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Islamic World News ( 23 Jun 2016, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Southeast Asian Islamic State Unit Taking Form in Philippines

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photo: The bloody-thirsty group accused the man, identified as Mohammed al-Kadri, of being a 'spy'

 

Sick ISIS Thugs Stab 'Spy' In the Heart before Shooting Him in the Head and Crucifying His Body

In A First at PGI, Muslim Donates Organs in Chandigarh

Muslim Police Officer Sues NYPD over Beard Ban

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Southeast Asia

Southeast Asian Islamic State Unit Taking Form in Philippines

Philippine Militants Free One Hostage, Seize Seven More

Mob attacks mosque, Muslim man in Myanmar

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Arab World

Sick ISIS Thugs Stab 'Spy' In the Heart before Shooting Him in the Head and Crucifying His Body

ISIS Shows It Won't Be Dislodged Quickly or Easily

ISIS 'Kill List' Names Brits among 4,000 Terror Targets It Threatens To 'Kill Strongly' In "Revenge for Muslims"

ISIL Centres Hit Hard in Syrian Airstrikes East of Aleppo

Defense Ministry Denies ISIL Claims about Death of Russian Soldiers in Syria

Al-Nusra Front Terrorists Sustain Heavy Losses in Army's Offensive in Dara'a

Fight against Isis in Iraq could displace millions more people, UN says

Syria conflict: Clashes as US forces ‘enter Isis-held Manbij’

ISIS remains a formidable enemy despite setbacks

ISIS Oil Ministry Headquarters In Iraq Destroyed In 34 New Strikes

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India

In A First at PGI, Muslim Donates Organs in Chandigarh

SP-Backed Team Says Even 160 Muslim Families Left Kairana

Merging Kashmiri Muslims with mainstream India need of hour: Lone

‘Over 400 Indians lodged in Pakistani jails till July’15’

People of Afghanistan have more faith in India than in Pakistan: Parthasarthy

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North America

Muslim Police Officer Sues NYPD over Beard Ban

To Best Counter Extremism, Muslim Community Leaders Opt For Organic Approach

Anti-Muslim Speech Affects American Islamic Community

1942 Redux: Are Muslim-Americans the New Japanese-Americans?

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Mideast

Why Turkey and Israel Are Back On Speaking Terms

Six Soldiers Killed in PKK Attacks in Turkey’s southeast

US concerned over Turkey’s arrest of press activists

Justice Minister to decide whether to try opposition leaders, MPs

Ankara condemns North Korean missile test as ‘threat to global security’

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Pakistan

Pak Rangers Announce Indiscriminate Action against Terrorists, Militants in Karachi

Two TTP Men among Three Killed In Karachi Encounter

Three killed in Quetta market explosion

'No difference between politicians and us': Fakhr-e-Alam demands better security for artists

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South Asia

14 Taliban Militants Killed In Infighting In Eastern Kunar Province

Afghanistan Veteran Claims Persecution over Topless Video, Peptides

Ghani dismissed top officials from Hamid Karzai International Airport

Pakistan, Afghanistan to set up bilateral mechanism to address border issues

Terror in Bangladesh: Root Cause and Red Herrings

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Africa

Morocco Arrests 10 Suspected Islamist Militants, Including Algerian

‘Disguise: Masks and Global African Art,’ Where Tradition Meets Avant-Garde

Family Demands News of Nigerian Girl Who Escaped Boko Haram

There were African Muslims in Guyana prior to emancipation

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Europe

Germany's Turkish-Muslim Integration Problem

Pope Is Bringing Message of Peace for Armenia _ and Beyond

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau

URL: http://newageislam.com/islamic-world-news/new-age-islam-news-bureau/southeast-asian-islamic-state-unit-taking-form-in-philippines/d/107754

 

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Southeast Asian Islamic State unit taking form in Philippines

June 24, 2016

JAKARTA/MANILA--Southeast Asian militants who claim to be fighting for Islamic State in the Middle East have said they have chosen one of the most wanted men in the Philippines to head a regional faction of the ultra-radical group, security officials said on Thursday.

The claim was made in a video that was recently posted on social media, possibly last week, a military intelligence official in the Philippines said.

The video is significant, experts say, because it shows that Islamic State supporters are now being asked to stay home and unify under one umbrella group to launch attacks in Southeast Asia, instead of being drawn to the fight in the Middle East.

Authorities in the region have been on heightened alert since Islamic State claimed an attack in the Indonesian capital Jakarta in January in which eight people were killed, including four of the attackers.

In the 20-minute video, young men and some children in military fatigues are shown carrying and training with weapons, and holding Islamic State flags. A section of the video showed some of these men engaging in gun battles in jungles but it was not clear where and with whom.

The video also showed three men apparently being executed, but it was not clear where and who they were.

The authenticity of the video and when it was taken could not be independently verified.

In the video, a man authorities in Malaysia have identified as Mohd Rafi Udin, a Malaysian militant currently in Syria, says in Malay: "If you cannot go to (Syria), join up and go to the Philippines."

In the video, Udin also urges Muslims to unite under the leadership of Abu Abdullah, a Philippine militant leader who pledged allegiance to Islamic State in January.

Abu Abdullah, also known as Isnilon Hapilon, is a leader of the Philippine militant group Abu Sayyaf. He is on the FBI's most wanted list for his role in the kidnapping of 17 Filipinos and three Americans in 2001 and carries a bounty of $5 million.

The video was released to mark Islamic State's acceptance of allegiances from jihadists in the Philippines, the first formal recognition of a Southeast Asian group, said Ayob Khan Mydin Pitchay, chief of Malaysia's police counter-terrorism unit.

"This video is not just propaganda, but is a serious threat. We are definitely expecting more attacks in this region," Pitchay said.

Hapilon is known to be based in the interior hills of the island of Basilan in the Mindanao region of the southern Philippines. In April, at least 18 Philippine soldiers were killed and 53 wounded in an attack on his followers on the island.

For decades, Abu Sayyaf has been known for extortion, kidnappings, beheadings and bombings, and is one of the most brutal Muslim rebel factions in the south of the largely Christian Philippines.

The group has posted videos on social media sites this year pledging allegiance to Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria.

The latest video appears aimed at recognizing Hapilon as the Southeast Asian leader of the group, anti-terrorism experts said.

"I think this is a very significant video," said Sidney Jones, a Jakarta-based security expert. "This acknowledges support from Indonesia and Malaysia."

"It suggests there will be more efforts to get people to actually go to Mindanao to launch operations from there."

The Jakarta attacks in January were claimed by Islamic State. ut the attack did not bear the hallmarks of other spectacular strikes by the radical group--the militants lacked sophisticated weaponry and were amateurish in the execution.

Some security officials fear a more organized and better trained militant group could launch far deadlier attacks in the region.

But Philippine military officials dismissed these concerns, saying the video was just propaganda and should be ignored.

"People should not be bothered by this," said Philippine military spokesman Restituto Padilla. "Authorities are working on this. They can be identified, and they can be hunted down."

asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201606240066.html

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Sick ISIS thugs stab 'spy' in the heart before shooting him in the head and crucifying his body

23 JUN 2016

Sick ISIS thugs executed a man by stabbing him in the heart, shooting him in the head and then crucifying the body.

The bloody-thirsty group had accused the man, identified as Mohammed al-Kadri by a dissident group, of being a spy .

The barbaric killing was carried out by a sadistic executioner in the regime’s self-declared capital of Raqqa in Syria.

The man – in his 20s – was left strung to a makeshift cross with a sign around his neck declaring his crimes against the caliphate.

Last week another man was executed on spying charges and his killers then encouraged kids to stone and to take shots at the body with a rifle.

The victim – called Fadi Hamid Hamidou – was also killed in Raqqa .

He was accused of being a spy for the coalition forces that include the UK and the US.

He was then crucified on the city’s Dallah roundabout.

Dissident group Raqqa is Being Slaughtered Silently reported via Twitter: “The childhood died in #Raqqa #ISIS killed it.

“Today after #ISIS executed a man and crucified him kids start to throw stones on him but the shocking thing is a small kid bring his rifle which is for Hunting birds and he start to shoot the crucified man, no comment.”

ISIS has a long and disturbing record of allowing brainwashed kids to take part in killings.

In March 2015, ISIS released a video showing a child soldier shooting dead an Israeli Arab after he “confessed” to spying.

In January of this year, a young boy with a British accent threatened the UK with new atrocities in a chilling video showing the execution of five men accused of being “British spies.”

And last year youngsters shot dead a line of Syrian prisoners in the ancient city of Palmyra in a shocking propaganda film.

mirror.co.uk/news/world-news/sick-isis-thugs-stab-spy-8270040

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In A First at PGI, Muslim Donates Organs in Chandigarh

June 23, 2016

A 50-year-old Muslim man Thursday gifted a new lease of life to two needy patients after he was declared brain-dead at the Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER) and his organs were successfully transplanted into two recipients at the hospital.

Doctors say that the deceased, a biker, had been brought to PGI Tuesday, after he was hit by a vehicle. He is survived by wife and children.

According to PGI officials, the family was initially reluctant to donate the organs. “After our counselling, the family agreed for the noble cause. Two kidneys were harvested and successfully transplanted,” said a PGI doctor.

A family member of the donor said the deceased lived for these humanitarian values. “My father is a hero,” said the deceased’s son. “In the month of Ramzan, he helped needy people.”

The hospital authorities said the two kidneys were transplanted and the recipient’s condition’ was stable. “We have no words to convey our gratitude to the donor family for giving my father a second chance to live,” said the family members of one of the recipients.

Dr Vipin Kaushal, nodal officer at ROTTO PGIMER, told Chandigarh Newsline that “There cannot be a better lesson in humanity and secularism than organ donation”. “The way public is supporting the cause is magnanimous indeed. We salute the donor families,” he told Chandigarh Newsline.

Of late, there has been an increase in organ donation cases at PGI. “We are happy people are coming forward. We look forward for more such cases. This is for the first time at PGI that a Muslim family has agreed for organ donation,” said another doctor.

indianexpress.com/article/india/india-news-india/muslim-donates-organs-2872544/

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Muslim Police Officer Sues NYPD Over Beard Ban

JUNE 24, 2016

A Muslim police officer is suing the New York Police Department (NYPD) to stop enforcement of what he says is an unconstitutional policy banning officers from having beards.

Masood Syed, who works as a law clerk for the NYPD's Deputy Commissioner of Trials, said he's had a half-inch to one-inch beard throughout his 10-year police career, according to a class-action lawsuit filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Manhattan.

But on Tuesday, Syed's supervisor at Police Headquarters suspended the 32-year-old without pay after he refused to trim his beard, which he keeps as a Sunni Muslim, his lawsuit said. The day before, he was told in writing to grow it no longer than one millimeter, court papers said, or roughly .04 inches.

The NYPD prohibits beards of any length, though unwritten policy permits them up to one millimeter in length for religious accommodations, Syed's lawsuit said. Syed, who is also a lawyer, claims many NYPD officers have beards longer than that, according to court documents.

At an emergency hearing in Manhattan Wednesday, Judge Kevin Castel ordered the NYPD to continue paying Syed's salary and benefits at least until July 8, Syed's attorney Joshua S. Moskovitz told NBC News. That's when a preliminary injunction hearing will be held to decide if Syed is likely to succeed in his claim that the NYPD's no-beard policy violates the First Amendment, Moskovitz said.

If Syed is successful, a judge could temporarily halt the NYPD from enforcing the ban or require the department to adopt some other interim policy as the case moves forward, Moskovitz said.

The city Law Department, which handles litigation against New York City government agencies, did not immediately return a request for comment.

Late Tuesday afternoon, Syed's supervisor told him to report to the I.D. Unit to have a photo taken for a new identification card, his lawsuit alleges. In November, Police Commissioner William Bratton implemented new security procedures and required all NYPD officers to receive updated I.D. cards, the lawsuit said.

Syed alleges the I.D. Unit has refused to take photos or issue new I.D. cards for officers with beards in excess of one millimeter, his lawsuit said.

A sergeant assigned to the I.D. Unit asked Syed for a religious accommodation letter for his beard, which he filed for in December, according to court documents. But because the letter was still pending, the sergeant contacted Syed's supervisor, who then allegedly instructed Syed to shave his beard entirely, the lawsuit said.

When Syed refused, his supervisor immediately suspended him for 30 days, took his gun and badge, and had him escorted from One Police Plaza, court papers said.

Syed, a Pakistani American, received a medical accommodation for his beard after joining the NYPD in 2006 and a religious accommodation two years later, his lawsuit said. Looking to avoid any trouble, he also signed a required document in 2011, saying he would keep his beard no longer than one millimeter, even though other officers had beards that were longer, according to court papers.

For four years, Syed continued wearing his beard a half-inch to one-inch in length, his lawsuit said. August last year was the first time a supervisor told Syed he was out of compliance with NYPD policy, court papers allege.

"THIS CASE HAS BEEN LITIGATED ALREADY, WHICH IS PART OF WHAT I FIND THE MOST TROUBLING ABOUT THE NYPD'S CONDUCT HERE."

This isn't the first time an NYPD officer has sued the department over its no-beard policy. In 2012, the NYPD fired probationary officer Fishel Litzman for refusing to shave his one-inch beard he kept as a member of the Chabad Lubavitch Jewish Community, court papers said.

Litzman filed a federal lawsuit, arguing that the NYPD had violated his First Amendment rights. The department countered that Litzman could not keep the beard because new officers must shave at least once a year for certification on an MSA millennium model respirator, according to Syed's lawsuit.

But U.S. District Court Judge Harold Baer ruled in 2013 that the policy violated Litzman's right to practice his religion and said the department's ban on beards wasn't enforced uniformly, court papers said. Litzman was given back his job and continues to work for the NYPD with a one-inch beard allowed under a religious accommodation, Syed's lawsuit said.

Moskovitz, Syed's attorney, said he doesn't think he'll have difficulty showing that the NYPD allegedly violated Syed's First Amendment rights.

"This case has been litigated already, which is part of what I find the most troubling about the NYPD's conduct here," he said.

In addition to a judgement declaring the NYPD's no-beard policy unconstitutional, Syed is seeking unspecified compensatory and punitive damages, according to his lawsuit.

nbcnews.com/news/asian-america/muslim-police-officer-sues-nypd-over-beard-ban-n597646

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Southeast Asia

Southeast Asian Islamic State unit taking form in Philippines

June 24, 2016

JAKARTA/MANILA--Southeast Asian militants who claim to be fighting for Islamic State in the Middle East have said they have chosen one of the most wanted men in the Philippines to head a regional faction of the ultra-radical group, security officials said on Thursday.

The claim was made in a video that was recently posted on social media, possibly last week, a military intelligence official in the Philippines said.

The video is significant, experts say, because it shows that Islamic State supporters are now being asked to stay home and unify under one umbrella group to launch attacks in Southeast Asia, instead of being drawn to the fight in the Middle East.

Authorities in the region have been on heightened alert since Islamic State claimed an attack in the Indonesian capital Jakarta in January in which eight people were killed, including four of the attackers.

In the 20-minute video, young men and some children in military fatigues are shown carrying and training with weapons, and holding Islamic State flags. A section of the video showed some of these men engaging in gun battles in jungles but it was not clear where and with whom.

The video also showed three men apparently being executed, but it was not clear where and who they were.

The authenticity of the video and when it was taken could not be independently verified.

In the video, a man authorities in Malaysia have identified as Mohd Rafi Udin, a Malaysian militant currently in Syria, says in Malay: "If you cannot go to (Syria), join up and go to the Philippines."

In the video, Udin also urges Muslims to unite under the leadership of Abu Abdullah, a Philippine militant leader who pledged allegiance to Islamic State in January.

Abu Abdullah, also known as Isnilon Hapilon, is a leader of the Philippine militant group Abu Sayyaf. He is on the FBI's most wanted list for his role in the kidnapping of 17 Filipinos and three Americans in 2001 and carries a bounty of $5 million.

The video was released to mark Islamic State's acceptance of allegiances from jihadists in the Philippines, the first formal recognition of a Southeast Asian group, said Ayob Khan Mydin Pitchay, chief of Malaysia's police counter-terrorism unit.

"This video is not just propaganda, but is a serious threat. We are definitely expecting more attacks in this region," Pitchay said.

Hapilon is known to be based in the interior hills of the island of Basilan in the Mindanao region of the southern Philippines. In April, at least 18 Philippine soldiers were killed and 53 wounded in an attack on his followers on the island.

For decades, Abu Sayyaf has been known for extortion, kidnappings, beheadings and bombings, and is one of the most brutal Muslim rebel factions in the south of the largely Christian Philippines.

The group has posted videos on social media sites this year pledging allegiance to Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria.

The latest video appears aimed at recognizing Hapilon as the Southeast Asian leader of the group, anti-terrorism experts said.

"I think this is a very significant video," said Sidney Jones, a Jakarta-based security expert. "This acknowledges support from Indonesia and Malaysia."

"It suggests there will be more efforts to get people to actually go to Mindanao to launch operations from there."

The Jakarta attacks in January were claimed by Islamic State. ut the attack did not bear the hallmarks of other spectacular strikes by the radical group--the militants lacked sophisticated weaponry and were amateurish in the execution.

Some security officials fear a more organized and better trained militant group could launch far deadlier attacks in the region.

But Philippine military officials dismissed these concerns, saying the video was just propaganda and should be ignored.

