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Islamic World News ( 1 Jul 2019, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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News Reports Added ‘Darul Uloom’ To the Story which is Not a Fatwa: How Media Misrepresented a Muslim Cleric’s Statement about Trinamool MP Nusrat Jahan







News Reports Added ‘Darul Uloom’ To the Story which is Not a Fatwa: How Media Misrepresented a Muslim Cleric’s Statement about Trinamool MP Nusrat Jahan

Protests Were Held In Around 50 Cities across India Last Week; Protesters in India Condemn Lynching of Muslim Man

Iran Vows to ‘Soon’ Breach Uranium Stockpile Limits, As European Efforts Fall Short

Man Is Charged in Twitter Threat to Lynch Muslim Lawyer

U.S. Tells Europe: Choose Between Us and Iran, As New Trading System Launches

Libyan National Army: Turkey Supports Terrorists, Directly Interferes In Libya

Utrecht Tram Shooter Accused of Terrorism Tells Judges: ‘I Did It for My Faith’

Myanmar to Send Delegation To Rohingya Camps In Bangladesh

Penataran Temple Ceremony Embraces West Java's History of Religious Syncretism

 

India

News Reports Added ‘Darul Uloom’ To the Story which is Not a Fatwa: How Media Misrepresented a Muslim Cleric’s Statement about Trinamool MP Nusrat Jahan

Protests Were Held In Around 50 Cities across India Last Week; Protesters in India Condemn Lynching of Muslim Man

No Dress Code for Visitors at Bada Imambada In Lucknow

Malegaon: Over 1 lakh Muslims protest, seek anti-lynching law

Tabrez lynching: Jamiat Ulema files petition in Jharkhand HC

Zaira’s decision is ‘praiseworthy’, Hindu actress should take inspiration: Swami Chakrapani

Modi govt. mute spectator to mob lynching incidents: Shahi Imam

Tabrez Ansari: 18th person to be brutally lynched in past 3 years in Jharkhand

I feel like crying: Ex-Union Minister Arif Khan on fatwa against Nusrat Jahan

Lathicharge on people protesting Tabrez lynching, over 24 hurt; police says 850 booked, situation normal

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Mideast

Iran Vows to ‘Soon’ Breach Uranium Stockpile Limits, As European Efforts Fall Short

Anger Grows over Israel’s Controversial Al-Quds Dig in Presence of US Officials

USCIRF Calls on Houthi Court in Yemen to Overturn Death Sentence for Religious Prisoner of Conscience Hamid bin Haydara

Israel Strikes Iranian Targets in Syria, Report Says; 16 Killed, 21 Wounded

Turkey Threatens Military Action in Libya If Turks Not Released

Trump should realize that Iranians unite when bullied, says Iran parliament speaker

Nine injured in Houthi attack on Saudi Arabia’s Abha airport: Arab Coalition

Arab Coalition intercepts, destroys Houthi drone targeting Saudi Arabia

Top Israeli diplomat in UAE, pushing for normalization with Arab states

6 Turkish citizens detained in Libya now released: Ministry

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North America

Man Is Charged in Twitter Threat to Lynch Muslim Lawyer

U.S. Tells Europe: Choose Between Us and Iran, As New Trading System Launches

Trump says Iran ‘playing with fire’ after exceeding nuclear deal limit

White House: Iran should be held to a standard of no uranium enrichment

Iran playing with fire after breaching nuke deal: Trump

US vows not to allow Iran to develop nuclear weapons

White supremacist James Alex Fields Jr. sentenced to life in prison in Charlottesville attack

Islamberg: Three plead guilty to plot against NY Muslim community

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Africa

Libyan National Army: Turkey Supports Terrorists, Directly Interferes In Libya

Boko Haram Takes Over Nigerian Navy Base on Lake Chad

Nigeria protesters demand end to anti-Boko Haram militia

8 militants killed, 12 others injured in southern Somalia

Double attack in Tunis: ‘There are people who don’t want a stable Tunisia’

Kenyan Women Unite Their Voices to Prevent Extremism

Sudan protest group calls for nationwide ‘civil disobedience’ on July 14

Six Turks held by Haftar’s forces freed in Libya

Sudan: At least 7 killed in rally against military rule

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Europe

Utrecht Tram Shooter Accused of Terrorism Tells Judges: ‘I Did It for My Faith’

Greece: 3 arrested over building Muslim prayer room

German neo-Nazi doomsday prepper network 'ordered body bags, made kill lists'

Alleged Italian ISIS member handed to Rome: SDF

Northern Ireland prisoners to be allowed books on terrorism and paramilitaries

Britain hesitant is prosecuting jihadists

Germany very concerned by Iran’s breach of nuclear deal, says a source

Russia ‘regrets’ Iran exceeding uranium stockpile limit

UK urgently considering next steps after Iran breaches nuclear deal

Erdogan: 'Some people paying serious money' to bury Khashoggi issue

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South Asia

Myanmar to Send Delegation To Rohingya Camps In Bangladesh

UN Envoy Will ‘Ring the Alarm Bell’ If No Action On Rohingya

Mullah Baradar Joins Taliban Talks in Qatar to End Stalemate On Draft Agreement

Latest Taliban Attacks Kill At Least 42 Afghan Forces

Taliban Kills Eight Election Commission Employees in South Afghanistan

At least 50 children wounded in Taliban attack on Kabul

Protecting Bangladesh from cyber criminals

Afghan Special Forces kill 7 ISIS Khurasan militants in Nangarhar province

Taliban militants detonate 4 car bombs, loses 25 fighters in failed attack in Kandahar

Taliban militants suffer in Special Forces raid, airstrikes in Paktika and Ghazni

Germany, Qatar to host intra-Afghan dialogue from 7 to 8 July: Khalilzad

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Southeast Asia

Penataran Temple Ceremony Embraces West Java's History of Religious Syncretism

Religious Fundamentalism a Creeping Problem in State Universities: Survey

Philippines: Abu Sayyaf chief likely plotted suicide attacks

After BN objecting asset declarations, PAS also says Islam disallows the move

Johor eyes making non-Muslims attend marriage school as divorces soar

Court tells why Muslim mum ordered to surrender custody of kids to Buddhist dad

PAS claims Islam does not allow asset declarations

Indonesia Catches Suspected Leader of Jemaah Islamiyah Terror Group

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Arab World

Iraqi Leaders Say Country Deserves Global Support after Long Fight against Islamic State

Iraqi cleric plans ‘slow coup to end corruption’

US carries out rare strike against al-Qaeda in Syria

U.S.-led coalition: ISIS militants cleared from Syrian village in massive operation

Lebanon’s Hezbollah ‘Secretly’ Withdrawing from Syria

Iraqi army kills two Islamic State terrorists on border with Syria

6 IS militants killed in airstrike, anti-IS operation in northern Iraq

F-22s Deploy to Qatar for the First Time Amid Iran Tensions

Lebanon: Guards Killed in Attack on Pro-Hezbollah Minister’s Convoy

Syria's Air Defense Destroys Missiles Fired From Israeli Warships

US-Made Mines Discovered From Tahrir Al-Sham's Abandoned Arms Depot in Quneitra

Lebanon demolishes Syrian refugee shelters as ultimatum expires

Syria says civilians among 15 killed in Israeli missile strikes

Syria writes to UN over repeated Israeli attacks, calls for ‘decisive’ action

Iraq wants Shia militias as ‘indivisible’ part of army

Lebanese military demolishes Syrian refugee settlements in NE Lebanon: Aid groups

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Pakistan

Anti-Taliban Party Official Gunned Down In Pakistan's Peshawar

'Honour Killing': Pakistani Expatriate Kills Nine Members of Family After He Suspects His Wife Was Cheating On Him

Pakistan ex-President Asif Ali Zardari arrested in separate corruption case

Sharif family approached two countries to intervene on their behalf: PM Imran Khan

COAS calls on PM, discusses regional peace

MQM-P again seeks Centre’s intervention in Sindh’s affairs

Six killed, 105 wounded in Taliban attack

Benazir murder charge ‘politically motivated’: Ijaz Shah

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau

URL: http://www.newageislam.com/islamic-world-news/new-age-islam-news-bureau/news-reports-added-‘darul-uloom’-to-the-story-which-is-not-a-fatwa--how-media-misrepresented-a-muslim-cleric’s-statement-about-trinamool-mp-nusrat-jahan/d/119058

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News Reports Added ‘Darul Uloom’ To the Story which is Not a Fatwa: How Media Misrepresented A Muslim Cleric’s Statement About Trinamool MP Nusrat Jahan

Jul 02, 2019

“Fatwa issued against MP Nusrat Jahan by Darul Uloom for marrying non-Muslim, applying Sindoor.” Headlines to this effect kept the print and television media busy over the weekend. The items referred to a fatwa against the newly-elected Trinamool Congress MP who had taken an oath last month wearing sindoor after her marriage to businessman Nikhil Jain.

The news led to an uproar, with politicians and social media users coming out in support of Jahan and condemning the Darul Uloom. The controversy was widely reported by all major news outlets and was a topic of debate on television. India Today referred to the Islamic seminary as the “fatwa-happy Darul Uloom”, while The New Indian Express referred to it as the “fatwa-loving Darul Uloom”.

However, no one with the Darul Uloom whether it had actually issued such a fatwa.

Where is the fatwa?

Darul Uloom, a Islamic religious and academic centre, is located in Deoband, a town in Uttar Pradesh’s Saharanpur district. The institution has an online service where anyone can ask a question and get a fatwa or an opinion from a mufti.

There are two important points to note about fatwas given by Darul Uloom:

1) The institution does not decide on its own to issue a fatwa. A fatwa or opinion is issued only in response to a specific query by an individual.

2) A fatwa is given by a mufti or religious scholar in writing.

In the past, journalists have posed questions to the institution with the sole purpose of creating sensational stories.

In Nusrat Jahan’s case, if there was such a fatwa, it would have been in response to someone seeking their opinion on the matter and it would be in writing. However, none of the media reports carried a copy of the fatwa.

Source of confusion

Alt News found that the controversy did not start with a fatwa but a statement that was reportedly given by a Deoband cleric Asad Qasim.

On the morning of June 28, ABP News quoted the cleric as saying: “I found through the media that Nusrat Jahan, who was recently elected as an MP from Bengal, wore sindoor and mangalsutra in the Parliament. After investigating, I found that she married in the Jain community. In Islam, a Muslim can marry only a Muslim. She works in movies and actors don’t care about customs do it’s pointless to talk about the matter. I am only stating to the media what Sharia says.”

Soon after this, some journalists contacted Bharatiya Janata Party politician “Sadhvi” Prachi for a statement. This is when the Muslim cleric’s opinion was transformed into a fatwa.

The earliest report of the alleged fatwa that Alt News found had been published by News18 Hindi on June 28 at around 4 pm. The media outlet reported BJP leader Prachi’s statement against a fatwa issued by a Deoband Mawlawi or religious scholar. However, News18 did not mention the Mawlawi’s name.

The news subsequently gained pace across mainstream media outlets. Times Now featured Asad Qasim on a television broadcast and promoted it with the Twitter hashtag #NusratVsClerics. Times Now introduced Qasim as a ufti, unlike ABP News, which had referred to him as an ulema.

In the clip below, Asad Qasim can be heard making a statement similar to the one reported by ABP News: “After investigation, we got to know that she married into the Jain religion. Islam says that a Muslim can only marry a Muslim. Second, I want to say that Nusrat Jahan is an actor and I believe these actors do not care about religion. They do what they feel like doing. This is what she did when she came to Parliament with sindoor and mangalsutra. It is a waste of time to talk about this. We cannot interfere in her life. I’m just explaining what Shariat says on the topic through the media.”

Qasim’s statement does not contain any mention of a fatwa. Though the Deoband cleric was explaining his opinions on Sharia law, the Times Now’s broadcast flashed the word “F-A-T-W-A” on television screens.

After this, other news reports added “Darul Uloom” to the story.

The New Indian Express cited Asad Qasim’s statement and published a report on June 29 claiming that a fatwa had been issued by Darul Uloom Deoband in opposition to Nusrat Jahan’s marriage outside her religion. Though the newspaper did not claim that Qasim was a member of Darul Uloom, it nonetheless published an article stating that a fatwa had been issued by the institution.

When Alt News contacted Asad Qasim, he clarified that he is not associated with Darul Uloom Deoband in any manner but used to be a student in the institution. Qasim is currently a ufti in Deoband. He told Alt News that he was approached by two journalists from Aaj Tak and Etv to explain the Sharia perspective on Nusrat Jahan’s choice to apply vermilion and wear a mangalsutra. He gave them his opinion and not a fatwa.

“There’s a difference between a fatwa and a statement,” he said. “A fatwa is akin to an order while a statement is merely an opinion. When someone wants to know Islam’s take on an issue, they send queries and a fatwa is issued after scholars scrutinise the problem and give the corresponding solution according to the Quran. Darul Uloom issues fatwas in writing after it is reviewed by the authorised uftis of the institution. But a misunderstanding has been prevailing lately. Any statement given is propagated by the media as a fatwa.”

He added: “A few media personnel had approached me about Nusrat Jahan. I said that Islam does not give permission to interfere with somebody’s personal life. I can only tell what the scriptures say – a Muslim can marry only a Muslim and a non-Muslim can marry only a non-Muslim. No fatwa has been issued against her [Nurat Jahan], stripping her of her Islamic identity.”

Qasim clarified that while he is authorised to issue a fatwa, he cannot do it on his own volition and without consulting other Muftis.

Alt News was unable to locate the fatwa on Darul Uloom’s website. A senior administration official at Darul Uloom, Ashraf Usmani, confirmed that no fatwa had been issued by the organisation against Nusrat Jahan. “The Indian media is becoming irresponsible,” he said. “They pick up any random maulvi’s statement and portray it as a fatwa issued by Darul Uloom.”

https://scroll.in/article/929093/not-a-fatwa-how-media-misrepresented-a-muslim-clerics-statement-about-trinamool-mp-nusrat-jahan

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Protests Were Held In Around 50 Cities across India Last Week; Protesters in India Condemn Lynching of Muslim Man

07/01/2019

Protests were held in around 50 cities across India last week after a young Muslim man was beaten to death by a mob in the eastern state of Jharkhand.

Tabrez Ansari, 24, was attacked in the night between June 17 and 18. Videos of the lynching show Ansari, tied to a telephone pole, being beaten as the mob accuses him of stealing a motorcycle and forces him to chant "Jai Sri Ram" and "Jai Hanuman" ("Glory to Ram and Hanuman").

The FRANCE 24 Observers team is not sharing footage of Ansari being whipped by the mob, but is including a screenshot below.

Police did not intervene during the attack and detained Ansari for four days before bringing him to the hospital, where he died from his injuries.

Police later arrested 11 individuals involved in the attack. Two officers were suspended.

As videos of the beating began circulating on social media, online users expressed horror at the violence of the mob and the lack of police intervention. Protests were organised using the hashtag #JusticeForTabrez as activists called for Ansari's attackers to be held accountable and for an end to mob violence.

"India is becoming more and more polarized”

Panchali Kar, a Kolkata-based activist who attended the protest on June 26 along with around 200 others, said violence against minorities was becoming "normalised".

When I saw the video, I felt nauseous. I am an atheist, even though I was born Hindu. I don’t think that religious beliefs are important. These protests aim to denounce the violence against minorities that is becoming normalised, with the consent of our political leaders.

Lots of non-Muslims attended these protests to show their support for the Muslim community. In big cities, where there is much more cultural diversity, people understand the importance of living in harmony. But it is quite different outside the big cities.

We are worried after the results of the last elections [Editor’s note: In May, the nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) won by a landslide]. It seems like the BJP's main goal is to build temples to satisfy Hindus.

India is becoming more and more polarised. Muslims, Dalits, independent thinkers and minorities, especially those from the LGBTQ community, face pressure from the Hindutva, or Hindu nationalist groups, which seek to Hindu-ise India. This is not the India that I want to live in.

Muslims in India are a frequent target of lynching. Umar Khalid, an activist with the group United Against Hate, tweeted that the attack on Ansari was the 18th lynching in Jharkhand in three years.

"There were big declarations, but no concrete action was taken”

Khalid, who took part in the protest for Ansari in New Delhi along with 1,000 others, said violence against Muslims has increased in recent years.

The number of violent incidents targeting Muslims has exploded. There have been many attacks against people who sell beef, which Hindus do not eat but which Muslims do.

People were shaken by an incident in the state of Uttar Pradesh in September 2015, during which a mob of around 200 people attacked a man whom they accused of stealing and selling beef. It was the first violent incident of its kind in India, and nothing really changed. The attack on Ansari is unfortunately the latest in a long series of attacks.

"I'm afraid of seeing more photos of lynchings on Facebook"

Confronted with the public outcry, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said in parliament on June 26 that he was "pained" by the attack and added that it was "unfair" to call Jharkhand state a "hub of lynching".

Khalid said Modi's statement "rang false".

Modi often expresses his “sadness” at this kind of situation. But it rang false because he was quick to add that it was unfair to blame all the residents of the region for the violence. He didn’t take action, he just used words to deflect and distract.

These days, I am afraid to open Facebook or Twitter out fear of seeing new images of mob attacks. What is even scarier is seeing how people respond.

A report from the U.S. State Department on religious freedom stated that attacks on Muslims in India continued in 2018, often based on rumors that the victims had "traded or killed cows for beef".

The fact-checking website Factchecker.in has recorded 128 instances of violence against cattle farmers since 2012.

https://observers.france24.com/en/20190701-india-lynching-muslim-man-protests

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Iran Vows to ‘Soon’ Breach Uranium Stockpile Limits, As European Efforts Fall Short

By Loveday Morris

June 29, 2019

MANAMA, Bahrain — European efforts to persuade Iran to stick within the limits of the nuclear deal have been insufficient and the country will breach uranium stockpile limits “soon,” Tehran’s semiofficial Fars News Agency reported Saturday, a move that could further escalate tensions with the United States.

Iran has been threatening to surpass the limit of 300 kilograms (660 pounds) of low-enriched uranium that the country is allowed to possess under the nuclear agreement, unless it receives the sanctions relief that the deal promised in return.

Breaching the limit would be a symbolic move but would not put Iran significantly closer to building a nuclear weapon. The 300-kilogram limit of uranium enriched to 3.67percent is suitable for use in power plants but falls far short of the more than 90percent enriched uranium needed for fissile material in a nuclear bomb.

The move would come against the backdrop of knife-edge tensions in the region, with President Trump last week saying he had been close to launching a strike on Iran after its forces shot down a U.S. surveillance drone in the Strait of Hormuz. The United States has also accused Iran of using magnetic limpet mines to attack petrochemical tankers in the Gulf of Oman — which Tehran denies.

The U.S. Air Force said Friday that it had deployed its most advanced fighter jet, the F-22 Raptor, to the region for the first time to “defend American forces and interests.” It published pictures of the planes landing at Al Udeid Air Base in Qatar a day earlier. 

The United States last year pulled out of the Obama-era nuclear agreement between Tehran and six world powers. Trump, who describes the deal as “rotten,” has since reinstated all sanctions and introduced more, crippling Iran’s economy.

The remaining signatories have attempted to keep the deal alive. But Iran has said that it should no longer be constrained by the terms of the agreement, because it cannot reap any of the benefits as long as international firms worry about violating U.S. sanctions.

European countries say the deal is essential to regional security. Britain, France and Germany have scrambled to launch a complicated barter system in an effort to enable European companies to continue trading with Iran and persuade it to abide by the deal. After a meeting of the remaining signatories Friday in Vienna, the European Union announced that the barter system was operational. Iran had initially welcomed that move as a “positive step” that it would “study.”

On Saturday, an unnamed “informed source” quoted by Fars indicated that the European system had fallen short.

The effort “failed to meet our demands,” the official said. “Iran is determined to cut its commitments to the deal and the 300-kg enriched uranium limit will be soon breached.”

However, Iran’s official news agency, IRNA, did not carry similar statements. An article published by Tasnim, a news outlet close to Iranian hard-liners, questioned whether Iranian President Hassan Rouhani would “fall for the European lollipop again,” indicating that there may still be debate within the Islamic Republic on how to respond.

There is “concern” that the Iranian government will fall for the “defective” move and backtrack from its ultimatum to reduce its commitments to the nuclear deal, the Tasnim article said.  

The barter system is limited in scope and aimed at allowing small- to medium-size businesses to continue trading with Iran, with a focus on essentials such as medicines and humanitarian goods, which are not subject to sanctions.

However, Iran has argued that it should also be allowed to sell oil.

Brian Hook, the U.S. special representative for Iran, told reporters Friday in London that any country purchasing Iranian oil would be subject to sanctions.

Iran had previously threatened to breach the stockpile limits by Thursday, before appearing to wait for the results of Friday’s meeting in Vienna.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/iran-vows-to-soon-breach-uranium-stockpile-limits-as-european-efforts-fall-short/2019/06/29/c906d8b6-9a84-11e9-9a16-dc551ea5a43b_story.html?utm_term=.1c4442245828

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Man Is Charged in Twitter Threat to Lynch Muslim Lawyer

By Jacey Fortin

July 1, 2019

When a Muslim lawyer in Virginia was threatened by a stranger on Twitter last year, he reported it to the social media company and to the federal authorities.

The lawyer, Qasim Rashid, had no idea who had written the tweet in March 2018, which included an image of a man who had been lynched, along with the words: “View your destiny.”

But last week Mr. Rashid, 36, now a Democratic candidate for a seat in Virginia’s State Senate, learned the identity of the man who, federal prosecutors say, was behind the threat.

In an indictment filed in the United States District Court for the Western District of North Carolina on June 20, Joseph Cecil Vandevere of Black Mountain, N.C., was charged with issuing a threat via interstate commerce, which carries a maximum prison sentence of five years.

A warrant has been issued for Mr. Vandevere, 52, who had not been arrested as of Monday night, according to the United States Attorney’s Office for the district. He could not be reached on Monday evening, and it was unclear whether he had a lawyer.

The account from which the threat was posted has been suspended. A Twitter spokesman said the company would not comment on individual accounts for privacy and security reasons.

Mr. Rashid, who moved to the United States from Pakistan with his family in 1987, had seen threatening language like that before. “I don’t know if my experience is necessarily unique,” he said. “As a person of color, as an immigrant and as a Muslim, to speak publicly about your faith and to receive death threats is not uncommon.”

According to a screenshot of the tweet, which Mr. Rashid shared on his own account, the threat included the words “Muslim scum” and showed a black-and-white picture of a man hanging by a rope. (That man appeared to be Leo Frank, a Jewish factory manager who was lynched by a mob in Georgia in 1915. According to the Library of Congress, his case is “widely regarded as a flash point of anti-Semitism” in the United States.)

Last month, Mr. Rashid won the Democratic primary for the District 28 seat in the State Senate. In November, he will challenge Richard Stuart, the Republican incumbent, who was first elected in 2007. Mr. Rashid is campaigning on a range of issues including passing the Equal Rights Amendment, expanding health care access, reforming criminal justice and increasing education funding.

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/07/01/us/muslim-candidate-lynch-tweet.html

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U.S. Tells Europe: Choose Between Us and Iran, As New Trading System Launches

By Loveday Morris

June 28, 2019

MANAMA, Bahrain — The U.S. special representative for Iran said Friday that European companies have a choice: Do business with the United States or do business with Iran, as Europe announced that a new system to allow trade with Tehran was in place.

The comments by Brian Hook came as European countries made a last-ditch effort to prevent Iran from breaching the terms of the 2015 nuclear deal, a move that could add to soaring tensions in the Persian Gulf.

