New Age Islam News Bureau
5 Oct 2015
Muslim cleric Abu Bakar Bashir was sentenced to 15 years for funding terrorism activities and running a military training camp. Source: Getty Images
• Security Alert as Indonesians Heed Islamic State’s Jihad Call
• Speed Dating Goes ‘Halal’ In Muslim-Majority Malaysia
• Malaysian PM Calls for ‘New Dawn’ In Muslim-Jewish Relations
• For some Muslims, life in Malaysia is like living under a microscope
• At Mara seminar, Putrajaya pleads with showbiz players to defend Islam, Malaysia
• In UN address, Malaysia says awareness of true Islam can counter extremists’ ‘twisted narrative’
• Compassion, not Islam, the reason to accept Syrians
• Mufti stands by remarks on political strength and Muslim unity
• No sign of Kedah IS recruitment centre, say police
• ISIS Blows Up 2,000-Year-Old the Arch of Triumph in Syrian City of Palmyra
• 52 Saudi Clerics, Scholars Call to Battle Russian Forces in Syria
• Militants Start Withdrawing Forces from Syria’s Idlib amid Russian Airstrikes
• Iraqi Kurdistan Region Welcomes Russian Support for Anti-ISIL War
• UK blasts Russia ‘asymmetric warfare’ in Syria
• Assad says Russian air campaign vital to save Middle East
• Two Egyptian policemen shot dead by ISIS in Sinai
• Russia says its planes struck 10 ISIS targets in Syria
• Hundreds of Takfiris Killed, Injured in Aleppo
• Some 700 Terrorists Give up Fight, Surrender to Syrian Authorities
• Egypt FM supports Russian strikes against terrorists in Syria
• Taliban’s New Leader Strengthens His Hold with Intrigue and Battlefield Victory
• NDS Officials in Khost Arrest Haqqani Commander in Burqa
• A List of Deadly Attacks Claimed By Islamic Extremists in Bangladesh
• 15 militants killed, wounded in anti-Daesh operation in Nangarhar
• Leaders say BNP doesn’t want to be bracketed with Jamaat
• Security forces rebuff Taliban attack on Faryab’s capital ‘Maimana’
• Bangladesh Grapples With Islamist Militancy
• US for joint efforts to address extremism: US Ambassador in Bangladesh
• Bangladesh PM Hasina smells link of BNP-Jamaat
• Middle East Would Be More Stable With Saddam, Gaddafi Still In Power
• ‘IS Not Associated With Islam’ Say 150 Bengaluru Imams
• Terrorists Kill 4 Army Jawans in J&K; Encounter On
• Dadri lynching: Don't punish any innocent for Akhlaq, brother says
• The Muslim 500: Most influential Indian Muslims in the world
• In Dadri, BJP legislator Sangeet Som warns: ‘Befitting reply if innocents framed’
• J&K: Top JeM militant, aide killed in Pulwama encounter
• Dadri incident: 20 lakh for Muslim's death, but Hindu doesn't even get 20000, says Sakshi Maharaj
• Indian-American Muslim Council condemns lynching
• Jirga Demands Repatriation of Sipah Tribe to Native Areas
• Daesh Bigger Threat than Qaeda: COAS
• Pioneer of Suicide Attacks, Saifur Rehman Saifi, Dies in Blast
• Even ISIS' shadow won't be allowed in Pakistan: Raheel Sharif
• TTP says hanged military officer as revenge for executions
• Ulema’s co-op sought to ensure peace
• Erdogan’s ‘Anti-Terrorism’ Rally in France Draws Thousands
• Thousands Visit German Mosques Open Day
• Muslim Brotherhood Statement on Iran-Russia Invasion of Syria
• Last UK resident in Gitmo on hunger strike
• Spain, Morocco arrest suspected ISIS recruiters
• Merkel says military efforts needed in Syria but they won’t end war
• Israel Bars Palestinians from Entering Jerusalem Old City
• Yemen's Defense Ministry Confirms Repelling Saudi Aggression on Bab Al-Mandab
• Tens of Terrorists Killed In Clashes with Yemeni Popular Forces
• Muslims must keep vigilant against Saudi crimes: Iran's defense minister
• Israelis kill 3 Palestinians, injure 400 in West Bank: PRCS
• Turkey says Russian warplane violated its airspace
• Tunisia Joining US-Led Coalition against Daesh
• Boko Haram Targets Islam Cleric’s Son for Converting to Christianity
• Kano Emir: Nigerians Will Skip Jamaraat in Future
• Militants loyal to ISIS claim suicide bombings in Nigerian capital
• U.N. envoy warns: Libya deal has to be signed now
• Bodies of 95 refugees wash up on Libya shores
Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau
Security Alert as Indonesians Heed Islamic State’s Jihad Call
THE AUSTRALIAN OCTOBER 03, 2015
Islamic State appears to be edging closer to our doorstep with the emergence of new cells mushrooming in Indonesia, seemingly without intervention.
Terrorism specialist Rohan Gunaratna, who heads the Singapore-based International Centre for Political Violence and Terrorism Research, warns of emerging terror units and individual jihadists who have pledged allegiance to the self-proclaimed caliph of Islamic State, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, or support to the group.
Members of rival al-Qa’ida affiliated Jemaah Islamiah and Jabhat al-Nusra, also known as al-Nusra Front, have defected to Islamic State in droves, with profound implications for security in the region, particularly Australia, which is part of the US-led coalition fighting to defeat Islamic State in the Middle East.
“The JI network in Australia remained intact until the first Bali bombing that killed 202 people, including 88 Australians. It was disrupted only after the bombing. Today, IS Australia and IS Indonesia are intertwined,” Gunaratna says.
Pointing to several terror plots recently disrupted in Malaysia and Indonesia, he warns that Islamic State’s Malay Archipelago arm, Katibah Nusantara, responsible for Southeast Asian operations, has garnered substantial support. “It’s a question of time before this group prepares attacks in this region,” Gunaratna says.
Dominated by about 500 Islamic State jihadists from Indonesia and 200 from Malaysia, the group operates Indonesian training camps in Central Sulawesi in the terrorist stronghold of Poso and Central and East Java.
But heightened security in those areas has accelerated flights to Syria and Iraq, and repositioned training.
Indonesian Islamic State supporter Budi Waluyo talks of training going underground. Until recently, he was one of 800 to 1000 supporters to meet regularly at the Central Jakarta al-Fataa mosque. All have pledged allegiance to Islamic State, also known as ISIS, and Baghdadi and seek to go to Syria.
Situated in the well-heeled diplomatic area of Menteng, the mosque was used to recruit people until security and al-Fataa’s committee moved them on. Now at the Islamic Centre in Bekasi, on the outskirts of East Jakarta, they freely proselytise.
“Police won’t disturb us inside (the mosque) because we have a right to our ideology under the Indonesian constitution,” Budi, 42, tells Inquirer. He says 20 supporters have passports ready to travel to Syria and about 70 friends have already gone. “We are not afraid to fight against Americans or Australians face to face,’’ he says.
He will go at the first opportunity, and take his two wives and seven children, he says. “I have heard people are rich, they have a good life in Syria. But money is not the main purpose, an Islamic caliphate is.”
The fear is that seasoned jihadist returnees will use their deadly combat skills and expertise to launch domestic attacks, thus fulfilling the goal of the movement Darul Islam (House of Islam), which has wanted to establish an Islamic state of Indonesia since 1948.
A pro-Islamic State website announcing Katibah Nusantara’s establishment last year declared the group was being primed for the regeneration of the caliphate in Malaysia and Indonesia, according to Gunaratna’s International Centre for Political Violence and Terrorism Research. The centre has detected at least 70 Indonesian-language websites, noting the group has called for snipers, explosives and heavy weapons experts, and strategy and military leadership experts. Anti-terror specialist Sidney Jones, from the Jakarta-based Institute for Policy Analysis of Conflict, acknowledges there is a moderate threat in Indonesia, although she predicts it will be short term.
“I do think we are going to see more violence,” she says. “You don’t know when and you can’t predict that. There are too many people around with an interest in doing that. But so far they haven’t been very good at what they planned.’’
Authorities have prevented terror plots, mostly targeting police, in the past few years.
“The risk could increase substantially in the medium to long term as people come back from Syria, if they do, and as the domestic and regional political situation shifts,” Jones says.
“As long as Indonesia is stable, democratic and not racked by any internal conflict I don’t think there’s a huge risk of serious prolonged terrorist attacks.”
The shroud of secrecy instilled in the returned jihadists to date is hampering inquiries. Unwilling to talk and fearing for their lives, what little detail there is usually comes from social media. But a sense of disillusionment is notable among some.
“Many have sold everything they had, they are coming back in a way humiliated, especially if they have been deported,” Jones says. “Some have returned at great risk because ISIS regards those people as deserters. If you’ve joined, you’re not free to leave.”
Undoubtedly, the pull of Islamic State is gaining momentum, admits Jakarta police chief Tito Karnavian, former commander of anti-terror squad Detachment 88.
“After JI has been mostly neutralised … ISIS is inspiring and motivating Islamist radical groups that would be otherwise laying low,” Karnavian says.
In Indonesia’s favour is a surprising lack of regional Islamic State finance, despite the group reportedly being well funded.
Ramped-up security, supported by the Australian Federal Police since the first Bali bombings, has enabled hundreds of arrests of Islamist terrorists. Authorities have foiled at least 10 plots in Indonesia in the past two years.
The first chemical, chlorine-based explosion in February at a Muslim-owned shopping mall in Depok, south of Jakarta, failed because of a technical glitch. Karnavian blames Islamic State, comparing identical chemical compounds, in small quantities, to those used recently in Syria, but no arrests have been made yet.
Working closely with the AFP and intelligence agencies, Karnavian insists no links, such as JI’s Australian arm, Mantiqi 4, operating in the late 1990s before the Bali bombings, have been discovered between the two countries.
Concern predominantly is focusing on Indonesia’s lack of a legal mechanism to criminalise and enforce action against designated or proscribed terrorist groups. Gunaratna urges Indonesia to adopt a multi-pronged approach: intercept travel to Syria, dismantle social media sites, detect militant returnees and disrupt funding. It’s not a new appeal. Moderate Muslims are unwilling to clamp down on jihadism, radical websites and blogs amid a misconception their still-fledgling democracy would suffer a setback.
Of 22 radical websites blocked by the National Counter Terrorism Agency in March almost all have reopened after outraged Islamist organisations protested against a lack of free speech.
Calling for a zero-tolerance approach, Gunaratna says Indonesia must introduce tough laws to crack down on those promoting or providing support to Islamic State, recruiting or disseminating radical propaganda on hundreds of social media websites.
Jones concedes social media is a potent tool, but Indonesians still are being recruited face-to-face.
“Social media has never been a major recruiting mechanism in Indonesia; face-to-face contacts (usually in religious discussion groups, radical mosques and pesantrens) are more important,” Jones says. “It (social media) serves as a reinforcing tool once recruitment has taken place and is very important for day-to-day information about what’s happening on the front.”
Though many consider Facebook too exposed, it is used for online training among supporters’ inner circles, says Badrus Sholeh, head of international relations, social and political science at Jakarta’s Syarif Hidayatullah State Islamic University.
“They listen to preachers like Aman Abdurrahman,” Indonesia’s most influential Islamic State ideologue, who from his Nuskambangan prison in Central Java promulgates hate propaganda and translations from Baghdadi.
Despite a ban on Islamic State, authorities cannot detain jihadists on their return from Syria and Iraq or revoke their citizenship.
“The government has not yet issued a regulation to withdraw the citizenship of those who join ISIS,” says Arief Darmawan, deputy director of the National Counter-Terrorism Agency.
“We are proposing a revision of the terrorism law to prosecute militants who join ISIS or other terrorist groups.”
However, parliamentary and human rights discord over a revision of the 2003 anti-terror legislation has consigned the issue to the backburner.
“This is the country with the most Muslims. If you want to win the election, you have to win the vote from the Muslims,” says Karnavian. “Even talking from the negative side of Islamist terrorist groups, it could be easily twisted by political opponents. It’s always a major problem.”
Only after the Bali bombings brought national and international pressure did the government pass anti-terror legislation in 2003, but not without internal bitterness. Despite the tensions, President Joko Widodo is pushing to strengthen the National Counter-Terror Agency and aiming to crack down on terror groups, including in Central Sulawesi, home of one of the most wanted terrorists, Santoso, who is part of the movement seeking to establish an Islamic state.
According to the Religious Affairs Ministry, 30 to 35 jihadic pesantrens (Islamic boarding schools) with up to 1000 students are operating unimpeded.
At Pesantren al-Islam in Lamongan, East Java, founded by the Bali bombers, students were taught bomb-making skills as an extra-curricular subject from the age of about 12. Teachers joined the classes. A crackdown reportedly has been imposed.
The Bali bombers’ alma mater, Al-Mukmin Ngruki pesantren, in Solo, Central Java, co-founded by jailed radical cleric Abu Bakar Bashir, is the most notorious JI-affiliated school.
JI’s indoctrination and training programs are stricter and more extensive than those of Islamic State. But the objective is the same. Students leave hardline pesantrens with the clear intention of doing jihad. They don’t want to wait, so they transfer to Islamic State, says Sholeh.
Numbers for Indonesians fighting with Islamic State and al-Nusra in Syria and Iraq vary. Karnavian declares 350; Gunaratna says more than 200 names are known to authorities, with about 600 fighters and families in Syria and many crossing from al-Nusra.
University of Indonesia intelligence and terrorism expert Wawan Purwanto cites more than 800, with 100 in Iraq. Darmawan, who estimates 500, admits exact numbers are unknown. “We also do not know how many Indonesians have returned home, but we know that 76 were deported.” Most were deported from Turkey, where the border has tightened, some from Malaysia, and 52 have been killed, according to police.
Islamic State has lured many whose jobs inadvertently interconnect, such as prison guards and Southeast Asian military, including Indonesians. But significant fundraising in Indonesia has not been detected, Karnavian says.
Jones agrees: “People going to Syria are paying their own way. There isn’t money being raised … for operations here (in Indonesia). We have no evidence of any outside funding coming in. Why do you need money from overseas? It’s not expensive to do a bombing here.” Indeed, chemicals are notoriously cheap, but how stringent sale regulations are is unclear.
“A lot of black market chemicals are in Jakarta,” says Sholeh. “Even something like the Bali bomb (could easily be assembled), but police are now good at detecting terrorists’ movements.”
Fundraising at monthly mosque meetings amasses at least $US2000, so money from Islamic State’s 20 mosques in Jakarta and outer regions is substantial.
At a recent Islamic State meeting in Solo, Sholeh observed $US4500 being raised after a visiting Papuan Muslim preacher stoked simmering sectarian Christian-Muslim tensions — a tactic typically used to incite and get people to dig deeper into their pockets.
“Probably in about two or three years an attack will happen, especially if the (US- led) coalition attacks ISIS brutally. They will take revenge in the same way Osama bin Laden did.’’
The allure of radicalism can also be tracked to a few thousand Indonesian students in Yemen, Egypt, Sudan, Morocco, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, mostly from JI families.
And some educated Indonesians go to Syria because of a conviction it’s a pure Islamic state and, as Muslims, they are obligated to go.
Australia is a natural target for Islamic extremists, Karnavian says. “But you are accommodating asylum-seekers, including those coming from the conflict areas. The main ones today are from the Muslim world: Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq. They are seeking asylum but … they still have this emotional connection with the Muslim world.”
Speed Dating Goes ‘Halal’ In Muslim-Majority Malaysia
October 5, 2015
KUALA LUMPUR (Oct 5): Dressed in a headscarf and full-length robe, 24-year-old Nurnadille Edlena takes notes intently as the man before her introduces himself.
The two are at Halal Speed Dating, a new matchmaking event in Kuala Lumpur that is helping Malaysian Muslims find partners in a largely conservative society where courtship is frowned upon and marriages are often arranged.
The dating service is halal, meaning permissible under Islamic law, as it is practised with an Islamic twist: women speed daters must be chaperoned by a wali, or guardian until she gets married and who grants her the permission to do so.
