A member of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant ISIL AFP Photo / Mahmud AL-Halabi
Pakistani Counter-Terror Funds Spent On Luxury Gifts: AFP Report
Taliban want to enforce Sharia at gunpoint: Altaf
No room for fanaticism, extremism in Islam: Academics and Scholars
Key Pakistani cleric quits Taleban peace negotiations
Sami-ul-Haq was not assigned Taliban talks mission: PM House
‘JUI-F wants dialogue; use of force can’t bring peace’
Four dead in Lyari grenade attack
TTP Shura leader, master trainer killed in air strikes, says officials
Terror plot foiled, bomb defused in Pakistan's Peshawar city
Iraq says air strikes 'kill 50 militants' in Anbar
Iraq executes 11 more 'terrorism' convicts: Ministry
Al-Qaeda-Linked Jihadists Impose Islamic Rules in ISIL
Syria’s Kurds will declare self-rule in all Kurdish regions within a week
Al-Qaeda chief Ayman al-Zawahiri urges end to jihadists’ infighting in Syria
Gunmen kill 5 policemen in Egypt
Saudi FM Saud Al-Faisal: No role for people with blood-stained hands in Syria
Bahrain deadlocked talks saved from brink
Nearly 1,400 dead since Syria rebel-jihadist clashes began: NGO
Palestinian leadership threatens to turn Tel Aviv into "ball of fire" amid peace talks
Iran Sanctions Relief Could Fund Terrorism against U.S.
Iran president says elections 'best solution' for Syria
Netanyahu: Rouhani continues trying to fool the world
Turkish FM Davutoğlu hits back to Syria’s accusations of backing ‘terrorism’
Iran-American Mozaffar Khazaee indicted for F-35 document theft
Tunisia: Melee Disrupts Constitutional Debate on Apostasy
Nigeria: Mob in Nigeria Stones Accused Gays
Qaddafi supporters heading to Ajilat killed in Sabratha: report
Seven dead in tit-for-tat killings in Central African Republic
Rwanda in diplomatic trouble 20 years after genocide
Jamaat-e-Islami: BNP to face trouble if it breaks ties
Peace talks with Taliban has no links with Afghan-US security deal
PM Sheikh Hasina: Attackers on minorities won't be spared
Maldives Home Minister Umar Naseer orders preparations for death penalty
24,500 BNP, Jamaat-Shibir men sued in Dinajpur
India ready to play its part in Syrian peace process: Salman Khurshid
Few Indian prisoners in UAE want to finish jail term in India
Islamic Bank of Britain launches UK's first Sharia compliant ISA
Rights group says Muslims massacred in Myanmar amid official denials
Amnesty says Egypt violence on 'unprecedented scale'
UN expert: CAR risks spiralling into genocide
'Enough is enough, time to negotiate,' UN chief tells Syrians
HRW slams UAE for blocking rights news conference
At Davos, Iran vows against nuclear weapons, seeks global engagements
No hint of compromise as Syria peace talks enter day two
NYT censors pigs’ faces in Malaysian edition to avoid offending Muslims
Umno’s doublespeak over Allah and bibles
Sabah Christians band together to stop conversions to Islam
US military giving troops more leeway for religious clothing, beards
'US perceives Israel as encouraging anti-Obama backlash among Jews'
Judge tosses suit against Muslim group over speech
Republican upsets leaders after questioning what Muslims contribute positively to society
Guantanamo Detainees Describe Despair 5 Years After Obama Promised Closure
Utah Muslims work with LDS Church to help typhoon victims
Youth from North York Islamic centre deliver warm meals to needy
Unleashed is hosting 5K Walk Against Islamophobia
Toowoomba's first Islamic mosque opens its doors
Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau
ISLAMABAD: Pakistani officials used a secret counter-terrorism fund to buy wedding gifts, luxury carpets and gold jewellery for relatives of ministers and visiting dignitaries, according to documents seen by AFP.
The revelations cast a spotlight on high-level corruption in Pakistan as the impoverished but nuclear-armed country battles a surge in Taliban violence.
They concern the National Crisis Management Cell (NCMC) of Pakistan's interior ministry, formed in 2000 to coordinate between the country's intelligence agencies and federal and provincial governments on national security matters.
The US and other Western countries have poured billions of dollars into Pakistan since the 9/11 attacks of 2001 to help in its fight against Taliban and al Qaeda linked militants.
The NCMC received some 425 million rupees ($4.3 million) from Pakistani government coffers from 2009-2013, according to files obtained by Umar Cheema, an investigative journalist for Pakistani daily The News, and seen by AFP.
During that time the interior ministry was headed by Rehman Malik, a flamboyant loyalist of former president Asif Ali Zardari's Pakistan People's Party (PPP).
Watches, carpets, gold, goats
Many of the documents deal with payments to intelligence sources, routine maintenance of vehicles and overtime for employees.
But the files also include receipts for gifts for US and British embassy officials, as well as flowers and sweets for journalists.
One receipt for 70,000 rupees ($700) is itemised as a “Pair of wrist watches for marriage of nephew of minister for interior”.
The documents show that on a trip to Rome for an Interpol conference in November 2012, Malik took a necklace, wooden tables and a TouchMate tablet computer as gifts.
The counter-terror fund was also used to buy three rugs as wedding gifts for the son of former prime minister Raja Pervez Ashraf early last year.
A set of 21-carat gold jewellery worth $3,000 was bought for one unnamed individual, while another was the recipient of a $1,500 set.
A handicrafts store in Islamabad was paid some $23,000 in December 2012 for carpets and crafts given to local officials and delegations from the EU, Iran and India.
Among the more bizarre items paid for from the fund was the $800 cost of four sacrificial goats, plus butchery costs, listed as “stabbing charges”, for the festival of Eid-ul-Azha.
Alms to the poor and donations of sweets, flowers, and cash to a local Sufi saint were also made from the fund in 2012, the documents show.
