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Islamic World News ( 15 Oct 2019, NewAgeIslam.Com)

Students Recite ‘Lab Pe Aati Hai Dua’, Written In 1902 by Muhammad Iqbal, VHP Complains, Pilibhit, UP, Headmaster Suspended



New Age Islam News Bureau

 

16 Oct 2019

Veteran journalist V. T. Rajshekar, a prominent Dalit writer and founder editor of “Dalit Voice”, delivering inaugural speech in the round table Dalit-Muslim Dialogue held at the Indian Social Institute at Bangalore on 12th October, 2019.

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Round Table Dalit-Muslim Dialogue Held in Bangalore to Strengthen Social Alliance Building Efforts

At Islamabad Reception, Prince William Pays Tribute to Pakistanis Who Lost Their Lives to Terror

Muslim Educator: Jews Have a Right to Pray On Temple Mount

Human Rights Group Accuses Houthis of Using 400 Abductees as Human Shields

US Raises China’s Uighur Problem with Muslim Groups

Leading French Figures Urge Action against Islamophobia

Five Men Given Death Penalty In Bangladesh Over 1971 War Crimes

 

India

Students Recite ‘Lab Pe Aati Hai Dua’, Written In 1902 by Muhammad Iqbal, VHP Complains, Pilibhit, UP, Headmaster Suspended

Round Table Dalit-Muslim Dialogue Held in Bangalore to Strengthen Social Alliance Building Efforts

Most of 127 IS suspect arrested inspired by Zakir Naik: NIA

India Falls To 102 in Hunger Index, 8 Ranks below Pakistan

Article 370 blocked northeast success stories from being replicated in J&K: Jitendra Singh

Pakistan Yet to Respond to India’s Proposal to Host Meet between BSF and Pak Rangers

Ayodhya case: Muslim petitioners ask SC to restore Babri mosque, say they own the land

J&K: Three militants killed in Anantang encounter

Farooq Abdullah’s sister, daughter arrested during Kashmir protest

Will not allow water to Pakistan: PM Modi

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Pakistan

At Islamabad Reception, Prince William Pays Tribute to Pakistanis Who Lost Their Lives to Terror

IMF technical team arrives in Pakistan for holding dialogues

Omani army chief praises Pakistan Army’s role in anti-terror fight

PM meets King Salman, Prince MBS for ‘peace initiative’

Pakistan asks UN to ban India-based ‘IS terrorist’

Pakistan Invites Khalistanis to Kartarpur Corridor Event

Policeman killed, 10 injured in IED blast in Pakistan

Imran apprises William, Kate about relations with India, Afghanistan

JUI-F increases contacts with opposition parties for ‘Azadi March’

Riyadh urged to resolve row with Tehran thru talks

Shahbaz, Fazl meeting now on 18th

PM expresses optimism over improvement in US-Iran ties

Royal Salute: When there’s a Will there’s a way

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Arab World

Muslim Educator: Jews Have a Right to Pray On Temple Mount

US seizes only two British Isis prisoners in Syria, leaving others

Security, Political Messages behind Hezbollah’s Threat to Lebanese Banks

Expert Reveals US Plot to Transfer Thousands of ISIL Terrorists from Syria to Iraq

MSF suspends work in northeast Syria, withdraws foreign aid workers

Syrian Observatory: SDF captures Syria’s Ras al-Ain

Syrian army troops take full control of Manbij

Saudi Chief Of Vienna-Based Interfaith Center Calls For Peaceful Coexistence

Russian President Vladimir Putin off to UAE after successful Saudi Arabia visit

UAE and Russia sign deals worth $1.3bn during Putin's Abu Dhabi visit

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Mideast

Human Rights Group Accuses Houthis of Using 400 Abductees as Human Shields

Iran’s Larijani urges IPU states to pay due attention to Palestine issue

Turkey may be 'responsible' for executions of Kurds in Syria: UN

Freed Russian Journalist Recounts Harrowing Ordeal In Iranian Jail

Kremlin envoy calls Turkish military operation in Syria ‘unacceptable’: Report

US root cause of Iran-Saudi Arabia conflict: Parliament speaker

Gazans challenge occupation by planting olive trees

Pence, Pompeo leave for Turkey as Erdogan rejects ‘ceasefire’

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North America

US Raises China’s Uighur Problem with Muslim Groups

U.S. Sanctions Amp up the Pressure on Iran-backed Hezbollah in Lebanon

Trump Is Right To Take Troops Out Of Syria. Now They Must Leave Iraq And Afghanistan

Giuliani pressed Trump to eject Muslim cleric from U.S., a top priority of Turkish president, former officials say

US carried out secret cyber strike on Iran in wake of Saudi oil attack: officials

Senator Graham says Turkish ‘atrocities’ will ‘destroy’ US-Turkish relationship

US carried out cyber operation against Iran after Aramco attacks: US sources

Canada suspends new arms sales to Turkey

US charges Turkey's Halkbank with evading Iran sanctions

Pence, Pompeo leave for Turkey as Erdogan rejects ‘ceasefire’

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Europe

Leading French Figures Urge Action against Islamophobia

We Must Do More To Help Muslim Faith Schools, Dean Tells Queen At Westminster Abbey

Muslim and Jewish women unite across Barnet after shooting in Germany

Supreme Court rejects challenge to public school coursework on Islam

‘I hate Islam,’ Says Deputy Director of French Newspaper Figaro

Dutch court convicts asylum-seeker in station terror attack

German security services want more powers to fight extremism

Tajikistan Labels EU-Based Opposition Alliance As Terrorist Group

Accused far-right terror plotter allegedly spoke of 'cutting throats' in Melbourne

Italy to suspend weapons exports to Turkey

Kremlin envoy calls Turkish military operation in Syria ‘unacceptable’

Turkey: EU states must take tougher steps against PKK

PKK continues to be Europe's favorite terror group

EU not planning economic sanctions on Turkey: Berlin

Norway against suspending Turkey from NATO

Turkey slams global media reports on Syria operation

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South Asia

Five Men Given Death Penalty In Bangladesh Over 1971 War Crimes

Special Forces Kill, Detain 15 Taliban Militants In Wardak And Paktika Provinces

Afghan fighting kills 8 militants in northern Balkh province

Bangladesh gives Myanmar new list of Rohingya refugees

Special Forces foil militants bid to detonate a bomb close to a school in Kabul

458 Civilians Killed, Wounded In Taliban Attacks Targeting Election Process: UNAMA

Car bomb explosion leaves 2 dead, many others wounded in Laghman province

Afghan army helicopter crashes in Balkh, killing 7 on board

Airstrikes kill 19 Taliban and ISIS militants in 5 provinces

Two police killed, 20 children wounded in Afghan blast

85 civilians killed, 373 wounded during Afghan election campaign: UN

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Southeast Asia

Speak About Oppression, Muslims Urged

Listed As Terrorists, Hadi Denies Muslim Scholars’ Group Similar To LTTE

No liberal agenda, but sorry if debate topics offensive, say UiTM duo

Southeast Asia in the crosshairs of 'Islamic State'

US raises China’s Uighur problem with Indonesian Muslim groups

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Africa

US Strikes Culled ISIS-Libya Encampments, Unlikely To Return To Pre-2016 Levels, Defense Official Says

NAF kill Boko Haram terrorists, destroy hideout

Stigma Slows Reintegration of Former Boko Haram Fighters

Nigerian president vows crackdown on abusive Islamic schools after second raid

Somalia thrives with helping hand from TIKA

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau

URL: https://www.newageislam.com/islamic-world-news/new-age-islam-news-bureau/students-recite-‘lab-pe-aati-hai-dua’,-written-in-1902-by-muhammad-iqbal,-vhp-complains,-pilibhit,-up,-headmaster-suspended/d/120010

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Students Recite ‘Lab Pe Aati Hai Dua’, Written In 1902 By Muhammad Iqbal, VHP Complains, Pilibhit, UP, Headmaster Suspended

By Asad Rehman

October 16, 2019

Furqan Ali’s right leg is polio-affected and he got the job under reservation for the physically disabled.

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The district administration of Uttar Pradesh’s Pilibhit has suspended the headmaster of a government primary school in Bisalpur area following a complaint by local VHP workers that the teacher made students recite a religious prayer, usually recited in madrasas, during morning assembly.

According to an inquiry by Bisalpur’s Block Education Officer (BEO) Upendra Kumar on Tuesday, the suspended headmaster, Furqan Ali, 45, made students recite the poem “lab pe aati hai dua”, written in 1902 by Muhammad Iqbal.

Iqbal, also known as Allama Iqbal, also wrote “Sare jahaan se achccha”.

Pilibhit DM Vaibhav Srivastava, who was unaware of the findings of the BEO’s inquiry, said, “The headmaster was suspended because he was not getting the national anthem sung, and was making students sing a religious prayer.”

Denying the allegation, Ali maintained that the national anthem is sung “every day”.

On findings of the inquiry by BEO Kumar, the DM said, “If he (headmaster) gets a poem recited and not the national anthem, then there is an offence against him. If he wanted do something different, he should have taken the government’s permission…”

BEO Kumar and Bisalpur’s Basic Shiksha Adhikari (BSA) Devendra Swarup told The Indian Express that regular inspections have found that the national anthem is sung at the primary school. They also said the original complaint — by the VHP members — did not question whether the national anthem is sung or not. BSA Swarup said: “The BEO has told me that the national anthem was being sung at the school. That was not the issue. The complaint was regarding a prayer sung at madrasas, and not about the national anthem.”

Ali said the poem by Iqbal is part of the Urdu syllabus for classes I to VIII. “VHP and Hindu Yuva Vahini workers held protests outside the school and at the Collectorate, demanding my removal. I only got a poem, which is part of government school syllabus, sung. My students also raise patriotic slogans such as ‘Bharat Mata ki Jai’ every day during the assembly.”

VHP district chief Ambarish Mishra said he opposed a “madrasa prayer” being recited at a government primary school. “We gave a written complaint to the BSA demanding action against the headmaster for getting a different prayer recited at government school,” Mishra told The Indian Express over telephone.

On Monday, an order issued by BSA Devendra Swarup states (translated from Hindi): “As per a viral video on social media, it came to our knowledge that at Primary School, Ghayaspur, students are being made to sing a different prayer other than the commonly accepted one. School headmaster Mohammad Furkan Ali prima facie has been found responsible for this and thus he has been suspended…”

https://indianexpress.com/article/india/vhp-complains-about-school-poem-headmaster-suspended-6070860/

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Round Table Dalit-Muslim Dialogue Held in Bangalore To Strengthen Social Alliance Building Efforts

By Sameer

October 15, 2019

By Pervez Bari

Bangalore: Dalits and Muslims of the country have resolved to take steps for building grass-roots level social alliance and to evolve joint strategies to address issues common to both the communities.This decision came at the end of the day-long round table Dalit-Muslim Dialogue held at the Indian Social Institute here in Bangalore on 12th October, 2019 which was participated by leaders and intellectuals invited from different states along with national leaders of Popular Front of India, (PFI). The Dalit-Muslim Dialogue was hosted by PFI.

The programme was inaugurated by prominent Dalit writer and founder editor of “Dalit Voice” V. T. Rajshekar, a veteran journalist. Popular Front general secretary M. Mohammed Ali Jinnah welcomed the delegates and secretary Anis Ahmed presented the keynote paper. Popular Front National Executive Council member E. M. Abdul Rahiman was the moderator.

Inaugurating the Dialogue veteran scribe V. T. Rajshekar recalled that renowned Dalit leader late B. Shyam Sunder was the father of Dalit-Muslim unity as he in 1968 had laid the foundation for “Dalit-Muslim Unity Movement” while presiding over the All India Backward Classes & Other Minorities Convention held at Lucknow. The veteran Dalit leader Shyam Sunder then had evoked urgency to the programme and gave a call for “Change! Change swiftly! If you do not change now you will never change”.

Rajshekar pointed out that Shyam Sunder’s ideas emphasized Federation as a solution for resolving the problems of Indian Minorities and enforcement of constitutional rights, preservation of culture, electoral reforms etc. 

Rajshekar dubbed BJP as Brahman Jati Party. He said Dalits and Muslims are blood brothers while the former should consider Muslims as their elder brother. The enemies of both the communities are the same. He pleaded for such a dialogue between Dalits and Muslims every three months to take stock of the situation and overall welfare of each other.

He said that Dr. Baba Saheb Ambedkar has given us road map of empowerment i.e. educate, agitate and organize. However, Dalits and Muslims are clamouring for political power without following the road map as enunciated above.Meanwhile, Anis Ahmed, PFI national secretary, while presenting the keynote paper said that the new policies brought by the government such as strengthening NIA, UAPA and also the planned NRC will act as new tools to target Muslims and Dalits. The pace at which the BJP government is proceeding it seems evident that they will very shortly come open with their anti-Dalit policies.

Ahmed emphasized that under such circumstances it is important that there should be a fresh start for looking into and exploring new avenues to build a strong Dalit-Muslim alliance to counter the rise of Brahminical Fascism. This will require a proper understand on the dynamic movements among both the community and a practical roadmap. The alliance should not just be limited among the leadership but should also reach at grass-root level. Due to the influence of Brahminical monopoly in Indian politics, BJP and other mainstream political parties including Left, Socialist and so-called secular parties are alienating Dalits and Muslims. Both sections are being treated as vote banks, he added.

Ahmed stated that Dalits and Muslims have consistently been the victims of violence. Every passing day we come across instances of organized brutal attacks on the Dalits by the upper caste groups. The upper caste groups have developed a sense of immunity from any legal action as in most cases the law agencies either cover up the cases or target the Dalits with fake charges. Similarly, the Muslims have been victims of organized attacks such as communal riots and most recently the trend of lynching. The attacks on Muslims are on a rise and though such cases gain media attention, in most of the cases the culprits are never punished. The security agencies have always displayed a biased attitude towards Dalits and Muslims. Draconian laws such as UAPA, NSA and sedition law have always been a weapon in the hands of the security agencies to target Dalits and Muslims.

The pre-independence leadership of Dalits and Muslims understood the problems of both the communities and the agenda of the Brahminical order to marginalize both the communities. The Muslim leaders of colonial India supported the demand of Dr. Ambedkar for separate electorates for Dalits. The Brahminical forces understood the future impact of the Muslim-Dalit solidarity hence the narrative of a single Hindu community was brought up. Unfortunately, the Dalits and Muslims could not formulate a practical alliance between the two communities at the grass-root level. Muslim leadership also never concentrated on socio-political alliance building with the Dalit forces for fighting Fascism, Ahmed observed.

Dr. Tasleem Rahmani, National secretary of Social Democratic Party of India, (SDPI), putting forth his views on the occasion said until and unless the Dalits and Muslims unite together socially and politically you cannot bring a change in the mindset of Brahminical forces which are totally biased towards them. He questioned when Dalits say that they are not Hindus then why they behave like a Hindu?

He wondered that despite having 30 per cent seat share Dalits could not join hands as a block to share power but are scattered among different political parties. Similarly, Muslims having 16 per cent vote share could not unite to become a force. They were divided not on religious lines but in various political entities.  

Bhai Tej Singh, National president of Ambedkar Samaj Party, said that Dalits’ political empowerment is only possible through Dalit-Muslim unity. There is no other way out except the force and spirit of Islam and true Ambedkarism. The Muslim organisations of the country should make friendship with a Dalit to give long-cherished “Dalit-Muslim Unity” a practical shape to make the dream of our political empowerment come true.

No related stories.

The political unity may not last long until and unless it has solid foundation of Qaumi Ittehad beneath it. In order to strengthen this base and liberate Dalits from the clutches of Hinduism, it is utmost essential for us to do away with the blot of caste inflictions. So long as the caste tag is not removed, the liberation is meaningless. For political empowerment to be complete the social alliance should precede political alliance, he added.

Adv. Sharfuddin Ahmad, National vice president of SDPI, said that Dr. Abdul Jalil Faridi of Uttar Pradesh was the first person to give a call to Muslims and Dalits to get united. He was the first person to lay the foundation of a united Dalit-Muslim political struggle in post independent India.

He said Muslims under the Brahminical Order is a great challenge because of attitude of Muslims and working of Muslim organizations. Hindu identity and culture of Scheduled Castes not properly dealt with legally aas well as socially. Hindutva is not a religion but a militant form of politics, he added.

Mohammad Shafi, National general secretary of SDPI, said that first of all Brahminism embedded in Dalits ad Muslims should be thrown out and then chalk out the path of unity between the two communities.

It may be stated here that most of the Dalit speakers more often than not during the debate eulogized the qualities of Islam such as equality, fraternity, justice etc. They described Hinduism as a dangerous religion which differentiates between caste, creed and gender. It is portrayed maliciously that Dalits are part and parcel of Hinduism and as such they should come out of it to break the cast barrier.

Amongst others who spoke on the occasion included Supreme Court Advocate Bhanu Pratap Singh, who is the National President RJSP (Rashtriya Janhit Sangharsh Party), Elyas Thumbe, SDPI Karnataka state president, Adv. Mohammad Yusuf of PFI etc.

Meanwhile, the delegates present in the Dalit-Muslim Dialogue passed two resolutions which are as follows:

1.     Build Grass root level alliance between Dalits and Muslims

The Dalit-Muslim Dialogue has concluded that Muslims and Dalits face the similar social, economic and political problem. The threats and challenges faced by both the communities are also very similar, hence, there should be a united effort to face the current challenges and uplift both the communities. The session also observed that any alliance between both the communities should not be limited to the leaders but reach to grass-root level. Such a grass-root level unity will need leaders of both the community to conduct such dialogues at local level to engage masses of both the communities. The delegates resolve to take necessary steps to build and strengthen bridges between the communities for a long term goal.

2.     Develop coordination for intervention in issues

The delegates of the Dalit-Muslim Dialogue observed that the situation in the     country is worsening due to the politics of hate and violence. There are numerous reports of violence against Dalits and Muslims. There must be coordination between both the communities so that both can play a role in protecting constitutional rights of each other. The delegates resolved that Dalits and Muslims organizations and leaders should take up ssues related to each other by building better coordination.

Meanwhile, apart from the inaugural and concluding sessions there were three other sessions in the day-long Dalit–Muslim Dialogue programme. In the three sessions the second discussed the “Understanding Issues Common to Dalits & Muslims & Understanding Forces Targetting both Dalits & Muslims”; third session was on “Muslim Approach to Dalit Issues & Dalit Approach to Muslim Issues”. The discussion in the penultimate session was on “Issues in Dalit-Muslim Alliance Building”.

https://www.siasat.com/dalit-muslim-dialogue-strengthen-social-alliance-building-efforts-1693480/

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At Islamabad reception, Prince William pays tribute to Pakistanis who lost their lives to terror

October 15, 2019

Prince William, the Duke of Cambridge, on Tuesday paid tribute to all those who "endured sacrifice and helped build Pakistan to the country it is today".

His remarks came during his first official speech delivered during a reception at the Pakistan National Monument in Islamabad hosted by the British High Commissioner to Pakistan Thomas Drew.

"For a country so young, Pakistan has endured many hardships, with countless lives lost to terror and hatred. Tonight I want to pay tribute to all those who have endured such sacrifice and helped to build the country that we see today," said William.

He recognised that for "Pakistan's great potential" to be realised, difficulties will have to be faced and sacrifices made.

William also spoke of the "unique bonds" between the two countries and that Pakistan can "rely on UK to keep playing an important role as a key partner and [a] friend".

"Whether it’s this generation or the next, I know that the UK and Pakistan will continue to exemplify the very best in international cooperation," he added.

Laying emphasis on the importance of educating the youth, the Prince said that it "will be the key that turns the country’s growing population into an engine of growth and help unlock this country’s enormous potential".

He called for a concerted effort between both countries to surmount the challenge of climate change. "Whether in Pakistan or the UK or elsewhere on our planet — we face shared global challenges. The effects of climate change threaten the present and the future," he said.

William cautioned against the rising temperatures leading to "a loss of over a third of [Pakistan's] vital glaciers in less than a century, with enormous impacts not only on the availability of water, but on agriculture and hydropower generation".

He said that tomorrow (Wednesday) he, along with his wife Kate Middleton, will "be seeing some of these impacts first hand and meeting some of the communities adjusting to the new realities and new challenges that climate change has brought to their towns and villages".

The Prince expressed hope "to learn what more we all can do to help prevent and mitigate this impending global catastrophe".

William and Kate arrived at the venue in style in a rickshaw decked out in traditional truck art.

William was seen wearing traditional attire for the first time since his arrival — a teal sherwani by Nauman Arfeen of Naushemian — while Kate wore a green embellished Jenny Packham gown, according to Daily Mail Royal Correspondent Rebecca English.

Kate's earrings — gold plated with uncut crystal stones — belong to the popular London brand O'nitaa, and were sourced from Pakistan, said the correspondent. They were "bespoked specially for the Duchess of Cambridge", she added.

Many prominent personalities were in attendance at the event, including Director General Inter-Services Public Relations Maj Gen Asif Ghafoor, Air Chief Marshal Mujahid Anwar Khan, Wasim Akram and wife Shaniera Akram, designer Hassan Sheheryar Yasin of the HSY clothing brand, cricketer Mohammad Hafeez, actresses Mahira Khan, Hareem Farooq and Mehwish Hayat, and singer Atif Aslam.

The National Monument was lit up for the reception.

Earlier in the day, the royal couple met President Alvi and his wife Samina Arif at the Aiwan-i-Sadr.

Following the meeting with the president, the couple called on Prime Minister Imran Khan at the Prime Minister House where a lunch was hosted in their honour.

Part of the day's activities also included a visit to Islamabad Model College for Girls as well as a trip to Trail 5, Margalla Hills to attend an event regarding environmental protection.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge had arrived in Pakistan on Monday night. They were accorded a red carpet welcome at the Nur Khan air base where they were received by Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi and his wife Mehriene Qureshi.

https://www.dawn.com/news/1511000/at-islamabad-reception-prince-william-pays-tribute-to-pakistanis-who-lost-their-lives-to-terror

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Muslim educator: Jews have a right to pray on Temple Mount

Shimon Cohen

15/10/19

Nahil Zoabi, a Muslim educator from the village of Nein in the north, stated upon his visit to the Temple Mount that the site is sacred for all religions and that prayer should also be allowed for Jews there.

Zoabi, an educator for some 25 years and the principal of the school in Tamra for some 15 years, is accustomed to ascend from time to time to the Al-Aqsa Mosque to pray to his Creator, he says, and believes everyone should be allowed to pray anywhere - certainly on the Temple Mount - without fear.

"The Temple Mount is a connecting, uniting place, and therefore every person, certainly Jews who wish to pray on the Temple Mount, has a fundamental right to do so," Zoabi said.

"Believers of all religions and faiths are invited to pray with respect and tolerance on the Temple Mount. I would be more than happy to see, alongside Muslims praying at Al-Aqsa, Jewish worshipers, praying with mutual respect."

http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/270129

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Human Rights Group Accuses Houthis of Using 400 Abductees as Human Shields

15 October, 2019

An Ibb-based human rights group in Yemen has accused the Iran-backed Houthi militias of transferring 400 captives to be used as human shields from one of the group’s detention centers to a camp in southern Sanaa.

The Association of Mothers of Abductees said Monday that armed Houthis transferred the abductees from inside the central prison to a military area exposed to air strikes.

“We have been informed at the Association of Mothers of the Abductees on Monday morning that Houthis have dressed the captives inside the central prison in Sanaa in the air force uniform and transferred them to the Central Security Camp in the Area of Al-Sabeen," the association said in a press release distributed to the media.

The Association noted that the Houthis had made the prisoners believe they were getting released.

The militias are held liable for the lives of abductees after being transferred to a military zone that had previously been hit by coalition airstrikes.

"We have previously lost dozens of our abducted children after being detained in the military police in Sanaa and the prison of Dhamar Community College, during which dozens of our kidnapped civilian children were killed," the Association said.

