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Islamic World News ( 7 Oct 2009, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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New restrictions on Haj pilgrims

Israel eyes Al-Aqsa

Egypt's top cleric to ban full-face veils in schools by JOEL TAYLOR

Egyptian opposition fails to oust top Imam over veil ban

Prepare to fight China, Qaeda figure tells Uighurs by Inal Ersan

Ministers: 'Outlaw Islamic Movement!' by Hillel Fendel

Osama was planning major attacks on Western targets: MI5

Russian court denies lesbians right to marry

Israeli police “arrest Islamic Movement head”

US vows to keep up anti-Al Qaeda fight

Obama Rules Out Large Reduction in Afghan Force by Peter Baker And Jeff Zeleny

Afghan, US troops kill 40 militants in east

Idgah controversy: SC grants time to Anjuman-e-Islam by J. Venkatesan

Af-Pak border is ‘modern epicentre’ of Jihad: US by S Rajagopalan

Pak says private guards’ negligence caused WFP office blast by Rezaul H Laskar

Kashmiri leader Farooq Haider passes away

Over 100 Taliban killed in Nuristan clash’

Iraq car bomb kills seven at prayers

Equal Exchange Announces its 11th Interfaith Partnership: Islamic Relief USA

New Holiday Inn to open in Abu Dhabi

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau

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New restrictions on Haj pilgrims

This year's hajj season looks bleak for airlines, reports Amirah Ibrahim

Restrictions on hajj pilgrims seem to accrue daily, thanks to growing concerns over the spread of swine flu. None of which is good news for EgyptAir. The hajj season is usually the national carrier's busiest, and most profitable, time of year.

Earlier this week Egypt's civil aviation authorities received a list of new restrictions set by Saudi Arabia, including the demand that all pilgrims acquire a certificate showing they have received a seasonal flu vaccination at least two weeks before their flights before applying for a visa.

Emad Sallam, head of the Egyptian Civil Aviation Authority, says Egyptian pilgrims will not be allowed to embark on flights unless they can show the certificate.

"Both the national carrier and Saudi Airlines, the two carriers which monopolise the trade, have received similar instructions. Pilgrims will not be able to purchase flight tickets in the absence of the required health certificate."

Additional restrictions include a blanket ban on pilgrims bringing food and beverages from their home countries.

"Thermal cameras will scan passengers’ at all Egyptian airports. Any passenger with a temperature exceeding 38 degrees will be refused permission to board and be tested for swine flu by a medical team," added Sallam.

Over two million Muslims travel to Mecca on hajj each year. This year, though, with concern over swine flu growing, the number of Egyptian pilgrims is expected to fall by between 30 to 40 per cent.

"This year we saw a 30 per cent fall in omra pilgrims which has badly effected our business," says Hussein Massoud, the Chairman of EgyptAir Holding Company. "We have had to refund LE60 million in ticket sales to customers prevented from leaving by government restrictions."

In July Arab health ministers recommended a ban on pilgrims above the age of 65 or younger than 12. Egypt began implementing the ban last month.

"As far as hajj flight tickets are concerned, EgyptAir will not be reimbursing passengers who are prevented from flying. To do so would mean we will incur massive losses," says Massoud.

"Last year EgyptAir transferred over 70,000 pilgrims, 12,000 of them transit passengers. The new restrictions on the hajj season mean we will be reallocating aircraft to other routes."

Saudi officials have already banned high-risk groups, including pregnant women and the chronically ill, from undertaking the hajj pilgrimage. Now, in addition to acquiring the seasonal flu vaccine certificate, Saudi officials are insisting that pilgrims who travel by air are accommodated in hotels no more than 750 metres from the Holy Mosque in Mecca and that no more than four people should share a room.

EgyptAir chairman, Captain Alaa Ashour, says the company is committed to following all guidelines issued by either the Saudi or the Egyptian authorities.

"We are committed to the health of our passengers as well as to helping control the spread of swine flu among pilgrims," said Ashour.

Although EgyptAir flights now operate out of the new Cairo International Terminal 3, hajj flights to Mecca and Medina are being moved back to the old Terminal 1, where a hajj tent will be set up for pilgrims who may have to wait for hours before boarding their flights.