"I brought my parents as they are the best people who can guide me to find someone," said Nurnadille.
"I'm focusing on finding someone who can willingly accept me for who I am."
Malaysia is a largely moderate Muslim country, where Islam is the official religion and ethnic Malay Muslims make up two thirds of the 30 million people.
Many young Malaysians meet as young people do in many places, including through the dating app Tinder and on Facebook, but dating is complicated for young Muslims in Malaysia, where public displays of affection and intimacy before marriage is strictly disapproved of.
Halal Speed Dating's founders say most of their clients hope to find a spouse. A client can shortlist up to three possible partners but can only negotiate marriage with one at a time, in accordance with Islamic rules.
"Halal Speed Dating is the anti-Tinder," co-founders Zuhri Yuhyi, 34, and Norhayati Ismail, 41, said in a release, referring to the US-based dating app that has gained a reputation for free and easy match-making.
"Instead of casual hookups, Halal Speed Dating is about dignified and chaperoned meet-ups with the intention of marriage. In fact, we do not condone the modern dating that is commonly practiced."
They say their system can prevent what they see as the social ills of premarital sex and adultery, which they believe are fostered by apps like Tinder.
Norhayati say it is not just Muslims who are interested in their system and making inquires.
"I can tell people are looking for something new," she said.
The founders have organised the event twice in Kuala Lumpur. The first time in May when about 80 people joined, and the second time last week with 60 hopefuls.
About 2,300 people have signed up to attend a session, most of them urban professionals between the ages of 25 to 35.
Mohamad Fauzan, 26, who helps to run his family business in Kuala Lumpur, halal speed dating provides another option in his quest to find true love.
"I've done online dating and gone on blind dates, but in our religion, going halal is the better thing to do. It's better to first get the permission of the parents, but I'm open to all options," he said.
Malaysian PM calls for ‘new dawn’ in Muslim-Jewish relations
October 3, 2015
The prime minister of Malaysia, appealing to Israel to tamp down Temple Mount tensions, quoted Jewish sage Hillel and called for a “new dawn” in Muslim-Jewish relations.
“Given the Rosh Hashanah violations of al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem and aggression against its worshipers three weeks ago, I call on the Israeli government to live up to Judaism’s highest ethical principles, and the essential message of the Torah as succinctly expressed by the first century B.C. sage Hillel,” said Najib Razak, addressing the United Nations General Assembly opening on Thursday.
“When asked to describe the Torah in a soundbite, [Hillel] said: ‘That which is hateful to you, don’t do to your fellow human being,’” Razak said. “This dictum, known universally in all religions as the Golden Rule, could herald the dawn of a much needed revised relationship between Muslims and Jews.”
Israel rejects charges that it is behind the tensions on the Temple Mount, known to Muslims as Haram al-Sharif and holy to both faiths. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, speaking not long before Razak, blamed Palestinians for inciting the recent tensions by misrepresenting Israeli actions.
On Friday protesters in Malaysian capital Kuala Lumpur demonstrated against Israeli actions in the Temple Mount, Iran’s Fars news agency reported. Rally-goers waved Palestinian flags and placards calling to “Free Palestine.”
Since capturing the Temple Mount in the 1967 Six Day War Israel has observed a “status quo” that allows Jews to visit the mount, adjacent to the Western Wall, but not worship there. Palestinians claim Israel is allowing Jewish groups to enter the mount to worship; Israel says Palestinians at the site have been increasingly aggressive toward Jews who are merely visiting.
“Currently Israel has forced its authority over Islam’s third holiest site – in defiance of the jurisdiction of King Abdullah of Jordan, the lawful Custodian,” Razak said. “It is therefore Israel’s duty to facilitate Muslims from around the world to visit. For this is an aspiration that all devout Muslims harbor and pray to be able to realize in their lifetime.”
Despite Razak’s criticisms, it was notable for a Malaysian leader to speak positively about Judaism and to recognize Israel as a legitimate interlocutor. Malaysia is a formally Muslim state and some of Razak’s predecessors were hostile to Israel and to Jews.
For some Muslims, life in Malaysia is like living under a microscope
BY BOO SU-LYN
October 5, 2015
KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 5 — Several Muslims say Islamic laws should not be used to regulate their personal lives in areas like sex, what they eat, or even what they read, after a publisher failed to challenge at the Federal Court a Shariah enactment used to seize a book on Islam.
Communications manager Ahmad Ariff Azmi, 27, who is currently living in Australia, noted that Muslims in Malaysia suffer from restrictions, such as identifying with alternative schools of thought as religious authorities only allow the practice of the Shafi’i school.
“I don’t think faith needs a regulatory authority,” Ahmad Ariff told Malay Mail Online, when asked if Shariah laws should not regulate areas like praying, drinking, dressing or having sex.
“There are too much politicking and corruption rife in Malaysian governance that can also be found with the individuals governing these religious institutions. It is Allah’s law; you as the individual have to self-regulate and interpret within yourself to what you think will please the Creator and ultimately gain your eternal salvation,” he added.
Malay Mail Online polled half a dozen Malaysian-Muslims living here and overseas, most of whom said a Muslim’s personal life should not be regulated by the state, even as Shariah laws across the country mandate fines and imprisonment for things like skipping prayers, not fasting during Ramadan, or even caning for adultery or consuming alcohol.
Different freedom for Muslims and non-Muslims
Bar Council constitutional law committee chair Firdaus Husni said the freedom for Muslims and non-Muslims “differs in varying degrees” due to different existing regulations and restrictions.
She noted that there are permissible restrictions to one’s freedom to speech and expression, such as Article 11(4) of the Federal Constitution that allows the enactment of laws to control the “propagation of any religious doctrine or belief among persons professing the religion of Islam”.
“It is however important to note that following from a string of decided cases, it has been held that while one’s fundamental rights under the Federal Constitution must be interpreted generously, any permitted restriction to an individual’s constitutionally guaranteed freedom must be read restrictively,” Firdaus told Malay Mail Online.
Former law minister Datuk Zaid Ibrahim lamented Tuesday that Muslims in Malaysia do not enjoy constitutional liberties, following the apex court’s decision to uphold the constitutionality of Section 16 of the Shariah Criminal Offences (Selangor) Enactment 1995 that makes it a crime for Muslims to publish publications deemed to be against Islamic law.
The court ruling means that ZI Publications director Ezra Zaid will have to stand trial in the Shariah court, who faces a fine not exceeding RM3,000 or two years’ prison, or both, if he is found guilty under Section 16(1) of the Selangor Shariah law.
ZI Publications and Ezra had challenged the Shariah law after Selangor religious authorities seized from their office in 2012 180 copies of “Allah, Kebebasan dan Cinta”, a Malay translation of Irshad Manji’s book titled “Allah, Liberty and Love”. Manji is a Canadian Muslim journalist, who’s also a lesbian feminist.
Production manager Hazily Hariss said he felt that Muslims in Malaysia have less freedom than non-Muslims, pointing to “most” Malaysian Muslims who want to be “perfect” Muslims and who try to Arabicise everything.
“And for that reason, the ones in power put everyone else under a microscope to make sure we obey their rules and ideals,” Hazily, 28, told Malay Mail Online.
He also said Muslims should not be regulated in areas like consuming alcohol, or how they pray, dress, or have sex, stressing that “everything and anything a person does is between them and God”.
Should be free to read anything
Haslinah Yacob, who is pursuing a Master’s in counselling, said Muslims should be free to read any book on religion, be it Islam or other faiths.
“The Quran tells us to think...not to follow blindly. That is what I am doing. I want to see available literatures. If no religion can withstand being ‘picked /analysed’, then it is the wrong one,” Haslinah, 54, told Malay Mail Online.
She cited Chapter 10, verse 100 of the Quran that states: “And it is not for a soul to believe except by permission of Allah, and He will place defilement upon those who will not use reason”.
Economics student Adam, who is currently studying in Australia, said Shariah law should not regulate any “personal” matters.
“More pressing matters like disputes in marriage contracts, laws of business transactions and the likes are more necessary matters that should be regulated by Shariah law,” said Adam (a pseudonym).
The 24-year-old Malaysian Muslim also questioned Article 11(4) of the Federal Constitution, one of the provisions used in the Federal Court ruling on the Ezra case, that states that laws can be enacted to “control or restrict the propagation of any religious doctrine or belief” among Muslims.
“Why shouldn’t we allow propagation of any religious doctrine or belief?” he said. “I should be confident enough in my knowledge of my own religion to know that questions that MIGHT arise from said propagations are questions asked to strengthen one’s faith, not to weaken it.”
Own way of enforcing Islam
Blogger Shahirah Elaiza Wan Hassan, 28, who is currently living in New Zealand, said Muslims in Malaysia have as much freedom as non-Muslims to pursue an education, to work, or to live peacefully.
“Every Islamic country has its own way of implementing Islam and incorporating Islam into the governance of a country. Furthermore, every Muslim individual is going to have their own personal journey. It’s important to accept nuances in the way Islam is practiced by everyday, flawed human beings,” Shahirah Elaiza, who is doing a Master’s in media studies, told Malay Mail Online.
She also stressed that people should not be prohibited from reading books or materials that critique Islam, noting the accessibility to such ideas on the internet.
“I personally believe texts or individuals that challenge our beliefs (in a respectful manner) can help strengthen our faith as Muslims and even correct our understanding of Islam while helping us to keep an open mind, especially in terms of understanding nuances in the way Islam is practiced and of course, the way other faiths are practiced too,” she said.
Gay Muslims restricted
Tnassri (a pseudonym), however, said he is restricted by “so many” rules and fears the unknown as a Muslim gay man.
“Gay clubs used to get raided on a higher rate compared to non-gay clubs, which now has led to there being only one gay bar left,” Tnassri, a 30-year-old who works in PR, told Malay Mail Online.
“The rate of HIV gay men is at an all time high and majority of them are Malay men. Why? Because of religion. They fear they will be condemned for being who they are that they choose to do normal adult things in hiding and don’t even want to get tested regularly, in fear that people will know they are gay,” he added.
Religious authorities should “act like decent human beings and not interfere in people’s private affairs”, according to Tnassri.
“Islam shouldn’t be forced onto an individual,” he said.
At Mara seminar, Putrajaya pleads with showbiz players to defend Islam, Malaysia
BY ZURAIRI AR
October 2, 2015
KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 2 — Creative industry players should help Putrajaya to “defend” Islam and Malaysia against alleged attacks by foreign media, Communications and Multimedia Ministry deputy secretary-general Datuk Mohid Mohamed said today.
While launching a seminar on Shariah-compliant entertainment jointly-organised by Majlis Amanah Rakyat (Mara), Mohid said the industry can help produce media contents such as TV shows and films as a response to deflect the attacks.
“I urge the creative industry who are in this hall to join the effort to help the authorities in tackling foreign attacks and threats through media that cause uncomfortable and uneasy feelings towards the religion and country.
“We should publish and produce good media contents that can deflect these attacks,” Mohid said in his speech.
Mohid said his ministry will continue supporting the local industry in order to reduce Malaysia’s dependence on foreign-sourced content.
The two-day seminar starting today was also organised by Putrajaya-backed Institute of Islamic Strategic Research Malaysia (Iksim) that was formed last year.
In booklets distributed to participants, Iksim said among its core strategies are to spread awareness of Islam as “the religion of the country”, and to warn the public against secularism, liberalism and pluralism.
Mara and Iksim also launched a guideline on Shariah-compliant entertainment today that was also distributed to participants.
Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak is currently under fire from foreign media over a money trail that showed US$700 million being channelled into what appeared to be his accounts.
Umno Supreme Council member Datuk Seri Mohd Sharkar Shamsuddin had suggested in July that allegations of graft against Najib through the foreign media was an attempt to weaken the Muslim community in the country.
In UN address, Malaysia says awareness of true Islam can counter extremists’ ‘twisted narrative’
October 5, 2015
1 October 2015 – Denouncing the “warped ideology” of the Islamic State or Iraq and the Levant [ISIL], the Prime Minister of Malaysia, Dato’ Sri Mohd Najib Bin Tun Haji Abdul Razak, today urged the United Nations General Assembly to help spread awareness about the true nature of Islam, “which is nothing like that entity…that usurps its name.”
“We must acknowledge that we are not winning the propaganda war against the so-called Islamic State. Their twisted narrative is not being adequately countered to prevent many misguided people from joining or supporting from afar,” he said.
Speaking the truth about Islam is ever-more important, he said, stressing that non-State actors such as ISIL threaten to destroy sovereign States. They don't confine their horrific acts of cruelty within official boundaries.”
“It is sickening, and there could be no greater a slur on Islam – a religion of peace, moderation and justice. But these extremists cannot be defeated by traditional military means alone,” he continued.
"It is more important than ever that we spread awareness of authentic Islam, most especially when conflicts persist and people lose hope. For it is there that extremism finds fertile soil. And those who fight for extremism – for a perversion of true Islam – are one of the main drivers of the current migration crisis from the Middle East."
Mr. Razak also spoke of the security risk posed to his nation and the need for international collaboration to share information on terrorism.
“Our tireless, ever-vigilant security forces have intercepted many would-be [ISIL] recruits transiting through Kuala Lumpur. It is because of our efforts that they have not fallen into the darkness that blights Syria and Iraq,” he said.
“But some have. We have identified 39 Malaysians who have travelled to join [ISIL]. And we have arrested over 100 of our citizens suspected of links to [the group]. These threats are real.”
He also spoke of the need for Security Council reform “to better reflect 2015’s realities, not 1945’s,” he said.
“We were extremely disappointed that the proposed resolution to set up an international tribunal into the shooting down of flight MH17 did not go through because a veto was imposed,” he noted. “We will continue to seek justice through other legal options, because we owe it to the families of those who perished in this outrageous crime.”
Turning to the matter of the refugee crisis, Mr. Razak said that Malaysia would “open our doors to a further 3,000 Syrian migrants over the next three years,” adding that “it is only when we see that dreadful picture of three year old Alan Kurdi washed ashore – and recognize our own children in that tragic boy's innocent face – that we will act as our better selves.”
Compassion, not Islam, the reason to accept Syrians
October 3, 2015
GEORGE TOWN: Humanitarian reasons and not Islam lay behind the Federal Government’s decision to accept some 3,000 Syrian refugees, said deputy foreign minister Reezal Merican Naina Merican today.
He said the Federal Government acted out of compassion and in a genuine effort to help a community that had become victims of extremists and suffering from hunger and poverty.
Reezal Merican said Syrians had been suffering war and hunger for years in their homeland, forcing many to migrate to European countries seeking asylum.
He said Malaysia’s noble effort to open its doors to the Syrians would also encourage regional countries to help each other on humanitarian grounds.
Malaysia is the first South-East Asian country, and among the few Muslim-majority countries, to accept Syrian refugees.
Reezal Merican praised New Zealand for accepting refugees from war-torn Arab nations despite its location in the Pacific, and its different cultural background and atmosphere.
Malaysia’s decision to accept Syrian refugees was announced by Prime Minister Najib Razak at the United Nations General Assembly on Thursday. He said would accept 3,000 Syrians over the next three years.
Mufti stands by remarks on political strength and Muslim unity
October 4, 2015
KUALA LUMPUR: The Mufti of Pahang, criticised by the DAP after a sermon about politics and Muslim unity, has reiterated that Muslims need not fear losing power if they remained united.
In an interview with Mingguan Malaysia, he said Muslims in Malaysia would not need to seek the help of “others” because of their numerical strength.
“It should be enough if we remained as one. We are a huge percentage, approximately 60 per cent,” Dr Abdul Rahman Osman was quoted as saying. “If we were united, we wouldn’t need others, just include a few from other races. When Muslims are not united, there are concerns of losing, and not having the power to rule,” he was reported to have said, conflating race and religion.
In the interview he was asked about a sermon for Hari Raya Haji in which he was reported to have said that Malays had become divided by their political affiliations to parties such as Umno, PAS, PKR, and the new breakaway party of PAS dissidents; in addition, there were Malays who joined the DAP which he claimed was against Islam.
