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Sufism versus Wahhabism in India: Social Media Debates

New Age Islam News Bureau

19 Jul 2015


 Sufism versus Wahhabism in India: Social Media Debates

 Don't meddle with Muslim personal law: Senior leader AIMPLB

 Ahmedabad exchanges eidi and prasad

 Muslim clerics give West Bengal CM an Eid message

 Eid Fairytale in Kolkata that Never ceases to surprise

 For Muslims, it was a day of prayers and festivities

 Clashes mar Eid festivities in J-K



Arab World

 37 killed amid Saudi crackdown on militants

 ISIS films child carrying out a beheading for ‘first time’

 Man who tweeted death threat to Saudi satirist among ISIS detainees

 Saudi Arabia arrests 431 Islamic State members, foils attacks

 Gaza explosions target cars of Hamas officials

 29 arrested for sexual harassment in Egypt during Eid

 SIS show off their shopping malls filled with Western products




 At least 19 Boko Haram insurgents killed in Chad -source

 Algeria says nine soldiers killed in attack claimed by al Qaeda

 Islamic State claims kidnapping of three African Christians in Libya

 U.S. to trace Nigerian stolen assets, boost military help

 Ebola Fears Haunt Liberia's `Eid



South Asia

 Taliban ambush kills 8, including 2 children in Afghanistan

 Uighur Muslims Celebrate `Eid Al-Fitr

 Deported tourists 'admitted' to watching terror videos: China

 Afghan People should remain alert to defend themselves: second deputy to CEO

 Car bomb explosion foiled in capital Kabul




 9 militant commanders of banned outfit killed in Pakistan

 Political will can improve ties: Pakistan

 Taliban commentary raises hope for peace talks

 Pakistan says India's ceasefire violations are against Ufa declarations




 Britain will help destroy IS: Cameron

 IS set up stronghold in Europe for terror attacks on West

 Intensified shelling in east Ukraine kills four civilians, soldier

 3 French arrested in IS-inspired plan to attack base



North America

 Gunman told Muslims to 'submit to Allah' in chilling blog post days before killing 4 US marines




 Eight arrested after tense anti-Islam rallies in central Sydney and Brisbane




 Turkey eyes slice of Iranian trade pie after sanctions relief

 Cihan journalists ordered out of mosque where Erdoğan performed Eid prayer


Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau






Sufism versus Wahhabism in India: Social Media Debates

Syed Mohammed

Jul 19 2015

At 120-year-old Yang Hang mosque in Urumqi, an estimated 11,000 worshippers performed prayers while chanting `Eid Takbir.

The rift between the two ideologies has spilled into the online space

Cyberspace is fast becoming a popular battleground for Indian Muslims aligned on both sides of the Sufi vs Wahhabi debate. And the online verbal jousting is becoming more acrimonious by the day.

“There are Facebook pag es which belittle leaders of both groups. `Follow the Sahabi, Ignore the Wahhabi' is one such. Further, hundreds of comments on videos of (Salafi televangelist) Zakir Naik or (Sufi scholar) Tahir ul Qadri are downright offensive,“ says social media expert Nabeel Adeni.

Naik and Qadri are star names from the two schools and they both command huge following in the online -and real -world. Quite often their followers declare those who oppose them as `Kaafir', a virtual attempt at excommunication.

In the real world as well, the gulf between Muslims affiliated to the two principal Schools of thought appears to the gulf between Muslims affiliated to the two principal schools of thought appears to be widening. This conflict is not new but it is now more pronounced than ever. The revelations in the recent WikiLeaks documents about Saudi petro dollars being reportedly spent on promoting Wahabi and Salafi streams of Islam in India has driven the wedge even deeper.

Nowhere is the divide more pronounced than Hyderabad where over 35% of the population is Muslim. The city's prominent Muslims are worried by this growing acrimony .Says former member of the AP State Wakf Board, Syed Akbar Nizamuddin Hussaini: “India has always been home to the Sufis whose teachings were love and tolerance. This is how Islam spread here. The hard-line views propagated by the Saudis and their funding poses a threat to the very fabric of Muslim society. “

The Wahabi stream exhorts Muslims to adopt the more “puritanical“ form of Islam while Sufis -also known as Barelwis -maintain that teachings of saints cannot be ignored. The tussle between the two has also manifested in many mosques across the region where both schools have tried to wrest control of administration. “The Masjid-e-Shah Lagan in Purani Haveli and the Masjid-e-Amera in Abids are examples of this struggle,“ Hussaini says. There is a reason why administrative control of a mosque is so important for both schools -it gives them the power to influence the nature of the sermons. Hussaini says that it is easier to wield influence in existing mosques than to construct new ones for lakhs of rupees and begin the process of `proselytising'. “No Barelvi mosque has taken over Wahabi or Salafi mosques,“ he claims.

This sectarian tussle is also apparent in cultural and social changes among the city's Muslims. The Arabic `Ramadan' and ` Allah Hafiz' are increasingly replacing the more UrduPersian `Ramzan' and `Khuda Hafiz'. This is being resisted by those who believe that the Indian Muslim's cultural roots are more Persian than Arabic.

Defenders of Wahhabism in India say that it does not teach violence or intolerance and is largely misinterpreted. It is also a victim of the Western narrative of Islam, they add.Those in the know say that it Those in the know say that it is hard to calculate how much money has been pumped into India by the Saudi government to push Wahhabism. WikiLeaks has reportedly revealed that Saudi Arabia's costliest sectarian projects are in India (an Islamic association here, it is said, has reportedly got $1 million).

But community leaders argue that the most prevalent form of Wahhabism in India has been brought by Indian expatriates working in Saudi. This is a benign form of the ideology, they say . “The funding of mosques and madrasas seems to have drastically fallen. The focus is on education and healthcare. However, the Indian diaspora is influenced by the Wahabi school of thought. Their understanding of it is a simple rejection of intercession of human beings between man and God. It has little to do with rigidity ,“ says Syed Abdul Qadeer, an Indian expat who has been living in Jeddah for the last 28 years.

There are, of course, those who are unhappy with these public arguments. Highly placed sources said that the Sufis have approached representatives of Western governments with the Wahabi problem. But this hasn't gone down well with many. Says a source from the Jamat-e-Islami Hind: “The Indian Muslim is capable of dealing with his own problems, there is no need to take them to others.“



Don't Meddle With Muslim Personal Law: Senior Leader AIMPLB

 July 19, 2015

Patna: The central government is trying to influence Muslim personal law, a senior leader of the All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) said on Sunday.

Maulana Wali Rahmani, the Board`s working general secretary, accused the government of taking steps that amounted to interfering with Muslim personal law.

This, he said, was "a matter of serious concern".

"We have to keep a close watch over this situation," he said. "In Islam, issues related to marriage, divorce and property are dealt through personal law.

"But in recent times, the way the central government has initiated some measures, an attempt is being made to affect or influence Muslim personal law," Rahmani said.

He urged Muslims to follow the directives of the Board.

Rahmani said that last month he wrote to Muslim groups and individuals demanding constant vigilance against what he said were attacks on Islam`s teachings.

"Muslims should always remain cautious as there are organisations that are attacking Islamic beliefs and trying to impose Brahmin dharma on them," he said.

Yoga, Surya Namaskar and Vedic culture were part of "Brahmin dharma" and "totally against Islamic beliefs", he said. IANS



Ahmedabad Exchanges Eidi and Prasad

Ahmedabad: Jul 19 2015 : The Times of India (Delhi)

It all started with the gracious exchange of prasad at Limdi Chowk in Dariyapur -a communally sensitive area along the rath yatra route -on Saturday afternoon. A child offered prasad to a Muslim youngster, and the latter reciprocated by gifting Rs 20 as eidi.

