New Age Islam
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Islamic World News ( 24 May 2016, NewAgeIslam.Com)

Terrorists See All Europe as Vast Battleground, Says Expert

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photo: Islamic State sees the whole of Europe, including Ireland, as the “home of the Jews and the Crusaders” and one “vast battleground” for its terrorists, a leading expert has warned.


Conspiracy of Turning India into Syria and Libya? Hindu Religious Leaders Denounce Bajrang Dal’s Weapons Training Camps, Call for Strict Action

Hindus, Muslims Join Hands to Save Hanuman Temple

'ISIL Uses Civilians in Raqqa as Human Shield'

Kurds in Syria Will Let You Down, Turkey Warns US

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Europe

Terrorists See All Europe as Vast Battleground, Says Expert

Top Muslim Cleric Calls for Global Efforts to End Terrorism

Tony Blair Calls For 'Proper Ground War' With Islamic State

Why Are So Many Muslim Refugees in Europe Suddenly Finding Jesus?

ISIS sicko lurks just outside Spurs' White Hart Lane home in chilling photo

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India

Conspiracy of Turning India into Syria and Libya? Hindu Religious Leaders Denounce Bajrang Dal’s Weapons Training Camps, Call for Strict Action

Hindus, Muslims Join Hands to Save Hanuman Temple

Times Now Editor-in-Chief Calls Muslim Journalist Indian Mujahedeen Sympathiser; Times Now Takes Down Video

Assam's Nellie Muslims Say Their Vote Was To Stay Back In India

Indian Mujahideen Man Gave Shelter to Islamic State Recruit in Dubai

Hinduism not a Religion, says Spiritual guru Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev

FIR Filed Against Bajrang Dal Activists Over ‘Self Defence’ Camp

ISIS India wing talked about extorting money from Bollywood stars

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Arab World

'ISIL Uses Civilians in Raqqa as Human Shield'

Syrian Democratic Forces Drive ISIL back from Key Territories North of Raqqa

Iraqi Police Announces Liberating 2 Villages North of Fallujah

Syrian Army Continues to Hunt Al-Nusra Terrorists East of Damascus

Tehran, Kabul Stress Strengthening Anti-Terrorism Security Cooperation

Terrorists' Attacks Repulsed by Syrian Army West of Damascus Province

Tens of Iraqi Families Escape ISIL's Human Shield near Fallujah

Russian Military Denies ISIL Destroyed Helicopters in Syria

Russian, Syrian Warplanes Target ISIL Fuel Tankers in Aleppo

Syrian Army Fends off Terrorists' Attacks in Eastern Homs

Iran Strongly Condemns Terrorist Attacks in Syria's Tartous, Jableh

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Mideast

Kurds in Syria Will Let You Down, Turkey Warns US

Syrian Peace Process under Threat as Erdogan Mulls Military Intervention

Israeli Muslims Are Less Religious Than Muslims From Other Regions

Estonian PM doesn't rule out taking refugees direct from Turkey

Over 80,000 victims of violence appeal to Turkish Family Ministry in two years

Hamas anti-Semitic Ramadan show enters second season

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Pakistan

Sindh Madrasa Finances Being Analysed To Trace Source of Their Funding

Gen Raheel 'Seriously Concerned' Over Violation of Sovereignty by US

U.S. clears reimbursement fund for Pakistan for ‘anti-terrorism efforts’

Pakistan needs to actively pursue terrorist organizations using their soil: U.S.

Corruption scandal: Balochistan's former finance adviser arrested by NAB

Three FC men shot dead in Peshawar

Military court to try Safoora carnage ‘facilitators’, rules SHC

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South Asia

Islamic State 'Falsely Claiming' Attacks In Bangladesh

11 Killed, 10 Wounded In Kabul Suicide Attack

Removing Mansoor eliminates one roadblock to peace in Afghanistan: Carter

Taliban release photo of its new supreme leader Mawlavi Haibatullah Akhundzada

Hekmatyar offer condolences over Mullah Mansoor’s death

No specific timeframe for the conclusion of peace deal with Hezb-e-Islami: ARG

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Southeast Asia

No Handshake Exemption for Muslim Pupils, Swiss Canton Rules

Thai Firm to Build Halal Food Plant in Malaysia

Media helps to spread Islamic values

Inquiry urged after Rohingya shot in detention center breakout

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Africa

Germany, France Hold Back NATO, EU Ambitions in Libya

Islamic World Eyeing Investments in Africa

Africa Live: Nigeria emir condemns child marriages, Mugabe tribute march

Sister of NHS doctor who joined Isis says parents will 'never forgive him'

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North America

A Look At The Markaz, The Community Centre For Muslim Students

Canada Home To Islamic Radicals

Militants Attacking US and Afghan Forces to Be Targeted: US

Muslims for Trump Founder: Donald ‘Is the Only One Who Can Save America

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau

URL: http://www.newageislam.com/islamic-world-news/new-age-islam-news-bureau/terrorists-see-all-europe-as-vast-battleground,-says-expert/d/107419

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Conspiracy of Turning India into Syria and Libya? Hindu Religious Leaders Denounce Bajrang Dal’s Weapons Training Camps, Call for Strict Action

By Mumtaz Aalam Rizvi, Inqilab Bureau

(Translation: New Age Islam Edit Desk)

New Delhi 25 May 2016

For decades, Millat-e-Islamia (Muslim community) has been raising its voice against the communal tendencies of RSS, VHP and Bajrang Dal. But now, for the first time, even Hindu organisations have raised alarm on their activities and have demanded strictest actions against such organisations which are disturbing the peaceful environment of the country.


 Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) and Bajrang Dal have organised a camp in Ayodhya (the city of the demolished Babri masjid) where people are being trained in using swords, rifles and Lathis (long, heavy iron-bound bamboo sticks used as weapons, especially by police in South Asia). It has also been announced that after Ayodhya such deadly camps will be organised at Sultanpur, Gorakhpur, Pilibhit and Fatahpur etc. It has created an atmosphere of tension in not only Uttar Pradesh but throughout the nation.


 Shankaracharya Adhoksha Nand Maharaj says, whenever BJP has come in power in the Centre, such communal organisations get active and raise their heads. He says, “Such communal forces know that no action will be taken against them hence they get involved in spreading communal tension”.


 He further says: “It looks like it is their endeavour to transform India into Syria and Libya. In the way some Islamic terrorist organisations have created an atmosphere of terror in the Muslim countries, Indian communal organisations, like VHP, RSS and Bajrang Dal are also trying to destroy the social fabric of India”. He asserted, “Central and State governments must be in the knowledge of what these communal organisations are doing. Hence the harshest steps should be taken against them”.


 Shankaracharya is of the opinion that if parties like Bajrang Dal are not reined in they will ruin the social fabric of the country and all the development work will come to a standstill”.


 Well known social worker Swami Agnivesh says, “I do not know who are being trained and who is training them, but if it is so the Central government must take immediate action as it is very dangerous.”


 Swami Chakrpani Maharaj, President of Akhil Bhartiya Hindu Mahasabha wondered while talking to Inqilab Bureau, “the question is why such things start raising their heads just as the elections are round the corner”.


 Chakrpani Maharaj said, Organisations like RSS, VHP and Bajrang Dal create tension and the atmosphere becomes communally charged so that vote polarisation is possible”.


 Swamiji wondered, “What kind of training is being given and against whom? If VHP and Bajrang Dal want to construct Ram Mandir, they have their government at the centre; they should promulgate law, set-up fast courts in this regard, but no, these things will not be done because they just have to do politics”. He said if a temple is constructed by killing the sensitivities of a particular community, it will not be tolerated. Swami Chakrpani Maharaj said: “The first thing needed in the society is peace. People want to live in a peaceful environment but organisations like Bajrang Dal always communalise the society and spread tension and the governments remain mute spectators. All those who are responsible for tension in the society are the enemies of the humanity and peace”. He further said, “It is necessary to take harsh actions against them to take the country on the path of development.


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Will India Tolerate if Muslims also are Trained in Using Deadly Weapons, Questions Uttam Sharma, Convenor Pragatisheel Morcha

By Mumtaz Aalam Rizvi, Inquilab Bureau

(Translation: New Age Islam Edit Desk)

New Delhi 25 May 2016

Varanasi (INN): Uttam Sharma, Convenor Pragatisheel Morcha has expressed his anguish and concern on the training camps organised and run by Bajrang Dal in Ayodhya to train people in using deadly weapons.


 He said, “Such camps are unconstitutional and illegal and government should take immediate actions against such unsocial elements. In the guise of organising such training camps, communal hatred and tension is being sown. This is very much clear as the people who are shown as terrorists during the training are shown wearing Muslim caps and they are also shown having beards”. He says, “Such activities of the Bajrang Dal and other such organisations point to what their original objective is.


 Talking on phone with the Inquilab bureau, Uttam Sharma raised a question that, “If Muslims also organise such camps will the country tolerate it”? He requested the government to take strict action against such organisations and at the earliest.

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Terrorists see all Europe as vast battleground, says expert

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Islamic State sees the whole of Europe, including Ireland, as the “home of the Jews and the Crusaders” and one “vast battleground” for its terrorists, a leading expert has warned.

Jean-Pierre Filiu, Professor of Middle Eastern Studies at Sciences Po in Paris, says Isis wants to “trigger violence against European Muslims” to fuel recruitment and their narrative of “them against us”.

Speaking in Dublin, Prof Filiu called for a coherent and strong European policy to tackle Isis and said the only way to defeat the terror group is through supporting local armed forces in Syria: “I think Isis is envisioning Europe far more European than Europe is.”

“For them, there is no border, just a question of opportunity. For them, the whole of Europe, no matter the cultural, national or historical differences, is the ‘home of the Jews and the Crusaders’ in their propaganda.” The author of From Deep State to Islamic State spoke to the Irish Examiner after he delivered a speech to the Institute of International and European Affairs.

He said Isis terrorists are very opportunistic. He said he understands Garda authorities rate the direct threat here as moderate: “Probably they are right, but the whole continent is threatened.”

And he pointed out: “You’ve had fellow citizens killed on the beaches of Sousse”, referring to the three Irish people murdered in the Isis-inspired massacre in Tunisia last June.

He said Ireland along with all other EU member states should take part in drawing up a more robust policy towards the Islamic State in Syria: “It is certainly a foreign issue [for Ireland], because it is over there. But it is a foreign issue that can have a deep impact on domestic policy and also where this society, like other European societies, are evolving.”

This includes, he says, the rise of Islamaphobia: “We cannot believe what is happening over there, will stay over there,” he said.

The historian and Arabist said a particularly dangerous aspect of Isis strategy is to drive a wedge within Europe against its Muslim population: “They want to trigger violence against European Muslims and every time Isis strikes in Europe what they want is civil war — civil war on a small or large scale, civil war because it will fuel recruitment and fuel their narrative of ‘them against us’.”

He likened Isis to a “postmodern cult”, one that is proficient in the use of media and propaganda: “Like all cults they have a coherent vision of the world and the chosen few are part of the vanguard.”

He said the actions of Russian President Vladamir Putin — through his indiscriminate bombing campaign — have “given a new intensity to the prophesy” and to Isis recruitment.

“They are saying ‘look, the whole world is against us and we are still winning, so the prophesy is happening.” As a French diplomat for more than 20 years, he said: “You can’t contain jihadi totalitarianism. If you don’t defeat it, it will expand and that’s what it’s doing — Isis is recruiting and expanding.”

Prof Filiu called for solidarity at EU level to “really tackle it as a European challenge”— and that a strategy and coalition similar to that after the 9/11 attacks is needed.

He said no war was ever won by aerial bombardment and said you need “local forces”, not foreign ones, as the latter is exactly what Isis wanted.

irishexaminer.com/ireland/terrorists-see-all-europe-as-vast-battleground-says-expert-401401.html

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Hindus, Muslims Join Hands to Save Hanuman Temple

May 24, 2016

RAIPUR: Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) Bajrang Dal and representatives of Chhattisgarh Muslim Manch, all came together to save Raipur's Sankat Mochan after the Supreme Court ordered its demolition earlier this month.

With the slogan "Ab ye humne thana hai, Sankatmochan ko Bachana hai," members of Bajrang Dal, Vishwa Hindu Parishad and Chhattisgarh Muslim Manch are taking to Raipur roads to make people aware about the signature petition which has been formed to save the Hanuman temple at Kharun river. The Supreme Court, on May 11, has ordered Chhattisgarh government to demolish the temple with immediate effect which has been built by the family trust of speaker Gaurishankar Agarwal on the banks of the river.

Talking to TOI, Salim Raj, coordinator of Rashtriya Muslim Manch said that they will be organizing a signature campaign at Jaistambh Chauk on Wednesday at 5 pm.

"All those who want to save Hanuman temple must come up and sign the postcards and letters which will be sent to the apex court and president to withdraw the orders of temple demolition," added Salim Raj. Yunus Qureshi, state president of Chhattisgarh Muslim Community said that the act of taking the temple matter to SC has been done by anti-social elements, just to tarnish the image of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

"All the temple, mosques and churches are built on revenue lands so what is new with Sankatmochan temple. Such orders can lay adverse impact on the communal harmony," he added.

Chhattisgarh regional Agarwal Sangathan has also joined the initiative started by Bajrang Dal and VHP to get maximum signatures of locals so that the apex court would get force to withdraw its orders. "While the administration was developing the place as picnic spot, what is wrong if a temple has been constructed there instead of a park," said Mahant Ramsundar Das.

The right wing groups are taking out mobile vans to the busy spots of the city including Telibanda Lake, Gandhi Udayan, Moti Bagh, Chaupati to name a few, where huge crowd gather on a regular basis to get maxim support of locals.

The order of temple demolition came on the petition filed by NGO Hamari Sanghwari. According to the complainant, Agarwal's family trust has constructed a Hanuman temple, a Satsang Bhavan, a garden and 19 shops on government land. The encroachment was done by Guari Shankar Agarwal's family trust - Chhaganlal Govindram Agarwal Trust. The temple was inaugurated by chief minister Raman Singh in April, 2012.

In May 2012, Hamari Sangwari filed a petition before Chhattisgarh Lok Aayog against the illegal acquisition and sought action against senior officials, including Raipur collector, who allegedly facilitated the acquisition and subsequent construction. In June 7, 2014, in a letter to Lok Aayog, the then Raipur collector Thakur Ram Singh claimed that since the trust "has not removed the encroachment, an order has been passed to acquire the property and hand it over to Raipur municipal corporation." The instruction for confiscation was made when the trust refused to demolish the erected illegal structure.

The issue of this encroachment and construction had echoed in state legislative assembly and opposition Congress leaders had sought to move a no-confidence motion against the Speaker. However, the motion was disallowed on the ground that such a motion cannot be accepted as it requires a 14-day prior notice.

timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/raipur/Hindus-Muslims-join-hands-to-save-Sankat-Mochan/articleshow/52418901.cms

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'ISIL Uses Civilians in Raqqa as Human Shield'

May 25, 2016

TEHRAN (FNA)- A Syrian activist said the ISIL terrorist group is using civilians in the Syrian city of Raqqa as human shields during their fight against an alliance of Syrian Democratic Forces.

The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) began an operation on Tuesday to take control of areas in Northern Raqqa from the militant group. The group’s offensive is supported by US warplanes, presstv reported. 

The SDF fighters reportedly moved south from Tal Abyad town near the Turkish border toward Ain Issa, about 60km Northwest of Raqqa.

The alliance’s commander Rojda Felat said the aim of the operation was to "liberate Northern Raqqa" and people who live under the "oppression" of ISIL.

"The campaign is aimed at repelling terrorist attacks on Shaddadi, Tal Abyad and Kobane, ensuring the security of our people," she added.

Some 22 militants were killed in the offensive, some Western-based humanitarian groups said.

This came as Abdel Aziz al-Hamza from the 'Raqqa is Being Slaughtered Silently' citizen journalist group said that ISIL militants use the civilians “as a cover. So you'll find them in the same building. In a civilian building, you'll find two or three apartments for ISIL fighters."

ISIL militants also use “some schools as places to stay because these schools have basements, something underground, so they are protected from the air strikes. And they are surrounded by civilian buildings," Hamza also said.

Hamza said Raqqa citizens are besieged and cannot leave the city. "ISIL doesn't let anyone leave the city. At the same time, life has become at least ten times more expensive in the city."

Thousands of people queue to get food from a relief kitchen in the city every day, Hamza also said.

The Tuesday operation is regarded as the most serious operations against the terrorists in Raqqa since the city was proclaimed by ISIL as the de facto capital of their “caliphate” in 2014.

en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13950305000583

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Kurds in Syria will let you down, Turkey warns US

May/25/2016

Turkey’s deputy chief of staff has warned a top U.S. commander visiting Turkey that cooperating with the People’s Protection Units (YPG) in northern Syria is highly dangerous.