His remarks were contested by Pahang DAP chairman Tengku Zulpuri Shah Raja Puji who demanded an apology from the Pahang religious affairs department.
Dr Abdul Rahman said the complaint by the DAP was proof that the party was interfering with Islamic affairs. “That is what makes me sad, what more when it is a Malay that sitting in alliance with this party. I believe even until today, that no other party are upset even when called out, only DAP are the ones who are not satisfied,” he said.
Tengku Zulpuri has threatened legal action for the mufti’s remarks, and is believed to be seeking a meeting with Abdul Rahman.
No sign of Kedah IS recruitment centre, say police
October 4, 2015
ALOR STAR: Kedah police have not found any evidence to indicate the state has become the centre to gather funds and recruit new members by elements of the Middle Eastern extremist group Islamic State.
State police Chief Zamri Yahya said the authorities will continue to monitor closely all elements linked to the IS militant struggle in Kedah. “So far we did not find any attempt to make Kedah as the centre to collect funds or to recruit IS members. Their involvement is so far by individuals in their personal capacity,” he said.
Concerns had been raised about the possibility of madrasah and private religious schools being used by IS members to collect funds as well as to recruit new members.
Zamri said continuous efforts by police to combat the threat of IS in the state had resulted in the capture of several individuals for their involvement in the terrorist group.
He however did not reveal further details on the success of the authorities in arresting those involved in the IS militant group in Kedah.
The Kedah police chief said police information also showed two individuals from the IS group from Kedah were confirmed killed in Syria. He did not reveal their identities.
ISIS blows up 2,000-year-old The Arch of Triumph in Syrian city of Palmyra
October 5, 2015
London: The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has blown up a nearly 2,000-year-old arch in the ancient Syrian city of Palmyra.
According to Sky News, ISIS militants destroyed the arch, but left the colonnades in place, the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
Syria’s antiquities chief Maamoun Abdulkarim said that if the city of Palmyra remained in the hands of ISIS, then the city was doomed.
In August, the extremists blew up the temple of Baal Shamin and the Temple of Bel, one of the best preserved sites.
The group considers the buildings sacrilegious.
The Arch of Triumph was considered one of the jewels in the collection of ruins at the Roman-era site in arch/syria.html”> Syria. (ANI)
52 Saudi clerics, scholars call to battle Russian forces in Syria
5 October 2015
Fifty two Saudi inciters, both academics and clerics, have called on the public to “hurry” to Syria where they should be fighting Russian forces.
The clerics, some of which are members of the International Union of Muslim Scholars, called on “all those who are able, and outside of Saudi Arabia, to answer the calls of jihad” and to fight alongside one of the extremist groups facing Russian forces.
According to experts, by issuing this statement, inciters seek to implicate Saudi, Gulf, and Muslim youths in the fight against Russian forces, mirroring Al-Qaeda’s and the Taliban’s recruitment of young fighters during the Afghan-Soviet war.
The statement also called for Syrian opposition fighters to “unify their front” and urged those with capabilities to fight and expertise to remain in Syria and not leave.
The statement comes after the Saudi Ministry of Interior raided a house where its residents manufactures bombs in a residential area in Riyadh. The house was run by a Syrian man with the help of a Filipina woman who prepared and sowed explosive belts.
The statement also comes days after authorities found and detained Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) cells, mostly comprised of militants who returned from areas of conflict.
The invitation to join the conflict conflicts with a Saudi decree announced in March 2014 which listed ISIS and the Al-Qaeda-linked Nusra Front, the Muslim Brotherhood, the Saudi Hezbollah, the Houthi group, AQIP, and Al-Qaeda in Yemen and Iraq.
The decree also criminalizes taking part in combat outside of Saudi Arabia, or belonging to extremist groups or groups designated as such by the regional or international arena.
Some of the clerics who signed the statement previously issued fatwas on the events in Syria and providing guidance to fighters under extremist groups in the embattled country.
A relationship with the son of Abdullah Azam
The direct relationship between a number of the signatories to the statement without Abdullah al-Azam, who is the son of Palestinian Abdullah al-Azam living now in Jordan, was also noticeable.
Al-Hazifa did not hesitate to show its direct relationships with the fighting factions in Syria and its attempts of making reconciliation between them. He even interfered to release the mother of one of the female broadcasters in an Arab channel in rural Damascus after it was arrested by the Army of Islam. He said: “If there was in any way a bypass from the Army of Islam’s side, I am ready to fix it and would provide any other service you might require from the Army.”
Through the follow-up of one of the signatories, Dr. Mohammed Musa al-Sherriff, the size of the special relationship he has with one of the heirs of Abdullah Azam who was the professor al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden appears too.
On the other side, the International Union of Muslim Scholars released a similar statement calling for “the support of the fighting in Syria and providing it with money and any other means of cooperation each according to his abilities and jihad spirit as support can be provided too with money and prayers.”
Militants Start Withdrawing Forces from Syria’s Idlib amid Russian Airstrikes
Oct 04, 2015
The radical group started moving towards the Turkish border on Saturday after having experienced "the efficiency of the Russian aerospace forces’ strikes," the As-Safir Arabic-language daily reported.
The coalition is led by al-Nusra terrorist group, the Syrian branch of al-Qaeda, which is sponsored by Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Qatar. The group seized the Idlib province this spring.
The report said field commanders fear at any moment the attack of Syrian forces supported by Russian warplanes on the key town of Jisr al-Shugour, on the Lattakia-Aleppo highway.
After the intensive air raids, the gunmen stopped offensive on the al-Ghaab plain in the Northwestern Hama province. Syria’s army and people’s militias could launch a counterattack in this area in the coming hours.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has stressed that the operation of Russia’s aerospace forces in Syria, conducted since September 30 at the request from Bashar Assad, is aimed at battling terrorism and preserving the country’s integrity.
Iraqi Kurdistan Region Welcomes Russian Support for Anti-ISIL War
Oct 04, 2015
“We welcome any support by Russia for the Pishmarga forces in the war on the ISIL”, the Kurdistan region said in a statement on Saturday night, Basnews reported.
“We thank any country which is supporting us," noted the KRG.
Earlier this week Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that his country has armed Pishmarga forces through Iraqi central government.
UK blasts Russia ‘asymmetric warfare’ in Syria
5 October 2015
Russia is engaged in “classic asymmetric warfare” in Syria by using its military clout to prop up President Bashar al-Assad while saying it is attacking ISIS militants, Britain’s foreign minister said on Sunday.
Russia last week began striking targets in Syria - a dramatic escalation of foreign involvement in the civil war which has been criticized by the West as an attempt to prop up Assad, rather than its purported aim of attacking ISIS.
“It looks like a classic bit of Russian asymmetric warfare - you have a strong propaganda message that says you’re doing one thing while in fact you are doing something completely different and when challenged you just flatly deny it,” Philip Hammond told Reuters in an interview in Manchester.
He said Britain had held discussions with Russia but kept on getting the same response - that Moscow was attacking ISIS militants in Syria.
“You try talking to the Russians,” he said. “They just keep repeating their position – that is by the way also the Iranian position – and it is just incredible.”
He said that Britain needed “absolute clarity” that Assad would not be part of Syria’s future.
“That’s not some random bee in the bonnet that I’ve got; it’s that without that commitment we will never get the broad spectrum of Syrian opposition groups to sit down and agree around a table how we take forward the discussion about Syria’s future,” he said.
IN OPINION: ‘Managed transition’ vs. ‘management of savagery’ in Syria
Hammond dismissed proposals put forward by Russia and Iran for elections, saying Syria was “a million miles away” from being able to hold a free and fair vote.
“In a country where 250,000 people have been killed and 12 million people have been displaced, half of them outside the country – how can you talk about free and fair elections?” he said.
Hammond said the key to ending the suffering caused by the four-year civil war was a managed transition to peace - even if it meant Assad retained power temporarily.
“If the price for doing that is that we have to accept that Assad will remain as titular head of state for a period of time, do I really care if that’s three days, three weeks, three months or even longer? I don’t think I do,” he said.
But Hammond said that for such a transition, Assad should make a pledge not to run in any future election and that he would give up control over Syria’s security apparatus.
He added that there was no agreement with Moscow and Tehran on such a transition.
Assad says Russian air campaign vital to save Middle East
5 October 2015
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has said the success of a military campaign by Russia, Syria and its allies was vital to save the Middle East from destruction, a day after Moscow said it would step up air strikes against ISIS targets across Syria.
A year-long air campaign by Western and Arab air forces in Syria and Iraq had been counterproductive, Assad said, helping terrorism spread and win new recruits, but a coalition of Syria, Russia, Iran and Iraq could achieve real results.
"It must succeed otherwise we face the destruction of the entire region, not only one or two states," he said in an interview with Iranian television broadcast on Sunday.
Assad was speaking days after Russian jets based in western Syria launched air strikes against targets Moscow has identified as ISIS bases, but which Assad's opponents say disproportionately hit rival, foreign-backed insurgents.
The United States, France and Britain say the Russian air strikes are aimed at propping up Assad after recent rebel advances. "They are backing the butcher Assad, which is a terrible mistake, for them and the world," British Prime Minister David Cameron said.
Russia said on Sunday its planes flew 20 sorties in Syria and struck 10 ISIS targets in the previous 24 hours, including a training camp and a suicide-belt factory.
"We have managed to disrupt their control system, the terrorist organization's supply lines, and also caused significant damage to the infrastructure used to prepare acts of terror," Russia's defense ministry said.
Residents in the Syria province of Homs reported air strikes on Sunday they believed were carried out by Russian jets, in an area controlled by factions fighting under the umbrella of the rebel Free Syrian Army, not ISIS.
"So far there are seven or six raids in the town," said Abdul Ghafar al Dweik, a volunteer rescue worker in the town of Talbiseh, adding that the air strikes were different to previous attacks by Syrian warplanes.
"With the Syrian planes, we would get a warning but now all of a sudden we see it over our heads," he said.
Two Egyptian policemen shot dead by ISIS in Sinai
4 October 2015
Two Egyptian policemen have been shot dead in the bastion of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) group in the Sinai Peninsula, the interior ministry said, in an attack claimed by the militants Sunday.
"A police captain and a policeman died of their wounds after unknown assailants shot them" late Saturday in the North Sinai provincial capital El-Arish, the ministry said in a statement.
The area is a stronghold of the Egyptian affiliate of the ISIS group that calls itself "Sinai Province".
The group claimed the killings on a Twitter account affiliated to it, according to the SITE Intelligence Group.
Sinai Province said it killed the two policemen in separate attacks in El-Arish, the monitoring group said.
The militants have stepped up attacks which they say are in retaliation for a bloody crackdown on supporters of Islamist president Mohamed Mursi following his overthrow by the army in 2013.
Militants loyal to ISIS have killed hundreds of Egyptian soldiers and policemen, mostly in the northern Sinai.
The army also regularly announces the death or capture of militnats although its figures cannot be independently verified.
Russia says its planes struck 10 ISIS targets in Syria
4 October 2015
Russian planes have flown 20 sorties in Syria and struck 10 Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) targets in the past 24 hours, the country’s defense ministry said in a statement on Sunday.
Russia has said it would step up its air strikes in Syria, escalating a military intervention which Moscow launched on Wednesday to weaken ISIS militants, but which Western powers say aims to support President Bashar al-Assad.
“As a result of our air strikes on Islamic State [ISIS] targets, we have managed to disrupt their control system, the terrorist organization’s supply lines, and also caused significant damage to the infrastructure used to prepare acts of terror,” the ministry said.
It said the strikes, conducted by SU-34, SU-24M and SU-25 planes, had hit targets in the Idlib and Raqqa provinces, including a terrorist training camp and a suicide belt factory.
The strikes, which it called pinpoint, had also destroyed three ammunition stores and four ISIS command centers, the ministry said.
Hundreds of Takfiris Killed, Injured in Aleppo
Oct 04, 2015
Hundreds of terrorists were killed or wounded in Aleppo City and its countryside in the past 24 hours, a military source said Sunday.
On Saturday, the Syrian government forces targeted positions and concentration centers of the ISIL Takfiri terrorists in Aleppo province.
The army targeted concentration centers of ISIL terrorists to the East of Assafira, Job al-Safa, Jaboul, al-Ridwaniyah, Ayn Sabeil and al-Baba in the countryside of Aleppo, killing a group of terrorists and destroying their vehicles which were equipped with heavy machineguns.
Meanwhile, a large group of the Takfiri militants were also killed in military operations in al-Hatab square of al-Jadidah region in old Aleppo.
Syria has been grappling with a deadly crisis since March 2011. The violence fuelled by Takfiri groups has so far claimed the lives of over 240,000 people, according to reports.
Some 700 Terrorists Give up Fight, Surrender to Syrian Authorities
Oct 04, 2015
The sources said Saturday that a member of the militant group delivered a message, which specifically stated their intentions to surrender to the state government if they would be offered an amnesty hearing in exchange.
The Syrian forces inside the provincial capital of the Dara’a governorate were surprised by the huge line of militants from the FSA that were preparing to surrender themselves to the state government in exchange for an amnesty hearing offered by a civilian tribunal.
Also on Thursday, some 70 wanted Takfiri militants surrendered to the Syrian authorities to be pardoned as the army continues to advance against the terrorists.
They are from Damascus and its countryside, Homs, Dara'a and Idlib.
Hundreds of gunmen have been laying down their weapons and turning themselves in to authorities in areas across the country.
This number seems to be on the rise as the army has been making steady gains in the battlefield against the terrorist groups, recapturing an increasing number of regions, including strategic sites, which helped cut off many of the militants' supply routes and forced them to surrender or run away.
Egypt FM supports Russian strikes against terrorists in Syria
Oct 4, 2015
Egypt says Russia’s anti-terror airstrikes in Syria will restrict the spread of terrorism and deal a major blow to the Daesh terrorist group in the violence-torn Arab country.
“Russia’s entrance, given its potential and capabilities, is something we see is going to have an effect on limiting terrorism in Syria and eradicating it,” said Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry in a televised interview broadcast on Saturday.
Shoukry’s remarks are the latest sign of a thaw in relations between Russia and Egypt. During Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi’s official visit to Russia in August, Cairo and Moscow called for forming a coalition to counter terrorism in the Middle East.
Moscow began its military campaign against terrorists in Syria on September 30 upon a request from the Damascus government, shortly after the upper house of the Russian parliament gave President Vladimir Putin the mandate to use military force in Syria.
A video grab taken from footage released by the Russian Defense Ministry shows an area targeted with a Russian airstrike carried out in Syria, October 3, 2015. ©Reuters
On Friday, Putin said one of the key objectives of Moscow’s air campaign in Syria is to preserve the Arab country’s territorial integrity.
Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Muallem has also hailed the Russian airstrikes as an “effective” participation in the Arab nation’s fight against the Takfiri extremist groups, which have been committing heinous crimes in the country with the backing of the Western states and their regional allies since 2011.
Daesh terrorists control swathes of land in Syria and neighbouring Iraq. The extremist group has also carried out terror attacks in other countries of the world, including Egypt, through its affiliates.
Egypt, the Arab world’s most-populous country, is bearing the brunt of Daesh terror activities in its restive Sinai Peninsula, where the terrorist group’s affiliate, known as the Velayat Sinai, continues to carry out deadly attacks against Egyptian security forces and civilians.
Taliban’s New Leader Strengthens His Hold with Intrigue and Battlefield Victory
By JOSEPH GOLDSTEIN
OCT. 4, 2015
KABUL, Afghanistan — If ever there was a Taliban bureaucrat who seemed set on a less than stellar career path, it was Mullah Akhtar Muhammad Mansour.
In the 1990s, he was the Taliban government’s chief of aviation while Afghanistan had few planes in the air. He also oversaw the tourism department for what was one of the world’s most sealed-off countries at the time.
In short, there was little hint back then that he would someday emerge as the Taliban’s supreme commander, and the successor to the group’s legendary founder, Mullah Muhammad Omar.
