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Islamic World News ( 14 Dec 2009, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Pak Taliban turn to Face book, YouTube to recruit militants

Why Christians do not have Equal Rights in Pakistan?

BJP's attitude towards Muslims of concern: Indian Home Minister P Chidambaram

Muslims construct Shiv temple in Bihar

Muslim scholar from Faizabad translates Bhagvad Gita into Urdu verses

Yemen: Osama Bin Laden's new base?

Malaysia court hearings start in Catholic Church’s fight against ban on ‘Allah’ translation

10 years seeking justice and end to violence against women in Indonesia

31 prisoners, including Islamist militants, escape in Philippine jailbreak

Poppy straw recovered in J&K

Pak officers working with jihadis, Headley confirms to FBI

 “Headley was in control room in Pakistan with 26/11 masterminds”

Drone attacks may be expanded in Pak

Malaysia hearings start in Catholic 'Allah' fight

Cop spoke to 26/11 handler on mobile phone

Hard-line Pakistani schools a draw for foreigners despite ban

Burned ayatollah photo sparks new Iranian protests

Now, even Hindu brides walk down the aisle

Israel okays millions of dollars in aid to West Bank settlements

Palestine will determine world’s fate: Ahmadinejad

Headley cooperating with FBI to avoid death penalty: report

War on Al-Qaeda inflames Afghanistan, Pakistan

OIC's Ihsanoglu Denounces Attack On West Bank Mosque

Four attacks before 9/11, 16 after

Westlaw Business to include AAOIFI Islamic finance standards

Taliban turn Afghans against ruling class

Pakistan Bars Deportation of Detained Americans

Pak terror suspects were cleared to work as security guards: Report

Netanyahu in dilemma over peace talks stopping construction in West Bank

Muslim United Liberation Tigers of Assam activist arrested

Women's rights advocates square off over status of Afghan women

No deportation for US 'jihadist' in Pakistan'

British hostage Peter Moore 'held by Iran', claims Iraqi MP

Sixteen Afghan policemen killed in attacks

Kashmir women 'were not murdered', says Indian report

Iran Says 3 Americans to Face Trial

There Is No War on Terror In the Obama White House: MICHAEL GOODWIN

Obama's popularity in Israel rises, slightly

Corporate American Media and Israel’s 2008-09 Gaza Invasion

Compiled By: New Age Islam News Bureau

URL of this page:,/d/2217


Pak Taliban turns to Facebook, YouTube to recruit militants

S Rajagopalan

December 14, 2009

Imagine the popular Internet sites of YouTube and Facebook being tapped by a fundamentalist outfit like the Pakistani Taliban to recruit and correspond with would-be militants.

Reports in the American media speak of a Pakistani Taliban recruiter who contacted the recently-arrested group of American Muslim youths on YouTube and exchanged coded e-mails to invite them to Pakistan and guide them on arrival.

It is another matter that the five prospective American jihadists failed to reach the appointed place and eventually ended up in police custody during a raid on the home of a Jaish-e-Mohammad activist in Sargodha.

“Online recruiting has exponentially increased, with Facebook, YouTube and the increasing sophistication of people online,” a high-ranking Department of Homeland Security official told The Washington Post.

It is unclear how widespread this ‘online recruitment’ is, but Evan Kohlmann, nior analyst with a private group that monitors extremist websites, has been quoted as saying: “Increasingly, recruiters are taking less prominent roles in mosques and community centers because places like that are under scrutiny. So what these guys are doing is turning to the Internet.”

Other reports from Islamabad, citing sources close to the FBI and Pakistani police investigators, also confirmed that the Pak Taliban recruiter, identified as ‘Saifullah’, connected with the five youths belonging to a Washington suburb on the YouTube and Facebook.

Saifullah, with links to Al Qaeda, established contact with one of the five, Ahmed Abdullah Minni, on YouTube in August after the youth apparently lauded the videos showing attacks on US forces. The recruiter exchanged coded e-mails over the next few months before handing them the invitation to Pakistan.

‘Saifullah was slated to received the youths at Mianwali town on the very day the group was nabbed in Sargodha in a police raid. From Mianwali, the youths were to be take to Waziristan for ‘terrorist training’ before proceeding on their ‘mission to martyrdom’ by joining the militants’ fight against American troops. Reports suggest that the mission also proved abortive for another reason: Al Qaeda and associates felt the youths may be a part of an inspired CIA sting operation.

Whatever the fate of this mission, US criminal investigators cited by the Post have acknowledged the unique challenges posed by the rowth of online recruiting for militant activities. According to them, the explosion of online communication makes it extraordinarily difficult to monitor. An added problem is said to be posed by limitations on tracking abilities because of constitutional and privacy considerations.


Why Christians have not Equal Rights in Pakistan?

By Javed Iqbal

December 14, 2009

All Pakistani Christians are raising their voices with unity for one goal: that they should have equal rights in Pakistan, except egotistical members into them. Today no one can deny that the Pakistani Christians are not enjoying equal rights according to the constitution of Pakistan. In spite of this some politicians and religious treacherous are claiming that Christians are enjoying full equal rights. Federal Minster Shabaz Bhatti has, with his views, infuriated the entire Christian community when he said in an interview with the Germen Ambassador and the German Federal Parliament Mrs. Marieluise in “International The News” on November 17, 2009 that minorities are enjoying full human equal rights. How he said insouciantly when Christians are suffering due to their faith and creed. So he was significantly discovered to be an imposter. Pakistan is a country where the majority of the population is Muslim and it is crystal clear according to past incidents that fundamental Muslims are endorsing their own faith by forcing conversion upon many. This forced conversion has now become a very common practice.

One of the problems that Christianity and other small non-Muslims groups deal with on a daily basis is kidnapping and rape of underage girls. These victims are, in many occasions, forced by Islamic extremists to convert from their religion and marry Muslim men. If many girls disagree then these extremists deliver death threats to their families. In many cases, a non-Muslim family faces dire consequences resulting in torture and death. In trepidation, a family reluctantly agrees to get their young daughter married to a Muslim man, wishing only for the safety of their family. As a majority of the country is Muslim, the Pakistani judiciary system protects these men in the name of Islam instead of bringing them to justice. Once a girl is declared as Muslim the parents of the girl are forbidden of having a relationship with her.

The nature of this situation is inhuman and merciless; therefore Pakistani Christians are extremely passionate to enlighten these issues which will in time impact Christians lives in countries like Pakistan. It is also important to note how ignorant some religious and political leaders are who turn a blind eye to the treatment of Christians in Pakistan. They claim being has the right to have? These religious and political inane figures mislead the international media, human rights organizations and the United Nation for their own personal gain.

This is the reason why Pakistani Christians can not be recognized as Ahmedi’s community recognize themselves. When an Ahmedi Muslim applies for an asylum on the basis of religion, the western countries never raise the question that Ahmedis have not a problem in Pakistan. However, Christians are not treated in the same way. If you wish to see your brothers and sisters, who are suffering from the blasphemy law in Pakistan, to be recognized like an Ahmedi’s Muslim, then you need to take a firm stand with against those leaders who are willing to lie and mislead for their personal benefits.

Javed Iqbal is President of Christian Social Link based in UK


BJP's attitude towards Muslims of concern: Chidambaram

December 14, 2009

New Delhi: Union Home Minister P Chidambaram on Monday attacked BJP saying its kinship towards Sikhs and not towards Muslims was a matter of "grave concern".

"BJP feels a kinship to the Sikh community, which it does not feel towards the Muslim community and that I think is a matter of grave concern," Chidambaram told reporters outside Parliament.

The statement came after Chidambaram had responded to a Calling Attention motion in Rajya Sabha on the progress of relief and steps taken to punish the guilty involved in the 1984 anti-Sikh riots.

There were frequent clashes between him and BJP member Vinay Katiyar during the debate.

Chidambaram told reporters," I think the last point I made stung them. I pointed out that you are, at least collectively, discussing Nanavati Commission report. But you did not allow such a debate on Liberhan Commission report."

