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Islamic World News ( 27 Jul 2017, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Those Killing In Name of Islam Not True Muslims, Says Iraq FM in Mumbai

New Age Islam News Bureau

27 Jul 2017

Results for queries about Islam and Muslims on Google have been updated amid public pressure



 Those Killing In Name of Islam Not True Muslims, Says Iraq FM in Mumbai

 Public Caning Detractors Hostile to Islamic Laws: Federal Territories Mufti

 Nearly 40 Afghan Soldiers Lost Lives, 30 Wounded In Kandahar Attack

 Muslim World Needs To Prevent Brain Drain to West, President Erdoğan Says

 Google Updates Islam-Related Search Results To Curb Hate Speech

 Thousands of British Muslims Gather To Denounce Isis and Call For 'Peaceful Caliphate



 Those Killing In Name of Islam Not True Muslims, Says Iraq FM in Mumbai

 Mediate In Al-Aqsa Row: Palestine to India

 NIA Declares All-Women Dukhtaran-E-Millat Terror Outfit for Supporting Hafiz Saeed, Asking J&K Cops to Revolt

 Hurriyat Officials Being Used As Atms? Terrorists Even Threaten Separatists for Money, Reveal Documents

 Pakistani spies call up Indian officials: Govt

 Won't relent in search for 39 Indians missing in Iraq: Sushma


Southeast Asia

 Public Caning Detractors Hostile to Islamic Laws: Federal Territories Mufti

 Malaysian Muslims Overseas Should Portray Beauty of Islam

 Hadi's flawed understanding of Islamic governance

 Malaysia to host Qatar, Saudi leaders by year-end

 Indonesia Will Help Refugees, but 'Won't Host Them Forever,' Says Immigration Office


South Asia

 Nearly 40 Afghan Soldiers Lost Lives, 30 Wounded In Kandahar Attack

 Afghan Forces Retake Control of Taywara District from Taliban

 Japanese-Bangladeshi Hindu Convert Masterminded Dhaka Terror Attack: Report

 Man gets 60 years for killing Bangladeshi taxi driver in California

 Airstrikes pound ISIS hideouts in Nangarhar province of Afghanistan

 Deadly truck bombing foiled in Kabul city



 Muslim World Needs To Prevent Brain Drain to West, President Erdoğan Says

 Turkey's Top Religious Official Slams Gülenists for Exploiting Religion

 Muslim Cleric Wants Cameras Removed From Contested Jerusalem Shrine

 Turkey’s Erdogan says Israel damaging Jerusalem’s “Islamic character”

 India’s hardball tactic with Iran backfires

 Netanyahu threatens to shut Al-Jazeera Jerusalem office 'for inciting violence'

 Yemen’s army retakes control of camp Khalid from Houthi militias

 Red Cross urges Western countries to aid halting Saudi war on Yemen


North America

 Google Updates Islam-Related Search Results To Curb Hate Speech

 Defeated Anti-Muslim Amendment a Sign of Trump’s Normalizing of Islamophobia

 US Muslims view Trump as unfriendly: Poll



 Thousands of British Muslims Gather To Denounce Isis and Call For 'Peaceful Caliphate

 UK’s Response to Terror Attacks Risks ‘Alienating’ Muslim Community: Report

 Court orders Dutch govt to finance new Islamic school

 France questions legality of new US bans on Iran, Russia, N Korea

 Prominent German radical convicted of backing Islamic terror

 Priest's Killers Failed To Divide France, Says Macron

 Yemen grappling with ‘vicious’ combination of worst crises: UN


Arab World

 Iraq: After Islamic State, Mosul Rebuilds Monuments, Mosques and Society

 Terrorists Control Less than 10sq/km of Area in Arsal, Hezbollah on Verge of Great Victory

 Raqqa: 29 civilians dead in US-led air strikes

 Egypt security forces kill four suspected militants: Ministry

 Syrian Army Wins back More Territories from ISIL in Eastern Homs

 Security reinforcements sent to Lebanese Christian town of Al-Qaa

 One killed as Saudi forces shell homes in Shia town

 Minor recovery in Aleppo shows battered Syrian state

 Clashes rock Syria truce zone as regime air strikes rebel-held areas

 Nasrallah says Arsal operation decided solely by Hezbollah



 Terrorists Will Be Annihilated With the Power of Unity: Punjab Chief Minister

 Missing Pakistani officials recovered in Afghanistan

 CII’s opinion sought on petition against death by hanging

 Religious scholar shot dead in Charsadda



 Algiers Police Bust Terrorist Group Affiliated With Daesh

 'Boko Haram kills 2 gendarmes' in Cameroon attack

 Two Moroccan peacekeepers killed in C. Africa attack - UN

 Boko Haram kidnaps 10 researchers, kills soldiers in Nigeria

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau




Those Killing In Name of Islam Not True Muslims, Says Iraq FM in Mumbai

July 27, 2017

TERRORISTS who raise slogans of Islam but kill Muslims are not true practitioners of Islam, said the foreign minister of Iraq, Ibrahim al Jaafari, who is visiting Mumbai. Addressing a gathering at Najam Baug in Dongri on Wednesday, Jaafari said killing children and bombing religious structures such as temples and churches is not true Islam.

Jaafari was in the city to pay a visit to the Dawoodi Bohra mausoleum in Bhendi Bazaar. He also paid his respects at the graves of leaders of the Dawoodi Bohra community.

On the 39 Indians alleged to have been abducted by the ISIS three years ago in Iraq, Jaafari said his country had no “substantial evidence” on their wherabouts.

The Iraq minister arrived in New Delhi on Monday, where he met External Affairs minister Sushma Swaraj.

While speaking on the need of unity within the global Muslim community, Jaafari said, “ Unity of global Muslims is a message that exists in the Holy Quran and in the teachings of of the Prophet. Despite the differences that may exist between different people in the way they perceive the world with their minds, if they come together with their hearts, lasting peace and unity can be achieved.”

Muslims, according to the leader, should look at the welfare of all people regardless of cast or creed. “Even the great Prophet Muhammad propagated love, trust and knowledge. That is the true meaning of being a Muslim,” he added.

The minister expressed his pleasure over the Saifee Burhani Upliftment Trust’s redevelopment project of Bhendi Bazaar, which will give the area a facelift. He also said he hoped that the Dawoodi Bohra community cultural centres he visited in Mumbai would remain venues for the spread of ideals in the true spirit of Islam.

“The Iraqi government has always extended the utmost help in accommodating some 25,000 Bohra pilgrims each year in Najaf and Karbala. We hope to maintain this harmonious relationship,” Sadiq bhaisaheb Jamaluddin, Operating Trustee for Fayze Husaini, which facilitates pilgrimage to holy sites and mausoleums for members of the Bohra community, said.



Public Caning Detractors Hostile to Islamic Laws: Federal Territories Mufti

July 26, 2017

KUALA LUMPUR, July 26 -- The Federal Territories mufti has defended Kelantan’s move to implement Shariah caning in public, claiming the punishment was beneficial especially when performed in the open.

In a brief statement, mufti Datuk Zulkifli Mohamad also accused critics of Shariah caning as prejudiced against the Islamic criminal justice system, encouraging them to first gain full understanding from authoritative Islamic sources.

“We urge for parties who do not agree with the implementation of Shariah caning punishment to research and verify first with an authoritative Islamic body before releasing statements that are unfair and causing division,” he said.

“We regret that some who criticise are from the intelligentsia, but have failed to get the real picture on implementation of Shariah caning, and are being prejudiced against anything linked to the Islamic criminal justice system.”

The same article also referred to the Quranic verse 24:2 as scriptural evidence that public caning is mandated in Islam.

It also claimed the main benefit from public displays of canings was to provide education and serve as a lesson, by instilling fear that would discourage the commission of the same vice.

“This shows that caning was commanded not to cause hurt, but the benefits include being able to prevent the offender from continuing his act,” said the article, pointing at Saudi Arabia as a modern role model when it comes to such punishment.

The Kelantan legislative assembly earlier this month amended the state’s Shariah Criminal Procedure Enactment 2002 to allow religious offenders in the PAS-governed state to be caned publicly.

Kelantan’s adoption of public caning also coincided with a move in the opposite direction in Indonesia’s ultra conservative Acheh region.

The Human Rights Commission of Malaysia has since denounced the decision, saying the federal government has a duty to ensure that human rights are preserved in every state of the federation.

In response, Zulkifli today congratulated Kelantan and other states for their commitment in planning and implementing Islamic criminal laws “fairly and professionally”.

“We hope every party can cooperate in implementing Islamic laws so the benefits in the form on peace, success and safety can be enjoyed by all,” he said.



Nearly 40 Afghan soldiers lost lives, 30 wounded in Kandahar attack

Jul 26 2017

Nearly 40 soldiers of the Afghan National Army (ANA) forces have lost their lives in an attack by the Taliban insurgents in southern Kandahar province of Afghanistan.

According to the local government officials, the incident took place late on Tuesday night in the vicinity of Khakriz district.

A local official speaking on the condition of anonymity confirmed the attack was carried out on a base of the Afghan army forces.

The official further added that 40 Afghan soldiers lost their lives and 30 others were wounded in the attack.

In the meantime, the Ministry of Defense of Afghanistan, confirmed the attack however it did not confirm the casualties toll as described by the local officials.

The Ministry of Defense said at least 26 soldiers lost their lives in the attack and more than 10 others were wounded.

The Taliban insurgents claimed responsibility behind the attack and claimed that scores of soldiers were killed or wounded.

Kandahar has been among the relatively calm provinces in southern Afghanistan during the recent years but the security situation of the province, particularly, the remote districts have started to deteriorate during the recent months and after the Taliban militants increased their focus on key southern provinces after they launched their spring offensive in April this year.



Muslim world needs to prevent brain drain to West, President Erdoğan says

July 27, 2017

The Muslim world has been losing intelligent students to the West as part of brain drains, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said on July 26, stressing that they should find ways to prevent the emigration from happening.

“We need to carry measures that will prevent this brain drain, which is causing our science world to become a desert, into effect as soon as possible,” Erdoğan said in an event on higher education in the Muslim world at the Beştepe Presidential Complex in Ankara.

Saying that there were only a few universities from the Muslim world among the top 500 universities in the world, he added that the brightest youths were moving to Western countries.

“On top of that, we are transferring very serious amounts of money to Western countries for this. After these students complete their academic studies, we naturally expect them to return to their countries and serve their own people. But most of the time, those finishing their schools do not return to their homelands, but stay where they received education,” he noted.

“This situation is definitely affected by reasons like not being able to give up on the life standards they got used to. But I believe that we, as heads of states, need to think of the real reasons that distance our youth from ourselves,” Erdoğan added.

Erdoğan said that while OECD countries allocated 5.2 percent of their national budget to education, this number could not even reach 1 percent in the Muslim world, adding that education was one of the priorities of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP).

“Like in every society in the Muslim world, we stay away from issues that demand endeavor and patience. If we are unsuccessful in raising a generation that asks, questions, and has ambitions for the future, a generation running after temporary whims emerges. We face the fact that nations that cannot develop unique educations systems cannot determine their future,” he noted.

“The most important responsibility falls on the shoulders of our universities. Universities are the production centers of science and unique and free thoughts. Every kind of idea that is not contaminated with terror and that does not encourage violence has a place and should have a place in the university,” he said. 

During his address, Erdoğan also asked Council of Higher Education (YÖK) president Yekta Saraç to make the Mevlana exchange program – which aims to promote the exchange of students and academic staff between Turkish and foreign universities – a more advanced one by adding more countries, especially those in the Muslim world.

“My request from the YÖK president is that he becomes a pioneer in starting joint and double degree programs between 15 of our universities and Muslim countries’ universities that joined this meeting,” he said.



Google updates Islam-related search results to curb hate speech

July 27, 2017

Results for queries about Islam and Muslims on Google have been updated amid public pressure to lessen disinformation from hate groups on the world's largest search engine.

However, activists who have worked to bring about the changes say more work remains.

In the past, users on Google seeking information about the religion or its adherents would be presented prominently with what many criticized as propaganda from hate groups.

That has recently changed.

Google's first page results for searches of terms such as "jihad", "shariah" and "taqiyya" now return mostly reputable explanations of the Islamic concepts. Taqiyya, which describes the circumstances under which a Muslim can conceal their belief in the face of persecution, is the sole term to feature a questionable website on the first page of results.

Google did not confirm to Anadolu Agency the changes but said it is constantly updating its algorithms.

The search giant referred the agency to a recent blog post in which it said it was working to push back on what it called "offensive or clearly misleading content".

"To help prevent the spread of such content for this subset of queries, we've improved our evaluation methods and made algorithmic updates to surface more authoritative content," it said.

Combatting Islamophobia

One leading activist in favor of Google modifying its results told Anadolu Agency he noticed the updated search results and thanked the company for its efforts but said "much still needs to be done".

Imam Omar Suleiman, who has been at the forefront of efforts to combat misleading information about his faith on the web, argued that Google and companies like it have a responsibility to combat "hate-filled Islamophobia" similar to how they work to suppress extremist propaganda from groups like Daesh and al-Qaeda.

Suleiman said Google should differentiate between "criticism of Islam and hate-filled Islamophobia", emphasizing the religion should not be infringed upon.

"Google does not need to silence criticism of Islam and honest discussions about Islam, but heavily funded hate groups that are able to work the SEOs to get their websites showing up on the first, second page-I think that's deeply problematic," the popular imam said, referring to search engine optimization -- the way in which websites are able to improve their placement in search engine results.

The task of sorting out legitimate criticism or debate about Islam from misleading information will not be easy, particularly in societies that value freedom of speech -- a fact Suleiman, who is the founder and president of the Yaqeen Institute for Islamic Research, acknowledged.

Google told Anadolu Agency it does not seek to remove content from its platform simply because it is unsavory or unpopular, but does its best to prevent hate speech from appearing.

