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Islamic World News ( 21 Dec 2015, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Random arrests of Muslim youths leading to radicalisation: Telangana Police chief

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photo: Ramesh Pathania/Mint

India

Random arrests of Muslim youths leading to radicalisation: Telangana Police chief

How are Muslims spread on India’s economic map?

Muslims and Islam: Key Findings in U.S., World: Pew Report

India, Pakistan appear interested in boosting understanding: US

Mumbai fears three youth may have joined militant group, possibly IS

Amid fears of ties with AQIS, search on for SIMI trio who escaped jail

Salman Khurshid’s book: No Indian PM can sign away Kashmir, Manmohan told Nawaz Sharif

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Pakistan

Hindus in Pakistan to pay respect to Prophet Muhammad, promote Islam as peaceful religion

PEMRA directs TV channels to deny space to defenders of terror groups

SC issues detailed verdict in Mumtaz Qadri death penalty case

Milad, Christmas preparations enter last lap

One killed, six injured in gun attack on passenger van in Balochistan's Loralai

Govt delaying madaris’ enrolment, claims WM

Hafizabad getting bridal-like look for Eid Miladun Nabi

Pakistani ambassador in Syria calls on Syrian interior minister

Pak, US generals discuss Afghan situation

Judge orders Dr Asim’s trial on terror charge

Full details of Saudi-led coalition not yet available: Sartaj

A British physicist ignored Taliban threats to teach in Pakistan

Soldier among 3 killed in Mohmand blasts

Admin, police all set for Eid Miladun Nabi

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Southeast Asia

Police Out in Force to Guard Indonesia's 33,809 Churches Over Holidays

Islamic State eyeing Indonesia for ‘distant caliphate’: Australia

China anti-terror law may restrict media reporting on attacks

Indonesia has potential to become center of Islamic civilization

Khalid: It’s Umno that damaged Islam’s image

5 years’ jail for Brunei Muslims partaking in Christmas

Syria funds suggest IS link to militants arrested in Indonesia

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Arab World

OIC chief: Freedom of speech doesn’t mean insulting Islam

ISIS lost 14 pct of its territory in 2015: report

Iraqi Forces Launch Large-Scale Operation to Complete Control over Ramadi

47 Militants Killed by Syrian Army across Damascus Province

ISIL Kills 9 Schoolgirls in Syria

Syria in Last 24 Hours: Army Inflicts Heavy Losses on Terrorists in Several Provinces

WMC slams terror, urges Muslim unity

Global support to Islamic anti-terror alliance hailed

Syrian Army Finds Saudi Aid Supplies in Positions Seized from Terrorists Southwest Aleppo

Army Kills Top Terrorist Commander in Damascus

Russian-Syrian Airstrikes Target ISIL's Long Columns of Oil Tankers

Syria: Nusra Positions Annihilated in Idlib Village

The Islamic State in possession of "tens of thousands" of blank passports

Saudi reformist writer jailed for four years

Syrian Army, Hezbollah Take Back More Lands Southwest of Aleppo Province

Terrorists Perished in Syria's Hama

Kuwaiti MP dies during parliament session

About 20 killed in strikes on ISIS in Iraq’s Mosul

Lebanon cabinet agrees to export country’s waste

U.N. mulls ways to monitor possible Syria truce

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North America

U.N.: People who reject Syrian refugees are allies of extremists

Most of the Americans are not Islamophobes

US: Man suspected of making bomb to harm Muslims arrested

Choosing faith over fear, unity over extremism in US capital

US school district closed due to threat of violence

Swiss Islamic body denies member promoting militancy

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Mideast

Hezbollah chief vows retaliation for Kantar killing

Iran blames Israeli lobby for U.S. visa changes

New passports will refer to Palestinian state, says Abbas

Efforts underway for Iran-Saudi dialogue: Tehran

Turkey’s pro-Kurdish party leader to visit Moscow this week

Yemen truce fragile as rebels threaten Saudi Arabia

Turkish forces clash with PKK as curfews expanded

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Europe

Hungary urged to end anti-refugee stance

France, Russia to ‘strengthen’ intel exchange on ISIS

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Africa

1 million kids out of school over Boko Haram violence: UNICEF

Two migrants drown, 108 rescued off Libya

S.Sudan rebels return to capital for peace process

UK to increase support to Nigeria against Boko Haram

24 Libyan municipalities sign up to unity deal

Tunisia's Sidi Bouzid: Five years after revolution, people still suffering

Two killed in extremist attack on cars in Kenya’s north: official

Muslims shield Christians in Kenya attack

Canada looking at ‘wider’ ISIS threats in Libya, Sinai

Nigerian Shia detainees dying due to lack of medical care: IMN

Mali declares 10-day state of emergency

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South Asia

Bangladeshi Islamic leaders slam the Caliphate, "enemy of Muslims"

Taliban treated alongside angry soldiers in Afghan hospital

Islamic State radio show seeks new recruits in Afghanistan

Suicide attack on US-Afghan patrol kills six Nato soldiers

Afghan Air Force expecting to receive 4 light attack aircraft in January

Police arrest five suspects accused of firing rockets on Kabul city

Human rights groups urge US to grant asylum to Bangladesh bloggers

Compiled by New Age Islam Edit Bureau

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India

 

Random arrests of Muslim youths leading to radicalisation: Telangana Police chief

By Deeptiman Tiwary

New Delhi

Dec 22, 2015

Socio-economic exclusion of Muslims and random arrests of youths from the community in the aftermath of a terror attack are leading to radicalisation among the minorities. This was the running theme of a presentation and discussion on radicalisation at the conference of Director Generals of Police (DGPs) in Bhuj, that concluded on Sunday.

While there were 10 presentations on various aspects of internal security at the annual meet organised by the Intelligence Bureau, the one on radicalisation, presented by Telangana DGP Anurag Sharma, was the most critical in the context of threats from the Islamic State.

According to sources, Sharma said there was a sense of alienation among Muslims as “expected social and economic benefits” had not reached them. He highlighted how areas inhabited by minorities were generally bereft of civic amenities and dearth of economic opportunities. All this, he said, made the community vulnerable to radicalisation.

To illustrate how random arrests of Muslim youths has led to radicalisation, Sharma cited the 2007 Mecca Masjid blasts in Hyderabad. He pointed out how, immediately after the blasts, police arrested Muslim youths who were found to be innocent. The blasts were found to have been executed by Hindu outfits.

http://indianexpress.com/article/india/india-news-india/random-arrests-of-muslim-youths-leading-to-radicalisation-telangana-police-chief-2/

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How are Muslims spread on India’s economic map?

Dec 22 2015

Earlier this year, when religion-wise population data from Census 2011 was released, there was a lot of attention on the growth rate of the Muslim population. But few commentators looked at how the Muslim population is spread on the economic map of India. Or to put it another way, few tried to see if there was any pattern between areas of economic well-being and Muslim concentration. This is important given the backwardness of Muslims as a community.

A casual glance would suggest there is a pattern. Look at the bottom five large states ranked by per capita gross state domestic product (GSDP). Of these, three—Assam, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar—are in top five states, ranked by the percentage share of Muslim population. The other two, Odisha and Madhya Pradesh, are among the top five large states by the percentage share of tribal population.

This does not necessarily mean that states with higher share of Muslim population have lower per capita GSDP. Chart 1 shows normalized values of per capita GSDP (2013-14) and percentage share of Muslim population for all states.

The normalization (on a 0-1 scale) has been done in such a way that states with lowest per capita GDP and percentage share of Muslim population gets zero in respective indices and the highest one gets 1. It can be seen from the chart that there does not appear to be any relation between the two variables.

Click here for enlarge

The absence of a relation between the GSDP and the share of Muslims in state population might be on account of various other determinants of per capita income. Is there a pattern at the district level?

An earlier Plainfacts piece had constructed asset wealth and asset poverty indices for all districts using census data on asset ownership to map them on the basis of well-being. A high value on the asset index indicates economic well-being, while a high value on the asset poverty index indicates the opposite. The results show that India’s richer districts are concentrated in the western part, while the poorest districts are situated in the eastern region.

These indices can also be used to see how Muslim majority districts fare in terms of economic well-being. Charts 2 and 3 show the scatter plot of Mint’s district-wise asset/asset poverty index and normalized share of Muslim population for each district. The Muslim population normalization has been done in such a way that the district with the highest Muslim population share gets a rank of 1 and lowest gets 0.

A negative correlation between asset wealth index and Muslim population share would mean that more Muslims are concentrated in poorer districts for the given state. The same reasoning would hold in case of a positive correlation between asset poverty index and Muslim population share.

Click here for enlarge

No strong relationship emerges from a district-wise analysis as well. Both scatter plots do not show any discernible patterns and give insignificant correlation between asset wealth/asset poverty indices and the share of Muslims in population. Mixed results can be seen across the country. In states like Assam, Bihar, West Bengal and Jharkhand, Muslim majority districts are also the poorest. On the other hand, districts such as Hyderabad have a high share of Muslim population and also fare better on the asset index.

Experts caution against any generalization.

T.K. Oommen, professor emeritus of sociology at Jawaharlal Nehru University and one of the authors of the Sachar Committee Report, which looked at the social, economic and educational status of the Muslim community in India, says it is important to look at the historical social background of Muslims to understand their present material condition.

While groups with similar occupations have been given scheduled caste status among Hindus and Sikhs, this has been denied to Muslims and Christians. Divergences in social background of Muslims across regions might hold the key to the difference in their economic status.

http://www.livemint.com/Politics/cbNuS293uoWByyEG8keFCJ/How-are-Muslims-spread-on-Indias-economic-map.html

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Muslims and Islam: Key Findings in U.S., World: Pew Report

December 21, 2015

Muslims are the fastest-growing religious group in the world, according to a Pew report. The growth and regional migration of Muslims, combined with the ongoing impact of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria and other extremist groups that commit acts of violence in the name of Islam, have brought Muslims and the Islamic faith to the forefront of the political debate in many countries, Pew noted in a recent press release.

Yet many facts about Muslims are not well known in some of these places, and most Americans, who live in a country with a relatively small Muslim population, say they know little or nothing about Islam.

Here are answers to some key questions about Muslims, compiled from several Pew Research Center reports published in recent years, it said in the press release:

Although many countries in the Middle East-North Africa region, where the religion originated in the seventh century, are heavily Muslim, the region is home to only about 20% of the world’s Muslims.

A majority of the Muslims globally (62 percent) live in the Asia-Pacific region, including large populations in Indonesia, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Iran and Turkey.

Indonesia is currently the country with the world’s single largest Muslim population, but Pew Research Center projects that India will have that distinction by the year 2050 (while remaining a majority Hindu country), with more than 300 million Muslims.

A 2011 survey of Muslim Americans, which was conducted in English as well as Arabic, Farsi and Urdu, estimated that there were 1.8 million Muslim adults (and 2.75 million Muslims of all ages) in the country. That survey also found that a majority of U.S. Muslims (63 percent) are immigrants.

A Pew 2011 survey of Muslim Americans found that roughly half of U.S. Muslims (48 percent) say their own religious leaders have not done enough to speak out against Islamic extremists.

When it comes to political and social views, Muslims are far more likely to identify with or lean toward the Democratic Party (70 percent) than the Republican Party (11 percent) and to say they prefer a bigger government providing more services (68 percent) over a smaller government providing fewer services (21 percent).

http://www.indiawest.com/news/global_indian/muslims-and-islam-key-findings-in-u-s-world-pew/article_e0471ec2-a821-11e5-987d-2bfebddd567e.html

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India, Pakistan appear interested in boosting understanding: US

Dec 22, 2015

Welcoming the recent effort by India and Pakistan to revive talks, the US has said leaders of the two countries now appear to be “genuinely interested” in fostering greater understanding among them. “We continue to welcome efforts by India and Pakistan to work bilaterally to solve these very difficult, complicated issues. And so that they have started to do that,” State Department Spokesman John Kirby told reporters at his daily news conference.

“…(leaders of India and Pakistan) appear to be genuinely interested in fostering greater understanding between the two countries, that’s welcome,” he said yesterday, adding that the US continues to encourage that. When asked about reported direction by Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to his ministers not to make anti-India statements, Kirby said “there’s always a balance to be struck here. And without having more detail about his comments or the context in which they were made, I’d really be loath to go further than that”.

He also said that for more than a decade now, the US has been talking with Pakistan on terrorist safe havens. “We’ve been crystal clear for well over a decade now, bilaterally with Pakistan, about our concerns about terrorism in the region, to include the safe havens that we know terrorist organisations have along that spine between Afghanistan and Pakistan.

“So look, this is a relationship that remains vital to us. We don’t always see eye to eye on everything, but there’s no reason why we shouldn’t see eye to eye on the threat of terrorism since so many Pakistani citizens and Pakistani soldiers have fallen victim to it,” Kirby said.

He added that “whether it is in this country or many other countries around the world, to see that terrorism remains a real and challenging threat that it behooves everybody to try to get their hands around”. Breaking the logjam in their ties earlier this month, India and Pakistan announced that they have decided to engage in a “comprehensive” dialogue that will include peace and security and Jammu and Kashmir.

http://indianexpress.com/article/india/india-news-india/india-pakistan-appear-interested-in-boosting-understanding-us/

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Mumbai fears three youth may have joined militant group, possibly IS

Dec 22, 2015

Three young men missing from Mumbai are feared to have joined a militant outfit, possibly the Islamic State, police officials in Mumbai said on Monday.

The possible radicalisation of the three – all in their 20s – comes in the midst of growing worries over civilians being radicalised by the ideology of Islamic State, which has over the couple of years gathered a steady world-wide following for its extremist agenda.

Of the three youngsters — auto driver Mohsin Ibrahim Sayeed, 26; Wajid Sheikh, 23, and call centre employee Ayaz Sultan, 23 — Ayaz left his home in October while the other two left on December 15.

In all three cases, the parents of the youth registered a missing complaint with the police.

Senior police inspector Milind Khetle said after the missing complaints were filed, they had started recording the statements of the family members and others who were in touch with the boys.

“We are looking for the three youngsters and prima facie, we cannot say whether they joined the IS or have gone somewhere else,” he added.

An official of the Anti-Terror Squad however said that they suspect that the three youths have been radicalised into joining the Islamic State.

Senior ATS officials, however, said there was no confirmation of the trio having joined Islamic State.

Full report at:

http://www.hindustantimes.com/india/three-mumbai-youths-suspected-to-have-joined-islamic-state-police/story-YcjKP8fp9WOY5a8yBoov3M.html

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Amid fears of ties with AQIS, search on for SIMI trio who escaped jail

By Deeptiman Tiwary

New Delhi

Dec 22, 2015

Intelligence agencies have intensified their search for three SIMI men who escaped from Madhya Pradesh’s Khandwa jail in 2013. Sources said the search for the trio, last traced to Karnataka, has been escalated after fears that they may be tapped by al-Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS).

