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Islamic World News ( 15 Nov 2019, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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There Is No Holy War in Islam and the Word Jihad in Some Religious Books Has Misinterpreted the Religion: Christchurch Mosque Imam

New Age Islam News Bureau

15 Nov 2019

Gamal Fouda, imam of Al Noor Mosque in Christchurch, who escaped the massacre in March. PHOTO Sajila

Image Credit:


 There Is No Holy War in Islam and the Word Jihad in Some Religious Books Has Misinterpreted the Religion: Christchurch Mosque Imam

 Islamic Finance Assets to Hit $3.4 Trln by 2024 Driven By Saudi Arabia, Malaysia Growth:


 Tory Official Resigns from Party after 'Muslim Man Quizzed Over Religion'

 Electoral Reforms Should Encourage Real Issues, Not Race and Religion

 Pompeo Presses European Countries to Take Detained Islamic State Fighters

 I Tried My Best to Mend Ties with India: PM Imran

 Shiv Sena Says It Doesn't Oppose 5% Reservation For Muslims

 Gaza Truce Shaky As Islamic Jihad and Israel Disagree On Terms

 ‘I Don’t Want To Go Back To Libya,’ Plead Migrants Trying To Flee


Arab World

 Misk Initiatives Centre signs 12 deals to develop youth talent

 Return of ‘Captain Majid’ announced at Anime Expo in Riyadh

 Riyadh forum paves way for ‘smart factories’

 6 Saudi teams scale heights as Canadians win Entrepreneurship World Cup



 Germany: Don't Panic Over 'Islamic State' Returnees' Arrival

 Fire at Muslim centre in Haverhill was a 'deliberate act' done to 'put fear into people'

 German envoy voices concern over Indian atrocities in occupied Kashmir


Southeast Asia

 Thousands of Muslims Pray For Peace in Hong Kong

 Philippines Plans to Allow Banks to Set up Islamic Banking Units

 Voters will decide if they are angry or not, Hisham tells Dr M

 2 teens charged with the murder of tahfiz student

 Cracks appear in MTUC as Johor chapter slams Sarawak

 No state convention till you put your house in order, Sarawak PKR tells top dogs

 Drop in prices of goods not true in Buy Muslim First campaign

 Indonesia’s Islamic finance rank rises


North America

 US lawmakers seek probe into terror finance links between two prominent Muslim groups and LeT

 Was Founder Of White Helmets Killed By Islamic State?

 Arrest Made After Man Points Gun At Worshippers Outside Denver Mosque

 US court rules American-born woman who joined Islamic State is not a citizen



 £20 billion cost to UK if India-Pakistan fight on Kashmir

 Pak Army Chief visits Armoured Corps Centre in Nowshera

 Pakistan expects India to appreciate Kartarpur Corridor initiative: FO

 Prisoner swap deal stands suspended, say Taliban

 Any ‘deal’ on Kulbhushan Jadhav out of question: FO

 Hamza Ali Abbasi quits showbiz, reveals journey from atheism to Islam

 Islamist leader calls off protest in Pakistan capital

 Islamic economy spending to increase 45pc, reaching $3.2tn by 2024



  ‘Best ever verdict’: UP Shia Waqf Board Chief Wasim Rizvi donates Rs 51,000 for Ram  temple in Ayodhya

 No mosque land in cultural boundary of Ayodhya: VHP

 Sunni Waqf Board taking legal opinion on whether to accept plot for mosque in Ayodhya

 Kashmir witnessed ISIS-level horror before the West was apprised on it: Columnist Sunanda Vashisht



 Israel Strikes 'Jihad' Targets despite Ceasefire

 Iranian President Calls Cooperation with Jewish State A ‘Strategic Mistake,’ Professes Bond

 Israeli airstrike at Gaza strip kills senior commander of Palestinian militant group

 Leader receives participants of 33rd International Islamic Unity Conference

 Islamic Revolution, model for people of world

 Islamic Jihad in-fighting after Hamas did not join attack on Israel

 Islamic Jahad Movement appreciates Iran for supporting Palestine

 Iran President felicitates Prophet’s (PBUH) birthday to Islamic nations

 Netanyahu Had More Than Islamic Jihad in His Crosshairs

 Islamic Jihad Has Long-range Rockets. Hamas Has Long-term Goals

 Rouhani warns Muslim countries against ‘friendship’ with Israel



 Inside Libya's Notorious Gernada Prison, Home To Radical Islamists

 Akinola Admonishes Muslims on Peace, Nation Building

 Islamic group issues warning to Oyo gov, Makinde

 How Moslem Grammar Schools Old Students Reunite To Uplift Alma Mater

 How Boko Haram Went From A Peaceful Islamic Sect To One Of The World’s Deadliest Terrorists In A Decade



South Asia

 Democracy In Afghanistan: Why The 2019 Presidential Election Turnout Was Low

 10 Taliban militants killed, detained in Special Forces raids and airstrikes

 Russia considers release of senior Haqqani Network leaders a ‘gesture of goodwill’

 More ISIS militants and their family members surrender to Afghan forces in Nangarhar

 NATO Secretary General emphasizes on importance of the training of Afghan forces during

U.S. visit


Compiled By New Age Islam News Bureau




There Is No Holy War in Islam and the Word Jihad in Some Religious Books Has Misinterpreted the Religion: Christchurch Mosque Imam

November 14, 2019

Dubai: There is no holy war in Islam and the word jihad in some religious books has misinterpreted the religion, the imam of a New Zealand mosque who escaped the massacre in March said in Dubai on Thursday.

Gamal Fouda, the imam of Al Noor mosque in Christchurch, where 42 people were shot by an unnamed white supremacist, said the use of the word ‘jihad’ in some religious books has contributed to people, especially Westerners, thinking that Islam is a religion of extremism.

He was speaking at a session on “Instilling Communal Peace and Harmony Within Societies” at the World Tolerance Summit. Fouda’s remarks about “jihad or holy war” came when he was asked by the moderator to explain why some people in the Western world think that Islam is the religion of violence.

Fouda said: “I would like to acknowledge that sometimes [it is due to] the barrier of language. Sometimes those who introduce Islam don’t have the correct terms to explain what Islam is.”

“I found by myself that in some of the Islamic books they talk about jihad, the holy war, which in fact is totally incorrect. There is no holy war in Islam. All the wars are unholy.”

He said the Quran, instead, talks about tolerance, peace and understanding. He cited portions in Quran where prophets have been referred to as talking to “their brothers” from non-Muslim communities.

The Egyptian imam said those who introduce Islam to others need to understand their culture and speak their language. They also need to know the good books and quotes to use while introducing Islam.

Fouda shared his own experience of finding it difficult to talk to the Maori aboriginals and the Catholics in New Zealand during his initial days in the country. “I had to learn things first.”

He called on religious leaders to stand up and act for peace. “In fact, religions can bring peace if we find the correct representatives of religions.”

Peace education

He also called for the need to start peace education in schools to bridge gaps between communities.

“We need to start talking about peace education. I would like to see primary schools having peace education subject and books.”

“We need to start teaching this to our children right from their very young age so that they can accept other people…We need to foster the education for tolerance from childhood.”

He urged the Muslims and non-Muslims to interact and understand each other better and do community service together.

Attacker brainwashed

Recalling the horror of the massacre briefly, he described the gunman who attacked the mosques as a person “brainwashed by irresponsible media who cause problems and political leaders inciting hatred.”

Speaking to Gulf News after the session, he said the Muslim community stood together along with the leadership and people of New Zealand because of the way the latter had fostered the relationships, the values of justice and equality and welfare of the community.

“What New Zealand has set is a role model of tolerance and understanding for the world. The Muslim leaders there also share the same role model. We are together against terrorism that is the reason we came together and we didn’t create hatred or divide us.”

Support for victims’ families

He hailed the new laws to control the use of guns and other measures to improve security after the Christchurch mosque shootings that claimed 51 lives.

The financial and medical support and community support have helped the victims’ families to be back on their feet.

“But spiritually, people still need a lot of support because the money and all other things will never bring those loved ones back and compensate them. The country as a whole is standing together and trying to figure out how they can solve this in the future,” he said.



Islamic finance assets to hit $3.4 trln by 2024 driven by Saudi Arabia, Malaysia growth: report


Islamic finance assets are expected to reach $3.4 trillion in 2024 from $2.5 trillion in 2018, supported by growth in Saudi Arabia and Malaysia, according to a report issued by the Dubai Islamic Economy Development Centre.

The State of the Global Islamic Economy Report 2019/20, produced by US-based DinarStandard, estimated also consumer spending in Islamic economies to touch $3.2 trillion by 2024, rising at a cumulative annual growth rate of 6.2%.

Muslims spent $2.2 trillion last year across food, pharmaceutical and lifestyle sectors, the report added.

Separately, Islamic economy investment activity touched $1.2 billion last year, surging 399% compared to 2017.

Almost 54% of these investments were recorded within the halal products category, while Islamic finance and Islamic lifestyle attracted 42% and 4% of the investments respectively. 

On the global Islamic economy indicator, comprising 73 countries, Malaysia, the UAE, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia continued to lead the ranking, the report said.



Tory official resigns from party after 'Muslim man quizzed over religion'

15 NOV 2019

ByTom Davidson

A Tory official has quit the party after he witnessed what he said was Islamophobia among members.

Kyle Pedley resigned as a local party officer and Tory council candidate in Stourbridge after saying he had witnessed a Muslim member face a grilling over his religious practices.

He told the BBC he had been present during an interview when the man - who was seeking to be selected as a Tory council candidate - was asked how many times a day he prayed and how often he went to the mosque.

Local Tory officers then discussed between themselves whether "we need an Asian", he said.

Mr Pedley said he had complained twice to the Conservative Party about the incident but had received no response.

A pledge for an independent inquiry into Islamophobia have been kicked into the long grass by Boris Johnson , who once compared Muslim women wearing a niqab to letterboxes.

Explaining why he had decided to leave the party, Mr Pedley told the BBC : "In my first meeting as an officer, a selection meeting, we interviewed a candidate.

"He put forward a very compelling case, he spoke about his conservative principles, his background, his experience in the ward he was going for as a council candidate.

"As soon as his two-minute pitch ended he was faced with a barrage of questioning which was factored around one thing and one thing alone, and that was his religion and his race. It was, 'Are you really a Muslim? Do you pray five times a day? How many times do you go to the mosque? How many times a year do you go to the mosque? How many Muslims do you even think there are in the ward?"

He added: "I just sat there aghast - completely aghast. Immediately as he went out of the room the first topic of conversation was not about his merit, was not about his suitability for the role - it was essentially along the lines of 'Do we need an Asian? Will the Asians even come out and vote?'. That's almost ad verbatim the discussion that followed when the candidate went out the room."

Harun Khan, Secretary General of the the Muslim Council of Britain, said: “The barrage of questioning the prospective candidate faced solely due to their Muslimness is unacceptable.

"The local party must be suspended immediately whilst an investigation takes place.

“This is yet another example demonstrating how the Conservative Party has proven itself to be fertile breeding ground for Islamophobia.

"What more needs to happen for the party to acknowledge the problem?



Electoral reforms should encourage real issues, not race and religion

P Ramasamy -November 14, 2019

I am glad that the Election Reform Committee (ERC) is seriously looking into ways of configuring the present electoral system, described as the first-past-the-post system or FPTP where a candidate wins on the basis of majority votes.

However, in the electoral system in Malaysia that is heavily weighed with ethnic and religious issues, electoral competition has come to be based not on policy matters.

Over the years, this system was reinforced by delimitation exercises that further strengthened the FPTP system.

I am not sure whether we can intelligently copy the mixed member proportional system (MMP) of countries like Germany or New Zealand. There is nothing wrong with learning from the electoral systems of these countries.

Political cultures have an impact on electoral systems.

Historical evolution of the political culture leading to the adoption of an electoral system might not be something that can be easily copied or emulated in our excitement to go beyond a particular system.

Yes, primacy given to ethnic and religious issues in electoral campaigns and competitions is not something beneficial to the nation.

There is a dire necessity to move beyond these issues and to embrace critical matters important to all communities.

Whatever reforms we need to bring to the electoral system must be based on the country’s unique history and experience.

This would be the most difficult part, not copying the system of another country.

There is no such thing as supplanting one electoral system with another. This might not be even possible as there are high stakes in the present electoral system.

Both the ruling coalition and the opposition, having tasted the success of the system, might want the FPTP to continue.

Again, the electoral systems in Germany and New Zealand might not have been instituted to address racial or religious issues in the first place.

The system in place might be more favourable for discussions of policy matters rather than matters of ethnicity or religion.

The reform of the electoral system is one way of moving beyond the confines of ethnicity and religion.

It would be epistemologically wrong to think that electoral reform is the only way out of the present imbroglio.

There must be a more comprehensive analysis with the participation of all stakeholders to deal with the problem of racial and religious polarisation that has continued unabated over the last few decades.

The electoral system is a powerful manifestation of this racial and religious polarisation.

The ERC must continue to hold discussions on reforms by encouraging the participation of larger groups of stakeholders.

P Ramasamy is the deputy chief minister II of Penang.



Pompeo presses European countries to take detained Islamic State fighters

By: Matthew Lee

WASHINGTON — European and other members of the international coalition fighting the Islamic State group must take back and prosecute their nationals detained in Iraq and Syria to help keep ISIS from regaining territory, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Thursday.

Pompeo told foreign ministers and senior officials from some 30 coalition members that it’s imperative that they hold thousands of detained foreign fighters accountable for atrocities committed while the Islamic State held swaths of territory in the two countries. Many of the detained foreign fighters are from Europe, but countries have been reluctant to take them back and officials acknowledged there are still differences of opinion among coalition partners about how best to deal with them.

The meeting came amid concerns about the U.S. commitment to the fight against ISIS remnants. Those concerns have increased as President Donald Trump has pressed to withdraw American troops from Syria. It was also the first meeting at such a senior level since ISIs was driven from the last of its major strongholds in March and the first since the group’s leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, killed himself during a U.S. raid last month.

Pompeo said bringing the foreign fighters to justice in their home countries is critical to preventing ISIS from resurrecting its caliphate and exporting its ideology.

“That work begins with carrying out justice against those who deserve it,” he said. “Coalition members must take back the thousands of foreign terrorist fighters in custody and impose accountability for the atrocities they have perpetrated.”

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said coalition members need “more coordinated efforts” to resolve the issue of foreign fighters and must also train more local forces to prevent a resurgence of the Islamic State. “If you can enable local forces to fight terrorism themselves, to stabilize the country, ... that's in the long run the best way to also fight terrorism,” he said in an Associated Press interview after the meeting.

Nathan Sales, the director of the State Department’s counterterrorism bureau, said the U.S. rejected suggestions such as asking countries in the region to accept them or establishing an international tribunal to try them.

“Each country has a responsibility to handle this situation on their own,” he said. “Our view is that it’s not a viable option to ask other countries in the region to import another country’s foreign fighter and pursue prosecution and incarceration there.”

Pompeo also dismissed concerns about America’s commitment and said the U.S. would continue to lead the coalition. He noted that U.S. forces had killed Baghdadi and his deputy.

“Ask them if there’s a deficit of American leadership in fighting ISIS,” he said, referring to the militant group by one of its other names and pointing out that the U.S. still has forces in Syria despite the recent Turkish invasion.

Those troops, he said, will allow the U.S. to retain the ability to launch airstrikes on ISIS targets and protect oil fields that the militants had once used to bring in significant revenue.

Pompeo also urged coalition participants to step up funding for U.N. relief and reconstruction projects in Iraq and Syria to allow for the return of millions of civilians displaced by years of conflict.

As the effort in Iraq and Syria goes on, Pompeo said it will also be critical to keep ISIS from expanding its reach to other areas, notably the Sahel region in west Africa where he said the group ``is outpacing the ability of regional governments and international partners to address the threat.”

“The fight against ISIS is a long-term test of will, a test of civilization against barbarism,” he said. “We know where we stand. Let’s work together to make sure our enemy does too.”



I tried my best to mend ties with India: PM Imran

Muhammad Saleh Zaafir

November 15, 2019

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan has said Pakistan has learnt a lesson in the last four decades that “we must not ally ourselves with any country where we have to fight someone else’s war”.

Addressing an international conference Margalla Dialogue 19 organised by the Islamabad Policy Research Institute (IPRI) here on Thursday, he reminded that Pakistan suffered a lot due to its policy of becoming part of foreign conflicts in the past, vowing that the country “from now onwards will only play a conciliatory role between rival nations”. The prime minister said: “Initially, in the past, our governments thought that they would gain by becoming a frontline state for some powerful country. We gained something in the shape of foreign aid but in the end, if we analyse, we lost more than what we gained.”

He said many of the problems the country has been facing today are the results of the flawed decisions made during 1980s and 1990s. Referring to the Kashmir conflict, the prime minister said that after coming into power, he tried his best to mend ties with India as both the countries are facing same grave challenges of climate change and poverty. “India is in the grip of extremist ideology and their ideology is based on hatred and racial superiority, which is similar to the ideology of the Nazi party in Germany,” he said, adding that when the Nazi party came into power in Germany, no one had the idea where it was heading to and “today India is facing a similar situation”. He warned if the international community does not intervene in the Kashmir conflict, “there will be catastrophe as the two nuclear armed countries have come face-to-face”.