One way it is working to improve on the effort is by providing users with a mechanism in autofill suggestions that would allow users to alert the company when an offensive term appears.

Amid a nationwide increase in hate crimes targeting Muslims, the effort to combat misinformation is more imperative than ever, Muslim group said.

Hate crimes against Muslims

The Council on American-Islamic Relations, the U.S.'s largest Muslim advocacy group, said it tracked a 584 percent increase in anti-Muslim hate crimes from 2014 to 2016.

The group is not the only one to find such numbers. The Southern Poverty Law Center tracks hate incidents and groups in the U.S. and said it found hate groups increasing in number for the second consecutive year in 2016, fueled largely by a near-tripling of anti-Muslim groups.

"The growth has been accompanied by a rash of crimes targeting Muslims," the center said in its annual report.

Information people receive from a variety of sources -- television, radio and the Internet -- no doubt plays a role in fomenting hatred among some of those who perpetrate attacks but could also be used to stop them.

"We are seeing a rise in hate crimes towards Muslims, and there is a direct connection between this demonization of Islam and Muslims and the hate crimes that are being perpetuated against Muslims in the United States," Suleiman said.

Still, he maintained that such voices should not be censored but "should not be featured prominently as authoritative voices."

Suleiman added: "I don't think Google has a responsibility to portray Muslims positively. I think Google has a responsibility to weed out fear-mongering and hate groups but I don't want Google to silence critique of Islam, or critique of Muslims, or critique of Judaism, or Black Lives Matter -- whatever it is.

"It's a fair ask that when someone goes to Google they are not being presented with information from hate groups, and representatives of the faith, as well as respectable academics... as if they're all on the same playing field.



Thousands of British Muslims Gather To Denounce Isis and Call For 'Peaceful Caliphate

July 27, 2017

Tens of thousands of Muslims will denounce terrorism and pledge allegiance to a “peaceful caliphate” at a major faith gathering in Hampshire.

Organisers expect more than 30,000 Ahmadi Muslims from around 100 countries to attend the three-day event - known as the Jalsa Salana - to challenge misinterpretations of Islam.

Britain’s largest Muslim convention will open on Friday with a traditional sermon and on Saturday, the sect’s leader, Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad, will deliver his keynote speech to 15,000 Muslim women.

He has previously called for mosques to be more open and transparent and for authorities to monitor places of worship to tackle extremism. 

Speaking ahead of the gathering, he urged his fellow Muslims to win “hearts through the power of love, grace and compassion”.

“The only thing the terrorists are achieving is to completely violate the teachings of the Holy Quran and of the Holy Prophet Muhammad," he said.

“Let it be clear that they are not practising Islam, rather it seems as though they have invented their own hate-filled and poisonous religion.”

The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community (AMC) said the event showed it was “taking a stand” against terrorism in the wake of attacks in London and Manchester earlier this year.

On a visit to London in March, the caliph condemned the Westminster terror attack, calling it a “barbaric atrocity" and an “affront to the teachings of Islam”.

Farhad Ahmad, an imam from AMC who is helping to coordinate the gathering, said the Union flag would be raised along with the Ahmadi flag as a symbol of integration.

“People often ask 'where are the moderate Muslims condemning these attacks?’” he said.

“Here are 38000 Muslims men, women and children doing just that whilst displaying big banners of 'love for all hatred for none' for three days.”

Established in 1889 in India, the AMC is led by a spiritual caliphate, with 10 million followers around the world. Most live in India and Pakistan but around 35,000 live in the UK.

Ahmadis have been persecuted throughout history by orthodox Muslim groups.

In 1974, Pakistan's first elected Prime Minister, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, introduced an amendment to the constitution that ruled the sect non-Muslims.

The community moved its headquarters to the UK in response to the new law, but continues to face persecution in countries such as Bangladesh, Malaysia and Indonesia, where the country’s top Islamic body declared the group “deviants” in 2008.





Mediate in Al-Aqsa row: Palestine to India

Jul 27, 2017

NEW DELHI: Palestine wants India to intervene to stop excessive security measures imposed by Israel on worshippers at Al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem.

In a rare press conference, Adnan M A Abualhayjaa, Palestine ambassador to India said on Wednesday that the Indian government with close ties to Israel should persuade them to stop impositions resulting in the worst clashes in Jerusalem in years.

"India was leading other countries to support Palestinian people's rights. What we are expecting is that the government continues its positive attitudes," Abualhayjaa said. "With the relation between this government and Israel, I could say that they could interfere in the situation, especially when they knew very well what is the Palestinian cause and what are their rights in the occupied Palestinian territories," he said.

Stressing that President Mahmoud Abbas and Modi had productive discussions during Abbas' recent visit to India, the envoy said Modi skipping Ramallah on his recent trip to Israel would have no impact on India-Palestinian ties.



NIA declares all-women Dukhtaran-e-Millat terror outfit for supporting Hafiz Saeed, asking J&K cops to revolt

Ishfaq Naseem

Jul, 26 2017

Srinagar: The National Investigation Agency (NIA) has termed Dukhtaran-e-Millat, an all-woman outfit based in Kashmir as a "terrorist" organisation for openly supporting banned terrorist Hafiz Muhammad Saeed and asking the Jammu and Kashmir Police personnel to revolt against India and join Kashmir’s "freedom struggle".

The announcement has come days after NIA registered a case against separatist leaders in Srinagar stating that they have been “acting in connivance with active militants of proscribed terrorist organisations like Hizb-ul-Mujahideen, Dukhtaran-e-Millat, Lashkar-e-Taiba and others for raising, receiving and collecting funds through various illegal means, including hawala, for funding separatist and terrorist activities in Jammu and Kashmir and for causing disruption in the Valley by way of pelting stones on the security forces, burning schools, damaging public property and waging war against India".

According to police officials, Dukhtaran-e-Millat and its chairperson, Asiya Andrabi, who is under judicial custody for over the last two and half months and has been detained under the Public Safety Act (PSA) for anti-India activities, has been preaching a more hardline policy on Kashmir and even showering praises on banned terrorist Saeed even though other separatist organisations have been stressing on starting a dialogue on Kashmir and emphasising on political engagement on Kashmir.

Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP), Srinagar, Imtiyaz Ismail Parray, said that the PSA detention orders were issued by the district magistrate. Police officials said that the order was based on a police report over her involvement in anti-India activities.

Most recently, after some Indian armed forces personnel beat up Jammu and Kashmir Police personnel in Kashmir after an Amarnath yatra convoy was not allowed to travel in night hours, the organisation asked the Jammu and Kashmir policemen to give up their jobs and fight for Kashmir’s freedom movement.

In a statement released after the incident, Dukhtaran-e-Millat had said, "The ruthless thrashing of the police personnel by the Indian army at Gund, Ganderbal must serve as an eye-opener to the Kashmiri cops and that they should now stop helping India maintain its illegal control over Jammu and Kashmir. Like the puppet government, the police too is run by Indian agencies and this police force, like Indian armed forces and agencies, is equally responsible for brutalising Kashmiris.”

Dukhtaran-e-Millat general secretary Nahida Nasreen had said, "The policemen must revolt against India and if they do so, it will be a major step towards our freedom."

Nasreen had also criticised the Indian government for not allowing prayers at Jamia Masjid in Srinagar stating that “banning the prayers at the Jamia mosque proves that India is against Muslims and Islam".

"The restrictions around religious places is a proof how these Hindu rulers hate Indian Muslim in general and Kashmiri Muslim in particular,” she had said. The ban was applied following apprehensions by the police that the people may take out protests.

Earlier, Nasreen demanded that Indian armed forces including, the Indian Army, Border Security Force (BSF) and the paramilitary Central Reserve Police Force, troops besides the Jammu and Kashmir Police should be declared as “terrorist forces at international level as their only aim is to kill, maim and oppress the innocent people of Kashmir".

Dukhtaran-e-Millat's ideology

An all-women outfit, Dukhtaran-e-Millat was formed in 1987, and considers Kashmir as a “long pending dispute that has come into existence’’ through implementation of the “two nation theory".

The Dukhtaran-e-Millat holds the view that in 1947 when the Partition took place, Kashmir had to become a part of Pakistan due to its Muslim majority status, however, India never "allowed it to happen".

Dukhtaran-e-Millat legitimises use of armed means for the settlement of the Kashmir problem espousing that Kashmiris are fighting for their freedom and existence using different means including political and armed ones, and the people have the right to do so under international laws.

The organisation has been demanding that there was no way for finding any new solution to the Kashmir problem, and is asking that the United Nations should pressurise India for implementing its resolutions in the state of Jammu Kashmir. As per Dukhtaran-e-Millat, it is envisaged in the charter of the United Nations that an "occupied nation, for its freedom and existence, can fight at any level using any medium".

Who is Ayesha Andrabi?

According to the South Asia Terrorism Portal, the all-women outfit has grabbed attention due to controversial remarks made by Andrabi, particularly in the context of developments since year 2000.

Andrabi has been frequently in and out of prisons since 2015, when no curbs were placed on separatist leaders on their movements. Her husband Qasim Faktoo is in jail for over two decades after he was convicted in the murder case of a Kashmiri Pandit as an Hizbul Mujahideen militant. Fakhtoo, who was awarded life imprisonment has denied committing the murder.

The High Court Bar Association (HCBA) in Srinagar has been rooting for the release of Fakhtoo, who has already served 24 years in prison. Bashir Sidique, general secretary, HCBA, said, "The international human rights organisations should ensure justice for Qasim Fakhtoo in releasing him from the prison".

Andrabi has been praising militants for killing government forces and even hailed people who had been converging at encounter sites and helping militants rescue from the cordons as "brave".

Andrabi has been stressing that Saeed is spreading the message of Islam and was working hard against the "evil designs of Indian agencies in Balochistan to disintegrate Pakistan". "The Islamic work of Saeed has not gone down well with the anti-Islam America and India is America’s partner in anti Islam agenda," she said. On 14 August, 2015, Andrabi addressed a rally which was organised by Saeed in Pakistan on the phone, and had also celebrated the Pakistan’s Independence Day at her Srinagar residence.

Full report at:



Hurriyat officials being used as ATMs? Terrorists even threaten Separatists for money, reveal documents

Jul 27, 2017

NEW DELHI: Letters written to Hurriyat members on Hizbul Mujahideen and Lashkar-e-Taiba letterheads, recovered by NIA during raids, reveal that terror funding in the Valley could be a two-way phenomenon, with LeT and HM cadres turning to separatists for finances from time to time.

The demands made on Hurriyat separatists by local LeT and Hizbul terrorists, citing dire need of finances on account of illness of fellow cadres and other problems, range from a few thousand rupees to lakhs and include mobile phones as well.

Several Hurriyat members are currently in NIA custody for allegedly funding civil unrest in Kashmir through active financial support from terror groups in Pakistan.

Perhaps the most interesting of these letters, copies of which are in TOI's possession, is the one from one Mohd Amin Bhat, demanding Rs 5 lakh from Ayaz Akbar Khandey, a close aide of Tehreek-e Hurriyat chief Syed Ali Shah Geelani.

The letter, written on 'The Jammu & Kashmir Hizbul Mujahideen' letterhead, says Rs 5 lakh is urgently needed to tide over the immediate financial crunch arising out of demonetisation. It starts as a "request", saying how extinguishing of old high-denomination currency has stopped "payments from outside", but ends on a threatening note, asking Khandey to turn in the money in four days or face consequences that would extend to his family. Khandey is among the seven separatists arrested by NIA on Monday.

The post-demonetisation demand note in Urdu, carrying the signature and stamp of HM, when translated into English, reads: "We are in dire need of money at this time as we are not getting payments from outside due to present (security) situation and demonetisation. Your money will be returned on February 30. Inshallah we will wait for you for four days. If you do anything, then you'll be responsible for yourself and family".

NIA recovered another HM letter, written by area commander Burkan on March 17, 2006, to Shabir Shah's aide Nayeem Khan, who is now in NIA custody. It says: "We are in dire need of Rs 7,000 or Rs 10,000. Also if you can leave a mobile phone with us...".

A third letter written by LeT's J&K unit to Hurriyat members, stated: "...Our friend is unwell and he is in dire need of Rs 5,000. We hope you won't disappoint us...". This letter was recovered from Shahid-ul-Islam, spokesperson of Mirwaiz Umer Farooq-led moderate Hurriyat Conference.

It is written on LeT letterhead, mentions the Muzaffarabad "branch office" apart from a Karachi address, and carries the mobile number and email address of the LeT operative.

Full report at:



Pakistani spies call up Indian officials: Govt

Jul 27, 2017

Posing as senior defence and district administration officers, Pakistani intelligence officials are contacting Indian officials to gather information on troop deployment along the border, the government said in reply to a Rajya Sabha question on Wednesday.

"Pakistani intelligence agencies used to call up officials of post offices, railways, state revenue (patwaris), schools, security personnel and public representatives, etc," he said, adding that the officials are regularly sensitised not to pass on information inadvertently.



Won't relent in search for 39 Indians missing in Iraq: Sushma

Mohua Chatterjee

Jul 26, 2017

NEW DELHI: External affairs minister Sushma Swaraj told Lok Sabha on Wednesday that "it's a sin" to presume the 39 Indians missing in Iraq are dead and that the government will continue its search for them till there is any evidence on whether they are dead or alive.

The minister also informed the House that she has asked Iraqi authorities to get back with information only if that is "backed by evidence."

The 39 Indians missing in Iraq were kidnapped in Mosul three years ago. Swaraj sought the permission of the House to continue the search and also said that if any member wants to tell the families of the missing that they are dead, it should that person's responsibility if the person returns later.

"This government won't end the search for our missing citizens until we have proof they are not alive," the Union minister said in the Lok Sabha on Wednesday, adding that those who say she is "lying" or "hiding the truth" about those missing are wrong.

