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Islamic World News ( 6 Jan 2022, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Security Threat From Islamic State: Taliban Recruiting Suicide Bombers To Army Ranks To Bolster Defences

New Age Islam News Bureau

06 January 2022


A display of Taliban suicide vests, bombs and weapons was shown on television in Afghanistan


• Telegram Channel Targeting Hindu Women Surfaces After 'Bulli Bai', Minister Says Action Taken

• Muslims Face A Suicide Crisis In America; The Taboo Of Talking About It Must End

• 3,280 Schools Closed In Burkina Faso Due To Terrorism

• Iran’s Judiciary Chief Blasts US, Canada’s Hypocritical Approach towards Human Rights


South Asia

• ‘Allah Has Blessed Us’: Rain Hits Major Afghan Cities, That Were Was Reeling Under Draught, After Salat ul Istisqa

• Afghan Taliban turn blind eye to Pakistani militants

• Bangladesh Destroys 3,000 Shops Belonging To Rohingya Muslim Refugees

• UN collects $1.5 billion to address Afghanistan’s humanitarian crisis

• It is time for world to recognize Taliban: Deputy FM

• Taliban pilots crash MD-530 helicopter in Kandahar during training



• ‘Bulli Bai’ App: Women in Criminal Law Association Condemn Targeting of Muslim Women, Demand Immediate Action

• Gurugram Offered A Dizzy New Modernity; Neighbourhoods Called Beverly Park, Nirvana • County And Wellington Estate, Now Has Street Groups Cheering Nathuram Godse

• RSS To Reach Out To Muslim Women In UP To Apprise F The Measures Taken By The BJP Governments At The Centre And The State

• Jaish trio killed in Pulwama encounter, arms recovered

• Malwani module: NIA court accepts guilty pleas, convicts both ISIS recruiters


North America

• US Muslims Call For Action As ‘Spying’ Incidents Shake Community

• For Muslim Migrants, Religious Prejudice Compounds Horrors Of Latin American Route

• US-Coalition Against ISIS Faces Dual Attacks In Syria And Iraq By Iran-Backed Groups

• US politician Rashida Tlaib running for new Detroit-area seat after redistricting



• Israeli Defence Chief Meets Jordanian King In Reset Of Ties

• Algeria says envoy to France to resume duties

• Tunisian judiciary refers 19 people to trial for ‘electoral crimes’

• Islamic City Petitions Buhari Over Ejection Plans



• Hamas Official: Resistance Movements Won’t Accept Continuation Of Israeli Siege On Gaza

• Iran, France Vow to Broaden Judicial Cooperation

• Iran Rescues 11 Indian Crew before Vessel Sinks in Persian Gulf

• Iran to Prosecute 127 Persons Involved in Assassination of General Soleimani

• Iran, Nicaragua to Further Expand Cultural Ties

• Palestinian killed by Israel army in West Bank: Sources

• Palestinian-American gets 2 life terms for Israeli teen’s murder



• Martyrs' Blood Went Into Pak-Afghan Border Fencing, Will Continue As Planned: DG ISPR

• Seniority Neither Requirement Nor Convention For Elevation To SC: Body

• Pakistan: Imran Khan's PTI under scanner after EC report on foreign funding

• After Taliban took power in Kabul, terror attacks in Pakistan surged

• Lord Nazir Ahmed convicted of sexual offences

• Pakistan, GCC finalise action plan for strategic dialogue


Southeast Asia

• Aceh's Residents On 31-Year Waiting List For Mecca Hajj: Official

• Indonesian Prosecutors Seek Life for Bali Bombing Suspect

• Islamic religious dept to rein in Raja Bomoh for anti-rain ritual

• Covid-19: Umrah pilgrim becomes first Omicron case in Sabah, says state minister


Arab World

• US Lawsuit Filed Against Lebanon And Its Powerful Intelligence Agency

• Israel issues first sentence in mob attack on Arab driver

• Arab Coalition receives distress signal from oil tanker off Yemen’s Hodeidah port

• Rocket attack hits military camp near Baghdad Airport

• Israeli tank fire hits south-western Syrian village as choppers hover overhead: Report

• Rockets target Ain al-Assad base hosting US troops in Iraq's Anbar

• Gen. Soleimani Rushed To Iraq’s Aid Against Daesh At Critical Time: President Salih



• EU Calls For Restraint On All Sides In Kazakhstan

• Diplomats scuffle at Afghan embassy in Rome

• Kazakhstan's president fails to quell protests, 8 deaths reported

• Kuwait's Jazeera Airways suspends Kazakhstan flights amid unrest

• Moscow-led alliance sends first troops to Kazakhstan: Statement

• Blair's defence secretary says he was told to burn memo saying Iraq war may be illegal

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau



Security Threat From Islamic State: Taliban Recruiting Suicide Bombers To Army Ranks To Bolster Defences


A display of Taliban suicide vests, bombs and weapons was shown on television in Afghanistan


January 06, 2022

The Taliban will officially recruit suicide bombers to become part of the army as the militant group tries to contain its biggest security threat from rival Islamic State since forming government in Afghanistan four months ago.

Before sweeping into power last year, the Taliban used suicide bombers as a key weapon to attack and defeat US and Afghan troops in the 20-year war. Now the group wants to reform and organize the scattered squads of suicide bombers across the country to operate under a single unit and protect Afghanistan, said the Taliban's deputy spokesman Bilal Karimi.

Their main target now would be the local offshoot of the Islamic State, which has carried out at least five major attacks as the Taliban looked to consolidate power after the US withdrew from Afghanistan in August. Several of those attacks were carried out by suicide bombers.

"The special forces that include martyrdom seekers will be used for more sophisticated and special operations," Karimi said by phone, without providing details.

The militant group is building a "strong and organized army to bolster defense" nationwide and at the borders with the suicide bombers becoming a integral part of the strategy, Karimi added. Some 150,000 fighters will be invited to join the military, Al Jazeera reported in November, citing the Taliban's chief of staff Qari Fasihuddin.

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The recruitment drive comes after the Taliban purged the military ranks to stop those who were conducting house-to-house searches to settle scores with opponents, according to spokesman Zabihullah Mujahed. The group also said it had begun to identify and capture possible Islamic State infiltrators within their own ranks.

Islamic State fighters have constantly challenged the authority of the Taliban, prompting concerns that Afghanistan could descend into another war. The group's deadliest attack took place on Aug. 26 when a suicide bomber killed nearly 200 people including 13 US marines in Kabul airport as desperate Afghans were waiting for U.S. evacuation flights to flee the country.

Source: ND TV

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Telegram Channel Targeting Hindu Women Surfaces After 'Bulli Bai', Minister Says Action Taken


Pages abusing Hindu women have surfaced on social media platforms.


Jan 05, 2022

Amid the Bulli Bai row, several channels on social media platforms like Facebook and Telegram allegedly targetting Hindu women have been brought to the notice of IT minister Ashwini Vaishnaw on Wednesday. Talking about a particular channel on Telegram, the minister said the channel has already been taken down. A verified user complained against this particular Telegram channel which was created in June 2021 and has been targeting Hindu women, sharing their photos and abusing them. "Channel blocked. Government of India coordinating with police authorities of states for action," the minister tweeted.

Channel blocked. Government of India coordinating with police authorities of states for action.

— Ashwini Vaishnaw (@AshwiniVaishnaw) January 5, 2022

Uttarakhand girl arrested in Bulli Bai app case is a class 12 pass-out. She’s 18

The abusive pages come amid the ongoing Bulli Bai app case, in connection with which three people have been arrested so far, including two from Uttarakhand and one from Bengaluru. Mumbai Police Commissioner Hemant Nagrale said some more people could be involved in this matter. "The probe in the case is on and anyone involved in the crime directly or indirectly will be arrested and prosecuted,” he said.

The Mumbai police had registered an FIR against unidentified persons following complaints that doctored photographs of hundreds of Muslim women were uploaded for ‘auction’ on the app called `Bulli Bai', hosted on the open-source software platform GitHub. While there was no actual `auction' or `sale', the purpose of the app seemed to be to humiliate and intimidate the targeted women, many of whom are active social media users. The Mumbai cyber police station has also registered a case against the app's unidentified developers and Twitter handles which promoted it.

Source: Hindustan Times

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Muslims Face A Suicide Crisis In America; The Taboo Of Talking About It Must End


AFP via Getty Images


Rania Awaad and Taimur Kouser

January 3, 2022

Sana was gripped with fear. Her mind raced as she debated whether Allah would forgive her for being so ungrateful. She became certain that her new-born and toddler would be better off without her, a mother who couldn’t bond with her children.

The thoughts surprised her. Sana considered herself religious and was aware that suicide is forbidden in Islam. But it seemed like the only solution.

Her characteristically joyful personality had given way to uncontrollable feelings of guilt, despair and hypocrisy. Here she was, a lawyer and teacher of the Islamic sciences, considering suicide.

Seeking help from friends was futile, as they told her what she already felt – she was suffering from weak iman (faith). They encouraged her to read more of the Quran and pray to restore her faith and gratitude.

On the day Sana had planned to die by suicide, a concerned friend called to check in. She had just completed a suicide response training developed by the Stanford Muslim Mental Health & Islamic Psychology (MMHIP) Lab and offered by Maristan, a community partner with the lab.

Sana’s friend recognized red flags that she had learned about, explained to Sana that her symptoms were the result of postpartum depression, and insisted that she take her to an emergency room for a psychiatric evaluation.

Learning about her symptoms and that they were unrelated to her level of education or religiosity helped to comfort Sana and ultimately saved her life.

Mental illness is still highly stigmatized around the world, but its stigma in Muslim communities is especially strong. Instead of seeing mental health challenges as medical problems requiring (in part) medical solutions, many Muslims view such challenges as purely spiritual ones that can be prayed away or addressed with similar spiritual solutions.

Suicide, in particular, is a taboo within a taboo not only because of its connection to a mental health vocabulary, but also because it is morally forbidden in Islam.

A combination of Quranic verses and Hadith (narrations of the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him) underscores God’s explicit prohibition of killing oneself, emphasizing the special status that He has given to each human life and reminding Muslims about the nature of trials in this life and the need and goodness of patiently enduring them.

But moral prohibitions alone do not afford Muslims blanket immunity from suffering suicidal thoughts or dying by suicide. Research shows that a significant number of Muslims attempt and die by suicide each year, despite the fact that reported rates of Muslim deaths by suicide are low.

There also might be a good reason to believe that the rates are actually much higher than reported. In addition to its social stigma, suicide is criminalized in many Muslim-majority countries, which may yield underreporting or misclassification of deaths by suicide as “accidental deaths.”

American Muslims at higher risk

In the United States, our recent study published in JAMA Psychiatry – through a partnership among our Stanford MMHIP Lab, the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding, and the Institute for Muslim Mental Health – showed that American Muslims are twice as likely as any other religious group to report previous suicide attempts.

As noted in The Economist, it is hard to imagine that this is not linked to the high rates of Islamophobia and anti-Muslim sentiment that defined post-9/11 experiences for most American Muslims. But there’s more, too.

Mental health is not only stigmatized, and culturally and religiously congruent resources not easily accessible, but American Muslims also suffer from unique stressors in their daily lives that hurt their mental well-being.

For example, our study showed that experiencing discrimination – especially the combination of Islamophobic and gender-based discrimination – increased suicide attempts by 180%. And gay and bisexual Muslims were eight times as likely to report attempting suicide.

Cultural assimilation also plays a major role. U.S.-born Muslims were much more likely to attempt suicide than their immigrant-born predecessors.

Ultimately, the study underscores that there is a growing suicide crisis afflicting the American Muslim community.

Over the past several years, our Stanford MMHIP Lab has been contacted by numerous Muslim communities in the United States and abroad following deaths by suicide. It became clear to us that we needed to develop custom-tailored resources for Muslim communities to help them navigate the impact of suicide on their communities.

By April, when two brothers killed themselves and their family members in a murder suicide in the Muslim community in Allen, Texas, we had completed the first draft of a suicide prevention, intervention and post-intervention manual that integrates the latest evidence-based scientific research on suicide along with Islamic ethics and moral teachings.

Within 24 hours of the Allen tragedy, our team had hosted multiple virtual training sessions for Muslim leaders in the Dallas area, including training specific to imams, other religious leaders and mental health professionals.

We also published a widely circulated article on the do’s and don’ts of suicide response for Muslims who were reeling after the brothers’ graphic suicide note had gone viral. Our goal was to prevent a suicide contagion in U.S. Muslim communities.

Addressing suicide has been a major gap in Muslim communities worldwide, but we are finally beginning to take meaningful steps to combat the troubling anecdotal, clinical and research findings that show an increase in suicidal ideation and deaths by suicide.

The Stanford MMHIP Lab recently received a John Templeton Foundation grant to study Islamic-inspired character virtues that may serve as unique resiliency and protective factors against suicide, representing a significant stride in Muslim mental health research.

Suicide prevention training is available

Several recent tragedies were the catalyst for Maristan to launch its 500 Imam Campaign with a goal to train at least 500 Muslim leaders across the country in 2022 in suicide prevention, intervention and post-intervention. Maristan’s five-year goal is to train leaders in all 3,000 mosques across the USA.

Muslim communities seem finally to be waking up to the reality of mental illness and the acute need to address it through collaborations among mental health professionals and community and religious leaders.

But there is still much work to do. Effective suicide prevention in Muslim communities requires more information, more commitment and more communication. It requires the entire community to engage. It requires a solution that is medical and spiritual, and one that meets each community where it is at and uses tools from varying traditions to engage the problem effectively.

We need more research to document the extent of the problem, more resources to provide care based in the Islamic tradition, more communication about the importance of mental health care, more recognition of unique stressors, and more leadership to responsibly guide communities to a healthier future.

Yet, there is reason for hope. At Maristan's first in-person suicide prevention training in September, an imam was the first person to arrive. And he sat in the front row. A few years ago, he had brushed off the need to talk about mental health, despite our efforts to seek his support.

Dr. Rania Awaad is an associate professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the Stanford University School of Medicine. Taimur Kouser is a Masters in Bioethics & Science Policy student at Duke University.

Source: Yahoo News

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3,280 Schools Closed In Burkina Faso Due To Terrorism


(Representative Image)


Aurore Bonny


DOUALA, Cameroon

Raids by armed extremists have forced the closure of more than 3,000 schools in Burkina Faso, affecting thousands of students and teachers, the government said Wednesday.

The Ministry of National Education, Literacy, and the Promotion of National Languages said that as of Dec. 31, 2021, 3,280 schools had been closed.

The figure accounts for 13.09% of the country's schools or 511,221 students and 14,901 teachers.

"This is very impressive and there are reasons for concern," government spokesman Alkassoum Maiga said at a press briefing.

However, 205 schools involving 39,812 students and 1,099 teachers have been reopened and 25 schools have also been relocated, according to Maiga.

"This allows us to meet the education imperative, especially for those in exam classes," he said, pointing to the re-enrollment of 135,981 students whose parents are internally displaced persons (IDPs).

In May 2021, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) noted that closures affected 304,450 students, including 156,456 boys and 147,994 girls, and 11,068 teachers, including 7,259 men and 3,809 women, noting "a fairly turbulent security situation."

The West African country has been the target of recurring terrorist attacks since 2015.

After “the first Burkinabe school attacks were recorded in 2017, the number and severity of these attacks have been on the rise,” according to Human Right Watch.