“Do not be surprised if the YPG lets you down when the fight against ISIL gets tough,” Deputy Chief of Turkish General Staff Yaşar Güler told General Joseph Votel, the head of U.S. Central Command (Centcom), during a two-hour meeting in Ankara on May 23.

According to reports, the top commanders briefly supervised efforts to build up local forces in the fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), discussing an anticipated operation against ISIL stronghold Raqqa and developments on the “Azaz-Jarablus line,” which Turkey considers a “red line.”

Güler reportedly outlined Turkish efforts in the fight against ISIL, including the opening of the İncirlik Air Base in the southern province of Adana, logistical support and intelligence sharing. However, he also pointed out that the United States falls short in providing Turkey with similar support in pushing ISIL militants from the Azaz-Jarablus line using “moderate” opposition forces rather than the Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD), which is affiliated with the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

“An important threat will disappear if you provide support to the moderate opposition rather than the PYD to clear this line of ISIL,” Güler was reported as saying. Turkey considers both the PYD and its militia forces the YPG as off-shoots of the PKK, against which it has been conducting military operations in southeastern provinces for the last few months.

The Turkish general reportedly signaled that Turkey would not permit a takeover of the aforementioned region by the PYD.

He also underlined that Turkey has no intention of dispatching soldiers into Syrian territory without a decision by the United Nations Security Council.

Votel arrived in Ankara late on May 22, following his visit to Kobane to meet U.S. military advisers working with Syrian Arab fighters and the leaders of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), which includes the YPG and the PYD.

His visit comes at a time when Ankara has been calling on the U.S. and its Western allies to stop supporting the PYD. Washington has provided air power and small arms ammunition to the militant group, saying the PYD and the YPG are “reliable” partners in the fight against ISIL.

The United States has roughly 200 advisers on the ground in Syria but no combat units. Votel’s visit comes as the first of 250 more U.S. special operations forces are beginning to arrive.

Kurds play a dominant role in the U.S.-backed SDF, providing the core of the forces that have pushed back ISIL in the country’s northeast.

The SDF has a total of around 25,000 Kurdish fighters and around 5,000 Arab fighters, and Washington is pushing to bring more Arab forces into the group.

hurriyetdailynews.com/kurds-in-syria-will-let-you-down-turkey-warns-us.aspx?pageID=238&nID=99614&NewsCatID=352

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Europe

Terrorists see all Europe as vast battleground, says expert

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Islamic State sees the whole of Europe, including Ireland, as the “home of the Jews and the Crusaders” and one “vast battleground” for its terrorists, a leading expert has warned.

Jean-Pierre Filiu, Professor of Middle Eastern Studies at Sciences Po in Paris, says Isis wants to “trigger violence against European Muslims” to fuel recruitment and their narrative of “them against us”.

Speaking in Dublin, Prof Filiu called for a coherent and strong European policy to tackle Isis and said the only way to defeat the terror group is through supporting local armed forces in Syria: “I think Isis is envisioning Europe far more European than Europe is.”

“For them, there is no border, just a question of opportunity. For them, the whole of Europe, no matter the cultural, national or historical differences, is the ‘home of the Jews and the Crusaders’ in their propaganda.” The author of From Deep State to Islamic State spoke to the Irish Examiner after he delivered a speech to the Institute of International and European Affairs.

He said Isis terrorists are very opportunistic. He said he understands Garda authorities rate the direct threat here as moderate: “Probably they are right, but the whole continent is threatened.”

And he pointed out: “You’ve had fellow citizens killed on the beaches of Sousse”, referring to the three Irish people murdered in the Isis-inspired massacre in Tunisia last June.

He said Ireland along with all other EU member states should take part in drawing up a more robust policy towards the Islamic State in Syria: “It is certainly a foreign issue [for Ireland], because it is over there. But it is a foreign issue that can have a deep impact on domestic policy and also where this society, like other European societies, are evolving.”

This includes, he says, the rise of Islamaphobia: “We cannot believe what is happening over there, will stay over there,” he said.

The historian and Arabist said a particularly dangerous aspect of Isis strategy is to drive a wedge within Europe against its Muslim population: “They want to trigger violence against European Muslims and every time Isis strikes in Europe what they want is civil war — civil war on a small or large scale, civil war because it will fuel recruitment and fuel their narrative of ‘them against us’.”

He likened Isis to a “postmodern cult”, one that is proficient in the use of media and propaganda: “Like all cults they have a coherent vision of the world and the chosen few are part of the vanguard.”

He said the actions of Russian President Vladamir Putin — through his indiscriminate bombing campaign — have “given a new intensity to the prophesy” and to Isis recruitment.

“They are saying ‘look, the whole world is against us and we are still winning, so the prophesy is happening.” As a French diplomat for more than 20 years, he said: “You can’t contain jihadi totalitarianism. If you don’t defeat it, it will expand and that’s what it’s doing — Isis is recruiting and expanding.”

Prof Filiu called for solidarity at EU level to “really tackle it as a European challenge”— and that a strategy and coalition similar to that after the 9/11 attacks is needed.

He said no war was ever won by aerial bombardment and said you need “local forces”, not foreign ones, as the latter is exactly what Isis wanted.

irishexaminer.com/ireland/terrorists-see-all-europe-as-vast-battleground-says-expert-401401.html

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Top Muslim cleric calls for global efforts to end terrorism

24th May 2016

Rome, May 25 (IANS/AKI) The chief imam of Cairo's prestigious Al-Azhar mosque, Ahmad al-Tayyeb, has urged nations to join forces to end the scourge of terrorism and "rivers of blood".

"This is my appeal to the world and to the free men of the world: to come to an agreement immediately and to intervene to put an end to these rivers of blood," Tayyeb said.

He made the remarks in an interview with Vatican Radio and Vatican newspaper l'Osservatore Romano after his historic meeting at the Vatican on Monday with Pope Francis, who he called a "man of peace".

The prestigious Al-Azhar mosque and university is working to fight extremist ideology and help young people guard against radicalisation by those who are advocating violence and sowing discord between faiths, Tayyeb said.

"Yes, terrorism exists, but Islam has nothing to do with this terrorism, and this applies to Ulama (Muslim clerics) and to Christians and Muslims in the East," he said.

"And those who kill Muslims, and who also kill Christians, have misunderstood the texts of Islam either intentionally or by negligence."

"In every religion there exists a deviant faction that raises the flag of religion to kill in its name," Tayyeb stated.

Considered to be one of Egypt's most moderate Sunni clerics, Tayyeb was recently ranked among the world's top ten most influential Muslims.

On Monday he became the first chief imam of the Al-Azhar to visit the Vatican, when he held a 30-minute meeting with Pope Francis and also met the head of the Vatican's interfaith dialogue body, Jean-Louis Tauran.

"Our meeting is the message," said Francis as the two religious leaders embraced.

Francis and Tayyeb agreed at their meeting to oppose violence and terrorism and to strive to protect minority Christians in the Middle East, the Vatican said in a statement.

business-standard.com/article/news-ians/top-muslim-cleric-calls-for-global-efforts-to-end-terrorism-116052500009_1.html

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Tony Blair calls for 'proper ground war' with Islamic State

Wed May 25, 2016

Tony Blair yesterday called for a "proper ground war" against Islamic State in Iraq and Syria as he sought to defend himself from the potentially explosive conclusions of the Chilcot Inquiry into the Iraq war.

In one of his most candid speeches about his time in office, the former prime minister admitted that he had "underestimated profoundly" the forces that had been at work in the region and which would be released by the toppling of Saddam Hussein.

"The lesson is simple. It is that when you remove a dictatorship out come these forces of destabilisation, whether it is al-Qaeda on the Sunni side or Iran on the Shia side," he said.

Blair admitted his understanding of the Middle East is "a lot deeper today" than when he was in power and said the experience had led him to call for a more evolutionary solution to regime change in the wake of the Arab spring.

He has made similar admissions of culpability before, "but these remarks, weeks before the July publication of the Chilcot report, are likely to be seen as his chief line of defence", says The Guardian.

A source close to the Chilcot Inquiry told The Sunday Times that the long-awaited report into the Iraq war was to offer an "absolutely brutal" verdict on the failings of the military action and Blair's role in the lead-up to it.

Set to "savage" the former PM and other officials, the report "will also say that we really did make a mess of the aftermath", a source told the Sunday Times.

However, Blair once again refused to apologise for the invasion, insisting that the roots of Islamic State went back "many decades" and were not a result of the 2003 invasion or the sectarianism of the Maliki government that followed.

While he refused to explicitly mentioned the Chilcot report, "he gave a strong steer on his likely response to any criticisms he is likely for face", says the BBC's political correspondent Iain Watson, while also making it clear "he would be unapologetic for his role in taking Britain to war in 2003".

theweek.co.uk/syria/65094/tony-blair-calls-for-proper-ground-war-with-islamic-state

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Why Are So Many Muslim Refugees in Europe Suddenly Finding Jesus?

05.25.16

AMSTERDAM — Hundreds of Pakistanis and Afghans have been lining up at a local swimming pool in Hamburg, Germany, to be baptized as Christians. In the Netherlands and Denmark, as well, many are converting from Islam to Christianity, and the trend appears to be growing. Indeed, converts are filling up some European churches largely forsaken by their old Christian flocks.

All of which raises a question, not least, for the United States: If American presidential candidate Donald Trump gets elected and bars Muslims from entering the country, as he says he will, would the ban apply to Christians who used to be Muslims? How would one judge the quality of their faith?

For the moment, that quandary is a ways off for U.S. Homeland Security, but in Europe even now the phenomenon is fraught with echoes of the past, problems in the present, and omens for the future. Forced conversions of Muslims and Jews during the Spanish Inquisition were a dark page in Europe’s history. More than a little suspicion surrounds some of the current conversions, seen by some to be cynical bids to improve the chance of getting asylum. And, looking forward, it’s potentially quite dangerous for those who embrace the Gospel to return to homelands where abandoning Islam for another faith can be treated as a capital crime.

Still, many preachers are pleased. The German pastor of the Evangelical-Lutheran church in Berlin calls the conversion phenomenon “a gift from God.” In his modest community a staggering 1,200 Muslims, mainly Afghans and Iranians, converted in just three years.

In Hamburg, where German ARD TV showed the Pakistanis and Afghans lining up to be baptized by the pastor of the Persian Church community, more than 600 people reportedly were received into the congregation.

There is no reliable overall figure for converts in northern Europe, but judging by reports from different media outlets, it is safe to assume the number runs into the thousands, maybe even tens of thousands who say they want the Gospel, “the good news,” offered by Jesus Christ.

One young Iranian woman convert told the German news magazine Stern, “I’ve been looking all my life for peace and happiness, but in Islam, I have not found them,” Another convert told Stern he had found in Christianity an element—love—that was missing from the faith he was brought up in. “In Islam, we always lived in fear,” he said. “Fear God, fear of sin, fear of punishment. But Christ is a God of love.”

Not all church communities are equally excited about this new development, however. Some church leaders question the integrity of the new stream of conversions, which may be undertaken under subtle—or not so subtle—pressure.

Pastor Gerhard Scholte of the Reformed Keizersgracht Church, who also heads up the refugee task force of combined Amsterdam churches, says, “conversion to Christianity is not promoted in our church, so we see very little of it.” From his point of view, “Everyone is a child of God,” whether baptized or not. “Faith should not be conditional,” he says.

Indeed, Scholte suggests that conversion on a large scale may verge on abuse. “It is taking advantage of people in weak positions and it’s all about the figures,” Scholte says, “That is abhorrent to me.”

His Reformed Keizersgracht Church in Amsterdam has been working with refugees since the early ‘80s. “Unless it saves lives, we are not eager to convert. In that case however, we convert anyone who wants to,” Scholte adds. In fact, this church has a long tradition saving lives through conversion. “This is what our church did to help Jews in the Second World War,” he said.

Many evangelical communities today take a more pro-active posture. They approach their work with missionary zeal and, implicitly if not explicitly, may link aid to conversion.

In the Netherlands and other Northern European countries, such churches are very active giving refugee assistance. They encourage refugees to accept Jesus in their lives and embrace the Gospel of Love. At the same time, they offer free Dutch lessons and may invite refugees for a temporary stay in Dutch Christian homes. In many cases this is the first and the only glimpse refugees get into Dutch society outside the boundaries of a camp.

The Dutch New Life Evangelical community in Alphen aan den Rijn reportedly saw 50 new converts added to its ranks in one year. “They were touched by God’s word during the prayer sessions,” Pastor Ab Meerbeek told the national newspaper Trouw. Most are from Iran and Afghanistan. They listen to the sermons translated in Farsi on headphones.

Whatever the reasons are for Muslim refugees to embrace Christianity, their conversions may endanger them if asylum is refused and they are sent back to their countries of origin. And contrary to popular belief, conversion to Christianity can actually damage one’s chances of asylum in the Netherlands.

“It does not help people, because the Dutch authorities tend to distrust swift conversion,” said Scholte. “It can work against you when you are seeking asylum.”

In Germany, conversion can work to a refugee’s advantage. “Members of our community are almost always granted asylum,” Pastor Gottfried Martens of the Berlin Evangelical-Lutheran Church told BZ Berlin. “They can’t go back without danger to their lives in their home country as Christians.”

This paradoxical fact—converted Christians are more likely to be persecuted than those who stay Muslims, and are thus more eligible for asylum—may explain part of the recent surge in conversions.

But there are many cases in which personal safety already is compromised before refugees arrive in Europe, says Geesje Werkman of Church in Action.

“If an Afghan woman comes to you saying she wants to convert because she was raped and because of that she would be stoned, she can be deeply touched and wanting to convert because of a passage in the Bible that says, ‘He who is without sin cast the first stone,’” says Werkman.

Werkman says he worries about generalizations. “There is not just one story, there are a multitude of different stories,” he tells The Daily Beast. “It really doesn’t help if the press writes that the conversions are unreliable, when there are so many different situations, it cannot be reduced to one storyline.”

Scholte, for all his skepticism about conversions and those who encourage them, thinks the strongest appeal of churches in Europe is a new idea of freedom. “That is what they sense when they come in touch with Christianity. I do understand,” Scholte says. “But if you tell me what church you are from, I will tell you how ‘free’ that will actually be. There are enormous differences.”

thedailybeast.com/articles/2016/05/25/why-are-so-many-muslim-refugees-in-europe-suddenly-finding-jesus.html

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ISIS sicko lurks just outside Spurs' White Hart Lane home in chilling photo

24th May 2016

The photo is one of several posted by Islamic State supporters across Europe as part of a social media campaign.

But the images, showing hand-written Koranic verses pledging jihad, have backfired spectacularly for ISIS.

Because Twitter users have rallied together to identify where the photos were taken – and have even found jihadis' apartments.

One picture was traced to London's Tottenham area, just a few moments walk away from Spurs' White Hart Lane stadium.

It calls for sharia law in the UK, refers to the self-proclaimed caliphate and gives the date May 14.

It comes after Daily Star Online revealed ISIS plans to rebuild an Islamic caliphate in Spain lost for centuries.

More photos were identified in the French capital Paris, Münster in Germany and Amsterdam in the Netherlands.

In Paris and Amsterdam, the internet was able to track down the exact apartment building the would-be jihadi was tweeting from.

Now the discoveries have been passed on to police, who have pledged to investigate, leaving the ISIS social media campaign in tatters.

The campaign was launched by Islamic State as a show of support ahead of an imminent speech from its spokesperson Abu Mohammed al-Adnani.

Its aim was to “instil fear by showing that the group had supporters in major European cities" – but the internet had other ideas.

Led by journalists Jenan Moussa and Eliot Higgins, the crowd-sourced campaign used clues in the photos to trace their origin.

Mr Higgins said: "Their social media campaign went from scary to farcical once we started tracking down their fanboys."

"I think it shows that this aura of invulnerability they like to project can be punctured rather easily," he told Aussie broadcaster SBS.

"French, Dutch, and UK police have responded, and as a couple of photos appear to have been taken from apartments those should be easy to look at.

"The two in the street might be harder, although they might get lucky with CCTV catching something."

North Holland Police told the Dutch Haarlem Dagblad newspaper its experts were on the case.

Spokesman Leon Veldt said: "We take this very seriously. Our experts of the criminal investigation into the matter.

"We have no idea which way it goes still, it can be a rebellious teenager who is tweeting what in the attic or it is actually something serious."

