New Age Islam
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Islamic World News ( 16 Dec 2017, NewAgeIslam.Com)

Pervez Musharraf Hails LeT, JuD Terrorists as 'Patriotic'









Phooto: Musharraf said the two groups have large public support and "good people" and no one could object if they formed a political party.

 

Saudi Views Afghanistan as a Theatre in Its Competition with Iran: Pentagon

Hezbollah: Israel Fears Stone-Throwing Palestinian Children More than Arab Leaders

Will Take Unilateral Steps in Areas of Divergence with Pakistan: US

Pakistan

Pervez Musharraf Hails LeT, JuD Terrorists as 'Patriotic'

Fear, Shame Preserve Silence of Sexual Abuse by Mullahs In Pakistan

8 Killed In Suicide Attack on Quetta's Bethel Memorial Methodist Church

Hafiz Saeed wants to ‘liberate’ Kashmir to avenge Pak defeat in 1971

Pakistani, Afghan parliamentarians call for stronger bilateral ties

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South Asia

Saudi Views Afghanistan as a Theatre in Its Competition With Iran: Pentagon

14 ISIS Militants Killed, Wounded In Latest Operations in Nangarhar

Taliban kill 11 Afghan police in attack on checkpoints

Ghani issues new orders to act against terror groups in Nangarhar

Afghan forces receive HIMARS support during the counter-terrorism operations

Explosion in Mazar-e-Sharif city leaves 3 dead, wounded

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Mideast

Hezbollah: Israel Fears Stone-Throwing Palestinian Children More than Arab Leaders

Israeli Regime Uses Unknown Gas Bombs Against Palestinians

Thousands March in Funeral of Wheelchair-Bound Palestinian Activist Killed by Israeli Forces in Gaza

Ankara's Anti-SDF Operation Imminent after Turkish Forces Open New Passageway at Border with Syria

Iran joins ‘Association of Tax Authorities of Islamic Countries ‘

Palestinian billionaire released by Saudis, to leave country soon: Sources

IRGC Commander: US Decision on Quds to Accelerate Zionist Regime's Collapse

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North America

Will Take Unilateral Steps in Areas of Divergence with Pakistan: US

No Military Offensive against Iran, Says Mattis

Afghanistan a tough place but US forces are winning: President Trump

US Forces Preventing Dispatch of Humanitarian Cargos to Refugee Camp at Syria-Jordan Border

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Southeast Asia

Indonesian Muslim Clerics Leading Tens of Thousands of Anti-Trump Protesters Over Jerusalem

Decision to Cancel Imams Not Politically-Driven, Says DPM

Nazri: Imams different from what I briefed Cabinet

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Africa

Sultan of Sokoto Wades into Hijab Controversy, Says Muslims Are Being Maltreated

Islamic Solidarity Sport Federation participates in Conference of Arab Sports Federations in Egypt

Boko Haram has killed more Muslims than Christians – SarafaTunji, former minister

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Europe

Muslim Migrants Warned in Germany: Reject Anti-Semitism, Learn About the Holocaust

Moscow: US Training New Militants to Counter Russia in Syria

Two Danish journalists wounded in Islamist knife attack in Gabon

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India

ISI Bid To Honeytrap Three Indian Officials in Islamabad Foiled

In Kashmir, India and Pakistan Race to Tap the Himalayas

Karzai meets Indian PM Narendra Modi, discuss bilateral ties

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Arab World

The Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques receives FIFA President

FM: No Permanent Base for US-Led Coalition in Iraq

Russian, Syrian Fighter Jets Hit Terrorists Positions in Idlib Province

Terrorists Escaping Southern Damascus amid Widening Rifts among ISIL Commanders

Syrian Army Inches Closer to Last Main Stronghold of Al-Nusra in Southwestern Damascus

Syrian Army Tightens Noose on Terrorists in Southwestern Damascus

More Terrorists Arrive in Northeastern Hama to Slow down Syrian Army Advances towards Idlib

Syrian Army Drives Terrorists out of More Regions in Southeastern Aleppo

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Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau

URL: http://newageislam.com/islamic-world-news/new-age-islam-news-bureau/pervez-musharraf-hails-let,-jud-terrorists-as--patriotic-/d/113596

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Pervez Musharraf hails LeT, JuD terrorists as 'patriotic'

PTI | Dec 17, 2017

KARACHI: Hailing LeT and JuD terror groups as "patriotic", former military dictator Pervez Musharraf has said that he was ready to enter into an alliance with them for Pakistan's "safety and security", according to a media report.

The 74-year-old retired general, who is on self-exile in Dubai, had last month said that he was the biggest supporter of the LeT+ and its founder Hafiz Saeed, the Mumbai terror attack mastermind who heads the banned Jamaat-udDawah.

"They (LeT and JuD) are patriotic people. The most patriotic. They have sacrificed their lives for Pakistan in Kashmir ...," the ARY News channel quoted him as saying.

Musharraf said the two groups have large public support and "good people" and no one could object if they formed a political party.

The LeT was banned following the 2008 Mumbai attack in which 166 people were killed, while the JuD was declared as a foreign terrorist organisation by the US in June 2014.

JuD chief Saeed, accused of masterminding the Mumbai attack, had last month unveiled his political ambitions by formally announcing that his group will contest the general elections in 2018 under the banner of the Milli Muslim League.

The former military ruler further said that so far the two groups have not approached him but if they desire to enter into an alliance with his party, he has no objection.

Musharraf had last month announced the formation of a grand political alliance after a consultative meeting between representatives of around two dozen political parties.

However, several parties dissociated themselves from Musharraf's Pakistan AwamiIttehad alliance.

Musharraf, who plotted the Kargil conflict, then toppled prime minister Nawaz Sharif in a bloodless coup in 1999 and ruled over Pakistan for nine years, is facing a slew of court cases in Pakistan. He unsuccessfully contested 2013 elections after returning from five years of self-exile in Dubai.

He claimed that he was ready to face all charges as the courts are not under "Nawaz Sharif's control anymore".

timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/pakistan/pervez-musharraf-hails-let-jud-terrorists-as-patriotic/articleshow/62105776.cms

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Saudi views Afghanistan as a theater in its competition with Iran: Pentagon

By KHAAMA PRESS - Sun Dec 17 2017

The United States Department of Defense or Pentagon has said the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia likely views Afghanistan as a theater in its competition with Iran.

“Afghanistan prioritizes Saudi Arabia’s religious credibility and political support over seeking material support from Saudi Arabia,” Pentagon said in its latest report.

The report further adds particularly, Afghanistan seeks greater recognition of fatwas and statements by the Grand Mufti condemning terrorists and ISIS-K as “incompatible with Islamic values.”

However, Pentagon says Saudi Arabia historically has not provided material or fiscal support to Afghanistan, despite Afghanistan’s entry into the Saudi-led Counter Terrorism Coalition. “Saudi Arabia likely views Afghanistan as a theater in its competition with Iran,” the report concludes.

In the meantime, Pentagon says “Iran and the United States share certain interests in Afghanistan such as counternarcotics. However, Iran seeks to expand its influence and limit U.S. influence and military presence, particularly in western Afghanistan.”

According to Pentagon, Iran’s desire for influence in Afghanistan remains strong. Iran seeks increased influence in Afghanistan through government partnerships, bilateral trade, and cultural and religious ties.

The report also adds that Iran provides some support to the Taliban and publicly justifies its relationship with the Taliban  as a means to combat the spread of ISIS-K in Afghanistan.

“Iran’s support to the Taliban undermines the Afghan Government’s credibility, adds to instability in the region, and complicates strategic partnership agreements,” Pentagon warns.

khaama.com/saudi-views-afghanistan-as-a-theater-in-its-competition-with-iran-pentagon-04064

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Hezbollah: Israel Fears Stone-Throwing Palestinian Children More than Arab Leaders

 

TEHRAN (FNA)- A senior member of Hezbollah resistance group blasted the Arab countries for their weak position against the Zionist regime's policies, stressing that the stone-throwing Palestinian children are more frightening to the Israelis than Arab leaders.

"The stone-throwing Palestinian children are more influential than all Islamic and Arab conferences and the Zionist regime fears them more than the Arab leaders," Sheikh Nabil Farouk, a member of Hezbollah's Central Council, said on Saturday.

He said that Israel is aware that Saudi Arabia's weapons are no threat to the regime as they point to other Arabs and Muslims in Yemen, Iran, Syria and the resistance front, adding, "The Zionist regime does not fear Saudi Arabia but it fears the resistance in Lebanon and Palestine."

Farouk underscored that Hezbollah will spare no efforts to support the resistance in Palestine.

His remarks came after results of a recent poll in the West Bank showed that an overwhelming majority of the Palestinian people distrust Saudi Arabia and nearly half of them believe in armed resistance as the best response to the US recognition of al-Quds as Israel's capital.

The poll recently conducted by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research (PSR) showed that 75% of Palestinians don’t trust the UAE to play a role in creating a buffer zone between Israel and Palestine, the Arabic-language al-Watan newspaper reported on Wednesday.

Also results of the poll indicated that 82% of the Palestinian people distrust Saudi Arabia and 70% distrust Egypt.

Also, 45% of respondents believed that armed resistance is the best response to US President Donald Trump's recognition of Jerusalem al-Quds as the Israeli capital and 70% want Mahmoud Abbas to resign.

Observers believe that the poll shows views of residents of the West Bank which has more population and covers a larger area compared with other Palestinian-populated areas.

According to the poll, 76% of the respondents think that the Palestinian issue is not the first issue for the Arab world.

en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13960925001708

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Will take unilateral steps in areas of divergence with Pakistan: US

PTI | Dec 16, 2017

WASHINGTON: The US will take "unilateral steps in areas of divergence" with Pakistan in its fight against terrorism, the Pentagon on Saturday told Congress and insisted that there must be "fundamental change" in the way Islamabad deals with terrorist safe havens on its territory.

In its first report on Afghanistan to Congress after President Donald Trump announced his new Afghan and South Asia strategy, the Pentagon said it will be a part of a whole-of- government, regional strategy to isolate the Taliban from "sources of external support" and to mitigate any malign influence from outside actors.

"Our military-to-military relationship with Pakistan remains critical to the success of our mutual interests in the region," said the semiannual report titled 'Enhancing Security and Stability in Afghanistan' that covers events during the period from June 1 to November 30 this year.

"To move forward, we must see fundamental changes in the way Pakistan deals with terrorist safe-havens in its territory," the report said.

"To induce that change, we will work across the US government, using a range of tools to expand our cooperation with Pakistan in areas where our interests converge and to take unilateral steps in areas of divergence," it said.

The Af-Pak border region remains a sanctuary for various groups, including al-Qaida, al-Qaida in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS), the Haqqani Network, Lashkar-e-Taiba, Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), ISIS-K, and the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, it said.

"Sanctuary on the Pakistani side and presence on the Afghan side remain security challenges for both countries and pose a threat to regional security and stability," the department of defence said.

Although Pakistani military operations have disrupted some militant sanctuaries, certain extremist groups - such as the Taliban and the Haqqani Network - retain freedom of movement in Pakistan, it said.

"The United States continues to convey to all levels of Pakistani leadership the importance of taking action against all terrorist and extremist groups," the Pentagon said.

Increased collaboration between Afghanistan and Pakistan is critical to maintaining pressure on militant and terrorist groups and for meeting the enduring security requirements on both sides of the shared border, it said.

"The trust deficit resulting from Pakistan's support of and inaction against Afghan-oriented extremists, and Pakistan's concerns about terrorist attacks launched from Afghanistan, hampers the bilateral military collaboration required to achieve enduring security," the Pentagon said.

