New Age Islam
Wed Oct 21 2020, 11:53 AM

Islamic World News ( 2 May 2016, NewAgeIslam.Com)

Syrian Army Turns Raqqa Districts into Hell for ISIL Terrorists

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photo: The global Islamic group Hizb ut-Tahrir holds a conference in Turkey, March 13, 2016. (photo by Hizb ut-Tahrir)

 

Islamic State Isn’t the Only One Calling for a Caliphate In Turkey

Taliban Must Renounce Violence If ‘Considering They Are Sons of Afghanistan’

Religious Tolerance in India Deteriorated In 2015: U.S. Commission

JuD Chief Rejects Charges of Promoting Extremism in Thar

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Arab World

Syrian Army Turns Raqqa Districts into Hell for ISIL Terrorists

Infightings Kill, Wound Scores of Terrorists East, Northeast of Damascus

The UAE May Build a Mountain to Make It Rain

Al-Nusra Front Terrorists Launch 60 Missiles on Aleppo

ISIL Attacks on Oil Wells Repulsed by Syrian Army East of Homs

Syrian Army Hits Terrorists' Gatherings Hard in Southern City of Dara'a

Islamic State Eradicating Afghan Poppy Crops

US Redeploys Military Forces in Yemen

Iranian FM: ISIL, Al-Nusra Front Weakening Truce in Syria

Defense Ministry Spokesman: ISIL Facing Collapse in Iraq

ISIL Wins More Battles against Rival Terrorists North of Syria's Aleppo

Iran Slams Terrorists for Violating Ceasefire in Syria

Senior Foreign Policy Official: West's Support for Terrorists in Syria Meant to Overshadow Palestinian Cause

Sweida: Entire Members of Terrorist Group Killed in Clashes with Syrian Army

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Mideast

Islamic State Isn’t the Only One Calling for a Caliphate in Turkey

Shocking Scale of Turkey's Islamist Terror Threat Facing British Tourists

Two soldiers killed in PKK attack in Turkey’s southeast

Six ISIL militants killed after rocket projectiles hit Turkey’s Kilis: Army

Prosecutor says spying charges ‘unfounded’ in Cumhuriyet journalists’ trial

Turkey says Gaziantep attacker linked to IS

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South Asia

Taliban Must Renounce Violence If ‘Considering They Are Sons of Afghanistan’

Taliban Shadow Governor Haji Lala Killed With His 43 Fighter in Kandahar

Pakistani Insurgent among 33 Killed In Latest ANSF Air and Ground Raids: Afghan MoD

ISIS loyalists targeting opium and heroin production in Afghanistan: Report

Afghan and Indian officials discuss inauguration of $300m Salma Dam

Efforts underway to remove Hekmatyar’s name from UN blacklist: AHPC

Charming internet with plastic bag ‘Messi’ shirt, Murtaza forced to abandon Afghanistan

Afghan translator commits suicide after British authorities reject his asylum claim

New hit-list threatens Bangladeshi teachers, politicians

Bangladesh blogger seeks U.S help as threats escalate

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India

Religious Tolerance in India Deteriorated In 2015: U.S. Commission

Foundation Day Celebrations: In Gujarat, A Play on Hindu-Muslim Marriage, Inter-Caste Ties

Identity of Key IS Recruiter Remains a Mystery

Increase Maharashtra Haj quota, demand Muslims

Muslim Activist Files Complaint against Trupti Desai

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Pakistan

JuD Chief Rejects Charges of Promoting Extremism in Thar

Will Not Allow Destruction of Temples in Pakistan: Hafiz Saeed

Pakistan will get F-16s from elsewhere if funding not arranged, Aziz cautions US

MQM says Farooq Sattar's coordinator died in Rangers custody

Five policemen injured in Quetta IED blast

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Europe

Islamic State Threatens To Expose British Military Secrets

French Journalist Infiltrates Islamic State Cell for Six Months

4 terror tip-offs a day: Germany’s intel chief calls for more anti-extremist powers

France: Anti-Muslim acts triple, but anti-Jewish acts down

'This would not have happened if I was white'

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North America

In 2016, Toddlers Have Shot More People in the US Than Muslim Terrorists Have

US-Senegal deal gives Washington permanent access to African country

‘Disgraced’ asks provocative questions about being Muslim in America

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Africa

Isis Selling Chickens and Eggs in Libya's Sirte amid Financial Troubles

Black in Algeria? Then You’d Better Be Muslim

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Southeast Asia

Detention Powers Stir Concern Over Indonesia Terror Law

Fire destroys 50 shelters in Myanmar camp for displaced: witness

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau

URL: http://newageislam.com/islamic-world-news/new-age-islam-news-bureau/syrian-army-turns-raqqa-districts-into-hell-for-isil-terrorists/d/107184

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Syrian Army Turns Raqqa Districts into Hell for ISIL Terrorists

May 03, 2016

TEHRAN (FNA)- The Syrian Air Force targeted the positions and bases of the ISIL in different districts and neighborhoods of the capital of the group's self-proclaimed Caliphate, inflicting major losses on the terrorist group's military hardware.

The Syrian Army's aircraft carried out several combat flights over the ISIL strongholds in al-Ferousiyeh base, nearby areas of power station, al-Ferdows neighborhood, court building, al-Rmeileh neighborhood, al-Swameh region and railway in the Northern part of Raqqa, which ended in the killing and wounding of tens of the terrorists and destroyed their military equipment and bases' infrastructures.

Reports said earlier this week that the ISIL terrorist group used special tents in the streets of the city of Raqqa in Northeastern Syria to camouflage its military vehicles and militants against the Syrian and the Russian airstrikes.

The move by the Takfiri terrorist group comes as the Syrian and Russian air forces have recently intensified their raids on ISIL strongholds.

Reports said on Monday that the ISIL continued its mass killing of civilians in Raqqa, specially after the Takfiri terrorist group's defeat and withdrawal from the ancient city of Palmyra (Tadmur) in Homs province.

Last Friday, the Takfiri terrorist group executed a young Syrian in the Tal Abyadh district for cooperating with the government troops.

On Saturday, the ISIL also beheaded two 15-year-old youngsters in Raqqa city.

Also on Monday, the Takfiri terrorist group brutally decapitated four young people and released the photos of their beheading ceremony.

The ISIL executed over 30 civilians on spying charges in Raqqa city in the past month.

On Thursday, reports citing eye-witnesses said that the ISIL terrorist group publicly crucified two young men in Raqqa city.

Informed sources reported, citing witnesses in Raqqa that the ISIL terrorists forced the local residents to gather on the square, where the execution of the two accused of cooperating with the anti-ISIL forces was held, and observe the process.

en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13950214001012

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Islamic State isn’t the only one calling for a caliphate in Turkey

May/03/2016

Ismail Kahraman, the speaker of the Turkish parliament, caused an uproar April 25 by suggesting that the principle of secularism be stricken from the new constitution. Secularism has been a thorny subject in Turkey since March 3, 1924, when the Ottoman caliphate was abolished. As scholars observe a rising trend of Islamophobia, there is simultaneously growing interest in the idea of a caliphate in Turkey.

The international Islamist group Hizb ut-Tahrir, established decades prior to the Islamic State (IS) in 1953, emerged with the ultimate goal of resuscitating the caliphate. With a small yet growing group of dedicated followers, Hizb ut-Tahrir’s Wilayat Turkiye has been quite active in organizing rallies, conferences and seminars for the past year.

In April, the group ran a weeklong social media campaign called “Oust colonialists, end terror.” On April 22, it held a conference on “The Issue of Terror, Real Culprits and Lasting Solution” at which five speakers discussed why Muslim-majority countries are facing an increasing number of conflicts, why terror attacks have skyrocketed in Turkey, who the real culprits are behind them as well as what Muslims can and should do about these problems. The answers were clear and straightforward. Hizb ut-Tahrir members said that colonial powers in Turkey were those supporting and generating terror. Therefore, to end terror attacks, they proposed that the US and British embassies be permanently closed and all their personnel expelled. Hizb ut-Tahrir sent letters to the embassies directly asking them to leave Turkey.

Hizb ut-Tahrir is not shy about criticizing the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP). Although Hizb ut-Tahrir appreciates the leadership role President Recep Tayyip Erdogan plays in defense of the rights of Muslims, the group finds it insufficient and ineffective. In Hizb ut-Tahrir's video presentation about Western countries supporting terror in Turkey, the photos in the background were poignant: First Erdogan’s picture would appear with words asking the West, “Are you with us or with the PYD?” in reference to the Democratic Union Party, a Syrian Kurdish group. Then Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu’s photo would appear with his statement, “Just because we think differently on the PYD, we cannot quarrel with the United States.”

Hizb ut-Tahrir’s activities have generated not only an increasing number of supporters but also angry critics. On March 10, civil society organizations in support of secular values lodged an official complaint with the public prosecutor against Hizb ut-Tahrir’s seminars. On social media, several comments appeared asking how a terror organization can hold conferences in the center of Ankara. Some seasoned pundits have stated that Hizb ut-Tahrir’s conferences in Turkey are an indication of Turkish support for jihadis and IS. But is this really the case?

Mahmut Kar, the media bureau chief for Hizb ut-Tahrir Turkey, told Al-Monitor, “One must question why a group that is proposing concrete and strong solutions to the terror problem of the country, a group whose members do not even carry a Swiss army knife, is charged with terrorism.”

Hizb ut-Tahrir holds seminars and conferences to reach out to other groups. The party is open to discussion and always eager to take questions from the domestic or foreign press. It is quite telling to see that deep rifts within Turkish society prevent secular analysts from approaching Hizb ut-Tahrir and speaking with it directly. Also of note, Hizb ut-Tahrir members almost always appear in designer suits, sometimes wearing ties, with well-groomed beards. Though women occupy a separate section in their audiences, Hizb ut-Tahrir does not require the full face veil. Women form an active part of the organization.

Kar was straightforward. “Hizb ut-Tahrir condemns any attacks on civilians anywhere; it is not acceptable to Islam. We submitted letters to the US and British embassies in Ankara because we believe these two are the countries that support terrorism and themselves devour terrorism. We also acknowledge that from time to time, the Turkish state itself feeds upon terrorism for domestic policy goals. We observe that the Turkish leaders have been followers of the UK and currently the US governments. Cutting diplomatic, economic and political links with these countries may be against realpolitik. But then we must remember that realpolitik means to accept the conditions that you have. Then we go in vicious cycles. If you act according to realpolitik, how do you end terror?”

For Hizb ut-Tahrir, which is critical of nationalism and colonialism, the answer is the reinstatement of the caliphate. The group is critical of the brutal methods of IS as attempts to tarnish the concept of the caliphate and view the group as a US project. It has repeatedly condemned IS attacks. Kar told Al-Monitor that in contemporary Turkey, the caliphate is widely discussed for two reasons: IS brutality and the fact that Muslim populations lack a leader. The argument, for many, is over whether Erdogan’s executive presidency is enough or a caliphate is needed for Islamic unity. Hence in early March, Hizb ut-Tahrir’s seminars in Istanbul and Ankara did not question the reasons for a caliphate, but discussed the kind of caliphate that would be best for believers.

Kar said, “In March, we gathered more than 5,000 participants who attended the seminar with a yearning for the caliphate. This burning desire for Muslims to live under the rule of the caliphate was always there, but from time to time it was suppressed by foreign demands such as democracy. Today Muslims in the region, including Turkey, see that promises of democracy have failed them and it is not the way for them. Hizb ut-Tahrir never lied to the Muslims about these truths.” Kar also observed, “In Turkey, politics fails to provide solutions to the problems.” Indeed, this view is common to different religious groups and civil society organizations in Turkey.

So while anti-AKP groups are fighting each other over whether the AKP can be trusted with sustaining a secular system in the new constitution, multiple Islamist groups are flourishing all over Turkey. To brand all groups with black flags and Arabic script as terrorist and to criticize each Islamist group without bothering to understand their individual demands may not be the most effective method to sustain a secular system in Turkey.

al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2016/05/turkey-hizbut-tahrir-isis-alternative-caliphate.html#

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Taliban must renounce violence if ‘considering they are sons of Afghanistan’

Tue May 03 2016

The former Afghan President Hamid Karzai has called on Taliban to renounce violence and join hands with the other countrymen in rebuilding the country if ‘they consider themselves sons of Afghanistan’.

In a statement released following a series of deadly attacks across the country since the group announced its spring offensive, Karzai said the war has been imposed on the Afghan nation and has roots outside the country.

Karzai further added that the main organizers of the war are living outside the country with full immunity and are plotting attacks to kill the Afghan people.

He did not elaborate further regarding the roots of Afghan war which falls outside the country but the Afghan officials have long been criticizing Pakistan for allowing the Afghan anti-government armed militants to use their soil as sanctuaries for conducting attacks in Afghanistan.

The Taliban group leadership as well as the notorious Haqqani terrorist network are openly operating in Pakistan by establishing councils in Peshawar and Quetta cities.

President Ghani earlier asked Pakistan to take actions against the Taliban group leaderships based in Peshawar and Quetta cities of Pakistan.

He made the call during a gathering in capital Kabul following the deadly attack, specifying the government’s stance towards the peace process and fight against the militant groups.

He warned to take the issue to the international organizations including the UN Security Council if Pakistan failed to take any action against the group in its soil.

khaama.com/karzai-taliban-must-renounce-violence-if-considering-they-are-sons-of-afghanistan-0824

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Religious Tolerance In India Deteriorated In 2015: U.S. Commission

3 May, 2016

NEW DELHI -- Religious tolerance in India deteriorated in 2015, and religious freedoms of minorities were violated by Hindu nationalist groups, "tacitly supported" by members of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, according to a U.S. government agency which monitors religious freedom.

In it annual report, released on Monday, the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom, said, "India is on a negative trajectory in terms of religious freedom."

The "independent and bipartisan" USCIRF was behind the U.S. government's decision to revoke Narendra Modi's tourist visa in 2005, then Chief Minister of Gujarat, alleging his complicity in the religious violence which ravaged the state in 2002.

Modi, now India's Prime Minister, has been cleared off wrongdoing in connection with the Gujarat riots by Indian courts, and last year, a U.S. court also threw out a "genocide" case against Modi, upholding the U.S. government's contention that he was entitled to immunity as a sitting head of government.

While the U.S. government has consistently made some noise over religious freedom, these concerns have not interfered with its plans to build a closer strategic relationship with India. Last week, the U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan invited Modi to address a joint meeting of the U.S. Congress, when he visits in June.

Meanwhile, the USCIRF has said that it will monitor the situation in India over the next year and then determine whether it should be designated as a “country of particular concern."

"Since the BJP assumed power, religious minority communities have been subject to derogatory comments by BJP politicians and numerous violent attacks and forced conversions by affiliated Hindu nationalist groups, such as Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), Sangh Parivar, and Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP)." - USCIRF Report

In its report, USCIRF highlighted attacks on religious freedoms of Muslims, Christians and Sikhs, restrictions on cow slaughter, anti-conversion laws, forced conversions by Hindu nationalist groups, and the failure to redress past large-scale violence.

In its recommendations, USCIRF urged the "Indian government to publicly rebuke government officials and religious leaders that make derogatory statements about religious communities."

USCIRF and India

In February, the Modi government said that communal violence has increased by 17 percent from 2014 to 2015, but the Indian government has never taken kindly to criticism from outside.

While the government doesn't relish the bad publicity, it tends to dismiss criticism from the U.S. and other foreign agencies as ignorant of the complexities of Indian society. Then, there are those who believe that the U.S. is really in no position to preach given its own myriad problems on race and religion, and the fact that some its allies are gross human rights violators.

The Indian government did not take cognizance of USCIRF's report in 2015.

"Our attention has been drawn to a Report of the USCIRF which has passed judgement on religious freedom in India. It appears to be based on limited understanding of India, its constitution and its society," said Vikas Swarup, official spokesperson for the Ministry of External Affair, last year.

Writing in the FirstPost, last year, its former Editor-in-Chief R Jagannathan described USCIRF as "busybody created by US law to appease evangelical bigots at home."

In March, the Modi government denied visas to a delegation from USCIRF which wanted to "discuss and assess religious freedom conditions" in India.