It's not the first social media fail for the group, with one jihadi's selfie revealing the location of an ISIS command centre to American bombers.

dailystar.co.uk/news/latest-news/517877/ISIS-Twitter-fail-internet-tracks-down-Islamic-State-supporters-fans-tweets-photo

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India

Hindus, Muslims Join Hands to Save Hanuman Temple

May 24, 2016

RAIPUR: Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) Bajrang Dal and representatives of Chhattisgarh Muslim Manch, all came together to save Raipur's Sankat Mochan after the Supreme Court ordered its demolition earlier this month.

With the slogan "Ab ye humne thana hai, Sankatmochan ko Bachana hai," members of Bajrang Dal, Vishwa Hindu Parishad and Chhattisgarh Muslim Manch are taking to Raipur roads to make people aware about the signature petition which has been formed to save the Hanuman temple at Kharun river. The Supreme Court, on May 11, has ordered Chhattisgarh government to demolish the temple with immediate effect which has been built by the family trust of speaker Gaurishankar Agarwal on the banks of the river.

Talking to TOI, Salim Raj, coordinator of Rashtriya Muslim Manch said that they will be organizing a signature campaign at Jaistambh Chauk on Wednesday at 5 pm.

"All those who want to save Hanuman temple must come up and sign the postcards and letters which will be sent to the apex court and president to withdraw the orders of temple demolition," added Salim Raj. Yunus Qureshi, state president of Chhattisgarh Muslim Community said that the act of taking the temple matter to SC has been done by anti-social elements, just to tarnish the image of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

"All the temple, mosques and churches are built on revenue lands so what is new with Sankatmochan temple. Such orders can lay adverse impact on the communal harmony," he added.

Chhattisgarh regional Agarwal Sangathan has also joined the initiative started by Bajrang Dal and VHP to get maximum signatures of locals so that the apex court would get force to withdraw its orders. "While the administration was developing the place as picnic spot, what is wrong if a temple has been constructed there instead of a park," said Mahant Ramsundar Das.

The right wing groups are taking out mobile vans to the busy spots of the city including Telibanda Lake, Gandhi Udayan, Moti Bagh, Chaupati to name a few, where huge crowd gather on a regular basis to get maxim support of locals.

The order of temple demolition came on the petition filed by NGO Hamari Sanghwari. According to the complainant, Agarwal's family trust has constructed a Hanuman temple, a Satsang Bhavan, a garden and 19 shops on government land. The encroachment was done by Guari Shankar Agarwal's family trust - Chhaganlal Govindram Agarwal Trust. The temple was inaugurated by chief minister Raman Singh in April, 2012.

In May 2012, Hamari Sangwari filed a petition before Chhattisgarh Lok Aayog against the illegal acquisition and sought action against senior officials, including Raipur collector, who allegedly facilitated the acquisition and subsequent construction. In June 7, 2014, in a letter to Lok Aayog, the then Raipur collector Thakur Ram Singh claimed that since the trust "has not removed the encroachment, an order has been passed to acquire the property and hand it over to Raipur municipal corporation." The instruction for confiscation was made when the trust refused to demolish the erected illegal structure.

The issue of this encroachment and construction had echoed in state legislative assembly and opposition Congress leaders had sought to move a no-confidence motion against the Speaker. However, the motion was disallowed on the ground that such a motion cannot be accepted as it requires a 14-day prior notice.

timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/raipur/Hindus-Muslims-join-hands-to-save-Sankat-Mochan/articleshow/52418901.cms

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Times Now Editor-in-Chief Calls Muslim Journalist Indian Mujahedeen Sympathiser; Times Now Takes Down Video

May 25, 2016

Mumbai, May 25: A Muslim journalist was called a Indian Mujahedeen sympathiser on live television debate by Times Now Editor-in-Chief Arnab Goswami. According to Asad Asharf, who worked at DNA, he was called a cover for terror outfit Indian Mujahideen during a debate over controversial Batla House encounter by anchor Arnab Goswami. Times Now later removed the video of the debate from their website.

A debate was held at Times Now channel after a ISIS video surfaced featuring an alleged Batla House encounter terrorist who managed to escape. “Where are the sympathisers of Batla House encounter?” asked Arnab Goswami. Journalist Asad Ashraf, who has been reluctant to accept Batla House encounter as a genuine encounter in the light of several discrepancies and loopholes in the police version of it, was invited to discuss on the issue.

When Asad Asharf tried to put forward the loopholes in the Batla House encounter, he was called as Indian Mujahedeen sympathiser by Arnab Goswami. “Arnab did not show the slightest of hesitation in calling me a cover for Indian Mujahedeen, just because I could muster courage to point out the loopholes in the Batla House encounter,” Ahsraf wrote on Janata Ka Reporter.

During the debate, RSS leader Ratan Sharda also called Ashraf a frontrunner of terrorist organisations. “Instead of paying heed to my opposition to his remarks, ‘Jurist’ Arnab asked me to remain calm so that Sharda could continue to keep hurling allegations against me,” said Ashraf. “They can stoop down to any level to implicate Muslims into their narrative of terrorism.  For them, questioning the authenticity of Batla House encounter is tantamount to supporting ‘Indian Mujahideen’ and the ISIS. However, I am glad I went and experienced what friends  have complained about him before,” he added.

Activist Kavita Krishnan pointed out on social networking site Facebook that Times Now had taken the video of the debate from its channel website. “Shameless Times Now has decided  to not upload the video in the link where Arnab Goswami calls journalist Asad Ashraf and Tasleem Rahmani sympathizers of terrorist organizations just because we raised question over  the authenticity of Batla house encounter. Now they fear legal repercussions,” she wrote. However the video is available on their YouTube channel.

india.com/news/india/arnab-goswami-calls-muslim-journalist-indian-mujahedeen-sympathiser-times-now-takes-down-video-1211528/

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Assam's Nellie Muslims Say Their Vote Was To Stay Back In India

May 25, 2016

Nellie, a small hamlet ringed by low-lying hills, about 50 km from Guwahati, is infamous for the massacre in 1983 that claimed the lives of 1,800 Muslims.

But in the recently concluded Assam Assembly elections, a majority of its 2,000-member Muslim community voted for the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). In an election deeply polarised  between Hindu and Muslim communities, the Muslims of Nellie justify their electoral choice by citing a wide range of problems — from the absence of drinking water pipelines to the  impending fear of deportation.

Living on hope

“Our trust in the BJP is based on hope,” said Sulaiman Ahmed Qasmi, former chairman of Jamaat-e-Ulema Hind in Morigaon. “The AGP [Asom Gana Parishad] and the Congress ruled for so many years and they have done no good to us.”

Every Muslim family in Nellie lost a member in the 1983 massacre. Back then, the Indira Gandhi government at the Centre said xenophobia against Bengali-speaking Muslims in Assam, who were, and still are, suspected to be “illegal” immigrants from Bangladesh, was the main cause of violence, accusing a local tribe named Lulang of carrying it out.

But Muslims in Nellie believe that the violence came upon them because they defied the election boycott call of the All Assam Students Union (AASU) and voted in the February 1983  elections. The poll boycott call was aimed at fuelling the demand for deporting all illegal migrants in Assam and having their names removed from the voters’ list.

The village is full of macabre tales of bloodshed and yet they decided to make the unusual choice of voting for the BJP, the party which projected Sarbananda Sonowal, a former AASU  leader, as its chief ministerial candidate and deployed anti-immigrant rhetoric throughout its poll campaign.

“We are fine with not eating mutton or beef. That’s a small adjustment they [BJP leaders] are asking for,” said Abdul Hamid, a 66-year-old resident of Nellie.

Mr. Hamid’s mother and sister were stabbed in the massacre. Two days after the attack, Mr. Hamid said, they died in the relief camp. “Their wounds got infected and there was no  doctor in the camp,” he said.

Asked why he voted for the BJP, he said “to escape harassment by the Foreigners Tribunal”. In 2012, the local police declared him a “doubtful voter”, and asked him to prove his Indian  nationality at the tribunal. He submitted his voter ID, property deeds dating back to 1947 and other documents of identification at the tribunal. Eight months later, it approved his  documents and confirmed him as an Indian national.

But in January 2016, he received another notice from the tribunal, asking him to again prove his nationality.

“I have become very poor. I paid my lawyer Rs. 60,000 last time. I have no money to pay him this time,” Mr. Hamid said.

The tribunal has asked 200 people from Nellie to prove their nationality. It has sent four villagers — three men and one woman — to detention facilities meant for undocumented  immigrants.

New slogan worked

Aware of the situation, the BJP unit in Morigoan altered its rhetoric to win over Muslims. “We know a lot of Muslims, real Indian Muslims, are facing trials at the tribunal,” said Taneswar  Deka, the BJP secretary in Morigaon district. “So we made a small change to our campaign slogan. It was development and Muslims and Hindus living together.”

thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/assams-nellie-muslims-say-their-vote-was-to-stay-back-in-india/article8642309.ece?utm

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Indian Mujahideen Man Gave Shelter to Islamic State Recruit in Dubai

May 25, 2016

One of the Indian men who featured in the latest propaganda video circulated by the Islamic State (IS) last week was provided shelter in Dubai by a key Indian Mujahideen operative who was deported on May 20, a senior government official said.

Officials said Bada Sajid, a resident of Azamgarh in Uttar Pradesh and formerly an active member of IM, had fled to Dubai along with other members of the terror group after a  crackdown in 2008.

Fled Batla House

Sajid is one of the two IM terror suspects who fled from Batla House in Jamia Nagar area of Delhi when Special Cell sleuths raided the flat in September 2008.

The deported IM member Abdul Wahid Siddibapa (35), a resident of Bhatkal in Karnataka was living in Dubai then and, according to officials, he provided a safe hideout to Sajid in 2008.

From Dubai, Sajid travelled to Pakistan. In 2011, other absconding members of IM — Sultan Armar, his brother Shafi Armar and Dr. Shahnawaz — launched another terror outfit — Ansar ul  Tawhid (AuT), which later pledged allegiance to the Islamic State.

According to officials, Saijid was also part of AuT, which explains his presence in the new propaganda video of the Islamic State.

The 22 minute, Arabic-subtitled video, “The Land of Hind Between Pain and Hope,” was distributed on web-based applications like Telegram and micro-blogging site Twitter on May 19. The National Investigation Agency officials said they were getting the video examined by forensic experts.

Siddibapa, who is at present in NIA’s custody, has told officials that he provided a safe hideout to many IM members who had fled India in the year 2008.

Officials also said Siddibapa was in contact with another IM leader, Yasin Bhatkal and the two also met in Dubai in 2006. Bhatkal was arrested in 2014 near the Nepal border.

“We will question both Yasin and Siddibapa together to get more information about the terror outfit,” said the official.

Siddibapa was first detained in 2014 by the UAE authorities but was released later. He continued to be under the watch of the authorities and was deported on May 20. He is a close  relative of Riyaz Bhatkal, the founder of IM and was providing tactical, material and financial support to members of IM in planning, preparing and organising terrorist activities.

thehindu.com/news/national/indian-mujahideen-man-gave-shelter-to-islamic-state-recruit/article8642299.ece

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Hinduism not a Religion, says Spiritual guru Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev

May 25, 2016

New Delhi: Spiritual guru Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev says Hinduism is not a religion as there is no one book or papacy.

In an interview with NDTV, Sadhguru says that it’s just a geographical identity and that anyone, irrespective of belief, born on this piece of land is Hindu.

Regarding the roads renaming controversy,  Sadhguru said  that Akbar Road must not be renamed because his contribution is huge, however he furthered that Aurangzeb must be erased as he is to India what Hitler is to Israel.

On the Bajrang Dal video on arms training and ‘enemies’ with skull caps, the the spritual leader says “every country has nut cases. Ignore.”

siasat.com/news/watch-hinduism-not-religion-says-spiritual-guru-sadhguru-jaggi-vasudev-962576/

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FIR filed against Bajrang Dal activists over ‘self defence’ camp

May 25, 2016

Lucknow: An FIR has been lodged against the Bajrang Dal activists, following a video showing them taking part in a mock drill where men wearing skull caps have been portrayed as  terrorists.

Faizabad Superintend of Police Sankalp Sharma told ANI that the FIR has been registered under section 153 A- for promoting enmity between different groups and added that the matter is being investigated.

In the annual self-defence camp, the Bajrang Dal cadres are trained to use rifles, swords and sticks so that they can ‘protect the Hindus.

Similar camps would be held till June 5 in Sultanpur, Gorakhpur, Pilibhit, Noida and Fatehpur cities in the state.

The cadres can be seen killing men dressed as Muslims during the mock drill.

Manoj Verma, the organizer, said the cadres are given a lot of boost during the camps.

“We prepare them to boost their self-esteem. This training is of self-defence. They are taught to tackle different situations. This is about self-confidence,” Verma said.

“This whole annual program is about boosting the self-confidence and morale of the cadres,” he added.

Bajrang Dal, which is the youth wing of Vishva Hindu Parishad, has faced allegations of rioting and violence against religious minorities in the past.

Downplaying the furore over the annual self-defence camp, Uttar Pradesh Governor Ram Naik said yesterday that there was nothing wrong in conducting such camps, adding it should be  continued at all costs.

Justifying his stand, Naik said such camps promote self-defence, which was a skill that should be imbibed by every individual.

“There is no harm in self-defence camps, what’s important is to understand the intention behind them. All kinds of education teaching self defence is important and it should be  continued at all costs. How can those who can’t defend themselves, defend the society? Self defence must be taught in schools and other institutions,” Naik told the media.

siasat.com/news/fir-filed-bajrang-dal-activists-self-defence-camp-962515/

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ISIS India wing talked about extorting money from Bollywood stars

May 25, 2016

As it looked for means to fund terror activities, the Janood-ul-Khalifa-Hind, the alleged Indian wing of the Islamic State, considered extorting money from Bollywood stars. A suggestion to take Naxal help to procure arms was reportedly turned down. According to sources, two alleged top commanders of the module busted by security agencies earlier this year, Rizwan Nawazuddin alias Khalid and Muddabir Sheikh, have revealed this in interrogation. Officials said Rizwan, 19, who has been named by them as operational head of the Indian wing of IS, had told them that the plan to target Bollywood stars was discussed in a September 2015 meeting of members of the Lucknow module.

“But just before the module could chalk out the entire plan, security agencies which had been monitoring their online activities arrested them in a nationwide clampdown,” a source said. The NIA had arrested 23 alleged IS sympathisers in a joint operation with six state counter-terrorism agencies earlier this year. Rizwan and his associates allegedly also planned to carry out lone wolf attacks against top Sangh Parivar leaders such as RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat and the VHP’s Ashok Singhal and Pravin Tagodia, hoping this would bring them in international spotlight. Rizwan, two of whose uncles are in the Army, talked about toying with the idea of attacking an Army base in Meerut too, say investigators. While his father is a revenue official in UP, another uncle is a district magistrate. The 19-year-old allegedly confessed that he was drawn to extremist ideology after he started surfing the Internet to kill time. According to his “confession”, his module’s current handler, Shafi Armar alias Yusuf, didn’t want to initially pledge allegiance of his Ansar-ul-Tawhid to the IS. His brother Sultan had allegedly left the Indian Mujahideen owing to differences over money with Bhatkal brothers Rizwan and Iqbal, and initially approached the al-Qaeda and Taliban for help, before taking funds from the IS. “Only the IS was receptive to the offer made by the Armar brothers. They made Armars in charge of the Indian operations and they were asked to scout for recruits back home who could help carry out ‘lone wolf attacks’ and spread the IS agenda in the subcontinent,” Rizwan has allegedly told interrogators. Officials claim the Indian module first received funds in October last year, with Yusuf allegedly routing Rs 6 lakh through hawala channels in Mumbai to be received by Muddabir Sheikh. A techie who had been jobless since September last year, Muddabir had reportedly got in touch with Yusuf through encrypted chatting apps Trillian and Sureshot. Yusuf allegedly made him the Amir, or the chief of the Indian module, in October last year. The Lucknow meeting where targeting actors was discussed also saw a discussion on training locations, Rizwan allegedly revealed. Among the places considered were the jungles of Panvel on Mumbai outskirts, and the forests of Chhattisgarh, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka.

indianexpress.com/article/india/india-news-india/islamic-state-india-wing-extorting-money-bollywood-stars-2817533/

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Arab World

'ISIL Uses Civilians in Raqqa as Human Shield'

May 25, 2016

TEHRAN (FNA)- A Syrian activist said the ISIL terrorist group is using civilians in the Syrian city of Raqqa as human shields during their fight against an alliance of Syrian Democratic Forces.

The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) began an operation on Tuesday to take control of areas in Northern Raqqa from the militant group. The group’s offensive is supported by US warplanes, presstv reported. 

The SDF fighters reportedly moved south from Tal Abyad town near the Turkish border toward Ain Issa, about 60km Northwest of Raqqa.