He said while BJP members did not allow him to reply at all in Lok Sabha, there were numerous interruptions even in Rajya Sabha during the debate on Liberhan Commission report.

"One should feel kinship for all communities and whichever community suffers, all of us are collectively responsible...all of us have to collectively share the blame for inaction if any..., he said."


Muslims construct Shiv temple in Bihar

December 14, 2009

BEGUSARAI — In a rare example of communal harmony, Muslims are constructing a Hindu temple in a Bihar village. Three decades ago, Hindus constructed the tomb of a Muslim saint in the same village.

Mohammad Fakhrul Islam, a resident of Kadarabad village in Begusarai district donated about 2,700 sq ft land for construction of a Hindu temple. Two Muslim villagers, Mohammad Hashrat and Mohammad Wasi, along with other Muslims, began constructing the temple at Kadarabad ghat.

“Muslims have laid the foundation of the new temple dedicated to the Hindu god Shiva in the village,” Hashrat said.

“We will construct the temple to send a strong message of harmony,” Wasi said.

A police officer said some Muslims of the village are constructing the temple despite protests from within the community.

“A few people from within the community opposed them but they went ahead with the construction of the temple,” the officer said.

Islam said nearly 30 years ago, some Hindu villagers constructed the tomb of a Muslim saint in the same village.


Muslim scholar from Faizabad translates Bhagvad Gita into Urdu verses

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Jalalpuri is a lecturer of English literature at an intermediate college in Jalalpur in Faizabad district of Uttar Pradesh. The initiative is outstanding and if successful, according to the colleagues and members of academia, would be a great step in the direction of communal and ethnic harmony.

The author expressed displeasure about the mutual ignorance, which two communities harbour. The Gita is very popular book of Hindus. He wants to popularise the great epic to make it accessible in a much more pervasive medium --music.

Speaking to ANI Jalalpuri said: "We live in a diverse society where Muslims and Hindus have co-existed for centuries. But they are mutually unacquainted with the great scriptures of one another."

"I took up The Gita as I was of the opinion that it must be explained, read and analysed," he added.

Other academicians, colleagues and students of Jalalpuri appreciate the socio-cultural importance of the work, the poet has undertaken, which is unprecedented, in their view.


Yemen: Osama Bin Laden's new base?

The West must not take its eye off al-Qaeda.

14 Dec 2009

On his pre-Christmas visit to Afghanistan, Gordon Brown disclosed that about 1,500 improvised explosive devices have been detected and dismantled in the past six months, a stark indication of the deadly and unseen threats facing British soldiers. Mr Brown described Afghanistan's border regions as "the epicentre of global terrorism". Yet it is becoming apparent that this is no longer exclusively the case. NATO forces went into Afghanistan ostensibly to stop al-Qaeda using the country as a base to mount terror attacks against the West; yet there are growing signs that some of Osama bin Laden's jihadists have moved on and are regrouping in the Yemen. This runs two risks. First, that the war in Afghanistan becomes purely a fight with the Taliban and ignites the flames of Pashtun nationalism. Second, that the West takes its eye off al-Qaeda, which has reinvented and relocated itself several times in the past, notably when it left Sudan for Afghanistan in the mid 1990s.

In an interview with this newspaper, Lt Col Toby Gray, commanding officer of the Coldstream Guards, said a mission that was originally about containing and destroying al-Qaeda "has crept in the right direction of defeating the Taliban and rebuilding Afghanistan". It is questionable whether that is the right direction unless it is inextricably linked to the neutralisation of al-Qaeda. It is important that the Western allies do not lose sight of what the terror organisation is up to in Yemen, which also happens to be bin Laden's ancestral homeland. There are signs that al-Qaeda is using an insurgency by Huthi rebels on the Saudi Arabian border as cover to regroup and establish new training camps. Al-Qaeda operatives in Yemen are also backing Islamic rebels in Somalia. If there is "mission creep" in Afghanistan, we must not lose track of those we went to fight in the first place.


Malaysia court hearings start in Catholic Church’s fight against ban on ‘Allah’ translation

December 14th, 2009

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia — Lawyers for the Roman Catholic Church urged a court Monday to let Christians use “Allah” as a translation for God and overturn a government ban that has become a symbol of religious grievances in Muslim-majorityMalaysia.

The High Court began hearing legal arguments in the dispute, which began in late 2007 after the government blocked non-Muslims from translating God as “Allah” in their literature, saying it would confuse Muslims.

Authorities have insisted that Allah should be used exclusively by Muslims to refer to God, and its use by other religions would be misleading.

The ban mainly affects the Malay-language edition of the Catholic Church’s main publication in Malaysia, The Herald, which is read mostly by indigenous tribes who converted to Christianity decades ago.

“Our position has been made clear to the court,” The Herald’s editor, the Rev. Lawrence Andrew, told The Associated Press. “The main thing is we’ve been using this word … for a long time, for centuries.”

The Church’s lawyers told the court the ban was unconstitutional.

In recent years, authorities have seized some Malay-language Bibles that used “Allah.”

Nearly 60 percent of Malaysia’s 27 million people are ethnic Malay Muslims. One-third are ethnic Chinese or Indians, most of whom practice Buddhism, Christianity or Hinduism.

The minorities have often complained that their constitutional right to practice religion freely has come under threat from the Muslim-dominated government, which denies any discrimination. Other disputes in recent years have involved the demolition of Hindu temples illegally built on state-owned land.


10 years seeking justice and end to violence against women

Mon, 12/14/2009 4:29 PM  |  National

The year 2009 marks the 11th anniversary of the creation of the National Commission on Violence Against Women, which was established by former president B.J. Habibie because of the lack of an institution specially tasked with providing legal assistance for women victims of violence.

The commission commemorated recently in a ceremony its more than a decade of struggle against injustice and violence against women, on the sidelines of which commission chairwoman Kamala Chandrakirana shared the journey, obstacles and future challenges of the organization with The Jakarta Post's Erwida Maulia.

Here are the excerpts from the interview.

Question: What do you think the commission has achieved during more than 10 years of its journey in defending the rights of women in Indonesia?

Answer: One of most concrete achievements is perhaps how we've managed to build a comprehensive understanding on what are the forms of violence against women. They can experience violence inside their households, amid conflict situations, or when seeking a job.

And it is in the past 10 years we've been able to unravel bitter things experienced by women in the previous 32 years (the era of the New Order regime), during which there had been no room for victims to tell of what had happened. The political system at that time was hardly democratic.

We, for example, have been able to document violence and discrimination experienced by women in 1965. We've met women aged 70 years or more, who have kept their mouths shut for over 40 years and endured detention without legal process for more than a decade; not to mention the stigma attached to them right up to now.

And another example is what happened in East Timor. The history of violence and military domination in East Timor has had its own impacts on women. The same things occurred in other regions dubbed as the Military Operation Areas; violence against women was committed in the name of the nation.

During the process we've also successfully built a methodology to monitor acts of violence against women, as well as abuses to their rights. We've managed to build a system, create instruments and develop a monitoring concept integrating efforts to help them recover from violence and empowering them.

In what terms women can now begin to enjoy their rights, and in what terms do they still have a long way to go?

What has been improving for the past 10 years is that a growing number of stakeholders, either in the public or government institutions, have begun to create system providing assistance for women victims of violence, as well as educating the public to prevent other violent acts in the future. Various organizations and institutions with diverse backgrounds, such as from the religious communities and student groups, have taken the initiative to do so. This makes us so proud and boosts our spirits (to continue defending women's rights).

We still, however, have a lot of things to do in term of our engagement with politics in this era of democracy. We've experienced a number of elections, which have been recognized as open processes, but the open space provided by democracy has been used by those competing to earn positions in the government.