'You know how Pakistan works'
Pakistan's present government, led by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, has ordered an audit of the interior ministry accounts from 2010-2013.
Ministry spokesman Danyal Gilani confirmed the audit was ongoing but declined to indicate a timeframe for its completion.
The director general of the NCMC, Tariq Lodhi, did not respond to repeated attempts to seek comment. Upon coming to power in June last year, Sharif's government abolished secret funds in 16 ministries in an effort to curb corruption and rein in spending.
Malik, who as minister was famed for his expensive ties and purple hair-dye, mounted a firm defence of his conduct on Twitter, denying he had used the fund and saying it was “never under the control of the minister”.
Asked why some receipts contained hand-written instructions saying they were the minister's directives, Malik told AFP: “You know how Pakistan works.
Just because it mentions me does not mean I personally authorised the payments.”In a tweet, he said using funds to entertain dignitaries and offer gifts was “routine for 15 yrs”.
But Moinuddin Haider, who served as interior minister from 1999 to 2002, said the NCMC fund was not set up to pay for “gifts abroad”.
“The purpose of these funds was to establish offices in the provinces, primarily to be spent on communications equipment and data analysis,” he told AFP.
Cheema, who won the Daniel Pearl journalism fellowship in 2008, said the affair was indicative of how officials had turned the national terror crisis, which has killed thousands of people across the country since 2007, to their own benefit.
“This abuse clearly explains how our leaders convert a tragedy into an opportunity for personal gains,” he said.
“If history is any guide it's not going to be resolved nor will the abolition of secret funds lead to any corrective measures.” Ayesha Siddiqa, a security analyst, termed the use of the funds “sad”, but said a lack of clear counter-terrorism policy direction by successive governments was also to blame, as well as the way Pakistan's bureaucracy works.
“There is also this problem with the government where if a department gets funds you're in a hurry to spend them, because if the funds lapse they will be deducted the next year and the department will be reprimanded,” she said.
Jan 23, 2014
LONDON: Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) chief Altaf Hussain on Thursday said that the Taliban wanted to impose their own version of Sharia and their views were against the Holy Quran and teachings of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH).
Speaking to members of the Rabita Committee, Hussain said that he had already voiced his concerns regarding Talibanization,
He said though his concerns were ridiculed then, Ulema and some politicians have realized the fact and they were endorsing his views now.
Jan 23, 2014
ISLAMABAD - Islam does not allow any particular community to enforce its ideas and views on others so there is no room of fanaticism, extremism and intolerance in Muslim community and no one has the right to be despotic and authoritarian in his opinion. Only moderation and tolerance are the basic and salient features of Islam and both can be an ultimate solution to the problems of Muslims.
Academics and scholars from Pakistan and various other Muslim countries expressed these views at a three-day International conference on “Moderation” organised by Shariah Academy of International Islamic University, Islamabad (IIUI), with the cooperation of Higher Education Commission Pakistan (HEC) and International Forum for Moderation Jordon commenced at the Allama Iqbal Auditorium, Faisal Masjid Campus of the university on Tuesday.
The State Minister for Religious Affairs Pir Amin ul Hasnaat, inaugurating the conference, said, “we would have to discourage the attitude of violence and extremism so that we may get united to fight the challenges of hour.” If Muslim societies follow the attitude of moderation and dialogue, they would never face hurdles in practicing Islam. And mutual understanding among Muslim states and toleration are the keys for success of Muslim world. Rector IIUI Prof Dr Masoom Yasinzai said Islam does not allow the use of force and coercion to convert people into Islam. “Islam believes in logics, peaceful pursuance for calling people towards its message and Islam does not allow any particular community to enforce its ideas and views on others. There is no room of fanaticism, extremism and intolerance in Muslim community, no one has the right to be despotic and authoritarian in his opinion,” he added. Dr Yasinzai said Islamic history is replete with peaceful co-existing with other religions.
Secretary General International Forum for Moderation, Jordan, Marwan Al-fauri said Jordanian people see the message of tolerance in Iqbal’s poetry. He also quoted Iqbal and discussed his message for Muslims and elaborated the efforts being made by International Forum for Moderation Jordon for the cause of Ummah. Al-Fauri further emphasized to organize more conference worldwide, it is necessary to stick with the unity and moderation to avert the negative propaganda against Islam.
The Assistant Grand Mufti of Oman Dr Kehlan bin Neyhan Al-Kharoosi said moderation and toleration are the basic and salient features of Islam and both can be an ultimate solution to the problems of Muslims. He stressed that Governments of the Muslim countries should devise strategies for introducing comprehensive plans for application of toleration and moderation in their societies.
He was of the view that moderation leads a man towards wisdom and knowledge, which can be beneficial for mankind. He further added that tolerance and moderation should be practiced by all human beings to make this world a planet of peace.
Cultural Attaché of Saudi Arabia to Pakistan Dr. Haza Al-Ghamdi said moderation and toleration both are the vital contributor in the progress of Ummah, both can be sources of peace which Islam advocates. He said present challenges should not be dealt with aggression but with prudent thoughts and friendly attitude.
In his inaugural note Director General, Shariah Academy IIUI, Dr. Tahir Mansoori welcomed and thanked all the guests and showed great hope, this conference would prove a vital mile stone to set policy line to remove all the labels of extremism and fundamentalism.
On the occasion, acting President IIUI Dr Bashir Khan, Ambassador of Morocco to Pakistan Mustapha Salahdin, Renowned high profile scholars, Secretary General Department of Fatwa Jordan, Dr Mhammad Al-Khaliyat, ex-foreign minister of Morocco Dr Saadd ud Din Usmani, Editor of Magazine Al-Touheed Dr Muhammad Tulabi Morocco, head of department of Shariah University of Jordan Dr Muhammad Khteeb, General Secretary Frogh-e-Rawadari participated in the first day sessions of the conference.