It called on the Red Cross, the United Nations and human rights organizations to act swiftly and take action to save the lives of the detainees and free them unconditionally.

https://aawsat.com/english/home/article/1946451/human-rights-group-accuses-houthis-using-400-abductees-human-shields

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US raises China’s Uighur problem with Muslim groups

October 16 2019

Friendly visit: US Ambassador to Indonesia Joseph R. Donovan Jr. (left) chats with Haedar Nashir, the chairman of Indonesia’s second-largest Islamic organization Muhammadiyah, at the Muhammadiyah office in Jakarta on Tuesday. (JP/Seto Wardhana)The United States’ envoy to Jakarta has begun a “long overdue” move to engage with leaders of Indonesia’s two largest Muslim organizations, Muhammadiyah and Nahdlatul Ulama (NU), as it looks for allies to pressure China over its alleged human rights abuses against the Uighur minority.Muhammadiyah welcomed the move and expected the US to set an example in handling human rights abuses around the world — including in Yemen, where a proxy war between Iran and Saudi Arabia has simmered since 2015.US Ambassador to Indonesia Joseph R. Donovan Jr. on Tuesday visited the Muhammadiyah headquarters in Central Jakarta to meet group chairman Haedar ...

https://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2019/10/16/us-raises-china-s-uighur-problem-with-muslim-groups.html

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Leading French figures urge action against Islamophobia

Yusuf Ozcan  

16.10.2019

PARIS

Dozens of academics, artists, film directors, actors and journalists urged French President Emmanuel Macron on Tuesday to condemn a far-right lawmaker who verbally attacked a Muslim woman.

According to an open letter published in the Le Monde daily, 90 people -- including actor Omar Sy and journalist Alain Gresh -- called on Macron to condemn Julien Odoul, who ordered a Muslim woman to remove her headscarf at a recent regional council meeting.

Stressing that it was unacceptable for people to be subjected to insults and racism due to their religious affiliation, the letter called on the president to take action against the lawmaker's controversial act.

In addition, it said the far right in France had turned hate towards Muslims into a propaganda tool and underscored that both the right and the left in the country did not refrain from discrimination against Muslim women on the pretext of secularism.

According to the letter, Education Minister Jean-Michel Blanquer's past remarks on headscarves proved there was discrimination by top-level state figures.

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/europe/leading-french-figures-urge-action-against-islamophobia/1615249

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Five Men Given Death Penalty In Bangladesh Over 1971 War Crimes

2019-10-15

DHAKA, Oct. 15 (Xinhua) -- A special tribunal in Bangladesh capital Dhaka Tuesday sentenced five men to death for crimes against humanity during the country's war of independence in 1971.

The International Crimes Tribunal, led by its Chairman Justice Md Shahinur Islam, found the suspects Abdul Jabbar Mondol and his two sons, Jachhijar Rahman and Abdul Wahed Mondol, and Ranju Miah and Montaz Ali Bepari guilty of the charges brought against them.

The charges include killing, abduction, confinement, torture, arson and looting.

One of the convicts Miah was taken to the tribunal for verdict delivery at 10:30 a.m. local time Tuesday as the rest are on the run.

Bangladeshi police chief was asked for immediate steps to arrest the fugitives.

In line with law, the death row convicts have the opportunity to appeal the decision at the Supreme Court within a month of the verdict.

After returning to power in January 2009, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, daughter of Bangladesh's independence hero Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, established the first tribunal in March 2010, almost 40 years after the 1971 war.

Muslim-majority Bangladesh was called East Pakistan until 1971. The government of Hasina said about three million people were killed in the independence war.

http://www.xinhuanet.com/english/2019-10/15/c_138473900.htm

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India

 

Most of 127 IS suspect arrested inspired by Zakir Naik: NIA

by Safoora

October 15, 2019

NEW DELHI: A majority of 127 arrested Islamic States sympathizers from across India were following speeches of fugitive televangelist and Islamic preacher Zakir Naik, NIA investigation has revealed.

Among the 127 arrested in 28 cases since 2014, the highest (33) were arrested from Tamil Nadu followed by 19 from Uttar Pradesh, 17 from Kerala, 14 from Telangana, 12 from Mahrashtra, eight from Karnataka, seven from Delhi, four each from Uttarakhand and West Bengal and three from Jammu and Kashmir, according National Investigation Agency (NIA) data.

The NIA has also arrested two people each from Rajasthan and Gujarat and one each from Bihar and Madhya Pradesh.

In November 2014, the NIA registered the first jihadi terrorism case related to Islamic State and courts concerned have announced conviction in three of the cases in which charge sheet has been filed, said the agency.

Sharing data at the NIA”s National Conference of chiefs of the Anti-Terrorism Squads (ATS) and Special Task Forces (STF), NIA Inspector General Alok Mittal said the internet is being systematically exploited by the Islamic State sympathizers for terrorist purposes.

“The international terrorist organisation has exploited internet in a very organised way for its every terror related activity like radicalisation, training, recruitment, planning and execution,” he said.

Mittal said it was common in all the modules busted in Hyderabad, Kerala, Tamil Nadhu, Uttar Pradesh or Delhi that the leader of the local outfit was in contact with any “foreign handler” who channelised the module.

“Majority of the arrested people have revealed that they have seen Zakir Naik”s videos and some other Islamic preachers who are based in India and outside. But, Zakir Naik”s name came into light in every case. So, we filed a case against Naik and his IRF (Islamic Research Foundation) organisation.”

As Naik has not been questioned so far in the case because he left India before the NIA took over the case, the officer said an extradition request has been sent to Malaysia, where he is currently residing. “The extradition request is still pending.”

Naik is wanted by authorities for alleged money laundering and inciting extremism through hate speeches. His name prominently figured during the Dhaka bomb blasts in July 2016 that killed many. A bomber later confessed that he was influenced by Naik”s messages following which he fled India.

The NIA official said that Naik, who used to preach on the now-banned ”Peace TV”, has been living in Malaysia for around 3 years in a bid to escape Indian law after cases were filed against him here in the wake of the Dhaka terror attack.

Naik was granted permanent residency in Malaysia following Britain and Canada”s refusal to grant him a visa. Naik”s IRF had organised ”peace conferences” in Mumbai between 2007 and 2011 in which he attempted to convert people and incite terrorist acts, the NIA has said.

The Islamic preacher had denied the charges in a statement issued in June this year.

About Delhi, National Capital Region (NCR) and Uttar Pradesh”s Amroha Islamic State case in which 10 people were charge sheeted, Mittal said the arms recovered from the possession of the persons indicated that similar Western Uttar Pradesh-based arms racket supplied weapon to these persons and a group in Punjab.

In three Islamic State case related to Tamil Nadu and Kerala, the officer said, it has come to light that the arrested persons radicalised after listening the audios and videos of Zahran Hasim, the mastermind of Sri Lanka Easter blast this year.

“The module tried to conduct lone wolf attack or a united effort for the purpose. Many of arrested accused accepted that Hasim”s videos available on net was the reason behind their radicalisation.”

https://www.siasat.com/most-127-suspected-arrested-inspired-zakir-naik-nia-1693042/

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India falls to 102 in hunger index, 8 ranks below Pakistan

Oct 16, 2019

India was ranked 102nd on the Global Hunger Index, an index of 117 countries. It was the lowest ranked among South Asian countries (the rest being ranked between 66 and 94) and way behind the other Brics nations, the lowest of which was South Africa at 59.

After steady improvement, India's rank slipped from 2015, when it was ranked 93. Even Pakistan, which used to be the only country in South Asia to rank below India, has pulled ahead in the 2019 ranking to 94th place.

The GHI score, which reflects data from 2014 to 2018, is based on the proportion of a country's child population that is undernourished, share of children under five years of age who have insufficient weight for their height or whose height is not commensurate to their age, and the mortality rate of under-5 children.

India was at 93 in 2015

India was at 93 in 2015-2

"Because of its large population, India's GHI indicator values have an outsized impact on the indicator values for the region. India's child wasting rate is extremely high at 20.8% - the highest wasting rate of any country in this report," stated the report on the index. The data shows that India's poor scores were pulling down South Asia to a point where it does worse than even sub-Saharan Africa.

The report said only 9.6% of children between 6-23 months in India were fed a minimum acceptable diet (a recent Union health ministry survey had in fact put that figure at an even lower 6.4%). The GHI report praised the progress made by Bangladesh, attributing it to "robust economic growth and attention to 'nutrition-sensitive' sectors such as education, sanitation, and health".

Nepal has shown the highest percentage change in its ranking since 2000 according to the report, which attributed it to increased household assets (a proxy for household wealth), increased maternal education, improved sanitation, and implementation and use of health and nutrition programs, including antenatal and neonatal care.

The GHI ranks countries on a 100-point scale, with 0 being the best score (no hunger) and 100 being the worst. Values less than 10 reflect low hunger, values from 20 to 34.9 indicate serious hunger; values from 35 to 49.9 are alarming; and values of 50 or more are extremely alarming.

India's score was 30.3, putting it in the serious hunger category. There were only four countries in the alarming hunger category and the Central African Republic in the extremely alarming hunger category. The report warned that climate change was causing alarming levels of hunger and making it more difficult to feed people in the world's most vulnerable regions. Climate change was affecting the quality and safety of food and worsening the nutritional value of cultivated food, it stated.

Full report at:

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/india-falls-to-102-in-hunger-index-8-ranks-below-pakistan/articleshow/71606116.cms

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Article 370 blocked northeast success stories from being replicated in J&K: Jitendra Singh

Oct 15, 2019

NEW DELHI: Union minister Jitendra Singh on Tuesday said Article 370, which gave special status to Jammu and Kashmir, had blocked the success stories of the northeast from being replicated in Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh.

Addressing the curtain raiser event, as chief guest, on the eve of "North East Expo 2019" here, Singh said the revolutionary transformation that the northeastern states have undergone over the last five years of the Modi government, is of such an "unimaginable magnitude" that it is to be seen to be believed.

The Union minister for the development of the northeastern region (DoNER) said his only regret sometimes is that while Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been extraordinarily indulgent and patronising to uplift the peripheral regions of India, Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh could not receive the same benefits as Northeast, simply because of the vested embargoes imposed in the name of Article 370.

The central government on August 5 announced the abrogation of Article 370 and creation of two Union territories — Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh.

Singh said, for example, while a small northeastern state like Mizoram with a population of mere 10 lakh has in the last two years set up Indian subcontinent's first-of-its-kind specialised "Citrus Food Park" with Israel's collaboration which has been hailed as a "Centre of Excellence", Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh, despite their abundant food and horticulture resources, could not achieve a single such achievement.

Full report at:

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/article-370-blocked-northeast-success-stories-from-being-replicated-in-jk-jitendra-singh/articleshow/71603305.cms

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Pakistan Yet to Respond to India’s Proposal to Host Meet between BSF and Pak Rangers

October 15, 2019

Pakistan has not yet responded to India’s proposal on hosting the biannual meeting between the BSF and the Pakistan Rangers, another example of what appears to be the neighbour unilaterally snapping functional level contacts, government sources said on Tuesday.

The meeting at the level of director generals of both the border guarding forces is scheduled to be held this month.

The biannual meeting has taken place regularly despite ups and downs in bilateral ties between the two countries in the past.

“This time the Indian side has proposed to hold the meeting in October, but the Pakistan Rangers has so far not confirmed its intention to participate in the meeting,” said a source.

Another source said it is yet another instance of unilateral measures by Pakistan to stop functional level contacts.

Pakistan has been unsuccessfully trying to drum up international support against India for its decision to withdraw Jammu and Kashmir’s special status and bifurcate the state into two union territories.

After India’s decision on August 5, Pakistan down-graded diplomatic ties with India and expelled Indian High Commissioner Ajay Bisaria from the country.

Rejecting Pakistan’s reaction, India has categorically told the international community that its move on Kashmir is an internal matter. India maintains Kashmir is a bilateral issue and no third party has any role in it.

In the last couple of months, Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan has stepped up his attack on India and has been regularly referring to India and Pakistan’s status as nuclear powers.

India’s Border Security Force (BSF) and the Pakistan Rangers guard the international border between the two countries.

Full report at:

https://indianexpress.com/article/india/pakistan-yet-to-respond-to-indias-proposal-to-host-meet-between-bsf-and-pak-rangers-6070627/

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Ayodhya case: Muslim petitioners ask SC to restore Babri mosque, say they own the land

October 16, 2019

The Muslim respondents in the Ayodhya land dispute told the Supreme Court on Monday that they want the restoration of the Babri Masjid as it was before being demolished in 1992, NDTV reported. They added that there was no claim on the land by the Hindu parties till 1989.

“We are entitled to restoration of the building as it stood as on 5-12-1992,” the petitioners told the court. A five-judge Constitution bench headed by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi is hearing the case. The bench, which also comprises Justices SA Bobde, DY Chandrachud, Ashok Bhushan and SA Nazeer, was hearing the case for the 38th day on Monday. The hearing is expected to end on October 17.

The Ayodhya dispute has been going on for several decades, with both Hindu and Muslim groups claiming their right to the land. The Babri Masjid stood there before it was demolished in 1992 by Hindutva activists.

Senior advocate Rajeev Dhavan, appearing for the Muslim parties, said that Muslims have had title over the land since 1528, and Hindu parties did not claim title between 1885 and 1989, according to PTI.

Justice Chandrachud said that the possession of the outer courtyard was with the Hindus continuously and documents show that. The court pointed out that erection of iron railing at the site during British rule was to separate the courtyards as well as Hindus and Muslims. Hindus were offering prayers in the outer courtyard, the judges said.

“Hindus can’t claim the outer courtyard. All facts show the Hindus have the right to pray and not possession,” Dhavan responded.

“As you say they had the right to pray and enter, does it not dilute your right to ownership,” the court asked, wondering if a third person can be allowed to enter and pray if someone else has “exclusive ownership”.

To this, Dhavan said: “All questions are directed to us [Muslim side] only and not to the other [Hindu] side”.

Advocate CS Vaidyanathan, who is representing the deity Ram objected by saying that such comments were unwarranted.

Dhavan urged the judges to not decide the case based on archaeological evidence and to use only legal parameters. “We are concerned with the proposition of law and the archaeological evidence will not and cannot decide my title over the property,” he said. “Why knock down one of the domes of the Babri mosque in the 1934 riots and trespass to install the idols of Lord Ram in 1949 if they [the Hindu parties] already had the title? Why did they have to do all this?”

Full report at:

https://scroll.in/latest/940552/ayodhya-case-muslim-petitioners-ask-sc-to-restore-babri-mosque-say-they-own-the-land

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J&K: Three militants killed in Anantang encounter

October 16, 2019

Three militants were killed in an encounter with security forces in South Kashmir Wednesday. The encounter broke out at Pazalpora area in Anantnag district on a specific intelligence provided by the district police.

Bodies of all the three local militants are being identified and would be soon handed over to their families, PTI  reported quoting officials.

This is the fifth gunfight in the Valley and the second encounter in South Kashmir since August 5 when the government abrogated the special status accorded to Jammu and Kashmir under Article 370 and bifurcated the state into two union territories.

Last week, two local militants of Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) were killed by security forces. A joint team of J&K Police and Army cordoned off Kawani village of Awantipora after specific inputs about the presence of militants. As the joint team zeroed in on the target area, the militants opened fire triggering a gun battle that lasted for several hours. A civilian was also injured.

Full report at:

https://indianexpress.com/article/india/jammu-and-kashmir-encounter-militants-security-forces-in-anantnag-district-6071245/

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Farooq Abdullah’s sister, daughter arrested during Kashmir protest

by Bashaarat Masood

October 16, 2019

Former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah’s sister and daughter were among a dozen women arrested by J&K Police Tuesday, after preventing them from holding a sit-in to protest the Centre’s August 5 decision to scrap the state’s special status and bifurcate J&K into two Union Territories.

All the women, including social activists and members of civil society, were booked under Section 107 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) — preventive custody — and shifted to the Srinagar Central Jail.

Those arrested include Abdullah’s sister Suraya Abdullah, his daughter Safiya Abdullah, Delhi-based activist Sushoba Bharve. Also arrested were Hawa Bashir, the wife of former Chief Justice of Jammu and Kashmir Bashir Ahmad Khan, retired Kashmir University media coordinator Muslim Jan and activist Qurat-ul-Ain besides others.

“We have taken them into the preventive custody,” SP East, Dawood Ahmad told The Indian Express.

In the morning, as a group of women started to assemble at Srinagar’s Pratap Park, the J&K Police arrived and drove them out of the park. And as soon the women displayed placards, Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) women personnel bundled them into police vehicles. After detaining them at the Kothibagh police station for several hours, the women were arrested and sent to the Central Jail.

“We were here for a silent sit-in protest. They (government) say that Kashmiris are happy (over scrapping of special status). We were here to say that we are not happy,” said Hawa Bashir before she was bundled into a police vehicle. “As we were trying to assemble, they closed all the doors (of the public park). Is this democracy?”

Placards displayed at the protest included ‘Kashmiri brides are not for sale’, ‘Resist to Exist’, ‘Release All Detainees’ and ‘Respect Fundamental Rights’. Many were snatched by police minutes after they arrived at the park.

At the police station, the 13 arrested women were booked under Section 107 (preventive custody) and shifted to Central Jail. A medical examination of those arrested women was also conducted at the JLNM Hospital in Rainawari.

In a statement issued at the time of their arrest, the women said they are individuals from different fields and “disapprove the unilateral decision taken by the government of Indian to revoke Article 370, 35A and downgrade and split the state of Jammu and Kashmir”.

“We feel betrayed, humiliated and violated as people,” the statement read. “We demand restoration of civil liberties and fundamental rights of citizens. We demand demilitarisation of rural and urban areas. We demand the immediate release of detainees, We express our outrage against the national media for their false/misleading coverage of ground realities in Kashmir”.

The National Conference condemned the detention of their party chief’s sister and daughter, describing the move as unprecedented and against people’s right to peaceful protest.

“Being kin of the former chief minister should not entail political victimisation, leading to curtailment of liberty and freedom of movement and speech,” said National Conference leaders in a joint statement.

Full report at:

https://indianexpress.com/article/india/srinagar-farooq-abdullahs-sister-daughter-arrested-during-protest-6070932/

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Will not allow water to Pakistan: PM Modi

by Safoora

October 16, 2019

Charki Dadri/Kurukshetra (Haryana): Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday said India would not allow its water to flow to Pakistan.

At the same time, he said he was happy the Kartarpur corridor project, linking India with the historic Kartarpur Sahib Gurdwara in Pakistan where the founder of Sikhism Guru Nanak Dev died, is about to be completed.

“For 70 years, the water which belongs to India and the farmers of Haryana flowed to Pakistan. Modi will stop this water and bring it to your houses,” the Prime Minister said in an election meeting, the second in two days, in Charki Dadri in Haryana.

He said the farmers of Haryana and Rajasthan have the right to the water that is flowing to Pakistan and had not been stopped by earlier Indian governments.

“Modi will fight your battle,” he assured people at the rally.

In another rally in Kurukshetra, Modi said he was happy that the Kartarpur corridor project was about to be completed.

The Prime Minister said the whole country is preparing to celebrate the 550th ‘Prakash Purb’ celebrations of Guru Nanak Dev on November 9.

The central government is making efforts to celebrate the festival globally, he added.

Clear Mandate

Modi said that the BJP has a clear mandate to take decisions in the national interest.

“Whatever objections the Congress and its allies have, the BJP has a clear view that decisions will be taken for whatever is appropriate in the national interest,” Modi said.

“We are fortunate that we have got the chance to fix the political and strategic failure that happened seven decades ago, to some extent. The privilege of coming to the land of the Gita always brings me a pleasant experience.”

Modi also spoke about the first Rafale fighter jet being handed over to India in France.

“Didn’t it bring happiness to you? We are proud and happy that our country is becoming stronger but I don’t know why Congress turns negative whenever the entire country is happy,” Modi said.

Pride For ‘Dangal’

Earlier, the Prime Minister said Chinese President Xi Jinping, during their informal summit in Mahabalipuram, Tamil Nadu, told him that he had watched the Aamir Khan-led ‘Dangal’.

“During my recent informal summit with Chinese President Xi Jinping, he said to me that he had seen ‘Dangal’ which showcased excellent performance of daughters of India. I felt really proud of Haryana on hearing this,” he added.

Two-time Commonwealth Games gold medallist Babita Phogat, daughter of wrestling coach and Droncharaya award winner Mahavir Singh Phogat whose character was portrayed by Aamir Khan in the blockbuster movie, is contesting the October 21 Assembly polls from Dadri.

Praising Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar, Modi said: “‘Beti Bachao Beti Padhao’ [save daughters, educate daughters] campaign would not have been effective without the support of Haryana villages.”

‘Lies’ About Article 370

Modi slammed Congress leaders for spreading “lies” over Article 370.

“At a time when the country is hailing the decision to abrogate Article 370 from Jammu and Kashmir, a few Congress leaders were spreading lies in the country and the world about it,” he said.

Modi dared the Congress by saying: “If you have guts, then say we will bring Article 370 [if we are voted to power].”

He said in Jammu and Kashmir the government is taking big decisions to safeguard human rights. “I ask so called spokespersons of human rights of the Congress, what have you done for those mothers who offer ‘namaz’ [prayers] for protection of their sons?” he said.

Playing an emotional card, the Prime Minister said: “I don’t come to Haryana for election rallies, I don’t campaign for the BJP in Haryana, I don’t ask for votes in Haryana. Haryana itself calls me. I can’t stop myself from coming here. You have given me so much love.”

Diwali For Daughters

Confident of his party’s return to the second consecutive term, the Prime Minister in his 45-minute address said the BJP was going to form the government again in the state. He said this Diwali should be dedicated to “our daughters”.

“We will have two types of Diwali this time. A ‘diya’ [earthen lamp] Diwali, and a ‘kamal’ [lotus] Diwali. We should dedicate this Diwali to our daughters and celebrate their achievements. It’s clear, the BJP has decided to serve Haryana again, these people have decided to let BJP serve them,” he added.

Haryana has been witnessing change due to a “double engine” of development, according to the Prime Minister.

“The double engine of Modi in Delhi and Manohar Lal Khattar in Haryana has resulted in unprecedented development of the state,” he said.

Modi said the government in Haryana has abolished the transfer-posting industry.

“This industry had its own rate card and its own methods. In this industry, corrupt leaders, as well as corrupt officials, earned much. Now this industry has collapsed as the transfer system has been made online.”

Full report at:

https://www.siasat.com/will-not-allow-water-pakistan-pm-modi-1693930/

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Pakistan

 

IMF technical team arrives in Pakistan for holding dialogues

October 15, 2019

ISLAMABAD: A technical team of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has arrived in Pakistan to hold dialogues with the economic officials for the payment of the next tranche of $6 billion under extended loan programme.

According to the sources the technical team will stay for two weeks in Pakistan, whereas, the first session of the financial talks was held with the economic team today.

The recent visit of the IMF officials was made for the payment of next tranche from the international financial body likely to be dispatched in 2020. Sources said that the visiting team initiated dialogues with Pakistan officials over the tax system.

The officials of the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) briefed the technical team regarding the matters related to income and sales taxes besides holding discussion over the possibilities of retrieving more than Rs700 billion in term of tax collections.

The technical team urged the Pakistani officials to eliminate exemptions being given on income and sales tax to increase the collections. Sources revealed that the technical team will also review the tax exemption which had been given during the tenures of Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N) and Pakistan People’s Party (PPP).

It may be noted here that Pakistan had received $1 billion from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) as the first tranche of a bailout package for balance of payment support on July 10.

In a previous visit of the financial institution’s officials in September, an IMF’s declaration had stated that Pakistan’s economic growth rate is projected at 2.4 per cent during the current financial year of 2019-20 and inflation is expected to decline in the coming months.

The delegation of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) led by Ernesto Ramirez Rigo had concluded its visit to Pakistan during September 16–20.

The Executive Board of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in its Washington meeting on July 3 approved $6 billion loan for Pakistan under its bailout programme.

Pakistan’s government and the IMF had already signed staff agreement on May 12. The Executive Board of the IMF will give its final nod to the agreement under which Pakistan will receive six billion dollars loan package from the lender in three years under the extended fund facility.

Earlier, Adviser to Prime Minister on Finance, Revenue and Economic Affairs Abdul Hafeez Shaikh had left for the United States to attend the annual meetings of International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank.

