New Age Islam
Thu Dec 03 2020, 05:50 AM

Islamic World News ( 20 Jul 2017, NewAgeIslam.Com)

Saudi ‘Entities’ Channeling Money to Terrorist Groups: US State Dept.
















Ethiopian City Harar is called a city of peace

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Saudi ‘Entities’ Channeling Money to Terrorist Groups: US State Dept.

My Election Victory A Powerful Message for Terrorists, Says British Muslim MP

Harar - the Ethiopian City Known as 'Africa's Mecca'

PM Modi’s Lecture on Importance of ‘Ilm in Quran’ Going Viral

ISIL Enemies of Humankind, Enemies of Islam: Tahir Ul-Qadri

 

North America

Saudi ‘Entities’ Channeling Money to Terrorist Groups: US State Dept.

US Supreme Court: Grandparents, Grandkids Exempted From Trump Travel Ban

How US is stealthily carrying out the Muslim ban

Trump ends CIA arms support for anti-Assad Syria rebels

Al Qaeda Is Hiding an American Hostage

Welcoming Immigrants Keeps America Great

Making America Hate Again: Anti-Muslim Crimes Rise an Astounding 91 Percent In 2017

We don’t hate Muslims, we condemn terrorists

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Europe

My Election Victory A Powerful Message for Terrorists, Says British Muslim MP

Islamic State's Russian-language Propagandists Show Little Sign of Slowing Down

How a Russian couple looking to join ISIS in Syria ran out of luck in Turkey

Plans to Build A Sprawling 2.7-Hectare Muslim-Only Gated Community With Mosque, Islamic School, Apartments And Childcare Centre Are Rejected

Germany vows economic steps against Turkey as row escalates

Germany indicts five suspects in Islamic State recruitment ring

New US sanctions on Iran 'ridiculous': Russian official

Chechnya becoming major player in rebuilding war-torn Syria

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Africa

UNESCO Recognises Harar - the Ethiopian City Known as 'Africa's Mecca'

Boko Haram is Not about Islam, It is a Political Issue

Nigeria: Boko Haram Leader, 4 Others Surrender

S. Africans stand in solidarity with Al-Aqsa Muslims

“It Takes A Village” To Defeat Nigeria’s Boko Haram

Boko Haram suspects killed, tortured in Cameroon custody

US lifts laptop ban on flights from the Middle East and North Africa

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India

PM Modi’s Lecture on Importance of ‘Ilm in Quran’ Going Viral

Muslim Neighbours Help Hindu Family in West Bengal’s Nadia District Carry Body to Crematorium

Smoke from Mosque Leaves MP Village Tense

Syria Travel Wish, Talk of Plane Hijack Helped NIA Nail IS Suspect

Ahmedabad: 4 Muslims Arrested For ‘Slaughtering’ Cow; Cops Seek Life Term

Pakistan summons Indian envoy over alleged ceasefire violations

Pak targeting kids, villagers near LoC, says DGMO

No information about 39 missing Indians in Mosul: Iraq envoy to India

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Pakistan

ISIL Enemies of Humankind, Enemies of Islam: Tahir Ul-Qadri

Large Swathes Of Ragjal Valley Cleansed Of Terrorists

13 terrorists killed, 6 injured as Operation Khyber-4 gains momentum

Sick minds pursuing anti-leadership, anti-Pakistan campaign: Geelani

ATC summons details of Imran, Qadri assets

British Virgin Islands turn down JIT request

Army wants to mainstream Fata before its merger with KP, says Safron minister

Pakistan rejects US assessment on Taliban, Haqqani network

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Mideast

Israel Limits Muslim Access to Al Aqsa Mosque amid Tensions

50 Injured As Israel Cracks Down On Palestinian Worshippers In Al-Quds

Fighting terrorists not limited to Iran's borders: : IRGC commander

Washington's so-called anti-terror campaign meant to control regional states: Houthi

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Southeast Asia

We Are Bumiputeras, Insists Indian Muslim Umbrella Body

‘Give Islamic Approach a Chance’: PAS

Hadi: As long as Putrajaya is led by Muslims, Malaysia is secure

Sept 7 hearing for Hindraf’s suit on Zakir Naik

Hizbut Tahrir may file lawsuit against disbandment: Police

Indonesia Condemns Tensions in East Jerusalem

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Arab World

Mosul's Christians Face Dilemma after Islamic State

Qatari Emir Amends Laws to Bolster Fight Against Terrorism: Agency

Islamic State families, Mosul displaced live side-by-side in Iraq camp

15 More Civilians Killed in US-Led Coalition Airstrikes in Eastern Raqqa

Iraqi forces liberate southern Mosul village from Daesh grip

ISIL Command Centers Smashed by Syrian Ground, Air Forces in Deir Ezzur

Syria: More Militants Lay Down Arms

Syrian Army Regains Control of 15 Oil, Gas Fields in Raqqa

Egypt says it is ‘shameful’ that Qatar not held accountable at United Nations

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South Asia

Afghanistan Includes ‘Bacha Baazi’ Sexual Abuse of Children in Revised Penal Code

Latest Political Coalitions Mainly Seeking Power Share, Says Hekmatyar

Two Afghan policemen killed as Taliban ambush convoy

Malaysia detains Bangladesh rights activist Adilur Rahman at airport

West Bengal tries to derail Indo-Bangla good relations

Taliban insurgents suffer casualties in US drone strike in Nangarhar

Six rockets land near Sayyaf’s residence in Kabul

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau

URL: http://www.newageislam.com/islamic-world-news/new-age-islam-news-bureau/saudi-‘entities’-channeling-money-to-terrorist-groups--us-state-dept/d/111913

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Saudi ‘Entities’ Channeling Money to Terrorist Groups: US State Dept.

Jul 20, 2017

The United States has praised Qatar's "strong partnership" in the fight against "terrorism,” but accused individuals and "entities" in Saudi Arabia of channeling money out of the country to "terrorist" organizations.

The State Department made the remakes in its annual "Country Reports on Terrorism" released on Wednesday, Al Jazeera reported.

Qatar had "maintained a strong partnership in the fight against terrorism in 2016 and collaborated to foster closer regional and international cooperation on counterterrorism, law enforcement and rule of law activities,” the State Department noted.

The department said Qatar has made "significant progress" in fighting terrorist financing but "terrorist financiers within the country are still able to exploit Qatar's informal financial system.”

Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, and Egypt cut ties with Qatar on June 5 and imposed a land, air and sea blockade on the tiny nation , accusing Doha of supporting terrorism, an allegation rejected by the Qatari government.

President Donald Trump had sided with the Saudi-led bloc, accusing Qatar of funding terrorism. "The nation of Qatar, unfortunately, has historically been a funder of terrorism at a very high level," he said last month.

The comments came shortly after Secretary of State Rex Tillerson had urged Saudi Arabia and its regional allies to ease their blockade of Qatar.

Meanwhile, the State Department said that individuals and "entities" in Saudi Arabia had been providing money to "terrorist" organizations.

But it added Saudi Arabia is making efforts to stop the illegal outflow of funds to terrorists. "Saudi Arabia continued to maintain a strong counterterrorism relationship with the United States.”

Less than a year ago on the campaign trail, Trump vilified the Saudi influence on US foreign policy, openly accused the kingdom of being complicit in the 9/11 terror attacks, and demanded the US be paid for protecting the monarchy.

But Trump selected Saudi Arabia for his first overseas trip. According to observers, this signals that the US president is willing to embrace a country responsible for widespread human rights violations and an escalating humanitarian crisis in Yemen.

The Saudi kingdom has been bombing Yemen for over two years and killing thousands of civilians there.

The US and Saudi Arabia, along with their some regional allies, stand accused of providing weapons and financial backing to various militant groups wreaking havoc in countries like Syria and Iraq.

http://www.presstv.ir/Detail/2017/07/20/529069/Saudi-entities-channeling-money-to-terrorist-organizations-US-State-Dept

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My Election Victory A Powerful Message For Terrorists, Says British Muslim MP

Jul 20 2017

A British Muslim MP, Afzal Khan believes his election following the Manchester bombing sends a "powerful message" to those terrorists and bigots attempting to divide society.

Born in Pakistan and brought up in the UK, Khan won the election on a Labour ticket and praised the people of his home city for responding with solidarity, compassion and the "determination" to defeat those who threaten their way of life.

Suicide bomber Salman Abedi targeted Manchester Arena after a concert by US pop star Ariana Grande, killing 22 people and injuring dozens more.

Khan recalled the events of May 22 while making his maiden speech in the Commons.

He also spoke of his life before entering Parliament and about his police officer.

Addressing the House of Commons, Khan said: "In May, the city I love was the victim of a terrible attack - 22 adults and children were killed and over 100 people injured attending a concert at Manchester Arena".

"It was an act of pure evil. Faced with this tragedy, the people of Manchester responded in the only way they know how - with solidarity, with compassion, and with the determination that those who seek to endanger our way of life will not succeed."

The MP added that the attack in the arena led to an increase in hate crimes and termed the development unfortunate.

"Yet, just a few weeks later, the people of Manchester elected me, a Muslim.

"I cannot think of a more powerful message to the terrorists and bigots that their attempts to divide us will never succeed."

Later in his speech, Khan said his journey to Parliament was "not the typical one".

Khan added that he was born in Pakistan and came to the UK when he was adopted out of poverty as a child.

"Since then, Manchester has been my home for nearly 40 years. I often tell people while I was born in Pakistan, I was made in Manchester.

"I left school with no qualifications and at 16 went straight to work as a labourer in a cotton mill.

"Later, I became a bus driver and then a police officer," the Labour MP said.

https://www.geo.tv/latest/150303-british-muslim-mp

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Harar - the Ethiopian City Known as 'Africa's Mecca'

July 21, 2017

As the Unesco-recognised Ethiopian city of Harar marks its 1,010th anniversary, the BBC's Emmanuel Igunza explores its unique heritage.

Night falls in the ancient city of Harar, and I'm witnessing a breathtaking, if not bizarre, exercise.

A young man skewers chunks of meat onto stick, holds the stick in his mouth, and then proceeds to feed a number of hyenas who emerge from the darkness, their eyes glowing as they step into the light.

The spectacle goes down a treat with the assembled tourists.

"I do this because I like animals," Biniam Ashenafi explains. The 32-year-old is one of several local volunteers who feed the scavengers on a daily basis.

"We don't call them hyenas. We call them young priests. Every new year in the Arabic calendar, we have a porridge feast for them in the four corners of the city.

"If they come and accept our offer, it means we will have a good future. If they refuse, it is a bad omen."

For centuries, people in Harar have lived side by side with hyenas - one of the world's deadliest land predators.

Harar - a long history:

7th Century: Part of Coptic Christian Kingdom of Axum, area adopted Islam

1007: Harar city founded

16th Century: Capital of Harari Kingdom, major centre of regional trade and Islamic learning

Said by some to be Islam's fourth holiest site, after Mecca, Jerusalem and Medina

1887: Becomes part of Ethiopia

2006: Named Unesco World Heritage site

Full Ethiopian timeline

One of Africa's best kept secrets - its history

The city's fortified walls, built between the 13th and 16th Centuries, even have small holes in them to allow the hyenas to enter the city at night.

The daily hyena feeding spectacle is just one example of this city's unique heritage.

"This is one of the world's ancient civilisations," local historian Abdulswamad Idris tells me.

"Some of the mosques you see here were built in the 10th Century."

Early convert to Islam

Harar is a city that goes by many names, from the city of saints to a living museum, while some consider it to be Islam's fourth holiest city after Mecca, Jerusalem and Medina.

It has even been called the city of peace, a name I spot on a huge one huge neon sign as I enter the town.

Thousands of people from across the country, as well as international tourists, have gathered here for the celebrations as Harar Jugol - the official name of the ancient walled city - enters its 1,010th year.

"Where do you want to begin your tour?" asks my eager guide, Dagnachew.

"The mosque definitely," I answer quickly.

"But which one?" he replies laughing. "There are hundreds of them."

Harar's other moniker is the African Mecca, and locals here claim that the area's inhabitants accepted Islam eight years before people in the holy Muslim city of Medina in the Arabian peninsula.

Followers of the Prophet Muhammad are said to have fled persecution in Mecca around 600 AD and found sanctuary in the Kingdom of Axum, a territory covering present-day Ethiopia and Eritrea.

"Harar and the Harlaa people are around 7,000 years old. But the city itself was founded a millennium and a decade ago," says Mr Abdulswamad.

For more than 40 years during the 16th Century, it served as the capital of the Harari Kingdom, before becoming a part of Ethiopia in 1887.

'Sense of family'

Today it is the capital of the Harari People National Regional State - the smallest state in Ethiopia.

In 2006, Harar was listed as a Unesco World Heritage Site to highlight its unique and exceptional architecture, which captures the African and Islamic culture of its habitants.

As I walk down the city's cobbled and famously narrow alleys, I see what draws people to this place. Little has changed through the years.

Turning a corner, I am greeted by the staccato sound of dozens of sewing machines.

"This street is very famous for its cloths," my guide Dagnachew says, pointing to brightly-coloured dresses and shirts on display in small shops.

Another attraction is a museum founded by 19th Century French poet Arthur Rimbaud, who at one time lived and worked as a trader in Harar.

The mostly black and white photographs - some by Rimbaud himself - date as far back as the early 1900s.

Portraits of visitors and the city's leaders dominate the collection, which also includes images of markets and churches.

Among the visitors today are several young people of Ethiopian diaspora backgrounds.

"I don't feel like there's any other place on earth like it," says Sayo Addous, who was born in Harar and now lives in the UK.

"It has a really strong sense of family, which I feel you don't really get much in the 21st Century."

Unesco hails the city as a "rare example of a relatively well-preserved historic town that has retained its traditions, urban fabric, and rich Harari Muslim cultural heritage to the present time".

This is why, as the city marks yet another milestone in its proud and long history, locals believe that it still has much to offer the rest of Africa as a beacon of culture and conservation.

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-40656946

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PM Modi’s Lecture on Importance of ‘Ilm in Quran’ Going Viral

July 20, 2017

New Delhi: A video of Prime Minister Narendra Modi is going viral when he stressed on ‘Ilm’ (Education/knowledge), the focal point of Islam. While addressing a meeting in 2015 he said, “after Allah, the second highest word that appears in the holy Quran is “ilm”. So, we have this information but we forget it.” He was speaking after launching a book titled Education of Muslims — An Islamic Perspective of Knowledge and Education in Indian Context by J.S. Rajput.

Mr Modi further said it is the good fortune of people living in India, that we have the opportunity to follow, understand and learn so many different religions, and strands of thought, at one place.

http://www.siasat.com/news/video-pm-modis-lecture-importance-ilm-quran-going-viral-1213683/

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ISIL enemies of humankind, enemies of Islam: Tahir ul-Qadri

20 July,2017

(Web Desk) – Minhaj ul-Quran International (MQI) founder Dr Tahir ul-Qadri on Thursday stated that Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL) have nothing to do with Islam and that they are enemies of humankind and of Islam.

Talking to Mehdi Hasan of Al-Jazeera, Qadri stated that the only link ISIL have with Islam is that of enmity. “They are distorting Islam. They are exploiting the name of Islam. They are misusing the name of Ummah. They are misusing the name of Islamic caliphate”, he said.

“So when I say they have nothing to do with Islam, they are no more representative of Islam, Quran, Sunna and Ummah. They are enemies of humankind, they are enemies of Islam”.

Qadri said it is in response to Mehdi Hasan’s question about Qadri’s earlier statement in which he had claimed that ISIL had nothing to do with Islam. Hasan asked him that ISIL might not be representative of Islam but it certainly drew its ‘vicious brand of Islam on a distorted, politicised version of Salafi Islam’.

Qadri responded that he would stick with his statement as ISIL was only exploiting the name of Islam.

http://dunyanews.tv/en/Pakistan/397879-ISIL-enemies-of-humankind-enemies-of-Islam-Tahir

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North America

 

US Supreme Court: Grandparents, grandkids exempted from Trump travel ban

20 July 2017

The United States Supreme Court dealt President Donald Trump’s government a fresh setback Wednesday, saying its controversial travel ban cannot be applied to grandparents and other close relatives of people living in the United States – for now.

The court accepted a Hawaii federal judge’s ruling last week that the Trump administration had too narrowly defined what constitutes “close family relationships” to determine exceptions to the ban on travelers from six mainly Muslim countries – Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.

That left in place Judge Derrick Watson’s wider definition, which includes grandparents, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, and cousins of people living in the United States. But in its brief order, the court backed the Trump administration by staying the part of Watson’s ruling that would have expanded exemptions to its 120-day ban on all refugees.

The order said the Supreme Court’s ruling is temporary, pending a federal appeals court’s review of the issues. The Supreme Court itself was partially the source of the dispute, having ruled in late June that the 90-day travel ban, aimed at better screening out potential security risks, can be broadly enforced for travelers from the six countries “who lack any bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States.”

‘Close family’

Days later, the government interpreted that to mean that only “close family” was exempted -- which it defined as the parents, spouses, children, sons- and daughters-in-law, siblings and step- and half-siblings of people in the United States.

Hawaii, one of several states fighting the travel ban since Trump first announced it in January, filed a court motion arguing that grandparents and grandchildren were by all measures also “close family”.

After Watson accepted that argument, the Justice Department appealed the issue to the Supreme Court, asking the court to make its own definition of “bona fide relationship” and “close family.” In its order Wednesday, the high court refused.

Watson had also ordered the administration to exempt from its 120-day refugee ban any refugee who already has a relationship with a US resettlement agency. But the court overruled that, until a regional federal appeals court rules on the government’s appeal.