Europe has been scrambling to come up with a mechanism to persuade Iran to stay within the limits of the deal, as Tehran complains that it no longer sees the economic benefit of the accord after the Trump administration pulled out and reimposed sanctions on the nation. Iran has indicated that if it does not receive some form of sanctions relief, it plans to exceed the limit of 300 kilograms (660 pounds) of low-enriched uranium that the country is allowed to possess under the nuclear agreement.

That threat added urgency to efforts by Britain, France and Germany to set up a complex barter system that would allow some trade with Iran to continue in order to keep Tehran from breaching the deal. The system is now operational, senior E.U. diplomat Helga Schmid said after a meeting of officials from the remaining E.U. signatories in Vienna on Friday. She said she expected more E.U. countries to join.

European officials argue that maintaining the nuclear deal is crucial for regional stability. The United States has blamed Iran and its proxies for recent provocations in the Persian Gulf region, including attacks on petrochemical tankers in the Gulf of Oman and the downing of a U.S. surveillance drone over the Strait of Hormuz. Iran has denied involvement in the tanker attacks.

A U.S. official confirmed Friday that the United States had concluded that a May 14 drone attack on an oil pipeline in Saudi Arabia, originally thought to have been carried out by Houthi rebels in Yemen, had in fact been launched from Iraq. Iraq is home to numerous Iran-backed militias.

An Iraqi military spokesman declined to comment. The U.S. assessment was first reported by the Wall Street Journal.

Since the recent attacks, the United States has ramped up sanctions against Iran, which it had reinstated after withdrawing from the nuclear deal last year.

It is unclear if the European efforts to set up the alternative trading system to persuade Iran to stay within the deal’s stockpile limits will work. The key test — whether the barter system can succeed in processing a transaction — remains ahead.

 Iran’s deputy foreign minister, Abbas Araghchi, described the development as “positive” but said there is still a “gap” with Iran’s expectations under the deal, including the ability to sell oil. Tehran will study the development and make a decision on how to proceed, he said.

The Trump administration has been critical of the program, which it sees as an attempt to evade its sanctions. Speaking to reporters in London, Hook said the United States was willing to intensify sanctions, which he said would continue until Iran becomes a “normal” state.

“We will sanction any imports of Iranian crude oil,” he said, according to Reuters, adding that the United States was looking into reports of Iranian crude going to China.

Before pulling out last year, President Trump repeatedly denounced the deal, reached during the Obama administration between Iran and six world powers, including the United States, calling it “rotten.”

Meeting Friday with Chancellor Angela Merkel at the Group of 20 summit in Osaka, Japan, Trump urged the German leader to join the United States in keeping up “maximum” pressure on Iran, the White House said.

But Europe is doubling down on the nuclear deal. Austria, Belgium, Finland, the Netherlands, Slovenia, Spain and Sweden released a statement Friday stressing the importance of preserving the pact, describing it as a “major contribution to stability in the region.”

Iran has expressed skepticism about whether the European barter system, known as Instex, can give it sufficient economic benefit to stay in the deal but has described it as the “last chance.”

If the barter system fails to “meet Iran’s demands within the framework for the nuclear deal,” then Iran will “take the next steps more decisively,” Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi told state television Friday.

Instex is aimed at shielding from U.S. sanctions small- to medium-size European companies that want to trade with Iran. It will initially focus on essential goods not subject to the sanctions, such as humanitarian, medical and agricultural products.

A new round of U.S. sanctions, targeting Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, and other senior Iranian officials, was announced by Washington on Monday.

Trump has said that after the downing of the U.S. Navy drone, which Iran said it hit with a surface-to-air missile, he was prepared to order a military strike against Iran. He said he called it off at the last minute because it would have inflicted disproportionate Iranian casualties.

U.S. officials have indicated that they would like to see Iran abide by the terms of the nuclear deal even though the United States withdrew from it. “Our sanctions do not give Iran the right to accelerate its nuclear program,” Hook said before a meeting in Paris on Thursday. “It can never get near a nuclear bomb.”

An Iranian breach of the stockpile limit would not put it significantly closer to building a nuclear weapon, but it would strike another blow to the tattered deal. The stockpile of uranium enriched to 3.67 percent is suitable for use as fuel in nuclear power plants but far short of the weapons-grade level of more than 90 percent needed for fissile material in a nuclear bomb.

On Thursday, Iranian media reported that Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif sent a letter to European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini urging European signatories to stick by their commitments under the deal, with Iran’s next steps depending on that.

Mustafa Salim in Baghdad contributed to this report.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/us-tells-europe-choose-between-us-or-iran/2019/06/28/94dc120c-9996-11e9-916d-9c61607d8190_story.html?utm_term=.71c5779a991d

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Libyan National Army: Turkey Supports Terrorists, Directly Interferes In Libya

Jun. 29, 2019

CAIRO – 29 June 2019: The Libyan National Army has accused the Turkish regime of supporting terrorist groups in Libya.

The army announced in a statement that Libyan National Army is fighting against armed terrorists on Libyan territories, while a Turkish logistic support has been offered to terrorist elements since years ago.

The statement added that the Turkish support to the elements has evolved to a direct interference using military aircrafts to transport mercenaries, as well as ships carrying weapons, armored vehicles and ammunition to support terrorism in Libya.

The Libyan National Army has released instructions to air forces to target Turkish ships and boats inside regional waters.

The interim Libyan government demanded to fire all Turkish companies working in Libya, end their contracts, boycott Turkish products and industries, and suspend civil flights from and to Tukey via Libyan airlines in response to the Turkish terrorist aggression.

https://www.egypttoday.com/Article/2/72230/Libyan-National-Army-Turkey-supports-terrorists-directly-interferes-in-Libya

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Utrecht Tram Shooter Accused of Terrorism Tells Judges: ‘I Did It for My Faith’

July 1, 2019

The man who shot dead four people and wounded two others on a tram in Utrecht in March has appeared at a preliminary court hearing. Gökmen Tanis, 37, is accused of four counts of murder with a terrorist motive. At the start of the hearing he told judges he refused to be represented by a lawyer because ‘I’m not a democrat and I don’t recognise your courts.’ Tanis opened fire on a packed tram near the city’s central station just before 10am on March 18. He was arrested later that day told police he acted alone. The trial is likely to revolve around the issue of whether he was a committed Islamic terrorist or a serial criminal and drug user with diminished responsibility. Appearing in handcuffs and flanked by six police officers, Tanis refused to stand when the judges entered the courtroom and interrupted them as they outlined the case. When chairman of the judges, Ruud Veldhuisen, referred to ‘the accusations’ against him, Tanis corrected him: ‘Not accusations, I’ve already confessed.’ The prosecution service said Tanis was a known offender who was awaiting trial for rape when he carried out the attack, but there were no indications at that point that he had been radicalised. However, they added that his behaviour during the attack and statements he made to the police strongly indicated he had terrorist sympathies. ‘I’m doing this for my faith. You are killing my fellow believers,’ he said at one point. The prosecution said Tanis wrote a message on the silencer of his gun, in what may have been an imitation of Brandon Tarrant, who shot dead 51 people at a mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand, three days earlier. The court has banned media organisations from recording or broadcasting T’s voice and is using a computer-generated reconstruction of the scenes on board the tram because the live footage is too distressing for victims. ‘It’s not surprising that the people who were on the tram have suffered from anxiety every day since,’ said the prosecutor. ‘Some of them literally had to flee for their lives. It is important for them to know what the motive was.’ Tanis will undergo a psychological assessment at the Pieter Baan Centrum before the next hearing, which is scheduled for September 23. The full trial is expected to take place early next year.

https://www.dutchnews.nl/news/2019/07/utrecht-tram-shooter-tells-judges-i-did-it-for-my-faith/

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Myanmar to Send Delegation To Rohingya Camps In Bangladesh

Jul 1, 2019

Myanmar says it is sending a high-level delegation to overcrowded Rohingya camps in Bangladesh concerning the return of the refugees to their ethnic homeland of Rakhine state.

Myanmar's UN Ambassador Hau Do Suan told a General Assembly meeting on Monday that his government will "dispatch a high level delegation to Cox's Bazar very soon, by the end of July, to explain to the displaced people the arrangements made for the repatriation and resettlement."

The ambassador said some 30,000 Rohingya had requested to return, of whom about 13,200 have been verified as former residents and "can return to Rakhine anytime."

UN Ambassador to Myanmar Christine Schraner-Burgener, however, complained that progress to address the refugee crisis has been far too slow.

"The only viable solution for the refugees is the safe, voluntary and dignified repatriation to Myanmar," she said, adding, "And the key responsibility for creating conducive conditions in Rakhine lies with Myanmar."

Myanmar has faced international pressure to allow the Rohingya Muslims to return to Rakhine and grant them citizenship rights.

The Rohingya Muslims were subjected to a campaign of killings, rape, arbitrary arrests, and arson attacks by the military and Buddhist mobs in Rakhine mainly between late 2016 and August 2017.

The brutal campaign described by the UN as ethnic cleansing forced Some 740,000 Rohingya to flee their homeland since August 2017 and seek refuge in neighboring Bangladesh. There, they are confined to squalid, overcrowded camps and face forced return back to Myanmar.

Last month, Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina strongly denounced Myanmar for delays in the repatriation of persecuted Rohingya Muslim refugees who fled violence in the neighboring country about two years ago.

A recent report by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations emergency response team also gave a glowing assessment of Myanmar’s efforts to entice Rohingya refugees back.

The two governments of Bangladesh and Myanmar signed a repatriation deal in November 2017, yet so far virtually no Rohingya have volunteered to return.

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2019/07/01/599906/Myanmar-Bangladesh-Rohingya

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Penataran Temple Ceremony Embraces West Java's History of Religious Syncretism

July 2, 2019

ASIP HASANI

Tumpeng Agung Nusantara, a traditional ceremony held at the Penataran temple complex in Blitar, East Java, on Thursday, brought together Javanese, Hindu and Islamic cultures in a lavish celebration featuring food, dance and prayers.

The annual event, held since 2012, this year featured the attendance of religious and spiritual leaders. It was initiated by the Nusantara Cultural Preservation and Protection Foundation, a group based in Blitar and motored by spiritual communities whose primary concern is to foster open-mindedness among the local spirituality and major religions in Java, such as Hinduism, Buddhism and Islam.

“This is an extraordinary and noble event [in which] we, regardless of our religions, celebrate our ancestors’ heritage. Although this is a Hindu temple, it still brings out the sterling values of our ancestors,” Blitar Regent Rijanto said.

Rijanto said Tumpeng Agung Nusantara could be successfully run yearly despite only getting limited funds from the government.

Event committee head Aris Sugito said that Penataran temple was built in the 12th century.

“Penataran temple functioned as a great temple of the Majapahit kingdom, which ruled over almost every part of the archipelago. Therefore, this is not an exclusive temple for Hindu people, rather, it also for other religions and spiritual beliefs in the archipelago,” he said.

Penataran temple was made famous in 1815 by Sir Thomas Raffles, an English colonial government general. The story of Penataran, located 12 kilometers north of Blitar, is told in Raffles’ book The History of Java.

A Malang State University historian with expertise in archaeology, Ferry Riyandika, said the temple was used to worship the mountain gods of Mount Kelud.

He said Penataran remained important in the post-Majapahit era, even to the Islamic kingdoms that ruled over the archipelago.

“Therefore, we can say that Penataran temple has been owned by many dynasties and groups since long ago,” Ferry told The Jakarta Post on Friday.

Ferry also said that the reliefs on the walls of one of the temple buildings told local stories, instead of expressing Indian Hindu values. Other stories include that of the prince Panji and of two brothers, Bubhuksah and Gagang Aking. (gis/kes)

https://www.thejakartapost.com/life/2019/07/02/penataran-temple-ceremony-embraces-west-javas-history-of-religious-syncretism.html

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India

 

No dress code for visitors at Bada Imambada in Lucknow

Jul 02, 2019

District magistrate Kaushal Raj Sharma on Monday clarified that there was no dress code for visitors at Bada Imambada, nor was there any compulsion to cover one’s head.

“People are free to come in whatever attire they want to and there is no compulsion on visitors to cover their head. Guards or any other employee at the historic structure have no right to deny entry to people for not covering their head,” states the clarification issue by Sharma.

The clarification came in response to Sharma’s alleged statement recently, saying vulgarity would not be allowed at Bada Imambada — a centrally protected structure that serves as a shrine for Shia Muslims.

Besides, the district magistrate had also imposed a ban on ‘illegal’ photo and video shoots to honour the religious sanctity of the over-220-year-old architectural marvel that was constructed by Nawab Asaf-ud-Daulah.

Sharma said his earlier statement was misinterpreted.

“I meant that since it’s a religious place, visitors should be dressed in a decent way so that it may not hurt ones religious sentiments. However, there is no dress code for visitors at Bada Imambada. They are free to come in any attire they want,” said Sharma, who heads Hussainabad and Allied Trust (HAT) that is the custodian of the Bada Imambada.

Sharma further said that a notice regarding the same would be displayed at the entry of iconic structure.

However, he said the ban on ‘illegal’ photo and video shoots at the heritage structure stood. “No professional photography or video shoot would be allowed on the premises of Bada Imambada without obtaining prior permission from HAT,” he said.

On May 6, Shia clerics and city’s heritage enthusiasts had written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi demanding a check on pre- and post-wedding shoots at Bada Imambara.

Besides, they demanded a ban on misuse of the structure.

Their reaction came after some pictures of a pre-wedding shoot at the structure went viral on internet.

On Facebook, a majority of people termed the shoot obscene and ‘un-Islamic’ and demanded that such shoots be banned at religious places like Bara Imambada.

https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/no-dress-code-for-visitors-at-bada-imambada-in-lucknow/story-RwBAM0YMiYQZtxgj2pDaBJ.html

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Malegaon: Over 1 lakh Muslims protest, seek anti-lynching law

July 2, 2019

On Monday, 97 years after seven freedom fighters were hanged by the British, Malegaon’s “Shahidon ki Yaadgaar” (martyrs’ memorial) monument witnessed an equally important historic event, according to the organisers, with at least 1 lakh people from the Muslim community congregating at the historical site in response to a call for a law against mob lynching.

Calling it the first rally by the community to protest mob lynching, the organisers said the killing of Tabrez Ansari, 24, from Jharkhand, was the final trigger.

Clerics of Jamiat Ulema, the umbrella NGO which called for the silent protest, urged governments to take note that on a “weak call” the entire textile town had “come out to safeguard the Constitution”. They said, “We do not seek revenge, and don’t believe in violence. We believe in the rule of law.”

The rally had people merging at Malegaon fort before making their way to the martyrs’ monument.

The speeches were fiery, and often emotional, with appeals made to the police administration and state and Central governments to pay heed to the Constitution. The crowd was also asked to spread the message among Muslims that the “victims of lynchings should not show helplessness in chanting Jai Shri Ram; instead, they should die by taking the Sahadat”.

Maulana Umrain Mahfouz Rahmani, secretary, All-India Muslim Personal Law Board, told The Indian Express: “The issue (mob lynching) has pierced our hearts; there seems to be no end. Ab bardaash ke bhi bahar hai (now it’s unbearable)…. Muslims are unlike other communities. If any other community was the target, they would have responded by now. Largely, the entire faith responds to the elders and clerics.”

He said, “We are doing our best and holding them together, convincing them, asking them to show restraint, praying with them. But now even we are being tested. In Pehlu Khan’s case, the way the government machinery behaved was heart-breaking —- in most cases there are no FIRs and then our community has to watch photographs and videos of the lynching; then see the accused being garlanded by ministers..”

At the protest venue, Rahmani delivered a fiery speech: “Today’s historical rally is enough to tell the entire country that Muslims will not tolerate oppression for long. We say it clearly: mob lynching is a mobilised murder and is being spread according to a well-devised plan. This is state and non-state terrorism, and it is obligatory on all citizens to stop terrorism. In the pure land of Sita, we can (now) hear footsteps of Ravan, and it is our collective responsibility to stop this.”

In a letter submitted to the Maharashtra administration, the community has urged the President to write to all state governments and Union Territories about lynchings and remind the state heads of their constitutional duties. There is also a demand for Rs 50 lakh compensation to the family of each victim of mob lynching.

Malegaon’s Mufti Mohammed Ismail Qasmi evoked the words of the poet Fayaz as he said, “Aaj agar nishane mein hum hain, toh doosre logon ko khush nahi hona chahiye (if today we are being targetted others should not be happy about that)”

Full report at:

https://indianexpress.com/article/india/malegaon-over-1-lakh-muslims-protest-seek-anti-lynching-law-5809870/

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Tabrez lynching: Jamiat Ulema files petition in Jharkhand HC

By Rasia Hashmi

Jul 02, 2019

New Delhi: Jamiat Ulama has braced itself to provide justice to Tabrez Ansari who was mob lynched in Jharkhand. On the direction of President Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind Maulana Arshad Madani, a writ petition was filed in Jharkhand High Court demanding immediate implementation of Supreme Court’s order and putting the errant police officers and doctors on trial. It also demanded compensation of 50 lakh to Ansari’s widow. The body sought hearing of the case in fast track court.

Full report at:

https://www.siasat.com/news/tabrez-lynching-jamiat-ulema-files-petition-jharkhand-hc-1533408/

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Zaira’s decision is ‘praiseworthy’, Hindu actress should take inspiration: Swami Chakrapani

Jul 01, 2019

A day after Dangal actress Zaira Wasim announced quitting Bollywood, her decision did not go down well with many personalities who think otherwise.

However, Akhil Bhartiya Hindu Mahasabha president Swami Chakrapani surprised everyone after he said Hindu actresses should take inspiration from the 18-year-old, India today reports.

While other personalities have criticized, called her names, Swami Chakrapani has come out in support of her asking Hindu actresses to follow suit.

He tweeted, “Actress Zaira’s (Wasim) decision to withdraw from films is praiseworthy. Hindu actresses should also take inspiration from Zaira.”

Yesterday, the national award-winning young role model’s decision to exit Bollywood’s limelight has become sensational news over the internet with many coming to her support.

Full report at:

https://www.siasat.com/news/zaira-wasims-decision-praiseworthy-hindu-actress-should-take-inspiration-swami-chakrapani-1532678/

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Modi govt. mute spectator to mob lynching incidents: Shahi Imam

By Rasia Hashmi

Jul 01, 2019

Delhi: Attacking the Narendra Modi-led NDA government at the Centre over rising incidents of mob lynching and the alleged killing of Muslims in the name of cow protection, the Shahi Imam of Delhi’s famous Jama Masjid, Syed Ahmed Bukhari said that the government has become a mute spectator to such incidents.

Referring to the chargesheet filed by the Congress government in Rajasthan against 2017 Alwar mob lynching victim Pehlu Khan and his two sons on charges of cattle smuggling, the Shahi Imam in a press release issued by his office, said, ”people are making a mockery of the law and the government is doing nothing to stop such elements.”

Shahi Imam added that Muslims in India were suffering due to the discriminatory attitude of the government. He expressed concern saying that an Indian Muslim is fighting a war every day for his survival, as he is being threatened, suppressed and terrorized every day.

Warning that Muslims are now running out of patience, Shahi Imam sought stern action against mob lynching and alleged atrocities on minorities, including Dalits and Muslims in India.

He also slammed the Rajasthan government for filing the chargesheet against Pehlu Khan, who was killed by a violent mob of cow vigilantes in Alwar in 2017 on suspicion of cow smuggling.

Full report at:

https://www.siasat.com/news/modi-govt-mute-spectator-mob-lynching-incidents-shahi-imam-1532326/

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Tabrez Ansari: 18th person to be brutally lynched in past 3 years in Jharkhand

By Safoora

Jul 01, 2019

RANCHI: Tabrez Ansari lynching by self-styled vigilantes is the 18th incident in the past three years in Jharkhand.

Dozens of innocents lives have been lost because of the unabated spate of mob violence triggered by a variety of factors ranging from suspicion of carrying beef, cow slaughter, cattle theft or child-lifting rumours.

LATEHAR LYNCHING 2016

The first mob lynching in Jharkhand refers to the case of lynching of two Muslim cattle traders in Latehar district.

On 18 March 2016, 12-years-old Imteyaz Khan and 32-years-old Mazlum Ansari were brutally assaulted and then hanged from a tree by a mob of self-appointed gau rakshaks in Khaprelwar village of Latehar district.

Eight people were convicted and awarded life imprisonment by the sessions court in December 19, 2018. Each of them was also slapped with a fine of Rs 25,000.

RAMGARH LYNCHING 2017

On June 29, 2017, 40-year-old Alimuddin alias Asgar Ali lynched by a mob of over 100 led by supporters of Bajrang Dal and the local cow protection committee on the suspicion that he was allegedly carrying beef in his car in the Bazaar Tand locality of Jharkhand’s Ramgarh town. The fringe group had also set ablaze his Maruti Van in the busy market place.

On March 21, a fast track court here sentenced 11 accused, including BJP leader Nityanand Mahto to life imprisonment in connection with the lynching Alimuddin.

SHOBHAPUR LYNCHING 2017

On May 18, 2017, four men, Sheik Haleem,Sheik Nayeem, Mohammed Sajjad and Siraj Khan, all residents of Haldipokhar were lynched over rumours of child lifting in Shobhapur and Padnamsai. A fast-track court in July 2018 convicted and sentenced 12 people to four years’ rigorous imprisonment for “obstructing and attacking government officials on duty, attacking with deadly weapons, trespassing into other’s house, disturbing law and order, breaking public peace”.

GODDA LYNCHING 2018

On June 13, 2018, two Muslim men Sirabuddin Ansari (35) and Murtaza Ansari (30) allegedly beaten to death by a mob over suspicions that they were stealing buffaloes.

A video of the mob’s attack surfaced on social media that showed brutality inflicted on the men by the villagers. Four people have been arrested and later registered two cases-one against the murderer of Murtuza and Sirabuddin and another against three others people with Ansari who managed to flee the scene. The matter is at evidence stage pending trial.

PALAMU LYNCHING 2019

On March, 2019, 22-year-old Abdul Vakil Khan was lynched by a mob in Palamu after he and his 20 year-old brother Danish Khan confronted the youths who were teasing their sister.

In the incident, Vakil died of internal injuries after hit with a rod on his chest, while Danish sustained serious injuries.

TABREZ LYNCHING 2019

On June 18, 2019 Tabrez Ansari, 22, succumbed to his injuries allegedly being mercilessly beaten up by a mob merely on the basis of suspicion of attempted burglary in Saraikela Kharsawanand area of Jamshedpur in Jharkhand.

The Pune-based welder was tied to a pole and was beaten up mercilessly for hours and instructed to chant ‘Jai Shri Ram’ and ‘Jai Hanuman’ before being handed over to the police.

In Jharkhand, Dalits too have been the targets. The same is the case with Adivasis and Christians.

Full report at:

https://www.siasat.com/news/tabrez-ansari-18th-person-be-brutally-lynched-past-3-years-jharkhand-1532044/

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I feel like crying: Ex-Union Minister Arif Khan on fatwa against Nusrat Jahan

Jun 30, 2019

New Delhi: Former Union Minister Arif Mohammad Khan on Sunday came out in support of TMC MP Nusrat Jahan after a fatwa was issued against her recently.

Speaking to ANI Arif said, "Is working in films allowed in Islam? Instead of reacting to the issue of the fatwa against Jahan, I feel like crying. Are those declaring fatwa are God? These are the people who spread hatred. They give fatwa so that they can get reactions of others."

A fatwa was issued by a cleric against Jahan for her "un-Islamic" attire in Parliament on June 25, when she took oath as an MP.

Meanwhile, Arif, while commenting on allegations of cow smuggling on Pehlu Khan, who was allegedly lynched to death by a mob in Alwar in 2017, said, "I read about allegations against Pehlu Khan. I don't want to speak much about it but I am saddened by it."