But this isn't unique to the BJP leadership. The USCIRF was also denied visas by the Indian government in 2009, when the Congress Party-led United Progressive Alliance government was in power at the Centre.

Still, the U.S. didn't take kindly to its representatives being denied visas. A month after the U.S, government expressed its disappointment, Katrina Lantos Swett, a member of the USCIRF delegation, was permitted to attend a conference of Chinese dissidents in Dharamshala, last week.

But Swett said that she had traveled as a representative of Lantos Foundation on Human Right, and not for the USCIRF.

While the USCIRF episode garnered a lot of attention, a visit from another American institution, funded by the U.S. Congress, went unnoticed.

The Economic Times reported today that U.S. Institute of Peace, organized a meeting between young people from 14 conflict-ridden countries and the Dalai Lama in Dharamshala, last week.

huffingtonpost.in/2016/05/03/uscirf-religion_n_9826026.html

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JuD chief rejects charges of promoting extremism in Thar

May/03/2016

BADIN: The chief of banned Jamaatud Dawa, Hafiz Saeed, has rejected allegations that his organisation is promoting extremism in Thar by opening seminaries in the poverty stricken arid regin.

Mr Saeed said at Nazriya-i-Pakistan Council in Matli on Monday that it was Muslims’ responsibility to safeguard holy places of their Hindus brethern. “We will not allow destruction of temples and other holy places of non-Muslims in the country,” he warned. He said that his support for Kashmiri Muslims was unwavering. “We were and are with Kashmiris.” The federal government was not taking the looming threat from RAW seriously, which was a matter of great concern for every patriot, he said.

He said the law enforcement agencies were sincerely trying to fight against anti-state actors and RAW agents but the government remained silent over it.

He said that the charity wing of his organisation was getting love from people of drought-hit Thar because it was serving them selflessly in their difficult times.

He rejected allegations that JuD was promoting extremism in Thar by opening seminaries.

HYDERABAD: The United States is promoting organisations like Daesh to defame and distort Islam, said Mr Saeed at the inauguration ceremony for Al Baseera Deen and Science College at Hala Naka.

He said that India was using RAW to destabilise Pakistan. The UN kept mum over bombing in Syria in which innocent men, women and children were being maimed on a daily basis, he said.

He said that he was committed to promoting harmony among different sections of society and said Pakistan’s integrity was linked with unity.

dawn.com/news/1255935/jud-chief-rejects-charges-of-promoting-extremism-in-thar

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Arab World

Syrian Army Turns Raqqa Districts into Hell for ISIL Terrorists

May 03, 2016

TEHRAN (FNA)- The Syrian Air Force targeted the positions and bases of the ISIL in different districts and neighborhoods of the capital of the group's self-proclaimed Caliphate, inflicting major losses on the terrorist group's military hardware.

The Syrian Army's aircraft carried out several combat flights over the ISIL strongholds in al-Ferousiyeh base, nearby areas of power station, al-Ferdows neighborhood, court building, al-Rmeileh neighborhood, al-Swameh region and railway in the Northern part of Raqqa, which ended in the killing and wounding of tens of the terrorists and destroyed their military equipment and bases' infrastructures.

Reports said earlier this week that the ISIL terrorist group used special tents in the streets of the city of Raqqa in Northeastern Syria to camouflage its military vehicles and militants against the Syrian and the Russian airstrikes.

The move by the Takfiri terrorist group comes as the Syrian and Russian air forces have recently intensified their raids on ISIL strongholds.

Reports said on Monday that the ISIL continued its mass killing of civilians in Raqqa, specially after the Takfiri terrorist group's defeat and withdrawal from the ancient city of Palmyra (Tadmur) in Homs province.

Last Friday, the Takfiri terrorist group executed a young Syrian in the Tal Abyadh district for cooperating with the government troops.

On Saturday, the ISIL also beheaded two 15-year-old youngsters in Raqqa city.

Also on Monday, the Takfiri terrorist group brutally decapitated four young people and released the photos of their beheading ceremony.

The ISIL executed over 30 civilians on spying charges in Raqqa city in the past month.

On Thursday, reports citing eye-witnesses said that the ISIL terrorist group publicly crucified two young men in Raqqa city.

Informed sources reported, citing witnesses in Raqqa that the ISIL terrorists forced the local residents to gather on the square, where the execution of the two accused of cooperating with the anti-ISIL forces was held, and observe the process.

en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13950214001012

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Infightings Kill, Wound Scores of Terrorists East, Northeast of Damascus

May 03, 2016

TEHRAN (FNA)- At least 73 fighters were killed and many more were wounded in non-stop clashes among rival terrorist groups in Eastern Ghouta.

Heavy infighting of Faylaq al-Raham and Jeish al-Festat with their rival terrorist group of Jeish al-Islam in the Eastern part of Damascus left at least 73 dead.

In the meantime, the ISIL clashed with its rivals near the mountains of al-Fai, al-Zab'at and Qalamoun in the Northeastern part of Damascus province, which forced the ISIL to pull its forces back from its positions.

Tens of terrorists from both sides were killed and injured in the clashes.

Sources said earlier this week that several terrorists were killed or wounded in clashes between the rival groups of ISIL and al-Nusra Front in the Palestinian Yarmouk refugee camp in the Southern part of the capital.

"The ISIL reportedly struck al-Nusra’s positions at Ja’ouneh Street, Haifa Street, and the Palestine Roundabout, the last remaining areas under al-Nusra’s control," the sources said.

"In the meantime, the ISIL attempted to infiltrate into Port Said Street in the al-Qadam district, but they were beaten back by the Syrian Armed Forces before they could succeed," they added.

en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13950214000952

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The UAE may build a mountain to make it rain

May 02, 2016

The United Arab Emirates is certainly no stranger to ambitious mega-projects. Just take a look at the towering Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world, or the Palm Jumeirah, the artificial archipelago in the shape of a palm tree that juts out into the sea near Dubai.

Even by the UAE’s standards, however, building a mountain would stand out as an ambitious plan. And perhaps what’s so remarkable about this plan is that despite its audacity, it would serve a sadly utilitarian purpose: to bring rain.

According to the Dubai-based publication Arabian Business, the UAE is in the early stages of evaluating how a man-made mountain could help maximize rainfall in the country, consulting with experts from the U.S.-based National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) to study the idea. “What we are looking at is basically evaluating the effects on weather through the type of mountain, how high it should be and how the slopes should be,” Roelof Bruintjes of NCAR told Arabian Business. “We will have a report of the first phase this summer as an initial step.”

Mountains are important to rainfall. As moist air reaches a mountain it is forced to rise, cooling it. The air may then condense and turn to liquid, which can then fall as rain. This generally means that rainfall will occur on the mountain’s area that faces the wind while the other side of the mountain will be drier.

Rain is a big issue in the UAE. Generally, it rains only a handful of days each year, and during the summer, when temperatures can reach 110 degrees Fahrenheit, there is often little or no rainfall at all. Most years the total annual rainfall doesn't break five inches — in comparison, Washington gets almost 40 inches a year.

That can create a serious water security problem in places such as Dubai, designed to be an international destination for both work and play, and in rural areas where many farmers still rely on flood irrigation systems. Growing water consumption has already made UAE residents among the biggest per-capita consumers around the world, despite government attempts to restrict some water use.

In response to this, for the past few years, there has been a campaign across the country to create more rainfall through artificially seeded clouds. Arabian Business recently reported that around $558,000 has been spent on 186 cloud seeding missions across the UAE last year, and the UAE Research Program for Rain Enhancement Science recently announced a $5 million research grant for teams studying the technology. So far, the campaign seems to have worked, with higher levels of rainfall than predicted. However, perhaps not everything has gone completely according to plan: A record rainfall in March, partially attributed to cloud seeding, included over 11 inches falling in less than 24 hours. That rainfall also created chaos in the country, with the heavy rains and winds resulting in flooding and canceled flights.

Cloud seeding isn’t the only idea being pursued: The country has created a number of huge desalination plants to create fresh water from seawater. More ambitious (or, perhaps, unrealistic) ideas debated include a pipeline from Pakistan and icebergs floated down from the Arctic.

Mountains can have a major effect on rainfall and could, in theory, at least be used to trap rainfall in a certain area. While the UAE does have some mountains in the far northern part of the country, only a small percentage of the population lives there. Therefore, the idea of building a mountain certainly sounds appealing, though it would probably be dependent on cost: One proposal to build a 1.2-mile-high mountain in the notoriously flat Netherlands was found to be feasible if the mountain were hollow. Estimates for the cost went as high as $230 billion.

The UAE has spent $400,000 investigating the idea. Speaking to Arabian Business, NCAR’s Bruintjes acknowledged that the eventual cost of the project may be too much for the UAE.

“Building a mountain is not a simple thing,” he said.

washingtonpost.com/news/worldviews/wp/2016/05/02/the-uae-may-build-a-mountain-to-make-it-rain/?wpmm=1&wpisrc=nl_wv

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Al-Nusra Front Terrorists Launch 60 Missiles on Aleppo

May 03, 2016

TEHRAN (FNA)- Al-Nusra Front militants have launched 60 missiles on Syria's Aleppo, killing 9 people and 45 injuring civilians, military sources said on Tuesday.

The al-Nusra Front terrorist group has launched 60 missiles in an attack on the Syrian city of Aleppo over the past hour, killing nine people, an Aleppo militia source told Sputnik on Tuesday.

"Al-Nusra Front fighters and their allies have launched 60 missiles on Aleppo in the past hour. Tishrin, Masakeen, Al-Sabil and Al-Nil streets have sustained the most damage. Nine civilians have been killed and 45 have been injured," the source said.

The militants began by firing at Christian areas in the city, the source said, adding that the missiles were launched from the Bani Zeid, Kafr Hamrah and Bustan al-Basha districts.

The al-Nusra Front, which an extremist organization not included by the Syrian ceasefire agreement and outlawed in many countries, including Russia, has in recent days been increasingly active around Aleppo and in the Latakia province.   

en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13950214000668

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ISIL Attacks on Oil Wells Repulsed by Syrian Army East of Homs

May 03, 2016

TEHRAN (FNA)- The Syrian Army and popular forces' strong defense did not allow the al-Nusra Front terrorists to approach the oil-rich regions in the Eastern part of Homs province, forcing them to retreat from the battlefield.

The Syrian Army and the National Defense Forces repelled large-scale offensives of the ISIL on the army-controlled oil and gas fields of al-Sha'er, which ended in the killing of at least 14 militant and wounding of many more.

The ISIL tried to explode the oil wells in al-Sha'er field but the army soldiers targeted the entire suicide attackers.

Reports said on Monday that the Syrian Army and the National Defense Forces continued to push the ISIL back from more lands near the ancient city of Palmyra (Tadmur) and restored security to vast plains near the newly-liberated mountains there.

The Syrian government forces, in hours of non-stop battle, forced the ISIL terrorists to retreat from the Southern plains of Jabal (mountain) al-Mketa'a and the plateau in the Western side of Antar mountain.

The ISIL left behind scores of the dead and wounded members and fled the battlefield.

en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13950214000720

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Syrian Army Hits Terrorists' Gatherings Hard in Southern City of Dara'a

May 03, 2016

TEHRAN (FNA)- The Syrian military forces pushed back an al-Nusra Front attack in the Southern districts of Dara'a, and drove them back under the heavy fire of their machineguns.

The terrorists of al-Qaeda-affiliated al-Nusra Front stormed the government forces' strongholds near Bilal al-Habashi mosque towards one of checkpoints of the army in Dara'a al-Balad, but the strong defense of the Syrian soldiers did not allow the terrorists to gain any military advantage in battlefield.

Al-Nusra left behind tens of the dead or wounded members and fled the battlefront to evade more casualties.

Reports said on Monday that the Syrian Army troops engaged in fierce clashes with a group of terrorists near a road connecting the village of Smad with the city of Busra al-Sham, which ended in the killing of all terrorists and destruction of their weapons and ammunition.

en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13950214000449

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Islamic State Eradicating Afghan Poppy Crops

May 02, 2016

The United States and the West have long targeted Afghan opium and heroin production. Now the industry has a new enemy: Islamic State (IS).

Afghan opium farmers in areas under IS control told VOA's Afghan service that IS has started eradicating poppy crops in eastern parts of the country.

IS has reportedly destroyed opium plants used for heroin production in Nangarhar's Achin and Dehbala districts and has warned farmers to find another cash crop.

IS "eradicated our poppy crop because they say it is illegal," said Nawab, a local farmer who goes by his first name only. "I had a one-hectare well-grown poppy field. I did not grow wheat, and now I lost the poppy as well."

Mohammad Naeem, an Achin resident, told VOA that IS militants destroyed poppy fields in the district and arrested a number of local people for growing poppy.

"They say this plant is Haram [prohibited in Islam] … people had cultivated poppy in a few villages but it has been destroyed," Naeem said.

Afghan eradication efforts

The Afghan government has not confirmed the reports. However, a spokesperson for the Nangarhar governor said poppy plants have been cultivated for decades in some remote areas once controlled by the Taliban insurgent group, but now under IS rule.

Afghanistan is responsible for more that 90 percent of the world's heroin, worth an estimated $3 billion a year, according to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. Analysts say the Taliban netted some 30 percent of its annual revenue from the drug trade.

The Afghan government last week kicked off its poppy eradication campaign in Nangarhar. With Western aid and expertise, the Afghan government has been trying to eradicate opium crops and help farmers turn to alternative farming.

Poppy fields in Surkhrud and Behsud districts are located within six miles of the provincial capital city of Jalalabad.

"We do not have an accurate survey about the size of poppy cultivated this year, but poppy eradication has started in the Surkhrud district," Idress Safi, the head of the poppy eradication campaign in Nangarhar, told VOA.

But Nawab said the government will not help growers in areas under IS control.

"The government so far has done nothing," said Nawab, who lost this year's opium production income.

voanews.com/content/islamic-state-eradicating-afghan-poppy-crops/3312108.html

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US Redeploys Military Forces in Yemen

May 03, 2016

TEHRAN (FNA)- US has redeployed its special forces in Yemen to fight alongside the Saudi-backed troops in alleged campaign against al-Qaeda terrorists in the Southern parts of the war-torn country, Yemeni officials said.

An informed Yemeni official said that the troops had arrived in Yemen on April 25.

After one year of Saudi Arabia and the UAE's financial and arms aid to the al-Qaeda and the ISIL terrorists, Abu Dhabi has called on the US to cooperate in the alleged fight against the terrorist groups, the official added.

The UAE itself has retreated troops and equipment from the war on the popular forces in Yemen, although it has kept a small part of its mercenary army to allegedly fight against the ISIL and Al-Qaeda. The UAE had originally sent troops to Yemen to fight the Ansarullah popular shiite movement under the umbrella of the Saudi-led coalition.

US redeployment of troops comes a year after the withdrawal of its forces from Yemen.

On March 21, 2015, the US evacuated its remaining forces out of al-Anad airbase in Southern Yemen “due to the deteriorating security situation” a day after al-Qaeda captured the nearby city of al-Houta.

Al-Qaeda has become stronger in Yemen taking advantage of the chaos created by the Saudi military attacks against the Yemeni people over a year ago.

Saudi Arabia has been waging a war on Yemen since late March 2015 in a bid to reinstate fugitive president Mansour Hadi and undermine the Ansarullah movement, which took over state matters after Hadi resigned.

Over 9,600 Yemenis, including 4,000 women and children, have lost their lives in the deadly military campaign.

Yemenis, in return, have been carrying out retaliatory attacks on the pro-Saudi forces deployed in the country as well as targets inside Saudi Arabia.

en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13950214000415

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Iranian FM: ISIL, Al-Nusra Front Weakening Truce in Syria

May 03, 2016

TEHRAN (FNA)- Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif condemned the terrorist groups, specially the ISIL and al-Nusra Front, for undermining efforts to keep ceasefire in Syria in place.

"Sensitive events are happening in Iraq and Syria. A humanitarian aid system has been established in Syria but now the main issue is the problems created by the evil measures of extremist groups, including the ISIL and al-Nusra Front, which violate the truce through their extremist approaches against the international agreements," Zarif said in a meeting with France's Secretary General for Foreign Affairs Christian Masse in Tehran on Monday.

He said that certain countries are also weakening the ceasefire through continued financial aid and equipping the terrorist groups.