"The hajj tent will be equipped with entertainment facilities and health services," says Mohamed El-Shaashaai, Cairo International Airport's vice-president. "Terminal 1 is more suited for handling such a large number of passengers and the possibility of associated delays."

Cairo International has equipped all three terminal buildings with thermal cameras to scan passengers on both arrival and departure.

© Copyright Al-Ahram Weekly. All rights reserved


Israel eyes Al-Aqsa

By Khaled Amayreh

Recent Israeli police violence at Al-Aqsa Mosque confirms that Israel's leaders condone attempts by Jewish fanatics to destroy the second holiest Islamic shrine

Israeli border policemen charge towards Palestinian demonstrators during clashes at the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound

Al-Aqsa Mosque esplanade witnessed yet another episode of violence on Sunday, 27 September, writes Khaled Amayreh in the West Bank, when a group of Jewish religious fanatics disguised as foreign tourists tried to storm Haram Al-Sharif, apparently to gain "prayer rites" at the Islamic sanctuary.

The Muslim guards, along with worshipers, who had been expecting an intrusion of some sort to take place in light of the Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement), peacefully ousted the intruders after they began performing Jewish rituals and calling for the destruction of Islamic holy places.

However, as soon as the zealots left the esplanade, dozens of crack Israeli policemen stormed the sanctuary compound, attacking worshipers, beating them with truncheons, and firing rubber-coated bullets and stun grenades all over the area.

More than 40 Palestinians were hurt, two seriously. One elderly man was hit in the eye with a rubber-coated bullet. A young man also suffered concussion in the head when he was hit with a stun grenade.

In addition, dozens of other people suffered from tear gas inhalation as well as brutal beatings by police using "exaggerated force".

Mahmoud Abu Atta, who witnessed the episode, described to Al-Ahram Weekly what happened. "When the zealots were repulsed rather peacefully, the police became very outraged and agitated. As many as 70 policemen attacked us indiscriminately, young and old, with full force, using rubber-coated bullets, truncheons, tear gas and even poisonous gas... I insist poisonous gas. Then the police chased worshipers inside the main mosque, Al-Aqsa Mosque, where the soldiers fired heavily into the holy place, causing many people to suffocate as a result of gas inhalation."

"I saw the police gang up on young people, beating them mercilessly. The police were not out to maintain law and order. They just wanted to retaliate and punish us for repulsing the fanatical settlers," Atta added. He said the worshipers sought desperately to defend themselves against exaggerated police brutality, using stones, shoes and chairs.

More confrontations broke out later near Bab Al-Majles when the Israeli police prevented hundreds of other Muslims, including leaders of the Islamic movement in Israel, from accessing Al-Aqsa. At least four people were injured and many were detained and taken away to nearby police lockups. The police also assaulted Abdel-Azim Salhab, head of the Supreme Muslim Council, as he was trying to enter the Sanctuary of Jerusalem through the northern gate, known as Bab Al-Asbat.

Salhab and other Muslim officials in Jerusalem had called on Muslims throughout the city to head for Al-Aqsa Mosque to protect it from Jewish fanatics trying to take over the Islamic shrine. The call was heeded as hundreds of Jerusalemites and other Muslims from across the Green Line (Israel) arrived at the mosque to repulse the zealots.

The police also prevented a number of prominent Muslim religious and civic figures from entering Al-Aqsa compound -- including Sheikh Ikrma Sabri, an imam and preacher at Al-Aqsa Mosque. Hatem Abdel-Qader, a member of the Palestinian Legislative Council, was also barred from entering.

Speaking to the Weekly, Sabri described the situation as "very grave" and "could explode at any moment". The Muslim scholar accused the Israeli occupation authorities of trying to gradually desensitise Muslim reactions to Jewish attempts to create "new facts" at the compound. "They simply want to take over part of the Haram. They are trying to partition the Haram as they did in Hebron with the Ibrahimi Mosque. Muslims must never ever allow such a thing to happen."

