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Islamic World News ( 18 Jan 2010, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Taliban militants attack Afghan capital

Paris: Petrol attack on actress in Muslim-themed play

Can this "Peace" Exhibition be the vision of Islam?

'Toronto 18' leader apologizes to Canadians

Bangla experts call Hasina’s India tour a ‘bold shift

‘Urdu, Sufism and madrasas enriched Indian culture’

20 killed in US drone attack in Waziristan

25 top militants set up base in Sopore

Kuwait journalists blast plan for tougher media laws

Pak chargesheets 5 US Muslims for terror links

Ulama to work for mother-child health drive

All terrorists who stormed Taj hotel were Indians: Kasab

In Nigeria, 26 dead in weekend clashes

Red Cross: 5,000 in Northern Nigeria displaced after violence between Christians, Muslims

Egypt's Orthodox Coptic Christians under the gun

Plans for big London mosque lapse

Somalia protests after Kenya arrests MPs in riot swoop

Al Qaeda Threatens New Strikes

After lull, a 'hot' year ahead for J&K?

'Jihadis at gates of Pak nuclear bases'

Aged Osama? It's Spain MP on US poster

Iran suspends pilgrimages to Saudi Arabia over religious police

US to spend $200m in Pakistan to revamp education

U.S. to protect Pakistan’s nuclear facilities

Iran to boost security for nuclear scientists

India’s BSF kills 1 during infiltration bid

Pak terror infrastructure intact: Rao

J&K security tightened before Republic Day

Rana likely to be arraigned on Jan 21

Jaish commander killed in Jammu

Germany and Israel hold joint cabinet meeting in Berlin

Call for Palestinians to investigate Gaza 'crimes'

Pak sacrifices in war on terror going unrecognised

Jamaat for world moot on Kashmir Day

NOWSHERA: Six injured as Afghans clash with police

LARKANA: Woman, man killed

Compiled By Akshay New Age Islam News Bureau

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Taliban militants attack Afghan capital

Jon Boone and Julian Borger in Kabul, Peter Walker, James Meikle

18 January 2010

• At least 10 killed in series of Kabul attacks

• Up to two dozen militants target ministries

• Hamid Karzai says security restored to city centre

A series of co-ordinated attacks by presumed Taliban militants in the Afghan capital of Kabul has killed at least 10 people and injured 32. Seven of those responsible were among the dead.

Explosions and gunfire rocked several parts of the city during sustained attacks against ministries and other targets including shopping centres.

After more than three hours of fighting, the Afghan president, Hamid Karzai, said security had been restored to the capital. He accused "enemies of Afghanistan" of "trying to spread fear among Kabul citizens". Searches were continuing for the attackers, officials said. Reports of casualties remained confused.

It is the most serious attack on the city for years and rated by some as the biggest since the Taliban were ousted. Militants initially struck around the presidential palace and several government ministries. At least three blasts shook the district.

Gunfire echoed through the streets as Afghan police and soldiers tried to track down what a Taliban spokesman said was a force of 20 armed militants. Some reports put at the number higher. Security forces evacuated a large part of the city centre, forcing back traffic and pedestrians and closing shops and schools.

The attack, the most significant in Kabul since militants stormed the justice ministry and other government buildings in February last year, took place on the day Karzai was to swear in several members of his new cabinet following his re-election in August in a vote heavily criticised for fraud. The country's parliament has twice rejected many of Karzai's cabinet nominations.

Zemerai Bashary, a spokesman for the interior ministry, said eight suicide bombers were involved in the attack. Four targeted the central Kabul shopping centre and two or three were found in another building nearby.

Bashary said he could confirm a policeman had been killed and four others wounded, while 20 to 30 civilians had been wounded.

The UN and the US embassy in Afghanistan condemned the attacks. Aleem Siddique, a spokesman for the UN embassy, said: "It is of particular concern that this took place in an area with so many civilians present. We are monitoring the situation closely while Afghan and international forces attend the scene to bring these attacks to an end.

"It does seem to be the largest attack that I have experienced since I've been in the city and that is four or five years. There are so many attackers in so many locations. This is clearly an attack on the government of Afghanistan, with several teams of suicide bombers."

In February last year the Taliban attacked a string of government ministries in a similar manner. The fighting did not last as long and afffected a smaller area of town.

The UN spokesman said he had heard 12 blasts. "Everything was used – rockets, suicide bombs and small arms." Afghan police and soldiers with Nato support are reported to be going from one building to another in central Kabul, searching for surviving attackers.

It was unclear how many teams and distinct targets there were, as several of the buildings affected were close together. Initial reports suggested a group targeting the central bank in the middle of town fled into a shopping centre after Afghan forces arrived and continued a gunfight with army and police there. The Serena hotel is nearby and may have been caught in the crossfire. It is popular with foreigners and has been targeted before.

The US embassy said: "The disregard for Afghan lives is deplorable." It would continue to work with allies and partners "to defeat our common enemy and build a more secure and prosperous future".

Separately there were reports of a suicide car bomb attack outside another shopping centre, near the foreign ministry, and a large blast near a cinema in a district south of the presidential palace.

The finance ministry has hosted a number of top-level meetings in recent days, including a major gathering of ambassadors on Saturday for talks in the run up to the London conference on Afghanistan at the end of the month. The attack will be a major blow to Karzai's aspirations to hold an international conference in the capital later in the year. The hope had been that a ministerial level meeting would symbolise the growing strength of an Afghan government increasingly taking the lead role in the effort to stabilise the country.

Foreign consultants inside the ministry building said that after initial blasts and gunfire shortly before 10am (6am GMT) they were moved into a different building and told to stay in the corridors.

During the hours that followed they heard about seven large explosions, which were thought were rocket attacks. They were told that shots outside the building were from a gunfight between Afghan security forces and the militants.

One worker said US military vehicles, including Humvees, had been seen in Pashtunistan Square, a major roundabout overlooked by the finance ministry, the Serena hotel, the central bank and the Ariana cinema.

At least 11 people died, including five UN staff, when gunmen stormed a guesthouse in October. The Serena hotel was hit by a rocket in that attack, although it failed to explode. Earlier that month a suicide car bomber struck outside the Indian embassy, killing at least 17 people.

The latest attacks comes ahead of the planned "surge" of foreign troops, which will see an 37,000 forces from the US, UK and other Nato nations go to the country.


Paris: Petrol attack on actress in Muslim-themed play

18 January 2010

An actress was doused with petrol in Paris in an attack thought to be related to her role in a feminist play she wrote about Algerian women. The 45-year-old, who goes by the name of Rayhana, said two men approached her while she was walking to the theatre on Tuesday, grabbed her from behind, slapped her face and poured petrol on her. "I could smell the petrol. A flame brushed my hat and then I ran,” she said.

She has since been placed under police protection and the investigation into the attack is being led by the anti-terrorism unit, which has tackled many cases involving Muslim extremists.

Rayhana is starring in At My Age, I Still Hide to Have a Smoke, a play she wrote about a group of women who chat about their lives during a visit to an Algiers spa. The sell-out play features unflattering views on Muslim men (...)


Can this "Peace" Exhibition be the vision of Islam?

By T. M. Zackriah Badsha

18 January 2010

Readers may recall that the Peace Exhibition was forced to move out of Chennai to Injambakkam, a suburb of Chennai, thanks to the efforts of the mainstream Sunni and Shia Muslims. The exhibition is deceptively entitled "Peace" when it really means "Peace on our terms."

