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Islamic World News ( 17 Dec 2009, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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No proof of Indian role: Baloch leader Hasil Bizenjo

New EU foreign policy chief lambastes 'Israeli occupation'

Mumbai’s Roshan Jamal gets 8 years for terror in Spain

‘At least one terror attack in India has been prevented with German inputs’

Around 700 terrorists in J&K: Govt

Pak court throws out amnesty for Zardari

Islamic militant held at Philippines airport

US helping, no comment on Headley’s status: Govt

Indian Consulate denies Headley, Rana visa papers 'missing'

Pak officers working with jihadis, Headley confirms to FBI

Pakistan party demands Zardari resignation

Pak snubs US over ops order

Zardari resists US timeline for fighting militants in tribal areas

Surge Focus in Afghanistan Is Roads, Police

In Somalia, jihad is only half the fight

France considering burqa ban

Muslim Woman Gets £1,000 In Damages After Veil Pulled Off

Insanity defence may not work Crazy for jihad

New rules of engagement ignore reality of jihad

Yemen 'foils al-Qaeda plot' killing 34

Malaysia’s Islamists Supports Catholics on Allah Right

J-K pre-paid ban: Service providers on the line

‘Christianity in UK faces sharp decline’

AIIMS docs land in Shopian cauldron

Rahul Bhatt quizzed by NIA officials; more rounds to go

Iran test-fires missile amid N-tension

Warrant for Livni hits UK’s ties with Israel

One too many personas

 Multi-religions under one roof

The Fascination of Israel

Study: European Muslims Feel Shut Out

Malik claims 80% success in anti-terror war

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau

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France considering burqa ban

PARIS, Dec. 16 (UPI) -- The governing French conservative party plans to introduce a law banning the burqa or full-face Muslim veil, its legislative leader said Wednesday.

Jean-Francois Cope, parliamentary leader of the Union for a Popular Movement announced his intentions in an article in Le Figaro, the leading conservative newspaper, Radio France Internationale reported.

"The issue is not how many women wear the burqa," Cope said. "There are principles at stake: extremists are putting the republic to the test by promoting a practice that they know is contrary to the basic principles of our country."

The burqa, which conceals a woman's body except for the eyes and hands, is rarely seen in France. One intelligence report put the number of wearers at about 400, while the Interior Ministry estimate is a few thousand.

President Nicolas Sarkozy launched a national discussion last month of French identity.


New EU foreign policy chief lambastes 'Israeli occupation'

By Akiva Eldar, Haaretz


Catherine Ashton on Tuesday leveled scathing criticism at the "Israeli occupation," in her first speech as the European Union's first high representative for foreign affairs and security policy.

The British stateswoman, who has also served as the Commissioner for Trade in the European Commission, said that in the EU's view, "East Jerusalem is occupied territory, together with the West Bank."

Ashton demanded that Israel immediately lift its blockade on the Gaza Strip, and reiterated that the union opposes the existence of the West Bank separation fence, as it opposes evictions of Palestinians from their homes in East Jerusalem.

The stateswoman, whose full title is Baroness Ashton of Upholland, also only defined Israel's partial freeze of West Bank settlement construction as a "first step," as opposed to the warmer description of the move by EU foreign ministers, who last week took "positive note" of it.

In her address to MEPs in Strasbourg, Ashton, who was only recently appointed to the new position, said she had spoken with Israelis, Palestinians and the U.S. Secretary of State about the role the Quartet of international mediators, and that of its special envoy to the region, Tony Blair.

Ashton said she had told Blair personally that, "The Quartet [a special group set up by the U.S., EU, UN and Russia] must demonstrate that it is worth the money, that it is capable of being reinvigorated."

Following her comments, a number of MEPs from the Liberal side of the house called for punitive measures against Israel, including the suspension of the EU's Association Agreement. Irish centre-left member Proinsias De Rossa, who visited the West Bank last week, called Israel's treatment of Palestinians a form of "apartheid."

This time it was neither the "infamous" Swedish president who pulled the EU toward an anti-Israel resolution, nor a "daydreaming judge" in Britain who issued an arrest warrant against an Israeli foreign minister. Criticism of Israel has become the language of choice in European discourse.

When the Israeli government offers new benefits to settlers, and peace talks with the Palestinians are deadlocked, even the superpower's long arm is helpless. Even former U.S. ambassador to Israel Martin Indyk, a devout Jew who serves as an external advisor to U.S. President Barack Obama, does not hide his chagrin with the settlements policy.

Indyk has recently told Haaretz in an interview that statements by figures like Minister without Portfolio Benny Begin, according to which settlement construction will continue despite the moratorium, are damaging to Israel's interests. He said these comments, as well as the decision to pump funds into isolated settlements, strengthen the impression that the declaration of the freeze is not worth the paper it is written on. He warned that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will pay a political price for the move, without gaining the benefits which it was intended to grant Israel in the international arena.

The interview with Indyk will be published in Haaretz's Sunday edition.


Muslim Woman Gets £1,000 In Damages After Veil Pulled Off

December 16, 2009

A Muslim woman who was assaulted and had her veil removed by a stranger has seen her attacker being forced to pay her £1,000 in damages.

The assailant, Stephen Ard, also received a 16-week prison sentence, which was suspended for a 12 month, after pleading guilty to a charge of aggravated assault. Ard was also given community service which he must perform for a total of 150 hours.

The Leicester court heard how the Muslim victim, Rehana Sidat, had felt “invaded” following the assault and still remains afraid to go about by herself on the streets.

She has been wearing a niqab for 15 years,

Hailing from Leicester, Ard wrote a letter in which he apologised to the court and even said that his behaviour had left him feeling ashamed and embarrassed.

Magistrates were informed that at the time of the incident in October, twenty-nine-year-old Stephen Ard had drank too much.

Ms Sidat said her assailant had caused emotional and psychological pain.

At the time of the attack, she was walking the streets and heading to her place of employment at a drop-in centre for individuals with learning difficulties.

Ms Sidat said Ard suddenly took off her veil saying to her to “get that off.” She said he looked angry and the situation was simply quite shocking.

She said that Ard subsequently walked away after which she asked him how he dared to do such a thing. Ard, allegedly, answered that he did dare.

In court, Ms Sidat added she was born here and loved Britain and that she just expected to be treated like all other people.