According to the report, the hard-won gains in Afghanistan remain fragile, but are worth defending.

Under the new strategy, US diplomatic, military, and economic resources are aligned in support of a negotiated settlement to this long-running war.

"We have recommitted to helping the Afghan government and people navigate through these challenges with a new approach that leverages additional support from allies, partners, and regional actors," it said.

"Our commitment is enduring but not unlimited, our support is not a blank check. As long as the Afghan government continues to show real progress and make real reforms, we will continue to support them as our strategic partners in the fight against international terrorism," the report said.

"The Taliban cannot win on the battlefield. They must know that their only path to peace and political legitimacy is through a negotiated settlement with the Afghan government," it asserted.

timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/pakistan/will-take-unilateral-steps-in-areas-of-divergence-with-pakistan-us/articleshow/62096525.cms

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Pakistan

Pervez Musharraf hails LeT, JuD terrorists as 'patriotic'

PTI | Dec 17, 2017

KARACHI: Hailing LeT and JuD terror groups as "patriotic", former military dictator Pervez Musharraf has said that he was ready to enter into an alliance with them for Pakistan's "safety and security", according to a media report.

The 74-year-old retired general, who is on self-exile in Dubai, had last month said that he was the biggest supporter of the LeT+ and its founder Hafiz Saeed, the Mumbai terror attack mastermind who heads the banned Jamaat-udDawah.

"They (LeT and JuD) are patriotic people. The most patriotic. They have sacrificed their lives for Pakistan in Kashmir ...," the ARY News channel quoted him as saying.

Musharraf said the two groups have large public support and "good people" and no one could object if they formed a political party.

The LeT was banned following the 2008 Mumbai attack in which 166 people were killed, while the JuD was declared as a foreign terrorist organisation by the US in June 2014.

JuD chief Saeed, accused of masterminding the Mumbai attack, had last month unveiled his political ambitions by formally announcing that his group will contest the general elections in 2018 under the banner of the Milli Muslim League.

The former military ruler further said that so far the two groups have not approached him but if they desire to enter into an alliance with his party, he has no objection.

Musharraf had last month announced the formation of a grand political alliance after a consultative meeting between representatives of around two dozen political parties.

However, several parties dissociated themselves from Musharraf's Pakistan AwamiIttehad alliance.

Musharraf, who plotted the Kargil conflict, then toppled prime minister Nawaz Sharif in a bloodless coup in 1999 and ruled over Pakistan for nine years, is facing a slew of court cases in Pakistan. He unsuccessfully contested 2013 elections after returning from five years of self-exile in Dubai.

He claimed that he was ready to face all charges as the courts are not under "Nawaz Sharif's control anymore".

timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/pakistan/pervez-musharraf-hails-let-jud-terrorists-as-patriotic/articleshow/62105776.cms

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Fear, Shame Preserve Silence of Sexual Abuse By Mullahs In Pakistan

AP | Updated: Dec 16, 2017

It began with sweets and pocket money when he was 10 years old — special attention from the religious cleric who ran the Pakistani madrassa, or Islamic school, the boy attended. And it escalated to rape and months of sexual abuse, the now 28-year-old young man says.

"I feel rage now when I think after he raped me he took a bath and right away he left to lead the prayers," the man, an economist who lives in Islamabad, told The Associated Press. "After that I came to know from three or four of my classmates that the mufti used to do the same with them."

Speaking English, at times searching for the right words and at others apologizing for the explicitness of his conversation, he described the cleric's advances: how he took him to another mosque that was not associated with the madrassa the boy attended and then raped him.

He said he suppressed memories of the abuse for years, but after reading an AP report last month revealing widespread abuse by clerics in Pakistan's thousands of madrassas, they all came tumbling back.

"I read the story two times. The first time I was shocked. The things that were written there were everything I had lived. The second time I read it, the whole of my body was trembling because of the memories it brought back," said the man, speaking on condition of anonymity, not only because of the shame he felt nearly two decades later but because he feared Pakistan's religious leaders could retaliate against him either with violence or charges of blasphemy or being an apostate, both of which, he said, were tantamount to a death sentence.

He decided to approach his former classmates, to rally survivors of abuse to band together to speak out. But, he said, he was rebuffed, and firmly.

"They said 'Stop talking. This is not something to discuss.' It is so common in the madrassas here, but people don't want to talk about it. We are ashamed," the young man said.

There are more than 22,000 registered madrassas in Pakistan, and many thousands of unregistered ones, often grimy one- or two-room facilities in remote villages. The millions of students they teach are often among the country's poorest, who receive food and an education for free.

But at the madrassa this young man attended — one of the largest in the Pakistani capital, which attracted students from other parts of the country — many of his fellow students were, like himself, from middle- and upper-middle class families, "sent to the madrassa to win favor for the family from God," he said.

Naeema Kishwar, a federal lawmaker who last year helped change Pakistan's laws to close a legal loophole that had allowed those who commit so-called "honor killings" to escape punishment, said that laws exist to tackle sexual abuse of minors, which she called a scourge in Pakistan, not only in madrassas but in public schools, at home and among the army of child workers who are employed in homes as domestic workers and in factories.

"Of course, it is the responsibility of the federal government to prevent abuse of children, but you must keep it in your mind that provincial governments are equally to be blamed for being unable to stop child abuse at all places, including private and government schools and madrassas," she said. "This is a common problem."

But Kishwar who is a member of the religious Jamaat-e-Ulema-e-Islam, a pro-Taliban party, took umbrage with a focus on sexual abuse in the madrassas. Her party operates thousands of religious schools. But like the clerics who dominate her party, Kishwar, despite data and evidence to the contrary, said the incidents of abuses in religious seminaries were isolated.

Taha Siddiqui, a prominent Pakistani blogger and journalist, who has come under attack by the military and intelligence agencies in Pakistan for his outspoken commentaries, said the AP report was widely shared on social media, whereas the mainstream media stayed mostly silent. He blamed fear among the mainstream media of antagonizing the country's religious leaders and because sex, even if it involves abuse, is a taboo subject.

"Such topics rarely get any coverage on national television channels. And for that reason, there were discussions on social media which were much more encouraging," he said.

Two-time Oscar winner SharmeenObaid, whose documentaries have given a voice to victims of acid attacks and "honor killings" in Pakistan, retweeted the story.

Sherry Rahman, a senator in Pakistan's upper house of Parliament and a close ally of Pakistan's slain leader, Benazir Bhutto, tweeted: "This is a subject we need to talk about so our children are better protected. Sexual abuse of children is pervasive at many levels of society across the class divide. We must give courage and hope for victims to speak out. "

Raza Rumi, a Pakistani journalist and policy analyst, who moved to the United States after surviving an assassination attempt by members of the militant Lashkar-e-Janghvi group, tweeted: "This had to be said. For too long we have avoided confronting such brutalities ... End child abuse in Pakistan."

But there were also virulent attacks, said Siddiqui. Some accused those who criticized madrassas of blasphemy, while others said it was a Western conspiracy to defame Islam.

Says the young economist and abuse survivor: "In Pakistan the mullahs have two weapons — they can declare you an apostate or charge you with blasphemy. Both are a certain death sentence."

timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/pakistan/fear-shame-preserve-silence-of-abuse-by-clerics-in-pakistan/articleshow/62098969.cms

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8 killed in suicide attack on Quetta's Bethel Memorial Methodist Church

Dawn.com | Syed Ali ShahUpdated December 17, 2017

At least eight people were killed and 16 injured in a suicide attack on the Bethel Memorial Methodist Church on Quetta's Zarghoon Road on Sunday afternoon.

All casualties were shifted to Civil Hospital Quetta. Hospital sources initially said they had received four bodies and around 20 injured, including women and children.

Four of the injured later passed away while receiving treatment.

SarfrazBugti

@PakSarfrazbugti

By the grace of Almighty, 02 Suicide Bombers stopped on entrance of Church in #Quetta. LEAs took 16 mins to complete the op. CCPO & DC #Quetta along with IG Police #Balochistan lead the operation from forefront.

2:02 PM - Dec 17, 2017

SarfrazBugti

@PakSarfrazbugti

By the grace of Almighty, 02 Suicide Bombers stopped on entrance of Church in #Quetta. LEAs took 16 mins to complete the op. CCPO & DC #Quetta along with IG Police #Balochistan lead the operation from forefront.

SarfrazBugti

@PakSarfrazbugti

God Forbid, if the terrorists had succeeded in their plans more than 400 precious lives would have been at stake.

2:06 PM - Dec 17, 2017

 12 12 Replies   57 57 Retweets   131 131 likes

At least two suicide attackers had struck the Bethel Memorial Church while Sunday service was ongoing. There were 400 worshipers inside the church when it came under attack, Balochistan's Inspector General of Police (IG) Moazzam Ansari and Home Minister SarfarazBugti confirmed to DawnNews.

Police assigned to the church's security reacted in a timely manner and averted a much larger tragedy, IG Ansari claimed. Eyewitnesses and provincial lawmaker Aniqa Irfan, who had reached the church soon after the attack, corroborated the claim.

An eyewitness who was present inside the church at the time of the attack said the attackers had scuffled with the building's guard when their attempt to enter the main hall undetected failed.

When they shot the guard dead, police officials posted around the church noticed something was amiss and opened fire on the attackers.

One of the attackers was reported to have then detonated his suicide vest at the church's main door after receiving bullet injuries. Another was shot dead near the church's entrance by security forces, the police chief said.

The injuries caused to worshipers were mainly the result of wooden splinters from the door and glass blown out of the church's windows, IG Ansari maintained.

Provincial and security officials repeatedly stressed that if the attackers had managed to breach the church's doors, the death toll could have been much higher. They lauded the quick response of security forces posted to the church which prevented the attackers from causing maximum damage.

The Bethel Memorial Church has been the target of a terrorist attack in the past. Security had been beefed up for the church after the last attack, which occurred a few years ago. The church is located in the city's high-security zone.

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Hafiz Saeed wants to ‘liberate’ Kashmir to avenge Pak defeat in 1971

Agencies | Dec 17, 2017

LAHORE: The 26/11 Mumbai attack mastermind, Hafiz Saeed, wants to "liberate" Kashmir to avenge the defeat of Pakistan in the Indo-Pakistan war of 1971, which led to the creation of Bangladesh.

"We will avenge creation of Bangladesh by liberating Kashmir," he said while addressing a gathering in Lahore on Saturday.

The terrorist's remark comes as India and Bangladesh celebrated December 16 as Vijay Diwas and Victory Day, respectively.

The Jamat-ud-Dawa chief, who is a wanted terrorist by India and the US, had recently announced that he would contest the general election in Pakistan in 2018.

timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/pakistan/hafiz-saeed-wants-to-liberate-kashmir-to-avenge-pak-defeat-in-1971/articleshow/62103093.cms

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Pakistani, Afghan parliamentarians call for stronger bilateral ties

Monitoring Desk Updated December 17, 2017

KARACHI: Parliamen­tarians from Pakistan and Afghanistan have stressed the need for stronger ties between the two countries to ensure regional security.

Abdul Rauf Ibrahimi, the speaker of Wolesi Jirga or the lower house of Afghan parliament, met a Pakistani delegation in Kabul on Saturday and discussed ways to improve relations between the two countries and stability in Afghanistan.

According to a report posted on Afghanistan’s ToloNews television channel’s website, the Pakistani delegation stressed the need for strengthened ties between Kabul and Islamabad.

“Problems and challenges have to be led by our people, and we strongly believe that for a stable Pakistan, for a prosperous Pakistan, we need to see a stable and prosperous Afghanistan. This is the concern of people at home,” said MNA Shazia Marri.

