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Islamic World News ( 5 Jul 2018, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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‘Those Using Religion to Woo Voters Interested In Islamabad, Not Islam’

New Age Islam News Bureau

5 Jul 2018

Somali militants al-Shabab - a jihadi group behind numerous devastating terror attacks in East Africa - have unironically banned the use of single-use plastic bags "to protect humans and animals".



 ‘Those Using Religion to Woo Voters Interested In Islamabad, Not Islam’

 Qadianis Not Be Allowed To Vote as Muslims: Ulema

 Assad’s Bombings Damage Roman Theater in City Mentioned by Pharaohs

 Muslims Donate Land, Money to Build Temple in Bihar

 Somalia: Eco-Jihadism - Somali Terrorist Group Bans Plastic Bags

 Migrant Children in US:  Muslim Community Offers To Host Them



 ‘Those Using Religion to Woo Voters Interested In Islamabad, Not Islam’

 Qadianis Not Be Allowed To Vote as Muslims: Ulema

 Jamaat, JUI-F Change Stand on Women’s Enfranchisement

 Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan Jumps into Electoral Race with 150 Candidates for NA Seats

 NAB decides not to arrest any election candidate

 PTI splits in Mansehra over woman’s nomination


Arab World

 Assad’s Bombings Damage Roman Theater in City Mentioned by Pharaohs

 Militants Hand Over Israeli, American Missiles to Syrian Army in Dara'a

 ISIS photo raises doubts over death of Baghdadi’s son

 Iraq launches major offensive against ISIS after they executed abductees

 Assad’s Bombings Damage Roman Theater in City Mentioned by Pharaohs

 Muslim World League chief meets religious, political, intellectual leaders in Italy

 Syrian rebels say talks with Russia over south ‘failed’



 Muslims Donate Land, Money to Build Temple in Bihar

 Yogi’s Ministers Divided over Order to Introduce Dress Code in Madrasas

 Viral Test Cracks Assam's 'Muslim Homeland' Video

 Zakir Naik: Not Coming to India, Feels Unsafe From Unfair Prosecution

 Kashmiris Being Fed With Misinformation That India Is Anti-Muslim, Says Indian Army Chief

 Lucknow Passport Officer Was Wrong In Asking Interfaith Couple about Their Religion: Internal Govt Probe

 SC/ST panel issues notice to Aligarh Muslim University over reservation rules



 Somalia: Eco-Jihadism - Somali Terrorist Group Bans Plastic Bags

 Army Kills 20 Al-Shabaab Militants in Southern Somalia

 Jordan’s foreign minister tells Russia ceasefire needed in southern Syria

 Jordan to open 3 border crossings with Syria to facilitate entry of aid

 West Africa: Attack On Sahel Counterterror Force Puts Jihadists in Focus

 Al-Shabab commander surrenders after 8 years of insurgency


North America

 Migrant Children in US:  Muslim Community Offers To Host Them

 New Ruling on Freedom of Speech Will Help Protect Against Hate

 Teachers can play key role against hatred, radicalization

 Afghan civilian casualties rose over winter: Pentagon

 Muslim-American Wins in Court against Neo-Nazi Andrew Anglin



 Activists Protest Planned West Bank Demolition of Bedouin Village

 Turkey: Decree Grants President More Power

 Iran denies training Taliban militants

 Airstrikes kill 11 PKK terrorists in SE Turkey, northern Iraq

 New advances by Yemeni army amid military buildup by Houthis

 Iran says Trump’s oil bans to backfire on US



 Tory Candidate Suspended After 'Islamophobic' Facebook Posts

 Algeria, UK Discuss Joint Efforts to Fight Terrorism

 Suspects in plot to bomb Iranian opposition rally in France to be sent to Belgium

 Merkel applauds Turkey for efforts on refugee crisis


South Asia

 Afghan Forces Kill 132 Militants in Fresh Operations

 Killings Sow Fear inside Rohingya Refugee Camps in Bangladesh

 Ghani promises thorough investigation into the deadly attack on Afghan Sikhs

 3 members of ISIS-K urban network arrested in Jalalabad city

 Top Taliban leader among 7 dead, wounded in AAF airstrikes in Faryab province


Southeast Asia

 Philippine Troops Retake Town after Standoff with Pro-Daesh Militants

 Malaysia to send Zakir Naik back to India: Report 

 Malaysian Ex-Special Branch Man Grilled Over Claim That Shia Muslims ‘Dangerous’

 Malaysia Should Focus More on LGBT Issues, Not Child Brides: Kelantan Official

 PKR sec-gen denies Malaysia's Cabinet list racially motivated 

 Indonesian police say no valid proof so far of death of ISIS fighter Bahrun Naim

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau




‘Those using religion to woo voters interested in Islamabad, not Islam’

Siraj Ali

JULY 5, 2018

CHARSADDA: Awami National Party (ANP) President Asfandyar Wali Khan has welcomed the NAB inquiry against the previous Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI)-led government in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

Khan was addressing a political gathering in Tangi area of Charsadda on Wednesday where tight security arrangements were made.

In a jibe at right-wing political parties, the ANP leader said, “Those using religion as a weapon to woo voters in Pashtoon territory are not interested in promulgation of Islamic principles.”

“They forget religion after coming into power,” he added.He alleged that Maulana Fazlur Rehman made a telephone call to former premier Nawaz Sharif, when he was on a scheduled visit to China, to stop FATA reforms bill and never demanded Sharia to be implemented in the country as their destination is Islamabad, and not Islam. He said that certain elements were trying to sabotage the 18th Amendment and warned them that his party would put up strong resistance against them. He said that he would quit politics if any ANP candidate found involved in corruption.



Qadianis not be allowed to vote as Muslims: Ulema

July 5, 2018

ISLAMABAD: The central leaders of the “Aalmi Majlis-e-Tahaffuz-e-Khatm-e-Nabuwwat” have termed demand of the Human Rights Commission that Qadianis should be given chance to cast vote in the general elections like Muslims, as against the Constitution of the country and facts.

Maulana Dr Abdul Raziq Sikandar, central Ameer of the Majlis, Pir Hafiz Nasirudin Khakwani, naib Ameer, Maulana Sahibzada Aziz Ahmad, Maulana Azizur Rahman Jalindhri, Maulana Allah Wasaya, Maulana Muhammad Ismail Shujaabadi, Maulana Azizur Rahman Sani and Maulana Abdul Naeem in a statement said that the Parliament of Pakistan had unanimously termed Qadianis as non-Muslim minority and decided that they are not part of Muslim Ummah. They said that any European NGO has no right to demand inclusion of Qadianis in Muslim Ummah. They reminded the Human Rights Commission that no power in the world could term these non-Muslim Qadianis as Muslim.



Assad’s bombings damage Roman theater in city mentioned by Pharaohs

5 July 2018

A Roman Theater at Bosra was destroyed in part by the bombardment of the city of Daraa by the Syrian army and the Russian air force. The theater is considered one of the most famous historical and cultural landmarks in the world.

Reports from various media and social media sources stated that since late June the Bosra theater has been affected by a series of bombings by the Syrian regime's army, Russian planes and  the heavy cannons used by Iranian militia fighting alongside the Assad army south of Syria.

According to reports from various sources, Russian fighter jets targeted the fortress of the historical theater of Basra, as well as its steps, which have suffered extensive destruction to large pieces of stone seats that had stood for nearly 14 centuries without harm.  

The theater of Bosra is considered the only one that is best preserved among all Roman theaters in the world.

Unique historical theater hit

The bombing targeted different areas of the unique historical theater - its western side, and the section known as the Museum of Popular Tradition.

A number of Syrian archaeologists and opponents of the Assad regime have at different times appealed to UNESCO, which has listed the city of Bosra, where the theater is located as a World Heritage site, to protect this unique human heritage from the continuous destruction caused by the bombing of the Assad army, which has affected it more than once, since the Syrian regime began bombing Syrian opposition areas.

Anas al-Miqdad, a Syrian archaeologist and academic, said in a press statement to Zaman al Wasl that UNESCO did not intervene to protect the city of Bosra and its theater, and that despite the messages he sent to the international organization to protect the world heritage, they never responded to his appeals.

He pointed out that the bombing by the Assad regime’s army and the Russian aircraft, not only targeted the theater of Basra and the fortress, but also Omri Mosque, the Cathedral of Bosra, and other urban areas which are of priceless historical importance. Various media sites, through published photos, confirmed that the theater of the Bosra was partially destroyed by Russian shelling and Assad's forces last week. The importance of this place, at the level of world history, makes its partial ruin, a historical and archaeological tragedy.

Although there is no consensus among archaeologists and historians about the exact time of the construction of the Bosra theater, it is believed that it was built between 117 and 138 AD, and shortly after the death of the Nabataean king, who had taken the city of Bosra as his capital.

Royal Pharaonic archive 

According to Dr. Said Al-Hajji, Archaeologist and former professor at the University of Damascus, the city was mentioned in the correspondence of “Tel el-Amarna” in 1350 BC, which was revealed in 1885 AD, and is considered a royal Pharaonic archive written in cuneiform script.

The famous Egyptologist, Dr. Zahi Hawass, wrote in Asharq Al Awsat in London on June 14, 2012 that “it is a unique royal archive dating Egyptian diplomacy during the heyday of Pharaonic Egypt.”

The Bosra theater, carved out of basalt stone, can accommodate more than 15,000 spectators in an area 850 meters above sea level. It has witnessed human settlement since the ancient Bronze Age. It was the capital of the Roman Arab region, then the capital of the Nabataeans, a path for the Arab convoys, and then the facade of the Islamic conquest that was to come later.



Muslims Donate Land, Money to Build Temple in Bihar

Jul 4, 2018

Gaya: In a display of communal harmony, people from the Muslim community donated money and land for constructing a temple in Bihar's Gaya district of Guraru area.

Mansood Ahmed, one of the locals, contributed six decimal land while another donated Rs 3.5 lakh for the construction.

Elated locals from the Budhpur village said, "We all live together here. This message should go across the country. The whole village came out to help in building this temple for which we are very happy."

The Budhpur village consists of Muslims in majority and was earlier recognized as a Naxal dominated area too.

The village had a mosque but not a temple in the area, which brought concern to the Muslim community as the Hindu rituals used to be practiced in the open.



Somalia: Eco-Jihadism - Somali Terrorist Group Bans Plastic Bags

4 JULY 2018

The Somalia-based terrorist group al-Shabab has banned single-use plastic bags because of the threat they pose to the environment.

Radio Andalus, the radio station run by the extremist group, broadcast news of the ban, saying discarded plastic bags "pose a serious threat to the well-being of humans and animals alike."

The group also banned the logging of native trees.

Mohamed Abu Abdalla, the group's governor for southern Somalia, said details of how the plan would be implemented would be announced later.

Plastic bags join a long list of outlawed items in al-Shabab-controlled areas, including western music, movies, satellite dishes and humanitarian agencies.

The al-Qaida-linked group has been pushing to impose the Saudi-inspired Wahhabi version of Islam in Somalia. It has imposed a strict version of Sharia in areas under its control.



Migrant Children in US:  Muslim Community Offers To Host Them

July 4, 2018

Tampa Bay [US]: Muslim community of Tampa Bay has come forward to help migrant children who are separated from their families. The community is ready to host the children.

Talking about this wonderful step, Mr. Ahmed Bedler, Islamic Society of Tampa Bay Area said, “Our religious faith calls upon us to protect the young, to protect children and emphasizes the importance of keeping families connected”. He also quoted the sayings of Prophet Mohammed (PBUH).

He made the announcement that the community is ready to host all 2300 migrant children that are currently in detention. He also informed that hundreds of Muslim families are ready to host children in their homes until they are reunited with their parents or next of kin. He further made it clear that the community is not going to take any financial help from the government.





Jamaat, JUI-F change stand on women’s enfranchisement

Zulfiqar Ali

July 05, 2018

PESHAWAR: In a paradigm shift from past practices to keep women disenfranchised, two major component parties of the Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal have launched a full-scale campaign to bring female voters to polling stations in the general elections scheduled for July 25.

The ulema have started sensitisation of boys and girls studying in seminaries across Khyber Pakhtunkhwa to convince male guardians to take female members of their families to the polling stations to cast vote.

The two hardline parties, Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl and Jamaat-i-Islami, which had previously strongly opposed the women’s participation in the electoral process in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, especially in far-flung areas like Dir, are campaigning to encourage women to cast their vote.

The religious parties not only opposed participation of women in the voting process in the recent past but they also ran a campaign against Benazir Bhutto in late 1980s when she was elected the country’s first woman prime minister, insisting that a woman could not become head of the government.

The JUI-F has been organising ulema conventions at the district level in KP to highlight the importance of vote and persuade workers to bring female members of their families to the polling station to participate in the electoral process. The party has also planned to organise workshop in Peshawar on July 15 to train women polling agents.

