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New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Adren Is Being Tested By The Worst Mass Murder In The Country's Modern History

New Age Islam News Bureau

17 March 2019

In this photo released by New Zealand Prime Minister’s Office, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, center, meets representatives of the Muslim community (AP)



 New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Adren Is Being Tested By The Worst Mass Murder In The Country's Modern History

 A Summary of Attacks On Muslims In Western Countries

 Amid Tensions, India and Pakistan to Take Part in Counter-Terror Drills

 India Will Show Patience, Won’t Cut Deal on China’s Hold On JeM Chief Masood Azhar’s Listing: Sources

 Mujahid Says Meeting with Zakir Naik Was To Discuss Malaysia's Islamic Model

 Ready for Talks with India on JeM Chief: China

 Islamists Misusing Blasphemy Law To Harass Christians In Pakistan: Activists



 Pakistani Mullahs In League With Terrorists, Responsible For Acts Like Pulwama Attack: Ahmadiyyas

 Arab Media: UAE, Egypt Promoters of Islamophobia in Europe

 Presidential Spokesperson of Turkey Urges World Leaders to Show Same Solidarity with Muslim Victims

 Masood Azhar Is 'Proven Threat’, Why Would China Give Him 'Terror Pass'?: WSJ



 Christchurch Attack: Jacinda Ardern Pitched New Zealand’s Charms, Now, She Speaks Of Its Pain

 A Summary of Attacks On Muslims In Western Countries

 New Zealand mosque shootings toll rises to 50, families wait to bury their dead

 New Zealand mosque attacks prompt flood of support for Muslims

 Australian senator blames Muslims for New Zealand mosque attack, gets egg on head

 New Zealand terrorist sent manifesto to PM Ardern nine minutes before attack

 Attackers abuse Muslims, assault worshiper outside a London mosque

 Thousands in Melbourne call for halt to Islamophobia, racism

 Sweden: Far-right politician proposes building mosque

 UK media fail to call NZ shootings as terror attack

 Pope calls NZ attack 'senseless acts of violence'

 France repatriates children of ISIS members as Iraq starts trial of suspected fighters

 France returns ISIS orphans from Syria



 Amid Tensions, India and Pakistan to Take Part in Counter-Terror Drills

 India Will Show Patience, Won’t Cut Deal on China’s Hold On JeM Chief Masood Azhar’s Listing: Sources

 UP Muslim Community Calls For Strong Action Against Masood Azhar, Shames China For Protecting Him

 New Zealand terror attack: Five Indians among those killed at Christchurch mosque

 Post-Pulwama: India ready to let another country verify terror apparatus in Pakistan

 India’s Pak concern now: narrow Kartarpur focus, Khalistan meet

 ‘Anti-India terror groups won’t be allowed to operate in Afghanistan’

 India builds on strong ties with Afghanistan and Iran

 China’s Masood Azhar move may strain relations with India

 India’s to-do list to Pak: Give us Dawood, Syed Salahuddin


Southeast Asia

 Mujahid Says Meeting with Zakir Naik Was To Discuss Malaysia's Islamic Model

 Chilled by Christchurch shootings, Muslim Malaysians find Kiwi warmth again

 Stop this spread of hatred against Muslims and Islam

 Muslim convert continues to follow Ching Ming tradition

 Philippines hopes pro-ISIS group ‘neutralized’ after de facto leader killed


South Asia

 Ready for Talks with India on JeM Chief: China

 Bangladesh Muslims condemn New Zealand mosque attacks

 Bangladesh didn’t fail to deal with Rohingya issue: Shahriar Alam

 Bangladeshi makes world’s largest tasbih for Erdogan

 Afghan armed forces thwart Taliban plot to target security outposts in Faryab

 Afghan Special Forces storm Taliban Red Unit commander’s hideout in Uruzgan

 Kabul summons Pak envoy over Imran Khan’s remarks regarding future Afghan government

 Guerrilla warfare commander among 8 dead, wounded in Helmand, Kandahar explosions

 Afghan troops go missing after fleeing battle with Taliban



 Islamists Misusing Blasphemy Law To Harass Christians In Pakistan: Activists Pakistan

 Pakistani Mullahs In League With Terrorists, Responsible For Acts Like Pulwama Attack: Ahmadiyyas

 Death toll of Pakistanis in New Zealand terror attacks rises to 9

 PM’s principal secretary part of board considering promotions, including his own

 PM announces national award for NZ mosque massacre hero Naeem Rashid

 Auqaf Dept takes control of JuD seminary in Peshawar

 IHC seeks response from Religious Affairs Ministry on sale of alcohol

 Bombing on train kills 3 in southwest Pakistan

 Pakistan’s crackdown on militants fails to convince skeptics


Arab World

 Arab Media: UAE, Egypt Promoters of Islamophobia in Europe

 Iraqi Expert: US Choppers Relocating ISIL Terrorists to Iraq from Syria

 Syria: 120 Refugee Children Die Due to Unfavourable Conditions of Hasaka Camp Run by SDF

 SDF Frees ISIL's Notorious Commander From Raqqa Jail

 ISIS clings on in face of Kurdish-led assault in Syria

 Iraq opens first ISIS mass grave in Yazidi region

 Egypt court upholds verdict, places 169 Brotherhood convicts on terror list

 Fresh US-led airstrikes kill many civilians in Syria’s Dayr al-Zawr

 SDF locked in battle with Daesh in holdout village



 Presidential Spokesperson of Turkey Urges World Leaders to Show Same Solidarity with Muslim Victims

 Houthi Militias Warn They Could Target Riyadh, Abu Dhabi

 Hamas detains rights workers as it disperses Gaza protests

 Turkey says two of its soldiers killed, eight wounded in northern Iraq

 Yemenis downed 19 Saudi Apache copters during war: Army spokesman

 Erdogan hits back at Netanyahu's son over 'occupation' claims

 If you 'care' about Yemenis, back Saudi war: Pompeo to senators


North America

 Masood Azhar Is 'Proven Threat’, Why Would China Give Him 'Terror Pass'?: WSJ

 Fox News Bumps Jeanine Pirro’s Show After Anti-Muslim Remarks

 US Navy veteran detained in Iran gets 10 years in prison, lawyer says

 Police step up security at US mosques after New Zealand terrorist attack

​​​​​​​ Journalist slams Trump’s ignorance on right-wing white extremism

 US: no entry for ICC members probing US troops in Afghanistan



 Jordanian Muslim Immigrant Proud of Living in New Zealand Shot 3 Times in Christchurch

 Jordanian barber injured in Christchurch terror attack recovering, daughter, 3, battles for life

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau




New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Adren Is Being Tested By The Worst Mass Murder In The Country's Modern History

March 17, 2019

Written by Charlotte Graham-McLay

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has been the sunny face of New Zealand, celebrated as the nation’s youngest leader in 150 years, the one who gave birth in office and brought her baby to the floor of the United Nations. At 38, she’s pitched progressive politics and her nation’s charms to Stephen Colbert and the “Today” show. Vogue magazine called her the “anti-Trump.”

Now, with the massacre of 50 people at two mosques by a gunman espousing anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant hatred, Ardern is back in the international spotlight, but the glamour is gone. Instead, she speaks for New Zealand at a moment of national pain, her vision of kindness in politics tested by the worst mass murder in her country’s modern history.

“We represent diversity, kindness, compassion. A home for those who share our values. Refuge for those who need it,” she told reporters at Parliament as the horror of the shootings began to unfold on Friday, her words broadcast around the world even as the killer’s video and manifesto of hatred were spreading online. Ardern herself had been emailed a copy of the manifesto minutes before the massacre began.



A summary of attacks on Muslims in Western countries

March 17, 2019

The killing of at least 49 Muslim worshippers at two mosques on Friday in New Zealand was the latest in a series of attacks against Muslims in western countries - and by far the worst.

Researchers have documented a surge in anti-Muslim attacks in the United Kingdom, Canada and the United States, among other countries, noting an all-time high in recent years.

Here are some of the most deadly:

US - August 2016: A New York imam and his associate are shot and killed on a busy street near their mosque in Queens. Police say it was a hate crime. The attacker is arrested and charged with murder.

Switzerland - December 2016: A 30-year-old man enters a mosque in central Zurich and starts firing at a handful of men who were drinking tea after evening prayer. Three are wounded.

Another victim was killed by the same perpetrator earlier in the day. The suspect escapes but is found dead near a river close to the mosque.

Canada - January 2017: Alexandre Bissonnette, 27, kills six Muslim worshippers and injures scores of others in an attack at a Quebec City mosque during evening prayers.

The fatalities include one victim who was killed as he attempted to tackle the gunman. Nineteen others are injured in the shooting. Bissonnette is sentenced to life imprisonment.

US - May 2017: Two men are stabbed to death after they try to intervene when a man starts yelling racial slurs at two women of Muslim appearance on a train in the north-western US state of Oregon.

The attacker is identified as 35-year-old Jeremy Joseph Christian. A third man is seriously injured.

UK - June 2017: A 48-year-old man in London drives a van into a group of worshippers who had just come out of a mosque after a late-night prayer, killing a 51-year-old man and injuring nine others.

The driver, 48-year-old Darren Osborne, allegedly shouted "I want to kill all Muslims - I did my bit" after the attack. Osborne is sentenced to 43 years in jail on terrorism-related charges.

Spain - August 2017: The number of crimes directed towards Muslims in Spain increases following deadly attacks in Barcelona and Cambrils as mosques in the cities of Granada, Fuenlabrada, Logrono and Seville are desecrated and firebombed.

Three Moroccans are brutally assaulted in Navarre, while a Muslim woman is injured from in attack in front of a Madrid metro.

New Zealand - March 2019: Twenty eight-year-old Australian Brenton Tarrant allegedly kills 49 people at two mosques in Christchurch. He is arrested and is facing charges.



Amid Tensions, India and Pakistan to Take Part In Counter-Terror Drills

Mar 17, 2019

Members of the Shanghai Cooperation Orgnisation (SCO), including both India and Pakistan, will take part in a joint counter-terrorism exercise likely to be held in grasslands of Kazakhstan in the Sary Arka region this year.

“The SCO member states will hold a joint anti-terrorism exercise ‘Sary-Arka-Antiterror 2019,” the Council of Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure (RATS) of SCO said on Friday.

The exercise was announced during the 34th meeting of RATS, a key SCO mechanism, held in Tashkent in Uzbekistan Friday.

India and Pakistan became full-members of the SCO, headquartered in Beijing, in 2017 and took part in war games of the group held in Russia last year.

It was the first time that the armies of India, Pakistan, and China took part in a military exercise along with the other members of the SCO -- Russia, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan.

For the 2018 exercise, India had picked a 200-soldier contingent from the 5th battalion of the Rajput Regiment; New Delhi also dispatched a small Indian Air Force regiment for the drills.

The latest RATS statement did not give details about when the 2019 exercise will be held.

There is no doubt, however, that the exercise will attract international attention. It is a rare occasion for Indian and Pakistan soldiers and officers to be part of a friendly exchange in the backdrop of decades-old enmity and a history of war and violence.

This year’s RATS exercise will take place in the shadow of the Pulwama terror attack in February, the bombing of a terrorist camp deep inside Pakistan by Indian warplanes and the subsequent engagement between the Indian and Pakistan air forces near the Line of Control (LoC).

In the run-up to their becoming full-members of the SCO in 2017, doubts had, in fact, been expressed whether the open hostility between India and Pakistan could, jeopardise the group, which is run under the umbrella influence of Beijing and Moscow.

Experts say that it is expected that the diplomatic influence exerted by Beijing and Moscow – and the SCO charter -- will not allow the two new members to bring their bilateral differences to the SCO table to disrupt the group’s functioning.

Taking part in SCO wargames is also seen as a way to increase friendly interactions between the armed personnel of India and Pakistan who have fought three wars over the years.

Chaired by Russia, Friday’s meeting also declared plans to hold the first stage of joint border operation “Solidarity 2019-2021”, the seventh meeting of the heads of the border services, and training workshops on identifying and preventing the use of the Internet for terrorist, separatist and extremist purposes.



India Will Show Patience, Won’t Cut Deal on China’s Hold On JeM Chief Masood Azhar’s Listing: Sources

Mar 16, 2019

India will not cut a deal on the sanctioning of Jaish-e-Mohammed chief Masood Azhar by the United Nations Sanctions Committee (UNSC). Instead, India will show patience on China’s hold as it believes that Masood Azhar will eventually be sanctioned at the UN 1267 Sanctions committee, sources said on Saturday.

Expressing India’s disappointment over China’s move to place a technical hold on the sanctioning of Jaish chief Masood Azhar, sources said that the international community was supporting India on the issue and that the country had the support of 14 out of 15 members of the UN Security Council on the topic.

The sources further said that the US interlocutors had agreed that India had acted responsibly after the Pulwama terrorist attack in which 40 CRPF jawans were killed. The sources said that Pakistan hasn’t done enough to crack down on terrorism and that the actions that the country had taken in the past few days were cosmetic at best and that it had taken no real action on cutting funding of terror groups.

The sources also said that India had shared its concerns about the use of US defence platforms in an offensive manner by Pakistan and that the US had taken note of India’s concerns and that it would look into the use of F-16 fighter planes and AMRAAM missiles by Pakistan in the aerial engagement that took place on the Line of Control barely 13 days after the Pulwama suicide attack.

At the same time, the sources also clarified that there was no scope of a role for mediation with Pakistan for countries such as Saudi Arabia. However, India would be happy if such countries took up the issue of cracking down on terrorism with Pakistan.



Mujahid says meeting with Zakir Naik was to discuss Malaysia's Islamic model

17 Mar 2019

MUJAHID Yusof Rawa denied he has changed his mind about controversial preacher Zakir Naik whose methods the minister had once described as.demeaning to other faiths and unsuitable for a multiracial country such as Malaysia.

The de facto Islamic Affairs minister said his meeting with Zakir last Wednesday was not to discuss permission for Zakir to preach, but to talk about the Islamic model in Malaysia.



Ready for talks with India on JeM chief: China

March 17, 2019

BEIJING: China said on Friday it was willing to have more discussions with all parties concerned, including India, on blacklisting the head of Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM), which claimed responsibility for the attack on an Indian paramilitary convoy in held Kashmir in February.

China prevented a UN Security Council committee on Wednesday from blacklisting JeM founder Masood Azhar.

India said it was disappointed at the block, while the United States said it was counter to a goal it shared with China of achieving regional peace and stability.

In a statement faxed to Reuters late on Friday, China’s Foreign Ministry reiterated that the “technical hold” on the blacklisting was to give more time for the committee to have further consultations on the issue.

China hoped the committee’s actions could “benefit reducing the tense situation and protect regional stability”, the ministry said, responding to a question about calls for boycott of Chinese products in India.

“China is willing to strengthen communication with all parties, including India, to appropriately handle this issue,” it added, without elaborating.

The US, Britain and France had asked the Security Council’s Islamic State and Al Qaeda sanctions committee to subject Azhar to an arms embargo, travel ban and asset freeze. The 15-member committee operates by consensus. China had previously prevented the sanctions committee from sanctioning Azhar in 2016 and 2017.

Western powers could also blacklist Azhar by adopting a Security Council resolution, which needs nine votes in favour and no vetoes by Russia, China, the United States, Britain or France. Already blacklisted by the UN Security Council in 2001, JeM is a primarily anti-India group.



Islamists Misusing Blasphemy Law To Harass Christians In Pakistan: Activists Pakistan

March 17, 2019

Pakistani Christians living in parts of Europe held a protest rally in Geneva to raise their voice against Islamic hardliners who are persecuting minorities in the name of blasphemy.

The protestors including women and children carried out a rally from Palais Wilson, the current headquarters of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to Broken Chair, during the 40th session of the UN Human Rights Council.

They demanded that the Pakistan government must abolish the 'dangerous' law misused by the state and non-state actors to target the minorities.

Frank John, a Pakistani Christian and Chairman of Drumchapel Asian Forum in NW Glasgow, said: "We are unhappy with the functioning of the government in Pakistan because the mindset of 'maulvis' (Islamic hardliners) towards Christians is immoral. Every day, atrocities are being committed against our children, especially girls, which is not acceptable. Our girls are being kidnapped by misusing PPC 295C and they are converted into Islam."

He added: "Every person in Pakistan is unhappy with Act 295C because we always remain in fear of its misuse. If we have an altercation with any person, they put us under PPC 295C. This is a dangerous law and needs to be abolished."

Christians in Pakistan have been facing systematic persecution as not only their churches were being targetted but also girls who are being kidnapped and forcibly converted into Islam.

Samuel Aziz, Head of Overseas Pakistani Christian Association in Germany said: "We are protesting here as we are not getting our rights in Pakistan because of fundamentalist forces."

He added, "We have a demand that this law (blasphemy) should be abolished. These incidents get exposed at international level. In the case of Asiya Bibi, we are thankful to the Supreme Court of Pakistan that she got justice because of government's efforts. The government is not abolishing this law but is helping us to get justice. But, since there are fundamentalist forces, we are facing persecution."

Many members of European Parliamentarians and human rights activists also joined the protest by Pakistani Christians.

Dr Mario Silva, Executive Chairman of International Forum for Rights and Security said: "Pakistan systematically discriminates against minorities. Christians are particularly targeted by the blasphemy law. Christian persecution is a real threat to democracy and it's a real threat to human rights. It's something the world community needs to take a look at.

"I do believe what's happening is a slow genocide which will eventually eliminate all Christians from the country. Last, the government does something about the fundamentalism that spread into the system both in the education system, political system and social system in the country. It will never be able to fully functionalise democracy."

He added, "The state has a responsibility to protect its minorities rather destroying them. They have to go against the perpetrators of crimes against Christians. There are attacks on Christians, suicide bombings are taking place and the government is doing nothing to investigate the persecution of Christians in the country."

Criticising the blasphemy law, Dr Mario said: "Blasphemy law should in fact never be a part of any democratic system of government because blasphemy law is meant to target minorities. It was designed to target the Christian minority and also Ahmadiyya community as well. These communities are suffering a lot because of the blasphemy law. Because the blasphemy law is there, it has led to intolerance. It has led to the growth of extremists in the country who continue to use this as a tool to harass, intimidate and jail minorities in the country."

Christians make up less than two per cent of the population in Pakistan. Their numbers are decreasing as many of them are migrating to other countries for their safety.



Pakistani mullahs in league with terrorists, responsible for acts like Pulwama attack: Ahmadiyyas

March 16, 2019

The Pakistan government has given a free hand to the 'mullahs' (Muslim clergymen) who closely collaborate with terrorist groups and create problems worldwide, like the recent terror attack in Pulwama, leaders of the country's persecuted Ahmadiyya community said here on Saturday.

The leaders of the Ahmadiyya community, a minority sect of Muslims, also highlighted how in Pakistan they are being denied even the basic rights like practising their religion and voting besides being targeted with false cases of blasphemy.

During an event held here on the sidelines of a conference of the UN Human Rights Session (UNHRC), the community leaders sought to draw the international focus on Pakistan-bred terrorism besides demanding an amendment to the draconian laws targeting them in Pakistan.

"The Government of Pakistan has given a free hand to 'mullahs' and they hold the writ of the government," said Iftikhar Ayaz, an Ahmadiyya leader and chairman of London-based International Human Rights Committee.

"They (mullahs) have relations with terrorist organizations and jihadis. The mullahs and terrorists are collaborators which is an open secret. This has created a major problem for world peace, safety and security," he said.

To press his point, he gave the example of the ghastly terror attack in Pulwama on February 14 in which 40 CRPF personnel were killed and said the world should be worried about it.

Ayaz said it's not that only Ahmadiyyas are facing persecution but the "mullahs and terrorists" collaborate to kill and harass others as well.

Another leader of the community Fareed Ahmad said the members of the sect were even denied the right to vote in the recent elections in Pakistan.

