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Islamic World News ( 24 Jan 2010, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Padma Bhushan for Aamir Khan

101 lashes, fine for raped, divorced Bangla teen

Churches torched by Muslim mob in Indonesia

Srinagar Muslims hand temple to Pandits

Step out & contest polls, Jamaat tells Muslim women, hundreds turn up

Voter ID for Indian Muslim women raises questions

Iraq capital, Baghdad, rocked by deadly triple blast

‘Chemical Ali’ executed in Iraq

Chidambaram slams IPL for not picking Pak players

Taliban kill 7 in Pakistan's tribal belt for 'spying' for US

Pak reluctant to fight Afghan militants: Report

Foreign forces in Afghanistan face five more years: Report

US must shift strategies in Afghanistan: Soviet war veterans

Osama tape claims US plane attack, vows more attacks

US responds to 'Bin Laden tape'

Al-Qaeda trains woman suicide bombers: Report

Al-Qaeda through Muslim eyes

The power behind the veil

US general signals Taliban talks

Jaipur: Somali author talks of Islam, her journey

US audit attacks Iraq police deal

China denies Google cyber attacks

Kasab wants to be tried by an international court

Archbishop, Muslim leader condemn violence in Nigeria

Gates faces flak for US’ Pakistan policy

Pak tunnels near border worry government

Zardari rejects CJ’s pick, row intensifies

Living under fatwa for speaking her mind

Indian hijack warning made UK up terror alert

Headley’s assets traced across Gulf, US & Pakistan

'I found bin Laden bride No. 5 as he planned 9/11'

Ahmadinejad promises ‘good’ nuclear news on anniversary

Lack of sponsors delays Afghan parliamentary poll

Indonesian mine shooting hurts 7

Somali refugees in Yemen’s focus

Alert on border, longer hours, cancelled leaves for soldiers

Muslim Conference chief blames RAW for suicide attacks in PoK

Compiled By New Age Islam News Bureau

URL of this Page: http://www.newageislam.com/islamic-world-news/padma-bhushan-for-aamir-khan/d/2418

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Padma Bhushan for Aamir Khan

25 January 2010

NEW DELHI: Nobel laureate of Indian origin Venkatraman Ramakrishnan, Apollo hospital chief Pratap Reddy and former RBI Governor Y V Reddy were on

Monday chosen for the second highest civilian award Padma Vibhushan while music maestro A R Rahman and Bollywood superstar Aamir Khan have been named for Padma Bhushan.

Eminent theatre personalities Zohra Segal and Ebrahim Alkazi and noted 'mridangam' Carnatic artist Umayalpuram K. Sivaraman are the other three chosen for Padma Vibhushan award by the government which, in all, named 130 people, including 13 in the category of foreigners, NRIs and PIOs. 43 are Padma Bhushan and 83 are Padma Shri.

Cricketer Virendra Sehwag, Hockey national Ignace Tirkey, Formula 1 driver Narain Kartikeyan, Badminton star Saina Nehwal, Boxer Vijender Singh and Sachin Tendulkar's 'guru' Ramakant Achrekar have been selected for Padma Shri awards in sports category.

Among the Padma Bhushan awardees this year are noted NRI hotelier Sant Singh Chatwal, eminent neurosurgeon Satya Paul Agarwal and eminent cardiac surgeon Ramakant Panda, who performed 'beating heart' surgery on Prime Minister Manmohan Singh last year.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Padma-Bhushan-for-Aamir-Khan-Padma-Sri-for-Sehwag/articleshow/5499190.cms

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101 lashes, fine for raped, divorced Bangla teen

Jan 25, 2010

The alleged rapist, Enamul Mia, 20, was let off by the village arbitrators who awarded teenaged girl 101 lashes, the Daily Star newspaper said

 Life couldn't be more unfair to a teenaged Bangladeshi girl, who was first raped, then divorced on being found that she had conceived before marriage, and finally administered 101 lashes for her "sins".

It doesn't stop at this! The alleged rapist, Enamul Mia, 20, was let off by village arbitrators who awarded her 101 lashes, the Daily Star newspaper said on Sunday.

Eight months after being raped, village arbitrators found the 16-year-old at Khargor village of Kasba upazila (sub-division) in Brahmanbaria district, guilty and issued the fatwa for 101 lashes.

The arbitration also fined the victim's father $160 and issued another fatwa that her family would be ostracised if he failed to pay up. Village matbar (local leader) Delwar Hossain alias Ullashi executed the lashes on January 17. The report quoted the girl's family sources as saying Enamul Mia of Gabbari used to tease the girl on her way to school. He raped her in April 2009. Fearing shame, the girl did not disclose the incident. She was married off to a man of a neighbouring village but was divorced after a month as medical test revealed that she was seven months pregnant. She lived at her father's place after an abortion. A group of so-called matbars, led by Manik Mia, declared that her family is to be isolated until she was punished.

The influential group arranged the arbitration on January 17 that ruled against the girl.

At one stage of the torture, the girl collapsed and fainted. She regained consciousness after two hours. "Enamul has spoiled my life. I want justice," said the girl as she sobbed away silently.

Talking to the Daily Star, the neighbours spoke in favour of the girl and blamed Enamul but did not dare to say anything against the so-called village arbitration.

A team of human rights activists led by advocate Mili Chowdhury visited the village.

http://epaper.asianage.com/ASIAN/AAGE/2010/01/25/ArticleHtmls/25_01_2010_008_012.shtml?Mode=1

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Churches torched by Muslim mob in Indonesia

Jan 25, 2010

A Muslim mob torched unlicensed churches and priest’s home in western Indonesia last week and security forces have deployed to ensure order, a government spokesman said on Monday.

No one was hurt when hundreds of villagers burned down two Protestant churches on Friday in Sibuhuan village, North Sumatra provincial spokesman Baharuddin Djafar said. No arrests were made, but he promised authorities would “investigate the case and bring the perpetrators to court.”

Relations between religious groups are generally peaceful in Indonesia, the world’s largest Muslim-majority nation, but minorities are sometimes targeted by conservative Islamic groups opposed to religious diversity.

Christians say it has become increasingly difficulty to obtain licenses to operate churches and that violence is more frequent.

It was not immediately clear what prompted the arson attacks, but the churches have been a long-standing source of tension in the predominantly Muslim area. Religious leaders were meeting to try to prevent escalation, he said.

Mr. Djafar said 200 Christians fled Sibuhuan village, but that the situation was under control. Around 100 security forces were deployed.

Authorities were reportedly considering allowing a new church to be constructed 18 kilometers (11 miles) outside of the village.

http://beta.thehindu.com/news/international/article94649.ece

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Srinagar Muslims hand temple to pandits

SRINAGAR

Jan. 24: A Hindu temple left in ruin in a central Srinagar locality but preserved by local Muslims in the absence of anyone to look after it has been formally handed over to a community group of Kashmiri pandits.

Kashmir Pandit Sangarash Samiti (KPSS) on Sunday thanked the majority Muslim community of Srinagar "which came forward to save and hand over the Puran Raj Bhairav temple at Sazgari Pora to local Kashmiri pandits through it".

A statement issued by the KPSS here said, "We at Kashmir Pandit Sangarash Samiti feel honoured by the stand taken by the local Muslims to save the temple. This clearly indicates that due to the few unscrupulous elements the whole community or society gets involved."

It further said that the efforts taken by local Muslim residents in highlighting the condition of the "desecrated and now encroached" temple belonging to the Kashmiri Pandit community is worth appreciating. KPSS also thanked inspector general of police (Kashmir range) Farooq Ahmed for his "quick action" directing the concerned SHO to maintain the status quo at the spot.