Sources said that Abdul Hafeez Shaikh will also hold important meetings with the officials of IMF and the World Bank during the visit. The adviser likely to return homeland by Sunday, sources added.—NNI

https://www.aaj.tv/english/latest/imf-technical-team-arrives-in-pakistan-for-holding-dialogues/

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Omani army chief praises Pakistan Army’s role in anti-terror fight

October 16, 2019

RAWALPINDI: Oman’s Chief of Army Staff Lieutenant General Ahmed on Tuesday called on Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa in Rawalpindi, said Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR).

In the meeting, matters of mutual interests and regional peace came under discussion.

The Omani general praised Pakistan Army’s achievements in the fight against terrorism.

He also said that army’s continued efforts for enduring regional peace and stability in South Asia are noteworthy.

On arrival at the General Headquarters (GHQ), General Ahmed was given guard of honor. Later, the general laid floral wreath at Yadgar-e-Shuhada to pay homage to the martyrs.

Earlier, on October 8, Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa had visited the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) headquarters and held meetings with the top brass of the Chinese military during his ongoing visit, Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) informed.

The ISPR spokesperson had said that the Army Chief visited PLA headquarters today and held separate meetings with the PLA commander and the vice-chairman of the Central Military Commission.

Full report at:

https://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2019/10/15/omani-army-chief-praises-pak-armys-role-in-fight-against-terrorism/

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PM meets King Salman, Prince MBS for ‘peace initiative’

October 16, 2019

RIYADH: Following his one-day trip to Iran two days ago, Prime Minister Imran Khan reached Saudi Arabia on Tuesday as part of his initiative for peace and security in the region where he met King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud and Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman Al Saud.

During the premier’s one-day trip, both sides discussed bilateral relations, peace and security in the region and international political situation as they met on Tuesday. They also discussed the ways and means to further strengthen bilateral cooperation. Prime Minister Khan, who is in the Kingdom as part of his initiative on peace and security in the region, stressed on the need of resolving differences and conflicts through political and diplomatic means for the sake of peace and stability in the region. He also briefed the Saudi leadership about the latest situation in the Indian Occupied Kashmir (IOK).

The premier was accompanied by Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi and Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Overseas Pakistanis Syed Zulfikar Bukhari.

Earlier, upon landing at Riyadh airport, the prime minister was received at the royal terminal by Riyadh Governor Faisal bin Bandar Al Saud, Minister of State Musaad bin Mohammed Al Aiban, the Pakistani ambassador to Saudi Arabia and other officials.

The Foreign Office (FO) had said that during the visit, the prime minister would confer with the Saudi leadership in light of his recent consultations with other leaders. Bilateral ties and other regional developments would also be part of the discussions, FO had added.

This was PM Imran’s third visit to Saudi Arabia this year.

Earlier, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman paid a state visit to Pakistan in February.

On Sunday, Imran met with Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani in Tehran on a one-day official trip. In the meetings, the leaders emphasised the need for peace in the region.

“In the past, Pakistan had hosted Saudi Arabia and Iran and is again willing to facilitate the brotherly countries to iron out their differences,” the premier had said in Tehran, adding that it was Pakistan’s own initiative to act as a “facilitator”.

Tensions in the region have been high for months, following US President Donald Trump’s decision to impose crushing sanctions that target Iran’s crude oil sales and have crippled its economy. Those sanctions came after Trump unilaterally withdrew the US from Tehran’s nuclear deal with world powers last year.

The tensions culminated in a September 14 attack on key Saudi oil infrastructure that halved the kingdom’s oil production.

The US blames Iran for the attack, something Tehran denies. Yemen’s Houthi rebels, whom the kingdom has been fighting in a years-long war, claimed the attack. Saudi Arabia also blamed the attack on Iran. However, in an interview with CBS programme “60 Minutes”, the crown prince stated that a war with Iran will be catastrophic for the global economy.

“We do not want a conflict between Saudi Arabia and Iran. We recognise that it’s a complex issue, we recognise that, but we feel that this can be resolved through dialogue,” Imran had said alongside Rouhani. “But what should never happen is war between Saudi Arabia and Iran.”

There have been at least four major and minor initiatives by Pakistan to mediate between the two countries since the 80s. Pakistan first tried its hand at mediation in the Middle East rivalry during the Iran-Iraq war.

Later in 1997, a meeting of the leadership of Iran and Saudi Arabia was hosted in Islamabad on the sidelines of an Organisation of Islamic Cooperation summit.

Former president Pervez Musharraf also tried to make headway during 2003-2004. However, his efforts did not make progress because he was seen as too close to the United States.

Full report at:

https://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2019/10/15/pm-meets-king-salman-prince-mbs-for-peace-initiative/

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Pakistan asks UN to ban India-based ‘IS terrorist’

October 16, 2019

Islamabad has moved United Nations Security Council under Resolution 1267 (the Al-Qaida Sanctions Committee) seeking action against Indian national Ajoy Mistry, an “Islamic State terrorist targeting Pakistan”.

Endorsed by China, Pakistan’s proposal to add Mistry in the ISIL and al Qaida Sanctions List has been circulated by the chair of the 1267 Committee to the other members this month, Hindustan Times reported.

The dossier describes Mistry as a “coordinator of [a] terror network in Afghanistan, who works with ISIL-Khorasan to undertake different terror activities in Pakistan”. It also maintains that he was involved in “facilitating the movement of foreign terrorist fighters from Syria and Iraq to Afghanistan and held a number of meetings with ISIL-Khorasan leaders in 2017 and 2018”.

According to the dossier, Mistry provided finances to the terrorist organisation’s leadership in August-September 2018 to carry out suicide attacks at Kalaya Bazaar, Orakzai in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in which 31 persons lost their lives.

Last month, Islamabad and Beijing, together, had moved a proposal to designate another Indian, Venumadhav Dongara, an engineer who is currently working in Afghanistan, as a global terrorist by the 1267 committee. However, the proposal was blocked by the United Nations.

Pakistan government had filed an FIR against Dongara in Peshawar on March 11, 2019, on charges of supplying weapons, ammunition and explosives to a terrorist group, which allegedly attacked the Badaber air base of Pakistan Air Force (PAF) in Peshawar on Sept 18, 2015.

Full report at:

https://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2019/10/15/islamabad-moves-unsc-to-ban-indian-isis-terrorist-for-targeting-pakistan/

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Pakistan Invites Khalistanis to Kartarpur Corridor Event

Oct 16, 2019

AMRITSAR: Pakistan railway minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed invited Khalistanis to attend the opening ceremony of the Kartarpur corridor and celebrations of Guru Nanak Dev's 550th birth anniversary. He also exhorted the locals to extend a warm welcome to the Khalistanis.

"Jab Sikh tashrif laayen, Khalistan ke log tashrif laayen to unki khoob aavobhagat ki jaaye aur khoob unki mehmaandari ki jaaye (Extend a warm welcome and hospitality to the Sikhs and Khalistanis when they arrive here)," Ahmed told people at a gathering in Nankana Sahib on Tuesday.

Pro-Khalistan controversial Sikh leader Gopal Singh Chawla, who has been shown the door by both Pakistan Sikh Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee and Evacuee Trust Property Board, was also seen sitting with the rail minister.

The minister announced that the Pakistan government was giving a new look to the Nankana Sahib railway station at the cost of Rs 7 crore. He said special trains would run across Pakistan for Sikh pilgrims.

Full report at:

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/pakistan/pakistan-invites-khalistanis-to-kartarpur-corridor-event/articleshow/71606049.cms

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Policeman killed, 10 injured in IED blast in Pakistan

Oct 15, 2019

ISLAMABAD: A policeman was killed and 10 other people sustained injuries in an improvised explosive device (IED) blast triggered by unidentified militants in Quetta, the capital of Pakistan's southwest Balochistan province, on Tuesday, a senior police officer said.

According to initial investigation, the explosive material was detonated by militants when the police vehicle passed by them during its routine patrolling in the city, Deputy Inspector General of Quetta Police Abdul Razzaq Cheema told Xinhua.

"The improvised explosive device was hidden inside a motorbike parked at the roadside. The injured people include policemen who were on-board the vehicle, and passers-by," he said.

Eyewitnesses told Xinhua that the intensity of the explosion was such that it caused a huge fire which engulfed four other vehicles passing by the area. The fire was later extinguished by firefighters.

The injured people were shifted to Civil Hospital Quetta where the Medical Superintendent Waseem Baig said that all of the injured are in stable condition, adding that they were trying to give the best possible medical treatment to the victims.

No group or individual has claimed responsibility for the attack so far.

Full report at:

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/pakistan/policeman-killed-10-injured-in-ied-blast-in-pakistan/articleshow/71602800.cms

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Imran apprises William, Kate about relations with India, Afghanistan

Oct 15, 2019

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan on Tuesday apprised Prince William and his wife Kate Middleton about his country's relations with India and Afghanistan as the royal couple began their first visit to the country, described as the "most complex".

"Their Royal Highnesses (TRH) the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge today began their tour of Pakistan with a day of education, conservation and official engagements in Islamabad," British embassy said in a statement.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, both 37, held a cordial meeting with Prime Minister Imran Khan at the Prime Minister House, where a lunch was hosted for the guests.

Khan's office said that welcoming the couple, Khan recalled the love and affection among the people of Pakistan for Princess Diana, because of her compassion as well as commitment to support charitable causes.

Khan commended the visiting dignitaries for raising awareness of the issues being faced by the modern world like climate change, inequality, and education.

The Prime Minister also lauded the royal couple for promoting positive activities in Pakistan and their interaction with young Pakistanis.

The Prime Minister apprised the royal couple of domestic priorities and Pakistan's perspective on external environment, including relations with India following the abrogation of the special status of Jammu and Kashmir under Article 370 in August and reconciliation in Afghanistan.

The Duke of Cambridge stated that Pakistan is a very important country for the UK. He thanked the government of Pakistan for the warm welcome and hospitality extended to them and their entourage.

Prior to meeting, the couple was received by President Alvi and his wife Samina Arif at Aiwan-i-Sadr.

The president commended the royal couple for their endeavours to raise awareness about mental health, climate change and poverty alleviation, a press release from the president's secretariat said.

The Duke of Cambridge thanked the president for the warm welcome and hospitality extended to him and his entourage. The royal couple appreciated the initiatives undertaken by the Pakistan government to combat climate change and to alleviate poverty, the statement said.

Duchess of Cambridge Kate, who earlier donned a royal blue kurta, changed into a green and white attire for the formal receptions.

The royal couple was accompanied by Thomas Drew, the British High Commissioner to Pakistan; Simon Case, the Principal Private Secretary to the Duke; and Christian Jones, the Communications Secretary to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.

Earlier, the couple visited a girls' school here and interacted with students.

They arrived in Islamabad on Monday, the first royal trip to the country in more than a decade.

The couple visited the Model College for Girls located in Islamabad. The college is a government-run school for disadvantaged from four to 18-year-olds, benefiting from the Teach for Pakistan programme based on the UK's Teach First scheme.

The royal couple toured parts of the school and also inspected a class of mathematics. They mixed with the students of the school.

The school administration briefed the royal couple, who are strong advocates of girls' education, about the school and they were also apprised about education system in Pakistan.

Full report at:

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/pakistan/imran-apprises-william-kate-about-relations-with-india-afghanistan/articleshow/71602344.cms

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JUI-F increases contacts with opposition parties for ‘Azadi March’

Amir Wasim

October 16, 2019

ISLAMABAD: With its planned anti-government ‘Azadi March’ just two weeks away, the Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam (JUI-F) has increased contacts with opposition parties to seek their support for the Oct 31 protest.

JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman on Tuesday talked to Jamaat-i-Islami (JI) naib emir Liaquat Baloch over telephone and briefed him on details of his party’s planned long march to Islamabad aimed at ousting the present coalition government led by Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI).

Later, a delegation of the National Party (NP) headed by its president Hasil Bizenjo also called on the Maulana and announced its complete support for ‘Azadi March’.

A JUI-F delegation led by Akram Durrani also met Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) secretary general Nayyar Bokhari in an effort to remove misunderstandings between the two parties on the issue of the by-elections on a Sindh Assembly seat from Larkana.

The JUI-F also held a meeting of its core committee in Islamabad to finalise the strategy for the Oct 31 march in the light of the discussions with leaders of the opposition parties.

Maulana Fazlur Rehman had already met Awami National Party president Asfandyar Wali Khan in Charsadda on Monday.

Speaking to reporters after his meeting with the JUI-F chief, Mr Bizenjo said there was no truth in the reports that the opposition parties were not on one page on the issue of ‘Azadi March’. He said such reports were being spread intentionally to give an impression that the opposition parties were divided.

He said it was on the insistence of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) that all the opposition parties decided to go to assemblies despite the fact that the 2018 elections were massively rigged. Today, he said, the time had proved that this government was “fake” and had no public mandate. In an apparent reference to the federal cabinet, he regretted that non-elected people were ruling the country.

Mr Bizenjo said the time had come that all parties should support the JUI-F’s march. He said the NP would fully participate in ‘Azadi March’, but a formal announcement in this regard would be made through a news conference on Thursday (tomorrow).

The JUI-F chief thanked Mr Bizenjo and the NP delegation members for their support, saying the NP had always raised voice for democracy and people’s rights.

“This is a matter of satisfaction for the whole nation that all the opposition parties are on one page and they all believe that the elections were rigged. The PTI has a fake mandate and there is a fake prime minister in the country. Even the world knows it which is evident from the fact that wherever he (the PM) goes, he succeeds in meeting world leaders only if he is accompanied by the army chief,” the Maulana said.

The JUI-F chief appealed to world leaders not to hold talks with the prime minister as he had no mandate of the public.

Maulana Fazlur Rehman alleged that “agencies” were contacting his party office-bearers to pressurise them and asking them to stay away from ‘Azadi March’. He said such interference by a national institution was harmful for itself and, therefore, the institutions should stay impartial.

Responding to a question, the Maulana said that his party wanted to hold an indefinite sit-in, but other opposition parties had different viewpoint. He said his party’s planned ‘Azadi March’ should not be compared with the 126-day sit-in that was staged by the PTI in 2014. He said his party would not make its workers tired. They would be asked to continue their protest movement, he said, adding they could be asked to participate in it at various stages.

“Do not touch the bee-hives,” he warned, saying that “a sea of people” cannot be stopped through barricades. He asked the government not to make any foolish move to stop marchers.

Full report at:

https://www.dawn.com/news/1511070

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Riyadh urged to resolve row with Tehran thru talks

Baqir Sajjad Syed

October 16, 2019

ISLAMABAD: Continuing with his endeavour to facilitate rapprochement between Saudi Arabia and Iran, Prime Minister Imran Khan on Tuesday met Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud and Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman to encourage a negotiated settlement of disputes with Iran.

A statement issued by the Foreign Office said that Prime Minister Khan advised the monarch to peacefully resolve regional disputes through diplomacy.

The statement did not say how King Salman responded to Mr Khan’s suggestion. Saudi Arabia has in the past shunned such initiatives by Pakistan.

Pakistan has tried to mediate on four occasions in the past — most lately in 2016 when the then PM Nawaz Sharif and Army Chief Gen Raheel Sharif visited Tehran and Riyadh to defuse the situation in the aftermath of execution of Saudi Shia cleric Baqir Al-Nimr. A curtain-raiser issued by the FO earlier in the day had also said the trip was part of Mr Khan’s “initiative for peace and security in the region”.

While Saudi Arabia and Iran have a history of hostile ties, the relations soured further after the start of Yemen war in 2015. Lately there has been a dangerous escalation in the situation following an attack claimed by the Houthis on Aramco-run oil fields and processing plant that crippled Saudi oil production.

It is feared that military confrontation between the two arch-rivals in the Gulf could have grave consequences for the neighbourhood and the region at large. It is in this context that efforts are being made by several countries, including Pakistan, to contain the crisis.

Prime Minister Khan first spoke about his initiative on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly session last month. He had then said that President Trump had asked him to help in defusing tensions in the region. Mr Khan had also discussed the issue with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani in their meeting in New York.

It was earlier claimed that the initiative had been taken on Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman’s request. The FO, however, later denied that the initiative was being undertaken on someone else’s behest and claimed that the initiative was PM Khan’s own for the sake of regional peace.

Besides King Salman, Mr Khan along with his delegation also met Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman during his stay in Riyadh.

PM Khan exchanged views with the crown prince on the security situation in the region and efforts for peace. He reiterated Pakistan’s ‘unwavering’ support and commitment to the security of the two Holy Mosques.

Earlier on Sunday, PM Khan with a similar message had travelled to Tehran, where the leadership welcomed Pakistan’s efforts aimed at defusing tensions in the region. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani in his media talk after meeting Mr Khan said: “Regional issues have to be resolved through regional means and dialogue. We also emphasised that any goodwill gesture will be responded with a goodwill gesture and good words.”

It is believed that the way out of the Iran-Saudi Arabia stand-off lies in the resolution of Yemen issue.

Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, too, had told Mr Khan that Iran “has proposed a four-article plan for finishing the war on Yemen since a long time ago; the end of this war can have positive effects on the region.”

US-Iran ties

Prime Minister Khan expressed optimism about possible improvements in US-Iran ties which are currently at the lowest ebb after President Donald Trump announced withdrawal from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), also known as the Iran nuclear deal, followed by imposition of pressing sanctions on Tehran, APP reported.

The prime minister, in a brief interview with a CNN programme hosted by Becky Anderson on Tuesday night, said that during his visit to New York, President Trump had asked him that he (Mr Khan) should try and go between Iran and the United States. And during his recent visit to Iran, PM Khan added, he had also spoken to Iranian President Hassan Rouhani about the US offer.

In reply to a question, the prime minister said the situation was evolving and he would not go into details. “Let’s see; it gets anywhere. I will not go into too much detail, until there is response from both sides.”

He admitted that relations between the two countries were more complicated; however, he expressed optimism that there was realisation on both sides.

About the US president, Mr Khan said the people criticised him often, but “I think, what I like in him that he does not believe in wars”.

Foreign investment

Prime Minister Khan welcomed a $240 million investment in Pakistan by a Hong Kong-based port operator and its commitment to the country’s economic prosperity.

Talking to a delegation of Hutchison Port Holdings, led by its Group Managing Director Eric Ip, which called on him on Tuesday, the prime minister reiterated the commitment and focus of the government to facilitate investment and ease-of-doing-business that would ultimately result in economic growth and employment generation.

According to a press release issued by the PM Office, Eric Ip apprised the prime minister of his company’s fresh investment of $240m in Pakistan that would make available a significant amount of new container terminal capacity at Karachi Port and increase Hutchison Port Holdings’ total investment in the country to $1 billion.

The prime minister was also briefed on the development of Hutchison Port Holdings, its parent company CK Hutchison Holdings, and the group’s commitment to playing a pivotal role in facilitating the economic growth of Pakistan, as well as supporting the development of Karachi Port into a major hub for trade in Asia.

Hutchison Port Holdings is one of the world’s largest port companies, with over 30,000 employees, operating 52 ports and terminals in 27 countries spanning Asia, the Middle East, Africa, Europe, the Americas and Australia.

Minister for Maritime Affairs Ali Haider Zaidi, Adviser to the PM on Commerce Abdul Razzak Dawood, Special Assistant to the PM on Overseas Pakistanis Zulfiqar Abbas Bukhari, Ambassador at Large for Foreign Investment Ali Jehangir Siddiqui, Board of Investment Chairman Zubair Haider Gilani and other senior officials were present during the meeting.

Full report at:

https://www.dawn.com/news/1511076/riyadh-urged-to-resolve-row-with-tehran-thru-talks

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Shahbaz, Fazl meeting now on 18th

October 16, 2019

LAHORE: A meeting between PML-N president Shahbaz Sharif and Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam (JUI-F) chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman has been deferred to Oct 18 (Friday) because of the latter’s engagements with regard to the ‘Azadi March’ preparation.

“The duo’s meeting scheduled to be held on Wednesday (today) has been put off till Friday to discuss a strategy on the march. Both will hold a press conference after the meeting to inform the public about important decisions regarding the protest,” PML-N spokesperson Marriyum Aurangzeb said here on Tuesday.

The PML-N on Monday cleared the air of uncertainty about its participation in the JUI-F protest, deciding that the opposition party will join the march whether it remains a rally or turns into a sit-in against the government.

Shahbaz Sharif had asked the party leaders at the meeting to mobilise workers in the light of party supremo Nawaz Sharif’s instructions to fully participate in the march of the Maulana on Oct 31.

Meanwhile, Shahbaz notified leaders against the vacant party posts as part of the PML-N preparations for the march.

Sheikh Aftab has been made senior vice president Punjab. Saira Tarar, Saud Majeed, Manshaullah Butt, Zakiya Shahnawaz and Amanullah Shadikhel have been made vice presidents in Punjab. Zeeshan Rafique has been made additional general secretary and Rana Arshad and Khwaja Waseem have been notified as joint secretaries.

Full report at:

https://www.dawn.com/news/1511115/shahbaz-fazl-meeting-now-on-18th

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PM expresses optimism over improvement in US-Iran ties

October 16, 2019

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan has sounded his optimism about possible improvement in the US-Iran ties, which have been currently at the lowest ebb after US President Donald Trump announced withdrawal from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), also known as the Iran nuclear deal followed by imposition of pressing sanctions.

The prime minister, in a brief interview with CNN’s programme hosted by Becky Anderson on Tuesday night, said during his visit to New York, the US president asked him that he (the PM) should try and go between Iran and the United States.

During his recent visit to Iran, he also spoke to Iranian President Hassan Rouhani about the US offer, he added.

The prime minister, to a question, replied that the situation was evolving and he would not go into details. “Let’s see; it gets anywhere.” he said, adding, “I did not go into too much detail, until there is response from both sides.”

He also admitted that the relations between the two countries were more complicated.

To another query, he expressed his optimism that there was realization on both sides.

Full report at:

https://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2019/10/15/pm-expresses-optimism-over-improvement-in-us-iran-ties/

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Royal Salute: When there’s a Will there’s a way

October 16, 2019

ISLAMABAD: Prince William, the Duke of Cambridge, on Tuesday acknowledged Pakistan’s success in the war against terrorism, as he lauded all those who “endured sacrifice and helped build Pakistan to the country it is today”.

William’s acknowledgement of Pakistan’s sacrifices came during his first official speech delivered during a reception at the Pakistan National Monument in Islamabad hosted by the British High Commissioner to Pakistan Thomas Drew in honour of the royal couple..

“For a country so young, Pakistan has endured many hardships, with countless lives lost to terror and hatred. Tonight I want to pay tribute to all those who have endured such sacrifice and helped to build the country that we see today,” said William.

He recognised that for “Pakistan’s great potential” to be realised, difficulties will have to be faced and sacrifices made.

William also spoke of the “unique bonds” between the two countries and that Pakistan can “rely on UK to keep playing an important role as a key partner and [a] friend”.

“Whether it’s this generation or the next, I know that the UK and Pakistan will continue to exemplify the very best in international cooperation,” he added.

Laying emphasis on the importance of educating the youth, Prince William said that it “will be the key that turns the country’s growing population into an engine of growth and help unlock this country’s enormous potential”.

He called for a concerted effort between both countries to surmount the challenge of climate change. “Whether in Pakistan or the UK or elsewhere on our planet — we face shared global challenges. The effects of climate change threaten the present and the future,” he said.

William cautioned against the rising temperatures leading to “a loss of over a third of [Pakistan’s] vital glaciers in less than a century, with enormous impacts not only on the availability of water, but on agriculture and hydropower generation”.

Full report at:

https://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2019/10/15/royal-salute-when-theres-a-will-theres-a-way/

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Arab World

 

US seizes only two British Isis prisoners in Syria, leaving others

14 Oct 2019

US forces in north-east Syria have been able to seize only two British Islamic State prisoners despite previous briefings that they intended to forcibly take a few dozen from Kurdish custody.

Kurdish military refused to allow US special forces to take anyone apart from Alexanda Kotey and El Shafee Elsheikh, forcing them to leave behind several dozen detainees and prompting warnings that an opportunity to put other Isis leaders on trial had been missed.