Spokesman for the JUI-F Abdul Jalil Jan told Dawn that the party had asked its affiliated prayer leaders to underline significance of vote in sermons and emphasise their followers to allow female members of their families to cast vote.

“Prayer leaders insist their followers in sermons that vote is a trust and guide women to stamp on the book symbol on the ballot paper,” said Jalil Jan. The Election Commission of Pakistan has allotted book as electoral symbol to MMA.

“The ulema are seeking commitment from their followers to bring women to the polling stations for casting vote,” he said, adding that the party district units were holding conventions in this regard.

The JI’s women wing has started door-to-door campaign, organising corner meetings for women at the ward and street levels in big cities and towns to encourage them to cast their vote for the MMA’s candidates.

JI spokesman Syed Jamaat Ali Shah said women wing had already started the door-to-door campaign in cities and towns.

He said women were also distributing handbills of the MMA candidates.

During a visit to the MMA’s election office in Swabi Town, an organiser said for the first time, the JUI-F was mobilising women in seminaries in the district to convince them to take part in the democratic process.

“There are over 100 seminaries for women in Swabi district which have affiliation with the JUI-F. Teachers are educating the students to participate in electoral process and give vote to the MMA candidates,” he said.

The religious minded and conservative elements were against the women’s participation in voting in the previous elections. The rival candidates used to strike agreements before polling days that no candidate would bring female voters to the polling stations. Such agreements were reported in the areas like the outskirts of Peshawar, the provincial capital.

The civil society groups protested the growing trend prompting the Election Commission of Pakistan to take legal measures to ensure participation of women in the process.

The commission got powers through the Election Commission Act, 2017, to nullify results in the constituencies, where the women’s turnout was equal to or less than 10 per cent.

The commission had nullified results of by-election in Lower Dir district following reports that women were barred from voting in 2015.

Subsequently, the Peshawar High Court set aside the order of the ECP, which appealed the verdict in the Supreme Court.

Under the act, the political parties are now also required to field women candidates on at least 5 per cent of general seats for the National Assembly and Provincial Assembly elections. Now hardliners are taking advantage of the act and making efforts to de-radicalise people about role of women in the electoral process.

The ECP election scheme shows that there are 6.61 million female voters against 8.705 million male voters in the province.

A fact-sheet designed by the Wifaqul Madaris Al-Arabia Pakistan, which regulates religious education institutions in the country, shows that 5,542 have enrolled 772,260 in KP.

Jalil Jan said Peshawar, Swabi, Nowshera and Mardan had around 400 seminaries for women having affiliation with the JUI-F that propagates Deobandi school of thought.

He said around 2,000 registered and unregistered seminaries had affiliation with the JUI-F only in Peshawar.

“The time has changed and women cannot be barred from the democratic process,” said Jalil Jan explaining shift in the stand of religious groups regarding the women’s enfranchisement.

Analyst Mohammad IIyas Khan said at prima facie this was a positive step, but it would not have a major impact on the overall turnout of voters in KP.

He said the move would not give boost to the religious parties’ vote bank in the coming elections.



Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan Jumps into Electoral Race with 150 Candidates for NA Seats

July 05, 2018

ISLAMABAD: In a recent turn of events, religious party Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) headed by Maulana Khadim Hussain Rizvi has jumped into the electoral politics getting in more candidates than many other active parties in the political arena for decades.

According to a local media report, TLP has fielded more than 150 candidates for the National Assembly seats across the country after the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) announced its incomplete ‘final list’ of candidates.

The information missing from the ECP data, available on their official website, is that of candidates from 23 constituencies in three Punjab districts. This information is withheld due to ‘court cases’ the report said. Moreover, the details of the candidates from a Rawalpindi constituency, NA-56, are also missing, for which the ECP has not mentioned any reason.

According to an analysis, after Pakistan Muslim League-N (PML-N), Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) and Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), TLP is the only party which gathered over 100 candidates’ 117 constituencies of Punjab.

The total number of TLP candidates in these 117 constituencies stands at 103, which means that the party has fielded candidates on 87 per cent of the total constituencies in the province.

The religious party gained prominence after it staged a prolonged sit-in at the intersection between Rawalpindi and Islamabad crippling life in the twin cities last year on the issue of Khatm-e-Nubuwat declaration.

The ECP data shows that the PPP has fielded the largest number of 225 candidates (90pc) in 248 constituencies across the country. The PTI and the PML-N have fielded 218 (87pc) and 193 candidates (77pc), respectively, all over the country.

Another religious party, Tehreek-e-Labbaik Islami, has also put up 18 candidates in Punjab.

Moreover, looking at the data province wise, it had been found that PTI has fielded 112 candidates in Punjab’s 120 constituencies, followed by the PML-N (111 candidates) and the PPP (108 candidates).

In Sindh, the PPP has fielded 60 candidates, out of 61 constituencies. After the PPP, followed by the PTI (45 candidates) and the PML-N (32 candidates).

The Awami National Party has fielded 38 candidates in KP.

Full report at:



NAB decides not to arrest any election candidate

Syed Irfan Raza

July 05, 2018

ISLAMABAD: The Natio­nal Accountability Bureau (NAB) on Wednesday gave some relief to the election candidates facing corruption cases by deferring their arrest until after polling day on July 25.

This decision was made in a meeting of the executive board of NAB presided over by the bureau’s chairman retired Justice Javed Iqbal.

However, those who have already been arrested will not be released.

“NAB has ... no link with election or politics,” said a press release issued by the NAB headquarters after the meeting.

The meeting decided to hold up the cases of former foreign minister Khawaja Asif, former minister of state Rana Afzal, former Punjab minister Rana Mashhood and former MNA Rai Mansab till elections to enable them to participate in the polls, the press release said. “Further investigations would be conducted after the election.”

A senior NAB official told Dawn that the bureau had decided not to arrest the election candidates facing corruption cases as no new case was mature enough to require arrests.

However, he said those candidates who had already been arrested, including Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leader Qamarul Islam and Muttahida Qaumi Movement candidate Javed Hanif, would remain under custody.

The official clarified that if a court ordered arrest of any accused, NAB would have to follow the order even before the polls.

Interestingly, since the appointment of retired Justice Iqbal as NAB chairman in October 2017, the bureau has launched probes against many leaders of the PML-N and its allies. They include ousted prime minister Nawaz Sharif and his son-in-law retired Capt Safdar, former chief minister of Punjab Shahbaz Sharif, former federal ministers Khawaja Saad Rafique, Ahsan Iqbal, Saira Afzal Tarar, Akram Durrani and Riaz Hussain Pirzada, former secretary to the prime minister Fawad Hassan Fawad and PML-N leader Ameer Muqam.

Meanwhile, the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) has rejected the NAB decision and asked what law permitted the anti-graft watchdog to avoid arrest of the accused.

PTI spokesman Fawad Chaudhry said in a statement the NAB decision to not arrest the accused was “ill-logical” and directly against laws of the country. “Anarchy prevails when the law comes under any political expediency,” he said.

He called upon NAB to review its decision and not to spare those who were involved in corruption.

Billion tree project

Taking a number of decisions, the NAB board decided to investigate into the billion tree tsunami project of the PTI-led last government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

“The meeting authorised an inquiry against officers and officials of billion tree tsunami [project] as they have been accused of inflicting Rs19 billion losses to the national kitty due to corruption in funds of the project,” the press release said.

The meeting also decided to refer a case involving the chief executive of the Fata Development Authority to the chief secretary of KP to verify complaints of ignoring rules during recruitment of 414 people.

The NAB board also gave approval of filing a corruption reference against Ahad Cheema, former director general of the Punjab Land Development Company, Shahid Shafique Alam Faridi, chief executive officer of Bismillah Engineering, a private company, owners/employees of Lahore Kasa Developers, another private firm, and some officers of the Lahore Development Authority on the charge of causing Rs660 million loss to national exchequer due to their involvement in corruption and abuse of authority.

The meeting also authorised conduct of an inquiry against the management and officials of the Punjab Sports Board and the youth festival for their involvement in corruption and misuse of authority causing Rs1.7 billion loss.

The NAB board also approved filing of a corruption reference against former inspector general of Sindh police Ghulam Haider Jamali and others for causing Rs160m loss to national exchequer.

It also approved conduct of investigations against the management of the State Bank Cooperative Housing Society and officers of the revenue department, Karachi, for illegally establishing the society on state land.

The meeting also authorised an inquiry against officers and officials of the Sindh Social Relief Fund in a corruption case involving Rs13bn.

The NAB board also approved an inquiry against Programme Manager of HIV/Aids Control Programme of the Sindh health department Dr Muhammad Younas Chachar and others for causing Rs35.236m losses to national kitty, abuse of authority and corruption.

Similarly, an inquiry will be conducted against the health secretary of Sindh and others over abuse of authority and corruption in awarding contracts that caused Rs976m loss to national exchequer.

Reference against Shaukat Aziz

Meanwhile, NAB’s Rawalpindi branch has finalised a reference against former prime minister Shaukat Aziz and PTI leader and former Sindh chief minister Liaquat Ali Jatoi.

According to sources, Mr Jatoi is wanted along with Mr Aziz in an ongoing reference pertaining to illegal appointments in the Alternative Energy Development Board.

Full report at:



PTI splits in Mansehra over woman’s nomination

July 05, 2018

MANSEHRA: The Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf is facing a split in Mansehra district over the nomination of Zahida Sabeel for PK-34 election.

Some key party leaders, including Senator Azam Khan Swati, supports independent candidate and former minister Shahzada Gustasab Khan in the constituency.

The PTI central leadership has already announced disciplinary action against the office-bearers and leaders contesting elections despite being denied tickets.

Zahida Sabeel is supported by PTI former divisional general secretary Sajid Mumtaz Khan and aspirant Saeed Khan, who withdrew his nomination papers on the order of party chief Imran Khan.

However, PTI leader Shahzada Gustasab Khan is contesting election in PK-34 as an independent candidate after the party didn’t give him ticket. PTI Senator Azam Khan Swati, who recently remained in the news for canceling the party’s election ticket for Ambreen Swati in NA-13, is supporting Mr Gustasab.

Ambreen Swati insisted that she continued to be in the running. However, the party has yet to act against those, who are contesting election as independently after ticket denial.

Ms Sabeel told a news conference here that she was being supported by the PTI leaders and workers following the ideology of Imran Khan and its vision.

Accompanied by PTI leaders Sajid Mumtaz Khan and Saeed Khan, she said she won’t withdraw from election and would contest it on the PTI ticket.

POWER PROTEST: The people blocked Milad Chowk against the prolonged and unscheduled loadshedding in Oghi area here on Wednesday.

Shouting slogans against Pesco, the protesters burned old tyres and blocked traffic for over two hours inconveniencing both motorists and commuters.

Local elder Mohammad Altaf said the Pesco had announced that it would suspend electric supply six hours daily, but ironically, it was subjecting the local residents to power outages for more than 14 hours daily.

He said the excessive power cuts had distrusted life in the entire tehsil.

Another protester, Mohammad Amir, warned that the people would block the Oghi-Mansehra Road to traffic for an indefinite period if the Pesco didn’t stick to the loadshedding schedule.

Full report at:



Arab World


Militants Hand over Israeli, American Missiles to Syrian Army in Dara'a

Jul 04, 2018

The militant groups that laid down arms and joined a peace plan in Southern Dara'a surrendered their US-made anti-tank missiles to the Syrian soldiers.

In the meantime, the Arabic-language al-Mayadeen News Channel quoted a field commander as reporting that several Israel-made missiles are also among the arms and ammunition that the militants handed over to the Syrian army in Eastern Dara'a.

The Russian Reconciliation Center for Syria announced earlier that a sum of 27 villages, townships and towns have joined the reconciliation plan in Dara'a province so far.

On Tuesday, the army's engineering units, carrying out cleansing operation in al-Moseirafeh township in Eastern Dara'a, found a well-equipped field hospital of terrorists.

The army further found a large volume of US-made medicines and medical equipment in the hospital.

Field sources said that a number of wounded terrorists had reportedly sent to Jordan and occupied territories in Israel for treatment.

The sources went on to say that the army soldiers have discovered a large volume of weapons, ammunition and Jordanian car plates in the bases that were once used by the terrorists in Dara'a.



ISIS photo raises doubts over death of Baghdadi’s son

4 July 2018

ISIS has confirmed the death of a son of its leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi following an attack in the province of Homs in central Syria.

According to ISIS news agency, Amaq, the death was announced in an official statement under the subject line “Caravans of Martyrs” and was published in the Telegram app under an Arabic username, which translates to what the extremist group calls as “the mandate of Homs”.

The agency also released the picture of a boy in Afghan uniform, carrying a Kalashnikov rifle. However, questions have been raised over how he was killed given that he looked like a minor carrying a machine gun.

“The son of the Caliph Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was killed in the “Nasiriyah” at the hotspot location in the state of Homs,” the statement said.

