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Islamic World News ( 4 May 2016, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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No Alarming Situation over Islamic State Yet, Says Govt of India

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photo: The execution of three Jamaat-e-Islami leaders in 2013 sparked riots across Bangladesh which resulted in the deaths of around 500 people AFP/File /

 

Dozens of Prisoners Escape ISIL Prison in Raqqa

Bangladesh Islamist Leader, Motiur Rahman Nizami, Set To Hang For War Crimes

US Based Indian Muslim Organization Makes Drinkable Water Accessible to Drought Affected Rural Areas of India

India

No Alarming Situation over Islamic State Yet, Says Govt of India

Court Gives NIA 3 Months More to Probe Case against Islamic State Men

India Will Have Biggest Muslim Population By 2050; Hinduism Will Become the World’s Third Largest Religion

Why Kolkata’s Urdu-speaking Muslims switched allegiance from the Left to Mamata Banerjee

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Arab World

Dozens of Prisoners Escape ISIL Prison in Raqqa

ISIL Executes Two Men Accused of Smuggling Food to Deir Ezzur City

Over 100 ISIL Terrorists Killed as Iraqi Forces Advance near Fallujah

At Least 10 Killed in Twin Bombings in Syria's Homs

ISIL Smuggles Medical Supplies from Neighbouring Countries

Iran to Continue Support for Iraqi KRG's War on Terror

Over 2,000 Displaced Civilians Return to Hama

Israeli Airstrikes Target Rafah Area after Shelling Attacks on Gaza

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South Asia

Bangladesh Islamist Leader, Motiur Rahman Nizami, Set To Hang For War Crimes

How Islamic State in Bangladesh Began

Taliban Suffer Heavy Casualties in Kandahar, 32 Killed, 18 Wounded In ANSF Raids

16 Killed In Two Separate Explosions in Badghis Province of Afghanistan

The Man, Najibullah Popal Who Helped Save Afghanistan's Treasures from Ravages of War

Corruption is a national stigma, says President Ghani

Suicide attack foiled in populated area of Takhar in northeast of Afghanistan

Ghani should not sign execution orders of terror convicts: Amnesty International

Kabul’s PD#10 likely target of attacks or kidnapping, warns US Embassy

Standing by Afghanistan: the strategic choice

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North America

US Based Indian Muslim Organization Makes Drinkable Water Accessible to Drought Affected Rural Areas of India

Islamic State Capable Of Staging Paris-Style Attack In US: American Intelligence

Australian-born Islamic State Recruiter Killed in US Airstrike

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Europe

After Terror Attacks In Europe, Muslims Still Face Intense Scrutiny

David Cameron Labels Islamic State's Actions as Genocide

Anti-Islamic Group's Founder Guilty Of Inciting Racial Hatred

Zurich signs $135m deal to buy Malaysian Islamic insurer MAA

Sadiq Khan says 'I'm sorry' after using 'Uncle Toms' slur against moderate Muslims

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Mideast

Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad Open Fire on Israeli Troops near Gaza

Turkey, Saudi Arabia Unlikely To Launch Ground Operations in Syria: Lavrov

ISIL must be pushed back in northern Syria: Turkish minister

Delegation from Turkish opposition party detained in Israel

Bones of Dersim massacre victims reburied in ceremony

Four wounded after rockets hit Turkey’s Kilis

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Southeast Asia

Muslim Militants Threaten To Kill More Hostages in Philippines

Indonesia, Philippines, Malaysia to Coordinate Against Militant Pirates

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Africa

Foiled Kenya Anthrax Plot Hints at Islamic State’s Scramble for Africa

Making sense of Nigeria's Fulani-farmer conflict

Islamic State Growing in Somalia

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Pakistan

SC Orders Govt to Implement 2007 Lal Masjid Judgment

Capital on ‘High Alert’ Following Security Threat

Pakistani Hindu refugees are waiting for India to accept them

Two accused in PTI minority MPA murder confess to crime

Three suspects, LEA official killed in clash near Taxila

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau

URL: http://newageislam.com/islamic-world-news/new-age-islam-news-bureau/no-alarming-situation-over-islamic-state-yet,-says-govt-of-india/d/107205

 

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No Alarming Situation over Islamic State Yet, Says Govt of India

May 5, 2016

Home Minister Rajnath Singh said Wednesday that India does not face any alarming situation owing to ISIS since the Muslims in the country won’t allow it to spread its tentacles here.

Singh expressed confidence that there will be no increase in the terror outfit’s activities in India in future too.

The Home minister, who was replying to a question in Rajya Sabha, said, “I know the Indian Muslim community very well and all countrymen know that it is fully entrenched with Indian traditions and cultures and is committed to life values of the nation. They will not allow ISIS activities to spread in this country,” he said.

indianexpress.com/article/india/india-news-india/no-alarming-situation-over-islamic-state-yet-says-govt-2785029/

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Bangladesh Islamist Leader, Motiur Rahman Nizami, Set To Hang For War Crimes

MAY 5, 2016

Motiur Rahman Nizami was convicted of murder, rape and orchestrating the killing of intellectuals during the country’s 1971 independence struggle.

“We’re satisfied. Now there is no bar to execute him unless he seeks clemency from the president and the president pardons him,” Attorney General Mahbubey Alam told AFP after the Supreme Court dismissed Nizami’s final appeal.

A defence lawyer for the 73-year-old said he would not seek clemency and Alam said jail authorities would begin preparing for the execution once they received a copy of the verdict.

Security has been stepped up in Dhaka, already tense after a string of killings of secular and liberal activists and religious minorities by suspected Islamist militants.

Hundreds of people who had campaigned for the Islamist leaders to be tried for their roles in the 1971 war burst into impromptu celebrations at a square in central Dhaka and in the port city of Chittagong.

“Justice has finally prevailed. We hope the government will now execute him without wasting any time,” said Imran Sarker, a secular blogger.

Three senior Jamaat officials and a key leader of Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), the main opposition party, have been executed since December 2013 for war crimes despite global criticism of their trials by a controversial tribunal.

Jamaat said the charges against Nizami were false and aimed at eliminating the leadership of the party, a key ally of the opposition BNP.

Nizami took over as party leader in 2000 and was a minister in the Islamist-allied government of 2001-2006.

Prosecutors said he was responsible for setting up the Al-Badr pro-Pakistani militia, which killed top writers, doctors and journalists in the most gruesome chapter of the 1971 conflict.

Their bodies were found blindfolded with their hands tied and dumped in a marsh on the outskirts of the capital.

Prosecutors said Nizami ordered the killings, designed to “intellectually cripple” the fledgling nation.

The 1971 conflict, one of the bloodiest in world history, led to the creation of an independent Bangladesh from what was then East Pakistan.

Nizami was convicted in October 2014 by the International Crimes Tribunal, which was established in 2010 by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s government and has sentenced more than a dozen opposition leaders for war crimes.

Rights groups say the trials fall short of global standards and lack international oversight and Jamaat and the BNP have accused Hasina of using them to silence her opponents.

Her government says the trials are needed to heal the wounds of the conflict.

In 2013 the convictions of Jamaat officials triggered the country’s deadliest violence in decades, with around 500 people killed, mainly in clashes between Islamists and police.

Jamaat has called a nationwide strike for Sunday to protest the Supreme Court’s decision.

citizen.co.za/afp_feed_article/bangladesh-islamist-leader-set-to-hang-for-war-crimes/

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Dozen of Prisoners Escape ISIL Prison in Raqqa

May/05/2016

TEHRAN (FNA)- 11 Syrian prisoners managed to escape an ISIL prison in Tabaqa city which is under controlled by the terrorist group, informed sources said on Thursday.

All 11 prisoners that managed to escape Sadd al-Furat jail in the city of Tabaqa were among the people detained by ISIL when the terrorist group seized Raqqa province in 2014, the sources said.

The sources said all the prisoners, who were among opposition fighters, had reached non-ISIL areas, however it remains unclear how they were able to do so, as there are no rebel areas nearby.

The people reportedly escaped after a guard in the ISIL’s religious police jail forgot to lock the cell's door where the detainees were locked in.

It is currently unknown if ISIL will crackdown on civilians of Tabaqa city for the incident, nevertheless they are expected to tighten security as to avoid more escapees. No further details are available.

The development comes as ISIL terrorists continue their mass killing of civilians in the stronghold city of Raqqa, specially after the Takfiri terrorist group's defeats and withdrawals from more areas in Syria, especialy after they lost the ancient city of Palmyra (Tadmur) in Homs province.

The ISIL is executing civilians on different baseless and irrelevant charges as the terrorist group has had to resort to more brutal ways to instill more fear inside or outside its occupied territories, as government forces have been retaking major cities and slowly pushing the terrorists back to a diminished territories.

en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13950216000262

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US Based Indian Muslim Organization Makes Drinkable Water Accessible to Drought Affected Rural Areas of India

05 May 2016

Maharashtra: Marathwada, one of the five regions in Indian State of Maharashtra containing eight districts is reeling under severe drought since last three years. It is the most water deprived region of Maharashtra. The rivers, canals, ponds and nallas have dried up. The poor population is forced to buy water at inflated prices from ‘water mafia’. The failing crops have forced farmers to attempt suicides.

To bring relief to people in three drought affected districts of Marathwada viz. Nanded, Hingoli and Parbhani, IMRC (Indian Muslim Relief & Charities)  has installed 50 hand pumps since January 2016.

Sunil Chaure, 42 from village Manatha in Nanded District, Marathwada used to buy a bucket of water ranging from 2 to 5 Indian rupees, which was eating up one third of  his monthly income but he is now relived after IMRC built hand pump in his village.

“We are very happy that our drinking water woes have gone after hand pump was installed in our village. This is a good cause for which everyone should come forward to help we poor farmers,” said Chaure.

Younous Ahmed, IMRC volunteer, who is looking after water project in Marathwada region, said, “I have never seen such a huge intensity of drought. People are struggling for drops of water. The government’s drilling machines usually digs up to 200 meter and stop if they don’t find any water. But when we started drilling we found that water was available at 500-700 feet deep in the earth and started drilling at such lengths.”

In 2013, thousands of miles away from India, a US based Indian Organization, IMRC worried about the climate change in India leading to hot summers and scarcity of rains leading to shortage of drinking water took an initiative, ‘village water well’ project to build and install  bore wells, hand and electric pumps in rural area of India.

IMRC has build and installed more than 400 bore wells and hand pumps across six Indian states since 2013.

In year 2013, IMRC built 54 water wells and 40 hand pumps, in 2014, 57 bore wells and 75 hand pumps whereas in 2015 the number the numbers has touched 200.

Besides the drought affected regions, the bore wells and hand pumps have been installed in the rural areas suffering from neglect of their governments, having deficiency of rains, recurring droughts, having unsafe source of drinking water and where people had to walk miles to fetch water.

In Madhya Pradesh, the bore wells and hand pumps were installed in different villages like Chatrukhedi, Mau, Barukhedi, Burakhedi,  Magrana, Dhanora, Manglaj, Banskheda,  Sherpura, Khujner.

In Maharashtra the areas covered are Bhogaw, Girgaw, Khurgaw, Chingaw, Kamtha, Taroda, Daitna, Parbhani, Babulgaw, Balapuri and more bore wells are expected to be completed soon.

In Bihar, the areas covered are Harnabuzrug, Chakdarab, Fatimachak, Raypura, Parsotipur, Arajiparsotipur, Babura, Aabdachak, Nanduchak, Dhayharna

In Andhra Pradesh, the areas covered are, Pileru, Kalkiri, Rajuvaripalli, Kalluru, Gadi, Ellankivaripalli, Sodum, Madalcoloni , Muhammadiyulapalli, Kuppam.

In Telangana, the areas covered are, Syednagar, Qasimnagar, Venkatadripet, Uppugal, Thatikonda, Khanpur, Kandalgudem, Torrur, Ontimamidipalli.

“The local people where the water wells were installed have expressed joy and immense gratitude for having local access to potable water. People from all the faiths are benefitting from IMRC water projects,” said Wahid Nadvi, the IMRC volunteer looking after water projects in Bihar and Jaharkhand.

The IMRC has also completed installing 35 out of 50 tube wells across different villages and mohallas in Sumbal Sonawari belt of  Kashmir to provide the local populace with access to clean drinking  water. The work on remaining 15 tube wells is expected to be completed soon.

caravandaily.com/portal/us-based-indian-muslim-organization-makes-drinkable-water-accessible-to-drought-affected-rural-areas/

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India

No Alarming Situation over Islamic State Yet, Says Govt of India

May 5, 2016

Home Minister Rajnath Singh said Wednesday that India does not face any alarming situation owing to ISIS since the Muslims in the country won’t allow it to spread its tentacles here.

Singh expressed confidence that there will be no increase in the terror outfit’s activities in India in future too.

The Home minister, who was replying to a question in Rajya Sabha, said, “I know the Indian Muslim community very well and all countrymen know that it is fully entrenched with Indian traditions and cultures and is committed to life values of the nation. They will not allow ISIS activities to spread in this country,” he said.

indianexpress.com/article/india/india-news-india/no-alarming-situation-over-islamic-state-yet-says-govt-2785029/

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Court Gives NIA 3 Months More to Probe Case against Islamic State Men

May 05, 2016

A Delhi court on Wednesday gave the NIA three months more to complete the probe in a case against five suspected ISIS operatives arrested for allegedly plotting a terror strike during the Ardh Kumbh at Haridwar.

According to the court sources, District Judge Amarnath extended the period after the National Investigation Agency (NIA) told the court that the probe in the case was still on to unravel the larger conspiracy. "The investigation in the instant case is spread in different parts of the country and abroad the larger conspiracy of IS activities is yet to be ascertained," the agency told the court, adding that more time was required for completion of the probe.

At the in-chamber proceedings, the NIA told the court that during their custodial interrogation by Delhi police, the accused had disclosed name codes and mobile numbers of active members, recruiters, sympathizers and motivators of ISIS involved in furtherance of activities of their ideologies using internet-based communication, Facebook, Skype, telephones, Telegram and other means, to lure youths to join the terror organisation. "The identity involved of such associates is being ascertained on day to day basis," the agency said. It further told the court that mobile phone sets, SIMs, laptops and micro SD cards recovered by Delhi police from the possession of the accused persons, have been sent for forensic analysis and reports are still awaited.

Meanwhile, the court rejected the bail plea filed by one of the accused 26-year-old Mohsin Ibrahim Sayyed, a resident of Mumbai, and extended his judicial custody for 30 days. The bail plea, moved by advocate M S Khan, had claimed that further custody of the accused was not required. Sayyed was produced before the court after expiry of his judicial remand. The four arrested co-accused -- Akhlakur Rehman, Mohd Osama, Mohd Azeemushan and Mohd Mehraz -- were alleged to have told their interrogators that they had come into contact with Yusuf through Facebook and other chat platforms and he had motivated them for propagating violent 'Jihad' in India.