Masse, for his part, stressed Iran's important role in regional developments, and said, "We permanently need to consult with the Islamic Republic of Iran."

In relevant remarks in April, Iranian Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani in a meeting with Russian State Duma Speaker Sergey Yevgenyevich Naryshkin warned that the enemies of the Syrian nation are misusing the truce in the country to equip the terrorists with weapons.

"Given the behavior of the terrorists, the regional conditions are messy and disorganized, but we consider Russia's role in the establishment of sustainable tranquility and security in the region positive and therefore, we cooperate with Russia in regional issues," Larijani said during the meeting in Russia on the sidelines of a meeting of parliament speakers of the Eurasia region.

"We should have close consultations in the political arena (too) so that the opposition doesn’t misuse the situation; the opposition is using the ceasefire atmosphere and are arming the terrorists," he added.

Naryshkin, for his part, hailed Iran's role in the war against terrorism, and underlined that Russia will also continue its fight against the ISIL, al-Nusra Front and other terrorist groups to the end.

en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13950214000375

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Defense Ministry Spokesman: ISIL Facing Collapse in Iraq

May 03, 2016

TEHRAN (FNA)- Senior Iraqi military officials disclosed that the ISIL is on the verge of a complete fall as it has lost a majority of its senior commanders and strongholds in tough battle with government troops.

"The ISIL has lost most of its senior commanders in the ongoing fight with the Iraqi army in the Southern part of Mosul," Iraqi Defense Ministry Spokesman Brigadier General Yahya Rasoul said on Tuesday.

He said that the ISIL's latest major defeat was on a road linking Heet to al-Baghdadi region that took place with the support of the Syrian air force and engineering units.

"The ISIL has also lost its important strongholds in Northern Iraq," General Rasoul added.

He pointed to seizing back Heet and Mahaneh from the ISIL, and said by winning back these important regions that were under ISIL's control, the ISIL's dreams to set up an Islamic state in Iraq and Syria in order to take people back to centuries ago and massacre the women faded away.

In a relevant development in mid-April, the Iraqi Army aircraft dropped leaflets over Mosul to inform city residents that the country's armed forces are preparing to liberate the city soon.

"The Iraqi security forces are very close to you," the leaflets read.

The Mosul residents have also been urged to cooperate with the Iraqi army to help them seize back the city from the ISIL terrorist group.

Also in April, Arab media outlets reported that the ISIL terrorist commanders had fled Mosul to Syria, taking large amount of money and properties with themselves.

Sheikh Osama, ISIL's operations commander near Mosul dam, has escaped to Syria with a large amount of cash.

ISIL's trade office manager known as Abu Hazem who had access to huge amount of cash has also fled Mosul city.

Two other ISIL commanders named Abu Omar and Abu Hajar have also escaped from Mosul.

Also in early March, a senior lawmaker disclosed that the ISIL terrorists were escaping from the city of Mosul to the Syrian borders after the Iraqi forces' joint operations in Anbar and Salahuddin provinces and as the country's armed forces were preparing to attack Mosul.

"The military operations of Iraq's joint armed forces in Anbar province and Western part of Salahuddin have caused the withdrawal of the ISIL from Mosul in Nineveh province and the terrorists fleeing toward the Syrian borders," Ahmad Al-Jabouri told FNA.

The Iraqi lawmaker reiterated that the ISIL has lost swathes of lands due to the recent military operations of the Iraqi forces in the Western provinces of Iraq.

en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13950214000799

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ISIL Wins More Battles against Rival Terrorists North of Syria's Aleppo

May 03, 2016

TEHRAN (FNA)- The ISIL has intensified a new wave of attacks on the positions of its rival militants, a field commander of the terrorist groups said on Tuesday, adding that the ISIL has captured several villages near the border with Turkey.

"Three bomb-laden cars of the ISIL stormed the strongholds of Faylaq al-Sham and Faylaq al-Sultan Murad near the two small towns of Doudyan and Tal Sho'eir, which ended in the killing of tens of the defenders and forced the remaining pockets of the militants to retreat from the towns," Saleh al-Zein said.

"The ISIL continued its attacks on its rival groups' strongholds near the town of Akdeh, and exploded one of its suicide cars, which claimed the lives of four defenders," he further added.

"The ISIL is resolved to retake control over the entire border villages its rivals captured in the Northern part of Aleppo in the recent months," al-Zein went on to say.

In relevant developments on Monday, the Free Syrian Army (FSA) stormed the strongholds of its strong rival, the ISIL terrorist group, and forced them to retreat from more regions in the Northern part of Aleppo province near the border with Turkey.

The ISIL left behind scores of dead and injured members and fled the battlefield as the FSA seized back Tal Ahmar, Shabaniya, Sandura and Raghabiya villages near the Turkish border.  

en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13950214000815

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Iran Slams Terrorists for Violating Ceasefire in Syria

May 03, 2016

TEHRAN (FNA)- Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian blasted the Takfiri terrorist groups for numerous instances of ceasefire violations in Syria.

"Certain countries have provoked the terrorist groups to violate ceasefire in Syria," Amir Abdollahian said in a meeting with Secretary General of French Foreign Ministry Christian Masset in Tehran on Monday.

He underlined that Iran has always supported political solution and dispatch of humanitarian aid to the country.

Masset, for his part, called for the resumption of Syria peace talks, and said, "Tehran and Paris share similar points of view towards the resolution of the Syrian crisis."

He reiterated that Iran and France believe in fighting terrorism, supporting democracy and allowing the Syrian people themselves to decide about their future.

In a relevant development on Sunday, the Russian Defense Ministry said in a bulletin posted on its website that the number of ceasefire accords with armed groups in Syria has risen to 83, as terrorists, specially in Northern Syria, continue their attacks on civilians.

"During past 24 hours, representatives of three regions, one in the province of Homs and two regions in Aleppo, signed with ceasefire agreements in Syria," the Russian Defense Ministry said.

Ceasefire in Syria has been generally observed, with limited violations reported in the past days, however, as observers say, the terrorists affiliated with Al-Nusra Front and ISIL who are not included in the current ceasefire have been conducting once-in-a-while armed attacks and bombings against the Syrian Army as well as civilians.

In most recent attacks against civilians, sixteen people were killed and scores of others, most of them children and women, were injured due to rocket attacks on the residential neighborhoods of Aleppo city by the terrorists of Nusra Front and other armed groups affiliated to the terrorist organization.

en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13950214000694

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Senior Foreign Policy Official: West's Support for Terrorists in Syria Meant to Overshadow Palestinian Cause

May 03, 2016

TEHRAN (FNA)- Head of Iran's Strategic Foreign Relations Council Seyed Kamal Kharrazi underlined that the western countries supported the Takfiri terrorists in Syria to distract the world attention from Israel's real threat to the region and the regime's atrocities against the Palestinians.

"Syrian crisis was planned to make the Muslim World forget the Palestinian issue," Kharrazi said in a meeting with Head of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad Movement Ramadan Abdullah in Tehran on Monday.

He reiterated that the Syrian crisis was planned by Israel, the US and their regional allies, and said, "The Syrian crisis was aimed at weakening the axis of resistance."

Abdullah, for his part, said that Iran is the only advocate of the Palestinian nation.

"The Palestinian nation's resistance will continue until liberation of the occupied lands," Kharrazi added.

He underlined that "unfortunately" the Palestinian issue is not on Arab states' agenda and they label Iran as their enemy instead of Israel.

In a relevant development on Sunday, Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei in a meeting with the Secretary-General of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad movement, and his accompanying delegation, offered a comprehensive analysis of ongoing developments in the region, saying that the West, led by the United States, is actually making an effort to dominate the region through a large-scale and extensive war with the Islamic front.

Ayatollah Khamenei noted, “The large-scale war under way today in the region is the continuation of a war that started 37 years ago against the Islamic Republic of Iran and in this confrontation, the issue of Palestine is the main and pivotal issue, and just in the same way that the Islamic Republic of Iran considered supporting Palestine as its duty from the beginning, it will continue to fulfill this duty in the future as well.”

The Leader of the Islamic Revolution emphasized that the Islamic Republic of Iran’s position on the issue of Palestine has not been and is not limited to any specific period of time, adding, “Since before the victory [in 1979] of the Islamic Revolution and during [anti-Shah] struggles, the issue of supporting Palestine and the necessity of countering the Zionist regime [of Israel] were constantly highlighted in the positions [taken] by [the late] Imam Khomeini, and after the victory of the Islamic Revolution, supporting the Palestinian people was again among our top priorities. Therefore, defending the Palestinian cause is naturally enshrined in the nature of the Islamic Republic of Iran.”

“The Islamic Revolution achieved victory under conditions that the Americans were at the zenith of their power in the region and all affairs were apparently in the interest of America, but the Islamic Revolution breathed fresh life into the corpus of the Islamic society and completely changed the conditions in the region,” said Ayatollah Khamenei.

Noting that extensive political, propaganda and even military pressures have been exerted to bring the Islamic Revolution to its knees or force the Islamic establishment to back down from its positions, the Leader of the Islamic Revolution noted, “What is going on today in the region is in fact the continuation of America’s confrontation with the Islamic establishment of Iran.”

The Leader of the Islamic Revolution said the main objective behind the ongoing extensive war waged by the West, led by the United States, against the Islamic front is to dominate the region, adding, “The [ongoing] developments in the region must be studied and analyzed from this viewpoint, and within this framework, the issues of Syria, Iraq, Lebanon and Hezbollah are part of this large-scale confrontation.”

Stressing that under such circumstances, “defending Palestine symbolizes defending Islam,” Ayatollah Khamenei added, “The Arrogance front is making massive efforts to introduce this confrontation as a ‘war between Shia and Sunni’.”

Referring to the fact that in Syria, the government in power is not a Shia government, Ayatollah Khamenei said, “But the Islamic Republic supports the Syrian government because those standing against Syria are in fact hostile to Islam in principle and are serving the interests of America and the Zionist regime.”

The Leader of the Islamic Revolution said confrontation between Shias and Sunnis is a colonialist and American plot, emphasizing, “The most important issue under the present circumstances in the region is to achieve a correct understanding of the main two fronts engaged in this large-scale conflict and correctly know our position, because if the distance between the two fronts is not known correctly, we may inadvertently stand against the Islamic front.”

Stressing that based on such an overarching view of regional issues, the Islamic Republic of Iran considers the United States as its main enemy and the Zionist regime of Israel as its backup, Ayatollah Khamenei said, “Iran always considers defending the issue of Palestine as its duty and will continue to fulfill this duty.”

The Leader referred to the extensive and unprecedented sanctions imposed by the United States and its followers against the Islamic establishment in Iran during recent years, saying, “The main goal behind these sanctions is to dissuade the Islamic Republic of Iran from the path it has taken, but they have failed to realize their goals, and they will not achieve their [desired] result in the future either.”

“Based on divine promises, we believe that we will emerge winner from this extensive confrontation and we have been victorious so far, because the enemies were seeking to annihilate the Islamic Republic, but now not only does the Islamic establishment continue to exist, but has been also making progress in different sectors and taken deeper root on a daily basis,” said Ayatollah Khamenei.

The Leader of the Islamic Revolution then referred to the remarks made by the secretary general of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad movement about efforts made to ratchet up pressure on Lebanon’s Hezbollah, saying, “Lebanon’s Hezbollah is too strong to be harmed by such actions and today, the Zionist regime is far more terrified and scared of Hezbollah than ever before.”

Stressing that the divine tradition promises the victory of the Front of Truth, the Leader of the Islamic Revolution said, “This victory is definitive despite ups and downs, and twists and turns, but the divine promise for those assisting the religion of God is unbreakable.”

en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13950214000469

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Sweida: Entire Members of Terrorist Group Killed in Clashes with Syrian Army

May 03, 2016

TEHRAN (FNA)- The entire members of a group of ISIL terrorists were killed in the Syrian Army troops' surprise attack in the Northeastern part of Sweida province, military sources said Tuesday.

"The Syrian soldiers surrounded a group of the ISIL terrorists in the Northeastern part of the province moving towards al-Ghabeb valley and opened fire at them, which ended in the killing of the entire members of the group," the sources said.

"The ISIL gatherings and concentration centers near the village of Khirbet Sa'ad were massively shelled by the Syrian army's artillery units," the sources said, adding, "The heavy artillery shelling claimed the lives of several militants and destroyed their machinegun-equipped vehicles."

In relevant developments in the Southern province on Monday, the ISIL terrorist group suffered a heavy death toll and its military equipment sustained major damage in the Syrian military forces' offensives Northeast of Sweida province.

The Syrian soldiers stormed the ISIL positions near the small town of al-Qaser, which not only claimed the lives of several militants but destroyed their military hardware and machinegun-equipped vehicles in large scale.

en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13950214000393

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Mideast

Islamic State isn’t the only one calling for a caliphate in Turkey

May/03/2016

Ismail Kahraman, the speaker of the Turkish parliament, caused an uproar April 25 by suggesting that the principle of secularism be stricken from the new constitution. Secularism has been a thorny subject in Turkey since March 3, 1924, when the Ottoman caliphate was abolished. As scholars observe a rising trend of Islamophobia, there is simultaneously growing interest in the idea of a caliphate in Turkey.

The international Islamist group Hizb ut-Tahrir, established decades prior to the Islamic State (IS) in 1953, emerged with the ultimate goal of resuscitating the caliphate. With a small yet growing group of dedicated followers, Hizb ut-Tahrir’s Wilayat Turkiye has been quite active in organizing rallies, conferences and seminars for the past year.

In April, the group ran a weeklong social media campaign called “Oust colonialists, end terror.” On April 22, it held a conference on “The Issue of Terror, Real Culprits and Lasting Solution” at which five speakers discussed why Muslim-majority countries are facing an increasing number of conflicts, why terror attacks have skyrocketed in Turkey, who the real culprits are behind them as well as what Muslims can and should do about these problems. The answers were clear and straightforward. Hizb ut-Tahrir members said that colonial powers in Turkey were those supporting and generating terror. Therefore, to end terror attacks, they proposed that the US and British embassies be permanently closed and all their personnel expelled. Hizb ut-Tahrir sent letters to the embassies directly asking them to leave Turkey.

Hizb ut-Tahrir is not shy about criticizing the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP). Although Hizb ut-Tahrir appreciates the leadership role President Recep Tayyip Erdogan plays in defense of the rights of Muslims, the group finds it insufficient and ineffective. In Hizb ut-Tahrir's video presentation about Western countries supporting terror in Turkey, the photos in the background were poignant: First Erdogan’s picture would appear with words asking the West, “Are you with us or with the PYD?” in reference to the Democratic Union Party, a Syrian Kurdish group. Then Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu’s photo would appear with his statement, “Just because we think differently on the PYD, we cannot quarrel with the United States.”

Hizb ut-Tahrir’s activities have generated not only an increasing number of supporters but also angry critics. On March 10, civil society organizations in support of secular values lodged an official complaint with the public prosecutor against Hizb ut-Tahrir’s seminars. On social media, several comments appeared asking how a terror organization can hold conferences in the center of Ankara. Some seasoned pundits have stated that Hizb ut-Tahrir’s conferences in Turkey are an indication of Turkish support for jihadis and IS. But is this really the case?

Mahmut Kar, the media bureau chief for Hizb ut-Tahrir Turkey, told Al-Monitor, “One must question why a group that is proposing concrete and strong solutions to the terror problem of the country, a group whose members do not even carry a Swiss army knife, is charged with terrorism.”

Hizb ut-Tahrir holds seminars and conferences to reach out to other groups. The party is open to discussion and always eager to take questions from the domestic or foreign press. It is quite telling to see that deep rifts within Turkish society prevent secular analysts from approaching Hizb ut-Tahrir and speaking with it directly. Also of note, Hizb ut-Tahrir members almost always appear in designer suits, sometimes wearing ties, with well-groomed beards. Though women occupy a separate section in their audiences, Hizb ut-Tahrir does not require the full face veil. Women form an active part of the organization.