It was learnt that the local Muslims of Sazgari Pora recently got in touch with the KPSS asking it to take the custody of the temple. Intentionally, Friday, the auspicious day for Muslims, was chosen for the Pandits’ representatives to visit the area and formally take the control of their place of worship.

"We readily accepted it as the token of trust and love from our Muslim brethren and with the active support from the local mosque management committee we relocated to the area to take the control of the temple," said Sanjay K. Tickoo, president of KPSS.

He added, "This will be known as the best example of the traditional bonds between the two communities have not fallen apart completely and there is hope and chance revive it completely provided."

After having been failed by politicians, the Kashmir Pandit Sangarash Samiti recently constituted a three-member committee to approach the managing committees of local mosques across the Valley to request them to cooperate in the reopening of various temples which stand closed or are in dilapidated condition after majority of Kashmiri Hindus fled the Valley amidst separatists’ campaign turning violence in 1989-90.

http://www.asianage.com/presentation/leftnavigation/news/india/srinagar-muslims-hand-temple-to-pandits.aspx

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Step out & contest polls, Jamaat tells Muslim women, hundreds turn up

Shaju Philip

Jan 25, 2010

Thiruvananthapuram : Hundreds of purdah-clad women attended a meeting late into the night as the Jamaat-e-Islami held a convention exclusively for women in Kerala’s Malappuram on Sunday. While the slogan was ‘women power for social revolution’, the Jamaat admitted its goal was to encourage them to take the plunge into the coming local body elections, where 50 per cent of the seats would be reserved for women.

Except Jamaat-e-Islami Kerala chief T Arifali, all the speakers on the dais were women. The spadework for the event was done almost exclusively by Jamaat women, who went around with campaign material, sometimes disregarding protests from orthodox segments.

“Muslim women should surge ahead in socio-political spheres after proving their ability. In the three-tier panchayati raj system, 50 per cent of the seats are reserved for women. The next elections are a great opportunity as well as a heavy responsibility. Prove your mettle,” urged K K Fathima Suhara, the president of the women’s wing of the Jamaat. 

The call to women to become active in politics is another milestone in the history of the Jamaat which had exhorted its members to abstain from electoral politics until the Emergency. The organisation, which is now pro-Left in Kerala, recently announced its plans to have own political party.

“The discussions are on at various levels. Even if the political party does not materialise before the elections to the local bodies, we would explore the possibility of fielding independent candidates. The women’s conference was held with an eye on that,” Mujeeb Rahman, a state-level leader of the Jamaat, said.

Among those who addressed the gathering, through videoconference, was British journalist Yvonne Ridley. A war correspondent, she famously converted to Islam after she was captured by the Taliban while reporting from Afghanistan in the wake of 9/11.

The Jamaat attempts, however, have evoked a sharp protest from the Sunnis, a powerful Muslim segment in the state. Its chief, Kanthapuram A P Aboobacker Musaliyar, said it was highly deplorable that women were being “paraded in public” in such a conference. “Advocating freedom of women does not mean a licence to breach the boundaries of Islam. They have violated Islamic tenets regarding bringing out women for public functions,” claimed Musaliyar.

However, social critics and observers of Muslim politics feel the conservatives would be forced to change their stand very soon. “With 50 per cent seats for women in local bodies becoming a reality, the Sunni faction would be left with little choice but to abandon their orthodoxy,” said Prof N M Karassery.

The Jamaat attempts have already seen the Indian Union Muslim League (IUML), a Congress ally and the largest Muslim party in the state, rethink its strategy.

“The IUML is least worried about the Jamaat dabbling in politics. We have also begun enlightening women to take a bigger roles in politics. The party recently held a women’s conference in south Kerala, where its presence is negligible. We have enough educated women who could be fielded in the next elections,” said its secretary M K Muneer.

http://www.indianexpress.com/news/step-out-&-contest-polls-jamaat-tells-muslim-women-hundreds-turn-up/571346/

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Voter ID for Indian Muslim women raises questions

Jan 25, 2010

A Division Bench of the Supreme Court comprising Chief Justice K.G. Balakrishnan and Justice Deepak Varma ordered on Friday that Muslim women who do not wish to be photographed need not vote.

Petitioner M. Ajmal Khan argued that the Election Commission should not photograph Muslim women, as it is violative of Article 25 of the Constitution. Khan contended that the Holy Quran stipulates that only family members can see the face of a Muslim woman.

Media reports indicate that Muslim clerics and organizations are in support of the Supreme Court's observation that Muslim women ought to shed their burqa to be photographed for electoral role verification. The Madras High Court in 2006 had dismissed Khan's petition filed after the EC started printing electoral rolls with photographs of voters.

Khan's team of counsels comprising P.N. Ramalingam, V.Balaji and Pravesh Thakur were countered by a battery of counsels including Additional Solicitor General Mohan Jain and the EC's standing counsel, and Kachwaha's outside counsel, Meenakshi  Arora. Senior Counsel Gopal Subramaniam appeared for the Union of India. Other counsels included Balaji Srinivasan, V. N. Subaramaniam, Madhusmita Bora, Prateek Jalan, Prabhat Kumar, Anil Katiyar, and B. Krishna Prasad.

The SC has posted the matter on February 22 for final disposal. 

http://barandbench.com/index.php?title=Voter%20ID%20use%20raises%20constitutional%20questions&page=brief&id=477&gn=0

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Iraq capital, Baghdad, rocked by deadly triple blast

Jan 25, 2010

At least eleven people have been killed in three large explosions that rocked the centre of Iraq's capital, Baghdad, in quick succession.

Twice as many are feared injured in the explosions, which sent plumes of smoke rising hundreds of metres into the sky.

The first blast hit the hotel district and was followed minutes later by two loud explosions near the international Green Zone, reports say.

A series of recent blasts have hit Iraq following a period of relative calm.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/8478916.stm

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‘Chemical Ali’ executed in Iraq

Jan 25, 2010

 Iraq’s government spokesman says Saddam Hussein’s notorious cousin “Chemical Ali” was executed on Monday about a week after being sentenced to death for the poison gas attacks that killed more than 5,000 Kurds in 1988.

News of the hanging came shortly after three suicide car bombs struck downtown Baghdad. It was not immediately clear whether the attacks were linked the execution of Ali Hassan al-Majid.

Government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh confirmed the execution took place.

Al-Majid - widely known as “Chemical Ali” for the gas attacks - was convicted on Sunday for ordering the poison gas to be dropped on the Kurdish town of Halabja in 1988 as part of a campaign against a Kurdish uprising.

It was the fourth death sentence against him for crimes against humanity.

http://beta.thehindu.com/news/international/article94792.ece

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Chidambaram slams IPL for not picking Pak players

25 January 2010

NEW DELHI: Terming non-inclusion of Pakistani players in IPL as a "disservice to cricket", home minister P Chidambaram on Monday said there was no "hint or nudge" from the government to do so.

Describing some of them as "among the best Twenty20" cricket players, he said "these players were coming as individuals, it was not a Pakistan team."

"...I think it is disservice to cricket that some of these players were not picked. I don't know why the IPL teams acted in the manner they acted. But certainly to suggest that there was a hint or nudge from the government is completely untrue," the minister told Times Now.

No Pakistani player was bought by the eight IPL teams during an auction last week for the third edition of the competition despite Pakistan being the reigning world champions in the Twenty20 format of cricket, triggering a strong reaction from Pakistan government which saw it as snub and called-off official visits to India.