It was alleged they were conspiring to target the Ardh Kumbh Mela at Haridwar, especially trains headed there, besides some other strategic locations in the national capital. All of them were found to have links with a former Indian Mujahideen (IM) terrorist who later went to fight for ISIS, the agency had claimed.

dnaindia.com/india/report-court-gives-nia-3-months-more-to-probe-case-against-islamic-state-men-2209253

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India Will Have Biggest Muslim Population By 2050; Hinduism Will Become the World’s Third Largest Religion

Thu, 05 May 2016

New Delhi: Hinduism will become the world’s third largest religion by 2050 while India will overtake Indonesia as the country with the largest Muslim population, according to a new study.

The Hindu population worldwide will rise by 34%, from a little over 1 billion to nearly 1.4 billion by 2050, the Pew Research Center’s study on “The Future of World Regions” projected.

Hindus will make up 14.9% of the world’s total population, behind Christians (31.4%) and Muslims (29.7%), while people unaffiliated to any religious group will account for 13.2%, the study said.

“By 2050, the study projects India to be the country with the largest number of Muslims – more than 310 million – even though Hindus will continue to make up a solid majority of India’s population (77%), while Muslims remain a minority (18%),” Pew Research Center said.

“Indonesia will have the third-largest number of Muslims, with Pakistan ranking second,” it said.

Muslims are projected to grow faster than the world’s overall population growth while Hindus and Christians are projected to roughly keep pace with growth trends, the study said.

“Over the next four decades, Christians will remain the largest religious group, but Islam will grow faster than any other major religion,” it said.

sahilonline.org/newsDetails.php?cid=3&nid=42712

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Why Kolkata’s Urdu-speaking Muslims switched allegiance from the Left to Mamata Banerjee

Thu, 05 May 2016

The most striking recent addition to Kidderpore in Kolkata in an obelisk in the middle of a roundabout with Iqbal’s stirring paean to India, Saare Jahaan se Achchhaa, engraved on it. Even more impressive is the fact that the Urdu poem is inscribed in three scripts: Perso-Arabic, Devanagri and, most bravely, Bengali. On a tree, across the road from the monument is a board advertising free career counselling services organised by the Dawat-e-Quran Education and Welfare trust. Behind that is the office of the area’s legislator in the West Bengal Assembly: Farhad Hakim or, as he’s more popularly known the area, Bobby-da.

Urdu, Islam, aspirational students and the Trinamool: this one visual snapshot sums up Kidderpore in 2016 quite well.

Kidderpore is one of Kolkata’s oldest neighbourhood and home to the first deep-water port in India, established in 1780. Given that caste rules meant it was primarily Muslims who served in the riverine port, it is an overwhelmingly Muslim area with small pockets of Anglo-Indian residents. Later, the area would be home to jute mills – the economic engine of colonial Kolkata – drawing in again largely Muslim labour from all across north India. This pattern of industrial migration meant that Urdu-speaking Muslims from small towns and qasbas across north India came to dominate Kolkata even as Bengal’s large Muslim cultivator class stuck on in the village.

In spite of their small numbers, Kolkata’s Urdu-speaking Muslims have dominated politics in Bengal being more visible that the much larger population of rural Muslim Bengalis. Till 2011, they were also one of the Left’s most loyal supporters. However, in the five years since Mamata Banerjee came to power, clever politics and some actual development work in the city’s Muslim slums has meant that the city’s Muslims have now mostly switched over to the Trinamool.

Water supply

“Paani ka maslaa hal kar dees hai, Mamata,” said Shamima Akhtar decisively, arms akimbo. Mamata has solved the water crisis. “She replaced the thin pipe with a thick one. Now we get plenty of water, thrice a day.”

Located on the twin deltas of two massive rivers, the Ganga and the Brahmaputra, Bengal is the last place that should suffer from a shortage of water. Yet, Kolkata’s unplanned growth has meant exactly that. The city’s slums, which house three-fourths of its residents, have historically struggled for water. Long queues at the neighbourhood “pipe” – municipal tap – at the start of the day were an irritating if necessary chore. Water was therefore one of the Trinamool’s key focus areas as the party that controlled the Kolkata Municipal Corporation from 2010-’15. New booster stations, fresh pipes and a new treatment plant at Dhapa has mean that Shamima Akhtar is quite pleased. Although this work was done by the Trinamool-controlled Kolkata Municipal corporation, the party has a fair chance of converting this goodwill into votes in the Assembly elections as well.

Hospitals and colleges

And while water might be the biggest improvement to Kidderpore, it’s not the only one. In 2014, Mamata Banerjee refurbished the local maternity hospital and placed it under the state’s largest government hospital SSKM. Right now, construction is on to add a paediatric wing and a blood bank.

Abdul Mannan is waiting outside, as his daughter-in-law is in labour outside. “Earlier, this place was very basic and didn’t do 'Ceasers' so we had to go to SSKM,” he said referring to the caesarean section. “But now having this in Kidderpore is a big help, since for poor people like us going to a private nursing home isn’t an option.”

And also education: there is a new women’s college in the area, offering undergraduate courses targeted specially at minorities.

Garbage and toilets

Shabir Khan, a taxi driver, picks out Bobby Hakim for special praise. “Idhar kaa sab o hee kiyaa hai”. He’s done everything here. “The garbage dumps are gone, they have built toilets in the basti and installed lights. Trinamool has a good chance here in the port area,” Khan surmised.

Kolkata is one of India’s dirtiest cities. Under the Trinamool, the cities municipal corporation has done away with open vats of garbage, replacing them with modern compactors. Dotting Kidderpore, easily one of the dirtiest parts of the city, they’ve made a significant difference. And even as Mumbai takes to cruelly punishing the poor for public urination, Kolkata has taken to building toilets. The KMC claims it built more than 5,000 sanitation latrines in Kolkata’s slums in 2012-13 alone.

Outside Kidderpore’s Sola Ana graveyard, the city’s largest Muslim burial ground, there are installed the Trinamool’s characteristically wonky trident street lights. At a pan-and-cigarette shop outside the graveyard, Aman Sheikh says this is the first time this area has been lit up. “Sola aana [100%] always used to be dark and the lights never worked.” From 2010-15, the KMC claims to have installed more than 11,400 new light posts all across the city.

From Left to Trinamool

This sort of development meant that the Trinamool swept the Kolkata municipal elections in 2015, winning 80% of the wards in the city. The Communist Party of India (Marxist) came in a very distant second with 10%. Even thought the scale of the defeat was shocking, the CPI(M) was always a party uneasy in Kolkata. The true paradigm shift in the 2015 KMC election was maybe reflected in the way Kolkata’s Muslim neighbourhood’s voted.

Kolkata’s Muslims have been strong Left supporters, since the Communists ended the city’s bloody tradition of communal riots that were an endemic part of Congress rule in West Bengal. In 2015, however, Kolkata’s Muslims – in areas such as Park Circus, Rajabazar and Kidderpore itself ­– voted in large numbers for the Trinamool, swayed largely by the party’s development work in the slums. Indications point to the fact that even in the Assembly elections, Banerjee has maintained this Kolkata Muslim support.

Playing the Muslim identity

Unfortunately, the Trinamool hasn’t only stopped at development work in its wooing of Kolkata’s Muslims – it has also descended into the politics of communal identity. Something the Left did not do; or at least did not do on the Trinamool’s scale. In Delhi, the imam of the Jama Masjid cynically supports political parties (his admirable flexibility on the matter means he has backed both the Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party at different times). Mamata Banerjee has now bought this odious practise to Kolkata, canvassing for the support of the imam of Kolkata’s Tipu Sultan’s mosque.

In this politics of Muslim identity, she has also conflated Urdu with Muslimness, hosting Urdu soirees and inviting Pakistani ghazal singer Ghulam Ali to the city on state expense. While Urdu is the language of most of Kolkata’s Muslims, a vast majority of the state’s Muslims – making up 27% of West Bengal’s population – have Bengali as their mother tongue. This Trinamool bias towards Kolkata’s Muslims is reflected in Banerjee’s cabinet as well, which has three Urdu-speaking Muslims and 2 Muslim Bengalis. Under the Left in 2006, in comparison, only one Muslim minister out of 5 spoke Urdu.

That said, in the 2016 Assembly campaign, the Trinamool stuck admirably to the issue of development in Kolkata’s Muslim neighbourhoods. At least for now, the party feels it has a comfortable hold on the demographic and there is no need for communal rhetoric.

scroll.in/article/807624/why-kolkatas-urdu-speaking-muslims-switched-allegiance-from-the-left-to-mamata-banerjee

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Arab World

Dozen of Prisoners Escape ISIL Prison in Raqqa

May/05/2016

TEHRAN (FNA)- 11 Syrian prisoners managed to escape an ISIL prison in Tabaqa city which is under controlled by the terrorist group, informed sources said on Thursday.

All 11 prisoners that managed to escape Sadd al-Furat jail in the city of Tabaqa were among the people detained by ISIL when the terrorist group seized Raqqa province in 2014, the sources said.

The sources said all the prisoners, who were among opposition fighters, had reached non-ISIL areas, however it remains unclear how they were able to do so, as there are no rebel areas nearby.

The people reportedly escaped after a guard in the ISIL’s religious police jail forgot to lock the cell's door where the detainees were locked in.

It is currently unknown if ISIL will crackdown on civilians of Tabaqa city for the incident, nevertheless they are expected to tighten security as to avoid more escapees. No further details are available.

The development comes as ISIL terrorists continue their mass killing of civilians in the stronghold city of Raqqa, specially after the Takfiri terrorist group's defeats and withdrawals from more areas in Syria, especialy after they lost the ancient city of Palmyra (Tadmur) in Homs province.

The ISIL is executing civilians on different baseless and irrelevant charges as the terrorist group has had to resort to more brutal ways to instill more fear inside or outside its occupied territories, as government forces have been retaking major cities and slowly pushing the terrorists back to a diminished territories.

en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13950216000262

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ISIL Executes Two Men Accused of Smuggling Food to Deir Ezzur City

May/05/2016

TEHRAN (FNA)- ISIL executed two Syrian men in the Deir Ezzur province after the terrorist group accused them of smuggling food and goods to the districts under the control of the Syrian government.

ISIL claimed the two men were transferring food and goods from the town of al Hissan to the Deir Ezzur city neighborhoods that are under the Syrian government control, and subsequently sentenced them to capital punishment in an ISIL court.

They were, more specifically, said to have sneaked into the al-Jourah and Qussor neighborhoods controlled by the Syrian Army, however their names were not disclosed by ISIL media outlets.

About 100,000 civilians currently live under siege in Deir Ezzur since the ISIL seized villages along the highway to Palmyra a few years ago.

Although basic commodities' prices have increased about 80% in areas in Deir Ezzur under the ISIL besiege, the residents regularly receive humanitarian aid drops by Syrian and Russian cargo planes.

Syrian and Russian cargo planes regularly drop aid packages provided by the government and international organizations on neighborhoods under ISIL's siege across the city of Deir Ezzur.

The airdropping operations were conducted after ISIL militants did not comply with demands by the international community to end the sufferings of Deir Ezzur's residents by stopping the siege, local sources say.  

en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13950216000214

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Over 100 ISIL Terrorists Killed as Iraqi Forces Advance near Fallujah

May/05/2016

TEHRAN (FNA)- Iraqi forces destroyed more than ten ISIL tunnels in the Southern suburbs of Fallujah city in the province of Anbar, killing around 100 militants, the Iraqi army's Anbar Operations Command said in a statement.

The Iraqi helicopters have destroyed eight ISIL-led car bombs South of Fallujah, according to the statement, published by ARA News on Thursday.

Military sources confirmed that the army troops were able to kill scores of ISIL militants in the vicinity of Fallujah, taking over strategic areas near the ISIL-held city.

“The joint forces, comprising army police and tribal groups were able to recapture the highway connecting Fallujah with Amriyah and Ramadi, and the districts of Albu Saiyf and Fahilat,” the Iraqi commander told ARA News, speaking on the condition of anonymity.

On the other hand, sporadic clashes erupted between the Kurdish Peshmerga forces and ISIL militants in the areas near the group-held city of Tal Afar, and in the Telskuf district which was recaptured by the Peshmerga earlier on Tuesday.

"The Peshmerga forces have launched a major campaign to clear the region from ISIL terrorists, especially after they took over strategic areas on Tuesday,” Kurdish Commander Izzedin Wanki said.

Earlier this week, the Kurdish Peshmerga forces began a major military operation against ISIL and were able to liberate the key village of al-Bashir South of Kirkuk, in Northern Iraq, according to local sources.

“Peshmerga clashed with ISIL terrorists in several fighting positions, while ISIL responded by shelling the Kurdish headquarters with mortar shells,” Wanki said.

On Tuesday, Kurdish military sources said that the Peshmerga forces were able to deter an ISIL attack, pointing out that the terrorist group carried out several car bomb attacks on the Peshmerga positions in the areas of Telskuf, Ba’shiqah, Khazar and Kweir.

ISIL aims to raise the morale of its militants and supporters after being exposed to heavy losses over the past few months, according to observers.

The radical group has been trying to carry out surprise attacks against the Peshmerga, but the Kurdish fighters were able to deter assailants with the support of the US-led coalition forces.

en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13950216000312

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At Least 10 Killed in Twin Bombings in Syria's Homs

May/05/2016

TEHRAN (FNA)- At least 10 people were killed in twin bombings that rocked Syria's Central province of Homs on Thursday, a military source said.

A car bomb and a booby-trapped motorcycle went off at the town of Mukharam al-Fukani in the Eastern part of Homs, the source said on condition of anonymity, Xinhua reported.

Emergency crew are working to deal with the aftermath of the bombings, the source added.

en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13950216000350

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ISIL Smuggles Medical Supplies from Neighbouring Countries

May/05/2016

TEHRAN (FNA)- An Iraqi health official said that the ISIL terrorist group has been smuggling medicine from certain neighbouring countries to areas under their control.

"The Iraqi government is certainly not sending medical supplies to the areas under ISIL control, especially Mosul, however the terrorist group is smuggling medical supplies from Turkey, Jordan, and from the areas which ISIL controls in Syria,” the Acting Director General of Health in Nineveh Province Ahmed Nazim told BasNews.

He also revealed that, based on the information obtained by the Iraqi government, ISIL asks for extraordinarily high prices in return for the health services it provides for the public. People simply cannot afford medical surgeries, laboratory tests and checkups, the Iraqi official said.

Nazim urged the international community to dry up the sources that provide medical supplies for ISIL, so the group would not be any longer able to use the money as a financial source to pay its expenses.

The extremist group has so far executed a large number of medical doctors and healthcare staff across its held territories, but there is no exact figure of how many victims it has killed, he said.

“However, those physicians who have so far survived are living in a harsh situation in Mosul as they are obliged to work for awfully low salaries.”

en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13950216000126

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Iran to Continue Support for Iraqi KRG's War on Terror

May/05/2016

TEHRAN (FNA)- Iranian Ambassador to Baghdad Hassan Danayeefar said Tehran will continue its support for Iraq’s ongoing war against foreign-backed terrorism and extremism, including ISIL, in the war-torn country.

Danayeefar made the remarks in a meeting with President of the Iraqi Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) Massoud Barzani in the city of Irbil on Wednesday evening.