I usually visit this event to buy books. On Friday, Jan 15, 2010 I was there and unusually, I found the exhibition to crowded, but only in the stalls. The lecture hall itself was only partially occupied. Even while browsing through the books at about 8.30 pm, I could hear the shrill voice a speaker who was speaking in Tamil lamenting over the fact that the present rulers of the country and our state of Tamil Nadu are not aware of the Islamic system of governance. He was absolutely convinced that all problems of our country will be solved once Islamic principles are introduced. Of course by that he meant his own ideology.

This kind of vituperative speech, openly advocating the principles of one particular ideology is against the ethos of secularism enshrined in our constitution. No one should be allowed to preach exclusiveness in a multi-religious and multi-cultural society. Not only non-Muslims but a large number of Muslims may be offended at the needlessly aggressive tone adopted by many speakers.

Another area of concern is the mushrooming of the so-called "Islamic" schools everywhere. These schools actually make young students unfit to live as citizens of the world in the twenty first century. As a person who spent nearly forty years of his life in the Collegiate Education Department of the Government of Tamil Nadu, I would like to caution the parents against falling into this trap and spending large sums of money only to produce young people with narrow minds who have no love or affection for people professing other faiths or ideologies. Not only Muslims but all other backward communities should make full use of the Government and Aided schools and colleges where students will get better education at a fraction of the cost involved in schools based on exclusive ideologies.

The author is a social activist and former Joint Director of Collegiate Education, Government of Tamil Nadu. He is based in Chennai.


Toronto 18' leader apologizes to Canadians

By Megan O'Toole

January 15, 2010

A far cry from the firebrand who once called on his peers to unleash a bloody jihad on the residents of Toronto, a clean-cut Zakaria Amara appeared contrite, even sorrowful, as he issued an open apology to Canadians yesterday.

"I can only hope that when all of you, Muslim and non-Muslim, witness the type of man I will one day make out of myself and the type of activities I'll be involved in, then you will perhaps contemplate accepting me once more into the fold," said the 24-year-old, donning a collared shirt, dark vest and close-cropped hair.

Appearing before Justice Bruce Durno for a sentencing hearing, the convicted leader of the "Toronto 18" group acknowledged while most people would likely "never forgive" his actions, his extremist views have been profoundly changed by his 3½ years in the Don Jail.

In October, Amara pleaded guilty to participating in a terrorist organization that plotted attacks intended to "cripple" Canada. The scheme, foiled in the spring of 2006, involved detonating powerful truck bombs at the Toronto Stock Exchange, the CSIS regional office on Front Street and at a military base between Toronto and Ottawa.

A splinter faction of the group also talked of storming Parliament.

During yesterday's sentencing submissions at Brampton Superior Court, defence requested a jail term of 18 to 20 years for Amara, while Crown attorney Iona Jaffe asked for life imprisonment -- something she argued is necessary for Canadians to "feel secure."

The final sentence will be handed down on Monday.

Though the Toronto 18 plot was foiled, Ms. Jaffe said, that does not invalidate its devastating implications, nor remove Amara's accountability. Had the plan succeeded, scores of people would have been killed, maimed or left to mourn their loved ones, she pointed out, and the city's sense of security shattered.

"He planned mass murder. It's that simple," she told the judge.

Ms. Jaffe also cited the level of deliberation and planning by ringleader Amara, from assembling and notating a "bomb manual," to selecting targets and determining quantities of chemicals, to building an electronic detonator.

"He didn't just join a terrorist group," Ms. Jaffe said. "He formed one, and then he led it."

Addressing the judge directly, Amara said when he was planning the bombings, he had become "ideologically locked" into a position of extremism and isolated from broader society. But his time in prison exposed him to people who "challenged and confronted" his views, he said.

"I became friends with a Jewish inmate who was the first to greet me when I entered the range," Amara said. "He once told me that had we been living in Palestine we would have probably killed each other and died failing to realize what good friends we would have made if only we had talked."

Defence lawyer Michael Lacy told Judge Durno that since his arrest, Amara has gained "genuine insight" and expressed "genuine remorse" over his actions. Mr. Lacy pointed to a report by psychiatrist Arif Syed, which suggested Amara had opened his eyes to the flaws in his jihadi ideology.

"Once something is flawed, it can never again be ideal," Dr. Syed wrote, further noting Amara showed a "strong willingness" to change.

The report linked Amara's descent into extremism to emotional troubles brought on by his parents' divorce and his rejection from a post-secondary Islamic studies program.

For the purposes of sentencing, Mr. Lacy asked the court to take into consideration Amara's guilty plea and his use of yesterday's forum to advance a message of peace rather than extremism, noting that while the terrorist plot must be strongly denounced, "there is another side to the young 24-year-old man who stands before you today."

Amara broke down in tears when Mr. Lacy read aloud a letter from his wife, in which Nada Farooq said the couple's four-year-old daughter "prays every night that she gets to have her dad home."


Bangla experts call Hasina’s India tour a ‘bold shift

PTI | Dhaka

Bangladeshi experts have largely welcomed the outcome of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s maiden India tour calling it a ‘bold shift’ in bilateral ties as she blunted opposition criticisms alleging the deals with New Delhi to have compromised the country’s national interests.

Former diplomat Farook Sobhan said if Bangladesh wanted to accelerate its growth between eight and nine per cent and achieve the status of a middle-income country, “there is no other way but to build regional and sub-regional economic cooperation.”

International relations professor Shahiduzzaman of Dhaka University said the prime minister’s India visit shifted the paradigm of Indo-Bangla relations and “the visit proves that Bangladesh’s foreign policy has become dynamic.”

Former diplomat Harun-ur Rashid said Hasina’s India visit was expected to have removed the confusion over Bangladesh’s relation with India. They were speaking at the Daily Star held roundtable on “Bangladesh-India Summit 2010.”

The roundtable coincided with Hasina’s press briefing on her last week’s three-day India tour when she answered the opposition allegations of “selling out country’s interests”Former state minister for foreign affairs and main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) chief Khaleda Zia’s adviser Reaz Rahmanm however, described the outcome of the summit as “very disappointing.”

“Look at the Indian gains. There are too many gifts for India. The balance of the game was seriously skewed,” he said, terming the move to open up Bangladesh’s southeastern Chittagong and southwestern Mongla ports to India “mega concessions”.

He said Bangladesh made four “mega concessions” in bilateral security, connectivity, economic cooperation and “psychological game” and the “concessions will have far-reaching implications” while “in my opinion the Awami League has seriously endanShe called a major success of her trip in obtaining Indian nod in allowing its territory for Bangladesh’s road links with Nepal and Bhutan which, she said, ensured a regional connectivity “while India is said to be interested only in bilateral arrangements on all issues.”

“Opposing India is nothing new in Bangladesh; we are familiar with the anti-India campaign since 1954 elections It became a habit of some people and we have nothing to do about it,” she said.

Hasina’s press conference was held on a one day notice as Zia called a Press briefing two days ago to give her reaction on the “outcome of the visit” while the opposition leader deferred her scheduled briefing by one day after Hasina’s decision to meet the press.


‘Urdu, Sufism and madrasas enriched Indian culture’

Special Correspondent

BANGALORE: Governor H.R. Bhardwaj said on Sunday that Muslims had made a distinctive contribution to the country’s composite culture and heritage with “Urdu, Sufism and madrasas”, making it a fantastic society to live in, and every one should strive to maintain this unique character of unity in diversity.

He was speaking after presenting the Lifetime Award of the Bearys’ Welfare Association, Bangalore, to the former Minister B.A. Mohideen, a doyen of Bearys, an ethnic group among Muslims of the west coast. He also gave away merit awards to more than 200 children studying in schools and colleges.