Asked whether he thought that Pakistan was over-reacting on the issue, Chidambaram said "well, you see, if no player from a country is picked, obviously the country does feel insulted. But whether the reaction is proportionate or not it is not for me to comment.

"But as I said, cricket lovers are disappointed that no player from Pakistan was picked. I think that could have been avoided."

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Chidambaram-slams-IPL-for-not-picking-Pak-players/articleshow/5499429.cms

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Taliban kill 7 in Pakistan's tribal belt for 'spying' for US

24 January 2010

PESHAWAR: Taliban militants killed seven people in Pakistan's restive tribal belt after accusing them of spying for the US, even as a roadside

bomb targeted a security forces convoy in the country's northwest leaving a soldier dead and two others injured today.

Bodies of five of the seven men killed were found on Sunday morning in Kum Sarobi, 35 kms south of Miranshah, the main town in North Waziristan tribal agency, where army conducted an operation against militants holed up in an Afghan settlement two days ago, local media reported.

The sixth body was found in Kutab Khel area, 10 kms southeast of Miranshah, while another was spotted at Haisore village of Mir Ali subdivision.

Pieces of papers found near all the bodies said that other "US spies" would meet the same fate.

The Taliban have killed dozens of people in Pakistan's tribal belt over the past two years on charges of spying for US forces based in Afghanistan.

There have been reports that tribesmen have been paid off by US forces to plant electronic chips that help pilot-less spy planes to home in on targets, including Taliban-held compounds.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/pakistan/Taliban-kill-7-in-Pakistans-tribal-belt-for-spying-for-US/articleshow/5495142.cms

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Pak reluctant to fight Afghan militants: Report

Monday, Jan 25, 2010

Washington : Suspicious of deepening ties between India and the United States, Pakistan is reluctant to plunge into war with Afghan militants and even high-profile visits of US officials have failed to win over a military and civilian establishment in Islamabad, a media report said.

The recent visit of US Defence Secretary Robert Gates and US Special Representative for Pakistan and Afghanistan Richard Holbrooke could not convince Pakistan to go ahead full throat in its war against terrorism.

"One major obstacle, analysts said, is the close relationship between the United States and India," The 'Washington Post' on Monday reported in its dispatch from Islamabad.

"India-Pakistan relations are mired in mistrust, with India suspecting Pakistan of colluding in a terrorist attack in Mumbai in late 2008, and Pakistan suspecting that India uses Afghanistan to launch anti-Pakistan subversion," it said.

The Post said that for some Pakistanis, the message of support delivered by Gates and other recent visitors, including special envoy Holbrooke, has been discredited by similar US messages of support for India.

"Washington sees India's active role in Afghanistan as a force for stability, but Pakistan sees it as a threat and has been reaching out to other regional powers, including Iran, for counterbalancing support," The Post said.

This despite the fact that Gates offered shadow drones to Pakistan during his recent visit to Pakistan. The gesture intended to ease Pakistani concerns about the increasing use of US armed drones to launch missile strikes against al-Qaeda and Taliban targets in Pakistan's remote tribal areas.

"The other major obstacle, analysts said, is Pakistan's concern that if its armed forces expand operations and go after allies of the Afghan Taliban, this will invite retribution from radical groups that have so far refrained from attacking Pakistan, and that could end up sharing power in Afghanistan after Western forces withdraw," The Post said.

According to The Post, analysts and diplomats said the army's delaying tactics were in part a gambit to win more US military aid and in part a reflection of the toll taken by the fighting.

"Other observers pointed to a cultural cause for the disconnect between the United States and Pakistan, despite the recent infusion of US economic aid and the fence-mending visits from Washington. Pakistanis understand the need to curb violent militant groups, they said, but do not want to be seen as doing Washington's bidding," the daily said.

http://www.indianexpress.com/news/pak-reluctant-to-fight-afghan-militants-report/571441/

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Foreign forces in Afghanistan face five more years: Report

25 January 2010

LONDON: A major conference on Afghanistan this week will conclude that international forces face up to five more years battling the Taliban, a newspaper reported Monday.

Citing a communique which it said will end Thursday's meeting in London, the Times said Afghan forces up will be given up to half a decade to take responsibility for "physical security".

Continued support from Western troops will be needed until then.

The draft statement commits the Afghan troops to "taking the lead and conducting the majority of operations in the insecure areas of Afghanistan within three years and taking responsibility for physical security within five years", according to the paper.

Some of the more stable regions could come under the control of Afghan security forces at the end of this year or early 2011 with support from Western troops, "providing conditions are met", the document adds.

The Ministry of Defence in Britain, which has the second biggest contingent of troops in Afghanistan after the United States, said Monday it did not comment on leaked documents.

But it added a decision on pulling out troops would be based on "conditions, not arbitrary timelines."

More than 113,000 international troops are fighting the Taliban under US and NATO command and losing soldiers almost daily, in the conflict which started with the US-led invasion of 2001.

The United States is pouring another 30,000 troops into Afghanistan this year, on top of more than 70,000 already there, but under US President Barack Obama's plans they are begin withdrawing in July 2011.

Details of a Western-funded reconciliation plan to use offers of cash and jobs to tempt insurgents away from the Taliban will also form part of the closing statement, the Times said, a scheme unveiled several days ago by Afghan President Hamid Karzai.

Britain's foreign ministry, which is organising the conference, also said it did not comment on leaked documents.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/uk/Foreign-forces-in-Afghanistan-face-five-more-years-Report-/articleshow/5496992.cms

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US must shift strategies in Afghanistan: Soviet war veterans

25 January 2010

MOSCOW: The United States is repeating the mistakes that the Soviet Union made in Afghanistan, Russian veterans say, convinced the USSR's disastrous near decade-long war there harbours deep lessons for Western forces.

"It is now (nearly) nine years since the coalition invaded Afghanistan and nothing has changed," said retired Lieutenant General Ruslan Aushev, 55, who served five years in Afghanistan during the Soviet occupation there from 1979-1989.

However, Aushev, who was made a Hero of the Soviet Union after being wounded on his third Afghan deployment, admitted that NATO and US troops face a fiercer enemy today than did Soviet troops.

Then, the Red Army untrained for the mountainous terrain found themselves bogged down in an unwinnable guerrilla war against Mujahedeen Islamist fighters backed financially and militarily by Washington.

"Today, the situation is more complicated. The Mujahedeen were more moderate than the Taliban, who are radical. In our era, there were no suicide bombers," said Aushev, who now heads the Afghan veterans committee.

Major General Makhmud Gareyev was a former deputy chief of the Red Army general staff and a top military adviser to Afghan President Najibullah, who was overthrown by Islamic insurgents in 1992 and hanged by the Taliban four years later.

After the Soviet pullout in 1989, Gareyev stayed behind to support the Kremlin's client regime.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/us/US-must-shift-strategies-in-Afghanistan-Soviet-war-veterans/articleshow/5497014.cms

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Osama tape claims US plane attack, vows more attacks

Jan 25, 2010

Dubai : Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden claimed responsibility for the failed Dec. 25 bombing of a US-bound plane in an audio tape aired on Sunday, and vowed to continue attacks on the United States.

In his message addressed "from Osama to (US President Barack) Obama", bin Laden said the attempt to blow up the jet as it neared Detroit was a continuation of al Qaeda policy since the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on the United States.

White House adviser David Axelrod said he could not confirm the authenticity of the tape, which was broadcast by Al Jazeera television before international meetings this week on how to deal with militancy in Afghanistan and Yemen.