Soon, it turned into a full-blown expression of fraternal compassion as Muslims took prasad and gave eidi to kids.

Pir Mohammad Shaikh, 25, and Hamidulla Shaikh, 35, both residents of Dariyapur and textile traders, together gave over Rs 10,000 as eidi.“This occasion came after 30 years. We wanted to make this twin festival special,“ said Hamidulla, “It was a truly memorable experience.“

Even as police and administration were on edge because the yatra coincided with Ramzan Eid, citizens defied all fears with their unprecedented fervour and harmony.

BJP chief Amit Shah was present at the Jagannath temple when the celebrations began with the `mangala aarti' at 4 am.



Muslim clerics give West Bengal CM an Eid message

TNN | Jul 19, 2015

KOLKATA: Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had to swallow a few home truths during the Eid nawaz at Red Road — something that she is not used to. Muslim clerics at the congregation on Saturday sounded a word of caution to the government — in the CM's presence — over its performance on the minority front.

"The government is doing some work. There is an effort. But the promises it made have to come true," said Qari Fazlur Rehman while delivering his Eid nawaz speech. Rehman listed the promises made by the Mamata government and delivered the feedback from the grassroots. "When Mamata Banerjee came to power she promised recognition of 10,000 madrasas. Four and a half years down the line, only 134 madrasas have got recognition. Some of these teachers are not getting salary on a regular basis other than the fund support for books and stationeries. Students have no scope of employment. Discontent is brewing at the grassroots. The government has to look into it," the Qari said.

Rehman held that the situation is similar in the Sishu Shiksha Kendras (SSK) and Madhyamik Shiksha Kendras (MSK). "Enough of promises. The government has to get down to action. There has to be change in planning and its implementation. Most of the promises remain on paper without proper reflection at the grassroots. Why is it so?" the cleric said. His readings go in tune with the latest socio-economic survey done by the HRD ministry, rating Bengal among the worst four to five states with regard to primary and secondary education.

The Qari expressed concern over "attempts to change the secular fabric of the country". In saying so, he didn't hesitate to mention the role of the Narendra Modi government. "India was always secular. The secular fabric cannot be changed, no matter who says what. People in power at the Centre have no place for minorities. Reports of clashes and riots are still pouring in. In all these cases, the blame is on the ruling party at the Centre or its supporters. Let us not forget that the government is for all. It should have place for the poor and the minorities," Rehman said.

Rehman took a dig at the Narendra Modi government for its initiative to introduce Surya Namaskar in schools. "Our Constitution mandates freedom of religion. Religion is a matter of choice. Nobody should impose his religion on others. They are trying to introduce Surya Namaskar and are also talking about changing the Constitution. People won't tolerate such efforts. They will send Narendra Modi back to the pavilion. The Centre should discharge its duties properly and desist from the saffronisation programme," Rehman said.

Maulana Md Safi of the Nakhoda Masjid also emphasized maintaining the secular fabric of Bengal. "This is one area where Bengal can lead India," he said.



Eid Fairytale in Kolkata that Never ceases to surprise

July 19, 2015

KOLKATA: The TOI lens was scouting for an Eid subject in Sovabazar on Saturday afternoon when it zoomed in on a cute little child in white kurta churidar riding on a man's shoulders. They were evidently returning after Eid prayers. But just before the camera shutter went click-click, another sight filled the viewfinder — a woman with vermilion in her hair, following them along with two children who carried raths.

It was a charmingly curious combination but by the time the tunnel vision had cleared, the moment had passed and the picture wasn't taken. The three children were giggling and checking out the stars and streamers they had bought to decorate the raths. From time to time, the mother rearranged the child's cap to prevent it from slipping over eyes and his tiny golden shoes from slipping off. TOI did not want to intrude on a family's 'us-moment' and followed them to seek permission for a photograph.

It is not uncommon in Kolkata for people of different faiths to celebrate each other's festivals. Yet, finding one always gives a warm feeling. What we found out, in fact, went beyond rare.

The family entered a lane off Sovabazar. A bunch of kids — Hindus and Muslims — gathered around the rath and started decorating it. The little boy, who looked a year-and-a-half old, seemed to be the darling of the locality. Someone called out to him: "Hey, Ayan."

When TOI walked up to the man to understand the mystery, he smiled and said, "I am Ashok Hela, a KMC employee. I am a Hindu by birth but for the last 26 years I have been observing Roza during Ramzan and offer namaz on Eid." The little one is his nephew who is very attached to him and insisted on going with him to the Eid Namaz at Manicktala Karbala, said the 57-year.

"I've no bias. I do whatever gives my mind peace. I'm a devotee of Loknath baba and today I'll offer a feast for my friends and neighbours in our Baba Loknath Sevak Sangha on the occasion of Eid. Everybody in the Namaz assembly knows me. They even keep a place for me. We have a special bond like that of blood relations," Ashok said.

Little Ayan's mother Sujata Hela said, "We looked for the right costume for Ayan's Eid namaz. After all, it is his first namaz. On the way back from the mosque, he picked up a rath. He was very choosy about it."

The lane was engulfed in the aroma of khuska, lachha and chicken — the Hela family's Eid feast. Indra Shaw, a neighbour, said: "Every year we are very careful so that Ashok can perform his rituals piously during Ramzan. The children in our locality are happy because they know they will get a grand feast at the Helas' on Eid."

By then, the rath was ready with the deities and the little decorations. Little Ayan, with a dholok, led the group along Raja Debendra Narayan Deb Lane.



For Muslims, it was a day of prayers and festivities

TNN | Jul 19, 2015

Eid-ul-Fitr, which marks the end of the holy month of Ramzan, was celebrated with joy and goodwill across the city. In the morning on Saturday, thousands of Muslims offered Eid prayers at the three major Idgahs of the city. Inner thoroughfares in areas like Shahpur, Dariyapur, Sarkhej, Jamalpur and Paldi came alive with the aroma of fresh attar and biryani.Men and women dressed in their best clothes were seen greeting each other on the streets.

After offering `namaaz', it was time for celebrations with family, friends and neighbours. "The best part was savoring and serving each other the festival's special dish, 'sheer korma', a sweet preparation of milk, vermicelli and dry fruits," said president of Ahmedabad Ah madiya Muslim community, Raisuddin Ahmed Khan.

City-based historian Rizwan Kadri said he had visited some of his close family friends. "And there were many who came over to our place," he said. Children wearing new clothes were seen approaching elders for the `Eidi' -a small pocket money for children. Some people even visited the graves of their loved ones to offer prayers.

Wakf board chairman aISaiyed said, "Some 500 people came to my home. We made 20 litres of sheer-korma. It was a wonderful day!"



Clashes mar Eid festivities in J-K

— By FPJ Bureau | Jul 19, 2015 12:27 am

Srinagar: At least four persons including two women were today injured in clashes that broke out between protestors and security forces in several areas of Kashmir soon after Eid prayers even as Pakistani flags were hoisted in several parts of the valley, police said.

A group of youth started pelting stones at police and paramilitary forces in the Eidgah area of the city soon after the Eid prayers concluded, a police officer said.

 The miscreants were chased away by the personnel of the law enforcing agencies, he said.

However, the miscreants kept regrouping and pelted stones at police personnel, who responded by firing tear smoke shells, the officer said.

He said four persons, including a woman, a teenage girl and a seven-year-old boy, sustained injuries in their legs after getting hit by tear smoke shells.