Many discriminatory policies against women have been justified in the guise of moves to advance social, religious or ethnic identity by politicians having secured strategic positions in state institutions. These policies deploy certain religious interpretations, but are in fact discriminatory against women and prompted by short term political interests. They use morality to justify new regulations. In the end not only women are victims, but also the rest of the nation because such policies are against our Constitution. And the issuance of these policies have created other problems.

And what are the examples of such policies?

The most dramatic and recent ones are bylaws produced in Aceh which have been issued in the name of the implementation of Islamic sharia. The Acehnese administration has produced forms of punishments not recognized in our national legal system, such as stoning and caning, which are controversial in Aceh. The bylaws, however, have been endorsed because there are many political interests involved.

Then there is also the criminalization of some forms of social behavior deemed to be in violation of certain religious laws, such as what is called khalwat, whereby an unmarried woman is considered to be too close together with men who are not their close relatives in private places. This is not a crime, but is criminalized and the perpetrators can face caning as punishment.

Another discriminatory policy, though not as dramatic, is that it is mandatory for female Muslim civil servants to wear Islamic attire, which has taken effect in 16 regencies/municipalities in seven provinces: Aceh, West Java, Banten, Central Java, West Nusa Tenggara, South Sulawesi and South Kalimantan. Although the majority of Indonesians are Muslims, there shouldn't be any policies violating individuals' rights to determine their identities.

These policies are among new problems emerging in the era of reform and democracy that would never have come about had the state apparatus understood and been committed to our Constitution.

So what do you think the government should do with such policies?

Firstly because we all live in a country named Indonesia, we are all bound to the social contract inscribed in the 1945 Constitution, one of whose main principles is nondiscrimination; equality before the law. Whether it is the central government or regional administrations, ordinary citizens or state apparatus, we all should always revert to the national Constitution. Neither special nor regular autonomy status and rules should contradict the national Constitution.

The central government has several roles to play in ensuring consistency between national laws and regional legal requirements. The Home Affairs Ministry, for example, can review bylaws before their endorsement, while the Supreme Court can revoke them had they been already issued through judicial reviews. The Constitutional Court can revoke discriminatory laws (at the national level, while the Justice and Human Rights Ministry is tasked with harmonizing all regulations and policies produced in Indonesia.

And what do you think are the future challenges for women?

In the future there are problems with our environment and economy, among others. This happens not only in Indonesia, but also at the global level. This demands women to be part of core decision-making forums.

If these forums are dominated by men, and have no women in substantial number with significant positions, then the outcomes produced will be effective only for half of the world's population. That would leave or create unsettled problems. So, in this context, the challenge for women is to become an integral part of leadership at both national and international levels to help solve the major problems faced by the world and our nation.


31 prisoners, including Islamist militants, escape in Philippine jailbreak

13 December 2009

ZAMBOANGA (Philippines): Thirty-one people, including Muslim guerrillas linked to beheadings, escaped in a jailbreak that left two people dead in

the strife-torn southern Philippines on Sunday, officials said.

One guard and an outsider assisting in the escape were killed in a brief gunbattle at the provincial jail on the island of Basilan before dawn, said regional police deputy director Senior Superintendent Rolando Purruganan.

Deputy provincial governor Al Rasheed Sakalahul said that Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) guerillas were likely behind the incident, as one of those freed was a MILF commander linked to the beheadings.

A MILF spokesman could not be contacted for comment on the accusation. If confirmed, this would amount to a violation of a ceasefire between the MILF and the government.

Over 100 outsiders took part in the jailbreak with some climbing ladders to shoot at jail guards while others broke into the jail and forced the cell doors open said Sakalahul.

They broke through a hole in the rear wall of the prison through which they fled into nearby forests, Purruganan added.

Two members of the separatist MILF who beheaded 10 of 14 Philippine Marines in an ambush in Basilan in July 2007 were amongst the escapees, the police official said.

Sakalahul also said that members of the Abu Sayyaf, a Muslim extremist group that is active in Basilan, were among those who escaped although he could not give details.

The Abu Sayyaf has been blamed for the worst terror attacks in Philippine history and intelligence agencies have linked it to the al-Qaeda network.

It still operates in the forests of Basilan -- last week the group beheaded one of three hostages and then abducted a school official on the island.


Poppy straw recovered in J&K

Srinagar: Police recovered 363 kgs of poppy straw in Pulwama district of South Kashmir on Sunday and arrested three persons, who were allegedly smuggling the contraband in a vehicle.

Police said Shamim Wani and Lateef Khan, both residents of Chadoora, and Nazir Ganie of Chrar-e-Sharief were arrested after their vehicle was intercepted at Tumchipora-Nowpora village, 32 kms from here.

They were allegedly smuggling poppy straw from Pulwama to Budgam district of Central Kashmir.


Pak officers working with jihadis, Headley confirms to FBI

Sachin Parashar, 14 December 2009,

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


 “Headley was in control room in Pakistan with 26/11 masterminds”

Headley frequently prompted LeT mastermind Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi: sources

He visited India nine times — eight times before 26/11 and once in March this year

Mumbai: American-born terror suspect David Headley not only played an active role in conducting reconnaissance of targets in Mumbai but was also present in a control unit in Pakistan along with the masterminds of the attacks to guide 10 Lashkar-e-Taiba terrorists in carrying out strikes in the megapolis.

Sources privy to the investigations of the terror suspect’s trail in India said 48-year-old Headley was present in the room from where the ten terrorists were being guided to various locations during the 26/11 attacks. The investigators revisited the intercepts and found that specific instructions were given to terrorists about entry and exit.

India has asked for Headley’s voice sample from the FBI to match with a voice unidentified so far that was giving information on the exact surroundings of the targets attacked by the LeT militants. However, there was no firm response from the FBI, the sources said.

The sources claimed that there were frequent promptings by Headley to LeT mastermind Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi from a room in Pakistan. Lakhvi, against whom the Interpol has issued a Red Corner Notice at the request of India, was in turn in touch with the terrorists attacking Mumbai.

Headley, who has visited India nine times — eight times before 26/11 and once in March this year — conducted recce of Nariman House, Taj Mahal hotel, Leopold Cafe, Chatrapati Shivaji Terminus and Oberoi-Trident hotels.

He conducted a detailed recce of Nariman House before the Mumbai carnage and even entered the targeted Jewish Centre posing as a Jew. National Investigation Agency (NIA) had recorded statements of witnesses who had either seen or accompanied Headley to Nariman House, also known as Chabbad House.

Six of the occupants, including Rabbi Gavriel Noach Holtzberg and his five-month pregnant wife Rivka, were killed by Lashker militants. The Rabbi’s two-year-old son, Moshe, was saved by his nanny Sandra Samuel.

The attack on the five-storey house, which can be approached only through narrow lanes and by-lanes of Colaba, had left the security agencies without any doubt that a proper recce had been conducted before the strike.

A proper communication had ensured that the terrorists were not confused within the by-lanes leading to the Nariman House, the sources said.

Headley used the service of many prominent individuals in the city to conduct a proper recce of the places which included the Bhaba Atomic Research Centre, Israeli Embassy in Cuffe Parade and Israeli airlines office located in the World Trade Centre. He stayed at the Oberoi for four days in April last year, even while staying as a paying guest in Mumbai and before that in Taj Mahal.

He later left India reportedly for Pakistan through a Gulf country. — PTI


Drone attacks may be expanded in Pak

December 14th, 2009

Senior US officials are pushing to expand CIA drone strikes beyond Pakistan's tribal region and into Quetta to pressurise Islamabad to pursue Taliban leaders based there, the Los Angeles Times reported on Monday.

The proposal has opened a contentious new front in the clandestine war, the daily said, with some administration officials wondering whether unmanned aircraft strikes in a city of 850,000 was a realistic option.

Proponents, including some military leaders, argue that attacking the Taliban in Quetta - or at least threatening to do so - is critical to the success of the revised war strategy President Barack Obama unveiled last week.

"If we don't do this, at least have a real discussion of it, Pakistan might not think we are serious," the Times cited an unnamed senior US official involved in war planning as saying.