He said that on August 5, India stripped OccupieKashmir of the special autonomy it had for seven decades through a rushed presidential order. By repealing Article 370 of the constitution, people from the rest of India will now have the right to acquire property in the disputed territory and settle there permanently. Kashmiris see the move as an attempt to dilute the demographics of Muslim-majority Kashmir with Hindu settlers. Pakistan had strongly condemned the move and vowed to “exercise all possible options to counter the illegal steps” taken by New Delhi. He urged the world community to step in to avoid any serious situation in South Asia as Modi regime in India is pursuing an ideology of hate in the region. India is committing atrocities against the people of Kashmir in Indian-held Kashmir. He said millions of people have been under siege in Occupied Kashmir for over one hundred days. He said there is complete communication blockade in the valley and youths are being picked by Indian troops.

Regarding Afghanistan, the prime minister said peace in that country is beneficial not only to Pakistan but for the whole region, especially the landlocked Central Asian Republics. He said Pakistan is plying its role for peace in Afghanistan as there is no military solution to this issue and it should be resolved politically. He mentioned that Pakistan is also making efforts to ensure that there is no conflict in the region for which it is also reaching out to Iranian and Saudi leadership for forging tranquility among the brotherly Muslim countries.

The prime minister said: “Besides making efforts to ensure peace in the region, we are also opening up our country for investors, tourists, and other activities.”

Meanwhile, in a meeting with DS Jaspal, a writer and researcher hailing from India, Imran khan said opening of the Kartarpur Corridor is in line with Islamic principles, Pakistan's policy of promoting inter-faith harmony and Quaid-i-Azam’s vision of a peaceful neighborhood.

DS Jaspal is a former civil servant and has authored a book “Tryst with Trees”, documenting historical Gurdawaras named after trees. Many of these Gurdwaras are located in Pakistan and are named after indigenous trees. Jaspal is visiting Pakistan in connection with the 550th birth anniversary of Baba Guru Nanak.

The prime minister said the historic initiative to open the Kartarpur Corridor on the auspicious occasion of the 550th birth anniversary of Baba Guru Nanak was to meet the longstanding request of Nanak NaamLevas and especially the Sikh community across the world, particularly from India.

Jaspal thanked the prime minister for the historic Kartarpur initiative and the warm hospitality extended by Pakistan to all Sikh pilgrims.

Chairing another meeting to review progress on PSDP here, the prime minister stressed the need for ensuring optimal and timely utilization of funds allocated by the federal government under the Public Sector Development Programme. He directed close coordination among ministries executing development projects to ensure jobs for youths. He said policies need to be harmonized to yield desired results. He directed that focus should be on those ministries which are executing development projects as this would facilitate job creation and counter unemployment. He said economic development would ensure better opportunities for the youth.



Shiv Sena says it doesn't oppose 5% reservation for Muslims

15 Nov 2019

Shalini Ojha

After splitting ways with BJP, Shiv Sena is now working day in and out to form a government with unlikely allies, NCP and Congress in Maharashtra, the state which is currently under President's Rule.

On Thursday, Sena attended the first joint meeting of NCP-Congress convened to discuss a common minimum program (CMP).

The CMP holds the key for the Sena-Congress-NCP government in Maharashtra.

The results for Maharashtra elections were announced on October 24, after which BJP and Sena split, despite fighting polls together.

Sena wanted a rotational CM arrangement, but BJP didn't. After days of talks didn't yield results, BJP stayed away from government formation.

Meanwhile, Uddhav Thackeray-led party explored its options, and proving that nothing is impossible in politics, extended a hand to Congress-NCP.

Yesterday's meeting was attended by Eknath Shinde, Sena's legislative party leader. Later, he said, "A draft of the CMP had been readied, which will be shared with the leadership of the three parties."

Reportedly, Sena promised NCP and Congress that it wasn't averse to the idea of giving a 5 percent reservation to Muslims in education.

This scheme was NCP-Congress' brainchild, but Sena-BJP dumped it.

Another topic that came up for discussion was Sena's demand for giving Bharat Ratna to Veer Savarkar, a personality who has regularly been slammed by Congress.

The CMP also includes key pre-poll promises from both manifestos like farm loan waiver, Rs. 10 meal outlets, per month allowance for unemployed youth, and having job quota for locals in new industries.

Now that Sena has held discussions with NCP and Congress, it's up to them to make a decision.

NCP chief Sharad Pawar will come to Delhi on November 17-18 to discuss the way forward. Interestingly, Sena observes November 17 as Smriti Din to mark Balasaheb Thackeray's death anniversary.

To recall, both Sena and NCP were invited to form the government, but in vain.

Sena's meeting with NCP-Congress came after BJP's Amit Shah said the former would not get sympathy from people if that's what it's looking for.

"Before elections, both Prime Minister (Narendra Modi) and I said many times in public that if our alliance wins, Devendra Fadnavis will be the chief minister," he said and asked why were objections not raised earlier.



Gaza truce shaky as Islamic Jihad and Israel disagree on terms


Palestinian militant group Islamic Jihad and Israel declared a halt to hostilities across the Gaza Strip border on Thursday but a lasting ceasefire appeared tenuous as they differed on terms.

Islamic Jihad said an Egyptian-mediated truce went into effect at 0330 GMT, about 48 hours after Israel triggered the exchange of fire by killing the Iranian-backed faction's top Gaza commander in an air strike, deeming him an imminent threat.

Occasional rocket fire from Gaza and a retaliatory Israeli air strike broke the calm, but the ceasefire largely held.

Gaza medical officials have put the death toll from the two days of fighting at 34 Palestinians, almost half of them civilians and including eight children and three women.

Hundreds of rocket launches by militants had paralysed much of southern Israel and reached as far north as Tel Aviv, sending entire communities to shelters. Dozens of Israelis were hurt.

Hamas, Gaza's dominant faction, appeared to have stayed out of this round of fighting. That may have helped stem escalation.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the military operation was drawing to a conclusion with its goals met. "Our enemies got the message - we can reach anyone," Netanyahu said, as he visited soldiers at a missile interception battery.

Islamic Jihad said Israel had accepted its demand to stop both the targeted killing of militants and sometimes lethal army gunfire at weekly Palestinian protests on the Gaza border.

"The ceasefire began under Egyptian sponsorship after the Occupation (Israel) submitted to the conditions set by Islamic Jihad on behalf of Palestinian resistance factions," Islamic Jihad spokesman Musab Al-Braim said.

But Israel said it would observe only a limited quid pro quo. "Quiet will be answered with quiet," Foreign Minister Israel Katz told Army Radio.

Missile Strike

In the deadliest incident of the two-day hostilities, eight members of a Gaza family were killed by an Israeli missile strike shortly before the truce took hold, said medical officials and residents.

They said all were civilians. But Israeli military spokesman Lieutenant-Colonel Avichay Adraee said the head of the family, Rasmi Abu Malhous, who was among the dead, was the commander of Islamic Jihad rocket crews in the central Gaza Strip.

Neighbours left their homes to help rescue workers pull out the bodies of the family, some of which were completely buried in sandy earth. Civilians tried to test the pulse of one body before pulling it out.

Israel's allegation about Rasmi Abu Malhous could not immediately be confirmed by Reuters. Islamic Jihad did not claim him as a member.

Neither the hostilities nor efforts to halt them shifted the dynamics of the underlying core conflict.

While Hamas has been open to long-term truces, it refuses, like Islamic Jihad, to accept permanent co-existence with Israel.

Gazans are seeking to end years of an Israeli-led blockade. Refugees from the 1948 war of Israel's founding and their descendents make up most of the 2 million Palestinians in Gaza and want the right to return to their families' former lands.

Israel rejects that as demographic suicide and sees no means of making peace as long as Hamas and Islamic Jihad are armed.

Katz said there would be no change to Israeli military policy in Gaza, contradicting the assertion of Islamic Jihad.

Targeted killings "will not cease", he said, and "the open-fire policy for which the Israel Defence Forces is responsible (at the Gaza border) will not change".

Markets in Gaza reopened as life returned to normal, although people expressed mixed feelings about the truce.

"We responded and made clear our blood was not shed in vain. Also a truce is good because we don't want our people to suffer more under the blockade," said one resident, Mohammad Al-Smairi.

U.N. mediator Nickolay Mladenov said the Gaza situation remained fragile, tweeting: "All must show maximum restraint and do their part to prevent bloodshed. The Middle East does not need more wars."



‘I don’t want to go back to Libya,’ plead migrants trying to flee


Libyan coastguards are responding to an alert from Malta and Italy asking them to intercept a Europe-bound boat in the Mediterranean Sea. The migrants, 126 adults and children, are crammed on a single raft. They have no food, water or life-jackets and they're desperate to make it to Europe, no matter the risk.

At first they believe the Libyan coastguard vessel is an NGO rescue boat. But when they realise they are being taken back to Libya, there are heartbreaking scenes on board the ship.

“I don’t want to go back to Libya! Please, I don’t want to return to Libya!” sobs Mona, clutching her head in distress.

Hundreds of thousands of migrants are trying to get to Europe from the North African country, but many are intercepted and forced to return.

Human rights groups have denounced their treatment and the legality of forcing them to return to Libya.

Embedded with the Libyan coastguard, FRANCE 24’s reporters managed to film officials and police cramming migrants into buses to send them to overcrowded detention centres,

Migrants are so distraught at the prospect of being returned to the Libyan capital, Tripoli they sometimes throw themselves back into the water to try to escape.

There are thousand migrants in Libya’s centres, according to the UN, but the real figure is believed to be much higher.



Arab World


Misk Initiatives Centre signs 12 deals to develop youth talent

15 November 2019

RIYADH: The Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s Foundation Misk Initiatives Center has signed 12 memorandums of understanding (MoU) on the sidelines of the Misk Global Forum in Riyadh with local and international companies to support and develop youth talent.

Among the companies were the Chinese tech giant Huawei, the French oil firm Total, the Emirati Federal Youth Authority, and the Ministry of Economy and Planning.

The agreements stipulated joint work between the two parties in the fields of talent development in Saudi Arabia and information and communications technology, in accordance with the National Transformation Program 2020 and the Kingdom’s Vision 2030.

This initiative aims to find ways of cooperation and employment opportunities between the two parties.

The MoU signed between the center and the Emirati Federal Youth Authority provides for the enhancement of joint cooperation in support of youth.

The two parties will seek to discuss future cooperation, to build a strategic partnership between the two parties in exploring potential cooperative opportunities and setting a framework for such cooperation, in addition to organizing the exchange of technologies and innovations through the joint organization of courses, forums and workshops.

The MoU aims at creating a specialized scientific dialogue between the two parties, conducting joint research at the institutes in the field of entrepreneurship and the skills of the future, considering launching joint initiatives, and examining the possibilities of cooperative programs based on the extensive experience of Misk and the Federal Youth Authority.

Misk’s Initiatives Center agreement with Total will promote joint cooperation, find training opportunities for Saudi talent at the company’s headquarters and facilities, and cooperate on educational programs that support entrepreneurship and an ecosystem for startup companies, especially in the fields of energy and technology.

The Misk Global Forum also witnessed the signing of a MoU with “Hub71” to promote learning and leadership among Saudi youth, and enhance opportunities for joint collaboration, in addition to two MoUs with 500 startups and seed stars “to promote joint cooperation between the two parties, to develop and grow the business of startups and provide them with the necessary


Misk also signed a MoU with the Public Institution for Education and Global Leadership to promote joint cooperation and achieve the objectives of both sides, to support innovation initiatives that instill the entrepreneurial mindset of young people, as well as the establishment and organization of entrepreneurship approaches.

Both parties agreed to focus on exploring potential collaborative opportunities related to the Entrepreneurship World Cup, and establish a competition with competitors coming from 170 countries.

Both parties also agreed to support international competitions aimed at identifying the best solutions in various fields and sectors, as well as exchanging programs on entrepreneurship and innovation.

The center has signed a MoU with the Saudi Industrial Development Fund to discuss the possibility of providing training programs and courses for the center’s employees of the Fund and the relevant authorities. In addition to discussing available opportunities for cooperative training within the Fund, and providing opportunities for participation and contribution of the Fund’s staff in Misk’s programs.

The MoU aims to explore the benefits of existing agreements between the two parties with international financial and educational institutions, in order to find opportunities that provide programs, training and educational courses, and granting cooperative trainings for Saudi youth in those global institutions.

The center also signed a MoU with the Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (ISESCO), aiming to enhance joint cooperation on educational technology and its integration into the educational systems in the Islamic world.

An MoU with King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) will enhance the cooperation between the two parties in several initiatives, including academic development, training, entrepreneurship and innovation programs.

An MoU with Endeavor Saudi Arabia will support the Kingdom’s youth, enhance their talents and potential, stimulate economic growth, and find ways of cooperation between the two parties that serve their common interests.

The center’s MoU with the Ministry of Economy and Planning aims to spread awareness, provide new information on the education and training of human resources in the administrative and economic fields, youth empowerment, and coordinate efforts to raise their abilities.

The MoU aims to create cooperative training opportunities in local and international institutions with the purpose of workforce growth in the Kingdom’s economic sector, contributing to the development of national competencies in the economy, policies and procedures, strategic planning, in addition to providing job opportunities for graduates from areas that serve the interests of both parties and support the achievement of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030.



Return of ‘Captain Majid’ announced at Anime Expo in Riyadh

November 15, 2019

RIYADH: The Anime Expo in Riyadh —  part of Riyadh Season — already had regional fans excited, being the largest such event to be held so far in the Middle East. But even better news emerged at Thursday’s press conference to launch the event.

Saudi Arabia and Japan have signed an agreement to bring “Captain Tsubasa,” created by Yoichi Takahashi, back to the small screen. The cartoon, known as “Captain Majid” in the Arab world, is an old-school favorite in the Middle East. The anime is expected to air on Dec. 1 on MBC, the CEO of Saudi Arabia’s General Entertainment Authority, Faisal Bafarat, announced.

Riyadh Season is holding the largest Anime Expo in the Middle East, bringing together collaborations between GEA and Captain Tsubasa creator, Yoichi Takahashi, musical collaborations between both Arab and Japanese giants, and more.

Japan’s Ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Tsukasa Uemura, told Arab News: “It’s amazing to see good energy among the young people, ladies and gentlemen of Saudi Arabia.” Uemura was struck by how deep the relationship between Japan and Saudi Arabia was, thanks to anime from the 60s and 70s.

“This relation is now coming to fruition, and I hope that the young Saudi generation won’t only observe but also create, from now, starting a new industry in Saudi Arabia — I see a lot of potential here.”

Arab News met three musical acts who will perform together for the first time on Saturday at the event’s closing ceremony: Lebanese singer Sammy Clark, who performed Arabic versions of anime favorites including “Grendizer” and “Treasure Island” (Takarajima), and Japanese voice actors and singers Isao Sasaki and Ichiro Mizuki.

Clark was excited to meet the two men he dubbed his “twin brothers,” — the original voices behind the animations he has worked on. “I’m honored to be here with them,” he said. “I only traveled to Japan once, in 1987. It’s a beautiful country and their people are some of the kindest in the world.”

Clark explained that he and Sasaki were supposed to sing together at Comic Con in Dubai five years ago, “but it didn’t work out.”

“Today, I’m ecstatic to say that I won’t sing with Sasaki alone but also with Ichiro Mizuki, who sings the original opening song for ‘Mazinger.’ We’ll be performing five songs for fans, and one of the surprises we’ve prepared is that I’ll sing something in Japanese and they’ll sing in Arabic,” Clark said.

He added that he never imagined the theme songs would be so successful and resonate with people for so long. “Generations of fathers have played these songs to their kids, and they all enjoy it so much. We’ve managed to touch thousands through an anime song,” he said.

Mizuki told Arab News that his first time in Saudi Arabia has been amazing so far. “Being in the industry for 50 years, I’ve traveled all over the world, but I consider my first performance in Saudi Arabia to be a big deal, especially as an officially orchestrated event. I feel honored to be here,” he said.

Sasaki echoed his words: “Being a first generation anime singer, I’m not getting any younger, but I didn’t want to miss an opportunity to perform here in Saudi Arabia,” he said.



Riyadh forum paves way for ‘smart factories’

November 15, 2019

RIYADH: The changing face of industry and manufacturing will come under the spotlight at a “Future Factory” show organized by the Saudi Authority for Industrial Cities and Technology Zones in Riyadh.

About 19 local, regional and international groups will share their ideas for “smart factories” during the conference on Nov. 18. Technology leaders will also deliver their predictions on the future of the industry in the Kingdom.

As part of its strategy to strengthen industry and increase content in line with Vision 2030, the industry authority recently launched a national productivity program to help factories maximize productivity rates.

New technologies will be adopted in 100 factories as a model for manufacturers as part of the program.

