New Age Islam
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Islamic World News ( 21 Jan 2010, NewAgeIslam.Com)

Quran verses as ringtone ‘improper’: Grand Mufti of Egypt

Mumbai ready to host Quran Conference

Many Americans take dim view of Islam, poll shows

London Science Museum pays tribute to Muslim scholars

Mauritanian Muslim imams initiate rare ban on female circumcision

Allah Not An Accurate Translation For God, Say Islamic Experts

Intolerance of an unruly minority in Malaysia

Malaysia and the Myth of Islamic Tolerance

Paris imam backs France's proposed burqa ban

Michael Jackson was about to convert to Islam, says brother

Tariq Ramadan, Paul Berman and Intellectual Jihad

113 Saudi soldiers died fighting Yemeni infiltrators

Pak, Turkey, Iran consider train service

Somalia’s Al-Shabaab threatens to attack Kenya

Bus ban on veiled women in France?

Dutch inquiry finds Iraq war illegal

Child marriage now legal in Rajasthan?

Lashkar readies para-gliders to launch suicide attack on India

Indian airports on hijack alert

IPL FUELS ANTI- INDIA FIRE IN PAKISTAN

Pak can't guarantee against repeat of 26/11 in India: Gilani to US

Pak lawmakers condemn Gates for 26/11-attack statement

Terror attack will impact Indo-Pak ties: Krishna

India's patience thinning; Pak must act against terror: Antony

US rules out facilitating Indo-Pak dialogue

Pakistan 'wants unarmed drones'

Militants warn Mehsuds against returning home

Statement by Muslim leaders

Turkey police arrest 120 al-Qaeda suspects

Afghan Taliban overhaul image in bid to win allies

Will be impatient till Pak acts against 26/11 planners, says Antony

US to mobilise India, China, others to stabilise Af-Pak

‘It’s difficult writing a Pakistan novel’

‘Where are the Vedic texts?

SPO held for selling Chinese pistol to LeT man

More names on Iraq election ban

Straw opposed regime change in Iraq

Dr Khan faces threat to his life: Malik

Lahore HC postpones judgment on Lakhvi

Frustration fuels acts of hatred

Hamas not for Israel’s destruction’

Palestinians reject Tel Aviv presence in future state

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau

URL of this Page: http://www.newageislam.com/islamic-world-news/quran-verses-as-ringtone-‘improper’--grand-mufti-of-egypt/d/2406

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Quran verses as ringtone ‘improper’: Grand Mufti of Egypt

January 22, 2010

Cairo: With thousands of Egyptians choosing Quranic verses as their mobile ringtones, the Grand Mufti of Egypt has condemned the practice terming it as "improper" as it compromises the sacredness of the religious scriptures.

"Using the Quran as ringtones is improper because it compromises the sacredness of the verse," Grand Mufti of Egypt Ali Jumah said on Wednesday.

Quranic verses are used as ringtones by young Egyptians as a declaration of identity and by the old Egyptians as a respectful tone far from pop songs.

The other expected reaction on the issue is by a cultural elite who believe he should be issuing religious points of view on more important topics such as corruption or embezzlement.

But for the time being those who are really worried about how many will buy into the fatwa are those making millions of pounds from selling ring tones to devoted Muslims. —PTI

http://www.asianage.com/presentation/leftnavigation/news/international/%E2%80%98indians-will-face-discrimination-in-pak%E2%80%99.aspx

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Mumbai ready to host Quran Conference, experience Marathi translation

January 22, 2010

Mumbai:  Preparations for the two-day International Quran Conference which will also see unveiling of the Marathi Translation of the Holy Quran is underway in full speed, said Maulana Abdus Salam Salafi - President of Jamiat Ahle Hadees Greater Mumbai and Dr. Saeed Ah Faizee - President of Jamiat Ahle Hadees Maharashtra.

The duo were jointly addressing the media at Marathi Patrakar Sangh's office in Mumbai today evening.

"The two-day International Conference beginning January 23 in the evening would be held at two different venues with two different topics but with a single message", they added.

"While the conference will begin with a public meeting at Jhula Maidan in Mumbai Central on January 23, the release of the Marathi translation of the Holy Quran would take place at Hajj House next day at 10:00 in the morning", they said.

"The first day of the conference is titled as Mohsin-e-Insaniyat Conference and the theme of this conference is to propagate the preaching of Prophet Mohammad (peace be upon him). The next day's conference will be the International Quran Conference that will also release the Marathi Translation of the Holy Book", said the organisers.

Elaborating on the motives behind organising the conference, Maulana Salafi said, "Islam is the religion of peace, prosperity and equality. However, due to misconceptions - created deliberately or because of misunderstandings, the real message of Islam fails in reaching to the masses in India. The motive behind this conference is to bring to fore the real face of Islam in its true and pure form."

In reply to a question, Dr. Saeed Ah Faizee said, "There was a persistent demand from non-Muslims as well as Marathi speaking Muslims in Maharashtra to have an easy yet authentic translation of the Holy Book in the state's official language."

"Moreover", he added, "The Quran is actually the Book of Guidance, which is for the mankind irrespective of their religions. We consider it our duty to make the Quran available for the masses in a language which is familiar to them."

"We are sure", he said, "The translation will not only meet the requirements of the people but also help in creating an atmosphere of understanding between the people from different faiths."

According to the details unveiled by the organisers in front of the media, the Marathi Translation of the Quran is done by Mohd. Qasim of Nandurbar in North Maharashtra who used Ahsanul Bayaan, the popular Urdu Translation of Maulana Mohd. Junagadi. Ahsanul Bayaan is considered as one of the authentic Urdu translations widely read in the Indian sub continent. Few years back, it was also published by the Saudi Arabian Govt. through its Quran Centre in Madinah, said the statement.

Jamiat Ahle-Hadees Maharashtra the publisher and sponsor of the entire project of the Marathi Translation of the Holy Quran to be released on January 24 at Hajj House took four years to complete the work.

“Translating the Quran has never been an easy task. For, it requires lot of concentration, determination and efforts so that it does not have any mistake. Doing it in a language like Marathi was even more difficult”, Dr. Saeed Faizee said while speaking to ummid.com.

“However", he added, "Considering the importance of the Marathi language in Maharashtra and looking at the persistent demand from various circles, we took it upon ourselves to do the job. While working for four long years, instead of looking at any time-limit we concentrated on perfection and to make the final copy free from a single error."

Interestingly, the Marathi Translation of the Holy Quran that will be released this Sunday is perhaps the only Quran translation of its kind that has the name of a Hindu, Ajay Sonar imprinted on it.

Ajay Sonar a computer DTP operator from Malegaon, who will be felicitated by the organizers during the International Quran Conference in Mumbai, helped Jamiat Ahle Hadees Maharashtra in composing and proof reading the entire Marathi script that runs over more than a thousand pages.

The Two-day conference in Mumbai is jointly organised by Jamiat Ahle Hadees Greater Mumbai and Jamiat Ahle Hadees Maharashtra. Renowned scholars from India and abroad including Maulana Abdul Hameed Rahmani - President of Maulana Abul Kalam Azad Islamic Awakening Centre, New Delhi, Editor of Sirat-e-Mustaqueem Birmingham, UK Dr. Abdul Haadi, Maulana Zafarul Hasan from Sharjah, Maulana Ab Qayyum from Qatar, Maulana Sayyad Mairaj Rabbani from Riyadh, Saudi Aarabia, Maulana Abdullah from Nepal, Gen. Secretary All Indian Milli Council, New Delhi Maulana Abdul Wahab Khilji, Malegaon MLA Mufti Mohd Ismael Qasmi and Dr. Fazlurrehman Madani, Mansoora are expected to address the conference.

http://www.ummid.com/news/2010/January/22.01.2010/mumbai_ready_to_unveil_marathi_quran.htm

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Many Americans take dim view of Islam, poll shows

By Jonathan D. Salant

Washington » A majority of Americans have an unfavorable impression of Islam, alone among major religions, a new poll finds.

The survey by the Gallup Center for Muslim Studies found 53 percent of Americans view Islam unfavorably compared with 42 percent who view the religion favorably. Majorities view other major religions favorably: 91 percent for Christianity, 71 percent for Judaism and 58 percent for Buddhism.

The negativity comes even as 63 percent of Americans said they know little about Islam.

Dalia Mogahed, executive director of the Gallup center, said that, while other religious extremists are portrayed as being outside the mainstream, Islamic terrorists are described as representatives of their religion.

"Where a deranged person of a certain faith commits a crime in the name of their faith, we look at these incidents as someone misinterpreting faith," Mogahed said. "When a terrorist commits an act of violence in the name of Islam, it is often times framed as being devoted to the faith rather than being deviant."

That view is fed by commentators voicing anti-Islamic rhetoric in a way that would cause them to be called bigots and kept off the airwaves if they talked the same way about other minorities, said James Zogby, president of the Arab American Institute.

"Arab- and Muslim-bashing is the one bigotry that's acceptable," Zogby said.

Although much attention was given to Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, who is charged with trying to blow up a Northwest Airlines airliner, little attention was paid to a Muslim-led demonstration outside the courthouse where Abdulmutallab was arraigned, Zogby said. The protesters condemned those who would commit terrorist acts in the name of Islam.

The telephone poll of 1,002 adults was taken Oct. 31 to Nov. 13, 2009, and had a margin of error of plus or minus 3.4 percentage points.

http://www.sltrib.com/faith/ci_14242651

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London Science Museum pays tribute to Muslim scholars

22 January 2010

LONDON – Mapping the world, water pump or even solar system cardiovascular functions: a museum of London honours since Thursday Muslim scientists.