While reports claimed that Khan and his sons were booked for smuggling cattle, Alwar Superintendent of Police (SP) Anil Paris Deshmukh clarified that Khan's name was dropped from the charge sheet after his death.

Full report at:

https://www.asianage.com/india/all-india/300619/i-feel-like-crying-ex-union-minister-arif-khan-on-fatwa-against-nusrat-jahan.html

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Lathicharge on people protesting Tabrez lynching, over 24 hurt; police says 850 booked, situation normal

by AMIT SHARMA

July 2, 2019

A day after the police resorted to lathicharge in Meerut Sunday evening to disperse hundreds of protesters demanding martyr status for Tabrez Ansari, a victim of mob lynching in a Jharkhand jail on June 21, the police had to wield batons once again in Mawana town,around 20 km from here,to break up a crowd outside a mosque Monday.

The protesters at Mawana was also demanding that Tabrez be declared a martyr and that adequate compensation should be given to the family members of the deceased.

The local administration in Meerut suspended Internet services for the whole day on Monday to curb rumour mongering following Sunday evening’s tension. The police registered cases against nearly 850 persons (50 named, 800 unidentified) in five police stations of Meerut while the police in Mawana town has filed FIR against dozens on Monday.

In Mawana,hundreds gathered at a mosque on Mill Road Monday morning where the Shahr Qazi, Maulana Nafis Ahmed, also condemned the Jharkhand incident. The crowd then wanted to go out as a procession to present a memorandum in this connection but the police denied permission.The mob protested violently and the police used force to disperse the crowd, sources said.

Divisional Commissioner Anita Meshram held meetings with senior officials and BJP legislators Monday afternoon. BJP MLAs Satya Prakash Agarwal and Somedra Tomar were present in the meeting, in which Meshram too emphasised that no one should be allowed to vitiate the atmosphere.

In Meerut, chief of a local outfit, Yuwa Sewa Samiti, Badar Ali, had sought permission for taking out a peace march Sunday evening to pay homage to Ansari from a college on Dehi Road but was denied permission on the plea that assemblage may lead to trouble as section 144 CR.PC has already been promulgated (assembly of more than four persons at a point unlawful). However, the outfit went ahead with the programme.

The Shahr Qazi,Zainus Sajjidin and Badar Ali have addressed a crowd of several hundred people in the college Sunday. “Mob lynching incidents which started from Dadri (victim Mohammed Akhlaq, September 2015), followed by Rajasthan (Pehlu Khan, April 2017) are on the rise and now Ansari has died in Jharkhand. The governments in these states should ensue adequate security for the people,” said Zainus Sajjidin while demanding the the Jharkhand victim be given the status of a martyr and that adequate compensation should be given to his family members.

“We had denied permission for Sunday’s march, yet the organisers went ahead with their plan and took to Meerut’s streets, protesting the Jharkhand incident. We tried to restrain them but the crowd attacked policemen, forcing us to use mild force. Five policemen were injured at three different places,” said Akhilesh Narain Singh, SP (city), Meerut.

“We tried to control the crowd and told them that that we have decided to end the peace march at the college itself but they went ahead. At least two dozen in the crowd have suffered injuries in the police action. We have also submitted a memorandum demanding the status of the martyr for Ansari,” said Badar Ali, chief of Yuwa Sewa Samiti.

The five police stations where FIRs were filed are Delhi Gate, Civil Lines, Kotwali, Lisadi Gate and Nauchandi. “The FIRs were lodged under 14 sections of the IPC and the NSA will also be invoked on those who are being identified by us through available mobile videos to us.Those who have took out the procession without valid permission will be dealt with a stern hand,” said Meerut SSP

Full report at:

https://indianexpress.com/article/india/lathicharge-on-people-protesting-tabrez-lynching-over-24-hurt-police-says-850-booked-situation-normal-5810226/

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Mideast

 

Anger grows over Israel’s controversial al-Quds dig in presence of US officials

Jul 2, 2019

Palestinians and several organizations have condemned the inauguration of a highly contentious tunnel built by the Israeli regime at an archaeological site in occupied East Jerusalem al-Quds and the attendance of American officials at the event.

On Sunday, US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman and President Donald Trump’s Middle East envoy Jason Greenblatt along with Sara Netanyahu, wife of the Israeli Prime Minister, wielded sledgehammers to break open the so-called “Path of Pilgrims,” which lies underneath the Palestinian Silwan neighborhood.

“Were there any doubts about the accuracy, the wisdom, the propriety of President Trump recognizing Jerusalem (al-Quds) as the capital of Israel, I certainly think this lays all doubts to rest,” he said.

In a statement issued on Monday, the Palestinian Foreign Ministry strongly condemned “the colonialist plans to replace the existing reality in occupied Jerusalem (al-Quds) and the environs of the Old City.”

It also denounced the presence of American officials at the ceremony as a hostile act against the Palestinians.

“The administration of President Donald Trump proves day by day its ... unlimited affiliation to the colonial settlement project led by the extremist right in the state of the occupation,” it added.

The Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) also slammed the US officials’ participation in the event, saying Friedman and Greenblatt “were not American diplomats, they were extremist fanatic Israeli settlers.”

PLO Secretary General Saeb Erekat said the pair had hurled insults at international law “by blessing a project of settlers that has dispossessed dozens of Palestinian families nearby Al-Aqsa Mosque compound.”

He further called on all Arab and Muslim leaders to condemn in strongest terms the provocations of Greenblatt and Friedman and the threats their actions pose to the Palestinians and the Al-Aqsa Mosque.

The tunnel, he added, is “a settlement project” based on “a lie that has nothing to do with history.” Israelis say the now-subterranean path served as a pilgrimage route to the al-Aqsa Mosque compound, known to Jews as Temple Mount, some 2,000 years ago.

In addition, the Gaza-based Hamas resistance movement in a statement Tuesday described Friedman’s participation in the ceremony as “aggressive behavior that violates all diplomatic norms and puts the international laws at risk.”

“This criminal act reflects the US position, which totally supports the Israeli occupation,” it added.

The resistance group also held those who joined a recent US-sponsored Bahrain conference responsible for Washington’s “disdain for Jerusalem (al-Quds) and its holy sites.”

The workshop, meant to promote a “deal” on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, was held in Manama on June 25-26 despite a Palestinian boycott.

Arab League, Al-Azhar join Palestinians

Moreover, the Arab League condemned Israel’s opening of the so-called “Road of Pilgrims” as a flagrant violation of international law.

Saeed Abu Ali, Arab League’s assistant secretary general for Palestine and occupied Arab lands, said the participation of American officials in the inauguration of the tunnel proves the Trump administration’s “absolute bias and full adoption of these settlement projects in violation of international consensus and legitimacy.”

He also warned of the serious consequences of continued Israeli excavations in occupied Jerusalem al-Quds.

Similarly, Egypt’s Al-Azhar, which is the foremost religious institution for Sunni Muslims, criticized Israel’s attempts to alter the identity of Jerusalem al-Quds and Al-Aqsa Mosque.

In a statement, Al-Azhar urged all countries to adopt decisive positions in order to stop Israel’s repeated disregard for the rights of the Palestinian people, their land and holy sites.

It further reiterated its firm opposition to any measures that would infringe the rights of the Palestinian people to establish their independent state with Jerusalem al-Quds as its capital.

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2019/07/02/599941/Israel-Palestine-Jerusalem

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USCIRF Calls on Houthi Court in Yemen to Overturn Death Sentence for Religious Prisoner of Conscience Hamid bin Haydara

July 1, 2019

WASHINGTON, DC – Andy Khawaja, Commissioner on the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), today called on the Houthi appellate court to overturn the death sentence, to drop all charges, and to release religious prisoner of conscience Hamid bin Haydara at tomorrow’s hearing. A member of Yemen’s Baha’i community, Mr. Haydara was sentenced to death in January 2018 on charges that include apostasy.

"Mr. Haydara’s case is an egregious violation of justice based on the Houthis’ intolerance of Baha’is and other religious minorities in Yemen,” said Khawaja, who advocates on behalf of Mr. Haydara as part of USCIRF’s Religious Prisoners of Conscience Project. “He has been deprived of his liberty and dignity simply because he had been seeking to live according to his beliefs.”

On December 3, 2013, Houthi authorities arrested and detained Mr. Haydara, holding him without charges in a prison for more than a year. In January 2015, he was charged falsely with spying for Israel, teaching literacy classes deemed incompatible with Islam and attempting to convert Muslims. A judge sentenced Mr. Haydara to death on January 2, 2018. He is one of six prominent Yemeni Baha’i leaders currently detained on spurious charges.

Full report at:

https://www.uscirf.gov/news-room/press-releases-statements/uscirf-calls-houthi-court-in-yemen-overturn-death-sentence

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Israel Strikes Iranian Targets in Syria, Report Says; 16 Killed, 21 Wounded

Jul 01, 2019

Sixteen people including a baby were killed and 21 were wounded by an Israeli attack on multiple Syrian and Iranian targets on the outskirts of Damascus and Homs, Syrian state-run al-Ikhbariya broadcaster reported, citing its correspondent.

Israeli warplanes fired missiles at Syria that targeted Syrian military positions in Homs and Sahnaya, south of Damascus, the Syrian military said on Monday.

Meanwhile, Turkish-held Cyprus said a Syrian anti-aircraft missile that was fired at Israeli jets landed north of Nicosia. No casualties were reported.

"The first assessment is that a Russian-made missile, part of the air defense system, which was part of the air defense system that took place last night in the face of an air strike against Syria, completed its range and fell into our country after it missed," Turkish Cypriot Foreign Minister Kudret Ozersay said in a social media post.

The object hit a mountainside north of the capital Nicosia.

Syrian air defenses confronted the attack, which was launched from Lebanese airspace, the Syrian defense ministry said in a brief report on its Telegram feed.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said 16 people were killed, among them three children and ten Iranian militias and Hezbollah members. The observatory added that the Israeli Navy also took part in the strike, targeting ten Hezbollah bases, including compounds that were used by Iran's Revolutionary Guards.

SANA said the dead included a baby and that other children were among the wounded in Sahnaya. It was unclear whether the civilians were killed in the strike or in the resulting blasts.

Social media pages affiliated with the Assad regime have been sharing posts saying a man named Anas Albiat and his wife Rama Arnaout. along with their infant son, were killed in the strike.  

According to the observatory, among the sites hit were Revolutionary Guards' compounds south of Damascus, a strategic research center northwest of Damascus, Hezbollah facilities near the Syrian-Lebanese border, where large fires were reported after several arms depots were hit.

In addition, a research center in Homs was reportedly struck, in addition to an airbase south of Homs that serves Iranian and Hezbollah forces.

The Israeli army has yet to comment on the incident.

Syrian state TV station al-Ikhbariya, citing its correspondent, said the pressure of explosions over Damascus had caused damage to some homes in Sahnaya, south of the capital, breaking glass and slightly injuring a number of people.

State news agency SANA cited its correspondent as saying Syrian air defenses had brought down a number of the missiles.

In recent years, Israel has carried out hundreds of strikes in Syria that it says have targeted its regional arch foe, Iran, and the Lebanese Hezbollah group, which it calls the biggest threat to its borders.

Iran and Hezbollah are fighting on the side of President Bashar Assad in the Syrian war, and Israel says they are trying to turn Syria into a new front against Israelis.

On June 12, SANA reported that Syrian Air Defenses thwarted an Israeli attack on Tal al-Hara in southern Syria and shot down a number of missiles.

Located in Daraa Governorate, Tal al-Hara is considered as a strategic hill overlooking the Israeli-controlled Golan Heights.

The missile attack resulted only in damage and Israel then conducted an “electronic war” in which radars were subjected to interference, SANA added.

Hours after the incident, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu issued a message saying that Israel responds "decisively and forcibly to any attack against us," yet did not claim responsibility for the alleged attack.

Full report at:

https://www.haaretz.com/middle-east-news/israel-strikes-iran-hezbollah-targets-in-syria-four-killed-21-wounded-1.7425013

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Turkey Threatens Military Action in Libya If Turks Not Released

June 30, 2019

Turkey accused forces loyal to Libya’s eastern commander Khalifa Haftar of capturing six of its citizens and threatened to take military action in the conflict-ravaged North African country unless they’re freed.

“We expect our citizens to be immediately released,” the Foreign Ministry said in a statement. Shortly after Turkey’s warning, the LNA said it targeted an armed Turkish drone at a Tripoli airport.

The escalation risks drawing NATO’s second-largest military force deeper into what’s rapidly becoming the Middle East’s latest proxy conflict to control an oil-rich country divided between two rival administrations.

Haftar, who is supported by Egypt and the United Arab Emirates, accuses Turkey of providing armed drones and other weapons to the United Nations-backed government in Tripoli to help repel his campaign to capture the capital.

Over the weekend, the Tripoli government said its forces have found sophisticated U.S. and other foreign weapons after they pushed Haftar’s forces out of a strategic city south of the capital. The cache included U.S.-made anti tank missiles originally sold to the U.A.E., a key American ally, the government said.

Agreement Violation?

Their presence, if true, raises questions whether the U.A.E. has violated its sales agreement with the U.S.

U.A.E. officials didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment, though officials in the past have publicly backed efforts to stabilize Libya and hold elections.

Last week’s capture of Gharyan, about 80 kilometers (50 miles) south of the capital, was the biggest setback to Haftar since his forces swept the south in early 2019 before launching an offensive in April to seize Tripoli. The attack has upended talks sponsored by the UN to end the nation’s political divide.

Haftar’s LNA warned Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan that the city’s fall will have consequences.

“There will be very big losses to Erdogan in Libya,” LNA spokesman Ahmed al-Mismari said in a late-night news conference on Saturday. “Any Turk in Libya will be arrested. Erdogan has harmed all Libyans, and therefore every Turk must take responsibility.”

On Sunday, he clarified he meant “Turks who assist terrorist groups,” not all Turkish citizens in Libya, though he said others could be “secured” or asked to leave “for their own protection.”

The LNA also banned flights from Istanbul to an airport in eastern Libya, where it’s based, and said it would target Turkish ships and installations in the OPEC member.

Proxy War

Western diplomats and Libyan officials have warned the conflict that has killed more than 700 people would spiral into a proxy war.

Two Western officials said the commander’s forces have been assisted by air strikes using Chinese-made Wing Loong drones known to have been sold to the U.A.E. One of the diplomats said neither side had received training to operate the drones, suggesting foreign assistance in conducting the air strikes.

Full report at:

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-06-30/turkey-says-haftar-forces-to-become-targets-if-turks-not-freed

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Trump should realize that Iranians unite when bullied, says Iran parliament speaker

2 July 2019

US President Donald Trump should realize that Iranians become more united when bullied, Iranian Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani said on Tuesday in remarks broadcast live on state television.

Iran announced on Monday it had amassed more low-enriched uranium than permitted under its 2015 nuclear deal with world powers, drawing a warning from Trump that Tehran was “playing with fire.”

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2019/07/02/Trump-should-realize-that-Iranians-unite-when-bullied-says-Iran-parliament-speaker.html

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Nine injured in Houthi attack on Saudi Arabia’s Abha airport: Arab Coalition

2 July 2019

Nine people were injured following an attack by the Houthi militia targeting Saudi Arabia’s Abha International Airport on Tuesday, the Arab Coalition said.

"The terrorist attack on Abha airport... led to the injury of nine civilians, including eight Saudi citizens and one carrying an Indian passport," coalition spokesman Colonel Turki al-Maliki said in a statement, adding that they were all in stable condition.

He stated that the attack took place at 12:35 am local time.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/gulf/2019/07/02/Coalition-A-Houthi-terrorist-attack-targets-Saudi-Arabia-Abha-airport.html

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Arab Coalition intercepts, destroys Houthi drone targeting Saudi Arabia

1 July 2019

The Arab Coalition has said it has intercepted and destroyed a drone launched by the Houthi militia from Sanaa targeting Saudi territories.

Col. Turki al-Maliki, the spokesperson of the Arab Coalition, said that the drone was intercepted and destroyed in Yemeni airspace at 09:07 am local time.

“The Houthi terrorists continue to launch unmanned aerial vehicles to carry out hostile and terrorist acts targeting civilians and civilian installations. None of its objectives have been achieved,” he said in a statement carried on the Saudi Press Agency.

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/gulf/2019/07/01/Arab-Coalition-intercepts-destroys-Houthi-drone-targeting-Saudi-Arabia.html

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Top Israeli diplomat in UAE, pushing for normalization with Arab states

Jul 1, 2019

The Israeli foreign minister, Yisrael Katz, has visited the United Arab Emirates, where he met and held talks with senior authorities as a number of Arab countries in the Persian Gulf region do not shy away from disclosing their clandestine relations with the Tel Aviv following years of secretive contacts.

Katz arrived in Abu Dhabi on Sunday for a UN environmental conference, where he discussed cooperation against Iran, as well as economic and transport collaboration, Israeli i24NEWS television news network reported.

 “I am excited to stand here in Abu Dhabi and to represent the interests of … Israel in front of the … [Persian] Gulf states,” Katz said upon the conclusion of his visit.

“I will continue to work with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to promote the normalization policy with our leading prowess, based on Israel's capabilities, both in the fields of security and intelligence, and in the various civilian arenas. I see this as one of the major challenges in my position as foreign minister, and I intend to continue leading this policy in the future,” he added.

Last year, Israeli culture and sports minister Miri Regev traveled to the UAE to accompany Israel’s judo team at the Abu Dhabi Grand Slam 2018.

Regev arrived in Abu Dhabi on October 26, and she participated in the opening ceremony of the international event at the Emirati capital’s Zayed Sports City, Palestinian Arabic-language Ma’an news agency reported.

Her visit to the UAE marked the first of its kind by an Israeli minister to a Persian Gulf littoral state.

The president of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) said last December that the then chief of staff of the Israeli military, Gadi Eisenkot, had secretly traveled twice to the UAE a month earlier, and had met with senior officials there.

Mort Fridman said the 59-year-old former Israeli commander-in-chief had met with Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan besides a number of high-ranking Emirati military officials, Israel’s Arabic-language MAKAN 33 public television network reported.

The top AIPAC official further noted that an agreement on the sale of Israeli military hardware to the UAE was struck during the meeting.

Full report at:

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2019/07/01/599910/Top-Israeli-diplomat-in-UAE-pushing-for-normalization-with-Arab-states

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6 Turkish citizens detained in Libya now released: Ministry

Jul 1, 2019

Six Turks detained in Libya by forces loyal to commander Khalifa Haftar have been released, Turkey's foreign ministry spokesman says, a day after it warned the militia would become a "legitimate target" unless they were released immediately.

Turkey supports the internationally recognized government in Tripoli. Haftar's Libyan National Force (LNA) launched a campaign on April 4 to try and seize the Libyan capital, but has been pushed back by the Tripoli government's forces.

The foreign ministry spokesman said those released wanted to keep working rather than return to Turkey. State-owned Anadolu agency said they were sailors after Turkey's defense ministry denied reports that the detainees included military personnel.

The forces loyal to Haftar said they destroyed a Turkish drone parked at Tripoli's only working airport on Sunday and declared a "general mobilization" as tensions between Ankara and the eastern administration mounted.

Haftar and his backers say they are trying to free Tripoli from militias that they accuse of destabilizing Libya since the fall of Muammar Gaddafi in a NATO-backed uprising in 2011. His administration cut all ties with Turkey on Friday, banning its flights and ships from eastern Libya.

Full report at:

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2019/07/01/599884/Libya-Turkey-Khalifa-Haftar-Tripoli-sailors-release-Muammar-Gaddafi-Anadolu

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North America

 

Trump says Iran ‘playing with fire’ after exceeding nuclear deal limit

2 July 2019

US President Donald Trump said on Monday Iran was playing with fire after Tehran said it had exceeded its limit for low-enriched uranium allowed under a 2015 nuclear deal with world powers.

Asked at a White House event if he had a message for Iran, Trump said he did not have a message, but Iran knew what it was doing and was “playing with fire.”

Earlier on Monday, the White House said that the US policy of maximum pressure on Iran will continue until it changes course and Iran should be held to a standard of no uranium enrichment, the White House said on Monday.

“Maximum pressure on the Iranian regime will continue until its leaders alter their course of action,” the White House said in a statement after Iran announced it had amassed more low-enriched uranium than allowed under its 2015 deal with major powers.

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2019/07/02/Trump-says-Iran-playing-with-fire-after-exceeding-nuclear-deal-limit.html

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White House: Iran should be held to a standard of no uranium enrichment

1 July 2019

The US policy of maximum pressure on Iran will continue until it changes course and Iran should be held to a standard of no uranium enrichment, the White House said on Monday.

“Maximum pressure on the Iranian regime will continue until its leaders alter their course of action,” the White House said in a statement after Iran announced it had amassed more low-enriched uranium than allowed under its 2015 deal with major powers.

“We must restore the longstanding nonproliferation standard of no enrichment for Iran,” the White House said.

Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif confirms that Tehran has breached 2015 nuclear deal by stockpiling over 300 kg enriched uranium, according to ISNA.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2019/07/01/White-House-Iran-should-be-held-to-a-standard-of-no-uranium-enrichment.html

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Iran playing with fire after breaching nuke deal: Trump

Servet Gunerigok 

02.07.2019

WASHINGTON

U.S. President Donald Trump said Monday that Iran is "playing with fire" after Tehran exceeded the amount of low-enriched uranium it is allowed to stockpile under an international nuclear deal signed in 2015.

Asked by a reporter in the Oval Office if he had a message for Tehran, Trump said: "They know what they're doing. They know what they're playing with, and I think they're playing with fire."

Earlier, Iran revealed that it had breached the limit set on its stockpile of low-enriched uranium, allowing it to exceed the 300 kilograms agreed to under the deal.

Iran had warned that it had intended to breach the deal if the European Union was not able to bypass U.S. sanctions.

"So, no message to Iran whatsoever," Trump told reporters.

The breach follows the U.S. withdrawal from the deal last year and Tehran’s frustration over the EU’s failure to counter crippling U.S. sanctions and boost trade with Iran. U.S. sanctions have deterred European businesses from conducting trade with the country.

Separately, the White House said the U.S. and its allies "will never" allow Iran to develop nuclear weapons and "maximum pressure on the Iranian regime will continue".

It also called for an end to Iran's "malign behavior".

As part of its campaign, the U.S. has re-imposed sanctions on exports of Iranian crude oil, which has sent Iran’s economy into a nosedive, as well as on its metals sector and Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and other top officials.

Full report at:

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/americas/iran-playing-with-fire-after-breaching-nuke-deal-trump/1520753

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US vows not to allow Iran to develop nuclear weapons

Umar Farooq

01.07.2019

WASHINGTON

The White House on Monday said that the U.S. and its allies "will never" allow Iran to develop nuclear weapons after Tehran breached limit of nuclear fuel it was allowed in an international nuclear deal signed in 2015.

"It was a mistake under the Iran nuclear deal to allow Iran to enrich uranium at any level," the White House said in a statement.

It said that "maximum pressure on the Iranian regime will continue" and called for an end to Iran's "malign behavior".

On Monday, according to the semi-official Fars news agency, Iran breached the 300-kilogram limit for the amount of low-level enriched uranium allowed by the deal, which was signed between Tehran and the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany and the European Union.

Iran has threatened to breach the cap on the amount of low-enriched uranium in response to the U.S. President Donald Trump's decision to withdraw from the nuclear deal.

Tensions have been rising between the two countries since Trump left the nuclear deal in 2018, and the U.S. has since embarked on a diplomatic and economic campaign to put pressure on Iran in order to renegotiate the agreement.

As part of its campaign, the U.S. has re-imposed sanctions on exports of Iranian crude oil, which has sent Iran’s economy into a nosedive.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that no deal should allow Iran to enrich any uranium at all.