Mumbai’s Roshan Jamal gets 8 years for terror in Spain

Sagnik Chowdhury

Dec 17, 2009

Mumbai : Mumbai resident Roshan Jamal Khan has been convicted along with 10 Pakistani men by an anti-terrorism court in Spain for “belonging to a terrorist group” that planned to bomb the Barcelona Metro. Khan, who has been in Spanish prisons for close to two years, has been sentenced to jail for eight and a half years.

Speaking to The Indian Express from Barcelona, Khan’s brother-in-law Amanullah Khan said: “Roshan Khan is innocent and we will definitely challenge the court’s order. We have been given 15 days time to file our appeal.”

In Mumbai, Khan’s family has been anxiously awaiting word from Spain. Said his brother Mehboob: “I am waiting to hear from my brother’s lawyer.”

Khan is one of 14 Muslim men picked up by Spanish authorities from a mosque in Barcelona on January 19 last year in connection with an alleged plot to carry out attacks in that city. Four of them, including another Indian, were released later, while another suspect was detained in the Netherlands subsequently. Khan, who was being held along with nine Pakistanis, was in Spain to explore business opportunities, his family said.

The Spanish court on Monday convicted all 11 men in connection with a plot to carry out suicide bombings and delivered prison sentences ranging from eight to 14 years. According to Spanish media reports, the court ruled that the prisoners planned to carry out a violent attack using explosives against the Barcelona metro.

Shahid Iqbal, a Pakistani with family ties in Pune, as reported earlier by The Indian Express, received 14 years and six months along with Qadeer Malik, for belonging to a terror group and for possession of weapons. Maroof Ahmed Mirza, who was identified by the court as the leader of the group, was given a term of 10 and a half years for belonging to a terrorist group, while the others received terms of eight-and-a-half years each.

The court said the group was inspired by Taliban leader Baitullah Mehsud and cited an online video interview with the spokesperson of the Tehrik-e-Taliban claiming the outfit had planned the Barcelona attacks in retaliation to Spanish troops being deployed in Afghanistan.

Khan’s family — his wife, four sons and two daughters live in Jogeshwari — had urged the Prime Minister, the External Affairs Ministry and the Spanish Consulate-General to intervene.


Around 700 terrorists in J&K: Govt

16 December 2009

NEW DELHI: An estimated 700 terrorists are operating in Jammu and Kashmir with logistical support from across the border, government said on Wednesday.

"The number of militants in the valley is estimated to be around 700. Inputs suggest that they are provided every type of assistance, including money and material from across the border," minister of state for home affairs Ajay Maken told Rajya Sabha in a written reply.


Study: European Muslims Feel Shut Out

By Leo Cendrowicz / Brussels

The recent Swiss referendum vote to ban the building of minarets seemed to confirm a trend: Europeans are becoming increasingly strident in their attempts to "protect" their culture against Islam. However, a newly published report by the Open Society Institute (OSI), a think tank set up by billionaire financier and philanthropist George Soros, details the complex relationship between Muslims and non-Muslim Europeans and reveals that the suspicion is mutual. Muslims believe they are being shut out of European society.

About 20 million Muslims live in the European Union, mostly in capital cities and large industrial towns; they already make up 25% of the population in Marseilles, France, and Rotterdam in the Netherlands; 20% in Malmö, Sweden; 15% in Brussels and Birmingham, England; and 10% in London, Paris and Copenhagen. The report, published on Dec. 15, surveyed Muslims in 11 cities across the E.U. and found that 55% of respondents believed religious discrimination had risen in the past five years. And while many Muslims are a long-standing and integral part of the fabric of their cities, the report says they are still almost three times more likely to be unemployed than non-Muslims. But far from seeking out Islamic ghettos, many Muslim families appear desperately keen to integrate. "A lot of Muslims — especially parents — were sad they could not live in mixed neighborhoods, where they could experience diversity," says Tufyal Choudhury, lead author of the report. (See pictures of Islam's soft revolution.)

The findings echo earlier research revealing hostility toward Muslims and other minority groups. The Fundamental Rights Agency report, released on Dec. 9, surveyed more than 23,000 individuals from ethnic minority and immigrant groups about their experiences of discrimination, racist crime and policing in the E.U. Minorities commonly face discrimination while looking for a job, shopping or visiting the doctor, according to the report, which labeled as "shocking" the racist, anti-immigrant and Islamophobic experiences of minorities as they go about their daily lives. A 2004 study by Sorbonne sociologist Jean-François Amadieu found that a standard résumé with a Muslim name was five times less likely to elicit an interview than the same résumé with a non-Muslim name.

"We are still at the stage where there are raised suspicions toward Muslims," says Sajjad Karim, a British Muslim member of the European Parliament. "At airports, I quite often get treated differently than my colleagues, even though I hold a British passport." (See the top 10 underreported stories of 2009.)

Full report at:,8816,1948078,00.html


Insanity defense may not work Crazy for jihad

December 17, 2009

Jihadists take note: The insanity defense may not work for you. On Tuesday, Naveed Haq, a self-styled soldier of Islam, was found guilty of aggravated first-degree murder and seven other counts related to a 2006 shooting rampage in Seattle. The prosecution successfully argued that Haq was a jihadi terrorist on a mission for martyrdom; the defense said that just proved he was crazy.

The facts are open and shut. On July 28, 2006, Haq forced his way into the offices of the Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle and opened fire with two semiautomatic pistols, wounding five women and killing campaign director Pamela Waechter. Haq was a methodical killer. When the wounded Ms. Waechter attempted to flee, Haq ran her down and shot her in the head.

Haq explained his jihadist motives in detail after the shooting. He bragged about the killings in prison phone calls to relatives, tapes of which were played during the trial. "I'm proud of what I did," the murderer told his mother Nahida. "I'm a soldier of Islam." He said that she should be proud of him. "I'm a martyr now," he claimed. "I'm going to go to heaven." His mother argued with him that he was sick, that he was not in his right mind. "Yes I am," Haq said. "That's the path I've chosen. ... I did this for a reason. I wanted to be a martyr. I wanted to die on the battlefield."

Haq showed evidence of premeditation. He told police he had planned the attack over several days. He chose the Jewish Federation office as his target to make a statement about U.S. policy in the Middle East. He obtained the pistols specifically to conduct the attack and test fired them to see which was easiest to use. A police officer who pulled Haq over for a traffic violation just prior to the shooting found him calm and collected; he was not someone who simply snapped.

Like many terrorists, Haq was seeking publicity. While holding one of his victims at gunpoint, a pregnant woman he had already wounded, the killer told a 911 dispatcher he wanted to be patched through to CNN to - among other things - demand the U.S. military pull out of Iraq.

