New Age Islam
Thu Apr 18 2024, 06:47 AM

Islamic World News ( 20 Dec 2022, NewAgeIslam.Com)

Comment | Comment

‘Radicalised Islamists’ Of Tablighi Jamaat Killed Amravati Man Over the Dishonour of Prophet Mohammad: NIA Chargesheet

New Age Islam News Bureau

20 December 2022

 

Representative image. Credit: iStock Photo

-----

• Indonesian Call For Religious Reform Challenges Muslim Autocracy

• Pakistan Enrols One Million Non-Muslim Voters In Four Years

• UN Says Israel’s Expulsion Of French-Palestinian Lawyer Is A ‘War Crime’

• Constructive Dialogue Between India & Pakistan For The Betterment Of Their People: US Reiterates

 

India

• Pakistan issues 96 visas to Hindus for Shree Katas Raj Temple visit

• DCW issues notice to Delhi Police after Muslim teenager alleges forced marriage, domestic abuse

• Three Lashkar-e-Toiba ultras killed in Shopian encounter

--------

Southeast Asia

• Indonesian priest’s social work earns Muslim award

• Malaysia’s PM Anwar cements leadership with early confidence vote win

• New Quran Memorization Centre Opened in Malaysia’s Sabah

--------

Pakistan

• Imran Khan Slams "Imported" Government For Taliban Attack In Northwest Pak

• TTP inmates hold Pakistan security men hostage after taking over police centre, 2 cops killed

• Bilawal Defends Remarks Against Modi, Says He Was ‘Referring To Historical Fact’

• Stalemate in talks continues as CTD centre in Bannu remains under militants’ control

• IB sub-inspector martyred in Peshawar attack

• Two officials martyred as held terrorists seize Bannu CTD building

--------

Europe

• Sweden Rejects Türkiye’s Request For Extradition Of Accused Terrorist, Bulent Kenes, A Suspected Member Of The Fetullah Terrorist Organization

• Germany urges Iran to show ‘political will’ to end stalemate over nuclear probe

• UN Chief Urges Afghan Taliban To Stop Terrorist Attacks Against Pakistan

• Danish government remains fixed on overturning EU minimum wage directives

• Germany supports Türkiye-Greece dialogue, spokesman says

--------

North America

• US accuses UN of yielding to Russian threats over Iran drone inquiry

--------

Arab World

• Lebanon Elects Sunni Muftis For First Time In 40 Years

• Latest Islamic State attack highlights security challenges facing Iraq

• Kurdish forces seize Islamic State militant in Syria as part of joint raid with U.S.

• Children among 547 detained Syrians declared dead: Rights group

• Body of Irish UNIFIL peacekeeper killed in Lebanon arrives home

• UAE delegation in Scotland to explore trade and renewable energy opportunities

• Israel launches fresh missile attack on Syrian capital in new act of aggression

--------

South Asia

• TTP Inmates Seize Police Centre in Pakistan, Demanding Safe Passage to Afghanistan

• Afghan survivors get new homes six months after deadly earthquake

• AIJA Organizes Afghanistan Independent Media Competition 2022

• Afghan MoD Engineers Repair 2 Military Aircraft

--------

Mideast

• Palestinian PM Urges UN Teams To Take Action Against Rise In Israeli Killings Of Palestinians

• Terrifying future awaits Saudi Arabia, allies over war on Yemen: Senior Ansarullah official

• UN reports highest number of fatalities in years in Israeli-Palestinian conflict

• Iran says Jordan summit ‘good opportunity’ for nuclear talks

• UN nuclear officials leave Iran after talks, result unclear

• Four Iranian security personnel killed in southeast Iran, IRNA says

• Israel’s Netanyahu accuses New York Times of ‘undermining’ incoming government

• Yemeni forces prepared to thwart US, Israeli plots against national resources, islands: Top council

• Palestinian youth dies of injuries sustained in Israeli attack in Jenin

--------

Africa

• Libya Court Sentences 17 Islamic State Members To Death

• Libya Finds New Mass Grave South Of Tripoli

• Handover of a Libyan suspect opens a new chapter in Lockerbie bombing horror story

• Sudan’s forces use tear gas, stun grenades to disperse rally against post-coup deal

• Three Jordanian police officers killed in raid on hideout of suspected killers of senior policeman

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau

URL:  https://newageislam.com/islamic-world-news/radicalised-islamists-tablighi-jamaat-prophet/d/128672

--------

‘Radicalised Islamists’ Of Tablighi Jamaat Killed Amravati Man Over the Dishonour of Prophet Mohammad: NIA Chargesheet

 

Representative image. Credit: iStock Photo

-----

Vidya

Dec 20, 2022

The National Investigation Agency (NIA), probing the Amravati killing, in its Chargesheet has claimed that the 11 accused were ‘radicalised Islamists’ of the Tablighi Jamaat. The Tablighi Jamaat is a transnational Deobandi Islamic missionary movement that focuses on exhorting Muslims to be more religiously observant.

54-year-old Amravati resident Umesh Kolhe, a pharmacist from Amravati in Maharashtra, was brutally murdered on June 21 by three assailants when he was returning from work, days after he had put up a post on WhatsApp in support of then BJP spokesperson Nupur Sharma, who had made controversial comments on Prophet Mohammed.

The NIA chargesheet revealed that he was murdered by 'radicalised Islamists of Tablighi Jamaat' to avenge the alleged dishonour of Prophet Mohammad.

The chargesheet was filed last week by NIA against 11 accused and it stated each of them were followers of Tablighi Jamaat, while claiming that one of the alleged masterminds, Irfan Khan, 'was a strict follower' of the Jamaat and its rules.

It said that Khan had become the president of an NGO, Rahebar Helpline, started during the Covid-19 lockdown to provide ambulances for needy and had become the organisation’s president with the help of the Jamaat’s followers and supporters.

TERROR ACT WELL-PLANNED, SAYS CHARGESHEET

During various arguments made in court during various stages of remand, it was argued that this was a simple case of murder. However, the NIA chargesheet stated, “The act committed by the accused is not just a simple murder but a terror act of a well-planned criminal conspiracy hatched by religiously radicalised Muslim youth to strike a terror into the minds of the people and section of people in Amravati and other states of India."

It added that the manner in which Kohle was murdered “shall send shivers down the spine of general population of this peace-loving, democratic country, who would never dare to speak up for what they think is right or wrong."

The agency stated the brutality of murdering a father in front of his son in a public space, “with proper planning and celebration after doing the act with an intention to strike terror in a large section of society, is a terrorist action, to say the least”.

“It was an act of terror, by a gang of radicalised men who wanted to make an example out of the victim’s murder. It was done in a manner that shall send shivers down the spine of the general population of this peace-loving democratic country, who would never dare to speak up, for what they think is right or wrong,” the chargesheet added.

The agency emphasised that the murder had caused riots in different places, terrorised people into leaving their jobs, and made many go into hiding and many to fear for their lives and security. Such terrorist action has put to question India’s integrity and its perseverance, it claimed.

Source: India Today

Please click the following URL to read the text of the original story:

https://www.indiatoday.in/india/story/radicalised-islamists-of-tablighi-jamaat-killed-amravati-pharmacist-over-prophet-remarks-nia-2311194-2022-12-20

--------

Indonesian Call For Religious Reform Challenges Muslim Autocracy

 

Indonesian Muslims recite the Quran in Masjid Istiqlal, Jakarta, Indonesia. Photo by Gunawan Kartapranata, Wikipedia Commons.

-----

DEC 18, 2022

At first glance, Islamic scholars discussing the religious legitimacy of the United Nations and the nation-state sounds esoteric. It’s not. On the contrary, it’s potentially revolutionary.

Religious scholars, led by Nahdlatul Ulama, the world’s largest and arguably most moderate Muslim civil society movement in the world’s largest Muslim-majority country and democracy, hope that the legitimization will counter notions of a caliphate and a transnational Islamic state as an alternative world order as advocated by militants such as Al Qaeda and the Islamic State.

If adopted, legitimization of the United Nations would make the UN charter with its references to “fundamental human rights…the dignity and worth of the human person, (and)…the equal rights of men and women” legally binding for its Muslim signatories, according to religious law.

In doing so, the religious legitimization would take substantial wind out of the sails of often whipped-up anti-Muslim sentiment that questions Muslim attitudes and loyalty towards the state.

That sentiment was, for example, evident when an anchor on India’s controversial Hindu nationalist, Hindi-language Z news recently asked whether “Muslims who sing the national anthem become kafirs.” The anchor was using the Arabic word for an infidel.

The effort to reform Islamic jurisprudence so that it embraces the concept of the nation-state, and the United Nations, is part of a sustained Nahdlatul Ulama effort to spark reform of Islamic jurisprudence and inspire other faiths to take a critical look at their potentially problematic tenants as a way of countering extremism and religiously inspired violence.

That’s where the revolutionary aspect kicks in.

Reform of Islamic jurisprudence challenges a key pillar of autocratic strategies in the Muslim world designed to ensure the survival of repressive regimes.

Muslim leaders, parroted by their Western counterparts, have for more than two decades since 9/11 insisted that Islam and Islamic jurisprudence need no reform. Instead, they assert that jihadis misrepresent and misconstrue the faith.

In doing so, autocrats drown out criticism of their brutal, repressive rule that brooks no dissent and potentially provokes violence.

Casting jihadists as deviants rather than products of problematic tenants of jurisprudence that justify violence stymies criticism of the justification of autocracy as a necessary means to combat violence and promote moderate Islam.

Even so, that may not be a popularly shared approach. In a poll, 56 per cent of Saudis surveyed said the government was not “paying attention to the opinions of ordinary citizens like me.”

Timed to coincide with the centennial of Nahdlatul Ulama according to the Muslim Hijri calendar, the scholars will gather in February in the Indonesian city of Surabaya under the auspices of the recently constituted Religion Forum 20, a Group of 20 engagement tack, to discuss an “Islamic jurisprudence for a global civilization.” The Group of 20 brings together the world’s largest economies.

Nahdlatul Ulama’s concept note for the Surabaya conference argues that “views that legitimize and encourage suspicion, segregation, discrimination, and even hostility and conflict towards those who bear the legal status of “infidels…are scattered throughout classical texts on Islamic jurisprudence (fiqh). These views…are still considered…credible…and should…be practiced to the present day. Muslim groups involved in conflict – including the use of violence and terror – defend their position by citing references from these classical fiqh texts.”

The concept note was bolstered by a Nahdlatul Ulama religious finding in 2019 that eliminated the category of the kafir or in Islamic law.

Potentially, the concept note will put on the spot some of the invited speakers, such as Muslim World League General Secretary Muhammad al-Issa, Forum for Promoting Peace in Muslim Societies President Abdallah bin Bayyah, Tabah Foundation head Habib al-Jufri, and Ahmad Al Tayyeb the Grand Iman of Al Azhar, the Muslim world’s foremost seat of Islamic learning.

These men represent autocratic regimes that insist that Islamic jurisprudence needs no reform.

Mr. Al-Issa’s League is Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s vehicle for propagating a socially liberal, politically repressive interpretation of Islam that demands absolute obedience to the ruler.

Messrs. Bin Bayyah and Al-Jufri serve the same purpose for United Arab Emirates President Mohammed bin Zayed. Mr. Al-Tayyeb’s Al Azhar is subservient to the government of Egyptian President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi and supported by the two Gulf monarchies.

Religious legitimization of the United Nations and the concept of a nation-state could have far-reaching consequences for the order of the Muslim world that partially bases its religious justification on the employment by the Organization for Islamic Cooperation (OIC) of the language of Islamic jurisprudence to empower states. The OIC groups the world’s 57 Muslim-majority countries.

By reforming the jurisprudence, Nahdlatul Ulama would, in theory, introduce guardrails for the incorporation by OIC members of Islamic law into domestic legal systems.

By and large, Muslim-majority states have used the OIC framework to monopolize the right to interpret Islamic law and bend it to their will, for example, in the justification of abuse of human rights or, in the case of countries like Saudi Arabia and the UAE, to demand absolute obedience of the ruler.

The OIC and some of its members have also used the organization’s religious framing and 1990 Cairo Declaration on Human Rights in Islam to lobby the United Nations to classify blasphemy as a violation of human rights and a form of hate speech.

Liberal critics charge that Nahdlatul Ulama’s silence about a recently adopted new Indonesian criminal code has cast a shadow over its credibility.

The law defines apostasy as leaving a religion or belief and criminalizes anyone who attempts to persuade a person to be a non-believer in a religion or belief. It also bans extramarital sex and curbs freedom of expression by, for example, outlawing insulting the president, but puts major limitations on who can file a complaint.

Nahadlatul Ulama’s acquiescence sparked questions on how it squares that with its unconditional endorsement of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights – a significant differentiator in its rivalry with state-sponsored autocratic versions of moderate Islam.

Privately, influential Nahdlatul Ulama sources defend the socially restrictive aspects of the law but concede that freedom of expression concerns are legitimate. The sources expect the law to be modified in challenges likely to be filed with the Constitutional Court.

Even so, scholars Sana Jaffrey and Eve Warburton warned that provisions of the law “threaten political dissent with prison sentences and have the potential to muzzle public debate about the purview of the state in citizens’ private and political lives.”

The criticism notwithstanding, Nahdlatul Ulama’s effort to anchor the United Nations and the concept of the nation-state in Islamic jurisprudence constitutes the most serious current challenge to autocratic Muslim justification of repressive rule. In doing so, it could prove to be revolutionary.