As the House stalled its protests that began since the morning and agreed to hear the clarifications on the issue after alleging that Swaraj had misled the House, Swaraj said, "I have never misled. I want to ask the opposition what benefit will I get by misleading. What benefit my government get by misleading the people on the issue," she asked.

The minister cited the case of Vietnam war and said the US still considers 'missing' its armed forces personnel who haven't been found since the Vietnam war ended back in the 1970s. And she plans to do the same with the missing Indians, she insisted.

"It is very easy for me to say that the 39 Indians are dead. No one including their families will ask me anything after that," Swaraj said, adding that she isn't planning to do that.

"We don't have any proof of them being alive. However, we didn't get any corpses, blood trail or any list published by the ISIS either which could have confirmed that they are dead," Swaraj said in Lok Sabha.

The minister was echoing statements made by Iraq two days ago.

On July 24, Iraq too said, it has no "substantial evidence" on whether the 39 Indians are alive or dead. It did confirm though that the prison at Badush, the Indians' last known location, has been demolished by terror group ISIS.

"We had six sources claiming that the missing Indians were alive... I have no proof that Indians are dead... I will not say that, what if I say they are dead and one of them is found alive," asked Swaraj.

The government is doing all it can and more to find out the fate of those missing, the minister added.

"On July 9, as soon as Iraq said Mosul is free, I immediately called the minister who was in Indore. He then immediately returned to Delhi and on the morning of the 10th itself he took a flight to Mosul and stayed for four days," Swaraj said, referring to minister VK Singh.

Reiterating that "it's a crime" to declare the Indians are dead, she also said there's no reason for her to believe a man called Harjit Masih, who escaped from ISIS's clutch in 2014.

Full report at:



Southeast Asia


Malaysian Muslims Overseas Should Portray Beauty Of Islam

26 July 2017

KUALA LUMPUR, July 26 – Malaysian Muslim communities overseas need to always show refined character, which could indirectly portray the best image and beauty of Islam, said the Raja Muda of Perlis, Tuanku Syed Faizuddin Putra Jamalullail.

Tuanku Syed Faizuddin, who is also head of the Perlis State Islamic Religious and Malay Customs Council (MAIPs), said they should always set good examples, especially in Muslim-minority countries, so that Islam continued to be viewed highly.

According to a MAIPs media release, the Perlis Crown Prince had said this when Kampung Utara Melbourne (KUM) Association chairman Jafni Wahid  had an audience with him at the association’s premises, today.

Jafni then  briefed Tuanku Syed Faizuddin on the association which is made of about 100 Malay families from Malaysia and Singapore who are residing in north Melbourne, Australia.

The Perlis Raja Muda invited the KUM community to participate in the Sunnah Village programme held each year in Perlis and to hold a special workshop to share their experience and expertise, especially in entrepreneurship.

In conjunction with the event, MAIPs also contributed RM6,000 to KUM, which carries out various activities to foster “ukhuwah” (brotherhood) among the Malay Muslims in Australia, particularly in Melbourne.

KUM is a non-profit Malay Muslim organisation established in 2009 and gazetted as an association in April, last year.

Since established, it had invited a number of religious scholars from Malaysia including Perlis Mufti Datuk Dr Mohd Asri Zainul Abidin and Dr Rozaimi Ramle to give talks.



Hadi's flawed understanding of Islamic governance

July 27, 2017

Islam is "deen", which in Arabic means a total way of life. But a total way of life does not mean it must be totalitarian.

This is the fundamental mistake of all Islamic political parties in the world. By seeking totality, they confuse what is indeed holistic and complete with totalitarianism.

The latter, in a sense, is "shirk", which in Arabic means a polytheistic view of Islam.

When one creates a system of government that is totalitarian - even when the actual noble intention is to seek a total way of life that is compatible with every aspect of Islam - the government will be more important than God Himself.

Take certain countries in the Middle East which purport to be Islamic. Their systems are completely rigid, and there is no rule of law except rule by decree or by the state. What the state says is totalitarian and final.

In such a state, where is the concept of mercy, compassion, civility and empathy that a true Islamic government is required to have?

In fact, mercy and compassion are so important that of all the 144 chapters in the Quran, which was revealed to humankind as a mercy to all, the opening chapter is "In the name of Allah Most Merciful and Most Compassionate" which in prayer is rendered as "Bismillah Al Rahman Al Rahim".

The one chapter that does not begin with "Bismillah Al Rahman Al Rahim", is a chapter where Muslims were cornered, and were given the permission to go to war as a means of self-defense. Other than this proviso, Allah is mercy embodied and revealed in the Al Quran.

Full report at:



Malaysia to host Qatar, Saudi leaders by year-end


July 27, 2017

KUALA LUMPUR, July 27 — Malaysia will host both the Qatari Emir and the Saudi Arabian Crown Prince by the end of the year, despite the diplomatic crisis involving both countries, Defence Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein said today.

In a press conference in the Parliament building today, Hishammuddin, who is also special affairs minister, said the visits would showcase Malaysia's diplomacy and the esteem in which it is held by the two countries.

The Gulf states are locked in a diplomatic crisis stemming from the decision of Saudi Arabia and several allies to sever ties with Qatar, which they accused of supporting extremism.



Indonesia Will Help Refugees, but 'Won't Host Them Forever,' Says Immigration Office

July 27, 2017

Jakarta. Indonesia is committed to improve its handling of asylum seekers and refugees, but with a proviso that it will not host them forever, director general of immigration Ronny F. Sompie said on Monday (24/07).

Indonesia, which is not a signatory to the 1951 Refugee Convention – a United Nations treaty that defines the term "refugees," outlines their rights, and obligations of receiving countries to protect them – has been criticized for its poor treatment of the displaced, as both the central government and local administrations see hosting refugees as straining their already tight budgets.

"The global refugee crisis needs to be addressed thoroughly by participating in problem-solving while keeping Indonesia's national sovereignty and interests in mind," Ronny said in a panel discussion on the implementation of the 2016 Presidential Regulation (Perpres) No. 125 – the only legal instrument the country has to handle asylum seekers and refugees.

Data from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees shows there are about 14,000 displaced in Indonesia, half of them from Afghanistan. The figure is still tiny compared to 22 million refugees worldwide, or even to hundreds of thousands hosted by Thailand and Malaysia.

In 2016, Indonesia was severely criticized when the provincial government of Aceh did not allow Tamil migrants from Sri Lanka to disembark, and for its treatment of Rohingya Muslims from Myanmar.

Many refugees have left Indonesia, which was for them a place of transit, yet many more remain on a long wait list for resettlement in Western countries, which are increasingly unwilling to receive them.

According to Ronny, the presidential regulation ensures that shelter and security will be provided to refugees and asylum-seekers in Indonesia, and their basic needs will be met as they the UNHCR processes their relocation. He added that stronger cooperation will now be forged with local and international organizations that help the displaced.

The long process takes between two and six years, yet not everyone will be lucky enough to resettle in a better and safer place. Some will be deported to their home countries.

"The government has no obligation to fulfill the rights of refugees [...] This is a temporary process, they will not stay long in Indonesia as integration is not part of our policy," said Dicky Komar, director of human rights at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Ronny and Dicky rebutted allegations that the government of the world's largest Muslim-majority country treats refugees and asylum seekers as illegal migrants.

Ronny said the presidential regulation gives clear instructions on the roles of ministries, governmental agencies and international organizations in the process.

"Although we have not ratified the convention on refugees and asylum-seekers, we behave as if we had ratified it. We are committed to protecting their human rights, and we don't treat them as criminals," he added.

Monday's discussion was also attended by representatives from the Coordinating Ministry for Political, Legal and Security Affairs, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Home Affairs.

"Here in Indonesia, the government is taking responsibility and reaffirming its commitment to provide a safe place for refugees until longer term solutions can be found," UNHCR representative in Indonesia, Thomas Vargas, said.

World Refugee Crisis

According to UNHCR's 2016 Global Trends Report, more than 65 million people across the globe had been forcibly displaced from their homes, around 22 million of them are refugees.

The unprecedented number of the displaced, according to Vargas, has been caused by the continuation of old conflicts and the emergence of new ones.

Full report at:



South Asia


Afghan forces retake control of Taywara district from Taliban

Jul 27 2017

The Afghan national defense and security forces have retaken the control of Taywara district in northwestern Ghor province of Afghanistan.

According to the local government officials, the control of the district fell into the hands of the Afghan forces earlier today following the counter-terrorism operations.

The Taliban insurgents had seized the control of the district four days ago after several days of heavy gun battle.

The Afghan Special Operations Forces command confirmed the fall of the district into the hands of the Afghan security forces earlier today.

A spokesman for the Special Operations Forces command Abdul Qayoum Nuristani said the Taliban insurgents have suffered casualties as a result of the operations.

He said the exact number of the Taliban insurgents killed or wounded during the operation has not been ascertained so far.

Soon after the fall of the district into the hands of the Taliban insurgents, distressing reports emerged regarding the massacre carried out by the insurgents.

According to the Afghan security officials, the Taliban insurgents killed numerous doctors and patients after they seized the control of the district and stormed a hospital.



Japanese-Bangladeshi Hindu convert masterminded Dhaka terror attack: Report

Jul 26, 2017

A Japanese-Bangladeshi Hindu convert is most likely to be the mastermind behind the terror attack claimed by Islamic State on a Dhaka bakery last July that left 24 people dead, including an Indian student, a report has said.

An investigative report by the Dhaka Tribune newspaper also identified Sajit Debnath aka Muhammad Saifullah Ozaki, a former associate professor of Ritsumeikan University, as the elusive ‘ameer’ of ISIS in Bangladesh.

Ozaki, who the report said had appeared in an interview in Dabiq magazine of ISIS in April 2016 under the nom de guerre Shaykh Abu Ibrahim al-Hanif, is responsible for a series of jihadi attacks in Bangladesh including the massacre at the Holey Artisan Bakery.

Ozaki, who has a PhD, is considered an expert on Islamic finance and economic theory, and is well-versed in Islamic theology.

He took his current name around May 2015, most likely because his old identity was revealed to Bangladeshi security agencies by captured ISIS members Gazi Sohan and Aminul Islam Baig, the report said.

He was appointed the group’s ameer in Bangladesh in June 2015 after his return to Japan from a short trip to Turkey.

The influential ISIS members who facilitated Ozaki’s appointment process include his mentor Hassan Ko Nakata, former Japanese ambassador to Saudi Arabia who goes by the name Shaykh Hassan al-Yabani, according to the report.

The Bangladeshi affiliate of ISIS, Dawlatul Islam Bengal, came into existence in July 2015 with patronage and guidance of Ozaki, after a merger between a renegade faction of Jamaatul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) and Jund at-Tawhid wal-Khilafah, it said.

Canadian-Bangladeshi jihadi Tamim Ahmed Chowdhury or Abu Dujanah al-Bengali was appointed the head of military and covert operations of the group while Sarwar Jahan was chosen as Ozaki’s conduit or representative on the ground. After the Dhaka attack, there was speculation that Chowdhury was the mastermind and ameer of IS in Bangladesh, which the group had rejected.

In September 2015, ISIS carried out its first attack in Bangladesh, the murder of Italian citizen Cesare Tavella in Dhaka and a month later, it killed Japanese citizen Kunio Hoshi in Rangpur.

Before these attacks, the group’s activities were mostly focused on recruiting Bangladeshi jihadis for the Syrian war. Ozaki was the kingpin of a transnational group that funded and facilitated ISIS recruitment operations in Bangladesh since mid-2014, the report said.

Most, if not all, of the Bangladeshi ISIS fighters were directly or indirectly connected to Ozaki: they were either recruited by Ozaki himself or by recruiters who reported to him.

Both Ozaki and Saudi national Nasir Muhammad Awad worked as lead recruiters in 2014 and were elevated to the position of ameer in 2015.

The current whereabouts of Ozaki remain unknown. There are reports that he took his family to Syria after entering Turkey via Bulgaria in late 2015.

But some reports place him in Indonesia and Malaysia. Ozaki’s mentor Hassan Ko Nakata has long-known ties with Indonesia-based jihadi group Jemaah Islamiyah.

There is also speculation that the Dabiq interview was actually taken by Nakata, when Ozaki met him somewhere in Indonesia in late 2015 or early 2016, the report said.

The first part of Ozaki’s nom de guerre –Abu Ibrahim or father of Ibrahim—is most likely based on the name of his youngest son, who is a minor, the report said.

Full report at:



Man gets 60 years for killing Bangladeshi taxi driver in California

July 26, 2017

The convicted Shota Mekoshvili stabbed Bangladeshi American taxi driver Mahomed Kamal 127 times in 2014

A man has been given the maximum sentence of 60 years in prison for the killing of a Bangladeshi American taxi driver in Stamford, California.

The convicted Shota Mekoshvili, 32, stabbed 47-year-old taxi driver Mahomed Kamal 127 times on August 27, 2014.

Judge John Blawie delivered the verdict on Tuesday, describing Mekoshvili’s attack as an act of “viciousness and pure brutality” as he rejected the defence’s plea for a minimum sentence of 25 years.

“Based on the viciousness of this murder, even the most severe sentence the court can hand down may seem inadequate to the family or people who loved the victim to match the magnitude of this brutality,” Blawie said as quoted by the Stamford Advocate.

About 100 family and friends of Mahomed from the Muslim community were present at the court during sentencing, including his widow Razia Shalia and their 7-year-old son Sayfayet.

“I’m so happy,” Razia said after hearing the verdict. “I’m very thankful to the jury, judge, lawyers and the Stamford police department.”

Mekoshvili’s lawyer Norm Pattis  had initially argued that Mekoshvili acted in self defence after Mahomed attempted to instigate a sexual encounter with him. However, the defence later claimed the incident was a botched robbery when evidence emerged that about $500-700 and credit cards were missing from Mahomed’s person when his body was discovered.