Hailing Islam’s message of equality and working together for the common good of the people, Mr. Bhardwaj said that the Constitution framers derived this important element of the religion when they formulated Article 14 guaranteeing equality and brotherhood to the citizens.

Mr. Bhardwaj said that Urdu was one of the most romantic languages. Sufism and its saints, who spread the message of Islam; Ruksana, a devout Muslim, who produced wonderful poetry on Lord Krishna in the Brij language; and Abdul Rahim Khan, a Sanskrit scholar, who translated Vedas, Upanishads and Indian scriptures for Akbar; had all made India a fantastic country to live in.

Recalling his recent visit to Udupi, the Governor said that he came to know of some tension in the region created by some mischievous elements. Senior officers were told that communal harmony should be maintained at all costs.


20 killed in US drone attack in Waziristan

17 January 2010

ISLAMABAD: A US drone strike targeting a militant compound killed at least 20 today in the tribal belt in North Waziristan's Taliban stronghold

where Hakimullah Mehsud escaped a similar attack last week.

The drone fired two missiles during the strike in Shaktoi region that straddles North and South Waziristan, officials were quoted as saying by TV news channels.

Twenty bodies were pulled out of the rubble of the compound, which was destroyed, and the toll could rise further, officials said.

Three foreign fighters were among the dead, Geo News channel reported. This was the tenth drone strike in Waziristan this year.

Shaktoi and its surrounding areas have been targeted by US spy planes several times over the past few days.

Two drone attacks on Friday killed 11 militants while another strike on Thursday killed 16 rebels.

Thursday's drone attack also triggered widespread speculation that Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan chief Hakimullah Mehsud was among the dead.

Mehsud issued an audio message yesterday in which he said he was alive and well, and warned that the Taliban would retaliate against further drone attacks.

The US stepped up drone attacks in North Waziristan after a suicide bomber linked to the Pakistani Taliban killed seven CIA operatives at a forward base in neighbouring Khost province of Afghanistan.


25 top militants set up base in Sopore

Jan 17, 2010

Srinagar : After throwing a grenade at the Sopore police station on Friday morning, the four militants armed with AK rifles didn’t flee. Instead, they waited a dozen yards away in the neighbourhood across the street.

An hour later, when a police party tried to cordon off the neighbourhood, they returned to the gate of the police station, throwing grenades and opening fire at the personal guards of the Superintendent of Police who was inside.

The encounter, which killed one policeman and a civilian and injured four policemen on Friday, is the seventh such attack this year. But the manner in which the militants attacked a police station in broad daylight in the middle of Sopore town has shocked the security establishment.

In fact, there are ample signs that after a hiatus of three years, militancy has returned with vigour. And Sopore town —a one-time hub of the Valley’s pro-Pakistan militant groups—is back as the centre of this renewed militant movement.

The J&K Police has confirmed the presence of 25 top militants active in Sopore alone while putting the adjoining 14 villages of Zaingeer belt that connects Sopore town to Bandipore as the new militant hub in north Kashmir.

Police sources suggest that the three top commanders of Lashkar, Harkat-ul-Mujahideen and Hizbul are hiding in this area. Identified as Abdullah Unny of Lashkar, Nouman of Harkat and Hizbul Mujahideen’s old hand Dawood, the police say the militants have revived their networks and established links between their new hideouts in Kupwara, Sopore and Bandipore.

Inspector General of J&K Police, Kashmir range, Farooq Ahmad said that there is presence and movement of militants especially Lashkar in Sopore town and the adjoining villages of Zainageer. “This is a problem and we are making serious effort to address it,” he said. The presence of militants in Sopore town is no longer underground. Police sources reveal that Lashkar’s top commander Abdullah Unny had been moving around freely till the local police released his pictures recently.

Then the recent fidayeen attack in Lalchowk where two militants engaged the police and the security forces in a stand-off for more than 22 hours too had originated in Sopore. The local militant Manzoor Ahmad alias Usman who was part of the fidayeen squad and was killed in the Lalchowk stand-off was from a village in the outskirts of Sopore town. Then the police traced the location of Harkat commander Nouman—who was directing the two militants during the Lalchowk encounter—to Sopore town.

Full report at:


Kuwait journalists blast plan for tougher media laws

(AFP) – 18 January 2010

KUWAIT CITY — Kuwaiti journalists on Monday blasted a state plan for tougher punishment of press offences, and urged parliament to reject amendments to existing laws.

Newspaper and television editors met and agreed to boycott lawmakers who back the amendments, said a statement from the Kuwait Journalists Association.

"We urged MPs to reject the government plan to amend the press law," the statement said.

Faisal al-Quenae, who heads the association, said the government move was an attempt to curb media freedoms.

Information Minister Sheikh Ahmad Abdullah al-Sabah told newspaper editors late Sunday of plans to amend the press and publications law, and the so-called audio-visual law that controls private television stations.

Sheikh Ahmad, who is also oil minister, said the amendments would stipulate penalties between one and two years for offenders who insult God.

Publishing without an official licence would be punishable with a fine of up to 175,000 dollars, instead of the 3,500 dollars under the existing law.

He said that broadcasting without a television licence would be punishable by a two-year jail term, instead of fines stipulated under current laws.

The amendments must be approved by the cabinet before they go to parliament for debate.

Kuwaiti officials have in the past few weeks accused some local media of fueling political and social tensions and called for tougher penalties to curb violators.

Media in the Gulf state enjoy considerable freedoms and have been aggressive in criticising top government officials, including the prime minister. But any criticism of the ruler, Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah, is strictly forbidden by law.

Under the current law, no journalist can be jailed or a newspaper closed without a final court

Copyright © 2010 AFP. All rights reserved.


Pak chargesheets 5 US Muslims for terror links

Jan 17 2010

 Pakistani police will on Monday file a chargesheet against five American Muslims, arrested last month for alleged terror links, for conspiring against the state and plotting terrorist attacks.

The police will submit the 'challan' (chargesheet) in an anti-terrorism court in Sargodha, charging the youths under the Anti-Terrorism Act and Pakistan Penal Code for criminal conspiracy against the state and plotting attacks in Pakistan and Afghanistan, officials said.

The youths – Ramy Zamzam, 22, Waqar Hussain Khan, 22, Ahmed Abdullah Minni, 20, Iman Hasan Yemer, 17 and Omar Farooq, 24 – were arrested in Sargodha district on December 9. The FBI team also interrogated them.

"We decided to charge the accused under the provisions of the Pakistan Penal Code after they disclosed they had plans to wage a war against US forces in Afghanistan. They also disclosed this before the anti-terrorism court," said Sargodha police chief, Mr Usman Anwar.

"We will present to the court the record of their meetings with Jaish-e-Mohammed and Jamaat-ud-Dawah in Hyderabad and Lahore respectively. Details of e-mails and records of phone calls made by the youths to Saifullah, an American Arab who promised to (help them join the 'jehad'), and a man in Dubai will also be given to the court," Anwar said.

Police will also present to the court a video of Zamzam in which he states that the youths were happy to embrace 'shahadat' (martyrdom), Mr Anwar said.

Zamzam handed over the video to his family, asking them to release it after he had "accomplished his mission". The youths are currently being held in the high-security zone of Sargodha jail.

The families of only Waqar Hussain Khan and Omar Farooq had contacted them in prison so far, Anwar said.

A joint team of officials of the ISI, military intelligence, Intelligence Bureau, Federal Investigation Agency, Crime Investigation department and Punjab Police have probed the youths' alleged terror links.

According to a report prepared by this team, the youths were unhappy over the US government’s policies in the Muslim world, especially in Iraq, Afghanistan and Palestine.