Kar was straightforward. “Hizb ut-Tahrir condemns any attacks on civilians anywhere; it is not acceptable to Islam. We submitted letters to the US and British embassies in Ankara because we believe these two are the countries that support terrorism and themselves devour terrorism. We also acknowledge that from time to time, the Turkish state itself feeds upon terrorism for domestic policy goals. We observe that the Turkish leaders have been followers of the UK and currently the US governments. Cutting diplomatic, economic and political links with these countries may be against realpolitik. But then we must remember that realpolitik means to accept the conditions that you have. Then we go in vicious cycles. If you act according to realpolitik, how do you end terror?”

For Hizb ut-Tahrir, which is critical of nationalism and colonialism, the answer is the reinstatement of the caliphate. The group is critical of the brutal methods of IS as attempts to tarnish the concept of the caliphate and view the group as a US project. It has repeatedly condemned IS attacks. Kar told Al-Monitor that in contemporary Turkey, the caliphate is widely discussed for two reasons: IS brutality and the fact that Muslim populations lack a leader. The argument, for many, is over whether Erdogan’s executive presidency is enough or a caliphate is needed for Islamic unity. Hence in early March, Hizb ut-Tahrir’s seminars in Istanbul and Ankara did not question the reasons for a caliphate, but discussed the kind of caliphate that would be best for believers.

Kar said, “In March, we gathered more than 5,000 participants who attended the seminar with a yearning for the caliphate. This burning desire for Muslims to live under the rule of the caliphate was always there, but from time to time it was suppressed by foreign demands such as democracy. Today Muslims in the region, including Turkey, see that promises of democracy have failed them and it is not the way for them. Hizb ut-Tahrir never lied to the Muslims about these truths.” Kar also observed, “In Turkey, politics fails to provide solutions to the problems.” Indeed, this view is common to different religious groups and civil society organizations in Turkey.

So while anti-AKP groups are fighting each other over whether the AKP can be trusted with sustaining a secular system in the new constitution, multiple Islamist groups are flourishing all over Turkey. To brand all groups with black flags and Arabic script as terrorist and to criticize each Islamist group without bothering to understand their individual demands may not be the most effective method to sustain a secular system in Turkey.

al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2016/05/turkey-hizbut-tahrir-isis-alternative-caliphate.html#

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Shocking scale of Turkey's Islamist terror threat facing British tourists

Tue, May 3, 2016

Officials in Ankara revealed they have thwarted an astonishing 85 terror attacks - including defusing LIVE bombs - since the turn of the year alone.

A popular tourist spot, more than 2,500,000 British nationals visit Turkey every year for the sun, sea and exotic markets.

But holidaymakers could be putting themselves at risk of serious injury or even death as a wave of terror attacks continues to spread across the country.

Most of the attacks are linked to separatist Kurdish groups, although some have been claimed by Islamic State (ISIS) jihadis.

Today the country's government confirmed it prevented 85 "major incidents" since January - a day after the sixth suicide bombing in a Turkish city this year.

At a briefing in the capital Ankara, Deputy prime minister Numan Kurtulmus told reporters: "We are making great efforts in the struggle against terror.

"We have prevented 85 major incidents since January. Forty-nine of those included live bombs."

The country has been hit by a series of suicide bombings this year, including two in its largest city Istanbul blamed on ISIS, and two in the capital Ankara which were claimed by a Kurdish militant group.

It has also faced attacks from far leftist groups, mostly on police and security forces.

Last week, a suicide bomber - believed to be a member of the Kurdistan Freedom Hawks - blew herself up near the main mosque in the northwestern city of Bursa, injuring eight people.

On Sunday, two police officers were killed and 22 people wounded by a suicide car bomb in the southeastern city of Gaziantep.

While today, one person was killed and some were wounded when two rockets fired from ISIS-controlled Syria landed near a school and in a street in the Turkish border town of Kilis.

Turkey has repeatedly fired back at jihadi positions under its rules of engagement

But the state has said it needs more support from its Western allies, such as Britain, citing the difficult task of hitting moving targets.

Last week foreign minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said the United States had pledged to deploy a rocket launcher system near the stretch of border that has come under attack.

A senior US military official said the matter was under discussion but declined to comment further.

One worrying factor for tourists is that Turkish borders are the first port of call for fighters hoping to enter Syria and join ISIS troops.

Many if not most, of the estimated 15,000-20,000 foreign fighters to have joined the Islamist death cult have first flown into Istanbul or Adana, or arrived by ferry along its Mediterranean coast.

Its military bases have also been used to distribute weapons and to train rebel fighters.

Meanwhile the country’s government have also faced accusations from Russian’s President Vladimir Putin that they are "accomplices of terrorists".

Putin claims the country have been buying oil from ISIS - something Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan labelled as ‘slander.’

After enjoying decades of the thousands of pounds of extra income that tourism brings in, the country could now see a decline in spare cash.

TravelSupermarket’s Travel Trends Tracker found that Turkey has dropped out of the top ten destinations for Brits to holiday for the first time in years.

Meanwhile Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) advise against all travel to within 10 km of the border with Syria and to the city of Diyarbakir.

Istanbul, which attracts 7.5 million tourists every year, has been listed as a specific potential target by the Foreign Office, which has described the threat of terrorism there as ‘high’.

A statement from the FCO said: "To date most attacks in Turkey have taken place in the south and east of the country and in Ankara and Istanbul.

"Turkish authorities have successfully disrupted attack planning in the recent past.

"The Turkish authorities have said that security has been tightened in response to recent attacks.

"Nevertheless, further attacks are likely, could be indiscriminate and may target or affect places visited by foreigners."

express.co.uk/news/world/666436/REVEALED-Shocking-scale-of-Turkey-terror-attacks-threatening-British-tourists

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Two soldiers killed in PKK attack in Turkey’s southeast

May/03/2016

Two soldiers were killed on late May 2 when outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) militants attacked a military station zone in the Şemdinli district of the southeastern province of Hakkari.

A group of PKK militants attacked the Hapuşt military station zone with long-barreled weapons. Cpl. Muttalip Soylu and Infantryman Ayhan Erdoğan were killed during clashes with the militants.

A wide-scale operation supported by helicopters has begun in the region to apprehend the fleeing PKK militants.

A funeral ceremony was held for the two soldiers in the eastern province of Van on May 3. The soldiers were later sent to their hometowns of Niğde in Central Anatolia and Bartın in the Black Sea to be laid to rest.

hurriyetdailynews.com/two-soldiers-killed-in-pkk-attack-in-turkeys-southeast.aspx?pageID=238&nID=98655&NewsCatID=341

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Six ISIL militants killed after rocket projectiles hit Turkey’s Kilis: Army

May/03/2016

Six militants of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) were killed on May 3 after two rocket projectiles hit the border province of Kilis.

Turkish artillery units responded to the attack by shelling ISIL positions and firing multiple rocket launchers after unmanned aerial vehicles spotted that the rockets came from the Suran region of Syria.

Six ISIL militants were killed and two Katyusha rocket positions were destroyed.

Another two rocket projectiles fired from Syrian territory hit the border province of Kilis on May 3, less than a day after a similar incident killed one and wounded two in the province.

One person was injured when the rocket projectile hit a house in the Ayınönü neighborhood, causing a large fire, state-run Anadolu Agency reported.

hurriyetdailynews.com/six-isil-militants-killed-after-rocket-projectiles-hit-turkeys-kilis-army.aspx?pageID=238&nID=98656&NewsCatID=341

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Prosecutor says spying charges ‘unfounded’ in Cumhuriyet journalists’ trial

May/03/2016

Public prosecutor Evliya Çalışkan has said “espionage” charges against daily Cumhuriyet journalists Can Dündar and Erdem Gül, who are on trial for reporting on Turkish intelligence trucks allegedly transporting weapons to rebel groups in Syria, are “unfounded.”

However, Çalışkan still demanded 25 years in jail for editor-in-chief Dündar and 10 years in jail for Ankara bureau chief Gül for “revealing state secrets,” Cumhuriyet reported.

The prosecutor said requirements for espionage charges according to Supreme Court of Appeals case law have not been fulfilled in the Dündar and Gül case, stating that no evidence existed on the country on whose behalf Dündar and Gül was spying on Turkey. 

Nevertheless, Çalışkan demanded 25 years in jail for Dündar on charges of “being complicit in acquiring and revealing information that should remain secret, either for the security of the state or for the domestic or international benefit of the state.” He also asked for 10 years in prison for Gül for revealing information that should remain secret.

“A corrupt understanding of press freedoms is not in compliance with national or international legal norms or modern state practices,” the prosecutor said, slamming Dündar for neglecting national security, national interest, state secrets and court decisions.

Çalışkan also referred to excerpts from Dündar’s recently published book describing the period before and after the printing of the intel trucks story, “Tutuklandık” (“We are Under Arrest” in Turkish), in which Dündar described the warnings of their lawyer. According to the book, Dündar’s lawyer said revealing state secrets was a crime that requires heavy punishment and serving jail time is “inevitable.”

Çalışkan said this demonstrates that “as opposed to their defense, Can Dündar and Erdem Gül knew they were committing a crime and not pursuing journalistic activities.”

He also stated that it was not possible to rule on charges of “knowingly aiding the armed terror group FETÖ/PDY [Fethullahist Terrorist Organization/Parallel State Structure],” “being complicit in a crime,” and “acquiring and revealing documents with the purposes of espionage” independently of a case in which prosecutors and soldiers are being tried for searching the intelligence agency trucks.

An Istanbul court on April 22 rejected a prosecutor’s demand to merge the aforementioned case with that of the Cumhuriyet journalists.

In the other case, for which the merger demand was made, four prosecutors along with a gendarmerie officer are being tried for their role in stopping the trucks. The suspects in the case, who included former Adana chief public prosecutor Süleyman Bağrıyanık, former Adana gendarmerie commander Staff Col. Özkan Çokay and former prosecutors Aziz Takçı, Özcan Şişman and Ahmet Karaca, are being charged with “attempting to overthrow the state” and “revealing information about the state’s security and political activities” for stopping the trucks for a search on January 2014.

Çalışkan said it was necessary to separate the charges on aiding “FETÖ/PDY” from the current case and wait for the Supreme Court of Appeals’ decision.

hurriyetdailynews.com/prosecutor-says-spying-charges-unfounded-in-cumhuriyet-journalists-trial-.aspx?pageID=238&nID=98663&NewsCatID=339

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Turkey says Gaziantep attacker linked to IS

Tue, May 3, 2016

Ankara, May 3: The perpetrator of a deadly car bombing that hit the Turkish city of Gaziantep near the Syrian border at the weekend is linked to the Islamic State (IS) extremist group, Turkey’s interior minister said today. The bomber “is a member of a terrorist organisation linked to Daesh,” Interior Minister Efkan Ala said in televised remarks, using an alternative name for the jihadist group.

One policeman was killed when the car bomb went off outside the police headquarters in Gaziantep on Sunday morning. Another police officer later died of his wounds. Ala said nearly 50 suspects had been detained in connection with the attack. The announcement will intensify concerns about the risk of jihadist attacks in Turkey, which has already seen tourism fall sharply since the start of the year.

Turkey remains on high security alert after a series of attacks on its soil blamed on Kurdish militants and IS jihadists, who still control territory in Syria right up to the Turkish border. Government spokesman and Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmus told reporters after the weekly cabinet meeting the authorities had thwarted 49 suicide bombings in Turkey so far this year.

A radical Kurdish militant group, Kurdistan Freedom Falcons (TAK), on Sunday claimed a suicide bombing in Turkey’s former Ottoman capital of Bursa last week, saying the female assailant had failed to reach her intended target. Ala said that the bomber was a member of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) which has waged a three-decade insurgency against the Turkish state. The TAK is usually seen as a splinter group of the PKK.

A member of international coalition against IS group, Turkey has taken more robust action against IS jihadists since last summer.

The Turkish border town of Kilis has come under rocket fire from IS-controlled territory in recent weeks, prompting the army to respond with artillery fire. In the latest strikes on Kilis on Monday, one person was killed and two wounded when Katyusha-type rockets hit an inhabited area in the town, the Dogan news agency reported.

india.com/news/world/turkey-says-gaziantep-attacker-linked-to-is-1154573/

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South Asia

Taliban must renounce violence if ‘considering they are sons of Afghanistan’

Tue May 03 2016

The former Afghan President Hamid Karzai has called on Taliban to renounce violence and join hands with the other countrymen in rebuilding the country if ‘they consider themselves sons of Afghanistan’.

In a statement released following a series of deadly attacks across the country since the group announced its spring offensive, Karzai said the war has been imposed on the Afghan nation and has roots outside the country.

Karzai further added that the main organizers of the war are living outside the country with full immunity and are plotting attacks to kill the Afghan people.

He did not elaborate further regarding the roots of Afghan war which falls outside the country but the Afghan officials have long been criticizing Pakistan for allowing the Afghan anti-government armed militants to use their soil as sanctuaries for conducting attacks in Afghanistan.

The Taliban group leadership as well as the notorious Haqqani terrorist network are openly operating in Pakistan by establishing councils in Peshawar and Quetta cities.

President Ghani earlier asked Pakistan to take actions against the Taliban group leaderships based in Peshawar and Quetta cities of Pakistan.

He made the call during a gathering in capital Kabul following the deadly attack, specifying the government’s stance towards the peace process and fight against the militant groups.

He warned to take the issue to the international organizations including the UN Security Council if Pakistan failed to take any action against the group in its soil.

khaama.com/karzai-taliban-must-renounce-violence-if-considering-they-are-sons-of-afghanistan-0824

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Taliban shadow governor Haji Lala killed with his 43 fighter in Kandahar

May 02 2016

Taliban shadow governor for southern Kandahar province has been killed along with his 43 fighters during an operation of the Afghan security forces.

The Ministry of Interior (MoI) said Hayat also famous as Haji Lala was killed during a special military raid of the Afghan National Army and Afghan National Police forces.

A statement by MoI said his deputy identified as Ahmad Shah Hemat was also killed along with 43 fighters during the raid conducted in Kata Sang area of Shahwali Kot district.

The Afghan forces also confiscated some weapons and ammunition following the special military operation, MoI added.

The Taliban militants group has not commented regarding the report so far.

The Afghan security forces have stepped up counter-terrorism operations across the country to suppress the insurgency activities of the group as the weather gets warm, resulting into more attacks by the insurgents of the group across the country.

This comes as the Taliban-led insurgency has been rampant since the group announced its spring offensive earlier this month but the security officials are saying that the offensive has been successfully repulsed and the group has suffered heavy loss.

khaama.com/taliban-shadow-governor-haji-lala-killed-with-his-43-fighter-in-kandahar-0817

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Pakistani Insurgent Among 33 Killed In Latest ANSF Air And Ground Raids: Afghan MoD

Tue May 03 2016

The Ministry of Defense of Afghanistan (MoD) said at least 33 militants including a Pakistani insurgent were killed in the latest air and ground raids of the Afghan National Security Forces.

“In the last 24 hours, as a result of the joint clearance operations of the Afghan security and defense forces aimed to topple down the insurgents and protect the lives and property of people  , 23 armed insurgents were killed, 12 wounded and nine arrested,” according to an MoD operational update.

The operations were conducted in a number of the districts of Kunar Nangarhar, Laghman, Khost, Kandahar, Uruzgan, Zabul, Badghis Balkh, Jowzjan,Faryab, Kunduz ,Badakhshan, Sar-e-Pul , and Helmand provinces.

“Also, due to these joint operations of defense and security forces which were supported by heavy artillery and Air forces, 5 insurgents including a Pakistan nationality were killed,” according to the operational update.

At least 12 others were killed in the Naray District of Kunar, six wounded and four arrested in Shahjoy, Mizan and Qalat, the center of Zabul province, MoD said.

According to MoD, four armed insurgents were killed and four wounded and five suspects were arrested as a result of a separate joint Afghan Defense and Security forces operations in Khas Uruzgan district of Uruzgan province, Dand-e-Ghori of Baghlan, and Khan Abad district of Kunduz.

“Afghan National Army as National Defense Forces for the protection of people‘s lives and properties and for defeating and eradicating terror groups, will fight the enemies vigorously   and are ready to give scarifies for bringing lasting peace and stability to people,” the update added.

The Taliban militants group has not commented regarding the report so far.

khaama.com/pakistani-insurgent-among-33-killed-in-latest-ansf-air-and-ground-raids-mod-0828

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ISIS loyalists targeting opium and heroin production in Afghanistan: Report

Tue May 03 2016

The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) terrorist group loyalists have started eradicating opium and targeting heroin production in Afghanistan, a similar approach the militants of the terror group are using to target the illicit drugs as well as alcohol in Syria and Iraq.