“The circumstantial evidence doesn’t support his [Mekoshvili’s] story,” Blawie said as quoted by the Hartford Courant.

Full report at:



Airstrikes pound ISIS hideouts in Nangarhar province of Afghanistan

Jul 26 2017

Several airstrikes were carried out on the hideouts of the militants affiliated with the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) terrorist group in eastern Nangarhar province of Afghanistan, the local security authorities said Wednesday.

At least eight ISIS insurgents were killed during the airstrikes which were carried out amid ongoing operations by the ground forces.

The provincial police commandment in a statement confirmed the airstrikes were carried out in Mamand Dara area of Achin, pounding the hideouts of the terror group.

The statement further added that several light and heavy weapons belonging to the terror group were also destroyed during the operations.

The local residents and security personnel involved in the operations did not suffer any casualties during the operations, the police commandment added.

In the meantime, the Nangarhar police said at least two Taliban insurgents were killed or wounded after ambushing the Afghan security forces in Mamand Dara area.

The anti-government armed militant groups including the Taliban insurgents and ISIS militants have not commented regarding the reports so far.

Full report at:



Deadly truck bombing foiled in Kabul city

Jul 26 2017

A deadly truck bombing was foiled by the Afghan intelligence operatives in Kabul city, nearly two months after a similar attack left more than 150 people dead.

The Afghan Intelligence, National Directorate of Security (NDS), in a statement said a mini-truck packed with thousands of kilograms of explosives was seized before the militants manage to detonate it in Kabul city.

The statement further added that Hino type mini truck, packed with 2500 kilograms of explosives, was seized from Chahar Asiab district of Kabul province.

According to NDS, the militants were looking to transport the vehicle to Kabul city and use it for a deadly Vehicle-borne Improvised Explosive Device (VBIED) bombing in a key part of the city.

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

The latest truck bombing attempt in Kabul follows almost two months after the deadly bombing near the Embassy of Germany in the city.

Full report at:





Turkey's top religious official slams Gülenists for exploiting religion

July 26, 2017

Turkey’s top religious official has slammed the Fethullah Gülen network for exploiting the Islamic religion in order to direct a social movement.

“The High Council of Religious affairs, which have examined FETÖ’s [Fethullahist Terrorist Organization] speeches, books and magazines, have revealed the background behind FETÖ’s infiltration plan,” Mehmet Görmez, head of the Religious Affairs Directorate, said yesterday as he announced the directorate’s report on the group.

“It is a movement of exploitation of religion. Maybe we can find a way to learn a lesson from the past for the future. Work has been done for this purpose. This work has uncovered the background of the mindset of this movement,” Görmez said.

The report titled “FETÖ in its own language: An organized exploitation of religion,” was prepared after an intensive research on Gülen’s books and speeches.

“All the religious scholars, including me, are obliged to wake the hearts and minds of the believers against the dirty plans of the dark structures that appear to come from God. To remind the real principles of the Quran, religious tradition and sanity with a strong and erudite voice are the biggest duties of the scholars,” Görmez said.

Gülen is depicted as an extraordinary person

“Gülen had put a great and systematic effort to depict himself as an extraordinary personality. It preached the followers that Gülen is not an ordinary person, he is chosen by Allah to revive Islam,” said Görmez.

“Gülen has implied that he had been instructed by the Prophet Mohammed and referred to his followers as if he was getting orders from the prophet,” he added.

“Mystic concepts that were used by Islamic Sufis to express their personal experiences were exploited by Gülen and presented as divine messages directing a social movement,” he said, according to the report.

“For the head of FETÖ, Islamic verses are only instruments and signs. For him, nothing has a reality. The FETÖ leader has constructed the world for himself in which Allah is accessible and the Prophet is tactile,” Görmez said.

“FETÖ has propagated in order to penetrate into the minds of innocent children by using their need for shelter. It has constantly indoctrinated them,” he said.



Muslim Cleric wants cameras removed from contested Jerusalem shrine

July 26, 2017

A senior Muslim official in Jerusalem says worshippers won't return to a contested shrine until Israel removes new railings and cameras it installed after a deadly attack there.

Ikrema Sabri said Wednesday that even after Israel removed metal detectors more steps were required. He said mass prayer protests would continue outside the site -- known to Israelis as the Temple Mount and by Palestinian as the Al Haram Al Sharif -- until the gates of the compound were opened and the metal railings and an iron bridge with cameras on it were removed.

Sabri, head of the Supreme Islamic Committee, said a lawyer on behalf of the Muslim administration of the holy site will be in touch with Israeli police to demand the changes.

Israel installed new security measures after Arab gunmen shot and killed two police officers from within the site. Under international pressure, Israel removed the metal detectors.

Sabri’s statements came after Muslim worshippers held their morning prayers outside Jerusalem's most contested holy site despite Israel's removal of the metal detectors that sparked the protest.

Wednesday's prayers came a day after Israel seemingly capitulated to the demands of protesters. But Muslim religious leaders have called for prayers to continue outside until delicate arrangements at the site, holy to both Jews and Muslims, return to what they were before Israel installed new security measures. Those measures came after Arab gunmen shot and killed two police officers from within the site.

Muslim leaders have alleged that the metal detectors are part of a purported Israeli attempt to expand control over the site.

Israel has denied such allegations, arguing that metal detectors are routine security devices and that the measures are necessary to prevent further attacks. Palestinians claim Israel is trying to expand its control.

The volatile Jerusalem shrine, revered by Muslims and Jews alike, sits at the center of rival Israeli and Palestinian national narratives and has triggered major confrontations in the past.

Jews revere the site, where the two Jewish temples stood in biblical times, as the Temple Mount. It is the holiest site in Judaism and the nearby Western Wall, a remnant of one of the temples, is the holiest place where Jews can pray.

Full report at:



Turkey’s Erdogan says Israel damaging Jerusalem’s “Islamic character”

26 July 2017

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan accused Israel on Wednesday of inflicting damage on Jerusalem’s “Islamic character”, in comments likely to further inflame regional tensions in a dispute over the Al-Aqsa mosque.

The dispute over security at the mosque compound - where Israel installed metal detectors at entry points after two police guards were shot dead this month - has touched off the bloodiest clashes between Israelis and Palestinians in years.

Hoping to calm days of unrest, Israel removed the metal detectors from the entrances to the compound and is expected to install advanced CCTV cameras instead, but Palestinians have said the modified measures are still unacceptable.

“Israel is harming Jerusalem’s Islamic character,” said Erdogan, whose roots are in political Islam, at an education conference in Ankara. “Nobody should expect us to remain silent against the double standards in Jerusalem.”

Israel’s foreign ministry responded swiftly with a stern statement denouncing the Turkish government and accusing it of behaving as though the Ottoman Empire still existed.

“It’s absurd that the Turkish government, which occupies Northern Cyprus, brutally represses the Kurdish minority and jails journalists, lectures Israel, the only true democracy in the region,” spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon said.

Turkey has troops stationed in Northern Cyprus, is battling armed Kurdish separatists in its southeast region and has jailed large numbers of journalists, academics and others it suspects of having supported an abortive military coup last year.

Full report at:



India’s hardball tactic with Iran backfires

Jul 26, 2017

India’s insistence to get exceptional concessions from Iran on the development of a giant gas field in the Persian Gulf has taken some toll on their trade ties.

The Indians have been demanding special treatment on the offshore Farzad B gas field which they discovered in 2008, trying to use oil imports from Iran as a bargaining chip in their talks.

Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan said last week that India’s state refiners would import less Iranian crude oil in 2017-18, apparently in response to Tehran’s refusal to submit to New Delhi’s demands.

India wants Iran to grant development rights to the OVL-led consortium which discovered the field and give access to the gas from Farzad B at steep discounts, according to Iranian Minister of Petroleum Bijan Zangeneh.

Interestingly, the Indians were initially given that right but Iran had to put Farzad B on a list of projects for tender in 2014 after the other side dragged its feet on the field's development.

India launched a fresh bid after international interest grew in the field following Iran’s nuclear accord in 2015, but failed again to submit a fresh development plan by September 2016 which it had to.

‘Language of threat’

In May this year, Zangeneh said Iran had signed a basic agreement with Russia’s Gazprom over the development of Farzad B, stressing that the country was not worried about India’s decision to cut oil imports from the Islamic Republic.

“There should be sensible conditions in the negotiations. We cannot sign a contract under threats. The language of threat is not a good one,” Zangeneh said after a cabinet session.

“India is one of our good customers and we are willing to boost cooperation. If there is a cut in our exports to India, we will have no troubles as there are many other customers,” he said.

His remarks came after Indian refiners said they were reducing their Iranian imports gradually, and that they would cut more if there were no progress on the Farzad B gas field.

India's oil imports from Iran rose about 92 percent to a record 573,400 barrels per day in the first quarter of this year.

However, authorities in New Delhi have a habit of playing hardball with Iran in their dealings whenever Tehran comes under pressure from the West. Some observers have linked the new assertive stance to tough language being used by the Trump administration against Iran.

One of the issues which the Indians have been complaining about is that Iran had reduced a credit period of 90 days for oil purchases to 60 days, arguing that the privilege should stay given New Delhi’s trade with Tehran despite being under sanctions.

Thanks but no thanks

Iranian MP Asadollah Gharekhani, the rapporteur of Majlis Energy Commission, played down the significance of Indian crude purchases under the sanctions.

He said that under the international sanctions regime, the Indians had agreed to pay oil dues in dollars, but in the end, they said it was unfeasible.

“They later said the payments will be made half in dollar and half in rupee, but the rupee depreciated by 30% and thus Iran's revenue was cut by 30%," he said on Tuesday.

Ultimately, “instead of cash payments, India sold cheap commodities for Iran's crude,” the lawmaker said, stating that the Indians had put their interests first when the Islamic Republic was under pressure and that Tehran had to do the same. 

Top presidential advisor Akbar Torkan, however, had stronger words.

"Iran's wealth and national interests were plundered by a bunch of marauders from Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Qatar, China and India" during the sanctions, he said in an interview late last year.

Nevertheless, Tehran and New Delhi have long eyed each other as partners that together can link up the Subcontinent and West Asia.

India has been eyeing Iran's port of Chabahar for development as part of its ambitious bid to access Central Asia and Afghanistan.

Full report at:



Netanyahu threatens to shut Al-Jazeera Jerusalem office 'for inciting violence'

27 July 2017

JERUSALEM: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday said he would work to close the Jerusalem offices of Qatar-based Al-Jazeera, accusing the television news network of inciting recent violence in the city.

Jerusalem is experiencing one of its most tense periods in years as Palestinians protest heightened Israeli security measures near the Temple Mount-Noble Sanctuary compound, one of the city’s holiest sites, and the events have been widely reported, including by Al-Jazeera.

“The Al-Jazeera network continues to stir violence around the Temple Mount,” Netanyahu wrote on his Facebook page in Hebrew.

The Qatar-based network was not immediately available for comment.

The spike in tensions and the deaths of three Israelis and four Palestinians in violence on Friday and Saturday raised international alarm.

“I have spoken several times to law-enforcement authorities demanding to close Al-Jazeera’s offices in Jerusalem. If this does not happen because of legal interpretation, I will work to enact the required legislation to expel Al-Jazeera from Israel,” the Israeli leader added in his post.

Full report at:



Yemen’s army retakes control of camp Khalid from Houthi militias

26 July 2017

Yemen President Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi praised the national army's victory for achieving full control over Khalid ibn al-Walid strategic camp west of Taiz, Yemen News Agency reported on Wednesday.

The control of Khalid camp came after a violent attack, supported by intensive air raids led by Saudi Arabia and with the participation of Apache helicopters.

The camp acquired its strategic importance from both the military and the tactical standpoint.

Camp Khalid ibn al-Walid is approximately 12 square kilometers. It is located at Mukha junction west of Taiz and at the crossroads between the provinces of Taiz and Hudaydah in the west of Yemen.

It is one of the most important camps and the most powerful fortifications under the control of the coupists. The collapse of the Khalid camp in the hands of the legitimate Yemeni government will lead to the liberation of strategic militant fronts in Taiz according to experts.

The camp is 60 kilometers away from Taiz and 40 kilometers from the city of Al-Mukha. It is the second line of defense from Mukha coast and the vital and important targets in the city.

The first line of defense on the main road and strategic link between the provinces of Taiz and Hodeidah, according to the official spokesman for the leadership of the axis of Taiz, Colonel Mansour al-Hassani.

Al-Hassani pointed out that Khalid's camp is strategically important for being at the crossroads of two important roads: Taiz Al-Hodeidah and Taiz Al-Mukha to Khukha.

Colonel al-Hassani said that the camp is also located close to the Bab al-Mandab international passageway, and exemplifies the depth of the military axis in Taiz to defend Bab al-Mandab.

As for the tactical importance of the camp, al-Hassani says it is located in an area of several coastal districts west of Taiz.

The coup militias have benefited from this advantage, reinforcing all coastal fighting fronts from this camp.

Full report at:



Red Cross urges Western countries to aid halting Saudi war on Yemen

Jul 26, 2017

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has called on Western and regional countries to use their influence towards ending the Saudi war on Yemen.

"Definitely we would hope that Western countries understand the deep crisis, the risk of this enormous crisis for international stability, for the stability of the region," said ICRC President Peter Maurer during a visit to the Yemeni capital Sana’a on Wednesday.

He noted that the war on Yemen has exacerbated a huge cholera epidemic, which has already claimed the lives of hundreds of people.

Cholera is an acute diarrheal infection that is spread through contaminated food or water. It can be effectively treated with the immediate replacement of lost fluids and salts, but without treatment it can be fatal.

Cholera infection first became epidemic in Yemen last October and spread until December, when it dwindled. The second outbreak began in the Arabian Peninsula country in late April.

