New Age Islam
Thu Aug 13 2020, 10:45 PM

Islamic World News ( 5 Jan 2016, NewAgeIslam.Com)

Terrorist In New ISIS Video Threatening UK May Be Indian-Origin Convert Siddhartha Dhar Of Al Muhajiroun

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



Photo: Number one suspect: The ISIS executioner dubbed the 'new Jihadi John' (left) is believed to be British fanatic Siddhartha Dhar, also known as Abu Rumaysah (right) who taunted police after skipping bail to flee to Syria.

 

India

Terrorist In New ISIS Video Threatening UK May Be Indian-Origin Convert Siddhartha Dhar Of Al Muhajiroun

Need immediate action against those behind Pathankot attack, PM Modi tells Sharif

At this 'dangal', Hindu, Muslim pehelwans fight intolerance

'I had no hope I would be alive': Jeweller abducted by terrorists narrates his ordeal

Muslims in favour of Ram temple: RSS leader

After Indira Gandhi, MP to raise ‘hybrid’ courts for Muslim-non-Muslim disputes in Parliament

Pathankot attack: One more terrorist killed, operations continue until base safe

Deceased's Hindu parents, Muslim hubby fight over final rites

FIA gets remand of AKD Securities men in graft case

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Europe

Germany urges Riyadh, Tehran to focus on opposing IS

France welcomes Turkish help against foreign fighters

German jets depart for anti-ISIL mission

Slovakian Police to Help Macedonia Guard Its Border

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Pakistan

Four TTP men planning suicide attack arrested in Karachi's DHA: police

Grave dangers face Muslim world in light of Saudi-Iran standoff: Sartaj

Pak-based groups to face action if role proved: PM

Sikhs split over sale of Gurdwara Janam Asthan

Punjab renews anti-terror resolve

SC directions sought for regulating ‘spiritual priests’

JI asks for committee on CPEC route

Sharifs flying solo in deciding major issues

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Arab World

ISIS pledges to destroy Saudi prisons following executions

The ‘marriage of convenience’ between Saddam Hussein’s men and IS

Saudi youth fight terror on Snapchat

IS has lost one-third of territory in Iraq, Syria: US

Kuwait recalls envoy from Iran

25 Iraq fighters killed thwarting IS assault

ISIL Sustains Large Casualties in Clashes with Syrian Army Southeast of Homs

Gov't Forces Raid Militants' Gatherings in Quneitra City

Syrian Dissident: Execution of Saudi Cleric Plotted in Tel Aviv

Gov't Forces Continue to Purge Terrorists from Eastern Damascus

Syria: Al-Nusra Terrorists Attacked by Rival Militants

Syrian Missile, Artillery, Air Attacks Inflict Heavy Losses on Militants across Aleppo

Saudi Arabia’s Shura seeks new quality criteria for govt agencies

Gulf Arab states to hold extraordinary meeting on Iran

Report: Over 400 Kyrgyz Nationals Fighting Alongside Terrorists in Syria, Iraq

Iraq: ISIL's War Minister Killed in Anbar Province

Syria: Ahrar Al-Sham Commander Killed

Jeish Al-Islam Commander Killed in Damascus

Senior ISIL Commander Killed in Army Attacks in Syria's Deir Ezzur Province

Iraqi Army Kills Hundreds of Terrorists in Ramadi

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South Asia

Bangladesh upholds death sentence for Jamaat-i-Islami 'Emir'

Bangladesh Joins Saudi-Led Anti-Terror Coalition To Fight Radicalization – Analysis

UNAMA condemns Taliban attacks in Kabul city that kill 5 and injure 56

MoI: 19 Taliban insurgents killed in counter-terrorism operations

US, Afghan forces conduct joint operation

Zabul’s director of education referred to judiciary over corruption charges

A slap in face for Liberation War

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Southeast Asia

In a first, Malaysia police and govt tie-up to educate kids on dangers of Islamic State

Perlis Mufti insists it’s about human rights, not religion

Islamic clerics declare fatwa on poachers in Indonesia and Malaysia

After Indira Gandhi, MP to raise ‘hybrid’ courts for Muslim-non-Muslim disputes in Parliament

Shahbudin: Many taken in if religion is cited

Legal recourse for Muslim MAS staff in hijab, alcohol issue

Indonesia turns to China as ethnic Uighurs join would-be jihadis

PAS snub proves their insincerity in pursuing Islamic cause

Army commando charged for possessing IS shirt

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Mideast

Turkish army kills 14 Kurdish militants

Saudi Arabia needs to stop fueling tension in Mideast, Iran says

Iran supports peace, stability in Afghanistan: Rouhani

Turkish civil servants granted off time for Juma prayers

Iran unveils second underground missile depot, likely to irk US

Yemen war intensifies

South Yemen officials survive bombing

Israel returns bodies of slain Palestinians

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Africa

Fresh sex abuse charges against U.N. forces in Central Africa

Niger winning war against Boko Haram, says army chief

Burundi general pleads guilty to coup attempt

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North America

US: Saudi-Iran row may effect anti-ISIL effort

Donald Trump releases first campaign ad in 2016, spotlight on Muslim ban

US says it tried to dissuade Saudis from executing Nimr

US college begins effort to fire professor for comment on Islam

Company fires nearly 200 Muslims for prayer request

In policy shift, US sees Assad staying in Syria until March 2017

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau

URL: http://newageislam.com/ijtihad,-rethinking-islam/rashid-samnakay,-new-age-islam/was-the-prophet-exempted-from-normal-sexual-rules-of-conduct-for-muslims-as-alleged-by-islamic-apocrypha?-logical-and-biological-refutation-of-the-right-hand-possession/d/105879

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India

 

Terrorist In New ISIS Video Threatening UK May Be Of Indian-Origin Convert Siddhartha Dhar Of Al Muhajiroun

Jan 5, 2016

The terrorist dubbed “new Jihadi John” and appeared in the latest Islamic State (ISIS) video threatening attacks on the UK is believed to be Indian-origin British Muslim convert, media reports said on Tuesday.

Siddhartha Dhar, also known as Abu Rumaysah, had skipped bail and fled Britain in 2014 with his wife and their four children to join ISIS in Syria.

Born a Hindu, the 32-year-old ran a business renting out bouncy castles in London before converting to Islam and joining the radical Islamist group Al Muhajiroun.

An official source told the BBC that Dhar is the focus of investigations into the video, which purports to show the killing of five men ISIS says were spying for the UK.

Dhar’s mother and sister have also watched the video, released by ISIS on Sunday, and noticed similarities between the voice of the masked terrorist, being referred to as the “new Jihadi John” by the British media.

“I heard the voice, yes, but I don’t know, I’m not sure of the voice. These are the most difficult questions to answer. I just cannot say. I’m not sure within myself whether it is the truth or not,” his mother Sobita Dhar told ‘The Daily Telegraph’.

His sister, Konika Dhar, from north London, said: “I believed the audio to resemble, from what I remember, the voice of my brother but having viewed the short clip in detail, I wasn’t entirely convinced which put me at ease.

“I can’t believe it. This is just so shocking for me. I don’t know what the authorities are doing to confirm the identity, but I need to know if it is.” She said her brother had converted to Islam more than 10 years ago and her memories of him are from when they were children and teenagers.

“He was a very pleasant boy, and I know it may be hard to believe but he still is, and I still believe that he still can be that person,” she added.

One of Dhar’s former business associates told the BBC he had “no doubt” the voice on the video was that of Dhar, who had been arrested on suspicion of encouraging terrorism by the British police but was later able to travel to Syria after being bailed.

His former neighbours from Walthamstow in east London claimed Dhar’s wife was more devout than him and suggest she may have put him on the path to extremism.

In the months leading up to his arrest, Dhar was accused of calling for the imposition of Sharia law in Britain.

In one interview around that time he said: “We believe that whenever the sharia is established, the pure Islamic state maybe in Iraq or Syria, one day the leader will wage jihad and annexe Britain into the Islamic state.

“We are not going to forget Europe, we are not going to forget Britain, the armies will be sent here to conquer these lands.”

In the latest ISIS video, he is now believed to be the masked man speaking in a British accent and holding a gun.

He says: “We will continue to wage jihad, break borders and one day invade your land where we will rule by the Sharia.”

British Prime Minister David Cameron on Monday said the video was “desperate stuff” from a group that was “losing territory”.

The 11-minute video also features a little boy speaking in a British accent.

‘Channel 4 News’ has reported that a south London man named Sunday Dare recognised the boy in the video as his grandson, Isa Dare, who was taken to Syria by his daughter Grace Dare aka Khadija.

In the video, five men, wearing jumpsuits and kneeling in a desert location, appear to be shot in the back of the head, after making what is claimed to be their confessions.

http://indianexpress.com/article/india/india-news-india/terrorist-in-new-isis-video-threatening-attacks-on-uk-may-be-of-indian-origin/

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Need immediate action against those behind Pathankot attack, PM Modi tells Sharif

Jan 5, 2016

Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Tuesday called up his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi and assured swift action against the perpetrators of the Pathankot air base attack in which seven soldiers were killed. Modi received a call this afternoon from the Prime Minister of Pakistan regarding the terrorist attack on the Pathankot airbase, the PMO said.

During the telephonic conversation, Modi “strongly emphasized the need for Pakistan to take firm and immediate action against the organizations and individuals responsible for and linked to the Pathankot terrorist attack,” the PMO said in a statement.

According to the PMO, specific and actionable information regarding Pathankot attack has already been provided to Pakistan. The National Investigative Agency, which is probing the case, has also said that it will seek help of Pakistan once the identity of people contacted by the perpetrators is established.

Meanwhile, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar told reporters that all six terrorists, involved in the attack, have been eliminated by the security forces. Parrikar admitted to “some gaps” that led to the terror attack on the Air Force base. “There is no suspected terrorist inside right now. (still) I will not give a negative report till the combing operations are over. The combing operations may be over by tomorrow,” he said in reply to questions. The information and leads, like the Pakistani numbers which the attackers had called and their intercepts, are understood to have been passed on by National Security Adviser Ajit Doval. The attackers had reportedly made several calls to Pakistan, some of them brief and some long. Pakistan Foreign Ministry last night said it is working on the “leads” provided by India on the terror attack. Extending Pakistan’s deepest condolences to the Government and people of India on the “unfortunate terrorist incident” in Pathankot, a statement by the spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said, “We understand the pain of many families who have lost their dear ones in this tragedy, as Pakistan itself is a major victim of terrorism.” Noting that the terror attack has been categorically condemned by Pakistan, the spokesperson said, “In line with Pakistan’s commitment to effectively counter and eradicate terrorism, the Government is in touch with the Indian government and is working on the leads provided by it.” The statement, however, did not give details of the “leads” provided by India. It also said that India and Pakistan should remain “committed” to a sustained dialogue process. “Living in the same region and with a common history, the two countries should remain committed to a sustained dialogue process,” it said, adding, “The challenge of terrorism calls for strengthening our resolve to a cooperative approach.”

http://indianexpress.com/article/india/india-news-india/nawaz-sharif-dials-pm-modi-assures-prompt-action-against-those-behind-pathankot-attack/

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At this 'dangal', Hindu, Muslim pehelwans fight intolerance

Ishita Mishra

Jan 5, 2016

AGRA: As the nation wrestles with issues of "tolerance", it needs only to look to the wrestlers of the Mallaka Chautra Akhada at Shahganj in Agra to see how communal amity and togetherness can be a lived experience. Recently, as a guru at the akhada lost his pet langoor, many wrestlers who train at the akhada shaved their heads as a mark of sorrow. Among those with shaved heads were some Muslims.

Mohammad Danish Pahelwan - it is a tradition here for the wrestler to add 'pehelwan' as his last name; and it does not matter whether one is Muslim or Hindu - said his family was shocked to see his head bare.

"I too shaved off my hair on the 'tehravi' of the langoor. My family was shocked. They kept telling me that it was not Islamic. But I follow the traditions of my akhada. On Tuesday, I whisper a prayer to Hanuman, so I too can get the strength and focus that he is renowned for," Danish told TOI.

The Hindu and Muslim wrestlers have the same surname - 'Pehelwan'. And both start their day with a prayer to the mighty Lord Hanuman, guardian deity of rural wrestling.

At the kushti tournament during the recent Saifai event, wrestlers from this akhada gained renown. "My boys have just defeated the well trained wrestlers from Delhi and Haryana in the 'dangal' at Saifai on Monday. Mulayam Singh Yadav gave away the awards. One of my boys is participating in the all-India university wrestling competition starting January 17 in Mysore. Another has just won a state-level championship in Hathras," said Ramesh Chandra Pahelwan, the khalifa or master at the akhada.

The coming together across religious divides is not restricted to wrestlers. Even those arriving to watch the contests are drawn from different religions. There is a 'dangal' or tournament organized at this Agra akhada each morning and evening.

Local people donate liberally to the akhada, which has been running for 13 years on donated land. As many as 35 wrestlers from different parts of Agra and nearby villages practice at the akhada, under the watchful eye of Ramesh Chandra. It is the khalifa who also decides which of his boys will participate in tournaments across the country.

Many of the youth at the akhara are college-going. Anees Pahelwan is studying to be lawyer. He also aids in the lessons of Pushpendra Pahelwan, who is enrolled in a degree programme at Agra University.

Purushottam Pahelwan talks of how the sport could do with a little more government support. Rural wrestling gets no government funding at all, despite its wide following. "We travelled to Saifai on our own, spending about Rs 2,000 each on the trip," he said.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/agra/At-this-dangal-Hindu-Muslim-pehelwans-fight-intolerance/articleshow/50458088.cms

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'I had no hope I would be alive': Jeweller abducted by terrorists narrates his ordeal

Jan 5, 2016

PATHANKOT: Dumped after being attacked with a knife, the Gurdaspur SP's jeweller friend Rajesh Verma on Tuesday said the militants who had abducted them were in constant touch with a "commander sahib" and used to call him at an interval of every 10 minutes.

40-year-old Verma, who was in the captivity for more than four hours after he was abducted along with SP Salwinder Singh and a cook on Friday last, said the militants told the 'commander sahib' that the area looks "peaceful" and that they would easily reach their target.

Rajesh, who is recuperating in a hospital, also heard heavily-armed militants, saying "hamara kam Insha Allah fateh ho jayaga (we will achieve our mission)".

"The person sitting next to the driver's seat (in SP's vehicle), was called 'Major Sahib', who in turn was talking to some 'Commander Sahib'. The rest were not talking at all. They used to talk in Urdu, and I could not understand much except 'Insha Allah'," he said.

Narrating his ordeal, Rajesh, who was dumped after militants tried to slit his neck, said, "They used to speak to their 'commander sahib' after an interval of 10 minutes each. They talked to him numerous times."

"When they reached near their target, they said 'commander sahib' the area looks peaceful and the mission will be achieved and they will easily reach the target," said Rajesh, who was tied up by the militants in the vehicle.