According to reports, the loyalists of the terror group have launched the campaign in areas where they have influence, including the Achin district which was once the stronghold of ISIS loyalists.

Nawab, a local farmer who goes by his first name only, told VOA’s Afghan Service that the Islamic State “eradicated our poppy crop because they say it is illegal.”

“I had a one-hectare well-grown poppy field. I did not grow wheat, and now I lost the poppy as well,” Nawab added.

Mohammad Naeem, an Achin resident, told VOA that IS militants destroyed poppy fields in the district and arrested a number of local people for growing poppy.

“They say this plant is Haram [prohibited in Islam] … people had cultivated poppy in a few villages but it has been destroyed,” Naeem said.

The latest attempt by ISIS loyalists to eradicate opium fields and target heroin production in Nangarhar comes despite the group received a major setback as a result of growing raids by Afghan and US forces.

Meanwhile, the Afghan national security advisor Hanif Atmar has said lst year that the loyalists of the terro group are looking to have access to drugs market by starting operations in Afghanistan.

The surge in military raids followed amid concerns that the terror group was attempting to establish a regional operational base in Nangarhar and consolidate operations with the terror group in Syria and Iraq.

khaama.com/isis-loyalists-targeting-opium-and-heroin-production-in-afghanistan-report-0827

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Afghan and Indian officials discuss inauguration of $300m Salma Dam

Tue May 03 2016

The Afghan and Indian officials held talks on the inauguration of Salma Dam which has been constructed with the financial support of India, bearing a cost of around $300 million.

The discussions were made between the Indian Ambassador to Afghanistan Manpreet Vohra and National Security Adviser of Afghanistan Mohammad Hanif Atmar.

The Office of the National Security Adviser (NSA) said Mr. Atmar told the Indian Ambassador that the government of Afghanistan has taken all necessary steps and arrangements for the inauguration of the dam.

Atmar thanked the Indian nation for their support to Afghanistan and specifically for building the Salma Dam, calling India as true friend and good neighbor of Afghanistan.

In his turn, Mr. Vohra said India is hopeful that the project would help with the economic growth of Afghanistan, reaffirming India’s continued support to help Afghanistan become self-sufficient.

Built on Harirod river, the dam is expected to produce 42 megawatt of electricity and will irrigate around 75,000 hectares of agricultural land.

India has played a crucial role by participating in the rebuilding of Afghanistan following the fall of the Taliban regime in 2001.

Since 2002, the Government of India has committed USD 2 billion dollars to the socio-economic rebuilding of the Afghan state and society in accordance with the development priorities of the Government and the people of Afghanistan.

The Indian cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi approved the reconstruction and completion of Salma dam at a revised cost of INR 1,775.69 crore which is equivalent to around $268,050,296.

“The project is scheduled to be completed by June, 2016. M/s. WAPCOS, a central public sector unit under the Ministry of Water Resources, is executing the project,” according to a statement released by the government of India late in the month of December last year.

khaama.com/afghan-and-indian-officials-discuss-inauguration-of-300m-salma-dam-0823

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Efforts underway to remove Hekmatyar’s name from UN blacklist: AHPC

Tue May 03 2016

Efforts are underway to remove the name of Gulbuddin Hekmatyar from the blacklist of the United Nations Security Council, the Afghan High Peace Council (AHPC) officials have said.

According to the officials, the high peace council has reached to an agreement on 20 out of 25 proposed conditions of Hezb-e-Islami for joining peace process.

Deputy AHPC Chief Mawlavi Ata-ur-Rehman Salim has said only President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani has the authority to decide regarding the remaining proposed conditions of Hezb-e-Islami.

He said the government is contact with the UN Security Council to remove Hekmatyar’s name from the blacklist and President Ghani has promised to send his final decisions in this regard to high peace council soon.

The delegation of Hezb-e-Islami arrived for peace talks to capital Kabul in mid March and shortly after the Quadrilateral Coordination Group (QCG) called on militant groups to participate in direct peace talks with the Afghan government.

Hekmatyar is considered is a notorious warlord for his involvement in the devastating civil war and insurgency following activities following the fall of the Taliban group.

Earlier, the group was insisting on full withdrawal of the foreign forces from the country to participate in peace talks.

However, Hekmatyar stepped back from his demands for the complete withdrawal of foreign forces with an official of Hezb-e-Islami Amin Karim Hekmatyar is no longer demanding that all foreign troops leave Afghanistan.

The softening stance by Hekmatyar followed days after the representatives of the party said there will be no compromise on women’s rights if two sides agreed to strike a deal.

Earlier, it was reported that the party is seeking to become a government partner by seeking positions in civil and security institutions.

khaama.com/efforts-underway-to-remove-hekmatyars-name-from-un-blacklist-ahpc-0822

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Charming internet with plastic bag ‘Messi’ shirt, Murtaza forced to abandon Afghanistan

May 02 2016

The Argentinian football star Lionel Messi’s biggest and youngest fan from Afghanistan Murtaza Ahmadi has been forced to abandon Afghanistan months after he charmed the internet with plastic bag shirt.

According to reports, Murtaza was forced to seek refuge in the neighboring Pakistan amid deteriorating security situation and fears of kidnapping.

He has left the country together with his family members and has shifted to Quetta city of Pakistan, with his family members saying the decision was taken to prevent the possible kidnapping attempt as Murtaza became famous in the country as well as globally for his photographs that went viral.

In an interview with BBC Urdu, Murtaza has said he still loves Messi and is keen to meet him but his family members have said the Afghanistan Football Federation promised to arrange a meeting for his son with the football star but nothing happened afterwards.

Meanwhile, reports emerged earlier last month suggesting that Murtaza will not meet the star with a source in Leo Messi Foundation saying “The meeting is not taking place. We get thousands of requests from children all over the world and the truth is that we cannot cover them all.”

“We’d like to but it’s impossible,” the sources told the UK-based MailOnline newspaper.

However, Murtaza’s dreams were partially achieved last month after he received signed shirts from the football star.

Murtaza hails from Ghazni, a restive province located in southeastern part of Afghanistan. The original photos of Murtaza wearing the plastic shirt was taken by his elder brother Hamayon who published them on his Facebook page.

khaama.com/charming-internet-with-plastic-bag-messi-shirt-murtaza-forced-to-abandon-afghanistan-0820

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Afghan translator commits suicide after British authorities reject his asylum claim

May 02 2016

An Afghan asylum seeker has reportedly committed suicide in United Kingdom after his application was rejected by the British authorities despite he had served as a translator with the British forces in Afghanistan.

According to the local media reports, the 29-year-old Nangyalai Dawoodzai was suffering from severe depression as he was told by the British authorities that he would be deported.

Dawoodzai had arrived in United Kingdom by risking his life and travelling through risky routes the migrants are usually going through by paying hefty amounts of money to the smugglers.

His service with the British forces as a translator in the restive Helmand province had reportedly put his life at risk as the Taliban group was repeatedly threatening him, a threat which normally the Afghan citizens are receiving from the group for working with the foreign forces.

“This is the most tragic example of a shameful Government policy,” Lord Ashdown, who champions the cause of the translators, told MailOnline.

According to the paper, a campaign has highlighted the plight of former frontline translators who remained in Afghanistan after UK forces left and have been targeted by the Taliban because of their service.

The campaign – supported by a petition signed by nearly 180,000 people, including military chiefs, soldiers and MPs – has revealed how interpreters have been shot dead or beaten. Their homes have been attacked and their children kidnapped and murdered.

The tragic death of Dawoodzai comes as thousands of Afghans have left the country due to growing violence with majority of the Afghans heading towards Europe by travelling through risky routes, including the Turkish waters where hundreds of people have lost their lives.

khaama.com/afghan-translator-commits-suicide-after-british-authorities-reject-his-asylum-claim-0818

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New hit-list threatens Bangladeshi teachers, politicians

May 3, 2016

DHAKA: Bangladesh police were on Tuesday investigating a new hit-list that includes the head of a university, journalists and ruling party officials, after a series of gruesome killings.

Police said they were taking seriously the threat to kill 10 people listed in a leaflet that was sent to a press club in the northwestern town of Natore on Monday by a hitherto unknown group.

Among those named was the head of Rajshahi University, where a liberal professor was hacked to death by suspected Islamists less than two weeks ago.

"The leaflet bears the name of Islami Liberation Front. It said it has launched a mission to kill the 10 people" Natore police chief Shymal Kumar Mukherjee said.

"We don't know anything about this group. There are no previous information about this group. We have taken the matter seriously," he said.

The Muslim-majority nation is reeling from a string of killings of secular and liberal activists and religious minorities by suspected Islamist militants.

The Islami Liberation Front said its objectives were to establish an Islamic caliphate in Bangladesh by toppling what it called the "repressive" government.

Police in the city of Rajshahi said they had provided security for those named and were investigating the authenticity of the threat.

"We're giving special attention to these people," deputy chief of Rajshahi police Sardar Tamizuddin Ahmed said.

Police said more than 1,000 students and teachers and students rallied on the Rajshahi University campus on Tuesday to protest at the murder of English professor Rezaul Karim Siddique, who was a poet and leading cultural activist.

Shortly after his killing, which has been claimed by the Islamic State group, two gay activists were hacked to death elsewhere.

Their killings were subsequently claimed by a Bangladeshi branch of al-Qaida.

Teachers and students have been boycotting classes at the university since Siddique's murder on April 23, demanding justice and the arrest of the killers.

"The killers must be brought to book immediately. The government must protect the teachers and liberal voices as we're all feeling insecure," the head of Rajshahi University Teachers Association, Shahid Ullah, said.

Bangladesh's government has been criticised for not doing enough to stem the tide of violence, with at least 30 members of religious minorities, secular bloggers and other liberal activists, foreigners and intellectuals murdered in the past three years.

It has rejected claims of outside involvement in the killings, saying neither the IS group nor al-Qaida have a presence in the country.

Both the government and the police blame banned local militant groups for the attacks.

A long-running political crisis in officially secular Bangladesh has radicalised opponents of the government and analysts say Islamist extremists pose a growing danger.

timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/south-asia/New-hit-list-threatens-Bangladeshi-teachers-politicians/articleshow/52090363.cms

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Bangladesh blogger seeks U.S help as threats escalate

May 3, 2016

The U.S. has said it is considering providing temporary sanctuary to some individuals at immediate risk, although it remains unclear whether that will happen.

When Bangladeshi blogger and social activist Ashif Entaz Rabi hosted a TV talk show about a slaying of a publisher by Islamic extremists, he faced a torrent of threatening phone calls. He says young men with earpieces started loitering outside his workplace, and a militant website urged followers to “send this Ashif to Allah.”

But Bangladeshi authorities told him they couldn’t protect him, saying he’d need the kind of security usually reserved for the prime minister to keep him safe. Instead, they told him to take care of himself, and write something good about Islam and the government.

Rabi, 37, is in Washington at the invitation of a human rights group, calling attention to the dozens of writers and bloggers who fear they could be the next victim of a wave of savage attacks on liberals and religious minorities in Bangladesh. The violence has had a chilling effect on freedom of expression in the traditionally moderate Muslim nation.

Tuesday marks World Press Freedom Day, and a coalition of rights groups are calling for a U.N-backed inquiry into the killings because Bangladesh’s government has failed to address the situation. They say “an atmosphere of complete impunity” in the South Asian nation is emboldening the killers. Since the beginning of 2015, at least nine intellectuals, academics, writers, bloggers, and activists have been hacked to death in targeted assassinations.

Rabi attended the annual White House Correspondents’ Association dinner at the weekend, and is due on Tuesday to meet with a top State Department envoy on human rights, Tom Malinowski, to discuss the deteriorating climate of tolerance in Bangladesh. He’ll also be hoping to find a way to secure sanctuary in the U.S. for himself and his immediate family.

“It’s better that the international community do something rather than just make statements. It’s no use just issuing letters, as the prime minister (of Bangladesh) does not care,” Rabi told The Associated Press on Monday.

Secretary of State John Kerry called Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Thursday, urging Bangladesh to protect those at risk. He also offered U.S. support for the investigation into the slaying last week of Xulhaz Mannan, a U.S. Agency for International Development employee and gay rights activist.

Since December, the U.S. has said it is considering providing temporary sanctuary to some individuals at immediate risk, although it remains unclear whether that will happen.

A broader concern for Washington is that transnational jihadist groups could gain a foothold in Bangladesh despite the nation's traditions of secularism, free speech and respect for its Christian and Hindu minorities.

Nearly all the attacks have been claimed by groups like the so-called Islamic State and various affiliates of Al-Qaida. The government, however, has denied that these groups have a presence in Bangladesh, and has blamed the violence on the political opposition.

While there have been some arrests mostly of low-level operatives there have been no prosecutions so far and authorities have struggled to make any headway in naming those planning the attacks.

Rights groups charge that top officials have instead condemned the targeted individuals for their writings.

“When a government willfully shirks its responsibility to protect its citizens and hold accountable those guilty of such brutal attacks, the international community has to step in,” said Suzanne Nossel, a former U.S. official and executive director of PEN American Center, which is among 16 international rights group calling on governments to support the establishment of a Commission of Inquiry by the United Nations Human Rights Council.

It’s unclear if there would be adequate international support for such action, which would require a government to propose it, and a majority at the 47-member council to back it. Such commissions have been established to investigate mass rights abuses, as in North Korea, Syria and Libya, rather than the kind of targeted killings happening in Bangladesh.

Bangladesh’s constitution enshrines free speech, but Rabi, who started his career as an editor of a satirical cartoon magazine, is no stranger to threats and intimidation.

When he began blogging in 2008, he said it provided a new way to highlight abuses of power that mainstream media shied away from. He wrote and organized demonstrations about the plight of Bangladeshi migrant laborers on death row in Saudi Arabia, safety failings in the garment industry, and even about the risk of an Islamic militant dying in police custody.

thehindu.com/news/international/south-asia/bangladesh-blogger-seeks-us-help-as-threats-escalate/article8551111.ece

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India

Religious Tolerance In India Deteriorated In 2015: U.S. Commission

3 May, 2016

NEW DELHI -- Religious tolerance in India deteriorated in 2015, and religious freedoms of minorities were violated by Hindu nationalist groups, "tacitly supported" by members of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, according to a U.S. government agency which monitors religious freedom.

In it annual report, released on Monday, the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom, said, "India is on a negative trajectory in terms of religious freedom."

The "independent and bipartisan" USCIRF was behind the U.S. government's decision to revoke Narendra Modi's tourist visa in 2005, then Chief Minister of Gujarat, alleging his complicity in the religious violence which ravaged the state in 2002.

Modi, now India's Prime Minister, has been cleared off wrongdoing in connection with the Gujarat riots by Indian courts, and last year, a U.S. court also threw out a "genocide" case against Modi, upholding the U.S. government's contention that he was entitled to immunity as a sitting head of government.

While the U.S. government has consistently made some noise over religious freedom, these concerns have not interfered with its plans to build a closer strategic relationship with India. Last week, the U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan invited Modi to address a joint meeting of the U.S. Congress, when he visits in June.

Meanwhile, the USCIRF has said that it will monitor the situation in India over the next year and then determine whether it should be designated as a “country of particular concern."

"Since the BJP assumed power, religious minority communities have been subject to derogatory comments by BJP politicians and numerous violent attacks and forced conversions by affiliated Hindu nationalist groups, such as Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), Sangh Parivar, and Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP)." - USCIRF Report

In its report, USCIRF highlighted attacks on religious freedoms of Muslims, Christians and Sikhs, restrictions on cow slaughter, anti-conversion laws, forced conversions by Hindu nationalist groups, and the failure to redress past large-scale violence.

In its recommendations, USCIRF urged the "Indian government to publicly rebuke government officials and religious leaders that make derogatory statements about religious communities."

USCIRF and India

In February, the Modi government said that communal violence has increased by 17 percent from 2014 to 2015, but the Indian government has never taken kindly to criticism from outside.

While the government doesn't relish the bad publicity, it tends to dismiss criticism from the U.S. and other foreign agencies as ignorant of the complexities of Indian society. Then, there are those who believe that the U.S. is really in no position to preach given its own myriad problems on race and religion, and the fact that some its allies are gross human rights violators.

