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Islamic World News ( 6 Nov 2017, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Terrorist hijacked Islam, colloquium held in India Islamic Cultural Center New Delhi











Photo: A high-level delegation of UAE sponsored anti-terrorist organization “Hidaya” expressed its feelings that the Indian Muslims have not patronized terrorism. They were attending a colloquium held at India Islamic Center, New Delhi.

 

Talibanization not the agenda or narrative of Pakistan: Gen. Bajwa

Indonesia's bid to root out Islamists throws spotlight on universities

‘Moderate Islam holds key to modernization’

India

Terrorist hijacked Islam, colloquium held in India Islamic Cultural Center New Delhi

India must be more proactive in Kashmir: counter-terror expert from UAE

Islam and Christianity in Balance released

MHA will have two new units to fight cyber criminals, jihadis

India in touch with Myanmar, Bangladesh on Rohingya issue: Jaishankar to parliament panel

Have inputs that terrorists may disrupt peace initiative in Kashmir: CRPF

Masood Azhar’s nephew killed in Pulwama encounter; US-made M4 rifle found at hideout was online propaganda weapon

Court rejects plea to extend IS suspects’ police remand

Nanded arms case: All five terror accused want to plead guilty

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South Asia

Talibanization not the agenda or narrative of Pakistan: Gen. Bajwa

7 ISIS militants killed in latest airstrikes in East of Afghanistan

Grimsby man goes to Bangladesh to aid Rohingya Muslims fleeing Burma

US investigation finds no Afghan civilian casualties in Kunduz strike

Bangladesh police arrest militant suspected of killing US blogger

Myanmar Border Police Exchange Fire With Unknown Bangladeshi Assailants

UN council weakens response to Myanmar

Afghan govt rejects it plans to block Whatsapp and Telegram applications

Hezb-e-Islami to convene a large gathering in Kabul in coming days

Pakistani consulate staffer killed in Afghanistan's Jalalabad

UN condemns violence in Myanmar forcing Rohingyas to flee

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Southeast Asia

Indonesia's bid to root out Islamists throws spotlight on universities

New course for Singapore Islamic teachers

Why terrorism breeds in Indonesian prisons

Application filed to attach 5 properties of Zakir Naik in Mumbai

Islamic State lurks in Philippine shadows

Philippines hunts for possible new Islamic State ’emir’ in South East Asia

Penang surau shelters non-Muslims to save lives

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Mideast

‘Moderate Islam holds key to modernization’

Netanyahu To Islamic Jihad On Returning Terrorists' Bodies: No Free Gifts

Yemen hostage crisis claimed by IS ends with 35 dead

US, Turkey resume limited mutual visa services

Erdogan to visit Russia, Kuwait on November 13, 14

Donald Trump extends 36-year state of emergency with Iran

British envoy: We are fully aware of Iran’s negative role in Yemen

US praises Saudi Arabia for exposing Iran’s role in Yemen

Riyadh’s actions will isolate it from Muslim world: Velayati

Terrorism, sectarianism main issues in Muslim world: Rouhani

Iran, Syria seek to safeguard resistance front, fight Zionism: Velayati

UN: Saudi blockade hindering aid delivery to starving Yemenis

Yemen cancels all flights due to Saudi blockade of impoverished country

Netanyahu signals Gaza militant bodies to be bargaining chips

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Pakistan

Pakistan remains committed to combating terrorism: FO

Pakistan Establishes Agency to Monitor, Block Blasphemous Content Online

Iqbal a symbol of Muslim empowerment, equality

Dr Qibla Ayaz appointed Council of Islamic Ideology chief

COAS discusses geo-strategic environment, defence cooperation with Iranian leaders

Pakistani consulate staff shot dead in Afghanistan

Pakistan, Iran warm up to each other

US asks Pakistan for ‘decisive action’ against terrorist groups

Bilawal condemns killing of Pakistani diplomat in Afghanistan

Three suspected IS militants arrested

Model Town inquiry report a ‘dead document’, Punjab govt tells LHC

Five tonnes of drugs recovered during Police raid in Manghopir

Establish supreme council to decide FATA’s future: Fazlur Rehman

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Arab World

More Terrorists Join Al-Nusra to Slow Down Syrian Army's Rapid Advances in Hama Province

Saudi minister: Lebanon becoming ‘platform for terrorism’ is unacceptable

Missile attack on Riyadh ‘an act of war’ by Iran

Saudi Arabia announces cash rewards for arrest of wanted Houthis

Muslim scholars call for Islamic awakening

'Terrorist rehab' opens its doors in northern Syria

Islamic State Losing the Battle Yet the War Goes On: QuickTake

Hezbollah says Saudi Arabia forced Lebanese PM to quit

Terrorists Withdraw from More Positions in Hama under Syrian Army Attack

Syria: US Sends 120 Trucks with Arms to SDF for Deir Ezzur Operation

Direct Confrontation Growing More Likely between Syrian Army, US-Backed SDF in Deir Ezzur

Syrian Army Special Forces to Kick off Albu Kamal Liberation Operation in New Flank

Arab Analyst: Al-Hariri's Resignation US-Saudi Plot

Syrian Army Pushes Al-Nusra back from more Regions in Aleppo Province

ISIL's Baghdadi Escapes from Iraq to Syria

Syrian Army Deploys 30 km away from ISIL's Main Stronghold at Border with Iraq

Russian Commander: Syria May Use Force against Kurds

Northwestern Syria: Senior Terrorist Commander, Bodyguards Assassinated in Sleep

Egypt’s President Sisi says he will not seek a third term in office

First civilians return to Raqqa after mines cleared

Lebanon president says politicians responsive to calls for calm after PM quit

Gargash: Iran's missile issue a priority after Houthi attack on Riyadh

Yazidis in Iraq: 'The genocide is ongoing'

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Africa

This Group is Encouraging Muslims and Christians to Find Peace

Nigerian oil rebels told to give peace talks a chance

Nigeria: Again Shiites Accuse Police of Killing Members

At least seven killed in two separate attacks in Mali

At least 5 dead after refugee boat sinks off Libya

Libyan minister survives assassination attempt

Nigeria: Sheikh Ahmad Among World Most Influential Muslims

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North America

Muslims decry 'double standard' after attacks

Mattis Faces Questions From Allies on Islamic State Strategy

It’s not Muslims, Mexicans or immigrants making the US unsafe – it’s men

Honduran pleads not guilty in Florida mall bomb plot case

American democracy has a long history with Islam and Shariah law

US resumes limited visa services in Turkey

Turkish premier to meet US' Mike Pence at White House

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Europe

U.S. Jihadists More Isolated Than Europe Counterparts

Tariq Ramadan: Islamic scholar in post-Weinstein abuse storm

British Muslims vow to fight high court judgement

Hungarians take walking tour to overcome fears of Muslims

Faith leaders condemn 'racist' objections to Golders Green mosque

Charlie Hebdo gets fresh death threats over Islam cartoon

Former CIA agent to do community service in Italy for Muslim cleric kidnap

UK anti-govt. protesters burn US flag, wave Palestine’s

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau

URL: http://newageislam.com/islamic-world-news/new-age-islam-news-bureau/terrorist-hijacked-islam,-colloquium-held-in-india-islamic-cultural-center-new-delhi/d/113139

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Terrorist hijacked Islam, colloquium held in India Islamic Cultural Center New Delhi

November 7, 2017

New Delhi: A high-level delegation of UAE sponsored anti-terrorist organization “Hidaya” expressed its feelings that the Indian Muslims have not patronized terrorism. They were attending a colloquium held at India Islamic Center, New Delhi.

The chief of the Hidaya organization, Dr. Ali Rashed told that it is the duty of every Muslim to come forward to oppose terrorist activities. He further told that the terrorists have hijacked Islam. It is our bounden duty to defend Islam. He further said that when the non-Muslims hear the sound of “Allah hu Akbar”, they get perturbed thinking that what is going to happen next whereas this slogan should give peace and tranquility to them.

Another member and Executive Director of Hidaya, Maqsood highlighted the activities of his organization. He told that at present more than 60% citizens of Arab countries are below 25 years of age. He also told that the Muslims should take care of their children who are caught in terrorist activities.

President of India Islamic Cultural Center of New Delhi, Mr. Sirajuddin Qureshi told that in India, more than 200 million Muslims reside but they are not involved in terrorist activities.

Prof. Akhtarul Wasey, VC of Jodhpur University conducted the meeting. The function began with the recitation of Quran by Qari Hifzur Rehman. Maulana Asrarul Haq Qasmi, MP told that terrorism did not flourish in India since the Muslims here understood the Quran very well. Mufti Mohammed Mukaram of Masjid Fatehpuri, Maulana Mahmood Madani, Maulana Ali Asghar Imam also addressed the gathering.

Former Chief Election Commissioner, Mr. Yousuf Qureshi told that terrorist activities started when America patronized mujahideen with the help of Pakistan to intervene in Afghanistan.

Prof. Syed Ehtesham Hasnain, VC of Hamdarad University, HR Khan Sohail, Mustaq Ahmed Advocate and others were present at the meeting.

https://www.siasat.com/news/terrorist-hijacked-islam-colloquium-held-india-islamic-cultural-center-new-delhi-1252823/

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Talibanization not the agenda or narrative of Pakistan: Gen. Bajwa

Nov 06 2017

The Pakistani army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa has said extremism and Talibanizatin is neither the agenda of Pakistan nor its narrative.

Gen. Bajwa reportedly made the remarks during a meeting of the Pakistani delegation with the Afghan leaders in Kabul last month.

A source privy of the development has told Daily Times in Pakistan that “Gen Bajwa asked the Afghan leaders about what Pakistan could do. The Afghan leaders reiterated their longstanding claims that Taliban had safe heavens in Pakistan and that the militants freely crossed the border and Pakistan did not take any action.”

The source further added “At this stage we proposed to solve the problems bilaterally. We sought their suggestion as to what mechanism they had in mind that we could find out solution to the problems.”

“We told them Pakistan was keen and serious to address and solve the issue. This is harming Pakistan too. We are trying to return to normalisation. We told the Afghan side they there were US, NATO, EU and the world communities in Afghanistan and they could check accusations supporting the insurgents?” the official said.

In the meantime, the official has told the paper that Separate groups of intelligence officials, military officers, diplomats, border management, trade, refugees and political level are being formed in line with the understanding reached between Gen. Bajwa and the Afghan officials.

http://www.khaama.com/talibanization-not-the-agenda-or-narrative-of-pakistan-gen-bajwa-03779

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Indonesia's bid to root out Islamists throws spotlight on universities

07/11/2017

By Ed Davies and Agustinus Beo Da Costa NUSA DUA, Indonesia, (Reuters) – When students at Indonesia’s prestigious Institute of Agricultural Studies swore an oath to support a caliphate in the world’s largest Muslim-majority country last year, a video of the event went viral and the government grew alarmed. Months later, Indonesian President Joko Widodo banned the decades-old hardline group Hizb ut-Tahrir Indonesia (HTI), which organised the student pledge, and declared its goal to set up a caliphate was incompatible with the constitution and could threaten security. Last month, under prodding from the government, thousands of students across the nation made an anti-radicalism pledge. It followed an unprecedented gathering in late September of some 3,000 academics in Bali, who also pledged to fight extremism and defend the secular constitution. The campaign against extremism in education comes amid a rise of a hardline, politicised Islam in Indonesia, which until recently had occupied the fringe of the nation’s politics. “Radical organizations can spread like a virus in universities,” said Professor Muhammad Sirozi, rector of the State Islamic University Raden Fatah in Palembang on Sumatra. “These are not the organizations that students form themselves, but they are from outside,” he said at a briefing that outlined ways to help universities tackle radicalism following the Bali conference. The campaign to root out boosters of the caliphate is not just confined to schools. A document collated by Indonesia’s intelligence agency lists 1,300 HTI members in senior posts in the civil service, universities, the military and police. An intelligence source confirmed the authenticity of the document, which was reviewed by Reuters. Some of those on it declined to comment after being contacted, but HTI’s former spokesman Ismail Yusanto said it did include some of its members.

SUHARTO TACTICS Illustrating how a politicised brand of Islam has gained traction, nearly 20 percent of high school and university students in Indonesia support the establishment of a caliphate, a survey showed last week. Moreover, around one in four of the 4,200 Muslim students in the survey by pollster Alvara said they were, to varying degrees, ready to wage jihad to achieve this. Hizb ut-Tahrir, an international organisation, established by a Palestinian Islamic scholar in 1953, has been banned in some Arab, Asian and European countries. One of its former members in Indonesia is Bahrun Naim, who went to fight for Islamic State in Syria and is accused of masterminding a series of attacks in Indonesia since early last year. An officially registered organisation in Indonesia since 2000, HTI has sought a judicial review in the constitutional court over its disbanding. “They never gave us a chance to defend ourselves. Is it not an authoritarian and repressive action?” said HTI spokesman Yusanto, who likened the crackdown to the tactics used against opponents under former strongman President Suharto. Asked whether HTI was still operating, Yusanto said no one could ban members from their duty to do “Dakwah” (missionary work) and those activities would continue. Higher Education Minister Muhammad Nasir told reporters in July that HTI members were lecturers “in many universities” – Indonesia has 394 state universities and about 3,000 private ones. He warned they could be sacked unless they proffer loyalty to Indonesia’s secular ideology Pancasila, or “five principles”. Yusanto said, however, no lecturers who were HTI members had been sacked. A Home Ministry spokesman said a task force set up to find members in the civil service had not found any so far. MILITARY SYMPATHISERS One former HTI member, Ayik Heriansyah, said the group tries to enlist support from influential members of society and sympathisers in the security forces to overthrow governments, or what it terms “the handing over of power”. Universities have been a key recruiting ground. Heriansyah, who was once chairman of HTI at the University of Indonesia, said potential recruits were usuallyinvited to an Islamic study group. After about three months, they might be asked to participate in intensive Hiz b-ut-Tahrir study, said Heriansyah, who said left the group after a falling out with its central board. Heriansyah said the ban on the group would simply push it underground. “They are still running the movement as usual, but with a new structure and stewardship,” he said. HTI has not disclosed its membership. Raymond Arifianto, a research fellow at Singapore’s S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, said his sources say HTI had about one million members, including an estimated 10-15 percent of junior army officers as members or sympathisers. A spokesman for Indonesia’s military denied this. TARGETING HIGH SCHOOLS The group has also gained a strong presence in state universities that train public school teachers, meaning new teachers could spread HTI ideology to high school pupils. A survey published last December by the Institute for the Study of Islam and Society, showed that 78 percent of 505 religious teachers in public schools supported implementing sharia law in Indonesia. The survey also found that 77 percent backed Islamist groups advocating this goal. Muhammad Abdullah Darraz, director of the Maarif Institute, which promotes religious and cultural harmony, said HTI had targeted religious lessons at state high schools to spread its ideology. Clerics offered their services for free, often with school principals and teachers being unaware of their affiliation, he told Reuters.HTI’s spokesman denied this was a strategy but said members were obliged to do missionary work without charge. Indonesia’s biggest Islamic groups, the moderate Nahdlatul Ulama (NU) and Muhammadiyah, which claim to have about 120 million members between them, back the crackdown on HTI. Yaqut Cholil Qoumas, chairman of NU’s GP Ansor youth wing, said that Indonesia had been built by many religions and cultures, but “HTI came and wanted to change this diversity into one nation called an Islamic country.“  (Additional reporting by Jessica Damiana, Stefanno Reinard, Kanuprya Kapoor and Tom Allard; Editing by Bill Tarrant)

http://www.euronews.com/2017/11/07/indonesias-bid-to-root-out-islamists-throws-spotlight-on-universities

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‘Moderate Islam holds key to modernization’

By Joel Lee

Nov 6, 2017

Iranian Ambassador to Korea Hassan Taherian has faithfully practiced Islam, believing that a life of piety, honesty and integrity is any Muslim’s starting point.

At a time when different interpretations of Islam -- from purist to reformist, and from Shiite to Sunni -- are engrossing Iranian domestic politics and the larger Middle East, the envoy conveyed his personal view that a true Muslim ought to live scrupulously in line with Islamic teachings and norms, and not enforce his or her belief on others.

“I tell you that religion is an important aspect of humanity, particularly in the Middle East societies,” he told The Korea Herald at the embassy in Seoul. “Religion plays a crucial role in shaping the Iranian society’s morality and encouraging people to live good lives.”

The Middle East powerhouse is an Islamic republic, where more than 90 percent of people associate themselves with the Shiite branch, the official religion of the state. Five to 10 percent of Iranians belong to the Sunni or Sufi denominations, and there are small minorities of Jews, Christians, Zoroastrians and others. Iran became an Islamic republic after the Pahlavi dynasty was overthrown in the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

“I tell you that as a Muslim, regardless of your vocation, one of your duties is to practice Islam in a faithful way and encourage others to follow. This is an individual duty,” he said.

“Government officials are also encouraged to promote Islamic teaching and views. But they do not in any way try to enforce their beliefs on others. By being a good example of a Muslim, living a pious, honest and socially oriented life, others will think Islam is a force for good.”

Taherian agreed with the notion that moderate Islam is more compatible with globalization and integration with different cultures. He explained there are various stances on the Islamic ideological spectrum, with “purists” or “extremists” of the Salafi movement -- an ultraconservative branch of Sunni Islam -- on one hand, and “reformists” or “moderates” -- dedicated to engaging the world and developing their societies with modernity -- on the other hand.

The fundamentalists aim to remake the world mirroring the teachings of Prophet Muhammad who lived 1,400 years ago, he explicated, while reformists try to see through Muhammad’s message and distill his essence in a rapidly progressing world.

Both views exist in Iran on all levels of the society, government and institutions, he added, saying international cooperation would be easier for Muslims with a “flexible” attitude.

Iran’s regional rival Saudi Arabia, a Sunni powerhouse, has also faced the exigencies of religious moderation. Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman recently promised a return to “a more moderate Islam,” in a bid to refashion the kingdom as an attractive, stable destination for foreign business and investment. To pave the way for its “Vision 2030” strategic development plan, aimed at diversifying the petroleum-driven national economy for the post-oil era, the prince lifted several restrictions, including the one barring women from driving, set to fully go into effect next year.

“Saudi was not like this before 1979. Saudi Arabia and the entire region went through a revival after 1979,” he said at the Riyadh’s Future Investment Initiative conference in late October, referring to the year the country strengthened its ties with Wahhabi ultraconservative establishments to compete for regional power against conservatizing Iran in the Islamic Revolution.

Taherian said the Iranian constitution as well as various societal rules and regulations are based on Sharia, and although not all laws are based on Islamic law, they should not run counter to it. Analysts have said Iran’s constitution -- hammered out in the wake of the 1979 revolution -- is one of the sources of perennial conflicts between ultraconservatives and reformists, as it contains conflicting principles of democracy and theocracy.

Iran’s Majlis parliament has 290 representatives and their legislations are checked by the Guardian Council, comprising 12 Islamic leaders, or imams.

On the question of cultural collaboration with Korea, the diplomat argued that both societies should focus on their commonalities rather than differences. He said Korean TV dramas are popular in Iran, and Iranian films are critically acclaimed worldwide and increasingly appreciated by cinema aficionados here.

“Koreans in general don’t know much about Islam and its cultural subtleties and differences,” the ambassador said, adding that Korean media outlets tend to import and air the perspectives of Western channels, dominated by news of violence and terrorism.

“So people understand Islam through the angle of Western cultures, not Korea’s own eyes. It takes time to understand the Middle East and its cultures and religion through your own perspective. It’s important for a journalist to have a firsthand observation and understanding of Islam.”

http://nwww.koreaherald.com/view.php?ud=20171106000895

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India

 

India must be more proactive in Kashmir: counter-terror expert from UAE

By Rahul Tripathi

November 7, 2017

A top counter-terrorism expert from the UAE, Ali Rashid Al Nuaimi, said India needs to “proactively” deal with the situation in Kashmir and “cannot afford to wait and wake up until they (Kashmiris) come and demonstrate” (throw stones). Speaking to The Indian Express, Al Nuaimi, chairman of the Hedayah Foundation that works on countering violent extremism, said he was not in favour of mainstreaming madrasa education but it (education) should be in the “best interests of the nation”.

The UP government has decided to introduce NCERT books in madrasas in UP, apart from making mathematics and science compulsory at intermediate levels in these schools. About this, Nuaimi said, “I cannot say mainstream. But the structure of the education system should serve the best interest of the nation.”

On the use of pellets guns by security forces in Kashmir, he said, “I think you should do other things before you get to these things (pellets guns). We have to be proactive in dealing with them. You do not let your kids get used by these (extremists) groups. For their future, you will have to be proactive and convince these kids that they have to concentrate on their future, education. They have to be loyal to their nation. You just don’t wait and wake up until they come and demonstrate.”

When asked about the role of Pakistan in Jammu and Kashmir, he said, “All countries have to respect dealings with and interfering with other countries. Unfortunately, some Kashmiris are affected by the campaign coming across the border. What you need to is to take initiative to gain the hearts and minds of the new generation. You cannot do anything with people outside the border. Just forget them, and make sure that your security forces deal with them. But make sure that you engage with the people inside….”

Nuaimi earlier delivered a key note address on “countering violent extremism” where he said many countries, including some of the superpowers, have been sheltering terrorist groups and it was time that the world needs to go after them.

“The problem is that many countries especially the superpower play politics with this issue. Unfortunately, we all are suffering because of that,” Nuaimi said.

Considered to be one of the liberal countries in the Gulf, Nuaimi said, UAE and his federation are trying to promote Islam as a “religion of peace” and engage the community to “counter extremism.” “These terrorist groups use religion. Whenever they want to announce, they start with verses of quran or saying of the prophet. They are using religion to promote their ideology. That was the reason why we created Muslim Council of Elders (MCE) to promote Islam as a religion and counter the narrative of these groups — Daesh, Al-Qaida, Boko Haram and Muslim Brotherhood. We recently visited Nigeria and met different religious leaders namely, Muslim, Christian and others. We visited mix camps of Muslims and Christians who are suffering and escaped from Boko Haram controlled areas.”

http://indianexpress.com/article/india/india-must-be-more-proactive-in-kashmir-counter-terror-expert-from-uae-4925928/

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Islam and Christianity in Balance released

HAROON MIRANI

Nov 7 2017

Renowned historian and author Dr Sheikh Muhammed Iqbal's latest book Islam and Christianity in Balance was today released at a function where scholars called for unity in Muslim Ummah as a precursor to dialogue with people of other faith.

The 546-page book comprises 14 chapters describing various challenges faced by the largest religions of world and how they can live, prosper peacefully.

Speaking on the occasion, Iqbal detailed the historical background of relations between Islam and Christianity, how 11th century changed the dynamics after Christians initiated crusades primarily for other reasons than the faith. He also spoke at length on the current situation in sub-continent with huge challenges faced by Muslims.

"Those who target Muslims shouldn't forget their contribution. Muslims have the greatest of all legacies in all fields ranging from economics to literature," said Iqbal. "Muslim saints are the beacons of peace who developed human peace with affection."

Iqbal expressed disappointment at the disunity and internal situation of Muslim community which represent its weak point. "Organisation of Islamic countries could have supplemented the UNO as a strong partner in peace but instead countries are fighting each other," said Iqbal.

"Same thing is happening in Kashmir, leaders are touching cord of mundane politics to lead us nowhere. Unfortunately, we have forgotten our spiritual past much like architecture, mother tongue, culture and other such things that comprised of our strength."

Justice (Retd) Bashir Ahmad Kirmani who was guest of honour said that the book is of utmost importance as it has been released on the 100th year of Balfour declaration "which stabbed Muslim Ummah with the creation of Israel."

"I feel unless Palestine is not resolved the Abrahamic religions won't come to peace," said Kirmani.

The other big challenge according to Kirmani was lack of leadership in Islamic Countries. "Let us suppose that other religions would like to talk to Islamic nations for resolving all issues, not to whom will they talk. We have nobody here. All major Islamic countries are at each others throats trying to undermine each other," said Kirmani.

"The only solution is the establishment of democratically elected governments that will represent true aspirations of people. This will create the much needed unity and true leadership."

Kirmani urged the intellectual community of Kashmir to stress on the need to initiate talks between Muslims and Hindus as this represent the most urgent need. "We are living in challenging times and muslims need to talk to with Hindus. India is turning into a Hindu country and 20 crore Muslims cannot escape this reality," said Kirmani. "Muslims have to think of dialogue with Hindus and only this safeguards their interests and future. And Kashmir has the potential of helping in this regard."

Full report at:

http://www.greaterkashmir.com/news/srinagar-city/islam-and-christianity-in-balance-released/265324.html

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MHA will have two new units to fight cyber criminals, jihadis

Bharti Jain

Nov 7, 2017

NEW DELHI: With radicalisation, mostly online, and cyber crimes emerging as major security challenges, the Modi government has decided to create two new divisions in the home ministry to shape up policy and response to these new-age threats.

The two new divisions — counter-radicalisation and cyber security — are likely to be created as part of an administrative restructuring plan that will see the merger of four existing divisions of the home ministry into two.

The judicial division and centre-state divisions are being rolled into one, as are international cooperation and public grievances divisions. "Though home ministry will continue to have 18 divisions even after the restructuring, eliminating the need for Cabinet approval, consolidation of four divisions into two will create space for two additional divisions headed by joint-secretary level officers. The structural changes are likely to take effect in the next few days, possibly within this month," said ahome ministry functionary.

While the counter-radicalisation division will focus on tracking and assessing the online reach of global terrorist outfits like the Islamic State terror group and devising strategies to counter their propaganda, the cyber security division will monitor online crimes and threats, including cyber fraud and hacking, and suggest ways to minimise and fight them.

"Online radicalisation has become a global phenomenon, given the growing use of social media by terrorists outfits for propaganda. Though this problem is not too pronounced in India, with only a few youth influenced enough to join IS or travel to Iraq/Syria, the need for a counter-radicalisation division and policy was felt as Union home minister Rajnath Singh was keen that the problem be " nipped in the bud," said a home ministry officer.