The interactive exhibition "1001 Inventions: the discovery of Muslim heritage in our world" gives a spotlight on a millennium of progress and scientific discoveries. A contribution to the knowledge of humanity, unnoticed in their time, or forgotten over the centuries.

It runs until April 25 at Science Museum.

"If we neglect the contributions of other cultures, then it gives a sense of dangerous cultural superiority," said Thursday Professor Salim TS Al-Hassani at the presentation of the exhibition to the press.

"As we enter a new globalization, we must respect and recognize the contributions of other races and cultures that we have today," he added.

The exhibition covers a period from the year 700 to 1700, described as an era of "scientific and technological advances outstanding in China, India, Persia, Africa and the Arab world".

Muslim scientists also used the knowledge of the time to develop new ideas in astronomy, mathematics, architecture, medicine and engineering, which have been largely forgotten in most of European history.

Thus, the astronomers of the Observatory of Maragheh in Iran have developed new models for understanding the universe that opened the way for the Copernican theory in 1543, explaining that the Earth orbits the sun.

Abbas ibn Firnas, a scholar of the ninth century, has made one of the earliest known human flight by jumping from the top of a minaret of the Great Mosque of Cordoba with wings that were reinforced with wood.

For his part, the Egyptian physician Ibn al-Nafis is considered the first to have described the cardiovascular system, more than 200 years before the full description of William Harvey in 1628.

http://www.ennaharonline.com/en/culture/2948.html

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Mauritanian Muslim imams initiate rare ban on female circumcision

January 22nd, 2010

Women meeting in western Senegal to discuss eradicating female genital mutilation, 10 Sept 2007/Finbarr O'Reilly

Human rights campaigners who have been struggling for years to eliminate female genital mutilation (FGM) in West Africa got a boost this week as news emerged that a group of Muslim clerics and scholars in Mauritania had declared a fatwa, or religious decree, against the practice.

“Are there texts in the Koran that clearly require that thing? They do not exist,” asked the secretary general of the Forum of Islamic Thought in Mauritania, Cheikh Ould Zein. “On the contrary, Islam is clearly against any action that has negative effects on health. Now that doctors in Mauritania unanimously say that this practice threatens health, it is therefore clear that Islam is against it.”

In many parts of West Africa, FGM has been presented as a religious obligation for practising Muslim women, leading most to believe that if they are not circumcised they are unclean and their prayers will not be heard. Which makes the decision by 34 imams and scholars — supported by the government of Mauritania and UNICEF, the United Nations’ children’s agency — all the more unusual.

http://www.ethiopianreview.com/news/14893

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Allah Not An Accurate Translation For God, Say Islamic Experts

22 January 2010

KUALA LUMPUR, -- Seven Islamic experts who attended a forum organised by the Institute of Islamic Understanding Malaysia (IKIM) here Thursday to discuss the use of the word "Allah" as a replacement for God, were of the view that the translation was not accurate.

The seven experts were Assoc Prof Dr Kamar Oniah (rpt Oniah) Kamaruzzaman from the Usuluddin and Comparative Religion Studies Department of the Interational Islamic University Malaysia; Datuk Dr Abdullah Md Zin, the Religious Advisor to the Prime Minister; PAS president Datuk Seri Hadi Awang; Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) supreme council member Dr Mohd Nur Manuty; former Perlis mufti Dr Mohd Asri Zainul Abidin; IKIM's Humanities and Economic Studies Centre director Dr Mohd Sani Badron and Md Asham Ahmad, a Fellow at IKIM's Syariah and Law Studies Centre.

The forum entitled "Terjemahan God Sebagai Allah: Mengenalpasti Punca Permasalahan dan Penyelesaiannya" (Translating God as Allah: Identifying the Cause of Problems and Finding Solutions) lasted some eight hours from 8.30am and was chaired by IKIM director-general Datuk Nik Mustapha Nik Hassan.

IKIM president Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, at a press conference afterwards, said the forum also surmised that the translation of Allah as God was factually wrong because it contradicted the concept of God as espoused by Islam in Malaysia.

He said the forum succeeded in achieving its obejctives, which was to identify the causes and clarify the background of the problem on the translation from the perspective of religion, language social aspects and law.

"The forum also stressed on the understanding and context of the use of Allah in the Quran, touched on Islamic jurisprudence on the use of the word Allah by religions and cultures other than Islam as well as reach a unity in thinking among Islamic experts and leaders," he said.

Abdullah added that the stand of the experts would be brought to the attention of the government and that another forum on managing crises between religions would also be organised by IKIM on Jan 25.

He said the forum on Jan 25 would also involve leaders of the Malaysian Consultative Council on Buddhsim, Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism and Taoism (MCCBCHST) and was aimed at seeking solutions to misunderstandings to preserve the multi-racial harmony in the country.

Abdullah said IKIM hoped the followers of all religions respected the boundaries of their own religions so that unwanted incidents like what happened recently would not recur.

"In today's discussion, we all agreed that all Malaysians must respect and uphold the Constitution of Malaysia, which allows freedom of religion to be practiced in peace and harmony," he added.

http://www.bernama.com/bernama/v5/newsgeneral.php?id=470194

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Intolerance of an unruly minority in Malaysia

Jan 22nd, 2010

THE attacks against churches and other places of worship that ushered in 2010 have brought into sharp focus the intolerance of an unruly minority in Malaysia. This minority is determined to destroy the delicate balance reached through compromise and consensus in a plural society by our founding leaders, which forms a critical component of the social contract under the Federal Constitution.

Rage and emotional reactions must not take centre stage in national life. Instead, a calm and reasoned analysis of the constitutional position of religious freedom, which has served the nation well for half a century, must be undertaken.

I suggest the following propositions:

1 Islam is the religion of Malaysia, but other religions can be freely practised.

2 All citizens have the right to freedom of speech and expression.

3 Everyone has the right to profess and practise a religion of their choice.

4 Every religious group has the right to manage its own religious affairs and activities, free from state interference, and the right to acquire and own property.

5 Every religious group has the right to establish schools and other educational institutions for the education of children in its own religion.

6 As religion is a state matter, there is no national head of Islam for the whole of Malaysia. Instead, the nine Malay rulers are the heads of Islam in their respective states; and the Yang DiPertuan Agong is the head of Islam in the federal territories.

7 As part of the religion of the nation, federal and state laws have been passed regulating the worship of Islam. No similar laws have been enacted for religions other than Islam. Thus, insofar as religions other than Islam are concerned, there is a wall of separation between the state and those religions.

It follows that state action cannot regulate or govern the practice of religions other than Islam.

Full report at: http://thenutgraph.com/article-5320.html

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Malaysia and the Myth of Islamic Tolerance

By Rich Trzupek

Jan 22nd, 2010

Malaysia is often held up as the model of what a modern Muslim-majority nation can be. The ruling class, the bumiputra (literally “princes of the earth”) are largely, though not entirely, Muslim. But when Malaysia’s High Court ruled in late December to lift a government ban on non-Muslims using the word “Allah,” Christian churches became the targets of fire-bombing attacks. This eruption of violence suggests that there is trouble brewing just beneath the surface even in this supposed paradise of Islamic moderation.

At last count, eleven Christian churches and one Sikh temple have been attacked in Malaysia. That makes twelve attacks against places of worship in half a month’s time. What does it say about Islamic values when the impetus for these attacks was the use of a particular word?

Everyone agrees that the word “Allah” pre-dates the birth of the Islamic prophet Muhammad. In Malaysia, as in most of the Muslim of the world, Allah simply means God, the same God that, according to the Quran itself, both Christians and Jews worship. Nonetheless, use of the word Allah among non-Muslims has long been prohibited by law in Malaysia. A December 31 ruling by a Malaysian court overturned that law, a move that upset many of the nation’s Muslims, who make up about sixty per cent of the populace. They claim that non-Muslims will use the word to corrupt Muslims into accepting infidel beliefs.

Once again, we are presented with evidence of Islamic intolerance and insecurity. To his credit, Malaysian Prime Minister Dato’ Sri Mohd Najib condemned the attacks, which undermine both his “One Malaysia” policy and his re-election prospects. But no matter how much tolerance the leader of this nation may preach, the actions of his co-religionists speak much louder. Emboldened by an increasingly aggressive, violent, world-wide Islamic resurgence over the last few decades, this episode reveals what expatriates who have lived in Malaysia have long claimed: that the supposed harmony of Malaysia is nothing but a glossy veneer that barely covers up the inequities and prejudices of this society.

The Malaysian constitution grants special privileges to the bumiputra, or as they are called in the constitution, Malays. Malays are defined as those citizens who profess the religion of Islam, habitually speak the Malay language and conform to Malay customs. The constitution directs the King of Malaysia (Malaysia is a constitutional monarchy) to safeguard the special position of the Malays and to ensure that a certain percentage of public services and scholarships and other similar educational privileges are reserved by the federal government for the benefit of Malays.

Full report at: http://frontpagemag.com/2010/01/22/malaysia-and-the-myth-of-islamic-tolerance/

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Paris imam backs France's proposed burqa ban

Jan 22, 2010

PARIS (Reuters) - A French imam active in Muslim dialogue with Jews has backed a law against full face veils, parting ways with most Muslim leaders in France urging parliamentarians not to vote for a planned "burqa ban."

Hassen Chalghoumi, whose mosque stands in a northern Paris suburb where many Muslims live, said women who wanted to cover their faces should move to Saudi Arabia or other Muslim countries where that was a tradition.

France's National Assembly is likely to pass a resolution soon denouncing full veils and to try in coming months to hammer out a law forbidding them, deputies say.