The alliance’s commander Rojda Felat said the aim of the operation was to "liberate Northern Raqqa" and people who live under the "oppression" of ISIL.

"The campaign is aimed at repelling terrorist attacks on Shaddadi, Tal Abyad and Kobane, ensuring the security of our people," she added.

Some 22 militants were killed in the offensive, some Western-based humanitarian groups said.

This came as Abdel Aziz al-Hamza from the 'Raqqa is Being Slaughtered Silently' citizen journalist group said that ISIL militants use the civilians “as a cover. So you'll find them in the same building. In a civilian building, you'll find two or three apartments for ISIL fighters."

ISIL militants also use “some schools as places to stay because these schools have basements, something underground, so they are protected from the air strikes. And they are surrounded by civilian buildings," Hamza also said.

Hamza said Raqqa citizens are besieged and cannot leave the city. "ISIL doesn't let anyone leave the city. At the same time, life has become at least ten times more expensive in the city."

Thousands of people queue to get food from a relief kitchen in the city every day, Hamza also said.

The Tuesday operation is regarded as the most serious operations against the terrorists in Raqqa since the city was proclaimed by ISIL as the de facto capital of their “caliphate” in 2014.

en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13950305000583

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Syrian Democratic Forces Drive ISIL back from Key Territories North of Raqqa

May 25, 2016

TEHRAN (FNA)- The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), in a large-scale operation, stormed the ISIL strongholds in the Northern part of Raqqa province and pushed the terrorists back from a key village and a small but strategic town.

The SDF fighters, who launched their large-scale operation from three directions on Tuesday evening, engaged in heavy clashes with the ISIL terrorists in the Southern side of the town of Ein Issa, which ended in the seizures of the small town of al-Fateseh and the village of Qartaj.

The ISIL left behind scores of the dead or wounded members and fled the battlefields to evade more casualties.

Over 12,000 of fighters, including the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) have participated in the operation.

On Monday, the Syrian warplanes targeted the terrorists' concentration centers in at least two neighborhoods of the so-called capital of ISIL's self-proclaimed Caliphate, inflicting major losses on the terrorists.

The ISIL gatherings in the municipally sports stadium and al-Hamrat neighborhood were massively bombed by the Syrian Army's aircraft.

The ISIL suffered a heavy death toll and its military hardware sustained major damage in the air raids.

The Syrian airstrikes ended in the announcement of curfew across the bombed areas.

en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13950305000552

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Iraqi Police Announces Liberating 2 Villages North of Fallujah

May 25, 2016

TEHRAN (FNA)- Iraq's Federal Police announced the liberation of two villages and a laboratory, North of Fallujah in the country's Western province of Anbar.

“The Federal Police forces managed to liberate the villages of Abu Ouda and al-Abasi and a construction laboratory in North of the city of Fallujah,” Federal Police Chief Raed Shaker Jawdat said in a press statement, Iraqi News reported.

“The security forces are rapidly advancing toward the determined targets,” the police chief said.

In a relevant development, a source in the leadership of al-Hashed al-Sha'abi militia announced killing an ISIL female soldier during confrontations in the area of al-Shahabi East of Fallujah, while pointed out that the soldier, who worked as a sniper for ISIL, was a Republic of Azerbaijan national.

The source said in a statement that "the female soldier who worked as a sniper for ISIL was killed during cleansing operations by the security forces in the area of al-Shahabi in the district of al-Karma, 19 km East of Fallujah”.

“ISIL has started deploying female foreign fighters in battlefields after the killing of hundreds of its elements in the cleansing battles near Fallujah,” the source added.

en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13950305000705

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Syrian Army Continues to Hunt Al-Nusra Terrorists East of Damascus

May 25, 2016

TEHRAN (FNA)- The Syrian Army's artillery units opened heavy fire at al-Nusra Front's concentration centers and gatherings in Eastern Ghouta, pinning the militants down behind their positions with the lowest military movements possible, battlefield sources said.

"Strongholds of the al-Qaeda-affiliated al-Nusra Front in al-Basatin region between Harasta al-Qantara and Bala came under the heavy shelling of the Syrian artillery," the sources said, adding, "The terrorist group suffered a heavy death toll in the attacks."

Reports said on Tuesday that the Army troops, tipped of by intelligence agents, dismantled a network of terrorist bombers inside the capital city of Damascus.

"Syrian security forces raided an apartment in al-Midan neighborhood South of Damascus and arrested 8 men on charge of planning bombing attacks," the sources said, adding, "Local residents had tipped off the police who in turn were swift to respond."

"Papers were found in the apartment suggesting plans to conduct terrorist attacks deep inside government-held neighborhoods of the Syrian capital," the sources added.

en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13950305000659

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Tehran, Kabul Stress Strengthening Anti-Terrorism Security Cooperation

May 25, 2016

TEHRAN (FNA)- Senior Iranian and Afghan officials in a meeting in Russia on Wednesday underlined the necessity for bolstering mutual security cooperation to fight against terrorism and other causes of instability in the region.

The issue was raised in a meeting between Undersecretary of Iran's Supreme National Security Council (SNSC) Reza Seifollahi and Afghan National Security Adviser Hanif Atmar on the sidelines of an international security conference in Groznyy, Chechenia.

During the meeting, Atmar appreciated Iran's support and assistance to the Afghan refugees in the past few decades, and expressed the hope that these supports would continue and Tehran and Kabul's cooperation would further develop in all the political, economic and security fields.

Seifollahi, for his part, underscored that Iran welcomes expansion of all-out ties with the brotherly nation of Afghanistan and seeks planning for cooperation in more areas.

The good and brotherly ties between Iran and Afghanistan have always been emphasized by both countries' highest-ranking officials.

Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei, in a meeting on Monday with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, referred to abundant commonalities of belief, culture and history between the peoples of Iran and Afghanistan and shared borders between the two countries, noting: “The Islamic Republic of Iran has always paid serious attention to Afghanistan’s interests and security and considers the progress of this country in all sectors as its own.”

Ayatollah Khamenei described Afghan people as courageous, zealous and intelligent, adding: “Afghanistan enjoys the two great benedictions of natural and human wealth and that the country can make good progress by properly using those resources.”

The Leader of the Islamic Revolution highlighted the Iranian people’s hospitality vis-à-vis Afghan people during years of war and after that, saying: “Unlike certain countries, such as the US and UK, the Islamic Republic of Iran has always treated the Afghan people with respect, brotherhood and hospitality and will withhold no technical, engineering and infrastructural assistance for Afghanistan to exploit its natural resources.”

Ayatollah Khamenei called for a swift settlement of the issue of Iran-Afghanistan border rivers, saying: “Such issues should not give rise to enmity and rancor in the relations between countries like Iran and Afghanistan that share borders, culture and needs.”

During the meeting, which was also attended by Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, Ashraf Ghani, the President of Afghanistan, expressed happiness with trilateral negotiations held in Tehran, particularly the agreement for transit communications with India through Iran’s southeastern Chabahar Port. “We always appreciate the hospitality of the Iranian people and Your Excellency’s positive view of Afghanistan and we hope that the Tehran negotiations will prepare the ground for increasingly broader relations.”

Mr. Ashraf Ghani added: “In the coming weeks, an expert meeting will be held to discuss issues related to the two countries’ use of border rivers and we hope that this issue will be settled within a proper framework.”

en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13950305000595

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Terrorists' Attacks Repulsed by Syrian Army West of Damascus Province

May 25, 2016

TEHRAN (FNA)- The pro-government military troops in Syria repelled the terrorist groups' assaults on their positions in Western Qalamoun near the border with Lebanon and forced the militants to retreat.

Terrorist groups stormed the government forces' positions in Jaroud Fleiteh but their attacks were fended off by the strong defense of the Syrian soldiers.

The Syrian army's heavy missile fire inflicted major casualties on the militants and destroyed their military hardware in large scale in Jaroud Fleiteh.

The Syrian army's missile units, meantime, targeted an ISIL base in Jaroud al-Jarajir in Western Qalamoun, which ended in the killing of several terrorists and wounding of some others.

Reports said on Tuesday that Emir of Ahrar al-Sham in al-Zabadani was killed in fierce clashes with the Lebanese Hezbollah Resistance Movement's fighters near the Syria-Lebanon border.

Ziad Abu Hamid, the notorious field commander of Ahrar al-Sham, was killed in the Hezbollah fighters' offensive on the terrorist group's command center.   

en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13950305000617

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Tens of Iraqi Families Escape ISIL's Human Shield Near Fallujah

May 25, 2016

TEHRAN (FNA)- A large number of Iraqi families who had been used as human shield by the ISIL in the surrounding areas of the city of Fallujah in Anbar province in Western Iraq managed to escape from the custody of the Takfiri terrorists.

"Over 100 Iraqi families escaped from al-Nassaf and al-Hassi regions to the West and South of Fallujah city," the Arabic-language media outlets quoted Head of Anbar Provincial Council's Security Committee Raje al-Issawi as saying on Wednesday.

He reiterated that the Iraqi citizens were transferred by the Iraqi security forces to Fallujah refugee camps in Ameriya and Khalediya regions.

On Tuesday, Iraqi military forces managed to push ISIL militants back from agricultural areas outside Fallujah as they continue their military operation to retake Iraq's Western city.

Lt. Ahmed Mahdi Salih, a commander in Iraqi federal police participating in the battle, said that fierce battles were taking place in the Eastern vicinity of Fallujah which the militants are using as a supply line, Rudaw news website reported

The operation is being conducted under the command of Lt. Gen. Abdul Wahab Al Sa'adi who pointed out that tough terrains of the battlefields, the risk of civilian casualties and the improvised explosive devices (IEDs) ISIL has planted in and around the city are obstacles to a swift victory, which is why they will begin the offensive by surrounding and bombarding ISIL positions.

While Iraqi military and paramilitary forces have had the city encircled for over a year this is their first serious attempt to recapture the city and force the militants to retreat from the area.

ISIL captured Fallujah back in January 2014 making it the first and longest city it has been controlling in Iraq.

"On Tuesday morning, the Iraqi security and volunteer forces managed to fully liberate al-Karama town located 13 kilometers to the East of Fallujah,' Commander of Fallujah operations said.

Al-Karama is an important and strategic city near Fallujah and is considered as an entrance gate to the city of Fallujah.

Reports on the battlefields also have confirmed that the Iraqi forces advanced in al-Maqala and al-Hamra towns and heavy clashes broke out between the government forces and the ISIL terrorists.

Late in April, the Iraqi army, backed by popular forces, gained the control of a district in the city of al-Karama in Western Anbar province. The army units regained control of al-Roza district in Central al-Karama, deemed as an important stronghold of the terrorists in the city of al-Karama.

en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13950305000618

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Russian Military Denies ISIL Destroyed Helicopters in Syria

May 25, 2016

TEHRAN (FNA)- The Russian Defense Ministry denied reports that ISIL militants destroyed four Russian helicopters at an air base in Syria’s Homs province.

“All Russian combat helicopters currently stationed in the Syrian Republic, are performing routine tasks destroying terrorists. There have been no losses among the personnel of the Russian air base there,” Defense Ministry spokesman Major-General Igor Konashenkov said in an official statement, RT reported.

Stratfor, a private intelligence and analytical company, previously reported that Russian helicopters and supply trucks were destroyed in an ISIL attack, basing the data on a comparative analysis of satellite images of the T4 airbase in Homs province.

The Syrian Air Force base, according to Stratfor, had been used by Russian helicopters which were providing support to government troops during fighting for the liberation of Palmyra.

On May 14, ISIL announced that four Russian attack helicopters and 20 supplies trucks were destroyed by fire. Around the same time, according to Stratfor, Syrian government sources reported “random explosions” in the T4 base area.

The analysis of satellite images taken on May 14 and 17 prompted the intelligence company to conclude that four helicopters were actually destroyed at the base, as well as trucks, with a Syrian MiG-25 also being damaged. Stratfor claims that the nature of the damage seen in the satellite images indicates that the base fell under attack.

Konashenkov however stresses that “the authorship of rumors about the destruction of Russian combat helicopters and trucks belongs to ISIL terrorists, who unsuccessfully tried to sell this alleged news some 10 days ago.”

Concerning the pictures of the Syrian air base, the Defense Ministry representative noted that “burned aircraft and automotive electronics, as well as numerous craters from missile explosions have been there for more than one month” and are the result of heavy fighting in the airfield area between the Syrian government troops and terrorists.”

Meanwhile Russia’s RIA Novosti news agency reported, citing a source at the T4 base, that that the helicopters were damaged as a result of a fire at the airfield.

“The cause of the fire is unknown. It began near the area where the four helicopters were stationed, with fire-trucks unable to get close to the epicenter of the blaze due to a sudden mortar attack by terrorists. The flame quickly spread to helicopters,” the source told the agency, adding no one has been injured in the shelling.

The Russian military has been participating in anti-terrorist operations in Syria since September 2015. On March 14, 2016 Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered the withdrawal of the main bulk of aircraft from the country, stating that the tasks entrusted to the military were “generally fulfilled.” However, a limited military contingent remains in the country assisting the Syrian army in their fight against terrorist groups.

en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13950305000765

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Russian, Syrian Warplanes Target ISIL Fuel Tankers in Aleppo

May 25, 2016

TEHRAN (FNA)- A long convoy of ISIL fuel tankers moving from Northwestern Aleppo to the terrorist-held regions in the Western part of the province was targeted in the joint combat flights of the Syrian and Russian fighter jets.

The Syrian and Russian air fleets tracked and targeted the ISIL convoy with over 20 oil tankers on a road connecting Afrin to Dar al-Izza, in which over half of the tankers were set ablaze.

In the meantime, several ISIL members were killed or wounded in the bombardments.

In relevant developments in the Northern province on Tuesday, the Syrian and Russian Air Forces targeted the terrorist groups' gathering centers in the Northern and Western parts of Aleppo province, inflicting heavy casualties on the militants.

The Syrian and Russian fighter jets bombed the terrorist positions in Kafr Hamra, Hraytan, Handarat and Castello in the Northern territories of Aleppo province, which not only claimed the lives of several militants but destroyed their military hardware in large scale.

In the meantime, strongholds of the terrorist groups in Kafr Naha in the Western part of the province came under the heavy bombardments of the Syrian and Russian air fleets, which ended in the killing or wounding of several terrorist.

en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13950305000733

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Syrian Army Fends off Terrorists' Attacks in Eastern Homs

May 25, 2016

TEHRAN (FNA)- The Syrian military forces pushed back an ISIL attack on its positions in the Eastern part of Homs province, killing over a dozen Takfiri terrorists.

A number of the ISIL terrorists were killed in tough battle with the Syrian government troops in Um al-Tababir region in Eastern Homs.

The ISIL's military hardware and vehicles were also destroyed by the Syrian government troops in the clashes.

Earlier reports said that the Syrian Army troops and popular forces, in a fresh round of joint attacks, targeted the ISIL centers in the Southern side of al-Sha'er oilfield in the Eastern part of Homs province and slowed down the terrorists' military movements.

The Syrian government forces engaged in fierce clashes with the ISIL terrorists near the gas field of Hayan and did not allow them to advance against the army forces in the region.

The ISIL suffered a heavy death toll and its military hardware sustained a major damage in the clashes.

An ISIL vehicle carrying a large volume of ammunition and explosive devices was targeted and exploded in the clashes too.

en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13950305000682

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Iran Strongly Condemns Terrorist Attacks in Syria's Tartous, Jableh

May 25, 2016

TEHRAN (FNA)- The Iranian foreign ministry strongly deplored the seven bomb explosions on Monday which rocked the coastal towns of Tartous and Jableh in Lattakia province and left at least 150 people dead and tens of others injured.

Foreign Ministry Spokesman Hossein Jaberi Ansari condemned the attacks on Wednesday, and extended his condolences to the Syrian government and nation, specially the bereaved families.

"Terrorism and extremism pose a serious threat to all the regional nations and the global peace and security, and the Islamic Republic of Iran urges the international community to act upon its civil and moral responsibilities to confront this ominous and inhumane phenomenon comprehensively," he underlined.

According to reports, there were up to three explosions in the coastal town of Jableh near the local railway terminal. State TV also reported a fourth explosion, at the emergency unit of a local hospital.

Tartus explosions were a car bomb, while another was caused by a suicide bomber. Another explosion was reported later.

Both towns targeted by Monday attacks are close to facilities used by the Russian task force in Syria.

While the ISIL has claimed the responsibility for the attacks, analysts believe that they have been carried out in collaboration with Ahrar al-Sham or al-Nusra Front terrorist groups which have more members and headquarters in Lattakia.

