreds of troops active in a key military base named Camp Dwyer in Garmsir district of Helmand province away from the sight of their citizens,” the statement said, adding that “This on top of hundreds of more foreign invaders residing at Camp Bastion in Helmand’s Shorab.”

“Announcing the deployment of more forces to Helmand on top of presence of the above American troops is solely to lend morale to the defeated troops of the stooge Kabul administration in hopes they hold out until spring,” the statement added.

The decision by US Marines to deploy forces to Helmand comes as the province has been witnessing firece clashes during the recent months as the Taliban group attempted take control of the strategic parts Helmand as part of their deadly spring offensive.

Task Force Southwest, led by Brig Gen Roger Turner, “will train and advise key leaders within the Afghan National Army 215th Corps and the 505th Zone National Police,” a statement published by the corps on Friday read.

According to the Afghan officials, the Taliban group attempted to shift some of its leadership to Helmand BT seizing control of the strategic Lashkargah city and other key districts.

khaama.com/taliban-reacts-at-us-plan-to-deploy-300-soldiers-in-helmand-02631

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300 Marines to Aid Fight Against Taliban in Spring

By MUJIB MASHALJAN. 7, 2017

A Marine patrol in Helmand Province, Afghanistan, in 2011. A new deployment of Marines will replace an Army unit stationed there. Credit Peter Parks/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

KABUL, Afghanistan — Approximately 300 United States Marines will return this spring to help fight a resurgent Taliban in the southern Afghan province of Helmand, the site of a yearslong bloody campaign, American officials in Afghanistan said on Saturday.

An American military spokesman in Kabul said the Marines would replace an Army unit stationed in Helmand, and would offer training and advice to members of the Afghan military and the national police.

“The Marine rotation is to replace soldiers currently here conducting the train, advise and assist mission,” said Brig. Gen. Charles H. Cleveland, a spokesman for United States forces in Afghanistan. “We’re very pleased that the Marines will rotate in, as they have tremendous institutional history in the region.”

The Marines were last in Helmand, a hotbed of Taliban fighters and poppy cultivation, in October 2014. Since then, Afghan forces, suffering from leadership woes and plagued by corruption, have struggled to hold territory, with district after district falling to the Taliban. For months now, the insurgents have been at the gates of the provincial capital, Lashkar Gah.

The Afghan military welcomed the news of the Marines’ return.

“We have been asking our foreign counterparts in security meetings to increase the level of their troops in Helmand Province to help us on the battlefields,” said Shakil Ahmad, an Afghan Army spokesman. Mr. Ahmad said the security situation in region was rapidly deteriorating.

United States Marines arriving in Kandahar in October 2014, as British and American forces withdraw from the Camp Bastion-Leatherneck complex in Helmand Province. Credit Wakil Kohsar/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

The Taliban appeared unfazed by the news of the Marines’ return. “Our mujahedeen continued their progress in the presence of tens of thousands of Americans and other invading forces,” said Qari Yousef Ahmadi, a Taliban spokesman. “A few hundred other soldiers won’t become an obstacle on the way of our progress.”

Fewer than 8,400 American troops are currently in Afghanistan, deployed either through NATO to train Afghan forces or as part of a smaller American counterterrorism mission. President Obama declared the United States combat mission in Afghanistan over in December 2014. But in the past year, as violence has spread across the country, the line for the American military between consulting and fighting has increasingly blurred.

At the peak of a troop surge in 2011, there were about 20,000 Marines fighting across Helmand alongside thousands of British soldiers. Western troops fought the Taliban village to village, and tried to win civilians’ hearts and minds by doling out cash for bridges and roads.

The Taliban recently told Lashkar Gah residents to store food items, warning that they would once again cut off Helmand’s main highway to the regional economic hub, Kandahar Province.

Unlike in the past, fighting between government troops and the Taliban has not diminished with the coming of this year’s winter. Many fear that when fighting intensifies in the spring, the Taliban will be starting from a position of strength around several provincial capitals.

Ensuring that Afghan leaders take advantage of the winter to improve leadership and root out corruption will be critical to how they tackle Taliban pressure in the spring, American officials said.

nytimes.com/2017/01/07/world/middleeast/300-marines-to-aid-fight-

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Mideast

Netanyahu Tried to Negotiate a Good Press in Return for Benefits-Media

By REUTERS JAN. 8, 2017,

(Reuters) - Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, under police investigation for suspected corruption, was caught on tape negotiating mutual benefits with an arch-foe, the owner of one of Israel's largest-selling newspapers, Israeli media reported on Sunday.

The report, which Israeli media outlets described as "an earthquake" that could have implications for Netanyahu's political future, drew no immediate comment from the prime minister or Yedioth Ahronoth daily owner Noni Mozes.

Channel Two television said the right-wing leader had offered to limit the circulation of Israel Hayom, a free, pro-Netanyahu daily owned and published by U.S. billionaire and Republican party donor Sheldon Adelson, if Mozes' Yedioth Ahronoth gave the prime minister more favorable coverage.

Steps to cut Israel Hayom's market-leading circulation could have financial benefits for Mozes, whose newspaper's advertising revenues have been hit by its free competitor.

It was unclear exactly when the reported conversation took place. The Haaretz daily said it occurred several months ago.

Netanyahu last week was twice questioned by police in two different cases. The first involved receiving gifts, including expensive cigars and champagne from businessmen, police and the Justice Ministry said. Netanyahu's lawyer said such presents from friends were not illegal.

Authorities have not released any details publicly about the second case, reported by Channel 2.

That Netanyahu and Mozes would have a dialogue was greeted with close to astonishment by the Israeli media. Netanyahu has openly accused Mozes and Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper of trying to overthrow his leadership through skewed coverage, an allegation they deny.

On Sunday, Netanyahu again pointed the finger at the media and said he was being personally hounded.

"This is wrong, incessant pressure from the media on law enforcement. They release balloons and the hot air comes out of them time after time. That will be the case here too," Netanyahu told Likud ministers before Channel 2 broadcast its report.

Mozes could not be reached for comment by Reuters. Yedioth Ahronoth did not immediately respond to Reuters' requests for comment on the report. Netanyahu's spokesman did not respond to requests for comment.

In the past few weeks Netanyahu has lashed out at journalists who have published critical reports about his administration and his alleged ties with wealthy businessmen.

Israeli media have reported that in the first case, police questioned Netanyahu about receiving gifts from Israeli Hollywood producer Arnon Milchan over the past few years.

A spokeswoman for Milchan's lawyer in Israel did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Netanyahu, 67, will become Israel's longest-serving leader if he stays in office until the end of next year.

He and his wife Sara have weathered several scandals over the years, including investigations into the misuse of state funds. They have denied any wrongdoing.

Israeli commentators have pointed out that previous Israeli leaders have also been investigated over suspected corruption, with indictments not always forthcoming.

Ehud Olmert, who held office from 2006 to 2009, is currently serving 18 months in prison after being convicted of breach of trust and bribery in 2014.

(Editing by Jeffrey Heller and Stephen Powell)

nytimes.com/reuters/2017/01/08/world/middleeast/08reuters-israel-netanyahu.html?ref=world&_r=0

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Truck rams into crowd in Jerusalem, 4 reportedly dead, 15 injured

Sun Jan 8, 2017

A truck rammed into a group of Israeli soldiers who were disembarking from a bus in Jerusalem Sunday, killing four people and wounding 15 others, Israeli police and rescue services said.

A medic on the scene told AFP that the four who died were Israeli soldiers. Police are treating it as a deliberate attack, he added.

Police Spokeswoman Luba Samri told AP the truck veered off course and rammed into the group. She said the attacker was shot dead.

The attack comes amid a more than yearlong wave of Palestinian shooting, stabbing and vehicular attacks against Israelis that has slowed of late.

Sunday's incident marks the first Israeli casualties in three months.

Since September 2015, Palestinian attackers have killed 40 Israelis and two visiting Americans. During that time, 229 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli fire.

Israel says most of the Palestinians killed were attackers while the rest died in clashes.

dawn.com/news/1307186/four-israeli-soldiers-killed-in-jerusalem-truck-attack-medic

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Rifts among Muslim nations serve Israeli interests: Lebanon PM

Sun Jan 8, 2017

Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri says Muslim nations should close their ranks in the face of Israeli attempts to take advantage of rifts in the Islamic world and the terror threats facing the Middle East.

Hariri made the remarks in a meeting with Alaeddin Boroujerdi, the chairman of the Iranian Parliament’s Committee on National Security and Foreign Policy, in Beirut on Saturday.

He said divisions in the Muslim world, including those among Palestinian factions, besides the terror activities in the region serve the interests of the Israeli regime, urging Muslims to set aside their rifts and focus, instead, on common goals.

Cooperation among Muslim countries can turn the Islamic world into “a large economic hub” and consequently upgrade its status, the premier added.

Hariri further underlined his resolve to reinforce relations between Tehran and Beirut in all areas, especially in economy and trade, calling for measures to remove the obstacles to the expansion of bilateral ties.

In turn, Boroujerdi described his meeting with the Lebanese prime minister as “constructive and positive,” saying they discussed the restoration of security to the region, Lebanon’s National News Agency quoted him as saying.

He further emphasized that the two countries have a common position on the political settlement of the Syria crisis.

“There is no doubt that stability and security in Syria reflect positively on security and stability in Lebanon, in Iran and the region in general. We agreed that the shameful and heinous acts carried out by terrorist Takfiri extremist groups are not related to the Islamic religion in any way,” the senior Iranian lawmaker said.

Touching on the issue of bilateral ties, Boroujerdi said Iran is ready “to build on the bright, positive and constructive political circumstances that have arisen in Lebanon.”

Hariri became prime minister last December, after the Lebanese parliament elected Michel Aoun as president, ending a 29-month-long political stalemate in the country.

presstv.com/Detail/2017/01/08/505306/Lebanon-Israel-Saad-Hariri

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Security Expert: Turkish Gov't Distrusts Army, Hires Special Militia

 

TEHRAN (FNA)- A senior Turkish security expert disclosed that the country's government has formed a young militia group to defend it against riots and unrests given the lack of trust in the army.

"The party ruling Turkey has formed a militia force special to itself given the lack of trust in the army," Can Atakli of Turkey's Sozcu Gazetesi daily quoted the security expert as saying on Saturday.

The expert referred to the events during the night of the failed coup in Turkey on July 15, and said the presence of three groups of people in Istanbul's squares at that night was interesting; the first group included young people who were wearing similar clothes and knew each other and even the Turkish police knew their identity and many of them were working for the security companies which are the government's partners.

"The second group consisted of Justice and Development Party's fans who had been organized in the provincial and regional organizations of the Party and reached the squares after receiving a message by the Party," the expert added.

He said that the third group included people who came to the squares to support the government after feeling that the coup had failed. They were members of the Justice and Development Party, the People's Republican Party, the National Move Party, the Rightists and Leftists.

"During and after the coup, Turkey's ruling party used and tested the young militia groups that it had formed before. Since then, we are facing a group which is present everywhere and uses any opportunity to attack popular protests and figures who are opposed to the ruling party and there are even some individuals in the group that have received training and are now expert in punishing the opposition," the expert added.

Turkish officials say over 240 people were killed and more than 2,100 others injured in the July 15 coup attempt.

Tens of thousands of people, including military personnel, judges and teachers, have been suspended, dismissed or detained as part of the post-coup crackdown.

Additionally, 168 army generals, 7,596 Security Directorate police officers, 17 governors, 74 deputy governors, and 69 district governors under the Interior Ministry have been detained.