Asked whether the militants used GPS, he said, "They perhaps lost their way once. The driver said this is not the right way. Then they activated (GPS), then one of them said this is the way as we have reached near river."

Asked for how much time he was in their custody, Rajesh said, "I was in their custody between 12 and 4am. I had no hope that I would be alive. May be God had something else in mind".

He said they were carrying 'pithus' (backpacks). "I believe they were heavy and must be containing some explosives like grenades," he said.

The terrorists also took Rs 2,000 from Rajesh. "They first took Rs 500 from me and said they will be thankful for it. In all, they took Rs 2000 from me and left the purse on the vehicle's dashboard," he said.

"I was having more money in my wallet.They could have kept more money with themselves. But the person sitting by my side kept Rs 500 note in his jacket's pocket". Rajesh said the abductors were using five phones.

"The one who was sitting next to me, his phone's battery was dead. They had two phones also, one was my phone and two phones of the SP, in all they were using five phones," he said.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/I-had-no-hope-I-would-be-alive-Jeweller-abducted-by-terrorists-narrates-his-ordeal/articleshow/50457616.cms

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Muslims in favour of Ram temple: RSS leader

VIKAS PATHAK

January 6, 2016

Many Muslims “desire” to take the initiative to facilitate the construction of a Ram temple at Ayodhya and there may be a “mass movement” from within the community for the same in 2016, claims senior RSS leader Indresh Kumar.

Mr. Kumar, who is the mentor of RSS’ Muslim outreach wing Muslim Rashtriya Manch, talked to The Hindu telephonically after releasing a book Sri Ram Mandir here.

“I am in touch with many Muslims who say they will take the initiative to build a Ram temple at Ayodhya. They may begin a mass movement for this in 2016,” he said.

Mr. Kumar cited the example of Hasan Khan Mewati, who, he said, fought against Mughal king Babur alongside Rajput king Rana Sanga, saying he was the role model Indian Muslims wanted to follow.

Full report at:

http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/muslims-in-favour-of-ram-temple-rss-leader/article8069549.ece

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After Indira Gandhi, MP to raise ‘hybrid’ courts for Muslim-non-Muslim disputes in Parliament

BY IDA LIM

January 6, 2016

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 6 ― M. Indira Gandhi’s lawyer M. Kulasegaran, who is also an MP, said he will raise in Parliament a judge’s proposal to form special courts to settle disputes involving Muslims and non-Muslims.

“The suggestion is most welcome,” the Ipoh Barat MP from the DAP told Malay Mail Online when contacted yesterday.

Kulasegaran was commenting on Justice Datuk Dr Hamid Sultan Abu Backer’s dissenting judgment in the Court of Appeal’s 2-1 decision last month on his client’s case, where the court had upheld the conversion of Indira’s three children to Islam.

The appellate court had set aside a 2013 civil court order quashing the conversion, which was done by the Hindu woman’s Muslim ex-husband without her knowledge, and ruled that only the Shariah courts could decide on what they deemed a religious matter.

In his 74-page judgment sighted by Malay Mail Online, Hamid Sultan had said common sense dictates that hybrid cases involving a Muslim and a non-Muslim should go to the civil courts, as Shariah courts would not have the jurisdiction to decide on such issues.

Hamid Sultan said the Chief Justice has the discretion to set up special courts under the civil court system to deal with disputes between Muslims and non-Muslims over Shariah matters.

The Court of Appeal judge also said it was possible for the country’s highest-ranking judge to work with the Attorney-General to amend laws to allow a state’s Chief Shariah judge or his representative to sit with two other judges ― a Muslim and non-Muslim ― in the civil courts.

Kulasegaran said he himself had, as early as two to three years ago, proposed for a special court dubbed a “constitutional court” to deal with difficult cases.

“I have prior to this raised in Parliament for these kind of constitutional matters to have a constitutional court. So it will settle a lot of sensitive issues,” the federal lawmaker said.

Kulasegaran said his suggestion and Hamid Sultan’s proposed “hybrid court” was different, but added that the Chief Justice should have set up special courts very much earlier as it was within his powers to do so.

Full report at:

http://www.themalaymailonline.com/malaysia/article/after-indira-gandhi-mp-to-raise-hybrid-courts-for-muslim-non-muslim-dispute

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Deceased's Hindu parents, Muslim hubby fight over final rites

Jan 6, 2016

HYDERABAD: In an unusual incident, police had to intervene when the parents of a deceased woman and her husband fought over the final rites as per their respective religious customs on Tuesday. Finally, Asif Nagar police handed over the body to her husband and the final rites were performed under police supervision at Zeba Bagh. Prinyanka Chary alias Arba Sultana, 25, wife of Junaid Ashmi, a car driver currently working in Saudi Arabia, committed suicide by hanging at her home on Monday.

Priyanka of Ram Nagar fell in love with a family friend, Junaid, and married him five years ago. After the marriage, Priyanka con verted to Islam and took the name Arba Sultana. She gave birth to two children.

On December 31, Priyanka went to her parents' home at Ram Nagar and returned to on Sunday. At 10.15 am on Monday, the in-laws found Priyanka hanging from the ceiling fan and alerted police.

"There was no suicide note, but based on the complaint lodged by the parents of the victim, we have registered a case under sections 498-A (subjecting a married woman to cruelty) and 306 (abetment to commit suicide) of the IPC against the in-laws of the victim," assistant commissioner of police (ACP), Asif Nagar, Ghouse Moinuddin told TOI. After being informed of his wife's death, Junaid returned from Saudi. On Tuesday evening, parents of the victim and her husband had a heated argument over the final rites.The victim's parents, Vikrama Chary and Sugandha, wanted to perform the final rites as per their tradition, while husband Junaid insisted that he had the right to perform the final rites of his wife.

Full report at:

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/hyderabad/Deceaseds-Hindu-parents-Muslim-hubby-fight-over-final-rites/articleshow/50461636.cms

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FIA gets remand of AKD Securities men in graft case

Jan 6, 2016

KARACHI: A judicial magistrate on Tuesday remanded three employees of the AKD Securities in the custody of Federal Investigation Agency in a graft case.

The FIA arrested chief executive Fareed Alam and two directors Tariq Ghumra and Mohammad Iqbal on Jan 4 for allegedly convincing the Employees Old-Age Benefits Institution (EOBI) in 2010 through a research report to invest Rs350 million public money in a textile company that caused around Rs290 million loss to the exchequer.

The investigating officer produced the suspects before a judicial magistrate and sought their custody for questioning, recoveries and arrest of other suspects.

Opposing the request for remand, the defence lawyer argued that the suspects were falsely implicated in the case since they had no involvement in the commissioning of the alleged offence.

Full report at:

http://www.dawn.com/news/1230982/fia-gets-remand-of-akd-securities-men-in-graft-case

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Europe

 

Germany urges Riyadh, Tehran to focus on opposing IS

January 06, 2016

BERLIN - Saudi Arabia and Iran owe it to the international community to put aside their differences in the Middle East and focus on opposing Islamic State, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier told newspaper Bild.

Saudi Arabia cut its ties with Iran on Sunday in response to the storming of its embassy in Tehran in an escalating row between the rival Middle East powers over Riyadh's execution of a prominent Shia cleric. Steinmeier urged both countries to show responsibility and focus on calming the region and opposing the radical movement he referred to by the acronym ISIS. "I hope that the turbulence will soon end, reason prevails and Riyadh and Tehran focus on what's really important - defusing the military conflicts, fostering political solutions in Syria, Yemen and elsewhere and thus pulling the rug out from under ISIS," he told Bild in an interview published on Tuesday.

Full report at:

http://nation.com.pk/international/06-Jan-2016/germany-urges-riyadh-tehran-to-focus-on-opposing-is

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France welcomes Turkish help against foreign fighters

06 January 2016

France’s defense minister on Tuesday praised cooperation with Turkey in tackling foreign extremists heading to Syria, a Turkish diplomatic source said.

Jean Yves Le Drian met Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu to discuss Syria, Libya and other bilateral issues in Ankara.

The visit came as France remains on high alert following the Nov. 13 attacks in Paris that killed 130. Some of the attackers had previously spent time in Syria with ISIL before returning to Europe.

Full report at:

http://www.worldbulletin.net/europe/168122/german-jets-depart-for-anti-isil-mission

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Slovakian Police to Help Macedonia Guard Its Border

06 January 2016

Slovakia will send 25 police officers to help Macedonia guard the Balkan country's borders strained by refugees flooding to the European Union, Prime Minister Robert Fico said Tuesday.

Many of those fleeing conflict and poverty in the Middle East and Africa have arrived via Turkey, Greece, Macedonia, Hungary or Croatia. More are still pouring into Greece daily by the thousands.

The Slovak government, which will next week approve sending the police officers to Macedonia in February, is also likely extend a 20-person mission to Slovenia, Fico told reporters. Slovakia has already sent 50 police officers to Hungary.

"We are ready to help other countries on a bilateral level or as part of international cooperation," Fico said.

Full report at:

http://www.worldbulletin.net/europe/168138/slovakian-police-to-help-macedonia-guard-its-border

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Pakistan

 

Four TTP men planning suicide attack arrested in Karachi's DHA: police

Jan 6, 2016

KARACHI: Four men affiliated with the banned Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) were arrested in Karachi's posh Defence Housing Authority Phase 1 neighbourhood on Wednesday, Karachi-South Deputy Inspector General (DIG) Dr Jamil Ahmed said.

Acting on a tip-off from a credible source who claimed that the men were planning a suicide attack, the DIG said police conducted an operation in the area to arrest the four, namely Hanif alias 'Nadeem Kala', Ashraf Ali alias 'Bhaloo', Rehmat Shah and Zahid Hussain.

Police recovered a shopping bag containing ball bearings, suicide jackets and 4 kilograms of explosive material. They also recovered bomb-making material and four pistols from the possession of the suspects, the DIG said.

Ahmed said nine First Information Reports (FIR) have been registered against them in cases relating to possession of arms and explosive materials, and police encounters.

The men are also suspected of involvement in the 2011 Ghas Mandi gambling den blast which killed at least 15 people, in sectarian and targeted killings, police sources say.

In December last year, the Counter-Terrorism Department (CTD) claimed the arrests of four men suspected of involvement in the Ghas Mandi bomb attack, as well as killing people from different sects and other terrorist activities.

The suspects, Mohammed Shahid alias Zubair, Mohammed Ali, Manzoor Ahmed and Usman Ghani alias Baba, belong to the outlawed TTP and Lashkar-i-Jhangvi.

Full report at:

http://www.dawn.com/news/1231149/four-ttp-men-planning-suicide-attack-arrested-in-karachis-dha-police

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Grave dangers face Muslim world in light of Saudi-Iran standoff: Sartaj

IRFAN HAIDER

Jan 6, 2016

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan is concerned over recent tensions between Saudi Arabia and Iran that spiralled after the execution of Shia scholar Sheikh Nimr al Nimr, the Adviser to Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz said in a policy statement he read before the National Assembly on Tuesday.

The Muslim World faces grave dangers in the situation that has risen in wake of the Saudi-Iran conflict, Aziz said.

He expressed concern that terrorists can use the diplomatic crisis in Middle East to their advantage.

The statement follows criticism from opposition parties which lashed out at the government in the National Assembly for not coming up with a clear stance on the situation arising out in the region because of the tension between Saudi Arabia and Iran and called for a parliamentary briefing on the issue.

In his statement, Aziz maintained that Pakistan will continue to play its role to ease tensions between Iran and Saudi Arabia and it advocates unity among the Muslim countries.

Examine: Pakistan calls for peaceful resolution to S. Arabia, Iran tensions

Aziz said the National Assembly would be given an in-camera briefing on the Saudi-Iran tensions.

National interest will be given priority in context of the diplomatic row in Middle East, he said.

Pakistan disapproved on Monday a mob attack on Saudi Arabia’s embassy in Tehran, which sparked a diplomatic crisis between Iran and Arab countries, Dawn newspaper reported.

Saudi Arabia rallied regional allies to its side in a growing diplomatic row with Iran on Monday, deepening a split across the Middle East following the execution of Sheikh Nimr al Nimr in Riyadh.

Full report at:

http://www.dawn.com/news/1230936/grave-dangers-face-muslim-world-in-light-of-saudi-iran-standoff-sartaj

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Pak-based groups to face action if role proved: PM

BAQIR SAJJAD SYED

Jan 6, 2016

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif assured his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi on Tuesday that Islamabad would not hesitate to take “prompt and decisive action” if the involvement of Pakistan-based elements in the attack on an Indian airbase was proved beyond doubt.

“PM Nawaz Sharif assured PM Modi that his government would take prompt and decisive action against the terrorists,” the Indian Prime Minister’s office said in a press statement after Mr Sharif called Mr Modi from Colombo to condemn the weekend strike in Pathankot and convey Pakistan’s promise to act on the intelligence given by India about suspected handlers and the mastermind of the terrorist attack.

Unlike the Indian statement, the one issued by Mr Sharif’s office did not contain any explicit commitment about action on Islamabad’s part, but said: “Our (Pakistan) government is working on the leads and information provided by the Indian government. We would like to investigate the matter.”

Editorial: After Pathankot

Narendra Modi calls for firm and immediate steps against those involved in Pathankot attack

Indian National Security Adviser Ajit Doval had earlier called his Pakistani opposite number, retired Lt Gen Nasser Khan Janjua, and shared with him the phone intercepts of the attackers and locations of the numbers they had called.

India alleges that the attack was carried out by militants affiliated with Jaish-e-Muhammad, a group banned by Pakistan.

Modi for 'immediate action'

During the telephonic conversation, Mr Modi called for “firm and immediate action” against those involved in the Pathankot strike.

“Specific and actionable information in this regard has been provided to Pakistan,” Mr Modi was quoted by the Indian external affairs ministry to have told Mr Sharif.

Pakistan is concerned that India could call off the proposed meeting between foreign secretaries of the two countries, which is expected to discuss the modalities and timetable for different meetings.

Full report at:

http://www.dawn.com/news/1231105/pak-based-groups-to-face-action-if-role-proved-pm

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Sikhs split over sale of Gurdwara Janam Asthan

January 06, 2016

LAHORE - A group of Sikhs from Nankana Sahib have demanded the resignation of Evacuee Trust Property Board’s chairman Siddiqul Farooq, who belongs to the ruling party, PML-N.

They allege Mr Farooq, with the help of land grabbers, illegally sold hundreds of canal land belonged to Gurdwara Janam Asthan for a housing scheme.

After staging a protest near Punjab Assembly yesterday, dozens of Sikhs gathered outside a courtroom of Lahore High Court to show solidarity with Sardar Mastan Singh, the Sikh leader who faces a trial for ‘anti-state activities’.

An LHC division bench on Tuesday accepted the bail petition of Mr Singh, the former president of Pakistan Sikh Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (PSGPC).

In his petition, Mastan pleaded that Sardar Sham Singh, who is sitting president of the committee, had got a case of registered against him on baseless grounds.