"People should not be bothered by this," said Philippine military spokesman Restituto Padilla. "Authorities are working on this. They can be identified, and they can be hunted down."

asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201606240066.html

--

 

Philippine Militants Free One Hostage, Seize Seven More

JUNE 24, 2016

MANILA—Islamist militants in the southern Philippines on Friday freed one of the two remaining hostages they have been holding since abducting them from a resort island in September, and kidnapped another seven hostages, this time from an Indonesian tug boat.

Maj. Felimon Tan, spokesman for the Philippine army’s western command said Philippine national Marites Flor was released around noon local time by Abu Sayyaf militants in front of the residence of local government official Abdusakur Tan on Jolo island. She had been abducted along with two Canadian men and a Norwegian man. Abu Sayyaf had demanded $6 million each for the release of the foreigners, and executed both Canadians—John Ridsdel and Robert Hall—after deadlines for the ransoms passed.

Abu Sayyaf, an extremist offshoot of a broader Muslim insurgency in the south of the predominantly Roman Catholic country, still holds Kjartan Sekkingstad.

Maj. Tan said Ms. Flor underwent a medical checkup on her release. It wasn’t immediately clear why her captors freed her.

Indonesia meanwhile said that suspected militants in the southern Philippines boarded an Indonesian tugboat in the same area where Mr. Sekkingstad is believed to be held and seized seven of the boat’s 13 crew. Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi said it was the third such abduction in recent months.

wsj.com/articles/philippine-militants-free-one-hostage-seize-seven-more-1466754334

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Mob attacks mosque, Muslim man in Myanmar

JUNE 24, 2016

A Muslim man has been injured after a Buddhist mob destroyed a mosque in Myanmar’s south-central Bago region following an argument over the construction of a new religious school.

Htay Khaing, an officer-in-charge at the police station in Waw Township, told Anadolu Agency on Friday, “some angry villagers attacked a Muslim man, and he was injured.”

The violence that occurred Thursday evening in Tha Yel Tha Mein village, located around 150 kilometers (93 miles) northwest of commercial capital Yangon, also destroyed the under construction Islamic school.

Abdul Sharif -- a resident of the village, where 40 of the around 500 houses are owned by Muslims -- was accused of building a madrasa in his compound without asking permission from authorities.

“He was taken to the hospital in Waw,” Htay Khiang said, adding that security was provided for his family members.

“For his safety, we will not disclose where he is being kept,” he told Anadolu Agency at the police station.

The victim’s brother Abdul Shareek, who lives in Hpa An town of southeastern Karen state, said he could not understand why Abdul Sharif was attacked.

“He is a good man to neighbors,” he told Anadolu Agency while waiting at the police station to meet with his brother -- who he was unable to see.

He said Abdul Sharif was building a new religious school at his house compound as an older madrasa in the mosque compound was unusable.

“But he said building such a school is not committing a crime,” Abdul Shareek underlined.

aa.com.tr/en/asia-pacific/mob-attacks-mosque-muslim-man-in-myanmar/596903

 

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Arab World

Sick ISIS thugs stab 'spy' in the heart before shooting him in the head and crucifying his body

23 JUN 2016

Sick ISIS thugs executed a man by stabbing him in the heart, shooting him in the head and then crucifying the body.

The bloody-thirsty group had accused the man, identified as Mohammed al-Kadri by a dissident group, of being a spy .

The barbaric killing was carried out by a sadistic executioner in the regime’s self-declared capital of Raqqa in Syria.

The man – in his 20s – was left strung to a makeshift cross with a sign around his neck declaring his crimes against the caliphate.

Last week another man was executed on spying charges and his killers then encouraged kids to stone and to take shots at the body with a rifle.

The victim – called Fadi Hamid Hamidou – was also killed in Raqqa .

He was accused of being a spy for the coalition forces that include the UK and the US.

He was then crucified on the city’s Dallah roundabout.

Dissident group Raqqa is Being Slaughtered Silently reported via Twitter: “The childhood died in #Raqqa #ISIS killed it.

“Today after #ISIS executed a man and crucified him kids start to throw stones on him but the shocking thing is a small kid bring his rifle which is for Hunting birds and he start to shoot the crucified man, no comment.”

ISIS has a long and disturbing record of allowing brainwashed kids to take part in killings.

In March 2015, ISIS released a video showing a child soldier shooting dead an Israeli Arab after he “confessed” to spying.

In January of this year, a young boy with a British accent threatened the UK with new atrocities in a chilling video showing the execution of five men accused of being “British spies.”

And last year youngsters shot dead a line of Syrian prisoners in the ancient city of Palmyra in a shocking propaganda film.

mirror.co.uk/news/world-news/sick-isis-thugs-stab-spy-8270040

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ISIS shows it won't be dislodged quickly or easily

June 23, 2016

BEIRUT -- Even as internationally backed forces chip away at ISIS-held territory in Syria, Iraq and Libya, the militants have demonstrated a stubborn resilience this week in the face of recent losses.

Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) militants dealt an embarrassing setback to the Syrian army near the militants' self-styled capital of Raqqa with a swift counteroffensive that rolled back incremental gains by troops loyal to President Bashar Assad.

Pockets of extremist fighters north and west of Fallujah continued to hold off elite Iraqi special forces Wednesday, preventing them from making significant advances one month after the government launched its campaign to retake the city west of Baghdad.

And in the battle for the Libyan city of Sirte, pro-government forces besieging the ISIS stronghold were stunned by renewed clashes there, with 36 people killed, a hospital spokesman said.

Just two weeks ago, the ISIS had suffered setbacks in all three countries in the region where the Sunni militant group captured large tracts of territory in Iraq and Syria two years ago.

Seesaw battles raged in Syria's Raqqa province, with ISSI fighters retaking areas from government forces Tuesday. Two days earlier, the Syrian troops briefly seized an ISIS-held oilfield in Thawra and threatened to retake the Tabqa air base, which would have opened a direct line for troops to the city of Raqqa.

The government began its highly publicized campaign to retake Raqqa on June 2.

On Sunday, the troops advanced to within 6 miles of the Tabqa base, which is about 28 miles from Raqqa and holds strategic and symbolic value for the government. It was the last position held by government forces in Raqqa province before the militants overran it in August 2014, killing scores of detained Syrian soldiers in a massacre documented on ISIS video.

The commander of an elite, pro-government militia known as the Desert Hawks explained the government's rapid withdrawal from large parts of Raqqa province.

"It is vital to understand that (ISIS) adopted new tactics to fight the Desert Hawks in this area," said retired Gen. Mohamad Jaber.

Writing on his Facebook page Tuesday, he said the militants were sending explosives-packed vehicles at the pro-government line, and he predicted the battle for Tabqa would be "harsh and mighty."

Activists gave conflicting casualty counts for civilians killed in airstrikes on the city of Raqqa, with death tolls ranging from 18 to 32. Differing casualty figures are common in reporting from Syria's civil war, now in its sixth year.

The activists said the Syrian air force, backed by warplanes from its ally, Russia, had pummeled ISIS extremists after government losses earlier this week.

The U.S.-led coalition also has been bombing Raqqa. Col. Christopher Garver, the Baghdad-based spokesman for the coalition, told The Associated Press tha four airstrikes were carried out Tuesday near Raqqa. They targeted an ISIS tactical unit, a finance center, a headquarters and an oil facility, Garver said. He had no reports on casualties.

The activist group known as Raqqa Is Being Slaughtered Silently said at least one of the airstrikes targeted a neighborhood popular among "foreign fighters" -- militants who have traveled to Syria to fight with the ISIS group.

In northern Syria, U.S.-backed Syrian Kurdish forces encircled ISIS militants in the town of Manbij, a vital position that connects the Turkish border to Raqqa.

As the Iraqi military offensive to retake Fallujah entered its second month Wednesday, clashes continued to try to dislodge ISIS militants from besieged neighborhoods.

Iraqi special forces pushed into the center of the city last week and retook a government compound and the central hospital. Officials said they are still working to secure the territory.

At the central hospital, Corp. Ahmad Ahmad warned that only parts of the first floor were fully cleared of homemade bombs because teams specializing in defusing the explosives are in short supply and have been mostly deployed to help troops on the front lines.

Ahmad said his forces had not preformed house-to-house searches in surrounding buildings, including the Khalifa Mosque along Fallujah's main highway.

"Right now, we are focusing on clearing the roads," he said, adding that the painstaking process of searching buildings would require more troops and risk greater casualties.

Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said Friday that Fallujah had "returned to the embrace of the nation," and that remaining ISIS pockets would be "cleaned out within hours." Clashes have persisted, however, with militants holed up in dense residential neighborhoods along the city's northern edge.

On Tuesday, the U.S.-led coalition said only a third of Fallujah has been "cleared," and other parts remain contested. Iraqi commanders say 80 percent of the city is under their control.

Fallujah is one of the last ISIS strongholds in Iraq. At the height of its power, the group held nearly a third of the country, but a string of territorial losses has left only pockets of territory in Iraq's north and west under ISIS control. The second- largest city of Mosul is the group's last remaining urban holdout.

In Libya's coastal city of Sirte, fierce fighting with ISIS militants killed 36 militiamen aligned with the U.N.-brokered government. The militias, mainly from the western town of Misrata, have been battling since May to try to take full control of Sirte, the last bastion of ISIS in the North African country.

After a rapid advance into the city, the militias were slowed by a series of ISIS suicide bombings.

Along with the 36 militiamen killed, mostly in direct gun battles, about 140 were wounded, said Misrata hospital spokesman Abdel-Aziz Essa.

ISIS fighters reportedly have hunkered down at their headquarters in the sprawling Ouagadougou convention center built by the late dictator Muammar Qaddafi. Sirte was Qaddafi's birthplace and the place where he fled during the 2011 civil war, when Libyan rebels backed by NATO warplanes forced him out of the capital of Tripoli.

cbsnews.com/news/isis-offense-syria-iraq-libya-bombs-raqqa-fallujah-sirte/

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ISIS 'kill list' names Brits among 4,000 terror targets it threatens to 'kill strongly' in "revenge for Muslims"

24 JUN 2016

An ISIS-affiliated hackers group have released an abominable 'kill list' naming Brits among more than 4,000 terror targets.

The United Cyber Caliphate (UCC) used a secretive, encrypted messaging app to post the names, addresses and emails of people, it has been reported.

It vowed to "kill" the targets "immediately" in "revenge for Muslims" before cryptically warning the world to "get ready for the second round" in a chilling graphic following the publication of the list.

The image, which included the message: "O individual wolves out there in the world, kill the cross where ever you find it", depicted a soldier in a balaclava with the word "wolf" in place of his eyes.

The identity of the targets on the kill list are not known, although many of them - more than half - are thought to be America.

Residents of France, India and Canada also reportedly made the list, but it is unclear whether they are civilians, army personnel or government officals.

Some reports suggest as many as 280 Indian nationals have been targeted by the group.

Although the UCC has claimed responsibility for the list, some sources claim the Cyber Caliphate Army (CCA) - another IS linked hackers group - had their hand in the hack.

But despite the scale of the supposed hack - one of the biggest to date - media group Vocativ , which specialises in investigating the hidden side of the web, claims to have found an Excel file online with exactly the same names and details.

They claim no hacking was necessary to access the database, which can be easily found using search engines.

Vocativ say they lifted the list of names from a business platform similar to LinkedIn, which was created in 1999.

This could indicate that the so-called hack had little to do with technical skill.

The latest hack comes after the UCC published a list of names - including 39 Brits - as fresh terror targets on a chilling 'kill list'.

The UCC shared the full list of 8,318 people including their addresses and email contact details on Telegram, a secretive messaging app.

It urged its supporters to "follow" those listed - and "kill them strongly to take revenge for Muslims".

An image it attached to the posts declared: "All world can't stop Islamic State" - and talked of 'Ghosts' and a 'Caliphate Cyber Army' - together with a picture of a lone, masked and armed soldier wandering a battlefield.

It was one of the longest kill lists any ISIS-affiliated group has distributed to date - but believed to be the first the group issued to contain details of non-US citizens.

It is not known if the 39 Brits named were military or government workers - or people in the public eye like royalty or celebrities.

Vocatic, who uncovered the list, said most of the names and the accompanying addresses listed "appear to belong to people in the United States, Australia, and Canada".

The numbers of people listed in each country were:

USA - 7,848

Canada - 312

Australia - 69

UK - 39

The rest of the people listed were reported to be from a variety of nations including: Belgium, Brazil, China, Estonia, France, Germany, Greece, Guatemala, Indonesia, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, New Zealand, Trinidad and Tobago, South Korea and Sweden.

Searches on the Telegram service failed to uncover any list - suggesting it had since been removed.

It is not clear if any of the information published was already available in the public domain or if it had been passed on to relevant authorities.

UCC has previously been criticised for 'taking credit for others' work' in a recent study by data and intelligence specialists Flashpoint.

An article in The Wall Street Journal last month claimed authorities were at odds over whether the lists pose an actual threat or are merely scare tactics.

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ISIL Centers Hit Hard in Syrian Airstrikes East of Aleppo

June 24, 2016

TEHRAN (FNA)- The Syrian Air Force, in fresh round of combat flights, targeted ISIL's strongholds in the Eastern and Northeastern territories of Aleppo province, inflicting major losses on the militants.

The Syrian fighter jets struck the ISIL positions in Deir Hafer plains and al-Bab plateau near the villages of al-Bab, ‘Aran, Rasm al-‘Alam, Madiyonah, ‘Ayn Al-Jahish, and Um al-Hosh, which ended in the killing or wounding of several ISIL terrorists.

In relevant developments in the province on Thursday, terrorist groups operating in Northern Syria acknowledged on their social media pages the death of a top commander of “Ajnad al-Sham” terrorist group in the Southern parts of Aleppo province.

Samir Shartah, known as the “Military Emir of Ajnad al-Sham” was killed in battles South of Aleppo province, according to several social media accounts of the terrorist groups that operate under the umbrella coalition of Jeish al-Fatah.

Shartah, nom de guerre Abu Mohammad Kafrouma was killed in Zaytoun town to the South of Aleppo city, according to the social media reports.

en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13950404000191

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Defense Ministry Denies ISIL Claims about Death of Russian Soldiers in Syria

June 24, 2016

TEHRAN (FNA)- The Russian Defense Ministry, in a statement, refuted terrorists' claims about the death of the country's soldiers in Raqqa battlefields.

 “All the military servicemen, whose photos had been posted by the ISIL terrorist group, its Ukrainian “friends” and the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), are alive, healthy and in their units’ location," the ministry said.

"The photos were gained from the mobile phone, which had been stolen in Russia," the statement added.

It appears that Ukrainian media sources, the ISIL media news website of Amaq, and SOHR were the first to break the news of the alleged deaths of Russian active duty personnel in Raqqa province.

On Wednesday, Syrian and Russian fighter jets destroyed ISIL's military positions in al-Tabaqa region of Raqqa province.

ISIL's armored vehicles equipped with machineguns were destroyed in the Russian and Syrian airstrikes in al-Tabqa-Anbaj and Anbaj-Abu al-Allaj roads and to the Southwest of Zkiyeh in the Western countryside of Raqqa province.

en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13950404000237

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Al-Nusra Front Terrorists Sustain Heavy Losses in Army's Offensive in Dara'a

June 24, 2016

TEHRAN (FNA)- The Syrian army and popular forces continued their military operations against the terrorist groups in Dara'a province, and killed scores of militants over the past 24 hours.

The Syrian army killed and wounded scores of the Al-Nusra Front militants in Dara'a province.

The Syrian army also inflicted heavy losses on the terrorist groups in other key province across Syria.

Dara'a

Dozens of al-Nusra Front terrorists were killed during the Syrian Army’s operations in Dara'a al-Balad area in the Southern Dara'a province, a military source said on Thursday.

“The Syria Army destroyed two al-Nusra positions and inflicted dozens of casualties on the terrorist group in a chase operation in Dara'a al-Balad area in the Southern Dara'a province,” the source said.

The army troops have been engaged in heavy fighting with the terrorists of al-Nusra Front in Southern Dara'a near the border with Jordan since Wednesday, taking a heavy toll from the al-Qaeda-affiliated militants.

The army soldiers struck the positions of al-Nusra in the Eastern side of al-Naima town, killing at least 11 terrorists and wounding many more.

Al-Nusra's military equipment also sustained major damage in the attacks.

Aleppo

Terrorist groups operating in Northern Syria acknowledged on their social media pages on Thursday the death of a top commander of “Ajnad al-Sham” terrorist group in the Southern parts of Aleppo province.

Samir Shartah, known as the “Military Emir of Ajnad al-Sham”, was killed in battles South of Aleppo province, according to several social media accounts of the terrorist groups that operate under the umbrella coalition of Jeish al-Fath.

Shartah, nom de guerre Abu Mohammad Kafrouma was killed in Zaytoun town to the South of Aleppo city, according to the social media reports.

The reports on the death of the notorious terrorist ringleader surfaced the social media a day after the death of a senior commander of al-Nusra Front in the Northwestern province of Aleppo.

While some reports said Abu Abdollah Jabal, who led the al-Nusra Front during the recent battles near al-Eis and Khan Touman in Southern Aleppo, was killed in a Russian airstrike, other reports said that the terrorist commander was killed by an IED (roadside bomb) by unknown assailants during a meeting in the region.