The duo are members of the “Beatles” cell, a group of Britons accused of being responsible for the torture and beheading of British and US hostages, incidents that were apparently filmed and broadcast on social media.

Initial briefings suggested the US had hoped to take about 40 prisoners to Iraq as Turkey’s invasion of north-east Syria began, but officials acknowledged that only Kotey and Elsheikh had been seized, indicating the plan had at least partially backfired.

British officials, who have been kept apprised of the situation, confirmed on Monday they understood that only the two men were under US control. It is believed they are being held at a US military base in neighbouring Iraq.

A British lawyer representing Diane Foley, the mother of one of the victims of the Isis executions, James Foley, said she wanted the two to be put on trial in either the US or the UK, but without the death penalty as a possible sentence.

Toby Cadman, a barrister, said that Foley had also wanted to “see other Isis leaders put on trial” and expressed concern that an opportunity had “absolutely been missed for western countries to take responsibility”.

Foley had received no information from the US authorities as to what is happening to Kotey and Elsheikh, although Cadman said he expected that the two men would be put on trial in Virginia, in the US, where the courts are considered to be the most experienced in handling terrorism cases.

British politicians previously indicated that the UK was happy to hand over the two men to be tried in the US, although the decision is being challenged by Elsheikh’s mother in the British supreme court.

Cadman complained that Britain and other western nations had failed to find a way of putting Isis fighters on trial, either in their home countries or elsewhere in the region, preferring to leave them in Kurdish detention.

Sources said there had been some attempt to set up an international tribunal last year, but that had foundered. The Kurdish administration argued as recently as last month that a war crimes court should be set up, although that would require the support of the United Nations to be formally recognised.

Turkey launched an offensive against the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) over its southern border on Wednesday, a move condoned by Donald Trump. Concerns were repeatedly raised that the SDF would struggle to continue to keep the 10,000-plus Isis fighters – including 1,000 Britons and other foreigners – in custody and their fate remains uncertain as military action continues.

There have been repeated warnings that the detainees could be released or escape, although they may fall into the hands of the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad, whose military is now entering north-east Syria at the invitation of the Syrian Kurds in an attempt to repel the Turkish forces.

Other fighters and Isis supporters remain in refugee camps – holding in excess of 100,000 people – which were safeguarded by the SDF. On Sunday, Kurdish officials said that about 850 foreigners had escaped from the camp at Ain Issa, near the frontline of the fighting.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/oct/14/us-british-isis-prisoners-syria

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Security, Political Messages behind Hezbollah’s Threat to Lebanese Banks

15 October, 2019

Hezbollah’s threats to take to the streets to confront Lebanese bank measures hold security and political messages to local and foreign powers.

The Iran-backed party had threatened to stage protests against banks that adhere to US sanctions against its leaders and economic institutions.

The threat had alarmed observers, who expressed their concern that Iran may seize control of Lebanon’s financial stability in order to draw Washington’s attention and lure it to the negotiations table.

The pro-Hezbollah local Lebanese daily, al-Akhbar, revealed that the party leadership has outlined several steps, including street protests to confront the banks.

The party will not stand idly by as the banks and other institutions adhere to American sanctions, it reported.

The daily said the party had taken the decision to confront the banks, but it has yet to decide on the way to do so.

While the party fell short on announcing the date for such rallies, a banking source told Asharq Al-Awsat that the Hezbollah threat jeopardizes security and “gives its supporters the green light to attack and storm banks.”

“There are no fears on the financial sector and people’s deposits in the banks where liquidity is available,” it added. “However, any street protest would create concern and confusion among the people.”

“Banks play no role in the sanctions,” he stressed, saying people should instead protest against officials who have driven Lebanon to the abyss.

Economic expert Dr. Sami Nader told Asharq Al-Awsat that Hezbollah’s message is primarily aimed against the US, saying that it can target two Lebanese institutions that Washington deems a red line: The Lebanese army and banking sector.

Hezbollah previously attempted to target Army Commander General Joseph Aoun when it brought up the case of Amer al-Fakhoury, a Lebanese who had collaborated with Israel, he explained.

The party failed in its efforts and therefore, now set its sights on the banking sector, he noted.

Nader wondered whether Lebanese banks should refuse to abide by the US sanctions and suffer the same fate as the Jammal Trust Bank that liquidated itself last month.

The political aspect of Hezbollah’s threats is related to the ongoing US conflict with Iran.

Coordinator of the March 14 General Secretariat, former deputy Fares Souaid told Asharq Al-Awsat on Monday that the party follows Iranian instructions.

He said Tehran wants to attract the attention of the US and the world by creating tensions and destabilizing the Arab world.

He said that Iran started with the “war on tankers, then attacked Aramco facilities in Saudi Arabia and is now trying to manipulate Lebanon’s monetary stability.”

“Washington is aware that the banks are the backbone of Lebanon’s financial and economic stability and there are concerns that Iran would fulfill its pledge to target the banks. However, the US will not come to the rescue of the banking sector,” he warned.

“We take these threats seriously and realize that the US is not concerned with saving the sector,” he continued, while questioning the government’s silence over the issue.

Full report at:

https://aawsat.com/english/home/article/1946296/security-political-messages-behind-hezbollah%E2%80%99s-threat-lebanese-banks

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Expert Reveals US Plot to Transfer Thousands of ISIL Terrorists from Syria to Iraq

Oct 15, 2019

Hafez Al-Basharah told the Arabic-language al-Ma'aloumeh news website on Tuesday that the US which has created and supported the ISIL terrorists in the past few years is now plotting to create a safe area for them in Iraq.

He added that Washington which has chosen three areas in Iraq for the ISIL relocation, wants to transfer the militants first to the regions under Turkey's military attacks in Syria and then to Iraq.

"The first region that the US intends to transfer the ISIL terrorists is an area between Albu Kamal in Syria and Qa'em in Iraq; the second region is Ein al-Assad base; and the third area is one of the US bases in the Iraqi Kurdistan region," al-Basharah said.

The Arabic-language media outlets had reported in July that Washington planned to bring back a more dangerous version of the ISIL terrorist group to Iraq and Syria after its failure to achieve its mischievous goals in the region.

The Arabic-language website of the Russian Sputnik news agency quoted Hessam Sho'aib, a Syrian military expert on terrorist organizations, as saying that a recent report by the US-based Institute for Studies of War (ISW) on rebirth of the ISIL terrorists in Iraq and Syria exposes this reality that the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) has created the ISIL and is preparing the grounds for the return of the terrorist groups, specially the ISIL, to the region.

Sho'aib noted that the ISW's report on ISIL's dominance over several regions in Iraq and Syria such as Mosul shows that the US is not looking for establishment of peace in the region and ISIL's retreat from Raqqa has taken place on CIA's order and not a defeat in war against the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).

He reiterated that the SDF is also a part of the CIA's plot for Syria, and said, "The US has come to know that it cannot conduct any kind of military operation against Iran, and therefore it has resorted to reviving the terrorist groups to carry out terrorist attacks as a much cheaper scenario for the region.

Full report at:

https://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13980723000709

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MSF suspends work in northeast Syria, withdraws foreign aid workers

15 October 2019

Medecins Sans Frontieres (Doctors Without Borders) said on Tuesday it had suspended most of its medical aid activities in northeast Syria and was evacuating all international staff in the wake of air strikes and violence during Turkey’s week-old offensive.

“The decision to suspend the majority of MSF’s activities comes as the humanitarian situation spirals further out of control and needs are likely to increase,” MSF said in a statement that followed another aid group Mercy Corps suspending its aid work on Monday.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2019/10/15/MSF-suspends-work-in-northeast-Syria-withdraws-foreign-aid-workers.html

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Syrian Observatory: SDF captures Syria’s Ras al-Ain

15 October 2019

The Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) recaptured on Tuesday Syria’s Ras al-Ain, the Syrian Observatory of Human Rights reported, following heavy clashes with Turkish forces in the area.

Syrian regime troops entered the key Syrian city of Manbij, state news agency SANA said on Monday, after Damascus deployed troops to the country’s north to contain a days-long Turkish offensive.

A local official in Manbij, controlled by a military council linked to the Kurdish administration, confirmed that troops had “entered (Manbij) and deployed on frontlines.”

The Syrian army had dispatched a limited number of troops around Manbij last year at the request of Kurdish forces to protect the area from a feared Turkish assault.

US President Donald Trump on Monday demanded Turkey stop its military incursion in Syria and imposed new sanctions on the NATO ally as Trump scrambled to limit the damage from his much-criticized decision to clear US troops from Turkey’s path.

The Turkish military offensive in Syria has displaced at least 160,000 civilians, the UN secretary general said on Monday in a statement urging an “immediate de-escalation.”

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2019/10/15/Syrian-Observatory-SDF-captures-Syria-s-Ras-al-Ain-.html

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Syrian army troops take full control of Manbij

Oct 15, 2019

Syrian army troops have established full control over Manbij, a city in the northern province of Aleppo, and its nearby settlements, amid Turkey’s cross-border invasion in northeastern Syria and an abrupt US retreat of its forces from the city.

Syria’s official news agency SANA reported on Tuesday that Syrian Arab Army units completed their deployment in Manbij and its surroundings, where they were welcomed by the locals.

It added that residents of the northeastern city gathered in the city center, carrying Syrian flags and cheering for the army forces, which arrived to defend the city and its people from the Turkish military invasion.

The Russian Ministry of Defense, as cited by the Tass news agency, also confirmed that Manbij and an area of more than 1,000 square kilometers around it were now under the full control of Syrian soldiers.

“The Syrian government army has established full control over the city of Manbij and nearby inhabited communities,” it said.

It added that the government troops had taken control of the Tabqa military airfield, two hydroelectric power plants, and a number of bridges across the Euphrates River.

Manbij is located some 85 kilometers east of Aleppo, the capital city of the eponymous province. Back in August 2016, the city was liberated from the Daesh terrorist group, which had turned the city into one of its major outposts in the Arab country.

On Sunday, Damascus said that it had deployed troops to northern Syria to counter the Turkish army.

On October 9, Turkish military forces and the Turkish-backed militants launched a cross-border invasion of northeast Syria in a declared attempt to push Kurdish militants from the so-called People’s Protection Units (YPG) away from border areas.

Ankara views the US-backed YPG as a terrorist organization tied to the homegrown Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) militant group, which has been involved in armed separatism in Turkey since 1984.

Turkey plans to create a 32-kilometer “safe zone” in northeast Syria, clear it from the presence of Kurdish militants, and relocate one million Syrian refugees there.

The Syrian government has condemned the act of aggression.

Earlier on Tuesday, the US military said that it had withdrawn all of its forces from Manbij.

“Coalition forces are executing a deliberate withdrawal from northeast Syria. We are out of Manbij,” wrote Col. Myles B. Caggins III, a US military spokesman, on Twitter.

Full report at:

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2019/10/15/608762/Syria-Manbij-Turkey

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Saudi chief of Vienna-based interfaith center calls for peaceful coexistence

October 15, 2019

CAIRO: Faisal bin Abdulrahman bin Muaammar, the secretary-general of the Vienna-based King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz International Center for Interreligious and Intercultural Dialogue (KAICIID) stressed the importance of the first Cairo Arab meeting on the opportunities and challenges of coexistence, and the importance of working together to consolidate coexistence, respect diversity and accept pluralism under the umbrella of shared citizenship.

Full report at:

https://www.arabnews.com/node/1569481/saudi-arabia

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Russian President Vladimir Putin off to UAE after successful Saudi Arabia visit

October 15, 2019

DUBAI: Russian President Vladimir Putin left Saudi Arabia on Tuesday, and bound for the UAE, after a multimillion-dollar tranche of deals signed in Riyadh a day earlier in his first official visit to Saudi Arabia since 2012.

The 20 agreements covered oil and other energy industries, space and satellite navigation, justice, health services, tax administration, mineral wealth, tourism and aviation, along with cultural cooperation and the enhancement of trade relations.Putin, together with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, also presided over the first meeting of the Saudi-Russian Economic Committee in Riyadh on Monday.

Full report at:

https://www.arabnews.com/node/1569186/saudi-arabia

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UAE and Russia sign deals worth $1.3bn during Putin's Abu Dhabi visit

October 15, 2019

ABU DHABI: Vladmir Putin signed deals worth more than $1.3 billion with the United Arab Emirates on Tuesday as his Gulf tour came to an end in Abu Dhabi.

The Russian president arrived in the UAE’s capital earlier in the day, following his visit to Saudi Arabia where he met King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in Riyadh.

Putin was greeted by the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, at the Presidential Airport with a 21-gun salute.

He then arrived at the Presidential Palace Qasr Al-Watan where there was an official welcoming ceremony.

The pair struck six agreements, including one on shared investments between Russia’s sovereign wealth fund and the Emirati investment fund Mubadala.

Deals worth more than $1.3 billion, notably in the energy, advanced technology and health sectors, were tabled during Putin's visit, according to the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF).

“You will not be disappointed by your Russian partners,” Putin said as he arrived.

Sheikh Mohammed tweeted: “This historic visit reflects the strength of UAE-Russia relations, which we will continue to jointly promote at all levels for the mutual benefit of our nations.”

محمد بن زايد

@MohamedBinZayed

Replying to @MohamedBinZayed

I welcome President Vladimir Putin as an honoured guest to the UAE. This historic visit reflects the strength of UAE-Russia relations, which we will continue to jointly promote at all levels for the mutual benefit of our nations.

View image on Twitter

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Among the Gulf countries, the UAE is the leader in terms of trade with Russia,” Kremlin adviser Yuri Ushakov told reporters ahead of the Gulf tour.

In 2018, commerce between the two countries tabled some $1.7 billion.

As Putin made his way to the presidential palace, jets painted the sky white, blue and red - the colours of the Russian flag - and cannons fired a ceremonial salute.

The streets of Abu Dhabi were lined with Emirati and Russian flags, while road signs that usually display traffic warnings instead greeted Putin in Arabic and Russian.

Putin and Sheikh Mohammed also met Emirati astronaut Hazza Al-Mansoori, who last month became the first Arab to reach the International Space Station on board a Russian rocket.

We are ready to continue providing all the necessary assistance to the United Arab Emirates in the space sector,” Putin told Sheikh Mohammed.

In the build up to his visit Abu Dhabi lit up its famous landmarks with colors of the Russian flag to mark Putin’s return to the UAE, his first official visit since 2007.

ADNOC’s headquarters at the Abu Dhabi Corniche was displaying at its facade a huge LED portrait of Putin and Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed in a firm handshake – apparently taken during the latter’s visit to Moscow in 2017 – as well as the Russian flag.

Other landmarks that also draped their buildings with Russia’s flag colors were Emirates Palace, Marina Mall, Khalifa University, Capital Gate Hotel, Abu Dhabi Global Market and the UAE Cultural Foundation.

The visit reflects the strong overall strategic partnership between the two countries and will enhance their cooperation in vital sectors,” Sergei Kuznetsov, the Russian ambassador to the UAE, earlier said, adding that the visit will strengthen the relations between the two countries, especially in light of their strategic partnership.

Full report at:

https://www.arabnews.com/node/1569171/middle-east

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Mideast

 

Iran’s Larijani urges IPU states to pay due attention to Palestine issue

Oct 15, 2019

Iran’s Parliament (Majlis) Speaker Ali Larijani has highlighted the significance of the issue of Palestine for Muslims, calling on the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) to serve as the “clear voice” of the Palestinian nation amid the challenges facing the Islamic world.

Larijani made the remarks in a meeting with the IPU’s Secretary-General Martin Chungong in the Serbian capital, Belgrade, on Monday.

“The IPU must be a clear voice for Palestine because Palestine is being ignored amid the chaos gripping the Muslim world,” Larijani told Chungong.

Heading a parliamentary delegation, Larijani arrived in Belgrade to participate in the 141st IPU assembly, scheduled for October 13-17. The event is attended by parliamentary delegations from around 180 countries.

The Iranian parliament speaker further called for enhanced economic ties among Muslim countries, saying that Muslims should take advantage of the IPU’s potentials in this regard.

Chungong, for his part, briefed Larijani on the performance of the IPU, which is based in Tehran, saying several committees would be activated in the year ahead, with their focus on unemployment, human rights, terrorism and extremism.

Established in 1889, the Inter-Parliamentary Union works for peace, cooperation and the establishment of democracy in close contact with the United Nations.

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2019/10/15/608702/Iran-Parliament-Speaker-Larijani-Palestine-Muslim-world-IPU-Secretary-General--Chungong-Belgrade

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Turkey may be 'responsible' for executions of Kurds in Syria: UN

 Oct 15, 2019

The United Nations has warned that reported summary executions of civilians in northeastern Syria carried out by Turkish-backed Takfiri terrorists could constitute a “war crime,” and that the Ankara government could be “deemed responsible.”

The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) said on Tuesday that its staff had viewed two separate pieces of video footage “showing what appears to be summary executions carried out by fighters belonging to the Ahrar al-Sharqiya armed group, which is affiliated with Turkey, on October 12.”

The OHCHR Spokesman Rupert Colville told reporters in the Swiss city of Geneva that the footage, which has been widely shared on social media, appeared “to show the fighters filming themselves capturing and executing three Kurdish captives” on the main highway.

“Only one of the captives appeared to be wearing a military uniform,” he said adding that the office had also received reports of the execution of Hevrin Khalaf, the Secretary General of the Kurdish Future Movement in Syria, the same day “on the same highway.”

Colville further noted that the UN was working to verify the footage and confirm the details of the events, but stressed that under international law, “summary executions are serious violations, and may amount to a war crime.”

The top UN official warned that “Turkey could be deemed responsible as a state for violations committed by their affiliated armed groups, as long as Turkey exercises effective control over these groups or the operations in the course of which those violations occurred.”

Colville called on Ankara “to immediately launch an impartial, transparent and independent investigation into both incidents.”

Turkey, he said, must also “apprehend those responsible, some of whom should be easily identifiable from the video footage they themselves shared on social media.”

Militants from the Kurdish-dominated and so-called Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) said over the weekend that at least nine civilians were “executed” as part of Turkey's incursion into northeastern Syria.

Iran calls for end to Turkish incursion

Moreover, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has demanded an end to the Turkish military campaign in northern Syria.

“The imperative now is to end the incursion into #Syria & address all concerns through #ADANA,” Zarif wrote in a post published on his official Tweeter page late on Tuesday.

Javad Zarif

@JZarif

The imperative now is to end the incursion into #Syria & address all concerns through #ADANA.

Meanwhile, it is essential that the core principles of JUS IN BELLO are fully observed: distinction between civilians and combatant, & prohibition on inflicting unnecessary suffering.

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The top Iranian diplomat added, “Meanwhile, it is essential that the core principles of JUS IN BELLO are fully observed: distinction between civilians and combatant, & prohibition on inflicting unnecessary suffering.”

Russia wants Turkey to wrap up Syria incursion soon

Russia also called Turkey's military incursion into northeast Syria "unacceptable," and said the operation had to be limited in time and scale.

“We didn't agree with the Turks any questions about their presence in Syria and we don't approve of their actions,” President Vladimir Putin's envoy for Syria, Alexander Lavrentiev, told reporters in Abu Dhabi, the United Arab Emirates, on Tuesday during an official visit there by the Russian leader.

He said Turkish troops had the right under a 1998 agreement between Ankara and Damascus, known as the Adana Interstate Agreement on Combating Terrorism, to temporarily push up to a maximum of 10 kilometers (6 miles) into Syria to conduct counter-terrorism operations.

“But it doesn't give them (Turkish troops) the right to remain on Syrian territory permanently and we are opposed to Turkish troops staying on Syrian territory permanently,” Lavrentiev pointed out.

Turkey players salute Syria operation after goal against France

Meanwhile, Turkish footballers have celebrated their goal in a 1-1 draw against world champions France during a Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) EURO 2020 qualifier at Stade de France in Saint-Denis with a military salute to soldiers fighting in northeast Syria on Monday night, raising the risk of an investigation by the European football's ruling body after a similar gesture against Albania three days earlier.

Olivier Giroud scored for France in the 75th minute of the showdown before Kaan Ayhan equalized for Turkey six minutes later. His teammates then lined up in front of the away supporters and saluted.

Turkey's veteran coach Senol Gunes defended the team's action, saying it was a gesture of respect for the armed forces rather than a political statement or agitation.

MSF halts operations in northeast Syria

Moreover, the Paris-based aid agency Doctors Without Borders, known by the French acronym MSF (Medecins Sans Frontieres), said on Tuesday that it was suspending most of its operations in northeastern Syria amid Turkey’s offensive in the territory.

“The latest developments have increased the need for humanitarian assistance, yet it is impossible to deliver it with the current insecurity,” Robert Onus, the medical charity's emergency manager for Syria, said in a statement.

MSF said it had been distributing blankets, food and water to “thousands of people who were arriving in the (northeastern Syrian) town (of Tal Tamer) since the Turkish incursion began last week.

“Given the numerous groups fighting on different sides of the conflict, we can no longer guarantee the safety of our Syrian and international staff,” it said.

“We are extremely worried about the safety of our Syrian colleagues and their families who remain in northeast Syria,” the charity noted.

MSF said its personnel would remain in northwest Syria, providing health care at facilities and in mobile clinics.

UN Security Council to meet on Syria again

Separately, the United Nations Security Council will likely meet on Wednesday to discuss latest developments in Syria.

Diplomats, requesting not to be named, said a closed-door discussion had been requested by the body’s five European members, namely Britain, France, Germany, Belgium and Poland.

It will be the second council meeting since Turkey began a cross-border military incursion into northeast Syria.

Erdogan: Turkey will never declare ceasefire in northern Syria

Furthermore, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan told his US counterpart Donald Trump that Ankara will never declare a ceasefire in northeastern Syria, and added that he was not worried about US sanctions over his country’s offensive against Kurdish positions in the area.

Speaking to reporters on a flight back from the Azerbaijani capital city of Baku, Erdogan said talks with Washington and Moscow on Syria's Kurdish cities of Kobani, officially Ayn al-Arab, and Manbij near the Turkish border continued, adding that it was “not negative” for Syrian government forces to enter Manbij as long as militants in the area were cleared, Turkish-language NTV television news network reported.

He also said he told Trump that Turkey would “not negotiate with a terrorist organization” in response to Trump's mediation offer.

611 terrorists 'neutralized' by Turkish operation

The Turkish Defense Ministry also said on Tuesday that a total of 611 Kurdish militants from the People's Protection Units (YPG) had been neutralized ever since Turkey's operation in northern Syria started.

T.C. Millî Savunma Bakanlığı

@tcsavunma

Fırat’ın doğusunda planlandığı gibi başarılı şekilde devam eden Barış Pınarı Harekâtı’nda etkisiz hale getirilen PKK/YPG’li terörist sayısı toplam 611 oldu. 🇹🇷

 #MSB #TSK #BarışPınarıHarekatı

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Turkish authorities often use the word “neutralized” to imply the terrorists in question surrendered or were killed or captured.

On October 9, Turkish military forces and Ankara-backed militants launched a long-threatened cross-border invasion of northeast Syria in a declared attempt to push YPG militants away from border areas.

Full report at:

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2019/10/15/608773/Turkey-may-be-responsible-for-executions-of-Kurds-in-Syria-UN

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Freed Russian Journalist Recounts Harrowing Ordeal In Iranian Jail

October 14, 2019

Russian journalist and author Yulia Yuzik, who was detained in Tehran for more than a week, says Iranian interrogators accused her of working for Israel and "destroyed me psychologically" before her surprise release.

"They were sure that Yuzik was a Jewish surname, there was no doubt that I was Jewish and worked as an analyst for the Israeli secret services," she told RFE/RL's Russian Service in an interview published on October 12.

Yuzik, who had previously lived and worked as a journalist in Iran, was stopped on September 29 when she arrived in Tehran for a private visit.

Her passport was seized at Imam Khomeini Airport. On October 2, Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) officers detained her at her hotel.

She was taken to an unknown jail, where she was held in isolation and underwent numerous interrogations, she said.

Officially, the Iranian government said that she was being held for visa violations and that her case had nothing to do with "counterespionage," but people close to Yuzik said otherwise.