Full report at:


Yemen 'foils al-Qaeda plot' killing 34

Arhab, Yemen map

Thirty-four suspected al-Qaeda militants have been killed and 17 arrested by security forces, the Yemeni defence ministry said.

The militants had allegedly been planning multiple suicide attacks, with eight of them preparing explosive vests, Reuters news agency reported.

The operations were carried out in Abyan province in the south and in Arhab, north of the capital Sanaa.

The resurgence of al-Qaeda in Yemen has raised concern in the region.

Officials have indicated that the operations were considered a major success against al-Qaeda.

Hideouts hit

The group was planning a number of suicide attacks against foreign and local targets, they say.

Airforce jets and soldiers hit training camps and hideouts early on Thursday, disrupting plans for attacks on domestic and foreign interests in Yemen, including schools, according to the ministry-linked website

The organisation has carried out frequent attacks in Yemen in recent months, generally against relatively low-level targets in the provinces such as local security officials.

The US concerns about al-Qaeda in Yemen stem partly from the fact that the government in Sanaa has so many other security issues to worry about, says the BBC's Owen Bennett-Jones in Sanaa.

They include a civil war in the north of the country, and frequent armed pro-independence protests in the south.

'Thousands of jihadis'

Yemen has long been an ideal base for jihadists, BBC Middle East analyst Roger Hardy says.

It is not just the ancestral home of the al-Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden. With its rugged mountains and traditionally weak central authority, it is terrain well suited to militant groups looking for hiding places and training camps.

Large numbers of Yemenis fought Soviet troops in Afghanistan in the 1980s - and today Yemenis comprise the largest group of prisoners still being held by the Americans in Guantanamo Bay.

Last year the Yemeni foreign minister estimated there were over a thousand jihadi fighters in the country.

Full report at:


AIIMS docs land in Shopian cauldron

By Naseer A. Ganai and Aman Sharma in Srinagar and New Delhi

According to Qayoom, by bringing doctors from Delhi, the CBI had violated court orders. The high court had directed that the exhumation and post- mortem of Neelofar’s and Aasiya’s bodies should be conducted under the supervision of the principal of Government Medical College, Srinagar and the team nominated by her.

In its chargesheet, the CBI said findings of the earlier post- mortem examination by the team of Shopian and Pulwama doctors stood negated. The doctors have been arrayed as accused in the case. The case has been listed for February.

The agency claimed Neelofar and Aasiya drowned in Rambi Ara Nallah on May 29 while returning from an apple orchard. It cited a Jammu and Kashmir flood department report and a ‘ walkthrough exercise’ by a female executive magistrate.

The magistrate’s exercise revealed that the shortest route to Neelofar’s house, which involved crossing the Nallah on foot, from the orchard was 28 minutes.

The other routes — by crossing three wooden bridges or by taking the Zawoora Bridge — took 38 minutes and 42 minutes respectively. A witness, Dilshada, said Neelofar and Aasiya had refused tea as they were late and in a hurry to get home.

According to the flood department data for 2008 and 2009, the discharge in the Nullah increased in May for both years.

The CBI chargesheet added that photographs and videos taken a few days after the incident also showed a fast moving stream.

The chargesheet pointed out that Sajad Ahanger, a neighbour of the women, had rushed to the spot when he heard the news. He “ found that the flow of water in the Nallah was high and it was risky to cross it, especially for ladies... If someone had suffered a fall in the Nallah, chances of survival would be remote”.


J-K pre-paid ban: Service providers on the line

Bashaarat Masood

Dec 17, 2009 at 0033 hrs

Srinagar : Behind the ban on pre-paid cellular services in Jammu and Kashmir which affected 38 lakh subscribers — is a story of serious “breach of security guidelines” by cellular service providers. According to the information available with The Indian Express, cellular companies in Kashmir have issued tens of thousands of mobile connections without proper documents and application forms from the subscribers.

Between April and July this year, the enforcement cell of the Department of Telecommunication (DoT) has imposed a penalty of more than Rs 7 crore on the six service providers in the state as they failed to produce the Complete Application Form (CAF) and documents of their subscribers for verification.

The penalty figures for the four months highlight the gravity of the situation. Airtel, which together with Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL), has the largest subscriber base in the state, has paid the maximum penalty of Rs 5,33,40000 followed by BSNL at Rs 1,48,00000. A fine of Rs 24,90,000, 22,00000 and Rs 9,05,000 has been imposed on Vodafone, Aircel and Tata Indicom respectively.

“The service providers, on many occasions, have failed to comply with the guidelines issued by the DoT. We have received a huge amount of penalty from them,” said D R Paul, Deputy Director-General, Telecom Enforcement, Resource and Monitoring (TERM) cell for J-K. “They (service providers) have failed to submit documents of subscribers for verification. Sometimes they failed to provide us with the CAF,” he told The Indian Express.

The TERM cell has been set-up by the Department of Telecommunication to ensure that service providers adhere to license conditions and are mindful of the telecom network security issues.

The TERM Cell was set up in 2007 in J-K and is based in Jammu. The cell is a “technical interface between security agencies and telecom service providers” and verifies customer documents “with the objective to ascertain whether the mobile service operators are following the DoT guidelines for customer verification” before providing connections.

In J-K, the cell seeks the CAF and documents of 500 subscribers from each service provider every month — the subscribers are chosen randomly with 80 per cent from pre-paid mobile customers. The remaining 20 per cent comprise postpaid subscribers. If service providers fail to produce the CAF and documents of these subscribers, they are penalised — from Rs 10,000 to 50,000 — for each discrepancy. “There can be many reasons for the ban on pre-paid cellular services and this is a major reason,” Paul said.

Full report at:


‘At least one terror attack in India has been prevented with German inputs’

Shubhajit Roy

Dec 17, 2009

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The pounds are flying offHow many more?Lets change IndiaSanskrit Festivals

Thomas Matussek, the new German ambassador to India, is an old India hand who was stationed in New Delhi between 1983 and 1986. The 62-year-old career diplomat, who joined the Federal foreign office in 1975 after teaching law at the University of Bonn, was the German envoy to the UN for the last three years, before he came to New Delhi. An accomplished diplomat, he spoke to Shubhajit Roy in an exclusive interview on a wide range of issues. Here are the excerpts:

You were posted in New Delhi in the early ‘80s, and you are back here as the ambassador. What has changed since, and how do you look at Indo-German relations in the present context?