A review of the group’s speeches over the years suggest that the term “Nasiriyah” is often referred to as the Alawite sect of the Syrian regime’s president Bashar al-Assad.

Raising doubts

Following the photograph release, questions have been raised about where was Baghdadi’s son actually killed.

In the statement he has been described as a young man who was among “the best trained fighters”. The question being asked is did the group use his death as a way to promote recruitment and for other extremist propaganda.

According to SITE Intelligence Group, supporters of ISIS and linked media groups portrayed the death as a “sacrifice for faith” and serving as a “slap in the face” of all who “doubt its sincerity”.

SITE also suggests that the group appears to have succeeded in “drawing the sympathy of its supporters”. Many comments from ISIS supporters also suggested that the news was being taken as proof that Baghdadi was with “his family and his homeland”.

The death of Baghdadi’s son is being viewed similar to the death of Taliban leader Hibatullah Akhundzada’s son, Abdul Hafiz.

According to Long War Journal, Abdul Hafiz died in July 2017 in Afghanistan after blowing himself up in an operation targeting Afghan forces in Helmand province.

Baghdadi ‘likely alive’

An official Iraqi statement confirmed in early May that Baghdadi, who has been unofficially confirmed dead several times, is still likely to be alive and present on Syrian border territory with Iraq.

“Baghdadi is traveling in these areas in hiding. He is traveling with four to five people, including his son and son-in-law, Abu Zeid al-Iraqi and someone I cannot disclose yet,” the official said.

The last letter released by Baghdadi surfaced on September 28, 2017, two weeks before the fall of Raqqa, the former ISIS stronghold in Syria.

He called on his supporters to “be patient and steadfast” in the face of the “infidels” allied against them in Syria and Iraq.

Full report at:



Iraq launches major offensive against ISIS after they executed abductees

4 July 2018

Iraqi forces launched a major operation against remnants of ISIS on Wednesday following public anger over the extremists’ murder of a group of abducted civilians.

Dubbed “Vengeance for the Martyrs”, the operation will see army, special forces, police and Kurdish peshmerga fighters hunting down ISIS cells in the center of the country, Iraq’s Joint Operations Command (JOC) said in a statement.

It comes after the bodies of eight ISIS captives were found late last month along a highway north of Baghdad. Some of the abductees had appeared in a video in which ISIS threatened to execute them unless Baghdad released female prisoners.

The JOC statement said army, federal police, special forces, peshmerga fighters and the Hashed al-Shaabi paramilitary force had launched “a vast operation to clear out the region east of the Diyala-Kirkuk” highway.

The operation was being supported by the Iraqi air force and the US-led coalition that intervened against ISIS in Iraq and Syria after the extremists seized control of large parts of both countries in 2014.

One extremist had already been killed and eight captured, the JOC said, and equipment including vehicles and bombs destroyed.

The operation marked the first time that federal Iraqi forces and the peshmerga were working together since clashes following last year’s Kurdish independence referendum.

Iraq declared victory over ISIS in December after expelling the jihadists from all major towns and cities in a vast offensive.

But the Iraqi military has kept up operations targeting mostly remote desert areas from where jihadists have continued to carry out attacks.

Full report at:



Assad’s bombings damage Roman theater in city mentioned by Pharaohs

5 July 2018

A Roman Theater at Bosra was destroyed in part by the bombardment of the city of Daraa by the Syrian army and the Russian air force. The theater is considered one of the most famous historical and cultural landmarks in the world.

Reports from various media and social media sources stated that since late June the Bosra theater has been affected by a series of bombings by the Syrian regime's army, Russian planes and  the heavy cannons used by Iranian militia fighting alongside the Assad army south of Syria.

According to reports from various sources, Russian fighter jets targeted the fortress of the historical theater of Basra, as well as its steps, which have suffered extensive destruction to large pieces of stone seats that had stood for nearly 14 centuries without harm.  

The theater of Bosra is considered the only one that is best preserved among all Roman theaters in the world.

Unique historical theater hit

The bombing targeted different areas of the unique historical theater - its western side, and the section known as the Museum of Popular Tradition.

A number of Syrian archaeologists and opponents of the Assad regime have at different times appealed to UNESCO, which has listed the city of Bosra, where the theater is located as a World Heritage site, to protect this unique human heritage from the continuous destruction caused by the bombing of the Assad army, which has affected it more than once, since the Syrian regime began bombing Syrian opposition areas.

Anas al-Miqdad, a Syrian archaeologist and academic, said in a press statement to Zaman al Wasl that UNESCO did not intervene to protect the city of Bosra and its theater, and that despite the messages he sent to the international organization to protect the world heritage, they never responded to his appeals.

He pointed out that the bombing by the Assad regime’s army and the Russian aircraft, not only targeted the theater of Basra and the fortress, but also Omri Mosque, the Cathedral of Bosra, and other urban areas which are of priceless historical importance.

Various media sites, through published photos, confirmed that the theater of the Bosra was partially destroyed by Russian shelling and Assad's forces last week. The importance of this place, at the level of world history, makes its partial ruin, a historical and archaeological tragedy.

Although there is no consensus among archaeologists and historians about the exact time of the construction of the Bosra theater, it is believed that it was built between 117 and 138 AD, and shortly after the death of the Nabataean king, who had taken the city of Bosra as his capital.

Royal Pharaonic archive 

According to Dr. Said Al-Hajji, Archaeologist and former professor at the University of Damascus, the city was mentioned in the correspondence of “Tel el-Amarna” in 1350 BC, which was revealed in 1885 AD, and is considered a royal Pharaonic archive written in cuneiform script.

The famous Egyptologist, Dr. Zahi Hawass, wrote in Asharq Al Awsat in London on June 14, 2012 that “it is a unique royal archive dating Egyptian diplomacy during the heyday of Pharaonic Egypt.”

Full report at:



Muslim World League chief meets religious, political, intellectual leaders in Italy

July 05, 2018

JEDDAH: Muslim World League (MWL) Secretary-General Mohammed bin Abdul Karim Al-Issa held meetings with religious, political and intellectual leaders in the Italian region of Tuscany.

Cultural exchanges and interfaith dialogue were discussed. Al-Issa started his visit by meeting with Tuscany Council President Eugenio Giani in the regional capital Florence.

They discussed MWL initiatives to promote dialogue between followers of different religions and cultures, and its efforts worldwide to achieve the integration of Muslim communities.

Al-Issa and Giani also explored partnership opportunities between the MWL and the council to promote a culture of dialogue and cooperation.

The secretary-general also met Lorenzo Falchi, mayor of the city of Sesto Fiorentino, and praised his proposal to find cultural confluences with the Islamic world.

Al-Issa stressed the MWL’s keenness to support Muslim communities’ autonomy in managing their religious affairs in direct and continuous cooperation with national governments, without external interference.

“This is one of the most important principles of the renewed vision of the MWL, so as to ensure the specificities and interests of each community,” he said.

Al-Issa thanked the diocese of Florence for approving the municipality’s request to build a grand mosque.

“This step is a symbol of Italy’s national harmony and respect for its diversity,” said the MWL chief.

During their meeting, Al-Issa and Florence’s Mayor Dario Nardella discussed opportunities for cooperation, as well as the needs of the city’s Muslim community.

Al-Issa stressed the importance of building mutual trust, which he said is “the first target for extremists and terrorists, who try to undermine it.”

Al-Issa visited Florence’s historic synagogue, and met the city’s Chief Rabbi Amedeo Spagnoletti and Jewish community leader Daniela Missouri.

Spagnoletti and Missouri thanked the MWL for condemning the Holocaust, and for the Remembrance Day letter sent by Al-Issa to the director of the US Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington.

In the letter, Al-Issa said true Islam opposes the Holocaust, which “shook humanity to the core and won’t be forgotten by history.”

Spagnoletti, Missouri and Al-Issa stressed the need to intensify efforts to address violence committed in the name of religion, to join hands against extremism, to foster a culture of dialogue, and to raise awareness of religious values that reject violence and advocate tolerance, harmony and diversity.

Al-Issa met the archbishop of Florence, Cardinal Giuseppe Betori, at an official reception attended by the president of the Florence Institute for Dialogue, Rabbi Joseph Levy, and Catholic Rev. Andrea Bellandi.

The MWL chief visited Florence’s Al-Taqwa Mosque, where he met Islamic leaders and discussed the well-being of the Muslim community, and its religious and national activities.

The European University Institute in Florence, established by the EU, welcomed Al-Issa, who met the institute’s director general, Vincenzo Grassi.

Full report at:



Syrian rebels say talks with Russia over south ‘failed’

4 July 2018

Syrian rebels said Wednesday that talks with regime ally Russia on handing over their remaining territory in the southern province of Daraa had failed, as they opposed giving up their heavy arms.

“Negotiations with the Russian enemy in Busra al-Sham have failed, after they insisted on the surrender of heavy weapons,” the rebels’ Central Operations Room in the South said in a tweet.

“This round of negotiations didn’t produce any results... The session ended and no future meetings have been set,” spokesman Ibrahim Jabbawi said.

Earlier on Wednesday, Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi told Russia that political dialogue and a ceasefire were priorities for southern Syria where he said a humanitarian catastrophe risked unfolding.

Full report at:





Yogi’s ministers divided over order to introduce dress code in Madrasas


Jul 04th 2018

The question which is doing the rounds in Uttar Pradesh is whether the Yogi Government has a proposal to introduce dress code in the state-run madrasas or not. While the Junior Minority Welfare and Haj Minister Mohsin Raza has said ‘yes’, the senior minister of the same department Laxmi Narayan Chaudhry has rejected Raza’s statement saying the government has no pending suggestions in this regard.Minister of state for Minority Affairs Mohsin Raza created a political storm when he had stated that the Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath had decided to enforce a new dress code for students studying in madrasas affiliated to the State Madrasa Board.“Our aim is to bring madrasas at par with other educational institutions. Till now, madrasa students wore white kurta-pyjama, which is more or less symbolic of a particular faith. We will soon propose a new dress code for them. With modern studies, students should also wear modern uniform,” he said.He did not clarify what the new dress code would be but it is believed that students might be expected to wear trouser and shirt. “We are still to finalise dress code, its colour and pattern. Once we get the proposal we will place it before the government,” he said.There are around 15,000 madrasas affiliated with Uttar Pradesh Board of Madrasa Education.Calling upon Muslims to shed their minority mindset, the minister said, “Muslims should stop calling themselves as minorities and asked them not to be afraid of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Modiji is not anti-Muslim.”The controversy took a new turn when the senior minister in the Minority Welfare Ministry Laxmi Narayan Chaudhry issued a statement on Tuesday night saying that government has not formed any policy to change the dress-code of students in state-run madrasas.“There is no policy or proposal pending with the government regarding imposing a dress code in the madrasas,” said Chaudhry in a terse message.

Even the Muslim clerics came in support of Chaudhry saying the announcement of junior minister is nothing but a gimmick ahead of 2019 elections.“Kurta, payjama and skull cap is the traditional dress of the students of madarsa. The Government should first focus on enhancing quality of education and payment of salaries to teachers then talk about other things like enforcing dress code for the students,” said Maulana Saif Abbas, Presdent Shia Chand Committee.“Changing dress would be an insult to Islamic seminaries,” he said.With Lok Sabha elections around the corner, the BJP was trying to dent into the Muslim vote bank and was trying its best to project the PM as a well wisher of Muslims. The state government has made changes in the syllabus to connect madarsas with mainstream education system, following which NCERT books were made mandatory.The HRD ministry is working on a plan to revamp madarsa education in the country under Scheme to Provide Quality Education in Madrasas (SPQEM). Under this, institutions would have to get affiliated to either Madarsa Boards or State boards to be eligible for Central government funds.The government is also planning to map madarsas in the country based on their Global Positioning System.



Viral Test Cracks Assam's 'Muslim Homeland' Video

July 4, 2018

India Today's Viral Test has busted yet another social media hoax; this time a video that sought to fuel ethnic tensions in Assam.

The north-eastern state is no stranger to protests over illegal immigration of Bangladeshi Muslims.

A video of a protest that circulated on Facebook this month sought to turn the communities against one another with its sensation Hindi captions.

"Ab Assam mein Bangaldeshi Muslims ne alag Muslim desh banane ki maang ki," read Monday's post with the cell-phone footage showing a large group of Muslims in skull caps marching.

The video was posted by a user identifying himself as Satish Dwivedi. On his Facebook page, Dwivedi declares himself a "Desh Sewak".

But when India Today's Viral Test team examined the video, the truth appeared far from serving any national interest.

In three days, the footage that claimed Bangladeshi Muslims in Assam rallied for a separate homeland has garnered almost 50,000 views and has been shared by over 2,500 users.

Its narrative in Hindi was mischievously designed to create a stir among audiences in the Hindi heartland, the Viral Test team found. If racist expletives generated in the comments were an indication, then it clearly justified its motive.

"They have forgotten that there is a BJP government in the state," read the description in Hindi.