Her ex-husband, journalist Boris Voitsekhovsky, said that Yuzik had told her mother in a brief telephone call that she had been accused of having ties to Israeli intelligence services. He wrote in a Facebook post that she faced 10 years in prison.

And one of her daughters, writing on her mother's Facebook account, said Yuzik faced "huge problems" and that a court hearing on October 5 "will decide her fate."

Work In Iran

The detention of Yuzik, a well-known author who in 2016 ran for the State Duma with the opposition PARNAS party, attracted widespread attention from across the political and social spectrums.

Media coverage prompted a grassroots petition that collected 45,000 signatures calling for Yuzik's release. Reporters Without Borders on October 8 called for her immediate release and decried that that she had been denied legal and consular access. And Russia's Foreign Ministry summoned Iran's ambassador to explain the circumstances of Yuzik's arrest to Moscow.

None of this was known to Yuzik as she sat alone in a concrete-floored cell furnished with only a few blankets.

"Sitting in my cell for the first day, I blamed myself very much for being so wrong and placing my family in such risk," she told RFE/RL.

Yuzik previously worked in Iran as a correspondent for a Russian media outlet, and is the author of two bestsellers -- Brides Of Allah, about women suicide bombers; and Requiem For Beslan, in which she interviewed survivors of the 2004 Beslan school massacre in Russia's North Ossetia.

She said that after encountering stagnation in her career in Russia she decided in 2017 to accept an offer to work again in Iran, "not realizing what kind of channel was calling."

Iran Today is a program of PressTV, a 24-hour network that broadcasts to foreign markets. Yuzik, a mother of four, said she was set up with an apartment, given a visa, and told to bring her children.

She said that for a couple months she "sincerely tried to make small news items from Iran. But then she decided it was not for her and, on the pretext that her son was sick, she left.

Russian media have reported that her recent trip was at the invitation of her former boss at Iran Today.

Speaking to RFE/RL, Yuzik suggested that she had been set up, and that her ordeal might be related to a Facebook page she created after she left Iran to share her expertise on the Middle East. She said she wrote short analytical observations regarding events that concerned Iran, but that she "underestimated the danger" of including Israeli news on the page.

Among the developments she wrote about was the reported defection of IRGC Brigadier General Ali Nasiri in April.

"I was one of the first in Russia to write that the head of Iranian counterintelligence fled either to Israel or to America," she said. "When I ended up in this cell, I started thinking that perhaps he hadn't fled -- maybe it was all some kind of propaganda fake."

"Imagine -- he is still in Iranian counterintelligence, and I, who wrote that he was an agent for the Israeli secret services, am returning to Iran," she said. "Perhaps they just turned the situation around on me -- accusing me of working for Israel."

Another scenario, she said, was that "even if he fled to Israel, perhaps they [the Iranian authorities] just took revenge on me."

Freedom!

Ultimately, she said, her fate was decided on the evening of October 9 "at the highest level in Iran."

"On the last day, the investigators who conducted the interrogation gave me complete hell, broke me, and destroyed me psychologically," she said. "They left at around 2 p.m. and told me that someone would return for me in the evening, when it's getting dark, and that either they or people from the IRGC would do something to me that I couldn't even imagine."

When the time came she was blindfolded and taken by car to an unknown destination by the same IRGC officers who detained her.

"They lifted me up, I smell that it's some kind of underground garage, some kind of parking, I hear us going by elevator," she said of her arrival. "I have a blindfold, I see only men's legs, shoes. A lot of men, they lead me somewhere. They remove the blindfold."

Yuzik saw that she was in a quiet reception hall, but did not realize she was at the airport when an employee from the Russian Embassy entered.

"Yulia Viktorovna, I congratulate you, you will be released now, and officially transferred to Russia," she recalled the man saying.

She arrived in Moscow early in the morning of October 10, but she told RFE/RL that she had "a feeling that the story has not yet ended."

Full report at:

https://www.rferl.org/a/freed-russian-journalist-recounts-harrowing-ordeal-in-iranian-jail/30216372.html

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Kremlin envoy calls Turkish military operation in Syria ‘unacceptable’: Report

15 October 2019

The Kremlin’s envoy for Syria on Tuesday called Turkey’s military offensive in northeast Syria “unacceptable” and complained that the operation had not been cleared by Moscow in advance, the Interfax news agency reported.

Alexander Lavrentiev, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s envoy for Syria, also confirmed that Russia had brokered an agreement between the Syrian government and Kurdish forces that saw the Kurds cede control of territory to Syrian troops.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2019/10/15/Kremlin-envoy-calls-Turkish-military-operation-in-Syria-unacceptable-Report.html

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US root cause of Iran-Saudi Arabia conflict: Parliament speaker

Oct 15, 2019

Iranian Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani says the United States is the root cause of Iran-Saudi Arabia conflicts, slamming Washington for hindering a resolution of the disputes between the two Middle Eastern countries.

Larijani made the remarks in a meeting with President of Austria’s Federal Council Ingo Appé in the Serbian capital of Belgrade on the sidelines of the 141st assembly of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU).

“Iran is not opposed to the settlement of issues between Iran and the Saudis but the Americans do not allow [that to happen] because they [the Americans] are benefiting from such conflicts,” the top Iranian parliamentarian said.

Larijani also said that the US is a major factor behind Tehran-Riyadh tensions.

The top Iranian parliamentarian further blamed Washington for the chaotic situation in the region, saying the Americans attempted to use Takfiri terrorists as a tool in the service of their own goals, but in vain.

“Since the start of the Yemeni and Syrian issues, I announced that political dialog should be held but some countries refused to accept [the idea],” Larijani said.

Elsewhere in his remarks, Larijani stressed the importance of enhancing Tehran’s relations with Vienna, particularly in political, economic, cultural and scientific sectors.

For his part, the president of Austria’s Federal Council expressed concern over the developments unfolding in the region, particularly Turkey’s incursion into northeastern Syria and the crises in Yemen and Libya.

He also said his country welcomes any opportunity to build trust between Iran and Saudi Arabia.

Appe added that Iran plays a leading role in promoting stability in the Middle East, highlighting the significance of dialog to solve regional issues.

He criticized the US’s move to withdraw from the landmark 2015 nuclear deal, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), saying preserving the accord is the only way to maintain global security.

The senior Austrian parliamentary official expressed hope that the US would change course and begin to pursue a wise policy vis-à-vis Iran.

The US unilaterally withdrew from the Iran deal in May 2018 and unleashed the “toughest ever” sanctions against the Islamic Republic in defiance of global criticism in a bid to strangle the Iranian oil trade.

In response to the US acts, Tehran has so far rowed back on its nuclear commitments three times in compliance with articles 26 and 36 of the JCPOA as the Europeans failed to uphold their end of the bargain by protecting Iran’s economy against the American bans.

‘Iran, Russia enjoy serious trust’

The Iranian Parliament speaker also on Tuesday commended the establishment of “serious trust” between Iran and Russia, saying the two countries have succeeded in making great progress in bilateral negotiations.

In a meeting with Valentina Matviyenko, the chairwoman of Russia's Council of Federation, Larijani urged world leaders to build more confidence among them in an attempt to properly deal with Trump’s misbehavior on the international scene.

The Russian senator, for her part, said Moscow pursues a principled stance on Iran and is against the JCPOA’s collapse.

Full report at:

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2019/10/15/608744/Larijani-Ingo-App-Valentina-Matviyenko-Iran-Austria-Russia-IPU-Belgrade

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Gazans challenge occupation by planting olive trees

 Oct 16, 2019

The Palestinian Ministry of Agriculture held a festival to announce the beginning of olive harvest season. Every October, Gazans come together to celebrate the ancient tradition of olive harvest where families, farmers and children experience picking olives.

This festival is considered as a revival for the symbolic, national and economic importance of the holy tree. Hundreds of thousands of olive trees have been uprooted during wars imposed by Israeli forces against Gaza. Palestinians held the festival near the buffer zone to condemn the Israeli violations of the agricultural lands in Gaza.

Israeli occupation has bulldozed dozens of olive trees and made land leveling operations that destroyed thousands of acres of Palestinian lands. This for sure led to the deterioration of life of farmers. These Israeli moves are aimed at wiping out Palestinians and everything that belongs to them and their existence. Israel still prevents farmers from reaching out to their lands leaving them with no other source of income.

In response, Palestinians hold annual festivals as a way to challenge the Israeli occupation.

These Israeli violations of Palestinians’ rights led to the decline of living standards in Gaza. Palestinians call on international community to take actions.

Full report at:

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2019/10/16/608779/Gaza-Occupation-Olive-Trees-

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Pence, Pompeo leave for Turkey as Erdogan rejects ‘ceasefire’

Oct 15, 2019

US Vice President Mike Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo have left for Turkey to seek “ceasefire,” an offer President Tayyip Erdogan has already dismissed.

Trump told reporters at the White House Tuesday that the two have left in a stated effort to end Turkey’s offensive into northern Syria, which could not have come about if not for his own green light.

"We want to bring our soldiers back home and we'll be very tough on Turkey and a lot of others. They have to maintain their own properties now they have to maintain peace and safety and we'll see what happens,” he said. “The delegation were asking for a cease fire. We put the strongest sanctions that you can imagine but they get a lot. We have a lot in store if they don't, if they don't have an impact including massive tariffs on steel, they ship a lot of steel to the United States. They make a lot of money shipping steel they won't be making so much money.”

Erdogan, meanwhile, told Trump in a phone call that Ankara will never declare a ceasefire in northeastern Syria, Reuters reported.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said earlier that two Syrian soldiers were killed by artillery fire from pro-Turkey rebels in the north of the country, after entering the region at the request of Kurds. Later, Turkey also reported casualties on its own side blaming the Syrian government.

A bill is, meanwhile, being introduced in the US Senate on Thursday, sanctioning Turkey for its invasion of northern Syria, Republican US Senator Lindsey Graham said.

Full report at:

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2019/10/15/608771/Pence-Pompeo-leave-for-Turkey-as-Erdogan-rejects-ceasefire

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North America

 

U.S. Sanctions Amp Up the Pressure on Iran-backed Hezbollah in Lebanon

Oct 14, 2019

The conflict between Iran and the U.S. that has created tensions throughout much of the Middle East is now also being felt in Lebanon, where Washington has slapped sanctions on the Iran-backed Hezbollah and warned they could soon expand to its allies, further deepening the tiny Arab country’s economic crisis.

The Trump administration has intensified sanctions on the Lebanese militant group and institutions linked to it to unprecedented levels, targeting lawmakers for the first time as well as a local bank that Washington claims has ties to the group.

Two U.S. officials visited Beirut in September and warned the sanctions will increase to deprive Hezbollah of its sources of income. The push is further adding to Lebanon’s severe financial and economic crisis, with Lebanese officials warning the country’s economy and banking sector can’t take the pressure.

“We have taken more actions recently against Hezbollah than in the history of our counterterrorism program,” Sigal P. Mandelker, undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence at the U.S. Treasury, said in the United Arab Emirates last month.

Mandelker said Washington is confident the Lebanese government and the central bank will “do the right thing here in making sure that Hezbollah can no longer have access to funds at the bank.”

Hezbollah, whose Arabic name translates into “Party of God,” was established by Iran’s Revolutionary Guard after Israel’s invasion of Lebanon in 1982. The group, which enjoys wide support among Lebanon’s Shiite community, runs institutions such as hospitals, clinics and schools _ but it also has tens of thousands of missiles that Hezbollah’s leadership boasts can hit anywhere in Israel.

The group is designated as a terrorist organization by the United States, some Gulf Arab countries and few Latin American nations, while the European Union considers only Hezbollah’s military wing of the group to be a terrorist group.

Today, it is among the most effective armed groups in the Middle East with an arsenal more powerful than that of the Lebanese army, and has sent thousands of its fighters to Syria to back President Bashar Assad’s forces in that country’s civil war. Hezbollah and its allies have more power than ever in parliament and government and President Michel Aoun is a strong ally of the group.

Hezbollah has acknowledged the sanctions are affecting them, but it says it has been able to cope with sanctions imposed by the U.S. for years. The group, however, warned that it is the job of the Lebanese state to defend its citizens when they come under sanctions simply because they belong to the group, are Shiite Muslims, or are Hezbollah sympathizers.

In July, the Treasury Department targeted two Hezbollah legislators, Amin Sherri and Mohammad Raad, in the first such move against lawmakers currently seated in Lebanon’s parliament. A month later, the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control sanctioned Jammal Trust Bank for what it called “knowingly facilitating banking activities.” The bank, which denied the charges, was forced to close afterward.

Neither Sherri nor Raad responded to requests for comment from The Associated Press.

So far, all the figures who have come under sanctions have been either Hezbollah officials or Shiite Muslim individuals who Washington says are aiding the group.

Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah said the group will “study well our alternatives” now that the U.S. is targeting banks that Hezbollah does not own or deal with, as well as rich individuals and merchants simply because of their religious affiliation.

“We said it in the past that when we are subjected to injustice we can be patient, but when our people are subjected to injustice we should behave in a different way,” he said.

Nasrallah said the state and the government should defend Lebanese citizens. In an apparent reference to the Lebanese central bank that implements U.S. sanctions, Nasrallah said: “Some state institutions should not rush to implement the American desires and orders this way.”

Walid Marrouch, an associate professor of economics at the Lebanese American University, says Lebanon’s economy is 70% dollarized and since Lebanon is using this currency, Beirut has to abide by (U.S.) laws.

“We’re already living in a crisis and it will only make it worse,” he said of sanctions and if Lebanon decides to stop abiding by U.S. Treasury Department orders.

Antoine Farah, who heads the business section of the daily Al-Joumhouria newspaper, wrote that if Hezbollah’s desires turn out to be orders, “we will be facing a confrontation such that no one would want to be in our shoes.”

“If Hezbollah decides to fight America with the money of the Lebanese we guarantee a quick collapse and staying at the bottom for a long time, like Venezuela,” he wrote.

During a visit to Beirut, David Schenker, the U.S.’s assistant secretary of state for near eastern affairs, said Washington will designate in the future “individuals in Lebanon who are aiding and assisting Hezbollah, regardless of their sect or religion.” Schenker did not elaborate in his interview with local LBC TV but local TV stations said Washington could start targeting Christian allies of the militant group, which has 14 members in parliament and three Cabinet ministers, including the Health Ministry.

Health Minister Jamil Jabbak, who is not a member of Hezbollah but is believed to be close to the group’s leader, was not granted a U.S. visa to attend the U.N. General Assembly in late September.

Treasury Assistant Secretary for Terrorist Financing Marshall Billingslea visited Lebanon last week and a U.S. Embassy statement said he would “encourage Lebanon to take the necessary steps to maintain distance from Hezbollah and other malign actors attempting to destabilize Lebanon and its institutions.”

At the end of his visit, Billingslea met a group of journalists representing local media and told them that the U.S. Treasury was posting a $10 million reward for anyone who provides “valuable information on Hezbollah’s finances,” according to the Daily Star.

He said the main goal of the U.S. Treasury “was to deprive Hezbollah of all financial support, whether from Iran or through any other means.” Billingslea said Iran used to send the group $700 million a year, adding that U.S. sanctions on Iran have “diminished considerably” the cash inflow.

Imad Marmal, a journalist close to Hezbollah who has a talk show on the group’s Al-Manar TV, wrote that the group wants the Lebanese state to put forward a national plan to face the “American siege” that will end up affecting not only Shiites but the country’s economy generally. He added that those who are being targeted by the sanctions are Lebanese citizens, whom the state should protect.

Hezbollah “is not going to scream in pain as the United States is betting, neither today nor tomorrow and not even in a hundred years.”

https://www.haaretz.com/middle-east-news/u-s-sanctions-amp-up-the-pressure-on-iran-backed-hezbollah-in-lebanon-1.7972006

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Trump Is Right To Take Troops Out Of Syria. Now They Must Leave Iraq And Afghanistan

Simon Jenkins

14 Oct 2019

Donald Trump is right to extricate the US from Syria. American troops have no strategic reason to be in that country. If they stayed any longer they would only be sucked in deeper – if they tried to impose a sort of peace, they would be attacked by all sides. The outside world has no dog in the Turkish-Kurd fight.

The US should get out of Syria as it must leave Iraq, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf.

While Trump’s motives or thought process for the latest move aren’t exactly clear – as ever – that he has enraged conservative and liberal interventionists alike is as reassuring as it is alarming. Belligerent meddling is now embedded in the west’s world view. But just as there is rarely a good time to intervene in other people’s troubles, so there is rarely a good time to stop. Were there a way in which a US army could swiftly bring peace and concord to northern Syria it might be different. There is none. Nothing in the modern history of the Middle East – not the Taliban or the Saddam or Assad regimes – has equalled the horror unleashed by the US’s “wars of 9/11”. They have come to seem as interminable as they are unspeakable.

As in any intervention, narratives evolve and alliances are formed. Most foolish was the encouragement and aid offered since 2015 to rebels in the Syrian civil war fighting against Bashar al-Assad – a war which David Cameron was inexplicably eager to have the UK join. As northern Iraq descended into chaos and the Kurds were emboldened to increase their pressure on Turkey, Syria became the venue for a nightmare three-way conflict. Throughout it, the US backed the Kurds.

The two most recent presidents, Barack Obama and Trump, came to office firmly in favour of withdrawing from the region. But the US’s military-industrial complex proved too powerful for them. Trump has been particularly emphatic about this, but his unpredictability and aggressive rhetoric has muddied his intentions. He has played hard and soft with Iran, tried to leave Afghanistan but not dared to do so, and now leaves the Kurds in the lurch.

Full report at:

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/oct/14/trump-troops-syria-leave-iraq-afghanistan-us

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Giuliani pressed Trump to eject Muslim cleric from U.S., a top priority of Turkish president, former officials say

By Carol D. Leonnig, Ellen Nakashima, Josh Dawsey and Tom Hamburger

October 15, 2019

Rudolph W. Giuliani privately urged President Trump in 2017 to extradite a Turkish cleric living in exile in the United States, a top priority of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, according to multiple former administration officials familiar with the discussions.

Giuliani, a Trump ally who later became the president’s personal attorney, repeatedly argued to Trump that the U.S. government should eject Fethullah Gulen from the country, according to the former officials, who spoke on the condition on anonymity to describe private conversations.

Turkey has demanded that the United States turn over Gulen, a permanent U.S. resident who lives in Pennsylvania, to stand trial on charges of plotting a 2016 coup attempt against Erdogan. Gulen has denied involvement in the plot.

Giuliani is now under scrutiny for his efforts to pressure Ukraine to investigate Trump’s political rivals. His earlier attempts to persuade the president to turn over the Turkish cleric represent another instance in which he appears to have been pushing a shadow foreign policy from his perch outside government.

The former New York mayor brought up Gulen so frequently with Trump during visits to the White House that one former official described the subject as Giuliani’s “hobby horse.” He was so focused on the issue — “it was all Gulen,” recalled a second former official — that White House aides worried that Giuliani was making the case on behalf of the Turkish government, former officials said.

“We’re not going to arrest [Gulen] to do a solid for Erdogan,” the second official said, describing the internal thinking.

However, Trump appeared receptive to the idea, pressing his advisers about Gulen’s status, the people said.

One former senior administration official recalled that Trump asked frequently about why Gulen couldn’t be turned over to Turkey, referring to Erdogan as “my friend.”

Administration officials were overwhelmingly opposed to the idea and told the president that the move could violate the legal process and damage him politically.

White House officials did not respond to requests for comment.

It’s unclear why Giuliani was championing a cause of such high importance to Erdogan — one the Turkish president personally raised with both the Obama administration and Trump. In 2017, Giuliani unsuccessfully pressed then-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to help on another matter important to Erdogan: helping stop the U.S. prosecution of a Turkish Iranian trader, The Washington Post reported last week.

Giuliani is not registered as a foreign lobbyist, as he would be required to do if he were being paid to lobby the U.S. government on a policy matter for a foreign interest.

Giuliani told The Post in a phone interview late Monday that he never represented Turkey and so he does not need to register as a foreign lobbyist.

In a text exchange Tuesday afternoon, he declined to discuss whether he advocated for Gulen’s extradition, writing: “can’t comment on it that would be complete attorney client privilege but sounds wacky.”

When told that multiple people described the conversations to The Post, Giuliani responded “Bull,” and then liked the question with a thumbs-up emoji.

He did not return phone messages or respond to follow-up questions, except to add in a text that he “will not participate in an illegitimate, unconstitutional, and baseless ‘impeachment inquiry.’ ”

Federal investigators are examining Giuliani’s business dealings with two former associates who were arrested last week on campaign finance charges. A federal grand jury in New York has issued a subpoena to former GOP congressman Pete Sessions of Texas seeking records and other information on his interactions with Giuliani and his two associates. Giuliani has denied any wrongdoing.

How two Soviet-born emigres made it into elite Trump circles — and the center of the impeachment storm

In December, Trump told Erdogan his administration would take a look at Turkey’s extradition request, the White House said at the time. In January, a U.S. delegation met with Turkish officials to discuss the request, according to Turkish state media.

Giuliani’s conversations with Trump about Gulen came on the heels of a similar effort by Michael Flynn, Trump’s first national security adviser, and his then-associates to promote negative views of Gulen during the 2016 campaign and the presidential transition. “We should not provide him safe haven,” Flynn wrote in a November 2016 opinion piece.

Flynn admitted in December 2017 to lying about his contacts with the Russian ambassador and making false statements about work his consulting business did for Turkey. He has since argued in court that he is the victim of a government effort to smear him, although he has not withdrawn his guilty plea.

Reid Weingarten, an attorney for Gulen, said that he would find it disturbing if Giuliani was pressing for the cleric’s return to Turkey on the heels of Flynn’s efforts.

“We have argued aggressively and I thought persuasively to both the Obama and Trump Justice Departments that the allegations against Gulen are false and that any effort to extradite him would fail legally and factually and would be an embarrassment to the United States,” he said in a statement. “After Gen. Flynn’s efforts on behalf of Turkey on this subject were exposed it is hard to believe Giuliani would follow suit.”

Giuliani has had a wide range of foreign clients even as he serves as the president’s personal attorney. In interviews in recent months, Giuliani has acknowledged working with clients in Romania, Brazil, Bahrain, Colombia and Ukraine. He has represented an Iranian dissident group, once so controversial it was placed on the State Department list of terrorist organizations.

Giuliani works for foreign clients while serving as Trump’s attorney

Giuliani has said that he does not need to register with the Justice Department for his overseas clients because he does not lobby U.S. officials on their behalf.

“I don’t represent foreign government in front of the U.S. government,” he told The Post earlier this year. “I’ve never registered to lobby.”

However, senior administration officials were so concerned that Giuliani might have been paid to push Turkey’s interests that, at one point in 2017, they confronted him and asked him not to bring up Turkish issues when he met with the president, according to a person familiar with the conversation.

When asked via text if he recalled the conversation, Giuliani responded by liking the question with a thumbs-up emoji.

Lobbying experts said that Giuliani’s private conversations with Trump about policy matters — including his push for Gulen’s extradition — could violate lobbying rules if he were pressing the matters on behalf of a foreign client.

In the case of the cleric, “the principal beneficiary of his work would be the Turkish government,” said Joshua Rosenstein, a Washington lawyer who specializes in foreign lobbying rules.

The conversations Giuliani reportedly had with Trump about Gulen in 2017 came the same year he was representing Reza Zarrab, a Turkish Iranian accused of corruption.

The trader held embarrassing and politically damaging information about Erdogan and other top Turkish officials in his government, it was later revealed in federal court when Zarrab pleaded guilty to orchestrating a multibillion-dollar conspiracy to evade U.S. sanctions against Iran.

Erdogan had repeatedly lobbied Trump to release Zarrab, both in personal meetings and calls in the spring and summer of 2017, according to multiple administration officials and Erdogan himself. The Turkish president claimed publicly that Zarrab, charged in a conspiracy to violate U.S. sanctions against Iran, was a political “hostage” of American law enforcement.

Giuliani joined Zarrab’s legal team in March 2017 and flew to Turkey in late February to meet with Erdogan to discuss a possible “state-to-state resolution in this case,” according to court filings in the Zarrab case.

