New Age Islam News Bureau
23 Oct 2013
At least 60 members of the security forces were also wounded in the attacks, the sources said on Tuesday. – File Photo
• Saudi Arabia Warns Of Shift Away From US over Syria, Iran
• Militants kill at least 22 members of security forces in Iraq
• Syria meeting agrees Assad can have no role in future govt
• Citizens using social media to promote Saudi Arabia
• Pro-Morsi protesters attempt to storm police station in Upper Egypt
• Lebanon’s Ibrahim meets Assad over kidnapped bishops
• Foreign rivals use radical Islam to weaken Russia: Putin
• Islam is a shiny code of Russian culture, said Putin
• Saudi U.N. envoy criticizes Israel’s ‘daily violations’ in Palestine
• ‘Those who topple Govts, introduced Suicide Bombing should be punished’: Nawaz
• Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam for renewed push for Afghan peace process
• Petition in Pak court seeks opening of Taliban office
• Pakistan, India DGMOs talk on phone
• Nawaz to give safe passage to Musharraf: PPP leader
• Bugti murder case: ATC reissues arrest warrants
• APC resolution: K-P reiterates delay in talks increasing terrorist attacks
• Malaysia curbs on use of "Allah" hurting moderate Muslim image
• Indonesia hosts OIC meeting on MDGs
• Introduction of Shariah Penal approved in Brunei
• Nigeria Media Wars Spark Religious Tensions
• Libya: Militias, politicians meld in explosive mix
• Bashir meets South Sudan leader over Abyei
• Morocco support US initiative for resumption of peace process in the Middle East
• White House defends legality of drone attacks
• Closing Schools for Muslim Festivals Gaining Momentum
• US, EU see parties on road to talks
• Guantanamo Bay detainees assert right to claim mistreatment
• US lawmakers urge Pakistan PM to release doctor who helped track Osama
• Libyan al-Qaeda suspect returns to New York courtroom
• Maldives crisis fears deepen despite poll announcement
• Afghan trader accused of channelling aid money to insurgency
• Sri Lanka’s MERS alert on KSA-bound flights
• Ice-melting begins in Bangladesh
• A weak al-Qaeda may focus on targets in India: expert
• India-China 'quietly' cooperating on terror
• Ceasefire violations: Politicians urge India to give befitting reply to Pakistan
• Jewish youth leaving Turkey due to political strains
• NATO wants say in Turkey-China missile deal
Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau
Saudi Arabia Warns Of Shift Away From US over Syria, Iran
23 Oct 2013
Upset at President Barack Obama's policies on Iran and Syria, members of Saudi Arabia's ruling family are threatening a rift with the United States that could take the alliance between Washington and the kingdom to its lowest point in years.
Saudi Arabia's intelligence chief is vowing that the kingdom will make a "major shift" in relations with the United States to protest perceived American inaction over Syria's civil war as well as recent US overtures to Iran, a source close to Saudi policy said on Tuesday.
Prince Bandar bin Sultan told European diplomats that the United States had failed to act effectively against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad or in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, was growing closer to Tehran, and had failed to back Saudi support for Bahrain when it crushed an anti-government revolt in 2011, the source said.
"The shift away from the US is a major one," the source said. "Saudi doesn't want to find itself any longer in a situation where it is dependent."
It was not immediately clear whether the reported statements by Prince Bandar, who was the Saudi ambassador to Washington for 22 years, had the full backing of King Abdullah.
The growing breach between the United States and Saudi Arabia was also on display in Washington, where another senior Saudi prince criticized Obama's Middle East policies, accusing him of "dithering" on Syria and Israeli-Palestinian peace.
In unusually blunt public remarks, Prince Turki al-Faisal called Obama's policies in Syria "lamentable" and ridiculed a US-Russian deal to eliminate Assad's chemical weapons. He suggested it was a ruse to let Obama avoid military action in Syria.
"The current charade of international control over Bashar's chemical arsenal would be funny if it were not so blatantly perfidious. And designed not only to give Mr. Obama an opportunity to back down (from military strikes), but also to help Assad to butcher his people," said Prince Turki, a member of the Saudi royal family and former director of Saudi intelligence.
The United States and Saudi Arabia have been allies since the kingdom was declared in 1932, giving Riyadh a powerful military protector and Washington secure oil supplies.
The Saudi criticism came days after the 40th anniversary of the October 1973 Arab oil embargo imposed to punish the West for supporting Israel in the Yom Kippur war.
That was one of the low points in US-Saudi ties, which were also badly shaken by the 11 September, 2001, attacks on the United States most of the 9/11 hijackers were Saudi nationals.
Saudi Arabia gave a clear sign of its displeasure over Obama's foreign policy last week when it rejected a coveted two-year term on the UN Security Council in a display of anger over the failure of the international community to end the war in Syria and act on other Middle East issues.
Prince Turki indicated that Saudi Arabia will not reverse that decision, which he said was a result of the Security Council's failure to stop Assad and implement its own decision on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
"There is nothing whimsical about the decision to forgo membership of the Security Council. It is based on the ineffectual experience of that body," he said in a speech to the Washington-based National Council on US-Arab Relations.
'FRIENDS AND ALLIES'
In London, US Secretary of State John Kerry said he discussed Riyadh's concerns when he met Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal in Paris on Monday.
Kerry said he told the Saudi minister no deal with Iran was better than a bad deal. "I have great confidence that the United States and Saudi Arabia will continue to be the close and important friends and allies that we have been," Kerry told reporters.
State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said Riyadh had not conveyed to the State Department its intention to reduce its cooperation with the United States. She said the issue was also not raised in the meeting between Kerry and the Saudi minister.
"Not to my knowledge has that message been sent to the State Department by the Saudis," Harf told a daily briefing. "We talked about some of the challenging issues that we want to confront together." she said.
Prince Bandar is seen as a foreign policy hawk, especially on Iran. The Sunni Muslim kingdom's rivalry with Shia Iran, an ally of Syria, has amplified sectarian tensions across the Middle East.
A son of the late defence minister and crown prince, Prince Sultan, and a protege of the late King Fahd, he fell from favour with King Abdullah after clashing on foreign policy in 2005.
But he was called in from the cold last year with a mandate to bring down Assad, diplomats in the Gulf say. Over the past year, he has led Saudi efforts to bring arms and other aid to Syrian rebels.
"Prince Bandar told diplomats that he plans to limit interaction with the US," said the source close to Saudi policy.
"This happens after the US failed to take any effective action on Syria and Palestine. Relations with the US have been deteriorating for a while, as Saudi feels that the US is growing closer with Iran and the US also failed to support Saudi during the Bahrain uprising," the source said.
The source declined to provide more details of Bandar's talks with the diplomats, which took place in the past few days.
But he suggested that the planned change in ties between the energy superpower and the United States would have wide-ranging consequences, including on arms purchases and oil sales.
Saudi Arabia, the world's biggest oil exporter, ploughs much of its earnings back into US assets. Most of the Saudi central bank's net foreign assets of $690 billion are thought to be denominated in dollars, much of them in US Treasury bonds.
"All options are on the table now, and for sure there will be some impact," the Saudi source said.
He said there would be no further coordination with the United States over the war in Syria, where the Saudis have armed and financed rebel groups fighting Assad.
The kingdom has informed the United States of its actions in Syria, and diplomats say it has respected US requests not to supply the groups with advanced weaponry that the West fears could fall into the hands of al Qaeda-aligned groups.
Saudi anger boiled over after Washington refrained from military strikes in response to a poison gas attack in Damascus in August when Assad agreed to give up his chemical weapons arsenal.
'A BIG MISTAKE'
Representative Chris Van Hollen, a member of the US House of Representatives' Democratic leadership, told Reuters' Washington Summit on Tuesday that the Saudi moves were intended to pressure Obama to take action in Syria.
"We know their game. They're trying to send a signal that we should all get involved militarily in Syria, and I think that would be a big mistake to get in the middle of the Syrian civil war," Van Hollen said.
"And the Saudis should start by stopping their funding of the al Qaeda-related groups in Syria. In addition to the fact that it's a country that doesn't allow women to drive," said Van Hollen, who is close to Obama on domestic issues in Congress but is less influential on foreign policy.
Saudi Arabia is concerned about signs of a tentative reconciliation between Washington and Tehran, something Riyadh fears may lead to a "grand bargain" on the Iranian nuclear program that would leave Riyadh at a disadvantage.
Prince Turki expressed doubt that Obama would succeed in what he called an "open arms approach" to Iran, which he accused of meddling in Syria, Lebanon, Yemen, Iraq and Bahrain.
"We Saudis observe President Obama's efforts in this regard. The road ahead is arduous," he said. "Whether (Iranian President Hassan) Rouhani will succeed in steering Iran toward sensible policies is already contested in Iran. The forces of darkness in Qom and Tehran are well entrenched."
The UN Security Council has been paralysed over the 31-month-old Syria conflict, with permanent members Russia and China repeatedly blocking measures to condemn Assad.