The recent arrests of three men from Uttar Pradesh and Odisha, who are allegedly linked to the AQIS, has brought the focus back on an outfit that has long been considered a more immediate threat than the Islamic State (IS).

In October 2013, seven SIMI activists had escaped from Khandwa jail. While two of them were arrested and two killed in an encounter in Telangana, three are still at large. These men, identified as Zakir Hussain alias Sadiq Badrul Hussain, Mehboob alias Guddu Ismail Khan and Amzad Ramzan Khan, are suspected to be behind some recent blasts in the country.

“There are three SIMI men, suspected to be behind the recent Bijnor, Chennai and Pune blasts, who are still on the loose. They are looking for organisational support,” said an intelligence official.

Several arrested SIMI members are reported to have expressed their desire to fight alongside al-Qaeda in Afghanistan. The Indian outfit is even reported to have donated money to al-Qaeda coffers.

An accused in the 2013 blasts which targeted Narendra Modi’s Patna rally is reported to have earlier sent Rs 3 lakh to Afghanistan “for helping poor fellow Muslims”. This money, intelligence sources said, went to al-Qaeda coffers. One of the accused even wanted to escape to Afghanistan after the attack.

Full report at:

http://indianexpress.com/article/india/india-news-india/amid-fears-of-ties-with-aqis-search-on-for-simi-trio-who-escaped-jail/

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Salman Khurshid’s book: No Indian PM can sign away Kashmir, Manmohan told Nawaz Sharif

Dec 22, 2015

Former External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid has said that then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh told his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif that no Indian PM could “sign away” Kashmir.

In a chapter called “The Pakistan Puzzle”, in his new book, The Other Side of The Mountain, Khurshid has recalled a meeting between Singh and Sharif in late September 2013, on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly, when the Indian PM reportedly told his Pakistani counterpart: “Mian Saheb, no Indian Prime Minister can sign away Kashmir, and nor can I. Subject to that, the sky is the limit.”

Khurshid has said that the UPA-II government tried to push peace talks with Pakistan, despite the 2008 Mumbai attacks that made “business as usual” very difficult.

Recalling the Sharm-el-Sheikh meeting on July 16, 2009, between then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his then counterpart Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani as a sincere attempt to take things forward after the Mumbai attacks, he has said that the BJP created a “merry stink” over the issue.

Khurshid has written of a robust Track-II engagement with Pakistan, including initiatives taken by “India’s Intelligence Bureau (IB) to bring religious leaders of the two countries to speak to each other”.

Full report at:

http://indianexpress.com/article/india/india-news-india/salman-khurshids-book-no-indian-pm-can-sign-away-kashmir-manmohan-told-sharif/

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Pakistan

 

Hindus in Pakistan to pay respect to Prophet Muhammad, promote Islam as peaceful religion

December 20, 2015

New Delhi: Members of Hindu minority in Pakistan's Peshawar region have come forward to promote interfaith harmony by holding a conference on December 24 wherein they will pay respects to Prophet Muhammad and spread a message that Islam is a peaceful religion.

Speaking to The Express Tribune, All Pakistan Hindu Rights Movement Chairman Haroon Sarbdiyal said that through this conference a message will be sent out to the world that Islam is a peaceful religion.

Furthermore, people from all religions, members of civil societies and political parties have been invited to be a part of this cause.

Full report at:

http://zeenews.india.com/news/india/idea-of-tolerance-hindus-in-pakistan-to-pay-respect-to-prophet-muhammad-promote-islam-as-peaceful-religion_1836570.html

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PEMRA directs TV channels to deny space to defenders of terror groups

December 22, 2015

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) today asked the TV channels to support National Action Plan in letter & spirit by denying space on their TV channels to elements defending terror groups or those attempting to divert state institutions’ attention from war on terror.

A press statement stated that law will take its course against all violators without discrimination. The authority also issued notices to Royal TV, TV One, Aaj TV and Waqt News this week.

According to the statement, the authority initiated punitive action against TV channels, separately, for hurling false allegations and passing highly personalized, abusive and derogatory remarks against individuals and for giving space to terror outfits threatening the state of Pakistan.

Full report at:

http://nation.com.pk/national/22-Dec-2015/pemra-directs-tv-channels-to-deny-space-to-defenders-of-terror-groups

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SC issues detailed verdict in Mumtaz Qadri death penalty case

NASIR IQBAL

Dec 22 2015

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court has regretted that by raising arguments on the merit of the case and the sentence already confirmed, an attempt was made to re-argue the entire case on a review petition by the counsel representing Malik Mohammad Mumtaz Qadri, an Elite Force commando who had assassinated former Punjab governor Salman Taseer for allegedly committing blasphemy.

“A review is surely not a rehearing of the main case and all contentions have already been attended to in the Oct 7 judgment under review in some detail,” the apex court said in a five-page detailed judgment explaining why its three-judge bench had on Dec 14 rejected the review petition filed by Mumtaz Qadri through his counsel Mian Nazir Akhtar.

“No error patent on the face of the record was pointed out by Qadri’s counsel against the Oct 7 judgment,” said the verdict, authored by Justice Asif Saeed Khosa, who headed the bench which had dismissed the review petition.

Mumtaz Qadri, who is undergoing a jail term in Rawalpindi’s Adiyala jail, was convicted of killing Salman Taseer at a market in Islamabad on Jan 4, 2011.

On Oct 7, the Supreme Court had accepted the federal government’s appeal seeking restoration of the Oct 1, 2011, capital sentence handed down by an anti-terrorism court and partial overturning of the Islamabad High Court’s March 9 endorsement of Qadri’s plea to annul Section 7 of the Anti-Terrorism Act 1997, though the high court had upheld the death sentence under the Pakistan Penal Code.

The government had approached the apex court for including the terrorism charges as a second offence in the punishment.

The detailed judgment said that since the main review petition had been dismissed by the apex court, the application seeking interim relief regarding suspension of execution of the petitioner’s sentence of death had also lost its relevance.

The Supreme Court had, in its Oct 7 verdict, refrained from going into the matter of interpretation of the injunctions of Islam, especially relating to blasphemy and its punishment, the judgment said. The same was expected of the Islamabad High Court and, therefore, observation made by the high court in its order of March 9 be treated as not legally binding as a precedent, it added.

In the Oct 7 judgment, the order recalled, the apex court had already held that the petitioner had failed to prove through any legally admissible evidence that the victim (Salman Taseer) had committed blasphemy. It was also held by the apex court in the main judgment that Articles 203 G and 230 of the Constitution, the interpretation of the injunctions of Islam as laid down in the Holy Quran and Sunnah of the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him) fell within the exclusive domain, power and jurisdiction of the Federal Shariat Court, the Shariat appellate bench of the Supreme Court and the Council of Islamic Ideology. And the apex court’s jurisdiction in such matters is limited to application of the principles where they are settled.

Full report at:

http://www.dawn.com/news/1227979/sc-issues-detailed-verdict-in-mumtaz-qadri-death-penalty-case

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Milad, Christmas preparations enter last lap

December 21, 2015

islamabad - Preparations for celebrating Eid Milad-un-Nabi (PBUH) are in full swing in the city and roads and buildings are being decorated with colourful buntings, banners and fancy lights.

The daylong programmes would be started with special prayers in mosques of the district for unity, prosperity and solidarity of the country and for early liberation of Indian held Kashmir.

On the other hand, the Christian community of twin cities of Rawalpindi and Islamabad has begun preparations for the Christmas with full zeal and enthusiasm as the Christmas is around the corner.

Eid-e-Milad-un-Nabi (PBUH) processions would also be taken out from the city and Naat Khawan will pay tributes to Holy Prophet Hazrat Muhammad (PBUH) on the occasion. Special programmes are being prepared for paying tributes and to highlight different aspects of the life of Holy Prophet Hazrat Muhammad (PBUH), the greatest educator of mankind.

Various social, cultural, educational institutions and religious organisation are finalising their programmes for celebrating Eid-e-Milad-un-Nabi (PBUH) with religious fervour and enthusiasm here. All bazaars, commercial centres, government and private buildings are being illuminated.

As Christmas approaches on December 25, the Christian community living in the twin cities decorate their homes with Christmas trees, wreaths, garlands, ornaments, tableware, lights, stockings etc. Gifts are also kept under the Christmas trees for children. From official gatherings to cake cutting ceremonies in small families, the festive occasion fills the atmosphere with colours, symbols and traditions of Christmas.

Talking to APP, Imran, a preacher of the Catholic Church Lalkurti Rawalpindi, said, “We should follow the beliefs of Jesus Christ that are based on love, brotherhood, peace and harmony to deal with issues like terrorism and extremism. We should not forget those people who are not with us anymore.”

He further said, “Christmas is an occasion to forgive and forget, therefore we should forgive others and forget their mistakes and should move own with a new start.”

According to an official of ministry of interfaith harmony and religious affairs, funds and gifts are also distributed among the deserving Christian community people across the country.

It may be added that on Christmas Eve, Churches are packed for the midnight or vigil-mass services. The choirs sing very special hymns. After the vigil-mass, in some places, there are fireworks which help celebrate the start of Christmas.

Jeffery Micheal, a resident of Rawalpindi, said he lost his father 32 years ago and the first thing that he does after the Christmas mass is that he visits his father’s grave.

Jerry Francis, a local said he celebrates Christmas with his family and relatives as it is the only time in the year when he gets a chance to meet all his family members and relatives. Marry Ann, a child, said her brothers and sisters stay in the Church courtyard for hours, enjoying various foods from the different stalls.

Full report at:

http://nation.com.pk/islamabad/21-Dec-2015/milad-christmas-preparations-enter-last-lap

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One killed, six injured in gun attack on passenger van in Balochistan's Loralai

SYED ALI SHAH

Dec 22 2015

QUETTA: At least one passenger was killed and six others were injured when unidentified men opened fire at a passenger van in Balochistan's Loralai district on Tuesday.

Levies sources told DawnNews that armed men opened fire on a van in Nana Sahib area of Dukki Tehsil in Loralai district.

Seven passengers including a woman were injured in the attack. However, one passenger succumbed to his injuries on way to the hospital.

The injured were shifted to a local hospital for medical treatment where an emergency was imposed.

Full report at:

http://www.dawn.com/news/1228049/one-killed-six-injured-in-gun-attack-on-passenger-van-in-balochistans-loralai

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Govt delaying madaris’ enrolment, claims WM

December 22, 2015

ISLAMABAD: Wafaqul Madaris Al-Arabia held the government responsible for the delay in the registration of seminaries as they are ready to follow the agreed mechanism for it.

Secretary General Qazi Abdur Rashid in a media chat at Jamia Mohammadia yesterday blamed the government for pushing the religious seminaries to the wall on the behest of its foreign masters whereas they are prepared to get all the seminaries enrolled with the Wafaqul Madaris Al-Arabia registered with the government under the already agreed upon mechanism.

He said that religious seminaries are not only providing education to several hundred thousand students across the country but also defending the country on ideological and religious front.

Qazi Abdur Rashid said that it was unjust to link the seminaries with militancy and terrorism when Wafaqul Madaris Al-Arabia had decreed that armed struggle within the country was against the Islamic injunctions and that they were standing with the security agencies and Armed Forces of the country in the ongoing war against terrorists and anti-state elements.

He claimed that security agencies are exerting undue pressure on the religious seminaries on the behest of some foreign countries and asked the highups in the government to sit with them and work out the minor points of differences between the government and seminaries heads on the syllabus of the seminaries.

He said that it was beyond comprehension that when Wafaqul Madris was ready to get the seminaries registered with the government and also accepted the other main demands including the audit of the funds coming to these seminaries from various channels then why they have been pushed to the wall.

Full report at:

http://nation.com.pk/national/22-Dec-2015/govt-delaying-madaris-enrolment-claims-wm

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Hafizabad getting bridal-like look for Eid Miladun Nabi

December 22, 2015

HAFIZABAD

Elaborate preparations are afoot to celebrate Eid Miladun Nabi (SAWW) with unprecedented religious fervour across the district. The city is being given a bridal look and all streets and bazaar as well as business centres are being decorated with multi-colour flags and buntings. Beautiful arches are being erected at different chowks and images of Khana Ka’aba and Masjid-Nabvi are being erected by different religious organisations.

The district administration and police have finalised foolproof security arrangements to avert any unpleasant incident on the auspicious occasion.

In this connection, DCO Muhammad Usman held a meeting which was attended among others by members of the peace committee and heads of different departments to ensure a peaceful atmosphere in the district.

Full report at:

http://nation.com.pk/national/22-Dec-2015/hafizabad-getting-bridal-like-look-for-eid-miladun-nabi

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Pakistani ambassador in Syria calls on Syrian interior minister

December 22, 2015

DAMUSCUS: Pakistan ambassador in Syria Syed Athar Hussain Bokhari has called on Syrian interior minister and the two have talked on a set of issues, including intelligence sharing about terrorists.

Full report at:

http://nation.com.pk/national/22-Dec-2015/pakistani-ambassador-in-syria-calls-on-syrian-interior-minister

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Pak, US generals discuss Afghan situation

December 22, 2015

Maqbool Malik

ISLAMABAD - Top military officials of Pakistan and US yesterday discussed in Rawalpindi issues of bilateral defence cooperation with a special focus on reconciliation process in Afghanistan and the growing threat of Daesh in that war-torn country.

According to ISPR, Commander Resolute Support Mission and US Forces in Afghanistan General John F Campbell called on Pakistan Army Chief General Raheel Sharif, who briefed the US commander about ongoing Zabr-e-Azb military operation against terrorists in North Waziristan.

Gen Raheel stressed the need for enhanced coordination between Pakistan, US and Afghanistan at the Pak-Afghan border to prevent escape of insurgents into Afghanistan.

Some of the leading Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan commanders and fighters including TTP chief Moulvi Fazalullah had made their escape good into Afghanistan in 2009 and established safe havens and they have been trying to destabilise Pakistan while operating from there.

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani for first time admitted the presence of Moulvi Fazlullah in his country when he recently visited Pakistan to inaugurate Heart of Asia conference on Afghanistan. He had assured the Pakistani leadership that targeted actions were being taken by his government against Fazalullah and others using the Afghan soil against Pakistan.

General Campbell’s meeting with Pakistan Army Chief comes after the visit of US Defence Secretary Ashton Carter to Kabul two days ago where he discussed the two key issues with Afghan government amid recent increase in the US drone attacks against the Daesh militants in Nangharhar province of Afghanistan.

Full report at:

http://nation.com.pk/national/22-Dec-2015/pak-us-generals-discuss-afghan-situation

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Judge orders Dr Asim’s trial on terror charge

HABIB KHAN GHORI | TAHIR SIDDIQUI

Dec 22 2015

KARACHI: The decision of the administrative judge of anti-terrorism courts to put former federal minister Dr Asim Hussain on trial in a terrorism case has come as a serious blow to the PPP-led Sindh government, which believes that such decisions would erode people’s confidence in the judiciary.

