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Islamic World News ( 7 Aug 2016, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Pakistan Hospital Blast Kills Up To 93, At Least 120 Injured

















Lawyers and local media personnel carry a bed to move the body of a news cameraman after the explosion. — AFP

 

ISIL Commanders Stage Coup against Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi in Kirkuk

ISIS Plunders Unique Archeological Site in Syria, Destroys ‘Profane’ Artifacts

Don't Plan, Launch 'Simple, Spontaneous and Effective' Attack: ISIS to Western Terror Recruits

Government May Ban Zakir Naik's NGO under UAPA

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Pakistan

Pakistan Hospital Blast Kills Up To 93, At Least 120 Injured

Pakistan Calls US Remarks 'Misplaced, Self-Contradictory'

Hindu doctor killed in Karachi

MQM worker sentenced to death by ATC for Waqas Shah Murder

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Arab World

ISIL Commanders Stage Coup against Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi in Kirkuk

ISIS Plunders Unique Archeological Site in Syria, Destroys ‘Profane’ Artifacts

ISIL Facing Collapse in Mosul, Arresting Coup Plotters

Syrian Analyst: Kerry's Visit to Turkey Aimed at Preventing More Failures in Aleppo

Hundreds join crucial battle for Syria's Aleppo

Iraqi Forces Repulse ISIL's Attack on Al-Qayyara Region

Security Forces Foil Terrorist Plot to Blow Up Police-IRGC Base in Eastern Iran

Iran bans Pokemon Go due to 'security concerns': report

Over 600 Jeish Al-Fatah Terrorists Killed in Aleppo's Southern Battlefield Last Week

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Europe

Don't Plan, Launch 'Simple, Spontaneous and Effective' Attack: ISIS to Western Terror Recruits

Out of Syria: Muslim refugees must stand behind the Europe

'Terror' probe opened over attack on Belgian police: PM Charles Michel

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India

Government May Ban Zakir Naik's NGO under UAPA

Some People Want Tension in Society In The Name Of Cow Protection: PM Modi

Three BSF Jawans, One Terrorist Killed In Kashmir Encounter

Nine Muslim Parties In UP To Form ‘Ittehad Front’

26/11 case: Pak wants Indian witnesses to record statements

Manager of Allahabad School Arrested After Ban on National Anthem

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Mideast

Erdoğan: I Will Approve Death Penalty If Parliament Votes

Turkish PM: Coup Bid Was Turkey's 2nd Independence War

Turkey's Erdogan stages mass rally in show of strength after coup attempt

New Israeli task force set to ‘crush any boycott’ & deport foreign BDS activists

Turkey lifts ban on Russia’s Sputnik news website

Turkish jets hit PKK targets in southeastern province

EU migrant deal not possible if Turkey's demands not met: Erdoğan

Army mistakes helped advancement of political Islam, says retired general

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South Asia

ISIS and Taliban End Infighting As Afghan And US Forces Step Up Raids

12 ISIS Militants Killed, 19 Wounded In East of Afghanistan

43 ISIS, Taliban militants surrender to Afghan forces in Nangarhar

IS militants claim capturing US weapons in Afghanistan

Explosion in Kabul leaves 1 dead, 3 others wounded

Afghan Leader: US, Israel's Footprints Seen in 1998 Killing of Iranian Diplomats

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Southeast Asia

Malaysia Warns Of Bid to Make South East Asia New Base for ISIS

Southeast Asia’s Iconic Mosques, Temples, Pagodas, and Cathedrals    

Anti-Terrorism Still Major Task for Indonesia despite Santoso Death

Indonesian rights activist Haris Azhar cancels Australia trip to fight police lawsuit

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North America

Document Reveals Obama’s Role in Approving Drone Targets

US journalist detained after trying to cross into Turkey illegally – report

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Africa

Al-Qaeda 2.0? Meet Abu Mus’ab al-Suri and his grand strategy for the Islamic State

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau

URL: http://www.newageislam.com/islamic-world-news/new-age-islam-news-bureau/pakistan-hospital-blast-kills-up-to-93,-at-least-120-injured/d/108215

 

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Pakistan hospital blast kills up to 93, at least 120 injured

8 Aug, 2016

Casualties from a terrorist attack in Baluchistan, Pakistan, have risen to at least 63, with some media reporting as many as 93 casualties and over 100 wounded, citing health officials.

It comes after an explosion rang out at the entrance of a hospital's emergency ward, apparently targeting lawyers.

As confirmed earlier, most of the victims were lawyers and journalists who had gathered at the hospital following the killing of the former president of the Baluchistan Bar Association, Bilal Anwar Kasi. Authorities believe the blast was intended for those who had gathered to accompany Kasi's body.

The Khorasan province branch of Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) has claimed responsibility for the attack. The group and other militants have been known to routinely target government and security forces in the province.

Newly released footage shows a chaotic scene of security and medical personnel working to secure the area and transport the injured to hospitals, while dozens of bodies lay in pools of blood. Journalists with Dunya news agency, which covered the death of Kasi, were among those injured.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has issued a statement expressing “deep grief and anguish over the loss of previous human lives.”

Earlier, Baluchistan Home Secretary Akbar Harifa said “the blast took place after a number of lawyers and some journalists had gathered at the hospital” following Kasi's shooting death on Monday morning.

Before IS claimed responsibility, Pakistani authorities accused India's Research & Analysis Wing (RAW) intelligence agency of staging the attack in an effort to sabotage peace in volatile Baluchistan.

rt.com/news/355056-pakistan-blast-explosion-isis/

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ISIL Commanders Stage Coup against Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi in Kirkuk

August 8th, 2016

TEHRAN (FNA)- A group of senior ISIL commanders have voiced their allegiance to Al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawaheri and staged a coup against ISIL's commander Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in the Southwestern parts of Kirkuk province, informed sources disclosed on Monday.

"This move by the ISIL commanders in Kirkuk province will be a heavy blow to the ISIL," the Arabic-language media quoted an unnamed military sources as saying on Monday.

The source noted that the coup will paly an important role in widening the rift among the ISIL commanders in other Iraqi province, including Nineveh.

In a relevant development in mid-July, political analysts underscored that the death of Abu Omar al-Shishani, a top military adviser to ISIL leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, will accelerate the terrorist group's complete break down in both Iraq and Syria.

"Al-Shishani was the top official in charge of planning and coordinating the ISIL's military operations in Iraq and Syria, recruitment of fresh forces in Caucasus, the top commander of thousands of ISIL fighters form Chechnya and the mastermind behind the capture of Mosul in Northern Iraq, therefore, his absence in leadership of ISIL will incur heavy costs on the groups," the analysts underlined.

"Al-Shishani was a charismatic figure amongst ISIL's top commanders. He was actually a symbol of ISIL's international plans to expand their territories across the historical lands of the so-called Islamic Caliphates," Russian expert Sergei Brustakov said, adding, "Death of al-Shishani will leave negative impacts on the unity of the terrorist groups affiliated to the ISIL, I mean the ISIL can not find a charismatic commander similar to al-Shishani to unite its forces."

"On the other hand, al-Shishani's absence will bring about very good opportunity for the other terrorist groups, mainly al-Nusra Front, to attract fresh forces without any serious rival," the Russian expert said.

Reports said in mid-July that the ISIL terrorist group eventually admitted that the murderous red-bearded militant, also known as Abu Omar al-Shishani, was killed.

The revelation, published by ISIL mouthpiece Amaq Agency, came four months after several sources publicly reported al-Shishani’s death.

Omar the Chechen was born in 1986 in Georgia, which was then still part of the Soviet Union, and had a reputation as a top military adviser to ISIL leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

Born with the name Tarkhan Tayumurazovich Batirashvili, the notorious militant once fought as a rebel in Chechnya before joining Georgia's military in 2006.

He fought against Russian troops before being discharged two years later for medical reasons, according to US officials.

He was arrested in 2010 for weapons possession and spent more than a year in jail, before leaving Georgia in 2012 for Istanbul and then Syria, a US official said. The militants then joined the ISIL group and pledged allegiance to Baghdadi and joined ISIL in 2013.

His death is one of the most successful operations to take out ISIL leadership in Iraq and Syria since May, when special operations forces killed the man who directed the group's oil, gas and financial operations.

en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13950518000702

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Don't plan, launch 'simple, spontaneous and effective' attack: ISIS to Western terror recruits

PTI | Aug 7, 2016

LONDON: The dreaded ISIS has instructed its Western terror recruits to embark upon "simple and effective" spontaneous attacks rather than making "intricate" plans in the latest edition of its online propaganda magazine.

"Indeed, you are behind enemy lines, able to strike them where it hurts them most. The command is clear. Kill the disbelievers," the article in 'Dabiq' reads.

"As for a final word of advice ... do not make intricate plans, but instead keep it simple and effective. If you can obtain a weapon, do so and use it as soon as possible and in a place that will cause the most damage and panic," it adds.

In the article written by an American Muslim convert fighting in Syria, followers in the West are urged to carry out attacks at home if they are thwarted from travelling to the Middle East.

"If you are unable to do so, know that you have been blessed with the opportunity to serve a much greater purpose than dwelling among Muslims," it says in its message to Western ISIS recruits.

The new instructions reported in 'The Sunday Times' emerge as Scotland Yard chief Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe warned recently that it was "a case of when, not if" an attack would be launched in the UK.

The force had also announced an additional 600 armed officers to guard major spots around London earlier this week.

Since August 2014, the terror threat level in Britain has been "severe" - the second highest level, meaning an attack is "highly likely".

timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/europe/Dont-plan-launch-simple-spontaneous-and-effective-attack-ISIS-to-Western-terror-recruits/articleshow/53585465.cms

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Government may ban Zakir Naik's NGO under UAPA

Bharti Jain | TNN | Aug 8, 2016

NEW DELHI: Legal opinion to the Home Ministry has favoured declaration of Islamic Research Foundation (IRF), the NGO run by Salafist preacher Zakir Naik, as an "unlawful association" under the Unlawful Association (Prevention) Act (UAPA). The grounds to be cited for the ban may include spreading hatred between religious communities through public speeches and activities and "forced conversions" by its members.

An 'unlawful' association is different from a 'terrorist' organisation declared under UAPA. The law, while defining an "unlawful association", covers any organisation "which has for its object any activity that is punishable under Section 153A or 153B of IPC".

Any organisation declared as 'unlawful' will be banned from recruiting members and face closure of all its offices and interests across the country.

Zakir Naik's interests here include IRF and IRF Educational Trust. The latter runs the Islamic International School in Mumbai. The NGOs also own some prime properties. Sources in the law enforcement agencies told TOI some legal issues had to be sorted before action is initiated against IRF, especially in view of absence of an anti-conversion law in Maharashtra.

The home ministry was also examining possible FCRA violations by IRF and IRF Educational Trust, both registered as "educational" NGOs under FCRA. However, once IRF is declared 'unlawful', it will face a ban on not only receiving foreign funding but also domestic funding.

A key area examined by the Central agencies while weighing option of a ban on IRF has been the alleged involvement of IRF/IRF members in "forced" conversions, as borne out by investigations into a case registered by the Kerala Police. Legal opinion was sought on whether this makes the foundation liable for criminal action, given that Maharashtra, where conversions mostly took place, is yet to enact a law against 'forced' conversions.

While Article 25 of the Constitution allows all citizens freedom to profess and practice religion of their choice, it does not expressly deal with the issue of "forced" conversions.

Though a private member's Bill dealing with forced conversions was introduced in the Maharashtra assembly last year, it was never taken up or passed by it.

Sources, however, indicated that the lack of an anti-conversion law in Maharashtra, where the IRF and IRF Educational Trust is registered, may not affect possible action against the converting entity if forcible nature of the conversion is established. According to Constitutional expert Subhash C Kashyap, just like Article 25 of the Constitution provides for 'free profession, practice and propagation of religion', a "forced" conversion may be deemed a violation as use of force to convert a person would amount to preventing him/her from following his chosen religion.

The law enforcement agencies are treading with care on any action against Zakir Naik or his interests here, given his popularity among a section of Muslims. Inputs suggest that Naik, a popular figure in the Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries which have granted him resident visa, has no plans to return to Mumbai in the near future. In a recent media interaction, he claimed to have done no wrong or ever endorsed terrorism.

timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Government-may-ban-Zakir-Naiks-NGO-under-UAPA/articleshow/53595698.cms

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Pakistan

Pakistan hospital blast kills up to 93, at least 120 injured

8 Aug, 2016

Casualties from a terrorist attack in Baluchistan, Pakistan, have risen to at least 63, with some media reporting as many as 93 casualties and over 100 wounded, citing health officials.