Saudi Arabia backs Assad's mostly Sunni rebel foes. The Syrian leader, whose Alawite sect is derived from Shi'ite Islam, has support from Iran and the armed Lebanese Shia movement Hezbollah. The Syrian leader denounces the insurgents as al Qaeda-linked groups backed by Sunni-ruled states.
In Bahrain, home of the U.S Fifth Fleet, a simmering pro-democracy revolt by its Shia majority has prompted calls by some in Washington for US ships to be based elsewhere.
Many US economic interests in Saudi Arabia involve government contracts in defence, other security sectors, health care, education, information technology and construction.
Militants kill at least 22 members of security forces in Iraq
RAMADI: Militants killed at least 22 members of the security forces in Iraq on Tuesday, mostly in attacks on police and military checkpoints, with the western Anbar province bearing the brunt of the violence, sources said.
No group immediately claimed responsibility for the suicide and gun attacks, but Sunni Muslim insurgents, including al Qaeda, have regularly targeted security personnel and others working for the Shia-led government.
At least 60 members of the security forces were also wounded in the attacks, the sources said.
In the town of Rutba, 360 km (225 miles) west of Baghdad, a suicide bomber driving a car packed with explosives blew himself up near a police checkpoint killing at least five, while gunmen launched a series of attacks against police checkpoints in the town killing at least four, police sources said.
In the west of Ramadi, gunmen in vehicles attacked police and army checkpoints along the main highway that links Baghdad to Jordan and Syria, killing at least seven, police said, adding that clashes were still continuing.
A suicide bomber driving a tanker truck packed with explosives attacked a police checkpoint in the town of Jurf al-Sakhar, about 60 km (40 miles) south of Baghdad, killing four, police sources said.
In a separate incident in Mosul, a suicide bomber driving a vehicle packed with explosives detonated the car near a military checkpoint in the south of the city, killing at least two, police and medical sources said.
Mosul, capital of the predominantly Sunni province of Nineveh, is a stronghold for Islamist insurgents who have been reinvigorated by the war in Syria and growing resentment of the government that came to power after the US-led invasion in 2003.
The militants have accused the government of marginalising their minority sect since the overthrow of Sunni strongman Saddam Hussain.
Violence in Iraq, which had eased after reaching a peak in 2006-2007, when al Qaeda's Iraqi affiliate was forced underground, is now rising again, with more than 7,000 civilians killed this year, according to monitoring group Iraq Body Count.
The violence continued against civilians on Tuesday. In eastern Mosul, gunmen broke into a house and killed two men in front of the family, then blew up the house, police said.
In Baghdad's Sadr City neighbourhood, police found three handcuffed and blindfolded men shot execution-style in the head. Police said the bodies were taken to the central morgue.
Syria meeting agrees Assad can have no role in future govt
22 October 2013
Arab and Western foreign ministers hold the “London 11″ meeting of the Friends of Syria Core Group at Lancaster House in London on October 22, 2013
The so-called Friends of Syria leaders were meeting with rebel chiefs including the head of the Syrian National Coalition to persuade them to attend a major peace conference in Geneva next month.
Hague told a press conference after the meeting that they had agreed a “number of important steps”, while urging the coalition to commit itself to the Geneva conference.
“First we agreed that we would put our united and collective weight behind the UN-led Geneva 2 process which must lead to establishing by mutual consent a transitional governing body with executive powers,” Hague said.
“By definition mutual consent means it can only be agreed with the consent of the Syrian National Coalition — so Assad would play no role in that future government of Syria.”
He added: “Despite the enormous challenges faced by the Syrian opposition, we urged the National Coalition to commit itself fully to the Geneva 2 process, and lead and form the heart of any opposition delegation.”
Citizens using social media to promote Saudi Arabia
23 October 2013
Several Saudi-led fan pages and social media groups have been promoting the Kingdom in a modern, unorthodox and creative way, gathering support from locals, as well as expatriates of various nationalities.
Among the social media groups is “RiyadhTips,” a fan page launched by Saudi youth.
RiyadhTips provides facts, advice, pictures, videos and other content that describes Saudi Arabia’s capital in a modern and interactive fashion.
“The fan page reminded me of my time in Saudi Arabia as a student,” John, a foreigner who used to be a student in Riyadh, told Arab News.
“Facts posted by page administrators are entertaining and informative and make me nostalgic,” he added.
The group page, powered by Facebook, offers interactive features that encourage users to communicate through comments.
Among the latest posts in RiyadhTips, which gathered positive feedback from Internet users, is the “Keep calm and eat shawarma” picture with 950 likes and 153 shares.
The majority of foreigners who commented on the post expressed eagerness to taste the Kingdom’s trademark snack, while locals began brainstorming for the top shawarma outlet.
Another group garnering a large fan base is “Riyadh mEmEs,” which also shares the same purpose as the former group but focuses more on the fun and positive side of living in the Kingdom. The creator of the page emphasized that it is not meant to offend and is solely meant for entertainment purposes.
The group utilizes pictures and videos to express emotions online called “Internet memes,” which have gone viral over the past few years.
Internet memes refer to “an idea, style or action, which spreads, often as mimicry, from person to person via the online posts, as with imitating the concept.”
Western marketing experts stated that using memes as a form of promoting something, or “memetic marketing,” is efficient and cost-effective since it is mostly free of charge and is widely accepted especially by the current generation.
Pro-Morsi protesters attempt to storm police station in Upper Egypt
23 Oct 2013
Police and military forces have foiled an attempt by Muslim Brotherhood supporters to storm the Deir Al-Barsha police station in south Mallawi, Upper Egypt after they had gathered at the building and opened fire.
One conscript was injured in the incident on Tuesday night, and one assailant was arrested when security forces were deployed in the village, state news agency MENA reported.
Since Mohamed Morsi was ousted by the military in July following mass protests against his rule, militants have stepped up their attacks against security forces. Most attacks have been in North Sinai where the military says it is waging a "war against terror," but several police stations have also come under attack nationwide.
The police station in Kerdasa near Cairo was abandoned in mid-August after it was hit with rocket-propelled grenades and gunfire in the aftermath of the dispersal by security forces of two Islamist sit-ins in Cairo and Giza that left hundreds of dead.
Lebanon’s Ibrahim meets Assad over kidnapped bishops
October 23, 2013
BEIRUT: General Security chief Maj. Gen. Abbas Ibrahim met Wednesday President Bashar Assad in Damascus to discuss the kidnapping of two Christian bishops in Aleppo earlier this year, the National News Agency reported.
Aleppo’s Greek Orthodox Archbishop Paul Yazigi and Syriac Orthodox Archbishop Yohanna Ibrahim were abducted in April by armed men near the Turkish border.
Foreign rivals use radical Islam to weaken Russia: Putin
October 23, 2013
UFA: President Vladimir Putin accused foreign rivals on Tuesday of using radical Islam to weaken the Russian state, a day after a suicide bombing blamed on a Muslim woman.
“Some political forces use Islam, the radical currents within it ... to weaken our state and create conflicts on Russian soil that can be managed from abroad,” Putin told Muslim clerics at a meeting in the Russian city of Ufa.
He was speaking about 1,000 km northeast of Volgograd, where the female suicide bomber Full report at:
Islam is a shiny code of Russian culture, said Putin
22 October 2013
Russian President Vladimir Putin said that Islam was one of the significant components of Russian cultural structure.
Putin met the muftis of the Russian Muslim Board’s 225 annual activities in Ufa and said that Islam was a shiny code of Russian culture, adding that there are many Muslim statesmen, artists, scientists, soldiers and businessmen having a significant role in Russian history.
Putin emphasized that politicization of Islam should be prevented; the state and public should cooperate in this context.
“Today religions all over the world including Islam is tried to be politicized. In this context some challenges come out within the Russian state and Muslim community. These challenges can be overcome through cooperation of the state and the public,” said Putin.
Putin also said that they will not let the friendship and cohesion in Russian society to be broken and denigrated. The Muslim community has a significant role against this threat underlined Putin.
Full report at:
Saudi U.N. envoy criticizes Israel’s ‘daily violations’ in Palestine
23 October 2013
Israel is committing “daily violations” against Palestinians and the United Nations is “incapable” of implementing its decisions on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to the United Nations Abdullah al-Muallami said on Tuesday.
Addressing the United Nations on the latest developments in the Middle East, Muallami also criticized the “Israeli aggression on sacred sites in the Palestinian lands.”
“The Israeli occupation is a major threat to the international peace and security,” the Saudi diplomat added.
He also reiterated the kingdom’s demand for urgent action to resolve the Syrian conflict, saying the regime of President Bashar al-Assad should not be allowed to buy time.
Ambassador Muallami also noted that “the parties helping the Syrian regime kill its people should not be allowed to determine Syria’s future.”
He was referring to recent discussion on whether Iran should take part in the planned Geneva II peace talks.
Full report at:
‘Those who topple Govts, introduced Suicide Bombing should be punished’: Nawaz
WASHINGTON: Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif stressed on Tuesday the need to punish those responsible for toppling elected governments and introducing suicide bombings to the country.