Lot of things have changed. Globalisation is a reality — from climate change to terrorism to food security to the financial crisis, nothing can be solved by countries alone. If we want to keep the climate livable, we can only do it together. India was a sleeping giant then, now the giant is wide awake and it is a global power which can make a difference. India lives in a very rough neighbourhood and as a democracy with a vibrant civil society, free press, functioning judiciary and rule of law, India is an ideal strategic partner for us. We have seen in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere that not even the most powerful country can solve problems on its own. For us, India is not only a client or an interlocutor, we see India as long-term strategic partner. In short, the world has changed and India is one of the movers of the change.


Surge Focus Is Roads, Police

By Yaroslav Trofimov

HERAT, Afghanistan -- The troop surge in Afghanistan will focus on expanding and connecting safe areas of the country, and on revamping the troubled Afghan police, the U.S.-led coalition's day-to-day commander said in an interview.

U.S. Lt. Gen. David M. Rodriguez outlined Tuesday how the surge would unfold, in the most specific terms since President Barack Obama authorized early this month the dispatch of 30,000 extra American troops to Afghanistan. Asked how he would measure success a year from now, he said the crucial marker would be opening up insurgent-infested roads between Afghanistan's agricultural heartland in Helmand province and the Pakistan border.

"There are pockets of security -- but they are not connected," Gen. Rodriguez, who heads the newly established International Security Assistance Force Joint Command, said during a visit to Herat. "Afghan people need, in addition to being secure, to be able to move to places that are important to them, such as to sell farm produce. We've got to be able to expand the secure areas for the people, and improve their freedom of movement."

Mr. Obama authorized the additional U.S. troops to join some 70,000 already here after the coalition's overall commander in Afghanistan, U.S. Gen. Stanley McChrystal, warned in August of possible mission failure amid a spreading Taliban-led insurgency. Allied nations have also pledged several thousand extra troops.

The president set mid-2011 as the deadline for beginning the drawdown of American forces. In a "60 Minutes" interview released this week, he appeared to further narrow the time frame, saying it would be possible to see as soon as December 2010 whether Gen. McChrystal's counterinsurgency strategy is working.

Many parts of ethnic Pashtun southern and eastern Afghanistan are under effective Taliban control. Insurgents regularly strike in the heart of the capital, Kabul. On Tuesday, a car bomb exploded near the Heetal Hotel and the house of President Hamid Karzai's former vice president in central Kabul, killing at least nine people. Another car bomb on Tuesday in the eastern city of Gardez killed five people.

It will take about half a year and possibly longer for the planned American reinforcements to deploy here in full. According to Gen. Rodriguez, the bulk of additional American forces will be composed of four brigade-size combat teams, with the rest made up of engineers, aviation personnel, intelligence staff and other "enablers."

Deploying in stages in January to March, a regiment combat team of between 5,000 and 6,000 U.S. Marines will head to Helmand province, joining a Marine task force and British soldiers already operating there against entrenched insurgents, Gen. Rodriguez said. While U.S. military officials decline to describe the specifics of future operations in Helmand, a probable target for the surge there is the town of Marja, a fortress-like insurgent stronghold just west of the provincial capital Lashkar Gah.

Coalition and Afghan forces operating in Helmand are hit almost daily with improvised explosive devices, and the Marja area has been dubbed by the Marines an "IED factory."

The second major U.S. unit deploying in coming months will be a 4,000-strong brigade combat team of the U.S. Army's 10th Mountain Division, Gen. Rodriguez said. The brigade's artillery battalion will focus on running a police-training school, while much of the remaining three battalions will be scattered throughout the country at joint outposts where platoon-size American forces would live and operate together with Afghan police units.

Anand Gopal contributed to this article.

Full report at:


No proof of Indian role: Baloch leader Hasil Bizenjo

New Delhi: In a statement that could embarrass Pakistan, which has claimed that India is fuelling unrest in Balochistan, a Baloch Senator has said there is no proof that New Delhi is fomenting trouble there.

“We don’t have a proof. As a representative of Baloch people and a leader of a National Party, I have no information on this. Maybe, intelligence agencies of India and Pakistan have knowledge about it,” said Senator Mir Hasil Bizenjo on Tuesday. Asking India to realise the threat posed by terrorism in its neighbourhood, the Senator said terror emanating from Afghanistan reached Pakistan in no time and New Delhi should keep this fact in mind. The war “fought in Afghanistan [in 1980’s] did not bother Pakistanis. But ultimately Peshawar or Frontier bore the brunt.” “If, India and Iran along with Afghanistan and Pakistan do not devise a strategy then it has every potential to reach these countries,” he said. — PTI


Malik claims 80% success in anti-terror war

ISLAMABAD: The war against the terrorists has been successfully conducted with over 80 percent success and would be over soon, Interior Minister Rehman Malik said on Wednesday. He said this at a seminar on the ‘war on terror’ held at a local hotel, where he reiterated the military and the political leadership’s commitment to the elimination of terrorism. “We will not accept any offers of dialogue unless the terrorists surrender their arms,” Rehman said. He said the government had already pursued the policy of dialogue and development in vain as the terrorists had violated all peace deals and challenged the writ of the government time and again. He said they “ultimately forced the government to initiate military operation for durable peace and development and the situation has comparatively improved.” Malik said the situation facing the country is the remnant of the Soviet Union’s war in Afghanistan. He added the terrorists wanted to destabilise the country and were therefore targeting innocent people in settled areas after their failure in Swat and the Tribal Areas of NWFP. He appreciated the role of the Pakistani media in the war on terror and said the success in the on-going operation against the terrorists has been made possible due to positive and objective reporting by the media. Malik also appreciated the role of the ulema for denouncing the suicide attacks and the so-called ‘jihad’ of the terrorists. app\12\17\story_17-12-2009_pg7_19


‘Christianity in UK faces sharp decline’

Prasun Sonwalkar

Dec. 16: Only half of Britons now consider themselves Christian after a "sharp decline" in religious belief over the past quarter of a century, according to a new academic study.

Researchers describe a large proportion of the country as the "fuzzy faithful" who have a vague belief in God but do not necessarily belong to a particular denomination or attend services. However, most British people still say religion helps bring happiness and comfort, and regret its declining influence on modern society, the Daily Telegraph reported on Wednesday. Professor David Voas, who analysed the latest data, said: "More and more people are ceasing to identify with a religion at all. Indeed, the key distinction in Britain now is between religious involvement and indifference.

