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Islamic World News ( 3 Feb 2012, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Pakistan: Cleric Sentenced To Death in Blasphemy Case

  • New Age Islam News Bureau

    3 Feb 2012
  • Self-styled Sharia court softens after fatwa against pastors
  • India: Seminary asks Muslims to avoid ostentation on Mawlid
  • Govt measures ensure terrorists can’t find footing in Malaysia
  • ICC rejects Gaddafi daughter's appeal on jailed brother
  • Muslim woman wearing veil denied service at gas station
  • Iraq court agrees execution of Baghdad church attackers
  • Threatening us will harm America, warns Iran
  • Tehran Judiciary chief refutes as ‘lies’ report of UN special human rights
  • Egypt court convicts Arab actor Adel Imam for defaming Islam
  • Pakistan fails to send team to probe Mumbai attacks
  • Makkah: Child’s headless body found
  • Pakistan willing to push Afghan militants to pursue peace
  • End of the road for Pak PM?
  • Iran to aid anyone confronting Israel: Khamenei
  • NIA terror case against 2 Pakistanis
  • India: ‘Bangalore terror accused never went out of Bihar’
  • Bangladesh Awami League leader killed in Lalmonirhat
  • Seven Pakistani soldiers killed in Taliban attack: officials Agencies
  • Egypt unrest: 2 shot dead in clashes after football deaths
  • Syrian soldiers, rebels clash in the south; 1 dead
  • U.S. leans on Israel not to target Iran nukes
  • U.S. sweetens deal to chase Assad
  • U.S. to end Afghan role
  • Kabul: Insurgents vow Taliban will conquer
  • Tunisian forces kill two in clashes with armed group
  • Arabs, West seek to avert Russian veto of U.N. Syria
  • U.S. tries to ease confusion over Afghan plans
  • Egypt protesters besiege Cairo ministry
  • System will link GCC to manpower-exporting states
  • Israel says Iran has material for four A-bombs
  • Kuwait election: Islamist-led opposition makes gains
  • Iran nuclear crisis: UN inspectors have ‘good’ talks
  • Kabul: Taliban are modernizing, says former anti-vice enforcer
  • NATO mulls paying for Afghan forces after 2014
  • Govt to evacuate Indonesians in Syria when necessary
  • Kabila’s party loses seats in Congo parliament
  • US plans to halt Afghan combat role in 2013
  • Gulf markets mixed; Panic hits Egyptian stocks
  • Top UAE bank sees growth in wealth, private banking business
  • Saudi Arabia, Kuwait may start Dorra gas work in June
  • Indian consortium may bid for Afghan mining blocks: report
  • Egypt’s Cairo braced for more football unrest
  • India: West Asia expert Akbaruddin to be MEA’s ‘ mouth’
  • Hindu Terrorism Against Christians

Complied by New Age Islam News Bureau

Photo: CHAKWAL: A ‘blasphemy’ accused was sentenced to death and also to 10 years’




Pakistan: Cleric sentenced to death in blasphemy case

Nabeel Anwar Dhakku

January 31, 2012

CHAKWAL: A ‘blasphemy’ accused was sentenced to death and also to 10 years’ imprisonment on Monday, sources told Dawn.

Soofi Mohammad Ishaq of Talagang town had been facing the charge since 2009.

On Monday, an Additional Sessions Judge of Jhelum sentenced him to death and 10 years’ imprisonment and fined him Rs200,000.

Soofi Mohammad Ishaq was settled in United States where he worked as a cleric. He returned to Talagang in 2009 and was given a warm welcome by hundreds of his disciples. His followers also kissed his feet, but some people objected to the act of “bowing down before Ishaq” and later accused his followers of branding him a prophet.

Later, Ishaq’s rivals launched a campaign against him and a young man named Asadullah, allegedly at the behest of his Deobandi mentors, lodged a complaint at the Talagang police station. He accused Ishaq of committing blasphemy.

Police booked Ishaq under sections 295A and 295C of the Pakistan Penal Code and his case was heard by Chakwal’s Additional Sessions Judge Sajid Awan.

After completion of hearing, the judge set a date for announcing the judgment, but later he wrote a letter to the Lahore High Court’s Rawalpindi bench, informing it that he could not announce the verdict because of security risks. “Judge Sajid Awan pleaded to the LHC that as he is deputed in Chakwal, he cannot announce the verdict because of security risks and, therefore, the case should be referred to another district,” said Advocate Chaudhry Mehmood Akhtar, the counsel of the accused.

The LHC referred the case to Jhelum’s district and sessions judge, who marked the case to his subordinate Additional Sessions Judge Chaudhry Mumtaz Hussain, who announced the verdict on Friday.

Informed sources told Dawn that Soofi Ishaq had been appointed Gaddi Nasheen of the shrine of Pir Fazal Shah. This, according to sources, infuriated complainant Asadullah, who belonged to Pir Fazal Shah’s family, and he used the opportunity to register the blasphemy case against Ishaq.

“My client pleaded to the court that he cannot even think of committing blasphemy.” He told the court that he believed that the holy prophet (peace be upon him) was the last Messnger of Allah,” Advocate Chaudhry Akhtar Mehmood said.