"School attacks and disruptions to schooling have reduced the quality of education provided and caused many students to fall behind academically," the organization noted.

Terrorism has also caused the internal displacement of more than 1.4 million people and food insecurity for more than 2.8 million people, OCHA reported.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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Iran’s Judiciary Chief Blasts US, Canada’s Hypocritical Approach towards Human Rights


Terming Canada as a human rights violater, Judiciary Chief noted that today, the notion of human rights has become a tool for putting pressure on independent states.



Those who have committed the most brutal crimes, taken anti-human measures, displaced the oppressed people worldwide, and annihilated countries' infrastructures claim now that they are after human rights, Mohseni Eje’i said, addressing a meeting in Tehran on Wednesday also participated by Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian, Secretary of the Supreme National Security Council (SNSC) Ali Shamkhani and Judiciary Deputy Chief and Secretary-General of Iran's Human Rights Headquarters Kazzem Qaribabadi.

He stressed the need not to take a passive approach towards the issue of the human rights.

Mohseni Eje’i further appreciated measures taken by different bodies in the country to defend the Islamic Republic of Iran against human rights-related allegations.

He added that the US as the main supporter of terrorism accuses Iran of supporting terrorists.

Also, Canada that has killed indigenous people and children often sponsors human rights resolutions against Iran, the official noted, adding that such claims shock the world.

Also in the meeting, Qaribabadi said that the US and the West have turned the issue of human rights as an anti-Iran project and make use of all their capacities to proceed their project.

In relevant remarks in November, Deputy Permanent Representative of the Islamic Republic of Iran to the United Nations Zahra Ershadi condemned the politically-tainted human rights resolution drafted by Canada against Iran, saying that the world will not forget violation of the indigenous Canadian people's rights.

"The biased and non-constructive draft resolution, on which the third committee is about to take action, is an insincere and indefensible political move. Replete with factual errors, the draft resolution marks selective and politicized distortion of the realities on the ground and unmasks the deliberate hostile policy of incitement to Iranophobia. Like any other country-specific resolutions under this agenda item, Iran has clearly rejected this draft resolution since it was first introduced," she said.

"An examination of the list of the draft resolution’s main sponsors – namely Canada, the United States, the child-killer Israeli regime and certain Western countries – exposes the fact that the main proponents of racism, occupation, and those behind the abhorrent murder of indigenous peoples have come together to lecture others on human rights."

"The West may choose silence over Canada’s horrendous crimes, but history will never forget that in the so-called land of the free, thousands of indigenous children were sexually abused, killed and dumped in mass graves," Ershadi added.

"The United States has also earned its place in the history books, as systematic attacks on people of African descent, Muslims and Asian Americans continue with no end in sight. The US police have even taken a step forward and strangle African Americans in broad daylight."

Asking how can the draft resolution be taken seriously when the child-killer Israeli regime continues to commit all core international crimes," the Iranian envoy said, "The international community must hold the Israeli regime accountable for shedding the blood of countless Palestinian people."

"In an attempt to whitewash its vicious campaign of genocide, Canada has colluded with the Special Rapporteur on the [so-called] Situation of Human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran and invited him to a session in order to support its baseless allegations and lobby against my Country. It reminds us of a famous Iranian proverb about fox’s trickery, which says: They asked the fox who is your witness? He said, my tail. The proverb applies to one who brings his own dependents as evidence to testify in his favor. FACT, a culprit cannot call a complicit as a witness to the court."

"The majority of Member States have repeatedly rejected the manipulation of human rights for political objectives, and have insisted on the imperative of the promotion and protection of human rights in all countries through constructive dialogue, engagement and cooperation. Unfortunately, in many cases these principles are not upheld, and these important mechanisms have mostly failed to fulfill their duties," Ershadi said.

Source: Fars News Agency

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 South Asia

 ‘Allah Has Blessed Us’: Rain Hits Major Afghan Cities, That Were Was Reeling Under Draught, After Salat ul Istisqa

January 06, 2022

Afghanistan’s southern city of Kandahar was reeling under draught a week ago, but the situation changed after thousands of Afghans gathered to make a special prayer for rain (Salatul Istisqa).

For two days it has been raining in the region and the metrological department has predicted a week-long downpour for the desperate people of the city.

On December 25, Kandahar’s Information and Culture department chief, Hafiz Saidullah, told the media that tens of thousands of people from towns and villages had joined the prayers.

The prayers were organised by the Islamic Emirate and pictures and videos of the prayers were widely shared on different social media platforms.

According to an Islamic Emirate official, Supreme Leader Hibatullah Akhundzada also sent a message and greetings to the attendees, urging them to work harder. Netizens reacted to the rain and called it a blessing of Allah at the right time.

Farhan Hotak, a freelance journalist in Kabul tweeted: “Kandahar City, Aino Mina, people are coming to enjoy miraculous rain that hasn’t happened in a long time”. In another tweet, he said: “A local farmer in Lashkargah tells me that this year’s crops look promising for him, wheat will be good he says.”

Hasib Noor, Founder and Director of The Legacy Institute in the United States, attached a picture of prayers and tweeted: “There was a drought in Afghanistan. 1000s of Afghans (Kandahar pictured below) gathered to pray the rain prayer asking Allah for rain. It started raining and will rain for a week. Allah is the greatest.”

Muslims traditionally pray for rain (Salatul Istisqa) during drought-like situations in different parts of the world. Currently, a humanitarian crisis is looming in Afghanistan and the county is witnessing the worst drought and food shortages in decades. Millions are on the verge of starvation.

Source: 5Pillarsuk

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Afghan Taliban turn blind eye to Pakistani militants

January 06, 2022

PESHAWAR: Each year on Jan. 17, Shahana bakes a cake and invites friends to her home in the Pakistani city of Peshawar. They sing happy birthday for her son, even light a candle. But it’s a birthday without the birthday boy.

Her son, Asfand Khan, was 15 in December 2014 when gunmen rampaged through his military-run public school in Peshawar killing 150 people, most of them students, some as young as 5. Asfand was shot three times in the head at close range.

The attackers were Pakistani Taliban, who seven years later have once again ramped up their attacks, seemingly emboldened by the return of Afghanistan’s Taliban to power in Kabul. In the last week of December, they killed eight Pakistani army personnel in a half dozen attacks and counter attacks, all in the country’s northwest. Another two Pakistani soldiers were killed in an attack on Taliban outposts late Wednesday night.

The Pakistani Taliban, known by the acronym TTP, are regrouping and reorganizing, with their leadership headquartered in neighboring Afghanistan, according to a UN report from July. That is raising fears among Pakistanis like Shahana of a return of the horrific violence the group once inflicted.

Yet the Afghan Taliban have shown no signs of expelling TTP leaders or preventing them from carrying out attacks in Pakistan, even as Pakistan leads an effort to get a reluctant world to engage with Afghanistan’s new rulers and salvage the country from economic collapse.

It is a dilemma faced by all of Afghanistan’s neighbors and major powers like China, Russia and the United States as they ponder how to deal with Kabul.

Multiple militant groups found safe haven in Afghanistan during more than four decades of war, and some of them, like the TTP, are former battlefield allies of the Afghan Taliban.

So far, the Taliban have appeared unwilling or unable to root them out. The sole exception is the Islamic State affiliate, which is the Taliban’s enemy and has waged a campaign of violence against them and for years against Afghanistan’s minority Shiite Muslims, killing hundreds in dozens of horrific attacks targeting, schools, mosques, even a maternity hospital

Washington has identified the Islamic State branch, known by the acronym IS-K, as its major militant worry emanating from Afghanistan. The Taliban’s longtime ally Al-Qaeda is not seen as a strong threat. Though US military leaders say there are signs it may be growing slightly, it is struggling near rudderless, with its current leader, Ayman Al-Zawahri, alive but unwell, according to the July UN report.

Still, there are plenty of other militants based in Afghanistan, and they are raising concerns among Afghanistan’s neighbors.

China fears insurgents from its Uighur ethnic minority who want an independent Xinjiang region. Russia and Central Asian nations worry about the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, which in recent years went on a recruitment drive among Afghanistan’s ethnic Uzbeks.

For Pakistan, it is the TTP, which stands for Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan. The group perpetrated some of the worst terrorist assaults on Pakistan, including the 2014 assault on the military public school.

The TTP numbers anywhere from 4,000 to 10,000 fighters, according to the UN report. It has also succeeded in expanding its recruitment inside Pakistan beyond the former tribal regions along the border where it traditionally found fighters, says Amir Rana, executive director of the Pakistan Institute of Peace Studies, an independent think tank in the capital Islamabad.

Analysts say the Afghan Taliban’s reluctance to clamp down on the TTP does not bode well for their readiness to crack down on the many other groups.

“The plain truth is that most of the terrorist groups operating in Afghanistan, aside from IS-K, are Taliban allies,” says Michael Kugelman, deputy director of the Asia Program at the Washington-based Wilson Center. “And the Taliban aren’t about to turn their guns on their friends, even with mounting pressure from regional players and the West.”

The militants’ presence complicates Pakistan’s efforts to encourage international dealings with the Afghan Taliban in hopes of bringing some stability to an Afghanistan sliding into economic ruin.

Analysts say Pakistan’s military has made a calculation that the losses inflicted by the TTP are preferable to undermining Afghanistan’s Taliban rulers by pressing them on the issue. A collapse would bring a flood of refugees; Pakistan might be their first stop, but Islamabad warns that Europe and North America will be their preferred destination.

Islamabad attempted to negotiate with the TTP recently, but the effort fell apart. Rana of the Pakistan Institute of Peace Studies said Pakistan’s policy of simultaneously negotiating with and attacking the TTP is “confusing” and risks emboldening like-minded insurgents in both countries.

It also worries its allies, he said.

China, which is spending billions in Pakistan, was not happy with Islamabad’s attempts at talks with the TTP because of its close affiliation with Uighur separatists, said Rana. The TTP took responsibility for a July bombing in northwest Pakistan that killed Chinese engineers as well as an April bombing at a hotel where the Chinese ambassador was staying.

Pressure is mounting on Pakistan to demand the Afghan Taliban hand over the TTP leadership.

But Islamabad’s relationship with the Taliban is complicated.

Pakistan’s powerful military, which shepherds the country’s Afghan policy, has ties to the Taliban leadership going back more than 40 years to an earlier invasion. Then, together with the US, they fought and defeated the invading former Soviet Union.

After the 2001 US-led invasion of Afghanistan, Pakistan was accused by Washington and its Afghan allies of aiding the Taliban. Pakistan denied the accusations, even as Taliban leaders and their families lived in Pakistan while waging their insurgency against Kabul.

But the Taliban also have interests divergent from Pakistan’s, particularly the issue of the two countries’ 2,500-kilometer border. Afghanistan has never recognized the border, known as the Durand Line, which was drawn by British colonial administrators in the 19th Century.

Source: Arab News

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Bangladesh destroys 3,000 shops belonging to Rohingya Muslim refugees

Sravasti Dasgupta

January 5, 2022

Authorities in Bangladesh have bulldozed over 3,000 Rohingya shops in the last month calling them “illegal”.

In a statement to AFP, the country’s deputy refugee commissioner Shamsud Douza confirmed the figure and said that the “illegal shops” had been cleared as “the number of Rohingya is increasing”.

“And they need shelters. We are already building sheds on the premises,” he added.

While Mr Douza said that relief groups were ensuring the refugees were still getting daily necessities, members of the Rohingya groups said that the shop owners are struggling to survive.

“Rohingya families are large and the amount of food ration given to them is decreasing. Many families used to rely on the income from the shops,” said Khin Maung, a Rohingya community leader and rights activist.

Bangladesh has received international praise for taking in Rohingyas, a stateless Muslim minority from Myanmar who fled after a military clampdown in 2017 that prompted an international genocide investigation.

At present about 850,000 members of the Rohingya community live in various displacement camps in Bangladesh.

With their makeshift shops demolished, Mr Maung said that the lives of tens of thousands have been affected in these refugee camps.

“That shop was my last hope. How do I run a family now? There is no way out except to die. I am helpless,” said Salim Ullah, whose grocery shop was demolished.

He added that feeding his family of eight would now be a struggle.

Amnesty international officials said that the demolition could leave the Rohingya refugees more vulnerable.

Source: Independent UK

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UN collects $1.5 billion to address Afghanistan’s humanitarian crisis

05 Jan 2022

The spokesperson of the General Secretary of the United Nations has announced that based on the estimates of the UN Office of the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, they have so far collected $1.5 billion to address the ongoing humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan.

Stephen Dujarric, spokesperson of UNGS in a press conference on Tuesday, 5 January 2022 said that the ongoing freezing winter will make the lives of Afghan people further dire.

The spokesperson also said that recent snowfall and drainage have affected most areas in Afghanistan and that flights to Kabul have been delayed.

Dujarric further added that they have provided foodstuff to 7 million Afghans in last year’s December and that the UN’s humanitarian agencies will continue providing humanitarian aids to Afghan people.

“Aids of cash, foodstuff, and other relief assistance is still being provided in different areas of Afghanistan.” Said the spokesperson.

Source: Khaama Press

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It is time for world to recognize Taliban: Deputy FM

06 Jan 2022

Deputy Foreign Minister of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan Sher Muhammad Abbas Stanekzai said that they have completed all preconditions for recognition and now is the time for the International Community to come forward and recognize the IEA.

Speaking at a convention in Paktia province, Sher Muhammad Abbas Stanekzai said that security, rule of law, and full control over Afghanistan’s borders are major preconditions for recognitions that have been met by the Taliban.

The Deputy FM who was also a key member of the Taliban’s negotiating team during US-Taliban talks said, they have been busy negotiating with the US and European countries for months and the talks are yet to be finished.

“No negotiations have been carried out between Pakistan and Afghanistan on Durand Line. No Afghan government has authority to decide about the line as this is only the authority of the Afghan people.” Said Stanekzai about the recent conflicts over the line between the borders guards of the two countries.

Source: Khaama Press

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Taliban pilots crash MD-530 helicopter in Kandahar during training

January 06, 2022

The Taliban has confirmed that a military helicopter, MD-530 provided with surveillance cameras and machine guns crashed in a training flight in the southern province of Kandahar.

A spokesman for the Ministry of Defense, Inayatullah Khwarazmi on Wednesday said the crash was due to technical problems and two pilots were injured, reported Tolo News.

"The helicopter crashed and is destroyed. Our pilots are injured but we don't have fatalities. One of the pilots is in stable condition, another pilot is in critical condition," he said.

Earlier, a video of the crash was making the rounds on social media. Some social media users said that the helicopter was evacuating people stuck in the flood in the Maiwan district of Kandahar, reported Tolo News. The cost of an MD-530 helicopter is nearly one million dollars. Military veterans called on the Islamic Emirate to appoint former pilots and maintenance people to operate the aircraft.

"The improper use of this equipment is a crime, in fact. We as a country may not be able to purchase the current equipment due to financial problems," said Hekmatullah Hekmat, a military veteran.

"If the military equipment is used by inexperienced people, it (equipment) will be destroyed," said Sadeq Shinwari, a military analyst, reported Tolo News.

Back in August, reports had emerged that the Taliban was supplying a huge quantity of American weapons captured by it from the Afghan Army to Pakistan. The US weapons- which were seized by the Taliban after American troops withdrawal- are being openly sold in shops by Afghan gun dealers who paid government soldiers and Taliban members for guns and ammunition, The New York Times reported.