Raqqa

Syrian Air Force fighter jets continued to pound ISIL's positions in Western Raqqa, striking several ISIL sites along the Salamiyah-Raqqa Highway, military sources said on Thursday.

“The airstrikes by the Syrian Air Force proved highly effective as Syrian Army’s ground forces in Ithriyah were given the necessary reprieve from recent ISIL counter-offensives in the Western regions of Raqqa province,” said the military source at Hama Airport.

The Syrian Air Force jets launched surgical air raids on ISIL’s positions in Albu Allaj village as well as the terrorist group's positions along the Tabaqa-Anbaj and Anbaj-Albu Allaj roads.

A large number of ISIL terrorists, including several foreign combatants, were reportedly killed in the airstrikes.

The aerial attacks go as the Syrian Army continues punishing the ISIL terrorist group with earlier reports saying that the group shelled the Syrian government troops in Southwestern Raqqa with rockets containing nerve gas.

A field source said Syrian Army troops were targeted with hand-made produced rockets loaded with nerve gas agents.

Dozens of soldiers were injured in the chemical attack which seems to be the main reason behind the Syrian army's withdrawal from some Western parts of Raqqa.

Four ISIL terrorists, including a commander, were killed in a Syrian fighter jets' attack on their vehicle in al-Tabaqa region of Raqqa province on Thursday.

According to field sources, the ISIL vehicle which carried four members of the terrorist group was targeted by the Syrian warplanes near al-Habari blocks in Tabaqa and was destroyed.

Three members of the ISIL terrorist group and their commander were killed in the attack, the sources said.

They added that the air raid in the Southern parts of Tabaqa also destroyed several other military vehicles belonging to the terrorists.

They also launched airstrikes on Tabaqa airbase and Tabaqa crossroad, the sources said.

Damascus

The Syrian troops advanced in the Western parts of Darayya in Eastern Ghouta of Damascus and won back control of 25 farms from terrorists.

The farms located between the Southern parts of al-Maza airbase and Northern parts of Sahnaya cover an area 500m in width and 230m in length.

The region was taken back after fierce clashes between the Syrian forces and their allies and the terrorist groups that claimed the lives of tens of militants.

The army forces, supported by the Syrian and Russian warplanes, defeated the ISIL terrorists in a fierce battle in the Southeastern parts of Homs province.

A military source said on Thursday that the Syrian army could repel the terrorists' attacks against its positions in Qasr al-Hayar and Quaryatayn city in Southeastern Homs.

The source added that the Syrian forces attacked the ISIL militants' gathering centers in Habarat al-Qarbia, Om al-Rish and the Northeastern parts of Jazal in Eastern Homs, destroying their positions as well as weapons, equipment and ammunitions.

The Syrian forces were monitoring all ISIL moves near al-Shae'r and Mahar oil fields as well as the Eastern parts of Palmyra (Tadmur) city and Jazal village, he said, and added that the pro-government forces later surrounded the region and cut the terrorists' supply route.

Military sources announced on Monday that a large number of National Defense Forces (NDF), trained in the provinces of Tartus and Lattakia, have been sent to Homs to join the Syrian Army troop's anti-ISIL operation East of the province.

"A huge number of NDF fighters have left their training camps in Tartus and Lattakia for the oil-rich region of al-Sha'er in Eastern Homs," the sources said, adding, "The fresh NDF fighters will join the Syrian army men in the battle against the ISIL terrorists in al-Sha'er region."

en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13950404000140

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Fight against Isis in Iraq could displace millions more people, UN says

Thursday 23 June 2016

The United Nations has warned that fighting against Islamic State in Iraq could force up to 2.3 million people from their homes this year, as the battle for Falluja grinds on days after Baghdad officially declared victory.

A loose alliance of government forces, local fighters and Shia militias, backed by airpower from the US-led coalition, has managed to push back Isis militants from large parts of the city in recent weeks.

The allies plan to continue across the country and eventually move against the Isis stronghold of Mosul, the largest urban centre held by the militants. But slow progress through Falluja, after the initial collapse of Isis defences, has underlined how tough the fight may be.

Meanwhile, as fears grow for tens of thousands of civilians who are living in desperate conditions after risking their lives to escape Falluja, aid organisations say far more needs to be done to support those displaced by the fighting.

The Iraqi prime minister, Haider al-Abadi, declared victory in Falluja on Friday after government forces swept into the city, which lies just 40 miles west of Baghdad.

The speed of their initial advance surprised many who had expected a protracted battle for a city that was the first major Iraqi urban centre to come under Isis control, and has symbolic status for insurgents as the site of some of the most vicious fighting during the US occupation.

But although an Isis defensive ring around the city crumbled, large numbers of fighters bedded down in residential parts of the city. Only a third of Falluja has been cleared, the US-led coalition said on Tuesday.

Pockets of insurgents are holding out in densely populated residential areas in the north and west of the city, as the offensive enters its second month.

The last major battle against Isis was for Ramadi, a city that had largely been deserted by its civilian population, but as government forces closed in on Falluja there were still thousands of families living there. Thousands fled, despite threats from Isis to kill anyone caught trying to leave.

More than 80,000 people are now short of food, water and shelter in makeshift camps in the outskirts of the city. The UN says it desperately needs more funds to help them – and potentially millions more – as the drive continues to push back Isis.

“We’re literally talking in just a few months about doubling the number of families who are displaced in the country,” Lise Grande, the UN humanitarian coordinator for Iraq, told Reuters.

The most disruptive operation would be the expected bid to take Mosul, which could force up to 1 million people to flee. Over 1.2 million others could be displaced from different areas.

“We’re trying to pre-position supplies and develop contingencies for all of those areas and we’re doing so with 30% of the appeal that we’ve asked for,” Grande added.

Rights groups and the UN have also raised concerns about abuses of some civilians, who mostly come from the minority Sunni community. Families say some young men of fighting age have disappeared, and the UN says it is looking into allegations of abuses by armed groups.

“We’ve received shocking footage showing the body of a man being dragged at speed by a military truck while a man wearing a military uniform hits his disfigured and bloodied head,” said Cecile Pouilly, spokesperson for the office of the UN high commissioner for human rights.

“Another video shows people being struck with a rifle and kicked in the head by men wearing military uniforms while they exit a truck. Although we are not in a position to authenticate these videos, they depict violations which have been reported to us by several sources and which we’ve previously condemned.”

theguardian.com/world/2016/jun/23/isis-falluja-iraq-displace-millions-more-united-nations-warns

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Syria conflict: Clashes as US forces ‘enter Isis-held Manbij’

24 JUN 2016

Kurdish and Arab fighters backed by the US have entered Manbij, an Isis stronghold in north Syria, according to the forces and a monitoring group.

Fierce fighting between Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) soldiers and Isis fighters reportedly erupted at ground level as the rebel alliance penetrated the city on Wednesday.

The offensive operation, supported by US-led air strikes, is part of an attempt to take back the so-called Islamic State’s “centres of gravity” in the region.

Rami Abdel Rahman, the chief of the British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, told Reuters progress into the city would be slow as SDF forces face booby traps “planted by the jihadists to try to prevent the loss of the city.”

Around 8,000 civilians have escaped since the start of the SDF offensive on Manbij on 31 May, although tens of thousands remain trapped inside the city, according to Mr Rahman.

And there were fears Isis would use civilians as human shields inside the city, which had a population of about 120,000 before the start of Syria's civil war in 2011.

Recent strikes in the vicinity of Manbij have targeted headquarters, training bases and ammunition stores held by Isis.

The US-led coalition has been accused of killing at least 15 civilians – including three children – in air strikes on the Isis-controlled territory in Syria’s Aleppo province, near to the Turkish border.

“There is still a civilian population, there are [Isis fighters] in defensive areas and the Syrian Democratic Forces are moving closer to them,“ British Army Major General Doug Chalmers, deputy commander for strategy and sustainment with the US-led coalition, told reporters in Washington via video link.

The forces encountered improvised explosive devices and rocket positions, the official said, as they tried to cut off an area that provides the militants with their main access route to the outside world.

Major-General Chalmers said the SDF fighters were in conflict in western districts of the city.

“The reporting I've had puts them on the edge and the outskirts for some areas which I describe as the outer of the city rather than city proper,” he said.

If successful, the SDF offensive could pave the way for an assault on their Syrian capital Raqqa.

The SDF managed to encircle the city on June 10 but its advance slowed as Isis fought back with almost daily suicide bombings among other attacks.

Isis has held the city of Manbij since 2014, the year the militant group seized control of large parts of Syria and neighbouring Iraq and declared its “caliphate”.

Formed in October 2015, the 25,000-strong SDF is dominated by the powerful Kurdish People's Protection Units and includes an Arab contingent that has been steadily growing to around 5,000 fighters.

As well as air support, coalition countries have provided ground advisors to the SDF, including about 200 US special forces.

independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/syria-conflict-clashes-as-us-forces-enter-isis-held-manbij-a7098951.html

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ISIS remains a formidable enemy despite setbacks

June 23, 2016

(CNN)ISIS seems to be on the defensive across the Middle East -- from its self-declared capital of Raqqa in Syria to the strategically important Iraqi city of Falluja.

Governments and rebel groups are making concerted efforts to regain key territory lost to the jihadist group, but ISIS remains a formidable enemy, according to the top U.S. intelligence chief.

CIA director warns of growing ISIS threat

CIA director warns of growing ISIS threat 03:07

"Unfortunately, despite all our progress against ISIL (ISIS) on the battlefield and in the financial realm, our efforts have not reduced the group's terrorism capability and global reach," CIA Director John Brennan recently told Congress.

Brennan noted that ISIS has lost "large stretches" of territory in Iraq and Syria, has experienced a reduction of finances, and has struggled to replenish its ranks as fewer foreign fighters have been traveling to those countries.

But ISIS still has about 18,000 to 22,000 fighters in Iraq and Syria, he said.

"We need to take away their safe haven," Brennan said, noting these areas provide the terror group with the ability to train operatives and generate revenue.

So what is the latest picture across the region?

Iraq

In a symbolic victory, troops from the Iraqi Federal Police raised the national flag over the Falluja mayor's office Friday. The move came nearly four weeks after the start of a U.S.-backed offensive to liberate the city, the last major ISIS foothold in Iraq's Anbar province.

And almost a week later, Falluja's neighborhoods have been retaken and cleared of any ISIS presence, with only al-Jolan in the northeast -- about 10% to 15% of the city -- yet to be liberated, according to Brig. Gen. Yahya Rasool, spokesman for the Iraqi Joint Operations Command.

Units from Iraqi counterterrorism forces, federal police and Iraqi air force are conducting military operations in al-Jolan and will soon retake that neighborhood and declare the entire city recaptured, Rasool added.

But it's been a fierce campaign, with fighting taking place street by street. And bombs remain, even if most ISIS fighters have been driven from the city.

Iraqi troops retaking Falluja as refugee crisis worsens

Iraqi troops retaking Falluja as refugee crisis worsens 02:35

Many houses are booby-trapped, forcing Iraqi forces to move slowly and methodically to clear improvised explosive devices, or IEDs. "They don't leave any house without first rigging it with explosives," one counterterrorism member told CNN.

Despite the optimism from senior commanders, it may be some time before Falluja is safe -- and even longer before residents can move back to the rubble that was their home.

Millions driven from Iraq's tormented lands

Almost 14,000 families (up to 84,000 individuals) may have left Falluja and surrounding areas alone since the government offensive to retake the city began May 23, according to the U.N. refugee agency.

Syria

Both Syrian forces in the south, and U.S.-backed Kurds from the north, are zeroing in on Raqqa.

Raqqa is going to be a tougher nut to crack than Mosul, said retired Gen. David Petraeus, referring to the major Iraqi city across the border that ISIS has occupied since 2014.

Syria is "incomparably more complex" than anything he has "ever seen or studied," said Petraeus, who formerly led coalition forces in both Iraq and Afghanistan.

"There are so many different factions now. There are so many different sides to this."

The fight against ISIS here is complicated by the damage wrought by U.S. coalition and Russian airstrikes, which invariably take the very lives they are trying to protect.

On Tuesday, at least 34 civilians were killed in airstrikes on Raqqa, with dozens more injured, according to the London-based monitoring group Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

And ISIS is "very much underground now" in places such as Mosul and Raqqa, Petraeus told CNN national security analyst Peter Bergen.

"They are getting hammered when they pop their heads up; they get hammered if they get in a convoy."

Meanwhile, a U.S.-backed alliance of Kurdish and Arab militias has entered the city of Manbij, northwest of Raqqa, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights told CNN on Thursday.

U.S. officials say Manbij is a strategic supply point and the main hub for ISIS between Raqqa and Turkey.

The coalition force, supported by airstrikes from U.S. warplanes, has encountered fierce resistance while advancing, the observatory said.

Libya

Beyond Iraq and Syria, Brennan said ISIS' growing presence in Libya presents another significant challenge.

"The branch in Libya is probably the most developed and the most dangerous," he said, echoing concerns by other security officials that Libya's proximity to Europe is a problem.

"We assess that it is trying to increase its influence in Africa and to plot attacks in the region and in Europe."

This month, Libyan forces loyal to the U.N.-backed unity government retook parts of the port city of Sirte from ISIS militants, gaining ground in the extremist group's most significant stronghold outside Syria and Iraq. The offensive lasted almost two weeks and left more than 100 fighters dead and about 400 others wounded.

ISIS on Europe's doorstep

However, Libyan forces have encountered fierce resistance since, including three suicide car bombings. One detonated near a field hospital in Sirte, according to the media wing of Al-Bunyan al-Marsous, a military offensive led by Libyan forces from Misrata.

The Pentagon has acknowledged small teams of U.S. special operations forces are on the ground in Libya, establishing relationships with local forces battling ISIS.

Brennan told Congress that ISIS has about 5,000 to 8,000 fighters inside Libya.

In remarkably blunt testimony, President Barack Obama's nominee to command U.S. forces in Africa said Tuesday that more ground troops were needed in Libya to fight ISIS and agreed the current strategy of not bombing the terror group's affiliate there "makes no sense."

When asked by Sen. John McCain whether the United States had a strategy for Libya, Marine Corps Lt. Gen. Thomas Waldhauser said he didn't know about one.

The United States has conducted airstrikes against ISIS in Libya, including one in February that killed more than 40 operatives of the terror group, but Washington has since held off on additional strikes.

edition.cnn.com/2016/06/23/middleeast/isis-iraq-syria-libya/

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ISIS Oil Ministry Headquarters In Iraq Destroyed In 34 New Strikes

Jun 23, 2016

Twelve ground and air strikes in Syria and 22 in Iraq, conducted by the United States-led coalition against the Islamic State, targeted the terrorist organization’s lucrative oil and natural gas infrastructure and other sensitive assets on June 22nd, according to a press release by the United States Central Command.

A strike surrounding Mosul, Iraq destroyed ISIS’ ministry of oil headquarters, along with tunnel entrances and vehicles.

"Near Mosul, eight strikes struck six separate [ISIS] tactical units, an [ISIS] ministry of oil headquarters, and an [ISIS] factory and destroyed three ISIL vehicles, two ISIL weapons caches, 10 [ISIS] assembly areas, two [ISIS] command and control nodes, and an [ISIS] tunnel entrance,” the release said.

So far, one-third of Fallujah, the first Iraqi city to fall to ISIS in January 2014, has been cleared of the terrorist group’s fighters due to the efforts of the Iraqi government and its supporters, according to spokesman Matthew Allen from the U.S. Department of Defense.

"The rest of the city remains contested and we will continue to support the government of Iraq in eliminating ISIL from Fallujah," Allen added, according to Al Jazeera. "[The battle] has been and will continue to be a difficult fight.”

Fallujah’s oil facilities were recaptured earlier in June.

In Baghdad, attacks against oil assets have been ramping up in response to the slow-moving success of the Fallujah offensive.

Twenty-four people perished from Islamic State-claimed twin bombings in the Iraqi capital earlier this month, two weeks after strategic military activity that was designed to repatriate Fallujah and save its residents.

The Iraqi military’s offensive against ISIS-controlled Falluja began on May 23rd, after the hardline Sunni group’s forces launched a string of sectarian attacks in Shiite districts of Baghdad. In early June, troops encircled and besieged the city in preparation of advancement inside the occupied territory, which began soon after.

oilprice.com/Latest-Energy-News/World-News/ISIS-Oil-Ministry-Headquarters-In-Iraq-Destroyed-In-34-New-Strikes.html

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India

In A First at PGI, Muslim Donates Organs in Chandigarh

June 23, 2016

A 50-year-old Muslim man Thursday gifted a new lease of life to two needy patients after he was declared brain-dead at the Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER) and his organs were successfully transplanted into two recipients at the hospital.

Doctors say that the deceased, a biker, had been brought to PGI Tuesday, after he was hit by a vehicle. He is survived by wife and children.

According to PGI officials, the family was initially reluctant to donate the organs. “After our counselling, the family agreed for the noble cause. Two kidneys were harvested and successfully transplanted,” said a PGI doctor.

A family member of the donor said the deceased lived for these humanitarian values. “My father is a hero,” said the deceased’s son. “In the month of Ramzan, he helped needy people.”

The hospital authorities said the two kidneys were transplanted and the recipient’s condition’ was stable. “We have no words to convey our gratitude to the donor family for giving my father a second chance to live,” said the family members of one of the recipients.