Also, the Syrian security forces arrested a suicide bomber concurrently with the Monday attacks who confessed to be a member of Ahrar al-Sham.

en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13950305000536

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Mideast

Kurds in Syria will let you down, Turkey warns US

May/25/2016

Turkey’s deputy chief of staff has warned a top U.S. commander visiting Turkey that cooperating with the People’s Protection Units (YPG) in northern Syria is highly dangerous.

“Do not be surprised if the YPG lets you down when the fight against ISIL gets tough,” Deputy Chief of Turkish General Staff Yaşar Güler told General Joseph Votel, the head of U.S. Central Command (Centcom), during a two-hour meeting in Ankara on May 23.

According to reports, the top commanders briefly supervised efforts to build up local forces in the fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), discussing an anticipated operation against ISIL stronghold Raqqa and developments on the “Azaz-Jarablus line,” which Turkey considers a “red line.”

Güler reportedly outlined Turkish efforts in the fight against ISIL, including the opening of the İncirlik Air Base in the southern province of Adana, logistical support and intelligence sharing. However, he also pointed out that the United States falls short in providing Turkey with similar support in pushing ISIL militants from the Azaz-Jarablus line using “moderate” opposition forces rather than the Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD), which is affiliated with the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

“An important threat will disappear if you provide support to the moderate opposition rather than the PYD to clear this line of ISIL,” Güler was reported as saying. Turkey considers both the PYD and its militia forces the YPG as off-shoots of the PKK, against which it has been conducting military operations in southeastern provinces for the last few months.

The Turkish general reportedly signaled that Turkey would not permit a takeover of the aforementioned region by the PYD.

He also underlined that Turkey has no intention of dispatching soldiers into Syrian territory without a decision by the United Nations Security Council.

Votel arrived in Ankara late on May 22, following his visit to Kobane to meet U.S. military advisers working with Syrian Arab fighters and the leaders of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), which includes the YPG and the PYD.

His visit comes at a time when Ankara has been calling on the U.S. and its Western allies to stop supporting the PYD. Washington has provided air power and small arms ammunition to the militant group, saying the PYD and the YPG are “reliable” partners in the fight against ISIL.

The United States has roughly 200 advisers on the ground in Syria but no combat units. Votel’s visit comes as the first of 250 more U.S. special operations forces are beginning to arrive.

Kurds play a dominant role in the U.S.-backed SDF, providing the core of the forces that have pushed back ISIL in the country’s northeast.

The SDF has a total of around 25,000 Kurdish fighters and around 5,000 Arab fighters, and Washington is pushing to bring more Arab forces into the group.

hurriyetdailynews.com/kurds-in-syria-will-let-you-down-turkey-warns-us.aspx?pageID=238&nID=99614&NewsCatID=352

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Syrian peace process under threat as Erdogan mulls military intervention

MAY 25, 2016

The failure of the recent round of Syrian peace talks in Vienna does not mean Saudi Arabia and its chief allies, especially Turkey, are inching toward their central objective of removing Assad from power.

However, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan began calling for a “unilateral” course of action — a sort of direct military incursion into Syria — even while the Vienna session was in progress as if he already knew its possible outcome.

While Turkey is contemplating a military intervention to protect its territorial integrity, such action would potentially send it on a collision course not only with Damascus, but also with Iran and Russia which have so far exercised restraint while dealing with Turkey’s political follies. A direct military move by Ankara against Damascus may lead to a situation no amount of diplomacy may be able to control.

Turkey is prepared to take unilateral actions against the Islamic State (IS) in Syria to protect its southern border town of Kilis from IS attacks, Xinhua news agency reported quoting Erdoğan on May 12.

“We are making necessary preparations in order to clear the other side of the border,” he said.

While Erdogan main line of defense – or rather, attack – is that he needs to absolutely protect Turkey’s national sovereignty against dangerous radical militants, Ankara’s military intervention will violate Syria’s own sovereignty and territorial integrity. Moreover, it will be pitted against an army that has, in the recent months, successfully ridded a significant chunk of its territory of the control of IS.

Not only is Erdogan’s stance a mockery of the Syrian army’s success against IS and other foreign-funded groups but also a clear indication of how meaningless the whole dialogue process is when it comes to the Arab allies’ war objectives.

Turkey’s probable belligerence has come at a time when its direct involvement in Syria (read: leaked tapes of Turkish forces providing territorial sanctuary to IS fighters in Syria) has been exposed and when Washington itself is coming round to Russian stance regarding Syria and the way Russian military campaign has positively contributed to limiting the “blood game” IS was playing there.

“Tens of thousands of lives have been saved and a million people have received aid, thanks to Syria ceasefire established with Russia’s help,” US Secretary of State John Kerry said this May in what can only described as a political volte-face.

Is this an indication of some sort of understanding reached between the U.S. and Russia? Speculation on this has caused distress among the Saudis and Turks, provoking them to threaten to resort to ‘Plan B’. Their dissatisfaction over the ‘lack’ of US involvement has unwittingly added some credence to this speculation.

Quoting Erdogan further, Xinhua reported, “Turkey will not wait… while we have martyrs every day …. I’d like to say that we will not hesitate to take unilateral steps on this issue.”

The issue of Kilis would be “litmus paper” for revealing the sincerity of coalition partners in the fight against the IS group, he said.

Erdogan complained that the US-led anti-IS coalition has not provided Turkey with the desired support — support against what no one seems quite sure since Ankara’s only woes have been against those factions which have actively sought to destroy terror: i.e. the Kurds.

The ‘Plan B’ that Saudi Arabia and Turkey have long been talking about has yet again become relevant due to the disagreement prevailing on transition in Syria. Were Turkey to invade Syria, it will only sabotage whatever progress has been achieved on peace front. It will also provide terror groups the much needed relief against the most resilient enemy they have so far faced.

Were such a scenario to take place, the main question that one should be raising is this: Will Russia be ‘compelled’ to redeploy its forces to protect the army it has been supporting militarily for almost a year now?

It cannot be gainsaid that the situation is extremely tricky in and around Syria. While the involvement of state and non-state actors is a good way to take all stakeholders on board, a resolution of the conflict that may satisfy all parties is a much more complex issue.

To an extent, it is the involvement of Kurds in the peace process that has come to really threaten Ankara’s regional interests.

As it stands, and as both Turkish and Saudi officials’ response clearly demonstrates, the probable resolution under consideration is far from what both countries have been aiming at.

This explains the escalation of conflict—a situation that would certainly disrupt the ‘peace’ process and allow ‘terror proliferation’ in the region, further helping the Arab coalition, especially Turkey, to use the situation to weaken its enemy sitting both inside and outside of it.

atimes.com/2016/05/syrian-peace-process-under-threat-as-erdogan-mulls-military-intervention/

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Israeli Muslims Are Less Religious Than Muslims From Other Regions

24 MAY 2016

Although Israeli Muslims are more devout compared to other major religions of the country, like Jews, Christians and Druze, they are much more liberal when contrasted with their Muslim counterparts residing in neighboring countries. Muslims living in Israel are not as religion-centric and place less emphasis on the key pillars of Islam compared to Muslims living in North Africa and the Middle East. Israeli Muslims Are Less Religious Than Muslims from Other Regions

Even as 68 percent of the Israeli Muslims polled by Pew Research hold the view that religion occupies center place in their lives, it is noticeably lower that Morocco's 89 percent and the 85 percent in Jordan and Palestinian territories. The only exception is Lebanon where only 59 percent of Muslims emphasize the importance of religion. The marginal importance of religion in the lives of Israeli Muslims also surface up in relatively low frequencies of salat, fasting and giving of alms during Ramadan. Salat means the five daily prayers. These practices embody three of Islam's five pillars. It is expected that devout Muslims will observe all five of them. About 52 percent of Muslims living in Israel pray five times per day. This can be compared with the average of 63 percent among the Muslims living in North African and Middle Eastern countries. The figure comes to 83 percent in Iraq. The only two countries where the proportion of devout Muslims are less than Israel are Jordan (54 percent) and Egypt (53 percent). A large proportion of Israeli Muslims offer a part of accumulated wealth to the needy or to different charities. This practice is known as Zakat and is a much lower proportion compared to Muslims living in North Africa and the Middle East. A regional average of 79 percent of people following the Islamic faith practice zakat. Morocco has the highest rate of observance at 92 percent. Israeli Muslims are also much less observant when it comes to fasting during the month of Ramadan. Even though 83 percent of Israeli Muslims observe the dawn to dusk ritual, it is much less than Muslim majority nations like Tunisia and Morocco at 96 percent and 98 percent. An average of 94 percent across North Africa and Middle East have responded that they do fasting during Ramadan.

The interesting part is that Israeli Muslims are much more likely to observe Islam's final pillar- the yearly pilgrimage to Mecca- compared to Muslims in a number of neighboring countries.

worldreligionnews.com/religion-news/islam/israeli-muslims-are-less-religious-than-muslims-from-other-regions

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Estonian PM doesn't rule out taking refugees direct from Turkey

May/25/2016

Estonian Prime Minister Taavi Roivas said on May 24 he would not exclude the possibility of his country taking in refugees directly from Turkey or other countries.

Roivas said his country had agreed to take refugees from Greece and Italy and this was "ongoing work."

"But I would definitely not rule out (taking them from) Turkey or any other country as well so we are willing to do that, of course," he told Reuters during a visit to Germany, where he took part in a meeting of Germany's cabinet at Meseberg palace 60 km (37 miles) north of Berlin.

More than a million migrants arrived in Europe last year.

In an effort to stem arrivals, the European Union and Ankara signed a deal in March under which, for every Syrian refugee returned to Turkey, another would be resettled from Turkey to the EU.

In the longer run, once EU states were satisfied Turkey had stopped the flow, the EU would admit more refugees directly from Turkey, though that would be voluntary.

hurriyetdailynews.com/estonian-pm-doesnt-rule-out-taking-refugees-direct-from-turkey.aspx?pageID=238&nID=99632&NewsCatID=351

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Over 80,000 victims of violence appeal to Turkish Family Ministry in two years

May/25/2016

More than 80,000 victims of violence have appealed to the Ministry of Family and Social Planning for assistance, the ministry has stated in response to a parliamentary inquiry, though the deputy who posed the question has insisted that this number is actually far below the actual figure.

A total of 84,100 people have filed applications with Violence Prevention and Monitoring Centers (ŞÖNİM) across the country after being subjected to violence, the ministry said in response to a question from independent Ankara deputy Aylin Nazlıaka.

Nazlıaka, previously a member of the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), had inquired how many people asked for help after being subjected to violence, sexual assault or rape between 2011 and 2016.

The response stated that 60,522 of applicants, nearly 72 percent, were women, while 18,452 were men and 5,126 were children.

However, Nazlıaka claimed that the real figure was “far higher” than the official announcement.

“Even data from media reports is higher [than the ministry’s figures]. The ministry not only declined to provide figures for 2011 and 2013 but also left our questions unanswered,” she added.

hurriyetdailynews.com/over-80000-victims-of-violence-appeal-to-turkish-family-ministry-in-two-years.aspx?pageID=238&nID=99634&NewsCatID=339

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Hamas anti-Semitic Ramadan show enters second season

24 MAY 2016

From forming terror cells in the alleyways of Hebron to dealing with the Israeli security services in Israeli prisons– all this and more will be in the new Palestinian mini-series called "Fida'i" (Palestinian-Arabic for freedom fighter) to be broadcasted on Hamas affiliated a-Aqsa TV during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

The mini-series is the second season of last year's Hamas Ramadan production, which was a resounding success and received high reviews. Each of the 30 episodes – one for each night of Ramadan - lasts about 50 minutes.

One of the actors, Mohammad Khalifa, said that "the mini-series shows the hardships of the Palestinian prisoners inside Israeli jails, and attempts to Judaize Palestinian holy places. It sends a message to the Arab and Muslim world about the Palestinian reality, and the strengthening of the ideas of the resistance."

Amongst the issues expected to be dealt with in the mini-series are the "new intifadah," price tag events, and even houses being set on fire by Jewish extremists, emulating the fire which killed members of the Dawabsheh family in Kfar Duma.

The Jews in the story are portrayed in a very classic anti-Semitic light, with the Jewish antagonists being money hungry and conniving. They cast the Israelis as crooked and overly religious, and even have an actor who loosely resembles the new head of the Shin Bet who appears dressed in a military uniform.

The mini-series portrays the Shin Bet head as not being able to successfully deal with the threat of terror cells, thus forcing his resignation.

Overall, the acting seems very artificial and the music overly pompous, with many ridiculous, unrealistic scenes throughout the mini-series.

"Fida'i" is also the first Palestinian mini-series to have its rights successfully sold to abroad. It will also be broadcasted on Turkish television and dubbed over in Turkish.Zuhair a-Franji, the producer in chief of al-Aqsa TV, explained that selling the rights of the mini-series succeeded due to extensive marketing efforts.

"Our goal is to enlarge the audience watching the mini-series, especially after its success in the Arab and Palestinian market," a-Faranji said.

Ramadan is a Muslim holy month whereby Muslims fast during the day and eat and celebrate at night. It is also a time for family gatherings, and is when TV stations across the Muslim world air their biggest and most important productions. The holy month begins in two weeks

ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4807491,00.html

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Pakistan

Sindh madressah finances being analysed to trace source of their funding

May 25, 2016

KARACHI: After geo-tagging of the seminaries across the province, the Sindh police have started analysis and audit of their finances to trace the source of their funding and spending, in line with the National Action Plan’s initiatives which requires the database of all madressahs operating across the country, a senior official said on Tuesday.

The move initiated by the Sindh police, the official said, could take time as the job required special skills and information from different sources to determine the channels of funding, its sources and then utilisation.

“We have already done the geo-tagging of the seminaries,” additional inspector general of police Sanaullah Abbasi told Dawn. “After that months-long project, we are now analysing the facts and checking records which also require a sort of audit of accounts to determine the source of funding, channel of funding and then the nature of consumption of all that money.”

He said the aim of all that exercise was to identify those facilities which had any links with militancy though he believed that most of the seminaries were not found involved in any suspicious activities that could prompt some action against them.

“After that process with geo-tagging already, it would provide great comfort to the law enforcement agencies to keep a check on these madressahs in a much easier way. It would be a lifetime job as the geo-tagging coupled with data finances’ details would help in establishing a province-wide database of the seminaries.”

The Sindh home department had identified 49 madressahs having alleged links with ‘terrorist organisations’ against whom the ‘relevant authorities’ were told to take action last month. The madressahs were identified on intelligence reports. The report prepared by the home department in August 2015 said 26 of the seminaries linked with the banned groups were in Karachi, 12 in Hyderabad, seven in Sukkur and four in Larkana.

After the home department report, came the move from the Sindh police which recently completed the geo-tagging in all districts of the province, including Sukkur, Naushahro Feroze, Khairpur, Ghotki, Mirpurkhas, Mithi, Umerkot, Sanghar, Hyderabad, Dadu, Badin, Thatta, Sujawal, Jamshoro, Tando Muhammad Khan, Shaheed Benazirabad, Matiari, Tando Allahyar, Larkana, Qamber-Shadadkot, Shikarpur, Jacobabad and Kashmore ,with Karachi leading the number with 3,110 madressahs.

Additional IG Abbasi said the police had not faced any resistance so far from the administrations and managements of the seminaries as only minor hiccups were faced by personnel which were removed with the coordination of the authorities from both sides.

“The primary objective of this exercise is to bring these madressahs under the regulatory framework of the security administration,” he said. “For that we need proper documentation and record as well as their financial history. It would be beneficial for both the seminaries and the security administration to stay in loop for the future coordination.”

Apart from the geo-tagging and maintenance of finance record, additional IG Abbasi said there was also an immense need to bring reforms in madressahs registration process which would help keep their record updated and block all loopholes of any mischief and suspicious activities.

dawn.com/news/1260523/sindh-madressah-finances-being-analysed-to-trace-source-of-their-funding

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Gen Raheel 'seriously concerned' over violation of sovereignty by US

May 25, 2016

RAWALPINDI: Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Raheel Sharif in a meeting with United States (US) Ambassador to Pakistan David Hale on Wednesday expressed serious concerns over the US drone strike in Balochistan.

The US drone strike targeting Afghan Taliban chief Mullah Akhtar Mansour was the first-ever in the province which has long been a ‘red line’ for Pakistan.

While the government has long condemned drone strikes, terming them a violation of Pakistan’s sovereignty, it had already conveyed a set of ‘red lines’ to the US in 2010, specifically mentioning attacks in Balochistan as a no-go area.

The Army chief said the drone attack, which was a violation of sovereignty, was detrimental to Pak-US ties and regional stability and damaged peace efforts, an Inter-Services Public Relations statement said.

The COAS said Pakistan’s efforts, successes and sacrifices in fight against terrorism are unparalleled.