Similar incidents of stone-pelting were also witnessed in the Kothibagh area of the city but the police managed to restore order by chasing away the mob, the officer said.

A group of around 50 youth indulged in stone-pelting at Lal Chowk in Anantnag area of south Kashmir but were chased away by the police, he added.

The officer said the Eid prayers passed off peacefully in the rest of the valley.

Meanwhile, separatist supporters hoisted Pakistani flags during several protest rallies in Eidgah area and Sopore town of north Kashmir Baramulla district.



Arab World


37 Killed Amid Saudi Crackdown on Militants

By Staff writer | Al Arabiya News

Sunday, 19 July 2015

The Saudi interior ministry said Saturday some 37 people, including security forces and civilians, were killed as part of a crackdown in the kingdom on a cluster of cells linked to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) group.

It said 37 people died during the crackdown and more than 120 were wounded from security forces and civilians.

Six “terrorist” militants were also killed, it added.

During a press conference held on Saturday, the ministry announced that it has arrested 431 suspects linked to ISIS, and at least 190 of them were accused of being involved in attacks on Shiite mosques in May, killing dozens of worshippers.

The statement said authorities have also seized documents, devices, communication tools, explosives and weapons that were smuggled into the kingdom.

ISIS claimed responsibility for the May explosion at a mosque in al-Qadeeh village east of the kingdom during Friday prayers, which killed 20 people. The bombing in al-Qadeeh in Qatif province also targeted Shiites to stir sectarian strife in the country.



ISIS films child carrying out a beheading for ‘first time’

By Staff writer | Al Arabiya News

Sunday, 19 July 2015

ISIS have released footage purporting to be of a young child beheading a Syrian regime army officer, in what is regarded as the execution of its kind, reported British media earlier this week.

The young boy, labelled the “cub of the Caliphate”, is seen wearing camouflage and a black headdress with his face uncovered.

He forces the soldier, who identifies himself as a captain in Bashar al-Assad’s army, to lie on his front in order for the child to be able to pull his head back and cut it off with a small knife. He then holds up the decapitated head and puts on top of the victim’s body.

Throughout the beheading, an ISIS fighter is seen observing the killing.

The video is understood to have been taken at the Western Hir Palace in the province of Homs after the soldier was captured by ISIS militants, near the Al-Bosayri army checkpoint.

The unnamed officer is believed to have been a regime leader in the ancient city of Palmyra, which ISIS took control of in May, destroying parts of the city as they believe several of its historical buildings and monuments are a distraction from the worship of God.

ISIS have increasingly used young boys in their executions, with some children being ordered to shoot captives at point blank range.



Man who tweeted death threat to Saudi satirist among ISIS detainees

By Staff writer | Al Arabiya News

Sunday, 19 July 2015

A man who threatened to kill Saudi satirist Nasser Al Qasabi last month is among the 144 ISIS-linked suspects detained in Saudi Arabia on Saturday, Al Arabiya News Channel reported.

Al Qasabi’s sketch comedy show “Selfie” earned him death threats from ISIS after mocking the extremists. In one scene, a group of holy warriors at a "girl market" pick concubines from a line of chained women abducted from the battlefield.

In a response from a supporter of the militants, a Twitter user named Jalabeeb al-Jizrawi wrote to Al Qasabi: "I swear to god you will regret what you did, you apostate."

"The holy warriors will not rest until they cut your headfrom your body, in just a few days hopefully," he wrote in a post that was retweeted over 3,000 times.

It is now believed “Jalabeeb al-Jizrawi” has been arrested as part of a crackdown on a cluster of cells linked to ISIS.

Al Qasabi says his show's message, though presented in the form of satire, is deadly serious. He says he has been unfazed by threats he has received from the militants' supporters since the premier.

"God is my protector. I'm an artist, and the artist's essential role is to reveal society's challenges even if he pays a price," he said in an interview with Al Arabiya News Channel following the death threat.

"Warning the people about ISIS is the true jihad, because we're fighting them with art not war," he added.



Saudi Arabia arrests 431 Islamic State members, foils attacks

Reuters | Jul 18, 2015

DUBAI: Saudi Arabia has arrested 431 people suspected of belonging to Islamic State cells and thwarted attacks on mosques, security forces and a diplomatic mission, the interior ministry said on Saturday.

The announcement came after a car bomb exploded at a checkpoint near the kingdom's highest security prison on Thursday, killing the driver and wounding two security officials in an attack claimed by Islamic State.

A string of deadly attacks carried out by followers of the ultra-hard-line militant group based in Iraq and Syria has fuelled concerns about a growing threat of militancy in the world's top oil exporter.

"The number arrested to date is 431, most of them citizens, in addition to participants from other nationalities ... six successive suicide operations which targeted mosques in the Eastern province on every Friday timed with assassinations of security men were thwarted," the ministry statement posted on the official news agency SPA said.

"Terrorist plots to target a diplomatic mission, security and government facilities in Sharurah province and the assassination of security men were thwarted," it said.

Islamic State has called on supporters to carry out attacks in the kingdom and killed 25 people in two suicide bombings at Shi'ite Muslim mosques in the country's east in May.

A Saudi man, reportedly aided by several other men from the kingdom, blew himself up in a Shi'ite mosque and killed 27 worshippers in June.

The group says its priority target is the Arabian peninsula and in particular Saudi Arabia, home of Islam's holiest places, from where it plans to expel Shi'ite Muslims.

The interior ministry said the suspects arrested in the kingdom were carrying out "schemes directed from trouble spots abroad and are aimed at inciting sectarian strife and chaos."



Gaza explosions target cars of Hamas officials

By AFP | Gaza 19 July 2015

Explosions on Sunday destroyed five cars in Gaza belonging to members of Hamas and Islamic militants, witnesses and a security source said, amid tensions between the Palestinian territory’s rulers and Islamist extremists.

Police for Hamas, which rules the Gaza Strip, have not yet commented on the explosions in different areas of Gaza City. There was no immediate confirmation of any casualties.

A security source said three of the cars belonged to members of Hamas and two to Islamic militants.

There have been growing signs of internal unrest in the Gaza Strip, with Hamas engaged in a power struggle with smaller extremist groups.

A spate of bomb attacks has targeted public buildings and officials as well as international organizations.

Rocket fire from Gaza into Israel has also been claimed by Salafist extremists claiming links to the ISIS.

alafist groups have been angered by a Hamas crackdown and claimed in recent weeks that around 100 of their members or supporters were behind bars.

They also criticize Hamas for what they see as its lack of zeal in enforcing Islamic law as well as for its truce with Israel since last year’s war in the Gaza Strip.



29 arrested for sexual harassment in Egypt during Eid

By Staff writer | Al Arabiya News

19 July 2015

Egyptian police has reportedly arrested 29 citizens for sexual harassment since the beginning of Eid al-Fitr, which marks the end of the fasting month of Ramadan.

According to Egyptian media, the men were arrested in several areas of the Egyptian capital.

During the three-day Eid Al-Fitr holiday, families commonly celebrate with outings to parks, cinemas, fairs and other public spaces.

A study conducted by the U.N. in 2013 revealed that 99 percent of Egyptian women are victims of harassment in Egypt.




SIS show off their shopping malls filled with Western products

Sunday, 19 July 2015

Pictures of a shopping mall filled with Western products have been released by ISIS, reported the British media on Sunday, in an apparent attempt to lure new foreign recruits.

According to reports, the mall is said to be in the Iraqi city of Mosul, situated in the province of Nineveh.

