New Age Islam
Fri Feb 23 2024, 12:30 PM

Islamic World News ( 25 Feb 2018, NewAgeIslam.Com)

Comment | Comment

To Put Terror Lens on Pakistan, US Nudged Saudi, Cut China Deal

New Age Islam News Bureau

25 Feb 2018 

As of now, Pakistan does not feature on the FATF’s updated grey list, which was issued on Friday along with the FATF statement. (Representational photo)



 To Put Terror Lens on Pakistan, US Nudged Saudi, Cut China Deal

 Raised by ISIS, Returned to Chechnya: ‘These Children Saw Terrible Things’

 AR Rahman Was Not Forced To Embrace Islam, Sainaba Tells Supreme Court

 Police Framed Naqeeb, Three Others in False Cases after Killing Them in Fake Encounter, Judge Told

 ‘Disappeared’ Muslim Brotherhood Member Re-Emerges With ISIS

 Myanmar Media Reports 90% of the Rohingyas Have Been Driven Out


North America

 To Put Terror Lens on Pakistan, US Nudged Saudi, Cut China Deal

 U.S. Court Says Trump Travel Ban Unlawfully Discriminates Against Muslims

 Car torching revived fears in Quebec City's Muslim community, mosque leader tells court



 Raised by ISIS, Returned to Chechnya: ‘These Children Saw Terrible Things’

 Islamic Universities Have Role in Fighting Extremism

 Pakistani Peacekeepers Made ‘Significant Contribution’ To Liberia Peace Process: UN

 Russia sends most advanced jets to Syria after US F-22 deployment: Reports



 AR Rahman Was Not Forced To Embrace Islam, Sainaba Tells Supreme Court

 How ‘India’s Bin Laden’ Brought SIMI Close To Indian Mujahideen

 Amarinder's 'terror' list to Trudeau: Details of 5 most wanted operatives

 J&K: Pakistani troops fire mortar shells at border villages in Rajouri district

 Muslims top complainants to minority commission

 ‘JeM pushing in terrorists from Pakistan’s FATA’

 J-K: Panic in Uri amid heaviest shelling in 15 years, Pakistan tells LoC villagers to flee

 Aligarh Muslim University Students: No RSS Man with Kovind



 Police Framed Naqeeb, Three Others in False Cases after Killing Them in Fake Encounter, Judge Told

 Rome's Colosseum Turned Red to Protest Pakistan Blasphemy Law

 Pakistan determined to defeat menace of terrorism: NSA Janjua

 FC kills one alleged terrorist, arrests 11 others in Balochistan

 IB tasked with selecting PML-N candidates for polls: Imran

 Pakistan can nudge Haqqanis over border: US

 Unchecked terror threat in Afghanistan as Afghan forces lack capacity: DG ISPR

 FC Balochistan kills one terrorist, arrests 11 others


Arab World

 ‘Disappeared’ Muslim Brotherhood Member Re-Emerges With ISIS

 Iraq Rejects Riyadh's Request To Extradite Over 400 Saudi 'Terrorists’

 UN unanimously demands a 30-day ceasefire across Syria to deliver humanitarian aid

 Russia joins UNSC to demand Syria ceasefire as over 500 killed in week

 Eastern Syria: US Air Raids Take Civilian Tolls Again

 Misinformation Campaign Intensifies by Advocates of Ghouta Terrorists

 Syrian Army Repels Terrorists' Heavy Offensive in Quneitra

 Terrorist Groups Continue Shelling of Residential Areas in Damascus

 Syrian Army Specifies Safe Corridor for Civilians' Evacuation from Eastern Damascus

 Russian Air Force Redeploys Su-57 Fighter Jets to Syria to Face Intruding Warplanes

 Air strikes hit Syria’s Ghouta minutes after UN vote on ceasefire

 Iraqi army threatens to ‘crush’ ISIS if they approach Kirkuk

 Two civilians killed, four injured in Turkish shelling on Syria's Afrin


South Asia

 Myanmar Media Reports 90% of the Rohingyas Have Been Driven Out

 Series of Attacks, Suicide Bombings Kill 23 in Afghanistan; Taliban and Islamic State Claim Responsibility