Hawaii Attorney General Doug Chin welcomed the Supreme Court’s ruling on travelers. “This confirms we were right to say that the Trump Administration over-reached in trying to unilaterally keep families apart from each other,” he said in a statement.

Added Omar Jadwat, director of the Immigrants’ Rights Project at the American Civil Liberties Union activist group: “Given an inch, the Trump Administration has tried to take a mile in implementing the ban. That is cruel, unnecessary, and unlawful,” he said in a statement.

“We look forward to eradicating the entire Muslim ban, which is unconstitutional and repugnant to our most basic values as a country.” The White House and Justice Department had no immediate comment on the ruling.

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2017/07/20/US-Supreme-Court-Grandparents-grandkids-exempted-from-Trump-travel-ban-.html

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How US is stealthily carrying out the Muslim ban

By Farhana Khera and Johnathan J. Smith

July 20, 2017

Lost amid the uproar over the United States administration’s travel restrictions on citizens from Muslim-majority countries and the impending showdown at the Supreme Court are the insidious ways that the government has already begun to impose a Muslim ban.

It’s doing so through deceptively boring means: Increasing administrative hurdles and cementing or even expanding the current travel restrictions that are not under review at the court. The collective impact of these changes will be that a permanent Muslim ban is enshrined into American immigration policy.

Last month, the Supreme Court agreed to hear two cases that challenge the legality of the immigration and refugee executive order. And it buoyed the administration when it put the temporary ban back in place and denied entry to people who lack a “bona fide relationship” with an American citizen or entity. (Astonishingly, the government claims that grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins and the affianced lack such a relationship, but a federal judge in Hawaii has disagreed.)

While these short-term travel restrictions will be at the heart of what the US Supreme Court considers this autumn, they have never been the ultimate objective. Instead, the endgame is the “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States”. And in a quiet, under-the-radar manner, his administration has been hard at work to make that happen.

The State Department has already moved to implement the “extreme vetting” directive by imposing new, onerous visa application requirements. Several weeks ago, the agency invoked emergency review and approval procedures to push through these changes with minimal public comment or scrutiny. They force applicants to submit years’ worth of personal data, including from social media accounts.

Of course, not all visa applicants are subject to this review; it’s only for “populations warranting increased scrutiny”. But everyone knows that term is code for people from predominantly Muslim countries. Even before these requirements were enacted, those people had to endure invasive questioning and prolonged processing times. The administration has simply formalised this as official government policy.

With little fanfare, the administration has also walked back a commitment to speed up the time it takes to get a visa. At the end of last month, President Donald Trump rescinded an Obama-era executive order that had required the State Department to make sure that a vast majority of interviews for nonimmigrant visa applicants happen “within three weeks of receipt of application”.

The White House has cited national security concerns for this change, but the impact, especially when combined with the other “extreme vetting” measures, will result in even longer delays for applicants and greater backlogs.

Those aren’t the only ways the government is stealthily implementing its Muslim ban. The Trump administration has also moved forward with parts of the president’s order that the justices will not review this fall.

For example, the executive order tasks federal agencies, including the departments of state and homeland security, with reviewing visa screening processes, at home and abroad, to see if they’re sufficiently rigorous. That information will be used to figure out whether or not the short-term travel ban should be extended indefinitely and whether countries should be added to or removed from the list of excluded nations. This creates an easy way to target disfavoured countries.

Just last week, the agencies sent the White House a report detailing their initial recommendations. While the agencies have refused to make their findings public, all circumstantial evidence suggests that Muslim-majority countries will bear the brunt of these restrictions.

The Twitterverse and cable news pundits are unlikely to be mobilised by policy changes that come about through these types of bureaucratic processes. Most people are not closely following the intricacies of visa vetting and screening.

That’s a shame because there is already evidence that they are working. The number of visas issued to citizens from Muslim-majority countries has decreased by double digits. Among nearly 50 Muslim-majority countries, nonimmigrant visas declined almost 20 per cent in April, compared with the monthly average from 2016. Visas issued to people from Iran, Syria, Sudan, Somalia, Libya and Yemen, the six countries on the travel ban list, were down 55 per cent. Those figures will continue to get worse if these other provisions are implemented.

Full report at:

http://gulfnews.com/opinion/thinkers/how-us-is-stealthily-carrying-out-the-muslim-ban-1.2061917

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Trump ends CIA arms support for anti-Assad Syria rebels

July 21, 2017

WASHINGTON - The Trump administration has decided to halt the CIA's covert programme to equip and train certain rebel groups fighting the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, two US officials said, a move sought by Assad ally Russia.

The US decision, said one of the officials, is part of an effort by the administration to improve relations with Russia, which along with Iranian-supported groups has largely succeeded in preserving Assad's government in the six-year-civil war.

The CIA programme began in 2013 as part of efforts by the administration of then-President Barack Obama to overthrow Assad, but produced little success, said the officials, both of whom are familiar with the programme and spoke on the condition of anonymity.

The Washington Post was first to report the programme's suspension on Wednesday. White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders declined to comment on the topic at the White House briefing. The CIA also declined to comment.

The decision was made with National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster and CIA Director Mike Pompeo after they consulted with lower ranking officials and before Trump's July 7 meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the G-20 summit in Germany. It was not part of US-Russian negotiations on a ceasefire in southwestern Syria, the two officials said.

One of the officials said the United States was not making a major concession, given Assad's grip on power, although not on all of Syria, "but it's a signal to Putin that the administration wants to improve ties to Russia."

Trump is under intense scrutiny by Congress and a special counsel investigating Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election and whether Trump's campaign had ties to the activity. Russia has denied US intelligence agencies' allegations of Moscow meddling, and Trump has denied collusion between his campaign and Russians.

A downside of the CIA programme, one of the officials said, is that some armed and trained rebels defected to Islamic State and other radical groups, and some members of the previous administration favoured abandoning the programme.

Before assuming office in January, Trump suggested he could end support for Free Syrian Army groups and give priority to the fight against Islamic State.

A separate effort by the US military effort to train, arm and support other Syrian rebel groups with air strikes and other actions will continue, the officials said.

However, aside from air strikes after the Syrian military launched a chemical weapons attack, the Trump administration has not increased military support from the limits set by the Obama administration.

IS falling ‘very fast’:

Trump at Pentagon

The Islamic State group is falling “very fast,” US President Donald Trump said Thursday as he visited the Pentagon for a military strategy meeting.

“We’re doing very well against ISIS. ISIS is falling fast, very fast,” Trump said, using another acronym for IS. Trump’s comments come at the six-month mark of his presidency, for which he campaigned by vowing to quickly defeat IS.

While the strategy to beat the jihadists in Iraq and Syria follows largely that of the Obama administration, Trump has given battlefield commanders more power to call in strikes and make real-time decisions.

IS has suffered a string of setbacks over the past two years, including the loss of their Iraq bastion Mosul earlier this month.

The intense destruction of the city and ongoing operations to retake Raqa in Syria have led critics to say the Trump administration is paying less attention to protecting civilians.

Rebel ambush kills 28 regime fighters near Damascus

At least 28 Syrian government soldiers and pro-regime fighters were killed Wednesday in a rebel ambush in the Eastern Ghouta region near Damascus, a monitor said Thursday.

The fighters came under attack by the Army of Islam rebel group as they attempted to advance in the town of Al-Rihan, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

The Eastern Ghouta region is a major rebel stronghold near the capital, and it has been the frequent target of government military operations.

Observatory director Rami Abdel Rahman said rebels opened fire on the government troops as they entered an area where the opposition fighters had planted mines.

He said the ambush was the deadliest incident for government fighters in Eastern Ghouta since February 2016, when 76 regime troops were killed in Tal Sawane.

Eastern Ghouta is in one of the four proposed "de-escalation zones" designated in an agreement reached by government allies Iran and Russia and rebel backer Turkey in May. But the deal has yet to be fully implemented over disagreements on the monitoring mechanism for the safe zones.

Full report at:

http://nation.com.pk/international/21-Jul-2017/trump-ends-cia-arms-support-for-anti-assad-syria-rebels

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Al Qaeda Is Hiding an American Hostage

PHILIP OBAJI JR.

07.21.17

CALABAR, Nigeria—When Sweden’s foreign minister, Margot Wallström, announced late last month that Johan Gustafsson—who was kidnapped by al Qaeda militants in Mali in 2011—had been released and reunited with his family, rumors went round the West African nation that more foreign hostages would be freed in the coming days.

But that didn’t happen.

Instead, the jihadis holding more than half a dozen Westerners put them in front of cameras and, in effect, on the market, pushing their respective countries to negotiate their release.

The al Qaeda affiliated group known as Nusrat al Islam wal Muslimeen—an organization formed by the merger of terrorist groups in the Sahel and West Africa with the Saharan branch of al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM)—issued a video showing Stephen McGowan of South Africa, Elliot Kenneth Arthur of Australia, Iulian Ghergut of Romania, Beatrice Stockly of Switzerland, Gloria Cecilia Narvaez of Colombia, and Sophie Petronin of France.

These hostages were kidnapped when the several groups were operating separately. Now, the merger in March has brought all the victims under the same terrorist umbrella.

In many cases, we have seen these poor prisoners before. The jihadi groups in the Sahel have often released proof-of-life videos of their Western victims.

But there is one glaring exception.

In October it will be a year since Jeffery Woodke, 56, an American humanitarian worker, was kidnapped from his home in Abalak, Niger, by armed men who killed two guards before driving him across the desert into neighboring Mali. Since the abduction, nothing has yet been said about him by the jihadis.

Woodke, who is from McKinleyville, California, is a longtime aid worker with the Youth With a Mission charity and has been living in Niger since 1992, helping local tribes overcome drought and food shortages. On the website of The Redwood Coast School of Missions, a Christian mission based in the town of Arcata in California, he is listed as an instructor.

The FBI kidnapping notice shows a stocky man with a gray goatee and a winning smile. In Abalak, he spoke the local language, wore a turban and traditional dress, and was very well-liked. The town’s mayor reportedly said after the kidnapping it was “such a devastating shock the whole city cried.”

A U.S. State Department official speaking on background told The Daily Beast the case is being followed closely and there is “enough information to know that he is alive,” but would say nothing more specific than that.

Woodke’s abduction was the first time an American citizen has been kidnapped in Niger, but it isn’t the jihadis’ first try in that highly restive country.

In 2009, Islamist militants from AQIM attempted to abduct U.S. embassy personnel from a hotel in the town of Tahoua about 232 miles north of the country’s capital, Niamey. The plot failed.

Malian investigators have since tracked the kidnappers of Woodke and believe the American missionary is being held by the Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa (MOJWA), another faction linked to al Qaeda.

Tahoua Region, where Abalak is located, is an area where “MOJWA militants have been very active for years,” said Christian Anozie, editor of Event Diary magazine, a West African news publication that operates from Lagos in Nigeria. “Woodke could probably have been driven by land to the deserts of northern Mali, which is where most hostages are taken.”

While we may not be exactly sure about al Qaeda’s silence over Woodke, we can easily guess that the terror group is buying time to understand what to do with the missionary. It probably would have learned from the cases of Luke Somers in Yemen in 2014 and Warren Wenstein on the Afghanistan-Pakistan border in early 2015, where the Obama administration ignored calls for a ransom payment and tried instead to free them using U.S. military forces—with fatal results for both hostages.

Perhaps the group wants to see if President Donald Trump maintains the same policy, which has been questioned bitterly by many families of those who’ve been taken hostage in the past.

Apart from Woodke, who is believed to still be in Mali, five other Americans are being held by the Taliban Haqqani group in Afghanistan. The missionary’s case is particularly worrisome, however, because of the silence.

“Al Qaeda doesn’t always like to rush in negotiating the release of its hostages,” said Anozie, who has followed events in Mali since violence began in the north of the country in 2012. “They consider a lot of things, like the current financial situation and the political climate.”

Kidnapping Americans isn’t always good business for jihadis, because of the strict U.S. policy against paying ransoms or making other kinds of concessions. The terror organization by now should know that even American organizations that Woodke has ties with will be reluctant to raise money to free him for fear of prosecution.

But the U.S., too, should know that things don’t often end well when an American is held by jihadi groups, as we’ve seen in many cases in the past, including those of Somers and Wenstein.

According to a report by New America released in January, American hostages are more than twice as likely to die in captivity, remain captive, or be murdered by their captors as hostages from other Western nations.

Full report at:

http://www.thedailybeast.com/al-qaeda-is-hiding-an-american-hostage

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Welcoming Immigrants Keeps America Great

July 20, 2017

President Donald Trump was elected on his pledge to make America great again. Yet, for all of his rhetoric, he seems to have forgotten the men and women, from every corner of the globe, who have worked so hard to build the great country we see today.

President Trump leads a nation of immigrants, yet part of his plan involves suspending our country’s refugee program and barring immigrants from six predominantly Muslim countries.

It’s a policy that is not only unsafe; it’s unlawful, uninformed, and un-American.

Many of the most shameful periods in our nation’s history were those in which we permitted hatred and fear of the “Other” to shape our public policy. Beginning with slavery—which took a civil war to overcome—to the denial of entry to Jews fleeing Nazism, or the internment of Japanese Americans, today these moments are correctly judged as shameful departures from our core values. Right now, we face one of those moments.

President Trump’s ban is affecting millions; mothers with young children, family members trying to reach their loved ones who are already here, and those desperately fleeing for their lives. These people look to America as a land of hope and opportunity, where they can build new lives away from the violence and persecution they face in their home countries. To turn them away at our doorstep is cruel.

This policy degrades our alliances with countries we rely on in the war against ISIS—most of which are majority Muslim. We cannot ask for their assistance while simultaneously insulting their religion and questioning their reliability. This policy, born out of fear rather than a security strategy, threatens our friendships, fuels terrorist propaganda, and supports the false narrative that the West is waging a war against Islam. It makes us a target for terrorism rather than keeping us safe.

As a member of the House Intelligence Committee, I know better than most the wide array of threats our country faces every day. We cannot ignore them. But forcing an entire population to shoulder the blame is unjust and does nothing but divide us further. This ban is not an effective way to protect Americans. Instead, we should be investing in our intelligence professionals, who can analyze information and develop calculated responses in real-time. Additionally, we can further strengthen our immigrant vetting processes to better weed out any legitimate threats without categorically denying a safe haven for those who need our help the most. We should be focusing on real tools to keep our country safe, relying on facts and analysis instead of uninformed biases.

Full report at:

https://lasentinel.net/welcoming-immigrants-keeps-america-great.html

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Making America Hate Again: Anti-Muslim Crimes Rise an Astounding 91 Percent In 2017

By Tanasia Kenney

July 20, 2017

A new report by the Council on American-Islamic Relations revealed that anti-Muslim hate crimes spiked a staggering 91 percent within the first six months of 2017 compared to the same time frame in 2016.

The report, published Monday, July 17, dubbed 2016 the worst year on record for such anti-Muslim incidents since the civil rights group began documenting them in 2013. However, organization leaders say 2017 is well on its way to surpassing that.

“The presidential election campaign and the Trump administration have tapped into a seam of bigotry and hate that’s resulted in the targeting of American Muslims and other minority groups,” Zainab Arain, a coordinator for CAIR’s Dept. to Monitor and Combat Islamophobia, said in a statement.

“If acts of bias impacting the American Muslim community continue as they have been, 2017 could be one of the worst years ever for such incidents,” he continued.

CAIR’s report found that the number of anti-Muslim bias incidents also rose 24 percent within the first half of this year, compared to last year. The second quarter of 2017, from June 1 to April 30, saw a total of 946 reports of potential bias incidents. Of those recorded incidents, 451 contained an “identifiable element of anti-Muslim bias.”

The report also detailed types of abuse, including harassment and intimidation. Of the 451 recorded incidents, harassment was the most frequent type of abuse reported (72), followed by hate crimes (69). There were 56 instances where a complainant was targeted by the FBI and 55 reported incidents of fear and intimidation. Thirty-seven cases also involved Customs and Border protection.

Among other things, the CAIR report explored the top five locations for bias incidents, factors that trigger such incidents and the victim’s ethnicity/national origin.

Sixty-eight of the 409 incidents where a location was identified occurred at a victim’s home, making it the most likely location for an incident compared to other common places like a mosque or school. Moreover, a victim’s ethnicity/national origin was found to be the most common trigger for bias attacks. People of North African and Middle Eastern descent were the most common victims of incidents.

Mic reported that the latest anti-Muslim hate crime occurred July 10 in Murfreesboro, Tenn., when an Islamic Center there found bacon strips wrapped around its doors. Expletive-laden slurs also were found spray-painted on the building’s walls and basketball court. Authorities are investigating the incident as a hate crime.

Full report at:

http://atlantablackstar.com/2017/07/20/making-america-hate-again-anti-muslim-crimes-rise-an-astounding-91-percent-in-2017/

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We don’t hate Muslims, we condemn terrorists

JULY 20, 2017

Most Canadians understand the difference between peaceful Muslims and the radicalized sub-section of Muslims who join violent jihad.

It’s important to draw this distinction and to point out that most Muslims in Canada are not violent, nor do they support terrorism or condone violence.

In other words, most Muslims in Canada are not like Omar Khadr.

And yet, in the aftermath of Khadr’s big cash payout from the Trudeau government, many activists are trying to blur this important distinction between peaceful, Canada-loving Muslims and violent, anti-Western jihadists.

Some activists on the left claim anti-Muslim bigotry is at the heart of the overwhelming opposition to Trudeau’s decision to apologize and settle with Khadr.

They claim those who oppose Khadr and his multi-million-dollar payout are nothing more than bigots and racists.

Maher Arar went so far as to say on twitter, “Omar Khadr would not have been mistreated (or) demonized if he were not Muslim.”