The Wolesi Jirga’s speaker said Afghanistan was a victim of terrorism in the region. He criticised Pakistan for the lack of sincere cooperation in anti-terror efforts, the TV channel said.

“The required cooperation which was provided by the Pakistan nation and Pakistan government to Afghanistan during jihad, was not provided after the victory of mujahedeen,” Speaker Ibrahimi said.

One member of the Pakistani delegation reacted to Mr Ibrahimi’s remarks, and said: “No country suffered like Pakistan. We used to have more than 2,500 bombings in Pakistan and we have launched the biggest operation against terrorism and extremism in Pakistan which is like no other country. We are getting out of it and our relations on that front are improving.”

The channel did not name the Pakistani parliamentarian concerned.

The visit of the Pakistani delegation to Kabul comes as Islamabad is to host a meeting of lawmakers from Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran, China and Russia to discuss the war on terror.

Mr Ibrahimi was invited by the Pakistani delegation to attend the meeting next week in Islamabad.

Also, Geo News reported that parliamentarians from the two countries as well as defence and foreign affairs experts attended a meeting of the Pak-Afghan Joint Action Committee in Kabul on Saturday.

It said that the meeting welcomed the military cooperation between the two countries and urged the two sides to immediately start talks for mutual trade.

dawn.com/news/1377124/pakistani-afghan-parliamentarians-call-for-stronger-bilateral-ties

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South Asia

Saudi views Afghanistan as a theater in its competition with Iran: Pentagon

By KHAAMA PRESS - Sun Dec 17 2017

The United States Department of Defense or Pentagon has said the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia likely views Afghanistan as a theater in its competition with Iran.

“Afghanistan prioritizes Saudi Arabia’s religious credibility and political support over seeking material support from Saudi Arabia,” Pentagon said in its latest report.

The report further adds particularly, Afghanistan seeks greater recognition of fatwas and statements by the Grand Mufti condemning terrorists and ISIS-K as “incompatible with Islamic values.”

However, Pentagon says Saudi Arabia historically has not provided material or fiscal support to Afghanistan, despite Afghanistan’s entry into the Saudi-led Counter Terrorism Coalition. “Saudi Arabia likely views Afghanistan as a theater in its competition with Iran,” the report concludes.

In the meantime, Pentagon says “Iran and the United States share certain interests in Afghanistan such as counternarcotics. However, Iran seeks to expand its influence and limit U.S. influence and military presence, particularly in western Afghanistan.”

According to Pentagon, Iran’s desire for influence in Afghanistan remains strong. Iran seeks increased influence in Afghanistan through government partnerships, bilateral trade, and cultural and religious ties.

The report also adds that Iran provides some support to the Taliban and publicly justifies its relationship with the Taliban  as a means to combat the spread of ISIS-K in Afghanistan.

“Iran’s support to the Taliban undermines the Afghan Government’s credibility, adds to instability in the region, and complicates strategic partnership agreements,” Pentagon warns.

khaama.com/saudi-views-afghanistan-as-a-theater-in-its-competition-with-iran-pentagon-04064

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14 ISIS militants killed, wounded in latest operations in Nangarhar

By Khaama Press - Sun Dec 17 2017, 11:16 am

At least fourteen militants affiliated with the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) terrorist group were killed or wounded during the latest operations in eastern Nangarhar province of Afghanistan.

The provincial government media office in a statement said the Afghan security forces conducted counter-terrorism operations against the terror group in Khogyani and Haska Mina districts in the past 24 hours.

The statement further added that the operations were conducted with the air support and as a result at least nine IS militants were killed and five others were wounded.

At least seven of the militants were killed in Khogyani district and five others were wounded while two others were killed in Haska Mina district.

According to Nangarhar provincial government, the militants were killed during the operations of Silab-4 operations.

The anti-government armed militant groups including the ISIS militants have not commented regarding the report so far.

This comes as the US drones targeted Tajikistan nationals fighting for the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) terrorist group in this province on Saturday.

The provincial government media office in a statement said the airstrike was carried out at around noon time today in Haska Mina district.

According to the Nangarhar provincial government, the local residents and security personnel did not suffer any casualties in the airstrike.

khaama.com/14-isis-militants-killed-wounded-in-latest-operations-in-nangarhar-04061

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Taliban kill 11 Afghan police in attack on checkpoints

AP | Dec 17, 2017

KABUL: Taliban insurgents attacked checkpoints in the southern Helmand province early Sunday, killing 11 police, an official said.

Omar Zwak, the spokesperson for the provincial governor, said Afghan forces eventually repelled the attack in the provincial capital, Lashkar Gah. He said the insurgents also suffered casualties, without providing figures.

The Taliban, who have a strong and growing presence in Helmand, claimed the attack. The insurgents launch near-daily attacks across the country, mainly targeting security forces.

In the southern Kandahar province, a suicide car bomber attacked a convoy of foreign forces, killing an Afghan woman and wounding five other civilian bystanders, said Gen. Abdul Raziq, the Kandahar police chief. He said he did not know if any foreign forces were killed or wounded.

A spokesperson for the coalition said he was not immediately able to confirm reports of the attack.

timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/south-asia/taliban-kill-11-afghan-police-in-attack-on-checkpoints/articleshow/62106178.cms

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Ghani issues new orders to act against terror groups in Nangarhar

By Khaama Press - Sun Dec 17 2017, 10:34 am

President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani has instructed the Ministry of Defense (MoD) to take strict measures against the terror groups in eastern Nangarahr province of Afghanistan.

The provincial government media office in Nangarhar in a statement said President Ghani in his meeting with the elders of Khogyani district has said that the ministry of defense has been instructed to clear Khogyani and all other parts of Nangarhar from the presence of ISIS militants.

The latest instruction by President Ghani to the ministry of defense to act against the terror groups has been issued amid ongoing operations in the restive districts of Nangarhar.

Nangarhar has been among the relatively calm provinces in eastern Afghanistan but the anti-government armed militant groups including the ISIS loyalists have been attempting to expand their foothold in this province during the recent years.

In the meantime, the Nangarhar provincial government said President Ghani also discussed the government’s other plans regarding the implementation of the development projects for Nangarhar.

He said the Kabul-Jalalabad highway will be properly constructed and the electricity shortage issues in Nangarhar, Laghman, Kunar, Logar, Paktia, and Khost provinces will be resolved with the completion of the 1000 mega watt electricity project.

President Ghani further added that the government also plans to build a solar power plant in Nangarhar to produce 20 mega watts of electricity for the residents of the province.

In other parts of his speech, President Ghani said the Citizens’ Charter Program has also been instructed to include Khogyani district in its programs for the implementation of the development projects.

khaama.com/ghani-issues-new-orders-to-act-against-terror-groups-in-nangarhar-04060

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Afghan forces receive HIMARS support during the counter-terrorism operations

By KHAAMA PRESS - Sun Dec 17 2017

The US military officials in Afghanistan are saying that the Afghan national defense and security forces receive High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) support from the US forces during the counter-terrorism operations.

U.S. Marine Staff Sgt. Ryan Crider, the Task Force Southwest HIMARS launch chief has said “Our mission is to have all-weather, 24-hour artillery support capability. Since HIMARS is the only weapon system that can do this, it provides fire support for any ANDSF personnel who need it.”

Since their arrival, the Marines operating the HIMARS have executed more than ten missions in support of Afghan forces, helping them kill enemy fighters, destroy Taliban IED manufacturing and drug processing facilities, and enhance security for the Helmand populace, according to a report by Sgt. Lucas Hopkins in Resolute Support Headquarters.

The report further adds that since their arrival, the Marines operating the HIMARS have executed more than ten missions in support of Afghan forces, helping them kill enemy fighters, destroy Taliban IED manufacturing and drug processing facilities, and enhance security for the Helmand populace.

“HIMARS is capable of ranges of out to 300 kilometers. It’s a highly mobile system that is very adaptable to any condition, and it provides [commanders] with… surface-to-surface all-weather fires in order to support our partners on the ground,” said U.S. Marine Capt. Justin Noone, the officer-in-charge of the HIMARS detachment.

According to the report, Helmand-based ANDSF relied solely on coalition and Afghan air assets to deliver explosives onto enemy locations during their operations prior to HIMARS arriving. By using GPS technology, HIMARS delivers highly-explosive rounds across the battlespace with precision, while also giving an alternative to air-to-ground fires capabilities.

“It’s allowed Task Force Southwest to shape the battlefield,” said Noone. “The Taliban used to be able to predict the targeting cycle, and with this artillery weapon system being surface-to-surface and firing in a different manner, it still brings a very lethal package and prevents the enemy from knowing our routine.”

This come as operations are underway in southern Helmand province of Afghanistan with main focus being the elimination of the financial sources of the Taliban group.

The U.S. Air Force Brigadier General Lance Bunch said last week that the Taliban group will face a very long winter as operations involving air campaign is underway against the group mainly focusing on financial resources of the group.

“Since the beginning of this campaign, we have eliminated 25 narcotics processing labs from the Taliban inventory.  This equates to almost $80 million of drug money eliminated from the kingpins’ pockets, while denying over $16 million of direct revenue to their Taliban partners,” he told reporters in Pentagon via teleconference from Kabul.

khaama.com/afghan-forces-receive-himars-support-during-the-counter-terrorism-operations-04067

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Explosion in Mazar-e-Sharif city leaves 3 dead, wounded

By KHAAMA PRESS - Sun Dec 17 2017

An explosion took place in Mazar--Sharif city in northern Balkh province of Afghanistan close to noon time today, leaving at least three people dead or wounded.

A security official confirmed the incident took place due to a magnetic bomb explosion at around 11 am local time.

The source further added that a magnetic bomb planted in a Hilux type vehicle went off close to Noor roundabout, leaving one dead and two others wounded.

No further details were given regarding the identities of those killed in the explosion and it is yet not clear if the victims had any links with the government or security institutions.

No individual or group has so far claimed responsibility behind the incident.

Balkh is among the relatively calm provinces in northern parts of Afghanistan where insurgency related incidents are reported.

However, the anti-government armed militants have stepped up their efforts to destabilize some parts of the province, specifically attempting to expand their insurgency in some remote districts of the province.

khaama.com/explosion-in-mazar-e-sharif-city-leaves-3-dead-wounded-04063

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Mideast

Hezbollah: Israel Fears Stone-Throwing Palestinian Children More than Arab Leaders

 

TEHRAN (FNA)- A senior member of Hezbollah resistance group blasted the Arab countries for their weak position against the Zionist regime's policies, stressing that the stone-throwing Palestinian children are more frightening to the Israelis than Arab leaders.

"The stone-throwing Palestinian children are more influential than all Islamic and Arab conferences and the Zionist regime fears them more than the Arab leaders," Sheikh Nabil Farouk, a member of Hezbollah's Central Council, said on Saturday.

He said that Israel is aware that Saudi Arabia's weapons are no threat to the regime as they point to other Arabs and Muslims in Yemen, Iran, Syria and the resistance front, adding, "The Zionist regime does not fear Saudi Arabia but it fears the resistance in Lebanon and Palestine."

Farouk underscored that Hezbollah will spare no efforts to support the resistance in Palestine.

His remarks came after results of a recent poll in the West Bank showed that an overwhelming majority of the Palestinian people distrust Saudi Arabia and nearly half of them believe in armed resistance as the best response to the US recognition of al-Quds as Israel's capital.

The poll recently conducted by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research (PSR) showed that 75% of Palestinians don’t trust the UAE to play a role in creating a buffer zone between Israel and Palestine, the Arabic-language al-Watan newspaper reported on Wednesday.