The officer said that even though online radicalisation has only had a limited influence on young Indian Muslims, with their families acting as buffer against attempts by IS elements to lure them to fight in Iraq/Syria, "this does not mean we don't have trends available that will help devise strategies to nip the problem in the bud". "We can't be complacent and need to think ahead. The new division, which is likely to hire domain experts, will seek to formulate a counter-radicalisation strategy and an elaborate action-plan to operationalise it," said the officer. IS' online propaganda has found some traction among Indian Muslims, with around 70-80, mostly from Kerala, estimated to have left the country for IS-controlled territoriesin Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan.

Full report at:

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/mha-will-have-two-new-units-to-fight-cyber-criminals-jihadis/articleshow/61538442.cms

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India in touch with Myanmar, Bangladesh on Rohingya issue: Jaishankar to parliament panel

Nov 6, 2017

NEW DELHI: India is in touch with Myanmar and Bangladesh on the issue of Rohingya Muslims, Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar is understood to have told the members of a parliamentary panel here on Monday.

The agenda for today's meeting of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on External Affairs, headed by senior Congress leader Shashi Tharoor, was 'relations with Myanmar and the Rohingya situation'.

The foreign secretary told the panel that the government was keeping a close watch on the Rohingya issue and was examining the matter through humanitarian prism, said a member present in the meeting.

India was in touch with both Myanmar and Bangladesh over the situation arising out of the crisis, another member quoted Jaishankar as saying.

Asked about the deliberations, Tharoor, a former Minister of State for External Affairs, said, "It was an interesting and thorough discussion on the India-Myanmar relations, especially on Rohingya crisis."

Thousands of Rohingyas have fled Myanmar following incidents of violence in the Rakhine province.

Around 14,000 Rohingyas living in India are registered with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. An estimate puts the number of illegal Rohingya immigrants in India at 40,000.

The Rohingyas are an ethnic group, largely comprising Muslims, who predominantly live in the western Myanmar province of Rakhine. Their language is linguistically similar to Bengali. The commonly spoken language in Myanmar in Burmese.

Full report at:

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/india-in-touch-with-myanmar-bangladesh-on-rohingya-issue-jaishankar-to-parliament-panel/articleshow/61534258.cms

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Have inputs that terrorists may disrupt peace initiative in Kashmir: CRPF

Nov 6, 2017

SRINAGAR: As the Centre's special representative for Kashmir Dineshwar Sharma began his five-day visit to the state today, the CRPF said there were inputs about terrorists stepping up violence to disrupt the peace initiative.

"There is an input. May be a grenade throwing, may be hit and run attack. There is an indication that they may step up violence," Inspector General of CRPF Ravideep Singh Sahi told reporters here on Monday.

He said, "Whenever any such step (dialogue) is taken, which leads to peace, the enemy will not want it. So, they may try to step up the attacks."

Sahi said while the situation in Kashmir was under control, the security forces need to remain alert.

"We keep on receiving inputs about terrorists' activities and their movements. We are alert and the situation is under control," he said.

The IG CRPF said terrorists do not have a permanent base in the summer capital here but maintain their presence in the city.

"As per information available with us, they do sometimes come to the city. They do not have a permanent base (here), but of course we receive inputs about their presence on the city outskirts. And (based) on these inputs, we carried out some operations and many commanders have been neutralised," he said.

Sahi said there has been a reduction in the number of stone-pelting incidents in the Valley this year.

In 2017, there has been a significant reduction in stone pelting, especially after April, he said, adding that the stone pelting, however, still takes place at the encounter sites and termed it as a cause of concern.

"By and large, the spontaneous stone-pelting in city from law and order point has reduced to a large extent," he said.

Asked about the reason for decline in stone-pelting incidents, Sahi said the people of the Valley have understood that it does not have any positive result.

"It also has an adverse impact on image of Kashmiri people outside and economy as well. Besides, the operations were also carried out and also the NIA operations could be the reason," the IG CRPF said.

"There are multiple reasons," he added, referring to the NIA investigation into terror funding.

Full report at:

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/have-inputs-that-terrorists-may-disrupt-peace-initiative-in-kashmir-crpf/articleshow/61533610.cms

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Masood Azhar’s nephew killed in Pulwama encounter; US-made M4 rifle found at hideout was online propaganda weapon

by Praveen Swami

November 7, 2017

Talha Rashid, the nephew of Jaish-e-Muhammad chief Masood Azhar Alvi, has been killed in a Jammu and Kashmir Police-led operation, a spokesperson for the terrorist group announced early on Tuesday. The operation, targeting a terrorist hideout in the small village of Aglar Kandi, six kilometres from Rajpora in southern Kashmir, also claimed the lives of the group’s military commander for south Kashmir, identified only by the pseudonym “Muhammad Bhai”, and Kashmir resident Wasim Ganai.

Police sources told The Indian Express the operation, which involved the 44 Rashtriya Rifles and 182 Central Reserve Police Force, also claimed the life of an Indian Army soldier, whose identity is being withheld until his next of kin could be notified.

A United States Army-issue weapon, appearing to be a Colt-manufactured M4 carbine, was recovered from the hideout, police sources said. The weapon, possibly lost in combat in Afghanistan, had featured widely in online propaganda posts last week, after an ethnic Kashmiri terrorist from the Rajpora area released pictures posing with it. The weapon was, erroneously, described as a new Russian rifle.

Talha Rashid, the sources said, had been targeted as part of an ongoing police operation against a group of an estimated Jaish-e-Muhammad terrorists sent across the Line of Control to carry out high-profile fidayeen attacks. The three men killed in Rajpora are suspected of having carried out a recent ambush targeting a police post near Rajpora, killing constable Abdul Salaam.

Jaish commanders in Pakistan, who have been operating openly despite an official ban on the organisation, launched a major fundraising and recruitment drive this summer. The organisation’s house magazine, al-Qalam, had called on landowners to gift their ushr, a religious tithe levied on the harvest, to help “martyrs, prisoners detained for Islam, the families of religious warriors, seminaries, offices and needy individuals“.

A record 72 jihadists have been killed in south Kashmir so far this year—including ten from the Jaish-e-Muhammad—the highest number in a decade. Four ranking commanders—the Hizb-ul-Mujahideen’s Yasin Itoo, the Lashkar-e-Taiba’s Abu Dujanah and Ismail, and the Jaish’s Mehmood—were among those shot in a series of operations that resulted from police intelligence.

“From 2012 on, there had been a sharp drop-off in offensive operations against terrorists, which allowed their networks in southern Kashmir to consolidate,” an intelligence officer said. “That lauds the foundations for the crisis we erupted in 2016,” he noted.

Full report at:

http://indianexpress.com/article/india/jammu-and-kashmir-masood-azhar-pulwama-encounter-militants-4926199/

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Court rejects plea to extend IS suspects’ police remand

November 7, 2017

Rejecting the Gujarat ATS’ plea to extend the police remand of suspected ISIS operatives Kasim Stimeberwala and Ubed Beg Mirza, who were arrested from Surat on October 25, an ACJM court in Ankleshwar sent them to judicial custody for 14 days on Monday .

The additional chief judicial magistrate (ACJM) had sent the accused to 10 days’ police remand on October 26. At the end of the remand period, they were produced in the same court on Monday. The ATS demanded an extension of the remand by 14 days, saying other accused were yet to be arrested and several evidences yet to be seized.

Defense lawyer Yogesh Patel argued that presence of accused in police custody is not necessary since police had already seized their pen drives, computer and mobile phones and the content, they posted on social media, could be obtained. The court rejected the application by the ATS and sent the accused to Bharuch jail.

Patel said, “They (ATS) demanded further remand without proper grounds. The judges accepted our arguments and sent the duo to judicial custody for 14 days.”

Full report at:

http://indianexpress.com/article/india/court-rejects-plea-to-extend-is-suspects-police-remand-4925990/

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Nanded arms case: All five terror accused want to plead guilty

by Sadaf Modak

November 7, 2017

FIVE years after five men were arrested on charges of being part of a Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) plot to incite Muslim youth, they submitted before a court on Monday that they wanted to plead guilty. This is the first case in Maharashtra investigated by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) where the accused have sought to plead guilty, though there are instances of terror accused pleading guilty in Bengaluru and Delhi.

Mohammed Muzammil Abdul Gani, Mohammed Sadique Mohammed Farooque, Mohammed Irfan Mohammed Gaus, Mohammed Akram Mohammed Akbar and Mohammed Iliyas Mohammed Akbar, all residents of Nanded, were arrested by the Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad in 2012.

The accused, now lodged in Taloja jail, were on Monday produced in a special NIA court. In handwritten notes, they said that the condition of their homes had deteriorated since their arrest in 2012. They also said that they wanted to return to their families and society. The notes said they should be shown leniency if the court accepted their plea of guilt. The prosecution has so far examined over 13 witnesses in the case, which was taken over in 2012 by the NIA.

The advocates for the accused, who were being represented by the Jamiat Ulama-e-Maharashtra, told the court that since they did not support the accused pleading guilty, they want to withdraw from the case. The court has directed the NIA to file a reply.

Full report at:

http://indianexpress.com/article/india/want-to-plead-guilty-five-5-terror-accused-to-court-4925923/

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South Asia

 

7 ISIS militants killed in latest airstrikes in East of Afghanistan

Nov 06 2017

At least seven militants affiliated with the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) terrorist group’s offshoot, ISIS Khorasan, were killed in the latest airstrikes in eastern Nangarhar province of Afghanistan.

According to the local officials, the airstrikes were carried out in the past 24 hours in the vicinity of Achin district.

The provincial police commandment in a statement said the fighter planes targeted the ISIS hideouts in three different parts of the district on Sunday, leaving at least seven militants dead.

The statement further added that the militants were targeted in Abdul Khel, Sara Ghondi, and Malkand areas.

The provincial police commandment also added that the airstrikes did not incur casualties to the local residents and security personnel.

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

This comes as the local officials said Sunday that the US forces based in Afghanistan carried out a series of airstrikes on ISIS hideouts in eastern Nangarhar province of Afghanistan, leaving several militants dead.

The provincial government media office in a statement said the airstrikes were carried out on ISIS hideouts in the restive Achin district.

The statement further added that the foreign forces targeted the ISIS hideouts in Mamand, Sapari, Chenar, Nargis and some other areas, leaving at least fifteen militants dead.

http://www.khaama.com/7-isis-militants-killed-in-latest-airstrikes-in-east-of-afghanistan-03784

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Grimsby man goes to Bangladesh to aid Rohingya Muslims fleeing Burma

Nov 7, 2017

A Grimsby man has travelled 5,940 miles in order to help fleeing refugees from Burma at the Bangladesh border.

Abdul Somir, founder of local charity Love4Orphans, has jetted off to south east Asia in order to try and provide what help that he can to the hundreds of thousands of Rohingya Muslims fleeing persecution and "genocide" in Myanmar.

Approximately 800,000 refugees have crossed the border into Bangladesh since August 25, following a military crackdown in the region, with reports of mass killings and whole villages being torched or destroyed.

The Burmese Government has stated that the campaign has been the result of co-ordinated attacks by Muslim insurgents in the region, however the UN has accused it of ethnic cleansing.

Abdul, who currently funds and supports an orphanage in Bangladesh, has raised £3,000 which he is bringing to the country in order to provide as much help as possible to the most vulnerable refugees, wanting to focus on helping the very young and the very old.

He will use the money that he has raised to try and put together food parcels and gather supplies for the refugees that he will meet, as many of them have fled their villages with just the clothes on their backs and whatever they could carry.

He said: "There are mass killings going, and it does not seem to be properly reported in the national news, it is like they don't care.

"At least 800,000 people have already crossed the border into Bangladesh and it will become a real crisis if people don't try and help in some way, and Bangladesh is a third world country already, it doesn't have the support systems in place to cope with this huge influx of people.

"I have been speaking with people on the ground in Bangladesh and some of the stories and video that I have seen are just horrendous, there are people being cut in half and dismembered while they are still alive, it is almost like something from the killing fields in Cambodia.

"Families are being wiped out, women are being raped and the only way out is either by sea or crossing the border, they have no where to go.

"My mission when I arrive will be to try and find those that are the most vulnerable and try and provide whatever help I can to them, be that food, warm clothing or shelter if possible.

"This is a crisis like no other we may have seen for decades and I feel that as a society we cannot turn our backs."

Drone footage has emerged of thousands of Rohingya Muslims fleeing Burma, with many even taking to the water in an effort to swim to freedom.

The Muslims are fleeing the Rakhine region, and UN officials have so far been banned from visiting the state, something that they branded "unacceptable."

Full report at:

http://www.grimsbytelegraph.co.uk/news/grimsby-news/grimsby-man-goes-bangladesh-aid-670350

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US investigation finds no Afghan civilian casualties in Kunduz strike

November 07, 2017

A U.S. investigation into reports that at least 13 civilians were killed during an operation in the northern Afghan city of Kunduz last week found no evidence of any civilian casualties , a statement from the U.S. military in Kabul said on Tuesday.

“United States Forces – Afghanistan (USFOR-A) has investigated allegations of civilian casualties in Kunduz province during the period of November 3 and 4; no evidence of civilian casualties has been found,” the statement said.

Officials in the Chahardara district outside Kunduz city said 13 people in two villages had been killed by U.S. air strikes in the area, while some reports said as many as 65 people had been killed.

However, other Afghan civil and military officials denied the reports and said civilians had been evacuated before a combined operation in the area began. They said dozens of Taliban insurgents had been killed.

“We can confirm operations occurred in this area and numerous enemy combatants were killed, as also confirmed by Kunduz Governor Omarkhail and Ministry of Defense Spokesman Major General Dawlat Waziri,” the U.S. statement said.

“The USFOR-A investigation was conducted independently and concluded that there were no civilian casualties . Specifically, no hospitals or clinics in the local area indicated treatment of people with wounds from armed conflict,” it said.

The issue of civilian casualties has taken on increasing sensitivity as the United States has stepped up air strikes against the Taliban as part of a more robust strategy aimed at breaking the stalemate with the insurgents.

Full report at:

http://nation.com.pk/07-Nov-2017/us-investigation-finds-no-afghan-civilian-casualties-in-kunduz-strike

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Bangladesh police arrest militant suspected of killing US blogger

06 Nov 2017

DHAKA: Bangladeshi counter-terrorism police said on Monday they had arrested an Islamist militant wanted for the 2015 killing of a U.S. blogger critical of religious extremism.

The militant, identified as Abu Siddiq Sohel, 34, a member of the al Qaeda-inspired militant group Ansar Ullah Bangla Team, is suspected of taking part in the killing of writer Avijit Roy, deputy police commissioner Masudur Rahman said.

Roy, a U.S. citizen of Bangladeshi origin, was hacked to death by machete-wielding attackers in February 2015 while returning home with his wife from a Dhaka book fair. Roy's widow, Rafida Ahmed, was maimed in the attack.

Sohel, who was identified after analysing CCTV footage, was arrested in the capital, Dhaka, on Sunday night, Rahman told Reuters.

A total of eight people took part in the killing, Sohel said in court on Monday, court officials said. However, he denied he was directly involved in the killing, saying four people carried out the actual attack on Roy while others assisted.

Bangladesh, a Muslim-majority country of 160 million people, is struggling to control attacks by Islamist groups on secular bloggers, atheists, foreigners and religious minorities.

The most serious recent attack came in July 2016, when gunmen stormed a restaurant in the diplomatic quarter of Dhaka and killed 22 people, most of them foreigners.

Police say the militant group is behind the killings of more than a dozen secular bloggers and gay rights activists. They believe a sacked army major, who is still at large, was the leader of the group and masterminded the killings.

Al Qaeda and Islamic State have also claimed responsibility for a series of killings over the past few years, including Roy's.

Authorities have consistently ruled out the presence of such groups, blaming domestic militants instead. However, security experts say the scale and sophistication of the restaurant attack suggested links to a wider network.

Full report at:

http://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/asiapacific/bangladesh-police-arrest-militant-suspected-of-killing-us-blogger-9380856

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Myanmar Border Police Exchange Fire With Unknown Bangladeshi Assailants

2017-11-06

Four Myanmar border police in the country’s volatile Maungdaw township in northern Rakhine were fired upon by armed men from Bangladesh territory along the border on Sunday evening, though none of them was injured.

“An armed group fired from the Bangladesh side, but nobody was injured,” said Rakhine state police officer Aung Myat Moe. “We can’t say which group they are from. We heard that three armed men were arrested at a security post in Bangladesh.”

The four policemen, who were stationed at milepost No. 45 in Maungdaw township, were shot at as they returned from Aung Thabyay Police Station after collecting their salaries near Sali Taung village at milepost no. 46, said Min Aung, Rakhine state government’s spokesman person.

“We can’t confirm who did it, because the police couldn’t see the other side,” he told RFA’s Myanmar Service.

The group of armed men fired more than 30 shots at the four from a hill in Bangladesh about 300 feet from the border fence, according to a report by the online journal The Irawaddy, citing government spokesman Zaw Htay.

The groups exchanged fire, and one of the four border police returned to Aung Thabyay station on a motorbike to get reinforcements, the report said. More than 20 officers arrived at the scene and rescued the three other policemen.

Myanmar Border Guard Police have filed a complaint with Border Guards Bangladesh, a paramilitary force under the Ministry of Home Affairs responsible for the country’s border security, it said.

Maungdaw, along with neighboring Buthidaung and Rathedaung townships, has been the epicenter of recent violence during a crackdown on Rohingya Muslims by the Myanmar military in response to deadly attacks on police outposts by Muslim militants on Aug. 25. The area was subject to another crackdown by Myanmar security forces following smaller-scale attacks on border guard stations by the same group on Oct. 9, 2016.

Later that month, two ethnic Daingnet villagers from Aung Thabyay were killed and two others were injured during an attack allegedly by Muslim militants along the border near the same area where Sunday's shootings occurred.

Related attacks

Min Aung said authorities still do not know who shot and injured the villagers, but that he believes the three attacks — the policemen on Sunday, the Daingnet in late October, and the deadly raids on 30 police outposts on Aug. 25 — are all related.

“I think they are related,” he said. “The group that attacked 30 police posts at the same time is not a small one. Not only the groups, but also some local residents have connections [to the crimes].”

Though the military announced that security police in Maungdaw had been withdrawn and transferred to the regional capital Sittwe, villagers fear more attacks to come by Muslim militants.

Ming Aung told RFA there were still enough security guards and police in the Buthidaung and Maungdaw area to ensure their safety, though they could not guard each resident.

Full report at:

http://www.rfa.org/english/news/myanmar/myanmar-border-police-exchange-fire-with-unknown-bangladeshi-assailants-11062017153021.html

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UN council weakens response to Myanmar

November 07, 2017

The UN Security Council yesterday dropped plans to adopt a resolution demanding an end to the violence in Myanmar in the face of strong opposition from China and instead opted for a statement, diplomats said.

The statement calls for an end to the violence, full access for humanitarian aid workers to Myanmar's Rakhine state and for the return of hundreds of thousands of Muslim Rohingya who have fled to Bangladesh.

It does not threaten sanctions against Myanmar's military.

Britain and France circulated a draft resolution last month, but diplomats said veto power China, a supporter of Myanmar's former ruling junta, had argued that a resolution was not the appropriate response to the crisis.

Following negotiations, China agreed to the formal statement to be adopted later yesterday, which includes almost all of the demands of the proposed resolution but does not carry the same weight.

"The important thing is the content," British Deputy UN Ambassador Jonathan Allen told reporters. "Gaining a very strong, unanimous statement I think was the real prize here."

Since late August, more than 600,000 Rohingya have been driven from their homes by an army campaign in Rakhine state that the United Nations has denounced as ethnic cleansing.

Myanmar authorities say the military operation is aimed at rooting out Rohingya militants who staged attacks on police posts.

The council statement was agreed as UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is to travel to Manila this week to join leaders of the Southeast Asian (ASEAN) bloc for a summit.

The Rohingya refugee crisis is expected to be a top issue of discussion at the summit, to be attended by US President Donald Trump, who will dispatch US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to Myanmar later this month.

Full report at:

http://www.thedailystar.net/frontpage/un-council-weakens-response-myanmar-1487608

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Afghan govt rejects it plans to block Whatsapp and Telegram applications

Nov 06 2017

The Afghan government rejected the reports as baseless regarding its plans to block the Whatsapp and Telegram programs.

The Office of the President, ARG Palace, in a statement said the freedom of speech has been guaranteed in the constitution of Afghanistan and the government of national unity is committed for the execution of the law and protection of such values.

The statement further added that the freedom of speech remains immune from any such aggressions as per the constitution of the country and government is obliged to respect and support it.

According to ARG, the government is aware regarding the reports circulated in the media outlets alleging that the government plans to block the Whatsapp and Telegram applications.

The circulation of the news has sparked concerns among the people and disrupted the peace of mind of the residents of the country, ARG Palace, said adding that the government will never allow any institution to block the tools used for the freedom of expression and speech.

The Afghan government also added that the government will will strictly follow the reports and take necessary actions those who have circulated the report.

This comes as reports emerged during the recent days suggesting that the government is planning to block the applications due to the security concerns.

Full report at:

http://www.khaama.com/afghan-govt-rejects-it-plans-to-block-whatsapp-and-telegram-applications-03786

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Hezb-e-Islami to convene a large gathering in Kabul in coming days

Nov 06 2017

Hezb-e-Islami led by Gulbuddin Hekmatayr has informed regarding a large gathering to be convened in Kabul city in coming days.

Sources privy of the development have said the gathering will be organized in coming days with main focus being the ongoing situation of the country and the future role of the party in the domestic affairs of the country.

The sources further added that the gathering will be organized by the central council of the party, calling it one of the largest gatherings and a historic move by the party.

According to the sources, around three thousand people are expected to take part in the gathering to discuss the future role of the party and other issues of the national interest.

The sources also claim that the gathering will have a positive impact on the ongoing situation of the country but no further details have been given in this regard.

The leader of Hezb-e-Islami signed a peace accord with the Afghan government in September last year following months of negotiations.

Full report at:

http://www.khaama.com/hezb-e-islami-to-convene-a-large-gathering-in-kabul-in-coming-days-03785

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Pakistani consulate staffer killed in Afghanistan's Jalalabad

Nov 6, 2017

Unidentified assailants have shot dead an employee of the Pakistan consulate in the eastern Afghan province of Nangarhar, officials say.

The incident occurred in the eastern city of Jalalabad on Monday, when two gunmen riding a motorbike opened fire on Nayyar Iqbl Rana who had gone shopping without a security detail.

"When he went to the hospital he was pronounced dead," said Pakistan's ambassador to Afghanistan, Zahid Nasrullah, adding that he had "absolutely no idea" why Rana had been targeted.

The Pakistani diplomat worked in the visa section at the consulate and as an assistant to the consul general in Jalalabad, the capital of restive Nangarhar province, which borders Pakistan.

Nangarhar governor spokesman Attaullah Khogyani confirmed the deadly attack.

"Police have launched an investigation into the incident. No arrests have been made so far,” he said.

The motive behind the deadly assault was not immediately clear and no group or individual has so far claimed responsibility for the killing.

The incident comes a few months after two Pakistani diplomats working at the same consulate in Jalalabad were kidnapped and later freed.

Various Afghan militant groups have abducted or targeted Pakistani diplomats in the past.

Kabul and Islamabad regularly accuse each other of sheltering hostile militants and not doing enough to stop militants engaging in cross-border raids. Both sides, however, deny such an allegation.

Afghanistan has been gripped by insecurity since the United States and its allies invaded the country as part of Washington’s so-called war on terror in 2001. Many parts of the country remain plagued by militancy despite the presence of foreign troops.

During the past 16 years, Taliban militants have been conducting attacks across the country, killing and displacing civilians.

Full report at:

http://www.presstv.com/Detail/2017/11/06/541253/Pakistani-diplomat-Nayyar-Iqbl-Rana-Nangarhar-Jalalabad

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UN condemns violence in Myanmar forcing Rohingyas to flee

7 November 2017

UNITED NATIONS: The UN Security Council unanimously approved a statement Monday strongly condemning the violence that has caused more than 600,000 Rohingya Muslims to flee from Myanmar to Bangladesh, a significant step that still fell short of a stronger resolution that Western nations wanted but China opposed.

The presidential statement calls on Myanmar’s government “to ensure no further excessive use of military force in Rakhine State” and take immediate steps to respect human rights.

It expresses “grave concern” at reports of human rights violations in Rakhine by Myanmar’s security forces against the Rohingya. These include “the systematic use of force and intimidation, killing of men, women and children, sexual violence and ... the destruction and burning of homes and property,” it says.

Britain initially circulated a Security Council resolution with similar language, backed by the US, France and other council members. But resolutions are legally binding and diplomats said China, a neighbor and ally of Myanmar, was strongly opposed. China is one of the five countries that have veto power on the council.

So Britain and France turned the resolution into a presidential statement, which becomes part of the council’s record but does not have the legal clout of a resolution.

Nonetheless, the statement still represents the strongest council pronouncement on Myanmar in nearly 10 years, and reflects widespread international concern at the plight of the Rohingya, who face official and social discrimination in Buddhist-majority Myanmar.

French Ambassador Francois Delattre said the Security Council sent “a strong and unanimous message to end the ethnic cleansing that is taking place before our eyes in Myanmar and recreate the political momentum in this country.”

Britain’s deputy UN ambassador, Jonathan Allen, called it “a first step” and said the council will judge Myanmar “on how they act.”

Both Delattre and Allen decried the desperate humanitarian situation for the Rohingya, with the French ambassador calling it “one of the worst humanitarian crises of our time.”

The council statement “expresses alarm at the significantly and rapidly deteriorating humanitarian situation in Rakhine state” and demands that the government grant “immediate, safe and unhindered access to United Nations agencies and their partners” and other aid organizations.

On Oct. 27, the UN World Food Program said it had gotten a “green light” to resume full operations in northern Rakhine State and was working out the details.

But the agency’s executive director, David Beasley, said in an interview late Monday with The Associated Press that “we’re in the infant stages of negotiating working with the government of Myanmar to re-enter strategically where we need to be to help innocent people.”

“We’re hopeful the Myanmar government will give us the access we need,” said Beasley, who recently visited Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh. “That situation is catastrophic. ... I’ve never seen anything like it.”