Not only is this wrong, it’s unhelpful to the debate.

Suggesting Khadr’s detention at Guantanamo stems from the fact he is Muslim ignores every other fact about his case.

Khadr was not some average Canadian teenager who was arrested and mistreated because of his religion.

He was a radicalized Islamist who, under his father’s guidance, joined the violent jihad.

Unlike most Muslims in Canada, Omar Khadr was a member of a terrorist group, al-Qaida.

He fought against Canada and our NATO allies in Afghanistan.

He was convicted of killing an American soldier and wounding another, convicted of war crimes and terrorism, and admitted his guilt.

(He is now appealing his guilty plea and says he only confessed so that he could get out of Guantanamo and serve the rest of his sentence in Canada.)

Khadr was part of a small percentage of Canadian Muslims who pick up arms and kill in the name of their religion.

Far from being persecuted for his faith, Khadr was detained on a battlefield. He ended up in Guantanamo because of his actions, not his religion.

Similarly, 71% of Canadians polled take issue with his cash payout not because of some unwarranted bias, but because of what Khadr did.

When drawing the important distinction between peaceful Muslims and violent jihadists, Khadr falls into the latter category.

To be clear, he says he no longer holds these views.

But he is an example of a Muslim who was radicalized, hated the West and who believed in using violence to reach his political goals.

Khadr was not representative of Muslims in Canada and the Canadian reaction to Khadr’s settlement is not reflective of how Canadians feel about Muslims.

Jihadist

Canadians are perfectly capable of telling the difference between a jihadist and their friendly Muslim neighbour.

Unlike in some other parts of the world, most Muslims in Canada reject the ideology that led Khadr to an al-Qaida compound in Afghanistan.

Full report at:

http://www.winnipegsun.com/2017/07/20/we-dont-hate-muslims-we-condemn-terrorists

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Europe

 

Islamic State's Russian-language Propagandists Show Little Sign of Slowing Down

July 20, 2017

Furat Media, the Russian-language branch of Islamic State's propaganda apparatus, has released three high-quality videos since the start of July. Furat's Twitter and Telegram accounts feature daily updates and multimedia posts, suggesting the group's Russian branch may not be affected as strongly by the decline in propaganda capabilities that IS has reportedly been experiencing.

Aimed at Russian-speaking Muslims, Furat Media serves as IS's main recruitment tool in Russia, Transcaucasia, the North Caucasus, Central Asia and elsewhere.

Suicide bombers and snipers

In a two-part video, Convoy of the Martyrs, Furat Media features men it claims have died in suicide attacks in Iraq and Syria.

One of those featured is a young, bearded man wearing a khaki headscarf and holding an automatic rifle, who speaks in front of the camera in Russian with a heavy Chechen accent. The 10-minute video was released July 6 as Part Two of the Convoy of the Martyrs series.

In the video, which includes footage of IS attacks, the man, identified as Abu Abdul Aziz al-Shishani, praises the establishment of the "caliphate" and curses the United States, along with Muslims who decline or postpone joining IS. He also threatens Russia with a new wave of jihad in the North Caucasus. His last words, addressed to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, praise the IS leader and urge him to never give up, and to remain strong "like we remain strong in the besieged city of Mosul." That last reference indicates the video could have been shot any time during the nine-month battle for Mosul.

The video ends with drone footage of a white vehicle driving on a street in a city and then blowing up, with white smoke rising from the site of the explosion. The caption reads: "Abu Abdul Aziz al-Shishani's act of martyrdom."

A week later, on July 14, Furat Media distributed another video, which included footage of IS training and attacks by IS snipers. An infographic in the video claims a single sniper killed 164 Kurdish fighters and wounded 90 in one month. One of the sniper instructors in the video, identified as Zayad al-Adhri, speaks Russian with a Dagestani accent.

According to the SITE Intelligence Group, parts of the video may have been shot as recently as July 4, and the footage was shot in Syria's Raqqa province.

'Cracks in the Online "Caliphate"'

The latest issue of Perspectives on Terrorism, a magazine published by the Netherlands' Universiteit Leiden, includes an academic study headlined "Cracks in the Online 'Caliphate': How the Islamic State is Losing Ground in the Battle for Cyberspace."

"The Islamic State's cyber jihad fully launched in 2014, is currently undergoing a regression that is demonstrated by the weakening of its quality, coverage and effectiveness," the study states.

Analysts differ over whether the study's findings are true for the Russian-language branch of IS's propaganda machine.

"We have not noticed any notable decline in the quality of the productions," Adam Raisman, an expert with the SITE Intelligence Group, told VOA's Extremism Watch Desk.

"The propaganda from Furat Media has always been sporadic, not quasi-regular like that of official IS media divisions," he said. "Most Furat Media releases focused on individual fighters, and they've continued that in the past month."

But according to Joanna Paraszczuk, a freelance researcher with Britain's IHS Jane's analytical center, there are signs that IS's Russian-language cyber activities have also weakened.

"IS's Russian-speaking contingent in charge of propaganda was based in Mosul, so the loss of territory there disrupted propaganda activity," Paraszczuk told VOA's Extremism Watch Desk.

In recent months, she said, IS's official Russian-language Telegram channel "has declined in output and is mostly just posting Russian translations of Arabic IS news from the Amaq news agency.

"The tone of the propaganda has also shifted, from praising IS as a state with territory to presenting the battle for Mosul as being akin to dramatic battles fought by the early Muslims," Paraszczuk said.

Magomed Tuaev, a special correspondent in Turkey for the Russian news agency Caucasian Knot, believes that propaganda aimed at recruitment is "at this point out of the agenda" for IS's Russian-language branch, partially due to tightened security measures in Turkey, from which "some of these channels had been operating."

Despite IS's decline, the impact of its messages on the younger generation of Russian-speaking Muslims remains significant, Tuaev said, especially in Russia, "due to the government's repressive policies that actually push the youth toward radicalization instead of helping them to understand this dangerous influence."

Added Paraszczuk: "Apart from the reduction in official propaganda, there has been a shift among the unofficial pro-IS channels to call for and actively provide material to support lone-wolf attacks by individuals outside IS-controlled territory, and here has been a growth of Telegram channels which distribute information about how to manufacture homemade explosives."

The man behind IS's Russian-language media

Very little has been reported in the Western media about Abu Jihad, the man who runs IS's Russian-language media, other than occasional mentions of his close ties to IS military commander Abu Umar al-Shishani and the IS spokesman Abu Muhammad al-Adnani, both of whom were killed in U.S.-led coalition airstrikes.

A 34-year-old ethnic Karachai from Russia, Islam Atabiev, aka Abu Jihad, was designated as a terrorist by the U.S. State Department in October 2015.

According to multiple sources, Atabiev received introductory education in Islamic theology from al-Azhar University in Egypt. After returning to his small hometown in the southern Russian republic of Karachai-Cherkessia, he was, according to Russian security, involved in the local radical Islamic underground. Atabiev was arrested and imprisoned for a year on charges of "banditry."

In 2011, Atabiev reportedly left his home for Turkey, then moved to Syria to join IS. In Syria, he reportedly became close to al-Shishani, who tasked Atabiev with creating the Russian-language propaganda unit that later become known as Furat Media.

After al-Shishani's death in 2016, some Russian experts speculated Atabiev would replace him as a commander of the IS's Russian-speaking forces. This was unlikely, however, because of Atabiev's lack of combat experience: He is known for fighting in cyberspace, not on the battlefield.

Russia's security services suspected Atabiev of masterminding several attacks in Russia and elsewhere, including the April 2017 bombing on the St. Petersburg metro.

According to several sources, Atabiev is obsessed with the idea that Russia's FSB security service is plotting to assassinate him using undercover agents. Ironically, non-IS fighters from the North Caucasus, who are in Syria, have accused Atabiev of being a Russian agent on jihadist forums and social media chats.

Atabiev is said to be the man who makes the final decisions for IS's sharia court in cases involving Russian-speaking suspects. A Dagestani woman was reportedly executed on his orders, and her execution was profiled last year in Istok (The Source), the Russian-language IS propaganda magazine that Atabiev was producing until earlier this year.

https://www.voanews.com/a/islamic-state-russian-language-propagandists-little-sign-slowing-down/3953268.html

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How a Russian couple looking to join ISIS in Syria ran out of luck in Turkey

21 July 2017

A Russian couple and two children were detained in Turkey for attempting to cross into Syria to join ISIS. The woman was identified as 24-year-old Svetlana Ukhanova and the man as Yevgeny Kochaari.

According to Russian media reports, Ukhanova was recruited by ISIS while she was in Russia and she filed for divorce from her first husband in 2013 and married an extremist, Kochaari.

She and Kochaari and her children headed to Turkey to join the terrorist group in Syria two weeks ago before the authorities detained them. Ukhanova has two daughters, Lisa who is 6 years old and is from her first husband, and Amina who is 18 months old from her second husband.

She and her husband used forged passports in their attempt to enter Syria and they are now under detention in Turkey. They will be deported to Russia next week or to Azerbaijan which is her second husband’s home.

Turkish intelligence

Russian daily Komsomolskaya Pravda reported that Turkish intelligence communicated with its Russian counterpart to gather information about the recruitment group, which radicalized Ukhanova and other Russians and figure out who is communicating with them from inside Syria.

Another Russian news website Meduza reported that Ukhanova sent her ex-husband a message telling him not to search for her and Lisa. However, he and his parents traveled to Turkey to try and find his daughter.

They found Ukhanova before she and the others crossed into Syria and they informed the Turkish authorities of her plan and she was thus detained.

According to the report, Ukhanova wore the hijab (head veil) and lived a pious life after she married her second husband and converted to Islam.

Her neighbors and former acquaintances said she got rid of the television at home, stopped using the computer for entertainment and closed all her social media accounts. She and her husband and two daughters moved to Turkey in June to later join ISIS in Syria by sneaking there.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/perspective/features/2017/07/21/How-a-Russian-couple-seeking-to-join-ISIS-in-Syria-ran-out-of-luck-in-Turkey.html

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Plans to build a sprawling 2.7-hectare Muslim-only gated community with mosque, Islamic school, apartments and childcare centre are rejected

21 July 2017

A masterplan to build an exclusive Muslim enclave complete with a mosque and apartments has been shut down by Brisbane City Council amidst heavy opposition from the local community.

The Australian International Islamic College lodged plans to add an Islamic mosque, 120 residential apartments, childcare centre, medical centre and retail space to its existing site at Durack, in Brisbane's southern outskirts.

Residents opposed to building a sprawling Muslim-only gated community sprawling across 2.7 hectares of land lodged a petition with the council in May, arguing it was incompatible with the area's multicultural values.

On Thursday afternoon, the council rejected plans for a proposed residential building, aged care and shops on the school ground, the Brisbane Times reported.

Plans for extra classrooms, boarding facilities, a preschool childcare centre and a place of worship for students were all approved, as well as a new medical centre outside the school.

Councillor Julian Simmonds, Chairman of city planning, said most of the opposition had centred on the school expanding its non-education related activities.

'Council has heard this feedback and this approval specifically prevents the college from expanding into an exclusive gated community,' Cr Simmonds said.

'Under state planning laws, council is required to assess all development applications without discrimination on the basis of race, religion, politics or personality.

'Several new classrooms have been approved for the college and a preschool childcare centre.'

Cr Simmonds defended the decision to build a two-storey mosque covering 1,970 square metres for the Islamic school, saying it was 'common practice'.

Speaking in May, Labor councillor Steve Griffiths said he was opposed to the development proposal for 724 Blunder Road, however he stressed this was on planning and not religious grounds.

'The impact on other local residents' amenity appears well beyond that expected of its use as community facilities - educational purposes,' he said in a submission obtained by Quest Newspapers.

The existing site is already home to the college, which caters for students from kindergarten to year 12.

Full report at:

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4716620/Brisbane-Council-rejects-Muslim-gated-community-plans.html

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Germany vows economic steps against Turkey as row escalates

July 21, 2017

BERLIN - Germany on Thursday vowed stinging measures hitting tourism and investment in Turkey and a full “overhaul” of their troubled relations, signalling its patience had snapped after Ankara’s arrests of human rights activists.

The government stepped up its travel advisory for the NATO ally as Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel warned it could no longer guarantee its citizens’ safety in the face of “arbitrary” mass arrests, a step set to hit a sector crucial to Turkey’s ailing economy.

A day after his ministry summoned Turkey’s ambassador, Gabriel interrupted his holiday and returned to Berlin to deliver his unusually strong comments towards President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Relations between Turkey and Germany, home to three million ethnic Turks, have been badly strained, particularly since the failed coup a year ago against Erdogan.

Gabriel said Germany would review state guarantees for foreign investment in Turkey and urge businesses not to put their money there, and also reconsider its support for billions in EU financial flows earmarked over coming years for the long-time aspirant to membership of the bloc.

A Social Democrat, Gabriel made clear he was speaking for the coalition government led by conservative Chancellor Angela Merkel, and her spokesman soon tweeted that the steps were indeed “necessary and indispensable”.

Gabriel recalled that Turkey, having long seen itself as “a member of the European family”, had levelled Nazi jibes at Germany, and accused Erdogan of worsening a crisis that Berlin had repeatedly sought to ease through dialogue.

He accused Erdogan of trying to muzzle “every critical voice” with mass arrests in sweeping crackdowns over the past year.

Gabriel stressed that Germany still wanted to rebuild relations with its long-time ally but that first Erdogan’s government must “return to European values”.

Turkey’s presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin accused Germany of “great political irresponsibility” in stepping up its travel warning and said: “We do not accept this.”

He pointed to Germany’s general election in September, saying: “It’s unacceptable to try and damage economic relations, try and arouse doubts in the minds of German investors, for the sake of petty electoral calculations.”

The Turkish foreign ministry later said that bilateral relations could not be based on “blackmail and threats”.

A Turkish court on Tuesday ordered six rights activists to remain in custody for allegedly aiding a “terror” group - among them Amnesty International’s Turkey director Idil Eser and Berlin-based activist Peter Steudtner.

Turkey in February arrested, on similar charges, German-Turkish journalist Deniz Yucel of Die Welt and is holding several other German citizens.

Erdogan has demanded Germany extradite people he blames for conspiring against him, mostly alleged followers of US-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen, whom he accuses of orchestrating the coup, a charge Gulen denies.

Germany has granted asylum to some Turkish dissidents, journalists and military officers who feared being swept up in the post-coup arrests.

German politicians and media have accused Erdogan of detaining German citizens as “hostages” to trade for Turks in Germany, but Gabriel said he “had heard of no official exchange offer”.

News weekly Die Zeit said Ankara’s blacklist also includes large German companies such as Daimler and BASF, claims dismissed as “absurd” by German security sources.

Gabriel, without referring to those claims, said that “you can’t advise someone to invest in a country where there is no legal certainty and even completely innocent companies are linked to terrorism”.

German-Turkish relations have steadily deteriorated in recent years, soured by a free speech dispute centred on a German TV comedian and a German parliamentary vote on the sensitive historical question of the mass killings of Armenians by Ottoman troops during World War I.

Erdogan has fumed over Germany’s decision to deny him and other Turkish politicians opportunities to campaign in Germany, home to the largest Turkish community abroad due to its “guest worker” programme of the 1950s and 1960s.

The NATO allies have also clashed over thwarted visits by German lawmakers to troops stationed at Turkish bases.

Full report at:

http://nation.com.pk/international/21-Jul-2017/germany-vows-economic-steps-against-turkey-as-row-escalates

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Germany indicts five suspects in Islamic State recruitment ring

July 21, 2017

Prosecutors have filed terrorism charges against a suspected representative of the Islamic State (IS) group in Germany and four fellow suspects who are accused of running a recruitment network.

Federal prosecutors said on Thursday that the suspected ringleader, a 33-year-old Iraqi citizen, identified as Ahmad Abdulaziz Abdullah A, who goes by the alias Abu Walaa was indicted on charges of membership in a terrorist organisation, terror financing and public incitement to commit crimes.

He and the other four are suspected of recruiting young Muslims in Germany and raising funds to send them to Syria and Iraq to join IS. Abu Walaa was the imam at a radical mosque in the northern city of Hildesheim and also organised “Islam seminars” at mosques elsewhere in Germany.

Full report at:

http://nation.com.pk/international/20-Jul-2017/germany-indicts-five-suspects-in-islamic-state-recruitment-ring

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New US sanctions on Iran 'ridiculous': Russian official

Jul 20, 2017

A senior Russian official has denounced fresh US sanctions against Iran on "unfounded" grounds, saying they will only undermine the implementation of the 2015 nuclear agreement with Tehran.

Mikhail Ulyanov, head of the Russian Foreign Ministry's department for non-proliferation and arms control, told RIA Novosti news agency that the nuclear accord calls on “Iran to refrain from launching ballistic missiles, but … it is just an appeal, not an obligation,” adding, "Sanctions for failing to comply with this call are ridiculous.”

Ulyanov also stressed that no one has been able to prove that Iran’s missiles are designed to deliver weapons of mass destruction, so “the cause for any punishment is non-existent.”

Earlier this week, the administration of US President Donald Trump announced new sanctions on 18 Iranian individuals, groups and networks over their alleged support for the country’s missile program.

The sanctions freeze the assets of those targeted in the US and prevent Americans from doing business with them.

This is while the measures are said to be a violation of the nuclear deal signed between Iran and the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council - the United States, Britain, France, China and Russia - plus Germany on July 14, 2015. They started implementing the agreement on January 16, 2016.

Under the JCPOA, officially called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), limits were put on Iran’s nuclear activities in exchange for the removal of all nuclear-related bans against the Islamic Republic.