When contacted by Dawn, Asadullah claimed to have seen followers of Ishaq bowing their heads before him and heard them chanting slogans of “Yaa Rasool Allah”. When asked why other religious leaders did not move against Ishaq, he said: “I was the first to see the way Ishaq’s followers behaved and I recorded it on my camera. And Allah has given me the courage to move against the blasphemer.”


Self-styled sharia court softens after fatwa against pastors

Peerzada Ashiq

Srinagar, February 02, 2012

Self-styled chief justice of Kashmir sharia court Mufti Bashiruddin, also mufti azam (grand priest), on Thursday toned down his language after his earlier fatwa (decree) against four pastors for converting Muslims allegedly through monetary allurement. "I urge all those who disagree with

the expulsion of wrong-doers for their misdeeds to suggest what else could be done in the circumstances, keeping in view larger interests of the faith, peace and order in the state," said the joint statement issued by the grand mufti and his son Nasirul Islam, who is deputy mufti of the sharia court.

Hardline Hurriyat chairman Syed Ali Shah Geelani and civil society members censured the Sharia court's decree banning entry of Christian pastors into Kashmir recently, terming it "wrong move" and questioned the functioning of sharia court. "It was agonising to see boys and girls being converted to Christianity by unethical allurements and immoral inducements...Everyone has a right to criticise any individual or his actions but one cannot do so if such criticism encourages blasphemy and irreverent references to prophet Muhammad," said Islam.

Bashiruddin, however, is not happy with the media reportage. "A series of sensational stories in print media compel me to rebut and refute allegations made by some unknown individuals of the so-called civil society. What is unfortunate and intriguing is that such statements are coming from some members of the community, who profess Islam as their faith," he said.

The self-styled Sharia court head, however, clarified that it did not impose any ban on functioning of missionary schools. "These schools have contributed a lot to spread education in the state. It is only the wrong-doers who have been identified for action. The need of hour is to constantly monitor their conduct and activities," said the statement.

In an attempt to strike a chord with the common man on the street, the statement said "In no way we undermine or underestimate the sacrifices made by the people, especially the youth over the years. His stand needs no endorsement by any individual, political party or the state administration," it said.

The statement came in response to Geelani's accusation that the mufti has been silent on human rights abuses issues and the Kashmir problem in the past.

The court, however, did not take back its earlier fatwa against the four pastors.


India: Seminary asks Muslims to avoid ostentation on Mawlid

February 03, 2012

Hyderabad: A leading Islamic seminary in Hyderabad has issued a fatwa asking Muslims to desist from un-Islamic practices like playing music, singing and dancing on Milad-un-Nabi, the birth anniversary of Prophet Muhammad.

The Jamia Nizamia has asked community members to avoid excess revelry and ostentatious expenditure during Mawlid, which falls Feb 5. It has advised people not to put up flags with the names of Allah and the Prophet Moahmmed written on them as the flags may fall down, which will amount to showing disrespect.

The 125-year-old Islamic university, located at Shibli Gunj in the old city of Hyderabad, has termed as "un-Islamic", the installation of models of the Kaaba, and Masjid-e-Nabavvi (the mosque and resting place of the Prophet in Medina). It also said youth applying "chamki" (glitter) on their faces is un-Islamic.

The fatwa has been signed by seven religious scholars, including the Jamia Nizamia's Mufti Moulana Mohammed Azeemuddin and the Imam of the historic Mecca Masjid, Moulana Abdullah Qureshi Al-Azhari.

They said while the birth anniversary of the Prophet was a moment of rejoicing for Muslims, the celebrations should not violate the Sharia law. The fatwa made it clear that singing, dancing and playing "naats" (poems in praise of the Prophet) on the tunes of film songs is against the Sharia.

It asked Muslims to desist from playing "naats" at a high volume as it causes inconvenience to others. The scholars pointed out that even the recitation of the Holy Quran loudly is not allowed if there is apprehension that it can disturb others.

The edict has come amid concern in some sections of the community over the un-Islamic way in which Mawlid celebrations are being organized in the city for the last few years.

They feel the pomp and the manner in which Mawlid is being celebrated has no religious sanction and is setting a bad precedent.

"Instead of highlighting the message of Islam and the teachings of the Prophet on this occasion, the youth are resorting to acts which are against Sharia," said Mohammed Anwar Ahmed, an associate professor on Quranic interpretation at Jamia Nizamia.

The fatwa is also expected to help the city police as it was concerned over the likely law and order problems due to the celebrations, especially tying of flags, banners and other decorative items in public places.

Police Commissioner AK Khan had recently called on Moulana Mufti Khaleel Ahmed, head of the Jamia Nizamia, and had expressed the view that the Muslims should spend the day in prayers rather than indulging in extravaganza.

Police is already concerned over the increasing number of religious processions and the competition among various communities in the celebrations during their festivals.

Three persons were killed and over 150 injured in the communal clashes that broke out in the city two years ago. The riots erupted after one group was replacing flags tied during Mawlid celebrations with its own flags.


Govt measures ensure terrorists can't find footing in Malaysia


MARANG: Terrorism has failed to find a footing in Malaysia because of pro-active and pre-emptive measures taken by authorities to weed out those with extreme beliefs.

Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said those with militant ideologies would have to "practise" their belief elsewhere, thanks to the government's strict control.

"This is one of the reasons why there are no serious terrorist threats in the country.