Myanmar’s government doesn’t recognize the Rohingya as an ethnic group, insisting they are Bengali migrants from Bangladesh living illegally in the country. It has denied them citizenship.

The latest violence began with a series of attacks Aug. 25 by Rohingya insurgents, which the presidential statement also condemns.

Myanmar security forces responded with a scorched-earth campaign against Rohingya villages in northern Rakhine that the United Nations and human rights groups have criticized as disproportionate and a campaign of ethnic cleansing.

The statement adopted Monday calls on Myanmar’s government to protect human rights, “without discrimination and regardless of ethnicity or religion, including by allowing freedom of movement, equal access to basic services and equal access to full citizenship for all individuals.”

It urges the government to work with Bangladesh and the UN “to allow the voluntary return of all refugees in conditions of safety and dignity to their homes in Myanmar.”

It also stresses the importance of holding those responsible for human rights violations accountable.

Myanmar’s ambassador, Hau Do Suan, expressed deep concern at the statement, saying it was “based on accusations and falsely claimed evidence.”

“It exerts undue political pressure on Myanmar,” Suan said. “It fails to give sufficient recognition to the government of Myanmar for its efforts to address the challenges in Rakhine State.”

Full report at:

http://www.arabnews.com/node/1189481/world

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Southeast Asia

 

New course for Singapore Islamic teachers

Danson Cheong

Nov 7, 2017

The research and education arm of the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (Muis) has launched a new course that aims to help Islamic teachers read religious texts in the context of Singapore's multi-religious society. Titled Islam in Context, it will be offered by the Muis Academy from this month.

It is an abridged version of an existing course - Islamic Thought in Contemporary Plural Societies - offered by the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS).

Minister-in-charge of Muslim Affairs Yaacob Ibrahim announced this in Cairo on Sunday at a graduation ceremony for 26 Singaporean students at Egypt's renowned Al-Azhar University.

The new course will offer modules that deal with issues such as nurturing inclusiveness, and the need to contextualise Islamic traditions and how to apply them in Singapore's plural society. "We want our graduates to be kept abreast of current and emerging socio-religious trends and to equip them with tools to contextualise the knowledge acquired," said Dr Yaacob in a speech.

The four-week course will be a prerequisite for religious teachers to get accreditation under the compulsory Asatizah Recognition Scheme.

Dr Yaacob, who is Minister for Communications and Information, noted that Singapore is "faced with the triple threat - of extremist ideology, segregationist beliefs and practices, and Islamophobia", and strong religious leaders are needed.

These are asatizah "who possess an expansive worldview, who are able to hold their own against the varied demands of today, while holding strong to their Islamic tenets and beliefs", he said, adding it was critical that they also have the skills to share their knowledge on social media. They also cannot allow preachers with extremist ideologies to "hijack and tarnish the good name of Islam as the religion of peace".

"Instead, we must be confident as a Muslim and uphold the values and attributes of our Singapore Muslim identity, and the principles of multiracialism and meritocracy which are essential to our nation," he said.

Dr Yaacob also called on Al-Azhar president Mohamed Hossein Abdel Aziz El Mahrasawy and Grand Imam Ahmed Al-Tayyeb. He travels to Jordan this week, where he will visit higher learning institutions and meet Singaporean students.

http://www.straitstimes.com/world/middle-east/new-course-for-singapore-islamic-teachers

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Why terrorism breeds in Indonesian prisons

By Muh Taufiqurrohman And Muhammad Ali Usman And Ardi Putra

 NOVEMBER 6, 2017

In Indonesia, imprisonment has not stopped terrorist inmates associated with the Islamic State (IS) terrorist group from recruiting new members, directing terrorist activities and building militant networks outside the prison.

To prevent these activities, the Indonesian government through the National CounterTerrorism Agency (BNPT), the Directorate General of Correction (Dirjen LAPAS) and police anti-terror unit, Detachment 88 (Indonesia’s premier counter-terrorism agency), have taken various counter measures but these can be improved upon to achieve better results.

What are the factors that account for terrorist inmates’ ability to carry out various illegal activities within their prisons, and what can be done about this?

Based on our empirical observations of the prisons on Nusa Kambangan Island in Central Java where high-risk terrorists are detained, we argue that the lack of qualified prison staff and funds as well as prison mismanagement have allowed terrorist inmates to continue their subversive activities from the prisons.

PRO-IS INMATES

As of July 2017, there are 45 terrorist inmates incarcerated in Nusa Kambangan prisons. Fourteen of them are placed in Pasir Putih Prison, the maximum-security prison on the island. The other 15 are housed in Batu prison, and the rest are spread in Besi Prison (six inmates), Kembang Kuning Prison (six inmates) and Permisan Prison (four inmates).

Of these 45 inmates, at least 39 are pro-IS inmates. Among the pro-IS inmates, the high-profile militants include Aman Abdurrahman and Iwan Darmawan alias Rois who have directed pro-IS network and terrorist activities from their prison cells. When Aman Abdurrahman and Rois were detained in Kembang Kuning Prison in 2015, they directed the establishment of the militant group Jamaah Ansharul Khilafah Islamiyah (JAKI), which police and media now call Jamaah Ansharud Daulah (JAD).

Aman also directed Saiful Muhtorir alias Abu Ghar to establish a pro-IS group in the Moluccas. Rois not only funded JAKI’s national meeting in Malang (East Java) in November 2015, he also funded its military trainings in Malang and Cipanas (West Java) in December 2015.

In addition to that, he coordinated his men, Abu Ghar and Abu Asbal, to obtain weapons from Bandung gunsmiths for the January 2016 Jakarta attack. (It turned out that the gunsmiths did not manufacture the weapons they wanted.)

He also directed Suryadi Masud to smuggle weapons from the Philippines into Indonesia, and masterminded and funded the January 2016 Jakarta attack.

On February 9 2016, the Dirjen LAPAS transferred Aman and Rois to Pasir Putih Prison and placed them in solitary cells, after Detachment 88 discovered their involvement in the attack. However, both continued to direct their network outside the prison in two ways.

The first is through couriers and subordinates, namely Musolah and Dzulkifli Lubis. Musolah is a terrorist inmate involved in the 2011 Cirebon bombing, and Lubis is a terrorist inmate who sold weapons to Musolah.

Through Musolah and Lubis, both Aman and Rois advise their followers outside the prison, and receive messages from their followers. Aman and Rois write their messages on pieces of paper and send them to Musolah and Lubis by couriers. One of these couriers is a trusted senior non-terrorist inmate.

After receiving the messages, Musolah and Lubis would contact the families and followers of Aman and Rois outside the prison through phone calls or Telegram to deliver the messages. Their families and followers then respond to their messages using the same methods.

Musolah and Lubis then write down their messages on papers that they use to package food for Aman and Rois. The families of Aman and Rois also receive messages from both men when they visit them.

Both inmates write their messages on papers and hide these papers in their folded shirt sleeves. When they meet their visiting families, they secretly give these papers to them; the families in turn smuggle them out of the prison and convey these messages to the followers of Aman and Rois.

Two other notable detainees are Abdullah Sonata and Achmad Widodo alias Abu Hanifah, who unlike

Aman and Rois, have focused on recruiting new members in the prison. Usually, their targets are ordinary inmates with criminal backgrounds in search of redemption to atone for their past crimes.

Two cases in point are Herman and Muhammad Tata. Herman was recruited when he was imprisoned in Batu Prison for a drug-related offence. Both Herman and Tata were recruited in 2015. Tata was approached by Abdullah Sonata in common areas of Batu Prison such as visitor rooms and mosque.

In an effort to restrict Abdullah Sonata’s recruitment activities, Dirjen LAPAS transferred him from Batu Prison to Pasir Putih Prison on March 1. This was based on the recommendation from Detachment 88 and a Batu Prison warden.

On the same day, another terrorist inmate, Muhammad Ichwan alias Abu Umar, was also transferred to Pasir Putih Prison for his suspected recruitment activities in Batu Prison.

Just three months after his transfer, Abdullah Sonata managed to recruit Muhammad Tata to be his student and subordinate. One of Tata’s jobs is to record sermons given by Aman Abdurrahman and help distribute the recording to pro-IS extremists outside the prison through Telegram groups.

WHAT’S BEHIND IS RADICALISATION IN PRISON?

There are multiple factors that account for radicalisation in Nusa Kambangan prisons such as the lack of trained prison staff, insufficient operational funds and misplacement of terrorist inmates.

Furthermore, the prisons on the island are understaffed and overworked, with only one prison guard watching over 60 inmates comprising both terrorists and criminals. Consequently, the prison authorities are unable to monitor the activities of every terrorist inmate efficiently.

Additionally, the majority of prison staffers do not have adequate knowledge of extremism and terrorism. As such, they have no knowledge of how to counter IS propaganda in their prisons. Fear of losing their lives adds to their problems.

They are bullied and threatened on a daily basis by IS inmates who call them apostates and worthy to be killed.

The number of Detachment 88 officers working in the prisons is also small. There are only two officers responsible for managing visits of terrorist inmates, recruiting informants from among the inmates and deradicalising them.

Yet, they are required to help other officers to conduct surveillance on terrorists operating around the island. For these reasons, they do not have enough time to watch the inmates in each prison daily.

Shortage of funds also hinders Detachment 88’s efforts in recruiting more informants, and limits them in rewarding inmates who are cooperative. This discourages the inmates from giving intelligence tip offs to the officers or participating in the officers’ deradicalisation programme.

Each month the officers only receive around US$300. In contrast, they need at least US$2,400 per month to recruit informants and de-radicalise 40 terrorist inmates.

Keeping terrorist and criminal inmates in the same prison cells and lax security measures have facilitated radicalisation and hampered deradicalisation of low-ranking terrorist inmates (the “foot-soldiers”).

Non-terrorist inmates, even in the high security Pasir Putih Prison, are able to mingle with terrorist inmates. Recruiters such as Abdullah Sonata and Abu Hanifah have taken advantage of this.

They hold at least weekly religious study groups in which they spread their extremist views to non-terrorist inmates.

“High-ranking” terrorist inmates (they include the ideologues and commanders) stay in the same block as “low-ranking” terrorist inmates.

The “high-ranking” inmates do not cooperate with prison staff and Detachment officers because they do not want to be seen as weak by “low-ranking” inmates. On the other hand, the latter do not want to cooperate with the staff and officers because they fear punishment from their senior inmates.

URGENT REFORMS NEEDED

The less than satisfactory situation in Nusa Kambangan prison complex requires urgent attention.

First, the Indonesian government should build a separate prison facility for terrorist inmates. All hardcore terrorist inmates should be placed in solitary confinement, and only allowed to interact with their visiting families, de-radicalisation officers and prison guards.

After they have been de-radicalised, they should be moved to shared cells ahead of their release. BNPT has a prison in Sentul, Bogor that suits this purpose. The Dirjen LAPAS and BNPT need to build such a prison on Nusa Kambangan or outside Java.

Papua is a good location for the prison. Its long distance from Jakarta will limit the inmates access to their followers. Dirjen LAPAS however is planning to place all terrorist inmates in Nusa Kambangan Pasir Putih Prison.

Secondly, the government should employ qualified religious counsellors in each prison permanently. Working with former jihadists, these counsellors will discuss religious topics with the inmates to counter extremist teachings at least on a weekly basis.

The discussions should be on a one-on-one basis, and not held in a big group to avoid peer pressure and grandstanding among the inmates.

Finally, Dirjen LAPAS need to recruit more prison guards to work in Nusa Kambangan prisons. These guards should be trained in counter-terrorism and counter-extremism so that they know how to handle terrorist inmates.

Police also need to place more Detachment 88 officers, both for improving their intelligence gathering and deradicalisation efforts. More funds should also be earmarked to enable these officers to recruit more informants and step up their deradicalisation efforts.

The majority of the terrorist inmates in Nusa Kambangan prison support IS. Their incarceration does not stop them from conducting terrorist-related activities.

It is imperative for the Indonesian government to solve the problem of prison radicalisation by placing terrorist inmates in a special prison or solitary confinements, employing full-time religious counsellors, recruiting more qualified prison guards and more Detachment 88 officers, and increasing the prison’s operational budget.

ABOUT THE AUTHORS:

Muh Taufiqurrohman is a senior researcher at the Centre for Radicalism and Deradicalisation Studies based in Central Java. Muhammad Ali Usman is a researcher at the Institute of Southeast Asian Islam - UIN Sunan Kalijaga (Indonesia).

Full report at:

http://www.todayonline.com/world/why-terrorism-breeds-indonesian-prisons

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Application filed to attach 5 properties of Zakir Naik in Mumbai

November 7, 2017

KUALA LUMPUR: India’s National Investigation Agency (NIA) has filed an application in a special court in Mumbai for permission to attach five properties belonging to controversial preacher Zakir Naik.

The Indian Express reported that the attachments of the five apartments was aimed at getting Naik, who has absconded, to attend court. Naik has filed a challenge to this application.

One of the five properties belongs to Naik while four others are co-owned by him. The properties are two apartments in Maria Heights, two in Jasmine Apartments and one in Crystal Residency, all in Mazgaon, South Mumbai.

The Indian Express quoted an NIA official as saying that since Naik had fled the country and had been declared a “proclaimed offender”, the attachment was aimed at seeking his presence before the court.

A charge was filed against Naik, his trust the Islamic Research Foundation (IRF), and Harmony Media Private Limited, a company linked to him, on October 26.

The NIA charged Naik with criminal conspiracy, promoting enmity, and being a member of an unlawful association.

Naik, who was given permanent resident status by the Malaysian government five years ago, is often in and out of Malaysia. The report said he was believed to be currently in Saudi Arabia.

Naik has consistently maintained his innocence.

The NIA also said it was investigating the sources of wealth of Naik, including a “huge quantity” of cash generated by entities and individuals connected to him. This includes 19 immovable properties worth Rs 104 crores (RM68 million).

The Indian Express reported that Naik, through his advocate Amin Solkar, had filed a reply to the NIA’s application stating that the plea was “misconceived, premature” and thus not maintainable.

It further said that the NIA had not complied with the provisions of the Criminal Procedure Code, and claimed that the proclamation order passed in June by the court was “null and void”.

Full report at:

http://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/nation/2017/11/07/application-filed-to-attach-5-properties-of-zakir-naik-in-mumbai/

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Islamic State lurks in Philippine shadows

By BONG S SARMIENTO

NOVEMBER 7, 2017

While one terror battle has ended, the next one looms in the shadows on the southern Philippine island of Mindanao.

Five months after the Islamic State-aligned Maute Group laid destructive siege to the southern city of Marawi, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana announced on October 23 the end of government operations to liberate the city from the militants.

“The Philippine security forces, aided by its government and massive support of the Filipino people, have nipped the budding terrorism infrastructure and defeated terrorism in the Philippines,” he said.

At the same time, Lorenzana acknowledged that the tactical triumph in Marawi will not eliminate Islamic State’s ideology in the Philippines, and called for stronger regional cooperation to fight the rising threat the terror group poses to Southeast Asia as fighters return home from the battlefields of Iraq and Syria.

The call comes ahead of this week’s Association of Southeast Asian Nations summit in Manila, where global leaders will be in attendance. Security forces have amped up their vigilance against a possible Islamic State-inspired retaliatory attack on the global meeting.

A day before President Rodrigo Duterte announced the liberation of Marawi, troops killed Isnilon Hapilon, Islamic State’s designated emir in Southeast Asia and leader of the local Abu Sayyaf militant group, and Omar Maute, one of the two Maute brothers who led the months-long siege.

Hapilon’s presumed deputy, Malaysian Mahmud Ahmad, and Omar’s militant brother, Omarkhayan Maute, are also believed to have been killed in the Marawi fighting.

Yet regional security analysts have warned Philippine security officials to remain on high alert in the aftermath of the siege, from which hundreds of thousands of displaced civilians are slowly starting to return from evacuation centers to their ruined lakeside city.

“The death of Hapilon and Omar Maute will definitely create a tactical setback for pro-Islamic State groups in Mindanao,” said Rommel Banlaoi, chairman of the Manila-based Philippine Institute for Peace, Violence and Terrorism Research, a think tank. “But this will not mean the end of violence in the southern Philippines and beyond.”

Lorenzana told media that his forces are still looking for Malaysian militant Amin Baco, who he described as Islamic State’s likely new designated emir in the region.

Baco, linked with regional terror group Jemaah Islamiyah, is known to be an expert bomb-maker who reportedly trained under Malaysian militant Zulkifli bin Hir, alias Marwan, who was killed in Maguindanao province in 2015 in a fierce firefight that left 44 Philippine police commandoes dead.

Reuters quoted an anonymous army colonel as saying Baco could be hiding in Maguindanao or the southern island of Jolo. While his links to Islamic State were until now not known to be particularly strong, the official said he was well-placed to serve the emir role due to his familiarity with local extremist groups.

Analysts say attacks could also be organized by Puruji Indama, an Abu Sayyaf chieftain based in the island province of Basilan who formed the Abu Dujana Battalion of the Soldiers of the Caliphate in East Asia.

Banlaoi anticipates possible new attacks from Naim Mujahid’s Ansar Khilafa Philippines militant group which has pledged allegiance to Islamic State. Formed in 2014, the group is based in Sarangani province near General Santos City, a backdoor entry point to the Philippines from Indonesia’s Sulawesi and Kalimantan provinces where Islamic militancy has long thrived.

Mujahid has strong links with Mahmoud Ahmad, the Malaysian academic who helped to fund and fought alongside the Maute Group in Marawi. The military has claimed to have killed Mahmoud, who is believed to have been operating in Mindanao since 2014, but his death has still not been independently verified.

Banlaoi also points to the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF), a militant group that broke away from the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) for making peace with the government, as another dangerous pro-Islamic State group capable of stirring chaos in Mindanao.

The BIFF operates in Maguindanao province, scene of deadly clashes between MILF and government forces until a peace deal was forged in 2014. In the months that war raged in Marawi, MILF forces launched separate offensives against the BIFF to help the government fight the spread of Islamic State ideology in the region.

Cotabato City, the seat of government of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) that is surrounded by Maguindanao province, has been placed on high alert since the Marawi crisis for possible spillover effects of the fighting.

A dozen or so young men previously brazenly paraded in the streets of Cotabato with a black Islamic State flag, raising the specter that a locality where a Philippine marine battalion is stationed could be the next flashpoint for a Marawi-style attack, particularly with the BIFF’s presence in nearby Maguindanao.

The Marawi siege laid bare the Philippine military’s lacking urban warfare capabilities and brought to fore the international connections of local Islamic State-aligned groups with foreign fighters, mostly Indonesians and Malaysians, but also from Arab countries.

Amid fears of a next assault or spectacular attack on a symbolic target, the military has belittled the capabilities of the other Islamic State-aligned groups to do so. The Marawi siege took careful planning and huge financial support for firearms, ammunition and food supplies for the hundreds of fighters.

Of the more than 1,100 people killed in the Marawi siege, 920 were militants, 165 were government troops and 47 were civilians, the Philippine military said. But “the risks won’t end when the military declares victory (in Marawi),” said Sidney Jones, director of the Jakarta-based Institute for Policy Analysis of Conflict (IPAC).

“Indonesia and Malaysia will face new threats in the form of returning fighters from Mindanao, and the Philippines will have a host of smaller dispersed cells with the capacity for both violence and indoctrination,” she added.

It’s not clear if foreign nationals involved in the Marawi siege have fled the Philippines or are in hiding. This month Philippine forces captured Indonesian Mohamadin Ilham Syaputra, one of the last holdouts in Marawi, who has reportedly admitted a role in the 2016 bombing in Jakarta that killed eight people. Islamic State claimed responsibility for that attack.

In October 2016, IPAC released a study entitled “Pro-ISIS Groups in Mindanao and their links to Indonesia and Malaysia,” which warned of an impending attack in the island.

Support for Islamic State ideology “has facilitated cooperation across clan and ethnic lines, widened the extremist recruitment pool to include computer-savvy university students and new international communication and possibly funding channels,” the report said. “It means that more deadly violence in the Philippines involving alliances of pro-ISIS groups is a matter of when, not if.”

The study mentioned the slain Hapilon and Omar Maute – personalities who eventually figured prominently in the Marawi siege that erupted seven months after IPAC released its research. Philippine intelligence has since come under fire for not foreseeing and preventing Marawi’s occupation and subsequent destruction. Officials have said they will need at least US$1 billion for reconstruction and rehabilitation.

On October 4, Omar Maute’s Indonesian wife, Minhati Midrais, alias Baby, was arrested in Iligan City. Police claimed to have found bomb-making materials in her rented house. They say they have investigated her cell phone to ferret out militant connections and forestall future Islamic State inspired attacks.

Full report at:

http://www.atimes.com/article/islamic-state-lurks-philippine-shadows/

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Philippines hunts for possible new Islamic State ’emir’ in South East Asia

November 6, 2017

Philippine authorities were on the lookout on Monday for a Malaysian who could be the new leader of pro-Islamic State groups in Southeast Asia, security chiefs said, following the deaths of several high-profile regional extremists. The army terminated combat operations in southern Marawi two weeks ago after killing what it believed were the last remnants of a rebel alliance that held parts of the lakeside city for five months.

Following the country’s biggest security crisis in decades, troops have made significant gains in the week since they killed Isnilon Hapilon, a leader of the Abu Sayyaf group and anointed “emir” of Islamic State in Southeast Asia.

His assumed deputy, Malaysian Mahmud Ahmad, was also believe killed, as was Omarkhayan Maute, a top operative in the alliance.

“We are still looking for Amin Baco,” Defence Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said, describing the Malaysian as the likely new “successor as the emir of those terrorists”.

More than 1,100 people – mostly militants – were killed and 350,000 displaced by the Marawi unrest, a crisis that shocked predominantly Catholic Philippines and led to unease about Islamic State gaining traction in Muslim parts of the island of Mindanao.

Police chief Ronaldo dela Rosa said he received similar information that Baco, an expert bomb-maker, had assumed the role of Islamic State’s point man.

Experts say Baco was trained under Malaysian militant Zulkifli bin Hir, alias Marwan, who was killed in 2015 in a clash in marshlands in Maguindanao province that left 44 police commandoes dead.

The information that Baco could be in charge came from an Indonesian arrested in Marawi last week, dela Rosa said.

Despite declaring the end of operations, troops are still fighting some hold-outs hiding amid the ruins of a city battered by months of air strikes. Troops have since killed nine gunmen in Marawi, Colonel Romeo Brawner said on Monday, emphasizing why residents were being kept out of the pulverised battle zone.

Baco was reported to have been killed in Marawi but intelligence sources said he had fled.

“He could be somewhere on Jolo island or in nearby Maguindanao,” an army colonel familiar with Islamist militant groups in Mindanao, told Reuters.

He said Baco had been in the Philippines for a long time and had links with regional extremist group Jemaah Islamiah. He was married to a daughter of a local militant sub-leader.

Full report at:

http://indianexpress.com/article/world/philippines-hunts-for-possible-new-islamic-state-emir-in-south-east-asia/

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Penang surau shelters non-Muslims to save lives

November 7, 2017

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 7 ― A surau provided shelter for about 70 non-Muslim flood victims in Penang despite criticism from some Muslims.

Harian Metro reported yesterday that the Taman Free School surau in George Town has been providing shelter for non-Muslim flood victims, since floods submerged at least 80 per cent of the Penang island following continuous rain and storm over the weekend. “I do not care what people say, what is important is that their lives can be saved,” Taman Free School surau chief Sapno Tukijo reportedly said.

About 70 Chinese and Indian residents from villages near Lengkuk P. Ramlee were housed at the surau, he said.

Sapno said that he was aware of criticisms regarding his decision to provide shelter to non-Muslims but said that he would feel “more guilty” if he saw people having “nowhere to go” during the floods.

He also reportedly said the flood victims had initially wanted to seek shelter at a temple and were hesitant about going to the surau out of “respect”. But the waters were too fast and had reached chest level, leading him to invite them to the surau.

“They finally gave in and took shelter at this surau. In fact, some were shirtless because they just came out in whatever they were dressed in.”

Penang assistant adviser on Islamic matters Wan Ji Wan Hussin backed the surau’s move and also criticised those who were condemning the fact that non-Muslims were allowed to use a Muslim place of worship.

“Islam as friendly, peaceful and harmonious is the approach taken by Penang people. We ask that any action that can bring enmity among the people not be brought to Penang,” the Muslim preacher said in a Facebook post.

However, controversial preacher Zamihan Mat Zin, who recently was subjected to royal ire for remarks made about Chinese people during a religious talk, in his own Facebook post, criticised the surau’s move.

After citing several religious scholars, Zamihan concluded that the Penang flood situation should not be categorised as an “emergency” in order to give shelter for non-Muslims.

Full report at:

http://www.themalaymailonline.com/malaysia/article/penang-surau-shelters-non-muslims-to-save-lives#BB5CHkYkbbgqT447.97

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Mideast

 

Netanyahu To Islamic Jihad On Returning Terrorists' Bodies: No Free Gifts

NOVEMBER 6, 2017

Israel has no intention of freely handing over the five bodies of Islamic Jihadist terrorists killed last week when the IDF exploded a tunnel they had built into Israel under the Gaza border.

“We plan to return our sons home. There are no free gifts,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Monday in a brief statement he delivered in Migdal Ha-Emek.

He did not specify the Islamic Jihad as the target of his remarks or mention the tunnel incident. Still, his statement appeared to hint at the terms for a swap of the terrorist bodies for Israelis held in Gaza.

This includes the remains of two soldiers held in Gaza: Hadar Goldin and Oron Shaul both of whom are presumed to have been killed during the 2014 war. In addition there are three Israelis suffering from mental illness who are believed to be held captive in Gaza: Avera Mengistu, 30, Hisham al-Sayed, 29, and Jumaa Abu Ghanima, 19.

The prime minister spoke less than a day after returning from London, where he hammered home the message that Israel plans to defend itself from its enemies.

“This government has two clear missions; to build the country and to defend it,” Netanyahu said.

He continued, “We plan to defend it based on clear rules; those who attack us, will be attacked."