Source: Times Of Israel

Please click the following URL to read the text of the original story:

https://blogs.timesofisrael.com/indonesian-call-for-religious-reform-challenges-muslim-autocracy/

--------

Pakistan Enrols One Million Non-Muslim Voters In Four Years

 

The number of voters belonging to religious minorities has climbed to 3.63 million in 2018 from 2.77 million in 2013

-------

Iftikhar A. Khan

December 20, 2022

ISLAMABAD: The number of voters belonging to religious minorities in the country has climbed to 4.43 million from 3.63 million in 2018. The number of voters from religious minorities was 2.77m in electoral rolls for the 2013 general election.

The latest figures of minority voters were disclosed by National Database and Registration Authority (Nadra) Chairman Tariq Malik during a consultative session with an interfaith delegation, led by Senator Kamran Michael, which called on him here on Monday.

The Nadra chairman informed the delegation that the authority had so far registered 4.43m people belonging to minority communities including Christians, Hindus, Buddhists and people belonging to other religions.

Senator Gurdeep Singh, Senator Danesh Kumar, Senator Anwar Lal Dean, Senator Krishna Bai, MNA Amir Naveed Jeeva and MPA Shakeel Marcus Khokhar attended the consultative session.

The interfaith delegation briefed the Nadra chairman of problems being faced by their communities in getting the legal identity in the country.

Number jumped from 3.63m in 2018 to 4.43m this year, Nadra chief tells interfaith team

Mr Tariq Malik informed members of the delegation that rights of the people belonging to minority communities were as important as the rights of any other citizen of Pakistan.

He said that religious minorities in Pakistan contributed to the political and social stability, development and prosperity of the state and they were considered significant components in maintaining peace and stability in society.

“We are all equal citizens of this country and we all have equal rights. Article 20 of the Constitution of Pakistan gives freedom to all citizens to practice their religions and to run their own religious institutions,” Mr Malik said.

He said that Nadra, being the custodian of identity of citizens of the country, was fully aware of its responsibility and gave priority to registration of people belong to minorities.

He said that Nadra was launching a special registration campaign titled “Identity Empowerment” to speed up the process of registration of minorities in the country.

The purpose of the consultative session and the focused campaign was to create awareness among members of minority communities to obtain identity as it enables them to exercise their social, economic and political rights.

While launching the week-long campaign of minority registration, Mr Malik said that after assuming the charge as the chairman of the authority a year ago he immediately dismantled barriers hampering registration of people from other religions and communities.

He said he had created the Inclusive Registration Department in this regard so that no individual could be left behind. With regard to registering unregistered people, the Nadra chairman announced that in order to facilitate minority groups issuance of identity cards for the first time would be free of cost.

He further announced that marriage could also be registered without producing the Nikah Nama if the spouse provided biometric attestation and divorce could also be registered with Nadra on the basis of an affidavit to facilitate members of minority communities.

He said that Nadra had started a helpline to facilitate people about Nadra policy and procedures and Nadra helpline would be integrated with the helpline of ministry of human rights.

He also announced a special counter and preferential treatment at Nadra registration centres to people belonging to different religions.

Source: Dawn

Please click the following URL to read the text of the original story:

https://www.dawn.com/news/1727242/pakistan-enrols-one-million-non-muslim-voters-in-four-years

--------

UN Says Israel’s Expulsion Of French-Palestinian Lawyer Is A ‘War Crime’

 

French-Palestinian lawyer Salah Hamouri (C) arrives at the Parisian airport of Roissy, after he was expelled from Israel, on December 18, 2022. (AFP)

------

19 December ,2022

Israel’s expulsion of French-Palestinian human rights lawyer Salah Hamouri amounts to a “war crime,” the UN human rights office said Monday.

Hamouri, 37, arrived in France on Sunday after having been held without charge in Israel under a controversial practice that allows suspects to be detained for renewable periods of up to six months.

“Deporting a protected person from occupied territory is a grave breach of the Fourth Geneva Convention, constituting a war crime,” UN human rights spokesman Jeremy Laurence said in a statement.

Israel has accused Hamouri of being a member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) and of being a security threat. Hamouri denies links to the PFLP.

In condemning his expulsion, Laurence said: “We are deeply concerned by the chilling message this sends to those working on human rights” in occupied east Jerusalem.

Source: Al Arabiya

Please click the following URL to read the text of the original story:

https://english.alarabiya.net/News/middle-east/2022/12/19/UN-says-Israel-s-expulsion-of-French-Palestinian-lawyer-is-a-war-crime-

--------

Constructive Dialogue Between India & Pakistan For The Betterment Of Their People: US Reiterates

 

India Pakistan ties PTI

-----

Dec 20, 2022

WASHINGTON: A constructive dialogue between India and Pakistan is for the betterment of the people of the two countries, the United States has said and reiterated that its relationships with either of them is not zero-sum.

“We have a global strategic partnership with India. I have also spoken about the deep partnership we have with Pakistan. These relationships in our mind are not zero-sum. We do not view them in relation to one another,” US State Department spokesperson Ned Price told reporters at his daily news conference on Monday.

Each of them is indispensable to the United States and to the promotion and the pursuit of the shared goals that we have with India and Pakistan, he said in response to a question.

“The fact that we have partnerships with both countries leaves us not wanting to see a war of words between India and Pakistan. We would like to see constructive dialogue between India and Pakistan. We think that is for the betterment of the Pakistani and Indian people. There is much work that we can do together bilaterally,” Price said.

“There are differences that, of course, need to be addressed between India and Pakistan. The United States stands ready to assist as a partner to both,” he asserted.

"The United States has a global strategic partnership with India. These relationships stand on their own; it is not zero-sum.

“We see the importance – the indispensability really – of maintaining valuable partnerships with both our Indian and Pakistani friends. Each of these relationships also happens to be multifaceted,” he said.

“So even as we deepen our global strategic partnership with India, we also have a relationship in which we can be candid and frank with one another. Where we have disagreements or concerns, we voice those just as we would with our Pakistani friends as well,” Price said.

Responding to another question, Price said countries the world over welcomed when Prime Minister Narendra Modi told Russian President Vladimir Putin this summer that this is not the era of war.

“I think it is notable that the communique emanating from the G20 also had very similar language – I think a testament to the fact that this was language and this was a call that resonated in this country, in South Asia, in Europe, and around the world. The United States certainly welcomes it,” he said.

“It is also important because India has a relationship with Russia that the United States does not have. For decades, I should say Russia was prepared to be a partner to India in a way that the United States at the time was not. Of course, that has changed in recent decades,” he observed.

“It is a bipartisan legacy of the last several administrations, perhaps starting most notably with the administration of President George W Bush that the United States is now a partner of, we hope first resort for India. There is a lot of good that we can do together, not only for our two countries, but around the world, and I think we will see a good example of that in the coming year, when India hosts the G20,” he said.

“I know we will have an opportunity to travel to India, to be in close touch with India in the context of the G20, and we will be able to see what cooperation between our two countries and a broader set of countries can provide,” Price added.

Source: Times Of India

Please click the following URL to read the text of the original story:

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/pakistan/constructive-dialogue-between-india-pakistan-for-the-betterment-of-their-people-us/articleshow/96358280.cms

--------

India

 

Pakistan issues 96 visas to Hindus for Shree Katas Raj Temple visit

Dec 20, 2022

NEW DELHI: Pakistan issued 96 visas to a group of Indian Hindu pilgrims for their visit to the prominent and sacred Shree Katas Raj Temples, also known as Qila Katas, in Chakwal district of Punjab from December 20-25.

While India and Pakistan have not had any substantive bilateral talks for the past seven years, they have not allowed it to come in the way of efforts by both sides to facilitate religious tourism.

Source: Times Of India

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/pakistan-issues-96-visas-to-hindus-for-shree-katas-raj-temple-visit/articleshow/96356699.cms

-------

DCW issues notice to Delhi Police after Muslim teenager alleges forced marriage, domestic abuse

Dec 20, 2022

The Delhi Commission for Women on Monday issued a notice to the police after a 15-year-old Muslim girl alleged that she was forcefully married off and subjected to domestic abuse by her husband and his family.

“The complainant has submitted that she was married in February 2022 at the age of 15 years in Badaun, Uttar Pradesh,” Delhi Commission for Women chairperson Swati Maliwal said. “She has stated that she got pregnant and her in-laws tried to abort the foetus but were unsuccessful.”

The teenager also alleged that her husband beat her up with electric wire and screw driver, according to the notice.

It said that the complainant was asked to leave her matrimonial house by her husband following which she moved to Delhi to her parental home.

The commission has sought information on the case from Daryaganj Police Station by Thursday, including a copy of the first information report registered in the matter, details of accused persons arrested.

The police have been also asked to shared a detailed action taken report on the matter.

“The girl has been subjected to extreme brutality by her husband and in-laws,” Maliwal told IANS. “I know that Muslim personal law allows for marriage of girls above the age of 15 years. I however believe that this is archaic, medieval and barbaric and the law of the land that is POCSO [Protection of Children from Sexual Offences] should apply in such cases.”

According to the personal law, marriage of girls who have attained puberty is considered legal.

However, in recent months, courts have held that marriage between Muslims under personal law is not excluded from the provisions of POCSO Act, making it liable for the husband for having sex with wife who is a minor.

Source: Scroll

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://scroll.in/latest/1040120/dcw-issues-notice-to-delhi-police-after-muslim-teenager-alleges-forced-marriage-domestic-abuse

--------

Three Lashkar-e-Toiba ultras killed in Shopian encounter

Dec 20, 2022

SRINAGAR: Three Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) terrorists were killed in the exchange of firing with the security forces in Shopian district of Jammu and Kashmir on Tuesday, police said.

The search operation was launched by the forces at Munjh Marg in Zainapora area of Shopian following information about the presence of militants there. It later turned into an encounter, the police official said.

ADGP of Kashmir was quoted as saying, "Among 3 neutralised local terrorists, 2 identified as Lateef Lone of Shopian - involved in killing of a Kashmiri Pandit Purana Krishna Bhat - & Umer Nazir of Anantnag involved in killing of Till Bahadur Thapa of Nepal." One AK 47 rifle and two pistols have also been recovered, the official added.

Source: Times Of India

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/three-lashkar-e-toiba-ultras-killed-in-shopian-encounter/articleshow/96357818.cms

--------

 

Southeast Asia

 

Indonesian priest’s social work earns Muslim award

By Katharina R. Lestari

December 19, 2022

An independent body co-founded by a priest in Indonesia’s predominantly Catholic East Nusa Tenggara province has received an award from the Islamic cultural institute for its commitment to reducing maternal mortality rates.

The Regional Health Advisory Body (BPKD), which was initiated in 2008 by Divine Word Father Marcelinus Agot and several public figures in West Manggarai district and officially established in 2013, received this year’s Maarif Award on Dec. 17.

The award was in recognition of the organization’s social work in helping to reduce maternal mortality rates through maternal care houses built in the complex of community health centers, known as Puskesmas.

BPKD was among three recipients — two organizations and one individual — that received the award named after the late Ahmad Syafi’i Maarif, former head of Muhammadiyah, the second largest Islamic organization in Indonesia, and the founder of the Maarif Institute for Culture and Humanity.

The institute has presented the award since 2007 to both individuals and groups committed to fighting for humanity in grass-roots communities.

Father Agot, who is also BPKD’s chairman, told UCA News on Dec. 18 that it was a surprise “because we always work for humanity in silence.”

“The award is a challenge for us: how we can move forward and respect others more and save them without the primordial sentiment against any religion. We must avoid this. Saving people regardless of their religious background is what matters to us,” he said.

“Ahmad Syafi’i Maarif was an extraordinary public figure. He was very tolerant and deeply respected diversity. So, the award encourages us to continue to enliven the spirit in fighting for humanity.”

According to the 71-year-old priest, the social work began 14 years ago when there was a high maternal mortality rate in the province, which was around 20 a year due to many women choosing to give birth with the help of shamans instead of midwives, as well as other causes like bleeding, infection and high blood pressure.

“Everyone has the right to life. That is why we began our fight for life, for the souls of mothers and newborns,” he said.

In collaboration with the local government’s health service, his team went from one Puskesmas to another in the district to help improve them and to supply medicines.

Also, he said a film about safe birth in the community health centers was produced in collaboration with an Australian agency and played in villages and the centers.

“The result was good enough. Less than 20 mothers and newborns died within a year,” he said. “Yet, we did not stop. We launched a movement in which a family collected at least 1,000 rupiah [10 cents] per month to help poor pregnant mothers to give birth in Puskesmas. It was voluntary in nature.”

The last move was building a maternal care house in the Puskesmas complex after BPKD was officially formed nine years ago following the district head’s decree, Father Agot said.

“The house is prepared for pregnant mothers, particularly those from remote villages. They can stay free of charge in the facility — with at least two bedrooms, a living room, a kitchen and a bathroom –about two days before giving birth. Thus, they can give birth in a Puskesmas with help from a midwife,” he said, adding that there were less than 10 deaths among mothers and newborns in the last five years in the district.

“Seventeen out of 22 Puskesmas in the district have such a house. We hope we can build three more next year.”

Valentinus Hibur, head of Puskesmas Benteng in Komodo sub-district, told UCA News that BPKD built a maternal care house in his Puskesmas complex in 2018.

“At least 89 pregnant women had stayed there since,” he said, adding that the house has two midwives working in two shifts.

“The house really helps those from remote villages.”

He said they were thankful to BPKD for its social work and hoped that the body will continue helping the local government in reducing maternal mortality rates.