The ex-minister of Auqaf Jordan Dr Abdul Raheem Al-Akoor, Dr Tahir Mehmood from Federal Urdu University also addressed while Vice Chancellor Ripha International University Rawalpindi Dr. Anees Ahmed, Dr. Riaz Ahmed Hazara University and Dr Muhammad Arshad Punjab University Lahore and Dr. Shezad Iqbal Sham presented their papers in first day.
The topics of the conference were “The pre-requisites of Stability in the Society”, “Universal Concept of Fiqh”, “The Tradition of Tolerance in Sub-Continent”, The Differences in Fiqh and Moderation in Sects” and Unity Among Sects.
ISLAMABAD/QUETTA: A Pakistani cleric with close ties to the Taleban said Wednesday he would no longer act as a government-backed peace broker with the militants after airstrikes killed 40 people in a tribal district.
Sami Ul Haq, who heads the hardline Dar-ul-Uloom Haqqania seminary and is often referred to as the “Father of the Taleban,” was given the task of initiating peace talks with the Pakistani Taleban in December by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.
Sharif’s government announced its talks policy in September and began making preliminary contact with the Taleban’s leadership, but the initiative ended after a US drone strike killed then-Taleban leader Hakimullah Mehsud in November.
“The government does not seems serious and concerned. I had requested them to avoid a military operation and use of force but yesterday it started bombing in North Waziristan and tribal areas,” Haq, who is also chief of his own faction of the religious Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (JUI-S) party, said in a statement sent to AFP.
The air strikes in the North Waziristan and Khyber tribal regions on Tuesday were retaliation for two major Taleban attacks on military targets in as many days.
But Haq, whose seminary has awarded Afghan Taleban leader Mullah Omar an honorary doctorate, said more fighting was not the answer.
“Both sides (Taleban and government) are in a state of war. Innocent citizens and soldiers are dying,” he said in the statement. “A military operation is not the answer: We should instead put all our passion into the process of talks.
“In such a situation I want to separate myself from this bloody tragedy,” he added.
Haq said Sharif sought his help in initiating peace talks and he received positive signals after contacting the Taleban leadership, but “the lack of seriousness on behalf of the government” forced him to quit the process.
The two high-profile attacks on Sunday and Monday left at least 39 dead, marking a bloody return for the militants after a period of relative quiet following Mehsud’s death and the installation of hardline cleric Maulana Fazlullah as his replacement.
Gunmen opened fire on Pakistani police escorting a Spanish cyclist through a volatile province bordering Iran on Wednesday, killing six officers and wounding the Spaniard, said officials.
The attack on the cyclist, who had just arrived from Iran and whose blog said he was trying to cycle around the world, came one day after militants in the same region killed 28 people in a bus convoy of Muslims. One police officer said authorities suspected the same group carried out both attacks.
The Spanish cyclist had arrived in the town of Dalbandin, about 350 km from Quetta, provincial capital of Baluchistan, on Tuesday evening after biking from the Iranian border, said the provincial Home Secretary, Asadur Rehman Gilani.
Local authorities asked him to stay overnight out of concern for his safety and then arranged a police escort of more than a dozen officers to take him to Quetta on Wednesday morning, Gilani said.
When they were in the Mastung district, about 70 km from Quetta, gunmen opened fire.
Six policemen were killed, while the cyclist and another nine police officers were wounded, according to a police official Mohammed Ibrahim.
The Spanish embassy in Islamabad did not return telephone calls seeking comment.
The Home Secretary identified the Spaniard as Colorado Solana while the Spanish media identified him as Javier Colorado. A blog written by the Spaniard said he was cycling around the world and that he had been the victim of an attack in Pakistan.
Tourists have been targeted in Baluchistan before. Gunmen last March kidnapped two female Czech tourists and their police guard as they were traveling on a bus from Iran to Quetta. The captives were taken to Afghanistan and the officer released but the women are still being held.
No one claimed responsibility for the shooting Wednesday, but Ibrahim said he suspected the same group that targeted a group of Shiite pilgrims returning from Iran on Tuesday was responsible for the Wednesday incident as well.
He described the group as “sectarian.” Radical Sunni Islamic militants who view Shiites as heretics have stepped up attacks against members of the minority Shiite Muslim sect in recent years. Over 400 Shiites were killed in 2013, according to Human Rights Watch. Violence has been especially bad in impoverished Baluchistan.
Police initially said 20 people died when a bomb exploded near the pilgrims’ bus, but on Wednesday, a local police official, Asad Cheema, said the death toll had risen to 28. Some of the wounded were still listed in critical condition.
Shiite Muslims rallied Wednesday in Quetta, demanding action to stop the continued violence against their sect. In a show of protest, they brought the coffins carrying the dead pilgrims into the street.
“We will not bury our dear ones until the government acts against the attackers,” local Shiite leader Agha Dawood said.
Militants also struck in the country’s northwest. A bomb rigged to a bicycle exploded next to a police patrol on its way to guard a polio vaccination team. Six officers were killed as well as a boy who was nearby, said officer Shafiullah Khan.
Islamic militants have repeatedly targeted health workers carrying out anti-polio vaccinations and policemen who are supposed to protect them. In the last 24 hours alone ten people have been killed in connection with the anti-polio campaign.
The blast happened in the Charsadda district, just outside the provincial capital of Peshawar. The bomb also wounded 11 people, four of them tribal policemen, Khan said.
It was the second such attack in the past 24 hours. On Tuesday, gunmen killed three health workers in an attack on a polio vaccination team in the southern port city of Karachi.
Pakistan, one of only three countries in the world where the polio virus is still endemic, has seen relentless attacks on polio vaccination teams.
Militants oppose vaccinations against polio and consider such campaigns a cover for spying against Pakistan and a conspiracy to allegedly make male Muslim children sterile.
The vaccination campaign is also viewed with suspicion by many in Pakistan after a fake vaccination effort was used as a cover by the CIA in its pursuit of Osama bin Laden.
ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had not assigned Maulana Samiul Haq any mission pertaining to peace talks with Taliban, according the spokesman for the PM house.
In a statement, the spokesperson said the impression given by Maulana Samiul Haq that government did not listen to him was incorrect.
The spokesperson said that Maulana's cooperation and his influence for elimination of terrorism had come under discussion at a meeting with PM Nawaz Sharif last month.
He said Maulana had not reported any progress despite passage of three weeks after the meeting with the premier.
Full report at:
PESHAWAR: Federal State Minister, Abdul Ghafoor Hyderi Wednesday said that from day one Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) has been supporting a dialogue with the Taliban; ‘it is our stance that peace cannot be established through use of force’.
Talking to media persons after a Feteha Khwani on the demise of the father of JUI-F leader Abdul Jalil Jan, he said JUI-F is part of the federal government which continues to remains firm over holding of peace talks.
Abdul Ghafoor Hyderi denied having any knowledge about handing over of the task of brokering the talks to Maulana Samiul Haq or his separation from the process.
He said a demonstration against terrorism will be held on January 26 for which preparations have been made.
KARACHI: Four people, including a woman and two children, were killed in a grenade attack during a clash between two groups of criminals in Lyari area on Wednesday.
According to police the incident happened near Juna Masjid in Lyari.
The bodies were shifted to Civil Hospital Karachi.
Lyari has been riddled with gang warfare for a great period of time.
Karachi, the largest metropolitan city of Pakistan, is riddled with targeted killings, gang wars, kidnappings for ransom, extortion and terrorism.
Targeted operations led by Rangers’ forces with the support of police are ongoing in the city under a directive issued by the federal government against criminals already identified by federal, military and civilian agencies.
TTP shura leader, master trainer killed in air strikes, say officials
January 23, 2014
ISLAMABAD: Security officials have confirmed that the leader of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan’s (TTP) Supreme Shura and ‘master trainer’ of suicide bombers as well as dozens of foreign fighters were amongst those killed in air strikes in North Waziristan Agency (NWA) on Monday night.
A senior security official told The Express Tribune on Wednesday that most of those killed in the offensive were foreign fighters including 33 Uzbeks and 3 Germans. The strikes, a response to attacks in Bannu and Rawalpindi, also led to the deaths of senior TTP commanders including the head of the Supreme Shura Asmat Shaheen Bittani and Wali Mohammad, successor to the group’s leader Qari Hussain, known as a key trainer of suicide bombers.
PTI | Jan 23, 2014
PESHAWAR: A terror plot was foiled on Thursday as the bomb disposal squad defused a five-kilogram bomb planted near an under-construction flyover in Peshawar in northwest Pakistan.
The bomb disposal squad was called in after information of a bomb was received.
The squad reached the spot and defused the explosive device which was fitted with a timer and weighed five kilograms, police sources added.
The area was cordoned off as a probe into the incident went underway.
BAGHDAD: Air strikes against militant targets in Iraq's restive western province of Anbar killed at least 50 militants, the defence ministry said Wednesday.
Security forces "received accurate information and carried out painful and effective air strikes against terrorist gatherings in Anbar yesterday, January 21, that killed more than 50 terrorists," a ministry statement said.
The militants included foreign fighters of Arab nationality, and large quantities of ammunition were destroyed, the statement said, without giving further information.
The strikes were the latest in a series of security operations targeting militant groups in Anbar in recent weeks.
Iraq executed 11 men convicted of charges related to "terrorism" on Thursday, the justice ministry said, just days after another mass execution of 26 convicts.
"The ministry executed 11 people today, after they were convicted of terrorism charges," it said in a statement. "The total of those executed this week is now 37, all of them Iraqis."
The Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (abbreviated as ISIS or ISIL) has issued four statements that decree new laws on Monday. The new laws come into force three days later, the group said, i.e. January 23.
An Al-Qaeda-linked group has issued new decrees restricting the personal freedoms of the Syrians in the areas under its control in Raqqa province. New laws prohibit music and smoking cigarettes and Shisha. Violators will be “punished by Sharia law.”
Starting on that day, women are obliged to wear the Niqab, or full face veil, and cover their hands with gloves. They will also not be allowed in public without a male guardian. Walking late at night will also be prohibited for the women of Raqqa, the first and only city to have fallen completely under the jihadist group’s control.
Syrian Kurds, who have already declared “transitional democratic autonomy” in one of the three Kurdish-majority areas of northern Syrian (Rojava), are now set to declare self-rule in the other two Kurdish regions within a week, local politicians have said.
“The preparations in the other two regions are still continuing; we will declare democratic autonomy in Afrin and Kobani,” Zohat Kobani, one of the prominent leaders of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), told daily Hürriyet.
Rojava Kurds first declared autonomy in Jazeera.
The Kurdish parties in Syria close to the PYD who were not invited to the Geneva II meetings are planning to spread the declarations of democratic autonomy to all majority-Kurdish regions in the north of Syria. Kurdish parties are divided among themselves in Syria; several of them have merged with the main opposition Syrian National Council, while around 10 have allied with the PYD.
Al-Qaeda chief Ayman al-Zawahiri has called for an end to deadly infighting between an al-Qaeda-linked group and rival Islamists in Syria.
“Every free person in Syria working on toppling (President Bashar) al-Assad ... has to stop fighting brothers in jihad and Islam immediately,” al-Zawahiri said in an audio message posted online.
“Our hearts and the hearts of the (Muslim) nation are bleeding, when we see the internal fighting among the mujahideen in Syria.”
Egyptian security officials say masked gunmen riding on a motorcycle have killed five policemen at a checkpoint in the country’s south.
The officials say the attack took place early Thursday when the armed men opened fire on the checkpoint in the el—Wassta district in the southern province of Bani Suief.
Two policemen were also wounded in the attack. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they are not authorized to talk to the media.