President Nicolas Sarkozy calls the veils an affront to women's dignity unwelcome in France, home to about five million Muslims. Fewer than 2,000 women wear the veils, known here as burqas although most are Middle Eastern niqabs showing the eyes.

"Yes, I am for a legal ban of the burqa, which has no place in France, a country where women have been voting since 1945," Hassen Chalghoumi, 36, told the daily Le Parisien.

Chalghoumi, who has received death threats for his promotion of dialogue with Jews, said that full face veils had no basis in Islam and "belong to a tiny minority tradition reflecting an ideology that scuttles the Muslim religion."

"The burqa is a prison for women, a tool of sexist domination and Islamist indoctrination," said Chalghoumi, whose mosque stands in Drancy, site of a wartime camp where Jews were detained before transport to Nazi concentration camps.

Chalghoumi criticised some of the tougher measures proposed by conservative politicians, such as imposing fines or cutting off child support payments for veiled women.

But the Tunisian-born imam, who is a naturalised French citizen, agreed France should not grant citizenship to immigrant women who cover their faces.

"Having French nationality means wanting to take part in society, at school, at work," he said.

"But with a bit of cloth over their faces, what can these women share with us? If they want to wear the veil, they can go to a country where it's the tradition, like Saudi Arabia."

A parliamentary commission studying the issue, which has been discussed alongside a wider public debate about national identity, is due to publish its recommendations next Tuesday.

French Muslim leaders and many opposition politicians oppose any ban, saying it would alienate Muslims and possibly violate civil rights laws.

© Thomson Reuters 2010 All rights reserved

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Michael Jackson was about to convert to Islam, says brother

22 January 2010

Michael's Jackson's brother Jermaine Jackson reached out to the Muslim world in a long, controversial interview with the Dubai-based pan-Arab news channel Al-Arabiya aired Thursday night.

See below the jump for the videos of the interview, Jermaine Jackson's first ever with an Arab news network.

During his nearly hourlong talk, he spoke out about his brother's death, the conspiracies he believed were behind the singer's downfall -- and how he believes the King of Pop was on the verge of converting to Islam.

After spending time in the Gulf (Michael Jackson lived in Bahrain for a while in 2005), "Michael hired a team that was all Muslim,” Jackson told Al- Arabiya, dressed in a red Arab Keffeyeh scarf.  “His behavior at the time also showed that he was very close to converting.”

http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/babylonbeyond/2010/01/muslim-world-king-of-pop-was-on-verge-of-converting-to-islam-michael-jacksons-brother-tells-arab-new.html

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Tariq Ramadan, Paul Berman and Intellectual Jihad

Jan 22, 2010

Tariq Ramadan was just given permission to enter the U.S. Should he have been?

With the 2003 publication of his groundbreaking book Terror and Liberalism, Paul Berman became one of the most influential and incisive interpreters of Islamist political discourse for a general audience in America and England. A protégé of the literary critic and socialist intellectual Irving Howe, Berman was awarded a MacArthur Foundation “genius” grant for his writing about politics and literature, and the revolutionary aspirations of the social movements that came out of the 1960s in Latin America and elsewhere. He is currently finishing a book about the Islamist intellectual superstar Tariq Ramadan and his Western intermediaries, like Ian Buruma and Timothy Garton Ash, which came out of a controversial piece that Berman wrote denouncing Ramadan and his Western admirers for The New Republic. Berman’s new book, Flight of the Intellectuals, is due out from Melville House in April.

Tablet sat down with Berman to talk about the State Department’s decision on Wednesday to reverse the Bush Administration’s policy to ban Tariq Ramadan from America, and to give him a visa to come speak on the U.S. lecture circuit.

Tariq Ramadan is coming to America. Is it a mistake for the Obama administration to let him in?

It’s a good move for the U.S. to encourage freedom of speech and open debate. It’s a mistake, however, to imagine that he has positive contributions to make.

So, Ramadan has no deep, important thoughts we need to hear?

I do think it’s worth the trouble to look into his deep thoughts, and to notice how problematic they are. He can say something attractive at the level of a slogan; but when you examine it more closely it turns out to have unexpected meanings. He opposes terrorism but he does it with a series of asterisks. If you read the footnote in tiny print you discover some troubling aspects regarding terrorism, and this is borne out by the fact that he did donate money to a Hamas charity. To do so was not illegal at the time, and he has himself argued he didn’t know where his money was going. But if you read Ramadan carefully you would not be surprised to learn he donates money to such groups.

In my book I have more to say about Ramadan’s own philosophical ideas, which I find pretty appalling and obscurantist.

How can so many Western intellectuals, like Buruma and Garton Ash, just to name two, be so wrong about Ramadan?

Full report at: http://www.tabletmag.com/news-and-politics/24116/intellectual-jihad/

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113 Saudi soldiers died fighting Yemeni infiltrators

22 January 2010

JAZAN: The number of Saudi soldiers died fighting Yemeni infiltrators during the last three months has increased to 113, Al-Riyadh Arabic daily reported on Thursday, quoting Maj. Gen. Zaid Al-Khawaji, commander of the Saudi Armed Forces' Southern Region.

He said the enemies captured six Saudi soldiers alive.

"We have found the bodies of three missing soldiers in hilly areas," he said, identifying the dead as Saeed Al-Amri, Mufleh Al-Shahri and Ali Al-Haqawi.

The body of Al-Amri has been buried.

"The bodies of his two colleagues would be handed over to their relatives shortly for burial," he added. "We identified the three from documents that were found with them," he explained. He said the number of missing soldiers has been reduced to nine.

Al-Khawaji said all intruders have been flushed out from the Al-Jabiriya border village in Jazan where heavy fighting took place between Saudi Armed Forces and the Yemeni infiltrators.

In a previous statement, Prince Khaled bin Sultan, assistant minister of defense and aviation for military affairs, put the number of Saudi soldiers killed in the fighting at 82 with 39 injured and 21 missing. He said 90 percent of the 470 soldiers who sustained minor injuries during the fighting were discharged from hospitals after receiving treatment.

 http://www.arabnews.com/?page=1&section=0&article=131615&d=22&m=1&y=2010

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Pak, Turkey, Iran consider train service

Islamabad: The governments of Pakistan, Iran and Turkey are considering running a passenger train service between their capitals once the ECO container train, which was operated on test ground, becomes fully operational, officials here said, reports our Pakistan correspondent.

The first demonstration container train was started from Islamabad via Tehran to Istanbul on 14 August, 2009, which successfully reached its destination on 28 August, 2009.

"The Project of ECO Container Train on Islamabad-Tehran-Istanbul Route will not only open a new era of socio-economic development and prosperity in the region but also bring the people closer to each other," federal railways minister Ghulam Ahmed Bilour said Thursday.

http://www.asianage.com/presentation/leftnavigation/news/international/pak,-turkey,-iran-consider-train-service.aspx

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Somalia’s Al-Shabaab threatens to attack Kenya

22 January 2010

NAIROBI: Somalia’s hard-line Al-Shabaab rebels threatened on Thursday to attack neighboring Kenya following a crackdown on Somalis in the capital Nairobi, according to a recording posted on an Al-Shabaab website.

Al-Shabaab has threatened to attack Kenya before, although anger has been rising over the past week among the Somali community since Kenyan security forces detained hundreds of Somalis living in a Nairobi suburb.

“God willing we will arrive in Nairobi, we will enter Nairobi, God willing we will enter ... when we arrive we will hit, hit until we kill, weapons we have, praise be to God, they are enough,” men chanted in a recording nearly seven minutes long. They sang in Swahili and another man spoke in Arabic.

The crackdown followed a violent protest in Nairobi against the detention of Jamaican Muslim cleric Sheikh Abdullah Al-Faisal, who was jailed in Britain for urging his audiencies to kill Jews, Hindus and Westerners.

Many of the protesters were Somalis and some waved a black flag identified with Al-Shabaab, a group seen by Washington as Al-Qaeda’s proxy in the Horn of Africa nation.

Reclusive Al-Shabaab leader Ahmed Abdi Godane, also known as Sheik Mukhtar Abdirahman Abu Zubeyr, was introduced on the recording by the men chanting.

The man they introduced as Abu Zubeyr called on Muslims in several sub-Saharan African countries to wage jihad, or holy war, against “infidels” and to destroy their interests around the world.

“Our brothers in Kenya, Tanzania, Nigeria, Uganda and Chad, you have a chance to join the jihad in the name of Allah. Don’t you know whoever does not join the jihad today, will never join?” the man said in Arabic.

“If we live on or die, we are between two victories.”

http://www.arabnews.com/?page=4&section=0&article=131610&d=22&m=1&y=2010&pix=world.jpg&category=World

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Bus ban on veiled women in France?

21 January 2010

Women wearing a full-body burqa could be banned from using public transport or receiving state handouts, a French government spokesman has said.

According to the Telegraph, the call came just days after the head of President Nicolas Sarkozy’s political party said Muslim women who wear a full face veil, or niqab, should be refused French nationality.

UMP party spokesman Frederic Lefebvre has demanded any woman breaking a proposed law making the garment illegal should be “deprived of her rights.”

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/europe/Bus-ban-on-veiled-women-in-France/articleshow/5482337.cms

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Dutch inquiry finds Iraq war illegal

22 January 2010

A Dutch commission of inquiry has concluded that the US-led 2003 Iraq war was illegal under international law. The conclusion has far-reaching implications. Potentially, it could open up leading politicians and military figures in the US and Britain to prosecution for war crimes.

Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende of the Netherlands set up the Davids Commission in order to avoid a full parliamentary inquiry into the Dutch role in the invasion of Iraq. He headed the caretaker government at the time of the invasion and has rejected the report’s findings. The fact that a commission which was set up with the intention of producing a whitewash has had to come to such damning conclusions points to the weight of evidence that exists for the illegality of the war.

The attempt to maintain the lie that the war was legal is becoming increasingly difficult. The Dutch report entirely rejects the central argument used to justify the actions of the British government and claim that there was a legal basis for the invasion.

“The [UN] Security Council Resolutions on Iraq passed during the 1990s did not constitute a mandate for the US-British military intervention in 2003,” the report concludes. “Despite the existence of certain ambiguities, the wording of Resolution 1441 cannot reasonably be interpreted (as the government did) as authorizing individual Member States to use military force to compel Iraq to comply with the Security Council’s resolutions, without authorization from the Security Council.”

The report goes on: “The Dutch government’s often repeated view that a second resolution was ‘politically desirable, but not legally indispensable’ is not easy to uphold. The wording and scope of Resolution 1441 cannot be interpreted as such a second resolution. Hence, the military action had no sound mandate under international law.”

Unlike the ongoing Chilcot inquiry in Britain on the war, the Dutch team included legal experts. As Professor Philippe Sands QC, an expert on international law, has pointed out, their conclusion is significant for that reason:

“There has been no other independent assessment on the legality of the war in Iraq and the findings of this inquiry are unambiguous. It concludes that the case argued by the Dutch and British governments, including the then-attorney general, Lord Goldsmith, could not reasonably be argued.

Full report at: http://www.wsws.org/articles/2010/jan2010/iraq-j22.shtml

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Child marriage now legal in Rajasthan?

By Sudhanshu Mishra in Jaipur

RAJASTHAN’S home department officials are in a catch- 22 situation.

They have been asked to frame rules that make registration of marriages compulsory in Rajasthan.

Here lies the problem: The related Bill passed by the assembly last year had allowed registration of child- marriages as well.

But child marriage is a prohibited practice across the country.

According to Section 8( 1) of the Rajasthan Compulsory Registration of Marriages Bill 2009, “ the parties, or in case the parties have not completed the age of 21 years, the parents or as the case may be, guardian of the parties, shall be responsible to submit the memorandum within a period of 30 days from the date of solemnisation of the marriage to the registrar”. This is in contradiction of the Centre’s Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006.

The Act clearly states that a “ child means a person who, if male, has not completed 21 years of age, and if a female, has not completed 18 years of age”. When Rajasthan drafted and passed the Bill last year, nobody seemed to have noticed this glitch. Realisation dawned only when rules were being framed.

Principal secretary ( law), S. S. Kothari, said: “ We just wanted couples to register their marriages irrespective of their age. In fact, it’s an excellent way to detect child marriages.” He also claimed the state law did not contravene the provisions of the Centre’s Act. The prohibition Act states that the marriage can be nullified only if a contracting party ( the bride or groom) who was a child at the time of the marriage moves the court.

It further states: “ If at the time of filing a petition the petitioner is a minor, the petition may be filed through his or her guardian or next friend along with the child marriage prohibition officer.” In this context, Kothari asserted, the law for making marriage registration compulsory did not legalise child- marriages.

Principal secretary ( home) Pradeep Sen said the rules were yet to be framed and it should not be construed that Rajasthan was supporting child- marriages. Also, ground reality cannot be ignored. Many communities follow the practice of childmarriages and since the law is for everyone, all these aspects had to be taken into account, Sen said.

Rajasthan’s marriage registration Act is not be applicable to the marriages solemnised under the Indian Christian Marriage Act, 1872, the Parsi Marriage Act and Divorce Act 1936 or the Special Marriage Act, 1954.

sudhanshu.mishra@mailtoday.in

Mail today, New Delhi

 

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Lashkar readies para-gliders to launch suicide attack on India: Intel

22 January 2010

NEW DELHI: Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba has acquired more than 50 para-gliding equipment from Europe, setting off alarm bells in the government

that these could be used to carry out air-borne suicide attacks in the country.

The intelligence input which came barely days ahead of Republic Day celebrations has prompted authorities to ensure a tight air security around all vital installations, official sources said here on Friday.

The input about movement of overground workers, owing allegiance to LeT, in Europe led the sleuths to find out that they were on a shopping spree for para-gliding equipment, the sources said.

Security agencies have carried out mock drills in different areas in the country as part of the exercise to prevent any air-borne suicide attack by LeT terrorists.

The input bears significance in view of the fact that government has already put all Air India planes operating in the country's neighbourhood on high security alert following intelligence reports from Western agencies that the LeT and other terror groups were planning to hijack a flight.

Radars located at strategic locations have been tuned to intercept all low flying objects and authorities are not taking any chances, sources said.

A no-flying zone is already in place in capital's Luytens zone which houses the Rashtrapati Bhavan, Prime Minister's Office and key ministries like home, defence, finance, external affairs, among others.

Ahead of the Republic Day, elaborate air defence measures, including deployment of anti-aircraft guns, have also been taken to check possible intrusion of air space.

Besides, helicopters of the Indian Air Force will hover over the areas around Rajpath and all along the route of the Republic Day parade.

Earlier, intelligence reports suggested that Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence had directed the militants operating in Jammu and Kashmir to use explosive-laden 'Toy Planes' to hit VIPs in the state and the national capital.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Lashkar-readies-para-gliders-to-launch-suicide-attack-on-India-Intel/articleshow/5488687.cms

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Indian airports on hijack alert

 

India has issued a number of terror alerts in the past few years

Indian airports are on high alert after Western intelligence reports warned security officials of a possible attempt to hijack an Indian airliner.

The civil aviation ministry said it was tightening security on aircrafts as well on the basis of the intelligence.

Reports say that state-run Air India or other private carriers could be targeted by militant Islamic groups.

The alert comes days ahead of India's annual Republic Day celebrations on January 26.

India has issued a number of terror alerts in the past few years.

But security officials say this year they are being particularly vigilant because the information is more specific.

'Security tightened'

"We have intelligence inputs that there could be a hijack attempt of Indian planes," the AFP news agency quoted UK Bansal, a senior home ministry official as saying.

"So we have alerted the ministry of civil aviation and bureau of civil aviation security and tightened security at all airports in the country."

The alert warns of flights from India or flights originating in neighbouring South Asian countries.

A spokesman for the civil aviation ministry, Moushumi Chakravarty, confirmed the alert had been received.

"The information has been passed on to airport authorities and airline offices," AFP quoted her as saying.

Intelligence overhaul

The BBC's Sanjoy Majumder in Delhi said that passengers will now be subjected to extra screening before they board an aircraft while armed sky marshals will be deployed on certain flights.

Although officials did not name any specific militant group, media reports named groups linked to al-Qaeda or Lashkar-e-Taiba.

India blames the deadly Mumbai attacks of November 2008 on Lashkar-e-Taiba. The group has denied any involvement in the attack.

India is in the middle of a major overhaul of its security and intelligence-gathering apparatus following the Mumbai attacks of November 2008 in which 174 people were killed, our correspondent says.

In 1999 an Air India flight from Kathmandu was hijacked by Islamic militants and taken to Kandahar in Afghanistan.

Passengers were only released in exchange for three militants being held in India.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/8473937.stm

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IPL FUELS ANTI- INDIA FIRE IN PAKISTAN

By Badar Alam in Lahore

Pak links auction snub to peace process with India

Nothing to do with tournament says govt

PAKISTAN THE REJECTION of top Pakistani players at the IPL players auction has fuelled a fresh burst of anti- India rhetoric across the border where stories abounded of a conspiracy to insult the cricket stars.

Fehmida Mirza, the speaker of the National Assembly gave voice to the anger against the Indians when she said a parliamentary delegation that was to visit India soon would not cross the border.

This was to protest the “ insulting Indian attitude” towards Pakistani players who are the world Twenty20 champions, she said. In fact, many Pakistanis saw in the rejection of the cricketers an Indian snub to the entire nation.

There were reports of tit- for- tat actions by the Pakistanis.

One said IPL matches would not be aired by cable operators. Another suggested sporting ties with India would be suspended.

Mirza’s remarks came after the leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Nisar Ali Khan raised the issue in the House and declared his Pakistan Muslim League ( Nawaz) would not send its members to India as part of the parliamentary delegation. He also demanded an immediate ban on the screening of Indian films in Pakistani cinemas.

The Speaker reflected the general sentiment when she told Parliament that the 11 Pakistani stars listed for the players’ auction – among them Pakistan’s Twenty20 captain Shahid Afridi – had been ignored by the IPL owners as part of a “ planned conspiracy”. India was swift to reject this allegation and the charge that the government had a hand in the exclusion of Afridi and his team- mates from the auction.

External affairs minister S. M. Krishna said, “ The government has nothing to do with the IPL, the selection of players and various exercises that are connected with it. Pakistan will have to draw a line between where the government of India is directly connected and where it is not.” The ministry of external affairs ( MEA) said the participation of Pakistani cricketers “ in a commercial event of the nature of IPL” was not within the purview of the government.

In fact, Krishna chose the moment to send a stern message to Pakistan. “ Blaming the ( Indian) government for the absence of Pakistani players from the next edition of IPL is unfortunate.

Pakistan should introspect on the reasons which have put a strain on relations between India and Pakistan and have adversely impacted peace, stability and prosperity in the region,” the MEA said.

Full report at: Mail today, New Delhi

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Pak can't guarantee against repeat of 26/11 in India: Gilani to US

22 January 2010

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan, which is experiencing "Mumbai-like attacks almost every other day", cannot guarantee there will not be a repeat of the 26/11 strikes in India, Premier Yousuf Raza Gilani has told the US.