Elsewhere in his comments, the Russian official hailed Iran’s compliance with the JCPOA, but complained of the US conduct, saying that even world powers must adhere to “certain rules of the game.”

“The nuclear deal envisaged some steps by Iran, which it implements in good faith, and reciprocal steps by the ‘group of six’ of western and eastern countries. The US side is implementing its part of the deal very badly," Ulyanov said.

On Wednesday, President Hassan Rouhani pledged that Iran would would respond to the US sanctions in kind.

Full report at:

http://www.presstv.ir/Detail/2017/07/20/529142/Russia-Iran-US

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Chechnya becoming major player in rebuilding war-torn Syria

Nataliya Vasilyeva

July 21, 2017

MOSCOW — Russia’s mostly Muslim republic of Chechnya is becoming a major player in rebuilding war-ravaged Syria. And ordinary Chechens are likely to foot the bill, with many of them being forced to make contributions or face the possibility of exile or death, human rights activists say.

A murky charitable foundation run by the family of Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov is restoring Aleppo’s landmark mosque. The gesture is aimed at helping the Kremlin cement its footprint in Syria and to solidify Kadyrov’s standing in the Muslim world.

The Kadyrov Foundation, one of Russia’s wealthiest charities, has spent millions bringing Western celebrities to Chechnya, buying sports cars for athletes and building mosques in Israel, Ukraine’s Crimea Peninsula and elsewhere. More recently, the foundation turned its sights to Syria.

While no one doubts Syria needs all the help it can get after seven years of civil war, human rights activists see sinister and self-serving objectives in the Kadyrov Foundation’s undertaking. They allege that the organization has been used as Kadyrov’s private piggy bank — one filled by compulsory contributions from the Chechen people.

“The major source of funding for the foundation is ordinary people and businesses in Chechnya because the entire republic is paying this informal tax,” said Ekaterina Sokirianskaia, project director for Russia and North Caucasus at the International Crisis Group.

It has offered to feed Syrian refugees in Germany and Jordan, sent sheep to Syria for Ramadan feasts, and announced it was rebuilding the war-damaged Great Mosque of Aleppo, a UNESCO World Heritage-listed site, as well as another important mosque in the Syrian city of Homs.

Rights activists in the North Caucasus have documented Chechen authorities coercing residents to make contributions from their salaries to the foundation and toward unspecified needs of Kadyrov and his inner circle.

How much Chechen workers give to the foundation varies, activists say. Some businesses and employees are expected to furnish a set percentage of their earnings every month. Others, mostly the lowest-paid civil servants, are asked for contributions on an ad-hoc basis. The average monthly salary is about $360 in Chechnya, which has a population of about 1.4 million.

In 2016, prominent rights group Memorial received a formal complaint from employees of a provincial social security department in Chechnya. They reported that about 70 percent of their pay was withheld for donations to the foundation. Memorial petitioned prosecutors, but the investigation found no misconduct.

Refusing to pay isn’t an option. Kadyrov’s opponents have been killed or driven into exile; disappearances have become mundane; families of suspected militants have been forced to leave Chechnya and their houses burnt down. Kadyrov has recruited more than 1,000 people for his private security detail, which is technically part of the Russian Interior Ministry’s troops.

“It’s impossible to say ‘no’ because violence is pervasive,” Sokirianskaia says. “Chechnya is small. Everyone knows several people who have been seriously affected by this regime in a violent way, and they need no proof.”

The only financial data released by the foundation shows that it held 1.5 billion rubles ($25 million) in net assets in 2015. Unlike other Russian non-governmental organizations, which are obliged by law to submit financial reports to authorities or face hefty fines, the Kadyrov Foundation closely guards its finances.

The Justice Ministry’s official database of NGOs doesn’t list a single report from the Kadyrov Foundation. The ministry told The Associated Press that the foundation files its financial reports on time and submitted its latest one in March, but wouldn’t say why they weren’t made public.

Kadyrov’s spokesman, Alvi Karimov, refused to discuss the foundation’s work, telling The Associated Press that “the figures are all in the press.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin in 2015 launched a military operation in Syria to provide air cover for the government’s offensive against the Islamic State group. Moscow has also been eager to project a softer image in Syria, offering medical aid and food to local residents.

Kadyrov has ruled predominantly Muslim Chechnya since the 2004 assassination of his father, a separatist leader who switched sides to support the Russian government after two bloody wars in the 1990s. In recent years, Kadyrov has used Russia’s military support of Syrian President Bashar Assad to boost his authority at home and to position himself as Russia’s most influential Muslim abroad.

He has cultivated ties with other Muslim leaders, from hosting Jordan’s king in the regional capital Grozny to holding talks with Mohammed bin Salman years before the Saudi defense minister was named Saudi Arabia’s new crown prince.

In 2015, the Saudi king opened the Kaaba, the most sacred site in Islam, for Kadyrov and his delegation on a rare occasion when visitors were allowed to see it outside the holy month of Ramadan.

Kadyrov’s foundation said it expects to finish work on Aleppo’s Great Mosque, also known as the Umayyad Mosque, next year but wouldn’t release any estimate of the project’s cost. The mosque, which had its walls shredded by shrapnel, and the minaret where the call for prayers sounded for 900 years toppled, needs at least $7 million in repairs, Mamoun Abdul-Karim, head of Syria’s Antiquities and Museums Department, told the AP.

Kadyrov’s foundation also is restoring a mosque in Homs that holds a special importance for Muslims since it hosts the shrine of Khalid Bin al-Walid, a companion of Prophet Muhammad.

By relying on Russian Muslims to build mosques and police the streets of Syrian cities, Moscow is trying to improve its standing in the Muslim world damaged by the bombing campaign that has reportedly killed hundreds of civilians.

Putting the Chechen leader in charge of restoring the two mosques instead of portraying the work as a Russian government project was a conscious choice, Caucasus watchers say.

“A mosque restored by a Christian state that bombs the country wouldn’t have the same legitimacy,” Sokirianskaia said. “Trying to show that the donation was Muslim was aimed to compensate for this.”

When Russia decided to send military police to Syria last December, the first battalion that was dispatched there was from Chechnya. There has only been one deployment of non-Chechens to Syria in the last seven months — a contingent from another predominantly Muslim region, Ingushetia.

The Kremlin is happy with the Chechens’ involvement in Syria since Kadyrov’s activities there are “strictly in line with Russia’s foreign policy, not a step out of line,” said Alexei Malashenko, chief researcher at the Moscow-based Dialogue of Civilizations Research Institute.

The arrangement also benefits Kadyrov.

“Thanks to this, Kadyrov is building his reputation in Putin’s eyes and demonstrates his super-loyalty,” Malashenko said. “And it also works to bolster Ramzan’s image as an unofficial leader in the Russian Muslim community.”

Full report at:

http://www.phillytrib.com/news/chechnya-becoming-major-player-in-rebuilding-war-torn-syria/article_ec73865f-4bf0-5c8b-a51a-136186d6e955.html

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Africa

 

Boko Haram is Not About Islam, It is a Political Issue

July 21, 2017

Nigerian hip hop star Innocent 2Face Idibia has stated that the Boko Haram issue in Nigeria is political and not religious as claimed by many.

According to him, “unless government and politicians step up their games by doing the needful in eradicating poverty among the masses, particularly youths, ensure justice to all manner of people or else, ending the Boko Haram insurgency and other violent clashes across the country will be difficult and unrealistic”.

He said this in Maiduguri when he visited people displaced by the Boko Haram war.

“Although, I have seen hope of life among some of these IDPs, all hands must be on deck to the needful by rendering support no matter how little it is. Presently I have a song, titled ‘Hold my Hands’, this song is on many platforms, all people need to do is to download it and use it ringing tone. It will only cost you N50 per month, but will surely contribute in giving hope of life to our traumatized victims of insurgency.

“In my little way, I have come and seen the live in camps and next week, when I go back to Abuja, we are going to do a concert as my proceed donation in alleviating the suffering of the IDPs”, 2Face stated.

https://www.nigerianbulletin.com/threads/2face-idibia-speaks-boko-haram-is-not-about-islam-it-is-a-political-issue.241836/

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Nigeria: Boko Haram Leader, 4 Others Surrender

19 JULY 2017

By Sunday Isuwa

Abuja — A high profile Boko Haram Terrorist leader, including four others have renounced terrorism and surrendered to the Nigerian Army, it was gathered, yesterday.

Konto Fanami, the leader of Kafa, hideout of the Boko Haram terrorists group that operates along Ajigin-Talala-Mungusum axis surrendered on Monday, alongside four other terrorists.

A statement by the Nigerian Army Spokesman, Brig Gen Sani Kukasheka Usman said on Monday, the terrorists willingly deserted their hideouts and surrendered themselves to 120 Task Force Battalion at Goniri.

"During preliminary interrogation, they confirmed that they abandoned terrorism because of incessant hardship and realizing that they were misled by their terrorist group leaders.

"They further stated they were also erroneously misinformed and brainwashed about Islam and the Nigerian military and the society generally," the statement said.

Full report at:

http://allafrica.com/stories/201707190030.html

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S. Africans stand in solidarity with Al-Aqsa Muslims

20.07.2017

JOHANNESBURG

South African Muslim leaders and civil rights groups have condemned Israeli’s restricting access to Al-Aqsa Mosque, Islam’s third holiest site.

Moulana Ebrahim Bham, secretary-general of the Council of Muslim theologians (Jamiatul Ulama) told Anadolu Agency Thursday said the restrictions were a collective punishment on Palestinian people and a blatant disregard for internationally recognized conventions.

‘‘We have appealed to Imams across the country to concentrate their sermons this Friday on what is happening in Al-Aqsa and rally solidarity for fellow Muslims there,’’ Shakir Baker, operations manager of the Al-Quds Foundation, told Anadolu Agency.

Baker, whose organization works to safeguard the city of Al-Quds (Jerusalem) by preserving its Arab identity and sacred Islamic and Christian sites, said: “We have called on Muslims worldwide to fast every Thursday until Al-Aqsa is liberated.”

Israeli authorities closed down the Al-Aqsa compound and canceled weekly Friday prayers for the first time in nearly five decades, following a shootout last week that left three Palestinians and two Israeli policemen dead near the flashpoint holy site in East Jerusalem.

On Wednesday, Israeli soldiers wounded nine Palestinians and arrested four others during protests against the closure.

Israel occupied East Jerusalem during the 1967 Middle East War. It later annexed the city in 1980, claiming all of Jerusalem as the Jewish state’s "eternal" capital -- a move never recognized by the international community.

Full report at:

http://aa.com.tr/en/africa/s-africans-stand-in-solidarity-with-al-aqsa-muslims-/866114

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“It takes a village” to defeat Nigeria’s Boko Haram

21 July 2017

Whether it is organizing neighborhood vigilante groups, sending vital updates or helping those who have been forced to flee their homes, local communities in Nigeria play a crucial role in the fight against Boko Haram.

And the role they play can have a marked impact on the progress of Boko Haram in establishing new power bases, according to Yunusa Zakari Ya’u, head of Nigeria’s Center for Information Technology and Development (CITAD), a civil society group that promotes good governance.

Ya’u said the role local communities play is often missed in media coverage, and a new book published by the center seeks to set the record straight, exploring communities’ role in an 8-year Islamist insurgency that has rocked northeast Nigeria.

Boko Haram, whose name loosely means ‘Western education is sinful’, has killed more than 20,000 people and uprooted some 2.7 million since 2009 in its bid to carve out an Daesh.

The jihadist group has used religion as a justification for the deployment of women and children as suicide bombers, the torching of churches and mosques, and indiscriminate killings.

In response, religious tolerance is part of communities’ armory as they try to unite against the militants, said Ya’u.

The book tells the tale of two towns with similar demographics whose reaction to the militants could not have been more different.

Mubi and Gombi sit in Nigeria’s northeastern Adamawa state, one of the poorest parts of the country. Alongside soaring unemployment rates, the area has been blighted by poor harvests and increasing levels of desertification.

The state is also very diverse: among a population of almost 4 million, there are approximately 58 different ethnic groups.

Yet Mubi and Gombi had very different responses to attacks.

While Mubi crumbled under pressure and briefly became the largest town controlled by Boko Haram, Gombi withstood bombings before vigilantes and security forces drove out the militants.

“There (in Gombi), despite the same religious diversities (as in Mubi) — Christians and Muslims, various ethnicities and so forth — they were able to come together to present one of the most effective responses to Boko Haram,” Ya’u told the Thomson Reuters Foundation by phone.

TALE OF TWO CITIES

However, in Mubi, religious polarization, economic inequalities and youth unemployment made the radicalization of young people relatively easy, said Musa Shalangwa, political economist and lecturer at the Adamawa State Polytechnic.

“Several months before Mubi was attacked and taken over by insurgents in October 2014, strangers, who turned out to be insurgents, were seen in the town openly preaching their extremist views and calling on all Muslims to join their jihad,” Shalangwa wrote in the book.

Meanwhile, in Gombi, youths — both Christians and Muslims — joined vigilante groups, with wealthier residents contributing funds to protect public places, in particular places of worship.

Both Muslim and Christian faith representatives held regular meetings to promote peace between religious groups, while also holding security meetings with community leaders.

“The role of local leadership is critical in terms of mobilizing members of diverse backgrounds ... to come together and present a united front against the insurgents,” said Ya’u.

Poverty and inequality also fueled the violence, he said.

“Clearly, a high degree of inequality is needed to turn the disaffected communities into violence. This was the case in Mubi, which has its vast commercial wealth concentrated in the hands of a few,” Ya’u wrote.

In order to build community resilience, trust in security forces and the authorities is important, said Ya’u.

Full report at:

http://www.arabnews.com/node/1132721/world

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Boko Haram suspects killed, tortured in Cameroon custody

July 21, 2017

Cameroon's security forces were yesterday accused of torturing hundreds of Boko Haram suspects, leading to dozens of deaths, in what Amnesty International said was a war crime.

The global human rights monitor said US and French military were also seen at one site where the abuses allegedly took place and urged Washington and Paris to investigate.

Boko Haram's Islamist insurgency has devastated northeast Nigeria since it began in 2009, and the violence has spread to neighbouring countries, including northern Cameroon.

Cameroonian troops are part of a regional military force that has been successful in forcing them out of captured territory in northeast Nigeria since early 2015.

Amnesty's regional director for West and Central Africa, Alioune Tine, said Boko Haram had committed atrocities and war crimes in Cameroon.

"But nothing could justify the callous and widespread practice of torture committed by the security forces against ordinary Cameroonians, who are often arrested without any evidence and forced to endure unimaginable pain," he said.

"These horrific violations amount to war crimes," he added in a statement, calling for an independent investigation.

Amnesty said it had unearthed 101 cases of secret detention and documented at least 24 different types of torture at more than 20 different sites in Cameroon between 2013 and 2017.

Four of the locations were military bases, two were run by the intelligence services, one was a private residence and another was a school.

But most of the torture happened at the headquarters of the Rapid Intervention Battalion (BIR), which has led the fight against Boko Haram, and the DGRE intelligence agency.

The majority of victims were men aged between 18 and 45 and from the Far North region, which has been repeatedly attacked by suicide and bomb attacks.

Women, children and people with physical and mental disabilities were also targeted. All were accused of support for the Islamic State group affiliate, it was alleged.

Torture methods included beating suspects with an electric cable while having water thrown on them, beatings to secure confessions and the use of excruciating stress positions.

Deprivation of food, water and medical treatment was also used; 32 of the 101 victims said they had seen people die because of the torture and ill-treatment.

Full report at:

http://www.thedailystar.net/backpage/boko-haram-suspects-killed-tortured-cameroon-custody-1436440

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US lifts laptop ban on flights from the Middle East and North Africa

July 21, 2017

The US has ended its four-month ban on passengers carrying laptops on inbound flights from the Middle East and North Africa.

It ended after King Khalid International Airport in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, became the last of 10 to have the ban lifted.

The controversial restriction came into force in March when the US stopped passengers carrying large electronics in the cabin on flights from 10 airports over fears they could disguise explosives.

The ban has now been lifted on all nine airlines affected.

They are: Emirates, Etihad Airways, Qatar Airways, Turkish Airlines, Saudi Arabian Airlines, Royal Jordanian, Kuwait Airways, EgyptAir and Royal Air Maroc.

Officials lifted the ban after visiting the 10 airports to confirm new security measures. announced last month, were being implemented.

A ban on citizens from six Muslim-majority countries - Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen - remains in place.

The US issued a revised directive to airlines around the world on Thursday.

It requires enhanced passenger screening at foreign airports, increased security protocols around aircraft and in passenger areas, and more checks by sniffer dogs.

Airlines that fail to comply could face electronics restrictions.

The UK continues to enforce a similar cabin electronics ban on flights from some airports in Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt, Tunisia and Saudi Arabia.

Full report at:

http://news.sky.com/story/us-lifts-laptop-ban-on-flights-from-the-middle-east-and-north-africa-10954800

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India

 

Muslim Neighbours Help Hindu Family In West Bengal’s Nadia District Carry Body To Crematorium

July 20, 2017

West Bengal: A Hindu family at a remote village in West Bengal’s Nadia district had no money to take the body of their father to the creamatorium for the last rites but their Muslim neighbours came to their help.

Akali Sardar (80) of Palashipara Dhawapara village near Tehatta in Nadia district had died yesterday. His family had no money to take the body to the burning ghat about 26 km away.

Around 210 families reside in Palashipara Dhawapara village, majority of them Muslims.

When the villagers heard the Sardar family’s problem, an announcement was made over the loud speaker asking the people to help them.

The Muslims neighbours of Sardar family rushed to help them. They handed over money his two sons Khakon and Swapan and to his wife Shanti.