Under a US training and assistance programme- that had cost American taxpayers more than USD 83 billion through two decades of war- the equipment was originally provided to the Afghan security forces, the report had said.

Source: India TV

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‘Bulli Bai’ App: Women in Criminal Law Association Condemn Targeting of Muslim Women, Demand Immediate Action

Jan 5, 2022

New Delhi: The Women in Criminal Law Association (WCLA) on January 4, Tuesday, strongly condemned the targeted harassment of Indian Muslim women, including journalists, researchers, social workers, through the ‘Bulli Bai’ app, and the “inaction” by the authorities.

The WCLA said, “We stand in solidarity with the Indian Muslim women whose photographs and information have been shared without their knowledge or consent on ‘Bulli Bai’ and unconditionally condemn this attempt to sexualise, dehumanise and harass Muslim women. This is a targetted, misogynistic hate campaign directed at Muslim women punishable under Indian criminal law.”

It said, “The terms ‘Sulli’ and ‘Bulli’ are derogatory slurs used to specifically insult and disrespect Muslim women and constitute hate speech. ‘Auctioning’ women on the internet also amounts to a gross violation of their constitutional right to dignity, privacy, and bodily autonomy.”

The Mumbai police have arrested three people in connection with the case. The Mumbai cyber police station has also registered a case against the unidentified developers of the app and the Twitter handles that promoted it.

Calling the app an “attempt to silence the political participation of Indian Muslim women”, the WCLA has expressed concerns over the lack of action and transparency on the case by the police.

They have demanded immediate action against the creators of both “Sulli Deals” and “Bulli Bai”, and that GitHub should direct more resources immediately towards scanning all its webpages for Islamophobic and misogynistic content and take them down promptly in the future.

They further demanded that “the accused must be prosecuted under relevant sections of the Indian Penal Code including but not limited to sections 153A (Promoting enmity on grounds of religion etc), 153B (Imputations prejudicial to national-integration), 354A and 509 for sexual harassment along with the section 66 & 67 of IT Act and provisions against trafficking and slavery.”

Meanwhile, the Delhi High Court Bar Association (DHCBA) also condemned the app, calling the ‘auction’ a “malicious, mischievous and reprehensible” act.

A resolution issued by the DHCBA said that it has been unanimously resolved that the lawyers’ body shall write to the Delhi police commissioner, demanding the registration of a first information report and an efficient and expeditious investigation so that those found guilty of committing the “dastardly crime” are punished in accordance with the law.

It further said the app is not only tantamount to the commission of grave criminal offences but also targets and brings disrepute to the female citizenry.

Read WCLA’s complete statement.


WCLA Solidarity Statement with Muslim Women Targeted in Bulli Bai

The Women in Criminal Law Association (WCLA) strongly condemns the targeted Islamophobic harassment of Indian Muslim women through the “Bulli Bai” webpage, and the subsequent inaction by concerned authorities.

On 1st January 2022 photos and Twitter of hundreds of Indian Muslim women appeared for

“auction” without their knowledge or consent on a public page called “Bulli Bai”

(, now pulled down) hosted on GitHub, in a blatant Islamophobic attempt to harass Indian Muslim women. This comes on the heels of “Sulli Deals,” also hosted on GitHub in July 2021, where Indian Muslim women were again “auctioned” without their knowledge or consent and inaction since then has emboldened the accused and enabled further such crimes against Muslim women. The users in both incidents have used anonymous Twitter handles and hide behind the GitHub platform to harass, disrespect and threaten Indian Muslim women.

Many of the women targeted on Bulli Bai are prominent public personalities, including journalists, researchers, social workers, and others in an attempt to silence the political participation of Indian Muslim women.

We stand in solidarity with the Indian Muslim women whose photographs and information

have been shared without their knowledge or consent on Bulli Bai and unconditionally condemn this attempt to sexualise, dehumanise and harass Muslim women. This is a targeted, misogynistic hate campaign directed at Muslim women punishable under Indian criminal law.

The terms “Sulli” and “Bulli” are derogatory slurs used to specifically insult and disrespect Muslim women and constitute hate speech. “Auctioning” women on the internet also amounts to a gross violation of their constitutional right to dignity, privacy, and bodily autonomy.

Despite two FIRs having been registered by the police in Uttar Pradesh and New Delhi, no concrete action has been taken against perpetrators in either FIR, with no transparent information available from the police on the identities of the creators of “Sulli Deals,” and whether any investigation has been undertaken. Not a single arrest had been made as yet in connection with Sulli Deals and this has emboldened the accused to act with impunity.

As of 2nd January 2022, GitHub has confirmed blocking the user who hosted Bulli Bai. Microsoft-owned GitHub is one of the world’s largest and most popular services for developers to collaborate and publish code. The Mumbai police have also arrested a person in connection with the matter.

In rage, grief, and solidarity with the Muslim women whose information and photographs were

used to “auction” them to men on the internet on the Sulli Deals and Bulli Bai webpages, the Women in Criminal Law Association makes the following demands:

1. We demand immediate action against the creators of both “Sulli Deals” and “Bulli Bai.” We demand that the Delhi police take swift action in investigating FIR No. 0001, Cyber Police Station South East Delhi registered on the basis of a complaint registered by one of the women whose pictures were posted on Bulli Bai. We also demand that the Maharashtra police take swift action in investigating the FIR filed before the Maharashtra Cyber Cell on 2nd January 2022 on the basis of a complaint registered by another woman whose pictures were posted on Bulli Bai.

2. We demand that the Delhi police and Uttar Pradesh police take swift and immediate action against the creators of Sulli Deals in the FIRs registered in New Delhi and Uttar Pradesh on the basis of complaints filed by women whose pictures were posted on Sulli Deals.

3. We demand that GitHub direct resources immediately towards ensuring that anyone who made a copy, or ‘fork,’ of the code on their own GitHub account and/or liked/starred the Sulli Deals and/or Bulli Bai repositories do not have other projects that include similar hate speech, misogyny, violence, or otherwise unacceptable material.

4. We demand that GitHub also direct more resources immediately towards specifically scanning all upcoming GitHub webpages for Islamophobic, misogynistic content, and specifically similar “auctions” of Indian Muslim women, to ensure that such webpages are taken down promptly in the future, and their creators do not enjoy impunity from GitHub.

5. We demand that GitHub cooperate completely and transparently with Indian law enforcement agencies and assist them in their investigation by providing them with all particulars and information available with GitHub regarding the users responsible for creating and using the “Sulli Deals” and “Bulli Bai” webpages.

6. The accused must be prosecuted under relevant sections of the Indian Penal Code including but not limited to sections 153A (Promoting enmity on grounds of religion etc), 153B (Imputations prejudicial to national-integration), 354A & 509 for sexual harassment along with the section 66 & 67 of IT Act and provisions against trafficking and slavery.

Source: The Wire

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Gurugram Offered A Dizzy New Modernity; Neighbourhoods Called Beverly Park, Nirvana County And Wellington Estate, Now Has Street Groups Cheering Nathuram Godse


6 January, 2022

With its dizzying high-rise condos and glass fronted offices and malls, Gurgaon was NCR’s Neverland. It offered a glimpse of new modernity, much like Bangalore did in the 1990s, only louder and flashier. But the ‘suburb on steroids’, with neighbourhoods called Beverly Park, Nirvana County and Wellington Estate, now has street groups cheering Nathuram Godse. RSS shakhas grew inside the condominiums, only this time transformed as Sunday 10 am chai baithaks, appropriate for the preppy residents.

Gurgaon’s cosmopolitanism, fuelled by three decades of economic growth, has turned on its head. Over the past few years, the city’s Hindu residents have gathered on streets and parks — to stop fellow Muslim citizens from offering Friday namaz. Now the disruptions have become a weekly affair, with large gatherings occupying spaces where Muslims used to offer namaz, and filling it with cow dung or performing one of their own rituals.

The anti-Muslim hate is widespread, and not just limited to their prayers. “Ubers cancel more often now. Ab pata nahi naam dekh ke ya kuch aur, but pehle se zyada hota hai. It seems like the question has moved from why Muslims need to pray in groups to why they should do anything at all,” says Heena, a 24-year-old design intern, about Uber drivers frequently cancelling ride requests after, she suspects, seeing their names.

Those who have lived in the city for years are acutely aware of the change that has set in, a battleground of sorts to ‘test’ the perseverance of the Muslim community. “What has happened in Gurugram seems like an experiment with how far you can go, and get away with it,” says a pilot who has lived in the city for 17 years, requesting anonymity.

Millennium city’s another transformation

Gurgaon’s growth was paved by the entry of global businesses that set up offices here — Ernst & Young, Citibank, American Express, which boasts its highest headcount at its Gurgaon campus than anywhere else in India, and the number of call centres that sprung up as a lifeline for thousands of people hunting for a job.

The city has the most number of startups, after Bengaluru, and from Maruti in the 1980s to Hyundai last year, boasts of having manufacturing plants of various luxury vehicles. Soon, Gurgaon earned the name of a “millennium city”, and started being spoken about as the place to live or set a business in.

“Last 20 years of working in the corporate, we were given spaces to pray, especially during Ramzan. There were iftar parties. Now I think even corporations will say, ‘keep it out of our office’ at least in Gurugram. They are frightened that some Hindu group will come and create an issue,“ says Altaf Ahmed, founding member of Gurgaon Nagrik Ekta Manch (GNEM), a citizens’ forum. The largely ‘apolitical’ corporates are now reacting to the politics unfolding in Gurugram — with silence, refusing to engage and ‘invite’ trouble.

“It is now an almost unwritten code. If you hire Muslims, you may be inviting trouble, because of what keeps happening in Delhi or even in Gurugram,” a senior HR in a leading MNC said on the condition of anonymity,

Muslims were already unable to find houses on rent or purchase one in prime locations because of their religious identity. Now it has spilled over to jobs as well.

Students in big, private schools and universities are experiencing it too. “Nowadays, Muslims are really afraid to practice their own religion and even walking on streets wearing a topi (skull cap), especially at night,” says a student who wishes to remain anonymous.

Ifham, a 28-year-old architect based in Gurugram who studied in Amity University’s Manesar campus, spoke about a conversation he had with his friends last week. They wondered how “the most normal thing” of them offering namaz twice in their college campus back in the day “would be impossible now”.

Politics, lack of administrative support

On 10 December, Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar was unequivocal in his protest against Muslim prayer. “Namaz should not become a show of strength,” he said, adding that offering namaz in public places could not be “tolerated”. This is not the first time that Khattar has spoken in this vein. In 2018, he had said that namaz should be offered at mosques, idgahs or other designated places, not in public.

But Muslims of Gurugram had anticipated such troubles long ago, and had filed applications in 2016 to purchase two of the five Haryana government sites on sale. A report in The Hindu said the trusts representing the community had even paid Rs 18 lakh for the plot but they never got the approval.

“There are only 13 mosques in the city, and several people don’t find space to perform namaz,” said Mufti Saleem Qasmi, a Gurugram-based religious leader.

The ‘public spaces’ where Muslims offer namaz are random lands in front of shops, or dumping grounds where they work as cleaners. These aren’t public parks or ‘prime locations’ that Hindus allege are being ‘hijacked’ by praying Muslim groups.

And so, they have pulled every trick in their book to stop the Friday prayers — from parking trucks to playing cricket to conducting a puja and leaving dung cakes behind. Rarely does the police stop the disruptors.

“All these disturbances used to happen earlier too, when elections were around the corner. Every party has done it to some extent. But now it is all the time, and more mainstream,“ says a corporate leader who has lived in Gurugram for 10 years and helped establish four major corporations.

Altaf Ahmed says “it is the social manifestation of an economic problem”. The Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE)’s March 2021 report showed Haryana had the highest unemployment rate in India — 26.4 per cent against the national average of 6.9 per cent. Others may not agree.

Amit, a former wrestler, who claims to be part of the Bajrang Dal and Youth Morcha president of an outfit called Rashtriya Hindu Shakti Sangathan, says that he is unemployed and works for “Hindu rashtra now”.

The police do not have much to comment, except that they are “doing their duty”. There is also confusion among residents as the administration keeps changing the number of ‘allowed’ spaces to offer namaz, depending on how ‘rowdy’ the protesters are. The irony here is that it is done to “maintain peace”.

Hate and the silence over it

Gurugram was built by new money, new aspirations and new investments. It is not ‘Dilli meri jaan’ — but an upscale city that prides itself on having the best that money has to offer. Now that idea is shrinking for its middle class Muslims.

“I came back to India after living in the US for 12 years. I wanted my children to experience the Indian culture. I said hello to my neighbour, and he did not even acknowledge. I do not know what to say anymore now,” says 70-year-old Suhel Farooq Khan, who built a house in Palam village when it barely had 200 houses. Now there are more than 5,000 constructions.

Hindus who acknowledge the rise in anti-Muslim hate say they are “afraid” to speak up. “Kafi galat hai yeh sab. Aapas mein hum saalon se reh rahe hain. But kya kar sakte hain, darr lagta hai gundon se. (What’s happening is wrong. Hindus and Muslims here have lived together peacefully for years. But what can we do, we are scared of the goons),” says Rahul Verma, who lives on rent near Sector 12A where BJP member Kapil Mishra had organised the Govardhan Puja to obstruct namaz prayers.

The price of this silence is paid by Muslims. “People have changed their names so that they can continue working,” Altaf Ahmed of Gurgaon Nagrik Ekta Manch says, recounting how WhatsApp forwards about the owner of a dairy shop being a Muslim led to fewer people buying from his shop.

Amir Ullah Khan, Research Director, Centre for Development Policy and Practice says the current atmosphere came with the change in government. He wants people to “to protest” otherwise “everybody will suffer”.

Source: The Print

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RSS To Reach Out To Muslim Women In UP To Apprise F The Measures Taken By The BJP Governments At The Centre And The State

January 05, 2022

The RSS Muslim wing has plans to hold a door-to-door campaign in poll-bound Uttar Pradesh to apprise women from the community of the measures taken by the BJP governments at the Centre and the state for their welfare and empowerment.

As part of the move, the Muslim Rashtriya Manch (MRM) has decided to organise at least 50 meetings with minority Community members in Uttar Pradesh ahead of the Assembly polls next year.

"From the scrapping of instant triple talaq to increasing the minimum age of marriage from 18 to 21, the BJP government has taken several measures for the welfare and empowerment of Muslim women and the minority community," MRM's national convenor Shahid Sayeed told PTI.

To apprise the minority community members of the measures that the Narendra Modi and Yogi Adityanath governments have taken for their welfare, the MRM has decided to organise at least 50 small and big meetings in the next 70 days across Uttar Pradesh, he said.

Besides, door-to-door public awareness campaigns will also be carried out to reach out to the community members, especially women, in the state, he said.     

"Women's wing of the MRM will take the lead in the execution of the plan under the leadership and guidance of our chief patron Indresh Kumar (a senior RSS leader)," he said.

Sayeed said the MRM organised two such meetings recently, one in Ayodhya and the other in Amroha of Uttar Pradesh.

Kumar, the MRM's founder and chief patron, presided over these meetings, he said.