It comes after an explosion rang out at the entrance of a hospital's emergency ward, apparently targeting lawyers.

As confirmed earlier, most of the victims were lawyers and journalists who had gathered at the hospital following the killing of the former president of the Baluchistan Bar Association, Bilal Anwar Kasi. Authorities believe the blast was intended for those who had gathered to accompany Kasi's body.

The Khorasan province branch of Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) has claimed responsibility for the attack. The group and other militants have been known to routinely target government and security forces in the province.

Newly released footage shows a chaotic scene of security and medical personnel working to secure the area and transport the injured to hospitals, while dozens of bodies lay in pools of blood. Journalists with Dunya news agency, which covered the death of Kasi, were among those injured.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has issued a statement expressing “deep grief and anguish over the loss of previous human lives.”

Earlier, Baluchistan Home Secretary Akbar Harifa said “the blast took place after a number of lawyers and some journalists had gathered at the hospital” following Kasi's shooting death on Monday morning.

Before IS claimed responsibility, Pakistani authorities accused India's Research & Analysis Wing (RAW) intelligence agency of staging the attack in an effort to sabotage peace in volatile Baluchistan.

rt.com/news/355056-pakistan-blast-explosion-isis/

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Pakistan calls US remarks 'misplaced, self-contradictory'

PTI | Aug 8, 2016

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan has termed as "misplaced and self-contradictory" the critical remarks by the US that it was being selective in targeting terrorists and not going after the groups threatening its neighbours.

"We have taken a serious note of the remarks made by the US Deputy Spokesperson, which are self-contradictory and oblivious of the fact that Pakistan has taken concrete measures to counter terrorism in a phase-wise manner keeping in view Pakistan's national security concerns," Foreign Office spokesperson Nafees Zakaria said yesterday.

Zakaria said that Senator John McCain and other US legislators and congressmen unanimously acknowledged the remarkable achievements made by Pakistan in its counterterrorism drive.

The statement came two days after US State Department Deputy Spokesman Mark Toner in a strong message asked Pakistan to act against terror groups targeting its neighbours and not just the ones that pose a threat to it, saying that Pakistan was going after terror groups "selectively".

Pakistan said the arrest of an alleged Indian 'spy' in March this year did not prompt a reaction from the US.

"The arrest of the neighbour's active service officer who publicly confessed his state's involvement in perpetrating and financing terrorist and subversive activities in Pakistan surprisingly did not prompt any statement by the US," said Zakaria.

Pakistan also made a veiled reference to India's alleged use of Afghanistan's territory to create regional instability.

"Gen McChrystal's 2009 report had also mentioned the neighbour's activities from the territory of another of Pakistan's neighbour and that they could be detrimental to stability in Pakistan and the region," the statement alleged.

"Given these ground realities together with the inhuman treatment meted out by the 'neighbour's' forces to the defenceless and innocent people struggling for their right to self-determination," Zakaria said apparently referring to the ongoing unrest in Kashmir.

The remarks of the Deputy Spokesperson are "misplaced" and are not sensitive to Pakistan's security concerns, it added.

timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/pakistan/Pakistan-calls-US-remarks-misplaced-self-contradictory/articleshow/53597922.cms

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Hindu doctor killed in Karachi

PTI | Aug 6, 2016

KARACHI: A 56-year-old Hindu doctor has been fatally shot outside his clinic in Pakistan's port city of Karachi, in what is being described as a "religiously motivated murder".

Dr Pireetam Lakhwani, a resident of Garden East, was shot once in his chest near Bara Road in Pak Colony on Thursday.

Lakhwani was rushed to Abbasi Shaheed Hospital and later shifted to Aga Khan University Hospital where he succumbed to his injuries yesterday.

"He was returning home from his clinic when he came under attack," Lakhwani's son Rakesh Kumar was quoted as saying by The Express Tribune.

"Someone called me from my father's cellphone and informed me that he has been killed," said Kumar.

The victim's son said that his father neither had any personal enmity nor had he received any threats.

He had been running the clinic for the past 15 years. The police is yet to determine the motive behind the murder.

The doctor's clinic was located in a residential area and the incident occurred when there was a power failure in the locality. It is yet to be ascertained who was behind the attack, said police, which believe it was a targeted killing.

"No one saw the culprit or culprits. We don't even know whether there was more than one culprit," said police officer Muhammad Hasnain.

An FIR has been registered and further investigation is underway.

Meanwhile, Muttahida Qaumi Movement minority legislator Sanjay Perwani termed Lakhwani's killing a "religiously motivated murder".

"Dr Lakhwani had asked his assistant to bring a balance card for his cellphone and, when the assistant went away, someone came over there and shot him," said Perwani, adding that there was no evidence of theft to suggest some other motive.

Last week, 32-year-old Hindu doctor Anil Kumar was found dead under mysterious circumstances inside the Intensive Care Unit of a civil hospital in Karachi.

Earlier, two members of the Hindu community were among three people shot dead in an attack on a wine shop in the Abbas Town area of the metropolis.

timesofindia.indiatimes.com/nri/other-news/Hindu-doctor-killed-in-Karachi/articleshow/53570031.cms

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MQM worker sentenced to death by ATC for Waqas Shah murder

August 8th, 2016

KARACHI: A worker of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement Syed Asif Ali has been sentenced to death by Anti-terrorism Court - IX (ATC) for the murder of party activist Waqas Shah.

Asif was also slammed with a Rs 500,000 fine as a compensation to the legal heirs of the deceased by the ATC judge Farman Ali Kanasro, along with a seven-year prison sentence and Rs 50,000 fine for the possession of illegal weapon.

The execution of the capital punishment will be carried out after the approval of the Sindh High Court.

The conviction is mainly based on the testimonies of two eyewitnesses, both Rangers officials, who had identified the accused before a magistrate during an identification parade and also deposed against him before the trial court.

The court reserved on July 1 its judgement in the case pertaining to the murder of Shah till Aug 1.

Asif was charged with killing Waqas Shah during a pre-dawn raid carried out by Rangers at the party’s headquarters Nine Zero in March last year.

A heavy contingent of the paramilitary forces raided MQM headquarters, in Karachi's Azizabad neighbourhood on March 11 2015, prompting a protest by party activists and a subsequent call for a day of "peaceful mourning" across the country.

According to a Rangers' statement Ali then shot Waqas, an MQM office bearer, who stood behind him, when he saw an opportune moment.

Ali and his associates then gathered media personnel near Shah's body and started the propaganda that he was shot dead by Rangers, the statement added.

After hearing concluding arguments from both sides, Judge Kanasro reserved the judgement for pronouncement till Aug 1.

The paramilitary force claimed to have arrested the suspect in Shahdadpur in June last year and said that he was also a political worker and confessed to have killed the young activist.

Later, he was handed over to police and they also claimed that the crime weapon was found on a lead given by the accused.

A case was registered under Sections 302 (premeditated murder) and 34 (common intention) of the Pakistan Penal Code at the Azizabad police station.

Later, Section 7 of the Anti-Terrorism Act, 1997 was also incorporated in the case while the accused was also booked under the Sindh Arms Act, 2013.

dawn.com/news/1276204/mqm-worker-sentenced-to-death-by-atc-for-waqas-shah-murder

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Arab World

ISIL Commanders Stage Coup against Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi in Kirkuk

August 8th, 2016

TEHRAN (FNA)- A group of senior ISIL commanders have voiced their allegiance to Al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawaheri and staged a coup against ISIL's commander Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in the Southwestern parts of Kirkuk province, informed sources disclosed on Monday.

"This move by the ISIL commanders in Kirkuk province will be a heavy blow to the ISIL," the Arabic-language media quoted an unnamed military sources as saying on Monday.

The source noted that the coup will paly an important role in widening the rift among the ISIL commanders in other Iraqi province, including Nineveh.

In a relevant development in mid-July, political analysts underscored that the death of Abu Omar al-Shishani, a top military adviser to ISIL leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, will accelerate the terrorist group's complete break down in both Iraq and Syria.

"Al-Shishani was the top official in charge of planning and coordinating the ISIL's military operations in Iraq and Syria, recruitment of fresh forces in Caucasus, the top commander of thousands of ISIL fighters form Chechnya and the mastermind behind the capture of Mosul in Northern Iraq, therefore, his absence in leadership of ISIL will incur heavy costs on the groups," the analysts underlined.

"Al-Shishani was a charismatic figure amongst ISIL's top commanders. He was actually a symbol of ISIL's international plans to expand their territories across the historical lands of the so-called Islamic Caliphates," Russian expert Sergei Brustakov said, adding, "Death of al-Shishani will leave negative impacts on the unity of the terrorist groups affiliated to the ISIL, I mean the ISIL can not find a charismatic commander similar to al-Shishani to unite its forces."

"On the other hand, al-Shishani's absence will bring about very good opportunity for the other terrorist groups, mainly al-Nusra Front, to attract fresh forces without any serious rival," the Russian expert said.

Reports said in mid-July that the ISIL terrorist group eventually admitted that the murderous red-bearded militant, also known as Abu Omar al-Shishani, was killed.

The revelation, published by ISIL mouthpiece Amaq Agency, came four months after several sources publicly reported al-Shishani’s death.

Omar the Chechen was born in 1986 in Georgia, which was then still part of the Soviet Union, and had a reputation as a top military adviser to ISIL leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

Born with the name Tarkhan Tayumurazovich Batirashvili, the notorious militant once fought as a rebel in Chechnya before joining Georgia's military in 2006.

He fought against Russian troops before being discharged two years later for medical reasons, according to US officials.

He was arrested in 2010 for weapons possession and spent more than a year in jail, before leaving Georgia in 2012 for Istanbul and then Syria, a US official said. The militants then joined the ISIL group and pledged allegiance to Baghdadi and joined ISIL in 2013.

His death is one of the most successful operations to take out ISIL leadership in Iraq and Syria since May, when special operations forces killed the man who directed the group's oil, gas and financial operations.

en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13950518000702

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ISIL Facing Collapse in Mosul, Arresting Coup Plotters

August 8th, 2016

TEHRAN (FNA)- The ISIL terrorist group has arrested a large number of tribal leaders in Mosul for fear of facing imminent collapse in the capital of Nineveh province, informed sources said on Monday.

"Tens of tribal leaders who had previously voiced allegiance to the ISIL have been arrested by the terrorist group," the Arabic-language media quoted an unnamed local source as saying on Monday. 

He said that last Wednesday, the ISIL attacked the families of some Iraqi tribal leaders in Southeastern Mosul and arrested them and their sons.

The source went on to say that the ISIL plans to arrest anyone who it deems as a threat.

In a relevant development on Friday, the ISIL terrorists will be uprooted in Iraq in the coming months, a senior Iraqi volunteer forces (Hashd al-Shaabi) commander announced.

"The ISIL terrorist group will come to an end within a maximum three-month period," Hashd al-Shaabi Commander Ali al-Yaseri said.

He noted that the Iraqi joint military forces are now focusing on other areas of Anbar province after purging terrorists from al-Khalediya Island.

Also on Sunday, a top ISIL member in charge of the terror group’s financial resources in Iraqi city of Mosul reportedly stole a sizable amount of money and fled along with a number of militants.

Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) official from Mosul said in a statement that ‘ISIL’s Wali  of Baitul-Mal’ in Mosul along with three other militants have fled the state to an unknown location after they took out a large amount of money and other valuable archaeological pieces from the group’s treasury known as Baitul-Mal, BasNews reported.

The ISIL later executed six guards of its treasury building on charge of facilitating the robbery, the statement added.

The Iraq's second largest city of Mosul fell to the ISIL militants in mid-2014, and the city became the group's main bastion in Iraq which it has been keeping the hold of it ever since.

en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13950518000754

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Syrian Analyst: Kerry's Visit to Turkey Aimed at Preventing More Failures in Aleppo

August 8th, 2016

TEHRAN (FNA)- A senior Syrian analyst underlined that US Secretary of State John Kerry's recent visit to Turkey was aimed at reactivating Ankara in assisting the terrorists in Syria after heavy failures in the Aleppo battle.

"The US has become crazy after the recent developments in Aleppo battlefields," Akhil Aid told FNA on Monday.