Also results of the poll indicated that 82% of the Palestinian people distrust Saudi Arabia and 70% distrust Egypt.

Also, 45% of respondents believed that armed resistance is the best response to US President Donald Trump's recognition of Jerusalem al-Quds as the Israeli capital and 70% want Mahmoud Abbas to resign.

Observers believe that the poll shows views of residents of the West Bank which has more population and covers a larger area compared with other Palestinian-populated areas.

According to the poll, 76% of the respondents think that the Palestinian issue is not the first issue for the Arab world.

en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13960925001708

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Israeli Regime Uses Unknown Gas Bombs Against Palestinians

Sun Dec 17, 2017 11:35

The ministry announced that the Israeli occupation forces use unknown gas bombs which caused cases of stress, convulsion, vomiting, coughing and rapid heartbeat among the Palestinian civilians, Alwaght reported.

The ministry urged concerned parties to identify this new lethal weapon being used by Israeli regime forces against Palestinians.

The Israeli regime forces use brutal and excessive force against the civilians and the rescue teams as well as the medics, according to the Palestinian ministry which called for denouncing the racist actions of the Israeli authorities.

US President Donald Trump announced last Wednesday that Washington would be recognizing Jerusalem al-Quds as Israel’s capital and ordered that work on the relocation of the American embassy from Tel Aviv to al-Quds begin.

The move was hailed by Israel but condemned by the rest of the international community as one which undermines the peace talks.

Washington’s al-Quds move has raised a chorus of outcry across the international community. The Muslim world, the UN, world leaders from Europe to the Middle East to Australia, and even US allies in the West have criticized the bid, saying it would plunge the already tumultuous region into new upheaval.

Heavy clashes also broke out between Israeli troops and Palestinian protesters after Washington's decision in Jerusalem al-Qud's Old City, Hebron (al-Khalil), Bethlehem and Nablus in the West Bank as well as the besieged Gaza Strip.

According to reports, thousands of Palestinians were wounded by Israeli army's fire during protests against the US decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, while hundreds more were detained by Israeli forces and police. Also, the clashes between Palestinians and Israeli soldiers left ten dead.

People in different countries have also hit the streets to denounce Trump's recognition of Jerusalem al-Quds as Israel’s capital.

The Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), in a statement issued following an extraordinary summit in Turkey's Istanbul on Wednesday, declared East Jerusalem the capital of Palestine "under occupation" and urged the US to withdraw from the peace process and back down from its Jerusalem decision.

en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13960926000563

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Thousands March in Funeral of Wheelchair-Bound Palestinian Activist Killed by Israeli Forces in Gaza

Sun Dec 17, 2017

Abu Thurayah was a well-known Palestinian activists, famously known for consistently protesting the Israeli occupation, despite losing both his leds in an Israeli airstrike in 2008. After he was disabled by Israeli in 2008, he worked washing cars in Gaza to support his 11-member family, Ma'an News Agency reported.

Tributes to Abu Thurayah popped up across social media after his death, as Palestinians widely circulated a video of him calling on everyone to protest against US President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, just days before he was killed.

Following his funeral on Saturday, Abu Thurayah’s mother announced that he “had always been brave facing the occupation, even after he lost both of his legs, he would go raise the Palestinian flag on the borders.”

According to Gaza’s health ministry, Abu Thurayah was shot dead East of Gaza City on Friday. He lost his legs in an Israeli attack on Al-Bureij refugee camp in central Gaza.

“He was injured in 2008 by an Israeli helicopter that targeted him after he brought down the Israeli flag and raised the Palestinian flag along the border,” his brother Samir said, adding that “It did not stop him from demonstrating for Jerusalem. He went alone every day to the border.”

Social media have been flooded with videos and photos of Abu Thurayah a few hours before his death, sitting in his wheelchair and waving a Palestinian flag.

“This land is our land, we will not give up. America has to withdraw its decision,” Abu Thurayah reportedly said in a video.

Thousands of Palestinians took to the streets on Friday in continued protest of US President Donald Trump's announcement last week recognizing Jerusalem, causing clashes with Israeli forces to erupt across the occupied West Bank, East Jerusalem and besieged Gaza Strip.

US President announced last Wednesday that Washington would be recognizing Jerusalem al-Quds as Israel’s capital, stressing that the United States would relocate the embassy in the occupied lands from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem al-Quds.

The move was hailed by Israel but condemned by the rest of the international community as one which undermines the peace talks.

Wahington’s al-Quds move has raised a chorus of outcry across the international community. The Muslim world, the UN, world leaders from Europe to the Middle East to Australia, and even US allies in the West have criticized the bid, saying it would plunge the already tumultuous region into new upheaval.

Heavy clashes also broke out between Israeli troops and Palestinian protesters after Washington's decision in Jerusalem al-Qud's Old City, Hebron (al-Khalil), Bethlehem and Nablus in the West Bank as well as the besieged Gaza Strip.

According to reports, thousands of Palestinians were wounded by Israeli army's fire during protests against the US decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, while hundreds more were detained by Israeli forces and police. Also, the clashes between Palestinians and Israeli soldiers left ten dead.

People in different countries have also hit the streets to denounce Trump's recognition of Jerusalem al-Quds as Israel’s capital.

The Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), in a statement issued following an extraordinary summit in Turkey's Istanbul on Wednesday, declared East Jerusalem the capital of Palestine "under occupation" and urged the US to withdraw from the peace process and back down from its Jerusalem decision.

en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13960926000908

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Ankara's Anti-SDF Operation Imminent after Turkish Forces Open New Passageway at Border with Syria

Sun Dec 17, 2017 12:16

Hawar news reported that the Turkish Army entered the small town of Bailya in Afrin Canton and opened a corridor for Ankara troops to possibly invade this rural region in Northern Syria.

It went on to say that the army opened the new passageway to ease traffic of its military vehicles and equipment to deploy them in the border region near farms in Baliya.

The Turkish army set up a passageway near the village of Mulla Khalil in Jandarisy region last year.

The Turkish army also established another passageway near the village of Shilta'ati in Shera region earlier this year.

The Turkish forces set up five monitoring towers to watch the region, targeting anybody who tries to approach the borders.

Since August, the Turkish Army has been building up their forces around the Afrin Canton, sending a large number of military personnel and armored vehicles to the region.

A Turkish media outlet reported on Wednesday that Russian President Vladimir Putin's order to the Russian forces to withdraw paved the way for the Turkish Forces to kick off an imminent military operation in Afrin region in Northwestern Aleppo.

The Turkish-language YeniSafak said Putin's sudden decision to pull out Russian forces from across Syria destabilized power balance in the country, specially in the town of Afrin that had been under Kurdish forces' control since 2102, adding that almost 300 Russian army men were in Afrin and their withdrawal will end in imminent Turkish military invasion.

The paper went on to say that Russia provided support for the Syrian government forces in the last two years via deploying 7,000 soldiers in Homs, Tartus, Tadmur (Palmyra) Aleppo, Afrin and Lattakia and 50 fighter jets, 80 helicopters, over 80 tanks, tens of armored vehicles and hundreds of cannons across the battlefields and bases in the war-hit country.

YaniSafak said that the Russian forces' withdrawal from Afrin would be the last stage the Turkish forces had in mind before capturing Afrin.

Putin ordered the Russian troops' withdrawal from Syria, saying that Russian forces return from Syria with victory. "I instruct the defense minister, the head of the General Staff to begin the withdrawal of the Russian group of troops to the places of their permanent location," Putin said, when speaking to servicemen in Syria.

Putin emphasized that if terrorists gain upper hand in Syria, Russia would carry out strikes that "they've never seen."

Putin was met by Syrian President Bashar Assad and Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, when he arrived at the Humeimim base in the Lattakia province for the first time since the launch of anti-terrorist operation in the Arab Republic at the request of Damascus in 2015. 

Ankara said late November that it could expand its military mission in Syria to two other provinces, potentially bringing its forces into confrontation with US-backed Kurdish fighters, the Turkish National Security Council announced in a statement.

The statement said that Ankara is about to expand it monitoring centers in regions close to the town of Afrin in Aleppo province that is under the control of the SDF.

“It’s been considered that the observation mission of the Turkish armed forces in the Idlib de-escalation zone continues successfully, and such a mission being performed near Western Aleppo and Afrin would provide a real environment of peace and safety,” the statement added.

Turkish President RecepTayyip Erdogan had stressed that Ankara needed to clear the Afrin region of Northwest Syria of Kurds as the military operation in Idlib province is largely complete.

en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13960926000533

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Iran joins ‘Association of Tax Authorities of Islamic Countries ‘

News ID: 4174120 - Sun 17 December 2017 - 09:39

TEHRAN, Dec. 17 (MNA) – Iranian president has submitted the membership act of the Islamic Republic of Iran in the Association of Tax Authorities of Islamic Countries to the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Finance.

Rouhani's submitted order to the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Finance reads that this membership is in accordance with the implementation of Article 123 of the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Iran.

The single article of the same article allows the government to join the Association of Tax Authorities of Islamic Countries according to the attached statute and acts to pay the membership fee. The government has charge of determining the party to the Association.

en.mehrnews.com/news/130309/Iran-joins-Association-of-Tax-Authorities-of-Islamic-Countries

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Palestinian billionaire released by Saudis, to leave country soon: Sources

Reuters | Dec 17, 2017

AMMAN: Jordan's most influential businessman, the Palestinian billionaire Sabih al-Masri, returned to his home in Riydah after being detained by Saudi authorities and is expected to be allowed to leave the country soon, sources close to the family said on Sunday.

Masri's detention, which follows the biggest purge of the Saudi kingdom's affluent elite in its modern history, has sent shockwaves through business circles in Jordan and the Palestinian territories, where the billionaire has major investments.

A Saudi citizen of Palestinian origin, Masri is also the chairman of Amman-based Arab Bank, one of the Middle East's largest financial institutions. He was detained last Tuesday hours before he was planning to leave after he chaired meetings of companies he owns, sources said.

timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/middle-east/palestinian-billionaire-released-by-saudis-to-leave-country-soon-sources/articleshow/62104430.cms

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IRGC Commander: US Decision on Quds to Accelerate Zionist Regime's Collapse

 

TEHRAN (FNA)- Commander of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) Aerospace Force Brigadier General Amir Ali Hajizadeh blasted US President Donald Trump for his decision to recognize Jerusalem al-Quds as Israel's capital, but meantime said the move will speed up the Zionist regime's collapse.

"What Trump did was a nail in the coffin of the Zionist regime. No doubt this measure will accelerate the Zionist regime's collapse," Hajizadeh was quoted as saying by the Iranian media on Sunday.

He said that the Americans thought this measure can save them from the quagmire created by the Zionist regime for Washington, adding that it has instead sped up the regime's collapse.

In relevant remarks last Tuesday, Iranian Defense Minister Brigadier General Amir Hatami blasted the recent decision by Trump to relocate Washington's embassy from Tel Aviv to al-Quds (Jerusalem), and said that Israel's destruction is imminent.

"Trump’s Jerusalem move will speed up Israel's destruction and unite Muslims," Brigadier General Hatami said.

He reiterated that last week’s decision by the US president to recognize al-Quds as the Israeli capital is bound to backfire and hastening the demise of Tel Aviv's regime.

"Should the conflict break out in the region, Washington will have to bear responsibility," the Iranian Defense Minister added.

Brigadier General Hatami said that Washington's anti-security decision which has drawn widespread condemnation from Muslim nations and the international community is ratcheting up tensions in the region.