Hale called on the Army chief at General Headquarters. The situation arising after the US drone strike in Balochistan came under discussion during the meeting.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif criticised the US drone strike on Sunday, describing it as a violation of Pakistan's sovereignty. A strong protest has also been lodged with the US over the attack.

dawn.com/news/1260563/gen-raheel-seriously-concerned-over-violation-of-sovereignty-by-us

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U.S. clears reimbursement fund for Pakistan for ‘anti-terrorism efforts’

May 25, 2016

Lahore: The United States Senate Armed Services Committee approved a proposal to set up a new fund to reimburse Pakistan for its efforts in the war against terror, which also delinks the country from Afghanistan.

According to Dawn, the committee’s chairman, Senator John McCain, introduced the bill, which sets aside up to $800 million for reimbursing Pakistan and the proposal is included in the Senate version of the National Defence Authorisation Act, 2017, passed on May 18.

The current arrangement reimburses Pakistan from the Coalition Support Fund (CSF) and has received a total of $3.1 billion since 2013. The CSF expires in the 2016 financial year, which ends in October.

The bill, however, requires Pakistan to keep open ground communication lines to Afghanistan for receiving reimbursements from this fund and $300m is linked to taking action against the Haqqani network.

The new provision focuses on Pakistan and on US national security interests and in doing so, it breaks the link between Pakistan and Afghanistan.

During a debate in the committee, lawmakers noted that the U.S. has already withdrawn most of its troops from Afghanistan and the U.S.-led coalition is also winding up its activities.

While considering the proposal, the committee noted that “Pakistan has been a long-standing strategic partner of the United States” and expressed its desire to continue a “strong and enduring” relationship between the two countries.

The committee also expressed the concern that “continued reliance on Coalition Support Funds for the provision of security assistance to Pakistan could negatively impact US support of Pakistani operations to combat terrorism”.

siasat.com/news/u-s-clears-reimbursement-fund-pakistan-anti-terrorism-efforts-962519/

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Corruption scandal: Balochistan's former finance adviser arrested by NAB

May 25, 2016

QUETTA: The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) arrested former finance adviser to CM Balochistan, Khalid Langove, from court premises on Wednesday after the court rejected his bail application.

Langove was at Balochistan High Court (BHC) for the submission of his bail application.

NAB officials, after arresting Langove, moved him to their regional headquarters for further interrogation amid tight security.

A divisional bench of the BHC comprising Justice Jamal Mandokhail and Justice Hashim Kakar rejected the bail application submitted by Langove.

Baz Muhammad Kakar, lawyer for Langove, presented his client and pleaded his innocence.

Langove earlier failed to appear before NAB on Thursday in relation to the mega corruption scandal in Balochistan, despite prior notice.

The anti-corruption watchdog had summoned the former finance adviser to answer some questions regarding the recently unearthed corruption scandal in Balochistan.

NAB had recovered more than Rs730 million from the residence of Balochistan Finance Secretary Mushtaq Ahmed Raisani. Following Raisani’s arrest and the recovery of embezzled money, the provincial finance adviser Khalid Langove immediately offered his resignation from the post.

Khalid Langove said that he resigned because his department is facing such grave allegations of corruption and foul play, which does not morally allow him to stay in his post.

Langove belongs to one of the ruling coalition partners, National Party (NP), and was elected as member of the Balochistan Assembly from Kalat district. He was given the slot of adviser of the chief minister on finance by Dr. Malik Baloch led Balochistan government.

dawn.com/news/1260573/corruption-scandal-balochistans-former-finance-adviser-arrested-by-nab

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Pakistan needs to actively pursue terrorist organizations using their soil: U.S.

May 25, 2016

Lahore: The United States has called on Pakistan to pursue actively terrorist organizations that are using their soil and their territory to find refuge, asserting that they will continue to work with Islamabad and give them the tools to confront the threat of terrorism.

“We’ve also said before that Pakistan is a country that unfortunately knows the effects of terrorism, the tragedy of terrorism. It’s suffered multiple terrorist attacks, mass casualty terrorist attacks, so it understands the stakes here. But we’re going to continue to work with the Pakistani authorities and a full-faith effort both to give them the tools they need and the capabilities they need to confront this threat,” US State Department spokesman Mark Toner told the media in a presser.

He further said that the US will continue to share intelligence and other information with Pakistan, to point out where they believe that terrorists are finding safe haven.

Talking about the furore over the airstrike last week in Balochistan which allegedly killed Taliban chief Mullah Akhtar Mansour, Toner further said that the U.S. considered the Haqqani Network to be an integral part of Taliban operations, and that the airstrike was crucial as Mansour was targeting U.S. as well as Afghan security personnel.

“Mansour represented an effort to rekindle the war, rekindle the conflict, re-stoke the violence in Afghanistan, and was not interested in pursuing peace. We believe that an Afghan-led, Afghan-owned peace process is the way ultimately to resolve the conflict in Afghanistan,” he said.

When asked if the Barack Obama government trusts Pakistan when it comes to war against terrorism, the spokesperson said that U.S. has always been clear with Islamabad regarding its terror policy and that operational security trumps a need to inform other governments prior to a mission.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had earlier said that the drone strike by the United States in Balochistan was a violation of Pakistan’s sovereignty, to the U.S. responded saying that they do respect Islamabad’s territorial integrity, but that will not stop them from carrying out strikes to remove terrorists targeting American forces.

Sharif said that it was not clear that Afghan Taliban chief Mullah Akhtar Mansour was among the two people reportedly killed in the air strike, adding that details of the incident were still being collected.

A statement by the Foreign Office in Islamabad said that while investigations were being carried out, “Pakistan wishes to once again state that the drone attack was a violation of its sovereignty, an issue which has been raised with the United States in the past as well”.

siasat.com/news/pakistan-needs-actively-pursue-terrorist-organizations-using-soil-u-s-962516/

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Three FC men shot dead in Peshawar

May 25, 2016

PESHAWAR: Three Frontier Corps (FC) men were killed when three unknown motorcyclists opened fire on their vehicle at Patang Chowk in Peshawar Wednesday morning.

Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Operations Abbas Majeed Marwat said the vehicle was approaching Patang Chowk from Ring Road when the assailants fired, killing two soldiers on the spot. A third succumbed to injuries at Lady Reading Hospital.

According to Capital City Police Officer (CCPO) Mubarak Zeb Khan, District Officer FC Ameer Badshah and two constables, Gul Rehman and Gul Rasool were on their way to headquarters as usual when their double cabin pickup truck came under fire.

The Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) claimed responsibility for the attack in an email sent to journalists.

Police surrounded the area and launched a search operation, though no immediate arrests were made. Initial investigation suggests a 9mm pistol was used to kill the men and 12 bullet casings have been recovered from the scene.

dawn.com/news/1260555/three-fc-men-shot-dead-in-peshawar

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Military court to try Safoora carnage ‘facilitators’, rules SHC

May 25, 2016

KARACHI: All is set for the trial of three facilitators of the Safoora Goth bus carnage in a military court as the Sindh High Court on Tuesday threw out their petitions against shifting of the trial from an antiterrorism court to military courts.

Five other accused persons in the case, including Saad Aziz and Tahir Minhas, have been sentenced to death by a military court.

Around 45 Shia Ismaili community members, including 18 women, were killed and eight others sustained gunshot wounds in an armed attack on their bus near Safoora Goth in May 2015.

The families of alleged facilitators — Naeem Sajid, Muhammad Hussain Siddiqui and Sultan Qamar Siddiqui — had challenged the shifting of their trial to the military courts.

A two-judge bench headed by Justice Irfan Saadat Khan in its judgement also brushed aside the apprehension of the petitioners’ counsel regarding fair trial to their clients by the military courts in the light of a judgement of the Supreme Court.

The bench observed that the apex court held that any order passed, decision taken or the sentence awarded under the Pakistan Army Act, 1952 , as amended by the Pakistan Army (Amendment) Act 2015 were also subject to a judicial review by the high courts and the Supreme Court.

It also observed that the apex court also held that “all rights of a criminal trial are available to an accused before a military trial and even those persons who are convicted by the military courts can approach the superior court if they can establish that either the trial was mala fide or without jurisdiction”.

The bench observed: “Hence, the apprehension of the petitioners/ accused is found to be misplaced.”

Accordingly, the court dismissed the petitions as the judges did not find any merit in them.

The federal and provincial governments filed their respective comments submitting that all legal formalities had been followed while shifting the trial proceedings to military courts and that the 21st Amendment to the Constitution had an overriding effect in all existing laws.

The governments’ law officers told the judges that all legal and constitutional formalities were followed in letter and spirit and that the legal committee had found the case fit to be tried in a military court. They pleaded the court to dismiss the petition, alleging the same was based on mala fide intention and with intent to delay the proceedings of the high-profile case.

One of the two petitions was filed by Hira Siddiqui, who had challenged the transfer of the case against her spouse Sultan Qamar Siddiqui and brother-in-law Hussain Umer Siddiqui.

Sultan Qamar, his brother and their alleged accomplice were also nominated for allegedly providing weapons to the assailants.

The police have shown around 10 absconders in the case, including arms dealer Zahid Abdul Qadir alias Zahid Motiwala, and placed over 100 prosecution witnesses, including 10 eyewitnesses, in the final investigation report and contended that all the suspects remained associated with Al Qaeda and following its split they became part of the militant Islamic State group.

The provincial authorities had transferred 18 cases, including the Safoora Goth bus massacre and Sabeen Mahmud murder cases, from the ATCs to the military courts for trial after getting approval from the federal government. The superintendent of the Karachi central prison through a letter informed the ATC-VI that the suspects namely Saad Aziz alias Tin Tin, Tahir Hussain Minhas alias Sain, Asad-ur-Rehman alias Malik, Hafiz Nasir alias Yasir, Mohammad Azhar Ishrat alias Majid, then Fishermen Cooperative Society vice chairman Sultan Qamar Siddiqui, his brother Hussain Umar Siddiqui and Naeem Sajid had been shifted from the central prison to the Malir cantonment for their trial in military courts in 18 cases.

Apart from the Safoora bus carnage case and the Sabeen Mahmud case, the other 16 cases include murder of policemen, attempted murder and carrying explosive substances and illicit weapons.

dawn.com/news/1260520/military-court-to-try-safoora-carnage-facilitators-rules-shc

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South Asia

Islamic State 'falsely claiming' attacks in Bangladesh

Tue May 24 2016

Islamic State is trying to ride a wave of religious radicalization by falsely claiming a spate of killings in Bangladesh, a government minister said, adding there was enough evidence implicating domestic militant groups.

Analysts say that as Islamic State loses territory in Iraq and Syria and its finances get drained, it may be trying to build affiliates in countries such as Libya, Egypt and Bangladesh for jihadists to launch attacks locally and cheaply.

But Shahriar Alam, Bangladesh's state minister for foreign affairs, told Reuters in an interview that no local or foreign agency had found any presence of Islamic State in the country.

"Those claims (of killings) are definitely false," Alam said on Tuesday. "But what we've agreed with our partnering countries is that we'll not argue over it - that sends a wrong message."

His comments came just days after a EU delegation said there was an unprecedented threat to human rights and freedom of expression in Bangladesh and urged Dhaka to tackle the challenge to protect its international reputation.

Since February last year, the Muslim-majority South Asian nation of 160 million has seen the killing of at least 26 people, including five secular bloggers, a publisher and two gay right campaigners.

Al Qaeda has claimed some of the attacks, while Islamic State has claimed 17 killings since first taking responsibility for murders in Bangladesh in September last year, according to U.S.-based monitoring service SITE.

Alam said it was an attempt to "ride the wave" without being involved at all.

"We know from Syria that there is no such common ground for Islamic State and al Qaeda, they can't be on the same platform," he said. "But the funny thing is that in some instances both have claimed responsibility here."

The government has said that two groups, Ansarullah Bangla Team and Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh, were behind the attacks as part of their campaign to establish a sharia-based Muslim state.

"Islamist violent extremism has gained so much ground (around the world)," Alam said.

"The question is whether Bangladesh is vulnerable. Bangladesh has always been vulnerable because of the low level of education, lack of employment. But till date, the global radical organizations, the terrorist groups, haven't been able to make any presence in Bangladesh, let alone make it their base."

reuters.com/article/us-islamic-state-bangladesh-idUSKCN0YG0K5

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11 killed, 10 wounded in Kabul suicide attack

Wed May 25 2016

At least eleven people were killed and ten others were wounded in an explosion in Kabul province earlier today.

A spokesman for the Ministry of Interior earlier confirmed the incident and said at least ten people were killed and four others were wounded.

Najib Danish sad the attack took place in the 5th police district of Kabul targeting a vehicle carrying the appellate court employees of Maidan WArdak.

He said the attack was carried out by a suicide bomber.

No group including the Taliban militants has claimed responsibility behind the incident yet.

Earlier the Taliban group vowed to target the judiciary workers in retaliation to the execution of a number of group’s militants by the Afghan government.

The Afghan government executed at least six militants over terror offences in capital Kabul earlier this month.

The execution of the militants followed days after a deadly attack rocked capital Kabul leaving at least 64 people dead and 347 others wounded.

khaama.com/3-dead-7-wounded-in-kabul-explosion-01061

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Removing Mansoor eliminates one roadblock to peace in Afghanistan: Carter

Tue May 24 2016

Ash CarterThe US Defense Secretary Ash Carter has said one roadblock to peace in Afghanistan has been eliminated with the removal of Mullah Akhtar Mansoor from the battlefield.

“Protecting American forces wherever they are in the world will always be one of my top priorities as Secretary of Defense,” the US Defense Secretary said in a statement.

Carter further added “The confirmation that our precision airstrike Saturday killed Taliban leader Mullah Mansur makes clear my commitment to address threats to our troops, NATO forces, Afghan military personnel and the innocent Afghan civilians who are working together so bravely to improve security in that country.”

He said removing Mansur from the battlefield eliminates one roadblock to peace in Afghanistan.

“I want to thank the U.S forces that carried out this important operation, and reaffirm that we will continue to disrupt networks and individuals that threaten the United States and our forces abroad,” he added.

Carter reaffirmed Department of Defense support to the Afghan government in its efforts to build a brighter and safe future for the people of Afghanistan.

“The Department of Defense will also continue to support the government of Afghanistan’s effort to build a brighter and safer future for the people of Afghanistan,” Carter said.

khaama.com/removing-mansoor-eliminates-one-roadblock-to-peace-in-afghanistan-carter-01058

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Taliban release photo of its new supreme leader Mawlavi Haibatullah Akhundzada

Wed May 25 2016

The Taliban militants group released a photograph of the group’s newly-appointed supreme leader Mawlavi Haibatullah Akhundzada.

No further details have been given regarding the background of Mawlavi Akhundzada who replaced Mullah Akhtar Mansoor 3 days after he was killed in a drone strike.

Meanwhile the former Afghan Intelligence Chief Rahmatullah Nabil has said Mawlavi Akhundzada was a village Mullah and has no military or political experience.

In a Twitter message, Nabil said the newly-appointed Taliban supreme leader is 56-year-old but lacks military and political experience.

He also added that one of his deputies, the 24-year-old Mullah Yaqoob, son of Mullah Mohammad Omar, also lacks military and political experience.

But according to Nabil, his other deputy, the leader of the Haqqani terrorist network, Sirajuddin Haqqani will be defacto leader of the group.

Earlier experts had warned that the appointment of Sirajuddin Haqqani would be dangerous for the country amid concerns that the group would further intensify its attacks.

The Taliban group released a statement to confirm the death of Mullah Akhtar Mansoor and appointment of Mawlavi Akhundzada and his deputies earlier today.

khaama.com/taliban-release-photo-of-its-new-supreme-leader-mawlavi-haibatullah-akhundzada-01063

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Hekmatyar offer condolences over Mullah Mansoor’s death

Wed May 25 2016

The leader of Hezb-e-Islami Gulbuddin Hekmatyar has offered condolences to the family and supporters of Mullah Akhtar Mansoor over his death.

Hekmatyar has released an unusual statement amid ongoing peace efforts between his party and the Afghan government, calling on Taliban to form a coalition with him.

He has called on Taliban to jointly work with him to achieve the joint targets and resolve the crisis in the country.

The leader of Hezb-e-Islami has also asked Taliban to jointly work with him in his ongoing peace efforts and resistance and jihad and for the future of the country.

The Taliban militants earlier rejected to form a coalition with Hezb-e-Islami and on numerous occasions fighting erupted among the fighters of the two groups, according to VOA’s Afghanistan service.

This comes as the Presidential Palace announced Tuesday that there is no specific timeframe for the conclusion of peace deal with Hezb-e-Islami led by Gulbuddin Hekmatyar.