Bandar Al-Toaimi, the authority’s marketing and corporate communications director, said that the detailed study to prepare 100 factories for a switch to Industry 4.0 Revolution applications will be implemented with the organization’s technical partners, including 20 factories in cooperation with General Electric and 80 factories to be launched later.

Subjects to be discussed at the conference include the creation of “smart factories” and making an industrial vision a reality.



6 Saudi teams scale heights as Canadians win Entrepreneurship World Cup

November 15, 2019

RIYADH: Canadian firm NERv Technology Inc. emerged victorious at the Entrepreneurship World Cup (EWC) at the Misk Global Forum (MGF) 2019 in Riyadh on Thursday, with Saudi startup Red Sea Farms coming third.

NERv Technology Inc. was handed a $500,000 prize and the winning trophy, while second-ranked team Koniku Inc. from the US won $250,000.

Red Sea Farms received $150,000, and fourth and fifth-ranked Sumato-ID (of Argentina) and SUN Mobility (India) were handed $50,000 each.

Speaking to Arab News, NERv Technology’s Amr Abdelgawad said: “It’s been a fantastic experience going through the event here over the past few days.

“We have been working really hard for almost five years to make sure we have a device that can actually have an impact on people’s lives and I think we are getting one step closer to that. 

“It was a great experience in terms of the people we met, the people we engaged with, being able to be in the same place with like-minded individuals who understand how difficult it is to start our own business. We helped each other and have great respect for all the finalists, the grand prize to us is just a small part of winning, to be in the final was great.”    

On coming to Riyadh to participate in the EWC, he said: “It was really nice being here, I was born and raised in Saudi Arabia, so it is great to come back and see this country the way it is right now, and it is absolutely fantastic to win the EWC here.”

Third-ranked team Red Sea Farms (Saudi Arabia) received a $150,000 cheque. (AN photo by Ziyad Al-Arfaj)

Mark Tester, CEO and founder of Red Sea Farms, told Arab News: “It is a fantastic feeling to come third, to be in this event is fantastic to be honest, I am really proud of representing Saudi Arabia.”

He commended the role played by the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) describing it as a “fabulous organization” to work with.

“This is real affirmation of our efforts to build companies and deliver research back to Saudi Arabia,” added Tester.

Speaking at the final ceremony of the MGF, Commerce and Investment Minister Dr. Majid Al-Qasabi praised the startups at the EWC finals and described the MGF as a “hope forum,” saying it provided a platform for making the Kingdom a land of opportunity.

Shaima Hamidaddin, executive manager of the MGF, thanked all the participants and EWC contestants for “really amazing sessions”.

She also gave a sneak peak of MGF 2020, saying it would be historically important because of the Kingdom hosting G20 Summit next year.

“The EWC global finalists represent the cream of international startup talent. We’re looking forward to seeing the entrepreneurs reach even greater heights thanks to the bootcamp ahead of the finals at the MGF. Our partnership with KAUST is part of our commitment to working with top international leaders in innovation, training, and development to achieve our global mission of empowering young people to thrive in the knowledge economy.”

Dr. Majid Al-Qasabi, commerce and investment minister, left, and Bader Al-Asaker, chairman of MISK initiative center, right, with coo and cofounder of Nerv Technology that emerged victorious at the entrepreneurship World cup under the Misk Global Forum 2019 in Riyadh on Nov. 14, 2019. (AN photo/Ziyad Al-Arfaj)

Red Sea Farms received thunderous applause from the audience as it placed third, with all the successful teams well-received.

Notably, of the 100 global finalists, six were from Saudi Arabia: Sadeem, Faheem, Cura, Dhad, Red Sea Farms and UnitX. All were founded by graduates of KAUST’s entrepreneurship programs.

The contest’s 10 semifinalists were: Bambrew (India), CiDi (China), Corumat Inc. (US), DRD Biotech (Russia), Koniku Inc. (US), NERv Technology Inc. (Canada), Red Sea Farms (Saudi Arabia), SUN Mobility (India), Sumato-ID (Argentina), and Tensortec (China).

Judges at the event included Kevin O’Leary, chairman of O’Shares Investments, Abdulrahman Tarabzouni, CEO and managing director of STV, Christine Tsai, CEO of 500 Startups and Aneel Ranadive, managing partner at Soma Capital.

Earlier over the course of the forum, the 100 startups drawn from national and regional finals around the world were whittled down to a final top 10.

KAUST hosted the EWC finalists between Nov. 8 and Nov. 11 at its entrepreneurship bootcamp in partnership with the MGF, at its campus in Thuwal near Jeddah.

The EWC is the world’s largest startup competition, with over 100,000 applicants.

Saudi Arabia presents an extraordinary opportunity for startups interested in accessing the MENA market and tapping into KAUST’s unique ecosystem, focused on finding solutions to the world’s most pressing challenges in food, water, energy and the environment.

The KAUST-Misk partnership aims to advance Saudi Arabia’s ambitious economic transformation goals by attracting cutting-edge, impactful startups and top entrepreneurial talent to the Kingdom.

The EWC was conducted by the MGF in partnership with the Global Entrepreneurship Network, alongside local and regional partners.





Germany: Don't panic over 'Islamic State' returnees' arrival

A family of seven German Islamists arrived in Berlin on Thursday after the Turkish Interior Ministry announced earlier this week that it would start deportations of captured "Islamic State" supporters.

There are no German arrest warrants for the family of German-Iraqi Kanan B., meaning they will be free to return to their homes in the central German state of Lower Saxony, though under police observation.

According to Turkish authorities, Kanan B. tried to travel to Syria with his family about a year ago, but it is not known if he arrived. The family, consisting of two parents, two adult children, plus three minors, had been in custody in the Turkish city of Izmir since March.

German authorities said they do not believe Kanan B.'s family ever joined Islamic State, but that he was part of the "Salafist spectrum," which means the family members are thought to observe a particularly conservative interpretation of Islam.

No need for panic

Armin Schuster, the interior policy spokesman for Angela Merkel's Christian Democratic Union (CDU), insisted that the German returnees were not "serious cases," and warned against media-fueled hysteria.

"They did not take part in the fighting," he told the Deutschlandfunk radio station. "They won't be sent to prison but they have to be kept under surveillance." He added that the cases would be thoroughly assessed and that such procedures were routine for German security forces. Schuster also rejected reports that the Turkish announcement caught German authorities by surprise and that Ankara did not provide adequate notice ahead of the deportations.

More problematic deportations coming

The other two Germans being returned by Turkey in the coming days are "a little more difficult," Schuster said. The two women are already under investigation in Germany and are to be picked up by authorities at the airport, questioned and searched. Prosecutors will then decide whether there is enough evidence to issue an arrest warrant.

German opposition parties have been critical of the government's failure to face the problem sooner. Stephan Thomae, deputy leader of the Free Democratic Party (FDP), acknowledged that Berlin had little choice but to accept German citizens deported by another country, but "the government kept its head in the sand for a long time, didn't want to have anything to do with these cases," he told DW. "That is coming back to bite them now. It would have been better if the government had made contact with Turkey much earlier to discuss such processes."

Some critics have argued that German prosecutors have little chance of bringing cases against IS members because of the difficulty proving their suspected roles in the war in Syria.

But lawyer Mahmut Erdem insisted that it was "not impossible" for convictions to be made. Erdem represents several families whose relatives have left the country in an attempt to join IS, and works to bring them back from prisons in Turkey or Syria.

"We have to be able to bring the victims of these perpetrators to Germany as witnesses before a proper court," he said. "Why aren't Yezidi women questioned as witnesses?" He also pointed out that Kurdish groups had offered to help find evidence against foreign IS fighters.

Ninety-five German suspected IS supporters are believed to be in custody in Turkey, Syria, or Iraq. German police have active investigations against 33 of them and arrest warrants have been issued in 26 cases, according to the dpa news agency.

Meanwhile, dozens of IS members have already faced court in Germany after voluntarily returning, and even those against whom there is no evidence of actual crimes are usually put under surveillance by state police or domestic intelligence agencies.

Thomas Mücke, founder and head of the Violence Prevention Network, said it is possible to deradicalize IS returnees, as it is with any extremists, and that his organization has visited several in prison. "We have had experiences with 36 IS returnees," he told DW. "With young people, we can do a lot."

He pointed out that his organization had successfully helped a 17-year-old who had been put into a suicide command unit. "Today he is 24 and living a completely normal life in Germany," Mücke said.

He added that it would have been better to bring more people back to Europe, rather than leaving them in Turkish or Syrian prisons, surrounded by other extremists.

"That would've been more organized than is the case now," he said.



Fire at Muslim centre in Haverhill was a 'deliberate act' done to 'put fear into people'

15 November 2019

An arson attack on a centre used as a place of prayer by Haverhill’s Muslim community has been condemned as a ‘hate crime’ and described as ‘unimaginable and ‘shocking’’

The vandalism at Bevan House, on the corner of Camps Road and Crowland Road, took place on Sunday night at about 11.45pm.

The building was broken into and a number of items, including Muslim books and prayer mats, were piled up in the middle of the ground floor prayer room and set on fire.

Two appliances from Haverhill attended the fire and used water jets to get in under control by 12.30pm.

The building was once used by the Red Cross and is owned by Haverhill Town Council. Since May it has been exclusively rented to the Haverhill Muslim Community Association, which uses it almost daily.

The association’s secretary, Yacouba Ibrahim, said the building was used by about 50 people, almost all of whom lived in Haverhill.

He said: “The damage is very extensive. The place can’t be used for maybe a week or the next two weeks. They’ve literally set the place on fire.

“We’ve got some Muslim books, some reading books, and then the prayer mats and they’ve put them in the centre of the room.

“They’ve set everything on fire. You can see the damage on the walls. It’s quite extensive.

“It did effect all the rooms, including the kitchen and the bathroom and there’s a toilet upstairs as well. It is deliberate. It’s a hate crime, there’s no doubt about that.

“If the motive is to steal, there is money but they didn’t touch it.

“They didn’t go into there to steal anything, they went into there to attack the community and put fear into people. It is shocking. We can’t make sense of why people would do that.

“It is going to cost a bit of money (to replace the fire damaged items) butI think the main thing that has been done is the actual effect on the community rather than the cost.

“We’ve been part of the town for 10 years and we have not experienced anything like this and for something like this to happen is unimaginable and it is shocking.”

A statement issued by Haverhill Town Council, said: “Haverhill Town Council strongly condemns the vandalism and damage at our property in Camps Road.

“Bevan House has been a valuable community space for a number of years that has been used as a young people’s training centre, band rehearsal room and a venue for community groups.

“It is currently used by the Haverhill Muslim Community Association.

“We are working with the association to assist them in finding alternative space to meet while repairs are made to Bevan House.”

The cost of the repairs to the building had yet to be established, said the town council.

Mr Ibrahim said the Muslim community was also victim to vandalism in July when one of the association’s members had a brick thrown through their car window while it was parked at Bevan House.

Anyone with any information about this incident is asked to phone the Safer Neighbourhood Team on101 and quote reference number 68250/19, go to o email:



German envoy voices concern over Indian atrocities in occupied Kashmir

November 14, 2019

LAHORE: The Ambassador of Germany in Pakistan Bernhard Schlagheck on Thursday expressed his concern over the human rights violation in Indian-occupied Kashmir.

Addressing a press conference at the Lahore Press Club, the envoy said that improvements need to be visible at the Line of Control while voicing his apprehensions regarding India’s atrocities on the people of the disputed territory.

He further commented on trade ties between Pakistan and Germany saying that while the figure stands at $3 billion, the volume should be much higher.

He further highlighted that since Pakistan’s population comprises 60 percent of youth, this can be a contributing factor in the country’s progress.

Moreover, he reiterated his support in enhancing the capacities of Pakistan’s youth.

He also expressed his displeasure on the Rs20 million tax imposed at Lahore’s Annemarie Schimmel Centre.



Southeast Asia


Thousands of Muslims pray for peace in Hong Kong

Thousand Muslims on Friday held a special prayer at Kowloon Mosque for return of peace to Hong Kong,

The faithfuls prayed for the city’s harmony, hoping people with different opinions will reconcile with one another.

The Incorporated Trustees of the Islamic Community Fund of Hong Kong said they held special prayer as they want the city to become calm again. It said around 4,000 people took part in the event.

The chairman of the group, Zoheir Tyebkhan said he hopes Allah would forgive the sins and grant their wish.

"Hong Kong has always been a very, very peaceful place and we would like it to continue that way," he said. "I think all of us living here want peace in Hong Kong."

A student – of Pakistani origin, but who was born here – who was among the group said he prayed for the safety of everyone, including protesters and policemen.

He said he hoped fighting between them will stop and Hong Kong will become a happy city again.



Philippines plans to allow banks to set up Islamic banking units

November 15, 2019


Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas is leaning toward allowing local lenders to set up Islamic banking subsidiaries, as it steps up efforts to promote Shariah-compliant finance in the country.

“The BSP is pushing for an open approach where conventional banks can operate Islamic banking windows or to establish subsidiary Islamic banks,” the central bank’s Deputy Governor Chuchi Fonacier told Bloomberg News via email.

The government passed a law in August to promote Islamic finance, which represents a small proportion of the banking industry even though about 10 per cent of the population is Muslim. The country has 45 universal and commercial bank groups, only one of which — the Al-Amanah Islamic Investment Bank of the Philippines — operates under Shariah principles.

The August law said local banks may be allowed to “engage in Islamic banking arrangements” but left it up to the central bank to work out the details. Operating fully fledged subsidiaries would allow lenders to offer a wider range of Shariah-compliant services than through a window, which remains part of the parent bank.— Agencies



Voters will decide if they are angry or not, Hisham tells Dr M

Mohamad Fadli -November 15, 2019

KUKUP: Former Umno vice-president Hishammuddin Hussein today responded to Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s call for voters in Tanjung Piai not to let their emotions get the better of them at the ballot box tomorrow, saying they will decide whether or not they are angry.

Speaking to reporters during a walkabout with Barisan Nasional (BN) candidate Wee Jeck Seng at a bus station here, the former defence minister said in the past, Pakatan Harapan (PH) had also antagonised the people against BN.

“What’s the difference with them before? Then, they would purposely play up (issues).

“I don’t deny maybe the BN government had our weaknesses and flaws. But when it is fanned, anger, hatred, and emotions determine the environment. Whether they are angry or not, only God knows.”

Mahathir, who is PH chairman, had advised voters to choose their elected representatives based on their ability to serve rather than their anger with the government.

Meanwhile, Hishammuddin voiced hope that outstation voters would return to vote in the by-election tomorrow.

He said the hard work the machinery had put into campaigning over the past two weeks would be meaningless if the people did not turn out to cast their ballots.

The Tanjung Piai by-election was triggered by the death of its incumbent, PPBM’s Dr Md Farid Md Rafik.

Tomorrow’s poll will see a six-cornered fight involving PH’s Karmaine Sardini, BN’s Wee, Wendy Subramaniam (Gerakan), Badhrulhisham Abdul Aziz (Berjasa) and two independents – Faridah Aryani Abd Ghaffar and Ang Chuan Lock.



2 teens charged with the murder of tahfiz student

FMT Reporters -November 15, 2019

TEMERLOH: Two teenagers aged 13 were charged with the murder of tahfiz student Mohammad Aimin Nurul Amin last week, in closed-door proceedings at the Magistrate’s Court here.

They were charged under Section 302 of the Penal Code which carries the mandatory death sentence.

They were accused of causing the death of Aimin, seven, between 11.30am and 1.30pm on Nov 7 at the Maahad Tahfiz Nahdah Syubban Addiniyah centre in Kampung Kuala Kaung, Lanchang, Temerloh.

The duo, who were not represented, nodded as the charges were read before magistrate Ti Pei Si. The court set Dec 19 for case mention.



Cracks appear in MTUC as Johor chapter slams Sarawak

FMT Reporters -November 15, 2019 12:05 PM

PETALING JAYA: Cracks have begun to appear in the Malaysian Trades Union Congress (MTUC), with the Johor secretary hitting out at his Sarawak counterpart today over the latter’s criticism of the group’s top leadership.

Sarawak MTUC secretary Andrew Lo had accused MTUC president Abdul Halim Mansor and secretary-general J Solomon of imposing their views on members and demanding a consensus before amendments to labour laws are enacted.

This followed the war of words between MTUC and the human resources ministry over amendments to the Industrial Relations Act (IRA) 1967, Employment Act 1955 and Trade Unions Act 1959.

The labour law reforms are being carried out through tripartite consultations involving MTUC, the Malaysian Employers Federation and ministry officials.

Lo said in an interview with Sarawak-based portal DayakDaily that Halim and Solomon, who disagree with the IRA amendments, should lobby the government for improvements instead of totally rejecting them.

In a statement today, Johor MTUC secretary Boscko Augustin urged Lo to accept the decision of the majority.

“We are not running a Sendirian Berhad union,” he added. “Let us remind him that we are running a national labour centre.”

Augustin said MTUC had clarified its stand to all its affiliates who were aware of the damage caused by the IRA amendments. He added that they backed Halim and Solomon in the matter.