India Today's Viral Test team first investigated the audio of the clip.

"Haraxasti noslibo," Muslim demonstrators, carrying banners, could be heard shouting. When translated, it means "harassment will not be tolerated".

India Today's Viral Test team reached out to a high-ranking police officer in Assam to inquire about the protests shown in the viral Facebook video.

Additional DGP Harmeet Singh confirmed that the footage originated from the states Goalpara district.

So we got in touch with Goalpara's SP, Amitava Sinha, who shared all the details about the demonstration.

"This incident," he told India Today's Viral Test team, "occurred on June 30, 2017."

Yes. SP Sinha confirmed the protests that FB user Satish Dwivedi put up online this Monday had in fact taken place last year.

But what were the Muslims in the footage protesting against?

"About 150 people were protesting, claiming that they were being harassed in the name of identifying illegal migrants. Soon they started pelting the police with stones," Sinha recalled.

An FIR 257/2017 was also filed in this regard, he said.

Full report at:



Zakir Naik: Not coming to India, feels unsafe from unfair prosecution

July 4, 2018

Controversial Islamic preacher and founder of Islamic Research Foundation (IRF) Zakir Naik has denied media reports that he will be arriving in India Wednesday night terming them as “totally baseless and false”.

In a statement issued, Naik said: “The news of my coming to India is totally baseless and false. I have no plans to come to India till I don’t feel safe from unfair prosecution. Insha Allah when I feel that the government will be just and fair, I will surely return to my homeland.”

The NIA said they have no information about Naik returning to India today. “We have no information about this. We are verifying the news reports,” an NIA spokesperson said.

News channel NDTV, quoting sources in the Malaysian government, said Naik could be deported as early as tonight.

Fifty-one-year-old Naik, fled India on July 1, 2016, after terrorists in neighbouring Bangladesh claimed that they were inspired by his speeches. He is currently living in Malaysia. In December last year, the Interpol rejected India’s request to issue a red corner notice (RCN) seeking his deportation.

In November 2016, the NIA had registered a case against the televangelist at its Mumbai branch under various sections of the Indian Penal Code and Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act. His Mumbai-based NGO, Islamic Research Foundation (IRF), has already been declared an unlawful association by the Union Home Ministry.

Naik is wanted by the NIA in a case of alleged incitement for terror activities.

Full report at:



Kashmiris being fed with misinformation that India is anti-Muslim, says Indian Army Chief

July 4, 2018

On Tuesday, Indian Army Chief General Bipin Rawat said that one of the factors behind stone pelting was the decades of militancy in Kashmir that had shattered the education system. Rawat was interacting with students from Chattisgarh who had come on a trip to Delhi.

Upon being inquired as to why there were frequent stone-pelting incidents in Kashmir, Bipin Rawat replied, Kashmiris are being fed with misinformation that India is anti-Muslim and those who eat beef are being killed.”

“They try to shield militants. They pelt stones as it is easily available. (Stone-)pelting is not (something) new. Unemployment is a factor for this, but it is not unique to Kashmir. There is unemployment in other parts of the country as well. Youngsters there don’t pelt stones. Education there (Kashmir) is shattered. Most of the schooling is done through madarassas, which cannot get you good jobs,” he added.

Full report at:



Lucknow passport officer was wrong in asking interfaith couple about their religion: Internal govt probe

Jul 4, 2018

Over-ruling objections raised by the passport officer Vikash Mishra and Lucknow Police, the passports of inter-faith couple Mohd Anas Siddiqui and Tanvi Seth were finally approved by the Regional Passport Office Lucknow, putting an end to 15-day social media brouhaha over the issue.

Highly-placed sources in the Regional Passport Office claimed that objections raised by passport officer Vikash Mishra were not in contravention to the new rules for making a new passport. The new rules clearly suggest that no marriage certificate was required to declare marriage. A simple declaration from the couple is all needed to prove that they are married.

Thus, raising doubts over their inter-faith marriage by passport officer Vikash Mishra was uncalled for. He should have simply suggested them to write an application in the form of a declaration to remove his doubts over the couple’s marriage as per new rules.

Nikahnama had never been a valid document to prove couple’s marriage. The All-India Muslim Personal Law Board’s demand in making nikahnama a valid document was long rejected by the Ministry of Exernal Affairs (MEA).

“It’s not the business of the passport officer to question someone’s name, faith and religion if documents submitted are genuine and support the name and religion she/he wants on the passport,” said a senior official of the Luck now Passport office.

“Our job is to go by the rule book and many new rules have been introduced in the last two years by the MEA to make passport making hassle-free. Our minister is very sensitive to issues related to women facing trouble in making passports and she has relaxed many rules in favour of inter-faith marriages, widows and divorced women,” claimed he.    

As far as objections raised by the Lucknow Police are concerned that Tanvi Seth and Anas were not residing on their Lucknow address for the past one year then new rules are that passport seekers are given three chances for their address verification. “It is not the sole ground to reject anyone’s passport. We had verified their Noida address and it was found to be correct,” said the officer.

Full report at:



SC/ST panel issues notice to Aligarh Muslim University over reservation rules

Jul 04, 2018

The Uttar Pradesh Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes Commission on Wednesday issued a notice to the Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) administration for allegedly not complying with the reservation rules in admitting students from the SC/ST categories.

The panel has asked the AMU registrar to submit a reply by August 8, failing which a case could be registered against its officials, commission chairman Brij Lal told reporters here.

He claimed that the panel had received complaints from various Dalit organisations regarding the AMU allegedly denying benefits of reservation to the students from the SC/ST category.

Full report at:





Army kills 20 Al-Shabaab militants in southern Somalia

04 July 2018

The Somali National Army (SNA) killed at least 20 al-Shabab militants in a fierce fighting in Somali’s southern village of Muse Haji on Tuesday evening, army officials said Wednesday.

The fighting broke out when al-Shabab militants attempted to launch an ambush on military base in Muse Haji village in Lower Juba region in southern Somalia.

“They (al-Shabab) have tried to attack our base but we have managed to bush them back and killed 20 of them,” SNA Commander for the 43rd Sector, Ismail Sheikh Isaq, said.

The commander added that the forces initially fired on a speedy car killing the suicide bomber and then engaged a gun battle with the fighters and later subdued them.

Residents in nearby villages told Xinhua that they heard blasts followed by huge gunfire at the military base .

“The fighting lasted for hours and both sides have exchanged huge gunfire but now the government forces are in full control of the area,” a resident, Ahmed Nur, told Xinhua.

The militant group is yet to comment on the latest assault by SNA which comes amid increased military operations in southern Somalia particularly Lower Shabelle region which remains one of the strongholds of the group.



Jordan’s foreign minister tells Russia ceasefire needed in southern Syria

4 July 2018

Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi told Russia on Wednesday that political dialogue and a ceasefire were priorities for southern Syria where he said a humanitarian catastrophe risked unfolding.

Safadi made the comment after holding talks with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov in Moscow.

He said the situation in southern Syria was a cause for serious concern and needed to be resolved as soon as possible.

The Russian-backed Syrian government has mounted a campaign to recover southwestern Syria from rebels.

Full report at:



Jordan to open 3 border crossings with Syria to facilitate entry of aid

4 July 2018

The Jordanian government announced on Wednesday the opening of three border crossings with Syria to hasten operations of delivering humanitarian aid to displaced Syrians from Southern Syria.

“The government decided to open the three border crossings on Wednesday in order to facilitate the transit of humanitarian aid to displaced Syrians,” the Ammon news agency cited Jordanian government spokeswoman Jumana Ghunaimat as saying.

Ghunaimat did not elaborate on which border crossings will be opened, but she said that 36 trucks carrying humanitarian aid crossed in the direction of the Syrian territories.

Earlier, the Jordanian army expressed in a statement its concern that ISIS and other radical groups will take advantage of the displacement crisis in the Daraa province south of Syria.

In an interview with the al-Hadath news channel, Jordanian army general Awda al-Shudeifat said that Jordan will hold on to its decision not to open its border to let in more displaced Syrians, expressing the country’s concern about the infiltration of terrorists among the refugees.

On another development, Jordanian government spokeswoman Ghunaimat revealed that negotiations between Russia and Syrian opposition have resumed with the help of Jordanian mediation.

Full report at:



West Africa: Attack On Sahel Counterterror Force Puts Jihadists in Focus

3 JULY 2018

Terrorist attacks in Mali, including a brazen assault on the headquarters of the fledgling Sahel counterterrorism force, cast a spotlight on the Islamist extremists roaming Africa.

Mali has experienced a number of deadly extremist attacks in recent days. Three people were killed in a car bomb attack on the G5 Sahel force command post in the town of Sevare on Friday. The al-Qaida-linked Support Group for Islam and Muslims claimed responsibility for the attack.

Four Malian soldiers were killed on Saturday when their vehicle hit a land mine. An attack in northern Mali targeting French forces killed four civilians on Sunday and wounded more than 20 people, including French soldiers.

The latest wave of extremism coincided with a summit of the African Union (AU) in Nouakchott, the capital of neighboring Mauritania, which focused on ways to tackle corruption and extremism.

Macron in Nouakchott for talks

The leaders of the G5 Sahel states -- Mauritania, Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger and Chad -- held talks with French President Emmanuel Macron in Nouakchott on the final day of the AU summit.

The G5 Sahel force was set up with the help of the French last year to crush jihadist insurgents and criminal groups in the vast and unstable region. It aims to deploy 5,000 troops. It will operate alongside France's 4,000 troops in the troubled border area between Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso and the 12,000 UN peacekeepers in Mali.

Macron also met with the AU Peace and Security Council to discuss the fight against Islamist extremism in Africa, as well as ways to better finance peacekeeping and counterterrorism operations.

"Our thoughts are with our Malian friends after tragic and cowardly attacks," Macron said. "Several French soldiers were injured and are being evacuated. The first victims are Malian civilians."

Limping into action

Several years after the G5 Sahel force was conceived by African countries, the French leader set the ball rolling on international donor pledges in mid-2017. It is some time since the UN warned the force was behind on its mandate.

The Sahel is experiencing a rising tide of Islamist extremism as the force limps into action. The developments in countries such as Mali are closely watched in other regions of the continent facing a similar pattern.

Morocco's Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita, in an interview with DW, said Monday that Maghreb states are willing to work with the G5 Sahel group.

In the Niger River valley, in particular, jihadist and inter-communal conflicts are contributing to the overall insecurity in the West African nation preparing for elections on July 29. Attacks where jihadists target French troops in Mali are frequent.

"The big strategic question is: Can France help the countries of the G5 Sahel accelerate and strengthen deployment of their new military force? The big challenge at the moment is to strengthen the G5 joint force to help reinforce security," Paul Melly, an Africa analyst with Chatham House in London, told DW.

Africa' jihadists intertwined

Across Africa, Islamist extremism is intertwined and seen to be emerging as far afield as Mozambique to the south. Some of the larger outlawed groups include Boko Haram in Nigeria and al-Shabab in Kenya.

Foreign Minister Bourita put the number of Islamist fighters at 10,000 Africa-wide.

"It is clear that al-Qaeda, with more than 6,000 fighters, is active throughout Africa today, I would also say that IS [so-called Islamic State]) has more than 3,000 fighters within its ranks in Africa," he told DW.

In many instances they were former IS fighters returning from Syria or Iraq. "And that does not include those who have joined al-Shabab or Boko Haram."

A homegrown problem

Experts increasingly view terrorism in Africa as homegrown and not necessarily driven by an Islamist ideology alone. Mali has seen what one expert describes as an Islamization of criminal structures. The groups are entrenched, and military solutions alone are often seen to be ineffective.

"When on looks at terrorist groups that are active in Africa, they didn't fall from the sky and were not transplanted from elsewhere. These are groups that are rooted in their respective areas," said Mark Engelhardt, an author and expert on terrorism in Africa.

"In the Sahel there is this new group, the one that claimed responsibility for the G5 Sahel attack, that is a coalition of well-known personalities. There is Mr Marlboro - known also as Mokhtar Belmokhtar - who started out smuggling cigarettes, and since then, people and weapons or anything of value," said Engelhardt.

"Or, Iyad Ag Ghaly, who is reputed for switching alliances. Why? because it's all about money." The fanatical preachers and their followers in these parts are being welcomed with open arms as "fighters for free, or at least little."

Jihadists drawn in neglected regions

The reasons terrorism is taking hold in Africa are manifold, according to Morocco's foreign minister. He listed economic underdevelopment, population grown, a rise in separatist and other resistance movements, as well as criminal activity.

"The jihadists naturally profit from the chaos in Libya. They also profit from the chaos in the Sahel region, where many different terrorists ply their business. The same goes for Somalia and also West Africa, with Boko Haram," Bourita said.

"Morocco and various neighbors in Africa jointly developed a strategy against terrorism. There are several solutions to the problem of IS: military solutions, also propagandist solutions and we are seeking to rebuild the areas that were destroyed by IS. These initiatives should be extended to other African states," Bourita said.