He emphasised this point also in his address to the Pakistani community on Monday evening, asking his audience to single out those who introduced “the culture of suicide bombings, removed judges and toppled elected governments”.
And then he named former military ruler Pervez Musharraf as the man responsible for some of these “crimes”, recalling that he also “fell flat on his face” when the retired general came under pressure after 9/11.
His repeated emphasis on punishing military rulers is seen in Washington as a message to the US administration not to back Mr Musharraf who has been living in house-arrest since returning to Islamabad in March this year.
Mr Sharif said that Mr Musharraf not only toppled his government but also sacked judges.
He said that when he met US Secretary of State John Kerry on Sunday, he did not ask for money, which “surprised the Americans”.
In both the speeches, Mr Sharif recalled that he brought former Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee to Lahore and even got a pledge from him for resolving the Kashmir dispute. And in return, Gen Musharraf toppled his government.
“We have lost a lot of time. Centuries pay for a moment’s mistake,” Mr Sharif said while stressing the need for allowing democracy to flourish.
The prime minister also urged the nations not to blame others for its mistakes. “Instead of blaming others, we should identify those within our ranks who made these mistakes,” he said. The killings in Karachi and Quetta and the suicide bombings, he said, could not be blamed entirely on outside elements.
The prime minister said his government was following an “even-handed” approach in the operation in Karachi and was going after all those responsible for the violence. “Nobody has been spared for his party affiliations,” he said.
“We shouldn’t allow such criminals to go free, they should be punished severely,” he said.
“The new law will come in the next few days and will play a key role in reducing crime.”
The prime minister defended his decision to engage the Taliban in peace talks, saying that “if Full report at:
Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam for renewed push for Afghan peace process
October 23, 2013
ISLAMABAD - Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (JUI-F) Chief Maulana Fazal ur Rahman has said as Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif meets President Obama, there is a dire need for a renewed push to Afghan reconciliation.
He said that the US should acknowledge the efforts of Pakistan in pushing Afghan reconciliation process in the past. He said that the US should not confine itself to ensuring peaceful presidential elections in Afghanistan but instead meaningfully renegade the Afghan Taliban.
In a statement, he said that the JUI is the first political party to call for internal Afghan reconciliation as such all stakeholders in Afghanistan should work for this goal.
He said that when politics surrounding Afghanistan has pivoted towards reconciliation instead of “war on terror”, all stakeholders have to work towards this goal as peace dividend will be reaped by the whole region.
He also urged Nawaz Sharif to send a clear message to the US that Pakistan will bear negative consequences if inter Afghan reconciliation is not pulled off in the run up to 2014 withdrawal of NATO forces.
Full report at:
Petition in Pak court seeks opening of Taliban office
October 23, 2013
A petition has been filed in a Pakistani court requesting it to allow the Taliban open their office in the country in order to hold peace talks with the Nawaz Sharif government.
Advocate Kashif Mahmood Sulemani filed the petition on Tuesday in the Lahore High Court, making ministries of interior defence and finance respondents in the case.
Earlier, Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaaf chairman cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan had asked the federal government to allow Taliban to set up their office in Peshawar so that peace dialogue with them could be facilitated.
He had cited the example of establishing Afghan Taliban’s office in Qatar.
The petitioner says allowing Taliban to set up their office in Pakistan would help start and facilitate the dialogue process.
According to charter of United Nations, no sanctions can be imposed on Pakistan for holding talks with Taliban, he asserts.
Full report at:
Pakistan, India DGMOs talk on phone
NEW DELHI: The military operations chiefs of India and Pakistan held their weekly phone conversation on Tuesday amid reports that their face-to-face meeting, mandated by their prime ministers during their recent talks in New York, could take some more time, Press Trust of India said.
A PTI report accused Pakistan of continued ceasefire violations along the Line of Control and the international border. A separate report quoted Indian Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde as saying that Pakistani cleric Hafiz Saeed was behind the recent upsurge of alleged cross-border infiltration of militants into the Kashmir Valley.
Indian Army officials said the directors general of military operations (DGMOs) picked up the phone after a week’s pause caused by Eid holidays.
They discussed the situation on the LoC and international border among other issues.
PTI said ceasefire violations by Pakistan along the LoC and IB had increased and this year alone as many as 204 such incidents occurred in Jammu and Kashmir.
It said Pakistani troops on Tuesday pounded several Indian posts with mortar shells in Hamirpur and Bhimber Gali sub-sectors of Poonch district.
“Indications are that the (DGMOs) meeting could wait for a few more weeks as infiltrators are making last-ditch efforts to cross over before winter sets in and infiltration routes get snowed up.”
Mr Shinde said on Tuesday that Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) founder Hafiz Saeed could be training terrorists on the other side of the border for infiltration.
He made these remarks while talking to reporters and in his address to BSF personnel in Jammu after reviewing the security situation in Jammu region in the wake of escalation in ceasefire violations along the LoC.
Full report at:
Sharif to meet Obama, to raise drone and Kashmir issues
Oct 23, 2013
WASHINGTON: Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif is all set to meet President Barack Obama at the White House on October 23, where the former intends to raise the issue of drone attacks in Pakistan and seek American assistance on resolving the Kashmir issue, although the US considers it as a bilateral matter between India and its neighbour.
Officials on both sides said the two leaders would chalk out an action plan to not only address their differences, but to also put their relationship on a strong footing.
Obama and Sharif are scheduled to meet for about 90 minutes, which has components of both delegation-level talks and provision of a one-on-one meeting between the two leaders.
Ahead of the meeting, the White House said it will highlight the importance and resilience of the US-Pakistan relationship and provide an opportunity to strengthen cooperation on issues of mutual concern, such as energy, trade and economic development, regional stability, and countering violent extremism.
On October 22, in his interaction with the thinktank community of Washington, Sharif made it clear that he intends to raise the issue of drone attacks and seek American assistance on resolving the Kashmir issues, which the Obama administration has repeatedly said it does not want to get involved into.
"We see this as a very realistic and pragmatic partnership, one that would remain focused on people's interest," an administrative official said.
"I would stress the need for an end to drone attacks," Sharif said in his address to the US Institute of Peace (USIP).
Full report at:
Bugti murder case: ATC reissues arrest warrants
QUETTA: An anti-terrorism court (ATC) in Quetta Tuesday reissued arrest warrants against former prime minister Shaukat Aziz, former Balochistan governor Owais Ahmed Ghani and former District Coordination Officer (DCO) for Dera Bugti Abdul Samad Lasi in a case pertaining to the murder of Baloch nationalist leader Akbar Khan Bugti and ordered authorities to produce the accused persons at its next hearing on Nov 26, DawnNews reported.
Former interior minister Aftab Ahmad Khan Sherpao and former provincial home minister Shoaib Nowsherwani appeared in the court during today's hearing.
Former military ruler General (retd) Pervez Musharraf, the main accused in the case, did not appear before the court. According to his counsel, Musharraf could not be produced in view of security threats to his life.
Earlier on Oct 9, the Supreme Court had granted Musharraf bail in the Bugti murder case after accepting his appeal against rejection of a similar plea by the Balochistan High Court.
Full report at:
APC resolution: K-P reiterates delay in talks increasing terrorist attacks
October 23, 2013
PESHAWAR: The Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) government has once again expressed concerns about delays in negotiations with the Taliban.
In an official handout released on Tuesday, Chief Minister (CM) Pervez Khattak said Taliban continue to point out that there has been no formal offer of talks from the government side and “we (K-P government) are also aware of this delay.”
There have been three all-parties conferences (APC) on terrorism held this year. All conferences passed unanimous resolutions mandating talks with the Taliban. So far, there has been negligible progress on that front.
Khattak added ‘inaction by the federal government to operationalise the APC resolution and move forward with peace talks is allowing those who wish to sabotage dialogue and peace to indulge in increasing acts of terrorism’. He stressed the importance of putting in place a structured dialogue so that talks are not conducted through the media.
The people of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa along with the provincial government have to bear the brunt of the federal government’s vacillation with increasing acts of terrorism taking place and claiming innocent lives, the press release said. “To expose the opponents of peace the APC-mandated dialogue must begin without delay,” the CM said, adding “Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif must do this on an emergency basis to give peace a chance.”
The province has suffered four major terrorist attacks in less than a month, including the assassination of law minister Israrullah Gandapur and suicide attacks at the All Saints Church in Peshawar.
Full report at:
Malaysia curbs on use of "Allah" hurting moderate Muslim image
Oct 23, 2013
Malaysia's self-styled image as a global leader of moderate Islam has been undermined by a court ruling that only Muslims can use the word "Allah" to refer to God, with a growing number of Muslim scholars and commentators condemning the decision.
A Malaysian court ruled last week that the word was "not an integral part of the faith in Christianity", overturning a previous ruling that allowed a Malay-language Roman Catholic newspaper to use the word.
Since then, confusion has reigned over the interpretation of the ruling, with government ministers, lawyers and Muslim authorities giving widely diverging views on its scope. Critics of the decision have said it casts a chill on religious rights in Muslim-majority Malaysia, which has substantial minorities of ethnic Chinese and Indians.