But in the years since the Taliban leadership was driven into exile in Pakistan in 2001, Mullah Mansour became central to the group’s reincarnation as a powerful insurgency that survived NATO offensives to pose a grave threat now to the Western-backed Afghan government.
Details of his rise, filled in through interviews with current and former Taliban commanders, Western and Afghan officials, paint a portrait of an insurgent leader with a distinct flair for intrigue.
As acting leader of the Taliban over the past few years, he closely kept the secret that Mullah Omar had been dead since 2013. And he wielded that edge powerfully, issuing orders in Mullah Omar’s name, moving against rival Taliban commanders and steadily consolidating power, according to Afghan and Taliban officials.
He has also benefited from a powerful alliance with the Pakistani military spy agency, Inter-Services Intelligence, the original sponsor of the Afghan Taliban insurgency. That relationship, along with a hefty dose of cash payouts to fellow commanders, was a crucial factor in his ability to manage the succession crisis this summer after news of Mullah Omar’s death finally got out, Taliban and Afghan officials said.
Pakistan’s role in Mullah Mansour’s rise and rule has offered a bit of hope to Afghan and Western officials that Pakistani officials might be persuaded to force the Taliban to accept a peace deal.
But it has also sometimes been a political liability for Mullah Mansour, embittering some Taliban figures who resent Pakistan’s influence on the leadership and who are not likely to forgive his deception about Mullah Omar’s death. Some alienated commanders have sought a new direction with the Islamic State offshoot that is growing in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Mullah Mansour’s biggest mystery to Western and Afghan officials is wrapped up in the question of how he will try to shape Afghanistan’s future now that he has consolidated power: Will he attempt to return the Taliban to power as conquerors, or will he try to turn military victories into a strong hand in peace talks?
His own words and actions would seem to support either path.
Riches in Exile
Mullah Mansour, a stout man believed to be just under 50, does not, unlike his famously reclusive predecessor, live in hiding. His circumstances are not those of a jihadist leader living a fugitive existence, fearing drone strokes and avoiding cellphones in case they are tracked — in fact, one person who knows him says the Taliban leader owns a cellphone company.
Some of the time, he lives in a southern neighborhood of Quetta, Pakistan, known as Satellite Town, in an enclave where he and some other Taliban leaders from the same Pashtun tribe, the Ishaqzai, have built homes, according to interviews with a range of people who know him, including high-ranking Taliban leaders. As with many of the people interviewed about Mullah Mansour, they spoke on the condition of anonymity to avoid offending or prompting revenge.
But Quetta is not his only option. Although he is on the United Nations no-fly list, Mullah Mansour has repeatedly taken flights in and out of Pakistan, according to a senior Afghan intelligence official. Often, his destination has been Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates, where he has a house and several investments under different names, the official said.
That freedom alone would support widespread claims that he enjoys special status from the Pakistani authorities. Also telling is the large detachment of plainclothes security officers in his part of Satellite Town that notably grew around the time he was announced as the Taliban’s leader, neighborhood residents say.
Although he has benefited from his Pakistani contacts, they come with strings. Intelligence officials say that Mullah Mansour is wealthy by any standard, partly because of his ties to Ishaqzai narcotics traffickers. But some of that wealth has occasionally been frozen by Pakistani officials, the Afghan intelligence official said. One such time came this year when Pakistan was seeking to broker a round of talks between the Taliban leadership and the Afghan government and wanted Mullah Mansour to go along with it, the official said.
Such details present, for the Taliban, an uncomfortable contrast to the austere lives their leaders supposedly lived when they governed the country. A biography of Mullah Mansour recently issued by the Taliban seemed intent on rebutting that impression.
“He likes and wears loose, neat and clean clothes,” the biography reads. “He dislikes and avoids extravagance and prodigality in dressing, eating and all other needs of everyday life.”
Mullah Mansour is one of the last senior members of Mullah Omar’s original government still with the insurgency. Of those still alive, some have reconciled with the Afghan government and now live in Kabul. To them, it is surprising that Mullah Mansour is what he is today.
Mullah Salaam Alizai, who was close to Mullah Omar during the Taliban government in the 1990s and later spent years as an insurgent commander, described Mullah Mansour as unpredictable and an opportunist. “The kind of person who doesn’t have his own ideology, the kind of person who doesn’t care about how much destruction occurs,” he said in a phone interview.
“If he is told to destroy one road, he will destroy 10, if he is told to kill one person, he will kill 100,” added Mullah Alizai, who reconciled with the government about eight years ago.
Maulawi Qalamuddin, who ran the Ministry for the Propagation of Virtue and the Suppression of Vice in the Taliban government, remembered Mullah Mansour as a hard-working administrator.
“Mullah Mansour was not a notorious figure and he was not fundamentalist, either,” said Maulawi Qalamuddin, who is now on the Afghan government’s peace commission. “People didn’t grumble or complain about him.”
A Violent Operator
Those seeking evidence that Mullah Mansour’s priority is to wage war rather than pursue peace talks will have no difficulty finding it. He was one of the early organizers of the insurgency after the United States toppled the Taliban government in 2001, becoming a major battlefield commander.
Leaked United States military intelligence logs present a snapshot of him sowing violence across southern Afghanistan in 2006 and 2007. They show that he attended strategy sessions where suicide bombings were planned, back when that was still a relatively new tactic for the Taliban.
If the boundaries between the Taliban and opium and heroin traffickers in Afghanistan are now blurred, that is in no small part because of Mullah Mansour. He was among the first major Taliban officials to be linked to the drug trade, according to a 2008 United Nations report, and later became the Taliban’s main tax collector for the narcotics trade — creating immense profits for the Taliban as opium and heroin exports soared.
The Taliban biography of Mullah Mansour on its English website relishes in tracing how the ferocity of the Taliban’s war against American and coalition forces seems to track each of Mullah Mansour’s promotions up the group’s ranks.
Despite his rising profile within the Taliban, he remained something of an unknown to his enemies. Of that there is no better measure than a bizarre episode in 2010, when an impostor claiming to be Mullah Mansour sought to engage in secret peace talks.
The Afghan government and the American-led military coalition were hopeful, especially when they heard the man’s modest demands for an end to the war: amnesty for Taliban leaders and jobs for Taliban soldiers. The military showered the man with money, flew him to Kabul for meetings, and struggled to keep expectations in check.
Then he simply disappeared, and both Kabul and Washington concluded they had been duped. And the real Mullah Mansour’s star continued to rise.
In 2010, Pakistani officials arrested Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, Mullah Omar’s top deputy. Afghan and Western officials later said he was detained because he had been negotiating with Afghan officials without Pakistan’s involvement.
Two commanders rose to more prominence in the wake of Mullah Baradar’s arrest: One was Mullah Mansour, the other was Mullah Abdul Qayyum Zakir, a young former detainee at the American prison camp at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, who had a reputation as a tough commander in southern Afghanistan.
For a while, the two coexisted uncomfortably as co-deputies. But Mullah Mansour clearly gained the upper hand, becoming the acting leader of the Taliban, said Rahmatullah Nabil, the head of the Afghan intelligence agency, in an interview last year.
Afghan and Western officials said he had become the sole supposed conduit to Mullah Omar, in whose name annual announcements were made, but whom even senior Taliban commanders had not seen in years — to their growing anger and skepticism.
But Mullah Mansour was confident enough to begin placing his loyalists in important spots, and to move against those who doubted him.
In spring last year, Mullah Mansour served notice to Mullah Zakir that he was being fired because Mullah Omar was dissatisfied with the commander’s military strategy. But Mullah Zakir called his bluff, demanding proof that Mullah Omar was both alive and did in fact want him gone, three Afghan and Western officials said. Mullah Mansour showed a letter attributed to Mullah Omar, but could not produce compelling evidence. The gamble had failed, and the issue festered, giving wider circulation to rumors that Mullah Omar was dead and Mullah Mansour was deceiving his comrades.
A Power Struggle
Those rumors dogged Mullah Mansour through the first half of the year, when Pakistan began pushing the Taliban leadership to officially meet for the first time an Afghan government delegation, as a prelude to peace talks.
Until that meeting, in early July near Islamabad, the Taliban had long refused to meet with the Afghan government. But diplomats in attendance at the Pakistani-brokered talks were told that Mullah Mansour himself had authorized the meeting, one of the Afghan delegates, Hekmat Karzai, later said.
The senior Afghan official said that Mullah Mansour had, in fact, acquiesced to sending a delegation to the meeting, under heavy pressure from Pakistani officials. But as the talks were being prepared, he suddenly shifted tack, instructing several possible Taliban emissaries that they should refuse to attend. Then Mullah Mansour disappeared for a while.
“Mansour’s phones were turned off, he went missing,” one senior Afghan official said.
Why Mullah Mansour tried to sink the talks is unclear, but the Afghan intelligence official and a Western diplomat who had read intelligence reports on the issue said Mullah Mansour was probably worried he would lose the loyalty of Taliban commanders.
“It is not that Mansour is not obedient to Pakistan — it’s just that he is afraid of the movement falling apart,” the senior Afghan official said.
Pakistan was left scrambling to find Taliban figures who were willing to participate, leading to a smaller and less impressive delegation than the Afghan government had hoped for at the July 7 meetings. Still, the talks were hailed as the historic beginning of a long-sought peace process.
But Mullah Mansour’s apparent concerns were coming true. Within the Taliban, the talks — and Mullah Mansour’s perceived acquiescence to them — had cleaved the senior ranks. Senior Taliban figures began discussing the need for guidance from Mullah Omar, which in turn provoked renewed questions about whether he was even alive, two Afghan officials and a Western envoy said.
In July, word that Mullah Omar had long been dead suddenly began to circulate among commanders, according to Afghan officials. Precisely how the news broke was unclear, but one theory is that with peace talks looming, Mullah Omar’s son, Mullah Muhammad Yaqoub, began to confide to other senior Taliban leaders, according to an Afghan and a Western official.
On July 29, the Afghan government made it public, proclaiming that Mullah Omar had in fact died two years earlier in a hospital in Karachi, Pakistan.
Mullah Mansour immediately tried to get ahead of a potential succession struggle. In a few days of masterful constituency building — with the help of cash payouts and Pakistani influence, according to Afghan and Western officials — he secured the loyalty of possible rivals. In a series of shuras — consultative councils that his detractors claimed had been packed with his friends and tribesmen — he manufactured consent.
But others rallied behind Mullah Omar’s son, Mullah Yaqoub. Those supporters included Mullah Zakir and, reportedly, the leadership of the Haqqani network, an influential wing of the Taliban known for its brutal terrorist tactics and fund-raising mastery, according to members of the Taliban leadership council.
Then, Mullah Mansour let the world know that he had cut the heart out of his opposition.
The Taliban announced on July 31 that not only had Mullah Mansour been officially declared the new supreme leader, but that both of his deputies had also been chosen from the Haqqani network’s leadership, some of Mullah Yaqoub’s supposed backers. Two weeks later, the Taliban released a statement that Mullah Yaqoub and his family members had agreed to pledge their loyalty to Mullah Mansour’s leadership.
Mullah Zakir, however, would not go easily.
Full Report at:
NDS officials in Khost arrest Haqqani commander in Burqa
Oct 05 2015
The National Directorate of Security (NDS) – Afghanistan’s intelligence agency has arrested a Haqqani Terrorist Network commander who was wearing a Burqa and trying to enter Khost city.
A statement released by NDS on Monday states that Niamatullah alias Khalid S/O Zanzir Gul was assigned by the terrorist network as the military commander for Dwa Manda District.
The statement further states that Niamatullah was sent from across the border for terrorist activities in Khost city.
Niamtullah has confessed to his links with Haqqani network in a footage released by NDS.
Niamtullah said in the footage that he was given the responsibility as the military commander of Dwa Manda District in Miranshah (Pakistan) and was in charge of 100 militants of Haqqani group.
He added that he has also carried out anti-government activities in Spera besides Dwa Manda District. Pointing to his hand, Niamatullah said he sustained injuries during these activities.
A list of deadly attacks claimed by Islamic extremists in Bangladesh
OCT 4, 2015
The secular South Asian nation of Bangladesh has been hit by a series of murders this year claimed by radical Islamist groups, testing the government’s assurances that it is controlling the spread of extremism among its mostly Muslim population. Following is a list of the attacks.
Feb 27: At least two assailants attack Bangladeshi-American blogger and writer Avijit Roy with meat cleavers, killing him and injuring his wife on a crowded street in Dhaka. A previously unknown militant group, Ansar Bangla 7, which intelligence officials believe to be part of the banned Ansarullah Bangla Team, claimed responsibility. At least four suspects have been arrested, including a top Ansarullah leader and financier, as part of an investigation aided by the FBI.
March 30: Three men using meat cleavers hack 26-year-old blogger Washiqur Rahman Babu to death in Dhaka. Bystanders chase down two of the attackers and recover three meat cleavers, but the third suspect escapes. The captured suspects say they are students at two separate Islamic schools and were “ordered” to commit the crime. But police say they have been unable to determine who might have given such an order.
May 12: Four men wielding meat cleavers kill online actiist and atheist blogger and science magazine editor Ananta Bijoy Das as he leaves his home in northeastern city of Sylhet. A few days later, police arrest a local newspaper photographer and two others. Investigators suggest the nature of attack shows the same group, Ansarullah, was behind the killing. Al-Qaida on the Indian subcontinent, which is believed to be affiliated with Ansarullah, claims responsibility.
Aug. 8: A fourth blogger, Niloy Chottopadhay, is killed when suspected militants, posing as potential tenants, enter his Dhaka apartment and assault him with cleavers. Ansarullah Bangla Team claims responsibility in an email sent to media organizations, though the authenticity of the email has not been confirmed.
Sept. 28: Three unidentified assailants, riding on a single motorcycle, gun down Italian citizen Cesare Tavella in the diplomatic quarter of Dhaka. The militant Sunni extremist group Islamic State claims responsibility according to the terrorist threat monitoring group SITE, but the claim remains unconfirmed. Police have no other leads.
Oct. 3: Masked assailants on a motorbike gun down Japanese citizen Kunio Hoshi at Mahiganj village in Rangpur district. The Islamic State group again claims responsibility, according to the SITE group, though the claim remains unconfirmed.
15 militants killed, wounded in anti-Daesh operation in Nangarhar
Oct 05 2015
Seven militants have been killed and eight others wounded in anti-Daesh operation in Achin District of eastern Nangarhar province.
Daesh suffered the latest casualties in Abdulkhil area that is infiltrated by the militant group.
A statement released by Colonel Hazrat Hussain Mashriqiwal — spokesman for the media office of Nangarhar’s police HQ states that the security situation has been satisfactory in the areas cleared of militants.
The statement further states that security forces detained seven suspected people, including a Pakistani national from other parts of Nangarhar province yesterday.
Six residents of Achin District were detained with two Kalashinkovs, bomb and a transmission set from the jurisdiction of Bati Kot District.
The Pakistani national identified as Abdul Razaq was detained from the capital of Haska Mina District.
Achin, Bati Kot and Haska Mina are among the districts of Nangarhar province witnessing severe insecurity from the past few months.
Leaders say BNP doesn’t want to be bracketed with Jamaat
October 05, 2015
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's allegation that the BNP and Jamaat have links to the recent murders of two foreigners is “totally baseless”, said BNP acting secretary general Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir last night.
Talking to The Daily Star, Fakhrul came down heavily on the premier for bracketing Jamaat with BNP.
“There is no reason behind bracketing Jamaat with BNP as we are totally two different political parties. The BNP had never encouraged such killings … Rather we had tried [when in power] every single incident,” he claimed.
Asked about BNP standing committee member Moyeen Khan's remark on September 29, a day after the assassination of an Italian citizen at city's Gulshan, Fakhrul said, “It was his personal opinion. Our party is yet to hold any meeting on it [killings of foreigners]. I am yet to take my charge fully in the party as I am on leave due to my illness. He [Moyeen Khan] would be able to explain on what perspective he had made those remarks. It would be difficult for me to explain his comments.”