"Pakistan is itself facing Mumbai-like attacks almost every other day and when we cannot protect our own citizens, how can we guarantee that there wouldn't be any more terrorist hits in India," Gilani was quoted by a source in the media here as having told visiting US secretary of defence Robert Gates on Thursday.

Gilani said the best safeguard against such incidents is delinking the bilateral peace process from action against terrorism.

The Dawn newspaper reported that the Pakistan prime minister told Gates about steps taken against militant groups, saying they had been outlawed and their network disrupted.

In an apparent reference to Jamaat-ud-Dawah chief Hafiz Muhammad Saeed, accused by India of masterminding the Mumbai attacks, Gilani said his government could not prosecute anyone without evidence.

He also sought "even-handedness" by the US in its dealings with Pakistan and India, the daily reported.

An official statement issued by the prime minister's office said Pakistan-India relations had figured in Gilani's discussions with Gates but did not say whether the premier had said Islamabad could not guarantee there would not be more Mumbai-like attacks.

The statement quoted Gilani as saying that "Pakistan is committed to peace in the region and, in this context, his government is making sincere efforts to resume the composite dialogue process with India."

While in India, Gates had warned that Pakistan-based militants with links to al-Qaida were planning strikes in India with the hope that retaliation would lead to a new conflict between the two countries. Gates also said that New Delhi might not show restraint as it had after the Mumbai attacks in 2008.

According to the official statement, Gilani "regretted that the response from (India) has not been encouraging."

"The relations between India and Pakistan should not become hostage to the activities of terrorists which (are) the common enemy. For lasting peace in the region, both countries should resolve the core issues, including Kashmir and water dispute," he said.

India put the composite dialogue with Pakistan on hold in the wake of the Mumbai attacks. It has linked the resumption of the peace process to Pakistan taking action against the perpetrators of the terrorist assault.

Though JuD chief Saeed was placed under house arrest shortly after the Mumbai attacks in 2008, he was freed on the orders of the Lahore High Court last year.

The government is yet to challenge his release in the supreme court despite a pledge to do so.

Contrary to Gilani's statements during his meeting with Gates, the Pakistan government has not issued any formal notification banning the JuD, which has been declared a front for the outlawed LeT by the UN Security Council.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Pak-cant-guarantee-against-repeat-of-26/11-in-India-Gilani-to-US/articleshow/5489140.cms

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Pak lawmakers condemn Gates for 26/11-attack statement

January 22, 2010,

Islamabad: Pakistani lawmakers, particularly from the Pakistan Muslim League-N (PML-N), have condemned US Defense Secretary Robert Gates for his statement that it would be hard to prevent India

from attacking Pakistan if 26/11-type terror attack is repeated in future.

Speaking in the National Assembly, PML-N Senator Raja Zafar-ul-Haq termed Gates's remarks as a conspiracy against Pakistan.

"In future international players or Indian separatist elements could carry out Mumbai-like attacks, which would provide India with an opportunity to blame Pakistan," The Nation quoted Haq, as saying.

The lawmakers urged the Government to raise the issue with Gates and compel him to retract.

Addressing the Lower House, Interior Minister Rehman Malik said Pakistan had time and again asked India to provide it with a dossier about elements involved in the Samjhota Express attack, but it had received no response.

"India itself would be responsible for any future incident if it continued the practice of not sharing information with Pakistan," Malik said. (ANI)

http://news.oneindia.in/2010/01/22/paklawmakers-condemn-gates-for-2611-attack-statement.html

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Terror attack will impact Indo-Pak ties: Krishna

Imran Qureshi

January 22, 2010

External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna on Friday warned Pakistan that any terror attack on India would seriously impact relations between the two countries.

 Reacting to Pakistan Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani's statement that Islamabad couldn't guarantee against a repeat of the 26/11 attacks, Krishna said: "India has been appreciated for its tolerance and statesmanship in the aftermath of the 26/11 strikes. But any repeat of such attacks will have serious repercussions on bilateral ties. Let there be no mistake about this."

 Krishna said India will defend its sovereignty with full strength. "We want cordial relations with Pakistan but such statements raise questions about the motives of the Pakistani government," he said.

 'No govt hand in IPL row'

Krishna reiterated that the Indian government had no role in the IPL auctions that saw the teams boycotting all the Pakistani players available.

 The boycott has blown into a diplomatic row with voices in Pakistan calling for a tit-for-tat response.

 "The Indian government doesn't figure anywhere in IPL," Krishna said.

 Reacting to Pakistani cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan's criticism of the boycott, Krishna said: "We know cricket binds people. Imran need not tell us that."

 The minister said Imran should instead advise his own government about better relations. "The Indian government is ever willing to have any kind of exchanges, except terrorist exchanges," Krishna said.

Source: Headlines Today 

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India's patience thinning; Pak must act against terror: Antony

New Delhi

India today asked Pakistan to take "strong, convincing" action against perpetrators of the Mumbai terror attacks, saying unless they were brought to book, it will remain impatient.

It also asked the US to advise Pakistan to dismantle the terror infrastructure and to stop use of its soil by terrorist groups to carry out attacks inside India, adding the government and the people did not want any confrontation with the neighbouring countries, but it would be difficult to move forward unless Pakistan acted.

"Unless Government of Pakistan takes action against the involved in the heinous acts of 26/11 Strong, convincing action to dismantle the terrorist outfits across the border, Indian people will be always impatient," Antony told reporters on the sidelines of the NCC Republic Day Parade Camp here.

He was responding to queries regarding US Defence Secretary Robert Gates' remarks that it would "not be unreasonable to assume that India's patience will be limited were there to be further attacks" such as the 26/11 and if such patience would wear out in case of another terror attack.

"What he told yesterday, I also told him that our people are becoming impatient. So you please advise Pakistan. They must act against those involved in terrorist activities such as 26/11 and also almost all these terrorist outfits operating across the border.They are still very active," he said.Antony said after 26/11, there were many attempts to "create turbulence, tension" inside India from various quarters and that the government was aware that more attempts would be made in the future too.

"Luckily we were able to fail all their attempts. These things are nothing new. We know very well that there will be numerous attempts by our enemies to repeat what happened in the past. But eternal vigilance is necessary. We are taking whatever is humanly possible actions.

So far we are lucky to prevent and defeat their attempts," he said. "Unless Pakistan takes action on these two fronts (punishing 26/11 perpetrators and dismantling terror infrastructure), forward movement is difficult," Antony said.

The Indian government and people were not interested in confrontation with any neighbouring country, he said.

"We know very well, we can change friends, but we cannot change our neighbours. So we have to live in peace with our neighbours. So our aim, wish to be friendly with our neighbouring countries," he added.

There were half-a-dozen "serious type" of attempts to infiltrate into India in January alone, he said adding, the assessment was that both the "terrorists and their masters" had "consciously decided" to increase the infiltration bids.

"They (terrorists and their masters) knew very well the situation in Kashmir is improving, normalcy is returning and the number of violent incidents is going down. So we expect more infiltration," he added.

http://www.dailypioneer.com/230868/Indias-patience-thinning;-Pak-must-act-against-terror-Antony.html

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US rules out facilitating Indo-Pak dialogue

Jan 22 2010

The US defence secretary Mr Robert Gates on Friday ruled out the possibility of his country playing a role in facilitating the resumption of the composite dialogue between Pakistan and India, which has been stalled since the 2008 Mumbai attacks.

"I have been involved with both these countries for a very long time...and I think one thing that has been consistent throughout the past several decades is that both Pakistan and India would prefer to deal with their bilateral problems bilaterally," Mr Gates said.

He was replying to a question during a television interview on whether the US would be willing to assist in the resumption of the composite dialogue, which was put on hold by India after attacks in Mumbai by Pakistan-based terrorists killed nearly 180 people.

Mr Gates pointed out that he, like other American leaders who had visited the region over the past few decades, had said that: "if we could be of help to either side or both sides in any way, we would be willing to do that but understand that they (Pakistan and India) would prefer to handle it bilaterally."

He described Al-Qaeda and Lashker-e-Tayyaba, blamed for the Mumbai attacks, as dangerous groups. India, Pakistan and Afghanistan had a "shared sense of threat" and "all of these countries share an enemy in common and it is terrorism," he said.

Asked about his recent comments that there were links between Islamabad and militants, Mr Gates declined to go into specifics and only said the US is confident that the

"Pakistan government understands our concerns and understands we face a common threat."

He said he was "very comfortable with the partnership that we have going forward in dealing with this common extremist threat."

Mr Gates said the "trust deficit" between the US and Pakistan was "not a current or contemporary development" and was the "outgrowth of decisions made by the US in 1989 and early 1990s" when it turned its back on Afghanistan after the end of the war against Soviet forces.

"Our perception is that if there is a trust deficit, it is more a function of Pakistan’s concern whether the US is actually a long-term ally and partner for Pakistan," he said. One purpose of his current visit to Islamabad is to tell Pakistan that "we know we made a mistake in 1989 and the early 1990s and we are determined to be a reliable long-term partner and ally for Pakistan."

Mr Gates dismissed as "nonsense" media reports about the US planning to secure Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal in the event of a takeover by militants.

"We have no intention or desire to take over any of Pakistan nuclear weapons. We have no desire to occupy any part of Pakistan or split up any part of Pakistan," he said. "We are very comfortable with the security of Pakistan's nuclear weapons," he added.

