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Islamic World News ( 3 Jul 2019, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Shahi Imam of Fatehpuri Masjid, Delhi, Appeals to Muslims to Restore Temple after Clash over Parking Turns Communal

New Age Islam News Bureau

3 Jul 2019

Shahi Imam of Fatehpuri Masjid.


 Shahi Imam of Fatehpuri Masjid, Delhi, Appeals to Muslims to Restore Temple after Clash over Parking Turns Communal

 ‘Bangladesh Terror Outfit Using Bengal Madrassas to Radicalise Local Youths’

 US Designates Balochistan Liberation Army as Global Terrorist Group

 Pay Back 'Looted' Money and Leave Pakistan: PM Imran Khan to Zardari, Sharif

 PAS Deputy President Defends His Remarks That Declaring Assets Is Un-Islamic

 Iraqi Prime Minister Tries to Rein in Militias, and Their Grip on Economy

 Iran-Linked Hackers Said to Be Ready for Attacks on U.S. Targets

 Tired of War, Libyans Divided on What Kind of Leadership They Need

 UN Loophole on Terror Financing Is an Urgent Wake-Up Call: The World Deserves Answers



 Shahi Imam of Fatehpuri Masjid, Delhi, Appeals to Muslims to Restore Temple After Clash Over Parking Turns Communal

 ‘Bangladesh Terror Outfit Using Bengal Madrassas to Radicalise Local Youths’

 160 IS Supporters, Members Arrested Across Nation: Govt

 Hearing case on row between church factions, SC asks: Is Kerala above the law?

 Mission 2024? RSS Muslim Wing Opens Units across Telangana

 4 Arrested in Case of Weapons Supply to ISIS-Inspired Terror Group Gets Bail

 NIA summons Geelani’s son in terror funding case

 Islamist group vows to eliminate “dogs of Pakistan” from Jammu and Kashmir



 US Designates Balochistan Liberation Army as Global Terrorist Group

 Pay Back 'Looted' Money and Leave Pakistan: PM Imran Khan to Zardari, Sharif

 3 militants killed in police raid on planned terror attack in E. Pakistan

 3 al-Qaeda and TTP terrorists killed in Pakistan's Punjab

 Zardari interview taken off air, sparks censorship fears in Pakistan

 PML-N, PPP face repercussions for not ending NAB: Fazl

 National Assembly has 10 declared billionaires: ECP

 SJC holds brief hearing on references against two judges

 Indian pilgrims arrive in Hassanabdal for Ranjit Singh’s death anniversary

 Bajwa says Pakistan wants peace, integration in region

 Rana Sanaullah’s arrest is state terrorism: PML-N

 PML-N, PPP in trouble for not ending NAB: Fazl


Southeast Asia

 PAS Deputy President Defends His Remarks That Declaring Assets Is Un-Islamic

 More to Obtain Sharia Certification amid Halal Lifestyle Boom

 Islamic Bloc, an Outspoken Contingent at the U.N.H.R.C Challenged Over Its Silence on Uighurs

 Indonesia Arrests Suspected Leader of Terror Group Jemaah Islamiyah

 Philippine defense chief voices concern over suicide bombings in Philippines

 Indonesian Police Arrest Leader Of Network With Al-Qaeda Ties

 China says Erdogan offered support over restive Xinjiang

 Right-minded Catholics will not deliberately commit offensive acts: MUI

 Politics Will Determine Fate of Indonesian Islamic State Sympathizers in Syria


Arab World

 Iraqi Prime Minister Tries to Rein in Militias, and Their Grip on Economy

 Aleppo: Turkey, Ankara-Backed Militants Plundering Artifacts in Afrin

 Egypt Has Succeeded in Destroying Terror Infrastructure, Says Sisi

 France Plotting Against Syria by Supporting Kurdish Separatists

 Tahrir Al-Sham Terrorists Send Military Equipment to Hama, Lattakia to Confront Syrian Army

 Saudi Council of Ministers reiterates support for Palestinian refugees

 Syria says Israel strikes ‘state terrorism’

 UN expert urges ban on spy tech sales to Saudi Arabia over Khashoggi's murder

 Syria will support Iran against all threats, acts of aggression: President Assad

 Oman rejects claims it's establishing diplomatic relations with Israel



 Iran-Linked Hackers Said to Be Ready for Attacks on U.S. Targets

 Jewish Experience Of Genocide Helps Heal Victims Of Isis

 Erdogan Says People Live Happily In Xinjiang

 To Evade Sanctions on Iran, Ships Vanish in Plain Sight

 Nine injured in Houthi attack on Saudi Arabia’s Abha airport: Arab Coalition

 Iran Guards chief: We have closed the military path for the enemy

 Israel to open foreign ministry office in Oman, Mossad chief says

 Turkey slams UN over signing deal with US-backed SDF militants in Syria



 Tired of War, Libyans Divided on What Kind of Leadership They Need

 Sudan Protest Group Calls for Nationwide ‘Civil Disobedience’ On July 14

 40 dead, 80 injured in air strike on detention center for migrants in Libya

 Somalia: Troops Retake New Area from Al-Shabaab

 Militant attack on military camp in Niger kills 18



 UN Loophole on Terror Financing Is an Urgent Wake-Up Call: The World Deserves Answers

 A German Politician's Assassination Prompts New Fears about Far-Right Violence

 'Sworn allegiance to ISIS': Sydney men arrested over foiled terror plot

 Netherlands probes 'terrorist motive' in Utrecht shooting

 France warns Iran against further breaches of nuclear deal

 Turkey orders arrest of 122 military personnel over suspected Gulen links

 EU gravely concerned over Iran’s breach of nuclear deal


North America

 UN Investigator Calls For Spy Tech Sales Ban On Riyadh

 US senator demands probe into American weapons in Libya

 Trump says he is worried about terrorist attacks if U.S. troops leave Afghanistan

 Retd. US Army general spooks Trump out of attacking Iran: Politico

 Majority of voters back Trump's decision not to strike Iran: Poll


South Asia

 Six Killed, 51 Schoolchildren Injured In Taliban Attack On Kabul

 Easter blasts: Sri Lanka arrests ex-police chief, former defence secretary

 ANA Territorial Force seizes large cache of weapons, munitions of Taliban in Faryab

 Special Forces arrest irresponsible armed men in Kabul, seize their weapons, ammunition

 Special Forces kill Taliban’s shadow district Chief, his 9 fighters in Faryab

 Afghan gov't claims killing 151 militants in 24 hours

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau




Shahi Imam of Fatehpuri Masjid, Delhi, Appeals To Muslims To Restore Temple After Clash Over Parking Turns Communal

By Sameer

Jul 03, 2019

New Delhi: Shahi Imam of Fatehpuri Masjid, Mufti Mukarram appealed to the Muslims to restore the temple which was allegedly vandalized after a clash which broke out over parking. The temple is located in Hauz Qazi area of Chawri Bazar, old Delhi.

In a video message, he asked members of both the communities to sit and resolve the matter to restore peace in the area. He also appealed not to make it a political issue.

Condemning the communal incident, he said that the one who is responsible for the incident should be punished legally.

It may be mentioned that on Sunday night, a clash erupted over the parking of a scooty and quickly took a communal turn. Later, the temple was reportedly vandalized.

Police officials are scanning the CCTV footage to identify persons who were involved in the violence.

In order to restore peace in the area, members of both the communities met on Tuesday evening.

Jamshed Siddiqui, who was heading the Muslim community, said: “We have spoken to each other on the issue and decided that the Aman Committee would bear the expenses to renovate the vandalised temple.”

“We want peace in the area as it was earlier. We condemn the incident and the culprits, who have vandalised the temple, must be punished,” he added.



‘Bangladesh Terror Outfit Using Bengal Madrassas to Radicalise Local Youths’

Jul 3, 2019

NEW DELHI: Inputs with the Centre point to the Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB), declared as terrorist outfit only recently, using some madrasas in Burdwan and Murshidabad in West Bengal for radicalising and recruiting local youth for terror acti- vities, the home ministry told the Lok Sabha on Tuesday.

Junior home minister G Kishan Reddy, in written reply to a question, said inputs regarding JMB influence in madrasas had been shared with the state governments and agencies concerned, “with the advice to take appropriate action”. JMB is said to be behind the 2014 Burdwan blast and the blast in Bodh Gaya last year.



US designates Balochistan Liberation Army as global terrorist group

Naveed Siddiqui

July 02, 2019

The United States on Tuesday designated militants fighting Pakistani rule in Balochistan as terrorists after it carried out deadly attacks targeting Chinese interests.

The US State Department said it was classifying the Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA) as a global terrorist group, making it a crime for anyone in the US to assist the militants and freezing any US assets they may have.

Take a look: 'Attack on Chinese consulate in Karachi planned in Afghanistan with support of Indian agency'

The banned BLA “is an armed group that targets security forces and civilians, mainly in Baloch areas of Pakistan,” the State Department said in its designation.

The security forces have been fighting terrorists in Balochistan since 2004, with the militants recently finding a new focus in rallying against China's investment that is part of its major Belt and Road initiative.

The BLA has targeted Chinese nationals in Pakistan multiple times, including a brazen daylight attack on the Chinese consulate in Karachi that killed four people in November 2018.

In May, five people including a soldier were killed after gunmen stormed the only five-star hotel in Gwadar, the port city which Islamabad is hoping to develop into a major commercial hub.

Claiming responsibility for the hotel attack, the BLA warned China to stop its “exploitative projects in Balochistan” and threatened further attacks.

The US designation of the group comes despite vocal concerns by Washington over the Belt and Road initiative, with Washington accusing China of imposing debt traps on developing nations.

Following the US announcement, the Foreign Office (FO) issued a statement, taking note of the designation by the US administration.

"It is hoped that this designation will ensure that BLA’s space to operate is minimised," the statement read.

The FO pointed out that the BLA has been a proscribed entity in Pakistan since 2006.

"It is important that the perpetrators, organisers, financers and external sponsors including those glorifying these acts of terror against Pakistan are held accountable and brought to justice."



Pay back 'looted' money and leave Pakistan: PM Imran Khan to Zardari, Sharif

Jul 2, 2019

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan has declared that his government would not offer any amnesty to politicians like ex-president Asif Ali Zardari and premier Nawaz Sharif accused in corruption cases but if they returned the "looted money" under a plea bargain, they could leave the country.

Khan also revealed that the incarcerated former prime minister Sharif's sons tried to secure the release of their father with the help of "two friendly countries."

Khan did not reveal the names of the two countries but said they just conveyed him the message but did not press for Sharif's release.

"They told me that we will not interfere," said Khan, who was accompanied by the adviser on Finance, Hafeez Sheikh, and Federal Board of Revenue Chairman, Shabbar Zaidi.

Sharif, 69, has been serving a seven-year prison term at the Kot Lakhpat Jail in Lahore since December 24, 2018 when an accountability court convicted him in one of the three corruption cases filed in the wake of the apex court's July 28, 2017 order in the Panama Papers case.

Sharif and his family have denied any wrongdoing and allege that the corruption cases against them were politically motivated.

In May, the apex court rejected Sharif's review petition seeking bail on medical grounds and permission to go abroad for medical treatment.

Khan said that those convicted for corruption would not be allowed to go away until they gave back the stolen money.

"They need to return the country's money first then they can go anywhere they want," he said.

"If Nawaz (Sharif) wants to go abroad for his medical treatment then he should return the looted money first and if Asif Ali Zardari has such an issue he should return the money," Khan told ARYNewsTV on Monday.

"The NRO will not be offered," he said, referring to a deal similar to the National Reconciliation Ordinance issued by former dictator Pervez Musharraf, under which cases against a large number of politicians and political workers were dropped.

"Two NROs issued by Musharraf to [PML-N's 'supreme leader'] Nawaz Sharif and [PPP Co-Chairman] Asif Ali Zardari destroyed the country... Later, both of them also gave NROs to each other," Khan said.

The prime miniser added, "Money launderers are being kept as VIPs. I have asked the law ministry to shift them to a jail where regular prisoners are kept."

"A plea bargain can be allowed and no foreign country can do anything. They (Sharif and Zardari) will have to pay the money," he said.

Former president Zardari is in the custody of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) for his role in three corruption cases.

He has been named in a multi-million dollar money laundering case along with his sister Faryal Talpur.

According to the NAB, the duo made transactions of Rs 150 million through alleged fake bank accounts.

Khan also spoke about the economy and said that it would improve as the difficult time was over.

Khan said his government had spent $ 10 billion on debt servicing on loans taken by the previous governments.

"A comprehensive plan is being devised including new legislation to control smuggling and money laundering," he said.



PAS Deputy President Defends His Remarks That Declaring Assets Is Un-Islamic

2 Jul 2019

KUALA LUMPUR: PAS deputy president Datuk Tuan Ibrahim Tuan Man defended his remarks that it is un-Islamic to declare assets.

"I have checked the authenticity of the hadith and although there are differing views among the ulama, they accept it as an authentic hadith," he told reporters at Parliament lobby on Tuesday (July 2).

Despite differing views, he said that PAS only accepted the mainstream interpretation of the hadith.

He denied that PAS was using religion with regard to the issue and said the party only uses it as a guideline.

The only issue, he noted, was the manner in which it is being done.

"It is only a motion that does not require two-thirds majority votes.

"Why not make it a law instead of a motion?" he asked.

Tuan Ibrahim also defended PAS secretary-general Datuk Takiyuddin Hassan, who is Kota Baru MP, who said that he would be the first not to declare his assets.

"He merely said that as a challenge as the motion has no force of law to compel MPs to declare their assets," he added.

On Monday (July 1), Tuan Ibrahim claimed that Islam does not allow Muslims to publicly disclose their wealth as it could lead to security issues.

Dewan Rakyat passed a special motion on Monday (July 1) to compel all lawmakers to declare their assets, including those held by their spouses, children and trustees.

The motion by unanimous voice vote was passed after six hours of heated debates.

Opposition MPs voiced their disagreement over the motion and abstained from voting.

They argued that the asset declaration should be done by law and not through a motion in Parliament.



Iraqi Prime Minister Tries to Rein in Militias, and Their Grip on Economy

By Alissa J. Rubin and Falih Hassan

July 1, 2019

Iraq’s prime minister issued an order on Monday to rein in armed groups known as popular mobilization forces in an effort to curtail their growing influence over some of the economy and their control of checkpoints in some provinces.

Because some of the armed groups have ties to Iran, Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi has been under pressure to move against them from the United States and some Arab countries that fear Iranian influence in Iraq.

In March 2018, Mr. Mahdi’s predecessor, Haider al-Abadi, tried to chip away at the militias’ independence by formally making them part of the country’s security forces. But they have remained largely independent.

Mr. Mahdi’s decree restated Mr. al-Abadi’s order and went further by ordering the militias to leave their local military headquarters and shut down their so-called economic offices.

It is uncertain how Mr. Mahdi plans to enforce the order, or even whether he can. He has set a tight deadline for the militias to comply: July 31.

The decree was welcomed by many of the popular mobilization groups, including some of the largest and most powerful. The Peace Brigades, which are attached to Moktada al-Sadr, the influential Shiite cleric, said they were already putting the new rules in place.

“From today we have dismantled the Peace Brigades and they are now disconnected from Moktada al-Sadr,” said Safa’a al-Tamimi, the brigade’s spokesman. “From now on we will be known as Brigade 313, 314 and 315. We are giving up the name ‘Peace Brigades’ — although we love this name — but we will go with the procedures and we will be under the control of the prime minister.”

Behind the official language, Mr. Mahdi is trying to address a multifaceted problem that has plagued Iraq since the Islamic State began to seize Iraqi territory in 2014. That prompted the formation of informal armed groups to help fight the extremists. Some of those groups were initially fostered, financed and backed by Iran, but they soon multiplied, and many had little or no connection to Tehran.

The United States has become increasingly suspicious about the role of the militias and has designated two of them — Qutab al Hezbollah and Qutab al Nujaba — as foreign terrorist organizations. When Secretary of State Mike Pompeo visited Iraq in June, he raised concerns that some of the Iranian-linked groups posed a threat to American forces in Iraq.

Officials who work closely with Mr. Mahdi said he had issued his order to curtail the armed groups’ power under pressure from the United States.

The groups will remain under the direct control of the prime minister rather than being integrated fully into the Ministry of Defense or the Interior Ministry, which controls the police.

After Prime Minister al-Abadi tried last year to gain more influence over the militias’ leadership and reduce their power, their numbers actually expanded. There are now about 30 armed groups with a total of about 130,000 to 150,000 members.

The order issued Monday says that the groups must close their local headquarters and their economic offices, as well as the checkpoints they control.

Establishing control over the groups has been difficult, because when they came to the defense of the country as the Islamic State had the Iraqi army on the run in 2014, they achieved the status of heroes.

When the fight against ISIS subsided, the militias showed little inclination to disarm and go home.

With fewer extremists to fight, the groups began to branch out, making money by using their checkpoints to extort truckers.

In some provinces, their economic offices became involved in existing businesses. In Nineveh, for example, two or three popular mobilization groups took over the scrap metal business for a time, making millions of dollars until they were shut down by the Iraqi government.

That type of activity has been deeply resented by local business people, who view some of the groups as behaving like homegrown mafias.



Iran-Linked Hackers Said to Be Ready for Attacks on U.S. Targets


JULY 1, 2019

Amid an intensifying standoff between Washington and Tehran, hackers linked to Iran have in recent weeks stepped up their operations in cyberspace in what appear to be preparations for possible attacks on U.S. businesses, according to American security firms and government officials.