International rights groups argue that Ankara’s crackdown has gone far beyond the so-called Gulenists and targeted Kurds as well as government critics in general.

On November 24, the European Parliament decided to temporarily halt accession negotiations with Turkey over the large-scale crackdown.

en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13951018000751

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Istanbul nightclub attacker identified as Uzbek IS militant: reports

AFP

The attacker who shot dead 39 people on New Year's night at an Istanbul nightclub has been identified as an Uzbek member of the militant Islamic State (IS) group, Turkish press reports said.

There had been confusion over the identity of the attacker who remains on the run with reports initially suggesting a Kyrgyz national and then an Uighur from China.

But intelligence services and anti-terror police in Istanbul have now identified the man as a 34-year-old Uzbek who is part of a Central Asian IS cell, the Hurriyet daily and other Turkish newspapers reported.

It said he has the code name of Ebu Muhammed Horasani within the IS militant group. There was no official confirmation of the report.

The killer slipped into the night after killing 27 foreigners and 12 Turkish nationals at the Reina nightclub in Istanbul just 75 minutes into 2017.

Despite an intense manhunt, he remains on the run, with some reports saying that he is still believed to be in Istanbul.

Turkish police had last week released images of the alleged killer, including a chilling silent video he purportedly took in central Istanbul with a selfie stick.

IS militants from Central Asia, including Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan, as well as from Russia's Muslim regions of Dagestan and Chechnya are believed to have played a key role in the triple suicide bombings and gun attack at Istanbul's main airport in June.

The IS claimed the Istanbul nightclub attack, the first time it has ever clearly claimed a major attack in the country despite being blamed for several strikes including the airport bombings.

dawn.com/news/1307180/istanbul-nightclub-attacker-identified-as-uzbek-is-militant-reports

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Turkey dismisses more civil servants in post-coup purge

AP | Jan 7, 2017

ISTANBUL: Turkey has dismissed more than 8,000 civil servants for alleged ties to terror organizations, in the latest purge under a state of emergency imposed following the failed July 15 coup attempt.

The latest dismissals were announced on the Turkish government's Official Gazette late Friday. They include 2,687 police officers, 1,699 Justice Ministry employees and 631 academics. They join more than 100,000 people already suspended or dismissed.

Turkey's crackdown through dismissals and the arrest of some 41,000 people was begun to root out followers of US-based cleric Fethullah Gulen. The government claims he orchestrated the coup attempt; Gulen denies involvement.

The purge has been expanded to include ties to other 'terror organizations,' including alleged links to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party.

The latest decree also closed down 83 associations, bringing the number of associations shut for alleged ties to terror organizations to nearly 1,500.

Eleven local newspapers were allowed to reopen under Friday's decree. More than 140 media organizations have been ordered closed since the failed coup.

According to Platform 24, a press freedom initiative for independent journalism, 115 journalists have been imprisoned under the state of emergency.

timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/rest-of-world/turkey-dismisses-more-civil-servants-in-post-coup-purge/articleshow/56390720.cms

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University of Sharjah and Aligarh Muslim University discuss cooperation

08/01/2017

SHARJAH, 8th January, 2017 (WAM) -- Dr. Hamid Al Naimi, Director of the University of Sharjah, UoS, has discussed with Brigadier Syed Ahmad Ali (Ret.), Vice Chancellor of Aligarh Muslim University, AMU, in India, and his accompanying delegation ways of cooperation between the two universities in the field of research and studies of common interest, and exchange of faculty and students in disciplines offered by both universities.

The delegation also met with Dr. Salah Taher Al Haj, Vice Chancellor for Community Affair at UoS, and Professor Esam Agamy, Dean of Quality Assurance, Institutional Effectiveness and Accreditation in UoS, to discuss bilateral cooperation between the two universities.

wam.ae/en/news/general/1395305603828.html

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Iran Raps Saudi Arabia for Treason against Muslims

January, 08, 2017

TEHRAN (Tasnim) – Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman hit back at Saudi Defense Minister Mohammad Bin Salman Al Saud for his anti-Iran accusations, pointing the finger at the Riyadh regime for committing treason against the Muslim and the Arab world by colluding with Israel.

In comments on Saturday, Bahram Qassemi dismissed the allegations against Iran raised by the Saudi defense minister, who is also deputy crown prince on the kingdom, noting, “One of the players that must correct its behavior for the sake of world peace and calm is Saudi Arabia, which has created chaos in the region with organized support for Takfiri terrorist groups.”

Qassemi lashed out at Saudi Arabia for causing “bloody crimes” against people of Syria, Iraq and Yemen, and for working hand in glove with the Israeli regime, which accounts to treachery against the Muslims.

He made the comments in reaction to remarks by Bin Salman who accused Iran of creating instability, encouraging terrorism and violating the sovereignty of other nations in the region. The Saudi prince has also called on Iran to change its outlook and behavior.

The Iranian spokesman further described the Saudi minister’s comments as a tactic to whitewash the recent reports disclosing “significant and organized ties between the official Saudi institutions and radical Takfiris around the world.”

The Saudi politicians had better “correct their behavior and manner” instead of resorting to futile blame games and think about the consequences of their destructive policies, Qassemi added.

While the Middle East is beset with the threat of terrorism and violent extremism, experts believe that the notorious Daesh (ISIL or ISIS) terrorist group has its roots in Wahhabism, an ideology originating from Saudi Arabia that developed in the 18th century.

In July 2013, the European Parliament identified Wahhabism as the main source of global terrorism.

Documents reveal that Daesh terrorists, who have invaded Syria and Iraq (two main allies of Iran), receive extensive financial and military support from Saudi Arabia and Qatar.

tasnimnews.com/en/news/2017/01/08/1290801/iran-raps-saudi-arabia-for-treason-against-muslims

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‘You protect us, we protect you’: Israel mulls legal immunity extension for IDF soldiers

8 Jan, 2017

Israel is considering new “balanced” legislation which just about presents Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) with a license to kill without fear of being prosecuted.

Plans for the new legislation have been announced by Deputy Defense Minister Eli Ben Dahan, and comes at a time of deep divisions in Israeli society over the manslaughter conviction of an IDF sergeant who shot and killed an already neutralized Palestinian attacker in March last year.

Israeli soldier Elor Azaria, who is charged with manslaughter by the Israeli military sits to hear his verdict in a military court in Tel Aviv, Israel, January 4, 2017. © Heidi LevineNetanyahu calls for pardon of Israeli soldier convicted of manslaughter

While Azaria was not convicted of murder, the new law seeks to shield IDF members and prevent such a ruling from ever being handed down again.

“The new law sends a clear message to our soldiers: When you protect us, we protect you,” the Deputy Defence Minister said.

The proposed new law seeks to extend the immunity to security forces before and after an operation. Current immunity is only granted while the operation is in progress.

The bill, according to Israeli press, says that “a member of the security forces will not bear criminal responsibility, nor be interrogated with a warning, and will be immune to every judicial action in connection with an operation he carried out or did not carry out, or an act he committed or did not commit, before, during and after an operation, depending on whether the operation was or was not carried out as part of his assignment, or in preparation to carry out his assignment, as member of the security forces.”

“This is a very balanced law which on the one hand will allow IDF soldiers to do their jobs and protect the State of Israel and its citizens without fearing a lawsuit, and on the other allows the government to remove a soldier's immunity if he breaks the rules,” Ben Dahan said, as cited by the Times of Israel.

Israeli soldier Elor Azaria, who is charged with manslaughter by the Israeli military, sits to hear his verdict in a military court in Tel Aviv, Israel, January 4, 2017. © Heidi Levine Israeli leadership encourages soldiers to ‘shoot to kill’ without justification – rights lawyer

The proposed changes also envision a mechanism to strip the immunity if the soldier abuses the mandate. Any soldier caught looting, vandalizing property, taking bribes, engaging in sexual offenses will not be granted immunity.

Sgt. Elor Azaria was convicted of manslaughter on Wednesday after shooting a Palestinian man Abed al-Fattah Yusri al-Sharif in the head, nearly 15 minutes after the man had been shot and wounded during an attempt to stab another IDF soldier in Hebron in March 2016.

He faces up to 20 years in prison with sentencing expected in February. His conviction has deeply divided Israeli society. Israeli lawmakers, led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, have called for a pardon, and Azaria’s attorneys have said they will appeal the verdict.

According to Israeli media reports, the military prosecutors are reportedly planning to strike a sentencing deal with Azaria if his legal team will retract their appeal. If agreed, the IDF serviceman will do less time in prison.

rt.com/news/372948-israel-soldiers-immunity-legislation/

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Sheikh Khalifa calls on all Muslims in the UAE to pray for rain

January 8, 2017

ABU DHABI // President Sheikh Khalifa has called for a prayer for rain, known as Salaat Al Istisqaa, to be performed in all mosques and musallahs across the country at 7.30am on Tuesday.

Sheikh Khalifa called on all Muslims in the country to pray to Allah to bless the land with rain and mercy, in accordance with the Prophet Mohammed’s Sunnah Course.

Forecasters predict mostly sunny skies on Sunday with temperatures between 11°C and 24°C expected across the country.

Light to moderate winds will keep conditions chilly as slight humidity sets in overnight, causing potential fog on Monday morning.

Seas will be slight to moderate in the Arabian Gulf and Sea of Oman.

thenational.ae/uae/sheikh-khalifa-calls-on-all-muslims-in-the-uae-to-pray-for-rain

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Shiraz selected as Islamic countries’ youth capital

January 8, 2017

Shiraz, Fars prov, Jan 8, IRNA – The historical city of Shiraz in south of Iran will be officially inaugurated as the Youth Capital of the Islamic world 2017 on January 9 during a ceremony to be attended by 20 foreign guests.

The flag commemorating the designation will be hoisted opposite the mausoleum of the world known Iranian poet Hafiz for one year.

The city was picked up as the next Youth Capital of Muslim countries during the final session of the 3rd ministerial meeting of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) in Istanbul, Turkey, Oct 6, 2016.

The organization considers certain elements to be present in a city when deciding about the OIC Youth Capital which includes good climate, trained staff for hosting international events, numerous educational and research institutions and good infra-structures in related areas, rich cultural and religious background and good numbers of big names in various areas such as science, arts, culture and religion.

Shiraz was one of the four candidate cities to host the OIC Youth Capital 2017, along with Putrajaya (Malaysia), Bandung (Indonesia) and Fez (Morocco).

During the Monday ceremony, a group of young people from Istanbul will hand the key of the Youth Capital to the representatives of Shiraz young people.

The designation of the city as the OIC Youth Capital provides a good chance for Iran to introduce its capacities to the nations of 56 OIC member states.

According to a local official, the city will host seven international events in 2017.

OIC Youth Capital was initiated by Islamic Conference Youth Forum for Dialogue and Cooperation (ICYF-DC) in its 2nd General Assembly held on October, 2014.

OIC region has almost 1.5 billion Muslims and one third of it is constituted by youth. Carrying a considerable importance and reserving a huge portion of the Muslim population of the region, youth had to have a unique organization uniting them with the sense of solidarity and strengthening brotherly ties in a certain city of OIC member countries each year.

This idea led to establishing an OIC Youth Capital under which certain activities, conferences, conventions, festivals and other special events would be held according to the interests and benefits of Muslim youth all year long.

The delegation of the ICYF-DC Secretariat representing the OIC Youth Capital Selection Committee visited Shiraz (IRI) – the candidate city for the OIC Youth Capital 2017 on 28-30 August 2016.