"One of the reason we succeed is because we have both pro-active and pre-emptive measures in place to tackle the issue," he told reporters after a meet-the-rakyat session in Rhu Rendang here Friday.

The Prime Minister said the Government would introduce laws that met international standards as far as terrorism issues were concerned.

This, he said, would make it even more difficult for terrorists to be active in the country.

Malaysian Zulkifli Abdul Hir, one of the world's most wanted man with a RM15mil bounty on his head, was killed Thursday in a pre-dawn air strike in southern Philippines.

Zulkifli, better known as Marwan, was one of 15 Islamic militants killed in the bombing raid on Jolo island.

Marwan, 46, from Muar, Johor, was the head of Kumpulan Mujahidin Malaysia and believed to have been involved in the Bali bombings in Indonesia in 2002 which killed 202 people.


ICC rejects Gaddafi daughter's appeal on jailed brother

Thu Feb 2, 2012 GMT

AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - The International Criminal Court (ICC) said on Thursday it had rejected a request by former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi's daughter to submit information in the case of her brother, who is awaiting trial in Libya on rape and murder charges.

Saif al-Islam Gaddafi, who was captured disguised as a Bedouin in the Sahara desert in November, has also been indicted by the ICC on charges of crimes against humanity stemming from Libya's civil war last year.

On Tuesday, Aisha Gaddafi had asked the court if she could give information about attempts she has made to contact Saif al-Islam, and submitted a document suggesting the Libyan authorities were unwilling to let any foreign lawyer act for him.

The court said on Thursday that it had rejected both Aisha's request and a similar one by human rights activist Mishana Hosseinioun. Both requests were "misplaced and contrary" to court procedures, a panel of judges said ruled.

Libya's ruling National Transitional Council says Saif al-Islam should be tried at home and would be given a fair hearing. The ICC has reserved the right to insist that he be sent to The Hague.

Saif al-Islam's supporters say they doubt he will be given a fair trial in Libya and that he should be tried instead by the ICC in The Hague.

He faces the death penalty if found guilty by a Libyan court, but only a prison term if convicted by the ICC.

The ICC has jurisdiction over the case because it issued a warrant last year for the arrest of Muammar Gaddafi, Saif al-Islam, and the Libyan leader's intelligence chief, Abdullah al-Senussi.


'She just threw my money back at me': Muslim woman wearing veil denied service at gas station


2nd February 2012

A Muslim woman wearing a full face veil has claimed she was refused service at a gas station.

La-Fleu Mohamed said she the cashier refused to accept her business unless she could see her face.

Mohamed claimed she was told to leave the gas station in Boca Raton, Florida, and was left 'humiliated.'

Chevron, owners of the gas station, said they have launched an investigation into the incident after Mohamed said she was the victim of religious discrimination.

Full Report At:


Iraq court agrees execution of Baghdad church attackers


Feb 2, 2012

BAGHDAD: Iraq’s highest court ratified death sentences on Thursday for three men convicted of a 2010 attack on a Syrian Catholic cathedral in Baghdad, the bloodiest attack on Iraqi Christians after the 2003 invasion.

Gunmen linked to Al-Qaeda seized hostages during Sunday mass at the Our Lady of Salvation church in Baghdad on Oct. 31, 2010. Around 52 hostages and police were killed and 67 wounded in the attack, which ended when security forces stormed the church.

Al Qaeda’s Iraqi affiliate, Islamic State of Iraq, claimed responsibility for the attack.

“There are three convicted criminals. All of them are Iraqis and they were convicted based on the terrorism law,” said Abdul-Sattar Al-Birqdar, spokesman for the Supreme Judicial Council.

Full Report At:


Threatening us will harm America, warns Iran

Feb 3, 2012,

TEHRAN: Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said on Friday Iran would retaliate over Western-backed oil sanctions and any threat of attack, after US defense secretary Leon Panetta was cited as saying he feared a possible Israeli strike as early as April.

Khamenei's defiant speech to mark the anniversary of the 1979 Islamic Revolution was the first direct response to tighter sanctions imposed by the West in recent weeks to force Tehran to abandon a nuclear programme it says has purely peaceful ends.

"Threatening Iran and attacking Iran will harm America ... Sanctions will not have any impact on our determination to continue our nuclear course ... In response to threats of oil embargo and war, we have our own threats to impose at the right time," Khamenei told worshippers in a speech broadcast live on state television.

Full Report At:


Tehran Judiciary chief refutes as 'lies' report of UN special human rights

Tehran, Feb 2, IRNA – Judiciary Chief Ayatollah Sadeq Amoli Larijani said on Thursday that the recent report issued by the UN special rapporteur for human rights in Iran is full of lies.

Larijani made the remark in an expert meeting on Human Rights, Islam and West in Tehran on Thursday.

The rapporteur had already issues false reports on the status of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran, he said.

It is amazing that a rapporteur who is responsible for observing international legal rights has expressed such biased reports about Iran, he said.

It is astonishing that in the West anyone denying the Holocaust is sent to jail but if one insults holy prophets, there is nothing wrong with it, he said.

Torture has been banned in the Human Rights Declaration but the Americans have tortured prisoners in Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib jails, Larijani said.

There are numerous cases of human rights violations by western countries, the Judiciay chief said.