Adrianus Ojo, secretary of the district’s health service office, called the priest and other public figures who initiated BPKD “role models.”

Source: UCA News

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.ucanews.com/news/indonesian-priests-social-work-earns-muslim-award/99775

--------

Malaysia’s PM Anwar cements leadership with early confidence vote win

NOR ARLENE TAN

December 19, 2022

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysian Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim won a confidence vote in parliament on Monday, cementing his leadership of a new unity government after an election last month produced no clear winner.

Anwar, capping his three-decade political journey, became premier in late November, forming a unity government with several rival political blocs following polls that resulted in an unprecedented hung parliament.

He convened the first parliament session on Monday to prove his majority after former Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin questioned his legitimacy and to remove doubts over his authority to govern and the stability of his administration.

The confidence motion was passed through a simple voice vote — where lawmakers voiced their support — following three hours of intense debate in parliament.

Anwar’s confidence vote win was “no surprise,” director of BowerGroupAsia Adib Zalkapli said, as it was “still the early days of the unity government.”

Malaysia’s fourth prime minister since 2020, who came to power after two previous administrations collapsed due to political turmoil, appears to be starting his leadership with good democratic precedent.

“Anwar is setting a good precedent in strengthening our parliamentary democracy. The government is accountable to parliament. No future prime ministers can ignore or undermine the parliament,” Zalkapli told Arab News.

Dr. James Chin, a professor of Asian studies at the University of Tasmania, described the move as important.

“The two previous governments have declared a majority, but they never tested it on the floor of parliament,” Chin told Arab News. “This is really an important precedent; it means in the future, there won’t be any backdoor government and they will have to test their numbers on the first seating of parliament.”

Malaysian political parties supporting Anwar signed a cooperation pact last week ahead of the confidence vote, promising to ensure stability. They had agreed to work together to spur the economy and maintain good governance.

Dr. Oh Ei Sun, a senior fellow at the Singapore Institute of International Affairs, said the confidence vote will give Anwar the time to resolve various issues facing the Southeast Asian nation, including devastating floods on the country’s east coast and the rising cost of living.

Source: Arab News

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.arabnews.com/node/2218661/world

--------

New Quran Memorization Centre Opened in Malaysia’s Sabah

December 19, 2022

Addressing the ceremony, State Mufti, Datuk Bungsu Aziz Jaafar said the participation of various quarters, including parents, community and individuals in assisting the establishment of more tahfiz (memorization) centers are welcome.

“More students will be able to read and memorise the Quran and make the book holy as their guideline in life,” he said.

“I am honoured and excited because another tahfiz has been successfully established here. We hope Ma’ahad Tahfiz becomes a place of furthering our devotion,” added the mufti.

“To the parents around here and even further, we hope they continue to provide moral and material support so that the existence of Ma’ahad Tahfiz will be able to continue and be empowered”, he said after officiating the Ma’ahad Tahfiz Ashabul Yamin building on Jalan Sungai Duyung, Kg. Pangi.

Also present were Kunak District Office, Community Development Leaders Unit (UPPM) District Education Department, Kunak Hospital, and Pangi Village representatives.

Meanwhile, Chairman and founder of Ma’ahad Tahfiz Ashabul Yamin, ustaz Junaidy Jeffrey Abdul Nasir said there are currently 80 students studying at center with nine teaching staff of which four are full time.

“In addition to Al-Quran Studies, students here are also exposed to Arabic and Fiqh education”, he said.

Source: IQNA

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://iqna.ir/en/news/3481737/new-quran-memorization-center-opened-in-malaysia%E2%80%99s-sabah

--------

 

Pakistan

 

Imran Khan Slams "Imported" Government For Taliban Attack In Northwest Pak

December 20, 2022

Islamabad: Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chairman Imran Khan on Monday blamed the coalition government of Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif for the terrorist attack in Bannu, reported Geo News.

He said the 'imported government' has failed to deal with cross-border attacks by "security forces of a 'friendly' Afghan government".

Taking to his official Twitter handle, Khan said: "Apart from running our economy to the ground, this imported government has failed to deal with the 50 per cent increase in terrorism in Pakistan with incidents from Chaman to Swat to Lakki Marwat to Bannu."

A day earlier, four police personnel were martyred and as many others wounded in an overnight terrorist attack on the Bargai Police Station of Lakki Marwat area.

Terrorists launched an armed assault on the police station from two sides. A fierce exchange of fire took place between the police and the outlaws that left four policemen dead and as many injured, reported Geo News.

The attackers escaped after the assault. Police have launched a search operation in the area for the saboteurs.

"While our soldiers, police [and] local [people] are giving daily sacrifices with their lives, the worst part is that this increasing terrorist threat [and] attacks from across our Western border are finding no space in the discourse of this government of a cabal of crooks," the former prime minister wrote referring to the incident.

He went on to say that the Pakistan Democratic Movement-led government is only interested in their NRO II and its preservation, reported Geo News.

"Therefore, despite the economy tanking, they are petrified of holding elections which is the only way to stabilise the economy through political stabilisation," he said renewing his demand for fresh elections.

Notably, the talks between Pakistani officials and the leadership of Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) are underway in Afghanistan, confirmed Mohammad Ali Saif, a spokesperson for the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government, reported Geo News.

Pakistani authorities opened talks to try to resolve a stand-off with the TTP, who were holding several security personnel hostage after seizing control of a counter-terrorism facility in the country's northwest, a day earlier.

"We are in negotiations with the central leaders of the Pakistani Taliban in Afghanistan," said Saif.

The spokesperson warned of strict action if the armed men do not surrender.

The wave of terrorist attacks has risen across the province in the last few months, the report said. At least 118 terrorist incidents were reported in KP from mid-August till the last week of November, according to official numbers.

At least 26 policemen, 12 personnel of other law enforcement agencies and 17 civilians were killed in terror incidents across the KP. Moreover, 18 policemen, 10 civilians, and 37 law enforcement agency personnel suffered injuries in these attacks, reported Geo News.

Source: ND TV

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.ndtv.com/world-news/imran-khan-slams-imported-government-for-taliban-attack-in-northwest-pak-3621535

--------

TTP inmates hold Pakistan security men hostage after taking over police centre, 2 cops killed

Dec 20, 2022

ISLAMABAD: The situation remained deadlocked on Monday in the remote garrison city of Bannu in northwestern Pakistan following the overnight takeover of a police detention centre by terrorists of the proscribed Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) lodged there, who held police and army officials hostage after snatching their weapons. The inmates are demanding a safe passage to Afghanistan.

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government’s spokesperson Barrister Saif said the terrorists snatched weapons from the security personnel during interrogation and then released more prisoners. He said they killed a security official and injured two others when they opened fire to prevent police and army officials from overpowering them. However, sources said two securitymen were killed in the firing.

“They (terrorists) all have been surrounded,” Saif said, adding the government has been talking to the terrorists to avoid casualties.

Claiming responsibility of the takeover, TTP spokesman Muhammad Khurasani said in a statement that its members had taken the staff and security officials of the facility as hostage. He said the terrorists – in a video statement from the detention center – had demanded safe passage, but “mistakenly mentioned Afghanistan”.

“The group had asked the officials to shift the prisoners to either South or North Waziristan,” the spokesman said, adding that they had not received a positive response from the authorities yet.

Meanwhile, police and security agencies have cordoned off the cantonment area — where the detention facility is located — and asked residents to stay indoors. Internet and mobile phone services were also suspended in the area.

In a video message, the hostage-takers threatened to kill the officers if their demands were not met. One of the terrorists, who was holding a security official at gunpoint, demanded a “safe passage” to Afghanistan. Another, whose face was not visible, was heard saying eight to ten security personnel were in their captivity.

He said 35 of his associates – whom he called fidayeen – who were detained had managed to break free and demanded that Pakistan ensured their departure to Afghanistan via air.

“We broke the jail and the securitymen are in our captivity and they will be released safely if we are provided a safe exit,” he said.

Source: Times Of India

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/pakistan/ttp-inmates-hold-pakistan-securitymen-hostage-after-taking-over-police-centre-2-cops-killed/articleshow/96357039.cms

--------

Bilawal defends remarks against Modi, says he was ‘referring to historical fact’

December 20, 2022

Foreign Minister Bilawal-Bhutto Zardari has defended his recent remarks about Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, saying that he was referring to “a historical reality”.

At a news conference inside the UN last week, Bilawal had described Modi as “the butcher of Gujarat,” adding that instead of being punished for the 2002 massacre of over 2,000 Muslims in Gujarat, he was made the prime minister.

He was responding to his Indian counterpart S. Jaishankar’s remarks who, for two days in a row, had called Pakistan “the host of Osama bin Laden” and the “perpetrator of terrorism.”

The Indian government had heavily criticised Bilawal’s remarks while workers of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) had staged protests in parts of the country, including outside the Pakistani High Commission in New Delhi. Some workers had also burnt an effigy of Bilawal.

In an interview with Bloomberg published today, the foreign minister said: “I was referring to a historical reality. The remarks I used were not my own. I did not call […] I did not invent the term ‘Butcher of Gujarat’ for Mr Modi. The Muslims in India following the Gujarat riots used that term for Mr Modi.

“I believe I was referring to a historical fact, and they believe that repeating history is a personal insult. If I was incorrect […] it’s been two days since my remark as a member of Mr Modi’s party has announced a 20 million rupee bounty on my head,” he said.

“So, I don’t think the best way to disprove the fact that Mr Modi is the ‘Butcher of Gujarat’ is to adopt such extreme steps,” he said.

US on Pak-India war of words

Hours after Bilawal reached Washington for talks with US officials, the US offered to assist India and Pakistan in resolving their differences, reminding them that they were key global partners and that America would like to continue ‘valuable partnerships’ with both.

State Department Spokesperson Ned Price addressed a news briefing in which he responded to a question about last week’s war of words between Bilawal and his Indian counterpart.

“We have a global strategic partnership with India. I have just spoken to the depth of our partnership with Pakistan. The two relationships stand on their own. It’s not a zero-sum relationship,” he said.

The US, he said, sees the importance of maintaining these valuable partnerships with our Indian and our Pakistani friends, adding that they had a relationship in which “we can be friends with both”.

Source: Dawn

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.dawn.com/news/1727343/bilawal-defends-remarks-against-modi-says-he-was-referring-to-historical-fact

--------

Stalemate in talks continues as CTD centre in Bannu remains under militants’ control

Umer Farooq | Ghulam Mursalin Marwat

December 20, 2022

PESHAWAR/ LAKKI MARWAT: The standoff between the security forces and banned Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) militants continued on Monday as the Counter-Terrorism Depart­ment (CTD) centre in Bannu remained under the militants’ control.

Late Sunday, the militants incarcerated in the CTD centre took control of the building after they snatched weapons from their investigators and took a number of law enforcers hostages. They had also fired upon the security personnel, reportedly injuring a CTD man and a soldier. The militants had demanded a safe passage to Afghanistan.

Despite the passage of 24 hours, there has been no breakthrough in talks with the militants for the release of the hostages. An official source said that the standoff continued and there was “no breakthrough in negotiations” with the militants who had taken over the compound. “The top priority is to free the hostages from the captivity of militants,” the source added.

In order to neutralise the situation, sources said, law enforcement agencies have decided to engage a cleric, Maulana Ahmadullah, from the Domail area of the city.

The cleric will be asked to reason with the TTP operatives who had taken CTD officials and other inmates as captives.

Meanwhile, the situation remained tense in the district bordering North Waziristan. The cantonment area where the CTD compound is located remained sealed, as police and security forces beefed up security, asking the residents to remain indoors.

The compound had also been cordoned off. “The roads leading to the cantonment area were also closed and policemen were deployed in the area,” a resident said. Another resident said that the situation was tense and fear persisted in the area. “The standoff and reports [videos of the compound] circulating on social media has aggravated our concerns,” he said.

The official source said that police had increased patrolling the area besides tightening checking of individuals and motorists on pickets. Keeping in view the volatile law and order situation, security forces also imposed a curfew on roads leading to North Waziristan and Bannu city. Meanwhile, in view of the precarious situation in the city, the deputy commissioner said all government and private educational institutions in Bannu will remain closed on Tuesday (Dec 20).

TTP statement

The attack on the compound has been claimed by the TTP as the banned outfit confirmed in a statement that its members had taken several CTD and security personnel hostages. In a statement, the group’s spokesperson said that in an earlier video statement, the hostage takers had demanded a safe exit but they mistakenly mentioned Afghanistan since they were not aware of ground realities. He said that the group talked to government authorities overnight and asked them to shift the prisoners to North Waziristan or South Waziristan but there was no positive response from their side.

The militants inside the seized CTD centre also released several videos earlier in the day, asking the people of Bannu, especially the ulema, to come forward and resolve the standoff between the militants and the law enforcers through dialogue.

In a video clip, a detainee declared himself ‘innocent’ and said along with the Taliban militants and officials taken hostage by the militants, several innocents were also present inside the compound.

In the video, he said that the elders and the ulema of Bannu should intervene to avoid bloodshed and settle the standstill in a peaceful manner. “The people and army are ours and the Taliban wanted to go outside [the compound] to kill people, but we stopped them,” he added. In another video clip, several armed militants could be seen roaming and taking positions inside the compound. A militant, who was not visible in the video clip, said that his “Mujahideen companions were ready”. In the video, he was heard asking them not to damage vehicles or oppress anyone in the CTD centre.

In a video released from CTD Center in Bannu, one of the individuals in the video has been identified as Commander Zarrar, who had been under custody. Zarrar had merged his group with TTP and it was still unclear what he was doing in the CTD centre even though he was in custody since January 2022.