The increased Iranian activity in cyberspace comes as Tehran announced on Monday that its stockpiles of low-enriched uranium have exceeded limits established in the 2015 nuclear agreement inked by Iran and world powers. The announcement sets the stage for renewed confrontation between Iran and the United States, which may well play out online as Washington and Tehran attempt to inflict pain on one another.

For observers of cyberconflict, Iran’s preparations for an attack represent the possible beginning of a new phase in cyberwarfare, in which countries trade tit-for-tat attacks in cyberspace.

Late last month, President Donald Trump canceled a planned strike on Iran intended to retaliate for the shootdown of a U.S. drone near Iranian airspace. With the American attack projected to kill 150 Iranians—which the president said would not be “proportionate”—Trump found a ready, less bloody option by striking back at Iran through cyberspace. Those attacks reportedly targeted Iran’s intelligence units behind the tanker attacks and knocked command and control systems for the country’s missile systems offline.

Projecting power through cyberspace is now a method of statecraft, but it usually involves one country striking another rather than a skirmish. “We’ve never really seen a back-and-forth between two countries,” said Sergio Caltagirone, the vice president of threat intelligence at the cybersecurity firm Dragos and a veteran of the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA).

Should Iran strike back against the United States, “we are seeing the dawn of cyberwar,” Caltagirone said.

Iran has retaliated against the United States in cyberspace before, striking the oil giant Saudi Aramco in 2012 in an apparent retaliation for an American cyberoperation aimed at damaging Iran’s nuclear infrastructure. But recent Iranian preparations raise the prospect of more immediate, fast-paced exchanges, and U.S. cybersecurity firms have in recent weeks observed the escalating Iranian activity with alarm.

Beginning the week of June 11, around the time of the first of a pair of attacks on ships in the Gulf of Oman that U.S. officials have blamed on Iran, Iran-linked hackers began targeting energy and financial companies in an attempt to establish access on their networks.

The attacks relied on spearphishing, the use of a targeted email to get a user to click on a link to download malware or give up his or her credentials, and password spraying, a type of brute-force attack in which a hacker tries a number of different passwords to gain access to an account.

“It was wide and loud and against the U.S., which we hadn’t seen them do in 2019,” said Ben Read, the senior manager for cyber-espionage analysis at the security firm FireEye.

The Iranian attempts to gain access to the computer systems of key American firms has also caught the attention of the U.S. government, which is warning U.S. businesses to be on guard.

“When you combine this increase with past destructive attacks launched by Iranian-linked actors, we’re concerned enough about the potential for new destructive attacks to continue sounding the alarm,” Christopher Krebs, the head of the Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, said in a statement to Foreign Policy.

With relations between the United States and Iran balanced on a knife’s edge, Iranian operatives are doing the work necessary to be able to digitally strike at the United States, researcher say. In the past two to three months, the cybersecurity firm Recorded Future has observed the registration of more than 1,200 command and control domains linked to Iran, more than 700 of which are active.

“What we are seeing is preparation of the environment for attacks,” said Priscilla Moriuchi, another NSA veteran and the director of strategic threat development at Recorded Future.

Analysts caution that these preparations do not imply that Iran is planning to carry out destructive cyberattacks against the United States. They could also be preparation for espionage. Companies may already have been breached but may not be aware of it yet.

Cybersecurity researchers say the most recent destructive attack linked to Iran occurred in December, when the country’s operatives struck the Italian petrochemical firm Saipem. That attack immobilized between 300 and 400 company computers and was carried out using a variant of the Shamoon malware, which was used in the 2012 attack on Saudi Aramco.

But cyberattacks cannot be carried out at the drop of a hat and require access to sensitive systems in order to succeed. The flurry of activity in recent weeks may indicate that Iran was ill-prepared for conflict with the United States and that recent rounds of escalation have left commanders in Tehran searching for new ways to strike at Washington.

Where these preparatory operations will take Iran remains unclear, and Caltagirone describes Tehran’s actions as an attempt to catch up to U.S. capabilities against Iran.

“We are waiting and watching,” Caltagirone said. “Fundamentally the ball is in the Iranians’ court right now.”



Tired of War, Libyans Divided on What Kind of Leadership They Need

By Heather Murdock

July 1, 2019

GHARYAN, LIBYA - The day after the battle for the Libyan town of Gharyan, burnt-out cars were flipped on the side of the highway and only a few shop owners opened their doors to see if they could do business.

Local farmers picked through bombs dropped from drones the night before.

"This is the third bomb that dropped last night," said Ossama, pointing to a broken shell outside a suburban compound Friday. "People are still afraid."

Last week's battle could be a turning point in the war surrounding the Libyan capital, Tripoli, which has largely been a bloody stalemate, according to soldiers fighting for Tripoli's western forces. Supply lines for the eastern forces that first attacked three months ago have now been cut, they say.

Eastern forces have vowed to continue the fight, threatening both Tripoli forces and their international allies. On Monday, eastern forces threatened further airstrikes, including Tripoli's airport.

For both sides, this not a just a battle for one city, it is a fight for the heart and future of Libya. If western forces win, Libya can remain divided and return to slowly making efforts to reunite through diplomacy and elections. If eastern forces win, it could usher in a new era for Libyan strongmen.

At a market in central Tripoli, shop owners say the city has become more crowded, tense and poor since this latest war began. More than 650 people have been killed in three months of fighting, and more than 94,000 have fled their homes.

Sellers in the market are divided on what kind of leadership they want, but united in their exhaustion after eight years of wars, economic turmoil and national divisions.

"We are scared and surrounded," said Abdullah, 50, who runs a small shoe store with his cousin, Mohammed. "But the war is out of our hands. We wanted a peaceful solution, but now, I don't know."

The divide

Libya has been functioning essentially under two governments for roughly five years: the internationally recognized government in the west known as the Government of National Accord, and the eastern government, lead by Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar, a strongman heading the Libyan National Army.

The war began in early April, when Haftar declared he would take the western capital Tripoli by force, and unite the country under the LNA. Forces loyal to the GNA have been repelling attacks ever since, and neither side has shown any sign of giving up.

Gharyan, the strategic town re-captured by the GNA last week, is about 80 kilometers (50 miles) south of Tripoli. Haftar's forces took the town as the assault began in April, using it to launch attacks on the Tripoli suburbs. 

At the market in Tripoli, some sellers say the idea of a single man leading the country is ultimately a good idea. Life was easier before the 2011 ouster and death of dictator Muammar Gadhafi, according to Mohammad, 43, selling shoes in the Tripoli market with his cousin.

"Everything was more stable and secure," he said, quickly adding that he was not expressing support for any particular leader. A few blocks away in Tripoli's central Martyr's Square, banners of Haftar's picture hang, stamped with the word "wanted."

But in the beaten-down town center of Gharyan, Saddam Abdul-Gheni Ghazowi says he fought for freedom against Gadhafi, and will continue to fight. When Haftar's forces came to town, he fled his home and his job in an oil field to join the GNA forces.

"I left home because I wanted to be ready to liberate my town," he said. "And we'll keep fighting until Haftar is gone."

Complex loyalties

While many Libyans are squarely in support of either the GNA or the LNA, loyalties in Libya and among their international allies are not divided along simple lines. Tribal loyalties run deep among the Libyan public, and local leaders often command more authority than the leaders running the eastern and western governments. 

Tripoli's forces are backed by the United Nations, but Haftar's forces have their own allies in Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia. Turkey, Italy and Britain have all shown support for the GNA, with Haftar's forces threatening Turkish interests in Libya after their defeat in Gharyan.

But even international alliances are not clear-cut. For example, the United States officially supports the GNA and the peace process. But in April, more than a week after Haftar's assault on Tripoli began, U.S. President Donald Trump called Haftar on the phone to discuss "a shared vision" for Libya. The State Department later affirmed U.S. support for Tripoli.

In Zintan, a town in the mountains southwest of Gharyan, two children of an officer played in a parking lot storing tanks and other heavy weapons on Thursday evening. Essam Abdullah, a GNA soldier, said he fought with Haftar when they were fighting extremist militants for Libya's oil fields, which hold the largest reserves in Africa and the 9th largest in the world.

Abdullah left Haftar's forces to fight with Tripoli when the leader's rhetoric expanded his definition of "extremist militant" to include established military groups in the west that are not affiliated with extremist ideologies.

"We fought to take our oil fields back from terrorists," Abdullah said. "We thought he was building a new army for Libya. But it turns out he was building a new army for himself."



UN loophole on terror financing is an urgent wake-up call: The world deserves answers


The Wall Street Journal recently reported that blacklisted al Qaeda and Islamic State terrorists and their supporters are able to tap their bank accounts despite a U.N. asset freeze.

According to the WSJ, amongst those who had banking facilities was Khalifa al-Subaiy, a Qatari financier who the U.S. says long provided financial support to senior al Qaeda leadership, including Sept. 11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. The WSJ said that documents it reviewed showed al-Subaiy had an account with Qatar National Bank. The WSJ attributed this to what it called “loopholes” in United Nations sanctions procedures.

The revelations in the WSJ should serve as a wake-up to Europe and the rest of the civilized world. For someone to make it to the UN sanctions list is not an easy achievement. Al-Subaiy is someone well known to the authorities, including, supposedly, banks. He was associated with the most dangerous of terrorists, responsible for the 9/11 terrorist attacks, that changed the face of the world. As he is on the UN sanctions list, he is not the sort of person who can be given the benefit of the doubt and certainly not the sort of person who deserves leniency.

Affording al-Subaiy banking facilities is a collective failure of all those involved. The United Nations’ ability to enforce its own sanctions list is very much under the spot light. In addition, Qatar needs to explain to the world why it has allowed such a dangerous person to continue having banking services. Of equal importance is the responsibility of the banks that provided such facilities for him.

Opening bank accounts has become a very tedious endeavour even for the most average of citizens. Banks conduct very strict due diligence on account holders to ensure the bank does not become inadvertently a vehicle for malicious financing activities. Whilst the failure of states in enforcing UN sanctions is something for the international community and international courts to deal with, banking regulators also need to act.

The bank that the WSJ said al-Subaiy used has branches across Europe and around the world. It can only be assumed that al-Subaiy had through this extensive global banking network, access to those countries in which banks he uses operate. This not only makes a mockery of the United Nations, it also endangers global security. Banks should no longer be allowed to hide behind loopholes, particularly when it comes to terrorism financing.

It is impossible to assess the potential harm that has been caused without an extensive and transparent investigation. It is therefore of extreme urgency that the relevant authorities conduct the following:

First, the United Nations needs to investigate why loopholes in its own procedures allowed this breach.

Second, Qatar needs to conduct its own investigations and report to the international community why it has allowed an individual on the UN sanctions list to have banking facilities through its most global bank, and give reassurances that he — and other terrorists — are not afforded banking facilities.

Third, Qatar National Bank needs to conduct its own investigation on the matter and offer to law enforcement authorities around the world, particularly where the bank operates, details of transactions carried out by the individual named in the WSJ investigation, and give reassurances that others who may also be on the list are not being provided banking facilities.

Fourth, banking regulators in countries where the bank operates should conduct their own investigations on why this failure happened and employ urgent remedial measures both to ensure any potential damage done is mitigated and that no such potential breaches take place.

If the WSJ investigation proves to be correct, it a clear collective failure of the sort that endangers global security. Such failures can cost lives.

Terror financing is the backbone of the ecosystem that allows terrorism to flourish. Europe and the rest of the world need urgent answers that such failures not only will not happen again, but that they will carry heavy consequences against those who turn a blind eye on our collective prosperity as a human race.





160 IS supporters, members arrested across nation: Govt

By Younus

Jul 02, 2019

New Delhi: So far 160 members and supporters of banned terrorist organization Islamic State(IS) have been picked up across the nation and are put behind bars informed Union Minister of State for Home G Kishan Reddy to Lok Sabha today.

The intelligence inputs on terror threats are regularly shared with the state governments and agencies concerned along with monitoring them for appropriate steps taken to prevent any untoward incident the minister said, TT reports.

“The National Investigation Agency (NIA) and the states police have registered cases against IS members and sympathisers and have arrested 160 accused so far all over the country,” he replied to a written question.



Hearing case on row between church factions, SC asks: Is Kerala above the law?

July 3, 2019

The Supreme Court on Tuesday lashed out at the Kerala Chief Secretary over a dispute between two church factions and asked whether the state was “above the law”.

“Enough is enough…. Is Kerala above the law? We can’t tolerate this any more. Tell your client that he is already in contempt…. We will call your Chief Secretary and send him to jail directly from here,” Justice Arun Mishra, heading a bench with Justice M R Shah, told senior advocate Jaideep Gupta, representing the state.

The issue relates to the more than a century-old row between the Orthodox and Jacobite factions of the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church over administration of various churches in its fold and its properties.

A Supreme Court bench headed by Justice Mishra had, in July 2017, delivered a judgment upholding the rights of the Orthodox faction.

Following the verdict, the Orthodox faction approached the Kerala High Court seeking police protection to enter and conduct worship rituals in a few churches. The HC disposed of the plea with a direction to provide security if the circumstances demanded it.

The Orthodox faction approached the apex court against the HC order.

The Orthodox church has alleged that the state has failed to provide security to conduct worship in the churches, which angered the apex court.

Full report at:



Mission 2024? RSS Muslim wing opens units across Telangana

Jul 3, 2019

Hyderabad: At a time when the BJP is trying to consolidate its presence in Telangana, RSS’s Muslim arm – the Muslim Rashtriya Manch – has for the first time opened district units across the state. The Manch had opened its office in Hyderabad about four years ago with just two members. Today, its office-bearers claim that they have about 3,000 members in Hyderabad. They are now targeting 10,000 members across the state by the end of this year. The Manch will also be opening offices in Andhra Pradesh next month.

Unfolding its Mission 2024 plan, RSS has lined up a series of programmes to connect with Muslims in the two Telugu states.

Senior RSS leader and MRM patron Indresh Kumar even addressed a meeting in the city on Sunday. He is expected to visit Telangana again later this month while Andhra Pradesh is on his itinerary for next month.

In 2010, Kumar had been questioned by the CBI in the Mecca Masjid blast of 2007. The RSS leader had consistently maintained that he was being falsely implicated in the case as part of a political controversy.

Though RSS has been holding interactive sessions with Muslims through MRM in north India, it is the first time that it has focused its attention on minorities in the two Telugu states. The MRM headquarters for Telangana and AP is located in Afzalgunj in Hyderabad and its area of operation is mainly in Hyderabad Lok Sabha constituency, which has been represented by Asaduddin Owaisi’s AIMIM for over three decades.

At Sunday’s meeting held in Old City, considered an MIM citadel, a couple of Muslim religious scholars, including Moulana Shaik Moinuddin Shah Qadri rubbed shoulders with Kumar. Though the meeting raised many an eyebrow and invited criticism from local Muslim leaders, MRM state convener M A Sattar told TOI that the response to the meeting addressed by ‘bhai saheb’ (Indresh Kumar) was “tremendous and unexpected”. RSS leader from Nagpur Virag Pachpore was also present.

“The fear about RSS should end. Muslims should listen to the RSS to know its stand on minorities,” said MRM state co-convener Syed Fayazuddin. “We will enrol more Muslims,” Sattar said adding, “This is an achievement as the meeting was held in the Old City.”

During the meeting, Kumar quoted verses from the Holy Quran to drive home his argument that no religion teaches terrorism and linking terrorism with Muslims was wrong. He also quoted Prophet Muhammad saying that the love for motherland is part of Islamic faith. Kumar told the Muslim gathering that the BJP government is committed to the welfare of Muslims.

Moulana Moinuddin Shah Qadri, unmindful of the flak he got from some community elders for attending the MRM meeting, said that his interaction with Indresh Kumar helped him clear the misunderstanding he had about the RSS and the BJP.

Fayazuddin said the immediate task of the MRM is to increase the membership in the Telugu states to at least 10,000 over the next few months. “Now that district committees have been formed in Telangana and proposed in AP, it is only a matter of time that the MRM would emerge as a formidable force in AP and Telangana in general and Hyderabad in particular,” he said.

BJP minority cell spokesperson Firasat Ali Baqri said the RSS had convened the meeting for the Id Milap. “The BJP had organised Iftar during Ramzan and now the RSS arranged Id Milap. This is to foster brotherhood in the country,” he said.

Full report at:



4 Arrested in Case of Weapons Supply to ISIS-Inspired Terror Group Gets Bail

July 2, 2019

New Delhi: A Delhi court on Tuesday granted bail to four persons arrested for allegedly providing weapons to members of a suspected ISIS-inspired terrorist group busted after a multi-city swoop.

Special Judge Rakesh Syal enlarged Zaid Malik, Mohammed Azam, Raees Ahmad and Mohammed Irshad on bail on a personal bond of Rs 70,000 with two sureties of like amount.

Advocate MS Khan, appearing for the accused, argued that no charge sheet has been filed against his clients despite passage of mandatory period of 90 days and hence they are liable to be released on bail.

The accused were arrested after raids in Delhi and Uttar Pradesh at six places in Amroha, two in Lucknow, two in Hapur and two in Meerut.

The agency said it had recovered 25kg explosive materials potassium nitrate, ammonium nitrate and sulphur after the raids.

The ISIS-inspired group 'Harkat ul Harb e Islam', which loosely translates into war for the cause of Islam, allegedly had purchased remote control cars and wireless doorbells to use their circuits in assembling remote-controlled improvised explosive devices.

Full report at:



NIA summons Geelani’s son in terror funding case

Jul 2, 2019

SRINAGAR: National Investigation Agency (NIA) has summoned the grandson of prominent separatist leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani for questioning in a terror funding case.

This is the second time that Anees-ul-Islam, whose father Altaf Ahmad Shah is in judicial custody in Tihar jail in the same case, has been summoned by NIA for interrogation.