Dr Asim, a PPP leader and close aide of former president Asif Ali Zardari, was re-arrested on Monday in a case relating to terrorists’ treatment and harbouring after the administrative judge, Justice Naimatullah Phulpoto of the Sindh High Court, threw out a report for his release and sent the case for trial.

The judge disagreed with the report submitted by DSP Altaf Hussain, the second investigation officer (IO) in the case, and observed that he was not “legally justified to release accused Dr Asim Hussain”.

The judge observed that “prima facie, there is sufficient incriminating evidence/material against Dr Asim Hussain and other accused persons to connect” them to the case.

In his report, the IO claimed that no evidence had been found against Dr Asim during investigation.

Dr Asim’s lawyers, Anwar Mansoor Khan and Amer Raza Naqvi, argued that neither any incriminating evidence was found nor any offence was made out against their client from the material collected during the investigation.

But the judge dismissed their contentions and observed that they “required deeper appreciation of evidence, which is not permissible at this stage”.

Sindh govt says such decisions will erode people’s confidence in judiciary

One of the defence lawyers informed the court that he was receiving threats from certain quarters for defending Dr Asim.

In a statement in the court, Dr Asim also said: “My life is under threat. I have been humiliated by the press, by electronic media. And I am the son of those who played a vital role in the creation of Pakistan.” He said he was facing “personal vendetta” and all evidence against him was “false”.

On Dec 11, police informed the court that “no terror-related evidence” had been found against Dr Asim under Section 497 (II) of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) and, therefore, he was not required to be detained.

But a Rangers prosecutor had contended that there was sufficient evidence against Dr Asim to implicate him. The statement of Dr Yousuf Sattar, the managing director of the Ziauddin Hospital chain, was concrete evidence against Dr Asim, he had said.

After Rangers’ staunch opposition to the police’s stance, the court had ordered the police IO to submit within 10 days a report explaining why no charges could be established against Dr Asim under CrPC.

Dr Asim, who is also chairman of the Sindh Higher Education Commission, was arrested on Aug 26. Rangers detained him for 90 days and later handed him over to police after lodging an FIR pertaining to treating and harbouring terrorists.

Police sought multiple extensions in his remand for further questioning and collecting evidence in the case. After police released him on Dec 11, he was arrested by the National Accountability Bureau and an accountability court later remanded him in the anti-graft body’s custody.

Full report at:

http://www.dawn.com/news/1227951/judge-orders-dr-asims-trial-on-terror-charge

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Full details of Saudi-led coalition not yet available: Sartaj

AMIR WASIM

Dec 22 2015

ISLAMABAD: Adviser to Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz admitted on Monday on the floor of the Senate that Pakistan was still unaware of full details of the Saudi-led coalition against terrorism and cautioned parliament against “complicating” the process by “prematurely” discussing it.

Taking note of the remarks, Senate Chairman Raza Rabbani reminded Mr Aziz that “we are discussing the matter in parliament and not at any other forum”.

Mr Aziz could not give satisfactory answers to specific questions of the chairman and some opposition members on the issue.

Tahir Mashhadi of the MQM walked out of the house saying that the adviser had not replied to questions raised in his speech.

“I may clarify that it is not an alliance, but a coalition because alliance is more formal. We will come to parliament once details are available,” said Mr Aziz in reply to the speeches made by senators during a debate on the motion seeking discussion “on the government’s foreign policy with reference to its success and failure”.

“So you have joined a military alliance about which you are still foggy,” the Senate chairman remarked.

The adviser said every country had to decide which activity it was going to participate in, “so there is no compulsion of doing XYZ”.

“We are working out... consultations are in progress to work out as to which kind of activities are we going to participate. There is intelligence sharing, capacity-building ... we are yet to decide which activity is desired. We support every action against terrorism,” he added.

The house witnessed an exchange of remarks between Mr Rabbani and Mr Aziz over the issue of bypassing parliament while taking major decisions.

Adviser could not satisfactorily answer questions of Senate Chairman Raza Rabbani and opposition members on the issue

“You have decided to become part of a coalition without being able to inform parliament about its details?” said Mr Rabbani.

The adviser gave an interesting reply, saying: “All the 34 countries, including Turkey, have done the same thing.”

“I am not interested in 33 other countries. I am interested only in the 34th country which is Pakistan,” the chairman said in a harsh tone.

Asked about the ministry’s viewpoint on the exclusion of four countries, which were subject to terrorism and fighting the militant Islamic State group, from the alliance, the adviser said that the matter would be discussed at the OIC forum in February.

Mr Aziz claimed that the discussion on the proposal had been going on for a couple of months. “So we know a little bit about it. But rest assured that we are not going to deviate from the (foreign) policy and details would be shared with the house when they became available.

He said terrorism was an important issue for the Muslim world and, therefore, they should not pre-judge the matter and allow the process to go on.

“It is important that today all trouble spots are in the Islamic world. If we don’t take the measures, they will come to our side. Our main interest is that IS does not find space in South Asia,” he said. “It is important for us to join (coalition) according to whatever priorities we have.”

Earlier, opposition members criticised the government for not appointing a full-time foreign minister and bypassing parliament over major decisions.

Full report at:

http://www.dawn.com/news/1227982/full-details-of-saudi-led-coalition-not-yet-available-sartaj

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A British physicist ignored Taliban threats to teach in Pakistan

ROBERT FISK

Dec 22 2015

Imagine the English principal of a famous college on the North West Frontier, a place built by the British and founded by Christians. Inject a few nightmares – Taliban bombs, suicide attacks, the daily slaughter of civilians and children, and bloody US drone attacks on the surrounding countryside – and picture how this teacher nevertheless carries on, trying to instruct the Muslims and Christians in his class in the fundamentals of history, physics and economics.

You come up with only one name: David Lagourie Gosling. Although a Cambridge don and a nuclear physicist, Gosling spent four years running Edwardes College in Peshawar, the capital of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and perhaps the most dangerous city east of Raqqa (Syria). The college was founded by the Church Missionary Society in 1900.

Gosling received a handwritten, but decidedly ineloquent, death threat from a “Captain Halifah”, which announced: “The principal of Edwardes College is a non-Muslim. God says … that you don’t make friends with non-Muslims?… Oh Muslims, wake up! Shake the foundations of non-believers and uplift the name of Islam.”

“Captain Halifah” accused the principal of closing the college before Muslim students had had time to offer prayers. It was untrue. If Gosling did not obey, however, he was threatened with a suicide bomber at the college gates.

The head teacher didn’t give up, even when the college windows were broken by suicide bombers in the neighbourhood, one of whom – a young woman – was identified only when the police found her head.

It is just over a year now since the emir of the Pakistani Taliban, Fazle

Hayat (better known as Fazlullah), claimed Taliban responsibility for the massacre at the Army Public School in Peshawar, when gunmen went through the college, shooting down 143 boys, girls and teachers.

Gosling had already left Pakistan but, while condemning the atrocity, he recalls how Fazlullah had also called for social equality, more employment and a justice system more efficient than the bureaucratic Pakistani civil law.

How on earth could Gosling account for these almost daily bloodbaths, yet remain dedicated to running a college whose raison d’être was peace between Muslims and Christians?

I asked him this question at the end of a year of massacres – far more in the Muslim world than in our own precious Europe, of course. “It’s the outside interference and the historical legacy,” he said.

“Even the leaders of the local churches are the legacies of the Raj. There are, at the college, young Muslims and Christians who get on well. It’s the power of education. When you have education in its totality, it enables our students to see what should be obvious: we are all one.”

Gosling came across Fazlullah’s aging father, Sufi Mohamed, on a prison visit with some of his college students, and he describes this extraordinary meeting in his new book, Frontier of Fear.

Full report at:

http://www.dawn.com/news/1227962/a-british-physicist-ignored-taliban-threats-to-teach-in-pakistan

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Soldier among 3 killed in Mohmand blasts

Dec 22 2015

GHALANAI: Three people, among them a security man, were killed and three personnel injured when two roadside improvised explosive devices went off in Baizai, some 25km west of Ghalanai area of Mohmand tribal region, on Monday.

Local officials said that Naib Subedar Naseer Khan and a taxi driver lost their lives in the first explosion while the second blast left a civilian dead and three security personnel injured.

The injured, one of them identified as Lt Col Taimur, were airlifted to hospital in Peshawar.

Officials said that security personnel were patrolling an area near Atam village in Baizai tehsil along the Afghan border when the blasts occurred.

Full report at:

http://www.dawn.com/news/1227950/soldier-among-3-killed-in-mohmand-blasts

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Admin, police all set for Eid Miladun Nabi

December 22, 2015

DERA GHAZI KHAN

Arrangements for the celebration of Eid Miladun Nabi (SAWW) scheduled for Thursday have been finalised while mosques, bazaars, markets and buildings of the city are being decorated with colourful lighting, banners and flags. Buntings

Vendors have established a number of stalls at every nook and corner of the city, offering banners, badges, stickers and flags inscribed with the slogans paying respect and reverence to the Holy Prophet (PBUH).

The central Milad Committee and different organisations are engaged in organising Mehfil-e-Milad and processions across the district. The central Milad Committee led by District President Sahibzada Anwar Hassan will take out the central procession from Jamia Masjid Block-3 at 9 am and others small rallies and procession of Tehreek-e-Minhajul Quran, Pakistan Sunny Tehreek and Jamiat Ulema-e-Pakistan, Jamaat of Silsila Naqshbandia, Qadira and Soharverdia will join the central procession.

During the procession, local residents, shopkeepers and vendors will welcome the participants of the main procession and offer them special feasts, besides showering rose petals and rose water upon them.

Full report at:

http://nation.com.pk/national/22-Dec-2015/admin-police-all-set-for-eid-miladun-nabi

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Southeast Asia

 

Police Out in Force to Guard Indonesia's 33,809 Churches Over Holidays

Dec 22 2015

Jakarta. Indonesia's National Police will go all-out this year in their effort to protect Christian houses of worship amid a heightened terror threat.

Operation Candle will run from Dec. 24 until Jan. 2 this year and will involve more than 150,000 security personnel, Brig. Gen. Agus Rianto said at the National Police headquarters in Jakarta on Friday.

"From the National Police there will be 80,197 personnel, backed up by 70,351 people from the TNI [Indonesian Military] and affiliated institutions," Agus said.

"There's a total number of 33,809 churches. But apart from houses of worship we will also pay attention to other locations, such as tourism spots and entertainment venues," he added.

Police have also installed almost 1,000 camera's at key locations and more than 1,550 security posts will be set up across the country, alongside 638 service posts.

"We hope Christmas and New Year's celebrations will take place in orderly, safe and smooth fashion," Agus said, adding that security would also be tightened at ports, airports and bus and train stations.

Full report at:

http://jakartaglobe.beritasatu.com/news/police-force-guard-indonesias-33809-churches-holidays/

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Islamic State eyeing Indonesia for ‘distant caliphate’: Australia

Dec 22, 2015

The Islamic State group is working to boost its presence in Indonesia with dreams of creating a “distant caliphate” in the world’s most populous Muslim-majority country, Australia warned today. Attorney-General George Brandis, who spent yesterday in meetings between Indonesian and Australian ministers, police chiefs and security officials, said it constituted a threat to Australian and Western interests.

“ISIS has ambitions to elevate its presence and level of activity in Indonesia, either directly or through surrogates,” he told The Australian newspaper, referring to the jihadist group by another acronym. “You’ve heard the expression the ‘distant caliphate’?

“ISIS has a declared intention to establish caliphates beyond the Middle East, provincial caliphates in effect. It has identified Indonesia as a location of its ambitions.” Islamic State, which adheres to a fundamentalist doctrine of Sunni Islam, has already declared caliphates in several areas outside Syria and northern Iraq where it holds a swathe of territory.

Brandis’ comments follow Indonesian police foiling plans for a suicide attack in Jakarta and arresting radicals linked to Islamic State. Three-day raids across Java ending Sunday saw the confiscation of explosive materials and an IS-inspired flag as well as nine arrests.

The extremists were targeting shopping malls, police stations and minority groups across the country, Indonesia’s national police chief said. Security has been beefed up across the country, with senior ministers from Australia and Indonesia agreeing yesterday to boost intelligence sharing, including on terrorism financing, following bilateral talks in both Sydney and Jakarta.

Full report at:

http://indianexpress.com/article/world/world-news/islamic-state-eyeing-indonesia-for-distant-caliphate-australia/

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China anti-terror law may restrict media reporting on attacks

Dec 22 2015

BEIJING: China may further restrict the right of media to report on details of terror attacks, state media reported on Tuesday.

The move comes in the form of a tough new law that could be passed before the end of the month. The draft anti-terrorism law has already attracted concern in Western capitals as it could require technology firms to install "backdoors" in products, or to hand over sensitive information such as encryption keys to the government.

The law is currently having another reading at the latest session of the standing committee for China's largely rubber-stamp parliament, the National People's Congress, which ends on Sunday.

The official People's Daily said the law's new draft includes a provision that media and social media cannot report on details of terror activities that might lead to imitation, nor show scenes that are "cruel and inhuman".

Details of hostages, how authorities have responded to terror incidents, and personal details of those on the scene are not allowed to be reported without approval by counter-terrorism authorities, the report added.

Chinese state-run media already operates under strict controls when it comes to reporting on terrorism, and the government brooks no challenge to its official accounts of attacks or other incidents. It is not clear if the technology requirements remain in the new draft or how the final law could differ from the drafts.

Officials say China faces a growing threat from insurgents, especially in its unruly Western region of Xinjiang.

Full report at:

http://www.dawn.com/news/1228059/china-anti-terror-law-may-restrict-media-reporting-on-attacks

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Indonesia has potential to become center of Islamic civilization

December 22 2015

“Indeed, the international public is now pinning its hopes on Indonesia when it comes to being a role model of the world’s Islamic civilization and that can only happen when Indonesia can also become the international center for Islamic studies,” said Dr. Kamarudin Amin, director general of Islamic Studies at the Religious Affairs Ministry, during a recent talk show with privately run radio station, Sindo Trijaya Jakarta

Following are excerpts from the talk show.

Question: Can you give us a brief review of the actual reasons behind the statements made by the Religious Affairs Ministry a year ago for making Indonesia the direction for Islamic studies to take, not only in Asia, but also in the world?

Answer: When we view a number of events occurring almost globally, such as the Arab Spring in 2011, which caused many problems to our brothers in the Far East, including Libya, Yemen, Arab Saudi Arabia and even Iraq, Iran and Syria, all of which used to be the direction or reference of the world’s Islamic civilization, we see the Arab Spring rendered most of them as failed states.