“Siddiqul Farooq and Sham Singh joined hands with land mafia and illegally sold hundreds of kanals of land belonged to Gurdwara Janam Asthan, Nankana Sahib for a housing scheme,” his counsel Anwar Zahid told the court.

Requesting bail for the accused, the defense lawyer further alleged that Sham Singh at the behest of Mr Siddiqul Farooq implicated his client and his associates in a fabricated case only to curb their voice against the illegal sale.

On the other hand, Sham Singh’s counsel Tariq Bashir Awan argued that investigation of the case had been transferred to anti terrorism department.

He pointed out that the investigation was underway; therefore, the bail of the accused should not be accepted.

A law officer also pleaded the court not to accept Mastan Singh’s bail, saying that there were serious allegations of terrorism against him and the investigation was being done.

After hearing both sides, the bench headed by Justice Mazhar Iqbal Sidhu accepted the bail against one million rupees surety bonds.

The bench held that the prosecution, apparently, would have no benefit of keeping the accused in jail.

Full report at:

http://nation.com.pk/lahore/06-Jan-2016/sikhs-split-over-sale-of-gurdwara-janam-asthan

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Punjab renews anti-terror resolve

January 05, 2016

LAHORE - Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif yesterday expressed satisfaction over the implementation of National Action Plan (NAP).

The chief minister presided over a meeting which reviewed overall law and order situation in the province and the measures adopted for the implementation of NAP.

The meeting also was given a briefing on the steps taken under the plan.

Appreciating steps taken to act upon the NAP in an effective manner, the meeting renewed the pledge to root out terrorism, extremism and sectarianism employing every available means under the plan.

The chief minister told the meeting that the NAP is yielding satisfactory results towards curbing terrorism, extremism and sectarianism.

He said the successes under the Plan have come about through an effective implementation of law, stern action and stringent punishment to the culprits.

He said it was heartening that level of terrorism, extremism and sectarianism has come down considerably in the province as a result of the Plan.

The chief minister made it clear that terrorism, extremism and religious hatred are intolerable for the Punjab government and nobody will be allowed to perpetrate, abet and promote these acts.

“There is not room for these menaces in the Pakistan of Quaid-e-Azam and every effort will be made for eliminating the collusion between terrorists and their facilitators, ” the chief minister said vowing to make the country peaceful.

“Promise of setting up of a peaceful society will be fulfilled at every cost,” he added.

Shahbaz Sharif instructed police and the law enforcing agencies for taking additional measures for the protection of life and property of the citizens as well as to ensure atmosphere of peace.

Full report at:

http://nation.com.pk/lahore/05-Jan-2016/punjab-renews-anti-terror-resolve

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SC directions sought for regulating ‘spiritual priests’

January 06, 2016

Islamabad - The Supreme Court was moved yesterday seeking directions for enacting laws for controlling and regulating spiritual priests, Rohani Amil and magicians.

Fiaz ud Din, a citizen, has filed the petition under Article 184(3) of the constitution making federation through the Ministry of Law and Parliamentary Affairs, Ministry of Religious Affairs and Interfaith Harmony through its Secretary, Islamic Ideology Council through its Chairman and National Assembly through Secretary as respondents.

He submitted that there must be some laws that could govern the business run by the spiritual priests, Rohani Amil etc and there must be limits within which they should work and should not go beyond the limits prescribed by the law.

The law should also contain penal clauses for punishing persons who violate the law and do business by befooling the masses, the petitioner said.

He further submitted that on account of their illegal activities most of the illiterate persons are easily deceived by such priests and Rohani Amils with regard to religious affairs particularly of the people of Pakistan and these priests destroy everything of the innocent people snatching entire assets, their lands, houses and their properties.

The petitioner contended that the persons normally called spiritual priests, Rohani Amils although they are not but befool the masses in the name of religion and deceive them by telling stories which have no existence in reality.

He further contended that such so-called spiritual priests and Rohani Amils are running their business without any qualification.

Full report at:

http://nation.com.pk/national/06-Jan-2016/sc-directions-sought-for-regulating-spiritual-priests

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JI asks for committee on CPEC route

January 06, 2016

PESHAWAR - Jamaat-e-Islami Khyber Pakhtunkhwa chapter Ameer Mushtaq Ahmad Khan has asked the federal government to remove reservations of smaller units by constituting a committee consisting of all four provincial chief ministers and political parties.

He also asked federal government to put all the details of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor route otherwise threatened a protest sit-in in front of Governor House.

The JI provincial chief expressed these remarks during a press conference here at party provincial head office Al-Markaz Islami on Tuesday.

Criticizing the Federal MINISTER Ahsan Iqbal's statement, Mushtaq said that consensus to construct western route of the CPEC on priority basis was already reached during the All Party Conference (APC) and the government should fulfil its promises.

He warned if federal government fails to remove controversy over CPEC route then they will also hold a sit-in Islamabad.

"We appreciate and support this mega project and we want to make it a success as soon as possible, but the federal government seems to be less interested in the western route and that is why federal minister gives such kind of statements in order to make this project controversial, Mushtaq said.

Flanked by JI Provincial General Secretary Abdul Wasy, Maulana Hidayatullah and Abdul Akbar Chitrali, he said the Federal Minister Ahsan Iqbal is coming to Peshawar today (Wednesday) and he should come with all the maps and original design of CPEC, and budget documents for allocation of funds for CPEC route, and also make it public on website for general masses as well.

Full report at:

http://nation.com.pk/national/06-Jan-2016/ji-asks-for-committee-on-cpec-route

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Sharifs flying solo in deciding major issues

January 06, 2016

LAHORE - Decision making on most of the matters of national significance is being carried out through a handful of persons in the ruling party, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz.

This impression is strongly growing among the party men after the opposition grilled the rulers on this score many times.

Projects and development schemes are carried out with the public money, as such spending on them merits thorough deliberations to avert the losses.

So contracts and agreements need to ward off complications in future, opine the observers, highlighting value of cross section and broad-based input before spending money on mega schemes.

Since inception of the PML-N government, it took a number of decisions on energy, transport, infrastructure development, agri package, social sector development, political issues and others, but a big question arises how much input it received on the same from the legislators of its own party or held debates in the parliament.

The PML-N legislators and the relevant members, when asked in private gatherings about their involvement in decision making, they prefer to maintain silence.

However, some other dare to say that decision making on projects for the national development is limited to a few leaders of the top ranks and even a division of high and low in position is observed to value their say in the final count.

The rest of the party men have to follow those decisions and justify them before the people through statements and talk shows.

The PML-N manifesto is deeply hued in democratic spirit but its sounds in words only at a time when its demonstration is a need.

At the party level, a central executive committee, comprising representatives from all provinces, Azad Kashmir and GB, is there to discuss any scheme or matter of national interest at the party level before formally floating its idea to the parliament or the cabinet.

This exercise is generally followed in many states of the world to elicit broad-based approval and feedback on a vital matter from the party men to come strong against any opposition to the same before the parliament and any other forum.

Along with the party they also run a forum of think tanks of the experts that helps the party and its government overcome any technical hurdle in the way.

The PML-N CEC last time met before the May 11, 2013 elections and since them it is dormant.

In Punjab mega projects like Orange Line, metro bus and roads were launched, but none was debated in the house.

A party source says the party working committee at the provincial level has been non-existent since long and the CM is all in all in decision making with necessary guidance from bureaucracy on any scheme.

There is hardly any project that was passed through parliamentary debate before launching.

However, they come under discussion at this platform only when a flaw and misappropriation is pinpointed.

Full report at:

http://nation.com.pk/national/06-Jan-2016/sharifs-flying-solo-in-deciding-major-issues

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Arab World

 

ISIS pledges to destroy Saudi prisons following executions

January 06, 2016

RIYADH: The Islamic State group pledged to destroy Saudi Arabian prisons holding militants after Riyadh’s execution of 47 people including 43 convicted al Qaeda militants on Saturday.

An article in an online magazine posted on Tuesday singled out the al-Ha’ir and Tarfiya prisons where many al Qaeda and Islamic State militants have been detained. In July, an Islamic State supporter killed himself in a car bomb at a checkpoint outside Ha’ir prison near Riyadh.

Full report at:

http://nation.com.pk/international/06-Jan-2016/isis-pledges-to-destroy-saudi-prisons-following-executions

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The ‘marriage of convenience’ between Saddam Hussein’s men and IS

Jan 6, 2016

For decades, Iraq’s landscape was dotted with heroic portraits of Saddam Hussein: he appeared as a Bedouin riding a white horse, a revolutionary in a black beret, or a devout Muslim with his head bowed in prayer.

But the most iconic image, which hung on buildings, schools, airports and highways, was that of a smiling Hussein, wearing a fedora and firing an assault rifle into the air.

In the more than 30 years he ruled Iraq, Hussein tirelessly cultivated the persona that photograph embodied: an urbane, modern and, above all, strong leader.

Hussein was executed nine years ago — on December 30, 2006 — but he remains an important symbol for Iraq’s disillusioned Sunni Arab minority.

His legacy as a supposedly strong leader who kept Iraq together, by brutal force, reverberates for Sunnis in the wider Middle East, which is wracked by sectarian conflict and stalled revolutions.

Today, Hussein leaves a new legacy in Iraq: a marriage of convenience between former officers of his Baath Party and Sunni militants like those of the militant Islamic State (IS) group.

The militants assumed the most prominent role as they swept through northern and central Iraq in mid- to late-2014. But they were able to capture large swaths of territory from the Iraqi government thanks to an alliance with a network of former Hussein regime loyalists who had deep ties to Sunni tribes in cities like Mosul and Tikrit.

After taking control of Mosul and other Sunni cities, IS leaders pushed aside the ex-Baathists or absorbed them into the group’s ranks.

The ex-Baathists, who include former intelligence officers and elite Republican Guard troops, coalesced in 2007 — soon after the Shia-led government in Baghdad executed Hussein — as a group called the Men of the Army of the Naqshbandi Order.

The group’s leader is Ezzat al-Douri, who was Hussein’s right-hand man and the most wanted member of the ousted Baathist regime to remain at large since the United States (US) invasion of Iraq in 2003.

The Naqshbandi Order sought to counter Iranian influence, tap into the disillusionment of Iraq’s Sunni community and try to restore Sunni rule over the country.

Soon after IS militants captured Mosul in June 2014, with help from the Naqshbandi Order and its tribal allies, Douri issued an audio message praising the Sunni militants and urging Iraqis to join the fight.

"Join the ranks of the rebels who liberated half the country," he said. "The liberation of Baghdad is around the corner. Everyone should contribute to complete the liberation of the beloved country, because there is no honour or dignity without it."

Read: The volatile fusion: Origins, rise & demise of the ‘Islamic Left’

In April, Iraqi militia fighters paraded a body — purportedly that of Douri — in a glass coffin through the streets of Baghdad. But DNA tests could not confirm that the body was indeed Douri’s, and he had been erroneously reported by Iraqi officials as killed or captured several times in the past. Douri is likely still at large, and working with Sunni militants.

A recent Reuters investigation revealed that former Iraqi Baathists are playing a leading role in Islamic State, especially as leaders of its shadowy military and security apparatuses.

Because the Baathists have deep social, financial and cultural ties to many areas that are now under IS control, it will be difficult for the Iraqi government to dislodge the militants from those areas.

And even when Baghdad is able to recapture territory, the militants and their Baathist allies undermine the central government’s efforts to restore order.

In 2003, Hussein became the first modern Arab leader to be deposed by a foreign power.

After a trial marred by charges of US interference and procedural flaws, an Iraqi court convicted him of crimes against humanity and sentenced to death by hanging. That earned Hussein another distinction: as the first modern Arab ruler to be tried and executed for his crimes.

Hussein’s execution became a rallying cry for his supporters and for Sunnis in the region.

On December 30, 2006, Hussein stood calmly at the gallows, as one of his three executioners — men in black ski masks and leather jackets — prepared to slip a thick yellow noose around his neck. Hussein stepped toward the platform that would soon open up beneath him.Then, the room erupted in Shia religious chants and taunts. The Shia guards and activists seized the moment to confront a dictator who had inflicted so much suffering on the Shia of Iraq.

Several men shouted, "Muqtada, Muqtada, Muqtada," referring to the Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, who led a rebellion against US troops in Iraq.

"Muqtada," Hussein smiled, and asked sarcastically: "Is this your manhood?"

"Go to hell," one man yelled.

An Iraqi prosecutor pleaded with the hecklers, "I beg you. The man is facing execution. Please stop."

The room quieted briefly, and Hussein was hanged.

Hussein’s execution cemented his status as a Sunni and Arab nationalist martyr.

While not all Sunnis in the region were necessarily fond of the deposed Iraqi leader, many were outraged at the way he was executed.

This was a low point in relations between Sunnis and Shias, and the US-backed Iraqi government made a series of miscalculations that gave Sunnis throughout the Arab world a new reason to hold a grudge against Shias.

After Hussein’s execution, the ex-Baathists became more active through the Naqshbandi Order and they enhanced their alliance with militants of Al Qaeda in Iraq, which would later morph into IS.

Full report at:

http://www.dawn.com/news/1230930/the-marriage-of-convenience-between-saddam-husseins-men-and-is

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Saudi youth fight terror on Snapchat

6 January 2016

JEDDAH: Several young Saudi men have been using Snapchat over the past few days to voice their support for the Kingdom’s fight against terrorism including the recent execution of 47 convicted terrorists.

Many said that citizens in the Kingdom were aware of the dangers of extremism, while others poked fun at Iran for opposing decisions taken by the country’s judiciary, a local publication reported on Tuesday.

Rakan Al-Suwaidi posted 10 messages supporting the decision to execute the terrorists and said young people should be wary of extremist groups trying to recruit them. Some young people are vulnerable and ill informed, he said.

Ibrahim Mubaraki said young people were becoming more aware of the way terrorist groups try to manipulate their emotions.

Those who break the country’s laws should meet the same fate as those recently executed, he said.

Mohammad Al-Aklabi said the courts had taken the correct decision because terrorists were trying to destroy the country and its resources. Citizens are backing the government’s fight, he said.

Full report at:

http://www.arabnews.com/saudi-arabia/news/860936

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IS has lost one-third of territory in Iraq, Syria: US

Jan 6, 2016

BAGHDAD: The militant Islamic State (IS) group has lost around a third of the territory it once controlled in Iraq and Syria, according to figures provided on Tuesday by the US-led coalition.

“In Iraq, it’s about 40 per cent,” said Colonel Steve Warren, spokesman for the international coalition which carries out daily air raids against IS and also provides training and weapons to local forces fighting the group. “In Syria... we think it’s around 20” per cent, he said.

When the size of the so-called caliphate IS proclaimed 18 months ago was at its largest, Iraq accounted for a slightly bigger part of it than Syria.

Full report at:

http://www.dawn.com/news/1231015/is-has-lost-one-third-of-territory-in-iraq-syria-us

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Kuwait recalls envoy from Iran

January 06, 2016

RIYADH - The diplomatic crisis surrounding Saudi Arabia and Iran widened on Tuesday as Kuwait recalled its ambassador to Tehran in the face of growing international concern.

