New Age Islam
Wed Dec 02 2020, 07:55 AM

Islamic World News ( 25 Nov 2016, NewAgeIslam.Com)

Taliban May Have Moved Leadership Council from Pakistan to Afghanistan

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photo: The top Taliban leaders in the group’s leadership council may have abandoned Pakistan and have likely moved to Afghanistan, it has been reported.

 

Syrian Islamists Launch Chemical Attack On Kurdish District in Aleppo

Germany Records Drop in "Islamic State" Recruits Traveling To Iraq And Syria

Zakir Naik Plays Victim, Dubs IRF Ban 'Communal Move'

4 Militants, 2 Pakistani Soldiers Killed In Attack on Mosque in Northwest Pakistan

South Asia

Taliban May Have Moved Leadership Council from Pakistan to Afghanistan

Pakistanis among 5 ISIS militants killed in East of Afghanistan

At Least Five Killed, 27 Wounded In Afghan Triple Bombing

Pakistan’s army chief calls Abdullah for farewell discussion

Afghanistan strongly reacts on Pakistani military ceremony along Durand Line

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Arab World

Syrian Islamists Launch Chemical Attack On Kurdish District in Aleppo

Popular Uprising against Terrorists Starts in Northern Damascus

Custodian of the shrine of Sunni saint Sheikh Abdul Qadir Jilani calls for Sunni-Shia unity

Yazidi Kurds Risk All to Flee Islamic State in Iraq’s North

Commander: Yemeni Army Advances Towards Najran, Riyadh Recruits African Mercenaries

Aleppo: Army Brings over 80 percent of Bostan Al-Pasha under Control

PM: Iraqi Forces Lay Full Siege on ISIL in Mosul

Syria: US, Saudi Arabia, Turkey Ask Jeish al-Fatah to Gather Strength against Army in Aleppo

DM: Iran to Purchase Sukhoi Su-30 Fighter Jets from Russia

Syrian Army 3 Km Away from Al-Bab in Aleppo Province as Tensions Rise Between Damascus, Ankara

Iran Plans to Expand Naval Build-Up to Far Seas, Including Yemen, Syria Waters

Army Commander: Iran's Overhauled Giant Warship, Kilo-Class Submarine Ready to Launch

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Europe

Germany Records Drop in "Islamic State" Recruits Traveling To Iraq And Syria

ISIS Encouraged Muslims to Betray Christians, Bishop Says

Arrest of 4 thwarted 'imminent' terror attack in France: Officials

JK Rowling sends Harry Potter books to Syrian girl

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India

Zakir Naik Plays Victim, Dubs IRF Ban 'Communal Move'

Why RBI's Move to Implement Islamic Banking Is Exhaustive and Thoroughly Mature

Three security personnel, two terrorists killed in Kashmir

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Pakistan

4 Militants, 2 Pakistani Soldiers Killed In Attack on Mosque in Northwest Pakistan

Pakistan Allows Russia Use of Gwadar Port under CPEC

Takfiris killed senior Pakistani Shia journalist and his son in Sahiwal

Chinese navy ships to be deployed at Gwadar: Pak navy official

Native movements to determine K-issue, says Sartaj Aziz

Terrorism: Bill Passed To Enhance Punishments

Two killed in gun attack on oil Exploration Company’s vehicle in Gwadar

Pakistan joins Ashgabat Agreement, Lapis Lazuli Corridor

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North America

One By One, ISIS Social Media Experts Are Killed As Result Of FBI Program

Shia Fighters Demand US Explanation on Rocket Attack at Meeting

UW Muslim student suffers concussion in possible hate-crime assault

San Jose: Islamic center target of hate-filled letter

Henry Kissinger's stunning revelations about Pakistan in the lead up to the 1971 Indo-Pak war

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Mideast

Al Azhar Condemns Zionist Regime for Adhan Ban in Al Quds

Iranian Leader Renews Warning to Muslims over Danger of Takfiri Terrorism

Israeli forces close off Ibrahimi Mosque as thousands of Israelis attend religious celebration

Erdogan, Putin discuss Syria as Turkish-backed rebels push to Al Bab

Warplanes hit Islamic State targets in northern Syria: Turkish army

Turkish warplanes destroyed 12 Islamic State targets while one Turkish soldier was killed

Grand Ayatollah Sistani: Hilla terrorists to pay for carnage

Palestinians, foreigners help Israel fight fire

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Southeast Asia

PM Calls On Youths to Help Spread Message of Authentic Islam

Indonesia arrest militant planning bomb strike on Myanmar embassy over plight of Rohingya Muslims

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Africa

Swaziland Marriage Law Leaves Muslims in Legal Quagmire

Islamic State claims deadly attack on Egyptian soldiers

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Australia

Australia seeks extradition of Islamic State terrorist Neil Prakash

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau

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Taliban may have moved leadership council from Pakistan to Afghanistan

By KHAAMA PRESS - Sat Nov 26 2016

The top Taliban leaders in the group’s leadership council may have abandoned Pakistan and have likely moved to Afghanistan, it has been reported.

A spokesman for the group Zabiullah Mujahd confirmed to Associated Press that the leadership council was relocated some months ago.

Mujahid did not provide further information regarding the exact date and location within the country where the leadership council was relocated.

However, another Taliban official has said the council has been shifted to southern Helmand province of Afghanistan.

A senior Taliban commander, Asad Afghan, told The Associated Press the move would consolidate the insurgents’ military gains and help lay the ground for a dominant position if and when peace talks resume.

“We are in the last stages of war and are moving forward,” said Afghan, who is closely involved in formulating the insurgents’ war strategy.

“We are the real government in Afghanistan,” he said. The move across the border would give the movement “more focus” at a time it needs to be “quick, clear and more secure about our decisions.”

This comes as the Afghan officials earlier said the group is looking to shift its leadership council in Helmand province by intensifying attacks on key districts of the province.

The move if confirmed would reflect the growing international pressure as well as the Afghan government on Pakistan to take actions against the leadership councils of the Taliban and Haqqani network based in key cities of Pakistan, including Peshawar and Quetta.

The Afghan officials, including President Ghani, has on numerous occasions criticized Pakistan for remaining reckless to act against the group in its soil from where they plan and coordinate attacks in Afghanistan.

In an interview with a private TV channel few months earlier, President Ghani even went on to say that the Afghan government can even provide details regarding the addresses of the Taliban leadership council in Pakistan.

khaama.com/taliban-may-have-moved-leadership-council-from-pakistan-to-afghanistan-02368

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Syrian Islamists launch chemical attack on Kurdish district in Aleppo

November 26, 2016

Syria’s leading Kurdish politician rejects Turkish arrest warrant, calls Erdogan ‘a Sultan’

Aleppo – Syrian Islamist rebels attacked Sheikh Maqsoud District on Friday, using conventional and chemical weapons. The outlying district is located in northern Aleppo city and is controlled by the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG).

Militants from the Islamic Movement of Ahrar al-Sham and Jabhat Fateh al-Sham have reportedly shelled the Kurdish enclave with rockets that contained mustard gas. Jabhat Fateh al-Sham is an offshoot of al-Qaeda.

The chemical barrage killed at least six people, including two children. Those numbers will likely rise as more than 15 suffocation cases were reported in Sheikh Maqsoud following the attack.

“The wounded were immediately transferred to a makeshift hospital run by the Kurdish Red Crescent in Sheikh Maqsoud,” a local media activist told ARA News.

Doctor Mihemed Hamke, the director of a hospital in Sheikh Maqsoud District, told ARA News that the initial investigation showed that the victims were exposed to a chemical agent during the shelling on Friday.

“The injured suffered from suffocation, skin burning and vomiting. These are obvious symptoms of exposure to mustard gas,” Dr Hamke explained.

Sheikh Maqsoud has been under a partial siege by Syrian Islamists for over three years. Violence has recently intensified in the district as the YPG have tried to establish a buffer zone.

“Armed groups surrounding the Sheikh Maqsoud District of Aleppo city have repeatedly carried out indiscriminate attacks that have struck civilian homes, streets, markets and mosques,” Amnesty International said in an earlier report about developments in the Kurdish district.

Amnesty International added the militants surrounding Sheikh Maqsoud have been “killing and injuring civilians and displaying a shameful disregard for human life.”

Friday’s attack was not the first time Syrian Islamists have deployed chemical weapons in Sheikh Maqsoud.

On March 8, the same groups struck the Kurdish district with a phosphorus agent, causing dozens of civilian casualties. Analysts believe that the militants may be using the district to field test their strategic weapons.

“Extremist groups have launched dozens of rockets filled with a yellow phosphorus element,” the Kurdish YPG leadership said in a statement at the time.

Human rights activist Rezan Hiddo has appealed to the international community and human rights organizations to intervene and stop the attacks on Sheikh Maqsoud. He emphasized that the Kurdish district suffers from an acute shortage of medicine.

“We do not see any sympathy with the Kurdish civilians who suffer under those barbaric chemical attacks in Aleppo,” Hiddo told ARA News. “The lives of hundreds of Kurdish children are at risk.”

aranews.net/2016/11/syrian-islamists-launch-chemical-attack-on-kurdish-district-in-aleppo/?

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Germany records drop in "Islamic State" recruits traveling to Iraq and Syria

 

A new study by Germany's security services has shown the number of people traveling from the country to join the IS is declining. But officials are still worried about some Muslim communities with Islamist leanings.

The federal police and Germany's domestic intelligence agency, the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution, found in a joint study that a smaller number of "Islamic State" (IS) supporters were traveling to Syria and Iraq.

Klaus Bouillon, head of the Conference of Ministers of the Interior, told the German dpa news agency that nearly 100 supporters were traveling to IS war zones during "peak times."  That number had dropped down to less than five a month more recently.

"IS" was recruiting potential supporters via the internet and among Salafist groups, Bouillon said. Meetings on Islam and activities involving the distribution of the Koran were also used to pick up sympathizers, he added.

But German authorities were employing effective strategies to combat the crisis, Bouillon's colleague Joachim Hermann, interior minister of Bavaria, told dpa news agency.

"Over two years ago, we agreed we would prevent people planning to travel to civil war regions in Syria and Iraq from leaving the country," Hermann said, adding that German state interior ministers had done so and that officials seized passports and identity documents of these potential supporters.

Police conduct raids on IS-linked Islamists

But despite the decreasing numbers, individuals are still trying to join "IS" in Iraq and Syria, Hermann said. He also said that officials wished for more cooperation with mosques in Germany, adding that many Muslim communities did not have any affinity towards "IS" or terrorism.

"The majority of mosques are peaceful," he said. However, there were several Islamist groups that were problematic from the point of view of domestic security. The state has a clear expectation that these communities will cooperate with security officials, he said, adding that "some did, but others promoted radical opinions."

dw.com/en/germany-records-drop-in-islamic-state-recruits-traveling-to-iraq-and-syria/a-36533052?

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Zakir Naik plays victim, dubs IRF ban 'communal move'

Mohammed Wajihuddin | TNN | Updated: Nov 26, 2016

MUMBAI: Controversial televangelist Zakir Naik has called the ban on his NGO Islamic Research Foundation (IRF) "a communal decision". In a letter released on Friday through his spokesperson, his second since being accused of radicalising one of the perpetrators of the July 1 Dhaka cafe attack, Naik said IRF was banned without any agency questioning him.

"...not a single time was I questioned or given a chance to explain," he writes. "Their agenda is open and clear: implicate me by hook or by crook."

"The decision to ban IRF was taken in the middle of the demonetisation fiasco, as the country reeled under the self-imposed cash crunch. I won't be surprised if this ban was meant to distract media from what was going on in the country."

Recently, the government banned IRF under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, froze the bank account of Islamic International School, while NIA has asked banks to freeze accounts of Naik, IRF and associate companies.

Playing the Muslim victimhood card, Naik said IRF was slapped with UAPA because "the name of the religion has been made synonymous with violence".

Naik, like in his previous letter sent on September 10, alleged it was Indian Muslims who were under attack. "It is an attack on whom I represent, the Indian Muslims."

Naik, however, expressed his faith in the Indian judiciary. A source said Naik wrote this letter from an African country which he is touring currently.

timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Zakir-Naik-plays-victim-dubs-IRF-ban-communal-move/articleshow/55628888.cms

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4 militants, 2 Pakistani soldiers killed in attack on mosque

AP | Nov 26, 2016

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan's military and officials say a group of militants have attacked a mosque at an army facility in northwest Pakistan, triggering a shootout in which four insurgents and two soldiers were killed.

The army in a statement said 14 troops were also wounded in Saturday's suicide attack on Ghalani Camp in Mohmand tribal region bordering Afghanistan.

It said the attackers wanted to enter the camp and started firing after they reached the mosque, where residents and a large number of recruits were present. It said the attackers were ``contained in the outer courtyard'' of the mosque, and subsequently all four died.

Two security officials also confirmed the account and said a search operation is underway to trace and arrest any accomplices of the attackers.

timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/pakistan/4-militants-2-Pakistani-soldiers-killed-in-attack-on-mosque/articleshow/55631646.cms

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South Asia

Taliban may have moved leadership council from Pakistan to Afghanistan

By KHAAMA PRESS - Sat Nov 26 2016

The top Taliban leaders in the group’s leadership council may have abandoned Pakistan and have likely moved to Afghanistan, it has been reported.

A spokesman for the group Zabiullah Mujahd confirmed to Associated Press that the leadership council was relocated some months ago.

Mujahid did not provide further information regarding the exact date and location within the country where the leadership council was relocated.

However, another Taliban official has said the council has been shifted to southern Helmand province of Afghanistan.

A senior Taliban commander, Asad Afghan, told The Associated Press the move would consolidate the insurgents’ military gains and help lay the ground for a dominant position if and when peace talks resume.

“We are in the last stages of war and are moving forward,” said Afghan, who is closely involved in formulating the insurgents’ war strategy.

“We are the real government in Afghanistan,” he said. The move across the border would give the movement “more focus” at a time it needs to be “quick, clear and more secure about our decisions.”

This comes as the Afghan officials earlier said the group is looking to shift its leadership council in Helmand province by intensifying attacks on key districts of the province.

The move if confirmed would reflect the growing international pressure as well as the Afghan government on Pakistan to take actions against the leadership councils of the Taliban and Haqqani network based in key cities of Pakistan, including Peshawar and Quetta.

The Afghan officials, including President Ghani, has on numerous occasions criticized Pakistan for remaining reckless to act against the group in its soil from where they plan and coordinate attacks in Afghanistan.

In an interview with a private TV channel few months earlier, President Ghani even went on to say that the Afghan government can even provide details regarding the addresses of the Taliban leadership council in Pakistan.

khaama.com/taliban-may-have-moved-leadership-council-from-pakistan-to-afghanistan-02368

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Pakistanis among 5 ISIS militants killed in East of Afghanistan

By KHAAMA PRESS - Sat Nov 26 2016

militants-killed-in-nangarharAt least five loyalists of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) terrorist group were killed during the joint operations in eastern Nangarhar province of Afghanistan.

The provincial police commandment said the operations were jointly conducted in Pacher Agam district, leaving at least 5 militants dead, including 2 Pakistani loyalists of ISIS terrorist group.