"The Trump Administration calls on the international community to restore the longstanding nonproliferation standard of no enrichment for Iran’s nuclear program," Pompeo said in a statement.

Full report at:

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/americas/us-vows-not-to-allow-iran-to-develop-nuclear-weapons/1520725

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White supremacist James Alex Fields Jr. sentenced to life in prison in Charlottesville attack

JUN 28, 2019

An avowed white supremacist who deliberately drove his car into a crowd of counter-protesters, killing a young woman and injuring dozens, apologized to his victims Friday before being sentenced to life in prison on federal hate crime charges.

James Alex Fields Jr. of Maumee, Ohio, had pleaded guilty in March to 29 of 30 hate crimes in connection with the 2017 attack that killed Heather Heyer and injured more than two dozen others in Charlottesville, Va.

Prosecutors and Fields’ lawyers agreed that federal sentencing guidelines called for a life sentence. But his attorneys asked U.S. District Judge Michael Urbanski to consider a sentence of “less than life,” hoping he would take into account Fields’ troubled childhood and mental health issues.

Just before Urbanski announced his sentence, the 22-year-old Fields, accompanied by one of his lawyers, walked to a lectern in the courtroom and apologized.

“Every day I think about how things could have gone differently and how I regret my actions,” he said. “I’m sorry.”

His comments came after more than a dozen survivors of and witnesses to the attack delivered emotional testimony about the physical and psychological wounds they had received as a result of the events that day.

“You had a choice to leave Charlottesville, but you did not,” said Rosia Parker, a longtime civil rights activist in Charlottesville who said she was standing feet away from where Heyer was struck by Fields’ car.

“You could have done anything else but what you did,” Parker said, her voice breaking as she stared directly at Fields. “So, yeah, you deserve everything that you get.”

Fields appeared stoic and didn’t look at Parker or any of the victims as they spoke.

Heyer’s mother, Susan Bro, said she wanted Fields to spend his life in prison but also hoped he would get the medication he needed and that one day he would change his views and no longer support white supremacy.

“I hope he can heal someday and help others heal,” Bro said.

After the hearing, Bro said she did not believe Fields’ apology was sincere, but instead was a last-ditch attempt to get a lighter sentence.

Fields drove from his Ohio home to attend the “Unite the Right” rally on Aug. 12, 2017, which drew hundreds of white supremacists to Charlottesville to protest the planned removal of a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee.

Hundreds of counter-protesters showed up as well.

President Trump blamed the violence at the rally on “both sides,” a statement widely denounced as a refusal to condemn racism.

After Fields was sentenced, a Department of Justice official condemned his actions.

“Hate crimes violate the most fundamental American values of freedom and human dignity,” Eric Dreiband, assistant attorney general for the department’s Civil Rights Division, said at a news conference with federal prosecutors.

“The bigotry and ideology of neo-Nazism, Nazism, white supremacy and the Ku Klux Klan are a disgrace to this country, and illegal acts based on those should be eradicated from the United States,” Dreiband said.

Prosecutors said Fields had a long history of racist and anti-Semitic behavior and had shown no remorse for his crimes. They said he is an avowed white supremacist, admired Adolf Hitler and even kept a picture of the Nazi leader on his bedside table.

During the sentencing hearing Friday, FBI Special Agent Wade Douthit said a classmate described Fields as being “like a kid at Disney World” during a high school trip to the Dachau concentration camp in Germany.

Douthit read grand jury testimony from the classmate, who said Fields appeared happy and made the remark, “This is where the magic happened.”

The statement provoked audible gasps from the crowd that had packed into the Charlottesville courtroom.

The classmate said that when Fields viewed the camp’s gas chamber, he said: “It’s almost like you can still hear them screaming.”

Douthit said the classmate was so disgusted by Fields’ remarks he stopped associating with him.

During Fields’ state trial, attorneys focused on his history of mental illness and traumatic childhood.

A psychologist testified that Fields had inexplicable volatile outbursts as a young child, was diagnosed with bipolar disorder at age 6 and was later diagnosed with schizoid personality disorder.

Full report at:

https://www.latimes.com/nation/la-na-charlottesville-attack-james-fields-sentence-20190628-story.html

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Islamberg: Three plead guilty to plot against NY Muslim community

29 Jun 2019

Three young men accused of plotting to attack a Muslim community in upstate New York with homemade explosives have pleaded guilty.

The three men and a 16-year-old high school student from the Rochester area were arrested in January and accused of planning to attack the community of Islamberg, near Binghamton. Police have said the defendants had access to 23 rifles and shotguns and three homemade explosives. Investigators uncovered the plot after a student reported a suspicious comment in a lunchroom.

On Friday, Vincent Vetromile, 20, pleaded guilty to first-degree attempted criminal possession of a weapon. He faces seven to 12 years in prison.

Brian Colaneri, 20, and Andrew Crysel, 19, also pleaded guilty to "terrorism-related conspiracy". Each faces four to 12 years in prison.

"Mr Colaneri and Mr Crysel both admitted to conspiracy, they both admitted to agreeing to ... essentially kill members of the Islamic community in Islamberg," assistant district attorney Matthew Schwartz told reporters outside the court.

"And Mr Vetromile, he admitted to his role as it related to the acquiring, if you will, the various explosive devices."

Lawyers for Vetromile and Colaneri said the plea deals were contingent on no federal charges being filed against their clients.

The case of the 16-year-old high school suspect was being handled in a youth criminal court.

Islamberg is a rural community of about 200 residents. Police and community members have dismissed accusations that the Muslims of America enclave is a "terrorist" training ground. But the claims have persisted, often on right-wing websites and through social media.

Full report at:

https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2019/06/islamberg-plead-guilty-bomb-plot-ny-muslim-community-190629060457307.html

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Africa

 

Boko Haram Takes Over Nigerian Navy Base On Lake Chad

JUN 29, 2019

The video showed some members of the terrorist group jubilating in one of the ships belonging to the Nigerian Navy in Lake Chad.

They shot into the air as a sign of victory, chanting "Allah Akbar" (God is the greatest).

Four of the naval officers captured alive were made to introduce themselves while being recorded before they were eventually executed by the terrorist group.

Three of the naval officers introduced themselves as Ebirek Adewale with official number X12907, Muhammed Muhammed, and Aliyu Adamu, an excavator operator.

The fourth naval officers in the video released by the terrorist group said, “I was drafted from naval Air Wing, Port Harcourt, under the command of Nigerian Navy Ship Pathfinder to Naval Base, Lake Chad, Baga, Borno State.

“Our base was attacked on the 26th to 27th. We are on our way to escape. I was captured by the Army Kalaifa (sic) and now we are under their detention as prisoners of war.”

The insurgent group in the new video documentary released footage of the victories it has recorded in a series of attacks against the Nigerian military.

The video showed different gun battles between the insurgent group and the military with the Boko Haram group having the upper hand.

The Boko Haram sects also showed some armoured personnel carrier, guns and other battle arms taken from the military.

Another part of the video showed the insurgent group setting ablaze a Nigerian flag and that of the Nigerian Army in a camp of the Brigade Multinational Joint Task Force, Baga, Borno State.

The insurgent group also showed its members overrunning the base, killing all military personnel around and taking over all cars and arsenal belonging to the Nigerian Army.

The Nigerian government has on different occasions claimed victory against the terrorist group saying the terrorist group had been confined to the outskirt of Borno.

This claim is, however, contradictory to the daily killings by the insurgent group in different parts of Borno with the latest being the overrunning of a military base in Yobe State.

http://saharareporters.com/2019/06/29/boko-haram-takes-over-nigerian-navy-base-lake-chad

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Nigeria protesters demand end to anti-Boko Haram militia

June 30, 2019

Kano (Nigeria) (AFP) - More than 2,000 people protested Sunday in the northern Nigerian city of Maiduguri, calling for a ban on the anti-Boko Haram CJTF militia they accuse of abuses after the killing of a rickshaw driver.

The protesters blocked major roads in the Suleimanti area of the city and set fires, causing chaos despite pleas from police and military officers, an AFP reporter at the scene saw.

"We want the CJTF to be banned from the city because of the abuses we suffer in their hands," said Suleimanti resident Bukar Saleh.

"They have become a law unto themselves and are treating us badly. And now they have started killing us," Saleh said.

The CJTF militia tried to stop the demonstration, attacking protesters with batons and arresting scores of them.

The protest erupted hours after a rickshaw driver was shot dead near a militia checkpoint.

"The victim was a known resident and his name was Modu but the CJTF just shot him for no reason," Saleh said.

The CJTF insisted however that the victim was shot for failing to stop at a checkpoint during nighttime curfew hours.

The militia have intensified night patrols in the area in recent days following incursions by the jihadists, he said.

"The driver's refusal to stop raised the suspicion of our men and one of them took him down, because they believed he was a Boko Haram terrorist on a mission," Babakura Abba-Ali, the CJTF head in Suleimanti area, said.

The militia man was handed over to the police for investigation, Abba-Ali added.

The CJTF emerged in 2013 as a vigilante group in response to Boko Haram's deadly attacks in Maiduguri.

Young men and women mobilised and started going door-to-door hacking to death known Boko Haram members and forcing the jihadists to flee the city.

The vigilantes were later organised into a militia force and embedded with the military to fight the jihadist group.

Late Saturday, Boko Haram jihadists killed four people and looted food supplies when they raided Gamurari village, some 90 kilometres (60 miles) from Maiduguri, militia and residents said.

The decade-long Boko Haram conflict has killed at least 27,000 people and forced some two million to flee their homes in Nigeria alone.

Full report at:

https://news.yahoo.com/nigeria-protesters-demand-end-anti-boko-haram-militia-174543018.html

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8 militants killed, 12 others injured in southern Somalia

2019-06-30

MOGADISHU, June 30 (Xinhua) -- Somali forces on Saturday killed 8 militants and injured 12 others in clashes between government forces and al-Shabab extremists in Moro Gabey, a village 30 km away from Hudur town in the country's southern region of Bakol, officials confirmed on Sunday.

Mohamed Mo'alim Ahmed, commissioner of Hudur town told journalists that the clashes erupted after government forces launched an attack on militants who were forcefully collecting taxes from the residents of Moro Gabey village.

"Our forces managed to kill eight of the terrorists and injured 12 others," Ahmed said, noting that the government forces had lost four soldiers and two others sustained injuries during the operation.

"Heavily armed forces attacked the militants in the village, the two sides exchanged heavy gunfight and there were casualties, but we can't indicate the exact figure," Lul Omar, a local resident told Xinhua by phone.

Full report at:

http://www.xinhuanet.com/english/2019-06/30/c_138187021.htm

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Double attack in Tunis: ‘There are people who don’t want a stable Tunisia’

29/06/2019

In the aftermath of dual attacks against law enforcement on Thursday in Tunis, residents are determined to not capitulate to fear or fall prey to divisions that could threaten the democratic process Tunisia has set in motion.

It is 8:30am Friday on Avenue Habib Bourguiba in the heart of the Tunisian capital. A clutch of police vehicles with caged-in windows snakes off the pedestrian central reservation (median strip) where they had been parked for hours. The convoy barely vacates the space before a street cleaner hoses down the pavement, like he would on any other day. As if life needed, quickly, to return to normal.

At the café Le Parnasse nearby, young people in shirtsleeves are chatting on the terrace. “The attack took place 100 metres away, but here we are,” one says.

A suicide bomber, yet to be identified, detonated explosives the morning before next to a police car parked at the intersection of Avenue Habib Bourguiba and the busy rue Charles-de-Gaulle. Police officer Mehdi Zammali succumbed to the injuries he sustained in the blast within minutes. Another officer and three civilians were wounded in the attack.

About 10 minutes later, on the outskirts of the city, a second suicide bomber detonated his charge in the parking lot of the headquarters of the Antiterrorist Brigade (BAT), injuring four police officers.

The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the dual attack hours later.

“I was home when I heard about the explosions,” recounts Makram. Well-acquainted with the centre of Tunis, where he plies his trade selling Mickey and Minnie Mouse toys, the 32-year-old refuses to give in to fear. “By attacking the capital at the start of the tourism season, they attacked Tunisia at its core. It’s serious, but I’m not afraid. Terrorism strikes everybody, even powerful countries like the United States and France,” he says.

‘They attacked Tunisia at its core, but I am not afraid’

At a table of one of the many cafés that stretch along Avenue Habib Bourguiba, Nadia and Wafa carry on as normal as well, as if this were any other day. “We are sad for our country, but we are not afraid,” they say, echoing Makram. The two sisters are local shopkeepers and, as they do every day after their morning coffee, will head to their store. “We, the Tunisian people, we just want to work, live and have fun,” they say.

After the 2011 revolution that led to the fall of the regime of Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali after 23 years in power, Tunisia was confronted with the rise of the jihadism. In 2015, a wave of unprecedented attacks hit the North African country, killing soldiers and police officers as well as many civilians and foreign tourists. Twenty-one tourists and a policeman were killed in the attack on the Bardo Museum; thirty-eight tourists were killed in a mass shooting on a beach in Sousse.

More stable in terms of security today, Tunisia continues to hobble towards democracy which began with the Arab Spring, making it an exception among the Arab countries that experienced the 2011 uprisings. Nadia and Wafa maintain their optimism. “It takes time for change to take hold. Even the French Revolution took time. We would like, for instance, for a woman to lead the country.”

New leader, new legislature

In October, Tunisians are set to head to the polls to elect a new National Assembly. A few weeks later, they will choose a new president in another election.

Separately to the attacks on Thursday in Tunis, President Béji Caïd Essebsi was hospitalised after falling “seriously ill”. The Tunisian leader has long let it be known that he would not run for re-election, leaving the country to choose its second directly-elected head of state since Ben Ali’s ouster. “But there are people who don’t want a stable Tunisia, who don’t love our country, who don’t like elections,” the the shopkeeper sisters say, indicating some doubt about the alleged jihadist nature of Thursday’s attacks.

Indeed, Thursday’s violence against law enforcement has fed a number unsubstantiated theories on the streets of Tunis. Some see it as the work “of people from the establishment who are opposed to democracy”; others, a settling of accounts against a police force considered too intimidating.

But as with any suicide attack, like that on Avenue Habib Bourguiba in October 2018, the whole of Tunisian society appears keen to resist falling into the trap of divisions and hatred. The Tunisian press is no different, covering the event with such headlines on Friday as, “Tunisia still standing and standing together” and “Black Thursday unites Tunisians”.

Emotional burial for police officer killed

Sidi Hassine, too, was united on Friday. A 15-minute drive from Tunis, the smaller city was mourning one of its own as Mehdi Zammali, the police officer killed Thursday, was laid to rest. Hundreds of people, residents and police colleagues alike, attended the funeral. Interior Ministry Hichem Fourati also attended.

Standing with her friends near the cemetery, Nabila says she travelled to be there to show her solidarity with law enforcement. “I stand with the police because they are watching over our country. My son is a police officer and I’m scared for him,” she says.

Amal says she will not give in to fear. “Despite the sadness, our morale remains high because we aren’t afraid of terrorism,” she says. “I’m getting married next week and I am not afraid.” In fact, from Amal’s perspective, the jihadist threat is less of a weight to bear day in, day out, than the tough economic and social realities pervasive in this working-class city on the outskirts of Tunis.

Full report at:

https://www.france24.com/en/20190629-tunisia-terrorism-dual-suicide-attack-tunis-stability-essebsi-tunis-police-security

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Kenyan Women Unite Their Voices to Prevent Extremism

By Mohammed Yusuf

July 1, 2019

NAIROBI - The U.S. Institute of Peace is training and working with Kenyan women as they build trust within their communities to prevent violent extremism. The program comes as Kenya struggles to halt the recruitment efforts of Islamist militant group al-Shabab.

The organization Sisters Without Borders was formed in 2014. One of its missions is to bridge the mistrust between Kenyan security agencies and families of terrorism suspects.

The organization includes at least 20 women’s groups from Nairobi, Mombasa and Garissa, all of which have seen deadly terrorist attacks by the Islamist militant group al-Shabab.

Sureya Hirsi, a member of the sisters' group from Mombasa, attended the conference in Nairobi. She says it is time for women to take an active role in the fight against terrorism.

"The reason I joined this sisters group, it’s because I have been affected, I have family members, people whom I know, I know youths who have been recruited, and this is happening because as a community we don't speak up about these issues. As a woman who is lucky and also educated, I have decided to be on the frontline to help my community so that we can speak about these issues that affect our community."

Nicoletta Barbera, a program officer at the U.S. Institute of Peace, says women can play a key role in preventing young people from going down the terrorist path.

"The women that we work with, the sisters without borders are integrated within their communities, they live, work, and serve. They are very aware of the threats that are in their homes, in their markets, in their communities. We enable them to identify those potential individuals who are prone in engaging in violent extremism and give them the skills to try to mitigate them at the very beginning when they see those initial signs of radicalization," Barbera said.

Kenya National Counterterrorism Center Director Martin Kimani says that kind of ground-level activism is exactly what the country needs.

"We in the security services are hunting and looking for recruiters to put them behind bars where they belong. But radicalization continues to be a problem.  That problem is going to need for the county level actions to get radicalization, to where, for example, Kenya got HIV/AIDS where everybody could speak about it, everybody knows what it is and everybody know their role in how to stop it and protect it each other from getting into that kind of life," Kimani said.

Kenya has been prime recruiting territory for al-Shabab since 2011, when the government sent troops into Somalia to fight militants.

Full report at:

https://www.voanews.com/africa/kenyan-women-unite-their-voices-prevent-extremism

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Sudan protest group calls for nationwide ‘civil disobedience’ on July 14

2 July 2019

A key Sudanese protest group on Monday announced a one-day nationwide “civil disobedience” campaign on July 14, a day after it organized mass protests against the ruling generals that rocked the country.

“On Sunday, July 14, a civil disobedience and total political strike in Khartoum and across all provinces will be held,” the Sudanese Professional Association said in a statement, adding that a mass protest will also be launched on July 13.

The SPA had initiated the protests in December that finally led to the ouster of longtime president Omar al-Bashir in April.

On Sunday, Seven people were killed and 181 others were wounded during mass demonstrations across Sudan, the state news agency (SUNA) reported citing the health ministry.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2019/07/02/Sudan-protest-group-calls-for-nationwide-civil-disobedience-on-July-14.html

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Six Turks held by Haftar’s forces freed in Libya

1 July 2019

Six Turkish sailors held by forces led by Libyan military commander Khalifa Haftar have been freed, a Turkish foreign ministry official said on Monday.

“The sailors are free. According to their wishes, they continue to work,” the official, who did not wish to be named, said.

Haftar’s forces, which hold much of eastern and southern Libya, launched an offensive in early April to seize the capital from the government.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/north-africa/2019/07/01/Six-Turks-held-by-Haftar-s-forces-freed-in-Libya.html

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Sudan: At least 7 killed in rally against military rule

01.07.2019

At least seven people were killed as protesters staged mass rallies in the capital Khartoum and other states on Sunday demanding the ruling military council to hand over power to civilian authorities.

Sulaiman Abdul Jabbar, undersecretary for the Health Ministry, confirmed the death toll to the state-run SUNA news agency, adding that 181 were injured during demonstrations.

There were 10 soldiers among the wounded, 27 suffered gunshot wounds and others got trapped in stampede, he went on to say.

In a statement, the Central Committee of the Sudanese Doctors said that the number of injured has reached 100, adding that the security forces used tear gas and live bullets to disperse the demonstrations.

Earlier on Sunday, demonstrators chanted slogans against the Transitional Military Council (TMC) and waved banners condemning violence against protesters, according to an Anadolu Agency reporter.

Protesters also chanted calls for an investigation into the dispersal of a weeks-long protest camp near the army headquarters earlier this month, which left scores dead.

Rallies were also reported in the cities of Gadaref, Kassala, Khashm Algirba and Halfa in eastern Sudan, Kareema and Atbara in River Nile state, El-Obied in North Kordofan and Edamazine in Blue Nile state.

Full report at:

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/africa/sudan-at-least-7-killed-in-rally-against-military-rule/1519883

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Europe

 

Greece: 3 arrested over building Muslim prayer room

By Mehmet Hatipoglu 

01.07.2019

Three people were arrested in northeastern Greece for building a Muslim prayer room, according to a local Muslim official.

Ilyaz Gundogan Ahmetoglu, the imam of the Drosero (Serin Mahalle) neighborhood in the city of Xanthi, was arrested last week along with two other people, Ahmet Hraloglu, a local Muslim cleric, told Anadolu Agency on Sunday.

Xanthi is part of Greece’s Western Thrace region, which has a population of some 150,000 Muslim Turks dating back centuries.

Hraloglu said the three were arrested while trying to add a small section to a prefabricated structure to be used as a prayer room.

He added that the prefab structure was meant to house the neighborhood's culture association.

Hraloglu said the arrests were made for unauthorized construction.

The arrestees were released by a court on condition that the group's administrators get the necessary construction permits and documents within a month.

Hraloglu said the court warned that if work continues without authorization, they could face a fine of up to €50,000.

He added that Drosero lacks a proper mosque, forcing local Muslims to do their obligatory prayers at makeshift sites.

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/europe/greece-3-arrested-over-building-muslim-prayer-room/1520502

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German neo-Nazi doomsday prepper network 'ordered body bags, made kill lists'

29.06.2019

Germany's domestic intelligence agency says a group of neo-Nazis compiled a list of political opponents and ordered 200 body bags and quicklime in preparation for a potential collapse of state order, named "Day X."

Most of the more than 30 preppers, who called themselves Nordkreuz (Northern Cross), were associated with Germany's police and military, including several former and one active member of the elite forces unit of the state police of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania. 

Preppers is a term used to describe those preparing for social collapse or natural disaster by stockpiling food and emergency supplies. Speaking to the local Märkische Allgemeine newspaper in 2017, members of Nordkreuz described themselves as people with a "healthy conservative attitude" who simply collected supplies for a major disaster.

But all of the members of the group were trained marksmen and had access to firearms and ammunition, according to the RND newspaper network, which reported the conspiracy on Friday, citing sources inside the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution (BfV), Germany's domestic intelligence agency.

The BfV also believes that the group, which communicated via the messenger app Telegram, was preparing for Day X with "enormous intensity," and had used data from police computers to compile a list of 25,000 names and addresses.

These mostly belonged to local politicians from Germany's main political parties, the Christian Democrats, Social Democrats, Greens and Left party. All of the politicians were considered supporters of "pro-refugee" policies.

Read more: Opinion: Politician's killing must be a wake-up call

Parallel investigations

According to the RND, each member of Nordkreuz had scoured their own local area for potential targets, most of which were concentrated in the states of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania and Brandenburg in northeastern Germany, specifically the towns of Wismar, Ludwigslust and Schwerin.

But there were also federal politicians on the list, including Foreign Minister Heiko Maas, former President Joachim Gauck and Bundestag Vice President Claudia Roth.

The conspiracy came to light after federal prosecutors submitted an application a few weeks ago to the Bundestag's intelligence-gathering oversight commission, asking to carry out wider surveillance against Nordkreuz. This application included a "material list" showing that the group had ordered body bags and quicklime, used to dispose of corpses.

State prosecutors have been investigating Nordkreuz since 2017 on suspicion of planning a terrorist attack. Three members of the group are under a separate investigation by state prosecutors in Schwerin for allegedly stealing 10,000 rounds of ammunition and a machine gun from the state police.

Nationwide networks?

A similar alleged far-right prepper conspiracy, also involving a kill list, was uncovered two years ago in the same state. That came following an investigation into Franco A., a Bundeswehr soldier with far-right sympathies accused of planning to trigger social unrest by carrying out a terrorist attack while posing as a Syrian refugee. The investigation was eventually dropped for lack of evidence.