Source: The Week

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Jaish trio killed in Pulwama encounter, arms recovered

M Saleem Pandit

Jan 6, 2022

SRINAGAR: Three Jaish-e-Mohammad terrorists, two of them from Pakistan, were gunned down by security forces in an anti-terror operation at Chandgam in south Kashmir’s Pulwama district on Wednesday, IGP (Kashmir Zone) Vijay Kumar said.

This was the second anti-terror operation against Jaish in south Kashmir within 24 hours, resulting in two local terrorists from the outfit being killed during a gunfight with security forces in Kulgam.

IGP Kumar identified the local terrorist killed in Wednesday’s encounter as Mir Owais Amin from Pulwama. The names of the Pakistani duo weren't immediately known. Two M-4 carbines and an AK-series rifle were among the arms, ammunition and other incriminating material recovered from the site of the firefight, he said.

Early Wednesday, a joint team of the Army, police and CRPF had launched the cordon-and-search operation in Chandgam, based on intelligence inputs about the presence of terrorists there, said an official.

As the security forces neared the suspected terrorist hideout, holed-up terrorists rained bullets on the search party, triggering an encounter in which the Jaish trio was killed, the official added.

Source: Times of India

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Malwani module: NIA court accepts guilty pleas, convicts both ISIS recruiters

Jan 06, 2022

By Vinay Dalvi

MUMBAI: A special National Investigation Agency (NIA) court on Wednesday accepted the guilty plea of the two accused booked for radicalising youth from Malwani in Malad to join the banned terror outfit Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and held them guilty under various sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA). The special court has now posted the case for hearing the convicts and their lawyers on the quantum of sentence on Friday.

Special NIA judge A T Wankhede on Wednesday accepted the pleas of Rizwan Ahmed, 25, and Mohsin Sayyed, 32, and held them guilty under IPC 120 B for conspiracy, section 18 of UAPA for conspiracy, section 20 of UAPA for being a member of a terrorist organisation, section 38 of UAPA for having committed offences related to membership of a terrorist organisation, and section 39 for offences related to support given to a terrorist organisation. The judge told the accused that he will decide their quantum of sentence after hearing both sides on Friday. The accused face punishment ranging from five years’ imprisonment to a life term.

The two accused had pleaded guilty before the court mid-trial in the first week of December. The court had by then already examined 39 of the 220 enlisted prosecution witnesses.

Sayyed had submitted in his plea filed before the judge, “I have been lodged in prison since the last six years, and that I was influenced by the videos and propaganda of ISIS which was widely circulated on the internet. Due to the said material, I tried to flee the country to join ISIS. I was unsuccessful after which I was arrested by the police. That while in prison reflecting upon my actions, I realised my mistakes and sincerely regret my errors. I am remorseful and regretful for my acts of omission and for commission of unlawful acts. I have suffered greatly due to my mistake and I wish to rectify it and start a new life and be a better person and take care of my old ailing parents and my family who have also suffered due to my error. I want to return to the mainstream and rehabilitate myself. My conduct in jail was satisfactory and there is nothing adverse against me. I am pleading guilty voluntarily without any pressure, threat, coercion; inducement or undue influence; and that I understand the consequences.”

While Rizwan Ahmed had submitted in his plea filed before the judge, “I want to to return to mainstream society and rehabilitate. I am having clean antecedents; even my conduct in jail was satisfactory and there is nothing adverse against me. I am remorseful for the acts alleged against me and undertake not to indulge in similar acts in the future. I was merely involved in propagation of the banned terrorist organisation and was never involved in any type of violence or killings. I may be sentenced for the period already spent in jail by me. I belong to a very poor family and have a wife and two minor children, and aged parents to look after. I have already undergone six years in jail and further punishment would cause great prejudice to my wife, old ailing parents and minor children.”

NIA special prosecutor, Prakash Shetty had said that the court should accept the unconditional pleas.

Source: Hindustan Times

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North America


US Muslims Call For Action As ‘Spying’ Incidents Shake Community

By Ali Harb

30 Dec 2021

Washington, DC – First, the major Muslim-American advocacy group reported that a “mole” had infiltrated the leadership of one of its state branches. Then, only days later, the organisation said a “spy” at a US mosque had passed information on to an “anti-Muslim” group.

The two incidents, revealed earlier this month by the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), have shaken Muslim advocates in the United States and renewed longstanding concerns about spying on the community.

“Community members were shocked and saddened to learn about this specific situation, but a lot of people were also not surprised that an anti-Muslim hate group was targeting CAIR and spying this way,” said Whitney Siddiqi, community affairs director at CAIR-Ohio.

The CAIR chapter said on December 15 that it had sacked Romin Iqbal, its executive and legal director in the Columbus-Cincinnati area, for “egregious ethical and professional violations”.

CAIR accused Iqbal of handing confidential information to the Investigative Project on Terrorism (IPT), a group that the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), a civil rights organisation that tracks hate groups in the US, has said was founded by an “anti-Muslim activist”.

Separately, CAIR’s national office in Washington, DC said on December 21 that another individual volunteering at a US mosque had come forward and said he was paid by Steven Emerson, IPT’s executive director, to provide information on the community.

“Community update: a second IPT ‘spy’ has voluntarily come forward, confessed and agreed to cooperate with us. He was not part of CAIR. He was an active volunteer in a large mosque who was invited to national community meetings & events,” CAIR said in a Twitter thread, without identifying the alleged spy or where he was volunteering.

Siddiqi said one of the aims of the spying is to create “fear and distrust in our own communities”, but she stressed that CAIR is moving forward “with transparency” and redoubling its efforts to battle Islamophobia.

“Again, we recognize the devastation of this news and it certainly takes time to process, but something positive to come out of this is the fact that we are strengthening our connections and our work to protect and defend Muslims,” she told Al Jazeera in an email.

Wider surveillance

In the two decades since the 9/11 attacks, Muslim Americans have faced instances of surveillance, a slew of discriminatory policies – including travel bans – as well as a rise in hate crimes, while spying programmes run by federal and local law enforcement agencies targeted their communities.

For example, between 2002 and 2014, the New York Police Department dedicated an entire unit to spy on the city’s Muslim population. According to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), police mapped out where Muslim New Yorkers lived, recruited informants from within the Muslim community, and placed mosques under surveillance.

Now, the recent incidents involving CAIR have renewed concerns across the country. “It’s just really scary,” Nadia Ahmad, a law professor and Muslim-American activist based in southern Florida, told Al Jazeera.

The Family and Youth Institute, a Michigan-based research institution focused on mental health, recently released a toolkit on how to deal with the fallout of spying allegations, advising people to acknowledge the effects of the news and channel their energy “towards efforts in your community”.

“When spying is carried out by an individual who works for an organization that advocates for the civil rights of American Muslims, then the trauma, stress, and shock is overwhelming and the damage can last a long time,” the institute said.

IPT and its founder

CAIR said it found “conclusive evidence” that Iqbal – the former Ohio office official – “spent years secretly recording CAIR network meetings and passing confidential information regarding CAIR’s national advocacy work” to IPT.

In an email to Al Jazeera on Friday, Iqbal’s lawyer declined to comment on the allegations.

IPT rejects being labelled a hate group. It says it is a research organisation and a “principal source of critical evidence to a wide variety of government offices and law enforcement agencies”.

Emerson and other people associated with the group have testified as experts on terrorism at various US congressional hearings, including as recently as 2016. Pete Hoekstra, an ex-congressman and former senior fellow at IPT, served as ambassador to the Netherlands during the Trump administration.

Meanwhile, the group’s website is filled with anti-CAIR material, as well as articles slamming critics of Israel, and the organisation openly solicits tips on “terrorism-related information”.

“Mr. Emerson is not anti-Muslim, nor does he lead a ‘hate group,'” the group told Al Jazeera in an email on Friday.

IPT also said it “has never monitored and will never monitor the wider American Muslim community”, but “will not hesitate to uncover and publicly expose radical Islamist activity on American soil”.

But a 2011 report (PDF) by The Centre for American Progress, a liberal US think-tank, accused Emerson and his group of pushing to portray Islam as violent.

“Such wildly over-the-top portraits of Islam as inherently radical require some creativity on Emerson’s part,” the report reads. “Proving he’s up to the challenge, Emerson boasts a history of fabricating evidence that perpetuates conspiracies of radical Islam infiltrating America through Muslim civil rights and advocacy organizations.”

The SPLC has also described Emerson as an “anti-Muslim activist”.

Israel connection alleged

CAIR has also accused IPT of “collaborating with” Israeli officials.

On Tuesday, the Muslim advocacy group shared screenshots it said showed an email exchange between Emerson and Israeli government officials who ask him for possible links between Students for Justice in Palestine, a student-led advocacy group active in American universities, and the Palestinian faction Hamas.

Al Jazeera was not able to verify the authenticity of the screenshots. The Israeli embassy in Washington did not respond to requests for comment on Thursday and Friday. CAIR has not said how it obtained the emails.

CAIR Executive Director Nihad Awad said in a statement on December 14 that “Emerson’s hate group was communicating with and providing assistance to Israeli intelligence with the office of then-Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu”.

“Let me say that again,” Awad wrote. “The Israeli government was collaborating with an anti-Muslim hate group.”

In a statement to Al Jazeera, IPT denied that Emerson or the organisation “has ever worked at the direction of any government, foreign or domestic; and has never received any funding from any government, foreign or domestic”.

‘Protect ourselves’

Activists have documented ties between right-wing, pro-Israel advocacy groups and organisations that perpetuate Islamophobia more generally over the years.

“There’s a definite connection between Islamophobia and activism [against] pro-Palestinian causes,” said Ahmad, the law professor, speaking in general terms. “And this is something that we have seen happening not just in the past few months or years, but for decades.”

Abed Ayoub, legal director of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC), a civil rights advocacy group, also said the alleged collaboration between Emerson and the Israeli government shows the overlap between anti-Palestinian sentiment and Islamophobia.

Source: Al Jazeera

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For Muslim Migrants, Religious Prejudice Compounds Horrors Of Latin American Route

January 03, 2022

SAO PAULO, Brazil: Among the thousands of migrants who try to reach the border between Mexico and the US every month, the presence of Muslims — most of whom leave African and Asian countries in search of a better future — is both conspicuous and constant.

There are no official figures about Muslim migrant flows through the Latin American route, but organizations that assist immigrants in the region report that their numbers have been rising.

They not only face the usual hardships of the journey north, such as the exploitation by coyotes, but also specific difficulties, including religious prejudice all along the way and obstacles concerning the observance of their faith.

One of the main gateways for Muslim immigrants and refugees in Latin America, Sao Paulo, has been receiving people from Southeast Asia, the Middle East and African countries over the past years.

“I estimate that 20 percent of all people welcomed by us in 2020 were Muslim,” said Fr. Paolo Parise, who heads a Catholic immigrant center called Mission Peace in Brazil’s largest city.

Parise said that most of the Muslim foreigners assisted by the institution come from countries like Nigeria, Mali and Senegal, besides some groups from the Middle East.

“We have also recently welcomed people from Afghanistan,” he added.

These migrants and refugees have traditionally viewed Brazil as a country of transit, especially over the past five years, a period marked by economic decline and shrinking opportunities.

“They enter Brazil with tourist visas and later they request a refugee status,” Parise said.

After a few months, most of them try to get into the US, using the traditional routes used by Haitians, Venezuelans and other groups.

But every route abounds with obstacles and disappointments. As of July 2021, 70 percent of asylum requests made in Mexico were concentrated in the border town of Chiapas, which receives daily flights of people expelled from the US under Title 42 legislation.

The public health order, issued in March 2020 by the Trump administration, justifies the expulsions on the grounds that there is a communicable disease, namely COVID-19, in the migrant’s country of origin.

Consider the case of Ghanian-born Ahmed Usman, 34, now a resident in the Mexican city of Tijuana, on the border with the US. Usman lived in Brazil for one year and eight months.

“I worked in a factory in Criciuma (a city in the South of Brazil). After paying my rent and utilities and sending a bit of money to my family, I had no money left,” he told Arab News.

Criciuma has a small Muslim community, but Usman said he received more help from Christians.

In 2016, he decided to head to the US and began a long trip through Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Panama, Costa Rica, Nicaragua and Guatemala, until he arrived in Mexico.

“We lacked money. We saw many people getting sick and dying along the trip,” he said, exhaustion and disbelief in his eyes.

Usman spent eight months in Costa Rica, where he was helped by a Catholic church and a mosque in the city of San Jose.

“We were also helped by a man who would feed us many times. And he understood that we did not eat pork,” he said.

In 2017, he finally arrived in Mexico. He ended up finding work in Tijuana and has not tried to cross the border until now.

Usman’s story is similar to those of many other desperate people who head to Mexico, increasingly seen as a country of transit and asylum.

In 2014, 2,100 people arrived in the country to request refugee status; in 2019, that had risen to more than 70,000.

The figures dropped in 2020, as travel restrictions imposed as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic slowed global migration but, between January and November 2021, the country received more than 123,000 asylum requests from people coming from the Caribbean and Central American and South American countries, such as Haiti, Honduras, Cuba, El Salvador, Chile, Venezuela, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Brazil and Colombia.

Usman’s narrative is also a good example of the plight of Muslim migrants along the Latin American route.

Most of them find little support among the Islamic community and must rely on the assistance given by Catholics or civic organizations.

“Most Muslim communities in the region see those immigrants as competitors or as a problem. Some of them have resources to help them but prefer to avoid what they see as trouble,” said Moroccan-born Sheikh Abderrahman Agdaou, who lives in El Salvador and has intervened in many immigrants’ cases in recent years.

On several occasions, Agdaou helped Uighur, Syrian and Iraqi refugees who lacked the necessary documents to continue travelling to the US, coordinating assistance with Catholic entities and the UN.

He also had to give support to former Guantanamo prison inmates, who obtained refugee status in El Salvador thanks to his support.

“Once, a Syrian family with four children was taken to El Salvador by a coyote and was abandoned there at the airport. The person just disappeared, and they did not know what to do,” he said.

Agdaou said he intervened and assisted the family in going back to Syria.

According to him, Islamic organizations offer more support to immigrants and command more influence in relatively well-off countries with large Muslim communities, notably Brazil, Chile and Argentina.

“But in many countries, Muslims feel like they are foreigners and so they should not meddle in politics,” he said.

Agdaou wants regional Islamic entities to improve the level of coordination between them and civic organizations that assist immigrants.

Other problems seem to be of a more serious nature. Some immigrants belonging to sub-Saharan countries reported that they felt discriminated against by Arab Muslims who head mosques in Latin American countries.

Source: Arab News

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US-coalition against ISIS faces dual attacks in Syria and Iraq by Iran-backed groups

05 January ,2022

The US-led coalition fighting the terrorist group ISIS faced dual attacks, with one base in Syria and the other in Iraq coming under fire by Iran-backed groups, the coalition said on Wednesday.

“Coalition forces were targeted this morning by eight rounds of indirect fire at Green Village, a Syrian Democratic Forces base with a small Coalition advisory presence, in northeast Syria,” the coalition said in a statement, it added that there were no casualties but there was minor damage inside the base.

The Coalition responded by firing six rounds of artillery towards the point of origin of the attack just outside al-Mayadeen town in Syria’s Deir Ezzor province.

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The second attack was in Iraq, where five rockets landed near Ain al-Asad airbase, which hosts US and other international forces in western Iraq. The attack caused no casualties or damage.