Dr Vipin Kaushal, nodal officer at ROTTO PGIMER, told Chandigarh Newsline that “There cannot be a better lesson in humanity and secularism than organ donation”. “The way public is supporting the cause is magnanimous indeed. We salute the donor families,” he told Chandigarh Newsline.

Of late, there has been an increase in organ donation cases at PGI. “We are happy people are coming forward. We look forward for more such cases. This is for the first time at PGI that a Muslim family has agreed for organ donation,” said another doctor.

indianexpress.com/article/india/india-news-india/muslim-donates-organs-2872544/

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SP-backed team says even 160 Muslim families left Kairana

June 24, 2016

A DELEGATION of five sants sent to Kairana by the ruling Samajwadi Party to ascertain facts behind the BJP’s allegation of Hindu “exodus” on Thursday submitted its report to Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav and claimed that 160 Muslim families too had left the area over the last 10 years.

The delegation, which was led by godman-turned-politician Acharya Pramod Krishnam, admitted that there was a rise in criminal activity in the region allegedly supported by local politicians, including local SP MLA Naheed Hassan and MLC Virendra Singh. The names of the MLA and the MLC have reportedly been mentioned in the 13-page report.

“We were asked to look into the allegations of exodus and some of the results have been surprising. First of all, while we found that large number of people on the list actually are living there, neighbours and relatives of those migrated informed that they left for work or education…

“We also found that people were troubled by the increase in criminal activities in the region and various gangs were operating with the backing of local leaders. We have recommended action against them and have been assured by the chief minister as well,” Krishnam told The Indian Express after submitting the report.

While the delegation refused to reveal the names, it said the names are part of the report submitted to Akhilesh. Sources said that at least 11 leaders have been indicted in the report, either for supporting criminal activities or for disturbing harmony.

Sources added that the report has also recommended action against Hassan, besides indicting BJP MP Hukum Singh, MLA Sangeet Singh Som, Sadhvi Prachi. It has also called for imposition of NSA against all those giving hate speeches.

In its report, the delegation mentioned that during its visit, locals spoke about existence of various social media groups that would spread rumours about some family or the other being targeted by members of the other religion.

Asked about it, Krishnam said, “It is true that we found that there are WhatsApp groups, which are spreading rumours of all kind among people. Thus, we have recommended formation of a special cell to stop spread of these message, otherwise things might become worse in next few months.”

The delegation also found that government’s failure to provide compensation to Hindu families, whose members were murdered in the recent past, had sent out a message that it was not serious about their woes. The report, in turn, has also recommended that families of three persons, who have been murdered since 2014, should be given compensation.

“Prima facie, it appears like a dangerous conspiracy to disturb the atmosphere of entire Uttar Pradesh before the 2017 polls,” said Krishnam.

He added: “One thing is clear that exodus of Hindu families did not take place because of fear of Muslims as claimed. We found that 160 Muslim families have also left the place in the last 10 years. We have given our report and will hand it over to the Governor too on Friday. Now, it is up to the state government to investigate further.”

indianexpress.com/article/india/india-news-india/samajwadi-party-backed-team-says-even-160-muslim-families-left-kairana-2872298/

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Merging Kashmiri Muslims with mainstream India need of hour: Lone

June 24, 2016

Srinagar: Social welfare minister Sajjad Gani Lone said on Thursday the “need of the hour is to merge Kashmiri Muslims with the mainstream India”.

Lone, while replying to a question by MLAs Charanjeet Singh, Dharamvir Singh Oberoi and Vinod Gupta on the setting up of a minority commission in the state, said there is no need for such a commission as the government of India has already established the Minority Commission of India.

“I caution that the demand for a separate minority commission will prove detrimental for the development of the state. Better will be that Kashmiri Muslims who witnessed worst times be given incentives and healing touch to get merged into national mainstream,” he said.

“If we look at holistically and with far sightedness there is need to merge Kashmiri Muslims with national mainstream who have felt isolated largely. We should provide incentives to them (Kashmirs) as they have seen a lot of trouble due to violence,” Lone said

In reply to the legislators’ demand for providing Hindus living in Kashmir the minority status, Lone said it is not in the state’s domain to set up a minority commission or to provide minority status to any community as only the Government of India can do it.

“Muslims are in majority in Kashmir while as Hindus in Jammu. Whosoever has been declared a minority has been declared by the centre not by state as state government cannot declare minorities at block levels,” he said.

The minister said community-wise national minorities as declared in the state are Muslim 68.31 percent, Sikh 1.87 percent, Christian 0.28 percent, Buddhist 0.90 percent and Jain 0.02.

Not satisfied with the minister’s answer, the BJP legislators Vibod Gupta and Surinder Mohan Ambardar created uproar and staged walkout from the council.

“Let me remind you that even state’s chief minister Mehbooba Mufti said that state government can amend or create a new law itself and has authority to create the minority commission as well as it is having special status under Article 370, why is not government fulfilling its promise,” Gupta told the house.

kashmirreader.com/2016/06/24/merging-kashmiri-muslims-with-mainstream-india-need-of-hour-lone/

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‘Over 400 Indians lodged in Pakistani jails till July’15’

June 24, 2016

New Delhi: Over 400 Indians, of whom 355 are fishermen and five women, are lodged in Pakistani jails, according to a new list released today in the public domain.

A total of 405 Indian nationals – 355 fishermen and 48 others – are in Pakistani jails till July, 2015, an RTI query by an Indo-Pak friendship initiative has found.

The Ministry of External Affairs has informed ‘Aaghaz-e- Dosti’ (A Start of Friendship), a joint initiative between non-government organisations of both India and Pakistan that have come together, about the figures.

The organisation, which released the first such list in 2014, has maintained that the move is to increase transparency.

“This is the first such detailed list in public domain. This is particularly to help the affected persons’ families, who don’t even know that they are languishing in the jails,” Aaghaz-e-Dosti founder Ravi Nitesh told PTI.

Nitesh said the RTI query was with reference to a 2008 agreement under which the two countries exchange lists of prisoners.

He appealed to the governments of both the countries to release such crucial data on their own so the prisoners do not continue to suffer despite having completed their prison terms.

“It is for the first time that such a detailed list has been put on public portal. This list provides information about the status of prisoners as on 1st July 2015 in each other’s jail,” the group said in a release.

The group is planning to write to both the governments to release those who are languishing in jails due to bureaucratic hassles, Nitesh said.

siasat.com/news/400-indians-lodged-pakistani-jails-till-july15-977337/

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People of Afghanistan have more faith in India than in Pakistan: Parthasarthy

June 24, 2016

Afghan people trust India more than Pakistan with New Delhi making significant investments in developmental projects in the war-torn country, a former senior Indian diplomat has said.

India has capability and interest to play a strong role in west of India, including in Afghanistan and Mid-east, as well as to the east, former foreign sectary G Parthasarthy said in his address to Foundation for India and Indian Diaspora Studies (FIIDS) in San Francisco on implications of India’s regional foreign policy this week.

India has “significant investment” in Afghanistan and “there is more trust among Afghanistan people towards India than towards Pakistan,” he said.

He said under Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s stewardship, India’s foreign policy has maintained a broad continuity, however, the renewed thrust has allowed a much broader consensus in the US in dealing with India.

Talking about Prime Minister’s ‘Act East’ policy, the former diplomat said, “Modi has sought to progressively integrate the Indian economy with those of India’s eastern neighbors.”

Modi has made ‘Look East’ into an ‘Act East’ policy because the fastest growing economies of the world are to the east of India, he said.

indianexpress.com/article/india/india-news-india/people-of-afghanistan-have-more-faith-in-india-than-in-pakistan-parthasarthy-2873092/

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North America

Muslim Police Officer Sues NYPD Over Beard Ban

JUNE 24, 2016

A Muslim police officer is suing the New York Police Department (NYPD) to stop enforcement of what he says is an unconstitutional policy banning officers from having beards.

Masood Syed, who works as a law clerk for the NYPD's Deputy Commissioner of Trials, said he's had a half-inch to one-inch beard throughout his 10-year police career, according to a class-action lawsuit filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Manhattan.

But on Tuesday, Syed's supervisor at Police Headquarters suspended the 32-year-old without pay after he refused to trim his beard, which he keeps as a Sunni Muslim, his lawsuit said. The day before, he was told in writing to grow it no longer than one millimeter, court papers said, or roughly .04 inches.

The NYPD prohibits beards of any length, though unwritten policy permits them up to one millimeter in length for religious accommodations, Syed's lawsuit said. Syed, who is also a lawyer, claims many NYPD officers have beards longer than that, according to court documents.

At an emergency hearing in Manhattan Wednesday, Judge Kevin Castel ordered the NYPD to continue paying Syed's salary and benefits at least until July 8, Syed's attorney Joshua S. Moskovitz told NBC News. That's when a preliminary injunction hearing will be held to decide if Syed is likely to succeed in his claim that the NYPD's no-beard policy violates the First Amendment, Moskovitz said.

If Syed is successful, a judge could temporarily halt the NYPD from enforcing the ban or require the department to adopt some other interim policy as the case moves forward, Moskovitz said.

The city Law Department, which handles litigation against New York City government agencies, did not immediately return a request for comment.

Late Tuesday afternoon, Syed's supervisor told him to report to the I.D. Unit to have a photo taken for a new identification card, his lawsuit alleges. In November, Police Commissioner William Bratton implemented new security procedures and required all NYPD officers to receive updated I.D. cards, the lawsuit said.

Syed alleges the I.D. Unit has refused to take photos or issue new I.D. cards for officers with beards in excess of one millimeter, his lawsuit said.

A sergeant assigned to the I.D. Unit asked Syed for a religious accommodation letter for his beard, which he filed for in December, according to court documents. But because the letter was still pending, the sergeant contacted Syed's supervisor, who then allegedly instructed Syed to shave his beard entirely, the lawsuit said.

When Syed refused, his supervisor immediately suspended him for 30 days, took his gun and badge, and had him escorted from One Police Plaza, court papers said.

Syed, a Pakistani American, received a medical accommodation for his beard after joining the NYPD in 2006 and a religious accommodation two years later, his lawsuit said. Looking to avoid any trouble, he also signed a required document in 2011, saying he would keep his beard no longer than one millimeter, even though other officers had beards that were longer, according to court papers.

For four years, Syed continued wearing his beard a half-inch to one-inch in length, his lawsuit said. August last year was the first time a supervisor told Syed he was out of compliance with NYPD policy, court papers allege.

"THIS CASE HAS BEEN LITIGATED ALREADY, WHICH IS PART OF WHAT I FIND THE MOST TROUBLING ABOUT THE NYPD'S CONDUCT HERE."

This isn't the first time an NYPD officer has sued the department over its no-beard policy. In 2012, the NYPD fired probationary officer Fishel Litzman for refusing to shave his one-inch beard he kept as a member of the Chabad Lubavitch Jewish Community, court papers said.

Litzman filed a federal lawsuit, arguing that the NYPD had violated his First Amendment rights. The department countered that Litzman could not keep the beard because new officers must shave at least once a year for certification on an MSA millennium model respirator, according to Syed's lawsuit.

But U.S. District Court Judge Harold Baer ruled in 2013 that the policy violated Litzman's right to practice his religion and said the department's ban on beards wasn't enforced uniformly, court papers said. Litzman was given back his job and continues to work for the NYPD with a one-inch beard allowed under a religious accommodation, Syed's lawsuit said.

Moskovitz, Syed's attorney, said he doesn't think he'll have difficulty showing that the NYPD allegedly violated Syed's First Amendment rights.

"This case has been litigated already, which is part of what I find the most troubling about the NYPD's conduct here," he said.

In addition to a judgement declaring the NYPD's no-beard policy unconstitutional, Syed is seeking unspecified compensatory and punitive damages, according to his lawsuit.

nbcnews.com/news/asian-america/muslim-police-officer-sues-nypd-over-beard-ban-n597646

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To best counter extremism, Muslim community leaders opt for organic approach

June23,2016

Days after suspect Omar Mateen carried out a massacre in Orlando that killed 49 people while pledging allegiance to the Islamic State, presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump revived a controversial campaign trail talking point. He called for surveillance of mosques, he said, because if the problem isn't solved, it will "eat our country alive." This problem, however, will be hard to find in local mosques.

"Nobody gets radicalized in the masjid, they get radicalized in the garage, in the bedroom, the living rooms, online," said Waleed Basyouni, imam of the Clear Lake Islamic Center and vice president of the Al Maghrib Institute.

For Basyouni and other Muslim leaders in Houston, how they address radicalization is more akin to an art form than an exact science. Instead of doubling down on a topic that the overwhelming majority of Muslims worldwide condemn in a diverse region as Houston, they choose to take a more organic approach, addressing issues that could lead to feelings of isolation, a warning sign of potential extremism.

Many try to address the youth in a manner relevant to their lives, on topics such as how to maintain a balance between one's faith and everyday life, or how to join the political process to affect change. It's the loss of that balance that can cause problems and lead to any form of extremes, said Basyouni.

Khalis Rashaad, an imam with the Ibrahim Islamic Center, thinks the best way to combat the possibility of an extremist mindset is to discuss religion in a practical manner, congruent with everyday life in America, "so people can weave it into their lives, in the here and now." Instead of lecturing from a podium, Rashaad encourages people to ask questions and chime in during discussion.

Since the attacks of Sept. 11, Muslim communities in America have faced scrutiny on a variety of fronts. While groups routinely criticize acts of violence carried out by extremists in the name of religion, anti-Islam rhetoric links these actions to the broader Muslim community. They've also been called upon to play the first line of defense in rooting out extremism. On one hand, counter-terrorism efforts of the past that relied heavily on profiling and surveillance have left some suspicious of law enforcement and concerned about violations of civil liberties. But, many find value in forging real relationships with authorities, to share information and have ongoing dialogue. There isn't a specific guide or blueprint on how exactly to do so.

In the small storefront mosque off Almeda near the Museum District, sandwiched between a gas station and a candle shop, men and women plopped down on the two-tone carpet for Rashaad's Wednesday night class. He sat at the front of the room atop two floor cushions with a Macbook laptop and a couple of dry erase markers. Discussing the life and times of Muhammad, some philosophical detours led to a sidebar on Third Ward gentrification.

"A social scientist looks at this and says, 'what can we do about this?'," asked Rashaad. Perhaps a better understanding of urban planning could help, he added.

Instead of looking at everything through the lens of religion, he encouraged people to look at social issues as well, as earlier communities of Muslim Americans did in the 1960s and 1970s.

Rashaad, who converted to Islam two decades ago, wants the center to be a "safe space," where people can feel free to think for themselves and discuss topics freely. In many cases, members are children of immigrant Muslims, he said, born in America who don't always relate to their parents' interpretation of the faith.

"Nobody's going to check your hijab [scarf] when you walk in the door," he said.

While Rashaad doesn't have an official curriculum for discussing extremism, he doesn't want one, either. For him, a rigorous protocol would be stifling and less effective than one-on-one counseling on anything from financial issues to marital advice.

"I can't see myself creating some strict anti-radicalization program, and teaching from a booklet in my religious space," he said. "That's kind of some of the language I hear that's out there."

A lot of those people aren't in the mosque either, he added. While his plan isn't to track and hunt down would-be radicals in the streets, he wants religious leaders to "really, really come into the 21st century" to better relate to the youth in the community.

That means addressing young people in English, and not preaching to the "oldest person in the room."

Basyouni takes a more deliberate approach. In 2014, his mosque held a two-day seminar about the rise of ISIS and its claim to be a caliphate. His Facebook page mixes anecdotes about humility and understanding with daily video feeds of night prayers specific for Ramadan and critiques of extremist groups such as ISIS or Al Qaeda. In an 11-second Facebook video, Basyouni told viewers that as the holy month of Ramadan winds down, good deeds should increase.

He uses social media to reach out to people beyond the walls of his center, to counter the lure of ISIS and its digital reach.

"Real empowerment comes from knowledge, from being part of the system, part of the society you live in. Not in a fantasy world behind screens," he said.

His outspoken online presence may have made him a target himself. In April his name appeared on an ISIS death list in its propaganda magazine Dabiq. He admits he's made some changes to his routine, such as extra security at weekend seminars and less posting of his whereabouts on social media. But, he said one thought kept coming back to him.

"Wow, we're really hurting them," he said. "It's because whatever work I'm doing, my colleagues are doing, is really working. It's making people turn away from them."

Basyouni encourages people to "find creative solutions," whether that's through interfaith work or by becoming involved in the political process. When people see a little bit of change, when they see success, they'll want to keep going, he said, dealing a heavy blow to the "us vs. them" rhetoric of groups such as ISIS.

One example of community involvement came about in 2015, when some community members drafted their own "countering violent extremism" plan. Nationally, the White House held a summit on the topic, prioritizing partnerships between law enforcement and communities but with little guidance on how to best do so. Critics of these efforts say they disproportionately focus on Muslim communities and ignore other groups that could be radicalized in different ways.

"Houston to be clear doesn't have a radicalization problem, it doesn't have a Muslim radicalization problem," said Wardah Khalid, a writer, speaker, and analyst on Middle East policy and Islam. She was one of the plan's facilitators. Instead, she said, the plan's focus was to "build a resilient community" through partnerships with mental health organizations and more engagement with youth in local mosques. The plan is still in its early stages.