At a discussion at the Jatiya Press Club, Moyeen said the ruling Awami League government cried wolf.
The Awami League government used the militant issue for its own interest and to get benefit from the western world. Now it has become the victim of that. It has fallen into the canal which it dug by raising the issue of militancy before the west, Moyeen had said.
Fakhrul expressed concern that irresponsible remarks from the government's top level over the murders of the two foreigners would not only create obstacles to the probes but also make it difficult to identify the perpetrators.
“Such incidents are taking place more and more as the law and order situation in the country is very fragile,” he added.
Fakhrul demanded the government ensure exemplary punishment for the killers of the foreigners after identifying them through a proper probe.
“We strongly condemn the killing of the two foreign citizens. Such murders demonstrate that the country's law and order situation is now very bad,” he said.
Earlier at a press conference at the party's Naya Paltan central office, BNP spokesperson Asaduzzaman Ripon said the premier's remark that BNP-Jamaat clique might be involved in the killing of the two foreign nationals was unfortunate and improper.
Hasina is saying that the incidents were under investigation but on the other hand, she is linking the BNP and other opposition parties to the incidents. It's regrettable, he said.
Hasina during a press conference at her Gono Bhaban residence said, “The style of the killings of the two foreign nationals was the same. These were planned murders. If you assemble the remark of a BNP leader and the reaction after the killing of the Italian national in Gulshan area, the matter will be clear.”
Security forces rebuff Taliban attack on Faryab’s capital ‘Maimana’
Oct 05 2015
Afghan National Security Forces have rebuffed a coordinated attack of Taliban militants on Maimana, the provincial capital of northern Faryab province.
Taliban insurgents armed with heavy and light weapons launched the assault on Maimana from three directions yesterday and engaged in intense gun battle with security forces.
The clash continued until this morning and finally Taliban stepped back who are now about 20 kilometers away from Maimana.
Sayed Abdul Baqi, head of Faryab’s Provincial Council said that Taliban suffered heavy casualties in the clash, adding that civilians were also harmed.
According to Abdul Baqi, seven members of a single family were killed and wounded in the clash.
Taliban have begun a new wave of attacks in northern Afghanistan and try to capture large areas from government.
They have been able to occupy districts briefly but lose them back to security forces with heavy casualties.
They recently attacked the key northern city of Kundoz and had several areas under control for about two days.
According the Ministry of Defense, security forces have pushed back insurgents from Kundoz city but clearance operation still continues.
Bangladesh Grapples With Islamist Militancy
By SYED ZAIN AL-MAHMOOD
Updated Oct. 4, 2015
DHAKA, Bangladesh—After Bangladeshi-American writer Avijit Roy was hacked to death by machete-wielding assailants in February, a previously little-known Islamist group stepped out of the shadows and claimed responsibility.
The organization, Ansar Bangla, which police and security experts say has connections to militant organization Islamic State, has since claimed responsibility for killing three other self-proclaimed atheist bloggers, and threatened to assassinate more.
Islamic State itself said its operatives had killed an Italian aid worker here in the Bangladeshi capital last week, and on Saturday fatally shot a Japanese man working on an agricultural project in the north of the country.
The string of deaths and the linkages between the homegrown Ansar Bangla militants and international jihadist networks have raised fears of a rising extremist fringe in this Muslim-majority nation where Islamic militancy has in the past been relatively rare and kept in check by the state.
Bangladesh, an officially secular republic, has experienced large protests and counterprotests in recent years over the role of religion in society, a debate which coincided with a violent political schism between the country’s two main political parties over elections.
Some political commentators and rights activists say the political upheaval could have created favorable conditions for the rise of extremist groups.
Hundreds of people have died in politically motivated attacks since late 2013, according to authorities and human-rights groups.
On Sunday, government officials rejected Islamic State’s claims, and instead blamed its domestic political opponents. The home minister said: “There is no [Islamic State] in the country. No way.”
In recent months, police, however, say they have arrested at least a dozen people they say were working to drum up support for Islamic State, which holds large swaths of territory in Syria and Iraq.
Last week, three men were arrested in central Bangladesh while putting up Islamic State recruitment posters with the slogan: “The Call of the Middle East.”
Before the blogger killings, Ansar Bangla was viewed by police and terrorism experts as a group of wannabe-jihadists who did little more than chat online. Now, they say, it represents a potentially potent new threat.
Ansar Bangla “closely followed” international terrorist groups “in terms of ideology and tactics,” said a senior police officer.
Ansar Bangla, also known in Internet forums as the Ansarullah Bangla Team, has translated Islamic State recruitment videos into the local language, Bangla, and placed online Bangla versions of the Islamic State magazine “Dabiq” and al Qaeda’s “Inspire.”
Police in May arrested one suspected group member, saying he was enlisting Bangladeshis to fight with Islamic State in the Middle East. About a dozen others have been arrested in connection with this year’s string of attacks on secular writers. All were in custody and couldn’t be reached to comment.
Shafqat Munir, a security analyst at the Bangladesh Institute of Peace and Security Studies, says the emergence of Ansar Bangla represents “a dangerous new phase and we need a comprehensive counter-radicalization policy going forward.”
He said local militants had been inspired by the emergence of Islamic State and its aim of creating a caliphate. “The promise of a Muslim utopia is a powerful recruitment tool,” Mr. Munir said.
Police say they are still trying to understand the command structure and membership of Ansar Bangla, whose name translates roughly as “Bangladeshi Helpers of God.” The group’s spiritual leader is a jailed 45-year-old Bangladeshi cleric who used to lead a mosque and madrassa in a Dhaka suburb.
The man, Mufti Jasim Uddin Rahmani, was arrested in late 2013 and is on trial for terrorism-related offenses. He couldn’t be reached to comment. It was unclear whether he had a lawyer.
Mr. Rahmani has said in sermons, recorded and posted online, that he doesn’t recognize man-made laws.
Full Report at:
US for joint efforts to address extremism: US Ambassador in Bangladesh
October 05, 2015
US Ambassador in Bangladesh Marcia Bernicat has underscored the importance of joint efforts to address violent extremism.
"We have everything we need to fight the emergence of ISIL [Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant] in Bangladesh," she said while addressing a meeting of Diplomatic Correspondents’ Association Bangladesh (DCAB) at the Jatiya Press Club this afternoon.
Praising the role of the Bangladesh premier, the US envoy said: “Bangladesh has a prime minister who has taken a zero tolerance approach against terrorism.”
As partners over the years, she said the US and Bangladesh have developed the resources, the commitment, and the shared experiences “we need to counter terrorism and violent extremism”.
The US envoy said her country is determined to work together with their shared partners for the safety and security of our countries.
“There are areas of our relationship that require more work, and I can think of no better example than the restoration of GSP [generalized system of preference],” she said.
The recent visit of the Assistant United States Trade Representative to assess progress on the Action Plan will help Bangladesh and its partners prepare for the upcoming Sustainability Compact review, she added.
"This is a global issue that requires a coordinated and global approach."
Bangladesh PM Hasina smells link of BNP-Jamaat
Ctober 05, 2015
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina yesterday said the BNP-Jamaat had a hand in the recent killings of an Italian and a Japanese man in the country.
"The style of the killing of the two foreign nationals is similar … These were well planned. I want to remind you of a BNP leader's remarks before and after the [Italian national's] murder. If you compare the remarks, the matter will become clear," she said at a press conference at the Gono Bhaban.
She was referring to a senior BNP leader's recent comments that the government used the issue of militancy in its own interest and now it has fallen victim to “its crying wolf".
Hasina ruled out the possibility of the Islamic State's presence in Bangladesh.
"I can say that no outfits like the IS can carry out their activities here. Our intelligence agencies are very much alert. We don't want to see any activities of such outfits in Bangladesh," the UNB quoted her as saying.
Italian aid worker Cesare Tavella was shot dead in the capital's high-security diplomatic zone on September 28 and Japanese national Hoshi Kunio was gunned down in Rangpur on Saturday.
The prime minister said there must be a motive behind these incidents. "They [BNP-Jamaat] must've had a hand in these. There's no doubt about it … We are taking actions … The culprits will definitely be caught and tried."
Referring to the similarities between the two murders, she said, "There must be some kind of a plot here."
Full Report at:
Middle East Would Be More Stable With Saddam, Gaddafi Still In Power
October 05, 2015
NEW YORK - Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump Sunday argued that the Middle East of today would be much more stable if Saddam Hussein and Muammar Gaddafi were still in power in Iraq and Libya, respectively, saying it's "not even a contest".
"You can make the case, if you look at Libya, look at what we did there, it's a mess," Trump said on NBC's "Meet the Press" news programme, referring to the attempts being made to drive Syrian President Bashar al-Assad out of power.
Asked if the Middle East would be more stable with Gaddafi and Saddam in power, Trump replied, "Of course it would be.".Trump, who tops the Washington Examiner's latest 2016 power rankings. "Iraq is a disaster. And ISIS ... came out of Iraq — the leftovers that didn't get taken care of."
"Of course [the Middle East] would be [more stable]. You wouldn't have had your Benghazi situation, which is one thing which was just a terrible situation," Trump said. "But, of course, it would. Libya is — is not even — nobody even knows what's going on over there. It's not even a country anymore."
Trump has consistently made it known that he opposed the Iraq War since it began in 2003, a view only shared by Dr. Ben Carson and Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., at the time.
And in light of recent bombing campaigns by Russian forces in Syria, Trump says that he likes "that Putin is bombin' the hell out of ISIS" not because he trusts him, but because he realizes that Putin "doesn't want ISIS coming into Russia." Trump still predicts that Putin will "get bogged down there" much like many other nations who have interceded in Middle Eastern affairs. "Everybody that's gone to the Middle East has had nothing but problems."
But should Trump's policy positions earn him anything but favorability in the polls, he seemed comfortable telling Chuck Todd, the NBC anchorperson, that he'd be just as happy back in his business. "I'm not a masochist...If I were doing poorly, if I saw myself going down, if you would stop calling me because you no longer have any interest in Trump because 'he has no chance,' I'd go back to my business." Trump said that when he looks at the state of the Republican field at large there are some hopefuls who "should not be running any longer" because "they're not gonna make it."
"If I felt I was in that position, I'd get out," he told NBC News. "But in all fairness, I think I'm in the exact opposite position right now." NBC News/Wall Street Journal/Marist polling has Trump at the top of the latest polls out of Iowa and New Hampshire.
‘IS Not Associated With Islam’ Say 150 Bengaluru Imams
October 5, 2015
It is not only sermons against the IS, but heads of mosques have been requested to ensure that speeches at religious gatherings are in tune with the teachings of the Quran and the Hadith.
A WhatsApp group, comprising moulvis and clergies of nearly 150 mosques in the city, has been formed to disseminate information to be imparted to the youth.
The letter to the heads of mosques by Mohammed Maqsood Imran, the Imam of Jamia Masjid in the city, warns that the IS and other radical organisations are luring Muslim youth with extremist ideologies that are not associated with Islam. The community will have to pay a price if focus is not on its youth, the letter states.
“Our holy Prophet Mohammed was sent to this world to spread the message of peace and also the Caliph-e-Rashadeen (Hazarath Abu Bakr, Umar, Usman and Ali) carried forward the teachings of the Quran and Prophet Mohammed. Even during the war, Prophet Mohammed had ordered his fellowmen not to harm children, women, aged and unarmed men. Then how can bombing and killing of innocent people be justified?” the letter says.
The response to the messages in the WhatsApp group is good as mosques and social groups have extended support, said the Imam of Jamia Masjid.
The Jamia Masjid Muslim Charitable Fund Trust is also visiting schools and colleges, holding classes to prevent youth from falling prey to social evils such as alcoholism, drug abuse and “eve-teasing”.
Meanwhile, a senior police officer in Intelligence Bureau said the agency was aware of the development and appreciated the move stating that this is would not only clear many misconceptions, but also disseminate right information to the youth about the community’s stand.
A WhatsApp group, comprising moulvis and clergies of nearly 150 mosques in Bengaluru,
has been formed to disseminate information to be imparted to the youth
Terrorists kill 4 Army jawans in J&K; encounter on
TNN | Oct 5, 2015
SRINAGAR: At least four soldiers and one militant were killed on Monday as two gunbattles raged in Jammu and Kashmir's Kupwara district.
Four jawans lost their lives in the gunbattle with the militants during an operation launched in Haphruda forest in Handwara following information about presence of militants there, an Army spokesperson said.
One militant was killed in an earlier encounter that broke out during an operation in Lolab area, the spokesperson said.
On Sunday, two militants of Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) outfit, believed to be Pakistanis, were killed and a soldier was injured in an encounter in Pulwama district.
The slain militants were identified as Salim alias Adil Pathan and Rehman alias Burmi, police sources had said, adding they were suspected to be Pakistani nationals.
Pakistan-based JeM has been responsible for several major attacks in Jammu and Kashmir and Delhi, including the one on Parliament on December 13, 2001.
Dadri lynching: Don't punish any innocent for Akhlaq, brother says
TNN | Oct 5, 2015
GREATER NOIDA: Even as the rest of Akhlaq's family left for Lucknow to meet chief minister Akhilesh Yadav on Sunday, the victim's brother, Jameel Ahmed who lives next door and fears he too would have been killed if he were home that day, said no innocent man should be implicated in the murder case.
Recalling the fateful Monday night, Ahmed, 60, said, "I was in Loni, Ghaziabad that night. I got a call from Akhlaq's daughter, my niece. She told me how a 200-strong mob dragged him out of the house even as he was preparing to go to bed. He was not even fully clothed when they brutally killed him. The family had heard an announcement made from the temple loudspeaker, but since it is 300 metres far, they could not realize it was about them."
"If I were home that day, I would not be alive too. When I heard about Akhlaq's death and my nephew's serious injuries, I rushed to Noida's Kailash Hospital. I was shattered when I reached there and learnt that there was nothing they could have done to save my brother. His death, the doctors said, was instant," Ahmed said.
He added, however, that he wants justice for his brother but not "retribution".
"Akhlaq was very dear to me. Since he was ten years younger than I am, I was always protective of him. What happened has left me shattered. They should bring the perpetrators to justice, so that nobody ever does something like this again. However, I do not want any innocent man to be punished in the name of my brother. The residents of Bisada village are mostly nice people and I do not want someone to pay for a crime they did not commit," he said.
Ahmed is grateful to god that his nephew is recovering.
"The doctors say Danish is doing better. I hope he gets well soon. I lost a brother, I do not want to lose a nephew," he said.
The Muslim 500: Most influential Indian Muslims in the world
4 October 2015
The 500 Most Influential Muslims aka the Muslim 500 is an annual publication which ranks the most influential members of the religion in the world.
The report is compiled by the Royal Islamic Strategic Studies Centre in Amman, Jordan, in cooperation with Prince Al-Waleed Bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding at Georgetown University in the United States.
The list consists of a top 50 section and the remaining 450 are divided into political, scholarly, administration of religious affairs etc.
This year's list is out and here is how the Indian Muslims have fared:
Indians in the Top 50 influential Muslims list:
1) Mufi Muhammad Akhtar Raza Khan Qaadiri Al-Azhari, leader of the Indian Barelwis and considered by his followers as the Grand Mufi of India.
2) Maulana Mahmood Madani, Leader and Executive Member of Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind.
Most influential Scholars from India:
1) Allamah Zia Al-Mustafa, Islamic scholar of the Barelwi movement in India.
2) Wahiduddin Khan, co-founder of Goodword, publisher of children's books.
3) Rabey Hasani Nadvi, president of All India Muslim Personal Law Board.
4) Bahauddeen Muhammed Jamaluddeen Nadwi, founding fathers of Darul Huda Islamic University.
Most influential politicians from India:
1) Dr Mohammad Umar Farooq, chairman and founder of the All Parties Hurriyat Conference.
Most influential in terms of Administration of Religious Affairs from India:
1) Sheikh Aboobackar Ahmad, General Secretary of the All India Muslim Scholars Association.