‘Warning to militants’

In Peshawar, KP CM’s aide Barrister Muhammad Ali Saif said the government will not fulfil any demand put forth by the militants and asked them to lay down arms, warning them of stern action in case of non-compliance.

“There was no attack on the CTD Center from outside. Some under-custody militants snatched weapons [from investigators] and took a few police personnel hostages,” he said, claiming that the situation in Bannu was under control.

The statement further said that the militants wanted to gain the sympathy of general public by sharing videos on social media. “It is better if these people laid down arms, otherwise strict action will be taken against them,” the statement quoted the adviser as saying.

ANP, PTI statements

PTI Chairman Imran Khan, whose party is in power in KP, accused the federal government of failing to rein in terrorism. “Apart from running our economy to the ground, this imported government has failed to deal with the 50% increase in terrorism in Pak with incidents from Chaman to Swat to Lakki Marwat to Bannu.”

In a tweet, the former prime minister said, “They have also failed to deal with attacks from the international Pak-Afghan border by security forces of a ‘friendly’ Afghan government.”

“While our soldiers, police & local people are giving daily sacrifices with their lives, the worst part is that this increasing terrorist threat & attacks from across our Western border are finding no space in the discourse of this government of a cabal of crooks,” he added.

Meanwhile, Awami National Party (ANP) KP President Aimal Wali Khan accused the PTI-led government of deliberately attempting to weaken the police and CTD, terming it the reason why effective action could not be taken against militants.

Source: Dawn

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.dawn.com/news/1727301/bannu-stalemate-continues

--------

IB sub-inspector martyred in Peshawar attack

December 20, 2022

PESHAWAR: A Sub-Inspector of the Intelligence Bureau (IB) was martyred in an attack occurred in the jurisdiction of Mathra police station here on Monday.

According to the police, Shaukat Mehboob, an IB Sub-Inspector, was on his way back home after buying essentials from the market when unidentified men opened fire at him.

The officials said that the area had been cordoned off and a search operation was launched to trace the attackers. They said that empty shells were recovered from the crime scene. They said that the body was shifted to hospital for autopsy.

Meanwhile, Lance Naik Sardar Khan of Frontier Constable (FC), who was martyred in a militant attack at the Manikhel checkpost in Bannu district, was laid to rest in his he ancestral graveyard in Battgram area of Charsadda on Monday.

Source: Dawn

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.dawn.com/news/1727293/ib-sub-inspector-martyred-in-peshawar-attack

--------

Two officials martyred as held terrorists seize Bannu CTD building

December 19, 2022

BANNU: Two officials of the KP Counter-Terrorism Department (CTD) were martyred and many more injured when terrorists, who had been arrested previously and being interrogated at CTD police station inside Cantonment, snatched an AK-47 from police and opened fire in Bannu district of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa on Sunday afternoon.

The police and rescuers informed that one of the miscreants snatched rifle from police during interrogation and neutralised the guards deployed at the building.

District Police Officer (DPO) Bannu Dr Iqbal also confirmed that there was no attack from outside and one of the miscreants snatched rifle from police during interrogation and neutralised the guards deployed at the building.

He then freed all the suspects being held at the building and who took control of the compound. They also made several policemen hostage.

“They are in control of the building and we have cordoned off the entire Bannu cantonment. They have been kept busy by means of negotiations,” he added. “We have our own plan which cannot be shared at the moment,” he said.

Militants released at least three videos in which they could be seen armed with AK-47 rifles and medium machine guns. In one video they showed a hostage and demanded the security forces to provide them with a helicopter to reach Afghanistan safely and in return they would not harm their hostages.

The affiliation of the terrorists could not be ascertained immediately.

A spokesman for the TTP did not immediately confirm or deny a link with the militants in the compound.

Meanwhile, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Special Assistant for Information Barrister Saif has denied that CTD facility had been attacked in Bannu, saying that some suspects attempted to snatch weapons from the security forces.

He said that the situation was “completely under control” and security forces have cordoned off the affected area.

Saif said that an operation was underway against the miscreants which will be completed soon.

Source: Pakistan Today

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2022/12/19/two-officials-martyred-as-held-terrorists-seize-bannu-ctd-building/

--------

 

Europe

 

Sweden Rejects Türkiye’s Request For Extradition Of Accused Terrorist, Bulent Kenes, A Suspected Member Of The Fetullah Terrorist Organization

Atila Altuntas 

19.12.2022

STOCKHOLM

Sweden’s top court on Monday rejected Türkiye’s request for the extradition of a fugitive terrorist group suspect living on Swedish soil.

In a statement, Sweden’s Supreme Court said that in order to meet the extradition request, a suspect must have been sentenced to one year or more in prison, but that the suspect in question, Bulent Kenes, did not meet this requirement.

At a joint press conference last month with Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan urged Sweden to deport Kenes back to Türkiye, stressing its importance.

Kenes, the former editor-in-chief of Today's Zaman newspaper and a suspected member of the Fetullah Terrorist Organization (FETO), lives in Sweden.

In the defeated 2016 coup orchestrated by FETO and its US-based leader Fetullah Gulen, 251 people were killed and 2,734 injured.

Türkiye, Finland, and Sweden signed a memorandum this June on the Nordic countries' bids for NATO membership following four-way talks in Madrid.

The memorandum conditions Finland and Sweden to take steps on Türkiye's terrorism concerns, including the extradition of terror suspects, and lifts an arms embargo on Ankara.

In return, Türkiye would allow the Nordic countries to become NATO members.

Source: Anadolu Agency

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/europe/sweden-rejects-turkiye-s-request-for-extradition-of-accused-terrorist/2767645

--------

Germany urges Iran to show ‘political will’ to end stalemate over nuclear probe

Oliver Towfigh Nia  

19.12.2022

BERLIN

Germany on Monday called on Iran to show “political will” to resolve the standoff over a nuclear probe following the arrival of UN nuclear watchdog delegation in Tehran as part of its inquiry into undeclared uranium particles found in Iran.

“Iran must now come up with technically plausible answers, which now requires the political will,” Franciska Obermeyer, deputy spokeswoman for the Foreign Ministry, told journalists in Berlin.

“It is high time that the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) and Iran continue their dialogue on these questions,” she added.

Obermeyer, however, stressed that she could not predict whether these talks would actually yield any results.

An IAEA technical team arrived in Tehran on Sunday following an invitation by Iran, according to an IAEA spokeswoman.

The visit was aimed at “addressing the outstanding safeguards issues previously reported,” she added.

The Vienna-based UN nuclear agency has for years been calling on Iran to explain the presence of undeclared human-made uranium found at three sites, requesting “access to locations and material” as well as the collection of samples.

In the absence of progress, the IAEA said it could not guarantee the authenticity and integrity of Iran’s nuclear program.

Tehran has repeatedly claimed traces of enriched uranium found in Iran were brought into the country from abroad.

Meanwhile, Obermeyer stressed again that negotiations between Iran and the six world powers – US, Russia, China, France, the UK, and Germany – to revive the 2015 nuclear deal are not planned for now.

There are “currently no starting points” to resume such talks, she added.

The US and its Western allies argue the talks were “stalled” because Tehran was “making demands that have nothing to do with the JCPOA (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action).”
Source: Anadolu Agency

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/europe/germany-urges-iran-to-show-political-will-to-end-stalemate-over-nuclear-probe/2767695

--------

UN chief urges Afghan Taliban to stop terrorist attacks against Pakistan

December 20, 2022

UNITED NATIONS: United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Monday called on the Afghan Taliban to prevent terrorist organizations from attacking Pakistan or any other neighbouring country from Afghan territory, saying the UN was in discussions with the de facto authorities in this regard.

“We consider that it is absolutely essential for the Taliban not to allow any form of terrorist activity that might have an impact in relation to Pakistan, as in relation to any other country of the region,” the UN chief said in response to a question from a reporter about the stepped-up cross-border terrorist attacks from the Tehreek-i-Taliban (TTP) against Pakistan that have resulted in many casualties.

“There are several clear things that we believe the Taliban must deliver from the point of view of the interests of the international community and from the point of view of the interest of Afghanistan itself,” he said at his year-end press conference.

“One thing is that they must deliver in relation to inclusion in the power structures in Afghanistan,” the secretary-general said, emphasizing that all ethnic groups in Afghanistan should be represented.

“A second aspect is in relation to human rights and particularly women and girls’ rights, the right of women to work, the rights of girls to attend school at all levels without discrimination,” he said.

Source: Pakistan Today

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2022/12/20/un-chief-urges-afghan-taliban-to-stop-terrorist-attacks-against-pakistan/

--------

Danish government remains fixed on overturning EU minimum wage directives

Ebad Ahmed 

20.12.2022

COPANHAGEN

The new three-party Danish coalition vowed to continue to challenge EU minimum wage directives in the bloc's court. 

"In Denmark it is the labour market parties which negotiate the terms of wages. On that basis, labour market parties are also against the EU directive in minimum wages," says the agreement reached last week between the constituent parties from both the left and right.

Denmark and Sweden oppose the EU minimum wage directives as they come against the established labor models adopted in both Scandinavian countries, where wages are decided by trade unions and employers through a process of negotiations.

The directives aren't binding for either country as the EU Commission has maintained that it was not mandatory for the Danish government to incorporate the minimum wage into the country's law, commission President Ursula von der Leyen said there would be "full respect for national traditions and the autonomy of labour market partners." The coalition government nonetheless remains set on getting the directives annulled by the bloc's highest law forum.

In Denmark, trade unions and the left-wing Red Green Alliance (Enhedslisten) party have strongly maintained that the country should approach the EU court on the minimum wage directive.

Danish Employment Minister Peter Hummelgaard, alongside Swedish representatives, led a joint call with nine EU countries expressing their reservations over the minimum wage directives.

Source: Anadolu Agency

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/europe/danish-government-remains-fixed-on-overturning-eu-minimum-wage-directives/2767841

--------

Germany supports Türkiye-Greece dialogue, spokesman says

Ayhan Simsek 

19.12.2022

BERLIN

Germany wants to facilitate dialogue between Türkiye and Greece, the chancellor’s spokesman said on Monday.

Speaking at a news conference in Berlin, German government spokesman Steffen Hebestreit confirmed that the senior officials of the three countries had held a meeting in Brussels.

“Germany had conveyed messages earlier, asked whether we could be helpful for such a meeting, and both the Greek prime minister and the Turkish president responded very positively to this,” he said.

Hebestreit also said further meetings are expected, but declined to give any details, stressing that the content of the discussions was confidential.

The meeting in Brussels brought together Turkish presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin, German Chancellery Foreign and Security Policy Adviser Jens Ploetner, and Greek Prime Ministry Diplomatic Office Director Anna-Maria Boura, after weeks-long tensions between Ankara and Athens.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz visited Athens in October and called for closer dialogue between NATO allies Türkiye and Greece to solve bilateral problems and de-escalate tensions in the Mediterranean.

He said good neighborly relations between Ankara and Athens are vital not only for the two countries but also for Europe and NATO.

Source: Anadolu Agency

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/europe/germany-supports-turkiye-greece-dialogue-spokesman-says/2767618

--------

 

North America

 

US accuses UN of yielding to Russian threats over Iran drone inquiry

20 December ,2022

The United States accused UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres of “apparently yielding to Russian threats” and not sending officials to Ukraine to inspect drones used by Russia that Washington and others say were supplied by Iran.

Russia has denied its forces used Iranian drones in Ukraine and argues there is no mandate for UN officials to travel to Kyiv to investigate the origin of the drones. Iran has acknowledged it had supplied Moscow with drones, but said they were sent before Russia invaded its neighbor in February.

Britain, France, Germany, the United States and Ukraine say the supply of Iranian-made drones to Russia violates a 2015 UN Security Council resolution enshrining the Iran nuclear deal. They want Guterres to send officials to Kyiv to investigate.

“We regret that the UN has not moved to carry out a normal investigation of this reported violation,” US Deputy UN Ambassador Robert Wood told a Security Council meeting on Monday on the 2015 Iran nuclear deal resolution.

“We are disappointed that the Secretariat, apparently yielding to Russian threats, has not carried out the investigatory mandate this council has given it,” Wood said.

In a report to the council earlier this month, Guterres said UN officials were examining the available information and any findings would be reported to the council in due course.

When asked on Monday about the pressure he faced, Guterres told reporters the Western accusation that Iran had supplied Russia with drones used in Ukraine was being looked at “in the broader picture of everything we are doing in the context of the war to determine if and when we should” send officials to Kyiv.

Russia’s UN ambassador, Vassily Nebenzia, told the Security Council on Monday that UN officials “should not bow to pressure from Western countries” and that “any results of this pseudo investigation ... are null and void.”

Iran’s UN ambassador, Amir Saeid Iravani, said Iran has not transferred to Russia any items prohibited by the Security Council. He also said Iranian drones supplied to Russia before February were not banned by the council and “have not been transferred for use in the ongoing conflict in Ukraine.”

Source: Al Arabiya

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://english.alarabiya.net/News/world/2022/12/20/US-accuses-UN-of-yielding-to-Russian-threats-over-Iran-drone-inquiry

--------

 

Arab World

 

Lebanon Elects Sunni Muftis For First Time In 40 Years

19 December, 2022

Elections were held in Lebanon for muftis - Islamic experts qualified to give rulings on religious matters – for the first time in 40 years, according to reports.

A vote for the muftis, who will become dignitaries of Lebanon’s highest Sunni religious body, occurred on Sunday in six regions across the country, Lebanese outlet L’Orient Today reported.