"I don't want to say we are doing enough. I don't want to say we aren't doing enough," said Rashaad of the Ibrahim Islamic Center. "We all could do more to shine a light on this topic, but I think most of it will come through the way we teach religion, the way we council."

Back at the Ibrahim Islamic Center, the countdown was on until sunset. As Rashaad wrapped up, he left the class with one final question. How are you helping in your community?

"Even if you do this in your spare time," he said. "How many people spent three hours watching the NBA Finals?"

With that, class ended.

houstonchronicle.com/news/houston-texas/houston/article/To-best-counter-extremism-Muslim-community-8321719.php

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Anti-Muslim Speech Affects American Islamic Community

JUNE 24, 2016

The likely Republican presidential nominee -- Donald Trump -- has called for a ban on Muslims entering the United States.

Earlier this month, in a speech the day after the worst mass shooting in modern American history, Trump said, “the bottom line is that the only reason the killer was in America in the first place was because we allowed his family to come here. That is a fact, and it is a fact we need to talk about.”

If such a ban had been in place in the 1980s, Imran and Amina Bashir would probably still be in Pakistan.

Today, the Bashirs live in Northern Virginia. Imran and his son Danish work in the computer technology industry. His other son, Danyiel, is studying to be a doctor of pharmacy at the University of Baltimore.

At the Bashir home, Imran is cooking dinner while Danish talks with friends on social media about a television program that is popular with many young Americans.

Imran told VOA he speaks to many people about his religion. One reason, he says, is because he is worried about how some politicians talk about Muslims.

“We are a middle-class family. We want to just be normal people.”

His son Danish says he does not understand Trump.

“I am still an American, too. And being an American is about being together, so my view is different from his. His hatred (of IS) is correct. But pointing to people in your own back yard? That doesn’t make any sense to me.”

Danish says he is lucky to live in a mixed neighborhood and have friends from many backgrounds.

“There is no segregation in terms of that. It’s equal opportunity. And that is what we have in America. We can come from nothing into becoming something great and achieving our goals. And that is why my parents came to America,” he says.

Muslims in the U.S.

The Bashirs and other families show the reality of Muslims in the United States.

More than 3 million Muslims live here. In fact, a recent Pew Research Center report predicted Islam will be the second-largest religion in the United States by 2050.

While some U.S. cities have areas that are mostly Muslim, the majority of Muslims live in mixed neighborhoods – like the one where the Bashirs raised their children.

The Pew study also says a higher percentage of Muslims in the U.S. are better educated and earn higher wages than those who belong to most other religions.

A ban on Muslims?

Yet some politicians describe a picture of Muslims in the United States as isolated and dangerous.

Last March, after the terrorist attacks in Belgium, Senator Ted Cruz, said, “We need to empower law enforcement to patrol and secure Muslim neighborhoods before they become radicalized.”

Around the same time, Donald Trump began calling for a ban on Muslims entering the country.

He suggested that the Muslim faith supports hatred and violence. “Where this hatred comes from and why, we will have to determine,” he said.

Many legal and terrorism experts quickly called Trump’s call for a ban on Muslims entering the U.S. unconstitutional and counter-productive.

Seth Jones works at the RAND Corporation, a study group. He is an expert on terrorism. He says banning Muslims from entering the country is a waste of resources.

Jones also says a ban against all Muslims does not deal with the cause of the problem.

“This isn’t about Islam, this isn’t about Sunni Islam. This is about a very small percentage of individuals who hold what we call a Salifi-jihadist world view to establish a global caliphate,” he told VOA.

In other words, Jones says a small, unusual group of Muslims wants the entire world to operate under a conservative Islamic government.

Jones says a better solution than a ban on all Muslims is to ask those who oppose Islamic extremist violence to help identify people who might do harm

Anti-terrorism experts also note that politicians who speak against Muslims actually help the Islamic State group.

Lorenzo Vidino works at The Center for Cyber and Homeland Security at The George Washington University.

“The message ISIS sends out (to Muslims) is that the West hates you, the West is at war with Islam. You do not belong in Western society,” he says.

As a result, says Vidino, Muslims who used to feel at home in the U.S. may decide to support the Islamic State and act against their country.

learningenglish.voanews.com/a/anti-muslim-speech-affects-american-islamic-community/3387619.html

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1942 Redux: Are Muslim-Americans the New Japanese-Americans?

June23,2016

Sociologist and psychotherapist interested in world affairs, culture, media and human behavior.

On December 22, 1941, two weeks after Pearl Harbor, LIFE Magazine, one of the most respectable, indeed iconic, publications in American history, offered its readers an article entitled “How to Tell Japs From the Chinese.” In it the editors expressed their concern:

In the first discharge off emotions touched off by the Japanese on their nation, U.S. citizens have been demonstrating a distressing ignorance on the delicate question of how to tell a Chinese from a Jap. Innocent victims in cities all over the country are many of the 75,000 U.S. Chinese, whose homeland is our staunch ally. To dispel this confusion LIFE here adduces a rule-of-thumb from the anthropometric conformations that distinguish friendly Chinese from enemy alien Japs.

The problem, to the editors, was not vigilantism, but mistaken identity. LIFE wanted to educate its millions of readers to eyeball and identify Japanese-Americans with a higher success rate than had hitherto been exhibited. Abuse and assault were fine, but should target persons of Japanese ancestry only, those automatically assumed to be fifth columnists in league with Japan.

LIFE presented side by side photos of “typical” Japanese and Chinese and noted differences in noses, complexion, and facial hair, among other tell-tale signs. It also observed

An often sounder clue is facial expression, shaped by cultural, not anthropological, factors. Chinese wear the rational calm of tolerant realists. Japs show the humorless intensity of ruthless mystics.

Today, as Islamophobia has amplified in the wake of 9/11, ISIS, San Bernardino and Orlando, Donald Trump, the presumed presidential nominee of the Republican party, and other mainstream Republican officeholders, are well on their way to embracing the mentality of LIFE‘s editors. One can only imagine the anxieties of the nation’s 3.3 million Muslim citizens and residents, as well as others with brown skin, e.g., Hindus, Sikhs, whose appearance, just like the Chinese-Americans post-Pearl Harbor, might “confuse” today’s vigilantes.

There has unquestionably been an increase in reported assaults and acts of vandalism against Muslims and mosques in the country after every dramatic terrorist act associated with Muslims, whether in Paris, Brussels, or San Bernardino. Orlando will be no exception. But, vigilantism must be viewed within the larger context of American public opinion towards Muslim-Americans as well. The most recent assessment of attitudes towards Muslims living in the US, polling in November 2015, after the rise of ISIS, but before Paris, Brussels, and especially San Bernardino and Orlando, indicated a distinction between views of Islam and Muslims. Attitudes towards Islam were more unfavorable than towards Muslims as people. Nevertheless, 46 percent viewed Muslims unfavorably. It would be surprising if those negative views were not more prominent in the wake of the terrorist attacks than before.

If one wants to use immediate post-Pearl Harbor attitudes towards Japanese-Americans as a benchmark, the evidence suggests that outside of California, where almost 90 percent of mainland Japanese-Americans lived, most Americans considered German-Americans more dangerous. Nevertheless, by March 1942, three months after the attack, 59 percent of the American people supported evacuating Japanese-Americans. Of course, without the support of President Roosevelt and then California Governor Earl Warren and other politicians and military officials, this shift in opinion might not have been so rapid and internment might not have happened. Or if the economic interests of white California farmers had not conflicted with Japanese-American ones. In Hawaii, the site of the attack itself, 150,000 Japanese-Americans were spared internment because the white economic elites who dominated desperately needed Japanese employees, who represented a third of the entire population.

Muslim-Americans are proportionately ten times more numerous and geographically far more dispersed than Japanese-Americans were and do not have a niche in our economy that creates envy or enmity among any powerful constituency. Moreover, 47 percent of Americans personally know, whether superficially or well, Muslims, Arabs, or both. Those who have some personal interaction are far more favorably disposed to them than those who have none. By contrast, in 1942, very few non-Japanese-Americans had any interaction with those outside their demographic. Japanese-American social isolation undoubtedly contributed to stereotypes and paranoia regarding fifth column propensities. Their small numbers and geographical concentration also presented minimal logistical obstacles to internment.

One other factor militates against a parallel between the coming period and 1942: the sheer size of the world’s Muslim population. Internment, or even a somewhat more plausible policy of mass deportation of Muslim residents who were non-citizens, or even citizens, would invariably lead to America’s global economic and political isolation. By contrast, Japanese-Americans’ internment brought no international ostracism.

We are a long way, one hopes, from internment, deportations, or any limitations on citizenship or legal residency rights for Muslim-Americans, though profiling, discrimination, vandalism and assault are bad enough. But, although there are clear differences between today’s circumstances and those existing in the aftermath of Pearl Harbor, it would be foolish to think it can’t happen again. Germany probably had the lowest levels of anti-Semitism in Europe prior to Hitler’s ascendance in 1933. Moreover, history is replete with governments and citizens acting in ways that, in retrospect, were incomprehensible and inhumane.

Ironically, the military setbacks that ISIS has suffered in Iraq and Syria has made it far more difficult for sympathizers to join the fight against the “infidels” by travelling to those countries. ISIS now encourages aspiring “fighters” to stay in the West and be fifth columnists. The resulting carnage is a consequence of ISIS’ weaknesses, not its strength, but demagogues and bigots can argue the opposite and promote the view that ISIS is winning. Fortunately, the Obama Administration understands this paradox, though it has thus far failed to explicitly describe it. The failure to do so jeopardizes Muslim-Americans and emboldens Trump and his bedfellows. The mainstream media must also bear responsibility for describing, in horrific detail, terrorist attacks and their aftermath, while not making a significant effort to put them in a larger military and political context.

huffingtonpost.com/entry/muslimamericans-and-japan_b_10512346.html?section=india

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Mideast

Why Turkey and Israel Are Back on Speaking Terms

June 24, 2016

Turkey and Israel are reported to be on the verge of reestablishing full diplomatic ties after more than half a decade. This will have implications for the Syrian conflict, natural gas exports and Saudi-Israeli relations. The history of how Israel and Turkey had such a deep falling out goes back seven years. In January 2009, at a World Economic Forum meeting at Davos, members of an international panel were waiting to wrap up and get to dinner when Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan demanded to respond to Israel’s President Shimon Peres. Taking off his simultaneous translation earphones, he told Peres, “Maybe you are feeling guilty and that is why you are so strong in your words. You killed people. I remember the children who died on beaches.”

A little over a year later, on May 31, 2010, nine Turkish activists from IHH Humanitarian Relief Foundation were killed during an Israeli commando raid on the Mavi Marmara cruise ship that was trying to break Israel’s blockade of the Gaza Strip. Erdoğan ordered the Turkish ambassador to leave the Jewish state immediately, claiming the raid was contrary to international law and tantamount to “inhumane state terrorism.”

Relations between the two countries cooled severely. Given Turkey’s relationship with Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood president Mohamed Morsi in Egypt, it seemed to be growing closer to groups that were traditionally hostile to Israel. Hamas and Israel have fought three wars in Gaza since 2009, and Turkey has demanded Israel lift its blockade of the small strip. However, in the last year, things have taken a dramatic turn. Returning from a trip to Saudi Arabia, Erdoğan told reporters that Turkey “needs” Israel and asserted that Israel needed Turkey, “a fact of the region.”

In April the Anadolu news agency, which is close to the Turkish government, reported that the foreign ministry undersecretary Feridun Sinirlioğlu was in London to meet an Israeli team led by Joseph Ciechanover, a special envoy of Israel’s Prime Minister Netanyahu. “The teams made progress towards finalizing the agreement.” On June 13, sources told Anadolu that Turkey would be appointing a new ambassador to Israel, as if it was a matter of routine. But there was nothing routine about it. The normalization agreement was supposed to include long-term Turkish demands at compensation for the deaths in 2010, as well as a decision about Gaza. Netanyahu had consented to another Turkish demand in 2013 by issuing an apology of sorts in a phone conversation with Erdoğan. President Barack Obama was reported to have a close role in encouraging the conversation to take place.

Israel has always sought to maintain good relations with the Turks, and the two countries had enjoyed relatively warm relations since the 1950s. Turkey was the first Muslim country to recognize Israel. As a powerful non-Arab state in the region and NATO member, Turkey was aligned with Israel during the Cold War. Several founders of the state of Israel were educated in Istanbul, and there was an affinity between the two country’s national movements.

The rise of the AKP in Turkey’s 2002 elections changed the diplomatic playing field. New faces in Ankara were less interested in Israel and more interested in a new regional paradigm that would see rising Turkish influence. Turkey sought to mediate between Israel and Syria over the Golan Heights in 2009. Erdoğan was shocked by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert visiting him in 2009 and then going to war in Gaza, rather than concluding a deal with Syria. Hürriyet noted that Erdoğan was “personally offended” and felt humiliated. It was in this context that Erdoğan sat with Peres at Davos and accused him of killing Gazans.

When IHH planned to send hundreds of activists to Gaza and acquired a four-thousand-ton vessel with capacity for one thousand passengers, there was ample time for Turkish authorities to intervene, and some members of Turkey’s foreign ministry tried to stop the voyage from turning into an incident with Israel. A Turkish source knowledgeable of the incident says he thinks the Marmara affair was a blunder that Israel and Turkey both caused, and he blamed Israel’s Defense Minister Ehud Barak for wanting to “teach the Turks a lesson.” The resulting deaths irrevocably harmed relations. “It is like a precious vase, broken—which can be put back together but is not the same.” I spoke with former Turkish foreign minister Yaşar Yakış in 2014 and he asserted that the countries have many converging interests in the region. “They are the only two countries with proper democracy . . . they have interest in cooperation.” Other Turkish officials at the time seemed keen on renewing relations if Israel could come to some agreement with the Palestinians and be more flexible on Gaza.

nationalinterest.org/feature/why-turkey-israel-are-back-speaking-terms-16698

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Six soldiers killed in PKK attacks in Turkey’s southeast

June 24, 2016

Six soldiers were killed on June 24 in two separate outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) attacks in the Çukurca district of the southeastern province of Hakkari and the Derik district of the southeastern province of Mardin.

The Turkish General Staff has announced that the PKK militants detonated a hand-made explosive placed on the Hakkari – Çukurca motorway, killing four soldiers.

An air-supported operation has begun following the attack.

In a separate attack, a group of PKK militants opened fire on the Soğukkuyu Gendarmerie Post in the morning hours, triggering an armed clash. An additional team of reinforcements was also deployed to the post from the district center.

One non-commissioned officer and one specialized sergeant were killed in an ambush as the reinforcements arrived at the area.

A wide-scale operation has begun in the region to apprehend the militants.

Meanwhile, one civilian was killed and another 16, including military personnel, were wounded on June 23 in a PKK car bomb attack in the Ömerli district of Mardin, the governor’s office has announced.

PKK militants remotely detonated a bomb-laden car at the entrance to the Ömerli Gendarmerie Post at around 8:25 p.m. A truck driver identified as Halil İbrahim Sevimli, who was passing near the post, was killed while five people were wounded in the attack, a statement by the Mardin Governor’s Office said.

Eleven military personnel and their relatives inside the military lodgings were slightly injured due to broken glass. The wounded were taken to hospitals in Mardin and Ömerli for treatment, the office said.

The explosion also created a hole on the Ömerli-Midyat motorway which was later closed to traffic.

Meanwhile, security forces operations have been launched to apprehend the PKK militants responsible for the attack.

hurriyetdailynews.com/six-soldiers-killed-in-pkk-attacks-in-turkeys-southeast.aspx?pageID=238&nID=100849&NewsCatID=341

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US concerned over Turkey’s arrest of press activists

June 24, 2016

The United States expressed deep concern on June 23 about basic freedoms in its ally Turkey after the arrest of three free speech activists.

Reporters Without Borders Turkey representative Erol Önderoğlu, journalist Ahmet Nesin and rights activist Şebnem Korur Fincancı were charged on June 20 with “terrorist propaganda.”  

The three had taken part in a campaign by the pro-Kurdish daily Özgür Gündem for prominent figures to guest-edit the newspaper on a daily basis in a show of solidarity.

Istanbul prosecutors have asked for the three to each be given jail sentences from a minimum of two years up to a maximum of 14.5.

“This appears to be just a continuation of a troubling trend that we’ve seen in Turkey to discourage legitimate discourse and freedom of expression, freedom of the press,” State Department spokesman John Kirby said.

“As we’ve said, as Turkey’s friend and ally, we urge the authorities there to ensure their actions uphold the universal democratic values enshrined in the Turkish constitution, which includes freedom of speech,” he said. “In a democratic society, we believe that critical opinion should be encouraged, not silenced. We believe democracies becomes stronger, not weaker, by allowing an expression of diverse voices within society and the actions and the work in the important efforts of independent journalists.”

Delphine Halgand, the U.S. director for Reporters Without Borders, expressed outrage at the state prosecutor’s call for long custodial sentences.

“Erol’s imprisonment and these of the two other press freedom defenders mark a new step in the criminalization of the defense of human rights in Turkey,” she said. “We will continue to fight for these rights tirelessly.”

hurriyetdailynews.com/us-concerned-over-turkeys-arrest-of-press-activists-----.aspx?pageID=238&nID=100853&NewsCatID=358

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Justice minister to decide whether to try opposition leaders, MPs

June 24, 2016

Turkey’s justice minister is set to decide whether to try a number of opposition lawmakers, including party leaders, as ministerial approval is required for trials regarding “insults to the president” and “insults against Turkey, the Turkish nation or Turkish government institutions.”