“Using the media to defame the leadership of MTUC and to promote his (Lo’s) agenda which was rejected by all the participants of the various labour law reform (LLR) workshops is not the way forward.

“Lo should respect the wishes and confidence of the delegates who elected Halim and Solomon as they are democratically elected because they are capable leaders,” he said.



No state convention till you put your house in order, Sarawak PKR tells top dogs

FMT Reporters -November 15, 2019

PETALING JAYA: Sarawak PKR is cancelling its convention on Nov 23, saying the party’s national-level leadership must first put its house in order in the wake of infightings over who should officiate the PKR Youth congress next month.

Top party leaders including elected representatives said it was disappointed with the move to replace deputy president Mohamed Azmin Ali with Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, saying the decision was unilateral and against party traditions.

“It has been a longstanding tradition and convention of all political parties worldwide to have the deputy president officiate the conventions of the various wings of the parties and PKR has followed in this venerable tradition since its inception,” read a statement signed by Sarawak PKR chief Baru Bian and seven senior leaders.

It was reported that PKR Youth chief Akmal Nasir had rescinded an invitation to Azmin Ali to officiate the wing’s congress.

Azmin later labelled Akmal a “weak leader”, saying there was an attempt to gag him.

Sarawak PKR said the decision “by a handful of leaders” showed disrespect to PKR members.

“Democracy within the party is now under serious threat and is being blatantly disregarded,” it added.

“As responsible leaders, this crisis must be arrested now before it leads to the total fragmentation of the party which we have struggled to put together in the name of democracy and justice.”



Drop in prices of goods not true in Buy Muslim First campaign

The Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Ministry has rubbished claims that the Buy Muslim First (BMF) campaign had reduced the prices of goods.

Its secretary-general Datuk Muez Abd Aziz said such claims were unfounded because the prices of goods were dictated by offers from manufacturers, suppliers and retailers.

He said this when commenting on a statement by PAS MP for Tumpat, Che Abdullah Mat Nawi, who reportedly said that the BMF campaign had drastically reduced the prices of goods.

Muez said manufacturers, suppliers and retailers offered discounts according to certain periods at supermarkets or business premises, thus bringing down the prices of goods.

"It also depends on the initiatives and sales campaigns conducted by retailers who are competing among themselves to attract the attention of consumers,” he told Bernama today.

Muez said the ministry had no plans to change the Buy Malaysian-Made Products campaign, which was launched in 1984, to accommodate the so-called BMF.

He described the BMF campaign as just a general call, adding that the ministry considers the promotion of local products as more important and a better way to get good bargains.

"Even if there is (BMF), it is already in the Buy Malaysian-Made Products campaign. We are working hard to promote the Buy Malaysian-Made Products campaign.

"We are sticking to this. It is more important to promote local products," he said.

According to him, the Buy Malaysian-Made Products campaign could save consumers up to 20 per cent when shopping for necessities.

He said house brand products, which are far cheaper than other brands, would be preferred by consumers and this would boost support for Malaysian-made products.



Indonesia’s Islamic finance rank rises

November 15, 2019


Indonesia’s Islamic finance rank has improved exponentially this year, but challenges remain to further develop the sharia economy. Based on the 2019 Islamic Finance Development Indicator launched on Tuesday by the Islamic Corporation for the Development of the Private Sector (ICD) and financial market data provider Refinitiv, Indonesia’s ranking jumped six steps to fourth from 10th place in 2018 after Malaysia, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates.—Agencies



North America


US lawmakers seek probe into terror finance links between two prominent Muslim groups and LeT

Nov 15, 2019

WASHINGTON: Three American lawmakers have asked the US State Department to investigate possible terror financing links between two prominent American Muslim organisations and terrorist groups like Lashkar-a-Taiba and Hizbul Mujahideen.

The three Congressmen - Jim Banks, Chuck Fleischmann and Randy Weber - in a letter to the State Department Coordinator for Counter Terrorism Nathan Sales, said, "Specifically of concern are the innocuous sounding organisation, Helping Hands for Relief and Development (HHRD) and their sister organisation, the Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA)."

While these groups sell themselves as "innocuous" Muslim civic society organisations, they are, in fact, arms of one of the most radical networks in the world, said the three Congressmen.

They said that there was no doubt that the ICNA and HHRD are part of Jamaat-e-Islami's international network.

Indeed, the evidence is overwhelming and extensive, they asserted in the letter dated November 1.

Referring to a series of documentary evidences in support of their statement, the three US Congressmen said that they believe the documented facts would give a reasonable person good reason to investigate just how extensive and systemic these ties are.

"The nexus of charitable networks and terrorist groups is well known and pernicious. This is particularly important to investigate, as the ICNA has received over ten million dollars in government grants, even from the current Administration," they said.

"The ongoing tension and violence in Kashmir is a threat to peace and stability for both India and Pakistan. It is clearly in the best interests of the US to keep peace in the region and not fan the flames of war. It is thus vital that the US do whatever it can to stop the flow of any and all funds that we can to terrorist organisations operating in the region," they wrote.

"Thus, we ask that you use the full powers of your office to further investigate the potential terror finance links between groups like the ICNA and HHRD, and US and UN Security Council designated terrorist groups like Lashkar-e-Taiba and Hizbul Mujahideen," the three lawmakers said in their letter to Sales.



Was Founder Of White Helmets Killed By Islamic State?

November 15, 2019

The founder of the White Helmets, James Le Mesurier, was found dead on November 11 in suspicious circumstances after falling off a two-story apartment building in downtown Istanbul. He was a former British army veteran and a private security contractor from 2008 to 2012 working for Good Harbor [1], run by Richard Clarke, the former Bush administration counter-terrorism czar.

Much like Erik Prince of the Blackwater fame, Le Mesurier’s work included training several thousand mercenaries for the United Arab Emirates (UAE) oil and gas field protection force, and designing security infrastructure for the police state of Abu Dhabi.

Although the police in Istanbul are treating the incident as suicide, it’s obvious that a person of his background and training would never attempt suicide by jumping off a two-story building. Because such a fall might have fractured a few bones but it was highly unlikely to cause death.

The assassination of James Le Mesurier should be viewed in the backdrop of the killing of the Islamic State’s chief Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi on October 27 in a US special-ops raid. It’s important to note in the news coverage of the killing of al-Baghdadi that although the mainstream media has been trumpeting for the last several years that the Islamic State’s fugitive leader was hiding somewhere on the Iraq-Syria border in the east, he was found hiding in the northwestern Idlib governorate, under the control of Turkey’s militant proxies and al-Nusra Front, and was killed while trying to flee to Turkey in Barisha village five kilometers from the border.

The reason why the mainstream media scrupulously avoided mentioning Idlib as al-Baghdadi’s most likely hideout in Syria was to cover up the collusion between the militant proxies of Turkey and the jihadists of al-Nusra Front and the Islamic State. Unsurprisingly, the White Helmets area of operations is also Idlib governorate in Syria where they are allowed to conduct purported “rescue operations” and “humanitarian work” under the tutelage of al-Nusra Front.

In fact, the corporate media takes the issue of Islamic jihadists “commingling” with Turkey-backed “moderate rebels” in Idlib so seriously – which could give the Syrian government the pretext to mount an offensive in northwest Syria – that the New York Times cooked up an exclusive report [2] a couple of days after the special-ops night raid, on October 30, that the Islamic State paid money to al-Nusra Front for hosting al-Baghdadi in Idlib.

The morning after the night raid, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported [3] on Sunday, October 27, that a squadron of eight helicopters accompanied by warplanes belonging to the international coalition had attacked positions of Hurras al-Din, an al-Qaeda-affiliated group, in Idlib province where the Islamic State chief was believed to be hiding.

Despite detailing the operational minutiae of the special-ops raid, the mainstream news coverage of the raid deliberately elided over the crucial piece of information that the compound in Barisha village five kilometers from Turkish border where al-Baghdadi was killed belonged to Hurras al-Din, an elusive terrorist outfit which has previously been targeted several times in the US airstrikes.

Although Hurras al-Din is generally assumed to be an al-Qaeda affiliate, it is in fact the regrouping of the Islamic State jihadists under a different name in northwestern Idlib governorate after the latter terrorist organization was routed from Mosul and Anbar in Iraq and Raqqa and Deir al-Zor in Syria and was hard pressed by the US-led coalition’s airstrikes in eastern Syria.

According to “official version” [4] of Washington’s story regarding the killing of al-Baghdadi, the choppers took off from an American airbase in Erbil, the capital of Iraqi Kurdistan, flew hundreds of miles over the enemy territory in the airspace controlled by the Syrian and Russian air forces, killed the self-proclaimed “caliph” of the Islamic State in a Hollywood-style special-ops raid, and took the same route back to Erbil along with the dead body of the “caliph” and his belongings.

Although Washington has conducted several airstrikes in Syria’s Idlib in the past, those were carried out by fixed-wing aircraft that fly at high altitudes, and the aircraft took off from American airbases in Turkey, which is just across the border from Syria’s northwestern Idlib province. Why would Washington take the risk of flying its troops at low altitudes in helicopters over the hostile territory controlled by myriads of Syria’s heavily armed militant outfits?

In fact, several Turkish journalists, including Rajip Soylu, the Turkey correspondent for the Middle East Eye, tweeted [5] on the night of the special-ops raid that the choppers took off from the American airbase in Turkey’s Incirlik.

As for al-Baghdadi, who was “hiding” with the blessing of Turkey, it now appears that he was the bargaining chip in the negotiations between Trump and Erdogan, and the quid for the US president’s agreeing to pull out of Syria was the pro quo that Erdogan would hand Baghdadi to him on a silver platter.

It’s worth noting that although Idlib governorate in Syria’s northwest has firmly been under the control of Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) led by al-Nusra Front since 2015, its territory was equally divided between Turkey-backed rebels and al-Nusra Front.

In a brazen offensive in January, however, al-Nusra Front’s jihadists completely routed Turkey-backed militants, even though the latter were supported by a professionally trained and highly organized military of a NATO member, Turkey. And al-Nusra Front now reportedly controls more than 70% territory in the Idlib governorate.

The reason why al-Nusra Front has been easily able to defeat Turkey-backed militants appears to be that the ranks of al-Nusra Front have now been swelled by highly motivated and battle-hardened jihadist deserters from the Islamic State after the fall of the latter’s “caliphate” in Mosul in Iraq and Raqqa in Syria.

In all likelihood, some of the Islamic State’s jihadists who joined the battle in Idlib in January were part of the same contingent of thousands of Islamic State militants that fled Raqqa in October 2017 under a deal brokered [6] by the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).

The merger of al-Nusra Front and Islamic State in Idlib doesn’t come as a surprise, though, since the Islamic State and al-Nusra Front used to be a single organization before a split occurred between the two militant groups in April 2013 over a leadership dispute. In fact, al-Nusra Front’s chief Abu Mohammad al-Jolani was reportedly appointed [7] the emir of al-Nusra Front by Abu Bakr al Baghdadi, the leader of Islamic State, in January 2012.

Finally, regarding the assassination of the founder of the White Helmets, James Le Mesurier, in downtown Istanbul, it’s worth pointing out that Turkey has been hosting 3.6 million Syrian refugees and myriad factions of Ankara-backed militant proxies. It’s quite easy for the jihadists of al-Nusra Front and the Islamic State to intermingle with Syrian refugees and militants in the Turkish refugee camps.

Evidently, one of the members of the White Helmets operating in al-Nusra’s territory in Syria’s Idlib betrayed his patrons for the sake of getting a reward, and conveyed crucial piece of information to Le Mesurier who then transmitted it to the British and American intelligence leading to the October 27 special-ops raid killing al-Baghdadi. In all likelihood, the assassination of the founder of the White Helmets was the Islamic State’s revenge for betraying its slain chief.



Arrest Made After Man Points Gun At Worshippers Outside Denver Mosque

Nov. 14, 2019

DENVER (CBS4) – Police in Denver arrested a man near 30th and Downing after reports of a man outside a mosque with a gun. The suspect ran away from the scene and officers caught up with him nearby.

Around 4:45 p.m., investigators said the man approached four people who were standing outside the mosque and pointed a long gun at them. Officers said the man made anti-Muslim remarks but did not fire the weapon.“He clearly threatened some members of our community in a bias motivated fashion,” said Denver Police Division Chief Ron Thomas.

Witnesses said the suspect was belligerent.

“Saying intimidating and scary words, ‘I’m going to shoot you all, I’m going to light up this place.’ Just like… coming with the rifle and everyone runs away,” said the Mosque’s Imam Muhammad Kolila.

The man left the parking lot but was taken into custody nearby. Investigators said the suspect is known to officers and they are still searching for the weapon.

According to police, the suspect has a criminal history and appeared to be under the influence of a stimulant during his arrest. The Denver Police Department is working to obtain a search warrant of the suspect’s home, which is near the mosque.

“I think it is a troubling situation,” said Thomas. “We certainly have to provide safety and security for those populations that are targeted.”

No one was hurt during the encounter, but the Mosque’s Imam says this has left people there shaken.

“We are just like a peaceful community, a peaceful Muslim community just trying to worship freely,” Kolila told CBS4.

On Twitter, Denver Mayor Michael Hancock thanked police for their quick response and said Denver should be a safe haven for people of all religions.

The Denver Police Department is increasing patrols around Denver mosques as a precaution. The incident comes nearly two weeks after the FBI announced an arrest in a foiled plot to bomb a synagogue in Pueblo.

“We have a pretty extensive history of paying attention to threats both locally and nationally that target the Jewish community and the Muslim community,” said Division Chief Thomas. “We are pretty good at making sure that we stay in touch with those communities.”

On Tuesday, the FBI released its annual Hate Crime Statistics Act report, finding hate crimes in Colorado increased 16% from 2017 to 2018. The data showed 123 hate crimes in Colorado in 2018. Of those, 16 were based on religion.



US court rules American-born woman who joined Islamic State is not a citizen

14 November 2019

A federal judge ruled that an American-born woman who joined the Islamic State (IS) group in 2014 is not a US citizen.

Judge Reggie B Walton of Washington DC's Federal District Court on Thursday abruptly dismissed a lawsuit filed by Hoda Muthana's family, who had hoped to force the government to allow her to come back to the US where she was born and raised.

The court ruling leaves Muthana, 25, stateless, without any form of citizenship.

Muthana travelled to Syria to joined the Islamic State group in 2014 after embracing extremist ideology while living with her family in Alabama.

She now has a 2-year-old son - the child of a slain IS fighter - and wants to return to the US, saying she no longer supports IS ideology.

In an interview with NBC News published last week, Muthana said she "regrets every single thing" done by the Islamic State.

"Anyone that believes in God believes that everyone deserves a second chance, no matter how harmful their sins were," Muthana said.

The US government has repatriated several American women linked to IS, along with their children. Still, following Thursday's court ruling, Muthana has little hope in returning because she is not deemed to be a US citizen.

Muthana was born in the US and had been issued at least two US passports, but Washington argued that Muthana was never eligible for citizenship because she is the daughter of a diplomat who was serving the Yemeni government at the time of her birth.

Children of US-based foreign diplomats do not qualify for citizenship by birthright.

While Muthana's father was discharged from his diplomatic post shortly before she was born in 1994, the US government said it was not notified of his post ending until after she was born in early 1995.

The court ruled that there was sufficient evidence Muthana had been born while her father was still a diplomat.

"I am a citizen, and I have papers to prove it. I am as American as a blonde-haired blue-eyed girl, and I would like to stay in my country and do American things," Muthana told NBC.

'Just a phase'

During her time in Syria, Muthana married three IS fighters, all of whom died in combat.

She took part actively in IS propaganda, according to the Counter Extremism Project. She had urged IS sympathisers in America to "go on drive-bys, and spill all of their blood".

Muthana also hailed an attack in 2015 in France against the offices of the magazine Charlie Hebdo that left 12 people dead.

In the interview with NBC, she said: "It was an ideology that really was just a phase." She refused to discuss those earlier comments.

Muthana told the Guardian that her family in Alabama was deeply conservative and placed restrictions on her movements and interactions, factors she claims contributed to her radicalisation. "You want to go out with your friends, and I didn't get any of that. I turned to my religion and went in too hard. I was self-taught and thought whatever I read, it was right."

She said she is willing to face the US justice system if she were allowed to re-enter the country.

Currently, Muthana and her son are being held in northeast Syria at the Kurdish-controlled al-Roj refugee camp.

Muthana is the only American among about 1,500 foreign women and children inside the sprawling camp of 39,000 people, the Guardian said earlier this year.





£20 billion cost to UK if India-Pakistan fight on Kashmir

Murtaza Ali Shah

November 15, 2019

LONDON: Britain’s former ambassador to the United Nations and National Security Adviser to two Prime Ministers has warned that the international community has a strong interest in helping to resolve the Kashmir crisis or else play a big price in the future.