"The occupying regime of Israel knows the illegitimate actions of the US government will bring no change to Al-Quds [Jerusalem] as the Palestinian people and the freedom-loving people of the world will become more determined than ever to become united and stand up for liberation of Jerusalem and the land of Palestine,” the Iranian defense minister said.

en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13960926000384

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North America

Will take unilateral steps in areas of divergence with Pakistan: US

PTI | Dec 16, 2017

WASHINGTON: The US will take "unilateral steps in areas of divergence" with Pakistan in its fight against terrorism, the Pentagon on Saturday told Congress and insisted that there must be "fundamental change" in the way Islamabad deals with terrorist safe havens on its territory.

In its first report on Afghanistan to Congress after President Donald Trump announced his new Afghan and South Asia strategy, the Pentagon said it will be a part of a whole-of- government, regional strategy to isolate the Taliban from "sources of external support" and to mitigate any malign influence from outside actors.

"Our military-to-military relationship with Pakistan remains critical to the success of our mutual interests in the region," said the semiannual report titled 'Enhancing Security and Stability in Afghanistan' that covers events during the period from June 1 to November 30 this year.

"To move forward, we must see fundamental changes in the way Pakistan deals with terrorist safe-havens in its territory," the report said.

"To induce that change, we will work across the US government, using a range of tools to expand our cooperation with Pakistan in areas where our interests converge and to take unilateral steps in areas of divergence," it said.

The Af-Pak border region remains a sanctuary for various groups, including al-Qaida, al-Qaida in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS), the Haqqani Network, Lashkar-e-Taiba, Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), ISIS-K, and the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, it said.

"Sanctuary on the Pakistani side and presence on the Afghan side remain security challenges for both countries and pose a threat to regional security and stability," the department of defence said.

Although Pakistani military operations have disrupted some militant sanctuaries, certain extremist groups - such as the Taliban and the Haqqani Network - retain freedom of movement in Pakistan, it said.

"The United States continues to convey to all levels of Pakistani leadership the importance of taking action against all terrorist and extremist groups," the Pentagon said.

Increased collaboration between Afghanistan and Pakistan is critical to maintaining pressure on militant and terrorist groups and for meeting the enduring security requirements on both sides of the shared border, it said.

"The trust deficit resulting from Pakistan's support of and inaction against Afghan-oriented extremists, and Pakistan's concerns about terrorist attacks launched from Afghanistan, hampers the bilateral military collaboration required to achieve enduring security," the Pentagon said.

According to the report, the hard-won gains in Afghanistan remain fragile, but are worth defending.

Under the new strategy, US diplomatic, military, and economic resources are aligned in support of a negotiated settlement to this long-running war.

"We have recommitted to helping the Afghan government and people navigate through these challenges with a new approach that leverages additional support from allies, partners, and regional actors," it said.

"Our commitment is enduring but not unlimited, our support is not a blank check. As long as the Afghan government continues to show real progress and make real reforms, we will continue to support them as our strategic partners in the fight against international terrorism," the report said.

"The Taliban cannot win on the battlefield. They must know that their only path to peace and political legitimacy is through a negotiated settlement with the Afghan government," it asserted.

timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/pakistan/will-take-unilateral-steps-in-areas-of-divergence-with-pakistan-us/articleshow/62096525.cms

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No military offensive against Iran, says Mattis

Anwar Iqbal Updated December 17, 2017

WASHINGTON: The United States has said that while it will continue to expose Iran’s activities in the Middle East, it has no plan to launch a military offensive to counter those activities.

“Not militarily right now, no,” US Defence Secretary James Mattis said at an impromptu news conference at the Pentagon on Friday afternoon when asked if Washington could respond to those activities militarily.

On Thursday, US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley launched a media offensive against Iran, highlighting its alleged subversive activities in the Middle East and its illegal arms programme.

Ambassador Haley stood in front of an Iranian missile that the Houthi rebels allegedly fired at Riyadh International Airport in Saudi Arabia. The missile didn’t hit the airport, but she said that if it had, the missile potentially could have killed hundreds of innocent civilians.

Referring to the decision to use a US military ­— Anacostia-Bolling — for Ambassador Haley’s briefing, a journalist asked Secretary Mattis if this’s a back-up for a future a military action against Iran.

“No, the reason Ambassador Haley was there, and not one of our generals, is this is a diplomatically led effort to expose to the world what Iran is up to,” he said.

Secretary Mattis claimed that Ambassador Haley also shared with the media physical evidence to support her claim Iran is providing ballistic missiles to the Houthis.

“What we are doing in that region,” he added, “is standing by allies and partners, and we’re on one hand exposing, on the other hand helping them build their own capability to reject Iranian influence.”

In addition to its support the Houthis in Yemen, Iran was supporting similar non-state actors in other parts of the Middle East, the US defence secretary said.

“We find Iran actively engaged in keeping [Syrian President Bashar] Assad in power, des­pite the murder of his own people on the industrial scale, including the use of chemical weapons,” Mr Mattis said. “We see what [Iran has] done with Lebanese Hezbollah in Lebanon and the threat to peace and the support they’ve giv­en to Assad and the threat to Israel, for example.”

Depicting Iran as the source of all troubles in the Middle East, he said: “Everywhere you find turmoil, you find Iran’s hand in it.”

The Trump administration is also trying to undo a 2015 nuclear deal with Iran with claims that Tehran is violating the agreement while the United States and other Western nations have kept their part of the pledge by relaxing economic and diplomatic sanctions on the Islamic Republic.

But on Friday, both Japan and Russia, which is also one of the parties to the deal, refused to endorse the US claim.

Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono told reporters at the UN headquarters in New York that Japan continues to support the 2015 nuclear agreement with Iran, also known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). “So far we have not confirmed any violation (of the deal) by Iran,” he added.

In Moscow, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said at the Russian parliament on Friday that a possible breakdown of the nuclear deal would send a wrong signal and complicate efforts to persuade North Korea to stop testing nuclear weapons.

China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States signed the deal with Iran in July 2015, promising to lift US and EU economic sanctions on Tehran. In effect since January 2016, the deal stipulates the gradual lifting of the economic and diplomatic sanctions on Iran in exchange for assurances that Tehran will give up efforts to make a nuclear weapon.

dawn.com/news/1377145/no-military-offensive-against-iran-says-mattis

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Afghanistan a tough place but US forces are winning: President Trump

By Khaama Press - Sat Dec 16 2017, 5:19 pm

The US President Donald Trump is optimistic regarding the US-led campaign against the terror groups in Afghanistan as he admits that Afghanistan is a tough place to win.

In his speech to Marine Helicopter squadron One, President Trump said “You know, we’ve made tremendous success and had tremendous success now with getting rid of ISIS in Iraq and Syria.  I let them do their job.  You don’t have to call the White House when you’re getting ready to fight.  You know, in the old times — the last administration — you called the White House and you get approval.  Not anymore.  Not anymore.”

“So they went out; they’ve done their job.  I hear we’re doing really good in Afghanistan.  You saw that.  I let them do their job.  And I let the colonels and the majors and the all of them — the captains — that’s what they do.  They graduate, they’re smart, they’re tough, and they do their job.  They don’t have to call me to get approval to go into battle with people in places that most people never heard of, but they’re very important,” he added.

He also added “But we’ve made tremendous progress in Afghanistan, which is tough, because history has proven Afghanistan is a tough place to win.  But we’re winning.  We just started winning.”

This comes as President Trump announced his administration’s policy for South Asia late in August this year as he emphasized on continued US mission in Afghanistan.

President Trump warned that the consequences of a rapid exit are both predictable and unacceptable.  “9/11, the worst terrorist attack in our history, was planned and directed from Afghanistan because that country was ruled by a government that gave comfort and shelter to terrorists.  A hasty withdrawal would create a vacuum that terrorists, including ISIS and al Qaeda, would instantly fill, just as happened before September 11th,” he added.

President Trump also added “I concluded that the security threats we face in Afghanistan and the broader region are immense.  Today, 20 U.S.-designated foreign terrorist organizations are active in Afghanistan and Pakistan — the highest concentration in any region anywhere in the world.”

khaama.com/afghanistan-a-tough-place-but-us-forces-are-winning-president-trump-04058

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US Forces Preventing Dispatch of Humanitarian Cargos to Refugee Camp at Syria-Jordan Border

Sun Dec 17, 2017 12:31

The Russian Center reported that the US forces deployed in al-Tanf region do not allow the humanitarian convoys to go to the al-Rukban refugee camp, adding that the camp is in critical situation due to a lack of food stuff and medicine.

It further said that the US forces' imposed restrictions in al-Tanf region which is home to the US-run al-Tanf base have pushed humanitarian condition in al-Rukban camp into crisis, adding that the center is trying hard to find other ways to send the aid convoys to the camp.

Head of the Russian center Sergei Kuralenko said during a news briefing last month that the US banned anyone from coming within 55 kilometers of its military base in al-Tanf, in Southeastern Homs, depriving more than 50,000 refugees in the al-Rukban camp, which is located in close proximity to the base, from getting humanitarian assistance.

Kuralenko added that despite the consultations held earlier, the American side has still not provided access to the al-Rukban camp for humanitarian agencies.

Earlier the US expressed its willingness to allow humanitarian assistance deliveries but noted that it was the Syrian government who had impeded these efforts.  

en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13960926000797

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Southeast Asia

Indonesian Muslim clerics leading tens of thousands of anti-Trump protesters over Jerusalem

December 17, 2017

Indonesian capital Jakarta witnesses massive demonstrations, during which calls for boycott of American and Israeli goods were made.

VASUDEVAN-SRIDHARAN ByVasudevanSridharan

Islamic clerics in Indonesia are leading tens of thousands of anti-Trump protesters in capital Jakarta over the US decision to recognise Jerusalem as the Israeli capital. Scores of protesters were marching from the main mosque in the Indonesian capital on Sunday, 17 December, in what has been billed as the biggest upheaval anywhere against President Donald Trump's controversial decision.

An estimated 80,000 demonstrators, with many wearing white robes and waving Palestinian flags, took part in the rally at the National Monument (Monas) in central Jakarta. Several of them were carrying banners which read "Indonesia unites for Palestine" in the rally organised by the country's Muslim clerical body.

This was the fourth such rally in Indonesia, which has the world's largest Muslim population, since Trump's announcement in early December.

Heavy police presence was seen at the American diplomatic mission, which is located just 100m from the rally site, to prevent any untoward incident. No violence has been reported so far. More than 20,000 security forces are thought to have been deployed across Jakarta as part of emergency measures.

"We urge all countries to reject the unilateral and illegal decision of President Donald Trump to make Jerusalem Israel's capital," Anwar Abbas, secretary general of the influential Indonesian Ulema Council, told the rally.

He also called on Indonesian Muslims to boycott Israeli and American products until Trump revokes Washington's decision on Jerusalem. This is not the first time such a call has been made.

"Isn't it the government's job to work on the aspiration of the majority of Indonesians? And the government has tried its best so Palestine can achieve its rights and independence," Religious Affairs Minister Lukman Hakim Saifuddin told the rallying crowd.

Indonesia, which does not have diplomatic ties with Israel, had officially condemned the US move with President Joko Widodo saying the decision was in violation of UN regulations.

"We want Palestine to be freed. We support them. We demand world leaders including Jokowi not only to condemn but prepare peace troops to ensure things are fixed," a 30-year-old protester Lukman Abdul Jabar told the Strait Times.