The deserted mall appears to be the group's latest publicity site for attracting new recruits. (Photo courtesy: Daily Mail)

The images, which appear to be the latest propaganda stunt by the militant group, show case their stores that are filled with a variety of products from brands such as Nivea and Dove, as well as sweet treats like Milka and Galaxy chocolate bars.

Stocked with various different shampoos and hygiene products. (Photo courtesy: Daily Mail)

 The photos appear to highlight the group's attempt at showing how daily life remains normal in ISIS territories.

However, doubt remains that only few would be able to afford their daily shopping at the mall, as it is rumored that the militant group only pay a basic monthly wage to fighters for food and supplies.





At least 19 Boko Haram insurgents killed in Chad -source

Sat Jul 18, 2015

N'DJAMENA (Reuters) - At least 19 Boko Haram fighters and two Chadian soldiers were killed in combat on Friday after the insurgents attacked a Chadian village on the banks of Lake Chad, a military source said.

"The Islamists fighters attacked early this morning and we returned fire and they were forced to flee back into Nigeria," the source told Reuters by telephone from Komguia, where the fighting took place.

Chadian President Idriss Deby earlier on Friday vowed to crush the insurgents who have killed thousands of people and threat the stability of the region.

"Chad will never bend in the face Boko Haram and I promise you that Boko Haram will disappear," he told a group of Muslim clerics.

Boko Haram has fought a six-year-old insurgency to carve out an Islamist state in northeast Nigeria and are carrying out cross-border attacks despite a military campaign involving Nigeria's neighbours Niger, Cameroon and Chad.

Niger's army killed at least 30 suspected fighters as it searched for militants in villages just over the border with Nigeria, Nigerien security sources said.

The army launched the operation on Thursday, a day after gunmen thought to be from Boko Haram crossed over from Nigeria and killed at least a dozen villagers on the Niger side of the border.

"Our defence forces who are engaged in the operation inside Nigeria between the towns of Malam Fatori and Damasak, killed the insurgents on Thursday," a security source said, requesting not to be named.

Boko Haram has started calling itself the Islamic State's "West Africa Province" since pledging allegiance in March to the hardline militant group which controls large areas of Syria and Iraq.

Early on Friday, two suicide bombers, an elderly woman and a 10-year-old girl, killed at least nine people in the northeastern Nigerian city of Damaturu as worshippers gathered to mark the Muslim Eid al-Fitr holiday, a military spokesman said.

The group has targeted security forces, schools and other Muslim communities who do not share its hardline version of Islam.



Algeria says nine soldiers killed in attack claimed by al Qaeda

By Lamine Chikhi

ALGIERS, Sun Jul 19, 2015 (Reuters) - At least nine Algerian soldiers were killed when Islamist militants ambushed their patrol west of the capital Algiers last week in one of the deadliest attacks in months, the defence ministry said on Sunday.

Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb claimed Friday's attack in the Ain Defla region in a statement posted on a social media account that often releases its communiqués.

A security source on Saturday had said 11 soldiers were killed. Sunday's statement from the ministry was the first official confirmation of the attack.

"A detachment of the army was targeted by a terrorist group. We deplore the death of nine soldiers as martyrs and two injured," the ministry statement said.

Since Algeria's conflict with armed Islamists in the 1990s in which more than 200,000 people were killed, it has become one of North Africa's most stable states and is a key ally in the Western campaign against Islamist militancy in the region.

But al Qaeda-allied fighters under veteran commander Abdelmalek Droukdel, and rival fighters who split to declare loyalty to Islamic State, are still active in pockets of the country, mostly in remote mountain areas.

One security source said Droukdel may have been involved in the ambush as a way to show al Qaeda presence on the ground.

Gunmen claiming loyalty to Islamic State, which controls swathes of Iraq and parts of Syria, have been gaining ground in neighbouring Libya, where a conflict between two rival governments has created a security vacuum.

Full Report at:



Islamic State claims kidnapping of three African Christians in Libya

Sat Jul 18, 2015

BENGHAZI, Libya (Reuters) - Islamic State has kidnapped three African Christians in eastern Libya, the group said, publishing their passport pictures.

The men come from Egypt, Nigeria and Ghana, Islamic State said in a statement on social media, without elaborating.

The kidnapping took place in Noufliyah, an Islamic State stronghold southeast of the city of Sirte, said a resident, asking not to be named.

Mohamed El Hejazi, a military spokesman loyal to the internationally recognised government based in the east, also said the abduction happened in the small town.

The militant group has expanded in the North African country by exploiting chaos and a security vacuum like it did in Iraq and Syria.

Islamic State militants have beheaded dozens and attacked foreign missions in Tripoli, while also fighting forces loyal to Libya's two governments.

The official government has been based in the east since losing control of the capital Tripoli a year ago when a rival group called Libya Dawn seized it, setting up its own parliament and government.

(Reporting by Ayman al-Warfalli and Mostafa Hashem; Writing by Ulf Laessing; Editing by Tom Brown)



U.S. to trace Nigerian stolen assets, boost military help

By Lesley Wroughton

WASHINGTON,  Jul 19, 2015  (Reuters) - The United States will offer to help Nigeria's new leader track down billions of dollars in stolen assets and increase U.S. military assistance to fight Islamic militants, U.S. officials said, as Washington seeks to "reset" ties with Africa's biggest economy.

Next week's visit to Washington by President Muhammadu Buhari is viewed by the U.S. administration as a chance to set the seal on improving ties since he won a March election hailed as Nigeria's first democratic power transition in decades.

U.S. cooperation with Buhari’s predecessor, Goodluck Jonathan, had virtually ground to a halt over issues including his refusal to investigate corruption and human rights abuses by the Nigerian military.

"President (Barack Obama) has long seen Nigeria as arguably the most important strategic country in sub-Saharan Africa," U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Tony Blinken told Reuters. "The question is would there be an opportunity to deepen our engagement and that opportunity is now."

The improving ties with Nigeria, Africa's biggest oil producer, come as U.S. relations have cooled with two other traditional Africa powers - Egypt and South Africa.

U.S. officials have said they are willing to send military trainers to help Nigeria counter a six-year-old northern insurgency by the Boko Haram Islamist movement.

Since Buhari's election, Washington has committed $5 million in new support for a multi-national task force set up to fight the group. This is in addition to at least $34 million it is providing to Nigeria, Chad, Cameroon and Niger for equipment and logistics.

Full Report at:



Ebola Fears Haunt Liberia's `Eid

Sunday, 19 July 2015

MONROVIA – As Ebola continues to spread fears in Liberia, thousands of Muslims in the west-African country have celebrated `Eid Al-Fitr amid ongoing cautions of the latest outbreak of the deadly virus.

“We thank Allah that the start and end of this year’s fast was peaceful, unlike last year,” Grand Mufti Sheik Abubakar Sumaworo told Anadolu Agency.

“But with the new cases of Ebola… we all have agreed to join the fight against Ebola,” he said.

`Eid Al-Fitr is one the two main Islamic religious festivals along with `Eid Al-Adha.

After special prayers to mark the day, festivities and merriment start with visits to the homes of friends and relatives.

And while traditionally everyone wears new clothes for `Eid, children look forward to gifts and traditional `ediya (cash).

In a sharp contrast to last year restrictions, Liberia Muslims were seen shaking hands and sharing meals on Friday, July 17.

Sheikh Abubakar Sumaworo urged imams to and Muslim leaders to stand up and take role in spreading awareness about the disease through mosque pulpits.

“Today we called on all Muslims to observe the Ebola preventive measures by burying their dead safely and reporting sick people,” he said.