They invaded Iraq under pretext of weapons of mass destruction and massacred hundred of thousands of innocent civilians there but no one has ever asked them under what principles of human rights they occupied the country, he said.

The Islamic Republic of Iran, established under the leadership of late Imam Khomeini, is the most democratic country in the region, he said.

Islamic Republic News Agency/IRNA NewsCode: 30794906


Egypt court convicts Arab actor Adel Imam for defaming Islam

February 03, 2012

THE Arab world's most famous actor, Adel Imam, has been sentenced to three months in jail for "defaming Islam" in several roles on stage and screen.

A Cairo court sentenced Imam, a UN goodwill ambassador described as the Arab world's Charlie Chaplin, in absentia to three months in jail with hard labour, after being sued by Asran Mansur, a lawyer with Islamist ties.

Full Report At:


Pakistan fails to send team to probe Mumbai attacks

3 February 2012

The attack targeted luxury hotels and a railway station

Pakistan has failed to send a team of officials to India to investigate the November 2008 Mumbai (Bombay) attacks, Indian officials said.

Islamabad told Delhi that the judicial commission would not be able to come as planned, a home ministry official said.

The team was due to arrive in Mumbai on Thursday. Its members were due to meet Indian officials and doctors involved in the investigation.

The Mumbai attacks claimed 165 lives. Nine gunmen were also killed.

Full Report At:


Makkah: Child’s headless body found


Feb 3, 2012

MAKKAH: Police in Makkah discovered the headless body of a boy near a garbage box in the city’s Al-Sharaie district. Security forces are investigating the macabre find.

Local residents are in shock after hearing about the grisly murder, which happened at Al-Sharaie’s township 2 in the eastern part of the city.

Police rushed to the scene after receiving a call at their operation room. Criminal investigation teams and other security agencies as well as forensics teams visited the scene to collect evidence. Police have instructed forensic experts to carry out an autopsy of the body.

According to security sources, initial evidence indicated the murder was premeditated. The killer apparently killed the child and threw away his clothes in a nearby place before leaving the headless body near the garbage bin, they said.


Pakistan willing to push Afghan militants to pursue peace

Feb 2, 2012

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan would encourage Afghan insurgent groups like the Haqqani network and the Taleban to pursue peace if asked by Afghanistan, Pakistan’s foreign minister said on Thursday.

Hina Rabbani Khar also told reporters that the Afghan reconciliation process was active on several fronts but was far from producing results.

Rabbani was speaking after a trip to Kabul. She said “lots of ill will” between the traditionally uneasy neighbors, whose ties have been strained in recent months, had faded.


End of the road for Pak PM?


February 03, 2012

ISLAMABAD: Relations between the ruling Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and the judiciary were further strained on Thursday when the apex court, rejecting all arguments of the state counsel, summoned Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani to appear on Feb. 13 to be indicted with contempt over his refusal to pursue corruption cases against the president.

Experts say that if convicted, Gilani could be jailed for up to six months and disqualified from public office.

Speaking to reporters, Aitzaz Ahsan, the premier’s counsel, said he would advise his client to appeal against the charges, “but this is just a procedural matter.”

Full Report At:


Iran to aid anyone confronting Israel: Khamenei

Friday, February 3, 2012

Iran’s Supreme Leader says his country will assist any nation or group that “confronts” Israel, describing it as a “cancer.”

The remarks by Ayatollah Ali Khamenei came during a Friday prayer ceremony in Tehran broadcast on state television.

Ayatollah Khamenei, who has final say on all state matters, says that Iran has helped the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah and the Palestinian Hamas in their fights against Israel, and will aid others who do so.

He describes Israel as a “cancer” and says, “It will be cut.”

Israel and Iran consider each other arch-enemies.


NIA terror case against 2 Pakistanis

Aman Sharma/ New Delhi

Friday, February 3, 2012

THE NATIONAL Investigation Agency ( NIA) has lodged a terror- funding case against two Pakistani nationals for pumping in ` 80 crores into Jammu and Kashmir for terror activities.

The NIA said both the accused work for the Hizbul Mujahedeen — the terror outfit that the NIA believes is also behind the Delhi High Court bomb blasts of September 7 that killed 15 people. This is the first such case registered by the NIA regarding cross- border terror funding into J& K from Pakistan.

Full Report At:


India: ‘ Bangalore terror accused never went out of Bihar’

By Hakeem Irfan in New Delhi

Friday, February 3, 2012

RAISING serious doubts over the police’s claims that he had recced Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bangalore before the 2010 blast there, the family of 21- year- old Gayoor Ahmed Jamali on Wednesday pleaded his innocence, saying he had never left Bihar.

The suspected Indian Mujahideen ( IM) operative was arrested from his residence on November 24, but the local police in Madhubani had refused register an FIR against the arrest. The final- year student of almiyat at the Darul Uloom Ahmadiya Salfiya, Darbhanga, has no criminal record at the local police station.

Full Report At:


Bangladesh Awami League leader killed in Lalmonirhat

Friday, February 3, 2012National

Police recovered the body of a local Awami League (AL) leader from a canal in Dangarhat Border area of Patgram upazila yesterday noon.

Nur Hossain, 45, son of late Nur Mohammad of Rosulganj village in the upazila, is convener of ward no 8 of AL Patgram municipality unit.