Asked if the US knew the whereabouts of Al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden, Gates replied: "I have no idea. If I knew where he was, he wouldn’t be there any longer."

http://www.deccanchronicle.com/international/us-rules-out-facilitating-indo-pak-dialogue-726

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Pakistan 'wants unarmed drones'

22 January 2010

The United States may provide Pakistan with a dozen unarmed drone aircraft to help strengthen its fight against the Taliban, US defence officials say.

Defence Secretary Robert Gates told a Pakistani television channel that the plan was being considered.

The use of armed drones by US forces in strikes against militants in Pakistan has led to huge anti-American feeling.

On Thursday, Pakistan's president said people would be less critical if drones were used by Pakistani troops.

Hundreds of people - many of them militants, but many more civilians - have died in attacks by armed drones in tribal areas of Pakistan where al-Qaeda and Taliban militants are believed to operate.

'Useful'

"There are some tactical UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles) that we are considering, yes," Mr Gates said in an interview with a Pakistani television channel.

"I'm not going to discuss operations but I will say this: these unmanned aerial vehicles have been extremely useful to us, both in Iraq and in Afghanistan," the defence secretary told Express TV.

The Associated Press news agency quoted unnamed US officials as saying that Mr Gates was referring to a proposed deal for 12 Shadow aircraft - unarmed drones.

The Shadow drones are smaller than the armed Predator and Reaper aircraft.

They come equipped with sensors and cameras feeding video images back to operators on the ground and are used for reconnaissance and intelligence-gathering.

Gates 'impressed'

Earlier on Thursday Pakistan's President Asif Ali Zardari took up the issue of drone attacks with Mr Gates, Pakistan's Dawn newspaper reported on Friday.

The president said that it undermined the national consensus against the war on militancy and called for creating a mechanism whereby the drones were used by Pakistan's security forces rather than by foreign troops, Dawn quoted a presidential spokesman as saying.

The president said that when Pakistan's security forces employed high-tech in the war it had no negative fallout.

"If our own security forces possess drones it will be a more helpful high-tech weapon of war than when it is used by foreign forces," Mr Zardari said.

The US defence secretary - who is on a two-day visit to Pakistan - met President Zardari and Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani on Thursday.

He is due to address a gathering of Pakistan's military on Friday.

Mr Gates told reporters that he was deeply impressed with Pakistan's military offensive against militants within its borders.

He said he would leave it to Pakistan's leadership to decide whether or when to expand the fight.

On Thursday, Pakistan's army spokesman Athar Abbas told the BBC the "overstretched" military had no plans for any fresh anti-militant operations over the next 12 months.

A BBC correspondent in Islamabad said the comments were a clear snub to Washington, which would like Pakistan to expand an offensive against militants launching cross-border attacks in Afghanistan.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/8473900.stm

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Militants warn Mehsuds against returning home

By Ismail Khan

22 Jan, 2010

PESHAWAR: Thousands of Mehsud people who have left their native towns because of the ongoing military operation have been warned by militants not to return to South Waziristan.

A pamphlet circulated by the Mehsud chapter of Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan has asked the tribesmen to avoid returning to the territory for their own safety, because of the fighting taking place there.

The displaced Mehsuds — numbering 293,000 according to UN estimates — find themselves in a bind as the government also has imposed conditions which they will have to meet before being allowed to go home.

The pamphlet also asked Khasadars, a tribal police force, and contractors belonging to the Mehsud tribe to avoid serving on pickets and bringing in machinery and labour into the territory.

“The decisions,” it said, “had been taken for the protection of life, honour and property of the Mehsud tribe.”

Uneasy over prospects of Mehsuds’ capitulation to the government, the TTP leadership has circulated handbills in the last two weeks, hoping that they would not succumb to pressures and continue to support them.

As if this was not enough, a bewildered Mehsud tribal jirga has been told by the political administration that unless they met four key conditions their return to South Waziristan would be ‘nigh impossible’.

The four demands handed down to the 400-strong jirga of Mehsud tribal elders are:

• Unconditional surrender of 392 Mehsud militants, including the TTP chief Hakimullah Mehsud;

• Guarantee that they would not allow parallel administrative and judicial system in their territory;

• Change their rivaj (value) system to deny sanctuary to foreigners and any person from the settled districts wanted by the state, except those who seek protection because of tribal feuds, and;

• There will be no heavy weapons in the area.

A senior administration official said it was heartening to note that the tribal jirga had met despite TTP’s warnings.

“We thought they would be too scared to come to the jirga. But they did come and in good number,” a senior official said.

The jirga, he said, supported the military operation “as inevitable” and endorsed all conditions as per the local rivaj.

But the tribal elders said they would be in a position to meet the government’s demands only when they went back home.

“They are smart people,” the official said. “We told them we want them to give us guarantees and working mechanism. They have to tell us how they would ensure the implementation of those conditions. They have to do that we can trust them,” the official said.

The general plan, according to the official, was to start the process of repatriating Mehsuds by April.

But repatriation would have to be put on hold to pressurise Mehsuds to agree to the conditions and come up with a workable implementation plan.

Traditionally, Mehsuds migrate to Tank and Dera Ismail Khan to escape biting cold in the rugged mountainous area and return home by spring.

But with repatriation uncertain, the displaced Mehsuds, who are either living with their relatives or in rented houses, are in a quandary.

http://www.dawn.com/wps/wcm/connect/dawn-content-library/dawn/the-newspaper/front-page/13+militants-warn-mehsuds-against-returning-home-210-za-08

 

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Statement by Muslim leaders

1.WHAT ISLAM STANDS FOR:-

Islam, as we all know, is a complete and perfect way of life which addresses all aspect of Human life.  Islam means submission to the will of Allah (SWT) as Muslims we submit to non except Allah (the Supreme)

Whatever we do, we should seek guidance from the teachings of our religion.

As much as Islam lays emphasis on strengthening the relationship between a human being and his Creator, it also seeks to guide us on how to deal with each other as human beings whether Muslims or non-Muslims.

2. ISLAM AND JUSTICE

One of the guiding principles of Islam is that we should always strife to do justice to all.  Allah (S.W.T) tells us that “doing justice is closest to piety”.  Hence you cannot claim to be pious if you do not do just to all, even to people who may hold a different view.

Further, Islam does not condone oppression, (i.e. dhulm).  This includes oppression to others or even to your own self.  The guiding principle is that “Do not oppress others” nor accept to be oppressed.”

In this regard, the Prophet (S.A.W) says “Rescue your brother regardless of whether he is the oppressor (by holding him back) or the oppressed.”  Thus Islam does not condone oppression whatsoever not withstanding that the oppressor is a fellow Muslim or a blood relative.

3.ISLAM AND LEADERSHIP

In Islam, leadership is not considered an honour but a responsibility that we shall be answerable for. Each one of us is answerable to Allah (SWT) for whatever positions of responsibility we hold.

The Prophet (S.A.W) says “All of you are guardians and each of you is answerable for his guardianship”.  Hence we should take responsibility for our actions in whatever capacity we are in as we shall be answerable both in this world and the hereafter.

Full report at: http://www.capitalfm.co.ke/news/Kenyanews/Statement-by-Muslim-leaders-7200.html

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Turkey police arrest 120 al-Qaeda suspects

22 January 2010

Turkish police have arrested 120 al-Qaeda suspects in a major nationwide anti-terror operation, reports say.

The arrests were made in co-ordinated pre-dawn raids in 16 provinces, said the state-run Anatolia news agency.

Those detained include an alleged militant recruiter who worked at a university in the eastern city of Van, Anatolia quoted police as saying.

It added the raids came after police seized documents disclosing details of extremist militant activity in Turkey.

Friday morning's raids netted weapons, fake identity cards and camouflage clothing, unnamed police officials said, adding that those detained included suspected senior al-Qaeda members.

The raids, which took place in cities including Ankara and Istanbul, came after 25 suspected al-Qaeda members were arrested in the country earlier this week.

Turkish police occasionally carry out such raids against other Islamist groups and suspected Kurdish militants.

Al-Qaeda has been held responsible for sporadic attacks in Turkey, such as multiple suicide bombings in Istanbul that killed 58 people in 2003.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/8474174.stm

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Afghan Taliban overhaul image in bid to win allies

Alissa J Rubin

22 January 2010

KABUL: The Taliban have embarked on a sophisticated information war, using modern media tools as well as some old-fashioned ones, to soften their image and win favor with local Afghans as they try to counter the Americans’ new campaign to win Afghan hearts and minds.

The Taliban’s spiritual leader, Mullah Muhammad Omar, issued a lengthy directive late last spring outlining a new code of conduct for the Taliban. The dictates include bans on suicide bombings against civilians, burning down schools, or cutting off ears, lips and tongues.

The code, which has been spottily enforced, does not necessarily mean a gentler insurgency. Although the Taliban warned some civilians away before the assault on the heart of Kabul on Monday, they were still responsible for three-quarters of civilian casualties last year, according to the UN.

Now, as the Taliban deepen their presence in Afghanistan, they are in greater need of popular support and are recasting themselves increasingly as a local liberation movement, independent of al-Qaida, capitalizing on the mounting frustration of Afghans with their government and the presence of foreign troops. The effect has been to make them more potent, Nato officials said.

Afghan villagers and some Nato officials added that the code had begun to change the way some midlevel Taliban commanders and their followers behaved on the ground. A couple of the most brutal commanders have even been removed by Mullah Omar.

The Taliban’s public relations operation is also increasingly efficient at putting out its message and often works faster than Nato’s. “The Afghan adaptation to counterinsurgency makes them much more dangerous,” said a Nato intelligence official here. “Their overarching goals haven’t changed much since 2001, but when we arrived with a new counterinsurgency strategy, they responded with one of their own.”