Joining Riyadh and its Sunni Arab allies in taking diplomatic action, Kuwait said it was withdrawing its envoy over a weekend attack on the Saudi embassy in Tehran.

Kuwait’s move came after the UN Security Council strongly condemned the attack, carried out by protesters angry over Saudi Arabia’s execution of a prominent Shiite cleric.

Tensions between Saudi Arabia, the main Sunni power, and Shiite-dominated Iran have erupted this week into a full-blown diplomatic crisis, sparking widespread worries of regional instability.

Iran lashed out again at Saudi Arabia for the execution on Tuesday, with President Hassan Rouhani accusing Riyadh of seeking to “cover its crime” by severing ties.

“One does not respond to criticism by cutting off heads,” Rouhani said, referring to the usual Saudi practice of carrying out executions with beheading by the sword.

Washington and other Western powers have called for calm amid fears the dispute could raise sectarian tensions across the Middle East and derail efforts to resolve conflicts from Syria to Yemen.

The Security Council joined those calls late on Monday, issuing a statement urging all sides to “take steps to reduce tensions in the region”.

The statement by the 15-member council condemned “in the strongest terms” the attacks which saw protesters firebomb the Saudi embassy in Tehran and its consulate in Iran’s second-biggest city Masshad.

But the council made no mention of the event that set off the crisis - Saudi Arabia’s execution on Saturday of Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr, a cleric and activist whose death sparked widespread protests among Shiites.

Saudi Arabia cut off diplomatic ties with Tehran in protest at the attacks on Sunday and has severed air links with Iran.

Some of its allies among Sunni Arab states followed suit, with Bahrain and Sudan breaking off ties and the United Arab Emirates downgrading relations on Monday.

Kuwait said Tuesday the embassy attacks “represent a flagrant breach of international agreements and norms and a grave violation of Iran’s international commitments”.

Rouhani has condemned the attacks and Tehran’s mission to the UN vowed in a letter to the Security Council to “take necessary measures to prevent the occurrence of similar incidents in the future”.

Iranian officials have brushed aside the dispute, with government spokesman Mohammad Bagher Nobakht saying Tuesday it “will have no impact on Iran’s national development”.

“It is Saudi Arabia that will suffer,” he said.

The six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) of Sunni Arab states said it would meet in Riyadh Saturday for talks on the embassy attacks, a day before the Arab League is due to hold an emergency meeting.

“Foreign ministers of the GCC States will hold an extraordinary meeting in Riyadh on Saturday .

to discuss the repercussions of the attack on the Embassy of Saudi Arabia in Tehran and the Saudi consulate in the Iranian city of Mashhad,” GCC Secretary-General Abdullatif bin Rashid Al Zayani said in an emailed statement.

Regional powerhouse Turkey also expressed alarm at the crisis Tuesday, with Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu saying: “We expect all countries in the region to show common sense and take steps aimed at easing the tensions in the region.

” He said Ankara was “ready to make any effort” to help resolve the crisis.

Iran and Saudi Arabia are on opposing ends of a range of crucial Middle East issues, including the war in Syria - where Tehran backs President Bashar al-Assad’s regime and Riyadh supports rebel forces - and Yemen where a Saudi-led coalition is battling Shiite insurgents.

Despite the fears, Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to the United Nations, Abdallah al-Mouallimi, insisted the row would not have an impact on efforts to resolve regional conflicts.

“From our side, it should have no effect because we will continue to work very hard to support the peace efforts in Syria and Yemen,” Mouallimi told reporters.

When asked what it would take for ties to be restored, Mouallimi told reporters: “Very simple - Iran to cease and desist from interfering in the internal affairs of other countries, including our own.

Full report at:

http://nation.com.pk/national/06-Jan-2016/kuwait-recalls-envoy-from-iran

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25 Iraq fighters killed thwarting IS assault

January 06, 2016

BAGHDAD - At least 25 Iraqi fighters have been killed repelling a major three-day offensive by the Islamic State group in the western region of Haditha, security sources said Tuesday.

"We have given 25 martyrs in 72 hours," a tribal commander, Sheikh Abdallah Atallah, told AFP by phone from Haditha, an area that includes a key dam and has held off IS since 2014. "It was one of the biggest offensives we have seen. It came from three directions," he said, adding that dozens were also wounded.

The mayor of Haditha, located in Anbar province about 200 kilometres (120 miles) northwest of Baghdad, confirmed the casualty toll.

"We have more than 20 martyrs and more than 50 wounded. They are from the army, CTS (the counter-terrorism service), the police and the tribal fighters," Mabrouk Hamid said. "Haditha was targeted Sunday by a massive offensive involving more than 40 vehicles, all armoured and some explosives-laden," Hamid said. "They were destroyed by coalition and Iraqi air strikes," he said.

Both the mayor and tribal commander said IS had lost very large numbers of fighters in their failed assault.

The US-led coalition confirmed it provided support to the Iraqi forces defending Haditha, a strategic area where Sunni tribal fighters opposed to IS have resisted several previous waves of attacks.

"There have been several ISIL (IS) attacks near Haditha. None of these attacks have been successful" thanks to stronger aerial support, US-led coalition spokesman Colonel Steve Warren wrote on social media.

The jihadists appeared to make an offensive on Haditha - one of the most coveted prizes for the group in Iraq - their priority after losing control of the provincial capital of Ramadi a week ago.

Full report at:

http://nation.com.pk/international/06-Jan-2016/25-iraq-fighters-killed-thwarting-is-assault

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ISIL Sustains Large Casualties in Clashes with Syrian Army Southeast of Homs

Jan 06, 2016

"The clashes between the Syrian government forces and the ISIL terrorist occurred near the newly recaptured Maheen and Hawareen," the army said.

"In addition to a heavy death toll the ISIL sustained, the terrorist group's military vehicles were also destroyed in the army attacks," the army added.

"The Syrian soldiers also tracked and defused a vehicle borne improvised explosive device (VBIED) near its positions in Maheen," the army went on to say.

Military experts inside Syria believe that the Syrian army and its allies are now trying to engage in brief clashes with the militant groups several times per day to in one hand prevent them to fortify their positions and on the other hand to give the militants the chance of laying down their guns and turning themselves in to the authorities.

"Observing humanitarian considerations and international law in war time can slow down an army's advances against its enemy, that is why the Syrian government forces' victories against the militant groups have taken long time," they said.

On Monday, the Syrian fighter jets bombed ISIL's machinegun-equipped positions to suppress the terrorists' fire power for the Army's upcoming operation in the Southeastern parts of Homs province.

Full report at:

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13941016000393

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Gov't Forces Raid Militants' Gatherings in Quneitra City

Jan 06, 2016

"Gathering centers of the Takfiri terrorists near the main square of Quneitra city came under attack of the Syrian army and its allies," the army said, adding, "The militant groups sustained a heavy death toll while their weapons and military hardware, including armored vehicles, were destroyed in the attack."

On Tuesday, the militant groups' concentration centers in the Northern and Northeastern parts of Quneitra province were massively shelled by the Syrian army's artillery and missile units.

The militants' military grid, including a tank, was targeted in the Syrian army's missile-shelling in al-Hamidiyah in the Northern part of the province.

In the meantime a provincial source said that the tanks' crew were also killed or wounded in the attack.

Full report at:

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13941016000212

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Syrian Dissident: Execution of Saudi Cleric Plotted in Tel Aviv

Jan 06, 2016

"It is clear that the Saudis had taken order from their masters in Tel Aviv and the US to commit the crime of executing Sheikh Nimr; therefore, it is not surprising to say that the decision to execute Sheikh Nimr was taken in Tel Aviv and confirmed in Washington," Secretary-General of al-Talia opposition party Noufal Noufal told FNA on Wednesday.

He said that the al-Saud has always been a tool in the US hands to implement its plots in the region.

Noting that the al-Saud and ISIL are two sides of the same coin which seek to foment sectarian strife in the region, Noufal said, "Saudi Arabia executed Sheikh Nimr to provoke Iran into sectarian tensions in the region but Iran sees no place for sectarian conflicts in its equations and assumes it to be an undignified move."

In relevant remarks yesterday, Secretary-General of Pakistan's Muslim Unity Council Party Raja Nasser Abbas Jafari condemned killing of Sheikh Nimr by Riyadh, and said the execution showed the real face of the Saudi state terrorism.

"Sheikh Nimr played an important role in uniting Muslims and the US and Israel feared his anti-colonialist activities," Abbas Jafari said on Tuesday.

"His execution revealed the real face of the biggest state terrorism in the world to every one," he added.

Abbas Jafari said that Sheikh Nimr was a prominent Muslim figure and therefore, his execution will finally lead to the collapse of the al-Saud.

He called on the international community not to keep mum on Saudi Arabia's crimes and take serious action to prevent its continued tyranny.

Also, on Monday, Abdel Bari Atwan, the editor-in-chief of Rai al-Youm newspaper, underlined that the execution of Sheikh Nimr and 46 other people in Saudi Arabia was a calculated move by Riyadh to increase sectarian differences among Muslims.

"Whoever took the decision for the executions was after sending a provocative message to enemies inside and outside Saudi Arabia," Atwan wrote on Monday.

According to him, Saudi Arabia seeks to exacerbate the sectarian crisis in the region and persuade provocative acts among the Shiites and Sunnis.

Atwan said it is no coincidence that the mass execution was carried out after Saudi Deputy Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman announced the formation of a military, security and political coalition of 34 countries followed by establishment of the Turkey-Saudi Arabia strategic cooperation council.

The Saudi interior ministry announced on Saturday the execution of 47 people, including Sheikh Nimr.

After the announcement, Sunni and Shiite Muslims from across the world rushed to condemn his execution, vowing revenge.

After the declaration, thousands of Bahraini people poured to the streets and chanted "death to the al-Saud" slogans.

The Bahrainis who also carried some placards to show their support for Sheikh Nimr warned Riyadh that shedding the cleric's blood will not remain unanswered.

Lebanon's Hezbollah, Yemen's Ansarullah, Pakistan's Shiite Assembly and tens of Sunni and Shiite figures, groups and movements across the world have rushed to condemn the Saudi regime, all underlining that Riyadh has poured oil to the flames of sectarian strife.

In Palestine, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) in a statement condemned the killing of the prominent Muslim cleric, and said, "The execution of Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr shows that Saudi Arabia insists on pouring oil to the flames of sectarian sedition."

Full report at:

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13941016000671

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Gov't Forces Continue to Purge Terrorists from Eastern Damascus

Jan 06, 2016

"The Syrian army alongside the country's National Defense Forces drove the militant groups back from more lands in the Northwestern side of Marj al-Sultan region in Eastern Ghouta and took back five more building blocks," the army said.

"The same story has happened in Harasta al-Qantara and al-Bilaliyah where the government forces have been marching on the militant positions in the recent days," the army added.

Sources said on Tuesday that the Syrian army managed to liberate a key village near Marj al-Sultan region in Damascus province from the control of the Takfiri terrorists amid reports of artillery and air attacks in the province.

The army seized control over Harasta al-Qantara village to the Northwest of Marj al-Sultan in Eastern Ghouta in Damascus province after clashes with terrorists of Jeish al-Islam, Faylaq al-Rahman, Ajnad al-Sham and Faylaq Omar. The army also fired artillery shells at the terrorists' first lines of defense.

Full report at:

The news comes as the Syrian warplanes bombed terrorists' positions in Darayya city.

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13941016000718

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Syria: Al-Nusra Terrorists Attacked by Rival Militants

Jan 06, 2016

Some 12 al-Nusra terrorists were killed in the clashes that erupted after ISIL militants attacked al-Nusra positions in the village of Hosh Hamad in al-Lajat in Dara'a.

The Syrian Army's recent victories across the country have intensified differences among the the militants.

Earlier reports said the Ahrar al-Sham Emir and Shura Council member was killed by unidentified gunmen in the Syrian Province of Homs.

Abu Rateb Al-Homsi, a member of Ahrar al-Sham Shura Council and Homs Emir was killed in Syria on Tuesday.

Reports said unidentified gunmen opened fire on a car carrying Abu Rateb al-Homsi, the "Emir" of the Islamic Movement of Ahrar al-Sham and his wife in the Western Al-Farhaniyah village near the town of Talbiseh in Homs, killing him and injuring his wife.

Ahrar al-Sham' leaders have lost three senior commanders as a result of infightings in recent weeks, intelligence sources said Sunday.

"Mohammad Abu Yihiya, one of the leaders of Ahrar al-Sham, and Abu Tamim another commander of the terrorist group in Jarjanaz town in Idlib province have been killed as a result of infightings," the sources said.

Full report at:

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13941016000713

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Syrian Missile, Artillery, Air Attacks Inflict Heavy Losses on Militants across Aleppo

Jan 06, 2016

"Scores of the terrorists were wounded as a result of the Syrian artillery units' shelling of the militant groups' positions in the Southwestern side of Tal Mamou South of Aleppo province," the sources said.

"The artillery units of the army also shelled the militants' gathering centers near al-Bab and Tadif towns in the Northeastern side of Aleppo province, which claimed the lives of many terrorists and destroyed their military grid," they further added.

"In the meantime, the Syrian fighter jets bombed the gathering centers of the terrorist groups near Marea town and the villages of Tal Msaibeen, al-Alghamiyah, ad al-Malekiyah in the Northern side of Aleppo province," the sources went on to say.

On Tuesday, the Syrian fighter jets and the army's artillery units targeted two main strongholds of the militant groups in the Northeastern and Southeastern sides of Aleppo province.

Full report at:

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13941016000625

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Saudi Arabia’s Shura seeks new quality criteria for govt agencies

6 January 2016

Saudi Arabia’s Shura Council on Tuesday called for framing new quality criteria and performance indexes for government agencies and public utility undertakings.

The Council session, chaired by its Deputy President Muhammad Al-Jafri, took the decision in a step to bolster the Board of Public Monitoring in evaluating the performance of the government and public agencies under its jurisdiction, the Saudi Press Agency reported.

Several members expressed their viewpoints and opinions with regard to the annual report of the board, presented by Dr. Thuraya Obeid, chairperson of the committee for human rights and monitoring agencies.

Yahya Al-Samaan, assistant president of the Council, said that the session called all the agencies that come under the purview of the board to complete the rules for their accountability mechanism and link them with the board’s online system.

Two years ago, the Council took a decision with regard to enforcing uniformity in the case of employees and parity in their pay scale at the Board of Public Monitoring, National Anti-Corruption Commission and the Board of Monitoring and Investigation, Al-Samaan pointed out.

While taking part in deliberations over the report of the committee for culture, media, tourism and antiquities with regard to the annual report of the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage, several members called for building more infrastructure facilities in the domestic tourism sector. Some of them demanded incentives to attract investors to this vital sector while others underlined the need for intensifying monitoring of hotels to bring down higher rates.