"What the Pakistanis have to do is tell the Taliban that there is too much pressure from the US; we can't allow you to have sanctuary inside Pakistan anymore."

But others, including high-ranking US intelligence officials, have been more sceptical of employing drone attacks in a place that Pakistanis see as part of their country's core. Pakistani officials have warned that the fallout would be severe.

US and Pakistani officials cited by the Times stressed that the US has stopped short of issuing an ultimatum to Pakistan.

"It just doesn't make a whole lot of sense to use heavy-handed tactics when you've got this kind of relationship," said a US counter-terrorism official.

Pakistan is not expected to hand over Mullah Mohammed Omar, the Taliban leader and longtime ally of Osama bin Laden who fled Afghanistan when US forces invaded after the Sep 11, 2001 attacks. Omar is believed to have used Quetta as a base from which to orchestrate insurgent attacks in Afghanistan.

But US officials cited by the Times said they have presented Pakistan with a list of Taliban lieutenants and argued that, with a US pullout scheduled to begin in 18 months, the urgency of dismantling the so-called Quetta shura is greater than at any time in the eight-year-old war.


Malaysia hearings start in Catholic 'Allah' fight

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia — Lawyers for the Roman Catholic Church urged a court Monday to let Christians use "Allah" as a translation for God and overturn a government ban that has become a symbol of religious grievances in Muslim-majority Malaysia.

The High Court began hearing legal arguments in the dispute, which began in late 2007 after the government blocked non-Muslims from translating God as "Allah" in their literature, saying it would confuse Muslims.

Authorities have insisted that Allah should be used exclusively by Muslims to refer to God, and its use by other religions would be misleading.

The ban mainly affects the Malay-language edition of the Catholic Church's main publication in Malaysia, The Herald, which is read mostly by indigenous tribes who converted to Christianity decades ago.

"Our position has been made clear to the court," The Herald's editor, the Rev. Lawrence Andrew, told The Associated Press. "The main thing is we've been using this word ... for a long time, for centuries."

The Church's lawyers told the court the ban was unconstitutional.

In recent years, authorities have seized some Malay-language Bibles that used "Allah."

Nearly 60 percent of Malaysia's 27 million people are ethnic Malay Muslims. One-third are ethnic Chinese or Indians, most of whom practice Buddhism, Christianity or Hinduism.

The minorities have often complained that their constitutional right to practice religion freely has come under threat from the Muslim-dominated government, which denies any discrimination. Other disputes in recent years have involved the demolition of Hindu temples illegally built on state-owned land.

Copyright © 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.


Cop spoke to 26/11 handler on mobile phone

14 December 2009

MUMBAI: More than a year after the 26/11 Mumbai attack, it has come to light that a senior police officer tried to strike up a conversation with

the Pakistan-based terror handlers using the mobile phone of a terrorist at the Taj hotel.

The officer posed as a steward and spoke to one of the handlers on the night of November 26, in an attempt to gather information about the terrorists and their locations.

Another senior police officer confirmed the incident to TOI but refused to disclose details about how they had managed to home in on the mobile phone. ‘‘We were monitoring the situation and by then we knew about the terrorists being guided by their handlers.

Telephonic interceptions revealed that the calls were coming from abroad. One of the mobile phones was ringing continuously, which we answered,’’ the officer said. ‘‘There was panic following the firing at several places and bombs exploding in taxis at Wadi Bunder and near the domestic airport. By speaking to the handlers, we expected to get a grip on the enormity of the attack,’’ he added.

A source said that the senior officer identified himself as a steward to the handler and said that an injured terrorist had given him the phone and asked for further instructions. ‘‘The officer said that the terrorist was bleeding profusely and wanted him to speak to the handler. He spoke in Hindi but initially the person on the other end was not interested in giving any instructions,’’ the source said. The handler insisted that the ‘steward’ give the phone to the injured terrorist and asked for his location but the officer said that since firing was going on, it was not possible to get him to the phone. ‘‘At this, the handler directed the cop to pass on instructions to the terrorist to proceed towards the swimming pool and disconnected the call,’’ the source said.

The cops were taken aback by this instruction since it clearly showed that the attackers had detailed information about the inside of the hotel. Two of the terrorists had entered the Taj hotel from the rear entrance and fired at the guests, killing some of them.


Hard line Pakistani schools a draw for foreigners despite ban

By Chris Brummitt and Ashraf Khan

December 13, 2009

KARACHI, Pakistan — Anas bin Saleem, a 12-year-old American, spends seven hours a day sitting cross-legged on the floor memorizing the Quran.

He is one of thousands of foreigners who have flocked to conservative Islamic schools in Pakistan, despite a government ban, the Associated Press has found through interviews with officials, documents, visits to the schools and encounters with dozens of students.

Pakistan and foreign governments consider the international students a potential security threat. The students could export extremism back to their own countries, or stay and fight in Pakistan and neighboring Afghanistan, where the United States is battling a resurgent Taliban eight years after the invasion. Pakistan stopped granting student visas in 2005, but many students still arrive on travel visas and never leave when they expire.

In Anas' school, Jamia Binoria, several hundred students from 29 countries live alongside 5,000 Pakistani pupils, teachers said. Binoria is one of the largest schools in the country and one of at least four schools in Karachi with foreign students on its books.

Anas says he's not taught militant Islam at Binoria. But clerics firmly endorse suicide bombings and jihad against Western troops in Afghanistan on the school Web site, and Anas admits he is fed up with anti-American barbs from teachers and pupils.

"I get it like every second," says Anas, who left Louisiana last year with his Pakistani-born mother, barely spoke the national language when he arrived in Pakistan and misses Hannah Montana. "I'm like 'shut up' and don't talk like that."

Only a handful of the foreign students are Westerners; most are Asians and Africans in the late teens or early 20s. Many come to Pakistan for a cheap Islamic education, albeit a conservative one, part of a tradition of Muslims traveling to gain knowledge that goes back centuries.

But with Pakistan now a main global hub for al-Qaida and other militant groups, their presence in poorly regulated schools — many with links to extremist groups — inevitably raises concerns.

Full report at:



Burned ayatollah photo sparks new Iranian protests

AP 13 December 2009,

TEHRAN, Iran: Police surrounded the campus of Tehran University on Sunday, trapping hundreds of students protesting what they said were

fabricated government images showing the burning of a photo of the revered founder of the Islamic republic.

State television has repeatedly shown images, ostensibly taken during opposition protests on Dec. 7, of unidentified hands burning the picture of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, a grave and illegal insult against a man who remains widely respected in the country.

The students protesting on Sunday contend the images were fabricated by government agents and are being used to justify further crackdowns on the opposition.

Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, called for calm but indirectly accused the opposition of creating a hostile environment.

``Some have converted the election campaign into a campaign against the entire system,'' Khamenei said without naming any opposition leaders. ``We call on those who are angry to remain calm.''

Reformists, including former presidential candidate Mir Hossein Musavi, maintain that their supporters had nothing to do with the burning of the picture, which they say is being used by the regime to discredit the opposition.

The Dec. 7 rallies, the largest protests in months, did see numerous attacks on the current supreme leader of the country, Khamenei.

Students chanted slogans against him, burned and trampled his photos in unprecedented acts of defiance in a country where Khamenei has final say in all state matters.

Full report at:

Now, even Hindu brides walk down the aisle

Mansi Choksi, TNN 14 December 2009,

If the idea of a wedding reception invokes the image of an overdressed couple sweating on gaudy medieval thrones with fake smiles firmly in

New wedding style

New age fusion wedding. (TOI Photo)

place, we hope it’s sepia-toned. The upper-crust urban reception, which had long moved off the wobbly stage, has now evolved further—chhas has been nudged out by champagne, shehnai is getting remixed with Shakira, and saptapadi is preceded by a walk down the aisle.

Welcome to the new age fusion wedding, where Indian rituals are blended with western and Bollywood’s been partially nudged out by Hollywood.