"Cooperation with the G5 Sahel group should be expanded," he added.

Terrorism in Africa - Boko Haram

Experts have long warned that areas that are unregulated or neglected by African governments are especially prone to jihadist influence.

"One example is the story of Boko Haram or that of al-Shabab in Somalia. It is an entirely similar story, each of course specific to that country. But the point is that these groups are rooted in what is wrong with these countries," said Engelhardt.

"People don't want war or gruesome terror, but they are fighting for their existence and at the moment they only have these terrorists on their side."

Parallels are being drawn between the instability in northern Mozambique, where jihadist militants have gone on the rampage in recent months, and Nigeria's experience with Boko Haram. Kenya's north-east coast -- home to a marginalized Somali minority -- is also seen as vulnerable to the influence of al-Shabab.

"What happens is the same dynamic we are seeing in Mali," said Engelhardt.

Full report at:



Al-Shabab commander surrenders after 8 years of insurgency


MOGADISHU, July 2 (Xinhua) -- A senior al-Shabab commander surrendered to Somali government forces on Monday after eight years of insurgency, an army official said.

The Somali National Army (SNA) said Ali Abdullahi, al-Shabab commander in charge of Hajji Muse area in Lower Juba region surrendered to the government forces during a joint operation in the town of Bar-Sanguun.

Abdifatah Ibrahim, the division 11 army commander of the SNA, said several members of the extremist group which has waged nearly daily attacks against the internationally-backed government were also arrested during the security operation by the allied forces.

Ibrahim said Abdullahi admitted to have been a member of the al-Qaida allied terrorist group for the past eight years. Abdullahi's security guard also surrendered.

He said the operation was carried out jointly between AMISOM and government forces after receiving credible intelligence reports that led to the surrender of Abdullahi and his security guard.

Full report at:



North America


New ruling on freedom of speech will help protect against hate

July 05, 2018

Once again, it has fallen on the shoulders of those who are the targets of hate to push back. It’s not always easy to do because of hyper-vocal “free speech” advocates who believe they have the right to spew hatred without consequence.

An Ontario judge has just made it harder for them to abuse that right.

In a ruling on whether or not an individual could claim that anti-Muslim statements are immunized from civil liability because they are protected political commentary, Justice Shaun Nakatsuru has provided one of the clearest decisions yet that the constitutional protection of free expression does not extend to hate speech. And in a Canadian twist, the court relied on a 30-year-old Supreme Court judgment on anti-Semitic hate speech to rule that the public is best served in the suppression of communications of racial, ethnic or religious hatred.

The case centres on a defamation suit brought by prominent restaurateur Mohamad Fakih against two notorious anti-Muslim advocates. Last summer, Ranendra “Ron” Banerjee and Kevin J. Johnston showed up at a Mississauga location of Paramount Fine Foods to purportedly “protest” during a fundraiser Paramount was hosting that day for the leader of the Liberal Party of Canada, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

Banerjee and Johnston filmed themselves harassing guests as they arrived and talking to the camera about the event, videos of which were later posted across dozens of websites and social media platforms. Banerjee is filmed saying that one would have to be a “jihadist” and “raped your wife a few times” to enter the restaurant. Johnston, who has already been charged with wilfully promoting hatred against the Peel Muslim community, was there providing his own comments.

Banerjee tried to stop the lawsuit from proceeding by claiming that he was expressing his viewpoint on a matter of public interest and invoking Ontario’s new anti-SLAPP (Strategic Litigation Against Public Participation) legislation passed in 2015. Banerjee claimed he was at the fundraiser to protest the government’s $10.5 million settlement with Omar Khadr and shouldn’t face civil liability for freely expressing his political views.

But the judge saw through the argument and provided analysis that not only allows the lawsuit to proceed (though Banerjee can still appeal), but also provides important clarity for others targeted by defamatory hate speech including racist stereotypes.

“This is a case about freedom of expression,” wrote Nakatsuru. “But it is also about the limits to that constitutionally protected right. Expressions of hatred and bigotry towards racial, ethnic, religious, or other identifiable groups have no value in the public discourse of our nation.”

Many of us who have faced hateful comments on Twitter, Facebook, or elsewhere, including through online video, have often felt that there is little recourse. Online platforms are often slow to take down comments, though there have been some improvements due to public pressure.

Approaching law enforcement agencies has also proven to be challenging, with uncertainty about whether or not to lay charges under the criminal code, one of the few charges that require the consent of the attorney general. As Corey Shefman, a lawyer and activist in Winnipeg has pointed out, “the attorney general’s consent provides a significant barrier in even bringing a charge.”

It’s not only the targets of hate who struggle with this. Public institutions are grappling with individuals or groups attempting to organize events which promote hatred and fear of others, or which celebrate those with racist views. The Ottawa Public Library, for instance, is currently being sued for cancelling the showing of a film called Killing Europe.” The film paints a horrifying picture of immigration, particularly of Muslims.

A similar outcry erupted when the Toronto Public Library was unwilling to prevent a memorial for a lawyer, who had defended white supremacists and neo-Nazis, from taking place. The library board later went on to implement a policy that would allow it to prevent groups from renting space if they are “likely to promote, or would have the effect of promoting discrimination, contempt or hatred of any group, hatred for any person.”

This latest judgment reinforces what many of us instinctively know – hatred will never serve the public interest and to claim otherwise is out of step with the law.



Teachers can play key role against hatred, radicalization

July 4, 2018

“Why do Canadians hate Muslims?”

Rima is a nine-year-old refugee from Iraq. She had overheard her parents talking about a young Muslim woman who was on public transit when a stranger asked, “Why are you wearing a hijab?” and then spat on her and told her to “go home.”

Joseph then raises his hand and asks, “Why would that guy in Quebec City kill people in a mosque?”

You are their Grade 4 teacher and you thought you would open up a discussion about fear and racism. How will you answer these questions?

You could start by explaining that since 9/11, many Canadians have come to associate Muslims with terrorism. You could explain that this is not fair; it amounts to Islamophobia, a “prejudice against or hatred of Islam and Muslims.” You could give examples of negative stereotyping and discrimination that Muslims face on a daily basis. You could have a discussion about the alarming rise of hate speech in Canada, how it can affect perceptions of groups, and the impact that this kind of hatred can have on a person. You could also talk about the 38 per cent of Canadians who don’t believe that Islamophobia is an issue. And then you could relate the tragic story of Alexandre Bissonnette.

In school, Bissonnette suffered through years of bullying and marginalization. He was described as “awkward” and an “online troll” by his friends. At 28, on Jan. 29, 2017, he entered a mosque and killed six Muslims shortly after their evening prayer. Gilles Chamberland, a psychiatrist who met with Bissonnette, testified at a sentencing hearing that the attack “was motivated by racism.” Sylvain Faucher, another psychiatrist who testified, said Bissonnette was looking for a target, and chose Muslims because of the times we live in.

Bissonnette had a propensity to consume extremist content on the internet. Educators can teach students how to identify and interpret messages in the media and in their communities that serve to foster fear and Islamophobia.

Educators can also play a role in preventing the radicalization of youth — be it by the likes of ISIS or far-right extremists — by addressing the factors that leave youth vulnerable to racism, hatred and bullying.

The current approach to countering radicalization and terrorism is focused on a security discourse and tends to foster suspicion about specific groups. This focus on security has served to intercept and apprehend terrorists, but does little to prevent the radicalization process from taking root and creating new threats. In fact, radicalization appears to be bolstered by such things as media reports about threats to Canada posed by ISIS and Al-Qaeda. These contribute both to a fear of Muslims and to the alienation Muslims experience as a result of feeling targeted.

As academics within Department of Education at Concordia University, we believe it is essential to build the capacity of educators in this area. We have created an inclusive space where conversations can take place about such topics as the relationship between marginalization and radicalization, and the role teachers, institutes and communities can play to prevent and counter radicalization.

Concordia University has hosted a series of international symposiums on Teaching about Extremism Terror and Trauma since 2015. This conference brings together academics, teachers, research institutes, community organizations, and NGOs encouraging discussions with an aim to have an impact on both policy and pedagogy.

Now in its fourth edition, this year’s conference (July 9 to 11), will engage educators and communities to address the issues behind Rima and Joseph’s questions and as mediators to prevent and counter prejudice, hatred and radicalization.

Full report at:



Afghan civilian casualties rose over winter: Pentagon

July 05, 2018

WASHINGTON - Afghan civilian casualties increased sharply during last winter’s fighting season, according to a US Defense Department report Tuesday that also tallied an increased toll on Afghan security forces during some operations.

In its semi-annual report to Congress, the Pentagon found that between December 1 and May 31, the US-led NATO mission in Afghanistan counted more than 4,223 civilian casualties–about one-quarter of which were deaths and three-quarters were injuries.

This represents about a 73% increase compared to the same time frame a year ago, the report notes, attributing the bulk of the rise to insurgents using more improvised explosive devices (IEDs).

“Preventing civilian casualties remains a major concern of the ANDSF [Afghan National Defense and Security Forces], the Afghan government and US and coalition forces,” the report states.

The document also found a 14% increase in the number of ANDSF personnel killed or wounded while on local patrols and during checkpoint operations, but saw a drop in casualties during planned offensive operations.

US officials have previously claimed that casualty rates in the Afghan army and police have been dropping, but it is hard to verify or quantify such claims as Washington has agreed to classify data on the casualty numbers.

The Pentagon said that during the winter, the ANDSF remained in control of all provincial capitals and repelled a Taliban attempt to seize the provincial capital of Farah in May.

“The mild winter allowed for sustained military pressure against insurgent and terrorist forces, and built positive momentum heading into the 2018 fighting season,” the report states.

Afghan security forces recently resumed offensive operations against the Taliban following an 18-day ceasefire by the government.

The unilateral truce overlapped with the Taliban’s three-day ceasefire for Eid, but the militants refused to prolong it.

The Pentagon report also blasted Russia, which it has previously accused of aiding the Taliban.

Full report at:



Muslim-American Wins in Court against Neo-Nazi Andrew Anglin

Jul 04, 2018

A Muslim-American radio host has received a court judgment in his favor in his federal lawsuit against a neo-Nazi website publisher because the defendant never responded to the Ohio case in court.

Dean Obeidallah accused The Daily Stormer’s publisher, Andrew Anglin, of falsely labeling him as the “mastermind” behind a deadly bombing at concert in England last year. reports neither Anglin nor any attorney for him responded, so the court entered a finding of default Tuesday. Obeidallah’s attorneys said they had tried unsuccessfully to reach or locate Anglin or his legal representative through emails, private investigators and notices in a Columbus-area legal publication.

Full report at:





Activists protest planned West Bank demolition of Bedouin village

4 July 2018

Israeli police scuffled with activists protesting the planned demolition of a Bedouin hamlet in the West Bank on Wednesday amid international opposition to the razing of the site.

Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said 11 people were arrested in the “disturbance” including several for throwing stones at officers in Khan al-Ahmar. He said three officers were injured, including one evacuated to a hospital for treatment.

Mustafa Barghouti, a Palestinian legislator, said four protesters were injured.

“This is a vicious, barbaric attack on peaceful demonstrators and they are trying to demolish Khan Al-Ahmar,” he said.

Israel says the structures that make up the Khan al-Ahmar encampment of corrugated shacks and tents were illegally built and pose a threat to residents because of their proximity to a highway.

Police could be seen dragging a handcuffed woman and pushing a Bedouin man. A construction vehicle flattened earth near the site.

The Bedouin village outside the Kfar Adumim settlement, is set to be demolished at an unknown date after Israel's Supreme Court approved the move in May.

Residents and activists voiced concern on Wednesday that Israel is set to raze the Bedouin village in a strategic part of the occupied West Bank ignoring international calls for a reprieve.

Activists said the Israeli military issued a warrant to the 173 residents of Khan al-Ahmar on Tuesday authorizing it to seize access roads to the village.

Heavy equipment, including at least one bulldozer, was seen around the village on Wednesday, leading to speculation a road was being prepared to facilitate its evacuation and demolition.

“Today they are proceeding with infrastructure work to facilitate the demolition and forcible transfer of residents,” Amit Gilutz, spokesperson for Israeli human rights group B’Tselem, told AFP.

Israeli authorities say the village and its school were built illegally and in May, the supreme court rejected a final appeal against its demolition.

But activists say the villagers had little alternative but to build without Israeli construction permits as the documents are near impossible for Palestinians to obtain for that part of the occupied West Bank.

Israel authorities say they have offered villagers a relocation site. They did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Wednesday.

Britain’s minister of state for the Middle East, Alistair Burt, visited the village in May and called on the Israeli government to show restraint.

He warned that any forced relocation “could constitute forcible transfer of people as far as the United Nations is concerned.”

Forcible transfer is considered a violation of the Geneva Conventions.