"Kerry's trip is aimed at reactivating Turkey's role in Syria battles and hatching a plot to break the siege of the terrorists who are entangled in heavy clashes with the Syrian army and resistance forces in regions between Ramousa and military academies (Southern Aleppo)," he added.

Aid underscored the importance of the Aleppo battle, and said it will affect the regional and international equations and the victorious side will have all the winning cards.

Turkey is among the main supporters of the militant groups operating in Syria, with reports saying that Ankara actively trains and arms the Takfiri elements there and facilitates their safe passage into the violence-wracked country. Ankara has also been accused of buying smuggled oil from the ISIL.

But, only one week before the military coup in Turkey, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan signaled a U-turn change in foreign policy.

Four days after the coup, Erdogan appeared in front of the TV cameras again, saying that he would soon declare a new foreign policy which would put an end to disputes and differences with Turkey's neighboring states.

United Nations Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura estimates that over 400,000 people have been killed in the conflict that has gripped Syria for over five years now. The UN has stopped its official casualty count in Syria, citing its inability to verify the figures that it receives from various sources.

Le Figaro reported in July that French military intelligence estimates show that around 100 foreigners continue to enter Syria from Turkey each week to join the ISIL.

"According to the Directorate for Military Intelligence (DRM) in Paris, each week, around 100 foreigners continue to cross Turkey into Syria to join the ISIL," French daily Le Figaro reported, citing sources.

France's foreign minister said recently that questions needed to be asked on whether Turkey was a viable partner in the fight against the ISIL in Syria.

en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13950518000551

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Hundreds join crucial battle for Syria's Aleppo

AFP | Aug 8, 2016

BEIRUT: Syrian regime forces and rebel factions sent hundreds of reinforcements to Aleppo on Monday as opposition fighters announced an all-out offensive to take the country's second city.

The battle for Syria's former economic powerhouse is intensifying after an opposition advance at the weekend broke through a three-week government siege of the city's rebel-held east, dealing a major setback to regime troops.

Rebel forces on Sunday announced a bid to capture all of Aleppo city, which if successful would mark the biggest opposition victory yet in Syria's five-year civil war.

But forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad are putting up a fierce fight and have begun pouring reinforcements into the city.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a monitoring group, said some 2,000 pro-regime fighters from Syria, Iraq, Iran and Lebanese Shiite movement Hezbollah had arrived in Aleppo since late Sunday.

"Both sides are amassing their fighters in preparation for the great battle of Aleppo," said Rami Abdel Rahman, the head of the Britain-based Observatory.

The Monday edition of Al-Watan, a Syrian daily close to the government, reported that the army had received "the necessary military reinforcements to launch the battle to retake the areas from which it withdrew."

Citing a source on the ground, the paper said military warplanes "are carrying out a barrage of air strikes targeting the armed groups."

Aleppo has been roughly divided between government forces in the west and rebel groups in the east since fighting first broke out there in mid-2012.

After years of stalemate, fighting for the city entered a new phase last month when government forces took control of the last supply road into rebel-held areas, leaving some 250,000 people in eastern districts surrounded.

In a desperate bid to break the siege, a coalition of rebels, Islamists and jihadists overran a series of buildings in a military academy on the southwestern edges of Aleppo on Saturday.

They then pushed northeast to link up with rebel groups inside the city.

Emboldened by the victory, the fighters -- largely grouped under the banner of the Army of Conquest -- then set their sights on recapturing all of Aleppo city.

In a statement on Sunday the Army of Conquest announced "the start of a new phase to liberate all of Aleppo," pledging to "double the number of fighters for this next battle."

Abdel Rahman told AFP on Monday that hundreds of opposition fighters had arrived in Aleppo from the surrounding province and neighbouring Idlib.

Most were from the Fateh al-Sham Front, the powerful jihadist group previously affiliated with Al-Qaeda that leads the Army of Conquest. The group changed its name from Al-Nusra Front last month after breaking with Al-Qaeda.

Fateh al-Sham boasted at the weekend that it had captured military vehicles and artillery from government positions.

Residents of both sides of the city have been living in fear of competing sieges of their neighbourhoods in recent weeks.

The rebel advance at the weekend cut off a key regime access route on the city's southern edges, which had been used to bring in supplies for the estimated 1.2 million residents of western districts.

Overnight, regime forces brought in dozens of trucks carrying food and fuel into the western neighbourhoods via the northern Castello Road, according to the Observatory.

"This is the new route that the regime forces are securing as a temporary alternative to the route they previously depended on," Abdel Rahman said.

Syrian state television Al-Ikhbariyah confirmed that "fuel, food, and vegetables entered Aleppo city."

A military source in Damascus denied that the city's west had been besieged, saying "the situation is under control and the situation is not worrisome."

Seven trucks of fruits and vegetables entered the eastern rebel-held districts on Sunday and were quickly purchased by residents.

More than 280,000 people have been killed since Syria's conflict erupted in March 2011 with anti-government protests.

Half of the pre-war population has been displaced, including an estimated five million people seeking refuge in neighbouring countries.

International efforts to resolve the conflict have repeatedly failed though the United Nations is hoping that peace talks can resume later this month.

timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/Hundreds-join-crucial-battle-for-Syrias-Aleppo/articleshow/53598479.cms

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Iraqi Forces Repulse ISIL's Attack on Al-Qayyara Region

August 8th, 2016

TEHRAN (FNA)- Iraq's joint military forces repelled ISIL's attack on al-Qayyara region and its airbase in the Southern part of Nineveh province, killing tens of terrorists in fierce clashes.

"At least 110 ISIL terrorists were killed in the Iraqi forces' counterattack in al-Qayyara region," the Arabic-language media quoted a high-ranking Iraqi officer as saying on Monday.

He said that the ISIL had launched heavy attacks on the Iraqi forces' positions in al-Qayyara region.

In a relevant development on Saturday, a local provincial official announced that all villages bordering al-Qayyara airbase had been seized back by Iraq's joint military forces.

Governor of Al-Qayyara Region Saleh Hassan Ali reiterated that the road linking al-Qayyara airbase to Mosul has also been recaptured.

He noted that al-Qayyara-Mosul road is 30 kilometers, and said that the Iraqi forces are seizing back more ISIL-controlled areas.

In a relevant development in late July, the Iraqi army and popular forces continued their advances towards the Central parts of al-Qayyara town as one of the most important ISIL bases in Southern Mosul.

As their latest achievement in Southern Mosul, the army purged the ISIL terrorists from al-Ausajah village near Haj Ali town of Qayyara region as the last ISIL base on the left side of Tigris river's Eastern coasts.

"After liberation of Haj Ali town, we should have liberated other strategic villages too, including the Eastern Ausajah and Western Ausajah villages, and we succeeded to take full control of them within some hours," General Emad al-Issawi said.

en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13950518000609

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Security Forces Foil Terrorist Plot to Blow Up Police-IRGC Base in Eastern Iran

August 8th, 2016

TEHRAN (FNA)- Iranian Interior Minister Abdolreza Rahmani Fazli announced that the country's security forces have defused the terrorists' plots to blow up a military base used both by the Law Enforcement Police and the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) in Eastern Iran.

"As I said before, the terrorists sought to blow up one of the bases which was both used by the Law Enforcement Police and the IRGC," Rahmani Fazli told the Iranian Labor News Agency on Monday.

"The terrorists had dug a tunnel to this end, but were stopped before taking any action," he added.

Rahmani Fazli had announced late July that the country's security forces discovered a secret tunnel in Eastern Iran that the terrorists sought to use for sabotage operations.

"Two nights before, we discovered a 40-meter tunnel in the 20-meter depth of the earth in the Eastern parts of the country and they (the terrorists) intended to use it secretly in ripe conditions for conducting explosion and other operations," Rahmani Fazli said, addressing a forum in Tehran last month.

"40 people were arrested in this regard," he added, but declined to provide any further details.

In a relevant remarks in July, an informed source also said that the Iranian security forces dismantled a terrorist cell in the Southeastern province of Sistan and Balouchestan.

"Members of a team which sought to carry out sabotage acts and blow up different places in Khash were identified and arrested," the source said.

In the same region in June, the Iranian security forces arrested a member of Ansar al-Forqan terrorist group.

"During the Law Enforcement Police's clashes with members of a terrorist group in Khash in the last (Iranian) month (of Khordad - mid June), several people were killed but one of them was arrested alive and his confessions showed that these people were members of Ansar al-Forqan terrorist grouplet," said Mohammad Marziyeh, the general-prosecutor of Zahedan city.

A senior Iranian police commander announced on June 13 that the country's Law Enforcement troops have dismantled a terrorist cell in Sistan and Balouchestan province after killing five of them in fierce clashes.

"The members of the terrorist group who had come to the region on a sabotage mission were trapped by the police," Commander of Sistan and Balouchestan province’s Police Force Brigadier General Hossein Rahimi said.

He noted that five terrorists were killed and two others are at large in the city of Khash in Sistan and Balouchestan province, and said, "One Iranian Law Enforcement soldier was also killed during the clashes with the terrorists."

Brigadier General Rahimi said that a large amount of explosives and improvised explosive devices (IEDs) were also seized from the terrorists.

Also in June, the Iranian intelligence ministry announced that the country's security forces have defused several suicide and terrorist attacks in different provinces, including Tehran.

"One of the biggest terrorist plots of Takfiri Wahhabi groups was thwarted" in recent days, the intelligence ministry said in a statement.

The statement added that the Takfiri terrorist groups had plotted imminent bombings in different parts of the country, including Tehran and a number of other provinces, during the religious ceremonies in the holy month of Ramadan.

The ministry ensured that all these have been foiled by the country's security and intelligence officials.

"The terrorists have been apprehended and a number of ready-to-explode bombs and a large amount of explosive materials has been discovered and seized from them," it said.

Given the continued field investigations in and outside the country and interrogation of terrorists that is currently underway, more information will be released in future, the statement added.

en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13950518000457

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Iran bans Pokemon Go due to 'security concerns': report

August 8th, 2016

Authorities in Iran have banned the Pokemon Go app citing ‘security concerns’ which currently are unspecified, the BBC reported on Friday.

The High Council of Virtual Spaces, an official body overseeing online activity, made the decision.

Iran is one of many countries that have raised security-related concerns connected to the gaming app. However, it is the first country to ban Pokemon Go, a game that challengers users to search for and catch cartoon monsters in real-world locations.

Despite restrictions, Pokemon Go has been a top trending topic on the Iran's social media forums in recent weeks.

According to reports last month, Iranian authorities were expecting the creators of the app to cooperate with them regarding some changes.

Meanwhile, another Asian country, Indonesia, has banned police officers from playing the game while on duty, and a Frenchman was arrested last month after wandering into a military base while trying to catch a Pokemon.

A leading Saudi cleric said a fatwa issued against an earlier Pokemon card game also applied to the new app.

Earlier last week, authorities in New York state said they would ban around 3,000 registered sex offenders from playing Pokemon Go while they are on parole.

The ban is aimed at safeguarding the children who play the game.

dawn.com/news/1276194/iran-bans-pokemon-go-due-to-security-concerns-report

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Over 600 Jeish Al-Fatah Terrorists Killed in Aleppo's Southern Battlefield Last Week

August 8th, 2016

TEHRAN (FNA)- At least 600 members of Jeish al-Fatah terrorist group were killed and many more were wounded in clashes with the Syrian Army troops and their popular allies in the Southwestern countryside of Aleppo last week, taking the total number of terrorist casualties in Aleppo clashes in the last week to 1,200, military sources said.

"The Syrian government forces' anti-terrorism operations Southwest of Aleppo city have claimed the lives of at least 600 terrorists," sources said.

"81 terrorists were killed while using bomb-laden suicide vehicles against government forces' positions," the sources said.

"Jeish al-Fatah had gathered nearly 4,000 fighters till the second phase of operations to break army's siege of militant-held districts in Aleppo, but their number increased to 9,000 after Jiesh al-Fatah's call for more combatants," they went on to say.

Sources said on Sunday that a large number of ready-to-fight combatants of the Lebanese Hezbollah have arrived in al-Hamdaniyeh district to join the Syrian government forces to beat back Jeish al-Fatah terrorist from the Southern and Southwestern countryside of Aleppo.