"We are thus concerned about differences in religiosity, the degree of religious commitment, at least as much as diversity of religious identity." His analysis, to be published in January by the National Centre for Social Research (NatCen), looks at the results of 4,486 interviews conducted in the respected 2008 British Social Attitudes survey.

It shows that just 50 per cent of respondents now call themselves Christian, down from 66 per cent in 1983. NatCen said it confirmed "the sharp decline in religious faith in Britain."

At the same time, the proportion of Britons who say they have "no religion" has increased from 31 per cent to 43 per cent. Non-Christians, including Muslims and Jews, now represent seven per cent of the population. —PTI

Tehran tests upgraded Sajjil-2 missile

Tehran, Dec. 16: Iran said on Wednesday it has successfully tested what it called an upgraded version of its longest-range, solid-fuel missile.

State television broke the news in a one-sentence report that gave no details on the test of the Sajjil-2 missile, a high-speed, surface-to-surface missile with a range of about 1,930 km. That range places Israel, Iran’s sworn enemy, well within reach and reaches as far away as south-eastern Europe. —AP


Malaysia’s Islamists Supports Catholics on Allah Right

Christians are fighting for the right to use the word in their Malay-language publications & News Agencies

KUALA LUMPUR — Malaysia’s Islamic party (PAS) reiterated support for Christian compatriots in their fight to be given the right to use the word "Allah" in reference to God, the Australia Network News website reported on Thursday, December 17.

"I personally believe and PAS as well believe the way forward for a mutually respecting religious relationship, especially in a plural, multi-racial and multicultural society like Malaysia, is not to deny the right of others to use the name of Allah," Zulfikar Ahmad, a PAS official, said.

The use of the word Allah in Christian publications in the local Malay language has triggered a controversy in the Muslim-majority southeast Asian country since a local Catholic weekly, The Herald, used it in its Malay-language edition.

The government threatened to revoke the weekly's license if it continued printing the word.

It later allowed Christian publications to use some Muslim words, including Allah, as long as the phrase "For Christians" is printed on the cover.

However, the government backtracked after some scholars said this might offend Muslims.

The weekly, run by the Catholic Church, has filed a case against the government for the right to use Allah and a court ruling is expected by the end of December.

The PAS official believes the Church has a constitutional right to use the word Allah in Christian publications in the local Malay language.

The party, which made big gains in the last general elections, enjoys huge support in the northern rural and conservative states such as Kelantan and Terengganu.

No Dispute

Christians blame the whole controversy on the government.

"There is a new movement in the last 20 years where they have begun to stress that Allah belongs to Muslims," says Father Lawrence Andrew, the editor of The Herald.

"Has this word in Malaysia created any disturbance for last 400 years or 500 years?

"Not at all so how do we arrive at a situation that this word will cause disharmony... when over centuries, nothing has happened?"

Father Andrew believes the government's ban violates the constitution which protects the Christians' freedom of speech and religion.

"We are being marginalized."

Malaysia has a population of nearly 26 millions, with Malays, mostly Muslims, making up nearly 60 percent.

Christians, including a Catholic population of nearly 800,000, make up around 9.1 percent of the population.


US helping, no comment on Headley’s status: Govt

Dec 17, 2009

New Delhi: The government today said it would be “unprofessional” to react to reports that US intelligence knew in advance about the Mumbai terror attacks, and that David Headley was an American “double agent”. Indian investigators have received “very good cooperation” from US agencies, Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao said.

“I don’t want to comment on the double agent issue. It will not be professional on my part,” Rao said when asked about Headley.

“The investigations are under way, and I want to emphasise that we have got very good cooperation from the US, and our agencies concerned are in touch with them.”

Stressing on the close cooperation between Indian and FBI investigators, she said, “so far, we have got access to documents and information from the FBI.”

Asked if India would want access to Headley and his associate Tahawwur Rana, Rao said: “At some stage, we would like to have access to them.”

To a question on visa papers missing from the Indian consulate in Chicago, Rao said: “I am aware of these reports... I want to tell you that I have sought a factual report from our consulate in Chicago in this regard.”

Headley and Rana, arrested by FBI for plotting terror attacks in India, were issued multi-entry visas by the Indian mission in Chicago. Headley got a five-year multi-entry business visa (No. Z314473) on July 18, 2007; Rana got a one-year business visa (No. AF232384), valid up to March 3, 2011.

Rana’s wife, Samraz Akhtar Rana, was granted a five-year tourist visa valid up to August 2012. The MEA has cancelled all three visas.

Earlier in the day, External Affairs Minister S M Krishna said New Delhi was awaiting more information on Headley. “The investigations are on and we are looking forward to getting some information with reference to this from US intelligence agencies. We will wait for that,” Krishna told reporters outside Parliament House.

Sources in the Home Ministry said the government was going to ask the US government to clarify on reports that Headley, who is in FBI custody, was an agent for the Drug Enforcement Administration and at the same time worked with a Pakistan-based terror organisation.

Full report at:


Indian Consulate denies Headley, Rana visa papers 'missing'

17 December 2009

CHICAGO: The Indian Consulate in Chicago on Thursday said the papers related to issuance of visas to terror suspects David Coleman Headley and

Tahawwur Rana had not gone missing and the "relevant information" in this regard is available with the Indian government.

"We have not reported loss of any papers regarding issuance of visa to David Coleman Headley and Tahawwur Hussain Rana. Relevant information concerning the issuance of visa to these persons is available with the Government of India," a senior consulate official said.

The official's remarks comes in the wake of reports surfaced in the media that papers on the basis of which Headley and Rana were issued visas by the Consulate may have gone mysteriously missing.

Commenting on the report, foreign secretary Nirupama Rao on Wednesday said in New Delhi that she had asked for a "factual report" from Chicago's Consulate General on the issue.

Pakistani-origin US national Headley and Pakistani-Canadian Rana had travelled to India on multi-entry visas issued by the Indian mission.

Headley and Rana, both arrested by the FBI in October for plotting terror attacks in India and Denmark, travelled to this country on multi-entry visas issued by the Indian mission.

The visas to the duo were issued at the discretion of the Consul General in Chicago.

While Headley was issued a five-year multi-entry business visa in July 2007, Rana was given a one-year business visa, valid up to March 2011, and both were also exempted from police reporting if their stay was less than 180 days at a single stretch.

Headley has been charged with criminal conspiring in the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks which claimed 166 lives. Rana, who has also been denied bail, faces charges that he provided support to Headley in plotting attacks against a Danish newspaper.