MONTREUX, Switzerland – Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud Al-Faisal reiterated on Wednesday that there can be no role in Syria’s transition for President Bashar Al-Assad and those whose hands are “stained in blood.”
In a speech to an international conference on Syria, Prince Saud said the Kingdom’s participation came upon guarantees and assertions contained in the invitation of UN Secretary General, which stresses that the aim of Geneva II is the full application of what have been mentioned in Geneva I Conference.
MANAMA: Bahrain’s crown prince has pulled reconciliation talks back from the brink by organizing a meeting with the Shiite opposition, and the appointment of a royal delegate, and agreed topics for new talks, have raised some hope of progress.
Earlier this month, the government said it was suspending talks with opposition groups, who have boycotted the process since September after the arrest of a senior member.
But last week, in a surprise move, Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad Al-Khalifa, seen as a moderate member of the royal family, met with, amongst others, Sheikh Ali Salman, the leader of the main Shiite opposition Al-Wefaq group.
Nearly 1,400 people have been killed in Syria since clashes between rebel forces and the jihadist Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant erupted this month, a monitor said Thursday.
"The number of people killed in fighting between the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant and Islamist and rebel forces since January 3 has risen to 1,395," the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
Accorrding to news just released by watchdog group, Palestinian Media Watch, (PMW) the Palestinian leadership has published a threat to bomb Tel Aviv. The message said the Israeli city would be turned into a "ball of fire."
The threats were published yesterday on the Facebook page of Fatah, the leading faction within the PLO, and which is headed by Palestinian Authority (PA) Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian leader.
"We swear to you that we will turn the beloved [Gaza] Strip into a graveyard for your soldiers, and we will turn Tel Aviv into a ball of fire," the message said.
It came in the form of a video posting from Fatah's military wing, the Al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades. As PMW notes:
"The Al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades, has been declared a terrorist organization by the US, Canada, the EU and others."
Iran Sanctions Relief Could Fund Terrorism Against U.S.
The Washington Free Beacon
Iran has been granted absolute control over more than $4 billion that will be unfrozen and returned to Tehran under the recently enacted nuclear accord, causing concern that the cash will be used to fund terrorism.
The billions in cash come with no strings attached, meaning that Iran has complete authority over how the funds are spent—and the U.S. government cannot ensure that it will not go toward terrorism.
The White House did not mandate oversight of the funds under the nuclear deal, leading to concerns that one of the world’s top terrorism sponsors will give a cash infusion to radicals across the Middle East.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said Thursday that elections would be the best way of ending the civil war in Syria and warned the West it could not impose a political solution on Tehran's neighbour and ally.
Speaking as fledgling Syrian peace talks entered a second day on the other side of Switzerland, Rouhani told the World Economic Forum that the Syrian people should be allowed to decide their own destiny.
"The best solution is to organise free and fair elections inside Syria," Rouhani told the World Economic Forum in Davos.
"No outside party or power should decide for the Syrian people and Syria as a country."
Describing a conflict that has been raging for nearly three years as a "major catastrophe", Rouhani said Iran was deeply concerned by the influx of foreign fighters he described as "terrorists" into Syria.
Iranian President Hassan Rounahi continues to try and "deceive the world," Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said from Davos, shortly after the Iranian leader addressed the World Economic Forum there.
While Rouhani condemns the killing of innocent people, Netanyahu said in a statement, Iran itself recently executed dozens of innocent people. While he speaks about access to essential technology, the people of Iran are prevented from having open access to the Internet.
And, Netanyahu said, while Rouhani speaks of eliminating external intervention in Syria, "Iran is arming the Assad regime and directing Hezbollah to kill innocents in Syria. While Rouhani is speaking about peace with countries in the Middle East, he refused even today to recognize the existence of Israel, and his regime calls for its destruction on a daily basis."
Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu has hit back at Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Muallem’s accusations during the U.N. peace conference in Montreux that Turkey is “backing terrorism.”
“We all know who the terrorists in Syria are. I wonder how the representatives of the regime think they can deceive the entire international community with their lies,” Davutoğlu told reporters on the sidelines of the peace conference in Switzerland on Jan. 22.
“I don’t even intend to say anything in response to those who are so shameless after all their heinous crimes against their own people. History will judge them very badly,” he said after a meeting with his U.S. counterpart John Kerry.
An Iranian-American engineer accused of attempting to ship stolen documentation on a high-tech military plane to Iran has been indicted, US authorities say.
A grand jury in the US state of Connecticut charged Mozaffar Khazaee, 59, with two counts of transporting stolen goods.
He was arrested on 9 January for trying to smuggle thousands of pages of F-35 Joint Strike Fighter documents.
If convicted, he faces up to 20 years in prison.
Mr Khazaee is accused of transporting, transmitting and transferring in interstate commerce goods obtained by theft, conversion or fraud, according to court documents.
ROME - A melee between secular and religious Tunisian lawmakers last night disrupted voting on a draft constitution, underscoring tensions over the role of Islam and the transition to democracy three years after the nation's revolution.
Peppered with shouts, fits of tears, chants of 'Allahu Akbar' (God is great), shoving matches, and MPs leaving the room, the debate foundered on an article banning accusations of apostasy, which means renouncing one's religion.
Religious MPs said the article is ''contrary to Islam'', while secular ones said allowing the charge of apostasy in the constitution would mean giving jihadists license to kill.
Abuja — Police used tear gas outside a court in northern Nigeria to disperse an angry mob throwing rocks at prisoners accused of being gay.
Scores of young men appeared outside an Islamic court Wednesday in Bauchi, Nigeria, as nine men, including a college professor, were brought in for trial.
Outside the courthouse, the crowd shouted: "God will punish you!" as the defendants' vehicle approached.
After rocks were thrown at the vehicle, the police dispersed the crowd with tear gas. The only damage was to a nearby car.
Homosexuality is illegal in Nigeria, and a new law bans gay organizations and says gay marriages are punishable by up to 14 years in prison.