Commentators in some countries that practise Islam more strictly than Malaysia have condemned the ruling, arguing that the word Allah has been used by different faiths for centuries. Christians in Malaysia's eastern states of Sabah and Sarawak have used the word for generations, as have Christians in the Middle East.
Pakistan's Dawn newspaper said in a commentary that the decision was a "sad reflection on how an otherwise modern country, widely seen as a role model for the Muslim world, is succumbing to the current trend of insularity in matters of faith".
Reza Aslan, a prominent American Muslim theologian, called the ruling a political decision and said it had made Malaysia an international laughing stock.
"It's an embarrassment, it's shameful, it's not worthy of a great country like Malaysia," he said this week on radio.
"(The ruling) just casts this negative light on a country which ... is a model for Muslims around the world, and yet this has made it a laughing stock. We are laughing at you."
Reza noted that the word Allah literally means "the God" and thus could not be considered a name.
Full report at:
Indonesia hosts OIC meeting on MDGs
October 23 2013
Muslim countries are drawing up an action plan to accelerate progress on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) during the fourth Islamic Conference of Health Ministers (ICHM) of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), which is being held in Jakarta from Tuesday to Thursday this week.
Health Minister Nafsiah Mboi, who is chairing the three-day conference, said on Tuesday that Indonesia was among 14 countries from a total of 57 member states within the OIC that were behind in achieving their MDGs on reduced child mortality, improved maternal health as well as combating HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases, which are due in 2015.
Data from the 2012 Indonesian Demographic and Health Survey (SDKI), showed that there were 359 maternal deaths per 100,000 love births last year, compared to 228 deaths per 100,000 live births in 2007.
To meet its MDGs, the country’s maternal mortality rate would have to decrease to 102 per 100,000 by 2015.
Full report at:
Introduction of Syariah Penal approved in Brunei
October 23 2013
The phased introduction of Islamic laws, punishing criminal offences such as theft, apostasy and illicit sexual relations, will come into force in six months, the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darrusalam announced.
The monarch officially signed the new legislation, dubbed the Syariah Penal Code, at the launch of the Knowledge Convention (Majlis Ilmu) 2013 yesterday.
“The code is a special guidance from Allah (SWT) to us all. Indeed this guidance is wholly Allah’s (SWT) right to bestow upon us,” he said.
The code outlines the punishment for Hudud crimes, where punishment has been ordained by Al-Quran and the Sunnah (deeds and sayings) of Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him).
Hudud crimes cover areas including theft, illicit sexual relations, making unproven accusations of illicit sex, causing physical hurt, drinking intoxicants, apostasy, and acts contrary to Islamic belief.
“I hope that all citizens and residents our country alike, will stand firmly, shoulder to shoulder in upholding and welcoming the coming into force of this historic legislation,” he said.
“This Act without doubt, is now part of the great history of our nation.”
The Syariah Penal Code lays out specific punishment for Hudud crimes, as prescribed by Al-Quran and Sunnah. For example, the penalty meted out for adultery is death by stoning, but prosecutors must fulfil a high burden of proof, including the testimony of at least four credible witnesses, in order to carry out the punishment.
In a previous news report, the head of the Research and Law Review Division at the Attorney General’s Chambers said a panel will be set up to review each criminal case to determine whether a specific offence has sufficient evidence to proceed to the Syariah court.
“It is highly likely that the majority of cases will end up in civil courts because the evidence does not meet the burden of proof under Hudud laws,” said senior counsel Zuraini Hj Sharbawi. “In civil courts, cases must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt. In Syariah there must be no doubt.”
He added during his address at the Knowledge Convention: “This is our Brunei, a nation of Zikir and Malay Islamic Monarchy. We view others with clear and unhindered vision, without any form of prejudice. In return, we also have the right to expect that others will view Brunei in the same light.”
“The step we are taking, does not in anyway change our policies,” he said.
“As a member of the family of nations, we will continue to work together with our friends wherever they may be, to establish more cordial and harmonious relationships based on mutual respect.”
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Nigeria Media Wars Spark Religious Tensions
22 October 2013
LAGOS – Drums of a new media war have been beating between Nigeria Muslims and Christians after offensive Christian comments about Muslims’ media monopoly have flared the Muslim community who decided to ‘break the silence’.
"Our silence reflected our desire for peace and harmony. But this time we must set the record straight," Mohamed Qasim, the director of publicity at the Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA), told Anadolu Agency on Monday, October 21.
“We have downplayed the utterly insensitive, provocative and dangerous comments of the leadership of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) about Muslims and Islam,” Qasim added.
Nigerian Muslims and Christian representative bodies have been trading accusations over media ‘monopoly’.
In a recent interview, Ayo Oritsejafor, a multimillionaire cleric and president of Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) has alleged that Nigerian Christians are treated as ‘second-class’ citizens, especially at the Information Ministry and the Nigeria Television Authority (NTA).
Dubbed as ‘Muslim Haven’ by CAN, Oritsejafor stated that seven out of NTA's eight directors were Muslims.
“Turn that around and see what will happen. What do you call that? Second class citizens,” said Oritsejafor, who is notorious for his controversial anti-Muslim and pro-government stand.
Refuting these allegations, NSCIA has submitted an index containing the names, designations and years of services of board chairmen and members at the NTA since inauguration.
According to the records submitted by Qasim, about 80% of external board members of the NTA have been Christians, only 20% are Muslims, since 1976 till 2013.
"The position of secretary, a very powerful seat, has exclusively been given to Christians since the beginning of NTA. No Muslim has held that position." Qasim added.
In May 2012, a leading Muslim group has launched Nigeria’s first Muslim radio station in an effort to clear misconceptions about Islam and to orientate the country’s Muslims about their faith.
Enough is enough
The Muslim group has accused CAN of sparking religious tensions in the West African country.
“Why would anyone who claims to be a religious leader want to lead Nigeria into the ugly specter of a religious war through belligerent utterances and false allegations just to gain vainglorious self-assertiveness?” Qasim, the NSCIA spokesman, said.
“Why would a religious leader not reflect before making a public pronouncement?”
NSCIA added that unlike Christian leaders, Muslims have been tolerant with Christians even in the Muslim majority areas.
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Libya: Militias, politicians meld in explosive mix
October 22, 2013
TRIPOLI, Libya (AP) — Libya marks two years since the fall of Moammar Gadhafi on Wednesday, but instead of the freedom and development Libyans had hoped for, the country has fallen deeper into anarchy. Rival Islamist and Western-backed factions are melding with the country's dizzying array of militias, turning political feuds into armed conflict.
Militias that include Islamic extremists are lining up with Islamist politicians in parliament, who have been trying to remove Western-backed Prime Minister Ali Zidan and bring stricter Islamic rule. Other armed groups support Zidan's non-Islamist allies. The result is a fractured system where political rivalries have the potential to erupt into civil war.
In recent months, the militia chaos has only escalated.
Zidan was briefly kidnapped by militiamen this month. Over the summer, eastern militias seized control of oil exporting terminals, sending production plunging from 1.4 million barrels a day to around 600,000, robbing the country of its main revenue source. Other militias in the south cut off water supplies to the capital for days.
Zidan's office manager, the defense minister's son and several judges have been kidnapped. Activists and clerics who speak out against militias have been gunned down, as have at least 100 security or military officers.
At the same time, al-Qaida-inspired militias are spreading. The group Ansar al-Shariah, which is believed to be behind last year's attack on a U.S. diplomatic post in Benghazi that killed the ambassador and three other Americans, is increasing its strength not only in Benghazi, but in cities further west like Sirte and Ajdabiya.
"We are not a state by the normal definition of the word," Zidan acknowledged to reporters in Tripoli on Sunday. "The government is rowing against the current, and this is very hard."
Since Gadhafi's fall, hundreds of militias have run rampant. They originated in the rebel bands that fought against the longtime dictator in the 8-month war that toppled him. Originally locally based, drawing their loyalties from a particular city, neighborhood or tribe, they have since mushroomed in size.
Too weak to disarm the militias, the military, police and government have tried to co-opt them, paying them to play security roles like guarding districts, facilities, even polling stations during elections. But the policy has backfired, empowering the militias without controlling them.
"This is a disaster," said Husni Bey, a prominent businessman. Investors are fleeing the country, he said, blaming the government for "stuffing the mouths of militias."
The tight interweaving of militias and politics has escalated since Libya held its first post-Gadhafi elections just over a year ago. A non-Islamist bloc won a plurality in parliament, a defeat for hard-liners who have ridden elections to power in other Arab countries since the Arab Spring revolts of 2011.
Since the election, the democratic transition has gone nowhere. Efforts by parliament to create a body to draw up a new constitution have foundered. The non-Islamist bloc in parliament has fragmented and Islamist lawmakers have grown more aggressive in trying to unseat Zidan — even as both sides collect militia allies.