The past four decades have seen the mufti of the republic appoint regional muftis, however this year provided the "right… conditions… for holding elections", Khaldoun Kawas, head of communications of Dar al-Fatwa told L’Orient Today.

The elections, which were called for by the state’s most senior Sunni Muslim cleric Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdul Latif Derian, occurred in Tripoli, Akkar, Zahle, Rashaya, Baalbeck-Hermel and Hasbaya-Marjayoun.

Not everyone is able to vote to select the muftis. The General Directorate of Islamic Waqfs decides who is able to take part in the vote.

Those able to vote include the incumbent Prime Minister, former prime minister, members of the supreme Islamic council, Sunni legal judges, the president of the waqfs, imams, and Sunni members of the constitutional council, according to L’Orient.

Sunni 'first-class' civil servants, Sunni members of municipal councils and Sunni personalities deemed part of the political and religious elite are also able to have their say in the elections.

Sheikh Mohammad Tarek Imam was elected mufti of Tripoli, Sheikh Zaid Mohammad Bakkar Zakaria was elected mufti of Akkar and Sheikh Ali Ghazzaoui was elected mufti of Zahle, according to a statement by Dar al-Fatwa.

Sheikh Wafic Hijazi was elected mufti of Rashaya, Sheikh Ayman Rifai was elected mufti of Baalbeck-Hermel and Sheikh Hassan Dalleh was elected mufti of Hasbaya-Marjayoun.

Caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati assured there was "no political interference" in the elections, as he cast his vote in his home city Tripoli, the National News Agency reported.

Though the mufti elections were an apparent success, Lebanon has had no such luck on the political front.

The country is still yet to elect a president as Lebanese legislators have attempted and failed to agree on a new head of state several times since Michel Aoun completed his term.

Source: The New Arab

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.newarab.com/news/lebanon-votes-sunni-muftis-first-time-40-years

--------

Latest Islamic State attack highlights security challenges facing Iraq

December 19, 2022

BAGHDAD — At least nine members of the Iraqi security forces were killed and three others were wounded on Sunday in a bomb attack targeting their convoy in the Kirkuk governorate of northern Iraq.

The Islamic State (IS) immediately claimed responsibility via its Telegram account. The attack took place near Safra, a village about 20 miles south of Kirkuk in the Kurdistan Region.

Immediately following the explosion, a clash broke out between security forces and IS militants, leading to the killing of one IS member

The area is located near the borders of the Salahuddin and Diyala provinces, and the nature of the terrain — with desert plains and mountains — provides a safe haven for the terrorist organization.

The area falls within the so-called “Death Triangle,” a moniker it received in 2004 when members of al-Qaeda and later IS used the area for preparing attacks in the surrounding areas and even in the capital, Baghdad, in the past.

Although Iraq declared in 2017 that IS had been officially defeated, its sleeper cells are still active in remote areas toward the center of the country and stretching toward the west.

Last week, another IS attack in Salahuddin province killed one member of the Popular Mobilization Units and left two others wounded.

“After the painful blows delivered by our security forces and intensified efforts to pursue the defeated terrorist elements [of IS], these terrorist elements resorted to malicious methods by planting explosive devices near villages inhabited by citizens and in which the security services provide various services,” the media office of Iraq's security services announced on Sunday.

Las week, the Iraqi security forces undertook dozens of operations against IS elements and dens, leading to the arrest of 23 people on terrorist accusations, the killing of 11 members of terrorist organizations and the confiscation of various weapons.

Despite these extensive counterterrorism operations, IS attacks continue to be a serious security challenges for the Iraqi government in the area.

According to a readout of a call between Iraqi Prime Minister Muhammad Shia al-Sudani and White House Coordinator for the Middle East and North Africa Affairs Brett McGurk, the United States reiterated its support for Iraq's stability. Both sides noted the “importance of continuing efforts to ensure the enduring defeat of ISIS and supporting Iraq's regional role in building bridges between the countries of the region."

Source: Al Monitor

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.al-monitor.com/originals/2022/12/latest-islamic-state-attack-highlights-security-challenges-facing-iraq

--------

Kurdish forces seize Islamic State militant in Syria as part of joint raid with U.S.

Dec 19, 2022

BEIRUT (AP) — A Kurdish-led group in Syria said Monday that its fighters alongside U.S. forces have arrested a wanted militant with the Islamic State group that continues to stage attacks in the region.

There are some 900 U.S. troops in Syria supporting Kurdish-led forces in the fight against the militant group.

The Syrian Democratic Forces said its fighters led a raid on the home of an unnamed IS leader on Dec. 16 in the western countryside of Deir el-Zour. The group’s statement claimed the arrested man managed militant cells in the region.

The SDF shared a photo purporting to show evidence they confiscated during the raid, including two cell phones, a dozen SIM cards, an internet router, a Syrian-issued identity document and a pistol with three magazines.

The SDF added that this was the fifth such raid over the past two weeks.

They have frequently targeted the militants mostly in parts of northeastern Syria under Kurdish control. On Dec. 11, a U.S. helicopter raid in eastern Syria killed two IS militants.

Syria has been mired in a bloody civil war since 2011 that has drawn in regional and global powers. Syrian President Bashar Assad has mostly regained control of the country, but parts of its north remain under the control of rebels, as well as Turkish and Syrian Kurdish forces.

Turkey strongly opposes the presence of the Syrian Kurdish groups along its border that it blames for attacks within its territory. A series of Turkish airstrikes in the area earlier this month temporarily halted U.S.-Kurdish patrols and raised concerns that cross-border tensions would hinder the fight against the Islamic State group.

Source: PBS

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.pbs.org/newshour/world/kurdish-forces-seize-islamic-state-militant-in-syria-as-part-of-joint-raid-with-u-s

--------

Children among 547 detained Syrians declared dead: Rights group

20 December ,2022

Ever since Yehya Hijazi and his two sons were detained in 2012 by the Syrian government, their relatives had clung onto the hope they were still alive and might be released one day.

But after a decade of silence from the authorities, their hopes were shattered when the independent Syrian Network for Human Rights (SNHR) monitoring group contacted the Hijazi family to tell them it had obtained death certificates for all three.

“You’re hoping every second that you’ll catch another glimpse of this person whom you love very much, that you’ll hear any news of him,” Yehya’s brother Mohammad told Reuters by phone from northwestern Syria. “Then you hear he’s dead.”

The SNHR said the documents confirming the death of Yehya and his sons were among 547 detainee death certificates issued by the authorities since 2017 that it had obtained from whistleblowers within government departments.

The rights group said the documents provided answers to the fates of hundreds of missing people. Activists hope they will eventually be used in international proceedings against the government, which has been accused by a UN commission of inquiry of crimes against humanity for its detention policies.

The government did not respond to emailed questions about the death certificates obtained by SNHR. Syrian officials have in the past denied accusations of systemic torture and mass executions in jail.

Reuters reviewed 80 of the death certificates, including the three for the Hijazi family, as well as those for a three-year-old girl and her six-year-old sister.

A Syrian human rights lawyer, who declined to be named due to the sensitivity of the matter, reviewed a sample of the documents. He said the layout, language used and the elements of information included matched other Syrian death certificates.

Reuters was unable to independently confirm that the documents were authentic.

Mohammad Hijazi said the family had not requested death certificates from the authorities as they lived in areas controlled by the opposition. He added that acquaintances in government-held zones also refused to ask civil registries about deaths, fearing they might be seen as opposed to Damascus.

No cause of death

The war in Syria spiraled out of a 2011 uprising against President Bashar al-Assad's rule and has killed over 350,000 people, uprooted more than half the population and forced millions abroad as refugees.

Tens of thousands are estimated to have been held in Syrian government detention centers, according to the UN commission. Detainees are often held incommunicado, leaving their families wondering about their whereabouts, or if they are even alive, the commission and families of detainees have said.

International rights groups do not operate openly in Syria and do not have access to detention centers. In August, the U.N. secretary general’s office recommended establishing a mechanism to determine the fate of missing Syrians, but it has yet to be set up.

The 547 certificates included those for 15 children and 19 women, the SNHR said.

Some of the 80 certificates reviewed by Reuters listed the place of death as military hospitals or military tribunals. Others were vague about the place of death, with “Damascus” or a village on its outskirts. Some were left blank.

The certificates reviewed by Reuters also had significant gaps between the date of the death and when it was recorded in the registry, with most showing a lag of several years and one showing a delay of 10 years.

None of the certificates reviewed by Reuters listed a cause of death. The SNHR said that was the case for all 547.

The rights group said it had matched the names that appeared on the death certificates against wider lists of people detained by the Syrian authorities.

The group was able to reach the families of 23 of the deceased. It said many had suspected their loved ones were dead, but only had confirmation when they saw the death certificates.

Torture and ill treatment in Syrian government prisons remains “systemic,” according to a 2022 report by the UN commission of inquiry on Syria, which noted abuses in detention centers run by non-government factions too.

It said the government was deliberately withholding information from the families of loved ones and has described its detention policies as amounting to crimes against humanity.

Wait continues

In 2018, Syrian authorities began updating civil registries in bulk with the death certificates of people who had died in detention but did not directly inform their relatives, the UN commission said.

The government did not respond to questions about why it had not informed relatives of the deceased.

Relatives in government-held areas could find out if their loved-ones had died by requesting their family records from the civil registries. They were not granted access to bodies to bury them, or told where the remains were, according to the commission and the SNHR.

Others have learned of deaths by recognizing their relatives in leaked pictures taken by military photographers working in prisons, the most prominent of whom was code-named Caesar.

In a 2015 interview, Assad dismissed the Caesar photographs as allegations without evidence. Former war crimes prosecutors described the images as clear proof of systematic torture and mass killings.

SNHR director Fadel Abdul Ghany said he hoped the large batch of death certificates would provide some relief to those still waiting to know the fate of their relatives.

But for Mohammad Hijazi, the wait continues.

While he now knows the fate of his brother Yehya, he said 40 more relatives had been arrested by the government in central Syria and the family had no news of them yet.

Source: Al Arabiya

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://english.alarabiya.net/News/middle-east/2022/12/20/Children-among-547-detained-Syrians-declared-dead-Rights-group-

--------

Body of Irish UNIFIL peacekeeper killed in Lebanon arrives home

19 December ,2022

The body of an Irish United Nations peacekeeper killed in Lebanon was on Monday returned to Ireland with full military honors.

Private Sean Rooney, 23, was killed and three others were wounded on Wednesday after the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) convoy came under fire near the village of al-Aqbiya in the south of the country.

One of the wounded, Private Shane Kearney, remains in a serious condition in hospital.

UNIFIL has demanded a “speedy” investigation into the attack, the motives of which remain unclear.

UNIFIL acts as a buffer between Lebanon and Israel, neighbors which remain technically at war. The force operates in the south near the border, a stronghold of Iran-backed group Hezbollah.

Hezbollah security chief Wafic Safa has said the killing was “unintentional.”

It is the first death of a UNIFIL member in a violent incident in Lebanon since January 2015, when a Spanish peacekeeper was killed by Israeli fire.

UNIFIL was set up in 1978 to monitor the withdrawal of Israeli forces after they invaded Lebanon in reprisal for a Palestinian attack.

Source: Al Arabiya

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://english.alarabiya.net/News/middle-east/2022/12/19/Body-of-Irish-UNIFIL-peacekeeper-killed-in-Lebanon-arrives-home-

--------

UAE delegation in Scotland to explore trade and renewable energy opportunities

19 December ,2022

A delegation of business leaders and investors from the United Arab Emirates have embarked on an official visit to Scotland to explore opportunities for renewable energy projects.

The delegation was led by the UAE’s Minister of State for Foreign Trade, Dr Thani bin Ahmed al-Zeyoudi, and included the Under-Secretary of Abu Dhabi’s Department of Economic Development Rashid Abdul Karim al-Balooshi, and UAE Ambassador to the UK Mansour Abdullah Khalfan Belhoul, the official Emirates News Agency WAM reported on Sunday.

Al-Zeyoudi held talks with Scotland’s Cabinet Secretary for the Constitution, External Affairs and Culture, Angus Robertson, in Edinburgh during which the pair reviewed bilateral relations between their nations and exchanged views on ways to better enhance cooperation.

The UAE trade minister also met with his Scottish counterpart Ivan McKee for discussions on the growing trade and investment relations between their two nations, particularly related to energy, food and agricultural products, as well as opportunities to develop an array of key sectors, including tourism.

The delegation also visited the Scottish Enterprise, a non-departmental public body of the Scottish government which encourage economic development investment and innovation in business.

They also held a meeting at Scottish Development International, where the agency’s CEO Reuben Aitken showcased the potential for hydrogen production in Scotland and its rapidly developing space sector, WAM reported.

During this official visit, al-Zeyoudi held roundtables with a range of senior government officials and private business leaders to discuss renewable energy, infrastructure, trade and establishing pioneering companies and projects.

Scotland and the UAE have enjoyed a strong and growing economic relationship for many years, with significant trade and investment flows between the two countries.

The UAE is one of Scotland’s key trading partners in the Middle East and North Africa region, and Scottish companies export a range of goods and services to the UAE in fields spanning from engineering, renewable energy, education and food.

In turn, the UAE has long been a major investor in Scotland, with a number of UAE-based firms investing in a variety of the country’s sectors such as real estate and tourism.