No only that they carried the body to the burning ghat and waited till all the rituals were completed.

A local Golam Hossain Seikh said, “Akali and I had grown up together. The family was in great distress due to lack of money. They were unable to take the body to burning ghat. We helped them. Being neighbour, if we don’t stretch our hand, who will do?”

Khakon, son of Akali said, “We had no money to take our father’s body to the burning ghat. But our Muslim neighbours helped us to take the body to burning ghat at Kaliganj Ramnagar in Nadia, about 26 km away.”

Shanti, wife to Akali also expressed her gratitude to her Muslim neighbours. She said, “our Muslim neighbours rescued us from our problem. We will never forget the help.”

Hearing the matter, the Block Development Officer (BDO) of Tehatta 2, Abhijit Chowdhury, congratulated the villagers for helping the family of Akali Sardar.

The BDO said, “The Muslims of the area have established an instance of communal harmony.”

http://www.siasat.com/news/muslim-neighbours-help-hindu-family-carry-body-crematorium-1213605/

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Smoke from mosque leaves MP village tense

by Milind Ghatwai

July 21, 2017

Smoke emanating from a mosque on Thursday revived tension in Chhipaner village in Madhya Pradesh, where elopement of a Muslim youth and a Hindu girl earlier this month had sparked an arson attack on Muslim properties. A minor Muslim boy has been taken into custody for attempting to set fire to the mosque, where a mat was found burnt.

A section of villagers, however, said the boy from Indore, whose grandparents lived in Chhipaner, had been framed. The boy was produced before a juvenile court in Sehore, the district headquarters, that sent him to an observation home on Thursday, the police said.

SDPO Anil Tripathi told The Indian Express that there were eyewitnesses to the arson attempt on the mosque and claimed that the boy had confessed to the crime. He said villagers had seen the minor near the mosque. Tripathi added that the boy’s grandparents’ house was torched on July 8 along with the homes of other Muslim families. The minor has been booked under Section 436 and 295 of the IPC.

Full report at:

http://indianexpress.com/article/india/smoke-from-mosque-leaves-mp-village-tense-4760338/

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Syria Travel Wish, Talk of Plane Hijack Helped NIA Nail IS Suspect

by Rahul Tripathi

July 21, 2017

Abid Khan, 23, who has been convicted of having links with Junood-e-Khalifa-Hind (JKH), an Islamic State-inspired module, wanted to join the caliphate in Syria and made five attempts to travel to the IS-controlled territory. While the special NIA court at Shimla will announce the quantum of sentence Friday, here are details from his interrogation that helped NIA build its case:

First attempt

In September 2015, Abid set his mind to find a person who could facilitate his travel to Syria to join IS. He came in contact with Afzal, a resident of Sarapallya in Bengaluru, who is among those arrested. Abid also said he knew about IS through video or other literature and wanted to confirm that it is an original caliphate by going there — by performing Hijrat (migration). Later, he was introduced to JKH member Asif who invited him to join the group. Asif told Abid that they work for an IS handler based in Syria who had tasked them to form groups for separate tasks — (i) recruit people (ii) train people for war and arrange weapons (iii) collect funds and (iv) collect information about those working against IS in India.

Abid was tasked to search for people who wanted to work for IS. He was introduced to one Moosa through his friend Farooq who works in Dubai. The trio met when Farooq came to India last year. After a brief discussion, Moosa agreed to join JKH. Abid introduced another friend, Faizan, to the group, but he distanced himself later.

Baptism

After the crackdown on the group by NIA and other agencies, Abid took refuge at All Nations Church in Bengaluru. He told church employees that he was disturbed and wanted to leave behind old connections and follow Jesus Christ. Abid, according to interrogation details, shaved his beard and changed the way he dressed. He told people at the church that “he was being tracked by a evangelistic Muslim organisation which had hacked his e-mail account and there was a danger to his life.” He thought that if he was baptised, the church would send him abroad. Abid was baptised on March 17, 2016.

He reportedly befriended an Indonesian woman on the social media and wanted to travel to Indonesia to be with her. The church sent him to Sri Lanka instead to learn more about Christianity. In March 2016, he left for Colombo and stayed at a base camp in Madampet. Thereafter, Abid went to a base of Youth With a Mission at Kandy, where he stayed for about 14 days. All expenses were borne by the church but Abid refused to extend his stay to study Bible.

Talk on plane hijack

On his return, Abid asked his friend Sameer to meet him at Chennai airport. Sameer asked Abid why he was not arrested in this crackdown. Abid replied that he did not do anything wrong. Abid also discussed the news regarding arrest of Afzal, Mujahid and Asif and others linked to JKH. Abid also told Sameer to watch the movie Neerja where militants hijack a plane. He told Sameer about hijack of Israel Airline and Air India planes. Abid asked Sameer for financial help to go to Indonesia, but Sameer refused.

Full report at:

http://indianexpress.com/article/india/syria-travel-wish-talk-of-plane-hijack-helped-nia-nail-is-suspect-abid-khan-4760315/

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Ahmedabad: 4 Muslims arrested for ‘slaughtering’ cow; cops seek life term

July 20, 2017

Ahmedabad: The Gujarat police on Wednesday arrested four Muslim men for allegedly killing a cow and booked them under a newly-enacted law, which provides for life term for slaughtering a cow.

The four were arrested for “killing” the cow which had entered their cattle shed in Maanpur village of Banaskantha district, said the police, adding they would be tried under the stringent Gujarat Animal Preservation(Amendment) Act-2017.

The police identified the four accused as Aiyub Vagadiya, Jamaluddin Vagadiya, Arif Vagadiya and Israilbhai Vagadiya of Maanpur village.

The police arrested the four on a complaint by Kansa village resident Raghabhai Bumadiya, who approached Danta taluka police station on Tuesday and alleged that the accused had killed one of his cows after it entered their cattle shed.

“In his complaint, Raghabhai claimed his son had taken their cows and goats for grazing to the neighbouring Maanpur village yesterday. As some of the cows inadvertently entered into a cattle shed, four members of the family confronted Raghabhai’s son and scolded him,” said Police Sub-Inspector A R Vala.

“Though his son tendered an apology, the accused attacked one of the cows in a fit of rage and killed the animal using sticks, choppers and axe. Based on his complaint, we lodged a case yesterday for killing the cattle under section 429 of the Indian Penal Code and the Gujarat Animal Preservation (Amendment) Act-2017,” said Vala, adding that the four were arrested on Wednesday.

“Since the new Act against cow slaughter has come into force recently, all these accused will be tried under sections 8 and 10 of the Act,” said Vala.

The Gujarat Animal Preservation (Amendment) Bill, 2017 was passed by the state assembly on March 31. This amended Act provides for not less than 10 years in jail which can extend up to life term for those found to be involved in the slaughter of bovines, including cows, calves, bulls and bullocks.

Full report at:

http://www.siasat.com/news/ahmedabad-4-muslims-arrested-slaughtering-cow-cops-seek-life-term-1213722/

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Pakistan summons Indian envoy over alleged ceasefire violations

Jul 20, 2017

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan today summoned Indian deputy high commissioner JP Singh after two civilians were killed in alleged ceasefire violations across the Line of Control by Indian troops.

Director General (SA and SAARC) Mohammad Faisal who summoned the Deputy High Commissioner "condemned the unprovoked ceasefire violations".

Foreign Office (FO) said in a statement that firing by Indian troops in Nikial and Nezapir sectors yesterday killed two civilians and inured five others.

"The deliberate targeting of civilians is indeed deplorable and contrary to human dignity and international human rights and humanitarian laws," Faisal said.

He urged the Indian side to respect the 2003 ceasefire arrangement; investigate this and other incidents of ceasefire violations; instruct the Indian forces to respect the ceasefire, in letter and spirit and maintain peace on the LoC.

Faisal said that the Indian side should permit United Nations Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP) to play its mandated role as per the UN Security Council resolutions and alleged that despite calls for restraint, India continues to indulge in ceasefire violations.

Indian forces have carried out 594 ceasefire violations along the LoC and the Working Boundary so far in 2017, the Director General claimed.

Yesterday, Pakistan summoned Indian deputy high commissioner Singh after two civilians were killed and six others injured in alleged ceasefire violations along the Line of Control by Indian troops.

Full report at:

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/pakistan/pakistan-summons-indian-envoy-over-alleged-ceasefire-violations/articleshow/59682308.cms

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Pak targeting kids, villagers near LoC, says DGMO

Jul 21, 2017

NEW DELHI: India on Thursday accused Pakistan of "deliberately targeting" villages and school children in ceasefire violations across the Line of Control, which remains volatile with the two armies exchanging heavy fire on a daily basis in Jammu & Kashmir.

Indian director general of military operations Lt-General A K Bhatt told his Pakistani counterpart Major General Sahir Shamshad Mirza over the hotline to exercise "strict control" over his troops and instruct them to refrain from any "nefarious activities".

During the telephonic conversation at about 3.30pm on Thursday, Lt-Gen Bhatt said Pakistan army troops had deliberately targeted villages and also fired at school children in the Nowshera sector of Rajouri district when they were being evacuated from the area on Tuesday.

"The Pak army DGMO was told such activities did not behove any professional army. The Indian Army, as a professional force, takes due care to avoid targeting of civilians and the Pak Army was expected to do the same," said Army spokesperson Colonel Aman Anand.

Full report at:

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/pak-targeting-kids-villagers-near-loc-says-dgmo/articleshow/59691726.cms

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No information about 39 missing Indians in Mosul: Iraq envoy to India

July 21, 2017

New Delhi: Iraq’s Ambassador to India Fakhri-H-Al-Issa on Thursday said he has no information regarding the 39 Indians who were abducted by the Islamic State (IS) terrorist organisation, even as External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said that they were last located in a prison in Badush.

“I don’t want to say anything. I have no information. Sometimes no news is good news. They might be in Badush prison,” Issa said.

When asked about the possibility of the 39 Indian being alive, Issa said, “I am hoping they are alive as there is no interest for Deash to kill them. They can use them as labourers, so let’s hope they are still there somewhere. We will hear good news hopefully within next couple of weeks and months.”

Sushma, along with Minister of State (MoS) for Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) MJ Akbar and MoS MEA Gen. (Retd.) VK Singh, met families of 39 Indians who are missing in Iraq since 2014 on July 16.

She said Indian authorities have been informed that the missing Indians were last located in a prison in Badush, so as soon as the area is cleared, further developments would be reported.

“I have already met families of missing Indians several times, but this time the situation was different as Iraqi Prime Minister recently announced that Mosul has been liberated from the ISIS. The very same day I asked VK Singh ji to go to Erbil and personally oversee where the missing Indians are and how can they be rescued,” Swaraj told reporters.

“Sources there told VK Singh ji that the missing Indians are most probably in a jail in Badush where the fighting is still going on,” she added.

The minister assured, “Once fighting stops in Badush and the area is cleared, we can probably find out about the whereabouts of the missing nationals.”

Full report at:

http://www.siasat.com/news/no-information-39-missing-indians-mosul-iraq-envoy-india-1214017/

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Pakistan

 

Large swathes of Ragjal Valley cleansed of terrorists

July 20, 2017

PESHAWAR: Several hideouts of terrorists were decimated in a synchronised blitzkrieg by army and air force in the Rajgal Valley of Khyber Agency where a major offensive was launched on Sunday to prevent the Afghanistan-based franchise of the Islamic State (IS) from making inroads into the tribal regions.

At least 13 terrorists were killed and six others injured in targeted strikes by PAF jets, Army Aviation and artillery, said the ISPR, military’s media wing, on Thursday in updates on the operation codenamed Khyber-4.

Operation Khyber-4 is part of Operation Radd-ul-Fasaad or Elimination of Discord, and was launched in February after a sharp uptick in terrorist attacks in the country. It is aimed at “indiscriminately eliminating the residual/latent threat of terrorism”, consolidating the gains made in other military operations.

According to the ISPR, 90 square kilometres of the area has been neutralised as Pakistani troops advanced from multiple directions to exterminate and debilitate the terrorists.

“Terrorists had laid a number of IEDs [improvised explosives devices] which have been detected, recovered and neutralised by Pakistan Army Engineers Counter-IED teams,” it said.

Operation Khyber-4: Offensive launched to deny Da’ish foothold in FATA

The operation in Rajgal Valley is critical as “it could provide a key route to IS terrorists operating from Afghanistan to establish a foothold in Pakistan”, it added.

Officials in Pakistan deny that the IS – also known by its Arabic acronym Da’ish – has an organised presence in the country, though the Middle Eastern terrorist group has claimed responsibility for some attacks.

“Rajgal is the last stronghold of terrorists holed up on the Pakistan-Afghanistan border regions,” a senior security official in Peshawar told The Express Tribune.

According to him, Operation Khyber-4 is perfectly timed because the region, which has extremely difficult terrain, becomes impenetrable in winters.

“The recent deadly bombings in Parachinar, Kurram Agency, have been traced to this region,” the official said while referring to last month’s twin bomb attacks on the Shia community that claimed 76 lives and left more than 160 injured.

“PAF and Special Services Group (SSG) are operating in the area,” he added.

Geographically, Tirah Valley’s mountains overlook parts of Kurram Agency. Of late, the IS has gained ground in the infamous Tora Bora mountains, situated in the Pachir Aw Agam district of Afghanistan’s Nangarhar province that borders Khyber and Kurram agencies.

“The aim of the operation is to deny terrorists any space in the area and to restore normalcy in the region,” the official said. “It is targeted at Mangal Bagh’s Lashkar-e-Islam, Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan and its breakaway faction Jamaat-ul-Ahrar who have in their midst elements sympathetic to Da’ish.”

A Pakistan Army soldier, Sepoy Abdul Jabbar, was martyred in the Rajgal operation. The funeral of the Shaheed soldier was offered at Peshawar garrison and attended by Corps Commander Peshawar Lt-Gen Nazir Ahmed Butt and other senior civil and military officials.

The corps commander also visited the areas of Rajgal Valley which have been cleared by troops. IG FC (N) Maj-Gen Shaheen Mazhar Mahmood, Commander of Operation Khyber-4, updated Lt-Gen Butt on the progress made thus far. The corps commander appreciated the morale and achievements of the troops.

https://tribune.com.pk/story/1462342/13-terrorists-killed-1-soldier-martyred-operation-khyber-4/

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13 terrorists killed, 6 injured as Operation Khyber-4 gains momentum

July 20, 2017

Pakistan Army's Operation Khyber-4, launched under Operaion Raddul Fasaad (RuF) in the Rajgal Valley area of Khyber Agency, is progressing as planned, Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) announced on Thursday.

According to the ISPR, the operation has been yielding steady results: 13 terrorists have been eliminated so far while six others have been debilitated.

Army troops, including personnel from the Special Services Group, have "cleared 90 square kilometres of area while advancing from multiple directions," an ISPR release said.

The army's bomb defusal teams have also successfully neutralised a number of improvised explosive devices (IEDs) that terrorists had hidden underground, while "terrorist hideouts have been destroyed in targeted strikes by Pakistan Air Force, Army Aviation and Artillery," the ISPR said.

"During exchange of fire a soldier, Sepoy Abdul Jabbar, laid down his life for the motherland," the ISPR release said.

The army had also informed Afghan forces ahead of the launch of Khyber-4 operation in Rajgal, which the Afghan army would be able to support on their side of the border if they wished.

Terrorism in Pakistan

Incidents of terrorism in Pakistan have shown a drop over the three-year period from 2014-2017, the ISPR had announced earlier.

Since the launch of Operation RuF, the army has launched 46 major operations in the country and over 9,000 intelligence-based operations (IBOs).

Full report at:

https://www.dawn.com/news/1346503/13-terrorists-killed-6-injured-as-operation-khyber-4-gains-momentum

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Sick minds pursuing anti-leadership, anti-Pakistan campaign: Geelani

July 21, 2017

Srinagar: Hurriyat Conference chairman Syed Ali Geelani on Thursday castigated what he described “mysterious” and “sick minded elements” for “maligning the freedom movement” and promoting a campaign against pro-freedom leadership and ideology of Pakistan. Stating that Kashmir “movement” was indigenous in nature and had nothing to do any “organization with global agenda”, Geelani expressed concern over reports about desecration of “Hilali Parcham (flag carrying star and moon)” and “undesirable propaganda” against leadership.

He termed the “propaganda” as a well-organized plot and a misadventure aimed to create confusion and divert attention from dreadful situations in Kashmir.

In an apparent reference to ISIS, Geelani said they were “slaying innocents and desperate to turn Muslim world into wreckages”.

Stating that Indian authorities will take advantage of the situation, Geelani said that India while justifying its “arrogance and bullying” in state will portray “our freedom struggle as globally affiliated terrorism”.

“A few sick minded elements are promoting all this and unintentionally a few immature youths get swayed by this,” Geelani said.

He blamed anti -Pakistan elements for creating chaos and said that their depiction of Jihad is aimed to misguide innocent youth and make them aggressive against Pakistan.

Referring to chaos and infighting in Iraq, Syria, Yemen and other Muslim countries, Geelani said that Islam aims to build a society in peace, serenity, friendship, collaboration, altruism, justice, and virtue.

“Those people instead of serving the cause and liberating Palestine, Masjid Aqsa from oppressors are slaying Muslims, thus have no mandate to represent Islam and Muslim community.”

Blaming Washington and Tel Aviv for fomenting trouble and creating anarchy in Muslim world, Geelani said that Muslims were being used as fodder for this “mindless strife and infighting”.

Criticizing elements creating mess under the garb of this so-called “holy doctrine” in the state, Geelani said that they are hell-bent to create a new phenomenon and philosophy against Pakistan and resistance leadership in state.