Coalition spokesperson Maj. Gen. John W. Brennan, Jr. said: “Our coalition continues to see threats against our forces in Iraq and Syria by militia groups that are backed by Iran. These attacks are a dangerous distraction from our coalition's shared mission to advise, assist, and enable partner forces to maintain the enduring defeat of [ISIS].”

This is the latest in a series of recent attacks on US bases or locations where there is American presence in both Syria and Iraq.

On Tuesday, two armed drones approached Ain al-Asad airbase and coalition forces shot them down. On Monday, the coalition also shot down two armed drones targeting its compound at Baghdad airport.

Source: Al Arabiya

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US politician Rashida Tlaib running for new Detroit-area seat after redistricting

January 05, 2022

LANSING, Michigan: Michigan Rep. Rashida Tlaib announced Wednesday she will seek reelection in a new Detroit-area seat created through redistricting, hours after fellow Democratic Rep. Brenda Lawrence said she will retire from Congress rather than run in the district.

The new 12th District includes portions of Detroit and suburbs including Dearborn and Southfield. Tlaib, one of the first two Muslim women in Congress, said the seat has nearly two-thirds of people she currently represents.

The move leaves open the new 13th District, which includes much of Detroit along with other areas of Wayne County. Declared candidates so far include state Rep. Shri Thanedar and former state Rep. Sherry Gay-Dagnogo, who’s now on the Detroit school board.

“I am excited about the opportunity to expand our work to include more communities that want the same access to a better quality of life, including clean air and water, affordable housing, economic justice and more,” Tlaib, who is in her second term, said in a statement.

Michigan lost a seat following the census, dropping to 13.

Lawrence, the state’s lone Black member of Congress, announced Tuesday night that she would not seek a fifth term. She said redistricting did not factor into her decision, though it was believed she was unhappy with the map.

Several Black state legislators are suing to block the congressional and legislative maps drawn by a new independent commission, contending they weaken the ability of African Americans to elect Black lawmakers.

The plans are fairer politically to Democrats than when the Republican-controlled Legislature drafted gerrymandered maps in 2011 and 2001. But they cut the number of seats where African Americans account for a majority of the voting-age population.

The old maps had 15 such seats by decade’s end: two in the US House, two in the state Senate and 11 in the state House. Now there are seven, all in the state House.

Source: Arab News

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Israeli Defence Chief Meets Jordanian King In Reset Of Ties

05 January ,2022

Israel’s defense minister met with the Jordanian king on Wednesday, both sides said, part of a reset of ties between the two countries.

According to Benny Gantz’ office, the two discussed “security and policy topics.” Gantz “welcomed the expansion of relations between Jordan and the current Israeli government.”

A statement from King Abdullah II said the two spoke about “the need to maintain calm in the Palestinian Territories,” and the measures necessary to lay the foundation for peace between Israel and the Palestinians. The two met in the Jordanian capital, Amman.

The meeting is part of revamped ties between Israel and Jordan, which became strained under the leadership of former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. It follows a secret meeting last year between Abdullah and current Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, as well as a separate meeting between the countries’ foreign ministers.

Israel and Jordan made peace in 1994 and maintain close security ties, but relations soured in recent years over tensions at a flashpoint Jerusalem mosque, Israel’s expansion of Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank and the lack of any progress in the long-moribund peace process. The countries also fell out over a shooting incident by a guard at Israel’s embassy in Amman.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Algeria says envoy to France to resume duties

05 January ,2022

Algeria's ambassador to Paris is to return to his post after he was recalled in October following comments by French President Emmanuel Macron that Algiers deemed offensive, the presidency said Wednesday.

President Abdelmadjid Tebboune on Wednesday met with the envoy, Mohamed Antar-Daoud, announcing that he “will resume his duties in Paris from Thursday,” his office said in a statement.

Relations between Algiers and Paris have been strained for much of the six decades since the former French colony won its independence after a 130-year occupation.

Macron has gone further than his predecessors in owning up to French abuses during the colonial era.

But ties collapsed in October after he accused Algeria's “political-military system” of rewriting history and fomenting “hatred towards France”.

In remarks to descendants of independence fighters, reported by Le Monde, Macron also questioned whether Algeria had existed as a nation before the French invasion in the 1800s.

As well as recalling Antar-Daoud, Algiers also banned French military planes from its airspace, which they cross to fly to the Sahel region where troops are helping to battle jihadist insurgents.

The Algerian president had warned in November he would not take “the first step” to calm tensions.

The dispute prompted a rare expression of contrition from the French presidency, which said it “regretted” the misunderstandings caused by the remarks.

Last month, France's top diplomat Jean-Yves Le Drian visited Algiers and called for an easing of tensions.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Tunisian judiciary refers 19 people to trial for ‘electoral crimes’

Yousri Ounas 


TUNIS, Tunisia

The Tunisian judiciary on Wednesday referred 19 people to trial for "election violations," including the head of the Ennahda movement, Rachid Ghannouchi, and former President Moncef Marzouki. 

According to a statement issued by the Information and Communication Office of the Court of First Instance, the defendants were referred "for committing electoral crimes during the 2019 elections such as the use of illegal electoral propaganda through social media and propaganda during the electoral silence period."

According to the statement, the individuals referred also include Nabil Karoui, the head of the Heart of Tunisia party and a presidential candidate for the 2019 elections, and former Defense Minister Abdelkarim Zubaidi.

They also include four former prime ministers: Youssef Chahed, Elyes Fakhfakh, Mehdi Jomaa and Hamadi Jebali.

The court’s decision is based on a report by the Court of Accounts regarding the early presidential elections in 2019.

On Wednesday, the adviser to the head of the Ennahda movement, Riadh Chouaibi, told Anadolu Agency that "Ghannouchi was not a candidate in the 2019 presidential elections and therefore there is no justification for this procedure against him."

Source: Anadolu Agency

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Islamic City petitions Buhari over ejection plans

Jan 6, 2022

A group of Muslims in Ogun State, under the aegis of Zumuratul Jamiu Mumin Society of Nigeria, has petitioned President Muhammadu Buhari, Senate President Ahmed Lawan and Works and Housing Minister Babatunde Fashola over alleged plot to drive them from their land at Pakuro-Lotto on the Lagos-Ibadan expressway.

The group said the contractor handling the rehabilitation of Lagos-Ibadan expressway intended to construct an overhead bridge on their settlement, popularly called Islamic City.

The decision, the group said, was an attempt to eliminate the only thriving Muslim community in the area.

Amir (President) of Zumuratul Jamiu Mumin Society of Nigeria, Khalifah Issa Olayiwola and Secretary, Ustaz Ahmad Atanda, explained that the flyover bridge, if not urgently corrected, would consume their six acres of land which houses residential buildings, schools, mosque, religious centres and the burial grounds of their founding fathers.

In its petition, titled: Objection to the construction of interchange design overhead bridge and the grand plan to clandestinely eliminate the Muslim community of Islamic City located on the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, Pakuro/Lotto Bus-Stop, Mowe, Ogun State, Nigeria, the group regretted that all attempts by the leadership of the Muslim community to prevail on the contractor to correct the imbalances proved abortive.

It urged President Buhari, the leadership of the National Assembly and Fashola to intervene in the imbroglio.

The group also urged them to prevail on the Federal Ministry of Works and the Contractor undertaking the project to ensure that in whatever design of the interchange being implemented in the project, the land accommodating the Muslim Community of Islamic City is preserved.

Khalifah Olayiwola said: “The Muslim community of Islamic City is just one of the minority land settlements within the numerous faith-based/religious settlements on the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway populated by different Christian groups.

“It has become imperative that we urgently bring to the attention of Your Excellency to what we consider a glaring injustice, religious oppression and intolerance and a deliberate ploy and grand design to cleverly eliminate the Muslim community of Islamic City from their current legitimate site using the construction of the interchange as an excuse.

“We say this because the ongoing project, with respect to the overhead bridge/flyover and/or interchange bridge currently being embarked upon at Pakuro/Lotto Bus Stop of the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, Mowe, Ogun State, is one that has been shrouded in secrecy by the contractor undertaking the project.

“It may interest your Excellency to know that Zumuratul Jamiu Mumin Society of Nigeria (ZJM) under our founder obtained its first Certificate of Occupancy (C of O) over the current location of land in 1993 from Ogun State government and the Certificate of Occupancy, dated June 16, 1993, was registered as 48/48/458 at the Lands Registry Office in Abeokuta over the parcel of the land measuring 1.446 hectares.

Source: The Nation

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Hamas official: Resistance movements won’t accept continuation of Israeli siege on Gaza

05 January 2022

A member of the political bureau of the Palestinian resistance movement Hamas has warned that resistance movements will not remain silent for long on the siege imposed by Israel on the Gaza Strip.

Husam Badran told Anadolu news agency on Wednesday that the resistance movements "will not accept the continuation of the siege on Gaza."

He stressed that the upcoming days will prove that the resistance groups “will not remain silent for long” on the present situation.

Badran also noted that “the resistance leadership sent clear messages that al-Quds Sword is still legitimized,” referring to the operation launched by the Palestinian resistance movements against the Israeli regime’s latest war on the coastal sliver in May.

Back on May 10, the Israeli military launched a brutal bombing campaign against Gaza, following Palestinian retaliation for violent Israeli raids on worshipers at al-Aqsa Mosque and the regime’s plans to force a number of Palestinian families out of their homes in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of East al-Quds.

About 260 Palestinians were killed in the Israeli bombardment, including dozens of women and children.

In response, Palestinian resistance movements, chief among them Hamas, launched Operation al-Quds Sword and fired more than 4,000 rockets and missiles into the occupied territories, killing 12 Israelis.

Apparently caught off guard by the unprecedented barrage of rockets from Gaza, Israel announced a unilateral ceasefire on May 21, which Palestinian resistance movements accepted with Egyptian mediation.

Badran also noted that Hamas is engaged in contacts with Egypt and a number of mediators to ease the siege on the Gaza Strip.

He also stated that Hamas rejects any requirements set by Tel Aviv in order to resolve the humanitarian crisis in Gaza or reach a prisoner exchange deal, indicating that these conditions are aimed to “shuffle the cards.”

Israel bans medical equipment from entering Gaza

The health ministry in Gaza said on Wednesday that the Israeli regime continues to block the entry of medical equipment to the Gaza Strip.

"At a time when the world is on alert to confront the new variant of the coronavirus, the [Israeli] occupation is committing this full-fledged crime of hindering the entry of a number of diagnostic and medical devices that help enhance the readiness of the health system in the Gaza Strip.”

Source: Press TV

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Iran, France Vow to Broaden Judicial Cooperation


During the meeting in Tehran on Tuesday, Qaribabadi and Thiébaud explored avenues for bolstering and reinvigorating bilateral relations in the judicial fields.

Referring to the experience of expert dialogues on legal and judicial issues with some European countries, Qaribabadi said that Iran is ready to exchange views with France in this field.

"The expert judicial dialogues could also help the countries to come to a better mutual understanding," he added.

Qaribabadi, also the secretary of Iran's Human Rights Headquarters, criticized the approaches and double standards of some countries towards the issue of human rights.

Philippe Thiébaud, for his part, explained his country's views on human rights and welcomed Iran's proposal on exchanging legal and judicial dialogues.

In relevant remarks last year, Iranian President Seyed Ebrahim Ebrahim Rayeesi said that his country was ready to open the doors of its jails to all those who claim to be advocates of human rights provided that Tehran will be given a similar access to prisons of other countries.

“We are ready to open the doors of our prisons to any country in the world that wants to see inside of them, provided that we will be allowed to visit any prison in any country that we want; if this happens, it will be clarified where human rights are respected and where these rights are being ignored,” Rayeesi said.

“Today, the freedom-seeking people in the world do not believe the westerners’ respect for human rights, and they know that the westerners’ moves are political, and they have used human rights as a pretext to put pressure on independent and developing countries,” he added.

Source: Fars News Agency

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Iran Rescues 11 Indian Crew before Vessel Sinks in Persian Gulf


"The vessel, which was carrying a sugar load, was headed to the Port of Sohar, Oman, which changed its direction towards Iran's waters due to storms, weather conditions, and technical defects," Mehrani said.

He pointed out that the general condition of the crew members is good, saying that the vessel went down four miles from Gabrik, Jask, and sank due to a fracture.

Source: Fars News Agency

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Iran to Prosecute 127 Persons Involved in Assassination of General Soleimani


Iranian Judiciary Spokesman Zabihollah Khodayian said the country has sent 11 letters of request to 9 countries asking for measures against the 127 culprits.

He also said Iran and Iraq have signed a memorandum of understanding in this regard adding that two neighbors have formed working groups which will soon hold their third joint meeting.

Khodayian expressed the hope that with cooperation from the vice president for legal affairs and the department for international affairs of the Judiciary, the assassination of General Soleimani will be followed up on more seriously internationally.

Former Commander of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) Qods Force Lieutenant General Qassem Soleimani, his Iraqi trenchmate Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, the second-in-command of Iraq’s PMU, and ten of their deputies were martyred by an armed drone strike as their convoy left Baghdad International Airport on January 3, 2020. The attack was ordered by then US President Donald Trump.

To date, Iran’s chief civilian prosecutor has indicted tens of individuals in connection with the assassination, among them former president Trump, the head of US Central Command General Kenneth McKenzie Jr., and former US Secretaries of State and Defense Mike Pompeo and Mark Esper.

The file remains open to the further addition of individuals that Tehran determines to have played a role in the killing.

Both commanders were highly popular because of their key role in fighting against the ISIL terrorist group in the region, particularly in Iraq and Syria.

Back in January 2020, two days after the assassination, the Iraqi parliament passed a law requiring the Iraqi government to end the presence of the US-led foreign forces in the Arab country.

Last year, Baghdad and Washington reached an agreement on ending the presence of all US combat troops in Iraq by the end of 2021.

The US military declared the end of its combat mission in Iraq this month, but resistance forces remain bent on expelling all American forces, including those who have stayed in the country on the pretext of training Iraqi forces or playing an advisory role.

Since the assassination, Iraqi resistance forces have ramped up pressure on the US military to leave their country, targeting American bases and forces on numerous occasions, at one point pushing the Americans to ask them to “just leave us alone”.

Iran and Iraq in a joint statement last month underlined their determination to identify, prosecute and punish the culprits behind the assassination of General Soleimani and al-Muhandis.

Iran and Iraq have issued a joint statement on an investigation into the “criminal and terrorist” assassination by the US of top anti-terror commanders of the two countries in Baghdad in 2020, Deputy Head of Iran’s Judiciary for international affairs and secretary general of the country's High Council for Human Rights Kazzem Qaribabadi said.

He added that the statement was issued during the second session of a joint Iran-Iraq committee investigating the murder of General Soleimani and al-Muhandis.

Source: Fars News Agency

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Iran, Nicaragua to Further Expand Cultural Ties


Chairman of Iran’s Islamic Culture and Relations Organization (ICRO) Hojjatoleslam Mohammad Mahdi Imanipour and the Co-Director General of Nicaragua's Culture Institute Enrique Morales Alonso signed the MoU on cultural and artistic cooperation.

Imanipour, for his part, stated that the MoU has great potential that can provide good opportunities for cultural and artistic cooperation between the Iranian and Nicaraguan nations.

He also stressed the need to expand comprehensive relations between Iran and Nicaragua.

In the meeting, Alonso said that signing the MoU in the field of tourism and cinema will form the essential background for the two countries to get acquainted with each other.