Source: Al Arabiya

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://english.alarabiya.net/News/gulf/2022/12/19/UAE-delegation-in-Scotland-to-explore-trade-and-renewable-energy-opportunities

--------

Israel launches fresh missile attack on Syrian capital in new act of aggression

19 December 2022

The Israeli regime has launched a new missile attack on the Syrian capital, Damascus, in a new act of aggression against the Arab country.

Syrian media quoted a military source as saying early Tuesday that the attack took place about half an hour after the midnight with bursts of Israeli missiles fired from the northeast of Lake Tiberias, also known as the Sea of Galilee, in the occupied territories.

The military source added that the Israeli missile strike targeted a number of positions in the vicinity of Damascus without causing any loss of life.

“Our air defenses intercepted Israeli missiles and shot down a number of them. The attack resulted in the injury of two soldiers,” the source said.

Israel frequently carries out missile attacks on targets in Syria, mostly using the airspace of Lebanon or the occupied territories.

The regime launched a similar attack on the Syrian capital in late October, during which most of its missiles were shot down by the Syrian air defenses.

The regime frequently violates Syrian sovereignty by targeting military positions inside the country, especially those of the resistance movement Hezbollah, which has played a key role in helping the Syrian army in its fight against foreign-backed terrorists.

Israel mostly keeps quiet about its attacks on the Syrian territories, which many view as a knee-jerk reaction to Syrian government’s increasing success in confronting terrorism.

The Tel Aviv regime has been a main supporter of terrorist groups that have battled the government of President Bashar al-Assad since foreign-backed militancy erupted in Syria in early 2011.

Syrian has repeatedly complained to the UN over Israeli assaults, urging the Security Council to take action against Tel Aviv’s crimes. The calls have, however, fallen on deaf ears.

In early November, Syrian Minister of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates Faisal Mekdad strongly condemned the latest Israeli airstrikes, emphasizing that his country will definitely give a crushing response to such acts of aggression at some point in the future.

Source: Press TV

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.presstv.ir/Detail/2022/12/19/694792/Israel-missile-attack-Syria-damascus

--------

 

South Asia

 

TTP Inmates Seize Police Centre in Pakistan, Demanding Safe Passage to Afghanistan

By Saqalain Eqbal

December 19, 2022

Detained Pakistani Taliban in a Counter Terrorism Department facility in Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa took control of the compound and held security guards as hostages, demanding safe passage to Kabul.

Some Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) detainees overpowered guards overnight at a counter-terrorism facility in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s Bannu district, seizing police firearms, capturing hostages, and taking control of the facility, Associated Press reported citing Pakistani officials.

The incident reportedly started late on Sunday, December 18, and swiftly turned into a standoff in which one counterterrorism officer was killed during the seizure at the detention facility, according to later confirmation from Pakistani officials.

Reports surfacing in the media state that there may be up to 10 hostages held by some 30 gun-wielding Pakistani Taliban involved in the takeover. While the Pakistani Taliban is a distinct organization, they are also allies with the authorities in Afghanistan, who overthrew the internationally-backed government last year as US and NATO forces were preparing to leave Afghanistan.

In exchange for the hostages’ lives, the TTP detainees who overtook the police center reportedly demand safe passage to Kabul, the Afghan capital.

According to the Pakistani authorities, the Pakistani Taliban’s top leaders and commanders have long sought sanctuary in Afghanistan and operate there from bases that carry out cross-border terrorist strikes.

Source: Khaama Press

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.khaama.com/ttp-inmates-seize-police-center-in-pakistan-demanding-safe-passage-to-afghanistan-64896/

--------

Afghan survivors get new homes six months after deadly earthquake

Dec 20, 2022

BARMAL-Labourer Rasool Badshah has moved into a new home six months after a deadly earthquake rocked eastern Afghanistan, but without his mother, who was killed by collapsing walls.

More than 1,000 people were killed and tens of thousands made homeless after the 5.9-magnitude quake - the deadliest in Afghanistan in nearly a quarter of a century -struck the impoverished province of Paktika on June 22.

"When I reached here, my mother, brothers, everyone was already buried," Badshah, 21, told AFP, explaining how he rushed back to his village from Pakistan, where he was working.

Hundreds of earthquake-resilient concrete homes, many built by local labourers with the support of the United Nations refugee agency, have now been handed over to survivors who were until now living in makeshift tent cities.

"We couldn't have built these houses, not even our children or grandchildren (could have)... we could not afford it. We were living in huts," Badshah said.

The UNHCR said the new homes are equipped with solar panels, independent toilets and traditional heaters to help residents face harsh winters.

Even before the earthquake, Afghanistan was in the grip of a humanitarian disaster made worse by the Taliban takeover in August 2021.

International development funding on which the South Asian country relied dried up after the takeover and assets held abroad were frozen.

The remote east where the quake struck had been neglected by authorities for years, said survivor Bara Khan.

"After the earthquake, people came and saw that residents of the area were in trouble. We don't even have a clinic or a school," Khan said.

"Everybody has grown up illiterate."

The UNHCR will start work to build two schools and a clinic in the area, still strewn with rubble, after the winter.

Source: Times Of India

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/south-asia/afghan-survivors-get-new-homes-six-months-after-deadly-earthquake/articleshow/96357563.cms

--------

AIJA Organizes Afghanistan Independent Media Competition 2022

By Nizamuddin Rezahi

December 20, 2022

Afghan Independent Journalists Association (AIJA) with the financial support of one of the elites of the Afghan media community abroad organizes a competitive program in order to encourage the many journalist and media worker in Afghanistan.

The professional achievement and activities of the best “Journalists, photographers, and presenters” will be assessed based on standardized journalism principles and a code of ethics.

Therefore, journalists and media workers falling into one of the above categories can forward their work samples to info@aija.af. The winners will receive cash awards of AFN 83,500, for first place, and 41,000, for second and third places respectively. Also, Ordinary people can participate in this program and vote for their favorite media workers.

Since the overthrow of the previous regime in August 2021, it is the first program of its kind to be organized in Afghanistan – aimed at motivating journalists and media workers, who have been faced with tons of problems in implementing their daily activities. The de facto regime of Afghanistan has imposed tough restrictions, particularly, on private media and news agencies, leading to a large number of media outlets closing their doors.

Lack of financial support is another key reason Afghanistan’s mass media is collapsing. Journalists, presenters, photographers, videographers, and other media personnel who worked for TV broadcasters and news agencies are now either jobless or seeking shelter for their survival. Some have even taken illegal routes to migrate to neighboring countries such as Iran, Pakistan, or Turkey.

Source: Khaama Press

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.khaama.com/aija-organizes-afghanistan-independent-media-competition-2022/

--------

Afghan MoD Engineers Repair 2 Military Aircraft

By Saqalain Eqbal

December 19, 2022

Two ex-Afghan Air Force aircraft, a combat helicopter, and a multipurpose Combat Caravan were repaired and made available for service, the Ministry of Defense (MoD) announced.

The Afghanistan Air Force’s engineering team repaired, successfully tested, and prepared two additional aircraft for flight on Sunday, December 18, according to an MoD release.

The MoD’s expanding air force now includes a large restored Mil Mi-35 gunship helicopter and a multi-use Cessna-208 Caravan utility plane.

There were allegedly 130 operational aircraft in the Afghan Air Force prior to the country’s new leadership taking power in August 2021.

As coalition forces departed and the Afghan Armed Forces disintegrated, many of them were airlifted to nearby countries to escape the group’s lightning offensive.

The Islamist regime in Afghanistan demanded their return as well as deliveries of other aircraft that had previously been promised to the internationally supported Afghan government.

Tajikistan, which interned the majority of Afghani aircraft and pilots, however, said it was not considering returning the aircraft to the authorities in Afghanistan.

The current Afghan air force expanded as the authorities in Afghanistan began pardoning former Afghan Air Force pilots and repairing aircraft that had been inoperative.

Source: Khaama Press

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.khaama.com/afghan-mod-engineers-repair-2-military-aircraft-68486/

--------

 

Mideast

 

Palestinian PM urges UN teams to take action against rise in Israeli killings of Palestinians

19 December 2022

Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh has called upon the United Nations teams in the Israeli-occupied territories to closely monitor unfolding developments on the ground and adopt proper measures in light of an upsurge in the number of Palestinians killed at the hands of Israeli military forces and settlers.

“Given the extrajudicial executions on roads and increasing number of terrorist attacks by Israeli troops and soldiers – the latest of which was a car-ramming assault by an Israeli settler against two brothers Mohammad and Muhannad Yousef Muteir near the city of Nablus, we call on the United Nations teams operating in the occupied lands to deploy monitors on the roads and in the areas where settlers might use to target Palestinians,” Shtayyeh said at a weekly cabinet meeting held in the central West Bank city of Ramallah on Monday.

“The UN has more than 400 vehicles and more than 1,000 staffers that can be trained as monitors to observe and document the actions of Israeli soldiers and settlers,” he said.

Zakaria Fayala, a spokesperson for al-Quds Governorate, told the official Palestinian news agency Wafa that Mohammad and Muhannad Yousef Muteir were on the side of the road near the Israeli checkpoint of Za’tara on Saturday night, fixing a puncture in one of the tires of their vehicle when an Israeli settler drove his car into them.

Mohammad died instantly while Muhannad was seriously injured.

Mohammad’s body was taken to a hospital in the city of Nablus, while Muhannad was rushed to an Israeli hospital for medical treatment, where he was pronounced dead shortly after arrival.

Israeli forces have recently been conducting overnight raids and killings in the northern occupied West Bank, mainly in the cities of Jenin and Nablus, where new groups of Palestinian resistance fighters have been formed.

Since the start of 2022, Israeli troops have killed more than 210 Palestinians, including more than 50 children, in the occupied West Bank and East al-Quds as well as the besieged Gaza Strip.

According to the United Nations, the number of Palestinians killed by Israel in the occupied West Bank this year is the highest in 16 years.

Local and international rights groups have condemned Israel’s excessive use of force and “shoot-to-kill policy” against Palestinians.

Shtayyeh also condemned Israel’s deportation of Palestinian-French human rights lawyer Salah Hammouri after revoking his right to live in his hometown of al-Quds.

Hammouri landed in Paris on Sunday morning. Wearing a black track suit and black and white keffiyeh, or Palestinian headscarf, around his neck, he was greeted by his wife and a group of supporters.

He lambasted the Israeli regime for “ethnic cleansing” and said his deportation was meant “to show the generations that nobody can resist Israel.” He vowed to fight the order.

“We condemn the deportation of al-Quds citizen Salah Hammouri to France, after Israeli authorities arrested him administratively, withdrew his residency papers, and deprived him of his natural right to reside in his hometown,” Shtayyeh pointed out.

The senior Palestinian official also slammed remarks by Israeli Prime Minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu in which he said he will not give the Palestinians more than self-rule and that security will remain in the hands of Israel.

“Netanyahu’s comments will impinge upon the right of our nation to establish an independent state. The right has been achieved through great sacrifices and endorsed by international resolutions. It cannot be abdicated by a statement or a of an Israeli official,” Shtayyeh said.

Source: Press TV

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.presstv.ir/Detail/2022/12/19/694764/Palestinian-PM-urges-UN-teams-to-take-action-against-rise-in-Israeli-killings-of-Palestinians

--------

Terrifying future awaits Saudi Arabia, allies over war on Yemen: Senior Ansarullah official

20 December 2022

A top-ranking Yemeni official has warned that terrifying future and terrible fate await Saudi Arabia and its regional allies, which have waged a devastating war and a brutal siege against Yemen.

Mohammad Ali al-Houthi wrote in a tweet on Monday evening that the Yemeni nation will resolutely continue their steadfastness in the face of the Saudi-led war coalition.

“Retaliatory strikes and attacks against enemy targets will be much more stinging and hurtful than before,” said Houthi, who is a member of Yemen’s Supreme Political Council.

“It would be a rather appropriate response from the Yemeni nation to aggressors in case a Saudi Aramco facility was shut down for a whole day to put out a massive blaze. Within the next few days, such a period of time would not be sufficient at all to put out fires at the company’s installations,” he said.

“The Yemeni nation is well aware of the fact that deployment of aggressor forces on their country’s soil is the main cause of the excruciating pains and suffering that people are going through. This has, however, bolstered the resolve and determination of Yemenis against aggressors,” Houthi added.

The senior Ansarullah official also praised Yemeni army troops and fighters from the allied Popular Committees for their victories in battles against Saudi-led coalition forces and their Takfiri mercenaries.

Earlier, the Yemeni Supreme Political Council stated that the country’s armed forces are prepared to stand up to any plot by the US and the Israeli regime that would be directed at Yemen’s resources, islands and waterways.

“The Yemeni armed forces are prepared to confront the avaricious plots of the United States and the Israeli regime against the country’s resources, islands and waterways. They are ready to face any threat against [Yemen’s] national sovereignty,” the council announced in a statement on Monday, stressing the full combat preparedness of Yemeni soldiers and fighters from the Popular Committees.

Saudi Arabia launched the devastating war on Yemen in March 2015 in collaboration with its Arab allies and with arms and logistics support from the US and other Western states.

The objective was to reinstall the Riyadh-friendly regime of Abd Rabbuh Mansour Hadi and crush the popular Ansarullah resistance movement, which has been running state affairs in the absence of a functional government in Yemen.

Source: Press TV

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.presstv.ir/Detail/2022/12/20/694798/Bleak-future-awaits-Saudi-Arabia-allies-waging-war-Yemen

--------

UN reports highest number of fatalities in years in Israeli-Palestinian conflict

Betül Yürük  

20.12.2022

The UN’s Middle East envoy said Monday that more than 150 Palestinians and over 20 Israelis have been killed in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict so far this year, marking the highest number of fatalities in years.