According to RND, the "Hannibal" network that Franco A. had connections with, which was also centered in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, was tied to Nordkreuz. Investigators believe there may be four such "Day X" far-right prepper conspiracies in Germany, each covering a different region of the country, though that suspicion has not been confirmed.

Neo-Nazi terrorism suddenly came into focus again earlier this month when known neo-Nazi Stephan Ernst was arrested for the killing of local conservative politician Walter Lübcke, who was found shot dead on his terrace in Wolfshagen, Hesse, on June 2.

Ernst confessed to the shooting earlier this week, claiming to have acted alone, but two more men were arrested on Thursday on suspicion of supplying him with weapons and facilitating contacts.

In its annual report, released on Thursday, the BfV counted 24,100 right-wing extremists in Germany — 100 more than in 2017 — of whom 12,700 were considered "violence-oriented." But the report made no mention of Nordkreuz.

Full report at:

https://www.dw.com/en/german-neo-nazi-doomsday-prepper-network-ordered-body-bags-made-kill-lists/a-49410494

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Alleged Italian ISIS member handed to Rome: SDF

29 June 2019

Kurdish authorities in northeastern Syria have handed to Italy one of its citizens accused of belonging to ISIS, a spokesman said on Saturday.

“Italian jihadist Samir Bougana (aka Abu Abdullah) who had been captured fleeing ISIS and had been imprisoned since then, was handed over to Italian government,” said Mustafa Bali, a spokesman for the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).

He said the transfer had been made on Rome’s request.

He did not specify when it took place or whether or not the suspected extremist had already left the country.

Bougana - also known as Abu Hureyre al-Muhajir or Abu Abdullah al-Muhajir - was first captured by Kurdish fighters in Syria in August 2018 as he tried to flee into Turkey.

He had allegedly been involved in weapons shipments to ISIS.

His transfer is part of a wider effort by the Kurdish administration to rid itself of the dregs of the ISIS proto-state.

Following the collapse of the group’s “caliphate” in March, alleged ISIS fighters from nearly 50 countries have been detained in Syria and Iraq.

Over 11,000 of their family members are being held in Syria’s al-Hol camp alone.

But repatriation is a sensitive issue for Western nations such as France and Britain, which have experienced attacks by homegrown extremists and have little interest in seeing more return.

There are also worries that it could prove difficult to successfully prosecute fighters in European courts for crimes committed in Iraq or Syria.

Britain has gone so far as stripping ISIS members of citizenship, while France has said it will repatriate only orphans.

The United States, however, has urged Western countries to take their nationals back and has repatriated some of its own, including three ISIS group fighters and several American women and children.

On Thursday, it warned European countries they were making a “bad decision” by leaving their nationals in Syria instead of repatriating them to face justice.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2019/06/29/Alleged-Italian-ISIS-member-handed-to-Rome-SDF-.html

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Northern Ireland prisoners to be allowed books on terrorism and paramilitaries

July 1 2019

Inmates in Northern Ireland's prisons will be allowed access to books on paramilitaries and terrorism after a rule change.

Such books were previously banned from prisons, but a review of the policy has reversed the decision.

The review came after academic Dr Marisa McGlinchey discovered that her book 'Unfinished Business: The Politics Of Dissident Irish Republicanism' was prohibited in Maghaberry Prison.

At the time all books relating to terrorism and paramilitaries were banned from the prison.

The review found that the policy was "not proportionate".

Director General of the Northern Ireland Prison Service Ronnie Armour said that police officers were still dealing with the impact of the Troubles and "ongoing violence".

He cited the murders of prison officers David Black and Adrian Ismay by the New IRA.

The BBC has reported that the books will not be allowed into prisons "unless they breach specific guidelines which include the promotion of, or support for terrorism/paramilitaries, or overtly promote or encourage the commission of criminal acts".

If a book is banned there will be an appeals process avaliable.

A Northern Ireland Prison Service discussion said the review had prompted "serious discussion" and accepted that a blanket ban was no longer appropriate saying that the prison service was a "changing organisation and learning organisation".

Dr McGlinchey said she was pleased with the outcome of the review.

"It was clear that the matter had been taken very seriously," she said.

A Department of Justice spokesperson told the BBC that prison governors would make the decisions on a case by case basis.

"Books and other reading material will now be permitted unless they overtly promote or encourage the commissioning of criminal acts or otherwise break the law," the spokesperson said.

Full report at:

https://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/northern-ireland/northern-ireland-prisoners-to-be-allowed-books-on-terrorism-and-paramilitaries-38268928.html

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Britain hesitant is prosecuting jihadists

July 2, 2019

Britain clearly is on self-destruction mode, while it has not only been appeasing radical Islam, sharia, caliphate, and even jihad – it also is showing extreme hesitance in prosecuting members and supporters of notorious Islamist Anjem Choudary’s al-Muhajiroun (ALM), organization that carried out atrocities including the London Bridge attack, 7/7 bombings and murder of Lee Rigby, while others fought for ISIS, Al-Qaeda and the Taliban abroad.

Although suspects of the London Bridge jihadist attack had been arrested, none of them has yet been charged by the investigating authorities. According to experts, the Muslim community in Britain has made the authorities so much cowed and intimidated that they [authorities] don’t dare to take any real steps against the radical Muslims and jihadists.

In 2006, British authorities banned ALM as a terrorist group, making membership a criminal offense punishable by up to 10 years in prison. But, none of the already identified 600 members of ALM have been prosecuted for membership.

Due to lethargy is prosecuting ALM members, this notorious group may re-emerge under a new name. Moreover, members of ALM are seen roaming around various mosques and Muslim communities within East London, where they are playing role in radicalizing the Muslims, which include youths and migrants from other European Union nations, which would ultimately pose an unmanageable threat to Britain’s national security.

It may be mentioned here that ALM has changed its name numerous times to evade the 2006 ban, and a police operation seen as a test case ended in failure.

Scotland Yard detained 24 activists protesting outside London’s US Embassy in December 2011 for membership of a proscribed group, but they were all released without charge following consultation with the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS).

British Prime Minister Theresa May had banned ALM’s latest incarnation – Muslims Against Crusades, but the same jihadists were able to continue their activism by calling themselves United Ummah. Counterterrorism experts are seeing ALM as the most prolific and dangerous extremist group because of its role in radicalizing Muslims who have committed or plotted numerous terrorist acts.

Following the release of several members of ALM, there are concerns of this group’s regenerating especially following the release of Anjem Choudary. It may be mentioned here that, Choudary was jailed for lone-wolf jihadist offenses including inviting support for Islamic State and disseminating jihadist propaganda.

How jihadists are operating in Britain?

For the last several months, I have been closely monitoring activities of Muslim especially in East London and trying to understand the method those jihadists are applying in getting the Muslim residents radicalized.

To understand the key tactics of the jihadists in radicalizing the Muslims, I have questioned fifteen targeted Muslims in East London, many of whom had either migrated to the United Kingdom from Asian nations or had come from the EU countries. I asked their opinion on Jews and Christians and all of them, even thinking for a second replied – “they are enemies of Allah”.

Then I asked the same group of people as they hate Jews and Christians, why they are making their living in Britain, which is not a Muslim country. To my utter surprise and gravest dismay, all of them said, “Islam will conquer Britain one day”.

Those females who had been questioned by me said they were putting on burqa while younger girls were using hijab due to rules applied by the local Muslim community leaders.

Britain harboring radical Islam and jihad

Back in 2009, a family migrated to Britain from Bangladesh with millions of laundered dirty money and had invested in a few business projects. The same family is having business with notorious terrorist Dawood Ibrahim’s D-Company in Dubai. According to newspaper reports, Md Shahid Uddin Khan, his wife Farjana Anjum and daughters Shehtaz Munasi Khan, Parisa Pinaz Khan and Zumana Fiza Khan obtained immigration in Britain under Visa Tier-1 (VAF No. 511702). They have invested 12 million pounds, which had been brought into the United Kingdom through illegal channels. National Crime Agency (NCA) or other agencies in Britain did not utter even a word about such a massive crime of money laundering.

Newspapers reported about secret business relations between Tory MP Stephen Hammond and Islamic State funder Md Shahid Uddin Khan. It is even learned that Mr. Khan has actually invested the money in South Coast Regeneration and Investment Property (SCRIP) where Mr Hammond is holding 15 percent of issued share capital from March 8, 2017. It is further learned that Md Shahid Uddin Khan has also invited Sally Hammond, wife of Stephen Hammond MP to join Zumana Investment & Properties Limited (incorporation number 7417417, dated October 23, 2010), company formed by Khan and his family members.

On January 17, 2018, the Counter Terrorism and Transnational Crime Unit of Bangladesh Police had raided the Dhaka residence of this family at House No. 184, Road No. 2, Baridhara DOHS in Dhaka, Bangladesh.

During the raid, a large volume of weapons, detonator, counterfeit Bangladesh currency notes and jihadist materials of ISIS were recovered by the CTTC unit.

Following this recovery, three separate cases against ISIS-funder Md. Shahid Uddin Khan, his wife Farjana Anjum, daughters and other accomplices were lodged. The cases are Cantonment PS, Case no 10, Section-6(2)/7/11/12 of Anti-Terrorism Act 2009 (amendment 2013); Cantonment PS, Case no 11, Section-25-A, Special Power Act 1974; and Cantonment PS, Case no 12, Section-19-A of Arms Act 1878.

Interpol Red Notice

Full report at:

https://www.weeklyblitz.net/news/britain-hesitant-is-prosecuting-jihadists/

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Germany very concerned by Iran’s breach of nuclear deal, says a source

2 July 2019

Germany is very concerned by Iran’s announcement on Monday that it has amassed more low-enriched uranium than permitted under its 2015 deal with major powers, a Foreign Ministry source said.

“We call on Iran to reverse this step and not to further undermine the nuclear agreement,” the source said, adding that Germany would carefully consider next steps together with other participants in the nuclear deal.

Iran’s move was its first major step in violation of the deal since President Donald Trump pulled the United States out of it more than a year ago.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2019/07/02/Germany-very-concerned-by-Iran-s-breach-of-nuclear-deal-says-a-source.html

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Russia ‘regrets’ Iran exceeding uranium stockpile limit

1 July 2019

Russia on Monday said Iran’s announcement that it had exceeded a limit on its enriched uranium reserves was a cause for “regret”, but added this was a consequence of US actions.

Iran said earlier Monday it had “crossed the 300-kilogram limit” set under a 2015 nuclear deal that was unilaterally abandoned by US President Donald Trump last year.

“(This) of course is a cause for regret but one must not dramatize the situation,” Russian deputy foreign minister Sergei Ryabkov said in comments reported by news agencies.

“It should be understood as the natural consequence of the events which have gone before,” he said.

Ryabkov denounced “unprecedented pressure” from the United States but called on Tehran to behave “responsibly”.

Moscow is a close ally of Tehran and has previously called on European signatories of the nuclear agreement to respect the deal despite the US pullout.

When the United States withdrew from the nuclear deal last year it reimposed biting sanctions on Iran’s crucial oil exports and financial transactions as well as other sectors.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2019/07/01/Russia-regrets-Iran-exceeding-uranium-stockpile-limit-.html

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UK urgently considering next steps after Iran breaches nuclear deal

1 July 2019

Britain said on Monday it was urgently considering its next steps with its partners under the terms of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal after Iran said it had amassed more low-enriched uranium than permitted under the agreement.

Prime Minister Theresa May’s spokesman said Iran’s announcement was “extremely concerning” and Britain would keep working with its partners to keep the deal in place.

“We have been consistently clear that our commitment to the JCPOA (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action) depends on Iran complying in full with the terms of the deal and we urge them to reverse this step,” the spokesman told reporters.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2019/07/01/UK-urgently-considering-next-steps-after-Iran-breaches-nuclear-deal.html

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Erdogan: 'Some people paying serious money' to bury Khashoggi issue

Jul 1, 2019

Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says "some people" are paying "serious money" to bury the issue of the murder of Saudi dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

Khashoggi, a former advocate of the Saudi royal court who later became a critic of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, was killed and his body dismembered by a Saudi hit squad after being lured into the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2, 2018.

Turkish officials were the first to report the killing of Khashoggi. They have pressed the kingdom for information on his dismembered body’s whereabouts.

Speaking to reporters after the G20 summit in Japan, Erdogan said bin Salman must uncover the killers of Khashoggi, noting that some aspects of the murder were still being hidden.

The Washington Post, for which Khashoggi was a columnist, said last November the CIA had concluded that bin Salman personally ordered his killing. 

Riyadh has spurned all the allegations linking the killing to the crown prince and instead claimed that the murder had been carried out by a “rogue” group.

US plan for Middle East

Erdogan also said it was “never possible” for Turkey to positively consider the $50 billion US “peace" plan for the Middle East.

Last week, the US outlined the "economic" part of its plan for the Middle East. Critics say Washington is offering financial rewards for Palestinians to accept the Israeli occupation.

Erdogan also said the presidents of Iran, Russia and Turkey would hold a summit this month to discuss developments in Syria.

Turkey to get S-400 systems within 10 days

Turkish media on Sunday quoted Erdogan as saying that the Russian S-400 missile defense systems would be delivered within 10 days, a day after he said the US did not plan to impose sanctions on Ankara over the deal.

Turkey and the United States have been at loggerheads for months over Ankara’s purchase order for the S-400s, which the US claims are incompatible with NATO systems and the Lockheed Martin Corp’s F-35 stealth fighters.

Washington has given Ankara until the end of July to cancel its purchase of the Russian missile defense systems or see another deal — for the purchase of F-35s from the US — canceled.

It has also formally begun the process of expelling Turkey from the F-35 program, halting the training of Turkish pilots in the US.

But, Erdogan said on Saturday the US president had personally told him that there would be no US sanctions on Turkey over the S-400 purchase.

Full report at:

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2019/07/01/599858/Turkey-Erdogan-attempts-bury-Khashoggi-issue

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South Asia

 

UN envoy will ‘ring the alarm bell’ if no action on Rohingya

July 02, 2019

UNITED NATIONS: The UN envoy for Myanmar said Monday that progress on alleviating the crisis that led more than 720,000 Rohingya Muslims to flee to neighboring Bangladesh has been slow and if there is no action it will be time to “ring the alarm bell.”

Christine Schraner-Burgener was responding to frustrated speeches and questions from many countries — from Bangladesh to Saudi Arabia to the United States — on the lack of progress in returning Rohingya nearly two years after they fled a violent crackdown by Myanmar’s military.

She told the General Assembly there are “not a lot of changes on the ground,” pointing to “many challenges” including Myanmar’s civilian leaders having “to navigate an extremely difficult environment in which the military continues to have considerable political influence.”

In addition, Schraner-Burgener said, “immense complexities” inside the country have been “an impediment” in addition to the Rohingya crisis. She cited Myanmar’s 70 years of isolation, 21 armed groups still operating in the country, a lack of development, drug production and human trafficking.

She said her highest priority remains “ending the vicious cycle of discrimination and violence, especially in Rakhine,” the western state that was home to the Rohingya who fled — and where she said 128,000 displaced Rohingya languish in camps, many for nearly seven years.

As a first step, Schraner-Burgener called for more to be done to end fighting in Rakhine between Myanmar’s military and the Arakan Army, a well-trained guerrilla force from the Buddhist ethnic group seeking autonomy for Rakhine. She said the fighting has displaced 30,000 Buddhists and Muslims.

Buddhist-majority Myanmar has long considered the Rohingya to be “Bengalis” from Bangladesh even though their families have lived in the country for generations. Nearly all have been denied citizenship since 1982, effectively rendering them stateless, and they are also denied freedom of movement and other basic rights.

The long-simmering Rohingya crisis exploded in August 2017 when Myanmar’s military launched what it called a clearance campaign in Rakhine in response to an attack by a Rohingya insurgent group. The campaign led to the mass Rohingya exodus to Bangladesh and to accusations that security forces committed mass rapes and killings and burned thousands of homes.

Amnesty International accused Myanmar’s military in late May of a new round of widespread human rights violations in its battles against the Arakan Army since January 2019. The rights group said the military carried out indiscriminate killings of civilians as well as arbitrary arrests and torture, but it also said the Arakan rebels committed abuses against civilians including kidnappings though on a lesser scale.

Schraner-Burgener said the fighting involving the Arakan Army “is having a devastating impact on all local communities caught in the crossfire, independent of their religious or ethnic background.” And “it is also further impacting efforts toward the dignified, voluntary and safe return of refugees,” she said.

US deputy political coordinator Elaine French expressed deep concern that little progress has been made in improving conditions in Rakhine, “while the military’s conflict with the Arakan Army continue to escalate and civilian casualties rise by the day.”

The United States agrees with the UN that conditions aren’t conducive for Rohingya refugees to return, she said, and the government’s suspension of Internet service in Rakhine “casts further doubt on its commitment to creating conditions that allow people to feel they can live in safety and security.”

Schraner-Burgener said that while there have not been “a lot of changes on the ground ... we have to continue because we want to see people who go back have freedom of movement” and access to health and education.

She told diplomats critical of the lack of progress: “I assure you also that I need to see action on the ground. If I don’t see action, I will raise this and will also ring the alarm bell.”

In a positive step, Schraner-Burgener said Myanmar has produced a draft national strategy to close camps for displaced Rohingya with support from international experts, the UN and others. But she stressed that this must be part of a larger effort that deals with their freedom to move, get jobs and receive basic services.

Myanmar’s UN ambassador, Hau Do Suan, said the government has approved the return of about 13,000 Rohingya from Bangladesh, from two lists totaling over 30,000 Rohingya, and plans to send a high-level delegation to Cox’s Bazar to explain arrangements for repatriation.

Despite challenges involving development, human rights and security including Arakan Army attacks, he said, Myanmar is determined to continue efforts “to build peace, stability, harmony and development in Rakhine state.”

http://www.arabnews.com/node/1519236/world

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Mullah Baradar Joins Taliban Talks In Qatar To End Stalemate On Draft Agreement

Tahir Khan

JULY 2, 2019

Taliban political office head Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar joined negotiations with the US officials in Qatar on Monday to resolve differences over a draft agreement, Taliban sources in Qatar said.

Taliban had earlier indicated reaching an agreement with the US on a timeframe for the withdrawal of foreign troops and the Taliban assurance to prevent Afghanistan from being used against the US, its allies and any other country. However, they could not reach any deal until late Monday. Earlier, a message shared with Taliban officials indicated that a decision of the Qatar talks could be announced on Monday that will be a ‘success for the Islamic Emirate’. Sources say the current round of talks was scheduled to continue for three days and Monday was the last day. But now Taliban sources say the talks will continue on Tuesday as well.

Baradar also met US chief negotiator Zalmay Khalilzad at the venue of the talks to finalize the deal, Taliban officials said. Sher Abbas Stanekzai is leading the Taliban team and Baradar joined the talks for the first time in three days.

Meanwhile, Taliban spokesman in Qatar Suhail Shaheen said negotiations with Afghan sides will start after a timeframe for the withdrawal of foreign troops is announced in the presence of international guarantors. “But there will be no talks with the Kabul administration in its official capacity,” he tweeted, a day after the Afghan Foreign Ministry announced that Germany will host the representatives of the Taliban and the Afghan government this month.

Afghan Foreign Ministry Sibghatullah Ahmadi had told reporters in Kabul on Sunday that direct talks between the Taliban and the Afghan government could begin within two weeks.

Both sides are also trying to remove differences as whether the word ‘Islamic Emirate’ or Taliban will be used in the draft agreement, sources said, adding that the US opposes the use of Islamic Emirate. The Taliban had been insisting on the use of the Islamic Emirate, which they used during their rule since 1996 to 2001. The use of Islamic Emirate for their political office in Qatar in 2013 had annoyed former president Hamid Karzai, whose protest led to the closure of the office days after its opening.

Taliban and the US had agreed on a draft during the last round in May about the troop withdrawal and terrorism, and sources now say they are introducing amendments and rewriting the draft. As the Taliban and the US are trying to finalize the peace deal during the ongoing talks, efforts are underway for the intra-Afghan dialogue to decide the future set up of Afghanistan.

Taliban spokesman Suhail Shaheen had earlier told Daily Times that Germany, Uzbekistan and Indonesia had offered to host intra-Afghan dialogue but they have not yet agreed to the their proposals.

Daily Times has learnt that Pakistan had invited Taliban to attend a conference on Afghan peace in Bhurban on June 23 but they declined the invitation.

Full report at:

https://dailytimes.com.pk/422244/mullah-baradar-joins-taliban-talks-in-qatar-to-end-stalemate-on-draft-agreement/

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Latest Taliban Attacks Kill At Least 42 Afghan Forces

By Ayaz Gul

June 29, 2019

ISLAMABAD - The Taliban has killed dozens of government forces in its latest battlefield attacks in Afghanistan as the insurgent group opens a new round of peace negotiations with the United States in Qatar to discuss a political settlement to the deadly Afghan war.

Officials in northern Baghlan province said Saturday a large group of insurgents assaulted several security outposts in Nahreen district, triggering hours-long fierce clashes.

The district chief, Fazluddin Mardi, told VOA the attack killed 26 in the pro-government anti-Taliban forces and wounded eight others. He asserted that insurgents also suffered heavy casualties but gave no further details.

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid gave a much higher casualty toll for Afghan forces, saying several senior commanders were also among those killed.

Attack in Kandahar province

The Taliban also carried out an early morning attack against police posts in southern Kandahar province. A security official told VOA the insurgent raid in the Takhta Pol district near the airport of the provincial capital, also named Kandahar, killed 16 policemen and wounded four others.

The insurgent group in a statement claimed it killed 20 Afghan police personnel, though Taliban spokesman people often issue inflated claims for such attacks.

Taliban captured

Separately, provincial governor Hayatullah Hayat told a news conference Afghan forces have captured 40 Taliban members during recent raids in the Kandahar city. He claimed a large number of the detainees are specially trained insurgents tasked to carry out guerrilla attacks in urban centers.

The deadly violence came ahead of Saturday's seventh round of peace negotiations between the Taliban and U.S. negotiators led by Afghan-born American diplomat, Zalmay Khalilzad.

The two sides are expected to finalize a draft text outlining insurgent commitments that Taliban-controlled areas will not be allowed to become a hub of international terrorism. In return, the Taliban says, Washington has promised to announce a troop withdrawal timeline.

Full report at:

https://www.voanews.com/south-central-asia/latest-taliban-attacks-kill-least-42-afghan-forces

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Taliban Kills Eight Election Commission Employees in South Afghanistan

30 June, 2019

Taliban militants killed eight election commission employees on Saturday night inside a district center in Afghanistan's southern province of Kandahar, officials said.

The employees of the Independent Election Commission were stationed at the government office in Maruf district to register voters when hard-line militants launched the attack.

Taliban has claimed responsibility for the attack, Reuters reported.

Taliban spokesman, Qari Yousuf Ahmadi, said they killed election commission employees and 57 members of the Afghan National Defence and Security Forces (ANDSF). They also captured 11 others with five vehicles and a large cache of weapons during the attack at the district center.

However, according to Afghan government officials, the Taliban had exaggerated the casualty figures.

Qaseem Azad, a secretary of the Kandahar police said ANDSF suffered some casualties, without providing further details.

Full report at:

https://aawsat.com/english/home/article/1791296/taliban-kills-eight-election-commission-employees-south-afghanistan

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At least 50 children wounded in Taliban attack on Kabul

Jul 1, 2019

KABUL: At least 50 children were among nearly 100 people wounded Monday when the Taliban detonated a powerful car bomb in an area of Kabul housing military and government buildings, officials said.

The rush-hour blast, which sent a plume of smoke into the air and shook buildings nearly two kilometres (1.2 miles) away, was followed by gunmen storming a building and triggering a gun battle with special forces in the Puli Mahmood Khan neighbourhood of the Afghan capital.