Nicaraguan Ambassador to Iran Isaac Lenin Bravo who also attended the meeting, for his turn, expressed the hope that the two countries will see the expansion of cooperation in the future by signing the MoU.

In a relevant development last month, Iranian President Seyed Ebrahim Rayeesi in a phone conversation with his Nicaraguan counterpart Daniel Ortega underlined the two nations’ capability to confront the US cruel embargoes and pressures.

During the phone talks, Rayeesi said that the Iranian nation did not stop its advancement in the face of the obstacles and problems that had been created by the United States among others.

“We are certain that Nicaragua too can overcome the US’s threats and sanctions since today the US is in decline and is growing weaker day by day,” he said.

The US’s coercive measures and threats, the Iranian chief executive noted, has no impact on the willpower of the world’s independent and freedom-seeking countries.

“The (international) hegemonic system cannot impose its will on the Islamic Republic and Nicaragua since the countries rely on their peoples’ votes and support, and can (therefore) stand up to hegemonic powers’ excessive demands,” Rayeesi stated.

Source: Fars News Agency

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Palestinian killed by Israel army in West Bank: Sources

06 January ,2022

A Palestinian was killed by the Israeli army in the occupied West Bank early Thursday, Palestinian medical and security sources said.

Bakir Hashash, 21, of the Balata refugee camp, was shot in the head after the Israeli army entered an area east of the northern city of Nablus to make arrests, the sources said.

Contacted by AFP, the Israeli army had no immediate comment.

Clashes break out frequently in Palestinian population centres in the West Bank when Israeli troops mount incursions to carry out arrests.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Palestinian-American gets 2 life terms for Israeli teen’s murder

05 January ,2022

An Israeli military court Wednesday sentenced a Palestinian man with US citizenship to two life terms and more than $800,000 in penalties for the murder of a Jewish student in the occupied West Bank.

“The defendant will serve a total of two life sentences for this case,” the three-judge panel of the military court ruled.

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Montasser Shalabi, 44, was convicted last August of “intentional manslaughter -- equivalent to the offence of murder” after he opened fire at passengers waiting at a bus stop at Tapuah junction in the northern West Bank in May 2021.

The attack killed Yehuda Guetta, 19, a student at a religious seminary in Itamar settlement, and wounded two of his friends.

The military court ruled that Shalabi should also pay the equivalent of $484,000 to Guetta’s family, $323,000 to a student left paralyzed by his shooting injuries, and about $6,500 to a another student lightly injured in the attack.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Martyrs' blood went into Pak-Afghan border fencing, will continue as planned: DG ISPR

January 5, 2022

Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) Director General Maj Gen Babar Iftikhar on Wednesday said that fencing of the Pak-Afghan border would continue as planned, adding that the blood of martyred soldiers was involved in erecting the fence.

Maj Gen Iftikhar made these remarks in Rawalpindi during a press conference, his first of 2022, scheduled to coincide with Kashmiri people's Right to Self-Determination Day.

During the wide-ranging media talk on a myriad of issues relating to security and regional developments, the army spokesperson also discussed issues related to the Pak-Afghan border, including its fencing.

According to the DG ISPR, border fencing was being done in an effort to protect the people on both sides as well as to regulate trade. "The fence on the Pak-Afghan border is needed to regulate security, border crossing and trade. The purpose of this is not to divide the people, but to protect them."

He also said that the security situation along the Western border was "challenging" during 2021. "The western border management, specifically the Pak-Afghan border ... there are some specific local, operational and strategic dynamics and these are [being] addressed at the relevant level."

The DG ISPR said that the Pak-Afghan border fencing was 94 per cent complete, adding: "We are totally focused, and under the western border management regime, the work that is underway will be completed in some time."

He said that the border management system would be made more effective with the passage of time. "The blood of our martyrs was spilled in erecting this fence. It is a fence of peace. It will be completed and will remain [in place]."

He also said that 67 new wings of Frontier Corps Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa had been established in 2021 to further strengthen border security. He added that a process to establish six more wings had been initiated.

When asked whether the government had protested with Afghanistan about recent incidents of damage to the border fence, the DG ISPR reiterated that western border management had "local and strategic dynamics".

The DG ISPR deemed the recent uprooting of the fence by Taliban fighters as "one or two localised problems", which he said was being discussed by the governments of both the countries.

"We have very good relations. We understand each other and keep talking about different issues that keep surfacing. There is no problem, fencing is underway and will continue."

Talk of deal with Nawaz 'baseless speculation'

During the question and answers session, when asked to comment on rumours of a deal with PML-N's self-exiled leader Nawaz Sharif, the DG ISPR said: "I will only say that all of this is baseless speculation.

"If anyone is talking about a deal, please ask them who is doing the deal. Where is the evidence of such a deal. There is no such thing," he said.

The DG ISPR called on reporters to instead question those talking about a deal, reiterating that it was "baseless speculation". "In my understanding, and I am very clear on that, this is baseless speculation."

Later, he was also asked about the state of civil-military relations, to which he responded that there were "no issues".

"The armed forces are subservient to the government and work according to their directives. There is nothing more to it."

He also urged the media to keep the "establishment" out of politics. "There are more issues to discuss in this country, such as health and education [...] please keep us out of it."

'No ceasefire with TTP currently, operations to continue'

The DG ISPR also touched on recent talks with the banned Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) during the press briefing, stating that they were "on hold" but operations were "ongoing".

"The ceasefire [with the TTP] ended on Dec 9. It [the ceasefire] was a confidence-building measure taken ahead of talks with these violent non-state actors on the request of the current Afghan government.

"There was a requirement for the interim Afghan govt that the TTP should not be using their soil against us so they said they would bring them to the table and make them accept what Pakistan wants. Obviously, those external conditions were yet to be settled.

"The TTP is not a monolith. They have internal differences. There were some problems ... some conditions that were non-negotiable from our side so there is no ceasefire [right now]. We are continuing with operations and will continue till we get rid of this menace. That's how it goes."

'Propaganda against institutions has failed'

The DG ISPR also spoke of a "campaign" against national institutions, which he said was hatched to create a a "gulf" between the masses and the institutions and to "damage people's trust".

"We are aware of these efforts and their various linkages," he said. "[Those] who spew half-truths, fake news and false propaganda to target institutions and damage the country have failed and will always fail."

At one point, a reporter also asked the army spokesperson about whether Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa would be granted another extension in 2022.

However, the DG ISPR firmly stated that it would be best not to indulge in such "baseless accusations".

Occupied Kashmir

Maj Gen Babar Iftikhar began the press conference by recalling Indian forces' atrocities in occupied Kashmir as well as "propaganda" campaigns by their media.

He said that under the ceasefire agreement signed with India in February 2020, the situation along the Line of Control (LoC) remained largely peaceful, adding that the "biggest dividend" was that it improved the lives of locals living in the area.

"At the same time, the blame from the Indian military leadership and false propaganda points to a specific agenda to remove global attention from Indian atrocities in occupied Kashmir."

The DG ISPR accused India of engendering regional security through its defence procurement, adding that it would trigger an "arms race" in the region and have a negative impact on peace.

He also rejected Indian allegations against Pakistan regarding infiltration. "They have committed false propaganda about infiltration along the LoC," he said.

"They recently staged a fake encounter in Neelum Valley in Kirin sector and killed an innocent Kashmiri and then blamed us. In this particular incident, the Indian media ran pictures of a terrorist named Shabbir. He is not only alive but is at his home in Sharda," he said, adding that India had killed countless Kashmiris.

"The reality is that India wants to externalise the indigenous freedom struggle of the Kashmiris. But voices are cropping up from everywhere that the people are being targeted and their struggle is being stamped out," he said.

"On January 5, 1989, the people of Kashmir were promised the right to self-determination by the UN. That promise remains unfulfilled. On this occasion, we salute their (Kashmiri people's) bravery."

Review of armed forces' performance in 2021

Maj Gen Babar also reviewed the armed forces' performance during 2021, calling their work "wonderful".

He said that under Operation Radd-ul-Fasaad, 60,000 intelligence-based operations were carried out which helped to dismantle terrorist networks.

"In 2021, intelligence agencies issued 890 threat alerts, on the basis of which 70pc incidents were averted," he said. "The masterminds and their facilitators were unmasked."

"In tribal areas, more than 70,000 mines ... were recovered and lives were saved. Many officials were injured and martyred during the process."

"In 2021, 248 troops were martyred. We salute them and their families. [Their sacrifices] helped establish peace."

"Under the National Action Plan (NAP), action was taken against terrorists. We can tackle extremism by focusing on the NAP. The ulema and media have also played their part. In Pakistan, no group or person can be allowed to take the law in their hand. Only the state can exercise this power."

Source: Dawn

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Seniority neither requirement nor convention for elevation to SC: body

January 5, 2022

ISLAMABAD: The suggestion that seniority is a legal prerequisite for the elevation of a junior judge to the Supreme Court is a myth and “there is no [such] requirement in law and Constitution” of Pakistan, the Women in Law Pakistan, an initiative seeking to connect the female lawyers scattered across the nation, said.

In August, Chief Justice Gulzar Ahmed nominated Justice Ayesha A. Malik of the Lahore High Court (LHC) for elevation to the top court as the first-ever woman judge in the nation’s judicial history but many in the male-dominated bar councils declared she’s no Ruth Bader Ginsburg, forcing the Judicial Commission of Pakistan (JCP) to defer her appointment.

The bodies advocate that only the senior-most judge of a high court should be the one elevated to the Supreme Court. Justice Malik is fourth in the seniority order of the LHC.

The latest attempt at doing the same appears to be meeting a similar fate as a section of the legal fraternity called on Chief Justice Ahmed to postpone Thursday’s meeting of the JCP convened to consider the elevation of Justice Malik.

In a statement issued Wednesday, Women in Law Pakistan said “at least 41 times judges have been appointed to the Supreme Court without them being most senior. There is, therefore, no such custom either. Seniority is at best a mere demand of some members of the Bars at the moment and has no legal basis”.

The statement makes a reference to Article 175-A(3) of the Constitution which “speaks of seniority only in relation to the appointment of the Chief Justice of Pakistan”.

In addition, as per Article 177(2) of the Constitution, to be eligible for appointment as a judge of the Supreme Court, a person must be a citizen of Pakistan, a judge of the high court for five years, or an advocate of the high court for 15 years.

Justice Malik has served as a judge on the high court since March 27, 2012.

“Absence of the words, ‘the most senior’ in Article 177 for appointment of Judges of the SC shows that seniority of a Judge in the High Court is not an essential condition for their appointment as a Judge of the SC.”

“Seniority as an interim measure will halt conversation for holistic reforms actually needed for greater transparency and representation,” it added.

Source: Pakistan Today

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Pakistan: Imran Khan's PTI under scanner after EC report on foreign funding

Jan 6, 2022

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan's ruling party Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) headed by Prime Minister Imran Khan is under scanner after a report compiled by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP)'s on its funding.

The foreign funding has once again put the spotlight on the murky fundraising of Pakistan parties. The report says the party received funding from foreign nationals and companies, under-reported funds, concealed numerous bank accounts, and refused to divulge details of large transactions, according to Dawn.

The Election Commission of Pakistan's report stated that the PTI provided "false information" regarding the party's funding. It's said the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) statement revealed that the party had received Rs 1.64 million in funding.

The fact that the panel struggled to get details of foreign accounts and its funds abroad is troubling, though there is no explicit allegation of wrongdoing in the report, the party's resistance during the entire case raises questions, according to Dawn.

Earlier, Imran Khan has campaigned on the pledge of 'clean' and 'transparent' governance in the lead-up to the 2018 elections.

If, as the PM and PTI ministers say, the funds are genuine donations and the audit is welcome, then the party should provide details of the foreign accounts and funds in them, according to Dawn.

Earlier, the scrutiny committee of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) constituted in March 2019 to audit the foreign funds of the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) submitted its report to the commission in November last year.

Terming the foreign funding report a "damning indictment" of Prime Minister Imran Khan, the country's two main opposition parties -- the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) -- have urged the Supreme Court (SC) and the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to proceed against the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI).

Source: Times of India

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After Taliban took power in Kabul, terror attacks in Pakistan surged

Jan 5, 2022

ISLAMABAD: After the Taliban took control of Kabul and Afghanistan, terror attacks in neighbouring Pakistan have surged, contradictory to Prime Minister Imran Khan's claims of having defeated terrorism.

Terror attacks actually rose by 56 per cent in Pakistan, with the majority of them fuelled by the return to power of the Taliban. The spurt began in May last year when the Taliban had swept through large parts of Afghanistan, much of it with Pakistan's logistic support and the participation of some 6,000 fighters of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and other Pakistan-based Sunni extremist groups who enjoy ideological affinity with the new Kabul rulers, International Forum For Right And Security (IFRAS) said in a report on Wednesday.

The development has also resulted in the rise of Islamic State-Khorasan (IS-K) in the region. The IS-K is challenging the new rulers in Kabul.

The affiliate of the IS focuses on South Asia, challenging the new government in Kabul, thus muddying waters for both the Taliban and for Pakistan that has been confidently awaiting the benefit of its Taliban's sponsorship by gaining what it bills as "strategic depth." Analysts call it "strategic landmine" that Pakistan has set foot on, the report added.

IS-K has claimed several attacks in Afghanistan after the US withdrawal and the Taliban's return to power. The group has been also behind some attacks in recent months in Pakistan. These attacks by the IS-K have exploited the political opportunities to establish itself as the pre-eminent resistance to Afghanistan's Taliban and its allies in Pakistan.

The figures gathered and analysed by Islamabad-based think tank Pakistan Institute for Conflict and Security Studies (PICSS) show that after a consistent decline in militant attacks for the past six years, Pakistan witnessed a 56 per cent increase in the number of terror attacks during 2021. In 2021, militants carried out 294 attacks, killing 388 people and wounding another 606, according to the report that details the rising frequency, lethality and geographic scope of terror attacks across Pakistan this year, said IFFRAS.

Neither Islamabad nor Kabul has commented on the report yet. But heads in both countries have attempted to downplay the IS-K threat.

Pakistan's Balochistan is the most turbulent province of the country accounting for the highest number of deaths (170) in 103 militant attacks. The highest number of injured were also reported in Balochistan, where over 50 per cent of all injuries from militant attacks in the country occurred (331), the PICSS Militancy Database shows, said IFFRAS.

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa's tribal districts were the second most impacted region in the country. In the over 100 attacks, which occurred in the region, 117 people were killed while 103 were injured.

Source: Times of India

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Lord Nazir Ahmed convicted of sexual offences

January 6, 2022

A BRITISH court convicted Lord Nazir Ahmed, a former British parliamentarian of Pak­istan descent, on Wednesday of sexual offences against two children in the 1970s.

According to the BBC, the court found Lord Ahmed guilty of a serious sexual assault against a boy and the attempted rape of a girl. The Sheffield Crown Court heard the repea­ted sexual abuse happened in Rotherham, Yorkshire, when the former MP was a teenager.

The 64-year-old had denied the charges.

Judge Mr Justice Lavender will decide later when Lord Ahmed will be sentenced.

Prosecutor Tom Little told the court Nazir Ahmed had attempted to rape the girl in the early 1970s, when the defendant was aged 16 or 17 but she was much younger. The attack on the boy, who was aged under 11 at the time, also happened during the same period.