"We constantly urge Muslims here to maintain a permanent and uninterrupted presence at Al-Aqsa Mosque. And I can say this has been the case for many years. But the preservation of Al-Aqsa Mosque is not the sole responsibility of Muslims in Palestine, because the holy sanctuary belongs to the entire Muslim umma. Hence it is the responsibility of the entire umma to protect and safeguard this holy place from Zionist plots and evil designs."

In recent years, fanatical messianic Jewish groups have become more daring in their attempts to gain a foothold at the Islamic holy place as the police allowed them to perform Jewish Talmudic rites and rituals within the Haram esplanade. Some of the rituals included the attempted laying of a cornerstone for the building of a Jewish temple, presumably after the destruction of the Islamic edifices in the area.

Politically, the latest tension is undoubtedly leaving a dark shadow on stumbling American efforts to restart stalled peace talks between the Palestinian Authority and Israel. Observers in the occupied territories contend that an outbreak of violence, especially if Jewish provocations persisted, could easily deteriorate into a third Intifada that would make all talk about a peace process irrelevant.


Egypt's top cleric to ban full-face veils in schools

By JOEL TAYLOR, October 7, 2009

One of the world's biggest Muslim nations has begun a crackdown on women wearing full face veils.

Egypt's top cleric, Sheikh Mohamed Tantawi, said the niqab dress was a custom which has nothing to do with Islam.

Now the sheikh, who is dean of al-Azhar university, has vowed to ban female students from wearing the garment from all its institutions, including middle and high schools, according to reports.

While the vast majority of Egyptian women wear head scarves, only a few wear the niqab, which is common in nearby Saudi Arabia.

Sheikh Tantawi was said to be angered during a tour of a Cairo school when he noticed a girl wearing the full veil.

'Niqab has nothing to do with Islam. I know about religion better than you and your parents,' he reportedly told the student before making her take it off. A security official confirmed yesterday that police have verbal orders to prohibit girls covered from head to toe from entering al-Azhar's institutions - for security reasons.

Critics of the move, however, say the ban has little chance of being implemented.

A researcher wearing the niqab was barred from using the library at the American University in Cairo in 2001.

She took her case to Egypt's supreme court, which ruled a total ban on the niqab would be unconstitutional.


Egyptian opposition fails to oust top Imam over veil ban

CAIRO, October 7 (RIA Novosti) –

Egypt's parliament has rejected a request from two opposition lawmakers to seek the dismissal of the country's top Islamic cleric over his planned ban on women's veils at a top university, Al Jazeera reported.

Muhammad Sayed Tantawi is planning to bar female students wearing Islamic niqab from the schools of Al Azhar University, saying the garment has "nothing to do with Islam."

A Muslim Brotherhood spokesman told the Qatar-based news network that preventing women from wearing veils would "undermine our moral foundations and mutual respect," and "discredit Islam."

Group members Hamdi Hassan and Ibrahim Abu Auf have urged parliament to formally ask Prime Minister Ahmed Nazif to dismiss the cleric over the "illegal" ban.

However, their request was rejected by the 454-seat lower house. The Muslim Brotherhood has just 88 seats in the chamber.

The proposed ban has been widely seen as part of the Egyptian leadership's crackdown on resurgent ultra-conservative elements in the country.

On Saturday, dozens of female students protested against the ban outside the university.

Shaikh Ali Abu al-Hasan, the former head of the Fatwa Council at the Islamic Studies Institute (ISI) in Cairo, was quoted by Al Jazeera as saying although women are not required by Islam to cover their faces, Al Azhar University must give them freedom of choice.

"The niqab is not in contravention of the sharia or Egyptian law," he said.


Prepare to fight China, Qaeda figure tells Uighurs

By Inal Ersan, Oct 7, 2009

DUBAI, Oct 7 (Reuters) - A prominent al Qaeda militant urged Uighurs in Xianjiang to make serious preparations for a holy war against "oppressive" China and called on fellow Muslims to offer support.

Abu Yahya al-Libi, in a video posted on an Islamist website on Wednesday, warned China of a fate similar to that of former communist superpower, the Soviet Union, which disintegrated some two decades ago.

"The state of atheism is heading to its fall. It will face what befell the Russian bear (Soviet Union)," he said in the message in which he accused China of committing massacres against Uighurs and seeking to dissolve their identity.