Murshidul Karim, officer in-charge of Patgram police station said criminals might have strangled Hossain and dumped the body in the canal.

One Azinur Rahman, Sohidar Rahman and Nishad Hossain said the AL leader had an Indian bycycle and machin parts business.

He might have been killed by his rivals or Indian Border Security Force (BSF), they added.


Seven Pakistani soldiers killed in Taliban attack: officials Agencies

February 03, 2012

PESHAWAR: Seven Pakistani soldiers were killed and three others wounded in a Taliban attack on their check post in the country’s northwestern tribal belt, security officials said on Friday.

The overnight attack on Shidano Dand post in the Kurram region triggered clashes in which 18 militants were also killed, a senior military official said.

“Armed militants stormed the post around midnight and killed seven soldiers,” said the official, who did not want to be named, adding that the troops retaliated killing 18 militants.

Other security officials also confirmed the attack.

Taliban spokesman Ehsanullah Ehsan in a telephone call to AFP claimed responsibility for the raid, saying 12 Frontier Corps soldiers were killed and four others captured by militants.

“We carried out this attack to avenge the killing of our commander Taj Gul in Khyber agency,” Ehsan said, without giving details when he was killed and his significance to the group.

Full Report At:


Egypt unrest: 2 shot dead in clashes after football deaths

Friday, February 3, 2012

Two people have been killed and more than 400 injured in protests across Egypt sparked by the deaths of 74 people after a football match.

The two killed were shot by police trying to disperse angry crowds in the city of Suez, medical officials said.

In the capital Cairo, thousands of protesters remained on the streets following a day of clashes with police.

Thousands marched to the interior ministry, where security forces fired tear gas to keep them back.

Earlier, the Egyptian prime minister announced the sackings of several senior officials.

Funerals of some of the 74 victims took place in Port Said, where the football match had taken place on Wednesday.

Full Report At:


Syrian soldiers, rebels clash in the south; 1 dead

Friday, February 3, 2012

AP This January 17, 2012 image from amateur video purports to show gangs of Bashar Assad loyalists at the village of Inkhil in Daraa province, Syria. Clashes in the town of Jassem in the province on Friday claimed at least one life, activists say.

A Syrian activist group says fighting between regime troops and rebels in the south has killed one and wounded at least five soldiers.

Full Report At:


U.S. leans on Israel not to target Iran nukes

Friday, February 3, 2012

WASHINGTON -- Israel's major allies in the West are working hard to talk it out of a unilateral military strike on Iran's nuclear facilities, arguing forcefully that an attack ultimately would strengthen, not weaken, the regime in Tehran.

The United States is leading the persuasion initiative, even though Washington largely has concluded that outside argument will have little effect on Israeli decision-making.

Iran's regime says it wants to extinguish the Jewish state, and the West accuses it of assembling the material and know-how to build a nuclear bomb. Israel fears that Iran is fast approaching a point at which a limited military strike no longer would be enough to head off an Iranian bomb.

Full Report At:


U.S. sweetens deal to chase Assad

By Washington Post

Friday, February 3, 2012

UNITED NATIONS -- The United States and its European and Arab partners have agreed to drop a demand to impose U.N. sanctions and a voluntary arms embargo on Syria, in exchange for a commitment from Russia to allow adoption of a U.N. Security Council resolution that paves the way for President Bashar Assad's departure from power.

The latest offer, outlined in a new version of a draft resolution under negotiations in the 15-nation council, represents a retreat by the United States and its European and Arab allies, stripping away the most painful measures aimed at Syria and taking off the table the issue of its weapons purchases from Russia, Syria's closest ally.

Full Report At:


U.S. to end Afghan role

Thursday, February 2, 2012

BRUSSELS -- The United States and NATO will seek to end their combat mission in Afghanistan next year and shift to a role of providing support and training to Afghan security forces through 2014, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said Wednesday.

Panetta's remarks were the first time the Obama administration has said it could foresee an end to regular U.S. and NATO combat operations by the second half of next year.

"Hopefully by mid to the latter part of 2013, we'll be able to make a transition from a combat role to a training, advise and assist role," he told reporters traveling with him to Brussels, where he is scheduled to attend NATO meetings this week.

Full Report At:


Insurgents vow Taliban will conquer

By Los Angeles Times

Thursday, February 2, 2012

KABUL -- Captured Taliban fighters have consistently expressed confidence that their movement will again rule Afghanistan, according to a report prepared by NATO forces, but Western military officials noted on Wednesday that the document reflected the opinions of committed Islamist insurgents and not the alliance's view.

The report also suggests a significant degree of command and control over the Taliban emanating from Pakistani officialdom, by the fighters' own accounts -- a narrative sharply contested by Pakistan's foreign minister during a visit to Kabul.

Also yesterday, a Taliban spokesman denied reports that the movement has agreed to engage in talks in Saudi Arabia with the Afghan government.

Full Report At:


Tunisian forces kill two in clashes with armed group

3 February 2012

TUNIS Feb 2 (Reuters) - Tunisian forces killed two gunmen and captured a third after clashes on Wednesday night with what appeared to be a group of Islamists smuggling weapons in the east of the country, several security and government sources said.