But Abdelbari Atwan, editor of Al-Quds-Al-Arabi newspaper who met the al Qaeda leader in 1996, said: "It is bin Laden's voice and style. The poetry, the references he makes are identifiably his."

Bin Laden praised the Nigerian who has been charged with trying to blow up Northwest Flight 253.

"The message sent to you with the attempt by the hero Nigerian Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab is a confirmation of our previous message conveyed by the heroes of Sept. 11," he said. "If it was possible to carry our messages to you by words, we wouldn't have carried them to you by planes."

The botched attack by the Yemen-based regional wing of al Qaeda on Christmas Day, and subsequent threats in Yemen, raised global pressure for a crackdown, helping to prompt Sanaa to declare an open war on the militant group within its territory.

Defence and counterterrorism officials say Washington quietly has been supplying military equipment, intelligence and training to Yemen to destroy suspected al Qaeda hide-outs.

Since the attempted bombing, Yemen has launched a series of air strikes targeting al Qaeda leaders and has declared that some top regional leaders, including Qasim al-Raymi and Ayed al-Shabwani, have been killed.

Full report at: www.indianexpress.com/news/osama-tape-claims-us-plane-attack-vows-more-attacks/571416/

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US responds to 'Bin Laden tape'

Jan 25, 2010

The US has said a tape purported to be from al-Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden simply repeats "hollow justifications for the mass slaughter of innocents".

White House adviser David Axelrod also said that the US could not confirm the authenticity of the audio tape.

The tape warned US President Barack Obama there would be more attacks if the US continued to support Israel.

In the tape aired by al-Jazeera, the speaker said US would not live in peace until there was "peace in Palestine".

The message also claimed that al-Qaeda was behind the 25 December attempt to blow up a passenger plane bound for the US.

A Nigerian man, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, has been charged with attempting to blow up the Delta Airlines plane as it approached Detroit from Amsterdam.

'No safe life'

Mr Axelrod told CNN the US could not immediately confirm the authenticity of the tape.

"But assuming that it is him [Bin Laden], his message contains the same hollow justifications for the mass slaughter of innocents that we've heard before," he said.

Israeli foreign ministry spokesman Andy David told Associated Press news agency: "This is nothing new; he has said this before. Terrorists always look for absurd excuses for their despicable deeds."

And in London, UK Foreign Secretary David Miliband said he needed to study the message, but pointed to the importance of the Detroit plot as "an attack on the West rather than an attack within the Middle East".

However, the head of the United Nations al-Qaeda monitoring team later told the BBC he believed the tape was genuine.

Richard Barrett said that there were "other, previous tapes that it can be compared with and I think it's quite straightforward on basic voice analysis to decide whether it is indeed Osama Bin Laden".

Full report at ;http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/8478019.stm

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Al-Qaeda trains woman suicide bombers: Report

Jan 24, 2010

London : Al-Qaeda in Yemen has trained a group of woman suicide bombers with 'non-Arab' appearance to attack Western targets, including airliners and power stations, US officials have warned.

Details of the bombers emerged just hours after Britain raised the UK threat state to "severe" amid fears that al-Qaeda was planning a wave of attacks against western targets, 'The Sunday Telegraph' reported.

The woman suicide bombers, who may be travelling on Western passports, have been prepared for their missions by al-Qaeda's branch in Yemen responsible for the botched Christmas Day attempt to blow up a US airliner, it said.

US officials quoted by the paper as saying that airliners and all forms of transport could be targeted as well as sports stadia, ports and power stations.

The report came as Foreign Ministers from across the world, including External Affairs Minister S M Krishna, are preparing to meet in London this week for two conferences to discuss the threat of terrorism in both Yemen and Afghanistan.

But official sources insisted that there was no specific intelligence which suggested that either conference was a potential target.

http://www.indianexpress.com/news/alqaeda-trains-woman-suicide-bombers-report/571131/

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Al-Qaeda through Muslim eyes

Jan 24, 2010

How is al-Qaeda perceived in the Muslim world?

Since al-Qaeda declared holy war against the world's only superpower a decade ago, Washington has either been in denial or is no closer to understanding what really motivates al-Qaeda militants and its affiliates, or how to deal with them.  

Despite trillions of dollars spent and the deaths of thousands of US soldiers, al-Qaeda's top leaders remain at large and are still claiming responsibility for attacks against Western targets, as new franchises or offshoots spring up in unlikely places.  

Caught in the crossfire are the world's Muslims.  

In this episode, Empire looks at how al-Qaeda is perceived in the Muslim world.

We will analyse whether the US' so-called 'war on terror' - with its deadly tactics and support for corrupt rulers - serves only to alienate Muslims, driving them into the arms of extremist groups.

We will ask if the US can reverse the tide of military intervention in the region and instead try to reach political solutions that involve all political parties, including repressed Islamic parties.

We will also discuss whether the Arab world has an answer to the al-Qaeda challenge.

http://english.aljazeera.net/programmes/empire/2010/01/201012581059472955.html

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The power behind the veil

Jan 25, 2010

I look on efforts to ban the face veil with dismay. For me, it's an empowering tool

As a young British Muslim who wears the head covering and who on occasions chooses to wear the face veil (niqab), I have watched with increasing concern as UKIP calls for a total ban in the UK and the French government proposes a ban on state premises and on public transport.

My problem is not so much with the idea that the face veil is deemed impractical or threatens security in certain places, rather that, as argued by UKIP and President Sarkozy, it is an affront to women.

Nigel Farage, UKIP's ex-leader, stated that the veil is "something that is used to oppress women", while Sarkozy, whose committee on full veiling is due to report next week, has purported that this kind of covering by women breached the French Republic's fundamental principles of "sexual equality and secularism."

To address the question of sexual equality: from my point of view as a Muslim woman, it is the veil which affords that equality. The head veil with or without the face veil (which incidentally is not a religious requirement) is in fact a liberating and an empowering force rather than an oppressive one. In my experience, Muslim women who decide to wear a veil feel that, when they have contact with men, they are in full command of their bodies. With their outer beauty hidden from view what is exposed instead is their mind and inner qualities and so in any interaction with men they are valued not just for how they look. This attire also sends out a message that a woman is chaste and modest and and that she does not want her sexuality to enter into the interaction in the slightest degree.

Perhaps the most interesting aspect to this is that many of the niqab-wearing women in France are converts to Islam. If Islam really was all about subjugating women, what would be the attraction for them in this religion at all?

If the likes of UKIP are genuinely concerned about women's rights and equality then perhaps they should begin by asking the veiled Muslim women her opinion for a change instead of doing exactly what they supposedly stand against: forcing her to dress in a certain way or rather in this case, forcing her to undress.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/belief/2010/jan/25/burqa-ban-veil-sarkozy-ukip

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US general signals Taliban talks

Jan 25, 2010

Nato's top commander in Afghanistan has said increased troop levels could bring a negotiated peace with the Taliban.

US Gen Stanley McChrystal told the UK's Financial Times newspaper that there had been "enough fighting".

He said a political solution in all conflicts was "inevitable". His remarks came as the top UN envoy in Kabul said it was time to talk to the militants.

Afghan and Pakistani leaders are in Turkey to discuss tackling the Taliban-led insurgency in their countries.

This is the fourth such meeting initiated by Turkey, which has offered to broker talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban.

Both Afghan President Hamid Karzai and his Pakistani counterpart, Asif Ali Zardari, will attend an international conference on Afghanistan in London on Thursday.