Soviet forces invaded Afghanistan in 1979 to prop up a Marxist government against Islamist fighters, but was ground down by guerrilla warfare and withdrew in 1988-89. Al Qaeda emerged from the groups that fought Soviet forces at the time.

Uighurs are Muslim native to Xinjiang province, which Islamists call East Turkistan, and have cultural ties to Turkic peoples in Central Asia.

"There is no way to remove injustice and oppression without a true return to their (Uighurs) religion and ... serious preparation for jihad in the path of God the Almighty and to carry weapons in the face of those (Chinese) invaders," he said.

"It is a duty for Muslims today to stand by their wounded and oppressed brothers in East Turkistan ... and support them with all they can," said Libi.

He also accused China of using "satanic ways" to oppress Muslims in the province and replace them with other ethnicities while "looting their wealth and undermining their culture and religion."

Full Report at:


Ministers: 'Outlaw Islamic Movement!'

by Hillel Fendel, 07 October 09

Following the brief arrest on Tuesday of Sheikh Raed Salah, head of the Islamic Movement Northern Branch, for incitement, at least two government ministers say that Salah’s entire movement should be outlawed.

Deputy Prime Minister Silvan Shalom of the Likud sent a letter to Cabinet Secretary Tzvi Hauser, asking that the next Cabinet meeting include this issue on its agenda.

The Northern Branch of the Islamic Movement in Israel was founded in 1996 as a result of a split with the original, more moderate, Islamic Movement. Its motto is: “Allah is our goal, the prophet [Muhammed] is our leader, the Koran is our law, Jihad [religious war] is our way – and death in the way of Allah is our highest hope.”

Though the organization is located in Israel, it does not recognize Israel’s right to exist. It does use Israeli services for local purposes, however.

Shalom: We're Sovereign in Jerusalem

“It’s time we remind everyone that we are the sovereign in Jerusalem and the Temple Mount,” according to Minister Shalom. “The Prosecution and the police must stop the Palestinian take-over of Jerusalem, and must act with full force against the Islamic Movement’s wild incitement. There are times when the gloves must be taken off… The Islamic Movement must be outlawed – immediately. The movement’s leaders must be arrested and placed behind bars for many years.”

Minister Uzi Landau (Israel Our Home), a former Public Security Minister, says that this week’s Arab riots in Jerusalem “demand that we implement a simple and clear policy against the Islamic Movement. In Ariel Sharon’s first government, Raed Salah was tried and sat in prison… If we show weakness towards him and towards other Arab imams who incite to violence, this will bring upon us even worse riots in the future.”

Full Report at:


Osama was planning major attacks on Western targets: MI5

October 7, 2009

Osama bin Laden-led Al Qaeda was planning a number of “major attacks” on Western interests in the weeks leading to 9/11, including the morning itself, Britain’s intelligence agency MI5 had warned the Government, a new history of the security services has said.

In a memo from July 6, 2001, MI5 said increasing reports were "sufficient to conclude that UBL (Osama bin Laden) and those that share his agenda are currently well advanced in operational planning for a number of major attacks on western interests."

Memos circulated to senior figures showed increasing concern right up to the moment the terrorist leader launched his 2001 attacks on the World Trade Centre in New York and the Pentagon in Washington, killing nearly 3,000 people, The Daily Telegraph reported.

MI5 had discounted the threat from Islamic extremism six years earlier and did not believe America was vulnerable, the files of the security services have indicated.


Russian court denies lesbians right to marry

7 October 2009

MOSCOW: A Moscow court on Tuesday ruled against two lesbians seeking to become Russia’s first married gay couple.

Irina Fedotova-Fet and Irina Shipitko said the Tverskoi District Court upheld a decision by the city’s civil registry that said Russian law defined marriage as between a woman and a man.

“We want recognition of our relationship by society and the state. We are a family already, we live together and share household chores,’’ Shipitko said. “We also would like to have children. That is why we want legal recognition of our union.’’

Nikolai Alexeyev, a longtime Russian gay rights activist who is serving as the women’s lawyer, told reporters that they plan to fight the ruling.