"In Libya now, there is an armed wing for each politician," said Abdel-Hakim al-Balazi, spokesman for the Anti-Crime Department, a militia umbrella group that includes Islamic radicals. Al-Balazi himself has been accused by Zidan of involvement in his abduction and was placed at one point under house arrest.
"I am afraid that if there is no wisdom, the war will be unstoppable," al-Balazi said.
Nothing illustrates the mingling of militias and politics better than Zidan's Oct. 10 abduction, following a U.S. special forces raid that snatched an al-Qaida suspect from Tripoli, enflaming divisions between Islamists and Zidan, who was accused of allowing the operation.
Dozens of gunmen swarmed into the Tripoli hotel where Zidan lives and dragged him off to a detention facility for seven hours until he was rescued by other militias. Zidan has depicted the abduction as the work of his Islamist opponents in parliament, accusing two ultraconservative lawmakers of plotting it. The two denied any role.
The group implicated in the abduction is the Libya Revolutionaries Operations Room, a collection of militias headed by hard-line Islamist commanders — and tied closely to Islamists in parliament. It was created by parliament president Nouri Abu Sahmein, an ultraconservative, and given the official task of keeping security in Tripoli.
A day before Zidan's abduction, a leader was appointed for the Operations Room — Shabaan Massoud Hadiya, a jihadi preacher who lived in Yemen for years until returning home in 2011 to join the fight against Gadhafi.
The drama illustrates the dangerous geographical dimension of Libya's factionalism.
The militias of Benghazi, Misrata and Zawiya, Libya's second-, third- and fifth-largest cities, back the Islamist parliament bloc. Hadiya and many members of the Operations Room hail from Zawiya.
They are counterbalanced by powerful local militias backing Zidan's camp. The most prominent are the al-Qaqaa and Saaqa militias, with commanders from the western mountain region of Zintan; others hail from neighborhoods of Tripoli.
The Saaqa and Tripoli militias converged on the building where Zidan was being held, forcing his release. Other militiamen were on standby, ready to drive to the capital to fight for his release if need be, said Hashim Bishr, commander of the Supreme Security Committee, another umbrella group of militias.
Zidan's quick release shows the rival lineups of militias have kept a balance of terror that has prevented the political situation from exploding.
Wary of sparking an outright confrontation, Zidan has blamed members of the Operations Room and the Anti-Crime Department for abducting him but has underlined that parliament president Abu Sahmein — the Operations Room's top commander — was not involved.
There are signs of an emerging coalition against Zidan made up of Islamist militia commanders, former jihadi fighters and politicians.
In parliament, the main anti-Zidan force is a grouping of Islamist lawmakers known as the "Loyalty to the Martyrs" bloc that includes Abu Sahmein, as well as Abdel-Wahhab al-Qaid, the brother of senior al-Qaida figure Abu-Yahia al-Libi, who was killed in a U.S. drone strike in Pakistan in 2012. The two lawmakers Zidan accused of plotting his kidnapping also belong to it.
The bloc works closely with lawmakers from the Muslim Brotherhood, together making up about half of the 200-member parliament. So far, that is not enough to vote out Zidan. Days before Zidan's abduction, lawmakers tried but failed to pass a no-confidence motion against him.
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Bashir meets South Sudan leader over Abyei
22 Oct 2013
The leaders of Sudan and South Sudan have met amid pressure to strike a deal on the disputed Abyei region and other issues left unresolved since South Sudan won independence.
Omar Bashir and Salva Kiir met on Tuesday in Juba, the capital of South Sudan, which seceded from the north in 2011 after a referendum and a peace agreement that followed a two-decade civil war between the two sides.
Bashir, an indicted war crimes suspect wanted by the International Criminal Court, was welcomed at the airport in Juba by Kiir, with the former arch-enemies first shaking hands and then embracing warmly.
Bashir said the meeting was "fruitful", adding that both leaders will "make sure all the outstanding issues are implemented".
"We are ready to go the extra mile to make peace with Sudan," Kiir said.
Barnaba Marial Benjamin, the South Sudan foreign minister, said the meeting was about "building relationships between our countries and to strengthen our ties".
The African Union has urged the leaders to "seize the opportunity" towards settling the dispute over war-ravaged Abyei, wedged between the two countries and claimed by both sides.
Abyei was meant to vote on whether to be part of Sudan or South Sudan in January 2011 - the same day as Juba voted overwhelmingly to split from the north - as part of the 2005 peace deal which ended Sudan's civil war.
But a referendum to decide the region's fate has been repeatedly stalled, with residents now saying they will organise their own vote to determine their fate.
The United Nations and AU have warned that any such unilateral move could inflame tensions in the oil-producing zone and risk destabilising the uneasy peace between the longtime foes.
"Abyei is one of the top items on the table," Benjamin said, adding that other issues included opening up border posts to allow traders and residents to cross the new frontier that splits the formerly united nation.
Sudan's Foreign Minister Ali Ahmed Karti, in a statement on state news agency SUNA, said the talks would "stave off the fear" that the dispute over Abyei would endanger the "improving relations between the two countries".
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Morocco support US initiative for resumption of peace process in the Middle East
22 October 2013
Bouaida stressed the US “firm commitment” for the success of the negotiations process, noting that Morocco considers that “the US part in these negotiations might be very useful”.
The official who participated on Monday evening in Paris in the ministerial meeting of the Arab peace initiative follow-up committee, held in the presence of US secretary of state, John Kerry, said the meeting was an opportunity to assess progress made in the peace process and exchange viewpoints between Kerry and Arab ministers.
The official added that the Morocco also backs efforts by Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas to resume negotiations, despite Israeli breaches and provocative acts.
Knowing that King Mohammed VI chairs Al Quds committee, an offshoot of the Organization of Islamic cooperation (OIC/based in Jeddah), Morocco, denounces all abuses meant to hamper negotiations.
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White House defends legality of drone attacks
22 Oct 2013
The United States has denied its drone strikes in Yemen and Pakistan and elsewhere infringed international law and said it did all it could to avoid civilian casualties.
The comments followed the publication of reports on the US drone war by two human rights groups, and came a day before Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif is expected to bring up concerns about the US counter-terrorism tactic at White House talks.
"We are reviewing these reports carefully," White House spokesman Jay Carney said.
"To the extent these reports claim that the US has acted contrary to international law, we would strongly disagree.
"The administration has repeatedly emphasised the extraordinary care that we take to make sure counter-terrorism actions are in accordance with all applicable law."
Carney also said that by deciding to use drone aircraft against terror suspects, rather than sending in troops or using other weapons, Washington was "choosing the course of action least likely to result in the loss of innocent life."
Earlier Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch unveiled reports detailing civilian casualties in a number of US operations in Pakistan and Yemen.
Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International are jointly calling on the US Congress to fully investigate the cases the two organisations have documented as well as other potentially unlawful strikes, and to disclose any evidence of human rights violations to the public. Those responsible for unlawful killings should be appropriately disciplined or prosecuted.
The groups called on Obama to provide a full legal rationale for targeted killings in Yemen and elsewhere.
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Closing Schools for Muslim Festivals Gaining Momentum
October 23, 2013
Muslims across the U.S. who have been lobbying schools to close down on their holidays of Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha have found an ally in the next mayor of New York City.
Both leading candidates – Republican Joe Lhota and Democrat Bill de Blasio – have expressed support for recognizing the Muslim holidays by closing schools, according to the New York Post.
Lohta told the New York Daily News that with a growing Muslim community in the city, “their religion needs to be respected as all other religions are respected,.”
“Those who are Muslim will be allowed to have that day off to celebrate their holidays,” the Republican candidate said.
De Blasio said a child “who has an exam on a day that right now on one of the Eid holidays, they’re either respecting their religious obligation or they’re doing what their education requires of them.”
“They can’t do both,” he said.
As WND reported, the controversial Council on American-Islamic Relations has lobbied to close down schools for the Muslim holidays, which vary on the calendar from year to year.
In nearby Montgomery County, Md., CAIR is petitioning local school officials to add two Islamic holidays to the school calendar and, if needed, to shorten the winter break to make up for the days off.
“There is no need for any MCPS students to miss classroom instruction time if schools were to close for Eid holidays,” their petition argues. “There is a state law that mandates at least 180 classroom instruction days per year. That won’t change. If schools were to close on Eid holidays the missed days could easily be made up by slightly shortening the lengthy winter or summer breaks.
“Alternatively any of the many pre-existing school closings could be moved to coincide with Eid holidays,” the petition argues.
The Muslims want schools in Maryland to close on Islamic holidays because they observe the Christian holidays of Easter and Christmas, and the Jewish holiday of Rosh Hashanah. The dates of Muslim holidays vary because they are based on the Islamic calendar.
The Muslims argue that the county schools already close on “Christmas, Good Friday, Easter Monday, Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur and Passover.”
The school calendar, however, notes that Yom Kippur is on a Saturday, and Passover is not mentioned.
Nevertheless, Muslims want recognition of Eid al-Fitr, to mark the end of Ramadan, and Eid al-Adha, marking the end of the annual pilgrimage to Mecca.