Mr Little said Lord Nazir Ahmed claimed the allegations were a “malicious fiction”, but a phone recording of a 2016 conversation between the two victims showed they were not “made-up or concocted”.

Source: Dawn

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Pakistan, GCC finalise action plan for strategic dialogue

January 6, 2022

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) on Wednesday finalised the Joint Action Plan for Strategic Dialogue (2022-26).

The plan, in line with a memorandum of understanding on strategic dialogue, provides for an institutional approach to deepen cooperation in various fields, including political, security, trade and investment, agricultural and food security, transportation, energy, environment, health, culture and education.

The action plan was finalised during a delegation-level meeting between Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi and GCC Secretary General Dr Nayef Falah M. Al-Hajraf.

During the talks, the two sides reviewed cooperation in diverse fields and explored new avenues for an enhanced mutually beneficial partnership, said the Foreign Office in a statement.

Tarin, Al-Hajraf discuss various avenues of economic cooperation

The two sides also exchanged views on the regional developments, in particular the prevailing humanitarian situation in Afghanistan and the deteriorating human rights situation in Indian occupied Kashmir. Fondly recalling the meeting in December 2021, Foreign Minister Qureshi exten­ded a warm welcome to Dr Al-Hajraf.

He reaffirmed Pakistan’s abiding fraternal and historical ties with the GCC member states, rooted firmly in shared faith, values and culture.

Foreign Minister Qureshi and Secretary General Al-Hajraf underscored that the Action Plan would impart a strong impetus towards optimally realising the tremendous potential for increased cooperation between Pakistan and the GCC states.

Noting the progress on the ongoing efforts to conclude the Free Trade Agreement between Pakistan and the GCC, Mr Qureshi and Dr Al-Hajraf expressed determination to conclude the negotiations on priority.

Mr Qureshi expressed gratitude to the GCC and its member states for strong expression of support for the people of Afghanistan in the 17th Extraordinary Session of the OIC Council of Foreign Ministers held in Islamabad on December 19, 2021.

The foreign minister urged the world community to upscale its efforts to reach out to the Afghan people on an urgent basis to help address the humanitarian crisis and stabilise the economic situation in that country.

Later, Dr Al-Hajraf called on Finance Minister Shaukat Tarin.

Talking to the GCC delegation, Mr Tarin said the Pakistan government was committed to introducing reforms in various sectors to address the outstanding structural issues and to attain sustainable and inclusive growth.

Source: Dawn

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Southeast Asia


Aceh's residents on 31-year waiting list for Mecca hajj: Official

January 06, 2022

West Aceh, Aceh (ANTARA) - Aceh Province's residents, who registered for going on hajj to the holy city of Mecca, Saudi Arabia, starting from 2022, are on a 31-year waiting list, a local government official stated.

"Some 129,119 residents of Aceh Province have registered for hajj," Head of the West Aceh Office for Religious Affairs Khairul Azhar noted in a statement here, Wednesday.

The waiting time for being able to depart for the hajj pilgrimage in Mecca could be longer owing to the global pandemic of COVID-19 that has also been affecting Saudi Arabia since 2020, he pointed out.

The COVID-19 pandemic has repeatedly prompted the Government of Saudi Arabia to impose travel restrictions for those keen to perform hajj and umrah (minor hajj).

As a result of the travel curbs imposed amid the pandemic, Indonesia's hajj pilgrims, including those from Aceh, have been unable to go to Mecca since 2020, he remarked.

This condition has extended the length of the waiting list, he noted, adding that during the hajj season, Aceh has the opportunity to send 4,359 residents for the annual pilgrimage to Mecca.

The hajj pilgrims come from 23 districts all over Aceh, Indonesia's westernmost province that lies on the northern tip of Sumatra Island.

Speaking in connection with the hajj season in Mecca, Chairperson of the Honorary Council of the Indonesian Hajj Brotherhood Association (IPHI) Jusuf Kalla is optimistic of normalcy being restored for conducting the hajj pilgrimage in 2022.

The COVID-19 pandemic had impeded hajj pilgrimage in 2020 and 2021, with pilgrims performing hajj rituals under coronavirus restrictions, Kalla stated.

Meanwhile, ANTARA reported earlier that Saudi Arabia had lifted the suspension on direct flights from Indonesia, effective from December 1, 2021.

According to Director General of Hajj and Umrah at the Religious Affairs Ministry, Hilman Latief, the decision taken by the Saudi Arabian aviation authority also applies to flights for Umrah pilgrims.

Source: Antara News

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Indonesian Prosecutors Seek Life for Bali Bombing Suspect

By Niniek Karmini

January 06, 2022

Indonesian prosecutors on Wednesday demanded a life sentence for a top terror suspect who eluded capture for 18 years and accused him of masterminding a series of deadly attacks in the world’s most populous Muslim nation.

Aris Sumarsono, 58, whose real name is Arif Sunarso but is better known as Zulkarnaen, sat impassively as the prosecution announced the sentencing demand before a panel of three judges in East Jakarta District Court in a session that was held remotely due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Police and prosecutors say Zulkarnaen is the former military commander of Jemaah Islamiyah, a Southeast Asian militant group with ties to al-Qaida. The group is widely blamed for attacks, including the 2002 bombings on the Indonesian resort island of Bali that killed 202 people, mostly foreign tourists, as well as attacks in the Philippines.

Zulkarnaen had eluded capture for 18 years after being named a suspect in the October 2002 suicide bombings of Paddy’s Pub and the Sari Club in Bali. He was arrested last year in Lampung, a province on the southern tip of Sumatra. Police were tipped off to his hideout after interrogating several suspected militants arrested in earlier raids.

Zulkarnaen argued that he was a leader of the network’s military wing but was not involved in the operation of the Bali bombings, as he was focused on organizing his squad for sectarian conflicts in Ambon and Poso and in the southern Philippines.

During his trial, which began in September, other convicted militants in the 2002 Bali bombings, including Umar Patek and Ali Imron, who were sentenced to 20 years and life in jail, respectively, supported Zulkarnaen’s claim, saying he knew about the plot but did not play a role in its operation.

The sentencing demand was initially scheduled for November 24 but was postponed several times.

State prosecutor Agus Tri told the court that Zulkarnaen’s acts had resulted in deaths and injuries and that there was no reason for leniency. “The defendant was involved in the Bali bombings plan,” he told the court. “He also instructed his group’s special forces led by him to save Jemaah Islamiyah’s assets, including weapons and explosives.”

Police previously said Zulkarnaen masterminded church attacks that occurred simultaneously in many Indonesian regions on Christmas and New Year’s Eve in 2000 that killed more than 20 people. He was also the mastermind of a bomb attack on the official residence of the Philippine ambassador in Jakarta in 2000 that killed two people, and the architect of sectarian conflict in Ambon and Poso from 1998 to 2000.

Conflicts between Christians and Muslims in Ambon, the provincial capital of the Molluca islands, left more than 5,000 people dead and half-a-million displaced. The Muslim-Christian conflict in Poso, known as a hotbed of Islamic militancy on Indonesia’s Sulawesi island, killed at least 1,000 people from 1998 to 2002.

Zulkarnaen, a biologist who was among the first Indonesian militants to go to Afghanistan in the 1980s for training, was an instructor at a military academy there for seven years, Indonesian police said.

Since May 2005, Zulkarnaen has been listed on an al-Qaida sanctions list by the U.N. Security Council for being associated with Osama bin Laden or the Taliban.

The Security Council said that Zulkarnaen, who became an expert in sabotage, was one of al-Qaida’s representatives in Southeast Asia and one of the few people in Indonesia who had had direct contact with bin Laden’s network.

It said that Zulkarnaen led a squad of fighters known as the Laskar Khos, or Special Force, whose members were recruited from among some 300 Indonesians who trained in Afghanistan and the Philippines.

Source: The Diplomat

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Islamic religious dept to rein in Raja Bomoh for anti-rain ritual

January 6, 2022

PETALING JAYA: Ibrahim Mat Zin, better known as Raja Bomoh, will be called by the Perak Islamic religious department in connection with a ritual supposedly to ward off floods which went viral on social media yesterday.

Ibrahim had risen to fame for all the wrong reasons when he claimed that he could find MH370 by using coconuts, a “flying” carpet and a few bamboo sticks several years ago.

The department’s director, Mohd Yusop Husin, said it would also call other individuals involved in the incident at Dataran Pengairan and Saliran Teluk Intan to assist in the investigation under Section 14 of the Perak Syariah Criminal Enactment 1992 for defaming and insulting Islam.

“People are advised not to be influenced by such things and stay away from practices that lead to superstition,” Bernama quoted him as saying.

A 25-minute video had gone viral on social media recently showing Ibrahim and a woman performing a ritual using ingredients including rice, turmeric, flowers and leaves before leaving them to be washed into the sea.

The video also showed the woman, known as Puteri Zaleha, purportedly singing a song called Mayang Sari while placing the Quran in front of them.

Perak police chief Mior Faridalathrash Wahid had earlier said they received a report on the incident at 4.20pm yesterday.

Source: Free Malaysia Today

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Covid-19: Umrah pilgrim becomes first Omicron case in Sabah, says state minister

05 Jan 2022

KOTA KINABALU, Jan 5 — A local man who returned to the country on December 19 after performing umrah became the first case of Covid-19 Omicron variant to be detected in Sabah, said state Local Government and Housing Minister Datuk Masidi Manjun.

The Sabah Covid-19 spokesman said the man and his wife performed umrah from December 9 to 18 and returned to Malaysia on December 19 via Kuala Lumpur International Airport.

He said the patient and his wife arrived in Tawau on December 20 and were ordered to undergo quarantine at home but the ‘whole genome sequencing’ test result on January 4 showed the patient was positive for Omicron variant.

“While being confirmed positive for Covid-19 earlier, the husband placed in category 2 while the wife was in category 1. Both completed their quarantine on January 1, 2022, and had recovered from the virus infection. (Note: the patient recovered from infection before the Covid-19 infection of the patient was confirmed an Omicron patient on January 4).

Source: Malay Mail

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Arab World


US lawsuit filed against Lebanon and its powerful intelligence agency

05 January ,2022

The head of Lebanon’s General Security may have landed himself and his country in hot water after intervening in a US lawsuit that initially accused Iran of ordering the detainment and detention of a Lebanese-American citizen.

The family of Amer Fakhoury, who had worked with an Israeli-backed militia in southern Lebanon until 2000, is now suing Lebanon, the General Security and its chief, Abbas Ibrahim, who is known for negotiating prisoner swaps and freeing captives, including US citizens.

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Fakhoury worked as a senior warden at the notorious Khiam Prison in south Lebanon, run by the Israeli-backed South Lebanon Army (SLA), before Israel ended its 18-year occupation in 2000.

His family says he worked at the prison but never had contact with inmates and did not torture prisoners.

Despite being accused by Lebanese officials of torturing prisoners during his time with the SLA, Fakhoury’s lawyer said he was given assurances that he could enter Lebanon after nearly 20 years.

He reportedly met with Lebanon’s president, Michel Aoun, during a visit to Boston before traveling to Lebanon. According to a lawsuit by the family, Fakhoury was also in contact with a member of Aoun’s presidential office.

He was detained in Beirut in September 2019 and released the following March. But a travel ban was placed on him after a military judge appealed the decision.

Nevertheless, he was flown out of the country following a movie-like operation from the US Embassy in Beirut.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Israel issues first sentence in mob attack on Arab driver

05 January ,2022

An Israeli court on Wednesday sentenced a man to one year in prison for his involvement in a mob attack on an Arab motorist during a spasm of communal violence last year.

Lahav Nagauker, who was 20 at the time, was convicted of incitement to violence and racism as part of a plea deal that resulted in lighter charges.

His sentencing was the first in the incident that took place last May, when a mob yanked Said Moussa from his car and proceeded to beat him in an assault that left him motionless and bloodied on the ground. Moussa was seriously injured in the attack.

The court said Nagauker was not involved in the actual attack, but threw a bottle at Moussa’s car, damaging the rear windshield.

The beating, which took place in the Tel Aviv suburb of Bat Yam, occurred while Israel was at war with Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip. The 11-day war ignited an unprecedented wave of internecine Jewish-Arab violence in cities around the country.

The unprovoked beating of the motorist was caught on live television, shocking the public. Nagauker was interviewed live moments after the beating, telling a reporter “we came tonight to fight with Arabs ... if we must we will kill them, and if we must we will murder them.”

According to the plea deal, Nagauker confessed to the charges against him. His one-year prison term is retroactive to the day he was arrested in May. He was also ordered to pay 2,000 shekels ($645) to a restaurant damaged in the unrest.

Nagauker is among at least 10 people who were charged in the incident. In all, hundreds of people, mostly Arabs, were arrested for the nationwide violence, which saw mobs of Jews or Arabs vandalize property and violently clash, in some cases resulting in deaths.

Also Wednesday, an Israeli military court sentenced a Palestinian-American man to two life sentences for carrying out a deadly attack on Israelis in the occupied West Bank.

Israel says Muntasser Shalaby, 44, carried out a drive-by shooting last May that killed Israeli student Yehuda Guetta and wounded two others. He was arrested days after the attack and Israeli forces demolished his house weeks later.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Arab Coalition receives distress signal from oil tanker off Yemen’s Hodeidah port

06 January ,2022

The Arab Coalition received on Wednesday a distress signal from an oil tanker after it was subjected to armed harassment off Yemen’s Hodeidah port, state media reported.

The Coalition confirmed the presence of high-risk indicators in the region and the sea corridor opposite the port of Hodeidah.

The Coalition had earlier said it monitored and documented “preparations for hostile action by an explosive-laden boat from the Yemeni port of Saleef.”

It reiterated that the planning and execution of the seizure of the Emirati-flagged “Rawabi” ship originated from the port of Hodeidah.

The Coalition considers the port of Hodeidah to be a major center for receiving and assembling Iranian ballistic missiles, and stressed that both Hodeidah and Saleef are major centers for the launch of hostilities and threaten maritime security.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Rocket attack hits military camp near Baghdad Airport

Ali Jawad  



A camp in the vicinity of Baghdad International Airport has been hit by a rocket attack, the Iraqi Defense Ministry said on Wednesday.

"A Katyusha rocket landed on the Al-Nasr camp in the vicinity of Baghdad International Airport in the capital," the ministry said in a statement.

No casualties were reported.

Al-Nasr (Victory) camp is one of the military sites where advisers to the US-led international coalition against the Daesh/ISIS terror group are located.

Wednesday’s attack was the fourth against US-led coalition bases in Iraq within a week, which came amid tension over the presence of US-led forces in Iraq.

On Dec. 9, both Iraq and the international coalition announced the official end of the combat mission of coalition forces in the country.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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Israeli tank fire hits south-western Syrian village as choppers hover overhead: Report

05 January 2022

The Israeli regime’s tanks have reportedly fired a number of shells towards the Quneitra Province that lies in Syria’s extreme southwest.

The official Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA)’s reported late Wednesday that the tank shells had fallen near Quneitra’s al-Horriah Village.

“Explosions were heard in the area,” the report said.

The attack was carried out as Israeli helicopters were seen loitering overhead, it added.

Syria and the Israeli regime are technically at war since the latter has been occupying the Arab country’s Golan Heights since 1967, when the regime launched its second major war against regional Arab nations.

The regime uses the hugely strategic plateau to launch recurrent attacks against the Syrian soil.