He explained that it was because in order to cast a vote, "we have to state if we are non-Muslim or non-Ahmadi and neither of these choices is something we can sign up to."

Ahmad, who is the Secretary for External Affairs of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community in the UK, went on to add, "These are everyday issues in Pakistan. The whole community lives in fear... The persecution is all pervasive."

He said false charges of blasphemy are also imposed on the community members "for holding copies of the Holy Quran" or offering Islamic greetings. We face all these difficulties on a daily basis. There needs to be some action because these are issues that don't just affect us but affect the whole of Pakistan."

In 1974, the then Prime Minister of Pakistan Zulfikar Bhutto had amended the Constitution to declare Ahmadiyyas as non-Muslims.

Subsequently, in 1994, General Zia-ul-Haq amended the penal code to introduce the 'Ordinance XX', making it a criminal offence for Ahmadis to call themselves Muslims or practice their Islamic faith.

"We want Pakistan to prosper, we want it to succeed, we are loyal citizens of Pakistan and are always working for the progress of the country, but this means getting rid of extremism which is embedded by the federal laws of the country," Fareed Ahmad said.

He hoped that the Pakistan government would recognize the problem on its own and address it "because, otherwise, the social fabric of Pakistan is, unfortunately, getting worse by the day."

Ayaz, while flagging concerns over misuse of blasphemy laws in Pakistan against members of the Ahmadiyya community, said these legal provisions are mainly aimed at targeting the community.

"There are other religious communities too, but the blasphemy laws were made to primarily punish the Ahmadiyyas. By facing such threats, the Ahmadiyyas are facing immense problems. You can't worship and can't even keep the Quran at home. You can't even offer Islamic greetings. How can you live in such a country? Ahmadiyyas are also facing problems in schools, colleges and at workplaces," he added.

"In Pakistan, the Christians and Hindus are facing the same problem as we Ahmadiyyas are facing. The terrorists .. are creating problems for the entire world. Pakistan can easily repeal laws against the minorities, but it is not doing so because of the fear of extremist forces," the Ahmadiyya leader said.



Arab Media: UAE, Egypt Promoters of Islamophobia in Europe

Mar 16, 2019

The Arabic-language al-Khaleej Online website quoted Arab activists as saying that the recent terrorist attack in New Zealand was the result of provocation of the far right extremists in Europe against the Muslims and mosques by a number of Islamic countries, including the UAE and Egypt.

They said Islamophobia is not just the result of the Europeans' policies but it is also promoted by the Arab officials and activists, including UAE Foreign Minister Abdullah bin Zayeh al-Nahyan and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi.

The website added that provocation of extremists against Muslims started in a seminar in Riyadh in 2017 when the UAE foreign minister warned the Europeans about the presence of 50mln Muslims on their lands, saying that such a population also includes terrorists and extremists.

Also, el-Sisi in his comments in recent years said that the European leaders should increase supervision over mosques to prevent terrorism and extremism, according to al-Khaleej Online.

During the worst terrorist attack on New Zealand soil, 49 Muslims were killed and 48 more hurt after mass shootings at two Christchurch mosques on Thursday.

The Australian suspect arrested after dozens of worshippers were gunned down in two mosques appeared unrepentant in court in New Zealand on Saturday, staring down media members with a smirk on his face.

Brenton Tarrant, 28, appeared in a Christchurch District Court and was charged with murder. He was remanded without a plea until his next appearance in the South Island city's High Court on April 5.

Handcuffed, shoeless, and wearing a white prison suit, Tarrant did not speak. His court-appointed lawyer made no application for bail or name suppression.

He flashed an upside-down "okay" signal, a symbol used by white power groups across the globe.

Two other suspects were taken into custody while police tried to determine what role, if any, they played in the cold-blooded attack that stunned New Zealand.

Calling it a well-planned terrorist attack, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said the main suspect was a licensed gun owner who used five weapons during his rampage, including two semi-automatic weapons and two shotguns.

New Zealand, with a population of five million, has relatively loose gun laws and an estimated 1.5 million firearms, or roughly one for every three people.

Muslims account for one percent of New Zealand's population, a 2013 census showed, most of whom were born overseas.



Presidential Spokesperson of Turkey Urges World Leaders to Show Same Solidarity with Muslim Victims


Presidential Spokesperson of Turkey Ibrahim Kalın urged world leaders to show the same solidarity with Muslim worshippers who were killed in terrorist attacks on two mosques in New Zealand on Friday.

"Will those [world leaders] who marched for Charlie Hebdo victims march for the Muslims slaughtered in New Zealand too?" Kalın said in a Twitter message posted Saturday.

He continued by saying that only people who truly share the pain can mourn together.

Kalın was referring to the unity march held after a terrorist attack on French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, which left 17 people dead in 2015. Over 55 leaders from around the world participated in the march to pay tribute to the victims and stand in solidarity with France.

However, the same leaders failed to show the same solidarity following terrorist attacks resulting in Muslim casualties in Turkey and other places in the world.

At least 49 people were killed after Australian-born terrorist Brenton Tarrant opened fire on Muslim worshippers attending Friday prayers at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand.



Masood Azhar Is 'Proven Threat’, Why Would China Give Him 'Terror Pass'?: WSJ

Mar 16, 2019

NEW YORK: A leading US daily has questioned China's blocking of another move at the UN to designate Masood Azhar as a "global terrorist", stating that Pakistan-based terror group Jaish-e-Mohammed's chief is a "proven threat" and Beijing is "loath to upset" its "all-weather" friendship with Islamabad.

The Editorial Board of the Wall Street Journal, in an editorial piece titled 'China Shields a Jihadist - Beijing blocks a UN attempt to sanction the Kashmir killer', said without meaningful global action against jihadist enclaves in Pakistan, India may "understandably conclude it has few options other than a military escalation".

The editorial comes after China for the fourth time blocked a bid in the United Nations (UN) Security Council to designate Azhar as a "global terrorist" by putting a technical hold on the proposal on Wednesday, a move India termed as disappointing.

The proposal to designate Azhar under the 1267 al Qaeda Sanctions Committee of the UN Security Council was moved by France, the UK and the US on February 27, days after the Pulwama terror attack which killed forty Indian soldiers.

"...Azhar is a proven threat. Why would China give him a terror pass?," the Editorial Board asked.

"Beijing is loath to upset what it calls its 'all- weather' friendship with Pakistan, and one reason is strategic. The US cut military aid to Islamabad last year after President (Donald) Trump cited its support of terrorists in Afghanistan, and China wants to fill the gap," it said.

The editorial noted that tensions had de-escalated between India and Pakistan after the February 14 terror attack by Jaish-eMohammed (JeM) in Kashmir's Pulwama district which killed 40 Central Reserve Police Force personnel.

In the days since (Pulwama attack), "the global focus now shifts to rooting out terrorists in Pakistan, but China is already easing international pressure on Islamabad to do so," the editorial said.

It said the proposal moved in the UN Security Council's Sanctions Committee against Azhar in the last 10 years would have subjected the JeM chief to a travel ban, an assets freeze and an arms embargo.

A UN blacklisting would pressure Pakistan to comply, the Editorial Board said, adding that the US State Department concluded in 2017 that Islamabad failed to stop the JeM from "openly raising money, recruiting and training" in the country.

But Beijing put a hold on the proposal saying they "still need more time" to consider the matter, according to Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang.

The editorial noted that the international community should not "expect a change" in this stance given that Beijing has blocked Security Council action against Azhar in 2016 and 2017.

Lu suggested that UN sanctions against Azhar could endanger the region's stability, "but the opposite is true", the write-up noted.

"Without meaningful global action against jihadist enclaves in Pakistan, New Delhi may understandably conclude it has few options other than a military escalation," it added.

The editorial cited the American Enterprise Institute's China Global Investment Tracker, saying China has poured nearly $32 billion into Pakistani infrastructure through Beijing's Belt and Road Initiative.

From 2008-2017, Pakistan imported $6 billion in weapons from China, according to the Center for Strategic and International Studies, making it Beijing's biggest arms customer in Asia.

The editorial also noted that China was "shielding" Azhar even as it uses the threat of terror to sanction its own citizens – the Chinese Uighur Muslims.

It said in its northwestern Xinjiang province, more than one million Chinese Uighur Muslims have been detained in "reeducation" centers under the guise of preventing extremism.





New Zealand mosque shootings toll rises to 50, families wait to bury their dead

March 17, 2019

The death toll in the New Zealand mosque shootings rose to 50 on Sunday when police found another body at one of the mosques, as families waited for authorities to formally identify victims and release their bodies for burial.

Australian Brenton Tarrant, 28, a suspected white supremacist, was charged with murder on Saturday. Tarrant was remanded without a plea and is due back in court on April 5 where police said he was likely to face more charges.

Friday’s attack, which Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern labelled as terrorism, was the worst ever peacetime mass killing in New Zealand and the country had raised its security threat level to the highest.

Footage of the attack on one of the mosques was broadcast live on Facebook, and a “manifesto” denouncing immigrants as “invaders” was also posted online via links to related social media accounts.

The bodies of the victims had not been released to families because investigations were going on, Police Commissioner Mike Bush said at a media conference in Wellington.

It is customary in Islam to bury the dead within 24 hours.

“We have to be absolutely clear on cause of death and confirm their identity before that can happen. But we are so aware of the cultural and religious needs, so we are doing that as quickly and sensitively as possible,” Bush said.

Bush said the body of the 50th victim was found at the Al Noor mosque, where more than 40 people died after a gunman entered and shot at people with a semi-automatic rifle with high-capacity magazines, before travelling to a second mosque.


One man at the second mosque in the suburb of Linwood was being hailed for distracting and confronting the shooter, preventing further deaths.

Abdul Aziz, 48, told media he heard shooting and ran outside the mosque, shouting at the gunman and drawing him away from the building, the Newshub website reported.

Aziz, originally from Afghanistan, said he picked up one of the gunman’s discarded weapons and threatened the man, who drove off.

Police then rammed the gunman’s vehicle and arrested him.

“Those two police officers acted with absolute courage,” Bush said. “They have prevented further deaths and risked their own lives to do so.”

Church services for victims of the attack were held around the country, including at Christchurch’s “Cardboard Cathedral”, a temporary structure built after much of the central city was destroyed in a 2011 earthquake.

Thirty-four people were in Christchurch Hospital, with 12 in intensive care, and one child moved to dedicated children’s hospital in Auckland.

Greg Robertson, head of surgery at Christchurch Hospital said staff were used to seeing gunshot wounds and severe injuries, but the scale and nature of the attacks was different.

“The magnitude of this is the thing that is the most significant issue for people. It’s just comprehending what is the incomprehensible.”

At Hagley College, a school across the park from the Al Noor mosque, a support centre was set up with a stream of victims’ friends and relatives arriving. One woman carried sandwiches and falafel.

A student, who asked not to be identified, said a friend had been killed.

“He was studying to be a pilot and we saw him for morning classes. Then he went to the mosque as usual. And we are not hearing from him,” he said. “I got a call last night from a friend, around midnight, to say he has passed away.”

The majority of victims were migrants or refugees from countries such as Pakistan, India, Malaysia, Indonesia, Turkey, Somalia and Afghanistan.

Pakistan’s high commissioner said six citizens had been killed and three were missing.


Bush said police did not believe that three other people arrested on Friday were involved in the attack. Two men faced charges unrelated or “tangential” to the attack, while a woman had been released, he said.

Tarrant did not have a criminal history and was not on any watchlists in New Zealand or Australia.

In a manifesto circulating online, Tarrant described himself as “Just a ordinary White man, 28 years old” who used the spoils of cryptocurrency trading to finance extensive travels through Europe from 2016-2018.

Ardern said Tarrant was a licensed gun owner who allegedly used five weapons, including two semi-automatic weapons and two shotguns, which had been modified.

“I can tell you one thing right now, our gun laws will change,” Ardern told reporters on Saturday, saying a ban on semi-automatic weapons would be considered.

New Zealand has in the past tried to tighten firearm laws, but a strong gun lobby and culture of hunting has stymied such efforts.

There are an estimated 1.5 million firearms in New Zealand, which has a population of only 5 million, but it has had low levels of gun violence.



New Zealand mosque attacks prompt flood of support for Muslims

March 17, 2019

New Zealanders have responded to the Christchurch mosque massacres with an outpouring of interfaith solidarity - crowdfunding millions of dollars, donating halal food and even offering to accompany local Muslims now scared to walk the streets.

The killing of 49 people at two mosques in this usually placid city on Friday has sent shockwaves rippling across the Pacific Island country that on average sees no more than 50 murders a year.

But revulsion at the bloodshed and the self-declared perpetrator's racist motives has been matched by displays of support and warmth towards the country's devastated Muslim communities.

In a suburb of Christchurch close to where the attacks took place, Yoti Ioannou and his wife put out a Facebook post calling for locals to donate halal food.

Their idea was to provide meals for the dozens of desperate relatives waiting at the city's hospitals for news of their loved ones as surgeons battled to save lives.

The halal food drive was inundated, they said, with people lining up to give meals throughout Saturday.

"We're just really humbled and happy to help," Ioannou told AFP news agency. "We'll be working on a way to keep things consistent with support for the families."

He said so much food was donated that they eventually had to put a fresh call out saying no more was needed.

"The people of Christchurch, we're used to rallying," Iannou said, referencing the 2011 earthquake that killed more than 180 people.

"It's just second nature to us now and I'm pleased they came out in force today."

The Sikh community in Christchurch offered help in washing the bodies of the victims and digging the graves.

'I'll walk with you'

Across the country, New Zealanders also dug deep - the two most prominent crowdfunding campaigns had already raised between them more than 3.2 million New Zealand dollars ($ 2.2m) within 24 hours of the shootings.

Local crowdfunding platform Givealittle crashed briefly on Saturday, while LaunchGood had over 23,000 donors saying they were "United for Christchurch" as they contributed for the New Zealand Islamic Information Centre.

Many of those donating left messages of support incorporating popular Maori terms.

"Kia kaha to all New Zealanders, love to all families affected," read one donation, using a Maori phrase for "stay strong".

Others put out offers for help and support for local Muslims who might be feeling afraid of leaving their houses.

In one Facebook post that went especially viral, Wellington native Lianess Howard wrote: "If any Muslim women in Wellington feel unsafe right now - I will walk with you, wait at the bus stop with you, I'll sit on the bus with you, or walk with you while you do the groceries."

A screen grab of the post placed on Twitter was shared more than 16,000 times.

Others came to the police cordons to show support.

Wendy and Andy Johnson said that had clipped a silver fern, a national symbol, from their garden to place with the growing bunches of flowers left at the massacre site cordons.

"We cut the silver fern out of our garden just to let all our Muslim community know that our hearts are breaking for them today and we stand with them in solidarity," Wendy Johnson told the StuffNZ website.

Full report at:



Australian senator blames Muslims for New Zealand mosque attack, gets egg on head

Mar 16, 2019

An Australian senator had a raw egg cracked over his head and faces censure from his fellow lawmakers after sparking outrage by blaming Muslim immigration for the New Zealand mosque shootings.

Senator Fraser Anning came under blistering criticism over tweets on Friday including one that said, “Does anyone still dispute the link between Muslim immigration and violence?”

“The real cause of the bloodshed on New Zealand streets today is the immigration program which allowed Muslim fanatics to migrate to New Zealand in the first place,” he said in a statement.

Television cameras caught a 17-year-old boy breaking an egg on Anning’s head and briefly scuffling with the independent senator while he was holding a news conference Saturday in Melbourne.

Police said the boy was arrested but was released without charge pending a further investigation. No motive was offered for the egging.

The government and opposition party agreed to pass a censure motion against Anning over his stance on the Christchurch shootings when Parliament resumes in April.

While such a reprimand is a symbolic gesture, the major parties expect to demonstrate how isolated Anning’s views are among Australia’s 226 federal lawmakers. The major parties’ support ensures the censure motion will be passed by both chambers.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said he denounced Anning’s comments.

“In his conflation of this horrendous terrorist attack with issues of immigration, in his attack on Islamic faith specifically — these comments are appalling and they’re ugly and they have no place in Australia, in the Australian Parliament,” Morrison said. “He should be, frankly, ashamed of himself.”

Bilal Rauf, spokesman for the Australian National Imams Council, the nation’s top Muslim group, likened the senator’s views to the rambling manifesto published online by suspect Brenton Tarrant before the slayings.

“When one looks at his statement, it may as well have been an extract from the manifesto of the person that perpetrated these heinous crimes, this act of terrorism in Christchurch,” Rauf said.

Rauf said Anning was unfit for the Senate.

Opposition lawmaker Penny Wong accused Anning of attempting to use the tragedy to grab attention ahead of elections in May.

Anning only received 19 votes in the last election in 2016. But because of a quirk in the Australian electoral system, he was elevated to the Senate by the anti-immigration, anti-Muslim One Nation party after a court ruled that its senator, Malcolm Roberts, had not been eligible to run for election due to his dual citizenship.

Anning later defected from One Nation to another anti-immigration party, then became an independent. Analysts say Anning is unlikely to be re-elected as an independent candidate in May.

Anning was widely condemned for his first speech to the Senate in August advocating reviving a white-only immigration policy and using the term “final solution” in calling for a vote on which migrants to admit into the country. Critics accused him of making a veiled reference to the Nazi extermination of Jews.

The government also announced on Saturday it had banned right-wing commentator Milo Yiannopoulos from touring the country over his social media response to the Christchurch shootings.

Immigration Minister David Coleman said Yiannopoulos’ social media comments are “appalling and foment hatred and division.”

Coleman didn’t specify which comments he was referring to.

Yiannopoulos said on Facebook that attacks like Christchurch happen because “the establishment panders to and mollycoddles extremist leftism and barbaric, alien religious cultures.”

Full report at:



New Zealand terrorist sent manifesto to PM Ardern nine minutes before attack

17 March 2019

The terrorist who killed at least 50 people in two New Zealand mosques sent his manifesto to the country’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s office email about nine minutes before the attacks, Ardern said.

Although she hadn’t gotten the email directly herself, Ardern said her office was one of about 30 recipients and had forwarded the email to Parliamentary security within a couple of minutes of receiving it.

Police Commissioner Mike Bush said the body of the 50th victim was found at the Al Noor mosque, where more than 40 people died after the terrorist entered and shot at people with a semi-automatic rifle with high-capacity magazines, before travelling to a second mosque.

Police rammed the suspect’s vehicle and arrested him as he drove away from the second mosque in the suburb of Linwood. Bush said the man was apprehended 36 minutes after police were alerted.

Bush said at a news conference Sunday that they found another body at Al Noor mosque as they finished removing the victims, bringing the number of people killed there to 42. Another seven people were killed at Linwood mosque and one more person died later at Christchurch Hospital.

Another 34 victims remained at Christchurch Hospital, where officials said 12 were in critical condition. And a 4-year-old girl at a children’s hospital in Auckland was also listed as critical.

Dozens of Muslim supporters gathered at a center set up for victims, families and friends across the road from the hospital, where many had flown in from around New Zealand to offer support. About two dozen men received instructions on their duties Sunday morning, which included Muslim burial customs.

Abdul Hakim, 56, of Auckland, was among many who had flown in to help.

“As soon as people die we must bury them as soon as possible,” Hakim said. “We are all here to help them in washing the body, putting them in the grave.”

Javed Dadabhai, who flew from Auckland after learning about the death of his 35-year-old cousin Junaid Mortara, said the Muslim community was being patient.

“The family understands that it’s a crime scene. It’s going to be a criminal charge against the guy who’s done this, so they need to be pretty thorough,” he said.

Still, it was hard, he said, because the grieving process wouldn’t really begin until he could bury his cousin.

People across New Zealand were still trying to come to terms with the massacre that Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern described as “one of New Zealand’s darkest days.”