The health ministry said at least one person had been killed and 93 wounded.

Among them were 50 children, the education ministry said in a statement, adding that most had been hurt by flying glass and were in stable condition.

Some social media images purportedly taken at a hospital showed wounded, stunned children in school uniforms, still clutching books as they arrived for treatment.

In its statement, the education ministry said five schools had been partially damaged, and asked "all sides involved in fighting to guarantee the safety of students, teachers, education workers and schools".

The Taliban claimed the attack, which came just two days after the insurgents began a seventh round of talks with the US in Qatar as Washington eyes a breakthrough before Afghanistan's September presidential election.

Militant spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid said the insurgents had targeted a defence ministry building in the area, which was quickly blocked off by Afghan forces and ambulances, with helicopter gunships seen overhead as gunfire continued.

Authorities have not confirmed the target, but Interior ministry spokesman Nasrat Rahimi said the area had been cordoned off by special forces who were "bringing down" the attackers, with at least two killed.

"Security forces also rescued 210 civilians from buildings nearby," he said.

AFP reporters could hear gunshots and multiple smaller explosions as fighting continued nearly seven hours after the first blast.

"We were sitting inside the office when the world turned upside down on us," Zaher Usman, an employee at a branch of the culture ministry, which he said stands just 150 metres (yards) from the blast.

"When I opened my eyes, the office was filled with smoke and dust and everything was broken, my colleagues were screaming," Usman told AFP by telephone.

Shams Amini, a spokesman for the Afghan Football Federation, told AFP that the blast occurred near their HQ gates, and said some colleagues had been injured.

Nearby Shamshad TV station, which was attacked in 2017, aired images of broken glass and damage to its offices. "I was terrified," Shamshad anchor Hashmat Stanikzai told AFP. A media watchdog said seven Shamshad journalists were among the wounded.

The attack came as the US was set to begin a third day of negotiations with the militants in Doha. There was no immediate confirmation if they would go ahead after the blast.

With the attack still ongoing, the Taliban spokesman in Doha again insisted that the insurgents will not negotiate with Kabul.

"Once the timeline for the withdrawal of foreign forces is set in the presence of international observers, then we will begin the talks to the Afghan sides, but we will not talk to the Kabul administration as a government," Suhail Shaheen tweeted.

A potential deal would see the US agree to withdraw its troops after more than 17 years in Afghanistan, igniting deep concerns among Afghans who fear Washington will rush for the exits and allow the militants to return to some semblance of power.

In return, the Taliban would guarantee the country would never again become a safe haven for violent extremism, as happened with al-Qaida before the September 11, 2001 attacks.

Full report at:

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/south-asia/at-least-50-children-wounded-in-taliban-attack-on-kabul/articleshow/70030388.cms

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Protecting Bangladesh from cyber criminals

July 1, 2019

Bangladesh has moved rapidly into the digital age. Last year, Parliament passed the Digital Security Act to protect citizen data and privacy and to safeguard against false digital publications that incite violence. Statutes like this have been enacted around the world.

Unfortunately, a few Western media outlets and non-governmental groups have mischaracterized this important law and accused the government of using it to suppress free speech and the rights of journalists.

This isn’t true. Bangladesh has a thriving, free press. Its nine national newspapers and its more than 300 local newspapers represent a wide range of viewpoints, including many that are critical of the government. Bangladesh’s sole state-owned network reports the government’s perspective, but the nearly 30 privately owned networks report the news as they see it, regularly criticizing the government, politicians and their policies. The same diversity of views can be found among the more than 220 independently run news sites online.

Rather than trying to oppress these outlets, the government has taken steps to ensure that minority voices are heard and that all Bangladeshis are protected from cyber criminals. But just as digital media and related technologies continue to evolve, so too will this regulatory framework. The Digital Security Act, like any new law, isn’t perfect.

Freedom has its challenges; democracy is messy. Bangladesh has embraced both freedom and democracy. The Digital Security Act aspires to protect the tenets of both while ensuring citizens’ safety. That combination isn’t simple or easy to balance.

Authorities are working diligently to develop best enforcement practices. But there have been some growing pains. As many news outlets have reported, several individuals have been arrested under the Act and protesters have made their dissatisfaction known. It is worth noting, however, that the courts have not convicted anyone under the Act.

Drafted by Bangladesh’s Information and Communication Technology Division, the Act was thoroughly debated in Parliament, in the media and in legal circles. Journalists, editors and even the editors’ guild provided valuable advice that helped shape the final product. The result was a compromise and an understanding that the law would have to change as new technologies emerge and as authorities learn from experience how to enforce it.

But our primary objective will not change. The government must protect citizens from digital extortion, blackmail and cyberbullying, while making sure minorities are heard. One part of the Act prohibits speech that “hurts religious feelings.” This was meant to protect the rights and safety of both the Muslim majority and Hindu minority. Other sections safeguard minorities by providing penalties for disseminating information intended to intimidate the powerless.

The Digital Security Act is also a landmark step to preserve the memory of the 3 million people who were killed during the genocide perpetrated during Bangladesh’s War of Liberation. Like Germany and 15 other European nations, the Act prohibits the deliberate dissemination of misinformation about those crimes against humanity.

Bangladesh’s history necessitates such precautions. More than 90 percent of the population is Muslim; the remainder is Hindu. Seemingly innocuous, fake news stories can have dramatic and tragic outcomes. For example, a recent Facebook post showed a phony image of a Hindu deity inside Islam’s holiest mosque in Mecca. In response, Islamist extremists vandalized 15 Hindu temples and 100 homes in Nasirnager, Bangladesh, northeast of Dhaka, the capital. It didn’t matter that the image had clearly been photo-shopped.

The Digital Security Act seeks to discourage such behavior. Critics argue that its language is too broad and has the potential to restrict press freedoms. Prime Minister Hasina has made clear that a free press is a cornerstone of democracy in Bangladesh. But the media must also act responsibly. It must seek facts, adhere to the truth and be cognizant of public safety.

When members of the press violate the law, they cannot expect to be immune from prosecution simply because of their profession. When the press knowingly disseminates false information that leads to injury, they must be held to account.

Full report at:

https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2019/jul/1/bangladesh-wants-digital-security-not-censorship/

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Afghan Special Forces kill 7 ISIS Khurasan militants in Nangarhar province

01 Jul 2019

The Afghan Special Forces conducted an operation against the militnts of Islamic State of Iraq and Syria Khurasan in Nangarhar province.

The informed military sources said Sunday that the Special Forces conducted the operation in Achin district.

The sources further added that the Special Forces killed 7 ISIS militants during the operation.

The anti-government armed elements have not commented regarding the operation so far.

The security situation in Nangarhar province has deteriorated during the recent months.

Both Taliban and ISIS militants are active in some districts of the province and often conduct terrorist related activities.

Meanwhile, the Afghan forces routinely conduct counter-terrorism operations against the anti-government armed groups in this province.

Full report at:

https://www.khaama.com/afghan-special-forces-kill-7-isis-khurasan-militants-in-nangarhar-province-03781/

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Taliban militants detonate 4 car bombs, loses 25 fighters in failed attack in Kandahar

30 Jun 2019

The Afghan security forces killed 25 militants during an intense battle in Maruf district of Kandahar on Saturday night.

The Ministry of Interior in a statement said the Taliban militants launched a major offensive on Maruf district compound by detonating four car bombs.

However, the interior ministry said the security forces effectively responded to the assault and killed 25 militants during an intense gun battle.

Meanwhile, the Kandahar Police Chief Gen. Tadin Khan Achakzai confirmed that Taliban militants detonated car bombs during an attack on Maruf district compound.

Gen. Tadin Khan further added that some security personnel also lost their lives during the attack.

The security situation in Kandahar province has deteriorated during the recent months.

Taliban militants are active in some districts of the province and often conduct terrorist related activities.

Meanwhile, the Afghan forces routinely conduct counter-terrorism operations against the anti-government armed groups in this province.

Full report at:

https://www.khaama.com/taliban-militants-detonate-4-car-bombs-loses-25-fighters-in-failed-attack-in-kandahar-03775/

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Taliban militants suffer in Special Forces raid, airstrikes in Paktika and Ghazni

02 Jul 2019

The security forces killed 10 Taliban militants during separate operations conducted in Ghazni and Paktika provinces.

The informed military sources said Tuesday that airstrikes killed 7 Taliban militants in Sar Hawza district of Paktika province.

Furthermore, the Afghan Special Forces killed 3 Taliban militants during an operation in Andar district of Ghazni.

The Special Forces also wounded 1 Taliban fighter and destroyed 2 vehicles belonging to Taliban. 

Full report at:

https://www.khaama.com/taliban-militants-suffer-in-special-forces-raid-airstrikes-in-paktika-and-ghazni-03790/

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Germany, Qatar to host intra-Afghan dialogue from 7 to 8 July: Khalilzad

02 Jul 2019

The governments of Germany and Qatar will host the intra-Afghan dialogue conference from 7th to 8th of July.

The U.S. envoy for Afghan peace Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad informed regarding the scheduled conference on Monday.

Ambassador Khalilzad said in a Twitter post that Germany and Qatar have agreed to host the conference from 7-8 July.

He also added “This dialogue is an essential element of the four-part peace framework and an important step in advancing the Afghan Peace Process.”

Ambassador Khalilzad made the announcement amid ongoing talks with the Taliban political leaders.

The 7th round of the talks between the U.S. and Taliban representatives kicked off in Qatari capital of Doha few days back.

The sixth round of talks between U.S. and Taliban representatives concluded earlier in May.

Ambassador Khalilzad had said the sixth round of talks made steady but slow progress on the aspects of the framework for end the war in Afghanistan.

Full report at:

https://www.khaama.com/germany-qatar-to-host-intra-afghan-dialogue-from-7-to-8-july-khalilzad-03788/

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Southeast Asia

 

Religious Fundamentalism a Creeping Problem in State Universities: Survey

JULY 01, 2019

Jakarta. Religious teaching in Indonesian state universities could be amplifying fundamentalist tendencies among their students, making them more accepting of extremist ideas, a recent survey has shown.

Setara Institute's "Students' Religious Model," a new study released on Sunday, involved one thousand respondents with various religious beliefs from 10 state universities in Indonesia.

The study was intended to find out the students' views on religious fundamentalism, conservatism, inclusivity and religious violence.

The survey featured yes-or-no questions, including the following: "The road to salvation in the world and afterlife can only be found in my religion"; "Only my religion could answer the spiritual needs of every human"; "My religion is perfect and does not need an extra guidance from others"; "Only my religion could create justice for all Indonesians"; "Indonesia will be safe if everyone follows the same religion."

According to the study, the way people act toward followers of other religions are influenced by many factors, but family upbringing is one of the most prominent.

"[It depends on] the students. University campuses are neither inclusive or exclusive [in general]," Setara Institute researcher Noryamin Aini said on Sunday.

The study puts forward the proposition that fundamentalist views can strengthen religious faith and are not necessarily harmful to society, but can also have a negative effect if social pressures or irresponsible teaching lead them to a more extreme direction.

"Religious fundamentalism could become the root of exclusivism and intolerant behavior if students' social life also follows a strict fundamentalist vision," Noryamin said.

Policy Changes Needed

The deputy director of Setara Institute, Bonar "Choky" Tigor Naipospos, said the study will be submitted to the government, along with suggestions for policy changes.

One of the suggestions is for the Education and Culture Ministry to move the compulsory religion course at state universities from the first semester to the fifth semester. This should prevent new students from being recruited by campus-based religious groups.

Another of Setara's suggestions is to employ philosophy graduates as lecturers of the religion course.

"If a lecturer belongs to an exclusive religious group, he will force his beliefs on his students," Choky said.

The study also suggests that the ministry should monitor religious fundamentalism at all state universities and send in tolerant religious figures to give lectures there.

Setara's executive director Ismail Hasani said the government would do well to pay close attention to the study and that President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo should focus on countering intolerance and radicalism in his second term.

State Universities Ranked by Their Religious Fundamentalism

The Setara study also includes a ranking of state universities according to the strength of their students' fundamentalist views. The higher the score, the more fundamentalist the students in the university are likely to be.

According to the list, students at Bandung State Islamic University are the most fundamentalist. The Jakarta branch of the same university is ranked second. This is the full list:

- Bandung State Islamic University, "religious fundamentalism score" of 45

- Jakarta State Islamic University, 33

- Mataram University, 32

- Bogor Agricultural Institute, 24

- Yogyakarta State University, 22

- Gadjah Mada University, 12

- Brawijaya University, 13

- Bandung Institute of Technology, 10

- Airlangga University, 8

- University of Indonesia, 7

https://jakartaglobe.id/context/religious-fundamentalism-a-creeping-problem-in-state-universities-survey

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Philippines: Abu Sayyaf chief likely plotted suicide attacks

June 29, 2019

JOLO, Philippines — An Abu Sayyaf commander aligned with the Islamic State group most likely plotted the suicide attacks on an army camp in the volatile southern Philippines by two militants whose identities remain unknown, a Philippine official said Saturday.

Interior Secretary Eduardo Ano cited intelligence as showing Hajan Sawadjaan most likely harbored the two suicide bombers and plotted Friday’s attack in an army camp that killed three soldiers, two civilians and themselves. The military says 22 other soldiers and civilians were wounded.

The Islamic State group claimed in a statement that two of its fighters carried out the attack with explosive belts but overstated the military casualties at about 100. It posted what it claimed was a picture of the two young-looking militants before the attack, wearing what appeared to be explosive vests and standing beside a black IS-style flag with lush foliage in the backdrop.

Ano and other security officials have previously blamed Sawadjaan, who is based in the jungles of Sulu province’s mountainous Patikul town, for the Jan. 27 suicide bombing of a Roman Catholic cathedral during a Mass that killed 23 people in Sulu’s capital town of Jolo. He is also the suspected mastermind of a July 31, 2018, explosion of a bomb-laden van that killed its driver, reportedly a foreign jihadist with Moroccan blood, and 10 other people in nearby Basilan province.

The Associated Press has seen a captured militant’s video of the foreign jihadist, who used the nom de guerre Abu Kathir Al-Maghribi, with Sawadjaan and his men in a jungle encampment before the foreign militant died in last year’s blast in Basilan.

Philippine officials vowed to hunt down and destroy Sawadjaan and his men.

“We’ve monitored Sawadjaan’s group training suicide bombers before they were deployed. So we will go to the source and destroy his camp,” Ano said.

“If these bandits have not learned from the terrorists who were annihilated in Marawi, then this time they will,” said presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo, referring to the southern city where Philippine troops quelled a five-month siege two years ago and killed hundreds of Islamic State group-linked militants and their commanders.

In Friday’s attack, military officials said one militant tried to enter the camp but set off his explosive when he was stopped, killing three soldiers at the gate. The second militant dashed into the camp but was shot by other soldiers. He yelled “Allahu akbar,” or “God is great,” before detonating the bomb that he carried, damaging vehicles in a parking lot.

If the two attackers turn out to be Filipinos, they would be the first known local suicide attackers in the country’s south, a prospect deemed unlikely by some Filipino officials in the past. The southern region has been the scene of decades-long minority Muslim unrest in the largely Roman Catholic nation.

“Philippine authorities were always deluding themselves to think that somehow it was impossible culturally for Filipinos to become suicide bombers,” said Jakarta-based terrorism analyst Sidney Jones. “This isn’t about culture, it’s about indoctrination, and no one is culturally ‘immune.’”

The suicide attacks underscore an effort by Islamic State group supporters in the region, especially in the Philippines, to show that despite the brutal group’s battle setbacks in the Middle East, “their commitment to the caliphate remains and their fight will continue,” Jones said.

Full report at:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/asia_pacific/philippines-abu-sayyaf-chief-likely-plotted-suicide-attacks/2019/06/29/a3f9a444-9a44-11e9-9a16-dc551ea5a43b_story.html?noredirect&utm_term=.886afcdd1c8e

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After BN objecting asset declarations, PAS also says Islam disallows the move

Ida Nadirah Ibrahim

1 July 2019

KUALA LUMPUR, July 1 — Islam does not allow the declaration of wealth as there would be many other who would observe the matter and this would raise security concerns, says PAS deputy president Datuk Tuan Ibrahim Tuan Man.

The Kubang Kerian had cited an Islamic scripture in objection against the special motion to compel all lawmakers to declare their assets, stating that the safety of the individuals who had declared their assets have to be taken into account, as the proposed motion involves family members as well.

“In Islam, there is a hadeeth that says if God has given you wealth, do not delare it to the public as there are many observers.

Full report at:

https://sg.news.yahoo.com/bn-objecting-asset-declarations-pas-055340136.html

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Johor eyes making non-Muslims attend marriage school as divorces soar

02 July 2019

BY BEN TAN

ISKANDAR PUTERI, July 2 — The Johor government is planning compulsory pre-marriage courses for non-Muslim couples to try and reduce divorce rates in the state, said an official.

Johor Tourism, Women, Family and Community Development Committee chairman Liow Cai Tung said the state government, through the Darul Ta'zim Family Development Foundation (YPKDT), is developing a family module for non-Muslim couples.

“This module is being developed by the foundation in collaboration with Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM).

“We will then propose to the state government that each non-Muslim couple who intends to get married must attend and obtain a pre-marriage certificate first,” said Liow.

She said this in a reply to Gan Peck Cheng (PH-Penggaram) at the Johor state assembly in Kota Iskandar here today.

On divorce rates, Liow (PH-Johor Jaya) said a total of 9,691 divorce cases involving non-Muslim couples were recorded between 2014 and this year.

She said the National Registration Department (NRD) recorded 1,750 cases of non-Muslim couples in 2014, which increased to 1,765 cases in 2015.

This continued rising to 1,973 in 2016, 1,749 in 2017, 2,016 cases last year and 438 cases in the year to date.

“According to the records of the Islamic Development Department of Malaysia (Jakim), divorce rates among Muslim couples in the state were also quite high, ranked only second after Selangor for 2015 to 2017.

“Overall, the proportion of Muslim couples in the state for the period was 13,593, compared to Selangor (25,775 cases),” said Liow.

Full report at:

https://www.malaymail.com/news/malaysia/2019/07/02/johor-eyes-making-non-muslims-attend-marriage-school-as-divorces-soar/1767434

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Court tells why Muslim mum ordered to surrender custody of kids to Buddhist dad

July 1, 2019

PETALING JAYA: The Court of Appeal said it awarded full custody of two siblings to their Buddhist father as their Muslim convert mother “placed her interest above theirs”.

The court, in explaining its decision to set aside the custody order favouring the mother, said she had previously breached a High Court consent order, before the start of divorce proceedings.

“The mother had brought the siblings to the mosque and even planned to enrol them in an Islamic school, although both parties agreed in the consent order that the children shall not be influenced into embracing another religion until they attain the age of majority,” the court said in its written judgment made available online.

The mother converted to Islam in December 2015 while she and her then husband were in the midst of divorce. She converted the siblings in May 2016.

She obtained full custody of the siblings in April last year at the Shah Alam High Court, but the Court of Appeal reversed the lower court’s ruling and awarded custody to the father.

The father also won his case to quash the siblings’ conversion to Islam. He claimed she converted them with the intention of winning custody.

The appeal by the mother and the Federal Territories Islamic Religious Department’s (Jawi) muallaf registrar against the quashing of the children’s conversion will be heard on Oct 29.

In its written judgment, the appeals court mentioned another incident where the mother disregard the safety of one of the children.

“She had lost the elder daughter in June last year after performing her prayers. The daughter had to walked back to her father’s house at night, feeling scared and in tears,” it said.

The court also said the High Court judicial commissioner who heard the divorce petition had erred in her decision by finding that the father could not take care of his children because he had to manage two companies.

“The father said he is a director of one company and another company, mentioned by the mother in her evidence, has been wound up,” the judgment read.

Full report at:

https://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/nation/2019/07/01/court-tells-why-muslim-mum-ordered-to-surrender-childrens-custody-to-buddhist-dad/

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PAS claims Islam does not allow asset declarations

01 July 2019

BY IDA NADIRAH IBRAHIM

KUALA LUMPUR, July 1 — Islam does not allow the declaration of wealth as this would raise security concerns, says PAS deputy president Datuk Tuan Ibrahim Tuan Man.

The Kubang Kerian MP cited an Islamic scripture in objection against the special motion to compel all lawmakers to declare their assets, stating that the safety of the individuals who had declared their assets have to be taken into account, as the proposed motion involves family members as well.

“In Islam, there is a hadith that says if God has given you wealth, do not declare it to the public as there are many observers,” he told reporters at the Parliament, referring to the records of Prophet Muhammad.

“Our country also has enough laws to monitor the assets [of the MPs], such as reporting our income annually to the Inland Revenue Board.”

He however did not specify which hadith he was referring to.

Tuan Ibrahim added that the Islamist party conditionally opposed the motion unless it came in the form of legislation.

“If it is just a motion then there’s no point. We have to be smart when we table something in Parliament; we cannot be hasty about it.

“One must first study the implications and not be desperate about it, and later on retract it. This will show that we were not thorough on any issue. We need to be careful before we table something in Parliament,” he said.

Tuan Ibrahim further argued Opposition lawmakers also did not have the power to award contracts like their counterparts in the ruling coalition, which he said negated the need for them to declare their assets.

When asked about those from the Barisan Nasional (BN) era, he insisted that the coalition’s lawmakers had declared their assets to the authorities then.

“They had declared their assets before, the information was there.

“When you are part of the government you would have to declare and the information was available with the federal administration,” he said.

The special motion to compel all lawmakers to declare their assets was tabled in Dewan Rakyat today at noon.

The motion proposes referring lawmakers who do not comply to the Parliament’s Select Committee on Rights and Privileges.

Full report at:

https://www.malaymail.com/news/malaysia/2019/07/01/PAS-claims-Islam-does-not-allow-asset-declarations/1767097

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Indonesia Catches Suspected Leader of Jemaah Islamiyah Terror Group

2019-07-01

Indonesian police on Monday announced the arrest of the suspected leader of Jemaah Islamiyah, al-Qaeda’s Southeast Asian militant network that authorities blamed for Indonesia’s deadliest terrorist attack, the Bali bombings of October 2002.

Suspect Para Wijayanto, 54, who was on a government most-wanted list since 2003, was arrested with his wife, Masitha Yasmin, at a hotel in Bekasi regency near Jakarta on Saturday, national police spokesman Dedi Prasetyo said. He did not release details of what led to Para’s capture nor did he comment on Masitha’s arrest.

In addition, counter-terrorism police arrested three men they described as Para’s trusted aides – identified as Abdurrahman, Budi Trikaryanto and Bambang Suyoso – in separate locations on Sunday, Dedi said.

Police allege that Para assumed leadership of Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) and rebuilt terror cells after 2007, when a court in the world’s largest Muslim-majority country declared it an illegal organization.

“JI underwent a metamorphosis in 2007 after it was disbanded. Para was installed as the emir of JI in Indonesia,” Dedi said.

In 2000, Para undertook military training in the southern Philippines, where he learned intelligence and bomb-making skills, said Dedi, who described the suspect as a civil engineering graduate from a reputable university in Java.

Para allegedly had roles in several deadly JI attacks including the coordinated bombings on Christmas Eve 2000 that killed 18 people, and the 2002 Bali bombings that killed 202, including 88 Australians.

Police have blamed JI members for other attacks including the 2003 bombing at the J.W. Marriott Hotel in Jakarta, in which 12 were killed, the 2004 attack on the Australian Embassy that killed nine, and the 2009 twin bombings at the J.W. Marriott and Ritz Carlton hotels in Jakarta that killed seven along with two suicide bombers.

In addition to his efforts in rebuilding JI, Para provided intelligence and helped recruit militants in Poso, Central Sulawesi province between 2005 and 2007, Dedi said. Poso had been the scene of previous clashes between Muslims and Christians that left thousands dead.