“Currently the thousands of Muslim MCPS staff and students have to choose between their education and observing their religious practices,” the coalition argues. “This is not a choice that our Christian and Jewish neighbors face on their holidays.”
According to a report in the local Gazette, the sponsor of the move is the Maryland chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations.
The Muslim coalition said other school districts that acknowledge their holidays already include Burlington, Vt.; Cambridge, Mass.; Dearborn, Mich.; Skokie, Ill.; and Paterson and Trenton, N.J.
The chief operating officer of the Maryland district, Larry Bowers, however, pointed out that state law now allows districts to close only for secular purposes, reports Pamela Geller in her Atlas Shrugs blog.
The report noted the system already recognizes both Muslim holidays by declaring them non-testing days and giving Muslim students excused absences.
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US, EU see parties on road to talks
October 23, 2013
The US, the European Union and Australia think the government and opposition parties in Bangladesh can now proceed for a constructive dialogue with their proposed solutions to the country’s current political challenges.
Meanwhile, UN Assistant Secretary General for Political Affairs Oscar Fernandez-Taranco yesterday welcomed BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia’s proposal on polls-time government.
US Ambassador to Bangladesh Dan Mozena yesterday said with the prime minister’s speech on October 18 and the opposition leader’s press event on October 21, the door for dialogue had opened.
“I am hopeful now the situation is in place that a constructive dialogue can begin between the two major parties and way can be found forward for a free, fair and credible election,” he told reporters after the signing of a Bangladesh-US deal on counter terrorism at the home ministry.
William Hanna, ambassador of the EU delegation to Bangladesh, said, “It is good to see both parties seeking to avoid the path of confrontation. Now I think it is the time to engage in dialogue. I really do think this is the time now to engage in dialogue and positive signals have been given.”
Talking to a select group of journalists at Ruposhi Bangla Hotel yesterday, he urged both the parties to engage in constructive dialogue to bridge the gaps between them and to arrive at a politically acceptable way forward.
Hanna observed, “Our line is [that] dialogue is the way forward. So we really hope that it should be done by the main political parties here in Bangladesh. I don’t think you need anyone to intervene. It’s your affair. But it’s terribly important that it should be done. The world is watching Bangladesh. We are concerned. We are expressing the concern today.”
Australian High Commissioner in Dhaka Greg Wilcock in a statement yesterday welcomed the recent remarks by the prime minister and the leader of the opposition proposing solutions to Bangladesh’s political challenges.
“We encourage all sides to seize this opportunity for peaceful, constructive dialogue on a way forward,” he said, adding that Australia greatly values its long-standing, thriving relationship with Bangladesh.
Hanna, however, made it clear that how to proceed depended entirely on all the stakeholders. “It is not up to us to say how that should be done and what the formulation will be. But we have seen it’s encouraging…. We stress on the positive aspects.”
Replying to a question, he said he would not engage in speculation about what was going to happen next. “We have been saying it for a number of years. It is nothing new what we are saying. Dialogue is the way forward. But we want to reiterate it.”
In this context Hanna noted that all member states of the EU recently had discussion in Brussels and that they had looked at the situation in Bangladesh.
“We should focus on that. Really, it is time to engage. If that is done, it can be possible to reach an agreement. But it depends on the goodwill and people should engage in that path, not in the path of confrontation.”
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Guantanamo Bay detainees assert right to claim mistreatment
23 October 2013
Lawyers for Guantanamo Bay detainees accused of the 9/11 attacks said Tuesday their defendants’ rights were violated because they are prevented from open discussion of alleged mistreatment in secret prisons.
Speaking at a hearing in Guantanamo as the five detainees listened, lawyers for the men asked for the death penalty to be eliminated as a possible sentence, in light of alleged torture the inmates had undergone while being held by the United States, before their 2006 transfer to Guantanamo.
Detainees could not file complaints under the U.N. Convention against Torture, their lawyers said, because their treatment in U.S. detention was a classified matter.
“You have the power to dismiss the death penalty or dismiss these charges because of the obstacles we face in this case,” said Walter Ruiz, a lawyer for detainee Mustafa al-Hawsawi.
The U.N. Convention against Torture “gives certain rights” to the accused, Ruiz explained.
But “those rights do not exist, certainly not in front of this commission,” he argued.
The self-proclaimed mastermind of the attacks, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, “was subjected to waterboarding for 183 sessions,” began lawyer Jason Wright, who represents the Pakistani defendants.
But Wright was immediately interrupted by Judge James Pohl, who said certain aspects of the prisoners’ treatment will be dealt with only in closed-door sessions, because they involve classified information.
The order prompted an angry retort from lawyer Cheryl Bormann, who said the defense team was consistently coming up against “a brick wall because of the classification issue.”
“You can’t gag somebody about talking about torture and then want to kill them,” she argued.
The accused face the death penalty if convicted of plotting the attacks on New York and Washington 12 years ago, which left nearly 3,000 people dead.
One after another, the lawyers said a court ruling protecting the secrecy of their detention in secret CIA prisons “violated the Convention against Torture.”
But prosecutor Clay Trivett argued that the case was about “the summary execution of 2,976 people,” not torture.
If the defendants felt they were “mistreated in U.S. custody” they could file a complaint in federal court, he said.
“Mr. Mohammed has a right to complain to the U.S., to Pakistan and any complicit state,” his lawyer argued.
And al-Hawsawi’s lawyer said “Saudi Arabia wants to talk to him. He’s their citizen and the U.S. government won’t allow that to happen.”
The Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment was adopted by the U.N. General Assembly in 1984 and came into force three years later. The United States ratified the convention in 1994.
Arguing that the document “should anyway apply in front of the military commission,” the lawyers asked the judge to allow testimony from international experts, including former UN special rapporteur on torture Manfred Nowak, at the tribunal.
“Some aspects require some knowledge of international law,” said James Connell, lawyer for Full report at:
US lawmakers urge Pakistan PM to release doctor who helped track Osama
Oct 23, 2013
WASHINGTON: A group of top US lawmakers have urged Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to release Pakistani doctor Shakil Afridi, who allegedly helped the US to track down al-Qaida chief Osama bin Laden.
"I specifically pressed the prime minister to release Dr Shakil Afridi and encouraged him to ensure that his nation is in fact a responsible and effective partner in countering terrorism, proliferation and violent extremism in the region," Congressman Ed Royce, chairman of the powerful house foreign affairs committee, said.
Afridi, who was arrested immediately after the May 2, 2011 operation by US commandos that killed Osama, was convicted for treason over alleged ties to militant group Lashkar-e-Islam.
Meanwhile, in Pakistan, the doctor has sought a fresh probe into his conviction in the treason case and a tribunal in federally administered tribal areas will hear arguments from his legal counsel on October 30 to determine whether the case merits fresh probe.
Royce and Congressman Elliot Engel, ranking member of house foreign affairs committee along with 15 members of this powerful congressional committee met Sharif at the Rayburn House building at the US Capitol on October 22.
"The house foreign affairs committee used this visit of the prime minister to engage in a frank and full discussion about a variety of issues critical to US national security," Royce said.
"We discussed promoting regional trade and greater trade with the United States. I also discussed the importance of education reform," the Republican Congressman from California said in a statement after the meeting.
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Libyan al-Qaeda suspect returns to New York courtroom
23 October 2013
Suspected Libyan al-Qaeda leader Abu Anas al-Libi, seized earlier this month in a U.S. raid in Tripoli, was back in a New York courtroom on Tuesday, where his lawyer demanded at least six months to prepare his defense.
The 49-year-old Libi, who is accused in a pair of 1998 U.S. embassy bombings, maintains his innocence.
The 1998 al-Qaeda bombings of U.S. embassies in East Africa killed 244 people and wounded more than 5,000 others.
Throughout the hearing, Libi remained fixed ahead. At times he looked tired and worried, squinting his eyes in concentration, according to Agence France-Presse.
He spoke only once during the hearing, pulling a microphone towards him to say yes in Arabic when asked if he was satisfied with his legal representation.
His lawyer Bernard Kleinman said he would need “at least six months” to go through all the evidence and to consult his client, whom he said he had met for the first time only earlier on Tuesday.
Kleinman also denied claims from Libi’s son Abdullah al-Raghie that he was on hunger strike and reports that he had cirrhosis of the liver.
According to media reports, Libi suffers from hepatitis C, a condition of the liver, but has received treatment and his health is “fine,” Kleinman told reporters.
The prosecution said it had two computer hard drives and 35 DVDs of 275,000 unclassified documents and 10 boxes of classified evidence.
The government requested Tuesday that Libi be tried jointly with two other suspects indicted on the same charges -- Khalid al-Fawwaz and Adel Abdel Bary -- given overlapping evidence and witnesses.
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Maldives crisis fears deepen despite poll announcement
22 Oct 2013
“We have to be assured about security of the server. If someone manipulates a few thousand votes, it can have a big impact in a small country like ours,” he said.
“If the Elections Commission wants to, these issues can be sorted out in a couple of days. But they are arrogant. If the guidelines of the Supreme Court are not honored, we can’t support the election.” Yameen, the half-brother of the Maldives’ long-time leader Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, was a distant second to Nasheed in a first round of voting held across the Indian Ocean archipelago on September 7.