Writing in The Forbes, Sir Mark Lyall Grant, who was national security advisor to premiers David Cameron and Theresa May, said that Britain has a particular responsibility to resolve the issue of occupied Kashmir because Britain, at the time of partition in 1947, left in haste and failed to tackle the well-known differences over Kashmir, thus creating an explosive bone of contention between India and Pakistan that has plagued the region ever since.

He wrote: “After 72 years of bitter dispute, punctuated by 3 wars and many skirmishes between India and Pakistan (both now nuclear weapon powers), innumerable acts of terrorism and rising human rights abuses, the time has come for a serious effort to resolve the half-forgotten Kashmir crisis. The international community, led by the US and UK, needs to play a role in this effort.

“Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s decree stripping Jammu and Kashmir of its special status took formal effect this month, with the territory being split in two, both territories directly administered from Delhi. Hundreds of thousands of Indian troops are trying to keep the peace, as political leaders are detained, internet services cut and local movement restricted.”

Sir Mark Lyall Grant had expressed similar thoughts at the seminar on Kashmir sponsored by Abdurrehman Chinoy at the think-tank Chatham House last week. Sir Grant, jack Straw, Dr Maleeha Lodhi, Nidhi Razdan and Jack Straw had spoken at the event.

Sir Mark lyall Grant wrote in The Frobes that there is a real risk that Kashmir conflict could trigger military conflict between the two nuclear weapon states. He gave examples of how India and Pakistan have come close to an all out war in the last 18 years, twice.

He wrote that both Pakistan and India have played a big price over Kashmir conflict and the wider international community is also affected. He warned of the threat of extremism rise in the UK as a result of what has happened in Kashmir. India’s latest action is bound to increase the levels of disaffection and extremism in the majority Muslim population of Kashmir. That in turn risks increased radicalisation of Kashmiri populations in the West. In the UK, around 60% of the 1.5 million British nationals of Pakistan origin come from the Mirpur area of Pakistan controlled Kashmir, and so are deeply affected by what happens in Kashmir. So, there could be national security implications for the UK.”

He said: “There are potentially financial costs too. After the military stand-off in 2001/2, the British Government estimated that a nuclear conflict between India and Pakistan could cost the UK up to £20 billion, as a result of the threat to British nationals in the region, increased migration pressures, lost business opportunities and humanitarian and reconstruction costs. More widely, the Kashmir crisis is a threat to the authority of the UN and the rules-based international system, at a time when that system is already threatened by e.g. Russia’s annexation of Crimea and China’s militarisation of the South China Sea.”

Sir Mark Lyall Grant quoted the conference organiser Abdurrehman Chinoy, the conference organiser, as saying: “The South Asian community in the UK is very dynamic and generally tolerant towards each other. It can also influence policy and ideas back home in India and Pakistan. We need now a dialogue to finally resolve the Kashmir issue, so that the communities can continue to live peacefully alongside each other outside the sub-continent.”

Sir Grant wrote: “For all these reasons, I believe that the international community has a strong interest in helping to resolve the Kashmir crisis. The UK has a particular responsibility – when the British partitioned India in 1947, in their haste to leave the subcontinent, they failed to tackle the well-known differences over Kashmir, thus creating an explosive bone of contention between India and Pakistan that has plagued the region ever since.”



Pak Army Chief visits Armoured Corps Centre in Nowshera

November 14, 2019

RAWALPINDI/NOWSHERA: Pakistan Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa  on Thursday visited the Armoured Corps Centre here in Nowshera, according to the military's media wing, and lauded the Armoured Corps' performance in different forms of combat.

In its statement, the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) said: "Lieutenant General Sarfraz Sattar [was] installed as colonel commandant Armoured Corps" during the visit of the COAS.

"Outgoing Colonel Commandant Lieutenant General Naveed Mukhtar (Retired) large number of serving and retired officers, soldiers and families of shaheeds [martyrs] attended the event.

"COAS appreciated performance of Armoured Corps both in conventional and non-conventional combat," the ISPR added, noting that the Pakistan Army chief had laid a floral wreath on the martyrs' monument upon arrival.



Pakistan expects India to appreciate Kartarpur Corridor initiative: FO

November 15, 2019

ISLAMABAD: Foreign Office spokesman Dr Mohammad Faisal, at the weekly media briefing, on Thursday said that Pakistan expected India to appreciate its gesture of opening visa-free Kartarpur Corridor for Sikh pilgrims, which was taken in the spirit of promoting peace and harmony in the region.

Dr Faisal said approximately 12,000 Yatrees were present on the occasion of the corridor’s inauguration, including 5,000 Indian pilgrims who came through Wagah and about 5,000 from across the world. About 700 pilgrims came through Kartarpur Sahib Corridor.

Responding to a question about the ‘review and reconsideration’ of death sentence for Indian spy Kulbhushan Jadhav by military’s Field General Court Martial in the wake of the International Court of Justice’s verdict, the spokesman said: “All actions will be in line with the laws of Pakistan. The decision of the ICJ will be honoured in the light of laws of Pakistan”.

He ruled out “any deal” on Jadhav.

Foreign Office spokesman rules out ‘any deal’ on issue of spy Kulbhushan Jadhav

Replying to a question about the visit of Foreign Secretary Sohail Mahmood and the Inter-Services Intelligence’s director general to Kabul, he confirmed the trip and said that it yielded an agreement “to enhance mutual coordination and take steps to move forward”.

It was further agreed to hold a meeting of the Afghanistan-Pakistan Action Plan for Peace and Solidarity in Kabul in December.



Prisoner swap deal stands suspended, say Taliban

Tahir Khan

NOVEMBER 15, 2019

prisonersA prisoner swap deal in Afghanistan has been suspended and Taliban officials say their prisoners have not been released from the Bagram detention center.

Two foreign professors, who are held hostage by the Taliban, would be exchanged with three Taliban leaders including Anas Haqqani, brother of Taliban deputy chief Siraj ud Din Haqqani.

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani announced on Tuesday to release Anas Haqqani and two other leaders from the Bagram prison under a prisoner swap deal that he hoped will help in the peace process.

He said Taliban would also release American University of Afghanistan’s professors – Kevin King from the US and Timothy Weeks from Australia, who Taliban had kidnapped in August 2016 from Kabul.

Anas Haqqani and Hafiz Rasheed had been arrested Bahrain airport on way back from Qatar, where they had gone to meet Taliban leaders freed from Guantanamo. They were later handed over to authorities in Afghanistan.

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid has confirmed that their prisoners have not been released from the Bagram prison. Afghan government and the US have not yet commented about suspension of the deal.

A Taliban official from the group’s prisoners commission told Daily Times that the three prisoners were brought back to their cell at the Bagram.

It is unclear as to why the release of the Taliban and the foreign professors has been delayed. There was no word on the delay.

Anas Haqqani in an audio message, which Taliban sources shared with the media, said that he is packing as he had received a message about his and others’ release.

The release of the Taliban detainees could have been delayed as the Afghan government wanted the Taliban should first set free the two professors. This shows the mistrust between the two dies.

President Ghani said that the swap deal would lead to direct talks between the Taliban and the Afghan government. However, Taliban did not comment on Ghani’s speech.

A source says the US did not want publicity of the Taliban release. Taliban posted photographs of the three detainees on social media that were viral in minutes.

Criticism on the swap deal by Afghans in the social media could also be one of the reasons.

The sources said freed Taliban were scheduled to be flown out of Afghanistan to Qatar, where the Taliban have political headquarters, on Tuesday evening.

Abdul Rashid, is the brother of Nabi Omari, a senior member of the negotiation team and was among the five Taliban leaders freed from the Guantanamo detention center in 2014. Rashid was arrested with Anas Haqqani at Bahrain airport on way back from Qatar, where they had gone to meet Taliban leaders freed from Guantanamo. They were later handed over to authorities in Afghanistan.

Mali Khan, who will also be freed, is the maternal uncle of Anas Haqqani and was captured by the US forces in Afghanistan after their invasion in 2001.

Taliban leadership had included Anas Haqqani in the 14-member negotiation team in February and Taliban sources say he will join the team in Qatar.

American special peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad had been working on the prisoners swap deal as part of renewed efforts for the resumption of the stalled peace process with the Taliban.

President Donald Trump had called off the process in early September following the killing of an American soldier in a Taliban-claimed attack in Kabul.

Taliban sources had earlier confirmed to Daily Times that Pakistani had been mediating for the release of the foreign professors and there had been negotiations about the agreement in Qatar.

In July, Prime Minister Imran Khan said in Washington there would be “good news” about the two foreign professors. But the deal was delayed apparently due to disagreement by the Afghan government.

Afghan officials had earlier ruled out the release of Anas Haqqani, describing his release as a red line for the government and the people of Afghanistan.



Any ‘deal’ on Kulbhushan Jadhav out of question: FO

NOVEMBER 15, 2019

kulbhushan-jadhavPakistan on Thursday strongly rejected any deal on Indian spy Kulbhushan Jadhav, saying the decision of International Court of Justice (ICJ) will be implemented in accordance with the law of the land.

“Absolutely no deal on Kulbhushan. We will honour the ICJ judgment in light of the law of Pakistan and there should be no doubt about it,” Foreign Office spokesman Dr Faisal said at a weekly press briefing at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. He endorsed an earlier statement of Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) director general who had rejected speculations about an amendment in Pakistan Army Act to implement the ICJ verdict regarding the convicted Indian navy commander.

The FO spokesman said Kartarpur Corridor is open for visit by any citizen of Pakistan. However, he clarified that media crew will require a prior security clearance for its equipment. On the first day of opening, around 12,000 persons including from India and Pakistan visited the Gurdwara, whereas up to 5,000 will be allowed in future on daily basis, he said.

On recent decision of Indian Supreme Court in Ayodhya case, the spokesman said the dangerous precedent has put all mosques across India under threat. “After Ayodhya case, the veneer of the so-called image of secular India has been completely shredded,” he said, adding that Pakistan strongly condemns the 1992’s demolition of Babari Mosque where Muslims used to pray for last 450 years. “It will raise voice at different levels against the decision of Indian judiciary which has permitted construction of temple at the site,” he added. The FO spokesman said India has cornered itself after its wrong decision of abrogating the special status of Jammu and Kashmir by scrapping articles 370 and 35-A. He called upon the international community to pressurise India on lifting the three-month-long curfew and internet blockage and also release the detained Kashmiri leaders. He rejected the notion that Pakistan has toned down its protest on Kashmir, saying there is no change in the policy. “Pakistan is not inching back from its stance on Kashmir and will always stand by it,” he added. About 265 fake websites being run by India in over 60 countries for propaganda against Pakistan, the spokesman said the study by an independent organisation is a manifestation of the fact that nothing good can be expected from India. Asked update on inquiry related to entry of social media star Hareem Shah into the briefing room of the Foreign Affairs Ministry, the spokesman said, “We have ascertained the facts and all necessary measures have been taken to prevent occurrence of any such incidents in future.”



Hamza Ali Abbasi quits showbiz, reveals journey from atheism to Islam

November 15, 2019

Hamza Ali Abbasi, last month, took to Twitter and shared that soon he will be sharing some personal news with his fans and followers.

Taking to the micro-blogging website, the actor wrote, “A journey of more than a decade comes to an end. I have a very important announcement to make at the end of this month. Will hope my voice reaches many. Will be off social media till the end of October.”

Now, Hamza has shared that news. The actor has decided to bid farewell to his acting career for good. He also shared his journey from atheism to Islam.

In a 23-minute-long video, the Waar star shared that he has decided to leave the entertainment industry to follow the path of Almighty.

“I had this divine intervention some time back, that all that I am doing in this world will end the moment I die,” he shared in the video. “All these trophies, all these accolades will not bring me any good on the Day of Judgment when I meet my Maker. I have decided that I want to leave everything that might be a hurdle when it comes to making my matters easier on the Day of Judgment.”

The actor shared how when he was 14-15, he became an atheist since he could not find answers to who could create such a universe. He shared he had questioned his life. But it was science that made him come back to the religion.

“I thought about it and it came to my understanding that there has to be a Divine power that is controlling all of this,” he added. “That’s how I started reading and then came back to Islam. I found out that there is so much that has to be understood.”

He further added how, contrary to some rumours, he is not joining electoral politics any time soon. “I think in politics, you have to lie a lot to defend your party and your peers. It isn’t something I resonate with. I don’t wish to lie or do something I don’t believe in, so entering politics is not on the cards right now.”

Hamza added that what he really wants to do now is talk about religion and hopes to inspire others as well with his journey.

“My perspective of life has been changed since I realised that I have to meet my God. With this realisation, what I decided to do is that I now wish to talk to people. I wish to spread the message.”

Hamza added that he will now only make videos to share his knowledge about religion. He will also talk about this in various interviews and shared that he will be leaving the entertainment industry indefinitely.

The actor thanked his fans for the undying support and love over the years and further said that he will be making shows and films, even if he won’t act in it.

The actor claimed that his productions will not have any vulgar content, nor will it be obscene. Hamza vowed to use this medium for spreading the message he believes in.

He added his productions will show Pakistan, its culture and Islam in the right light. Hamza also said that he will be quite active on YouTube, on which he will keep on making videos on topics he thinks should be addressed.

Have something to add to the story? Share it in the comments below.



Islamist leader calls off protest in Pakistan capital

Friday, 15 Nov 2019

ISLAMABAD, Nov 15 — A Pakistani Islamist leader who led thousands of supporters into the capital two weeks ago and demanded Imran Khan's resignation called off his demonstration Wednesday, but insisted he would move to “Plan B” and continue trying to topple the government.

Maulana Fazlur Rehman, a firebrand cleric who heads one of the country's largest Islamist parties, said he was launching the “next phase” of his “ongoing movement,” which he said would continue until the government resigns and fresh elections are held.

He addressed supporters, many of whom are madrassa students from around the country, at the campsite in the capital where they have been since October 31, despite the November rain and dropping temperatures.

Now they will move to other roads and highways throughout the country, he said.

One highway — leading from the southwestern city of Quetta to Chaman, one of the main border crossings to Afghanistan which is frequented by Nato supply trucks — was already being blocked by roughly 200 of Rehman's supporters Wednesday.

Some 150 demonstrators also reportedly blocked a highway in southern Sindh province.

It was not clear how many more roads Rehman planned to block, or how long for. Some supporters at the Islamabad protest said that if the "Plan B" does not work they will return.

"Our Plan B is going to be tougher than Plan A," promised one, 29-year-old Shehryar Fahim, adding that if needed they would protest at Khan's private residence in Bani Gala, a suburb of Islamabad.

Rehman has accused the prime minister of taking power last year with the help of the military, which has ruled Pakistan for roughly half its history.

Khan and the military have denied the accusations, which have swirled since the July 2018 election.

But Rehman, a long-time rival of Khan, brought his supporters to Islamabad and gave the prime minister 48 hours to step down.

The deadline came and went with no sign of the prime minister budging.

Initially the leaders of Pakistan's main opposition parties had offered Rehman their support. However, they did not mobilise in large numbers, and their leaders left Islamabad even as Rehman remained.

Other such protests in Islamabad have caused hours-long traffic jams and have even degenerated into violent clashes.

Authorities took Rehman's demonstration seriously, deploying security forces and blocking roads to the diplomatic area of the capital. The measures did cause traffic jams, but nothing like in the past.

Rehman had chosen his moment carefully, hoping to tap into simmering anger in Pakistan over the deteriorating economy.

However the lack of substance behind his claims led several observers to suggest the demonstration was motivated by his ego amid fears he was losing relevance after his party, long a force in Pakistani politics, was sidelined in the election which brought Khan to power. — AFP



Islamic economy spending to increase 45pc, reaching $3.2tn by 2024

November 15, 2019


Worldwide spending in Islam-inspired ethical consumption sectors is set to increase 45 per cent by 2024, reaching $3.2 trillion from the end of last year, according to a new report.

Malaysia, the UAE, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia continued to lead the Global Islamic Economy Indicator rankings out of 73 countries, according to the seventh annual State of the Global Islamic Economy survey done by DinarStandard, a research and advisory company in the US. Indonesia made the biggest jump from 10th to fifth place.

The indicator score is a composite of 49 metrics, such as supply and demand and governance, weighted across sectors relative to size.

It covers seven sectors, including Islamic finance and six consumer sectors: halal food, modest fashion, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics media and recreation , and Muslim-friendly travel. Islamic finance is the largest sector at $2.5tn, followed by halal food, which totalled $1.4tn last year.

While Malaysia topped in the Islamic finance and Muslim-friendly travel categories, the UAE led in the five other sectors, including halal food and modest fashion.

“The UAE’s consistent rank among the top three in the Global Islamic Economy Indicator year after year is a key outcome of the Dubai: Capital of Islamic Economy initiative and its positive impact on the nation’s economy,” said Sultan Al Mansouri, Minister of Economy and chairman of the Dubai Islamic Economy Development Centre. Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed, crown prince of Dubai, established the DIEDC in 2013 to develop and promote the emirate as the global capital of the Islamic economy. Spending in the six consumer sectors in Islamic economies grew 5.2 per cent in 2018 year-on-year and is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 6.2 per cent over the next five years.