Most recently, the regime attacked Latakia, the country's biggest port city, which lies in its northwest with missiles last Tuesday, prompting Syria's air defenses to confront the projectiles.

Source: Press TV

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Rockets target Ain al-Assad base hosting US troops in Iraq's Anbar

05 January 2022

A number of rockets have targeted the Ain al-Assad air base, which hosts US forces, in Iraq’s western province of al-Anbar.

Shafaq News cited a security source as saying that five rockets targeted Ain al-Assad air base on Wednesday evening.

Later in the day, the news website said the rockets landed near the air base.

According to the report, the attack activated the C-RAM missile system of the base.

An official within the US-led coalition told Reuters that five rockets landed near Ain al-Asad base, adding that the attack caused no casualties.

Reuters also cited Iraqi military officials as saying that the rounds fired were Katyusha rockets.

Ain al-Assad air base was targeted by two explosive-laden drones on Tuesday, but they were reportedly shot down by Iraqi air defenses as they approached the base.

The attacks come amid growing anti-US sentiments over Washington’s military and political adventurism in the region, and also at a time that coincides with the second martyrdom anniversary of Iran’s top anti-terror commander Lieutenant General Qassem Soleimani and his comrades in a US drone strike in Iraq in 2020.

General Soleimani, commander of the Quds Force of Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC), and his Iraqi comrade Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, the second-in-command of Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Units (PMU), were martyred along with their companions in a US drone strike authorized by former president Donald Trump near Baghdad International Airport on January 3, 2020.

Both commanders were highly revered across the Middle East because of their key role in fighting the Daesh Takfiri terrorist group in the region, particularly in Iraq and Syria.

Five days after the assassination, in a military operation codenamed Operation Martyr Soleimani, the IRGC launched a volley of ballistic missiles at the Ain al-Asad air base.

Iran said the missile strike was only a “first slap” in its process of taking “hard revenge” and that it would not rest until the US military leaves the Middle East in disgrace.

Back in January 2020, two days after the assassination, the Iraqi parliament passed a law requiring the Iraqi government to end the presence of the US-led foreign forces in the Arab country.

Since the assassination, Iraqi resistance forces have ramped up pressure on the US military to leave their country, targeting American bases and forces on numerous occasions, at one point pushing the Americans to ask them to “just leave us alone.”

Last year, Baghdad and Washington reached an agreement on ending the presence of all US combat troops in Iraq by the end of the year.

Source: Press TV

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Gen. Soleimani rushed to Iraq’s aid against Daesh at critical time: President Salih

05 January 2022

Iraq’s President Barham Salih says Iran’s top anti-terror commander General Qassem Soleimani rushed to the Arab country’s assistance at a critical time in the face of the Daesh Takfiri terrorist group.

Salih made the remarks on Wednesday at a ceremony held in Baghdad by Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Units (PMU) or Hashd al-Sha’abi, marking the second anniversary of the US assassination of General Soleimani and his Iraqi trenchmate Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, deputy PMU head, two influential figures in the counter-terrorism fight in the region.

"Today, we have gathered to pay tribute to the great victory leaders who confronted the terrorist Daesh. We proudly remember the victory over Daesh and the foiling of its ominous plot. We achieved a triumph over Daesh thanks to the fatwa of the [religious] authority and the support of Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani Sistani,” he said, referring to the religious decree by Iraq’s prominent Shia cleric in June 2014 that led to the establishment of the PMU.

“Along with our armed forces and citizens, Martyr Qassem Soleimani, the great Iranian commander, participated in the fight against Daesh and helped save our country from a dangerous terrorist campaign that had entangled us. He came to Iraq in difficult circumstances to defend the country, along with the children of Iraq, against Daesh terrorism,” he added.

In 2014, when Daesh unleashed its campaign of terror in Iraq, Iranian military advisers rushed to the aid of Iraqi armed forces on Baghdad’s request, helping them reverse Daesh’s gains and ultimately liberate their entire homeland from the US-sponsored terror outfit some three years later.

General Soleimani, the former commander of the Quds Force of Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC), played a key role in eliminating Daesh in the region.

However, angered by the senior general’s gains in the battle against Daesh, the US assassinated him upon his arrival at Baghdad International Airport on January 3, 2020 on an official visit to Iraq. The attack also killed the commander’s companions, including Muhandis.

Also in his speech, the Iraqi president underlined the need for resolving crises in the region and ending conflicts in order to prevent Daesh and other terrorist groups from wreaking havoc.

He further said that the new Iraqi government should be capable to meet the demands of the nation.

Gen. Soleimani was guest of Iraq: PMU head

PMU chief Falih al-Fayyadh also addressed the event, saying General Soleimani was “the guest of Iraq and the supporter of its people.”

He also noted that Washington’s assassination operation “must have consequences for the nature of military relations with the United States."

"We renew our allegiance and declare our loyalty with the martyred commanders. We will be an impenetrable barrier against terrorism and will work with the government to achieve our right to expel foreign forces from the country," Fayyadh stressed.

US crime will go down in history: PM

Meanwhile, Iraqi Interior Minister Othman al-Ghanmi read out a message sent by Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi to the ceremony.

“The crime of assassinating the commanders, who achieved victory against Daesh, would always remain alive in the history. The martyrdom of the commanders will be a beacon of freedom for all the people who wish for freedom and peace,” the message read.

“These commanders were the role model for every soldier who fought against Daesh terrorism. Their path of defeating terrorism will be continued.”

Commanders’ performance enlightens path towards freedom: Maliki

Meanwhile, former Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki said what the resistance commanders recorded in their counter-terrorism battle enlightens the path of all freedom-seeking countries that face terror.

Source: Press TV

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EU calls for restraint on all sides in Kazakhstan

Agnes Szucs



The European Union on Wednesday urged all sides in Kazakhstan to show restraint and responsibility amid rising social tensions over a huge increase in liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) prices.

“We call on all concerned to act with responsibility and restraint and to refrain from actions that could lead to a further escalation of violence,” Nabila Massrali, the spokeswoman for the European External Action Service, said in a written statement.

On one hand, the EU called on the Kazakh authorities to respect the fundamental right of peaceful protests and the principle of proportionality when they defend their legitimate security interests.

On the other hand, the bloc urged protesters to avoid violence while recognizing their right to peaceful demonstrations.

“The European Union encourages a peaceful resolution of the situation through inclusive dialogue with all stakeholders and respect for the fundamental rights of citizens,” the statement said, adding the bloc was closely following the developments in Kazakhstan.

Drivers in the city of Zhanaozen began demonstrating against the increase in LPG prices Sunday, which soon grew into mass protests throughout the country.

According to the Kazakh Interior Ministry, more than 200 people were arrested for disrupting public order after 37 police vehicles were damaged and 95 officers were injured during the protests.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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Diplomats scuffle at Afghan embassy in Rome

January 6, 2022

ROME: Police were called to Afghanistan’s embassy in Rome this week after a sacked Afghan diplomat claiming ties to the Taliban attacked the ambassador, the mission said.

Many of Afghanistan’s embassies are in diplomatic limbo, with staff still loyal to the Western-backed government toppled by the Taliban last August.

The Taliban have not appointed new representatives to most missions, however, and their government is not recognised by any nation.

In a statement published on social media on Tuesday, the Rome embassy said a diplomat — appointed by the former Afghan government but recently dismissed — returned to the mission earlier that day, claiming he had been named ambassador by the Taliban.

“Later he attacked the ambassador in the presence of an embassy employee but the ambassador defended himself and called the Italian police,” read the statement, written in the Dari language.

It named the dismissed diplomat as Mohammad Fahim Kashaf, saying he lost his job due to “lack of commitment to national values and the values of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan”.

Police escorted Kashaf — who had been with his child — out of the embassy, while the ambassador was unharmed, it said.

The Islamic Republic of Afghanistan is the United Nations-recognised name of the country, which the Taliban call the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan.

An Afghan diplomatic source said Kashaf had “switched loyalty” to the Taliban, and had been “beaten up” by his former colleagues.

The Rome embassy did not return a telephone call and email seeking comment.

Police in Rome said a “misunderstanding” had taken place at the embassy, but provided no further details.

The Taliban’s foreign ministry in Kabul denied Kashaf been appointed ambassador, but also said he had not been dismissed.

It said records showed Kashaf was appointed first secretary at the embassy in December 2020, with a contract valid until December next year.

Source: Dawn

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Kazakhstan's president fails to quell protests, 8 deaths reported

05 January ,2022

Protests around Kazakhstan have killed eight security personnel and injured 317, a news agency said on Wednesday, as President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev failed to quell public outrage over the influence of his powerful predecessor.

Initially angered by a New Year's Day fuel price rise, protesters have stormed and torched state buildings and chanted against Nursultan Nazarbayev, who kept wide authority despite stepping down as president in 2019 after nearly three decades.

Tokayev sacked him as head of the national Security Council on Wednesday while his Cabinet also resigned.

Russia's state-owned Sputnik news agency quoted the Kazakh interior ministry as saying the police and national guard troops were killed and injured in several regions on Tuesday and Wednesday during Kazakhstan's worst unrest in over a decade.

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Kazakhstan's reputation for stability under Nazarbayev helped attract hundreds of billions of dollars of foreign investment in its oil and metals industries. But political analysts said a younger generation was demanding the liberalization seen in other former Soviet states.

The protesters seized control of the airport in Almaty, Kazakhstan's biggest city, a source familiar with the matter told Reuters. All flights to and from Almaty were cancelled.

A witness told Reuters he could see protesters removing benches along Almaty's main Astana square to build barricades. Earlier, riot police used teargas and flash grenades against the protesters but then appeared to abandon some streets in Almaty.

Both the United States and Russia appealed for calm.

Nazarbayev's hand-chosen successor as president, Tokayev said in a national address that he had taken over as head of the State Security Committee, a post that had been retained by Nazarbayev.

The 81-year-old former president has still been widely seen as the main political force in Nur-Sultan, the purpose-built capital which bears his name. His family is believed to control much of the Kazakh economy, the largest in Central Asia.

In his TV address, Tokayev did not mention his predecessor by name. Nazarbayev has not been seen or heard from since the protests began.

Tokayev also removed Nazarbayev's nephew as No. 2 at the State Security Committee, successor to the Soviet-era KGB.

‘Complete anarchy’

A resident of Almaty who mingled with the protesters on Wednesday said most of those he met appeared to come from the city's impoverished outskirts or nearby villages and towns.

At the main square, vodka was being distributed and some people were discussing whether to head towards the city bazaar or a wealthy residential area for possible looting, the resident said.

“There is complete anarchy in the street. Police are nowhere to be seen,” he said.

Footage posted on the internet showed protesters chanting below a giant bronze statue of Nazarbayev, strung with ropes in an apparent attempt to pull it down. A woman who posted it to Twitter said it was filmed in the eastern city of Taldykorgan.

Earlier, an Instagram live stream by a Kazakh blogger had shown a fire blazing in the office of the Almaty mayor, with apparent gunshots audible. Videos posted online also showed the nearby prosecutor's office burning.

Early on Wednesday, Reuters journalists had seen thousands of protesters pressing towards Almaty city center, some of them on a large truck. The city's police chief said Almaty was under attack by “extremists and radicals”.

States of emergency were declared in Nur-Sultan, Almaty, and westerly Mangistau province. The internet was shut down in what monitoring site Netblocks called “a nation-scale internet blackout”.

In the city of Aqtobe, what appeared to be several hundred protesters gathered on a square shouting: “Old Man, go away!”. A video posted online showed police using water cannon and stun grenades against protesters near the mayor's office there.

After accepting the cabinet's resignation, Tokayev ordered acting ministers to reverse the fuel price rise, which doubled the cost of liquefied petroleum gas from the start of the year. The gas is widely used to power vehicles in Kazakhstan where official prices had made it much cheaper than gasoline.

The unrest saw the price of Kazakhstan's dollar bonds plunge by nearly 6 cents, the worst showing since the height of the market collapse of 2020 after the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The unrest was the worst in Kazakhstan at least since 2011, when at least 14 protesters were killed by police during a strike by oil workers in the western city of Zhanaozen.

“I think there is an underlying undercurrent of frustrations in Kazakhstan over the lack of democracy,” said Tim Ash, emerging market strategist at BlueBay Asset Management.

“Young, internet-savvy Kazakhs, especially in Almaty, likely want similar freedoms as Ukrainians, Georgians, Moldovans, Kyrgyz and Armenians, who have also vented their frustrations over the years with authoritarian regimes.”

The Kremlin said it expected Kazakhstan, a close ally of Russia, to quickly resolve its internal problems, warning other countries against interfering.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Kuwait's Jazeera Airways suspends Kazakhstan flights amid unrest

05 January ,2022

Kuwaiti budget carrier Jazeera Airways on Wednesday suspended flights to Kazakhstan's biggest city Almaty as violent protests against the government there continued across the country.

“We will provide an update on our operations when we have further information,” an airline spokesperson said by email.

The Gulf carrier typically operates weekly flights to Almaty, its only destination in the Central Asian country.

Lufthansa, Qatar Airways and flydubai, which operate regular flights to Kazakhstan, separately said they were monitoring events in the country.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Moscow-led alliance sends first troops to Kazakhstan: Statement

06 January ,2022

A Moscow-led military alliance said Thursday it had sent its first troops to Kazakhstan after its government requested help to quell mounting unrest.

“Peacekeeping forces of the Collective Security Treaty Organization were sent to the Republic of Kazakhstan for a limited time to stabilize and normalize the situation,” the CSTO secretariat said in a statement posted online by Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Blair's defense secretary says he was told to burn memo saying Iraq war may be illegal

Karim El-Bar  



Former British Defense Secretary Geoff Hoon, who was in office during the Iraq War, claimed he was told to burn a memo from the attorney general that said the invasion of Iraq could be illegal, local media reported Wednesday.

Hoon served as defense secretary between 1999 and 2003 under former Prime Minister Tony Blair. Iraq was invaded in 2003 by a coalition led mainly by the US and the UK.

Hoon made the claim in his recently published memoir See How They Run.

The Daily Mail was the first to report the story and said that then Chief of Defense Staff Mike Boyce wanted legal backing that British troops could fight in Iraq.

Hoon in turn received a “very long and very detailed opinion” from the attorney general that essentially said the invasion of Iraq could be seen as lawful if the prime minister believed it was in the UK’s national interest.

“It was not exactly the ringing endorsement that the chief of the defense staff was looking for, and in any event, I was not strictly allowed to show it to him or even discuss it with him,” Hoon wrote in his memoir.

“Moreover, when my principal private secretary, Peter Watkins, called Jonathan Powell in Downing St and asked what he should now do with the document, he was told in no uncertain terms that he should ‘burn it’.”

Hoon said he did not end up burning the document.

“I agreed that we should lock the document securely into an MoD safe to which only he had access. For all I know, it is probably still there.”

Separately, Powell, who was Blair’s chief of staff, denied to the Daily Mail that he demanded the legal advice be burned, instead saying he told Hoon to destroy a separate document from months earlier.

Blair was awarded a knighthood by the Queen in her New Year honor’s list – but over 700,000 people have signed a petition calling for it to be rescinded.

The petition on reads: “Tony Blair caused irreparable damage to both the constitution of the United Kingdom and to the very fabric of the nation’s society. He was personally responsible for causing the death of countless innocent, civilian lives and servicemen in various conflicts. For this alone he should be held accountable for war crimes.”

Source: Anadolu Agency

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