 Bangladesh police free detained foreign aid workers

 New threats loom over 720K Rohingya children: UNICEF

 Turkish whirling dervishes perform in Bangladesh

 9 Taliban insurgents killed in Baghlan operations

 Each and every regional player to benefit from a stable Afghanistan: NATO SCR

 ISIS local leader among 3 killed in US drone strikes in Kunar province

 Ghani vows relentless war against terror groups after recent attacks

 Foreigner among three killed in Nangarhar clash


Southeast Asia

 Malaysia Scholars Deny Forming Body to Monitor Two Holy Mosques

 No Need to Jump in Anger over Namewee’s Dog Video, Muslim Group Chief Says

 Najib: Changes to education system needed to meet challenges

 Rohingya refugees find uneasy solace in Malaysia

 Philippines arrests widow of slain militants



 Avant-Garde Mosque Angers Hard-Liners in Iran

 At Least 14 Dead In Attack on Yemen Counter-Terrorism Base

 Turkey says U.S. decision to open embassy in Jerusalem damaging peace

 IS attacks kill dozens in Yemen

 Yemen: Deadly car bomb attack hits Aden anti-terror camp

 Daesh not over, US relocating it: Iran’s Zarif

 Hezbollah chief warns Lebanese nation against voting for pro-US candidates

 'MPs can help settle political differences between Egypt and Turkey,' Turkish MP tells reporters in Cairo



 Death Toll Rises to 38 in Mogadishu Bombings

 Nigeria Says Kills 5 Boko Haram Militants

 Turkey condemns double car bombings in Somalia

 EU warns violent attacks threaten Tanzania's democracy

 Muslim scholars tapped to fight extremism

 Al-Shabaab claims Somalia blasts that kill 18

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau




To put terror lens on Pakistan, US nudged Saudi, cut China deal

by Sushant Singh

February 25, 2018

Pakistan found itself on the watchlist of the global terror financing watchdog on Friday evening after a dramatic volte face by two of its three principal backers. After the United States negotiated with China, and got Saudi Arabia to lean on the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) on Thursday, only Turkey was left standing with Pakistan as the plenary meeting of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) ended in Paris.

Being on the FATF’s watchlist means Pakistan can be placed in either the “black list” or the “grey list” of countries with strategic deficiencies posing a risk to the international financial system. The FATF is an intergovernmental organisation founded at the initiative of the Group of 7 to establish standards for the effective implementation of legal, regulatory and operational measures to combat threats such as money laundering and terror financing.

As of now, Pakistan does not feature on the FATF’s updated grey list, which was issued on Friday along with the FATF statement. The grey list is a list of “jurisdictions with strategic anti-money laundering/countering the financing of terrorism deficiencies for which they have developed an action plan with the FATF”.

Pakistan has not yet “developed an action plan with the FATF”, which, as per existing FATF norms, is developed only after the FATF has carried out a “Mutual Evaluation”, or in-depth study of the financial system of the country.

Following the completion of an earlier process of Mutual Evaluation, Pakistan was put on the grey list in 2012, to follow the action plan suggested by FATF. In 2015, it was taken off the grey list, after the FATF was satisfied that it had done enough to counter terror financing. The next Mutual Evaluation starts in April, which is expected to take at least 18 months of study, followed by another 12 months of analysis. An Action Plan for overcoming “strategic deficiencies” would be suggested at the end of Mutual Evaluation.

However, in the absence of a latest Mutual Evaluation report for Pakistan, the US, along with the UK, France and Germany, started an unprecedented process at the FATF meeting in Paris. They co-sponsored a motion to nominate Pakistan as a country having “strategic deficiencies” in “countering financing of terrorism”.

This motion was passed on Thursday — and Pakistan is now required to submit an Action Plan to FATF in May. Once the FATF approves the Action Plan in June, it will make a formal announcement about placing Pakistan on the grey list. Should Islamabad fail to submit an Action Plan, or if the FATF does not accept it, the global watchdog will have the option of placing Pakistan on its black list, along with North Korea and Iran.