“Para took advantage of his intelligence skills to help the network in Poso which later morphed into the Eastern Indonesia Mujahideen,” Dedi said.

Fervently opposed to the Islamic State

Sidney Jones, an expert on Islamic militancy in Indonesia and director of the Institute for Policy Analysis of Conflict (IPAC), said Para was appointed as JI emir, or leader, in 2008 and appeared to have remained in the leadership role.

Jones said that while JI was a threat, she cautioned against lumping it with Islamic State (IS).

“As far as we know, JI leaders like Para Wijayanto and Abu Rusdan still see violence in Indonesia as counter-productive. They don’t support violence and are fervently opposed to ISIS,” Jones told BenarNews, using a different acronym for the IS.

She said Para and other JI leaders wanted the group to expand gradually to create a Muslim state in Indonesia.

“That doesn’t mean that they don’t see violence as legitimate, it’s just that they, for the time being, aren’t engaged in violence because in their opinion, there’s no public support and it creates more harm than good,” she added.

Still, JI leaders believe they must prepare for future jihad, Jones said.

“They believe in military training, so it’s likely they supported their followers who traveled to Syria, or even sent them there, but not to join ISIS, but fight them,” she said.

Jones said JI had severed ties with its co-founder, cleric Abu Bakar Bashir, who is serving a 15-year-jail term, after he founded the Indonesian Mujahideen Council.

Bashir was arrested after the 2002 Bali bombings, but prosecutors could not link him to that attack. A Jakarta court did find him guilty of falsifying documents and sentenced him to 18 months in prison.

The cleric was jailed after his 2010 arrest and sentenced in 2011 to 15 years on charges that he helped fund a training camp for Islamic militants in Aceh province, and incited extremists to carry out terrorist attacks.

Full report at:

https://www.benarnews.org/english/news/indonesian/leader-arrested-07012019135132.html

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Arab World

 

Iraqi Leaders Say Country Deserves Global Support After Long Fight Against Islamic State

June 30, 2019

Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi has called on the world community to bolster its support for reconstruction efforts in his war-devastated country given the sacrifices it has made in the fight against Islamic State (IS) militants.

Abdul-Mahdi was speaking on June 29 during a meeting with a visiting UN Security Council delegation, the first such visit to Iraq.

The delegation also met with Iraqi President Barham Salih, who told the group that Baghdad had a desire to resolve international matters "by encouraging dialogue between all sides."

Baghdad has offered to help mediate between the United States and Iran to help ease long-standing tensions between the two rivals.

Salih also said it was important "to preserve Iraq's sovereignty, security, and unity amid the crises the region is witnessing.

Iraq declared victory over IS extremists in July 2017 following the recapture by government forces of Mosul, three years after Iraq’s second-largest city was taken by IS fighters who declared it the capital of their so-called Islamic caliphate.

But after years of fighting, Iraqi cities and towns were left in ruins, and Baghdad has struggled to raise funds for the rebuilding process. Global donors pledged $30 billion last year, but experts and government officials have estimated that more than $88 billion is needed.

Iraq still hosts more than 5,000 U.S. troops, and powerful Iranian-backed militias also operate in the country.

https://www.rferl.org/a/iraqi-leaders-say-country-deserves-global-support-after-long-fight-against-islamic-state/30028505.html

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Iraqi cleric plans ‘slow coup to end corruption’

July 01, 2019

BAGHDAD: The influential Iraqi Shiite cleric Muqtada Al-Sadr wants to replace senior government staff with independent professionals in a bid to improve services and fight corruption, according to supporters.

However, a prominent Sadrist leader told Arab News on Monday that Al-Sadr has ruled out demonstrations to pressure Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi into accepting the changes.

Iraqi political factions are embroiled in a bitter struggle for control of thousands of top government jobs, including heads of independent security and inspecting bodies, deputy ministers, ambassadors, university heads, and military and security commanders.

Most of the positions have been run by proxy under the control of the Islamic Dawa Party, which has headed four out of the six governments formed since the 2003 US-led invasion.

Al-Sadr, who has millions of followers and controls the largest parliamentary bloc Sairoon, blames the Dawa party’s appointments for financial and administrative corruption along with a decline in basic daily services.

He believes that “replacing all those senior employees by independent professional technocrats will improve government performance,” the Sadrist leader said.

Al-Sadr also wants to “dismantle the mafia of financial and administrative corruption that controls the ministries and loots public money,” he said.

“We can say that Al-Sadr is leading a peaceful and slow coup to correct the government,” said the leader, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

“The government has been wrongly built and this must be corrected. We are working to achieve change by changing the government decision-makers.”

Under the 2019 general budget, Abdul Mahdi had to end the file of the special grades and the administration run by proxy by June 30.

However, negotiations on the sharing of positions between political factions and powerful parties, including Sairoon and the pro-Iranian parliamentary bloc of Al-Fatah, ended in deadlock.

The three presidencies — the president, speaker of the parliament and the prime minister — on Saturday agreed to extend the deadline until the end of October, political leaders told Arab News.

The Parliament on Sunday initiated voting to approve the extension which will allow senior officials who run their proxy sites to continue working until new staff are decided.

Abdul Mahdi and his government were the result of an agreement between the two largest parliamentary coalitions, Reform led by Al-Sadr and the pro-Iranian Construction led by Hadi Al-Amiri.

Lawmakers for both Al-Sadr and Al-Amiri have said repeatedly in recent months that they are working to dismantle what they called the “deep state,” formed by Nouri Al-Maliki, former Iraqi prime minister.

“All the key players inside Iraq are convinced the situation will not change unless the heart of the government is changed,” a key Sairoon negotiator told Arab News.

“The position of the minister is a political one, and the real power is in the hands of the deputies of ministers and general directors. If we change those, the performance of the government will change, and that is what Al-Sadr wants,” he added.

Demonstrators have taken to the streets in Iraq’s southern provinces over lack of basic services, including drinking water and electricity, and high unemployment.

While activists across the country have been counting on Al-Sadr’s support for the protests, Sadrist offices have not received any directives to join demonstrations in Basra, Nassiriyah and Diwaniyah.

“We have not received any instructions to participate in any demonstration,” Saad Al-Maliki, manager of the Sadr media office in Basra, said.

Protests backed by Al-Sadr have been an effective way of pressuring the government and key leaders since 2003, but often turn violent. At least 22 protesters and security staff were killed last summer in clashes outside government offices, including the Iranian consulate in Basra.

Full report at:

http://www.arabnews.com/node/1519116/middle-east

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US carries out rare strike against al-Qaeda in Syria

Jul 02, 2019

ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – US forces carried out a rare strike against al-Qaeda in Syria on Sunday, killing eight commanders.

US Forces conducted the strike against al-Qaeda in Syria (AQ-S) leadership at a training facility near Aleppo Province on June 30, 2019, the US Central Command (CENTCOM) confirmed on Sunday.

“This operation targeted AQ-S operatives responsible for plotting external attacks threatening U.S. citizens, our partners, and innocent civilians,” CENTCOM said.

According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), the fighters were affiliated with Hurras al-Din, a group that is headed by Abu al-Humam al-Shami, an al-Qaeda senior operative who fought with Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan.

The coalition strike hit a meeting of the organization in the Rif Al-Muhandiseen suburb in the western countryside of Aleppo.

In the strike, at least six commanders of non-Syrian nationalities were killed.

According to the US military, northwestern Syria remains a safe haven for al-Qaeda to “actively coordinate terrorist activities, including planning attacks throughout the region and in the West.”

The Pentagon said it will continue to target Islamic State and al-Qaeda leaders in coordination with their allies and partners “to prevent both groups from using Syria as a safe haven.”

Charles Lister, a senior fellow at the Middle East Institute, on Twitter said that his sources confirmed that figures of Hurras al-Din in Idlib and Aleppo “have on [at least] several occasions raised the importance of re-asserting attention on attacking the West.”

It is not the first time the US has carried out an airstrike in the northwest of Syria against al-Qaeda targets.

On March 17, 2017, the US also carried out an airstrike in the al-Jinah village of Aleppo, targeting an alleged al-Qaeda meeting and killing dozens.

However, the US has normally remains focused on the northeast of Syria, backing the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), while Russia dominates the airspace in the northwest, in support of Damascus.

Idlib was declared a de-escalation zone in an agreement reached last September between Turkey and Russia.

Despite this, there have been regular clashes between Islamist rebels and the regime in Idlib sincr Damascus launched an offensive in April.

They have targeted Hayat Tahrir al-Sham and other rebel groups in northwestern Syria.

Washington has strongly protested strikes that have caused the deaths of hundreds of civilians and the displacement of thousands.

Full report at:

https://www.kurdistan24.net/en/news/ee871cff-029f-4536-b384-e7606b779aa5

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U.S.-led coalition: ISIS militants cleared from Syrian village in massive operation

By Diana Stancy Correll

Jul 02, 2019

Islamic State militants were cleared from the Syrian village Abu Naytl, according to the U.S.-led coalition countering ISIS in Iraq and Syria. The clearing operation marked one of the largest since March when President Donald Trump and the Syrian Democratic Forces announced that ISIS lost its so-called caliphate and territory in Syria.

Forces assigned to Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve aided approximately 1,000 Syrian Democratic Force soldiers in clearing out ISIS from the Syrian town on June 18. The operation was launched after the ISIS fighters intimidated community leaders and infiltrated the village.

"Operations like this show just how much progress has been made in destroying Daesh," Maj. Gen. Christopher Ghika, deputy commander for stability for Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve, said in a statement Friday.

"But that doesn't mean the fight is won,” Ghika said. “Daesh doesn't need territory to remain a global and regional threat as it attempts to resurge. Our resolve remains firm, and we will continue to assist our partners in consolidating their gains and pursuing the remnants of Daesh."

Trump announced in December that ISIS had been defeated in Syria, and his administration announced on March 23 that ISIS no longer had control over the territory it deemed its “caliphate.”

Altogether. Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve and partner forces liberated more than 42,000 square miles from ISIS since 2014.

Still, Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve and Syrian Democratic Forces have administered more than 50 operations against ISIS sleeper cells in Syria since March 23. The operations have led to the detention of 140 known terrorists.

Army Lt. Gen. Paul LaCamera, Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve commanding general, cautioned in March that ISIS would attempt to reemerge in the future, noting that the fight against ISIS had not concluded.

Full report at:

https://www.militarytimes.com/news/your-military/2019/06/28/us-led-coalition-isis-militants-cleared-from-syrian-village-in-massive-operation-since-isis-lost-its-caliphate/

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Lebanon’s Hezbollah ‘Secretly’ Withdrawing from Syria

1 July, 2019

The Lebanese Hezbollah party was secretly pulling out its fighters from Syria away from the media spotlight, said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

Large numbers of its forces have been withdrawn from various regions in Damascus and its countryside, as well as southern Syria.

This explains why its fighters and Iranian militias were limiting their operations in “de-escalation” zones in the war-torn country.

Local sources told the Observatory that Hezbollah pulled out its members towards the al-Zabadani region in the western Damascus countryside.

Full report at:

https://aawsat.com/english/home/article/1792431/lebanon%E2%80%99s-hezbollah-%E2%80%98secretly%E2%80%99-withdrawing-syria

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Iraqi army kills two Islamic State terrorists on border with Syria

by  Mohammed Ebraheem

Jun 30, 2019

Baghdad (IraqiNews.com) – The Iraqi Defense Ministry announced on Sunday that its troops killed two Islamic State terrorists during a military operation on the country’s border with Syria.

The operation was launched after hearing the sound of a large explosion, the ministry said in a statement, adding that the two terrorists tried to escape the scene but the troops managed to kill them.

According to the statement, the troops also found bodies of three Islamic State suicide bombers wearing explosive belts at the scene.

Iraq declared the collapse of Islamic State’s territorial influence in November 2017 with the recapture of Rawa, a city on Anbar’s western borders with Syria, which was the group’s last bastion in Iraq.

Full report at:

https://www.iraqinews.com/iraq-war/iraqi-army-kills-two-islamic-state-terrorists-on-border-with-syria/

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6 IS militants killed in airstrike, anti-IS operation in northern Iraq

2019-07-01

BAGHDAD, June 30 (Xinhua) -- A total of six Islamic State (IS) militants were killed on Sunday in an airstrike carried out by the U.S.-led coalition aircraft and an operation by Iraqi security forces in the northern province of Nineveh, the Iraqi army said.

Acting on intelligence reports, the U.S.-led coalition aircraft carried out an airstrike on a tunnel used by IS militants as a hideout in Ayn al-Jahesh area in south the provincial capital Mosul, the media office of the Joint Operations Command (JOC) said in a statement.

Four extremist IS militants were killed in the airstrike which was conducted in coordination with Nineveh's Operations Command, the statement said.

Also in the province, Iraqi security forces conducted an operation in the village of Um Haram in west of Mosul, killing two IS militants and confiscating an explosive belt and a assault rifle, as well as their vehicle and motorcycle, the JOC said in a separate statement.

The security situation in Iraq was dramatically improved after Iraqi security forces fully defeated the extremists IS militants across the country late in 2017.

Full report at:

http://www.xinhuanet.com/english/2019-07/01/c_138187104.htm

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F-22s Deploy to Qatar for the First Time Amid Iran Tensions

28 Jun 2019

The U.S. Air Force has deployed its F-22 Raptor stealth fighter to the Middle East for increased presence amid ongoing tensions with Iran.

U.S. Air Forces Central Command announced Friday that the jets have arrived in Al Udeid Air Base in Qatar for the first time to "defend American forces and interests." The command posted photos alongside the announcement on social media. Nearly a dozen F-22s are now in the region, the Associated Press reported.

Raptors have in the past been stationed at Al Dhafra Air Base, United Arab Emirates. The fifth-generation fighter had been part of the air campaign against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria since the fight began in 2014; they returned home last fall, and were replaced by F-15C Eagles earlier this year.

In May, the Pentagon sent B-52 Stratofortress bombers to the region as a response to unspecified threats from Iran at the time. The bombers had flown a series of patrols over the Persian Gulf alongside F-15Cs, as well as the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. The Air Force's variant of the fifth-generation fighter deployed to the theater in April, and conducted its first combat strike mission in Iraq on April 30.

The Trump administration announced May 5 it was sending the aircraft carrier Abraham Lincoln and a bomber task force to the Middle East. A week later, the U.S. added even more firepower, sending the amphibious transport dock Arlington and a Patriot missile battery to the region for extra deterrence.

Then F-15E Strike Eagles deployed to Al Dhafra in June to increase aerial presence, according to Air Force Magazine.

When two commercial oil tankers were attacked in the Gulf of Oman this month, the Trump administration blamed Iran. On June 19, Iran shot down a Navy RQ-4 Global Hawk worth more than $100 million, saying the drone had violated its airspace.

Iranian leaders said they had exercised restraint by not shooting down a P-8 Poseidon surveillance aircraft flying in the region. U.S. Central Command officials said neither the RQ-4 nor P-8 entered Iranian airspace that day, but added that U.S. aircraft routinely operate in the region.

The Air Force's top officer this week said intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance flights will continue despite Iran's actions.

Full report at:

https://www.military.com/daily-news/2019/06/28/f-22s-deploy-qatar-first-time-amid-iran-tensions.html

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Lebanon: Guards Killed in Attack on Pro-Hezbollah Minister’s Convoy

30 June, 2019

Two bodyguards of a Lebanese Druze minister, who is close to Hezbollah and the Syrian regime, were killed on Sunday when his convoy came under fire in a mountain area near Beirut.

Saleh al-Gharib, Lebanon's minister of state for refugee affairs, is a member of the Lebanese Democratic Party headed by Druze leader Talal Arslan.

In remarks to a television station, Gharib said "what happened was an armed ambush and a clear assassination attempt".

He said he was heading to the mountain village of Qabr Shamoun near the town of Aley when his convoy came under fire.

The Lebanese army sent reinforcements to the area.

It was not clear who opened fire, but the area was tense Sunday as supporters of Progressive Socialist Party leader Walid Jumblatt closed roads to prevent Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil from touring the region.

Jumblatt said he didn’t want to engage in a media dispute with any side, calling for an investigation into the attack.

Full report at:

https://aawsat.com/english/home/article/1791726/lebanon-guards-killed-attack-pro-hezbollah-minister%E2%80%99s-convoy

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Syria's Air Defense Destroys Missiles Fired From Israeli Warships

Jul 01, 2019

The Arabic-language website of the Russian Sputnik news agency quoted informed sources as saying that the Israeli warships fired six cruise missiles from sea, but they were intercepted and destroyed in the air.

The sources noted that the Syrian Army's S-200 Air Defense System tracked and shot down six Israeli cruise missiles targeting the army's military positions in Homs.

Footage released by Syria’s state-run Sana news agency appears to show missiles being intercepted in mid-air.

The warships attack came as the Israeli jets also targeted military bases near the Syrian cities of Damascus and Homs on Sunday night.

The Israeli warplanes conducted fresh attacks on the Damascus Army's military positions in Eastern and Southern Syria by using Lebanon's airspace, and were confronted by the Syrian Army's air defense batteries.

The SANA news agency quoted a military source as saying the Israeli fighter jets pounded several military positions of the Syrian Army in Homs Province and near Damascus on Sunday night.

He noted that several rockets fired by Israel's fighter jets were destroyed by the Syrian Army's air defense system, and said that four civilians, including a child, were killed and 21 others were injured in the town of Sahnaya in Damascus countryside.

The Arabic-language website of the Russian Sputnik news agency, meantime, quoted a high-ranking military source as saying that six Israeli fighter jets pounded the Syrian Army's military positions in Southwestern Damascus and Southern Homs through Lebanon's airspace.

Sputnik's war correspondent also reported that Syria's Scientific Research Center in Jamraya region in Western Damascus came under Israel's missile attacks.

The Arabic-language Russia Today reported that six Israeli missiles were destroyed by the Syrian Army's air defense system in Southern Damascus, adding that an explosion has been heard in al-Sharaei Airport in Southern Damascus.

Israel had last launched airstrikes on the Syrian Army positions near Damascus and Quneitra in Southern Syria earlier in June.

The Syrian Army's air defense system shot down several Israeli missiles.

Israeli invaders launched two waves of missile attacks from the side of the Occupied Golan, hitting several military positions of the Syrian Army to the Southwest of Damascus and East of Quneitra.

The SANA news agency reported that the Syrian Army's air defense systems were activated right after these attacks and shot down a number of Israeli missiles.

Meantime, the Arabic-language website of the Russian Sputnik News Agency quoted a military source as saying that Israeli warplanes fired six rockets at the Syrian Army's military positions near Damascus, but most of them were destroyed by the Syrian air defense systems.

The Syrian Army's air defense shield also destroyed most of the missiles fired at Tal al-Sha'ar region in the surrounding area of Quneitra. Three Syrian Army soldiers were killed and seven others were wounded in the Israeli aggression.

Meantime, the Israeli Army in a statement claimed that the Israeli helicopters and fighter jets had pounded the Syrian Army's military positions in response to two missiles fired from Syria.

Full report at:

https://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13980410000961

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US-Made Mines Discovered From Tahrir Al-Sham's Abandoned Arms Depot in Quneitra

Jul 01, 2019

The Syrian Army's military units during their cleansing operations in the town of al-Mo'alaqeh near the Occupied Golan and near a former military base of Tahrir al-Sham came across a cache of US military mines.

Meantime, a military source noted that hundreds of mines were found by the Syrian Army from the mine depot of Tahrir al-Sham terrorists, and said that the discovery shows the high volume of US and Israeli military aid to the terrorist groups.

In a relevant development in late May, the Syrian Army discovered a cache of arms and military equipment, including the US and western weapons, during cleansing operations in Quneitra Province in Southern Syria.

The Syrian Army's engineering units discovered several depots packed with weapons and military equipment, some of them made in the US and the West, left behind by terrorists in several towns and villages in Quneitra Province.

The discovered weapons included different kinds of rifles, Rocket-Propelled Grenades (RPGs), machineguns and a large amount of ammunition

A military source, meantime, said that the Syrian Army troops found state-of-the-art telecommunications systems and satellite equipment made in the US and other Western countries.

In a relevant development in mid-May, the Syrian Army seized a large amount of weapons and ammunition, including Israel-made weapons and military equipment in areas formerly held by the terrorists in Quneitra province.

The Syrian Army's engineering units found several arms and military equipment, including many weapons and military equipment, in the army's mop-up operation in the towns and villages of Quneitra province.

Meantime, a military source said that the army forces found a large cache of different types of weapons, machineguns, ammunition, RPG, anti-tank missile, communication equipment, night-vision cameras and also Israel-made military equipment and medicine.

Full report at:

https://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13980410000570

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Lebanon demolishes Syrian refugee shelters as ultimatum expires

1 July 2019

The Lebanese army started destroying Syrian refugee settlements in northeast Lebanon on Monday after the expiry of a government ultimatum, officials said, as aid groups warned of more demolitions in the coming days.

In order to avoid the permanent settlement of Syrian refugees, the government imposed the July 1st deadline to demolish all shelters made out of materials other than timber and plastic.

“At 4:30 am on July 1, military units moved into several camps in Arsal and demolished at least 20 homes,” said a joint statement by seven aid groups, including Save the Children, the Norwegian Refugee Council, and Oxfam.

“We fear that this is the start and more demolitions will take place tomorrow,” it added.

An estimated 15,000 people, including at least 7,500 children, would be affected by the demolitions which would impact up to 3,000 units, the aid groups said.

A Lebanese security source confirmed to AFP that demolitions have started but said that only four empty concrete houses had been destroyed.

The head of the Arsal municipality, Bassel al-Hujeiri, added that Monday’s demolitions were very “limited” and impacted only homes made almost completely out of cement.

The government’s ultimatum had prompted refugees to destroy their own homes in the weeks leading up to the deadline.

As of June 27, less than half of the hard shelters in Arsal had been demolished by their inhabitants, the aid groups said in Monday’s statement.

Lebanon a country of four million people, hosts between 1.5 to two million Syrians, nearly a million of those being registered refugees.

Lebanon only permits informal camps in an effort to stop the refugees from settling permanently.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2019/07/01/Lebanon-demolishes-Syrian-refugee-shelters-as-ultimatum-expires.html

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Syria says civilians among 15 killed in Israeli missile strikes

1 July 2019

Six civilians were among fifteen killed in Israeli missile strikes near Damascus late Sunday, Syria’s state news agency SANA reported.

An AFP correspondent in Damascus reported hearing loud explosions during the night.

The Syrian news agency said the missiles struck near Damascus and in Homs province, where another 21 people were injured.

“Our air defences confronted enemy missiles launched by Israeli warplanes (...) towards some of our positions in Homs and in the vicinity of Damascus,” SANA said, quoting a Syrian military source.

No details were given on the positions.

An Israeli military spokeswoman declined to comment on the report.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based monitor, said the strikes hit several Iranian positions near Damascus and targeted a research center and a military airport west of the city of Homs where Hezbollah and Iranians are deployed.

Rami Abdel Rahman, the observatory chief, said the strikes injured some of these forces.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2019/07/01/US-envoys-lend-a-hand-as-Israel-digs-down-in-East-Jerusalem.html

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Syria writes to UN over repeated Israeli attacks, calls for ‘decisive’ action

Jul 2, 2019

Syria’s Foreign Ministry has urged the United Nations to take the necessary measures to stop Israel’s repeated acts of military aggression on the Arab country after four people lost their lives in the latest such airstrikes.

Israeli warplanes fired missiles at areas in the capital, Damascus, and its countryside as well as the province of Homs at 12.35 a.m. local time on Monday from Lebanese airspace, leaving four people, including a baby, dead and injuring 21 others, most of them women and children, the ministry said.