Islamic finance assets are expected to grow at a 5.5 per cent CAGR to hit $3.4tn during the same period. Investments in Islamic economy companies have recorded tremendous growth of around 400 per cent to $1.2bn in the 12 months to July 31, with 63 deals in 18 countries.

More than half was invested in halal products, 42 per cent in Islamic finance and 4 per cent in the other Islamic lifestyle categories. However, Islamic economy deals remain a small fraction of the $596bn invested globally in consumer and financial services sectors, highlighting the future growth opportunity.

The global Islamic economy has gained increasing importance due to growing demand for products and services that are Sharia-compliant. It also presents a growth opportunity for the 57 member states of the Organisation of Islamic Co-operation (OIC). The report estimates that OIC economies can experience a boost of 1 to 3 per cent in gross domestic product through trading of halal products.

The study included all OIC countries, as well as non-OIC countries with a strong presence in the halal industry, such as Brazil, Australia, the UK, Germany, France, the US, Canada, China and Russia. “The report has helped make a business case for funding start-ups and driving multiple national level halal economy strategies and investments as well as corporate expansion initiatives,” said Rafi-uddin Shikoh, chief executive and managing director of DinarStandard.

The core drivers of the Islamic economy among consumers, according to the report, include a growing Muslim population, rising affluence, increasing religious affinity, digital connectivity and ethical consumerism.

The global Muslim population is expected to grow to 2.2 billion by 2030 from 1.7 billion in 2014, according to the Pew Research Centre’s Forum on Religion and Public Life. For businesses, governments and investors, the drivers include multinational growth, economic diversification and development, a boost in inter-OIC trade and investor returns. Saudi Arabia and Turkey are the only OIC countries in the top 25 economies around the world. “OIC governments are seeking to boost GDP growth and diversify their economies, increase foreign direct investment and develop global consumer packaged goods champions, with Malaysia, the UAE and Indonesia setting the tone for developing national Islamic economy strategies,” the report said.

—(Courtesy: The National)





‘Best ever verdict’: UP Shia Waqf Board chief Wasim Rizvi donates Rs 51,000 for Ram temple in Ayodhya

Nov 15, 2019

Uttar Pradesh Shia Central Waqf Board chairman Wasim Rizmi on Thursday announced he is donating Rs 51,000 for the construction of a Ram temple in Ayodhya.

Rizvi said the Board favoured the construction of a Ram temple in Ayodhya and the Supreme Court judgment on the decades-old issue is the “best verdict” that could have been possible.

In a unanimous verdict, the Supreme Court last week cleared the way for the construction of a Ram temple at the disputed site in Ayodhya and directed the Centre to allot a separate five-acre plot to the Sunni Waqf Board to build a mosque.

“Now preparations are on for the construction of a grand temple at the Ram Janmasthan. Since Lord Ram is the ancestor of all of us, Muslims also, Rs 51,000 on behalf of the ‘Wasim Rizvi Films’ is being given to Ram Janmabhoomi Nyas towards temple construction,” Rizvi said.

Whenever the temple is built, Shia Waqf Board will help in its construction, he said, adding Ram temple in Ayodhya is a matter of pride for ‘Rambhakts’ world over and also in India.



No mosque land in cultural boundary of Ayodhya: VHP

TNN | Nov 15, 2019

LUCKNOW: Vishwa Hindua Parishad vice-president Champat Rai said the objective of getting Ramjanmabhoomi for the construction of Ram temple may have been achieved but government should desist from giving land for building mosque within the cultural boundaries of Ayodhya.

In an exclusive chat with TOI on Thursday, Rai said, “Vivaadit zameen par Ram mandir banane ka humara mool uddeshya poora ho gaya hai, par nayi masjid Ayodhya mein nahi banni chahiye. (Our objective for construction of Ram temple on the disputed land has been achieved, but the new mosque should not be built in Ayodhya).”

Rai’s statement comes a day after VHP’s international convener Dinesh said the organization was against a new mosque being constructed within 42 ‘kos’ (around 80 miles) from Ayodhya.

“The ball is now in the court of government which has to decide how and when the temple and a mosque are constructed. Nevertheless, we don’t need to pressure the government and allow it to take a concrete decision post apex court verdict,” Rai said.

Rai had earlier said the trust should not have any government official or minister as its member.

VHP leaders said cadres have been asked to desist from taking any hard stance after the apex court verdict. VHP spokesperson in Ayodhya, Sharad Sharma said there was no fresh direction from top on the Ram temple issue.

Asked to comment on the VHP statements, UP Sunni Central Waqf Board chairman Zufar Faruqi said, “We would not like to comment on VHP statements at this point of time.”

On November 9, the Supreme Court had cleared the way for construction of Ram Temple at the disputed site and directed Centre to allot a 5-acre plot to Sunni Waqf Board for building a mosque. The SC said the mosque should be constructed at a ‘prominent’ site.



Sunni Waqf Board taking legal opinion on whether to accept plot for mosque in Ayodhya: Farooqui

15th November 2019

LUCKNOW: The Uttar Pradesh Sunni Central Waqf Board on Friday said it was taking legal opinion on whether to accept a five-acre plot that is to be allotted by the Centre for a mosque as per the Supreme Court's Ayodhya verdict, and noted that it would give emphasis to views of the Muslim Personal Law Board on the matter.

"Though AIMPLB (All India Muslim Personal Law Board) was not a party in the Ayodhya case, it would be right to give importance to its views as it is the supreme body of Muslims in the country," Sunni Central Waqf Board chairman Zufar Farooqui said.

"As of now, it has to be seen whether the board can refuse to take the five-acre land for the construction of a mosque as ruled by the Supreme Court. Will it amount to contempt of court? The board has started taking legal opinion on this point," he said.

Farooqui said there were divergent views within the board on the matter and "the number of those suggesting that the plot should be used for some constructive work to give a message to the world is very low".

The Sunni Waqf board will take into consideration what the AIMPLB decides in its meeting on Sunday and take a final call on the matter in its meeting scheduled for November 26, he said.

In a unanimous verdict last week, the Supreme Court cleared the way for the construction of a Ram temple at the disputed site in Ayodhya and directed the Centre to allot a five-acre plot to the Sunni Waqf Board for building a mosque.

Babri Masjid Action Committee convenor and senior counsel Zafaryab Jilani said that since the AIMPLB had led the Muslim side, its opinion on whether to accept the land or not should be given utmost importance.

Asked if the opinion of AIMPLB and Sunni Waqf Board was different on the matter, Jilani said the latter was not the only party in the case and could not take a decision on its own.



Kashmir witnessed ISIS-level horror before the West was apprised on it: Columnist Sunanda Vashisht

Nov 15, 2019

WASHINGTON DC: Kashmir has witnessed a similar level of horror and brutality as inflicted by the Islamic State in Syria, prior to the time when the West and other international communities were apprised about the worst human rights situation in the Valley, claimed Kashmir columnist Sunanda Vashisht.

"We have seen ISIS level of horror and brutality in Kashmir, 30 years before the West was even introduced to the brutalities of radical Islamic terror. I am glad these hearings are happening here today because when my family and everyone like me lost our homes our livelihood and our way of life the world remained silent," Vashisht told a Congressional hearing on Human Rights organised by Tom Lantos HR Commission in Washington on Thursday (local time).

US Congress gets a powerful testimony from a Kashmiri Hindu on the scourge of Pakistan sponsored Islamist Terrorism…

"Where were the advocates of human rights when my rights were taken away?" Vashisht asked the panelists who were present at the hearing.

"Where were they on the night of January 19, 1990, when there were voices blaring from all mosques in Kashmir that they wanted Kashmir with Hindu women but without Hindu men?"

"Where was the saviour of humanity when my feeble old grandfather stood with kitchen knives and an old rusted axe ready to kill my mother and I in order to save us from the much worse fate that awaited us?" she questioned further.

She then said, "My people were given three choices by the terrorists: flee, convert or die on the same fateful night."

Around 400,000 Kashmiri Hindus fled right after the night of horror.

"They survived. Those who didn't were killed. Today, 30 years later, I am still not welcome in my home in Kashmir. I am not allowed to follow my faith there. My house in Kashmir is illegally occupied as most others in my communities. And those which were not occupied have been burnt down or ransacked," she told the hearing.

Meanwhile, Sheila Jackson Lee, a Representative from Texas, in response to Vashisht asked for a pathway to ensure human rights in the region.

"We should try to find a pathway to at least do the basics to ensure human rights in the region. Why not allow the members of the US Congress to visit both parts of the Jammu and Kashmir-- in India as well as Pakistan," Lee said.





Israel Strikes 'Jihad' Targets Despite Ceasefire

Friday, 15 November, 2019

Asharq Al-Awsat

Israel launched fresh strikes against Islamic Jihad targets in the Gaza Strip, the Israeli army said early Friday, weakening a ceasefire put in place after fighting this week killed scores of Palestinians in exchanges of fire.

The ceasefire began Thursday morning following two days of deadly violence in the impoverished enclave triggered by an Israeli strike on Baha Abu al-Ata, an Islamic Jihad commander.

The Israeli army told reporters that new overnight strikes were underway on Islamic Jihad, the second most powerful Palestinian militant group in Gaza after the territory’s rulers Hamas.

It came after five rockets were fired at Israel from Gaza -- also after the ceasefire came into effect -- with two of them intercepted by air defenses, according to the army.

The Israeli army “views the violation of the ceasefire and rockets directed at Israel with great severity," it said in a news release.

Israel's military was prepared to "continue operating as necessary against all attempts to harm Israel civilians", it said.

Two injured citizens were being treated in hospital in the southern part of the territory, according to the health ministry in Gaza.

During the day on Thursday normal life had resumed quietly in Israeli regions near the Gaza border, while in Gaza, citizens had also embraced the return of relative calm.

Israel's military said some 450 rockets had been fired at its territory since Tuesday morning and air defenses had intercepted dozens of them in fireballs high in the sky.

No Israelis were killed, though one rocket narrowly missed speeding cars on a busy highway. Israeli medics said they had treated some 63 people as of Wednesday night for mild injuries and stress.

Israel responded with air strikes, saying it targeted more Islamic Jihad militant sites and rocket- and missile-launching squads.

Islamic Jihad has said several more of its members were among those killed in the fighting this week.

Palestinian officials said eight members of the same family, including five children, were killed in an Israeli strike in the central Gaza Strip.

Israel's military said the man targeted and killed in that strike was an Islamic Jihad rocket unit commander.

Relatives, neighburs and an Islamic Jihad spokesman disputed that he belonged to the group, with some saying he had previously worked as a Palestinian Authority (PA) military police officer.



Iranian president calls cooperation with Jewish state a ‘strategic mistake,’ professes bond


15 November 2019

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani warned Muslim countries against working with Israel in a speech aired Thursday by Iran’s IRINN TV news broadcaster.

“It is a strategic mistake in the Islamic world when some see Israel as their friend. It is very unfortunate that some Islamic countries, that are supposed to be steadfast against their enemies for the benefit of the world of Islam and the benefit of their own peoples, have extended a hand in friendship to Israel,” Rouhani said, according to a translation by the Middle East Media Research Institute watchdog group.

“They are even using Israel’s intelligence capabilities against the Muslim peoples and the resistance movements,” he said.

Israel has peace agreements with Egypt and Jordan, and has seen warming ties with Sunni-Arab Gulf states in recent years, despite the absence of formal diplomatic relations, due to shared concerns about an increasingly belligerent Iran.

Rouhani said that Iran was at the “forefront of the struggle against arrogance and the Zionist regime,” alongside Palestinians, Syrians and Iraqis, and expressed his country’s enmity toward the US.

“We must clear our minds of any doubt that America is our enemy,” Rouhani said, although he said this did not mean that Iran sought war with the US.

Iran’s relationship with the US has unraveled since US President Donald Trump withdrew in May 2018 from the landmark 2015 nuclear deal with international powers. Tehran Iran still allows United Nations inspectors to monitor its nuclear sites and hasn’t pushed its enrichment anywhere near weapons-grade levels of 90 percent.

It has violated the deal, however, by enriching uranium up to 4.5%, beyond the 3.67% allowed by the deal. Iranian officials say their stockpile of low-enriched uranium is over 500 kilograms (1,100 pounds), beyond the accord’s 300-kilogram (661-pound) limit. It also began using advanced centrifuges prohibited by the agreement and resumed enrichment at its underground Fordo facility.

Rouhani in his speech proclaimed Iran’s friendship for Saudi Arabia, despite longstanding tensions between the states, and its bond with Kuwait, the UAE, Bahrain and the Palestinian people.

“Today is not the time for Shia-phobia, Sunni-phobia, Iran-phobia, or any-country-phobia. Our phobia today should be about the arrogance and Zionism,” Rouhani said.



Israeli airstrike at Gaza strip kills senior commander of Palestinian militant group

NOV. 13, 2019

Gaza medical officials have put the total death toll from the two days of fighting at 34 Palestinians, almost half of them civilians and including eight children and three women.

Hundreds of rocket launches by militants had paralyzed much of southern Israel and reached as far north as Tel Aviv, sending thousands of people to shelters. Dozens of Israelis were hurt.

Hamas, Gaza's dominant faction, appeared to have stayed out of this round of fighting. That may have helped stem escalation.

Islamic Jihad said Israel had accepted its demand to stop both the targeted killing of militants and sometimes lethal army gunfire at weekly Palestinian protests on the Gaza border.

"The ceasefire began under Egyptian sponsorship after the Occupation [Israel] submitted to the conditions set by Islamic Jihad on behalf of Palestinian resistance factions," Islamic Jihad spokesman Musab Al-Braim said.

But Israel said it would observe only a limited quid-pro-quo. "Quiet will be answered with quiet," Foreign Minister Israel Katz told Army Radio.

In the deadliest incident of the two-day hostilities, eight members of a Gaza family were killed by an Israeli missile strike shortly before the truce took hold, said medical officials and residents.

They said all were civilians. But Israeli military spokesman Lieutenant-Colonel Avichay Adraee said the head of the family, Rasmi Abu Malhous, who was among the dead, was the commander of Islamic Jihad rocket crews in the central Gaza Strip.

Neighbors left their homes to help rescue workers pull out the bodies of the family, some of which were completely buried in sandy earth. Civilians tried to test the pulse of one body before pulling it out.

Israel's allegation about Rasmi Abu Malhous could not immediately be confirmed by Reuters. Islamic Jihad did not claim him as a member.



Leader receives participants of 33rd International Islamic Unity Conference

15 November 2019

TEHRAN, Nov. 15 (MNA) – Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei received a host of high ranking Iranian officials and participants of the 33rd International Islamic Unity Conference on Friday morning.

Photos and details of this meeting will soon be published.

The 33rd International Islamic Unity Conference, marking the birth anniversary of Islam’s Prophet Muhammad, opened on Thursday in Tehran. Themed “Ummah unity in defending the al-Aqsa Mosque,” the event will run until November 16, with 350 personalities from 93 countries in attendance.



Islamic Revolution, model for people of world

November 15, 2019

AhlulBayt News Agency (ABNA): The revered source of emulation said that the Islamic Revolution was a model for the nations of the world and said, “The Islamic Revolution has cut the hands of looters from the country off and that is why the looters are hostile to us.”

Speaking at the 21st meeting of teachers of advanced and graduate level studies in the Islamic Seminaries of Qom held at Imam Khomeyni Specialized University, Ayatollah Jafar Sobhani said the Holy Quran introduces the Prophet Muhammad as a proof and added, “The Prophet Muhammad’s morality and the fact that he was uneducated is the proof of his truthfulness and legitimacy and doesn’t require any other proof.”

The prominent teacher in Islamic Seminaries of Qom stated out that the truthfulness of the Quran must be explained in society and said, “The Holy Quran shows the path of happiness and adversity.”

He described one of the effects of the Islamic Revolution was the creation of a model for the people of world and the Islamic ummahs of the world and added, “The Islamic Awakening originated from Iran’s Islamic Revolution.”

Ayatollah Sobhani said that the Islamic Revolution led to the introduction and recognition of Shi’ism in the world and said, “The Islamic Revolution has spread the name of Shi’ism in the world.”

His Eminence pointed out that one of the other effects of the Islamic Revolution is the approximation between denominations and sects of Islam and the consideration of commonalities and said, “There must not be any exaggeration and overestimation in approximation and it is wrong to combine religions.”

‎‎He added, “The Islamic Revolution has cut the hands of looters from the country off and that is why the looters are hostile to us.”

‎‎Ayatollah Sobhani said that after the Islamic Revolution, the Islamic Seminaries revived the forsaken sciences and added, “Scientific principles such as jurisprudence, memorization of the Quran and scholarship must be taught in every sense.”

The revered source of emulation said that jurisprudence and the principles of jurisprudence were the main elements of Shi’ah teachings and noted, “The Islamic Seminaries must maintain their independence.”

Ayatollah Sobhani added, “The Islamic Seminaries must separate the two sciences of jurisprudence and propagation because today the need for missionaries in the country is seriously felt.”