Full report at:



Attackers abuse Muslims, assault worshiper outside a London mosque

Mar 16, 2019

Three unidentified men have attacked a Muslim worshiper outside a mosque east of the British capital hours after a terrorist assault on Muslims in New Zealand.

The Metropolitan Police confirmed on Saturday that three men had used objects identified as batten and hammer to attack a 27-year-old Muslim outside an East London mosque.

However, the Met refused to designate the attack as an act of terror and hate crime against the Muslims despite accounts by witnesses at the scene who said the attackers had been abusive and shouted Islamophobic slurs. The attackers even called the Muslims “terrorists”, according to witnesses.

The victim of the attack, described by the Met as an Asian, suffered injuries to his head. He was rushed to a nearby hospital by people at the scene.

Videos on social media showed the attackers, described by the police to be in their 20s, jumping into a blue Ford Fiesta they had used to reach the mosque and then fled the scene.

The attack came hours after some 49 Muslim worshipers were massacred in two mosques in Christchurch, south of New Zealand. The attacker, identified as Brenton Tarrant, has said that he had been inspired by Darren Osborne, an English terrorist who drove his car into a crowd of Muslim worshipers outside a mosque in Finsbury Park, North London, in June 2017.

Full report at:



Thousands in Melbourne call for halt to Islamophobia, racism

Mar 16, 2019

Thousands of people have taken to the streets in Australia’s second-largest city of Melbourne to protest against rising sentiments of Islamophobia and racism in the wake of the recent massacre of Muslim people in New Zealand.

Protesters gathered at Victoria's State Library on Saturday to express solidarity with the Muslim community following the Friday terrorist attacks at two mosques in the New Zealand city of Christchurch.

Rally organizer Jasmine Ali told Daily Mail Australia, “The Islamophobia and racist rhetoric of Australia's Coalition government has contributed to an atmosphere where vile attacks like the Christchurch shooting become possible.”

Secretary of Islamic Council of Victoria Mohammad Helmy, who was among the participants in the rally, said the "hate rhetoric being shared in the public domain" led to the attacks. “This kind of hate rhetoric, it kills.”

In a show of solidarity, a number of landmarks in Melbourne were lit up overnight in the New Zealand flag colors.

The rally was one of many protests of its kind held across the globe ahead of next week's International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has condemned the terrorist attack, saying she would change the country's firearm laws.

Turkey investigates visits by New Zealand terrorist

Meanwhile, a Turkish official, who was speaking on condition of anonymity, said Ankara had opened an inquiry after it emerged that the man alleged to be the New Zealand mosque attacker visited Turkey twice.

"We think that the suspect could have been to other countries (from Turkey) in Europe, Asia and Africa. We are investigating the suspect's movements and contacts in the countries," said the official.

Turkish media reported that a manifesto published online allegedly by the attacker contained specific references to Turkey and ridding the famed Hagia Sophia in Istanbul of its minarets. Now a museum, the building was once a church before being turned into a mosque during the Ottoman Empire.

Turkey's state broadcaster TRT said the suspect visited Turkey twice in 2016, on March 17-20 and September 13 to October 25. The Turkish television channel has released a security camera image of him arriving at Istanbul's Ataturk Airport.

Turkey sends delegation to New Zealand

In a phone call to Dame Patsy Reddy, New Zealand's governor-general, on Friday, Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said he was sending a high-level delegation, including Vice President Fuat Oktay and Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, to the Pacific Ocean country to open an inquiry into the attacker’s alleged visits to Turkey.

"The manifesto that the terrorist released clearly shows that this was no individual act," said Erdogan, stressing the importance of exposing the groups behind the attacks, and offering Turkey's help.     

The Turkish Foreign Ministry later released a statement, saying the delegation would stress Ankara’s resolve against Islamophobia and xenophobia and its solidarity with New Zealand in the face of these "heinous" terror attacks.

Speaking at an Istanbul airport before leaving for New Zealand, Oktay said, “This terrorist act, unfortunately, has shown us once again that there are no limits of hostility to Islam”, calling on the international community to “stand up against Islamophobia, xenophobia, radicalism, and racism.”

Bulgaria earlier said it was investigating after discovering that the gunman might have visited the Southeastern European country in November 2018.

Sotir Tsatsarov, Bulgaria's chief prosecutor, said an investigation had been launched into whether Tarrant had contacts with local citizens.

The Interior Ministry said Bulgaria is coordinating with counterterrorism teams from various countries.

In separate remarks on Friday, Erdogan denounced the deadly attack, saying it illustrated the growing hostility towards Islam "idly" watched by the world.

"With this attack, hostility towards Islam, that the world has been idly watching and even encouraging for some time, has gone beyond individual harassment to reach the level of mass killing," Erdogan said.

He further called on the West to take urgent actions to prevent similar attacks.

"If measures are not taken right away, news of other disasters will follow this one ... I am calling on the world, in particular the West, to take quick measures," he said.

Additionally, five major parties in Turkey's parliament issued a joint declaration in condemnation of the terrorist attack, urging Western governments and media to “wholeheartedly and categorically steer clear of rhetoric that provoke Islamophobic emotions and actions."

After Friday prayers, dozens of people gathered outside Istanbul's Fatih Mosque, one of the city's main mosques, to condemn the terrorist attack. They waved signs that read, "Stop global terrorism" and "Crusader Savagery in New Zealand."

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif have denounced the terrorist attacks.

Full report at:



Sweden: Far-right politician proposes building mosque

Atilla Altuntas 


A far-right Swedish politician who represents an anti-immigration party has proposed to build a mosque and a cultural center to attract more immigrants to the country, local media reported.

Mark Collins from far-right Sweden Democrats party, said he believes they need immigrants in order to stop the decline of the town’s population, according to The Local Sweden.

Collins proposed to build the mosque and cultural center in Kramfors town of northern Sweden's Vasternorrland county.

The news network quoted Collins as saying: "My idea is that if you have a mosque and a cultural center, then you empower the Muslims to be responsible for our town and the area up here.”

"The one group in Sweden that is mobile is the immigrant community, and they're very business minded, and that's what we need,” he added.

Full report at:



UK media fail to call NZ shootings as terror attack

Can Erözden 


U.K.'s well-known broadcasting corporation BBC and Daily Mirror came under fire as they did not name the New Zealand mosque shootings as terror attack that killed at least 50 Muslims at their place of worship on Friday.

BBC was unable to name the Christchurch mosque attacks as "terror attacks" but mainly said "Christchurch mosque shootings".

Meanwhile, British daily newspaper Daily Mirror published the terrorist's childhood photo as it remarked "an angelic boy" for the terror suspect, Brenton Harrison Tarrant.

"Boy who grew into evil far-right mass killer as 49 murdered at prayers," Daily Mirror said.

"A photo released of the killer as a child in the arms of his late father shows an angelic boy who former ­associates revealed was a likable and dedicated personal trainer running free athletic programmes for kids," it added.

An Australian gunman, 28-year-old Tarrant -- also the accused terrorist -- killed at least 50 Muslims in Friday's twin terror attacks in New Zealand.

The terror attack, during the weekly Friday prayers at the Al Noor and Linwood mosques in Christchurch, was streamed live on social media. The footage has since been taken down.

However, BBC had called 2017 Westminster attack as "Westminster Terror Attack".

In a terrorist attack in March 2017, Khalid Masood, 52, killed four people on Westminster Bridge when he mowed pedestrians down, before stabbing a police officer who was on duty in front of parliament.

- Former BBC editor slams broadcaster for its angle

Ex-BBC editor Rifat Jawaid criticized BBC for its perspective and style about the terrorist attack in Christchurch.

"As a former BBC Editor, I feel incredibly disappointed with your glaringly biased editorials. Both Australian and New Zealand Prime Ministers have called Christ Church carnage as terrorist attack. But for your TV and online editors, this is only mosque attack! Shameful!," Jawaid said on Twitter.

Separately, Iranian Ambassador in London Hamid Baeidinejad said on social media that knife attack in London means a terrorist attack for BBC managers but the massacre in New Zealand is only an attack.

In addition, French press avoided to say "terror" even though they did for the attacks in France.

French daily Le Parisien didn't say terror attacks but remarked "Attentat de Christchurch" (Christchurch attack).

Full report at:



Pope calls NZ attack 'senseless acts of violence'

Can Erözden 


Pope Francis called the terror attack in New Zealand that killed at least 50 Muslims at their place of worship as "senseless acts of violence".

"His Holiness Pope Francis was deeply saddened to learn of the injury and loss of life caused by the senseless acts of violence at two Mosques in Christchurch, and he assures all New Zealanders, and in particular the Muslim community, of his heartfelt solidarity in the wake of these attacks," a Vatican statement read.

An Australian gunman, 28-year-old Brenton Harrison Tarrant -- also the accused terrorist -- killed at least 50 Muslims in Friday's twin terror attacks in New Zealand.

Full report at:



France repatriates children of ISIS members as Iraq starts trial of suspected fighters

March 16, 2019

France says it has repatriated five young children of ISIS supporters from camps in northern Syria, the government said on Friday, but insisted it hasn’t changed its position on adults who joined the militant group.

The news came as Iraq reportedly began legal proceedings against 14 French suspected ISIS members handed over by US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces in Syria last month.

The children taken back to France were either orphans or unaccompanied minors who were in displacement camps in northern Syria, the foreign ministry said on Friday. It did not detail the children’s connection to France or their ages.

The issue of returning fighters and their families has become a contentious debate in Europe after those fleeing the last pocket of ISIS territory in eastern Syria rose rapidly. Camps in north Syria run by the SDF are now hosting over 69,000 women, children and elderly people who had been encircled by the US-backed force near the town of Baghouz. All military-age males have been taken to SDF run prisons.

Meanwhile, the 14 French suspected fighters handed over to Iraqi authorities appeared before an investigative judge in a Baghdad anti-terrorism court on March 6, two sources told Reuters news agency.

The agency added that all had signed confessions saying that they had been in Mosul when it was under ISIS control between 2014 and 2017.

If found guilty, they could face the death penalty.

Hundreds of suspected ISIS sympathisers and members have already been tried and found guilty in Iraq since the end of the military campaign against the group in the country in 2017. However, rights groups have reported that the process has been suspect with many accused being tried in groups with sessions that last mere minutes and reply almost exclusively on signed confessions – which they say may have been extracted under duress – or witness testimony without other supporting evidence.

Iraqi authorities insist the trials follow due process.

Full report at:



France returns ISIS orphans from Syria

Jack Dutton

March 16, 2019

The French government has repatriated several orphaned children aged five or under from French ISIS camps in northeastern Syria.

The children are under individual medical and psychological supervision and were handed over to the judicial authorities, says the French Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs in a statement.

The family members concerned, who were in contact with the ministry, have been informed.

The French government said it made the decision to return the children because they were “very young and especially vulnerable”, before thanking the Syrian Democratic Forces for helping return them.

“Regarding the adult French nationals who were fighters and jihadists who had followed ISIS to the Levant, France's position has not changed: they must be tried on the territory where they committed their crimes,” the announcement said. “It is a matter of both justice and security.”

The British government has refused to evacuate foreign fighter children from Syria, citing security concerns. Speaking on Shamima Begum’s child, who died on pneumonia in a Syrian refugee camp on March 10, British Foreign Secretary Jeremey Hunt told the BBC’s The Andrew Marr Show: “We have to think about the safety of the British officials that I would send into that war zone.”

Ms Begum fled London to join ISIS at the age of 15, where she married Yago Riedijk, a Dutch ISIS fighter and father of her child who is being held in a Kurdish detention centre in north-eastern Syria.

“Shamima knew when she made the decision to join Daesh that she was going to a country where there was no embassy, where there was no consular assistance,” Hunt added. “And I’m afraid those decisions, awful though it is, they do have consequences.”

Peter Conradi


 Am very pleased to see the three little French kids I wrote about in this piece have been flown back from Syria to Paris by French authorities. I hope they will be handed over to the care of their grandparents soon.



A grandmother’s plea to Emmanuel Macron for Isis bride’s ‘caliphate cubs’ by @Peter_Conradi @STForeign 📷 @vero2v

View image on Twitter


12:55 AM - Mar 16, 2019 • Paris, France

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Full report at:





UP Muslim community calls for strong action against Masood Azhar, shames China for protecting him

Siraj Qureshi

March 16, 2019

The Muslim community in Uttar Pradesh have called for coersive action against Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) chief Masood Azhar and said there is no place for terrorism in Islam.

Various Muslim organisations in Agra reacted strongly to China blocking the move to tag Masood Azhar as a global terrorist by the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) and asserted that India should have known that Beijing has "always been a supporter of Pakistan".

Irfan Saleem, district president of the Sarv Daliya Muslim Action Committee, told India Today TV that Prime Minister Narendra Modi should have himself informed the United Nations about the terrorist attacks and activities being carried out by Masood Azhar.

Saleem said PM Narendra Modi should have taken the liberty to talk to Chinese president about Masood Azhar.

"China has always been a supporter of Pakistan. Prime Minister Narendra Modi should have himself informed the United Nations (UN) and the Chinese president about the terrorist activities of Masood Azhar," Irfan Saleem said.

Sami Aghai, Bhartiya Muslim Vikas Parishad, said if Jaswant Singh, the then foreign minister in the Vajpayees cabinet had not released terrorist Masood Azhar in 1999, then the current situation would not have been arised.

"China has used its veto power to protect Masood Azhar. While the Chinese President Xi Jinping is a good friend of India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Narendra Modi had swung the hoop by taking him to Gujarat," Aghai said.

Meanwhile, Yogesh Malhotra, the member of Hindustani Biradari, went on to say that India should cutoff its relations with China, which has used "veto power in favour of a terrorist who have destroyed the houses of brave soldiers".

Malhotra said China has "ruined its image internationally" by protecting terrorist Masood Azhar and Indian citizens should boycott Chinese products.

"India has the ability to manufacture those products which is currently imported by China. Therefore, Indian people should not buy anything made by China and India should completely eliminate its relations with China," Malhotra said.

"China has used veto power in favor of such terrorist who have destroyed the houses of brave soldiers, innocent people in our country. It seems like China is supporting terrorism along with Pakistan. Being a neighbour, China should support India. China has become India's opponent now by supporting the terrorist who have destroyed so many Indian lives. China has ruined it's image internationally. Pakistan is fully protecting Masood Azhar and he will have to suffer the consequences," Malhotra said.



New Zealand terror attack: Five Indians among those killed at Christchurch mosque

March 17, 2019

The Indian High Commission in New Zealand Sunday confirmed that five Indians were killed in the deadly Christchurch terror attack in New Zealand which has claimed 50 lives. The Indian mission in the country identified the five as Maheboob Khokhar, Ramiz Vora, Asif Vora, Ansi Alibava and Ozair Kadir.

Among them was a father praying for the well-being of his five-day-old daughter and a husband who saw the shooting begin inside the mosque his wife walked into.

“With a very heavy heart we share the news of loss of precious lives of our 5 nationals in ghastly terror attack in Christchurch —Maheboob Khokhar, Ramiz Vora, Asif Vora, Ansi Alibava and Ozair Kadir,” tweeted the Indian High Commission.

“Our helpline numbers (021803899 and 021850033) will remain available round the clock to assist families as we together cope with our shared grief.  We deeply mourn the loss of all other innocent lives including people of Indian origin,” the tweet said.

India in New Zealand


 With a very heavy heart we share the news of loss of precious lives of our 5 nationals in ghastly terror attack in #Christchurch

Mr. Maheboob Khokhar

Mr. Ramiz Vora

Mr. Asif Vora

Ms Ansi Alibava

Mr. Ozair Kadir@kohli_sanjiv @MEAIndia @SushmaSwaraj 1/3


3:12 AM - Mar 17, 2019

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The Indian High Commission in New Zealand also said that a group of community leaders have been appointed in Christchurch to assist families. “Those who need assistance while transiting through Auckland may contact our Hon Consul at 021531212,” they tweeted.

India in New Zealand


 Immigration NZ has set up a dedicated page to expedite visa for family members of Christchurch victims …@kohli_sanjiv @BhavDhillonnz @MEAIndia @SushmaSwaraj


4:19 AM - Mar 17, 2019

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It also informed that a dedicated page to expedite visa for family members of Christchurch victims has been set up by the New Zealand immigration.

On Saturday, among the victims of the terror attack carried out by Brenton Tarrant, who was produced in a New Zealand court, was Ancy (23) from Kodungallur in Kerala’s Thrissur district. Her husband Ponnadathu Abdul Nazar was praying at a different mosque.

According to a relative, Salim, Nazar called his family Saturday to inform about the tragedy. “We were told Ancy was injured. But, another relative working in New Zealand went to Christchurch and identified Ancy’s body and met Nazar,” he said.

Salim said Nazar and Ancy were at different mosques and that Nazar saw the firing at the mosque in which his wife was offering namaz. He could not go to the spot after the firing due to the mayhem and only hoped his wife was safe. Nazar searched for Ancy among the injured but later realised that she is no more, he said. Nazar works at a supermarket in Christchurch, while Ancy studied agriculture technology. The couple had moved to New Zealand a year ago after they wed in 2017.

Among the victims was also a 65-year-old resident of Juhapura in Ahmedabad, Mehboob Khokhar, who was visiting his son Imran in Christchurch for the first time. He was pronounced dead Saturday after sustaining fatal gunshot wounds.

Meanwhile, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern Saturday said that bodies of those killed in Christchurch terror attacks will start being released to families Sunday night. “Gun laws will change in wake of mosque attacks; Cabinet will discuss policy details Monday,” AP quoted Ardern as saying.

Full report at:



Post-Pulwama: India ready to let another country verify terror apparatus in Pakistan

by Shubhajit Roy

March 17, 2019

For the first time India is said to be open to third-party and international verification of terror infrastructure in Pakistan, even as it fears the action taken by Islamabad against terror groups in the past few weeks has been cosmetic.

Sources in the government said many countries with excellent credentials could verify the facts of India’s dossier on the presence of terror camps inside Pakistan. This is important, sources said, as India cannot visit and verify this itself.

Sources said India has shared key details such as coordinates of the terror groups operating from Pakistan soil with Islamabad, which can be verified by a third country. Pakistan continues to deny the presence of terror infrastructure in its territory, and has claimed to have cracked down on some of these outfits.

Sources told The Sunday Express that this is in line with India’s demand that Islamabad’s action against terrorists, terrorist groups, their proxies and the infrastructure should be “credible”, “verifiable” and “sustained”.

They said that while there is no clarity yet on who in the international community can verify the actions taken by Pakistan, it could be the UN Security Council or UN bodies, or the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), or multi-country teams. But, this is still to be decided.

The issue of verification will arise once Pakistan claims it has taken adequate action. Sources said Delhi is not going to take Islamabad’s claims at face value.

However, internationally, there are no clear precedents for verification of dismantling of terror infrastructure, unlike that for nuclear programmes, which is done by the International Atomic Energy Agency.

The issue of verification will arise once Pakistan claims it has taken adequate action. Sources said Delhi is not going to take Islamabad’s claims at face value.

However, internationally, there are no clear precedents for verification of dismantling of terror infrastructure, unlike that for nuclear programmes, which is done by the International Atomic Energy Agency.

India had also carried out, what it called “non-military”, “counter-terror” and “pre-emptive”, air strikes in Balakot in Pakistan’s Khyber Paktunkhwa province, on a camp that Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale said had a “very large number of JeM terrorists, trainers, senior commanders and groups of jihadis who were being trained for fidayeen action”.

Last week, China for the fourth time in 10 years stalled efforts to list Azhar. It had single-handedly blocked the proposal earlier in 2009, 2016 and 2017.