Although some dictatorship governments have fallen apart, they are yet to become really democratic, meaning democracy has not turned into a reality in those states.

Even the welfare conditions there are still problematic. So, the international communities and the Islamic community as well are searching for a direction. The international communities keep asking to which direction the Islamic world is heading. Which Islamic country is estimated to have a great potential to become a reference or the destination of Islamic studies and simultaneously as the center for Islamic civilization?

The answer is Indonesia. We expect and see the extraordinary potential in Indonesia for the country to become the direction for Islamic civilization and at the same time the center of international Islamic studies.

This was announced just a year ago. How does it develop so far?

We can refer to and present some quantitative data: for example, a number of massive and strategic efforts, such as the restructuring and reorganizing of our educational institutions. On several occasions I have often mentioned that Indonesia is a country with the largest number and largest Islamic education centers in the world.

Full report at:

http://www.thejakartapost.com/adv/2015/12/22/indonesia-has-potential-become-center-islamic-civilization.html

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Khalid: It’s Umno that damaged Islam’s image

Sheith Khidhir Bin Abu Bakar

December 22, 201

PETALING JAYA: Islam’s bad image in Malaysia was created by Umno’s bad actions, according to Amanah Communications Director Khalid Samad.

He did not specify what those “bad actions” were, but said Umno must correct them if it was sincere in its intention to restore Islam’s good image.

“A bad image doesn’t come into being on its own but through the bad actions made by its representatives, and in this case we’re talking about Umno,” he told FMT in a comment on Umno vice-president Hishammuddin Hussein’s statement regarding a possible political cooperation between his party and PAS on “fixing” Islam’s image.

“No amount of cooperation will solve the problem,” Khalid said. “What will work is for Umno to admit its wrongdoings and to set them right.”

However, Khalid expressed doubt about Umno’s sincerity, saying Umno was “trying to pull wool over everyone’s eyes” and was using Islam to gain Malay votes.

“For its political survival, Umno is offering to cooperate with PAS,” he said, adding that PAS too was speaking about cooperation with an eye to winning Malay votes.

Full report at:

http://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/nation/2015/12/22/khalid-its-umno-that-damaged-islams-image/

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5 years’ jail for Brunei Muslims partaking in Christmas

December 22, 2015

PETALING JAYA: Muslims in Brunei are looking at five years’ jail time if they are found guilty of having participated in Christmas celebrations, the Sultan of Brunei has declared.

Outlawed are even the most minor of activities including sending Christmas greetings, wearing a Santa hat or putting decorations on a Christmas tree.

According to a report in The Telegraph, the law is confined to Muslims alone and non-Muslims are free to celebrate the festival as long as they do it within their own communities and alert the authorities first.

In a statement issued by Brunei’s Ministry of Religious Affairs, the law was being enforced to safeguard the “akidah” (beliefs) of the Muslim community.

“These enforcement measures are … intended to control the act of celebrating Christmas excessively and openly, which could damage the akidah of the Muslim community.”

Imams earlier this month, warned that celebrating any festival that was not related in any way to Islam could lead to “‘tasyabbuh’ (imitation) and unknowingly damage the akidah of Muslims”.

Full report at:

http://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/nation/2015/12/22/5-years-jail-for-brunei-muslims-partaking-in-christmas/

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Syria funds suggest IS link to militants arrested in Indonesia

Dec 22 2015

JAKARTA (Reuters) – Some of the Indonesian men arrested at the weekend after tip-offs that they were planning a string of militant attacks had received funding from Syria, hardening evidence of their links to Islamic State, police said on Monday.

Officials said the raids in five cities across the island of Java, during which nine people were detained and bomb-making equipment was seized, may have foiled plans to target New Year celebrations.

Police said they remained on high alert, underlining concern about a resurgence of militant attacks by Indonesians who have returned from fighting with the radical Islamic State group in Syria.

“They received transfers of funds … they have a connection with Syria,” national police spokesman Anton Charliyan told a news conference.

“What we gather so far is they are linked to the ISIS group,” he said, using a common acronym for Islamic State. “They got the money from a senior ISIS figure who works as a coordinator to link ISIS to Indonesia.”

Police suspect that four of those arrested belonged to the al Qaeda-affiliated Jamaah Islamiah group.

Media reports on Sunday said some of the men had planned to launch attacks in Java and neighbouring Sumatra island on Shia Muslims, who represent a tiny minority in Indonesia.

Indonesia has the world’s largest Muslim population, the vast majority of whom practise a moderate form of the religion.

Indonesia saw a spate of attacks in the 2000s, the deadliest of which was a nightclub bombing on the holiday island of Bali that killed 202 people, most of them tourists.

Police have been largely successful in destroying domestic militant cells since then, but they now worry that the influence of Islamic State could pitch the country back into violence.

Charliyan said the militants appeared to be planning attacks on certain public locations, government and police officials and “those considered enemies of ISIS”, but gave no details.

At one home raided in Central Java, officials found bomb-making material and instructions, books about jihad, a map of Jakarta and electronics.

Full report at:

http://www.euronews.com/newswires/3114020-indonesia-to-deploy-150000-security-personnel-for-year-end-celebrations/

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Arab World

 

OIC chief: Freedom of speech doesn’t mean insulting Islam

22 December 2015

JEDDAH: Iyad Madani, secretary-general of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), has said that freedom of the press and expression is an important issue as it expresses the heartbeat of citizens and their concerns.

"But such freedom of expression as a way to offend religions and their symbols, is totally unacceptable," he asserted.

Madani was speaking during the final session of the "Media Forum on the African Continent" held by the Moroccan Ministry of Communication and the OIC over a span of three days in Marrakesh.

Full report at:

http://www.arabnews.com/saudi-arabia/news/854041

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ISIS lost 14 pct of its territory in 2015: report

22 December 2015

The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) group lost around 14 percent of its territory in 2015, while Syria’s Kurds almost tripled the land they control, thinktank IHS Jane’s said on Monday.

The development is a blow to the group given that its aim is to capture and hold territory to expand its so-called “caliphate”, where it imposes a severe and bloody form of what it calls Islamic law.

The militant group’s losses include the strategically important town of Tal Abyad on Syria’s border with Turkey, the Iraqi city of Tikrit, and Iraq’s Baiji refinery.

Other big losses for the group include a stretch of highway between its Syrian stronghold Raqa and Mosul in northern Iraq, complicating supply lines.

“We had already seen a negative financial impact on the Islamic State due to the loss of control of the Tal Abyad border crossing prior to the recent intensification of air strikes against the group’s oil production capacity,” said Columb Strack, IHS senior Middle East analyst.

The U.S.-based thinktank said the group’s territory had shrunk 12,800 square kilometres to 78,000 square km between the start of the year and December 14.

However, ISIS has made some high-profile gains during the year, including the historic Syrian town of Palmyra and the city center of Ramadi, the provincial capital of Anbar, Iraq’s largest province.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2015/12/22/ISIS-lost-14-pct-of-its-territory-in-2015-report.html

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Iraqi Forces Launch Large-Scale Operation to Complete Control over Ramadi

Dec 22, 2015

"The Iraqi army stormed the first defense lines of the ISIL terrorists in the city center and is now engaged in a heavy street battle with the Takfiri terrorists," the sources said.

"Around 250-300 ISIL militants are trapped in the city center with no way to scape and the pro-government forces are resolved to utilize this chance to hunt them one by one," the sources added.

"The engineering units of the Iraqi army have been busy since the early hours of this morning to dismantle over a thousand Improvised Explosive Devices (IED) planted by the ISIL across the city center," the sources said.

"The Iraqi forces have limited use of artillery shelling on ISIL positions in the city in a bid to avoid civilian casualties," the sources added.

Full report at:

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13941001000646

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47 Militants Killed by Syrian Army across Damascus Province

Dec 22, 2015

"The Syrian army troops killed at least 39 Takfiri terrorists in an attack on their positions in Eastern and Western Ghouta," the sources said, adding, "The militant groups' military vehicles were also destroyed in the attack."

"Aliya Farms and al-Hajariyeh near Douma city in the Northeastern part of Damascus province were the scenes of heavy battles between the Syrian soldiers and the militant groups," the sources said.

"In addition to the killing of at least 8 terrorist in Douma attack, the Syrian forces also inflicted heavy damage on the military hardware of the terrorist groups," they further added.

The Syrian army and its allies have recently gained the upper hand against the militant groups in different battlefields of the province.

The Syrian and Russian Air forces have played very crucial role in the victories of the country's ground forces against the militant groups in the recent weeks.

On Monday, the Syrian warplanes pounded Takfiri militants' positions in Damascus province as the army launched massive attacks on the terrorists.

The Syrian army targeted terrorists' Shilka vehicle and bulldozer in Sakik neighborhood in Khan al-Shih town in the Western Ghouta.

The army also engaged in clashes with terrorists in the vicinity of al-Marj area in the Eastern Ghouta.

Full report at:

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13941001000342

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ISIL Kills 9 Schoolgirls in Syria

Dec 22, 2015

Nine schoolgirls were killed as the ISIL terrorist fired a mortar shell at Harabesh Girls' School in the neighborhood of Harabesh in Deir Ezzur city.

At least 15 other students were injured in the attack.

On Saturday, the Syrian government forces fended off Takfiri terrorists' attack on the strategic Deir Ezzur airbase.

The Syrian forces repelled the terrorists' attack on Deir Ezzur airbase, and killed a number of militants, informed sources said.

Full report at:

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13941001000617

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Syria in Last 24 Hours: Army Inflicts Heavy Losses on Terrorists in Several Provinces

Dec 22, 2015

Tens of terrorists were killed and dozens more were wounded in the Syrian army's military operations across Syria on Monday.

Aleppo

The Syrian Army's anti-terrorism offensives in at least four neighborhoods of the Northern city of Aleppo claimed the lives of 12 members of al-Nusra Front and wounded many more, sources in the city announced on Monday.

"Concentration centers of the al-Qaeda-affiliated Nusra Front in Bani Zaid, al-Ramousa, al-Lairamoun and Karm al-Trab neighborhoods came under the sporadic attacks of the Syrian army troops," the sources said.

"In addition to a heavy death toll inflicted on the Nusra militants, their military hardware also sustained large damage in the attacks," the sources added.

"Some of the army soldiers were injured in the clashes and were transferred to the nearest army field hospital," the sources went on to say.

Meantime, the Syrian government forces annihilated ISIL positions in Aleppo province and inflicted heavy losses on the terrorists.

The Syrian army hit positions and movements of ISIL Takfiri terrorists in al-Shawaia Hill and in the villages of Bijan and Rasm al-Sahrij in the countryside of Aleppo.

The army destroyed a number of machine gun-equipped vehicles of the ISIL terrorist group too.

Several Takfiri terrorists were killed in the clashes.

Dara'a

The Syrian government forces resumed their anti-terrorism operations in Dara'a province, killing a group of Takfiri militants in clashes.

The Syrian army destroyed Takfiri terrorists’ positions in the South of al-Manshiye neighborhood in Dara'a al-Balad area in Dara'a city.

A large group of militants were killed and injured in the military operations.

The terrorists' vehicles and weapons were also destroyed.

Meantime, the Syrian Army troops raided the militant groups' concentration centers in the Southern city of Dara'a, and inflicted heavy losses on them, military sources in the city said Monday.

"One of the main strongholds of Takfiri terrorists in the Eastern side of Dara'a General Hospital was stormed by the Syrian army," the sources said, adding, "Tens of the militants were killed or wounded in the army assault and their military vehicles also were damaged seriously."

Lattakia

The Syrian Army and the country's National Defense Forces won more battles in the mountainous regions of Lattakia and took full control over three more strategic heights near the border with Turkey, battlefield sources announced Monday.

"Defense lines of the Takfiri militants in a region between al-Koz and al-Aswad al-Kabir mountains were massively stormed by the Syrian government forces, who pushed back the terrorists from their positions and regained the strategic Heights 453.5, 535.5 and 539.5," the sources said.

"Scores of the militants were killed or wounded in the Syrian forces' operation, and the remaining of them fled the battlefields," the sources added.

"The Syrian army's engineering units have started to dismantle the militant-planted mines and Improvised Explosive Devices (IED) across the recaptured heights," they said.

Homs

The Syrian army repelled ISIL attacks in the Central Province of Homs, killing dozens of the terrorists.

The Syrian soldiers repelled the attacks by ISIL Takfiri terrorists who were moving from Unq al-Hawa village towards Jub al-Jarrah and from Rahmoum and Oum Sehreej towards Maksar al-Husan to the East of Homs city on Sunday.

Tens of militants were killed in the clashes.

Militants' weapons and munitions were also destroyed.

Meantime, scores of terrorists were killed as the Syrian fighter jets intensified their airstrikes on militants' positions in Homs province.

Syrian bombers destroyed the positions of the Takfiri terrorists in Teir Maala, al-Rastan and West of Maheen in Homs.

Full report at:

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13941001000019

----------

 

WMC slams terror, urges Muslim unity

22 December 2015

JEDDAH: The World Muslim Congress (WMC) strives for world peace and the Muslim Ummah should stay united against terrorism, Abdullah Omar Naseef, the president of the organization, said here recently.

The WMC chief was speaking at the executive members’ meeting, which concluded with new appointments. “The WMC, which was established in 1926, re-examined its role and injected new blood in it,” he said.

He added that scholars should come forward and show the Ummah the right path.

Raja Muhammad Zafarul Haq, secretary-general of WMC and Pakistani senator, said the organization has played an important role in continuing charitable activities and providing welfare services to many people around the world.

He said the WMC provides a platform to the Muslim world to unite and discuss various issues. “The measurement of its success cannot be analyzed statistically, but its role in helping Muslims around the world cannot be denied. This meeting is an effort to enhance the activities of the members in each part of the world.”

Saleh Al-Aad, Omar Abdullah Naseef and Mohammed Abdullah Naseef were named assistant secretary generals and Raja Mohammed Ali was chosen as assistant secretary general in Pakistan. A panel of five advisers was also appointed during the meeting.

Tariq Abbasi from the UK said it’s high time for religious scholars to come forward and guide the new generation.

Full report at:

http://www.arabnews.com/saudi-arabia/news/854086

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Global support to Islamic anti-terror alliance hailed

21 December 2015

RIYADH: The Council of Ministers has condemned the Houthi militants for breaking a truce aimed at restoring peace in Yemen. It also welcomed the pacts signed to end the conflicts in Syria and Libya.

These were some of the key decisions taken at a Cabinet meeting chaired by Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman at Al-Yamamah palace on Monday afternoon, said Culture and Information Minister Adel Al-Toraifi in a statement to SPA.

On the 34-nation Saudi-led anti-terror alliance, Al-Toraifi said that the Cabinet commended Arab, Muslim and friendly countries, international organizations and parliaments for supporting the entity. It also expressed the Kingdom’s solidarity with Nigeria in confronting terrorist groups in that country.