The Indian government did not take cognizance of USCIRF's report in 2015.

"Our attention has been drawn to a Report of the USCIRF which has passed judgement on religious freedom in India. It appears to be based on limited understanding of India, its constitution and its society," said Vikas Swarup, official spokesperson for the Ministry of External Affair, last year.

Writing in the FirstPost, last year, its former Editor-in-Chief R Jagannathan described USCIRF as "busybody created by US law to appease evangelical bigots at home."

In March, the Modi government denied visas to a delegation from USCIRF which wanted to "discuss and assess religious freedom conditions" in India.

But this isn't unique to the BJP leadership. The USCIRF was also denied visas by the Indian government in 2009, when the Congress Party-led United Progressive Alliance government was in power at the Centre.

Still, the U.S. didn't take kindly to its representatives being denied visas. A month after the U.S, government expressed its disappointment, Katrina Lantos Swett, a member of the USCIRF delegation, was permitted to attend a conference of Chinese dissidents in Dharamshala, last week.

But Swett said that she had traveled as a representative of Lantos Foundation on Human Right, and not for the USCIRF.

While the USCIRF episode garnered a lot of attention, a visit from another American institution, funded by the U.S. Congress, went unnoticed.

The Economic Times reported today that U.S. Institute of Peace, organized a meeting between young people from 14 conflict-ridden countries and the Dalai Lama in Dharamshala, last week.

huffingtonpost.in/2016/05/03/uscirf-religion_n_9826026.html

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Foundation Day Celebrations: In Gujarat, A Play on Hindu-Muslim Marriage, Inter-Caste Ties

3 May, 2016

Saira, a Muslim, and Aryan, a Hindu, intend to marry each other. They were two of the many characters in a play staged by the Chhota Udepur district administration, in association with Sports, Culture and Youth Affairs Department on Sunday.

The play was aimed at showcasing “developed, progressive Gujarat” that is open to the idea of “love between communities”. Performed as part of celebrations of the Gujarat Foundation Day in the presence of Governor O P Kohli and Chief Minister Anandiben Patel, it was loaded with multiple messages against certain customs and superstitions, and asked tribals to take the path of development. Chhota Udepur is a tribal-dominated district.

The narrative, penned by Vishnu Pandya on behalf of the Youth Affairs and Culture Department, conveyed messages supporting girl child, inter-caste and inter-religion marriages through the characters of Saira and Aryan, and others.

The story that traced the growth of the district from the time of the 6th century Chauhan dynasty, showed a group of city-bred Gujarati tourists visiting Chhota Udepur on the Gujarat Foundation day. The group tries to reason with tribals to “change mindsets” towards girl child, inter-caste and inter-religious marriages for a better future. At one point, the narrative focused on the village Sarpanch, who became fond of the young tourists and was also grateful to them for showing the villagers a new perspective towards many social issues. As the sarpanch expressed his gratitude, a girl from the group asked him to promise that Rupla and Rupli, who were in a romantic relationship but belonged to different castes, would be married. Another youngster said, “We celebrate all festivals according to religious customs, but can’t we celebrate the Gujarat Foundation Day without references to castes and creed. If there is a wind of modern technology then why not of new mindsets. Chhota Udepur is on the track of development after foundation of the state of Gujarat and in the last 15 years, it has only seen illumination. You are son of the soil of Gujarat. You cannot afford to pander to castes and creed.” The youngster then cited an example of mixed marriages and said, “Let me tell you, this is Saira, a Muslim, and this is Aryan, a Hindu. And they are going to marry each other. I know that they love each other. But, we do not want to force you. If you do not wish to change, it is ok.” As the group was about to leave the village, the Sarpanch, in a stern voice, said, “Rupli is 18 years old, but Rupla is not 21 yet. So, they can marry only next year.” Anandiben, who spoke at the end of the event, said, “The attempt to adopt something new has been shown. Despite the prevailing social evils, they are moving ahead by putting the detrimental customs behind them.” - See more at: indianexpress.com/article/india/india-news-india/foundation-day-celebrations-in-gujarat-a-play-on-hindu-muslim-marriage-inter-caste-ties-2781559/#sthash.z0ksSeh4.dpuf

indianexpress.com/article/india/india-news-india/foundation-day-celebrations-in-gujarat-a-play-on-hindu-muslim-marriage-inter-caste-ties-2781559/

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Identity of key IS recruiter remains a mystery

May 3, 2016

Three months after Indian agencies busted a widespread Islamic State network with many members in India, its key recruiter’s identity still remains a mystery.

Security agencies believe that Shafi Armar alias Yousuf al Hindi operates from Syria but are not fully convinced if all communications in his name are from this former Indian Mujahideen member.

Eight of the 25 suspects in the custody of the National Investigation Agency who were allegedly recruited by Armar have told interrogators that they had never seen Armar as he never communicated with them through video calls. Armar was cautious enough to only use web-based applications- ‘We Chat’, ‘Kick’ and audio messaging service on Skype, the men have told the NIA.

Request sent to U.S.

The answer to Armar’s location and that he indeed posted messages from Syria, now lies in requests sent to countries like the U.S., Canada, China and Hong Kong .

“At this point of time, the NIA cannot conclusively say that Armar is based in Syria. He was in touch with eight men who were arrested on terror charges but none of them has seen him. Until and unless we know whether the messages originated from, it will be difficult to conclude that he is in Syria,” said a senior NIA official.

Security agencies believe that Armar, a key member of Ansar ul Tawhid, an offshoot of Indian Mujahideen, which later on pledged allegiance to the Islamic State, reportedly operates from Syria. A resident of Bhatkal in Karnataka, Armar left for Pakistan via Dubai along with his brother Mohammad Sultan Armar in 2008 when the security agencies began a crackdown against IM members.

thehindu.com/todays-paper/identity-of-key-is-recruiter-remains-a-mystery/article8549862.ece

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Increase Maharashtra Haj quota, demand Muslims

May 3, 2016

MUMBAI: Nearly 50,000 applicants for the Haj pilgrimage from Maharashtra have been left in the lurch. Several hundred are also those who applied four times, but have not made it to the list of selected pilgrims due to quota restrictions. Community leaders and State Haj Committee have demanded an increase in the quota for Haj pilgrims from India as thousands, despite fulfilling the criteria to go for Haj, are being held back. This year, Haj will be performed in September.

India's quota of Haj pilgrims is 1 lakh, but more than four lakh applications have been received. Maharashtra's quota is around 7,000, whereas nearly 55,000 applicants are in the queue. "Increase in the Haj quota for India is urgently needed. The Saudi authorities need to be told about the Muslim population according to the latest census. It is disheartening for several thousand senior Haj applicants who are being denied the opportunity," said Congress legislator Amin Patel.

The Saudi government sanctions one pilgrim seat against 10 Muslims from the entire community's population in a country. Since 2013, the Saudi authorities have imposed a 20% cut in the Haj quota for all the nations due to ongoing expansion of the holy mosque in Mecca. "We have written several letters to the ministry of external affairs to demand increase in our quota from the Saudi government," said Ibrahim Bhaijan, president, Maharashtra State Haj Committee.

"There was a surplus of 8,687 seats collectively from Assam, Bihar, WB and Tripura. These seats were distributed among Gujarat, Kerala and Uttarakhand," said Haj Committee of India's CEO Ataur Rahman.

timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/mumbai/Increase-state-Haj-quota-demand-Muslims/articleshow/52082344.cms

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Muslim activist files complaint against Trupti Desai

May 3, 2016

A social activist has approached the Tardeo police to file an FIR against Bhumata Brigade activist Trupti Desai for allegedly disturbing peace and promoting enmity between different groups. The police have, however, not yet registered any FIR in the matter.

According to the police, activist Imraan Khan (33) approached the Tardeo police on Sunday asking them to register a complaint against Desai. "Khan stated that Desai should be booked on charges of disturbing the internal peace of the country, promoting enmity between different groups on the grounds of religion and acting deliberately to outrage religious feelings by insulting religious beliefs," said a police officer.

Speaking to dna, Khan said: "Desai belongs to another community and she does not understand the sentiments, rules and beliefs of the people who belong to the Islamic community. She is insisting that ladies be allowed into the central sanctum of the mosque, which is not allowed in Islam."

Making further allegations, Khan said: "Desai is deliberately and purposely disturbing the religious environment of our country. Her constant interference in our religious matters with a motive to bring about change is evoking anger amongst our community members."

Khan has also submitted the said applications to chief minister Devendra Fadnavis and commissioner of police DD Padsalgikar, asking them to ensure a probe into his complaint and take strict action against Desai.

"We have received an application from one Imraan Khan against Trupti Desai. However, we have not yet registered any offence in the matter," said senior police inspector Dyanesh Devade of Tardeo police station.

dnaindia.com/mumbai/report-muslim-activist-files-complaint-against-trupti-desai-2208489

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Pakistan

JuD chief rejects charges of promoting extremism in Thar

May/03/2016

BADIN: The chief of banned Jamaatud Dawa, Hafiz Saeed, has rejected allegations that his organisation is promoting extremism in Thar by opening seminaries in the poverty stricken arid regin.

Mr Saeed said at Nazriya-i-Pakistan Council in Matli on Monday that it was Muslims’ responsibility to safeguard holy places of their Hindus brethern. “We will not allow destruction of temples and other holy places of non-Muslims in the country,” he warned. He said that his support for Kashmiri Muslims was unwavering. “We were and are with Kashmiris.” The federal government was not taking the looming threat from RAW seriously, which was a matter of great concern for every patriot, he said.

He said the law enforcement agencies were sincerely trying to fight against anti-state actors and RAW agents but the government remained silent over it.

He said that the charity wing of his organisation was getting love from people of drought-hit Thar because it was serving them selflessly in their difficult times.

He rejected allegations that JuD was promoting extremism in Thar by opening seminaries.

HYDERABAD: The United States is promoting organisations like Daesh to defame and distort Islam, said Mr Saeed at the inauguration ceremony for Al Baseera Deen and Science College at Hala Naka.

He said that India was using RAW to destabilise Pakistan. The UN kept mum over bombing in Syria in which innocent men, women and children were being maimed on a daily basis, he said.

He said that he was committed to promoting harmony among different sections of society and said Pakistan’s integrity was linked with unity.

dawn.com/news/1255935/jud-chief-rejects-charges-of-promoting-extremism-in-thar

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Will not allow destruction of temples in Pakistan: Hafiz Saeed

May/03/2016

Chief of Pakistan's banned JuD, Hafiz Saeed, has said his organisation will not allow the destruction of Hindu temples and other holy places belonging to the non-Muslims in the country.

It was every Muslim's responsibility to safeguard the holy places of their Hindu brethren, Saeed said while addressing a meeting in Matli town of Sindh province on Monday. "We will not allow destruction of temples and other holy places of non-Muslims in the country," he warned.

The Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD) chief rejected allegations that his organisation is promoting extremism in Thar area of Sindh, which borders India, by opening seminaries in the poverty-stricken arid region.

Saeed also pledged support for the Kashmiri Muslims, according to a Dawn report. He said the law enforcement agencies were sincerely trying to fight against "anti-state actors and RAW agents" but the Nawaz Sharif government has remained silent over it.

indiatoday.intoday.in/story/will-not-allow-destruction-of-temples-in-pakistan-hafiz-saeed/1/657723.html

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Pakistan will get F-16s from elsewhere if funding not arranged, Aziz cautions US

May/03/2016

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan will acquire F-16s from elsewhere if the United States (US) does not arrange funding for the sale, Sartaj Aziz, the prime minister's adviser on foreign affairs, cautioned the US as both countries lock horns over the purchase of the fighter jets.

Pakistan had earlier reached an understanding with the US for buying eight F-16 planes. Under the deal, Pakistan was required to pay about $270m from its national funds. The US was supposed to provide the rest from its Foreign Military Financing (FMF) fund.

But at a congressional hearing, US lawmakers last Wednesday made it clear that they would not allow the Obama administration to use US funds for the deal.

Last Friday, a State Department official told Dawn that Congress had placed a hold on the deal, forbidding the administration from using US funds for enabling Pakistan to buy the planes.

And on Monday afternoon, the department confirmed that Pakistan will have to use its own funds if it wants the planes.

The latest announcement practically kills the deal as Pakistan may find it difficult to buy the planes at two and a half times more than the agreed price.

Aziz said Pakistan valued the F-16s for their effectiveness, but said that they could be replaced by JF-17 Thunder jets in its anti-terrorism campaign.

The adviser also expressed concern over India's growing military power and said if it isn't checked, Pakistan will be "forced to increase its strategic power" too.

"The international community should avoid steps which may disturb the strategic balance in South Asia", Aziz warned.

Aziz reiterated the government's resistance towards handing Dr Shakeel Afridi over to American authorities.

"We have rejected American pressure on Pakistan regarding Afridi, who helped the US trace Osama bin Laden. For the US he is a hero but for Pakistan he is a criminal," he stated.

Afridi's case is under review by a tribunal, and he is also suspected of links with terrorist organisations, Aziz added.

The adviser also confirmed that an Afghan Taliban delegation from Doha is in Islamabad for explanatory contacts and such contacts are maintained by all members of the Quadrilateral Coordination Group which consists of the US, China, Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Last week, the Afghan Taliban's spokesperson in Doha formally confirmed that a delegation from their political office in Qatar was visiting Pakistan and promised “fruitful results”, but rejected the impression that the group was there to discuss participation in peace talks with Kabul.

dawn.com/news/1256000/pakistan-will-get-f-16s-from-elsewhere-if-funding-not-arranged-aziz-cautions-us

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MQM says Farooq Sattar's coordinator died in Rangers custody

May/03/2016

KARACHI: A Mutahidda Qaumi Movement (MQM) leader claimed on Tuesday that a party member, said to be a coordinator of senior MQM leader Dr Farooq Sattar, died in the custody of Rangers.

"Aftab Ahmed died during Rangers custody as he was detained for 90 days for no reason," MQM spokesperson Wasay Jalil said in a tweet.

Dr Seemin Jamali, head of emergency at JPMC, said Ahmed, who the Rangers picked up in a raid on Sunday, was admitted to the hospital at around 7am on Tuesday.

Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) was performed on the man, who had no pulse and no blood pressure when he was brought to the hospital, she said.

He died at around 7:45am after doctors failed to revive him, she said.

Additional police surgeon Dr Kaleem Shaikh said the exact cause of his death would be ascertained after post-mortem.

Because the MQM worker died a custodial death, he said, the post-mortem will be conducted in the presence of a magistrate, who is currently awaited.

Meanwhile, Leader of the Opposition in the Sindh Assembly MQM's Khawaja Izhar-ul-Hassan demanded formation of a commission to investigate Aftab Ahmed's death, saying "responsibility should be fixed for his death in custody".

The Pakistan Rangers had informed on Monday the administrative judge of antiterrorism court about 90-day preventive detention of seven suspects, including Aftab Ahmed, for questioning.

The paramilitary soldiers along with their legal team produced the detainees before the judge along with intimation applications, detention orders and jail warrants.

They informed the court that upon receiving credible information about their involvement in targeted killing, kidnapping and extortion punishable under the Anti-Terrorism Act 1997, they were put under three-month preventive detention as provided in Section 11-EEEE of the ATA for an inquiry.

For a little over a year, MQM has been under the spotlight when it comes to the Rangers-led Karachi operation. In March 2015, Rangers personnel detained a number of MQM workers, including senior members such as Amir Khan, in a pre-dawn raid on the party's headquarters.

The raid, which prompted a protest by party activists, appeared to have symbolic significance in the operation that has been underway in Karachi since October 2013.

Most recently, Rangers arrested MQM Rabita Committee Deputy Convener Shahid Pasha in a raid on his residence last month.

dawn.com/news/1256004/mqm-says-farooq-sattars-coordinator-died-in-rangers-custody

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Five policemen injured in Quetta IED blast

May/03/2016

QUETTA: Five police personnel were wounded in an improvised explosive device (IED) blast in Quetta's Eastern Bypass area on Tuesday, police sources said.

A contingent of police were patrolling the area in a mobile van when they were targeted through an IED, they said.

Five police officials were left injured in the blast, which left the police vehicle damaged.