“The big fat Hindu wedding should now be christened the big fat fusion wedding,’’ says Meghna Chitalia, owner of Party Planet, a wedding planning agency. In one such wedding that Chitalia helped organise for an “affluent and typical Gujarati family’’, an “English dinner’’ was hosted after the dandiya function.

The desi best man and maid of honour, both dressed in coordinated traditional Indian wear, made speeches and raised a toast to the couple as aunties and uncles grinned behind clusters of flowers on assigned tables. “The last few phera mantras were translated into English on the microphone by the pandit and the couple even exchanged ‘I do’s’,” says the wedding planner.

At another wedding, the bride made a grand entry into the mandap with a Yash Chopra song playing for ambience as close family members in coordinated sarees and shervanis walked her down the ‘aisle’ (the aisle walk, often, is even done to a Hollywood romantic number).

Another recent shaadi organised by wedding planners Sneha Tejwani and Dipa Sheth saw a Bolly-Holly khichdi: during a cocktail function, the couple made a bhangra entry (believe it) surrounded by traditional dancers while the sangeet had a rap sequence and wedding rings were brought in dolis to be exchanged by the couple after the pheras.

Full report at:


Israel okays millions of dollars in aid to West Bank settlements

13 December 2009

JERUSALEM: The Israeli cabinet on Sunday approved listing some Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank as "national priority zones,"

entitling the communities to millions of dollars of extra state funding.

The decision is certain to stir furore as it comes just weeks after Israel instituted a 10-month moratorium on new building permits in the settlements after months of US pressure.

The cabinet voted to approve a proposal to include settlements in the list of communities designated as national priority zones, which entitles them to credits worth USD 41 million (28 million euros), a government official told AFP.

The cabinet had been expected to approve the proposal during its morning session, but put off the vote amid disagreements over which communities inside Israel should be included on the list.

Defence Minister and Labour chief Ehud Barak, for example, was insisting that the coastal city of Ashkelon, a bastion of support for his centre-left party, be included, public radio reported.

In its vote, the cabinet also decided to create a commission that will decide within 30 days on whether to include Askhelon and other communities on the list, the official said.

The new credits will benefit 110,000 settlers and can be used for vocational training programmes and other educational or cultural activities.


Palestine will determine world’s fate: Ahmadinejad

TEHRAN - Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad says the Palestine issue will determine the fate of the entire world.

At a meeting with Hamas Political Bureau chief Khaled Meshaal in Tehran on Sunday, Ahmadinejad said it is essential that all Muslim and free nations support the Palestinian resistance and Iran will always stand beside the resistance and the oppressed people of Palestine.

He went on to say that Palestine is the frontline of the global resistance against the global arrogance and international hegemony.

He called faith in God and resistance the keys to overcome the international hegemonic system, adding that the Zionist regime’s acts of savagery and the U.S. deceptions will not be able to save this system.

The defeat in the wars against Lebanon and the Gaza Strip, the United States’ inability to restore its reputation after U.S. President Barack Obama came to power, and the failures in Iraq and Afghanistan are some of the defeats that the arrogant powers, the U.S. and Israel in particular, have suffered in recent years, the Iranian president said.

Meshaal said the firm positions Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei, the Iranian president, and the Iranian nation adopted on various international issues set an example for all nations and governments.

Meshaal also briefed Ahmadinejad on the latest developments in Palestine


Headley cooperating with FBI to avoid death penalty: report

Press Trust Of India

Washington, December 14, 2009

Pakistani-origin US national David Coleman Headley, a LeT operative charged with criminal conspiracy in the 26/11 terror attacks, now appears to have turned into informant to FBI to avoid death penalty.

Headley, 49, was arrested on October 3 by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and has been charged for being involved in the Mumbai terror attacks, in which 166 people, including six US nationals, were killed.

Given the strong case against him, Headley is unlikely to come out of the jail and faces death penalty.

"But by talking this time, Headley might escape the death penalty," Philadelphia Inquirer said.

However, Headley, with the experience of having been informant to federal prosecutors at least twice as a result of which his sentence was reduced, has again turned out an informant this time so as to avoid death penalty.

The FBI chargesheet filed against Headley gives an indication of it, in which the federal prosecutors say that he is cooperating in the investigation.

He has pleaded not guilty.

Court records indicate that Headley, earlier known as Dawood Gilani, was arrested twice on drug charges and on both the occasions, his sentence was reduced and was able to leave the jail early as he turned out to be a good informant to the drug enforcement agencies and helped them in unearthing of some of the major drug cartels.


War on Al-Qaeda inflames Afghanistan, Pakistan

By Jennie Matthew (AFP)

KABUL — After a year of soaring violence and weakening government control in Afghanistan and Pakistan, a flagship US strategy aimed at ending the war against Al-Qaeda ushers in a 2010 fraught with peril.

Violence is at an all-time high since US-led troops invaded Afghanistan more than eight years ago to unseat the Taliban and destroy Al-Qaeda's sanctuary, now reputed to lie in the border areas of nuclear-armed Pakistan.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai has emerged tarnished after his August re-election was mired in massive fraud while the civilian government in Pakistan, once a bright hope for regional stability, is flailing.

President Barack Obama has expanded the war, this year ordering the deployment of over 50,000 extra troops to Afghanistan and pressuring Pakistan to do more to fight militants or reportedly risk more drone attacks and special forces raids.

He has narrowed his objectives to denying Al-Qaeda a safe haven, preventing the Taliban from overthrowing the Kabul government, and training Afghan forces and authorities to take responsibility, but the challenge ahead is immense.

Washington has identified the Afghan-Pakistani border as the "epicentre of violent extremism," Al-Qaeda's chief sanctuary, the most dangerous place on earth and the presumed hideout of Osama bin Laden.

The Taliban are said to have a significant presence across virtually all Afghanistan and commanders warn that more troops will spell more violence at least in the short-term, with NATO and US forces set to rise to 150,000.

In impoverished Afghanistan, civilian casualties were up 24 percent during the first six months of this year to 1,013 compared to the same period in 2008, according to UN statistics.

The independent says 491 foreign soldiers have died so far this year in Afghanistan, up 66 percent from 2008 and more than three times the number killed in Iraq in 2009.

Islamabad, which US officials still suspect of sponsoring Islamist radicals to counter India, has been dragged into a war with Taliban guerrillas whose response to the US-Pakistani alliance has been a 29-month bombing campaign.

Militant attacks in Pakistan have killed at least 1,150 people this year, up 26 percent on 2008, according to an AFP tally.

Full report at:


OIC's Ihsanoglu Denounces Attack On West Bank Mosque

DUBAI, Dec 13 (Bernama) -- Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC) secretary-general Professor Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu has denounced the aggression by Israeli extremist settlers against a mosque in Yasuf village in the occupied West Bank.

He said the profanation of the mosque, the torching of Quran copies found in it and the spraying of racist graffiti against Islam and Muslims, represented a blatant aggression against the sanctity of sacred places.

"This aggression confirms the urgent need for the international community to intervene in order to compel Israel to put an end to its aggressions," he said in a statement issued in Jeddah where the OIC is based.

The secretary-general said Israel must also be compelled to comply with the stipulations of international law and the Geneva Convention.

Media reports said assailants vandalised the mosque in the village of Yasuf in the northern West Bank early Friday morning.

They burned prayer carpets and holy books and left behind Hebrew graffiti, indicating that the rampage was the work of settlers angry over the government's plan to curb settlement construction.


Four attacks before 9/11, 16 after

By: Kashif Ali Abbasi

 December 14, 2009

ISLAMABAD – Though the 9/11 tragedy occurred 8 years ago, Pakistan is paying well beyond its capacity to fight a war that was started by the US following September 11 attacks.

Retaliating to the attacks by launching the war on terrorism, the US along with its allies invaded Afghanistan to depose the Taliban who reportedly had links with Al-Qaeda, the group allegedly responsible for launching the attacks on significant buildings in the US including the World Trade Centre on September 11, 2001.