Rahul Bhatt quizzed by NIA officials; more rounds to go

16 December 2009

MUMBAI: Rahul Bhatt, son of ace film director Mahesh Bhatt, was questioned by investigators to probe his association with David Headley during the Pakistani-American terror suspect's stay here.

The junior Bhatt was called by the officials of National Investigation Agency (NIA) twice for detailed questioning on Headley and what was the basis on which he found him to be an undercover sleuth of US spy agency CIA, official sources said on Wednesday.

During questioning by NIA officials, Bhatt said Headley had been often talking about commando training and skills, clearing obstacles. Headley had also boasted about his swift responses to any situation, the sources said.

Bhatt was also asked about the places he visited along with Headley and the nature of his conversation he had with the terror suspect, the sources said. A formal statement of Rahul Bhatt was however yet to be recorded and would be done so once other things fell in place, the sources added.

Rahul's father Mahesh Bhatt told PTI that he had been called by the NIA officials to understand the basis of his claim that Headley was a CIA agent.

Bhatt has been maintaining that his son had done a duty what every citizen is expected to do but voiced his displeasure over some reports which had projected his son in a bad light.

NIA, which was set up in the aftermath of 26/11 Mumbai attacks, has registered a case against Headley and his accomplice Tahawwur Rana.


Pak officers working with jihadis, Headley confirms to FBI

Sachin Parashar, TNN 14 December 2009, 02:03am IST

NEW DELHI: The FBI interrogation of David Coleman Headley alias Daood Gilani has, for the first time, confirmed what India has always known: A

"section of serving Pakistan army officers" are working in collaboration with India-specific jihadi groups like LeT and JeM. ( Watch Video )

Sources said this was revealed by Headley to his FBI interrogators in what is the first confirmation by an independent probe agency of the involvement of Pakistani army officers in planning and executing terrorist operations against India.

This, sources said, had been conveyed to the Indian side by the FBI team which visited India to share information on Headley’s questioning. While Pakistan has explained away the instances of the involvement of army officials calling them “aberrations”, this has exposed the jihadi infiltration of the Pakistani army and their collaboration with terrorist outfits in anti-India operations.

Sources said the officials identified by Headley were working with Lashkar on ‘Karachi project’ as part of a larger campaign against India. This project involves using jihadi fugitives from India sheltered in Pakistan to draw in vulnerable Indian Muslim youth.

The FBI interrogation of David Coleman Headley has revealed a Lashkar training project involving jihadi fugitives from India. The youth, after they are trained by Pakistani army officials, are sent back to India as part of the gameplan to conceal the Pakistani involvement and pass off the terror in India as a home-grown phenomenon.

During their discussions with FBI, the Indian side told them about their strong suspicion that Headley was present in the Karachi control room from which the Lashkar leadership choreographed the 26/11 terror attacks. The FBI team said this was not borne out by the evidence in their possession but the Indian side has asked the US agency to check a few facts which they have promised to do.

The details of the Karachi project, revealed by FBI, corroborates India’s own findings. Agencies here have established that a number of absconding terrorists — Aamir Raza Khan, Mufti Sufi Patangiya and Rasool Parti and the remnants of Shahid Bilal gang from Hyderabad — have been luring Muslim youth to be trained as jihadis before being sent to India.

The launch of Indian Mujahideen, which tormented India with a wave of bombings, was part of the plan to erase Pakistan’s fingerprints and pass off the attacks as resulting from the disaffection of a section of its own population.

Even 26/11 attackers, armed with fake IDs of a Bangalore engineering college, had planned to mask their nationality. One of them had called up a TV channel introducing the gang as Deccan Mujahideen.

QnA: Is USA trying to protect Headley?


Pakistan party demands Zardari resignation

December 17, 2009

Pakistan's main opposition has urged President Asif Zardari to resign after the Supreme Court declared an amnesty against corruption charges illegal.

The controversial law granting senior politicians amnesty was brought in by ex-President Pervez Musharraf.

The court's move opens the way to possible prosecution for Mr Zardari's political allies, although he is still protected by presidential immunity.

Mr Zardari faces several pending court cases against him in Pakistan.

Before taking office, he spent years in jail after being convicted on corruption charges he says were politically motivated.

BBC correspondents say that, despite the pressure on government figures to quit, there are no signs that this is likely to happen.

'Playing tricks'

Siddiqul Farooq, spokesman for the opposition Pakistan Muslim League-N (PML-N) of former PM Nawaz Sharif, told the AFP news agency that Mr Zardari should resign on "moral grounds".

Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari listens to questions during a press briefing following the meeting with Italy"s President Giorgio Napolitano at Quirinale, the presidential palace, in Rome on September 29, 2009.

President Asif Zardari won elections in 2008

"All the cabinet members must immediately tender their resignations," he said.

Another senior PML-N leader, Khawaja Asif, said Mr Zardari should resign "in his own interest" and that of his party.

"It will be good for the system," he told the Associated Press news agency.

Presidential spokesman Farhatullah Babar told reporters outside the court that the ruling Pakistan People's Party (PPP) would respect the judgement.

However Mr Babar stressed that the president was protected from prosecution.

"No criminal proceedings whatsoever shall be constituted or continued in any court against the president... during the tenure of office," he said.

The BBC's M Ilyas Khan in Islamabad says that at least four governing coalition ministers will have cases revived against them.

These include Interior Minister Rehman Malik (PPP), Defence Minister Chaudhry Ahmad Mukhtar (PPP), Ports and Shipping minister Babar Khan Ghauri (from the MQM party) and another minister, Farooq Sattar (also from the MQM).

Full report at:


Zardari resists US timeline for fighting militants in tribal areas

The Washington Post Posted online: Thursday , Dec 17, 2009 at 0252 hrs

Islamabad : Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari has resisted a direct appeal from US President Barack Obama for a rapid expansion of Pakistani military operations in tribal areas and has called on the US to speed up military assistance to Pakistani forces and to intervene more forcefully with India, its traditional adversary.

In a written response to a letter from Obama late last month, Zardari said his government was determined to take action against al-Qaeda, the Taliban and allied insurgent groups attacking US forces in Afghanistan from the border area inside Pakistan. But, he said, Pakistan’s efforts would be based on its own timeline and operational needs.

The message was reinforced on Monday by Pakistan’s Army Chief Gen Ashfaq Kiyani who told Gen David H Petraeus, the head of the US Central Command, that the US should not expect “a major operation in North Waziristan” in the coming months, according to a senior US defence official. North Waziristan is a sanctuary for the Afghan Taliban.