In two identical letters to UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and the head of the UN Security Council (UNSC), the ministry slammed the air raids as a “flagrant violation” of UNSC Resolution 350 of 1974 on the disengagement of forces between the two sides.

It noted that the attacks were aimed at prolonging the crisis in the country.

Tel Aviv would not have been able to push ahead with such a “dangerous hostile approach” if it had not been for the US administration’s “unlimited support” as well as the regime’s “immunity from punishment” provided by Washington and certain Security Council members.

There has been a rise in Israeli aerial assaults against Syrian territory since late March, when US President Donald Trump recognized the “Israeli sovereignty” over the Tel Aviv-occupied side of Syria’s Golan Heights in defiance of international law.

The Damascus government further urged the Security Council to shoulder its responsibilities and “take immediate and decisive” steps towards preventing the Tel Aviv regime from repeating such attacks.

The Israeli regime launches airstrikes on the Syrian territory from time to time. Such aggressive moves are usually viewed as attempts to prop up terrorist groups suffering defeats on the battlefield against Syrian army forces and their allies.

Full report at:

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2019/07/02/599937/Syria-complains-to-UN-Israeli-attacks

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Iraq wants Shia militias as ‘indivisible’ part of army

Jul 1, 2019

Iraqi Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi has issued a decree that further integrates the Popular Mobilization Forces, which have proven a decisive force in Baghdad’s counter-terrorism operations, into the country's armed forces.

"In the interest of the public good and as per the powers granted to us by the constitution...the following is decreed: All Popular Mobilization Units (PMU) are to operate as an indivisible part of the armed forces and be subject to the same regulations," read the decree, which was issued on Monday, AFP reported.

The fighters, also known as Hashd al-Sha’abi, joined forces with the military in 2014 after the Takfiri terror group of Daesh launched a campaign of bloodshed and destruction against the nation.

They effectively contributed to the country’s anti-terror struggle, especially in liberation of Daesh-held areas lying to the south, northeast, and north of the capital. The combined push -- reinforced by Iraq’s allies, including Iran, which has been lending military advisory support to the Iraqi military -- led to Daesh’s expulsion in late 2017.

This prompted Abdul Mahdi’s predecessor Haider al-Abadi to order the PMU’s formal inclusion in the Arab country's security forces last March. That order granted the PMU many of the same rights as members of the military.

However, the United States, which has been leading scores of its allies in a so-called anti-Daesh coalition in Iraq despite the group’s demise, has systematically found fault with the PMU’s involvement in Iraq’s defensive affairs.

In May, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had told Iraqi leaders during a surprise visit to Baghdad that if they failed to exercise more control on the fighters, Washington would respond with force.

Influential Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sar celebrated Abdul Mahdi’s decision, though, announcing that he would sever its ties with the fighters under his support, and urged them to integrate more closely into the military.

Full report at:

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2019/07/01/599919/Iraq-Shia-militias-PMU-military

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Lebanese military demolishes Syrian refugee settlements in NE Lebanon: Aid groups

Jul 1, 2019

Lebanese military units have begun demolishing Syrian refugee settlements in northeast Lebanon following the expiry of a government ultimatum, a group of international aid agencies say, warning that the move could affect thousands of children.

“At 4:30 a.m. [local time] on July 1, military units moved into several camps in Arsal and demolished at least 20 homes,” said a joint statement by seven aid groups, including Save the Children, the Norwegian Refugee Council, and Oxfam, on Monday.

The aid groups also expressed their deep concern about the demolitions, saying they “fear that this is the start and more demolitions will take place tomorrow.”

According to the statement, an estimated 15,000 Syrian refugees, including at least 7,500 children, would be affected by demolitions of some 3,000 units.

Separately, Bassel al-Hujeiri, the head of the Arsal municipality, said that Monday’s demolitions had been very “limited” and impacted only huts made almost completely out of cement.

Beirut’s ultimatum of July 1 had prompted refugees to demolish their own shelters in the weeks leading up to the deadline, the statement said, adding that since June 27, less than half of the hard huts in Arsal had been demolished by their dwellers.

“Depriving refugees of their already very basic shelter and leaving them out on the streets is not a solution. The demolitions in Arsal come in the context of deteriorating conditions for Syrian refugees, who in the past months have faced an increasingly coercive environment making their lives even harder,” the statement added.

Lebanon, with a population of around 4 million, hosts some 1.5 million Syrian refugees. Facing a crisis-hit economy, Lebanon is toughening its enforcement of rules governing the refugees.

Beirut only allows building informal camps in a bid to prevent refugees from settling permanently.

Some Lebanese politicians have already called for mass returns of Syrian refugees to their homes after fighting and violence ended in many parts of the war-torn country over the past three years.

Full report at:

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2019/07/01/599914/Lebanon-Syria-refugee-demolitions-Arsal-Oxfam

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Pakistan

 

Anti-Taliban Party Official Gunned Down In Pakistan's Peshawar

June 29, 2019

A local leader of the secular Awami National Party (ANP) was gunned down in Peshawar, Pakistan, on June 29 by unknown assailants.

ANP activist Sartaj Khan was in his car when he came under fire from two gunmen on motorcycles.

The attack occurred in the upscale Gulbahar neighborhood.

Khan was a municipal district president and an important leader of the ANP, a prominent anti-Taliban political force.

The party has supported the military campaign against militants in the Swat Valley and the tribal areas bordering Afghanistan.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility, but ANP members have frequently been attacked by the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) in recent years.

The ANP has said that "hundreds" of its leaders and activists have been killed since 2007.

https://www.rferl.org/a/anti-taliban-sartaj-khan-gunned-down-in-pakistan-s-peshawar/30027342.html

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'Honour killing': Pakistani expatriate kills nine members of family after he suspects his wife was cheating on him

July 01, 2019

Ashfaq Ahmed

Dubai: A Pakistani expatriate working in Saudi Arabia, killed nine members of his family including wife, two  children, mother-in-law and two-sisters in law.

The tragic incident happened in Multan on Sunday when the suspect identified as Ajmal gunned down five people and then set his in-laws' house on fire killing four more people, a senior police officer told Gulf News from Multan.

The suspect had arrived in Multan a few days ago from Saudi Arabia where he works as a tailor. Police said that Ajmal had suspected that his wife Kiran was cheating on him while he was away in Saudi Arabia. He along with his father and a brother went to his in-laws house where he opened fire after heated argument.

According to prelminary investigation, Ajmal gunned down five  members of the family on the spot including his wife, mother-in-law and two sisters-in-law. His brother-in-law and father-in-law also got bullet injuries. After opening fire, he, his father and borther allegedly locked other people in the room and set the house on fire. As a result, his two children and two other women were burnt alive. While eight people died on the spot, one with bullet wounds succumbed to injuries at Nishtar Hospital in Multan.

A senior official told Gulf News that the suspect first opened fire on his wife. His mother-in-law and sisters-in-law came forward to save Kiran but he continued to shoot in rage and killed them all.

He and his father also reportedly opened fire at the people who had gathered outside the house injuring a woman and a child.

Full report at:

https://gulfnews.com/world/asia/pakistan/honour-killing-pakistani-expatriate-kills-nine-members-of-family-after-he-suspects-his-wife-was-cheating-on-him-1.64956597?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=GulfNews_NewsLetter_20190701_Evening_PM

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Pakistan ex-President Asif Ali Zardari arrested in separate corruption case

Jul 1, 2019

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan's anti-corruption body on Monday arrested jailed former president Asif Ali Zardari in a corruption case.

He is already in the custody of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) in a multi-million dollar money laundering case along with his sister.

According to the NAB, the duo made transactions of Rs 150 million through alleged fake bank accounts.

The 63-year-old co-chairman of the Opposition Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and husband of the country's first woman prime minister Benazir Bhutto was this time arrested in the Park Lane case which is related to the alleged properties in London.

Zardari became the co-chairman of PPP after the assassination of Bhutto in 2007.

His arrest came after he withdrew his interim bail applications filed with the Islamabad high court against.

Zardari said that he withdrew the plea as the NAB would come up with more fake cases if he was granted bail.

Last week, he appeared in Parliament for the first time after being arrested and called for an end to his arrest, saying it would not make a difference rather create fear among the people.

The NAB is expected to seek his remand in the Park Lane case.

Zardari and his sister Faryal Talpur were already facing charges of using fake accounts to park multi-million dollar money and sending it abroad. Both were arrested last month and both have denied the charges.

His political career has been overshadowed by the allegations of corruption due to which he has spent several years in custody although he was never convicted.

Full report at:

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/pakistan/pakistan-ex-president-asif-ali-zardari-arrested-in-separate-corruption-case/articleshow/70024488.cms

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Sharif family approached two countries to intervene on their behalf: PM Imran Khan

July 01, 2019

Prime Minister Imran Khan on Monday evening revealed that the sons of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif had approached two countries with a request to intervene and facilitate their father, who is currently incarcerated after being found guilty in a corruption case.

He said the two countries, which he did not name, conveyed the message but refused to intervene. "They told me that we will not interfere," he said.

The prime minister, along with Adviser to Prime Minister on Finance Dr Hafeez Sheikh and Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) Chairman Shabbar Zaidi, made the remarks while addressing a panel of anchorpersons and senior journalists. The discussion was aired by ARYNewsTV on Monday evening.

"The NRO will not be offered," he said, referring to a deal similar to the national reconciliation ordinance issued by former dictator Pervez Musharraf, under which cases against a large number of politicians and political workers were quashed.

"Two NROs issued by Musharraf to [PML-N's 'supreme leader'] Nawaz Sharif and [PPP Co-Chairman] Asif Ali Zardari destroyed the country... Later, both of them also gave NROs to each other," he said.

The only way forward, he said, is a plea bargain. "A Plea bargain can be allowed and no foreign country can do anything in this regard. They [Sharif and Zardari] will have to pay the money," he said.

"Give the money and go out of the country," he said, adding that Nawaz Sharif wants to seek treatment from a foreign country and he will be allowed to do so, but after he settles with the government.

He added that Asif Zardari is "facing difficulties; he will also be let go if he pays the money".

Further talking about facing pressure to provide some relief to the two leaders, he said: "This is the first setup where the Army is standing by the government's agenda and manifesto. No one can escape from any quarter. No intercession is going to work in this regard."

He also warned that those politicians who had been arrested or convicted under money laundering charges would not be able to avail higher classes in jail.

"I have told the law ministry that the money launderers should be sent to a common jail. Soon, legislation will be made in this regard. They [money launderers] should know how a common criminal is treated in this country," he warned.

Controversy over use of word 'selected'

When asked if he had the word 'selected' banned in parliament, he replied: "I don't care if anyone calls me 'selected' or something else."

"My theory is very simple and I would like to tell it to Bilawal Bhutto, because he knows English better [than Urdu]: 'Mind over matter: I don’t mind and they [who use the word] don’t matter'."

'PTI govt paid back $10bn'

The prime minister, while talking about the state of the economy, claimed that the PTI-led government had spent $10 billion on debt servicing on loans taken by previous governments.

He said the incumbent government inherited a record current account deficit of over $19bn, which increased the pressure on the rupee.

Talking about steps being taken to address the issue, he said that a comprehensive plan is being devised to control smuggling and money laundering, for which new legislation will be brought in.

Asked about the higher tax target for next year, he said that the target will be achieved with the help of tax reforms and by expanding the tax base and net. He again regretted that half of the country's tax collection is being spent on debt servicing.

Full report at:

https://www.dawn.com/news/1491499/sharif-family-approached-two-countries-to-intervene-on-their-behalf-pm-imran-khan

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COAS calls on PM, discusses regional peace

July 02, 2019

ISLAMABAD: Army Chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa on Monday briefed Prime Minister Imran Khan on the army’s efforts for regional peace.

The two also discussed the security situation within the country.

“Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa called on Prime Minister Imran Khan at PM Office today. The Army Chief briefed the PM over security matters and the Army’s efforts for durable peace in the region,” according to the official Twitter account of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) that also posts activities of the prime minister.

The meeting happened as the Taliban carried out back-to-back attacks in Kabul and Kandahar over the past two days. Taliban representatives are, meanwhile, holding talks with US officials in Doha under a Pakistan-facilitated process. There were expectations at the start of the latest (seventh) round of Taliban-US talks that the insurgent group would in parallel agree to start negotiations with Afghan representatives over a political settlement of the dispute, which is in its eighteenth year.

The attacks have, however, poured cold water on the hopes of a breakthrough in Doha.

A spokesperson for Taliban’s Doha-based political office tweeted that the insurgent group would commence talks with Afghan elements only once an internationally guaranteed timeframe for withdrawal of foreign troops is given, however, the Ghani administration would not be engaged as a government. The tweet showed the hardening of insurgents’ conditions for starting intra-Afghan process.

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, meanwhile, through a statement said that the Taliban attack in Kabul shows that they want to continue violence and war.

Pakistan has strongly condemned the attack in Kabul.

Although, the Afghan government has publicly shared a lower casualty figure from Kabul attack than the actual numbers, international media has cited that the casualties could be as high as 40.

“Such attacks are detrimental to the cause of peace, security and stability in Afghanistan,” Foreign Office said in a statement. “Pakistan condemns terrorism in all its forms and manifestations. We offer our sympathies and condolences to the bereaved families,” it further said.

Meanwhile, one of the advisers of PM Khan said: “In line with the directive of the Prime Minister, Alhamdolillah we are all set to operationalise Torkham Border round the clock from August 2019. Arrangements in this regard finalised in a meeting of all stakeholders today.”

Full report at:

https://www.dawn.com/news/1491544/coas-calls-on-pm-discusses-regional-peace

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MQM-P again seeks Centre’s intervention in Sindh’s affairs

Azfar-ul-Ashfaque

July 02, 2019

KARACHI: The Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan has once again sought federal government’s intervention in Sindh, saying that the prime minister can exercise his authority under Article 149 of the Constitution if a province deliberately targets a segment of society in violation of the Constitution.

Senior MQM-P leaders made this demand while speaking at a demonstration organised by the party outside the Karachi Press Club on Monday in protest over a severe water crisis in the metropolis. One of the speakers went as far as to say that Sindh would be “ruined” if the Pakistan Peoples Party’s government continue to rule over the province.

It is not the first time that the MQM-P has asked the PM to exercise the federal government’s power under Article 149 (directions to provinces in certain cases) of the Constitution.

Earlier, Federal Law Minister Dr Farogh Naseem, an MQM-P senator, hinted that the federal government can intervene in the provincial affairs under the said constitutional clause. Then on April 13, senior party leaders held a press conference and demanded federal government’s intervention in Sindh.

A large number of MQM-P workers, including women, reached the KPC to participate in the protest. They were carrying banners and placards inscribed with demands like ‘Give water to Karachi’, etc, and shouted anti-government slogans.

Addressing the protesters, MQM-P convener Dr Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui said that despite the fact that Karachi contributed 70 per cent of the total revenue of the federal government and 92pc of Sindh’s revenue, its citizens were still “begging” for water.

He said that the Greater Karachi Water Supply project, known as K-IV, was to be completed in 2011, but the “corrupt” government in Sindh did not complete it on time and now its cost had increased manifold.

He said that a petition filed by the MQM regarding implementation of Article 140-A of the Constitution was still pending before the Supreme Court and the problem of water in Karachi could be solved if the apex court gave its decision on it.

Karachi Mayor Wasim Akhtar claimed that the PPP government in Sindh did not even give Karachi 10 buses in its 11-year-rule.

“I am the elected mayor of Karachi and I have the city’s mandate. I appeal to the president and prime minister to solve the problems of the people of Karachi. I have no hope with the Sindh government and the PPP,” he said, adding: “Sindh would be ruined if PPP government continues.”

He also wanted the federal government to exercise Article 149 of the Constitution.

He said that he had evidence that the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation was being ignored intentionally and it was not given funds, affecting the payment of salaries to its employees.

He warned that protests would spread across the whole city if problems were not solved soon.

MQM-P lawmaker and senior leader Khwaja Izharul Hasan said that the PPP had provided 300,000 jobs without any merit but whenever MQM-P demanded water for the people of Karachi, the ruling party started “targeting” the city’s youths employed in water board or other municipal organisations.

He said that the local government minister had failed to improve the water board despite the fact that his party controlled the utility for the past one decade.

Full report at:

https://www.dawn.com/news/1491517/mqm-p-again-seeks-centres-intervention-in-sindhs-affairs

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Six killed, 105 wounded in Taliban attack

JULY 2, 2019

Taliban fighters killed six people and wounded 105 others by blowing up a truck bomb at morning rush hour near an Afghan Defence Ministry compound in Kabul on Monday.

The attack, which ended a period of relative calm in the capital, came as US special peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad held a seventh round of peace talks with the Taliban in Qatar, aimed at bringing the 18-year-old war to an end.

After the blast, five gunmen took up positions in an unfinished building nearby, shooting at rescuers and fighting a battle with security forces for seven hours before themselves being killed.

The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack.

“The target was the Defence Ministry’s technical installation,” spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said in a statement.

“Clashes ended with the death of all five attackers,” said Interior Ministry spokesman Nasrat Rahimi. “Four civilians and two policemen were killed.” He said more than 210 people had been rescued during the operation.

About 100 wounded people were taken to hospital, the Health Ministry said.

Fifty-one children in two schools near the blast site were hurt by flying shards of glass, the Education Ministry said.

The Pashto-language Shamshad TV, whose office was near the blast site, said one of its security guards had been killed and several employees had been hurt in the blast, which sent a plume of black smoke rising over the city and shook buildings.

The area has a cluster of military and government buildings, as well as an office belonging to the Afghan Football Federation, whose chief, Yosuf Kargar, was among several staff who were injured, according to spokesman Shafi Shadab.

President Ashraf Ghani called the attack on civilians a crime against humanity.

The Qatar talks have focused on issues ranging from counter-terrorism and withdrawal of foreign troops to an intra-Afghan dialogue and a comprehensive ceasefire.

Two sources at the talks said direct negotiations were unlikely to go beyond Monday, but there was no word of any official suspension.

However, one official present at the talks in Doha said that “the latest attack by the Taliban has changed the entire context of our meeting – unease has crept in”.

Sohail Shaheen, spokesman for the Taliban political office in Doha, said the group’s key concern was to make sure a timeline for a foreign troop pullout was announced.

Taliban officials have previously said they want all foreign troops withdrawn before they hold talks with the Afghan government or declare a ceasefire.

Less than a week ago, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in Kabul that the Trump administration was hopeful that a peace deal with the Taliban could be achieved by Sept. 1.

Despite peace talks gaining momentum, fighting between the Taliban and Afghan forces who are backed by the foreign troops has raged across Afghanistan.

The Ministry of Defence said on Monday that 67 insurgents had been killed in 11 provinces in the previous 24 hours. The Taliban said their fighters had conducted 52 operations against Afghan forces in which more than 170 people had been killed. Both sides accuse each other of exaggerating casualty figures.

Meanwhile, Pakistan strongly condemned the terrorist attack in Kabul earlier this morning that led to a number of causalities, according to a statement issued by the Foreign Office.

Full report at:

https://dailytimes.com.pk/422310/six-killed-105-wounded-in-taliban-attack/

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Benazir murder charge ‘politically motivated’: Ijaz Shah

JULY 2, 2019

Brigadier (r) Ijaz Shah, the country’s security czar, has claimed that his nomination in the high-profile murder case of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto was politically motivated, as he opposed her deal with General Pervez Musharraf to return home and partake in national politics.

In his first-ever interview to a private news channel on Monday, Shah said he had never met the two-time premier in his life. His nomination by Bhutto, he said, was politically motivated. “I opposed the NRO (National Reconciliation Ordinance) because in my viewpoint, PPP and PML-Q’s proposed alliance in the coming elections [2002 polls] was unnatural and that it won’t work out,” he remarked.

“When this thing was being discussed, I was the director ISI… discussion was that the PPP and the PML-Q will be together [in the election]. My viewpoint was that this is something unnatural. I, however, was later proved wrong when Asif Ali Zardari [after coming into power] inducted Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi as the deputy prime minister.”

Shah said the former military ruler wanted a deal with Benazir because the entire West wanted liberal parties like the PPP and the ANP in power and thought that the Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA) was a creation of Musharraf’s government. “[But] we had no role in creating the alliance of religious parties,” he added.

The MMA came into being after Americans invaded Afghanistan and people elected the anti-West rightist parties into power in Pakistan in reaction, he said. “They won all 35 National Assembly seats [from Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa] in the 2002 general elections.”

Responding to a question if the slain Tehreek-e-Taliban chief, Baitullah Mehsood, had carried out the deadly attack on Benazir Bhutto, he said: “Yes sir… we have given a statement. I’ve been investigated by the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) and Scotland Yard and UN teams that visited the country.” The interior minister said the country had an unfortunate tradition of levelling allegations without any evidence. “Hard times I’ve endured in my 41 years in army and civil institutions are my strength.”

The career military officer touched many controversial topics in the hour-long interview. He admitted to being Musharraf’s right-hand guy. He said he was the first one who informed the former military strongman that he had been elevated as the army chief by former premier Nawaz Sharif.

Shah retired in 2004 after a long career that saw him rising to the rank of brigadier while serving with the 15 Punjab Regiment and Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI).

He was one of former military dictator Pervez Musharraf’s trusted aides and was his pick for director general of the Intelligence Bureau (IB). Shah’s tenure from 2004 to 2008 was rife with controversy as he was accused of widespread political victimisation and engineering.

He entered the country’s parliament for the first time in 2018, defeating the powerful Mansab family of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) in NA-118 Nankana Sahib-II after two unsuccessful attempts in 2013 and 2015.

Shah was serving as the head of ISI in Punjab when Musharraf mounted his coup and imposed martial law in October 1999.

Commenting on the events that led to the military coup, he said misunderstandings between the prime minister and the army chief, including Musharraf’s refusal to act against Gen Jahangir Karamat and the appointment of then DG ISI Gen Ziauddin Butt without the COAS consent, played part in the whole episode.

About allegations of political engineering, Shah said no one can force defections in any political party until politicians themselves did not want to do so. He admitted playing a role in creating the Q-league, saying he was the ‘in charge’ of elections in 2002.

“Military was holding the polls and both leaders [Benazir and Nawaz] were in exile… what people were supposed to do? They came in flocks to join Musharraf, including the Chaudhrys.”

The interior minister also admitted to supporting the banned outfits and its leaders, saying, “Not just me but the whole world supported Ahmed Ludhianvi and Azam Tariq among others.” He added that the United States created them and then left them when no longer needed.

Commenting on Iftikhar Chaudhry, Shah said the former chief justice was more of a politician than a judge. “Nobody, however, was disrespectful towards him or harassed him in the meeting in which Musharraf forcefully asked him to step down,” he explained. On dual standards of accountability in the country, he said Musharraf has no corruption allegations levelled against him, adding that Article 6 should be applied not just on him but on 300 to 400 others.

Shah also refuted knowing whereabouts of al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad, saying he would have claimed $50 million bounty if knew he was hiding in Pakistan. He also cast doubts over US version of the raid in which Osama was assassinated. “How can a seven feet tall man hide in a village like Haripur for six years,” he remarked.

Commenting on the ongoing political situation, Shah said there was no threat to the government, adding that the PTI government would complete its five-year term. “This army is Pakistan’s and not India’s… they are thinking about placing Pakistan in grey or black [list] and here we are levelling such allegations on it… this is exactly what the last government did,” he said in response to his alleged role in staging PTI’s 2014 sit-in in Islamabad.

The interior minister said the civil and military leadership were on the same page and only peace would ensure economic stability in the country.

On opposition parties’ proposed anti-government movement, he said it was the government’s responsibility to protect lives and properties of masses with or without using force.

Full report at:

https://dailytimes.com.pk/422309/benazir-murder-charge-politically-motivated-ijaz-shah/

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