Local security officials said Pakistani identity cards, several weapons, including rocket launchers and machine guns were left in the area.

The Ministry of Interior (MoI) also confirmed the operations were launched in Pacher Agam to clear the district from the militants presence.

“Afghan National Defense and Security Forces launched a joint clearance operation in the Pachiragam district of eastern Nangarhar province,” a statement by MoI said.

The statement further added “As a result of this joint operation, five Daesh terrorists were killed and four other Daesh terrorists were wounded.”

“During the raid, join forces seized one rocket launcher, five different types of rifles and some amount of ammunitions,” the statement said, adding that the the clearance operation still continues in insecure villages of Pachiragam district.

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

khaama.com/pakistanis-among-5-isis-militants-killed-in-east-of-afghanistan-02365

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At least five killed, 27 wounded in Afghan triple bombing

AFP | Nov 25, 2016

JALALABAD, AFGHANISTAN: At least five people were killed and 27 others wounded in a triple bombing in eastern Afghanistan's Nangarhar province Friday, provincial officials said.

There was no claim of responsibility for the three bombings in Jalalabad, the capital of Nangarhar province, which is a hotbed of IS militancy.

"Five people were martyred in three explosions in different parts of Jalalabad of Nangarhar province this morning," provincial spokesperson Ataullah Khogyani told AFP.

Khogyani said the first blast was a roadside bomb which detonated outside the house of a senior prison official, Abdul Hakim, killing him and a child and wounding six others.

The second blast came outside the fire brigade office -- from where the first rescuers are usually dispatched after an attack -- killing three and wounding 21.

Khogyani said the third blast came as people gathered at Hakim's house after the first blast, but there were no casualties.

Dr Najib Kamawal, director of the Nangarhar civil hospital confirmed the toll.

The IS group appears to be intensifying attacks against the government and civilians as Afghan forces, backed by NATO air strikes, step up operations against them in Nangarhar.

Last week IS claimed a massive suicide blast targeting Shiites in Kabul that killed at least 27 people.

In late October, a suicide bomber killed at least six people at a gathering of tribal elders seeking aid for war-displaced families in Jalalabad.

As well as the emerging threat from IS loyalists, who are making gradual inroads across Afghanistan, Taliban fighters are active in Nangarhar.

timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/south-asia/At-least-five-killed-27-wounded-in-Afghan-triple-bombing/articleshow/55622544.cms

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Pakistan’s army chief calls Abdullah for farewell discussion

By KHAAMA PRESS - Sat Nov 26 2016

The Pakistan’s chief of army staff General Raheel Sharif called the Afghan Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah for farewell discussion last night.

“Pakistan Chief of Army Staff Raheel Sharif made a phone call to Chief Executive Abdullah as a farewell discussion last night,” the Office of the Chief Executive said in a Twitter post.

No further details were given regarding the discussions between the two sides.

However, media reports emerging from Pakistan suggest that the two sides discussed improvement of bilateral ties between Kabul and Islamabad.

The Pakistani military informed regarding the retirement of Gen. Sharif last week with a spokesman for Inter Service Public Relations Gen. Asim Bajwa saying “COAS kicks off his farewell visits…”

The confirmation by the Pakistani military came amid rife speculation regarding an extension in the COAS’ term after former military ruler Musharraf called for an extension in his tenure, warning against a change in the military leadership.

Gen. Sharif is expected to pass on the baton of command of the army to the next army chief at a ceremony by the end of this month.

According to local media reports, Gen. Sharif would be the first army chief to retire on time in two decades. His predecessors Gen Kayani and Gen Pervez Musharraf got extensions, while Gen Jehangir Karamat was sent home prematurely.

khaama.com/pakistans-army-chief-calls-abdullah-for-farewell-discussion-02367

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Afghanistan strongly reacts on Pakistani military ceremony along Durand Line

By KHAAMA PRESS - Sat Nov 26 2016

Afghanistan showed a strong reaction on Pakistani military’s flag-lowering ceremony along the Durand Line, calling it an inappropriate, provocative, and against the previous bilateral commitments.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Afghanistan (MoFA) said the Afghan government offers its strong protest regarding the flag-hoisting and a special ceremony by Pakistani military along the zero point of the Durand Line.

Warning that such ceremonies could deteriorate the relations between the two countries, MoFA said the relations between Kabul and Islamabad is in a sensitive situation and such moves could further spark tensions.

MoFA further added that the residents of the two sides of Durand Line are having historic brotherly relations, insisting that Pakistan should concentrate more on the fight against terrorism rather holding special military ceremonies.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs also protested regarding pressures brought on residents of the other side of Durand Line to obtain visa for travelling to Afghanistan.

The issue of Durand Line remains controversial between the two countries as Pakistan insists that the line is an international border and has been formally recognized by the international community, including the United States.

Tensions have intensified along the Durand Line on numerous occasions with the Afghan and Pakistani forces engaging a clash earlier in the month of July after the Afghan border forces prevented the Pakistani security forces to work on the construction of a gate in Torkham.

The two sides engaged in deadly clashes for at least three times before diplomatic efforts were put in place to resolve the issue through negotations.

Both the Afghan and Pakistani security forces suffered casualties during the clashes that led to the closure of the crossing.

khaama.com/afghanistan-strongly-reacts-on-pakistani-military-ceremony-along-durand-line-02366

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Arab World

Syrian Islamists launch chemical attack on Kurdish district in Aleppo

November 26, 2016

Syria’s leading Kurdish politician rejects Turkish arrest warrant, calls Erdogan ‘a Sultan’

Aleppo – Syrian Islamist rebels attacked Sheikh Maqsoud District on Friday, using conventional and chemical weapons. The outlying district is located in northern Aleppo city and is controlled by the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG).

Militants from the Islamic Movement of Ahrar al-Sham and Jabhat Fateh al-Sham have reportedly shelled the Kurdish enclave with rockets that contained mustard gas. Jabhat Fateh al-Sham is an offshoot of al-Qaeda.

The chemical barrage killed at least six people, including two children. Those numbers will likely rise as more than 15 suffocation cases were reported in Sheikh Maqsoud following the attack.

“The wounded were immediately transferred to a makeshift hospital run by the Kurdish Red Crescent in Sheikh Maqsoud,” a local media activist told ARA News.

Doctor Mihemed Hamke, the director of a hospital in Sheikh Maqsoud District, told ARA News that the initial investigation showed that the victims were exposed to a chemical agent during the shelling on Friday.

“The injured suffered from suffocation, skin burning and vomiting. These are obvious symptoms of exposure to mustard gas,” Dr Hamke explained.

Sheikh Maqsoud has been under a partial siege by Syrian Islamists for over three years. Violence has recently intensified in the district as the YPG have tried to establish a buffer zone.

“Armed groups surrounding the Sheikh Maqsoud District of Aleppo city have repeatedly carried out indiscriminate attacks that have struck civilian homes, streets, markets and mosques,” Amnesty International said in an earlier report about developments in the Kurdish district.

Amnesty International added the militants surrounding Sheikh Maqsoud have been “killing and injuring civilians and displaying a shameful disregard for human life.”

Friday’s attack was not the first time Syrian Islamists have deployed chemical weapons in Sheikh Maqsoud.

On March 8, the same groups struck the Kurdish district with a phosphorus agent, causing dozens of civilian casualties. Analysts believe that the militants may be using the district to field test their strategic weapons.

“Extremist groups have launched dozens of rockets filled with a yellow phosphorus element,” the Kurdish YPG leadership said in a statement at the time.

Human rights activist Rezan Hiddo has appealed to the international community and human rights organizations to intervene and stop the attacks on Sheikh Maqsoud. He emphasized that the Kurdish district suffers from an acute shortage of medicine.

“We do not see any sympathy with the Kurdish civilians who suffer under those barbaric chemical attacks in Aleppo,” Hiddo told ARA News. “The lives of hundreds of Kurdish children are at risk.”

aranews.net/2016/11/syrian-islamists-launch-chemical-attack-on-kurdish-district-in-aleppo/?

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Popular Uprising against Terrorists Starts in Northern Damascus

November 26, 2016

TEHRAN (FNA)- A large number of civilians took to the streets in the town of al-Tal North of the capital and called on the militants to join the peace agreement with the Syrian government or leave the town.

The demonstrators gathered in front of Jameh (grand) mosque in the town and chanted slogans against the militant groups, including "No to War and Yes to Peace" and called for the complete pullout of the militants from their town.

The Syrian army troops started their offensive on terrorists' positions in al-Tal and advanced significantly against the militants, laying siege on the town.

Local sources in al-Tal said on Thursday that concurrent with the start of army's operation in al-Tal region, the town's peace committee held a meeting with army's field commander in the region.

A field source said on Friday that the army gave the Fatah al-Sham Front (previously known as the al-Nusra Front) a final ultimatum to fully surrender areas under their control in Northern Damascus.

"The army soldiers have completely encircled the small town of al-Tal and they are currently awaiting orders to storm Fatah al-Sham's positions deployed there if the terrorists do not surrender," the source said.

A delegation from the army met with the commanders of Fatah Al-Sham to discuss the terms of surrender.

Based on previous deals, the Syrian Army's High Command will likely offer amnesty or relocation of the terrorists to Idlib in exchange for surrendering the town; this was the case for Al-Qodsiyeh and al-Hamah, Khan al-Sheih, Elhamiyah and many others.     

en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13950906000614

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Custodian of the shrine of Sunni saint Sheikh Abdul Qadir Jilani calls for Sunni-Shia unity

November 26, 2016

Dr Mahmoud Khalf al Essawi, custodian of the shrine of Sunni saint Sheikh Abdul Qadir Jilani in Baghdad, has stressed on the unity of Sunni and Shia Muslims in a meeting with a delegation of Majlis-e-Wahdat-e-Muslimeen (MWM) that called on him during Iraq visit.

(AhlulBayt News Agency) - Dr Mahmoud Khalf al Essawi, custodian of the shrine of Sunni saint Sheikh Abdul Qadir Jilani in Baghdad, has stressed on the unity of Sunni and Shia Muslims in a meeting with a delegation of Majlis-e-Wahdat-e-Muslimeen (MWM) that called on him during Iraq visit.

Allama Raja Nasir, head of the MWM led a delegation that also invited Dr Essawi to visit Pakistan and the latter accepted the invitation promising that he would visit within next few months, according to the MWM sources.

“Sunni and Shia Muslims are just like two wings of an eagle and together they could take eagle to the sky height but without any one of them the eagle of Islam cannot fly high,” he said urging the Muslims to bury their sectarian differences to establish Islamic Ummah unity.

The custodian of Baghdad Sunni saint shrine said that takfiris including Daesh were khawarij (aliens to Islam) and they had nothing to do with Sunni Muslims because Sunnis detest the ideology of hatred and intolerance being practiced by takfiris who perpetrate massacre of innocent human beings. He said whoever preaches violence should be condemned without any sectarian bias.

Dr Essawi lauded the efforts of MWM chief Raja Nasir for unity of Muslims in Pakistan and thanked him on meeting him and inviting him to visit Pakistan.

MWM’s delegation comprised of deputy secretaries general Dr Shafqat Sheerazi and Syed Zaheerul Hassan Naqvi. Mr. Sheerazi is incharge of foreign affairs of the MWM.

en.abna24.com/service/middle-east-west-asia/archive/2016/11/26/794332/story.html?

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Yazidi Kurds risk all to flee Islamic State in Iraq’s north

Posted on November 26, 2016

DUHOK, Iraq’s Kurdistan region,— When shells began crashing around the town of Tel Afar as Shi’ite militias brought the fight to Islamic State in northern Iraq, Abu Faraj saw his chance to escape captivity.

He and 17 other members of the Kurdish Yazidi religious community, one of Iraq’s oldest minorities, moved to the town’s outskirts while their Islamic State captors were busy with the battle.

Four days later, in the early evening, they fled. The group, which included women and children, walked overnight through the desert and hours later reached Kurdish-controlled territory — and safety.

“I remember the exact time we decided to flee, it was 6:50 p.m.,” said Abu Faraj, 23, who had waited more than two years for that moment.

“We had to walk in single file through the desert and follow each other’s footsteps in case the area was mined,” he said, giving an alias for fear of identification by Islamic State militants, who still hold some of his relatives.

The group, including Abu Faraj’s wife and two daughters, were captured when Islamic State overran Sinjar in northern Iraq in August 2014.

The insurgents systematically killed, captured and enslaved thousands of Yazidi Kurds, whose beliefs combine elements of several ancient Middle Eastern religions and are regarded by Islamic State as devil-worshippers.

Mass Yazidi graves have been found since Kurdish forces retook areas north of Sinjar in December 2014, and the town itself in November 2015, but Islamic State had already transferred many Yazidis to other areas, including Tel Afar.

Reports from the area suggest thousands of people have fled Tel Afar in recent days as the Shi’ite paramilitary groups — assisting a U.S.-backed operation to drive Islamic State out of the city of Mosul to the east — advanced.

Most of those who have fled are from the town’s Turkmen Sunni Muslim majority, fearing sectarian revenge by the Shi’ite fighters.

But Yazidis are also among them, and for Abu Faraj and his fellow Yazidis, who squat for now in a half-finished building in the northern city of Duhok, the escape has been a huge relief.

“We left our house when other people were also fleeing. We didn’t ask who they were, whether they were Daesh (Islamic State) families. We just used the chaos to go,” he said, smoking a cigarette — a practice forbidden under Islamic State rule.

“Under Daesh we watched executions, beatings. You name it, we’ve seen it.”

HUSBAND, DAUGHTER TAKEN AWAY

Abu Faraj, who worked as a slave laborer in Tel Afar, is among the few young Yazidi men to have escaped Islamic State. He did not say how he managed to survive when others had disappeared or been killed, also for fear of identification.

“The rest of the group are women, children and elderly,” he said.

U.N. investigators said in a report in June that Islamic State is committing genocide against the Yazidis in Syria and Iraq to destroy the community of 400,000 people through killings, sexual slavery and other crimes.

One 42-year-old woman, who gave her name only as “a member of the Meshu family” and covered her face with a scarf, made the same journey as Abu Faraj with her three youngest children.

“When we finally made it to a peshmerga (Kurdish forces) position, we took our veils off and raised our hands — with our all-black clothes we were scared they’d think we were Daesh and shoot us,” she said.

Her husband, 16-year-old son and 20-year-old daughter had been separated from her and the younger children when they were first taken by the militants.

“I don’t know what has happened to them, or where they are,” she said.

Islamic State took many Yazidi girls as sex slaves.

The family was moved from town to town after their capture, spending some time in makeshift prisons and the rest under what amounted to house arrest in Tel Afar.

“We didn’t leave the house except to get essential supplies. I avoided sending the kids to an Islamic State school,” she said.

“Daesh fighters gave us just enough to eat, but it was often dirty food and water,” she said, sitting next to her tired and pale children.

The Office of Kidnapped Affairs in Duhok, a department backed by the Kurdistan regional government, said about 3,500 Yazidis were believed to remain in areas controlled by Islamic State, many of them women and children.

But even for those who have escaped, the ordeal is not over.

“Now, we don’t know what we’ll do, if we’ll be able to get home, even where we’ll sleep tonight. It’s up to God,” said Abu Faraj.