In affidavits filed in federal court, Giuliani said that “at no time” he had “been involved in the representation of the Republic of Turkey” or acted as the country’s agent.

He acknowledged that his law firm did work for the Turkish government but said he was walled off from such discussions.

“Neither [my associate] nor I represent the interests of Turkey or the United States,” Giuliani said in a May 2017 affidavit.

However, lobbying experts said that his conversations with Trump and Tillerson to change U.S. policy on behalf of Zarrab, a foreign client, raised questions about why he did not register as a foreign lobbyist.

“It seems Giuliani was acting on behalf of a foreign principal and representing those interests before a U.S. government official, which can trigger the registration requirement,” said Matthew Sanderson, a Washington attorney who focuses on foreign lobbying registration.

Full report at:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/giuliani-pressed-trump-to-eject-muslim-cleric-from-us-a-top-priority-of-turkish-president-former-officials-say/2019/10/15/bf43d1ec-ef68-11e9-b648-76bcf86eb67e_story.html

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US carried out secret cyber strike on Iran in wake of Saudi oil attack: officials

October 16, 2019

The United States carried out a secret cyber operation against Iran in the wake of the September 14 attacks on Saudi Arabia's oil facilities, which Washington and Riyadh blame on Tehran, two US officials have told Reuters.

The officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the operation took place in late September and took aim at Tehran's ability to spread "propaganda".

One of the officials said the strike affected physical hardware, but did not provide further details.

It highlights how President Donald Trump's administration has been trying to counter what it sees as Iranian aggression without spiraling into a broader conflict.

The strike appears more limited than other such operations against Iran this year after the downing of an American drone in June and an alleged attack by Iran's Revolutionary Guards on oil tankers in the Gulf in May.

The United States, Saudi Arabia, Britain, France and Germany have publicly blamed the Sept 14 attack on Iran, which denied involvement in the strike. The Iran-aligned Houthi militant group in Yemen claimed responsibility.

Publicly, the Pentagon has responded by sending thousands of additional troops and equipment to bolster Saudi defences — the latest US deployment to the region this year.

The Pentagon declined to comment about the cyber strike.

"As a matter of policy and for operational security, we do not discuss cyberspace operations, intelligence, or planning," said Pentagon spokeswoman Elissa Smith.

The impact of the attack, if any, could take months to determine, but cyber strikes are seen as a less-provocative option below the threshold of war.

"You can do damage without killing people or blowing things up; it adds an option to the toolkit that we didn't have before and our willingness to use it is important," said James Lewis, a cyber expert with the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies.

Lewis added that it may not be possible to deter Iranian behaviour with even conventional military strikes.

Tensions in the Gulf have escalated sharply since May 2018, when Trump withdrew from the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action with Tehran that put limits on its nuclear program in exchange for the easing of sanctions.

It was unclear whether there have been other US cyber attacks since the one in late September.

Iran has used such tactics against the United States.

This month, a hacking group that appears linked to the Iranian government tried to infiltrate email accounts related to Trump's re-election campaign.

Over 30 days in August and September, the group, which Microsoft dubbed "Phosphorous," made more than 2,700 attempts to identify consumer accounts, then attacked 241 of them.

Tehran is also thought to be a major player in spreading disinformation.

Last year a Reuters investigation found more than 70 websites that push Iranian propaganda to 15 countries, in an operation that cybersecurity experts, social media firms and journalists are only starting to uncover.

Tensions with Iran have been high since the Sept 14 attack. Tehran has claimed that an Iranian tanker was hit by rockets in the Red Sea last week and warned on Monday that there would be consequences.

Full report at:

https://www.dawn.com/news/1511160/us-carried-out-secret-cyber-strike-on-iran-in-wake-of-saudi-oil-attack-officials

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Senator Graham says Turkish ‘atrocities’ will ‘destroy’ US-Turkish relationship

16 October 2019

US Senator Lindsey Graham, a top ally of Donald Trump, said that White House will hold Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan personally accountable for any atrocities committed in and around Kobani, adding that the escalation could destroy the relationship between Washington and Ankara.

“Turkey has legitimate concerns about their security along the Syrian border. Those concerns can be met without the destruction of Syria, the destruction of a valuable ally, the Kurds, who helped us destroy ISIS,” Graham told Al Arabiya on Tuesday.

US Democratic lawmakers, joined by some of President Donald Trump’s fellow Republicans, introduced a resolution on Tuesday opposing Trump’s decision to withdraw US forces from Syria, the latest sign of deep disapproval in Congress of his action.

US Vice President Mike Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will travel on Wednesday to Ankara to press Turkey to halt its offensive against Syrian Kurdish fighters, President Trump said.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/features/2019/10/16/Senator-Graham-says-Turkish-atrocities-will-destroy-US-Turkish-relationship.html

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US carried out cyber operation against Iran after Aramco attacks: US sources

16 October 2019

The United States carried out a secret cyber operation against Iran in the wake of the Sept. 14 attacks on Saudi Arabia’s oil facilities, which Washington and Riyadh blame on Tehran, two US officials have told Reuters.

The officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the operation took place in late September and took aim at Tehran’s ability to spread “propaganda.”

One of the officials said the strike affected physical hardware, but did not provide further details.

It highlights how President Donald Trump’s administration has been trying to counter what it sees as Iranian aggression without spiraling into a broader conflict.

The strike appears more limited than other such operations against Iran this year after the downing of an American drone in June and an alleged attack by Iran’s Revolutionary Guards on oil tankers in the Gulf in May.

The United States, Saudi Arabia, Britain, France and Germany have publicly blamed the Sept. 14 attack on Iran, which denied involvement in the strike. The Iran-backed Houthis in Yemen claimed responsibility.

Publicly, the Pentagon has responded by sending thousands of additional troops and equipment to bolster Saudi defenses - the latest US deployment to the region this year.

The Pentagon declined to comment about the cyber strike.

“As a matter of policy and for operational security, we do not discuss cyberspace operations, intelligence, or planning,” said Pentagon spokeswoman Elissa Smith.

The impact of the attack, if any, could take months to determine, but cyber strikes are seen as a less-provocative option below the threshold of war.

“You can do damage without killing people or blowing things up; it adds an option to the toolkit that we didn’t have before and our willingness to use it is important,” said James Lewis, a cyber-expert with the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies.

Lewis added that it may not be possible to deter Iranian behavior with even conventional military strikes.

Tensions in the Gulf have escalated sharply since May 2018, when Trump withdrew from the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action with Tehran that put limits on its nuclear program in exchange for the easing of sanctions.

It was unclear whether there have been other US cyberattacks since the one in late September.

Spreading disinformation

Tehran is also thought to be a major player in spreading disinformation.

Last year a Reuters investigation found more than 70 websites that push Iranian propaganda to 15 countries, in an operation that cybersecurity experts, social media firms and journalists are only starting to uncover.

Tensions with Iran have been high since the Sept. 14 attack. Tehran has claimed that an Iranian tanker was hit by rockets in the Red Sea last week and warned on Monday that there would be consequences.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/world/2019/10/16/US-carried-out-cyber-operation-against-Iran-after-Aramco-attacks-US-source.html

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Canada suspends new arms sales to Turkey

16 October 2019

Canada on Tuesday announced it had temporarily suspended “new export permits” to Turkey, particularly of military equipment, in response to Ankara’s offensive into northern Syria.

“Canada firmly condemns Turkey’s military incursion into Syria,” Global Affairs Canada, the foreign ministry, said in a statement.

“This unilateral action risks undermining the stability of an already-fragile region, exacerbating the humanitarian situation and rolling back progress achieved by the Global Coalition Against Daesh (ISIS), of which Turkey is a member.”

The suspended export permits cover “controlled property,” essentially military equipment, according to a list provided by the ministry.

Ottawa’s move follows similar measures by several European countries.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/world/2019/10/16/Canada-suspends-new-arms-sales-to-Turkey.html

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US charges Turkey's Halkbank with evading Iran sanctions

Oct 16, 2019

US prosecutors have filed criminal charges against a Turkish bank over accusations of participating in a multi-billion-dollar scheme to evade Washington's economic sanctions on Iran.

The US Justice Department announced on Tuesday that it had charged Turkey's state-run Halkbank with six counts of fraud, money laundering, and sanctions offenses.

The US prosecutors claimed that Halkbank used a web of front companies to allow Iran to spend revenues from its gas and oil sales on international markets between 2012 and 2016.

"This is one of the most serious Iran sanctions violations we have seen," Assistant Attorney General for US National Security John Demers alleged in a statement.

Demers claimed that Halkbank had violated sanctions by "illegally giving Iran access to billions of dollars' worth of funds, all while deceiving US regulators about the scheme."

“The bank’s audacious conduct was supported and protected by high-ranking Turkish government officials, some of whom received millions of dollars in bribes to promote and protect the scheme,” Demers added.

Ever since quitting the landmark 2015 nuclear deal with Iran in May 2018, the US administration has been running a "maximum pressure" campaign to force Iran to negotiate a new deal that addresses its ballistic missiles program and regional influence.

Iran, which had been fully complying with all of its commitments despite the US withdrawal and the Europeans’ failure to abide by their obligations under the deal, began scaling down its commitments in early July.

Full report at:

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2019/10/16/608780/US-prosecutors-Turkey-Halkbank-economic-sanctions-Iran

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Pence, Pompeo leave for Turkey as Erdogan rejects ‘ceasefire’

Oct 15, 2019

US Vice President Mike Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo have left for Turkey to seek “ceasefire,” an offer President Tayyip Erdogan has already dismissed.

Trump told reporters at the White House Tuesday that the two have left in a stated effort to end Turkey’s offensive into northern Syria, which could not have come about if not for his own green light.

"We want to bring our soldiers back home and we'll be very tough on Turkey and a lot of others. They have to maintain their own properties now they have to maintain peace and safety and we'll see what happens,” he said. “The delegation were asking for a cease fire. We put the strongest sanctions that you can imagine but they get a lot. We have a lot in store if they don't, if they don't have an impact including massive tariffs on steel, they ship a lot of steel to the United States. They make a lot of money shipping steel they won't be making so much money.”

Erdogan, meanwhile, told Trump in a phone call that Ankara will never declare a ceasefire in northeastern Syria, Reuters reported.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said earlier that two Syrian soldiers were killed by artillery fire from pro-Turkey rebels in the north of the country, after entering the region at the request of Kurds. Later, Turkey also reported casualties on its own side blaming the Syrian government.

A bill is, meanwhile, being introduced in the US Senate on Thursday, sanctioning Turkey for its invasion of northern Syria, Republican US Senator Lindsey Graham said.

Full report at:

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2019/10/15/608771/Pence-Pompeo-leave-for-Turkey-as-Erdogan-rejects-ceasefire

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Europe

 

We must do more to help Muslim faith schools, dean tells Queen at Westminster Abbey

October 16 2019

The Dean of Westminster Abbey has used a service attended by the Queen to criticise the government for failing to give enough support to Muslim faith schools.

The Very Rev Dr John Hall said the lack of consistent encouragement led to many Muslim children being educated in poorly funded independent schools. More support for faith schools would ensure the Muslim community was better incorporated into society, he said.

Dr Hall was speaking at a service to celebrate the 750th anniversary of Westminster Abbey, attended by the Queen and the Duchess of Cornwall.

Dr Hall, who has a background in faith education and was formerly chief education officer of the Church of England, made the critique in his sermon as part of “three brief thoughts” on…

https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/we-must-do-more-to-help-muslim-faith-schools-dean-tells-queen-at-westminster-abbey-n37dbqr7h

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Muslim and Jewish women unite across Barnet after shooting in Germany

By James Cowen

15th October

Muslim women are showing their support for the Jewish community following a shooting at a synagogue in Germany.

Two people died during the attack in Halle last week, which happened during the Jewish holy day of Yom Kippur.

Across Barnet, Muslim women have been attending synagogues during the festival of Sukkot, and vowed to stand alongside the Jewish community solidly as allies.

The events are being led by Nisa-Nashim, the Jewish Muslim women’s network.

Nisa-Nashim co-founder Laura Marks OBE said: “Whilst we were brought together by the atrocity at Halle, the warmth, friendship and love in that chilly sukkah ensured that we all went home fortified and determined to stay close.”

One of the visits took place at Alyth Synagogue in Golders Green, where both Muslim and Jewish women stood in the sukkah - the temporary Jewish ritual home during Sukkot - in an act of strength and togetherness.

Alyth’s Rabbi Hannah Kingston said: “We were deeply touched to see so much support from our Muslim neighbours after the atrocity in Halle this week and we welcome them to see our religious home as a place where they are always welcome.”

The Muslim women, none of whom had been in a sukkah before, learned about the festival, then, in turn, took part in some of the rituals including shaking the lulav and holding the Etrog.

Ahmereen Rezza, a trustee at Nisa-Nashim, added: “This was a first for me, but I live around the corner and felt compelled to be here to show that, as a Muslim, I will not stand by when Jewish people are threatened, particularly in their place of worship.”

Full report at:

https://www.times-series.co.uk/news/17969693.muslim-jewish-women-unite-across-barnet-shooting-germany/

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Supreme Court rejects challenge to public school coursework on Islam

by Melissa Quinn

October 15, 2019

The Supreme Court on Tuesday rebuffed an appeal from a Christian former high school student who argued coursework on Islam at her Maryland school violated her First Amendment rights.

The dispute involves Caleigh Wood, a student at La Plata High School in Charles County, Maryland, who enrolled in a state-mandated World History course during the 2014-2015 school year.

As part of the class, the then-junior was required to complete coursework on “The Muslim World,” in which she learned about Islam. Wood took issue with two parts of the class: a PowerPoint presentation that said most Muslims’ faith “is stronger than the average Christian” and a fill-in-the-blank worksheet in which she had to write, “There is no god but Allah and Muhammad is the messenger of Allah,” which she said was in violation of her Christian faith.

Wood refused to complete some of the class assignments, which led to a lower grade.

The school “subjected Ms. Wood to this promotional instruction in Islam, and also refused to grand her an opt out or alternative assignment when Ms. Wood, holding fast to her Christian beliefs, refused to write that the Muslim god is the only god,” her lawyers said in filings with the Supreme Court.

Wood sued Principal Evelyn Arnold and Vice Principal Shannon Morris in January 2016, alleging her First Amendment rights had been violated.

Full report at:

https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/policy/courts/supreme-court-rejects-challenge-to-public-school-coursework-on-islam

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‘I hate Islam,’ Says Deputy Director of French Newspaper Figaro

By Safaa Kasraoui

Oct 15, 2019

Rabat – Deputy editor of French newspaper Le Figaro Yves Threard is at the center of controversy after making statements against Muslims and Islam.

During debate show  “Le Grand Soir” (the Big Evening) broadcast on LCI on Monday, October 14, the deputy director of the newspaper’s editorial board said that he “hates Islam.”

“I hate the Muslim religion,” he openly said during a debate over the wearing of the veil or hijab in public space.

The TV show discussed the question of a ban on hijabs in public places following a controversial statement from Julien Odoul, a member of France’s National Rally (RN) last week on October 11.

Odoul and his colleagues asked the president of the Regional Council in France, Marie Guite Dufay, to tell a veiled Muslim woman accompanying her son at a school activity to remove hijab or leave.

Odoul’s statement came in response to the murder of four policemen by a colleague who French police “believed had been radicalized.”

Dufay said that she could not intervene as there was no reason for the woman to leave. She described the party’s behavior as a “surge of hatred” and “unworthy of elected officials of the republic.”

Threard displayed staunch support for the RN’s move, stating that he is totally against the hijab in public spaces.

He said that he had to leave a bus once when he saw someone wearing the veil.

The deputy director of the editorial board went so far to  say that Islamophobia “does not exist,” emphasizing that everyone has the “right to hate religion.”

Several French public figures condemned Threard’s statement, including journalist Samuel Gontier.

Yesterday, Monday, October 14, Grontier said, “ Thank you for the idea. From now on, I will wear a veil to take the bus to avoid any meeting with Yves Threard.”

More than 1,000 people retweeted his post in reaction to Threard’s statement.

Jennifer Pademi, another journalist in France said, “This month of October is particularly violent, I feel that everyone is freewheeling. When will it stop,”.

She added, “Imagine you’re a Mulsim and you work at Figar* and you discover that?”

Full report at:

https://www.moroccoworldnews.com/2019/10/284705/islam-deputy-director-french-newspaper-figaro/

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Dutch court convicts asylum-seeker in station terror attack

October 14, 2019

AMSTERDAM — A Dutch court on Monday convicted an Afghan asylum-seeker and sentenced him to nearly 27 years imprisonment for stabbing two American tourists in a terror attack at Amsterdam’s main railway station.

The 20-year-old man, identified by Dutch authorities as Jawed S, was shot by police shortly after he stabbed two 38-year-old American men at Amsterdam Central station on Aug. 31 last year.

Both victims survived but one was left partially paralyzed by the attack, Amsterdam District Court said in its written judgment.

The court convicted Jawed S. of attempted murder with a terrorist motive and sentenced him to the maximum possible 26 years and eight months.

It ruled that he traveled by train to the Netherlands from Germany, where his application for asylum was rejected, to avenge what he perceived as insults to Islam and did not know his victims were Americans.

During his trial, he “never showed any remorse and in fact repeatedly said he would do the same thing again if his religion were insulted,” the court said in a statement.

The man was ordered to pay his two victims a total of more than 2.6 million euros ($2.9 million).

According to the judgment he stabbed one man in the back leaving him with injuries that mean he will never be able to walk independently again.

The other victim suffered nerve damage in one of his hands.

Full report at:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/europe/dutch-court-convicts-asylum-seeker-in-station-terror-attack/2019/10/14/faa53f22-ee7e-11e9-bb7e-d2026ee0c199_story.html

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German security services want more powers to fight extremism

OCTOBER 15, 2019

BERLIN — Germany's security services said Tuesday they're seeking greater powers to fight the kind of far-right extremism behind last week's synagogue attack, including requiring internet companies to report illegal hate speech to police.

A 27-year-old German man previously unknown to police confessed to carrying out the attack in the eastern city of Halle in which two people were killed Wednesday.

The suspected gunman, identified by prosecutors only as Stephan B. due to privacy rules, allegedly built the firearms he used with the help of online instructions, posted an anti-Semitic screed before the attack and later broadcast the shooting live on a popular gaming site.

In response to the attack and previous incidents, German officials have called for more officers to be devoted to tackling far-right extremism and a greater focus on online platforms they say are increasingly being used as a means of spreading far-right radicalism and linking up with like-minded people in a way already seen with Islamist extremism.

Thomas Haldenwang, who heads the BfV domestic intelligence agency, said the attack in Halle and similar shootings in Texas, New Zealand and Norway showed the need for security services to get better tools to tackle online extremism. In particular, he called for authorities to be given permission to install monitoring software on suspect's devices so as to read their encrypted communication.

Holger Muench, head of the Federal Criminal Police Office, said online threats and acts of violence are creating a "climate of fear" in Germany that is deterring people from volunteering for public office.

"Right-wing crimes threaten our democracy," Muench said. "The situation is serious."

The country is still reeling from the killing of Walter Luebcke, a regional politician from Chancellor Angela Merkel's party, who was shot dead at his home in June. Luebcke had vocally supported Merkel's welcoming stance toward refugees in 2015 and the suspect in his killing is a far-right extremist with a string of convictions for violent anti-migrant crimes.

Muench said his agency has identified 43 far-right extremists they consider a serious threat, an increase of about a third since the start of the year. Overall, authorities say there are some 12,700 far-right extremists in Germany "prepared to use violence."

He called for a bundle of measures including greater scrutiny of online hate postings, extending the period of time that security services can store data on possible extremists and prosecutions of those who create and distribute lists of political enemies.

He also proposed that an existing law requiring platforms such as Facebook and Twitter to swiftly remove illegal hate speech should be expanded to force them to report such content to police.

Muench suggested his office could become a central point of contact dealing with online hate crimes in the same way it already does for child pornography.

Further proposals include creating a special unit to investigate possible extremists in the police and other government departments, and a crackdown on known far-right groups.

Opposition lawmaker Martina Renner called for the BfV to stop using neo-Nazis as paid informants , a practice that has in the past resulted in funds flowing to the far-right scene.

Renner, a member of the Left party, instead backed calls for better cooperation among European countries in fighting far-right extremism.

Security officials are particularly concerned that the 'new right' — groups that include factions within the Alternative for Germany party which entered the federal parliament two years ago — are providing the intellectual fodder for extremists. Roland Ulbrich, a regional lawmaker for the party, prompted outrage after the Halle attack for posting on Facebook: "What's worse, a damaged synagogue door or two dead Germans?"

The suspect had failed to force his way into the synagogue as scores of people inside were observing Judaism's holiest day, Yom Kippur. He then shot and killed a 40-year-old woman in the street outside and a 20-year-old man at a nearby kebab shop before fleeing. He was later arrested in Zeitz, about 50 kilometers (31 miles) south of Halle.

Authorities are still investigating whether he had ties to any known groups or individuals. At least five people watched the attack live as it happened, suggesting they may have known it was going to take place.

The suspect has admitted during questioning that he carried out the shooting and had anti-Semitic and right-wing extremist motives.

A memorial service for the younger victim of the shooting, an avid fan of Halle's third-tier soccer club Hallescher FC, is planned Friday.

Full report at:

http://www.startribune.com/german-security-services-want-more-powers-to-fight-extremism/563114282/?refresh=true

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Tajikistan Labels EU-Based Opposition Alliance As Terrorist Group

October 14, 2019

Tajikistan's Supreme Court has labeled the National Alliance of Tajikistan (PMT) -- a group uniting several opposition movements and parties based in the European Union -- as a terrorist and extremist organization.

One of the PMT's leaders, Sharofiddin Gadoev, told RFE/RL on October 14 that the court's ruling, made public over the weekend, was "illegal."

"It has become a bad tradition of the Tajik government to label any group or individuals who challenge it as terrorist," Gadoev said, adding that the PMT had never called on anyone to perform, or planned any acts, that were extremist or terrorist in nature.

The PMT was established in Warsaw in September 2018 at the gathering of Tajik opposition activists living in various countries of the European Union.

Tajik authorities have been criticized for cracking down on dissent for years.

In 2014, the opposition movement Group 24 was labeled as terrorist and extremist and banned. In March 2015, the movement's founder Umarali Quvatov was assassinated in Istanbul, Turkey.

Another opposition group, the Islamic Renaissance Party of Tajikistan (IRPT), long an influential party with representatives in the government and parliament of Tajikistan, was labeled a terrorist group and banned in 2015.

Full report at:

https://www.rferl.org/a/national-alliance-tajikistan/30215881.html

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Accused far-right terror plotter allegedly spoke of 'cutting throats' in Melbourne

15 Oct 2019

An accused far-right terror plotter allegedly spoke about “cutting throats” in central Melbourne and leaving “a line of dead lefties around me”, a court has heard.

Phillip Galea, 34, is charged with planning to attack leftwing groups including the Melbourne Anarchist Club between August 2015 and 2016.

“I wanted to go around cutting throats in the city centre. I wanted a line of dead lefties around me,” Galea allegedly told another man in an intercepted phone call read to Victoria’s supreme court on Tuesday.

“I joined this movement because I wanted to fight,” Galea also said, the prosecutor Richard Maidment QC told the jury.

Galea is standing trial for planning a terrorist attack and trying to make a document, which he allegedly called the “Patriot’s Cookbook”, to facilitate an attack.

He wanted to target the city’s anarchist club, as well as the Melbourne Resistance Centre and the city’s Trades Hall, associated with the union movement, “to eliminate the leaders of the left”, Maidment said.

Galea was associated with the far-right group Reclaim Australia and blamed “the left” for the “Islamisation of Australia”, the prosecutor added.

In another phone call railing against “lefties”, Galea allegedly said “eventually we’ll put them all in ovens … with the Muslims”.

“It’s like killing a snake with these people, cut off the head and the body dies,” he allegedly said.

Galea also met an Imam at one point because “you have to know your enemy”, according to more transcripts read in court.

He also allegedly said, “If you’re the fucking premier of Victoria and you have a problem with me, I’ll fucking take you down.”