Khan al-Ahmar is located east of Jerusalem near several Israeli settlements along a road leading to the Dead Sea.

Activists are concerned that continued Israeli settlement construction in the area could effectively divide the West Bank in two.



Turkey: Decree grants president more power

Jul 4, 2018

Turkey has issued a decree, giving more power to the president as the country moves towards adopting a full-fledged presidential system.

The Official Gazette announced the decree on Wednesday. The decree closes down the prime minister’s office and changes “references to the prime minister and cabinet of ministers to the president and the president’s office.”

It has also enabled President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to bypass the parliament in forming and regulating ministries and removing civil servants.

The laws changed by the decree had been in effect since 1924.

Last year, the public took part in a referendum, voting in favor of changing the country’s ruling mechanism from a parliamentary system to a presidential one.

The country has been implementing the changes, which are needed to bring in the new system, since June 24, when Erdogan and his ruling Justice and Development Party claimed victory in presidential and parliamentary elections.

Critics accuse Erdogan of trying to monopolize all power since July 2016, when the government survived a coup.

Full report at:



Iran denies training Taliban militants

July 05, 2018

TEHRAN:- Iran denied on Wednesday the allegations that Afghanistan’s Taliban militant group are trained in Iran, Press TV reported. Such “fake and undocumented” allegations are aimed to wage “a psychological war” and damage friendly relations between the Iranian and Afghan governments, the Iranian embassy in Kabul said in a statement. Iran seeks to promote international efforts to support the Afghan government and reduce its people sufferings, the statement said. On Monday, British daily The Times quoted unnamed Taliban and Afghan officials as saying that hundreds of Taliban militants are receiving advanced training from special forces at military academies in Iran.–Xinhua



Airstrikes kill 11 PKK terrorists in SE Turkey, northern Iraq

Jul 4, 2018

Turkish military aircraft have killed nearly a dozen members of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) militant group when they separately carried out a string of airstrikes against terrorist hideouts in Iraq's northern semi-autonomous Kurdistan region as well as southeastern Turkey.

The Turkish General Staff, in a message published on its official Twitter page, said fighter jets had conducted airstrikes on Tuesday and Wednesday on northern Iraq's Qandil, Zap-Avashin Basyan and Gara regions in addition to the rural areas of Turkey's southeastern provinces of Sirnak.

The statement added that militant hideouts and weapons caches were also destroyed in the airstrikes.

On July 1, the Turkey's General Staff stated that Turkish military aircraft had “neutralized” eight PKK militants in northern Iraq as well as Turkey's southeastern provinces of Sirnak and Van.

The Turkish military generally uses the term "neutralize" to signify that the militants were killed, captured or surrendered.

PKK militants regularly clash with Turkish forces in the Kurdish-dominated southeast of Turkey attached to northern Iraq.

Turkey, along with the European Union and the United States, has declared the PKK a terrorist group and banned it. The militant group has been seeking an autonomous Kurdish region since 1984.

A shaky ceasefire between the PKK and the Turkish government collapsed in July 2015. Attacks on Turkish security forces have soared ever since.

Over the past few months, Turkish ground and air forces have been carrying out operations against PKK positions in the country as well as in northern Iraq and neighboring Syria.

Full report at:



New advances by Yemeni army amid military buildup by Houthis

4 July 2018

The UN special envoy to Yemen Martin Griffiths’ visit to Sanaa did not prevent the Houthis from continuing their military buildup, according to reports by local Yemeni news outlets who added that the militias refuse to hand over the port of Hodeidah to the UN.

Sources said that the Houthi militias were reinforcing their positions in Hodeidah, taking advantage of the halt in military operations by the legitimate forces.

Pictures obtained by Al Arabiya showed large military preparations by the legitimate army in anticipation of the resumption of the liberation of the airport in the port city from the Houthis, starting from the city of Mocha, towards Hodeidah airport.

On the other hand and on the military front of Amran in western Yemen, field sources said that a recent tactic by the Houthi committee in charge of mobilization and military recruitment entailed calling on militants who have stopped fighting for the Houthis to make themselves known under the pretext of wanting to pay their salaries. The militias then capture them and force them back on the fighting fronts.

Meanwhile, the Yemeni legitimate army achieved military gains in the Haifan district south of Taiz, while thwarting an attack by the Houthi militias in Wadi al-Ghail.

Full report at:



Iran says Trump’s oil bans to backfire on US

Jul 4, 2018

Iran says the US would eventually shoot itself in the foot if it sanctions purchases of Iranian oil by international corporations. 

Iran's OPEC governor Hossein Kazempour Ardebili was quoted by media as saying that US President Donald Trump's pressure on international firms not to buy Iranian oil would drive prices higher and end up hurting the American economy.

Ardebili also emphasized that oil should not be used as a weapon or to make political gains.

"Trump's demand that Iranian oil should not be bought, and (his) pressures on European firms at a time when Nigeria and Libya are in crisis, when Venezuela's oil exports have fallen due to US sanctions, when Saudi's domestic consumption has increased in summer, is nothing but a self harm," he was quoted as saying by Iran’s Shana news agency in a report that was also carried by Reuters.

"It will increase the prices of oil in the global markets," he said. "At the end it is the American consumer who will pay the price for Mr. Trump's policy," Ardebili added.

In May, US President Donald Trump announced that he would pull America out of a 2015 nuclear agreement with Iran and re-impose the sanctions that the deal had envisaged to be lifted.

He has already emphasized that the sanctions which would be imposed on Iran would be “at the highest level”.

The sanctions would include a universal ban on Iran over buying or acquiring US dollars as well as restrictions over purchases of crude oil from the country and investing in its oil sector projects.

Earlier, experts said disruption to crude oil supplies from Iran as a result of US sanctions could push oil prices to as high as $90 a barrel.

“We are in a very attractive oil price environment and our house view is that oil will hit $90 by the end of the second quarter of next year,” Hootan Yazhari, head of frontier markets equity research at Bank of America Merrill Lynch told CNBC.

Full report at:





Tory candidate suspended after 'Islamophobic' Facebook posts

4 July 2018

The Conservatives have suspended a council by-election candidate following "unacceptable comments" on social media.

Laurel Ellis was picked for the Gurnos ward on Merthyr Tydfil council.

Ms Ellis had shared posts critical of Islam and the leader of the Conservative Party, Theresa May. Labour AM Dawn Bowden said they were Islamophobic.

The party said she regrets the posts. She has been asked for comment.

The Conservative Party announced the suspension following inquiries from BBC Wales about the Facebook posts on Wednesday.

Despite the party saying she would not be standing for the Tories, nominations have already been published for the poll and she will still appear on the ballot.

Laurel Ellis' Facebook page included one post that suggested Britain was tolerant "until... Muslims marched".

Another, entitled "Sharia May", includes a photo-shopped picture of Theresa May wearing Muslim religious dress.

The posts originally came from other pages on Facebook.

In a Twitter post sent before Ms May became leader of the Conservatives, Ms Ellis said: "Theresa May is a front runner really? A leader that supports Islam and is happy to have Sharia Law in our country?"

A spokesman for the Welsh Conservatives said the party seeks "to reach out to, and represent, all communities and people from all walks of life in Wales".

"The Welsh Conservatives have suspended Laurel Ellis following unacceptable comments she made on social media," the party said.

Labour AM for Merthyr Tydfil and Rhymney Dawn Bowden said prior to the suspension: "It is alarming that the Welsh Conservatives would select an official candidate with such apparently distasteful and Islamophobic views, which seems to extend to attacking the leader of her own party.

"The Welsh Conservatives clearly have questions to answer about how such a candidate has been selected."

The by-election was triggered after previous councillor Rhonda Braithwaite stepped down for personal reasons in May.

Labour's Allyn Hooper, and independents Dillan Singh and Jeremy Davies are also standing.

The election will be held on 26 July.



Algeria, UK discuss joint efforts to fight terrorism


ALGIERS, July 4 (Xinhua) -- Algeria and Britain on Wednesday discussed cooperation in the fight against terrorism and extremism.

The discussion came amid the visit of British Minister of State for the Commonwealth and United Nations Tariq Mahmood Ahmad.

The talks addressed "issues of common interest," including security, terrorism and religious extremism, Ahmad told reporters after his meeting with Algerian Foreign Minister Abdelkader Messahel.

The two countries "are working together to address these issues, and we are working to defend the true face of Islam," he noted.

Full report at:



Suspects in plot to bomb Iranian opposition rally in France to be sent to Belgium

July 05, 2018

PARIS/JEDDAH: France and Germany will send two men, including an Iranian diplomat, to Belgium to face accusations they were involved in a plot to bomb an Iranian opposition rally on the outskirts of Paris, judicial sources said on Wednesday.

Belgium is investigating two Belgians of Iranian origin arrested on Saturday, the day of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) meeting. Five hundred grams of the homemade explosive TATP and a detonation device were found in their car.

Iran has said it had nothing to do with the plot, which it called a “false flag” operation staged by figures within the opposition group itself.

The exiled Iranian opposition group’s meeting was attended by Donald Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani, who gave a speech calling for the removal of Iran’s rulers.

In addition to the two people arrested in Belgium, an Austria-based Iranian diplomat was held in Germany, and a man of Iranian origin was held in France. Judicial authorities in France and Germany told Reuters Belgium had requested they be extradited.

“It’s extremely sensitive and the Belgians are taking the lead,” said one European intelligence source.

The plot and the envoy’s arrest cast a shadow over Iranian President Hassan Rouhani’s visit to Vienna on Wednesday to try to bolster support for the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, which is close to collapse after the US pulled out. The NCRI held a small protest against Rouhani’s visit on the edge of central Vienna.

During a visit by Rouhani to Vienna on Wednesday, Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz said in a statement to reporters that Rouhani had assured him that he would work to clarify the case.

Foreign ministers from the remaining signatories to the deal — Iran, France, Britain, Germany, Russia and China — meet in the city on Friday to discuss its future. Proof of Iranian involvement in a terrorist bomb plot on European soil would make it difficult for Rouhani to win their support.

“The Iranian regime has been involved in terrorist activities since its establishment in 1979, but this is the first time an Iranian official has been arrested for such a blatant act related to orchestrating a terrorist attack,” the Harvard scholar and Iranian affairs expert Dr. Majid Rafizadeh told Arab News.

“It is time for the international community, particularly the European Union, to join many Iranian people and hold the regime accountable for its terrorist activities and human rights violations. Appeasement policies with the Islamic Republic ought to be stopped.”

French officials have declined to comment on the matter saying the nature of the incident is unclear.

Highlighting the political sensitivities, Iran summoned France’s ambassador to protest against the staging of the opposition meeting. Tehran “strongly protested against the French support of activities of the terrorist organization,” referring to an exiled opposition group.

France’s foreign ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Since the United States withdrew in May from a deal to lift sanctions on Iran in return for curbs to Tehran’s nuclear program, the deal’s European signatories Britain, France and Germany have said they want to save the accord. Iran has called on the European countries to offer economic benefits to make up for the damage caused by new US sanctions.

Any suggestion that Iranian authorities were behind the plot in France could make it politically difficult for leaders, especially French President Emmanuel Macron, to continue to back the nuclear deal.

The Austrian Foreign Ministry said on Tuesday it was stripping the diplomatic status of the diplomat arrested in Germany. Iran’s foreign ministry has rejected as baseless the allegations against the diplomat.

Iran blames Mujahedeen

Tehran has dismissed accusations it was behind the plot. It blamed the NCRI of orchestrating the alleged plot and said a couple arrested in Belgium were actually members of the group.

In a statement, the foreign ministry said it was the People’s Mujahedeen itself that was behind the “scenario.”

“Based on the information available, the individuals arrested in Belgium are among the ... notorious and operational elements” of the MEK, the ministry said on its website.

“Relevant Iranian authorities are prepared to offer the necessary cooperation by presenting the required documents and evidence to shed light on the real dimensions of this pre-planned scenario orchestrated by the terrorist group,” it said.

Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, who is with Rouhani in Europe, said on Monday the foiled Villepinte attack was a “false flag ploy” to harm Iran and offered his country’s help in investigating the matter.

Iran’s official IRNA news agency said the foreign ministry had summoned France’s ambassador to Tehran, Francois Senemaud, to hear officials “strongly protesting against the activities of the terrorist and hypocritical MEK group in France.”

“Extremist terrorist groups should not be allowed to take refuge (in a country) under the pretext of freedom of expression and thus promote their ideology,” it said, citing the ministry.

Full report at:



Merkel applauds Turkey for efforts on refugee crisis

04 July 2018

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has applauded Turkey for hosting more than 3 million Syrian refugees and renewed a call on EU member states to assume more responsibility for a European solution to the refugee crisis.

Addressing lawmakers in Germany's parliament on Wednesday, Merkel underlined the importance of an EU decision last week to allocate an additional €3 billion in assistance for Syrian refugees in Turkey.