At his faction meeting in the Knesset later in the day, Finance Minster Moshe Kahlon (Kulanu) lauded Netanyahu’s decision not to return the bodies and promised that resources would be available to protect the citizens of Israel from attack including on the Gaza border.

"As long as we have soldiers and civilians inside the Gaza Strip, we cannot afford to conduct ourselves as usual,” Kahlon said.

Earlier in the day Labor party head Avi Gabby had urged Netanyahu to take this step.

Twelve terrorists were killed when the IDF blew up the tunnel, but on Sunday, the IDF announced that it held the remains of five of the bodies.

http://www.jpost.com/Arab-Israeli-Conflict/Netanyahu-to-Islamic-Jihad-on-returning-terrorists-bodies-No-free-gifts-513487

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Yemen hostage crisis claimed by IS ends with 35 dead

November 07, 2017

ADEN - Yemeni forces ended a hostage crisis Monday with 29 police and six civilians dead , a day after the attack claimed by the Islamic State group began with suicide bombings, official sources said.

Assailants on Sunday stormed the criminal investigations unit in Aden, the Yemeni government’s de facto capital, setting it alight and taking hostages after killing two policewomen execution-style.

The attack began on Sunday, when two suicide bombers blew themselves up at the entrances to the criminal investigations unit and the city’s security headquarters. Overnight, the security forces tried three times to seize back the unit, but each time a suicide bomber blew himself up, stopping them from entering, a security official said.

A fourth suicide bombing occurred on Monday morning, before the security forces finally brought an end to the standoff in the southern port city.

A total of 29 members of the security forces were killed during the attack and hostage crisis , the official said.

Among them were six police officers whose bodies were found buried under the rubble of the building along with six civilians, including two children.

“The security forces have managed to enter the building and clear it of the elements of evil and terrorism,” said the interior ministry of President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi’s internationally recognised government. The bullet-riddled bodies of three assailants were also found in the rubble, the security official said.

The attack was claimed by IS in a statement released online on Sunday.

IS and its extremist rival Al-Qaeda have taken advantage of the war between the Saudi-backed government and Shia Huthi rebels allied with Iran to bolster their presence across much of south Yemen .

The Hadi government has been based in Aden since the Huthis drove it out of the capital Sanaa in 2014.

Full report at:

http://nation.com.pk/07-Nov-2017/yemen-hostage-crisis-claimed-by-is-ends-with-35-dead

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US, Turkey resume limited mutual visa services

November 07, 2017

ANKARA - The US and Turkey said on Monday they resumed limited mutual visa services following an almost month-long suspension in a diplomatic row between the two NATO allies ahead of the Turkish premier’s visit to Washington.

The US decision to stop handing out visas took effect from October 8 and was followed by a tit-for-tat move by Turkey to stop giving Turkish visas to Americans.

Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim will go to the US on Tuesday November 7 for a visit until November 10, during which he is due to hold talks with US Vice President Mike Pence.

The US embassy suspended visa services after one of the Istanbul consulate’s Turkish staffers was arrested, saying it needed to carry out a security assessment.

The employee was accused of having links to the group of US-based preacher Fethullah Gulen, blamed by Ankara for last year’s failed coup against President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The employee remains in jail.

Metin Topuz was formally charged with espionage and seeking to overthrow the Turkish government last month, accusations the US embassy in Ankara said at the time were “wholly without merit”.

But the embassy on Monday said it had received “initial high-level assurances” from Turkey that “no additional local employees of our mission in Turkey (are) under investigation”.

It added that there were also assurances that local staff would not be “detained or arrested for performing their official duties”.

The Turkish embassy in Washington only said on its official Twitter account it was resuming visa services on a “limited basis” in the US .

Among the several Americans arrested in Turkey is pastor Andrew Brunson, who ran a church in the western city of Izmir. He has been held in Turkey since October 2016 on charges of being a member of Gulen’s group.

In March, a Turkish employee at the US consulate in the southern city of Adana was arrested on charges of supporting the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

The US embassy said Turkish authorities indicated they would inform the US government in advance if they intended to detain or arrest a local employee in the future.

“We continue to have serious concerns about the existing cases against arrested local employees of our mission in Turkey . We are also concerned about the cases against US citizens who have been arrested under the state of emergency,” the embassy said.

Since last July’s coup bid, over 50,000 people have been arrested accused of links to Gulen and his movement under the state of emergency imposed in July 2016.

The mutual halt in the issuing of visas had become the most painful symbol of an increasingly troubled relationship between Washington and Ankara.

Turkey has pressed Washington for the extradition of the Pennsylvania-based Gulen, who denies any link to the coup bid.

The lack of movement on the issue has further strained ties already frayed over Washington’s support for a Syrian Kurdish militia that Ankara considers a terror group.

Ankara is also angry over the arrest in the US of Mehmet Hakan Atilla, deputy chief executive at state lender Halkbank, and the Iranian-Turkish businessman Reza Zarrab.

Their trial is scheduled to start on November 27.

Meanwhile, members of Erdogan’s security detail were indicted by US authorities after clashes with protesters during an official White House visit in May, infuriating the Turkish president.

Full report at:

http://nation.com.pk/07-Nov-2017/us-turkey-resume-limited-mutual-visa-services

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Erdogan to visit Russia, Kuwait on November 13, 14

November 06, 2017

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan will visit Russia’s Sochi on November 13, followed by a visit to Kuwait the following day, his office said on Monday.

The visit to Sochi comes amid reports of potential sticking points in Turkey’s planned purchase of a Russian S-400 surface-to-air missile system, and Turkish objections to the attendance of Syrian Kurdish groups to a Russian-sponsored Syrian peace congress scheduled for Nov 18.

Last week, the two countries took a step toward the solution of an import crisis as Russia lifted restrictions on import of Turkish tomatoes.

http://nation.com.pk/06-Nov-2017/erdogan-to-visit-russia-kuwait-on-november-13-14

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Donald Trump extends 36-year state of emergency with Iran

7 November 2017

US President Donald Trump notified Congress on Monday that he was extending the national emergency with Iran that has been in place since the 1979 hostage crisis.

“Our relations with Iran have not yet normalized, and the process of implementing the agreements with Iran, dated January 19, 1981, is ongoing,” Trump wrote Congress in the formal notice.

The Trump administration has vowed to confront Iran much more aggressively in the region, where it shares the Saudi view that Tehran is fomenting instability via a number of proxies in Lebanon, Syria and Yemen among other countries. Tehran denies the allegations.

Last month, Trump decertified the Iran nuclear deal brokered by the Obama administration, leaving it to Congress to decide whether to reimpose sanctions.

Events in Saudi Arabia in recent days appeared to open the prospect for a sharper confrontation with Iran and its proxies.

Saudi Arabia accused Lebanon on Monday of declaring war against it because of what it called aggression by the Iran-backed Lebanese Shiite group Hezbollah.

Saudi-allied Lebanese politician Saad al-Hariri quit as prime minister on Saturday, announcing his resignation from Riyadh and blaming Iran and Hezbollah in his resignation speech.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2017/11/07/Donald-Trump-extends-36-year-state-of-emergency-with-Iran.html

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British envoy: We are fully aware of Iran’s negative role in Yemen

7 November 2017

The British ambassador to Yemen said on Tuesday that the United Kingdom and the international community are fully aware of the seriousness of the negative role of Iran in Yemen.

Simon Shercliff stressed on the need to put an end to Iran's intervention and support for Houthi militias and fighters allied to ousted President Ali Abdallah Saleh.

His statement came during a meeting with Yemeni Prime Minister Ahmed Obaid bin Dajar.

For his part, the Yemeni Prime Minister called on the international community to halt Iran’s interventions in Yemen, and stop supplying weapons to the militias to prolong the war, adding that the launch of a Houthi missile towards Riyadh airport on Friday reveals that they truly supported by Tehran.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/gulf/2017/11/07/British-ambassador-to-Yemen-We-are-aware-of-Iran-s-negative-role-.html

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US praises Saudi Arabia for exposing Iran’s role in Yemen

7 November 2017

The United States on Monday praised Saudi Arabia for “exposing” Iran’s role in Yemen and Tehran’s provision of missile systems to Houthi militia fighting there, following the interception of a missile fired towards the Saudi capital Riyadh on Saturday.

“We continue to maintain strong defense ties with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and work together on common security priorities to include combat operations against violent extremist organizations, and neutralizing Iran’s destabilizing influence in the Middle East region,” said Pentagon spokesman Marine Major Adrian Rankine-Galloway.

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/gulf/2017/11/07/US-praises-Saudi-Arabia-for-exposing-Iran-s-role-in-Yemen.html

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Riyadh’s actions will isolate it from Muslim world: Velayati

Nov 7, 2017

A high-ranking Iranian official has said that Saudi Arabia’s plots and conspiracies throughout the Arab and Muslim world will eventually result in the kingdom’s isolation.

Ali Akbar Velayati, a senior advisor to Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei, made the remarks following a meeting with Syrian Prime Minister Imad Khamis in Damascus on Monday.

“Every day Saudi Arabia is creating plots and conspiracies somewhere in the Arab or Muslim world. These actions will eventually result in the isolation from the Muslim and Arab worlds,” he said.    

Velayati’s remarks come shortly after Saudi Arabia ramped up its threats against Iran, saying there will be a response "in the appropriate time and manner," following a missile strike from neighboring Yemen.

The senior advisor added that it would be better if the Saudi government thought more about what would benefit their own country instead of interfering with other nations' affairs.

He also noted that relations between Iran and Syria are deeply rooted in history, and that Tehran has high hopes for furthering these ties. “We have common enemies and we stand together in the battle against terrorism,” he added.

Earlier in the day, following a meeting with Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Muallem, Velayati stressed that Iran and Syria have “fundamental” commonalities vis-à-vis the resistance front and share the objective of safeguarding it in the Middle East.

Syria has been gripped by foreign-backed militancy since March 2011. The Syrian government says the Israeli regime and its Western and regional allies are aiding Takfiri terrorist groups that are wreaking havoc in the country.

Full report at:

http://www.presstv.com/Detail/2017/11/07/541265/iran-saudi-leader-velayati-yemen-isolation-missile

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Terrorism, sectarianism main issues in Muslim world: Rouhani

Nov 6, 2017

Iran's President Hassan Rouhani says terrorism as well as sectarian and ethnic rifts are the two main issues afflicting the Muslim world, blaming some world powers for creating and spreading such divisions.

“[These] powers are not interested in unity and brotherly [ties] among Muslims, because if such unity and brotherhood is promoted, Muslim countries will undoubtedly be able to solve their problems without the involvement of others,” Rouhani said in a meeting with Pakistan’s Chief of Army Staff Qamar Javed Bajwa in Tehran on Monday.

He added that Iran-Pakistan cooperation could prepare the ground for reinforcing unity among Muslim countries.

“Our goal is to strengthen relationships among Muslim countries and there is no doubt that differences among Muslim countries can be settled through dialogue,” the Iranian chief executive pointed out.

Rouhani also welcomed the expansion of defense and military cooperation between Tehran and Islamabad in order to boost regional stability and security, saying that the Islamic Republic was determined to have cordial and strong relations with neighboring countries, including Pakistan.

Pakistan keen to boost defense, military ties with Iran: Bajwa

The Pakistani chief of army staff, for his part, commended deep-rooted mutual relations between Tehran and Islamabad and said his country was keen to improve defense and military ties with Iran in parallel with political and economic cooperation.

Bajwa added that divisions among Muslim countries must be settled through dialogue and emphasized that Western countries must not be allowed to foment discord with the purpose of selling arms to regional countries.

The Pakistani chief of army staff is in Tehran at the head of a delegation of high-ranking military officials. He has also held talks with Chairman of the Chiefs of Staff of the Iranian Armed Forces Major General Mohammad Baqeri and Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif.

Full report at:

http://www.presstv.com/Detail/2017/11/06/541247/Iran-Pakistan-President-Hassan-Rouhani-Chief-of-Army-Staff-Qamar-Javed-Bajwa-terrorism-sectarianism

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Iran, Syria seek to safeguard resistance front, fight Zionism: Velayati

Nov 6, 2017

A senior Iranian official says Iran and Syria have “fundamental” commonalities vis-à-vis the resistance front and share the objective of safeguarding it in the Middle East.

“Iran and Syria aim to maintain the resistance front in the region and stand up against Zionism and its allies,” Ali Akbar Velayati, a senior advisor to Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei, told reporters following a meeting with Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Muallem in Damascus on Monday.

Velayati added that all-out cooperation between Tehran and Damascus had protected Syria in the face of foreign aggression, saying, “The Americans and Zionists have understood that what they had sought to impose on the Syrian government and nation was nothing but an illusion.”

Velayati emphasized that Iran and Syria have always interacted with each other and improved their coordination.

Iran-Syria relations strategic: Muallem

The Syrian foreign minister, for his part, said his country had strategic relations with Iran in all fields.

Muallem added that Iran was a partner to the victories of the Syrian army and people in the fight against Daesh terrorists.

Daesh has recently retreated from much of the territory under its control amid sweeping advances by Syrian soldiers and allied fighters on the battlefield.

Syria has been gripped by foreign-backed militancy since March 2011. The Syrian government says the Israeli regime and its Western and regional allies are aiding Takfiri terrorist groups that are wreaking havoc in the country.

Full report at:

http://www.presstv.com/Detail/2017/11/06/541211/Iran-Syria-Ali-Akbar-Velayati-advisor-Foreign-Minister-Walid-alMuallem-resistance-Zionism

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UN: Saudi blockade hindering aid delivery to starving Yemenis

Nov 7, 2017

The United Nations has said that Saudi Arabia’s decision to shut down Yemen’s air, sea and land borders has prevented the UN from sending aid to the war-torn country.

"There were no flight clearances granted to our flights today…We expected to have two flights going and those are on hold for now," said UN spokesman Farhan Haq on Monday.

He added that UN officials are currently trying to persuade the Saudis to permit aid delivery to Yemen, where some seven million people are suffering from severe malnutrition.

On Sunday, the kingdom announced that it is shutting down all Yemen’s air, sea, and land border, after Yemen targeted an international airport near the Saudi capital.

The Yemeni army on Sunday, said that it had targeted Saudi Arabia’s King Khalid International Airport in Riyadh with a long distance Borkan H2 ballistic missile.

Riyadh also put some 40 high-ranking Ansarullah movement officials on a terrorists' list.

Saudi Arabia has been incessantly pounding Yemen since March 2015 in an attempt to crush the popular Houthi Ansarullah movement and reinstate former president Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, who is a staunch ally of the Riyadh regime.

More than 12,000 people have been killed since the onset of the campaign more than two and a half years ago. Much of the Arabian Peninsula country's infrastructure, including hospitals, schools and factories, has been reduced to rubble due to the war.

Another 2,100 people have died of cholera since April as hospitals struggle to secure basic supplies across the country.

Full report at:

http://www.presstv.com/Detail/2017/11/07/541261/yemen-saudi-arabia-missile-airport-un-aid

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Yemen cancels all flights due to Saudi blockade of impoverished country

Nov 6, 2017

All flights to and from the war-torn Yemen have been canceled after the Saudi Arabia-led military coalition, which has been pounding the impoverished country for over two and a half years, announced the closure of all land, air and sea ports in Yemen.

Yemenia, the flag carrier airline of Yemen, announced the decision on Monday, saying the Saudi-led coalition had denied permission to fly out of the remaining two functional airports of the country, located in the cities of Aden, in the southwestern province of Aden and Say'un, in the central province of Hadhramaut.

Both cities are situated in areas that are under the control of coalition allies, which are also loyal to Yemen’s former president Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, a staunch ally of the Riyadh regime. Yemen’s main international airport in capital Sana’a has also been shut down since August 2016 by order of the coalition.

The development came shortly after Saudi-led coalition announced that it had “decided to temporarily close all Yemeni air, sea and land ports.” Riyadh's move came after Yemeni forces, backed by popular Houthi Ansarullah fighters, launched a missile, a Borkan H2 long-range missile, at King Khalid International Airport in northeastern Riyadh late on Saturday.

Saudi military authorities say the missile was fired at an international airport by Houthi fighters, who are on the forefront of fighting against the Saudi war machine since 2015, but was intercepted.

“Shattered fragments from the intercepted missile landed in an uninhabited area of the airport and there were no injuries,” said a spokesman for the Saudi-led coalition waging war against Yemen at the time.     

The Houthi forces have launched a number of long-range missiles across the border in recent years. However, Saturday's strike appeared to be the deepest yet within Saudi territory.

Saudi-led coalition further alleged that Iran had been behind the strike through its support of Houthis, saying it could be “considered as an act of war.” Iran was quick in dismissing Saudis’ allegations as a “lie”, saying Riyadh was resorting to “destructive, irresponsible, provocative and baseless” allegations after failing to achieve its “ominous aims” in Yemen.

Colonel Aziz Rashed, a spokesman for the Yemeni army, said in a statement early on Sunday that the missile was launched in retaliation for the “massacres committed by the US-Saudi coalition in Yemen.” 

Since March 2015, the Saudi regime has been heavily bombarding Yemen as part of a brutal campaign against its impoverished southern neighbor in an attempt to reinstall Hadi and crush the Houthi Ansarullah movement, which is in control of large parts of Yemen, including the capital. The Saudi campaign, however, has failed to achieve its goals.

Over the past two years, Houthis have been running state affairs and defending Yemeni people against the Saudi aggression.

Latest figures show that the war has so far killed over 12,000 Yemenis and wounded thousands more. The Saudi aggression has also taken a heavy toll on the country's facilities and infrastructure, destroying many hospitals, schools, and factories.

Certain Arab countries, including the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Bahrain, are key partners to the campaign, which lacks any international mandate and has faced increasing criticism.

Full report at:

http://www.presstv.com/Detail/2017/11/06/541215/Yemen-S-Arabia-war-airport-Yemenia-Hadi-Aden-blockade

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Netanyahu signals Gaza militant bodies to be bargaining chips

7 November 2017

JERUSALEM: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu signalled Monday Israel would use the bodies of Palestinian militants as bargaining chips to retrieve the remains of soldiers believed held by Gaza’s Hamas rulers.

Israel blew up a tunnel stretching from the Gaza Strip into its territory last week, leaving at least 12 militants dead. On Sunday, Israel announced they were in possession of the bodies of five of them, members of the Islamic Jihad.

Speaking at a ceremony in northern Israel on Monday, Netanyahu indicated Israel would seek to use the five bodies as part of a deal to receive the remains of two Israeli soldiers.

“We have a simple rule: Whoever attacks us, we attack them. Secondly, we don’t give free gifts,” Netanyahu said in remarks relayed by his office.

“We’ll bring our sons back home. There are no free gifts.”

The remains of the Israeli soldiers, killed in the 2014 Gaza war, are thought to still be in the coastal territory.

Two Israeli civilians, said to be mentally unstable, are also believed to have entered Gaza and to be held by Hamas.

Islamic Jihad said Sunday it would take no part in any exchange deal.

Full report at:

http://www.arabnews.com/node/1189456/middle-east

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Pakistan

 

Pakistan remains committed to combating terrorism: FO

Nov 7, 2017

Pakistan remains committed to combating terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, Foreign Office said.

According to a statement issued here on Monday, Foreign Office spokesperson Dr Faisal said that FATF was an international body that set standards relating to combating of money laundering and terrorist financing. “FATF reviews measures taken by all states on an ongoing basis for implementing those standards”, he said. He was responding to a question regarding the recently held meeting of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Pakistan successfully completed the action plan on the implementation of the FATF standards in February 2015. At the Buenos Aires meeting of FATF, the proceedings in the International Cooperation Review Group (ICRG) of FATF appreciated the continued progress made by Pakistan in implementing FATF standards. Any insinuations made to the contrary were only a reflection of a politically-motivated strategy to malign Pakistan. The list of countries of concern to FATF was available on FATF’s website which did not include Pakistan.

https://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2017/11/07/pakistan-remains-committed-to-combating-terrorism-fo/

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Pakistan Establishes Agency to Monitor, Block Blasphemous Content Online

6 Nov 2017

Islamabad has doubled down on enforcing Pakistan’s strict and controversial anti-Islamic blasphemy law, forming a regulatory body to monitor and block blasphemous content in cyberspace.

“Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA), the government-run communications regulatory agency, has created a 25-member group tasked with cracking down on websites, social media accounts and online pages that they consider offensive to Islam,” reports Voice of America (VOA).

“The committee, being constituted by the Ministry of Interior, will include representatives from PTA, the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA), and the ministry,” revealed Ismail Shah, the PTA’s chairman, when speaking to a Pakistan parliament panel.

In May, PTA officials reportedly warned millions of Pakistan resident via text message not to post or share blasphemous content online, which involves anything seen as an explicit insult to Allah, Islam, or religious leaders.

Social media companies such are Facebook and Twitter are allegedly doing little to stop Pakistan’s efforts to crackdown on anti-Islamic content online.

Pakistani government officials have reportedly accused Facebook of assisting Islamabad in taking down such content.

The Muslim-majority country’s blasphemy law is primarily used to target religious minorities, namely Christians, according to several analysts, including the British Pakistani Christian Association (BPCA), which tracks cases of Christian persecution in Pakistan.

Blasphemy criminal cases seldom result in a fair trial, often leading to the harsh verdict of life in prison or death mandated by the statue.

The first blasphemy-linked death sentence affiliated with social media surfaced earlier this year.

A Pakistani court found Taimoor Raza, 30, guilty of insulting the prophet Muhammad.

“Raza was arrested last year after a debate about Islam on Facebook with a man who turned out to be a counter-terrorism agent,” reported the Guardian. “He was one among 15 people arrested by the counter-terrorism department last year, accused of blasphemy, according to the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan.”

Although the Pakistani government has not yet carried out a blasphemy-related death sentence, Islamic extremists in the country have taken their version of justice into their hands

Mukhtar Masih, a 70-year-old Pakistani Christian arrested on charges of blasphemy earlier this year, recently died before he could face trial.

Christians as young as eight years old have been accused of insulting Islam in one way or another in Pakistan, where an estimated 100 people are reportedly detained on such charges each year.

The law appears to be popular among the predominantly Muslim population. Pakistanis often rally in favor of punishing those accused of blaspheming.

Nevertheless, VOA notes, “As government is committed to scrutinizing online contents, some rights activists charge that monitoring the internet will be a slippery slope.”

“The monitoring of social media for blasphemous content is a dangerous precedent in Pakistan. The law has often been misused in the past and now a crackdown on internet will further complicate the situation,” Zohra Yusuf, a Pakistani human rights activist, told Voice of America.

Full report at:

http://www.breitbart.com/national-security/2017/11/06/pakistan-establishes-agency-monitor-block-blasphemous-content-online/

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Iqbal a symbol of Muslim empowerment, equality

November 7, 2017

ISLAMABAD: Allama Iqbal raised the loudest voice against the economic and political exploitation of the weak by the powerful.

This was stated by Leader of the House in Senate Raja Zafarul Haq on Monday as a three-day international conference on Allama Iqbal began. The conference “Iqbal, the poet of East, the thinker of Pakistan and the Sage of Ummah,” has been organised by the Muslim Institute.

“The great Iqbal is an immortal symbol of Muslim empowerment and human equality,” Haq said.

He added that it was not just Iqbal’s beautiful arrangement of words, but the potency of his philosophy and ideas on revival of Islamic polity which inculcated anti-imperialist sentiment against the colonial rulers.

Noting that the great poet’s life was brimming with protests against inequality, Haq said that Iqbal was not just a great thinker, but history considers him as an international subject on his own in philosophy and literature.

The conference is being attended by delegates from around 18 countries. It aims at revitalising the vision of Iqbal while carrying forward his struggle for Muslim nationalism.

Other speakers at the conference observed that the universality of Iqbal’s message was evident nearly eight decades after his passing.

They said that Iqbal focuses on human unity, solidarity while visualising a society where everybody is technically trained and socially civilized.

However, the lamented that how as a nation, Iqbal’s messages and philosophies were taken full advantage of. The sole reason behind this negligence was that we are merely men of words. We also avoid those elements in our character building which instigate a sense of responsibility in an individual.

A panel of experts said that Iqbal’s message invites one to explore and recognise his final destination in the universe. Then, as a nation, there was a need to understand Iqbal — as urged by Quaid-i-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah.

Full report at:

https://tribune.com.pk/story/1551663/1-iqbal-symbol-muslim-empowerment-equality/

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Dr Qibla Ayaz appointed Council of Islamic Ideology chief

November 3, 2017

Dr Qibla Ayaz was appointed the new chairman of the Council of Islamic Ideology (CII) on Friday.

According to a notification, President Mamnoon Hussain also appointed other members of the council.

They include Qari Abdul Rashid, Ghulam Hussain Sialvi, Peer Roohul Husnain Mueen, Allah Bukhsh Kalyar, Maulana Muhammad Raghib Hussain Naeemi, Allama Arif Hussain Wahidi, Dr Abdul Hakeem Akbari, Sahibzada Sajidur Rehman, Khurshid Nadeem and Hafiz Fazlur Rahim.

The new council members have been appointed for three years.

Dr Ayaz has served as the vice chancellor of the University of Peshawar and also remained the dean of its Faculty of Islamic and Oriental Studies.

Besides, he has also held of the post Islamia College University Peshawar vice chancellor. He is currently an adjunct professor at the IMSciences, Peshawar.

Dr Ayaz is known for promoting inter-faith and sectarian harmony.

Former CII chief Maulana Muhammad Khan Sherani’s tenure had completed on December 17 last year.

Full report at:

https://tribune.com.pk/story/1549164/1-dr-qibla-ayaz-appointed-council-islamic-ideology-chief/

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COAS discusses geo-strategic environment, defence cooperation with Iranian leaders

Nov 7, 2017

TEHRAN: Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa met Iranian military and civilian leadership during his ongoing visit to Iran, said a statement released by the military’s media wing on Monday.

General Bajwa held meetings with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani at the Presidential Palace, the Inter-Services Public Relations said in the statement.

The Iranian leadership thanked the COAS for his visit and acknowledged Pakistan’s sacrifices and achievements in war the gainst terror, contributions towards regional peace and the important positive role that Pakistan had been playing in this regard.