He also voiced hope for the resolution of Iraq's internal problems on the way to political reforms.

In a relevant development on Tuesday, Kurdistan Regional Government Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani appreciated the Iranian government and nation for assisting the Kurdish civilians to overcome ISIL threats and other security crises in Iraq.

"Iran has played a very positive role during the ISIL attack on Iraq's Kurdistan region," Barzani said in a meeting in the city of Irbil on Tuesday.

He reiterated that Iran has helped Iraq's Kurdish people in suppression of the ISIL Takfiri terrorists.

The Iranian ambassador, for his part, renewed Iran's continued support for Iraq in the anti-ISIL war.

The two sides also exchanged views on the ongoing trend of anti-ISIL campaign in the Northern part of Iraq.

In a relevant development in October, Barzani warned supporters of the ISIL that their sponsored monsters would soon wreak havoc on them too.

"The reality is that if a country thinks ISIL is serving its interests for some time, it is making a big mistake since the ISIL problem is not its military attacks, but its discourse is the main problem and this is a threat to the entire region," Barzani said.

Elsewhere, he referred to the ISIL aggression against the Iraqi Kurdistan Region, and said Iran has always been among the first and foremost countries to rush to the Kurds' aid in hard days.

"The Kurds have always had Iran on their side during all historical periods. When Halabja was pounded (by chemical weapons of the former Iraqi regime under Saddam Hossein in 1988), the world heard the voice of Halabja via Iran, otherwise no one would have known what had really happened in Halabja. Also, Iran opened its doors to millions of Iraqi refugees and it was one of the first countries which helped us when the ISIL attacked the Iraqi Kurdistan region," Barzani said.

Noting that when the ISIL attacked Kurdistan, certain Iranian military and intelligence forces came to the region and rendered much help to the Kurds in the fight against the terrorist group, he said, "We should here thank the Iranian leader, the Islamic Republic and all the Iranian officials since they played a highly positive role and they are now playing the same role in Iraq and the Kurdistan region against the ISIL."

en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13950216000394

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Over 2,000 Displaced Civilians Return to Hama

May/05/2016

TEHRAN (FNA)- More than 2,000 displaced civilians returned to their homes in the Hama Governorate after local reconciliation committees, backed by Russian representatives, mediated an agreement between the government and opposition forces to cease hostilities in the region.

The civilians have returned to the village of Al-Waqa’at, which is located just 20 km North of Hama’s provincial capital, Al Masdar reported.

Syrian and Russian aid workers were seen passing out food and aid to the civilians in the Al-Waqa’at while also they were helping the local people get readjusted after years of being displaced.

Similar to the other reconciliation agreements, the civilians who return their homes, will be allowed to restart business and daily life and govern their own villages under the supervision of local committees.

en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13950216000378

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Israeli Airstrikes Target Rafah Area after Shelling Attacks on Gaza

May/05/2016

TEHRAN (FNA)- Israel launched several airstrikes on the Southern Gaza Strip, hours after it shelled across the border of the besieged enclave.

Witnesses said at least five airstrikes targeted an open area near the long-closed Rafah airport, causing material damage, however no casualties were initially reported, Ma'an news agency reported.

Hamas’ armed wing, the Izzedin al-Qassam Brigades, issued a statement following the airstrikes, condemning the Israeli military attacks on the Gaza Strip.

“The enemy should not invent any pretext, whatsoever for its offensive and should leave the Gaza Strip immediately,” the statement said, adding that the airstrikes marked a breach of the ceasefire after the devastating Israeli offensive on the besieged Palestinian territory in 2014.

The Israeli army released a statement, stating that the airstrikes were in retaliation for five mortar rounds fired at Israeli forces from the Gaza Strip since Tuesday.

However, it did not indicate that the airstrikes were part of a broader escalation of violence in the Gaza Strip, quoting Israeli army spokesman Peter Lerner as saying that "both Israeli and Palestinian civilians benefit from and deserve to live without the constant concern of escalation. We will work in order to maintain and restore the quiet that the people deserve."

The statement further added that the airstrikes were targeting “five Hamas terrorist infrastructure in the Southern Gaza Strip,” without specifying the exact nature of the targets.

However, statements by Lerner on social media seemed to indicate that the airstrikes were supposedly targeting tunnels linking Gaza to Egypt.

While the tunnels are used by the Hamas-led government in the Gaza Strip as a source of tax revenue and inflow of weapons, they also supply highly-needed basic necessities for the 1.8 million residents in the besieged Palestinian territory, including food, medicine, as well as infrastructure materials like concrete and fuel.

Along with Israel, Egypt has been cracking down on Gaza tunnels in the past several years, especially since Abd al-Fattah al-Sisi became president in 2014.

Earlier, Israeli tanks stationed along the Gaza border shelled two watchtowers reportedly used by the Hamas movement, eyewitnesses said, after the Palestinian movement reportedly fired a mortar at Israeli troops.

Shells fell on the Shujay'ya neighborhood of Gaza city in the Eastern Gaza Strip, destroying a watchtower reportedly used by Hamas’ military wing, the Izzedin al-Qassam Brigades.

Following the shelling, Gaza’s Ministry of Education evacuated the nearby Subhi Abu Karsh and Beit Dajan schools.

en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13950216000178

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South Asia

Bangladesh Islamist Leader, Motiur Rahman Nizami, Set To Hang For War Crimes

MAY 5, 2016

Motiur Rahman Nizami was convicted of murder, rape and orchestrating the killing of intellectuals during the country’s 1971 independence struggle.

“We’re satisfied. Now there is no bar to execute him unless he seeks clemency from the president and the president pardons him,” Attorney General Mahbubey Alam told AFP after the Supreme Court dismissed Nizami’s final appeal.

A defence lawyer for the 73-year-old said he would not seek clemency and Alam said jail authorities would begin preparing for the execution once they received a copy of the verdict.

Security has been stepped up in Dhaka, already tense after a string of killings of secular and liberal activists and religious minorities by suspected Islamist militants.

Hundreds of people who had campaigned for the Islamist leaders to be tried for their roles in the 1971 war burst into impromptu celebrations at a square in central Dhaka and in the port city of Chittagong.

“Justice has finally prevailed. We hope the government will now execute him without wasting any time,” said Imran Sarker, a secular blogger.

Three senior Jamaat officials and a key leader of Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), the main opposition party, have been executed since December 2013 for war crimes despite global criticism of their trials by a controversial tribunal.

Jamaat said the charges against Nizami were false and aimed at eliminating the leadership of the party, a key ally of the opposition BNP.

Nizami took over as party leader in 2000 and was a minister in the Islamist-allied government of 2001-2006.

Prosecutors said he was responsible for setting up the Al-Badr pro-Pakistani militia, which killed top writers, doctors and journalists in the most gruesome chapter of the 1971 conflict.

Their bodies were found blindfolded with their hands tied and dumped in a marsh on the outskirts of the capital.

Prosecutors said Nizami ordered the killings, designed to “intellectually cripple” the fledgling nation.

The 1971 conflict, one of the bloodiest in world history, led to the creation of an independent Bangladesh from what was then East Pakistan.

Nizami was convicted in October 2014 by the International Crimes Tribunal, which was established in 2010 by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s government and has sentenced more than a dozen opposition leaders for war crimes.

Rights groups say the trials fall short of global standards and lack international oversight and Jamaat and the BNP have accused Hasina of using them to silence her opponents.

Her government says the trials are needed to heal the wounds of the conflict.

In 2013 the convictions of Jamaat officials triggered the country’s deadliest violence in decades, with around 500 people killed, mainly in clashes between Islamists and police.

Jamaat has called a nationwide strike for Sunday to protest the Supreme Court’s decision.

citizen.co.za/afp_feed_article/bangladesh-islamist-leader-set-to-hang-for-war-crimes/

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How Islamic State in Bangladesh Began

MAY 5, 2016,

Nine years ago, Rahman Mizanur arrived in Singapore to work.

The Bangladesh national worked here on and off, and last returned here in December last year.

He was a draftsman in a local construction company, on an S Pass.

Significantly, the 31-year-old had also become deeply radicalised.

A month after he arrived, he began recruiting followers among his countrymen working here, with the help of material linked to terror groups Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and Al-Qaeda.

By March, he had set up a clandestine group called Islamic State in Bangladesh (ISB). The group had an organisation structure with specific roles for its members: leader, deputy leader, and persons in charge of duties like finance, the Home Affairs Ministry said yesterday.

They had a target list that included Bangladeshi government and military officials.

Later that month and in early April, Rahman and seven of his cell members were arrested under Singapore's Internal Security Act.

The ministry said each of the men had worked in Singapore for cumulative periods of between three and 10 years. They were employed in the construction and marine sectors, and were not known to be radicalised when they first arrived here.

Investigations by the Internal Security Department found that Rahman's radicalisation began around 2013, when he read radical material online. ISIS had yet to be declared, but a wave of radicalisation was sweeping through societies like Bangladesh, influencing a minority of individuals like himself.

It likely made him more susceptible to becoming radicalised when a fellow Bangladeshi shared ISIS propaganda material with him on his return home last year.

By then, ISIS had attracted some 30,000 foreign fighters to its ranks and inspired brutal terror attacks in France, Turkey, Belgium and elsewhere. ISIS had also produced propaganda material in various languages to convince Muslims that it is their duty to take up arms and fight for its self-declared caliphate.

The ISB members bought the idea and had intended to join ISIS as foreign fighters. But they turned their sights on Bangladesh as they felt it would be difficult to travel to Syria.

Taking issue with the fact that their country's government was democratically elected, they wanted to overthrow it with force and set up an Islamic state under ISIS' yoke.

The ISB members contributed money for buying firearms. But they had yet to act on their plans to procure them, the ministry said.

They were probably mindful that the authorities and wider community would be more watchful after the arrest and deportation of 27 radicalised Bangladeshi workers were announced in January this year.

Hence, they met largely in open parks or fields to share radical propaganda and videos, which deepened the radicalism of members.

At least two more ISB members are in Bangladesh, and Home Affairs and Law Minister K. Shanmugam told reporters yesterday that Singapore is in close contact with the authorities in Dhaka.

While the ISB's meetings have been disrupted, concerns remain whether there are more radicalised individuals yet to be found out.

National Development Minister Lawrence Wong said: "This is not an issue about foreign workers, or about Islam. It is about a minority of people who have chosen to distort religion, spread their own extremist ideology, and use terror and violence to achieve their goals."

Jurong GRC MP Rahayu Mahzam added that while people should be vigilant, "we should not paint all the Bangladeshis with the same brush".

"Some may be disgruntled with issues back home but the majority here are law-abiding and want to earn an honest living. They contribute to the development of our infrastructure and economy," she said.

Ms Rahayu suggested working more closely with such communities to get them to "also be our eyes and ears on the ground, to look out for potential threats".

straitstimes.com/singapore/how-islamic-state-in-bangladesh-began

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Taliban suffer heavy casualties in Kandahar, 32 killed, 18 wounded in ANSF raids

Thu May 05 2016

The Taliban militants suffered heavy casualties during the raids of the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) in southern Kandahar province.

The Ministry of Defense (MoD) said at least 32 militants were killed and 18 others were wounded during the operations.

A statement by MoD said at least two militants were arrested during the same operation which was conducted in Shahwali Kot district.

MoD in its statement further added that the operations were part of the ongoing clearance raids being conducted by the Afghan forces.

According to MoD, at least 5 militants were killed during a separate operation in southeastern Patkika province and 7 more were wounded.

At least 3 militants were killed during an operation in Syed Karam district of Paktia and another militant was injured, MoD said, adding that 3 more were killed in another operation conducted in Ghormach district of Faryab.

The Afghan forces also killed another militant in Shindand and Guzra districts of Herat in western Afghanistan, MoD added.

The anti-government armed militant groups have not commented regarding the reports so far.

khaama.com/taliban-suffer-heavy-casualties-in-kandahar-32-killed-18-wounded-in-ansf-raids-0844

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16 killed in two separate explosions in Badghis province of Afghanistan

Wed May 04 2016

roadside blast in BadghisAt least 16 people were killed in two separate explosions in northwestern Badghis province of Afghanistan, local officials said.

The first incident took place on Wednesday morning in Bala Murghab district after an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) targeted a group of youths as they were on their way to an opium field for labor work.

The second incident took place hours after the first blast and targeted another group of youths in Qads district, leaving at least 11 people dead.

According to the local officials, the young men were going to lance the opium when they were targeted by IEDs planted by anti-government armed militant groups.

No group including the Taliban insurgents has so far claimed responsibility behind the two explosions.

Taliban militants and insurgents belonging to the other militant groups are frequently using Improvised Explosive Device (IED) as the weapon of their choice to target the security force.

The IEDs are the main contributors to the casualties of the Afghan security forces but are also considered as a key factor in growing civilian casualties.

At least 600 civilians were killed and 1,343 others were wounded in the first quarter of 2016, the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan said in its latest report.

UNAMA further added that consistent with 2015 trends, ground engagements caused the highest number of total civilian casualties, followed by improvised explosive devices (IEDs), complex and suicide attacks, as well as targeted killings.

According to UNAMA, actions by Anti-Government Elements caused at least 60 per cent of casualties while Pro-Government Forces caused at least 19 per cent

khaama.com/16-killed-in-two-separate-explosions-in-badghis-province-of-afghanistan-0839

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The Man, Najibullah Popal Who Helped Save Afghanistan's Treasures from Ravages of War

Thursday 5 May 2016

Afghanistan usually celebrates its national heroes with pomp and fanfare. But Najibullah Popal is not remembered with the celebratory gunfire that welcomes home a victorious cricket team, or the presidential speeches bestowed on assassinated rebel leaders.

His feat – preserving some of the country’s most valuable heritage from the ravages of war – was possible only because it was kept secret.

During the early 1990s, Popal was a watchman at the National Museum on the outskirts of Kabul. As civil war approached the capital, he and a few colleagues decided to stow away the most valuable objects, including the fabled Bactrian Hoard, an exquisite gold collection excavated the year before the 1979 Soviet invasion.

The museum workers eventually convinced four government ministers to let them use a safe under the presidential palace that previously belonged to the Central Bank.

For 11 years, only seven men knew where the gold was; only they had keys. When his superiors would ask what was in the safe, Popal said it was worthless ceramics, to stave off curiosity. “Even my wife didn’t know about it,” he told the Guardian, grinning.

Hiding the gold was a good call. In the coming years, rebels and warlords plundered 70% of the museum’s impressive assortment of Buddha statues, Islamic relics and items from the 1st-century Kushan empire.

Later, the Taliban smashed 2,500 objects resembling humans or animals. Most infamously, they ordered the destruction of two magnificent 6th-century Buddhas carved into the mountains in Bamiyan.

“These guys wanted to destroy the history and pride of this nation,” Popal said. “Islam does not allow this. If we want to convert someone to Islam, we should give them the message of Islam, not damage their beliefs.”

For three years, Popal has been part of a team – supported by Chicago University archaeologists and US state department funding – that has restored 300 of the destroyed artefacts. They also catalogued more than 100,000 items and fragments that have been returned, seized in customs or recently excavated. This summer, Afghanistan’s first electronic museum database will be completed.