But the Supreme Court annulled that result earlier this month following allegations of irregularities in the voter lists, even though foreign monitors gave the polls their approval.
The court stipulated that all candidates must approve the voter lists, effectively giving Nasheed’s challengers carte blanche to block a future vote which they were sure to lose.
When neither Yameen nor the third candidate refused to endorse the voter roll, police declared last weekend’s vote illegal despite the protests of the Elections Commission.
Nasheed, a former political prisoner, said outgoing President Mohamed Waheed should step down but he doubted authorities would allow a fair election to take place.
“I don’t think there is going to be an election any time soon,” Nasheed told Britain’s The Independent newspaper, from Male.
“They have had the election and they have had the result, and we won. They came to power in a coup and they will not leave.” Nasheed has been attempting a comeback after winning the islands’ first democratic elections in 2008, only to be toppled last year following a police mutiny which he describes as a coup.
Key institutions, such as the police and judiciary, are still run by followers of Gayoom who had ruled with an iron fist for three decades.
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Afghan trader accused of channelling aid money to insurgency
October 23, 2013
KABUL: US inspectors are on the trail of a successful Afghan businessman they believe has channelled millions of dollars in aid to the al Qaeda-linked Haqqani network, one of the deadliest insurgent groups in Afghanistan, but still has donor-funded reconstruction contracts around the country.
The investigation, detailed in a trove of documents obtained by Reuters, comes at a crucial time for Afghanistan and its foreign allies, who have poured billions of dollars into leaving behind a stable, viable state when most NATO-led combat troops pull out next year.
Development aid to Afghanistan - approaching $100 billion after 12 years of war - and the contractors who receive it are being scrutinised by the US Special Inspector General for Afghan Reconstruction (SIGAR), with one case in particular involving businessman Haji Khalil Zadran linked to the Haqqanis.
“It makes absolutely no sense that individuals and entities designated as supporting the insurgency could receive US contracts,” John Sopko, the chief of the US watchdog agency, told Reuters.
“If they get a contract not only do they get US taxpayer money, but they could gain access to US personnel and facilities, putting our troops at risk,” he said.
Zadran rejects the allegations, saying it is simply a case of mistaken identity.
SIGAR believes Zadran’s case is one of dozens that show a sinister side to the story of how endemic corruption, a charge often levelled at President Hamid Karzai’s government, has undermined efforts to stabilise Afghanistan.
Zadran left school to drive trucks and went on to build an empire that has won more than $125 million in donor-funded construction projects.
His fortune should reflect the potential for success in post-war Afghanistan. Instead, the SIGAR investigation paints a picture of how aid has been siphoned off to maintain a web of corruption, violence and failure.
The inability over many years to stop firms believed to be supporting the insurgency from winning multi-million-dollar contracts exposes the lack of control that donors have over cash once it is handed over to the Afghan government.
Those transfers make up an increasing proportion of aid. US federal agencies want more than $10.7 billion for reconstruction programmes in 2014, SIGAR says, and the government has promised at least half will be granted directly to Afghan institutions to spend as they see fit.
Much of the evidence against Zadran is classified, but the cache of documents given to Reuters by US officials on condition of anonymity show that he has close business ties with the Haqqani network’s leader, Sirajuddin Haqqani.
The Haqqanis, Islamist insurgents who operate on both sides of the Afghanistan-Pakistan border, are believed to have introduced suicide bombing into Afghanistan.
The links between Zadran and the insurgency include him teaming up with Saadullah Khan and Brothers Engineering and Construction Company (SKB), believed to be one of Sirajuddin Haqqani’s companies.
Together they won a $15 million contract to help build a road between the towns of Gardez and Khost in Afghanistan’s east for the US Agency for International Development (USAID) in 2011.
“The owners of these companies are facilitators and commanders of the Haqqani Network,” one US government memorandum says.
Zadran says he approached SKB Chief Executive Kamal Naser Khan because they had already worked together on the construction of an airport in Faizabad in northeastern Afghanistan in 2009.
Zadran confirmed the contracts and partnerships, but said that alone did not constitute proof he financed the Haqqanis.
On the contrary, he said, it was fortunate the US auditors had alerted him because it had saved him from becoming involved.
Zadran won the road contract in January 2011 but it was cancelled a month later when vetting uncovered “derogatory information” about sub-contractors, USAID says.
Zadran’s accountant said they had shares in SKB at the time the contract was awarded but had since sold them.
Reuters approached SKB with a request to speak with the chief executive, but calls were not returned.
The Gardez-Khost road project began in 2007 with a price tag of $68.5 million. It remains unfinished, while completed sections are already beginning to crack, and in August, a USAID official put the latest estimate of the bill at $230 million.
U.S officials say some of the profits from such contracts - in Zadran’s case, estimated by SIGAR to be worth $125 million - have been channelled to the Haqqanis. The documents provided to Reuters do not detail how much, but one memorandum puts the figure for SKB alone at $1-2 million a month.
Zadran met Reuters at a prominent warlord’s house in central Kabul and, surrounded by rose gardens, spoke openly over tea about the US allegations. He said the United States has never given him concrete evidence of his support for the Haqqanis, who come from his tribe in eastern Afghanistan.
He said Sirajuddin has a brother whose name is also Haji Khalil Zadran - not uncommon given Afghanistan’s deep tribal complexities - and that U.S. officials had simply confused them.
The Afghanistan Investment Support Agency, however, says Zadran is the only person by that name with a business license.
A US government memorandum dated August 2012 says Zadran has never given them proof to back up his claim of mistaken identity, offering instead only “a blanket denial”.
A leaked diplomatic cable about a meeting US officials had with United Arab Emirates (UAE) security officials in Dubai in December 2009 shows that US officials have been interested in him for some time.
The aim of the meeting was to discuss suspected Taliban-related financial activity in the UAE and secure more help choking off funds flowing to the Taliban and other militant groups in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
“They were familiar with Haji Khalil Zadran, a Kabul-based Haqqani Network financial facilitator who has visited the UAE, but were not able to provide any details on him,” the cable from the US embassy in Abu Dhabi said.
The US military recently refused to blacklist Zadran, despite the efforts by SIGAR and others, saying it had not been given enough evidence and that debarring individuals on the basis of classified information was unfair.
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Sri Lanka’s MERS alert on KSA-bound flights
23 October 2013
The Sri Lankan government is warning passengers heading to Saudi Arabia to take precautions against the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome-Coronavirus (MERS-CoV), which has infected 119 people and caused 51 deaths in the Kingdom.
An official from the Colombo Ministry of Health told Arab News at Katunayake International Airport recently that the advisory was for all Middle East passengers.
The officer distributed brochures on the virus in Sinhalese, Tamil and English languages to all outbound and inbound Middle East passengers.
“We are discouraging people who have chronic problems such as diabetes, kidney, lung and cardiac diseases, from going to the Kingdom. These diseases will increase the risk of becoming victims of the virus,” he said.
“We are also telling outbound passengers to maintain personal hygiene such as washing their hands before food consumption, eating well-cooked food, washing raw vegetables and fruit before consumption, covering their noses while sneezing and avoiding unnecessary contact with farm, domestic and wild animals.”
He said incoming passengers are warned to watch for symptoms of the virus such as high fever, coughing, runny nose, shortness of breath and diarrhea.
A recent study on MERS-CoV conducted by the Ministry of Health showed that it is more complex than previously thought. The study suggested the virus could have come from humans or animals.
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The genome sequencing identified several infection chains of MERS-CoV in humans.
Ice-melting begins in Bangladesh
BNP’s stand-in Secretary General Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir received a phone call from his Awami League counterpart as he began addressing his hurriedly-called press conference Tuesday morning and was heard responding to the minister with dozens of reporters watching and TV stations streaming the historic moment live.
The minister acknowledged the receipt of the BNP letter and thanked him.
Mirza Fakhrul was heard saying now it was AL’s turn to make a move as the opposition has responded to the PM’s call. “We hope you will take it seriously and begin talks,” he was heard telling Ashraful.
The Prime Minister on Friday asked the Opposition to name MPs for inclusion in a polls-time interim cabinet.
“He just told me that he was going to Dinajpur with the Prime Minister and carrying the letter with him,” Alamgir said of his brief conversation with the AL General Secretary.
Roughly half an hour earlier, a team of senior BNP leaders carrying a letter from the BNP spokesperson had gone to Syed Ashraful Islam’s.
Top BNP leaders told bdnews24.com’s Chief Political Correspondent Sumon Mahmud at around 11am Tuesday that Joint Secretary General Barkatullah Bulu was leading the team with a one-page letter from Mirza Fakhrul.
“The letter contains an attachment of the latest BNP proposals (made public on Monday at a press conference by Khaleda Zia) on the polls-time administration,” one standing committee member told Mahmud.
The BNP move came in response to the Prime Minister’s offer in a televised address on Friday to include opposition MPs in an interim government to oversee the elections due within the next three months.