During the meetings, the army chief discussed issues related to the geo-strategic environment, defence and security and economic cooperation at bilateral as well as regional level.

Afghan situation, growing threat of ISIS in the region and Pak-Iran border security also came under discussion.

The COAS termed Pak-Iran border as the border of peace and friendship and emphasised its better security management so as to deny its exploitation by terrorists being a common enemy. The two sides agreed to further the proposals for its formalisation.

General Bajwa said that Pakistan and Iran were two brotherly neighbours with a shared history, culture and religion. “Both armies also have the history of defence collaboration and cooperation which has great mutually benefiting potential for its enhancement,” the ISPR statement added.

Leaders of both the sides agreed to stay engaged for enhanced bilateral cooperation while jointly working to assist in bringing positive developments in other issues concerning the region.

Full report at:

https://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2017/11/07/iran-acknowledges-pakistans-sacrifices-achievements-in-war-on-terror/

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Pakistani consulate staff shot dead in Afghanistan

BY SHAMIM SHAHID

Nov 7, 2017

PESHAWAR: A staff member of Pakistan’s Consulate General in Jalalabad city of Afghanistan was shot dead on Monday.

According to a Foreign Office statement, Nayyar Iqbal Rana was shot dead by two unidentified assailants riding on a motorbike at a shop near his residence. The 52-year-old, who received multiple bullets and died on the spot, leaves behind a widow and five children.

Sources told Pakistan Today that Rana hailed from Sialkot and was working for the consulate’s visa section. The body of the victim has been shifted to a hospital in Jalalabad for postmortem.

AFGHAN CHARGE D’AFFAIRES SUMMONED

Foreign Secretary Tehmina Janjua summoned the Afghan Charge d’Affaires to the Foreign Office to lodge a strong protest against this heinous act and demanded that the perpetrators of this act of violence be apprehended and brought to justice.

The foreign secretary asked for foolproof security for Pakistani diplomats and missions in Afghanistan.

The Afghan Charge d’Affaires expressed condolences on behalf of his government, assured provision of security to Pakistani diplomats and missions in Afghanistan, and to bring to justice the perpetrators of the terrorist act.

CONDOLENCES

The president and prime minister in separate messages strongly condemned the heinous act and conveyed their deepest condolences and sympathies to the bereaved family.

In a message, the foreign minister condoled the aggrieved family and denounced this tragic act of violence. He urged the Afghan government to take urgent steps to apprehend the perpetrators and ensure the safety and security of the Pakistan’s diplomatic personnel and its missions in Afghanistan.

Full report at:

https://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2017/11/06/pakistani-diplomatic-staffer-gunned-down-in-afghanistan/

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Pakistan, Iran warm up to each other

November 07, 2017

Islamabad/lahore - Fast-changing geopolitical scenario has made Pakistan and Iran rediscover love in each other and build their future on the old, trusted common bonds of religion and culture, after years of relative estrangement.

Pakistan’s Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa is on a three-day visit to the neighbouring Muslim state.

The visit, which appears to be bringing an immediate boost to military ties, is also expected to result in enhanced cooperation in civilian areas.

In his meetings with Iranian civil and military leadership on Monday, General Bajwa termed Pak-Iran border as a border of “Peace and Friendship”, ISPR said in a press statement.

He emphasised better security management at the border so as to deny its exploitation by the terrorists being a common enemy, military’s media wing further said.

Both sides agreed to further the proposals for border’s formalisation, it said, quoting Bajwa as saying that Pakistan and Iran were two brotherly neighbours with shared history, culture and religion.

The army chief met Iranian Chief of General Staff (CGS) Major General Muhammad Bagheri at the General Staff HQ where he was presented guard of honour and delegation level talks were also held. Gen Bajwa laid floral wreath at the Martyrs Monument.

The COAS also held meetings with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif at Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani at the Presidential Palace.

ISPR said the Iranian leadership thanked the COAS for his visit and acknowledged Pakistan’s sacrifices and achievements in the war against terror, contributions towards regional peace and the important positive role that Pakistan was playing in this regard.

During the meetings, the army chief discussed issues related to geo-strategic environment, defence and security, and economic cooperation at bilateral as well as regional levels.

Afghan situation, growing threat of ISIS in the region and the Pak-Iran border security also came under discussion, it said.

Leaders of both sides agreed to stay engaged for enhanced bilateral cooperation, while jointly working to assist in bringing positive developments in issues concerning the region.

Rouhani’s statement

“Tehran welcomes expansion of defensive and military cooperation with Islamabad hoping that such cooperation will lead to bolstering of political, economic and cultural cooperation between the two countries,” Iranian news agency IRNA quoted President Rouhani as saying during meeting with the visiting dignitary.

The Islamic Republic of Iran is determined to broaden brotherly and sincere relations with its neighbours such as Pakistan , and there is no doubt that such relations will win supports of both nations, Rouhani said.

Expansion of cooperation between the two sides’ armed forces could be in various sectors such as training, joint military exercises, military industries as well as exchange of experiences, he noted said.

Terrorism, sectarian and ethnical differences are now regarded as two main problems in the world of Islam and “role of some global powers in fanning the flames of such disputes is remarkable”, the president said.

This was an obvious reference to the United States and Saudi Arabia, both of whom happen to be allies of Pakistan . Washington is the leading force behind international sanctions on Tehran. As the political leader of Sunni Islam, Saudi Arabia, on the other hand, is a regional rival of Iran – which leads the Shia bloc.

Big powers are against unity and brotherhood between Muslims as they know that such relations will bring Muslims much closer and there is no doubt that these countries in the absence of global powers will be able to resolve their problems, Rouhani further commented.

Close cooperation between Iran and Pakistan can help prepare the grounds for more unity among Islamic states and it is quite evident that existing differences between Islamic countries can be resolved through dialogue, he said.

Full report at:

http://nation.com.pk/07-Nov-2017/pakistan-iran-warm-up-to-each-other

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US asks Pakistan for ‘decisive action’ against terrorist groups

NOVEMBER 7, 2017

ISLAMABAD: US Ambassador to Pakistan David Hale has asked Pakistan for a ‘decisive action’ against all terrorist groups allegedly operating from its soil. Addressing the fourth meeting of Pak-US Track II Dialogue on Monday, the US ambassador said, “Our South Asia strategy looks to Pakistan for decisive action against all terrorist groups operating from its soil.” “We ask for equal diligence in decimating all the groups operating in Pakistan which threaten the region’s stability, including the Haqqani network,” David Hale said. He said that the Pakistani leadership had assured to speed up its efforts for regaining peace in Afghanistan, adding that the US had also encouraged India to improve Pak-India relations. The United States has also demanded India for more economic support in Afghanistan. “The US secretary encouraged India to do more to support Afghanistan economically, and encouraged both India and Pakistan to resume dialogue and reduce tensions.” Meanwhile, Foreign Office spokesperson Dr Faisal said on Monday that Pakistan remained committed to combating terrorism in all its forms and manifestations. According to a statement issued by the Foreign Office, the spokesperson said that the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) was an international body that sets standards relating to combating money laundering and terrorist financing. “The FATF reviews measures taken by all states on an ongoing basis for implementing those standards,” he said. He was responding to a question regarding the recently held meeting of the FATF in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Pakistan successfully completed the action plan on the implementation of the FATF standards in February 2015. At the Buenos Aires meeting of FATF, the proceedings in the International Cooperation Review Group (ICRG) of FATF appreciated the continued progress made by Pakistan in implementing FATF standards.

https://dailytimes.com.pk/135459/us-asks-pakistan-decisive-action-terrorist-groups/

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Bilawal condemns killing of Pakistani diplomat in Afghanistan

NOVEMBER 7, 2017

KARACHI: Pakistan People’s Party Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari strongly condemned the killing of a Pakistani diplomat in the Afghan city of Jalalabad, and termed it both shocking and dangerous.

In a statement, the PPP Chairman said that providing protection to foreign diplomats and their families was the primary responsibility of the Afghan government.

He said that the murder of a Pakistani diplomat, Nayyar Iqbal, was a matter of serious public concern, with implications for bilateral ties between the two countries. He urged the Afghan authorities to conduct an expeditious investigation into this tragedy and to strengthen security protocols for Pakistani diplomats in their country.

https://dailytimes.com.pk/135440/bilawal-condemns-killing-pakistani-diplomat-afghanistan/

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Three suspected IS militants arrested

November 07, 2017

KARACHI: Police on Monday claimed to have arrested three suspects linked with the banned Islamic State group from the outskirts of the city.

Acting on a tip-off provided by an intelligence agency, SITE Superhighway police conducted targeted raid on a home in Ahsanabad and arrested three suspects, said Malir SSP Rao Anwar Ahmed.

The held suspects were affiliated with IS.

Two 30-bore pistols, one 9mm pistol and jihadi literature was seized from their custody.

“Books, pamphlets, stickers and CDs regarding terrorism were recovered from their custody,” said the police officer.

They were trying to recruit the youth for militancy and terrorism.

The detained militants were identified as Mohammad Umer, Khalid Minhas and Shakeel Ahmed.

https://www.dawn.com/news/1368805/three-suspected-is-militants-arrested

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Model Town inquiry report a ‘dead document’, Punjab govt tells LHC

Wajih Ahmad Sheikh

November 07, 2017

LAHORE: The Punjab government’s counsel told a three-judge bench of the Lahore High Court on Monday that the Model Town inquiry report had become a “dead document” as the purpose for which it was conducted stood exhausted.

“However, the report can be presented to the judges of this bench in camera for personal analysis,” Advocate Khwaja Harris made the offer during his concluding arguments on an intra-court appeal challenging the order of making the inquiry report public passed by a single judge.

Justice Abid Aziz Sheikh heads the full bench along with Justice Syed Shahbaz Ali Rizvi and Justice Qazi Mohammad Amin Ahmad. The court will resume hearing on Nov 9.

Before closing his lengthy arguments, Advocate Harris referred to different judgements of local and international jurisdictions in support of the privilege enjoyed by the government whether to release a judicial inquiry report or not.

The report, if publicised, would definitely influence the minds of judges hearing cases connected with the incident and prejudice the right to fair trial of accused facing charges in both FIRs of the Model Town episode. Faisal Town police had lodged two cases — one on the complaint of a cop/state and the other on an application of Idara Minhajul Quran following a court order.

Advocate Harris said a private complaint filed by the organisation was also pending before an antiterrorism court in addition to trials in the FIRs.

Without discussing the ‘objectionable’ content of the report, he said it could harm religious sentiments in society and a debate in media would be generated leading to public pre-judgement, which would certainly prejudice the trial proceedings not only in the Model Town case but also other trials.

Relying upon Article 204 (c) of the Constitution, which deals with contempt of court, Mr Harris said a court could punish anyone for doing anything that tends to prejudice the determination of a matter pending before the court. The principle of presumption of innocence would also be disturbed, which was a part of right to life, he said, adding that no one could be treated as convicted before conviction.

Initially, one of the judges at the bench did not think it necessary to view the report when the offer was made by the counsel. However, after consultation, the bench agreed to examine the report in camera at the next hearing.

Advocate Azhar Siddique objected that no order by any authority had been passed with regard to privilege of the government to withhold the report. He represents ‘heirs’ of 2014 Model Town incident’s victims who were petitioners before the single bench, which ordered the government to make the report public. He said somebody must have come to a conclusion that the report could not be released.

Advocate Harris responded that the petitioners never approached any forum for the purpose and kept filing petitions in courts. And the government was to defend its privilege before the court.

Advocate Siddique and Advocate Khwaja Ahmad Tariq Rahim would resume their arguments in support of the single-judge decision and against the government’s appeal at the next hearing.

Justice Syed Mazahar Ali Akbar Naqvi had on Sept 21 ordered the Punjab home secretary to public the “Justice Najafi report” on the Model Town carnage and also provide it to the families of those killed and injured in the incident.

Full report at:

https://www.dawn.com/news/1368810/model-town-inquiry-report-a-dead-document-punjab-govt-tells-lhc

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Five tonnes of drugs recovered during Police raid in Manghopir

NOVEMBER 7, 2017

KARACHI: Police seized five tonnes of drugs and successfully foiled a drug-smuggling bid during a raid near Manghopir’s Northern Bypass.

The estimated value of the recovered drugs is said to be in millions.

According to police the drugs were being smuggled to Karachi in a mini truck and that it was loaded with 274 cartons carrying 5000 kilograms of drugs with an estimated value of Rs 200 million.

No arrests were made during the raid.

https://dailytimes.com.pk/135589/five-tonnes-drugs-recovered-police-raid-manghopir/

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Establish supreme council to decide FATA’s future: Fazlur Rehman

NOVEMBER 7, 2017

PESHAWAR: Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazal (JUI-F) chief Fazlur Rehman has rejected all efforts of the government to resolve the issue of Federally Administrated Tribal Area (FATA) – be it merger with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) or an extension of the federal government. During a press conference after attending a 75-member jirga at the JUI-F Secretariat on Monday, Fazlur Rehman demanded the government to establish a ‘Supreme Council’ to decide FATA’s future according to the best options available to the government. “The FATA Supreme Council will consist of 35 members whose selection will be done by already established jirga of 75 tribesmen, who will attend a grand jirga on November 9 in Lahore to further take up the issues with other political parties and the government,” he added. He said that all political parties had moved away from the original decision, which was taken at all parties’ conference in Islamabad. “The government needs to reconsider the issue of FATA keeping in view the wishes of tribal people. The people of FATA had never demanded a merger with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Political parties have created hype in the media to complicate the issue,” he maintained. He said that all political parties needed to reconsider their stance on FATA, as the demand for a separate province was also making rounds in the circles concerned. He advised political parties not to politicise the FATA issue. He slammed those who blamed him for not accepting the decision of KP-FATA merger.

https://dailytimes.com.pk/135479/establish-supreme-council-decide-fatas-future-fazlur-rehman/

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Arab World

 

More Terrorists Join Al-Nusra to Slow Down Syrian Army's Rapid Advances in Hama Province

Nov 06, 2017

The websites said that the army men's operation in Northeastern Hama and Southern Aleppo is underway to pave the ground for the Idlib liberation operation, adding that a large number of militants have joined the Al-Nusra in Hama province to prevent the army from reaching Idlib.

The websites further said that the terrorist groups have dispatched a large volume of arms, ammunition and military equipment to the region.

Relevant reports said on Saturday that the army men advanced against the Al-Nusra North of Sheikh Hilal-Ithriya Highway, overran the frontier town of Mosheirefeh which is close to the recently-liberated village of Abu Lefeh, as the advance put the Damascus troops one step closer to the militant heartland in the Idlib province.

In addition to expanding the buffer zone around the main supply line leading to Aleppo, pro-government forces have secured a launchpad for an assault on the nearby Al-Nusra bastion town of Rahjan which represents the next immediate target for Syrian army troops.

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13960815001411

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Saudi minister: Lebanon becoming ‘platform for terrorism’ is unacceptable

6 November 2017

Saudi Arabia’s Gulf Affairs Minister Thamer Al-Sabhan said in a tweet on Monday that Lebanon will never be what it once was after Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri’s resignation.

He continued to say that the Gulf “will not accept that it [Lebanon] becomes a platform for terrorism to make its way to our countries, and on the hand of its leaders, become a state for terrorism or peace.”

Sabhan’s tweet comes after Hariri’s resignation on Saturday. The reasons for the resignation remain unknown as of this time.

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/gulf/2017/11/06/Saudi-minister-Lebanon-becoming-platform-for-terrorism-is-unacceptable.html

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Missile attack on Riyadh ‘an act of war’ by Iran

7 November 2017

JEDDAH: A Houthi missile fired at Riyadh may be considered an act of war by Iran, and Saudi Arabia will not tolerate any infringement of its national security, senior Saudi officials said on Monday.

“The Kingdom reserves the right to respond in a timely manner to the hostile actions of the Iranian regime,” Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubeir said.

“Iranian interventions in the region are detrimental to the security of neighboring countries and affect international peace and security. We will not allow any infringement of our national security.”

Iran supplied the ballistic missile fired into Saudi Arabia on Saturday night by Houthi rebels in Yemen. Saudi defense forces intercepted the missile and shot it down over King Khaled International Airport in Riyadh, and there were no casualties.

“Iran’s role and its direct command of its Houthi proxy in this matter constitute a clear act of aggression that targets neighboring countries, and threatens peace and security in the region and globally,” the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen said on Monday.

“Therefore, the coalition’s command considers this a blatant act of military aggression by the Iranian regime, and could rise to be considered as an act of war against the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

“The coalition command also affirms that the Kingdom reserves its right to respond to Iran at the appropriate time and in the appropriate manner.”

The Coalition Forces Command ordered the temporary closure on Monday of all air, sea and land ports in Yemen, except for aid workers and humanitarian supplies.

Col. Turki Al-Maliki, spokesman for the coalition, produced evidence on Sunday that Iran supplied weapons and technology to the Houthis, including ballistic missiles, launchers, aerial drones, land and naval mines and improvised explosive devices.

Bahraini Foreign Minister Sheikh Khaled bin Ahmed Al-Khalifa said Iran was a danger to the region, and the Harvard scholar and Iranian affairs expert Majid Rafizadeh said the international community should hold Tehran accountable.

“Compromises, concessions and diplomatic maneuvering don’t work with the Iranian regime,” he told Arab News. “Iranian leaders view concessions as weakness.”

He called for a combination of economic sanctions, political pressure and enhanced monitoring of Iran’s illegal activities. “Tehran’s exports and imports should be closely examined and restricted. The US, EU and Arab powers should form a military front, like NATO, as a bulwark against the Iran regime.”

Rafizadeh said Iran was the leading state sponsor of terrorism. “The UN should invoke UN Resolution 2231 and immediately punish Tehran for violating it. Otherwise, Tehran’s belligerent behavior will continue to grow. This can turn the regional conflict into a conflagration.”

UN Security Council Resolution 2231 adopted the 2015 Iranian nuclear deal, but also imposed restrictions on Iran’s use of some ballistic missiles.

Thomas Mattair, executive director of the Middle East Policy Council in Washington, told Arab News: “Iran should not expect to be able to facilitate attacks on Saudi Arabia without paying some consequences.”

Dr. Hamdan Al-Shehri, a Saudi political analyst and international relations scholar in Riyadh, said the international community should have prevented Iran from creating havoc in the region.

“Things would not have reached this pass if the world community had taken measures against Iran and its arming of militias such Hezbollah and the Houthis,” he told Arab News. “The world’s inaction led Iran to believe that it can basically get away with murder.”

He condemned Iran for first attacking Makkah in July, and now Riyadh. “They want to kill innocent people and spread terror; this is their only business.”

The world community, and specifically the US and Russia, must pressurize Iran to give up its hostility to Arab countries, Al-Shehri said. “Now is the time to act.” 

Al-Shehri said the missile attack on Riyadh was a “declaration of war” on Saudi Arabia. 

“Saudi Arabia will not sit idle and will not wait for the international community to do nothing,” he said. “Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubeir has made it clear that Saudi Arabia, in coordination with its Arab allies, reserves the right to defend its sovereignty and its people.”

Al-Shehri said all options were on the table and all measures were being explored. “The Saudi leadership will decide what option and measures to go for and when,” he said. “One thing is clear, this Iranian-Hezbollah-Houthi provocation and attack will not go unpunished.”

Among the options, he said, was directly confronting Iran. “A fitting Saudi response will come at a time and place of its choosing.”

David Pollack, a scholar at the Washington Institute for Near East policy, said Saudi Arabia “generally has a valid case. The Arab coalition and its international partners, including the US, should intensify maritime and land interdiction efforts, including via Oman.”

Aaron David Miller, vice president for new initiatives and Middle East program director at the Woodrow Wilson Center for International Scholars, speculated that Saudi Arabia had reached a “firm understanding” with the US that should tensions with Iran escalate, “the US will be there to support” the Kingdom.

Full report at:

http://www.arabnews.com/node/1189476/saudi-arabia

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Saudi Arabia announces cash rewards for arrest of wanted Houthis

7 November 2017

JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia on Monday announced the names of 40 members of the Houthi militia who are involved in various terrorist activities. The authorities have also announced financial rewards for information leading to their arrests.

According to an official statement, the action has been taken to curb the activities of the Houthis to harm the Kingdom’s security with the support of the Iranian regime.

The statement carried by the Saudi Press Agency (SPA) said the increased cooperation between the Iranian-backed Houthis and Hezbollah, the Iranian proxy in Lebanon, in terms of exchanging expertise and military capabilities, is a direct threat to the Kingdom’s security and stability.

Full report at:

http://www.arabnews.com/node/1189376/saudi-arabia

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Muslim scholars call for Islamic awakening

November 07, 2017

Muslim scholars from around the world meeting Monday in Istanbul said work must be done to strengthen the Muslim community.

"Islam has spread from the Arabian Peninsula to China, from the Samarkand to the Indian peninsula, Asia and Europe. At that time, Umayyads and Muslims became rulers of the world in a very short time. Then we have to turn this Ummah back to those days. This is our promise to the Ummah " said International Union of Muslim Scholars (IUMS) chairman Yusuf al-Qaradawi.

The 5th Meeting of IUMS’ Board of Trustees was attended by Qaradawi, Deputy Chairman of the Turkish Directorate of Religious Affairs Selim Argun as well as other scholars from across the globe.

The scholars discussed the conflicts in the Islamic world and the role of Muslim clerics in solving these problems, calling for an awakening of the Muslim community.

Qaradawi said the scholars had to work to make the Muslim community strong again.

"If we would summarize the message of Prophet Muhammad in one word, we would say it is "mercy". Mercy for all creation," he said, adding scholars who bear the message of Islam should pave the way for the Ummah and move them forward.

Full report at:

http://www.yenisafak.com/en/news/muslim-scholars-call-for-islamic-awakening-2797733

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'Terrorist rehab' opens its doors in northern Syria

Khaled al-Khateb

November 6, 2017

ALEPPO, Syria — The Syrian Center for Anti-Extremist Ideology opened its doors Oct. 28 in the city of Marea in the northern Aleppo countryside. The inauguration was attended by Free Syrian Army (FSA) commanders, local activists, administrators and lecturers at the center, which received its first batch of students the next day.

The center will take in people who have been indoctrinated in the ideology of the Islamic State (IS), putting them through courses on moderate interpretations of Islamic law, and intellectual and cultural lectures. It will also offer counseling and psychological support. The aim is to rid the participants of extremist ideology, with various recreational and sports programs, all offering daily classes over a period of three months.

Hussein Nasser, the center’s director, told Al-Monitor, “Students at the center are all detainees accused of adopting IS ideology, defectors from the group or prisoners who belong to it but were captured during battles between the FSA and IS in 2016 during Operation Euphrates Shield. They have received various sentences depending on the crimes they committed.”

The detainees attend lectures and stay at the center during their prison sentence, and depending on their success can be eligible for reduced terms.

Nasser said 30 students are attending the first three-month course, which include IS sympathizers who worked in civil jobs in former IS-held areas of Syria, as well as people who fought for the group then defected and handed themselves in to the FSA during Operation Euphrates Shield. It also includes foreigners from Europe and Africa who fought for IS in Syria and Iraq and defected before heading to the areas liberated during Euphrates Shield, where they were detained.

The detainees and defectors are forced to attend the courses at the center, which offers lectures on moderate Sharia and human development to allow the students to return to a normal life within society, as well as sports and entertainment activities. According to Nasser, a group of 25 trainers teaches the courses, including professors of moderate Sharia, researchers of extremist groups and psychology experts.

“The center was founded through donations from the local project initiators. We also received funds from FSA factions, which are hoping the center will succeed and see it as an extremely important project,” Nasser said, adding that he is hoping for funding from international organizations involved in countering extremism so the center can further develop and welcome more students and more trainers. Nasser hopes the center would be expanded to better accommodate the students.

The center currently has 10 rooms, half of which were turned into bedrooms for the students. The other half are used for lectures.

Al-Monitor attended a lecture by Sheikh Mahmoud Mohammad, who talked to the students about extremist ideology promoted by IS and moderate Islamic thinking. The lecture took place in a carpeted hall with comfortable chairs and a 32-inch TV screen on the wall for showing video clips and films for education and entertainment.

Nasser explained that at the end of the course, students take tests that are reviewed by a panel of lecturers and trainers from the center. If the test results show that the student has indeed changed his ideology and has become more moderate, he is eligible for a reduction in his sentence and to be released from prison. As for those whose ideology has not changed, they will remain at the center and attend a new course, Nasser said. He noted that the students are monitored throughout the day.

Arsan Khazri, a 28-year-old Ukrainian who calls himself Abu Amira, joined IS in Iraq in early 2015, entering via Turkey and Syria before reaching Iraq’s Tal Afar.

He told Al-Monitor, “I realized IS was lying and doesn’t represent real Islam a year after I arrived there. I began thinking about defecting, and in mid-2016 I went to Raqqa so I could try and leave IS-held territory. I managed to find a smuggler to take me to northern Aleppo in early 2017 for $2,000, and then I crossed into the liberated areas and was detained by the FSA.”

Khazri, who speaks fairly good Arabic, paid close attention to the lecturer.

Another detainee at the center is Raqqa resident Abdulaziz al-Ubaid, 30. He joined IS in Syria in mid-2014.

“I only stayed with the group for three months, then left it and worked as a greengrocer in Raqqa until early 2017,” he told Al-Monitor. “As the Syrian Democratic Forces closed in on IS in Raqqa, I thought of leaving. I paid a smuggler $1,200 and managed to reach the liberated areas where the FSA detained me.”

Ubaid said he had not committed any crimes during his short time with IS, during which he worked as a guard for a military base in the city of Raqqa, in northeastern Syria. He was optimistic about the center’s courses and believes he will be released so he can return to his wife and child in Azaz once he finishes the course.

Hassan al-Daghim, a lecturer and member of the center’s board, said the center focuses on offering psychological treatment to people who had been attracted to joining IS.

He told Al-Monitor, “The center was set up in Marea in the northern Aleppo countryside, which has a lot of military experience in fighting oppressors. We hope that this can be a catalyst. The center is the first step toward changing the thinking of many young people who got caught up in the ideology of extremist groups.”