''I am gravely concerned by the sharp increase in violence against civilians on both sides, which exacerbates mistrust and undermines a peaceful resolution to the conflict,'' Tor Wennesland told the UN Security Council.

Wennesland called for an end to the violence and for all perpetrators to be held accountable.

He also expressed concern over Israeli settlement expansion in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, which the world body says constitutes a flagrant violation of UN resolutions and international law.

Some 4,800 housing units were advanced this year in Area C of the West Bank, and the number of housing units advanced more than tripled from the previous year – from 900 units in 2021 to 3,100 units in 2022, he said.

He urged Israel to cease advancement of all settlement activities as well as the demolition of Palestinian-owned properties.

Source: Anadolu Agency

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/middle-east/un-reports-highest-number-of-fatalities-in-years-in-israeli-palestinian-conflict/2767873

--------

Iran says Jordan summit ‘good opportunity’ for nuclear talks

19 December ,2022

Iran's foreign minister said Monday that a summit to take place this week in Jordan will be a “good opportunity” for negotiations aimed at restoring the 2015 nuclear accord.

On-off talks to revive the deal, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), started in April last year directly between Iran and Britain, China, France, Germany and Russia, and indirectly with the United States.

But the indirect talks between the Washington and Tehran, mediated by the European Union, have stalled for several months with Iran facing protests over the September 16 death in custody of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old Iranian of Kurdish origin.

“Jordan is a good opportunity for us to complete these discussions,” Iran's top diplomat Hossein Amir-Abdollahian told reporters in Tehran.

His comments come a day before Jordan hosts the “Baghdad II” conference on Tuesday, bringing together key Middle East and international players -- including Iran and Saudi Arabia -- in a bid to defuse regional tensions.

Amir-Abdollahian and EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell are both expected to attend.

“I hope that... we will see a change of approach and the American side will behave realistically,” Amir-Abdollahian said.

“I say clearly to the Americans; that they must choose between hypocrisy, and the request to reach an agreement and the United States' return to the JCPOA,” he added.

Meanwhile, a UN nuclear watchdog team led by deputy director-general Massimo Aparo left Iran on Monday, after a one-day visit aimed at resolving a years-long impasse over an enquiry into undeclared uranium particles found in the country, ISNA news agency reported.

The International Atomic Energy Agency team met with Iranian officials including Mohammad Eslami, the head of the Atomic Energy Organisation of Iran, ISNA said.

The IAEA has for years been calling on Iran to explain the presence of undeclared man-made uranium found at three sites, requesting access and the collection of samples.

The two parties discussed “future cooperation” among other issues, ISNA said.

The 2015 agreement gave Iran sanctions relief in exchange for curbs on its nuclear program to guarantee that Tehran could not develop a nuclear weapon -- something it has always denied wanting to do.

Source: Al Arabiya

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://english.alarabiya.net/News/middle-east/2022/12/19/Iran-says-Jordan-summit-good-opportunity-for-nuclear-talks-

--------

UN nuclear officials leave Iran after talks, result unclear

19 December ,2022

UN nuclear watchdog officials left Iran on Monday after talks with the head of its nuclear energy organization, the semi-official ISNA news agency reported, without saying whether they addressed an impasse over uranium traces at undeclared sites.

The issue has been an obstacle to progress in wider talks to revive Iran’s 2015 nuclear deal with major powers, meant to curb its disputed uranium enrichment program in return for lifting sanctions imposed by Washington after exiting the pact in 2018.

Talks to restore the nuclear accord have been at a stalemate since September. Western powers accuse the Islamic Republic of raising unreasonable demands after all sides appeared to be nearing a deal.

The uphill climb to salvage the pact has grown steeper this year. Iran has brutally cracked down on street protests, Western states say Russia has used Iranian drones in its war in Ukraine, and Tehran has accelerated its nuclear program, all of which raise the political price to giving Iran sanctions relief.

Iran has acknowledged that it supplied Moscow with drones but said they were sent before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Speaking at a conference in Tehran, Kamal Kharrazi, a senior adviser to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, said the issue of nuclear safeguards was the last one to resolve ahead of reviving the deal, the semi-official Tasnim news agency said.

“Iran is ready to return to its JCPOA (nuclear deal) obligations. Many problems have been resolved in the negotiations, now the only issue is safeguards,” it quoted Kharrazi as saying.

“We hope that this matter will be resolved during the visit of the (UN nuclear) agency’s delegation to Tehran,” he said.

The United States said in October that reviving deal was “not our focus right now” as Iran had showed little interest, and that Washington was concentrating on how to support Iranian protesters - a view echoed by Germany in November.

ISNA said the delegation of the International Atomic Energy Agency, led by the IAEA’s deputy director general for safeguards, Massimo Aparo, held negotiations with Iranian teams and met Mohammad Eslami, head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization.

The two sides exchanged views on “future joint cooperation and programs, in addition to safeguarding issues,” ISNA said.

Speaking last week, Eslami said he hoped the IAEA visit could help resolve outstanding issues between the two sides.

Source: Al Arabiya

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://english.alarabiya.net/News/middle-east/2022/12/19/UN-nuclear-officials-leave-Iran-after-talks-result-unclear

--------

Four Iranian security personnel killed in southeast Iran, IRNA says

19 December ,2022

Four members of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards were killed in the country’s southeast and the killers fled to neighboring Pakistan after coming under fire, the official IRNA news agency reported on Monday.

IRNA gave no further details about the incident in the Saravan area of Sistan-Baluchistan province, scene of some of the deadliest unrest during Iran’s nationwide protests, and a region where security forces clash often with drug smugglers.

Citing a Revolutionary Guards statement, IRNA said three of the dead were members of the Basij, a militia affiliated with the Revolutionary Guards that has been widely deployed during a state crackdown against protesters.

“The perpetrators of attack ... fled to Pakistan after receiving heavy fire,” IRNA reported, citing a statement issued by the Guards.

The impoverished Sistan-Baluchistan province is home to the Baluchi minority, an ethnic group which follows Sunni Islam rather than the Shia Islam of Iran’s clerical leaders and has long complained of discrimination by the authorities.

The provincial capital, Zahedan, was scene of some of the deadliest unrest during the wave of nationwide protests ignited by Mahsa Amini’s death in morality police custody, when security forces killed at least 66 people in a crackdown on September 30, according to Amnesty International.

The unrest, in which demonstrators from all walks of life have called for the fall of Iran’s ruling theocracy, has posed one of the biggest challenges to the Shia-ruled Islamic Republic since its 1979 revolution.

A Baluchi militant group, Jaish al-Adl, has previously mounted attacks on Iranian security forces in the area. Iranian authorities say the group operates from safe havens in Pakistan.

Source: Al Arabiya

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://english.alarabiya.net/News/middle-east/2022/12/19/Four-Iranian-security-personnel-killed-in-southeast-Iran-IRNA-says

--------

Israel’s Netanyahu accuses New York Times of ‘undermining’ incoming government

Abdel Raouf Arnaout  

19.12.2022

JERUSALEM

Israeli Prime Minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday accused The New York Times of calling for undermining his prospective government.

“After burying the Holocaust for years on its back pages and demonizing Israel for decades on its front pages, the New York Times now shamefully calls for undermining Israel’s elected incoming government,” Netanyahu tweeted.

“While the NYT continues to delegitimize the one true democracy in the Middle East and America’s best ally in the region, I will continue to ignore its ill-founded advice and instead focus on building a stronger and more prosperous country, strengthening ties with America, expanding peace with our neighbors, and securing the future of the one and only Jewish state,” he added.

On Saturday, the US newspaper criticized Netanyahu’s upcoming government in an editorial titled, “The ideal of democracy in a Jewish State is in jeopardy.”

The newspaper particularly criticized far-right politician Itamar Ben-Gvir, who is expected to be a minister of national security, warning that his actions "risk provoking a new round of Arab-Israeli violence."

Ben-Gvir holds far-right views on the Palestinians. He has repeatedly joined Israeli settlers in storming the flashpoint Al-Aqsa Mosque complex in occupied East Jerusalem.

He had previously called for the displacement of Palestinians and caused a wave of violence in East Jerusalem after setting up an office in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood.

Last month, Israeli President Isaac Herzog said in a leaked audio that "the whole world is worried" about the far-right views of Ben-Gvir.

Source: Anadolu Agency

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/middle-east/israel-s-netanyahu-accuses-new-york-times-of-undermining-incoming-government/2767668

--------

Yemeni forces prepared to thwart US, Israeli plots against national resources, islands: Top council

19 December 2022

The Yemeni Supreme Political Council says the country’s Armed Forces are prepared to stand up to any bids by the US and the Israeli regime that would be directed at Yemen's resources, islands and waterways.

“Yemeni Armed Forces are prepared to confront the avaricious plots of the United States and the Israeli regime against the country's resources, islands and waterways. They are ready to face up to any threat against the national sovereignty,” the council announced in a statement on Monday, stressing the full combat preparedness of Yemeni soldiers and fighters from Popular Committees.

This came as a report said in September that a delegation of Israeli military experts had apparently been stationed to the Yemeni island of Socotra, more than six months after it was reported that the United Arab Emirates was constructing a settlement on the strategic island to accommodate dozens of Israeli soldiers, officers and military experts.

The Arabic-language Yemen Press Agency, citing informed sources speaking on condition of anonymity, reported that an Israeli military delegation along with a number of UAE intelligence officers have been present on Socotra Island since a few days ago.

Home to some 60,000 people, Socotra overlooks the Bab el-Mandeb Strait, a main shipping route that connects the Red Sea to the Gulf of Aden and the Arabian Sea. It has a unique ecosystem.

Israel and the UAE are currently making all logistical preparations to establish intelligence bases to collect information from across the Gulf of Aden, including Bab el-Mandeb and south of Yemen, which is under the control of forces backed by the UAE, the report said.

This is while the US is also making aggressive attempts to wrest control over energy reserves and plunder natural resources in conflict-plagued Yemen.

In the Monday statement, the council also said that it will “adopt proper measures when the time is ripe, and will not allow the Saudi-led coalition of aggression to get Yemen caught in an endless cycle of chaos and uncertainty.”

“We once again reiterate that we are striving for an honorable peace that would ensure Yemen’s sovereignty and independence, and would safeguard its territorial integrity. We welcome any meaningful and viable initiative in this regard,” the council added.

The Yemeni Supreme Political Council also underlined the need that humanitarian issues must be separated from political and military matters. “Progress in this regard will strongly indicate the success of any future mediations, negotiations or contacts.”

Meanwhile, Yemeni Minister of Human Rights Ali al-Dailami has strongly condemned the US and Britain over obstructing prosecution of criminals involved in offenses against his nation.

He said in a statement that certain Western powers and the UN Security Council are impeding efforts aimed at opening Yemen’s human rights file, as they are the parties that trade in the blood of Yemenis.

“The Security Council and its mechanisms represent part of the problems facing moves meant to expose the violations and crimes of the Saudi-led coalition,” Dailami noted.

“More than 170 Arab and international organizations have in separate statements called for holding the member states of the Saudi-led coalition accountable for their crimes in Yemen,” the Yemeni minister of human rights pointed out.

Saudi Arabia launched the devastating war on Yemen in March 2015 in collaboration with its Arab allies and with arms and logistics support from the US and other Western states.

The objective was to reinstall the Riyadh-friendly regime of Abd Rabbuh Mansour Hadi and crush the popular Ansarullah resistance movement, which has been running state affairs in the absence of a functional government in Yemen.

Source: Press TV

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.presstv.ir/Detail/2022/12/19/694784/Yemeni-Armed-Forces-prepared-to-confront-US,-Israeli-plots-against-national-resources,-waterways--Top-council

--------

Palestinian youth dies of injuries sustained in Israeli attack in Jenin

19 December 2022

A Palestinian shot and critically injured by Israeli forces during a recent confrontation in the occupied West Bank has died of his wounds.

The 23-year-old, identified as Tamer Nasharti from the Jenin refugee camp, was pronounced dead at Ramallah hospital on Monday after a few days, the Palestinian Information Center reported, citing the Palestinian Health Ministry.

Resistance groups have condemned the killing.

Dozens of Palestinians have been killed over the course of 2022 in attacks by Israeli forces in and around Jenin. The city is a focal point of Palestinian protests against the regime of Israel. In the occupied West Bank and the besieged Gaza Strip, Israel has killed nearly 200 Palestinians, including 43 children, in the same period. The United Nations says the regime has killed the highest number of Palestinians in the West Bank in 16 years.

Local and international rights groups have condemned Israel’s excessive use of force and “shoot-to-kill policy” against Palestinians.

Israeli forces arrest 17 Palestinians, including pregnant woman

Israeli forces also detained at least 17 Palestinians in a large-scale arrest campaign in several areas across the West Bank and al-Quds. The Palestinian Prisoners Society (PPS) said among those detained was 36-year-old Nihal Mohammad Ribee, who is in her fifth month of pregnancy. She was forcibly taken from her home in the town of Yatta in southern West Bank. Ribee’s husband and minor son were already being held behind Israeli bars.

Local activist Rateb al-Jabour told WAFA news agency Israeli soldiers also abducted two high school students in Yatta, and a fourth person was detained in the town of Dura, south of al-Khalil. Undercover Israeli agents arrested three Palestinians in Bethlehem. Regime forces also detained a former prisoner after forcing their way into the town of Burqin, west of Jenin. Three young Palestinians were also beaten and detained during a violent raid into their home in Sur Baher neighborhood of East al-Quds.