Five Tunisian security forces were also wounded in the fighting near the industrial port city of Sfax, 237 kms (147 miles) southeast of Tunis, and police and military had cordoned off the area, security sources said.

The clashes were the first to take place in Tunisia since elections in October ushered in a government dominated by moderate Islamist group Ennahda and two secular partners.

Tunisia's interior ministry forces were shaken by the revolt that ousted Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali and brought down his police state a year ago and secularist groups have accused Ennahda of being too soft on armed militants and religious extremists.

Mohammed al-Tunsi, a National Guard official, had said the three gunmen appeared to be Salafis, ultra-conservative Islamists, but Interior Minister Ali Larayed, a senior member of Ennahda, told reporters on Wednesday night it was too early to identify them.

He described the incident as "dangerous" and promised more details on Thursday.

Larayed said a large stash of assault rifles and ammunition had been discovered in the vehicle the three men were travelling in. The gunmen abandoned their car and hid in the surrounding countryside where they exchanged fire with police and military for several hours while a helicopter buzzed overhead.

A spokesman for President Moncef al-Marzouki told state television he believed the gunmen were part of a 20-strong gang that smuggled weapons through Tunisia.

Tunisia, the birthplace of the Arab Spring protests that swept the region in 2011, has made a relatively smooth transition to an elected constituent assembly that will draft a new constitution for the country.

However, protests and strikes have continued in the centre of the country, where unemployment remains high, and security forces are under pressure to do more to rein in Salafis who have asserted themselves since the uprising and to secure the borders with Algeria and Libya.   (Reporting by Tarek Amara; Writing by Lin Noueihed; Editing by Sophie Hares)


Arabs, West seek to avert Russian veto of U.N. Syria

Fri Feb 3, 2012

By Louis Charbonneau

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - Arab and Western drafters of a U.N. Security Council resolution aimed at stopping Syria's bloody upheaval revised their text on Thursday in a last-ditch effort to avoid a Russian veto, though the new draft includes language Moscow has rejected.

Morocco circulated the slightly amended draft to the 15-nation council after Russian Ambassador Vitaly Churkin told a closed-door session of the 15-nation body Moscow would veto the draft if it were put to a vote on Friday with a phrase saying the council "fully supports" an Arab League plan calling for Syria's president to step aside, Western diplomats said.

That phrase remains in the text. But several diplomats said Churkin's threat of a veto had more to do with the timing than the substance of the resolution and thought it might be possible to persuade the Russians to abstain or vote for the resolution.

"He made the threat, but I don't think he'll necessarily have to follow through with it," a diplomat said on condition of anonymity. "We included some new language that Russia wanted. It's still possible to avoid a (Russian) veto."

Full Report At:


U.S. tries to ease confusion over Afghan plans

Thu Feb 2, 2012

By David Alexander and David Brunnstrom

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - U.S. forces will cede the lead role in combat operations in Afghanistan next year, but will keep fighting alongside Afghan troops, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said on Thursday, as the Obama administration struggled to clear up confusion over its Afghan exit strategy.

Panetta surprised allies on Wednesday by suggesting the U.S. combat mission in Afghanistan would end in 2013, the first time Washington had floated such a deadline.

On Thursday, Panetta emphasized to reporters that U.S. troops in Afghanistan would remain "combat-ready" as the United States winds down its longest war. But he said the troops would largely shift to a train-and-assist role as Afghan forces take responsibility for security before an end-2014 deadline for full Afghan control.

"I want to be clear: Even as Afghans assume the security lead, ISAF (international forces) will continue to have to be fully combat-ready and we will engage in combat operations as necessary," Panetta said.

Final decisions on the pace of troop withdrawals from Afghanistan and the hand-over to forces loyal to Afghan President Hamid Karzai are not due to be made until U.S. President Barack Obama and fellow NATO leaders hold a summit in Chicago in May.

But Panetta's remarks on Wednesday, made en route to a NATO defense ministers' meeting in Brussels, appeared intended to begin a discussion over timetables and possibly set the stage for an accelerated transition in Afghanistan.

Full Report At:


Egypt protesters besiege Cairo ministry

Fri Feb 3, 2012

By Marwa Awad and Tom Perry

CAIRO (Reuters) - Protesters laid siege to Egypt's Interior Ministry on Friday, extending a rally against the military-led government into a second day in a show of anger triggered by the deaths of 74 people in the country's worst soccer disaster.

In separate clashes in the city of Suez, two protesters were killed as police used live rounds to hold back crowds trying to break into a police station, witnesses said.

Demonstrations erupted in Egypt this week following deaths at a soccer stadium in Port Said as the football incident turned quickly into a political crisis. Protesters hold the military-led authorities responsible for the bloodshed.

In Cairo, several thousand protesters remained in the streets around the ministry as night fell. The only vehicles in the usually congested downtown area were largely ambulances that ferried away casualties from clashes with police.

Underlining the tension, ambulances had to intervene to extract riot police whose truck took a wrong turn into a street full of protesters, a Reuters witness said.

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System will link GCC to manpower-exporting states


Feb 3, 2012

RIYADH: Prospective Gulf workers' medical reports issued from 11 manpower exporting countries will be linked electronically to the GCC health ministers' secretariat and to countries in the region.