Deputy presidential spokesman Syed Zafar Hashemi told reporters that peace process is always complicated and it would be a mistake to confirm a timeframe regarding the peace agreement, insisting that small and big changes normally takes place everyday, in every seconds and at the final seconds of peace process.

Meanwhile the Afghan government signed the draft peace agreement with Hezb-e-Islami last week.

Deputy Chief Executive Mohammad Khan told reporters last week that the draft agreement has been signed and will become enforceable once the Hezb-e-Islami party signs it.

khaama.com/hekmatyar-offer-condolences-over-mullah-mansoors-death-01059

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No specific timeframe for the conclusion of peace deal with Hezb-e-Islami: ARG

Tue May 24 2016

The Presidential Palace announced Tuesday that there is no specific timeframe for the conclusion of peace deal with Hezb-e-Islami led by Gulbuddin Hekmatyar.

Deputy presidential spokesman Syed Zafar Hashemi told reporters that peace process is always complicated and it would be a mistake to confirm a timeframe regarding the peace agreement.

Hashemi further added that small and big changes normally takes place everyday, in every seconds and at the final seconds of peace process.

He said the Afghan government will update the Afghan people once the two sides reach to an agreement.

This comes as the Afghan government signed the draft peace agreement with Hezb-e-Islami last week.

Deputy Chief Executive Mohammad Khan told reporters last week that the draft agreement has been signed and will become enforceable once the Hezb-e-Islami party signs it.

Meanwhile, the Chief Executive Officer Abdullah Abdullah said Sunday that the Afghan government is close to conclude a peace deal with Hezb-e-Islami led by Gulbuddin Hekmatyar.

Abdullah further added that negotiatiosn between the High Peace Council and Hezb-e-Islami are underway.

However, he insisted that the national interests of the country and the Afghan people are a top priority in all key issues, insisting that there will be no negligence in this regard.

He also emphasized that anyone joining peace process should lay down arms, stop insurgency activities, respect the Afghan constitution and reach to an agreement with the government.

khaama.com/no-specific-timeframe-for-the-conclusion-of-peace-deal-with-hezb-e-islami-arg-01056

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Southeast Asia

No handshake exemption for Muslim pupils, Swiss canton rules

May 25, 2016

Parents or guardians of students who refuse to shake a teacher's hand in the northern Swiss canton of Basel-Country could now face fines of up to 5,000 Swiss francs ($5,000, 4,500 euros).

handshake-swissGENEVA: Religious belief is no excuse for refusing to shake a teacher’s hand, Swiss regional authorities ruled Wednesday, reversing one school’s controversial decision to grant exemptions for Muslim students wary of touching the opposite sex.

Parents or guardians of students who refuse to shake a teacher’s hand in the northern Swiss canton of Basel-Country could now face fines of up to 5,000 Swiss francs ($5,000, 4,500 euros), regional education authorities ruled.

“A teacher has the right to demand a handshake,” they said in a statement.

The decision comes after a national uproar over revelations that a school allowed two brothers, aged 14 and 15, not to shake their teachers’ hands after they complained that doing so was counter to their religious beliefs if the teacher was a woman.

They argued that Islam does not permit physical contact with a person of the opposite sex, with the exception of certain immediate family members.

To avoid effectively permitting discrimination against female teachers, the school decided to exempt the boys from shaking hands with any of their teachers, regardless of sex.

That decision — made independently by the school in the northwest Therwil municipality without involvement of the canton’s authorities or local officials — triggered an outcry across Switzerland, where the tradition of students shaking their teachers’ hands as a sign of respect is deeply entrenched.

“The public interest concerning gender equality as well as integration of foreigners is far greater than that concerning the freedom of belief of students,” authorities said.

Wednesday’s ruling means that the school’s temporary rule, in place since the academic year started last autumn, will be lifted, the statement said.

If the two students at the heart of the controversy once again refuse to shake hands, “the sanctions called for by law will be applied,” it said.

Switzerland’s population of eight million people includes an estimated 350,000 Muslims.

Previous similar disputes have centred on Muslim parents who demanded that their daughters be exempt from swimming lessons, a case that led to the parents being fined.

Muslim families have however secured victories in court against schools which sought to ban the full face veil.

freemalaysiatoday.com/category/world/2016/05/25/no-handshake-exemption-for-muslim-pupils-swiss-canton-rules/

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Thai firm to build halal food plant in Malaysia

May 25, 2016

BANGKOK: A major Thai frozen seafood processor, PFP Group, plans to build a halal food plant in Malaysia costing more than RM18 million.

It is part of its plan to expand and increase its share in the lucrative international halal food market.

The Nation reported that PFP Group was negotiating with a potential partner in Malaysia to set up manufacturing and distribution facilities for halal products.

“We chose Malaysia as it has strong credibility in the production of halal foods, being recognised by other Muslim countries, rather than Thailand or other non-Muslim countries,” executive director Thawatchai Ratanapisit was quoted as saying.

The Nation report said PFP was exploring new markets, such as Muslims in Indonesia, in line with the government’s policy to make Thailand one of the world’s top five halal food exporters within five years.

In Thailand, PFP operates two food-processing plants in the southern province of Songkhla. One is for fish tofu, fish tofu slide, chikuwa fish cakes, fish and shrimp chips.

The other plant makes such products as imitation crab sticks, snow crab, fish tofu, Thai fish cakes, imitation crab claw, and imitation shrimp.

PFP has been shipping processed seafood products worldwide for more than 30 years. It now covers 21 overseas markets, according to the report.

The Nation report said the group was gearing up for more exports. The main markets abroad will be China and Muslim countries, especially Indonesia.

Thawatchai said that last year, PFP’s international sales was more than RM149 million, of which 72 per cent was to the Asian market, 12 per cent to Europe, 8 per cent to North America and 8 per cent to Australia and New Zealand.

freemalaysiatoday.com/category/nation/2016/05/25/thai-firm-to-build-halal-food-plant-in-malaysia/

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Media helps to spread Islamic values

25 May,2016

Jakarta (ANTARA News) - Indonesian Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister A.M. Fachir emphasized that the media was instrumental in spreading Islamic values among nations.

"When we speak about the media, we discuss its role in disseminating Islamic values," Fachir stated in his opening remarks at the International Conference of Islamic Media here on Wednesday.

The deputy foreign affairs minister opened the conference themed "Islamic Media to Protect Islam and Muslim Interests, Especially Palestine and Al Quds Liberation."

Fachir affirmed that the media played a role in highlighting the reality, values, and recommendations of the results of international conferences and summits.

The minister also recognized the role of the Islamic media in voicing the concerns of countries, especially Islamic nations, on the liberation of Palestine.

The conference specifically addressed the role of the Islamic media in supporting the Palestinian struggle to break free from Israeli occupation and in defending the Islamic world.

The deputy foreign minister noted that the media had been used for certain purposes of a party to hide the truth.

"The basic role of the media is to showcase facts and truth to the world," he stressed.

Therefore, the Islamic media should play an active role in spreading facts and truth and in voicing the message of peace from every nation.

At least 50 representatives from over 17 countries attended the conference.

The attendees comprised chief editors of news agencies in Islamic countries, ambassadors of Islamic countries in Jakarta, experts and practitioners of mass media, organizations of Muslim journalists, leaders of Islamic colleges, non-governmental and community organizations, lecturers, college students as well as community leaders concerned about the Palestinian liberation and protecting Muslims.

The countries participating in the conference were Australia, Indonesia, Iran, Kuwait, the Islamic Republic of Iran, Lebanon, Libya, the Philippines, Malaysia, Nigeria, Singapore, Sudan, Thailand, Tunisia, Turkey, the United States, Palestine, Great Britain, and Saudi Arabia.

News Director of ANTARA National News Agency Aat Surya Safaat stated that the media had a role in highlighting Palestinian problems, which had been overshadowed by news on issues in other countries, such as the turmoil in Egypt and Yemen.

"We invited Muslim and non-Muslim journalists to attend the conference as Palestines problem is not about religion but humanity," he emphasized.

Safaat said the conference could draw an initiative to establish a Muslim journalists association.

"There is a possibility that the conference could be organized periodically. This time, Indonesia hosts the conference, and later, Turkey may host it," he added.

antaranews.com/en/news/104872/media-helps-to-spread-islamic-values

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Inquiry urged after Rohingya shot in detention center breakout

May 25, 2016 at 13:40 JST

BANGKOK--Rights groups called on Tuesday for an independent investigation into the fatal shooting of a Rohingya Muslim from Myanmar who was involved in a dramatic mass breakout from a detention center in southern Thailand.

Twenty-one Rohingya men escaped from the Phang Nga Immigration Detention Center in the early hours of Monday after sawing through an iron bar in their communal cell.

One was shot dead and three caught after they kicked, pushed and threw stones at police and immigration officers who chased them up a nearby mountain, police said.

Eleven more Rohingya were arrested on Tuesday and will be charged with fleeing detention, police said. Another four are still missing.

Police are investigating the shooting but several rights groups called for an independent inquiry.

"The police need to demonstrate that a legitimate cause existed to justify the use of lethal force against a group of refugees," said Amy Smith, executive director of Fortify Rights based in Southeast Asia.

Tens of thousands of Rohingya have fled poverty and persecution in western Myanmar since sectarian violence erupted there in 2012.

Many have been arrested by Thai authorities or ended up in human trafficking camps in the jungles of southern Thailand as they tried to reach Malaysia

Most Rohingya are stateless and unrecognized by the two countries they call home--Bangladesh and Myanmar.

This complicates repatriation and can lead to lengthy spells in overcrowded Thai detention centers, which Rohingya often try to escape.

Rights groups urged Thailand to end the indefinite detention of refugees and human trafficking survivors--some of whom have been in detention for two years--and warned there would be further breakouts.

"This will happen a second time, a third time," said Siwawong Suktawee of the Migrant Working Group Thailand, a network of nonprofit groups advocating for migrants and refugees.

"During Ramadan, which begins in June, that is when families normally get together, and I think the pressure of their detention may cause the situation to explode again," he said.

The Migrant Working Group Thailand said more than 400 Rohingya were held in Thai detention centers.

The U.N. Refugee Agency (UNHCR) said they would work with the Thai authorities to find alternatives to detention.

"It's deeply tragic that a refugee life should have been lost. This incident underscores UNHCR's serious concerns on a worldwide basis over the use of detention for dealing with people forced to flee war or persecution," UNHCR spokeswoman Vivian Tan said by email.

Colonel Chote Chidchai, deputy chief of police in Phang Nga province, said the officer who fired the shots was under investigation.

"It was an intentional shooting, but he was doing his job. Right now we're in the process of investigating," he added.

asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201605250036.html

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Africa

Germany, France hold back NATO, EU ambitions in Libya

Wed May 25, 2016

Europe's bold intentions to support Libya's new U.N.-backed government are faltering as France and Germany resist a bigger role to rebuild the failed state, scarred by the West's 2011 air campaign to help topple dictator Muammar Gaddafi.

The European Union and NATO have said they stand ready to help the unity government in Tripoli, if requested, to combat smugglers sending migrants into the Mediterranean toward Europe. Tripoli, for its part, faces a threat from Islamic State fighters who exploited past conflict between rival governments to extend their power.

In a letter, Libyan Prime Minister Fayez Seraj sent a broad request for security training, but now Germany and France want the United Nations to move first, something Russia is unlikely to support because it feels the West went too far in 2011.

Germany has suggested that the NATO alliance may need an invitation from the European Union to help in Libya.

"Europeans now have what they asked for, namely a unity government ruling from the capital," said Mattia Toaldo, a Libya expert at the European Council on Foreign Relations. "They should take care not to burden it with unrealistic demands, from ending the migrant crisis to defeating Islamic State."

Germany is wary of a long-term commitment, scaling back the language in a statement by European Union foreign ministers this week by insisting the bloc seeks U.N. Security Council approval to stop arms trafficking even on the high seas, diplomats said.

France sent special forces and intelligence commandos to conduct covert operations against Islamic State in Libya, Le Monde reported in February. But French diplomats in Brussels are more cautious about a big NATO role, despite a warning last month from EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini that some 450,000 refugees in Libya could flee to Europe.

Deployment of NATO combat troops appears out of the question.

"We are looking at a support role, one that is low profile," said a senior French official involved in Libya policy. "The risks are very real and our resources modest."

The remarks contrast with gathering momentum a month ago at EU and NATO headquarters in Brussels and a special dinner of EU foreign and defense ministers in Luxembourg in which Libyan maritime and security missions were on the table.

"The situation is apparently not grave enough for us to act," said a senior NATO diplomat. "We need a real crisis."

Just 480 kilometers (300 miles) from Europe's coast, Libya's slide into anarchy over the past five years has made it an outpost for Islamic State militants and a staging post for sub-Saharan African migrants aided by traffickers.

But the failure of the West's 2011 intervention still weighs on Western officials, even as the United States urges the Europeans to take a bigger role in securing its neighborhood.

"Washington tells us Europe's southern border ends in the Sahara, not in the Mediterranean," said an EU defense official.

"SECURITY VACUUM"

Britain and the United States want a much bigger role for both NATO and the European Union. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has urged NATO to link up with the EU's naval mission "Sophia" in the Mediterranean to tackle smugglers.

Lawmakers in Britain say the EU's naval mission in the Mediterranean is too limited to have an impact on smugglers, as it is too far out to destroy boats, catch traffickers or head off migrants trying to reach Europe by sea from Libya.

"A mission acting only on the high seas is not able to disrupt smuggling networks, which thrive on the political and security vacuum in Libya, and extend through Africa," a British parliamentary report said this month.

Alain Le Roy, the secretary general of the EU's foreign service, defended the Sophia mission, saying that more than 80 traffickers had been arrested and up to 200 boats destroyed.

EU foreign ministers have approved training of Libya's navy and coast guard in international waters. Sophia's chief, Italian Rear Admiral Enrico Credendino, told La Repubblica on Wednesday the coast guard could be trained in 14 weeks.

On the ground, the United States and Italy, Libya's former colonial power, are leading calls for action and Rome is willing to send around 5,000 personnel to help the country. Washington is developing military options including deploying U.S. special forces against Islamic State militants.

Germany does not want its personnel on Libyan soil but is willing to revive an EU border guards program in Tunisia.

reuters.com/article/us-libya-security-nato-eu-analysis-idUSKCN0YG18Z

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Islamic world eyeing investments in Africa

May 24, 2016

The OIC has been active on the continent on the humanitarian and diplomatic fronts since its creation in 1969. More recently, the organisation’s financial arm, the Islamic Development Bank (IDB) – whose main shareholders are Saudi Arabia (23.6%), Libya (9.5%), Iran (8.3%), Nigeria (7.7%) and the United Arab Emirates (7.5%) – has become a major player in development finance in Africa.

Some 30% of the US$12bn invested in 2015 by the IDB went to sub-Saharan Africa, says its regional director, Sidi Mohamed Taleb. The bank is now focusing on removing obstacles to African development, among them poor infrastructure and agricultural productivity. The strategy, which has been largely designed by the OIC’s 22 African member states, according to Mr Taleb, will invest mainly in Africa’s energy, telecoms, transport and agriculture sectors.

In the Sahel region the bank is financing the flagship Dakar-Port Sudan railway and key energy projects in Mali, Mauritania, Guinea and Côte d’Ivoire, in some cases with the geostrategic aim of stabilising the region. Another major IDB initiative in Africa is the OIC Cotton Action Plan, first created in 2007 to rehabilitate decaying cotton and textile industries in OIC member states.

The bank has a $400m portfolio in Mali, where it is building a new international airport. It is also financing a road between Algeria and Kidal, the capital of northern Mali, which fell to the extremist group Al Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb, in 2013. “There is an absolute necessity to break the isolation of this region,” says Mr Taleb. It would appear that the OIC’s aim there is to restore political stability, including mediating between the government and the rebels.

The Khartoum-headquartered Bank for Economic Development in Africa (BADEA), established in 1973 by the Arab League member states, is another important institutional player in the Islamic world. Between 1975 and 2014 it allocated some $3.69bn in loans. In 2014, it provided $200m in loans to 22 sub-Saharan countries, 57.6% of it to infrastructure, 22.6% to agriculture and rural development and the rest to the non-profit and private sectors.

Certain gulf states rank high among Islamic partner countries. In 2014, the Saudi Fund for Development (SDF) supported 13 projects in 11 African countries, which received a total of SR1.27bn ($340m). In November 2013, Kuwait said it would extend $1bn in soft loans to the continent over the next five years. Since its inception in 1961, the Kuwait Fund has contributed over $6.4bn to projects in 48 African states.