Pakistan’s recent actions against Hafiz Saeed’s charities and strong diplomatic lobbying to avert grey listing was undone by some deft moves from the US in Paris. While the FATF works on consensus, a vote by at least three members is required to block a nomination in the 37-member grouping. During the preliminary discussions between Sunday and Tuesday, the US-led proposal was opposed by China, Turkey and the GCC. The GCC was following the lead of Saudi Arabia, which is an observer, and not a full voting member of the FATF.

On Wednesday, Pakistan Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif posted an update on Twitter that Pakistan had received a three-month reprieve, stating that it was “grateful to friends who helped”. This followed the US decision to not put the nomination to vote on Wednesday, the first day of the plenary session. But Asif’s premature announcement came a cropper when US officials negotiated with China and Saudi Arabia behind the scenes, bringing the two countries around to its view on Pakistan’s terror financing.

Official sources told The Indian Express that the Chinese turnaround came after the US offered it the vice-presidentship of FATF from July 1. The FATF Vice-President is also the FATF President-designate, which means that Beijing will head the terror financing and money laundering watchdog for one year starting July 2019. Sources said that the US also leaned on Saudi Arabia, which is hoping to become a full member of the FATF in June, to ask the GCC to drop its opposition to the proposal. The US and the three co-sponsors then moved the proposal on Thursday, which was opposed only by Turkey.

India, which is a full member of the FATF, supported the US proposal, but did not actively lobby for it, as the organisation is keen to keep politics out of what it considers to be “a technical process”. Sources said Islamabad’s aggressive lobbying prior to the meeting and the public announcement by its foreign minister contributed to the mood against Pakistan.



Raised by ISIS, Returned to Chechnya: ‘These Children Saw Terrible Things’


FEB. 24, 2018

GROZNY, Russia — Every day, Belant Zulgayeva gets a knot in her throat watching her grandchildren play their violent games, what she calls their “little war.” They talk very little, but they run around, hide and, occasionally, slam one another to the ground with a disturbing ferocity.

Ms. Zulgayeva is on the front line of a different kind of struggle: an effort by the Russian government to bring home and care for Russian children like her three grandchildren, who were raised by Islamist militants in the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL.

As the American-led coalition and Syrian government forces captured cities that had been held by the Islamic State, they found among the ruins a grim human wreckage of the organization’s once successful recruitment drive: hundreds and perhaps thousands of children born to or brought with the men and women who had flocked to Syria in support of the Islamic State.

While Russia, which has so far returned 71 children and 26 women since August, may seem surprisingly lenient in its policy, its actions reflect a hardheaded security calculus: better to bring children back to their grandparents now than have them grow up in camps and possibly return as radicalized adults.

“What should we do, leave them there so somebody will recruit them?” said Ziyad Sabsabi, the Russian senator who runs the government-backed program. “Yes, these children saw terrible things, but when we put them in a different environment, with their grandparents, they change quickly.”

European governments have shown little sympathy toward adult males who volunteered to join the militant group. Rory Stewart, the British international development minister, for example, told the BBC that “the only way of dealing with them will be, in almost every case, to kill them.”

But most European countries, including Britain, have taken a softer approach to repatriating most of the women and the estimated 1,000 children of militants from the European Union who fought in Syria. France has placed most of the 66 minors who have returned so far from the Islamic State in foster or adoptive homes. Some have joined relatives. A few older ones, who were combatants, have been incarcerated.

Analysts estimate that as many as 5,000 family members of foreign terrorist recruits are now marooned in camps and orphanages in Iraq and Syria. Russia and Georgia are in the forefront of countries helping family members to return, said Liesbeth van der Heide, the co-author of “Children of the Caliphate,” a study published last summer by the International Center for Counter-Terrorism in The Hague.

As Mr. Sabsabi acknowledged, many, if not most, of the returning children were exposed to unspeakable acts of macabre violence, including roles in execution videos. Many children were desensitized to violence through ceaseless indoctrination, paramilitary training and participation in various other crimes.

Germany’s domestic intelligence chief, Hans-Georg Maassen, told Reuters the children of the Islamic State were “brainwashed,” and that “we have to consider that these children could be living time bombs.”

That is not an easy view to take of Bilal, 4, a little Russian boy with a mop of sandy blond hair and spindly arms who last summer became the first child returned to Russia from Islamic-State controlled territory.