2) Sayyid Ibrahimul Khaleel Al-Bukhari, founder of Ma'din Islamic Academy.
3) Maulana Shakir Ali Noorie, President of Sunni Dawate Islami (a non-political religious organization).
4) MP Janab Asaduddin Owaisi, President of All India Majlis-eIttehadul Muslimeen.
Most influential preachers & spiritual guides from India:
1) H. Hazrat Allama Maulana Qamaruzzaman Azmi, founder of Al-Jame-atul-Islamia.
2) Arsad Madani, President of the 86-year old Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind.
3) Professor Sayid Ameen Mian Quadri, leader of the Indian Barelwis and a sajjada nashin, or Suf disciple, of the Barkatiya Suf tradition.
4) Syedna Mufaddal Saifuddin, spiritual leader of 2-5 million people living in 100 countries.
5) Sheikh Dr Taika Shuaib, head of the Arusiyya branch of the Qadiri Suf order.
Most influential in terms of Philanthropy, Charity & Development from India:
1) Azim Premji, Indian business tycoon and philanthropist who is the chairman of Wipro Limited.
2) Maulana Badruddin Ajmal Qasmi, prominent businessman in India who runs the Ajmal Group of Companies
Most influential in terms of Art and Culture from India:
1) Shabana Azmi, winner of the National Film Award for Best Actress five times.
2) Aamir Khan, UNICEF brand ambassador, promoting child nutrition.
3) Allah Rakha Rahman, composer, record producer, and musician.
In Dadri, BJP legislator Sangeet Som warns: ‘Befitting reply if innocents framed’
by Aditi Vatsa , Abhishek Angad
Oct 5, 2015
Controversial BJP MLA Sangeet Som, accused of making inflammatory speeches during the 2013 Muzaffarnagar communal riots, threatened in Bisara on Sunday that they were capable of giving a “befitting reply” if “innocents were framed” for lynching of a man over beef rumours. Accusing the Samajwadi Party government of appeasing the minority community “like it had done two years ago”, and “helping those who had slaughtered a cow”, he told a gathering at a temple on the outskirts of Bisara, “Agar nirdoshon ke khilaf karyawahi ki gayi, to munh-tod jawab hamne pehle bhi diya hai aur abh bhi dena jante hain (If action is taken against innocent, we have given a befitting reply earlier and can do so again). We can give a reply whenever we want.”
“They (the Akhlaq family) were taken by the Uttar Pradesh government (to Lucknow) in an airplane. How they treated the accused in the Muzaffarnagar riots, they are treating those who have slaughtered a cow the same way,” he said.
Som claimed that this was why he couldn’t meet Akhlaq’s family in the village, because they had been “taken away in an airplane” by the Uttar Pradesh government. Earlier, in his address to villagers at the Kirtan Bhawan temple, he said “in our values”, cowdung was used on auspicious occasions. And that “even though a mother loves her child the most”, the first meal prepared in the house is given by the mother “to a cow and not her child”. While telling the crowd to refrain from taking the law into their hands, the MLA added, “But law or administration should not be under the misunderstanding that innocent boys can be framed… Don’t threaten us with being imprisoned. Earlier too we (served time), we will go in again, there is no problem. But we will never tolerate this kind of torture. Such atrocities will not be tolerated at any cost… You can get around 50,000 people and I will get 50,000. We will send one lakh after the administration, but I will not let anyone harass you.” He further warned, “If innocent people are framed, we are not the ones who will sit silently. Our blood is not such that suffers torture.” Attacking the media, Som said, “For the last three days, we have been watching only one news on TV, completely one-sided. The media decides that such (a thing) has happened. We never say such kind of things. There has been a killing, even we know this. The law will take its own course. But names of youth who are 50-100 km away from here are being noted and they are being sent to prison. Women are being harassed.” The MLA also claimed a special affinity to the village, saying many women from his village were married into Bisara. “I am like your nephew,” he said, “I belong to you. I will not let you suffer.” Therefore, he said, he was making this appeal to them not to break the law. “I have not come here in the capacity of a leader. I am from your house, I am one among you, I am your brother. I have not come here in the capacity of an MLA. I will fold my hands and appeal to you — Do not do anything to take the law into your own hands.” Alluding to AIMIM leader Asaduddin Owaisi’s visit to the village and his remarks about the incident being pre-planned, Som said, “People from Hyderabad come here, give speeches and leave. They are victims of misunderstanding. They should not think this is Hyderabad, this is Uttar Pradesh. Uttar Pradesh mein thok kar jawab diya jaat hai (Uttar Pradesh doesn’t replies in kind).” Pointing out that police had asked him to ensure that not too many people accompanied him, Som said he had heeded their advice. But while he had the same amount of responsibility as the administration in maintaining peace and order, he said, “The administration should not think that the responsibility is one-sided. Their responsibility is theirs. If they can’t handle it, things will start getting worse everywhere.” Som faces two FIRs in connection with the September 2013 Muzaffarnagar riots, which left 65 dead. He is accused by the Uttar Pradesh Police of uploading the video that allegedly sparked communal tension in the area, and of making inflammatory speeches right before the riots.
J&K: Top JeM militant, aide killed in Pulwama encounter
By Bashaarat Masood
Oct 5, 2015
A top Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) commander and his associate were killed on Sunday in a joint operation by the J&K police and the Army in the Tral area of south Kashmir’s Pulwama district. An armyman was also injured in the encounter. On Sunday afternoon, security personnel cordoned off the Hariparigam village in Tral after receiving information about the presence of militants there.
As the security personnel zeroed in on the hideout, the militants started firing indiscriminately. The joint team retaliated and the encounter lasted for several hours. “Two foreign militants, identified as Aadil Pathan and Chota Burmi of Jaish Mohammad outfit, have been killed,” police spokesperson Manoj Kumar said. “Two AK-47 rifles, a grenade, four magazines and 80 rounds of ammunition were recovered from the encounter site,” he added. Pathan, a top JeM commander and a resident of Pakistan, was active in south Kashmir for several years and was one of the wanted militants. The other militant, police sources said, is believed to be a Burmese national.
Dadri incident: 20 Lakh for Muslim's death, but Hindu doesn't even get 20000, says Sakshi Maharaj
October 4, 2015
Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav on Saturday announced a compensation of Rs 20 Lakh to the kin of 50-year-old Mohammad Akhlaq, who was lynched for allegedly possessing beef. Earlier, Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi also met the victim's family. Meanwhile, two main accused in the lynching case, Shivam and Vishal, were arrested on Saturday, raising the total of the number of accused in the case to eight. Six people were arrested earlier after public outrage over the killing. Earlier, Sakshi Maharaj sparked controversy by claiming himself to be a true Muslim and dubbed Prophet Mohammed as a "great yogi" and the biggest practitioner of yoga
Earlier, Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi also met the victim's family. Meanwhile, two main accused in the lynching case, Shivam and Vishal, were arrested on Saturday, raising the total of the number of accused in the case to eight.
Meanwhile, two main accused in the lynching case, Shivam and Vishal, were arrested on Saturday, raising the total of the number of accused in the case to eight.
Six people were arrested earlier after public outrage over the killing.
Earlier, Sakshi Maharaj sparked controversy by claiming himself to be a true Muslim and dubbed Prophet Mohammed as a "great yogi" and the biggest practitioner of yoga.
Indian-American Muslim Council condemns lynching
October 5, 2015
New York: The Indian American Muslim Council (IAMC) has condemned the lynching of a Muslim man following rumours that he ate beef in Uttar Pradesh.
“Beyond the mob’s inhuman behaviour, it is alarming to note that the police have sent the meat from the victim’s refrigerator to a forensic lab to be tested, out of apparent respect for the mob’s feelings,” a statement posted on the IAMC website said.
“This effectively turns the victim into the accused, despite the fact that even if the family were in possession of beef, they were not in violation of the Uttar Pradesh Cow Protection Act,” the statement added.
The IAMC also accused the authorities for their inaction, calling on the media to “expose the larger design behind the incident”.
A week ago, Mohammad Akhlaq, a resident of Bisara in Greater Noida, was dragged out of his house after a mob alleged he had killed a cow in his house.
The IAMC said the incident was made to appear like a spontaneous act of violence by an unruly crowd but there are strong indications that this was a planned act.
The lynching was intended to terrorise the Muslim population of the area and suppress dissent across India over the beef ban implemented in some states, it added.
The IAMC is an advocacy group of Indian Muslims in the US “dedicated to safeguarding India’s pluralist and tolerant ethos”.
Jirga demands repatriation of Sipah tribe to native areas
October 04, 2015
PESHAWAR – Tribal elders from the Khyber Agency on Sunday demanded of the government to start their repatriation without any delay and to announce a special package for them.
They expressed this in a Bara National Jirga, organised by the Sipah tribe which was attended by local leaders of political parties of Khyber Agency. Speaking on the occasion, Member of National Assembly Nasir Khan Afridi said that the displaced people had been hit hard by financial problems as they could not afford to rent houses.
He said that Afridi tribe was loyal with Pakistan and the nation but don't know that why they were facing a critical life. Shah Faisal Afridi of the Jamaat-e-Islami said that the government should give cash to the displaced persons of Sipah tribe and to wave off the fee of Rs1.2 million.
– War on terror –
The Rs1.2 million amount was imposed on the Sipah tribe after attacked on security forces by unidentified miscreants in Bara area during Khyber one operation. He said that the infrastructure, schools and hospitals were destroyed during the current war on terror and lost their lives for the sake of Pakistan.
Former state minister Malik Waris Khan Afridi said that they were peaceful and wanted peace on the land of Pakistan especially in the Tribal Area. He said that the current Sipah tribe issue should be resolved with dialogues. Advocate Latif Afridi said that the government was not announcing the date for return of the Sipah tribe to their native areas which was injustice with them.
– Grand National Jirga –
“We will continue such like activities till the elimination of problems facing by Afridi's tribes,” he said. They announced to constitute a Grand National Jirga to resolve their issues. They appealed the government that their houses have been damaged during the military operation and the government should play role to open Bara Bazar and assist them financially.
Daesh bigger threat than Qaeda: COAS
October 04, 2015
LONDON - Pakistan Army chief General Raheel Sharif has said that his country would not allow “even a shadow” of Islamic State and termed the group a greater threat than Al-Qaeda.
“As far as Daesh (Islamic State) is concerned, in Pakistan, even a shadow of Daesh would not be allowed,” Sharif said in an address to The Royal United Services Institute for Defence and Security Studies in London on Friday.
In May, the Islamic State militant group claimed the killings of at least 43 members of the Shiite Ismaili minority in Pakistan’s southern port city of Karachi. Leaflets backing IS jihadists have been seen recently in parts of northwest Pakistan and pro-IS slogans have appeared on walls in several cities.
“There are people in Islamabad who want to show their allegiance to Daesh. So it’s a very dangerous phenomenon,” Sharif said.
Sharif said dealing with the extremist group was set to become an ever greater challenge than the Al-Qaeda network behind 9/11 attacks in the United States.
“I feel the future challenge is Daesh. It’s a bigger name. Al-Qaeda was a name but Daesh is now a bigger name,” Sharif said.
The General, popular for taking on militants from northwestern Pakistani tribal areas bordering Afghanistan to criminal gangs in Karachi, emphasised the reconciliation between Afghan Taliban and the Afghan government.
He expressed his fear the Taliban could seek an alliance with Daesh unless they were brought back to the negotiating table.
“This reconciliation in Afghanistan is very important. If we do not do it in the proper manner and the Afghan Taliban splinter, they would go for a bigger name and that is Daesh,” Sharif said.
Pakistan, which supported the Taliban during the 1990s, has blown hot and cold over the insurgency while contending it was working to bring about Afghan reconciliation. Islamabad organised the first set of direct peace talks between the Taliban and the Afghan government in July. But another round scheduled around later that month was stalled following the announcement of the death of Taliban founder Mulla Omar.
General Sharif launched operation “Zarb-e-Azb” in June 2014 in a bid to wipe out militant bases in the North Waziristan tribal area and so bring an end to the bloody decade-long Islamist insurgency that has cost Pakistan thousands of lives.
The army intensified its offensive after last year’s Peshawar school attack which killed 151 since when there has been a lull in violence. The last major attack in the city came in February when three heavily armed Taliban militants stormed a Shiite mosque, killing 21 people.
Overall levels of violence have dropped dramatically this year, with 2015 on course for the fewest deaths among civilian and security forces since 2007 — the year the Pakistani Taliban umbrella group was formed.
Pioneer of Suicide Attacks, Saifur Rehman Saifi, Dies In Blast
October 05, 2015
ISLAMABAD - The man who introduced suicide terrorism in South Asia following the 9/11 attacks on the US, has died in a mine blast in Kandahar, Afghanistan, and his colleagues and friends have brought his body back to Layyah where he has been buried, militant circles and his family said.
Saifur Rehman Saifi, 40, was declared by General Musharraf as the mastermind of the first three suicide attacks in Pakistan against Christians.
Musharraf in his autobiography, “In the line of fire,” mentioned Saifi’s alleged role in the first three suicide attacks pointing out that he was arrested on August 14, 2002. He joined militancy in Layyah, Punjab, at the age of 20 when it was officially declared as Jihad back in 1995 by joining the Harkutul Ansar, now a defunct organisation.–INP
Sharif to target India’s terror link in Obama meeting
October 05, 2015
ISLAMABAD - Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif will carry a bag full of evidences to convince President Bararck Obama that India not Pakistan was a threat to the regional peace when he meets the US leader at the Oval Office on October 22, official sources said yesterday.
“We don’t want to engage in any blame game but since India is not responding positively to our proposals for peace, we also need to tell the US leadership what they (India) have been doing to destabilise us,” a senior official at the foreign ministry told The Nation.
He added, “Despite solid evidences of Indian involvement in Balochistan and FATA (Federally Administrated Tribal Areas), Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif preferred to talk of peace.
He gave proposals for improving ties rather than turning all the guns at India.
Full Report at:
Even ISIS' shadow won't be allowed in Pakistan: Raheel Sharif
October 03, 2015
London: Army chief General Raheel Sharif has said Pakistan would not allow “even a shadow” of Islamic State and termed the group a greater threat than al Qaeda.
“As far as IS is concerned, in Pakistan, even a shadow of IS would not be allowed,” Sharif said in an address to The Royal United Services Institute for Defence and Security Studies in London on Friday.
In May, the Islamic State militant group claimed the killings of at least 43 members of the Shia Ismailis n Karachi.
Leaflets backing IS extremists have been seen recently in parts of the country and pro-IS slogans have appeared on walls in several cities.
“There are people in Islamabad who want to show their allegiance to IS. So it’s a very dangerous phenomenon,” General Raheel said.
The COAS said dealing with the extremist group was set to become an ever greater challenge than the al Qaeda network behind 9/11 attacks in the United States.
“I feel the future challenge is IS. It’s a bigger name. Al Qaeda was a name but IS is now a bigger name,” he said.
The army chief emphasised the reconciliation between Afghan Taliban and the Afghan government. He expressed his fear the Taliban could seek an alliance with IS unless they were brought back to the negotiating table.
“This reconciliation in Afghanistan is very important. If we do not do it in the proper manner and the Afghan Taliban splinter, they would go for a bigger name and that is IS,” General Raheel said.
Army Chief returns from UK
Army Chief General Raheel Sharif returned to the country on Saturday morning after a three-day visit of the UK, DG ISPR, Lt General Asim Bajwa said.
TTP says hanged military officer as revenge for executions
October 04, 2015
DERA ISMAIL KHAN: The Pakistani Taliban has hanged a military intelligence officer in retaliation for recent executions of militants by Pakistan, the militant group said in videos released on Sunday.
Reuters could not independently authenticate the two videos and a Pakistani military spokesman was not immediately able to comment on them.
Pakistan reinstated the death penalty last December after Taliban gunmen massacred 134 school children. Since then the Taliban have staged several deadly attacks, but the videos of the hanging appear to be the first staged execution of a military officer since the restoration of the death penalty.