Source: Press TV

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.presstv.ir/Detail/2022/12/19/694781/Jenin-Tamer-Nasharti

--------

 

Africa

 

Libya court sentences 17 Islamic State members to death

Marita Kassis

December 19, 2022

A Libyan court sentenced 17 former Islamic State (IS) members to death on Monday on charges of joining the group and killing 53 people.

The Tripoli-based top prosecutor issued a statement saying that these 17 former members were convicted of the death of 53 people and the destruction of public property while attacking “the state and social peace," The Associated Press reported. The statement added that another 16 militants were given lesser sentences, two with life in prison.

Details about when the sentences will be carried out are still unknown.

The North African nation has been divided between two competing administrations for years, one based in the east and the other in the west, each supported by different foreign powers. The division resulted from the NATO-backed revolt that brought down Moammar Gadhafi in 2011. The chaos that ensued left a power vacuum that was filled by different groups and a tangible power struggle.

The chaos helped IS seize various areas and establish administrative pockets across the country but without gaining supremacy due to the presence of armed militia forces scattered everywhere.

Source: Al Monitor

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.al-monitor.com/originals/2022/12/libya-court-sentences-17-islamic-state-members-death

--------

Libya finds new mass grave south of Tripoli

Walid Abdullah  

19.12.2022

TRIPOLI, Libya

Libyan authorities exhumed two bodies from a new mass grave south of the capital Tripoli on Monday.

In a statement, the General Authority for Research and Identification of Missing Persons said the two unidentified bodies were found in a grave in the town of Sog Al-Khamies, nearly 50 kilometers south of Tripoli.

The town was under the control of Libyan warlord Khalifa Haftar before he was defeated by Libyan government forces in June 2020, and was consequently forced to retract to his stronghold in Benghazi city in eastern Libya.

Discoveries of mass graves are common in war-torn Libya, especially in Tarhuna city, a former stronghold for Haftar.

Source: Anadolu Agency

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/africa/libya-finds-new-mass-grave-south-of-tripoli/2767714

--------

Handover of a Libyan suspect opens a new chapter in Lockerbie bombing horror story

JONATHAN GORNALL

December 19, 2022

LONDON: It happened more than three decades ago, but the horror that was the bombing of Pan Am flight 103 lives on, for the families of the slain, for the Scottish community torn apart when the flaming wreckage crashed down in pieces on their town and for the first responders who arrived to find hellish scenes none would ever forget.

For some, the arrest last week of a Libyan man charged with having made the bomb that downed the jumbo jet over Lockerbie on Dec. 21, 1988, offers the prospect of long overdue justice for the 270 victims of the disaster and their families.

For others, though, confidence in the judicial system and the joint US-Scottish investigation that has led to the latest arrest was shaken long ago by uncertainties that continue to hang over the trial and conviction in May 2000 of another Libyan, Abdelbaset Al-Megrahi, who in 2001 was found guilty of carrying out the bombing.

The undisputed facts of the case, which will doubtless be rehearsed again during the upcoming trial, are harrowing.

The Boeing 747, en route from London to New York City, was just half an hour into its flight and cruising at 31,000 feet when the bomb exploded shortly after 7 p.m., scattering aircraft parts, luggage and bodies over a wide area. The investigators would be faced with a crime scene of 2,200 square kilometers.

On board the doomed aircraft were 259 passengers and crew of 21 nationalities. The oldest victim was 82, the youngest a two-month-old baby, found held tight in her dead mother’s arms.

The 190 Americans on the flight included a party of 35 students from Syracuse University, returning home for Christmas after an overseas study tour.

Eleven more people died in their homes on the ground. Among them were the Flannigans, mother and father Kathleen, 41, Thomas, 44, and their daughter Joanne, aged 10.

Joanne’s body was eventually found in the deep crater gouged out of the street where the family lived, but her parents’ remains were never recovered.

Last week, 71-year-old Abu Agila Mohammad Masud Kheir Al-Marimi, an alleged former intelligence officer for the regime of Libyan dictator Muammar Qaddafi, appeared in a US court accused of being the bombmaker.

It is a stunning development in a case which, for many relatives of the dead, has never been satisfactorily settled. Masud’s anticipated trial represents an unexpected opportunity for the many remaining doubts surrounding the Lockerbie disaster to be resolved once and for all.

Key among them is the suspicion, which has persisted for three decades, that the Libyans were falsely accused of a crime that was actually perpetrated by the Iranian regime.

Iran certainly had a motive. On July 3, 1988, five months before the bombing, Iran Air flight 655, an Airbus A300 carrying Iranian pilgrims bound for Makkah, had been shot down accidentally over the Strait of Hormuz by a US guided-missile cruiser, the Vincennes.

All 290 people on board were killed, including 66 children and 16 members of one family, who had been traveling to Dubai for a wedding.

In 1991, a subsequently declassified secret report from within the US Defense Intelligence Agency made it clear that from the outset Iran was the number-one suspect.

Ayatollah Mohtashemi, a former Iranian interior minister, was “closely connected to the Al-Abas and Abu Nidal terrorist groups,” it read.

He had “recently paid $10 million in cash and gold to these two organizations to carry out terrorist activities and ... paid the same amount to bomb Pam Am flight 103, in retaliation for the US shoot-down of the Iranian Airbus.”

The evidence implicating Iran piled up. It emerged that two months before the bombing, German police had raided a cell of the terror group Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine — General Command and seized a bomb hidden in a Toshiba cassette player, just like the one that would be used to blow up Pan Am flight 103.

Yet in November 1991 it was two Libyan intelligence operatives, Abdel Baset Ali Al-Megrahi and Lamen Khalifa Fhimah, who were charged with the murders. The case against them was circumstantial at best.

After years of negotiations with Qaddafi’s government, the two men were eventually handed over to be tried in a specially convened Scottish court in the Netherlands. Their trial began in May 2000, and on Jan. 31, 2001, Al-Megrahi was found guilty and Fhimah was acquitted.

The crown’s case was that an unaccompanied suitcase containing the bomb had been carried on an Air Malta flight from Luqa Airport in Malta to Frankfurt. There, it was transferred to a Pan Am aircraft to London, where it was loaded onto flight 103.

Inside the suitcase, wrapped in clothing, was the Toshiba cassette player containing the bomb.

A small part of a printed circuit board, believed to be from the bomb timer, was found in the wreckage, along with a fragment of a piece of clothing. This was traced to a store in Malta where the owner, Tony Gauci, told police he remembered selling it to a Libyan man.

Gauci, who died in 2016, was the prosecution’s main witness, but from the outset there were serious doubts about his evidence. He was interviewed 23 times by Scottish police before he finally identified Al-Megrahi — and only then after seeing the wanted man’s photograph in a newspaper article naming him as a suspect.

In their judgment, even the three Scottish judges conceded that “on the matter of identification of the … accused, there are undoubtedly problems.”

Worse, in 2007 Scottish newspaper The Herald claimed that the CIA had offered Gauci $2 million to give evidence in the case.

Another part of the prosecution’s case was that the fingernail-sized fragment of circuit board found in the wreckage, believed to have been part of the timer that triggered the bomb, matched a batch of timers supplied to Libya by a Swiss company in 1985.

However, the company insisted the timer on the aircraft had not been supplied to Libya, and in 2007 its CEO claimed that he had been offered $4 million by the FBI to say that it had.

Many have denounced the trial as a sham, suggesting that Qaddafi agreed to surrender Al-Megrahi and Fhimah, accept responsibility for the attack and pay compensation to the families of the victims, only because the US promised that the sanctions that had been imposed on Libya would be eased.

After Al-Megrahi’s appeal against his conviction was rejected in March 2002, one of the independent UN observers assigned to the case as a condition of Libya’s cooperation condemned what he called the “spectacular miscarriage of justice.”

Professor Hans Kochler said that he was “not convinced at all that the sequence of events that led to this explosion of the plane over Scotland was as described by the court. Everything that is presented is only circumstantial evidence.”

It remains to be seen what evidence will be presented in the upcoming trial of Masud.

Reports say that he was released only last year from prison in Libya, having been jailed for a decade for his part in the government of Qaddafi, who was overthrown in 2011.

Last week, Libya’s Prime Minister Abdul Hamid Dbeibah said that his government had handed Masud over to the Americans.

“An arrest warrant was issued against him from Interpol,” he said on Dec. 16. “It has become imperative for us to cooperate in this file for the sake of Libya’s interest and stability.”

As Dbeibah put it, Libya “had to wipe the mark of terrorism from the Libyan people’s forehead.”

From the very beginning, one of the strongest advocates for the innocence of Al-Megrahi was Jim Swire, a British doctor whose daughter Flora died in the bombing on the eve of her 24th birthday. Now 86, Swire has spent the past three decades campaigning tirelessly to expose what he believes was a miscarriage of justice.

Al-Megrahi, suffering from prostate cancer, was released from prison on compassionate grounds in 2009. Shortly before his death in Libya in 2012, he was visited in his sick bed by Swire, who in an interview last year recalled Al-Megrahi’s last words to him: “I am going to a place where I hope soon to see Flora. I will tell her that her father is my friend.”

Last week, Swire called for the trial of Masud not to be held in the US or Scotland.

“There are so many loose ends that hang from this dreadful case, largely emanating from America, that I think we should … seek a court that is free of being beholden to any nation directly involved in the atrocity itself,” he said.

Source: Arab News

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.arabnews.com/node/2218746/world

--------

Sudan’s forces use tear gas, stun grenades to disperse rally against post-coup deal

19 December 2022

Sudanese security forces have clashed with protesters in the capital Khartoum during a rally against a much-criticized deal purportedly aimed at ending the crisis provoked by the 2021 military coup.

Violence broke out on Monday after Sudanese security forces in the city used tear gas and stun grenades to scatter thousands of protesters who had gathered in a public display of objection to the tentative agreement signed by military and civilian leaders earlier in the month.

The deal, signed by the military leaders who staged the coup last year and political parties on December 5, faces major challenges such as limited public backing and the deferral of contentious issues, including transitional justice and reform of the security forces.

Calling for civilian rule and chanting, "You will not rule us with this deal," the protesters marched to within about 1.5 kilometers of the presidential palace, while police blocked their way with armored trucks.

“The revolution will continue and will not stop. Our basic demand is to live a decent life in this country, and we will not give up our rights in any way, even if agreements were signed between politicians and soldiers, this is not what the Sudanese people want,” said Al-Jamri, a protester in the capital.

“We will not accept anything other than a civilian government,” said Samira Hassan, another protester.

Similar rallies were reported in other cities, with protesters waving Sudanese flags and carrying posters with the images of people killed during anti-coup demonstrations since October 2021.

Ahead of the Monday protests, security forces had closed roads leading to the defense ministry premises and shut several of the bridges linking Khartoum with its adjoining cities of Omdurman and Bahri – the scenes of similar demonstrations.

The protests coincided with the fourth anniversary of the outbreak of months-long mass protests that toppled long-time ruler Omar al-Bashir in April 2019.

Bashir's three-decade rule was followed by a short-lived transition to civilian rule, upended in October last year, when army chief Abdel Fattah al-Burhan led the coup. Sudan has plunged deeper into political and economic turmoil ever since.

Since October 2021, more than 120 civilians have been killed by security forces.

Source: Press TV

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.presstv.ir/Detail/2022/12/19/694779/Sudanese-security-forces-protesters-capital-Khartoum-military-coup

--------

Three Jordanian police officers killed in raid on hideout of suspected killers of senior policeman

19 December 2022

Three members of Jordanian security force have been killed as they raided a hideout of militants suspected of gunning down a high-ranking police officer during protests in the southern city of Ma’an over high fuel prices.

The Public Security Directorate said officers surrounded the location of several suspects on Monday. One of the suspects “fired heavy bullets from an automatic weapon,” and the officers returned fire.

The statement added that the suspect in the killing of the deputy police chief of Ma'an province, Colonel Abdul Razzaq Dalabeh, who died on Thursday from a gunshot wound in the head during protests in the town of al-Husseiniya, was killed in the fire exchange.

The agency described the suspect, who has not been identified, as “ascribing to Takfiri ideology.”

“The Public Security Directorate mourns the martyrdom of three of its members... during the raid on the terror cell” which also wounded five officers, it added.

Nine other suspects, four of whom are connected to Dalabeh's killing, were arrested in the operation. Automatic firearms and a large amount of ammunition were seized as well, the statement said.

On Saturday, Jordanian authorities said they had arrested 44 people in connection with protests in several southern provinces and cities of the kingdom.

More than a week ago, cab and truck drivers began strike actions along with mostly peaceful demonstrations.

They were joined by bus drivers, and merchants who closed their shops on Wednesday to protest higher fuel costs.

Clashes erupted last week when demonstrators blocked roads with burning tires, and confronted security forces in some areas.

Source: Press TV

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.presstv.ir/Detail/2022/12/19/694772/Three-Jordanian-police-officers-killed-in-raid-on-shooting-suspects%E2%80%99-hideout

--------

URL:  https://newageislam.com/islamic-world-news/radicalised-islamists-tablighi-jamaat-prophet/d/128672

 

New Age IslamIslam OnlineIslamic WebsiteAfrican Muslim NewsArab World NewsSouth Asia NewsIndian Muslim NewsWorld Muslim NewsWomen in IslamIslamic FeminismArab WomenWomen In ArabIslamophobia in AmericaMuslim Women in WestIslam Women and Feminism

 

Loading..

Loading..