In the framework of the visit, the delegation held working meetings with the representatives of the Fars Province and the Ministry of Youth and Sports of the Islamic Republic of Iran and examined the facilities of the city for hosting the OIC Youth Capital Program in 2017.

Governor General of the province Mohammad Ali Afshani received the delegation on 29 August and reiterated full readiness of the city for hosting such an important international program serving development and unity of youth of the OIC geography.

The ICYF-DC Director General Elmaddin Mehdiyev conveyed the satisfaction of the delegation with high interest towards the program and facilities of the city.

The visit ended up with signing of the Protocol containing the commitment of the city of Shiraz to host the program in 2017 and defining the roles and responsibilities of the parties.

irna.ir/en/News/82378766/

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Arab World

Opposition Figure Blasts Human Rights Advocates for Keeping Mum about Long Siege of 20,000 Bahrainis in Diraz

 

TEHRAN (FNA)- A prominent dissident leader lambasted the international community's silence on the Bahraini government's siege of 20,000 people in the town of al-Diraz which hosts the house of senior cleric Sheikh Issa Qassim.

"The Muslim town of al-Diraz in Bahrain has been under the al-Khalifa regime's siege for months and those who claim to support human rights have kept mum," Hussein Abdollah told FNA on Saturday.

"Nearly 20,000 defenseless citizens in al-Diraz which is the hometown of the Shiite Bahraini leader have been under the al-Khalifa army's siege for 205 days," he added.

Abdollah underlined that the residents of al-Diraz are ordinary Bahraini citizens who have been besieged for defending Sheikh Qassim.

On June 20, Bahraini authorities stripped Sheikh Qassim of his citizenship, less than a week after suspending the al-Wefaq National Islamic Society, the country’s main opposition bloc, and dissolving the Islamic Enlightenment Institution founded by Qassim, and the opposition al-Risala Islamic Association.

Over the past few weeks, demonstrators have held sit-in protests outside Sheikh Qassim’s home to denounce his citizenship removal.

Since February 14, 2011, thousands of anti-regime protesters have held numerous demonstrations in Bahrain on an almost daily basis, calling on the al-Khalifah rulers to relinquish power.

In March that year, troops from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, themselves repressive Arab regimes, were deployed to the country to assist Manama in its crackdown on protests.

Bahrain has also sentenced Sheikh Ali Salman, another revered opposition cleric, to nine years in prison on charges of seeking regime change and collaborating with foreign powers, which he has denied.

Sheikh Salman was the secretary general of the al-Wefaq National Islamic Society, which was Bahrain’s main opposition bloc before being dissolved by the regime last month.

en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13951018001275

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IS suicide bomber kills at least 12 at Baghdad market

 

A suicide bomber struck Baghdad's main vegetable market Sunday, killing at least 12 people in the latest attack claimed by the militant Islamic State (IS) group as Iraqi forces battle the militants for Mosul.

Iraqi forces have pushed IS out of much of the territory it once held, but this bombing and the many others that have preceded it highlight the danger the militants can pose to civilians even as they lose ground.

“A soldier at the gate of Jamila market opened fire on a suicide car bomb after noticing a suspect vehicle but the terrorist blew up his car,” interior ministry spokesman Saad Maan said.

A police colonel and a medical official said at least 12 people were killed and 39 wounded.

Maan said the soldier who opened fire on the attacker was among the wounded.

Another suicide bomber detonated explosives at a market in the Baladiyat area of east Baghdad, killing at least one person and wounding at least seven, officials said.

Jamila is the main wholesale vegetable market in Baghdad and lies in Sadr City, a vast, mostly Shiite neighbourhood in the northeast of the capital which has been repeatedly targeted.

Salam Khalaf, the spokesman for a hospital in Sadr City, said that it received a headless body of a person killed in the Jamila attack who was apparently meant to be a second suicide bomber.

While a hospital employee was searching for the man's identity card, he accidentally detonated a small explosive charge the man was carrying, blowing off a mortuary door but leaving him unharmed, Khalaf said.

The dead man was wearing an explosive belt but it did not go off, he added.

The police colonel also confirmed that the body of a person taken from the scene of the market attack later exploded at the mortuary.

Battle for Mosul

IS issued an online statement claiming the market attack, using a nom de guerre indicating the bomber was Iraqi and saying that he targeted members of Iraq's Shiite Muslim majority, whom the jihadists consider heretics.

IS claimed an attack on January 2 — also in Sadr City — when a suicide bomber blew up a vehicle packed with explosives among a crowd of day labourers waiting for work, killing 35 people.

The militants overran large areas north and west of Baghdad in a swift 2014 offensive that swept through security forces unprepared for the assault.

The number of bombings in the capital declined following the June 2014 offensive, apparently because the militants were occupied with holding territory they seized and later defending against government attacks.

Federal forces and units from Iraq's autonomous Kurdish region have since pushed IS back in a series of battles over a period of more than two years.

On October 17, Iraqi forces launched a massive operation to recapture Mosul, the country's last city in which IS still holds significant ground.

Iraqi forces punched into the city from the east, retook a series of neighbourhoods and are now approaching the Tigris River, which divides the city into its eastern and western sides. The western side, which is the smaller but more densely populated of the two, remains entirely under IS control.

Iraqi forces have also launched an operation to recapture IS-held towns near the Syrian border that along with Mosul and the northern town of Tal Afar are among the last populated areas under the militants control.

Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said in late December that three months were needed to eliminate IS in the country.

But even if the militants no longer openly hold territory, they can still strike at Iraqi civilians and security forces with bombings and hit-and-run attacks.

dawn.com/news/1307187/is-suicide-bomber-kills-at-least-12-at-baghdad-market

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Terrorists' Religious Leader Acknowledges Defeat in Syria Battle

 

TEHRAN (FNA)- Abdullah Muhammad al-Muhaysini, the religious leader of Jeish al-Fatah coalition of terrorist groups, admitted defeat in battle against the Syrian government, blaming two certain terrorist groups for their humiliating defeats across the country.

The Saudi Mufti (religious leader) underlined that the plan to merge the rebel groups (into a new formation) has failed, blaming Ahrar al-Sham and Fatah al-Sham Front (previously known as the al-Nusra Front) for the devastating defeat Jeish al-Fatah has suffered across the war-hit country.

He further added that he had accepted the entire conditions that Ahrar al-Sham offered him, including resignation of Abu Mohammad al-Joulani from the post of top commander of the fresh groups that they wanted to establish, but Ahrar planned more terms and conditions and raised excessive demands, leading to the coalition's failure.

Last week, social media pages affiliated to the opposition groups started trending Hashtag (#) against Abdullah Muhammad al-Muhaysini, accusing him of promoting ISIL's ideology among other militants.

The social media activists accused him as a promotor of ISIL thoughts under #Al-Muhaysini Did Enough to Destroy Our Revolution.

The activists said al-Muhaysini financed Fatah al-Sham Front (previously known as the al-Nusra Front), but ignored the groups' continued aggressions against militant groups affiliated to the Free Syrian Army.

They also accused al-Muhaysini of keeping mum on Jund al-Aqsa's brutal crimes.   

en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13951018000261

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Video Of Saudi Officer Apparently Renouncing Islam Sparks Controversy

January 8th, 2017

A short clip purporting to show a Saudi military officer abandoning Islam has sparked controversy on social media.

In the 90-second video, a man dressed in military clothing claims that his name is Abdul Wahid Abdul Mohsen and that he is a noncommissioned officer in the Saudi military.

The clip shows the young man announcing that he has “left Islam”, and is fleeing to Germany.

The man alleges that he has seen reports regarding “Operation Decisive Storm”, the Saudi-led military intervention in Yemen, in his capacity as a military secretary. He then threatens to reveal what he calls the “crimes committed by Saudi Arabia against civilians in Yemen” once he reaches Germany.

The contentious and inflammatory video provoked anger on Twitter after it was shared widely on Saturday. The hashtag “a Saudi officer renounces Islam” was tweeted tens of thousands of times over the weekend.

Atheism reaches the Kingdom and must be punished!

However, many have questioned the authenticity of the video, suggesting that the identity card the man holds up is not real.

They haven't done the set-up right... the military identification card isn't authentic... nor is the identification [on his clothing].... Try again!

Some suggested the footage was created as a propaganda stunt on behalf of the Houthi rebels and supporters of ousted president Ali Abdullah Saleh whom the Saudi-led coalition has been fighting in Yemen since March 2015.

The Houthis and Saleh's militias have lost in the field, so they tried to make up for it in the media in a fabricated, acted video clip

In the ultra-conservative Gulf state, atheism is a punishable offence. In 2014, new laws were introduced defining atheists as terrorists, according to Human Rights Watch. Last year, a young Saudi was sentenced to 10 years in prison and 2,000 lashes for expressing his atheism on social media, and refusing to repent.

albawaba.com/loop/video-saudi-officer-apparently-renouncing-islam-sparks-controversy-923146

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Massive tanker bomb kills 48 in Syria border town

AFP | Jan 8, 2017

Rescue workers attend to the wreckage after dozens were killed when a car bomb went off in a rebel-held Syrian town of Azaz along the Turkish border on Jan. 7, 2017 . (AP photo)

Rescue workers attend to the wreckage after dozens were killed when a car bomb went off in a rebel-held Syrian... Read More

BEIRUT: A massive tanker truck bomb ripped through a market by a courthouse in the rebel-held Syrian town of Azaz on Saturday, killing 48 people and wounding dozens near the Turkish border.

The attack appeared to be the deadliest yet in the town in northern Aleppo province, which has been regularly hit by bombings targeting rebels and civilians.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said at least fourteen rebels were among the dead, but most of those killed were civilians, including five religious judges belonging to various rebel factions.

Observatory chief Rami Abdel Rahman said identification of the dead was being hampered by the fact that some bodies were completely burned in the blast.

Video from the scene showed huge clouds of smoke rising from a street filled with debris and twisted metal, which bulldozers were working to clear.

Raging fires were burning in several vehicles, and the fire brigade was battling to put them out with a giant water tanker and hoses.

Azaz has been repeatedly struck by bomb attacks, including in November when rebels said 25 people -- civilians and opposition fighters -- were killed in a car bombing of a rebel headquarters.

The rebels accused the Islamic State group of being behind that attack.

The jihadist group is present elsewhere in Aleppo province and has sought to advance on Azaz in the past.

In October, at least 17 people were killed in a car bomb attack on a rebel checkpoint, the Observatory said.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for Saturday's attack, but Osama al-Merhi, a lawyer at the scene of the blast, pointed the finger at IS.

"These kinds of crimes are only committed by the terrorist group Daesh," he said, using an Arabic acronym for IS.

"They are the ones who target civilians and the cadres who are building this country," he told AFP.

The blast comes during a fragile nationwide ceasefire brokered by government ally Russia and rebel backer Turkey.

The truce came into effect on December 30, and is intended to pave the way for new peace talks in Kazakh capital Astana, which regime ally Iran is also helping organise.

But the ceasefire and the planned talks have been threatened by ongoing violence in the rebel-held Wadi Barada region outside Damascus, which is the main water source for the capital.

Overnight, the Observatory said seven Syrian soldiers and two civilians were killed in clashes.

Fighting in the region has continued despite the truce, which does not apply to IS or former Al-Qaeda affiliate Fateh al-Sham Front, known previously as Al-Nusra Front.

The government says Fateh al-Sham is present in Wadi Barada, and blames rebels there for cutting water to Damascus since December 22.

Rebels deny the jihadist group is in the region and say the mains supply was severed after government strikes hit pumping facilities in the area.