The two women said they planned to fly to Canada later this month to marry and then return to Russia, in a bid to force authorities to recognize the marriage.

Homosexuality was decriminalized in Russia in the 1990s, but many Russians are vehemently opposed to expansion of gay rights or gay-rights demonstrations.


Israeli police “arrest Islamic Movement head

7 October 2009

JERUSALEM - Sheikh Raed Salah, leader of the hardline Arab- Israeli Islamic Movement in northern Israel, has been arrested by Israeli police, local media reports said Tuesday.

The reports - which had yet to be confirmed by police spokesman Mickey Rosenfeld - said Salah had been detained on the roof of an East Jerusalem building.

The reports said the arrest had been decided after consultations between police and the prosecutor’s office.

Israeli ministers earlier Tuesday had called for the Islamic Movement to be outlawed, accusing it of incitement after days of unrest in Jerusalem.

The leaders of the Islamic Movement, an organization which is strong in Arab towns and villages in northern Israel, “must be behind bars,” Israeli Vice Prime Minister Silvan Shalom said.

“They are operating a system of incitement of the masses, raising funds ad dragging everyone behind them, including also Arab lawmakers, whose automatic support for Arab rioters one is (we are) fed up with,” charged Shalom, of the ruling Likud party and a relative hawk.

The Old City of Jerusalem remained highly tense Tuesday, after days of street clashes, and verbal warfare between Jewish and Muslim leaders, centering around a flashpoint holy site - the Temple Mount/Holy Sanctuary.

The compound houses the al-Aqsa mosque and is the third holiest site in Islam, marking according to tradition the spot from where the Prophet Mohammed ascended to heaven.

Full Report at:


US vows to keep up anti-Al Qaeda fight

07 Oct, 2009

WASHINGTON, Oct 6: US President Barack Obama vowed on Tuesday to target Al Qaeda wherever they took root, indicating that the ongoing review of his policy towards Pakistan and Afghanistan would not affect America’s determination to fight the extremists.

“It should now be clear — the United States and our partners have sent an unmistakable message: We will target Al Qaeda wherever they take root; we will not yield in our pursuit,” he told a gathering of senior US intelligence officers near Washington.

“We are developing the capacity and the cooperation to deny a safe haven to any who threaten America and its allies,” he added.

Mr Obama noted that Al Qaeda and its extremist allies threatened the US and its allies from different corners of the globe — “from Pakistan, but also from East Africa and Southeast Asia; from Europe and the Gulf”.

And that was why the US was applying “focussed and relentless pressure” on Al Qaeda — by sharing more intelligence, strengthening the capacity of its partners, disrupting terrorist financing, cutting off supply chains, and inflicting major losses on Al Qaeda’s leadership, he said.

Mr Obama said that success against Al Qaeda must go beyond destroying their network — “it must be about the future that we want to build as well”.

That was the reason why the US was putting forward a positive vision of American leadership around the world — leading by example, and engaging nations and peoples on the basis of mutual interest and mutual respect, he said.

The US president said that because of America’s efforts Al Qaeda and its allies had not only lost operational capacity; they had lost legitimacy and credibility.

“Nobody does a better job of discrediting Al Qaeda than Al Qaeda itself, which has killed men and women and children of many faiths in many nations, and which has absolutely no positive future to offer the people of the world,” Mr Obama said.

The president said he knew that the US and its allies faced determined adversaries who were resourceful, resilient, and were still plotting. “And no one can ever promise that there won’t be another attack on American soil,” he warned.

“But I can promise you this. I pledge to do everything in my power as president to keep America safe … and I pledge to stay focussed on that mission.”

Full Report at:


Obama Rules Out Large Reduction in Afghan Force

By PETER BAKER and JEFF ZELENY, October 7, 2009

WASHINGTON — President Obama told Congressional leaders on Tuesday that he would not substantially reduce American forces in Afghanistan or shift the mission to just hunting terrorists there, but he indicated that he remained undecided about the major troop buildup proposed by his commanding general.

Meeting with leaders from both parties at the White House, Mr. Obama seemed to be searching for some sort of middle ground, saying he wanted to “dispense with the straw man argument that this is about either doubling down or leaving Afghanistan,” as White House officials later described his remarks.