Islam, who is the son of Geelani’s eldest daughter, was in news for his appointment as research officer at the Sher-e-Kashmir International Convention Complex (SKICC) in 2017 by the then Mehbooba Mufti government allegedly in violation of the recruitment policy rules.



Islamist group vows to eliminate “dogs of Pakistan” from Jammu and Kashmir

July 3, 2019

Although Indian media are projecting the emergence of a third force in Jammu and Kashmir as “a militant outfit linked to Islamic State”, which recently has reportedly declared a war on pro-Pakistan Hizbul Mujahideen and Lashkar-e-Taiba by vowing to eliminate what it called “dogs of Pakistan” – the fact is rather just the opposite.

According to Indian media, in Kashmir, a new battle has begun that is being fought in the courtyards of the people. But unlike in the early 90s, this time, the war will be televised.

The infighting between militant groups has left the entire Valley in shock. Every day, particularly in the restive southern Kashmir, militants are raiding each other’s locations, according to Telegram channels of the warring groups.

Indian media further said, quoting Islamic State’s Hind (Indian) Province (ISHP), “Our hands will feel no weakness in slaying these enemies of Islam. They have unleashed a reign of terror in last 30 years and by the will of God their end is nearing”.

It said, the ISHP statement added, referring to the militancy groups named Hizbul Mujahedin and Lashkar-e-Taiba.

The trigger for the first of its kind internal fighting between Kashmiri militants was the killing of a local militant, Adil Dass, who was earlier affiliated with the LeT and had switched over to the IS-affiliated group.

He was lured, according to police, by the opposite group and told to lead the prayers somewhere in Sirhama village of Bijbehera in South Kashmir’s Anantnag district.

Militants of one group asked him to lead the prayers, said an IS militant in a video, “When he finished the prayer they fired a volley of bullets on him. We will not leave these murtadas (apostates).”

The militants of pro-IS groups consider the Hurriyat leadership, including Syed Ali Shah Geelani as an apostate and so is Syed Salahuddin, the head of United Jihad Council based in Pakistan. They call Reyaz Naikoo, the chief of Hizbul Mujahideen in Kashmir Valley, Reyaz Nalaikoo, (Reyaz Useless). Even Zakir Musa, the man who floated pro-IS ideology in Kashmir, is a good man for them, but a “fool”.

In a statement that surfaced on social networking sites linked to the IS, the group — Islamic State (Province in India) — called Hizbul Mujahideen and Lashkar militants a group of apostates and blamed them for drawing the “first blood” in Kashmir.

Full report at:





3 militants killed in police raid on planned terror attack in E. Pakistan


ISLAMABAD, July 1 (Xinhua) -- Police in Gujrat district of Pakistan's east Punjab province foiled a terror plot on Monday by gunning down three alleged militants of a proscribed organization, local reports said.

The Counter Terrorism Department (CTD) of police raided a compound on an intelligence tip-off regarding presence of six suspected militants who were planning a terrorist attack in the province, local Urdu TV channel ARY News reported.

Three militants were killed after a tough resistance, while their three accomplices managed to flee from the site. A search operation to nab the escaped militants has been kicked off.

The killed terrorists were trained by Pakistani Taliban and were involved in various terrorist activities, including attacks on Pakistan Air Force base, Police Training School, and several attacks on check posts.

Police recovered arms, ammunition and maps of sensitive buildings of the province from the militants' compound.

Security forces have intensified operation against militants recently across the country. More than a dozen militants have been killed and arrested during various search operations over the last two weeks.

The current crackdown against militants associated with banned outfits is said to be in line with the decisions made during a meeting of the country's National Security Committee (NSC) in January this year.



3 al-Qaeda and TTP terrorists killed in Pakistan's Punjab

Jul 2, 2019

LAHORE: Three terrorists of Al-Qaeda and Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) were killed by the security forces during a raid in Pakistan's Punjab province.

According to the Crime Investigation Department of the Punjab police, an intelligence-based operation was launched in Tibbi Bhosa village, some 200-km from Lahore, on Monday on information that some six terrorists hiding there were planning to attack the offices of the intelligence agencies.

The CTD said it along with police besieged the area and challenged the terrorists to surrender. Instead they opened fire on the police which was returned. As a result three terrorists were killed and as many managed to escape taking advantage of darkness.

The CTD said three terrorists killed in the shootout are identified as Tayab Jamil alias Baba, Bilal alias Abdul Raheem and Nadir alias Abdullah. It said the terrorists' names were mentioned in the Red Book belonging to Al-Qaeda and TTP.

A Kalashnikov, a rocket, a pistol, explosives, cash and maps of sensitive places have been recovered from the scene.

Full report at:



Zardari interview taken off air, sparks censorship fears in Pakistan

Mehmal Sarfraz

JULY 02, 2019

On Saturday, journalist Hamid Mir interviewed former President and co-chairman of the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), Asif Ali Zardari, in Parliament House in Islamabad. The interview was to be aired at 8 pm on Geo News on Monday.

The interview went on air but after a few minutes, it was taken off air without any explanation. Mr. Mir tweeted: “Interview of Asif Zardari stopped on Geo News within few minutes.. those who stopped it have no courage to accept publicly that they stopped it.”

The incident started a debate on Twitter about media censorship in Pakistan and whether someone who is under arrest should be interviewed in the first place. Mr. Zardari is under arrest and being investigated for corruption, including a fake bank accounts case, by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB).

Mr. Mir told The Hindu that Mr. Zardari came to Parliament on a production order (with permission to attend a Parliament session), so there is nothing illegal about the interview. “Asif Zardari spoke to other journalists also but he gave me exclusive time separately. We broke the story the same day (Saturday). We ran the promo for the next two days, but finally when the interview started, it was stopped by Geo.”

Mr. Mir added that he was told by Geo that they were under pressure but they only announced ‘this interview cannot be broadcast today’. “I announced on Twitter that it was stopped from outside.”

Probe against Khan

Mr. Mir said Mr. Zardari mentioned about some investigation against Prime Minister Imran Khan in the U.K. “Maybe that’s what bothered the government.”

Federal Minister for Maritime Affairs Ali Haider Zaidi of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) believes this interview should have never been done in the first place. “How can we interview criminals arrested for money laundering? Will we interview someone arrested on drug possession charges? We have to draw the line somewhere,” Mr. Zaidi told The Hindu.

Senator Mustafa Nawaz Khokhar, a spokesperson of PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari, told The Hindu that this government believes in censorship like no other political party in Pakistan’s history.

“When they can even ban harmless, innocent words in Parliament, they can ban anything and everything. Under what law they asked Geo News to take off an important interview? He hasn’t been convicted of anything. This government is scared of the truth coming out and their lies being exposed. This is a shameless government.”

Former Prime Minister and senior leader of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) Shahid Khaqan Abbasi told The Hindu that “suppression of alternative viewpoints and dissent never works, not even in martial law regimes. We supposedly have democratic rule in Pakistan.”

Full report at:



PML-N, PPP face repercussions for not ending NAB: Fazl

Jul 02 2019

ISLAMABAD: The Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (Fazl) leader Maulana Fazl ur Rehman said on Tuesday that the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz and Pakistan Peoples Party are facing repercussions for not terminating the constitutional mandate of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB).

"I told both the parties to dismantle NAB but they didn't, today they are facing the repercussions of it," said the JUI-F leader while speaking in Geo News show Capital Talk.

The JUI-F leader said that all decisions were made with consensus in the All Parties Conference, including changing Senate Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani. "I am sure PML-N and PPP will have insight over how to change the chairman. We have to organise the members to put a motion of no confidence."

Fazl said that all members have been finalised for the opposition's Rehbar Committe.

Full report at:



National Assembly has 10 declared billionaires: ECP

Iftikhar A. Khan

July 03, 2019

ISLAMABAD: As many as 10 out of the total 342 members of the National Assembly have declared that they own assets worth over a billion rupees, according to a statement of assets held by MNAs for year 2008 released by the Election Commission of Pakistan on Tuesday.

They include four members from the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI), two from its ally Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid — both sons of the Chaudhrys of Gujrat — two from the PML-N and one each from Pakistan Peoples Party and Awami National Party.

According to the statement of assets and liabilities of the MNAs, Ihsan Bajwa, PML-N MNA from Bahawalnagar, is the richest among the lawmakers having total assets worth more than Rs3 billion, excluding liabilities of Rs1.18bn in the UAE. He has huge business capital of Rs56.4 million dirhams, nine houses and one building in the UAE. The value of his agricultural property in Pakistan comes to Rs249.5m. He also owns commercial and residential properties valuing Rs92.5m.

Arbab Umar Amir Ayub, PTI MNA from NA-28 (Peshawar), owns assets the worth of which comes to over 2.56bn. He owns 28 properties including plots and poultry farms valuing Rs2.41bn and holds Rs12.49m in seven bank accounts.

Chaudhry Salik Hussain of the PML-Q, son of former prime minister Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain, is also on the list, with the worth of his assets put at Rs1.60bn. He holds millions of shares in different industrial groups and Rs410m in bank accounts.

PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari too is on the list of declared billionaires having assets worth Rs1.54bn — most of which are abroad.

He holds over two dozen movable and immovable assets and has extended loans of over Rs1.24bn to four companies out of the money he inherited from his mother Benazir Bhutto. Mr Bhutto-Zardari has shares in two villas in Dubai, one of which is located at Jumairah.

He has also declared owning 10 sets of jewellery and ornaments and seven watches among his assets in Dubai, gifted to him by his mother, but has not mentioned their value.

Najib Haroon, PTI’s MNA from NA-256 (Karachi), owns assets of Rs1.54bn. He has business capital of Rs1.34bn and properties worth Rs68.17m. He has Rs36.21m cash in hand and banks and owns four vehicles valuing Rs42.39m.

In addition, one of his wives, Hamida Najib Haroon, owns an apartment in Dubai valued at Rs17.43m and a 1,000 square yards house in DHA Karachi, current market value of which has been shown to be Rs7m. His other spouse Naheed Najib Haroon has a 500 square yards house in a different phase of DHA Karachi.

PML-Q MNA from NA-69 (Gujrat) Moonis Elahi, son of Punjab Assembly Speaker Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi, owns assets worth Rs1.43bn.

Full report at:



SJC holds brief hearing on references against two judges

Nasir Iqbal

July 03, 2019

ISLAMABAD: As the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC) held a brief hearing on the references against two superior court judges here on Tuesday, lawyers described Justice Qazi Faez Isa as the Nelson Mandela of the judiciary for his struggle for the rights of Balochistan.

“Therefore, the judiciary should exercise extreme caution while dealing with the judge lest it should commit discrimination,” warned Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) president Amanullah Kanrani.

The SJC met for a brief period — between 10 and 15 minutes. Attorney General Anwar Mansoor did not appear before the council, unlike the first hearing, as he was not on notice. It is believed that the two judges also did not appear, though they furnished their replies rebutting the allegations levelled against them in the presidential references.

A five-judge SJC consisting of Chief Justice of Pakistan Asif Saeed Khosa, Justice Gulzar Ahmed, Justice Sheikh Azmat Saeed, Sindh High Court Chief Justice Ahmed Ali M. Shaikh and Peshawar High Court Chief Justice Waqar Ahmed Seth is hearing the references against Justice Faez Isa of the Supreme Court and Justice K.K. Agha of the Sindh High Court for allegedly possessing properties in the United Kingdom.

The SJC after a preliminary hearing on June 14 had decided to share documents with the judges and directed them to volunteer and clarify their position on the allegations levelled in the complaint against them. However, none of the judges had been issued any formal show-cause notice under the Supreme Judicial Council Procedure of Enquiry 2005.

Though the leaders of lawyers and representatives of different bar associations wearing black armbands kept on chanting slogans against the filing of the references and also showed complete unity among them, their number visibly came down from the June 14 protest demonstration. They, however, remained seated inside and outside the Supreme Court building to express solidarity with Justice Isa and Justice Agha.

That was the reason why Pakistan Bar Council (PBC) vice chairman Syed Amjad Shah announced launching an awareness campaign throughout the country to muster support for a full-fledged movement for the sake of the independence of the judiciary. He said a number of conventions would be held in different cities of the country, the first being on July 13 at the Peshawar High Court.

“We have given SJC ample opportunity to decide the fate of the references,” he said, adding that time had come that a forceful movement be launched to prevent attempts to push the country towards darkness.

The PBC also circulated signatures of 54 representatives of different bar associations agreeing on the decision taken at a meeting of the action committee of lawyers of the PBC and SCBA. The PBC said the lawyers’ bodies had taken serious notice of attempts on the part of the government to divide the legal fraternity by luring or harassing the representatives of different bodies of lawyers and vowed to brave such challenges with full force.

On the other hand, the SCBA also constituted a 10-member coordination committee under its president Kanrani as convener to interact with the representative bodies of lawyers across the country to make the proposed movement a success.

Senior counsel Hamid Khan, who yields considerable influence among lawyers and represents the Professional Group, warned that the judiciary would have to pay heavily if any discrimination was committed against Justice Isa, emphasising that the independence of judiciary rested on the independence of lawyers.

Mr Khan later told reporters that there was a possibility that the SJC might ask the two judges to appear before it again on some date to explain in person what justification they had to oppose the contents of the references.

Amjad Shah regretted that despite a demand no information had been disseminated so far about the fate of 400 references the SJC was seized with, adding that it was obligatory under Section 13(2) of the SJC rules to make public the proceedings of the council on different references.

He was also critical of Monday’s proceedings of the judicial commission which had recommended elevation of five individuals as additional judges of the Peshawar High Court despite the fact that the representatives of lawyers’ bodies had expressed concern before the commission about the competence and integrity of the candidates.

“Our representatives had even produced evidence to establish what we were objecting to,” he said, adding that such development had created doubts about the SJC proceedings against the two judges.

Mr Shah was of the opinion that different sections of society, including parliament and civil society, needed independence of the judiciary more than the judiciary itself and, therefore, they should participate in “our movement in large number”.

Amanullah Kanrani said Justice Isa had become a standard of independence in the eyes of the public who perceived him as the most honest and competent judge.

The meeting of the PBC action committee stressed the need for putting more impetus on the lawyers’ movement and said the entire lawyers’ community considered these references as mala fide that had put a question mark on the integrity of the country.

Meanwhile, the lawyers, except a part of the legal fraternity, observed on Tuesday a strike across the country on the call of the PBC to protest the filing of references against the two superior court judges.

Full report at:



Indian pilgrims arrive in Hassanabdal for Ranjit Singh’s death anniversary

July 03, 2019

TAXILA: A total of 482 pilgrims have arrived at Gurdwara Punja Sahib from India on Tuesday for a three-day pilgrimage to mark the 180th death anniversary of Maharaja Ranjit Singh.

Maharaja Ranjit Singh (Nov 13 1780 – June 20 1839) was a 19th century ruler of Punjab and the first maharaja of the Sikh Empire. He belonged to a Sikh claim from northern India and was born in Gujranwala, in what is now Pakistan, into a Jatt Sikh family.

The pilgrims were welcomed by officials from the Evacuee Trust Property Board (ETPB), the Pakistan Sikh Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee and the local administration.

Speaking to the press, the leader of the Indian pilgrims Sardar Gurumeet Singh said that Indian Sikhs were thankful to the Pakistani government for providing them the maximum number of visas.

“Pakistan is sacred for us and we love it, and we come here with a message of peace and brotherhood,” he said.

Sardar Roop Singh from the Shriomani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee in India said: “There should be cordial relations between India and Pakistan so that we have ease in getting visas to visit our holy sites here in Pakistan.”

He said Sikh pilgrims consider Pakistan a second homeland, as some of their holiest sites are located here. He said the Pakistani government has always been welcoming and has taken good care of Sikh holy sites, which was why the country and its people are so dear to Sikhs. He also praised the arrangements made by the ETPB.

A number of other pilgrims also told the press they felt overwhelmed by the respect, hospitality and love shown to them by the people of Pakistan and the authorities.

Sardar Vinindar Singh, from Amritsar, said Pakistan is very important to Sikhs because this is where Guru Nanak Dev was born and died.

Sardar Ballinder Singh thanked the government for making good arrangements for them, and for providing them with security and keeping their sacred sites in good condition. He said the people of Pakistan and especially of Lahore are loving and caring.

ETPB Deputy Secretary Shrines Imran Gondal told the press that pilgrims have been provided all the necessary facilities, including foolproof security.

“As per the 1974 bilateral protocol between Islamabad and New Delhi, the Pakistani High Commissioner in India has issued visas between June 21 and June 30,” he said.

The issuance of pilgrimage visas is in line with the government’s efforts to promote visits to religious sites and people-to-people contact, he said, adding that it also reflects the government’s commitment to implementing the bilateral Protocol on Visits to Religious Shrines.

Full report at:



Bajwa says Pakistan wants peace, integration in region

Jul 03, 2019

RAWALPINDI: Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa on Tuesday said Pakistan wants peace and integration in the region as it does not believe in zero-sum games.

He said this while meeting with General Oleg Salyukov, the commander in chief of Russian ground forces at the General Headquarters (GHQ) in Rawalpindi on Tuesday, as per a statement issued by the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR).

During the meeting, the army chief said that military cooperation between Pakistan and Russia will not only help in improving peace and stability in the region, but also usher economic prosperity.

Both sides discussed matters concerning enhanced security and training cooperation and measures to further expand joint military ties between the two armies were discussed, it added.

The visiting dignitary appreciated Pakistan Army’s professionalism and achievements in war against terrorism. He said that the world should appreciate more what Pakistan has achieved, said the statement, adding that Russia desired to forge strong and broad-based relations with Pakistan.

Earlier, on arrival at GHQ, the Russian army chief laid floral wreath at Yadgar-e-Shuhada. A contingent of Pakistan Army presented the guard of honour to the visiting dignitary.