The damage has left 5.5 million people in Damascus and its suburbs without water, according to the UN.

A source close to the regime said a temporary ceasefire had been agreed to allow the repair crews to enter Wadi Barada, though it could take days before the mains supply is restored.

State media on Saturday said however that maintenance teams attempted to reach the area 15 kilometres (10 miles) northwest of Damascus but were forced back by sniper fire.

More than 310,000 people have been killed in Syria since the conflict began in March 2011 with anti-government protests.

The fighting has displaced more than half the population, internally or abroad, and proved stubbornly resistant to international attempts to broker a political solution.

Turkey and Russia want to convene negotiations in Astana later this month, but rebels have suspended participation in preparatory talks, blaming regime "violations" in Wadi Barada.

Elsewhere, an alliance of Arab and Kurdish fighters backed by US special forces moved to within four kilometres (2.5 miles) of the Tabqa dam held by IS, the Observatory said.

The monitor said the Syrian Democratic Forces had taken the last IS-held village between them and the dam on the Euphrates, which is the country's largest.

The dam is just 500 metres (yards) from the town of Tabqa, where many senior IS commanders have been based. afp

timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/middle-east/massive-tanker-bomb-kills-48-in-syria-border-town/articleshow/56398766.cms

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17 dead as Yemen loyalists attack rebels on Red Sea coast

Sunday 8 January 2017

Yemeni government forces attacked rebel positions on the Red Sea coast on Saturday, sparking clashes in which six soldiers and 11 rebels were killed, a loyalist commander said.

The assault on the coastal district of Dhubab, just 30 kilometres (20 miles) north of the Bab al-Madab strait where the busy shipping lane enters the Arabian Sea, came after the government sent reinforcements from its headquarters in Aden.

The government and its allies in a Saudi-led coalition recaptured the strait in October 2015. But the rebels still control nearly all Yemen's Red Sea coast to the north, posing what the coalition says is a threat to international shipping.

In September and October, two US warships and a United Arab Emirates vessel contracted to the coalition were targeted by missile fire from rebel-held territory.

The loyalist offensive failed to dislodge the rebels from their positions as they put up fierce resistance, leaving many wounded on both sides, the commander said.

The Yemeni conflict has killed more than 7,000 people since the coalition's military intervention began in March 2015, according to the United Nations.

dawn.com/news/1306990/17-dead-as-yemen-loyalists-attack-rebels-on-red-sea-coast

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Islamic State hits Baghdad market with deadly car bomb, 13 dead and more than 50 injured

Sunday 8 January 2017

At least 13 dead and more than 50 injured in attack on vegetable market in eastern Baghdad district of Jamila

A suicide car bomb blast claimed by Islamic State killed at least 13 people and wounded more than 50 others at a vegetable market in eastern Baghdad on Sunday, police and medical sources said.

The attacker drove the car through a gate to the market in the mainly Shia district of Jamila, and detonated the bomb after security forces opened fire on the vehicle, a police source said.

Islamic State claimed the attack in an online statement, saying the bomber had targeted "a gathering of Shia" in the area.

A series of attacks in the Iraqi capital and other cities in the country have killed dozens of people in just over a week.

Several have been claimed by Islamic State, which is coming under increasing pressure from a US-backed offensive in Mosul, its last major stronghold in Iraq.

Iraqi forces advanced to within several hundred metres of the Tigris river than runs through Mosul on Saturday, as their operation against the ultra-hardline group gathers pace.

Islamic State is likely to resort to bomb attacks and similar tactics elsewhere in Iraq as it is driven out of its Mosul stronghold.

middleeasteye.net/news/islamic-state-attacks-baghdad-market-deadly-car-bomb-1339433710

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At Least 5 Killed, 15 Injured in Terror Attack in Syria's Damascus Province © Sputnik/ Iliya Pitalev

08.01.2017

At least five were killed and 15 injured after a car bomb exploded in Syria's province of Damascus, state-run SANA news agency reported Sunday, citing a source in the police. © AFP 2016/ ABD DOUMANY Russia Registers 10 Ceasefire Violations in Syria - Defense Ministry MOSCOW (Sputnik) — The car bomb exploded at a crossroad in a village near the Syrian capital of Damascus. Some of the victims are reportedly in critical condition. No group has claimed responsibility for the attack yet. The news comes amid a nationwide ceasefire in Syria, which was brokered by Russia and Turkey and approved by the United Nations. The ceasefire deal in Syria is in effect since December 30. The truce is expected to be followed by peace talks in the Kazakh capital of Astana later this month.

sputniknews.com/middleeast/201701081049369206-damascus-attack-killed/

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Over 100 ISIL Terrorists Killed, Wounded in Syrian, Russian Air Raids in Homs

 

TEHRAN (FNA)- Syrian and Russian warplanes and choppers carried out over 57 combat flights over ISIL's gatherings and movements in Eastern Homs, killing over 63 militants and wounding 40 more.

The warplanes and military helicopters, in a preemptive move, targeted ISIL's concentration centers in the regions of Jabab Hamd, Dhab'at al-Malah, Manoukh, al-Sha'er gas field, al-Shoumeriyeh mountain, Aqayrabat, al-Sukhnah and Arak, killing over 63 terrorists, including eight commanders and wounding 40 more.

The ISIL's plan to attack government forces' positions in T4 airbase was foiled as a result of the heavy bombardments.

Also, ISIL left behind tens of casualties and damaged military hardware and retreated from the battlefield after its attack on government forces' positions in al-Sharifeh region was repelled by the army soldiers on Saturday.

In the meantime, the army men engaged in fierce clashes with ISIL terrorists in al-Sa'an region, leaving a large number of militants dead or wounded.

en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13951019000270

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Nusra Appoints New Commander in Wadi Al-Bardi, Confirming Presence in Western Damascus

 

TEHRAN (FNA)- Fatah al-Sham Front (previously known as the al-Nusra Front) replaced Abu Hashem al-Tali with another notorious commander in Wadi al-Bardi region, acknowledging the group's presence in Western Ghouta.

Fatah al-Sham appointed Abu Sariyeh al-Ordoni as the new commander of terrorists in Wadi al-Bardi region.

While media sources affiliated to terrorists and so-called moderate opposition groups and also media sources affiliated to the Arab backers of the terrorists are accusing the Syrian army of violating the ceasefire, the Fatah al-Sham terrorist group acknowledged presence in Wadi al-Bardi via appointing a new commander for them.

The army has announced many times that its operation in Wadi al-Bardi is only against Fatah al-Sham terrorists.

In the meantime, simultaneous with the cut off of Damascus city's drinking water by the terrorists, negotiations are underway to evacuate militant groups from Wadi al-Bardi.

Military sources said on Friday that the army forwarded a brigade of its elite forces to Wadi al-Bardi region to reinvigorate its troops' combat abilities in Western Ghouta,

The sources disclosed that the army's elite 42nd Brigade of the 4th Mechanized Division were dispatched to the Wadi al-Bardi region.

The 42nd Brigade has been involved in several important battles in the past, including the capture of Yabroud in the Qalamoun Mountains, Darayya, and Khan al-Sheih.

The 42nd Brigade is under the direct command of General Maher Al-Assad and his officers.

The 42nd Brigade will be leading the charge to expel the remaining  rebels from the Wadi al-Bardi.

en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13951018000560

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Russia Seeking to Strengthen Closer Cooperation between Kurds, Damascus

 

TEHRAN (FNA)- Moscow is determined to exhaust all diplomatic channels to pave the ground for closer ties and reciprocal understating between Syrian Kurds and Damascus government, informed sources disclosed on Saturday.

In line with materializing the objectives of a recent meeting between Kurdish officials and the Russians, a delegation form the Kurdish parties is about to take part in negotiations with representative of the Syrian government in Humeimim airbase in Lattakia province, said the sources.

Reports also said that although the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) has had limited advances in Raqqa operation, they still insist on establishing a federalism system.

Advisor to Co-Chairman of the Kurdish Democratic Union Sihanuk Dibo told the Arabic language al-Akhbar that the meeting between Kurdish official and Damascus representatives will be a giant stride towards narrowing gaps and differences between the two sides to resolve the Syrian crisis.

"They (Kurds) are still insisting on establishing a Democratic Federal System in the Republic of Syria to end crisis in the country," Dibo pointed out.

Diplomatic sources disclosed earlier today that Russia is to host high-ranking Syrian Army Generals to carry out the necessary coordination before the start of a fresh round of peace talks in Kazakhstan that is to be held later this month.

The Arabic language al-Hadath news website quoted diplomatic sources as saying that the Russians are to hold a three-day-long meeting with three ranking officers of the Syrian Army.

The Syrian officers are those who will represent the Syrian government in Astana peace talks later this month.

Russian is believed to present a diplomatic road map in Astana to end Syria's crisis. Moscow tries to persuade the entire participants in the Astana peace talks to agree its road map.

Russia intends to pave the preliminary steps for the Geneva talks in February via its plan in Astana peace negotiations.    

en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13951018001117

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Islamic State senior doctor killed in Kirkuk airstrike: source

Jan 8, 2017

Kirkuk (IraqiNews.com) A doctor working for the Islamic State was killed on Sunday an an airstrike by international coalition jets on southwest Kirkuk, a security source told DPA.

Islam Taha al-Obeidi, aka Dr. Muawiya, was killed along with four aides in central Haiwija in an airstrike by fighter jets from the US-led military coalition backing Iraqi government forces against Islamic State militants.

DPA quoted the security source as saying that Obeidi was senior frontline IS member who was in charge of handling wounded group commanders.

IS are still holding minor strongholds in southwest Kirkuk and a few other Iraqi cities that are awaiting the launch of security operations for their liberation. But their most outstanding stronghold is the city of Mosul, where they have been sustaining losses among senior leaderships and fighters in a security campaign running since mid October to retake the city occupied by the extremist group since 2014. Government and military officials say they retook almost a half of Mosul and hope to recapture the whole city within weeks.

iraqinews.com/iraq-war/islamic-state-senior-doctor-killed-kirkuk-airstrike-source/

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4 soldiers killed, 3 wounded in Islamic State attack west of Anbar

by Mohamed Mostafa

Jan 8, 2017

Anbar (IraqiNews.com) Four Iraqi soldiers were killed and three others were wounded on Sunday when Islamic State militants attacked an area recaptured recently by security forces west of Anbar province.

Nazem al-Jughiefi, an intelligence commander at al-Hashd al-Shaabi (Popular Mobilization Units) in the town of Haditha, said IS militants attacked a security force securing al-Sakra region, which was recaptured on Saturday by security and tribal forces. He said four soldiers and four militants were killed in the attack.

He added that the forces also seized arms and vehicles used in the attack by the extremist group.

Islamic State militants have been holding locations west of Anbar, close the borders with Syria, since the group emerged to the scene in Iraq in 2014 to proclaim the establishment of a self-styled Islamic State across many regions of the country. Since then, it had launched occasional attacks on civilians and security in Anbar from those strongholds, with security forces, backed by fighter jets from a US-led military coalition, responding with recurrent airstrikes.

Last week, the Iraqi army command in Anbar announced a first security campaign backed by tribal militias to liberate the western regions of the province.

But most of attention is given to a battle running since October 2016 to retake Mosul, IS’s biggest stronghold in Iraq, the recapture of which would represent the strongest blow to the group’s existence in the country.

iraqinews.com/iraq-war/4-soldiers-killed-3-wounded-islamic-state-attack-west-anbar/

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Saudi Arabia says man who planned mosque attack killed in shootout

Published January 08, 2017

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates –  Saudi Arabia says the man who planned a suicide bombing in July outside of the mosque where the Prophet Muhammad is buried is one of the two extremists killed in a shootout with police in Riyadh.