"Hezbollah fighters, including Rezwan battalion, have now been deployed to al-Hamdaniyeh," sources said, adding, "There is no terrorist threat in al-Hamdaniyeh and Hezbollah fighters will be dispatched to al-Ramousiyeh to confront Jeish al-Fatah's offensives there."

"Southern and Eastern parts of al-Ramousiyeh, cement factory, al-Ameriyeh in Northwestern side of al-Ramousiyeh and the region 606 are under full control of the Syrian army and its popular allies," the sources said.

"The entire communication lines of the terrorist groups in the Southern and Southwestern countryside of Aleppo are being strictly monitored by the government forces and no terrorist vehicle can move on the region's roads safely," they added.

"In the meantime, military and logistical supplies have been provided for the Syrian army and its allies via al-Malaah farms," the sources went on to say.    

en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13950518000537

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Europe

Don't plan, launch 'simple, spontaneous and effective' attack: ISIS to Western terror recruits

PTI | Aug 7, 2016

LONDON: The dreaded ISIS has instructed its Western terror recruits to embark upon "simple and effective" spontaneous attacks rather than making "intricate" plans in the latest edition of its online propaganda magazine.

"Indeed, you are behind enemy lines, able to strike them where it hurts them most. The command is clear. Kill the disbelievers," the article in 'Dabiq' reads.

"As for a final word of advice ... do not make intricate plans, but instead keep it simple and effective. If you can obtain a weapon, do so and use it as soon as possible and in a place that will cause the most damage and panic," it adds.

In the article written by an American Muslim convert fighting in Syria, followers in the West are urged to carry out attacks at home if they are thwarted from travelling to the Middle East.

"If you are unable to do so, know that you have been blessed with the opportunity to serve a much greater purpose than dwelling among Muslims," it says in its message to Western ISIS recruits.

The new instructions reported in 'The Sunday Times' emerge as Scotland Yard chief Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe warned recently that it was "a case of when, not if" an attack would be launched in the UK.

The force had also announced an additional 600 armed officers to guard major spots around London earlier this week.

Since August 2014, the terror threat level in Britain has been "severe" - the second highest level, meaning an attack is "highly likely".

timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/europe/Dont-plan-launch-simple-spontaneous-and-effective-attack-ISIS-to-Western-terror-recruits/articleshow/53585465.cms

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Out of Syria: Muslim refugees must stand behind the Europe

August 8th, 2016

I know not one Muslim who believes that acts such as the killing of Father Hamel is justifiable

I am so angry about events of the past few weeks. On the one hand Europe – particularly France – is seeing only now, for the first time at close quarters, the depravity of violence, man against man, that those living in the Middle East and parts of North Africa have had to cope with for decades. Our experience of recent years and the very reason why many millions of us are today enduring a form of suspended living is now, tragically, Europe’s reality.

On the other hand, of course, Europe did not ask for this immense challenge to be visited upon it, though the imperialist history of some of its states and more recent catastrophic political misjudgments have been contributing factors. No place is safe. Concert venues, airports, shopping malls, seaside boulevards and, most poignantly of all, a church, are the new playgrounds of men of violence who, through their utterly warped worldview, believe that cowardly and wanton brutality can be justified.

As a Muslim, albeit one who isn’t orthodox, I want to reject any attempt to interpret the Koran in a way that would justify such terror.

I talk with my friends whose religious beliefs are stronger. They’re young, bright, intelligent, independent and resourceful. Each of them has a story: why they were forced to flee home and the journey they had to take in order to reach Europe.

Christian tradition

They see me as different. It’s not just that I’m older. Recently, I didn’t observe Ramadan, which some found difficult, but most understood that, before the war, I’d lived overseas and that the practice of my faith had loosened. In my 20s I’d become more open to a less restricted view of the world. When we were in the camp in Piraeus they would see me reading the Bible. I’m not sure they all believed that I was simply trying to educate myself about the Christian tradition yet I’ve explained to them that there seems to be a great deal that the Bible and the Koran share.

I do pray. My prayer is less defined than before, but it’s genuine. I think about what I’ve learned through my faith, through the way in which, growing up in Syria, we were taught the difference between right and wrong, the value of love and the sacredness of human life. When I read the Bible I saw the same threads that are woven into the Koran, which I studied as a young man. Later I had started to question the rigidity of some elements of my faith. My views became more liberal than the strict application of my faith would allow. I’m not saying which is better. Nor am I suggesting that those who are practising their Muslim faith in an orthodox fashion should be feared. They should not. The orthodox Muslim is Allah-fearing in the same sense that an orthodox Christian fears God. Belief in Allah or God means, I believe, placing value on human life.

Who is the man that would think it right to slaughter an elderly priest? What is in the heart of men who could, for even one moment, believe it just to force an elderly man of peace on to his knees in his place of worship and to then cut his throat?

My world is dominated by Muslims and I know not one Muslim who believes that such an act is justifiable. Slaughter is the only appropriate word. Religious teaching is full of imagery around the slaying of animals – sheep and goats – as a form of sacrifice. They were slaughtered in the manner in which this noble and quiet man of God, Father Hamel, was slain in his church outside Rouen. In the name of Allah? In the name of Muslim people?

Such a claim is deeply offensive to those who believe in the teachings of Muhammad and who consider their faith to be as noble as any set of beliefs.

Europeans must be worried by recent events. This is the exact motivation of the men of violence – to spread fear and suspicion of Islam. The scale and brutality of the incidents and their simplistic profiling as being carried out in the name of Islam delivers the objective. Only the most egregious interpretation of Muhammad’s teachings could justify such acts, but this is lost in fear, which breeds hostility and creates the negative dynamic to fuel disharmony.

Those who murder Christians in the name of Islam are killing even greater numbers of Muslims and have, on occasion like in Medina, entered our places of worship to spread fear. It is a reign of terror sponsored, not just by Islamic State, but by the regime in Syria and others with the objective of provoking a reaction that would further divide us all.

Living peacefully together

Those most determined on this path want to spread a level of fear that would undermine the prospect of people of different faiths living peacefully together. Eminent Muslim scholars make this point and while their voices aren’t given enough attention they must continue to challenge the stereotype.

As Muslim refugees we must be prepared to stand behind the Europe that’s welcoming us. This isn’t about a silent majority. All of us getting this second chance must be vocal and active. I already owe France. It’s my responsibility to support and defend it in whatever way I can. I will do so as a Muslim who, as a child, was taught that Muhammad believed in Jesus and in the moral law.

Mustafa is a pseudonym adopted to protect the identity of the author, who is a refugee from Syria. He was in conversation with Fintan Drury

irishtimes.com/opinion/out-of-syria-muslim-refugees-must-stand-behind-the-europe-1.2749062

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'Terror' probe opened over attack on Belgian police: PM Charles Michel

AFP | Aug 7, 2016

BRUSSELS: Belgium's prime minister announced on Sunday a 'terror' probe into a machete attack that wounded two policewomen, in what appeared to be the latest in a string of jihadist attacks in Europe.

"We have been informed by federal prosecutors that an investigation has started for attempted terrorist murder... given certain elements (in the case)," PM Charles Michel told reporters.

The prime minister was referring to the attacker's cry of "Allahu Akbar" (God is greatest) during the assault in front of a police station.

timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/europe/Terror-probe-opened-over-attack-on-Belgian-police-PM-Charles-Michel/articleshow/53585479.cms

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India

Government may ban Zakir Naik's NGO under UAPA

Bharti Jain | TNN | Aug 8, 2016

NEW DELHI: Legal opinion to the Home Ministry has favoured declaration of Islamic Research Foundation (IRF), the NGO run by Salafist preacher Zakir Naik, as an "unlawful association" under the Unlawful Association (Prevention) Act (UAPA). The grounds to be cited for the ban may include spreading hatred between religious communities through public speeches and activities and "forced conversions" by its members.

An 'unlawful' association is different from a 'terrorist' organisation declared under UAPA. The law, while defining an "unlawful association", covers any organisation "which has for its object any activity that is punishable under Section 153A or 153B of IPC".

Any organisation declared as 'unlawful' will be banned from recruiting members and face closure of all its offices and interests across the country.

Zakir Naik's interests here include IRF and IRF Educational Trust. The latter runs the Islamic International School in Mumbai. The NGOs also own some prime properties. Sources in the law enforcement agencies told TOI some legal issues had to be sorted before action is initiated against IRF, especially in view of absence of an anti-conversion law in Maharashtra.

The home ministry was also examining possible FCRA violations by IRF and IRF Educational Trust, both registered as "educational" NGOs under FCRA. However, once IRF is declared 'unlawful', it will face a ban on not only receiving foreign funding but also domestic funding.

A key area examined by the Central agencies while weighing option of a ban on IRF has been the alleged involvement of IRF/IRF members in "forced" conversions, as borne out by investigations into a case registered by the Kerala Police. Legal opinion was sought on whether this makes the foundation liable for criminal action, given that Maharashtra, where conversions mostly took place, is yet to enact a law against 'forced' conversions.

While Article 25 of the Constitution allows all citizens freedom to profess and practice religion of their choice, it does not expressly deal with the issue of "forced" conversions.

Though a private member's Bill dealing with forced conversions was introduced in the Maharashtra assembly last year, it was never taken up or passed by it.

Sources, however, indicated that the lack of an anti-conversion law in Maharashtra, where the IRF and IRF Educational Trust is registered, may not affect possible action against the converting entity if forcible nature of the conversion is established. According to Constitutional expert Subhash C Kashyap, just like Article 25 of the Constitution provides for 'free profession, practice and propagation of religion', a "forced" conversion may be deemed a violation as use of force to convert a person would amount to preventing him/her from following his chosen religion.

The law enforcement agencies are treading with care on any action against Zakir Naik or his interests here, given his popularity among a section of Muslims. Inputs suggest that Naik, a popular figure in the Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries which have granted him resident visa, has no plans to return to Mumbai in the near future. In a recent media interaction, he claimed to have done no wrong or ever endorsed terrorism.

timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Government-may-ban-Zakir-Naiks-NGO-under-UAPA/articleshow/53595698.cms

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Some people want tension in society in the name of cow protection: PM Modi

Ankita Rajeshwari | Aug 7, 2016

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NEW DELHI: A day after breaking his silence on the recent incidents of violence by cow vigilantes, Prime Minister Narendra Modi + on Sunday once again called for stringent action against fake cow protectors.

Speaking at the inauguration function of Telangana's drinking water programme 'Mission Bhagiratha',, the PM urged the people and all the state governments to be wary of people he termed 'fake cow protectors'. "I request the state governments to make a list of such fake vigilantes and take stringent action against them. These people do not care about protection of cows. They just want to create tension in society in the name of cow protection," PM Modi said. "India is a county full of diversities, different values and traditions and protecting its "unity and integrity is our prime responsibility," PM said, adding that a 'handful of such people were destroying the social fabric and creating conflict in our society'.

On Saturday, PM Modi had spoken about such self-proclaimed 'Gau Rakshaks' at his townhall-style meet in New Delhi. "I feel very angry at this Gau Raksha( cow protection) business. Some people indulge in anti-social activities in night and turn 'Gau Rakshaks' during the day. They have opened "shops" in name of cow protection. All states should take stern action against these people," the PM said while addressing the event at the Indira Gandhi Stadium Complex in New Delhi.

In his address in Telangana, he also urged the 'true cow protectors' to identify these people with vested interests because a handful of fake cow protectors are giving a bad name to the entire community of people who truly care and worship cows. The PM said he salutes real "gau rakshaks" and "gau sevaks" and appealed them to come forward to expose fake "gau rakshaks". "I appeal to you to come forward lest the good work being done by you will be destroyed by a handful of people for their selfish interests," he added. He also appealed people to link cow with agriculture, saying this will give stability to the sector and contribute to economic development. "Cow is an asset and it can never become a burden," he remarked.

Prime Minister's comments come at a time when his government and the BJP are facing a lot of flak over incidents of violence against Dalits and Muslims by cow vigilantes in various states including Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh. The opposition parties had been criticising the Prime Minister for his "silence" amid growing incidents of such attacks.

timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Some-people-want-tension-in-society-in-the-name-of-cow-protection-PM-Modi/articleshow/53585253.cms

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Three BSF jawans, one terrorist killed in Kashmir encounter

TNN & Agencies | Aug 8, 2016

SRINAGAR: Three BSF personnel, including an officer, and a militant were killed on Monday in an operation in Machil sector near the Line of Control in Kashmir, officials said here.