Islamic State group has captured most parts of the Yazidi Sinjar district in northwest Iraq on August 3, 2014 which led thousands of Kurdish families to flee to Mount Sinjar, where they were trapped in it and suffered from significant lack of water and food, killing and abduction of thousands of Yazidis as well as rape and captivity of thousands of women.

Those who stay behind are subjected to brutal, genocidal acts: thousands killed, hundreds buried alive, and countless acts of rape, kidnapping and enslavement are perpetuated against Yazidi women. To add insult to injury, IS fighters ransack and destroy ancient Yazidi holy sites.

According to Human Rights organizations, thousands of Yazidi women and girls have been forced to marry or been sold into sexual slavery by the IS jihadists.

A Yazidi member of Iraqi parliament Vian Dakhil, said in August that 3,770 Kurdish Yazidi women and children still in Islamic State captivity.

The EU, US, UN and UK parliament recognize Islamic State killing of Yazidi Kurds as ‘Genocide’.

ekurd.net/yazidi-risk-flee-islamic-2016-11-26?

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Commander: Yemeni Army Advances Towards Najran, Riyadh Recruits African Mercenaries

November 26, 2016

TEHRAN (FNA)- A senior military commander underlined that the Yemeni army and popular forces continue their advances in the Southern part of Saudi Arabia to lay siege on the city of Najran, and disclosed that the Riyadh government has hired new mercenaries from Africa.

"The Yemeni special forces have started advancing towards residential areas in the Southern part of Najran city and managed to kill eight Saudi mercenaries while attacking the strategic Abdel Aziz military base ," Senior Ansarullah Commander Ali al-Hamzani told FNA on Saturday.

He noted that the Saudi army has recruited new mercenaries from African countries to help prevent the Yemeni forces' advances deep into Saudi Arabia.

"Saudi Arabia has sent hundreds of mercenaries as well as ISIL and al-Qaeda terrorists to Najran and Jizan provinces to fight the Yemeni forces," al-Hamzani said.

On Thursday, the Yemeni forces captured a military base in Najran in their latest counterattack against the kingdom's military campaign in the impoverished Southern neighbor.

They stormed the newly-constructed Shatib base some 844 km South of the capital Riyadh on Thursday.

The Yemeni soldiers and their allies engaged in an exchange of gunfire with Saudi troops at the base, leaving scores of them dead or injured.

A number of Saudi soldiers reportedly left their assault rifles and mortar shells behind and fled the base.

Yemeni troops have been trying to purge strategic military positions overlooking the city of Najran of Saudi soldiers.

On Wednesday, several Saudi-backed forces loyal to resigned president Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi were killed and injured during an ambush in the Midi district of the Northwestern province of Hajjah.

Saudi Arabia has been engaged in a deadly campaign against Yemen since March 2015 in an attempt to bring back the former Yemeni government to power and undermine the Ansarullah movement.

The impoverished Arab country is grappling with the scarcity of food supplies and outbreak of diseases amid Saudi Arabia’s atrocious airstrikes.

The United Nations International Children's Fund (UNICEF) says 7.4 million Yemeni children are in dire need of medical help, and 370,000 run the risk of severe acute malnutrition.

en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13950906000681

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Aleppo: Army Brings over 80 percent of Bostan Al-Pasha under Control

November 26, 2016

TEHRAN (FNA)- The Syrian Army and Hezbollah troops continued their advances against Jeish al-Fatah in Bostan al-Pasha district Northeast of Aleppo city, imposing control over a major part of the district.

The army men and Hezbollah fighters managed to advance against Jeish al-Fatah in Bostan al-Pasha from Suleiman al-Halabi flank after they captured several building blocks in in the district during the last week and launched a new phase of operation on Thursday.

The pro-government forces fortified their positions in the newly-captured lands in Bostan al-Pasha and have now brought over 80 percent of the district's area under their control.

Syrian fighter jets and the army's missile and artillery units have been pounding terrorists' positions in Bostan al-Pasha, inflicting a heavy death toll on the militants and forcing them to retreat from the positions.

While several hundred army soldiers arrived in Aleppo province on Sunday to accompany the army men and combatants of Liwa al-Quds in Ba'eidin square, Bostan al-Pasha and Hananou Housing Project, a field source disclosed that hundreds more are to arrive in Aleppo province to speed up the momentum of the army victories in the Eastern districts of Aleppo city.

On Thursday, pro-government sources in Aleppo resumed their offensive in Bostan al-Basha with massive missile and artillery fire on terrorists' positions after seizing control over several residential complexes last week.

The army forces and its popular allies, supported by the air force, launched massive offensive on militants' gathering centers in Bostan al-Basha and tried to advance in the region from al-Maydan and Suleiman al-Halabi districts.

At present, the army and Hezbollah forces are in control of over 75% of the strategic region.

en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13950906000760

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PM: Iraqi Forces Lay Full Siege on ISIL in Mosul

November 26, 2016

TEHRAN (FNA)- Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi announced that the country's joint military forces have laid full siege on the ISIL in the city of Mosul.

"The Iraqi forces have completed the siege of the ISIL terrorists in Mosul as they are making considerable advances in the city's Eastern and Western flanks as well," the Arabic-language al-Sabah news website quoted al-Abadi as saying on Saturday.

The Iraqi prime minister reiterated that around 30 percent of Mosul residents are under the direct protection of the government troops, while security forces are trying to rescue more families from terrorists' control.

"Our military operations backed by the country's air force have resulted in cutting off the ISIL's routes in different parts of Mosul city," al-Abadi added.

Meantime, senior commander of Mosul liberation operation Najm al-Jabouri announced that the Iraqi forces are now advancing towards residential areas in the Southern front and towards Mosul airport.

Commander of the Iraqi Counterterrorism Police Abdulwahhab al-Saedi also said that his forces attacked al-Jame'a and al-Masaref districts in Northeastern Mosul.

On Friday, the Iraqi volunteer forces (Hashd al-Shaabi) started their 5th phase of anti-terrorism operation Southwest of Tal Afar city in Nineveh province.

According to the official wing of Hashd al-Shaabi, their forces liberated the villages of al-Tafahah and Abu Nijaylah after fierce clashes with the ISIL terrorists Southwest of Tal Afar city.

Following the liberation of al-Tafahah and Abu Nijaylah, the popular forces turned their attention to the last part of the highway that links Tal Afar to the Syrian border-crossing at al-Qa'im to cut off ISIL's most important supply route to Mosul.

A security source in Iraq's Nineveh province said on Thursday that Iraqi Army forces freed two populated districts from ISIL militants on the left bank of Northern city of Mosul.

The security source told Sumeriya News that Iraqi Army forces liberated Zohour neighborhood and the Green Apartments in Eastern Mosul and cleared the two districts of ISIL terrorists.

Separately, a commander of Iraq's Popular Mobilization Forces in Sahal Nineveh (Nineveh plains) said the PMF forces are now in control of all liberated areas between Nimrud and al-Hamadanieh, Southeast of Mosul.

The PMF commander, Wa'ad al-Qudwan, added that the popular forces, in a joint operation with Iraqi Army's 7th brigade, have also managed to recapture the linking road between Nimrud and two villages of Qarshur and Balavat towards the city of al-Hamadanieh.

en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13950906000782

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Syria: US, Saudi Arabia, Turkey Ask Jeish al-Fatah to Gather Strength against Army in Aleppo

November 26, 2016

TEHRAN (FNA)- The US, Saudi Arabia and Turkey have called on the Jeish al-Fatah coalition of terrorist groups to stand up against the army's all-out attack and resume offensives on government troops with maximum power, a security source told the Syrian war information center.

Some representatives from the US, Saudi Arabia and Turkey along with their counterparts from Jeish al-Fatah held a meeting in Turkey this week, the information center of E'elam al-Harbi quoted a source at the Joint Operation Room of Syrian Army and Popular Forces as saying.

"Representatives of Washington, Ankara and Riyadh, in a meeting held with the representative of Jeish al-Fatah to encourage the militants to keep their positions in the besieged districts of Aleppo city, called on the terrorist coalition to regroup its militants and get ready for a large-scale operation in the city," the source said.

Jeish al-Fatah was ordered in the meeting not to leave their positions in the besieged part of Aleppo city under any condition even if their refusal to leave the city ends in the killing of civilians.

The information center further quoted the source as saying that the meeting between the representatives of Jeish al-Fatah, the US, Turkey and Saudi Arabia proved one more time that the states that claimed responsibility about saving civilians' lives, in fact, are a part of assassination and destruction (in Aleppo) and their words are shier lies.

"The UN Syria envoy Staffan de Mistura must disclose the realities and should not be at the service of conspirators. The Syrian army will never accept terrorists' hostage-taking in the Eastern districts of Aleppo and is resolved to drive the terrorists out of these district immediately," the source added. 

An analyst said on Thursday that the Syrian army's massive operations in different parts of Aleppo and their astonishing advance would soon force the terrorists to lay down arms and surrender.

The military analysts and field sources told al-Watan daily that battlefield information after the Syrian army and its allies' massive attacks in Aleppo showed that "the terrorists would soon be forced to surrender and their positions would fall one after another since they lost a large number of their commanders and members as well as arms caches and could no more resist against the Syrian troops' offensives; this was while their regional allies had also withdrawn their support for them".

"Meantime, the residents of Eastern Aleppo districts continue to stage protest rallies against the terrorists, demanding their exit," the analysts said, adding that they even mounted pictures of President Bashar al-Assad on their walls.

Local sources in Eastern Aleppo also reported that the terrorists lost confidence in their commanders after their repeated unfulfilled promises on breaking the army's siege and their morale was weakened after heavy defeats and sustaining abundant casualties and damages.

After continued defeats and nearly two months of insistence on remaining in the city and rejecting the army's several chances to leave Eastern Aleppo with their weapons, terrorists are now facing the realities of war as their comrades' massive attacks on the city to break the army's several-month-long siege have all ended up in fiasco.

The Syrian army has started special operation in Aleppo after several humanitarian pauses declared by Damascus and Moscow to give a chance to the civilian population as well as the militants to leave the Eastern parts of the city through 8 corridors.

Thousands of civilians left the city in the first few days, but militants blocked their exist paths, threatening to kill anyone who dares to approach the passages opened by the army. The terrorists aim to use the civilian population as a human shield.

The last such pause was declared Mid-November when the Syrian army gave a 24-hour lone ultimatum to the Jeish al-Fatah coalition of terrorist groups to leave the flash point city.

The Syrian Army's deadline for the exit of terrorists from Eastern districts of Aleppo ended, but no militant or civilian left the city via the humanitarian corridors.

After starting the operations in Aleppo, the Syrian army has managed to advance in several areas and retake control of new territories, killing hundreds of terrorists.

en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13950906000568

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DM: Iran to Purchase Sukhoi Su-30 Fighter Jets from Russia

November 26, 2016

TEHRAN (FNA)- Iranian Defense Minister Brigadier General Hossein Dehqan stated Tehran's plan to buy Sukhoi Su-30 fighter jets from Russia, adding that Moscow's anti-terrorism flights in Syria from Iran's Western airbase of Nojeh might resume in future.

"Purchase of Sukhoi Su-30 from Russia is on the defense ministry's agenda," General Dehqan told reporters on the sidelines of a large gathering of Iranian Basij (volunteer) forces in Tehran on Saturday.

"We will cooperate with any country, except Israel and the US, to meet our defensive needs," he added.

His remarks came after Iran and Russia began negotiating on the supply of $10 billion worth of weapons and hardware to Tehran following the successful delivery of Russia’s S-300 air defense missile systems to the country in October.

“These negotiations are being carried out, the road has been paved. The order book, discussed today, reflects the needs of Tehran and amounts to some $10 billion,” the head of the defense and security committee of the Russian upper house of parliament, Viktor Ozerov, told reporters earlier this month during a parliamentary visit to Iran.

He said the arms in question include T-90 tanks, artillery systems and various aircraft.

Dehqan also referred to recent media reports saying that Russia might use Hamadan airbase in Iran again to carry out airstrikes on terrorist groups in Syria, and said, "We will render any necessary cooperation to Russia to help the legal Syrian government and this cooperation could be done in any form."

Russian planes carried out several counterterrorism missions in Syria from Hamadan in mid-August. The deployment lasted approximately a week and was the first of its kind in Iran's modern history.

A senior defense official announced in August that Russia might use Hamadan airbase in Iran again to carry out airstrike against terrorist groups in Syria.

"Moscow and Tehran would conduct mutually beneficial cooperation and reach agreements on some specific issues soon, including the use of the Hamadan airbase by the Russian military to strike extremist groups in Syria", Vladimir Komoedov, chairman of the Defense Committee in the State Duma, said.

"An agreement between the two countries over the issue is only a matter of time," he said, adding that Tehran has shown through concrete actions in recent months that its partnership with Moscow is strong.

en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13950906000586

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Syrian Army 3 Km Away from Al-Bab in Aleppo Province as Tensions Rise Between Damascus, Ankara

November 26, 2016

TEHRAN (FNA)- The Syrian army inched closer to one of the most important strongholds of the ISIL in the Arab country, and are only three kilometers away from the Northern Syrian city of al-Bab in Aleppo province, while the Ankara-backed militants are also racing towards the city.

According to the Al-Mayadeen TV channel, the army troops managed to dislodge ISIL terrorists from six settlements near al-Bab, and are approaching the ISIL's stronghold city.

The Free Syrian Army (FSA) supported by the Turkish Air Force and armored vehicles has also launched an offensive to push terrorists out of the vital Bastion of ISIL as capturing the city is of strategic importance to Ankara in order to prevent the Kurds' reunification.

Military sources had disclosed in mid September that a large number of Syrian soldiers are deployed at Kuweires airbase to start military operations against the terrorists in al-Bab.

"Hundreds of Syrian soldiers are now in Kuweires airbase 40 kilometers to the east of Aleppo city to start al-Bab military operations against the ISIL terrorist group," the Arabic-language media quoted an unnamed military source as saying.

Also, another source said in mid November that the Syrian army has sent around 1,000 reinforcement troops to the Eastern countryside of Aleppo to start the operation that aims to create a safe zone in areas in the vacinity of Kuweires airbase, including al-Bab, adding that the Syrian government troops' military operation in al-Bab region is also meant to block further advances of the Turkey-backed terrorists in al-Bab region.

After recapturing Manbij from ISIL by the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), al-Bab an Deir Hafer have turned into the largest bases of ISIL in Aleppo province.

Experts believe that Syrian army's operations in al-Bab and Deir Hafer that are entrance gates to Raqqa province signify the government forces plan to start an attack on Raqqa soon, while the Kurdish forces have also started a large-scale offensive on Raqqa, codenamed 'Wrath of Euphrates', a couple of days ago.

Turkey declared on August 24 that its Army has launched 'Euphrates Shield' military operation in Syria, as Ankara claims that it has begun to cleanse the ISIL terrorists from its border with the Arab country.

But, despite Ankara's allegation, Turkish military forces support militant groups in Northern Syria, and fight against Kurdish forces in the region.

Turkish officials have freuqently stressed that operation 'Euphrates Shield' will continue to create a safe zone in Northern Syria.

Damascus had condemned Ankara's military operation and entry of Turkish special forces and tanks into Syria, while Moscow expressed deep concern about what is happening in the Syrian-Turkish border area.