Sources said actions taken by Pakistan so far against terror groups were cosmetic, like keeping some individuals in preventive detention, with these groups thriving with a change in signboards or leadership structure. If Islamabad really wanted to send a message that it was serious about addressing India’s concerns, it should hand over terrorists like Dawood Ibrahim, Syed Salahuddin etc, sources said.

Pakistan has claimed that it has kept Azhar’s brother and son in “preventive detention”. During his visit to the US last week, Gokhale conveyed to American interlocutors that this fit in with Pakistan’s response to similar events in the past. The Foreign Secretary also pointed out to US Congressmen that the British used to keep Mahatma Gandhi in “preventive detention”, and that as per the British terminology, this was meant to keep the individual safe rather than the population to whom he was a threat.

With Beijing, sources said, Delhi was ready for the long haul and to show patience “as long as it takes” without compromising on its position on terrorism. Delhi is “cautiously confident” that eventually Azhar will get listed as it has a solid case against the JeM chief — and hopes that this will happen in weeks or months, and not take “years”.

Sources said China has to resolve certain issues with Pakistan, though it has adequate information that terror groups were operating from Pakistani soil and were against Chinese interests as well.

Also Read | ‘Anti-India terror groups won’t be allowed to operate in Afghanistan’

Full report at:



India’s Pak concern now: narrow Kartarpur focus, Khalistan meet

by Shubhajit Roy

March 17, 2019

Two days after differences emerged between India and Pakistan over the proposed Kartarpur corridor, New Delhi said on Saturday that Islamabad’s perceived generosity is not matched with its approach during the bilateral talks.

Sources said that while Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan’s initial statements about the Kartarpur corridor were very generous and an open-ended offer, when its team came for the discussions, they have a very “narrow” and “limited focus” on the project.

Sources said that India was also concerned about plans by some Sikh groups in the US, Canada and Australia to organise a convention in Pakistan to draw support for “referendum 2020” under which they are seeking support for a separate Khalistan. They said New Delhi is conveying to the countries, where pro-Khalistani activities are taking place, that talking about separatism in another country will be tantamount to interference in internal matters of India. They said India is of the view that the noise being made by a small group of people does not represent the views of the Sikh community and that people agitating for the referendum are not citizens of India.

As reported by The Indian Express, key differences on major aspects emerged between the two countries — from who should be allowed access to when and how, both sides had divergent views at the meeting to discuss modalities for pilgrims to pay obeisance at Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Pakistan through the proposed Kartarpur Sahib corridor.

While India wants 5,000 pilgrims to visit in a single day, Pakistan wants only 500 to 700 pilgrims daily, citing logistical constraints. New Delhi has asked for opening of the corridor on all seven days but Islamabad has proposed that it should be open only on designated days.

India has sought “visa-free access” but Pakistan has said there should be special permits with a fee. India has asked that the corridor be opened to Indian nationals as well as those foreign nationals who have Overseas Citizens of India (OCI) cards but Pakistan has said it will allow only resident Indian nationals. OCI cardholders cover Sikhs from Canada, UK and other countries.

India has asked that pilgrims be allowed to walk the distance, but Pakistan has argued that pilgrims should only be ferried across by bus.

New Delhi accused Islamabad of “surreptitiously usurping” land belonging to the Kartarpur Sahib gurdwara in the name of developing the corridor. Sources said the Indian delegation has lodged a strong protest with their Pakistan counterparts against the “rampant encroachment” on the land belonging to the shrine. The encroached land was donated to Kartarpur Sahib by the late Maharaja Ranjeet Singh and others.

Pakistan government sources have said, “India is in no position to object…Every country has the right to decide how a religious corridor within its territory would operate and we take no dictations…”

Full report at:



‘Anti-India terror groups won’t be allowed to operate in Afghanistan’

by Shubhajit Roy

March 17, 2019

US special envoy for Afghanistan reconciliation, Zalmay Khalilzad has conveyed to Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale that anti-India terrorist groups will not be allowed to operate in Afghanistan, and this has been part of the US-Taliban conversation.

Gokhale, who met Khalilzad this week during his trip to the US, got a briefing on the state of play in the negotiations between the US and Taliban, which was held in Doha.

When Khalilzad told Gokhale that among the issues discussed with the Taliban, there has been an assurance that Afghanistan’s territory will not be used for terrorist activities, the foreign secretary asked him whether this included “anti-India” groups as well. Khalilzad’s answer was in the affirmative, sources said.

Gokhale is also learnt to have conveyed to Khalilzad, an Afghan-born US diplomat, that India does not want an “interim arrangement”, and wants an elected political structure in place in Kabul. Delhi has been pushing for elections on time in Afghanistan.

The foreign secretary, who had a detailed meeting with Khalilzad, was briefed on the four issues that are dominating discussions between the US and the Taliban —- counter-terrorism assurances, troop withdrawal, intra-Afghan dialogue, and a comprehensive ceasefire.

After what he called a “marathon round of talks” with the Taliban in Doha, Khalilzad had said the conditions for peace have improved. “It’s clear all sides want to end the war. Despite ups and downs, we kept things on track and made real strides,” he tweeted.

“Peace requires agreement on four issues: counter-terrorism assurances, troop withdrawal, intra-Afghan dialogue, and a comprehensive ceasefire. In January talks, we ‘agreed in principle’ on these four elements. We’re now ‘agreed in draft’ on the first two,” he said.

“When the agreement in draft about a withdrawal timeline and effective counterterrorism measures is finalized, the Taliban and other #Afghans, including the government, will begin intra-Afghan negotiations on a political settlement and comprehensive ceasefire,” he said.

“My next step is discussions in Washington and consultations with other partners. We will meet again soon, and there is no final agreement until everything is agreed,” Khalilzad said.

Last month, the MEA had said that it was not only closely following the developments related to peace and reconciliation efforts in Afghanistan by different stakeholders but was also very active and in very regular contact with all other stakeholders including Russia, Iran and Saudi Arabia.

Khalilzad visited India in January, and met the Indian leadership including External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Gokhale. Indian ambassador to the US Harshvardhan Shringla also met him last month, where he was briefed on US efforts in the region.

Full report at:



India builds on strong ties with Afghanistan and Iran

By Nava Thakuria

March 16, 2019

India, a projected enemy nation to Pakistan since their births in 1947, continues nurturing friendship with Afghanistan and also Iran. The recent functioning of an Iranian port in Arabian Sea (Indian Ocean) connecting Afghanistan with India bypassing Pakistan reveals a story of New Delhi’s growing embraces to both Kabul and Tehran.

A secular democratic regime in New Delhi, which has been mounting standoff against the Islamic republic administration immediately after the Pulwama terror attack on a convoy of Indian security forces on 14 February killing over 40 personnel, came into actions against Islamabad garnering supports from the international community.

The suicide bombing, engineered by Maulana Masood Azhar led Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM)- as it had officially accepted the responsibility of Pulwama attack, sent a massive wave of pain & anger among millions of Indians across the country. Emotionally charged nationalists strongly insisted on proper retaliatory actions against JeM terrorists supported by Islamabad.

Public sentiments were fully materialized by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi of nationalist Bhartiya Janata Party-led government in New Delhi on the run-up to next general election in April/May and declared that perpetrators of the attack in Kashmir valley would not  be spared.

Modi’s assertions followed with sudden aerial attacks by Indian air-forces in Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK) and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province (PKP) of the neighboring country killing many JeM terrorists. Since then both the governments in New Delhi and Islamabad made voluminous statements over the development highlighting their respective success in the battlefield.

Presently ill from renal problems and under treatment somewhere in Pakistan, JeM chief Masood Azhar is understood to be a fanatical enemy to India, as he masterminded an attack on its Parliament building in 2001. He remained active in PoK and often sent public threats to Indian nation as a whole and PM Modi in particular.

With its holy mission to transform young men into suicide bombers who would later kill everyone not believing in Islam or even a Muslim  who supports non-Islamic activities so that those aspirant youths can win paradise after sacrificing lives in the name of Allah (God), Masood Azhar put Pakistan and its neighboring foreign localities in persistent turmoil.

“Due to relentless political disturbances in Pakistan, the bilateral relationship of India and Afghanistan often faces hurdles. However these difficulties are short lived and both the friendly nations soon come to the business as usual,” said Abdul Mujeeb Khalvatgar, a senior Afghan radio journalist.

Speaking to this reporter from Kabul recently, Khalvatgar reiterated that both the countries with strong civilizational ties have maintained goodwill relationship that emerges beneficial to both the developing nations. Commenting on the present Indo-Pak standoff, he also asserted that India has the legitimate right to defend its territory and people.

Terming Afghanistan itself a victim of terrorism, Khalvatgar urges all progressive forces on the globe to get united against the menace of terrorism that has emerged as a curse to the human race. Persistent conflicts fuelled by terrorism can ruin a nation and his native country today represents a classic example of disorders, stated the qualified journalist on international relations.

He appreciates the latest initiative to open a trade route between Afghanistan and India through strategic Chabahar port of friendly Iran (bypassing Pakistan) that re-establishes the importance of Kabul as an international business centre once again for which New Delhi signed an agreement with Tehran in 2016.

Nevertheless, Khalvatgar disclosed that the turmoil in Pakistan has severely affected the ongoing peace process between the Taliban and the authority (USA government). The US administration, which completely changed its foreign policy towards the armed militias after 9/11/2001 attacks, has seemingly failed to eliminate the Taliban from all parts of Afghanistan.

However, political observers believe that the Taliban faced huge losses in all these years and the religious armed outfit might not be able to strengthen its clout all over the country like earlier. President Donald Trump is interested to pull back his forces from the Islamic Republic before the US general elections in 2020.

Their ultra-modern forces along with local government militias have already eliminated few dreaded terrorists on Earth namely Osama-bin-Laden, Mullah Omar, Akhtar Mansour etc. Conscious people of the country would prefer to end the engagement of their forces in different countries, if they somehow get convinced of no more terror attacks on inside USA from any foreign soil.

Khalvatgar pointed out that radical Islamists are not interested to talk to the local government led by President Ashraf Ghani, whereas New Delhi prefers it to happen. US President Trump is also worried with Pak-disturbances and urged both Islamabad and New Delhi to defuse the ongoing tension so that the Afghan peace process runs on a smooth track ending 17 years of war with the Taliban rebels.

Meanwhile, India’s billion dollar developmental initiatives in Muslim dominated Afghanistan since 2001 have already generated huge goodwill to the Hindu majority nation. For records, Afghanistan is the second-largest recipient of aid (after Bhutan) from India. Hundreds of community development projects by Indian agencies are in progress there involving education, health, agriculture, rural development etc.

Indian film actors from both Bollywood and Hindi tele-serials continue to be popular among Afghans, Khalvatgar informed adding that large sections of rural women glue to their television sets running the dubbed versions of Indian entertaining serials in local languages.

Comfortable in Persian, Pashto and English languages, the author-journalist also revealed that many Afghan residents even presume India as a land of fairytales where women usually pursue education to hold powerful positions in government and business establishments.

Studied professional journalism in Europe and the USA along with Turkey, Sri Lanka and India, Khalvatgar  also authored Islam and Globalization, Provincial Councils and National Cooperation and Ethics on Social Media. He has been an active member of media law working group, journalists’ ethics codes, access to information act, etc in Afghanistan.

Speaking about the pathetic conditions of education and health sectors in Afghanistan, Khalvatgar stated that many young Afghan now prefer to go to India for pursuing higher and professional educations. Moreover many patients, primarily suffering from hypertension, blood sugar, liver ailment and also cancer opt to leave for Indian hospitals, he stated. Despite numerous threats to media persons where journalists are often killed with impunity, he claimed that Afghanistan still supports a good deal of journalism in compare to its neighboring countries.

Full report at:



China’s Masood Azhar move may strain relations with India

Mar 17, 2019

Shishir Gupta

By single-handedly standing up to the other four permanent members of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) and holding up the latest attempt to designate Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) chief Masood Azhar as a global terrorist, China has virtually put at stake its bilateral relations with India in providing comfort to the beleaguered Imran Khan regime in Pakistan.

Although the Indian foreign ministry said it was “cautiously optimistic” that Azhar would eventually be listed by the UN’s Islamic State and al-Qaeda Sanctions Committee, meaning that China would come around to agreeing with France, Russia, the UK and US, the fact is that the hold will lead to a hardening of positions both in New Delhi and Beijing.

Listing Azhar as a global terrorist was in many ways low-hanging fruit to deepen India-China bilateral ties, but Beijing is clearly siding with its client state, and has given priority to the economic corridor it is building through Pakistan that will lead to the warm waters of the Persian Gulf. It is another matter that Islamabad supported the jihad waged by the Mujahideen against occupying Soviet forces in the 1980s Afghan war because of a perceived threat from Moscow to Karachi port. The latter was confirmed by no less than then Pakistan National Security Advisor Naseer Janjua to his Indian counterpart on December 26, 2017, in Bangkok.

After the Azhar listing hold, it is evident that China will not yield an inch in accommodating India in the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) or give up any of its traditional territorial claims over India. It will choke Indian strategic ambitions by intensifying its economic ties and infrastructure linkages with other South Asian countries. India should also be prepared for China, as an upper riparian state, further harnessing the precious water resources on the Tibetan plateau.

In this emerging scenario, India should work with its close allies like the US for a seat on the UNSC, given the fact that it is the sixth largest and fastest growing economy in the world.

The Azhar hold yet again showed the power of permanent members — a global terrorist with the blood of hundreds on his hands and Pakistan are allowed to go scot-free by an indulgent ally. India should also rebalance its trade ties with China, given that its deficit is creeping upwards of $40 billion. The Narendra Modi government will have to take into account a growing clamour within the ministry of external affairs for strong steps to be taken to curb its trade deficit with China.

With 70% of the Brahmputra river flows originating from India territory, work on Upper Siang dam projects need to be speeded up in anticipation of weak flows from China because of dams built on the great Tsangpo bend in Tibet.

While India has been building up its infrastructure capacities along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) with China, the work needs to be accelerated so that it is close to matching the level across in Tibet.

As the Azhar episode shows the Chinese resolve in taking on the remaining permanent members of the UNSC to favour a client state, India should not expect any relief from Beijing on resolution of the boundary dispute.

Full report at:



India’s to-do list to Pak: Give us Dawood, Syed Salahuddin

Mar 16, 2019

Rezaul H Laskar

Pakistan can demonstrate that it is serious about cracking down on terror by handing over proscribed Indian nationals based on its soil,like Dawood Ibrahim and Syed Salahuddin, as all actions taken so far by Islamabad have been cosmetic, people familiar with the Indian government’s thinking said on Saturday.

At the same time, India is prepared for the long haul on the effort to get Jaish-e-Mohammed chief Masood Azhar listed as a “global terrorist” by the UN’s Islamic State and al-Qaeda Sanctions Committee, despite being disappointed with the hold placed by China on the latest effort by France, the US and Britain to sanction him, the people said on condition of anonymity.

It is still not clear exactly who has been placed in preventive detention by Pakistan in the face of global pressure following the February 14 Pulwama suicide bombing that was claimed by JeM, and Islamabad could show it is serious about reining in terror by handing over Indians wanted for terrorism and major crimes based on its soil, including mob boss Ibrahim and Hizbul Mujahideen chief Salahuddin, they added. Indian officials say Ibrahim, designated a global terrorist by the US and the UN and wanted for the 1993 Mumbai bombings that killed 257 people, lives in Karachi. Salahuddin, also a designated global terrorist, operates from bases in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir and Rawalpindi.

The people further said Pakistan can work with third countries for international verification of terrorist camps on Pakistani soil, whose precise coordinates have been shared by India.

They described all the action taken by Pakistan since it launched a crackdown onMarch 5 as cosmetic, with authorities only changing the signs outside facilities run by groups such as Jamaat-ud-Dawah and Falah-e-Insaniyat Foundation, both fronts of Lashkar-e-Taiba, and appointing so-called administrators.

While expressing disappointment with China’s hold on the latest move to sanction Azhar, the people said this was not a block and India is cautiously confident that the JeM chief will eventually be listed by the UN Security Council. India will be patient because even China is aware that terrorism originates from Pakistan and there are terror groups on Pakistani soil working against Chinese interests, they added.

The support for listing Azhar from all but one of the 15 members of the UN Security Council also reflected Pakistan’s lack of credibility, and India will not make any compromises or cut any deal for the sanctioning of the JeM chief, said a person familiar with the negotiations on this matter. India is hopeful that the listing will eventually go ahead in days or months, and not years, the person added.

During their recent interactions with foreign secretary, Vijay Gokhale, key members of the Donald Trump administration and members of the Senate and House of Representatives had conveyed strong support for India and accepted New Delhi’s contention that it had acted in self-defence and with restraint after the Pulwama attack that killed at least 40 Central Reserve Police Force troopers , the people cited above said. Gokhale was in the US during March 11-13.

At the same time, there was acknowledgement from American interlocutors that Pakistan hadn’t taken adequate steps in the past to dismantle terrorist infrastructure and that it usually resorted to the same pattern on conducting a crackdown and then letting off terrorists when international pressure had eased, the people added.

On February 26, Indian Air Force (IAF)jets bombed a JeM camp in Balakot in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province of Pakistan in what New Delhi described as a non military pre-emptive action. On February 27, after an air skirmish over the Line of Control in which the two countries lost one fighter plane each, Pakistan captured IAF Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman, whom it released on March 1 in the face of pressure from the international community to lower tensions.

Commodore (retired) C Uday Bhaskar, director of the Society for Policy Studies, said the Indian government may need to a rethink its efforts to get Pakistan to crack down on terrorism.

Full report at:



Southeast Asia


Chilled by Christchurch shootings, Muslim Malaysians find Kiwi warmth again

17 March 2019

By Lazareen Thaveethu Moses

KUALA LUMPUR, March 17 — While New Zealand remains on high alert for more terror strikes, a number of Muslim Malaysians living in the land of the long white cloud have been heartened by the show of solidarity and support from Kiwis in the aftermath of the mosque killings.

Shazly Khan, a Malaysian motivational speaker living in Hamilton, a town nearly 1,000km from Christchurch where 49 people were killed and 48 more injured after at least one gunman went on a rampage, believes the New Zealand government is doing its best to ensure the nightmare attacks against Muslims will not happen again.

“The government and the police, in particular, have been outstanding so far. We have all faith and trust in the police and the government of New Zealand and that they will solve this and they will bring the criminal to the book and punish them accordingly,” he told Malay Mail when contacted yesterday.

Shazly, who is also an imam at the Khadija Mosque, Rototuna Islamic Centre in Hamilton, spoke glowingly of New Zealanders who stepped up to offer comfort to the rattled Muslims in his town.

“They came non-stop to our mosque to express their apologies and offer welcoming words, that I have to admit, helped to sooth the situation.”

Shazly said he was terribly shocked and saddened when he first heard news of the shootings in the two Christchurch mosques, and the response by non-Muslims across New Zealand reaffirmed his faith in his fellow men.

“We know for a fact that this is not New Zealand. This is not how we were treated before and we have never been the subject of any discrimination whatsoever,” he said.

He shared with Malay Mail pictures he had taken of a small gathering of Muslims and non-believers yesterday and the bouquets of flowers that decorated the sidewalk of a makeshift memorial in Hamilton to honour the shooting victims.

On his Facebook page, he shared a video of an outdoor candlelight vigil with possibly hundreds of people gathered at a park at night after the attacks amid the strains of Walk in Love, a song by Christian American musician Brady Toops.

Shazly, who has been speaking out against responding in kind to hate speeches, urged Muslims to remember how well they have been treated by the New Zealanders, adding that the massacre was a shock to the locals too.

Fathiyyah Ismail, a 34-year old Malaysian woman based in Auckland, was thankful for the professionalism and commitment displayed by the authorities to rein in the terrorisation of the Muslim minority.

“Personally, I appreciate the level of commitment that has been put in by all authorities in a situation that is a first for New Zealand,” the consultant for the Auckland District Health Board told Malay Mail.