Geelani asked youth to resist and resent “this trend and their sinister designs” and added that “we need to introspect and understand the devilish plans being floated by our enemies”.

“We have been facing immense hardships as such we can’t afford to import such senseless thinking,” he said.

Geelani also rejected the idea of calling UN resolution as un-Islamic and said that UN resolutions serve as “substance matter for global-level agreement and has been agreed upon by both India and Pakistan and guarantee the legitimacy of this issue and thereby verdict of people in state”.

He said that Prophet (SAW) too documented various treaties with Jews, Christians and other non -Muslim communities and accorded full honors to these agreements.

Full report at:

http://kashmirreader.com/2017/07/21/sick-minds-pursuing-anti-leadership-anti-pakistan-campaign-geelani/

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ATC summons details of Imran, Qadri assets

Jul 20 2017

ISLAMABAD: An anti-terrorism court (ATC) hearing the SSP Asmatullah Junejo attack case has summoned details of assets of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf chief Imran Khan and Pakistan Awami Tehreek chairman Dr Tahir-ul-Qadri, both of whom stand accused in the case.

The court, which earlier this month ordered to temporarily seize the properties of Imran Khan and Tahir-ul-Qadri till their production in court, has adjourned hearing of the case to August 24.

Meanwhile, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leader Daniyal Aziz has urged the Supreme Court to take suo motu notice of the case.

Speaking to media outside the court hearing the case on Thursday, Aziz lamented that the case, in which Imran Khan, Qadri and several others were booked for their alleged involvement in attacks on the SSP and state TV building during the 2014 sit-in in Islamabad, was being subdued.

“The case also involves 40 to 50 ‘unknown persons’ who were never properly investigated for the violence during the [August 2014] sit-in,” he said, as he requested Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to form a judicial commission or carry out a parliamentary inquiry into the case.

Aziz also called upon the Supreme Court to take suo motu notice of the case.

“I request the media, I request Pakistan, and the Prime Minister to carry out a judicial inquiry. I request the Supreme Court, should there not be a suo motu notice against this case?” he remarked.

Khan and Qadri face charges of destroying property in the Red Zone, attacking the state TV channel's building and injuring SSP Asmatullah Junejo on Constitution Avenue. The incident had taken place on September 1, 2014, less than 24 hours into the official’s first day on the job as SSP Operations.

Full report at:

https://www.geo.tv/latest/150230-aziz-urges-sc-to-take-suo-motu-notice-of-ssp-attack-case-against-imran-khan

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British Virgin Islands turn down JIT request

July 21, 2017

ISLAMABAD: In a fresh response, the British Virgin Islands’ (BVI) law officer has declined to assist the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) in probing alleged offences committed by the two offshore companies — Nescoll Limited and Nielson Enterprises — that control the Sharifs’ four upscale London apartments.

The response from Sarah Potter-Wash­ington, Crown Counsel for the BVI Attorney General, came in res­po­nse to a mutual legal assistance (MLA) request from JIT head Wajid Zia. The request sought assistance in the confirmation, verification and certification of certain documents. The communication from the BVI Attorney Gen­eral’s Chambers is the second response to the JIT’s three earlier requests.

Examine: Rich Pakistanis' fetish for London property

In addition to the BVI correspondence, another letter from Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jaber Al Thani was also brought before the three-judge Supreme Court bench in sealed envelopes and was opened in the presence of both parties’ counsel.

These documents were addressed to the JIT, but since the probe team has wrapped up its secretariat inside the Federal Judicial Academy, the letters were forwarded to the Supreme Court registrar.

In the first letter, the BVI law officer said that though the JIT had sought MLA assistance, it did not conform to the laws of the territory.

Explaining further, the latter said that the JIT’s summary of facts did not provide any background information, which showed a nexus between these companies and any alleged offence.

Moreover, the request does not show how these companies may have been involved in the inferred offence of corruption or corrupt practices, the letter said.

Besides the information provided, the request must show, prima facie, how the offence was committed and must also provide a copy, and not a quote, of the law relative to the offence committed.

The request also did not indicate clearly whether criminal investigations were ongoing or if any proceedings had commenced with respect to the companies and the beneficial owners of these companies.

Consequently, the BVI law officer said it was unable to render any assistance in response to the JIT’s request, but suggested that after these anomalies were rectified, a fresh request may be submitted for further consideration.

Similarly, the former Qatari prime minister explained in his fresh letter that the JIT’s insistence on jurisdiction was an irrelevant discussion and he would not enter into any further discourse or argument on the question of jurisdiction, since his stance on the matter was very clear.

The letter reiterated his earlier stance, that Sheikh Al Thani did not recognise the jurisdiction of Pakistani laws and courts in any manner whatsoever.

He contended that the JIT’s argument — that by writing to the Supreme Court, he had accepted and submitted to the jurisdiction of Pakistani laws and courts — was inappropriate and factually incorrect.

The earlier letters, which were submitted to the Supreme Court, provided certain factual information and do not in any manner depict that he had accepted any such jurisdiction, the letter explained.

Full report at:

https://www.dawn.com/news/1346605/british-virgin-islands-turn-down-jit-request

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Army wants to mainstream Fata before its merger with KP, says Safron minister

Nadir Guramani

July 20, 2017

Minister for States and Frontier Regions (Safron) Abdul Qadir Baloch, while speaking during a Senate session on Thursday, said the military didn't oppose the merger of Federally Administrated Tribal Areas (Fata) with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, instead, it wanted that first Fata should be brought into the national stream.

He was responding to a motion in the Senate on Fata reforms. "The army had pressed for completion of rehabilitation and development works in Fata before its merger with KP," he said.

In response, PPP's Senator Farhatullah Babar raised an objection, saying that the statements of the Safron minister and Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) on the issue were contradictory.

He pleaded, "The statement regarding the opinion of the army should not be made public at this point."

"Abdul Qadir said the army does not want Fata reforms, whereas contrary to the statement, the GHQ had said in a press release that the army wants Fata reforms," he said, adding that even after the ISPR tweet, the minister did not deny the statement.

To this point, Baloch clarified that the army did not oppose the Fata reforms but said last year that before merging Fata with KP, the region should be brought into the main stream.

He further said that this year, the army has demanded in writing for implementation of Fata reforms.

However, the military has asked for the completion of rehabilitation work in Fata before its merger.

Baloch said that he was trying his level best to table the draft of Riwaj bill for approval from the Senate on July 27, after getting it approved by the National Assembly Standing Committee on Safron.

Meanwhile, Senate Chairman Raza Rabbani said that the Senate should deliver a clear message in this regard, that the Upper House of the Parliament would defend the supremacy of the Constitution and democratic system.

Full report at:

https://www.dawn.com/news/1346529/army-wants-to-mainstream-fata-before-its-merger-with-kp-says-safron-minister

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Pakistan rejects US assessment on Taliban, Haqqani network

21-Jul-17

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan rejected on Thursday the US State Department’s annual assessment that it did not take substantial action against the Afghan Taliban or Haqqani network or limit their ability to threaten US interests in Afghanistan.

“We have taken indiscriminate and all-out action against terrorists,” Foreign Office Spokesperson Nafees Zakaria told reporters during his weekly press briefing. In ‘Country Reports on Terrorism’, the US accused Pakistan of providing ‘safe haven’ to terrorists, saying the country had not taken any substantial action against the Haqqani network of the Afghan Taliban. The report said while terrorist-related violence declined in Pakistan for the second straight year in 2016, terror groups like Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and Jaish-e-Muhammad (JeM) continued to operate, train, organise and fundraise inside the country.

The report said Afghanistan experienced aggressive and coordinated attacks by the Afghan Taliban, including the Haqqani network and other insurgent groups, claiming a number of such attacks had been planned and launched from ‘safe havens’ in Pakistan. Zakaria contested the claim, insisting that most of the militants fled to Afghanistan after Pakistan’s successful operation in the tribal areas. “As is evident from the statistics and media reports available, a considerable number of leaders and senior commanders of the Haqqani network and other terrorists have been killed inside Afghanistan,” he said, rebutting charges that the deadliest militant outfit was operating in Pakistan.

“Our efforts have been met with success, and acknowledged by a number of countries, including the US. Various delegations, who came to Pakistan from US and other countries, have visited the affected areas, which we successfully cleansed from terrorism,” the spokesperson maintained.

Full report at:

http://dailytimes.com.pk/islamabad/21-Jul-17/pakistan-rejects-us-assessment-on-taliban-haqqani-network

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Mideast

 

Israel limits Muslim access to Al Aqsa mosque amid tensions

21 July 2017

An Israeli police spokesman says police are banning Muslim men under the age of 50 from Al Aqsa mosque ahead of feared mass protests over the installation of metal detectors there.

Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said Friday that reinforcements are being deployed in and around Jerusalem’s Old City, where the walled shrine is located. He says: “Police and border police units mobilized in all areas and neighborhoods.”

Muslim leaders have called for mass protests at Friday noon prayers. They urged worshippers to pray outside the shrine rather than submit to security procedures. Muslim leaders allege Israel is trying to expand its control there by installing the security devices.

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2017/07/21/Israel-bars-Muslim-men-under-50-from-entering-Al-Aqsa-for-Friday-prayers.html

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50 injured as Israel cracks down on Palestinian worshippers in al-Quds

Jul 21, 2017

Israeli forces have injured at least 50 Palestinians in a fresh crackdown on protesters demanding an end to restrictions outside the al-Aqsa Mosque compound in the occupied East Jerusalem al-Quds.

Clashes between Palestinian worshippers and Israeli regime forces outside the mosque compound continued for a sixth consecutive day on Thursday as Israeli officials refused to heed growing international calls to remove metal detectors recently installed at the entrance to the religious site.

Reports said some of those injured in the clashes were in serious conditions and at least one protester needed surgery.

The clashes came after worshippers massed outside the mosque for evening prayers. Like previous days this week, Muslims followed recommendations by clerics not to submit to the new Israeli measures by passing through the detectors to enter the mosque.

Israel placed the detectors in front of the site, generally known as the Noble Sanctuary, on July 14 after a reported shootout near the compound left two Israeli soldiers and three Palestinians dead. Israelis have refused calls for the removal of the detectors which have been contested by Jordan, the official custodian of the area.

Hamas calls for 'day of rage'

Public anger over the Israeli measures is expected to boil on Friday, when Muslims from across the occupied Palestinian territories will turn in their thousands to attend Friday prayers. Clerics have called on people to shut all nearby mosques to attend the prayers and protests outside al-Aqsa, unless the restrictions were scrapped.

The Palestinian resistance movement Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip, issued a statement on Thursday, saying Friday would be "a day of rage" against Israel.

"Let Friday be a turning point in the battle in the defense of al-Quds and al-Aqsa," Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh added in a televised speech.

Similar calls have been made by other anti-Israeli groups, calling on people to confront Israel’s plans to change the status quo of the highly-revered Muslim site, which is also revered by Jews and Christians.

Full report at:

http://www.presstv.ir/Detail/2017/07/21/529153/Jerusalem-mosque-row

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Fighting terrorists not limited to Iran's borders: : IRGC commander

Jul 20, 2017

A senior military commander says Iran's fight against terrorists is not limited to evicting them from the country's borders and goes far beyond borders.

“Driving out bandits and terrorists from the Islamic Republic of Iran's borders is not our sole goal. Rather, our strategy is to go after the rear detachments and gathering sites of the terrorist groups," Brigadier General Mohammad Pakpour said on Thursday. 

On June 7, gunmen mounted assaults on Iran’s Parliament and the Mausoleum of late Founder of the Islamic Republic Imam Khomeini, leaving 18 people dead and over 50 others wounded. Both attacks were claimed by the Daesh Takfiri terrorist group.

Iran responded to the attacks with a missile strike, which pummeled Daesh positions in Syria’s Dayr al-Zawr, killing more than 170 Takfiri elements and inflicting heavy damage to their weaponry and communication systems.

Pakpour, who is the commander of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) Ground Forces, said Iran was increasingly and consistently upgrading its intelligence and operational readiness to confront the threats of terrorist groups and protect its borders.

"The security services of some regional countries sponsoring terrorists such as Saudi Arabia and trans-regional states such as the criminal America are attempting to create terrorist groups on Iran's borders in the northwest and southeast and make those regions insecure," he said.

Pakpour said, "Today, the extent of terrorism and terrorist acts in the world has become widespread and the interesting point is that some of the countries that themselves are the main supporters and agents of the creation, development and support of terrorists are accusing others, including the Islamic Republic, of supporting and sponsoring terrorism."

Armed bandits, outlaws and drug dealers regularly attack police forces and border guards in southeastern Iran.

Back in April, 11 Iranian border guards lost their lives and three others sustained injuries in an attack near the border town of Mirjaveh. The Pakistan-based so-called Jaish ul-Adl terror group claimed responsibility for the attack.

Full report at:

http://www.presstv.ir/Detail/2017/07/20/529132/Iran-IRGC-Mohammad-Pakpour

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Washington's so-called anti-terror campaign meant to control regional states: Houthi

Jul 20, 2017

The leader of Yemen’s Ansarullah movement has condemned Washington’s so-called campaign against terrorism as a plot by US statesmen to exercise complete control over the Middle East countries, and to achieve their goals there.

Addressing his supporters via a televised speech from the northwestern Yemeni city of Sa’ada on Thursday afternoon, Abdul-Malik Badreddin al-Houthi stated that the United States seeks to deal blows to regional nations in the name of fight against terror.

He added that the US is determined to target those who are fighting to break Washington’s hegemony in Yemen, Syria and elsewhere in the region.

Houthi said that the United States ordered certain regional states, above all Saudi Arabia, to launch an onslaught against Yemen when the al-Qaeda terror group was on its last breath.

“Even though all regional wars, seditious moves and crises are in line with US and Israeli interests, Washington pretends as if it has had no role in their emergence,” Houthi commented.

The Ansarullah leader also warned Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates about the repercussions of the ongoing developments in the occupied Palestinian territories, mainly increased Israeli security measures at the al-Aqsa Mosque compound in occupied East Jerusalem al-Quds, stressing that their efforts to normalize diplomatic relations with the Tel Aviv regime will accredit Zionists.

Houthi further pointed to the US bids to partition Yemen and Syria, warning that other regional countries will fall prey in case the destructive plots go as planned.

“The mercenary regimes that are helping the United States in such schemes will eventually receive a stinging slap from the US itself,” he emphasized.

Houthi also condemned US plans to dominate Yemen, and its interference in the domestic affairs of the crisis-hit Arabic country. He stressed that the Yemeni nation will not stand silent in the face any act of aggression.

The Ansarullah chief urged all Yemenis to remain vigilant and stand united against conspiracies.

Houthi said US Secretary of Defense James Mattis is determined to intensify Yemen’s conflict, stressing that the number one priority of his movement is now to fight enemies, and prevent division.

Full report at:

The military aggression has claimed the lives of more than 12,000 people, mostly civilians.

http://www.presstv.ir/Detail/2017/07/20/529116/Yemen-Ansarullah-leader-Houthi-US-war-terror-plot-Middle-East-

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Southeast Asia

 

We are Bumiputeras, insists Indian Muslim umbrella body

Melissa Darlyne Chow

July 20, 2017

PETALING JAYA: An umbrella body representing various Indian Muslim associations is insisting that the community should be officially recognised as Bumiputera.

The Federation of Malaysian Indian Muslim Associations (Permim) president Dhajudeen Shahul Hameed said this was because the community had been in the country for over five centuries.

“We have contributed to the economic development of the country, and have also been following the Malay culture. There are so many commonalities here,” he said. “What we want, is just for this to be gazetted,” he added.

Dhajudeen had, two nights ago, made three requests, namely to gazette the community as Bumiputera, set up a Muslim Indian landmark in Kuala Lumpur or Putrajaya, and appoint a special officer in the Prime Minister’s Department to manage the affairs of about one million Indian Muslims in the country.

Prime Minister Najib Razak, who was also present at the Hari Raya function, had said that the government would study in depth the request for Indian Muslims to be recognised as Bumiputeras.

Commenting on this, historian Khoo Kay Kim had earlier today said that Indian Muslims could not become Bumiputeras, but a case could be made to categorise them as Malays.

Khoo told FMT the term “Bumiputera” was coined in 1963 to refer to the non-Muslim indigenous peoples of Sabah, Sarawak and Peninsular Malaysia.

“Before 1963, Malays in Peninsular Malaysia were just called Malays,” he said, noting that a Malay is defined as someone who is a Muslim, speaks Malay habitually and practises Malay customs.

Meanwhile, Malaysian Muslim Restaurant Owners Association (Presma) president Ayoob Khan Muhamad Yakub, personally felt the issue of “Bumiputera” recognition was long overdue.

“We are the Indian Muslim community who spread Islam to this country and who contributed to the economic wealth, helping to administer and manage the affairs of the country,” he said.

Ayoob’s views mirrored that of Dhajudeen, who said that the economic contribution of the Indian Muslim community was important and could not be denied.

Ayoob also said the time had come for the appointment of a special officer in the Prime Minister’s Department to manage the affairs of the Indian Muslim community.

“This is to safeguard the affairs and interests of this community. Also,this will enable the government to listen to the pulse of this community,” he added.

He said there were about 1.5 million Indian Muslims in Malaysia, if the Muslims originally from Malabar and Pakistan were included.

http://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/nation/2017/07/20/we-are-bumiputeras-insists-indian-muslim-umbrella-body/

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‘Give Islamic Approach a Chance’: PAS

 21 July 2017

PETALING JAYA: PAS will not compromise with those who oppose the implementation of Islamic practices, values and laws, said its president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang

“There will be no compromise against the obstacles to Islam’s journey or those complicit in creating these obstacles.