Galea was first arrested when police raided his Braybrook home in November 2015, but afterwards claimed authorities only got a fraction of his documents.

“I do all this stuff on a mate’s computer and I just carry it all on a flash drive,” the court was told Galea said to a mate in February 2016.

“I’m not stupid.”

Full report at:

https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2019/oct/15/accused-far-right-terror-plotter-allegedly-spoke-of-cutting-throats-in-melbourne

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Italy to suspend weapons exports to Turkey

Oct 16, 2019

After an EU foreign ministers meeting over Turkey's offensive against Kurdish forces in Syria held in Luxembourg on Monday, Italy's Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio went to report to the Italian parliament about the outcome of the Luxembourg meeting on Tuesday.

Di Maio argued that Ankara's Syrian intervention was having devastating effects on the humanitarian level and that Turkey is solely responsible for the escalation.

Foreign minister Di Maio told the Italian parliament that the government will soon pass a decree to suspend future weapons exports to Turkey. Di Maio also said that the executive will assess existing contracts for arms sales to Ankara.

Italy was the top arms exporter to Turkey last year with a turnover of about 360 billion euros. The Leonardo-Finmeccanica multinational aerospace, defense and security company, one of the world's top ten makers of military hardware, has been doing business in Turkey for more than forty years, producing communications equipment for Turkey’s Army and Navy and participating in major civilian and military projects such as high-tech helicopters, anti-submarine warfare and satellite programs. Leonardo-Finmeccanica's largest shareholder is Italy's Ministry of economy with over 30% of the shares.

Economic sanctions against Ankara were also on the table at Monday's Luxembourg meeting but EU foreign ministers opted to stop short of a bloc-wide embargo against Turkey.

Turkey's military intervention into northern Syria, into areas held by Syrian Kurds has been widely condemned.

Full report at:

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2019/10/16/608778/Italy-Weapons-Turkey-Syria-

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Kremlin envoy calls Turkish military operation in Syria ‘unacceptable’

October 15, 2019

MOSCOW: The Kremlin’s envoy for Syria on Tuesday called Turkey’s military offensive in northeast Syria “unacceptable” and denied Ankara’s operation had been cleared by Moscow in advance, Russian news agencies reported.

Alexander Lavrentiev, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s envoy for Syria, was speaking to reporters in Abu Dhabi during an official visit there by Putin.

He made his comments after Turkey ignored new sanctions from the United States to press on with its assault on northern Syria while the Russia-backed Syrian army entered one of the most hotly contested cities, filling a void created by Donald Trump’s abrupt retreat.

When asked if there had been an advance agreement between Russia and Turkey about Ankara’s operation, Lavrentiev was cited as saying:

“No. We had always urged Turkey to show restraint and always considered some kind of military operation on Syrian territory unacceptable.”

Lavrentiev’s comments, which suggest growing tensions between Turkey and Russian, came a day after the Kremlin complained that Turkey’s incursion was “not exactly” compatible with Syrian territorial integrity.

“The security of the Turkish-Syrian border must be ensured by the deployment of Syrian government troops along its entire length,” said Lavrentiev. “That’s why we never spoke in favor or supported the idea of Turkish units (being deployed there) let alone the armed Syrian opposition.”

Lavrentiev said Turkey’s actions risked upsetting delicate religious sensitivities in northern Syria.

In particular, he said the area was populated by Kurds, Arabs and Sunnis who would not take kindly to their lands being resettled by people who had never lived there, a reference to Turkey’s plan to house refugees from other parts of Syria there.

Full report at:

https://www.arabnews.com/node/1569246/middle-east

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Turkey: EU states must take tougher steps against PKK

Faruk Zorlu  

16.10.2019

Amid Turkey’s anti-terror operation in northern Syria, Turkey on Wednesday urged European countries to toughen measures against the terrorist PKK to protect its missions and citizens from the terror group’s violence.

Turkey expects countries to show “maximum consideration to protect our diplomatic and consular missions, the safety of life and property of our citizens and personnel abroad, and to preserve Turkish interests" the Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

The statement expressed “deep concern that the increase in the number of violent demonstrations and actions committed by PKK factions especially in European countries is still continuing.”

"Indifference to the terrorist attacks targeting Turkish community’s workplaces, houses, mosques, and missions is inexplicable," it said.

The statement also said Turkey will closely follow the identification, prosecution, and conviction of offenders.

Turkey launched Operation Peace Spring on Oct. 9 to eliminate YPG/PKK terrorists from northern Syria in order to secure Turkey’s borders, aid in the safe return of Syrian refugees, and ensure Syria’s territorial integrity.

Ankara wants to clear northern Syria east of the Euphrates River of the terrorist PKK and its Syrian offshoot, the PYD/YPG.

Turkey has said the PKK and the YPG/PYD constitute the biggest threats to Syria’s future, jeopardizing the country’s territorial integrity and unitary structure.

Full report at:

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/europe/turkey-eu-states-must-take-tougher-steps-against-pkk/1615344

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PKK continues to be Europe's favorite terror group

Hasan Esen  

15.10.2019

LONDON

While the EU continues to oppose Turkey's anti-terrorism efforts in northern Syria, the bloc's institutions and member countries continue harboring members of the PKK, despite it being on the EU terror list.

Most-wanted PKK terrorists are frequent participants in events of the European Parliament.

According to the Terrorism Situation and Trend Report 2019 by EU police agency Europol, the PKK has been forcefully collecting funds from Kurdish businesses in Europe, while partaking in drug and human trafficking activities across the continent.

In 2015, Europol recognized the existence of PKK training camps in Belgium, as well as the foothills of the Alps in Switzerland in 2017.

PKK-linked associations, foundations and media groups in France were found to easily be able to disseminate the terrorist organization's propaganda.

The report found that many groups with ties to the PKK were also present in Belgium, where it said the terrorists' so-called Europe leaders resided.

According to the German government, hundreds have left the country to join the ranks of either the PKK or YPG, with the total being 204 in 2017.

PKK terrorists in the U.K. were found to operate as an organized criminal group, committing such crimes as drug and human trafficking.

Greece and the Greek Cypriot administration are known to openly support the PKK.

The PKK/PYD has an representative office in Greece and the Lavrion refugee camp southeastern Greece continues to be under PKK control.

The Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Denmark and Austria are also among the countries where the PKK is able to conduct activities with no serious repercussions.

Europe's tolerance, and at times support, towards the PKK is harshly criticized by Turkey, which accuses Europe of ignoring its security concerns.

Ankara accuses Europe of being insincere in counter-terrorism, due to its criticism of Turkey's fight against the PKK.

Turkey on Oct. 9 launched Operation Peace Spring to secure its borders by eliminating terrorist groups there, to ensure the safe return of Syrian refugees and Syria’s territorial integrity.

Ankara wants to clear northern Syria east of the Euphrates of the terrorist PKK and its Syrian offshoot, the PYD/YPG.

Full report at:

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/europe/pkk-continues-to-be-europes-favorite-terror-group/1614987

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EU not planning economic sanctions on Turkey: Berlin

Ayhan Şimşek  

15.10.2019

BERLIN

The EU is not planning any economic sanctions on Turkey at the moment, a senior German diplomat said on Tuesday.

Briefing reporters ahead of an EU leaders summit this week, the senior diplomat said the leaders would discuss Turkey’s ongoing anti-terrorist operation in Syria, together with other major EU and international topics, during their two-day summit beginning on Thursday.

“The EU has made no plans so far to impose economic sanctions on Turkey,” he said, but stressed that the member states oppose Turkey’s military action and are closely watching developments.

EU foreign ministers on Monday spoke of limiting arms exports to Turkey, expressing worries over a humanitarian crisis and instability in the region. But no EU-wide arms embargo emerged from the meeting.

Turkey on Oct. 9 launched Operation Peace Spring to eliminate terrorists from northern Syria in order to secure Turkey’s borders, aid in the safe return of Syrian refugees, and ensure Syria’s territorial integrity.

Ankara wants to clear northern Syria east of the Euphrates River of the terrorist PKK and its Syrian offshoot, the PYD/YPG.

In its more than 30-year terror campaign against Turkey, the PKK -- listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the U.S. and the European Union -- has been responsible for deaths of 40,000 people, including women, children and infants.

Earlier, U.S. President Donald Trump ordered the withdrawal of American forces from northeastern Syria, which was widely interpreted in the media as a “green light” for Turkey’s anti-terror operation.

Trump later criticized Turkey’s military action and announced sanctions to pressure Ankara to cease the operation. His Defense Secretary Mark Esper said Washington will hold talks with European partners to press them to take similar diplomatic and economic measures.

Full report at:

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/europe/eu-not-planning-economic-sanctions-on-turkey-berlin-/1614892

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Norway against suspending Turkey from NATO

Ayhan Şimşek 

15.10.2019

BERLIN

Norway on Tuesday criticized Turkey’s anti-terror operation in northeastern Syria, but dismissed calls for suspending Turkey from the NATO alliance.

"I think it’s better to have Turkey inside NATO than outside NATO," Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg said in a joint press conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin.

"It’s important to have them into our family, and discussion. I think it’s easier to work with them that way," she added.

Solberg expressed concern over the ongoing military operation’s conformity with international law and urged Ankara to cease the operations.

Turkey on Oct. 9 launched Operation Peace Spring to secure its borders by eliminating terrorist groups there, to ensure the safe return of Syrian refugees and Syria’s territorial integrity.

Ankara wants to clear northern Syria east of the Euphrates of the terrorist PKK and its Syrian offshoot, the PYD/YPG.

Full report at:

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/europe/norway-against-suspending-turkey-from-nato-/1614617

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Turkey slams global media reports on Syria operation

Bayram Altug  

15.10.2019

GENEVA

Turkey called on international media outlets Monday to stop publishing manipulative reports on the country's military operation in northeastern Syria.

Sadik Arslan, the permanent representative of Turkey to the UN’s Geneva office, hosted journalists from international news outlets to inform them regarding Turkey's Operation Peace Spring.

Arslan expressed his discomfort about the international media publishing manipulative and one-sided news about the operation.

He said YPG/PKK terrorists targeted civilians and journalists on the Turkish side of the border with mortars and using snipers, but foreign media journalists located there failed to report properly that these terrorists were the ones who conducted the attacks.

Arslan said the YPG/PKK has conducted hundreds of attacks against residential areas in Turkey since the start of the operation and 18 civilians have been killed, including a nine-month-old baby.

He also criticized reports which claimed that Turkey is fighting against the Kurds.

Turkey has the largest Kurdish population in the world, Arslan said, adding the country does not have any problems with the Kurds and the operation is only being conducted against the YPG/PKK terrorists.

He said Turkey had opened its doors to Kurds from Syria's northern city of Ayn al-Arab (Kobani) in 2014 when it was besieged by Daesh.

Around 200,000 people, mostly Syrian Kurds, had fled to Turkey then while the siege was ongoing.

Arslan said Turkey was also the only country to welcome hundreds of thousands of Kurds from northern Iraq when Iraq's former leader Saddam Hussein attacked them with chemical weapons.

Turkey on Oct. 9 launched Operation Peace Spring to secure its borders by eliminating terrorist groups there to ensure the safe return of Syrian refugees and Syria’s territorial integrity.

Ankara wants to clear northern Syria east of the Euphrates of the terrorist PKK and its Syrian offshoot, the PYD/YPG.

Full report at:

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/europe/turkey-slams-global-media-reports-on-syria-operation/1614021

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South Asia

 

Special Forces kill, detain 15 Taliban militants in Wardak and Paktika provinces

16 Oct 2019

The Special Forces killed 7 Taliban militants and arrested 8 others during the operations in Wardak and Paktika provinces.

The military officials said Wednesday that the Special Forces also destroyed caches of weapons during the same operations.

The officials further added that the Special Forces killed 7 militants in Nerkh district of Wardak, arrested 6 others and destroyed a cache of weapons.

The Special Forces arrested 2 other militants in Omnah district of Paktika and destroyed a small cache of weapons, the officials added.

The anti-government armed militants have not commented regarding the operations so far.

https://www.khaama.com/special-forces-kill-detain-15-taliba-militants-in-wardak-and-paktika-provinces-04227/

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Afghan fighting kills 8 militants in northern Balkh province

2019-10-14

MAZAR-E-SHARIF, Afghanistan, Oct. 14 (Xinhua) -- At least eight militants were killed as the security forces backed by fighting planes struck Taliban hideouts in parts of Charbolak district in northern Balkh province, army spokesman in the northern region Mohammad Hanif Rezai said Monday.

In the crackdown which began Sunday morning and covered several villages, 15 more militants were wounded, the official asserted.

No security personnel and civilians were harmed, the official further said.

The security forces would continue to chase militants elsewhere in the Balkh and adjoining provinces, Rezai said.

Full report at:

http://www.xinhuanet.com/english/2019-10/14/c_138471199.htm

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Bangladesh gives Myanmar new list of Rohingya refugees

SM Najmus Sakib

15.10.2019

DHAKA, Bangladesh

Bangladesh on Tuesday sent Myanmar a fresh list of some 50,000 Rohingya refugees currently taking shelter in the country's Cox’s Bazar refugee camp.

With the new list, Dhaka has provided the names of some 105,000 Rohingya refugees to Myanmar over three phases, in order to expedite their repatriation process to Myanmar.

Bangladesh had earlier handed over a list of 55,000 Rohingya refugees to Myanmar for verification over two phases.

Bangladesh and Myanmar signed in August an agreement to facilitate the repatriation of Rohingya refugees over the next two years.

However, two planned repatriation arrangements came to halt after Rohingya refugees were unwilling to return to Myanmar, citing security issues in Rakhine State.

Rohingya people have been demanding proper security and citizenship before complying with the repatriation process.

Persecuted people

According to Amnesty International, more than 750,000 Rohingya refugees, mostly women and children, have fled Myanmar and crossed into Bangladesh after Myanmar forces launched a crackdown on the minority Muslim community in August 2017, pushing the number of persecuted people in Bangladesh above 1.2 million.

Since Aug. 25, 2017, nearly 24,000 Rohingya Muslims have been killed by Myanmar’s state forces, according to a report by the Ontario International Development Agency (OIDA).

More than 34,000 Rohingya were also thrown into fires, while over 114,000 others were beaten, said the OIDA report, titled "Forced Migration of Rohingya: The Untold Experience."

Full report at:

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/asia-pacific/bangladesh-gives-myanmar-new-list-of-rohingya-refugees/1615103

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Special Forces foil militants bid to detonate a bomb close to a school in Kabul

15 Oct 2019

The Afghan Special Forces foiled the militants bid to detonate an improvised explosive device close to a school in Kabul.

According to a statement released by Special Operations Corps, the Special Forces discovered a remote-controlled improvised explosive device which the militants had planted close to Olya-e Reshkhor High School.

The statement further added that the Special Forces defused the bomb at around 6 am local time today.

The anti-government armed militants including Taliban have not commented in this regard so far.

Full report at:

https://www.khaama.com/special-forces-foil-militants-bid-to-detonate-a-bomb-close-to-a-school-in-kabul-04222/

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458 civilians killed, wounded in Taliban attacks targeting election process: UNAMA

15 Oct 2019

The United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) announced Tuesday that the Taliban attacks on election process across Afghanistan killed or wounded 458 civilians.

According to a special UNAMA report, the attacks by Taliban group killed 85 civilians and injured at least 373 others.

The report further added that the Taliban attacks during the day of elections on 28th of September killed 28 civilians and wounded 249 others.

The report also added that the children formed more than one-third of the civilians casualties.

“These attacks, along with public statements made by the Taliban, revealed a deliberate campaign intended to undermine the electoral process and deprive Afghan citizens of their right to participate in this important political process, freely and without fear,” said Tadamichi Yamamoto, the UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Afghanistan. “Many Afghan people, however, defied the threats and cast their votes – brave acts that I commend.”

Yamamoto further added “Deliberate acts of violence against voters, election workers, campaigners, election rally sites and polling centres are completely unacceptable.”

Full report at:

https://www.khaama.com/458-civilians-killed-wounded-in-taliban-attacks-targeting-election-process-unama-04225/

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Car bomb explosion leaves 2 dead, many others wounded in Laghman province

16 Oct 2019

A car bomb explosion left at least 2 dead and many others wounded in eastern Laghman province of Afghanistan.

The Ministry of Interior confirmed that the militants detonated a car bomb close to police headquarters of Alisheng district earlier today, killing 2 policemen and wounding 6 others.

However, the local officials said the explosion killed 2 policemen and wounded at least 26 others including 20 civilians.

The Taliban group claimed responsibility for the attack claiming that the explosion killed or wounded dozens of security personnel.

Full report at:

https://www.khaama.com/car-bomb-explosion-leaves-2-dead-many-others-wounded-in-laghman-province-04228/

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Afghan army helicopter crashes in Balkh, killing 7 on board

15 Oct 2019

A helicopter of the Afghan National Army crashed in northern Balkh province earlier this evening, killing seven people on board.

The 209th Shaheen Corps said in a statement that a Mi-17 helicopter crashed at around 5:30 pm this evening due to a technical issue.

The statement further added that the helicopter belonged to 777th Unit of the Afghan Army which crashed during a training course.

Furthermore, the 209th Shaheen Corps said the helicopter had departed the Shaheen Corps compound and was on its way to Balkh Airport but crashed in Dorahi Hairatan after making an emergency landing due to a technical fault.

Full report at:

https://www.khaama.com/afghan-army-helicopter-crashes-in-balkh-killing-7-on-board-04226/

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Airstrikes kill 19 Taliban and ISIS militants in 5 provinces

15 Oct 2019

A series of airstrikes killed at least 19 militants of the Taliban and ISIS Khurasan groups in five provinces of Afghanistan.

The military officials said Tuesday the security forces conducted the airstrikes in the past 24 hours in Balkh, Paktika, Zabul, Ghazni and Helmand provinces.

The officials further added that the airstrike in Dowlatabad district of Balkh killed 6 Taliban militants and a similar airstrike killed 5 Taliban militants in Orgun district of Paktika.

Another airstrike in Shah Joy district of Zabul killed 3 militants of ISIS Khurasan group, the officials said, adding that airstrikes in Ab Band district of Ghazni killed 3 Taliban militants.

Full report at:

https://www.khaama.com/airstrikes-kill-20-taliban-and-isis-militants-in-5-provinces-04224/

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Two police killed, 20 children wounded in Afghan blast

16 October 2019

At least two police officers were killed and about 20 children wounded when a truck bomb detonated near a police station in eastern Afghanistan on Wednesday, officials said.

According to Asadullah Daulatzai, the spokesman for the governor of Laghman province, the bomb outside a police headquarters building also partially destroyed a nearby madrassa, or religious school.

“The students were wounded by flying glass,” he said, noting that “about 20” students were hurt.

Six police officers were also wounded.

The interior ministry confirmed the toll and blamed the attack on the Taliban.

The insurgent group did not immediately comment.

Afghanistan is currently awaiting results of the first round of presidential voting, which took place last month.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/world/2019/10/16/Two-police-killed-20-children-wounded-in-Afghan-blast-.html

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85 civilians killed, 373 wounded during Afghan election campaign: UN

15 October 2019

Hundreds of people were killed or wounded in violence related to Afghanistan’s recent presidential election season as the Taliban sought to undermine the democratic process, a UN agency said Tuesday.

The United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) reported that 85 people were killed and another 373 wounded in election violence during the period from June 8 to September 30.

On polling day alone, 28 civilians were killed and 249 injured. Children accounted for more than one-third of the victims.

Despite the high toll, Afghan security forces said election day was a success because the Taliban failed to pull off any large-scale attacks that stole the headlines.

The majority of Taliban attacks involved the use of rockets, grenades and mortars, as well as homemade bombs planted near polling centers, including schools, the report found.

On July 28, the same day as the election campaign started, militants targeted the office of Ghani’s running mate Amrullah Saleh in Kabul, killing 21 people and wounding another 50.

“These attacks, along with public statements made by the Taliban, revealed a deliberate campaign intended to undermine the electoral process and deprive Afghan citizens of their right to participate in this important political process, freely and without fear,” Tadamichi Yamamoto, the UN secretary-general’s special representative for Afghanistan, said in a statement.

The casualty figures are actually a substantial improvement on the run-up to parliamentary elections held a year ago, when UNAMA tallied 226 deaths and 781 injuries.

Results

Final election turnout figures have yet to be released but it appears participation in this year’s first round presidential vote is at record low levels.

Voters stayed away, wary of repeated Taliban threats to attack polling stations and also despondent about the chances of their ballots being fairly counted in a country that has seen systemic and large-scale electoral fraud.

The Independent Election Commission however insists multiple safeguards including biometric verification will make this year’s vote the cleanest yet.

Preliminary results are due Saturday, though officials have suggested this date will be pushed back a few days.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/world/2019/10/15/85-civilians-killed-373-wounded-during-Afghan-election-campaign-UN.html

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Southeast Asia

 

Speak about oppression, Muslims urged

By Azman Abdul Hamid

October 16, 2019

KUALA LUMPUR: Ascertaining the cause is one thing but finding the solution is quite another for panellists and participants at The Palestine-Kashmir Forum: The Struggle for Freedom & Self Determination, as the question that hit hardest and most lingered on was ‘What more can we do?’

It was posed during a question-and-answer session by a participant who acknowledged all the points raised and debated by the panellists but was unconvinced on the plan forward in terms of protecting the rights of Palestinians and Kashmiris for self-determination in the face of hostile forces.

In her keynote address at the forum held at the International Institute of Advanced Islamic Studies (IAIS) on Monday, Pakistan High Commissioner to Malaysia, Amna Baloch, described the Indian government’s action on Kashmir as crossing all lines of cruelty after sending thousands of troops there upon withdrawing Kashmir’s special status.

“Kashmir is burning,” she said, referring to a communication shutdown that brought daily life to a standstill and contributed to a shortage of commodities. Soldiers targeted Kashmiri youths, sending those arrested to distant locations outside the territory despite protests from some of India’s well-known opposition leaders and non-governmental organisations.

To recap, the government of India revoked the special status granted to Jammu and Kashmir on Aug 5 this year. Article 370 conferred power on Jammu and Kashmir to have a separate constitution, a state flag and autonomy over the internal administration of the state.

Now no longer bound by the article, Kashmir is ruled directly from New Delhi. However, some including Amna’s deputy, Atif Sharif Mian, believe that India was planning to annex the territory by revoking Kashmir’s special status.

However, revoking the special status would permit outsiders to reside in the territory which could reduce and replace the Muslims as the majority populace there. With such a demographic change, Kashmir would no longer be a majority Muslim state which may be the intent.

As for Palestine, Director for Palestine Cultural Organisation Malaysia, Muslim Imran, said that US President Donald Trump’s adminisration has only worsened the situation for Palestinians by declaring Jerusalem as the eternal capital of Israel while the Jewish nation continued to usurp Palestinian land.

Trump also became the first US president to stop funding the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees.

Other developments that hamper the Palestinian cause come from Arab countries themselves attempting to normalise relations with Israel and the failure among Palestinian factions to establish a unified platform.

Despite that, Palestinian resistance endures because the Palestinians themselves are fighting Israel’s subjugation and oppression while the BDS (boycott, divestment and sanctions) movement has so far been more and more successful.

Talking among the panellists, the president of the Malaysian Consultative Council For Islamic Organisation, Azmi Abdul Hamid, made a stark observation — that 1.8 billion Muslims can make a difference but are hesitant due to the narrative that Muslims can’t do much.

“Muslims have the will to not go down (easily). They must speak about oppression like we are doing through this forum. Don’t wait for government to act,” he said

Back to the question of “what more can we do?” Being united as an ummah is one, continuing to support BDS and trying to seek ways to reconcile one another’s interest despite differing opinions and methods is another.

To that is another question — do Muslims have the will to do so?

https://www.nst.com.my/news/nation/2019/10/530446/speak-about-oppression-muslims-urged

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Listed as terrorists, Hadi denies Muslim scholars’ group similar to LTTE

15 Oct 2019

BY EMMANUEL SANTA MARIA CHIN

KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 15 — Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang insisted today that the International Union of Muslim Scholars (IUMS), of which he used to be a leader, is not a terrorist group unlike the now-defunct Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).