"I came here to urge the international community to take action and step up its response to this outbreak, which is - let's be very clear - a man-made outbreak. It's largely the consequence of warfare and destruction of public services," Maurer added.

Saudi Arabia has been leading the campaign against Yemen to reinstate the former government and crush the Houthi Ansarullah movement. The campaign has seriously damaged the country's infrastructure. Local Yemeni sources have put the death toll from the Saudi war at over 12,000, including many women and children.

He further called on the Saudis to allow the delivery of aid supplies via Sana’a airport, which is in control of the Houthi Ansarullah movement.

Maurer went on to stress that the country’s health system is in shambles, salaries have not been paid for at least 10 months, rubbish is "piling up" in the streets, and hospitals, water stations and other vital infrastructure have been attacked and destroyed by the Saudis.

He noted that about 400,000 people have been infected by cholera, a figure which may increase as the rainy season begins.

"The pace of increase of cases is slightly diminishing. Which does not mean overall the cases are decreasing but the pace is slightly diminishing…The problem is most experts expect the pace to increase when the rainy season starts," he said.

Full report at:



North America


Defeated Anti-Muslim Amendment a Sign of Trump’s Normalizing of Islamophobia

By Faiza Patel, Margot Adams and Emily Hockett

July 26, 2017

Recently, the House of Representatives narrowly voted down an amendment to the annual defense spending bill that targeted the Islamic faith. Sponsored by Arizona Republican Trent Franks, the amendment instructed Defense Secretary James Mattis to conduct a strategic assessment of the use of “violent or unorthodox Islamic religious doctrine to support extremist or terrorist messaging and justification.” The Defense Department would have been required to identify “Islamic religious doctrines, concepts, or schools of thought” used by various extremist groups, and provide recommendations for identifying “key thought leaders or proponents” of these doctrines. The amendment failed in the face of strenuous opposition by every House Democrat as well as 27 Republicans and numerous advocacy organizations.

It is, of course, sensible for the government to study the motivations of terrorist groups that seek to harm us. Indeed, the U.S. government has been studying the belief systems of terrorists for years. The Franks amendment is fundamentally flawed, however, in that it assumes that “unorthodox Islamic religious doctrine” is the motive, to the exclusion of all others. It’s not unique in this regard. Government officials from both parties have long sought to frame political violence in the Muslim world as primarily one of religious “extremism” or “radicalization,” to avoid a broader evaluation of U.S. foreign policy and U.S. support for autocratic, and often brutally suppressive, regimes in the region as sources of instability and anti-American sentiment.

Coming on the heels of President Donald Trump’s speech in Warsaw, which described terrorism carried out in the name of Islam and the refugee crisis as an assault on “Western values,” and combined with the overall anti-Muslim tenor of the current administration, the Franks amendment simply continues the narrative of counterterrorism as a civilizational struggle—a narrative that Franks himself has long embraced—laying the blame for the violence of a relative few at the doorstep of a faith practiced by almost two billion people around the world. As Rep. Ruben Gallego (a former Marine infantryman), speaking against the Franks amendment on the House floor, said, “By singling out a faith tradition…we are sending a dangerous message and signal that America is at war with Islam.”

Moreover, as Democratic Congressman Keith Ellison argued, the amendment violates the principles of religious liberty fundamental to our national identity. It imagines the government as a legitimate authority on what is and isn’t an “orthodox” interpretation of a religious faith, a nasty practice almost certainly forbidden by the First Amendment’s Free Exercise clause.

The Franks amendment’s demand to focus research only on terrorism committed by Muslims as opposed to other types of political violence didn’t come out of nowhere. While both President George W. Bush and President Barack Obama were careful to avoid conflating Islam and terrorism in their rhetoric, their policies told a different story. Surveillance programs run by the FBI and local police (most famously the New York Police Department) have long targeted American Muslim communities as hotbeds of terrorism, while downplaying the risks from other types of ideologically motivated violence. The Obama administration’s countering violent extremism (CVE) programs too were implicitly based on the disproven hypothesis that extremist beliefs lead to violent action so that a preemptive approach to terrorism required the suppression of ideas. In fact, evidence shows that the overwhelming majority of people who hold “radical” beliefs do not engage in, nor support, violence. CVE’s focus on Muslim communities – which has become an even bigger focus under the Trump administration – reinforces the stereotype that Islam is uniquely violent, stigmatizing Muslim-American communities as inherently suspect, or more sympathetically, “vulnerable” to terrorist recruitment. Separating out “good” Muslims (e.g., those who support Western foreign policy) from “bad” Muslims (e.g., those who object to our ventures in the Middle East) has long been a cornerstone of U.S. policy.

These implicit biases have now become explicit. The Trump administration did not invent Islamophobia, but it has normalized the expression of anti-Muslim sentiment in our political discourse, and attempted to cement it in government policy. In doing so, it has sanctioned mistrust of and animosity toward Muslim-Americans, emboldening lawmakers like Trent Franks to boldly take up the anti-Muslim crusade in the name of national security. That the Franks amendment actually offers no legitimately effective method to combat terrorism is almost beside the point. Its true threat lies in the explicit line it draws in the sand, dividing people by faith. Thankfully, the amendment was rejected, sending a strong reminder that regardless of who occupies the presidency, policies like this have no place in our society.



US Muslims view Trump as unfriendly: Poll

Jul 26, 2017

American Muslims say they have experienced deep suspicion about their faith since Donald Trump took office in January, a survey shows.

Almost three-quarters of US Muslims see Trump as unfriendly toward them, shows a Pew Research Center report released Wednesday.

The Pew survey, which is its third on American Muslims since 2007 and its first since Trump became president, surveyed 1,001 adults by phone, both landline and cellphones, between Jan. 23 and May 2, in English, Arabic, Farsi and Urdu.

Sixty-four percent of those with a more distinct Muslim identity, like a head covering for women, noted that they had recently experienced some sort of discrimination and nearly half of them say they had the same problem last year, such as being treated with distrust, threatened or called an offensive name.

The poll also shows that the Muslims were optimistic about their future. Seventy percent say hard work will result in success in America.

Nearly half of them note they received more support from individual non-Muslim Americans during the past year.

“There’s a sense among the American Muslim population that others are beginning to understand them and beginning to sympathize with them,” said Amaney Jamal, a Princeton University political scientist and adviser to Pew researchers.

Prejudice against Muslims has “pushed the average American to say, ‘This is really not fair. I’m going to knock on my neighbor’s door to see if they’re all right,” Jamal added.

In January, Trump issued a temporary ban on travel from some Muslim-majority countries which sparked protests and chaos at airports around the country and the world.

Opponents of the ban, including states and refugee advocacy groups, sued to stop it, arguing that the controversial ban discriminated against Muslims.

Full report at:





UK’s response to terror attacks risks ‘alienating’ Muslim community: report

July 27, 2017

UK’s response to terror attacks on its soil may alienate the Muslim community from taking part in the country’s efforts to curb terrorism, a watchdog has warned in its report.

Britain has been hit by series of terror attacks this year. Since 2001, there have been almost 100 terrorist-related deaths in the country, the vast majority linked to religious extremism. In its report Max Hill QC, the Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation, found that mosques and community centres in the country felt under pressure to denounce atrocities even when they had to links to perpetrators.

The researcher slammed calls by senior UK politicians for Muslim to “do more” to fight extremism. “Many in the Muslim communities are already doing a great deal and if they could be doing ‘more’, no one appears to have made clear what that means,” Hill wrote in a foreword to the report. “Failure to do so can lead to further alienation, frustration and perhaps even withdrawal for many in spheres where we all need to protect and preserve meaningful engagement.”

Communities secretary Sajid Javid said that British Muslims like himself “must go further” than condemning terror attacks in the wake of the massacre at London Bridge. At least eight people were killed and 50 injured after three extremists drove into pedestrians on London Bridge last month, then attacked revelers in nearby bars and restaurants with knives.

“Enough is enough,” announced Prime Minister Theresa May the following day, in a speech that claimed there was “far too much tolerance of extremism in our country”. Leader of the Opposition Jeremy Corbyn had been heavily criticised by Conservative politicians for calling for a “smarter way to reduce the threat” than the War on Terror. He argued that it was the “responsibility of Government to minimise” the chance of attacks by giving police the resources they need and to ensure “foreign policy reduces rather than increases the threat to this country”.

Hill made no reference to individual politicians or groups in his report but cautioned over a lack of engagement felt by some communities.  “A more proactive role ought to be taken by government at all levels to address wider concerns, and thereby to avoid the perception of engagement with these communities only when things have gone wrong,” he added, saying that only the response to the Finsbury Park terror attack was viewed as positive.

British Muslim woman detained at airport for reading Syrian art book takes court action

The pre-planned research was carried through in May and June in Leicester, Bradford, Manchester and London, coincidentally coming as the UK was hit by a string of terror attacks. In under three months, atrocities in Westminster, Manchester, London Bridge and Finsbury Park left 36 people dead and 200 injured.

Hill said many Muslims he spoke to at community meetings across the country feared being blamed for being ‘complicit’ in Islamic State (IS)-inspired attacks, with younger followers of the faith sometimes afraid to engage with their local mosques, or to debate their identities and religion because they thought they might be reported to police.

The Forward Thinking report noted that relatives felt police had been “heavy handed”, taking a mother and young children away from their home, and urged authorities to treat affected families with care and proportionality. “These matters are sensitive and the long-term welfare of Muslim families affected by police investigations must always be uppermost in our minds,” Hill said. “These steps and conversations are important because they have the capacity to engender trust and confidence in our security apparatus.”

The warning came after Britain’s most senior police officer said she expects more terror attack plans to be discovered in the UK. Cressida Dick, the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, said six plots have been thwarted in the last four months alone, adding: “Progress on the ground in Syria and Iraq does not necessarily translate into a reduction in threat here.”



Court orders Dutch govt to finance new Islamic school

26 July 2017

THE HAGUE: The Dutch government was ordered Wednesday by the country’s highest court to approve funding for a new Islamic school in Amsterdam which it had sought to ban.

Funding for the school was refused in 2014 by Deputy Education Minister Sander Dekker, after a member of the school’s board voiced support for the so-called Daesh jihadist group.

But the Council of State on Wednesday found there “is no valid reason for refusing the funding” after hearing the school had distanced itself from the man’s remarks as well as any kind of extremism.

The man in question had also been dismissed from the board, the court said in its ruling.

Dekker was ordered by the court to reverse his decision and find finances by Tuesday, August 1, ahead of the start of the next school year.

The issue of Islam and its influence on Dutch society has long fueled debate here, with outspoken far-right MP Geert Wilders having made a ban on the Qur'an and mosques a central plank of this year’s parliamentary elections.

His Freedom Party is now the second largest political group in parliament after winning 20 seats in the March polls.

The school, which would become only be the second Islamic high school in the country, is expected to welcome some 200 students this year. Dutch media reported it would have to be housed initially in temporary accommodation.

Dekker said he was frustrated by the decision, and still had concerns about “the quality of the education” that would be offered.

“We must do everything we can to ensure that our children get the education that they are entitled too, and learn what it means to be part of Dutch society,” he told public broadcaster NOS.

Full report at:



France questions legality of new US bans on Iran, Russia, N Korea

Jul 26, 2017

France has raised doubts about the legitimacy of new US sanctions against Iran and Russia, saying they do not conform to international law due to their extraterritorial reach.

The French foreign ministry said in a statement on Wednesday that French and European laws would need to be adjusted in response to the new sanctions, which await US President Donald Trump’s approval.

The ministry also called for discussions at European Union level because of the potential impact that the bans were going to have on European citizens and firms.

On Tuesday, the US House of Representatives voted to impose new sanctions against Iran, Russia and North Korea. The lower chamber of the US Congress voted 419 to 3 to pass the sanctions package.

The bill includes sanctions against Iran and the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) for allegedly supporting terrorism, which Tehran vehemently denies, and North Korea, for its missile tests.

The legislation also aims to punish Moscow for its alleged meddling in the 2016 US presidential election and the reunification of Crimea with the Russian Federation.

The EU had earlier warned Washington against the new bans, out of fear that they would adversely affect its new energy deals with Russia.

In a clear message to Trump, EU President Jean-Claude Juncker said the bloc would act “within days” if the Trump administration failed to reassure its European allies about the potential impacts of the bans on their interests.

"America first cannot mean that Europe's interests come last," he added.

The EU fears that the new punitive measures might hit European companies involved in the Nord Stream 2 pipeline project, which will be used to carry natural gas from Russia to Germany.

Germany has also opposed the latest measures, calling them an “unacceptable” move that is likely “to serve the interests of US industry policies.”

Iran warns of reciprocal measures

Earlier in the day, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani condemned the new Congress bill and said the Iranian parliament would adopt reciprocal measures.

“And we will take any step deemed necessary in line with the interests of our country, and we will continue our path without paying attention to their (Americans’) sanctions and policies,” he asserted.

Full report at:



Prominent German radical convicted of backing Islamic terror

July 26, 2017

BERLIN (AP) — A court has convicted one of Germany’s most prominent Islamic radicals of supporting a foreign terrorist organization and sentenced him to 5½ years in prison.

German news agency dpa reported that the state court in Duesseldorf ruled on Wednesday that 36-year-old Sven Lau supported the Army of Emigrants and Partisans, known as JAMWA. He was accused of acting as the contact for extremists wanting to fight for the group in Syria.

Lau, a convert to Islam, made headlines in 2014 when he tried to establish a “Sharia police” in the German city of Wuppertal to enforce a strict interpretation of Islam.

His terror organization trial, which opened in September, covered accusations dating back to 2013.

Full report at:



Priest's Killers Failed To Divide France, Says Macron

26 July 2017

SAINT-ETIENNE-DU-ROUVRAY (AFP) - Two teenagers who murdered an elderly French priest a year ago after pledging loyalty to the Islamic State group failed to sow religious division, President Emmanuel Macron told a memorial service Wednesday (July 26).