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/south-asia/Afghan-Taliban-overhaul-image-in-bid-to-win-allies/articleshow/5486381.cms

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Will be impatient till Pak acts against 26/11 planners, says Antony

New Delhi

India will remain impatient till Pakistan takes ‘strong and convincing’ action against perpetrators of Mumbai terror attacks, Union Defence Minister AK Antony said here on Thursday.

Adopting a tough stand, Antony also said he has asked visiting US Defence Secretary Robert Gates on Wednesday to advise Pakistan to dismantle the terrorist infrastructure on its soil.

The Minister said this when asked about Gates’ remarks that India’s patience will not be unlimited if an attack like 26/11 took place again.

“What he told yesterday (Wednesday), I also told him that our people are becoming impatient. So you please advise Pakistan. They must act against those involved in terrorist activities such as 26/11 and also almost all these terrorist outfits operating across the border,” Antony said while talking to reporters at the NCC Republic Day camp.

Asking Pakistan to take ‘strong and convincing’ action against the perpetrators of the Mumbai terror attacks, he said unless they were brought to book, people in Indian would remain impatient.

He said the Government and the people of India did not want any confrontation with its neighbouring countries, but it would be difficult to move forward unless Pakistan acted.

“We know very well we can change friends, but we cannot change our neighbours. So we have to live in peace with our neighbours. So our aim is to be friendly with our neighbouring countries,” he said.

As regards the situation in J&K, Antony said there were half-a-dozen ‘serious type’ of attempts to infiltrate into India in January alone and the assessment was that both the ‘terrorists and their masters’ had ‘consciously decided’ to increase the infiltration bids.

http://www.dailypioneer.com/230986/Will-be-impatient-till-Pak-acts-against-26/11-planners-says-Antony.html

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US to mobilise India, China, others to stabilise Af-Pak

Lalit K Jha,

January 22, 2010

Washington: The Obama Administration on Friday said it is working to build "the broadest possible global coalition" comprising countries like India, China and Russia to bring stability to Afghanistan and Pakistan by helping them tackle the extremist threat and meet needs of their people.

"To achieve our objectives in Afghanistan and Pakistan in support of our core goal, we are working to build the broadest possible global coalition to help Afghanistan and Pakistan become more stable and prosperous so that they can withstand the extremist threat and meet the most important needs of their people," said the Office of the Special US Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan.

In a 39-page policy document 'Afghanistan and Pakistan: Regional Stabilisation Strategy', it said this coalition would contribute increased civilian and military resources, pursue efforts to build legitimate trade and economic activity, curb illicit financial flows and provide critical political support.

"Our objectives are shared by the people and governments of Afghanistan and Pakistan and by people around the world, from Europe to Australia, from Russia to China to India, and across the Middle East ... (which) face a common threat from al-Qaeda," said the document, which was released by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton days before the crucial London meet on Afghanistan and Pakistan later this month.

"There are now 43 ISAF (International Security Assistance Force) allies and partners and more than 84,000 US and international troops working together in Afghanistan," it said.

http://www.hindustantimes.com/world-news/world/US-to-mobilise-India-China-others-to-stabilise-Af-Pak/Article1-500472.aspx

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‘It’s difficult writing a Pakistan novel’

Mayank Austen Soofi

January 22, 2010

In a black leather jacket and black trousers, Ali Sethi spoke as theatrically as any Bollywood star. The 26-year-old novelist from Lahore declared thunderously: “It’s difficult writing a novel on a country that is so extremely divided on class, gender and urban-rural lines.”

On the panel, ‘Coming of Age’, novelist Esther Freud, short story writer Jaspreet Singh and Sethi talked about their first works and dwelled on “childhood influences.” Sethi also read from his novel, The Wish Maker. He wants to attend  Kashmiri writer Basharat Peer’s session. “I’ve grown up listening to the Lashkar-e-Taiba perspective on Kashmir. Now I want the story from a Kashmiri’s perspective.”

Five years ago, Sethi started learning Hindustani classical music from his neighbour ghazal singer Farida Khannum. Later in the festival, he’ll be singing some verses of the Urdu poet Faiz.

http://www.hindustantimes.com/News-Feed/books/It-s-difficult-writing-a-Pakistan-novel/Article1-500314.aspx

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‘Where are the Vedic texts?’

Rajiv Arora

January 22, 2010

As far as divine opening sessions go, things couldn’t have started better. In conversation with fellow mythologist and author of The Pregnant King and 7 Secrets of Hindu Calendar Art Devdutt Pattanaik, Roberto Calasso brought good cheer for worshippers and unbelievers alike.

The session, ‘Literature and the Gods’, taken from Calasso’s bestselling 2001 book of essays of the same name, invoked one single question: ‘What is God?’ “Who and if are for people, not for gods,” said Calasso emphatically. Pattanaik believes otherwise. “God is an idea which has been given a form,” he countered.

Calasso and India go back a long way. The 66-year-old writer is a regular visitor to this country, his novel Ka being hailed as one of the best introductions to Hindu mythology. Calasso is what he’s supposed to be: brimming with the myth-(re)teller’s admiration for the Upanishads and the Vedic traditions.

However, Calasso is “frustrated”. He finds the lack of essential texts on Vedic culture being available a scandal. For him these texts are special. “It’s a shock of recognition how men could think in a way [that’s] so different than what we see and believe in today… In India, there’s a strong tendency to discover the sources of this place. The access, however, is difficult.”

The Milan writer firmly believes in the concept of manas — the mind (“the god before the gods”) — an integral part of the Vedic texts. He feels that it lies at the core of our understanding of myths too, irrespective of whether it’s from modern India or ancient Greece.

http://www.hindustantimes.com/News-Feed/books/Where-are-the-Vedic-texts/Article1-500313.aspx

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SPO held for selling Chinese pistol to LeT man

22 January 2010

JAMMU: A Special Police Officer and five others have been arrested for allegedly selling a Chinese pistol to a militant in Doda district of Jammu and Kashmir. The police are on the look-out for another policeman.

On a tip-off, the police arrested five Lashkar-e-Taiba workers at Doda two days ago, Senior Superintendent of Police Prabhat Singh said on Thursday. After their interrogation, SPO Mohmmad Nawaz was arrested. D.K. Singh, a head constable, sold a “recovered” Chinese pistol to the militant through Mohmmad Nawaz and the five LeT workers three years ago. — PTI

http://www.hindu.com/2010/01/22/stories/2010012258880100.htm

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More names on Iraq election ban

22 January 2010

Iraq's election commission chief has said more candidates are likely to be banned from running in parliamentary elections on 7 March.

A committee has already barred more than 500 candidates.

Commission chief Faraj al-Haidari said the number of Sunni and Shia candidates on the list is roughly equal.

The disqualifications have caused a political storm. US Vice-President Joe Biden is set to arrive in Iraq to try and ease tensions.

Mr Haidari said the additional names could include people with criminal records and former military personnel who allegedly used forged documents.

On Thursday Iraq's President Jalal Talabani asked the country's Supreme Court to decide whether the disqualifications were legal, as they have not been approved by parliament.

The decision was made by the Accountability and Justice Commission, a body responsible for ensuring the Baath party, once led by Saddam Hussein, does not make a comeback in Iraqi politics.

Some candidates have been banned for alleged ties to the Baath party.

An official list of those barred has not been published but leaked reports suggest it includes several prominent Sunni Arab politicians.

Some question the motive for the disqualifications and fear it will stoke up sectarian tensions. Many Sunni Arabs boycotted the last parliamentary election in 2005.

The 7 March election is regarded as a crucial test for Iraq's national reconciliation process and ahead of a planned US military withdrawal in stages.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/8474480.stm

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Straw opposed regime change in Iraq

Hasan Suroor

LONDON: The former Foreign Secretary, Jack Straw, on Thursday confirmed that the Blair administration was deeply divided at the highest level over invading Iraq in the absence of inconvertible evidence that Saddam Hussein posed a real threat to world peace.

Giving testimony to the Iraq Inquiry, Mr. Straw said that he made his opposition clear to Tony Blair, the then Prime Minister, in no uncertain terms and told him that he regarded regime change as a “foreign policy objective” not only “improper” but also “self-evidently unlawful.”

Asked whether Mr Blair shared his view, he avoided a direct reply and said: “The best way (is) to find out from himself.”

Pressed further he acknowledged that Mr. Blair had a different view but added: “It is no great surprise to know that people at senior levels in government hold different views and debate those. What I had to offer the Prime Minister was my best judgment and my loyalty.”

‘Most difficult decision’

Mr. Straw suggested that his decision to back the invasion was prompted by his loyalty to Mr. Blair but said it was the “most difficult decision” he had ever taken.

He also admitted that the failure to find any weapons of mass destruction had “undermined trust” in Britain.

“The question of whether to go to war has… been one of the most divisive, certainly in my political lifetime. It made many people very angry at the time, and subsequently. That and the failure to find any WMD [weapons of mass destruction] has undermined trust,” he said in a 8000-word memorandum to the inquiry.

http://www.hindu.com/2010/01/22/stories/2010012261181500.htm

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Dr Khan faces threat to his life: Malik

By Syed Irfan Raza

22 Jan, 2010

ISLAMABAD: The government has once again put restrictions on Dr A.Q. Khan’s movements. However, the nuclear scientist has refused to obey the government order.

“His life is under threat and we cannot take risks. Therefore, his movements… are being restricted,” Interior Minister Rehman Malik told reporters after presiding over a high-level meeting on the issue on Thursday.

The minister said the government had stepped up the security of Dr Khan and other leading nuclear scientists after recent incidents of kidnapping and killing of scientists in neighbouring countries.