“There will be no compromise with those who make use of Islam, or fan racism to sideline Muslims, without respecting or showing gratitude,” he said in an open letter.

The stance taken by PAS is a change from its previous position of fighting for a welfare state in the 2013 general election to upholding Islamic principles.

He urged Malaysians to give the Islamic approach a chance, saying that they should give equal opportunity to it as they had for western ideologies.

“Why can’t we give the Islamic approach a try in matters of politics, economy and community matters without forcing them (Malaysians) to leave their respective religion?” he asked.

Abdul Hadi, who is Marang MP, said Malaysians must respect other constitutional provisions such as Islam’s position in Malaysia, constitutional monarchy, the national language, bumiputra rights and the rights protecting others in a multiracial community.

“The people should reject any political party or anyone who wants to undo the constitution. Do not make things worse. Instead, make improvements towards strengthening Islam and its laws.

“The people should reject any party or person who is the servant of those who wish to destroy the constitution or become servants of occupiers or are inviting colonialists to return,” he said.

He stressed that only with the PAS’ slogan “Sejahtera Bersama Islam (Harmony with Islam)” would problems such as corruption and “all other wrongs” be resolved.

Full report at:

http://www.thestar.com.my/news/nation/2017/07/21/give-islamic-approach-a-chance-grant-it-equal-opportunity-as-that-given-to-western-ideologies-urges/

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Hadi: As long as Putrajaya is led by Muslims, Malaysia is secure

July 20, 2017

PETALING JAYA: PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang has lashed out at an unnamed group seeking to take over Putrajaya, describing its members as the “slaves” of the “enemies of Islam who monopolise the votes of one race”.

He said these “slaves” were willing to do anything to seize power, including becoming “hatchet men, cursing others and being used as tools to do dirty work”.

“What actually is mandated of them is to carry out reforms in tandem with Muslim leaders and to uphold Islam, regardless of who sits in the Putrajaya chair,” he wrote in a Facebook post.

“The people are also obligated to reject any party or anyone who serves as the slaves of those out to destroy the foundation of the constitution, or become the slaves of colonialists, or to invite colonialists to return,” he said.

Last month, Hadi had questioned the motive of the United States Department of Justice (DoJ) investigations into alleged embezzlement linked to 1MDB, likening support for the probe to inviting foreign interference.

“It is enough that we were colonised for centuries and the effects are still present.

“Suddenly, (some of us) want to invite the colonialists back or open the door for them to come to solve our problems,” he had written in an open letter responding to the DoJ lawsuits seeking to seize assets allegedly bought with stolen 1MDB funds.

Hadi is among those in PAS who frequently criticises Pakatan Harapan, and is seen to be friendly with Umno leaders, including Prime Minister Najib Razak.

In his post today, Hadi said Malaysia would only be secure if it was led by Muslims who were able to bring changes based on Islam.

“Uphold Islam, the country will be secure. Uphold others without Islam, all will not be safe,” he said.

“Muslims form the core of the nation and must be respected. Don’t forget that Muslims willingly accepted a plural society and allowed freedom of religion, granting citizenship and guaranteeing rights under the constitution.”

Hadi also criticised non-Muslims in Malaysia who accepted western ideologies “alien to their religion and race”.

“Why not try the Islamic approach in managing politics, the economy and society without forsaking their own religion?

Full report at:

http://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/nation/2017/07/20/hadi-as-long-as-putrajaya-is-led-by-muslims-malaysia-is-secure/

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Sept 7 hearing for Hindraf’s suit on Zakir Naik

July 20, 2017

KUALA LUMPUR: The High Court here today set Sept 7 to hear an originating summons filed by Hindraf chairman P Waythamoorthy and 18 others on international preacher Zakir Naik.

Lawyer S Karthigesan, representing the 19 plaintiffs, told reporters that Judge Azizah Nawawi fixed the date in chambers when the case came up for mention.

Karthigesan was met by reporters after the chamber proceeding of the case, which was also attended by lawyer Adnan Seman, who acted on behalf of Perkasa president Ibrahim Ali, who is an intervenor in the case.

In the originating summons filed on March 1 this year, Waythamoorthy and the 18 other plaintiffs, comprising politicians, lawyers and members of non-governmental organisations, named Home Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, the Immigration Department director-general, National Registration Department director-general, inspector-general of police and the Malaysian government as defendants.

They are seeking a declaration that the controversial preacher is a threat to public peace in the country’s multiracial society and, with that, an order to stop him from coming into the country or remaining here.

If he is already in the country, they want the police to arrest him.

Full report at:

http://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/nation/2017/07/20/sept-7-hearing-for-hindrafs-suit-on-zakir-naik/

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Hizbut Tahrir may file lawsuit against disbandment: Police

July 20, 2017

National Police chief Gen. Tito Karnavian has called on Hizbut Tahrir Indonesia (HTI) to take legal action against its official disbandment should the Muslim group deem it  unacceptable.

He added that instead of responding with violence, HTI followers should challenge in court the government’s decision to revoke the organization’s legal status.

“If HTI cannot accept the decision, they can use any legal mechanism,” he told journalists in Jakarta on Thursday.

Tito further warned that police would use Article 107b of Law No.27/1999 on State Security to take action against any acts of violence.

The government disbanded HTI on Wednesday for conducting activities that contradict the Pancasila state ideology and the principle of the Unitary State of the Republic Indonesia (NKRI). The revocation of HTI’s status as a legal entity was based on presidential regulation in lieu of law (Perppu) No.2/2017 on Mass Organizations, which was issued on July 10.

Separately, National Police spokesperson Insp. Gen. Setyo Wasisto said police would not seal HTI’s offices, adding that the government only banned the organization, not its religious activities.

“But if in their religious activities, they spread messages that defy the Pancasila and NKRI, we might take security measures against them,” he said.

Full report at:

http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/07/20/hizbut-tahrir-may-file-lawsuit-against-disbandment-police.html

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Indonesia Condemns Tensions in East Jerusalem

July 21, 2017

Jakarta. Indonesia on Wednesday (19/07) condemned the escalation of tensions in East Jerusalem, following reports saying that Al-Aqsa Mosque imam Sheikh Ikrima Sabri has been injured by a rubber bullet shot by Israeli police.

In a statement, the government expressed its concerns about the worsening situation in the mosque complex.

The incident occurred when the police were trying to disperse worshipers, leaving many injured, according to Palestine's Red Crescent Society.

"Indonesia condemns the steps undertaken by Israeli police, who are limiting access to Al-Aqsa Mosque" the statement released by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said.

On Sunday, Israel began implementing new security measures at the entrance points of the mosque complex, including checkpoints with metal detectors, after two Israeli policemen were killed by citizens of Palestinian origin.

In the statement, Indonesia condemned the security measures, urging Israel to restore free access for Muslims, and called on all parties involved to refrain from further straining the situation.

Al-Aqsa Mosque is the third holiest site for Sunni Muslims, after the cities of Mecca and Medina. Its wider compound, known as the Noble Sanctuary of Jerusalem, is one of the world's most important religious sites, venerated by Judaism, Christianity and Islam.

Indonesian Ulema Council

The Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI) on Thursday released a statement urging Israel to reopen the mosque to avoid tensions as Palestinian Muslims are planning to conduct Friday prayers in the compound.

Full report at:

http://jakartaglobe.id/news/indonesia-condemns-tensions-east-jerusalem/

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Arab World

 

Mosul's Christians face dilemma after Islamic State

Jul 21, 2017

ARBIL (Iraq): The jihadists may have been ousted from their Iraqi hometown of Mosul but many Christians like Haitham Behnam refuse to go back and trade in the stability of their new lives.

"There's no security, no protection for Christians back there," said the former resident of the largest city in northern Iraq.

"It's better for us to stay here and keep our mouths shut," said the man in his 40s who resettled in the Iraqi Kurdish capital of Arbil in 2014 after the Islamic State (IS) jihadist group seized control of Mosul.

"They came to see us in our shops. They told us: 'We have nothing against you. If we're bothering you, tell us.' A week later, it was 'Christians out!'" recalled Behnam, who used to deal in ready-to-wear clothing.

Under the brutal rule of IS, Mosul's Christian community of around 35,000 was handed an ultimatum: convert to Islam, pay a special tax imposed on non-Muslims, or risk being executed unless they leave town.

Since the Iraqi authorities on July 10 announced their recapture of Mosul after a battle that raged for several months, tens of thousands of Christians who have rebuilt their lives in the past three years face a dilemma.

"We couldn't go back even if we wanted to," said Behnam, who fondly remembers "a paradise-like life" before Mosul fell under jihadist control.

His polo shirt and trousers are smeared with grease from his new life as a mechanic working in an Arbil suburb, a change he has had to undergo in order to put food on the table for his wife and two children.

"There's no security (in Mosul). People were brainwashed over the past three years," said Behnam, a Catholic.

"Even the children have become Daesh, they've been taught to slit throats," he said using a pejorative Arabic name for IS.

A customer at the small workshop that Behnam rents was quick to agree.

"If I was a Christian, I wouldn't go back to Mosul until its residents prove to me that they're ready to accept me," said Omar Fawaz, a Muslim from the east of the city.

Once the battle for Mosul was over, his parents had returned, only to find their home occupied by the victorious security forces.

"Neighbours told us to take the house of a Christian who used to live four doors down," said the 29-year engineer.

"The mentality hasn't changed. The imams in the mosques preach against IS... but the Salafists (radical Muslims) believe Christians have no place there."

Another Christian Maslawi (resident of Mosul), Essam Boutros, a father of four, had to restart from scratch after having abandoned five shops and two houses in the city in 2014.

He had to sell his car to pay the first three months of rent for a shop in Arbil and used his business contacts and reputation to open credit lines with suppliers in neighbouring Turkey.

Now his impressive two-floor store displays counters loaded with perfumes and cosmetics as well as racks of brightly coloured clothes for young girls.

He hasn't even gone back to bombed-out Mosul to see what has become of his properties.

"I want to go back for work. I'm optimistic. But without my families. It's hard to take risks when it comes to family," he said.

One of his shop assistants, Samaher Kiriakos Hanna, fled to Arbil from the small, mainly Christian town of Bartalla, near Mosul.

"We were scared that IS would kill us, that they would take away our daughters. We were terrorised," said the mother of three little girls, the eldest of whom is 13.

"We saw what they did to our Yazidi sisters," who were reduced to the status of sex slaves by IS.

Hanna, an Orthodox Christian, is now busy rebuilding her house, hopeful of returning one day, but she knows it will be a tough call whether to go back.

"We're good here. We can find everything here. There's food, we can rent a house, and I've been working for the past year," said the 37-year-old woman, sporting a ponytail and wearing fashionable trainers.

"If they can guarantee our safety, we will go back," she said, with a note of caution in her voice. "But what about my neighbours, my sister, my brothers. They've all emigrated. There's no-one left but me."

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/middle-east/mosuls-christians-face-dilemma-after-islamic-state/articleshow/59694269.cms

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Qatari emir amends laws to bolster fight against terrorism: agency

July 21, 2017

DOHA: Qatar's ruler has amended the country's anti-terrorism laws in a royal decree issued on Thursday, state news agency QNA reported, in a move that appears aimed at countering charges the Gulf Arab state supports terrorism.

The move comes less than a week after Doha signed an accord with the United States to bolster measures aimed at curbing terrorism financing.

Qatar has been under pressure from four Arab states, including Saudi Arabia, the United Arab and Egypt, over allegations it supports terrorism, a charge it denies.

QNA, citing a decree issued by the Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani amending a 2004 anti-terrorism law, said the amendments set rules for defining terrorism, acts of terrorism, freezing funding and terrorism financing.

It also creates two national terrorism lists and set rules for listing individuals and groups on each list.

Qatar has been struggling to dispel charges it supports terrorism since the four Arab countries imposed sanctions on it last month.

Full report at:

http://nation.com.pk/international/21-Jul-2017/qatari-emir-amends-laws-to-bolster-fight-against-terrorism-agency

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Islamic State families, Mosul displaced live side-by-side in Iraq camp

July 21, 2017

Like hundreds of thousands of other Iraqis, Maha lives with her sons at a camp for the displaced near Mosul. But there's a big difference: her father and husband worked and fought with the Islamic State (IS) militant group.

“Men go off and do what they want, they never listen to us,” said the young woman, a new arrival at the camp in the Al-Jadaa area, south of Mosul, by way of excuse for their actions.

The camp is home to 18,000 people displaced by several months of warfare in and around Mosul between IS and Iraqi security forces backed by the US-led international coalition also fighting the terrorists.

More than 80 families, mostly women and children who had a husband or father among the ranks of IS, have been transferred to the Al-Jadaa camp this week.

Maha's father worked for IS, distributing pensions to the families of dead fighters. He himself died in an air strike on the Maidan district of Mosul's Old City, the last to fall before Baghdad announced victory on July 10.

“When we left [Mosul], they questioned us. They told us they 'want the truth'. We told the truth,” she said, without disclosing to AFP the fate of her husband.

Originally from farmlands south of Mosul, her family moved to the city in October to escape the advancing Iraqi forces.

“Nobody has harmed us. We have been well treated,” said Maha, her face covered by a scarf that only revealed her eyes and a worried look.

Hamza, five, and Khattab, four, were huddled around her legs, clutching her jalabiya robe in its autumnal colours of yellow, orange and red-brown.

'We were living the good life'

Unusually for many camps for the displaced in northern Iraq, four armed soldiers kept watch near the area where the new arrivals have been resettled.

But the women and children have freedom of movement outside their tents.

Encircled by howling and crying small children in one of the tents, sisters Khawle and Nawal reminisced about the life they were forced to leave behind in Mosul.

“They say they saved us. From who? They are the ones who bombed us. We were left to walk over bodies everywhere,” said Nawal.

Khawle broke in with a sigh: “We were living the good life. They treated us well,” she said of IS.

Their father, a former bus driver in his 60s, had signed up with the militant group to work as a mechanic.

Saad Faraman of RNVDO, an Iraqi NGO in charge of running camps in Al-Jadaa, said: “It's our duty to accommodate them, to provide them with aid, just like we do for all the displaced.”

The IS-linked families were transferred from a “rehabilitation centre” in Bartalla, close to Mosul, which received at least 170 families before it was closed, according to Human Rights Watch, which last week criticised the existence of that camp.

“Iraqi authorities shouldn't punish entire families because of their relatives' actions,” said Lama Fakih, deputy Middle East director at New York-based HRW.

“These abusive acts are war crimes and are sabotaging efforts to promote reconciliation in areas retaken” from IS.

Some of the others displaced in Al-Jadaa, however, admit they are somewhat uneasy with the co-habitation.

“Women and children are not a problem. And it was the government that transferred them here,” said Mohamed Zeid, a former policeman who became a shepherd after IS swept into the Mosul region in 2014.

“They're in their tents and I'm in mine. We're not together,” said Zeid, wearing a white jalabiya and red keffiyeh headdress.

Ahmed Najeh, 40, also chose his words carefully: “I would be lying if I said I feel comfortable. Of course there are some worries.”

Full report at:

http://nation.com.pk/international/20-Jul-2017/islamic-state-families-mosul-displaced-live-side-by-side-in-iraq-camp

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15 More Civilians Killed in US-Led Coalition Airstrikes in Eastern Raqqa

Jul 20, 2017

The US-led coalition warplanes bombed heavily the village of Zour Shamr and Ma'adan region in Eastern Raqqa, killing 15 civilians, including 3 children, and wounding several more.

Medical sources said that a number of wounded people are in critical conditions, raising the possibility for increased toll in the airstrikes.

Relevant reports said on Tuesday that more than 20 civilians were killed in the US-led coalition air raids in the provinces of Raqqa and Deir Ezzur.

The US-led coalition fighter jets bombed the villages of al-Kashkiyeh and Abu Hamam in Eastern Deir Ezzur, killing 21 civilians and wounding several more.

In the meantime, three civilians were killed in the air raids in Raqqa city.

Also, on Monday, the US-led coalition warplanes bombed heavily the town of al-Mayadeen in Southeastern Deir Ezzur, killing eight civilians and wounding several more.

Also, the warplanes raided the village of al-Sobheh in Eastern Deir Ezzur, killing a number of civilians, including several children.

Full report at:

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13960429000410

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Iraqi forces liberate southern Mosul village from Daesh grip

Jul 20, 2017

Iraqi forces have managed to retake a village, situated south of the recently-liberated city of Mosul, in their latest push to rid the whole country of Daesh terrorists.

Iraqi Police Colonel Kareem Aboud announced on Thursday the full recapture of the Imam Gharbi village by the government forces.

The bodies of two Iraqi journalists, who were executed by militants, were also discovered during the liberation operation, he said, noting that the Iraqi troops were now searching Imam Gharbi for remaining Takfiri elements.

Stripped of Mosul, the Daesh terrorists are now resorting to different tactics to block the Iraqi soldiers’ advances.

The Iraqi forces liberated Imam Gharbi several months ago, but earlier this month, dozens of Daesh militants armed with machine guns and mortars crossed the Tigris River and attacked the village.

An Iraqi security source estimated lately that Daesh held 60 percent of Imam Gharbi.

"The notion of a caliphate is gone. The dream is gone. They will revert back to their old tactics of hit and run attacks," said senior Kurdish official and former Iraqi foreign minister Hoshyar Zebari.

Daesh proclaimed Mosul as its “capital” in Iraq in 2014, when the outfit began a campaign of terror in the Arab country. The Iraqi army soldiers and allied volunteer fighters launched a large-scale, multi-front offensive to liberate Mosul in October 2016. They took control of eastern Mosul in January and launched the battle in the west in February. The more difficult battle was the fight for western Mosul — with its narrow streets and tightly packed Old City. Daesh elements resorted to bombings, sniper fire, and mortar attacks to slow the advances of the Iraqi forces.