They posted their feelings on the popular website Youtube and also developed contacts with Saifullah, believed to be an al-Qaeda operative based in Pakistan. Saifullah travelled to the US and met the youths in Virginia.

He reportedly told them that he would help them fulfil their desire to join groups fighting US forces in Pakistan and Afghanistan, the report said.

After arriving in Pakistan, the youths were to meet Saifullah at Mianwali on December 9 and then travel to Hangu and Kohat to meet some al-Qaeda operatives before going to Afghanistan, the report said.

The report also said the youths planned to target some important installations in Pakistan.

They had also contacted a man in Dubai who is believed to be part of the Al-Qaeda network, it said. The Lahore High Court had issued an order that the youths cannot be deported or handed over to the FBI or any foreign agency without its permission.


Uama to work for mother-child health drive

Monday, 18 Jan, 2010

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MULTAN, Jan 17: Over 300 ulema from the five districts of Punjab have decided to join a drive to ensure safety and wellbeing of mother and child.

Ulema expressed their determination to educate people about protecting the lives of women and newborns at a seminar organised by the National Research and Development Foundation (NRDF) on ‘Mother and child health and the role of ulema’ here on Sunday.

They favoured a resolution regarding raising awareness among the people about the alarming mortality rate of pregnant women and newborns in Pakistan.

Ulema from Jhelum, Vehari, Khanewal, Dera Ghazi Khan and Rawalpindi attended the seminar.Another resolution said the ulema would educate the masses under Islamic teachings to save the lives of child and mother, particularly of pregnant women and newborns.

The seminar recommended that the scope of the programme be extended to other Punjab districts as well.

The participants learnt that over 20,000 pregnant women died in Pakistan every year were not allowed to consult doctors during pregnancy. Over 300,000 newborns also die during and after their birth.

PAIMAN District Coordinator Dr Nasir Dilshad said one newborn died after every 20 minutes in Pakistan due to the negligence of parents.

Ulema also urged the masses to provide pregnant women medical facilities during pre- and post-delivery period.

The participants praised the role of the Pakistan Initiative for Mothers and Newborns (PAIMAN) and the NRDF.

Maulana Syed Abdul Majeed Nadeem Shah, Mufti Hidayatullah Pasruri, Khwaja Nasrul Mehmood Fakhri, Maulana Muhammad Sharif Hazarvi and Dr Nasir Dilshad spoke.

Maulana Hazarvi said ulema would be held responsible if newborns mortality was not controlled.


All terrorists who stormed Taj hotel were Indians: Kasab

18 January 2010

MUMBAI: Continuing his flip-flop, Pakistani gunman Ajmal Kasab on Monday told a special court trying the 26/11 attacks case that all the four

terrorists who stormed Taj hotel were Indians.

Kasab, whose statement is being recorded by the court on evidences adduced by the prosecution, told Special Judge M L Tahaliyani that while one of the terrorists of the Taj hotel siege was a Kashmiri, another was from Gujarat.

Kasab claimed the third terrorist at Taj was Abu Ismail from Mumbai. According to prosecution, Ismail was gunned down at Girgaum Chowpatty by the police in an encounter when he along with Kasab was trying to escape. He, however, did not elaborate on the identity of the fourth terrorist at the Taj.

The Pakistani terrorist has been making conflicting statements in the court. While at one point Kasab confessed to his guilt and admitted having shot people at Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus along with Abu Ismail before being captured at Girgaum Chowpatty, he later denied any involvement in the terror strikes.

Kasab's claim came when Judge Tahaliyani wanted to know if he had anything to say about the slain terrorists who had been identified by eyewitnesses.

When the Judge asked how he knew that Abu Ismail was from Mumbai, Kasab said, "I can make out from his face". To this Tahaliyani asked in a light-hearted manner "Did he look like a Marathi manoos?"

After having initially confessed to his guilt, Kasab had recently denied involvement and told the court that he had come to India from Pakistan by Samjhauta Express several days before the 26/11 carnage and was picked up from Girgaum Chowpatty by police a day before the terror attacks.

Later, speaking to reporters outside the court, Special Public Prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam described Kasab's claim as "absurd and concocted".

"Kasab's claim is absurd and concocted. He has been taking frequent U-turns and this is one of those. This will in no way weaken the prosecution's case against him," Nikam said.


In Nigeria, 26 dead in weekend clashes

18 Jan 2010

At least 26 people have been killed over the weekend during clashes between Christians and Muslims in Nigeria's Jos city.

Residents of Jos told Reuters that the clashes were the result of an argument over the construction of a mosque in the predominately Christian district of the city known as Nassarawa Gwom.

Troops and riot police were deployed in the Nassarawa Gwom district to restore order and calm, imposing a 12-hour dusk-to-dawn curfew.

"We have received 16 dead bodies since yesterday. Eleven of them were buried yesterday and we are conducting a funeral for the remaining five. So far we have over 300 injured people, most of them from gun shots," the head of Jos's central mosque, Balarabe Dawud, told AFP.

Jos has been plagued by ethnic and religious conflict since 2001 when about 1,000 people were killed in similar riots.

In November 2008, hundreds of people were killed when a smear campaign falsely reported that the mainly Muslim All Nigerian Peoples Party had lost a local election to the Christian dominated People's Democratic Party.

"From our records so far, we have over 3,000 displaced people, sheltering in mosques, churches and police barracks. We have also taken the injured to various hospitals in the city for treatment," Awwalu Mohammed, an official with the Red Cross, was quoted by AFP as saying.


Red Cross: 5,000 in Northern Nigeria displaced after violence between Christians, Muslims

By Ahmed Saka

JOS, Nigeria — Angry Muslim youths set a church filled with worshippers ablaze in northern Nigeria, starting a riot that killed at least 10 people and wounded 69 others in the latest religious violence in the region, officials said Monday.

About 5,000 people lost their homes as rioters also burned mosques and homes in Jos, a city that saw more than 300 residents killed during a similar uprising in 2008, said local Red Cross official Auwal Muhammad Madobi. He said he had no information about deaths and police officials declined to offer a count of the dead.

An Associated Press reporter saw the bodies of 10 dead youths, marked with bullet holes and machete wounds, at a local hospital on Monday. On Sunday, witnesses told reporters they saw 10 bodies at a mosque in the city. It was unclear if the bodies in the hospital were the same ones seen in the mosque.

The rioting began Sunday, when the youths attacked St. Michael Catholic Church, said Gregory Yenlong, a state government spokesman. Yenlong said he didn't know why the young men set the blaze.

"That's what's being investigated," he said.

Kabiru Mohammed, a Muslim resident who lost his home in the 2008 violence, told reporters Monday that after he recently started to rebuild his house, local Christian youths surrounded it and demanded that he stop construction.

"They said the area now belongs to them," Mohammed said.

The youths attacked, killing two labourers working on the home, Mohammed said.

Ahmed Garba, a Muslim lawyer, said he escaped being lynched by a group of Christian youths armed with bows and arrows, knives, stones and locally made firearms. He watched as they attacked and stabbed three people.

Full report at: Copyright © 2010 The Canadian Press. All rights reserved.


Egypt's Orthodox Coptic Christians under the gun

by David Schenker

Monday, January 18, 2010

On January 6—Christmas Eve according to the Eastern Orthodox calendar—six Coptic Christians and a policeman were killed in a drive-by shooting while exiting church in Naga Hammadi, Upper Egypt. The attack, which came in retaliation to an alleged rape of a twelve-year-old Muslim girl by a Christian man, was the largest assault on Copts in Egypt since a January 2000 massacre left twenty dead in Sohag. The days since the shooting have been marked by violent clashes and the burning of Christian and Muslim property.