Justice Minister Bekir Bozdağ will have the final word on whether to prosecute 52 MPs for violating controversial Article 299 and 19 more under Article 301. The former article penalizes insults against the president while the latter is concerned with insults against Turkishness, but the minister has to approve the process before lawmakers can be prosecuted on either account.

The possibility of prosecution arose after President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan approved a much-discussed bill that lifts the immunities of lawmakers in the event that they are subject to summaries of proceedings in parliament. The amendment paved the way for the trial of 152 legislators in a total of 799 cases.

Only four lawmakers from the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) escaped summaries of proceedings, while there are summaries of proceedings against the leaders of all three opposition parties holding seats in the national assembly.

According to reports, there are 35 cases regarding 19 lawmakers for violating Article 301. A total 17 of these deputies are HDP MPs, whereas two are from the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP).

Meanwhile, CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu faces the highest number of cases for “insulting the president,” although HDP deputies as a whole again top the list.

Some 52 deputies, including 27 HDP lawmakers, 23 CHP lawmakers and two deputies from the opposition Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), face a total 104 cases for allegedly insulting Erdoğan.

Kılıçdaroğlu alone has 14 cases against him on this charge, followed closely by MHP chair Devlet Bahçeli and HDP co-chair Selahattin Demirtaş with seven cases each.

The controversial bill drew criticism for aiming at forcing the HDP, which is focused on the Kurdish issue and is the third largest party in the legislature, out of parliament by bringing a raft of “terrorism” charges against the party’s MPs.

The bill was also criticized in a June 22 resolution adopted by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) regarding Turkey’s democratic institutions whereby Turkey was urged to revise its law on terrorism “in line with European standards.”

“Even though MPs from all political groups are concerned, the assembly notes with concern that this decision disproportionately affects the opposition parties, in particular the Peoples’ Democratic Party, many of whose members have been charged for their statements under the Anti-Terror Law,” the resolution said.

hurriyetdailynews.com/justice-minister-to-decide-whether-to-try-opposition-leaders-mps.aspx?pageID=238&nID=100850&NewsCatID=338

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Ankara condemns North Korean missile test as ‘threat to global security’

June 24, 2016

Ankara has condemned the launch of ballistic missiles by North Korea, while labeling the launches as “a threat to regional and international security and stability.”

“We condemn the launch of ballistic missiles by North Korea on June 22,” the Foreign Ministry of Turkey said in a written statement released late on June 23.

“The launches violate North Korea’s international obligations and constitute a threat to regional and international security and stability,” said Ankara.

“We once again urge North Korea to comply with its international obligations under relevant U.N. Security Council resolutions and thus cease activities related to ballistic missiles and weapons of mass destruction,” the Foreign Ministry said.

A Seoul-based U.S. think tank, meanwhile, said on June 24 that North Korea’s test of a new medium-range missile could help the nuclear-armed state develop an operational intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) capable of striking the United States mainland by 2020.

The U.S.-Korea Institute at Johns Hopkins University said the June 22 test of a so-called Musudan missile was a “partial success” that demonstrated the full performance of the weapon’s propulsion system, and “at least a minimally functional” guidance system.

The Musudan has a theoretical range of anywhere between 2,500 and 4,000 kilometers, with the upper estimate covering U.S. military bases as far away as Guam.

After a string of four failed launches in previous months, North Korea tested two Musudans just hours apart on June 22.

The first was seen as a failure, but the second was hailed by leader Kim Jong-un as a complete success and proof of the North’s ability to strike U.S. bases across the Pacific.

The second missile was fired at an unusually elevated angle to attain a maximum height of between 1,000 and 1,500 kilometers – restricting its horizontal range to just 400 kilometers.

hurriyetdailynews.com/ankara-condemns-north-korean-missile-test-as-threat-to-global-security.aspx?pageID=238&nID=100854&NewsCatID=510

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Pakistan

Pak Rangers announce indiscriminate action against terrorists, militants in Karachi

June 23, 2016

Karachi : Pakistan’s paramilitary Rangers have announced strict indiscriminate action against all terrorists and militant wings involved following the attack on Qawwal Amjad Sabri and the abduction of Sindh High Court Chief Justice’s son.

In a high-level meeting at the Rangers Headquarters in Karachi, the recent law and order situation in the city was reviewed yesterday, reports the Express Tribune.

Director General Rangers Major-General Bilal Akbar and other senior commanders has decided to undertake comprehensive investigations into the recent incidents of terrorism and target killings in the region, said Sindh Rangers spokesperson said in a statement.

The statement added that during the meeting, it was resolved that strict and indiscriminate action will be taken against terrorist and militant wings (of political parties) involved in the incidents.

Awais Ali Shah, son of the Sindh High Court Chief Justice was abducted on Tuesday from outside a super market in the Defence Housing Authority area of the city by four armed gunmen.

Renowned qawwal Sabri was shot dead yesterday, after unknown assailants fired at his vehicle in the city’s Liaquatabad area.

siasat.com/news/pak-rangers-announce-indiscriminate-action-terrorists-militants-karachi-976975/

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Two TTP men among three killed in Karachi encounter

June 24, 2016

KARACHI: Three suspected militants were killed in a shootout with the police in Sohrab Goth area of the city late on Thursday night, officials said.

They said the area police backed by police commandos, taking action on intelligence reports about the presence of some militants and criminal elements, conducted a raid in Sohrab Goth near the under-construction Bara Market. The raid turned into an exchange of fire.

“The police cordoned off the area,” said SSP Malir Rao Anwar. “The armed men in the hideout attacked personnel of our team when they were

taking positions. The attack led to retaliation from police which triggered the exchange of gunfire. After an encounter, three militants were killed and two of them were later identified as Iqbal Swati and Shah Muhammad who were associated with the banned Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan.”

He said that the suspects had long been using the under-construction building as their hideout for night stay and as weapons dump. They were wanted in several cases of kidnapping for ransom

and targeted killings, he added.

dawn.com/news/1266903/two-ttp-men-among-three-killed-in-karachi-encounter

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Three killed in Quetta market explosion

June 24, 2016

QUETTA: Three people were killed and 28 more injured, including women and children, in a loud explosion at Almo Chowk here on Friday afternoon, police said.

The dead and injured, all passersby and shopkeepers in the area, were taken to Civil Hospital Quetta. At least three of the injured were in critical condition.

According to Deputy Inspector General (DIG) Police Quetta Chaudhary Manzoor, around 5 kilograms of explosives were used in the blast.

The blast went off outside a shop in the crowded Almo Chowk market as locals were busy in Ramazan and pre-Eid shopping. An initial investigation revealed the bomb was planted on a bicycle.

The impact damaged windows and walls of the nearby shops and homes in the marginalised neighbourhood.

"All the victims are civilians. A major aim of terrorists is to create panic among the people," the DIG said.

Police, Frontier Corps personnel and rescue teams reached the site of the explosion as an investigation into the incident went underway.

Governor Balochistan Muhammad Khan Achakzai and Chief Minister Nawab Sanaullah Zehri strongly condemned the blast and ordered police to apprehend the culprits involved in the terror attack.

This is a developing story that is being updated as the situation evolves. Initial reports in the media can sometimes be inaccurate. We will strive to ensure timeliness and accuracy by relying on credible sources such as concerned, qualified authorities and our staff reporters.

dawn.com/news/1266957/three-killed-in-quetta-market-explosion

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'No difference between politicians and us': Fakhr-e-Alam demands better security for artists

June 24, 2016

"The entire artist community is immensely sad and outraged about the martyrdom of Amjad Sabri, and has come to the realisation that there is no one to protect us," Fakhr-e-Alam begins.

He continues, "The problem is, when we raised this question in front of the government, VIPs and higher officials, as to why they receive top-notch security but [artists] don't, the answer we've received is that they are well-known and can be shot anywhere, which is why they have bullet proof cars and police escorts."

In the video, he is joined by fellow artists like Faysal Quraishi, Faakhir, Maria Wasti and Tipu Sharif.

"The burial of Amjad Sabri, attended by thousands, proves that he too was a high profile artist. So, my colleagues who stand with me and many more artists who are not present, we [would like to say that we] are also high profile and there is no difference between you and us."

Fakhr-e-Alam goes on to make this 'symbolic demand':

"Since we're also high profile, we also come on TV and more people know us than you, please provide us with the same bullet proof cars and the same police mobiles that follow you -- with the taxpayers money -- we all demand to be given the same security.

And if that is not possible, then you should return your bullet proof cars and your security personnel to the government, so that we [artists] are at peace that both of us are equally vulnerable on the streets of Karachi."

He closes his statement with an intimation of the artist community's next steps:

"If you fail to do this, then we will multiple our force and we will bring together the media and our fellow artists and take action against it.

So our request to you is, that either we are all provided with equal security or equal vulnerability, because we are all Pakistani citizens and all our lives are equally important."

images.dawn.com/news/1175676/no-difference-between-politicians-and-us-fakhr-e-alam-demands-better-security-for-artists

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South Asia

14 Taliban militants killed in an infighting in eastern Kunar province

Fri Jun 24 2016

At least 14 Taliban insurgents were killed in infighting in the eastern Kunar province of Afghanistan, the security authorities said Friday.

The incident took place in the early hours of Thursday morning in Sarkano district after clashes erupted among Tehrik-e-Taliban and militants operating under the Islamic Emirate.

The Ministry of Defense (MoD) confirmed that clashes took place around 5:00 am local time in Gula Pari area of Sarkano.

MoD further added that 8 militants of Tehrik-e-Taliban and 6 militants of Islamic Emirate were killed during the clash and 5 others were wounded from the two sides.

The anti-government armed militant groups have not commented regarding the report so far.

Infighting the among the Taliban groups has intensified during the past one year and since the announcement of Taliban founder Mullah Mohammad Omar’s death last year.

The Taliban group has divided into different factions since Mullah Omar’s death was confirmed and was succeeded by Mullah Akhtar Mansoor.

One of the main dissident Taliban group leader is Mullah Rasool who opposed with the appointment of Mullah Akhtar Mansoor as well as Mawlavi Haibatullah Akhundzada as new Taliban supreme leaders.

Akhundzada succeeded Mullah Mansoor who was killed in an airstrike by the US forces in Balochistan province of Pakistan last month.

khaama.com/14-taliban-militants-killed-in-an-infighting-in-eastern-kunar-province-01340

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Afghanistan Veteran Claims Persecution over Topless Video, Peptides

JUNE 24, 2016

An Afghanistan veteran whose mother blew the whistle on ­special Forces running a topless bar has been raided over alle­gations he breached official ­secrecy laws.

Armed Australian Federal Police officers, escorted by state officers, raided former corporal Ezekiel Wilkinson’s NSW home on Tuesday seeking evidence he had published secret military information on YouTube.

Warrants served on Mr Wilkinson, a former transport platoon soldier, stated the AFP was investigating allegations he had published information identifying a “protected identity” in 2014.

The allegation relates to Mr Wilkinson posting an official interview video on YouTube showing him being questioned by army investigators over allegations he illegally imported performance enhancing substances in 2013.

The investigation failed to find any evidence Mr Wilkinson acted illegally in relation to the “peptide” substances he obtained from an Australian supplier, to help treat a back complaint that arose during his service in Afghanistan.

At the time, Mr Wilkinson said he had been put under investi­gation only because it was known he was bisexual and had been involved in a tryst with a male soldier based at the Special Air Service Regiment base in Perth.

During the peptides investi­gation, his mother alleged the army was operating a double standard in targeting her son over his sexuality. In protest, she leaked pictures of topless barmaids being employed at a government recreation facility, the Gratwick Club, frequented by SAS troops from the base next door. The club is known as Grattos by SAS soldiers, who did most of the Australian fighting in Afghanistan.

As a result of the exposure, the Australian Defence Force banned topless barmaids and an investigation led to some soldiers being disciplined.

Mr Wilkinson, who suffers from post traumatic stress disorder, said the AFP raid was highly traumatic and evidence that Defence was seeking revenge for what happened both with the Gratwick Club and the failed peptides investigation.

“I was ready to move on with my life minus the drama, after 18 months of trying to recover from my last lot of spinal surgery, when as I lay in a deep sleep, I woke to my door falling in and three AFP in my bedroom doorway,’’ he said.

“They are trying to push me over the edge but the joke is on them. I was regularly close to ending my life but now they have pissed me off and rekindled the fire.’’

Mr Wilkinson said he would be vigorously defending the ­charges which were baseless as the published information was not protected.

He said at the time the interview was recorded, he had been removed from SAS regiment support staff and was not subject to secrecy provisions relating to “protected identities”.

The AFP yesterday confirmed a search was conducted on Tuesday at a property at Whiteman Creek in northern NSW. A spokesman said it was inappropriate to make any further comment while the investigation was ongoing. A Defence spokesperson cited the Privacy Act in refusing to comment on the case.

The warrant sought computers, mobile telephones, SIM cards, letters, diaries, handwritten notes, video and audio equipment that related to Mr Wilkinson’s YouTube account and the video clip of his ADF investigation service interview.

theaustralian.com.au/news/nation/afghanistan-vet-claims-persecution-over-topless-video-peptides/news-story/722e9c88766fdd9444b58078699f8c1e

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Ghani dismissed top officials from Hamid Karzai International Airport

Thu Jun 23 2016

President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani has sacked top officials from the Hamid Karzai International Airport over negligence in duty, the Office of the President said Thursday.

According to a statement by the ARG Palace, the director of the airport and commander of the border police were among the top officials dismissed by President Ghani.

The statement further added that President Ghani has issued instructions to release an announcement for the director of the airport post as well as instructing the Ministry of Interior to introduce 3 professional and competent individuals for the post of commander of border police for Hamid Karzai International Airport.

President Ghani also added that none of the official who has worked for more than 5 years in the airport should continue to his work and should be replaced with the new comers who should go through a transparent recruitment process besides going through biometric process and registration of assets.

This comes as President Ghani reviewed the report prepared a commission established to conduct a comprehensive review of Hamid Karzai International Airport affairs.

The head of the commission Sardar Mohammad Roshan presented the report to President Ghani and said the current condition of the airport as well as the vulnerable sections have been reviewed.

He said the security of the airport faces challenges due to the numerous security institutions involvement which causes a conflict among them and paves the way for the smuggling of drugs from the airport.

Roshan also expressed concerns regarding the presence of fuel storages and monopoly of fuel supply by three companies.

khaama.com/ghani-dismissed-top-officials-from-hamid-karzai-international-airport-01339

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Pakistan, Afghanistan to set up bilateral mechanism to address border issues

Thu Jun 23 2016

Pakistan and Afghanistan will set up a high-level bilateral mechanism to coordinate on security issues and amicably address border-related matters, officials said on Friday, days after violent border clashes left casualties on both sides.

The decision was taken during a meeting between Pakistan Prime Minister’s Adviser on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz and Afghan Foreign Minister Salahuddin Rabbani on the sidelines of a Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) Summit in Tashkent.

Afghan National Security Adviser Haneef Atmar was also present at the meeting.

Pakistan and Afghanistan agreed to constitute a high-level bilateral mechanism for consultation and coordination on issues relating to bilateral relations and cooperation, including security, movement of people and vehicles between the two countries and other relevant issues, according to a joint statement issued after the meeting.

The proposed mechanism will be co-chaired by Mr. Aziz and Mr. Rabbani and with the participation of the National Security Advisers of the two countries. “It will also have a joint technical working group to deal with the concerns of both countries,” the statement said.

The main purpose of this mechanism would be not only to address and resolve issues concerning the two countries amicably but also to prevent recurrence of violent incidents like the ones witnessed recently in Torkham, it said.

The Torkham border crossing between Pakistan and Afghanistan was closed due to clashes between the two sides in which a Pakistan army Major and an Afghan border guard were killed earlier this month.

The clash had started when Pakistan refused to stop construction of a security gate to stop illegal crossings.

Torkham is one of the busiest of the eight established crossing points on the 2,500-km-long porous border between the two countries, which is used by some 25,000 travellers every day.

The two countries also took this opportunity to review other aspects of bilateral ties and reaffirmed respect for each other’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and adherence to the principle of non-interference into each other’s internal affairs.

Mr. Aziz and Mr. Rabbani reiterated their desire for strengthening bilateral relations for promoting peace, stability, counter terrorism and economic progress of both the countries.

The two sides specifically expressed their firm commitment to continue serious efforts towards eliminating the scourge of terrorism which poses a grave threat to the peace and security of the two countries, and the region.

They also stressed the need for continuing joint efforts to promote peace and reconciliation in Afghanistan through timely and concrete actions resulting in tangible outcomes, including in the framework of the Quadrilateral Coordination Group process — involving Pakistan, Afghanistan, China and the U.S.

thehindu.com/news/international/pakistan-afghanistan-to-set-up-bilateral-mechanism-to-address-border-issues/article8768846.ece

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Terror in Bangladesh: Root Cause and Red Herrings

JUNE 24, 2016

The attacks on freethinkers last year, followed by broadening of targets this year, confirms that Islamist militancy is on the rise in Bangladesh. The Awami League government has been denying the existence of foreign terrorist organisations and blames its political opposition – the alliance of the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) and Jamaat-e-Islami – for the upsurge. The BNP and the Jamaat in turn blame the government’s coercive tactics, an argument echoed recently by Toby Cadman, a Jamaat lawyer, and William B. Milam, former US ambassador to Bangladesh.