An Australian man identified as Brenton Tarrant has been charged with murder a day after the shooting and will be detained until April 15. The police have also arrested three others for hostilities, though no charges have been arraigned against them at the time of writing.

Fathiyya said she feels safe in her community, but acknowledged that it is still early to say otherwise.

“My circle of friends has been nothing but kind and supportive. I believe this extends to the greater New Zealand in general,” she said.

Another Muslim man living in Nelson, the closest city to Christchurch out of the Malaysians Malay Mail contacted, expressed his heartfelt thanks to the police and local community where he was a minority.

He said locals in Nelson organised a rally in solidarity with Muslims in the town, and that it was attended by many people, including the police.

“The police and community have provided amazing support. They have contacted community leaders and have put on extra patrols,” said the man who asked not to be named, hesitant to be identified after the shootings.

“Our friends have been supportive. We’ve been getting messages asking if we’re okay and messages to stay strong,” he added.

He shared with Malay Mail an email that announced Nelson Mayor Rachel Reese will be gathering outside the Christchurch Cathedral at noon today to pay tribute to the victims of the mosque shootings, their family and all Muslims.

According to the email, women can wear headscarves to show solidarity with the Muslims.

The man who had been looking forward to taking part in a Race Unity Day in town said the event scheduled for later today has been postponed a week to March 24 at the Victoria Square Park in Nelson.

The Malaysian expatriate also noted that at no point did anyone in New Zealand that he knew blame Muslims for the terror attacks, unlike Australian senator Fraser Anning who pinned blame on Muslim immigrants.

“The authorities have acted fairly and have sought to protect the Muslims in New Zealand,” the Malaysian man said.

But Amalina Jaafar, who has been living in New Zealand for a while now and was in Christchurch just 1km from one of the two mosques the day of the attack, said she still feels like she is caught in a bad dream and fears for her immediate future, saying she is “shocked, shattered, heartbroken, sad and fear retaliation”.



Stop this spread of hatred against Muslims and Islam

SM Mohamed Idris

March 16, 2019

Citizens International strongly condemns the barbaric killing of 49 Muslims in two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, by white supremacist terrorists.

We express our deepest condolences to the families of the victims of these ghastly murders and pray that God showers his blessings on their departed souls. We also pray for the early recovery of those wounded in the attack.

Islamophobic political leaders like United States President Donald Trump and Britain’s former foreign secretary Boris Johnson, and the Western media — purveyors of a hate campaign against Muslims and Islam — must be held responsible for this cowardly killing of worshippers.

The hypocritical condemnation by these leaders of the vile act, and their expression of condolences, will not wash away the blood on their hands of these innocent victims.

White supremacists see Trump as their leader and inspiration. The Australian-born murderer published a 74-page dossier hailing Trump as “a symbol of renewed white identity and common purpose”.

Islamophobia is not on the fringes but in the centre of several Western governments. Trump’s national security adviser John Bolton was once the chairman of Gatestone Institute that, according to an NBC report, “promotes misleading and false anti-Muslim news”.

During his chairmanship of the institute, it warned of a looming “jihadist takeover” of Europe leading to a “Great White Death”.

Trump’s administration has pursued an anti-Muslim policy. During his election campaign, Trump appealed to white supremacists by saying: “I think Islam hates us.”

He has banned immigration from Muslim countries and sharply cut the entry of Muslim refugees into the US. White supremacists have an informal international network to carry out an anti-Muslim campaign.

A Guardian investigation last year revealed that the British founder of the fascist English Defence League, Tommy Robinson, an anti-Muslim campaigner, has been receiving financial, political and moral support from a broad array of non-British groups and individuals, including US think-tanks, rightwing Australians and Russian trolls.

Among them are the Middle East Forum, the David Horowitz Freedom Center and the Gatestone Institute, all of them preaching lies and hatred against Muslims and Islam.

Western governments have taken no action against individuals, think- tanks and media that are inciting hatred against Muslims. They consider the incitement to hatred, which could lead to violence against Muslims, as exercising freedom of expression, but criminalise any peaceful boycott against Israel and any criticism of Zionism.

Their failure to take action against these merchants of hatred amounts to encouraging hostility to Islam and Muslims, resulting in violence against them.

With the exception of one or two Muslim governments, the others have not come out condemning those responsible for encouraging white supremacist campaigns against Muslims.

The supine leaders from Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the Emirates, except for verbal condemnation of the crime, have not said anything about the responsibility of the US and Islamophobic European governments for allowing a climate of hatred against Muslims and Islam to flourish in their countries.

We call on the Malaysian government to:

Issue a strong statement against those responsible for the culture of hatred against Muslims and Islam prevailing in the world today which has produced this large-scale murder of people praying in the mosques;

Call for an urgent meeting of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation to discuss the killings and the underlying causes, and to formulate a plan to counter the propagation of hatred against Muslims and Islam; and,

Full report at:



Muslim convert continues to follow Ching Ming tradition

17 Mar 2019

KUCHING: For Norlina Abdullah @ Song Ai Ling, Chinese customs still play an important part in her life after she converted to Islam.

This can be seen during Ching Ming, when the Chinese visit the graves of their relatives to pay their respects.

On Sunday (March 17), Norlina and her children visited the grave of her father Song Toh Chu, who passed away in 2000.

They cleaned the grave, tidied the area around it and paid their respects.

"Every year, I will bring my children to visit my father's grave in keeping with Chinese custom.

"Although I converted to Islam when I married, I'm still a Chinese and this is an important tradition so that we remember our origins," she said.

Full report at:



Philippines hopes pro-ISIS group ‘neutralized’ after de facto leader killed

16 March 2019

The Philippine military believes it may have “neutralized” the remnants of an alliance of pro-ISIS extremists, after the suspected death of the group’s de facto leader during clashes last week.

Forensic tests were being carried out to determine if one of four rebels killed on Thursday was Abu Dar, whom security forces believe has led Dawla Islamiya, an alliance of pro-ISIS fighters, foreign and Filipino, drawn from armed groups in the volatile Mindanao region.

Four soldiers were also killed during the fighting in Lanao del Sur province, which ISIS claimed responsibility for on the mobile messaging service Telegram.

The regional army commander, Colonel Romeo Brawner, told ABS-CBN News that the death of Abu Dar would mean Dawla Islamiya had been “neutralized”.

Marawi City

Dawla Islamiya in 2017 occupied southern Marawi City for five months before its core leaders were reported killed by the military in air strikes and street battles, among them Isnilon Hapilon, ISIS’s anointed “emir” in Southeast Asia. Abu Dar was seen in seized video footage sitting beside Hapilon.

If confirmed, his death would represent rare progress at a time of heightened alert across the predominantly Muslim areas of Mindanao, where a church attack by suspected suicide bombers in January killed 22 people and wounded more than 100, just days after a local referendum on autonomy returned an overwhelming “yes” vote.

Full report at:



South Asia


Bangladesh Muslims condemn New Zealand mosque attacks

March 16th, 2019

They also sought collective efforts to evolve strategies to check the recurrence of such onslaughts anywhere in the world

The Muslim community in Dhaka mourned the deaths of Muslims in a noxious shooting at two mosques in New Zealand, and protested the heinous act against followers of Islam.

They also sought collective efforts to evolve strategies to check the recurrence of such onslaughts anywhere in the world.

At a human chain on Saturday in front of the National Press Club, Maizbhandar Darbar leader, Syed Saifuddin Ahmed, said: “The global powers must develop ways to track down perpetrators of such heinous acts before they can carry out any terrorist attacks.” The human chain was organized under the banner of Anjuman-e-Rahmania Mainia Maizbhandaria, where leaders and activists of International Sufi Unity for Solidarity (SUFIS), Parliament of World Sufis, participate.

Saifuddin also urged every conscious quarter to stand by the victims with empathy.

The human chain was wrapped up with a munajat seeking divine blessings for humanity. Leaders and supporters of the World Sunni Movement, Bangladesh, World Humanity (Insaniyat) Revolution, Bangladesh’ Anjuman-e-Rahmania Mainia Maizbhandaria, and others, attended the program.

A total of 49 people, including two persons of Bangladesh origin, have been killed in Friday’s terror attacks at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand.



Bangladesh didn’t fail to deal with Rohingya issue: Shahriar Alam

16 Mar 2019

Bangladesh has not failed to deal with the Rohingya issue as often said by some critics, State Minister for Foreign Affairs Md Shahriar Alam has said.

“The entire world is with us,” he said while speaking at a dialogue organised by the Diplomatic Correspondents Association, Bangladesh or DCAB in Dhaka on Saturday, marking its 21st anniversary.

Former Foreign Secretary Md Touhid Hossain criticised the government at the event and said the issue would not be solved in 10 to 20 years. “Better make preparations accordingly.”

The state minister, however, said Bangladesh is on the right track and no country will get any scope to criticise it over the issue.

He also maintained that Bangladesh needs to move forward without sticking to single issue as it has many issues to deal with.

The DCAB hosted the dialogue titled “Bangladesh Diplomacy @50: Engaging the World” at the Bangladesh Institute of International and Strategic Studies or BIISS.

Centre for Policy Dialogue or CPD Senior Research Fellow Towfiqul Islam Khan presented a paper on ‘Bangladesh’s Priorities in Economic Diplomacy’ at the event chaired by DCAB President Raheed Ejaz.

BIISS Chairman Munshi Faiz Ahmad and DCAB General Secretary Nurul Islam Hasib also spoke at the dialogue, attended by Foreign Secretary Md Shahidul Haque.

On Bangladesh’s engagement with the world, the state minister said the present government has a massive plan as per the pre-election manifesto of Awami League.

He said they would engage with the world in a bigger way expanding the diplomatic presence of the country.

“We have opened around 17 missions abroad over the last 10 years. Still we have plans to open 10 more in the next five years.”

Alam said over the last few years, they have witnessed the presence of trade delegations with each of the ministers came from the European countries. “It means that Bangladesh is ready for expanding business.”

Earlier, the state minister along with the present and founding members of DCAB cut a cake to open the anniversary celebration and launched the new DCAB website:

DCAB honoured its founding members for their contribution in establishing this association on March 16 in 1998. Editor-in-Chief Alamgir Hossain, Kaler Kantho Executive Editor Mostofa Kamal, Bhorer Kagoj Editor Shyamal Dutta, senior journalists - Anis Alamgir and Aman Ud Dowla – were present, among the founders and shared their memories. The state minister handed over crests to them.

Full report at:



Bangladeshi makes world’s largest tasbih for Erdogan

Md. Kamruzzaman  


It takes two-and-a-half hours by train to reach the east-central district of Brahmanbaria, more than 62 miles (100 kilometers) from Dhaka.

The journey is not at all boring if the weather is nice. You can enjoy a short view of natural Bangladesh including green fields and river on the route.

The rest way to reach the remote village of Jalsukla takes 40 minutes by a three-wheeler easy-bike with the sights of rural locals working on both sides of the rough roads.

At his home, Abdullah al-Haider claims to be the maker of world’s largest tasbih, or a chain of beads to remember Allah.

He made it for Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

The die-hard fan of Erdogan, told Anadolu Agency he worked hard for two months to make the tasbih.

“I worked five to 10 hours per day. Whenever, I thought about Erdogan I sat to knit the Tasbih,” Haider said. It weighs 149 pounds (67.5 kilograms) while its length is 4,500 feet (1.3 kilometers).

“I have used a total 167,500 beads of four colors -- green, black, golden and white -- and maintained a counting system after every thousand,” Haider said.

The cost to buy the beads was 150,000 Bangladeshi taka ($1,787), Haider said, adding if he gets the opportunity to give the tasbih to Erdogan, he would add more to beautify it.

The toilsome job is not a childish practice for Haider. It is his way of expressing love to Erdogan’s humanitarian works worldwide and his unequivocal voice for the rights of oppressed people, especially Muslims.

“I love Erdogan as he loves people and hates tyranny and working for the oppressed people in Palestine, Kashmir, Myanmar, Syria and Yemen,” an emotional Haider said. “Turkey with the leadership of Erdogan has been wholeheartedly working for the persecuted Rohingya Muslims who fled a brutal crackdown in Maynmar.”

But why a tasbih for Erdogan? Haider said Erdogan is a pious man and tasbih reminds us of Allah. “I have discovered Erdogan after hearing his recitation from the Holy Quran and declaring sweet ‘Azaan,’” he said of the Muslim call to prayer.

Referring to Erdogan’s initiative of making the biggest mosque in Asia and Europe, Haider said that his respect to Erdogan increased day by day.

Bangladesh is a country with huge number of Erdogan’s fans. Youths especially, frequently represent Erdogan as a great leader in social media posts.

Many young Bangladeshis use Erdogan’s picture in covering their social media page.

Anadolu Agency noticed people gathering in Haider’s house and applauding him for making the tasbih for Erdogan.

“I like this act as it will also encourage other world leaders to act properly in favor of justice and humanity,” 80-year-old Muslim Uddin told Anadolu Agency.

Young resident Ariful Islam said he wants to be like Erdogan who loves Islam and peace and works for human rights.

“If Erdogan accepts this tasbih, it will be a great success for us to prove our love for good,” Rassel Karim, Haider’s friend, told Anadolu Agency.

Full report at:



Afghan armed forces thwart Taliban plot to target security outposts in Faryab

16 Mar 2019

The Afghan armed forces have thwarted a plot by Taliban militants to launch coordinated attack against security outposts in northern Faryab province.

The 209th Shaheen Corps of the Afghan Military in the North in a statement said a clash broke out between Taliban militants and armed forces in Arklik area of Qaisar district at around 7:30 pm local time on Friday, leaving at least 4 militants dead and 3 others wounded.

The statement further added that the clash broke out while Taliban militants were busy planning a coordinated attack on security outposts.

According to 209th Shaheen Corps, the security personnel and local residents did not suffer casualties during the clashes.

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

Full report at:



Afghan Special Forces storm Taliban Red Unit commander’s hideout in Uruzgan

16 Mar 2019

The Special Forces of Afghan Intelligence or National Directorate of Security (NDS) stormed a hideout of a commander of the Red Unit of Taliban in Uruzgan killing at least 22 militants and confiscating large amount of weapons, munitions, and explosives.

According to a statement released by NDS, the raid was conducted in the vicinity of Tarinkot city, the provincial capital of Uruzgan province.

The statement further added that the hideout belonged to a commander of the Red Unit of Taliban identified as Mullah Aminullah.

The National Directorate of Security also added that 22 militants were killed during the raid and another suspect identified as Abdul Hadi son of Dost Mohammad was arrested.

In addition to this, the NDS Special Forces confiscated 50 kilograms of explosives, a Dshk heavy machine gun, a PKM machine gun, 4 improvised explosive devices, 6 hand grenades, a radio set, 2 military uniforms, a Fielder type vehicle, a motorcycle, and hundreds of rounds of munitions.

Full report at:



Kabul summons Pak envoy over Imran Khan’s remarks regarding future Afghan government

16 Mar 2019

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Afghanistan on Saturday summoned the counselor of Pakistan’s Embassy in Kabul over Prime Minister Imran Khan’s remarks regarding the future setup of the Afghan government.

According to a statement released by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the counselor of the Embassy of Pakistan was summoned to clarify regarding the recent remarks of Prime Minister Imran Khan regarding the formation of the new Afghan government in the near future.

The statement further added that the Afghan government communicated its strongest protest regarding the remarks of PM Khan and called it a clear intervention in the internal affairs of Afghanistan.

Prime Minister Imran Khan had earlier sid that peace in Afghanistan is around the corner as he expressed hopes that the negotiations between the U.S. and Taliban representatives would result into a peace agreement in coming days.

Khan made the remarks during a gathering in Bajaur tribal district, according to a report by VOA News.

“Negotiations have been initiated with the Taliban. God willing, our brothers in Afghanistan would live together in peace in coming days,” Khan said.

Without elaborating further, Khan asserted the peace process would result in stability, trade and economic prosperity for the region, and particularly for Afghanistan to enable the war-shattered country stand on its own feet.

Full report at:



Guerrilla warfare commander among 8 dead, wounded in Helmand, Kandahar explosions

17 Mar 2019

At least eight people including a Guerrilla warfare commander were killed or wounded in two separate explosions in southern Kandahar and Helmand provinces.

Police Chief of Kandahar Gen. Tadeen Khan said at least four people including a police commander lost their lives in an explosion in Arghab district.

Gen. Tadeen Khan further added that the explosion took place late on Saturday night and local tribal elder was also among those killed.

In the meantime, the Helmand governor’s office in a statement said a Guerrilla wafare commander Qudratullah Mujahid lost his life in an explosion on Saturday evening.

The statement further added that commander Mujahid had suppressed the anti-government armed elements in various parts of Helmand with his high morale.

Full report at:



Afghan troops go missing after fleeing battle with Taliban

March 17, 2019

KABUL: Around 100 Afghan soldiers fled their posts and tried to cross into neighboring Turkmenistan during a weeklong battle with the Taliban, officials said Sunday, in the latest setback for the country’s battered security forces.

Mohammad Naser Nazari, a provincial council member in the western Badghis province, said the soldiers were not allowed to cross the border and their fate remains unknown. The Taliban have posted pictures of captured soldiers on social media.

Jamshid Shahabi, the provincial governor’s spokesman, said 16 soldiers have been killed and 20 wounded during the ongoing battle in the Bala Murghab district, in which the military carried out airstrikes and dispatched reinforcements. He said a number of soldiers tried to flee, without providing an exact figure.

Shahabi said more than 40 insurgents were killed in the fighting. He said the provincial police chief and army commander are in the district and instructing the forces to root out insurgents and rescue soldiers. Officials said the fighting had largely subsided by Sunday, with sporadic clashes breaking out in remote areas.

Nazari provided a higher toll, saying 50 soldiers were killed and around 100 others were missing. He said hundreds of local residents have gathered in front of the governor’s office to express their concerns about security in the province.

He said Bala Murghab is almost completely controlled by the Taliban, with Afghan forces confined to the district headquarters.

The Taliban effectively control half the country and carry out daily attacks on Afghan security forces, causing staggering casualties. The attacks have continued even as the Taliban have been holding direct negotiations with the United States aimed at ending the 17-year war.

In a separate development on Sunday, a Daesh affiliate claimed the killing of a local TV journalist in the eastern Khost province. The group did not say why it targeted Sultan Mahmoud Khirkhowa, a reporter with the local Zhman TV and radio, who was killed Friday when two men on a motorcycle opened fire on his vehicle. Another Afghan reporter was killed in a targeted bombing last week in the southern Helmand province.

Full report at:





Death toll of Pakistanis in New Zealand terror attacks rises to 9

March 17, 2019

Three more Pakistanis — a son and his parents — were confirmed to have died in the March 15 New Zealand terrorist attacks on two mosques, Foreign Office Spokesperson Dr Mohammad Faisal said on Sunday, taking the total death toll of Pakistanis in the incident up to nine.

In a post shared on Twitter, Dr Faisal said the deaths of Zeeshan Raza, his father Ghulam Hussain and mother Karam Bibi had been confirmed and that the FO was in touch with their family.

Taking to Twitter, Prime Minister Imran Khan on Sunday said: "We stand ready to extend all our support to the families of Pakistani victims of the terrorist attack in Christchurch."

He added that the country was proud of Naeem Rashid, one of the victims, who the premier said would be recognised for his courage with a national award.

"Pakistan is proud of Mian Naeem Rashid who was martyred trying to tackle the White Supremacist terrorist and his courage will be recognised with a national award," said Prime Minister Khan.

Rashid was identified by a relative from the video live-streamed by the attacker. It appeared from the video that he had attempted to stop the assailant as he gunned victims down in the mosque.