These developments have unfolded against the background of increased political pressure on Islamists—evoking the 1990s, when the killing of Copts by Islamist militants was a routine occurrence and the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood (MB) was banned from political participation. Thus, while Naga Hammadi might be an isolated incident, it could also presage the return of Egypt's Islamists to the bloody sectarian attacks of the 1990s.

Coptic Christians constitute nearly 10 percent of Egypt's population at 8 million strong. Long integrated into Egyptian society, the community was politically marginalized after Gamal Abdul Nasser's 1952 coup. Although Copts have since served in prominent positions such as minister of finance and foreign affairs, they have not held the premiership—which they did twice prior to 1952—or served as minister of defense or interior. And with only six members in the 444-seat parliament (only one of whom was actually elected), they are vastly underrepresented on legislative matters.

Many Copts have accused Cairo of persecuting, or at least not protecting, Egypt's dwindling Christian population, a claim fueled by the absence of any timely and effective official response to the Islamist violence against the community in the 1990s. Dozens of Copts were killed every year throughout the decade, peaking at more than sixty deaths in 1997. These murders, perpetrated by al-Gamaa al-Islamiya (Egyptian Islamic Group), were accompanied by a spike in attacks on Egyptian policemen and foreign tourists, a trend that culminated in the November 1997 massacre of sixty-three tourists in Luxor. That notorious attack proved to be the group's last flourish, however. Decimated by government security measures, al-Gamaa's imprisoned leadership renounced violence that same year. By 1998, the situation had improved so much for the Copts that Pope Shenouda III—who had called out the regime in 1994—declared that the community was no longer subject to persecution. Indeed, despite some notable incidents (e.g., a 2008 mob attack on a Coptic Church in Cairo; anti-Christian riots in Alexandria in 2005), the past decade has seen diminished sectarian violence in Egypt.

Full report at:


Plans for big London mosque lapse

Jan. 18, 2010

A British Muslim sect hoping to build Europe's biggest mosque in London is not moving forward with the plans, local officials say.

A spokesman for London's Newham Council said the organization, Tablighi Jamaat, has let deadlines lapse in its bid to build a 12,000-capacity mosque in East London close to the city's 2012 Summer Olympics site, The Times of London reported.

The newspaper said the local council issued enforcement notices against the mosque trust last week after it missed its final deadline to file a master plan for the controversial building.

Strong opposition emerged to the plans when they were first unveiled in 2007, with critics calling the structure a "mega-mosque" and gathering more than 48,000 signatures in a petition to stop it, the newspaper said.

Critics hailed the news, but Inayat Bunglawala, a spokesman for the Muslim Council of Britain, told The Times: "We would hope that they will be able to work in cooperation with the local council if they wish to set up a mosque in the area. Tablighi Jamaat has no ties to terrorism. They have been subjected to some unfair coverage."


Somalia protests after Kenya arrests MPs in riot swoop

Wounded man being helped at Friday's protests

Police shot the protesters with live bullets

Somalia has sent a formal letter of protest to Kenya after 16 MPs and other government officials were arrested by police investigating Friday's riots.

About 300 people were picked up in the raid on Nairobi's Eastleigh area, home to a large ethnic Somali population.

Prominent Kenyan Muslim leader Al-Amin Kimathi was also arrested.

The raids follow violent clashes in Nairobi on Friday between police and groups protesting at plans to deport a controversial Muslim cleric.

Kenyan Internal Security Minister George Saitoti has accused Somali militant Islamist group al-Shabab of links to the clashes, which left at least one person dead, with several unconfirmed reports of five deaths.

But an al-Shabab spokesman told the BBC they were not involved in the protests.

Somali's UN-backed government only controls small parcels of territory, mostly within the capital, Mogadishu.

Kenya has played host to many rounds of talks aimed at bringing peace to Somalia and many Somali officials are based there because of the lack of law and order at home.

Muslim groups in Kenya have long complained that they are being unfairly targeted by the police, with many Muslims arrested and accused of terrorist offences before being released for lack of evidence.

A spokesperson at the Somali embassy in Kenya's capital Nairobi confirmed that government officials, including former army General Yusuf "Dumal" Hussein, had been arrested.

Full report at:


Al Qaeda Threatens New Strikes


Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula issued fresh threats Monday against the U.S. and its Mideast allies, promising to retaliate against a surge of strikes launched in the past month against its leaders and safe havens in Yemen.

The terrorist group also denied statements made by Yemeni authorities late last week that six of al Qaeda's senior leaders in the country, including the man identified as the leader of the group's military operations, had been killed in an air strike.

"The Yemeni government has been making many false claims ... against the Mujahedeen leaders in the Arabian Peninsula. The latest of these claims is that it killed six of them," the group said, according to a statement posted online on Islamist Web sites. "We assure our Muslim nation that none of the mujahedeen were killed in that unjust and insidious raid; rather, some brothers were slightly wounded."

A member of Yemen's antiterrorism holds a machine gun installed on a Hummer vehicle during a training exercise near the Yemeni capital Sanaa on Jan. 16.

The al Qaeda statement couldn't be independently verified, but Yemeni opposition news outlets also cited local tribal leaders saying they had seen the al Qaeda figures alive after the air strike on Friday. One news story from the online site Mareb Press quoted a tribal leader saying he saw al Qaeda's military-operations chief, Qassim al Raimi, with slight wounds but well enough to be eating lunch on Saturday.

Yemen is under renewed international pressure to go after al Qaeda cells, after the local al Qaeda branch, al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, claimed responsibility for the failed Christmas Day airline bombing in the U.S. The alleged bomber, Nigerian Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, has told investigators he picked up his explosive device in Yemen.

President Ali Abdullah Saleh launched the most recent crackdown before the Christmas bombing attempt, following heightened worry among Western officials over al Qaeda's resurgence in Yemen. Since late December, Yemeni officials have deployed army troops to areas known to harbor al Qaeda, and U.S.- and U.K.-trained counterterrorism units have launched a series of raids on al Qaeda positions. Yemen has announced an almost-daily tally of killed or captured alleged al Qaeda operatives.

Full report at:


After lull, a 'hot' year ahead for J&K?


18 January 2010

NEW DELHI: The pressure on Pakistan to restrain jihadi groups planning attacks on India is wearing thin. A spate of strikes in Jammu and Kashmir

in the new year have corroborated intelligence that Pakistan’s military is unleashing terror tanzims intent on reviving their bloody campaign.

The evidence gathered by central agencies and the Army in J&K points to a concern across the border over reports of increasing normality in the state in the past year. Not only did the number of violent incidents dip, the space for civil society and governance has grown steadily in the absence of the gun.

A recent review of security in the state attended by defence minister A K Antony has pointed to a fresh determination to disrupt the fragile peace in J&K with fidayeen attacks. The attack on a police station at Sopore on Saturday was a typical example of the jihadi plan to terrorise the population and instil a sense of fear and uncertainty.

Well-placed sources pointed out that it was not as if jihadi groups had been totally hobbled in the past year after the Mumbai 26/11 attacks as the Lashkar-e-Taiba plot involving US national David Headley and Tahawwur Rana, a Pakistani based in Chicago, has tellingly revealed.

But US has been exerting pressure on Islamabad to keep J&K calm so that Pakistan is more fully involved in the war against Taliban and al-Qaida.

The US interest in Pakistan releasing troops from its eastern border to take on the Pakistani Taliban and supporters of the jihad in Afghanistan is obvious but it would seem that efforts to check Lashkar and other groups like HuJI, Jaish and Hizbul Mujahideen may be failing. With its focus on Kashmir undiluted, the military is again prepared to facilitate LoC crossings more frequently than was the case.