The Cabinet denounced the Houthi militias’ “non-compliance after the announcement of a cease-fire during the peace talks between the Yemeni parties under the auspices of the UN in Geneva, and their violation of the truce by committing actions that do not serve the negotiations aimed at finding a peaceful solution to the Yemeni cause,” Al-Toraifi said.

The Cabinet hailed the UN Security Council Resolution 2254 on Syria, which sets up the political process to resolve the crisis based on the principles of the Geneva 1 declaration and the Vienna 1 and 2 conferences.

Full report at:

http://www.arabnews.com/saudi-arabia/news/853666

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Syrian Army Finds Saudi Aid Supplies in Positions Seized from Terrorists Southwest Aleppo

Dec 22, 2015

Sources said that a large volume of aid parcels supplied by Saudi Arabia were founded in the positions of the militant groups after the Syrian army pushed them back from their strongholds in Khan Touman town in Aleppo province.

In October a Saudi official announced that his country supplied the militants in Syria with a new batch of TOW antitank missiles as the Syrian army forces backed by Russian warplanes continued to gain ground in the country.

BBC correspondent Frank Gardner tweeted that a Saudi official confirmed the delivery of 500 TOW antitank missiles to the so-called Free Syrian Army (FSA).

The delivery of the TOW missiles — which was provided by the CIA — would allegedly increase the capabilities of the militants.

Full report at:

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13941001000555

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Army Kills Top Terrorist Commander in Damascus

Dec 22, 2015

On Monday, Abu Tha'er Ezz El-Deen, a senior commander of Ajnad al-Sham terrorist group, was killed in clashes with Syrian army near Marj Al-Sultan in Damascus province.

The news comes as the Syrian warplanes bombed a terrorists' position in the South of the housing compound of Air Defense personnel in Khan al-Shih town in Damascus countryside while senior commanders were holding a meeting.

A large group of terrorists were killed and injured in the airstrike.

The Syrian fighter jets also destroyed a terrorists' concentration center in the East of Beit Jen farms in Damascus countryside, inflicting heavy losses on the militants.

Also on Monday, the Syrian army stormed positions of Takfiri terrorists in Darayya city in Eastern Ghouta in Damascus countryside.

"Scores of militants, including Abu Usama, a leader of a terrorist group, were killed in the anti-terrorism operations," field sources said.

Earlier, the al-Qaeda-affiliated al-Nusra Front's massive attack on government troops' positions in the strategic Marj al-Sultan airbase in Damascus province was fended off by the Syrian Army and its allies, battlefield sources said on Monday.

"The Syrian army and National Defense Forces (NDF) thwarted the Nusra terrorists' attempts to infiltrate into the airbase, and killed many of them, including a senior field commander," the sources said.

Full report at:

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13941001000538

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Russian-Syrian Airstrikes Target ISIL's Long Columns of Oil Tankers

Dec 22, 2015

"The first convoy of the ISIL with at least eight oil tankers and some other military vehicles was targeted by the Russian and Syrian air attacks near the ancient city of Palmyra (Tadmur)," army sources said Tuesday, adding, "Almost the entire oil tankers were destroyed and tens of the militants accompanying the convoy were killed in the attack."

"The joint squadron of the Russian and Syrian bombers also targeted 14 oil tankers of the ISIL near Sukhnah in the Eastern part of Homs province, which ended in complete destruction of the convoy and the killing or wounding of its guards," the sources said.

Homs, which is a Central province and home to Palmyra, plays a pivotal role for the government forces to drive their military machine on a correct way and distribute forces across the country as best as possible, that's why the Syrian forces are operating against the terrorist groups in different parts of the province to route out militancy in the Central part of the country.   

A report said on Monday that the Russian and Syrian fighter jets carried out tens of combat sorties over ISIL's defense lines across the Central Homs province, specially those near Maheen town.

"The Russian and Syrian air forces have mostly carried out their anti-terrorism combat sorties separately, but in some cases they have conducted joint operations against the militant groups' positions in Homs province," the army informed.

"The Russian bombers hit heavily the ISIL centers near the ancient city of Palmyra (Tadmur), Quaryatayn and Maheen over 20 times, inflicting very large damage on the militants' sites," the army said.

Full report at:

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13941001000409

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Syria: Nusra Positions Annihilated in Idlib Village

Dec 22, 2015

The Syrian army destroyed positions of al-Nusra Front in Bdama village in the countryside of Jisr al-Shoughor on Monday.

During the military operations, the army killed at least 10 terrorists, most of them foreign militants.

The Takfiri militants' weapons and military vehicles were also destroyed.

Earlier on Monday, the Syrian Army announced that its commandoes, in a special operation in the outskirts of the Northwestern city of Idlib, killed nearly 43 militants of al-Nusra Front, including a senior field commander.

"Abu Mohammad al-Saraqbi, the Nusra Front's field commander near Idlib, was killed in the Syrian commandoes' attack," the army said.

Full report at:

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13941001000427

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The Islamic State in possession of "tens of thousands" of blank passports

Dec 22 2015

The Islamic State (IS) has come into possession of  "tens of thousands" of blank passports, which it can use to smuggle fighters into Europe as refugees, according to the German newspaper Welt am Sonntag, which cites Western intelligence sources.   The reports claim that Daesh [Arabic acronym for the IS] stole the documents in the territories - Syria, Iraq, Libya - under its control.

These passports can be used to smuggle suicide bomber and militants across the borders of the European Union as asylum seekers.

The IS has already launched an operation of falsification of documents, which are then sold on the black market to a value of 1500 euro. In this regard, the European authorities have long sounded the alert for possible threats from alleged refugees traveling on false documents.

Full report at:

http://www.asianews.it/news-en/The-Islamic-State-in-possession-of-tens-of-thousands-of-blank-passports-36208.html

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Saudi reformist writer jailed for four years

Dec 22 2015

DUBAI: A Saudi reformist writer who called his fellow intellectuals “cowards” and his country racist has been handed a four-year prison sentence and banned from writing, his lawyer and son said on Monday.

Zuhair Kutbi “was sentenced to four years prison” and ordered not to write for 15 years, lawyer Ibrahim al-Mida­ ymiq tweeted at @imodatt­orney. Half of the sentence was suspended, meaning he will serve the other two years. Kutbi’s son Jameel Zuhair Kutbi gave the same information at @Dr Eng­Jimmy.

“My father has been sentenced,” Jameel wrote.

The writer was also fined 100,000 riyals ($26,667) and banned from travelling for five years, they said. In a tweet on Sunday, the son said his father was to be sentenced by a “terrorism” court.

Full report at:

http://www.dawn.com/news/1227959/saudi-reformist-writer-jailed-for-four-years

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Syrian Army, Hezbollah Take Back More Lands Southwest of Aleppo Province

Dec 22, 2015

"The Syrian army and its allies hit the defense lines of the militant groups hard near Maratah, a small town near the strategic Aleppo-Damascus highway, and pushed them back form the town and its surroundings," the army said.

"The pro-government forces won back the heights near Maratah on Monday morning and after hours of heavy battle, they took full control over the entire town last night," the army added.

Maratah is located in the Eastern side of the newly-liberated town of Khan Touman.

The Syrian army and its allies, backed up by the Russian fighter jets, have been carrying out very successful operations in various parts of the Northern Aleppo province in the recent weeks.

Full report at:

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13941001000229

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Terrorist Ringleader Killed in Damascus

Dec 22, 2015

On Monday, the Syrian army stormed positions of Takfiri terrorists in Darayya city in Eastern Ghouta in Damascus countryside.

"Scores of militants, including Abu Usama, a leader of a terrorist group, were killed in the anti-terrorism operations," field sources said.

Meanwhile, the army destroyed command posts of Takfiri terrorists and killed a large group of militants in Irbin town in Damascus countryside.

Earlier on Monday, Syrian warplanes pounded Takfiri militants' positions in Damascus province as the army launched massive attacks on the terrorists.

The Syrian army targeted terrorists' Shilka vehicle and bulldozer in Sakik neighborhood in Khan al-Shih town in the Western Ghouta in Damascus countryside.

The army also engaged in clashes with terrorists in the vicinity of al-Marj area in the Eastern Ghouta.

The Syrian troops and their allies fired artillery shells and rockets at ISIL positions in the crossings of Martabya, al-Romyat, Daher Ali and al-Zimrani in al-Qalamoun, killing and injuring a group of militants. A state of panic and confusion reportedly prevailed among ISIL ranks.

Fierce clashes also erupted between the Syrian army and Takfiri militants in Jobar neighborhood to the East of Damascus city. The Syrian forces also fired artillery shells at terrorists' positions in Jobar.

Full report at:

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13941001000316

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Kuwaiti MP dies during parliament session

22 December 2015

A member of Kuwait’s national assembly has passed away on Tuesday after suddenly fainting while parliament was in session, Al Arabiya News Channel reported.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2015/12/22/Kuwaiti-MP-dies-during-parliament-session.html

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About 20 killed in strikes on ISIS in Iraq’s Mosul

22 December 2015

About 20 people, including at least 12 civilians, were killed on Monday in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul, in two air strikes that destroyed houses believed to be used by ISIS militants, six eyewitnesses and a medical source said.

Nearby buildings were also damaged, they said.

The two strikes happened within a 10-minute gap at about 3 p.m. local time, targeting the houses of a local ISIS commander and his son in the July 17 district of western Mosul, said the witnesses, contacted from Baghdad.

Government officials were not immediately available for comment.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2015/12/22/About-20-killed-in-strikes-on-ISIS-in-Iraq-s-Mosul-.html

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Lebanon cabinet agrees to export country’s waste

22 December 2015

Lebanon's cabinet on Monday agreed to export the country's waste in a move that could end a crisis that led to a wave of protests and threatened the downfall of the government.

The government has awarded two foreign companies 18 month contracts to transport Lebanon's waste by sea in a plan that should start to be carried out this month when the firms complete agreed financial obligations.

Prime Minister Tamam Salam had previously expressed frustration at the failings of his cabinet, which struggled to resolve the garbage problem after the closure of Beirut's main rubbish tip in July.

"This was a catastrophe that was a result of years and years of neglect," Salam said on Monday after a cabinet meeting convened to discuss the problem.

He had threatened to resign as protests calling for a solution to the rubbish crisis turned into calls for the cabinet to step down.

"We hope to have closed this chapter of an affair in the shadow of disruptions the country has endured and in the context of a tense political situation," Salam said at a press conference.

The protests that began this summer had been organized independently of the main sectarian parties, posing a challenge to their influence.

The rubbish crisis echoes wider problems facing Lebanon.

The weak state has long been criticized for failing to develop the country and its infrastructure. Beirut still suffers daily power cuts 25 years after the end of the 1975-1990 civil war.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2015/12/22/Lebanon-cabinet-agrees-to-export-country-s-waste-.html

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U.N. mulls ways to monitor possible Syria truce

22 December 2015

The United Nations is mulling “light touch” options for monitoring a possible ceasefire in Syria that would keep its risks to a minimum by relying largely on Syrians already on the ground, diplomatic sources said.

The U.N. Security Council on Friday unanimously called on Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to draw up within a month options for monitoring a ceasefire in Syria. It is the second time since the Syrian civil war broke out in March 2011 that the council backed a plan for peace talks and a truce.

The talk about the U.N.’s role as monitor has gained urgency along with a new push for a ceasefire in Syria to take effect as early as January, in parallel to talks between the government and opposition. More than a dozen major powers, including the United States, Russia and major European and Middle Eastern powers, have drawn up a road map for Syria peace talks.

U.N. planning for truce monitoring will seek to avoid repeating the “disaster” of a mission sent to Syria in 2012, diplomats said. That operation failed because the warring parties showed no interest in halting the fighting, they said.

Under the light-touch mechanism currently under consideration, the United Nations would rely on Syrian actors - “proxies” - on the ground to report violations. This could possibly involve a small group of non-uniformed U.N. officials in Syria to carry out investigations of ceasefire violations, diplomats said.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2015/12/22/U-N-mulls-options-to-monitor-a-Syria-truce.html

----------

 

North America

 

U.N.: People who reject Syrian refugees are allies of extremists

22 December 2015

People who reject Syrian refugees are the “best allies” of ISIS militants and other extremists, the United Nations refugee chief said on Monday after U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump proposed an entry ban on foreign Muslims.

More than 4.3 million Syrians have fled a nearly five-year civil war. U.N. High Commissioner for refugees Antonio Guterres told the Security Council they cannot be blamed for the terror they are risking their lives to escape.

“Those that reject Syrian refugees, and especially if they are Muslim, are the best allies of the propaganda and the recruitment of extremist groups,” Guterres said in a swipe at Trump and some U.S. state governors and European leaders.

Democrat presidential candidate Hillary Clinton said on Saturday that ISIS is using Trump’s rhetoric to enlist fighters. Trump rejected her claim and called her a “liar.”

Amid the chaos of Syria’s war, ISIS has seized swathes of territory and proclaimed a caliphate. The group claimed responsibility for the deadly Nov. 13 attacks in Paris and also said a married couple who carried out a mass shooting in Southern California on Dec. 2 were its followers.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/world/2015/12/22/U-N-People-who-reject-Syrian-refugees-are-allies-of-extremists.html

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Most of the Americans are not Islamophobes

SAMEEN TAHIR KHAN

22 December 2015

OHIO: The attack in San Bernardino on Dec. 2, was the 355th incident of mass shooting in the US in 2015. But it became the most infamous as it involved a Muslim couple. Media gave nonstop coverage to the event for weeks, as though nothing else happened in the world during that time.

The Islamophobes went into overdrive. Graffiti appeared on mosque walls and Muslim homes screaming. “We hate Muslims,” “Go home.” There were scores of hate crimes from name calling, physical attacks to firing at a Hijabi woman’s car.

In Canada, too while Prime Minister Justin Trudeau welcomed Syrian refugees, a Muslim woman, Hiba, faced hostility especially because she wears a niqab. “Ninja, Ninja” was something she was used to hear but now people were telling her to go home. “A woman actually came up to me and told me I was a step back to feminism. Hiba, who speaks fluent French and English calmly told the woman that feminism to her meant to do what she wanted. “If you have the right to uncover, I have the right to cover.”

Across the US, Muslims were in shock. Some found it hard to believe at what had happened on Dec. 2, in San Bernardino. Some resorted to conspiracy theories suspecting that someone had framed the shooters to bring disrepute to the Muslim community. They could not believe that Tashfeen Malik, a Pakistani woman and mother of a seven-month-old baby could be so brutal.

Fear gripped the Muslim community. One woman came crying to a well-known Islamic imam stating that she had taken off her hijab after donning it since age 7 because she was scared. One person who did not wish to be identified said, “Before I would pray anywhere; in parking lots, restaurant lobbies. But now I am careful. In malls, I pray in the fitting rooms, at the airports I check with the authorities where I can pray.” A man with a long beard said, there was pressure from relatives to trim his beard to a smaller size.