The long-term success of Obama’s new Afghanistan strategy depends on Pakistan moving forcefully against Taliban havens in the FATA and Balochistan.

In return, the US wants Pakistan to “move on our mutual interests, which includes the Haqqani network and includes the Taliban in Pakistan”, Vice-President Joseph Biden said on Tuesday in an interview on MSNBC’s Morning Joe.

The Pakistani military has been reluctant to shift its focus away from what it sees as an ongoing threat from India toward increased counter-insurgency against al-Qaeda and the Taliban. Closer Indian-US ties and the expansion of India’s conventional capabilities have increased suspicion of US aims.

Zardari did not mention India by name in his three-page letter to Obama, which sources reviewed for The Washington Post on the condition that no direct quotes be used. But he made repeated reference to Pakistan’s core interests, unresolved historical conflicts and conventional imbalances.


Pak court throws out amnesty for Zardari

17 December 2009

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan's highest court on Wednesday struck down an amnesty that has protected President Asif Ali Zardari and some aides from corruption charges, raising the prospect of political turmoil. The decision rejecting the 2007 amnesty introduced by former president Pervez Musharraf will heap pressure on Zardari, who is seen as pro-American, even though he has presidential immunity.

The United States is keen to see Pakistan widen its battle against home-grown Taliban as part of its efforts to stabilise Afghanistan but political troubles could distract the government from the campaign.

The ruling meant that all old cases covered by the amnesty, most of them corruption cases, would be revived, chief justice Iftikhar Chaudhry told the court.

Zardari's ruling Pakistan People's Party (PPP) respected the ruling but there was no question of the president resigning, said presidential spokesman Farhatullah Babar.

"The PPP has faced challenges in the past and can face challenges in future. The PPP is not worried, its leadership is not worried," he told reporters outside the court.

Musharraf introduced the amnesty that protected about 8,000 people, including politicians and civil servants, as part of a power-sharing deal brokered with Zardari's late wife, former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, with U.S. and British encouragement.

Bhutto returned to Pakistan from self-imposed exile soon after the amnesty was introduced but she was assassinated two months later while campaigning for a general election. Instead, Zardari led her party to victory in the February 2008 polls and he became president after Musharraf stepped down later that year. But his image has long been tarnished by allegedly shady deals during Bhutto's two terms as prime minister in the 1990s.

He says the charges were politically motivated. He was never been convicted but nevertheless spent 11 years in jail. Zardari is now deeply unpopular and his government is perceived as weak in the face of a Taliban insurgency and a struggling economy.

Among those protected by the amnesty were the interior and defence ministers and several of Zardari's senior aides.


While Zardari is safe from prosecution, some legal experts say the danger for him is that now that old cases against him have been revived, the legitimacy of his 2008 election

as president could be challenged.But some analysts said while the court's decision will increase political tension and distract the government from its battle against militants, it was not expected to spark chaos.

Full report at:


Iran test-fires missile amid N-tension

17 December 2009,

TEHRAN, IRAN: Iran said on Wednesday it has successfully tested what it called an upgraded version of its longest-range, solid-fuel missile.

State television broke the news in a one-sentence report that gave no details on the test of the Sajjil-2 missile, a high-speed, surface-to-surface missile with a range of about 1,200 miles (1,930 kilometers).

That range places Israel, Iran's sworn enemy, well within reach and reaches as far away as southeastern Europe with greater precision than earlier models.

Iran has intensified its missile development program in recent years, a source of serious concern in Israel, the United States and its Western allies at a time when they accuse Tehran of seeking to build a nuclear weapon. Iran, which is under several sets of UN sanctions over its nuclear program, denies the charge.

It says its nuclear program is aimed solely at generating electricity.


Warrant for Livni hits UK’s ties with Israel

17 December 2009,

JERUSALEM: Israel said on Tuesday that an arrest warrant was issued in Britain against former Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, and warned that

attempts to pursue war crimes charges against Israeli leaders in British courts threatens to harm relations between the two countries.

Israel urged the UK to change the law, which has allowed Palestinians to pursue charges against non-citizens for alleged crimes committed outside its borders. The threat already has caused several Israeli officials and retired military commanders to call off trips to the UK.

Livni, a one-time lead negotiator with the Palestinians, enjoys a dovish reputation in much of the west. But as foreign minister, she staunchly defended Israel’s devastating military offensive in Gaza.


New rules of engagementignore reality of jihad

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Gen. Stanley McChrystal's long-awaited testimony before Congress on the Afghanistan "surge" was, according to one account, "uneventful." The general himself, another story noted, was "a study in circumspection." And questioning from lawmakers was, said a third, "gentle."

That's a nice word for it. "Ineffectual" is more like it. Throw in "callous," too, given House members' obligations to constituents in the war zone, operating under what are surely the most restrictive rules of engagement (ROE) in U.S. history. But not a single lawmaker appears to have ventured one question about these dangerously disarming ROEs, which, in Gen. McChrystal's controversial view, are key to the success of his "counterinsurgency" strategy. What kind of a commander puts his forces' lives at increased risk for a historically unsuccessful theory that depends not on winning battles against enemies, but on winning the "trust," or, as we used to say (and as Gen. David Petraeus put it in Iraq), the "hearts and minds" of a primitive people immersed in the anti-Western traditions of Islam?

That would have made a nice ice-breaker of a question for any lawmaker troubled by the Petraeus-McChrystal policy of elevating Afghan "population protection" over U.S. "force protection" to win "the support" of this 99 percent Islamic country, and the rules that American forces must follow to do so. If, that is, there were any lawmakers so troubled.

Things really tightened up back in July, when Gen. McChrystal essentially grounded air support for troops except in dire circumstances. This, in the words of British defense intelligence analyst John McCreary, is "like fighting with a hand behind your back." And with deadly results, such as the September firefight in Ganjgal where three Marines and a Navy Corpsman were killed when, according to McClatchy newspapers' Jonathan S. Landay, repeated requests for support were nixed due to "new rules to avoid civilian casualties."

As the Washington Times recently reported, the McChrystal counterinsurgency rules now include: No night searches. Villagers must be warned prior to searches. Afghan National Army or Afghan Police must accompany U.S. units on searches. Searches must account, according to International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) headquarters, "for the unique cultural sensitivities toward local women." ("Islamic repressiveness" is more accurate, but that's another story.) U.S. soldiers may not fire on the enemy unless the enemy is preparing to fire first. U.S. forces may not engage the enemy if civilians are present. U.S. forces may fire at an enemy caught in the act of placing an IED, but not walking away from an IED area. And on it goes.