But as the war approached its eight-year anniversary on Wednesday, the session underscored the perilous crosscurrents awaiting Mr. Obama. While some Democrats said they would support whatever he decided, others challenged him about sending more troops. And Republicans pressed him to order the escalation without delay, leading to a pointed exchange between the president and Senator John McCain of Arizona, his Republican opponent from last year’s election.

Mr. McCain told the president that “time is not on our side.” He added, “This should not be a leisurely process,” according to several people in the room.

A few minutes later, Mr. Obama replied, “John, I can assure you this won’t be leisurely,” according to several attendees. “No one feels more urgency to get this right than I do.”

Still, compared with the harsh debate over health care, the tone was civil and restrained during the 75-minute meeting in the State Dining Room as Mr. Obama, Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and about 30 members of Congress gathered around a large table with only glasses of water and notebooks in front of them.

Mr. Obama summoned the lawmakers to assure them that he would keep their concerns in mind as he considered the request of his commander in Afghanistan, Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, for as many as 40,000 more troops. The president plans to meet with his national security team on Wednesday to talk about Pakistan and on Friday to talk about Afghanistan. Aides plan to schedule one more meeting before he decides on General McChrystal’s proposal.


Afghan, US troops kill 40 militants in east

6 October 2009

KABUL, Afghanistan: Afghan and American forces killed 40 militants in 24 hours as they hunted in mountainous eastern Afghanistan for insurgents

behind one of the deadliest attacks of the war for US troops, the defense ministry said Tuesday.

Ministry spokesman Gen. Mohammad Zahir Azimi said 10 Afghan army troops were also killed in the same period around the country, most of them in Nuristan province's Kamdesh district, where eight Americans and two Afghan security troopers died Saturday after hundreds of Taliban militants overwhelmed their remote and thinly manned outposts.

The violence comes at a time when the Obama administration is grappling with how to quell the conflict, including whether the U.S. should send tens of thousands more troops. It also comes as the country nears a resolution to August's intensely disputed presidential vote. Election workers began recounting suspect ballots Monday and a ruling on whether President Hamid Karzai won or will face a runoff is likely next week.

Azimi said joint operations were ongoing Tuesday in Kamdesh, and seven insurgents had been arrested there.

Capt. Elizabeth Mathias, an American media officer for NATO forces, however, said there had ``not been any significant engagement'' in Kamdesh since Saturday. She said U.S. and Afghan forces were still in the remote area and had not pulled out.

NATO said in a statement that 100 attackers were killed in Saturday's fighting. The alliance had previously only said that coalition forces inflicted ``heavy casualties.''

The fierce gunbattle was the heaviest U.S. loss of life in a single battle since July 2008, when nine American soldiers were killed in a raid on an outpost in the same province.

Kamdesh, located about 20 miles (30 kilometers) from the Pakistani border and about 150 miles (230 kilometers) from Kabul, has no regular cell phone or landline contact and few roads.

Al-Qaida fighters are active in the region, as are those of wanted militant leader Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, whose military chief Kashmir Khan has been unsuccessfully targeted by U.S. missiles over the past eight years.

Full Report at:


Idgah controversy: SC grants time to Anjuman-e-Islam

By J. Venkatesan, Oct 07, 2009

New Delhi: With the Commissioner of Hubli Dharwad Municipal Corporation submitting a report on Tuesday that no settlement could be arrived at in the meeting of representatives of Anjuman-e-Islam and local Hindus on the issue of offering prayers at the Idgah and construction of a school in the maidan, also known as Kittur Rani Chennamma Maidan, the Supreme Court granted time till November 9 to Anjuman-e-Islam to explore a lasting solution.

A Bench of Justice Dalveer Bhandari and Justice Mukundakam Sharma asked the counsel to take instructions and posted the special leave petition filed by Anjuman-e-Islam against a judgment of the Karnataka High Court ordering demolition of the structure put up by the appellant.