Islamic Jihad in-fighting after Hamas did not join attack on Israel

NOVEMBER 15, 2019

Hamas' decision to not participate in the latest fighting round has caused a crisis with the leadership of Palestinian Islamic Jihad, Palestinian sources reported.

The armed forces of Islamic Jihad thought that the rocket fire should be increased, while the diplomatic side wanted a ceasefire, Ynet reported.  According to the Palestinian reports, Islamic Jihad's armed wing wishes remove Hamas' control over their arsenal of weapons, so that they could be free of Hamas' rules which it enforces against other organizations in the Gaza Strip.



Islamic Jahad Movement appreciates Iran for supporting Palestine

November 15, 2019

AhlulBayt News Agency (ABNA): Spokesman of military branch of Islamic Jihad Movement Abu Hamdha on Thursday thanked Iran for supporting Palestine resistance.

"We are thankful for the Resistance Movement and Iran on top for supporting Palestinian resistance movement," he said.

He further noted that the Palestinian forces created a new epic during 'Dawn Scream' operations which will be registered in the history of the Palestinian nation.

Al-Quds battalions are operating based on complete military mechanism and they are listening to the Islamic Jihad movement, he said.

Assassination of Commander Bahaa Abu Alata only promoted power and strength of the resistance forces and commander of the Al-Quds battalions are always monitoring the situation in West Bank, Gaza Strip and Occupied Palestine, he said.



Iran President felicitates Prophet’s (PBUH) birthday to Islamic nations

November 15, 2019

AhlulBayt News Agency (ABNA): The President of the Islamic Republic of Iran congratulated the birthday of Prophet Muhammed (PBUH) to the governments and people of Islamic nations in separate messages addressed to their leaders.

Addressing the leaders of Islamic countries, Dr Hassan Rouhani emphasised, "We are proud to be among the ummah of the Prophet, who is the messenger of peace and mercy to all people around the world”.

In these congratulatory messages, the President expressed hope that by following the lofty teachings of the Prophet (PBUH), we will be followers who bring security, justice and reconciliation to the world, especially the Islamic countries.

Dr Rouhani has also wished the leaders of the Islamic nations health and success and the people of these countries prosperity and felicity.



Netanyahu Had More Than Islamic Jihad in His Crosshairs

Nov 15, 2019

The two days of bombing in the Gaza Strip put the political developments into the shade but it is impossible to disconnect the two. Netanyahu still presided over the start of the crisis wearing his two hats – that of prime minister and of defense minister. Naftali Bennett took up his new position as defense minister only in mid-morning and was somehow shunted aside in the victory celebrations – whoops, sorry, the joint press conference with the chief of staff and the head of the Shin Bet – that was held about an hour after the new minister officially took office.

There is no way of knowing how long Bennett will remain, as a member of a transitional government, in the Defense Ministry but for now he is trying to fix in the public’s mind his image as a legitimate candidate for the position in the long term as well. The perks that come with he position – bodyguards, solemn photographs with top officers and smiling selfies with soldiers, endless air time in radio and television interviews – are worth their weight in gold in political terms, as long as there is no really major military screw-up.

Throughout the operation in the south, it was apparent that Netanyahu was not taking his eye off the other ball he has in play: undermining the possibility, the chances of which looked slim in any case, of Benny Gantz and his Kahol Lavan party being able to put together a minority government with the support of the almost entirely Arab Joint List. On Wednesday, as the rockets were still zooming into Sderot and Ashkelon, the prime minister took the trouble of attending the special session of the Knesset after completing a visit with Bennett and Kochavi to the Gaza Division. Very quickly the added value of the Knesset session became clear from his perspective. In his speech, Netanyahu attacked the Arab Knesset members and accused them directly of war crimes by the Palestinian organizations in the Gaza Strip.

That same message has been echoed by his spokespeople and his sycophants over social media for several days now: All the Arab Knesset members are supporters of terror and therefore even their support from the outside for a coalition headed by Kahol Lavan would be illegitimate and forbidden. It is not by chance that recently appearances by Gantz and another former chief of staff from his party, Gabi Ashkenazi, have been interrupted by heckling from right-wing activists accusing them of being leftists and Arab-lovers.

In the meantime, another few precious days of the mandate to form a government that Gantz received from President Reuven Rivlin have been irretrievably wasted. It appears that Netanyahu’s line of argument is posing a difficult problem for Gantz. The sense of a constant security threat, if not from Gaza then from Iran, is persistently fueled by Netanyahu. In these circumstances, the public revulsion at a third election only increases. And even though every sensible person is aware that the coalition talks are revolving entirely around Netanyahu’s attempt to save himself from his legal troubles, Gantz is liable to be accused of having been the one who thwarted the establishment of a unity government and led to another election.

Gantz and Ashkenazi are not alone. The former chief of staff who served in the position after them, Gadi Eisenkot, is once again in the gunsights. The bone-cracking embrace from the right that Kochavi is getting has already been discussed here a number of times. The chief of staff justly earned praise for the functioning of the IDF during the operation this week in Gaza, even if it was sometimes accompanied by an unpleasant tinge of journalistic fawning. However, during one of the special programming broadcasts on Wednesday, someone made the astounding assertion that the army’s success under Kochavi in hitting the launch cells was in fact a correction of neglect on the part of his predecessor, Eisenkot.

Not mere neglect, but rather intentional neglect: Eisenkot’s policy, it was claimed, prohibited the army from hitting terrorist missile launchers in the previous rounds of escalation in Gaza – and all the attacks were directed only at the enemy’s offices and depots. In other words, the previous chief of staff is a kind of traitor, who by consciously ignoring the launch cells enabled the enemy to aim untrammeled at Sderot and Ashkelon.

There is hardly any need to say that this is a totally false. However, let there be no mistake here: Its aim is not only to glorify Kochavi, and more importantly to glorify Netanyahu, who appointed him to the position (and who also of course appointed Eisenkot and Gantz; in all three cases he in fact approved the defense minister’s recommendation). An additional target has also been marked out here, in a plan that often reflects the daily list of talking points from the prime minister’s official residence on Balfour Street in Jerusalem. Eisenkot cut short his demobilization furlough from the IDF, at the end of March, and because of the election campaign that was underway then, his passage through the cooling-off period required of top military officers before they enter politics was accelerated. From the moment he did that, Eisenkot has been a potential political threat that has to be thwarted.

Kochavi didn’t have time this week to keep track of the broadcasts. However, his glory will not come from complicated songs of praise on Army Radio broadcasts. And it certainly doesn’t need to be built upon systematic belittling of his predecessor’s deeds. An old military saying holds that the answer to the question of who the two worst officers in the organization are will always be: my predecessor and my replacement. Kochavi has never taken this approach in the past. There is no reason for him to enable it now.



Islamic Jihad Has Long-range Rockets. Hamas Has Long-term Goals

Nov 15, 2019

The current round of violence in the Gaza Strip started in a different way than usual and ended like all its predecessors. On Wednesday night came the first reports in the Arab media of feverish talks between Egyptian intelligence and Islamic Jihad’s leadership about a truce.

Towards midnight a heavy barrage of rockets was fired from Gaza into Israel’s central plain. A “diplomatic source” in Jerusalem stated that “Jihad is begging for a truce” and it is clear that “quiet will be answered with quiet” (which is to say that Israel wants this too) and the air force embarked on a final, extensive attack in the Gaza Strip, in which this time civilians in the town of Deir al-Balah were also killed.

On Thursday morning it was already clear that after two days of fighting the sides were heading back to the parameters of a truce. As could have been expected, not a whisper came out of Jerusalem. The politicians step out to the forefront only after successful actions by the Israel Defense Forces. They leave the official statements about the fighting to the people in uniform lest, heaven forbid, any stain of defeatism besmirch their suits and ties. It was, therefore, the Home Front Command that issued the instruction to return to routine in the southern part of the country, and then the IDF spokesman, in a telephone briefing to reporters, who in turn informed the Israeli public that the truce had indeed gone into effect. A barrage of five rockets into the south Thursday before noon could be considered part of the braking distance, the period that elapses until stability is achieved, with which we are familiar from previous rounds.

However, unlike in most of the other rounds, this time Israel can sum up the events of the past week as a relative success, even if the fulsome praise being heaped on the army now sounds excessive (and is in particular ignoring the fact that this time the IDF was up against the smaller of its two enemies in the Gaza Strip). The amy’s main partner in this outcome was the larger of the Palestinian organizations, Hamas, which for its own reasons decided not to join the battle against Israel this time.

The move by Hamas, which decided not to launch a single rocket even after the deaths of more than 30 Palestinians in air force attacks, is exceptional and important. Hamas, according to Military Intelligence, has for quite some time now been interested in moving in the direction of a prolonged truce with Israel. The elimination of the main trouble-maker, Al-Quds Brigades Commander Baha Abu al-Ata, could now lead to that. However, Israel, which does not negotiate directly with Hamas, will have to fork over the goods: significant easements in the movement of merchandise and people from the Gaza Strip, along with acceleration of large projects for rehabilitating Gaza’s collapsing infrastructures.

As usually happens, Abu al-Ata is winning a certain amount of glorification after his death. Intelligence sources in Israel describe him as a talented terrorist, very active, who never stopped strengthening his organization in the Gaza Strip and planning additional terror attacks. There are contradictory views of the extent of his ties with the Islamic Jihad leadership in Damascus, and through that leadership to Iran. On the one hand, he maintained independence, refused to submit to authority and often took steps contrary to the expectations in Damascus and Tehran. On the other hand, the salaries, raw materials and weaponry mostly came into Gaza from the outside. And in surprising proximity of time, before dawn on Tuesday morning there was an (apparently unsuccessful) attempt on the life of the No. 2 man in the Jihad command, Akram Ajouri.

What is known for certain, though, is that Abu al-Ata was marked in Israel as an obstacle standing in the way of a long-term arrangement in the Gaza Strip. The name given to the operation for his assassination is Black Belt, and its aims were defined thus by the IDF: a harsh blow to Islamic Jihad, creation of a distinction between Jihad and Hamas (by means of the latter’s refraining from joining in the rocket fire), and aspiring to a quick end, while “shaping a different security reality, on the way to a long-term arrangement.” The final authorization for the assassination was given in the cabinet meeting at the beginning of last week.



Rouhani warns Muslim countries against ‘friendship’ with Israel

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani warned Muslim countries against working with Israel in a speech aired Thursday by Iran’s IRINN TV news broadcaster.

“It is a strategic mistake in the Islamic world when some see Israel as their friend. It is very unfortunate that some Islamic countries, that are supposed to be steadfast against their enemies for the benefit of the world of Islam and the benefit of their own people, have extended a hand in friendship to Israel,” Rouhani said, according to a translation by the Middle East Media Research Institute watchdog group.

“They are even using Israel’s intelligence capabilities against the Muslim people and the resistance movements,” he said.

Israel has peace agreements with Egypt and Jordan, and has seen warming ties with Sunni-Arab Gulf states in recent years, despite the absence of formal diplomatic relations, due to shared concerns about an increasingly belligerent Iran.

Rouhani said that Iran was at the “forefront of the struggle against arrogance and the Zionist regime,” alongside Palestinians, Syrians and Iraqis, and expressed his country’s enmity toward the US.

“We must clear our minds of any doubt that America is our enemy,” Rouhani said, although he said this did not mean that Iran sought war with the US.

Iran’s relationship with the US has unraveled since US President Donald Trump withdrew in May 2018 from the landmark 2015 nuclear deal with international powers. Tehran Iran still allows United Nations inspectors to monitor its nuclear sites and hasn’t pushed its enrichment anywhere near weapons-grade levels of 90 percent.

It has violated the deal, however, by enriching uranium up to 4.5%, beyond the 3.67% allowed by the deal. Iranian officials say their stockpile of low-enriched uranium is over 500 kilograms (1,100 pounds), beyond the accord’s 300-kilogram (661-pound) limit. It also began using advanced centrifuges prohibited by the agreement and resumed enrichment at its underground Fordo facility.

Rouhani in his speech proclaimed Iran’s friendship for Saudi Arabia, despite longstanding tensions between the states, and its bond with Kuwait, the UAE, Bahrain and the Palestinian people.

“Today is not the time for Shia-phobia, Sunni-phobia, Iran-phobia, or any-country-phobia. Our phobia today should be about the arrogance and Zionism,” Rouhani said.





Inside Libya's notorious Gernada prison, home to radical Islamists

Issued on: 14/11/2019

In the fourth of FRANCE 24’s special reports from Libya, Eric de Laverne and Wissam Charaf take us on a tour inside the notorious Gernada prison.

Located 250 kilometres north east of Benghazi, this high security prison is home to several hundred radical Islamist fighters. They were mainly caught between 2014 and 2019 in a focussed campaign on the east of Libya.

Many are accused of belonging to the Islamic State group and have already spent years waiting for their trial.

For the first time, forces loyal to General Khalifar Haftar, who run the facility, have opened the prison's door to foreign media.

"We lock them up to stop the gangrene from reaching the rest of our country," says prison governor General Jalal Abdel Akim. "We have to stop their brutal attacks against our society."



Akinola Admonishes Muslims On Peace, Nation Building

By Saheed Salawu And Muhammad Sabiu

Nov 15, 2019

THE Aare Musulumi of Yorubaland, Alhaji Dawud Akinola, has urged Muslims to always tread the path of peace in all their undertakings and do their utmost best to contribute to the development of the country.

Akinola made the plea in an Eid-al Maulud message issued in Ibadan by his media aide, Akin Abolade.

“A lot of lessons can be learnt from the birth and life of Prophet Mohammed and it is important for all faithful to imbibe these lessons for purposeful living,” the Muslim leader said.

He called on Muslims operating correctional centres to do so within the ambit of the law, as, according to him, gone are the days when anybody could do just anything and go scot-free.

He stressed that the government and law enforcement agencies were monitoring activities of individuals and organisations in the country.

Akinola, therefore, cautioned owners of such facilities to properly register with the relevant government agencies and create a humane and conducive environment for the well-being of all inmates.

He commended the Oyo State government under Mr Seyi Makinde for exhibiting strong character and maturity in the handling of the issue of such a centre in Ibadan.



Islamic group issues warning to Oyo gov, Makinde

November 15, 2019

By Wale Odunsi

The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) has warned the Oyo State governor, Seyi Makinde, to stop dividing Muslims in the state.

MURIC director, Professor Ishaq Akintola, in a statement on Friday, said the Governor recently boasted that a certain Muslim leader in the state is in full support of his activities.

Akintola also accused Makinde of making derogatory remarks about a certain religious activist.

He said: “Makinde is backing the wrong horse. He lost the support of mainstream Muslim Ummah long ago and the raison d’etre is not far fetched. Makinde has become notorious as a potential serial mosque destroyer.

“The same Makinde who threatened to demolish the mosque in Iwo Road is the same man who has threatened to pull down Olore Mosque. All within six months of resuming office.

“Worse still, Makinde’s decision to snub Kunle Sanni, the undisputed bona fide generalissimo of Islamic activism in Oyo State is a manifestation of poor judgement.

“Apart from being the sitting chairman of Oyo State Muslim Community, Kunle Sanni is the rallying point for both the National Council of Muslim Youth Organisations (NACOMYO) and the Muslim Students Society of Nigeria (MSSN). Makinde must be a poor student of history and, most unfortunately for him, there is no Bola Ige to remind him how dangerous the cobra’s head can be.

“For the sake of microscopic accuracy, we affirm that Makinde’s impression of a religiously united South West is a mirage, a looming phantom. Religious proliferation among the same families in the sub-region may be true, but religious hostility is most pronounced among the religious institutions in the same area.

“We remind the governor of Oyo State that any Christian governor can embark on mosque demolition crusade and some governors love to, but it takes Solomonic wisdom to consider the pros and cons before taking a leap into a dark pit on a pitch dark night. Makinde should remove the blindfold from his eyes.

“Our message to Makinde is this: Build a new mosque as replacement before demolishing any mosque. We do not want ordinary promises because we do not trust you. We know that we cannot force you to build before you demolish. But it depends on what you want Muslim worshippers to send to you when they congregate every Friday: inna atayna or tabat yada…”



How Moslem Grammar Schools Old Students Reunite To Uplift Alma Mater

By Saheed Salawu

Nov 15, 2019

“THIS is our school, without which our history will not be complete. Since our history cannot be written without a mention of this school, then it behoves us to join hands together and develop our alma mater.”

These were the words of the chairman of the Oyo State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB), Dr Nureni Adeniran, a 1981 graduate of Moslem Grammar Schools, Odinjo, Ibadan, at the first reunion of all the class-set students of that institution.

The event of Saturday, November 9, 2019, held on the school’s premises, also marked the grand finale of the anniversary of the institution which clocked 50 on 17 January, 2019. The school – which was later to be taken over by the government – was established in 1969 by Alhaji Jaibu Kosemani Animasaun.

The gathering was also graced by all four principals of the school that has now been divided into junior schools 1 and 2 and senior schools 1 and 2. One of them is the principal of senior school 1, Alhaji Mojeed Adeleke, who is also an old student of the school. The man, who graduated in 1978, expressed optimism about the good things he and his fellow old boys and girls could do for the school.