American troops landed on Afghan soil in order to crush the Taliban and Al-Qaeda, and Afghanistan and Pakistan have been badly affected since then. Pakistan stood by America - willingly or by force - and the US and its allied forces started a grand operation against the militants.

In response to this operation, the miscreants started targeting Pakistan. The Taliban accused the Pakistani Government of assisting NATO forces in order to carry out bombings on seminaries apart from providing logistical support. Hence the Taliban carried out several suicide attacks in Pakistan, but the top leadership of Taliban always denied conducting such attacks. Some militants even blamed the media of implicating Mujahideen in suicide attacks in Pakistan where thousands of innocent people have been killed and wounded. Even the top leadership of Al-Qaeda has condemned suicide attacks on Muslims.

Moreover, the US and its allied forces not only remained in Afghanistan but also entered Pakistan by violating Pakistani laws and carrying drone attacks inside the Pakistan, killing several innocent people and apart from some militants. Thus, it has become increasingly difficult for Pakistan to differentiate between its friends and enemies.

Full report at:


Westlaw Business to include AAOIFI Islamic finance standards

December 13, 2009

INTERNATIONAL. Westlaw Business, part of Thomson Reuters, and the Accounting and Auditing Organization for Islamic Financial Institutions (AAOIFI) today announced their agreement to provide current standards and other Islamic finance industry information for global business law professionals within the Westlaw Business Islamic Finance Centre.

“AAOIFI is a thought leader in the development of international standards applicable to Islamic financial institutions,” said Kevin Ritchey, senior vice president, Westlaw Business.

“We are pleased to provide this exclusive information within the Islamic Finance Centre of Westlaw Business, ensuring business lawyers are confident they have the background and guidance they need for structuring Sharia-compliant transactions.”

AAOIFI helps address issues that determine whether certain transactions or activities are compliant with Sharia laws and this information is essential in providing practitioners with the insights necessary to successfully structure transactions.

AAOIFI standards are developed in consultation with leading Sharia scholars and experts in the field of banking, insurance, economics, law and asset management, thereby contributing to the professional development of the industry.

AAOIFI provides accounting, auditing, governance, ethics and Sharia standards for the Islamic finance industry as well as professional qualification courses for certified Islamic professional accountants and certified Sharia advisers and auditors.

AAOIFI members include central banks, Islamic financial institutions, and other Islamic finance industry leaders from around the world.

Full report at:


Taliban turn Afghans against ruling class

London 14 December 2009

Taliban insurgents who have infiltrated Kabul are nailing “night letters” to the doors of policemen, soldiers and government workers, warning

them to leave their jobs or face punishment.

The militants are being welcomed in the Afghan capital’s poorer areas among inhabitants who are disaffected with corruption, and who supply them with food, cash and weapons.

Safe houses and bomb-making workshops have begun to appear in run-down districts close to the city centre as the militants increase their presence and plot attacks on prominent local targets.

“They know who we are, where we live and what we do,” said Dr Ehsan Anwari, who used to work as an Afghan army medic and now runs a clinic in Company district, where Highway One, the main road from Kandahar to the south, enters the capital. “Whenever we hear shooting we think that the Taliban are taking over the district by force. We are afraid.”

Described by one police officer as a den of vice, Company district is a warren of tightly packed, single- storey houses and mud-caked, narrow streets. Last month, the Taliban tried to blow up the house of Anwari’s brother, a police officer, by pouring petrol through his front gate. The policeman grabbed his gun and opened fire. His attackers fled but he found mortar rounds, explosives and ammunition by the gate.

“We reported it but the police are too afraid to come into these streets at night because of the Taliban here,” Anwari said.

Earlier this year, the Taliban had assassinated two army colonels as they walked through the Company district to work. The killings forced several government officials to leave the area in fear of their lives.

Local inhabitants said last week that they supported the Taliban because the police had failed to crack down on criminal gangs smuggling drugs, running prostitution rackets and kidnapping businessmen.

Last month in Wardak, a Taliban-controlled province just south of Kabul, the insurgents captured four men accused of kidnapping the son of a wealthy Kabul tea merchant.

The mounting collaboration between Kabul’s disaffected residents and the Taliban mirrors the hardline Islamic regime’s rise to power in the mid-1990s, when warlordism, corruption, violence and crime gripped

the country during the civil war.


Pakistan Bars Deportation of Detained Americans


Published: December 14, 2009

A Taliban recruiter first made contact with five young American Muslims from Virginia arrested in Pakistan last week after one of the men, Ahmed Abdullah Minni, repeatedly posted comments on YouTube praising videos showing attacks on American troops, according to a Pakistani police report.

The report, by a police investigator who questioned the five Americans, said the YouTube postings by Mr. Minni, 20, “became a regular feature” and led the recruiter, a militant known as Saifullah, to send Mr. Minni messages.

The new details regarding Mr. Minni’s alleged Web postings only added to the sense of shock for many who knew him and the other four now accused of traveling to Pakistan to try to join the fight against American forces in Afghanistan.

Just last year, as a member of the wrestling team at West Potomac High School in Virginia, Mr. Minni did not seem the least bit alienated or disaffected, said his wrestling coach, Casey Grubbs.

Mr. Grubbs called Mr. Minni a friendly, hardworking competitor who wrestled his way into the regional tournament in the 130-pound category. “Thinking about him, he would be one of the last people I would put on that list of dangerous people,” Mr. Grubbs said.

In Pakistan, both F.B.I. agents and officers of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence were questioning the men, American citizens who range in age from 18 to 24. Pakistani officials, who are trying to track down the recruiter known as Saifullah, have sent mixed signals about whether the Americans will be deported or held for further questioning. The five have not been charged with a crime.

On Monday, the Lahore High Court barred the government from deporting the five Americans until judges review the case. The court gave the Punjab authorities until December 17 to provide a detailed report on the arrests.

The interrogation report, written by a Pakistani police official, Abbas Majeed Khan Marwat, and first obtained by ABC News, said the five men “had deep interest in the religion and they were of the opinion that a jihad must be waged against the infidels for the atrocities committed by them against Muslims around the world.”

After Saifullah first made contact with Mr. Minni via comments on YouTube, he exchanged messages with them by leaving draft e-mail messages at a shared Yahoo address. Militants have often used the to reduce the chance that intelligence agencies will intercept messages.

Full report at:


Pak terror suspects were cleared to work as security guards: Report

Prasun Sonwalkar

December 14, 2009

Ten Pakistani students, whose arrest on charges of planning bombings in Manchester triggered a diplomatic spat early this year, had been granted permission by the Home Office to work as security guards in Britain.

The Pakistani students, who were never charged for lack of evidence, were arrested by MI5 in multiple raids on charges of planning to blow up a shopping centre and a nightclub in Manchester, the Sunday Times reported on Sunday.

Police believed they had conducted ‘hostile reconnaissance’ of the Arndale and Trafford shopping centres and the Birdcage nightclub in the industrial city Manchester.

It has now emerged that in the months before the alleged plot, the men were given licences to work as security guards by the Security Industry Authority, a Home Office body that regulates the private security industry, the paper said.

The 10 had passed a vetting programme designed to bar criminals and undesirables from taking up sensitive security posts protecting airports, ports and Whitehall buildings from terrorist attack.

When arrested, two of the students were working for a cargo firm which had access to secure areas at Manchester airport. Foreign migrants do not need to have their applications counter-signed by a British referee. Officials privately admit they do not even attempt to make checks on applicants’ address histories in Pakistan, the Sunday Times reported.

The suspects, aged 22 to 38, reportedly arrived in Britain on student visas in 2007 and 2008. Their visas allowed them to work in paid employment for up to 20 hours a week. Because they had successfully applied for SIA permits, they were able to get work as security guards.