A woman member called on the SCTNH to give more importance to preserving Islamic tourist sites and antiquities in the holy cities of Makkah and Madinah, as well as those in Taif.

Full report at:

http://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2016/01/06/Saudi-Arabia-s-Shura-seeks-new-quality-criteria-for-govt-agencies.html

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Gulf Arab states to hold extraordinary meeting on Iran

6 January 2016

The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) of Gulf Arab states announced on Tuesday it will hold an extraordinary meeting in Riyadh on Saturday to discuss tensions with Iran after attacks on Saudi missions there.

Saudi-Iranian tensions threaten to derail efforts to end Syria's five-year-old civil war in which Saudi Arabia and its Gulf Arab allies back rebel groups against Iranian-backed Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

They also cast doubts over chances for a peaceful solution in Yemen, where a Saudi-led military coalition has been bombing the Iran-allied Houthi movement for nine months.

"Foreign ministers of the GCC States will hold an extraordinary meeting in Riyadh on Saturday ... to discuss the repercussions of the attack on the Embassy of Saudi Arabia in Tehran and the Saudi consulate in the Iranian city of Mashhad," GCC Secretary-General Abdullatif bin Rashid Al Zayani said in an emailed statement.

Sunni-ruled Saudi Arabia on Saturday executed a prominent Shi'ite cleric on terrorism charges. This led to attacks by Iranian protesters on Riyadh's embassy in Tehran and consulate in Mashhad.

Full report at:

http://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2016/01/06/Gulf-Arab-states-to-hold-extraordinary-meeting-on-Iran-.html

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Report: Over 400 Kyrgyz Nationals Fighting Alongside Terrorists in Syria, Iraq

Jan 06, 2016

"A sum of 430 Kyrgyz nationals are currently fighting alongside the terrorist groups against the Syrian and Iraqi governments," the report said.

The Kyrgyz nationals usually travel to Iraq and Syria through Turkey, Russia, Afghanistan and some European countries.

A sum of 5,000 Central Asian nationals are currently fighting against the ISIL in Syria and Iraq.

In September, the Kyrgyz interior ministry confirmed the killing of 45 Kyrgyz nationals in Iraq and Syria after they joined the ISIL Takfiri terrorists.

 “45 Kyrgyz citizens had been killed in Iraq and Syria after their involvement in the ranks of the ISIL terrorist group,” the ministry announced.

Full report at:

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13941016000592

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Iraq: ISIL's War Minister Killed in Anbar Province

Jan 06, 2016

Samer Mohamed Matloub al-Mahlavi and three of his deputies were killed in the Iraqi airstrikes in the town of Barvaneh in Anbar province.

On Tuesday, the Iraqi forces started their mop-up operations in al-Sha'yee region near Barvaneh town. At least 60 ISIL terrorists were killed in the army's operations in Barvaneh region yesterday.

Al-Mahlavi was a former Al-Qaeda leader and one of deputies of the former Al-Qaeda leader in Iraq Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.

In a relevant development on December 29, The Iraqi forces captured the so-called financial minister of the ISIL in the city of Ramadi in Anbar province.

The senior ISIL leader was hidden among 414 Iraqi refugees in Anbar province, but was identified and apprehended by security forces.

Full report at:

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13941016000492

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Syria: Ahrar Al-Sham Commander Killed

Jan 06, 2016

Abu Rateb Al-Homsi, a member of Ahrar al-Sham Shura Council and Homs Emir was killed in Syria on Tuesday.

Reports said unidentified gunmen opened fire on a car carrying Abu Rateb al-Homsi, the "Emir" of the Islamic Movement of Ahrar al-Sham and his wife in the Western Al-Farhaniyah village near the town of Talbiseh in Homs, killing him and injuring his wife.

The Syrian Army's recent victories across the country have intensified internal differences among the ranks of the militant groups, specially among the Ahrar al-Sham' leaders that have lost three senior commanders as a result of infightings in recent weeks, intelligence sources said Sunday.

"Mohammad Abu Yihiya, one of the leaders of Ahrar al-Sham, and Abu Tamim another commander of the terrorist group in Jarjanaz town in Idlib province have been killed as a result of infightings," the sources said.

Full report at:

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13941016000421

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Jeish Al-Islam Commander Killed in Damascus

Jan 06, 2016

Abdel Sattar Al-Nesrin, a commander of Jeish al-Islam was killed in clashes with the Syrian army in Eastern Ghouta in Damascus province on Tuesday.

Sources also said a group of militants were killed and injured in clashes with the Syrian army on the outskirts of Ein Tarma town and in the vicinity of al-Marj region in Eastern Ghouta.

Earlier reports said the militant group's gathering centers in Ein Tarma in Eastern Ghouta were massively shelled by the Syrian army's artillery.

Initial battlefield reports said, at least, a dozen terrorists were killed and dozens more were injured in the Syrian army raid on their military positions in Ein Tarma.

Clashes also erupted between the army and militants in Tal Kurdi region in the vicinity of Douma city in Eastern Ghouta.

The Syrian army also fired artillery shells at Darayya city and Harzama town in Damascus countryside.

Full report at:

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13941016000343

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Senior ISIL Commander Killed in Army Attacks in Syria's Deir Ezzur Province

Jan 06, 2016

Abdo Jazra, one on the notorious commanders of ISIL in the Eastern part of the country, was killed in the Syrian army's raid near Jabal al-Tharda and Tal Kroum in the Eastern side of Deir Ezzur airbase.

Sources said on Tuesday that the Syrian government forces continued to take several strategic regions surrounding Deir Ezzur military airport from the Takfiri militants.

The Syrian army made major advances and won back several heights in al-Tharda Mountains to the East of Deir Ezzur military airport after the army conducted an attack on ISIL positions.

Some 11 ISIL terrorists were killed in the clashes and several others were injured.

Full report at:

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13941016000257

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Iraqi Army Kills Hundreds of Terrorists in Ramadi

Jan 06, 2016

"The Iraqi forces, supported by the air force and artillery units, targeted several ISIL positions in Haditha town and Barwana region in Western Ramadi," a security source told al-Soumeriya news on Wednesday.

"Over 250 ISIL terrorists were killed and 100 vehicles of the terrorist group were also destroyed in the attack," the source added.

Ramadi was occupied by the ISIL, an organization outlawed in many countries including Russia, in May.

The Iraqi army announced last week that it had regained full control over the Western Iraqi city.

Full report at:

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13941016000497

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South Asia

 

Bangladesh upholds death sentence for Jamaat-i-Islami 'Emir'

Jan 6, 2016

DHAKA: Bangladesh's highest court on Wednesday upheld the death sentence for the 'Emir' of the Jamaat-i-Islami party for crimes during the country's 1971 independence struggle, paving the way for his execution within months.

The Supreme Court led by chief justice S.K. Sinha dismissed an appeal by Jamaat 'Emir' Motiur Rahman Nizami, who was sentenced to be hanged for murder, rape and orchestrating the killing of top intellectuals as the head of a ruthless militia during the conflict.

"The court upheld the death sentence in three out of four charges," prosecutor Tureen Afroz told reporters.

Nizami, 72, Jamaat's leader since 2000 and a minister in a former Islamist-allied government of 2001-2006, now faces the gallows within months unless his case is reviewed by the same court or he is granted clemency by the president.

Full report at:

http://www.dawn.com/news/1231141/bangladesh-upholds-death-sentence-for-jamaat-i-islami-emir

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Bangladesh Joins Saudi-Led Anti-Terror Coalition To Fight Radicalization – Analysis

BY SOUTH ASIA MONITOR

JANUARY 5, 2016

By Rupak Bhattacharjee*

The growing incidents of religious intolerance and Islamist violence in Bangladesh have created a vicious atmosphere threatening the country’s peace, stability and liberal democracy. Containing Islamic radicalisation has become a key challenge of governance for Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in Bangladesh which witnessed a series of violent attacks unleashed by the religious fanatics on bloggers, writers, publishers, foreign development workers, pastors and some minority groups in the recent period.

In its endeavour to fight religious extremism and terrorism, the Awami League (AL) government of Hasina decided to join Saudi-led counter-terrorism coalition in the second week of December this year. The broad alliance consisting of 34 Muslim nations also includes South Asia’s Pakistan and Maldives.

This development assumes significance against the backdrop of the rapid spread of Salafi ideology and increasing activities of the militant outfits linked to the dreaded international terror network the Islamic State (IS) in the country. Bangladesh State Minister for Foreign Affairs Shariar Alam said Dhaka had agreed to participate in the new Islamic military alliance on principle and underscored the need to discuss the initiative in the parliament before formally acceding to it. He noted that Bangladesh’s decision to take part in the international alliance was in pursuance of the “zero-tolerant” policy of the Awami League (AL) government against “terrorism and violent religious extremism”.

The influence and activities of the IS in Bangladesh has been growing steadily over the last one year or so. The AL government denies the presence of the IS in Bangladesh but the jihadi group is operating in this South Asian nation through its affiliates, including Jama’at-ul-Mujahideen-Bangladesh (JMB). Of late, this decade-old radical Islamic group has embraced Salafi ideology and tied up with the DAESH. It recently threatened government officials and minority communities in the country and stepped up attacks on the religious gatherings of the Shias and Hindus. The JMB and other religious extremist forces are also targeting Christian missionaries and organisations engaged in numerous development works in Bangladesh.

In a bizarre incident on December 18, six Bangladesh Navy personnel were seriously injured in two explosions triggered by suspected JMB militants inside Chittagong’s naval base while offering Friday’s prayer. The security forces promptly arrested two militants, who revealed JMB’s involvement in the terror act, and deactivated five unexploded bombs from the naval base’s mosque. Islamic terrorists’ attack on the Bangladesh armed forces personnel is a new phenomenon and matter of concern for the government of Hasina.

In another incident, the militants attacked a Shiite mosque in northern Bogra district killing a cleric and injuring three other persons. The IS claimed responsibility for launching the offensive against the Shias. This small minority community of Bangladesh was targeted earlier too. On October 24, Islamic militants hurled crude bombs on a religious congregation of the Shias killing one person and injuring 100 others in old Dhaka. Attack on the Shias was never heard in Sunni-dominated Bangladesh. Preliminary investigation confirmed that the violent assault on the 17th century Shiite shrine Hussaini Dalan was planned and executed by the proscribed JMB.

Full report at:

http://www.eurasiareview.com/05012016-bangladesh-joins-saudi-led-anti-terror-coalition-to-fight-radicalization-analysis/

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UNAMA condemns Taliban attacks in Kabul city that kill 5 and injure 56

Jan 06 2016

The United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) condemns a spate of bombings in civilian areas of Kabul by the Taliban in the first few days of the new year.

The Taliban claimed responsibility for three separate suicide vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices (SVBIED) attacks in the Afghan capital between 1 and 4 January, killing five civilians and injuring at least 56. The victims – which included ten children and nine women – were killed or injured while going about their everyday lives in homes, restaurants, shops, offices or traveling on a busy public street. Four United Nations civilian staff were also injured.

“The use of highly explosive devices in civilian populated areas continues to cause extreme harm to Afghan women, children and men,” said Mark Bowden, the Deputy Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Afghanistan and acting head of UNAMA. “Loss of life, maiming, destruction of homes, businesses and personal property and widespread fear – these are the real consequences of suicide attacks in urban areas.”

On New Year’s Day, the Taliban attacked Le Jardin restaurant, killing two civilians and injuring 18, while on 4 January, Taliban carried out two suicide attacks near Kabul International Airport, which killed three civilians and injured 38. Notwithstanding heavy civilian casualties, the second attack on 4 January took place in a heavily populated area, destroying or damaging over 80 private homes and shops.

There was a further magnetic bomb attached to a car that exploded in the Wazir Akbar Khan area of Kabul last night.

Full report at:

http://www.khaama.com/unama-condemns-taliban-attacks-in-kabul-city-that-kill-5-and-injure-56-1930

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MoI: 19 Taliban insurgents killed in counter-terrorism operations

Jan 06 2016

At least 19 Taliban militants were killed and 2 others were injured during military operations by Afghan national security forces in the past 24 hours.

The operations were jointly conducted by Afghan national police, Afghan national army and Afghan intelligence – National Directorate of Security (NDS) operatives.

Interior ministry following a statement said Wednesday that the militants were killed or injured in Laghman, Kandahar, Paktia, Herat, Helmand, Ghazni and Paktika provinces.

The statement further added that another Taliban militant was also arrested during the operations.

Afghan security forces confiscated various types of light and heavy weapons along with explosives during the operations, interior ministry said.

The statement by interior ministry also added that the operations still continue in different parts of the country, including Deh Yak district of Ghazni province.

The Afghan national security forces have stepped up counter-terrorism operations across the country as the Taliban-led insurgency has been rampant during the recent weeks.

Full report at:

http://www.khaama.com/moi-19-taliban-insurgents-killed-in-counter-terrorism-operations-1929

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US, Afghan forces conduct joint operation

Jan 6, 2016

KABUL: One member of the US armed forces was killed and another two were wounded in the southern Afghan province of Helmand, the US military said on Tuesday.

The US service member died as a result of wounds sustained during operations near Marjah, Brigadier General Wilson Shoffner, spokesman for US forces in Afghanistan, said in a statement.

“We can confirm a US helicopter has landed in Marjah, Helmand Province, and is experiencing mechanical problems. It was not shot down,” added US Army Colonel Michael Lawhorn, spokesman for the Resolute Support mission in Afghanistan.

US special operations troops came under heavy fire during a counter-terrorism operation, NBC reported. A medical helicopter was hit by mortar fire while it was on the ground during the joint American-Afghan special operations mission, CNN reported.

For more than six months, Helmand has been the scene of battles between militants and security personnel who have complained of being abandoned by the US-backed Afghan government.

Full report at:

http://www.dawn.com/news/1231112/us-afghan-forces-conduct-joint-operation

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Zabul’s director of education referred to judiciary over corruption charges

Jan 06 2016

Director and some other officials of the education directorate of southern Zabul province have been suspended over corruption charges.

A source said the decision was taken after a delegation arrived in Zabul from Kabul and conducted investigation into the allegations.

The source added that Rahimullah Ludin, the education director, was then referred to judiciary for further legal procedures.

According to the source, the 2-member delegation has also sent its report of findings to the Ministry of Education.

Full report at:

http://www.khaama.com/zabuls-director-of-education-referred-to-judiciary-over-corruption-charges-4463

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A slap in face for Liberation War

January 06, 2016

Mahbubur Rahman Khan

War crimes convict Motiur Rahman Nizami's appointment as a minister by the BNP-led government was a slap in the face for our Liberation War, as well as for the martyrs and the women who were violated and brutally murdered during the war.

The International Crimes Tribunal-1 made this observation while delivering its verdict on Nizami yesterday (October 29, 2014).

“This shameful act [appointing Nizami as a minister] was disgraceful for the nation as a whole,” said Justice M Enayetur Rahim who headed the tribunal.