Meanwhile, parts of the Bactrian gold remain in the vaults, and some of it is on display in Japan.

Situated below the 100-year-old Darulaman Palace, which was devastated by the civil war, Kabul’s National Museum used to be a gloomy testament to decades of conflict. Today, it is a symbol of resilience and of new beginnings.

As opposed to neighbouring Iran, where pre-Islamic history is a pillar of popular national identity, Afghans generally do not know much about Afghanistan’s historic role as a pivot on the Silk Road, said Popal.

Showcasing Afghanistan’s role in birthing ancient civilisations would also help educate foreigners whose knowledge of ancient Afghan history is usually cursory at best, said Mohammad Fahim Rahimi, the museum’s director. “It gives a good picture of what it means to be Afghan,” he said.

Popal sees an imitation of the Taliban’s cultural destruction in Islamic State’s vandalising of pre-Islamic antiquities.

“They should build something, not damage,” Popal said. “Our prophet Muhammad had friendly relations with every nation. Nobody has the right to burn the culture of nations. It is the property of the world.”

theguardian.com/world/2016/may/05/afghanistan-national-museum-kabul-bactrian-hoard-najibullah-popal

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Corruption is a national stigma, says President Ghani

Thu May 05 2016

President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani has said corruption is a national stigma admitting that the government has not been able to uproot it from the governmental institutions.

In his remarks during at the European Conference ‘the way ahead for anti-corruption in Afghanistan’ President Ghani said there are certain cases and factors which are keen to weaken the government institutions.

President Ghani further added that corruption a legacy of the past and hundreds of cases are lying intact in the Attorney General office.

“We have re-organized the Council on Governance & Justice to become a High Council for Governance, Law, and Anti-corruption,” Ghani said, adding that “Our excellent Chief Justice and newly confirmed Attorney General are already breathing new life into justice sector reform.”

He also added that the government is carefully considering a proposal to establish a specialized Anti-Corruption Justice Center.

“With your help, we will soon be mounting a national campaign to engage our public in the fight against corruption,” he added.

Tackling corruption remains one of the challenging jobs for the government of national unity as the leaders of the government are saying that the growing graft has roots with the previous administration.

Corruption continues to remain a major issue for the Afghan people despite the government stepped up efforts to uproot it but the efforts have not proven to be satisfactory for the people and international community.

Meanwhile, President Ghani said the government is mainly engaged with an imposed war which prevents the leaders of the government to focus on fight against corruption.

khaama.com/corruption-is-a-national-stigma-says-president-ghani-0845

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Suicide attack foiled in populated area of Takhar in northeast of Afghanistan

Thu May 05 2016

suicide attack foiled in TakharA deadly suicide attack plot to target a populated area of Takhar in northeast of Afghanistan has been thwarted by the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF).

The Afghan Intelligence, National Directorate of Security (NDS), said a would-be suicide bomber was arrested in connection to the attack plot by the intelligence operatives.

A statement by NDS said another individual who was helping the would-be bomber to take him to the area of his target was also arrested.

NDS did not elaborate further regarding the exact location which was the possible target of the suicide attack.

The detained would-be bomber has been identified as Mohammad Ayoub who was also famous as Masab who was appointed by commander Tura for the attack, NDS added.

The would-be bomber together with the attack organizer have confessed that they were involved in major attacks on security personnel in Takhar and northern Baghlan province.

One of the suspects says he was injured during a gun battle with the security forces and was admitted to Doctors Without Border hospital for treatment.

The suspect who identifies himself as Habib-ur-Rehman says he was fighting in commandos unit of the militants to fight the Afghan security forces.

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

khaama.com/suicide-attack-foiled-in-populated-area-of-takhar-in-northeast-of-afghanistan-0843

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Ghani should not sign execution orders of terror convicts: Amnesty International

Thu May 05 2016

The Amnesty International has urged President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani not to sign the execution orders of prisoners convicted of terror offences.

The appeal by Amnesty International comes as the Taliban group made a plea to international organizations to intervene and stop the Afghan government to implement death sentences.

In its latest release titled “Afghanistan: The death penalty is no solution to terrorism’ Amnesty International said ‘Afghanistan’s President Ashraf Ghani should not sign execution orders.”

“By hastily seeking retribution for the horrific bombings that killed over 64 people in Kabul last month, the government of Afghanistan’s plans to execute those convicted of terror offences will neither bring the victims the justice they deserve, nor Afghanistan the security it needs,” said Jameen Kaur, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for South Asia.

“There is no evidence that the death penalty serves as a deterrent, and there are fears that it will only serve to perpetuate a cycle of violence without tackling any of the root causes.”

“The death penalty is a cruel and irreversible punishment. In a context where there are very serious questions about the fairness and transparency of the legal process, the use of torture by security forces to extract confessions, and the narrow window for appeal, there is a particular risk of mistakes being made that cannot be corrected.”

“Amnesty International opposes the death penalty in all cases without exception, regardless of the nature or circumstances of the crime; guilt, innocence or other characteristics of the individual; or the method used by the state to carry out the execution.”

This comes as a spokesman for the Presidential Palace said last week that a list of militants convicted of terror offences have been forwarded to President Ghani.

khaama.com/ghani-should-not-sign-execution-orders-of-terror-convicts-amnesty-international-0842

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Kabul’s PD#10 likely target of attacks or kidnapping, warns US Embassy

Thu May 05 2016

The US Embassy in Kabul has issued an alert regarding ongoing threats of suicide and/or coordinated attacks in Police District 10 of Kabul city.

Citing threat alerts issued by police chief of PD#10, the Embassy said “The Kabul City Police District 10 Chief of Police has issued a warning to Kabul City residents, especially in Police District 10, advising of ongoing threats of suicide and/or coordinated attacks, and kidnapping against International Guest Houses, UN Offices, ICRC Offices, international and local banks and international and local residences. He asks that anyone that observes suspicious activity immediately notify the police.”

“The U.S. Embassy Kabul reminds U.S. citizens in Kabul and other parts of Afghanistan to review your personal security plans, take appropriate steps to enhance your personal safety, remain aware of your surroundings, monitor local news for updates, and maintain a high level of vigilance,” the statement by US Embassy added.

This comes as the anti-government armed militant groups have been attempting to carry out attacks in capital Kabul during the recent weeks which comes after the Taliban group announced its spring offensive.

The group claimed responsibility for one of the deadly attacks carried out in Pul-e-Mahmood Khan area of the city targeting the VIP protection unity last month.

At least 64 people were killed and around 347 others were wounded in the attack with the security officials saying the majority of the victims were ordinary civilians.

khaama.com/kabuls-pd10-likely-target-of-attacks-or-kidnapping-warns-us-embassy-0841

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Standing by Afghanistan: the strategic choice

Thu May 05 2016

Afghanistan’s defence and security forces face enormous challenges. They are countering an insurgency of well-equipped guerrilla fighters, who enjoy the unconditional support of organised crime, international terrorists and some neighboring countries. They are on the front line of the fight against terrorist groups including Al-Qaida, so-called Islamic State and the Haqqani Network. Moreover – as Afghan President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani has said repeatedly – for fourteen years Afghanistan has been in an undeclared war with Pakistan. And it’s also believed that the country continues to be the proxy battleground for India and Pakistan, two nuclear powers.

It is essential that the international community continues to stand by Afghanistan, building up the capacity of is forces and sustaining them financially until the country is able to do so itself. Not only is this support vital for Afghanistan, it is also in the strategic interest of its international partners.

A proud military destroyed

Afghanistan is no stranger to conflict. It has suffered numerous civil, regional and cross-regional wars over the past three millennia. The security and defence of the country depended on militias for a long part of its history but started to develop its formal military in the tenth century, during the Ghaznavid Empire.

By the 1980s, Afghanistan had a small, but strong military. As a landlocked and mountainous country, it depended heavily on its air force for transport, reconnaissance and close air support. It had more than 400 aircraft, including around 240 fixed-wing combat aircraft, 150 helicopters and perhaps 40 transport aircraft.

The country’s proud aviation history was symbolised by Abdul Ahad Momand, an Afghan air force aviator who was the first Afghan – and the fourth Muslim – to journey to outer space as one of Soyuz TM-6 crew members and spent nine days aboard the Mir space station in 1988 as an Intercosmos Research Cosmonaut.

These achievements were erased and most military assets were looted and destroyed during decades of war and internal conflict, before the international community intervened following the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

Starting from scratch

In August 2003, NATO took command of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), mandated by the United Nations (UN). Over the following decade of ISAF’s deployment, building up the Afghan national security and defence forces became an increasingly important part its mission.

This meant starting from scratch. Afghanistan’s military assets had been destroyed. Moreover, the UN-led Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration programme disarmed around 100,000 of the mujahedin and officers of the former communist regime — and many were excluded from serving in the Afghan security forces.

With time it became clear that disarming the militia groups and excluding professional military officers – along with ISAF’s extremely centralised security and governance strategy – provided an opportunity for the Taliban and terrorists to re-emerge and re-organise in the rural areas of Afghanistan.

khaama.com/standing-by-afghanistan-the-strategic-choice-0840

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North America

US Based Indian Muslim Organization Makes Drinkable Water Accessible to Drought Affected Rural Areas of India

05 May 2016

Maharashtra: Marathwada, one of the five regions in Indian State of Maharashtra containing eight districts is reeling under severe drought since last three years. It is the most water deprived region of Maharashtra. The rivers, canals, ponds and nallas have dried up. The poor population is forced to buy water at inflated prices from ‘water mafia’. The failing crops have forced farmers to attempt suicides.

To bring relief to people in three drought affected districts of Marathwada viz. Nanded, Hingoli and Parbhani, IMRC (Indian Muslim Relief & Charities)  has installed 50 hand pumps since January 2016.

Sunil Chaure, 42 from village Manatha in Nanded District, Marathwada used to buy a bucket of water ranging from 2 to 5 Indian rupees, which was eating up one third of  his monthly income but he is now relived after IMRC built hand pump in his village.

“We are very happy that our drinking water woes have gone after hand pump was installed in our village. This is a good cause for which everyone should come forward to help we poor farmers,” said Chaure.

Younous Ahmed, IMRC volunteer, who is looking after water project in Marathwada region, said, “I have never seen such a huge intensity of drought. People are struggling for drops of water. The government’s drilling machines usually digs up to 200 meter and stop if they don’t find any water. But when we started drilling we found that water was available at 500-700 feet deep in the earth and started drilling at such lengths.”

In 2013, thousands of miles away from India, a US based Indian Organization, IMRC worried about the climate change in India leading to hot summers and scarcity of rains leading to shortage of drinking water took an initiative, ‘village water well’ project to build and install  bore wells, hand and electric pumps in rural area of India.

IMRC has build and installed more than 400 bore wells and hand pumps across six Indian states since 2013.

In year 2013, IMRC built 54 water wells and 40 hand pumps, in 2014, 57 bore wells and 75 hand pumps whereas in 2015 the number the numbers has touched 200.

Besides the drought affected regions, the bore wells and hand pumps have been installed in the rural areas suffering from neglect of their governments, having deficiency of rains, recurring droughts, having unsafe source of drinking water and where people had to walk miles to fetch water.

In Madhya Pradesh, the bore wells and hand pumps were installed in different villages like Chatrukhedi, Mau, Barukhedi, Burakhedi,  Magrana, Dhanora, Manglaj, Banskheda,  Sherpura, Khujner.

In Maharashtra the areas covered are Bhogaw, Girgaw, Khurgaw, Chingaw, Kamtha, Taroda, Daitna, Parbhani, Babulgaw, Balapuri and more bore wells are expected to be completed soon.

In Bihar, the areas covered are Harnabuzrug, Chakdarab, Fatimachak, Raypura, Parsotipur, Arajiparsotipur, Babura, Aabdachak, Nanduchak, Dhayharna

In Andhra Pradesh, the areas covered are, Pileru, Kalkiri, Rajuvaripalli, Kalluru, Gadi, Ellankivaripalli, Sodum, Madalcoloni , Muhammadiyulapalli, Kuppam.

In Telangana, the areas covered are, Syednagar, Qasimnagar, Venkatadripet, Uppugal, Thatikonda, Khanpur, Kandalgudem, Torrur, Ontimamidipalli.

“The local people where the water wells were installed have expressed joy and immense gratitude for having local access to potable water. People from all the faiths are benefitting from IMRC water projects,” said Wahid Nadvi, the IMRC volunteer looking after water projects in Bihar and Jaharkhand.

The IMRC has also completed installing 35 out of 50 tube wells across different villages and mohallas in Sumbal Sonawari belt of  Kashmir to provide the local populace with access to clean drinking  water. The work on remaining 15 tube wells is expected to be completed soon.

caravandaily.com/portal/us-based-indian-muslim-organization-makes-drinkable-water-accessible-to-drought-affected-rural-areas/

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Islamic State capable of staging Paris-style attack in US: American intelligence

May 5, 2016

Washington: Dreaded terror group ISIS has the capability to stage a Paris-style attack in the US using its local cells to strike in multiple locations and inflict dozens of casualties, top American intelligence official has said.

"They do have that capacity," Director of National Intelligence James Clapper told CNN.

"That's something we worry about a lot in the United States, that they could conjure up a raid like they did in Paris or Brussels," where March attacks on a train and at an airport left 32 dead and 300 people injured, Clapper said.

At least 130 people died and hundreds other injured in the multiple coordinated terror attacks by the ISIS militants in the French capital in November.

Earlier, President Barack Obama and some of his top security advisors spoke of the ISIS threat in less stark terms and emphasized efforts to protect the US.

Obama had said that "we, here in the United States, face less of a threat than Europe" from ISIS.

Still, he said, "The Paris-style attack, the Brussels style attack is the challenge that we're going to continue to face."

Clapper, who identified the ISIS with "brutality", predicted that its beheadings, crucifixions and repression would eventually be self-defeating, the channel said.

In the meantime, he and other administration officials raised their concerns about attacks like the broad assaults ISIS unleashed in the streets of Paris and Brussels.

Clapper said any attempted attack in the US would echo these assaults in Europe and, as in those cities, ISIS would "either infiltrate people or incite people who are already here," he said.

ISIS central would not necessarily give directions for a specific target, Clapper added.

"That's apparently not exactly their modus operandi," he said. "It's more general, strategic guidance, and then let the local cell figure out how to achieve the objectives."

Clapper qualified the level of danger ISIS poses to the US, saying that, "as an existential threat to this country, it's not ISIS or any other other terrorist group." But he said that he also worries about the "lesser-scaled attacks of what we have seen in this country, or worse, a Paris or Brussels kind of thing", CNN said.

deccanchronicle.com/world/america/040516/is-has-capability-to-stage-paris-style-attack-in-us-intelligence.html

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Australian-born Islamic State Recruiter Killed in US Airstrike

05 May 2016

An Australian citizen suspected of being a top recruiter for the Islamic State terrorist group has been killed in a U.S. airstrike in Iraq.

Australian Attorney-General George Brandis told reporters Thursday that Melbourne native Neil Prakash died in an airstrike in Mosul on April 29.