Full report at:


Netanyahu in dilemma over peace talks stopping construction in West Bank

Steven Gutkin/Amy Teibel

December 14, 2009

From this Jewish settlement in the West Bank, calls are mounting for Israeli soldiers to cross a sacred line and defy orders to enforce a slowdown of Israeli construction on lands claimed by Palestinians.

Anxious to preserve the Army’s role as the country’s great unifier, Israeli authorities have jailed defiant soldiers, issued stern warnings to rebellious rabbis and recommended expelsion of one seminary from a programme combining religious study and military service.

Though still on the fringes, the call for defiance points to the dilemma Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu faces in trying to mollify the Obama Administration and draw Palestinians back to peace talks by curtailing new settlement building in the West Bank for 10 months.

The Palestinians have not been lured. For them, the real issue is the half million Jewish settlers already living in the West Bank and east Jerusalem, their expanding towns and villages eating away at the Palestinian dream of an independent State.

Palestinians and international critics are skeptical about Netanyahu’s freeze, noting that work will continue on some 3,000 apartments and houses already approved, and proceed unimpeded in east Jerusalem, where Palestinians hope to have their future capital.

But the settlers worry that it’s the first step toward eventual eviction.

Some have destroyed Palestinian property, blocked inspectors from enforcing the building curbs and rallied 10,000 protesters outside Netanyahu’s Jerusalem home last week. The settlers are also raising money to build more homes.

Full report at:



Muslim United Liberation Tigers of Assam activist arrested

December 14, 2009

Shillong: An activist of the Muslim United Liberation Tigers of Assam (MULTA) was caught by the BSF on the border in Assam's Dhubri district.

Kashim Ali, suspected to be involved in a fake currency racket and other anti-national activities, was held yesterday, an official statement said.

A pistol and five bullets were seized from him.


Women's rights advocates square off over status of Afghan women

By Allison Cross

December 13, 2009

Women's rights groups in Canada and the United States are butting heads over the planned withdrawal of NATO troops from Afghanistan, and whether it will benefit the women of the war-torn country or will simply intensify their pain and suffering.

Some advocates have come forward to express their support for a continued military presence - a departure from the anti-war stance often expressed by feminist groups.

``This is not an issue of security for the United States and Canada. We have 15 million women in (Afghanistan). If they are not secured, there will be a humanitarian catastrophe of immense proportions. It will be a terrible mistake and these countries will live to regret it,'' said Esther Hyneman, a board member for the New York-based group Women for Afghan Women.

The group, which runs guidance and children's centres in three regions of Afghanistan, has previously called for an increase in the number of U.S. troops and an extension of their mission. Without it, Hyneman says, she believes the country will fall easily back into the hands of the Taliban, which will destroy any progress made in improving the lives of women.

The planned withdrawal of Canadian troops from Afghanistan is set for 2011. U.S. President Barack Obama announced earlier this month he would inject 300, 000 more troops into the country before also initiating a pullout at the same time as Canada.

``We would have to pull out (of the country) too,'' Hyneman said. ``Our local staff, about 100 local Afghans, will be in serious danger. I don't know how they'll protect themselves if these cities and provinces fall to the Taliban.''

A Canadian military presence helps maintain a level of security that gives organizations the freedom to operate schools and increase access to health care, said Lauryn Oates.

``In essence, we think the military should definitely be there,'' said Oates, a program director for Canadian Women for Women in Afghanistan. ``If there are no international troops, there would be a civil war on a much bloodier scale than what we're seeing now.''

A toppling of the Afghan government could see women return to the conditions they experienced under the Taliban in the 1990s, Oates said, which included a ban on women working outside the home, a ban on education for girls and forced marriages.

Full report at:


‘No deportation for US 'jihadist' in Pakistan'

14 Dec 2009

ISLAMABAD: A Pakistani court Monday blocked the repatriation of five American Muslims arrested on suspicion of plotting terrorist attacks last week, a lawyer said.

The high court in the eastern city of Lahore asked the interior ministry and other relevant authorities to submit a report on the detentions Dec 17, said attorney Khalid Khwaja, a rights activist who filed a petition on his own initiative.

"We had requested in our petition that since these five men were detained in Pakistan under Pakistani law, so they should be tried under Pakistani laws and, if found guilty, must be given sentence in Pakistan," Khwaja said.

The five men in their 20s from the US state of Virginia were arrested in Sargodha, about 160 km west of Lahore, days after they travelled to Pakistan in a group.

One of the suspects left behind a videotape that appeared to be a farewell statement, accompanied by references to the conflict between the West and the Muslim world.

Pakistani investigators alleged that the five university students were planning to participate in jihad in Afghanistan, and were trying to contact militant outfits for basic training in Pakistan's restive tribal region near the Afghan border.

Interior minister Rehman Malik hinted over the weekend that the country might extradite the five men to the US, if they were found not guilty of violating any Pakistani law.

The US nationals - of Pakistani, Egyptian, Yemeni and Eritrean origin - were questioned by officials of the US Federal Bureau of Investigation and the US embassy in Islamabad.


British hostage Peter Moore 'held by Iran', claims Iraqi MP

By Damien McElroy

14 Dec 2009

An Iraqi MP has claimed Peter Moore, the British hostage snatched from the finance ministry in Baghdad two years ago, is now being held in Iran by the elite Revolutionary Guard.

Jamal Aldin claimed Peter Moore, a computer expert seized along with four British security contractors, is in the hands of a general in the Guard. "I understand from good sources he has been moved in and out of Iran," said Mr Aldin.

While the four guards are feared to be dead, Gordon Brown has said he believes that Mr Moore is still alive

Mr Aldin claimed General Qassim Sulaimani, the head of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps IRGC, now controlled the fate of Mr Moore, who was kidnapped by Shia militiamen posing as police officers.

''General Sulaimani ­effectively controls the revolutionary guard in Iraq who have Mr Moore," he said.

The centrist Iraqi politician who was born in the Iraqi holy city of Najaf, which has close links with Iran's Shia Muslims, has campaigned against Iranian influence in Iraq.

He said David Miliband, the Foreign Secretary, should raise Mr Moore's plight with Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. British officials have privately cast doubt on Mr Moore's continued survival.

"The ­revolutionary guard have ­absolute control of him," said Mr Aldin. "Nobody knows exactly where he is but I am sure he's been in Tehran."

Mr Aldin warned the Iraqi government was incapable of securing Mr Moore's freedom because it was under the control of Iran. "The real danger in Iraq is Iran. It controls Iraq with a firm fist," he said.

"The Iranian regime will continue to be a problem with a nuclear weapon or not, with interference in Iraq or not.

"The problem is that the regime believes it represents God. If this goes unchecked, its influence will extend to Morocco."


Sixteen Afghan policemen killed in attacks

14 December 2009

At least 16 policemen have been killed by suspected militants in two separate attacks in Afghanistan, officials say.

Gunmen attacked police posts in Baghlan province in the north and in Helmand province in the south. Eight policemen died in each attack.

The police in Afghanistan have often been targets of militants and have suffered much heavier casualties than foreign troops.

Separately, the top US military officer arrived in Afghanistan for talks.

Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm Mike Mullen is expected to hold a series of meetings with government officials.

Adm Mullen's visit comes even as the first of 30,000 American troops are getting ready to arrive in Afghanistan.


One report said that two militants were also killed in the incident in Baghlan early on Monday.

The attack occurred on a main highway from the capital, Kabul.

"The policemen who were killed in the attack were on duty to provide security for the military convoys and local people in the main highway in Baghlan province," provincial governor Mohammad Akbar Barakzai told the Associated Press.

At about the same time a police checkpoint was attacked in Lashkar Gah, the capital of Helmand province.

At least 1,000 police are reported to have been killed last year alone.


Kashmir women 'were not murdered', says Indian report

14 December 2009

Two Kashmiri women whose deaths sparked protests were not raped or murdered, Indian investigators have concluded.

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) told the high court in Srinagar in Indian-administered Kashmir that the women drowned in a canal.