Hailing from an ordinary family of Pabna, Nizami worked his way to the top of Jamaat-e-Islami, the party which avowedly opposed Bangladesh's independence in 1971. Ironically enough, 30 years later this very denouncer of Bangladesh's birth won a cabinet berth and rode in a car hoisting the country's red-green flag earned at the cost of three million lives. He was first agriculture minister and then industries minister during the BNP-led four-party alliance rule in 2001-2006.

While many war crimes convicts and accused were infamous for their brutality, Nizami's uniqueness lay in his pro-Pakistan speeches which had his followers immensely enthused. Many war crimes documents show how Nizami exhorted his followers through his flamboyant, anti-Bangladesh speeches and articles in newspapers.

Born on March 31, 1943, in a village of Sathia in Pabna, he enrolled in Boalmari Madrasa at Sathia and passed the Fazil examination in 1961 from there. He received his Kamil degree in Fiqah in 1963 from Madrasa-e-Alia in Dhaka where he began student politics. He completed his graduation as a private student in 1967 from Dhaka University.

The president of Islami Chhatra Sangha (ICS), the then Jamaat-e-Islami's student wing, Nizami led the Al-Badr force which had killed the leading pro-independence writers and intellectuals just before the war ended. Documents show that most Al-Badr men were recruited from Chhatra Sangha.

According to the indictment order, Nizami assisted war crimes convict Ghulam Azam, the then chief of Jamaat's East Pakistan wing, in forming the Shanti Committee, Razakars, Al-Badr, Al-Shams. After Azam quit his party post in 2000, Nizami was elected the Jamaat ameer.

A cursory glance at the records of his activities during the nine-month war brings out his active collaboration with Pakistani occupation forces. At times he was seen in rallies and meetings with Ghulam Azam while at other times he was seen visiting the Mohammadpur Physical Training Institute where Jamaat and its auxiliary forces tortured Hindus and freedom fighters. Neither was he a stranger in Pabna, or Chittagong, or Jessore where he would be seen addressing anti-liberation rallies.

According to evidence collected from intelligence reports in 1971, Nizami addressed a Chhatra Sangha meeting in Jamalpur as the chief guest on June 14, 1971, and directed his activists to assist the Pakistani army to “save Islam and Pakistan”.

On April 12, the Nizami-led Chhatra Sangha and Jamaat brought out a procession chanting "Long live Pakistan".

"If the patriotic people had come forward since March 1 to confront the miscreants, the situation would not have come to this. Allah has given the faithful Muslims the duty to protect His beloved Pakistan, but when the Muslims failed, Allah protected Pakistan through the military," Nizami said while addressing a seminar at the Muslim Institute in Chittagong on August 2. The seminar was organised by the Chittagong unit Chhatra Sangha.

"We forgot our identity after achieving Pakistan. When India attacked our country in 1965, we became self-aware but we were confused as soon as the war ended. Allah punished us. Now we have become self-conscious again but if we make the same mistake again, maybe Allah will not give us another chance," he further said at the seminar.

"Those who want to secede from Pakistan want to uproot Islam from this country," Nizami was quoted by a Sangram report as saying on August 16.

The documents submitted by the prosecution have brought to light many more interesting facts.

Full report at:

http://www.thedailystar.net/a-slap-in-face-for-liberation-war-48027

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Southeast Asia

 

In a first, Malaysia police and govt tie-up to educate kids on dangers of Islamic State

Jan 5, 2016

In a first of its kind collaboration between the education ministry and the police in Malaysia, the police will be holding talks with students of the country about the perils of Islamic State.

The Malaysian Insider quoted the Deputy Education Minister Chong Sin Woon and said, "Together with the police and security forces, we will start disseminating information in schools this year." Even though Malaysia has built a reputation of a moderate Muslim state, there have been a number of Islamic State-related arrests in the nation in recent years.

This comes in the backdrop of the terrorist organisation gaining more and more sympathy in the Muslim nation.

Full report at:

http://www.firstpost.com/world/in-a-first-malaysia-police-and-govt-tie-up-to-educate-kids-on-dangers-of-islamic-state-2571394.html

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Perlis Mufti insists it’s about human rights, not religion

January 6, 2016

PETALING JAYA: Perlis Mufti Dr Asri Zainul Abidin has said he has always been fair in defending the rights of Muslims and non-Muslims alike, The Star Online reported today.

Commenting on his recent suggestion that Malaysia Airlines Berhad (MAB) allow its Muslim flight attendants the choice of donning the hijab and refusing to serve alcohol to passengers, Asri said Muslims should be given space to practice their religion the same way non-Muslims had the right to practice theirs.

Despite his suggestion having shocked many netizens, especially those who once viewed him as a rational and progressive person, he insisted he was only looking at the issue from a human rights perspective and not a religious perspective alone.

“If someone forces a non-Muslim to cover their aurat, I do not agree because it is their right to wear what they want.

Full report at:

http://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/nation/2016/01/06/perlis-mufti-insists-its-about-human-rights-not-religion/

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Islamic clerics declare fatwa on poachers in Indonesia and Malaysia

Jan 5, 2016

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia — Muslim clerics in Indonesia and Malaysia have become unlikely warriors in the battle to save endangered animals, declaring wildlife poaching a sin in the two Muslim-majority nations.

Clerics in Malaysia’s northeastern state of Terengganu recently joined Indonesia in issuing a fatwa — a religious edict — against illegal hunting. When Indonesia’s top Muslim council issued a fatwa in 2014, it was hailed by conservationists as the first of its kind.

The neighboring Southeast Asian countries are among the most biodiverse nations on Earth, home to a vast array of animals — from tigers and rhinos, to elephants, sharks and manta rays.

But the region has become a global hotspot for wildlife poaching due to growing demand for animal parts used in traditional Asian medicines, exotic pets, food and trophies, combined with weak law enforcement.

“Religion is a powerful medium,” Gopalasamy Reuben Clements, a scientist at Universiti Malaysia Terengganu who was involved in pushing for Terengganu’s fatwa, told GlobalPost.

“The whole idea is not to create a new law but to support the current civil law against poaching. We are not trying to change the culture overnight but we are hoping that the fatwa will help build peer pressure.”

The fatwas come as the threat of fines and jail terms seem to be having little effect in combating the lucrative illegal wildlife trade.

The edicts are not legally binding, but are aimed at influencing the behavior of the faithful. For example, the Terengganu fatwa against poaching says Muslims who violate it will be considered “sinful.”

Clements said Islamic clerics can play a “major role” in raising public awareness on conservation issues in a Muslim heartland such as Terengganu, where over 95 percent of the 1 million population follow Islam.

It is hoped the fatwa, which was announced in late November, can later be extended across the whole of Malaysia, he added.

Quranic teachings

The top Islamic clerical body in Indonesia — home to the world’s biggest Muslim population — said it decided to issue a nationwide fatwa against illegal hunting and the trade in endangered species as protecting animals was in line with Quranic teachings.

“Animals have a right to live and we humans should protect them and ensure that they flourish,” Asrorun Niam Sholeh, a secretary at the Indonesian Ulema Council overseeing matters related to fatwas, told GlobalPost.

“As Muslims, we have a duty to maintain the ecological balance.”

Despite the renewed push to stop poaching, authorities and conservation groups face an uphill battle.

Full report at:

http://www.globalpost.com/article/6714327/2016/01/04/malaysia-indonesia-poaching-fatwa

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After Indira Gandhi, MP to raise ‘hybrid’ courts for Muslim-non-Muslim disputes in Parliament

BY IDA LIM

January 6, 2016

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 6 ― M. Indira Gandhi’s lawyer M. Kulasegaran, who is also an MP, said he will raise in Parliament a judge’s proposal to form special courts to settle disputes involving Muslims and non-Muslims.

“The suggestion is most welcome,” the Ipoh Barat MP from the DAP told Malay Mail Online when contacted yesterday.

Kulasegaran was commenting on Justice Datuk Dr Hamid Sultan Abu Backer’s dissenting judgment in the Court of Appeal’s 2-1 decision last month on his client’s case, where the court had upheld the conversion of Indira’s three children to Islam.

The appellate court had set aside a 2013 civil court order quashing the conversion, which was done by the Hindu woman’s Muslim ex-husband without her knowledge, and ruled that only the Shariah courts could decide on what they deemed a religious matter.

In his 74-page judgment sighted by Malay Mail Online, Hamid Sultan had said common sense dictates that hybrid cases involving a Muslim and a non-Muslim should go to the civil courts, as Shariah courts would not have the jurisdiction to decide on such issues.

Hamid Sultan said the Chief Justice has the discretion to set up special courts under the civil court system to deal with disputes between Muslims and non-Muslims over Shariah matters.

The Court of Appeal judge also said it was possible for the country’s highest-ranking judge to work with the Attorney-General to amend laws to allow a state’s Chief Shariah judge or his representative to sit with two other judges ― a Muslim and non-Muslim ― in the civil courts.

Kulasegaran said he himself had, as early as two to three years ago, proposed for a special court dubbed a “constitutional court” to deal with difficult cases.

“I have prior to this raised in Parliament for these kind of constitutional matters to have a constitutional court. So it will settle a lot of sensitive issues,” the federal lawmaker said.

Kulasegaran said his suggestion and Hamid Sultan’s proposed “hybrid court” was different, but added that the Chief Justice should have set up special courts very much earlier as it was within his powers to do so.

Full report at:

http://www.themalaymailonline.com/malaysia/article/after-indira-gandhi-mp-to-raise-hybrid-courts-for-muslim-non-muslim-dispute

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Shahbudin: Many taken in if religion is cited

Joe Fernandez

January 6, 2016

KUALA LUMPUR: A political analyst cautions against taking the view that anything in the name of Islam can be considered acceptable, totally good and unquestionable. “Anything that goes on must be evaluated very carefully, in depth, comprehensively, before being accepted as good or considered otherwise.”

By the same token, said Shahbudin Husin the analyst, the same logic indirectly tells us not to fall that easily for umrah (minor haj), jubah, pictures taken in front of the Kaabah and prayers at certain places as if through all these, one’s sins from before can be considered as something acceptable.

It’s clear that when religion becomes a convenient vehicle to blur views, said the analyst, those who consider themselves as humans with thinking faculties, should not easily lose the ability to weigh the consequences just because of outward appearances. “So long as people take things for granted, become complacent or rest on their laurels, for that long, religion will become a commodity to be bought and sold in search of positions and money and to maintain positions.”

Full report at:

http://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/nation/2016/01/06/shahbudin-many-taken-in-if-religion-is-cited/

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Legal recourse for Muslim MAS staff in hijab, alcohol issue

Robin Augustin

January 5, 2016

PETALING JAYA: Legal recourse may be an option for employees of Malaysia Airlines Berhad who feel they cannot practice their religion if they are prohibited from donning the hijab or forced to serve alcohol to passengers.

Speaking to FMT, president of the Muslim Lawyers Association, Zainul Rijal Abu Bakar said they supported the suggestion by Perlis Mufti Dr Mohd Asri Zainal Abidin that flight attendants be given the option to don the hijab and refuse to serve alcohol.

“The Federal Constitution guarantees the right to profess and practice one’s religion including that of the Muslims,” he said adding that this included covering one’s aurat and refraining from serving alcohol.

“Restrictions against or withholding anybody from practising their religion is unconstitutional vide article 11 of the Federal Constitution.”

Zainul said those who felt their rights under the Constitution were being ignored or denied, could take the matter to court and seek to declare such rules as unconstitutionally invalid and of no effect.

He added that this did not mean compelling everybody to cover their aurat, but that the rights of employees who wished to cover their aurat and not serve liquor be respected.

Lawyer and chairman of RIGHTS Foundation, Yusmadi Yussof said that the Federal Constitution was clear that no person be discriminated against based on gender, race or religion and that any policy which contradicted this went against the spirit of the Constitution.

“In this day and age, human rights and business is of equal importance, it can no longer be isolated from one another.”

“If it is a religious practise for its followers to wear a hijab or refuse to serve alcohol, then the company must respect this.”

Yusmadi said the belief that human rights had to be separated from business belonged in the 20th century.

Full report at:

http://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/nation/2016/01/05/legal-recourse-for-muslim-mas-staff-in-hijab-alcohol-issue/

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Indonesia turns to China as ethnic Uighurs join would-be jihadis

6 January 2016

Indonesian authorities are working with their counterparts in China to stem a flow of ethnic Uighur militants seeking to join Islamist jihadists in the world's most populous Muslim country, Indonesia's counter-terrorism chief said.

Saud Usman Nasution's comments come amid mounting concern in Indonesia about possible attacks by sympathisers of the Islamic State group and follows the arrest of 13 men across the island of Java, including a Muslim Uighur with a suicide-bomb vest. The appearance among Indonesian militant networks of Uighurs, who come from the Xinjiang region in far-western China, is likely to add to Beijing's concerns that exiles will return to their homeland as experienced and trained jihadists.

China says Islamist militants and separatists operate in energy-rich Xinjiang on the borders of central Asia, where violence has killed hundreds in recent years. Rights groups say much of the unrest can be traced back to frustration at controls over the Uighurs' culture and religion, and that most of those who leave are only fleeing repression not seeking to wage jihad. China denies repressing rights.

Nasution, who heads the National Counter-Terrorism Agency, said that several Uighurs had responded to a call in 2015 by Santoso, Indonesia's most high-profile backer of Islamic State, to join his band of fighters. Islamic State and human trafficking networks helped them travel via Myanmar, Thailand and Malaysia to Santoso's hideout in an equatorial jungle of eastern Indonesia, he said.

However, the would-be suicide bomber arrested on December 23 was hiding in a house just outside the capital, Jakarta. "We are cooperating with China and investigating evidence such as ATM cards and cellphones," Nasution said, adding that an Indonesian team went to China to interview members of the man's family, who would not confirm that they were related to him.

There was no immediate comment from China's foreign ministry on whether Beijing is collaborating with Indonesia. "As far as China is concerned, these people are running off, some of them taking part in jihad and planning to strike back," said Pan Zhiping, a terrorism expert at the Xinjiang Academy of Social Sciences. "Of course we must stop them. I believe, in terms of jointly guarding against extremism, it is necessary that we cooperate."

Bilveer Singh of the Rajaratnam School of International Studies in Singapore said the direct involvement of Chinese Uighurs in Southeast Asian militancy added "an external dimension to the existing home-grown terrorist threat".

"It could also complicate ties with a rising China, which may want to play a bigger counter-terrorism role in the region," Singh said in a Eurasia Review article.

'Serious concern for China'

Indonesia's security forces have given Santoso, who styles himself as the commander of the Islamic State army in Indonesia, until January 9 to surrender along with his force of about 40 men on the far-flung island of Sulawesi. However, security analysts believe a larger threat is emerging across the populous island of Java as networks of support for Islamic State grow.