The Syrian Center for Anti-Extremist Ideology is a small step, but its founders hope it can achieve its goal. To do so, it will need major support so it can develop its programs and bring in a larger number of young people who have adopted the ideology of extremist groups in Syria.

Full report at:

https://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2017/11/anti-extremism-center-opened-in-northern-aleppo-countryside.html

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Islamic State Losing the Battle Yet the War Goes On: QuickTake

By Lisa Beyer

November 6, 2017

Islamic State stunned the world when its jihadist fighters swept through Iraq and Syria in 2014, conquering large chunks of territory. The proto-state it established in the two countries has collapsed now, with the fall of the group’s major strongholds. But completely defeating Islamic State and like-minded extremists is a larger challenge. The group has repeatedly shown that it can inspire terrorist attacks around the world without orchestrating them from a central headquarters. And jihadist groups have demonstrated a capacity to metastasize and to be reborn after past routs in Afghanistan and Iraq.

The Situation

In November, advances by Syrian government forces, backed by Russian airstrikes, and Iraqi forces, supported by a U.S.-led coalition, pushed the remaining Islamic State fighters into an ever smaller area along the Iraq-Syria border. The previous month, U.S.-backed Syrian rebel fighters declared victory over Islamic State in its self-declared capital of Raqqa in Syria. The group had lost control over Mosul, its most important stronghold in Iraq, three months before that. The U.S.-led operation against Islamic State, officially engaging more than 60 nations, combines airstrikes with support for the Iraqi military forces and Syrian rebels fighting the group on the ground. Under President Donald Trump, the U.S. has delegated more authority to its field commanders, increased airstrikes and adopted rules to prevent Islamic State fighters from escaping battles. In a separate campaign, Russia began bombing Islamic State in 2015 in Syria, backing government forces. Even as Islamic State has lost terrain, it’s become a wider threat, launching or inspiring terrorist attacks in Europe, the U.S. and around the Muslim world.

The Background

The group that eventually morphed into Islamic State was established in Iraq in 2004. It was originally an affiliate of al-Qaeda, the jihadist movement whose leaders the U.S. had driven from Afghanistan after they orchestrated the Sept. 11 attacks. The new group attracted Sunni Muslims rebelling against the occupation that followed the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003. When American forces toppled Saddam Hussein, the country’s Sunni minority lost the dominant role it had held in his dictatorial regime. Like al-Qaeda, which eventually disowned it, Islamic State aims to create a purified Islamic society, but its methods differ. It openly targets Muslim civilians, especially Shiites, whom it considers heretics, as well as fellow Sunnis who oppose it. Weakened in 2007 by a surge of U.S. troops combined with an organized Sunni backlash, the group revived with the 2011 departure of coalition forces. It honed its combat skills in the Syrian civil war that began the same year. In 2014, Islamic State began conquering Iraqi and Syrian cities and declared a caliphate, a state that claims dominion over all Muslims. Using the internet to recruit, it attracted tens of thousands of Muslims from all over the world as fighters in its cause. In the areas under its control, Islamic State has practiced systematic violence — including abduction, sexual enslavement, torture and murder. A United Nations panel concluded it was guilty of genocide against the Yazidi minority.

The Argument

Full report at:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/islamic-state-losing-the-battle-yet-the-war-goes-on-quicktake/2017/11/06/90c8c72c-c32e-11e7-9922-4151f5ca6168_story.html?utm_term=.5c974434aaae

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Hezbollah says Saudi Arabia forced Lebanese PM to quit

November 06, 2017

BEIRUT: Lebanon’s Hezbollah group on Sunday accused Saudi Arabia of forcing Lebanese Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri to quit, and called for calm in an effort to contain the political crisis unleashed by his resignation.

Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of Iran-backed Hezbollah , said there should be no political escalation in response to Hariri’s declaration on Saturday, which was made from Saudi Arabia and came as surprise even to his aides. Hariri, in a televised speech, said there was a plot to kill him, and accused Hezbollah and its Iranian backers of sowing strife in the Arab world.

Nasrallah said “legitimate questions” were being asked over whether Hariri had been detained in Saudi Arabia , where news emerged on Sunday that royals, ministers and investors had been arrested in an anti-corruption purge. Aides to Hariri, whose family made their fortune in the Saudi construction industry, strongly denied he had been detained or had been forced to resign.

Speaking in a televised address, Nasrallah said: “The resignation was a Saudi decision dictated to Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri and was forced on him.” Nasrallah said Lebanon’s political leaders expected Hariri to return to Lebanon on Thursday “if he is allowed” to travel.

Saudi Arabia , a political ally of Hariri, is locked in a bitter tussle for power across the Middle East with Iran and its allies, including Hezbollah . Lebanese President Michel Aoun will not accept Hariri’s resignation until he returns to Lebanon to explain his reasons, palace sources said on Sunday, delaying for now the politically difficult consultations over his successor.

Nasrallah said he would not comment on accusations levelled against Hezbollah by Hariri, describing his resignation announcement as a Saudi statement. Hariri’s resignation toppled a coalition government that included Hezbollah , thrusting Lebanon back into the frontline of the Saudi-Iranian regional rivalry and risking an open-ended political crisis.

The government was formed late last year in a political deal that ended years of deadlock, and last month it produced Lebanon’s first budget since 2005. Nasrallah said he had thought things were going well and had not wanted Hariri to quit.

“Legitimate concern”

Hariri allies in Lebanon have denied suggestions he had been detained and a photograph was published on his Twitter account showing him with Saudi Arabia’s newly appointed ambassador to Lebanon, Walid al-Yaaqoub. News of high-level arrests in Saudi Arabia fuelled social media speculation in Lebanon that Hariri, a Saudi national, was a target.

Nasrallah said “there was legitimate concern”, asking if Hariri had anything to do “with this internal struggle between the princes”. Saudi Oger, the construction firm owned by the Hariri family, has faced a multibillion-dollar debt restructuring. The company was hit by a decline in oil prices led to sharp state spending cuts in the kingdom.

Saudi-owned newspaper Asharq al-Awsat cited unnamed sources close to Hariri as speculating that he would probably remain outside Lebanon because of the security threat against him. Central Bank Governor Riad Salameh sought to calm fears the political turmoil would hit Lebanon’s already fragile economy, issuing a statement to reaffirm the stability of its currency, which is pegged against the US dollar.

In Lebanon’s sectarian system the president must be a Maronite Catholic, the prime minister a Sunni and the speaker of parliament a Shi’ite. Hariri is Lebanon’s most influential Sunni politician. His father, Rafik al-Hariri, was prime minister after Lebanon’s 1975-1990 civil war and was assassinated in a car bombing in 2005.

A UN backed tribunal has indicted five Hezbollah members for the killing but the group denies any involvement. Saudi media have published reports of a plot to assassinate Hariri in recent days, but all of Lebanon’s main security branches have said they have no information about such a plot.

A Saudi minister said on Saturday that Hariri’s personal security detail had “confirmed information” about the plot. Thamer al-Sabhan said in an interview with a Lebanese TV station on Saturday that there were “threats against the prime minister and the kingdom is keen for his security”.

Full report at:

http://nation.com.pk/06-Nov-2017/hezbollah-says-saudi-arabia-forced-lebanese-pm-to-quit

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Terrorists Withdraw from More Positions in Hama under Syrian Army Attack

Nov 06, 2017

The army men and the popular fighters managed to capture the strategic heights near the town of al-Shakousiyeh after driving Al-Nusra out of the towns of al-Mosheirefeh Sharqi, al-Mosheirefeh Qarbia and al-Shakousiyeh.

The army men also imposed full control over Hasnowy and Abu al-Qar regions after a bloody battle with Al-Nusra.

Relevant reports said on Sunday that the army men advanced against the Al-Nusra North of Sheikh Hilal-Ithriya Highway, overran the frontier town of Mosheirefeh which is close to the recently-liberated village of Abu Lefeh, as the advance put the Damascus troops one step closer to the militant heartland in the Idlib province.

In addition to expanding the buffer zone around the main supply line leading to Aleppo, pro-government forces have secured a launchpad for an assault on the nearby Al-Nusra bastion town of Rahjan which represents the next immediate target for Syrian army troops.

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13960815000786

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Syria: US Sends 120 Trucks with Arms to SDF for Deir Ezzur Operation

Nov 06, 2017

"The US has supplied us with Hummer armored vehicles and heavy armament for the Deir Ezzur operation, including missiles, infra-red guidance missiles, machine guns, mine throwers, Kalashnikov assault rifles and other ammunition," the SDF source told Sputnik Turkiye on condition of anonymity.

According to the high-ranking official, the armaments and vehicles have been brought from the territory of Northern Iraq through the Semelka checkpoint into Rojava, the territory where the Syrian Kurds live. From there, the trucks with weaponry left for the territories which have been cleaned from ISIL to the North of Deir Ezzur.

The total number of trucks amounted to 120; the source, however said that they need more.

"We are advancing, our forces need to operate in the areas of combat and we do need armored vehicles. We have lost many fighters who were killed in mortar shelling by ISIL terrorists because they did not have armor protection," he explained.

Full report at:

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13960815000707

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Direct Confrontation Growing More Likely between Syrian Army, US-Backed SDF in Deir Ezzur

Nov 06, 2017

The sources said that the US-backed SDF seized the villages of Shudayha, Younes, Shaitat and Sarhit oilfields from the ISIL in Eastern Deir Ezzur on Sunday.

They added that the oilfields were simply handed over to the Kurds by ISIL members.

The sources said that the SDF has dispatched a large number of fighters to Southeastern Deir Ezzur to kick off an imminent operation.

The latest advances have put the SDF within 40 kilometers of distance from the town of Albu Kamal, the last major ISIL stronghold in Syria as well as within a striking distance from the Euphrates River through a new flank.

The Syrian army men have also deployed only 30 km away from Albu Kamal.

The Russian Defense Ministry said in statement on Sunday that the country's Air Force carried out a number of combat flights over ISIL's defense lines in Southeastern Deir Ezzur amid rapid advances of the Syrian Army troops toward the terrorist-held town of Albu Kamal at the border with Iraq.

The ministry's statement said that Russian Tu-22M3 bombers that took off from Russian territory and reached Syria via Iran and Iraq conducted airstrikes against ISIL targets, focusing mostly on arms, munitions depots and command posts.

The statement said that "provided data confirm destruction of all assigned objects."

The Russian military has been conducting an air operation in the Albu Kamal area over the last several days.

Also, Russian Defense Ministry's Spokesman Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov announced that almost two dozen anti-ISIL strikes by the Russian military paved the way for the Syrian army to succeed in Southeastern Deir Ezzur in recent days.

The Russian army aircraft has been carrying out combat sorties over ISIL's stronghold in Albu Kamal region.

Full report at:

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13960815000449

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Syrian Army Special Forces to Kick off Albu Kamal Liberation Operation in New Flank

Nov 06, 2017

The army officer reported that the elite forces are preparing to launch a fresh round of operations from a new flank to free Albu Kamal at the Iraqi border.

He further added that the Tiger Forces will launch the offensive from the provincial capital of Deir Ezzur, which was officially liberated a couple of days ago after months of bloody battle with ISIL.

In the meantime, the army units and Hezbollah fighters, operating East of T2 oil pumping station in Southwestern Deir Ezzur, have deployed 30 km away from Albu Kamal.

Relevant reports said on Saturday that the army troops repelled ISIL's heavy offensive in the Eastern province of Deir Ezzur, inflicting tens of casualties on the terrorists.

The army came under heavy attacks after an ISIL contingent stormed the pro-government forces' positions in the Southern part of Deir Ezzur Province.

The terrorists marched towards a strategic position Southwest of the town of al-Makhan, but they met fierce resistance by the Syrian army units.

According to a battlefield report, the short-lived attack ended in complete disaster for ISIL commanders who called off the attack shortly after it began as Syrian troops destroyed their armored vehicles.

Full report at:

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13960815000518

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Arab Analyst: Al-Hariri's Resignation US-Saudi Plot

Nov 06, 2017

"Al-Hariri resigned as a result of a US decision and its implementation by Saudi Arabia. He was facing a two-way road; resignation or prison. His return to Lebanon is unlikely, and since he is a Saudi citizen, he can't leave the country without the permission of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman," Atwan wrote in the Arabic-language newspaper on Monday.

He raised the possibility that al-Hariri will be tried in Saudi Arabia for financial corruption, and said, "It is unlikely that someone who is active in the construction sector in Saudi Arabia be innocent of corruption as winning the tenders is not possible without paying bribe."

A former Lebanese minister revealed on Sunday that Hariri is under detention in Saudi Arabia.

"I call on the Lebanese government to guarantee Saad Hariri's safe return to the country and I emphasize that he has been detained and he was interrogated after his friend (Khalid) al-Tuwaijri (Chief of the Royal Court of Saudi Arabia under King Abdullah) was arrested," Wiam Wahhab was quoted as saying by Bahrain's Arabic-language al-Wasat newspaper.

The Saudi media reported that the country's security forces have detained a number of princes and former ministers and officials, including al-Tuwaijiri. 

Al-Hariri resigned during a trip to Saudi Arabia in a surprise move that plunged the country into uncertainty amid heightened regional tensions.

In a televised address from Riyadh, al-Hariri launched a vicious tirade against Iran and the Lebanese Hezbollah group for what he claimed was their meddling in Arab affairs.

Al-Hariri was appointed prime minister in late 2016 and headed a 30-member national unity cabinet.

Al-Hariri’s resignation on Saturday was expected to sharply raise tensions in the country.

Full report at:

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13960815000889

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Syrian Army Pushes Al-Nusra back from more Regions in Aleppo Province

Nov 06, 2017

The army men drove Al-Nusra out of the villages of Rasm al-Khala and Abisan and Tal (hill) al-Sawan South of the town of Khanasser in Southeastern Aleppo after liberating the villages of Hajarah Kabirah, Hajarah Saqira and Jubb Awaz in Southwest of Khanasser, inflicting major losses on the terrorists.

In the meantime, the army's artillery and missile units pounded the terrorists' positions East of the village of Ramleh Southwest of Khanasser, killing or wounding a number of militants.  

Aleppo Police Chief Gen. Issam al-Shelli said Sunday that the police found a mass grave in the town of Deir Hafer in Eastern Aleppo, containing the bodies of eight people killed by the ISIL.

Al-Shelli reported that the mass grave contains the bodies of eight civilians murdered by ISIL on 26 of June, 2014 for raising the Syrian flag in various areas in Deir Hafer, adding that preliminary investigations and local testimonies indicated that the victims were imprisoned for a month before the terrorists killed them and left their bodies hanging for three days in the town square.

Full report at:

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13960815000351

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ISIL's Baghdadi Escapes from Iraq to Syria

Nov 06, 2017

The source said that al-Baghdadi left Rawa for Syria's Deir Ezzur along with a number of ISIL commanders after the Iraqi forces captured the town of al-Qa'em.

The source added that al-Baghdadi called on ISIL fighters in al-Qa'em to continue battle with Iraqi forces, but, he himself escaped from Rawa.

The source who requested to remain anonymous said that al-Baghdadi left Iraq for Syria in a yellow taxi and would be in Deir Ezzur province.

The report comes as there have been contradictory reports on the fate of Baghdadi putting his life or dead under a question mark.

The Iraqi forces managed to capture al-Qa'em near the Syrian border from the ISIL group on Friday.

“Army troops backed by Hashd al-Shaabi fighters and Arab tribal volunteers have completely liberated the town of al-Qa'em’s center,” Colonel Walid al-Duleimi said.

 “The Iraqi national flag has been raised over the town’s local government headquarters,” he added.

The commander stressed that Iraqi forces also established control over the nearby al-Qa'em border crossing.

Full report at:

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13960815000393

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Syrian Army Deploys 30 km away from ISIL's Main Stronghold at Border with Iraq

Nov 06, 2017

The sources said that the army men deployed on the Eastern side of T2 Oil Pumping Station in Southwestern Deir Ezzur advanced against ISIL and reached regions near Akash oilfield, deploying 30 km away from Albu Kamal.

The sources further said that the army soldiers have shaken hands with Iraqi government forces in Southwest of Albu Kamal at common borders.

They added that the army units started fortifying their positions in the newly-captured region, preparing to march towards Albu Kamal. 

It is expected that the Syrian army men utilize their Iraqi counterparts' ground and aerial back up.

Based on field reports, the Iraqi army helicopters targeted ISIL's movements near Albu Kamal, while the Iraqi mobilization popular forces have fortified their positions in regions near Albu Kamal to prevent ISIL from moving Eastward and towards the Iraqi town of al-Qa'em.    

Relevant reports said on Sunday that the army soldiers found an explosive-laden vehicle of the ISIL terrorist group with chemical agents in their mop-up operation in Deir Ezzur city.

The army forces that were carrying out mop-up operation in Deir Ezzur city have found a vehicle laden with explosives containing chemical agents.

Full report at:

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13960815000247

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Russian Commander: Syria May Use Force against Kurds

Nov 06, 2017

"It is possible that the military options will be the only way facing Damascus to reach regions beyond its control in the North which are under the Kurds' control illegally and with the US support," Alexander Ivanov, the spokesman of Russia's airbase in Hmeimim, was quoted as saying by Soumeriyeh News on Monday.

In a relevant development on Monday, Jamal al Zuubi, a deputy of the Syrian parliament, refuted the report of the Turkish Anadolu news agency that the Syrian government is negotiating with the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) the possibility of their self-governance in the Northern part of the country and the possible exit of the Arab population from those territories.

"There are absolutely no grounds for such reports. Kurdish self-governance in Northern Syria is only a mere desire of some terrorist groups, Syria and its neighboring countries have an open and clear position on this issue which has not changed," Jamal al Zuubi told Sputnik.

He also refuted any possibility that these territories could put under the control of these groups by any representative of the Syrian government, adding that the terrorist organizations have occupied Syrian lands with the help of terror and arms.

"The Syrian government won't endure the presence of any illegal armed groups on its land," the parliamentarian assured.

Full report at:

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13960815001127

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Northwestern Syria: Senior Terrorist Commander, Bodyguards Assassinated in Sleep

Nov 06, 2017

The websites reported that an unknown gunman entered an Al-Nusra headquarter in the town of Ariha overnight and killed four al-Nusra terrorists while they were sleeping.

The websites added that one of the killed terrorists was a leading commander while the others were his bodyguards and fought directly under his command.

The Al-Nusra terrorists launched a vast search operation to find the attacker who fled the scene.

The same websites reported last week that Abu Abdulrahman al-Mohajer, a notorious commander of Al-Nusra Front was killed in a gun attack on his vehicle in Southern Idlib.

The websites disclosed that unknown attackers opened fire at the vehicle of Abu Abdulrahman al-Mohajer in the town of Khan Sheikhoun in Southern Idlib, killing him.

Full report at:

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13960815000643

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Egypt’s President Sisi says he will not seek a third term in office

7 November 2017

Egypt's President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi will not seek a third term in office, he said in an interview with CNBC on Monday evening.

Sisi said in the interview that he does not intend to change the Egyptian constitution and will preserve the two four-year presidential terms outlined in the document.

However, he did not confirm if he intends to run for a second-term after March 2018 when his first term expires.

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2017/11/07/Egypt-s-President-Sisi-says-he-will-not-seek-a-third-term-in-office.html

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First civilians return to Raqqa after mines cleared

7 November 2017

Hundreds of civilians have returned to a battered district of Syria’s Raqa in what a US-backed force said was the first wave of returns since it cleared explosives left by militants.

The ISIS group lost control of Raqqa - once its primary Syrian bastion - on October 17 after a months-long battle with the Syrian Democratic Forces.

Tens of thousands of people fled the city during the offensive, reducing Raqqa to a ghost town of collapsed buildings.

The SDF said in an online statement on Sunday that hundreds of families had returned to ql-Meshleb, Raqqa’s easternmost district.

“The SDF informed civilians from al-Meshleb that they could return to their homes after mine-removal teams had finished clearing the entire neighborhood of explosives left indiscriminately in civilian homes by ISIS,” the force’s press center said.

It said the district was the first to which residents had returned since the city’s “liberation from Daesh”, an Arabic acronym for ISIS.

After capturing Raqqa, the SDF sealed off the city to allow for mine removal operations in bombed-out neighborhoods.

Residents often amassed at checkpoints in recent weeks, waiting for permission to access the city and see if their homes were still standing.

Some civilians who sneaked in were killed by unexploded ordnance.

Mine-clearing and reconstruction operations in Raqqa are being coordinated by the Raqqa Civil Council, a provisional local government body appointed by the SDF but based outside the city.

“Yes, residents of Al-Meshleb returned to their homes - but the whole city hasn’t been cleared of mines yet,” senior council member Omar Alloush told AFP on Monday.

The deputy head of the council’s reconstruction committee, Nazmi Mohammad, said the body had dispatched 10 bulldozers to Raqqa to help clear rubble and blocked-off roads in al-Meshleb.

After capturing Raqqa in 2014, ISIS used the city as a hub for the administration of its self-styled “caliphate” in Iraq and Syria.

Following months of losses in the face of multiple offensives, touted ISIS fighters are now defending their last redoubts further down the Euphrates Valley.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2017/11/07/First-civilians-return-to-Raqqa-after-mines-cleared.html

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Lebanon president says politicians responsive to calls for calm after PM quit

6 November 2017

Lebanese President Michel Aoun said on Monday that political leaders had been responsive to calls for calm, strengthening security and national unity after the prime minister's shock resignation.

Saad al-Hariri quit on Saturday, saying he believed there was an assassination plot against him and accusing Iran with its Lebanese ally Hezbollah of sowing strife in the Arab world.

Meanwhile, Lebanon justice minister has said that Aoun will not take steps regarding Prime Minister Hariri’s resignation before Hariri returns. He also said resignation “must be voluntary in every sense”.

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2017/11/06/Lebanon-president-says-politicians-responsive-to-calls-for-calm-after-PM-quit.html

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Gargash: Iran's missile issue a priority after Houthi attack on Riyadh

6 November 2017

UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Dr. Anwar Gargash said that “the failed Houthi attempt to target Riyadh with Iranian ballistic missiles is a dangerous development that puts priorities in their right place; we have many challenges ahead of us but the most important of which is the danger of the Iranian expansion.”

The UAE minister said in his tweets that: “The Houthi group is so close to becoming a new Hezbollah. The fact that the Houthi militias refused a political solution during the previous period confirms that we can’t afford to be flexible with them. Only escalation will bring results.”

The UAE minister underlined that: “The ballistic Houthi Iranian attack on Riyadh makes the Iranian ballistic missile issue an urgent priority. We will not accept to live under risk of their program.”

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/gulf/2017/11/06/Garqash-Iran-s-missile-issue-a-priority-after-Houthi-attack-on-Riyadh.html

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Yazidis in Iraq: 'The genocide is ongoing'

by Samira Shackle 

Khanke camp, northern Iraq - Wahda cannot sleep. During the day, she and her husband are busy caring for their 10 daughters and two sons inside Khanke camp for displaced Iraqis, located in the country's north. It is at night that the memories come.

"I stay awake just thinking, and I'm so angry I can't sleep," Wahda, 41, told Al Jazeera. "I want to take revenge for my daughters."

Her family, who are Yazidi, lived until 2014 in Sinjar, where they owned a house, a car and a small business. The area was home to around 400,000 followers of the ancient Yazidi region before it was stormed by fighters with the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant group (ISIL, also known as ISIS) in August 2014.

ISIL fighters systematically murdered Yazidi men and elderly residents, and captured and enslaved women and children. The UN estimated that around 3,000 were murdered and 6,000 taken captive.

"Our neighbours were Sunni Muslims and they told ISIS where to find us," said Wahda, who did not provide a last name. "They wanted girls and they knew that we had so many girls."

Her family was taken into captivity, with the exception of her eldest daughter, Almas, who was visiting relatives. She was shot in the back of the head as she tried to escape.

Harrowing journey

Locked in a room, Wahda and her daughters witnessed the rape and murder of other women held captive. They were held in terrible conditions, regularly beaten and forced to convert to Islam. After two months, they escaped with the help of a friend who had learned of their captivity. After returning to Sinjar, Wahda managed to find her husband, who had survived ISIL's massacre.

Sinjar was destroyed. After a harrowing journey across the mountain, stepping over the corpses and shallow mass graves that littered the ground, the family made it to the relative safety of Khanke camp. As Wadha recounts these events, her five-year-old daughter begins to cry.

The mass murder and enslavement of Yazidis in Iraq drew international attention. France, Germany, Canada and Australia offered asylum, while international NGOs channelled funding towards the hundreds of thousands of internally displaced Yazidis. But despite this, many have struggled to recover.

"We have had no psychological or physical support," Wahda said. "I tried several NGOs, but either they didn't believe me that we were held in captivity, or they said that it was only two months, which is nothing, or that we weren't eligible because we were not raped. But my daughters' backs were black from bruises, and we have seen a lot."

Khider Domle, a Yazidi researcher, academic and activist based in Dohuk, told Al Jazeera that while members of the Yazidi community have been offered basic supports, it is "not for the long term".

"Our psychological, social and religious identity has been destroyed," Domle said. "People are living all over the place, and they don't know what the future is. There have been no initiatives from the Iraqi government to help the displaced people return back to Sinjar; no national reconciliation process; no attempt to rebuild ruined infrastructure."

With local and international attention diverted to the ongoing battle against ISIL in Iraq and Syria, local activists say that the momentum behind an organised aid response for Yazidis appears to have dissipated. In the meantime, people within the Yazidi community are working to help each other.

Domle, who runs a women's centre and has been gathering testimonies from victims, is also helping to rescue the women and children who remain enslaved.

"We don't know where they have been taken, so the genocide is ongoing," he said, noting that part of his role is to gather information, which he then passes on to rescuers on the ground in ISIL-controlled areas. "Always, non-stop, we are working, looking, cooperating."

Sexual slavery

Many Yazidi activists have overcome enormous tragedy themselves. Adiba Qasim was 19 when ISIL stormed Sinjar. Along with her parents and three siblings, she escaped just 15 minutes before fighters began taking hostages.