Next week, a mass meeting of imams and Muslim leaders in Liberia is scheduled, where they will form strategies on how to help fight the latest outbreak.

“Last year’s (Ramadan) was painful for me, but I thank Allah that I am alive,” 42-year-old Amanita Kromah, who lost 16 family members to Ebola, told Anadolu Agency.

The virus, for which there is no treatment or vaccine, has claimed almost 5,000 dead across Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.

The Muslim-dominated Republic of Guinea remains the worst affected by the disease that was discovered in 1976 after an outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

According to health officials, some traditional practices like touching and washing Ebola’s dead hamper efforts to combat the virus.

Muslims in Ebola-hit countries have been cautioned against washing the bodies of people who died of Ebola to avoid spreading the virus.

Between 70-80 % of Ebola infected people get the virus during burial of relatives, according to the Sierra Leone Health Ministry.

The contagious disease, which has no known cure, has initial symptoms that include headaches, muscle pain, conjunctivitis and weakness, before moving into more severe phases of causing vomiting, diarrhoea and internal and external bleeding.

The fatality rate of the current outbreak is around 60% although Ebola can kill up to 90% of those who catch it.



South Asia


Taliban ambush kills 8, including 2 children in Afghanistan

AP | Jul 16, 2015, 07.29 PM IST

KABUL: An Afghan official says Taliban gunmen killed eight people in an ambush in a province east of the capital, Kabul.

Sarhadi Zwak , a spokesman for the governor of Laghman Province, says the attack took place Thursday afternoon in Mihtarlam, the provincial capital.

The victims, four local police officers and four civilians, were all travelling in the same van when it was attacked, Zwak said. Two of the dead were children, he said.

Zwak blamed the Taliban for the attack, but no one has publicly claimed responsibility yet.



Uighur Muslims Celebrate `Eid Al-Fitr

19 July 2015 10:46

URUMQI – Thousands of Muslims in northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region have gathered in an Urumqi mosque to celebrate `Eid Al-Fitr, which marks the end of Ramadan, with special prayers and festivities.

"I'm happy. It’s our festival these days. I’m happy to have come to this prayer," said a Uighur Muslim, CCTV.CN reported on Sunday, July 19.

"I’ve prepared for the festival. We cleaned the house, and bought good food and new clothes."

After special prayers to mark the day, festivities and merriment start with visits to the homes of friends and relatives.

And while traditionally everyone wears new clothes for `Eid, children look forward to gifts and traditional `ediya (cash).

In Xinjiang's capital Urumqi, thousands of Muslims throngs to local mosques for early morning `Eid prayer.

At 120-year-old Yang Hang mosque in Urumqi, an estimated 11,000 worshippers performed prayers while chanting `Eid Takbir.

The festive prayer, which lasted for some 30 minutes, was attended by whole families including young men, fathers, mothers and sons as well as grandfathers.

Concluding a tough mid-summer fast, the mosque offered fruits and drinks at itss dining room.

"Ramadan was not easy for me. It was really hot, too. But now it has finally ended," one of the worshippers added.

Chinese authorities imposes restrictions on Uighur Muslim in the north-western region of Xinjiang every Ramadan.

Last month, the International Union of Muslim Scholars (IUMS) condemned China's ban on fasting during Ramadan in the Muslim dominant Xinjiang district, urging the Asian country to respect Muslim faith.



Deported tourists 'admitted' to watching terror videos: China

AFP, Beijing| Updated: Jul 19, 2015

Chinese police say that foreign tourists including one Indian citizen detained and later deported from northern China "admitted" to watching videos advocating terrorism, state-media reported on Sunday.

The brief report by the Xinhua news agency is the most detailed official explanation provided of the detentions of the mostly British and South African tourists last week.

Police in China's Inner Mongolia region told Xinhua that the tourists "first watched a documentary in a hotel room. After some of them left, the rest proceeded to watch video clips advocating terrorism".

They added that police seized "similar" videos "from a mobile phone belonging to Hoosain Ismail Jacobs, a South African national".

Xinhua added that nine of the foreigners -- five South Africans, three British and one Indian -- were held on suspicion of "organising, leading or joining terrorist groups".

All of the nine "admitted to their illegal acts and repented" before police imposed a "lenient sentence," of deportation, Xinhua said.

A total of 20 visitors from South Africa, Britain and India were held at Ordos airport in China's northern Inner Mongolia region on Friday last week, sparking diplomatic concern.

Britain said 11 of its nationals were detained -- two of them with dual South African nationality. London said on Sunday all had returned home.

Xinhua cited police as saying that 11 of the tourists were deported last Saturday, and the nine others on Wednesday.

A statement released by a British-based spokesperson for Hoosain Jacobs and fellow traveller Tahira Jacobs said this week the detentions may have been made after an "unfortunate misunderstanding" concerning Genghis Khan, the famed Mongolian warlord.

"They watched a documentary on Genghis Khan to further their understanding of the region they were in at the time, and this may have mistakenly been deemed as 'propaganda' material," the statement said.

It was not clear whether the "documentary," referred to by police was about Genghis Khan.

China has launched a wide-ranging crackdown on what it claims is "terrorism" in its mostly Muslim north-western Xinjiang region.

Several of those on the 47 day tour of China were reportedly Muslims. A new criminal law submitted last month to China's rubber-stamp Parliament widens the list of activities which can be defined as "terrorism", state media said.

Chinese police sometimes pressure criminal suspects to sign confessions before they have access to a lawyer.



Afghan People should remain alert to defend themselves: second deputy to CEO

By KHAAMA PRESS - Sat Jul 18 2015

MohaqiqThe second deputy to Chief Executive Officer Mohammad Mohaqiq called on Afghan people, specifically his supporters to remain alert and vigilant for self defense amid deteriorating security situation.

During a gathering on the occasion of Eid al-Fitr in western part of capital Kabul, Mohaqiq said the people should be alert to face any situation and should not be concerned and disappointed.

He told his supporters to remain alert and vigilant from mosques to bunkers and regions bordering enemies and stand by the Afghan security forces to defend the Afghan soil.

Mohaqiq called on his supporters to remain strong and tolerant while warning that their enemies have changed strategy to harm them.

He also recalled his message to his supporters at the beginning of disarmament process where he had urged them to refrain from the use of weapons and hand over the weapons to the government but keep the personal weapons for the future generation.

Mohaqiq said certain people understood the meaning of his statement while others did not.

He also called on the government to deploy forces additional forces units in central parts of the country amid growing violence.

The remarks by Mohaqiq comes as the acting provincial governor for northern Balkh province of Afghanistan Ata Mohammad Noor said Friday that joint operations will be launched to clear northern parts of the country from the militants.

Speaking during a ceremony to mark the first day of Eid al-Fitr in Mazar-e-Sharif city, Noor said the operations would be launched based on an agreement reached with First Vice President Gen. Abdul Rashid Dostum and First Deputy CEO Haji Mohammad Mohaqiq.

He also criticized the reconciliation process with the Taliban group and warned that the peace efforts would not yield a positive result if the Afghan people and political parties are not consulted.



Car bomb explosion foiled in capital Kabul

By KHAAMA PRESS - Sat Jul 18 2015, 3:18 pm

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explosion foiled in KabulThe Afghan security forces thwarted a plot by the militant groups to carry out an attack in capital Kabul by detonating a Vehicle-borne Improvised Explosive Device (VBIED).

Officials in Kabul police department said the VBIED was confiscated by police forces from the vicinity of 15th police district.

The officials further added that the militants were looking to carry out an attack during the Eid days using the vehicle packed with explosives.