Indonesia has been largely successful in disrupting domestic militant cells since the bombing of two nightclubs on the resort island of Bali in 2002, and sporadic attacks have been mainly targeted at the police. The government is now worried that the influence of Islamic State, whose fighters hold swathes of territory in Syria and Iraq, could bring a return of jihadi violence and strikes against foreigners and soft targets.

Full report at:

http://www.dnaindia.com/world/report-indonesia-turns-to-china-as-ethnic-uighurs-join-would-be-jihadis-2162808

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PAS snub proves their insincerity in pursuing Islamic cause

Zulhilmi Zainal

January 6, 2016

PETALING JAYA: PAS is not serious in pursuing the cause of Islam among the ‘umat’ of Malaysia, Cheras Umno chief Syed Ali Alhabshee said.

Expressing his thoughts in the Cheras Umno blog, Syed Ali passed this remark when commenting on the decision by the PAS Syura Council to reject any form of alliance with Umno, an offer made by the party’s president, Prime Minister Najib Razak, during its recent general assembly.

“Today, it is clear to the Malays in this country that it is PAS who is reluctant to cooperate with Umno. They are opportunists who are only concerned with their political agenda,” Syed Ali said.

He alleged that their rejection of Umno proved in no uncertain terms that PAS had never been sincere in bringing Malay-Muslim solidarity in politics to fruition. “Obviously, they do not have the will to bring about the unification of the ‘umat’ based on the future interests of the Malays,” he said.

Full report at:

http://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/nation/2016/01/06/pas-snub-proves-their-insincerity-in-pursuing-islamic-cause/

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Army commando charged for possessing IS shirt

January 6, 2016

PARIT: The case of a 28-year-old army commando who was charged at the Magistrate’s court here for possessing an Islamic State T-shirt has been transferred to the High Court in Kuala Lumpur.

The decision was made by Magistrate Mohd Fitri Sadaruddin.

The accused, Mohd Abu Haliff Shah Abu Bakar, was based in the Sungai Udang camp in Melaka when he was alleged to have committed the offence.

According to the charge sheet, Mohd Abu Haliff Shah was found in possession of the T-shirt at his house in Kampung Baru, Mukim Lambor Kiri Bota, Perak Tengah, on November 12 at about 1.30pm.

Full report at:

http://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/nation/2016/01/06/army-commando-charged-for-possessing-is-shirt/

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Mideast

 

Turkish army kills 14 Kurdish militants

January 06, 2016

DIYARBAKIR - Turkish security forces have killed at least 14 militants in the mainly Kurdish southeast, the military said on Tuesday, as an army campaign to quell fighting that has spread to the streets of cities entered a third week.

A member of the "village guard", a Kurdish militia fighting alongside government forces, was killed on Tuesday during clashes with Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) fighters in the district of Sur in Diyarbakir, the regional capital, the General Staff said on its website.

The PKK members were killed in Sur and the towns of Cizre and Silopi on Monday, the military said.

Those areas have been under round-the-clock curfews since last month.

It said a total of 296 rebels had been killed since Dec.

14, when security forces intensified action against the PKK.

The PKK has moved to urban areas, building trenches and barricades to keep police and soldiers at bay.

Full report at:

http://nation.com.pk/international/06-Jan-2016/turkish-army-kills-14-kurdish-militants

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Saudi Arabia needs to stop fueling tension in Mideast, Iran says

Jan 6, 2016

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif says the government of Saudi Arabia must stop measures that only serve to pour fuel on regional tensions in the Middle East.

Speaking during a press conference with his Iraqi counterpart, Ibrahim al-Jaafari, in Tehran on Wednesday, Zarif said the Saudi regime has, over the past two and a half years, moved against measures taken by Iran to contribute to the restoration of peace and unity in the region.

The Iranian foreign minister warned Saudi Arabian officials that any measure that would lead to escalation of tensions and create crises in the region will not benefit its perpetrator.

“We invite all parties to become united in the face of extremism, terrorism, sectarianism, and tribalism,” Zarif noted, adding that measures taken to intensify such factors will backfire on those who take such steps.

Zarif stated that Riyadh worked in line with the Israeli regime’s policy to undermine negotiation between Iran and six world powers over Tehran’s nuclear program, adding that the Saudi rulers even cut down oil prices to harm Tehran.

Iran has shown tolerance toward Saudi acts as it believes conflicts in the region will not serve the interests of any side, the Iranian foreign minister said.

Zarif also emphasized that measures aimed at fomenting tension in the terror-hit Middle East region do not stem from the power of those who take them, but are out of pure “weakness.”

Zarif: No justification for Sheikh Nimr’s execution

Elsewhere in his remarks during the press conference, Zarif explained about special regional conditions following the recent execution of senior Saudi Shia cleric, Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr, adding that he had discussed the issue with his Iraqi counterpart.

He noted that Saudi Arabia’s measure to execute the cleric was by no means justifiable because he was “a person who dedicated his entire life to invite people to Islam through peaceful means, dialogue, and interaction” and took advantage of all civil capacities to oppose recourse to military forces, terrorism and extremism.

“The measure taken against this reformist and scholarly figure is by no means justified and it has been met with hatred and condemnation across the world,” Zarif said.

Attacking foreign missions unacceptable

Elsewhere in his presser, Iran's top diplomat explained on recent attacks on Saudi Arabia’s embassy in Tehran and consulate in the northeastern city of Mashhad.

“What happened on Saturday night in Tehran and Mashhad is not acceptable at all. All officials of the Islamic Republic have condemned these measures in the strongest terms,” he emphasized.

Full report at:

http://www.presstv.ir/Detail/2016/01/06/444716/Iran-Saudi-Arabia-Mohammad-Javad-Zarif-Jafaari/

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Iran supports peace, stability in Afghanistan: Rouhani

Jan 5, 2016

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani says the Islamic Republic supports peace and stability in Afghanistan.

“The Islamic [Republic of] Iran favors a secure, stable and united Afghanistan,” Rouhani told the visiting chief executive of Afghanistan, Abdullah Abdullah, in Tehran on Tuesday.

Rouhani gave a positive assessment of the formation of national unity government in Afghanistan, saying it proves the “maturity” of Afghan political leaders who have paved the way for “unity and consensus among all ethnic Afghan groups.”

The Iranian president noted that security is the key requirement for Afghanistan and the entire region and expressed hope that unity in the country would result in further development of the war-wracked country.

He said that Iran’s policy is based on strengthening Tehran-Kabul ties.

“Iran welcomes the expansion of cooperation with Afghanistan particularly in the economic, cultural and environmental sectors,” said Rouhani.

He also said that the production and smuggling of narcotics pose a challenge whose tackling requires regional cooperation.

For his part, Abdullah heaped praise on the Islamic Republic for its all-embracing support for his country, saying the Iranian government and nation have always stood by the Afghan nation.

Full report at:

http://www.presstv.ir/Detail/2016/01/05/444646/Iran-Afghanistan-Rouhani-Abdullah-Zarif/

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Turkish civil servants granted off time for Juma prayers

January 06, 2016

ANKARA - The Islamic-rooted government of Turkey will give civil servants time off work to attend the weekly Juma prayers in mosques, Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said Tuesday.

“We are working on a regulation that will allow the Friday lunch breaks to be used in a way that will not hinder the freedom of worship,” Davutoglu told lawmakers of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP).

“After that, every Friday will be a (religious) celebration” he said.

Friday mosque prayers are obligatory for devout Muslim males.

But unlike several other mainly Muslim countries in the Middle East, officially Turkey uses the standard Monday-Friday working week employed in the West.

In power since 2002, the AKP of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is accused by critics of imposing a creeping Islamisation on the country and eroding the secular values laid by modern Turkey’s founder Mustafa Kemal Ataturk.

Full report at:

http://nation.com.pk/international/06-Jan-2016/turkish-civil-servants-granted-off-time-for-juma-prayers

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Iran unveils second underground missile depot, likely to irk US

January 06, 2016

DUBAI - Iran unveiled a new underground missile depot on Tuesday with state television showing Emad precision-guided missiles in store which the United States says can take a nuclear warhead and violate a 2010 UN Security Council resolution.

The defiant move to publicise Iran’s missile programme seemed certain to irk the United States as it plans to dismantle nearly all sanctions on Iran under a breakthrough nuclear agreement.

Tasnim news agency and state television video said the underground facility, situated in mountains and run by Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, was inaugurated by the speaker of parliament, Ali Larijani. Release of one-minute video followed footage of another underground missile depot last October.

The United States says the Emad, which Iran tested in October, would be capable of carrying a nuclear warhead and US officials say Washington will respond to the Emad tests with fresh sanctions against Iranian individuals and businesses linked to the programme.

Iran’s boasting about its missile capabilities are a challenge for US President Barack Obama’s administration as the United States and European Union plan to dismantle nearly all international sanctions against Tehran under the nuclear deal reached in July.

Iran has abided by the main terms of the nuclear deal, which require it to give up material that world powers feared could be used to make an atomic weapon and accept other restrictions on its nuclear programme.

But President Hassan Rouhani ordered his defence minister last week to expand the missile programme.

Full report at:

http://nation.com.pk/international/06-Jan-2016/iran-unveils-second-underground-missile-depot-likely-to-irk-us

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Yemen war intensifies

January 06, 2016

DUBAI/new york - Saudi-led air strikes targeting Iranian-allied Houthi forces intensified in Yemen on Tuesday, residents said, an escalation of a nine-month-old war that follows a rise in tensions between the kingdom and arch foe Tehran.

After weeks of a relative lull, large air strikes targeted military positions linked to Yemen's ascendant Houthis in the capital Sanaa, the port city of Hodaida and the disputed southwestern city of Taiz. Heavy shelling resumed on battle fronts which had been largely static during a truce which began on Dec. 15 in tandem with United Nations-backed peace talks.

Houthi fighters launched Katyusha rockets at the city of Marib, residents said, their first attack on the area since Gulf Arab troops and armed loyalists of President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi seized it from the group over the summer.

Houthi forces also advanced against government militiamen in the northwestern province of Hajja and the far southern province of Lahj, reversing recent gains made the coalition. A military coalition led by Saudi Arabia and its allies has been fighting Yemen's Houthi movement in Yemen to repel what it sees as creeping influence by the group's ally, Iran.

The kingdom on Saturday announced the end of the truce, which had reduced fighting but had been repeatedly violated by both sides. Civilians are suffering a “terrible toll” in the fighting tearing Yemen apart, with casualties now topping 8,100, nearly 2,800 of them killed, amid Saudi-led coalition airstrikes, shelling by Houthi groups and other clashes, the United Nations reported Tuesday. “Airstrikes have continued into the New Year, with around 11 strikes taking place in the capital Sana’a on Sunday and Monday (3 and 4 January), and further airstrikes are reported to have been carried out in the early hours of this morning,” UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) spokesperson Rupert Colville told the regular news briefing in Geneva.

He put civilian casualties recorded between 26 March and 31 December, 2015 at 8,119 people, 2,795 of them killed and 5,324 wounded, noting that at least 62 civilians were reported killed by airstrikes attributed to coalition forces in December, more than twice the number of November.

“We have also received alarming information on the alleged use of cluster bombs by coalition forces in Hajjah Governorate,” he added, reporting that an OHCHR team found remnants of 29 cluster submunitions near banana plantations in Al-Odair village in Haradh District.

“According to witnesses, several other villages in the same area have also been affected. Our team also documented the use of cluster submunitions in several other districts, including Hairan and Bakel Al-Meer, and interviewed two patients who had reportedly been wounded, in separate incidents, after stepping on unexploded submunitions.” During December, at least 11 civilians were allegedly killed by shelling attributed to members of the Popular Committees affiliated with the Houthis, a significant decrease compared to 32 reportedly killed by them in November, Colville said.

The UN has been trying to broker an end to the fighting but these efforts have been stymied by violations of the ceasefire required to get the process under way. In December UN Special Envoy Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed adjourned peace talks until mid-January to allow for bi-lateral in-country and regional consultations to achieve a ceasefire.

The spokesman voiced particular concern at the situation in the central city of Taiz, scene of virtually uninterrupted violent clashes for more than eight months, where strict control of all entry points by Houthi-affiliated Popular Committees has limited access to essential items, including food, and made conditions extremely difficult for the civilian population.

The health situation in Taiz governorate has also continued to deteriorate, with Al-Rawdha Hospital, one of the largest still operating, forced to turn patients away. The prison system has been heavily impacted, he added, with over 40 prisoners reportedly killed and 10 others injured by airstrikes or indiscriminate shelling. More than 4,300 prisoners have reportedly escaped from facilities across the country, including those in Sa’ada, Al Dhale’e and Aden, after they were hit by airstrikes or breached in armed clashes.

Prisoners are increasingly vulnerable. Food, electricity, water and fuel shortages have been reported in many detention facilities as well as the spread of contagious diseases, such as scabies. Many detention facilities are also severely overcrowded.

"During the month of December, at least 62 civilians were reported to have been killed by airstrikes attributed to the coalition forces," Rupert Colville, spokesman for the UN human rights agency, told reporters.

That number, he pointed out, was more than double the 29 civilians reported killed in such strikes a month earlier.

The number of civilians killed by the Iran-backed Huthi rebels and their allies was meanwhile cut by two thirds to at least 11 in December from 32 a month earlier, Colville said. The remaining eight civilian deaths last month have not yet been conclusively attributed to either side, he told AFP.

The dramatic increase in the number of civilians killed in airstrikes came despite a ceasefire declared on December 15, at the same time as UN-backed peace talks between the warring sides began in Switzerland.

Full report at:

http://nation.com.pk/international/06-Jan-2016/yemen-war-intensifies

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South Yemen officials survive bombing

6 January 2016

Three senior south Yemeni officials survived a car bombing that targeted their convoy in the port city of Aden on Tuesday and killed two of their guards, security sources said.

Seven other guards were wounded when the bomb-laden vehicle exploded in the Inmaa district, the sources said, after previously giving a toll of one dead and eight wounded.

Newly appointed Aden Governor Aidarus al-Zubaidi, city police chief General Shallal Ali Shayae and the governor of neighboring Lahj province, Naser al-Khubaji, were travelling in the convoy.

They were returning from a visit to a camp of Emirati troops taking part in the Saudi-led coalition that has been battling Iran-backed rebels in Yemen since March, the sources said.

Aidarus was appointed in December after his predecessor, Jaafar Saad, was killed in an Aden bombing claimed by ISIS.

The assassination attempt comes after security forces arrested a local Al-Qaeda leader during a sweep targeting extremists in the southern city, security officials said.

The capture of Mohammed al-Lahji, the group’s chief in the Tawahi district, along with two of his bodyguards, sparked a gunfight overnight in which a policeman was wounded, they said.

Aden, the government’s temporary capital, has seen a growing extremist presence, with Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, long active in Yemen, and ISIS apparently vying for influence.

Full report at:

http://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2016/01/06/South-Yemen-officials-survive-bombing.html

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Israel returns bodies of slain Palestinians

6 January 2016

Israel has returned the bodies of three Palestinians killed carrying out attacks, their families said Tuesday, in the first such handover in east Jerusalem in three months of violence.