Of her extended family, 70 people went missing; a few have returned, but the majority are either in captivity or mass graves.

Qasim and her family fled to a refugee camp in Turkey, where she noticed a lack of translators for Kurmanji, the Kurdish dialect that most Yazidis speak. She also noticed that survivors of ISIL's sexual slavery often emerged from interviews with journalists or NGO workers even more distressed than when they started.

"They were being asked things like, 'How many times were you raped?'" Qasim said. "I decided to learn English so I could work with women."

Qasim had never been to school, as infrastructure in Sinjar was severely lacking even before the 2014 crisis, but she had an aptitude for languages. She found scraps of paper in bins and sometimes used old cigarette packets to practise writing English words. Within months, she could speak well enough to translate for NGO workers in the camp.

After a year, she decided to return to northern Iraq to help bring the stories of Yazidi women to the world. She now works as a fixer and translator for journalists and human rights organisations.

"It's hard to work on your own story, but I think this is the right place for me," Qasim said. "It has been three years, and everybody knows what happened to Yazidis. Most of these women have told their stories 100 times, but they never received any help."

When Wahda and her family found a base in Khanke camp, she embarked on a mission to find her eldest daughter's body. Someone had told her where Almas had been buried in a shallow grave. Against all odds, Wahda eventually found it, identifying her daughter's clothes and long black hair. She was able to give her daughter the proper burial rites, but the memory still haunts her.

A few months later, Wahda's daughter, Inas, signed up to fight with an all-female, all-Yazidi Peshmerga unit. Now 17, she spends a third of each month on the front lines. Her camouflage fatigues are hung prominently inside the rudimentary brick structure where the family now lives.

Full report at:

http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2017/11/yazidis-iraq-genocide-ongoing-171105064140012.html

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Africa

 

This Group is Encouraging Muslims and Christians to Find Peace

Nov 6, 2017

Nigeria is Africa’s most populous country with 185 million people. Its two leading religions are Christianity and Islam, and good relations between followers of these two religions are critical for peace in Nigeria.

Communities in Kaduna State, Nigeria, however, have witnessed ethno-religious conflict in recent years, with Muslim-Christian relations severely damaged as a result. But one group is working to mend these divisions.

The Peaceful Revival Foundation of Nigeria has made strides in southern Kaduna, bringing different religious and ethnic factions together.

“Peace Revival, for the past 5 years – 6 years now, has been going to southern Kaduna, trying to talk to people, meeting with traditional rulers, meeting with community leaders, and meeting with ethnic groups and other NGOs, talking to them, trying to source our problem,” said Pastor Yohanna Buru, founder of the Peaceful Revival Foundation.

“The cause of [conflict] is that some feel they are marginalized in southern Kaduna,” Pastor Buru said. “Mainly most of the Christians there, or the traditionalists there, or the people who claim to be the indigenes of that land.

“And possibly there’s no proper communication – or relationship – between the powerful in Kaduna and the government of today, or the people of northern Kaduna, so these are the contributing factors.”

Justice is a huge concern in the region, and acts of retaliation have sparked conflict.

“Between the government, society, Muslim or Christian – whatever – there is injustice there,” said Mohammed Abdullahi Gambo, a Fulani Muslim from the region. “When we have justice there’s no more conflict.”

Pastor Buru and his team encourage resolutions using dialogue and peaceful negotiation.

“We have been able to reach out to some of the traditional rulers in southern Kaduna, and discuss a lot with them, and try to negotiate for a better solution on how to be in peaceful co-existence with each other,” said Maryam Abubakar, a Fulani Muslim working with the foundation.

“To Muslim and Christians, they should sit down and talk, and they should bring in the traditionalists,” Pastor Buru said. “The moment you sit with the communities there, it has helped in peace-building – they open up, they tell you their problems, and maybe they themselves proffer a solution.”

Participant Aliyu Mohammed said the Muslim community hold Pastor Yohanna Buru in high esteem because of his peace-building work in the area.

“We believe there is the need for other interfaith groups to emulate him in promoting peaceful co-existence in the area,” said Mohammed. “He actually understood the terrain very well because he is also from the area and that has helped him in bringing all aggrieved parties on same table to dialogue.”

“Without peace in [this] environment, we can’t go forward, we can’t forge ahead,” said Pastor Joel Vigo, a Christian leader in the area. “Without peace, you can’t work, or look for something to eat. But when there is peace, life will be ok.”

“Let us understand one another, so that there will be peaceful co-existence between the traditionalists, the Christian, the Muslim, the youths, and the old,” said Reverend Ishaku, a Christian leader.

https://www.goodnewsnetwork.org/group-encouraging-muslims-christians-find-peace/

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Nigerian oil rebels told to give peace talks a chance

06 November 2017

Community leaders in Nigeria's oil-rich south on Monday urged militants not to resume attacks on pipelines but give peace talks with the government another chance.

But Edwin Clark, the head of the Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF) set up last year to chart a way forward with the government, said they should be patient.

The government may have so far failed to act on a list of 16 recommendations to revive the region "but we... are not expecting that everything will be done in one year", he added.

"We are therefore appealing to the people of PANDEF and the people of Niger Delta that the Niger Delta Avengers... should reconsider their decision to resume hostilities," he said.

"Let us give the federal government another chance," he was quoted as telling the Vanguard newspaper.

http://www.worldbulletin.net/africa/195679/nigerian-oil-rebels-told-to-give-peace-talks-a-chance

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Nigeria: Again Shiites Accuse Police of Killing Members

6 NOVEMBER 2017

By Nasir Ibrahim

The Islamic Movement in Nigeria has accused mobile police officers of killing two of its members.

A statement sent to PREMIUM TIMES by the spokesperson of the movement, Ibrahim Musa, said the shooting was carried out by mobile police officers in Kano who were drafted to stop the Shiite group's Arbaeen annual trek that started on Sunday.

"Thousands of IMN members started the trek from Kofar Mazugal inside Kano metropolis in the morning around 10:00 a.m., prayed afternoon prayers at Kofar Nasarawa and terminated today's trek at the popular Lado overhead bridge.

"It was while people were dispersing that mobile policemen arrived the scene and started firing teargas and eventually live bullets. A muslim brother and sister were confirmed shot and killed by the police and their corpses taken by their attackers. Many people were reportedly injured", the statement said.

"However while terminating today's trek, a leading member of IMN in Kano Sunusi Abdulqadir, called on members of IMN to go back home peacefully as they came, and return tomorrow to continue the march to Zaria," the statement added.

The police spokesperson in Kano, Magaji Majia, on Monday said that he is yet to get the details of what happened.

"I only know that Kano State Police Command has warned them to stop the planned procession," he said.

On Saturday, the leader of the IMN in Kano, Sunusi Abdulkadir, announced that the Shiites from Borno, Yobe, Bauchi and Jigawa States will commence the procession from Kano to a town along Zaria road.

He said the procession will not reach Zaria town as they used to do in the past.

Full report at:

http://allafrica.com/stories/201711060782.html

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At least seven killed in two separate attacks in Mali

Nov 6, 2017

A series of attacks have left at least seven people dead and several others injured in Mali as militants continue to wreak havoc across the West African country.

In the first attack, at least four people lost their lives after a bus traveling in the restive north was blown by a mine on Monday. Local officials said the deadly incident happened near Ansongo, a small town about 100 kilometers from Gao, the regional hub.

"At least four civilians, including a teenage girl, were killed. There were injured as well,” said a Malian military officer in the area.

A local official said that it was militants who “laid the bomb in order to terrorize local people, whom they accuse of providing information to the security forces."

Oumar Guire, a member of the Gao region transport association, said passengers were heading to a weekly fair in a location several dozen kilometers from Ansongo when the attack took place.

Another attack in the country's center killed at least three civilians as two trucks chartered by the UN peacekeeping mission in Mali (MINUSMA) came under assault.

"The trucks were then burnt by the attackers," a customs official said, adding that the driver of one of the vehicles was among the casualties.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Abdoulaye Idrissa Maiga canceled a visit to the central town of Niafounke after one of the security vehicles being sent to the prime ministerial team hit a mine.

An official from the Timbuktu governorate said, "A soldier lost a leg and two others suffered fractures."

"As a precautionary measure, the prime minister's visit was canceled."

The official also noted that three other landmines had been found near the site of the explosion.

In 2012, key cities in Mali's north fell under the control of militant groups linked to al-Qaeda, who exploited an ethnic Tuareg-led rebel uprising.

Though the extremists were largely ousted by a French-led military operation in January 2013, extremist groups continue to mount attacks on civilians and security forces in the arid remote north.

Full report at:

http://www.presstv.com/Detail/2017/11/06/541243/Mali-alQaeda-Gao-Daesh

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At least 5 dead after refugee boat sinks off Libya

Nov 6, 2017

At least five refugees have died and an unknown number are feared missing after their boat capsized off western Libya, say Libyan coastguard officials and a charity.

The rubber boat was carrying about 140 people when it overturned close to the border between Libyan and international waters, Libyan officials said on Monday. The Libyan coastguard rescued 45 survivors and brought them back to Tripoli harbor.

Seawatch, a German non-governmental organization that has a rescue vessel in the Mediterranean, said at least five refugees, including a toddler, died. Seawatch rescued 58 people, the group said in a statement.

The survivors brought to Tripoli were from West African countries, including Nigeria and Senegal.

Full report at:

http://www.presstv.com/Detail/2017/11/06/541230/Libya-migrants-boat-sinking-Tripoli-Mediterranean-rescue-vessel

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Libyan minister survives assassination attempt

06 November 2017

Faraj Egaim, deputy interior minister of Libya’s UN-backed unity government, survived an assassination attempt on Sunday when a car bomb hit his convoy in Libya's Mediterranean city Benghazi.

The attack took place in Sidi Khalifa district east of Benghazi, Egaim told Libya’s Nebe TV channel.

He said he was unhurt but four of his guards were wounded.

Salah Bulghaib, chief of military intelligence, accused Khalifa Haftar, a military commander for Libya’s Tobruk-based government of being behind the assassination attempt.

Bulghaib claimed that according to intelligence reports they had received, the attack targeted him, Egaim and the heads of Egaim's Al-Awaqir tribe.

The attempt was a retaliation for the arrest of one of the perpetrators of the al-Abyar massacre, Bulghaib said.

In October, a mass grave with 37 bodies -- handcuffed and shot in the head -- was discovered in al-Abyar, a district in Benghazi.

Libya has been dogged by violence since 2011, when a bloody uprising led to the ouster and death of longstanding President Muammar Gaddafi after more than four decades in power.

Full report at:

http://www.worldbulletin.net/africa/195660/nigerian-oil-rebels-told-to-give-peace-talks-a-chance

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Nigeria: Sheikh Ahmad Among World Most Influential Muslims

6 NOVEMBER 2017

By Abdullateef Aliyu

Lagos — For a second year running, the National Missioner, Ansar-ud-Deen Society of Nigeria and Overseas, Sheikh Abdur-Rahman Ahmad, has been listed among the 500 most influential Muslims in the world.

This was contained in the ninth annual issue of The Muslim 500: The World's Most Influential Muslims 2018, published by the Royal Islamic Strategic Studies Centre, Amman, Jordan.

The publication put the current population of world Muslims at approximately 1.84 billion making up 24.38 per cent of the world's population.

The Grand Sheikh of the Al-Azhar University, Professor Sheikh Ahmad Muhammad Al-Tayyeb retains the first spot as the most influential Muslim on the face of the earth, while King Salman bin Abdul-Aziz Al-Saud of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, emerged as the second most influential Muslim. He was rated third in the 2017 rankings.

Aside the first 50 rankings, the latest edition of the publication also contains 25 Honourable Mentions, both of which were categorised in terms of Rulers and Politicians; Scholars and Preachers; and Social Issues, Media, Social Media, Arts, Culture and Sports.

The final 450 rankings were categorised into Scholarly; Administration of Religious Affairs; Preachers and Religious Guides; Social Issues; Business; and Philanthropy, Charity and Development, among others.

In Nigeria, Sheikh Ahmad was listed under Administration of Religious Affairs category, alongside Emir of Kano, Alhaji Muhammadu Sanusi II, JAMB Registrar, Professor Is-haq Oloyede, and a former head of the Nigerian High Commission in London, Prince Bola Ajibola.

Sheikh Tahir Usman Bauchi and Sheikh Yakubu Musa Katsina, were the only Nigerians listed under Preachers and Spiritual Guides category, while the Co-director of the Muslim-Christian Interfaith Mediation Centre in Kaduna, Imam Muhammad Ashafa, is the only Nigerian listed under Social Issues category.

Full report at:

http://allafrica.com/stories/201711070012.html

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North America

 

Muslims decry 'double standard' after attacks

Nov. 6, 2017

In the days after the recent terror attack in New York City, Paterson mosques fielded death threats, and Muslim Americans were again called to explain the actions of one individual whose violent acts don't reflect the tenets of their faith.

Having to denounce an act committed in the name of their faith is a double standard, say Muslim leaders, who reluctantly step into that role even as other groups aren't asked to do the same.

“Every time one of these idiots does something they claim to be doing in whatever religion, our community is forced — there's a sense of obligation — that we have to come out and condemn it, which I believe is unfair,” said Salah Mustafa, outreach director at the Islamic Center of Passaic County, a mosque in Paterson. “It’s not as if other communities have to condemn these acts.”

On Sunday, those concerns were even more apparent, when Devin Patrick Kelley, a non-Muslim man, opened fire at a Texas church, killing 26 people and wounding about 20 others. The event has not been labeled terrorism, and no faith leaders are being asked to condemn the person’s actions. Similarly, Stephen Paddock, who killed 58 people at a country music festival in Las Vegas on Oct. 1, has not been labeled a terrorist.

It stands in contrast with the attack a week ago, when Sayfullo Saipov allegedly struck and killed eight people with a rented truck in lower Manhattan on Halloween. Saipov, who recently moved to Paterson and who authorities say was inspired by ISIS, was immediately labeled a terrorist.

Some Muslim leaders publicly decried terrorism, including the imam of the Omar Mosque in Paterson, where some neighbors said Saipov had prayed. Other Muslim groups released statements against the attack, saying it was a distortion of their faith.

“If someone is saying 'Allahu Akbar' and doing this in the name of Islam, we have to remind people that the vast majority of Muslims regard this as a perversion of Islam," said James Sues, executive director of the New Jersey chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, referring to the popular Arabic phrase meaning "God is the greatest." "I can’t imagine any line of logic that supports the ideology that says killing innocent people is a good thing.” 

“I hope that day will come soon where we are not forced to stand up and make claims against someone who we have nothing to do with and we reject he or she everything that they have done,” Mustafa said. “We absolutely reject it.”

A ‘perversion of Islam’

After the attack in New York, three New Jersey mosques reported that they received calls threatening violence and arson, and local Muslim residents said they felt singled out for scrutiny over their faith.

Mohammad Ali Chaudry, the head of the New Jersey Interfaith Coalition, representing around 150 groups, issued a statement to “condemn unequivocally and in the strongest possible way the terrorist attack committed in New York.”

Chaudry, the president of a mosque in Basking Ridge, said he was frustrated with the way Muslims were treated and looked upon after incidents like the attack in New York. It felt to him and others like a “double standard” when Muslims were called terrorist before an investigation is even done.

“When the shooter is white, 'Oh, it’s a domestic dispute and had nothing to with anything else.' When it’s a Muslim name, it’s automatically terrorism and we start calling them animals,” he said, referring to a comment by President Donald Trump calling Saipov a “degenerate animal.”

“It’s incredible,” Chaudry said. “Look, most of these acts are being committed by non-Muslim whites.”

Chaudry and the interfaith coalition condemn every mass-casualty attack, not just ones by people claiming to be Muslim. On Monday, he was planning to send a condemnation against the attack at the church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, on the coalition's behalf.

Imam Mohammad Qatanani, who leads the Islamic Center of Passaic County, spoke outside the mosque Saturday after a meeting with law enforcement. He said Muslims alone shouldn’t be asked to condemn attacks because “it is not related to Islam or to our way.” “We have to stand up together … There is not any justification. There is no tolerance for terrorist attacks or any hatred crimes,” he said.

Labeling terrorism

In the hours after the shooting Sunday, many flocked to social media to question why the Las Vegas and Sutherland Springs attackers weren’t being called terrorists.

“You’d be hard-pressed to tell me those people were not terrorized,” said Sues. “Those people in Las Vegas at that concert were certainly terrorized. The fact they were not called terrorist by everybody — that kind of exposed the fact that 'terrorism' is a word reserved exclusively for Muslims.”

Federal law defines domestic terrorism as violent acts occurring within the United States intended to intimidate or coerce a government or the civilian population to influence policy.

Authorities say the shooting on Sunday did not appear to be fueled by racial or religious issues. They noted that there had been domestic problems and that the shooter had sent threatening messages to his mother-in-law, who attended the church.

Dylan Roof did not face terrorism charges for his killing spree at a historic African-American church in Charleston, South Carolina, in 2015. Instead, he was charged with hate crimes.

Bias extends even beyond the terrorism label, said some critics, noting that attacks by Muslims get far more media attention. Attacks carried out by Muslims receive more than five times as much media coverage as those carried out by non-Muslims in the United States, according to a July study by researchers at Georgia State University.

Muslim Americans express frustration that Trump rushed to condemn the attack in New York as terrorism and, within hours, called for legislative action to end an immigrant visa program that Saipov had used to enter the country.

The impact is far-reaching. The Islamic Center of Passaic County saw its attendance at Friday prayers drop 15 to 20 percent, said Mustafa. Other groups fear that generalizations about Muslims are fueling bias incidents and alienating Muslim children.

"To Trump and others who are in leadership of this country," Qatanani said, "we want you to understand that Muslims are part of this county. We are all one."

http://www.northjersey.com/story/news/2017/11/06/muslims-decry-double-standard-after-terror-attacks/836857001/

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Mattis Faces Questions From Allies on Islamic State Strategy

Nov. 6, 2017

HELSINKI (AP) — As the Islamic State group loses its remaining strongholds in Iraq and Syria, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis is facing a growing chorus of questions from NATO allies and partners about what the next steps will be in the region to preserve peace and ensure the militants don't rise again.

Heading into a week of meetings with Nordic countries and allies across Europe, Mattis must begin to articulate what has been a murky American policy on how the future of Syria unfolds.

Speaking to reporters traveling with him to Finland, Mattis said the main question from U.S. allies is: what comes next? And he said the key is to get the peace process on track.

"We're trying to get this into the diplomatic mode so we can get things sorted out," said Mattis, who will meet with NATO defense ministers later this week. "and make certain (that) minorities -- whoever they are -- are not just subject to more of what we've seen" under Syrian President Bashar Assad until now.

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson in late October repeated Washington's call for Assad to surrender control, looking past recent battlefield gains by his Russian-backed forces to insist that "the reign of the Assad family is coming to an end."

Tillerson made the comments after meeting with the U.N.'s envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura, who later announced plans to resume U.N.-mediated peace talks Nov. 28. It will be the eighth such round under his mediation in Geneva since early 2016.

Mattis said intelligence assessments two to three months ago made it clear that the Islamic State group was "going down." He said information based on the number of IS individuals taken prisoner and the number of fighters who were getting wounded or were deserting the group made it clear that "the whole bottom was dropping out."

But while he said the effort now is to get the diplomatic process shifted to Geneva and the United Nations, he offered few details that suggest the effort is moving forward.

In addition to the diplomatic efforts, Mattis said the U.S. is still working to resolve conflicts with Russia in the increasingly crowded skies over the Iraq and Syria border, where a lot of the fighting has shifted.

On Friday, Assad's military announced the capture of the eastern Syrian city of Deir el-Zour, while Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi proclaimed victory in retaking the town of Qaim on the border, the militants' last significant urban area in Iraq.

Focus has now turned to Boukamal, the last urban center for the militants in both Iraq and Syria where Syrian troops —backed by Russia and Iranian-supported militias — and U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces are vying for control of the strategic border town.

The proximity of forces in the area has raised concerns about potential clashes between them as they approach Boukamal from opposite sides of the Euphrates River, and now from across the border with Iraq.

Mattis said that as forces close in, the fighting is getting "much more complex," and there is a lot of effort on settling air space issues with the Russians.

He also declined to say whether the U.S. will begin to take back weapons provided to Syrian Kurdish fighters, known as the YPG. The U.S. has argued that the YPG has been the most effective fighting group in the battle to oust IS from Raqqa, but Turkey opposed the arming effort because it believes the YPG is linked to a militant group in Turkey.

The U.S. has pledged to carefully monitor the weapons, to insure that they don't make their way to the hands of insurgents in Turkey, known as the PKK. The U.S. also considers the PKK a terrorist organization, and has vowed it would never provide weapons to that group.

Turkish officials have said that Mattis reassured them by letter that arms given to the Syrian Kurds would be taken back and that the U.S. would provide Turkey with a regular list of arms given to the fighters.

While in Finland, Mattis will attend a meeting of a dozen northern European nations, which are primarily concerned about threats from Russia.

"They are focused on the north," said Mattis, adding that he plans to listen to their thoughts on the region and determine how the U.S. can help, including what types of training America could provide.

"It is an opportunity to reiterate where we stand by our friends," said Mattis, "if any nation including Russia seeks to undermine the rules of international order."

During a press briefing later on Monday, Denmark Defense Minister Claus Hjord Frederiksen told reporters that allies must continue to be present in the region because of the risk that IS would rise again.

Full report at:

https://www.usnews.com/news/world/articles/2017-11-06/mattis-faces-questions-from-allies-on-islamic-state-strategy

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It’s not Muslims, Mexicans or immigrants making the US unsafe – it’s men

Nov 7, 2017

Whenever there’s a mass shooting in the US we begin to debate as a society what the killer’s motivations could have been. If he is brown or black there’s a high chance that the tabloid press will cry “terrorist”. Donald Trump will begin Tweeting rabidly about how we should close US borders to all (read: black or brown) immigrants. “The wall, the wall!”, his supporters will cry. Breitbert will release an article trying to convince us that every Muslim is a terrorist plotting to kill us all. And a member of Ukip will be forced to issue an apology after making yet another “mistake” like retweeting “If you want a Jihadi for a neighbour, vote Labour”. For the record I come from a family of Muslim immigrants, and I can confirm that none of us are about to run off and join Isis (why do I even have to reassure people of that?)

If the shooter is white, however, it will be a different story – poor, lonely, teased American guy Tom had a mental health problem. He always got good grades in school and, although he was quiet, nobody could have possibly imagined him doing such a thing, including his mum, partner, brother, uncle, aunt, 12th cousin, nursery teacher, baby sitter, the guy who bagged his groceries in Walmart, the woman who sat in one lecture with him for a single term when he was at university, and the family who lived six streets away from him when he was in primary school. Because, let’s be honest, every one of these people and more will be interviewed to investigate “what went wrong” with this unfortunate, mentally ill, all-American, middle class, white school boy.

Once again, white killers will be humanised and black or brown killers will be dehumanised.

But even many of those quick to point out this racism will look to other reasons why the shooter could have done what he did. Most of us on all sides of the political spectrum in the UK frown on the US for its gun laws – and rightly so. Every time there’s a mass shooting, shares in gun companies spike up. Most mass shooters in US history have bought their weapons legally and without restriction. It’s a dangerous industry, to say the least.

But it’s also not the root of the cause. We need only look to Switzerland to disprove the theory that if people have easier access to guns, they are more likely to kill others. It has one of the highest rates of gun ownership in the world, but you wouldn’t think it (I didn’t know, until I started research on this article). When’s the last time you heard of a mass shooting in Switzerland? Not only does the country have a low rate of firearm-related deaths, but it frequently tops the list as one of the countries with the world’s lowest crime rates.

It boils down to this: if you put a gun in front of me, I wouldn’t pick it up and shoot a load of people. If you put a gun in front of most people, they wouldn’t pick it up and shoot a load of people. So what makes some people commit mass shootings – what is the common factor that connects all the people who’ve killed?

You might have noticed that throughout this piece I’ve been referring to the mass shooters as “he”. And that’s because it’s not mental health, race, religion or guns that brings any of these shooters together – it’s gender.

In fact, in a study of 62 cases of US mass shootings from 1982-2012, it was noted that only one shooter was a woman. All the others were men. Of these men, 44 out of 61 were white.

But if it has been proven that 98 per cent of mass shooting are committed by men, why isn’t the media exploding with stories about why men are to blame? Why is Donald Trump blaming Muslims and Mexicans, when the problem here is clearly to do with gender above all else? Why are men so much more likely to kill others than women? And why are we not doing something about it?

The truth is – women have been talking about this for a long time. A few years ago, Janey Stephenson wrote a piece about the link between toxic masculinity and violent attacks. After the Las Vegas shooting, Rachael Revesz compiled a list of mass shooters, all men, all with a history of domestic violence.

Let’s not forget that in the US it’s not just adults who are committing these crimes – the youngest shooter in the above mentioned study was Andrew Golden, who was just 11 years old when him and school friend Mitchell Johnson, 13, killed five other children at their school. How could two people so young commit such an act? What would make them take that gun, and use it for murder?

Indeed, not only are most adult mass shooters in the US men, but most school shooters are boys too. And not only are many adult male shooters perpetrators of domestic or sexual violence, but young boys can be too. A year before him and Andrew Golden committed their mass shooting, 13-year-old Mitchell Johnson was charged with molesting a 3-year-old girl. The case was expunged because of his age.

But as we’ve seen perfectly illustrated in the book We Need to Talk about Kevin, we’d sooner blame young boy’s mums than blame masculinity when it comes to pointing fingers after a mass shooting. When Stephen Paddock murdered 58 people earlier this year, the media, the public and the police zoned in on his girlfriend Marilou Danley. It’s important to note here that his brother, who has been paid less attention, was arrested a few weeks ago on child pornography charges.

Full report at:

http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/texas-church-shooting-men-mass-shooting-gun-laws-domestic-violence-a8040856.html

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Honduran pleads not guilty in Florida mall bomb plot case

November 6, 2017

MIAMI — A Honduran man has pleaded not guilty to charges that he plotted to bomb a busy Florida mall food court in support of the Islamic State extremist group.