Brandis says Prakash was actively involved in recruiting terrorists, appearing in IS propaganda videos, and was linked to a number of terrorist plots in Australia. Brandis says Prakash also encouraged so-called "lone-wolf" attacks against the United States.

"Although we should be gladdened by this news because Prakash was the most dangerous Australian we knew of, we shouldn't be complacent either that this is by no means the end of struggle against ISIL (Islamic State Group), it's by no means the case that Prakash was the only dangerous Australian in the Middle East who was trying to reach back to Australia," said Brandis.

"This is a good outcome for the safety and security of our country. He's an evil person. He was involved in the deaths of people. He was wanting to inspire hatred in our country. He wanted young people to be following in the footsteps of martyrs elsewhere, committing terrorist acts here, and our country's a safer place for him having left it," said Australian Immigration Minister Peter Dutton.

Attorney-general Brandis also said he was informed by the United States that another Australian, Shadi Jabar Khalil Mohammad, was killed in an air strike in Syria last month along with her Sudanese husband, who were both recruiters for Islamic State.

Mohammad was the sister of Farhad Jabar, a 15-year-old who shot and killed a civilian police employee in Sydney last October. Jabar was killed in a gunfight with police shortly afterward.

Canberra has launched a wide-ranging anti-terrorism campaign since late 2014.  Authorities have conducted a series of counter-terrorism raids across the country, arresting at least several people on suspicion of planning domestic terrorist attacks and involvement with Islamic militants fighting in Iraq and Syria.

voanews.com/content/australian-born-islamic-state-recuriter-killed-in-us-airstrike/3316366.html

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Europe

After Terror Attacks In Europe, Muslims Still Face Intense Scrutiny

MAY 5, 2016

Muslim communities in Belgium have been under intense scrutiny since the terrorist attacks in Paris and Brussels. Many of the perpetrators had lived there. Since the attacks, there have been efforts to improve community relations. But Belgium's far-right party and a mixed message from a government minister might be having the opposite effect. Teri Schultz has more from Brussels.

SCHULTZ: Later, children of both religions join their voices in song and prayers for peace. This event was organized to foster unity. It's a scene in stark contrast to one described by Belgium's interior minister, Jan Jambon. In the tense political atmosphere after the March 22 terror attacks, he caused an uproar by saying, quote, "a significant part of the Muslim community danced to celebrate the suicide bombings at Brussels airport and the metro station." Muslim social entrepreneur Taoufik Amzile says statements like that stigmatize hundreds of thousands of Belgian Muslims and make the terrorists cheer.

TAOUFIK AMZILE: ISIS is applauding because this is the background materials for their narrative. This is exactly what they need. The message we have sent so many times to the authorities is, you should be really careful with such statements.

SCHULTZ: Amzile says authorities should focus on trying to alleviate the social and economic problems of disaffected young Muslims.

AMZILE: Which is far more important than just looking for two or three youngsters who have danced or probably danced because actually nobody knows of someone danced.

SCHULTZ: But if any Muslims did dance after the attacks, one political party wants that information publicized. The openly anti-Muslim Vlaams Belang has created a website where Belgians can report what their neighbors are doing. Vlaams Belang parliamentarian Filip Dewinter...

FILIP DEWINTER: We started this website islamwatch.net where people can report about facts of Islamization. Every new mosque, every new madrasa, every new halal shop and so on and so on is a sign of Islamization, and we want this Islamization to stop.

SCHULTZ: Dewinter says his group will pass the information on to authorities whether or not the activities are illegal. Thomas Renard researches terrorism at the Egmont Institute in Brussels. He agrees Belgium needs better ways of spotting the early signs of radicalization but says the Vlaams Belang website isn't the way to do it.

THOMAS RENARD: Putting the whole population on duty - I think that is difficult and also potentially counterproductive. With a limited amount of analysts dealing with a large number of untreated information, it becomes really problematic.

SCHULTZ: Renard says IS wants to increase tensions between Belgium's Muslim minority and the rest of the population, and the Islam Watch website could end up doing the terrorists' work for them. Jan Jambon insists he agrees with that sentiment.

JAN JAMBON: (Through interpreter) I have said a thousand times, the worst thing we can do is make an enemy of Islam. We need to see who the terrorists are, and we need to get the rest of the Muslims on our side, not working against us.

SCHULTZ: However, Jambon has refused to take back his remark about Muslims dancing after the Brussels bombings. Belgium's Movement Against Racism, Anti-Semitism and Xenophobia has filed a complaint of hate speech against him. For NPR News, I'm Teri Schultz in Brussels.

npr.org/2016/05/04/476783613/after-terror-attacks-in-europe-muslims-still-face-intense-scrutiny

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David Cameron Labels Islamic State's Actions as Genocide

Wed 04 May 2016

The atrocities committed by Islamic State against Christians in Iraq and Syria should be recognised as genocide, David Cameron has said.

The Prime Minister told MPs he believes there is a "very strong case" for labelling the terror group's actions as acts of genocide, adding that he hopes they will be "portrayed and spoken as such".

It comes weeks after MPs approved a non-binding motion which pressed for the matter to be referred to the UN Security Council by 278 votes to zero.

But Foreign Office Minister Tobias Ellwood initially replied by insisting it is up to the courts and not the Government to make the judgment.

Speaking during Prime Minister's Questions, Conservative former minister Sir Edward Leigh (Gainsborough) told Mr Cameron: "The Christian, Yazidi and Shia children in Syria are suffering from genocide by Daesh and we should recognise it as such.

"May I urge you to indeed do more to replicate the Kindertransport of the 1930s.

"That is what we're doing in taking children directly from the camps in Syria. If we were to take 16-year-olds from a safe environment in Europe we would simply be causing more misery and encouraging the people traffickers."

Mr Cameron replied: "Well you basically asked me two questions there. One is whether there's more we can do to label what has happened as genocide.

"This has always been something that is done under a legal definition but I believe very much that ... there's a very strong case for saying it is genocide and I hope it will be portrayed and spoken as such.

"On the issue of the Kindertransport, I would agree with you.

"We've got an enormous amount that we can be proud of - the money we've put into the camps, the fact we've raised more in London on one day than any humanitarian conference has ever raised in the history of the world, and we've got a very strong record.

"Now, as I'm saying we are going to do more for children who are already registered in Europe before the EU-Turkey deal, but the principle we should try to cling to is that we shouldn't do anything that encourages people to make the perilous journey.

"That's been the cornerstone of our policy and it should remain the case."

premier.org.uk/News/UK/PM-labels-Islamic-State-s-actions-as-genocide

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Anti-Islamic group's founder guilty of inciting racial hatred

MAY 5, 2016

BERLIN • The founder of the German xenophobic and anti-Islamic movement Pegida has been convicted of inciting racial hatred and fined €9,600 (S$15,000) for branding refugees "cattle" and "scum" on social media.

Lutz Bachmann, founder of the Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamisation of the Occident movement, was found guilty on Tuesday over the Facebook posts.

The defence said it will appeal while prosecutors who had demanded a seven-month jail sentence said they may do the same.

Pegida bitterly opposes Chancellor Angela Merkel's liberal migration policy that brought more than one million asylum seekers to Germany last year.

Bachmann, 43, who called the court case a "political show trial", made a defiant appearance when the trial started a week earlier, wearing a pair of glasses that mimicked the black bars printed over people's eyes in censored photos.

His lawyer insisted Bachmann had not written the offending words, and that his Facebook account may have been "hacked".

However, the court saw video footage of a Pegida rally in January last year, where Bachmann appeared to be defending the Facebook comments, saying he had merely "used words that everyone has used at least once".

Turnouts at Pegida rallies peaked at around 25,000 people then, but interest began to wane following wide coverage of Bachmann's racist comments and the appearance of selfies in which he sported a Hitler-style moustache and hairstyle.

The pendulum swung back a few months later, as tens of thousands of asylum seekers - many fleeing war in mostly Muslim countries such as Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan - poured into Germany each week.

Bachmann has repeatedly labelled the newcomers "criminal invaders" and railed against "traitor" politicians and the "liar press", whom he blames for jointly promoting multi-culturalism.

He has previous convictions for drugs, theft and assault. In the late 1990s, he fled Germany for South Africa to avoid a jail term, but was extradited later and served 14 months behind bars in Germany.

straitstimes.com/world/europe/anti-islamic-groups-founder-guilty-of-inciting-racial-hatred

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Zurich signs $135m deal to buy Malaysian Islamic insurer MAA

5th May 2016

Zurich Insurance has signed a deal to buy Malaysia’s MAA Takaful for $134.6m (£92.7m, €117m), giving Europe’s fifth biggest insurer a foothold in the world’s second largest Islamic insurance market .

In a statement released on Thursday, the Swiss insurer announced that it has entered into a share purchase agreement (SPA) to acquire a 100% stake in MAA Takaful - a joint venture launched in 2006 between MAA Group Berhad and Bahrain's Solidarity, which hold 75% and 25% respectively. Under the agreement, Zurich will pay an initial $100m once the deal goes through, with the remainder being settled after three years. MAA Takaful, one of Malaysia’s 11 Islamic insurers, reported $135.4m in gross earned contributions for 2015. The announcement comes just a week after Zurich told International Adviser that the deal had received regulatory approval from Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) and the Malaysian finance ministry. The insurer warned that the buyout, due to be finalised in August, still needs the go ahead from MAA’s shareholders. The transaction will not affect any existing Takaful contracts, said Zurich, as it will continue to service MAA’s customers. Takaful Takaful is an Islamic insurance system that complies with Sharia law, in which money is pooled by all policyholders and then invested. Under the scheme, takaful firms must follow strict religious guidelines, which ban interest, pure monetary speculation, and prohibits investments in industries such as alcohol and gambling. Scale back in Asia The acquisition comes as Zurich looks to scale back its Asian operations, after profits slumped last year when its general insurance division was hit hard by the explosions at the port of Tianjin in China. In December 2015, the Swiss insurer announced announced that its International Life unit would stop writing new business in Singapore. Middle East expansion A move into takaful could allow Zurich to expand its businesses in the Gulf, which currently consists of offices in Bahrain, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates. Last December, the company announced it will exit its general insurance businesses in the Middle East by the end of 2016, but remained firmly committed to its life insurance and corporate reinsurance businesses in the region.

international-adviser.com/news/1028988/zurich-signs-usd135m-deal-malaysian-islamic-insurer-maa

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Sadiq Khan says 'I'm sorry' after using 'Uncle Toms' slur against moderate Muslims

4 MAY 2016

Sadiq Khan was accused of being unfit to become London's next mayor after footage emerged of him describing moderate Muslims of being "Uncle Toms".

Labour is under fresh pressure over its handling of racism and anti-Semitism in the party amid revelations its London mayoral candidate used a racial slur, and criticism from the Chief Rabbi.

Ephraim Mirvis said Labour had a "severe" problem with anti-Semitism that would get worse if the party's inquiry into the issue was used as "sticking plaster" to placate voters.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn set up an independent investigation into anti-Semitism and other forms of racism within the party as the row over the handling of controversial comments by prominent figures continued to engulf the party.

The Chief Rabbi wrote: "If this inquiry turns out to be no more than a sticking plaster, designed to placate and diffuse until after the elections this week, the problem will surely get worse and not better.

"Jeremy Corbyn has stated that his party 'will not tolerate anti-Semitism in any form', and I very much hope that this inquiry will deliver on that pledge and be followed by decisive action.

"All political parties share in the responsibility to rid our society of anti-Semitism but we cannot achieve that objective with political posturing or empty promises of action never to be fulfilled."

Mr Corbyn has insisted there is not a "huge problem" with anti-Semitism in Labour and the issue is limited to a "very small" number of people.

Shadow cabinet minister Diane Abbott said it was "a smear to say that the Labour Party has a problem with anti-Semitism" and Unite union leader Len McCluskey said Mr Corbyn was the victim of "a cynical attempt to manipulate anti-Semitism for political aims" that was "got up by the right-wing press aided and abetted by Labour MPs".

Mr Mirvis warned it would be a mistake to treat the problem as a "political attack".

He wrote: "There are many people, from all sectors of our society, who are demanding more responsibility, particularly from our politicians, for stamping out racism and anti-Semitism. The Labour Party has a long and proud history of doing precisely that.

"Yet, comments from senior and long-standing members of the party, both Jewish and not, show just how severe the problem has now become.

"Everyone agrees that there must be no place for anti-Semitism in our politics and I welcome the inquiry recently announced by the party's leadership. And yet, I would sound an urgent note of caution.

"In recent days, we have heard anti-Semitism in the Labour Party described variously as 'a smear' and as 'mood music' being manipulated by political opponents of Jeremy Corbyn.

"There has been nothing more disheartening in this story than the suggestion that this is more about politics than about substance. The worst of mistakes, in trying to address this problem would be to treat it as a political attack which requires a political solution."

As voters prepare to go to the polls on Thursday, Tories attacked Labour's London mayoral candidate made in 2009 to Press TV.

During a discussion about Muslim voters, Mr Khan said: "You can't just pick and choose who you speak to. You can't just talk to Uncle Toms."

Speaking to ITV London News, Mr Khan acknowledged that the comment had been an offensive racial slur.

He said: "It is, and I regret using that phrase.

"The context was me trying to encourage everyone to get involved in government consultations.

"I was a minister at the time. It was wrong and I regret it."

Mr Khan's team had earlier said that he "regrets" using the phrase, used against black people to suggest they are subservient to whites.

A spokesman said: "This was a bad choice of phrase and Sadiq regrets using it.

"As communities minister at the time, Sadiq was talking about the need to engage with all parts of the community to tackle extremism and radicalisation - as he has pledged to do as mayor."

Paul Scully, MP for Sutton and Cheam, told the Daily Mail: "Once again, Sadiq Khan has shown he doesn't have the judgment to be Mayor of London.

"He's deeply hypocritical on race issue when it suits his political purpose. Labour must show they won't put up with attitudes like this in the party."

telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/05/04/labour-plunged-into-fresh-race-row-as-london-mayoral-candidate-s/

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Mideast

Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad Open Fire on Israeli Troops Near Gaza

4-5-16

Terror groups opened fire at Israeli soldiers on the Gaza border on Wednesday, the sixth time in two days that Israelis have been targeted by gunfire or mortar rounds.

Both Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility for the attacks on the soldiers, who were originally engaged in operations aimed at finding Hamas tunnels. No Israelis were hurt.

Israel responded by shelling observation posts and other Hamas targets. Israel also sent messages to Hamas warning that they will execute a harsher response if mortar fire continues. “Our efforts to destroy the #Hamas terror tunnel network, a grave violation of Israel’s sovereignty, will not cease or be deterred,” IDF spokesman Lt. Col. Peter Lerner tweeted.

“This is the first time that Hamas has ordered an orchestrated attack against Israeli forces, which marks a change in policy, and unwanted escalation that might trigger the next conflict, ”Col. (res.) Eyal Rosen, the reserve commander of the IDF’s Gaza Border War Room Command Center, told reporters.