Once the BNP team left for the minister’s home, the acting BNP Secretary General began speaking at the press conference at 11:30am.
Mirza Fakhrul had begun the news conference with his usual jibe at the government.
He condemned how police arrested Sultan Salauddin Tuku, BNP’s Student Affairs Secretary, by ‘attacking a microbus’ on the BNP Chairperson’s motorcade Monday night.
He claimed police’s behaviour just hours after the opposition chief made her polls-time government proposal showed the government did not want a solution to the political bickering.
He urged the authorities to lift the ban on meeting and rallies saying, “We want to hold a peaceful rally in front of our party headquarters at Naya Paltan. Do not jeopardise the rally we scheduled for Oct 25.”
The BNP leader was approached by his personal secretary, bearing a phone, at one point of the live press conference. Mirza Fakhrul in the presence of news cameras and journalists stopped midway.
He took the phone and in an affectionate tone said, “Assalamualaikum brother.”
The conversation between the two lasted for roughly a few minutes.
Fakhrul was heard saying, “Yes, I am all right. How are you doing? Yes, yes. Yes, thank you very much.”
“We hope you take this seriously and start the discussion,” said Fakhrul to Ashraf. “We have reached out. Do come forward as well.”
“Thank you,” he concluded.
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A weak al-Qaeda may focus on targets in India: expert
Oct 23 2013
Washington : With its top leadership killed in recent years thus diminishing its capacity to launch any major strike against the US, a weak al-Qaeda may now focus on insurgency inside Pakistan and striking targets in India, a well-known American counter-terrorism expert has said.
"We should not expect al-Qaeda in Pakistan to give up entirely on transnational attack planning," Stephen Tankel, a well know American authority on Lashkar-e-Taiba and Assistant Professor at the American University, wrote in an article on 'War on the Rocks', an online publication.
"But given its addition of Pakistanis at senior leader levels and its increasingly limited capabilities, we should expect a continued growing focus on the insurgency in Pakistan and possibly on striking foreign targets in India," said Tankel, who is also a non-resident scholar in the South Asia Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.
"Regionally, that has important implications for US counterterrorism practices in South Asia. Globally, it means that AQAP (Al-Qaeda in Arabian Peninsula) is not simply the most lethal arm of al-Qaeda, but also increasingly its center of gravity in terms of leadership and coordination," he said.
"Drone strikes have decimated al-Qaeda in Pakistan, killing more than 30 leaders and high-level operatives since 2008, and leaving only a handful of senior Arabs alive," he said.
"These strikes have also created an incredibly hostile environment for those who have yet to meet a Hellfire missile, and some Arab members have fled for greener pastures. The depletion of al-Qaeda's senior ranks in Pakistan and growing strength of its branch in Yemen (AQAP) may help to explain why Ayman al-Zawahiri recently appointed that group's leader, Nasir al-Wihayshi, as al-Qaeda's general manager for global operations," he wrote.
Tankel said already reliant on an array of Pakistani militant groups for safe haven and survival, al-Qaeda has added locals to its own leadership ranks. Ilyas Kashmiri is among the most infamous.
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India-China 'quietly' cooperating on terror
Oct 23, 2013
BEIJING: China is "quietly and steadily" cooperating with India on terrorism, including threats coming out of, or related to, Pakistan as Beijing also fully appreciates the implications of developments in its neighbourhood.
Official sources said the problem of terrorism sourced or supported by Pakistan is likely to be discussed along with the developing scenario in Afghanistan when Prime Minister Manmohan Singh meets the Chinese leadership.
The Indian view is that even if China is reluctant to name a "friend", its actions are more important if they are aimed at curbing Pakistan's support to terror groups.
The less publicized intelligence cooperation is seen as a significant gain as China is also seen to share Indian and Russian concerns that Afghanistan must not become a haven for terrorism and extremism.
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Ceasefire violations: Politicians urge India to give befitting reply to Pakistan
Oct 23, 2013
Cutting across party lines, leaders of various political outfits on Wednesday urged the Central Government to act tough with Pakistan, as the country lost another soldier in a recent ceasefire violation along the Line of Control in Poonch.
In a show of major aggression, Pakistani troops fired guns and mortars on at least 50 Indian border posts overnight in Kashmir, killing one jawan and injuring six others.
Condemning the attack, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) spokesperson Prakash Javadekar said that such incidents are not acceptable and India should send a strong message to Pakistan.
“Now yesterday, when our Home Minister was there on the international border and the Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister, they (Pakistan) are doing it again, killing our soldiers. Everyday, we are listening one soldier is getting seriously injured, admitted to hospitals or somebody dies. This is unacceptable,” said Javadekar.
“Now, India must take the further course of action which will prohibit Pakistan from doing what they are doing now,” he added.
Janata Dal (United) leader Sabir Ali dubbed Pakistan’s military as ‘notorious’ and blamed them for intentionally poking India at the international border.
“Pakistan has always had a dual governance trend. One is democratic and the other is led by the military. Pakistan’s military is very notorious, their intentions towards India has always been malicious. They believe in poking India. Pakistan has a different way of functioning,” said Ali.
Janata Dal (United) K. C. Tyagi on his part said that there should be no compromise at the border.
“There should be no compromise on the question of security at the border. The Prime Minister should act strong on the issue,” said Tyagi.
Heavy firing went on till late in the night in all the six sectors along the border, particularly in RS Pura and Pargawal.
According to reports, a mortar shell fired by the Pakistan Rangers fell at Chenaz post of 193 BSF in Arnia sector at 11.30 p.m. last night killing a BSF jawan.
On the Line of Control (LoC) also, Pakistan Army resorted to heavy shelling and firing at Balakote, Mankote, Mendhar and Bhimber Gali sectors in Poonch district during the day yesterday.
The unprovoked firing and shelling by Pak Rangers took place barely hours after the visit of Union Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde and Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah to Samba and Hiranagar sectors to review the situation.
Shinde told Border Security Force (BSF) personnel yesterday that the government was firmly behind them.
“We have come here to promise you that we stand by you, the country stands by you,” Shinde told the Indian soldiers as he visited the forward posts in Samba sector of Jammu and Kashmir.
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Jewish youth leaving Turkey due to political strains
The negative atmosphere and deteriorating relationship between Turkey and Israel is putting pressure on the small community of nearly 15,000 Jews in Turkey and prompting young Turkish Jews to emigrate from the country.
Anti-Semitism, triggered by harsh statements from the Turkish government, has led to the migration of hundreds of Jewish youngsters from Turkey to the U.S. or Europe, Nesim Güveniş, deputy chairman the Association of Turkish Jews in Israel, told the Hürriyet Daily News on Oct. 21.
This unease went before the Mavi Marmara incident, and was aggravated by the notorious “one minute” spat between the Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Israeli President Shimon Peres in Davos, according to Güveniş.
Peres ‘a man of peace’
“Is [Israeli President Shimon] Peres a man that could be told ‘one minute’? He is known in the world as a man of peace,” Güveniş said, recalling the Davos debate in which Erdoğan accused Peres of "knowing well how to kill" before storming out of the venue.
Güveniş is one of the 80,000 Turkish Jews in Israel who migrated in 1981. His primary reason for migrating was his two children’s unease in the politically tense Turkey of the late 1970s.
“They didn’t want to go to university where leftists or other groups were putting pressure on them to take sides at school. They went to university in Israel and we also had to move again after a couple of years. The first two years in Israel were difficult, and we had to learn the language. But I don’t regret it,” he said.
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NATO wants say in Turkey-China missile deal
NATO's chief said Tuesday he hoped Turkey would keep in mind the military alliance's views as it mulls a missile defense deal with China.
Anders Fogh Rasmussen said NATO member Turkey could buy equipment from any source after Ankara raised the possibility of accepting a Chinese bid to build its first long-range anti-missile system.
"Our position is very clear. It's a national decision to decide which equipment to purchase," Rasmussen told a press conference at the close of the first day of a two-day NATO defense ministers meeting.
"However, seen from a NATO perspective, it's of utmost importance that the systems nations plan to acquire can work and operate together with similar systems in other Allied nations," he said.
"I feel confident Turkey is aware of this NATO position and... will take that into account before taking the final decision." Turkey's Defense Minister Ismet Yilmaz told the Vatan newspaper earlier this month China had provided the best price.
A Chinese company beat competition from a US partnership of Raytheon and Lockheed Martin, Russia's Rosoboronexport, and the Italian-French consortium Eurosamrs for a deal worth some $4.0 billion.
NATO member Turkey is a key regional ally to the United States and currently has US-built Patriot missile systems deployed on its border to deter incoming attacks from Syria.
Rasmussen said ministers from the 28 member states had discussed missile defense against attacks from outside the Euro-Atlantic area, a reference in the past taken to mean Iran although the secretary general named no country.
The next step in the missile defense system will see a "groundbreaking for the land-based Aegis system" in Romania by the end of October," he said.
Russia has voiced strong opposition to the missile defense plans, fearing they could jeopardise its own security.
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