Security forces launched the operation in Machil sector in north Kashmir's Kupwara district following information about presence of militants in the area, an Army official said.

One militant and two BSF jawans were killed while five other security force personnel were injured in the initial firefight between the two sides, the official said.

Among the injured personnel — three BSF jawans and two Army soldiers — condition of one BSF jawan was critical.

The injured BSF jawan later succumbed to injuries, a police official said.

He said the slain BSF personnel were identified as sub inspector Mohinder Yadav, head constable C P Singh and constable Babu Shaan.

The encounter is still under way.

Meanwhile, normal life in the Kashmir valley remained affected for the 31st consecutive day due to the curbs imposed by the authorities and the separatist sponsored strike.

Schools, colleges, business establishments, petrol pumps and private offices remained closed while public transport remained off the roads.

The attendance in government offices and banks was also thin, the official said.

Mobile internet services continued to remain snapped in the entire valley where the outgoing facility on prepaid connections is also barred.

The separatist camp has extended the shutdown call in Kashmir till August 12.

timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Three-BSF-jawans-one-terrorist-killed-in-Kashmir-encounter/articleshow/53594857.cms

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Nine Muslim parties in UP to form ‘Ittehad Front’

August 8, 2016

Lucknow: To ensure there is no division in Muslim votes which will benefit the BJP, nine Muslim outfits in Uttar Pradesh have set up an ‘Ittehad Front’.

This followed a campaign initiated by Ismail Batliwala in Mumbai a year ago.

The parties which have formed the alliance include Peace Party, Parcham Party of India, National Ulema Council, Muslim Majlis, Awami Vikas Party, Social Democratic Party of India, Welfare Party of India, National League and Indian Union Muslim League (IUML).

IUML state president Mohd Mateen Khan told IANS that a large section of Muslims had shown keen interest in the Front. Uttar Pradesh will see assembly elections next year.

siasat.com/news/nine-muslim-parties-form-ittehad-front-998217/

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26/11 case: Pak wants Indian witnesses to record statements

PTI | Aug 8, 2016

Mumbai attack mastermind Zaki-ur Rehman LakhviMumbai attack mastermind Zaki-ur Rehman Lakhvi

LAHORE: Pakistan has directed a top official to follow up with India the matter of sending 24 witnesses of the Mumbai attack case to Pakistan to record their statements so that the trial in the case could be completed at the earliest.

"The Foreign Ministry has written to its director general South Asia to take up the matter of sending 24 Indian witnesses to Pakistan for recording of their statements in the trial court in the Mumbai attack case here with the Indian Government," Prosecution chief (in Mumbai case) Chaudhry Azhar told PTI.

He said earlier the foreign ministry had directly written to the Indian government about sending the 24 witnesses to Pakistan and now it has asked the DG South Asia to follow up the matter.

"We have already made it clear that the Mumbai case cannot move forward unless India sends its witnesses here to record their important statements," he said.

According to the prosecution, all Pakistani witnesses have recorded their statements.

"The ball is in India's court. If it wants early conclusion of the Mumbai case, it will have to send its witnesses here," Azhar, who is also a special prosecutor of the Federal Investigation Agency, said.

Recently the foreign office of Pakistan said it had asked India to provide "additional evidence" for the early completion of the Mumbai attack trial.

India has been urging Pakistan to complete the trial at the earliest. It has said that enough evidence has been shared with Pakistan to prosecute the accused.

Mumbai attack mastermind Zaki-ur Rehman Lakhvi, Abdul Wajid, Mazhar Iqbal, Hamad Amin Sadiq, Shahid Jameel Riaz, Jamil Ahmed and Younis Anjum are accused of abetment to murder, attempted murder, planning and executing the Mumbai attack.

Lakhvi is living at an undisclosed location after he got released from jail on bail a year ago. The other six suspects are in Adiala Jail, Rawalpindi.

The case has been going on for more than six years.

timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/26/11-case-Pak-wants-Indian-witnesses-to-record-statements/articleshow/53598136.cms

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Manager of Allahabad school arrested after ban on national anthem

PTI | Aug 8, 2016

ALLAHABAD: Police have arrested the manager of a school here who refused to allow recital of national anthem+ on Independence Day, while authorities today began proceedings for sealing the school, which was allegedly running illegally, and stepped up security due to tension in the area.

Zia-ul Haq, manager of MA Convent School in Baghara locality, was booked under the Prevention of Insults to National Honour Act and arrested, officials said.

A magisterial inquiry has been ordered to look into how the school was allowed to run for two decades without any clearance from authorities and the allegation against the manager, they said.

BJP had demanded action against the school while local units of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad and the Hindu Yuva Vahini had on Sunday threatened to launch an agitation if the school was not shut down within 72 hours.

"Orders for sealing the school have been issued.

"The education department has been requested to arrange shifting of nearly 300 students enrolled there to some other school so that their studies do not suffer," officiating District Magistrate of Allahabad Andra Vamsee said.

An FIR was filed by the education department in the matter which came to light when eight of the school's teachers, including its principal, resigned last week after they were denied permission to hold recital of the national anthem during the upcoming Independence Day celebrations.

Haq had defended the move, claiming that the phrase 'Bharat Bhagya Vidhata' in the national anthem's opening stanza violated the basic tenets of Islam.

The DM said, "A magisterial probe has also been ordered to look into how the school was allowed to run for two decades without any clearance from authorities. Education department officials say that recently they had even sent a notice asking them to shut down the school which was being run illegally".

"Moreover, the school's manager has reportedly said that he has never allowed recital of the national anthem ever since the school started.

It could have resulted in animosity between members of different communities, he added.

Meanwhile, police and Provincial Armed Constabulary have been deployed in the vicinity of the school to prevent any untoward incident in the area, Additional SP (City) Rajesh Yadav said.

timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Manager-of-Allahabad-school-arrested-after-ban-on-national-anthem/articleshow/53597179.cms

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Mideast

Erdoğan: I will approve death penalty if parliament votes

August/07/2016

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan told a rally of millions of people in Istanbul on Aug. 7 that he would approve the death penalty if parliament voted for it, following last month's failed coup.

Erdoğan started his speech at the "Democracy and Martyrs' Rally” against the July 15 coup attempt by thanking the people who stood against the tanks and planes used by the coup plotters.

He wished his condolences to the 240 people killed by coup soldiers, of whom 172 were civilians, 63 were police officers and five were soldiers. He also wished speedy recovery to the 2,195 wounded.

During Erdoğan’s speech the crowd repeatedly shouted that they wanted death penalty to be reintroduced.

“If the parliament accepts the reintroduction of death penalty, I will accept it,” he told the crowd, adding that the death penalty exists in the U.S., Japan and “many other countries.”

“If the people want death penalty, I think the political parties will also accept it,” he also said, as he noted that  the death penalty existed until 1984 in Turkey.

Erdoğan said the network of U.S.-based cleric Fethullah Gülen, who is blamed for the coup attempt three weeks ago, must be destroyed within the framework of the law.

Saying that the people showed that they won’t accept slavery on the night of the failed coup bid, Erdoğan added that Gülen movement calculated many mischiefs, but couldn’t take the people into account.

“Night of July 15 coup bid showed this country cannot be undone,” Erdoğan said.

“Our presence today upsets our enemies just like it did on the morning of July 16,” he said.

hurriyetdailynews.com/erdogan-i-will-approve-death-penalty-if-parliament-votes.aspx?pageID=238&nID=102581&NewsCatID=341

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Turkish PM: Coup bid was Turkey's 2nd independence war

August/07/2016

The July 15 coup attempt was Turkey's second War of Independence, Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım said Aug. 7 during his speech at a Democracy and Martyrs' Rally in Istanbul.

The prime minister compared the coup bid, which led to 240 deaths, to the 1919-23 conflict that gave birth to modern Turkey.     

“They attempted to occupy our land disguised in Turkish military  uniform and steal away the national will,” he said, referring to the coup supporters.

“Thank God and thanks to our martyrs lying honorably under the ground, today we are living on this land united as one, and with our honor, independence and solidarity intact.    

“Every coup which does not kill us, makes us stronger. Just like here and now.”     

The prime minister also praised the opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) and Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) for their support for the national will and democracy.

Yıldırım vowed to clear the country of the Fethullah Terrorist Organization (FETÖ), which is held responsible for the coup attempt, and bring its leader Fethullah Gülen, who lives a self-claimed exile in the U.S., to justice.     

“The terrorist leader will come to Turkey and account for his  [actions],” he told millions of people crowded into Yenikapi Square. “We will not act in revenge. We will abide by the law.”     

The prime minister also vowed to maintain and boost the atmosphere of reconciliation between the government and opposition. “We will do our best to maintain this historic unity,” he said.     

hurriyetdailynews.com/turkish-pm-coup-bid-was-turkeys-2nd-independence-war--.aspx?pageID=238&nID=102579&NewsCatID=341

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New Israeli task force set to ‘crush any boycott’ & deport foreign BDS activists

8 Aug, 2016

Israel has formed a new joint ministerial task force to track down and deport Boycott, Divest and Sanctions (BDS) movement activists that, according to Jewish officials, delegitimize and destroy the country from within.

The BDS international activists work to end international support for what they believe is Israel’s “oppression of Palestinians.” BDS calls for boycotts, sanctions, and divestment from Israel. Tel Aviv, however, views the movement as a threat to its national security.

The new task force announced Sunday by Strategic Affairs Minister Gilad Erdan and Interior Minister Arye Dery will effectively spy on hundreds of activists as well as organizations in the country. The data collected will then be used to identify foreign BDS activists and build a case against them, to deport and deny them future entry to Israel.

The task force “is a necessary step in light of the malicious intentions of delegitimizing activists who work to spread lies and twist the truth about the reality in our region,” Erdan said.

“We have a responsibility to do everything possible to crush any boycott and to state clearly that we will not allow the State of Israel to be harmed,” added Deri. The statement also accused dozens of anti-Israel groups of trying to gather information to be used in “delegitimizing” Israel.

Haaretz reported citing a government source that several foreign activists have already been identified by Israeli intelligence, with many entering Israel as tourists. The task force will now define “the criteria by which a foreign activist will be marked for deportation or barred from entry.” The official added that police representatives also agreed that BDS activists are provoking Palestinians in the West Bank to clash with Israeli forces.

Earlier on Sunday, the director-general of the Strategic Affairs Ministry praised the government's campaigns against the BDS movement, as Sima Vaknin-Gil spoke of international delegitimization of Israel as a threat to the state.

“The bottom line is that today, among nations of the world, Israel is seen as a pariah state,” she said promising to present a propaganda narrative that will replace that of boycotts and delegitimization. “Our goal is that by 2025, no one will question whether the State of Israel has the right to exist.”

Earlier this week, a Swiss BDS activist, Rita Faye, was deported from Israel after landing at Ben Gurion International Airport. According to local media reports, she was well known to the IDF for her harassment of Israeli soldiers at checkpoint crossings.

rt.com/news/355021-israel-taskforce-boycott-activists/

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Turkey lifts ban on Russia’s Sputnik news website

August/08/2016

Turkey’s Department of Telecommunications and Communication (TİB) has lifted its ban on the Russian news website Sputnik, after months of keeping it blocked, Anadolu Agency reported on Aug. 8. Ankara had blocked access to Sputnik on April 14, citing “legal consideration” of a law regarding crimes committed through online broadcasts.

“Our website is unblocked in Turkey. Starting at 10 a.m. Moscow time we began to receive messages from users that the website is accessible again. We started checking this information and it is actually working,” Sputnik reported the editor-in-chief of its Turkish version, Mahir Boztepe, as saying.

The ban was lifted amid the normalization of relations between Russia and Turkey, which became strained when Turkey downed a Russian warplane along the Syrian border on Nov. 24, 2015. The incident was followed by a spat of words from both sides harming diplomatic ties and economic sanctions.

The eight-month-long period of icy relations began to thaw in late June when President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan wrote a letter to Russian President Vladimir Putin to express his deep sorrow over the jet incident.

As another step toward mending ties between the countries, Russia recently officially removed all economic and touristic sanctions which had been put against Turkey.

Putin and Erdoğan were scheduled to meet on Aug. 9 in St. Petersburg for the first time since the normalization process began, also marking the Turkish president’s first foreign visit since the failed coup attempt on July 15, believed to be carried out by the Fethullahist Terrorist Organization (FETÖ).