France’s Secretary-General for National Defence and Security Claire Landais also called on General Bajwa.

According to the Inter-Services Public Relations’ (ISPR) press release, “matters of mutual interest including defence and security cooperation and overall regional security situation were discussed” during the meeting.

Full report at:



Rana Sanaullah’s arrest is state terrorism: PML-N

Hassaan Ahmed

JULY 3, 2019

The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) on Tuesday called the arrest of its Punjab President Rana Sanaullah an act of “state terrorism”, with Opposition Leader in National Assembly accusing Prime Minister Imran Khan of being the masterminding attacks on opposition.

Talking to the media at his residence in Model Town Lahore after chairing a meeting of the parliamentary working group of the PML-N, which was called to devise a strategy after the arrest of Rana Sanaullah by the Anti-Narcotics Force (ANF), Shehbaz said the premier was the ‘informant’ in the case, who got Sanaullah arrested by leveling false allegation of heroin trafficking against him.

The meeting of parliamentary working group deliberated upon the post-arrest situation, and it was decided that the production order of Rana Sanaullah would also be demanded from the National Assembly speaker for the session.

The meeting was also attended by former premier Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, PML-N Secretary General Ahsan Iqbal, Information Secretary Marriyum Aurangzeb, senior parliamentarian Rana Tanveer and Deputy Secretary General Attaullah Tarrar.

“The arrest of Rana Sanaullah is the worst kind of cruelty and injustice by Imran Khan Niazi,” said Shehbaz, talking to the media. He further added that Sanaullah worked with him as a law minister for 10 years in Punjab and had ordered conducting numerous raids at the dens of drug peddlers, and now “Niazi” got him arrested by leveling false allegation of selling heroin.

“Niazi is using such tactics against the PML-N because we are standing with the poor in this time of inflation and we raised our voices against the budget that was meant to kill the farmers, traders, students, orphans and widows,” he added. “We all are ready to go to jails if inflation can be controlled through such tactics… We’ll not budge from raising voice for the poor,” Shehbaz said. He also announced that Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and Ahsan Iqbal would be the PML-N’s members for the newly formed Rehbar Committee constituted after the recently held all parties conference (APC) to craft a joint strategy against the government.

When asked whether things had started going against the PML-N when one of his party leaders (Maryam Nawaz) rejected the Charter of Economy while terming it as the ‘Joke of Economy’, Shehbaz said that everyone, including him, was bound to obey the party discipline and there was only one leader in the party – Nawaz Sharif. “The Charter of Economy will be meant only for the people of Pakistan,” he added.

Talking about the PML-N MPAs who recently held a meeting with the prime minister, he said that the notices had been sent to those MPAs and a committee was constituted to ask them about the reasons behind their meetings. “The man who used to give lectures against horse-trading is now himself involved in the same horse-trading,” Shehbaz said.

Full report at:



PML-N, PPP in trouble for not ending NAB: Fazl

JULY 3, 2019

Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (Fazl) chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman said on Tuesday that the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz and Pakistan People’s Party were facing the consequences of not terminating the constitutional mandate of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB). “I told both the parties to dismantle NAB, but they didn’t. Today they are facing the repercussions of it,” said the JUI-F leader while talking to a private TV channel. The JUI-F leader said that all decisions were made with consensus in the All Parties Conference, including changing Senate Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani. “I am sure PML-N and PPP will have insight over how to change the chairman. We have to organise the members to put a motion of no confidence.” Fazl said that all members had been finalised for the opposition’s Rehbar Committee. “The PML-N wants me to chair the Rehbar Committee as I headed the APC but I won’t have any issues if Yousuf Raza Gillani heads it,” the JUI-F leader said. “The opposition just a week after general elections agreed that the polls were rigged.”



Southeast Asia


More to obtain sharia certification amid halal lifestyle boom

Ardila Syakriah

July 2, 2019

Demand for sharia certification is on the rise as businesses, including hospitals, adjust to the Islamic lifestyle increasingly being adopted by Muslims in Indonesia, an official at the National Sharia Board of the Indonesian Ulema Council (DSN-MUI) has said. The head of DSN-MUI's sharia business and economy department, Moch. Bukhori Muslim, said that at least 10 hospitals were in the process of obtaining sharia certification as Muslims increasingly want services and products aligned with Islamic principles. "There is increasing demand from people who want to adopt the halal lifestyle, so there should be [authorities] who set up the standards. According to Kyai [religious teacher] Ma'ruf Amin, our sharia standards for hospitals are the foremost in the world," Bukhori told The Jakarta Post recently, quoting the vice-president-elect who is also chairm...



Islamic Bloc, an Outspoken Contingent at the U.N.H.R.C Challenged Over Its Silence on Uighurs

By Patrick Goodenough

July 3, 2019

( – The bloc of Islamic nations is an outspoken contingent at the U.N. Human Rights Council but was challenged there this week for its silence about the plight of at least one million minority Muslims in detention camps in China’s Xinjiang region.

“If they truly care about Muslims, and for their religious freedoms, why has Pakistan and the Islamic group failed to introduce a single resolution” about China’s persecution of Muslims, asked Hillel Neuer, executive director of U.N. Watch, a non-governmental organization.

The target of his remarks, the 57-member Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), wields considerable influence at the Geneva-based HRC. The council has 47 members, and the OIC has accounted for no fewer than 13 of them – and as many as 18 – in any one year of the council’s 14-year existence.

This year, OIC countries make up 15 (31.9 percent) of the 47 members. (They are Afghanistan, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Egypt, Iraq, Nigeria, Pakistan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Somalia, Togo, and Tunisia.)

With Pakistan generally at the helm, the Islamic states have helped to guide the agenda, and are largely responsible for the HRC’s disproportionate targeting of Israel, and a controversial push to outlaw “defamation” of religion.

Communist China’s treatment of ethnic Uighurs and other minority Muslims in Xinjiang, however, has drawn little public attention from the OIC.

Neuer began his statement by naming five countries identified in the latest U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) annual report as egregious religious freedom violators.

“As documented therein, I wish to list five of the world’s worst violators of religious freedom: China, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Nigeria, Eritrea,” he said.

“Second, I will now list five members who sit here on this U.N. Human Rights Council: China, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Nigeria, and Eritrea.”

Neuer pointed out that the HRC is charged with protecting rights including religious freedom, “as guaranteed under article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.”

He also reminded the council that, under its 2006 founding charter, members have the duty to “uphold the highest standards in the promotion and protection of human rights.”

“So, we’d like to know: Why has there never been a single resolution for religious minorities oppressed by council members like Pakistan and Saudi Arabia?” Neuer asked.

He then noted that Pakistan had spoken earlier in the day, on behalf of the OIC.

“They spoke of Islamophobia and of criticism of religion,” Neuer recalled. “Yet if they truly care about Muslims, and for their religious freedoms, why has Pakistan and the Islamic group failed to introduce a single resolution, a single urgent session, a single commission of inquiry for one million Muslims currently being detained in camps and persecuted because of their religion – by China?”

‘Commends the efforts of … China in providing care to its Muslim citizens’

The mass incarceration of Muslims in camps in Xinjiang has drawn growing international alarm over the past year.

In a statement a month ago, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo accused the Communist Party leadership of “methodically attempting to strangle Uighur culture and stamp out the Islamic faith, including through the detention of more than one million members of Muslim minority groups” in Xinjiang.

The OIC, however, has been largely silent.

OIC leaders held a summit in Mecca in May, and numerous other situations around the world did feature, neither a 19-page communique nor a four-page final declaration mentioned China, Xinjiang or Uighurs.

Two months earlier, OIC foreign ministers met in Abu Dhabi, and issued a 3,200-word declaration which, again, did not raise the issue.

In a separate document on resolutions relating to Muslims in non-Muslim countries, the ministers did include one paragraph on China. It said the OIC “commends the efforts of the People’s Republic of China in providing care to its Muslim citizens; and looks forward to further cooperation between the OIC and the People’s Republic of China.”

The OIC secretariat in Jeddah issues statements regularly on a range of issues affecting Muslims, but in a search on its website, the most recent statement voicing concern for Uighurs was issued in June 2015.

China is the leading trading partner of at least 20 of the 57 OIC members. Pakistan historically an ally of China, is a key partner in Beijing’s massive infrastructure program known as the Belt-and-Road initiative.

Uighurs are an ethnic Turkic group, and one Islamic state that has raised the issue in Geneva is Turkey.

“We encourage Chinese authorities and expect that universal human rights, including freedom of religion, are respected and full protection of the cultural identities of the Uighurs and other Muslims is ensured,” Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said at the HRC in February. He did not mention the detention camps.

On Tuesday, however, after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan met with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Beijing, Chinese state media quoted Erdogan as expressing understanding for Chinese policies in Xinjiang.

“Erdogan said that Turkey firmly supports the one-China policy, and that it is a fact that the people of all ethnicities in Xinjiang are leading a happy life amid China's development and prosperity,” China Daily reported.

In their reports on Erdogan’s visit, neither Turkey’s state news agency nor Erdogan’s official website mentioned the topic.

China portrays the camps as re-education and training facilities that have helped to de-radicalize the Muslim population.

Full report at:



Indonesia arrests suspected leader of terror group Jemaah Islamiyah

By Niniek Karmini

July 2, 2019

Jakarta: Indonesian police have arrested a man believed to be the leader of the al-Qaida-linked Jemaah Islamiyah network who has eluded capture since 2003, authorities say.

National Police spokesman Dedi Prasetyo said Para Wijayanto was arrested Saturday by counterterrorism police with his wife at a hotel in the Jakarta satellite city of Bekasi.

Prasetyo said Wijayanto is suspected of being involved in the making of bombs used in a series of attacks, including the 2002 Bali bombings that killed 202 people and a 2004 attack on the Australian Embassy in Jakarta, Indonesia's capital, that killed nine.

He said Wijayanto, a civil engineer who received military training at a jihadi camp in the southern Philippines in 2000, was also involved in the sectarian conflict in Poso, known as a hotbed of Islamic militancy on Indonesia's Sulawesi island.

Since 2013, Wijayanto also has recruited and trained members of Jemaah Islamiyah's military wing, sending some to Syria to fight with extremist groups, according to Prasetyo.

"He was appointed as amir [leader] of Jemaah Islamiyah because of his capability and track record as an Islamic fighter," he said.

A convicted militant who now collaborates with Indonesia's counterterrorism agency, Sofyan Tsauri, said Wijayanto became leader of Jemaah Islamiyah in 2007, replacing another militant, Zarkasih, who was arrested and sentenced to 15 years in prison.

Jemaah Islamiyah was banned by an Indonesian court in 2008. It was significantly weakened but not obliterated by a sustained crackdown on militants by Indonesia's counterterrorism police with US and Australian support.

"In fact, Jemaah Islamiyah never vanished," said Tsauri.

Islamic State group attacks abroad have inspired a new generation of Indonesian militants despite the sustained crackdown on extremists.

Full report at:



Philippine defense chief voices concern over suicide bombings in Philippines


MANILA, July 1 (Xinhua) -- Philippine Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana voiced concern on Monday over the frequency of suicide bomb attacks in the Philippines.

Lorenzana said the twin bombing attacks, committed in broad daylight at an army camp in Indanan, a town in Sulu province in the southern Philippines Friday last week, was "obviously a suicide bombing" and has raised the level of extremism in the Philippines.

The twin attacks, carried out by two motorcycle riding suicide bombers, left seven killed, including three soldiers, and 22 others injured.

Lorenzana said the incident was the third suicide attack in the Philippines. "This is the third one so it's becoming an occurrence and we are very much concerned about this," he said.

The first suicide bomb attack was recorded on July 31, 2018 when a powerful bomb exploded in a van the troops were inspecting at a military checkpoint in Lamitan, a city in the island province of Basilan. A soldier, five militiamen, four villagers and the driver of the van were killed in that incident.

Lorenzana said at the time that the bomb-laden van driven by the lone Moroccan terror suspect was intended for a planned "feeding program" in the city's plaza that will be participated in by 4,000 children.

The second suicide bombing attack happened on Jan. 27 this year. At least 27 people were killed and many more injured as a result of the bomb attacks at a Roman Catholic cathedral on the remote Jolo Island in Sulu province. Authorities said Indonesian suicide bombers carried out that attack.

"I believe this (the June 28 bombings) has changed, this has raised the level of extremism here and I think we have a lot of work to do," Lorenzana said.

On the reports that the Islamic State militants have claimed responsibility for the June 28 attacks in Indanan, Sulu, Lorenzana said the military is checking that information, including reports that the attacks were again carried out by Indonesians.

Full report at:



Indonesian police arrest leader of network with al-Qaeda ties

JULY 2, 2019

JAKARTA (Reuters) - Indonesian police have arrested the leader of the Jemaah Islamiyah militant network linked to al-Qaeda, authorities said on Tuesday, on suspicion of recruiting members and sending them to Syria to train with extremist groups.

Counter-terrorism police also arrested at least four other suspects linked to Para Wijayanto, who experts say was a student of Abu Bakar Bashir, the alleged mastermind of the 2002 Bali bombings that killed more than 200 people.

Wijayanto, who had been on the run since 2003 and had trained with militants in the southern Philippines, was arrested with his wife on Saturday on the outskirts of Jakarta, the capital.

Police said Wijayanto owned palm oil plantations on Sumatra and Borneo islands, which he used to pay some JI members up to 15 million rupiah ($1,061) a month.

“That money was also used to recruit and send people to Syria,” national police spokesman Dedi Prasetyo told Reuters.

Indonesia’s elite counter-terrorism squad, Densus 88, was created in the wake of the 2002 Bali bombings to quash JI and similar groups in the world’s largest Muslim-majority country.

Security forces were seen as being successful in breaking up militant networks after key figures like Bashir were rounded up and jailed.

Bashir, who is considered the spiritual leader of JI, denied involvement in the Bali bombings. He was convicted in 2010 under anti-terrorism laws for links to militant training camps in Aceh province and jailed for 15 years.

Concerns have risen in recent years about a resurgence in homegrown militancy and terrorism financing.

“There are still many JI members, and after the fall of Osama bin Laden, they became sleeper cells,” said Stanislaus Riyanta, a terrorism analyst based in Jakarta.

“The fall of Islamic State may have left a gap for JI to rise again,” he added.

Indonesia scrambled to tighten its anti-terrorism laws after a series of suicide bombings killed more than 30 people in the East Java city of Surabaya last year.

Full report at:



China says Erdogan offered support over restive Xinjiang

July 3, 2019

BEIJING: Turkey recognises the fact that the people of China’s Xinjiang lead happy lives, Chinese state media on Tuesday cited Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan as saying, a region where China has been running a controversial de-radicalisation scheme.

China has faced growing international opprobrium for setting up what it calls vocation training centres to combat extremism in Xinjiang, home to the mostly Muslim Uighur people who speak a Turkic language, which many Western countries view as internment camps.

Turkey is the only Muslim nation to have regularly expressed concern about the situation in Xinjiang, including in February at the UN Human Rights Council, to China’s anger.

But meeting Chinese President Xi Jinping in Beijing, Erdogan struck a more positive note, according to a Chinese state media read out of the event.

“It is a fact that the peoples of China’s Xinjiang region live happily in China’s development and prosperity,” state television paraphrased Erdogan as saying.

“Turkey does not permit any person to incite disharmony in the Turkey-China relationship. Turkey firmly opposes extremism and is willing to increase mutual political trust with China and strengthen security cooperation.”

Xi told Erdogan that the two countries should take practical steps to promote counter-terror cooperation, the report added.

China appreciates Erdogan’s numerous comments saying that he will not permit “any forces to carry out anti-China activities in Turkey and attaches great store on Turkey stressing many times its support of China fighting terrorism”, Xi added.

Hundreds have died in unrest in recent years in Xinjiang, blamed by Beijing on Islamist extremists and separatists.

Full report at:



Right-minded Catholics will not deliberately commit offensive acts: MUI

July 2, 2019

In response to the blasphemy charge against a middle-aged woman identified only as SM who entered a mosque in Bogor, West Java, with a dog on Sunday, the Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI) officially stated that such an action would only be considered blasphemous had it been done intentionally by a person of sound mind.

“It would only be considered blasphemous if it were done by a sane person. However, if the person who did such a thing turned out to be mentally ill, it’s an entirely different story,” MUI deputy chairman Yunahar Ilyas said on Tuesday, adding that the MUI was not sure whether SM was of sound mind.

He said he would wait for official police confirmation regarding SM’s mental health.

SM was detained by the Bogor Police and charged under Article 156 of the Criminal Code on blasphemy.

Bogor Police spokesperson Adj. Comr. Ita Puspita Lena said SM’s family had provided letters from two hospitals stating that SM had a history of mental illness.

The police will verify the hospitals’ statements, Ita said.

SM, 52, caused a stir on social media over the weekend when a video of her entering a mosque in Sentul with a dog went viral.

Police said that SM entered the Al Munawaroh Mosque in Babakan Madang district at around 2 p.m. on Sunday, saying that she was looking for her husband.

Many Muslims consider dogs to be unclean or impure, particularly their saliva, and most try their best to avoid contact with canine saliva.

“In Islam, keeping a dog as a pet is allowed for security and hunting purposes, as long as the owner is able to keep their house clean,” Yunahar added.

In the video, SM appeared to be involved in a brief altercation with a group of people who had asked her to leave the premises.

She resisted, saying that she was Catholic and accused the mosque of hosting her Muslim husband’s wedding with another woman.

Yunahar called on the public to stop sharing the video on social media and refrain from adding provocative captions.