In the first video, a man identifies himself as Bashir Ahmad Khan, originally from the 19th army air defence unit and later recruited by Pakistan’s military intelligence agency, the Inter-Services Intelligence.
"We were trained to trace the Taliban´s training camps," said the man identified as Khan. He was dressed in plain brown traditional Pakistani clothes and surrounded by armed men wearing masks and camouflage. One unmasked man in white robes kneels beside him.
Two men hold a black banner in the background that is embroidered with the kalma, a Muslim declaration of faith.
In the second video, Khan is shown wrapped in a Pakistani flag, his eyes bound with black cloth and a noose around his neck. One of the masked men says: "The hanging of Bashir Ahmad is our response to the Pakistani government who are busy hanging our group members. This is just the beginning and all those who are in our custody or those who have any links with the Pakistan government will face the same treatment."
After the masked man finishes speaking, he pushes Khan off a rock. As Khan dangles from the rope around his neck, other militants shoot at his body and shout: "God is great."
The videos were provided by Maqbool Dawar, a Taliban commander in the mountainous border region of North Waziristan who is known to Reuters. He did not comment on when or where the video was shot.
Taliban violence in Pakistan has fallen overall since the military launched an offensive in North Waziristan in June 2014.
But the militants have demonstrated that they are still able to carry out sophisticated attacks.
In December, Taliban gunmen killed 134 school children at an army-run school in the northern city of Peshawar. In September, the Taliban killed 39 people when they attacked Badaber air base in the same city.
The school massacre was the deadliest militant attack in the history of Pakistan. The air base attack was the deadliest by militants on a military installation.
Ulema’s co-op sought to ensure peace
October 04, 2015
The members of Punjab Cabinet Committee on Law and Order visited Faisalabad city to review the security arrangements for the month of Muharram.
Headed by Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah Khan, the committee includes Punjab Home Secretary Maj (r) Azam Suleman, IG Punjab Mushtaq Sukhera, Additional IG Special Branch Faisal Shakir, former IG Rana Maqbool. They held meeting with Ulema of Faisalabad Division belonging at Circuit House.
Addressing the meeting, Rana Sanaullah lauded the vital role of Ulema for maintaining religious harmony, and said that the sensitivity had been increased manifold in the wake of operation Zarb-e-Azb.
He urged religious leaders and clerics to forge unity among their ranks and brotherhood, fraternity and national solidarity be promoted to foil the nefarious deigns of the enemies. He said that under the directions of Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif, the Punjab government mobilised resources to maintain peaceful atmosphere during Muharramul Haram. He said that the suggestions and proposals of Ulema would be welcomed for strengthened the Muharram security arrangements.
He said that the govt had strictly banned the use of loudspeakers which helped to stop the hatred speeches. He said that enforcement of law regarding ban on use of loudspeakers had been ensured successfully by the cooperation of religious leaders and scholars. He said that entry of controversial speakers would be banned to avoid any religious disturbance. The law minister said that the Peace Committees remain active and any religious dispute found anywhere be resolved amicably.
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Erdogan’s ‘Anti-Terrorism’ Rally in France Draws Thousands
4 October 2015
Around 12,000 people flocked to hear the Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan address an anti-terrorism rally in the French city of Strasbourg Sunday, one of a number his supporters have organized in the run-up to a snap election in Turkey next month.
A sea of Turkish flags greeted the head of state, who his opponents claim is flouting tradition in campaigning actively for the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), which under his leadership dominated the country for more than a decade.
Erdogan told the crowds gathered from the Turkish diaspora in France, Germany, Belgium and even Switzerland, to resist "the people who threaten our country with arms and with bombs" and would lead it "into the dark tunnels of terrorism".
More than 150 Turkish soldiers and police have been killed since a two-year-old ceasefire with the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) fell apart in late July.
Some 1,500 people angry at the Turkish leader's record on human rights attended a counter demonstration organized by the French Federation of Alevis, a minority group who historically have faced persecution in Turkey.
"The Turkish president should be above party politics, but he is holding an electoral meeting here," said federation leader Erdal Kilickaya.
Erdogan's enemies accuse him of trying to turn an electoral advantage from the return to violence.
Hundreds of activists from the mainly Kurdish Peoples' Democracy Party (HDP) -- which deprived the AKP of its majority in a June election -- have also been arrested in the renewed unrest, with the party's offices regularly attacked.
Thousands Visit German Mosques Open Day
04 October 2015
CAIRO – Inviting non-Muslim neighbors to have a closer look at Islam, German Muslims opened the doors of their mosques last Friday, driven by hope to offer them a true image of Islam as well as to eliminate prejudices spread by media.
The Muslim Coordination Council in Cologne said the open house events across the country focused on young Muslims in Germany and highlighted their stories. The Council had recently launched its own youth league, Deutsche Welle reported.
Held on Saturday, thousands of visitors attended events held at hundreds of mosques in Germany.
Germany's Muslim Coordination Council, a platform bringing together the four largest Muslim organizations in the country, expressed hope on Friday that with the “Open mosque day” they will be able to present to German society the various aspects of Muslim community life and answer questions on Islam.
The Muslim Coordination Council is made up of a number of Islamic organizations across Germany, including the Turkish-Islamic Union of Religious Affairs (DITIB), the Union of Islamic Cultural Centers, the Islamic Council, and the Central Council of Muslims.
It organizes the annual open house events on October 3 to dispel common myths held against Islam.
The annual event began in 1997, deliberately choosing to take place on the day Germany celebrates its reunification. The Central Council of Muslims said it used this date to express how Muslims felt connected to Germany's narrative and evolution.
The Central Council of Muslims said it expected more than 100,000 visitors at over 1,000 mosques in Germany.
The event comes amid increasing influx of Syrian refugees who escaped war in their country to Germany, which coupled with far-right rhetoric accusing Muslims of taking over Europe.
As Germany expects up to one million migrants in 2015, several eastern towns have been grappled with protests against refugee homes and clashes with police.
About 22 arson attacks have targeted would-be or existing refugee shelters since the start of this year, Domestic spy chief Hans-Georg Maassen revealed.
At the weekend, several anti-refugees and anti-Islam protests were held in many eastern states like Saxony, Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania and Leipzig city.
The far-right protests compelled police and soldiers to guard buses carrying 100 refugees to a shelter in the eastern town of Niederau on Saturday.
Western cities have witnessed anti-immigrants protests as well, where unidentified people in Bremen attempted to set fire to a tent that was supposed to house refugees in October.
Germany has Europe's second-biggest Muslim population after France, and Islam comes third in Germany after Protestant and Catholic Christianity.
It has between 3.8 and 4.3 million Muslims, making up some 5 percent of the total 82 million population, according to government-commissioned studies.
Muslim Brotherhood Statement on Iran-Russia Invasion of Syria
Amidst an international conspiracy against the Arab World, and Islamic identity as mainstream Sunni Muslims, courageous Syria and its great men stand steadfast in a historic battle against the Russian and Iranian occupiers and their criminal partner Al-Sisi.
The Muslim Brotherhood reiterates its full support for the Syrian people and the revolution against the treacherous and I Alawite criminal Bashar Al-Assad. The group refuses ongoing endeavors to divide Syria under the auspices of the Mullahs of Iran, the Czars of Russia and the criminal Zionists, with Arab blessing assisted by the heinous Al-Sisi.
The Brotherhood stresses that the continuation of the Russian and Iranian occupation of Syria means matters will get even worse, with the resistance seen in Chechnya and Afghanistan repeated with tragic consequences for Tehran, Moscow and their allies.
The group further stresses that this Iranian Russian invasion does not seek to face up to the 'Islamic State' as declared in the media, but aims to suppress the real revolutionaries fighting Bashar's sectarian repressive regime. It also stresses that the US position is part of the strategy of repression against the Syrian revolution. The US's exceedingly 'soft' criticism of the Russian aerial bombardment of Homs and other towns and villages is simply a part of its effort to hide its ugly face.
The Muslim Brotherhood calls on the free world to support Syria so it would not become another Iraq, Afghanistan or Chechnya. The group warns that this occupation by Russia, Iran and their allies is bound to create a hostile environment along sectarian lines that will plague the whole world.
Last UK resident in Gitmo on hunger strike
October 05, 2015
LONDON : Shaker Aamer, the last British resident held in Guantanamo Bay who is due to be freed in weeks, has said he is on hunger strike and may not make it out alive, the Mail on Sunday reported Sunday.
The newspaper said Aamer, speaking for the first time since the announcement last month that he would be released, also claimed he was still being subjected to physical abuse.
“I know there are people who do not want me ever to see the sun again,” Aamer was quoted as saying in the transcript of a conversation with his British lawyer, Clive Stafford Smith.
“It means nothing that they have signed papers, as anything can happen before I get out.
So if I die, it will be the full responsibility of the Americans,” the 46-year-old was quoted as saying.
Aamer told his lawyer that he had gone on hunger strike in a protest at an alleged assault by Guantanamo guards to force him to give blood samples.
Aamer, a Saudi citizen with permanent British residency, was captured in Tora Bora in eastern Afghanistan in December 2001 and has been in Guantanamo since 2002.
He is alleged to have been a key British-based recruiter and financier for the Al-Qaeda militant network and purportedly worked for Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan, according to US military documents.
He has categorically denied this, saying that he was only volunteering for a charity in Afghanistan at the time.
The Mail on Sunday, which has campaigned for Aamer’s release, also said that in a statement to British police two years ago he detailed abuses he had suffered and witnessed.
Some supporters suggest the reason he has been held so long at Guantanamo is because he may have witnessed the torture of others.
“It may be that no one has suffered more at Guantanamo than Shaker Aamer, because he stood up for his rights and the rights of others - and for this he has constantly been punished,” Stafford Smith told the paper.
Stafford Smith has said he expects Aamer to be released at the end of this month.
Aamer was born in Saudi Arabia in December 1968 and lived in the United States before settling in Britain, where he married and became a resident in 1996.
He and his wife have four children who live in London.
The youngest was born after he was taken into detention.
Spain, Morocco arrest suspected ISIS recruiters
4 October 2015
Spain said it and Morocco arrested 10 people on Sunday suspected of recruiting fighters for ISIS in Syria and Iraq.
Suspects were detained in the Spanish cities of Toledo and Badalona, the small coastal town of Xeraco in Spain’s Valencia region and the Moroccan city of Casablanca, Spain’s interior ministry said.
“Those arrested belong to a network of people that recruited, indoctrinated and sent foreign fighters to join Daesh,” it added, using a name for ISIS.
Spain and Morocco, as well as other countries in Europe and North Africa, have been stepping up efforts to stop citizens joining ISIS, fearing they could return to launch attacks at home.
By the end of September, Spain had been involved in the arrest of 71 suspected Islamist militants at home and abroad, up from 46 in the whole of 2014, according to interior ministry figures.
Merkel says military efforts needed in Syria but they won’t end war
4 October 2015
German Chancellor Angela Merkel told a German radio station that military efforts were necessary in Syria even though they would not put an end to the four-year-old civil war there.
Merkel said she had spoken to Russian President Vladimir Putin about the conflict in Syria on the sidelines of a meeting in Paris on Friday with him and the leaders of France and Ukraine.
“Regarding Syria, I said for the first time: We will need military efforts, but military efforts will not bring the solution; we need a political process but that has not really got going very well yet,” she told Deutschlandfunk.
Merkel also said it would be necessary to involve the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in talks.
Her comments show that support is broadening for military action in Syria and also that Assad will need to play a role at the negotiating table in discussions on ending the war.
The United States and its allies are involved in military action in Syria and Russia has also launched air strikes, saying on Saturday it would step these up.
Germany is not taking part in any military action in Syria but in neighboring Iraq it is providing Kurdish Peshmerga forces with weapons and training.
On the necessity of involving Assad’s government in talks, she said: “It doesn’t mean that we don’t see the terrible effects of what Assad has done and is doing to this day with barrel bombs against the population there,” she said.
“But to get to a political solution, I need both the representatives of the Syrian opposition and those who are currently ruling in Damascus and others as well to get real successes and then above all the allies of the respective groups.”
Merkel said she hoped such a process would get started now and Russia, the U.S., Saudi Arabia and Iran could play an important role as well as Germany, France and Britain.
Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moualem has suggested it would be impossible to end the crisis in his country solely through political negotiations, saying on Friday that no one should think they could achieve in talks what they failed to achieve in the field.
Israel bars Palestinians from entering Jerusalem Old City
5 October 2015
JERUSALEM: Israel took the rare and drastic step of barring Palestinians from Jerusalem’s Old City on Sunday as tensions mounted following attacks that killed two Israelis and wounded a child.
The restrictions will be in place for two days, with only Israelis, tourists, residents of the area, business owners and students allowed, police said.
Worship at the sensitive Al-Aqsa mosque compound will be limited to men aged 50 and above. There will be no age restrictions on women, and worshippers will be allowed to enter through one specific gate.
The Palestinian government denounced “Israeli escalation” after the announcement of the ban, which Israeli Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan called unprecedented.
The usually bustling alleyways of the walled Old City were mostly quiet on Sunday morning, with stores closed and hundreds of police guarding entrances.
Some shops began gradually opening later in the day.
Police fired stun grenades and rubber bullets to disperse protesters at one gate, a journalist reported. Some 300,000 Palestinians live in Israeli-annexed east Jerusalem, where the Old City is located.
The attacks late on Saturday and early Sunday came with Israeli security forces already on alert after recent clashes at the Al-Aqsa compound and surrounding Old City, as well as the murder in the West Bank of a Jewish settler couple in front of their young children.
On Saturday night, a Palestinian said to be an Islamist militant killed two Israeli men and wounded a woman and a toddler in a knife and gun attack in the Old City. Police shot dead the attacker. In a separate incident early on Sunday, a 19-year-old Palestinian stabbed and wounded a passerby in west Jerusalem before being shot dead by police while fleeing.CLASHES: There were clashes elsewhere overnight and on Sunday, and the Red Crescent reported 77 Palestinians wounded from both live rounds and rubber bullets.
Another 139 had been treated for tear gas inhalation and six for injuries sustained in beatings by soldiers or Jewish settlers, a Red Crescent spokeswoman said.
Clashes broke out in areas including Jenin in the West Bank, where Israeli soldiers raided a refugee camp to arrest a Hamas official, and the east Jerusalem neighbourhood of Issawiya, where the attacker in Sunday morning’s stabbing, identified as Fadi Alloun, was from.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was to return from the United States on Sunday and hold consultations with Defence Minister Moshe Yaalon. His security cabinet is also to meet on Monday, after the end of the Jewish Sukkot holiday, Israeli media reported.
There have been fears that the sporadic violence could spin out of control, with some warning of the risk of a third Palestinian intifada, or uprising.
Last week, in his address to the UN General Assembly, Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas said he was no longer bound by previous accords with Israel, accusing the Israeli government of violating them.Saturday’s Old City attack saw a two-year-old child slightly wounded in the leg and taken to hospital. A woman was in serious condition, rescue services said.
Yemen's Defense Ministry Confirms Repelling Saudi Aggression on Bab Al-Mandab
Oct 04, 2015
Speaking in an interview with al-Mayadeen news channel, an informed source dismissed occupation of Bab al-Mandab strait by the Saudi-led coalition and militants loyal to the fugitive president Mansour Hadi.
"Clashes still continue in Bab al-Mandab and the army and popular committees have forced Hadi-affiliated and coalition forces to withdraw," he added.
The source said that the Yemeni forces have managed to repel the attacks launched by the Saudi-backed militia from Lahij Province’s al-Sabiha district against Bab al-Mandab, adding that tens of Saudi forces were killed during the counteroffensives.
The Saudi-led coalition forces sustained heavy casualties in fierce battle with the Yemeni army and Ansarullah forces in an area near Bab al-Mandab strait on Friday and retreated from the region.
The Saudi-led forces launched an offensive on Ansarullah positions near the strategic Bab al-Mandab strait first on Friday but were repelled after sustaining heavy casualties in the Yemeni forces' counteroffensive.
The latest reports said the Saudi-led coalition forces had been pounding Ansarullah and Yemeni army positions in the region with massive missile and air strikes ever since the retreat.