'Focus on the future'

"I'd like everybody to walk out of London with a renewed commitment, and that commitment is to the right outcome for the Afghan people," Gen McChrystal told the Financial Times.

He said the arrival of the extra 30,000 US troops pledged by President Obama and the additional 7,000 troops promised by other Nato countries should deliver "very demonstrably positive" progress in 2010.

But he warned that the level of Taliban violence could increase sharply this year.

The Taliban wanted to create the perception that Afghanistan was on fire, and that President Karzai and his Western allies could not cope, Gen McChrystal said.

However, if the new US-led strategy was successful, the militants "could look desperate" in a year's time, he said.

"I think they will look like an entity that will be struggling for its own legitimacy... I think they will be on the defensive militarily, not wiped out."

On the issue of reconciliation, Gen McChrystal said: "I believe that a political solution to all conflicts is the inevitable outcome. And it's the right outcome."

Asked if he thought senior Taliban could have a role in a future Afghan government, he said: "I think any Afghans can play a role if they focus on the future, and not the past.

"As a soldier, my personal feeling is that there's been enough fighting," Gen McChrystal added.

'Time has come'

In an interview with the New York Times, United Nations special representative Kai Eide called for some senior Taliban leaders to be removed from a UN list of terrorists, as a prelude to direct talks.

"If you want relevant results, then you have to talk to the relevant person in authority," Mr Eide said. "I think the time has come to do it."

President Karzai recently told the BBC that he planned to introduce a scheme to attract Taliban fighters back to normal life by offering money and jobs.

He said he would offer to pay and resettle Taliban fighters to come over to his side.

Mr Karzai said he hoped to win backing for his plan from the US and UK at the London conference.

A selection of your comments may be published, displaying your name and location unless you state otherwise in the box below.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/8478076.stm

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Somali author talks of Islam, her journey

NAWAID ANJUM

AYAAN HIRSI Ali, the controversial author of Infidel, who has earned the wrath of the fundamentalists for her criticism of Islam, was the "surprise" author at the ongoing Jaipur Literature Festival.

The Somalia-born author, who has also lived in the Netherlands, ruffled many feathers with her open criticism of her religion. Daughter of Hirsi Magan Isse, a prominent figure of the Somalian Revolution, Hirsi unleashed a trenchant criticism of Islam, describing in detail her rite of passage from being a "Muslim" to an "infidel".

"In the name of Islam, organised groups commit acts of violence, not just in their own country, but also elsewhere in the world," said the author, adding that while Christianity and Judaism have been under "systematic scrutiny" in the West, Islam has been exempted from such scrutiny. She said that while America is not always right in making its foreign policies, the idea that Islam is being attacked by America was a conspiracy theory devised by the radicals as part of creating a crisis. "Is there a way we can have a discussion on Islam without offending the Muslims?" asked the author, who wrote the script for the controversial film Submission to protest against "abuse and subjugation" of women.

Earlier in the day, on Day 4 of the festival, Vikram Chandra spoke about his "anti-thriller" Sacred Games in a session with Shoma Chaudhury. The festival also raised a toast to the Scottish writers --- Alexander McCall Smith, Andrew, O'Hagan and Niall Ferguson. Scotland's culture minister Fiona Hyslop is believed to have approved the funding of £10,000 to "raise Scotland's profile" at the festival. Mr Smith, however, said that no writer has been told by its government to " present a particular vision of Scotland". Roddy Doyle, the Irish writer who won the Booker Prize for his novel Paddy Clark Ha Ha Ha, talked about writing in Ireland in a session with blogger Jai Arjun Singh.

Tina Brown, the celebrated former editor of New Yorker, who now runs a webzine called the Daily Beast, spoke about her association with the late Princess Diana, which triggered her book Diana Chronicles.

In yet another session, moderated by festival director Namita Gokhale and Amitava Kuma, Amit Chaudhuri and Omair Ahmad discussed the "musicality" in their works.

The Asian Age, New delhi

http://epaper.asianage.com/Asian/AAge/2010/01/25/ArticleHtmls/25_01_2010_009_015.shtml#

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US audit attacks Iraq police deal

Jan 25, 2010

A watchdog has accused the US state department of grossly mismanaging the oversight of a $2.5bn (£1.5bn) contract for training Iraq's police force.

An audit by the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction (Sigir) said the state department repeatedly failed to monitor the contract.

In one case, it assigned heavy security costing $4.5m to a group of contractors who already had their own bodyguards.

The state department has disputed the report's conclusions.

Awarded in 2004 to private firm DynCorp International, the police contract is the largest awarded by the state department.

But Sigir's Stuart Bowen says in his report that weak oversight made the contract vulnerable to waste and fraud.

According to Mr Bowen's report, for years the state department had only one person in Iraq monitoring invoices during the early stages of the DynCorp contract, despite the complexity of the paperwork.

This meant many invoices were not questioned and as a result there is "no confidence in the accuracy of payments of more than $1bn to DynCorp", the report says.

The three people now employed in Iraq to oversee the work done by DynCorp are still too few, the audit concludes.

The report also suggests the state department is ill-equipped to oversee the large sums of money flowing into Afghanistan because of its lack of people and resources to handle big private sector contracts.

"I think they need to act quickly to remedy this long-standing concern," Mr Bowen said.

The inspector general's report did not look at the quality of the work done by DynCorp in Iraq.

DynCorp spokesman Douglas Ebner told the Associated Press news agency that the company had done well in a "difficult environment" and that it welcomed additional oversight.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/8478010.stm

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China denies Google cyber attacks

Jan 25, 2010

China has denied any state involvement in alleged cyber attacks on Google and accused the US of double standards.

A Chinese industry ministry spokesman told the state-run Xinhua news agency that claims that Beijing was behind recent cyber attacks were "groundless".

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has asked China to investigate claims by Google that it had been targeted by China-based hackers.

The US search giant has threatened to withdraw from China.

"The accusation that the Chinese government participated in [any] cyber attack, either in an explicit or inexplicit way, is groundless. We [are] firmly opposed to that," the unnamed spokesman of China's ministry of industry and information technology told Xinhua.

"China's policy on internet safety is transparent and consistent," he added.

Separately, China's state-run China Daily newspaper said America's internet strategy was "to exploit its advantages in internet funds, technology and marketing and export its politics, commerce and culture to other nations for political, commercial and cultural interests of the world's only superpower".

It also described the US government as being hypocritical, saying the country's "certain government agencies" had reportedly illegally checked a massive number of personal e-mail accounts.

Clinton's speech

On Thursday, Mrs Clinton urged Beijing to investigate the alleged cyber attacks on Google.

"We look to Chinese authorities to conduct a thorough investigation of the cyber intrusions," she said.

Mrs Clinton added that companies such as the US giant should refuse to support "politically motivated censorship".

Again in reference to China, she said that any country which restricted free access to information risked "walling themselves off from the progress of the next century".

Google said on 12 January that hackers had tried to infiltrate its software coding and the e-mail accounts of Chinese human rights activists, in a "highly sophisticated" attack.

The California-based company, which launched in China in 2006, said it would quit the country unless the government relaxed censorship.

On Tuesday, the Chinese government said Google and other foreign companies had to obey the country's laws and traditions.

The same day, Google said it was postponing the launch of two mobile phones in China.

When Google launched google.cn four years ago, it was criticised for agreeing to Beijing's demands to make certain search results off-limits - including those relating to the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests, Tibetan independence or Falun Gong.

China has more internet users, about 350 million, than any other country and provides a lucrative search-engine market worth an estimated $1bn (£618m) last year.