It is mandatory all workers who come for employment in the Gulf countries should undergo a medical test at one of the clinics recommended by the GCC Approved Medical Centers' Association (GAMCA), an affiliated body to the GCC Health Ministers Secretariat with headquarters in Riyadh.

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Israel says Iran has material for four A-bombs

February 03, 2012

JERUSALEM: Israel estimated on Thursday that Iran could make four atomic bombs by further enriching uranium it has already stockpiled, and could produce its first within a year of deciding to build one.

But in his rare public remarks, Maj. Gen. Aviv Kochavi, chief of military intelligence, held out the possibility stronger international sanctions might dissuade Tehran from pursuing a policy he had no doubt was aimed at developing nuclear weapons, despite Iranian denials.

Citing figures similar to those from the UN nuclear agency, Kochavi told Israel’s annual Herzliya Conference on strategic affairs: “Iran has accumulated more than 4 tons of uranium enriched to a level of 3.5 percent and nearly 100 kilos at an enrichment level of 20 percent.

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Kuwait election: Islamist-led opposition makes gains

3 February 2012

Kuwait's parliament has the most powers of any elected body in the Gulf

Kuwait's Islamist-led opposition has made significant gains in the Gulf state's fourth parliamentary election in six years, official results show.

Opposition candidates won 34 of the 50 seats in the National Assembly, with 23 of them going to Sunni Islamists.

Liberals won nine seats, while woman did not win any. There were four women in the last parliament.

Kuwait's Emir, Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmed al-Sabah, called the snap election amid a crisis over corruption allegations.

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Iran nuclear crisis: UN inspectors have 'good' talks

1 February 2012

Mr Nackaerts led a team that had three days of talks in Iran, but did not visit nuclear sites

UN nuclear inspectors back from a trip to Iran to discuss its contested nuclear programme have said the country is "committed" to "resolving all outstanding issues".

The International Atomic Energy Agency said another visit to Tehran was planned for later this month.

Inspectors described their visit as positive but said there was still work to do.

Iran insists its uranium enrichment work is peaceful in purpose.

The IAEA's Deputy Director-General Herman Nackaerts said his organisation and the Iranians were both determined to address all outstanding matters.

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Kabul: Insurgents vow Taliban will conquer

By Los Angeles Times

Thursday, February 2, 2012

KABUL -- Captured Taliban fighters have consistently expressed confidence that their movement will again rule Afghanistan, according to a report prepared by NATO forces, but Western military officials noted on Wednesday that the document reflected the opinions of committed Islamist insurgents and not the alliance's view.

The report also suggests a significant degree of command and control over the Taliban emanating from Pakistani officialdom, by the fighters' own accounts -- a narrative sharply contested by Pakistan's foreign minister during a visit to Kabul.

Also yesterday, a Taliban spokesman denied reports that the movement has agreed to engage in talks in Saudi Arabia with the Afghan government.

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NATO mulls paying for Afghan forces after 2014

Slobodan Lekic and Robert Burns

Fri, 02/03/2012

NATO defense ministers on Friday tackled the controversial issue of how to pay for Afghanistan's NATO defense ministers are tackling the controversial issue of how to pay for Afghanistan's expanding security forces after they assume responsibility for the war in 2014.expandi

ng security forces after they assume responsibility for the war in 2014.

Since Afghanistan - one of the world's poorest nations - cannot foot the estimated US$6 billionannual bill, NATO nations will have to pay the bulk of it. But austerity measures and budgetary cuts caused by the financial crisis in the United States and Europe are making it difficult to raise the money.

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Govt to evacuate Indonesians in Syria when necessary

Fri, 02/03/2012

The Foreign Ministry is preparing to evacuate Indonesians in Syria amid political instability in the Middle Eastern country that has so far killed 5,400 people.

“We are deeply concerned over what is happening in Syria and continue to monitor the situation there. The ministry has sent a team to coordinate with the Indonesian Embassy in Syria," Foreign Ministry spokesman Michael Tene said on Friday as quoted by Antara.

Michael added that should the crisis in Syria persist, the embassy would evacuate Indonesian citizens to a safer place.

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Kabila’s party loses seats in Congo parliament

Feb 2, 2012

KINSHASA: Democratic Republic of Congo’s ruling party has lost more than 40 percent of its legislative seats to rivals, election results released on Thursday showed, an outcome that will complicate President Joseph Kabila’s task of forming a majority coalition.

Kabila’s rule in the central African state has already been weakened after his own re-election in the Nov. 28 poll was decried by the opposition as fraudulent and broadly criticized by international observers.

“With more than 80 parties in parliament, it will not be easy to manage,” said Philippe Biyoya, a professor of politics at the University of Kinshasa.

“Everyone will want their seat in government. The future government will be even more heterogeneous than the one that came from the elections in 2006. A heterogeneous coalition means weak government.”

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US plans to halt Afghan combat role in 2013

Feb 2, 2012 16:11

BRUSSELS: The United States intends to end combat operations in Afghanistan before the end of 2013, US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said on Wednesday, laying down a new marker for winding down America’s longest war.

The timetable described by Panetta appeared to be the first time the United States has said it would shift into a supporting role, training and advising Afghan troops, by next year. His remarks came as allies like France appear to be looking to exit Afghanistan and President Barack Obama is eager to show voters that American involvement is ending.