Ishak Badran and Ahmed Quneibi, both from Kafr Aqeb in east Jerusalem, were buried at noon, while the body of Mohammad Said was laid to rest in a separate ceremony nearby.

The three men were among dozens of Palestinian attackers carrying out stabbings, car rammings and shootings that have led to the death of 22 Israelis since October 1.

At the same time, 139 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces, most while carrying out attacks.

Full report at:

http://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2016/01/06/Israel-returns-bodies-of-Palestinian-attackers-.html

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Africa

 

Fresh sex abuse charges against U.N. forces in Central Africa

6 January 2016

The U.N. peacekeeping mission in Central African Republic said on Tuesday it was investigating new allegations of sexual abuse of minors by peacekeepers in the conflict-torn African nation.

Last month, an independent review panel accused the United Nations and its agencies of grossly mishandling allegations of child sexual abuse in 2013 and 2014 by international peacekeepers in the Central African Republic.

While those allegations did not involve U.N. troops or police wearing blue helmets or berets, charges later emerged of misconduct by U.N. peacekeepers in Central African Republic (CAR).

The mission in CAR, known as MINUSCA, said in a statement it was “investigating fresh allegations concerning both sexual exploitation and abuse and other misconduct by U.N. Peacekeepers and international forces in Bangui.”

It said that staff of the U.N. Children’s Fund based in Bangui have had four visits with four alleged child victims.

The statement said the head of MINUSCA, Parfait Onanga-Anyanga, was discussing with the U.N. human rights office in Geneva ways of combating sexual abuse, including through the formation of a police brigade that would identify perpetrators and deter such abuse.

It was not clear how many peacekeepers were involved in the alleged abuse or what countries they were from.

Full report at:

http://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/africa/2016/01/06/Fresh-sex-abuse-charges-against-U-N-forces-in-Central-Africa.html

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Niger winning war against Boko Haram, says army chief

Jan 5, 2016

Niger's army chief has said that the landlocked West African country is close to winning the war against Takfiri Bako Haram terrorist group.

General Seini Garba told state radio on Tuesday that Niamey forces have achieved great accomplishments in the fight against the Nigeria-based militant group over the past few months.

However, the army chief admitted that the militant group has still the capacity to do great harm to the country.

"We have made tremendous efforts and we have had great results in the fight against Boko Haram," Garba said, adding "We feel we are in the process of winning the war even though the terrorist group still has the capacity to harm."

In October last year, Niger's Interior Minister Hassoumi Massaoudou had said that the main challenge for the military was securing the border with Nigeria.

Boko Haram Takfiri militants have frequently targeted several villages and towns across southeast Niger. Niger's Diffa region, a border area with Nigeria has witnessed several attacks since February, including one in June 2015 in which 38 people lost their lives.

The latest remarks by the military chief come as Nigerien troops backed by fighter jets have been establishing a network around major towns and cities to block militants’ infiltration.

Niger has joined a regional military alliance alongside Cameroon, Chad and Nigeria to battle Boko Haram elements.

Full report at:

http://www.presstv.ir/Detail/2016/01/05/444644/Niger-Boko-Haram-Diffa-General-Seini-Garba-Daesh--/

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Burundi general pleads guilty to coup attempt

January 06, 2016

NAIROBI - Former Burundi defence minister Cyrille Ndayirukiye and four other defendants have pleaded guilty to involvement in a failed coup last May during a trial of 28 police and military figures, judicial sources said Tuesday.

Ndayirukiye, number two among the coup plotters, and two other army generals and two police commissioners cited the violent repression of anti-government protests to justify their attempted takeover of power.

"I could not remain with my arms crossed while the police were killing the population, while President Pierre Nkurunziza was playing football and while the troops... appeared indifferent," army general Ndayirukiye said during his first statement from the witness box on Monday, the sources said.

They face possible life imprisonment.

Burundi was plunged into crisis last April when Nkurunziza announced a controversial bid for a third term, triggering deadly street protests followed by an attempted coup, which laid bare political splits within the military.

Coup leader General Godefroid Niyombare is currently on the run.

The opposition and rights groups say the president's quest for a third term - which he won in July elections - violated a constitutional two-term limit as well as a 2006 peace deal that ended a 13-year civil war.

Full report at:

http://nation.com.pk/international/06-Jan-2016/burundi-general-pleads-guilty-to-coup-attempt

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North America

 

US: Saudi-Iran row may effect anti-ISIL effort

06 January 2016

Tension between Saudi Arabia and Iran has not had any effect on overall anti-ISIL campaign, but could, a top U.S. envoy said Tuesday.

"So far we have not seen any impact on the overall ISIL campaign," said Brett McGurk, U.S. presidential envoy for the U.S.-led coalition fighting ISIL.

"Obviously, it’s something that we’re concerned about, and that’s why the secretary has spent so much time on it," he said, referring to Secretary of State John Kerry.

He also expressed concerns that polarization in the region could enable extremists on both sides to take advantage of the situation, which might play "into the hands of groups like ISIL".

A State Department spokesman said Kerry will remain in close communication with regional leaders in the Middle East after having spoken to Saudi Arabian Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir and Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif.

"We are encouraging a de-escalation," said John Kirby.

Kerry has worked the phones with those leaders since Monday after relations between Saudi Arabia and Iran broke down following the execution of prominent Shia cleric Nimr Baqir al-Nimr and 46 prisoners who had, for the most part, been convicted of committing acts of "terrorism".

Full report at:

http://www.worldbulletin.net/america-canada/168125/us-saudi-iran-row-may-effect-anti-isil-effort

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Donald Trump releases first campaign ad in 2016, spotlight on Muslim ban

Jan 6, 2016

Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump is giving some of the most divisive proposals of his campaign a starring role in his first major television ad, as the unsettled race for the party’s nomination swirls around security concerns.

With the opening 2016 primary contest four weeks away, the billionaire businessman is spotlighting his plan to ban Muslims from entering the United States — temporarily and with exceptions, he says — and to build a wall along the southern border. Trump’s campaign says he plans to spend $2 million a week on the ad, set to begin airing Tuesday across the first two states to cast votes in the Republican nominating contest. Iowa hosts the nation’s kickoff presidential caucuses on February 1 and New Hampshire follows the opening primary election on February 9. The real estate magnate, who leads the Republican field nationally, is fighting for a good showing in the leadoff states against several rivals, particularly Senator Ted Cruz.

Trump’s proposal on Muslims has been condemned by Republicans and Democrats as un-American and counterproductive, yet the hardline approach to immigration has fueled his popularity among the overwhelmingly white Republican primary electorate.

The new ad features dark images of the San Bernardino shooters, who were Muslims, and body bags. “The politicians can pretend it’s something else. But Donald Trump calls it radical Islamic terrorism. That’s why he’s calling for a temporary shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until we can figure out what’s going on,” a narrator says.

Video footage later in the ad shows people apparently streaming freely across a border as the narrator says Trump will “stop illegal immigrants by building a wall on our southern border that Mexico will pay for.”

Facing questions from news outlets, the Trump campaign acknowledged in a statement Monday that the border images were of a Spanish enclave in Morocco, not the US-Mexican border.

“I think it’s irrelevant,” Trump said in an interview on Fox News Channel’s “The O’Reilly Factor” Monday night. “So you can just take it any way you want, but it’s really merely a display of what a dumping ground is going to look like. And that’s what our country’s becoming very rapidly.”

His campaign elaborated in a statement, saying the selection of footage was intended “to demonstrate the severe impact of an open border and the very real threat Americans face if we do not immediately build a wall and stop illegal immigration.”

The ad, posted on Trump’s website Monday, is a departure from the typical introductory campaign spot, which often features a candidate introducing himself voters or sharing her life story.

But Trump already is well-known to voters. He was the star of the popular “The Apprentice,” his name is plastered on high-rise and hotel buildings across the country and he has dominated news coverage over the last six months.

Full report at:

http://indianexpress.com/article/world/world-news/donald-trump-releases-first-campaign-ad-in-2016-spotlight-on-muslim-ban/

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US says it tried to dissuade Saudis from executing Nimr

Jan 6, 2016

WASHINGTON: The United States had warned Saudi Arabia before the recent execution of a Shia cleric that executing Shaikh Nimr al-Nimr would have damaging consequences, the White House said.

White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest also told a briefing in Washington that the United States had regularly raised concerns about the human rights situation in Saudi Arabia, including in conversations between President Barack Obama and Saudi King Salman.

Shaikh Nimr’s execution has led to the breaking of diplomatic ties between Saudi Arabia and Iran while a number of other Arab countries have also either severed or downgraded their diplomatic relations with Tehran. The execution has also deepened the sectarian divide in the Middle East.

“There have been direct concerns raised by US officials to Saudi officials about the potential damaging consequences of following through on mass executions, in particular the execution of al-Nimr, the political opposition figure but also a religious leader,” Mr Earnest said.

“This is a concern that we raised with the Saudis in advance. And unfortunately, the concerns that we expressed to the Saudis have precipitated the kinds of consequences that we were concerned about,” he added.

Asked if Saudi Arabia gave the White House a heads-up before cutting off ties with Iran, Mr Earnest said: ‘I’m not going to get into the details of all of the diplomatic conversations between the United States and Saudi officials.”

The White House spokesman warned that the Saudi-Iran dispute would make it more difficult to seek a political solution to the Syrian conflict.

“It certainly is going to be even more difficult to get everybody back around the table if you have the Saudis and the Iranians trading public barbs and public expressions of antagonism between the two countries,” he said. The White House official said that the United States wanted Iran and Saudi Arabia to de-escalate the situation and was engaged with both to achieve this target.

Full report at:

http://www.dawn.com/news/1231101/us-says-it-tried-to-dissuade-saudis-from-executing-nimr

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US college begins effort to fire professor for comment on Islam

Jan 6, 2016

Officials of a Christian college in suburban Chicago on Tuesday said they have begun efforts to fire a professor who was placed on leave after asserting that Christians and Muslims worship the same God.

Wheaton College announced its action against Larycia Hawkins in a statement on its website, saying Provost Stanton Jones initiated the termination-for-cause proceeding after Hawkins refused to participate in “clarifying conversations” about theological issues.

The private evangelical school west of Chicago said it placed Hawkins on paid administrative leave in December because of theological statements “that seem inconsistent with Wheaton College’s doctrinal convictions, which she voluntarily agreed to support and uphold when she entered into an employment agreement with the college.” Hawkins also had begun wearing a hijab, the headscarf worn by some Muslim women, but the school has said that is not why she was placed on leave.

Full report at:

http://indianexpress.com/article/world/world-news/us-college-begins-effort-to-fire-professor-for-comment-on-islam/

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Company fires nearly 200 Muslims for prayer request

05 January 2016

The legal representative for around 200 Muslim workers who were fired from a meat packing facility was adamant Monday that the group simply wants to return to work.

The workers, the majority of whom are Somali, were dismissed from a facility in Fort Morgan, Colorado, after more than 200 participated in a walkout to protest what they say is a change to the company’s workplace prayer policy.

“They’re requesting to get their jobs back and to go back to what they understood to be the policy,” Jaylani Hussein, the Minnesota executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, which is representing the workers.

The exact circumstances surrounding the initial dispute remain murky. Cargill Meat Solutions says the employees had requested group prayers that would have hindered workflow while Hussein says no such appeal was made.

“They’re just trying to spin the story so they seem more favorable,” Hussein told Anadolu Agency.

Cargill maintains that there has been no change to company policy regarding prayer, and said in a statement that the row stems from a “misunderstanding” that took root in the Somali community “indicating Cargill was ending prayer entirely due to a policy change”. 

“Cargill takes our commitment to employees seriously and this has been an unfortunate situation,” Michael Martin, a Cargill spokesman, said in a statement to AA. “At no time did Cargill prevent employees from prayer at Fort Morgan, nor have we changed policies related to religious accommodation and attendance.”

Praying five times a day is obligatory for observant Muslims.

The company has provided its employees with a “reflection area” since 2009, and the room is “is available during work shifts based on our ability to adequately staff a given work area”, according to Martin.

The employees were fired after they failed to call in or show up for work for three consecutive days during their protest.

That policy is mere window-dressing, Hussein said.

“The no call, no show policy is just a blatant way of getting rid of all these employees,” he said.

Full report at:

http://www.worldbulletin.net/america-canada/168097/emotional-obama-unveils-new-gun-rules

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In policy shift, US sees Assad staying in Syria until March 2017

Jan 6, 2016

WASHINGTON: The Obama administration's best-case scenario for political transition in Syria does not foresee Bashar Assad stepping down as the country's leader before March 2017, outlasting Barack Obama's presidency by at least two months, according to a document obtained by The Associated Press.

It is pertinent to mention that the US has traditionally opposed Assad's rule in Syria. The US adopting the view that Assad may have to stay in power till at least 2017 represents a major shift in policy.

An internal timeline prepared for United States (US) officials dealing with the Syria crisis sets an unspecified date in March 2017 for Assad to "relinquish" his position as president and for his "inner circle" to depart. That would be more than five years after Obama first called for Assad to leave.

The timeline is based on a broad United Nations (UN)-endorsed plan that was initially laid out at an international conference in Vienna in November.

Syria, according to that strategy, would hold elections for a new president and parliament in August 2017 some 19 months from now.

Countless hurdles lie ahead for this latest blueprint for ending five years of conflict that has killed more than a quarter-million people, created the worst refugee crisis in Europe since World War II and allowed the militant Islamic State (IS) group to carve out a would-be caliphate across parts of Iraq and Syria.

Not the least of those hurdles is the growing rift between Saudi Arabia and Iran, which back opposite sides in the Syria conflict and had to be lobbied heavily to agree to meet in Vienna to craft a way forward for the war-torn country.

Challenges to the timeline

Saudi Arabia executed a prominent Shia cleric and then severed diplomatic relations with Iran this week after its embassy in Tehran was stormed by a mob protesting the death.

It is not yet clear what impact those developments might have on the Syria negotiations.

If Saudi-Iranian tensions can be overcome, if peace talks between the Syrian government and opposition go ahead later this month as planned and if they are successful, the biggest challenge to the US timeline is still that no one else has yet agreed to its specifics, particularly those related to Assad's departure.

Assad has steadfastly refused to step down while his nation's terrorist threat persists. The timeline offers no explanation for exactly how Assad would leave or what his post-presidential future might hold.

And his chief backers, Russia and Iran, have resisted all efforts by outside powers to determine Syria's future leadership, insisting that is a decision for the Syrian people.

Russia and Iran may object to the US timeline's call for Assad to leave six months before elections would be held.

The Syrian opposition, mostly militant groups, wants Assad out as soon as possible. The opposition along with US allies like Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey could view the American concept as a betrayal.

The US is balancing numerous considerations as it seeks to quell Syria's violence and advance several US strategic objectives in the region.

Full report at:

dawn.com/news/1231146/in-policy-shift-us-sees-assad-staying-in-syria-until-march-2017

 

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