Google holds about a third of the country's search market, with Chinese rival Baidu having more than 60%.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/8478005.stm

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Kasab wants to be tried by an international court

25 January 2010

MUMBAI: After a series of flip flops, lone surviving 26/11 Pakistani gunman Ajmal Kasab on Monday sought to drag the Mumbai attacks case, saying he would like to be tried by an international court, but his plea was rejected by a special court in Mumbai.

22-year-old Kasab told the court that he would like to be tried by an international court, to which judge M L Tahaliyani said he could make that plea after the judgement had been pronounced as it was premature at this stage.

Kasab, who has been making conflicting claims before the court, first by confessing to his involvement in the audacious attack that left 166 dead and later retracting it, also told the court that he would like to examine defence witnesses but refused to name them.

"I will consult Pakistani authorities on examining defence witnesses if they come here," Kasab said. Asked who were the witnesses, he said they could be passport officers or government staff.

Kasab has been claiming that he had come to Mumbai from Pakistan by Samjhauta Express holding a valid passport.

After hearing prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam and Kasab's lawyer K P Pawar, the judge came to the conclusion that Kasab's case was not of acquittal because of evidence against him and so he was entitled to examine defence witnesses.

Accordingly, the court allowed Kasab time till January 27 to decide on examining defence witnesses. However, Kasab told the court that he did not wish to be examined as witness on oath.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Kasab-wants-to-be-tried-by-an-international-court/articleshow/5499125.cms

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Archbishop, Muslim leader condemn violence in Nigeria

January 25, 2010

As violence spreads from the north-central Nigerian city of Jos to surrounding villages, a group of Christians and Muslims, led by Archbishop John Onaiyekan of Abuja and Alhaji Muhammad Sa'ad Abubakar III, president of the Nigeria Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs, have condemned the violence and urged authorities to arrest the perpetrators.

“Settling any kind of grievances through violence and bloodshed is ungodly. Rather than solve problems of misunderstanding in any society, violence and bloodshed only compounds them,” they said. “In the name of the religious communities that we represent, we vigorously condemn the new wave of violence that has once again erupted in and around the city of Jos in recent days.”

“We commit all those who have been killed to the mercy of God. We offer our sincere condolences to all the bereaved. At the same time, we fully support and reinforce the passionate appeal of the Inter-religious Committee of Plateau State, issued in the very heat of the events, calling on all to eschew violence, seek peace and work for it.”

The Catholic and Muslim leaders appealed to the “government and the various security agencies to remain vigilant not only to prevent a spread of the crisis to other parts of the country, but to also fish out and deal with not only the material perpetrators of violence but those who recruit, arm and support them.”

15% of Nigeria’s 142.5 million people are Catholic, 25% are Protestant, and 50% are Muslim.

http://www.catholicculture.org/news/headlines/index.cfm?storyid=5238

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Gates faces flak for US’ Pakistan policy

Jan 24, 2010

The trip, Gates’ first to Pakistan in three years, proved that the history of US foreign policy is full of unintended consequences

Elisabeth Bumiller / NYT

Islamabad: Nobody else in the Obama administration has been mired in Pakistan for as long as defence secretary Robert Gates. So on a trip here this past week to try to soothe the country’s growing rancor toward the US, he served as a punching bag tested over a quarter century.

“Are you with us or against us?” a senior military officer demanded of Gates at Pakistan’s National Defence University on Friday. Gates, who could hardly miss that the officer was mimicking former president George W. Bush’s warning to nations harbouring militants, simply replied, “Of course we're with you.”

That was the essence of Gates’ message over two days to the Pakistanis, who are angry about the Central Intelligence Agency’s (CIA) surge in missile strikes from drone aircraft on militants in Pakistan’s tribal areas.

The trip, Gates’ first to Pakistan in three years, proved that the history of US foreign policy is full of unintended consequences.

As the No. 2 official at the CIA in the 1980s, Gates helped channel covert aid and weapons through Pakistan’s spy agency to US allies at the time: Islamic fundamentalists fighting the Russians in Afghanistan. Many of those fundamentalists regrouped as the Taliban, who gave sanctuary to Al Qaeda before the 11 September 2001 attacks and now threaten Pakistan.

In meetings on Thursday, Pakistani leaders repeatedly asked Gates to give them their own armed drones to go after the militants, not just a dozen smaller, unarmed ones that Gates announced as gifts meant to placate Pakistan and induce its cooperation.

Pakistani journalists asked Gates if the US had plans to take over Pakistan’s nuclear weapons (Gates said no) and whether the US would expand the drone strikes farther south into Baluchistan, as is under discussion. Gates did not answer.

At the same time, the Pakistani army’s chief spokesman, addressing the media at the army headquarters in Rawalpindi on Thursday, rejected Gates’ assertion that Al Qaeda had links with militant groups on Pakistan’s border. Asked why the US would have such a view, the spokesman, curtly replied, “Ask the US.”

US officials say the real reason Pakistanis distinguish between the groups is that they are reluctant to go after those that they see as a future proxy against Indian interests in Afghanistan when the Americans leave. India is Pakistan’s archrival in the region.

“Dividing these individual extremist groups into individual pockets if you will is, in my view, a mistaken way to look at the challenge we all face,” Gates said.

His final message delivered, he relaxed on the 14-hour trip home by watching Seven Days in May, the Cold War-era film about an attempted military coup in the US.

©2010/The New York Times

http://www.livemint.com/2010/01/24222858/Gates-faces-flak-for-US8217.html

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Pak tunnels near border worry government

Sachin Parashar

25 January 2010

NEW DELHI: As the war of words between India and Pakistan reaches a crescendo, New Delhi has cause for fresh alarm, due to some of the activities being carried out across the border. Intelligence agencies in India have brought to the notice of the government that Pakistan has been frantically building up tunnels in areas not far from the border with India. ( Watch Video )

According to these inputs, the tunnels have been dug up in the Sargodha district of Pakistani Punjab and can even be noticed by, as a top intelligence officer put it, a discerning eye on Google satellite imagery. "An attempt is being made to establish the purpose of digging up such tunnels which are really big in size. These clearly can't be meant for transport as is obvious from the images available; unlike ordinary tunnels they don't lead on to roads," said the official who is involved in analysing the information.

Pakistan is well within its rights to carry out any construction work on its territory and Islamabad is known to have constructed storage sheds for missiles and weapons in Sargodha, a known nuclear installation, in the past. However, the sheer size of the tunnels and the fact that these don't seem to be leading on to roads have raised suspicion that these could be used to store nuclear weapons or missiles which are battle ready.

The official said Pakistan has been known to store some of its deadliest, but unassembled, missiles like the Chinese M-11 in a sub-depot near the central ammunition depot in Sargodha. It is also the place where Pakistan's nuclear capable F-16 aircraft are said to be stationed. Located on the west of Lahore, Sargodha has always been the hub of Pakistan air force and, in fact, is home to its central air command.

If what Pakistan is doing is just a precautionary measure, considering Sargodha is a sensitive nuclear facility under threat from the Taliban and other terrorists, this has not been communicated to India either by Islamabad or the US which is fast taking it upon itself to safeguard all nuclear facilities in the country. In fact, the first attack on a nuclear installation by terrorists in Pakistan took place in Sargodha in November 2007.