Some weapons including Rocket Propelled Grenade (RPG) launchers were also confiscated by the police forces, the officials added.

This comes as the Taliban-led insurgency has been rampant since the group announced its summer offensive earlier this year and since then launched numerous attacks across the country including capital Kabul.

The Taliban militants launched coordinated suicide attack on NATO troops convoy and the Afghan intelligence compound in capital Kabul nearly two weeks ago.

According to the security officials at least three people were injured in the attack on NATO troops convoy while a security guard of the NDS compound was killed along with three suicide bombers in the second attack on the intelligence compound.





9 militant commanders of banned outfit killed in Pakistan

PTI | Jul 19, 2015, 12.52 PM IST

KARACHI: At least nine militant commanders of a proscribed outfit, who were involved in the killing of 44 personnel from frontier works department, were killed on Sunday during a clash with paramilitary troops in Pakistan's restive Balochistan province.

Frontier Corps, on a tip off about the presence of militants, launched a search operation in Awaran district.

n seeing the FC personnel, the militants opened fire on them and in retaliatory fire, nine commanders of the banned outfit were killed, Geo news reported.

The FC seized large cache of arms and explosives from the possession of the militants.

The home department has claimed that those commanders, killed during search operation, were involved in the killing of 44 FWO personnel besides other incidents.

Though FC is meant to help in local law enforcement and carry out border patrol and anti-smuggling operations, its units have been recently used in military operations in Balochistan and the Federally Administered Tribal Areas.



Political will can improve ties: Pakistan

TNN | Jul 19, 2015, 05.48 AM IST

NEW DELHI: Even as Pak Rangers refused to accept sweets from the BSF on Eid, Pakistan high commissioner Abdul Basit said political will was needed to improve relations between the two countries.

"We hope relations between the two countries will improve and if both sides have the will, then there is no reason our issues such as poverty, illiteracy and disease cannot be resolved," he said after meeting the Imam of Fatehpuri Masjid here on the occasion of Eid. "Pakistan is always committed to improving ties to resolve the issues," he said.

For the past few days, border violence has gone up, with both sides accusing each other of starting the firing. Indian officials said the BSF was retaliating strongly against border firing by Pakistan. Coming after a supposed breakthrough in political relations between India and Pakistan after a meeting in Ufa, both sides have hardened their positions.

The Pakistan high commissioner's comments come amidst heightened tension along the border due to ceasefire violations. India has warned Pakistan of "effective and forceful" response to unprovoked firing and cross-border terrorism. Added to this is an unrelated argument about refusing visas to each other's diplomatic officials. Labeled the 'visa war', both sides have accused each other of not issuing assignment visas to their diplomats and officials.

While India maintained that Pakistan has not issued visas to its 12 officials including to a Naval attache, Pakistan has said it has recently issued several assignment visas to Indian officials but none were issued by India



Taliban commentary raises hope for peace talks

ISLAMABAD, July 19, 2015

A Taliban commentary raised hopes on Sunday for the fragile peace process to move forward at a time when pressure is mounting on the armed group to declare a ceasefire ahead of the next round of negotiations.

Senior Afghan Taliban leaders and representatives of the government in Kabul sat face-to-face for the first time in 14 years in Pakistan-brokered talks in Murree on July 7. Another round is planned in mid-August, according to Afghan leaders.

Taliban supremo Mullah Omar’s approval of the talks in his “Eid” message and the group’s weekly analysis on their official website could be seen as positive indications that the rare reconciliation process could make progress. However, the process still faces serious challenges from hardliners within the Taliban and elements of the Afghan government.

Some former Taliban leaders and a few members of Taliban’s Qatar office who are not in favour of Pakistan’s role in the political negotiations could try to derail the process which has yet to gain momentum.

Taliban’s analysis this week has only focused on negotiations, however, it does not directly mention the Murree talks as the Taliban leadership has not yet officially commented on the peace process.

In the commentary, ‘How to achieve sustainable peace in the country?,’ the Taliban do not reject peace talks and give four suggestions on making the peace process successful.

“Commitment and sincerity are the foremost elements for the peace process. A peace process which is also an Islamic obligation should not be used as a tool for deception, cunning and accusation of the opposite side,” said the Taliban analysis posted on their official website.

“Peace requires deep thoughts and discussions. A minor mistake in peace process could bring in enormous problems to our nation,” the analysis, which be seen as a soft approach towards the recently launched process, read.

“Peace requires serious moves based on realities otherwise it will deteriorate the peace process and pave the way for prolongation of war. Therefore, all the steps should be taken very carefully,” the Taliban said in their advice to their opponents.

However, the Taliban analysis warns the Kabul government not to use talks as a media tool. It further urges the government to remove hurdles in the way of peace and establish an atmosphere of confidence and trust.

“An important point in a peace process is the realisation of the sentiments of opposite side. Peace should not be dubbed as surrender. Those who desire peace should not use it as an instrument of propaganda,” the Taliban commentary added.

The Taliban have suggested the Kabul administration to take trust building measures.

The High Peace Council’s adviser on international affairs, Esmail Qasemyar, has urged the Taliban to announce a temporary ceasefire to hold the second round of the talks in a suitable and appropriate environment, according to the Afghan media.



Pakistan says India's ceasefire violations are against Ufa declarations

By Web Desk Published: July 19, 2015

A day after India’s Border Security Force resorted to ‘unprovoked’ firing, Pakistan lodged a protest with India over what it called a ‘provocative act’ against the understanding s reached at Ufa.

“Pakistan lodges protest at the provocative act, which is against the spirit of the understanding reached at the Ufa meeting, and hopes that the Indian government would observe the understanding reached between the two sides during 2003 to maintain peace and tranquility at the LoC and Working Boundary in the letter and spirit,” a Foreign Office statement read.

Further, the statement added, “The government of Pakistan expresses its deep concern at the unprovoked ceasefire violations by the Indian Security forces at the LoC and the offensive posture adopted during the last few days.”

“It is deeply regretted that once again the ceasefire violations by the Indian troops are being committed during the Eid holidays, as was done by them last year, when many innocent civilians were killed,” the statement added.

“This time four civilians lost their lives on July 15 and July 16 when people were busy preparing for the most happy and sacred occasion of Eidul Fitr.”

On Saturday, the first day of Eid, India’s Border Security Force (BSF) resorted to ‘unprovoked’ firing along the Line of Control (LOC) near Nezapir Sector of Azad Jammu and Kashmir. While no casualties were reported, the ISPR said such violations were regular on festive occasions.

Earlier, four civilians were killed ddue to Indian firing along the Working Boundary and the LoC.

Earlier, the Foreign Office had summoned Indian High Commissioner Dr T C A Raghavan and registered a strong protest with him over violation of Pakistani airspace by an Indian drone.

These developments come days after an ice-breaking meeting between Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi in the Russian city of Ufa, where both sides decided to resume the dialogue process stalled since mid-2014.





Britain will help destroy IS: Cameron

IANS | Jul 19, 2015

LONDON: British Prime Minister David Cameron has said his country is committed to working with the US to destroy the "caliphate" set up by the Islamic State (IS) terror group in Iraq and Syria, a media report said on Sunday.

"I want Britain to do more," the prime minister said on Saturday.

"We're talking and discussing at the moment, with the opposition parties in Britain, about what more we can do. But be in no doubt, we're committed to working with you (US) to destroy the caliphate in both countries," BBC quoted Cameron as saying.

Last week, the Labour party's interim leader Harriet Harman was invited to a National Security Council briefing on the threat in Syria. The development is being seen as a sign of a possible parliamentary vote to extend airstrikes in the autumn.