Full report at:


Pak snubs US over ops order

Jane Perlez

16 December 2009

ISLAMABAD: Demands by the United States for Pakistan to crack down on the strongest Taliban warrior in Afghanistan, Siraj Haqqani, whose fighters

pose the biggest threat to American forces, have been rebuffed by the Pakistani military, according to Pakistani military officials and diplomats.

The Obama administration wants Pakistan to turn on Haqqani, a longtime asset of Pakistan’s spy agency who uses the tribal area of North Waziristan as his sanctuary. But, the officials said, Pakistan views the entreaties as contrary to its interests in Afghanistan beyond the timetable of President Barack Obama’s surge, which envisions reducing American forces beginning in mid-2011.

The demands, first made by American officials before Obama’s Afghanistan speech and repeated many times since, were renewed in a written message delivered in recent days by the US embassy to Pakistani head, General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, according to American officials. Gen David Petraeus followed up on Monday during a visit to Islamabad.

The demands have been accompanied by strong suggestions that if the Pakistanis cannot take care of the problem, including dismantling the Taliban leadership based in Quetta, Pakistan, then the Americans will by resorting to broader and more frequent drone strikes in Pakistan.

The core reason for Pakistan’s imperviousness is its scant faith in the Obama troop surge, and what it sees as the need to position itself for a regional realignment in Afghanistan once US forces begin to leave. It considers Haqqani and his control of large areas of Afghan territory vital to Pakistan in the jostling for influence that will pit Pakistan, India, Russia, China and Iran against one another in the post-American Afghan arena, the Pakistani officials said.

Pakistan is particularly eager to counter the growing influence of India, which is pouring $1.2 billion in aid into Afghanistan. “If America walks away, Pakistan is very worried that it will have India on its eastern border and India on its western border in Afghanistan,” said Tariq Fatemi, a former Pakistani envoy to US.


Islamic militant held at Philippines airport

MANILA: Philippine law enforcement agents arrested on Wednesday an Islamic militant, with ties to the al-Qaeda network, indicted in the US for his role in the kidnapping of an American missionary in 1993, officials said. Government agents nabbed Abdul Basir Latip, suspected to be among the organisers of the Islamic militant group Abu Sayyaf, after he arrived at the Manila International Airport from Jakarta.


One too many personas Is Headley this century’s Mata Hari?

Who is David Coleman Headley? This is the million dollar question on everyone’s lips. The mystery has been compounded by the fact that the American authorities holding Headley have not been forthcoming in sharing information about him. It now appears that the Pakistani-origin terror suspect had served as an informant for the US Drug Enforcement Agency after being arrested for heroine smuggling back in 1998. And as an informant he was able to infiltrate international drug cartels and travel across the world without any problem. Even post-9/11 when American authorities tightened security measures and put in place a system that enabled stringent scrutiny of people travelling back and forth between the US and ‘hotspot’ countries, Headley faced no hindrance in making several trips to Pakistan. It is now being assumed that it was on one of these visits that Headley either turned coat and became an active Lashkar-e-Tayyeba member or was encouraged by US intelligence agencies to become an LeT mole who later went rouge. For, it would be naïve to believe that given the high degree of inter-agency cooperation that was established within the American intelligence fraternity in the aftermath of 9/11, agencies like the CIA or the FBI did not have any knowledge about Headley.

There are two key questions that need to be answered. First, how did someone who was supposed to be an informant for an American law-enforcement agency become an LeT operative right under the nose of the US intelligence establishment? One would presume that such a person would be under constant surveillance. But from the way things have panned out it is clear that there was a fair degree of casualness in the manner in which Headley was managed by his American handlers. It is also clear that the latter became suspicious of Headley’s activities more than a year ago. At the time of the 26/11 terror strikes on Mumbai, Headley was already under the FBI’s scanner. In fact, it is only through monitoring Headley’s correspondence with his Lashkar contacts that American intelligence authorities were able to put out the security alert that sea-facing hotels in Mumbai could be attacked by terrorists. Therefore the question is: Why did the American authorities conceal Headley’s identity from India for so long? That Headley was in India before the 26/11 attack and four months after in March this year has been confirmed. So why wasn’t this information shared with our Government? Was it in an effort to hide the fact that Headley was their own man who had switched sides? If so, it proves that all the American talk about how terrorism needs to be fought through international cooperation is nothing more than bunkum. The US will always put its interests first, no matter scores of people are slaughtered in a country that it calls a ‘strategic partner’. This is US chicanery at its best.


In Somalia, jihad is only half the fight

Matt Brown

December 17. 2009

Ismail Mohamed Ishaaq, 21, lost a leg fighting security forces in Mogadishu. He is recovering in a government hospital. Tim Freccia for The National

MOGADISHU // All Ismail Mohamed Ishaaq wanted was to earn some money to pay for school. But in Somalia, which has not had a strong central government for 19 years, opportunities are few and far between.

So Mr Ishaaq, 21, signed up with the only organisation around that was hiring – the militant Islamist group known as al Shabab.

The group has been fighting a guerrilla war against the weak transitional federal government for almost three years. Their aim is to topple the government and replace it with one based on a harsh brand of Islam, akin to what the Taliban espoused in Afghanistan.

With ties to al Qa’eda and hundreds of foreign fighters in its ranks, al Shabab has been labelled a terrorist organisation by western countries including the United States. But not all of al Shabab’s foot soldiers subscribe to the ideology of jihad.

“I joined to get money,” Mr Ishaaq said. “I wanted to reach my goals. I wanted to finish my school. I never got financial support from anywhere. That is why I joined al Shabab.”

For six months, Mr Ishaaq fought alongside other militants in Lower Shabele, a Shabab stronghold in southern Somalia. A month ago, he was called to Mogadishu to bolster insurgents attempting to take the capital.

Near Mogadishu’s Bakara market, Mr Ishaaq’s convoy came under fire from government soldiers. A mortar hit his car, blowing off his leg and killing three fellow militants. Government troops captured him and brought him to an African Union hospital, where his wounds were treated. Now, recovering in the AU facility, Mr Ishaaq is unsure about what to do next.

“For now, I don’t have the energy to go back and I can’t fight because I am an injured person,” he said from his hospital bed. “Those I was fighting have already captured me. Then they saved my life. I don’t see why I should go back and fight them again. I don’t know what I’m going to do.”

Full report at:

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