David Bergman, a staunch critic of the Awami League government, too had blamed the ruling party’s heavy-handedness recently. Interestingly, though, he seemed to distance himself from the patent one-sidedness of Cadman and Milam in a piece in The Wire on June 1 which also joined issue with an earlier article by me. Bergman’s latest iteration is more nuanced, citing multiple reasons behind the sudden spike in terrorism in Bangladesh. The reasons need to be evaluated precisely because if the diagnosis is flawed, the solutions can never work.

The ruling Awami League government’s authoritarian tendencies are undeniable. They include a cascade of cases against opposition leaders and mass arrests of their workers, extra-judicial killing or disappearance of suspected militants, and attempts to curb both mainstream and social media. Although, there are valid reasons for some of these measures – for example, disrupting violent messaging or organising events online – but even in the best cases, such measures always come with a plethora of problems. Innocents get targeted by mistake, dissenters by design, and the response is often disproportionate to a threat or an offence.

While serious and legitimate criticism can be levied against the ruling Awami League, in power since 2009, they can also go astray in two important ways. The critics mentioned above have all argued as if the techniques used by the Awami League government were pioneered by them. In truth, extra-judicial killings were introduced in 2003 during the BNP-Jamaat alliance’s last tenure (2001-2006). BNP was also the first post-democratic government in Bangladesh to shut down a critical media channel, the much-lauded Ekushey Television, early in its last term. The military-backed Caretaker Government of 2007-08 – supported by the so-called “civil society” – firmly established the precedent of suspending civil rights more completely than at any time before or after, as well as shutting down a television channel (CSB).

One-sided criticism

The past derelictions of either BNP-Jamaat or other regimes do not excuse Awami League’s shortfalls. However, when critics speak as if they are the doings only of Awami League, and not part of the corroded political culture, that is partial reporting at best. Apologists for the BNP and Jamaat further leave out, while discussing the root cause of terror, the issue of who introduced political Islam in Bangladesh or oversaw its transformation into extremist violence. That the founder of BNP, Ziaur Rahman, rehabilitated Jamaat in politics in the late 1970s is not an incidental fact, nor is it similarly accidental that decades later, groups like Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh and Harkat-ul-Jihad Bangladesh flourished with the direct political cover of the BNP-Jamaat regime of 2001-2006.

Groups like JMB and HuJi were behind about two dozen attacks that took the lives of an estimated 140 people – nearly 100 more than those killed by Islamists since 2015. Their bombings targeted the current premier, Sheikh Hasina. While she escaped narrowly, top leaders of her party and civilians were killed in the bombing attack of 2004. Awami League’s former finance minister, S. A. M. Kibria, was killed in a separate bombing attack. It is the only time in post-democratic Bangladesh that leaders of an opposition party came under such terrorist attacks. BNP-Jamaat also presided over one of the worst pogroms against Hindu minorities immediately after taking office in 2001, setting a precedent of communal violence.

Furthermore, the number of Qawmi madrasas, many of which serve as incubators of extremism, increased at an unparalleled rate in the 2001-2006 period. These institutes, like Jamaat, promote a brand of fundamentalist Islam imported from West Asia. Its propagation contradicts and threatens the native tolerant Islamic practices that were predominant in Bangladesh’s pluralist society. Jasim Uddin Rahmani, a spiritual leader of Ansar-al-Islam – one of the leading outfits in the latest phase of terror – taught at a Qawmi madrasa. Ansar, and revived fellow terrorist organisation, JMB, have found willing acolytes among madrasa students and graduates.

In light of even this brief history, that revisionist critics can blithely put the entire blame of rising terrorism in Bangladesh only on the ruling government’s heavy-handedness is astonishing. This is not the first time that Bangladesh has suffered an authoritarian government. One can cite the caretaker regime, whose entire two-year period was conducted under a blanket of emergency. One can go further back to dictatorships of the 1970s and 1980s to show that both Awami League and BNP have fought effectively in the past against oppressive regimes without resorting to violence that targets civilians. To argue there is no other way but violence is unconscionable.

If the response this time is different, it is by choice – that of the BNP-Jamaat. Their proxies are certainly no longer the only sources of terrorism: there is also the eruption of a new breed of terrorist cells. However, they have emerged in great part due to the step by step corrosion of the political environment, which began most decisively with the BNP’s sharp turn to the religious right in 2001 onwards.

It matters immensely too that BNP has taken use of violence as a mainstream political tool to new lows. While street agitation and the resulting violence are sad staples of Bangladeshi politics, neither the BNP nor the Awami League ever targeted civilians during their long decades. That changed, however, from 2013. In late-2013 and again in early-2015, BNP and Jamaat activists petrol-bombed public transport, and otherwise targeted civilians, leaving hundreds dead and thousands injured. To pretend that a mainstream party turning to such wanton violence has no bearing on extremist violence today is absurd.

None of this justifies the government’s own failures. After many of the attacks, especially on freethinkers, top Awami leaders have warned people against hurting religious sentiments. This sort of virtual victim-blaming indicates that the government is more inclined to accommodate the existing dynamics of religion in politics than challenge it. The government is hampered by the opposition’s relentless playing of the religion card. One notable incident in this regard would be the prime minister visiting the family of the first blogger victim, Ahmed Rajib Haider. The BNP-Jamaat lost no time accusing her then of sympathising with an atheist. In this context, when a critic like Milam flags the fact that the prime minister has not visited any blogger victims since Haider, but makes no mention of the BNP-Jamaat’s vigorous role in stoking the worst kinds of religious prejudice, one cannot but wonder if Jamaat’s substantial wealth is lining more pockets than just Cadman’s.

Bergman, meanwhile, has argued that Jamaat’s slaughter of liberal intellectuals in the three days preceding Pakistan’s surrender in 1971 has no bearing today. No-one is drawing a straight line from that tragic episode to the current violence, but one must also know that, in addition to the party pioneering targeted killing then, it was Jamaat’s student-wing, Shibir, which pioneered machete and knife attacks in the 1980s. The infamous Bangla Bhai, founder of JMB, was a card-carrying Shibir activist before graduating to full-blown terrorism. Many of the more credible recent aggressors have been found to be ex-Shibir members as well. Therefore, to pretend Jamaat is a victimised political organisation, and not a primary fount of Islamism in the country, is a stretch.

A final apologia for Jamaat involves blaming the war crimes trials, and its flaws, as a reason for the rise in terror. The trials are long overdue, and still supported by an overwhelming majority of Bangladeshis. BNP and Jamaat advocates like to argue that too many of the accused and convicted are their leaders. That Jamaat was an active ally of the Pakistani army and its genocide is a well-documented fact. To argue that their spurious political bona fides should effectively make them immune to prosecution is preposterous. Additionally, one cannot both cite the trials as a cause for the rising violence and at the same time seek to excuse Jamaat from any responsibility.

The Awami League lacks a sufficiently principled or strategic approach to the crisis of rising terror. To criticise it for that, and to exhort it to better governance, would be eminently justified, but to blame its failures as the “root cause” is a gross misdirection. There is no easy answer to battling terrorism. Like so many other places, Bangladesh too has to find ways to combat the rapid radicalisation of young people and disrupt their operating abilities. This is a gargantuan task which will range from cyber-security to counter-terrorism, and encompass societal, educational and religious reforms. Alongside all this, BNP-Jamaat must abandon the toxic forms of political Islam that they have expounded for decades, and with increasing vigour and vitriol since 2000. Anyone who does not call on them to do so, but rather makes excuses, is, frankly, a part of the problem.

thewire.in/44933/terror-in-bangladesh-root-cause-and-red-herrings/ 

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Africa

Morocco arrests 10 suspected Islamist militants, including Algerian

March 23, 2015.

Morocco said on Thursday that it had dismantled a suspected militant cell inspired by the radical group Islamic State and that it had arrested 10 men who were planning attacks in the North African kingdom.

The interior ministry said in a statement that the cell was operating in the eastern city of Oujda, and the town of Tendrara in the same region bordering Algeria. This was the latest in a series of radical Islamist groups that Morocco has said it has broken up.

It said 10 members of the group were meeting in a safe house and planning to rob a mall in the city of Oujda to fund their attacks across the kingdom.

The group includes an Algerian national living in Morocco illegally, according to the statement carried by state news agency MAP said.

Morocco's Central Bureau of Judicial Investigation (BCIJ), the judicial part of the Moroccan domestic intelligence service, has actively tracked suspected militants since Islamic State seized large parts of Syria and Iraq in 2014-15.

Hundreds of fighters from Morocco and other Maghreb states like Tunisia and Algeria have joined Islamist militant forces in Syria. Some are threatening to return and create new jihadist wings in their home countries, security experts have said.

Nearby Libya has become a major draw for jihadists from North Africa and sub-Saharan Africa as Islamic State has taken advantage of the security chaos there to build a base, operate training camps and take over the city of Sirte.

The Moroccan government has said it believes that 1,500 Moroccan nationals are fighting with militant factions in Syria and Iraq. About 220 have returned home and been jailed, and 286 have been killed in battle.

Morocco, an ally of the West against Islamist militancy, has been the target of militant attacks, most recently in 2011 in Marrakesh when an explosion tore through a cafe and killed 15 people, mostly foreigners.

reuters.com/article/us-morocco-security-idUSKCN0Z92IH

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‘Disguise: Masks and Global African Art,’ Where Tradition Meets Avant-Garde

March 23, 2015.

African masks had an enormous influence on the development of Modern art, as luminaries like Picasso, Matisse and Giacometti appropriated and interpreted their startling forms and materials. But what about modern artists of African descent? Do they have a distinct relationship of their own to that history? That’s a question raised, if not definitively answered, by “Disguise: Masks and Global African Art,” an intermittently edifying and generally entertaining exhibition at the Brooklyn Museum.

The show features pieces by 25 African artists and artists of African descent, whose works all relate in some way to masks and masquerade while involving neon lights, video projections, found objects, photography or other typical devices of the global avant-garde. Distributed among these new works is a selection of traditional African masks drawn from the esteemed collections of the Brooklyn Museum and the Seattle Art Museum.

The historical objects are not the focus of the show, but are here to reflect sources of inspiration for the living artists. Yet the most compelling contemporary works reveal complicated relations to historical African art.

Organized by Pamela McClusky, curator of African and Oceanic art at the Seattle Art Museum, “Disguise” is best viewed as a conversation starter. Helpfully, some of the participating artists are extensively quoted in the otherwise disappointingly slim exhibition catalog.

Of particular interest are the thoughts of Jacolby Satterwhite, who creates digitally animated videos in which he appears as a dancing figure in virtual, anti-gravitational mindscapes populated by constantly moving, glowing forms that resemble elastic neon tubing. He fashions other virtual figures as well, some resembling primordial humans made of stone. Seemingly unfolding in a futuristic parallel universe, his imagery is thrilling to behold.

In his comments in the catalog, Mr. Satterwhite explains that his source material is not so much African art as video games he played as a boy. “Being lost in infinite 3-D arenas like the ones seen in ‘Lara Croft: Tomb Raider,’ ‘The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time,’ ‘Metal Gear Solid’ or ‘Resident Evil’ is what shaped my visual lexicon,” he says.

Mr. Satterwhite also expresses ambivalence about racial and gender categories: “I wanted people to think about a strange post-race and post-gender body operating in the world.” You might wonder if this artist belongs in an exhibition that ties him so tightly to a specifically African identity and heritage. Yet, as cosmic visions involving costumed, godlike figures, his works may have a deeper affinity with the animistic worldviews of much African art than it might superficially seem.

Saya Woolfalk generates a fantasy universe similar to Mr. Satterwhite’s. (It would be interesting to see them collaborate on a project.) Her spectacular installation “ChimaTEK: Virtual Chimeric Space” incorporates video projections, fields of colored dots painted on walls and floors, and mannequins dressed in sumptuous costumes of her own creation. Three of the five figures have sculptural heads based on Sowei masks made by the Mende people of Sierra Leone and worn by women. (A beautiful Sowei mask is displayed near Ms. Woolfalk’s installation.)

The tableau suggests a religious ceremony of a highly spiritually evolved race of beings. This archetypal arrangement certainly has antecedents in African tribal rituals but also recalls precedents in Islamic, Hindu and other cultures, as well as in science-fiction novels like Frank Herbert’s operatic “Dune.” Like Mr. Satterwhite, Ms. Woolfalk seems less interested in an identity rooted strictly in ancestry than in bringing into play a kind of super-expanded consciousness for the future.

The historical relationship between African artists and Western colonizers, collectors and tourists comes up in an installation by Brendan Fernandes called “Neo Primitivism 2” (2007–14). It consists of a herd of life-size plastic deer wearing cheap white copies of a tribal mask. Mr. Fernandes thus satirizes the popular fantasy of African art as a symbol of primitive authenticity.

Since at least as far back as the 1950s, mask-making in Africa has been a big industry in which craftsmen produce artificially aged new masks for a worldwide market. African art has given rise to its own form of kitsch, a décor for the masses. But the production of masks for popular consumption began long before that, when European colonizers began collecting tribal artifacts in the 19th century, and, in response, African craftsmen began to make works for the market that were separate from those created for their tribal ceremonies.

Then, largely thanks to Picasso’s electrifying encounter with African masks around 1907 and the colleagues who followed suit, Europeanized African aesthetics became integral to Modern art. That development is skewered here by William Villalongo’s neatly made collages. In several, an African mask cut from a photograph has been glued over a woman’s head in a reproduction of a painting by a European or an American, from a zaftig nude by Renoir to a pinup by the Pop artist Mel Ramos.

Mask-making in Africa has not entirely succumbed to market forces. In 1980s Nigeria, a new form of masquerade called Ogele emerged, in which men wore top-heavy tiered wooden masks carved and painted to represent both real people and imaginary beings. In the exhibition, a series of 2014 photographs by Zina Saro-Wiwa, titled “Men of the Ogele,” portrays some of these muscular players, in some cases posed with their masks off. No actual Ogele masks are in the show, which is unfortunate, as they look wonderful in Ms. Saro-Wiwa’s photographs.

One of the show’s most abstractly evocative works is a Minimalist video loop called “Double Quadruple Etcetera Etcetera,” by Sondra K. Perry. It shows a person wildly dancing in an empty studio, but most of the body — all but the hair, arms and feet — is digitally blurred almost to invisibility, turning the figure into a hyperactive ghost. Here, you might imagine, is the mercurial spirit of the masquerade itself.

nytimes.com/2016/06/24/arts/design/disguise-masks-and-global-african-art-where-tradition-meets-avant-garde.html   

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Family Demands News of Nigerian Girl Who Escaped Boko Haram

June,23, 2016

LAGOS, Nigeria — Even family haven't been able to see her. Nigeria's Bring Back Our Girls movement is demanding that the government provide news of the only Chibok schoolgirl among 219 kidnapped to escape the clutches of Boko Haram Islamic extremists.

"Even this morning people came to my house asking if I had been able to find out her whereabouts. It's outrageous! Some people are crying!" Yakubu Nkeki, an uncle of Amina Ali Nkeki, told The Associated Press by telephone on Thursday.

"We don't understand why the government wants to keep her family away" after her captivity of more than two years, he said.

Hunters found Ali last month wandering on the fringes of Boko Haram's Sambisa Forest stronghold with her 4-month-old baby and the child's father, a Boko Haram fighter who she said helped her escape.

She was flown to the capital, Abuja, for a televised meeting at which President Muhammadu Buhari promised her the best care, rehabilitation and education.

The Bring Back Our Girls movement says no one has seen her since.

Human Rights Watch asked if she is detained. "Nigerian authorities should clarify Amina's present legal status. Is she a detainee? On what charges? Is her isolation, along with her mother and baby, of her own free will or forced by authorities?" the London-based rights organization's Nigeria researcher, Mausi Segun, said to the AP.

The Defense Ministry spokesman, Brig. Gen. Rabe Abubakar, did not answer that question but said that Ali's privacy needs to be protected.

"Nobody is hiding anybody," he told the AP. "We have to safeguard her and give her all the necessary security for her to recuperate well. ... As soon as everything is sorted out, Amina would be made accessible."

In a statement Wednesday night marking the 800th day of the mass abduction that outraged the world, Bring Back Our Girls also asked what the government is doing to try to rescue the other schoolgirls.

"We are extremely disappointed with the evident lull in rescue actions and lack of any progress report," said the statement signed by the movement's founders Aisha Yesufu and Oby Ezekwesili.

It said Ali has said some of the girls have died but most are alive, raising hopes they could still be rescued.

Government, presidential and military officials did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Charities have accused Buhari's government of exploiting Ali and politicizing her escape, for which the army tried to claim responsibility.

Ali's uncle said the last time he saw her, along with baby Safiyah and mother Binta Nkeki, was in the office of the National Security Adviser at the presidential villa on May 19.

"We have had no credible information since, though I am told they are in the hands of the government," he said.

It had been presumed that Ali would be debriefed by state security agents for information that could lead to a rescue operation.

One problem could be that Ali has been insisting that she wants only to be reunited with Mohammed Hayyatu, the Boko Haram fighter she credits for her escape and the father of her child, according to a Borno state official. The official, who spoke to Ali after she escaped and has had contact with her debriefers, insisted on speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue.