But while the media and the Islamophobes spewed poison against Muslims, a kinder, gentler side of North America emerged: Sabra a California resident said that in their mosque, over 250 Christians and Jews formed a circle vowing to protect the mosque. Non-Muslim schoolgirls in a Chicago school covered their head with scarves to stand in support of their fellow Muslim students.

Full report at:

http://www.arabnews.com/world/news/853771

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US: Man suspected of making bomb to harm Muslims arrested

22 December 2015

U.S. police arrested a man in Richmond, California for building an explosive device in his house allegedly made to harm Muslims in the city, local media reported on Monday.

According to local media reports quoting a police statement, security officials received a tip last Thursday about “a man who had said he wanted to harm local Muslim community members.”

“Detectives found and arrested the man early Sunday without incident,” the police said in a statement. “The Richmond police SWAT team, joined by detectives, served a search warrant at the man's house and found a possible explosive device.”

According to local media outlets, police evacuated residents in the neighborhood on Sunday.

“The Walnut Creek police bomb squad detonated the object at 6:05 p.m., and investigators found no other devices on scene," Richmond police Lt. Felix Tan was quoted as saying.

 Residents were told to return to their homes in the evening.

The suspect was identified by police as 55-year-old William Celli. He appeared to be a supporter of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, according to progressive online news site Rawstory.com.

“Donald trumps on again I’m happy leaders okay but this guys a great point man I’ll follow this MAN to the end of the world,” Celli reportedly  posted Oct. 21.

“I have lost 30% of my business to Hispanics coming to my country under false pretenses an and freeload in construction or in the blue collar sector they need to go back home lets [sic] not talk about the welfare they suck dry,” he posted in June 2014 which echoed Trump’s anti-immigrant sentiments.

Full report at:

http://www.worldbulletin.net/america-canada/167648/us-man-suspected-of-making-bomb-to-harm-muslims-arrested

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Choosing faith over fear, unity over extremism in US capital

ANWAR IQBAL

Dec 22 2015

WASHINGTON: “We choose faith over fear, unity over extremism,” said a father to his teenage son as hundreds of Jews and Christians gathered outside Washington’s central mosque to show solidarity with American Muslims.

Followers of all three Abrahamic faiths — Islam, Judaism and Christianity — got together in the US capital on Sunday to march from the city’s largest synagogue to its biggest cathedral and then to the most beautiful mosque, stopping at each to spread their “message of love”.

At Washington Hebrew Congregation, Imam Bilal of Masjid Mohammed, northwest Washington, recited the call for prayer.

“Not one of us should be registered because of our faith, nor should we put up with fear-mongers,” said Rabbi M. Bruce Lustig while addressing the rally.

Take a look: UN officials sickened by public hatred against Muslims

This was an indirect reference to a recent statement by Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump that all Muslims in the US should be registered and monitored by US authorities. Other Republican leaders have urged the Obama administration not to accept Syrian refugees.

But Rabbi Lustig rejected the suggestion, saying: “No walls along borders. No obstacles to Syrian refugees.”

At Washington National Cathedral, three Muslim children — Faateha Syed, Jannah Syed and Ridwa Ullah — recited a ‘na’at’.

At the Islamic Centre mosque, Jewish and Christian scholars read verses from the Bible and the Torah.

Cardinal Donald Wuerl, head of the Archdiocese of Washington, read from Luke 23:24: “Forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.” Bishop Mariann Edgar Budde from the Episcopal Diocese of Washington told the audience, “Love is stronger than hate”.

Rabbi David Saperstein, the US ambassador at large for international religious freedom, read from Exodus 22:21: “You shall not wrong or oppress a stranger. For you were strangers in the land of Egypt.”

The centre’s imam, Dr Abdullah Khouj, read verse 49:13 from the Holy Quran, while welcoming his Jewish and Christian guests: “O mankind, we created you from a male and a female and made you into nations and tribes so that you may know and honour each other (not that you should despise one another).”

Full report at:

http://www.dawn.com/news/1227945/choosing-faith-over-fear-unity-over-extremism-in-us-capital

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US school district closed due to threat of violence

December 22, 2015

WASHINGTON - Authorities in the northeastern US city of Nashua said they ordered schools closed on Monday following a threat, less than a week after Los Angeles city officials took a similar decision.

"We have received a detailed threat of violence to harm students and staff at both high schools," Mark Conrad, superintendent of the Nashua School District, said in a statement Sunday.

"Because the threat is specific and extends to several schools we will be cautious and close all of our public schools in Nashua," a city of around 87,000 people in the state of New Hampshire.

Full report at:

http://nation.com.pk/international/22-Dec-2015/us-school-district-closed-due-to-threat-of-violence

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Swiss Islamic body denies member promoting militancy

December 22, 2015

GENEVA:- Switzerland’s largest Islamic organisation on Monday defended a board member against allegations from the country’s prosecutors over his alleged production of militant propaganda. The Islamic Central Council of Switzerland (ICCS), in a statement, affirmed “full support for (board member) Naim Cherni” and said his work “in no way has anything to do with Al-Qaeda.” Cherni was not named in a Saturday statement from the Swiss attorney general, which said that an ICCS board member was being probed for violating “the prohibition of groups like Al-Qaeda, Islamic State and similar organisations.”–AFP

Full report at:

http://nation.com.pk/international/22-Dec-2015/swiss-islamic-body-denies-member-promoting-militancy

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Mideast

 

Hezbollah chief vows retaliation for Kantar killing

December 22, 2015

Hezbollah blamed Israel on Monday for the killing of its high-profile commander Samir Kantar in Syria, vowing to avenge his death.

"Tonight I say to the enemy and to the friend, the martyr Samir Kantar is one of us, a leader in our resistance and with all certainty he was killed by the Israelis," said Hassan Nasrallah, leader of the Lebanese Shia movement, in a televised speech.

Speaking in a sombre tone, Nasrallah continued: "It is our right to respond to his assassination at the time and place and fashion we deem appropriate."

Kantar, who spent some 30 years in an Israeli prison and was released in 2008 as part of a prisoner swap with Hezbollah, was killed on Saturday night after suspected Israeli air strikes targeted the building he was staying in on the outskirts of the Syrian capital Damascus.

He was reportedly working on the development of a Syrian resistance movement that would focus on the liberation of the Golan Heights from Israeli occupation in southern Syria.

Quoting a speech he gave in January following an Israeli air strike in the Syrian province of Quneitra that killed several Hezbollah fighters, Nasrallah repeated the same message: "When Israel attacks anywhere in whatever way and at any time, it is the resistance's right to respond wherever it may be, in whatever fashion, in any place. That is it."

Ali Hashem, a political commentator who closely follows Hezbollah's movements, said the calmness of the speech was a divergence from the usual fiery approach Nasrallah tends to adopt.

"I think Hezbollah was keen to convey a message to the Israelis that this [Kantar's killing] won't go without a response," Hashem told Al Jazeera.

"Nasrallah also stressed the fact it would be at a time and place of their choosing, which means the whole border area - from Naqoura on Lebanon's coast to the Golan Heights in Syria - is an open area for a future response."

Israeli has neither confirmed nor denied it was responsible for Kantar's killing.

Earlier on Monday, thousands of mourners attended the funeral of Kantar in Beirut's southern suburbs.

Full report at:

http://nation.com.pk/international/22-Dec-2015/hezbollah-chief-vows-retaliation-for-kantar-killing

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Iran blames Israeli lobby for U.S. visa changes

22 December 2015

Iran said on Monday that Israeli lobbying was behind a new measure passed by the U.S. Congress that will prevent visa-free travel to the United States for people who have visited Iran or hold Iranian nationality.

The measure, which President Barack Obama signed into law on Friday, also applies to Iraq, Syria and Sudan, and was introduced as a security measure after the ISIS attacks in Paris and a similar attack in San Bernardino, California.

Iran, a Shi’ite Muslim theocracy staunchly opposed to radicalism espoused by groups like ISIS, says its inclusion on the list is intended to undermine a deal on its nuclear program that Tehran reached with world powers, including the United States, in July, known as the JCPOA.

Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Hossein Jaberi Ansari said in a televised news conference that the U.S. measure had been passed “under pressure from the Zionist lobby and currents opposed to the JCPOA”.

Citizens of 38 countries, most of them in Europe, are eligible for waivers under the U.S. Visa Waiver Program. Under the new restrictions, citizens who have visited Iran, Iraq, Syria or Sudan in the last five years, and those who hold dual nationality with one of those countries, are excluded.

The measure was introduced after 130 people were killed in the ISIS attacks in Paris on Nov. 13. Several of the attackers had European passports, and some had traveled to ISIS territory in Syria.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2015/12/22/Iran-blames-Israeli-lobby-for-U-S-visa-changes.html

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New passports will refer to Palestinian state, says Abbas

Dec 22 2015

ATHENS: Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas says his national authority proposes to change its name on passports it issues to State of Palestine.

Abbas says this will happen in about a year at the most, replacing the name Palestinian Authority.

Full report at:

http://www.dawn.com/news/1227967/new-passports-will-refer-to-palestinian-state-says-abbas

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Efforts underway for Iran-Saudi dialogue: Tehran

December 22, 2015

TEHRAN - Diplomatic efforts are being made to open “direct dialogue” between regional rivals Iran and Saudi Arabia, a spokesman for Tehran’s foreign ministry said on Monday.

“Diplomatic efforts are underway between Iran and Saudi Arabia to prepare the ground for direct dialogue to resolve differences and regional issues,” Hossein Jaber Ansari told reporters.

Iran supports the Syrian and Iraqi governments and provides both with military advice against militants, mainly the Islamic State group.

Riyadh condemns Tehran’s policy and supports armed rebel groups in Syria.

Ansari also said that a new Saudi ambassador would soon take office in the Iranian capital.

The current Saudi ambassador has not been in Tehran for over a year.

The spokesman was however cautious in his comments on Saudi Arabia’s recent announcement on creating an anti-terror coalition of 34 Muslim countries that excludes Iran, Iraq and Syria.

Full report at:

http://nation.com.pk/international/22-Dec-2015/efforts-underway-for-iran-saudi-dialogue-tehran

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Turkey’s pro-Kurdish party leader to visit Moscow this week

21 December 2015

The leader of Turkey’s opposition pro-Kurdish Democratic Peoples’ Party (HDP) will meet Wednesday with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Moscow for talks aimed at reducing tensions after the downing of a Russian warplane by Turkish forces, the party said Monday.

The trip by Selahattin Demirtas -- a key rival of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan -- will be the first by a high profile Turkish figure to Russia since the shooting-down of the Russian Su-24 warplane led to a crisis in the two countries’ ties unprecedented since the Cold War.

“The spike in tensions with Russia will inflict a heavy price on Turkey,” Nazmi Gur, an HDP lawmaker who will accompany the party leader during the trip to Moscow, told AFP.

“Turkey’s engulfing itself in problems with its major neighbor will deepen problems including the Syrian crisis. What the peoples of Turkey need is not crisis,” he said.

“I hope this initiative (by Demirtas) will help soften relations between Turkey and Russia,” he added.

Demirtas had first announced the plan for the trip in an interview with a regional television over the weekend. There is no indication that the trip has been coordinated with the government.

After the November 24 shooting down of the plane, Moscow has imposed a raft of economic sanctions on Ankara. Turkey says the Russian jet has violated several times its airspace but an infuriated Moscow insists it never strayed from the Syrian territory.

Turkey, largely dependent on Russian oil and natural gas, has not hit back with sanctions measures of its own but accused Russia of using every platform to target Ankara since the crisis.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2015/12/21/Turkey-s-pro-Kurdish-party-leader-to-visit-Moscow-this-week.html

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Yemen truce fragile as rebels threaten Saudi Arabia

December 22, 2015

ADEN - A ceasefire in Yemen that has been frequently violated was due to be extended Monday night, as fighting persisted in the north and rebels vowed more missile attacks on Saudi targets.

The truce was set to be renewed for one week, a day after the Saudi-backed government and Iran-backed rebels wrapped up peace talks in Switzerland without any breakthrough.

The six days of closed-door meetings were strained by repeated violations of a coinciding ceasefire aimed at calming tensions between loyalists and the rebels who control Sanaa.

On Monday, clashes continued in the north of Yemen, while there was a lull in fighting in the south, even outside third city Taez which is under rebel siege, pro-government forces said.

Ten rebels were killed as loyalists pressed their offensive in Nihm, 40 kilometres (25 miles) outside the capital, they said.

Loyalists also advanced towards the Saudi border post of Baqa in northern Jawf province.

The Saudi-led coalition that has backed the loyalists since March bombed rebel positions in Khawlan, east of Sanaa, witnesses said.

A halt to the violence is sorely needed in the Arabian Peninsula’s poorest nation, where the UN says fighting since March has killed thousands of people and left about 80 percent of the population needing humanitarian aid.

UN special envoy Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed announced in Bern on Sunday that a new round of talks would be held on January 14 at a location yet to be disclosed.

The conflict has escalated dramatically since Saudi-led air strikes began in March, with more than 5,800 people killed and 27,000 wounded since then, according to UN figures.

The Huthis, a minority from Yemen’s north, seized Sanaa last year and then advanced south to the second city of Aden, forcing President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi to flee to Saudi Arabia in March.

Following territorial gains by loyalist troops backed by the coalition, Hadi returned to Aden in November after six months in exile in the neighbouring oil-rich kingdom.

Before dawn on Monday, Saudi Arabia intercepted a missile fired from Yemen into the kingdom’s southern Jazan district, the coalition said, after a missile killed three civilians two days earlier.

“Air forces immediately destroyed the launch pad inside Yemen,” the coalition said.

The Saudis have also deployed Patriot missile batteries designed to counter tactical ballistic missiles.

Clashes have been common along the border with Saudi Arabia, where rebel strikes have killed more than 80 people since March.

Monday’s attack came a day after a spokesman for forces allied to the Huthis vowed to intensify missile attacks on Saudi targets.

Brigadier General Sharaf Luqman said “300 Saudi military and vital targets” had been chosen.

The rebels and their allies still have “about 60 to 70 missiles, including Tochka missiles”, Yemeni army sources say, despite coalition claims to have neutralised their ballistic capabilities.

Full report at:

http://nation.com.pk/international/22-Dec-2015/yemen-truce-fragile-as-rebels-threaten-saudi-arabia

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Turkish forces clash with PKK as curfews expanded

22 December 2015

The Turkish army on Monday engaged in intense clashes with Kurdish militants as the military pressed on with one of its biggest recent domestic operations and controversial curfew orders were expanded to a new area in the Kurdish-dominated southeast.

The army has since last week pursued a relentless campaign against PKK rebels in the two southeastern towns of Cizre and Silopi, in a bid to root out militants of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK).