Full report at:



Politics Will Determine Fate of Indonesian Islamic State Sympathizers in Syria

JULY 02, 2019

Jakarta. Thousands of Islamic State sympathizers from Indonesia currently in Syria may wish they had the opportunity to vote for the right candidates in the April 17 election, as the decision whether to allow them to return now rests on a political compromise between parties in the House of Representatives.

"The decision is currently being discussed by the various factions in the legislature, because we know that this isn't only about repatriating someone with a different mindset," Commissioner General Suhardi Alius, head of the National Counterterrorism Agency (BNPT), said on Monday, as quoted by Antara.

The government has grappled with the dilemma of repatriating supporters of the international terrorist group since its defeat earlier this year. Under Indonesian law, they remain citizens because they did not swear allegiance to any recognized state.

On the other hand, returnees from Syria could bring back extremist ideas, or worse, the skills and means to carry out terror attacks in the country. About a year ago, a family of six who spent time in Syria, attacked two churches in Surabaya, East Java.

On a practical level, Indonesian Islamic State sympathizers mostly do not have official identity documents as they burned whatever they had when joining the radical group, making it difficult for the government to confirm their identity.

According to reports, there are thousands of Indonesian citizens, mostly women and children, among the families of Islamic State fighters sheltering in Al Hol camp in eastern Syria. Many of them wish for the government to arrange their return.

Full report at:



Arab World


Aleppo: Turkey, Ankara-Backed Militants Plundering Artifacts in Afrin

Jul 03, 2019

The Kurdish-language Hawar News website quoted local sources in Afrin as saying that the Turkish Army and its allied militants in overnight excavations have plundered the archeological works on the hills of the town of Kamrouk in Mobata region in Afrin in Northwestern Aleppo.

The sources noted that the Turkish Army and its allied militants transfer the stolen artifacts from different regions of Afrin to Turkey.

Meantime, the Ankara-backed terrorists still continue their killings and plundering of civilians' properties and they also abduct people to blackmail their families. 

In a relevant development in April, the Kurdish-language media reported that the Turkish Army had strengthened its military positions in areas under its control in Afrin and set up another military base for Jeish al-Islam terrorists there.

The Kurdish-language Hawar News quoted local sources in Afrin as saying that the Ankara Army is presently setting up 3-meter walls in the surrounding areas of its command centers in the villages of Afrin region, specially in the villages bordering al-Shahba region.

The report pointed to an attempt by the Turkish Army to destroy people's houses, administrative buildings, schools and water reservoirs North of Jalbareh village in Shirwa, and said that the occupying army intends to set a new military base in the same region.

Meantime, informed sources reported that the Turkish troops are establishing a command center and a camp for Jeish al-Islam terrorists near Kawa al-Haddad Square.

They also said that the Jeish al-Islam terrorists are meant to use the camp for training their militants.



Egypt Has Succeeded in Destroying Terror Infrastructure, Says Sisi

1 July, 2019

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi said Sunday that his country has succeeded in destroying the infrastructure of terrorist organizations six years after the June 30 revolution that toppled former president Mohamed Morsi.

The Muslim-Brotherhood affiliate was deposed on July 3, 2013, following widespread popular protests against his one-year rule. He died during his trial on June 17.

In an address to the nation on the sixth anniversary of the June 30 revolt, Sisi said it wasn’t but a cry to express the patriotism of millions of Egyptians, which have been embraced by their country and their ancestors over the years.

“The loyalty of Egyptians to their country and their rejection of any attempt to erase their national identity are facts that can’t be changed with time,” Sisi noted.

He said that his people are loyal, and their belonging to their nation and identity marks a priority.

“Masses of Egyptians in the June 30 Revolution marked a path for us to walk through,” Sisi said, noting that their priority is to protect and preserve the country and then improve it in order for Egypt to become a developed nation that provides next generations decent opportunities and a life that is compatible with the 21st century.

He pointed out that over the past years, the country has managed to avoid suffering from chaos, fragmentation and conflicts.

“We have managed to destroy the infrastructure of terrorist organizations that tried to weaken the country.”

Sisi said Egypt had launched Comprehensive Operation – Sinai 2018, in which bloods were shed to eliminate “forces of evil and darkness.”

“Our armed forces and police personnel succeeded in protecting the nation and preserving its dignity until Egypt became a hub for stability, security and peace amid a turbulent regional environment,” Sisi said.

He pledged to maintain Egypt’s security in order to build a nation worthy for the next generations.

Full report at:



France Plotting Against Syria by Supporting Kurdish Separatists

Jul 02, 2019

The Arabic-language al-Watan newspaper reported that Syria's Democratic Council affiliated to the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) has held workshop in Paris on June 29-30 in line with increasing the provocative measures of France against Syria and in support of the Kurdish guerillas' separatist goals.

The daily pointed to the presence of the members of the Syrian Democratic Council, including Riyadh Darar who is head of the council, Head of the public relations of Syria's self-ruled entity Jahad Omar and other representatives of independent currents in the workshop, and said that participants in the workshop discussed issues such as autonomy of the Kurds in Northern and Northeastern Syria.

The Western and Arab states have recently augmented their support for Kurdish separatists in Eastern and Northeastern Syria, resulting in Kurish reluctance in talks with Damascus.

In a relevant development last month, Western officials intensified attempts to speed up the moves underway by the Kurdish guerrilla to decompose Syria through increased visits and helps to the regions occupied by the SDF.

The Arabic-language al-Watan newspaper reported that Australian Envoy John Phillip entered the town of Qamishli in line with attempts to support the Kurds' separatist moves and held a meeting with Abdulkarim Omer, the head of the Foreign Relations Commission in the Jazeera region, and his deputy Abir Ilia.

It also quoted the Kurdish sources as saying that a delegation of the Kurdish autonomous forces held a meeting with Special Envoy to Syria Geir Pedersen, UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash, Norwegian Foreign Minister Marie Eriksen and US Envoy to anti-ISIL Coalition Brett McGurk in Oslo on June 18 and 19.

Meantime, the Kurdish forces formed military councils in the three occupied towns of Ain al-Arab, Tal Abyadh and al-Tabaqah to strengthen their military structure in Eastern Euphrates region after a US-Saudi delegation visited Eastern Syria.

Also, Mazloum Abdi, the SDF spokesman, claimed on Saturday that Damascus should recognize the local autonomous system, including the general department of the Northern and Eastern Syria, as well as the SDF and its full responsibility in the security and military issues in the autonomous regions.

Media reports said earlier this month that American and Saudi diplomatic delegations held a meeting with the SDF commanders and a number of tribal leaders in a Washington-occupied base in Deir Ezzur in a bid to coordinate a plan for the separation of Eastern Euphrates from Syria.

The Arabic-language Step news website affiliated to the militants reported that recently a meeting was held between the two sides in al-Omar oilfield region in Eastern Deir Ezzur.

It added that Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Joel Rayburn, former US Ambassador to Bahrain William V. Roebuck and Thamer al-Sabhan participated in a meeting with Qassan al-Yousef and Leili al-Hassan, the co-chairs of Deir Ezzur civil administration, noting that the event was meant do coordination for supporting the SDF-occupied regions against any possible threat and political and economic support for the SDF in Northern and Northeastern Syria.

According to the report, another meeting was also held between the Arab and US delegations and a number of tribal leaders of Deir Ezzur in al-Omar base to remove differences between the tribes and the SDF and discuss financial and logistical support for the Eastern Euphrates region.

Meantime, the Arabic-language Xeber 24 news website reported that al-Sabhan conveyed a message from Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on his full support for militants in Northeastern Syria.

Full report at:



Tahrir Al-Sham Terrorists Send Military Equipment to Hama, Lattakia to Confront Syrian Army

Jul 02, 2019

The pro-militant sources said that Tahrir al-Sham terrorists have dispatched tens of military vehicles and militants to the battlefronts in Northern Lattakia and Sahl al-Ghab in Northwestern Hama (in the demilitarized zone) with the aim of confronting the Russian and Syrian troops.

Meantime, the Arabic-language al-Watan newspaper reported that the Syrian Air Force pounded the military positions and movements of the terrorist groups in the towns of al-Zuka, al-Latamineh and Kafar Zita in Northern Hama and Ma'areh Hormeh, Sheikh Mustafa, al-Rakaya, Karsaeh, Kafar Sanjeh, al-Baredeh, Ma'ar Zita and Khan Sheikhoun in Southern Idlib, destroying a number of the terrorists' military positions as well as killing and injuring tens of them.

The Syrian Army's artillery and missile units also pounded the terrorists' military positions around Kafar Nubl, al-Naqir and Abedin in Southern Idlib, destroying several of their military vehicles.

It was for the third consecutive day that Tahrir al-Sham and other terrorist groups hit the Syrian Army's military positions in the towns of al-Hawiz and al-Karkat in Western Hama with rockets.

In a relevant development on Monday, the Syrian Army's ground and air forces conducted a series of operations against the military positions and movements of Tahrir al-Sham al-Hay'at in Northern Hama and Southern Idlib, destroying several of their key centers and military positions.

The Arabic-language al-Watan newspaper reported that the Syrian Army's artillery and missile units pounded the terrorists' military positions and movements in the towns of al-Arbaeen, al-Sayyad and al-Latamineh in Northern Hama.

The Syrian Air Force also pounded the military positions and movements of Tahrir al-Sham and other terrorist groups in the towns of al-Jabin, Kafar Sajneh, al-Naqir, Kafar Nubl, Ariha, Jbal al-Arbaeen, Sarjeh, Taftnaz, Madaya, Khan Sheikhoun, al-Hobait and al-Amerieh in Northern Hama and Southern Idlib.

Several centers and military positions of the terrorists were destroyed in the Syrian Army attacks on safe zones in Northern Syria and their military equipment was also destroyed.

A large number of terrorists, including several of their commanders, were also killed in the Syrian airstrikes.

Full report at:



Saudi Council of Ministers reiterates support for Palestinian refugees

2 July 2019

Saudi Arabia’s Council of Ministers said that the Kingdom would continue its support for Palestinian refugees and reaffirmed in a statement that the Palestinian right of return to their homeland was an inalienable one.

The council cited Saudi Arabia’s address at the annual Pledging Conference of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) held in New York last week.

“The address emphasized that the right of the Palestinians and their descendants to return to their homeland is an inalienable one which does not expire in time because it is a humanitarian, moral, legal and political right guaranteed by international resolutions,” a statement from the council read.

Full report at:



Syria says Israel strikes ‘state terrorism’

2 July 2019

Syria on Tuesday accused Israel of committing “state terrorism” after reported Israeli air strikes killed 15 people including civilians.

“Israeli authorities are increasingly practicing state terrorism,” the foreign ministry said in a statement carried by the official SANA news agency.

“The latest heinous Israeli aggression falls within the framework of ongoing Israeli attempts to prolong the crisis in Syria,” it added.

Israeli air strikes near Damascus and in Homs province late Sunday killed nine mostly foreign pro-regime fighters and six civilians, including three children, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

It was not immediately clear if the civilians died in the strikes or in their aftermath, it added.

An Israeli military spokeswoman declined to comment.

Syria’s foreign ministry filed a complaint to the United Nations Security Council over the attack, demanding accountability, according to SANA.

It said Israel’s “dangerous and hostile” actions would not have been possible without the support of its ally the United States, which protects it in the Security Council.

The strikes hit several Iranian positions near Damascus, and also targeted a research center and a military airport west of the city of Homs where the Lebanese Shiite movement Hezbollah and Iranians are deployed, the Observatory said.

One of the pro-regime fighters killed was Syrian, while the rest were of other nationalities, Observatory chief Rami Abdel Rahman said.

Israel has carried out hundreds of air strikes in Syria since the beginning of the conflict in 2011, targeting forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad and the regime’s allies Iran and Hezbollah.

Full report at:



UN expert urges ban on spy tech sales to Saudi Arabia over Khashoggi's murder

Jul 3, 2019

A UN expert, who recently concluded a probe into the state-sponsored assassination of Saudi dissident Jamal Khashoggi, has called for sanctions on surveillance technology sales to Riyadh, amid reports that the regime has been using such spyware to keep track of the dissidents living abroad.

Speaking at the Brookings Institution in Washington on Tuesday, Agnes Callamard, the UN special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary, or arbitrary executions, said that such a ban would help to not only hold Riyadh accountable for Khashoggi’s murder, but also to prevent similar extrajudicial killings.

“I do believe there should be a moratorium on the sale of surveillance technology to Saudi Arabia,” she said, adding that the regime has shown it “cannot be trusted” with it.

Khashoggi — a late but vocal critic of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman— was killed and his body was dismembered by a Saudi hit squad after being lured into the kingdom’s consulate in Istanbul, Turkey, on October 2, 2018.

His fate was unknown for several weeks, until Saudi Arabia confirmed under rising international pressure that the journalist had been murdered at the diplomatic mission.

Last month, Callamard presented findings of her six-month investigation into Khashoggi's murder case.

In her 101-page report, she said that there is “sufficient credible evidence” indicating that bin Salman bears responsibility for the murder, and that he should be investigated for the murder.

Reports revealed last year that Saudi Arabia had been using extensive technology tools to harass the dissidents living abroad or spy on them using Israeli software long before it ordered Khashoggi’s assassination.

Elsewhere in her Tuesday’s remarks, the UN expert stressed that Khashoggi’s killing had violated various international norms, including the Vienna Convention on consular relations and the UN charter on the extraterritorial use of force.

She also underlined the need to recognize that a state had carried out the murder.

“We really must insist that this was a state killing, and for it, the state must be held responsible and accountable,” Callamard said, noting that the killers were state agents who used Saudi government means to execute their crime.

“As you know, the killing took place in a consulate; the consul himself used his power to ensure that there were no witnesses on the floor when the killing took place,” she said. “So all of the dimensions of the execution of the crime meet the definition of a state killing.”

The UN rapporteur further complained that Western sanctions on Saudi citizens involved in the crime amount to an endorsement of Riyadh’s claim that the murder was carried out by “rogue” agents.

“So it’s really important to insist on what we do vis-a-vis the state of Saudi Arabia, not some 15, 17 individuals,” she said.

Callamard also criticized the Saudi investigation into the case for failing to meet international standards.

“There is no way I can conclude that the investigation conducted by Saudi Arabia was done effectively, was done in good faith and allowed for international cooperation,” she said.

World powers should reconsider holding the next G20 summit in Saudi Arabia, the UN expert said, noting that the event, scheduled for November 2020 in Riyadh, offered a chance to pressure the regime over the killing.

Full report at:



Syria will support Iran against all threats, acts of aggression: President Assad

Jul 2, 2019

President Bashar al-Assad says Syria fully supports the Iranian nation and the Islamic establishment against all threats and acts, which contravene international law and regulations.

Speaking during a meeting with Ali Asghar Khaji, a senior assistant on special political affairs to Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, in Damascus on Tuesday, Assad underscored his country’s backing for Iran and its leadership, stating that Syria defends Iranians’ strive for their rights and stands by them against all threats and acts that violate the basis of the international law.

Assad was then briefed on the developments concerning the Iran nuclear deal, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), following the US departure from the 2015 agreement, and Washington’s latest escalatory moves in the Middle East region.

The two sides also exchanged viewpoints on Syria’s counter-terrorism campaign, counterattacks to assaults being carried out by foreign-sponsored Takfiri terrorist groups positioned in Syria’s embattled northwestern province of Idlib, initiatives for a political solution to Syria's crisis, the next round of Syria peace talks in Kazakhstan, as well as the latest regional and international developments.

Khaji, for his part, pointed to the deeply-rooted relations between Tehran and Damascus, emphasizing that Iran is determined to bolster such ties in all areas in order to serve the interests of both nations.

The Iranian nation and government will continue to support Syria until it liberates all its territory and rebuilds what has been destroyed by the war, he pointed out.

Separately, the Iranian official met and held talks with Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Muallem.

They stressed the need for enhanced coordination and consultations between the two countries regarding upcoming international meetings on the political process in Syria, and all-out promotion of bilateral relations.

Full report at:



Oman rejects claims it's establishing diplomatic relations with Israel

Jul 2, 2019

Oman has dismissed as “baseless” Israel’s claims that the Persian Gulf sultanate is establishing diplomatic ties with the Tel Aviv regime.

In a statement published on its official Twitter page on Tuesday, the Omani Foreign Ministry reacted to comments by the head of the Mossad intelligence service, who had said a day earlier Israel was renewing ties with Oman.

“The Sultanate is keen to exert all efforts to create favorable diplomatic conditions to restore contacts between all international and regional parties to work towards achieving peace between the Palestinian Authority and … Israel, leading to the establishment of an independent Palestinian state,” the Omani Foreign Ministry said in the statement.

The Mossad chief, Yossi Cohen, had claimed at the Herzliya Conference on Monday that, “Just recently, renewal of formal relations with Oman was declared and the establishment of a representative office of the foreign ministry in that country.”

“That is only the visible tip of a much broader secret effort,” he added. “We do not yet have with them (Arab states) official peace treaties but there is already a communality of interests, broad cooperation and open channels of communication.”

Jordan and Egypt are the only two Arab states that have diplomatic ties with Israel. However, reports have indicated that several of them, including Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, have had secret relations with Tel Aviv.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in late November last year visited Oman, where he met Sultan Sayyid Qaboos bin Said Al Said at the Bait al-Barakah Royal Palace in the coastal city of Seeb near the capital Muscat.

The Jerusalem Post daily newspaper reported that the two men had discussed ways to advance the so-called Middle East peace process as well as other matters of mutual interest.

The Omani Foreign Ministry announced on June 26 that it will open an embassy in the occupied West Bank city of Ramallah.

The decision was made “in continuation of the sultanate’s support for the Palestinian people,” it said.