Al-Bab is one of ISIL’s last remaining strongholds near the Turkish border.

en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13950906000424

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Iran Plans to Expand Naval Build-Up to Far Seas, Including Yemen, Syria Waters

November 26, 2016

TEHRAN (FNA)- Chief of Staff of the Iranian Armed Forces Major General Mohammad Hossein Baqeri said Tehran might set up on or offshore military bases in far waters, including the coasts of Yemen and Syria, in unspecified future.

"We need bases in distanced areas and perhaps we might one day come to have bases on the coasts of Yemen or Syria or establish bases on islands or offshore floating bases," General Baqeri said, addressing a forum of Naval commanders in Tehran on Saturday.

He also underlined the necessity for Iran to have a flotilla of warships with the specific mission to protect Iran's interests in the Indian Ocean similar to its fleet in the Sea of Oman.

His remarks came as Iranian Navy Commander Rear Admiral Habibollah Sayyari announced the country's plans to expand naval presence in international waters, and said a flotilla of warships has now been deployed in the Atlantic Ocean.

"For the first time, the 44th flotilla comprised of Alvand and Bushehr destroyers could sail around the African continent and enter the Atlantic Ocean," Admiral Sayyari told reporters in Tehran last Monday.

"The two destroyers are now deployed in Durban Harbor (South Africa)," he added.

Noting that deployment of the 44th flotilla of warships in the international waters indicates the Iranian Navy's might and power, Admiral Sayyari said, "In addition to that, 5 fleets of warships have also been sent to other countries so far with a message of peace and friendship."

Back in 2014, Admiral Sayyari had announced the country's plans to deploy troops in the Atlantic Ocean.

"The Iranian Navy will definitely be present in the Atlantic Ocean in the near future," Admiral Sayyari told reporters on the sidelines of his meeting with foreign military attaches in Tehran at the time.

He noted that conducting reciprocal visits to other countries, including the coastal countries of the Indian Ocean and the African countries, and exchanging naval visits and voyages are among the Navy's programs.

"We are ready to hold joint naval drills with the neighboring countries as well," Admiral Sayyari said.

In recent years, Iran’s Navy has been increasing its presence in international waters to protect naval routes and provide security for trade vessels and tankers.

The Islamic Republic has repeatedly asserted that its overseas naval presence is meant to convey a message of peace and friendship to other countries.

Iranian officials and commanders have repeatedly underlined that all military exercises and trainings of the Iranian Armed Forces are merely meant to serve deterrent purposes.

The Iranian Navy has been conducting anti-piracy patrols in the Gulf of Aden since November 2008, when Somali raiders hijacked the Iranian-chartered cargo ship, MV Delight, off the coast of Yemen.

According to UN Security Council resolutions, different countries can send their warships to the Gulf of Aden and coastal waters of Somalia against the pirates and even with prior notice to Somali government enter the territorial waters of that country in pursuit of Somali sea pirates.

The Gulf of Aden - which links the Indian Ocean with the Suez Canal and the Mediterranean Sea - is an important energy corridor, particularly because Persian Gulf oil is shipped to the West via the Suez Canal.

en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13950906000676

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Army Commander: Iran's Overhauled Giant Warship, Kilo-Class Submarine Ready to Launch

November 26, 2016

TEHRAN (FNA)- Iranian Army Commander Major General Ataollah Salehi announced that Iran's Khark logistic warship that is the largest in West Asia and a kilo-class submarine are ready to launch operation after they were both thoroughly overhauled.

"Khark warship and Tareq submarine are ready for mission after undergoing several stages of overhauling," General Salehi said on Saturday, addressing Navy commanders in Tehran.

He also underlined the necessity for developing the best defense equipment and products in the country.

His remarks came after Commander of the Iranian Navy's First Zone Rear Admiral Hossein Azad announced that the country will launch the largest logistic warship in West Asia in the near future.

"The Khark logistic warship which is the biggest warship in West Asia has been overhauled after 35 years by the Navy experts in Bandar Abbas (province in Southern Iran) and will be launched soon," Admiral Azad told reporters in Bandar Abbas on Wednesday.

He also said that different types of surface and subsurface vessels as well as various aircraft will be unveiled on the occasion of Navy Day on November 27.

Earlier this week, the Iranian Navy announced plans to unveil new indigenous radar systems capable of tracing surface and air targets and operating in electronic warfare.

"The integrated system named Samen to search, detect and trace the surface and air targets will be unveiled on November 29," Commander of the Iranian Navy Rear Admiral Habibollah Sayyari said in a press conference in Tehran last Monday.

He also said that the home-made LPI radar system which can operate in electronic warfare environments will also be unveiled soon, and added that three helicopters and 5 hovercrafts, all of them fully overhauled, will be unveiled on December 6.

Elsewhere, Sayyari underlined Iran's plans to stage specialized wargames for submarines in the next few days and massive naval drills dubbed as 'Velayat 95' in the Northern parts of the Indian Ocean in February.

"Also relief and rescue exercises will be jointly held with Oman," he added.

en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13950906000303

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Europe

Germany records drop in "Islamic State" recruits traveling to Iraq and Syria

Nov 26, 2016

A new study by Germany's security services has shown the number of people traveling from the country to join the IS is declining. But officials are still worried about some Muslim communities with Islamist leanings.

The federal police and Germany's domestic intelligence agency, the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution, found in a joint study that a smaller number of "Islamic State" (IS) supporters were traveling to Syria and Iraq.

Klaus Bouillon, head of the Conference of Ministers of the Interior, told the German dpa news agency that nearly 100 supporters were traveling to IS war zones during "peak times."  That number had dropped down to less than five a month more recently.

"IS" was recruiting potential supporters via the internet and among Salafist groups, Bouillon said. Meetings on Islam and activities involving the distribution of the Koran were also used to pick up sympathizers, he added.

But German authorities were employing effective strategies to combat the crisis, Bouillon's colleague Joachim Hermann, interior minister of Bavaria, told dpa news agency.

"Over two years ago, we agreed we would prevent people planning to travel to civil war regions in Syria and Iraq from leaving the country," Hermann said, adding that German state interior ministers had done so and that officials seized passports and identity documents of these potential supporters.

Police conduct raids on IS-linked Islamists

But despite the decreasing numbers, individuals are still trying to join "IS" in Iraq and Syria, Hermann said. He also said that officials wished for more cooperation with mosques in Germany, adding that many Muslim communities did not have any affinity towards "IS" or terrorism.

"The majority of mosques are peaceful," he said. However, there were several Islamist groups that were problematic from the point of view of domestic security. The state has a clear expectation that these communities will cooperate with security officials, he said, adding that "some did, but others promoted radical opinions."

dw.com/en/germany-records-drop-in-islamic-state-recruits-traveling-to-iraq-and-syria/a-36533052?

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ISIS Encouraged Muslims to Betray Christians, Bishop Says

Andre Mitchell 26 November 2016

The Islamic State (ISIS) jihadist group has not only destroyed buildings and entire cities in the Middle East but also strained relations between Muslims and Christians in the areas it conquered, according to a bishop from the United States.

Bishop Francis Kalabat of the Eparchy of St. Thomas the Apostle, based in the northern Detroit suburb of Southfield, spoke last week at The Catholic University of America where he condemned the atrocities committed by the Islamist extremists, the Catholic News Service reported.

The Roman Catholic prelate lamented how the ISIS "did a lot of destruction" and even promoted mistrust among Christians and Muslims in the Middle East.

"They not only destroyed buildings, but they destroyed relations between neighbours. Many (Iraqi Muslims intimidated by ISIS) turned in their Christian neighbours, and that has built up a lot of mistrust," Kalabat said.

However, the prelate also acknowledged that some Muslims helped Christians escape atrocities committed by the Islamic militants.

He further described the continuing persecution of Christians by the ISIS in the Middle East as a "purposeful destruction of a culture, a faith, a human history and a human person."

Sponsored Watch Your Favorite Christian Films, 24/7. Click Here To Start Your Free Trial Today

Kalabat also shared how he saw firsthand the struggles of Christians in Iraq when he visited the war-torn country last September. He said the believers had to endure bombings, terrorist acts, and mistrust in their government.

"Imagine, you build up a life and in almost the blink of an eye you lose everything," he said, describing the sufferings the Christians in Iraq are enduring following the ISIS invasion of their homeland.

Kalabat believes that although Iraqi Christians can withstand these trials, they still need help. He thus called on Christians around the world to help their fellow believers in Christ suffering in the Middle East.

"They (Iraqi Christians) are survivors, but is it enough just to be in survival mode all the time?" Kalabat asked. "Don't you want to live? Don't you want to thrive? Don't you want to be able to give?"

christiantoday.com/article/isis.encouraged.muslims.to.betray.christians.bishop.says/102083.htm?

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Arrest of 4 thwarted 'imminent' terror attack in France: Officials

AP | Updated: Nov 26, 2016

PARIS: Four long-time friends in their 30s, living in the same French city and communicating through a closed phone line, were planning a terror attack in France as early as next week on orders from an Islamic State group member in Iraq or Syria, Paris prosecutor Francois Molins said Friday.

The 'commando' of four arrested on Sunday in the eastern city of Strasbourg plotted to carry out an attack on Dec. 1, but investigators have not yet determined ``the specific chosen target among all those considered by the group,'' Molins said.

A fifth suspect was arrested in the southern city of Marseille at the same time as the Strasbourg suspects. Molins told reporters that suspect was not in direct touch with the other four, but was 'given guidance remotely' from the same IS member.

The prosecutor didn't name any targets, but security was tightened this week at the Paris headquarters of France's criminal investigations police, reportedly among the locations studied. French President Francois Hollande said a ``large-scale attack'' was thwarted.

The night they were arrested, two of the Strasbourg group had just downloaded the Periscope application, which allows people to stream live on Internet with a cell phone. The app activity suggests they were preparing an ``imminent'' attack, Molins said.

The four Strasbourg suspects also were in possession of guns and ammunition, he said. Among the weapons seized during home searches were two handguns, two automatic rifles, several cartridge clips and dozens of cartridges of different calibers.

Investigators also found instructions for a money transfer, GPS coordinates and detailed explanations for obtaining more weapons on one suspect's USB stick.

All five men had a ``clear will to find and to identify targets to commit an act in the very short term,'' Molins said.

In addition, the five ``had common instructions to obtain weapons, instructions given by a person from the Iraqi-Syrian zone through encrypted applications popular among terrorists,'' he said.

Investigators recovered a notebook that contained 12 pages of writing that referred to an armed jihad, death in martyrdom and Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the Islamic State group leader, the prosecutor said.

After being held in custody since Sunday, the five were moved Friday to the Paris courthouse where they were to appear before counter-terrorism investigating judges. The Paris prosecutor asked magistrates to hand the five preliminary charges of taking part in a ``terrorist criminal association'' and to jail them.

Molins was speaking the day after anti-terrorism authorities took the unusual step of holding the men in custody without charge beyond the normal maximum period, relying on a recent anti-terrorism measure.

The five were later placed under investigation on preliminary charges of criminal terrorist association with a view of preparing attacks, a judicial official said. Three of the Strasbourg group were also charged with acquiring, possessing and transporting arms in relation with a terrorist enterprise. The official was not authorized to speak publicly about the case and asked not to be named.

The four arrested in Strasbourg were two French citizens, both age 37; a 36-year-old Franco-Tunisian; and a 35-year-old Franco-Moroccan. Two of them had several criminal convictions in France, Molins said. The man arrested in Marseille was a 26-year-old Moroccan.

Two of the Strasbourg suspects traveled to the Turkish-Syrian border via Cyprus in March 2015, then prosecutor said. The Marseille suspect left Morocco in 2013 and made multiple trips across Europe with fake ID documents. In 2015, the Turkish authorities prevented him from entering Turkey, he said.

France remains under a state of emergency imposed after Islamic State attacks in Paris in November 2015 that killed 130 people.

timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/europe/Arrest-of-4-thwarted-imminent-terror-attack-in-France-Officials/articleshow/55631251.cms

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JK Rowling sends Harry Potter books to Syrian girl

PTI | Nov 26, 2016

LONDON: "Harry Potter" author JK Rowling has gifted a young girl living in war-torn Syria with copies of her famous boy wizard books.

Seven-year-old Bana has been watching the "Harry Potter" films to distract her from the bombings and fighting, which is occurring in her hometown of Aleppo.

After watching the film earlier this week, Bana's mother Fatemah reached out to Rowling via Twitter, revealing her daughter and other local children were interested in reading the books the movies are based on, reported CNN.

 J.K. Rowling @jk_rowling

Bana, this made me so happy! Lots of love to you and your brothers! #StandWithAleppo twitter.com/AlabedBana/status/801790481613127680 …

11:39 PM - 24 Nov 2016

  1,289 1,289 Retweets   5,510 5,510 likes

Rowling was moved by the message and replied, writing, "Bana, I hope you do read the book, because I think you'd like it. Sending you lots and lots of love xxx."

The 51-year-old writer subsequently sent her electronic copies of all the books in the franchise.

Bana's mother has since shared her gratitude with the author on Twitter, writing, "Thank you my friend Jk Rowling for the books", to which Rowling responded, "Thinking of you, keep safe #Aleppo."

timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/uk/JK-Rowling-sends-Harry-Potter-books-to-Syrian-girl/articleshow/55636025.cms

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India

Zakir Naik plays victim, dubs IRF ban 'communal move'

Mohammed Wajihuddin | TNN | Updated: Nov 26, 2016

MUMBAI: Controversial televangelist Zakir Naik has called the ban on his NGO Islamic Research Foundation (IRF) "a communal decision". In a letter released on Friday through his spokesperson, his second since being accused of radicalising one of the perpetrators of the July 1 Dhaka cafe attack, Naik said IRF was banned without any agency questioning him.

"...not a single time was I questioned or given a chance to explain," he writes. "Their agenda is open and clear: implicate me by hook or by crook."

"The decision to ban IRF was taken in the middle of the demonetisation fiasco, as the country reeled under the self-imposed cash crunch. I won't be surprised if this ban was meant to distract media from what was going on in the country."

Recently, the government banned IRF under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, froze the bank account of Islamic International School, while NIA has asked banks to freeze accounts of Naik, IRF and associate companies.

Playing the Muslim victimhood card, Naik said IRF was slapped with UAPA because "the name of the religion has been made synonymous with violence".

Naik, like in his previous letter sent on September 10, alleged it was Indian Muslims who were under attack. "It is an attack on whom I represent, the Indian Muslims."

Naik, however, expressed his faith in the Indian judiciary. A source said Naik wrote this letter from an African country which he is touring currently.

timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Zakir-Naik-plays-victim-dubs-IRF-ban-communal-move/articleshow/55628888.cms

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Why RBI's move to implement Islamic banking is exhaustive and thoroughly mature

Nov 26, 2016

By Mohamed Imad Ali

This piece is in response to an article by Tarek Fatah titled 'RBI's idea to bring Sharia banking into the fray is deeply flawed', published by Firstpost on 24 November. I read Fatah's views more than once and was trying to understand what the writer wanted to convey. Tarek seems to be completely confused. I was disappointed as I was expecting an analytical piece from him but what came across were divergent ideas with no meaning and flying in different directions.