Erdoğan had commented on TİB in a speech after the failed takeover, saying the department was to be transferred to the Information and Communication Technologies Authority (BTK).

“We want to form a strong intelligence mechanism against the activities of this organization [FETÖ]. For instance, we will shut TİB down, because it is among the places that has all the dirt,” Erdoğan said in a speech in the Presidential Palace in Ankara on Aug. 2, adding that necessary preparations were made regarding the people working in TİB.

hurriyetdailynews.com/turkey-lifts-ban-on-russias-sputnik-news-website-.aspx?pageID=238&nID=102584&NewsCatID=341

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Turkish jets hit PKK targets in southeastern province

August/08/2016

Turkish warplanes conducted airstrikes against outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) targets in the southeastern province of Siirt late on Aug. 7. A total of 13 militants were killed as a result of the airstrikes, Anadolu Agency reported.

The Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) carried out the air operation after receiving intelligence on the presence of PKK militants in rural Siirt.

The Turkish F-16s which carried out the operation returned to their bases safely.

Also in Siirt, one soldier was killed and four others were wounded in an attack by PKK militants.

Clashes erupted between PKK militants and soldiers in the Eruh district early on Aug. 7, leaving Specialized Sgt. Yunus Emre dead.

His body was brought to the western province of Isparta on a military plane.

Lawmakers from the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) and opposition Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) were among the people who received the body.

Emre’s funeral ceremony was due to be held on Aug. 8.

hurriyetdailynews.com/turkish-jets-hit-pkk-targets-in-southeastern-province-.aspx?pageID=238&nID=102582&NewsCatID=341

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EU migrant deal not possible if Turkey's demands not met: Erdoğan

August/08/2016

Turkey's migration agreement with the European Union "will not be possible" if the EU does not keep its side of the deal on visa waivers, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has told France's Le Monde newspaper.

"The European Union is not behaving in a sincere manner with Turkey," Erdoğan said in comments published on Aug. 8, noting that the visa waiver for Turkish citizens was supposed to kick in on June 1.

"If our demands our not satisfied then the readmissions will no longer be possible," Erdoğan said.

Turkey and the European Union have recently found themselves embroiled in a new row over the migrant and visa-free travel topics.

Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said in an interview with the German daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung on July 31 that Ankara could withdraw from the accord as it would abandon a deal with the EU reached to stem the flow of migrants into the bloc if the EU did not grant visa-free travel to Turkish citizens by October.

Meanwhile, German Vice-Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel hit back Aug. 1 during a campaign rally for a state election, saying “Germany or Europe must in no way let themselves be blackmailed” by Turkey over the migrants pact.

hurriyetdailynews.com/eu-migrant-deal-not-possible-if-turkeys-demands-not-met-erdogan.aspx?pageID=238&nID=102589&NewsCatID=510

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Army mistakes helped advancement of political Islam, says retired general

August/08/2016

Mistakes made during the military coups of 1971 and 1980 contributed to the advancement of political Islam in Turkey and led the country to its present state of turmoil, retired Maj. Gen. Ahmet Yavuz, who is also the former commander of the army war college, has said in an exclusive interview with daily Hürriyet.

“Those who led military coups in the name of Mustafa Kemal [Atatürk] are never representative of Mustafa Kemal’s philosophy,” Yavuz said to counter the claims of Kemalism by coup leaders during the two successful military takeovers of 1971 and 1980, arguing the way to preclude coups was to return to the “founding philosophy” of the Turkish Republic.

“If we are going through such days, it is because of the mistakes made during [the military coups of] March 12 [1971] and September 12 [1980]. The chief of staff during March 12 said, ‘We need to take measures against social progress which surpassed economic progress,’ and injustices followed. September 12 was an application of the United States’ [Islamic] ‘green belt policy’ as a Turkish-Islamic synthesis,” he said, adding that “cults” like the Fethullahist Terrorist Organization (FETÖ), blamed for the July 15 failed coup attempt, became dominant factors within the state following the 1980 coup.

“The most important measure against military coups is to keep politics away from religion and vice versa, hence, the principle of secularism is of utmost importance,” the retired general underlined, adding the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) was also guilty of paving the way for FETÖ operations such as the Ergenekon and Balyoz (Sledgehammer) cases, which caused the discharge of scores of senior commanders and commissioned officers.

“If the political will and the command staff were able to stand against the preparations of the Fethullahist Terrorist Organization such as Balyoz and Ergenekon, if the public managed to question what was going on, if they could stand against [FETÖ] before it threatened themselves during [the graft probe of] December 17-25 [2013] Turkey would not have gone through [the failed coup on] July 15,” said Yavuz, who was himself imprisoned for 40 months over the alleged Balyoz coup plot, before being acquitted in 2014.

He also criticized a state of emergency decree law published in the Official Gazette following the failed coup attempt of July 15, saying expansive measures inflict “psychological harm” on the military at a time when the country should struggle to keep the army’s morale high.

“The government’s decision struck a second blow to the army when resilience is needed in the short term,” Yavuz said, while acknowledging that it was any government’s right to establish a control mechanism over military power.

“It is a government’s right to establish full control over military authority. This is a democratic right and should be respected. However, we see that steps are being taken extremely hastily with this decree, without being properly debated and without preparing the public beforehand,” he said, adding the reason for this swiftness may be related to the AKP’s plans to shift to a presidential system.

“They had a plan regarding sharing the power of the armed forces. They put that plan into force in a very fast and untimely manner, without discussing it with the public, as a fait accompli,” the general said, highlighting his theory that the weakening of the military served the interests of the coup plotters.

Yavuz said the coup attempt had three possible consequences, including a full takeover of the administration, partial success of the coup which would produce a civil war and the current situation where Turkey’s military is weakened by governmental measures – all of which could have benefited the coup plotters, according to the retired soldier.

“Nonetheless, the TSK [Turkish Armed Forces] lost hard power, though temporarily. And we will see in the coming periods that this had a negative impact on its deterrence,” he stated, adding this benefited “those in the U.S. who were behind this [attempt],” allegedly the people who were working to realize the “Greater Middle East.”

hurriyetdailynews.com/army-mistakes-helped-advancement-of-political-islam-says-retired-general.aspx?pageID=238&nID=102594&NewsCatID=341

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South Asia

ISIS and Taliban end infighting as Afghan and US forces step up raids

By KHAAMA PRESS - Mon Aug 08 2016

The loyalists of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) terrorist group and the Taliban militants have reportedly ended infighting amid growing pressures as a result of the Afghan and US forces raids during the recent months.

The infighting among the two militant groups which erupted over a year ago reportedly ended during the recent weeks as the loyalists of the ISIS terrrorist group as well as the Taliban militants received major setbacks in the restive provinces.

The commandos of the Afghan National Army (ANA) forces and the US special forces in Afghanistan launched a major operation against the loyalists of ISIS terrorist group in Nangarhar provnce more than two weeks ago.

The operations were launched months after the Obama administration granted broader role to the US forces to target the ISIS loyalists in Afghanistan.

The broader role approval by Obama administration came as ISIS loyalists attempted to expand foothold in Afghanistan by successfully consolidating operations with the main terror group in Iraq and Syria.

“They fought deadly battles with the Taliban before. But over the past two months, there has been no fighting among them,” Gen. Mohammad Zaman Waziri, who commands Afghan troops in the east, told the Wall Street Journal.

The top U.S. military commander in the country, Army Gen. John Nicholson, said the cease-fire between the militant groups in Kunar didn’t reflect a broader agreement. “There’s still a conflict even though they may have a local cease-fire in place,” he said. “There’s always been a live-and-let-live dimension to some of the social fabric.”

For now, local officials are skeptical the cease-fire will grow into an actual battlefield alliance. For one thing, ideologies differ. The Taliban want foreign forces to leave Afghanistan and Shariah law to be established, while Islamic State wants to create a global caliphate. Neither wants to relinquish control to the other group.

“The Taliban’s stance is that we are the only group and if you fight you should fight under us,” the governor of Kunar, Wahidullah Kalimzai, said. “They see themselves as the owners of the war.”

The Taliban group and ISIS loyalists declared jihad against eacah in mid-April last year as the two groups attempted to gain more prominance in the so-called holy war in Afghanistan.

Tensions among the two militant groups intensified earlier last year after Abdu Bakar Al-Baghdadi, the leader of ISIS called Taliban leader Mullah Mohammad Omar “a fool and illiterate warlord”.

Al-Baghdadi has said that Mullah Omar does not deserve a spiritual or political credibility. While on the other hand Taliban fighters have been ordered by their leaders not to let Daesh flag raise in Afghanistan.

khaama.com/isis-and-taliban-end-infighting-as-afghan-and-us-forces-step-up-raids-01663

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12 ISIS militants killed, 19 wounded in East of Afghanistan

By KHAAMA PRESS - Mon Aug 08 2016

At least 12 loyalists of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) terrorist group were killed and 19 others were wounded during the ongoing military operations eastern Nangarhar province.

The provincial government media office in Nangarhar in a statement said the militants were killed during the military operations ‘Qahr’ which have been launched to suppress the loyalists of the terror group in Nangarhar.

The statement further added that the operations are being conducted with the help of the ground forces as well as the Afghan Air Force in the districts where the loyalists of the terror group are active.

According to the statement, the latest casualties to the loyalists of the terror group were incurred in the restive Achin district.

The Afghan commandos launched a major operation against the loyalists of the terror group in Nangarhar nearly two weeks and cleared the restive Kot district from the presence of ISIS militants.]

The operations were launched amid concerns that the terror group is attempting to expand insurgency activities in the country.

The group claimed responsibility behind a deadly bombing in Kabul that left at least 80 people dead and over 200 others wounded.

khaama.com/12-isis-militants-killed-19-wounded-in-east-of-afghanistan-01662

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43 ISIS, Taliban militants surrender to Afghan forces in Nangarhar

By KHAAMA PRESS - Mon Aug 08 2016

At least 43 militants including loyalists of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) terrorist group renounced violence and surrendered to the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF) in eastern Nangarhar province of Afghanistan.

The National Directorate of Security (NDS) said the militants belonged to 4 groups led by militant commanders Mohammad Ayoub, Mohammad Wali and Juma Baz.

A statement by NDS said the militants were conducting insurgency activities in Achin, Nazian, and Ghani Khel districts before they surrendered to the Afghan forces.

The statement further added that the militants opted to join peace process amid ongoing operations which have considerably weakened the capabilities of the militant groups fighting the Afghan forces.

The Taliban militants and ISIS loyalists have not commented regarding the report so far.

Both Taliban insurgents and ISIS loyalists are actively operating in a number of the remote districts of Nangarhar province inclding the restive Achin and Nazian districts.

The surrender of the militants in the mentioned districts comes as the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces are busy conducting a major counter-terrorism operation in this province.

The operations were launched more than two weeks ago in Kot district to eliminate the loyalists of ISIS terrorist group who were attemtpign to expand operations in this province.

khaama.com/43-isis-taliban-militants-surrender-to-afghan-forces-in-nangarhar-01664

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IS militants claim capturing US weapons in Afghanistan

August 8th, 2016

KABUL: Fighters linked to the militant Islamic State (IS) group have released photos that purport to show weapons and equipment that belonged to American soldiers and were seized by the group in eastern Afghanistan.

The photos show an American portable rocket launcher, radio, grenades and other gear not commonly used by Afghan troops, as well as close-up views of identification cards for a US Army soldier, Specialist Ryan Larson.

The US military command in Kabul denied any suggestion that the soldier had been captured, saying he “has been accounted for and remains in a duty status within his unit”.

American special operations troops have been fighting alongside Afghan forces in a renewed offensive against militants who claim allegiance to IS in Nangarhar province, which borders Pakistan.

In July, US commanders said at least five special forces personnel were injured in fighting in the province.

The website that published the photos speculated that the equipment and weapons were left behind during that engagement, but a US military spokesman said American officials were still trying to determine exactly when and how they were lost.

dawn.com/news/1276106/is-militants-claim-capturing-us-weapons-in-afghanistan

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Explosion in Kabul leaves 1 dead, 3 others wounded

By KHAAMA PRESS - Mon Aug 08 2016

An explosion rocked Kabul province earlier today leaving at least one person dead and three others wounded, security officials said.

The incident took place around 6:30 am local time in Bagrami district after an explosive device planted in an army vehicle went off in Hussain Khel area.