According to Indian officials, Pakistan in the past has used Sargodha to store M-11 missiles which had been delivered unassembled to it by China. However, the pace at which these tunnels are coming up suggests that, as the official put it, Pakistan is up to something. Sargodha is also the place which the Chinese are said to regularly visit to train the Pakistanis in handling weapons and missiles.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Pak-tunnels-near-border-worry-government/articleshow/5496241.cms

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Zardari rejects CJ’s pick, row intensifies

Shafqat Ali

 

 The presidency-judiciary row has intensified in Pakistan after President Asif Ali Zardari rejected Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammed Chaudhry’s recommendation for appointment of a judge in the Supreme Court.

The Chief Justice wants to elevate the second senior-most judge of the Lahore high court (LHC) to the top court but the President wishes to promote the incumbent chief justice of the LHC who is the senior-most judge in the high court.

"The most senior judge in the high court has to be elevated to the Supreme Court, unless found to be unsuitable by the Chief Justice of Pakistan for such elevation," says a statement of the ministry of law, justice and parliamentary affairs issued here. "The recommendation of the Chief Justice to appoint Justice Mian Saqib Nisar, senior judge of the Lahore high court as judge of the Supreme Court was duly considered by the Prime Minister and the President," the statement said, adding, "Justice Khw-aja Moham-med Sharif, Chief Justice of Lahore high court, is the most senior judge and therefore, it is his right to be elevated to the Supreme Court." "Keeping in view the lego-constitutional position, the PM has advised the President to request the Chief Justice to reconsider his recommendation, for making recommendation afresh for the elevation of most senior judge of the Lahore high co-urt to the Supreme Court," the statement added. "While accepting the advice of Prime Minister, the President has asked the Chief Justice to reconsider his earlier recommendation, so that most senior judge in the Lahore high court be appointed as judge of the SC," it said. The legal experts however, insist that there is no constitutional provision that the senior-most judge has to be elevated to the Supreme Court.

"The recommendation of the Chief Justice is important. The President should oblige his recommendations," a legal expert said.

Justice Chaudhry was twice sacked by former military ruler Pervez Musharraf in 2007 for his independent-minded decisions.

http://www.asianage.com/presentation/leftnavigation/news/international/zardari-rejects-cj%E2%80%99s-pick,-row-intensifies.aspx

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Living under fatwa for speaking her mind

Meenakshi Sinha

25 January 2010

NEW DELHI: For many years now, Dutch writer, activist and politician Ayaan Hirsi Ali has been living under the shadow of a fatwa issued by

Islamic fundamentalists and has received many death threats. Much to the surprise of many book lovers, the 40-year-old Somalia-born writer appeared for a special session at the Jaipur literature festival on Sunday.

Ayaan wrote the screenplay of Dutch director Theo Van Gogh’s movie, ‘Submission’, which was critical of Islam’s treatment of women. Van Gogh was consequently killed by a Muslim extremist in 2004. A letter pinned to his body with a knife contained death threats against her. ‘‘The murder of Theo made me realize how dangerous Islamic fundamentalism is,’’ she said.

The feminist writer discussed her memoirs, ‘Infidel’ (2006), offering a scathing critique of Islamic fundamentalism. She also spoke about her growing-up years and recalled the influence of 19th century writer Charles Dickens and narrated how the fictional character Nancy Drew shaped her formative years.

‘‘When I was 13-14, Nancy Drew as a young woman sleuth sowed the seeds of rebellion in me,’’ said Ayaan, who obtained asylum in the Netherlands in 1992 and later became a Dutch Member of Parliament. She is currently a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, a think tank, living in Washington under tight security.

During her extensive travels, Ayaan says she has observed that discussions on Islamic values become impossible with hardliners refusing to engage. ‘‘Militant Islam shuts down any criticism of the Quran. Be it in any language —- Chinese, Hindi, English —- even if you touch upon the Quran, all discussion ends with accusations of ‘traitor’ and ‘infidel’ hurled at you,’’ Ayaan explains. As a teen she supported the fatwa against writer Salman Rushdie for ‘Satanic Verses’. But in March 2006 she co-signed a letter entitled

“Manifesto: Together facing the new totalitarianism” where the most notable of the 11 other signatories was British writer Salman Rushdie.

In 2005 Ayaan was named one of the 100 most influential people in the world by Time magazine and has received several awards including Norway’s Human Rights Service Award, the Danish Freedom Prize and the Swedish Democracy Prize (2005).

The writer firmly denied American role in any bloodshed across the world calling it Arabian and Islamic countries’ in-house propaganda. ‘‘The idea that the US is conspiring against Islam is devised by vested interests such as Iran and Saudi Arabia because they resist the American demand for democratization, despite years of aid. In both Europe and the US there’s a fertile liberal ground to do anything,’’ she said.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Living-under-fatwa-for-speaking-her-mind/articleshow/5496461.cms

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Indian hijack warning made UK up terror alert

David Leppard

25 January 2010

Fears that Islamist terrorists plan to hijack an Indian passenger jet and crash it into a British city helped to prompt this weekend’s heightened

terror alert. MI5 was told by the Indian authorities early last week about a suspected plot by militants linked to al-Qaida in Pakistan to hijack an Air India or Indian Airlines flight from Mumbai or Delhi.

The warning, which came after the capture of a suspected Islamic leader, was contained in a detailed “threat assessment” sent to MI5 by the Indian Intelligence Bureau. It did not state that Britain was a specific target. But police security sources said it had raised fears in London that a British city might be attacked.

The warning revived long-running concerns following an al-Qaida plot in 2003 in which a hijacked aircraft was to be flown into Heathrow airport. That incident led Tony Blair, then prime minister, to make the largely symbolic move of dispatching armoured vehicles to guard the airport perimeter. sunday times london

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Indian-hijack-warning-made-UK-up-terror-alert/articleshow/5496417.cms

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Headley’s assets traced across Gulf, US & Pakistan

25 January 2010

MUMBAI: With investigators ready to file chargesheet in Headley-Rana case, security agencies have found that the American terror suspect had assets running into crores of rupees in Pakistan, the US and a Gulf nation.

There were indications that Headley was into the real estate business in a Gulf country as per documents procured by the security agencies and the National Investigation Agency, probing the role of Headley and his Pakistani-Canadian accomplice Tahawwur Rana.

According to sources privy to the investigations, the 49-year-old Headley owns palatial houses in Pakistan and the US besides flats in a Gulf country and vast estate land running into several crores of rupees.

The sources said the probe findings were an eye-opener as the investigators were trying to ascertain the financial transactions of Headley, who was arrested by the Federal Bureau of Investigation in Chicago last year.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Headleys-assets-traced-across-Gulf-US-Pakistan/articleshow/5496413.cms

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'I found bin Laden bride No. 5 as he planned 9/11'

Hala Jaber

25 January 2010

IBB (YEMEN): When Osama bin Laden decided to marry for the fifth time, he turned to his most trusted advisers to find him a bride.

He wanted a Yemeni girl, he told them. The marriage would cement his relationship with Yemen, his billionaire father’s home. Sheikh Rashad Ismael, a Yemeni aide, took up the challenge. “She had to be religious, obedient, generous, well brought-up, quiet, calm and young enough not to feel jealous of the sheikh’s (bin Laden’s) other wives,” he giggled. “Multiple wives tend to vie for attention out of jealousy and end up in catfights, and bin Laden did not want his new wife to get into such issues.”

The aide, also called Abual-Fida, knew just the girl in his home town of Ibb in Yemen. It was a year before the 9/11 attacks when he approached her family. He says he believed Amal al-Sadah, a civil servant’s daughter, aged 18, would make the perfect wife for the al-Qaida leader, who was 43.

“Even at her young age she was religious and spiritual enough and believed in the things that bin Laden — a very religious, pious and spiritual man — believed in,” he said.