Tarek has no clue on the background work which RBI has been doing for years now with regards to comprehensively understand the practices of Islamic banking globally. The detailed study which RBI has done with respect to requirements of legal amendments to be done to allow the practices of Islamic banking is quite exhaustive. The current approach of implementation of RBI also looks thoroughly mature.

The RBI logo. ReutersThe RBI logo. Reuters

Tarek picked up two critiques of Islamic banking and quoted them copiously and seems to have believed that they are the only true voices in the field of Islamic banking. There were three conclusions of these critics, the first that the current interest practiced by banks is not prohibited by Islam but what is prohibited is usury. The difference between usury is that it is excessive and interest being nominal. But the irony is how would he explain the exorbitant interest rates on credit cards and microfinance? Will you categorise this as interest or usury? By the way, does Tarek know who in history has brought out this differentiation? This whole differentiation was brought by the 1545 Act "An Act Against Usurie" by King Henry VIII of England. No recognised Islamic Shariah scholar believes in this illogical differentiation between interest and usury. The logic presented by Tarek is like saying that controlled alcohol consumption is good and acceptable but excessive alcohol is prohibited.

Any excess charged on money lent is not accepted from Shariah perspective. This is because the whole idea of currency in Islamic jurisprudence is that it is merely a unit of transaction and not an asset itself. Currency by itself cannot generate any excess currency. The currency needs to be put to action on assets to create an increment.

On the other note let me quote Aristotle, one of the renowned philosophers of Greek philosophy, wrote in his 350 BC work, Politics, in Book One, Part 10, that usury is the lending of money at interest: "The most hated sort, and with the greatest reason, is usury, which makes a gain out of money itself, and not from the natural object of it. For money was intended to be used in exchange, but not to increase at interest. And this term interest, which means the birth of money from money, is applied to the breeding of money because the offspring resembles the parent. Wherefore of all modes of getting wealth this is the most unnatural."

Indian literature and movies have a strong undercurrent on ‘interest’. Let us have a look at what Munshi Premchand had to say in his short story SawaSerGehun. It has a beautiful depiction of how interest no matter how small and in whatever form can enslave an individual. Let me remind you another scene from the movie Mother India on how Sukhi Lala the money lender exploits the poor family through 'interest'.

In a nutshell the size of interest-free banking in terms of assets is $2 trillion. There are over 1,000 institutions in around 100 countries including banks, asset managers, private equity firms and insurance companies. The concentration of assets is more in the Middle East, around 46 percent and around 16 percent in South-East-Asia and the rest spread over all other countries. The terminology used for this industry includes Islamic banking, interest-free banking and participatory banking. Interest-free financing today is not just a concept but a reality which is being practiced in countries like the United Kingdom, in the West Singapore in the East and Australia is South Asia.

Interest-free banking which is based on a participatory model should be allowed to function in India so that people have the option to enter into commercial transactions which are participatory in nature. A vibrant economic environment is where individuals are given options to experiment with different financial contracts. We hope to see the Indian doors open to interest-free banking concept.

Let us analyse debt model. Let us give a name to debt fever and call it debtorism. The general symptoms of this fever are that initially when the first dosage of the funding is received the individual is elated and overjoyed. The desires seem to rise high in the mind. Reckless spending becomes one common side effect. Ego gets boosted and the gait becomes haughty. This fever can affect an individual, a corporate and a sovereign.

When the repayment of debt is nearing, and if at all there is a gap and shortfall to repay and in cases where there is nothing to pay then the main side effect is loss of self-respect, strong feeling of humiliation (aren’t these signs of age-old slavery which we now see in modern economic slaves?. The person starts searching for places to hide, the rich could escape but the poor would hide behind the curtain of their death (the rising suicides of the debt-ridden farmers is more than sufficient to concretise this thesis).

The second criticism is that the current practices of Islamic banking and finance are not truly Islamic. In fact, they are similar to interest based transactions with mere different terminologies.

If this is the case then why these countries, to name a few, like the United Kingdom and Singapore had to devise new regulation for the practices of Islamic banking? And for a moment let us agree that Islamic banking is a replica for conventional banking. In that case, then why is Tarek agitated? In fact, he should be at peace as there is nothing new or different about the banking system being permitted.

The third criticism is that the Islamic banking has not contributed in the poverty alleviation but the beneficiary of this has only been the bankers and the Shariah scholars. It is like saying hunger is not alleviated by restaurants but its main beneficiaries are the restaurant owners and the managers.

Criticism has to be backed by logic, researched data and argument. Unfortunately, I found none in the article of Tarek. On a friendly note I would like to suggest to him that no matter how many internal differences we may have, many a times regulators in India have shown farsighted inclusiveness in their approach. And on the sidelines, I would like to humbly suggest that it would be the last thing for Indian Muslims to look for a sympathiser in Tarek.

The author is a senior executive at CITI Islamic in Bahrain.

firstpost.com/business/why-rbis-move-to-implement-islamic-banking-is-exhaustive-and-thoroughly-mature-3125694.html

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Three security personnel, two terrorists killed in Kashmir

M Saleem Pandit | TNN | Updated: Nov 26, 2016

SRINAGAR: Three security personnel and two terrorists were killed and one police man was critically injured in two separate terror attacks in the Kashmir valley on Friday.

Police said, three personnel of Indian Reserve Police Force were stationed outside District Police Lines Kulgam, south Kashmir, when an unspecified number of terrorists opened fired at them. Constables-Tanveer Ahmad and Jalaluddin — were killed on the spot while a third one, Shamsuddin was critically injured.

In Naidikhai village in Sumbal, Bandipora, north Kashmir, a joint operation was carried out by the army and special operation group of police around 7.45 am after receiving a tip off about the presence of terrorists. One soldier and two terrorists were killed in the encounter. The identity of the slain terrorists has not been ascertained yet.

Defence spokesman Col Manish Kumar said that two weapons and one UBGL and "other war like stores were recovered" from them. The locals of Naidikhal gathered in the main chowk of the village protested against the killing of terrorists, claiming their dead bodies while raising pro-azaadi slogans.

Jammu and Kashmir police arrested a local militant Majeed Mir at Tujjar in Sopore in north Kashmir during a raid. The search operation was jointly launched by 22 RR, SOG Sopore and 179 battalion of CRPF.

On Wednesday, police also arrested five over ground workers of Lashkar-e-Taiba terror outfit in Pulwana, south Kashmir for their involvement in the Charar-e-Sharief J&K bank robbery case. Four unidentified men with AK-47 rifles and pistols had looted around Rs.14 lakh cash from the Malapora branch of J&K Bank in Charar-e-Sharief, Budgam, central Kashmir on Monday.

Police said the Lashkar workers- Mohammad Iqbal Wani, Farooq Ahmad Bhat, Tanveer-ul-Alam Wani, Tanveer Ahmad Bhat and Raqeeb Rather, all residents of Chewa Kalan--were caught during a midnight raid but no cash has been recovered from them yet. Preliminary investigations revealed that the five provided logistic support and shelter to the gunmen who looted the bank.

timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Three-security-personnel-two-terrorists-killed-in-Kashmir/articleshow/55629078.cms

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Pakistan

4 militants, 2 Pakistani soldiers killed in attack on mosque

AP | Nov 26, 2016

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan's military and officials say a group of militants have attacked a mosque at an army facility in northwest Pakistan, triggering a shootout in which four insurgents and two soldiers were killed.

The army in a statement said 14 troops were also wounded in Saturday's suicide attack on Ghalani Camp in Mohmand tribal region bordering Afghanistan.

It said the attackers wanted to enter the camp and started firing after they reached the mosque, where residents and a large number of recruits were present. It said the attackers were ``contained in the outer courtyard'' of the mosque, and subsequently all four died.

Two security officials also confirmed the account and said a search operation is underway to trace and arrest any accomplices of the attackers.

timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/pakistan/4-militants-2-Pakistani-soldiers-killed-in-attack-on-mosque/articleshow/55631646.cms

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Pakistan allows Russia use of Gwadar Port under CPEC

IANS | Updated: Nov 26, 2016

ASHGABAT: Pakistan on Saturday decided to accord approval to a Russian request for using the Gwadar Port for its exports as Moscow has also showed its willingness to be part of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC)+ .

Following Iran+ and Turkmenistan, Russia has decided to use the Gwadar Port for trade to have an access to warm waters, a top official privy to the development told Geo News.

Russia also wants to join the CPEC to reap maximum dividends. In addition, Russia aspires to develop strategic defence ties with Pakistan, Geo News reported. Islamabad has moved forward with a green signal allowing Russia to use the Gwadar Port for trade.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said that many countries wanted to join CPEC as half of the world would benefit from the project.

He announced building railways, road and laying fibre-optic cables along with Turkmenistan-Pakistan-Afghanistan-India (TAPI) 1,680-km-long gas pipeline to enhance connectivity between South Asia and Central Asia for the benefit of about half of the world's population that lives in this part of the world.

timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/pakistan/Pakistan-allows-Russia-use-of-Gwadar-Port-under-CPEC/articleshow/55635151.cms

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Takfiris killed senior Pakistani Shia journalist and his son in Sahiwal

November 26, 2016

Takfiri terrorists of banned Deobandi outfit shot dead a senior Shia journalist and his son in Sahiwal district of Punjab province yesterday.

(AhlulBayt News Agency) - Takfiri terrorists of banned Deobandi outfit shot dead a senior Shia journalist and his son in Sahiwal district of Punjab province yesterday. They were returning from a shrine when they were targeted.

Khalid Mahmood Butt was a local journalist of Sahiwal. He and his son Ali Raza were ambushed when they were returning from Baba Mast shrine. Due to firing of proscribed ASWJ’s takfiri terrorists, Shia father and son embraced martyrdom.

Shia parties and leaders have condemned the targeted murder of Khalid Butt and his son. They demanded arrest and capital punishment for the terrorists.

en.abna24.com/service/centeral-asia-subcontinent/archive/2016/11/26/794362/story.html?

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Chinese navy ships to be deployed at Gwadar: Pak navy official

PTI | Nov 25, 2016

KARACHI: China would deploy its naval ships along with Pakistan Navy to safeguard the strategic Gwadar port and trade routes under the USD 46 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, a navy official here has said, shedding light on a plan likely to alarm India.

China and Pakistan are currently building the nearly 3,000-km-long economic corridor linking Pakistan's Gwadar port on the Arabian Sea with Xinjiang to improve connectivity between the two countries. The move would open up a new and cheaper cargo route for transporting oil to China as well as export of Chinese goods to the Middle East and Africa.

A Pakistan Navy official said the role of maritime forces has increased since the country has made the Gwadar port operational and speeded up economic activities under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

"China would also deploy its naval ships in coordination with Pakistan Navy to safeguard the port and trade under the CPEC," the unnamed official was quoted as saying by The Express Tribune.

In the past, China has shied away from saying that it plans to deploy its naval ships in Gwadar, a move which could raise alarm in the US and India.

Experts feel that CPEC and the Gwadar port would enhance the military capabilities of both China and Pakistan, and make it possible for the Chinese Navy to easily access the Arabian Sea.

Having a naval base in Gwadar could allow Chinese vessels to use the port for repair and maintenance of their fleet in the Indian Ocean region. Such a foothold would be the first overseas location offering support to the Chinese navy for future missions.

Pakistani defence officials are keen for the Chinese navy to build up its presence in the Indian Ocean and the Arabia sea, mainly to counterbalance India's formidable naval force.

The Pakistani official also said that the Navy is considering buying super-fast ships from China and Turkey for its special squadron to be deployed at the Gwadar port for the security purpose.

"A squadron may have four to six warships," he said on the sidelines of the on-going defence exhibition, IDEAS 2016, at the Karachi Expo Centre.

The ships would be bought soon keeping in view their immediate need in the fleet, he said, adding that two defence ships have already been deployed at Gwadar.

Another official of the naval force added that Pakistan has kicked off the process of establishing the largest shipyard of the region in Gwadar. A similar ship-building project is being deliberated at Port Qasim in Karachi.

The two advanced shipyards would design and develop ships and other security equipment for Pakistan Navy.

"The existing shipyard, the Pakistan National Shipping Corporation, lacks capacity to meet new requirements of the force. Its (PNSC) performance, however, would improve in competition with the two under consideration," he said.

timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/pakistan/Chinese-navy-ships-to-be-deployed-at-Gwadar-Pak-navy-official/articleshow/55622674.cms

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Native movements to determine K-issue, says Sartaj Aziz

Omer Farooq Khan | TNN | Updated: Nov 26, 2016

ISLAMABAD: Sartaj Aziz, Pakistan PM Nawaz Sharif's adviser on foreign affairs, said on Friday that the Kashmir issue would only be resolved through indigenous movements led by the younger generation of Kashmiris.

Now is the time to get a super deal to Aussie

He told legislators in the National Assembly here that Pakistan would continue extending political, diplomatic and moral support to the Kashmir cause at international, regional and bilateral forums.

" We have been taking our diplomatic campaign forward with zeal since Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's speech regarding the Kashmir issue at the United Nations General Assembly. The movement has not lost any of its zeal even after the aggression against it and Pakistan will continue to support it," Aziz told legislators. He said any dialogue with India would be conditional on talks on Kashmir. "Pakistan is willing to hold talks with India on all issues on the condition that the Kashmir dispute be resolved in accordance with United Nations resolutions," Aziz said.

Meanwhile, the Pakistan foreign office summoned Indian deputy high commissioner J P Singh on Friday and lodged a strong protest against "indiscriminate" and "unprovoked" shelling at the Line of Control. The foreign office said a letter of protest was handed over to the Indian official. Islamabad has protested at least eight times in the last six weeks claiming that Indian troops target civilians from across the LoC and working boundary.

Tension between Pakistan and India has been running high since the September attack on an Army camp in Uri that left 19 Indian soldiers dead. Following the Uri incident, the 2003 ceasefire agreement between the two countries has been frequently breached by troops on both sides.

timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/pakistan/Native-movements-to-determine-K-issue-says-Sartaj-Aziz/articleshow/55629091.cms

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Terrorism: bill passed to enhance punishments

November 26th, 2016

ISLAMABAD: The Senate passed on Friday a bill to amend various laws with the objective of strengthening the criminal justice system and enhancing punishments for various offences to effectively curb terrorism and extremism.

The bill, proposing amendments to the Pakistan Penal Code, 1860; the Police Act, 1861; the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1898; the Qanoon-i-Shahadat, 1984; and the Protection of Pakistan Act, 2014 (POPA), was moved by Minister of State for Interior Baleeghur Rahman. However, it was pointed out that POPA had lapsed and, therefore, no amendment to it could be introduced. The bill was approved, dropping the proposed amendment to POPA, through a voice vote.

Through an amendment to Section 182 of the PPC, the punishment for giving false information to a government servant that causes him to use his lawful powers to injury was increased from a maximum of six months to up to seven years in case the offence about which information has been given is punishable with death and five years in case it is punishable with life imprisonment.

The punishment for the offence of deliberately using words to hurt the religious feelings of any person has been enhanced from yearlong imprisonment and unspecified fine to imprisonment extendable to three years and not less than one year, and/or fine of Rs500,000. The amendment prescribes the same punishment for inciting religious, sectarian or ethnic hatred by using loudspeaker, sound amplifier or any other device.