The local authorities in the southeastern city of Nusaybin said Monday that a curfew measure in the town that had previously applied to three areas had been widened to cover 11 more, essentially the whole town.

“The curfew has been imposed until further notice, with the aim of avoiding harm to civilians,” the local authorities said in a statement.

Intense clashes were continuing inside the closed-off towns of Cizre and Silopi, with the sounds of firing and explosions heard from within, Turkish media reports said.

An army helicopter was unable to land in Cizre after it was fired on by the PKK, the Hurriyet daily said.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2015/12/22/Turkish-forces-clash-with-PKK-as-curfews-expanded.html

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Europe

 

Hungary urged to end anti-refugee stance

22 December 2015

The UN's refugee agency and human rights groups urged Hungary on Monday to end policies that promote "intolerance and hatred" of migrants as Europe struggles to cope with its worst migration crisis since World War II.

In a joint statement, UNHCR, the Council of Europe and the OSCE's office of human rights called on Hungary's leaders to help "those who have been forced out of their countries against their own will and choice and are currently seeking safety in Europe".

They criticised a public campaign launched by the Hungarian government this month that they said portrayed refugees, most of them coming from war-torn Syria, as "criminals, invaders and terrorists based on their religious beliefs and places of origin".

The campaign has seen full-page messages in national newspapers appear with the headline: "The quota increases the terror threat!" against a black background.

It refers to EU plans to distribute 160,000 refugees and migrants across the bloc, with Slovakia and Hungary due to take in around 2,300 people each.

Other messages read: "An illegal immigrant arrives in Europe on average every 12 seconds"; "We don't know who they are, or what their intentions are" and "We don't know how many hidden terrorists are among them".

Hungary has taken a hardline stance on the refugee crisis, sealing off its southern borders with a barbed wire fence to stop the influx of migrants.

Hungary's Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto reacted to the criticism, denying that the country was trying to sow fear of refugees and migrants, according to the Hungarian news agency MTI.

"Hungary is talking about reality... it offers, as before, protection to those who really need it, but it cannot welcome tens or hundreds of thousands of economic migrants,"  the agency quoted him as saying.

Full report at:

http://www.worldbulletin.net/europe/167657/greek-parliament-recognizes-palestine

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France, Russia to ‘strengthen’ intel exchange on ISIS

21 December 2015

Moscow and Paris have agreed to up efforts to share intelligence relating to ISIS after the countries vowed to cooperate militarily on the issue.

“We have agree to strengthen our exchange of military information, both on the strikes and the location of the different groups (in Syria),” French Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said following talks with Russian counterpart Sergei Shoigu.

“Our intelligence services will strengthen their already existing ties, which require increased cooperation.”

Western nations have complained that Russia is primarily bombing rebels, including moderates, which threaten the regime of Bashar al-Assad, rather than targeting ISIS.

But Le Drian said earlier he hoped France would also be able to cooperate with Russia in other areas.

“There are many Russian speakers in Daesh which it would be useful for us to have information on, and likewise we could perhaps provide information on their French speakers,” the minister said.

“Intelligence sharing requires giving on both sides,” he said.

Le Drian and Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu will also discuss ways to avoid any collisions between Russian and French aircraft in Syrian airspace.

France recently deployed its aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle to the Gulf, with 26 bombers on board, for operations against ISIS in Iraq and Syria. Other aircraft are also stationed in Jordan and the United Arab Emirates.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/world/2015/12/21/French-defence-minister-in-Moscow-for-anti-ISIS-talks-.html

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Africa

 

1 million kids out of school over Boko Haram violence: UNICEF

Dec 22, 2015

The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) says more than one million children are out of school as a result of violence by Nigeria-based Boko Haram Takfiri militants in a number of African countries.

In a report released on Tuesday, UNICEF said more than 2,000 schools remained closed across the countries that are bearing the brunt of Boko Haram terror activities, including Nigeria, Cameron, Chad and Niger.

The UN body also said hundreds of other education facilities have been attacked, looted or set on fire by the militants.

“The longer they stay out of school, the greater the risks of being abused, abducted, and recruited by armed groups,” said UNICEF’s regional director of West and Central Africa, Manuel Fontaine.

The UNICEF official said although some schools in Nigeria have managed to reopen after the army regained territory in the country’s northeastern region, they failed to offer necessary supplies and equipment needed for children to study.

Many schools still remain unsafe as the terrorists have threatened to abduct students this month, he said.

Full report at:

http://www.presstv.ir/Detail/2015/12/22/442761/Boko-Haram-Nigeria-Chad-UNICEF-Manuel-Fontaine-Takfiri

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Two migrants drown, 108 rescued off Libya

December 22, 2015

TRIPOLI : Two migrants trying to reach Europe by boat drowned off Libya on Monday, another 10 were missing and more than 100 were rescued, the coastguard said.

“We saved 108 people but two drowned and 10 others were reported missing,” coastguard Colonel Ashraf al-Badri said. “The boat was almost completely under water” off Janzour town some 10 kilometres (six miles) west of Tripoli, he said.

Those rescued had not been wearing life jackets, an AFP photographer said.

The coastguard took them to the Tripoli naval base and gave them dry clothes, including military uniforms, and blankets as they awaited transfer to a detention centre.

Libya has for years been a stepping stone for migrants seeking to reach Europe, but smugglers have stepped up their lucrative business since the 2011 fall of Moamer Kadhafi.

Early this month, Italy’s coastguard said it had rescued more than 4,600 people from unseaworthy boats off Libya in three days.

Full report at:

http://nation.com.pk/international/22-Dec-2015/two-migrants-drown-108-rescued-off-libya

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S.Sudan rebels return to capital for peace process

22 December 2015

A group of 15 South Sudanese rebels arrived in capital Juba on Monday, a step towards the implementation of a transitional government of national unity, aimed at ending two years of conflict in the new nation.

The arrival of the team marks the beginning of the implementation of peace, Hassan Ramadan Laku, executive director in the office of Riek Machar, who led the team told reporters at Juba International Airport.

"I want to assure the people of South Sudan that today we start the implementation of the peace agreement," Laku said.

The government is happy with the arrival of the advance team and would expect the remaining members to arrive soon, Paul Akol Kordit, a government spokesman told reporters while receiving the team at the airport.

"Today we were expecting 150 members but we have 15. The reason why the second plane has not arrived is because of technical issues but we shall be in touch for when they will arrive," Kordit said.

Full report at:

http://www.worldbulletin.net/africa/167646/boko-haram-keeps-a-million-children-out-of-school

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UK to increase support to Nigeria against Boko Haram

22 December 2015

The U.K. will increase support to the Nigerian armed forces in the fight against Boko Haram, the Ministry of Defense announced Monday.

After U.K. Defense Secretary Michael Fallon visited Nigeria on Monday to meet President Muhammadu Buhari, the Ministry of Defense said it would nearly double the number of British personnel deployed in training tasks in Nigeria in 2016.

"Boko Haram is a brutal organisation that has murdered and kidnapped innocent civilians," said Fallon. "We stand united with Nigeria in its efforts to defeat them. Stepping up our training efforts will help support the Armed Forces of Nigeria (AFN) for crucial counter-insurgency operations."

Up to 300 British personnel are expected to provide training and support in 2016. Moreover, assistance in countering improvised explosive devices, as well as medical training and advice will be provided.

Full report at:

http://www.worldbulletin.net/africa/167642/uk-to-increase-support-to-nigeria-against-boko-haram

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24 Libyan municipalities sign up to unity deal

22 December 2015

The leaders of 24 Libyan municipalities on Monday signed the U.N.-sponsored agreement on the formation of a national unity government, in a move welcomed by U.N. envoy Martin Kobler.

“I’m very happy there are 24 signatures of the Libyan political agreement by mayors. This is a good sign,” Kobler told reporters after a meeting at Gammarth in Tunisia.

Lawmakers from Libya’s two rival parliaments, as well as other political figures, last Thursday in Morocco signed a deal on a unity government despite opposition on both sides.

The signing went ahead despite a warning from the heads of the parliaments that the deal has no legitimacy and the politicians signing the agreement represented only themselves.

The heads of the two bodies instead back an alternative inter-Libyan accord signed early this month in Tunis.

On Thursday, Kobler acknowledged that much remained to be done to end the turmoil in Libya that has allowed jihadists and people-smugglers to flourish since the fall of dictator Muammar Qaddafi in 2011.

He called the signing ceremony “just the beginning of a long journey for Libya.”

“It’s very important that municipalities become part of the Libyan political agreement which was signed in Skhirat three days ago,” Kobler said on Monday, emphasizing the provision of basic services.

Municipal signatories included the cities of Sabratha near Tripoli, Zintan to the west, Al-Baida in the northeast but also Misrata, an AFP journalist said.

The core of Fajr Libya, a coalition of Islamist militias that backs the non-recognized parliament in Tripoli, is in Misrata some 200 kilometers (120 miles) east of the capital.

“People need clean water and need electricity and a strong government can deliver this,” Kobler said.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/africa/2015/12/22/24-Libyan-municipalities-sign-up-to-unity-govt-deal-.html

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Tunisia's Sidi Bouzid: Five years after revolution, people still suffering

21 Dec 2015

Karem Yehia

With the celebration of the fifth anniversary of the start of the Tunisian revolution, the situation in Sidi Bouzid, hometown to the revolution and the Arab Spring, appears to be deteriorating.

Tunisian Nobel laureates joined Thursday townspeople in the country's beleaguered heartland where street vendor Mohamed Bouazizi set himself on fire in 2011 and sparked the Tunisian revolution that overthrew president Zine El-Abidine Ben Ali, AP reported. Mourad Mahjoubi, governor of Sidi Bouzid, which is home to 60,000 Tunisians, said that three troika leaders – the heads of state, parliament and cabinet – were not coming to the celebrations, unlike the Tunisian National Dialogue Quartet, which was awarded the 2015 Nobel Peace Prize two weeks ago.

The National Dialogue Quartet is made up of four Tunisian civil society groups; the UGTT, the Tunisian Employer's Union, the Tunisian Human Rights League and the Tunisian Order of Lawyers.

Troika leaders has stopped coming to Sidi Bouzid since 2012 when the frustrated residents threw stones at them. The Troika is an unofficial name for the alliance between the three parties (Ennahda, Ettakatol and CPR) that ruled in Tunisia after the 2011 Constituent Assembly election.

Worsening conditions

Sidi Bouzid's economy is worsening along with its infrastructure.

There have been no local or foreign investments in the city after the revolution, the governor of Sidi Bouzid said.

"Not even one project," Mahjoubi emphasised. He attributed this to the city's weak infrastructure, especially highways to connect it to the capital Tunis, as well as the weakness of the road network within the state which connects the agricultural and livestock production sites in urban centres.

Additionally, Sidi Bouzid has not witnessed any development projects since the revolution in 2011. Even livestock, which Sidi Bouzid was known for, is deteriorating as there is only one factory, which cannot absorb all production.

Mubaraka Owainah, the elected MP for Sidi Bouzid, told Aharm Online that this leads to the production of excess diary, wasting resources.

Furthermore, Sidi Bouzid remains with no cinemas, theatres, performing groups or theme parks.

There are two obvious phenomena; an increase in coffee shops, which many consider a reflection of youth unemployment, and tall buildings that exceed five floors.

Even drug dealing has increased, Khaled Owainah, a Tunisian lawyer and Sidi Bouzid resident, told Ahram Online. He said that he noted a surge in drug abuse among young people in an unprecedented manner.

According to Mahjoubi, official figures indicate that there around 7,900 unemployed people in the city, putting its unemployment rate at 17.7 percent. This is higher than the unemployment rate in Tunisia as whole, which is 14 percent.

Meanwhile, the president of the Tunisian League for Human Rights branch in Sidi Bouzid, Bouderbala Al-Nasiri, estimates that the number is higher.

He says the unemployment rate in the governorate is about 21 percent, five percent more than the national average.

Full report at:

http://english.ahram.org.eg/NewsContent/2/8/174054/World/Region/Tunisias-Sidi-Bouzid-Five-years-after-revolution,-.aspx

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Two killed in extremist attack on cars in Kenya’s north: official

Dec 22, 2015

Muslims in a bus in northern Kenyan helped dress non-Muslims passengers in Islamic garb, to prevent Islamic extremists from identifying them for slaughter, witnesses said Monday.

Two people died in the attacks in northern Mandera County when gunmen believed to be Somalia’s al-Shabab rebels shot at a bus and truck headed for Mandera town, North Eastern Regional Coordinator Mohamud Saleh said.

The bus was from travelling from the capital city, Nairobi, with 60 passengers when it was stopped at Papa City by a group of Islamic militants who shot the windscreen, witnesses said.

Abdrirahman Hussien, a 28-year-old teacher, said some of the Muslim passengers gave non-Muslims head scarfs to try and conceal their identities when the bus stopped, probably remembering a previous attack in the same region last year when al-Shabab gunmen killed 28 non-Muslims from a bus.

An extremist entered the bus and ordered everyone to get out and form two separate groups of non-Muslims and Muslims, said Hussein. One person, a non-Muslim decided to run and was shot in the back and died, he said. He said several non-Muslims managed to group with the Muslims.

Full report at:

http://indianexpress.com/article/world/world-news/extremists-attack-cars-killing-2-in-kenyas-north-official/

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Muslims shield Christians in Kenya attack

December 22, 2015

MOMBASA - Somali militants sprayed a Kenyan bus with bullets on Monday, killing two people, but a passenger said he and fellow Muslims defied demands from the attackers to help identify Christians travelling with them.

The attack took place in Mandera, in northeast Kenya. A year ago, al Shabaab gunmen stormed a Nairobi-bound bus in the same area and killed 28 non-Muslim passengers execution-style.

Abdi Mohamud Abdi, a Muslim who was among the passengers in Monday’s incident, told Reuters that more than 10 al Shabaab militants boarded the bus and ordered the Muslim passengers to split away from the Christians, but they refused.

“We even gave some non-Muslims our religious attire to wear in the bus so that they would not be identified easily. We stuck together tightly,” he said. “The militants threatened to shoot us but we still refused and protected our brothers and sisters. Finally they gave up and left but warned that they would be back,” he said.

In previous attacks, al Shabaab has often killed both Muslims and non-Muslims.

Julius Otieno, the deputy county commissioner, confirmed the account, saying that the militants “were trying to identify who were Muslims and who were not,” and that the Muslim passengers had refused to help.

The militants then fled the scene, both men said. Sheikh Abdiasis Abu Musab, al Shabaab’s military spokesman, said the group had fired shots at the bus.

“Some of the Christian enemies died and others were injured,” he told Reuters in a statement. The militants did not immediately respond to a request for comment about the role of Muslim bus passengers during the attack.