The meeting, held on the directives of Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, was attended by federal minister for information, minister for law and justice, interior secretary, director-general of the Strategic Plans Division, chief commissioner of Islamabad and other senior officials.

“The security of our nuclear assets and personnel is very important... Therefore, various measures were discussed to ensure foolproof security of Dr Khan and other scientists,” the interior minister said.

Talking to Dawn, Dr Khan condemned any move to restrict his movements. He said the Lahore High Court had already asked the government not to stop him from moving outside his house.  “The government is committing contempt of court by doing this,” he said.

He said the authorities had tried last week to stop him from proceeding to Rawalpindi Bar Council to address lawyers, but failed to do so.

“Some officials of the local administration and security departments came to my house when I was about to leave for Rawalpindi and asked me not to move outside, but they left when I warned them that I will make a call to Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry and apprise him of the situation,” Dr Khan said.

He said he would continue to move about at any cost because he had already spent six years under house arrest.

http://www.dawn.com/wps/wcm/connect/dawn-content-library/dawn/the-newspaper/

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Lahore HC postpones judgment on Lakhvi

Jan 22 2010

 The Lahore High Court (LHC) has reserved its verdict on a petition moved by Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi, the mastermind of the November 2008 Mumbai terror attacks, seeking transfer of his trial from the Rawalpindi anti-terrorism court (ATC) to Lahore.

Lakhvi, through his counsel, had filed a petition in the court, stating that his life was in danger from Indian intelligence personnel.

It may be noted that the Rawalpindi anti-terrorism court (ATC) is holding an in-camera trial in the Adiala jail due to security reasons.

Lakhvi, has also filed another petition pleading that proceedings against him should be quashed and he should be acquitted on grounds that there is no evidence or witness to prove his involvement in the ghastly terror attack in Mumbai.

Seven Lashkar operatives including Lakhvi, communications expert Zarar Shah, Abu al-Qama, Hamad Amin Sadiq and Shahid Jamil Riaz are being tried by the anti-terrorism court.

http://www.deccanchronicle.com/international/lahore-hc-postpones-judgment-lakhvi-730

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Frustration fuels acts of hatred

MIRANDA DEVINE

January 23, 2010

 

The 23-year-old Nigerian charged with trying to detonate a bomb on a Northwest Airlines flight over Detroit on Christmas Day was lonely and sexually repressed, according to messages left on an Islamic website.

As a US Senate Homeland Security committee continued to argue this week about how to handle Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the emotional anguish in his web posts provides an insight into fanatical Islam and what drives often hapless young men to become suicide bombers. Much as we would like them to be, they are not monsters.

Being the son of a wealthy banker, and living in London, Abdulmutallab had no real beef with Western life, did not complain about racism or express concern for downtrodden Muslim brothers.

But, like the September 11 bombers, who visited strip clubs before their date with destiny, when his devout religious beliefs conflicted with his corporeal desires, he found that blowing himself up along with a whole lot of infidels was preferable to being sexually frustrated.

As the New York Post put it: "The bomb wasn't the only thing burning in his pants."

On the Islamic Forum of the Gawaher website in 2005 and 2006 were more than 300 posts by Farouk1986 - Abdulmutallab's middle name and birth year.

Under the heading: "I think I feel lonely," Farouk1986 complains he has never found "a true Muslim friend".

"As I get lonely, the natural sexual drive awakens and I struggle to control it, sometimes leading to minor sinful activities like not lowering the gaze.

"And this problem makes me want to get married to avoid getting aroused … but I am only 18.'' In another post, he writes ''the hair of a woman can easily arouse a man''.

He also writes of "my dilemma between liberalism and extremism … how should one put the balance right?"

He talks at one point about his fantasies: ''The bad part of it is sometimes the fantasies are a bit worldly rather than concentrating in the hereafter.''

He tries instead to focus on more acceptable "jihad fantasies''.

''I imagine how the great jihad will take place, how the Muslims will win Insha'Allah and rule the whole world, and establish the greatest empire once again!!!"

As the youngest of 16 children and the son of his father's No. 2 wife, he reportedly spent most of his childhood at an English boarding school in West Africa. The trajectory to extreme violence of this gentle, pious young man who wanted so much to be good and consequential, and yet was consumed with guilt about sex, fits with much of what is known about other Islamist suicide bombers.

Perhaps the best psychological explanation comes from United in Hate: The Left's Romance with Tyranny and Terror, the recent book by Jamie Glazov, the managing editor of FrontPage Magazine.

Full report at: http://www.smh.com.au/opinion/politics/frustration-fuels-acts-of-hatred-20100122-mqq2.html

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Hamas not for Israel’s destruction’

Mohammed Mar’i | Arab News

RAMALLAH: A senior Hamas official has denied that his movement calls for the destruction of Israel.

Spokesman for Hamas’ parliamentary bloc Salah El-Bardawil said in a press statement on Thursday that the party is simply concerned with restoring the rights of Palestinians.

“There is a difference between the restoration of Palestinian rights and the destruction of Israel,” he added.

“We will not talk with the Israelis, but only with those who planted Israel in our region. We want the international forces that had planted this entity in our region to address the sin against the Palestinians.”

El-Bardawil was responding to remarks from Aziz Dwaik, Hamas’ most senior representative in the West Bank, who said that the movement had accepted Israel’s right to exist and would be prepared to nullify its charter, which according to him was drafted over 20 years ago.

Dwaik is the elected speaker for the Palestinian Legislative Council. He was released a few months ago after spending nearly three years in an Israeli prison.

“No one wants to throw anyone into the sea,” the Israeli daily Jerusalem Post quoted Dwaik as saying on Wednesday.

Dwaik was speaking during a meeting held in Hebron with British millionaire David Martin Abrahams, who maintains close ties with senior Israeli and British government officials.

The Post’s report claimed that Abrahams is scheduled to brief British Foreign Secretary David Miliband this weekend on the outcome of his meeting with Dwaik and other top Hamas officials in the West Bank.

Abrahams, a major donor to the governing Labour Party in Britain, told the paper he would urge Miliband to consider the implications of Hamas’ apparent change of heart.

Dwaik also stressed that other Hamas leaders, including Damascus-based leader Khaled Mishaal and Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh, have voiced support for the idea of establishing an independent Palestinian state within the pre-1967 boundaries.

Dwaik also expressed Hamas’ desire to engage in dialogue with the international community, particularly the European Union.

He confirmed that Hamas was receiving financial aid from Iran, but said that this was the direct result of a boycott and sanctions against the movement.

Abrahams said that he would be happy to facilitate a dialogue between Hamas and the international community, including Israel. He said he was “very excited” to hear from a senior Hamas leader in the West Bank that the movement would be prepared to change its position.

“The fact that there is a possibility for the recognition of Israel is a symbolic gesture,” Abrahams added.

“We can all look for good in people and we can all look for bad in people. I always look for the good.”

Asked whether he might be condemned as naïve for believing Hamas, Abrahams said: “People might say that I’m naïve, so let them. But I’m prepared to give them (Hamas) a chance because I’ve got faith and confidence in Dwaik and Haniyeh. We can’t allow 1.5 million (people) to be festering in the Gaza Strip while the majority of them are good and well-educated.”

Abrahams said that his decision to engage with Hamas was aimed at “preventing bloodshed on both sides.” http://www.arabnews.com/?page=4&section=0&article=131642&d=22&m=1&y=2010&pix=world.jpg&category=World

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Palestinians reject Tel Aviv presence in future state

22 January 2010

Palestinians walk next to a billboard in Ramallah on Thursday that says in Arabic: “A year for Obama, what changed?” US special envoy to the Middle East George Mitchell will meet Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Friday. (EPA)                

RAMALLAH: The Palestinians on Thursday rejected the idea of an Israeli presence on the eastern border of their future state, which was mooted by Israel’s hawkish prime minister.

“The Palestinian leadership will not accept the presence of a single Israeli soldier in the Palestinian territories after the end of the occupation,” Nabil Abu Rudeina, spokesman for President Mahmoud Abbas, told AFP.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday said Israel would patrol the eastern border of any future state to prevent the smuggling of weapons, especially rockets like those fired from the Gaza Strip and Lebanon.

“The ability to proliferate into contiguous areas thousands of rockets and missiles ... is something that creates a monumental security problem,” he told foreign reporters in Jerusalem.

But the Palestinians said they would insist on the full sovereignty of any future state. “We will not accept anything less than a completely sovereign Palestinian state on all the territories with its own borders, resources and air space,” Abu Rudeina said.

“We will not accept any Israeli presence, either military or civilian, on our land, and we will not accept that our state be under Israeli protection.”

Abu Rudeina added that Netanyahu’s insistence on an Israeli border guard would “place more obstacles in the way of restarting peace talks.”

The dispute erupted as US Middle East envoy George Mitchell made his latest in a series of visits to the region aimed at convincing both sides to relaunch negotiations suspended during last year’s Gaza war.

Mitchell met Israeli officials on Thursday. The US envoy and Defense Minister Ehud Barak “talked of the measures that are needed to move forward the political process with the Palestinians,” the ministry said in a statement. The US envoy also met Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman and Prime Minister Netanyahu. He is scheduled to meet Abbas on Friday (today).

“This visit (by Mitchell) is an attempt to save what remains of the peace process, which Israel has paralyzed,” Abu Rudeina said.

“This is because of Israel’s refusal to completely halt settlements in all the Palestinian territories occupied in 1967, especially in Jerusalem, which we consider a red line in any negotiations,” he added.

“There is no Palestinian state without Jerusalem.”

Full report at:

http://www.arabnews.com/?page=4&section=0&article=131641&d=22&m=1&y=2010

 

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