The Section 498-B of the PPC in its present form reads: “Whoever coerces or in any manner whatsoever compels a woman to enter into marriage shall be punished with imprisonment of description for a term which may not be less than three years and shall also be liable to a fine of Rs500,000”.

A proviso has been added to the clause to provide for a sentence of up to 10 years and not less than five years and a fine of up to Rs1 million in case of a girl child as defined in the Child Marriage Restraint Act, 1992, or a non-Muslim woman.

The Section 23 of the Police Act, 1861, outlining duties of a police officer has also been amended to include in them through the law prevention of sectarian and hate speeches and proliferation of hate material by any person, organised group, organisation or banned outfit.

Through an amendment to Section 29 of the Police Act, the punishment for officers guilty of any violation of duty, wilful breach or neglect of any rule, regulation or lawful order made by a competent authority, has been increased from confiscation of three-month salary or imprisonment not exceeding three months to imprisonment of up to three years with Rs100,000 fine.

Every person opposing or not obeying the lawful orders of superiors or violating the conditions of any licence granted by a district superintendent or assistant district superintendent of police for the use of music or for the conduct of assemblies and processions will now have to undergo imprisonment for up to three years with fine, under an amendment to Section 32 of the Police Act.

Previously the sentence for the offence was a fine not exceeding Rs200.

An amendment to Article 164 of the Qanoon-i-Shahadat (law of evidence) has also been passed and an addition of a proviso makes conviction on the basis of modern devices or techniques lawful.

The statement of object and reason of the bill says that terrorism, sectarianism and extremism have gripped the entire country and these acts have become the order of the day. The country is passing thorough an extraordinary situation, which requires stringent measures to be taken to curb this menace that has infiltrated society.

Later, the Senate was prorogued sine die.

dawn.com/news/1298724/terrorism-bill-passed-to-enhance-punishments

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Two killed in gun attack on oil exploration company's vehicle in Gwadar

SYED ALI SHAH — UPDATED 42 minutes ago

Militants attacked a vehicle of an oil exploration company and killed two of its security guards in Balochistan's Gwadar district on Saturday.

Mansoor Gichki, a senior administration officer, told DawnNews that armed militants opened fire at the vehicle of a private oil exploration company in Pasni tehsil of Gwadar.

He said two private security men guarding the officials of the company were killed on the spot. The assailants escaped unhurt from the spot

"The private oil exploration company was engaged in conducting survey of the area when the vehicle of the company was attacked by miscreants," he added.

Levies and police personnel reached the incident site as an investigation into the incident went underway.

"The incident seems to be an act of targeted killing," Gichki said.

There has been no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack. Militants in the area have been attacking security forces and pro-government politicians for more than a decade.

dawn.com/news/1298795/two-killed-in-gun-attack-on-oil-exploration-companys-vehicle-in-gwadar

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Pakistan joins Ashgabat Agreement, Lapis Lazuli Corridor

 

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Saturday announced Pakistan's decision to join the Ashgabat Agreement and the Lapis Lazuli Corridor while addressing a two-day Global Sustainable Transport Conference in the Turkmen capital.

The Ashgabat agreement is a transport agreement between Oman, Iran, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan and seeks to create an international transport and transit corridor.

The objective of the agreement is to facilitate the transport of goods between Central Asia and the Persian Gulf.

The Lapis Lazuli Corridor seeks to foster transit and trade cooperation between Afghanistan, Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey by reducing barriers facing transit trade.

It intends to develop a Custom Procedure Integration in the region.

"I would like to take this historic opportunity to announce our agreement in principle to join the Ashgabat Agreement as well as the Lapis Lazuli Corridor."

"I am positive [the Ashgabat Agreement] will be beneficial not only to Pakistan but also to the entire Central Asian and South Asian region and beyond."

The premier said "peaceful neighbourhood is a key pillar of [Pakistan's] policy", adding that without regional peace and stability "we will not be able to reap the benefits of regional connectivity and integration".

"Through integration of economies, markets and, more importantly cultures, which provide the doorway for peaceful co-existence, I have asked my relevant government ministers to approach the depository countries for an early start of negotiations in this behalf."

Referring to China's one-belt one-road initiative as a "game-changer", the PM said: "It aims to create the world's largest platform to integrate development of various regions in the Eurasian land mass."

He said the most promising element of this initiative is the China Pakistan Economic Corridor.

"A package of multiple infrastructure and development projects that will boost connectivity in the region, help integrate South Asia, China, Central Asia and the Middle East and offer opportunities for hundreds of millions of people in this region."

dawn.com/news/1298791/pakistan-joins-ashgabat-agreement-lapis-lazuli-corridor

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North America

One by one, ISIS social media experts are killed as result of FBI program

Adam Goldman & Eric Schmitt | NYT News Service | Updated: Nov 26, 2016

WASHINGTON: In the summer of 2015, armed US drones over eastern Syria stalked Junaid Hussain, an influential hacker and recruiter for the Islamic State.

For weeks, Hussain was careful to keep his young stepson by his side, and the drones held their fire. But late one night, Hussain left an internet cafe alone, and minutes later a Hellfire missile killed him as he walked between two buildings in Raqqa, Syria, the Islamic State's de facto capital.

Hussain, 21, from Birmingham, England, was a leader of a band of English-speaking computer specialists who had given a far-reaching megaphone to Islamic State propaganda and exhorted online followers to carry out attacks in the West. One by one, US and allied forces have killed the most important of roughly a dozen members of the cell, which the FBI calls "the Legion," as part of a secretive campaign that has largely silenced a powerful voice that led to a surge of counterterrorism activity across the US in 2015 as young men and women came under the influence of its propaganda.

US military, intelligence and law enforcement officials acknowledge that the Islamic State still retains a sophisticated social media arm that could still inspire attacks like those in San Bernardino, California, and in Orlando, Florida, and remains a potent foe suspected of maintaining clandestine cells in Europe. But they point to the coordinated effort against the Legion as evidence of the success the US has had in reducing the Islamic State's ability to direct, enable or inspire attacks against the West.

Initially the threat posed by the Legion was primarily seen as a problem for law enforcement officials. But as the threat worsened last year, and the FBI stepped up the monitoring of terrorism suspects around the country, the bureau pressed the military to focus on the group, according to current and former US officials.

While US and British forces conducted a series of drone strikes on members of the group, the FBI sifted through thousands of the Legion's followers on social media to figure out who had actually been inspired to take action. In the last two years, it has arrested nearly 100 people in cases involving the terrorist group.

Several of the arrests were of people who had direct contact with the Legion. Many of the others were "folks who first came on our radar because we became aware of them" through their connections with Hussain and Reyaad Khan, also a British citizen, who was another leader of the group, according to Andrew McCabe, deputy director of the FBI.

Hussain wore a number of hats, including that of a hacker. He was linked to the release of personal information on more than 1,300 US military and government employees. In March 2015, his group posted the names and addresses of service members with instructions: "Kill them in their own lands, behead them in their own homes, stab them to death as they walk their streets thinking they are safe."

More important were Hussain's efforts as an online recruiter.

According to court records, Hussain communicated with at least four men in four states, imploring them to initiate attacks or help spread the Islamic State's message. Hussain was behind a plot to behead Pamela Geller, the author of a conservative blog. In early 2015, Hussain began communicating with Usaamah Abdullah Rahim, 26, and gave him instructions to kill Geller.

Rahim abruptly abandoned the plan and decided instead to kill a police officer in the Boston area. The bureau was monitoring him, and Rahim was shot and killed in June 2015 after he confronted an FBI surveillance team with a knife. The FBI also arrested two of Rahim's associates, whom prosecutors say were involved in the plot.

Hussain's associates were also busy. Another Briton, Raphael Hostey, was in touch with Mohammed Hamzah Khan, 19, of Bolingbrook, Illinois. Khan tried to travel to Syria with his two younger siblings before he was arrested by the FBI.

In another plot the FBI disrupted, Hussain instructed an Ohio college student named Munir Abdulkader to kidnap a member of the military and record his killing on video. Hussain then asked Abdulkader to attack a police station in the Cincinnati area. As Abdulkader prepared for the suicide operation, he told Hussain about his prowess on the shooting range.

Hussain responded: "Next time ul be shooting kuffar in their face and stomach." Kuffar is a derogatory term for non-Muslims.

Abdulkader, 21, who was born in Eritrea, was arrested and pleaded guilty in July to material support for terrorism and plotting to kill a member of the military and police officers. He was sentenced to 20 years in prison.

And last year, the FBI arrested a North Carolina man, Justin Nolan Sullivan, then 19, and charged him with trying to provide material support to the Islamic State. Federal prosecutors say he planned to target a public venue in a mass shooting. The authorities said that Sullivan and Hussain had discussed making a video of the attack for use as propaganda. When Sullivan's parents voiced concerns about their son buying a silencer, he approached an undercover FBI employee about killing them. Sullivan, who described Hussain as part of the Islamic State "cyberteam," was also charged with fatally shooting his 74-year-old neighbor in the head.

A senior US law enforcement official described the spring and summer of 2015 as a "nightmare" for the FBI. A spike in terrorism activity left the FBI reeling. The strain was so great, said FBI Director James B. Comey, that the bureau was struggling to keep pace with the threat, forcing it to move criminal officers to surveillance squads.

But then, carrying out one strike after the next, US and British forces set out to destroy the Legion. Hostey was reported killed in May. Several months later, Reyaad Khan was killed in a drone strike.

An Australian, Neil Prakash, was targeted in a strike around the same time. A senior US official said Prakash was wounded but survived. In the last few weeks, however, a Middle Eastern government arrested Prakash, another senior US military official said.

Hussain died in August 2015. His wife, Sally Jones, a former punk rock musician from southeastern England, who went with him to Raqqa, is believed to be alive. Shawn Parson, who was Trinidadian and in Hussain's circle, was also killed.

US officials say they have been surprised that the Islamic State has failed to replace Hussain and the other members of the Legion with hackers of comparable ability. But the FBI is still grappling with Hussain's legacy.

"We are still dealing with the repercussions of that development and that recruitment of that network to this day," said McCabe, the FBI official.

timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/middle-east/One-by-one-ISIS-social-media-experts-are-killed-as-result-of-FBI-program/articleshow/55631922.cms

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Shia Fighters Demand US Explanation on Rocket Attack at Meeting

 

Hashd al-Shaabi demanded the US-led international coalition to provide an explanation as a missile launched through the coalition-controlled airspace in the recently-recaptured Tal Afar airport and targeted the leadership meeting of popular forces.

Alalam - Iraq

In a statement, Hashed al-Shaabi ruled out that the missile, which landed only one meter and a half from the convocation, could have been fired by the terrorist group, Iraqi News reported.

“Yesterday a tent hosting a meeting by Hashd al-Shaabi was targeted by a missile, shortly after Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi had left, leaving a number of fighters wounded,” the statement read.

“Inspecting the rocket’s remains, it was concluded that it had not been fired by ISIS (ISIL, IS, Daesh) terrorists; it was a laser-guided missile fired by an aircraft,” the statement added, noting that coalition drones were roaming the area at the time of the meeting.

Highlighting the coalition’s control over the airspace of Western Mosul, the statement demanded "an explanation" for the incident.

However, Abu Mahdi al-Mohandes, a high-profile leader within the popular forces, said the airport is regularly shelled by ISIS.

Hashed al-Shaabi said Friday it has launched a fifth phase of operations seeking to retake the flashpoint town of Tal Afar from ISIS terrorists, deeming the anticipated takeover as a major step towards encircling the group inside Iraq and cutting its supply and escape routes to and from Syria.

en.alalam.ir/news/1889683?

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UW Muslim student suffers concussion in possible hate-crime assault

November 25, 2016

According to campus police, a man threw a bottle at the female student earlier this month. The Council on American-Islamic Relations Washington (CAIR-WA) suspects the incident was motivated by her Muslim faith.

University of Washington police are looking for a man they say threw a glass bottle at a student on campus earlier this month, an incident the Council on American-Islamic Relations Washington (CAIR-WA) suspects was motivated by her Muslim faith.

The circumstances that led to the confrontation remain unclear, campus police Maj. Steve Rittereiser said. The incident remains under investigation.

In a news release Friday, CAIR said the crime fits into a recent spate of reports of harassment against Muslims nationwide, and has caused safety concerns among Muslim students.

“We don’t know why” the student was confronted, CAIR Executive Director Arsalan Bukhari said. “But we have, because of the larger context, some suspicion that it might be because of her headscarf and everything else.”

He said the student suffered a concussion, a swollen eye and a “bad bruise” to her face. Her condition has been improving, he added.

The Muslim civil-rights organization and others will hold a Monday news conference at which the victim will speak and a $5,000 reward will be announced for information leading investigators to a suspect, the news release said.

Police have a vague description of the man, which does not include his race or whether or not he might be a student, Rittereiser said.

The report follows cases of harassment against racial and religious minorities, as well as concern among LGBTQ people, on college campuses nationwide since Donald Trump was elected president on Nov. 8.

University of Washington Bothell officials are investigating another possible hate crime that occurred on that campus earlier this month, in which a group of men reportedly targeted several Muslim women, demanding that they remove their hijabs.

According to recently released FBI statistics, reported hate crimes against all groups in the U.S. rose from 5,479 in 2014 to 5,850 in 2015.

seattletimes.com/seattle-news/crime/uw-muslim-student-suffers-concussion-in-possible-hate-crime-assault/?utm_source=RSS&utm_medium=Referral&utm_campaign=RSS_seattle-news

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San Jose: Islamic center target of hate-filled letter

November 25, 2016

SAN JOSE — The Evergreen Islamic Center on Thanksgiving became the latest target in a string of anti-Muslim attacks that have been reported nationwide since the Nov. 8 election when it received a handwritten letter referring to its members as “vile and filthy people.”

The letter, a copy of which was shared by the San Francisco Bay Area chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, also labeled Muslims the “Children of Satan” and warned that President-Elect Donald Trump would do to them “what Hitler did to the Jews.”

Officials at the Evergreen Islamic Center called San Jose police Thursday evening to report the letter, which was signed by “Americans for a Better Way.” The case has been assigned to a unit that investigates “hate-motivated incidents,” said Sgt. Enrique Garcia.

“The investigation of hate-motivated incidents is definitely a department priority,” he said.

Hasan Z. Rahim, a spokesman for the Evergreen Islamic Center, said the center has received anti-Muslim phone calls in the wake of high-profile terrorist attacks, but never a letter.

“We are not going to be alarmist. It is just one letter,” Rahim said. “But we also are going to have to be vigilant.”

To that end, the center beefed up security for its noon prayer congregational Friday, Rahim said.

Rahim said the letter is yet another example of the anti-Muslim attacks that have occurred since Trump’s victory. There have been more than 100, according to CAIR, and over 700 incidents targeting different minority groups have been documented by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

“Throughout the whole country, there has been a spike against the Muslims,” Rahim said. “And, obviously we don’t have to be geniuses to relate this to the new president-elect.”

During his campaign, Trump proposed creating a Muslim registry and even barring people of the faith from entering the country.