The district police chief Mohammad Ayoub confirmed that one person was killed and three others were wounded in an explosion that targeted a Ranger vehicle of the Afghan army.

No group including the Taliban militants has so far claimed responsibility behind the incident.

This comes as at least five policemen lost their lives in a similar attack in the outskirts of Kabul late on Friday evening.

The provincial governor’s spokesman for Logar province Salim Saleh said the commander of the Public Order Police forces was killed along with four others as they were travelling on a highway to Kabul.

Earlier two were killed and two others were wounded after a magnetic bomb planted in a vehicle went off in Kote Sangi area of the city.

One of the victims was the head of the Human Resources department of the Afghan parliament who was travelling in the vehicle.

khaama.com/explosion-in-kabul-leaves-1-dead-3-others-wounded-01660

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Afghan Leader: US, Israel's Footprints Seen in 1998 Killing of Iranian Diplomats

August 8th, 2016

TEHRAN (FNA)- A prominent Afghan Jihadi leader underlined that the US and Israeli spy agencies also played a role beside the Taliban in the killing of the Iranian diplomats in Mazar-e Sharif in 1998.

"Taliban were not the only culprits behind the martyrdom of the Iranian diplomats and the world arrogant powers (the US) and the international Zionism had for years been plotting to attack the Islamic Republic of Iran's political missions in different Afghan cities and were seeking an opportunity to implement their plots," Gholam Mahboub Banayee told FNA on Monday.

"The US hatched and implemented the plot to attack Iran's consulate in Mazar-e Sharif through collaboration with the spy agencies of its Arab allies and other regional states and by unknown people," he added.

In relevant remarks on Sunday, Leader of the Islamic Movement of Afghanistan Party Mohammad Mukhtar Mufleh also disclosed collaboration among the Saudi and UAE intelligence services and the Taliban to kill the Iranian diplomats.

"Taliban martyred the Iranian diplomats in cooperation with the intelligence agencies of Saudi Arabia and the UAE," Mukhtar Mufleh told FNA.

The 1998 killing of the Iranian diplomats in Afghanistan refers to the siege of the Iranian consulate in Mazar-e Sharif, Afghanistan, during the Taliban and Northern Alliance battles of Mazar-e Sharif. Initially the death of 8 Iranian diplomats was reported, but later two other diplomats and a journalist were also confirmed dead.

On August 8, 1998 Taliban forces captured Mazar-i-Sharif. After this incident, 11 Iranian diplomats and a correspondent from Iran's state news agency (IRNA) were attacked at the Iranian consulate and subsequently disappeared.

Unofficial reports from the city indicated that all these men were killed. Later it was confirmed that 8 of the Iranian diplomats and the IRNA correspondent were killed by the Taliban militia attacking the consulate.

The Taliban spokesmen said the Iranians had been killed by renegade forces who had acted without orders. It was also reported that some of the personnel of the consulate were taken hostage by the Taliban, but they were later released.

en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13950518000383

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Southeast Asia

Malaysia warns of bid to make South East Asia new base for ISIS

August 8th, 2016

Malaysia has warned that an Indonesia-based militant’s followers are looking to make South—East Asia the new base for Islamic State terror group, days after six Indonesian militants were arrested for plotting a missile attack at Singapore’s Marina Bay. I

Malaysia’s Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said according to intelligence reports some of Indonesia-based Abu Bakar Bashir’s 300 followers, who were in jail, have been released and they reportedly went to Batam, a small island in Indonesia’s Riau archipelago in the South China Sea.

“A short boat ride from Singapore, it’s a free trade zone with multiple busy ports, known for its beaches and resorts.

From there, they want to make South—East Asia the new port for IS,” he told reporters on Saturday.

Abu Bakar, known as the spiritual leader of Jemaah Islamiyah, behind the 2002 Bali bombings, was sentenced to 15 years jail in 2011.

Ahmad Zahid said Malaysians should be mindful as extremism had reached a stage where it was no longer “what if” but “when will it happen?”.

Seeking cooperation from everyone to fight the rising threat in the South-East Asian region, he said that Malaysian authorities were discussing with their counterparts on ways to enhance security in the region.

Six Indonesian militants, including an ISIS fighter, were arrested on Friday for plotting a missile attack at Singapore’s Marina Bay.

Even before Friday’s foiled rocket attack on Singapore’s Marina Bay, Ahmad Zahid said the Defence and Home ministries had placed assets and manpower at areas dubbed “black spots” for security purposes.

thehindu.com/news/international/malaysia-warns-of-bid-to-make-south-east-asia-new-base-for-isis/article8955575.ece

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Southeast Asia’s Iconic Mosques, Temples, Pagodas, and Cathedrals    

Posted 7 August 2016 

Southeast Asia is famous for exotic destinations like Phuket and Bali and modern cities like Singapore and Kuala Lumpur, but its religious landmarks are also recognized for their architectural beauty and global cultural significance. Let’s take a look at some of these majestic structures.

Shwedagon Pagoda. Yangon, Myanmar

Shwedagon pagoda is the most sacred site of worship for Buddhists in Myanmar. The structure reached its current height during the 18th century. Today, it stands as the symbol of national pride in the former capital city of Yangon. Myanmar has a Buddhist majority population.

Kuthodaw Temple. Mandalay, Myanmar

The name of the 19th-century temple translates as the Royal Merit, which refers to the merit of King Mindon for donating 729 stone slabs inscribed with the Tipitaka (the Buddhist canonical text). Today, it is best known as ‘The World's Largest Book’. The temple is located in Mandalay, the capital built by the last royal dynasty of Myanmar.

Taal Basilica. Batangas, Philippines

Minor Basilica of Saint Martin of Tours or more popularly known as Taal Basilica is considered the largest Catholic Church in the Philippines and Asia. It is located in Batangas, a province located south of the capital Manila. Aside from Timor-Leste, the Philippines is the only Catholic-dominated nation in Asia.

Paoay Church. Ilocos Norte, Philippines

Paoay Church was declared a National Cultural Treasure by the Philippine government in 1973 and a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1993. This baroque church is located in the northern province of Ilocos Norte.

Jame’ Asr Hassanil Bolkiah Mosque. Brunei

Located in the capital Bandar Seri Begawan, it is Brunei’s largest mosque. The mosque has 29 golden domes.

Istiqlal Mosque. Indonesia

Opened in 1978, this mosque in Jakarta is Southeast Asia’s largest. The mosque can accommodate more than 100,000 worshippers. Istiqlal means independence in Arabic. Indonesia is the world’s largest nation with a Muslim majority population.

Masjid Negara. Malaysia

Masjid Negara is the national mosque of Malaysia. It is the only mosque that does not feature a dome. Watch the video above to know more about this Malaysian icon.

Wat Arun. Bangkok, Thailand

Wat Arun or Temple of Dawn is one of the most popular destinations in Bangkok, the capital of Thailand. This Buddhist temple is located along the west bank of the Chao Phraya River. Thailand has a Buddhist majority population.

Angkor Wat. Cambodia

Angkor Wat is the most popular temple in the Angkor religious complex. It is also the world’s largest religious monument. Angkor is the capital of the Khmer Empire.

globalvoices.org/2016/08/07/southeast-asias-iconic-mosques-temples-pagodas-and-cathedrals/

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Anti-Terrorism Still Major Task for Indonesia Despite Santoso Death

August 08, 2016

JAKARTA—As the Indonesian government and security services celebrate the killing of the country’s most notorious terrorist, experts say there is still much work to do on the country’s soft approach to combating radical Islam.

While direct action against terrorists has gotten a boost, analysts warn the risk of recruitment remains unchanged.

“We don’t have much of a budget or facility for the ‘soft approaches’ like a de-radicalization program at the micro, individual level, at the group level and also in the macro, societal level,” said Hamdi Muluk, a psychology professor and terrorism expert at the University of Indonesia in Depok, West Java. “It’s this approach that can prevent future radicalization.”

Perhaps the most resounding failure of the government’s de-radicalization efforts is Santoso himself, the terrorist leader who died in a gun battle last month in central Sulawesi. He underwent a de-radicalization program while imprisoned in 2010.

Santoso

Santoso, also known as Abu Wardah, had been a thorn in Indonesia’s side for years. He originated as a jihadist figure during Muslim-Christian violence in Sulawesi in the period of instability following the fall of longtime Indonesian strongman Suharto.

He went on to entrench himself in the impenetrable jungles of central Sulawesi, emerging as the leader of the East Indonesia Mujahidin in 2012 and declaring for the Islamic State, or IS, in 2014 — an effective public relations move that focused attention on his guerrilla band.

The actions of his network in Central Sulawesi had already been making regular headlines as it clashed with security forces chasing him around Poso, his Central Sulawesi stronghold. After his IS pledge, that coverage became almost weekly on Indonesian TV networks, websites and newspaper pages.

It raised the heat on the government to kill or capture him. 

“I think Santoso’s death will have a positive impact on Indonesia’s image in the eyes of the region and globally,” said Muluk. “It would disaffirm (the notion) that Indonesian counter-terror forces, in this case the Tinombala task force, are incapable of chasing, capturing or destroying terrorist actors [including] the most prominent ones today, like Santoso.”

But that is guarded optimism.

Muluk also said “there was no evidence that the recruitment for ISIS ended” with Santoso’s death.

Muluk is not alone in this concern.

“We need more effort beyond conventional strategic programs,” said Fajar Riza Ul Haq, executive director of the Maarif Institute, an NGO with close ties to one of Indonesia’s largest Muslim groups, Muhammadiyah. “Our enemy is a step ahead.”

Online engagement

Indonesia has had relatively few IS fighters for a country of its size. Most estimates put the number in the hundreds, a surprisingly low tally given the country has the world’s biggest Muslim population. Experts cite the relative stability of the country and a generally more moderate practice of Islam.

But a problem facing authorities is the increasing online savviness of terrorist groups and Indonesia’s huge proportion of young people, who are some of the most engaged online users in the world.

This means access to vulnerable people is much simpler than it would have been before the digital age, and small, fragmented urban cells pose a greater threat of radicalization than a guerrilla group in a remote area.

Radicalization remains a threat, however large the symbolic importance of Santoso’s death.

“Santoso’s death is not an ending,” said Ul Haq, “The state must work together with religious-based organizations … At the same time, the government must ensure religious-based organizations take this issue really seriously.”

Succession

“His cell might be shrinking, but doesn’t mean the end at all,” Muluk said. “They may be trying to find the new Santoso.”

There is a candidate to replace Santoso as the public figurehead of Indonesian terrorists.

Amman Abdurahman, imprisoned at the infamous Pasir Putih jail, is a likely candidate. He has followers in another remote part of eastern Indonesia, a small district called Bima on the rugged and beautiful island of Sumbawa in West Nusa Tenggara province. The Bima gang, according to Muluk, still takes its orders from their jailed leader.

Santoso’s second wife was from Bima, and the “Bima gang” are, in Muluk’s words, “bound” by the same Salafist ideology, and an act of revenge for Santoso’s killing if it comes from anywhere is likely to come from there.

voanews.com/content/anti-terrorism-still-major-task-for-indonesia-despite-santoso-death/3455247.html

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Indonesian rights activist Haris Azhar cancels Australia trip to fight police lawsuit

August 8th, 2016

Jakarta: One of Indonesia's most prominent human rights activists has cancelled a trip to Australia because he has to fight a criminal defamation suit after he alleged the military and police were involved in a drug smuggling syndicate.

Just hours before the execution of Freddy Budiman last month, Haris Azhar posted allegations on Facebook that the notorious drug baron had told him he had paid millions of dollars in bribes to top-ranking officials to run his ecstasy smuggling racket from behind bars.

The National Narcotics Agency (BNN), military and police filed a criminal defamation suit against Mr Haris last week and he is considering asking for witness protection after receiving anonymous threats.

Mr Haris, the co-ordinator of the Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras), had been invited to Australia by the Perth-based Indonesia Institute next month to deliver public lectures and closed-door briefings on his human rights activities.

However, he cancelled on Sunday night, telling the Indonesia Institute the situation had become too serious for him to travel.

"If I go to Australia and the police or BNN summon me, they might think I ran away. I don't want to give that impression," Mr Haris told Fairfax Media.

He said he did not regret going public with the information, despite the repercussions.

Mr Haris posted online the contents of a conversation he had with Budiman when he visited him in prison on the penal island of Nusakambangan in 2014.