The appellant had filed a case in a munsif court claiming that the maidan had been leased to it from 1930 for 999 years for religious worship. It lost the case all the way from the munsif court to the district court and then the High Court. The High Court held that the Idgah Maidan was not the exclusive property of the Anjuman-e-Islam but belonged to what was by then the Hubli-Dharwad Municipal Corporation. The maidan was licensed to the Anjuman for purely religious purposes, “that is, to offer prayers on two days in a year, the Bakrid and the Ramzan.” The Anjuman might not use the property for any educational or commercial purpose. The permanent structures already erected by the Anjuman to be demolished. On appeal, the Supreme Court stayed the demolition.

Full Report at:


Af-Pak border is ‘modern epicentre’ of Jihad: US

By S Rajagopalan, October 7, 2009

Terming the Afghan-Pakistan border the “modern epicentre of jihad”, the United States has ruled out an early pullout of its forces from Afghanistan as any hasty action of the type would bolster the Taliban and Al Qaeda.

“We’re not leaving Afghanistan. There should be no uncertainty in terms of our determination to remain in Afghanistan and to continue to build a relationship of partnership and trust with the Pakistanis,” Defence Secretary Robert Gates said.

In a joint appearance with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at George Washington University here, Gates said: “They (the Taliban-Al Qaeda combine) now have the opportunity to defeat a second superpower which more than anything would empower their message and... improve their ability to plan operations.” He conceded that the Taliban “do have the momentum right now”, attributing it to “our inability and the inability, frankly, of our allies to put enough troops in Afghanistan”. And a Taliban takeover of Afghanistan would empower the Al Qaeda terror network all over again, he said.

Gates’ comments have come at a time when President Barack Obama is leading a comprehensive review on the demand put forth by US’s Commander for Afghanistan Stanley McChrystal for a substantial step-up of deployment of troops.

America is deeply divided over the protracted Afghan operation. Several key Democratic lawmakers have voiced their reservations over additional commitment of troops, but Republicans, led by Senator John McCain, favour a troops surge to foil a resurgence of the Taliban-Al Qaeda combine.

Full Report at:


Pak says private guards’ negligence caused WFP office blast

Rezaul H Laskar, October 7, 2009

Pakistan on Tuesday said all private guards posted at the UN food agency’s Islamabad office, where a suicide blast killed 5 people, have been taken into custody for questioning, claiming that their negligence enabled the bomber to enter the building in the garb of a security man.

It blamed Taliban for carrying out the attack that killed five people, including an Iraqi national and two women, at the heavily-guarded World Food Programme (WFP) office in the heart of Islamabad on Tuesday and warned that the group could launch more such strikes.

“All private guards at the WFP office have been taken into custody for questioning and records of all WFP employees are being collected as part of the investigation”, Interior Minister Rehmam Malik told reporters. -- PTI


Kashmiri leader Farooq Haider passes away

07 Oct, 2009

RAWALPINDI, Oct 6: Eminent Kashmiri leader and founder of Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front Dr Farooq Haider died here on Tuesday, family sources told Dawn.

He was 75 and suffering from lung disease for the past two years.

He leaves behind a wife, two sons, two daughters and a large number of workers and friends to mourn his death.

He was laid to rest at Siam village near Chor Chowk. Kashmiri leaders including Sardar Khalid Ibrahim, Amanullah Khan, Ashghar Malik, Sardar Mohammad Altaf Khan and others participated in the funeral of Dr Haider.

According to family sources, Dr Farooq Haider had played a key role in the liberation movement of Jammu and Kashmir and was a prominent figure in local and international circles.

Meanwhile, the Chairman of Jammu and Kashmir Peoples Freedom League, Muhammad Farooq Rehmani in a statement expressed profound grief and sorrow over the demise of Dr Farooq Haider and prayed Allah Almighty to rest him in eternal peace.

Paying tribute to the services of the deceased for Kashmiris’ liberation movement, Mr Rehmani said that the vacuum created by his death would not be filled easily.


Over 100 Taliban killed in Nuristan clash’

October 07, 2009

KABUL: Over 100 Taliban were killed in a clash with the Taliban over the weekend, NATO’s International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) said on Tuesday.

“A more detailed battlefield assessment following the October 3 attack in Nuristan has determined that enemy forces suffered more than 100 dead during the well-coordinated defence – significantly higher losses than originally thought,” according to a statement issued by the ISAF.