Nigeria's military has said that Hayyatu appeared to be a Boko Haram commander and is being held for interrogation.

Bring Back Our Girls demanded the government prosecute Hayyatu for abduction and rape.

The AP has been unable to establish the whereabouts of some other freed Boko Haram captives taken for alleged debriefing and counseling by the office of the National Security Adviser. They include Binta Ibrahim, whom U.S. Ambassador Samantha Power has called a hero for saving three Christian children held with her in captivity by Boko Haram for 15 months.

Soldiers have freed thousands of Boko Haram captives this year as they have recaptured large swaths of territory where Boko Haram had declared an Islamic caliphate.

nytimes.com/aponline/2016/06/22/world/africa/ap-af-nigeria-kidnapped-girls.html

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There were African Muslims in Guyana prior to emancipation

June 24, 2016

Very little is written about the role that enslaved African Muslims played in the history of the Guianas, but for now, we will focus on Guyana. While the reconstruction of the history of enslaved Africans in Guyana is difficult due to the horrors of slavery, and the fact that almost 99% of the archival materials are in Dutch, it may cause some unease for the descendants of Africans in Guyana today. Not to mention the “Whiteman’s burden made Africa into a dark corner of the world” that they claimed was void of any civilization, “Black” Egypt (Nubia), Kush, and Axum were suddenly not part of Africa. While enslaved African Muslims may not have had in their possession the Holy Quran, many had it committed to memory which their masters could not burn.

According to Emilia Viotti da Costa in her book Crowns of Glory, Tears of Blood, some enslaved Africans involved in the 1823 Demerara rebellion were Muslims. An African driver from plantation Brothers by the name of “Bob, was a Mus-lim, and was known as the Mahometan.” Incidentally, Quamina the nominal leader was a member of the Akan peoples. During the trial of the ‘ringleaders,’ one African who testified against them was a Muslim who demanded to take his oath the Islamic way. Also, according to Norman Cameron in his book 150 Years of Education In Guyana (1808- 1957) refers to “two Mohammedans” Romeo and Jason who were ordained by the Christian missionary on Plantation Le Resouvenir as deacons; Romeo was ordained in 1808 and Jason in 1814.

Despite the horrors of enslavement, traces of their Islamic faith were referenced in the early 1800s in several books that made reference to materials written in Arabic found among slaves in British Guiana. In Thomas Staunton St Clair’s 1834 work titled A Soldier’s Sojourn in British Guiana, 1806-1808 he mentioned a slave plot planned for Christmas Eve in 1807.  St Clair was a British soldier stationed in Demerara for three years, from 1805 to June 1808. From his personal recollections, he mentioned that “a slave woman who lived with a young Scottish overseer on a plantation on the East Coast Demerara betrayed the conspirators.” The ringleader was her own father. Based on her accusation, at least 20 slaves were arrested, while her father and a few others were hanged.  One piece of evidence that was presented during the trial was a letter supposedly written by one of the rebels in the Arabic script and addressed to the slaves, however since no member of the court could read the letter its purport could only be guessed at.  This suggests that her father was a Muslim and one with a strong faith.

More importantly, in 1836, two years prior to the arrival of the first Hindustani Muslims in British Guiana, the London Missionary Society reported that Thomas Lewis, a freed African, was educated in England, had started a school in Union Chapel in New Amsterdam. Lewis was formerly a Muslim known as Toby. Toby, the Hausa Muslim could read the Arabic text of the Holy Quran.

In Berbice, the majority of enslaved Africans were from the Congo and Kromanti regions. Looking at the 1819 slave population of Berbice (Table S3.4. Higman 1984), there were a significant number of African-born Muslims in the colony. Out of the total African-born slaves (12,867) only 1,198 (or 9%) were specified and out of this number 235 (or 20%) were Muslims. These were distributed as follows: – 111 Mandingos from Senegambia and Bambara (Mali/Burkina Faso); from Sierra Leone there were 27 Temnes, 27 Fullahs and 18 Susus (Guinea and Sierra Leone); 14 from the Gold Coast, and 38 Hausas (Nigeria, Niger etc).

During this month of Ramadhan, 2016, we would like to pay homage to all enslaved Africans murdered and assassinated during the African Holocaust, and to bring attention to a few who refused to bear the names of their slave master.

Yours faithfully,

Ray Chickrie

Shabnam Alli

stabroeknews.com/2016/opinion/letters/06/24/african-muslims-guyana-prior-emancipation/

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Europe

Germany's Turkish-Muslim Integration Problem

June 24, 2016

Seven percent of respondents agreed that "violence is justified to spread Islam." Although these numbers may seem innocuous, 7% of the three million Turks living in Germany amounts to 210,000 people who believe that jihad is an acceptable method to propagate Islam.

The survey also found that labor migration is no longer the main reason why Turks immigrate to Germany: the most important reason is to marry a partner who lives there.

A new statistical survey of Germany — Datenreport 2016: Social Report for the Federal Republic of Germany — shows that ethnic Turks are economically and educationally less successful than other immigrant groups, and that more than one-third (36%) of ethnic Turks live below the poverty line, compared to 25% of migrants from the Balkans and southwestern Europe.

"In our large study we asked Muslims how strongly they feel discriminated against, and we searched for correlations to the development of a fundamentalist worldview. But there are none. Muslim hatred of non-Muslims is not a special phenomenon of Muslim immigration, but is actually worse in the countries of origin. Radicalization is not first produced here in Europe, rather it comes from the Muslim world." — Ruud Koopmans, sociologist.

Nearly half of the three million ethnic Turks living in Germany believe it is more important to follow Islamic Sharia law than German law if the two are in conflict, according to a new study.

One-third of those surveyed also yearn for German society to "return" to the way it was during the time of Mohammed, the founder of Islam, in the Arabia of the early seventh century.

The survey — which involves Turks who have been living in Germany for many years, often decades — refutes claims by German authorities that Muslims are well integrated into German society.

The 22-page study, "Integration and Religion from the Viewpoint of Ethnic Turks in Germany" (Integration und Religion aus der Sicht von Türkeistämmigen in Deutschland), was produced by the Religion and Politics department of the University of Münster. Key findings include:

47% of respondents agreed with the statement that "following the tenets of my religion is more important to me than the laws of the land in which I live." This view is held by 57% of first generation Turkish immigrants and 36% of second and third generation Turks. (The study defines first generation Turks as those who arrived in Germany as adults; second and third generation Turks are those who were born in Germany or who arrived in the country as children.)

32% of respondents agreed that "Muslims should strive to return to a societal order like that in the time of Mohammed." This view is held by 36% of the first generation and 27% of the second and third generation.

50% of respondents agreed that "there is only one true religion." This view is held by 54% of the first generation and 46% of the second and third generation.

36% of respondents agreed that "only Islam is able to solve the problems of our times." This view is held by 40% of the first generation and 33% of the second and third generation.

20% of respondents agreed that "the threat which the West poses to Islam justifies violence." This view is held by 25% of the first generation and 15% of the second and third generation.

7% of respondents agreed that "violence is justified to spread Islam." This view is held by 7% of the first generation and 6% of the second and third generation. Although these numbers may seem innocuous, 7% of the three million Turks living in Germany amounts to 210,000 people who believe that jihad is an acceptable method to propagate Islam.

23% of respondents agreed that "Muslims should not shake the hand of a member of the opposite sex." This view is held by 27% of the first generation and 18% of the second and third generation.

33% of respondents agreed that "Muslim women should wear a veil." This view is held by 39% of the first generation and 27% of the second and third generation.

31% of female respondents said that they wear a veil in public. This includes 41% of the first generation and 21% of the second and third generation.

73% of respondents agreed that "books and movies that attack religion and offend the feelings of deeply religious people should be banned by law."

83% of respondents agreed that "I get angry when Muslims are the first to be blamed whenever there is a terrorist attack."

61% of respondents agreed that "Islam fits perfectly in the Western world."

51% of respondents agreed that "as an ethnic Turk, I feel like a second class citizen."

54% of respondents agreed that "regardless of how hard I try, I am not accepted as a member of German society."

The study also found that Turks and native Germans hold radically different perceptions about Islam:

While 57% of Turkish Germans associate Islam with human rights, only 6% of Germans do.

While 56% of Turkish Germans associate Islam with tolerance, only 5% of Germans do.

While 65% of Turkish Germans associate Islam with peace, only 7% of Germans do.

Based on the answers provided, the authors of the survey concluded that 13% of respondents are "religious fundamentalists" (18% of the first generation and 9% of the second and third generation). Although these numbers may appear insignificant, 13% of the three million Turks in Germany amounts to nearly 400,000 Islamic fundamentalists, many of whom believe that violence is an acceptable means to spread Islam.

The survey's findings mirror those of other studies, which show that Turkish migrants are poorly integrated into German society.

In 2012, the 103-page study, "German-Turkish Life and Values" (Deutsch-Türkische Lebens- und Wertewelten), found that only 15% of ethnic Turks living in Germany consider the country to be their home. Other key findings include:

Nearly half (46%) of Turks agreed with the statement, "I hope that in the future there will be more Muslims than Christians living in Germany"; more than half (55%) said that Germany should build more mosques.

72% of respondents said that Islam is the only true religion; 18% said that Jews are inferior to Muslims and 10% said that Christians are inferior.

63% of Turks between the ages of 15 and 29 said they approve of a Salafist campaign to distribute a Koran to every household in Germany; 36% said they would be willing to support the campaign financially.

95% of respondents said it is absolutely necessary for them to preserve their Turkish identity; 87% said they believe that Germans should make a greater effort to be considerate of Turkish customs and traditions.

62% of respondents said they would rather be around Turks than Germans; only 39% of Turks said that Germans were trustworthy.

The survey also found that labor migration is no longer the main reason why Turks immigrate to Germany: the most important reason is to marry a partner who lives there.

Meanwhile, a new statistical survey of Germany — Datenreport 2016: Social Report for the Federal Republic of Germany (Datenreport 2016: Sozial-bericht für die Bundesrepublik Deutschland) — shows that ethnic Turks are economically and educationally less successful than other immigrant groups.

The report, produced by Germany's official statistics agency, Destatis, in cooperation with several German think tanks, shows that more than one-third (36%) of ethnic Turks are living below the poverty line, compared to 25% of migrants from the Balkans and southwestern Europe (Spain and Portugal). The average income of ethnic Turkish households is €1,242 ($1,400) per month, compared to €1,486 ($1,700) for non-Turkish migrants and €1,730 ($1,950) for German households.

Only 5% of ethnic Turks earn more than 150% of the average German income, compared to 21% of migrants from Eastern Europe, 18% of those from southwestern Europe and 11% of those from the Balkans.

The report also shows that Turks have a lower educational attainment than other migrant groups in Germany. Only 60% of ethnic Turks complete secondary school (Hauptschulabschluss), compared to 85% of migrants from Eastern Europe. Moreover, only 8% of ethnic Turks between the ages of 17 and 45 earn a Bachelor's degree, compared to 30% of migrants in the same demographic from Eastern Europe. Education is a determinative factor for successful integration, according to the report.

German multiculturalists often blame the lack of Turkish integration on the Germans themselves. Writing for Die Welt, economist Thomas Straubhaar argues that most Germans view Turks as guests, not as fellow citizens, an attitude which discourages Turks from integrating:

"Ethnic Turks are essentially treated as guests — hence the controversy over whether their faith belongs to Germany or not. Their immigration is seen as temporary. Their contribution to German culture is seen in a negative light.

"Those who treat migrants as guests should not be surprised when they behave as such. Guests are not expected to have any emotional devotion to the host, nor does the host feel any obligation to show irrevocable loyalty to the guest.

"Guests will not be willing to put all their cards on the table of the host country and take full responsibility for successful integration. Guests assume that sooner or later they must return home again. In everything they do, they will always consider their guest status and be only halfheartedly engaged. This applies to investments in language, culture, friendships, social contacts and professional career."

Others counter that those who act like strangers should not be surprised if they are treated as strangers. Sociologist Ruud Koopmans argues that one of the most determinative factors in successful integration involves the cultural gap between host and guest. The greater the distance, the greater the integration challenge.

In a recent interview with WirtschaftsWoche, Koopmans criticized multiculturalists who for normative reasons insist that culture and religion should not be factored into the debate on integration:

"In all European countries, Muslim immigrants lag behind all other immigrant groups in almost every aspect of integration. This applies to the labor market, but also to educational achievement, inter-ethnic contacts, i.e., contacts with the local population, and identification with the country of residence.

"Three decisive factors determine cultural distance: language skills, inter-ethnic contacts — especially those involving marriage — and values about the role of women. They all have something to do with religion. This of course applies especially for ideas about the role of women, which are derived directly from the Islamic religion. The greater the cultural distance between groups — especially when there are cultural taboos — the more complicated inter-ethnic marriages become. Such taboos make it virtually impossible for a Muslim, and especially Muslim women, to marry a non-Muslim. Statistics from various European countries show that less than ten percent of Muslim marriages are inter-ethnic."

Detlef Pollack, the author of the University of Münster study cited above, blames the lack of Turkish integration on discrimination: "The message to the majority German population is that we should be more sensitive to the problems encountered by those of Turkish origin," he told Deutsche Welle. "It is our view that the feeling of not being accepted is expressed in the vehement defense of Islam."

Koopmans rejects the link between discrimination and radicalization:

"This is a common assertion. But it is wrong. In our large study we asked Muslims how strongly they feel discriminated against, and we searched for correlations to the development of a fundamentalist worldview. But there are none. Muslim hatred of non-Muslims is not a special phenomenon of Muslim immigration, but is actually worse in the countries of origin. Radicalization is not first produced here in Europe, rather it comes from the Muslim world."

gatestoneinstitute.org/8321/germany-turks-integration

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Pope Is Bringing Message of Peace for Armenia _ and Beyond

JUNE 24, 2016

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis is bringing a message of peace and solidarity to Armenia as it marks the centennial of the Ottoman-era slaughter of Armenians that Francis himself has called a "genocide." But he may sidestep the politically charged word as he broadens his concern about current atrocities against Christians across the region and beyond.

Francis has frequently denounced the slaughter of Christians by Islamic extremists across the Middle East, saying the indiscriminate attacks against religious minorities is an "ecumenism of blood" — a martyrdom shared by Christians no matter their confession. Recently, he said he prefers to use the term "martyrdom" over "genocide" when describing the persecution of Christians, suggesting that he may avoid using the word during the trip.

All eyes then will be on Francis' first major speech upon arrival Friday, delivered to President Serzh Sargsyan and Armenian officials at the presidential palace in the capital, Yerevan. The pope caps the day with a visit to the seat of the Armenian Apostolic Church in Etchmiadzin, where he will stay as a guest of the Oriental Orthodox patriarch of the Apostolic Church, Karekin II.

Over the following three days, Francis will pray at Armenia's genocide memorial, release a dove of peace near Armenia's closed border with Turkey and pray for peace during an ecumenical prayer service with Karekin.

The Vatican has long cheered the Armenian cause, holding up the poor nation of 3 million mostly Orthodox Christians as a bastion of faith and martyrdom in a largely Muslim region, and the first nation that established Christianity as a state religion in 301.

Armenians, for their part, have cheered Francis' willingness to rile Turkey by terming the 1915 massacres of Armenians a "genocide" during a Mass last year to mark the 100th anniversary of the slaughter. They are expected to turn out in droves even though Catholics represent a tiny minority in the former Soviet republic.

Many historians consider the massacres of an estimated 1.5 million Armenians a genocide, a classification that carries legal and financial implications given Armenian claims for restitution. Turkey rejects the term, says the death figure is inflated and that people died on both sides as the Ottoman Empire collapsed amid World War I.

But in an indication that the Vatican wants to move away from using the term, Francis avoided using it in a video message to Armenians released on the eve of his journey. Instead he spoke of the "sufferings among the most terrible that humanity can remember."

The Armenian ambassador to the Holy See, Mikayel Minasyan, said it almost doesn't matter if Francis utters the word, given his April 2015 pronouncement from the altar of St. Peter's Basilica that it was the "first genocide of the 20th century."

"He has already said it," Minasyan said in a phone interview from Yerevan. "The fact that he is going to the memorial is worth more than the word or whether it is pronounced or not."

He expected that Francis would speak about the massacres in the context of current atrocities against Christians: "What we are seeing today is part of a process that began 100 years ago," he said.

The head of the Armenian National Archives says Armenia will officially ask the pope to open the Vatican's archives into the massacre, given the existing evidence of Vatican diplomacy in favor of Armenians against the Ottoman attacks.

"Access to the Vatican's archive will help to tell the truth to the world about the events of 1915 in the Ottoman empire that no one will be able to dismiss," said archives director, Amatuni Virabyan.

Despite the devastation the slaughter has had on Armenia, seven decades of atheist communism was worse, said the Rev. Krikor Badichah, vice rector of the Pontifical Armenian College in Rome.

"People lost their faith totally," he said. "Yes, there was a genocide and it had a very serious impact on the faith. But it also increased people's faith, because they were Christian and didn't want to deny their faith. And for that, they were killed."

nytimes.com/aponline/2016/06/24/world/europe/ap-eu-rel-armenia-pope.html

 

URL: http://newageislam.com/islamic-world-news/new-age-islam-news-bureau/southeast-asian-islamic-state-unit-taking-form-in-philippines/d/107754

 

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