Full report at:





Jewish Experience Of Genocide Helps Heal Victims Of Isis

By Seth J. Frantzman  

JULY 1, 2019

Israel is among the best places for victims of genocide to see how Jews have processed the trauma of the past, says Mirza Dinnayi, head of a German humanitarian organization that treats Iraqi children and terror victims. He is part of a group that came to Israel this month to support victims of the Yazidi genocide.

The shuk in Jerusalem is always a bustling mosaic of people on a Friday. In late June, however, it hosted a group of Iraqis who had survived the depredations of Islamic State. It was a unique gathering, and the clanging of the shops and bustle of people helped distract the survivors from difficulties they have faced over the years.

Five years have passed since ISIS was at the height of its power in 2014, declaring its “caliphate” in Mosul in northern Iraq. Today, ISIS has been largely defeated, but its victims still hold the scars of trauma from 2014. Thousands of Yazidis, a minority group, were systematically murdered, and women and children sold into slavery. Although 3,000 remain missing, several thousand were able to escape or were freed from the hands of ISIS.

One of those is Lamiya Aji Bashar, who won the 2016 Sakharov Prize alongside Nadia Murad, another Yazidi victim. Aji Bashar was wounded in April 2016 while escaping and went to Germany to receive assistance. She came to Israel as part of a Bar-Ilan University and IsraAid initiative. The two-week workshop took place at the end of June and included a closing ceremony with Natan Sharansky. The university says that for four years, it has been conducting studies on PTSD and other issues facing Yazidi genocide survivors.

Dr. Yaakov Hoffman and Prof. Ari Zivotofsky from Bar-Ilan University said that they felt a moral obligation to study the effects of genocide and to share the know-how that exists in Israel. Dinnayi, who runs the German NGO Luftbrucke Irak, has helped more than 1,000 Yazidis who escaped ISIS and have gone to Germany for assistance.

On June 27, the group visited Yad Vashem. Aji Bashar said she felt that the Yazidi experience is linked to the images she saw at the Holocaust memorial. “They killed the men, and it is similar to what happened to us,” Bashar said.

The vice president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, Edwin Shuker, who has a keen interest in Iraq where he was born, said that the Jewish mission of being a light unto the nations can be seen in the connections with Yazidis and other survivors of ISIS crimes.

“We must remember that we understand this is our core mission,” said Shuker. “When I see what these kids went through and see them here and watch their faces smiling, you know we have done our mission.” Shuker was one of several people who came to the shuk with the Yazidis and Christians as they prepared to tour the Old City of Jerusalem.

For Dinnayi, the most important thing is that Iraq needs experienced professionals in trauma and psycho-therapy. “We began this initiative to help those who can help and create sustainability,” he says, adding that “I hope we can do a follow-up, and bring peace and solidarity for survivors of genocide.”

Frishta Kewe, a researcher in genocide, also accompanied the group. Born in Sulimaniyeh in northern Iraq’s Kurdish region, she moved to Europe and then returned to Iraq. She said that the visit to Yad Vashem was especially impactful for the group.

Kewe is an expert on the genocide carried out against Kurds in the 1980s by the regime of Saddam Hussein, including the Halabja poison gas attacks. “This is so much to learn, and I hope to write about it and show the resilience and commitment that people here [in Israel] took care [regarding] their history,” Kewe said.

But it is an uphill struggle. Lisa Miara, president and founder of the Springs of Hope Foundation, which has worked in a Yazidi IDP camp for years, says that the visit can help those who work with youth back in the Yazidi camps. Even though ISIS was defeated in Iraq in 2017, many hundreds of thousands of Yazidis remain in displaced persons camps because they fear returning to Sinjar where the genocide took place.

There are many hurdles for the community, not only in terms of security and the required investment in their former villages that were destroyed by ISIS, but also in helping women who survived sexual assault and had children while under ISIS captivity. This sensitive subject has caused controversy, as some women faced challenges returning to their communities. Some of the children were also brainwashed by ISIS.

Miara says that she has seen 200 kids who were once held by ISIS and that some of them were even child soldiers, forced to fight by the extremists. “No one in Iraq has experience with child soldiers,” she says, in terms of psychological support for the kids. These are uncharted waters. Some 30 kids and 10 women were rescued in battles near Baghouz earlier this year, but it’s difficult to confront the way ISIS sought to program them to be extremists.

HOW DID a unique group of survivors from ISIS end up in Israel in the first place?

“I went to Kurdistan to do research on disappearing Jewish communities,” says Zivotofsky. Hoffman, who was studying PTSD, asked him if he could help bring a questionnaire to Yazidi survivors.

“We decided to help them. And as people who know what it is like to be without a home and at the whim of evil, like ISIS was for them – and let them know that people are here to help them – they view us as a role model,” Zivotofsky said. “There must be follow up if we bring them here – if we want the therapy they learned to be effective – so we hope to do that and have visits, and we are planning on this. Bar-Ilan is planning follow up.”

The group also learned about what Jewish child survivors faced after 1945, and heard a lecture from Dr. Sharon Shalom, an Ethiopian Israeli who also survived the difficulties Ethiopian Jews underwent leaving Ethiopia in the 1980s. The Yazidis and Christians were inspired by his lecture, asking for selfies and seeing in his message of hope, a message they could take home.

It wasn’t an easy trip to get to Israel. Some of the participants’ names could not be mentioned, and the process and bureaucracy to come was complex. But they surmounted the hurdles. But the real hurdle remains in the future.

“We haven’t received enough support from the international community,” says Aji Bashar. “But it has been an amazing experience.”



Erdogan Says People Live Happily In Xinjiang

Jul 3, 2019

BEIJING: Chinese state media have said Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan told President Xi Jinping that ethnic minorities live happily in Xinjiang, in what would be a stark reversal of Ankara's past criticism of Beijing's crackdown in the region.

Erdogan met Xi at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on Tuesday, four months after the Turkish foreign ministry called the treatment of mostly Muslim Turkic-speaking Uighurs was "a great embarrassment for humanity".

China has come under growing criticism over its security clampdown in the northwest region, where more than one million Uighurs and other mostly Muslim minorities are believed to be held in a network of internment camps.

Beijing denies forcibly holding people in what it describes as "vocational education centres" where "trainees" learn Mandarin and job skills in an effort to steer them away from religious extremism.

Muslim countries had been largely silent about China's treatment of Uighurs until Turkey's statement in February, but the official Xinhua news agency reported nicer words from Erdogan on Tuesday.

"Turkey stays committed to the one-China policy, Erdogan said, stressing that residents of various ethnicities living happily in Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region thanks to China's prosperity is a hard fact, and Turkey will not allow anyone to drive a wedge in its relations with China," Xinhua reported.

Full report at:



To Evade Sanctions on Iran, Ships Vanish in Plain Sight

By Michael Forsythe and Ronen Bergman

July 2, 2019

A week ago, a small tanker ship approached the Persian Gulf after a 19-day voyage from China. The captain, as required by international rules, reported the ship’s position, course, speed and another key detail: It was riding high in the water, meaning it was probably empty.

Then the Chinese-owned ship, the Sino Energy 1, went silent and essentially vanished from the grid.

It reported in again on Sunday, near the spot where it had vanished six days earlier, only now it was heading east, away from the Strait of Hormuz near Iran. If past patterns hold, the captain will soon report that it is riding low in the water, meaning its tanks are most likely full.

As the Trump administration’s sanctions on Iranian oil and petrochemical products have taken hold, some of the world’s shipping fleets have defied the restrictions by “going dark” when they pick up cargo in Iranian ports, according to commercial analysts who track shipping data and intelligence from authorities in Israel, a country that backs the Trump crackdown.

“They are hiding their activity,” said Samir Madani, co-founder of, a company that uses satellite imagery to identify tankers calling on Iranian ports. “They don’t want to broadcast the fact that they have been in Iran, evading sanctions. It’s that simple.”

A maritime treaty overseen by a United Nations agency requires ships of 300 tons or more that travel international routes to have an automatic identification system. The gear helps avoid collisions and aids in search-and-rescue operations. It also allows countries to monitor shipping traffic.

It is not illegal under international law to buy and haul Iranian oil or related products. The Trump administration’s sanctions, which went into effect last November after the United States pulled out of the Iran nuclear agreement, are unilateral.

But foreign companies doing business with American companies or banks risk being punished by the United States. Actions can include banning American banks from working with them, freezing assets and barring company officials from traveling to the United States, said Richard Nephew, a research scholar at Columbia University who oversaw Iran policy on the National Security Council during the Obama administration.

“We have sanctioned dozens of Chinese state-owned enterprises for nuclear, missile, arms and other forms of proliferation,” Mr. Nephew said. “But it is not entered into lightly.”

A State Department spokeswoman said, “We do not comment on intelligence matters.”

Chinese Tankers Keep Disappearing in the Persian Gulf

The SC Mercury, an oil and chemical tanker owned by Sinochem until April 2019, sails regularly from Chinese ports into the Persian Gulf.

On the morning of Jan. 27, 2018, it disappeared. The Mercury's A.I.S. transponder — a device that broadcasts a ship's location continuously, required by an international maritime treaty — fell silent.

Several days later, the transponder came back to life, tracking the Mercury as it sailed toward ports in India. Having deposited its cargo, it turned back toward the gulf.

On Feb. 15, 2018, the ship went dark again as it navigated the Strait of Hormuz, reappearing days later to begin a weekslong journey back to Shanghai.

All ships 300 tons or greater on international journeys are required to broadcast their location, course and speed on the system, but sometimes, to hide their activities from competitors, ships “go dark,” analysts say.

The Persian Gulf isn’t the only place in the world where ships go silent. It also happens in the South China Sea, but there, one analyst said, the reason may be because the sheer number of ships overwhelms the system.

In the case of the Mercury, outages appeared to be more selective. In April and May 2018, the ship’s transponder stayed active as it visited ports in Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates.

When a ship goes dark in the Persian Gulf, it may be related to dodging sanctions, not technical problems, said Samir Madani of, which uses satellite technology to monitor ships. Countries and companies that import Iranian oil risk punishment from the United States.

In the past 18 months, the five ships, which regularly sail between China and the Persian Gulf, made only two port visits in Iran, according to information from their A.I.S. data. In contrast, those ships made close to 50 stops in ports in Bahrain, Oman, Saudi Arabia and the U.A.E. In another 28 instances, the ships vanished in the region for days or weeks.

By Rich Harris and Derek Watkins. Source: VesselsValue

debug 1458: waiting for message.......

Brian Hook, the United States special representative for Iran, told reporters in London on Friday that the United States would punish any country importing Iranian oil. Mr. Hook was responding to a question about reports of Iranian oil going to Asia, according to the Reuters news agency.

President Trump’s efforts to halt Iranian oil and petrochemical exports are at the heart of rising tensions between the two countries. Last month, he imposed new sanctions on Iran’s leaders after it downed an American surveillance drone and nearly precipitated a counterstrike that was called off at the last minute. The attack on the drone came a week after the United States accused Iran of being responsible for explosions that had crippled two tankers near the Strait of Hormuz.

American and Israeli intelligence agencies say the country’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps is deeply entwined with its petrochemical industry, using oil revenues to swell its coffers. Mr. Trump has labeled the military group a terrorist organization.

Iran has been trying to work around the American sanctions by offering “significant reductions” in price for its oil and petrochemical products, said Gary Samore, a professor at Brandeis University who worked on weapons issues in the Obama administration. When shipping companies defy the sanctions, they weaken their effectiveness, especially if the companies — or the countries where they are based — see no consequences, analysts said. Some shipping companies with direct Iranian ties do not try to hide their movements, according to data collected by the commercial tracking sites.

Last month, the Salina, an Iranian-flagged oil tanker under American sanctions, docked in Jinzhou Bay, a port in northeastern China, according to data from VesselsValue, a website that analyzes global shipping information. The Salina regularly reported its position, course and speed via the automatic identification system.

Oil tankers like the Salina, which can transport as much as a million barrels of crude, or about 5 percent of the daily consumption of the United States, are so big that they can call on only a limited number of ports. They are also more easily spotted by satellites than smaller ships like the Sino Energy 1.

That vessel, and its more than 40 sister ships, are far more difficult to track when they go off the grid. They were owned until April by a subsidiary of Sinochem, a state-owned company in China that is one of the world’s biggest chemical manufacturers.

Sinochem has extensive business ties in the United States. It has an office in Houston and works with big American companies including Boeing and Exxon Mobil. In March, it signed an agreement with Citibank to “deepen the partnership” between the two companies, Sinochem said. In 2013, a United States subsidiary of Sinochem bought a 40 percent stake in a Texas shale deposit for $1.7 billion.

In April, it sold a controlling share in its shipping fleet to a private company, Inner Mongolia Junzheng Energy & Chemical Group Co., whose biggest shareholder is Du Jiangtao, a Chinese billionaire who made his fortune in medical equipment, chemicals and coal-generated power.

A person answering the phone at Junzheng’s investor relations office was not familiar with the newly acquired shipping business. For now, Junzheng owns 40 percent of Sinochem’s former shipping fleet, with the rest owned by two Beijing companies.

Frank Ning, the chairman of Sinochem, speaking in a brief interview in Dalian, China, said that shipping had not been central to the company’s business. In a statement, the company said it had “adopted strict compliance policies and governance on export control and sanctions,” though a former employee who had helped manage the shipping business, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said the company had shipped petrochemicals from Iran for years.

The tracking data also show that some of the Sinochem ships made trips to Iran before the fleet was sold, and both before and after the American sanctions went into effect.

In April 2018, for example, one of the ships, the SC Brilliant, was moored at Asalouyeh, a major Iranian petrochemical depot on the Persian Gulf, according to data from VesselsValue. The SC Brilliant’s voyage was easy to plot. Its captain made constant reports via the automatic identification system, broadcasting its course, speed and destination.

But after Mr. Trump’s announcement last August that he would reimpose sanctions on Iran’s petroleum industry, the SC Brilliant’s voyages became less transparent.

In late September and early October, shortly before the sanctions took effect, the ship went off the grid for 10 days in the same stretch of the Strait of Hormuz where the Sino Energy 1 disappeared last week. When the SC Brilliant went off the grid, it appeared empty; when it re-emerged, it appeared full.

The pattern was repeated in February, with the ship disappearing for four days, according to the tracking data.

That month, another Sinochem ship, the SC Neptune, stopped transmitting its position when it approached the Strait of Hormuz, the tracking data show. Four days later, for a brief period, it appeared back on the grid, transmitting its location from an export terminal on Iran’s Kharg Island. It then went quiet for another 24 hours, reappearing on its way out of the strait.

In some parts of the world, including the South China Sea, it is not uncommon for ships to go silent because the automatic identification system may be overloaded by the volume of vessels, said Court Smith, a former officer in the United States Coast Guard who is now an analyst at VesselsValue. Sometimes they do so for competitive reasons, he added.

But in the Persian Gulf, where traffic is lighter, Mr. Smith said, vessels generally do not turn off the system, known in the industry as A.I.S.

“If the A.I.S. signal is lost, it is almost certainly because the A.I.S. transponder has been disabled or turned off,” Mr. Smith said of ships in the Persian Gulf. “The captain has decided to turn off the A.I.S.”

Another possible clue that Iran-bound ships are disabling their reporting systems is that ships making trips to countries on the western part of the gulf are not going off the grid.

Full report at:



Nine injured in Houthi attack on Saudi Arabia’s Abha airport: Arab Coalition

2 July 2019

Nine people were injured following an attack by the Houthi militia targeting Saudi Arabia’s Abha International Airport on Tuesday, the Arab Coalition said.

"The terrorist attack on Abha airport... led to the injury of nine civilians, including eight Saudi citizens and one carrying an Indian passport," coalition spokesman Colonel Turki al-Maliki said in a statement, adding that they were all in stable condition.

He stated that the attack took place at 12:35 am local time.

Full report at:



Iran Guards chief: We have closed the military path for the enemy

3 July 2019

The head of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards said on Wednesday the enemy was worried about the prospect of war and was focused instead on an economic conflict, according to the semi-official Fars news agency.

Tensions between the United States and Iran have increased since Trump pulled Washington out of a nuclear deal last year and moved to bar all international sales of Iranian oil.

Last month the United States came as close as it has ever come to bombing Iran, when President Donald Trump aborted a retaliatory air strike minutes before impact. Trump said he decided the strike, to punish Iran for shooting down a drone, would have killed too many people.

“In the military sphere, we have completely closed the path for the enemy,” Major General Hossein Salami was quoted as saying.

Full report at:



Israel to open foreign ministry office in Oman, Mossad chief says

Jul 2, 2019

The head of Israel’s spy agency Mossad says the occupying regime is renewing ties with Oman, adding that a representative office of the Israeli foreign ministry will open in the Persian Gulf, as Tel Aviv and Arab monarchies move to bring their clandestine ties to light.

Speaking at the Herzliya Conference on Monday, Yossi Cohen said “Just recently, renewal of formal relations with Oman was declared and the establishment of a representative office of the foreign ministry in that country.”

“That is only the visible tip of a much broader secret effort,” he added.

Jordan and Egypt are the only two Arab states that have diplomatic ties with Israel. However, reports have indicated that several of them, including Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, have had secret relations with Tel Aviv.

“We do not yet have with them (Arab states) official peace treaties but there is already a communality of interests, broad cooperation and open channels of communication,” Cohen said.

Israel and Oman agreed to open trade representative offices in the 1990s, but in 2000, the Persian Gulf sultanate shut them down after the outbreak of the second Palestinian intifada (uprising).

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met Oman’s Sultan Qaboos in Muscat last October. The controversial visit was kept secret until after the Israeli premier returned to the occupied territories.

On Wednesday, Oman announced plans to open an embassy in Palestine in support of the Palestinian people, in a first for a Persian Gulf state.