Full report at:


'Jihadis at gates of Pak nuclear bases'

18 January 2010

WASHINGTON/ISLAMABAD: Pakistan's strategic assets are as safe as those of any other nuclear weapon's state and are fully safeguarded and secure

under a well-established command and control system, the foreign office said on Sunday.

But Shaun Gregory, director of the Pakistan security research unit at Bradford University, says, "There have been attacks on army bases which stored nuclear weapons and there have been breaches and infiltrations by terrorists into military facilities. The terrorists are at the gates".

In a counterterrorism journal, published by America's West Point military academy, Gregory documented three attacks on nuclear facilities since 2007 — the attack in November 2007 at Sargodha in Punjab where nuclear-capable F-16 jets are thought to be stationed; the suicide bombing at nuclear airbase at Kamra in Attock district in December and the suicide attack at the Wah cantonment in Punjab, believed to be one of Pakistan's nuclear warhead assembly plants. The attack left 63 people dead.

Pakistan denies that the Kamra base still has a nuclear role. Fears that militants could penetrate a nuclear facility intensified after a brazen attack on army headquarters in Rawalpindi in October when 10 gunmen wearing army uniforms got inside and laid siege for 22 hours. Last month, there was an attack on the naval command centre in Islamabad.

Pakistani police said five Americans from Washington who were arrested in Pakistan last month after trying to join the Taliban were carrying a map of Chashma Barrage, a complex in Punjab that includes a nuclear power facility. The al-Qaida leadership has made no secret of its desire to gain weapons for a "nuclear 9/11".

Nuclear experts and US officials say the biggest fear is of an inside job amid growing anti-American feeling in Pakistan. Concerns about hostility inside the army to the US first surfaced in 2007, the report said. At a meeting of commanders at Kurram, on the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan, a Pakistani major drew his pistol and shot an American, the report said.

Full report at:


Aged Osama? It's Spain MP on US poster

17 January 2010

MADRID: A Spanish lawmaker was horrified to learn that the FBI used an online photograph of him to create an image showing what Osama bin Laden might look like.

The image using Gaspar Llamazares' photo appeared on a wanted poster updating the US government's 1998 photo of the al-Qaida leader.

FBI spokesman Ken Hoffman acknowledged to the Spanish newspaper El Mundo that the agency used a picture of Llamazares taken from Google images.

In a statement on Saturday, the agency would say only that it was aware of similarities between their age-progressed image "and that of an existing photograph of a Spanish public official." "The forensic artist was unable to find suitable features among the reference photographs and obtained those features, in part, from a photograph he found on the internet," the FBI said.

The wanted poster appeared on the state department website, listing a reward of up to $25 million. The FBI said the photo of bin Laden would be removed from the website. Llamazares, former leader of the United Left party, was elected to Spain's parliament in 2000. The photograph of him used to make the wanted poster originally appeared on posters for his 2004 campaign.

He said he would no longer feel safe traveling to the US after his hair and facial wrinkles appeared on the bin Laden image. "I was surprised and angered because it's the most shameless use of a real person to make up the image of a terrorist," Llamazares said on Saturday. "It's almost like out of a comedy if it didn't deal with matters as serious as bin Laden and citizens' security."

Full report at:


Iran suspends pilgrimages to Saudi Arabia over religious police

January 18, 2010

TEHRAN: Iran has suspended pilgrimages to the Muslim holy places until the Saudi religious police end their “appalling behaviour” towards Iranian Shiite pilgrims, an official said on Sunday. “The reason for the suspension is because of the way the agents have been dealing with our pilgrims,” the head of public relations of the Iranian hajj and pilgrimage organisation, Abdollah Nassiri, said. “The umra has been suspended and not halted,” Nassiri added. “Our move is not political, it is religious.” “Since we are Shiites, we have different rituals, like reciting the special pilgrimage prayers in Mecca and Medina mosques, which has resulted in their agents rudely confronting our pilgrims. We want this to be corrected and stopped.” Saudi Arabia is governed according to an ultra-strict version of Sunni Islam and relies on the religious police to enforce such rules. Iranian pilgrims travel to the Muslim holy places under the auspices of the hajj and pilgrimage organisation so its decision effectively suspends their travel until further notice. Shiite-led Iran and Sunni-led Saudi Arabia are major rivals in the Middle East, clashing repeatedly over regional affairs, most recently over Saudi military intervention in a long-running Zaidi Shiite rebellion in Yemen. afp\01\18\story_18-1-2010_pg7_42


US to spend $200m in Pakistan to revamp education

17 January 2010

WASHINGTON: The US plans to spend a whopping USD 200 million this year to revamp Pakistan's deteriorating public education system since it has

become a major barrier to the Obama administration's efforts to defeat militant groups thriving in the country, a leading American daily said today.

With a curriculum that glorifies violence in the name of Islam and ignores basic history, science and mathematics, Pakistan's public education system has become a major barrier to US efforts to defeat militant groups thriving in the country, Washington Post quoted American and Pakistani officials as saying.

The United States plans to spend USD 200 million this year on education in Pakistan, the U.S. Agency for International Development's largest education programme worldwide, it said.

The idea is to improve the capacity of Pakistan's fledgling civilian-led administration, and to promote trust between the two nations, the report said.

The money comes from the Kerry-Lugar aid bill, which was passed in late 2009 and promises Pakistan USD 7.5 billion in civilian assistance over the next five years.

The funds are intended to signal a substantial shift from earlier years, when U.S. assistance to Pakistan was overwhelmingly focused on helping the military, which is battling the Taliban and al-Qaeda in the nation's northwest.


U.S. to protect Pakistan’s nuclear facilities

London: Alarmed by a slew of terror attacks on sensitive military installations in Pakistan, the U.S. is putting in place “a crack unit” of its elite troops to seal off that country’s nuclear weapons and ensure they do not fall into the hands of militants, a media report claimed on Sunday.

The U.S. army is training the crack unit so that it could seal off and snatch back Pakistani nuclear weapons in the event of militants, “possibly from inside the country’s security apparatus,” getting their hands on a nuclear device or materials that could make one, The Sunday Times reported.

“The move follows a series of attacks on sensitive military installations over the past two years, several of which housed nuclear facilities, and rising tension that has seen a series of official complaints by the U.S. authorities to Islamabad in the past fortnight,” the report said.

Rightfully concerned

Citing Rolf Mowatt-Larssen, a former CIA officer who used to run the U.S. energy department’s intelligence unit, it said: “What you have in Pakistan is nuclear weapons mixed with the highest density of extremists in the world, so we have a right to be concerned.”

“There have been attacks on army bases which stored nuclear weapons and there have been breaches and infiltrations by terrorists into military facilities.”

Pakistan is thought to possess about 80 nuclear warheads.

Although the weapons are well-guarded, the fear is that materials or processes to enrich uranium could fall into the wrong hands. — PTI


Iran to boost security for nuclear scientists

TEHRAN: Tehran’s Governor-General Morteza Tamaddon said on Sunday that Iran is planning to boost security measures to shield its nuclear scientists from potential terror attacks by the enemies, the semi-official Fars news agency reported.

The announcement came following Iranian physicist Massoud Ali- Mohammadi, contradictorily referred to as a nuclear scientist, was killed on Tuesday when a bomb strapped to a parked motorcycle was triggered by remote control outside his home in Tehran. Prior to the attack on Ali-Mohammadi, “a series of arrangements and measures were in place to protect the nuclear scientists, which have now been boosted,” Fars quoted Mr. Tamaddon as saying. Iran’s Foreign Ministry has said that there were traces of U.S. and Israeli involvement in attack. — Xinhua


India’s BSF kills 1 during infiltration bid

PNS | Jammu

A Pakistani infiltrator was shot dead by alert BSF jawans in RS Pura sector in the wee hours of Sunday, when a group of three infiltrators made an abortive bid to sneak inside Indian territory.