Five men, allegedly Qaddafi supporters, were reported killed in firelight this morning in Sabratha when they and the group they were with were discovered by local security forces. The group are said to have been heading to Ajilat.
According to an army source in the Sabratha, seven others were caught and arrested.
It has not been disclosed where the group came from or how many men were in it, other than “a lot”, according to the source. The rest managed to escape.
Reuters | Jan 23, 2014
BANGUI: Seven people died in inter-religious attacks and reprisal killings in Central African Republic's capital Bangui on Wednesday, a human rights campaigner said, underlining the challenge the new interim president faces in restoring peace.
The local Red Cross said it also found another 11 corpses, most burnt beyond recognition.
Close to one million people, or a quarter of the population, have been displaced in the former French colony by clashes that began when mostly Muslim Seleka rebels seized power in a coup in March.
KIGALI: As Rwanda marks 20 years since its 1994 genocide, the government is seeking to stress the strides the country has made since those dark days, despite international concern over its hard-line leader.
Fiercely proud of its legacy, Kigali is displaying a country at peace, enjoying some of the best security on the continent and hailed by global financial institutions for its pro-reform, business-friendly agenda.
But the seemingly hardening stance of strongman Paul Kagame, Rwanda’s president, is casting a shadow over the country’s relations with the outside world.
Accused of backing rebel warlords who recruit child soldiers in neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo and suspected of eliminating exiled dissidents, Kagame now appears to be suffering a backlash.
Leaders of Jamaat-e-Islami are confident that the BNP would not break up ties with them, saying it would make the BNP highly unpopular in the long run.
Several leaders of the party told the Dhaka Tribune that they were confident the BNP would face political obstacles if it disowned the Jamaat – a key ally of the 18-party alliance. The BNP has maintained an alliance with Jamaat for more than a decade, calling the Islamist party a “strategic partner.”
Jamaat leaders pointed out that the two parties were working together at the root-level and had already formed anti-government committees. They also said at present the BNP is not in a position to dissolve their partnership; rather, they are very much in need of Jamaat if they want to win politically.
The Afghan interior minister Omar Daudzai has said Afghan peace talks with the militant groups has no links with the bilateral security agreement between Kabul and Washington.
Daudzai in a twitter message said the government of Afghanistan will continue to its efforts in holding peace talks with the militant groups, even if the security agreement between Kabul and Washington was not signed.
Daudzai following the militants attack on Lebanese restaurant in capital Kabul, said the latest attack shows that the enemies of Afghanistan will not leave the Afghan people to live in peace, and the militants will continue to their violence, whether the security agreement with Washington is signed or not.
Prime minister Sheikh Hasina has said those who perpetrated the heinous attack on the minority people after the election must get the punishment.
“None of the attackers will be spared,” she said.
The premier made the statement while visiting the victims of the attacks on the minority community in Malopara of Jessore.
She said: “The government will be as tough as it required for ensuring the security of the people.”
By Mariyath Mohamed | January 23rd, 2014
Minister of Home Affairs Umar Naseer has released an order to the Maldives Correctional Services mandating the implementation of the death penalty.
“I order the Maldives Correctional Services [MCS] to implement the death penalty – as sentenced by the Supreme Court – through the use of lethal injection, and to make all necessary arrangements for the implementation of such sentences, and to find all necessary material for the implementation and maintain the set-up at the Maafushi Prison,” read the order signed by Naseer at a press conference on today (January 23).
The home minister’s decision comes just days after the sentence of death was handed to Hussain Humam Ahmed on charges of murdering the moderate religious scholar and MP Dr Afrasheem Ali in October 2012.
At least 24,500 BNP and Jamaat-Shibir men have been sued on charge of carrying out destructive activities in 11 upazilas of the district during and after the January 5 national elections.
District police sources said the presiding officers, assistant presiding officers and police filed 124 cases with respective police stations in the last 15 days since January 7.
In the cases, the complainants accused the BNP and Jamaat-Shibir activists of vandalising polling centres, looting ballot papers and ballot boxes, intimidating votes and attacking Hindus for casting votes.
NEW DELHI: India on Wednesday said that it supports an all-inclusive Syrian-led process to chart out the future of the violence-ravaged country and stressed that it "stands fully prepared to play its part" in the Geneva II peace process in any manner required of it.
External affairs minister Salman Khurshid, addressing the UN-backed Geneva II conference in Montreux, Switzerland, also reiterated India's stand that there can be no military solution to the Syrian crisis that has led to the deaths of more than 120,000 people.
"India's stand on various resolutions in the Security Council and General Assembly has been in support of efforts to bring about an end to violence by all parties," he said.
Khurshid said India fully backs the Geneva II talks and wished all participants successful talks "resulting in meaningful resolution of the conflict".
23 January 2014
Dubai, January 23:Although almost 80 percent of Indian prisoners in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) are eligible for relocation to Indian jails under the Transfer of Sentenced Persons Agreement, only about 10 percent wish to serve their remaining sentence back home.
“We have received about 120 applications from prisoners expressing their interest to be transferred to Indian jails,” Khaleej Times quoted India's ambassador to the UAE, T.P. Seetharam as saying Wednesday.
The number of applications constitute only about 10 percent of the total number of Indian prisoners in the UAE while almost 80 per cent of them were eligible for relocation to Indian jails according to the Transfer of Sentenced Persons Agreement signed by the two countries in November, 2011.
Islamic Bank of Britain, the UK’s only wholly Sharia compliant retail bank, today announced the launch of the IBB Notice Cash Individual Savings Account.
The account is the UK’s first Sharia compliant cash ISA and offers consumers an ethical, tax-free way to save. It means that Muslim consumers who prefer to receive a Sharia compliant return on their savings no longer need to miss out on the tax efficient benefits of an ISA, or compromise on their beliefs by placing their deposits in interest-based products.