“There’s a new sheriff in town — President Donald Trump. He’s going to cleanse America and make it shine again,” the letter states. “You would be wise to pack your bags and get out of Dodge.”

The Bay Area chapter of CAIR on Friday called for stepped-up protection of places like the Evergreen Islamic Center.

“We urge local law enforcement authorities to work with Muslim community leaders to ensure the safety of all houses of worship,” Executive Director Zahra Billoo said in a statement. “Our state’s political and religious leaders need to speak out against the mainstreaming of Islamophobia that we are witnessing in California and nationwide.”

As troubling as Rahim found the letter, he did not expect it to lead to violence against the center.

“All of us are Americans,” he said. “We are as much a part of this land as anyone else. And we are confident that this being a country of law, no one really can take the law into their own hands and act on their own bigotry.”

mercurynews.com/2016/11/25/san-jose-islamic-center-target-of-hate-filled-letter/?

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Henry Kissinger's stunning revelations about Pakistan in the lead up to the 1971 Indo-Pak war

Shailaja Neelakantan | Updated: Nov 25, 2016

ISLAMABAD: Under US pressure, Pakistan had in November agreed to grant independence to what was then East Pakistan, former US diplomat Henry Kissinger has revealed in an interview in the latest issue of The Atlantic magazine.

Instead, Pakistan attacked India a month later, on December 3, 1971, forcing India to retaliate and eventually joined forces with East Pakistan in what would become the Bangladesh Liberation War.

Kissinger's revelation only confirms that Pakistan appears to have a long history of breaking promises.

If Islamabad genuinely wanted to give East Pakistan autonomy, its air force wouldn't have attacked the Indian Air Force's forward airbases and radar installations under 'Operation Chengiz Khan.' That attack led to India's entry into the war of independence in East Pakistan on the moral side of Bangladeshi nationalist forces.

Kissinger, who in 1971 was US National Security Adviser, said that the US couldn't directly condemn Pakistan's "gross human-rights violations" in East Pakistan as it was using Islamabad as an interlocutor to open diplomatic relations with China.

"To condemn these violations publicly would have destroyed the Pakistani channel, which would be needed for months to complete the opening to China ... After the opening to China via Pakistan, America engaged in increasingly urging Pakistan to grant autonomy to Bangladesh. In November, the Pakistani president agreed with (then US President) Nixon to grant independence the following March," Nixon said in the interview to the US magazine.

To be sure, both Pakistan and China still aren't exactly exemplars of democracy and flourishing human rights.

By Kissinger's own admission, it was a fraught moment in history for US foreign policy.

"The U.S. had to navigate between Soviet pressures; Indian objectives; Chinese suspicions; and Pakistani nationalism. Adjustments had to be made-and would require a book to cover-but the results require no apology. By March 1972-within less than a year of the commencement of the crisis-Bangladesh was independent; the India-Pakistan War ended; and the opening to China completed at a summit in Beijing in February 1972," he said.

timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/pakistan/Henry-Kissingers-stunning-revelations-about-Pakistan-in-the-lead-up-to-the-1971-Indo-Pak-war/articleshow/55617289.cms

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Mideast

Al Azhar condemns Zionist regime for Adhan ban in Al Quds

November 26, 2016

Sheikh Mohammad Mohanna, Al Azhar senior deputy, in a televised interview slammed the Zionist regime crimes against Palestinian nation calling that a dark fame for the international community.

(AhlulBayt News Agency) - Sheikh Mohammad Mohanna, Al Azhar senior deputy, in a televised interview slammed the Zionist regime crimes against Palestinian nation calling that a dark fame for the international community.

He said” What the Zionist regime of Israel is doing against Palestinian nation is a stigma for the international community and at present Zionist regime is the only regime that has maintained its colonial dominance.”

Al Azhar deputy criticized the neutral stance of the international organizations and said,” The cases of violation of the Palestinian Muslims’ rights by the Zionist regime and banning the Adhan (Muslim prayer call) in Al Aqsa Mosque are against all international, democratic and civil rights especially when the international community is deeply asleep.”

Egyptian cleric vowed that God Almighty will soon punish the Zionist regime for the fire it has fueled.

en.abna24.com/service/africa/archive/2016/11/26/794360/story.html?

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Iranian Leader Renews Warning to Muslims over Danger of Takfiri Terrorism

November 26, 2016

TEHRAN (FNA)- Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei extended his condolences to the bereaved Iranian families who lost their beloved ones in the recent terrorist attack in Iraq and a train collision incident in Iran, and called on the Muslim states to keep more vigilant against the danger of Takfiri terrorism.

"The criminal and cruel Takfiri groups, which have been blinded and their nasty plots have been defused by the massive Arbaeen rallies (towards the holy city of Karbala in Southern Iraq) and the unique security established during the pilgrims' presence, took revenge cowardly and heinously and showed again their evil face and filthy nature to every one," Ayatollah Khamenei said in a message on Saturday.

"We also hear bitter and shocking news from other regions of the world, including Nigeria, Pakistan and Afghanistan, about their (Takfiri terrorists') brothers in arms, which renews the warning to all Muslims and all those who care about the danger of the Takfiri stream and the governments that support them," he added.

A truck bomb went off in the Shoumeli village, 120 kilometers Southeast of Baghdad, targeting vehicles loaded with passengers most of them Iranians who were returning home from the holy shrines in Iraq after Arbaeen rituals.

Reports so far put the number of the dead at more than 100, including Iranians, with a lot more injured.

Ayatollah Khamenei also referred to the collision of two passenger trains at a station in Iran’s North-Central province of Semnan on Friday which killed at least 40 people, and ordered the Iranian officials to find the cause(s) of the incident and prevent similar incidents in future through resolving problems.

en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13950906000872

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Israeli forces close off Ibrahimi Mosque as thousands of Israelis attend religious celebration

NOV. 26, 2016

HEBRON (Ma'an) -- Israeli forces Saturday closed the area around the Ibrahimi Mosque in the occupied West Bank district of Hebron to make room for Israeli settlers celebrating the life of a biblical figure.

Thousands of Israelis are expected to arrive at the mosque in order to read the Torah and celebrate the life of Sarah, Prophet Abraham’s wife, who is believed to be buried at the site.

Israeli forces had closed two roads surrounding the Tariq Bin Ziyad School near the mosque with large cement blocks, which prevented Palestinians from moving freely in the area.

An Israeli army spokesperson told Ma’an she would look into reports on the closures.

Severe restrictions for Palestinians -- including denied access to the Ibrahimi Mosque -- are typically implemented by the Israeli authorities during Jewish holidays for alleged security purposes.

The mosque, believed to be the burial place of the prophet Abraham and several other biblical figures, is sacred to both Muslims and Jews and has been the site of oft-violent tensions for decades.

The holy site was split into a synagogue -- known to Jews as the Cave of Patriarchs -- and a mosque after US-born Israeli settler Baruch Goldstein massacred 29 Palestinians inside the mosque in 1994.

Since the split, Muslim worshipers have been denied access to the site during Jewish holidays and vice versa in effort to prevent violence from erupting at the holy site. Located in the center of Hebron -- one of the largest cities in the occupied West Bank -- the Old City was also divided into Palestinian and Israeli-controlled areas at the time, known as H1 and H2.

Some 800 notoriously aggressive settlers now live under the protection of the Israeli military in the Old City, surrounded by more than 30,000 Palestinians.

In addition to severe restrictions on movement that apply to Palestinian residents and not to Israeli settlers living illegally in the area, the Israeli military has historically hindered regular religious activity at the Ibrahimi Mosque, with Israeli forces banning the Muslim call to prayer at the mosque 51 times in March alone.

maannews.com/Content.aspx?ID=774137

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Erdogan, Putin discuss Syria as Turkish-backed rebels push to Al Bab

November 26th, 2016

ISTANBUL: Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan discussed an attack on Turkish troops in Syria with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin on Friday as Turkish-backed rebels pressed an offensive to take the Syrian city of al-Bab from the militant Islamic State group.

The Turkish military has said Thursday’s air strike, which killed three of its soldiers, was thought to have been carried out by the Syrian air force. It would be the first time Turkish soldiers have died at the hands of Syrian government forces.

Russia is Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s main military backer, while Turkey backs the rebels fighting to oust him.

Erdogan told Putin that Turkey respected Syria’s territorial integrity and that its military incursion, launched in August to repel the IS from the border, showed its determination to fight militant groups, sources in the Turkish presidency said.

The Kremlin said the discussion on Syria was constructive and that both sides agreed to continue active dialogue to coordinate efforts against international terrorism.

The Turkish sources said both leaders also agreed to try to resolve the humanitarian crisis in Aleppo, where a government siege of the rebel-held east, aggravated by renewed, frequent air strikes on hospitals in the past week, have left residents desperately short of medicines, food and fuel.

Rebels in east Aleppo have agreed to a UN plan for aid delivery and medical evacuations, but the United Nations is awaiting a green light from Russia and the Syrian government, the UN said on Thursday.

The killing of the Turkish soldiers on Thursday — the first anniversary of Turkey’s downing of a Russian jet over Syria — raised fears of an escalation in an already complex battlefield.

Ankara and Moscow only restored ties, which had been damaged by the jet incident, in August. They continue to pursue conflicting goals in Syria, although Turkey has of late been less openly critical of Assad than in the past.

The advance by largely Turkmen and Arab rebels backed by Turkey towards al-Bab, the last urban stronghold of Islamic State in the northern Aleppo countryside, potentially pits them against both Kurdish fighters and Syrian government forces.

Another Turkish soldier was killed and five wounded in clashes with Islamic State on Friday, the military said.

The latest casualties bring the number of Turkish soldiers killed in Syria to 17 since Ankara launched an incursion three months ago to try to push Islamic State and Kurdish fighters from Syrian territory along its border.

The Turkish military also said four Syrian rebels had been killed and 25 wounded in clashes in the 24 hours to Friday morning. Turkish fighter jets were continuing to strike Islamic State targets near al-Bab, it said.

Al-Bab is of particular strategic importance to Turkey because Kurdish-dominated militias have also been pursuing a campaign to seize it. Ankara is determined to prevent Kurdish forces from joining up cantons they control along the Turkish border, for fear it will stoke Kurdish separatism at home.

Turkey is backing the Syrian rebels with troops, tanks and artillery, as well as reconnaissance flights along the border. Washington has said the U.S.-led coalition, of which Nato member Turkey is a part, is not providing support for the operation.

dawn.com/news/1298692/erdogan-putin-discuss-syria-as-turkish-backed-rebels-push-to-al-bab

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Warplanes hit Islamic State targets in northern Syria: Turkish army

November 26th, 2016

Turkish warplanes destroyed 12 Islamic State targets while one Turkish soldier was killed in a clash with militants during an offensive in northern Syria, Turkey's military said on Saturday.

Turkey and Syrian rebels are carrying out an operation to push the jihadists from the border after an air strike on Thursday killed three Turkish soldiers. The Turkish military believes the strike was carried out by the Syrian air force.

President Tayyip Erdogan discussed that attack with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin on Friday. Russia is Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's main military backer, while Turkey backs the rebels fighting to oust him.

The latest Turkish air strikes and clash occurred over the last 24 hours in a Turkey-backed operation by Syrian rebels, dubbed Euphrates Shield, to drive both the jihadists and a Kurdish militia away from the Syrian side of the Turkish border.

The Turkish solder was killed in a clash as Syrian rebels gained control of northern Syria's Anifah district, the armed forces said in a daily statement on the operation.

State-run Anadolu agency said three Turkish soldiers were also wounded in the clash. The death toll of Turkish soldiers in the Euphrates Shield operation, launched on August 24, is 18.

The killing of the Turkish soldiers on Thursday - the first anniversary of Turkey's downing of a Russian jet over Syria - raised fears of an escalation in an already complex battlefield.

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Ankara and Moscow only restored ties, which had been damaged by the jet incident, in August. While they continue to pursue conflicting goals in Syria, Turkey has of late been less openly critical of Assad than in the past.

(Reporting by Orhan Coskun; Writing by Daren Butler; Editing by Alexander Smith)

reuters.com/article/us-mideast-crisis-syria-turkey-idUSKBN13L0B4?rpc=401

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Grand Ayatollah Sistani: Hilla terrorists to pay for carnage

November 26, 2016

Iraq’s top cleric Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani has condemned a recent deadly terrorist attack targeting pilgrims near the Iraqi city of Hillah, saying the perpetrators of the carnage will pay for their crimes on the battleground.

(AhlulBayt News Agency) - Iraq’s top cleric Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani has condemned a recent deadly terrorist attack targeting pilgrims near the Iraqi city of Hillah, saying the perpetrators of the carnage will pay for their crimes on the battleground.

Ayatollah Ahmad al-Safi, the religious leader’s representative, cited him as making the remarks on Friday, a day after the attack.

The terrorist assault involved a truck bomb that exploded at a gas station in the Shomali Village in the suburbs of al-Hillah, killing at least 73 people, including many Iranians.

The incident occurred as pilgrims were returning from Karbala, where they marked Arba’een, the 40th day to follow the anniversary of the martyrdom of Imam Hussein (PBUH), the third Shia Imam.

The Daesh terrorist group claimed responsibility for the attack.

Daesh has been ravaging parts of Iraq in a large-scale terrorist offensive. Iraqi military and volunteer forces are engaged in battles with the terrorist group.

Grand Ayatollah Sistani said the terrorists, who had failed to target the pilgrims during the Arba’een rituals in Karbala, sought to attack them at a gas station outside of the holy city.

“This act of terror will increase the number of those loving Imam Hussein, and those who committed it will meet their comeuppance on battlegrounds,” he said.

Iraqi security forces had established tight security on the main paths to Karbala and in the city itself during the rituals.

Safi, meanwhile, expressed his appreciation of the Iraqi people’s efforts to help create the safest circumstances possible around the rituals.

Iran’s counselor in Karbala, Massoud Hosseini, has said that 28 Iranian identification cards had been found at the site of the explosion. He announced that 71 bags of human remains were being transferred to Iran for DNA testing in order to identify the victims.

Also on Friday, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani condemned the attack as “desperate” and said Iran was determined to continue its “all-out fight” against terrorism.

en.abna24.com/service/middle-east-west-asia/archive/2016/11/26/794324/story.html?

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Palestinians, foreigners help Israel fight fire

November 26th, 2016

JERUSALEM: The first foreign firefighting planes on Friday started helping Israel tackle a vicious wave of wildfires which have forced tens of thousands to flee their homes.

Faced for the past four days with fires across the country fed by drought and high winds, Israel has been promised airborne assistance by Russia, France, Turkey, Cyprus, Greece, Italy and Croatia.

On the ground, Palestinian firefighters on Thursday night joined the Israelis, sending four fire engines to the northern city of Haifa and four more to the village of Beit Meir, near Jerusalem.

In the cooperative village of religious Jews, where about 400 residents were evacuated from their homes, Israeli and Palestinian crews fought side by side against the flames.

The fires appeared to be easing somewhat on Friday, despite the persistent wind, although authorities warned that they could flare up again at any time.

“Things can change and develop as we speak,” police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said.

Israeli foreign ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon said some of the foreign planes were in action on Friday. “We are deeply grateful to the international community,” he said. “Its mobilisation proves that in times of crisis we can count on many friends in this region and beyond.”