Trump's 6 December announcement on Jerusalem, an ancient city which is at the centre of the Israel-Palestine conflict, has been attracting strong reactions from across the world, particularly Muslim-majority nations.

ibtimes.co.uk/indonesian-muslim-clerics-leading-tens-thousands-anti-trump-protesters-over-jerusalem-1651867

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Decision to cancel Imams not politically-driven, says DPM

By ARNAZ M. KHAIRUL | December 17, 2017

KUALA LUMPUR: The government's decision to cancel the short-lived Integrated Manasik Monitoring System (Imams) on Saturday was not politically-driven, Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said on Sunday.

Zahid said that the Cabinet had backed the decision, and as chairman of the Cabinet committee on tourism, he himself had noticed several flaws with the programme.

"The decision (to rescind Imams) was based on complaints, and after chairing the meeting (in which the decision was made), Deputy Tourism and Culture Minister (Datuk Seri Mas ErmiyatiSamsudin) had to announce its cancellation," said Zahid.

He said he met with Tourism and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz on Sunday morning to discuss options to replace Imams, which would provide reassurance to prospective umrah pilgrims who have been unsettled by cases of unscrupulous agents who manipulated the existing system to cheat pilgrims.

"When you see that the chief executive officer of the programme is someone who has never undertaken the umrah, you know something is wrong somewhere," said Zahid, in reference to a non-Muslim being appointed the head of Imams.

Imam was launched on Friday as a means to curb umrah package fraud, with the ministry warning the 65 agencies offering such packages that action would be taken against them should they fail to comply.

But the announcement was immediately met with a public outcry when it was revealed that overall charges would increase to RM90.10 per pilgrim.

The added cost comprised a RM45 charge for the Imams service, a RM40 comprehensive insurance package, and goods and services tax (GST).

Zahid strongly denied allegations by certain quarters that the entire affair was a political gimmick to gain public support ahead of the general elections.

"The decision to implement Imams was one made by the Cabinet. But some things went amiss in its implementation, so the government acted quickly to call it off," he said.

nst.com.my/news/nation/2017/12/315419/decision-cancel-imams-not-politically-driven-says-dpm

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Nazri: Imams different from what I briefed Cabinet

Sunday, 17 Dec 2017

PETALING JAYA: The abrupt cancellation of the Integrated Manasik Monitoring System (Imams) for umrah visa applications has nothing to do with non-Muslim executives running the system, said Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz.

The Tourism and Culture Minister said the actual reason behind the cancellation was because the system's implementation differed from what he was told and reported to the Cabinet.

The system, which aimed to address fraud in umrah packages, was cancelled on Saturday (Dec 16) within 24 hours of its launch.

"No, nothing to do with that," Nazri said in a text message to The Star to a question if the cancellation was due to non-Muslim executives running the system.

He said that even if the system was conducted by the non-Muslims, the umrah process would not be jeopardised.

"There is no policy against non-Muslims (being in charge) because umrah would not be affected if a non-Muslim manages it," said Nazri, who is in Germany on a working visit.

Nazri had reportedly said the ministry decided to cancel Imams as he did not agree with the fee imposed - RM90 instead of RM40.

The Imams was meant to be the only avenue for umrah visa applications to the Saudi Arabian Embassy in Malaysia.

Concerns had been previously been raised over the system, including the imposition of certain charges perceived to be additional costs for performing the umrah.

It was also said that the decision was made following concerns that Imams SdnBhd had a non-Muslim chief operating officer.

thestar.com.my/news/nation/2017/12/17/nazri-aziz-imams-cancelled-over-implementation/#3M3O1fHMHldFFLId.99

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Africa

Sultan of Sokoto wades into Hijab controversy, says Muslims are being maltreated

Posted By: BTEditoron: December 17, 2017

Sultan of Sokoto and President-General of the Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA), Dr. Mohammad Sa’adAbubakar has decried the recent controversy over Hijab.

According to him, Hijab simply means decent dressing for Muslim women and part and parcel of Islam.

The Sultan made spoke in Lagos on Saturday, December 16, during the fifth National Convention of Muslim Public Affairs Centre (MPAC) with the theme, “Public Trust and Accountaility”.

The Sultan who was represented at the event by the Wazirin of Katsina, Professor SanniAbubakarLugga, said he could not decipher why the issue of Hijab would be so controversial to the extent that female Muslims who adorn Hijab would be ‘molested’.

He spoke against the backdrop of the recent controversy over the denial of a University of Ilorin law student, Miss AmasaFirdaus from being called to bar last week for refusing to remove her Hijab worn under her wig. The Sultan said Hijab is not only a mode of dressing in Islam only but it is also an accepted mode of dressing in Christianity and Judaism.

He stressed that Muslims are peace-loving and they should be allowed to practise their religion as stipulated by Allah and as contained in the traditions of Prophet Mohammad. Professor Abubakar said: “His eminence wonders while Hijab has now become a controversial issue.

Hijab simply means decent dressing, decent dressing by the females. So why should decent dressing be a problem? The Hijab is just an Arabic word. In English it means decent dressing.

“His Eminence has asked Nigerians to reflect and see that this is not only an Islamic mode of dressing but a Christian mode of dressing. It is also a Judaism mode of dressing and it is a dressing for every decent woman. It is a dressing for any woman who wants to preserve her chastity in public.

“Secondly, in Nigerian constitution it is absolutely clear. Why should Nigerian Muslims be molested and even denied their own right? The Appeal Court ruling in Ilorin is there, the Appeal Court in Lagos and also the High Court all delivered judgement in favour of Hijab.

“Justice Alooma, the former CJN, Justice Bukalchuwa and other Senior Justices in Nigeria wear their Hijab and then the wig on top of it. The Nigeria Judicial Council (NJC), the highest body in the judiciary has not said, ‘no, they should stop’ which means the Nigerian constitution allows the Hijab, the Nigerian Courts through these three judgements have allowed the Hijab and the NJC through these senior judges has allowed the Hijab.

“Why will a legal school refuse our sister’s induction into the judiciary simply because she is wearing Hijab? Is the law school saying they are above the NJC, they are above the Nigerian constitution, they are above these three senior courts?” Meanwhile, the lady at the center of the controversy, Miss Firdaus has said she was aware of the outcome of her action, adding that she remained resolute in her conviction to speak for the recognition of rights of female Muslim law graduates.

She added that the law school has not said anything on the case, even as she acknowledged the support she has been getting from the Muslim community. “There is nothing like laws preventing the use of hijab. When you ask them too, they tell you it is convention; that that is how it is done and it has to remain like that,” she said.

thebreakingtimes.com/sultan-of-sokoto-wades-into-hijab-controversy-says-muslims-are-being-maltreated/

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Islamic Solidarity Sport Federation participates in Conference of Arab Sports Federations in Egypt

Sunday 1439/3/29 - 2017/12/17

Riyadh, 29 Rabi'I,1439 AH, 17 December,2017 , SPA -- Islamic Solidarity Sports Federation has participated in the Conference of Secretaries of Arab Sports Federations held in Alexandria, Egypt, in the presence of the Secretary General of Union of Arab National Olympic Committees Saud bin Ali Al-Abdulaziz.

The Secretary General of the Federation pointed to the challenges confronting sports in Arab and Islamic countries and the importance of unification of ranks to upgrade the sport movement to keep abreast of the rapid development in sport areas.

spa.gov.sa/viewfullstory.php?lang=en&newsid=1699237

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Boko Haram has killed more Muslims than Christians – SarafaTunji, former minister

Published on December 17, 2017 ByAmeh Comrade Godwin

AlhajiSarafaTunji, a former Secretary to Ogun State Government and Minister of Mines and Steel Development has faulted the claims in some quarters that Islam is a religion of violence.

Sarafa, the new Baba Adinni of Yorubaland insisted that more Muslims have bee killed by the Boko Haram insurgents and other terrorists than Christians.

Countering the notion that all terrorists are Muslims, the former minister told Vanguard that, “In fact, Muslims are more victims of Boko Haram than people of other religions. So, the challenge that we have in contemporary times, even across the world, is intra-religious conflicts.

“In many countries, you usually have the Sunni fighting the Shi’ites. The conflict in Syria is intra-religious. Talk of Iraq and Iran, the problem you have there is more of intra-religious conflict.

“The practice of Islam is anchored on three legs: the Qur’an, the Hadeeth and the Fiqh. Islam is knowledge driven and the knowledge is based on the Qur’an, the Hadeeth and the Fiqh but we have a situation whereby some of these things are bastardised.

“In promoting religious harmony, you have to unite the Muslim Ummah because, sometimes, intra-religious conflicts can be worse than inter-religious conflicts. A good example is the Boko Haram insurgency in which, unknown to some Nigerians, many Muslims have been killed.”

dailypost.ng/2017/12/17/boko-haram-killed-muslims-christians-sarafa-tunji-former-minister/

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Europe

Muslim Migrants Warned in Germany: Reject Anti-Semitism, Learn About the Holocaust

by Simon Kent 17 Dec 2017

Muslim refugees arriving in Germany from the Middle East have been told to abandon their anti-Semitism and prepare to learn about the Holocaust, in twin warnings issued from the highest levels of government.

German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier said inbound immigrants must reject any lingering notions of anti-Semitism on arrival, saying acceptance of followers of the Jewish faith remains a “non-negotiable” part of the social contract with their new home.

He spoke as the government announced that it was ready to consider the idea of an anti-Semitism commisioner.

“There are things which are part of Germany. And one of these is our responsibility for our past: the lessons of two World Wars, the lessons from the Holocaust, the responsibility for Israel’s security, the rejection of any form of racism and anti-Semitism,” he said at a Hanukkah event at the Israeli embassy in Berlin.

“For this responsibility, no line can be drawn under the past for later generations – and no exceptions be made for immigrants. It is non-negotiable – for all who live in Germany and want to live here!” he added.

His call follows a new study by the American Jewish Committee’s Ramer Institute for German-Jewish Relations in Berlin that revealed anti-Semitism among Muslim refugees in Germany requires urgent attention. More than a million migrants have arrived in Germany in the last three years, many of them fleeing conflict in the Middle East, causing concern that anti-Semitism could rise on the back of that influx.

“Anti-Semitic thinking and stereotyping are very common … even among those who emphasize that they ‘respect’ Judaism or that there is no problem living together between Muslims, Christians and Jews in their countries of origin and in Germany,” sociologist GüntherJikeli of Indiana University and the University of Potsdam, Germany said in a statement.

Germany’s new Muslim arrivals were also told they should learn more about the Holocaust in their integration lessons.

As Breitbart News reported, Justice Minister Heiko Maas wrote in an opinion piece for weekly magazine Der Spiegel that the Holocaust, in which the Nazis killed six million Jews, and its significance needed to become an even more important part of integration courses and migrants should be tested on in the examination at the end of their course.

Jens Spahn, a senior member of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats (CDU), told Der Spiegel he thought immigration from Muslim countries was one of the causes of recent anti-Semitic demonstrations in Berlin.

Spahn said incidents in recent days “were related to immigration from a culture in which people are not prissy about how they deal with Jews and homosexuals”.

breitbart.com/jerusalem/2017/12/17/muslim-migrants-warned-germany-reject-anti-semitism-learn-holocaust/

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Moscow: US Training New Militants to Counter Russia in Syria

Sun Dec 17, 2017 11:31

"Almost the same thing the United States was doing in 1980s during the war in Afghanistan, when they trained terrorists and incited them against the Soviet Union. It seems like the time has stopped for the United States. Today's Russia, like the Soviet Union 30 years ago, is regarded by them as the main geopolitical rival, in a fight with whom all means are acceptable," Klintsevich said, as quoted by his press service, RIA Novosti reported.

Earlier in the day, the Russian Center for reconciliation of opposing sides in Syria reported that the US instructors were training new armed groups of the New Syrian Army composed of various terrorist groups, including Daesh (ISIS or ISIL) at the refugee camp in Al-Hasakah.