Labour and the Liberal Democrats have called for an explanation in parliament after it emerged that Royal Air Force pilots had already taken part in bombing raids over Syria despite MPs having approved action against IS only in Iraq.

Downing Street has confirmed that Cameron was aware of the Syria missions.

Cameron is expected to give a speech on Monday, to put in place the government's future strategy to combat radicalisation and extremism.



IS set up stronghold in Europe for terror attacks on West

PTI | Jul 19, 2015

LONDON: The Islamic State terror group is secretly buying land near an isolated village in Bosnia in the heart of Europe which could be a base for devastating terror attacks on the West, a media report said on Sunday.

At least 12 IS fighters trained in the village of Osve have left for Syria in recent months and five are reported to be dead, a Sunday Mirror investigation said.

Crucially, the location gives IS a key strategic position due to its proximity to the Mediterranean which is used by extremists from Syria, Iraq and North Africa, the report said

Security services think the area in Bosnia is used for ISIS training camps and could be a base for devastating terror attacks on the West.

Counter-terrorism expert Dzevad Galijasevic said: "From this village a large number of people went to Syria and are going constantly.

"The chosen location of some of the properties is on a hill, where there is no possibility to approach without being seen. It is clear that the source of the terrorist threat is right there. It is a major threat.

"There is no one there who isn't ready to respond to the summons to jihad," Galijasevic said

The newspaper said the hilltop village is not mapped by GPS and is only accessible by steep and winding roads barely wide enough for cars to pass.

A number of houses there appear to have been abandoned or only half built and it is not overlooked by any other settlement.

It is understood that notorious IS supporter Harun Mehicevic is among fanatics who bought land in the area. He has purchased two hectares, it said.

Mehicevic fled Bosnia during the 1990s Balkan wars and settled in Melbourne, Australia, where he is considered one of the country's most dangerous men.

Other known terrorists believed to have bought land in the village include Jasin Rizvic and Osman Kekic, who are both now fighting with ISIS in Syria.

Muslim leader Izet Hadzic, arrested by Bosnia' and Herzegovina's security service Sipa in a raid, is also understood to have property in the village, as have many others who have gone to fight in Syria and Iraq.

One villager told the newspaper that locals fear the area is a "nest for terrorists".

The man, who does not want to be named, said: "We regularly hear gunshots coming from the woods up there for long periods at a time. It happens every week.

"I don't know what they are doing, whether it is target practice or something like that, but it happens regularly.

"It is really concerning to hear such notorious members of ISIS are buying land. They keep themselves to themselves but it is better not to ask questions.

"It worries me that I am bringing up my children here. Now could be time to move out but it is not so easy to sell."

Bosnia is an ideal position for jihadis travelling illegally from Syria to Greece, via Turkey, and then through Macedonia and Serbia.



Intensified shelling in east Ukraine kills four civilians, soldier

Reuters | Jul 19, 2015

DONETSK: Ukraine and pro-Russian rebels accused each other on Saturday of shelling residential areas despite a ceasefire, reporting four civilians and one soldier killed following a week of the deadliest fighting in over a month.

Separatists said one man was killed by shelling from Ukrainian forces in central Donetsk. A Reuters witness reported seeing the body of man in a burning building, though it was unclear if it was the same person.

More than 6,500 people have been killed since the conflict broke out in eastern Ukraine in April last year. Attacks have lessened since a peace agreement was brokered in Minsk, Belarus, five months ago, but both sides accuse each other of violations.

"The vast majority of shelling and armed attacks by the rebels take place at night to avoid attracting the attention of international observers," Ukrainian military spokesman Andriy Lysenko said.

He said separatists had focused their attacks on residential areas north-west of rebel-held Donetsk city and that one serviceman, a woman, her granddaughter and a 49-year-old man had been killed.

Rebels meanwhile accused Ukraine of intensifying their assault. The sounds of incoming and outgoing artillery strikes could be heard in the centre of separatist-held Donetsk on Saturday evening, according to the Reuters witness.

None of the casualty reports could be independently verified.

The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), which is monitoring the ceasefire, has said neither side have fully withdrawn heavy artillery from the frontline as required by the peace deal.

On Friday, the head of the OSCE Ivica Dacic described a worsening humanitarian crisis in the east and urged both sides to adhere to the Minsk agreement, which he said was the only chance to achieve peace.



3 French arrested in IS-inspired plan to attack base

AP | Jul 17, 2015, 08.45 PM IST

PARIS: The Paris prosecutor's office says three young men arrested this week in a plot to attack a military base were in contact with an Islamic State group jihadi who told them to ''strike in France.''

The prosecutor's statement said the suspects, who were arrested Monday but have not yet been charged, told investigators they planned a late December or early January attack on the Mediterranean military post Fort Bear, where the 23-year-old Djebril A., a former Marine, once worked. The two others, identified as Ismael K., 17, and Antoine F., 19, said the plan was to decapitate the base chief _ a plot that Djebril denied.

The three met online and communicated through an encrypted program.



North America


Gunman told Muslims to 'submit to Allah' in chilling blog post days before killing 4 US marines

AFP | Jul 17, 2015,

CHATTANOOGA: A 24-year-old gunman opened fire at two US military centers in Tennessee on Thursday, killing four marines in a rampage that officials said was being investigated as an act of "domestic terrorism."

The shooter - identified by the FBI as 24-year-old Mohammod Youssuf Abdulazeez - died in a firefight with police. Three people were injured - a police officer, a Marine Corps recruiter and a navy sailor.

The incident in the city of Chattanooga served as an ugly reminder of other deadly shootings at US military installations, including a 2009 rampage at Fort Hood that left 13 dead and a 2013 attack at the Navy Yard in Washington that left 12 dead.

It also came amid lingering fears about the threat posed by "lone wolf" attackers in the United States, though the motive in Thursday's attacks was not immediately clear.

US President Barack Obama called the shootings "heartbreaking" and asked Americans to pray for the relatives of the victims.

"It is incomprehensible to see what happened and the way that individuals who proudly serve our country were treated," Chattanooga mayor Andy Berke said, praising the quick response by law enforcement to prevent further loss of life.

"Today is a nightmare for the city of Chattanooga."

Bill Killian, the US federal prosecutor in that part of Tennessee, said the shootings was being treated as an "act of domestic terrorism."

"We are looking at every possible avenue - whether it was terrorism, whether it was domestic, international or whether it was a simple criminal act," FBI special agent Ed Reinhold said.

"We have no idea at this point what his motivation was behind this shooting," Reinhold said.

"At this point, we don't have anything that directly ties him to an international terrorist organization."

So far there hasn't been an indication that anyone else was involved in carrying out the shooting.

US Attorney General Loretta Lynch said the FBI would take the lead in the "national security investigation of this heinous attack on members of our military."

'Average Chattanooga family'

Abdulazeez, a Muslim, lived in a leafy suburb of Chattanooga. US media reported that he was a naturalized US citizen born in Kuwait.

He graduated from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga with a degree in engineering.

"Sadly, it appears that the shooter was a 2012 graduate from UTC. Our thoughts are with those affected by today's tragedy," the university said on Twitter.

A woman who attended Red Bank High School with Abdulazeez said he was a quiet kid, and well-liked.

"He was friendly, funny, kind," Kagan Wagner told the Chattanooga Times Free Press. "I never would have thought it would be him."

"They were your average Chattanooga family," Wagner said.

Scott Schrader, who coached Abdulazeez in mixed martial arts, told CNN he "seemed like the all-American kid."