The injured personnel were rushed to Civil Hospital Quetta for treatment. Doctors described condition of one of the injured as critical.

Police and Frontier Corps personnel reached the blast site, as an investigation into the incident went underway.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack. Militants in the area have been targeting security forces in the past.

Balochistan, Pakistan’s largest but least developed province, has remained under the grip of violence for over a decade which has claimed thousands of lives.

dawn.com/news/1255995/five-policemen-injured-in-quetta-ied-blast

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Europe

Islamic State threatens to expose British military secrets

Monday, 2 May 2016

Islamic State terrorists have threatened to publish details of British military personnel after exposing a “hit-list” of American drone pilots and urging fanatics to “kill them wherever they are”.

The jihadi extremists circulated the names, home addresses and photographs of 76 United States Air Force personnel and claimed it had also stolen “secret intelligence” from Britain’s Ministry of Defence.

The claims, which could not be verified, encouraged Islamist terrorists to find and “behead” the Americans, in imitation of the tactic used on the streets of London in 2013 by the murderers of Drummer Lee Rigby.

The group, which calls itself the “Islamic State Hacking Division”, said in its online posting: “In our next leak we may even disclose secret intelligence the Islamic Statehas just received from a source the brothers in the UK have spent some time acquiring from the Ministry of Defence in London as we slowly and secretly infiltrate England and the USA online and off.”

Publishing photographs and purported home addresses of the American military personnel it said: “Kill them wherever they are, knock on their doors and behead them, stab them, shoot them in the face or bomb them.”

However, scrutiny of the information showed it did not appear to be the result of a leak or genuine hack, The Sunday Times said.

In a development which may offer military chiefs some reassurance over the safety of their IT systems, the 76 names appeared to have been gleaned from news articles and military newsletters before being matched with publicly-available data on the internet, such as telephone records.

The terrorists’ hacking division was previously led by Junaid Hussain, a former computer hacker from Birmingham killed by a US drone strike in Syria last August.

His wife Sally Jones, a former punk rocker, mother-of-two and Muslim convert from Chatham, Kent, is still believed to be involved with the organisation.

The data was published by the terrorists on a Polish-based file-sharing site called JustPaste.it which boasts that it offers “secure content publishing that even NSA [the US National Security Agency]won’t be able to break”.

Among those named on the list are Lieutenant-General Sean MacFarland, the US commander leading the coalition against Isis in Syria and Iraq, whose identity is already in the public domain.

At least five British Isis fighters, including Hussain, 21, and Mohammed Emwazi, 27, the murderer from London known as Jihadi John, have been killed by the drone programme, which is mainly run from bases in Nevada and New Mexico.

Sally Jones met Hussain online and followed him to Syria in 2013 with Jojo, her 10-year-old son from a previous relationship.

After Hussain was killed she wrote on Twitter under the name Umm Hussain Britaniya: “I’m proud my husband was killed by the biggest enemy of Allah, may Allah be pleased with him, and I will never love anyone but him.

“The Crusaders think they win when they kill us. They don’t we win.”

Last October the American government listed her as a “specially designated global terrorist”.

Major Adrian Rankine-Galloway, a Pentagon spokesman, said: “We are aware that Isil and other terrorist organisations have periodically purported to release personal information on US service members and military members of our coalition partners involved in operations against Isil.

ghanaweb.com/GhanaHomePage/worldNews/Islamic-State-threatens-to-expose-British-military-secrets-435363

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French journalist infiltrates Islamic State cell for six months

MAY 3, 2016

A French journalist who infiltrated a jihadist cell was ordered to carry out a suicide attack on a nightclub and told: “The French must die in their thousands.”

Secret film captured during six months undercover, broadcast overnight on Canal+ television, showed Said Ramzi, a pseudonym used by the 29-year-old reporter, winning the confidence of “Allah’s soldiers”.

He used Facebook to contact the cell of aspiring French Islamic State fighters in their 20s. “My goal was to understand what was going on inside their heads,” said Ramzi, a Muslim of north African origin — like most of the French terrorists involved in last year’s atrocities in and around Paris.

He described them as “fast-food Islamists” who knew nothing of their avowed faith. “I never saw any Islam in this affair,” he said. They had, “no will to improve the world” but were “lost, frustrated, suicidal, easily manipulated youths”.

The dozen would-be jihadists, who were arrested by anti-terrorist police in December and January, knew little about religion and were driven by a creed that all “unbelievers” deserved to be killed. The young men cheer news of the November 13 massacres which killed 130 around Paris.

The video featured conversations with the “emir” of the cell, a French-Turkish citizen named Oussama, whom the journalist met at a sports centre near the town of Chateauroux.

“We must hit a military base,” Oussama tells the journalist. “When they are eating, they are all lined up . . . ta-ta-ta-ta-ta,” he added, mimicking gunfire. “Or journalists. BFM, iTele, they are at war against Islam,” Oussama says referring to French news channels. “Like they did to Charlie [Hebdo magazine]. You must strike them at the heart. Take them by surprise . . . They aren’t well protected. The French must die by the thousands.”

Oussama tells the journalist that heaven awaits if he carries out a suicide attack. “Towards paradise, that is the path,” Oussama says with a smile. “Come, brother, let’s go to paradise, our women are waiting for us there, with angels as servants. You will have a palace, a winged horse of gold and rubies.”

Oussama spent five months in jail after being returned by Turkey, where he was detained trying to reach Syria. Like most of the group, he was under surveillance by the DCRI, the French internal intelligence service.

At a meeting in the grimy northern Paris suburb of Stains, a member of the group points to a jet arriving at Le Bourget, the airport used for business jets.

“With a little rocket launcher, you can easily get one of them . . . you do something like that in the name of Islamic State, and France will be traumatised for a century,” he said.

The pressure grew on Ramzi when he was ordered to retrieve a weapon from a forest and a veiled woman at a railway station brought him orders from Abu Suleiman, an Islamic State commander who had returned from Syria and whom he never met. “There were instructions on making a suicide vest,” Ramzi told Europe 1 radio. “I had to attack a nightclub and ‘shoot until death’,” he said.

As the group was rounded up in January, one member sent a text to Ramzi saying: “You’ve had it, man.” He then broke off contact with the cell.

The reporter said that he feared for his life while he was with the group. “They are very paranoid and keep on testing you.” He said that the cell was, “perverting the peaceful Islam of my father. These small-time jihadists think they are avenging the oppressed. In reality they are spineless cowards.”

theaustralian.com.au/news/world/the-times/french-journalist-infiltrates-islamic-state-cell-for-six-months/news-story/432b84f1bc2f9278f3a19a5474dc3146

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4 terror tip-offs a day: Germany’s intel chief calls for more anti-extremist powers

3 May, 2016

The head of Germany’s domestic intelligence agency has advocated broader security powers in the face of the imminent IS threat and rise of the radical right. He called for a “coalition against extremism” in Germany to be created with moderate Muslims at its core.

Speaking at the security symposium in Berlin on Monday, the head of Germany’s Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution Hans-Georg Maassen warned of the “worsening security situation in Germany,” adding that the country’s political climate is “a lot rougher” now than it had been before due to the radicalization of previously non-partisan Germans and the activity of Islamist groups operating in Germany.

“For the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution it is clear: Islamic State wants to launch attacks against Germany and the German interests,” said Maassen, as cited by Bild, stressing that the agency receives at least four tip-offs on possible jihadi attacks in Germany on daily basis.

Maassen pointed out that the threat posed by Islamists in Europe should not be underestimated as Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) "has established command structure and cells in Europe, which are planning attacks and carry them out.”

Out of some 800 German jihadists estimated to have join IS ranks in Syria, about 260 trained militants have returned back to Germany and pose an immense security challenge, according to the agency’s data.

Maassen admitted that some jihadi fighters have been infiltrating Europe via migrant routes as it was in the case with four suspected IS fighters arrested in the refugee shelter in the Austrian city of Salzburg in December and two of the Paris attackers who had come to Europe via the Balkans.

However, he added that focusing on the fact that extremists are using migrant routes is sending a “political signal,” discrediting refugees, Spiegel reported.

Meanwhile, IS has other ways on infiltrating Europe, including from within, Maassen said.

“We perceive extremists as political or religious extremists. Of course, we look at the IS. What we don’t look at, is the Muslims in Germany. I warn against mixing religious extremists with Muslims in one pot,” he said, as cited by Tagesschau, adding that to create a viable national coalition against extremism, the Muslim’s community participation is essential.

“For that we also need Muslims in Germany, the moderates, which will together with us, fight extremism on the basis of our constitutional order,” he stressed, countering the right-wing Alternative for Germany (AfD) party stance, which slammed  Islam as incompatible with the country’s constitution in its recently published party manifesto.

Addressing the threat posed by the right-wing extremism, which has been gaining momentum in Germany with refugee-oriented violence becoming a part of daily life, Maasen argued that the majority of those participating in anti-migrant rallies in effect have been radicalized only recently and have not pledged allegiance to any right-wing political party before. It constitutes a “trend, in which the people, who might have not been interested in politics before or were voting for the conventional parties, are being radicalized,” he claimed, as quoted by Spiegel.

In order to tackle all these challenges Maasen has called for closer cooperation and the enhanced exchange of information between security services at both national and international levels and demanded expansion of intelligence services’ power enabling them to cope with the threat, including introduction of electronic tagging.

rt.com/news/341646-germany-intelligence-powers-terrorism/

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France: Anti-Muslim acts triple, but anti-Jewish acts down

3 May, 2016

Anti-Muslim acts in France tripled in 2015, with peaks in activity coming after two sets of deadly terror attacks, a government advisory commission said Monday.

A total of 429 anti-Muslim threats or hate crimes were reported last year, up from 133 in 2014, according to a report from France's National Human Rights Commission (CNCDH).

Two "peaks" in abuse came after jihadists attacked satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo in January 2015 and a subsequent assault in November that killed 130 people in Paris, said CNCDH president Christine Lazerges.

Overall, complaints of hate threats or crimes saw a "consequential increase" of just over 22 percent to 2,034 in 2015, the commission noted in its annual report on the fight against racism, anti-Semitism and xenophobia.

However, anti-Semitic hate acts fell in 2015 to 808, a five percent drop over the previous year.

"Several gauges indicate an ebb in the anti-Semitism that marked France in 2015," said the commission, referring to the terror attack on the Hyper Cacher kosher supermarket in Paris in January 2015 that killed four people.

"It is as if the violence against Jews prompted compassion and solidarity with them in public opinion," it noted.

Still Lazerges pointed out that the results include only reported crimes and that the true rates are much higher.

"Day-to-day racism is much more subtle," she said.

Though the number of acts of hate against Jews fell in 2015 in France, they were still the target of about 40 percent of the nation's total. Anti-Semitic attacks had skyrocketed in France and throughout Europe in recent years, and in 2014 Jews were subject to 51 percent of France's reported acts of hate.

France's overall Jewish community is estimated at between 500,000 and 600,000 people, the largest in Europe and one of the largest in the world.

French Prime Minister Manuel Valls has consistently condemned violence against Jews, and in January he vowed that France will work with “all its might to protect Jews”.

Valls has also urged the Jews of France to remain in the country, saying that France without Jews “would not be France”.

israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/211678#.VyiG6tR97IU

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'This would not have happened if I was white'

02 May 2016

The Muslim politician who quit Sweden’s Green Party in a storm of controversy last month, after refusing to shake the hand of a woman interviewer, has warned that he has been the victim of an Islamophobic, racist campaign which risks turning Sweden into a divided society.

“There is Islamophobia in Sweden,” said Yasri Khan, who had been a senior member of the Green Party, told Dagens Nyheter in his first major interview since stepping down on April 20th. “I am quite sure I would not have been treated like this if I’d been a white man. I wish that Sweden was more tolerant.”

Khan said he felt it was “a pity” that so many Swedes, including Prime Minister Stefan Löfven, had interpreted his refusal to shake hands with a women as a sign that he was a misogynist who hated women, when he had instead always fought for women’s full inclusion “at all levels” in society. 

“For many people it will be a symbolic act. But for me it is a consequence of my faith and my religion, and I have to be respected for who I am,” he said of his reluctance to shake women's hands.

“According to my beliefs, it is an intimate act that I reserve for my close family. It is an expression of respect, but I understand that it may be perceived differently.”

“There is symbolism on the other side as well,” he went on. “This is about my struggle to be allowed to be myself as a Muslim in Sweden. It has been a lifelong struggle for me.”

In the interview Khan refused to identify himself with what he called “white feminism", which he criticised as a movement "where shaking hands is apparently so important”, but said he felt much in common with “third world feminism".

He pointed out that two our of the four chairs of Swedish Muslims for Peace and Human Rights, the group he founded, had been women.

Khan said that his treatment over the symbolic gesture went right to the heart of what it meant to be a Muslim in Sweden.

“There’s a debate going about this in the whole of Sweden and we can perhaps decide on what diversity and quality really mean: should everyone drink alcohol, must everyone dye their hair blonde, I mean to say, where does the border lie on how different we can be?”

He warned of a difficult future if Sweden fails to answer the question in the right way.

“We need to show more understanding of each other, believe me. Otherwise, this is not the end. We could end up in a situation similar to France and see the suburbs burn, instead of becoming a harmonious, successful prosperous country.”

thelocal.se/20160502/this-would-not-have-happened-if-i-was-white

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North America

In 2016, Toddlers Have Shot More People in the US Than Muslim Terrorists Have

02 May 2016

Donald Trump has made a big deal out of barring Muslims from entering the United States on the basis that some might be terrorists sneaking in to stage attacks. But the real front line in protecting Americans' safety may be much closer to home.

America's own playpens.

According to the Washington Post, our nation's nurseries are housing more than just unbearable levels of cuteness: Twenty-three people have been shot by toddlers in the U.S. since the start of 2016 — exactly 23 more than have been shot by Muslim terrorists over the same period.

Scary: Yet the threat posed by America's gun-toting 3 and unders hasn't drawn nearly the same backlash as that against Muslims — begging the question of why our leaders are ignoring what, from a statistical standpoint, has proven the much bigger danger to our survival this year.

So far, no one has called for a "temporary ban" on babies leaving the hospitals in which they were born. No pundit or law enforcement official has advocated a more aggressive vetting process for toddlers passing through America's airports, or OK'ed a multimillion-dollar police surveillance campaign to monitor places toddlers are known to frequent.

This is clearly to our detriment as a nation: Eleven of the toddler shooting cases in 2016 have been fatal, nine of which involved the toddler getting hold of a handgun and shooting him or herself, according to the report.

But it's unclear what environmental factors are responsible for these tragedies, making it difficult to identify a concrete solution. The Post reports that Georgia and Missouri — where the largest number of toddler shootings have occurred since 2015 — have pretty lax laws governing how guns are stored to keep them away from kids.

On the other hand, New York state has no such laws at all, and has far fewer shootings of this sort.

Mic recently suggested that more "gun-friendly" states — including Missouri, Georgia, Florida and Texas — saw higher rates of toddler-related gun violence because guns are more readily available there. This is far from a definitive answer, but regardless, the threat appears to be growing: Over the same four-month period last year, only 18 people were shot by toddlers in the U.S.

Then there's the other problem: Muslims in America haven't been afforded nearly the same benefit of the doubt as their diaper-wearing counterparts.

Since 9/11, a spike in hate crimes against Muslims and Sikhs — who are often mistaken for Muslims — has accompanied a series of administrative and law enforcement practices that criminalize them. This includes the NYPD's disgraced Demographics Unit, which dedicated years of resources to surveilling Muslim neighborhoods in the tr-state area only to fail at uncovering a single piece of actionable intelligence.

Despite Muslim terrorists having killed nobody in the U.S. in 2016, Muslims across the country are routinely made to suffer due to Islamophobic perceptions. There are now at least six documented incidents of Muslims being removed from commercial airline flights since November because their fellow passengers felt threatened by them — including an Iraqi refugee who got kicked off a Southwest Airlines flight in April because a woman heard him speaking Arabic on the phone and got scared.

If anything good should come of this, it's the lesson we can learn from how we've responded to the toddler shooting crisis compared to how we've treated Muslims: Don't criminalize an entire demographic based on the actions of a small few.