Budiman told him he didn't mind paying bribes to officials because the profit margin he made importing ecstasy pills from China was so great.

He allegedly boasted he had paid a total of 540 billion rupiah ($54 million) to high-ranking officials from the military, BNN and police over the years.

Budiman also alleged a BNN official had asked the prison head of Nusakambangan to remove the surveillance cameras from his cell.

Mr Haris told Fairfax Media Budiman did not name names, but did indicate the positions of those involved in the racket.

Budiman and three Nigerians were executed in the early hours of July 29, as part of Indonesia's "war" on the scourge of drugs. Ten others were given an 11th-hour reprieve but their fate remains uncertain, with Attorney-General Muhammad Prasetyo flagging that executions will still proceed.

National police spokesman Boy Rafli Amar said it was disappointing that Mr Haris had chosen to post Budiman's claims publicly rather than report them to law enforcement agencies.

"Why couldn't I make it public?" Mr Haris asked. "Is it sinful? Now we see that the state institutions have acted oddly. Instead of following it up, they have reported me for defamation."

BNN spokesman Slamet Pribadi said the National Narcotics Agency had questioned former Nusakambangan head Liberty Sitinjak on Monday about the allegations that he had been pressured to remove the surveillance cameras.

He said Mr Haris would be summoned for questioning this week.

In February, then chief security minister Luhut Panjaitan ordered tighter security for drug dealers and terrorists on Nusakambangan – with more officers guarding high-risk prisons – after he led a delegation to the island.

A source told Fairfax Media that security X-rays at five of the prisons visited by the delegation were not working.

smh.com.au/world/indonesian-rights-activist-haris-azhar-cancels-australia-trip-to-fight-police-lawsuit-20160808-gqnor4.html

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North America

Document reveals Obama’s role in approving drone targets

August 8th, 2016

WASHINGTON: The US presidential guidelines for drone strikes, released on Friday night, authorise the head of an agency to order an attack on a terrorist target in a foreign land without the president’s approval.

The Presidential Policy Guidance, released in response to a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), says the US president has to personally approve a drone strike if the target is a US citizen, but not if the target is a non-American in a foreign land.

The presidential approval is also needed for a so-called “signature” strike when the specific identity of a target isn’t known, just his role.

Although not named in the document, Pakistan is the most targeted foreign land as the United States has conducted more drone strikes in this country than anywhere else in the world.

Presidential assent needed if person to be targeted is US citizen or a permanent resident of US

Data collected by the London-based Bureau of Investigative Journalism show that US drone strikes in Pakistan began on June 17, 2004 and so far there have been a total of 423 such strikes. The US Central Intelligence Agency carried out most of these strikes while the US military also conducted some.

The strikes have killed 2,499 to 4,001 people, including between 424 and 966 civilians.

There have been nearly nine times more strikes under President Obama in Pakistan than there were under his predecessor, George W. Bush.

The policy that Obama adopted in 2013 also seeks presidential approval if the target is a permanent resident of the US, that is, a green card holder. The presidential approval is also needed when “there is a lack of consensus” among US agency chiefs about whom to target.

In all other cases, the head of the nominating agency can approve the attack if all of the major national security officials unanimously agree it should be undertaken. The US president is simply “apprised” of the targeting decision.

The document says that US officials can approve a drone strike if they make “an assessment that capture is not feasible at the time of the operation”. The US media interpreted this as suggesting that US officials can order a strike even if there’s reason to believe it might be possible to capture someone at some later point.

The policy suggests placing suspects on a target list through a nomination process, explaining that the decision to target a person is taken after considering all other possibilities and with the consent of all agencies and officials involved.

The document, however, allows the president to bypass the process whenever he sees fit, particularly in situations where those in danger of a terrorist attack are not Americans but “another country’s persons”.

The policy also includes procedures for last-minute variations to a targeting plan when “fleeting opportunities” arise. All such changes must be approved by the president.

The guidelines also explain the procedure for briefing the US Congress on drone strikes. According to the document, Congressional leaders get an update on the so-called “high-value targets” at least every three months.

The document includes strict rules for avoiding civilian casualties, but the US media noted that such restrictions have not always been particularly effective in avoiding civilian deaths.

There are dozens of redactions in the document released to ACLU but it does not explain why those data were blacked out.

dawn.com/news/1276119/document-reveals-obamas-role-in-approving-drone-targets

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US journalist detained after trying to cross into Turkey illegally – report

August 8th, 2016

A US citizen has been detained for trying to enter Turkey illegally from Syria, Anadolu news agency reported, citing Ercan Topaca, the governor of the southern province of Hatay. The governor said that journalist Snell Lindsteyler was detained in Hatay’s Altınozu district near the Syrian border. “She was trying to cross the border illegally…the trial phase is ongoing. For now, we do not know if she is a spy or not,” Topaca said. He added that US helicopters were seen flying over the border to pick up the journalist before she was detained. Topaca said she was taken into custody on the grounds that she crossed into Syria from Turkey illegally, and then tried to re-enter Turkey illegally. Lindsteyler has a residence permit in Turkey.

rt.com/news/line/

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Africa

Al-Qaeda 2.0? Meet Abu Mus’ab al-Suri and his grand strategy for the Islamic State

Abhijnan Rej  Aug 8, 2016

In November last year, Paris suffered its biggest terrorist attack in modern history when 130 people died in a series of shootings and bombings across the city. The mastermind of the attack, a Belgian national Abdelhamid Abaaoud, was suspected to have travelled to Syria in the past. All of his accomplices were nationals of the European Union. The following month, an American couple of Pakistani origin, Syed Rizwan Farook and Tashfeen Malik, killed 14 people in a shooting in the Californian city of San Bernardino. No direct ties to any extremist group were found — beyond evidence of self-radicalisation.

A nightclub in Orlando, Florida, was attacked by an American of Afghan descent in June this year, the biggest mass-shooting in US history. The attacker, Omar Mateen, was troubled though not having shown in any overt signs of being radicalised. He pledged allegiance to Islamic State head — and self-proclaimed caliph — Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi only during a call to an emergency line during the shooting.

Representational image. ReutersRepresentational image. Reuters

Paris, San Bernardino, Orlando, Dhaka, Nice. What connects them, beyond the fact that all of the attackers had — in one way or another — operated under the IS banner? Are they, as the media is fond of saying, “lone wolves,” whose actions are being cleverly coopted by the IS? Or are they proverbial pawns in IS' grand strategy? What is IS' grand strategy? The answers to these questions may lie in the writings of one man, Abu Mus’ab al-Suri — a Syrian national with Spanish citizenship who was once described by a journalist as resembling an “Irish pub patron”. Al-Suri is now in a prison in Syria, having been rendered there by the CIA after he was captured in Quetta, Pakistan, in 2005. His ideas, on the other hand, are very much at play.

Indeed, tracing through al-Suri’s writings from around the time he was an Al-Qaeda affiliate, we find a remarkable link between his strategic theory — to which Al-Qaeda never quite warmed up — and the relatively-later phenomenon of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria that morphed into the IS we know today.

The intellectual jihadist

Mustafa bin Abd al-Qadir Setmariam Nasar — known through a combination of kunya and nom de guerre as “Abu Mus’ab al-Suri” (father of Mus’ab, the Syrian) — was born in Aleppo, Syria in 1958. He began his career as an Islamist militant in the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood — deeply influenced by the writings of Egyptian Islamist ideologue Sayyid Qutb. In the 1980s, al-Suri moved to Europe and settled in Spain, eventually obtaining Spanish citizenship through marriage to a Spanish converted to Islam. Like many Islamist militants of that time, al-Suri participated in the Afghan jihad, and established a link with Osama bin Laden.

In fact, bin Laden’s first interview to a western television channel — conducted by Peter Bergen of CNN in 1997 — was facilitated by al-Suri. Bergen came out of this experience deeply impressed by al-Suri, admitting that he came to “admire his intellect.” Al-Suri was something of an autodidact intellectual, intimately familiar with western classical music. His affection for his Spanish wife — contrast this with the dour nature of most Islamists — was something that struck his acquaintances. Al-Suri was not your average Islamist.

While al-Suri was an Al-Qaeda man, his strategic weltanschauung was to diverge with that of Al-Qaeda’s in significant ways. He was to also become increasingly contemptuous of bin Laden — something he shared with the ‘grandfather’ of the IS, the Jordanian Abu Mus’ab Al-Zarqawi. By all accounts, al-Suri had a tremendous influence on al-Zarqawi. After the US invasion of Afghanistan in 2001, al-Suri produced his opus — a 1,600-page book called Global Islamic Resistance Call. This remarkable book outlined his vision for ‘Al-Qaeda 2.0’ based on historical lessons learnt, as well as on a close reading of western geopolitics and military strategy. IS was to own up to this Al-Qaeda strategist’s work, as seen by an (unattributed) summa of the same in the first issue of the group’s flagship journal Dabiq.

The grand strategy of global jihad

The first such lesson was the tenuous nature of traditional centralised ‘secret-hierarchical’ terrorist outfits. Al-Suri had brought up this point in a lecture at an Al-Qaeda training camp. As he put it, in such organisations, if one member is caught, then all others are too, since — by definition of such outfits — each member can be linked to every other member. The need, according to al-Suri, was a “system, not organisation”. A key component of this putative ‘resistance system’ would be individuals who would commit to nothing “other than to believe in the ideas, be absolutely certain in his intention, join the call, and educate himself and those around him”, while at the same time pledging allegiance to the system — the tactic of, in al-Suri’s terminology — “individual-terrorism jihad.”

The link between the system and the individual, according to al-Suri, would consist of a common aim, a common name, and a common doctrinal jihadi programme. This is precisely what the relationship of the San Bernardino attackers or the Orlando attacker was to IS. It turns out that social media, in effect, facilitated the practical implementation of al-Suri’s theory.

But al-Suri recognised that the focus of the ‘resistance call’ would be the consolidation of physical territory, the second lesson. He considers the greatest loss from the 11 September, 2001 attacks to be not the destruction of the extant Al-Qaeda but the expulsion of the Taliban as rulers of Afghanistan, which meant that the group didn’t have a consolidated physical shelter. This territory — “Al-Qaeda” (the base) — would also, according to al-Suri, be the front for a head-on military confrontation with the adversary. Al-Suri ruled out most of West Asia, Central Asia and Africa, as suitable for the establishment of the base that would be the focal point of a putative Islamic State. He singled out – and it is important to remember that he was writing before the US invasion of Iraq in 2003 — the ‘Levant and Iraq’ as possessing suitable features for an “open-front jihad”. Al-Suri also calculated that, sooner than later, the US and its allies would invade Syria, which would give the vanguards of the physical base The final lesson that al-Suri drew was the need to structure the ‘resistance call’ in a de-centralised way that would mesh individual-terrorism jihad with the strategic goal of open-front/territorial jihad. He proposes an organisation with three concentric circles. The innermost circle (centred around an emir or a putative caliph) would be the leadership circle. This is necessarily organisationally-centralised and physically located in the same place (in case of IS, Raqqa in Syria). This circle lies inside a circle of “de-centralised units,” comprising jihadis who are directly trained and then spread across the world. Finally, there is the outer circle — the Daw’ah circle, in al-Suri’s jargon – which would be made up of individuals like the San Bernardino couple, or the Nice attacker. While individuals and units in the inner two circles are allowed to communicate with each other and within themselves, such is not the case for communication with the outer circle — where individuals and units operate autonomously and yet, in sync with the larger ‘organisational priorities’.

Blinded by apparently nihilistic violence, it can often be tempting to dismiss IS as a group without any overarching strategic vision. Part of this denial is psychological: To accept that the group may indeed have a grand strategy, may feel like giving IS too much credit. And yet, the fact of the matter is that the writings of post-9/11 jihadi theorists reveal a remarkably sophisticated understanding of the means and ends of global jihad — IS (as 'Al-Qaeda 2.0') indeed has a strategy for its present and future.

Just ask al-Suri.

The author is a fellow at the Observer Research Foundation (ORF), New Delhi. This article is based on the author’s research paper, “The Strategist: How Abu Mus’ab al-Suri Inspired ISIS,” published by ORF. He tweets @AbhijnanRej

firstpost.com/world/al-qaeda-2-0-meet-abu-musab-al-suri-and-his-grand-strategy-for-the-islamic-state-2941914.html

 

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