Monday’s mortar attack on IDF soldiers engaging in engineering work near the border fence was the first time a mortar shell was fired at IDF troops since Operation Protective Edge in the summer of 2014.

The IDF believes that the attacks are part of Hamas’ attempt to prevent the army from locating and destroying tunnels the terrorist group has built since the war’s end. Hamas surprised Israel and killed multiple Israeli soldiers through its use of cross-border tunnels during the war. While Israel largely destroyed the tunnels, Hamas has since invested heavily in rebuilding its network. Hamas reportedly spends hundreds of thousands of dollars each month and employs more than 1,000 operatives working 24 hours a day building tunnels. Haaretz defense analyst Amos Harel asserted in January that “It is reasonable to assume that the number of tunnels crossing under the border is close to that on the eve of Protective Edge.”

Last month, the IDF discovered a Hamas tunnel that crossed inside Israeli territory for the first time since 2014. Israel reportedly uncovered it using specialized new technology. “The prospect of an Israeli technology capable of detecting the tunnels thus threatens both its future achievements and its fighting ethos, which may be one reason for its renewed threats against Israel,” Harel wrote.

thetower.org/3322oc-hamas-palestinian-islamic-jihad-open-fire-on-israeli-troops-near-gaza/

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Turkey, Saudi Arabia unlikely to launch ground operations in Syria: Lavrov

Thu May 05 2016

Turkey and Saudi Arabia are unlikely to launch ground operations in Syria in the light of Russian air forces already stationed in the country, RIA news agency cited Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov as saying on May 4.

Speaking about the crisis in Syria, Lavrov said that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is not an ally for Russia to the extent Turkey is for the United States.

“Assad is not an ally for us. Yes, we support him in the fight against terror and in preserving the Syrian state,” he told RIA in an interview.

“But he is not an ally in the sense Turkey is an ally for the United States.”

Lavrov said Russia sees Syria peace talks in Geneva resuming this month but the right conditions had not yet been met for direct negotiations due to the “whims” of the opposition High Negotiations Committee and other countries including Turkey.

Lavrov also said a meeting of the International Syria Support Group could be convened in the coming weeks.

hurriyetdailynews.com/turkey-saudi-arabia-unlikely-to-launch-ground-operations-in-syria-lavrov.aspx?pageID=238&nID=98743&NewsCatID=352

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ISIL must be pushed back in northern Syria: Turkish minister

Thu May 05 2016

The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) must immediately be pushed back from the Turkish border, said Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, who has intensified diplomatic efforts on Syria ahead of a May 9 meeting in Paris, adding that efforts were continuing to accomplish this goal.

Speaking to reporters in Ankara, the minister voiced frustration over ISIL’s persistent grip on Syria and Iraq despite what he said was a near two-year long effort by the U.S.-led coalition involving 65 countries.

“Daesh should be cleared from the region. This is the most permanent solution,” Çavuşoğlu said, using an Arabic term for ISIL.

“It should be removed from the Manbij region and cleared toward the south,” he said, referring to a town that has been used as an ISIL logistical hub.

Çavuşoğlu exchanged views with his French counterpart on developments surrounding the Syrian conflict, with a particular focus on concerns stemming from renewed rebel shelling of government-held areas in the deeply contested northern city of Aleppo.

He had a phone conversation with French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault on May 4 upon a request from the Turkish side, Turkish diplomatic sources told the Hürriyet Daily News.

“Developments taking place in Syria in recent days and especially the attacks on civilians in Aleppo were on the agenda of the conversation,” said the diplomatic source, speaking under customary condition of anonymity.

“Additionally, [the] meeting schedule on Syria for the forthcoming period also came to the agenda during the conversation,” the same source added.

During the same hours on May 4 in Paris, French government spokesperson Stephane Le Foll announced that France would host Çavuşoğlu on May 9, along with foreign ministers from Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates to discuss the breakdown in the Syrian peace process.

Turkish diplomatic sources said it was too early to talk about Çavuşoğlu’s schedule, although the issue was most probably discussed during his discussion with Ayrault.

Le Foll’s announcement came after a cabinet meeting in which Ayrault said he was concerned over the breakdown in negotiations following the surge of violence in Aleppo that has threatened a two-month cease-fire in the war-torn country, Agence France-Presse reported.

Talks were set to take place later on May 4 in Berlin between Ayrault, German FM Frank-Walter Steinmeier, U.N. peace envoy Staffan de Mistura and Riad Hijab, coordinator for the opposition umbrella group the High Negotiations Committee (HNC).

The U.N. Security Council was to convene later on May 4 in New York for an urgent meeting to discuss the Aleppo crisis, as demanded by Paris and London.

Aleppo, Syria’s former commercial center and its largest city, has been at the center of the conflict for the past two weeks, shattering a limited cease-fire that began in late February.

Diplomatic efforts have been continuing to stop the escalating violence that has killed nearly 300 people there since April 22.

Two Katyusha rockets fired from ISIL-controlled territory in Syria hit the southeastern border province of Kilis early on May 4.

Several farm animals were killed and wounded while a number of buildings were damaged when the rockets hit the gardens of the Forest Management Directorate and the Food, Agriculture and Livestock Directorate.

A total of 19 people have been killed and scores have been wounded by rockets fired at the border province since Jan. 18.

Meanwhile, at least 22 air strikes pounded a key rebel bastion east of the Syrian capital of Damascus on May 4 after a local freeze on fighting expired overnight, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

The observatory said the suspected regime raids hit Eastern Ghouta as clashes with rebels erupted.

The fighting was centered on the town of Deir al-Assafir, where March air strikes by the regime killed 33 civilians, 12 of them children.

There was no immediate word on any casualties from the renewed fighting May 4, the observatory said.

Syrian state media said three people had been killed in renewed rebel shelling of government-held areas in Aleppo, while civil defense workers said air strikes on the rebel-held east of the city killed 11 civilians.

On May 3, rebel rockets killed 19 people in government-held territory of Aleppo, including an unspecified number at the al-Dabit hospital, the observatory said.

hurriyetdailynews.com/isil-must-be-pushed-back-in-northern-syria-turkish-minister-.aspx?pageID=238&nID=98748&NewsCatID=352

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Delegation from Turkish opposition party detained in Israel

Thu May 05 2016

A delegation from Turkey’s far-right Great Unity Party (BBP) was detained at Israel’s Tel Aviv airport early on May 5, the party and CNN Türk have reported.

“Israeli police have detained our deputy leader İlker Kayalıoğlu and other party members for interrogation for an hour and a half,” read a tweet posted on the BBP’s official account, while adding that party leader Mustafa Destici refused to go through passport control before the other party members arrived.

The delegation was released after Israeli police took their testimonies.

The entire BBP delegation was currently on a plane to Turkey, Turkish Foreign Ministry officials told Hürriyet Daily News. The same officials, however, weren’t yet able to confirm whether there was a detainment or if the incident was a routine passport check.

The BBP members, who arrived in Jerusalem on May 1 and visited the Al Aqsa Mosque, were due to arrive in Istanbul at 1:30 p.m.

hurriyetdailynews.com/delegation-from-turkish-opposition-party-detained-in-israel.aspx?pageID=238&nID=98757&NewsCatID=352

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Bones of Dersim massacre victims reburied in ceremony

May/05/2016

The bones of 11 victims of the Dersim massacre in 1938, including seven children, have been reburied in a ceremony in the current-day eastern province of Tunceli after having been recovered in mass grave excavations a year ago.

A memorial was held in the Karabakır village of Tunceli’s Hozat district to remember the 11 victims of the 1938 massacre in Dersim, an older name of Tunceli.

Diyarbakır Mayor Gülten Kışanak, Democratic Regions Party (DBP) co-chair Kamuran Yüksek, Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) Tunceli deputy Alican Ünlü and Tunceli co-mayors Mehmet Ali Bul and Nurhayat Altun took part in the ceremony, in addition to the victims’ families and other prominent local figures.

Human bone fragments were found during an excavation in April 2015 in order to determine whether 24 people from the Canan and Baran families were buried in the region in a mass grave, as claimed by their relatives.

The Forensic Medicine Institute conducted a number of tests to determine the age of the bones, which were discovered 20 centimeters beneath the ground, who they belonged to and how long they had been underground.

Investigation revealed that 11 people, including seven children, were buried in the grave more than 50 years ago. Imprints with names of the victims were also recovered from the area, alongside numerous bullet cartridges and empty bullet casings which matched the army ammunition used at the time of the massacre, the lawyer of the Canan and Baran families, Cihan Söylemez, said.

DNA samples were also collected from the families of the victims which matched the DNA of the bones found inside the mass grave.

“The forensic excavations in April 2015 revealed a second result, which is the fact that members of the Canan and Baran families were buried in two different locations,” Söylemez claimed, explaining that a total 24 family members were killed but the mass grave in question included the remains of only 11.

“The necessary legal process to reveal their location will be promptly initiated,” he added.

The bone fragments of all 11 victims were enshrouded together and buried inside a single coffin. Laments for the dead were sang in Kurdish following a religious ceremony.

Meanwhile, a commemoration was held in front of the Galatasaray High School on Istanbul’s central İstiklal Avenue for the victims of the massacre.

A group of some 200 protesters staged a sit-in, holding photos of the victims and reading testimonials from witness accounts.

Over 13,000 people were killed in Tunceli during a military operation to quash an apparent Kurdish tribal rebellion during the single-party era. Seyid Rıza, the leader of the rebellion, was executed in 1937.

The Baran and Canan family members claim that 24 of their ancestors, including women and children, were taken from the Karabakır village on Aug. 14, 1938, and executed at the Saka Sure neighborhood by military personnel.

The surviving family members wanted to erect a monument in memory of 24 people in the area where they claimed the execution took place, but stopped construction work after finding bones in the area. Demanding an examination of the bones, the families then applied to the Hozat Public Prosecutor’s Office, which rejected the demand, saying the incident exceeded the statute of limitations.

Söylemez subsequently applied to the Erzincan High Criminal Court to cancel the ruling of the prosecutor’s office. The higher court agreed that the incident should be investigated. The court said in its July 17, 2014, ruling that the prosecutor’s office had decided the bones dated back to 1938 without conducting medical examinations.

hurriyetdailynews.com/bones-of-dersim-massacre-victims-reburied-in-ceremony.aspx?pageID=238&nID=98761&NewsCatID=341

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Four wounded after rockets hit Turkey’s Kilis

May/05/2016

Four people, including a police officer, were wounded after rockets fired from Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL)-controlled territory hit the southeastern border province of Kilis early on May 5.

Two rockets were fired from Syria, causing damage to a number of buildings, including a high school and the Provincial Education Directorate. Another rocket landed 20 minutes later.

Police and ambulances were sent to the area amid an increase in security measures.

Meanwhile, the Turkish army said that four ISIL militants were killed and the weapon launching sites that the attack was carried out from was destroyed.

Turkey has been hit by a series of rocket attacks originating from ISIL-held Syrian territory since mid-January. A total of 20 people have been killed and scores have been wounded by rockets fired at the border province since Jan. 18.

hurriyetdailynews.com/four-wounded-after-rockets-hit-turkeys-kilis.aspx?pageID=238&nID=98756&NewsCatID=509

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Southeast Asia

Muslim Militants Threaten To Kill More Hostages in Philippines

MAY 5, 2016

Muslim militants have threatened to kill three more hostages in their jungle base in the southern Philippines more than a week after beheading a Canadian man when their multi-million dollar ransom demands were not met.

In a video circulated this week by the SITE Intelligence Group, which monitors jihadi websites, the captives from Canada, Norway and the Philippines pleaded for the Canadian and Philippine governments to heed the Abu Sayyaf militants’ demand.

Six heavily armed Abu Sayyaf fighters stood behind the hostages, who were made to sit in a clearing and spoke briefly before a camera. A black flag hang in the backdrop of banana trees and lush foliage.

Norwegian hostage Kjartan Sekkingstad said that if the kidnappers’ demand was not met, “we will be executed like our friend John.”

The militants beheaded John Ridsdel on April 25 in the southern Philippine province of Sulu, an impoverished Muslim province in the south of the largely Roman Catholic country, after they failed to get a ransom of 300 million pesos (USD6.3 million).

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau condemned the killing but vowed not to give in to the kidnappers’ ransom demands. Following the beheading, the Philippine military launched an offensive, which security officials believe have killed more than a dozen gunmen so far.

Canadian captive Robert Hall asked the Philippine government to “please stop shooting at us and trying to kill us. They’re gonna do a good job at that.” He asked his government to heed the militants’ demand.

Holding back tears, Filipino Marites Flor asked several officials and prominent Philippine personalities, including local presidential candidates, for help “because we want to be freed alive.”

A masked militant warned Canada and the Philippines that the three remaining hostages would be killed “if you procrastinate once again.”

It was the first time, the three captives were shown in a video after Ridsdel’s killing.

The four were seized from a marina on southern Samal Island and taken by boat to Sulu, where Abu Sayyaf gunmen continue to hold several captives, including a Dutch bird watcher who was kidnapped more than three years ago, and eight Indonesian and Malaysian crewmen who were snatched recently from three tugboats.

The militants freed 10 Indonesian tugboat crewmen a few days ago reportedly in exchange for ransom.

The United States and the Philippines have separately blacklisted the Abu Sayyaf for kidnappings for ransom, beheadings and bombings. The brutal group emerged in the early 1990s as an extremist offshoot of a decades-long Muslim separatist rebellion in the south.

macaudailytimes.com.mo/philippines-muslim-militants-threaten-kill-hostages.html

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Indonesia, Philippines, Malaysia to coordinate against militant pirates

MAY 5, 2016

YOGYAKARTA: Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines agreed on Thursday to conduct coordinated maritime patrols after a spate of ship hijackings by Islamist militants in the southern Philippines. Most of the piracy in the area is the work of militants from the Abu Sayyaf group operating out of lawless Philippine islands. Indonesia has warned that the problem could reach levels seen off Somalia. Indonesian authorities have stopped issuing permits to ships taking coal to the Philippines because of the attacks. “We will undertake coordinated patrols in the maritime areas of our common concern,” Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi said after a meeting of the countries’ military chiefs and foreign ministers in the Indonesian city of Yogyakarta. The southern Philippines shares maritime borders with Indonesia and Malaysia and they signed an agreement in 2002 to strengthen border security in response to increasing cross-border attacks by militants of the Abu Sayyaf group, but they have yet to mount coordinated naval patrols. Coordinated patrols involve voyages by the different navies operating in their own territorial waters. Indonesia last month called for joint maritime patrols, which would involve ships from the three navies patrolling together and crossing into each other’s territorial waters. But the Philippines said it wanted separate but coordinated patrols to identify safe corridors where ships can travel. Indonesia is the world’s largest thermal coal exporter and supplies 70 percent of the Philippines’ coal imports. Abu Sayyaf militants have become notorious for kidnapping over the past 15 years or so and have earned millions of dollars in ransoms. They have acquired modern weapons, high-powered boats and communications equipment. Marsudi said the neighbours would also set up a hotline to improve cooperation and share intelligence. “We share the urgent need to take action to ensure our citizens feel protected in undertaking their activities in the area,” she said. Procedures for the patrols in the Sulu and Celebes seas would be worked out at a follow-up meeting, she said. Analysts say $40 billion worth of cargo passes through those waters a year, including supertankers from the Indian Ocean that cannot use the crowded Malacca Strait. The militants, who killed a Canadian hostage last month, and who hold more than a dozen foreigners, were in the past linked to al Qaeda and have more recently voiced support for Islamic State. The United States advises the Philippine military and has given about $200 million in communications and surveillance equipment to the three countries’ maritime forces over the past decade.

nst.com.my/news/2016/05/143723/indonesia-philippines-malaysia-coordinate-against-militant-pirates

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Africa

Foiled Kenya Anthrax Plot Hints At Islamic State’s Scramble For Africa

MAY 4, 2016

IROBI — Kenyan authorities claim to have foiled a “large-scale” biological terrorist plot by militants linked to the Islamic State (IS), raising fears that the Iraq- and Syria-based group may be extending its influence in Africa.