The IBB Notice Cash ISA is offering an expected profit rate of 1.8%, free of tax. In order to receive this level of return from a savings account where tax is deducted, a basic rate tax payer would need to place their deposit into an account offering 2.25% and a higher rate tax payer would need to save it into an account offering 3.00%. The minimum deposit for the IBB Notice Cash ISA is £250 and requires savers to give 120 days’ notice in order to make a withdrawal. Savers can make regular deposits, and profit is calculated and accrued to the account monthly.
Security forces in western Myanmar massacred at least 40 Rohingya Muslims last week, including women and children, a human rights group said on Thursday, quoting witness accounts, despite official denials of the killings.
Bangkok-based Fortify Rights said it spoke to witnesses and other credible sources who confirmed the massacre, which would be the deadliest incident in western Rakhine state since October 2012, when ethnic Rakhine Buddhists fought minority Rohingya Muslims.
"The actual number of deaths may be higher but information is circumscribed by government-imposed restrictions on access to the area," the group said in a statement.
Rakhine state government spokesman Win Myaing told Reuters on Thursday that he visited the area and found no evidence of mass killings. Government-run media on Thursday also carried denials of a massacre.
Egypt has seen violence "on an unprecedented scale" since the army ousted Islamist President Mohamed Morsi last July, Amnesty International says.
The human rights organisation accused security forces of regularly committing abuses and said rights and liberties in the country are being eroded.
Amnesty's report comes two days before the third anniversary of uprising that forced President Hosni Mubarak to quit.
Egypt has not yet officially commented on the report.
Amnesty's Middle East and North Africa Deputy Director Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui said in the report: "Egypt has witnessed a series of damaging blows to human rights and state violence on an unprecedented scale over the last seven months.
The UN chief's special adviser on genocide prevention has warned of a "high risk of crimes against humanity and of genocide" in the Central African Republic.
Adama Dieng and other UN officials briefed the Security Council on Wednesday on the continuing and unprecedented violence between Christians and Muslims in the country.
More than half the country's 4.6 million people need assistance, according to the UN, and nearly one million have fled their homes after mostly Muslim Seleka rebels seized power in a March coup d'etat that ousted former President Francois Bozize.
Christian self-defence groups known as "anti-balaka" (anti-machete) have taken up arms against them, and the UN estimates that retaliatory violence has claimed thousands of lives.
The officials spoke of children being beheaded, entire villages burned and a complete breakdown of law and order, and they urged the deployment of more peacekeepers as soon as possible.
UN leader Ban Ki-moon told Syria's warring sides at a peace conference in Switzerland Wednesday that the time had come for negotiations to end the country's bloodshed.
"Our purpose was to send a message to the two Syrian delegations and to the Syrian people that the world wants an urgent end to the conflict," Ban said in a closing press conference at the talks held in the Swiss town of Montreux.
"Enough is enough, the time has to come to negotiate," Ban said. "Syrians must come together to save their country, protect their children and find a peaceful path."
"We must seize this fragile chance," Ban said, after Syria's regime and opposition gathered with world powers for the most serious push yet to end Syria's civil war after nearly three years.
Human Rights Watch hit out at the United Arab Emirates for preventing it from holding a news conference Thursday to release a report criticising rights violations in the Gulf state.
"Blocking Human Rights Watch from holding a news conference in the UAE sadly underscores the increasing threat to freedom of expression in the country," said Sarah Leah Whitson, HRW's chief for the Middle East and North Africa.
"If the UAE wants to call itself a global media centre, it needs to show that it respects freedom of speech and the open expression of critical ideas, not shut down media events," said Whitson.
DAVOS: Having been long-sidelined on global platforms, Iran on Thursday said it wants to engage with different countries in the world and declared that its nuclear energy programme would never be used for nuclear weapons.
Speaking at the World Economic Forum annual meeting here, the first major global platform after initiation of talks between Iran and the US recently, Iran's President Hassan Rouhani said his nation never desired to have a nuclear weapon and it would never desire to have one in future as well.
He further said that Syria has been engaged in a major catastrophe and Iran was very sad about such acts. "Iran believes that everyone should first try to put a full stop to this violence in Syria and then work on an agenda after talking with everyone. We are helping Syrians and everyone should contribute to help them," he added.
Syria’s peace conference moved into a second day on Thursday with the warring sides showing no willingness to compromise as global powers seek to engineer head-to-head talks on ending the bloodshed.
The biggest push yet to end the conflict was marked by fiery exchanges on day one yesterday as the regime and the opposition clashed over President Bashar al-Assad’s fate at the UN meeting in Switzerland.
Expectations are very low for a breakthrough at the conference, but diplomats believe that simply bringing the two sides together for the first time is a mark of some progress and could be an important first step.
Kuala Lumpur — The company which prints copies of the International New York Times sold in Malaysia blackened out the faces of pigs in two photos in the paper Wednesday, sparking ridicule online in the Muslim-majority country.
KHL Printing Co superimposed black boxes on the pigs' faces in line with government guidelines, said a company employee who declined to be named.
"This is a Muslim country so we covered the pigs' eyes," he told AFP. "We usually do that for the International New York Times -- also for pictures of cigarettes, weapons, guns and nude pictures."
The less is said about this, the better, Minister Khairy Jamaluddin said today about the current row over the word Allah.
Fantastic, may be the Umno-led Cabinet should have thought about this before they embarked on a confrontation with the Christian community that has been using the word Allah for more than 100 years.
After all, who initiated the order to restrict the word and nearly 40 other Arabic words from the AlKitab some 30 years ago. Who decided to put such laws in effect in 1986? And who decided to enforce the law in 2007?
Perhaps the young minister does not remember. But he is gracious enough to say "The less we comment on this, the better. Of course, the federal government is committed to the 10-point solution and that is very clear that the solution stands."
A Christian group, representing various denominations in Sabah, is embarking on a major religious revival campaign following dubious attempts to convert some of their flock to Islam.