The Abu Dhabi Fund for Development (ADFD) has provided 65 billion dirhams (about $17.7bn) to 76 countries around the world since its creation in 1971. It financed Egypt’s Sheikh Zayed Canal, built using a Dh348m (about $94.74m in 2012) grant (the canal has yet to be completed). Meanwhile, Qatar also has ambitions to be a major player in Africa. Its department of international aid spent more than $1.7bn on development assistance in 2013, one third of it in Africa.

Companies from several Islamic countries have also developed commercial and private investment ties with Africa. According to a 2015 report by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), East Africa is attracting most of the Gulf’s non-commodity investment, with manufacturing in Ethiopia; leisure, retail and tourism in Mozambique and Kenya; and education in Uganda of particular interest. Retail and hypermarkets, automotives, commercial banking and tourism are key sectors.

However, trade between the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) and Africa is still modest. In 2014, GCC exports to sub-Saharan Africa totalled $19.7bn, according to the IMF. However, direct investment flows are growing significantly. Gulf firms invested at least $9.3bn in sub-Saharan Africa between 2005 and 2014, and $2.7bn in the first half of 2015, according to the EIU.

South Africa, Kenya and Uganda have attracted most Gulf investment. The trend is likely to continue. The UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) recorded 17 bilateral investment treaties between the Gulf and sub-Saharan countries in 2013, one third of which were signed that year.

Most GCC capital goes into Africa through listed stocks and bonds, including locally domiciled funds such as Invest AD’s Emerging Africa Fund in the UAE, which is co-managed with the Morrocan Attijariwafa Bank. Significant investments recorded in 2014 were the purchase by Qatar National Bank of a 23% stake in Ecobank of Togo and the acquisition of $300m of Nigeria’s Dangote Cement shares by the Investment Corporation of Dubai.

Morocco’s banks, insurance and agribusiness are expanding fast in Africa, helping to boost Moroccan exporters. The Attijawariwafa Bank now has subsidiaries and branches in 14 African countries, mostly in west Africa. The world leader in fertilisers, the Office Chérifien des Phosphates (OCP), a Moroccan company, is aggressively promoting its products south of the Sahara.

Meanwhile, Turkish Airlines is expanding its presence on the continent, with 44 African destinations; Royal Air Maroc has 22 and Emirates Airlines 19. Turkey is becoming increasingly involved in FDI to Africa. It held two summits with Africa, in Istanbul in 2008 and in Malabo (Equatorial Guinea) in 2014. Turkish Airlines was one of the first airlines to resume international flights to Somalia in 2011.

Turkish trade with Africa has risen nearly fourfold from $5.4bn in 2003 to $20bn in 2014, according to a 2015 research paper by Chatham House, the UK’s Royal Institute of International Affairs. Turkey has signed investment treaties with 12 countries in sub-Saharan Africa and aims to sign a free trade agreement with the East African Community by 2019.

At the end of 2011, then Turkish foreign minister Ahmed Davutoglu estimated Turkish investment in Africa at some $1bn. It is likely much higher today. An Ethiopian Investment Agency official noted in 2014 that Turkey had invested about $1.2bn in Ethiopia in recent years, particularly in the textile industry, as compared to China’s $836m over the past decade.

Islamic finance is gaining momentum in sub-Saharan Africa, where about 30% of the population is Muslim, according to the Pew Research Center, a think tank in Washington D.C. Gulf African Bank, which offers sharia-compliant products, now has 14 branches in Kenya, with a rising portfolio of small and medium enterprises. Islamic finance is one of the fastest growing financial segments at global level. This is one reason why the World Bank Group’s International Finance Corporation (IFC) has invested in the Gulf African Bank.

In September 2015, South Africa issued its first $500m sukuk, a sharia-compliant and interest-free Islamic bond, in the international capital markets to broaden its investor base and diversify funding for infrastructure. Côte d’Ivoire plans to issue its first sukuk, for 350 billion CFA francs (roughly $700m), with the support of the IDB. According to the ratings agency Standard & Poor’s, new regulations and fiscal incentives around the continent “could accelerate Islamic finance development in Africa”.

However, the low oil price may cause some disruption to Islamic foreign investment. Saudi Arabia has withdrawn tens of billions of dollars from global asset managers since September 2015, according to the Financial Times.

Money transfers from Islamic countries or charities to Africa have also faced regulators’ concerns that networks could be used for criminal financing. Kenya suspended the operations of 13 firms in the first half of 2015 over concerns that funds were flowing to al-Shabab militants. In May 2013 Barclays said it would close the bank accounts of 250 money transfer companies as part of a drive to meet stricter money laundering rules.

A February 2016 study by the IMF concludes that there is no evidence that Islamic finance faces different risks from those of conventional finance as regards terrorism and crime. However, it concludes that an in-depth analysis of the intrinsic characteristics and arrangements used in Islamic finance is still required, and that Islamic financial institutions need to build more experience with regard to the risks they face in dealing with money laundering and terrorism financing. If so, this would apply also to the Islamic world’s investments in Africa.

geeskaafrika.com/19262/new-frontier-islamic-world-eyeing-investments-africa/

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Africa Live: Nigeria emir condemns child marriages, Mugabe tribute march

May 24, 2016

Influential Nigerian Muslim cleric speaks out against child marriages

Nigeria's Emir of Kano wants age of marriage to be raised to 17

Money for Kenyan school children misappropriated

March planned in Zimbabwe to honour President Mugabe

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Sister of NHS doctor who joined Isis says parents will 'never forgive him'

May 24, 2016

The sister of an NHS doctor who fled from his family in the UK to join Islamic State in Syria has said their parents “will never forgive him”.

Najla Abuanza spoke out following reports her brother Issam deserted his wife and two children from Sheffield in 2014 to join the militant group.

The revelation was unearthed in Islamic State recruitment documents leaked to the BBC.

Abuanza told the broadcaster: “He used to be quite the dashing young man, very modern. I’ve no idea how he became like this or who showed him the path to terror.

“My dad’s wish was to see him before he dies. He has spent all his money on him and his education and this is what he does.”

Dr Abuanza, 37, gained his medical licence in 2009 and is believed to be the first NHS doctor known to have joined Isis, according to the BBC.

He posted “God bless this act of terrorism” on his Facebook page on the day of the Charlie Hebdo attacks in Paris on 7 January last year. The attacks at the headquarters of the satirical magazine saw 12 staff members gunned down by two Islamic terrorists shouting “Allahu akbar”.

Dr Abuanza described the US as “godless” in another post on the social media site. One photo posted appears to show him reading the Qur’an while cradling an automatic rifle. Another apparently shows him posing in doctors’ scrubs with a pistol holster slung over one arm.

The Palestinian worked at Scarborough hospital between October 2012 and August 2013, according to the BBC.

Scarborough and Whitby MP Robert Goodwill told the Press Association: “It’s shocking that someone who has worked to save lives in the NHS is now promoting one of the most murderous and horrific regimes.

“We read about how young Muslim men are being indoctrinated by the Islamic State but this man was a qualified doctor, proving that even those who are very intelligent can be hoodwinked.”

The transport minister stopped short of speculating that Dr Abuanza could be among many other professionals to have joined Isis.

“I hope not; the majority of Muslim people I have met are very sensible,” he added. “This is a perversion of their religion.”

Goodwill does not recognise Dr Abuanza’s name but says they could have crossed paths when he visited Friday prayers held at the hospital.

theguardian.com/uk-news/2016/may/24/sister-nhs-doctor-isis-parents-najla-issam-abuanza

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North America

A look at the Markaz, the community center for Muslim students

May 24, 2016

Since May 2013, the Markaz community center has served as a comfortable space for Muslim students and others to connect and build relationships.

Students from the Islamic Society at Stanford University (ISSU) and the Muslim Student Awareness Network (MSAN) worked together to build a student-run collaboration in 2006. From 2006 to 2013, the groups ran student study breaks and offered chats about being Muslim at Stanford. Since then, the ISSU and MSAN have merged to form the Muslim Student Union (MSU). The MSU, along with faculty and staff, developed a proposal for a new community resource center based upon other community centers such as El Centro and the Women’s Community Center.

Vice Provost John Etchemendy approved the proposal in May of 2013. Leadership of the collaboration, along with the Arab Student Association (ASA), officially built the Markaz out of two study rooms upstairs in the Nitery.

Following the model of other community centers, the groups hired staff members to provide structural support and organize events. Mona Damluji was hired by the University as director in the fall of 2015.

“It’s been a huge year for everything the community’s been doing and for what the center has been trying to do, and so a lot has happened in a very short time,” said Damluji.

Damluji said the University offered a lot of support for the community resource center and its programs. She explained that the Markaz relates students with the Muslim-American experience but is not solely for students practicing the religion. Many of the contributors to the Markaz are neither Muslim nor religious.

Beginning next year, the Markaz staff and interns hope to formalize resources via three outreach programs: wellness, Chai Chats and Spotlights.

The wellness program, Project Pomegranate, will expand on the Markaz’s study breaks.

“It will work to create spaces for people to socially, mentally, emotionally, physically just find a way to feel good amidst the chaos of exams and the end of the quarter,” said the director.

Damluji hopes this provides students with more emotional and psychological support.

Chai Chats originated with student-run collaboration and has gained greater popularity with the expansion of community center resources, Damuji said. Faculty, alumni, activists, graduate students and administrators lead roundtable discussions on topics ranging from refugee crises to career opportunities to being Muslim in America.

Spotlights give students the opportunity to tell their story and highlight different voices in the community. Damluji said the spotlight program will be retitled “Mosaic” to represent the different pieces that make up the community. Additionally, the Markaz will also reach out to other communities in the Bay Area, such as the international rescue community that is helping refugees in California.

Along with this, the Markaz provides internship opportunities at the center itself.

Majd Quran ’19, an intern at the Markaz, says that she found a community at the Markaz to parallel her family from Palestine.

“It felt really nice to have a support system of people who could understood me on a different level than other people who I was meeting here could,” Quran said.

Quran has hosted an open mic night and attended many cultural events since the Markaz’s creation, and she said she hopes to staff at the community center next year.

Fatimah Alajaji ’18, an active student in the Markaz community, describes the Markaz as a “homey” space for familiar faces and group meetings.

Alajaji said that the Markaz provides a home for the student groups that she is active in, such as the ASA and MSU, and that she looks forward to what will come in the future.

“The Markaz has already made so much progress – it’s insane” she said.

To learn more about getting involved in the Markaz community and their upcoming events, visit markaz.stanford.edu.

stanforddaily.com/2016/05/24/a-look-at-the-markaz-the-community-center-for-muslim-students/

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Canada home to Islamic radicals

TUESDAY, MAY 24, 2016

In November 2014, while making a deposition before the Senate Committee on National Security and Defence, I raised the issue of Islamic clerics using mosque sermons to attack the foundational principles of Western civilization and liberal secular democracy.

Liberal Senator Grant Mitchll was outraged by my testimony that at most Canadian mosques, the Friday congregation includes a ritual prayer asking, “Allah to give victory to Muslims over the ‘Kufaar’ (non-Muslims).”

In a heated exchange with me, the senator suggested I wasn’t telling the truth, implying I was motivated by Islamophobia.

Sadly, Sen. Mitchell is not alone in such views.

But neither is there any let up in the attacks on Canadian values emanating from many mosque pulpits and Islamic conferences hosted by radical Islamist groups.

For example, in a sermon on Friday, May 6 delivered at a mosque in Edmonton, an imam invoked the memory of Prophet Muhammad to whip up hatred against Israel.

He declared peace accords with Israel are “useless garbage,” and vowed “Jerusalem will be conquered through blood.”

In February, the same cleric predicted Islam would soon conquer Rome, “the heart of the Christian state.”

The Edmonton mosque diatribe was not isolated.

On May 13, just north of Toronto, an Islamic society hosted a celebration of Iranian mass murderer, Ayatollah Khomeini.

The poster promoting the event described Khomeini as a, “Liberator and Reformer of the Masses.

On Saturday, the Islamist group Hizb-ut-Tahrir, banned in some countries, hosted a conference to discuss the re-establishment of a global Islamic caliphate.

Pakistan-Canadian writer Tahir Gora went to cover the event, but was barred from entering the hall.

“They said this was a closed door, in-camera meeting for our supporters,” Gora told me after he was asked to leave.

Fortunately, one Palestinian-Canadian woman was able to enter the event.

She shared with me some of the proceedings from inside the gathering.

“I walked into the banquet hall with approximately 100 attendees who were gender segregated. I sat next to a woman who said she had been in Canada for 40 years. When I asked her if she felt any disconnect between enjoying 40 years of democracy, yet supporting the Hizb-ut-Tahrir who wanted to end it, she explained that democracy has done nothing good to people, so she and other believers follow Allah's rule.

"The first speaker reminded Muslims that they are obligated to implement Allah's orders that fulfil the Islamic State. It is "not permissible for us to choose’ he said, citing the Quran.

“However, he said it was necessary to win the public's hearts and minds; and to partner with people of power, citing examples from the life of The Prophet.

“At the end, a three-minute video was presented to demonstrate the collective oil and natural gas production capabilities of the Muslim world, the human capital needed to mine and process these resources ... the military power required to protect them and the types of weapons needed to make such a military effective.”

While this was unfolding we received news that the Trudeau government, as part of its infrastructure development program, had authorised a $200,000 grant to a southern Ontario mosque with links to the Muslim Brotherhood.

Which begs the question: Who’s minding the store?

torontosun.com/2016/05/24/canada-home-to-islamic-radicals

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Militants attacking US and Afghan forces to be targeted: US

Wed May 25 2016

Militants attacking the US and Afghan forces will be targeted and will have no safe haven, the US Department of State has said.

Mark C. Toner, deputy spokesperson for the State Department, told reporters “If you’re going to carry out attacks, if you’re going to lead attacks against our forces and against Afghan’s forces – Afghanistan’s forces – then you’re going to be targeted and you’re not going to have safe haven.”

Toner was responding to a question regarding the US airstrike that targeted the Taliban supreme leader Mullah Akhtar Mansoor.

“And I also think that it sends the message that the Taliban must decide what its future is going to be and whether it’s going to be part of a peaceful political future for Afghanistan. And there is a path towards that,” Toner said.

He also added ” And I also think that it sends the message that the Taliban must decide what its future is going to be and whether it’s going to be part of a peaceful political future for Afghanistan. And there is a path towards that.”

The Taliban supreme leader Mullah Mansoor was targeted in the vicinity of Balochistan province of Pakistan late on Saturday afternoon.

His death has been confirmed by the Afghan government, security institutions and the US authorities.

The Afghan government said Mullah Mansoor sought refuge in the stranger’s soil and was repeatedly committing deception, concealing facts, killing innocent people and terrorizing people as well as smuggling drugs and preventing Afghanistan to gain development by emphasizing on continued war in the country.

Meanwhile, the US President Barack Obama said Mansoor rejected efforts by the Afghan government to seriously engage in peace talks and end the violence that has taken the lives of countless innocent Afghan men, women and children.

“The Taliban should seize the opportunity to pursue the only real path for ending this long conflict – joining the Afghan government in a reconciliation process that leads to lasting peace and stability,” he added.

khaama.com/militants-attacking-us-and-afghan-forces-to-be-targeted-us-01062

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Muslims For Trump Founder: Donald ‘Is The Only One Who Can Save America

05/24/2016

Muslims for Trump founder Sajid Tarar praised Donald Trump saying that his fellow Muslim friends think that the Republican candidate “is the only one who can save America.”

Appearing on “CNN Tonight” on Monday, host Don Lemon asked why he was supporting Trump to which Tarar replied Monday, “There are several reasons. First of all, that radical Islam is I believe is not only a threat to western civilization it is a threat to Islam itself.”

Trump is “the first time the first candidate who has brought it on the table, looked it eye to eye and he has said ‘America first, safety of America.'”

“We are Americans, we are American Muslims and it’s very important for us as well.”

Lemon interjected, “How are your Muslim friends reacting to this?”

“In the beginning it was hard but now frankly speaking they are joining, they are coming, they are listening to his message and to think he is the only one who can save America in the future, but not only this, he has plans to understand Islam,” Tarar said. “He has said several times he has said that I wanted to understand why Muslims hate us, what are the grassroots situation, and like I told you education, opportunity, and a lot of other things.”

“Right now we currently don’t have any foreign policy,” Tarar said. Trump is “looking forward to change, bring change from different angles to not only geoeconomic terms, on foreign policy and Islam.”

dailycaller.com/2016/05/24/muslims-for-trump-founder-donald-is-the-only-one-who-can-save-america-video/

 

URL: http://www.newageislam.com/islamic-world-news/new-age-islam-news-bureau/terrorists-see-all-europe-as-vast-battleground,-says-expert/d/107419

 

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