At the same time, US President Donald Trump is trying to avoid most radical forms of confrontation, according the lawmaker.

"But he [Trump] is really incapable of changing the US political system. The training militants by US instructors is underway," Klintsevich added.

In the Syrian war, which has been raging for over six years, Russia is supporting the legitimate government headed by President Bashar Assad while the Western countries are insisting on his resignation and providing support for various militant groups.

en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13960926000365

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Two Danish journalists wounded in Islamist knife attack in Gabon

 

LIBREVILLE (Reuters) - An attacker wielding a knife and crying “Allahu Akbar” has wounded two Danish journalists in Gabon’s capital Libreville, the Gabonese defense minister said.

The two reporters for the National Geographic channel were in a popular market for tourist souvenirs on Saturday, when a Nigerien national living in Gabon lunged at them with the knife, Defence Minister Etienne KabindaMakaga said in a statement on Gabonese television.

After his arrest, the 53-year-old suspect, who has lived in Gabon for two decades, told authorities he was carrying out a revenge attack against America for recognizing Israel’s capital as Jerusalem, Makaga said, giving no further explanation.

“A judicial investigation was immediately opened at the public prosecutor’s office of Libreville to establish if the acts of the aggressor were isolated or a conspiracy,” Makaga said.

Oil-rich Gabon has a small Muslim population consisting mostly of foreign workers, although the precise number is not known. It is not normally considered a high risk country for jihadist violence.

(This story corrects to make clear attacker was ‘Nigerien’ from Niger, not ‘Nigerian’ from Nigeria)

reuters.com/article/us-gabon-attack/two-danish-journalists-wounded-in-islamist-knife-attack-in-gabon-idUSKBN1EB0B2

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India

ISI bid to honeytrap three Indian officials in Islamabad foiled

Sachin Parashar | TNN | Updated: Dec 17, 2017

NEW DELHI: Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) set up a honeytrap for three officials of the Indian high commission in Islamabad to extract sensitive information from them, TOI has learned. The officials, whose names are being withheld because investigations are still on, were recalled from Pakistan earlier this week after they revealed the ISI plot and are currently being questioned.

Fortunately for India, the bid was foiled as authorities here got wind of the plot before any classified document could be passed on to ISI. The recalled officials+ , as of now, are not suspected of any wrongdoing and are helping in carrying forward the investigations. It's unlikely though that they will be asked to serve in Pakistan again.

The use of a femme fatale by spy agencies to lure officials of enemy nations is a common practice all over the world but it's rare for an Indian official in Pakistan to be ensnared. In this case, too, the officials seem to have realised early on what they were being led into, after which they decided to approach senior Indian authorities for help. The officials were asked to return to Delhi immediately.

The Indian officials worked with the language section and were responsible for translation of official documents. It seems several attempts have been made in the recent past to lure junior Indian officials to local hotels by women. "The attempt even in this case was to seduce them and later film them in a compromising position," said a source familiar with the matter.

honeytrap

The government will decide in the next few days how to proceed in the matter. Indian agencies here are also trying to verify if similar attempts were made to seduce any other junior-level official of the Indian mission.

An Indian official who served in Pakistan many years ago said the use of a seductress to lure unwary officials is even more prevalent than the use of cash. "Cash is difficult to account for and will leave a trail to follow," he said.

A second secretary with the Indian high commission's press division, Madhuri Gupta, was arrested in 2010 after she allegedly fell in love with a young ISI official and passed on classified documents about India's developmental work in Afghanistan. Gupta was apparently unhappy with her service conditions, including the fact that she had been promoted to the IFS 'B' category very late in her career.

Already on a wing and a prayer, India's relationship with Pakistan may receive another jolt with these developments this week. India and Pakistan expelled several diplomats last year after a Pakistani diplomat was held in India for spying and ordered to leave. The two countries are currently finalising the modalities for a meeting between former Navy officer KulbhushanJadhav, who is in Pakistan's custody for alleged espionage, and his wife and mother. Indian officials said that even as the matter remains pending before the ICJ, they'll continue to also seek consular access to him.

timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/isi-bid-to-honeytrap-3-indian-officials-in-islamabad-foiled/articleshow/62100692.cms

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In Kashmir, India and Pakistan race to tap the Himalayas

AFP | Updated: Dec 17, 2017

MUZAFFARABAD: Several hundred metres underground, thousands of labourers grind away day and night on a mammoth hydroelectric project in contested Kashmir, where India and Pakistan are racing to tap the subcontinent's diminishing freshwater supplies.

The arch rivals have been building duelling power plants along the banks of the turquoise Neelum River for years.

The two projects, located on opposite sides of the Line of Control — the de facto border in Kashmir — are now close to completion, fuelling tensions between the neighbours with Pakistan particularly worried their downstream project will be deprived of much-needed water by India.

The Himalayan region of Kashmir is at the heart of a 70-year conflict between the nuclear-armed foes, with both sides laying claim to the conflict-riven territory.

The rivalry on the Neelum is underlined by both countries' unquenchable need for freshwater, as their surging populations and developing economies continue to stress already diminished waters tables.

This situation represents a serious challenge to Pakistan's food security and long-term growth, its central bank recently warned in a report.

The geography of the wider region only exacerbates the problem.

The Indus River — into which the waters of the Neelum ultimately flow — is one of the longest on the continent, cutting through ultra-sensitive borders in the region.

It rises in Tibet, crosses Kashmir and waters 65 per cent of Pakistan's territory, including the vast, fertile plains of Punjab province — the country's bread basket — before flowing into the Indian Ocean.

The Indus Water Treaty+ , painfully ratified in 1960 under the auspices of the World Bank, theoretically regulates water allocation between the countries and is considered a rare diplomatic success story Kishanganga power station+ is also in its final phase, but has delayed its late 2017 completion date, according to an official, in part because of ongoing unrest in the Kashmir valley.

Pakistan has filed cases at the World Bank+ against India and the Neelum dam, which it says will unfairly restrict the amount of water headed downstream.

Acoding to the plant's director NayyarAluddin, the production of electricity could shrink by 10-13 per cent because of the Indian project.

But the hydroelectric projects on the Neelum River are only one of several points of friction between the two countries as the Indus Treaty faces increasingly pressing disputes.

Beyond the technical bickering, Islamabad is especially afraid of India cutting into its precious water supplies during strategic agricultural seasons that are key to feeding the country's 207 million residents.

The possibility of hitting Pakistan's food supply is regularly amped up by both Indian and Pakistani media, stretching perennially taut relations.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi hinted at such reprisals following an attack in Kashmir's Uri by Pakistan-based terrorists in September 2016.

"Blood and water can't flow together," he said.

However, a blockade of any significant magnitude is not really technically feasible, while neither party has seriously sought to challenge the Treaty of the Indus.

"The disputes over the barrages are mostly symptoms of poor bilateral relationships," said Gareth Price, a researcher at Chatham House.

The problem is that the rival countries conceive water as a zero-sum game — if one taps the resource, it means they are lost to the other.

But Islamabad must do its part, wrote Neil Buhne, UN coordinator in Pakistan, in an op-ed calling for the country to diversify "its water resources" while reigning in inefficiencies that wastes water.

timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/pakistan/in-kashmir-india-and-pakistan-race-to-tap-the-himalayas/articleshow/62104065.cms

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Karzai meets Indian PM Narendra Modi, discuss bilateral ties

By KHAAMA PRESS - Sun Dec 17 2017

The former Afghan President Hamid Karzai has met with the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi, the capital city of India.

PM Modi in an online statement confirmed the meeting and said “Delighted to meet my friend Karzai in New Delhi.”

No further details were given regarding the meetign but the Indian officials privy of the meeting have said the two sides discussed bilateral ties between the two nations.

The officials further added that the two leaders discussed strategic bilateral ties, including India’s development assistance as well as cooperation in other key areas.

They also discussed the security situation in the war- torn country and in the region, the officials said.

India is considered as a key regional player in the reconstruction of Afghanistan having made massive investments on key infrastructure projects since the fall of the Taliban regime.

The United States Department of Defense, Pentagon, in its latest report has also said that the United States welcome additional support by the Indian government to Afghanistan, noting the country’s contribution to the reconstruction of Afghanistan.

In its latest report, Enhancing Security and Stability in Afghanistan, Pentagon said Pentagon called India as Afghanistan’s most reliable regional partner and the largest contributor of development assistance in the region.

The report further adds that this assistance includes civil development projects such as the Afghanistan-India Friendship Dam and the Afghan parliament building.

khaama.com/karzai-meets-indian-pm-narendra-modi-discuss-bilateral-ties-04066

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Arab World

The Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques receives FIFA President

Sunday 1439/3/29 - 2017/12/17

Riyadh, Rabi'I 29, 1439,December 17, 2017,SPA --The Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud received at Al-Yamamah Palace in Riyadh today the President of International Federation of Football Associations (FIFA) Gianni Infantino.

During the meeting, they reviewed the most important programs of the International Federation for the football development and the areas of cooperation between the Federation and General Sports Authority in the Kingdom.

The audience was attended by Minister of State, Member of the Council of Ministers, the Chief of the Royal Court Khalid bin Abdulrahman Al-Issa, Minister of Foreign Affairs Adel bin Ahmed Al-Jubeir, and Advisor at the Royal Court, Chairman of the Board of Directors of General Sports Authority Turki bin Abdulmohsen Al Al-Sheikh.

spa.gov.sa/viewfullstory.php?lang=en&newsid=1699206

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FM: No Permanent Base for US-Led Coalition in Iraq

 

TEHRAN (FNA)- Iraq's Foreign Minister Ibrahim al-Jafari underlined strong opposition to the establishment of any permanent base by the US-led coalition in his country.

"The international coalition has no intention to have permanent military bases in Iraq after the ISIL is defeated. The international coalition's military intervention in Iraq was meant to support the Iraqi government's war against the ISIL on the condition that it would not violate the country's sovereignty," Jafari was quoted as saying by the Arabic-language al-Watan newspaper on Saturday.

He explained that the coalition will remain in Iraq until all ISIL affiliates are uprooted in Iraq.

His remarks came after Iraqi sources revealed in August that the US army has started constructing its biggest military base in Iraq's Nineveh province in a bid to control the country's border with Syria.

"The US troops have kicked off the construction operations of the largest military base near the village of Kahriz in Zamar region West of the Tigris River in Nineveh province," Official Spokesman for Arab Tribes Group Mozahem al-Havit said.

He reiterated that the US also plans to construct four more military bases in other parts of Nineveh province, and said, "The US forces' mission in Western Mosul will be monitoring Iraq-Syria border from the West of Sinjar region to al-Qaem."

en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13960925001614

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Russian, Syrian Fighter Jets Hit Terrorists Positions in Idlib Province

Sun Dec 17, 2017 11:29

The military positions of the Al-Nusra Front (Tahrir al-Sham Hay'at or the Levant Liberation Board) came under massive attacks of the Russian and Syrian fighter jets.

Meantime, the Syrian army continued its military advances in other parts of Syria, including Damascus and Hama, over past 24 hours.

Idlib

The Syrian and Russian fighter jets staged a heavy bombing raid on the strongholds of the Al-Nusra Front in Northern Syria on Saturday to pave the ground for the liberation of the province by an imminent assault by ground troops.

The warplanes carried out tens of combat sorties over Al-Nusra's positions and command centers in the provinces of Aleppo, Hama and Idlib, destroying a number of positions and inflicting an unspecified number of casualties on the militants.

The army is planning to destroy the Al-Nusra positions in Northeastern Hama, Southeastern Aleppo and Southern Idlib in line with an imminent large-scale operation of the pro-government forces to liberate Idlib.