He makes car noises and pushes a toy around the kitchen table in his grandmother’s apartment in Grozny, the capital of Chechnya. He says little about his time in Iraq, says his grandmother, Rosa Murtazayeva, but it is obvious he remains touchingly attached to his father, Hasan.

With American-backed forces closing in, father and son survived like hunted animals in basements in Mosul, which the Islamic State controlled for three years. Bilal recalls little but the boiled potatoes they survived on. “I was with papa,” Bilal said. “There were no other boys.”

After they were captured, his father vanished into Iraqi prisons. Emaciated and filthy when he was found, Bilal is now outwardly fine. Ms. Murtazayeva said he is sociable at kindergarten and has many friends.

That is not always the case. Even months after returning, some children remain grimly silent, despite various therapies and pampering from their grandparents.

When the Islamic State tide went out, Hadizha, 8, was found like flotsam in a Mosul street. Her grandmother identified her from a photograph posted by an aid group. She was lying in a gutter, her arm and chin bandaged from burns.

What became of her mother, two brothers and a sister is unclear, said the grandmother, Zura, identified only by her first name to protect the child’s privacy. She cares for Hadizha in a small village in Chechnya.

“I gently asked her, ‘What happened?’ but she doesn’t want to say anything,” Zura said. “I want to hope they are alive, to latch onto something. But she is certain. She says they were shot, but that she waved her hands and said in Arabic, ‘Don’t shoot,’ and saved herself in that way.”

While clearly troubled, Hadizha hardly seems to pose any risks. She spends her days curled up on a couch, her eyes distant and angry, watching cartoons on a big-screen television. “She doesn’t need anything else,” her grandmother said. “She is silent.”

Others have fared better. Adlan, 9, left for Syria with his mother and father and two siblings but returned alone, delivered by Russians working with the repatriation program.

In the Islamic State, he said, he attended school, rode bikes and played tag with other Russian-speaking children. During the battle for Mosul, something exploded in his house, he said. He survived but the rest of the family was killed. “He said he saw his mother and brother and sisters, and they were sleeping,” said his Chechen grandfather, Eli, identified only by his first name to protect the child’s privacy.

Asked by a child psychologist to draw a picture with crayons, Adlan drew a house and flowers, deemed to be a good sign. “I think it will pass. He is still young and has a child’s memory,” Eli said.

Women from Muslim areas of Russia sometimes traveled to Syria or Iraq with their husbands, and sometimes in search of a husband, said Ekaterina L. Sokiryanskaya, director of the Conflict Analysis and Prevention Center, adding that they present a different set of resettlement issues.

“Women were not in the battlefield, but that does not mean that they were not radicalized, that they were not supporters of this terrorist organization and its very ugly ideology,” Ms. Sokiryanskaya said. “There were many very radical women joining.”

Hava Beitermurzayeva, now 22, slipped away in 2015 from her parents’ home in the village of Gekhi in Chechnya to marry an Islamic State soldier she had met online, and she wound up living in Raqqa, the capital of the militant group’s so-called caliphate in Syria.

She said in an interview that she spent most of her time cloistered at home, with a new son. The Islamic State militants, she added, enforced religious rules and staged public executions, by beheading or stoning, for crimes like adultery.

“The passers-by could stop and watch,” Ms. Beitermurzayeva said, though she says she never did herself.

Back at home now, she seems remarkably untroubled by her experiences and still enthusiastic about the caliphate, though, as she says, it was not God’s will to work out this time. “Everything that happened to me was determined by God,” she said. “If I were to regret it, I would be unhappy with the fate that God gave me.”

At first, Hamzat, 6, and his younger brothers, the boys who battle each other in their grandmother’s living room, talked very little when they moved in with her in Dachu-Borzoi, a village in the Caucasus Mountains in Chechnya. They just played their war games. But with time, they mellowed, Ms. Zulgayeva said.

They had been living in Tal Afar, Iraq, when American-backed Iraqi forces surrounded the city. Their father died in the fighting. After a bomb flattened a neighboring house, their mother, Fatima, decided to get out with the three boys and their baby sister.

But Hamzat and his brothers, Malik, 4, and Abdullah, 5, became separated from her at a checkpoint. She remains detained in Iraq, while the Russian government returned the boys and their baby sister, Halima, who turned 1 this month.