Jacques Hamel, 85, was conducting mass in the northern town of Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray, near Rouen, when the attackers burst in and slit his throat in front of five worshippers.

The gruesome attack caused widespread horror, coming two weeks after a radical used a truck to crush 86 people to death in the southern city of Nice.

In a video, the teenagers had sworn allegiance to ISIS.

At Wednesday's memorial in Hamel's small 16th-century church Macron hailed the solidarity shown by French Muslims after the attack - and the failure of Catholics to be provoked.

"The two terrorists thought they would sow a desire among French Catholics for revenge. They failed," he said.

While assuring that the French state was "not out to combat any religion", Macron added that every religion "has its part to play to ensure that hatred... never wins.

"It is a long battle, waged every day," he added. "Here, you won it." Three nuns and an elderly couple witnessed Hamel's murder by Adel Kermiche and Abdel Malik Petitjean on a quiet midweek morning in July.

The 19-year-old killers, who had been on a terror watch list, were shot dead by police outside the church.

Hundreds of people, including relatives of Hamel, two government ministers and representatives of the French Council for the Muslim Faith were packed in at Wednesday's mass.

Outside, where Macron unveiled a large stainless steel disk inscribed with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, an overflow crowd followed the proceedings on a giant screen.

Rouen Archbishop Dominique Lebrun, who led the ceremony, thanked the Muslim community for asking to be included in the commemorations.

Later Wednesday, after evening prayers, dozens of people went to pay their respects to the priest at his grave in a nearby cemetery, including representatives from the local Muslim community.

Two people have been charged over their suspected links to the attackers.

One is a cousin of Petitjean's, whom investigators suspect knew of the plot to kill the priest.

Full report at:



Yemen grappling with ‘vicious’ combination of worst crises: UN

Jul 27, 2017

The United Nations has warned that the catastrophic situation in Yemen is turning into a combination of the world’s worst humanitarian crises amid almost daily Saudi bombardment of the impoverished Arab nation.

In a joint statement on Wednesday, the World Health Organization (WHO), the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the World Food Program (WFP) said Yemen is grappling with “the world’s worst cholera outbreak in the midst of the world’s largest humanitarian crisis.”

“In the last three months alone, 400,000 cases of suspected cholera and nearly 1,900 associated deaths have been recorded. Vital health, water and sanitation facilities have been crippled by more than 2 years of hostilities, and created the ideal conditions for diseases to spread,” the statement said.

“The country is on the brink of famine, with over 60 per cent of the population not knowing where their next meal will come from. Nearly 2 million Yemeni children are acutely malnourished. Malnutrition makes them more susceptible to cholera; diseases create more malnutrition. A vicious combination,” the statement added.

The executive directors of the WHO, UNICEF and the WFP arrived in Yemen on Monday, visiting the southern province of Aden and the country’s capital, Sana’a.

The UN top officials also met the self-styled prime minister, Ahmed bin Dagher, for talks on international aid delivery and ways to contain “the cholera epidemic which has spread to all provinces.”

The officials pointed to their observations during the visits, including hospitalized children “who can barely gather the strength to breathe” and the vital infrastructure, such as health and water facilities, which have been damaged or destroyed.

“More than 30,000 health workers have not been paid their salaries in more than 10 months, but many still report for duty. We have asked the Yemeni authorities to pay these health workers urgently because, without them, we fear that people who would otherwise have survived may die,” the statement said.

Cholera is an acute diarrheal infection that is spread through contaminated food or water. It can be effectively treated with the immediate replacement of lost fluids and salts, but without treatment it can be fatal.

The disease first became epidemic in Yemen last October and spread until December, when it dwindled. The second outbreak began in the Arabian Peninsula country in late April.

Meanwhile, nearly 3.3 million Yemeni people, including 2.1 million children, are currently suffering from acute malnutrition.

“The situation remains dire. Thousands are falling sick every day. Sustained efforts are required to stop the spread of disease. Nearly 80 percent of Yemen’s children need immediate humanitarian assistance,” the UN statement noted.

The UN officials urged Yemeni leaders to find “a peaceful political solution to the conflict” and called on the international community to “redouble its support for the people of Yemen.”

“If we fail to do so, the catastrophe we have seen unfolding before our eyes will not only continue to claim lives but will scar future generations and the country for years to come,” the statement pointed out.

Since March 2015, Yemen has been under relentless airstrikes by Saudi fighter jets as part of a brutal campaign against the country in an attempt to crush the Houthi Ansarullah movement and reinstall the former president, Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, a staunch ally of Riyadh.

The campaign has seriously damaged the country’s infrastructure. Local Yemeni sources have put the death toll from the Saudi war at over 12,000, including many women and children.

Full report at:



Arab World


Iraq: After Islamic State, Mosul rebuilds monuments, mosques and society

Jul 26, 2017

Faisal Jeber arrested and interrogated suspected Islamic State militants during the battle for Mosul. Now he is taking up a new fight that could be just as crucial to the city’s future.

The 47-year-old geologist is trying to restore historical sites damaged during the militant Islamist group’s brutal three-year rule over the northern Iraqi city.

By piecing back together buildings which he says gave Mosul its soul and identity before the war, Jeber hopes also to help rebuild its social fabric.

But the city’s renaissance could take a generation, if it happens at all, he says, and it is uncertain how Mosul and other Iraqi towns and cities recaptured by government forces will look afterwards.

How Mosul’s identity is reconstituted will help determine whether Iraqi leaders can pacify a country dogged by jihadists and sectarian bloodshed for the past decade.

“ISIS (Islamic State) tried hard to destroy Mosul’s identity by demolishing everything and making it monochrome,” Faisal told Reuters in Mosul. “I am using this to unite my city and then maybe the whole country.”

Before the war, Mosul was Iraq’s second-largest city, known for its diversity, religious conservatism and nationalism. After the U.S.-led invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein in 2003, it became a base for al Qaeda and the Sunni insurgency.

Since IS seized Mosul in 2014 in the face of the Iraqi army’s collapse, the militants have blown up monuments, evicted communities that had lived together for centuries and turned neighbours against each other.

Following the group’s defeat in Mosul this month in a U.S-backed offensive, billboards have gone up on a main road hailing the city as the cradle of civilisation and showing landmarks dating back to the days of Mesopotamia.

It is, Jeber says, a unique moment to rebuild Mosul’s multicultural identity and combat radical Islamism.

“It’s an opportunity and it’s just the right time to do it because if you talked to any Mosulawi about that before (IS), nobody would accept it. But now people came out of a radical Muslim experience, they are in shock,” he said.

“Either we do it this year and we use this opportunity or else we lose it forever. We have a very narrow window.”


Jeber was detained by IS in 2014 on suspicion of spying and threatened with execution, but escaped and went on to use his knowledge of Mosul to help Iraqi forces target the insurgents.

He formed a government-backed militia last year to arrest and interrogate suspected militants in areas retaken from IS but now intends to use it to secure heritage sites. He also runs a non-governmental organisation tasked with restoring antiquities.

Jeber wants to start rebuilding at the site of the Mosque of the Prophet Jonah, which was constructed on top of a Christian monastery. The site marks Jonah’s mythical burial place and also contains the remains of a Zoroastrian temple and an Assyrian palace.

“The site is four levels of civilisation,” he explained during a visit to the site this month.

IS blew up the mosque and dug tunnels in search of valuable antiquities, destabilising the base.

Read more

Muslim clerics want to rebuild the site as a mosque. One has already set a cornerstone but Jeber says that restoring it as a heritage site honouring its multiple historical identities would do much more to turn the page on IS.

There is, however, no guarantee Mosul will be the same as it was before IS arrived. Some exhausted residents have stopped attending mosque and are looking for an alternative to the religiosity that was once central to their lives.

Ramadan, the Muslim month of fasting, was less strictly observed this year in eastern Mosul after the Iraqi military forced out IS. Some restaurants stayed open and people smoked in public, acts prohibited even before the militants’ takeover.


Reviving Mosul’s historic traditions will depend partly on whether Iraq’s Shi’ite-led government can win the trust of Sunnis, many of whom welcomed IS when it stormed the city because they felt marginalised and mistreated.

In eastern Mosul’s poor Intisar district, a long-time Islamist bastion, buildings are covered in bullet marks and raw sewage flows past recently reopened storefronts. Army and police checkpoints fly Shi’ite flags that irk Sunni residents.

Abu Abdullah, sitting on a plastic chair outside his shop, says many men joined IS not because they were convinced by its ideology but because of disaffection with government corruption.

“Daesh (IS) gained popularity because of injustice. If the injustice remains, maybe these youths will revert to that,” he said. “There could be a new Daesh which would be more intense.”

Many people simply do not feel safe, including Sunni Arabs whose neighbours supported IS and members of minority groups such as 30-year-old Christian schoolteacher Kindi Majeed.

He fled Mosul with his wife but his mother stayed behind and died in a hospital 10 days before Iraqi forces recaptured it.

He now lives in a camp an hour’s drive from Mosul housing 5,000 Christians. He has no plans to return to the city.

“Daesh militants have been eliminated but the Daesh idea remains,” he said. “How can I live with my neighbours who branded me an infidel? How can my daughter live with them?”



Terrorists Control Less than 10sq/km of Area in Arsal, Hezbollah on Verge of Great Victory

Jul 26, 2017

The source confirmed that only three heights stretching over 7sq/km of area are under Al-Nusra Front's control in Arsal heights, adding the resistance forces will soon reach the regions of Wadi Hamid and al-Malahi after capturing the terrorist-held three heights.

Once, Hezbollah seizes control over the three heights, it will complete liberation of Arsal heights, the source said.

The source went on to say that after tightening noose on the Al-Nusra whose commander, Amar Wardi, has sustain lethal injuries, the terrorist front in Arsal heights has completely collapsed.

Reports said earlier today that the Lebanese Hezbollah troops have driven the Al-Nusra Front (Tahrir al-Sham Hay'at or the Levant Liberation Board) out of more than 90 percent of lands in Arsal heights, field sources confirmed.

The sources said that the resistance forces engaged in fierce clashes with Al-Nusra and imposed control over the heights of Sarj al-Kharabah, Tal'ah, al-Nasab and Aqaba Nouh in Eastern Arsal.

Tens of Al-Nusra fighters were killed or wounded and three military vehicles and a missile Launchpad were destroyed in the attack, they added.

Full report at:



Raqqa: 29 civilians dead in US-led air strikes

27 July 2017

A barrage of US-led coalition air strikes killed 29 civilians on Wednesday in Syria’s Raqqa, half of which is still held by ISIS, a monitor said. “At least eight children are among the dead,” said Syrian Observatory for Human Rights chief Rami Abdel Rahman.

Backed by the US-led coalition, the Syrian Democratic Forces have waged a months-long offensive on Raqa and have successfully captured half the city, according to the Observatory.

It was earlier reported that a US-backed alliance has ousted ISIS group militants from half of their Syrian bastion Raqqa, a monitor said Wednesday, less than two months after its fighters entered the city.

“The Syrian Democratic Forces are now in control of 50 percent of Raqqa city despite the fierce resistance mounted by ISIS,” said Rami Abdel Rahman of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. The SDF’s Arab and Kurdish fighters broke into Raqqa on June 6 after spending months chipping away at miliants-held territory around the northern Syrian city.

Coalition fighting ISIS

They have since steadily advanced in a pincer-like motion, closing in on the city center. The SDF assault has been backed by air strikes, special forces advisers, equipment and weapons from the US-led coalition fighting ISIS in Syria and neighboring Iraq. But ISIS has fought back using car bombs, suicide attacks and weaponized drones. ISIS first seized Raqqa in early 2014, and the city has since become synonymous with the group’s most gruesome atrocities.

It carried out public beheadings and is also thought to have used Raqqa as a hub for planning attacks overseas. Tens of thousands of civilians have fled the escalating violence, and the United Nations estimates that up to 50,000 people are still trapped inside the city.

Full report at:



Egypt security forces kill four suspected militants: Ministry

26 July 2017

Egypt’s security forces killed four suspected militants and arrested two others thought to have carried out an attack on a checkpoint south of Cairo earlier this month, an interior ministry statement said on Monday.

Egypt has been battling an ISIS-led insurgency in the Sinai Peninsula that has killed hundreds of soldiers and police officers since 2013. But attacks have increasingly moved into the mainland in recent months.

The interior ministry said security forces raided two hideouts in western Cairo, leading to an exchange of gunfire between them and the suspected militants. The statement did not say when the raid took place.

The checkpoint attack in the al-Badrasheen area of Giza province, 30 km (20 miles) south of the capital, killed two officers and three conscripts.

This month, Egypt saw one of the worst attacks on its security forces in years, when 23 soldiers were killed after two suicide car bombs were detonated in North Sinai.



Syrian Army Wins back More Territories from ISIL in Eastern Homs

Jul 26, 2017

The army men deployed East of Jubab Hamd continued to advance against ISIL and imposed full control over al-Baqile region and hill overlooking Rasm Hamadeh region.

ISIL suffered several casualties and its military hardware sustained major damage in the attack.

Relevant reports said on Tuesday that the army dispatched hundreds of fresh forces to Eastern Homs to kick off the last phase of anti-terrorism operation to free the key town of al-Sukhnah in the depth of Badiyeh (desert).

Several convoys carrying hundreds of fresh soldiers were sent to the Eastern direction of the ancient city of Palmyra in Humeimeh region, field sources confirmed, adding that the newly-arrived forces were to take part in the final phase of anti-ISIL operation to capture al-Sukhnah and drive terrorists out of T2 military base.

Full report at:



Security reinforcements sent to Lebanese Christian town of Al-Qaa

26 July 2017

Security reinforcements were sent to the Lebanese Christian town of Al-Qaa after reports that gunmen may have entered.