But also, keep an eye on your damn kids.

mic.com/articles/142348/in-2016-toddlers-have-killed-more-people-in-the-us-than-muslim-terrorists-have#.KAN7QrPwb

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US-Senegal deal gives Washington permanent access to African country

02 May 2016

Sources familiar with the subject said the deal, which was clinched on Monday, would give US forces access to many areas in Senegal, such as airports and military installations, allegedly to respond to security or health needs.

The agreement allows for "the permanent presence of American soldiers in Senegal" and aims to "face up to the common difficulties in security" in the region, Senegal’s Foreign Minister Mankeur Ndiaye said during the signing ceremony alongside the US Ambassador to Dakar James Zumwalt.

Zumwalt, for his turn, said, "We believe that this agreement will help the US military and the Senegalese military reinforce our cooperation together to deal with threats to our common interests."

"This agreement is about access, is about coming when there is an urgent desire and when both sides agree," he added.

Some 40 American soldiers are currently deployed in Senegal, according to the US Africa Command. The US mission in Dakar said that number would not rise under the deal.

Washington has increased its troops in Africa in recent years under the cover of humanitarian aid or fighting terrorist groups; however, many political analysts believe the US military is actually expanding its presence all over the continent.

Reports say the US Army has in recent years developed a remarkably extensive network of over 60 outposts and access points in at least 34 African countries — more than 60 percent of the nations on the continent.

islamtimes.org/en/doc/news/536500/

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‘Disgraced’ asks provocative questions about being Muslim in America

02 May 2016

Range. It’s such a crucial quality for an actor to possess, and as it happens, a fine example of it is on display in Arena Stage’s crackling production of “Disgraced,” Ayad Akhtar’s deeply engrossing, Pulitzer Prize-winning play about a Muslim American lawyer divided against himself.

The particularly impressive conveyor of this trait on the stage of the Kreeger Theater is Nehal Joshi, who portrays Amir, a successful corporate lawyer who is forced, through a case involving an imam suspected of raising money for terrorists, to come to terms with his unresolved feelings about his own identity. Joshi, Arena audiences will recall, appeared as Ali Hakim, the wily Persian peddler in the company’s smash-hit revival of “Oklahoma!” in 2010 and again in 2011.

The impishness of that light­hearted, musical-comedy turn is nowhere to be discerned in Joshi’s proud, intensely watchable ­alpha-male Amir. And the transformation confirms an impression of Joshi as an actor to be reckoned with. The part has been written by Akhtar with both passion and a profound grasp of the contradictions America poses for a man of achievement who might be pulled out of airport security lines simply because of the color of his skin. In Joshi, “Disgraced” has found its ideal Amir, as the actor manages the play’s most difficult demand: sensitizing us to the character’s pain, even as we’re made aware of the damage he seems driven to inflict.

Around Joshi, director Timothy Douglas deploys a cast so assured that to my mind the production surpasses the distinguished Broadway incarnation that ran for 149 performances during 2014-2015. Over the course of 90 minutes, the five actors illuminate from five sharply differentiated perspectives why the overlays of class, geopolitics, culture and religious belief have so blurred with emotion any rational discussion of what it means to be Muslim in America.

The linchpin here is Akhtar’s story of misperception, regarding an unofficial appearance by Amir — an American-born Muslim of South Asian descent — at a court hearing for the accused imam. Akhtar builds into his plot a matrix of events that reveals how easily we all fall prey to our flawed assumptions; this pertains as much to the work of Amir’s white wife, Emily (the exceptional Ivy Vahanian), a painter inspired by Islamic art, as it does to the interracial couple (Felicia Curry and Joe Isenberg) who show up for a dinner party marked by more heat being generated in Amir and Emily’s gorgeous Manhattan living room than in their kitchen.

The central irony of “Disgraced” is that it is out of love for Emily and her conviction that a Muslim religious leader could not get justice in this country that Amir goes to the court and suffers as a result. Misidentified by a newspaper covering the hearing as a member of the imam’s legal team, Amir is suddenly all but a pariah at work, where the Jewish senior lawyers had been considering making him a name partner. The ensuing investigation of him turns up a discrepancy in his employee application that in less charged circumstances would have been shrugged off, but now raises suspicions about darker motives and where Amir’s allegiance really lies.

“Disgraced” deals deftly with how prejudice waylays Amir. It skillfully outlines the permutations of betrayal he experiences, and not only as they concern Amir’s ill-advised statement to a reporter at the hearing. Isenberg’s Isaac, a curator at the Whitney Museum of American Art who’s interested in Emily’s paintings and is married to Curry’s Jory, another hot shot at the law firm, are implicated in undermining Amir in different aspects of his personal and professional lives. That Akhtar makes Isaac Jewish and Jory African American adds tantalizingly to the pot of accusation and resentment that boils over, as Amir senses both his livelihood and his marriage collapsing.

Isenberg gives a subtle account of the patronizing Isaac, who’s not quite the cool­headed intellectual he attempts to project, and Curry, a fixture of musical theater in these parts, is here rewarded with a juicy role that takes splendid advantage of her formidable dramatic gifts. Again, in her case, range proves to be an actor’s best friend. The fifth cast member, Samip Raval, does admirable work as Abe, a young, previously assimilated relative of Amir who is gravitating to Islamist extremism.

Douglas wraps the tension of “Disgraced” in an elegant design: Tony Cisek’s handsome apartment set reflects the arriviste appurtenances of a Manhattan corporate lawyer’s life, down to the abstract stone and metal sculptures on pedestals and walls, and Toni-Leslie James’s costumes capture the arty Emily’s casual stylishness and Jory’s more aggressively tailored fashion sense. The polish of Michael Gilliam’s lighting design, meanwhile, is just what is needed to draw a spectator’s eye back to Emily’s buoyant geometric painting over the fireplace, a work that seems to betoken her love of Amir.

The last fading funnel of light, though, is reserved for Joshi, and rightly so. Amir pays a steep price for sticking his neck out, in a nation whose interest in trying to understand him seems to be dimming. And now, one wonders, how as a society we will ever manage to turn the light back up again.

washingtonpost.com/entertainment/theater_dance/disgraced-asks-provocative-questions-about-being-muslim-in-america/2016/05/02/9b597040-0f0e-11e6-bfa1-4efa856caf2a_story.html

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Africa

ISIS SELLING CHICKENS AND EGGS IN LIBYA'S SIRTE AMID FINANCIAL TROUBLES

MAY 2, 2016

The Islamic State militant group (ISIS) has taken to selling chickens and eggs in the streets of its de-facto North African capital as its cash reserves continue to be damaged by instability in Libya and the U.S.-led coalition campaign against the group in Iraq and Syria.

“When ISIS took over Sirte, they seized many properties, including farms, and some of these are very large chicken farms,” a resident of Sirte who fled the city, named only as Ali, told Middle East Eye.

“Relatives tell me ISIS people can now be seen standing in the streets in their black outfits with their faces covered, selling both the eggs and the chickens,” a resident of Sirte who fled the city told Middle East Eye. “And they are selling the chickens for a very cheap price of just one or two dinars.”

ISIS is besieged by various international parties in Iraq, Syria and Libya and can only generate revenue from taxing the residents living under its control or through illicit means, such as the sale of antiquities captured in the countries it has swept across, natural resources from its captured oil fields and its sex slave trade.

Banks have closed in Sirte and there is no telephone coverage in the city. The lack of access to funds and ISIS’ control of resources in Sirte has created a black market trade in the coastal city.

Some residents travel to the nearby region of Al-Jufra to buy cigarettes for normal Libyan prices because of the extortionate rates under ISIS’ backdoor market, a man claiming to be a resident of Sirte, in his thirties, tells Newsweek. ISIS publicly state that the smoking of cigarettes is illegal, punished by flogging, but sell the product themselves to make money from citizens of the city.

“[Al-Jufra] is the closest city to Sirte. It’s the ordinary prices in all of the cities except Sirte,” the man says. “If they capture you with a cigarette for first time, you will be flogged, second time, flogged, third time, maybe killed.”

The radical Islamist group is imposing taxes on shopkeepers and owners of coastal property owners as well as its conservative brand of Islam. In recent months, the group has released images of crucifixions, floggings and executions as it seeks to achieve the same culture of fear it established in the Syrian city of Raqqa and Iraqi city of Mosul in its sweep across the two countries in June 2014.

newsweek.com/isis-selling-chickens-and-eggs-libyas-sirte-amid-financial-troubles-454820

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Black in Algeria? Then You’d Better Be Muslim

MAY 2, 2016

ORAN, Algeria — For a few years now, families of migrants from sub-Saharan Africa have been gathering at major street crossings in the large cities of northern Algeria. They come to beg for alms, wearing grotesque outfits: oversize veils for the women, even little girls; cotton djellabas for the men; prayer beads ostentatiously displayed. They say “Allah” too readily and misquote verses from the Koran.

Many black migrants, including those who are not Muslim, are deploying symbols of Islam to appeal to Algerians’ sense of charity. Why? Because poverty helps decode culture better than reflection does, and migrants, lacking shelter and food, are quick to realize that in Algeria there often is no empathy between human beings, only empathy between people of the same religion.

Another example: In October a Cameroonian woman was gang-raped in Oran by a group of men that threatened her with a dog. When she tried to file a complaint with the authorities, she was rejected on two main grounds: She had no papers, and she wasn’t a Muslim.

The Marie-Simone case became a cause célèbre, and the victim, with the support of some Algerians, eventually obtained justice. But it remains an exception.

The situation wasn’t always like this. For decades Algerians mostly treated blacks with discreet aloofness; only recently has that turned into violent rejection. There are no reliable official statistics, but many migrants here come from Mali, Niger and Libya, and their numbers have increased over the past few years, partly due to instability in neighboring countries, especially Libya, once a main hub of immigration from Africa to Europe.

In Europe, migrants can try to play on the humanitarianism and guilty consciences of their hosts, but in Algeria these days, the Other is visible only through the prism of faith. In the West, racism sees skin color; in Arab countries, it sees religion.

Yet these two forms of racism are related: Westerners deny (or accuse) Arabs, and Arabs in turn deny (or accuse) black Africans. Is there a causal link? Is this a domino effect of negation? Perhaps. In any event, the parallel, the mimesis, is troubling.

But such complexities matter little in this country, and are easily ignored. Although many Algerian Muslims are neither sectarian nor racist, they don’t have much influence among the elites or over public debate. Extremist positions crowd out more moderate religious views.

Partly as a result, in Algeria, as in other Arab countries, discourse in the media and among intellectuals is compartmentalized. On the one hand, there are virulent articles about racism in Europe describing the “Jungle,” a migrant detention center in Calais, France, as something of a concentration camp, or presenting fallacious analyses: “No Work in France if You’re Arab or African,” said one headline in an Islamist newspaper in February. On the other hand, there is no shortage of Ku Klux Klan-worthy arguments about the threat posed by blacks, their perceived lack of civic-mindedness and the crimes and diseases they purportedly bring with them.

This duplicity is odd, but above all it’s convenient, and devastating. After a Nigerien migrant killed an Algerian in Ouargla, one of the main cities of the country’s Sahara region, in early March, clashes broke out between locals and sub-Saharans. News of the killing quickly escalated into a popular vendetta, complete with a hunt for migrants through the streets (leading to dozens wounded) and an attack on a refugee camp.

The authorities ordered a massive expulsion of migrants to a transit town further south — the standard prelude to deportation from the country. Similar events occurred later in Bechar, in western Algeria.

This wave of xenophobia, though unprecedented in its violence, wreaked havoc in Algeria’s Sahara region without arousing any large-scale objections. Denunciations of racism are reserved for the crimes of the West. What counts as abuse there seems like a necessity here.

But how does one come to practice what one denounces in others, and apparently without feeling guilty? How do victims of racism develop a racist consciousness of their own?

The secular and leftist elites of Algeria have become myopic from looking at the world solely through their colonial trauma. Perceiving sub-Saharan Africans either as former subjects decolonized or as the agents of decolonization, they can only defend them or idealize them. Blacks are no longer even seen as different; they’re just a representation of one’s own preoccupations.

In their anti-Western discourse, Algeria’s bien-pensants think they protect black people by denouncing the prevailing racism. Yet they would never visit the dreary refugee camps, much less live with blacks, let blacks marry their daughters or shake hands with blacks on a hot day. Secular Algerians often refer to sub-Saharan people as “Africans,” as if the Maghreb were on a different continent.

Religious fundamentalists are no less racist: On the occasion of a soccer match between Algeria and Mali in November 2014, the Islamist daily Echourouk published a photograph of some of the Malian club’s black fans under the caption, “No greetings, no welcome. AIDS behind you, Ebola ahead of you.” But the prejudices of fundamentalists lead them to a different conclusion, simple and monstrous: Either the Other is a Muslim, or he is not at all.

Religious conservatives, like the secular elites, see blacks as victims of injustices perpetrated by white colonizers, but for them redress can only come through Allah. Their propaganda often refers to a precedent from the mythology of Islam’s early days: Bilal, the black Abyssinian slave whose religious conversion led to his emancipation.

Except that for every Bilal there are millions of other blacks, including converts to Islam, who have stayed trapped in servitude for generations. The very subject of slavery in Arab societies is still taboo today, or it is eclipsed by condemnation of Western slavery.

The fact remains that for blacks, embracing Islam is no guarantee of safety. A crime committed by one of them is enough to get hundreds expelled. The punitive expeditions in Bechar erupted on a Friday, the day of Muslims’ main weekly prayer, after sermons calling for purification in response to migrants’ mores, which are seen as loose. For religious conservatives, culture diverts black migrants from strict religious orthodoxy — even sub-Saharans who are Muslim aren’t really Muslim.

nytimes.com/2016/05/03/opinion/kamel-daoud-black-in-algeria-then-youd-better-be-muslim.html

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Southeast Asia

Detention Powers Stir Concern Over Indonesia Terror Law

May 3, 2016

A lawmaker involved in vetting Indonesia's proposed counter-terrorism law says a contentious provision allowing detention without trial for six months could undermine the fight against Islamic extremism.

Hanafi Rais, vice chairman of the parliamentary committee debating the current draft of the law, said Tuesday that permitting lengthy detention in undisclosed prisons would give security forces powers that could be easily abused.

Speaking at a panel on extremism, Rais said parliament should pass a law that strengthens the capacity of police to prevent attacks without giving the state excessive power that could foster support for radicals.

He said lawmakers were "stunned" by the death of suspected militant Siyono in police custody earlier this year, which revealed a lack of professionalism in Indonesia's elite counter-terrorism squad.

Efforts to strengthen laws against militant activity gathered momentum after a suicide bombing in the Indonesian capital in January which killed eight people, including four attackers who claimed allegiance to the Islamic State group.

It was the first major attack by extremists in the world's most populous Muslim nation in six years and raised questions about whether the country was facing a new threat despite the sustained crackdown that decimated the Jemaah Islamiyah network responsible for the 2002 Bali bombings.

Rais said the new law could be ready for parliament to vote on in October. He predicted there would be a "tough" debate that could result in a reduction to the six-month detention provision.

abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory/detention-powers-stir-concern-indonesia-terror-law-38834069

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Fire destroys 50 shelters in Myanmar camp for displaced: witness

May 3, 2016

A fire destroyed about 50 shelters on Tuesday in a camp for internally displaced people in Myanmar's western Rakhine State, a witness said.

Camps in the area largely house members of the marginalized Rohingya Muslim community, who were displaced following fighting between Buddhists and Muslims in 2012.

The fire broke out at the Baw Du Pha 2 camp near the state capital, Sittwe, according to Khin Maung Myint, 30, who was at the scene.

Firefighters had extinguished the blaze and were treating some injured people, he said. The cause of the fire was not known.

Authorities in the area were not immediately available for comment.

About six families typically live in one of the shelters that were destroyed in the blaze.

Myanmar's Rohingya population is stateless and thousands of them have fled persecution and poverty, often by boat to other parts of Southeast Asia.

Some 125,000 Rohingya remain displaced and face severe travel restrictions while living in camps.

reuters.com/article/us-myanmar-fire-idUSKCN0XU0DI

 

URL: http://newageislam.com/islamic-world-news/new-age-islam-news-bureau/syrian-army-turns-raqqa-districts-into-hell-for-isil-terrorists/d/107184

 

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