Perpaduan Anak Negeri Sabah (PAN) will go on a six-month campaign to gather indigenous Christians to unite and urge Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak to speak up on the “Allah” issue for Christian Bumiputeras.
“We want the PM to say something. He is not a PM for the Malays only but a PM for everyone,” PAN chairperson Esther Golingi told The Malaysian Insider.
PAN is reviving the spirit of an old Kadazan Dusun Murut war cry “mamangkis” which was a used by their ancestors to rally warrior troops for battle.
However, Golingi said the calls now are being “contextualised as a Christian clarion call for revival.”
WASHINGTON: The Pentagon took steps on Wednesday to give individual troops greater latitude to wear turbans, head scarfs, yarmulkes and other religious clothing with their uniforms, but advocacy groups said the new policy fell short of what they were seeking.
“The military departments will accommodate individual expressions of sincerely held beliefs (conscience, moral principles, or religious beliefs) of service members” unless it might affect military readiness or unit cohesion, the updated policy on religious accommodation said.
The policy was mainly expected to affect Sikhs, Muslims, Jews and members of other groups that wear beards or articles of clothing as part of their religion. It also could affect Wiccans and others who may obtain tattoos or piercings for religious reasons.
Lieutenant Commander Nate Christensen, a Pentagon spokesman, said for the first time the Defense Department’s policy encouraged acceptance in the military of beards, long hair and articles of clothing worn for religious reasons so long as they do not interfere with good order and discipline.
A US official close to President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry said both men are disturbed over what is being perceived in their inner circle as "Jewish activism in Congress" that they think is being encouraged by the Israeli government, Israel Radio reported on Thursday.
The official has informed Israeli government figures that the president and secretary of state are disappointed over repeated attacks made against them by leading members of the Jewish community in the US.
According to Israel Radio, Israeli diplomats and foreign officers have warned against this trend. According to officials based in foreign missions, the Israeli government is increasingly being viewed as fanning the flames among American Jews by encouraging them to promote the official government position while making no room for opposing viewpoints.
ALLEGAN, Mich. (AP) — A federal judge on Wednesday dismissed a conservative Christian advocacy group's lawsuit against a Muslim rights organization over the cancellation of a speech by an anti-Muslim speaker at a southwestern Michigan school.
The Thomas More Law Center sued the Council on American-Islamic Relations in 2012, saying its Michigan director violated the free speech rights of then-state Rep. Dave Agema and others involved in the event at Allegan High School.
Allegan police interrupted Kamal Saleem's speech on Jan. 28, 2012, saying there were threats of violence against him. Dawud Walid, executive director of the Muslim group's Michigan chapter, had written the school district earlier objecting to Saleem's appearance.
U.S. District Judge Janet Neff dismissed Walid and his group as defendants. Neff also dismissed claims against Allegan police and the group People for the American Way, which advocates for liberal causes.
LANSING — Four state representatives are calling for Gov. Rick Snyder to denounce Dave Agema, a former state representative and a member of the Republican National Committee, for his comments criticizing the Muslim community.
Reps. David Knezek (D-Dearborn Heights), George Darany (D-Dearborn), Rashida Tlaib (D-Detroit) and Vicki Barnett (D-Farmington Hills) are upset about Agema’s comments that Muslim-Americans offer nothing to the United States. Agema also recently criticized the LGBT — or lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender — community.
LONDON - Five years after President Obama promised to close Guantanamo Bay within one year, detainees have described their despair at conditions and their indefinite detention. Recent legislative amendments by Congress removed obstacles to transferring cleared detainees out of the prison.
Abu Wa’el Dhiab, a cleared Syrian, said:
“I am dying every day many, many times. Sometimes because of my illness, and sometimes because of the oppression by the guards here, and sometimes because of the doctors, and sometimes because of the pressure they put on us and because of the length of our unfair imprisonment.
A friendship based on trust and mutual respect has grown in recent years between The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and Utah’s Muslim community.
In the past, local Muslim leaders have participated in Latter-day Saint-sponsored interfaith gatherings and the LDS Church assisted with the construction of a mosque in West Valley City. Latter-day Saints also extended hands of fellowship to Utah Muslims in the volatile days following Sept. 11, 2001.
Congregants from both faiths have also worked together in times of need and disaster.
That partnership reached a new level Jan. 10 when the Islamic Society of Greater Salt Lake made a significant donation to the LDS Church Humanitarian Fund to assist victims of the recent typhoon in the Philippines.
Young volunteers at the TARIC Islamic Centre are about to surpass their goal this Sunday, Jan. 26 to prepare and deliver more than 2,000 warm meals to those in need.
“This year, three weeks in, we’re at about 1,600 meals,” said Imraan Assim, lead volunteer and the program organizer who initiated the soup kitchen and meal delivery project last year.
It began as a way to celebrate the Islamic month marking the birth of the Prophet Muhammad, Rabi al-Awwal, and to proactively demonstrate his message of mercy and kindness to their neighbours, Assim noted.
Unleashed is working with students in and out of classrooms addressing prevalent issues around the world and the humanitarian efforts to fix those issues. Unleashed’s ultimate vision is curing Islamophobia. They want to be at the center of starting a dialogue about the effects of Islamophobia and our solution. The organization is seeking assistance from the public as they try to present classes and activities with students, parents, and people of different faiths and backgrounds all around the world.
TOOWOOMBA'S first mosque has opened in a disused church after years of fundraising by the city's Muslim community.
Ownership of the former home of the Westside Christian Church on the corner of West and Stephen Sts has changed hands to the Islamic Society of Toowoomba.
Founding president Dr Shahjahan Khan hosted the mosque's first prayer session in the 2765sq m property last week ahead of an official opening planned for March 30.
He said the purchase represented a "new bright chapter" for the city's Muslim community.
"I thank Toowoomba Regional Council and congratulate the city of Toowoomba for its inclusiveness," he said.