A number of suicide bombers attacked the Lebanese Christian village last year killing a number of people and wounding dozens more.

ISIS was responsible for the bombings in the village of Qaa on Lebanon's border with Syria.

Lebanon has been repeatedly jolted by militant attacks linked to the war in neighboring Syria, where the powerful Lebanese Shi'ite group Hezbollah is fighting in support of President Bashar al-Assad.

It was not clear why the town had been targeted, as Lebanon’s Christians have not played a role in Syria’s civil war.

Full report at:



One killed as Saudi forces shell homes in Shia town

Jul 26, 2017

Saudi regime forces have launched a fresh wave of shelling attacks against a besieged town in Saudi Arabia’s Shia-populated Eastern Province, killing at least one person and damaging several houses.

On Wednesday, a series of video footage circulating on social media websites showed Saudi troops, equipped with heavy weapons, waging a new offensive against Awamiyah, located some 390 kilometers northeast of the capital, Riyadh.

Several homes, business and historical have been totally destroyed or partially damaged after Saudi forces shelled al-Jamima neighborhood and  al-Mosara, the old quarter of the town of Awamiyah.

A Shia resident identified as Mohsen el-Aojami lost his life after he was sprayed with  bullets by Saudi forces.

There are reportedly at least two Indian migrant workers among those injured in the raids.

Main entrances to the region have been closed and the regime forces have imposed heavy restrictions on movement of the citizens. 

Residents have been forced to stay indoors as the regime has deployed snipers across the entire region.

The Riyadh regime forces in riot gear have also set up barricades and security checkpoint to prevent people from organizing any gathering or protest rally.

Local residents complain that police deployed at the  checkpoints are snatching and stealing their personal belongings.

Authorities also shut down internet and mobile services across the area.

Earlier reports said that garbage has piled up as Saudi forces continue to prevent relevant authorities from collecting trash across several areas.

The developments come as a fierce crackdown on protesters there enters its 76th day.

Dozens of civilians have lost their lives in the ongoing heavy-tactic crackdown by the Riyadh regime since then.

Security forces equipped with heavy weapons have been deployed in Eastern Province's Awamiyah since May 10, following fierce clashes between the regime forces and locals protesting against the destruction.

On May 24, UN experts criticized the ongoing attempts to demolish Mosara and accused the Saudi kingdom of erasing cultural heritage, violating human rights, and forcing residents to flee their homes.

According to a statement issued by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Karima Bennoune, the UN Special Rapporteur accused Saudi security forces of "irreparably burning down" historic buildings and forcing residents to flee their homes.

Bulldozers escorted by heavily armored military vehicles have demolished several houses, business and historical sites across the Shia-majority region over the past few weeks.

A number of human rights groups and activists have expressed deep concern about the living conditions of people in Awamiyah who are suffering from a severe water shortage and are using private generators to produce electricity.

Also in late May,  a Saudi court handed down death sentences to over a dozen young Shia activists from the restive Qatif region, which has been the scene of peaceful protest rallies against the ruling Al Saudi regime in recent years.

Eastern Province has been the scene of anti-regime protests since early 2011. Riyadh has stepped up security measures in the Shia-majority region. Protesters want freedom of speech, the release of political prisoners, and an end to economic and religious discrimination exercise by authorities.

Full report at:



Minor recovery in Aleppo shows battered Syrian state

July 27, 2017

ALEPPO, Syria: In eastern Aleppo, bodies still lie under the rubble, graveyards are full, people are short of electricity and bread, and some children take classes in mosques because their schools have been ruined by war.

Seven months after the army drove rebels from their stronghold in the Syrian city, the state looks paper thin there, with most services seen by Reuters provided by residents or with help from international aid agencies or local charities.

Aleppo was Syria's most populous city and industrial engine before the war and its recapture delivered President Bashar al-Assad his biggest in a string of battlefield victories.

Its recovery would not just be symbolic of Assad's improving fortunes, but a signal that the Syrian state was capable of revival after years of weakness.

The United Nations says about 200,000 people have returned to east Aleppo after it emptied during the fighting, mostly from temporary accommodation in areas held by the government.

However in al-Kalasa district, which Reuters visited in both early February and mid July with a government official who was present during some interviews with residents, the city's recovery seemed slow and largely out of state hands.

Electricity came from private generators, water from wells or tanks filled by aid agencies, bread from charities, and basic education and healthcare with help from the United Nations.

The government removed mountains of rubble from main streets after the fighting, and Aleppo's assistant governor told Reuters the state was ultimately responsible for the services provided by aid agencies.

But in Kalasa, retaken in December amid a furious bombardment with help from Russia and Iran, the strongest signs of the state's presence were a concrete checkpoint and a poster of Assad pledging: "We will rebuild".

After six years of war, his state is in tatters. Large parts of the country remain outside its control. Western sanctions have hobbled the economy. Water and power services are in ruins, road networks wrecked and hundreds of thousands of working-age men remain under arms.

Hard Lessons

Eight-year-old Ghassan Batash would have attended the Yarmouk and Sabbagh school but it is unusable.

Its walls still carry the logo of Jaish al-Islam, a rebel faction that made the school its base. In the library stands a "hell cannon" or homemade mortar.

In the schoolyard, two big craters show where air strikes targeted rebel fighters, wrecking classrooms.

It left Ghassan, who wants to be a soldier when he grows up and likes playing soccer in the street, with the choice of walking to school elsewhere or going to the mosque.

But at the Abdulatif school in Firdous district and the Karameh school in Bustan al-Qasr, which run summer programs supported by the United Nations, the head teachers said class sizes had nearly doubled.

"People are still coming back so we're still taking more students every day," said Maha Mushaleh, the head of Abdulatif school.

Less than a quarter of east Aleppo's 200 schools are working, said Abdulghani al-Qasab, the assistant governor, adding that the government is working with the United Nations to rehabilitate 100 more.

In the mosque, Imam Abdulrahman Dawkha said he provided Arabic tuition for 250 boys and girls.

Ghassan's father, Ayad, says he wants his son to return to the national school system as soon as possible, something he hopes will be possible by September. But, for now, he is just happy that he is learning Arabic.


When Reuters last visited Kalasa, Ayad was clearing rubble by hand from al-Mouassassi street, where his family shared a house with other relatives.

There was no electricity or water and the family relied on paraffin lamps for light and on wood foraged by the children from ruined houses for warmth.

But Ayad, a supporter of Assad, says the situation is much better now than it was in February and he believes the government is responsible for that.

He has found a construction job and he lives with his wife and four small children in her parents' flat in the road behind Mouassassi street.

In his mother Heyam's flat, there is still no door except a plastic sheet, but a cable to the local generator means she has a light bulb, a fan and a television.

She proudly presented a plate of traditional biscuits she had made for the Eid al-Fitr religious festival. "It's the first Eid since the war began that feels like Eid and the first one we've had back in our house, so I wanted to do everything properly," she said.

Much of the rubble around Kalasa is gone and the district feels livelier.


However, the government presence appeared minimal in Kalasa except for a checkpoint that has grown larger since February, with the addition of concrete positions for the soldiers.

Almost everybody Reuters spoke to there and elsewhere in Aleppo complained about the lack of electricity and water. The city power station was destroyed but pylons are being built to carry electricity to the city.

The assistant governor, Qasab, said he believed the power situation would improve in August.

In Kalasa, Ayad pays 2,000 lira ($3.86) a week for a trickle of electricity from a generator owned by a local businessman that operates from 2pm-4pm and from 6pm-1am.

Electricity is also needed to power private wells in east Aleppo, most of which are little more than a pump attached to a pipe drilled down to the water table.

That water is used for washing, with drinking water available from red plastic tanks provided by aid agencies.


How far the lack of services is a result of limited government capacity, the scale of destruction, or out of disregard for areas that were held by the opposition is disputed.

The government says it is even-handed in its treatment of all areas under its control.

In Kalasa, most streets were missing at least one house through bombardment with many others uninhabitable.

One area of alleyways near Mouassassi street was completely razed and neighbors said five bodies were still buried there. Grieving relatives came each day to cry and say prayers over the bomb site.

The dead are never far away. Between Kalasa square and the ruined school is the cemetery, so full that there is little space to walk between graves, and some stones are marked by bullets or shrapnel. War dead were often buried in existing graves, their names added to tombstones in black paint.


Ayad's mother Heyam stood at the Kalasa breadline, clutching the small pink book on which a volunteer marks the date after giving her eight flat loaves.

The bread is handed out from 8am-10am by volunteers from the UN's World Food Programme and a local charity called "For Aleppo".

Although there are three bakeries in Kalasa, none has opened. The owner of two of them, Hamoud Ati, said the government had urged him to reopen but had not given him a permit.

The lack of local bakeries to supplement the bread handouts was a constant complaint in Kalasa. Qasab said he did not know why bakeries had not been given permits.

Iftikhar Sankari took two bags of bread from the breadline but needs to go elsewhere to buy four more to feed her family and those of two widowed sisters.

Her brother died in a barrel bomb attack and her father from a chlorine gas bomb, she said. Her youngest child was shot by a sniper.

"I picked her up and she was bleeding. I carried her to the hospital and they told me she had died," she said, in tears. "She died in my arms."

Full report at:



Clashes rock Syria truce zone as regime air strikes rebel-held areas

26 July 2017

Clashes erupted overnight in a rebel-held enclave outside Damascus, which was also hit by government air strikes despite a truce deal, a monitor said on Wednesday.

An internationally brokered ceasefire zone covering parts of Eastern Ghouta went into effect on Saturday.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the overnight fighting was the first in the enclave since the truce began.

Government troops clashed with fighters of the Faylaq al-Rahman rebel group in the Ain Tarma district, the Britain-based monitoring group said.

The fighting subsided by Wednesday morning but government warplanes then carried out strikes in the area.

Faylaq al-Rahman is allied with former Al-Qaeda affiliate Fateh al-Sham Front and the pro-government Al-Watan newspaper reported on Monday that it was excluded from the truce.

Government air strikes also hit the Utaya district of Eastern Ghouta, killing a girl and wounding seven other civilians, as well as the town of Zamalka, the Observatory said.

The new strikes came after two days of government air raids on the town of Arbeen in Eastern Ghouta, which killed 12 civilians, among them children.

The so-called “de-escalation” zone deal, hammered out by government allies Russia and Iran and rebel backer Turkey in May, covers only part of Eastern Ghouta, a large region that is key opposition territory.

A map displayed at a Russian defence ministry briefing appeared to show that the areas hit late on Tuesday and on Wednesday were inside the ceasefire zone.

“The air strikes and the clashes are a violation of the truce,” Observatory director Rami Abdel Rahman said.

On Tuesday, a Russian military official denied that any air strikes had hit inside the ceasefire zone, which is being monitored in part by Russian police.

The Russian defence ministry map appears to show at least part of Arbin may be excluded from the truce zone.

Eastern Ghouta is the second of four proposed ceasefire zones to be implemented, after parts of the southern provinces of Daraa, Sweida and Quneitra.

Full report at:



Nasrallah says Arsal operation decided solely by Hezbollah

Jul 26, 2017

The secretary general of Lebanon’s resistance movement Hezbollah Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah says a recent military operation by the group against terrorists in the Syria-Lebanon border region, which resulted in significant victories for the Lebanese forces, was solely an internal issue and no other party outside Lebanon was involved in the case.

“The Arsal operation was solely decided by Hezbollah,” Nasrallah said in a televised speech on Wednesday, making a reference to the Lebanese border town, which was the epicenter of an anti-terror fight on the Syria-Lebanon border over the past week.

Elaborating on the significance of the operation, Nasrallah said the area that straddles the Lebanese-Syrian border was known for its harsh geographical features, saying Hezbollah forces and allies in the Lebanese and Syrian army made a great achievement by liberating key positions from the militants.

Nasrallah hailed the sacrifices made by the Lebanese military in the fight against terrorists, saying the army proved that it was a real partner for the resistance.

He said Lebanon’s military and security officials played a major role in the operation, adding that they facilitated victories against terrorists of al-Nusra Front in the Syria-Lebanon region.

Nasrallah said the operation to recapture the border area from Nusra, which is currently known as Jabhat Fatah al-Sham, was almost complete and nearly 100 percent of the territories that used to be controlled by the Takfiri terrorists were now liberated.

Hezbollah said on Tuesday that resistance fighters had regained control over Komail plains as well as Hamoudi, Baidar and Shoabat al-Nihla areas on the outskirts of the northeastern border town of Arsal, located 124 kilometers (77 miles) northeast of the capital Beirut.

Hezbollah launched a major push last Friday to clear both sides of Lebanon's border with Syria of “armed terrorists.”

In August 2014, Jabhat Fateh al-Sham and Daesh Takfiri terrorist groups overran Arsal, killing a number of Lebanese forces. They took 30 soldiers hostage, most of whom have been released.

Since then, Hezbollah and the Lebanese military have been defending Lebanon on the country’s northeastern frontier against foreign-backed terrorist groups from neighboring Syria.

Full report at:





Terrorists Will Be Annihilated With the Power of Unity: Punjab Chief Minister

July 27, 2017

LAHORE: While talking to a delegation of Pakistan Muslim League-N who called on him on Wednesday, Punjab Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif said that Pakistan belongs to all of us and we shall work jointly to safeguard it. Terrorism, fanaticism and sectarianism are not the destiny of the people and such menaces have no place in the Pakistan of Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah.

In light of the suicide blast at Kot Lakhpat, Lahore, the CM said that Pakistanis are a brave nation and its sacrifices in the war against terrorism are acknowledged everywhere. The commitment of the Pakistani nation is even higher than the challenge of terrorism and this country will be made a heaven of peace by defeating the menace of terrorism at every cost. The terrorists, as well as their facilitators, will be completely annihilated with the power of unity and cohesion.