Earlier on Saturday, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in a press release, had confirmed the deaths of six victims as follows:

Sohail Shahid

Syed Jahandad Ali (Lahore)

Syed Areeb Ahmed (Karachi)

Mahboob Haroon (Islamabad)

Naeem Rashid (Abbotabad)

Talha Naeem (Abbotabad)

They had noted that three Pakistanis were missing.

Dr Faisal, in a Twitter post, had said that Rashid and his son would be buried in Christchurch for which arrangements had been made with the assistance of Muslim and Pakistani associations in the city.

He said that the Pakistani Mission in the city was working with the families of the other four victims, confirmed at the time, for the transportation of their bodies back to Pakistan.

Earlier in the day, the FO spokesperson had released a list of Pakistanis that were considered 'missing'.

Crisis management cell, visa facilitation

A Crisis Management Cell was established at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Islamabad for the timely dissemination of information and assistance, a press release issued by Dr Faisal on Saturday had stated.

The 24/7 cell was to address the developing situation, provide information and updates on the well-being of Pakistani citizens living in New Zealand, the spokesperson had added.

Moreover, Pakistan’s High Commissioner and Deputy High Commissioner in New Zealand would also be available for guidance, round the clock, the press release said.

Furthermore, a circular was released by the foreign ministry notifying details regarding visa facilitation for the immediate family members of the Pakistani victims.

According to the notification, family members can log in here to apply for a visit visa. Once applications are submitted, the applicants are advised to send their application numbers, along with scanned copies of their passports to Mr Moin Fudda, Honorary Consul General of New Zealand for Pakistan at:


Whatsapp: +923428200200

In the event of any difficulties, for example in filling out financial details, the applicants should inform by letter that they are the relatives of the victims of the Christchurch attack, the circular further advises.

The Christchurch attack

A 28-year-old Australian-born man has been charged with murder. The prime suspect, Brenton Harrison Tarrant, who was arrested shortly after the Friday shootings, was indicted by a district court for murder on Saturday. Two other men remain in custody, although their link to the attack is unknown.

The Australian man, Tarrant, live-streamed footage of himself going room-to-room, victim to victim, shooting the wounded from close range as they struggled to crawl away. He also published a racist 'manifesto' on social media before the attack, featuring conspiracy theories about Europeans being "displaced" by immigrants and details of two years of preparation and radicalisation leading up to the shootings.

His two targets were the Masjid al Noor mosque, where 41 people died, and a second, smaller mosque in the suburb of Linwood, where seven more died. The remaining victim succumbed in hospital.

The survivors included 17 members of Bangladesh's cricket team, whose game against New Zealand on Saturday has been cancelled, and a Palestinian man who fled for his life after seeing someone being shot in the head.

New Zealand police described the footage shot by the gunman as “extremely distressing” and warned web users that they could be liable for up to 10 years in jail for sharing such “objectionable content”.

In addition to the footage, a number of pictures were posted to a social media account showing a semi-automatic weapon covered in the names of historical figures, many of whom were involved in the killing of Muslims.

The attack has shocked New Zealanders, who are used to seeing around 50 murders a year in the entire country of 4.8 million and pride themselves on living in a secure and welcoming place.

Police, who initially imposed a city-wide lockdown, sent armed officers to a number of scenes and the threat level in the nation was raised from “low” to “high”.

In Auckland, 1,000 kilometres away, two unattended bags left near a railway station were detonated by military explosives experts.

Police also attended a property in Dunedin which they believe is linked to the attack and evacuated nearby residents. The southeastern city was named in the suspect's manifesto as the original target for his attack.

Police warned Muslims all over the country not to visit mosques “anywhere in New Zealand” in the wake of the Christchurch attacks.

Christchurch city council offered a helpline for parents looking for kids attending a mass climate change rally near the shooting.



PM’s principal secretary part of board considering promotions, including his own

Ikram Junaidi

March 17, 2019

ISLAMABAD: The High Powered Selection Board (HPSB) will meet next week to consider promotion of bureaucrats to grade 22 with one of the board members having a say in his own elevation case.

Headed by Prime Minister Imran Khan, the board comprises his principal secretary Azam Khan who himself is a grade 21 officer and happens to be on the list of those due to be considered for promotion.

This will be the second such occasion in the county’s bureaucratic history after Fawad Hasan Fawad, principal secretary to former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, that someone is part of the board who will consider his own promotion.

According to Cabinet Secretariat/Establishment Division documents, available with Dawn, the HPSB was scheduled to meet in March and September this year.

A bureaucrat, who requested not to be quoted, said the selection board was chaired by the prime minister and had three permanent members – the principal secretary to the prime minister and the cabinet and establishment secretaries.

“The fourth member is co-opted from the group of which promotion cases are discussed. For example, the health secretary will be the fourth member if cases from his ministry are to be discussed. However, the HPSB chairman can nominate anyone as a member,” he said.

“According to the general practice, the senior-most bureaucrat in Basic Pay Scale (BPS) 22 is appointed as the personal secretary to the prime minister. In the past, Saeed Mehdi and Dr Usman Ali G. Isani, BPS 22 officers, served as principal secretaries. However, Mr Sharif appointed Fawad Hasan Fawad as the principal secretary, ignoring the fact that he was in BPS 21.

Mr Fawad was a member of HPSB when his own promotion was discussed. He left the meeting room when his case was taken up. Now once again a similar situation has arisen,” he said.

A retired bureaucrat, requesting not to be quoted, said it was not appropriate for a person to be a member of the board where his own promotion has to be discussed.

However, a sitting bureaucrat said there was nothing wrong in it.

“If a person becomes a member by default, they should not refuse to become part of the board. However, members should ensure that they would not violate merit,” he said.

When contacted, Supreme Court lawyer Riasat Ali Azad told Dawn that it was unethical and illegal.

“Whenever a reference is filed against a judge in the Supreme Judicial Council, he does not become part of the bench.Moreover, even if someone raises an objection over the judge’s impartiality, the judge quits the bench,” he said.

“The bureaucrat may go outside the meeting room at the time of consideration of his case but the other members will not forget that their colleague was sitting beside them and has just left. Such a bureaucrat should not be part of the committee,” he maintained.

Despite repeated attempts, Azam Khan could not be contacted.

Adviser to Prime Minister on Establishment Mohammad Shahzad Arbab confirmed to Dawn that Mr Khan’s case was going to be considered at the upcoming High Powered Selection Board meeting.

Full report at:



PM announces national award for NZ mosque massacre hero Naeem Rashid

March 17, 2019

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan on Sunday announced that New Zealand mosque massacre hero Mian Naeem Rashid will be honoured with a national award for his bravery.

Naeem Rashid and his son Talha Naeem tried to intercept the shooter, but they were shot dead in their attempt. Naeem and Talha, who hailed from Abbottabad, were injured as they attempted to overpower the attacker and later succumbed to their injuries.

Making the announcement, the premier wrote on Twitter: “We stand ready to extend all our support to the families of Pakistani victims of the terrorist attack in Christchurch. Pakistan is proud of Mian Naeem Rashid who was martyred trying to tackle the White Supremacist terrorist & his courage will be recognized with a national award.”

Imran Khan


We stand ready to extend all our support to the families of Pakistani victims of the terrorist attack in Christchurch. Pakistan is proud of Mian Naeem Rashid who was martyred trying to tackle the White Supremacist terrorist & his courage will be recognized with a national award.


10:29 - 17 Mar 2019

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Full report at:



Auqaf Dept takes control of JuD seminary in Peshawar

March 17, 2019

PESHAWAR: The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Department of Auqaf and Religious Affairs has taken control of a seminary of Jamaatud Dawa (JuD) in Saddar Peshawar.

The department took control of Jamia Masjid and Taleemul Quran madrassa in Peshawar Cantt and displayed a board whereon it is inscribed ‘under the management and regulation of the Department of Auqaf and Religious Affairs’.

Sources said that after taking control of the madrassa and mosques and putting signboards of the Auqaf department outside, the next step would be appointments of administrators and prayer leaders to replace the former ones to run their affairs.

Although the JuD has not yet issued any statement, the Wafaqul Madaris al Arabia (WMAA), a board of Deobandi madrassas, has shown its concern over the takeovers and held an internal meeting to discuss the issue.

Earlier, Minister of State for Interior Shehryar Afridi had said that the operation against proscribed organisations under the National Action Plan (NAP) will continue till achievement of all objectives. The minister tweeted, “Operation against proscribed organisations as per NAP 2014 shall continue till achievement of objectives. Efforts to accelerate progress on complete NAP are being pursued.”

Before the takeovers were started, the federal government took as many as 44 members affiliated with proscribed organisations, including Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) chief Masood Azhar’s brother, Mufti Abdul Rauf, and son, Hammad Azhar, into “preventive detention” under NAP.

Moreover, the monitoring of the persons included in the ‘Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA) Schedule-4 listt’ has been further tightened. Bank accounts of over 4000 persons have been sealed.  FIA had earlier arrested a key accused involved in an illegal transaction of Rs 9 billion. Dozens of people allegedly involved in illegal transactions have been arrested in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

Full report at:



IHC seeks response from Religious Affairs Ministry on sale of alcohol

March 17, 2019

ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court (IHC) has sought an explanation from the Ministry of Religious Affairs regarding the sale of alcohol in the country.

According to details, a single member bench of the high court comprising Justice Mohsin Akhtar Kayani was presiding over a case seeking a ban on the sale of alcohol.

The Pakistan United Christian Movement and the Centre for Rule of Law had filed an application in the court arguing that consumption of alcohol was prohibited in almost every religion, therefore, the practice of selling liquor should be banned countrywide.

The counsel of the petitioners presented a list of 340 license holders who were selling liquor in the country. The judge asked clerics from all religions to assist the court in the case while directing the religious affairs ministry to file a response on the matter.

The hearing was then adjourned for an indefinite period.

Earlier, the National Assembly Standing Committee on Law and Justice had rejected the constitutional amendment bill proposed by the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s (PTI) Dr Ramesh Kumar seeking a complete ban on consumption of alcohol in Pakistan.

According to reports, the committee had dubbed the bill ‘a publicity stunt’ and ‘a mischievous act’.

Dr Ramesh had requested parliament to amend Article 37 of the Constitution which allows the consumption of alcohol for minorities in the country.

Full report at:



Bombing on train kills 3 in southwest Pakistan

March 17, 2019

QUETTA, Pakistan: Police in Pakistan say a bomb explosion aboard a moving train has killed at least three passengers and wounded seven others in the country’s volatile southwest.

Officer Abdullah Jamali says the bomb went off in one of the cars of a Quetta-bound train early Sunday, damaging five cars. He says two men and a woman were killed, and that women and children were among the wounded.

No one claimed responsibility, but ethnic Baluch separatists have attacked trains in the past.

Full report at:



Pakistan’s crackdown on militants fails to convince skeptics

March 17, 2019

ISLAMABAD: At a mosque on a quiet Islamabad street, any reference to the UN-listed terror group which runs it has been removed as Pakistan — once again — comes under pressure to demonstrate its sincerity about eliminating militancy.

The first wave of militant detentions was announced by Islamabad on March 5, as tensions were still cooling between India and Pakistan after their latest confrontation over the disputed Kashmir region.

New Delhi has long accused Islamabad of harboring militant groups, which it says are used by Pakistan intelligence agencies to attack India.

The February 14 suicide blast in Indian-administered Kashmir — claimed by Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed — is the latest example, and the attack which ignited the recent crisis between the nuclear-armed neighbors.

Since March 5, Pakistani authorities have arrested hundreds of suspected Islamist militants and shuttered more than 700 madrassas, mosques, and clinics linked to banned groups.

Mosques like the Al-Quba mosque visited by AFP in Islamabad — which is run by Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD), seen by the UN as a charity front for an anti-India militant group — have had all signs announcing their links to such organizations removed.

Instead, a green sign clinging to a post proclaims the new management of the premises by the “Government of Pakistan.”

“This government will not allow Pakistan’s land to be used for any kind of outside terrorism,” vowed Prime Minister Imran Khan earlier this month.

But the crackdown is reminiscent of previous efforts, and Pakistan has yet to convince the international community that their latest thrust is sincere.

Cracks have already begun to emerge after Pakistan’s longtime ally China this week blocked measures by the UN Security Council to blacklist JeM leader Masood Azhar.

It was the fourth time China has blocked such attempts, reinforcing suspicions that it was acting on Pakistan’s behest. If so, observers said, the move undermined the sincerity of the crackdown.

Had Azhar been blacklisted, Pakistan would have been morally compelled to halt his activities, a Western diplomat said.

“Is Pakistan just trying to fool us?” the diplomat asked. “I would say yes.”

New Delhi also remained skeptical.

“The widespread presence of terrorist camps in Pakistan is public knowledge within and outside Pakistan,” said Indian foreign ministry spokesman Raveesh Kumar last week.

The crackdown has largely targeted JeM along with JuD, which is linked to Lashkar-e-Taiba, the group accused by India and Washington of masterminding the terrorist attacks in Mumbai in 2008.

Shuttering groups like JuD — which provides widespread and vital services like health care to poor communities in a developing country where government-run social services are sorely lacking — risks a potential backlash.

“We were ordered to close the health centers and give our ambulances to the authorities,” Akbar Khan, a JuD official based in the northwestern city of Peshawar, said.

“Our leaders asked us to accept everything and to keep a low profile,” he added.

A source close to JeM said the ongoing operation was unprecedented in its scale.

“Almost the entire leadership of JeM has been detained, all the clerics and head clerics have been replaced and administrative control of all our mosques have also been taken over,” said the source.

“We have never seen such harsh steps in past.”

However, the operation mirrors similar crackdowns on militants, such as after attacks on the Indian parliament in 2001 and in Mumbai in 2008.

Then, extremists were also detained — only for many to be released later, and the groups allowed to continue their activities, both militant and charitable.

Pakistan has also not yet demonstrated its willingness to go any further than detentions and closures.

“Closing major infrastructures is a very important step, but it doesn’t show that the whole network has been dismantled,” said analyst Huma Yusuf, a fellow with the Washington-based Wilson Center.

“There are still thousands of militants in the country. What do you do with them? A peace and reconciliation process? A deradicalization plan? Anything? Right now, there is nothing.”

The crisis also comes as Pakistan is facing possible sanctions from the Financial Action Task Force — an anti-money laundering monitor based in Paris — for failing to rein in terror financing.

The organization will soon decide whether to add Pakistan to a blacklist that would trigger automatic sanctions, further weakening Pakistan’s already faltering economy.

Analysts fear even those headwinds may not be enough to convince the Pakistani intelligence agencies to cut their alleged ties with militants.

Full report at:



Arab World


Iraqi Expert: US Choppers Relocating ISIL Terrorists to Iraq from Syria

Mar 16, 2019

"The military reinforcement along the borders with Syria is futile because the ISIL terrorists in a blatant show are surrendering themselves to the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in Eastern Syria and they are being relocated to Iraq on Chinook and Apache helicopters," the Arabic-language al-Maloumeh News website quoted Kazzem al-Haj as saying on Friday.

He pointed to the US plan to continue its military presence in Iraq with the help of the ISIL terrorists and the Syria Democratic Forces, and said that it is astonishing that the ISIL terrorists only surrender themselves to the SDF and not to any other force.

Al-Haj, meantime, underlined that the US-controlled military bases are only safe havens for the ISIL terrorists in Iraq and Syria, and warned that the presence of the ISIL terrorists in Iraq is like a time bomb that the US will be able to explode at anytime and anywhere inside Iraq.

In relevant remarks on Tuesday, an Iraqi security expert warned that the US plans to help several thousands more ISIL terrorists move from Syria to Iraq.

"Washington plans to help 5,000 more ISIL terrorists get out of Syria and reach Iraq," Sabah al-Akili told al-Maloumeh news website.

The Iraqi security expert described the US move as an attempt to create insecurity inside Iraq as the Iraqi parliament is determined to expel ISIL terrorists from Iraq.

"The US intends to gather up the ISIL terrorists in Iraq to release them later exactly as it did before," al-Akili said.

He pointed to the move by the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) to hand over the ISIL militants to Iraq with the US green light, and said that Iraq had agreed to receive the militants because they were Iraqi nationals, but French terrorists were also among them and this shows that the US plans start of a new round of chaos in Iraq.

In a relevant development in late February, the Syrian sources said that the US Army has transferred senior ISIL commanders to safe places in lieu of receiving over 50 tons of gold treasure from the terrorists.

According to the initial information obtained in Deir Ezzur, the US Army troops stationed in Al-Jazeera region of Eastern Euphrates agreed with the ISIL commanders to relocate them to safe places after receiving tens of tons of gold ingot that the terrorists had stolen from different parts of Syria and Iraq, the state-run SANA news agency reported.

The local sources, meantime, reported that the US Army took control of ISIL's 50 tons of gold treasure in Baqouz region in Southeastern Deir Ezzur after it had reached an agreement with the terrorists.

They pointed to the recent intensified movements by the US choppers concurrent with flights over several ISIL-controlled regions in Eastern Euphrates, and said that the US has conducted important heliborne operations in key areas where the ISIL commanders' hideouts are located and where the gold treasure was hidden.

In a relevant development earlier in February, a source close to Kurdish forces said that the US Army was taking ISIL's gold treasure that is estimated to weigh around 50 tons from Eastern Syria to America.

The Kurdish-language Bas News quoted a Kurdish source as saying that the Americans have transferred tens of tons of the gold ingots they have seized from the ISIL terrorists in Baghouz region in Southeastern Deir Ezzur to their own country and only kept a small portion of the treasure to be given to the Kurdish fighters.

The source who spoke on the condition of anonymity reiterated that about 50 tons of ISIL's gold has been sent to the US from the US military base in Kobani in Northeastern Aleppo.

The report comes as the US has been using the airport in Southern Kobani for transferring consignments and military equipment in recent years.

In a relevant development earlier, the US Army troops took out a sum of 40 tons of gold ingots belonging to the ISIL in heliborne operations after agreeing with the terrorist group and while Washington is preparing to announce the end of ISIL in Eastern Euphrates.

"The US troops in concordance with the ISIL terrorist group relocated big boxes packed with ISIL's gold treasure on several helicopters from al-Dashisheh region in Southern Hasaka," the SANA news agency quoted  local sources in Eastern Deir Ezzur said.

The sources pointed to boxes containing 40 tons of gold ingots that the ISIL had hidden in the Eastern part of al-Shadadi city, and said that the ISIL had stolen the treasure of gold from the Iraqi city of Mosul and different parts of Syria.

The US troops reportedly took out a group of ISIL terrorist commanders from Eastern Syria in two heliborne operations in Hajin region of Eastern Deir Ezzur and al-Dashisheh in Southern Hasaka and they were directed to the place where the gold treasure was hidden.

A prominent Syrian military expert, meantime, revealed that Washington plans to transfer the remnants of the ISIL terrorists from Eastern Euphrates to other regions through Turkey and Iraq.

The Arabic-language website of Sputnik quoted Brigadier General Mohammad Issa as saying that less than 600 ISIL militants are stationed in a 4-km/sq region in Eastern Euphrates who will be soon evacuated from the region to foreign territories.

He added that the operations to transfer these militants will be conducted similar to the operations earlier carried out to evacuate the ISIL terrorists from Raqqa, saying that the US forces will transfer them via Iraq or Turkey to some other Arab states for future operations.

Issa questioned the US forces' claims of fighting against the terrorist groups along with the SDF, stressing that the Syrian army will soon move to retake control over this region.

Media reports said last Sunday that the US army had agreed with the ISIL on the latter's exit from areas under Washington's control in Eastern Euphrates.

The US-led coalition troops and the SDF had reached an agreement with the ISIL terrorists on the militants' retreat from areas under the control of the US and its allied forces, the Arabic-language al-Mayadeen TV news channel reported.