Hundreds of Taliban on Saturday swept down a remote hillside at dawn near the mountainous border with Pakistan to attack two Afghan army and NATO outposts. The resulting firefight lasted into the night and prompted US troops to call in air strikes.

Some 13 police officers and two Afghan journalists working for a radio station set up with US help were captured, local officials said.

The ISAF said on Tuesday that the attack was conducted by the “local anti-Afghan forces”, possibly helped by the Taliban Hizb-i-Islami militia of Pashtun warlord and anti-American former Afghan prime minister Gulbuddin Hekmatyar.

In the wake of the attack, NATO and Afghan troops conducted a joint operation to flush out insurgents thought responsible.

The Afghan Defence Ministry claimed that 10 Afghan Army soldiers were also killed in the clashes. “Ten members of the Afghan army were martyred and more than 100 enemies were killed and wounded in the south and east of the country in the past 24 hours,” a statement said. afp\10\07\story_7-10-2009_pg7_8


Iraq car bomb kills seven at prayers

7 October 2009

FALLUJAH, Iraq - A car bomb outside a Sunni mosque in a town near the western Iraqi city of Fallujah killed seven people and wounded 29 on Tuesday around the time of evening prayers, doctors told AFP.

The attack occurred in Amiriyeh, 15 kilometres (nine miles) southwest of Fallujah, said Dr Abdelsatar, who only goes by one name and is the manager of the town’s hospital.

“Seven have been killed and 29 wounded,” he said, adding that 25 of the wounded — nine in critical condition — had been transferred to Fallujah hospital.

Dr Ayman Taif, the hospital’s technical manager, confirmed the injury figure, telling AFP: “We received 25 wounded, including two children.”

Earlier reports had the death toll at 16, but in the aftermath of attacks in Iraq officials often provide inflated casualty figures amid the confusion.

The security situation in Fallujah — which lies in Anbar province west of Baghdad and was once a major bastion of the Sunni Arab insurgency — has improved dramatically in recent months as attacks have dropped nationwide.

However, sporadic violence still plagues Anbar, Iraq’s largest province. It was the theatre of a brutal war after the US-led invasion of 2003, mainly in Fallujah and the provincial capital Ramadi.

On Monday, a suicide bombing at a funeral in Haditha, one of several towns along the Euphrates valley that also became Al-Qaeda strongholds after the invasion, killed five people.

Since 2006, however, local Sunni tribes have sided with the US military and unrest has dwindled in Anbar as rebel fighters have been ejected from the region.


Equal Exchange Announces its 11th Interfaith Partnership: Islamic Relief USA


Oct. 06 2009

Equal Exchange is pleased to announce that Islamic Relief USA has become its newest Interfaith Program partner. The Islamic Relief USA Fair Trade Project was launched at the annual Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) conference in Washington D.C. this past summer. Islamic Relief USA is Equal Exchange's 11th Interfaith Program partnership.

Islamic Relief USA (IR USA), founded in 1984, is an international relief and development organization that aims to alleviate suffering caused by poverty. In addition to responding to disasters and emergencies, Islamic Relief promotes sustainable economic and social development by working with local communities-regardless of race, religion, or gender. The organization works in Africa, Asia, Europe, and the Middle East.

IR USA has actively supported the mission and goals of Fair Trade for 25 years given natural dovetailing of Islamic and Fair Trade principles. As Ajaz Ahmed Khan and Laura Thaut explain in a scholarly paper on this subject, "The concepts of fairness, equity, mutual respect and consideration for others are inherent in the moral teachings of Islam and must, therefore, be integral in business dealings between buyers and sellers and between employers and workers." *

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New Holiday Inn to open in Abu Dhabi

United Arab Emirates, October 07 2009

Abu Dhabi-based Al Qudra Real Estate, a wholly owned subsidiary of Al Qudra Holding, has said that its Holiday Inn Abu Dhabi hotel will be opening to the public this October. The new hotel will be managed by the InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) as a 4- star business hotel. The hotel comprises over 200 rooms, including standard, executive, and suite rooms, as well as two restaurants, a bar and a cafe lounge.

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