Police arrested Mohammed Abdi Ali, a medical intern at the Wote District Hospital in southeastern Kenya, on Friday and a court has since authorized his detention for 30 days while investigators complete their work, Inspector General of Police Joseph Boinnet said in a statement released Tuesday.

Ali’s wife was reportedly taken into custody in neighboring Uganda, along with another suspected accomplice. Two other medical interns have been identified as suspected co-conspirators and are thought to have gone into hiding.

“The suspects were planning large scale attacks akin to the Westgate Mall attack with the intention of killing innocent Kenyans,” Boinnet said, referring to the 2013 attack by the Somali militant group al-Shabab that claimed at least 67 lives. He added that the terrorist network “has links to” the Islamic State and “planned to unleash a biological attack in Kenya using anthrax.”

He did not name the specific group that was allegedly behind the plot.

Kenya has faced a surge in terrorist attacks since it invaded Somalia in 2011, a move it claimed would help contain the Shabab threat but which provoked a deadly backlash instead. The Somali militant group has since recruited hundreds of Kenyans and vowed to continue pummeling its southern neighbor until the Kenyan military withdraws. There were 45 terrorist attacks in Kenya last year, according to data compiled by the U.K. consultancy Verisk Maplecroft — down from 94 in 2014, but still substantially higher than pre-2011 figures.

Little is known about the Islamic State’s activities in Kenya, but the foiled plot comes less than two months after Kenyan police arrested four people on suspicion of attempting to travel to Libya to join the Islamic State. Authorities say that at least 20 Kenyans have done so already, increasing the possibility that the extremist group could eventually establish a foothold in Kenya. Already, a group calling itself Jahba East Africa has announced itself as an IS affiliate and claims to have operatives in Kenya, Somalia, Tanzania, and UgandaAlready, a group calling itself Jahba East Africa has announced itself as an IS affiliate and claims to have operatives in Kenya, Somalia, Tanzania, and Uganda.

“The numbers cited by the Kenyan authorities remain low, although social media monitoring suggests that there is a considerable level of interest in IS among parts of Kenyan society so the figure is likely to grow over time,” Matt Bryden, an expert on extremism and the former head of the U.N. Monitoring Group on Somalia and Eritrea, told the Associated Press. “While Kenya is right to be concerned, youths from dozens of countries have travelled to join IS and there is no indication that Kenya is being especially targeted by the group.”

But the Islamic State has undoubtedly targeted Africa more broadly as a potential growth area. The continent has featured prominently in the group’s propaganda, including on the cover of its monthly magazine, Dabiq, which blared “Shari’ah Alone Will Rule Africa” in March of last year. That was the month the group solidified its alliance with Nigeria-based Boko Haram, adding to the Islamic State franchises in Libya, Egypt, and Tunisia. (In Algeria, an al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb splinter group briefly pledged loyalty to the Islamic State as well.)

But in East Africa, the Islamic State has struggled to make much headway. Last year, it dispatched an emissary to Somalia to urge al-Shabab’s emir to abandon the group’s longstanding alliance with al Qaeda. It has also repeatedly called on Somali “mujahideen” to join its ranks. But al-Shabab’s top leadership resisted the Islamic State’s entreaties and reportedly purged pro-IS fighters from its ranks. So far, only a few minor factions of the Somali militant group have switched their allegiance.

“The Islamic State has failed to win over any notable al-Shabab commanders,” said Stig Jarle Hansen, a Norwegian researcher who is working on a book about the spread of Islamist groups in Africa. “It seems that train really has gone because they have killed most of the IS sympathizers.”

Bronwyn Bruton, the deputy director of the Africa Center at the Washington, D.C.-based Atlantic Council, was more optimistic about the Islamic State’s future prospects in Somalia. “These relationships are fluid and not all that meaningful from an operational standpoint,” she said. “In the past, Somali fighters switched allegiances, from the Union of Islamic Courts to al-Shabab to clan militias to government and back again, depending on who was paying them that dayIn the past, Somali fighters switched allegiances, from the Union of Islamic Courts to al-Shabab to clan militias to government and back again, depending on who was paying them that day. The top leadership may be ideologically invested in al-Qaeda, but the interest in forging alliances has historically stemmed mainly from a desire to get resources and cash. It may be that IS one day offers them a better deal.”

Regardless of whether or not Somalia will ultimately prove to be a dead end for the Islamic State, the group’s failure so far to plant its flag there may be fueling its drive to establish a presence in neighboring Kenya, where it enjoys considerable popular support but little in the way of organizational capacity.

Hansen described al Qaeda’s continued dominance in Somalia as its “first heavy victory” over the Islamic State and a “symbolic” blow to the group. “The Question is whether IS can rebound in East Africa,” he said.

But both analysts cautioned against reading too much into the Kenyan government’s claims about the planned biological attack. Human rights advocates have alleged that some of the suspected terrorists had previously been taken into custody, and that the plot was concocted after the fact in order to hide their disappearance. Such claims are hardly beyond the pale in a country were security services stand accused of routinely executing and disappearing suspected Islamic terrorists.

“It could be a part of a strategy of the Islamic State in Somalia and East Africa to get more attention and to compete with Shabab,” said Hansen. “But it could also be something that the Kenyan police have made up.”

foreignpolicy.com/2016/05/04/foiled-kenya-anthrax-plot-hints-at-islamic-states-scramble-for-africa/

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Making sense of Nigeria's Fulani-farmer conflict

MAY 5, 2016

After a spate of deadly attacks in Nigeria this year blamed on ethnic Fulani cattle herders, the president has ordered a military crackdown on the group.

But the issue is not new - clashes between different groups of Fulani herders and farmers have killed thousands of people in Nigeria over the past two decades.

In 2014, more than 1,200 people lost their lives, according to the most recent Global Terrorism Index. This made the Fulanis the world's fourth deadliest militant group, the report said.

February's massacre of some 300 people in central Benue state and last month's raid in southern Enugu state, where more than 40 were killed, caused outrage across Nigeria. Properties were destroyed and thousands of people forced to flee their homes.

This led to growing anti-Fulani sentiment in some parts of the country with the hashtag #fulaniherdsmen trending on social media.

President Muhammadu Buhari, himself a Fulani, has responded to the public outcry and ordered the security forces to crack down on the cattle raiders.

But the issue is much more complicated than this.

They are believed to be the largest semi-nomadic group in the world and are found across West and Central Africa - from Senegal to the Central African Republic

In Nigeria, some continue to live as semi-nomadic herders, while other have moved to cities

Unlike the more integrated city dwellers, the nomadic groups spend most of their lives in the bush and are the ones largely involved in these clashes

They herd their animals across vast areas, frequently clashing with farming communities

They are often linked with another group, the Hausas, having lived together for a very long time. Some refer to the Hausa-Fulanis but they are different groups

The Fulanis played a key role in 19th Century revival of Islam in Nigeria

What is the fighting about?

Disagreements over the use of essential resources such as farmland, grazing areas and water between herders and local farmers are said to be the major source of the fighting.

Fulani herders can travel hundreds of miles in large numbers with their cattle in search of pasture. They are often armed with weapons to protect their livestock.

They frequently clash with farmers who consistently accuse them of damaging their crops and failing to control their animals.

The Fulanis respond that they are being attacked by gangs from farming communities who try to steal their cattle and they are just defending themselves.

The clashes used to be confined to Nigeria's central region, with the mainly Christian Berom farming community in Plateau state engaging in tit-for-tat killings with Muslim nomadic herders.

But the continued effect of climate change on grazing lands has pushed the Fulani herdsmen further forward south in search of grass and water.

This has widened the scope of the conflict with deadly incidents being increasingly reported in southern parts of the country, raising fears that the violence could threaten the fragile unity that exists among Nigeria's diverse ethnic groups.

Why is the conflict so vicious and complicated?

Apart from clashes with farmers, there have been allegations that some Fulanis have been involved in armed robbery, rape and communal violence especially in central and northern part of the country. Similar accusations have also been made against them in Ghana and Ivory Coast.

Their association with the Hausa ethnic group and their nomadic nature has also made them vulnerable to attack, and they have been caught up in ethnic clashes not of their making.

Much of the violence in central Nigeria dates back to the 2002 and 2004 clashes in the Yelwa-Shendam area of Plateau state in which thousands lost their lives.

This saw ethnic, political, economic and religious tensions overlap and the consequences are still seen with deep distrust between mainly Muslim Fulani herders and mostly Christian farming communities, who see the Hausa-Fulanis as outsiders trying to take their land.

The Fulanis are also sometimes attacked and have their animals stolen by bandits, prompting brutal reprisals. This is not unique to central Nigeria but the country as a whole.

Police recently announced the arrest of several suspected Fulani militants armed with "dangerous weapons" outside the capital, Abuja. The men say they were on their way to recover their stolen cattle.

Fulani associations have consistently denied any links to militants, saying they are being blamed for crimes committed by others.

"It is not fair to blame us for every incident because in most cases we are the victims," Sa'idu Baso, a senior Fulani leader in eastern Nigeria, told the BBC.

"Nigerian authorities need to do more to protect our people and their cattle," he added.

Where do the weapons come from?

The deadly nature of the violence has left many people wondering about the source of the arms being used to carry out the atrocities.

The most common weapon used in these types of conflict is the AK47 assault rifle, Abubakar Tsav, a former federal police commissioner, told the BBC.

He says that the conflict in Libya and Mali has increased the proliferation of small and large arms into the country because Nigeria's porous borders are uncontrollable.

"Some people are exchanging stolen crude oil for arms and these are being easily shipped through our sea ports."

How serious is the conflict?

The conflict has cost Africa's largest economy more than $14bn (£10bn) in the three years to 2015, according to the UK-based humanitarian organisation, Mercy Corps.

It has "impeded market development and economic growth by destroying productive assets, preventing trade, deterring investment, and eroding trust between markets actors," it added in a report last July.

The recent upsurge also represents a fresh security challenge for a country already stretched by the seven-year Boko Haram insurgency in its north-eastern region.

Unlike that crisis which is concentrated on a fraction of the country, this conflict is occurring in almost every part of Africa's most populous nation.

The UN says it is worried by the "complete impunity enjoyed so far by perpetrators of previous attacks", and called on the government to do more to protect its citizens.

Reports in the local media say MPs are working on a law that will establish grazing areas across the country to douse the tension between the rival groups.

But the move has proved unpopular with many, especially in the south.

"The Fulani herdsman is running a business with his cows, why should we have to give up our lands for his interests," one man said on Twitter.

However, it is difficult to generalise anything related to the Fulanis because in most cases, these nomadic herdsmen don't even know each other and carry out their activities independently.

There is certainly no evidence that Fulani groups have a single political goal.

So in many ways it is inaccurate to describe them as a single militant group.

This makes it difficult for the authorities to come up with any sustainable plan to end the crisis.

bbc.com/news/world-africa-36139388

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Islamic State Growing in Somalia

May 05, 2016

Pro-Islamic State Somali militants have grown in numbers and are receiving financial and military support from Yemen, a top intelligence official told the VOA Somali Service.

Abdi Hassan Hussein, the former Director of the U.S.-backed Puntland Intelligence Agency (PIA) said when the pro-IS Somali faction was founded in October last year it had about 20-30 men, but has since set up training camps and recruited more fighters. He said the group’s fighters now number between 100-150 fighters. "They have graduated their first units and they have received their military supplies,” he said.

Hussein led PIA until a year ago when he was replaced. His main job was to detect militant threats and plan counter-terrorism operations.

He said Islamic State has welcomed its Somalia branch and has started delivering supplies through their affiliate faction in Yemen.

“They received military supplies from Yemen – weapons, uniform, ISIS sent trainers who inspected their bases, and they have started sending financial support,” he said. “The weapons’ shipment was delivered by sea from Mukallah city in Hadramouth, it has arrived from the Red Sea coast of Somalia in February and March this year.”

Hussein pointed to a recent video posted by the group that he said shows the group received new uniforms. He said there is also evidence that the group has received financial support from Islamic State. “Evidence of financial support can be seen in the area; they are buying supplies, they are buying vehicles, they bought livestock, they invested in the community by delivering water supplies to nearby community affected by the drought,” he said.

Hussein said reports he has received indicate administrations in Somalia have underestimated the threat of the pro-IS group led by former al-Shabab cleric Abdulkadir Mumin. He criticized the Somali government and regional administrations for not taking the threat seriously. He said Islamic State will pose tougher challenge than al-Shabab. “Daesh is more dangerous than al-Shabab. They are known for committing large scale destruction. They have more finance. They have more impact. They declared to start attacks within Somalia, and they readied units to carry out attacks.”

He said the faction now has a base in Al Bari Mountains in Puntland, where it gives training and has erected a flag used by Islamic State militants.  He said the base also provides logistics, and has cemented connections with Yemen.

He said opportunity was missed to neutralize the group at early stage. “It would have been better to destroy them when they were 20 or 30 men, before they adapted to the environment; but now the terrorists got used to the climate, they secured access to water wells, routes, and hiding places, “ he said. “Now to defeat them would require the same resources and effort that was placed against al-Shabab.”

The Somali military this week said they destroyed a training camp by pro-IS Somali and foreign militants in Jannaale town area, about 120 kilometers south of the Somali capital, Mogadishu. It followed after Islamic State for the first time claimed credit for an attack against African Union forces just outside Mogadishu last month.

Hussein said the government and African Union troops can’t win against al-Shabab or IS factions militarily, and urged them to confront the groups ideologically. “The youth they are sending are assets, but misguided; they need to be saved from harming the people and harming themselves,” he said.

“They need to be confronted ideologically, they need to be shown different ideology, given an opportunity to leave the group, given protection against prosecution from the government and retaliatory attacks from Al-Shabab if they decide to leave group. We need to create opportunities for the youth,” Hussein said.

voanews.com/content/intelligence-official-islamic-state-growing-in-somalia/3316326.html

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Pakistan

SC orders govt to implement 2007 Lal Masjid judgment

May/05/2016

ISLAMABAD: Nine years have slipped away, but the bloody events of the 2007 Lal Masjid standoff have refused to recede. Describing the perceived lack of implementation on the part of the government as an “enigma”, the Supreme Court on Wednesday ordered the government to explain what steps it has taken to comply with its Oct 2, 2007 judgment.