Military sources confirmed earlier on Saturday that the Syrian Army troops pushed Al-Nusra back from another strategic region in their operation in Northeastern Hama and SoutheasternIdlib.

The army units exchanged heavy fire with Al-Nusra in al-Shakousiyeh and al-Rahjan region in Northeastern Hama and in Abu Dali and al-Moshayrafeh in SoutheasternIdlib.

Also, the Syrian Air Force and the army's artillery and missile units pounded Al-Nusra's positions in the region, the sources reported, adding that the army men further seized control over al-Zahra Farms Northwest of the town of al-Zaferiyeh in SoutheasternIdlib.

Meantime, the Syrian Army troops' recent advances against the al-Nusra Front in SoutheasternIdlib have caused the terrorist group to call on comrades to assist them to slow down the army's advances, dissident-affiliated websites said on Saturday.

The news websites reported that the Al-Nusra has kept its forces on alert in Idlib province and meantime has called on its allies to send their fighters to Idlib to help them face the army's advances.

In the meantime, local sources reported that Abu Bakr Ra'as al-Hasn, a commander of Al-Nusra, was killed by unknown attackers in the town of Ma'arat al-Mesrin in Southern Idlib.

Damascus

The Syrian Army has merged its forces deployed in Quneitra with other pro-government units in Southwestern Damascus to intensify attacks on Al-Nusra Front in the region, well-informed sources reported on Saturday.

The sources said that the Quneitra's Hawks affiliated to the Syrian Army released on their facebook page that they have completely merged in the army's Golan Regiment in Southwestern Damascus.

The Hawks said that they have set up a new unit known as Dar'a al-Watan-Quneitra Hawks Brigade, adding that the new merger is aimed at reinvigorating the army's battle against terrorists in Southwestern Damascus.

The sources said that the army managed to impose control over the key hills of al-Baydha after the Hawks joined them.

A field source reported earlier on Saturday that the army troops stormed the strongholds of Al-Nusra Front in Southwestern Damascus on Saturday and deployed only a thousand meters away from the terrorist group's key bastion in the region.

The source said that the army men that captured the hills of al-Baydha and al-Maqtoul al-Gharbi on Friday are now only one kilometer away from Beit Jinn Farm, the Al-Nusra's main stronghold in Southwestern Damascus.

The source further said that the army's artillery and missile units pounded again Al-Nusra's positions Northeast of the small town of Beit Jinn, killing and wounding a number of militants and destroying their equipment.

The source added that the army men have now tightened siege on Beit Jinn Farm from the North-East.

The source went on to say that the army's recent advance has opened a new front that is expanded in a region from Beit Jinn-Hineh road up to the Southeastern outskirts of the village of Mughur al-Mir.

Hama

The Syrian Army troops pushed the Al-Nusra Front back from another strategic region in their operation in Northeastern Hama and SoutheasternIdlib, military sources confirmed on Saturday.

The army units exchanged heavy fire with Al-Nusra in al-Shakousiyeh and al-Rahjan region in Northeastern Hama and in Abu Dali and al-Moshayrafeh in SoutheasternIdlib.

Also, the Syrian Air Force and the army's artillery and missile units pounded Al-Nusra's positions in the region, the sources reported, adding that the army men further seized control over al-Zahra Farms Northwest of the town of al-Zaferiyeh in SoutheasternIdlib.

A military source in Hama said on Friday that the Russian Air Force launched a massive assault over Southern Idlib, striking the positions of Al-Nusra Front at several towns near the Hama axis.

The source said that the warplanes launched over 20 airstrikes above the Idlib province, targeting the towns of Abu Dali, Musharifah, Tal Marq, Abu ‘Umar, and Al-Mashad.

The source added that the fighter jets launched at least 15 strikes over the towns of Al-Rahjan and Al-Shakousiyah in Northeastern Hama.

The Russian airstrikes were conducted ahead of the Syrian Army’s planned offensive that is expected to begin in SoutheasternIdlib.

en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13960926000362

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Terrorists Escaping Southern Damascus amid Widening Rifts among ISIL Commanders

Sun Dec 17, 2017 12:47

The Arabic-language al-Watan daily quoted local sources as saying that rifts and difference have intensified among ISIL's commanders in recent days.

The daily said that gaps have gone so deep among ISIL members and commanders in the town of Hajar al-Aswad and the Palestinian Yarmouk Refugee Camp in the Southern countryside of Damascus city that they have defected and started independent organizations.

Al-Watan further said that a number of ISIL fighters have escaped from the region towards other regions or surrendered to the Syrian Army troops.

Al-Watan reported last month that AmerSabri nom de guerre Abu Saleh Amer was appointed as ISIL's emir in Southern Syria to rule over vast parts of the Yarmouk Camp and Hajar al-Aswad.

The daily quoted local sources as saying that Sabri's command in Yarmouk came after growing disunity among terrorists as ISIL had two different organizations in Southern Damascus, adding that one of the organizations in under the command of Abu Hashem al-Khabouri deployed in Hajar al-Aswad South of Yarmouk, whose fighters are mainly from Hajar al-Aswad.

The second organization includes Palestinians of the Yarmouk Camp and the residents of settlements in Damascus countryside. 

en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13960926000873

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Syrian Army Inches Closer to Last Main Stronghold of Al-Nusra in Southwestern Damascus

Sun Dec 17, 2017 12:5

The army men carried out fresh attacks on Al-Nusra from the Southern and Eastern directions of al-Ziyat and al-Zahar al-Aswad hills and seized control of the strategic hills of al-Ziyat East of the village of Mughur al-Mir.

A military source reported that the army is advancing towards al-Zahar al-Aswad, adding that a number of Al-Nusra terrorists deployed in al-Zahar al-Aswad have fled towards Beit Jinn Farm.

The source went on to say that if the army manages to advance from Tal al-Ziyat to Tal al-Zahar al-Aswad, it will capture a 10-kilometer-long region expanded from KafrHoor in the North up to the village of Mughur al-Mira in the South.

In the meantime, the source added that if the army captures al-Zahar al-Aswad it will seize military control over the Northern, Eastern and Southern directions of Mughur al-Mir.

Field sources said on Saturday that the army men gained military control over Beit Jinn after capturing the hills of Tal al-Maqtoul Northeast of Beit Jinn Farms, adding that the advances enabled the army soldiers to separate terrorists deployed in Mughur al-Mir from their comrades in Beit Jinn.

The sources further pointed to the army's advances in Mughur al-Mir that is the last and largest bastion of Al-Nusra in Southwestern Damascus, and said that the army men have also advanced against terrorists in al-Zahar al-Aswad East of Mughur al-Mir.

In the meantime, local sources reported that the army's recent advances in the hills of Bardaya and Tal al-Maqtoul have forced terrorists in Beit Jinn to call for resumption of peace talks with Damascus.

The army has said it intends to end terrorists' presence in Western Damascus through military operations or through resumption of the reconciliation talks that were recently rejected by the terrorists in Mughur al-Mir and Beit Jinn.

The residents of Beit Jinn Farms agree with the entire terms of the government but Al-Nuar's pressure on them has prevented endorsement of peace agreement in the region.

en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13960926000356

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Syrian Army Tightens Noose on Terrorists in Southwestern Damascus

Sun Dec 17, 2017 12:23

The army soldiers further advanced against the Al-Nusra from Tal al-Ziyat hill towards al-Zahar al-Aswad hill in Southwestern Damascus and managed to capture Tal (hill) al-Mantar in al-Zahar al-Aswad near the small town of Mughur al-Mir.

The army men inflicted major losses on Al-Nusra near Mughur al-Mir, specially in al-Zahar al-Aswad, a field source said, adding that the army units intensified attacks on Al-Nusra near Sheikh Abdullah Maqam region near Beit Jinn Farm, causing the terrorists to call on their comrades to rush to the region to help them slow down the army advances. 

Field sources said on Saturday that the army men gained military control over Beit Jinn after capturing the hills of Tal al-Maqtoul Northeast of Beit Jinn Farms, adding that the advances enabled the army soldiers to separate terrorists deployed in Mughur al-Mir from their comrades in Beit Jinn.

The sources further pointed to the army's advances in Mughur al-Mir that is the last and largest bastion of Al-Nusra in Southwestern Damascus, and said that the army men have also advanced against terrorists in al-Zahar al-Aswad East of Mughur al-Mir.

In the meantime, local sources reported that the army's recent advances in the hills of Bardaya and Tal al-Maqtoul have forced terrorists in Beit Jinn to call for resumption of peace talks with Damascus.

The army has said it intends to end terrorists' presence in Western Damascus through military operations or through resumption of the reconciliation talks that were recently rejected by the terrorists in Mughur al-Mir and Beit Jinn.

The residents of Beit Jinn Farms agree with the entire terms of the government but Al-Nusra's pressure on them has prevented endorsement of peace agreement in the region.

en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13960926000675

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More Terrorists Arrive in Northeastern Hama to Slow down Syrian Army Advances towards Idlib

Sun Dec 17, 2017 12:22

The news websites said that Ahrar al-Sham has joined other terrorist groups in Northeastern Hama to prevent the army from advancing towards Idlib province.

The websites went on to say that a long convoy of Ahrar forces arrived in the battlefield in Syriatel hill and joined terrorist front.

Field sources, meantime, reported that a number of Ahrar's fighters have been sent to al-Mosheirefeh region in Southern Idlib.

Fierce clashes are currently underway between the Al-Nusra and the army men in Hama. 

Military sources confirmed on Saturday that the army troops pushed the Al-Nusra Front (Tahrir al-Sham Hay'at or the Levant Liberation Board) back from another strategic region in their operation in Northeastern Hama and SoutheasternIdlib.

The army units exchanged heavy fire with Al-Nusra in al-Shakousiyeh and al-Rahjan region in Northeastern Hama and in Abu Dali and al-Moshayrafeh in SoutheasternIdlib.

Also, the Syrian Air Force and the army's artillery and missile units pounded Al-Nusra's positions in the region, the sources reported, adding that the army men further seized control over al-Zahra Farms Northwest of the town of al-Zaferiyeh in SoutheasternIdlib. 

en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13960926000591

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Syrian Army Drives Terrorists out of More Regions in Southeastern Aleppo

Sun Dec 17, 2017 12:2

The army men, backed up by the artillery and missile units, stormed Al-Nusra's strongholds West of Khanasser in Southeastern Aleppo and captured the villages of Rasm al-Siyalah and Abideh.

In the meantime, the Syrian Air Force pounded the movements and positions of the Al-Nusra in the villages of Rasm al-Siyalah, al-Hawiri and Tal al-Zaman West of Khanasser, inflicting major losses on the terrorists.

Relevant reports said on Thursday that the army forces continued clashes with al-Nusra terrorists in Southeastern Aleppo, retaking control of Syria Tel hill and the village of Rasm al-Kabarah South-West of the town of Khanasser.

Meantime, the army's missile and artillery units attacked al-Nusra position in Tal Ahmar region in Western Khanasser, killing over 20 terrorists.

A military source said that the two villages of RasmSayaleh and Ramleh are the next targets of the army, adding that they will target the terrorists' positions in the two regions with artillery and missile fire.

He noted that during the army offensives against the militants' moves on BorjSabna-Rasm al-Sayaleh road in Western Khanasser, a senior commander of al-Nusra named Abu AmirehMisri was killed along with one of his aides.

en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13960926000258


URL: http://newageislam.com/islamic-world-news/new-age-islam-news-bureau/pervez-musharraf-hails-let,-jud-terrorists-as--patriotic-/d/113596


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