In an apparent blog post written Monday, Abdulazeez said Muslims should not let "the opportunity to submit to Allah... pass you by," according to the SITE Intelligence Group, which monitors extremist activity on social media.

Two targets

The Marine Corps confirmed that all four victims were killed at a Navy and Marine Corps Reserve Center in the late morning. About 40 minutes earlier, the gunman had opened fire at a recruitment center several miles away.

Berke said officers had described to him a "harrowing and violent scene - bullets whizzing around them."

US defense secretary Ashton Carter and navy secretary Ray Mabus offered their condolences to the families of the victims, with Mabus calling the attacks "both devastating and senseless."

The Department of Homeland Security said it had ordered security be stepped up at "certain federal facilities, out of an abundance of caution."

'All shook up'

Erica Wright said she witnessed the shooting at the recruiting center through the window of a hair salon two doors down.

"We heard one pop, really loud pop. So we went to the door to see what it was," Wright told CNN.

"We saw a guy in a silver Mustang just unloading on the naval recruiting place."

Wright said she watched in horror as the man reloaded his gun and opened fire again. He then backed up his car, pulled up to another part of the recruiting center and started shooting again.

"We're all shook up," she said.

Bullet holes could be seen in the windows of the recruiting center and shell casings littered the parking lot.

US senator Bob Corker, a former mayor of Chattanooga, said he was "heartbroken."

"This is a difficult day for Tennesseans and our thoughts and prayers are with all affected by this tragedy," he said in a statement.





Eight arrested after tense anti-Islam rallies in central Sydney and Brisbane

July 19, 2015

Eight people have been arrested at anti-racism and anti-Islam rallies in Sydney and Brisbane a day after violent clashes at similar protests in Melbourne.

About 150 members of the Reclaim Australia group gathered in Sydney's Martin Place on Sunday morning, some wearing ancient Greek army costumes and others with Australian flags draped across their shoulders.

Two blocks away, a loud counter-protest group waved banners saying "Stand With Multiculturalism Against Racism" and "No Racism, no Islamophobia".

Police kept the groups separated but one man was swooped on by officers after slipping into the anti-racism protest.

The crowd became noisy and several people shouted "Nazi" as he was led away.

George Jameson, rallying with Reclaim Australia in a replica Spartan military outfit, said they weren't racists and had come together to stand up for freedom of speech.

"Both my parents are immigrants. They both came from the former Yugoslav Republic, how can I be a racist? I'm a first-gen Aussie," he told AAP.

"I'm (here) for freedom of speech and democracy and respecting individualism, respecting someone's dignity and their human rights."

But at the other end of the street, protester Linc Saunders said some had different intentions.

"There are people amongst them who are involved with the violent far-right groups," he told AAP.

"The fact that some of them spout online pro neo-Nazi propaganda, I think that just shows who we are up against here."

Similar protests in Melbourne on Saturday were much more heated, with at least four people arrested and dozens hit with capsicum spray by police who battled to keep the two sides apart.

Other Sunday rallies were planned for Canberra, Hobart, Perth and Queensland, including Mackay, where federal government MP George Christensen and Pauline Hanson were among Reclaim Australia's scheduled speakers.

The arrests in Sydney took place during the protests and there haven't been any incidents at nearby hotels or on trains, said Assistant Commissioner Alan Clarke, who was in charge of police operations in the city.

"We're quite pleased with the way the day has gone," he told reporters.

"Overall we had a reasonably good level of compliance with the protesters."

Two of those arrested are likely to be charged: a 40-year-old woman who allegedly assaulted police and a 57-year-old man accused of offensive behaviour.

Three other men, two aged 19 and one 35, were arrested for breaching the peace and made to leave the protests.

They haven't been charged.

Mr Clarke wouldn't say with which group the arrested people were rallying.

A 35-year-old man was hospitalised with minor head injuries and a 48-year-old man was treated for a minor facial cut at the scene.

"Those matters will be investigated", Mr Clarke said.





Turkey eyes slice of Iranian trade pie after sanctions relief

By Menekse Tokyay | Special to Al Arabiya News, Istanbul

Sunday, 19 July 2015

The much-awaited nuclear deal with Iran will mark a new stage not only for the international community but also for the geopolitical dynamics, especially in terms of Turkey’s standing in the region.

On June 14, Iran signed a deal entitled as “Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action” with five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council (the U.S., UK, France, Russia and China) plus Germany, to curtail much of its nuclear infrastructure in return for ending draconian sanctions built over the past nine years and targeting its economy.

The first reaction of Turkey, who was supporting a diplomatic solution to this issue, was to hail the deal as being primarily in favor of Turkish economic interests, and to state its key importance for the stability, security and peace in the Middle East.

Turkey and Iran share the same land border that has been intact since 1639.

Between 2009-2010, Turkey and Brazil had offered to mediate between the West and Tehran for the denuclearization issue, although the attempt failed at the end because of the lack of political willingness.

In a news conference on June 14, Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said that transparent implementation of the deal would be vital, and that the easing of sanctions against Iran would also bring economic benefits to Turkey, which is one of the major trading partners of Iran.

But, Cavusoglu warned, Iran has to play a constructive and positive role in regional conflicts, especially in Syria, Iraq and Yemen, by abandoning sectarian aggression and emphasizing political dialogue as a brother country.

Iran and Russia are known as the main supporters of the Assad regime in Syria during the civil uprising.

Likewise, Turkey’s Finance Minister Mehmet Simsek tweeted, saying, “Iran nuclear deal is great news for the Turkish economy. It is likely to boost trade and investments between the two countries.”

Experts interviewed by Al Arabiya News said that this process would trigger a surge in Turkish exports to Iran, as the bilateral trade between the two countries may leap from 13.7 billion dollars in 2014 numbers to 35 billion dollars by the end of next year and reach to 90 billion dollars within five years.

In January, the two countries signed the Preferential Trade Agreement (PTA), which is expected to come into effect this year. PTA will decrease custom duties in 265 products in bilateral trade to a great extent, and it will increase Turkish exports in automotive sub-industry as well as food, chemical and petro-chemical industries.

Riza Eser, regional manager for Iran at Turkey’s Kibar Holding, said even during the embargo period, his company carried out successfully its trade relations with Iran, by exporting iron and steel and importing iron ore and aluminum.

Full Report at:



Cihan journalists ordered out of mosque where Erdoğan performed Eid prayer

July 17, 2015

A reporter and cameraman for the Cihan news agency were ordered to leave an Istanbul mosque where President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan was due to perform the Eid al-Fitr prayer on Friday.

Reporter Fatih Yılmaz and cameraman Resul Yönet were in the section of the mosque reserved for members of the media when presidential officials told them to leave.

When Yılmaz protested, asking if a media accreditation ban would be in place even during Eid, one official replied, “Always.”

Yılmaz and Yönet were then taken out of the mosque by the presidential guards, effectively preventing them from performing Eid prayers.

The Cihan news agency is one of the media institutions subject to a highly controversial media accreditation ban, an extension of Erdoğan's war on the Gülen movement. Erdoğan blamed the movement, inspired by ideas of Turkish Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen, for a corruption scandal that became public in December 2013, which involved people in his inner circle and even members of his family.

Journalists from the blacklisted media institutions, including the Cihan, Zaman and Samanyolu groups, are barred from entering government buildings for the purposes of journalism or covering events attended by the president or his family, members of the government and Justice and Development Party (AK Party) officials.

In addition to the media institutions deemed close to the Gülen movement, other media outlets that are critical of Erdoğan or the government are also often barred from covering official events.