Interior Ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Mansour al-Turki said Taie bin Salem bin Yaslam al-Saya'ari was killed Saturday by police in the capital's northern Yasmeen neighborhood.

The July 4 bombing outside of the Medina mosque killed four Saudi security force members and wounded five.

Millions of Muslims from around the world visit the mosque every year as part of their pilgrimage to Mecca.

The same day, separate suicide bomb attacks targeted a Shiite mosque in eastern Saudi Arabia and the U.S. Consulate in Jiddah.

The state-run Saudi Press Agency reported al-Turki's comments early Sunday.

foxnews.com/world/2017/01/08/saudi-arabia-says-man-who-planned-mosque-attack-killed-in-shootout.html

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Saudi Army's Joint Military Operation Room Destroyed in Najran Province

 

TEHRAN (FNA)- The Yemeni army and popular forces pounded the military positions and gathering centers of the Saudi government troops in Najran, destroying the kingdom's military operation room in the province.

The Saudi army's joint military operation room in al-Khazra border crossing in Najran province came under the Yemeni forces' attack, killing six Saudi army troops and injuring nine others.

The Yemeni forces also pounded the Saudi-backed militias' positions in Asilan region in Shabwah province, killing several militias and destroying their military equipment.

In a relevant development on Thursday, Yemeni Army's missile units targeted Saudi-led coalition forces in Ta'iz province, killing or wounding at least 150 of them.

Local sources said that the Yemeni Army carried out the attack on a gathering of the Saudi-led forces in Sha'ab al-Jin near Bab al-Mandeb region, inflicting over 150 casualties on them.

They further added that the attack also ended in at least ten military vehicles of the Saudi-led coalition forces being destroyed.

The local sources also noted that among the casualties were militants who were recently transferred to the port city of Aden, located 170km to Bab al-Mandeb, on a Turkish plane.

The contingent of Saudi-led forces arrived in the strategic region just two days ago, apparently for a major military assault on the Yemeni forces.

On Saturday, the Yemeni security sources disclosed that the Turkish plane has transferred Al-Qaeda terrorists from Syria's Northern city of Aleppo to Aden and evacuated wounded pro-Saudi militias to medical treatment centers outside the country when returning to Turkey.

"The Turkish airplane landed at Aden International Airport to transfer the pro-Saudi mercenaries wounded in the Yemeni forces' offensives in Ta'iz province for treatment in Turkish hospitals," the Arabic-language al-Ahd news website quoted informed sources as saying.

The sources noted that some 150 al-Qaeda terrorists stepped out of the plane as soon as it landed, adding that they had been relocated from Syria's Aleppo to Aden.

en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13951018000831

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Ta'iz Province: Saudi Arabia's Newly-Sent Weapons for Militias Fully Destroyed by Yemeni Forces

 

TEHRAN (FNA)- A senior commander of the Yemeni popular forces disclosed that a newly-arrived consignment of the Saudi weapons for the Riyadh-backed militias has been completely destroyed in Ta'iz province.

"The Saudi-backed mercenaries had received new weapons from Saudi Arabia through sea and Bab al-Mandab Strait; therefore the Yemeni army and popular forces pounded the militias and their new weapons in al-Jan military base in Ta'iz province near Bab al-Mandab with a ballistic missile which resulted in the destruction of all the weapons which were recently sent by Saudi Arabia," Senior Ansarullah Commander Abdollah Hesam told FNA on Saturday.

He noted that tens of Saudi-backed militias were killed and wounded in missile attack.

"The Yemeni missile unit attacked a battalion of the Saudi-backed militias who planned to advance towards Kahboub, killing and wounding a large number of them," Hesam added.

The commander went on to say that the military operations in Kahboub region were reminiscent of last year's attack of the Yemeni forces on Sahn al-Jen military base in Ma'arib which resulted in the death and injury of a large number of Saudi-backed militias.

In a relevant development on Thursday, Yemeni Army's missile units targeted Saudi-led coalition forces in Ta'iz province, killing or wounding at least 150 of them.

Local sources said that the Yemeni Army carried out the attack on a gathering of the Saudi-led forces in Sha'ab al-Jin near Bab al-Mandeb region, inflicting over 150 casualties on them.

They further added that the attack also ended in at least ten military vehicles of the Saudi-led coalition forces being destroyed.

The local sources also noted that among the casualties were militants who were recently transferred to the port city of Aden, located 170km to Bab al-Mandeb, on a Turkish plane.

The contingent of Saudi-led forces arrived in the strategic region just two days ago, apparently for a major military assault on the Yemeni forces.

On Saturday, the Yemeni security sources disclosed that the Turkish plane has transferred Al-Qaeda terrorists from Syria's Northern city of Aleppo to Aden and evacuated wounded pro-Saudi militias to medical treatment centers outside the country when returning to Turkey.

"The Turkish airplane landed at Aden International Airport to transfer the pro-Saudi mercenaries wounded in the Yemeni forces' offensives in Ta'iz province for treatment in Turkish hospitals," the Arabic-language al-Ahd news website quoted informed sources as saying.

The sources noted that some 150 al-Qaeda terrorists stepped out of the plane as soon as it landed, adding that they had been relocated from Syria's Aleppo to Aden.

en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13951018000766

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South Asia

Taliban reacts at US plan to deploy 300 soldiers in Helmand

By KHAAMA PRESS - Sun Jan 08 2017

The Taliban militant group reacted on US military plan to deploy around 300 soldiers in southern Helmand province of Afghanistan, claiming that the deployment of additional forces indicate the defeat of the Afghan and US forces in Helmand battle.

“Yesterday American military commanders announced that 300 extra US troops will be deployed to Helmand in the upcoming spring to help their local puppet forces.

This announcement comes after 100 American SOF troops were also deployed last summer to defend Lashkar Gah but was promptly pulled back to Camp Bastion after they suffered heavy losses,” a statement released by Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid reads.

“At the same time the American military brass has kept hundreds of troops active in a key military base named Camp Dwyer in Garmsir district of Helmand province away from the sight of their citizens,” the statement said, adding that “This on top of hundreds of more foreign invaders residing at Camp Bastion in Helmand’s Shorab.”

“Announcing the deployment of more forces to Helmand on top of presence of the above American troops is solely to lend morale to the defeated troops of the stooge Kabul administration in hopes they hold out until spring,” the statement added.

The decision by US Marines to deploy forces to Helmand comes as the province has been witnessing firece clashes during the recent months as the Taliban group attempted take control of the strategic parts Helmand as part of their deadly spring offensive.

Task Force Southwest, led by Brig Gen Roger Turner, “will train and advise key leaders within the Afghan National Army 215th Corps and the 505th Zone National Police,” a statement published by the corps on Friday read.

According to the Afghan officials, the Taliban group attempted to shift some of its leadership to Helmand BT seizing control of the strategic Lashkargah city and other key districts.

khaama.com/taliban-reacts-at-us-plan-to-deploy-300-soldiers-in-helmand-02631

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Gunmen open fire on cricketer Shapoor Zadran in Kabul

By KHAAMA PRESS - Sun Jan 08 2017

Unknown gunmen have opened fire on Afghan cricketer Shapoor Zadran in capital Kabul.

According to reports, the incident took place late on Saturday night in the vicinity of Bagrami area of Kabul.

Reports indicate Zadran has managed to escape the attack unhurt after receiving several bullets in his vehicle.

Zadran was reportedly going towards his house together with his brother when they came under attack by unknown gunmen who have managed to flee the area.

Sources close to Zadran area saying that this is not the first time unknown gunmen have carried out failed attack on him.

No group or individual has so far claimed responsibility behind the incident.

The Afghanistan cricket board has not reacted towards the report and attack on Zadran so far.

khaama.com/gunmen-open-fire-on-cricketer-shapoor-zadran-in-kabul-02630

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Afghanistan signs $11.4m contract to establish prefabricated construction factory

By KHAAMA PRESS - Sat Jan 07 2017

A contract worth $11.4 million for the establishment of prefabricated construction factory was signed in the presence of President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani today.

The Minister of Urban Development and Housing Syed Sadat Mansoor Naderi signed the contract with the head of a Turkish construction firm in ARG Presidential Palace.

The signing ceremony was also attended by a number of other ministers and lawmakers of the lower house of the parliament, Wolesi Jirga.

According to a statement by the Ministry of Urban Development and Housing, the cost for the establishment of the factory will be around $11.4 million and will be paid from the government resources.

The statement further added that the factory will become operational in the next 12 months.

The factory will pave the way for the production of around 300,000 cubic meters of prefabricated construction materials for the schools, hospitals, universities, affordable housing units, and other public properties, the ministry said.

It also added that the prefabricated construction materials will help reduce the construction cost by almost $274 per meter with the materials to be manufactured in two to four months.

According to the ministry, the current construction cost per meter is currently around $350 where nonstandard materials are used for the construction against the standard norms, specifically in schools which are built over a period of nine to twelve months.

The prefabricated construction factory will mainly focus on governmental infrastructures, including schools and hospitals in the beginning and once it becomes operational.

khaama.com/afghanistan-signs-11-4m-contract-to-establish-prefabricated-construction-factory-02628

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2 key Taliban leaders among 19 killed in Afghan forces operations: MoD

By KHAAMA PRESS - Sat Jan 07 2017

At least 19 Taliban insurgents including two leaders of the group were killed during joint military operations of the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces.

The Ministry of Defense (MoD) said Saturday that the militants were killed in the past 24 hours in various provinces.

A statement by MoD said at least 15 Taliban insurgents were also wounded during the operations.

The statement further added at least 6 militants were killed and two others were wounded in Tarinkot city of Uruzgan.

At least 4 of the militants were killed in Khashrod district of Nimruz and 2 others were wounded, MoD said, adding that 5 militants were killed and 9 others were wounded in Andar district of Ghazni.

According to MoD, the two top leaders were killed in Nahr-e-Saraj district of Helmand but no further details were given regarding their identities.

The Ministry also added that two militants were killed in Tagab district of Kapisa province.

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

khaama.com/2-key-taliban-leaders-among-19-killed-in-afghan-forces-operations-mod-02627

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Southeast Asia

King of ‘dangdut’ promotes tolerant, peaceful Islam through politics

Jakarta | Sun, January 8, 2017

King of ‘dangdut’ promotes tolerant, peaceful Islam through politics Gearing up -- The king of 'dangdut', Rhoma Irama, gives a speech during the Peaceful and Benign Islam (Idaman) Party's national meeting in Depok, West Java, on Jan. 8. (JP/Nurul Fitri Ramadhani)

The self-styled king of dangdut, Rhoma Irama, appeared on stage on Sunday to mark the very first national meeting of his new political party, the Peaceful and Benign Islam (Idaman) Party.

Rhoma, who established the party in 2015 and serves as its chairman, elaborated the Idaman Party’s political vision and mission by singing five songs accompanied by his band, the Soneta Group.

Among the songs he sang were "Persatuan" (Unity), "250 Juta Jiwa" (250 Million Indonesian People) and "Adu Domba" (Playing One against Another). They tell about the need of everyone to maintain unity in diversity and to avoid provocations that might divide the nation.

Known as a singer who promotes moral values through his songs, such as "Begadang" (Stay Up All Night) and "Judi" (Gambling), Rhoma said the party would adopt the Indonesian ideology of Pancasila and promote Islamic values, namely tolerance and pluralism.