This was the seventh attempt by infiltrators along the International Border on Jammu frontier to sneak past the barbed wire fence, taking advantage of the dense fog and large growth of elephant grass in the area.

According to BSF officials in Jammu, “Soon after jawans of the BSF spotted suspicious movement of intruders near the barbed wire fence, they challenged them and opened fire, in which one of the intruders was killed while two others managed to retreat safely.”

Later, during the hurriedly-called Flag Meeting, when BSF officials raised the issue of increasing infiltration, the Pakistan Rangers refused to admit that they were facilitating them.

In fact, they even denied that the intruder was a Pakistan national.

Meanwhile, a joint team of security forces eliminated one dreaded terrorist, believed to be a foreigner of Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) outfit, in a fierce gunbattle in the frontier district of Poonch.

According to a police spokesman, “After developing information about the movement of terrorists in Narol forest area, under the jurisdiction of Mendhar police station, a search operation was launched in the area this evening.”

The spokesman added, “After establishing contact with the hiding ultras, they were asked to surrender. In response, they opened indiscriminate firing and lobbed a grenade at the troops, triggering a fierce encounter. The gunbattle continued for several hours, resulting in the death of one terrorist so far.” The police spokesman said the body of the slain terrorist had been retrieved from the encounter site along with one AK 47 rifle, three magazines, one radio set, one mobile phone, Indian currency worth Rs 1,000 and three notes of Rs 500 each in damaged condition.

Identification of the slain ultra is yet to be ascertained. However, the encounter is still going on and it is believed that there might be two or three ultras involved in the encounter.


Pak terror infrastructure intact: Rao

PTI | New Delhi

Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao on Sunday asserted that the recent events — including two fidayeen attacks in Kashmir — point to the “undeniable” fact that the terror infrastructure in Pakistan is still intact. She added that it had been an “instrument of state policy pursued by agencies within Pakistan.”

She said India was watching all these developments with “great concern” in Kashmir, where militancy and violence is a longstanding phenomenon accompanied by the rhetoric (from the Pakistan side) against India.

“All the events you have seen over the last few days basically point to the basic and undeniable fact that the infrastructure of terrorism which operates out of Pakistan and territory under Pakistan control has not been dismantled and it continues to be directed against the Indian people,” she said during an interview to a television channel.

Asked if the groups, involved in carrying out attacks in Kashmir, were getting assistance or support from Pakistani establishment or state, she said, “I think the experience over the last two decades would make it very clear to us that this has been an instrument of state policy which has been pursued by agencies within Pakistan.”

On the recent Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari’s rhetoric about fulfilling his father-in-law Zulfikar Ali Bhutto’s pledge for a thousand-year war to liberate Kashmir, Rao noted that, “Rhetoric, militancy and violence — together they make a very combustible combination.”

Demanding that more needs to be done by Pakistan, Rao said, “Terrorism directed against India continues from territory under Pakistan control and from Pakistan. Look at what has been happening in Srinagar over the last few weeks.”

“Look at the incidents of infiltration that have gone up despite the fact that this is cold weather. In winter traditionally we have not had so many incidents of infiltration, but those continue. They clearly point to the continuation of efforts directed against our territory, directed in order to foment violence in Kashmir and terrorist incidents,” she added.

Rao also ruled out the opinion that the US was keen on playing a mediatory role on issues concerning India and Pakistan. “President Obama and the American Administration told us over and over again that they have no desire to play a mediatory role on issues concerning India and Pakistan,” she said.


J&K security tightened before Republic Day


With inputs suggesting escalation in militant attacks in Jammu & Kashmir, authorities have asked security forces to remain extra vigilant and frustrate any attempt by militants to disrupt the forthcoming Republic Day celebrations in the State.

“There are intelligence reports suggesting further spurt in militant attacks ahead of and during the Republic Day celebrations. We have taken a number of measures to frustrate the nefarious designs of militants,” a police official said.

As part of the steps taken to ensure peace during the Republic day celebrations, police and CRPF have been asked to intensify checking, area domination and patrolling particularly during the night hours, according to the police.

“The people will also face surprise search and cordon operations particularly in the busy areas during the coming days. The move is aimed at keeping the militants away from commercial areas where there is a possibility of more civilian casualities in case of a militant strike,” said a police official.

The Kashmir Valley has seen a spurt in militant activities since the last week of December. The deadly ambush on CRPF personnel in Sopore town — 54 km from here in north Kashmir’s Baramulla district, on December 30 — left four jawans dead and another injured.

The attack preceded several grenade attacks in the town (Sopore), emerging as the launching pad for attacks in other parts particularly in Srinagar with intelligence agencies suggesting the presence of a number of top militants in the area.


Rana likely to be arraigned on Jan 21

Canadian-Pakistani Tahawwur Hussain Rana, indicted on charges of helping plan the 26/11 Mumbai attacks, is expected to be arraigned in a court here on January 21 along with co-accused David Coleman Headley.

According to information with the United States District Court, Northern District of Illinois, “arraignment notice” for Rana and Headley has been scheduled for January 21 before Judge Harry Leinenweber. Separately, “a notice of arraignment and plea” filed on January 15 in the Chicago court lists Rana and Headley as scheduled for “arraignment and the entry of a plea” on Thursday this week.

A US attorney’s office spokesman said while Rana would be present for the arraignment, it is still uncertain whether Headley would appear in court to respond to the charges. On January 14, a federal grand jury returned a superseding indictment adding three defendants, including Rana, to charges filed last month against Headley, alleging that they and others participated in conspiracies involving a planned terrorist attack against a Danish newspaper and the November 2008 terrorist attacks in Mumbai.

The 12-count superseding indictment contains the identical charges that were filed against Headley on December 7 while adding Rana as a defendant in three of the counts charging material support of the terrorism plots in Denmark and India, as well as in support of the Lashkar-e-Tayyiba.


Jaish commander killed in Jammu

Jan 18 2010

A self-styled divisional commissioner of terrorist group Jaish-e-Mohammad who was involved in an attack on the Akshardham temple in Gujarat was killed in a gunfight with security forces in Jammu and Kashmir, police said on Monday.

The militant was killed on Sunday in Narole forests of Mendhar in Poonch district, about 230 km north of Jammu. He has been identified as Abdullah Simi, a resident of Dabowal in Pakistan.

"Simi was involved in the attack on the Akshardham temple. The attack was coordinated from Mendhar in Poonch district," Senior Superintendent of Police (Poonch) Manmohan Singh said.

Jaish militants had mounted a "fidayeen" (suicide) attack on Akshardham temple in Gujarat in September 2005. All the three attackers were killed. The planning of the attack and its logistics were traced to Poonch.

"The killing of the Pakistani terrorist was a 'deadly blow' to Jaish-e-Mohammad in particular and the militants operating in Poonch and adjoining areas in general," a police officer said.

Singh said Simi was a coordinator of militant activities in the hill areas of Poonch district. "He was a key man in setting the tasks for the militants, besides motivating and sending the militancy-inclined youth across for training," he added.


Germany and Israel hold joint cabinet meeting in Berlin

Israeli police have arrested 10 people as part of investigations into an arson attack on a West Bank mosque.

Police carried out a pre-dawn raid on the Yitzhar settlement, near the Palestinian town Yasuf, where the mosque was attacked last month.