He said that the officers, jawans of Pak Army and their children, police officers and members of other security agencies have rendered immortal sacrifices in the war against terrorism and added that the people have also shed their blood in this anti-terrorism crusade.

The holy land is burning in the fire of terrorism for the last many decades and the facilitators siding with the cowards targeting the police officials and innocent citizens deserve exemplary punishment and no leniency can be given to them, he said. The terrorists targeting the innocent citizens are not even eligible to be called humans and they are complete savage beasts, he added.

He said that martyred persons sacrificing their lives in the war against terrorism cannot be retracted but the revenge of precious blood of these martyrs will be taken at every cost. He said that war against terrorism is the war of our survival. And thousands of Pakistanis have embraced martyrdom but this has not lessened the commitment of our nation against the terrorism.

He said that it is not an ordinary warfare as it is the battle of our as well as that of coming generations’ survival. He added that the coward activities of the terrorists cannot weaken the strong commitment of Pakistani nation. Our enemies are conspiring against the motherland but the nation will never let the nefarious designs of the enemies succeed. The nation has failed every attempt at creating unrest in the country with the power of unity and cohesion and no such conspiracy will be allowed to succeed in future as well, he said.

On one side, the enemies are conspiring to dent the solidarity of the country and on the other side some defeated political elements are creating hindrances against Pakistan which is fast moving on the road to prosperity, the CM said. They are doing it to satiate their evil ego. It’s time to maintain unity instead of creating any disunity in the nation and we should think for the country and die for it because we all owe everything to Pakistan, concluded Shehbaz Sharif.



Missing Pakistani officials recovered in Afghanistan


by Tahir Khan

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan on Wednesday said two of its diplomatic officials who were abducted in Afghanistan on June 16 have been ‘safely recovered’ in Afghanistan.

“President Ashraf Ghani personally phoned Pakistan’s Charge d’Affiares in Kabul to inform that the Afghan security forces had recovered the two Pakistani officials in a security operation,” the Foreign Office said in a statement issued late on Wednesday. Two officials of the Pakistani Consulate in the eastern Jalalabad city had gone missing while travelling from Jalalabad to the border town of Torkham. It was unclear as to who had been behind the kidnapping. No group had claimed responsibility.

Later in the evening, the two officials were handed over to the Embassy of Pakistan in Kabul by the Afghan Ministry of Foreign Affairs. They would be flown back to Pakistan to join their families as soon as possible, the foreign office statement said.Foreign Secretary Tehmina Janjua talked to Afghan Deputy Foreign Minister Hekmat Karzai and conveyed Pakistan’s deep gratitude over safe recovery of the abducted officials. Daily Times has learnt that Gulab Mangal, governor of Nangarhar province, of which Jalalabad is the capital, had actively been involved in efforts to recover the missing officials. According to the information initially shared with Pakistan, a criminal gang had possibly been involved in the kidnapping in connivance with a local private driver.



CII’s opinion sought on petition against death by hanging

Waseem Ahmad Shah

July 27, 2017

PESHAWAR: A Peshawar High Court bench on Tuesday directed the Council of Islamic Ideology and attorney general for Pakistan to respond to a petition seeking its orders for the government to introduce a less painful mode of execution than hanging.

Justice Lal Jan Khattak and Justice Abdul Shakoor extended a stay order against the execution of a death row prisoner, Jan Bahadur, until the disposal of his petition.

The bench asked the CII to explain its viewpoint on the petitioner’s prayer in light of Islamic injunctions.

It also directed that the attorney general should explain the legal position on the points raised by the petitioner.

Kept at the Haripur Central Prison, the petitioner has requested the high court to declare death by hanging un-Islamic and unconstitutional saying it is painful and against human values.

He said Section 368 of the Code of Criminal Procedure stated, “When any person is sentenced to death, the sentence shall direct that he be hanged by the neck till he is dead.”

The petitioner requested the court to order end to the execution of death row prisoners by hanging saying it is cruel, painful, un-Islamic and inhuman.

He added that the court should order the authorities to adopt the modes of execution, which were not painful. The respondents in the petition are the home secretary, superintendent of the Haripur Central Prison, law secretary, CII secretary and Mardan’s district and sessions judge.

Additional advocate general Qaisar Ali Shah, who appeared for the provincial government, requested the court to give him some time for preparing the case.

Former deputy attorney general Mohammad Khursheed Khan, who appeared for the petitioner, said his client was arrested in connection with a murder case registered at the Takht Bhai police station in Mardan on Oct 22, 1993.

He added that the petitioner was sentenced to death by an additional district and sessions judge on Apr 7, 2000, in Takht Bhai and that the judgment was upheld first by the high court and then by the Supreme Court.

The lawyer said his client’s review and clemency petitions were rejected and therefore, his black warrant could be issued any time by the trial court.

Khursheed Khan requested the court to extend a stay order earlier issued by it against the execution of the petitioner.

He said there were nine modes of death penalties, including through firing squad, gas chamber and electric chair, hanging, shooting in the head, lethal injection, beheading, stoning and pushing from unspecified height.

The lawyer said in the past, the mode of execution in all US states was hanging but the use of electric chair was devised as a less painful mode.

He added that in 1921, the State of Nevada introduced gas chamber for carrying out death penalty.

The lawyer said in more than 30 US states, the convicts were executed by lethal injection, which was considered more humane and less painful than other modes of execution.

“Three injections are administered to a death row prisoner. The first injection leaves a prisoner unconscious, the second paralyses his body and the third stops his heart from functioning,” he said.

The lawyer claimed that 28 countries executed prisoners through firing squad and 22 by shooting gunshots in head.

Full report at:



Religious scholar shot dead in Charsadda

July 27, 2017

PESHAWAR -  A prominent religious scholar Maulana Haq Nawaz was shot dead by unidentified armed assailants in Charsadda on Wednesday morning.

The incident happened when Haq Nawaz was on his way to home after offering Fajr Prayer. The killing sparked a public outcry and protest.

Khateeb Jamia Mahmoodia Maulana Haq Nawaz was gunned down in the Matta Mughal Khail area of Charsadda, sources said.  Local sources said that Haq was coming back from the mosque after offering Fajr Prayer when attackers opened indiscriminate fire on Haq and fled. He succumbed to his injuries on the way to hospital.

He was Khateeb and prayer leader in Jamia Mahmoodia Matta Mughal Khail and had no enmity with anyone. The local police have registered a case against unidentified assailants and started the investigation.

Following the incident, a large number of people reached the hospital where staged a protest demonstration against Haq’s murder.

They demanded of the KP government to arrest the killers at earliest. Haq was among the prominent religious scholars and a large number of students graduated from his seminary.

It is pertinent to mention here that the area is adjacent to the lawless tribal area of Mohmand Agency where frequent incidents of terrorism and target killing have happened in the past.

The body was taken to the hospital for medico-legal formalities.

Meanwhile, two other people were killed when two groups clashed with each other over a petty issue in the Mani Khail area of Sir Derhi. The clash broke out over children’s fight.

Both groups exchanged hot words over kid’s issue and later opened fire on each other.

Full report at:





Algiers police bust terrorist group affiliated with Daesh

Jul 26, 2017

Algerian police have broken up a Daesh terrorist cell led by a former al-Qaeda commander convicted in France more than a decade ago for planning an attempted bombing in Strasbourg, a security source said on Wednesday.

Mohamed Yacine Aknouche, 43, was once a Europe-based affiliate of Algeria's Islamic Armed Group (GIA), and was sentenced in absentia by a French court in 2004 to eight years prison, said the source, who asked not to be named.

The source told Reuters that Algerian forces captured Aknouche this week near Tipaza, a coastal city 50 km west of the capital Algiers where officials charge he had been planning to carry out attacks on security forces. It was not clear when he had returned to Algeria.

Militant attacks and bombings are rarer in Algeria since the North African country ended its decades-long 1990s war with armed extremists in which 200,000 people died.

But remnants of al Qaeda brigades remain active and Daesh has been trying to recruit more people.

The Algerian newspaper Ennahar quoted unnamed security sources as saying the cell was based in the village of Ain Taggourait and had plotted attacks in Algiers. Aknouche's cell, it said, had trained in a nearby forest using homemade weapons.

After the 1990s war, Algeria fought several armed groups in a bloody conflict that ended when many militants accepted a truce and reconciliation deal.

There were around 35,000 active militants at the height of the conflict, but security sources say there are now between 800 to 1,000, mostly in remote mountain and border areas.

A hardcore of militants that stayed in the mountains after rejecting the peace accord belong to both Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) and the local branch of Daesh known as Jund Al Khilafa. They have mostly targeted security forces in remote areas with ambushes.

In 2014, Algerian Special Forces killed the leader of Daesh local branch. Security sources named him as Abdelmalek Gouri and said he was behind the kidnapping and beheading of French tourist Herve Gourdel in September 2014.



'Boko Haram kills 2 gendarmes' in Cameroon attack

26 July 2017

Two gendarmes were killed and several others injured during a Boko Haram attack in the Far North Region near the Nigerian border on Wednesday, a military official said on Wednesday.

"Members of Boko Haram launched an attack at a gendarmerie station at dawn in the town of Sagme near Fotokol around the Lake Chad area and the incursion resulted in the death of two gendarmes,'' Brig. Gen. Frederick Ndjokep, commander of a regional force, said

"Several other soldiers were injured during the attack," Ndjokep added. 

"The heavily armed assailants fled to Nigeria via river when an army reinforcement arrived," a military source, who spoke on condition of anonymity due to restrictions on talking to the media, said.

This is the second attack at a military post in the Far North Region since Monday.

Last Monday, Boko Haram attacked a military station of the Multinational Joint Task Force that left a soldier dead, according to the military.

The latest attack comes as 10 Cameroonian regional governors gathered in the capital Yaounde to find solutions to the fight against terrorism that has hit the country’s economy hard.

Last month, the Ministry of Defense announced the recruitment of more than 7,000 gendarmes and military personnel as part of the fight against Boko Haram.

Around 26 million people in the Lake Chad region have been affected by Boko Haram violence and more than 2.6 million displaced, according to the UN.

Full report at:



Two Moroccan peacekeepers killed in C. Africa attack - UN

JULY 26 2017


Two Moroccan UN peacekeepers were Tuesday killed in an attack in the Central African Republic's southeast, two days after the death of another soldier from the same contingent, the force said, blaming pro-Christian militias for the violence.

"The Minusca (peacekeeping mission) regrets to announce the deaths of two more blue helmets on Tuesday afternoon in Bangassou," a town 700 kilometres (430 miles) east of the capital Bangui, the peacekeeping force said in a statement.

The Moroccan peacekeepers "were killed in an ambush by suspected anti-Balaka fighters, while another peacekeeper was slightly injured," Minusca said in its statement.

The UN peacekeepers were attacked as they were stocking up with water "for the humanitarian needs of the town," the statement added.

The country is struggling to emerge from a civil war that erupted in 2013 following the overthrow of former president Francois Bozize, a Christian, by Muslim rebels from the Seleka coalition.


The coup led to the formation of "anti-Balaka" (anti-machete) vigilante units, drawn from the Christian majority, which began to target Muslims. Both sides committed widespread atrocities.

On the border with the Democratic Republic of Congo, Bangassou has in recent weeks become the epicentre of the unrest in the Central African Republic.

A similar ambush in Bangassou on Sunday left another Moroccan UN peacekeeper dead.


On Friday, a patrol of peacekeepers was shot at and one of the attackers killed, a MINUSCA spokesman told AFP, again blaming pro-Christian militias.

Six blue helmets were killed in Bangassou in May.

Former colonial power France intervened in 2013 to stop violent Christian-Muslim clashes and formally ended its peacekeeping mission only last month, hailing it a success despite fresh outbreaks of violence.

Full report at:



Boko Haram kidnaps 10 researchers, kills soldiers in Nigeria

26 July 2017

KANO, MAIDUGURI, Nigeria: Gunmen believed to be Boko Haram militants killed at least 10 military personnel and kidnapped a similar number of university workers after an ambush in northeast Nigeria, colleagues and the state-run oil firm said on Wednesday.

"About 10 staff from the survey and geological department of the University of Maiduguri were abducted on Tuesday," said Ndu Ughamadu of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).

Ughamadu said the NNPC had contracted the team to carry out research work on oil exploration activities taking place in the Lake Chad basin.

"They were kidnapped around Jibi village in Borno state after a gun duel between the security agents accompanying them and suspected Boko Haram fighters," he told AFP.

Efforts were under way to track down the captors before a possible rescue operation. Jibi village is in the Magumeri area of Borno, northwest of the state capital, Maiduguri.

University of Maiduguri spokesman Danjuma Gambo confirmed the abduction and said the institution was awaiting further details from security operatives.

"There is no denying the fact that this incident happened, involving our staff, NNPC workers and security escorts from the military and the (civilian militia)," he added.

"Our staff who were recruited as consultants were on the team that was ambushed."

The oil prospecting team had been working in the Magumeri area of Borno state for the last month, according to another member of staff, who asked not to be identified.

"It was clear Boko Haram studied their movements before attacking them," he said.

Oil production has been concentrated in Nigeria's southern Niger Delta region since it was first found in commercial quantities in 1956.

But repeated attacks by militants wanting a fairer share of profits for local people has forced the government to look elsewhere.

Exploration has been started in inland basins ranging from central Benue state to Boko Haram's heartland in northeast.

But insecurity caused by the militants' insurgency over the last eight years has disrupted work, with the latest kidnapping underlining the continued threat.

Boko Haram has used kidnapping as a weapon of war in the conflict. Thousands of women and girls have been seized while men and boys have been made to fight in the Islamist ranks.

Recent kidnappings of more high-profile targets appear to have a financial motivation, possibly to raise ransom money for the cash-strapped group.

On June 20, armed gunmen abducted 10 women after an attack on a convoy of vehicles travelling toward the town of Damboa from Maiduguri.

Full report at:




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