The rising number of fires since Tuesday has stretched Israel’s capacity to deal with them, raising questions over lessons learned since a devastating blaze near Haifa killed 44 people in 2010. Some are suspected of criminal negligence leading to accidental fires in tinder-dry woodland and undergrowth, while there are also suspicions that some may have been deliberate and related to the Israel-Palestinian conflict.

And Education Minister Naftali Bennett of the far-right Jewish Home party appeared to blame the alleged arson on members of the Arab minority when he said the fires could not have been lit by Jews.

“Only those to whom the land does not belong to are capable of burning it,” he Tweeted.

Some Israeli media joined in, speculating on the possible emergence of a “fire intifada”, or Palestinian uprising, but Yediot Aharonot newspaper disapproved.

“When the prime minister calls this terror, even if he doesn’t say Arabs, a link is made that is supposed to be understood by everyone, ‘This is a wave of terror, the Arabs are burning down the country,’” its commentator Alex Fishman wrote.

dawn.com/news/1298705/palestinians-foreigners-help-israel-fight-fire

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Southeast Asia

PM Calls On Youths To Help Spread Message Of Authentic Islam

26 November, 2016

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 26 (Bernama) -- Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak wants the younger generation to help spread the message of authentic Islam, so that their brothers and sisters are not led astray into darkness and violence.

The Prime Minister said many of the people who have committed terrorist acts on behalf of Daesh were known for their lack of devotion, but were then rapidly radicalised, allowing their anger and frustration to be channelled by a perverted message.

"Some who travelled to join Daesh actually bought copies of a book titled 'Islam for Dummies'. That sounds like a joke. But it is a hollow, bitter one, that has destroyed the lives of too many.

"The true, authentic Islam would have corrected them. It would have told them that committing atrocities for Daesh will not redeem their past, sinful lives," he said in his keynote address at Kuala Lumpur International Youth Discourse (KLIYD) 2016, here, today.

Najib said the true, authentic Islam had built civilisations that were the glory of the world.

"There were citadels of learning and tolerance, where Muslims, Christians and Jews lived and worked, side by side, in harmony," he said.

The event themed 'Empowering Youth for a Safer and Better Future' and participated by some 1,000 youths from around the region was also attended by Defence Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein and Deputy Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Reezal Merican Naina Merican.

Najib said Malaysia was far from immune to the problem of terrorism, noting that last June the country had faced the first successful Daesh-linked attack in Puchong, in which eight people were injured.

He said the government fully recognised the seriousness of this threat and had taken a number of steps to address it, including passing the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act or SOSMA, the Special Measures against Terrorism in Foreign Countries Act and the National Security Council Act.

"This is so that we have legislation that allows us to deal with threats promptly and let me be clear, I make no apology for making the security and safety of all Malaysians my first priority," he said.

Apart from misinterpretation of Islam, Najib noted that issues like unemployment, working poverty, disenfranchisement and marginalisation among the young could also lead to the paths of radicalisation.

"We know that young people need channels and opportunities to improve themselves and ensure that no one is left behind, including by the forces of globalisation.

"These issues are also addressed by the plan we put in place after I took office, to reach high income nation status by 2020," he said.

On this, Najib said the country was on track to attract investment needed to keep the economy growing and provide new jobs and high skills training necessary for the younger generation.

The Prime Minister said the event today with this particular theme was just another part of the government's ongoing efforts to engage the youth in order to hear their voices and respond to their concerns.

"We need your support and participation, which is why I am glad to see so many of you here today to share your thoughts and to discuss ways to forge even better partnerships between government and youth to ensure we remain on the path of peace and harmony," he said.

Najib said the government recognised that young people was the country's most important resource and it had been the solemn responsibility of the government to do all it can to ensure that the decades to come are underpinned by a prosperous, inclusive, secure and happy society.

In fact, he noted that many measures had been announced to help Malaysia's youth in the Budget last month, including extending the 1Malaysia Training Scheme for graduates, tax deductions for companies to support internships for students and the 2050 National Transformation Plan.

"My vision for Malaysia is that we become the best community, the "khayra ummah", of our age. Help us to realise that most valuable of prizes - to be the best community in God's eyes. That, now, is my challenge to you," he added.

-- BERNAMA

bernama.com/bernama/v8/ge/newsgeneral.php?id=1306182

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Indonesia arrest militant planning bomb strike on Myanmar embassy over plight of Rohingya Muslims

26 November, 2016

Police in Indonesia have arrested a suspected Islamist militant and seized a large quantity of bomb making material that he planned to use in attacks on government buildings and the Myanmar embassy in Jakarta next month, a police spokesman said.

The suspect, arrested at his home in Majalengka regency in West Java earlier this week, was identified as Rio Priatna Wibawa, 23, who is believed to be a member of an Indonesian group that supports Islamic State.

Local media reported that the amount of explosives seized would have resulted in a blast twice as powerful as the bomb that killed 202 people in a Bali nightclub in 2002.

Police also confiscated some books, a black flag, rounds of bullets and several weapons, including an air rifle and a machete, police spokesman Boy Rafli Amar told a press conference on Saturday.

scmp.com/news/asia/southeast-asia/article/2049454/indonesia-arrest-militant-planning-bomb-strike-myanmar?

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Africa

Swaziland marriage law leaves Muslims in legal quagmire

26 November 2016

The state of Swaziland continues to deny the wishes of its minority Muslim community to recognize marriages solemnized under the Islamic law, throwing couples of the faith in a legal quagmire.

Apart from the Swazi Muslim couples, their innocent children too are suffering since they are viewed as illegitimate by their society due to failure of the state to recognize the union of their parents.

Swazi Muslims like Zainab Muhamad urge the state to give their unions the same status as civil marriages since she pointed out that such rites were being held under the Islamic law, which too were legally-binding contracts for believers.

Muhamad also said there was a need for “Qazis”, or experts on Islamic law and jurisprudence, to decide on court cases concerning marriages between Muslim couples.

“It would be unfair for Swazi courts using state laws to make judgment on our marriages…Our [Islamic] law is based on the teachings of the Quran and the Prophet, and it cannot and should not be interpreted by anyone except individuals that have studied it,” she said.

Legal woes

Members of the Muslim community face the most trying times when divorce cases go to the courts, where matters pertaining to properties and children are contested.

However, before issues about child custody or grounds for divorce can be dissected, the court begins to ask whether the state could even recognize such unions as marriages.

Last month, a senior Magistrate Phathaphatha Mdluli’s decision regarding the case of a Muslim couple had raised serious concerns about the legality of Islamic marriages in the tiny Southern African kingdom, where evangelical Christianity is predominant.

The case involved Kattissa Carrimo and Sultan Abdul Carrimo, who got married in 1996 in Mbabane, Swaziland’s administrative capital, under the Islamic law.

According to court papers, the wife said she wanted the state to recognize her divorce, which took place under the Islamic law when she found out her husband had committed adultery.

She said she left her marital home on February 2016 and told her husband that she was terminating their marriage under terms of the Islamic marriage contract. The husband, according to the papers, had also repeated the words “I divorce you” three times, which is considered enough in Islamic law to annul the marriage.

The wife also sought an order to take custody of the minor child.

However, the magistrate halted the divorce, raising the question whether the court could entertain such matters at all since the marriage between the parties had been solemnized under the Islamic law.

Muslims, just 2 percent

According to the U.S. Department of State’s International Religious Freedom Report 2011, 90 percent of Swaziland's estimated 1.2 million population is Christian, while about 2 percent is Muslim and the remaining follow other religions.

The report noted there was distrust by Swazis towards other non-Christian religions.

“Members of society often viewed non-Christian religious groups with suspicion, especially in rural areas… In general, however, there was broad societal respect for religious freedom,” it said.

The Swazi Muslim community, according to the report, is divided into two sections: the local Swazi Muslim community, and the refugees and immigrants originating from Asia and other African countries such as Somalia, Sudan and Nigeria.

Also, the report highlighted the continued growth of Islam in Swaziland through Islamic banking, Muslim and Arab investments, Muslim immigrants and mosques built in some parts of rural communities in the north.

“As a result, the Swazi Muslim community has been growing and might continue to do so in the face of discrimination and suspicion,” it said.

Swazi law on marriages

According to Imam Luqman Asooka at the Zulwini Islamic Centre, Swazi common law recognizes Muslim marriages.

He said the law empowers religious leaders to solemnize marriage according to the Swazi law and custom or any other law and custom except civil rites. “And, Islam and Christian marriages fall in ‘under any other law and custom’ type of marriages’,” Asooka said.

“Swaziland’s constitution guarantees freedom of worship and recognizes existence of other religions in the country and Islam is one of them,” he added.

However, Dumisani Dlamini, a legal officer with the nongovernmental organization, Women and Law in Southern Africa, disputed Asooka’s interpretation of the law.

Dlamini said currently Muslim marriages were not part of Swazi laws, which meant they were not recognized as part of the Marriage Act of 1964.

“For Muslim couples to enjoy the legal rights and protection similar to couples married in civil rites, they need to conduct a separate civil ceremony. Such a separate civil ceremony or marriage should be solemnized by a marriage officer who is duly gazetted [authorized] by the government.

“That is the position now for Swazis who are Muslims and, I think, that's the basis of the magistrate’s judgment on this case [concerning the Carrimo case mentioned earlier],” Dlamini said.

He explained that since the Marriage Act 25 of 1964 did not recognize marriages solemnized under the Islamic law, Muslim spouses and their children end up being viewed as illegitimate by the state and the society, and suffered from discrimination.

Moreover, Dlamini said Muslim women end up being denied spousal benefits to claim maintenance in terms of the Maintenance of Surviving Spouse Act 27 of 1990, and could not inherit from a fair distribution of properties after dissolution of marriages.

The only recourse left to such couples is then to approach the High Court, where most people cannot afford the expensive litigation process and the verdict is not guaranteed to be in their favor.

South Africa model

Experts point to the example of neighboring South Africa as a model country to follow.

According to Asooka, South Africa engages imams not only on religious matters but also for settling disputes involving property and custody of children of Muslims.

“The South African government has trained religious leaders, including imams to perform civil marriages, it can be a learning curve even for our government to involve religious leaders in the empowerment of its own people,” he said.

Dlamini agreed South Africa was indeed miles ahead than Swaziland. He said a classic example of this was the official appointment of over 100 Muslim clerics as marriage officers in that country.

“Their accreditation in terms of the marriage act enabled Muslim marriages to be legally recognized, enabling imams to officiate over marriage unions,” he said.

But while most people agree South Africa was indeed miles ahead, it remains unclear if the voices of the Muslim community is reaching the top echelons of power in Swaziland.

Esther Dlamini, deputy speaker in the House of Assembly and chairwoman of the Justice and Constitutional Affairs Portfolio Committee, said: "Presently, we are not sure how compatible our laws are to Muslim marriages. The issue raised by the magistrate [in the Carrimo case] requires critical consideration because there are lot of religions which might also want to be accommodated by our laws.

“Presently, the issue of Muslim marriages is an isolated issue raised by [the magistrate] Mdluli. But if it can be a frequent issue, that could mean we would have to make a motion in parliament and order the Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs to make a bill to be debated in parliament.”

But how many cases like the Carrimo one would have to surface before lawmakers like Dlamini would think it is "frequent" enough to merit a reform of the marriage act? Only time will tell.

aa.com.tr/en/africa/swaziland-marriage-law-leaves-muslims-in-legal-quagmire/693456

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Islamic State claims deadly attack on Egyptian soldiers

AFRICA / 26 November 2016

Ismailia, Egypt - Islamic State claimed responsibility on Friday for an attack on an Egyptian military checkpoint in northern Sinai Peninsula that killed at least 12 soldiers.

An Islamist insurgency in the rugged, thinly populated Sinai has gained pace since the military toppled President Mohamed Mursi of the Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt's oldest Islamist movement, in mid-2013 following mass protests against his rule.

The militant group staging the insurgency pledged allegiance to Islamic State in 2014 and adopted the name Sinai Province. It is blamed for killing hundreds of Egyptian soldiers and police since then.

“An armed group of terrorist elements attacked a checkpoint in North Sinai on Thursday night using four-wheel-drives rigged with explosives,” the military said in a statement that put the death toll at eight soldiers and three attackers.

Medical sources said four more bodies were found on Friday, bringing the toll to 12 out of the checkpoint's 31 soldiers. Twelve soldiers were wounded and one was missing.

Islamic State said it had killed 15 soldiers, destroyed two armoured vehicles and taken weapons from the checkpoint before blowing it up.

Witnesses said security forces set up extra mobile and static checkpoints in and around Arish city, the capital of North Sinai province, and were searching for the attackers.

iol.co.za/news/africa/islamic-state-claims-deadly-attack-on-egyptian-soldiers-2093601?

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Australia

Australia seeks extradition of Islamic State terrorist Neil Prakash

Nov 26, 2016

The federal government wants Islamic State fighter Neil Prakash brought to Australia to face a raft of terrorism charges.

The Justice Minister, Michael Keenan, says the government has formally requested the extradition of the Islamic State recruiter, propagandist and attack planner.

One of Australia's most wanted terrorists, Neil Prakash, has been arrested in Turkey months after a drone strike that was believed to have killed him in Iraq. Vision courtesy Seven News Melbourne.

Prakash has been arrested in Turkey six months after he was believed to have been killed in a drone strike in neighbouring Iraq.

"Prakash is subject to a formal extradition request from Australia," a spokeswoman for the minister said on Saturday.

Prakash's arrest was the result of close collaboration between Australian and Turkish authorities, the government says.

The government reported Prakash's death in May on the basis of advice from the United States he had been killed in an airstrike.

The government has defended the error, saying its capacity to verify such claims in an ungoverned war zone is limited.

Prakash, who lived in Melbourne before leaving to join IS in 2013, is accused of involvement in several foiled Australian terrorist plots.

The AFP issued a warrant for Prakash's arrest in 2015 for being a member of a terrorist organisation and for incursions into a foreign state with the intention of ­engaging in hostile activities.

The 25-year-old could also face other charges related to foreign fighting, recruitment and attack planning. The Muslim convert is believed to have been a key conduit for foreign fighters travelling to the conflict zone.

The charge of being linked to a terrorist organisation alone carries a maximum penalty of 25 years' imprisonment.

Prakash also goes by the name Abu Khaled al-Cambodi and was alleged to be communicating with a group of Melbourne men plotting an Anzac Day terrorist attack last year.

He was also intercepted talking to a 16-year-old boy from Auburn, in Sydney's west, who was arrested on Anzac Day this year as he allegedly met an undercover officer who he thought could sell him a gun.

In an interview with Sky News on May 5, Attorney General George Brandis announced that Prakash was one of about 12 Islamic State officials hit by a drone strike while at a meeting in suburban Mosul.

He described Prakash as "the highest value target from an Australian point of view in the Middle East".

But the fact Prakash has been captured alive could present challenges for the government, including the offences he can be charged with, and where he should be remanded if he is returned to Australia.

Radicalisation in the Australian prison system, particularly in Victoria and NSW, has been difficult to quell, particularly when it comes to high-profile inmates, as Prakash would be.

watoday.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/australia-seeks-extradition-of-islamic-state-terrorist-neil-prakash-20161126-gsy6fv.html?

 

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