The 2014 bus attack shocked Kenya and led to a shake-up of security ministers. Since then, buses carrying passengers from Mandera have been given police escorts, but Kenya Police spokesman Charles Owino said that had not happened in this case because the bus had bypassed a police roadblock.

Full report at:

http://nation.com.pk/international/22-Dec-2015/muslims-shield-christians-in-kenya-attack

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Canada looking at ‘wider’ ISIS threats in Libya, Sinai

22 December 2015

Canada is taking a “wider” look at the danger posed by the Islamic State group in Libya and the Sinai peninsula, its defense minister said Monday during an unannounced visit to Iraq.

“We need to look wider than the current threats that we face in Syria and Iraq,” Harjit Sajjan said during a conference call from Erbil, the capital of Iraq’s autonomous Kurdish region, where he met with Kurdish commanders and Canadian special forces.

“I have to get a good sense of where the evolution of the mission is going and the evolution of the mission is going to be based on where Daesh is going to go,” Sajjan said, using an Arabic acronym for ISIS.

He cited “potential threats in the Sinai” and Libya, where he said a vacuum was created after the toppling of longtime dictator Muammar Qaddafi.

Canada was involved in the multinational force that ousted the dictator in 2011. Since then a political deadlock in Libya has allowed militants and people-smugglers to flourish.

Ottawa has welcomed an agreement among some rival Libyan factions to form a national unity government aimed at stemming chaos in the country.

The deal, however, faces an uncertain future, with some Libyan tribal or regional groups rejecting it in advance.

Canada’s new Liberal government has said it will withdraw its six CF-18 fighter jets from U.S.-led coalition airstrikes in Iraq and Syria, but has not said when.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he wants to swap in more military trainers. Last year, 69 military trainers were deployed to northern Iraq to train Kurdish militia.

But Sajjan said the troop training mission is “being run by other nations currently,” so Canada must wait its turn.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2015/12/22/Canada-looking-at-wider-ISIS-threats-in-Libya-Sinai.html

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Nigerian Shia detainees dying due to lack of medical care: IMN

Dec 22, 2015

Nigerian Shia Muslims wounded in military raids earlier this month are dying in detention due to a lack of medical care, the Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN) says.

Ibrahim Musa, the IMN spokesman, said 40 of the wounded, including its leader Sheikh Ibrahim Zakzaky, risk losing their lives in police and military custody, where they are being denied medical treatment.

Such dire conditions at prisons have claimed the lives of two of the injured detainees so far, Musa said in a statement on Monday.

He also said the Abuja government troops destroyed a school and a shrine belonging to the movement on Monday.

Nigerian forces raided Zakzaky's house on December 13 and arrested him after reportedly killing individuals attempting to protect him, including one of the movement’s senior leaders and its spokesman.

Full report at:

http://www.presstv.ir/Detail/2015/12/22/442756/Nigeria-Shia-Muslims-IMN-Musa-Zakzaky

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Mali declares 10-day state of emergency

22 December 2015

Malian authorities have declared a national 10-day state of emergency starting on Monday night as the security situation across the West African country is deteriorating, the government said late on Monday.

The decision was taken after an extraordinary cabinet meeting in the Malian capital Bamako chaired by President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, according to a statement that was read on the Malian National Television, ORTM on Monday night.

"The state of emergency aims to give authorities the legal means to allow them better identify and combat any project threatening people's safety, and any attempt to disturb the people’s tranquility," the statement said.

A 10-day state of emergency was also declared on Nov/ 21, after a hostage crisis at the Radisson Blu hotel in Bamako left at least 19 people dead including several foreigners. Since then, the Malian authorities have been on alert. Responsibility for the attack was claimed by al-Qaeda terrorists based in the north of the country.

In recent years, Mali has been hit by a number of attacks launched by insurgents operating from its northern desert territory.

Full report at:

http://www.worldbulletin.net/africa/167650/boko-haram-keeps-a-million-children-out-of-school

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South Asia

 

Bangladeshi Islamic leaders slam the Caliphate, "enemy of Muslims"

12/21/2015

Dhaka (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Bangladesh’s Muslim religious leaders (ulema) have decided to counter the threat posed by the Islamic state (IS) group by issuing a fatwa against it and by taking to the pulpit in mosques to preach religious violence.

The strategy was adopted at a meeting of Islamic religious leaders and police in Dhaka. Concerned by the rise in religious violence in recent months, the authorities are in favour of an active role by ulema.

"The fatwa is to be jointly signed off by 100,000 Islamic scholars from across the country,” said Maulana Fariduddin Masoud, chairman of Bangladesh Jamiatul Ulama, or BJU, a national body of Islamic scholars in the country.

“It identifies IS and its local Islamist militant supporters – who are killing people and indulging in terrorist activities in Bangladesh and elsewhere – as not just the 'enemies of Islam' but also 'enemies of the Muslims’.“

BJU has taken the lead role in mobilising clerics and scholars for the fatwa. The group is training tens of thousands of mosque leaders "in an effort to take the campaign against the Islamist militants to the grass-roots level," Masoud said.

"Through their khutbas [sermons], the mosque leaders will explain to the people how IS and other Islamists are resorting to violence and acting against the tenets of the Qur‘an and the Hadith," he added.

Inspector General AKM Shahidul Hoque approved the BJU's plan to counter IS and other groups with the fatwa and the campaign using the mosques.

"Some groups are misinterpreting Islam's teachings and spreading militancy and violence in the country,” Hoque said. “We are hopeful that our clerics will succeed to counter these subversive forces with their special campaign through the Friday sermons at the mosques and other Islamic programmes.”

Full report at:

http://www.asianews.it/news-en/Bangladeshi-Islamic-leaders-slam-the-Caliphate,-enemy-of-Muslims-36213.html

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Taliban treated alongside angry soldiers in Afghan hospital

December 22, 2015

Guillaume DECAMME - The injured Taliban fighter stands shackled, with his face covered by a ski mask and wearing a helmet to block out noise so that, for security reasons, he cannot tell where he is.

The insurgent was wounded while battling the Afghan army and is now flanked by soldiers throughout his medical treatment at the nation’s largest military hospital.

He is cared for alongside the very men whose comrades he once faced in battle, and the troops are furious about the arrangement at Kabul’s Sardar Mohammed Daoud Khan hospital.

“We are treated in the same place, it’s very strange but there is nothing I can do,” says Mohammed, a soldier with a bullet wound to the leg who is just two rooms away from his enemy.

“Senior people make these decisions for us.

It’s appalling,” he added.

The Taliban “have no dignity.

they don’t have enough courage to be soldiers so they destroy our country and kill”.

The policy to treat Taliban fighters who have waged a decade-long insurgency in Afghanistan is a sore point at a time when casualties among security forces are soaring.

More than 4,000 Afghan soldiers and police were killed and over 8,000 wounded in the first half of the year, compared to 5,000 who lost their lives in the whole of 2014, and the loss of life continues.

‘No dignity’

The issue was brought sharply into the spotlight in October, when 30 people were killed in a US air strike on a hospital run by French charity Doctors Without Borders (MSF) in the northern city of Kunduz.

Afghan authorities have long criticised the charity for treating Taliban fighters as well as soldiers inside its walls.

The US military put the bombing down to “human error”, while MSF has branded it a war crime and demanded an independent probe into the strike.

With some 400 beds, the Sardar Mohammed Daoud Khan facility is the jewel in the crown of the Afghan health service and it receives dozens of soldiers every day who have been wounded fighting the Taliban, as well as insurgents.

“Where does it hurt?” one doctor asks the wounded militant, a prisoner at the military jail in Bagram, north of Kabul.

“Here and there,” replies the man, pointing to his chest.

A senior hospital official said he has only been brought “to the hospital for a few hours, the time it takes for a consultation”.

‘I’m a doctor, not a prosecutor’

Kabul has played down the thorny subject, only quietly admitting that Taliban fighters are indeed treated.

“It’s true, but we don’t talk publicly about it,” said a government source on condition of anonymity.

Full report at:

http://nation.com.pk/international/22-Dec-2015/taliban-treated-alongside-angry-soldiers-in-afghan-hospital

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Islamic State radio show seeks new recruits in Afghanistan

December 22, 2015

Rafiq Sherzad - Islamic State militants in eastern Afghanistan have taken to the airwaves to win recruits as they try to build strength and replace the Taliban as the leading force in the Islamist insurgency.

Officials have been increasingly concerned by the broadcasts, which encourage young people to find a sense of direction in the radical movement.

If the broadcasts take hold, officials fear they will feed off a growing sense of hopelessness among many inured to war and struggling to get by in an increasingly tough economic climate.

“Most of our people are jobless and this radio will encourage lots of people to join their ranks,” said Ahmad Ali Hazrat, head of the provincial council in Nangarhar.

“Now Daesh are seven kilometres outside Jalalabad city and if the government doesn’t act soon it will expand its broadcast and recruit even from Kabul,” he said, using the term widely used for Islamic State.

The 90-minute daily Pashto language broadcast, called “Voice of the Caliphate”, consists mainly of interviews, messages and songs about Islamic State.

It can be heard in Nangarhar, the eastern province where Islamic State has established its stronghold.

It controls several districts wrested from the Taliban, who are seeking to re-establish their hard-line Islamist regime after being toppled by US-led military intervention in 2001.

In one programme, an Islamic State member said the broadcasts were to counter the negative public image of the group fostered by reports of extreme violence.

“There are many projects to defame us,” the member, identified as Jan Aqa Shafaq, said.

“Most of our young generation, these ‘lipstick young’ who shave closely and wear the kind of clothing that does not distinguish them from females, create such propaganda.

Islamic State is a relatively new force in Afghanistan and there is some dispute about how strong it is, how many members it commands and how closely it is linked operationally to the movement’s main arm in Iraq and Syria.

Full report at:

http://nation.com.pk/international/22-Dec-2015/islamic-state-radio-show-seeks-new-recruits-in-afghanistan

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Suicide attack on US-Afghan patrol kills six Nato soldiers

Dec 22 2015

KABUL: At least six Nato soldiers were killed when a suicide bomber on a motorbike attacked a joint US-Afghan patrol near Bagram air base in Afghanistan on Monday.

Brig Gen William Shoffner, head of public affairs at Nato's Resolute Support base in the Afghan capital Kabul, said that three foreign troops were also wounded in the attack.

However, in a tweet, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid claimed responsibility and said 19 US soldiers had been killed and a number wounded.

The Nato headquarters in Kabul confirmed there had been a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device attack near Bagram Air Base and said it was under investigation.

Shoffner said the attack happened at around 1.30 pm local time in the vicinity of the base, which is the biggest US military facility in Afghanistan. Nato could not confirm the nationality of the dead, according to policy.

Bagram District Governor Abdul Shukur Qudusi also confirmed the incident and the number of casualties.

Full report at:

http://www.dawn.com/news/1227856/suicide-attack-on-us-afghan-patrol-kills-six-nato-soldiers

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Afghan Air Force expecting to receive 4 light attack aircraft in January

Dec 22 2015

The Afghan Air Force (AAF) is expecting to receive four light attack aircraft from United States in the month of January next year, it has been reported.

This will be first addition of fixed-wing combat aircraft in the Afghan Air Force (AAF) which is expected to expand the limited close-air support for the Afghan forces amid deteriorating security situation.

AAF is expecting to receive another four similar aircraft, A-29 Super Tucanos by the end of 2016 while the fleet will be further expanded to 20 by 2018.

According to a senior US defense official quoted in a report by US-based Army Times newspaper, the arrival of the new aircraft will give Afghanistan a chance to develop its own close-air support capability.

Full report at:

http://www.khaama.com/afghan-air-force-expecting-to-receive-4-light-attack-aircraft-in-january-1485

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Police arrest five suspects accused of firing rockets on Kabul city

Dec 22 2015

Police have arrested five people accused of firing rockets on Kabul city on Monday night.

Ministry of Interior says the suspects were arrested from the jurisdiction of 8th Police District from where the rockets were reportedly fired.

The rockets landed in areas close to the Presidential Palace, some ministries and foreign offices.

One landed in Pashtunistan Watt area where the Presidential Palace, Ministry of Mines and Petroleum, Ministry of Finance and Ministry of Justice are located.

Two others landed in the 2nd and 10th police districts of the city where foreign offices are located.

Full report at:

http://www.khaama.com/police-arrest-five-suspects-accused-of-firing-rockets-on-kabul-city-4411

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Human rights groups urge US to grant asylum to Bangladesh bloggers

Dec 22 2015

WASHINGTON: A coalition of human rights groups on Monday urged the United States to offer emergency sanctuary to secular writers from Bangladeshi writers after a series of bloody attacks by militants.

Five bloggers and a publisher were killed by militants in Bangladesh this year, including an American citizen of Bangladeshi origin. The rights groups, led by the PEN American Center, which advocates freedom of expression, said at least four others had been attacked while dozens more have been publicly threatened.

In a letter to US Secretary of State John Kerry, the eight groups — including Freedom House, Human Rights Watch and Reporters Without Borders — said the writers were in “urgent danger” and should be granted temporary visas.

Karin Deutsch Karlekar, PEN's director of free expression programs, said dozens of Bangladeshi writers were living in hiding and seeking “protections their own government is unwilling or unable to provide.”

In some cases, the writers have been urged by the government to self-censor or leave the country. Some secular bloggers have been arrested on charges of insulting religious sentiments.

“Bloggers and writers in Bangladesh have nowhere left to turn, as they face both death threats by extremist groups and fear of arrest on charges of blasphemy by government officials seeking to appease religious authorities,” she said in a statement.

Suzanne Nossel, executive director of PEN America, said the writers were “terrified,” and should be allowed to enter the US under a system known as humanitarian parole, which grants visas to individuals at risk who would otherwise be inadmissible.

Humanitarian parole is used sparingly to bring a person into the US for a temporary period of time due to a compelling emergency, according to the US Citizenship and Immigrations Services.

“Having championed global efforts to defend Internet freedom and fend off threats to religious liberty, the United States should take the lead to save the lives of these bloggers who face the very real risk of being murdered for the crime of expressing their views online,” Nossel said.

A hit list of secular writers

The five individuals killed between February and October were among those named on “hit lists” published by militant groups that have claimed responsibility for the attacks, the letter said. Other individuals on the lists have contacted the rights organisations or have received death threats by mobile phone or social media, it says.

The first of the five fatalities this year was Bangladeshi-American writer Avijit Roy, a prominent critic of religious extremism, who was attacked in a crowded street in the capital Dhaka on Feb 26 by men wielding machetes as he and his wife were leaving a book fair. His wife survived with serious injuries.

Full report at:

http://www.dawn.com/news/1228054/human-rights-groups-urge-us-to-grant-asylum-to-bangladesh-bloggers

 

URL: http://newageislam.com/islamic-world-news/new-age-islam-news-bureau/random-arrests-of-muslim-youths-leading-to-radicalisation--telangana-police-chief/d/105697

 

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