Court records show 53-year-old Vicente Adolfo Solano entered the plea at a hearing Monday to a charge of attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction. The FBI says Solano wanted to detonate a bomb last month at the Dolphin Mall near Miami, but was working with undercover FBI operatives who gave him a fake bomb before his arrest.

Solano faces a maximum life prison sentence if convicted. No trial date has been set.

Despite Solano’s claims of Islamic State sympathies, the FBI says no links to foreign terrorist groups have been found. There is also no indication Solano converted to Islam.

Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/honduran-pleads-not-guilty-in-florida-mall-bomb-plot-case/2017/11/06/9aa39562-c318-11e7-9922-4151f5ca6168_story.html?utm_term=.d86de7db33e2

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American democracy has a long history with Islam and Shariah law

November 6, 2017

From the founding of the United States as a nation, there has been Islamic influence.

The Islamic nation of Morocco was the first to recognize America as a nation, in 1777. Muslims fought in the Revolutionary War to win our freedom. Muslims were brought to America during the slave trade. Some of the American founding fathers had copies of the Quran, most notably Thomas Jefferson.

The U.S. Constitution itself is said to be influenced by the spirit of the Holy Quran in that it recognizes the inherent rights of the individual, the community, and the universal thread of humanity that connects us all.

Islam itself goes beyond the bounds of religion, geography and ethnicity; it addresses the nature of the human being to submit only to God. In this sense it outlaws slavery, it equalizes men and women, and it imposes no compulsion on the individual to serve anyone, including God.

Shariah law, contrary to popular belief, is not some strict law put down in books that metes out punishment if someone steps outside the law. Shariah is the guidance of the Holy Quran itself that shows the person the path of life recommended by Allah. It is only when that person ignores the guidance that they suffer the consequences of their own disobedience. When societal laws are broken, then the law of the land is applicable.

Full report at:

http://www.sfchronicle.com/opinion/openforum/article/American-democracy-has-a-long-history-with-Islam-12336535.php

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US resumes limited visa services in Turkey

Nov 6, 2017

The United States says it will resume visa services on a limited basis in Turkey following nearly a month-long suspension following a diplomatic row between the two NATO members.

The US embassy in Ankara announced its decision in an email on Monday, in what could signal a tentative improvement in the ongoing diplomatic crisis between the two countries.

The Turkish foreign ministry said it may reciprocate the move by Washington and partially ease issuance of visas for American citizens.

Washington’s decision to stop issuing US visas for Turkish citizens took effect from October 8 and was followed by a tit-for-tat move by Ankara to stop giving Turkish visas to Americans.

The US embassy made the move after one of the Turkish staffers at the US consulate in Istanbul was arrested.

The employee was charged with links to US-based Turkish preacher Fethullah Gulen, blamed by Ankara for last year's failed coup against Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

The employee remains in jail.

Ankara has also pressed Washington for the extradition of Gulen, who is based in Saylorsburg, Pennsylvania, and has denied any link to the failed coup.

Turkey, which remains in a state of emergency since the coup, has been engaged in suppressing the media and opposition groups suspected of having played a role in the failed coup.

Full report at:

http://www.presstv.com/Detail/2017/11/06/541227/US-Turkey-visas

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Turkish premier to meet US' Mike Pence at White House

06 November 2017

Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim will visit the U.S. next Tuesday amid the ongoing visa dispute between the two countries, according to Prime Ministry sources.

Yildirim is scheduled to meet U.S. Vice President Mike Pence during his four-day visit, the sources said Sunday, requesting anonymity due to restrictions on speaking to the media.

The two leaders will discuss bilateral political, economic, and military ties, as well as regional issues such as Syria and Iraq. They are also to exchange views on critical issues including counter-terrorist efforts -- against the FETO, ISIL, and the PKK/PYD -- refugees, and the current visa row.

Turkey has long sought the extradition of Fetullah Gulen, the head of FETO, the terrorist group behind last year’s defeated coup, which martyred 250 people.

Ankara has complained of the U.S. dragging its feet on the request.

Turkey has also protested the U.S. supporting the PKK/PYD.

Ankara considers the PKK/PYD the Syrian offshoot of the PKK, a designated terrorist organization by Turkey and the U.S., while the U.S. sees it as a separate group and “reliable ally” in its fight against ISIL in Syria.

Full report at:

http://www.worldbulletin.net/america-canada/195663/turkish-premier-to-meet-us-mike-pence-at-white-house

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Europe

 

U.S. Jihadists More Isolated Than Europe Counterparts

NOV 06 2017

Sayfullo Saipov, the radicalized Uzbek who mowed down eight people on a New York bike path, apparently developed his plot in relative isolation, like most other jihadist attackers in the United States. But in Europe many have had community support, an underground network, or even a hardline Islamist to guide them, as in the twin attacks in Spain in August.

What makes the difference?

Experts say that in part, a better rooted, more affluent U.S. Muslim community shows no tolerance for anyone exhibiting sympathy for causes like the Islamic State group or Al Qaeda. And tougher and expansive U.S. laws and more aggressive law enforcement than Europe have also made a difference. Together, they leave aspiring jihadists in the United States isolated with their social media links and, at times, just a few friends in the know.

Saipov, who crashed a rented truck down a busy New York bike path on Tuesday, is so far believed by investigators to have been “self-radicalized” online without any apparent support inside the United States. Analysts say that’s because it is much harder to safely find support.

“We tend not to have large clusters in the U.S. … For the most part you are talking about ones and twos,” said Seamus Hughes, deputy director of the Program on Extremism at George Washington University. Hughes said one fundamental reason is distance: the country is much farther away from jihadist networks and it is much harder to travel to the Middle East because of official no-fly lists.

European Muslims find it much easier to travel to areas where radical groups like Islamic State group operate. As a consequence, he said, “We don’t have the kind of in-person recruitment done in Europe.”

Another factor is the expansive use of the charge of “material support of terrorism,” a catch-all that “allows the FBI to interject themselves at an earlier stage than our European partners,” Hughes said.

For critics, the FBI is too aggressive and stretches the law with undercover schemes that entrap people who are not really threats. But the net effect is to prevent them from establishing connections and frightening others thinking of trying to build networks. According to Daveed Gartenstein-Ross, a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies think tank, heavier prison sentences in terror cases in the U.S. makes a difference.

U.S. sentences are 15-20 years, compared to four to seven years in Europe, which releases terror convicts back into the community much more quickly. That helps sustain dangerous Islamist cells, he said. That is not to say the United States has not had its own cells or ringleaders, Gartenstein-Ross notes.

Anwar al Awlaki, one of the most influential jihadist thinkers and propagandists, was born and raised in the United States before he joined Al Qaeda in Yemen and was killed in a 2011 drone strike. And in the late 2000s a cell that involved maybe 20 people developed around the Somali community in Minneapolis that became an effective body to recruit people to join I.S.

“That was clearly a network,” like those in Europe, he said. “They have not been prevented, they still exist.”

The Somali cell more resembled those in Europe, rooted in a more recent, less wealthy, poorly educated immigrant community. For the most part American Muslim communities are wealthier, and better educated on average than European communities. That makes them less alienated and better-integrated, according to Corey Saylor, an expert on Islamophobia at the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR)

U.S. Muslim groups will more readily chase out of the community and the mosque someone who espouses radical ideas. “If somebody in the congregation is talking about it, they get pushed out fairly quickly. There is no hospitality” for it, he said.

While neither side talks about it much, U.S. Muslim communities have been more willing to report possible threats to law enforcement than in Europe. That was helped by outreach programs under president Barack Obama, according to Gartenstein-Ross. That may have ebbed under President Donald Trump, however, given his open mistrust of Muslims. “The lack of trust has impeded cooperation; suspicion has likely increased,” he said.

http://newsweekpakistan.com/u-s-jihadists-more-isolated-than-europe-counterparts/

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Tariq Ramadan: Islamic scholar in post-Weinstein abuse storm

November 7, 2017

LONDON, Nov 7 — Islamic scholar Tariq Ramadan has long been a media personality around Europe and beyond, but the controversial intellectual is now fighting to save his career after two women accused him of rape.

An Oxford professor, Ramadan is the grandson of Hassan al-Banna, the founder of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood Islamist movement.

Two French women in the past month have filed rape charges against the 55-year-old,  born in Switzerland, while further allegations of sexual misconduct against teenage girls in the 1980s and 1990s have emerged in the Swiss media.

A father of four married for decades to a French Muslim convert, Ramadan has furiously denied the allegations as a “campaign of lies launched by my adversaries” and is battling them in the courts.

His conservative brand of Islam has garnered legions of fans. He counts two million followers on Facebook, many of whom have flocked to his defence decrying a “Zionist plot” to ruin him.

But critics accuse him of changing his tune depending on who is listening, adopting a moderate tone on French TV while preaching a more radical line when addressing Muslims in Arabic.

The French writer Caroline Fourest, a vocal critic who has written a book about Ramadan, says the charisma that attracts crowds of students is also what drew his alleged victims to him.

“These women are under his spell. At the beginning they are fascinated — they may even be attracted to him,” she told AFP.

The two women who accuse Ramadan of rape have come forward in the wake of the global sex abuse allegations unleashed by the scandal engulfing Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein.  They say they first approached the Islamic scholar seeking religious advice.

‘Going to die’

In the case of Muslim feminist activist Henda Ayari, online exchanges over whether to wear the veil led to him suggesting they meet at a hotel in Paris in 2012.

She told Le Parisien newspaper that she was raped violently. “He choked me so hard that I thought I was going to die.” she alleged.

A second accuser, a disabled woman who has remained anonymous, has alleged Ramadan beat her while raping her multiple times in a hotel in Lyon in 2009.

“He kicked my crutches and threw himself on top of me saying, ‘You made me wait, it’s going to cost you’,” she told Le Monde.

A legal source told AFP investigators are looking into the women’s allegations jointly as part of a preliminary probe for rape, sexual assault, violence and death threats.

Ramadan’s lawyers have hit back with charges of witness tampering to demand an investigation into whether the women could have colluded.

They are notably targeting Fourest, who said she had been in contact since 2009 with three alleged victims.

Death threats

Never one to shy from controversy, satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo depicted Ramadan on this week’s front cover with a giant erection, saying, “I am the sixth pillar of Islam.”

Its editor said the magazine, which suffered a deadly jihadist attack in 2015, had received fresh death threats for the cartoon.

Former prime minister Manuel Valls, who ruled out granting Ramadan his request for French citizenship last year, decried “sections of the press” for granting Ramadan ample air time in the past.

He blasted Ramadan yesterday as a “so-called intellectual” who had “done terrible harm to our youth with his tapes, his preaching in our mosques, his invitations to appear on screen”.

Ramadan remains in his post at Britain’s prestigious Oxford University, where he teaches contemporary Islamic studies.

Over the years Ramadan has repeatedly been accused of anti-Semitism, which he has rejected, fiercely defending his right to criticise the state of Israel.

Critics further charge that he has encouraged sectarianism and encouraged young women to hide themselves behind the veil.

He has brushed these claims aside, saying he encourages young Muslims to take an active role in society, that the veil is a matter of choice and that he rejects violence and encourages worshippers to read Islamic texts “in context”.

Ramadan first entered the public eye when he was banned from entering France in 1995 following Islamist bombings in Paris.

Authorities had apparently confused him with his more radical brother Hani, who once wrote a column in Le Monde justifying the stoning of women.

Ramadan was later banned from entering the United States from 2004 to 2010 on ideological grounds.

Full report at:

http://www.themalaymailonline.com/world/article/tariq-ramadan-islamic-scholar-in-post-weinstein-abuse-storm#hv8wxF8Vyk8Vj1Yv.97

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British Muslims vow to fight high court judgement

Muna Habib

NOVEMBER 6, 2017

BIRMINGHAM: Around 100 parents, teachers and trustees of the UK’s first state-funded Islamic school, Al-Hijra, gathered this week inside a small library in Birmingham to discuss a recent British high court ruling that declared their school’s segregation policy “unlawful sex discrimination”.

Al-Hijra trustee board member Yaseer Latif said: “We have a responsibility to our school and to our community.”

“If the ruling remains unchallenged, it will establish a dangerous precedent for all faith-based schools.”

Furthermore, he said the deadline for the appeal was November 10, 2017. “The legal process may take another several months during which there will be no immediate changes at the school,” he said.

The surprise high court ruling overturned an earlier ruling involving Al-Hijrah School that had been criticised by the UK government’s Office for Standards in Education, (Ofsted) school inspectors for failing to uphold British values. This time the Court of Appeal agreed with Ofsted.

Ofsted’s chief inspector Amanda Spielman said: “Ofsted’s job is to make sure that all schools properly prepare children for life in modern Britain. Educational institutions should never treat pupils less favorably because of their sex, or for any other reason.”

On appeal, Ofsted argued that the school had breached the 2010 Equalities Act by strictly segregating pupils from the age of nine.

Al-Hijrah, a co-educational Islamic faith-based school in Beardsley Green, Birmingham, UK, teaches children ages five to sixteen. From age nine pupils are separated for all lessons, breaks and school excursions. There around 300 pupils, out of which 98% are Pakistani. The schools receive over 1,000 applications for 60 places, making it the most over-subscribed in the UK.

Al-Hijrah’s legal tussle with Ofsted started in 2016 after Ofsted rated the school “inadequate” – the lowest possible rating, for its practice of segregation.

It remains unclear why Ofsted inspectors identified the issue of segregation after over a decade of repeated inspections at the Islamic faith-based school. The school had become state funded in 2001. Ofsted and the Department for Education were criticised by judges for failing to identify the issue earlier and having “de facto sanctioned and accepted a state of affairs which is unlawful”.

Prof John Holmwood, author of ‘Countering Extremism in British Schools? The Truth about the Birmingham Trojan Horse Affair’, said that when the school first became state-funded in 2001, Britain was a tolerant country. “People recognised that the school and its methods of teaching were required in a predominantly Pakistani area. Many people were not aware of its anomaly and accepted Al-Hijra’s policy without question. However, now, the white British secularists are concerned their secularism is being undermined by religiosity in ethnic minority populations,” he said.

Prof Holmwood said: “Since ‘Trojan Horse’ issue, the attitude towards Muslims in the UK has changed significantly – and not just in education. It is seen all over the UK. The UK has become a far more intolerant society – moving away from multiculturalism. Ofsted is being leaned on by the government.”

‘Trojan Horse’ were documents leaded to the British press that claimed to be about a conspiracy to ‘Islamise’ Birmingham schools.

The revelations ignited a national outcry. The British press reported a number of schools in predominantly Muslim areas had been teaching extremist views and promoting terrorism. Although the documents were later debunked, the damage had been done.

The story polarized Britain. Three years later the detrimental impact remains in the relationship between Muslim citizens and Britain.

The ruling will only apply to co-educational schools. Single sex schools are given a specific exemption from discrimination claims related to admission under the Equalities Act.

Many of those in attendance at Al-Hijrah’s meeting expressed feeling “victimized” by Ofsted and Department for Education (DFE), Lateef echoed the view that Ofsted and the Department for Education were working against Al-Hijrah. “I don’t have evidence to prove this,” he said.

The high court judgement also condemned some books found by Ofsted inspectors in the library, despite a previous inspection and ruling that the books should be removed.

The judges opined, the books were “derogatory towards women,” nonetheless “clearly some members of staff were in agreement with the teachings of the book – hence why they remained.”

Haroon Rashid, a parent at the meeting said that the Fiqh books should have been placed away, out of sight from the inspectors.

This, he believed, was incompetence on behalf of the teachers. Additionally, “inspectors did not understand the context in which the rules were allowed in Islam.”

Parent Muhammed Ameen said that this was not just an attack on the school, it was an attack in our way of life. “Segregation is in our homes, mosques, communities it is all around us. This attack goes all the way to out communities, on our way of life.”

Prof Holmwood said: “The problem is British people want Muslims to adapt their values. They don’t understand that Muslims can still do this whilst practising their own faith.”

Rabia Uddin, a parent of a 12-year-old girl at the school, described her concerns. “I worry now that with all this negative attention, the school may be attacked. Muslims are already being attacked in the UK,” she said.

Parent Muhammed Amin said that the same thing was happening in France, Germany. “It is secularisation, Christianity, a dilution of our values, ripping away our ethos. They are attacking our faith.”

Full report at:

https://dailytimes.com.pk/135117/british-muslims-vow-fight-high-court-judgement/

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Hungarians take walking tour to overcome fears of Muslims

NOVEMBER 6, 2017

BUDAPEST (Reuters) - A walking tour to learn about Budapest’s Muslim community and its mosques has become popular with Hungarians as a way of overcoming fears and reservations amid a strident anti-immigrant campaign by the government.

Budapest-based tour operator Setamuhely (Budapest Walkshop) runs 30 different walks taking visitors around the city’s architectural and cultural sites and the Jewish and Muslim communities.

“I can say that this walk, ”Muslims who live among us“, is the most popular tour,” said Anna Lenard who runs the business. When the Muslim tour was set up three years ago very few people were interested.

“Most people have never met a Muslim in their life and this ... together with what they hear every day in the media causes a lot of tension and stress in daily life. I think this is the main reason why people are coming now.”

Most of the people on the four-hour walk have a college degree, and two-thirds are women, she said.

Hungary’s Muslim community, estimated to number about 40,000, grew with the migration crisis of 2015, though most of them arrived earlier to study at Hungarian universities.

Though hundreds of thousands of migrants crossed into Hungary from the Balkans at the peak of the crisis the majority went on to richer parts of western Europe.

Data from think tank Tarki shows the proportion of people deemed to be xenophobic and resentful of foreign immigrants shot up to 60 percent this year, rising 19 points from two years ago.

About 80 people go on the Muslim tour per month, the organizers said.

A typical group of around 30 people first goes to a small mosque hidden in an old apartment where Muslims come to pray at the time of the visit.

“I am very interested in everything multi-cultural and in cultures and religions that live among us,” said Nauszika, a psychologist who did not want to give her full name.

“It is the best way to lose your fears if you start to ask the one who you (are) afraid of,” added tour leader Marianna Karman, an Africa expert who converted to Islam herself.

“These people choose to come on these walks because they would like to talk about this problem. They want to fight against their fears.”

Full report at:

http://www.reuters.com/article/us-hungary-muslims/hungarians-take-walking-tour-to-overcome-fears-of-muslims-idUSKBN1D61PL?il=0

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Faith leaders condemn 'racist' objections to Golders Green mosque

6 November 2017

Almost 30 faith leaders in north London have condemned as racist objections made by some residents to a new Islamic centre based in the former Hippodrome in Golders Green.

Markaz El Tathgheef El Eslami, or the Centre for Islamic Understanding, paid £5.25m for the Hippodrome, which once hosted Marlene Dietrich, Laurence Olivier and the Kinks. It has submitted a planning application to Barnet council for the venue to be used as a Muslim community centre and mosque.

The proposal triggered a wave of objections from residents, many of whom cited concerns such as parking and congestion. But some openly opposed a Muslim centre in an area with a large Jewish population on the grounds that it would attract “undesirables” or endanger people’s safety. The centre would “make this beautiful neighbourhood too crowded with loads of burkas and veils”, wrote one resident.

Some Jewish leaders condemned the racist attitudes, with one local rabbi denouncing “threatening and misleading” language that echoed the kind of hostility Jewish people faced when they first came to the area.

Now almost 30 members of an interfaith forum in the borough – including representatives of Anglican, Catholic and Greek Orthodox churches, Quakers, Methodists, rabbis, imams and Sikhs – have signed a letter saying they look forward to welcoming the clerics of Markaz El Tathgheef El Eslami.

The letter said: “As clergy and faith representatives we unanimously deplored and condemned the hostile and, at times, racist response to the new Islamic centre’s opening. It is our firm conviction that those that attend the centre are as entitled to suitable and sufficient facilities as are enjoyed by all other faiths in Barnet, including Golders Green.

“Indeed, we are sure the new Islamic community will contribute, with us, to the neighbourhood’s character, harmony and safety.”

The signatories said they were confident that Barnet council would resolve all legitimate concerns relating to the centre.

At a meeting two weeks ago to protest against the plans, Gavin Boby of the Law and Freedom Foundation – who describes himself as “the mosque-buster” – said the plans for the Islamic centre were “the biggest threat to the sense of home for Jews since Cable Street”, referring to fascists in the east end of London in the 1930s.

Boby said he had challenged 47 planning applications for mosques and Muslim centres, claiming to have stopped 33.

A petition against the centre, focusing on congestion, air and noise pollution, parking problems and the “deterioration of the quality of our lives and our safety”, has gathered 5,675 signatures. It will be heard by Barnet council’s environment committee on Tuesday. More than 1,200 people submitted comments as part of the council’s consultation process.

Jonathan Arkush, president of the Board of Deputies, said some of the comments “were unworthy of Jewish people and if any were made by members of our community I find that a matter of regret”.

The centre’s spokesman, Ahmed al-Kazemi, said it would welcome people “regardless of religion or background. We want to have good links with other faiths and integrate into the local community.”

The building was previously used as a church by an evangelical Christian group for 10 years after it closed as an entertainment venue. The Islamic centre submitted a planning application for change of use from “church” to “place of worship”, and to extend its hours of opening.

Full report at:

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/nov/06/hippodrome-golders-green-faith-leaders-condemn-racist-objections-mosque

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Charlie Hebdo gets fresh death threats over Islam cartoon

November 6, 2017

PARIS: French satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo said Monday it was pressing charges after receiving fresh death threats over a cartoon of the Islamic scholar Tariq Ramadan who faces rape allegations.

The provocative magazine, which suffered a deadly jihadist attack in 2015 after publishing cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed, depicted Ramadan with a huge erection in its edition last Wednesday, saying: “I am the sixth pillar of Islam.”

The Swiss academic, an Oxford professor and conservative Islamic intellectual in France, has been accused of rape by two women after the Harvey Weinstein scandal unleashed a wave of sexual abuse accusations worldwide.

Ramadan, 55, has furiously denied the accusations as a “campaign of lies launched by my adversaries”.

“Rape,” reads the caption on Charlie Hebdo’s cover. “The defence of Tariq Ramadan.”

Laurent “Riss” Sourisseau, the magazine’s editor, said the threats and hate mail had “never really stopped” after the January 2015 jihadist attack in which 12 people were gunned down at its offices.

“Sometimes there are peaks when we receive explicit death threats on social media — this has been the case once again,” he told Europe 1 radio.

“It’s always difficult to know if these are serious threats or not, but as a principle, we take them seriously and press charges.”

The shooting at Charlie Hebdo was claimed by Al-Qaeda, with the jihadists notably seeking to punish the staunchly atheist magazine for printing cartoons of the prophet Mohammed, forbidden in Islam.

The attack was the first in a wave of jihadist attacks in France over the past two years that have left more than 240 people dead.

Charlie Hebdo has continued to court controversy since the attack, notably with cartoons after the Barcelona attack and others that made light of an Italian earthquake that killed nearly 300 people.

The five pillars of Islam are the five basic practices obligatory for believers: faith, prayer, charity, fasting, and the pilgrimage to Mecca.

Full report at:

http://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/world/2017/11/06/charlie-hebdo-gets-fresh-death-threats-over-islam-cartoon-2/

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Former CIA agent to do community service in Italy for Muslim cleric kidnap

7 November 2017

A former CIA agent will do community service near Rome to complete her three-year sentence for taking part in the kidnapping of a Muslim cleric in Milan 14 years ago.

Sabrina De Sousa’s lawyer said that a court in Milan on Monday approved community service for his client to teach English to minors in Rome province.

Egyptian cleric Osama Hassan Mustafa Nasr, known as Abu Omar, was allegedly kidnapped by CIA agents off the streets of an Italian city and taken to Egypt where he said he was tortured.

De Sousa was picked up in Portugal in 2015 on a European arrest warrant, but Italy dropped its extradition request last March. Her seven-year sentence was reduced to three by a partial clemency and general amnesty.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/world/2017/11/07/Former-CIA-agent-to-do-community-service-in-Italy-for-Muslim-cleric-kidnap.html

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UK anti-govt. protesters burn US flag, wave Palestine’s

Nov 6, 2017

Anti-government protesters have spilled out into the streets in the British capital London for this year's “Million Masks March,” using the opportunity to make their voices heard on a wide array of issues, ranging from the UK government's support for the Israeli government, the US president's planned state visit to Britain, the rights of migrants and the maladies afflicting the British society.

Organized by the famous hacking collective Anonymous, the peaceful Sunday night rally drew thousands of protesters who wore Guido Fawkes masks, the hacktivist group’s well-known symbol.

Police arrested more than 50 people as the protesters descended on areas including Trafalgar Square, Buckingham Palace and the Houses of Parliament.

Taking shots at the ruling Tory government for its close ties with the US, the protesters set a Star-Spangled Banner flag on fire and asked Prime Minister Theresa May to withdraw a state visit invitation for US President Donald Trump.

May has been under fire from activists and politicians alike ever since extending the invitation on behalf of Queen Elizabeth II in January.

Some of the protesters also carried US flags with the words “war criminals” written on them.

Solidarity with Palestine

This year’s march also coincided with the British government’s centenary celebrations of the Balfour Declaration, a short 67-word document by former British Foreign Minister Arthur Balfour in 1917 that paved the way for Israel’s creation.

The protesters expressed solidarity with the Palestinian people by waving their flags and condemning Israel’s decades-long occupation of their lands.

Despite facing international criticism, May commemorated the declaration by holding a series of events attended by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

‘One solution: Revolution’

Enraged by the government’s “abuses and malpractice,” the protesters carried signs and chanted slogans calling for a “revolution” in the UK.

"We have seen the encroaching destruction of many civil liberties we hold dear, we have seen the pushes to make the internet yet another part of the surveillance state,” read the event’s Facebook page.

"We have seen the Government's disregard for migrants, for the poor, the elderly and the disabled, we have seen the capital, profit and greed of the few put before the well-being of the many and we say enough is enough," the statement added.

Full report at:

http://www.presstv.com/Detail/2017/11/06/541167/UK-million-masks-march-anonymous-London-May-Palestine-burning-US-flag

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