The Yemeni and Ansarullah forces also shot down a Saudi helicopter and drone in the Western parts of the country.
Saudi Arabia has been striking Yemen for 193 days now to restore power to Hadi, a close ally of Riyadh. The Saudi-led aggression has so far killed at least 6,440 Yemenis, including hundreds of women and children.
Hadi stepped down in January and refused to reconsider the decision despite calls by Ansarullah revolutionaries of the Houthi movement.
Despite Riyadh’s claims that it is bombing the positions of the Ansarullah fighters, Saudi warplanes are flattening residential areas and civilian infrastructures.
Tens of Terrorists Killed in Clashes with Yemeni Popular Forces
Oct 04, 2015
"The Yemeni popular forces killed at least 32 terrorists and militias loyal to Mansour Hadi in Ma'rib province," a military source told FNA on Sunday.
Meantime, the Yemeni army and popular committees foiled another attempt by the terrorists to penetrate into Ma'rib province.
"The Yemeni forces have vowed to kill terrorists or push them out of Ma'rib province," the military source said.
On Friday, a military source said that at least 55 troops of the Saudi-led coalition were killed or wounded in the Yemeni army's operation in Ma'rib.
The military source said that, in addition to the killing and wounding of nearly 55 soldiers of the Saudi army and it allies by the Yemeni army, over eight military and 5 armored vehicles of the Saudi-led coalition were destroyed in the vicinity Al-Balaq, Thaat Al-Ra’ and Marbat Al-Dam in Ma'rib during the past few hours.
Saudi Arabia has been striking Yemen for 193 days now to restore power to Hadi, a close ally of Riyadh. The Saudi-led aggression has so far killed at least 6,433 Yemenis, including hundreds of women and children.
Hadi stepped down in January and refused to reconsider the decision despite calls by Ansarullah revolutionaries of the Houthi movement.
Despite Riyadh’s claims that it is bombing the positions of the Ansarullah fighters, Saudi warplanes are flattening residential areas and civilian infrastructures.
Muslims must keep vigilant against Saudi crimes: Iran's defence minister
Oct 5, 2015
Iran's Defense Minister Brigadier General Hossein Dehqan says Muslim countries need to keep vigilant against Saudi Arabia’s crimes, including the recent deadly Mina crush and Riyadh’s military aggression against Yemen.
In a Sunday message to his Lebanese counterpart Samir Moqbel, the Iranian minister said Saudi rulers’ lack of foresight and mismanagement are the reasons behind the tragic stampede in Mina during the Hajj pilgrimage rituals.
“This terrible catastrophe along with inhumane crimes by Saudi rulers against the oppressed and defenceless Yemeni people, which are a reminder of the Zionist regime’s cruel crimes in Lebanon and Palestine, raises the alarm that [such crimes] should be stopped through absolute vigilance and prudence of Muslim countries,” Dehqan said.
The crush took place on September 24 after two large masses of pilgrims fused at a crossroads in Mina, a few kilometers east of the holy city of Mecca, on their way to participate in the symbolic stoning of Satan in Jamarat.
Saudi Arabia claims nearly 770 people were killed in the incident, but officials with Iran’s Hajj and Pilgrimage Organization say about 4,700 people, including 464 Iranians, lost their lives in the tragedy.
Dehqan emphasized that the tragic Mina crush was a “test” for Muslim nations to adopt necessary measures and form a fact-finding committee to determine the exact cause of the incident and prevent reoccurrence of such a tragedy in the future.
Saudi Arabia launched its military aggression against its southern neighbor Yemen on March 26 – without a UN mandate -- in a bid to undermine the growing popular Houthi Ansarullah movement and restore power to fugitive former Yemeni President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, who is a staunch ally of Riyadh.
About 6,400 people, including some 500 children, have reportedly lost their lives since March.
Leader attends memorial service for Mina victims
Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei on Sunday attended a ceremony to commemorate the Iranian pilgrims killed in the Mina crush.
Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei attends a ceremony in the capital, Tehran, on October 4, 2015 to commemorate the Iranian pilgrims killed in the Mina stampede. © leader.ir
Senior Iranian officials, including President Hassan Rouhani, Parliament (Majlis) Speaker Ali Larijani, Judiciary Chief Ayatollah Sadeq Amoli Larijani, Chairman of the Expediency Council Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, and a number of senior clerics were also present in the ceremony.
The bodies of 218 Iranian victims have so far been returned to the country by two separate flights.
Israelis kill 3 Palestinians, injure 400 in West Bank: PRCS
Oct 5, 2015
At least three Palestinians have been killed and 400 others wounded in clashes with Israeli forces and settlers in the occupied West Bank during the past 24 hours, says the Palestine Red Crescent Society (PRCS).
The PRCS said in a statement late on Sunday that 32 Palestinians had been shot with live rounds and 188 others with rubber-coated steel bullets since Saturday evening.
According to the statement, some 234 others were hospitalized due to excessive tear gas inhalation or beatings by Israeli security forces or settlers.
On Sunday, the Red Crescent declared a state of emergency across the occupied Palestinian territory following an upsurge in violence by Israeli troops and settlers.
The statement listed at least 14 attacks against Red Crescent staff and vehicles by Israeli forces and settlers over the past 72 hours, describing the violence as “a serious escalation of violations against PRCS, its teams and the humanitarian services they render.”
Earlier in the day, Israeli police shot dead a Palestinian youth identified as Fadi Samir Mustafa Alloun near the Damascus Gate of al-Aqsa Mosque compound after accusing him of attempting to stab an Israeli settler.
This is while a video of the moments leading to Alloun’s death shows him running toward an Israeli police patrol as a group of settlers are chasing him.
Following Alloun’s killing, tens of Israeli settlers stormed Palestinian homes and properties in the area, shouting anti-Arab and anti-Islam slogans. They also stormed Alloun’s home and reportedly abducted three of his family members.
A day earlier, Palestinian sources said two Israelis were killed and two others wounded in a clash between a Palestinian youth named as Mohannad Rafiq Halab and Israeli settlers in the occupied Old City of al-Quds.
There have been increasing clashes between Israelis and Palestinians over the storming of the al-Aqsa Mosque by settlers, who are being backed by Israel forces.
Israeli security forces arrive in front of Damascus Gate, in the Muslim quarter of the occupied al-Quds' Old City, before being dispatched to patrol the streets on October 5, 2015. (AFP photo)
On Monday, Israeli forces deployed at the entrance of the Old City stopped and pushed back Palestinians trying to enter the area, which hosts the highly revered al-Aqsa Mosque.
Israel has imposed sweeping restrictions on entries into al-Aqsa Mosque compound since August 26.
Tel Aviv has also threatened to launch new military operations against Palestinians following the deaths of two Israelis over the weekend in al-Quds.
Meanwhile, Palestinian media quoting Israel's channel 2 reported disagreements between Israeli rabbis over attacking the al-Aqsa Mosque compound.
The report said that a number of Israeli rabbis have warned their followers against traveling to East al-Quds to avoid being caught in the middle of retaliatory operations carried out by Palestinians.
Turkey says Russian warplane violated its airspace
5 October 2015
A Russian warplane violated Turkish airspace near the Syrian border on Saturday, prompting the Air Force to scramble two F-16 jets to intercept it, the Foreign Ministry said on Monday.
The Foreign Ministry summoned Moscow’s ambassador to protest the violation, according to an e-mailed statement.
Turkey urged Russia to avoid repeating such a violation, or it would be held “responsible for any undesired incident that may occur.”
Foreign Minister Feridun Sinirlioglu spoke with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov, as well as key NATO partners, the statement said.
Russia launched air strikes last week against forces opposed to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Tunisia Joining US-Led Coalition Against Daesh
5 October 2015
TUNIS — Tunisia’s prime minister said that his country is joining the US-led military coalition fighting the Daesh group in Syria and Iraq mainly to “exchange information.” Joining the coalition would allow Tunis to “obtain all information linked to the war on terror in Tunisia,” Habib Essid told media. On Tuesday, US President Barack Obama announced Tunisia had joined the coalition, along with Nigeria and Malaysia, and that the alliance now comprised more than 60 countries. The coalition “includes countries with more information than us,” the Tunisian premier said. Asked whether Tunisia would take part in any military operations, Essid said: “There are cases in which a country can be asked to provide military support in which case we will revert to article 77 of the constitution.” ,This article provides for “forces to be sent abroad with the agreement of the heads of the parliament and the government.” — AP
Boko Haram targets Islam cleric’s son for converting to Christianity
By Wale Odunsi
October 5, 2015
A 35-year old man, simply identified as Raphael, has raised the alarm over threats by members of Boko Haram militants to kill him.
He also narrated how the Boko Haram sect burnt his stores, father’s house, offices, and thereafter killed one of his cousins, an undergraduate at the University of Maiduguri.
Trouble started when he converted to the Christian faith contrary to the wishes of his father, and other relatives.
“A few months after my conversion to Christianity, I received several threats and warnings from the insurgents, telling me to revert to my former religion or face dire consequences,” he told National Mirror.
“I received written threats saying I could only run but could not hide, which I took to the Police and they told me they would do something about it, but nothing was done. If they had done something about it, I wouldn’t have received the second note that said I could only run but could not hide.”
“I was born in Maiduguri, Borno State, but my father was from Oyo State while my mother was born in Abuja. Both of them had been living in Maiduguri before I and my siblings were born. My father is a Muslim, and I was born into a Muslim home. I am into buying and selling of animal skins, a business I started after my National Diploma (ND) education at The Polytechnic, Ibadan in 2007/2008, and I have so many people working under me.
“In 2012, I lost my mum to illness, and towards the end of that year, I converted from Islam to Christianity. My father and all other Muslims around the neighborhood who knew my father were not happy with my conversion, because my father is one of the leaders of the Islamic group, Nasru lahi fathi (NASFAT) branch in Maiduguri.
“I am a member of the youth association in Gwange ward, and I give them financial assistance and sometimes release my bus to them for developmental projects.
“I conducted my own investigations. One of my neighbours whose brother received the same notes because of his conversion a few years ago was killed by an unknown killer.
“My family members and I have been marked for death, and everyone in the community denied ever knowing me or my family because they said I was one of the people supporting the youth with finance and cars to protest against them and kill their members.”
Raphael, who released his image, further appealed to President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration to intensify efforts so as to defeat the Boko Haram insurgents.
Kano Emir: Nigerians Will Skip Jamaraat in Future
04 October 2015
LAGOS – Nigeria's emir of Kano and leader of the country's delegation to 2015 Hajj Muhammadu Sanusi II has sparked many debates after saying pilgrims from the country may henceforth skip the stone-throwing ritual, an aspect of the holy pilgrimage, if the Saudi authorities do not assign to them tents that are closer to the jamaraat.
"It will be part of my recommendations to the federal government that, if we cannot get accommodation close to Jamrat where the Arabs reside in Mina, then this year may be the last time we will sleep in Mina and Muzdalifa because we want to stone the devil," according to Sanusi.
Sanusi, himself a Muslim scholar and former governor of Nigeria's central bank, said he would recommend to the government to direct its delegation not to partake in the jamaraat in subsequent hajj after dozens of its pilgrims died in the recent stampede in Mina, Saudi Arabia, where over 800 pilgrims died.
The Emir argued that failure to observe the stone-throwing ritual does not invalidate a pilgrim's hajj.
“If one deliberately refuses to even perform the stoning of the devil rituals, all he needs to do is to slaughter a ram. So, if this is the situation, why do we go and suffer and die instead of sacrificing a ram?" Sanusi said.
“As is it presently, sleeping in Mina and Muzdalifa is not backed by any Hadith or verse of the Qur’an. So, why do we continue to do it?”
The stampede occurred on Thursday, September 24, when hundreds of pilgrims died and almost one thousand injured in a stampede outside Makkah.
It began at around 9:00 am (0600 GMT), shortly after the civil defense service said on Twitter it was dealing with a "crowding" incident in Mina, about five kilometers (three miles) from Makkah.
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Militants loyal to ISIS claim suicide bombings in Nigerian capital
5 October 2015
Militants claiming loyalty to ISIS said they were behind suicide bombings near the Nigerian capital Abuja which killed at least 15 people, a statement on Twitter said on Sunday.
On Friday, suicide bombers attacked two suburbs of Abuja.
President Muhammadu Buhari had blamed Boko Haram, which has waged a six-year campaign to carve out an Islamist state in northern Nigeria, for the Abuja attack.
But militants claiming loyalty to ISIS said they had conducted the suicide bombings, according to the statement. The authenticity of the statement, which did not mention Boko Haram and was issued under the name ‘Islamic State West Africa’, could not be verified.
It named three suicide bombers who it said were behind the attacks, the statement said.
In May, the leader of the ISIS militant group that controls parts of Syria and Iraq accepted a pledge of allegiance from Boko Haram, according to his spokesman.
But the extent of cooperation between the two groups is not known.
U.N. envoy warns: Libya deal has to be signed now
3 October 2015
The U.N. secretary general’s special envoy for Libya, Bernardino Leon, warned that Libya’s rival factions must hurry up and sign the U.N.-brokered deal after its texts were finalized or else their country will face more “chaos,” the envoy said in an interview with Al Arabiya News Channel’s correspondent in New York Talal al-Haj.
Libya has had two parliaments and two governments since August 2014 when Islamist-backed militias seized Tripoli, prompting the internationally recognized government to take refuge in the far east of the country.
The U.N. meeting on Friday called to push all sides to come up with a new power-sharing authority that can start pulling the north African country out of the chaos that has spread since the 2011 fall of longtime dictator Muammar al-Qaddafi.
Leon, who met with the Libyan rival factions in New York, was asked if the meeting was open-ended or there was a higher limit of days for it to materialize, he said: “Well after the meeting this morning it is not anymore what I think.”
“I have to abide by what the members of the U.N. have told us this morning, and what they have told us this morning that we have to expedite the end of the process,” he said.
If the rivals do not “expedite” the process, Leon said a deal should be reached before Oct. 20, when the mandate of the internationally-recognized parliament expires.
“[The limit is] 20 October and the risk of getting in further chaos has to be prevented, and the way to do it is having this agreement now, having this government now, so the message is that we have little time and we have to try to reach this government ASAP,” he warned.
The United Nations has been piling pressure on Libyan factions to take the final step and make the appointments after months of difficult negotiations and missed deadlines.
Leon, however, expressed some positivity when he said: “All the participants are telling us that they understand the time has come to make this unity government where they can all work together,” adding “all parties continue to realize that the enemy in Libya is chaos.”
But if he has to answer out of experience of tough negotiations, “the fight up to the very last minute is to try to get what they want or at least a result which is as close as possible to what they want. I can tell you that may be it will take more than one or two days.”
He warned, however, that the “chaos” in Libya is being used by Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) militants.
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Bodies of 95 refugees wash up on Libya shores
Oct 4, 2015
The Libyan Red Crescent says the bodies of nearly 100 refugees have washed up on the North African country’s shores over the past few days.
On Sunday, a spokesman for the Libyan Red Crescent, Mohamed al-Masrati, said 95 bodies had been found over the last five days on Libyan shores.
Masrati said 85 corpses had washed up near the Libyan capital, Tripoli, and another 10 near the Libyan coastal city of Sabartha.
According to the Red Crescent spokesman, most of the victims were refugees from other African countries, attempting to enter European states by setting off from Libya.
In recent months, thousands of refugees, mostly from Africa and the Middle East, have fled war and unrest in their countries in order to gain entry to wealthier European countries.
Many bodies belonging to asylum seekers have been washing up on the shores of Libya, Greece, and Turkey in recent months.
A number of EU member states, such as Hungary, have so far closed their borders or suspended crossing points to stop the refugee influx.
EU leaders have agreed to provide the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) and the World Food Program (WFP) with one billion Euros in a bid to address the worsening refugee crisis.
Figures released by the United Nations (UN) indicate that some 500,000 people have entered Europe so far this year. Some 3,000 have lost their lives at sea.