“Our goal is to complete all of that transition in 2013 and then hopefully by mid- to the latter part of 2013 we’ll be able to make a transition from a combat role to a training, advise-and-assist role,” Panetta told reporters on his plane to Brussels for a NATO defense ministers’ meeting.

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Gulf markets mixed; Panic hits Egyptian stocks

Feb 2, 2012 23:58

JEDDAH: The Kuwaiti market closed on a mixed note this week. The price index traded horizontally gaining 0.07 percent closing at 5,856.4 points, according to a report from Kuwait Financial Center (Markaz).

Reuters said Gulf markets were mixed, with Dubai's index falling 1.2 percent Thursday to trim to 10.4 percent its gains since mid-January's seven-year low as disappointing results from some companies spurred investors to lock-in recent gains.  

Markaz said the Kuwaiti stock exchange’s weighted index was slightly negative, down 0.14 percent and closing at 404.51 points.

Liquidity and activity levels decreased during the week. Value traded contracted by 7.5 percent. During the week the market traded 1.23 billion shares with a value of KD118.6 million.

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Top UAE bank sees growth in wealth, private banking business

Feb 2, 2012

ABU DHABI: National Bank of Abu Dhabi, the UAE’s largest lender by market value, expects slower loan and deposit growth this year with its overseas performance "tempered a bit" by Arab political unrest, its chief executive said.

Michael Tomalin said the lender, whose fourth-quarter earnings fell shy of expectations this week, said the outlook for this year was solid.

"For 2012, we are cautiously optimistic. We will see strong growth in our wealth and private banking business and good growth in Islamic banking," he said.

On Tuesday, NBAD reported a net profit of AED724 million ($197.3 million) for the final three months of 2011, slightly below the AED732 million recorded in the year-ago period. Analysts had forecast an average profit of AED756.4 million.

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Saudi Arabia, Kuwait may start Dorra gas work in June

Feb 2, 2012

ALKHOBAR: Kuwait and Saudi Arabia are pushing ahead with plans to develop the undisputed part of the offshore Dorra gas field with the front-end engineering and design (FEED) work expected to be completed by June, industry sources said.

Kuwait and Saudi Arabia urgently need to boost gas supplies to reduce domestic oil consumption and boost exports, which Dorra's estimated trillion cubic feet of gas and 310 million barrels of oil should help achieve. 

"(The) investment decision already taken to develop the Dorra field," said a an industry source.

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Indian consortium may bid for Afghan mining blocks: report

February 03, 2012

MUMBAI: State-run Steel Authority of India Ltd and government-controlled Hindustan Copper Ltd are in talks with India’s Aditya Birla Group and Jindal Steel and Power Ltd to form a consortium to bid for gold and copper deposits in Afghanistan, the Mint newspaper reported.

Afghanistan has invited expressions of interest by March 9 for gold and copper deposits in four provinces.

The consortium partners will be finalised soon, the paper quoted Hindustan Copper Chairman Shakeel Ahmed as saying.

Jindal Steel and Power is also interested in investing in other projects in Afghanistan, Chief Executive V. R. Sharma told the newspaper.

SAIL and Jindal Steel and Power were part of a consortium that won three iron ore blocks in Afghanistan’s Hajigak province in November.

India and China, two of the world’s fastest growing major economies, are vying with each other for access to Afghanistan’s oil and mineral reserves.

The companies could not be reached immediately for comment.


Egypt's Cairo braced for more football unrest

3 February 2012

Protesters have gathered on the streets of Egypt's capital Cairo, amid calls for more rallies over the deaths of 74 fans at a football match on Wednesday.

The authorities have sealed off streets in the capital, and widespread protests are expected after Friday prayers.

Hundreds were injured in clashes between security forces and protesters across the country on Thursday.

Many Egyptians blame the police for causing the football riot, in the northern city of Port Said.

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India: West Asia expert Akbaruddin to be MEA’s ‘ mouth’

Dipanjan Roy Chaudhury in New Delhi

Friday, February 3, 2012

THE ministry of external affairs ( MEA) will soon have Syed Akbaruddin as its spokesperson after incumbent Vishnu Prakash was appointed ambassador to South Korea.

Akbaruddin has been appointed as officer on special duty ( OSD) in the MEA’s external publicity wing and will shortly take over as spokesperson. The 1985- batch IFS officer was on deputation at the International Atomic Energy Agency ( IAEA) for four years and has returned to the headquarters.

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Hindu Terrorism Against Christians



Orissa, India, January 31 (Compass Direct News) – A Hindu extremist in Adigar, Phulbani, Kandhamal district on Jan. 25 attacked a pastor’s hut and harassed his family, according to the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC). Jaleshwar Pradhan threw stones at the home of Pastor Patiba Mohan Kota while he was away, verbally abused his wife and pushed his daughters, shouting, “You Christians must not live here – it is not your land; the last time your houses were only damaged, this time all of you will be buried here,” the GCIC reported. Though damage to the house was minimal, the pastor and his family were anguishing in fear as Hindu extremists have previously tortured him physically, causing partial loss of eyesight and hearing, reported the GCIC. The pastor was among those whose houses were destroyed during anti-Christian violence in 2008. Pradhan was booked under various sections of the Indian Penal Code, reported the GCIC.

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