“Through these songs, I want to express that Idaman has a mission to show all people that Islam brings peace and tolerance, that Islam respects other religions and doesn't accept any acts of terrorism,” he said.

Enthusiastic -- The king of 'dangdut', Rhoma Irama, (front, center) responds to journalists' queries during a press conference after the Peaceful and Benign Islam (Idaman) Party's national meeting in Depok, West Java, on Jan. 8.(JP/Nurul Fitri Ramadhani)

Idaman obtained legal status as a political party on Dec.13 last year after it previously failed to pass verification with the Law and Human Rights Ministry because it could not meet minimum requirements.

Now legal, the party aims to be among the top five in the 2019 legislative elections, Rhoma said.

However, Idaman must first get verification from the General Elections Commission (KPU) before it can compete in the campaign.

Idaman Party secretary-general Ramdansyah said he was confident it could achieve its high expectations because Rhoma and the dangdut-related characteristics of the party might attract voters.

“The public wants a well-known figure for politics. At the end, we should have a cultural approach. With Rhoma and dangdut we’ll have our own characteristics in politics and attract people," Ramdansyah said. (ebf)

thejakartapost.com/news/2017/01/08/king-of-dangdut-promotes-tolerant-peaceful-islam-through-politics.html

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Philippine police raid Islamic centre before Catholic event

January 8, 2017

MANILA (AFP) - Philippine police raided an Islamic centre in Manila and briefly detained scores of people as part of heightened security before a major Catholic festival, a spokeswoman said on Sunday (Jan 8).

Two men were arrested for illegal drugs during the raid on the Islamic Centre in the heart of Manila on Saturday, as authorities warned of possible attacks by Islamic militants when the Feast of the Black Nazarene reaches its peak on Monday.

"This is part of security preparations for the Feast of the Black Nazarene," Chief Inspector Marissa Bruno, spokeswoman for the Manila police, told AFP.

She said 82 other people at the centre had been taken to a police station but were released soon afterwards when it was found they had no warrants outstanding.

Bruno denied that police had targeted the Islamic Centre, which includes a mosque, saying that other parts of the city had also been subjected to police operations.

Authorities have been on alert for possible attacks by Islamic militants to disrupt the Black Nazarene event, which is expected to attract millions of Filipinos.

The annual festival sees huge numbers of barefoot devotees crowding to touch a life-size and dark-skinned statue of Jesus that is reputed to have healing powers.

Two people were killed and hundreds injured during the crush of humanity at last year's event.

Security forces have said there is no report of a "direct threat" to the festival this year but they are wary that Muslim extremists may seek revenge for the killing of a pro-Islamic State militant leader last week.

Mohammad Jaafar Maguid, alias "Tokboy", founder and leader of the Ansarul Khilafa Philippines (AKP), was killed by security forces on Thursday.

His group is known to be a supporter of the IS group and has been blamed for various bombings and attacks.

Investigators are still looking into whether the AKP was involved in a bombing in the southern city of Davao in September which killed 15 people gathered in a popular park.

Local Muslim extremists have previously launched attacks on Christian targets, playing on longstanding tensions between the country's Christian majority and the Muslim minority.

straitstimes.com/asia/se-asia/philippine-police-raid-islamic-centre-before-catholic-event

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French FM, Kofi Annan discuss Burmese Muslims

08-01-2017

Paris, (Kuna)-French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault late Friday Contacted former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan concerning the plight of the Rohingya Muslim Population being persecuted in Rakhine state, to the west of Burma.

Ayrault and Annan discussed "the means for the international community to act in the face of this drama" for the muslim population, a statement said here on saturday. Ayarault reiterated his support for Annan's Commision and the two men agreed to stay in close contact on this issue.

Annan has been appointed as President of the Advisory Commission on Rakhine State, where the Rohingya Muslims are under severe threat from ethinic attacks that are being tolerated and possibly encouraged by Burmese authorities.

Earlier this week, France expressed "deep concern" about the situation for the Rohingya amid reports of genocide by mainly Buddhist militias and forced evictions of Muslims from Rakhine.

kuna.net.kw/ArticleDetails.aspx?id=2584937&Language=en

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India

Shahi Imam of Kolkata mosque issues 'fatwa' against PM Narendra Modi

By NewsX Bureau

January 8, 2017

Soon as the fatwa was issued, BJP National Secretary Sidharth Nath Singh condemned Syed's action

New Delhi: Expressing his condemnation at the effects of demonetisation in the country, the Imam of Kolkata's Tipu Sultan mosque on Sunday issued a 'fatwa' against Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

The Shahi Imam, known as Syed Mohammad Nurur Rahman Barkati, said that people were being harassed every day due to the demonetisation.

“Modi is bluffing the society and the innocent people of the country through demonetisation and nobody wants him to continue as the Prime Minister,” the Imam said at the joint conference by the All India Majlis-e-Sura and All India Minority Forum.

Soon as the fatwa was issued, BJP National Secretary Sidharth Nath Singh condemned Syed's action and demanded his arrest.

"The fatwa against our Prime Minister is highly condemnable. TMC MP Idris Ali was sitting next to him when he issued the fatwa," said Singh.

newsx.com/national/51957-shahi-imam-of-kolkata-mosque-issues-fatwa-against-pm-narendra-modi

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159 years later, Waris Ali accepted as freedom fighter

Jan 08, 2017

Muzaffarpur (Bihar) administration has accepted Waris Ali as a freedom fighter after 159 years of his execution by the British.

Muzaffarpur (Bihar) administration has accepted Waris Ali as a freedom fighter after 159 years of his execution by the British. Waris Ali was a jamadar of police in Motipur when he led a gherao by 12000 farmers of a jail and helped freedom fighters.

Three years back Delhi's New India Foundation had asked Muzaffarpur administration to declare Waris Ali as a freedom fighter and martyr. He was arrested on 22 June, 1857. He was found guilty in a one-day hearing on 6 July, 1857 by a Patna court and hanged in what is now Gandhi Maidan in Bihar capital. New India Foundation has published a book about Waris Ali.

milligazette.com/news/15354-159-years-later-waris-ali-accepted-as-freedom-fighter-india-muslim

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BJP MP Sakshi Maharaj booked for remark on Muslim population, EC seeks report

Sandeep Rai | TNN | Jan 8, 2017

MEERUT: A day after Unnao BJP MP Sakshi Maharaj blamed a particular community for the population explosion in the country, the EC sought a report on the incident from the district magistrate on Saturday. This came even as police booked the leader for making "objectionable and communally charged statements against a particular religion".

Mahender Das, mahant of Balaji temple and organiser of the event at which Sakshi spoke, had been booked on Friday itself as he had allegedly held the function without the administration's permission.

The administration has now sent a detailed report to the EC along with the video of the event in which Sakshi made the controversial remarks.

The BJP MP had said at a 'sant sammelan' in Meerut on Friday that "those with four wives and 40 children are responsible for the rapid population growth in the country. He said that Hindus are not responsible for the increase in population and that there should be a "strong law" to deal with issues relating to birth control. He then went on to say that money from India's substantial beef exports was being used to foment terrorism.

The MP had two years ago said at the same venue that "every Hindu woman must produce at least four children in order to protect the Hindu religion".

Facing severe criticism, Sakshi remained unfazed, saying he did not name any community and that he was "merely expressing concern".

He said, "I did not make any communal speech. It was a gathering of sants during which I expressed concern about population explosion in the country. My speech has been videographed and nowhere did I name any community."

Earlier in the day, Meerut district magistrate B Chandrakala told TOI, "We were asked for a report in the matter by the EC. Following this, city superintendent of police and additional district magistrate were deputed to look into it and produce a report within two hours."

Meerut senior superintendent of police J Ravindra Goud told TOI, "After getting evidence that Sakshi Maharaj had made communal statements, he was booked for violating model code of conduct."

timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/bjp-mp-sakshi-maharaj-booked-for-remark-on-muslim-population-ec-seeks-report/articleshow/56397967.cms

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Pakistan

Police question suspects as search for Tayyaba continues

January 8th, 2017

ISLAMABAD: In their search for Tayyaba, the minor housemaid allegedly tortured by the family of an Islamabad additional district and sessions judge, capital police have so far brought in two suspects for questioning.

In addition, investigators have compiled a list of over a dozen mobile phone numbers, which is being used to trace the whereabouts of Mohammad Azam and Nusrat Bibi, the couple purported to be Tayyaba’s parents who had taken her away submitting affidavits of a compromise with the ADSJ’s family.

While police teams have been unable to locate the missing family, at least two people have been brought to Islamabad after being picked up in raids in the twin cities, Lahore, Faisalabad and Jaranwala.

Those in custody include Tayyaba’s paternal aunt – identified as Pathana Bibi – and the son of a woman who supposedly secured Tayyaba’s employment at ADSJ Raja Khurram Ali Khan’s residence.

An officer privy to the investigation told Dawn: “Investigators have 12 to 15 mobile numbers, through which the girl and her parents are being traced.”

Law enforcement officials are also reviewing footage from the Safe City CCTV cameras to track the movement of Tayyaba and her purported parents from the courtroom when the girl was handed over to her father.

Investigators have also approached the National Database and Registration Authority to obtain the family tree of the girl’s father and track down their other relatives.

dawn.com/news/1307087/police-question-suspects-as-search-for-tayyaba-continues?preview

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Minorities’ vote bank reaches close to 3m

January 8th, 2017

ISLAMABAD: The vote bank of religious minorities has widened to reach close to three million, with 13 districts in Sindh and two in Punjab having significant presence of minorities placing them in a position to alter the electoral scene in many constituencies.

According to a document of the Election Commission of Pakistan available with Dawn, the number of minority vote stands at 2.99 million — up from 2.77m which was the case before the 2013 general elections.

Hindu voters have a dominating majority among all the minority communities with their number (1.49m) constituting half of the total non-Muslim voters in the country. They are mostly concentrated in Sindh where their number comes to over 1.39m. A total of 73,152 Hindu voters live in Punjab, 22,766 in Balochistan, 4,022 in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, 586 in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata) and 188 in the Islamabad Capital Territory.

With over 1.49m voters Hindus top the list

Christians form the second largest non-Muslim voters, totalling 1.32m with over 1m settled in Punjab followed by 209,083 in Sindh, 29,173 in Islamabad, 26,814 in KP, 16,279 in Balochistan and 1,345 in Fata.

The total number of Ahmadi voters in Pakistan is 119,749 of which 101,156 are dwelling in Punjab, 14,855 in Sindh, 2,134 in Islamabad, 1,140 in KP, 451 in Balochistan and 13 in Fata.

Of the total 6,193 Sikh voters, 2,597 live in KP, 1,477 in Sindh, 1,157 in Punjab, 730 in Fata, 225 in Balochistan and seven in Islamabad.

Of the total 3,743 Parsi voters, 2,487 are from Sindh, 723 belong to KP, 254 to Punjab, 250 to Balochistan, 16 to Fata and 13 to Islamabad.

There are 1,643 Buddhist voters and most live in Sindh and Punjab.

Among other religious communities, around 900 are Jews.

According to official statistics obtained before the 2013 elections, there were 2.77m non-Muslim voters in the country. The data showed that Umerkot and Tharparkar districts in Sindh had as high as 49 per cent and 46pc non-Muslim voters, respectively. In Umerkot, there were a total of 386,924 voters of which 189,501 belonged to the religious minorities. In Tharparkar, out of a total of 473,189 voters, 219,342 were non-Muslim.