It pointed to the preparations by the ISIL to move its terrorists out of Eastern Euphrates, and said that the ISIL terrorists might be transferred to al-Anbar desert of Badiya al-Tanf in Western Iraq.

The report comes as the SDF claimed that it had started the final battle for uprooting the remaining elements of the ISIL from Eastern Euphrates.

Also the Arabic-language service of RT quoted media activists as saying on Saturday that the US-led coalition forces have carried out heliborne operations in the Eastern Badiyeh of Deir Ezzur.

It added that two US Apache helicopters have landed in Falitah region of Eastern Badiyeh of Deir Ezzur, taking away 7 big boxes whose contents were not known.



Syria: 120 Refugee Children Die Due to Unfavourable Conditions of Hasaka Camp Run by SDF

Mar 16, 2019

"At least 117 children under the age of 12 have lost their lives due to the lack of facilities and hygiene in al-Hawl Camp," battlefield sources said.

The Syrian Observatory of Human Rights (SOHR), meantime, reported that 60 percent of the children killed in al-Hawl Camp have lost their lives over the past 19 days.

It noted that there are 63,500 refugees sheltered in al-Hawl Camp.

This comes as a new wave of popular protests has intensified over the lack of facilities in the camp.

In a relevant development earlier this month, the media activists reported that tens of refugees had died of shortages in a camp controlled by the SDF in Hasaka province.

Media activists reported that only in one day, 7 children and 2 women had died due to lack of medical and treatment possibilities in al-Hawl refugee camp in Hasaka.

They added that nearly 14,000 families, consisting of 47,000 people, are living in the camp under an acute shortage of food, drugs and hygiene aids, warning that the children are in critical conditions.

The World Health Organization (WHO) announced in early March that 73 Syrian refugees have died in al-Hawl camp in the past few months, adding that two third of them are children.

At least 29 children and newborns are reported to have died over the past eight weeks, mainly from hypothermia, while travelling to the camp or shortly after arrival, the WHO said in a statement early February.

It said about 23,000 people, mainly women and children fleeing hostilities in rural areas of neighboring Deir Ezzur, had reached the camp over that period.

Displaced Syrian people sheltering in al-Hawl camp earlier staged massive rallies over the death of tens of children.

Field sources from Hasaka province reported that the rallies were held to protest at SDF's incapability to supply the needs of the displaced community sheltered in the camp.

Full report at:



SDF Frees ISIL's Notorious Commander From Raqqa Jail

Mar 16, 2019

The SDF has released at least 307 ISIL terrorists from its prisons in Raqqa, Hasaka, Ain Issa and other areas in Eastern Euphrates, media activists said.

The activists, meantime, confirmed that a senior ISIL commander nom du guerre Hais al-Salman has been among the freed ISIL terrorists.

They noted that Hais has formerly been an ISIL police chief in the town of Khasham in Eastern Deir Ezzur, and said, "Hais has played an important role in the massacre of civilians and seizure of their properties."

In a relevant development earlier this month, media reports said that around 300 ISIL terrorists had been released from the prisons of the Syrian Democratic Forces in areas under SDF's control after the US-led coalition and the Kurdish forces reached an agreement with the militants on exit of the latter from there.

The London-based Syrian Observatory of Human Rights (SOHR) reported that the SDF and Asayesh security forces have released 283 ISIL terrorists from SDF prisons in the city of Hasaka and the town of Ain Issa in Raqqa province.

The SOHR claimed that the jailed ISIL terrorists have been released after mediations by some tribesmen.

But field sources reported that a wave of anger has started in Eastern Euphrates over the freedom of ISIL terrorists.

The Arabic-language al-Watan newspaper also reported that the US-led coalition and SDF fighters have reached an agreement with the ISIL on exit of the terrorists from the region under their occupation in Eastern Syria.

In a relevant development late last month, pro-militant media said that tens of ISIL terrorists were transferred to the US base in Deir Ezzur and the American forces have evacuated family members of ISIL ringleader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and other senior commanders from the Eastern parts of the province.

The SOHR reported that over 700 people, including 40 ISIL militants, a large number of them from Turkistani and Asian origins, left Eastern Deir Ezzur on 15 trucks belonging to the SDF.

It added that the ISIL members have been transferred to the US-led coalition's base in Deir Ezzur, noting that 51,750 people with different nationalities have been evacuated from the region so far.

Full report at:



ISIS clings on in face of Kurdish-led assault in Syria

16 March 2019

US-backed forces battled ISIS fighters overnight as the extremists clung onto their crumbling bastion in eastern Syria on Saturday.

“Clashes broke out again last night and have continued since,” said Adnane Afrine, spokesman for the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).

“There have so far been no surrenders (today) and there’s no sign they are giving up,” he told AFP.

At an SDF post inside Baghouz village, the last ISIS redoubt, AFP journalists heard sporadic rounds of mortar fire and US-led coalition planes overhead.

ISIS launched three suicide attacks on Friday outside Baghouz, killing six people among those fleeing the crumbling extremist bastion near the Iraqi border.

They were the latest casualties in Syria’s devastating civil war as it entered its ninth year with 370,000 dead.

All that remains of a once-sprawling proto-state that the ISIS extremists declared in 2014 is a battered riverside camp in Baghouz.

The SDF and coalition warplanes have rained fire on the enclave since last Sunday, blitzing more than 4,000 ISIS fighters and family members into surrender.

Their on-off assault has been mostly fought at night, suspending major operations dayside to allow more surrenders, especially of civilians.

Full report at:



Iraq opens first ISIS mass grave in Yazidi region

16 March 2019

Iraqi authorities on Friday opened a first mass grave containing victims of ISIS in the Yazidi stronghold of Sinjar, where extremists brutally targeted the minority.

Nobel Peace Prize winner Nadia Murad, a Yazidi who escaped ISIS and became an outspoken advocate for her community, attended the ceremony in her home village of Kojo to mark the start of exhumations.

The United Nations, which is assisting with the forensic work, says the first opening of a mass grave in the region will help to shed light on the fate of those inhabitants killed by ISIS.

Hundreds of men and women from the village are believed to have been executed by the extremists when they took over the area in 2014.

The Yazidi people were targeted by ISIS who swept across northern Iraq in 2014 and seized their bastion of Sinjar near the border with Syria.

ISIS fighters slaughtered thousands of Yazidi men and boys, then abducted women and girls to be abused as sex slaves.

The Kurdish-speaking Yazidis follow an ancient religion rooted in Zoroastrianism, but ISIS considers them to be “apostates.”

The United Nations has said ISIS’ actions could amount to genocide and is investigating the extremist group’s atrocities across Iraq.

Murad called at Friday’s event for Iraq’s central authorities and those in the Kurdistan region to “protect the mass graves” so that proof could be found of the “genocide of the Yazidis.”

“There will not be reconciliation with the Arab tribes of our region if their dignitaries don’t give the names of those who carried out the crimes so they can be judged,” she said.

The head of the UN investigative team Karim Khan said the exhumation marked an “important moment” for the probe, with 73 mass graves discovered so far in Sinjar alone.

“The road towards accountability is a long one, and many challenges lay ahead,” he said in a statement.

“Notwithstanding this, the spirit of cooperation between the survivor community and the government of Iraq is to be applauded.”

Full report at:



Egypt court upholds verdict, places 169 Brotherhood convicts on terror list

Mar 16, 2019

An Egyptian court has upheld an earlier verdict against 169 convicted members of the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood movement and placed them on the country’s terror list for the next five years.

On Saturday, Egypt’s Court of Cassation upheld a verdict against the suspects after a criminal court in May last year found them guilty of conspiring to infiltrate state institutions with the aim of overthrowing President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi's government.

The suspects had appealed the ruling by the criminal court but on Saturday the Court of Cassation rejected their appeal. The decision is final and cannot be appealed.

The Muslim Brotherhood was outlawed as a “terrorist organization” in late 2013 following the ouster of the country's first democratically elected president, Mohamed Morsi, through a military coup by Sisi, who was at the time Morsi’s defense minister.

The Brotherhood, which fully supported Morsi, protested against the coup, but the pro-Morsi protests were brutally crushed in the August 2013 Rabaa massacre in which more than 800 civilians were killed.

The court’s decision is said to be based on state security investigations which purportedly revealed that those convicted had attempted to revive the Brotherhood’s activities by recruiting new members to its armed wings, spread rumors and provided financial and logistical assistance to the banned movement, which is Egypt’s oldest opposition movement.

According to Egypt’s anti-terrorism law, anyone who is put on the terror list cannot leave the country and their assets are frozen.

Rights groups in Egypt and across the world have recorded cases of irregularities in the trials of political prisoners in the country. They say the army’s clampdown on the supporters of Morsi has led to the death of some 1,500 people and the arrest of 22,000 others, including 200 people who have been sentenced to death in mass trials.

The Brotherhood operated under strict measures during the rule of longtime dictator Hosni Mubarak, who was himself removed from power following an uprising in 2011.

Full report at:



Fresh US-led airstrikes kill many civilians in Syria’s Dayr al-Zawr

Mar 16, 2019

A large number of civilians, mostly women and children, have been killed after the US-led coalition purportedly fighting the terrorist Takfiri Daesh group conducted fresh airstrikes in eastern Syria. 

Syria’s official news agency SANA, citing some local sources, reported that casualties were caused on Saturday when US-led warplanes bombarded Baghouz refugee camp in the eastern province of Dayr al-Zawr.

The US-led coalition has recently stepped up its airstrikes in the besieged town of Baghouz, the final piece of land still held by Daesh.

At least 50 people were killed and scores of others injured on Monday when US-led jets targeted families fleeing the last vestiges of Daesh's territorial rule near the Iraqi border.

Earlier this month, US warplanes also bombed the same troubled region with internationally-banned white phosphorus munitions, killing several people.

The Syrian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates said in January that continued airstrikes by the US-led coalition against ordinary people and civilian targets showed the alliance’s reckless disregard for the UN Charter as well as international law. 

The US-led coalition has been conducting airstrikes and operations against what are said to be Daesh targets inside Syria since September 2014 without any authorization from the Damascus government or a UN mandate.

The military alliance has repeatedly been accused of targeting and killing civilians. It has also been largely incapable of achieving its declared goal of destroying Daesh.

SDF locked in battle with Daesh in Baghouz

Meanwhile, a spokesman for the US-backed Kurdish militants in Syria said on Saturday that clashes were ongoing with Daesh terrorists who are now holed up in the village.

"Clashes broke out again last night and have continued since," Adnan Afrin, a spokesman for the so-called Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), said, adding, "There have so far been no surrenders (today) and there's no sign they are giving up."

An SDF statement said that the latest fighting broke out after the Kurdish-led force attacked Daesh positions inside Baghouz. Around 32 Daesh terrorists, including at least four senior figures, were killed in the battle.

On Friday, Daesh launched three attacks outside Baghouz, killing six people among those fleeing the village.

The US-led coalition said on Twitter late Friday that the SDF had made no fresh advance.

"Daesh has proven to demonstrate a reckless disregard for human life and continues to be a global threat," the coalition said, adding, "We stand by our SDF partners as they fight to liberate that last Daesh-held territory." 

Daesh has unleashed a wave of bombings over the past week to impede the SDF advance.

It remains unclear how many Daesh militants and civilians remain inside Baghouz.

According to the so-called Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, more than 61,000 people have streamed out of the militant-held territory since December.

The International Rescue Committee (IRC) said Saturday that around 3,000 people had arrived at al-Hol camp in northeastern al-Hasakah from Baghouz over the past two days, pushing the camp's population to over 69,000.

The UN said most of the new arrivals "show clear signs of distress, fatigue, malnutrition and require some form of medical care or attention."

The IRC and the UN say around 122 people, mainly children, have died en route to the camp or shortly after arriving since December.

"There is an urgent requirement for funding to continue health and nutrition interventions in the camp," the UN said.

The US has long been providing the SDF -- a predominantly Kurdish alliance of militants -- with arms, calling it a key partner in the purported fight against Daesh.

Such support has angered Washington's NATO ally, Turkey, which views militants of the People's Protection Units (YPG), the backbone of the SDF, as a terrorist organization tied to the homegrown Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) militant group.

Syrian Army foils infiltration attempts in Hama

Syrian government forces, backed by allied fighters from popular defense groups, on Saturday confronted breaches of the de-escalation zones by foreign-backed terrorists who were seeking to infiltrate many military points in the country’s west-central province of Hama.

According to SANA, army units foiled an infiltration attempt by terrorist groups in Hama northern countryside and killed many terrorists.

Syrian government forces also destroyed mortar cannons and rocket launch-pads for terrorist groups in the region.

The agreement on creating four de-escalation zones in four areas in northern, central and southern Syria, where the most intense fighting was underway between the Syrian government and different militant groups, took effect in 2017.

In recent months, Syrian government forces, backed by allied fighters from popular defense groups, have made unprecedented territorial gains against foreign-sponsored Takfiri terrorists across the conflict-plagued Arab country.

Full report at:



SDF locked in battle with Daesh in holdout village

March 17, 2019

BAGHOUZ: US-backed forces battled Daesh on Saturday as the holdout terrorists clung onto the last dregs of their crumbling “caliphate” in eastern Syria.

For weeks, the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) have battled to crush Daesh fighters holed up in a small riverside hamlet in the village of Baghouz.

The makeshift encampment of tents and tunnels is all that remains of a once-sprawling “caliphate” declared in 2014 over large swaths of Syria and Iraq.

The SDF and coalition warplanes have rained fire on the enclave since last Sunday, blitzing more than 4,000 IS fighters and family members into surrender.

US-backed forces have reduced daytime airstrikes and shelling to allow for more exits from the last extremist bastion.

But AFP journalists at an SDF post inside Baghouz heard sporadic rounds of mortar fire Saturday and an SDF spokesman said clashes were ongoing.

“Clashes broke out again last night and have continued since,” SDF spokesman Adnan Afrin said.

“There have so far been no surrenders (today) and there’s no sign they are giving up,” said the spokesman.

An SDF statement said the latest fighting broke out after the Kurd-led force attacked Daesh positions inside Baghouz. Around 32 terrorists, including at least four senior IS figures, were killed in battle, it said.

On Friday, Daesh launched three suicide attacks outside Baghouz, killing six people among those fleeing the village near the Iraqi border.

They were the latest casualties in Syria’s devastating civil war as it entered its ninth year with 370,000 dead.

The US-led coalition said the bombers were dressed in women’s clothing and had mixed with others surrendering.

“Daesh has proven to demonstrate a reckless disregard for human life and continues to be a global threat,“it said late Friday.

“We stand by our SDF partners as they fight to liberate that last Daesh-held territory,” it said on Twitter.

Die-hard Daesh fighters have unleased a wave of suicide bombings over the past week to impede the SDF advance.

It remains unclear how many fighters and civilians remain inside Baghouz.

More than 61,000 people have streamed out of Daesh-held territory since December, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says, a tenth of them suspected jihadists.

The exodus has sparked a humanitarian crisis in Kurdish-run camps for the displaced further north where civilians have been transported.

These include the wives and children of alleged foreign terrorists, hundreds of whom are being held by the Kurdish forces.

Around 3,000 people arrived at Al-Hol camp from Baghouz over the past two days, pushing the camp’s population to over 69,000, the International Rescue Committee (IRC) said on Saturday.

According to the United Nations children’s fund, UNICEF, the camp was designed with a 20,000-person capacity.

The UN said most of the new arrivals “show clear signs of distress, fatigue, malnutrition and require some form of medical care or attention.”

According to the IRC and UN, around 122 people have died en route to the camp or shortly after arriving since December, mostly small children, two of them on Thursday.

“There is an urgent requirement for funding to continue health and nutrition interventions in the camp,” the UN said.

At the height of its brutal rule, Daesh controlled a stretch of land in Syria and Iraq the size of the UK.

The total capture of the Baghouz camp by the SDF would mark the end of the cross-border “caliphate” it proclaimed more than four years ago.

But beyond Baghouz, Daesh retains a presence in eastern Syria’s vast Badia desert and sleeper cells in the northeast.

Full report at:





Houthi militias warn they could target Riyadh, Abu Dhabi

16 March 2019

Yemen’s Houthi militias warned on Saturday they could launch attacks against the capitals of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, who lead a military coalition against them.

The threat came as the United Nations was trying to salvage a truce deal in Yemen, seen as crucial to diplomatic efforts to end the country’s four-year war.

“We have aerial photographs and coordinates of dozens of headquarters, facilities and military bases of the enemy,” Houthi militia spokesman Yahya Saree said in comments carried by the militia’s Al-Masirah channel.

“The legitimate targets of our forces extend to the capital of Saudi Arabia and to the emirate of Abu Dhabi,” capital of the UAE, he said.

“We have manufactured advanced generations of attack aircraft, and new systems will soon be functional.”

The Iran-linked Houthi rebels have targeted Saudi border towns and Riyadh with ballistic missiles and also claimed drone attacks on the airports of Abu Dhabi and Dubai during the course of the conflict.

Saudi Arabia has said the missiles were all intercepted by its air force, with one civilian reported killed by falling shrapnel, while the UAE has denied the alleged drone attacks.

Saudi Arabia and its military allies joined the Yemeni government’s war against the Iran-linked Houthis in March 2015.

On Wednesday the UN Security Council met to discuss the stalled truce deal that had been agreed on Sweden in December between the Yemeni government and the Houthis.

The deal – which called for a ceasefire, militia pullback and mutual redeployment from Hodeida, Yemen’s lifeline Red Sea port controlled by the Houthis – offered the best hope in years of moving toward an end to the conflict.

While the fighting in Hodeida has eased, redeployment efforts have stalled in recent weeks.

UN envoy Martin Griffiths told the Security Council on Wednesday he was still working to make the redeployment a “reality”.



Hamas detains rights workers as it disperses Gaza protests

17 March 2019

Palestinian rights groups say Hamas briefly detained four of their researchers as it dispersed protests in Gaza against recent tax hikes.

Hundreds of Gazans gathered for a third day on Saturday to protest the tax hikes, which have made life even harder in the territory. Gaza has been under an Israeli blockade since Hamas seized power more than a decade ago.

Two researchers from the Al-Mezan rights group, one from the Palestinian Center for Human Rights and one from Al-Dameer were held for a few hours before being released. Online videos show Hamas forces raiding homes, attacking protesters with clubs and firing into the air.

Full report at:



Turkey says two of its soldiers killed, eight wounded in northern Iraq

16 March 2019

Two Turkish soldiers were killed and eight others were wounded on Saturday in a clash during operations into northern Iraq, Turkey’s defense ministry said.

Six militants, including a woman, were “neutralized” during the operations, the ministry said in a statement. The Turkish army uses the term neutralize when it has killed, captured or wounded combatants.

Turkey regularly carries out air strikes on PKK bases in northern Iraq, as President Tayyip Erdogan pursues his aim of ending the militant group’s presence near Turkey’s borders.

Full report at:



Yemenis downed 19 Saudi Apache copters during war: Army spokesman

Mar 16, 2019

Yemen's army says the country's air defense has managed to shoot down 19 Saudi Apache helicopters since the outbreak of the war in 2015.

Speaking at a press conference in Sana'a on Saturday, army spokesman Brigadier Yahya Sare'e provided the figures regarding the four-year-long war on the impoverished Arab country.

He said that Saudi Arabia and its allies have carried out over 250,000 airstrikes and dropped more than 500,000 bombs and missiles on Yemen, al-Masirah TV reported.

The aggressors’ warplanes fired at least 5914 cluster and phosphorus bombs at several Yemeni provinces, he added.

Sare'e also noted that a total of 22 countries have directly and indirectly been involved in the Saudi war, adding that Yemen is in possession of evidence suggesting Israel's role in the Western-backed offensive.

The spokesman further said that the Yemeni army has boosted its capability to manufacture weapons and stored ballistic missiles at its depots.