The president of Islamist party PAS said such accusations, including by local lawmakers, were due to its critics’ alleged lack of knowledge regarding the group.

“I assume those who made such statements do not understand the entire picture and is unsure of the difference between LTTE and the IUMS,” he said while debating Budget 2020 in Parliament.

“Maybe they have overlooked the diplomatic relations between Qatar and other nations, as the IUMS is more towards being an NGO, based on intellect, and not based on arms and violent conflict.”

The Marang MP was asked to explain the difference between IUMS and LTTE, with two local state lawmakers having since been arrested by police for their alleged involvement with the latter group.

“The IUMS comprises Muslim scholars of various disciplines to forge closer ties among Muslims in terms of intellectual knowledge.

“It is more unfortunate when government MPs, without knowing, say the battle in Sri Lanka is the same as the fight [of IUMS], as this contradicts the actual reality,” he said. 

Hadi was appointed as one of IUMS’ vice-presidents in 2014, but has been chided by its president Yusuf in 2016 after his visit to Iran, a key backer of Syrian president Bashar al-Assad’s regime amid violence in the strife-torn country.

The Qatar-based IUMS is a group of Muslim scholars headed by Egyptian theologian Yusuf Al-Qardawi, whom Saudi Arabia has also accused of having links to terrorism.

Besides Saudi, the group is also designated as a terrorist organisation by three other Gulf states: Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, and Bahrain.

In comparison, LTTE is designated as a terrorist group by 32 countries, including Malaysia.

When asked by Kota Melaka MP Khoo Poay Tiong on why some still see IUMS as a terrorist organisation, Hadi attributed it to the diplomatic ties between the Middle-East nations.

“There are representatives from various countries in the IUMS, where when I went to perform my umrah I was not stopped,” Hadi explained, using the term for a minor Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca.

Full report at:

https://www.malaymail.com/news/malaysia/2019/10/15/listed-as-terrorists-hadi-denies-muslim-scholars-group-similar-to-ltte/1800546

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No liberal agenda, but sorry if debate topics offensive, say UiTM duo

October 16, 2019

PETALING JAYA: Two adjudicators at the centre of a debate tournament that has come under fire from the education ministry said the topics on religion and sexual orientation were purely hypothetical.

“These motions fall under the category of hypothetical motion, of which the debaters – should they debate the motions – are required to envision an imaginary world where the motions can take place,” said Mohammad Aidil Ali and Iyad Zakiy Amal, chief adjudicators of the Piala Tun Razak (PTR) debate competition held in a secondary school recently.

The two motions that had stirred controversy were about “moderate” Muslim scholars rewriting the Quran, and Islam’s position on homosexuality.

In a joint statement, Aidil and Iyad, who are Universiti Teknologi Mara (UiTM) students, denied they came up with the topics with the intention of indoctrinating young debaters or pushing a liberal agenda.

The duo however apologised if the debate was offensive.

“We will take this as a precautionary lesson and would ensure that for the future editions of PTR, such motions would be avoided.”

They said the topics would not lead to the demonisation of Islam, adding that it was the goal of any debate to encourage participants to think unconventionally and critically.

“Furthermore, there are a lot of debating competitions out there which would require debaters to debate more interpretively controversial motions.

“Thus, we think that it is best to expose the young debaters to these types of motions so they would be aware of the reality of discourse that they would face in other debating competitions, and learn the kind of arguments they could run (into) without having to jeopardise their faith and religion,” they said.

Full report at:

https://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/nation/2019/10/16/no-liberal-agenda-but-sorry-if-debate-topics-offensive-say-uitm-duo/

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Southeast Asia in the crosshairs of 'Islamic State'

By  Deutsche Welle

2019/10/16

Last week, Indonesian Security Minister Wiranto was stabbed twice as he was getting out of a car in the city of Pandegland in West Java. He suffered severe injuries and is currently being treated at a military hospital in Jakarta. The minister is said to be in a stable condition.

Wiranto's attacker was 31-year-old Syahril Alamsyah, a member of the terrorist organization Jamaah Ansharut Daulah (JAD).

JAD is one of the many terrorist groups in Southeast Asia that have allied with the "Islamic State" (IS). Other outfits include Abu Sayaf and the Maute group in the Philippines, along with more than a dozen Islamist terror organizations that are active across Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore and the Philippines.

However, not all of these groups have joined IS. For example, the terror group Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) in Indonesia carried out a bombing on the island of Bali, a famous tourist destination, in 2002 that killed over 200 people.

After this attack, security forces were able to get JI mostly under control. But experts say that JI is back, strengthening its network.

Region difficult to control

Zachary Abuza, a Southeast Asia expert at National War College in Washington DC, and Colin P. Clarke of the RAND Corporation recently wrote a report on the security blog Fortuna's Corner concluding that "Southeast Asia may be the newest breeding ground for militant Islam."

After IS lost its territory in Syria and Iraq in March 2019, it transformed itself into a decentralized, global terror organization. Spread over thousands of islands, Southeast Asia is difficult to control and is favorable for infiltration by IS.

After the April 2019 attacks in Sri Lanka, Susanne Schröter, director of the Frankfurt Research Center for Global Islam, said that "jihadist structures" with an international backing are "everywhere in South and Southeast Asia."

Terrorist groups in Southeast Asia have been joining ranks with IS since 2014. Since 2016, IS publishes its newsletter "al-Fatihin" (the conqueror) every week in Malayan and Indonesian. There have been 11 suicide attacks in Indonesia since 2018, and six in the Philippines. Regional newspapers report the arrest of Islamist militants nearly every week. In Malaysia alone, more than 500 terror suspects have been imprisoned in the past six years and the country is expecting more extremists to return from Iraq and Syria. According to the Malaysian newspaper Benar News, 53 Malaysians and 100 Indonesian fighters for the IS are expected back home.

Different approaches

The brutal fighting that occurred around the Philippine city of Marawi on the Mindanao Island between May and October 2017 is a sign of what Islamist militants are capable of. They were able to take over the city of 200,000, and battled the Philippine military for months in a standoff that destroyed most of the city. More than 50,000 people in Marawi still live in emergency shelters.

Experts have varying assessments of the anti-terror measures used by governments in the region. In Indonesia, a new anti-terror law has resulted in the arrest of hundreds of suspects since 2018.

Read more: Why are more Indonesians favoring Shariah?

Wiranto's attacker was known to Indonesian authorities as a radical. Indonesian security expert Stanislaus Riyanta said that the man hadn't been arrested before the attack because he had yet to commit a crime.

"It is not the case that security services aren't aware of what's going on around them. But they can only issue warnings and first intervene when a terrorist attack is imminent," he said. "Terrorists have adapted their strategy to the tighter laws, and are now carrying out individually planned attacks using smaller terror cells. Because of this, it will be more difficult to identify them in time."

Regarding the Philippines, US-based experts Abuza und Clarke point out that security forces committed massive human rights violations during their operations that pushed many people, who were also dissatisfied with the government in Manila, toward the Islamists. Jihadists also used examples of reckless military operations for their own propaganda.

Social problems

To combat radicalization and terrorist structures, security measures alone are not enough, experts say.

Berthold Damshäuser, an Indonesia expert at the University of Bonn, told DW that he has been observing a "growing intolerance” in the region for years.

Younger Indonesians, in particular, are increasingly advocating for a conservative interpretation of Islam, he said, pointing out that populist political parties have been more than willing to fulfill these demands. This, in turn, is leading to increasing Islamization of society, Damshäuser explained.

Religious tolerance is supposed to be one of the five fundamental principles ("Pancasila") guiding the Indonesian state. But observers say this principle has been undermined in recent years, with some regions gaining special rights to enforce their fundamentalist moral concepts.

Full report at:

https://www.taiwannews.com.tw/en/news/3796511

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US raises China’s Uighur problem with Indonesian Muslim groups

October 16, 2019

Dian Septiari

The United States’ envoy to Jakarta has begun a “long overdue” move to engage with leaders of Indonesia’s two largest Muslim organizations, Muhammadiyah and Nahdlatul Ulama (NU), as it looks for allies to pressure China over its alleged human rights abuses against the Uighur minority. Muhammadiyah welcomed the move and expected the US to set an example in handling human rights abuses around the world – including in Yemen, where a proxy war between Iran and Saudi Arabia has simmered since 2015. US Ambassador to Indonesia Joseph R. Donovan Jr. on Tuesday visited the Muhammadiyah headquarters in Central Jakarta to meet group chairman Haedar Nashir and encourage the organization to speak out against China’s treatment of the Uighur minority. “I encouraged Muhammadiyah to continue to speak out against the repression of the Uighur minority in C...

Full report at:

https://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2019/10/15/us-raises-chinas-uighur-problem-with-indonesian-muslim-groups.html

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Africa

 

US strikes culled ISIS-Libya encampments, unlikely to return to pre-2016 levels, defense official says

By: Kyle Rempfer

October 16, 2019

A series of four airstrikes in recent weeks against Libya’s Islamic State franchise killed roughly one-third of the militant group’s personnel, giving much needed breathing room as the country’s two main factions wrangle for control in Tripoli.

The strikes killed an estimated 43 ISIS fighters, with roughly 100 still remaining, according to a senior U.S. defense official, who spoke with reporters on the condition of anonymity.

“We assess that was a pretty significant degradation of their capabilities and, again, they struggle to reconstitute because of the nature of the operatives who were killed in this strike and the fact that they have already been struggling with manpower,” the official said in a telephone interview Thursday.

“We certainly don’t assess that they’re expanding,” the official added.

The strikes come amid an ongoing struggle between the United Nations-recognized Government of National Accord and Libyan Field Marshal Khalifa Hifter’s self-styled Libyan National Army. U.S. Africa Command officials warned this summer that the fighting distracts both factions from counterterrorism aims, and could allow for a resurgence of ISIS-Libya.

But that hasn’t stopped foreign governments from betting on each side.

The senior defense official said that in June, Turkey provided armed Bayraktar TB2 drone aircraft to GNA forces. Those were used in late July to destroy two Emirate-provided Ilyushin Il-76 transport planes, the official added.

The official maintained that the Americans, meanwhile, are focused on a political solution to the conflict, and only conducted the recent strikes to “keep pressure” on ISIS-Libya.

However, the official doubted that ISIS-Libya could return to its pre-2016 levels of power, around the time when its fighters lost their hold over the coastal city of Sirte and fled into the desert.

A total of six strikes were conducted in 2018, and seven in 2017. The numbers were a significant reduction from the nearly 500 air strikes conducted in 2016.

In 2018, ISIS fighters claimed responsibility for more than a dozen attacks targeting the Libyan government and oil infrastructure, according to AFRICOM. But the group is a long way from its height of control, when NATO’s Allied Maritime Command warned that ISIS wanted to use Sirte as a launching point for a maritime force into the Mediterranean.

ISIS knock-off, or legit franchise?

ISIS has shown an ongoing interest in its African affiliates, as evidenced by a series of propaganda releases this spring and summer in which Africa-based ISIS “provinces” were highlighted and some reaffirmed pledges of allegiance to ISIS’ emir, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

But beyond propaganda, it remains unclear what these different groups share between one another. The senior defense official could only say that there is a “likely exchange of revenue or support being provided” to ISIS groups lower on the militant network’s hierarchy.

Despite the fall of ISIS’ territorial caliphate in Iraq and Syria, U.S. officials say the group still has access to a sprawling financial network. The U.S. Treasury Department sanctioned seven individuals in April who were connected to the use of hawalas to circumvent the formal banking sector and move funds for ISIS across Europe, Africa and the Middle East.

Citing ISIS publications like the al Naba newsletter, the defense official said that they have increasingly seen ISIS emphasize the accomplishments of its African affiliates, as well as the sharing of propaganda victories between them.

“That highlights that there is a greater inter-connectivity between ISIS affiliates, that there is closer coordination,” the defense official said. “All of which starts to pose a more significant threat when you consider there’s ISIS-Somalia, ISIS-Democratic Republic of the Congo, ISIS-Mozambique, ISIS-Libya, ISIS-Greater Sahara and ISIS-West Africa.”

The official said that there has been “an expanding threat in the Sahel." But the U.S. military doesn’t conduct airstrikes in that region. Instead, the strategy is to provide support to French-led operations. It’s “primarily an intelligence-focused approach,” the defense official added.

Many of the fighters in ISIS-Libya these days are native Libyans and the group is primarily attempting to recruit locally, the defense official said. Though, foreign recruits have been part of the group in the past.

Who’s backing Hifter?

AFRICOM’s latest strikes come as Hifter has been leading an offensive to take over the capital of Tripoli from the United Nations-supported government.

Hifter’s quest for control concerned some within AFRICOM, who worried that it would provide “oxygen” to existing terrorist elements, Air Force Col. Chris Karns, a command spokesman, told Military Times in August.

AFRICOM commander Army Gen. Stephen Townsend has conducted high-level meetings on the subject. In August, he met with Libya’s prime minister and the U.S. ambassador to the country to discuss threats from existing violent extremist organizations in Libya.

The U.S. military had a small presence of troops in Libya starting in 2011, after long-time ruler Moammar Gadhafi was overthrown. But in April, U.S. forces were pulled from Libya when Hifter’s Libyan National Army launched its offensive.

Hifter, a former CIA asset, was exiled during Gadhafi’s leadership, and settled in Langley, Virginia, in the 1990s. He obtained U.S. citizenship before returning to Libya in 2011 at the start of the civil war.

The former AFRICOM commander said in February that the U.S. has maintained lines of communications with Hifter throughout Libya’s civil war, and added that the Russians have also tried to revive Gadhafi-era weapons sales and oil contracts in the country through Hifter.

“Like others, when the music stops, they want to be able to influence whoever, you know, finds the seat, whoever wins,” said Marine Corps Gen. Thomas D. Waldhauser, who relinquished control of AFRICOM to Townsend this summer.

Russia has stated that its objective in Libya is to restore stability and fight terrorism. But the senior defense official who spoke over the telephone Thursday said that Russian private military companies have been operating in LNA territory in eastern Libya.

The Gadhafi-era business contracts are in excess of $4 billion, “so they have strong economic rationale as to why they’re going to continue to support Hifter,” the senior defense official said.

The Turkish government has also provided armed drone aircraft to the GNA government, despite the U.N. embargo to tamper down on Libya’s civil war. The defense official said Turkey sold Bayraktar TB2 drones to be used over Tripoli by the U.N.-recognized GNA government.

The United Arab Emirates, meanwhile, "remains one of the staunchest foreign backers” of the LNA and increased assistance in April 2019, according to the senior defense official.

“They provided military support across the board, from UAS capability, transport aircraft, and what we are assessing is a variety of arms and material support," they said.

https://www.armytimes.com/news/your-army/2019/10/14/us-strikes-culled-isis-libya-encampments-unlikely-to-return-to-pre-2016-levels-defense-official-says/

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NAF kill Boko Haram terrorists, destroy hideout

By Dennis Erezi

14 October 2019

The Nigerian Air Force (NAF) on Monday said it has destroyed the meeting venue of Boko Haram terrorists at Boboshe area around the Sambisa Forest in Borno State.

NAF spokesman Ibikunle Daramola in a statement said “several BHTs (Boko Haram Terrorists) were also killed as a result of the strikes.”

Daramola said the Air Task Force (ATF) of Operation Lafiya Dole conducted the attack on Sunday, following successive days of Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) missions, coupled with human intelligence reports.

He explained that the reports identified a building around the forest area being used as a meeting point by the insurgents.

The NAF spokesman disclosed that Boko Haram commanders assemble in the building periodically to take instructions before launching attacks on military troops and innocent civilians.

After assembling the reports and strategies, he said, “the ATF detailed its fighter aircraft to attack the hideout, scoring accurate hits within the designated area leading to the decimation of the target structure.

The reported destruction of Boko Haram meeting point and killing of some of the insurgents comes a day after the Nigeria Army said the troops of Operation Lafiya Dole captured 10 senior commanders of the Boko Haram insurgency group.

Army spokesman Aminu Iliyasu in a statement said the arrest of the insurgents was part of the Nigeria Army’s heightened level of the fight against terrorism.

“For instance, during a successful sting operation conducted on 9 October 2019 by troops of the 26Task Force Brigade, 10 suspected key Boko Haram members were reportedly captured,” Iliyasu said.

Full report at:

https://guardian.ng/news/naf-kill-boko-haram-terrorists-destroy-hideout/

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Stigma Slows Reintegration of Former Boko Haram Fighters

By Chika Oduah

October 14, 2019

MAIDUGURI, NIGERIA, - Fifty-six-year-old Ibrahim Dubji is still trying to adjust to life out of the bushes of rural northeastern Nigeria.

It's been about three years since he left. He was a fighter with Boko Haram, taking cover in the region’s rocky and semi- arid terrain.

Around the Borno State town of Gwoza, which Boko Haram captured in 2014 and declared as the headquarters of their Islamic caliphate, Dubji spent two years with the armed group, invading and attacking villages.

He says he struggled with the group’s extreme mode of operation.

“The son of my elder brother, they killed him in my presence,” Dubji says. “That is the worst thing I always remember.”

He found a way to escape the group, turning himself in at a Nigerian military base. He said the soldiers there accepted his surrender but flogged him for four days, with “sticks, cables and machetes.”

Last year, Dubji went through Operation Safe Corridor.  It’s the Nigerian government’s official rehabilitation and de-radicalization program, set up in 2016, mainly for low-ranking Boko Haram fighters and low-risk women and children affiliated with the Islamist group.

Dujbi says he’s a reformed man. But he’s treated like an outcast. When he went back to his hometown to see his mother after being away, he said he wasn’t welcomed.

“People suspect that you are still Boko Haram or a Boko Haram informant,” he says.  “The government has already cleared us… but still, people around are suspecting us,” says Dujbi. “I need forgiveness from people."

He’s now more than 150 km from his home, living in Maiduguri, the Borno State capital known as the birthplace of Boko Haram. Dujbi found safe haven at a refugee camp and the government gave him help to set up a small grocery store to support his wife and nine children.

Hundreds of people linked to Boko Haram have gone through Operation Safe Corridor and the Nigerian military is releasing them to rejoin civilian life. But they face intense social stigma that doctors say contributes to mental health problems.

Some of them get treatment at the Federal Neuro-Psychiatric Hospital in Maiduguri. It’s the only one of its kind in northeastern Nigeria. Psychiatrists here treat former Boko Haram insurgents sent over by the military through therapy such as group sessions and a detoxification program. 

Dr. Sadique Pindar, the head of clinical services and drug rehabilitation, says substance abuse is major problem with many former insurgents.

"There are quite a number of them that might be having personality disorders or social phobia, he says, which makes them take drugs so that they can express themselves.”

Many former Boko Haram overdose on opioids, like the common pain reliever Tramadol. The government recently banned Tramadol, but it is sold at a high cost on the black market. Sukudai, a slang term for “suck-and-die,” is another popular drug where users inhale formaldehyde fumes.

The hospital helps the former insurgents to kick the addictions and develop social skills to ease their transition into civilian life.

Now past the 10-year-mark, the insurgency has mentally traumatized an entire generation, says Dr. Pindar. 

Boko Haram attacks forced about two million people to flee their homes.

Once discharged from the hospital, social workers try to stay in touch with the former fighters, who are often shunned by people in the community who discover their past. 

Forgiveness and support for reformed insurgents is a controversial issue.  But security analyst Joseph Babatunde Sotomey says it’s vital.

"When they're really sorry, they're sorry.  But they need close monitoring,” he says.  “The business community is able to do that.  To send them to jail is not even the solution because they can go and start planning from jail too," says Sotomey. 

Analysts and peace negotiators say that many Boko Haram members are ready to come out of the bush and surrender, but they’re afraid of being killed by neighborhood vigilante groups.

The Civilian Joint Task Force, or CJTF, set up in 2013, is the largest such group operating in Borno State, the heart of the insurgency.  It’s tasked with helping the Nigerian military's counterterrorism operations and has achieved great success in flushing Boko Haram members out of Maiduguri.

One of their commanders, Baba Shehu Abdul-Gani, says the CJTF will not harm insurgents who surrender. But he says the former fights won't win acceptance overnight.

Full report at:

https://www.voanews.com/africa/stigma-slows-reintegration-former-boko-haram-fighters

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Nigerian president vows crackdown on abusive Islamic schools

October 16, 2019

Reuters -October 16, 2019 KANO: Nigeria’s president yesterday ordered a crackdown on abuse at Islamic schools, after a second police raid in less than a month revealed men and boys subjected to beatings, abuse and squalid conditions.

Nearly 300 had been held captive at a school in the Daura area of Katsina, the hometown of President Muhammadu Buhari, where police said they discovered “inhuman and degrading treatment” following a raid on Monday to free the remaining students.

Late last month, police freed hundreds from similarly degrading conditions in neighbouring Kaduna state.

“Mr. President has directed the police to disband all such centres and all the inmates be handed over to their parents,” said a presidential spokesman.

“The government cannot allow centres where people, male and female, are maltreated in the name of religion,” he said.

Prior to this week’s raid, hundreds of captives had escaped the centre, police said yesterday.

The 67 inmates who were freed by Katsina police were shackled, and many were taken to hospital for treatment, police superintendent Isah Gambo told Reuters.

“I tell you they were in very bad condition when we met them,” Gambo said.

A freed captive told Reuters on Monday that the instructors beat, raped and even killed some of the men and boys held at the facility, who ranged from 7 to 40 years of age. It was not immediately possible to verify his account.

While the institution told parents it was an Islamic teaching centre that would help straighten out wayward family members, the instructors instead brutally abused them and took away any food or money sent by relatives.

“I deeply regret taking my child to the rehabilitation centre because I was ignorant of what was actually going on here,” Alhaji Lawal Garka, a parent of one of the captives, told Reuters on Tuesday.

Police said they had arrested the owner of the facility and two teachers and were tracking other suspects.

Local resident Umar Galadima said that escaped captives were “running for their lives,” with some throwing stones or brandishing weapons to fend off workers who tried to take them back to the facility.

The more than 200 captives who escaped were still missing, Gambo said. Police were working to reunite the others with family members.

“The inmates are actually from different parts of the country – Kano, Taraba, Adamawa and Plateau States,” he said.

“Some of them are not even Nigerians. They come from Niger, Chad and even Burkina Faso and other countries.”

Islamic schools, called Almajiris, are common in the mostly Muslim north of Nigeria. Muslim Rights Concern, a local organisation, estimates about 10 million children attend them.

Full report at:

https://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/world/2019/10/16/nigerian-president-vows-crackdown-on-abusive-islamic-schools/

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Somalia thrives with helping hand from TIKA

Magdalene Mukami and Mohammed Dhaysane  

16.10.2019

MOGADISHU, Somalia

Somalia is thriving due to aid from Turkey in mostly development and social projects through the Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency (TIKA).

Speaking to Anadolu Agency on Tuesday, TIKA‘s coordinator in Somalia, Galip Yilmaz, noted that Turkish projects in Somalia have changed the country, providing jobs to thousands of Somali citizens and creating a booming economy and many business opportunities.

"We have established an agriculture school in [the capital] Mogadishu, and over 400 students across the country are engaged in advanced agricultural studies there,“ said Yilmaz.

"We also built the most advanced and modern hospital in East Africa in the capital,“ he said, referring to Recep Tayyip Erdogan Hospital.

He said TIKA has also rehabilitated mosques, schools and roads throughout the country.

The Turkish envoy noted that just recently, TIKA had renovated Somalia’s parliament in the capital, which was attacked and bombed by al-Shabaab militants in 2014, leaving 10 people dead, including lawmakers.

TIKA noted that it had reconstructed and furnished the parliament buildings.

"Our projects include education, health, infrastructure and other development programs, and we [Turkey] will continue to support the Somali̇ people,“ he added.

Poor transport systems that were inhibiting business from thriving are now a thing of the past with new roads that TIKA has constructed.

Aside from beekeeping projects, TIKA has also established 30 orphanage centers across Somalia where orphans live and study.

Full report at:

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/africa/somalia-thrives-with-helping-hand-from-tika/1615224

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