In Mirpurkhas, the total number of voters was 590,035 and among them 192,357 (33pc) were non-Muslim. In Tando Allahyar, 74,954 non-Muslims constitute 26pc of the total 288,460 voters.

In Tando Mohammad Khan, 39,847 non-Muslims accounted for 17pc of total 231,522 voters. In Matiari, 81,589 non-Muslims constituted 13pc of total 302,265 voters. In Karachi (south), total number of voters was 1,070,321 and among them 81,589 (8pc) were non-Muslim. In Ghotki and Hyderabad, 41,031 and 62,243 non-Muslims accounted for 7pc of the total 571,636 and 928,236 voters, respectively.

In Chiniot and Lahore districts of Punjab, 35,335 and 247,827 non-Muslims constituted 6pc of the total 604,991 and 4,424,314 voters, respectively. In Jamshoro and Kashmore districts of Sindh, 18,912 and 17,495 non-Muslims were 5pc of the total 373,097 and 355,904 voters, respectively.

Among 2.77m non-Muslim voters registered before the 2013 polls, 1.40m were Hindus, 1.23m Christians, 115,966 Ahmadis, 5,934 Sikhs, 3,650 Parsis, 1,452 Buddhists and 809 Jews. Jews and Parsis were two minorities in which the number of women voters was higher than that of men. There were 1,915 Parsi female voters against 1,735 male voters. Likewise, the number of Jewish women voters was 427 against 382 men in the community.

Number of minorities’ voters

Hindu 1,498,275

Christian 1,325,433

Ahmadi 119,749

Sikh 6,193

Parsi 3,743

Buddhist 1,643

Other communities 42,805

Total 2,997,841

dawn.com/news/1307120/minorities-vote-bank-reaches-close-to-3m

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Pakistan military courts wound up after 2 years

PTI | Jan 7, 2017

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan's controversial military courts which had sentenced 161 militants to death were wound up today, two years after they were set up for speedy trial of hardcore terrorists following the deadly Taliban attack on an army school that killed nearly 150 children.

The courts were established through an amendment in the Constitution after the horrendous attack on a school in Peshawar on December 16, 2014.

The move generated heated debate as the courts were billed by rights activists as violation of basic human rights as enshrined in the Constitution of the country and international charters.

However, they were allowed to function after the Supreme Court upheld as valid the 21st constitutional amendment and the Pakistan Army (Amendment) Bill, 2015, enacted by Parliament in 2015.

The amendment ensured that the courts will end after two years through insertion of the "sunset clause".

There was no formal statement either from the government or the military announcing the end of the extraordinary powers for trial of civilians by the military, as they are deemed to end after a fixed time period of two years.

The first convictions under the military court were in April, 2015 and the last ones were pronounced on December 28, 2016.

The courts were given 275 cases during two-year and they sentenced 161 terrorists to death, whereas another 116 were given varying jail terms, mostly life sentences.

Only 12 convicts have been executed so far, according to the army. The trials resulted in convictions, imprisonment of and death sentences against terrorists belonging to al-Qaeda, Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan, Jamaatul Ahrar, Toheedwal Jihad Group, Jaish-e-Muhammad, Harkat-ul-Jehad-i-Islami, Lashkar-i-Jhangvi, Lashkar-i-Jhangvi Al-Alami, Lashkar-i-Islami, and Sipah-i-Sahaba.

The perpetrators of the Peshawar school attack were among the militants hanged after conviction in the military courts.

The terrorism cases which were sent to military courts from now onward will be heard in the anti-terrorism courts already functional in the country.

The special court system ended after another anti-terror law known as Protection of Pakistan Act expired last year. It allowed for detention of militants for 90 days without permission of the courts.

Pakistan's newly-appointed army chief Qamar Javed Bajwa last month confirmed the death sentences of 21 "hardcore terrorists" by the military courts.

timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/pakistan/pakistan-military-courts-wound-up-after-2-years/articleshow/56390856.cms

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Ex-Pakistani army chief to head Islamic Military Alliance

January 07 2017

Pakistan’s former army chief, retired General Raheel Sharif, is said to be on his way to becoming the top commander of a Saudi-led Islamic Military Alliance.

General Raheel retired in November last year after completing his three-year term as the chief of the army staff.

When he was in office, rumours were rife that Saudi Arabia wanted him to command the alliance of Muslim countries, of which Pakistan is also a part, for fighting terrorism and extremism.

According to media reports, Gen Raheel went to Saudi Arabia on Dec 27 on a special invitation of the Saudi government.

Details of his visit were not made public, but social media was abuzz with reports that he had formally accepted the offer to command the coalition.

The Wikipedia page of the Islamic Military Alliance also contained his name as the commander in chief.

When quizzed on the subject in a Geo News programme, Defence Minister Khawaja Asif indirectly confirmed that Gen Raheel had been made the chief of the 39-nation coalition to combat terrorism.

Talat Hussain, the host of the TV programme, asked the minister whether Gen Raheel had accepted the position after getting government’s permission.

“I don’t know its details as this thing was finalised a day or two ago so definitely it would include our government’s approval as he could not independently assume a responsibility,” he said.

The minister went on to say that any such assignment or posting required proper clearance both from the federal government and the General Headquarters (GHQ) and a due process was followed before finalising the agreement.

“As you are aware that this thing was in the pipeline for quite some time and the prime minister was also part of the deliberations,” he added.

The defence minister’s vague remarks notwithstanding, there is no official confirmation on Gen Raheel’s appointment.

In a thinly veiled reference to the exclusion of some countries, including Iran, Iraq and Syria, the minister said he believed that the whole Ummah should be part of this alliance “without any exception”. If General Raheel heads the Saudi-led alliance, he would be the first army chief to have accepted a military job after retirement.

In recent history, former COAS Gen Jehangir Karamat was the only one who had accepted a government offer to work as Pakistan’s ambassador to the United States during the tenure of former military ruler Gen Pervez Musharraf.

Gen Karamat had returned to an active job in 2004 — six years after he resigned as the army chief.

The Saudi-led military alliance was announced on Dec 15, 2015, “to fight terrorism, with a joint operations centre based in Riyadh to co-ordinate and support military operations”. It was said that the alliance had “a duty to protect the Islamic nation from the evils of all terrorist groups and organisations whatever their sect and name which wreak death and corruption on earth and aim to terrorise the innocent”.

Egypt, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Turkey, Malaysia, Pakistan and many Gulf Arab and African states are included in the alliance.

However, Iran is not among the member-states.

Pakistan had confirmed its participation in the alliance but said at the time that it was awaiting further details to decide “the extent of its participation in different activities of the alliance”.

The United States had also welcomed the formation of the alliance and said that an intensification of the effort against the militant Islamic State group as well as against other terrorist network was a welcome move.

gulf-times.com/story/527269/Ex-Pakistani-army-chief-to-head-Islamic-Military-A

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Africa

Pig's snout left at Cape Town mosque

Western Cape / 8 January 2017, 12:35pm

Tanya Petersen

This pig snout was left at Simons Town mosque. Picture: Facebook

Cape Town - In what the Muslim Judicial Council (MJC) is calling an act of Islamophobia, a pig’s snout and blood were placed outside the door of the Simon’s Town Mosque on Saturday.

In a whatsapp message, a representative from the mosque said: “Some terrible news. This morning after fajr (morning prayers) a pig’s nose and blood was left on the Simon’s Town mosque’s door.”

MJC member Imam Fuad Samaai, who lodged a case of crimen injuria with the police, said the pig’s blood and snout were found outside the mosque early Saturday.

He suspects it was placed there overnight.

“It is an insult and shows total disregard and lack of respect to a world religion. It insults our Muslim commu- nity.” He said it degraded the sanctity of a place of worship. He said that the mosque is one of the oldest in South Africa.

In Islam the pig is considered haraam (not permissable) to consume.“We are of the opinion that all religious sanctuaries must be preserved. In this case it is an attack on an entire community and a place of worship.”

He said the constitution states that everybody is entitled to the right to religious freedom. Samaai said the MJC believes in peaceful co-existence. “We are not going to incite people to violence. People in Cape Town are generally tolerant of each other’s religion.”

Simon’s Town, he said is one of Cape Town’s oldest Muslim communities. “They work together as a community.”

He said people must let the law run its course and that the MJC plans to take the matter to the Human Rights Commission.

MJC deputy president Moulana Abdul Khaliq Allie, said: “We condemn this particular incident. We are calling on our community to remain compliant and we hope the authorities will bring the perpetrators to book.”

“The incident is offensive and criminal,” said Allie. He stressed that people must not retaliate. Reverend Gordon Richard Oliver of the Cape Town Interfaith Initiative said they also condemned the incident.

“We condemn this act in the strongest terms. We also offer our deepest concern and compassion to the Muslim community of Simon’s Town. This seriously offends all that is good and noble in human kind. It offends the basic values of all religions.”

He said people should have respect for all religions. But he adds that religious tolerance in Cape Town is highly valued. “It is very rare that these kinds of acts happen in Cape Town. We hope this doesn’t happen again.”

Police confirmed that the incident took place and that a case of crimen injuria has been been lodged at the Simon’s Town police station and the matter is being investigated.

Earlier in the week, Liam Ferreira posted hate speech directed at the Muslim community.

“I think its a crime the (sic) no one is sanding (standing) up to those muslim bastards (sic) blaring their call to pray 5 times a day over massive speakers. Why do i need to put up with an Arabic tradition created in the dessert (sic) thousands of years ago. Stand up for yourselves !!! Burn it down!!!”

According to media reports he has since submitted a formal apology.

iol.co.za/news/south-africa/western-cape/pigs-snout-left-at-cape-town-mosque-7354309

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Islamic Cleric explains absence at President Akufo-Addo’s investiture

 

Sheikh Ustaz Jibril predicted a win for Nana Akufo-Addo and Donald Trump in the 2016 electionsl

An Islamic cleric, numerologist and philosopher whose prediction on USA and Ghana Elections was accurate, Sheikh Ustaz Sham-una Jibril has explained why he did not attend Nana Addo inauguration.

“I want to bring to the attention of the world, my viewers and followers that some NPP supporters have decided to print t-shirts with my photograph to congratulate me for a perfect prediction on the December 7, election. Due to this, I have decided to excuse myself from the inauguration”

“Lastly I want to reaffirm my status that I don’t belong or work for any political party as I said in my previous articles. Allah Knows Best” he told Peacefmonline.com

Nana Addo was today sworn in as President and Dr Mahamudu Bawumia as Vice President of the 4th Republic of Ghana.

ghanaweb.com/GhanaHomePage/NewsArchive/Islamic-Cleric-Explains-Why-He-Did-Not-Attend-Prez-Nana-Addo-s-Swearing-in-Ceremony-499318

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Europe

Rumi film to challenge Muslim stereotypes

ARAB NEWS | Published — Sunday 8 January 2017

Producers of the film said they would like Leonardo DiCaprio to play Rumi.

LONDON: Oscar-winning screenwriter David Franzoni said a biopic about the 13th-century poet Jalaluddin Al-Rumi aims to challenge the stereotypical portrayal of Muslim characters in western cinema.

Franzoni, who wrote the script for the 2000 blockbuster “Gladiator,” has agreed to work on the film on the great Sufi scholar.

“He’s like a Shakespeare,” Franzoni told The Guardian. “He’s a character who has enormous talent and worth to his society and his people, and obviously resonates today. Those people are always worth exploring.”