The Yemeni military, he stressed, has managed to destroy over 7,000 armored vehicles, trucks, tanks and bulldozers belonging to the Saudi-led coalition.

Saudi Arabia and its regional allies, including the UAE, launched the devastating military campaign against Yemen in order to bring the Riyadh-backed former government back to power.

The invaders have, however, failed to achieve their objective in the face of Yemenis’ resistance.

The war has so far taken a heavy toll on the Yemen’s infrastructure, hospitals, schools, and factories.

Full report at:



Erdogan hits back at Netanyahu's son over 'occupation' claims

Mar 16, 2019

Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has hit back at the son of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Yair, for claiming that the city of Istanbul is under "Turkish occupation."

In a Twitter post earlier this week, Yair Netanyahu said, "Istanbul is actually a city called Constantinople! The capital of the Byzantine empire and center of orthodox Christianity for more than a thousand years before Turkish occupation!"

Speaking at an election rally on Friday, Erdogan fired back at Netanyahu's son, saying it is actually the Tel Aviv regime which has occupied the entire Palestinian land.

"You occupied the whole of Palestine!" he said. "If the world is looking for a country that oppresses, it's Israel. If they are searching for a terror state that too is Israel."

The Turkish president further described Netanyahu's son as "immoral."

A war of words began between Turkey and Israel recently, when the rightist Israeli prime minister said the occupied territories only belong to the Jewish people and not all citizens.

“Israel is not a state of all its citizens,” he wrote in an Instagram post. “According to the basic nationality law we passed, Israel is the nation state of the Jewish people – and only it.”

Critics accused Netanyahu of demonizing the Arabs, who make up some 17.5 percent of Israel’s population, in a bid to boost right-wing turnout for the April legislative elections.

Turkish presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin strongly condemned Netanyahu’s “blatant racism and discrimination.”

In response, the Israeli premier called Erdogan a “dictator” who jails journalists and judges.

Erdogan, however, called Netanyahu a "thief" and a "tyrant who massacred seven-year-old Palestinian children.”

He also criticized Israel for jailing 10,000 Palestinian women and children and disrespecting holy sites in Jerusalem al-Quds.

Ties between Ankara and Tel Aviv soured in 2010 after an Israeli raid on a Gaza-bound Turkish aid flotilla killed 10 Turkish activists in high seas.

Six years later, they reached an agreement to normalize their ties.

Full report at:



If you 'care' about Yemenis, back Saudi war: Pompeo to senators

Mar 16, 2019

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has rebuked senators for passing a resolution to end Washington’s support for the Saudi war on Yemen, saying they should back Riyadh if they "truly care about Yemeni lives."

In comments to the media in Washington on Friday, Pompeo claimed the vote showed that American senators do not care about the Yemeni people.

"If you truly care about Yemeni lives, you'd support the Saudi-led effort to prevent Yemen from turning into a puppet state of ... Iran," he said.

On Wednesday, the Republican-led Senate approved the resolution to halt US military assistance for the Saudi offensive against Yemen by a 54 to 46 tally.

The measure now heads to the Democrat-led House of Representatives, where it is expected to pass.

A similar resolution to end US support for the Saudi war on Yemen passed the Senate in December, but it was not taken up under the then-Republican-controlled House. For the resolution to reach the president’s desk, it will have to go back to the House for approval.

The US provides intelligence sharing, logistics support and other training to the Saudi-led coalition, which has been waging the war on Yemen since March 2015. It also previously helped with mid-air refueling for warplanes operated by Riyadh and its allies, but that assistance ended last November.

Senator Bernie Sanders, a co-sponsor of the resolution, said, "The bottom line is that the United States should not be supporting a catastrophic war led by a despotic regime with a dangerous and irresponsible foreign policy."

Pompeo, however, said the Trump administration believes that suspending the US role would not end the Yemen conflict.

“We all want to improve the dire humanitarian situation. But the Trump administration fundamentally disagrees that curbing our assistance to the Saudi-led coalition is the way to achieve these goals," he said.

Pompeo also argued that the way to “alleviate the Yemeni people’s suffering isn’t to prolong the conflict by handicapping our partners in the fight," but by giving the Saudi-led coalition the support needed to defeat Houthi Ansarullah fighters.

Saudi Arabia and its partners launched the war in an attempt to reinstall Riyadh-allied former regime and crush the Houthis, who have been running state affairs in the absence of an effective government.

The Western-backed aggression against Yemen, coupled with a naval blockade, has destroyed the country's infrastructure and led to famine as well as a cholera outbreak.

Full report at:



North America


Fox News Bumps Jeanine Pirro’s Show After Anti-Muslim Remarks

By Michael M. Grynbaum

March 16, 2019

Jeanine Pirro is off Fox News prime time — for one night, at least.

Fox News removed Ms. Pirro’s program, “Justice With Judge Jeanine,” from its usual 9 p.m. time slot on Saturday, one week after the network took the rare step of publicly rebuking the host for an on-air monologue that questioned a Muslim lawmaker’s loyalty to the United States.

Fox News declined to say whether Ms. Pirro had been formally suspended. “We are not commenting on internal scheduling matters,” the network said in a statement on Saturday evening.

A former prosecutor known for fiery monologues, Ms. Pirro is one of the most fervent on-air champions of President Trump, an old friend from her days in New York political circles who often urges his Twitter followers to tune in to her show.

She came under heavy criticism last weekend for her remarks about Representative Ilhan Omar, Democrat of Minnesota, a Muslim who wears a hijab. “Is her adherence to this Islamic doctrine indicative of her adherence to Shariah law, which in itself is antithetical to the United States Constitution?” Ms. Pirro asked.

Among those calling her comments prejudiced was a Muslim producer at Ms. Pirro’s own network. Several advertisers said they would no longer sponsor her show.

Fox News, which has mostly stood by its star personalities in past scandals, responded by saying that Ms. Pirro’s remarks “do not reflect those of the network and we have addressed the matter with her directly.”

The network has not elaborated on that discussion or what internal punishment, if any, was meted out.

Fox News was also grappling with an uproar over another of its star hosts, the pundit Tucker Carlson, who has faced scrutiny for offensive comments he made on a shock-jock radio program about a decade ago. The comments were recently published by the left-wing advocacy group Media Matters for America.

Mr. Carlson did not miss any of his regular network appearances this past week. On air, he thanked officials at Fox News for backing him. The network has not issued its own statement on the matter.

Ms. Pirro has not apologized for her remarks. “My intention was to ask a question and start a debate, but of course because one is Muslim does not mean you don’t support the Constitution,” she said in a statement last weekend.

Since then, Ms. Pirro, an active user on Twitter and Instagram, has been silent on social media.

Last week, Ms. Omar — who was recently criticized for comments in Congress that some lawmakers viewed as anti-Semitic — thanked Fox News after the network distanced itself from Ms. Pirro’s remarks. “No one’s commitment to our constitution should be questioned because of their faith or country of birth,” she wrote on Twitter.



US Navy veteran detained in Iran gets 10 years in prison, lawyer says

17 March 2019

A US Navy veteran has been sentenced to 10 years in an Iranian prison, his family’s lawyer said, after he was arrested last July while visiting an Iranian woman in the city of Mashhad.

Michael White, 46, was convicted of two charges, insulting the country’s top leader and posting a private photograph publicly, in separate hearings on March 6 and March 9, according to the lawyer, Mark Zaid.

The basis for the first charge is not yet clear. The second charge appears to have been leveled after White uploaded a picture of himself sitting with the woman, an Iranian national, Zaid said.

Iranian authorities have not released details of the charges. The US State Department said it was aware of White’s detention, but added that it could not provide additional information because of “privacy considerations.”

“We are aware of the detention of a US citizen in Iran,” a State Department official said. “We have no higher priority than the safety and security of US citizens abroad.”

The family learned of the sentence earlier this week from the State Department, which in turn received the information from Swiss diplomats. The Swiss represent US interests in Iran because the countries do not maintain diplomatic ties.

White, a California native, served 13 years in the Navy.

The family and the State Department are still trying to determine whether the charges are politically motivated or the result of a criminal prosecution, Zaid said.

“It’s been very unclear,” he added.

White’s arrest has further strained the difficult relationship between the Trump administration and Iran, which worsened after US President Donald Trump withdrew from an international agreement curbing Iran’s nuclear program and re-imposed sanctions.

The Iranian regime has imprisoned several other American citizens in recent years, including father-and-son Baquer and Siamak Namazi, and Xiyue Wang.

All three were accused of espionage-related activities and have denied the allegations. The United Nations has condemned the prosecutions as unjust, and Trump has demanded that Iran release all US citizens in custody.

Since January, when Iran first confirmed White’s arrest, he has not been permitted to contact his family, Zaid said.

Full report at:



Police step up security at US mosques after New Zealand terrorist attack

Mar 16, 2019

Mosques across the United States increased security measures for Friday prayers after a gunman shot dead 49 people and wounded more than 40 at two mosques in New Zealand, attacks that many blamed on the demonization of Muslims by the administration of US President Donald Trump.

Police in New York and other cities said they were stepping up patrols at mosques and other places of worship as a precaution, although there was no sign of any specific threat.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the largest Muslim rights group in the United States, said Muslims and other minority groups had faced a surge in bigotry since Trump won the 2016 US presidential election.

CAIR blamed this in part on what it described as "Islamophobic, white supremacist and racist Trump administration policies and appointments."

Nihad Awad, CAIR’s executive director, said Trump has "normalized" Islamophobia.

"In many white supremacists' attacks on the American-Muslim community, the attackers cite Trump and cite his policies," Awad said at a news conference on Friday in Washington.

At least one gunman killed 49 people during Friday prayers in New Zealand's worst ever mass shooting.

The Australian gunman, identified as Brenton Tarrant, broadcast live footage on Facebook of the attack on one mosque in the city of Christchurch, after publishing a "manifesto" in which he called immigrants as "invaders."

The accused gunman's manifesto posted online praised Trump as "a symbol of renewed white identity and common purpose." The White House did not respond to a request for comment.

"Today, the terrorist has quoted the most powerful person in the world, President Trump," Awad said at the news conference. "And I would like to address Mr. Trump: Mr. Trump, your words matter. Your policies matter. They impact the lives of innocent people at home and globally."

CAIR urged worshippers in the United States and abroad to take "stepped-up security precautions."

"There's no such thing as a foolproof plan in a situation like this," Khalid Siddiq, an official at Atlanta's Al-Farooq mosque, said. "We just rely and trust in God."

Trump extended condolences for "the horrible massacre" in what the White House called a "vicious act of hate".

Full report at:



Journalist slams Trump’s ignorance on right-wing white extremism

Mar 16, 2019

American journalist Don Lemon has denounced US President Donald Trump’s ignorance after he said he did not see a rise in right-wing white extremism in the aftermath of a terrorist attack by a heavily armed white supremacist at two New Zealand mosques on Friday that killed 49 people.

Trump said on Friday he doesn’t view white extremism as a rising threat even though many blame the terrorist massacre of Muslims in Christchurch on his demonization of Muslims.

“I don’t really. I think it’s a small group of people that have very, very serious problems,” Trump told reporters at the White House when asked if he thought white nationalism is a growing global threat.

Muslim and civil rights activists have long accused Trump of promoting intolerance. He called for a “total and complete shutdown” of Muslims entering the US during his election campaign.

Some analysts have rejected Trump’s claim about the threat of white nationalists, saying the US president’s immigration policies have emboldened far-right groups and white supremacist ideology in the West.

“For him to not to be able to know that right-wing extremism is on the rise is very ignorant,” Lemon, a CNN host and vocal critic of Trump, said on Saturday.

“And I think yes, he does whatever is politically expedient to him. He knows that he says he’s not racist, but the racists think he’s racist and they support him, and he doesn’t want to lose that support. He cannot win an election with just his base next time, and they are a very vocal and active part of his base,” he added.

In his manifesto, Brenton Tarrant said he saw Trump as “symbol of renewed white identity and common purpose.”

Intercept columnist Mehdi Hasan told CNN Tonight that “far-right terrorism” was on the rise in the United States and blamed President Trump for attacks both in the US and abroad.

Nihad Awad, the executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), a Muslim-American civil rights group, said Trump has "normalized" Islamophobia.

Full report at:



US: no entry for ICC members probing US troops in Afghanistan

March 16, 2019

The United States said it will deny visas to any member of the International Criminal Court involved in investigating the actions of US troops in Afghanistan or other countries.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Washington was prepared to take further steps, including economic sanctions, if the war crimes court goes ahead with any probes of US or allied personnel.

"The ICC is attacking America's rule of law," Mr Pompeo told reporters on Friday. "It's not too late for the court to change course and we urge that it do so immediately."

The United States has never joined the ICC, whose chief prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, asked judges in November 2017 for authorisation to open an investigation into alleged war crimes in Afghanistan. They included "acts of torture, cruel treatment, outrages upon personal dignity, rape and sexual violence against conflict-related detainees" in which US personnel may have been involved.

Mr Pompeo's announcement of visa restrictions was the first concrete action taken by the US against the ICC since the White House threatened reprisals against the Hague-based body in September of last year.

"I'm announcing a policy of US visa restrictions on those individuals directly responsible for any ICC investigation of US personnel," the secretary of state said.

This would include anyone who takes, or has taken, action to request or further an investigation.

"If you're responsible for the proposed ICC investigation of US personnel in connection with the situation in Afghanistan you should not assume that you still have, or will get, a visa or that you will permitted to enter the United States," Mr Pompeo said.

The secretary of state said visas could also be used to "deter ICC efforts to pursue allied personnel, including Israelis, without allies' consent".

He said implementation of the policy had already begun but he did not provide any details, citing confidentiality surrounding visa applications.

"These visa restrictions will not be the end of our efforts. We're prepared to take additional steps, including economic sanctions, if the ICC does not change its course."

The US was among the signatories to the Rome Statute under which the ICC was established in 2002, but its membership was never ratified by the Senate.

The secretary of state said the US had declined to join the ICC "because of its broad unaccountable prosecutorial powers" and its threat to American national sovereignty.

"We are determined to protect American and allied civilian personnel from living in fear of unjust prosecution for actions taken to defend our great nation," he said.

"We feared that the court could eventually pursue politically motivated prosecutions of Americans," he said, "and our fears were warranted".

Mr Pompeo said procedures were already in place to deal with members of the US armed forces who engage in misconduct.

"When US service members fail to adhere to our strict code of military conduct they are reprimanded, court-martialed and sentenced, if that's what's deserved," he said.

"The US government, where possible, takes legal action against those responsible for international crimes," he added, noting that it has supported prosecution of war crimes in Rwanda, the former Yugoslavia and elsewhere.

The ICC and human rights groups reacted swiftly to Mr Pompeo's remarks.

"The ICC, as a court of law, will continue to do its independent work, undeterred, in accordance with its mandate and the overarching principle of the rule of law," the ICC said.

Richard Dicker, international justice director at Human Rights Watch, said the US move "is a naked attempt to bully judges and impede justice for victims in Afghanistan" and "blatant contempt for the rule of law".

James Goldston, executive director of the Open Society Justice Initiative, said Mr Pompeo's remarks reflected the administration's view that international law matters "only when it is aligned with US national interests".

"Attacking international judicial actors for doing their jobs undermines global efforts to hold to account those most responsible for atrocity crimes such as torture and mass murder," he said.

The "America First" administration of President Donald Trump has been a particularly virulent opponent of the ICC.

John Bolton harshly condemned the court in one of his first speeches after becoming Mr Trump's national security adviser in September.

Full report at:





Jordanian Muslim Immigrant Proud of Living in New Zealand Shot 3 Times in Christchurch

Mar 16, 2019

"One of the major reasons that I have decided to live in New Zealand They don’t care who you are, they just treat you as a human being and You’re allowed to be whatever you want," Wasseim Alsati, a barber shop manager in Christchurch, wrote on his Facebook page on December 21.

But Wasseim and his little daughter were shot and severely wounded during the worst terrorist attack on New Zealand soil in which 49 people were killed and 48 more hurt after mass shootings at two Christchurch mosques on Thursday.

"I am in big pain today. I was in a lot of pain after being shot 3 times. Please pray for me and my daughter. I will not be able to answer to all messages. Thank you for your understanding," he wrote on Facebook a few hours ago.

The Australian suspect arrested after dozens of worshippers were gunned down in two mosques appeared unrepentant in court in New Zealand on Saturday, staring down media members with a smirk on his face.

Brenton Tarrant, 28, appeared in a Christchurch District Court and was charged with murder. He was remanded without a plea until his next appearance in the South Island city's High Court on April 5.

Handcuffed, shoeless, and wearing a white prison suit, Tarrant did not speak. His court-appointed lawyer made no application for bail or name suppression.

He flashed an upside-down "okay" signal, a symbol used by white power groups across the globe.

Two other suspects were taken into custody while police tried to determine what role, if any, they played in the cold-blooded attack that stunned New Zealand.

Calling it a well-planned terrorist attack, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said the main suspect was a licensed gun owner who used five weapons during his rampage, including two semi-automatic weapons and two shotguns.

New Zealand, with a population of five million, has relatively loose gun laws and an estimated 1.5 million firearms, or roughly one for every three people.

Muslims account for one percent of New Zealand's population, a 2013 census showed, most of whom were born overseas.



Jordanian barber injured in Christchurch terror attack recovering, daughter, 3, battles for life

March 17, 2019

AMMAN: “One of the reasons I decided to live in New Zealand is that they don’t pay attention to who you are, and they treat you as a human being. You can do what you want.” These are the words of 36-year-old Jordanian Wasseim Alsati, a barber who made Christchurch his home.

He is injured and his three-year old daughter Leen is fighting for her life after a massacre at two mosques killed 49 people and injured dozens on Friday.

Wasseim’s friends in Amman said he wanted to excel, but that Jordan was too small for him and his ambitions. Sati Abdel Razaq, Wasseim’s father, told Arab News that five years ago his son closed his shop in the capital and left for greener pastures.

“This person had Western attitudes and he was sure his future was not in Jordan. He would always tell me his rosy dreams about becoming a great hairdresser,” Usama Jeetawi told Arab News. “Every time I would come for a haircut, he would show me his latest innovations and he would say, ‘I wish I could get to a place where I could show off my talent.’ I tried to help find him a place with Amman’s leading hair stylists, but without much success.”

Razaq told Arab News his son was getting better “but three-year-old Leen is still in critical condition after receiving three bullets to the body.”

Friends of Wasseim launched an appeal on Facebook, hoping to raise $25,000 to help the family. By Saturday $13,000 had been raised.

Wasseim is one of eight Jordanians who were injured in the terrorist attack. The Associated Press reported Saturday that four Jordanians had been killed.

One of those who died was engineer Ata Alyyan. His father, Dr. Mohammad Alyyan, founded Al-Noor Mosque, which was one of the mosques targeted by the gunman.

Family member Saed Azzam told Arab News that the father left for New Zealand 25 years ago and that the son studied computer engineering.

Father and son set up a firm, A & B Educational Consultancy, in 2007 to help Arab students wishing to study in New Zealand.

Khaled Haj Mustafa was a Syrian who lived in Jordan. He fled the brutal war in Syria and was involved in equestrianism, a profession many in Jordan remembered him for, only to be killed in a Christchurch mosque while praying.

A Jordanian ministry spokesman, Sufian Qudah, earlier announced the death of three Jordanians and said a team was working round the clock to communicate with families in Jordan and New Zealand. A Foreign Ministry envoy, Ahed Sweidat, was also dispatched to liaise with local authorities on the investigation and to arrange the repatriation of the bodies.

Tareq Khoury, a Jordanian MP, said the attack was proof that “Daesh is alive and well in the minds of the leaders of the US ... as well as other Western leaders.”

Sami Awad, executive director of the Holy Land Trust, said that the person who carried out the attack was not alone in his belief system or crazy.

Full report at:




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