The families of the women told the court that the CBI had hushed up the case to protect the guilty.

The CBI took over the case in the summer after state authorities admitted the women had been raped and murdered.

The discovery of the women's bodies in May led to weeks of violent protests by locals who blamed security forces for the deaths.

Police 'cleared'

The bodies of the women were exhumed in September by the CBI in a fresh attempt to determine what happened to them.

In its report presented to the high court on Monday, the CBI accused 13 people, including six doctors, five lawyers and two civilians, of fabricating a false case.

The CBI report says the doctors gave false post-mortem reports and sent slides for DNA examination that had been tampered with.

However, the investigating agency absolved four police officers who had earlier been arrested on charges of destroying evidence.

The report said the allegations against them were not substantiated.

Relatives of the two women and campaigners accused the CBI of trying to protect the guilty.

The CBI had not recorded vital information provided by the relatives of the two women, they told the high court.


The bodies of Neelofar Jan, 22, and her 17-year-old sister-in-law, Ayesha, were found in a canal in the town of Shopian on 30 May.

The women had gone missing the previous evening.

Local residents said they had been raped and murdered either by police or paramilitary forces.

Full report at:


Iran Says 3 Americans to Face Trial


Published: December 14, 2009

LONDON — As tensions build between Washington and Tehran, the Iranian foreign minister said Monday that three Americans arrested in July after crossing the border from northern Iraq would be tried but did not specify the charges, according to news reports.

The minister, Manouchehr Mottaki, told a news conference in Tehran that the three had “entered Iran with suspicious aims. The judiciary will try them.”

Reuters quoted him as saying “relevant sentences” would be handed down.

His remarks offered the clearest official indication that the three Americans would face trial after an Iranian state news agency reported last month that they have been accused of espionage — a charge that can carry the death sentence in Iran.

A trial would add one more layer of complexity and mistrust to the relationship between the United States and Iran, already deeply strained over Iran’s nuclear program.

In late November, the Tehran prosecutor told Iran’s official IRNA news agency that authorities were pursuing espionage charges against the Americans — Shane M. Bauer, 27, of Emeryville, Calif.; Joshua F. Fattal, 27, of Cottage Grove, Ore.; and Sarah E. Shourd, 31, of Oakland, Calif.

Washington has repeatedly urged Iran to release them, saying they are innocent hikers who trekked off course and strayed into Iran from Iraq’s northern Kurdish-speaking region.

In November, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said: “We believe strongly that there is no evidence to support any charge whatsoever. And we would renew our request on behalf of these three young people and their families that the Iranian government exercise compassion and release them so they can return home.”

Full report at:


There Is No War on Terror In the Obama White House

December 14, 2009

By Michael Goodwin

President Obama's goal of integrating Muslim nations into the global community will not succeed until he proves he is willing to defeat Islamic terrorism.

There was much to like in President Obama's Nobel Peace Prize speech, including admitting his achievements are "slight" and others are more deserving. Candor becomes him.

Other welcome passages defended the "just war" in Afghanistan and sang the praises of America as a peacemaker in ways that contradict his misbegotten apologies.

Whether these sentiments are one-offs or herald a new and improved Obama remains to be seen.

For me, the most important part of the speech came in the one paragraph where he invoked two Republican predecessors as models for international engagement. It's got to be driving the lefties nuts, both in Europe-istan and at home.

"In light of the Cultural Revolution's horrors, [Richard] Nixon's meeting with Mao appeared inexcusable -- and yet it surely helped set China on a path where millions of its citizens have been lifted from poverty and connected to open societies," Obama said. And later: "Ronald Reagan's efforts on arms control and embrace of perestroikanot only improved relations with the Soviet Union, but empowered dissidents throughout Eastern Europe."

The examples are glib, but intriguing if Obama intends to practice what he preaches. Nixon and Reagan were able to engage the communist powers after first earning reputations as fierce anti-communists. Because they were committed Cold Warriors, they could make lasting peace.

For Obama, the equivalent means his goal of integrating Muslim nations into the global community will not succeed until he proves he is willing to defeat Islamic terrorism.

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Obama's popularity in Israel rises, slightly

December 14, 2009

A new public opinion poll shows that US President Barack Obama's popularity is inching up in Israel, though most Israelis still believe the American leader doesn't actually support the Jewish state.

Conducted by the New America Foundation and published late last week, the poll showed that 40 percent of Israelis view Obama favorably, while 39 percent view him unfavorably.

Still, 60 percent of Israelis said they don't feel Obama actually supports Israel, at least not in the way past presidents have. However, most Israelis see the US as the only country able and willing to actually support them should their existence as a nation be in danger, and they don't believe Obama will stand in the way of that.

Nearly 40 percent of those surveyed said they believe Obama is actually a Muslim. Thirty-seven percent of Israeli Arabs agreed with that.


Corporate American Media and Israel’s 2008-09 Gaza Invasion

by Steven Salaita

December 14th, 2009

The following piece is an excerpt from a talk Salaita gave at the School of Oriental and African Studies on December 7, 2009.

I’m starting on the assumption that we’re all aware of Israel’s brutality in the Gaza Strip and that we all find it unconscionable, as does the vast majority of the world. I assume as well that we’re aware of the brutality preceding and following Israel’s military assault nearly a year ago. I’d like to examine how corporate media in the United States presented coverage of Israel’s invasion, and how discourses of justification for Israel are built into the foundation of that coverage.

First of all, let’s get a sense of just how devastating Israel’s aggression has been. In the weeks following Israel’s invasion, it became clear from a variety of sources that at a minimum 1,400 Palestinians have been killed. Nearly 500 were children. Because American media did such a poor job of putting these numbers into context, I will do it for you: The overall population of Gaza is around 1.4 million. Let’s do a basic comparative analysis, then. At least 1,400 Palestinians were killed, which is .001, or one one thousandth, of Gaza’s population. If you take that number and apply it to Israel’s population of 7.3 million, it would be the same as 7,300 Israeli deaths. The United States’ population is 305 million; the equivalent casualties per capita would be 305,000. 305,000 people. Think about that for a moment. And then think about the fact that we’re being asked to accept this level of Palestinian death as part of some abstruse battle against terrorism.

It’s important to look at these Palestinian deaths in the broader context of Israeli colonization. The vast discrepancy in power between the Israeli military and Palestinian resistance is reflected in some mortality and economic figures. In 2008, for instance, on the eve of Israel’s Gaza invasion, 820 Palestinians had been killed by Israelis whereas 35 Israelis had been killed by Palestinians. You probably didn’t hear much about these Palestinian deaths because the first rule of corporate media in the United States is that periods of “relative calm” predominate when only Palestinians are dying.

Since the September 2000, start of the second Intifada, the figures are equally disproportionate. Although Americans are told over and again that Palestinians started the violence in 2000, the facts reveal this narrative to be fallacious. In the fall of 2000, 140 Palestinians were killed before there was a single Israeli casualty. Likewise, Israel murdered 82 Palestinian children before a single Israeli child was killed. Since 2000, 123 Israeli children have been killed by Palestinians; 1200 Palestinian children have been killed by Israelis. 1,067 Israelis have been killed; at least 5,500 Palestinians have been killed. Around 8,500 Israelis have been injured; over 35,000 Palestinians have been injured. Israel has been targeted for condemnation by over 65 UN resolutions. One Israeli is being held prisoner by the Palestinians; 10,756 Palestinians are being held prisoner by the Israelis. Zero Israeli homes have been demolished by Palestinians; over 19,000 Palestinian homes have been demolished by Israelis. The Palestinians do not have any illegal settlements inside Israel; Israel has over 400 illegal Jewish-only settlements on Palestinian land. The unemployment rate inside Israel is 7.5 percent; the unemployment rate inside the Gaza Strip is 80 percent. And yet Israel receives around 7 million dollars per day from the United States. This money goes to a government that continually denies any responsibility for the humanitarian crisis in Gaza.

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