The programme was not for merriments alone. It was used by the old boys and girls, many of whom have attained lofty heights in life, to fashion ways of changing the lot of their alma mater for the better.

According to the Oyo SUBEB boss, Dr Adeniran, Moslem Grammar School, Odinjo, his alma mater, like some other schools in the state, requires considerable attention to address its developmental challenges.

“As a matter of duty, the old students have been trying to ensure that they do something for the school. I belong to the 1981 set. I am even the chairman of that set. The 1981 graduate class has provided chairs and desks for the students and those chairs and desks are still in use. It is my belief that one after the other, the facilities required to bring about an atmosphere conducive to teaching and learning and provision of quality and standard education will be provided. The government will do what it is supposed to do to provide necessary assistance, while the old students will continue to ensure that they lend a helping hand to their alma mater and make it a better sight to behold than what it presently is.

“It is believed that this association has come to stay because virtually everybody is now trying to join the train, which is going to make it a more vibrant and virile association that can actually assist the school. Old students of different class-sets are now gathered together – seniors and juniors – to put heads together and see what we can do to uplift the school. And I know this is the kind of thing that the government is also looking forward to, because education for all is a responsibility of all. Even if the entire budget of a state is utilised for the education sector alone, it would still not be enough. Therefore, all well-meaning Nigerians, the alumni, philanthropists, non-governmental organisations, international donor agencies and all categories of people that can be of assistance should assist the schools. That is exactly what we are trying to do here.

“I am optimistic that in a few years’ time, the old students association would have made a very significant impact on the school. This is our school, without which our history will not be complete. Since our history cannot be written without a mention of this school, then it behoves us to join hands together and develop our alma mater. Regardless of our statuses or standings in the society, everybody is useful and has one contribution or the other to make to the growth of this school,” Dr Adeniran said.

The president of the association, which is christened Moslem Grammar Schools Old Students’ Association (MOGSOSA), Alhaji Abdul Lateef Bamigbade, said it might be surprising that graduates of such a relatively old institution as theirs were just coming together but what was important now was what they were determined to do to raise the standard of the school that once raised them at an impressionable period in their lives

“The first set passed out from this school 46 years ago. That implies that we have 46 sets now. But those of us who passed out from this school and have really attained maturity in terms of life’s pursuit decided to come together and put our feet on the ground that the old students’ association at the national level must stand so that we can develop our school. So, a year ago, on the 11th of November, 2018, MOGSOSA was established and the first national executive council members were sworn in and we are one year in office.

“In the past one year, we have started to lay a very solid foundation for the development of the school. We have started renovation of classrooms. We have concluded plans to do the perimeter fencing of the school because that is one the major challenges the school is facing. It has a porous environment. After today’s ceremony, the project will start in earnest. Our members in the Diaspora, on getting wind of the fact that the association has been solidly established, rose to the occasion and decided not to renovate but construct the school’s laboratories.

They have sent in the quotation and introduced us to the consultant that will handle the project. They did that on their own in order to fast-track the project. They did the ground work and handed over the project to us and promised their contribution to the completion of the project. Their initial plan was to carry out the project wholly on their own but now that they know that the old students association is in place, they decided that we should all come together. That is what we are doing as of now.

“We will continue to improve on the infrastructure of the school and by the grace of God, by November, 2020. God sparing our lives, this school will be a different environment altogether,” Alhaji Bamigbade said.

In a paper he delivered at the ceremony, the speaker, Professor Tajudeen Akanji, said alumni associations must do more than plan class reunions. According to him, not only should they promote their schools but they have a duty to find ways of providing support for their alma mater in a process of giving back

Prof. Akanji, who is the director of the Institute for Peace and Strategic Studies, University of Ibadan, underscored the need for alumni of secondary schools across the country to deploy their knowledge and experience in their areas of expertise for the better management of their alma maters.

The don, who was once a teacher at Moslem Grammar School and actually educated some of the old students present at the reunion, emphasised that “in Nigeria, where the government will continue to find it difficult to meet up with its responsibilities, alumni associations should play a vital role in providing assistance to these institutions.”



How Boko Haram went from a peaceful Islamic sect to one of the world’s deadliest terrorists in a decade

By Jideofor Adibe

November 15, 2019

Last month marked ten years since Mohammed Yusuf, founder of Boko Haram, died in police detention. His death led to the radicalization of the sect and a declaration of Jihad against the Nigerian state.

In an earlier paper on the sect I argued that before 2009, its operations were more or less peaceful, but that it was radicalized in 2009 after a confrontation with Nigerian security agencies. The police cracked down on the group setting off an armed uprising in Bauchi State, Northern Nigeria.

Opinions differ on the reasons for the government clampdown. But some believe that the government intervened based on intelligence that the group was arming itself.

The crackdown led to an uprising that soon spread to other parts of northeastern Nigeria and 800 members of the group were killed by the Nigerian security services. Yusuf was arrested during this period but died in police detention. The police claimed that he died while trying to escape.

Yusuf’s successor, Abubakar Shekau, vowed to exact revenge on the Nigerian government. A violent campaign against the state was launched. A year later in 2010, Shekau sought to make it a Jihad against Christians.

In a message he reportedly broadcast over the Internet in July 2010, Shekau was reported as saying:

It is now estimated that by 2018 Boko Haram had been linked to the deaths of over 37,000 people.

The United Nations Children’s Fund has reported that the group has kidnapped more than 1,000 children in northeastern Nigeria since 2013 to spread fear and show power. Similarly, the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre believes that over two million people have been displaced in the North East as a result of Boko Haram’s terror activities.

Boko Haram has survived thanks to its ability to reinvent itself, change tactics, and adopt different strategies. Going forward, conventional military solutions will not work on their own. Other interventions, such as de-radicalization and rehabilitation are necessary.

Fighting the sect

The government of Goodluck Jonathan (2010-2015) adopted measures to combat the group including declaring a state of emergency in the three most affected Northern states of Yobe, Borno and Adamawa. It also initiated a four-nation regional force that included Niger, Chad and Cameroon.

These measures had varying degrees of success. They would appear to work initially because Boko Haram would lay low for a while, only for it to adopt a different terror strategy.

The Jonathan government even suggested amnesty but Shekau reportedly mocked the offer, saying:

Surprisingly the Nigerian government is talking about granting us amnesty. What wrong have we done? On the contrary, it is we that should grant you pardon.

Before he issued this audio statement the military had claimed to have killed him.

Some of the factors that affected the fight against Boko Haram, especially under the Jonathan government, were pervasive conspiracy theories that played on the country’s fault lines of religion, ethnicity and regionalism.

For instance many supporters of Jonathan, a Christian from southern Nigeria, believed that Boko Haram was created by the Northern political class to undermine Jonathan’s government.

In the same vein, according to many Muslims in the North, the Jonathan government was either fighting the group halfheartedly, or propping it up in order to depopulate the North ahead of the 2015 election.

The conspiracy theories probably played a role in the Jonathan administration’s lethargic handling of the kidnapping of 276 girls from a Chibok boarding school in April 2014.

People attend a demonstration(AP PHOTO/ OLAMIKAN GBEMIGA)

Bring ’em back

What was obvious was that Boko Haram had become a menace. By the beginning of 2015, the group reportedly controlled about 20 local government areas, a territory the size of Belgium.

In 2015, when Muhammadu Buhari, a Northern Fulani Muslim and retired Army General, defeated Jonathan in the election, he gave Nigerian military chiefs three months to defeat Boko Haram. This was probably based on a wrong assumption that fighting terrorism was just like conventional warfare.

In December of that year, his government claimed it had recovered all territories previously held by Boko Haram, saying it had “technically defeated” the group. However, there has recently been an upsurge in the sect’s activities. It is now armed with better weapons and controls four of ten zones in northern Borno state near Lake Chad.

What seems obvious is that Boko Haram has shown the capacity to reinvent itself: it has evolved from being a group fighting the Nigerian state, to targeting Christians, attacking Muslims it regards as infidels and collaborators, and now, taking the fight to the military.

For instance, in December 2018, it sacked two military bases – a naval base and a multinational joint task force post – in the fishing town of Baga after a fierce battle.

The group claims that its ultimate aim is to establish a caliphate where it can rule according to its version of Islamic law.

Meanwhile, the Buhari government continues to live in denial, maintaining its posture that it has “technically defeated” the group.

Boko Haram today

Over the years, different factions have emerged. One of the earliest splinter groups was Ansaru, which emerged in 2012 after Boko Haram attacked Kano city killing about 185 civilians, most of them Muslims.

Today, Boko Haram is believed to be made up of at least two main factions, one led by Shekau and the other, known as the Islamic State West Africa Province, led by Abu Abdullah Ibn Umar al-Barnawi who is said to be one of the sons of Boko Haram founder Mohamed Yusuf. However, there appears to be two people with the same name or aliases, one of whom is not linked to Yusuf.

It is obvious that given the nature of Boko Haram, military solutions will not work on their own. A robust program of amnesty, de-radicalization and rehabilitation will have to go hand-in-hand with counterinsurgency and military solutions. All told, it will not be an easy victory for the Nigerian government.

Jideofor Adibe, Professor of International Relations and Political Science, Nasarawa State University, Keffi

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.



South Asia


Democracy in Afghanistan: Why the 2019 presidential election turnout was low

Thursday, 14 Nov 2019

Following the ouster of the Taliban regime in late 2001, Afghanistan has seen gradually declining turnout since the country first held national elections in 2004. In the first election after the overthrow of the Taliban from power, turnout was about 70 percent.

The fourth-ever presidential elections in Afghanistan’s history were held on 28 September 2019. Afghanistan’s election commission has announced that about 1.7 million Afghans cast their ballots at 85% of polling stations across the country, and it is estimated that ballots from the remaining 3,900 stations will increase the turnout to 1.9 million. Those numbers may decrease as the vetting process gets underway to discard fraudulent ballots and duplicate voter biometric data. The low turnout was confirmed by election observers and most other sources reporting from around the country.

There are several reasons why the people stayed away from the polls on the election day. First, security threats seem a major factor. Many Afghans were fearful of attacks by the Taliban who had repeatedly threatened to target polling stations. Since the election campaign began, Taliban launched several attacks on election events and candidates’ offices across the country. According to the United Nations, in total, election-related attacks killed 85 and wounded 373 civilians. Although, the low turnout figures suggest that the Taliban’s campaign in the lead-up to the election succeeded in keeping people away from the polling stations, but not to the degree that many feared.

Second, the delay of the provincial or district councils election also contributed to the low turnout.

In the past, the presidential and provincial councils elections were held together, but the election commission announced in late 2018 that that holding two separate elections on the same day would create challenges. A decision was made to hold them at different times. Although there are no survey figures yet to assess the impact of the decision, but given the importance of local politics for the electorate it is not difficult to speculate about its adverse effect on the turnout.

Third, and perhaps most important reason for the low turnout could be the lack of voter confidence in the election commission and fear of electoral fraud. Since Afghanistan’s first election in 2004, successive votes have been riddled with fraud.

In the third-ever presidential elections in Afghanistan’s history in 2014, Abdullah Abdullah and Mohammad Ashraf Ghani were the front-runners, and indeed the results of the first round of the election had Abdullah in the lead and Ghani behind him. However, since neither candidate could secure a majority, the election went into a runoff which became controversial due to widespread allegations of ‘industrial scale’ fraud. As a result, John Kerry, then United States Secretary of State, mediated the negotiations between the two final candidates. The United States mediation resulted in a power-sharing agreement between the two leading candidates, where Abdullah compromised to settle for the position of Chief Executive and Ghani became President.

Similarly, the 2018 Afghan parliamentary election was marred by allegations of fraud. Given that the parliamentary elections were held after a delay of three years in order to make due preparations, voters were entitled to expect a far better election.  The election commissioners were in the middle of finalising the results when they were replaced with the new set of commissioners. This was done after huge accusations of misconduct and mismanagement and a claim that they were unfit to manage the presidential elections. Later, in September 2019, the appellate court of the anti-corruption criminal justice center sentenced seven former commissioners of the Independent Election Commission and three commissioners of the Electoral Complaints Commission to five years imprisonment. The commissioners were convicted for committing fraud and rigging in 2018 parliamentary election.

The 2019 presidential election remains a serious matter not only for Afghanistan but also for the international community. There should be maximum emphasize on a transparent, accountable and credible process. It is crucial to avoid political deadlock and crisis of the sort that afflicted the 2014 presidential election.

The Afghan election commissions should work independently and must be transparent and accountable to the people of Afghanistan. They should review votes and process complaints, concerns and allegations of fraud from across the country. They must adhere to the electoral regulation that only those ballots where voter identity has been verified through the biometric system should be validated. Fraudulent ballots and duplicate data need to be weeded out and only the votes during the hours when the polling stations were supposed to be open must be accepted. The willingness and ability of the election commissions to do their work independently and transparently will increase public confidence in the credibility of the election results.

In such critical times, only a transparent and credible election outcome should result in Afghanistan’s new administration. Considering the fragility of the situation in the country, not just the stability of Afghanistan, but also the trust of the Afghans in election and democracy is highly linked to the credibility and transparency of the election outcome. A transparent and credible election will promote democracy in Afghanistan.



10 Taliban militants killed, detained in Special Forces raids and airstrikes

Friday, 15 Nov 2019

A series of airstrikes of killed 6 Taliban militants in southern Kandahar and Helmand provinces of Afghanistan, the military officials said Friday.

The officials further added an airstrike killed 4 Taliban militants and destroyed a small cache of weapons in Maiwand district of Kandahar.

A similar airstrike killed 2 Taliban militants in Nahr-e Saraj district of Helmand province, the officials said, adding that an airstrike in Rodat district of Nangarhar destroyed a small cache of weapons of ISIS Khurasan group.

Meanwhile, the Special Forces arrested 4 Taliban militants during a raid in Pashtun Zarghun district of Herat province.

The officials also added that the Special Forces destroyed a small cache of weapons of Taliban in Maiwand district of Kandahar province.



Russia considers release of senior Haqqani Network leaders a ‘gesture of goodwill’

Friday, 15 Nov 2019

Russia considers the planned release of senior Haqqani Network leaders a ‘gesture of goodwill’ from the Afghan government.

“We have repeatedly said that we welcome any real moves by the opposing forces in the Afghan conflict aimed at ending the armed confrontation and launching a peace process in Afghanistan,” Maria Zakharova, a spokesperson for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Russia was quoted as saying in a report by TASS.

Zakharova further added “Within this context, we consider the release from prisons of three leaders of the Haqqani network connected with the Taliban movement (outlawed in Russia), as a gesture of good will from the Afghan government that will help advance the intra-Afghan peace process.”

President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani on Tuesday announced the Afghan government’s intention regarding the conditional release of three senior Haqqani network leaders including Anas Haqqani, Haji Mali Khan and Hafiz Rashid.

Meanwhile, latest reports indicate that the planned swap of prisoners aimed at releasing the two American University lecturers, has not taken place so far.



More ISIS militants and their family members surrender to Afghan forces in Nangarhar

Thursday, 14 Nov 2019

More militants of ISIS Khurasan, the offshoot of terror group in Afghanistan, surrendered to Afghan forces in eastern Nangarhar province of Afghanistan.

According to a statement released by the provincial government, a group of 4 ISIS militants handed over themselves to the Afghan forces in Achin district.

The statement further added that the ISIS militants also handed over the family members of themselves and their comrades to the Afghan forces, including 13 women and 22 children.

Citing the 201st Silab Corps authorities in the East, the provincial government said the Afghan forces have significantly suppressed the terror group in Nangarhar, forcing the militants of the terror group to surrender.

The Afghan army authorities have said the Afghan forces would continue their operations until they fully clear Nangarhar of ISSI militants.

This comes as the Ministry of Defense on Wednesday announced that more than 120 ISIS militants and their family members surrendered to the Afghan forces in Nangarhar, days after dozens of militants of the terror group surrendered in this province.



NATO Secretary General emphasizes on importance of the training of Afghan forces during U.S. visit

Thursday, 14 Nov 2019

The NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg emphasized on importance of the training of Afghan forces during his visit to the United States.

In his opening remarks in the meeting of Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS in Washington, Stoltenberg said congratulated the U.S. Special Forces for the successful action in eliminating ISIS leader Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi, calling it a milestone in joint efforts against international terrorism.

Stoltenberg hailed the significant progress the coalition has made in the fight against terrorism.

However, he said the fight is not over as ISIS is still a threat. “The situation in Northern Syria remains fragile and difficult. It is well known that there are differences between NATO Allies when it comes to the situation there.”

In regards to the importance of training the Afghan forces, Stoltenberg said “We train and advise Afghan security forces. To help them fight terrorism and to ensure that ISIS does not gain the foothold in Afghanistan that they lost in Iraq and in Syria.”

This comes as the Afghan forces have also made significant progress in suppressing the loyalists of the terror group in eastern Nangarhar province during the recent weeks.

Dozens of ISIS militants have handed themselves over to Afghan forces during the recent days together with their family members and the relatives of their comrades.




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