“Now, the procrastination needs to end,” said Justice Ejaz Afzal Khan, while heading a two judge Supreme Court bench. The court has taken up a set of petitions against killings on the premises of Lal Masjid and Jamia Hafsa during the July 2007 military operation.

The Lal Masjid conflict began when students from Jamia Hafsa occupied the adjacent Children’s Library on Jan 22, 2007, in response to the razing of seven ‘unauthorised’ mosques by the city’s administration.

The confrontation escalated in the following month, erupting into armed clashes resulting in the death of a Rangers official on July 3, 2007 by gunfire from the mosque. The army was called in the same night, and special forces stormed the mosque after the suspension of water and electricity supply failed to subdue the alleged militants within the mosque.

On Wednesday, the court asked the government to submit an implementation report, after Advocate Tariq Asad – representing the petitioners – argued that the government failed to reply to any of the court’s directions in its earlier judgment, adding that the government’s response that it failed to gather any evidence to prove claims of the desecration of the Holy Quran was incorrect.

Govt ordered to submit implementation report within one week

These petitions were filed in 2007 as well as in 2010 by a number of aggrieved individuals.

The court ordered Deputy Attorney General (DAG) Sohail Mehmood to submit a complete record of the government’s investigation into the allegations of the defiling of the Holy Quran during the operation.

“If an order is passed by this court then it has to be complied with,” the court observed, adding that the matter cannot be swept under the carpet or hushed up with flimsy arguments, or deferred on one pretext or the other.

Expressing dissatisfaction with the government’s response, Justice Khan said: “What has been done in pursuance of its order is still an enigma, and even [a] riddle.”

Referring to its October 2007 judgment, the court told the DAG it did not believe that any of the questions raised in the earlier judgment were answered in direct terms.

Authored by retired Justice Mohammad Nawaz Abbasi, the judgment had required the Islamabad police to verify the antecedents of innocent individuals killed in the Lal Masjid incident, and to record statements of their legal heirs to determine their entitlement for compensation in the form of diyat, or blood money.

The order also required the Islamabad sessions judge to make compensation payments to the legal heirs of those victims who were determined to have been innocent.

The judgment stated that the process for the payment of compensation should have been completed within two months.

The judgment also ordered the Capital Development Authority (CDA) to consider the construction of a hostel with a girls’ seminary, in addition to a research centre. It stated that the total area in the use of Jamia Hafsa, subject to all just exceptions, be treated as part of the institutions and research centre for religious education. It said efforts should be made to complete this construction within a year.

The 2007 order had also asked the government to accommodate the students of Jamia Hafsa who were displaced by the incident, thereby discontinuing their studies. In the event that the government did not provide such a site, the order said the students should be accommodated in a separate wing of the Jamia Fareedia building so their classes could begin no later than Oct 30, 2007.

The order also said Umme Hassan would act as principal, while the government would bear girl students’ education expenses – which included books, meals, board and lodging – in addition to teachers’ salaries.

The court had appointed Maulana Abdul Ghaffar as the imam of Lal Masjid on a temporary basis. It also asked the government to make arrangements to treat a 13 year old boy who was paralysed following his injuries. According to Mr Asad, the boy died due to a lack of medical attention. The government’s implementation report must be submitted within a week.

dawn.com/news/1256404/sc-orders-govt-to-implement-2007-lal-masjid-judgment

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Capital on ‘high alert’ following security threat

May/05/2016

ISLAMABAD: The capital was on ‘high alert’ on Wednesday following a possible terrorist threat to the city, with the Red Zone declared a prime target.

‘High alert’ was declared following an alert issued by security agencies that militants may target sensitive locations in the Red Zone, particularly two hotels. One of these hotels houses a business centre within which UN and foreign embassies’ offices operate.

Officials said they were informed that in addition to the Red Zone, there may also be an attack on an educational institute. They were told that militants may target educational institutes – particularly universities – to attract the attention of law enforcement and security agencies, and then follow with an attack within the Red Zone.

Educational institutions searched, security heightened after threat to universities, Red Zone

In response, security around the capital was heightened and a number of checkpoints were installed on various roads. Educational institutions were searched, and some were also vacated. A contingent of police and Rangers was deployed in and around the institutes.

Some of the institutes were partially sealed, and students, staff and faculty members were denied entry.

An official said, on condition of anonymity, that the state of ‘high alert’ would continue, but a timeframe cannot be given in this regard.

Educational activities suspended

Educational activities were suspended at the Quaid-i-Azam University (QAU) due to the security threat, while law enforcement agencies conducted a detailed search of the university.

Security at various universities, including Allama Iqbal Open University (AIOU), National University of Science and Technology (Nust) and National University of Modern Languages (Numl), was also heightened.

Sources at QAU told Dawn that police and Ranger personnel conducted a search operation in the QAU hostels and the university’s adjoining areas, including nearby villages, at midnight on Tuesday. The university bus service was suspended on the recommendation of security agencies.

The university entrance was also blocked by the police for anyone other than university employees, who were only allowed to enter after providing identification. The AIOU administration also did not run its bus service.

Sources said police recently met with the heads of various education institutions regarding a new security threat. QAU, Nust and AIOU were directed to heighten their security arrangements, and police and Rangers also searched some buildings in these universities.

The AIOU vice chancellor, Dr Shahid Siddiqui, told Dawn they did not run their bus service on Wednesday on advice from law enforcement personnel. A Nust official said security at the university is also on ‘high alert’ both within and outside the campus. The official said security was heightened, but educational activities were not suspended.

QAU Academic Staff Association (ASA) president Dr Asif Ali told Dawn that educational activities were suspended throughout the day. He said the university has faced many threats, but does not even have a proper boundary wall due to encroachments on the varsity’s land.

dawn.com/news/1256408/capital-on-high-alert-following-security-threat

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Pakistani Hindu refugees are waiting for India to accept them

May/05/2016

Fourteen-year-old Dharampal is a fan of Heropanti star Tiger Shroff and he wants to become an engineer. There’s a serious roadblock that dream is facing though. “Our teachers say that the  government had given orders to teach us only till standard eight,” Dharampal. Earlier this year, at the start of the new session, he and his friends were told to stop attending the government school where they were studying. Why? Because Dharampal’s only ID is a Pakistani passport.

All this, though, could change soon. According the Ministry of Home Affairs notification, the Centre is considering simplifying the procedures of granting citizenship to religious minorities from Pakistan living on Long Term Visa in India. This would mean providing them basic rights of citizenship by issuing Aadhar cards, PAN cards, and allowing them to buy property.

Dharampal lives in the Pakistani Hindu refugee resettlement colony, near the Majnu Ka Tilla gurudwara. The area is famous as the address of  one of the most vibrant Tibetan re-settlements in India and is now home to 120 Hindu families from Pakistan too. The Tibetan colony, called Aruna Nagar (I&II) is organised, has electricity and water connections, markets, and a monastery. Its residents have identity certificates, issued by the Delhi-based Bureau of His Holiness Dalai Lama, and those born between 1950-87 are also eligible for Indian citizenship.

In contrast is the Pakistani-Hindu refugee colony, 500 meters away from Aruna Nagar. Over 700 people live here, in reed and bamboo huts, with tarpaulin sheets providing water-proofing to those who can afford it.  They’re fragile dwellings, pieced together with bamboo, twigs and branches. Other Pakistani Hindu refugees settlements are scattered across Delhi NCR, in Adarsh Nagar, Rohini Sector 11 and Faridabad. The one in Majnu ka Tilla settlement was set up in 2011, when the first group of Hindu families from Pakistan crossed the border.

The Pakistani-Hindu refugees have been coming to India in waves across 2011, 2013, 2014 and 2015. All the residents of the Majnu ka Tilla colony belong to the warrior Rajput community and strictly follow the caste system.

Life in Pakistan was fraught with insecurities for this community. For Bhagwanti Devi, Majnu ka Tilla offers her a safer home than her pucca house on a one-acre plot in Hyderabad, Pakistan. She said she was forced to abandon it because of the constant fear and humiliation that she faced. For Hindus living in Pakistan, experiences like the abduction of Hindu girls and forced conversation have made them feel more vulnerable than ever before.

Speaking about being a Hindu in Pakistan compared to being a Muslim in India, both Daya Ram and Laxman, now residents of Majnu ka Tilla, said that there’s greater respect for minorities in India. “In India, Muslims are treated with much respect, they are given fair opportunity and have representation in government jobs,” said Daya Ram. “You hardly find Hindus in the Pakistani establishment.” He said that they were “treated like untouchables” in Pakistan and were abused whenever the Indian cricket team defeated Pakistan’s team. When asked which country’s cricket team they’d support in an India-Pakistan contest, Daya exclaimed, “India!”

The transition from their lives in Pakistan to this refugee existence in India has been riddled with hardship. According to Sona Das, one of the seven pradhan (leaders) of the Hindu refugee settlement at Majnu Ka Tilla, the first group reached Delhi  in 2011. “Humara 152 logon ka jatta baba ke dere par aa ke ruke the,” he said.  (“Our group of 152 arrived at  the baba’s door.) Initially, they lived in tents and jhuggis made of tarpaulin sheets. “We shifted to this place only 15 months back,” said the father of five sons and one daughter.

“The police kept pushing us for first 30 days,” said Laxman Das, who now works as a trader in Azadpur Mandi, the largest fruit and vegetable wholesale market in Delhi. “We were under constant pressure to vacate this place. A few Sindhi traders helped me to get this job at Azadpur Mandi.” Like him, most of Pakistan’s Hindu refugees are from the Sindh province.

Laxman had to wait three years to get a VISA for his entire family (over 20 members).  The reason cited in the VISA application was pilgrimage, but the intention was clear: the Hindus of Pakistan were coming home.

“The moment we left Pakistan, we had already accepted India as our homeland,” said Sona. “Now it is up to the Indian establishment whether they want to accept us or not. He said that Pakistan denied them “the honour of serving the nation.” Now he hopes to serve the country, “let us and our generations do something for this country.”

Sona said the Pakistani Hindu community was thankful to groups like the Vishwa Hindu Parishad and Hindu Mahasabha which stood with them when the Centre was planning to send them back in 2011. They got food rations and other aid from these organisations. But over time, the interest of these groups has waned.

The refugees say they don’t want charity, but they’d like Indian citizenship and identity cards, which they hope will remove the hurdles they face in India today. “We don’t want to beg, we are hard working people and know how to earn our bread,” said Das adding that many of them were educated and were well-settled in Pakistan. Laxman claimed  that he used to earn commissions as high as 50,000 Pakistani Rupees and now earns Rs 300-400 (INR) daily. Without identification that declares them Indian, the refugees end up doing odd jobs, like selling mobile covers.

The worst hit are the children since their schooling comes to a halt as early as Class Nine. Teenagers like Dharampal and Mahesh have abruptly had to stop their studies. Without identification papers, these children cannot continue their education. They’re left with little to do and just roam around the settlement area. “Our main concern is education, job and electricity,” said Daya Ram.

Bhagwanti, who came to India with her husband and two children, said, “The Indian government has not  done anything for Hindus. No ration, no electricity and no job.” (By Hindus, she means the Pakistani refugees.) The  families have been struggling to beat the Delhi heat, and electricity is a luxury. A generator set has been installed by the government and it supplies  electricity between 7pm and 1am. The residents schedule their studies, cooking and television watching are accordingly. This generator was installed after the residents  approached different political leaders.

The water situation is better since it is available round the clock. “We met [Delhi Chief Minister Arvind] Kejriwal,” said Das. “After the meeting, a permanent tap was installed, replacing the limited supply by Delhi Jal Board tankers. He also said that Delhi government had placed couple of mobile toilets for the residents.  The only problem is that there is one single tap for 120 families.

Representatives of the refugee community have met many senior political leaders like LK Advani and Home Minister Rajnath Singh, who assured them of a permanent solution. Nothing has happened so far and although they’ve left persecution behind, their expectations from the “Hindu-majority state” are yet to be met. Das, however, remains hopeful, especially since he says they’ve found a hero. “Modi is lion of India,” he said. “He is working for Hindus. Our blessings are with him.”

newslaundry.com/2016/05/05/pakistani-hindu-refugees-are-waiting-for-india-to-accept-them/

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Two accused in PTI minority MPA murder confess to crime

May/05/2016

PESHAWAR: Two people arrested in connection with the assassination of Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) minority MPA Soran Singh confessed to the murder in court on Thursday.

MPA Sardar Soran Singh, special assistant to Khyber Pakhtunkhwa chief minister on minorities’ affairs, was gunned down in a targeted attack near Pir Baba, Buner district, on April 25. Six people had been arrested for killing Singh over what Malakand police said was a political rivalry.

Deputy Inspector General (DIG) Malakand Azad Khan claimed that a fellow PTI leader Baldev Kumar was behind the murder of Soran Singh. "Baldev Kumar wanted to contest the election instead of Singh... after failing to get the party ticket, Kumar planned the murder," the DIG said earlier.

After a ten-day physical remand, the six accused were presented in a district and sessions court today, where two accused, Tehsil Nazim Muhammad Alam and Behroz, confessed to the murder of Singh. The others accused denied involvement in the crime.

Sessions Judge Asadullah sent the culprits to jail on judicial remand.

Soran Singh belonged to the Sikh community and joined Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf in 2011 after being associated with Jamaat-i-Islami. He held one of several seats reserved for religious minorities in the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa provincial assembly.

dawn.com/news/1256458/two-accused-in-pti-minority-mpa-murder-confess-to-crime

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Three suspects, LEA official killed in clash near Taxila

May/05/2016

TAXILA: Two men and a woman belonging to a banned sectarian organisation and a member of a law enforcement agency were killed in a clash in Pind Ghakhara village, about 6km from here, on Wednesday.

Police sources said that acting on a tip-off that some suspects were hiding in the village, a joint team of the law enforcement agency and the counterterrorism department raided a house, but suspects opened fire on them.

Police retaliated and shot dead the suspects — Javaid, his wife Naheeda Bibi and son Ahmed — and took into custody another suspect Mohammed Usman.

One law enforcement official, identified as Sarfaraz, lost his life, while two other people, including a security man, were injured in the clash.

Later, police and law enforcement agencies launched a search operation in the area.

When contacted, police Inspector Basheer Khan said the deceased were under watch because they were believed to be associated with a banned outfit.

He said Javiad’s brother Sadeeq Khan, who is UC Nazim, was put under Fourth Schedule of the anti-terror law due to his alleged links with the banned religious organisation.

Javaid, son of Abdul Ghani, worked in a government organisation in Taxila and according to reports he had visited Afghanistan twice.

Mr Khan said one Kalashnikov and a pistol were found at the house.

Police registered a case under Sections 302, 324 and 34 of the Pakistan Penal Code and the Anti-Terrorism Act.

dawn.com/news/1256351/three-suspects-lea-official-killed-in-clash-near-taxila

 

URL: http://newageislam.com/islamic-world-news/new-age-islam-news-bureau/no-alarming-situation-over-islamic-state-yet,-says-govt-of-india/d/107205

 

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