Nevertheless, Iraqi forces finally liberated the entire city earlier this month.

Full report at:

http://www.presstv.ir/Detail/2017/07/20/529103/Iraq-Mosul-Daesh

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ISIL Command Centers Smashed by Syrian Ground, Air Forces in Deir Ezzur

Jul 20, 2017

The Syrian army units launched heavy artillery and missile attacks on ISIL hideouts in the western parts of the regions near the Brigade 137, al-Jubaileh, al-Hawiqeh, areas near Panorama and Qeta al-Ta'mineh region, smashing one of the militants' command centers and several of their military vehicles.

A number of ISIL terrorists were also killed in the operation.

Meantime, the Syrian air force heavily pounded the ISIL moves and positions near Deir Ezzur airbase, al-Tharda region and the districts of al-Arafi, al-Arazi, al-Jabileh, al-Sina'ah and al-Hamidiyeh as well as the villages of al-Janineh and al-Jafreh and the regions near the cemetery, inflicting tens of casualties on the terrorists.

Also, the local sources said that several ISIL commanders, including Abdolrazzaq al-Amir, Ahmed al-Amir, Fahad al-Amir and Samer Khalaf al-Nasser al-Mashhadani, have fled the village of Zabiyan and al-Mayadeen city in Eastern Deir Ezzur.

In a relevant development on Wednesday, the Syrian air force carried out a fresh round of combat flights over ISIL-held regions in Deir Ezzur as army troops continued their advances against terrorists in Raqqa and Homs provinces towards Deir Ezzur province.

The army aircraft targeted ISIL's movements and strongholds around of Deir Ezzur airbase, Zamen battalion base, the village of al-Janineh, al-Kanamat passageway, and the neighborhoods of al-Hamidiyeh and al-Sina'ah.

Tens of ISIL terrorists were killed and several positions, vehicles and a large volume of their military equipment were destroyed in the air raids.

In the meantime, local sources in Southeastern Deir Ezzur reported that unknown assailants set fire at one of the media centers of the ISIL near al-Bakreh square in the town of al-Mayadeen.   

Full report at:

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13960429000299

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Syria: More Militants Lay Down Arms

Jul 20, 2017

According to amnesty decree No. 15 for 2016, 11 militants who had earlier resided in the town of Qodsiyeh near Damascus and had recently left the region for Idlib were granted amnesty by the government within the framework of the reconciliation agreement. The militants moved to Hama province after leaving Idlib and surrendered themselves and their arms to the Syrian authorities.

The Russian Defense Ministry announced in its latest report on Wednesday that militants in seven more villages and towns in Homs province handed over their weapons to the Syrian army and joined peace agreement with Damascus government.

The Russian Defense Ministry said that gunmen in seven villages and towns in Homs province surrendered to the army and joined the nationwide reconciliation plan, adding, "The total number of regions, towns, settlements and villages that have thus far ended fight with the Syrian army stands at 2,032."

The ministry added that talks between the army and representatives of the militants are underway in the provinces of Aleppo, Idlib, Damascus, Hama, Homs and Quneitra.

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13960429000274

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Syrian Army Regains Control of 15 Oil, Gas Fields in Raqqa

Jul 20, 2017

The Syrian soldiers engaged in clashes with the terrorists in Southern Raqqa, and retook control of the town and dam of al-Ramilan as well as 15 oil and gas fields in the Eastern parts of Dabisan and the two 1 and 2 pumping stations.

Meantime, the Syrian fighter jets pounded the ISIL positions in the Southern parts of the village of al-Zamleh near al-Ma'adan city in Southern Raqqa.

Also, a military source reported that a large number of terrorists were killed and 7 of their bomb-laden cars, 5 military vehicles and several of their bases were smashed in the operations.

Field sources confirmed on Wednesday that the Syrian army troops have thus far captured large areas in Badiyeh (desert) of Raqqa, inching closer to the Deir Ezzur city that is under the siege of the ISIL terrorists.

The sources said that the Syrian Army has captured a number of energy fields in Southwestern Raqqa, deploying the provincial borders with Homs.

The sources further added that the army soldiers have won back hundreds of square kilometers of lands in the province, and deployed at Mount al-Bushra that was once along the path normally taken by Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the dead ISIL chief.

Full report at:

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13960429000205

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Egypt says it is ‘shameful’ that Qatar not held accountable at United Nations

21 July 2017

Egypt accused Qatar on Thursday of adopting a “pro-terrorist” policy that violated United Nations Security Council resolutions and described it as “shameful” that the 15-member body had not held Qatar accountable.

“It’s crucial for the Security Council to make these countries that don’t respect these resolutions accountable,” Egyptian Deputy UN Ambassador Ihab Awad Moustafa told the council. “For example, the adoption by the Qatar regime of a pro-terrorist policy.” Moustafa told the council that Qatar “believes that the economic interests and the different political orientations will protect them from any accountability vis-a-vis the Security Council because it has violated the resolutions of the council.”

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2017/07/21/Egypt-says-it-is-shameful-that-Qatar-not-held-accountable-at-United-Nations.html

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South Asia

 

Afghanistan includes ‘Bacha Baazi’ sexual abuse of children in revised penal code

Jul 20 2017

The Afghan government has included the sexual abuse of children ‘Bacha Baazi’ crime in its revised penal code.

The Minister of Justice Abdul Basir Anwar informed regarding the inclusion of the crime in the penal code during a press conference in Kabul today.

He said the sexual abuse of children ‘Bach Baazi’ is one of the main crimes included in the revised version of the penal code.

Anwar further added that the revised law has been registered after it was passed by the cabinet of ministers and signed by President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani during the period of around nine months.

The minister of justice also added that reviewing the judicial and criminal code and laws was one of the main commitments made by the government of national unity in London summit on Afghanistan.

The Afghan government for the first time finalized a law to criminalize the bullying and sexual abuse of children ‘Bacha Baazi’ late in February this year.

This comes as numerous reports emerged during the recent years regarding the worsening situation of the children subjected to abuse and bullying.

The issue attracted attention of the global human rights activists as there are concerns regarding the health and mental condition of the victims of the stigma.

The Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission also expressed concerns regarding the mental situation of the victims, saying the majority of the children kept as slave are repeatedly raped.

On the other hand, the international human rights activists are saying that in majority of cases the victims become perpetrators which help the stigma to further continue after they become adults and keep other children as their slaves.

http://www.khaama.com/afghanistan-includes-bacha-baazi-sexual-abuse-of-children-in-revised-penal-code-03184

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Latest political coalitions mainly seeking power share, says Hekmatyar

Jul 20 2017

The leader of Hezb-e-Islami Gulbuddin Hekmatyar in his latest remarks has said the new political coalitions or fronts are formed mainly to seek share in the power.

Hekmatyar made the remarks during a meeting with a group of the youths of the country in his residence.

He said the political leaders should admit their failures and respond to the demands of the people rather blaming each.

According to Hezb-e-Islami leader, the political coalitions should not be formed to counter each other and stand against each other but must have specific perspectives and slogans which should not reflect their personal interests.

Hekmatyar further added that Hezb-e-Islami will support any movement or coalition that is formed for bring peace and stability, end the violence and conflict, and ensure the Islamic values are protected.

He once again called on the political leaders for unity and ending the differences in a bid to take the county out of a deadlock.

The Hezb-e-Islami leader also insisted that only Afghans can resolve the differences and issues among each other and there should be no expectations from the outsiders and neighbors to assist in this regard.

Hekmatyar also called on the youths of the country to step efforts for bring peace and stability and unity in the country.

Full report at:

http://www.khaama.com/latest-political-coalitions-mainly-seeking-power-share-says-hekmatyar-03186

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Two Afghan policemen killed as Taliban ambush convoy

July 21, 2017

At least two Afghan policemen were killed and three others injured after the Taliban militants ambushed a police convoy, said Afghan officials.

Taliban spokesman Qari Yusuf claimed that 36 policemen were killed in Thursday's attack, in the country's volatile Kandahar province, but insurgents routinely exaggerate their gains and casualties among government forces.

Police spokesman Zia Durrani says the attack triggered a protracted firefight that lasted nine hours.

Durrani claimed after the firefight was over, bodies of several Taliban fighters still lay by the roadside at the site of the attack at Shah Wali Kot, located about 80 kilometers from the city of Kandahar, the capital of a southern province by the same name.

Kandahar is strategically important because it borders Pakistan and was the spiritual heartland of the Taliban.

http://nation.com.pk/international/20-Jul-2017/two-afghan-policemen-killed-as-taliban-ambush-convoy

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Malaysia detains Bangladesh rights activist Adilur Rahman at airport

 2017-07-20

He landed at the Kuala Lumpur airport around 4am local time to attend a conference, said Odhikar Director Nasiruddin Elan.

"The immigration police are not letting him leave the airport," he told bdnews24.com.

Forum-Asia, a Bangkok-based rights organisation, has called for the lawyer's release.

"As of now, no reasons have been given for his detention,” it said in a statement.

Suara Rakyat Malaysia, a Malaysian Forum-Asia member, was informed that he has been moved into an immigration lock-up, according to the statement.

Adilur and Elan face trial in Bangladesh for distorting facts over the 2013 Hifazat-e Islam demonstration in Dhaka's Motijheel.

The two have been charged with distorting facts and presenting false evidence against security forces.

An Odhikar report claimed 61 people had been killed during the raid by police and other security forces at Motijheel’s Shapla Chattar, where Hifazat supporters launched an indefinite sit-in protest.

The report allegedly distorted facts, doctored pictures used in reports with the help of Photoshop and passed off a living person as dead.

Police claimed there were no casualties during the action.

Adilur, who served as a deputy attorney general during the BNP-Jamaat regime, had been behind bars for some time until securing bail from the Supreme Court.

Bangladesh police said there was no Interpol notice over him.

"As far as I know, there’s no Interpol request to detain Adilur Rahman Khan," Assistant Inspector General Mahbubur Rahman of Interpol's Dhaka National Central Bureau told bdnews24.com.

“The Malaysian authorities must immediately and unconditionally release Adilur Rahman Khan and allow him to participate in and speak at the conference,” London-based Amnesty International said in a statement on Thursday.

ames Gomez, Amnesty International’s director for Southeast Asia and the Pacific, said: “There is no justification for detaining him whatsoever. It is an outrage that a human rights activist cannot even travel freely to speak on a key human rights issue.”  “Moreover, we understand that he still has not been given access to legal advice and is at risk of being deported.”

He suspected that this arrest and detention was the latest target “in a growing trend to impose travel bans on human rights defenders entering Malaysia.”

Khan’s detention is the latest in a series of cases where peaceful activists have been barred from entering the country, including Hong Kong political activist Joshua Wong, Indonesian human rights defender Mugiyanto Sipin and Singaporean political activist Han Hui Hui, according to the statement.

Anti-Death Penalty Asia Network, the organisers of the conference, said Khan was the only foreign participant not allowed into the country.

Full report at:

http://bdnews24.com/bangladesh/2017/07/20/malaysia-detains-bangladesh-rights-activist-adilur-rahman-at-airport

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West Bengal tries to derail Indo-Bangla good relations

July 20, 2017

'If there are small tensions, like the Teesta river water sharing issue, ironically Ms Banerjee is the problem, and certainly not Delhi'

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s recent pronouncements are causing the  Government of India acute embarrassment in the conduct of foreign relations with  Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal and China. Delhi-based diplomatic sources point out that the major reason for Ms Banerjee’s  latest outbursts against the BJP-ruled Government is the near breakdown of her own government – whether in administration, governance or in  maintaining communal harmony.

Recent developments involving the Union Government and West Bengal tell their own story. Worse, they reveal a surprising lack of minimal coordination required in intergovernmental communication and federal coordination.

A senior Central Intelligence branch officer, attending a  90-minute long high level meeting in Kolkata attended by Ms Banerjee herself, specifically replied to certain charges laid against the central agencies. More importantly, he made it clear that “there was no Bangladeshi hand” in the recent outbreak of prolonged communal violence in Baduria, Basirhat and other areas of North 24 Parganas. No Bangladeshi had crossed the border illegally to create a communal mayhem in India, he said, specifically in the context of Baduria.

This was a direct contradiction of a pointed charge made by Ms Banerjee against what she described as “efforts made by Bangladeshi fundamentalists in collusion with local miscreants” to spark communal fires in West Bengal – a reference to the Baduria violence, which cost one life and caused much loss of property. The Bangladeshis had been allowed entry over “a free border,” aided and abetted by India’s own BSF, she had alleged. Most had escaped, but Bengal police were looking for some who had stayed back. They would be arrested soon.

Mr Manoj Singh, representing the central IB, not only shot down this version, but added that in recent times, there had  been  hardly any significant  infiltration from Bangladesh.

The Centre’s reply to another allegation levelled by Ms Banerjee was equally embarrassing for the Bengal chief minister. According to the latter, Chinese was being taught in 400 schools in the Pasupatinath area, “close to the borders of Darjeeling.” Talking to newsmen, she asked angrily, “What is our IB, RAW, the NIA and other agencies are doing? Even we know all this, what are they doing?”

She went on to ask what would happen if China took over Sikkim? “West Bengal would be sandwiched and the chicken’s neck corridor would be threatened, the present Indian Government has antagonised Nepal, Bangladesh, Bhutan  and China by its actions,” she said.

The  centre’s reply to the state Government was as elaborate as it was convincing. It was pointed out that Pasupatinath in Nepal was at least 35 miles away from Darjeeling, quite a long distance by hilly terrain standards and certainly nowhere near its border! And the population and economic profile of Pasupatinath simply could not sustain as many as “400 schools teaching Nepalese children Chinese!”

Border Security Force sources also dismissed the state Government’s charge of having “aided and abetted Bangladeshi communalists who had crossed over the border illegally.” No such incident had occurred, they said. According to their reports, local cattle smugglers were behind the armed attack on certain communities, a reaction to their anger against the  official  ban on the illegal sale of cows.

Even as analysts wondered about Ms Banerjee’s reasons for pulling up India for what she felt was a failure of its foreign relations in its own South Asian neighbourhood, they pointed out  that her facts were not correct. India’s relations with Bangladesh were very cordial and ditto for Bhutan, contrary to what the state chief minister said. “If there are small tensions, like the Teesta river water sharing issue, ironically Ms Banerjee is the problem, and certainly not Delhi,” says one analyst.

The question arises, why is Ms Banerjee making what are obviously unfounded allegations against the BJP-ruled Centre. The Union Home Ministry and the BSF apart, even the Ministry of External Affairs has had to step in to set the records straight in response to some of her comments.

During the usual sessions of the Parliamentary Sub-committees, assigned official spokesmen of different departments confidentially brief MPs belonging to various parties and clarify the Government’s position on critical issues. Recently, a TMC MP referred to certain views expressed by Ms Banerjee on India’s foreign affairs. The official, instead of responding at length, ruled out any explanation but added, “Such comments certainly do not make things easy for us, or India.” For good measure, he urged upon the TMC MP to keep his leader (Ms Banerjee) informed.

Observers do not think that Ms Banerjee who raises sensitive issues involving diplomacy and foreign relations the public domain deliberately to embarrass the ruling party at the centre, will change her behaviour or observe the unwritten conventions of governance.

Full report at:

http://www.dhakatribune.com/bangladesh/foreign-affairs/2017/07/20/west-bengal-tries-derail-indo-bangla-good-relations/

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Taliban insurgents suffer casualties in US drone strike in Nangarhar

Jul 20 2017

The Taliban insurgents suffered casualties in an airstrike conducted by the US forces in eastern Nangarhar province of Afghanistan, the local officials said Thursday.

The airstrike was carried out late on Wednesday night using Unmanned Aerial Vehicle, drone, in Lalpur district.

The provincial government media office in a statement confirmed the airstrike on the Taliban insurgents.

The statement further added that five Taliban insurgents were killed and another militant was wounded in the airstrike.

A foreign militant fighting for the Taliban insurgents was also among those killed, the statement  said, adding that the security forces and local residents did not suffer any casualties in the airstrike.

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

Nangarhar is among the relatively calm provinces in eastern Afghanistan but the anti-government armed militant groups have recently increased their insurgency activities in some parts of the province during the recent years.

This comes as an anti-ISIS operation is underway in Nangarhar to eliminate the presence of ISIS affiliates in this province.

Full report at:

http://www.khaama.com/taliban-insurgents-suffer-casualties-in-us-drone-strike-in-nangarhar-03188

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Six rockets land near Sayyaf’s residence in Kabul

Jul 20 2017

At least six rockets landed near the residence of Abdul Rab Rasool Sayyaf, the former Afghan lawmaker and one of the prominent political and Jihadi leaders of the country.

Sources close to Sayyaf said the incident took place earlier today in Paghman district after six rockets fired from unknown location landed in the vicinity close to Sayyaf’s house.

The sources further added that the attack has not incurred any casualties or damages to any property.

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

This comes as Sayyaf’s residence came under a similar attack late in May last year without incurring casualties.

Several rockets were also fired on the residence of Sayyaf earlier in May last year but the attack did not result into any casualties.

Sayyaf is one of the most influential jihadi leaders and has been harshly criticizing the Taliban group for their insurgency activities.

He has been harshly criticizing the Taliban militants group and dismiss their so called jihad as a move against th principles of Islam.

Sayyaf reaffirmed his hard stance against the insurgent groups last month last month during a gathering on the eve of Mujahideen’s victory and called on militant groups last month to end slavery for the outsiders.

Full report at:

http://www.khaama.com/six-rockets-land-near-sayyafs-residence-in-kabul-03187

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