They are investigating whether there is a link between those arrested and the arson attack, police sources said.

The floor of the mosque and a stand holding copies of the Quran were burned in the December attack.

Of the 10 people arrested on suspicion of damaging Palestinian property four were minors and would be released soon, Israeli police spokesman Mickey Rosenfeld said.

The other six, who included Zvi Sukkot of Yitzhar, Eliran Elgali of Yitzhar and Shlomo Gilbert of Elon Moreh, all 20 years old, were still being questioned, he said.

He denied claims by a Yitzhar resident, reported in the Israeli media, that police beat residents, damaged property and even confiscated cameras.

Mr Rosenfeld said the only items confiscated were spikes, as sometimes used on roads to prevent entry, and the type of torches used to carry a flame.

Witnesses told local media about 100 police entered the settlement, some of whom forced their way into the Od Yosef Hai yeshiva, or Jewish seminary.

The yeshiva issued a statement accusing the authorities of persecuting its staff and students.

Full report at:


Call for Palestinians to investigate Gaza 'crimes'

Richard Goldstone (c)

Mr Goldstone accused both sides of war crimes

Palestinian human rights activists have called on authorities in the West Bank and Gaza to investigate allegations of war crimes carried out by their forces.

The accusations come from a United Nations report into the Israel's Cast Lead offensive in Gaza last year.

Palestinian militants are accused of attacking Israeli civilians, as well as torturing and executing suspected Palestinian informers.

The internal investigations must be launched by February, the groups said.

The report produced by a team led by former war crimes prosecutor Richard Goldstone accused both sides of war crimes during the Israeli military offensive in December 2008 and January 2009.

The 11 human rights groups wrote identical letters to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, and Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniya urging that they investigate the allegations against them.

"Whereas the bulk of the [Goldstone] report addressed violations by Israel, the occupying power, it also considered violations by Palestinian armed groups and the Palestinian authorities in Gaza and the West Bank," the letter said.

"We urge you to immediately take clear and public steps toward holding to account all those who prove to be responsible for the violations detailed in the report."

In November the UN General Assembly voted in favour of a resolution calling for independent investigations into the accusations made by Mr Goldstone, a South African judge.

On 5 February the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon is due to submit a report on the progress made on the General Assembly resolution.

The UN will then decide what further action to take, but unlike resolutions passed buy the Security Council, General Assembly resolutions are not legally binding.

The human rights groups include two that are based in Israel, Adallah and the Arab Association for Human Rights.

Full report at:


Pak sacrifices in war on terror going unrecognised

Monday, January 18, 2010

Nisar Mahmood

Sherpao seeks more funds for war-hit NWFP; Wants $50m for SWA spent through civil admin

PESHAWAR: Pakistan People’s Party (PPP-S) chief Aftab Ahmad Khan Sherpao said here Sunday that the government had failed to secure foreign assistance in return for sacrifices Pakistan had been rendering in the war against terror.

“Pakistan has been playing a proactive role and is a frontline state in the war against terror, but it has failed to get international community’s support for rehabilitation and reconstruction of areas affected by the militancy,” the former interior minister said in an interview with The News.

He said he had conveyed Pakistan’s concern to US Special Envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan, Richard Holbrooke, during his meeting with parliamentarians. However, he said, the US envoy didn’t give any attention to the parliamentarians’ questions that rather agitated him.

“Holbrooke was more concerned about threats to American troops in Afghanistan and increase in hate against the US in Pakistan than paying heed to the sufferings of our people, particularly those of the NWFP and Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata),” he said.

He said Pakistan had been paying very high price for joining the war against terror, but neither the US nor Friends of Democratic Pakistan honoured their commitment to bail the country out of crises.

Holbrook and David Miliband’s frequent visits to Pakistan pointed to political instability and increasing US meddling in our domestic affairs, the PPP-S chief said.Sherpao said the army’s overstay in tribal areas and US drone attacks were proving counter-productive. He questioned the policy of spending $50 million of US assistance in South Waziristan through Army for electrification, roads and infrastructure development and said the civilian administration should execute uplift schemes instead of the Frontier Works Organisation.

“Pakistan can play vital role in the region by uniting countries like Iran, Turkey, China and Central Asian republics for restoring peace in the region,” he said.Supporting the call for withdrawal of the US forces from Afghanistan, he said Pakistan and other neighbouring countries should help strengthen democratic government in that country. “The only solution to bring peace to the region is to strengthen the civil administrations in both Pakistan and Afghanistan,” he opined.

Full report at:


Jamaat for world moot on Kashmir Day

By Our Staff Reporter

Monday, 18 Jan, 2010

LAHORE, Jan 17: Urging the government and the masses to observe Kashmir Solidarity Day on Feb 5 in a befitting manner, the Jamaat-i-Islami (JI) has demanded of the Parliament’s Kashmir Committee to convene a world conference on the conflict between two South Asian neighbours.

Speaking at a press conference here on Sunday, JI secretary-general Liaquat Baloch appealed for a gazetted holiday on Feb 5 and closure of all state and private-run institutions as the party would hold rallies and demonstrations to commemorate the day. He also demanded of the Kashmir Committee to hold an international conference in which leadership from both sides of the valley be invited without any pick and choose.

He regretted that the committee talked of the conference every year but never acted to materialise the commitment.

He said that Indian political, military leadership and intelligentsia was unanimous in calling Kashmir as an integral part of their country while Pakistani leadership was continuing the ‘harmful’ policy given by former dictator Pervez Musharraf on the issue.

He also appealed both factions of the All-Party Hurriyat Conference (APHC) to shun their mutual differences and get united for winning their right to franchise.

Baloch announced JI’s plan to mobilise the people on the Kashmir issue. On Feb 1, he said, party delegations would call on influential politicians and representatives of other segments of society. Seminars would be held at federal, provincial and divisional levels on Feb 2 to highlight the importance of the valley for the country.


NOWSHERA: Six injured as Afghans clash with police

Monday, 18 Jan, 2010

NOWSHERA: Six persons, including three policemen, were injured in a clash between Afghan refugees and police in Azakhel refugee camp here on Sunday.

The police party led by DSP Akhtar Ali and Azakhel police station SHO Roshan Zeb raided the house of Hashim at Azakhel camp and arrested seven persons, including two children and three women, which infuriated the Afghans.

The refugees assembled after announcements were made through loudspeakers from mosques and started pelting police with stones. They damaged two police vehicles. During the clash, three policemen and same number of refugees received injuries.


LARKANA: Woman, man killed

Monday, 18 Jan, 2010

LARKANA, Jan 17: A man and a woman were killed in two separate incidents here on Saturday night.

According to an FIR, six armed men sneaked into the house of one Koral Shah in Khaidkar village, 10km off here.

Koral Shah’s brother Sultan woke up and the armed en shot him dead.

Shamsuddin Shah has lodged the FIR at the Arija police station against Qurban Shah, Yaseen Shah, Abid Shah, Mehdi Shah and Deedar Shah.

In the other incident, armed men entered a house in Kosar Mill Muhalla and opened fire, injuring a woman, her mother and minor son.

The injured were admitted to Chandka Medical College Hospital where Shahida, 28, died on Sunday.

Her brother Nasrullah lodged an FIR at the Haidri police station. He said that her sister had been married off to Mohammed Yusuf Bhangar who already had two wives.

Fed up with maltreatment by her husband, Shahida sought divorce through court three months ago and since then she had been receiving threats from Yusuf, he said.

The complainant has nominated Yusuf, Mumtaz Chandio, Piyaral Bhangar and Wazeer Dahot in the FIR.

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