Palestine warns Oman

Hanan Ashrawi, a senior official in the Palestine Liberation Organization, welcomed Muscat’s decision, saying “I hope the embassy will help in educating the Omani government on the real nature of the Israeli occupation.”

She, however, warned Oman against using its mission to establish formal ties with Tel Aviv, saying, “If this has a political price attached then certainly there will be ramifications.”

Israel and the Persian Gulf Arab regimes have dramatically increased their contacts since late June, when Bahrain hosted a US-led conference where the “economic” part of President Donald Trump’s “peace” plan for the Middle East was unveiled.

The recent moves towards normalization of ties have angered Palestinians, who see them as an attempt to liquidate the Palestinian cause.

In an unprecedented move, a handful of Israeli journalists, hand-picked by the White House, traveled to Bahrain last week to attend the US-led conference.

The conference was boycotted by the Palestinians. Critics say Washington is offering financial rewards for Palestinians to accept the Israeli occupation.

Following the event, Bahrain openly said that it wants “peace” and “better” relations with the occupying entity.

On the weekend, the Israeli foreign minister, Yisrael Katz, arrived in the United Arab Emirates for a UN environmental conference.

During the visit, he met an unnamed “high ranking UAE official”.

“I shall continue to work together with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to advance the normalization policy,” Katz said in a Facebook post.

Full report at:



Turkey slams UN over signing deal with US-backed SDF militants in Syria

Jul 2, 2019

Turkey has strongly condemned the United Nations for signing an agreement over the weekend with the US-sponsored and Kurdish-led militants of the so-called Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), which Ankara views as terrorists.

“It is a calamity for the UN that Virginia Gamba, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict, signed an ‘Action Plan’ with the PKK (Kurdistan Workers' Party) terrorist group, the commander of the so-called SDF, Ferhat Abdi Shahin, without the knowledge of UN members in Geneva. We strongly condemn this,” the Turkish Foreign Ministry said in a written statement released on Tuesday.

The statement added that necessary steps have been taken with the UN.

“It is unacceptable for an organization like the UN, which needs to be at the front row with the fight against terror, to sign an agreement with a terrorist organization. This is also a clear violation of the UN’s own rulings about terrorism,” it pointed out.

The ministry further noted that the UN has confirmed the “gross crimes of the illegal PKK/PYD/YPG against humanity and international law” by signing this agreement.

“It is unacceptable that the UN addressed remarks to a bloody-handed terrorist organization to solve the issue,” the statement read.

On Saturday, Gamba and Mazloum Abdi, Force Commander of the SDF, signed an Action Plan to end the recruitment and use of children in conflict.

The People’s Protection Units (YPG), which forms the backbone of the SDF, has been accused several times of recruiting child soldiers over the course of its purported fight against the Daesh terrorist group.

In its 2018 report on child recruitment in Syria, the UN said 263 boys and 152 girls have been recruited and used by Kurdish groups between 2013 and the first quarter of 2018.

The United States has long been providing the SDF with arms and militants, calling them a key partner in the alleged campaign against Daesh.

Many observers, however, see the support in the context of Washington’s plans to carve out a foothold in the Arab country.

Such support has also angered Washington’s NATO ally, Turkey, which views the YPG as the Syria branch of the homegrown PKK militant group.

The PKK has been seeking an autonomous Kurdish region in Turkey since 1984.

Full report at:





Sudan protest group calls for nationwide ‘civil disobedience’ on July 14

2 July 2019

A key Sudanese protest group on Monday announced a one-day nationwide “civil disobedience” campaign on July 14, a day after it organized mass protests against the ruling generals that rocked the country.

“On Sunday, July 14, a civil disobedience and total political strike in Khartoum and across all provinces will be held,” the Sudanese Professional Association said in a statement, adding that a mass protest will also be launched on July 13.

The SPA had initiated the protests in December that finally led to the ouster of longtime president Omar al-Bashir in April.

On Sunday, Seven people were killed and 181 others were wounded during mass demonstrations across Sudan, the state news agency (SUNA) reported citing the health ministry.

The deputy head of Sudan’s Transitional Military Council, Gen. Mohamed Hamdan Daglo, called on Sunday for “an urgent and comprehensive agreement” with the Forces for Freedom and Change (FFC) opposition coalition.



40 dead, 80 injured in air strike on detention center for migrants in Libya

3 July 2019

An airstrike hit a detention center for migrants early Wednesday in the Libyan capital, killing at least 40 people, a health official in the country’s UN-recognized government said.

The airstrike targeting the detention center in Tripoli’s Tajoura neighborhood also wounded 80 migrants, said Malek Merset, a spokesman for the health ministry said.

The fighting for Tripoli has threatened to plunge Libya into another bout of violence on the scale of the 2011 conflict that ousted longtime dictator Moammar Gadhafi and led to his death.

Thousands of migrants are detained in Libya after being apprehended by local forces funded by the European Union and are now caught up in the armed conflict.

Full report at:



Somalia: Troops Retake New Area From Al-Shabaab

30 JUNE 2019

Somali government forces were reported to have retaken a key area in the country's Middle Shabelle region following a military operation against the militants-held positions.

A senior military officer told Radio Shabelle by phone that the SNA troops backed by African Union peacekeepers rolled into Madah-Isse village, located in the outskirts of Jowhar, the region's administrative capital on Sunday.

Al-Shabaab said its fighters retreated from the location after a brief confrontation with government soldiers moved from military bases in Qalimow town and Ceelka Geelow, all situated in the same region.

In a separate incident, the militants attacked Bariire area, about 65 Kilometers southwest of Mogadishu, and engaged in a heavy gunfight with the Somali troops, according to local residents.

Full report at:



Militant attack on military camp in Niger kills 18

Jul 2, 2019

Eighteen soldiers were killed when "terrorists" struck an army camp in western Niger, the government said Tuesday, adding the US and France had provided air support to help repel the assault.

The attack took place on Monday afternoon at a camp at Inates on the border with Mali, the defense ministry said in a statement. Four soldiers were listed as missing.

Niger, one of the world's poorest countries, lies in the heart of the fragile Sahel region, which is battling an insurgency.

"The attack began with the detonation of two suicide vehicles at the entrance to the camp, followed by gunfire from terrorists who arrived on motorbike," the statement said. "The counter-attack, with air support from our partners [French and American], enabled the enemy to be routed beyond our borders," it said.

"Sweeping-up operations are continuing."

Several "terrorists" were killed, a truck was destroyed by airstrikes and two explosive-laden vehicles were destroyed, it said.

On Monday, a military source, speaking on condition of anonymity, told AFP there had been a twin "car-bomb attack" at the camp and suggested the toll would be high. The base, located in a volatile region, trains Nigerien soldiers to serve in a UN peacekeeping mission in Mali.

Insurgent groups are active in western and northern Mali, spilling over from a long-running militancy in Mali, while Nigeria's Boko Haram is present in the country's southeast.

Last month, the defense ministry said 18 members of Daesh in the Greater Sahara, or ISGS, were killed in a joint operation by US, French, and Niger troops in the southwestern border region of Tongo Tongo.

In October 2017, the ISGS claimed responsibility for a raid that killed four US soldiers and five Nigerien troops in the same region, a mere 20 kilometers from the Malian border. The United States has a big base for drones in the northern city of Agadez and Niger recently gave the Americans permission to arm their drones. The French also have a military base near the airport at the capital, Niamey, and another at Madama in the north.

Niger is part of the so-called G5 Sahel group of five nations set up to manage a coordinated response to the militancy in the impoverished region.

Full report at:





A German Politician's Assassination Prompts New Fears About Far-Right Violence

July 1, 2019

The assassination last month in Germany of a popular pro-migrant politician has raised alarm about a growing threat of right-wing terrorism. It was the first political assassination in more than half a century, and it has shaken the country.

Walter Lübcke, a 65-year-old member of the Christian Democratic Union and a staunch defender of Chancellor Angela Merkel's open-door refugee policy, was shot in the head late at night on June 2 as he sat smoking on his terrace, according to German investigators. The confessed killer is an avowed neo-Nazi with a 20-plus-year history of violence against immigrants. But experts on extremism and some mainstream political leaders suggest the far-right, anti-immigrant Alternative for Germany political party shares at least some of the blame.

In recent German history, right-wing attacks have mostly targeted immigrants. The assassination of a prominent German politician is unprecedented, says Hajo Funke, a professor at the Free University of Berlin who studies right-wing extremism.

"So coldblooded, so prepared, so decisive," he says. "That kind of killing is a new step, and that is what, for me, is right-wing terror."

German officials were still calling Lübcke's assassination a mystery at the time of his funeral on June 13 in the German state of Hesse, where he was the district president of the city of Kassel. Gun homicides are rare in a country with strict gun laws.

The break in the case came on June 15, when a German SWAT team arrested 45-year-old Stephan Ernst, based on DNA evidence collected at the crime scene.

Ernst's police record includes an attempt to plant a pipe bomb at a hostel for asylum-seekers in 1993. Investigators say he had ties to neo-Nazi groups, including Combat 18, an extremist group that originated in the United Kingdom, spread to other European countries and has chapters in the U.S. and Canada.

"He was closely associated with leading figures of Combat 18," says Daniel Koehler, director of the German Institute on Radicalization and De-radicalization Studies in Stuttgart. "He was friends with them on Facebook."

After Ernst was arrested, says Koehler, "Combat 18, for the first time ever in Germany, released a propaganda video in support of the suspect."

When Ernst confessed to the killing, he told police he acted alone. But German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer said investigators continue to look for accomplices and a network. Two more arrests were made last week.

The case is a "game changer, an extremely extraordinary incident," says Koehler. Leading politicians in Germany now feel under direct threat of violence from far-right extremists. "It's not that [extremists] didn't want to do it before, but they simply didn't dare," says Koehler.

Over the weekend, media reports — confirmed by Germany's domestic intelligence agency — surfaced of a neo-Nazi network that ordered body bags and compiled a target list of political leaders.

When Lübcke's killer confessed, he also spelled out his motives to investigators. He said he was enraged by comments Lübcke made in 2015 in support of refugees in Germany.

Lübcke's remarks came during a heated town hall meeting to discuss a new shelter for asylum-seekers, as hundreds of thousands of migrants and refugees began entering the country. Far-right hecklers interrupted the meeting. Lübcke challenged them.

"There is this famous town hall where he was telling people in the audience, 'If you don't like human rights, you should go,' " says Mohamed Amjahid, a political reporter for Die Zeit newspaper. "He was very tough."

The exchange led to an online hate campaign against Lübcke, who received death threats. He was provided police protection until the storm eventually subsided.

In February, his 2015 town hall comments surfaced again in a video posted by Erika Steinbach, a former CDU member of parliament who broke with her party and aligned herself with the political ideology of the AfD, German's far-right party, now the third-largest in parliament.

Her post spurred another storm of hate.

"She herself never actually threatened Lübcke, but she provided the platform for those who did," says Koehler.

Koehler connects AfD rhetoric to growing extremism. The AfD's warning of an existential threat to German culture has contributed to extremist violence, he says.

Studies produced by his institute show "a significant link between AfD hate speech directed against refugees and the level of far-right, xenophobic crimes in certain areas," Koehler says. A prominent AfD member of parliament was temporarily suspended from Twitter last year after she referred to Muslim men as "barbaric" and "gang-raping hordes."

"Statistically, there are three violent, far-right attacks every day in Germany, so that is just significant. We have no other form of violent extremism that presents such a threat," Koehler says.

When high-ranking AfD members use language that dehumanizes refugees to create an existential threat, he says, that spurs violence: "Far-right extremists act out on that fear and threat."

As the Lübcke assassination investigation continued and alarm rose in Germany, senior members of the CDU charged that the AfD was partly to blame for the politician's death.

AfD rhetoric especially demonizes refugees from the Middle East, Funke says.

"There's an ... indirect link," he says, "being utterly against all Muslims, Muslims in this country, Muslims around the world. Unleashing of resentment is one of the conditions for murder and for violence."

AfD leaders and supporters accuse the CDU of attempting to politicize Lübcke's death.

"Everybody has to condemn a murder," says Armin-Paul Hampel, an AfD member of parliament. Threats, he says, are "my daily business. I got threatened, including 'We will kill you' and things like that. Nobody complained, by the way, in the German media."

AfD political leaders have also dismissed fears of an extreme right-wing terrorist network. "The one gentleman imprisoned is saying nothing. So, let's wait," says Hampel.

The heated political exchanges come as the AfD hopes to boost its support in a series of local elections in the fall. AfD leaders have accused CDU leaders of "using a murder to discredit political competitors," as an AfD parliamentary leader wrote on Twitter.

The AfD has been consistent in criticizing what Hampel calls Merkel's "illegal open-door policy" for refugees and asylum-seekers. AfD leaders demand that most, if not all, of the recent arrivals be sent home. Germany's welfare system will collapse, he believes, under the strain of refugees who refuse to integrate.

The central message of his party, he says, is "Do we really want a melting pot from all nationalities, or do we want to keep our identity?"

He insists that message had nothing to do with Lübcke's assassination.



'Sworn allegiance to ISIS': Sydney men arrested over foiled terror plot

July 2, 2019

Two Sydney-based Islamic State members had reached out to contacts overseas to obtain weapons and explosives as part of a plot to carry out attacks on city churches, courts, police stations and defence locations, police allege.

Counter-terrorism police raided six homes in Sydney on Tuesday morning arresting 20-year-old Isaak el Matari and Radwan Dakkak, 23, over their connection to alleged plans for a terrorist attack.

A third man, Ahmed Tebya, 30, was also arrested, over unrelated charges of defrauding Centrelink.

Police began an investigation 12 months ago and allege the men made threats about central Sydney locations on social media including messaging services WhatsApp and Telegram.

Mr el Matari, who was arrested at his Greenacre home, had been under police surveillance since returning to Sydney from Lebanon 12 months ago.

"We will allege in court that the man was in early-stage preparations and was someone who had expressed intentions to carry out a terrorist attack in Australia," Australian Federal Police's national manager of counter-terrorism, Ian McCartney, said.

"Police station, defence establishments, embassies and consulates, courts and churches [were all potential targets]," he said.

"This man had not moved to finalise his plans to finalise a terror attack."

Police said Mr el Matari had only become of interest to Australian authorities because of his trip to Lebanon.

"Before he travelled overseas to Lebanon, he wasn't of interest to Australian authorities. We had concern once he returned to Australia. Movements have been monitored since he returned to Australia," NSW Assistant Commissioner Mick Willing, the Counter Terrorism and Special Tactics commander, said.

Tuesday's raid was the 16th alleged planned terror attack police have foiled since the terrorist threat level in Australia was elevated to "probable" in 2014.

"There are still people who wish to do the community harm. Their actions are criminal and they represent hate and terror," Mr McCartney said.

Terror raids in south-west Sydney

Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton said the case bolstered the argument for new laws the government plans to put to Parliament this week that would let authorities block Australians deemed a terrorist threat from returning from overseas for up to two years.

Mr Dutton said the government could not be certain how many Australians who supported Islamic State might still be at large in the Middle East.

"Even though there’s been an enormous disruption and the taking over of areas … nonetheless there are many people who still are involved in different theatre skirmishes, regroupings. It may be the case that some Australians we assume have been killed in the theatre of war may not have been."

Police allege the pair arrested on Tuesday had planned to import firearms and explosives to carry out the attacks.

"They were starting to reach out to people overseas," Mr McCartney said.

Mr el Matari also allegedly had plans to go to Afghanistan to pledge allegiance to, and fight for, the Islamic State, he said.

He had a visa and a plane ticket to Afghanistan, and planned to purchase a firearm upon arrival, police alleged.

"Through these activities, he'd sworn allegiance to IS," Mr McCartney said. "There was a domestic plan at the same time."

Mr el Matari, who lives with a woman and two children, is expected to be charged with one count of preparing for a terrorist act and one count of being part of a terrorist organisation.

He will also face charges under the so-called foreign fighters legislation designed to stop Islamic State sympathisers from going to the Middle East to fight.

Horrified neighbours at the home in Chiswick Street, Greenacre, where Mr el Matari had lived for several months, told the Herald they were in shock.

"It's very terrible, what we heard this morning. My four-year-old daughter is very scared. She asked what is going on," one neighbour said.

Another said she wanted to move. "I'm disgusted, I don't want to live here any more. It's terrifying, you don't feel safe. It's just shocking," she said.

Mr Dakkak, from Toongabbie, is expected to be charged with being a member of the Islamic State.

The third man arrested in the raid, Mr Tebya, will face unrelated charges of defrauding Centrelink.

Mr Tebya was granted police bail to appear in Burwood Local Court later this month.

Police also had in place an "escalation plan" if any of the attacks had progressed, Mr Willing said.

"In matters of this type, public safety is paramount. We had appropriate resources briefed and ready, including tactical resources and the like," he said.

Full report at:



Netherlands probes 'terrorist motive' in Utrecht shooting


Dutch prosecutors on Monday said they are investigating a "terrorist motive" in a deadly tram shooting in Utrecht.

The main suspect, Gokmen T., confessed to the shooting on Monday, saying: "I am not a suspect, I pleaded guilty to the crime."

Gokmen is suspected of boarding a tram and opening fire on passengers in March, killing four people and wounding two others. He was arrested shortly after the shooting.

Prosecutors said they discovered a handwritten letter in an alleged getaway vehicle near the scene of the crime.

"I'm doing this for my religion, you kill Muslims and you want to take our religion away from us, but you won't succeed. God is great," the Dutch-language letter said.

'Difficult person'

Authorities have been on high alert since a series of terrorist attacks targeted European capitals across the EU, including Paris, Brussels and Berlin. Several of them were claimed by the "Islamic State" militant group.