Producers hope to begin shooting the film next year. Franzoni and producer Stephen Joel Brown were in Istanbul last week to meet with Rumi experts and visited the mystic’s mausoleum in Konya.

“It’s a very exciting project — and obviously challenging,” Franzoni said. “There are a lot of reasons we’re making a product like this right now. I think it’s a world that needs to be spoken to; Rumi is hugely popular in the United States. I think it gives him a face and a story.”

Rumi’s encounter with the enigmatic mystic Shams of Tabriz, believed to have occurred in 1244, altered the course of his life. After Shams’s mysterious disappearance, an aggrieved Rumi wrote much of the love poetry that he is widely known for in the west — couplets that endure in pocketbook versions of his writings, which have made him a bestselling poet in the US.

Franzoni and Brown said they would like Leonardo DiCaprio to play Rumi, and Robert Downey Jr to star as Shams of Tabriz, though they said it was too early to begin casting. “This is the level of casting that we’re talking about,” said Brown.

The film will focus on Rumi’s teachings as well as his encounter with Shams, while giving prominence to Kimya, the poet’s outspoken daughter who some scholars believe may have married Shams.

Franzoni and Brown said the main reason they wanted to make the movie was to introduce Rumi’s life story to the millennial generation that so loved Rumi’s poetry.

arabnews.com/node/1035681/offbeat

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Czech Government Fears Muslim "Super-Holocaust", Urges Citizens To Shoot Them Yourselves

Jan 7, 2017

On the heels of Czech President Milos Zeman's warnings of a possible "super-Holocaust" carried out by Muslim terrorists, urging citizens to arm themselves, WaPo reports the country's interior ministry is pushing a constitutional change that would let citizens use guns against terrorists if police are delayed or unable to make their way to the scene of an attack.

Czech president Milos Zeman had previously proposed that economic migrants should be deported from Europe to “uninhabited Greek islands” or to “empty places” in North Africa. The spectacularly incredible president also proposed that the Greek debt should be progressively reduced in return for shouldering the cost of hosting hundreds of thousands economic migrants.

“We are in Greece, and Greece has plenty of uninhabited islands, and big foreign debt. So if you have ‘hotspots’ in Greek islands, this would be a sort of payment of foreign debt,” Zeman told Financial Times in an interview on the islands of Rhodes where he participated in the Rhodes Forum.

As The Guardian previously noted, the Czech president has unleashed a rhetorical fusillade against Muslim incomers of such intensity that it makes the anti-Islamic sentiments of Robert Fico, the Slovakian prime minister, and even Viktor Orbán, Hungary’s prime minister, seem mild in comparison.

Zeman has warned that the Czech Republic – home to fewer than 4,000 Muslims out of a population of 10.5 million, according to official figures – could be targeted in a jihadi attack and urged Czechs to arm themselves against what he referred to as a possible "super-Holocaust." The concern is believed to have prompted the unprecedented introduction of metal detectors to screen the crowds of foreign tourists that visit Prague castle each day.

The alarmist message is particularly striking because unlike most anti-immigrant politicians in western Europe, Zeman, 71, is a social democrat (and former communist) rather than a rightwinger, and the Czech Republic has been largely spared the waves of refugees that have swept into neighbouring Austria and Hungary en route to Germany.

But now, as The Washington Post reports, the rhetoric is getting even louder as the country's interior ministry is pushing a constitutional change that would let citizens use guns against terrorists.

Proponents say this could save lives if an attack occurs and police are delayed or unable to make their way to the scene. To become law, Parliament must approve the proposal; they'll vote in the coming months.

The Czech Republic already has some of the most lenient gun policies in Europe. It's home to about 800,000 registered firearms and 300,000 people with gun licenses. Obtaining a weapon is relatively easy: Residents must be 21, pass a gun knowledge check and have no criminal record. By law, Czechs can use their weapons to protect their property or when in danger, although they need to prove they faced a real threat.

This puts the country at odds with much of Europe, which has long supported much more stringent gun-control measures.  In the wake of the 2015 terror attacks in Paris, France pushed the European Union to enact even tougher policies. The European Commission's initial proposal called for a complete ban on the sale of weapons like Kalashnikovs or AR-15s that are intended primarily for military use. Ammunition magazines would be limited to 20 rounds or less.

The Czech Republic came out hard against the directive. Officials warned — somewhat ominously — that the measure would limit the country's ability to build "an internal security system" and make it nearly impossible to train army reservists. And a total ban on military-style rifles that can fire large numbers of rounds would make illegal thousands of weapons already owned by Czech citizens, potentially creating a black market for terrorists to exploit.

Of course, the populist rhetoric may be the driving force behind this bill, as for now the Czech republic is the only country to oppose the EU's directive for being too strict.

This is not the first 'extreme' move by Czech politicians with regard refugees/muslims/terrorists, as we noted previously, police in the Czech Republic are investigating comments made on Facebook by an extremist politician calling for refugees to be placed in Terezin, the former Nazi concentration camp.

Adam Bartos, the leader of the fringe yet vocal far-right nationalist National Democracy Party, published the comments about the site, located in the central European country, on Monday.

Reacting to the establishment of a refugee camp near the country’s border with Slovakia, Bartos wrote, “Why build tent camps for the aliens? We have the beautiful fortress town of Terezin where the aliens could concentrate before they are taken home by trains.”

A police spokeswoman told the Czech News Agency on Monday that the police will probe whether or not the comments constitute a criminal act. According to Czech law, hate speech and comments inciting national, racial or religious hatred can carry penalties of up to three years in prison.

Bartos is under investigation for four incidents involving allegedly racist, anti-Semitic and violence-inciting remarks. He also keeps a blog titled Hall of Jewish Fame that critics say lists politicians, journalists and other public figures of supposedly Jewish origin.

Bartos’ party failed to gain seats in the European elections last year, the only campaign it has run in under his leadership.

Terezin, also known as Theresienstadt in German, is located some 40 miles northwest of Prague.

The town was turned into a concentration and transit camp by the Nazis in 1941. Roughly 144,000 Jewish people were sent there during the Holocaust, most of whom were later transported to extermination camps in occupied Poland. Some 33,000 died in the Terezin camp.

zerohedge.com/news/2017-01-07/czech-government-fears-muslim-super-holocaust-urges-citizens-shoot-them-yourselves

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North America

Mosque burns to the ground near Lake Travis; cause of fire unknown

 

A partially constructed mosque for the Islamic Center of Lake Travis was engulfed in flames early Saturday morning.

The Austin Fire Department and Lake Travis Fire and Rescue discovered the three-story  building destroyed by fire around 3 a.m. in the 4700 block of Doss Road in Hudson Bend, reports KXAN-TV in Austin.

The mosque, which was under construction, burned to the ground. The cause of the fire is under investigation, authorities said.

No one was injured in the blaze.

Jazak Allah-o-Khair with the Islamic Center of Lake Travis posted on Facebook to urge everyone not to make assumptions about the cause of the fire.

"This is a great loss to us," said Allah-o-Khair. "We are requesting the community to restrain from drawing any conclusion before the investigation is completed."

dallasnews.com/news/news/2017/01/07/mosque-burns-ground-near-lake-travis-cause-fire-unknown

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Islamic State’s oil facilities, supply routes and tactical units under US fire

January 8, 2017  

Aleppo – Airforces of the US-led coalition on Saturday conducted dozens of airstrikes in Syria and Iraq, targeting key strongholds of the Islamic State (ISIS).

The coalition launched 27 airstrikes in Syria, targeting ISIS tactical units, supply routes and facilities in the governorates of Deir ez-Zor, Idlib and Raqqa, according to an official statement by the coalition’s central command.

In Raqqa, the coalition conducted 12 airstrikes, destroying eight ISIS tactical unit, two supply routes, 14 oil refinement tanks, seven fighting positions, a vehicle bomb facility, a vehicle bomb, an ISIS-held building, an artillery system, and a bunker system.

Two other strikes hit ISIS strongholds in Ayn Issa town in northern Raqqa and destroyed an artillery system, a fighting position and a tactical unit.

The US-led coalition also reported that it struck ISIS-held oil facilities in Deir ez-Zor in eastern Syria with nine air attacks, and destroyed 18 oil refinement stills, 15 oil pump jacks and an oil well head.

Al-Bukamal city in Deir ez-Zor Governorate was also hit by a coalition airstrike that engaged an ISIS tactical unit and destroyed a vehicle.

“Near Idlib, a strike engaged an ISIS tactical unit. Near Manbij, two strikes engaged an ISIS tactical unit and destroyed a command and control node,” the US coalition added.

Also on Saturday, the anti-ISIS coalition reported that its warplanes conducted 11 air raids in Iraq, targeting ISIS tactical units and weaponry centres in Mosul, Haditha, Tel Afar, Huwayjah and Rawah.

aranews.net/2017/01/islamic-states-oil-facilities-supply-routes-and-tactical-units-under-us-fire/

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Iraq war veteran accused of killing five at Florida airport

January 8th, 2017

FORT LAUDERDALE: An Iraq war veteran took a gun out of his checked luggage and opened fire in a crowded baggage claim area at Fort Lauderdale’s airport on Friday, killing five people, months after he showed up at an FBI office behaving erratically.

Esteban Santiago, 26, who was taken into custody immediately following the shooting and questioned at length, was expected to face federal charges in the shooting rampage, said George Piro, special agent in charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s office in Miami.

Piro said investigators had not ruled out terrorism as a possible motive in the rampage and were reviewing the suspect’s recent travel.

Santiago, who had served in the US military, had arrived in Ft. Lauderdale shortly before 1pm local time on a connecting flight from Alaska, authorities said, when he retrieved a 9mm semi-automatic handgun from his checked luggage and began firing indiscriminately.

Broward County Commissioner Chip LaMarca said on Twitter that the gunman went into a restroom to load his weapon and came out firing. Witnesses told MSNBC television he only stopped after running out of ammunition, at which point he surrendered to police.

A White House spokesman said President Barack Obama had spoken to Scott and Broward County Mayor Barbara Sharief and had extended his condolences to the loved ones of the victims.

Piro said that Santiago had turned up at an FBI office in Anchorage in November of last year behaving erratically and was turned over to local police, who took him to a medical facility for a mental evaluation.

A federal law enforcement official said that Santiago told agents at the Anchorage office in November that his mind was being controlled by a US intelligence agency, which was ordering him to watch the militant Islamic State group videos.

Santiago served from 2007 to 2016 in the Puerto Rico National Guard and Alaska National Guard including a deployment to Iraq from 2010 to 2011, according to the Pentagon.

A private first class and combat engineer, he received half a dozen medals before being transferred to the inactive ready reserve in August last year.

An aunt said he came back from his deployment “a different person,” MSNBC reported.

Airport shooting suspect had mental health issues

The man police say had a history of mental health problems some of which followed his military service in Iraq and was receiving psychological treatment at his home in Alaska, his relatives said Friday after the deadly shooting.

“Only thing I could tell you was when he came out of Iraq, he wasn’t feeling too good,” his uncle, Hernan Rivera, said. In recent years, Santiago a new dad, family said had been living in Anchorage, Alaska, his brother, Bryan Santiago, said from Puerto Rico. Bryan Santiago said his brother’s girlfriend had recently called the family to alert them to his treatment.

dawn.com/news/1307139/iraq-war-veteran-accused-of-killing-five-at-florida-airport3

 

URL: http://newageislam.com/islamic-world-news/new-age-islam-news-bureau/netanyahu-tried-to-negotiate-a-good-press-in-return-for-benefits-media/d/109640

 

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