“We can criticize Turkey on many other issues, but what Turkey has done by providing shelter to refugees that have fled civil war in Syria, is a big contribution. And that deserves all the appreciation,” she stressed.

Amid criticism by opposition politicians, Merkel underlined that the EU’s financial aid was not transferred to Turkey’s state budget, and specifically used for projects to improve the conditions of Syrian refugees.

The chancellor also informed the lawmakers on last week’s EU leaders summit in Brussels which was focused on ways to address the refugee crisis.

“This challenge is not something one or several member states can address alone, rather this is a task for all of us,” Merkel stressed, and said the leaders reached a common understanding on the need for a closer cooperation.

She praised the success of EU-Turkey cooperation, and vowed to clinch agreements with African countries to control irregular migrant flows through the Mediterranean. 

In 2016 Merkel had championed the EU-Turkey refugee agreement with the hope of stopping the refugee influx, after nearly a million refugees arrived in Germany.

The EU had pledged €6 billion ($7.44 billion) in funding for the refugees, and promised to mobilize the second €3 billion ($3.72 billion) tranche by the end of 2018.

The agreement has been successful in significantly reducing the number of crossings in the Aegean Sea, and preventing the loss of many lives.

Full report at:



South Asia


Afghan forces kill 132 militants in fresh operations

July 05, 2018

KABUL - The Afghan army continued mopping-up operations against militants and killed 132 Taliban insurgents in latest raids on their supply lines and the group’s mid-level command structure, the Defence Ministry said Wednesday.

Some 132 militants were killed and 28 others wounded during military operations and airstrikes in Afghanistan since early Tuesday, the ministry said in a statement.

The Afghan army waged 10 military and cleanup operations and 89 night raids and small-scale operations led by army’s commandos in 15 of the country’s 34 provinces, according to the statement.

In southern Uruzgan province, 37 Taliban militants were killed and 14 others wounded during ground operations and airstrikes in Khas Uruzgan district.

Thirty-two militants were killed and two others wounded in similar incidents in Shah Wali Kot district of neighboring Kandahar province.

“A Taliban weapon facilitator named Mullah Ezatullah was among the killed militants in Shah Wali Kot operation and the security forces also destroyed two militants’ vehicles,” the statement said.

In southern Helmand province, seven Taliban militants were killed after army personnel supported by military helicopters pounded Taliban hideouts in Sar Boland and Trikh Nawar areas of restive Nad Ali district. The security forces seized weapons and ammunition and destroyed a vehicle in the raid.

In Bala Buluk district of western Farah province, four Taliban were killed and seven others wounded and two vehicles were destroyed after the army’s warplanes struck Taliban positions.

Twelve Taliban militants, including a Taliban divisional commander named Rafiullah, were killed and three militants injured during operations in Qara Bagh district and on the outskirts of provincial capital Ghazni city, of eastern Ghazni province. More than 30 militants were killed and many others wounded in separate military operations and airstrikes elsewhere in the country.

The Taliban-led insurgency has been on the rampage since the beginning of 2015 when the Afghan security forces assumed full responsibilities of security from the U.S. and NATO troops.

The militants also intensified attacks against security forces and staged coordinated large-scale attacks against Afghan cities and districts after they launched a yearly rebel offensive on April 25.

Army bomb disposal squads also defused 128 improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and landmines within the past 24 hours, according to the statement.

The Taliban militant group has yet to make comments on the reports. The statement did not disclose if there were any casualties on the side of security forces.

In addition, three militants of Islamic State (IS) were killed following two airstrikes in Manogai and Pech districts of eastern Kunar province.


Militants have attacked and killed three government employees in Burka district of the northern Baghlan province on Wednesday, district Governor Mawlawi Shamsul Haq Shahab said.

“A group of armed militants attacked a house in Burka district early this morning and opened fire killing three government employees and injuring two others,” Shahab told Xinhua. All the victims belonged to the department in charge of issuing National Identity card to eligible voters ahead of parliamentary elections slated for Oct 20.

Although no group has claimed responsibility, the district government didn’t rule out the involvement of Taliban militants who are active in parts of Baghlan province including the troubled Burka district. Taliban militants abducted four employees of National Identity Card Department from Baharak district of the northern Takhar province a couple of days ago but freed three of them on Wednesday, according to local officials.


Reuters adds: At least one person was killed and nine were wounded in the Afghan province of Faryab on Wednesday during a protest that underlined the tension between powerful regional leaders and President Ashraf Ghani ahead of elections due in October.

Hundreds of demonstrators gathered in Maiman, the capital of the northern province of Faryab, to demand the release of a prominent militia commander close to General Abdul Rashid Dostum, the ethnic Uzbek vice president who is in exile in Turkey. The commander, area police chief Nizamuddin Qaisari, was arrested after a violent dispute during a meeting with leaders of government security forces on Monday, drawing angry protests from Dostum’s supporters.

The dispute has highlighted fragile security in Faryab, where Islamic State fighters have gained a foothold, battling militia commanders loosely affiliated with the government. Dostum, in exile in Turkey after accusations that he ordered a political opponent to be tortured and sexually assaulted, issued a statement calling for the release of Qaisari and warning that the province, on the border with Turkmenistan, could collapse in chaos.

The protest descended into violence when protesters tried to force their way into governor’s compound and security forces fired in the air to stop them, said Karim Yourish, spokesperson for the provincial police.

But the head of a provincial council, Mohammad Tahir Rahmani, said at least one person was killed and eight wounded in the firing, which then prompting the crowd to break into the compound.

“We were trying to control the protesters and have a peaceful protest, but unfortunately it turned violent after security forces opened fire,” Rahmani said, adding that one member of the provincial council was among the injured.

The trouble underlines the important role that Dostum plays in politics despite the international outrage that prompted his departure from Afghanistan last year.

Since his exile, there have been regular reports that he will return to Afghanistan, where he commands loyalty among ethnic Uzbeks who make up a significant minority in the north of the country. With parliamentary elections due in October and presidential elections due early next year, there has been growing tension between powerful regional leaders, like Dostum, and Ghani’s Western-backed government in Kabul.

This week, Atta Mohammad Noor, the former governor of Balkh province, who stepped down in March after a months-long standoff with the central government, announced a new opposition movement called the Grand National Coalition of Afghanistan.



Killings Sow Fear Inside Rohingya Refugee Camps In Bangladesh

July 05, 2018

COX’S BAZAR/DHAKA, Bangladesh – Bangladesh is deploying thousands of extra police to Rohingya refugee camps in the south, officials said, after a series of mostly unexplained killings that have sown fear among hundreds of thousands of people who have fled from neighboring Myanmar.

Since August, when a military crackdown in Myanmar forced many of the Muslim minority to cross the border into Bangladesh and seek shelter in the crowded camps, 19 people, some of them community leaders, have been killed.

Police have made a number of arrests in connection with some of the killings, but say the motives often remain unclear.

Conducted after dark and often by groups of men wielding pistols, knives, and sticks, the killings have sent a chill through the camps, which are guarded by the Bangladesh army during the day but manned by fewer police officers at night.

A.K.M. Iqbal Hossain, police superintendent of the coastal town of Cox’s Bazar under whose jurisdiction the camps fall, said a special force of roughly 2,400 men was being formed to guard the refugees.

A second senior officer, Superintendent Afrujul Haque Tutul, said police numbers were already being increased.

“We have 1,000 police officers right now for a million people, so you can imagine,” he said.

More than 700,000 Rohingya have taken shelter in Cox’s Bazar district since August, joining thousands who were already living there, making it the world’s largest and fastest growing refugee camp.

Even before the August exodus, there had been violence in the camps, which Bangladesh police and aid workers have previously blamed on a struggle for control of supplies to the camps.


The latest killing, of 35-year-old Arifullah, took place last month on a busy road outside the Balukhali camp, where he had been appointed a leader of thousands of refugees.

A group of men surrounded him on the evening of 18 June, stabbing him at least 25 times, police said. A pool of blood stained the spot the next morning, and a crowd of refugees could be seen gathered around.

Police said three Rohingya men had been arrested over the killing of Arifullah, who spoke English, had worked for international agencies in Myanmar, and often met foreign delegates who visited the camps.

His wife, who did not want to be named and asked Reuters not to disclose the location where she was interviewed because she feared attack, said Arifullah was a critic of the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) – a militant group whose assaults on Myanmar security posts in August triggered the crackdown by the military.

The group says it is fighting for the rights of the Rohingya. Police said investigations into the murder were ongoing and they had not found links to ARSA.

A spokesman for ARSA referred Reuters to its 31 January statement that said other armed groups were responsible for “activities” at refugee camps and were using its name to malign its image.

The group said it did not attack civilians and would never carry out killings in the camps because its was thankful for Bangladesh’s generosity in sheltering the refugees.

That statement was issued after the 19 January killing of Yusuf, another English-speaking camp leader. Sitting on the mud floor of her shelter, Yusuf’s wife Jamila said her husband had been watching a football match on his phone with his two sons when around a dozen men barged into their shelter in the Taingkhali camp carrying knives and pistols, shooting him twice.

She said police had urged her to file a case and name suspects, but she had refused, fearing retaliation, and because she did not want to leave her shelter for hours to go to court. “I’m scared for my children,” she said.

Details of Yusuf’s killing were confirmed by police superintendent Tutul at the Cox’s Bazar police station. He said the police investigation was hampered because the refugees were afraid to name suspects.

He said intelligence received so far suggested several of the killings, including those of Yusuf and Arifullah, were due to personal disputes refugees had brought from Myanmar.

Police have arrested about 300 Rohingya in cases involving killings, robberies and abductions in the camps since the August influx, Tutul said.

Camp leaders at Balukhali and Taingkhali said the army had appointed Rohingya volunteers to keep guard at night, but most had stopped working because they were not being paid.

Foreign officials said security inside the teeming camps was a worry. “What I hear from my colleagues is that is obviously a big concern,” Peter Maurer, president of the International Committee of the Red Cross, said on a visit to the camps on Sunday.

Full report at:



Ghani promises thorough investigation into the deadly attack on Afghan Sikhs

Jul 05 2018

President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani has promised a thorough investigation into the deadly attack on Afghan Sikhs in Jalalabad city of Afghanistan.

The Office of the President, ARG Palace, said President Ghani on Wednesday visited the Gurdwara in Karte Parwan area of Kabul city to offer condolences regarding the loss of lives in the attack.

Surpal Singh thanked President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani on behalf of the Sikh community of the country for offering condolences.

In his turn, President Ghani called the attack a catastrophe and promised that the incident would be thoroughly investigated and the perpetrators would face trial for the crime.

Calling the Sikh and Hindus communities the pride of the nation, President Ghani said the government remains committed to support the Afghan Sikhs and Hindus.

At least nineteen people including seventeen Sikhs were killed after a suicide bomber detonated his explosives close to a gathering in Jalalabad.

Full report at:



3 members of ISIS-K urban network arrested in Jalalabad city

Jul 05 2018

At least three more members of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria Khurasan (ISIS-K) were arrested in Jalalabad city, the provincial capital of Nangarhar province.

The provincial government media office in a statement said the three ISIS-K militants were arrested during an operation of the Afghan Intelligence Special forces.

The statement further added that the operation was conducted close to Darunta area in Surkh Rod.

According to the provincial government, the detained individuals were involved in orchestrating and coordinating attacks, making remote-controlled bombs, and explosions.

This comes as a key ISIS Khurasan group member who was in charge of coordinating in the urban areas and expert in producing Improvised Explosive Devices was killed during an operation of the Afghan armed forces.

The local officials said Sunday that the key ISIS Khurasan group member was killed in Jalalabad city the provincial capital of Nangarhar province.

Full report at:



Top Taliban leader among 7 dead, wounded in AAF airstrikes in Faryab province

Jul 04 2018

At least seven Taliban militants including a key leader of the group were killed or wounded during the airstrikes conducted by the Afghan Air Force in northern Faryab province of Afghanistan.

The 209th Shaheen Corps of the Afghan Military in the North said the airstrikes were conducted in the vicinity of Pashtun Kot district.

A statement by the Shaheen Corps stated that the Afghan Air Force fighter planes carried out airstrikes at around 5:40 pm local time on Tuesday.

The statement further added that the airstrikes left at least three Taliban militants dead while at least four others sustained injuries.

According to the Shaheen Corps, a senior leader of the group identified as Mullah Samad also famous as Jawid was among those wounded.

Mullah Samad is among the prominent leaders of the Taliban who was appointed as the deputy shadow governor of the group, Shaheen Corps said.

The statement by Shaheen Corps also added that eight motorcycles belonging to Taliban were also destroyed during the same airstrikes.

The airstrikes on Wednesday were carried out as part of the ongoing Esar-5 operations, the Shaheen Corps added.