Dutch prosecutors said that while the main suspect was a "difficult person" given his criminal past, they had yet to uncover clues to indicate he had previously considered a "terrible deed such as the one he is now suspected of."

Full report at:



France warns Iran against further breaches of nuclear deal

2 July 2019

France warned Iran on Tuesday against carrying out any further measures that could hinder its 2015 nuclear deal with world powers, but appeared to hold off on confronting Tehran over its decision to exceed its low enriched uranium (LEU) limits.

France, along with Britain and Germany, is seeking to save the deal since US President Donald Trump quit the accord last year and imposed punishing sanctions on Iran.

Paris had been cautious about responding following Monday’s confirmation by the International Atomic Energy Agency that Tehran had amassed more LEU than permitted under the accord.

President Emmanuel Macron recalled “his attachment to the full respect of the 2015 nuclear accord and asks Iran to reverse without delay this excess, as well as to avoid all extra measures that would put into question its nuclear commitments,” the French presidency said in a statement.

The move is a test of European diplomacy after French, British and German officials had promised a strong diplomatic response if Iran fundamentally breached the deal.

The Europeans, who opposed Trump’s decision to abandon the agreement, had pleaded with Iran to keep within its parameters.

Under the terms of the deal, if any party believes Iran has violated the agreement, they can trigger a dispute resolution process that could end at the UN Security Council with a so-called snapback of UN sanctions on Iran.

The French presidency statement said that Macron would take steps in coming days to ensure Iran met its obligations and continued to benefit from the economic advantages of the deal.

Officials did not immediately clarify what those steps would be.

Full report at:



Turkey orders arrest of 122 military personnel over suspected Gulen links

2 July 2019

Turkey has ordered the arrest of 122 military personnel over suspected links to the network blamed by Ankara for orchestrating a failed military coup, prosecutors and the state-run Anadolu news agency said on Tuesday.

Ankara has accused US-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen of masterminding the attempted putsch in July 2016. He has denied any involvement.

Police have launched one operation in Istanbul, prosecutors there said. Authorities have also launched separate operations in the western coastal province of Izmir and the central province of Konya, Anadolu added.

Almost three years after the failed coup, more than 77,000 people have been jailed pending trial and about 150,000 civil servants, military personnel and others have been sacked or suspended from their jobs.

Rights groups and Turkey’s Western allies have criticized the scope of the crackdown, saying President Tayyip Erdogan has used the abortive coup as a pretext to quash dissent.

The government has said the security measures are necessary due to the gravity of the threat Turkey faces, and has vowed to eradicate Gulen’s network in the country.

Police based in Izmir were looking for 42 suspects there and in 17 other provinces, Anadolu said. Authorities believed members of Gulen’s network had used pay phones to contact the suspects, it added.

Authorities in Konya were looking for another 40 suspects, including soldiers on active duty, there and in 25 other provinces, the news agency reported.

Full report at:



EU gravely concerned over Iran’s breach of nuclear deal



The foreign ministers of the U.K., Germany and France along with the European Union’s high representative issued a joint statement Tuesday urging Iran to reverse its decision to breach a limit under a 2015 nuclear agreement.

The statement by the European 3 (E3) and the European External Action Service (EEAS) expressed dismay and concern over Iran’s decision to exceed the limit set on its low-enriched uranium reserves.

“The Foreign Ministers of France, Germany, the UK, and the High Representative are extremely concerned at Iran’s announcement that it has exceeded the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action stockpile limit for low enriched uranium. The International Atomic Energy Agency has confirmed this information,” the statement said.

“We have been consistent and clear that our commitment to the nuclear deal depends on full compliance by Iran. We regret this decision by Iran, which calls into question an essential instrument of nuclear non-proliferation.”

The E3 and the EEAS urged Iran to refrain from further exceeding the limits on its low-enriched uranium reserves and thus undermining the nuclear deal. The foreign ministries said they are considering the next steps to ensure the agreement does not collapse and are in coordination with their partners.

On Monday, Iran revealed that it had breached the limit set on its stockpile of low-enriched uranium, allowing it to exceed the 300 kilograms agreed under the deal. Iran had warned that it had intended to breach the deal if the EU was not able to bypass U.S. sanctions.

The breach follows the U.S. withdrawal from the deal last year and Tehran’s frustration over the EU’s failure to counter crippling U.S. sanctions and increase trade with Iran. U.S. sanctions have deterred European businesses from conducting trade with the country.

Prior to the breach, the EU had announced the establishment of a trading mechanism known as Instex that would allow European businesses to trade with Iran without facing U.S. scrutiny.

Under the Iran nuclear deal, also known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPoA), Iran agreed to destroy its stockpile of medium-enriched uranium and cut its stockpile of low-enriched uranium by 98%.

The JCPoA was signed by the U.K., the U.S., Russia, China, France, Germany and the EU in 2015.

Full report at:



North America


UN investigator calls for spy tech sales ban on Riyadh

Umar Farooq



The UN special rapporteur for extrajudicial killings on Tuesday called for a moratorium on selling surveillance technology to Saudi Arabia over the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

The call from UN investigator Agnes Callamard comes after last month’s release of her report on Khashoggi's death.

Khashoggi was killed and dismembered by a group of Saudi operatives shortly after he entered the country's consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2 last year.

Riyadh offered various, conflicting narratives to explain his disappearance before acknowledging he was murdered in the diplomatic building while seeking to shift blame for his death on a botched rendition operation being carried out by rogue agents.

Khashoggi's body has not been recovered, and the Kingdom has remained silent on its whereabouts.

Callamard said that a ban on foreign sales of that technology would help to not only hold Riyadh accountable for Khashoggi's death but to prevent such an extrajudicial killing from happening again.

An Israeli spyware company, Pegasus, reportedly sold surveillance technology to Saudi Arabia that was used to track the murdered journalist, according to NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden.

"I do believe there should be a moratorium on the sale of surveillance technology to Saudi Arabia," Callamard said at a panel hosted by the Brookings Institution, a Washington-based think tank.

The UN investigator’s report was released at the end of June, and said that the state of Saudi Arabia was responsible for the killing of Khashoggi, but fell short of placing the blame on the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

"All of the dimensions of the execution of the crime meet the definition of a state killing," Callamard said.

In her report, however, she called for sanctioning bin Salman because there is "enough evidence to suggest that he has a part of responsibility for the killing."

Callamard said in the report she found "credible evidence" to further probe Saudi officials’ individual liability in Khashoggi's killing, including bin Salman.

Among its other recommendations, the UN report calls on the FBI and UN secretary general to launch criminal investigations into the murder of Khashoggi, who was a U.S. resident.

Callamard said that the UN has been "paralyzed" in how to deal with the killing, with many world leaders being hesitant in their responses.



US senator demands probe into American weapons in Libya

Servet Gunerigok 



A senior U.S. senator on Tuesday demanded an investigation over reports that American-made weapons were found at a base of forces loyal to Khalifa Haftar, the East Libyan-based military commander.

The UN-recognized Government of National Accord (GNA) said its forces found the weapons at a base they captured from Haftar's militia in the strategic town of Gharyan, south of the capital Tripoli, last week.

It said the seized weapons included four Javelin anti-tank missiles packed in wooden crates marked "armed forces of the United Arab Emirates."

In a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Senator Robert Menendez of New Jersey, the top Democrat on the Foreign Relations Committee, voiced deep concern over the reports and said if the Emirates transferred the weapons, it would be a "serious violation" of U.S. law.

"Such a transfer would also almost certainly be a violation of the UN arms embargo on Libya," said Menendez’s letter.

"I understand that the State Department may have begun an investigation; if not, I demand that a full investigation be done immediately," he added.

"You are surely aware that if these allegations prove true you may be obligated by law to terminate all arms sales to the UAE.," Menendez told Pompeo.

The senator also asked for explanations by July 15 on arms agreements with the UAE.

Haftar's forces have been unsuccessful in seeking to capture Tripoli from the Government of National Accord in an offensive that began in April.

Libya has remained beset by turmoil since 2011, when a bloody NATO-backed uprising led to the ouster and death of long-serving President Muammar Gaddafi after more than four decades in power.

Full report at:



Trump says he is worried about terrorist attacks if U.S. troops leave Afghanistan

JULY 2, 2019

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Donald Trump said he wants to pull U.S. troops out of Afghanistan but is concerned that without an American military presence, the country could be used as a base for terrorist attacks on the United States.

In an interview on Fox News broadcast on Monday, Trump said the problem with pulling the 9,000 U.S. troops from Afghanistan, the site of America’s longest war, is that the country is a “lab for terrorists.”

“I call it the Harvard of terrorists,” Trump said.

He recounted conversations he had with U.S. military officials telling them of his desire to remove troops. He said they warned him it would be better to fight terrorists in Afghanistan than at home.

“‘Sir, I’d rather attack them over there, then attack them in our land,’” Trump said a general had told him. “It’s something you always have to think about,” Trump said.

Even if the United States did remove its troops, Trump said, it would leave a “very strong intelligence” presence in Afghanistan.

The interview with Trump was taped over the weekend, prior to Monday’s truck bomb attack by Taliban Islamist fighters that killed six people and wounded 105 in Kabul.

U.S. special peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad held a seventh round of peace talks on Monday with the Taliban in Qatar, aimed at bringing the 18-year-old war to an end.

The focus of the peace talks has been a Taliban demand that foreign forces leave and a U.S. demand for a guarantee that Afghanistan will not be used as a base for attacks elsewhere.

Full report at:



Retd. US Army general spooks Trump out of attacking Iran: Politico

Jul 2, 2019

Retired four-star Army general Jack Keane "spooks" US President Donald Trump out of attacking Iran, according to a report.

Keane’s comments on the evening of June 20 regarding how to respond to Iran’s downing of a US drone dissuaded Trump from an Iran attack, according to sources close to the president.

The comments on Trump's favorite TV news channel made a profound impact on the president, who was “spooked”, according to a report published by Politico on Tuesday which cited two sources briefed on the president's reaction.

Keane, who was making his second appearance of the day on the Fox News Channel, said that Trump, who had speculated earlier in the day that the Iranian action might have been a fluke rather than a deliberate provocation, had a point.

“Our viewers may have forgotten, but during the tanker war in the late ‘80s when Reagan did take some action, we actually made a mistake,” Keane said, referring to President Ronald Reagan. “We had a USS warship shoot down an Iranian airliner in Iranian airspace. Two-hundred ninety people killed. Sixty-six of them were children," claimed the 76-year-old former Army vice chief of staff.

Keane added, "we made a horrific mistake!”

Trump, who had green lighted airstrikes, told NBC News the day after changing his mind on the airstrikes that, given a Pentagon estimate that the retaliatory strikes could leave 150 civilians dead, he didn’t believe the strikes were a “proportional” response to the downing of an unmanned drone.

Full report at:



Majority of voters back Trump's decision not to strike Iran: Poll

Jul 3, 2019

A new opinion poll shows that a vast majority of American voters oppose a military conflict with Iran and express support for US President Donald Trump’s decision last month not to launch a military strike against the Islamic Republic.

The Harvard CAPS/Harris poll, released to The Hill newspaper on Tuesday, found that 78 percent of voters said they believed Trump’s decision to call off the strike on Iran was the right move.

The survey also found that 57 percent of respondents were against military confrontation with Iran if the US was not directly attacked by the country.

Fifty-five percent of voters said they disapproved of the way the US was handling relations with Iran.

The Harvard CAPS/Harris poll was conducted online among 2,182 registered voters between June 26 and June 29.

An opinion poll found last week that only five percent of Americans wanted the US to declare war on Iran, amid rising tensions between Tehran and Washington.

Tensions have been running high between the two countries since Washington’s decision in May last year to abandon the 2015 Iran nuclear deal and reimpose sanctions on Tehran as part of a “maximum pressure” campaign aimed at forcing it to renegotiate a new deal that addresses its ballistic missile program and regional influence as well.

The US has also sent warships, bombers and additional troops to the region in the wake of suspicious tanker attacks in the Sea of Oman, which it has blamed on Iran without providing evidence.

Tensions between Washington and Tehran hit a new high after Iran shot down a US surveillance drone on June 20 following its violation of Iranian airspace.

The US president said a day later that he had ordered and then reversed a decision to strike Iran after the drone incident, claiming that he had learned 10 minutes before the US strike that 150 Iranians would die as a result.

Full report at:



South Asia


Six killed, 51 schoolchildren injured in Taliban attack on Kabul

July 1, 2019

Kabul, Afghanistan (CNN)At least six people were killed and 116 more were wounded during a Taliban attack in the Afghan capital of Kabul, authorities said Monday.

The Taliban targeted the Afghan Ministry of Defense logistics center at around 8:55 a.m. local time with a car bomb followed by a ground assault, Interior Ministry spokesman Nasrat Rahimi said.

Officials said 51 schoolchildren were among the injured. Five schools were damaged in the attack, an Education Ministry spokesman said.

Security forces waged an eight-hour gun battle with insurgents before the attack was neutralized. All five of the fighters who had attacked the logistics center were killed, Rahimi said.

The logistics center is in an area that houses a number of government offices and a local TV station.

The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack in Kabul, which took place just days after a new round of peace talks with the US got underway in Qatar.

The conflict has spanned some 18 years and three US administrations, and has cost more than 2,400 American lives and billions of US dollars.

More Afghan civilians were killed in the conflict in 2018 than at any time since the United Nations began keeping records in 2009, according to a UN report released in February. The report said 3,804 people died in 2018, including 927 children.



Easter blasts: Sri Lanka arrests ex-police chief, former defence secretary

Jul 3, 2019

COLOMBO: Sri Lanka’s former defence secretary Hemasiri Fernando and suspended police chief Pujith Jayasundera were arrested on Tuesday, a day after the attorney general instructed the authorities to charge them for their failure to prevent the Easter terror attacks that claimed 258 lives.

Jayasundera and Fernando were suspended by President Maithripala Sirisena for their alleged inaction on the intelligence shared by India, which warned of an impending attack by Islamic militants, and thereby, failing to prevent the serial blasts on April 21.

Police Spokesperson SP Ruwan Gunasekara said a group of CID officials arrested Fernando, who was earlier admitted to a hospital.

He was issued notice on Tuesday to appear before the CID to record a statement over the Easter Sunday attacks. However, he fell ill and was admitted to the Police Hospital. The CID officers visited the hospital and questioned him and later arrested him, the Colombo Gazette reported. In a letter to acting police chief Chandana Wickremaratne, Attorney General Dappula de Livera on Monday said the duo should be tried for “grave crimes against humanity” for their failure to prevent the bombings.

Full report at:



ANA Territorial Force seizes large cache of weapons, munitions of Taliban in Faryab

02 Jul 2019

The soldiers of the Afghan National Army Territorial Force confiscated a large cache of weapons and munitions of Taliban in Faryab.

The informed military officials said Tuesday that the ANA Territorial Force confiscated the weapons and munitions in Pashtun Kot district.

The officials further added the security forces identified the cache with the help of Qata Qala villagers.

The cache included 2500 Dushka rounds, 200 ZPU rounds, 6 land mines, one flame thrower, half kg explosives, 2 missile, 1 BM12, 1 anti-vehicle mine, 500 rounds of machine gun and 30 AGS rounds.

The Taliban group has not commented regarding the confiscation of weapons and munitions cache so far.

The security situation in northern Faryab province has deteriorated during the recent years.

Taliban militants are active in some districts of Faryab and often conduct terrorist related activities.

Full report at:



Special Forces arrest irresponsible armed men in Kabul, seize their weapons, ammunition

03 Jul 2019

The Special Forces of the Afghan National Police arrested three irresponsible armen men during an operation in Kabul.

The Ministry of Interior (MoI) in a statement said Wednesday that the Special Forces arrested the armed men in 8th district of Kabul city.

The statement further added that the Special Forces seized 4 Ak-47 rifles, 20 Ak-47 ammunition magazines, 2 pistols, a Toyota Land Cruiser vehicle and some other military kits.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Interior said the security forces are busy conducting operations to round up irresponsible armed individuals in Kabul city.

Full report at:



Special Forces kill Taliban’s shadow district Chief, his 9 fighters in Faryab

03 Jul 2019

The Afghan Special Forces killed the shadow district Chief of Taliban for Andkhoi district of Faryab province.

The 209th Shaheen Corps said in a statement that the Special Forces killed Mullah Raz Mohammad, the shadow district Chief of Taliban for Andkhoi district.

The statement further added that the Special Forces killed Mullah Raz Mohammad during an operation in Jat Kok Village.

Full report at:



Afghan gov't claims killing 151 militants in 24 hours


At least 151 Taliban militants were killed in counter-terrorism operations during the past 24 hours across Afghanistan, said a Defense Ministry statement on Tuesday.

According to the ministry, the Afghan security forces conducted 14 joint operations and 89 special tasks to suppress the militant groups besides 24 airstrikes to support the ground forces.

The operations were carried out in Faryab, Badghis, Paktiya, Maidan Wardak, Ghazni, Takhar, Helmand, Kapisa, Khost, Logar, Nimroz, Herat, Balkh and Sar-e-Pul provinces, the statement added.

It did not mention which militant group they belong to but the Taliban is mostly active in the provinces where the operations were conducted.

In a counter statement, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahed said in a social media post that they carried out 45 attacks in different parts of the country, killing 98 members of the Afghan security forces.

Anadolu Agency could not independently verify the authenticity of the Taliban's claim.

This came a day after officials in Kabul confirmed three people were killed and over 100 more, including nearly 50 school children, got injured in a Taliban-claimed suicide car bombing followed by gunfight close to a Defense Ministry facility.

Full report at:




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