“She was also someone who did not mind marrying a man as old as her father, and truly believed that being a dutiful and obedient wife would grant her a place in heaven.”

When Amal became pregnant, she remained in Kandahar, where Osama wanted her to have the baby at home. The child, a girl, was born within days of 9/11.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/uk/I-found-bin-Laden-bride-No-5-as-he-planned-9/11/articleshow/5496139.cms

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Ahmadinejad promises ‘good’ nuclear news on anniversary

Jan 24, 2010

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said on Sunday that Iran will declare “good news” concerning nuclear fuel plans when the nation marks the 31st anniversary of the Islamic revolution next month, local news agencies reported.

When asked by reporters about Iran’s deadline to the West over the nuclear fuel deal and when Tehran will produce 20 per cent enriched uranium, Ahmadinejad said: “During the 10 days of dawn (February 1 to 11), we will announce good news,” the Mehr news agency quoted him as saying.

The UN atomic watchdog has offered a proposal which sees the bulk of Iran’s low-enriched uranium being sent to Russia and France for further enrichment to 20 per cent level and then returned as fuel for a Tehran research reactor.

http://www.dailypioneer.com/231515/Ahmadinejad-promises-%E2%80%98good%E2%80%99-nuclear-news-on-anniversary.html

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Lack of sponsors delays Afghan parliamentary poll

Jan 24, 2010

Afghanistan on Sunday postponed parliamentary election until September due to lack of funding from donor nations after widespread fraud in last year’s presidential poll. The announcement came as President Hamid Karzai left for Turkey, the start of a tour that will include Berlin and London. Karzai will appeal for financial and other support for his Government. Another flawed election would erode support for Karzai’s Government at a time when he has pledged to battle corruption and improve services as fighting against the Taliban escalates.

Three US service members were killed in two separate bombings on Sunday in southern Afghanistan. That brings the number of American deaths in Afghanistan so far this month to 25, compared to 14 for the whole of January last year. The Independent Election Commission, whose chairman is appointed by the President, has said it needed about $50 million from the international community to pay for the parliamentary election, budgeted to cost $120 million.

That money has not come through in time to hold the vote as planned on May 22, according to commissioner Fazel Ahmed Manawi. He also attributed the delay to security concerns, logistical challenges and the need to improve the election process at a news conference to announce the decision.

The vote will be held on September 18 instead, Manawi said. The UN said the decision would allow time to prepare for the vote and to improve the electoral process based on lessons learned from past votes. “This would have been extremely difficult to do by the original date,” it said in a statement.

Canada’s ambassador to Afghanistan, William Crosbie, said it was important to address the deficiencies in the presidential election before holding another vote.

“We encourage the Afghan Government and the Independent Election Commission to set the necessary conditions for parliamentary elections that are credible, secure and inclusive,” he said in a statement.

http://www.dailypioneer.com/231519/Lack-of-sponsors-delays-Afghan-parliamentary-poll.html

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Indonesian mine shooting hurts 7

Jakarta (Indonesia)

Gunmen attacked a convoy near the world’s largest gold mine in Papua on Sunday, wounding at least seven persons, including a foreigner, Indonesian police said, the latest in a string of attacks on the US-owned mine. The convoy of two buses and four other vehicles of the mine operator Freeport were ambushed on Sunday morning as they traveled from the Grasberg mine to Kuala Kencana neighborhood in Timika town, said Papua police spokesman Col. Agus Rianto.

He said those wounded included an American, four policemen and two civilians — a worker and a girl. Freeport said in an e-mail statement from its Jakarta office that nine people were hurt in the ambush and three required hospitalisation but did not suffer life-threatening injuries. The other six were discharged after treatment of minor injuries. It said the incident died not affect operations at the mine. The company declined to comment on whether an American was among those wounded. Rianto said the American, whose left eye was hit by shrapnel, and two policemen were flown to the capital Jakarta for treatment. “Police and soldiers are hunting down the perpetrators who attacked the convoy from both sides of the road,” the police chief said.

The attack was the latest in a string of ambushes on the road linking the mine with Timika that have claimed eight lives since July 2009, including an Australian technician.

http://www.dailypioneer.com/231518/Indonesian-mine-shooting-hurts-7.html

 

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Somali refugees in Yemen’s focus

Atul Aneja

DUBAI: Somali refugees suspected of having links with an Al-Qaeda affiliate are under the scanner in Yemen at a time when Sana’a prepares for a major international conference scheduled in London on Wednesday.

The Yemeni establishment has been focusing on Somali migrants after Somalia’s Al Shabaab group pledged support in early January to the Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), operating from Yemeni soil.

“We take the threat seriously. Yemen is the only country to have welcomed Somali fugitives.

Problems

Today there are more than 8,00,000 of them here. But they have created economic and social problems, and now security concerns,” Yemen’s director of national security, Ali al-Anisi was quoted as saying.

Yemen has also reinforced surveillance around Somali refugee camps and is restricting the movement of Somalis.

The government is especially concerned about Somalis travelling to Shabwah and the oil rich Marib provinces, which are Al-Qaeda strongholds.

Analysts point out that support for Sana’a’s counterterrorism drive would be a major theme at the coming London conference on Yemen.

http://www.hindu.com/2010/01/25/stories/2010012556751700.htm

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Alert on border, longer hours, cancelled leaves for soldiers

Monday, Jan 25

ZERO LINE (IB) : BSF men guarding the international border may have thwarted most of the infiltration bids in recent months but that has not made life easy for them. It has, in fact, only become harder.

On high alert following the frequent bids, they have to remain on duty for 24 hours or more at a stretch and can’t go home as their leave applications have been cancelled.

Soldiers,who did not want to be named,told The Indian Express they were returning from duty along the concertina wire fenced border after three days. For three days, they could not even talk to their families as they have been told not to use mobile phones during duty hours. It was if they were “in a state of war”, they said.

With an increase in the number of infiltration bids in recent months, BSF has stationed permanent patrols along the border. Earlier, whenever there was a rise in infiltration attempts, BSF patrolled the border during night and between 6 am to 5 pm but the jawans were never stationed there. They would return to Observation Posts, to keep an eye out for any suspicious activity. However, since the beginning of this year, jawans have been put on naka duty during the day as well.

If that wasn’t trouble enough for the jawans, fog renders the night vision goggles and thermal imagers available with them almost useless. On most days, visibility remains poor till afternoon.

“In this situation, when terrorists are desperately making attempts to sneak into the Indian territory taking advantage of poor visibility, we cannot afford to leave our nakas even for a moment,” said a BSF officer at Kanachak Post.

This year so far, militants have made over a dozen attempts to infiltrate into Kanachak, R S Pura and Akhnoor.

http://www.indianexpress.com/news/alert-on-border-longer-hours-cancelled-leaves-for-soldiers/571334/

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Muslim Conference chief blames RAW for suicide attacks in PoK

Jan. 25, 2010

 The chief of Muslim Conference Sardar Atiq has blamed Indian intelligence agency RAW for its involvement in launching suicide attacks in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.

Addressing a program here, Sardar Atiq condemned what he said atrocities being unleashed by the Indian troops in Kashmir and urged the international community to completely boycott India, The News reports.

During the same program, Awami Ittehad chairman Saghir Chughtai announced the merger of his party with the Muslim Conference.

http://www.littleabout.com/news/61840,muslim-conference-chief-blames-raw-suicide-attacks-pok.html

URL of this Page: http://www.newageislam.com/islamic-world-news/padma-bhushan-for-aamir-khan/d/2418


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