Full report at:



Southeast Asia


Philippine troops retake town after standoff with pro-Daesh militants

July 04, 2018

MANILA: Philippine soldiers backed by armored vehicles have retaken a southern town held for 12 hours by pro-Daesh militants, the army said on Wednesday, with four rebels killed in urban clashes reminiscent of a five-month siege last year.

The clashes followed warnings by President Rodrigo Duterte that remnants of pro-Daesh militant groups had been recruiting and still planning attacks on several southern cities to set up an independent and separate Islamic state.

Troops pursued militants from the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) group, who fled to the hills after trying to occupy a marshland town, Lt. Col. Harold Cabunoc, an army battalion commander, said in a statement.

The military will continue to “disrupt the BIFF’s plan to sow terror in communities” in the troubled south, Cabunoc said.

There was no immediate comment from the militants’ group.

Hundreds of residents have remained in shelter areas and not been allowed to return home after troops retrieved improvised explosive devices and other booby traps in the town of Datu Paglas.

Cabunoc said four militants were killed and two others were wounded. A soldier and a local militia official were also wounded.

The army said the Datu Paglas attack could be a test case, since the area was near the militants’ marshland base.

Since March, the military has shifted its combat operations from Marawi, a battered lakeside town in Mindanao embroiled in last year’s five-month conflict, to the island’s marshes where other pro-Daesh militants operate.

More than 40 BIFF militants have been killed in the last four months by troops in air and ground assaults the military described as preemptive moves to thwart militant attacks on cities.



Malaysia to send Zakir Naik back to India: Report 

04 JULY, 2018

KUALA LUMPUR - Malaysia will reportedly send back controversial preacher Zakir Naik to India on Wednesday (July 7) despite the previous Najib Razak government granting him permanent residency since 2016, but the Islamist has denied this is the case.

Indian broadcaster NDTV said on Wednesday that it has confirmed with Malaysian police that the preacher will return later in the evening.

Dr Naik is known for hate speeches that apparently inspired one of the attackers in the 2016 Dhaka terror attack and has been singled out by Singapore as a preacher whose divisive preaching is not accepted in the Republic.

“He is out of the country tonight. He will be taking a flight to India today I believe,” Malaysian counter-terrorism officer Mohammed Raby Abu Bakar told NDTV in Kuala Lumpur.

The director-general of the Indian National Investigation Agency had reportedly told Times Now that Dr Naik will be returned to India on Wednesday.

Dr Naik, however, denied through his organisation, the Islamic Research Foundation, that he is returning to India any time soon.

“The news of my coming to India is totally baseless and false. I have no plans to come to India as I don’t feel safe from unfair prosecution," said the IRF statement on behalf of Naik.

“Insha Allah, when I feel that the government will be just and fair, I will surely return to my homeland.”

His lawyer also said there is no notice of his extradition from the government yet.

The preacher allegedly fled to Saudi Arabia after the Indian authorities started investigating him and the IRF for alleged terror propaganda in 2016.

He has previously voiced support for Al Qaeda jihadists and Osama bin Laden and, in a 2006 lecture, he called for “every Muslim to be a terrorist”.

India filed radicalisation charges against Dr Naik last year and has been seeking his extradition from Malaysia, where he has permanent residency and has been living despite protests from the local Indian community.

When NDTV asked why he was “welcome” there, Mr Raby was quoted as saying, “you will have to ask the last government.”

The Barisan Nasional government was ousted in the May 9 polls, the first change of government in Malaysia since its formation in 1963.

Former Prime Minister Najib Razak had personally met Dr Naik and the United Malays National Organisation previously led by Najib was seen as close to the preacher.

Former Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi has defended the Islamic televangelist and even described the latter as a “very wise man”. 

In 2016, the Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Asyraf Wajdi Dusuki defended Malaysia’s decision to allow controversial Islamic scholar to conduct a lecture series on religion following an uproar from various quarters, including BN component parties, because Dr Naik is a “voice of moderation” for Islam.

Dr Naik is popular as an English-speaking preacher among the local Muslim community and was usually seen at the main mosque in the Putrajaya administrative capital.

Singapore leaders have cautioned against divisive preaching by the likes of Dr Naik — who had urged followers not to vote for someone of another religion.

In Parliament last October, Law and Home Affairs Minister K Shanmugam had showed videos of two preachers, including one featuring Dr Naik, as he spoke about how the Government is looking to tighten processes to ensure foreign preachers with divisive teachings do not come to the Republic to preach.

The video showed Dr Naik advising followers not to vote for someone of another religion.

“I think Singaporeans will say that is not acceptable,” said Mr Shanmugam.

Full report at:



Malaysian Ex-Special Branch Man Grilled Over Claim That Shia Muslims ‘Dangerous’

Sheith Khidhir Bin Abu Bakar

July 5, 2018

KUALA LUMPUR: A just retired former Special Branch officer today told the ongoing inquiry into missing Perlis activist Amri Che Mat that police were concerned about the spread of Shia Islam in Malaysia, amid allegations that police and local religious authorities had targeted Amri over his Shia belief.

Former police deputy commissioner Awaluddin Jadid was asked by Amri’s family lawyers to explain a speech he made in 2016, which among other things, refers to Shia Muslims as “enemies”.

The speech is crucial in the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia’s (Suhakam) inquiry into Amri’s disappearance because of allegations that he is a Shia Muslim.

When questioned, Awaluddin however said he did not believe Shia Muslims were violent, despite branding them enemies.

“The Special Branch have to be concerned because we don’t want something small to become big later,” he told the inquiry.

In the 2016 speech, Awaluddin had said: “If they (Shia) have a leader then it will become a problem for our security.”

He had also said there were Shia Muslims in the police force.

Awaluddin was then asked if he considered this a problem.

“The fatwa is that Shia is deviant and so it becomes a security concern,” he said, referring to the stand by Malaysian Islamic authorities, labelling Shia Islam as deviant.

Awaluddin said the concern over Shia Muslims was due to events in the Middle East.

“In countries like Syria and Iraq, there is war between Sunni and Shia Muslims.”

But family lawyers protested his statement, saying it had nothing to do with Malaysia.

On May 12, Amri’s wife Norhayati Ariffin claimed that she met with a Sergeant Shamzaini who had implicated Awaluddin in Amri’s disappearance.

Full report at:



Malaysia should focus more on LGBT issues, not child brides: Kelantan official

July 05, 2018

KOTA BHARU (BERNAMA) - The Malaysian government should focus more on addressing LGBT - lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgenders - issues instead of on the recent controversy where an 11-year-old girl was wedded to a 41-year-old man, said a Kelantan state official on Wednesday (July 4).

Deputy Menteri Besar of Kelantan Mohd Amar Nik Abdullah said the issues of LGBT and illicit sex were greater compared with the child bride case, which he described as isolated.

"This issue (child marriage) is not wrong in terms of religion (Islam)... it should not be sensationalised and made a national issue and this case is an isolated case," said Datuk Mohd Amar.

"Not everyone marries an 11-year-old child but the LGBT issue, illicit sex and having children out of wedlock are rampant everywhere, so much so that these have become a phenomenon in the country. This should be a concern to the government and society," he said.

His comments came after Kelantan police said on Wednesday they have opened an investigation paper on the controversial marriage between the underage Thai girl and the Malaysian man that took place on June 18 in southern Thailand, close to the border with Malaysia.

The results of that investigation will be submitted to the public prosecutor for further action, said state police chief Hasanuddin Hassan.

Malaysian Muslims below the age of 16 are allowed to marry if they obtain the permission of a religious court.

The man, who lives in Kelantan, already has two wives, with the girl being his third spouse. Muslim men in Malaysia are allowed to have up to four wives.

Mr Mohd Amar said while the state government was concerned about the case, it did not wish to overreact.

Full report at:



PKR sec-gen denies Malaysia's Cabinet list racially motivated 

05 JULY, 2018

PUTRAJAYA — Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) secretary-general Saifuddin Nasution Ismail rejected claims that Malaysia's Cabinet lineup favoured Malay-dominated parties to assuage concern among the majority community.

“No, trust me, that’s not the reason,” Mr Saifuddin told Malay Mail in an interview.

Mr Saifuddin said Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad told Pakatan Harapan (PH) coalition that he had to take “so many things” into consideration when appointing federal ministers and deputy ministers, such as gender, party affiliation, youth, state, and Sabah and Sarawak representatives.

“And the way he explained to us is that overall, the reactions from the public on the appointment of the new lineup, overall it's okay.

“He asked for us to understand. Now, time to move on and fulfill the promises that we made,” said Mr Saifuddin, who was recently appointed Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Minister.

Fitch Group research unit BMI Research said earlier this week that the Cabinet lineup was “lopsided” and over-represented Malay-Muslim parties — Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (PPBM) and Parti Amanah Negara (Amanah) — at the expense of PKR and Democratic Action Party (DAP).

The multiracial PKR and secular DAP are the biggest PH parties in Parliament with 50 and 42 seats respectively.

BMI Research said it acknowledged that the Cabinet lineup may allay fears among Malays about the Chinese supposedly taking over the country, and so PH parties might have agreed that giving predominantly Malay parties more portfolios was necessary for their political survival.

The Fitch Group research outfit said although PKR and DAP have the most ministerial and deputy ministerial positions totalling 15 and 12 respectively, a Cabinet line-up strictly proportionate with parties’ parliamentary seat count should see PKR holding 19 positions, DAP (17 positions), PPBM (five positions), Amanah (five positions), and Warisan (three positions), with two positions to spare. PPBM, Amanah and Warisan instead have 10, nine and five Cabinet posts respectively.

According to MR Saifuddin, Dr Mahathir told PH that, during his first stint as prime minister when he was then Barisan Nasional (BN) chairman, it was easy for him to appoint Cabinet members.

“He just needed to do minor changes,” said Mr Saifuddin. “But now, it's different .... Now he has to start all over again.”

When asked if the Cabinet seats should have been proportionate with parties’ seat count in Parliament, the PKR secretary-general said now was the time for PH to focus on doing their work, to fulfill their pledges, and to support the prime minister.

DAP Socialist Youth has openly criticised the Cabinet line-up, saying that it was not proportionate to the number of seats that PH parties won in the May 9 general election.

“I think Keadilan will not go that way,” Mr Saifuddin said in response to DAP Socialist Youth’s actions.

Mr Saifuddin also said Dr Mahathir has advised Cabinet members to fulfill PH’s election promises.

“The minister is answerable on policy, guided by the Pakatan Harapan manifesto. Your task is to come up with policy papers to be discussed in the Cabinet,” he said.

Dr Mahathir was also purportedly intolerant of corruption, according to Mr Saifuddin.

“He said no compromise. Once you commit (corruption), out you go. He was very firm. He said the expectation of the people is very high. He said you don't have any other choice except to fulfill promises,” he said.

The 92-year-old prime minister, who is in his second stint in office after previously governing the country for 22 years, demanded “100 per cent loyalty” to ensure that bureaucrats fully supported PH’s reform agenda, according to Mr Saifuddin.

“No point come out with beautiful policy but don't get support,” said the newly-minted minister.

He clarified that this expected “loyalty” to the prime minister, Cabinet, and government was only insofar as to support lawful decisions, not corrupt acts.

“When you run a ministry, you’re taking over from a government that was in power for 61 years. It's not going to be easy. So the importance of demanding loyalty is in the context.”

Mr Saifuddin also spoke highly of Dr Mahathir’s leadership skills, saying that despite not having any leadership experience in government, he was not made to feel less capable.

Full report at:



Indonesian police say no valid proof so far of death of ISIS fighter Bahrun Naim

July 05, 2018

JAKARTA - Indonesian police said there has been no valid proof confirming the death of Bahrun Naim, one of the country's most notorious militants who was reported to be fighting alongside the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) in the Middle East.

Verification of his death requires "valid evidence", national police spokesman, Inspector General Setyo Wasisto, said in a mobile message reply to The Straits Times on Thursday (July 5) morning. "I cannot comment if there is not yet any accurate data," he added.

His comments were made after a Channel NewsAsia report, citing a regional security source, said on Wednesday that the ISIS senior member has been killed in a drone strike in Syria.

The CNA report said Bahrun, 34, was killed by a United States drone before the Muslim's fasting month of Ramadan, which started in mid-May this year.

Bahrun's reported death follows online chatter late last year that he had been killed in Syria. Internet chatgroups known to be used by extremists were abuzz with talk that the Indonesian militant had died while fighting for ISIS.

But his death was never confirmed by the police despite efforts to verify it.

Bahrun, who had a role in the 2016 Jakarta attacks that killed four bystanders, was said to have helped coordinate attacks in Indonesia from Raqqa, Syria, via Telegram, a smartphone messaging app.

He was also said to have transferred money to his comrades back home to fund terrorist activities. He had reportedly taught terror cells back in Indonesia to make bombs and mount attacks , sending instructions using Telegram, Indonesian police have earlier said.

One of his cells had plans to attack the Istana Merdeka presidential palace in Jakarta with a female suicide bomber, but the plot was foiled in December 2016.

Full report at:




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