“It’s a miracle they all made it back alive,” Ms. Zulgayeva said.



AR Rahman Was Not Forced To Embrace Islam, Sainaba Tells Supreme Court

Harish V Nair

February 25, 2018

The names of Oscar-winning composer AR Rahman and legendary boxer Muhammad Ali, both non-Muslims who embraced Islam later, got dragged into the sensational Hadiya case or matter pertaining to forced conversions in the Supreme Court (SC).

This happened when fervently denying any involvement in forcible conversions, A S Sainaba, president of the Women's wing of the Islamic organisation Popular Front of India cited their examples to drive home her point that people tend to embrace Islam on their own.

Sainaba's remarks find place in an affidavit she filed in the Hadiya case in which the NIA has already questioned her.

India Today TV had in November last year shown an elaborate sting operation exposing Sainaba, where she makes candid admissions to alleged forced conversions taking place in Kerala.

"A number of world-renowned intellectuals and personalities from different walks of life have embraced Islam all over the world and nobody can say that they so embraced Islam because of indoctrination, brainwashing, radicalisation, etc. Madhavikutty (a famous Kerala poetess), who embraced Islam at the age of 65 and since changed her name as Kamala Surayya, A R Rahman who embraced Islam along with his family, and Muhammad Ali are only few examples," Sainaba says in the affidavit filed through advocate Noor Muhammad.

Accusing Hindu outfits of "indulging in conversion", Sainaba urged SC to order a probe into "rampant" ghar wapsi of those getting into inter-caste/inter-religious marriages through outfits affiliated to Sangh Parivar in Kerala.

"In the name of ghar wapsi, women and men who get into inter-caste/inter-religious marriages are being brought to specially dedicated centres for purpose of forcible conversion of people to Hinduism. These are done by organisations affiliated or having links to as well as fostered and protected by Sangh Parivar," says her affidavit, demanding a "thorough investigation into all the persons, organisations and forces, who are acting behind the curtain."

Hadiya, a 24-year-old homeopathy student, was born Hindu and was called Akhila Asokan before she converted to Islam and changed name. On a plea by her father, the Kerala HC had quashed the marriage, upholding his argument that Jahan was a radicalised man, a stooge of the ISIS who was trying to wean away his daughter to Syria under the pretext of marriage.

Jahan then moved the apex court against the HC order. Sainaba denied allegations that she and Markazul Hidaya Sathyasarani Educational and Charitable Trust and educational institution are engaged in conversion activities, brainwashing young women and have links with extremist organisations.

"This institution only imparts education to those who come on their own volition, including those from Muslim community, of knowledge about Islam, irrespective of the seekers caste, creed or religion," she claims.

Quoting the affidavit of a person who supports her claim of "religious conversion to Hinduism", she says the documents and other press clippings showing how horrible manner these anti-social and anti-national elements under the leadership of Sangh Parivar are operating in various parts of the country, including in Kerala, spreading falsehood like 'love jihad' and using force against persons compelling them to retract from relationship with Muslims.



Police Framed Naqeeb, Three Others in False Cases after Killing Them in Fake Encounter, Judge Told

Ishaq Tanoli

February 25, 2018

KARACHI: Police on Saturday informed the administrative judge of the antiterrorism courts that South Waziristan youngster Naqeebullah Mehsud and three other persons were killed in a fake encounter by a police team that also framed them in forged cases.

The investigating officer, SSP Abid Qaimkhani, also told the judge that a request had been sent to seek permission from the provincial home department to register a case against the police team under the Sindh Arms Act, 2013 for foisting weapons upon the victims.

The IO also submitted an investigation report under B (bogus) class in five cases registered against Naqeeb, Mohammad Sabir, Nazar Jan and Mohammad Ishaq after they were murdered in an alleged shoot-out on Jan 13 in Shah Latif Town.

The investigation report stated that the then SHO of Shah Latif Town Amanullah Marwat had lodged a case under Section 324 (attempt to commit murder), 353 (criminal force to deter public servant from discharging his duty) and 34 (common intention) of Pakistan Penal Code and Sections 3/4 of Explosive Substances Act, 1908 read with Section 7 of Anti-Terrorism Act, 1997 against the victims.

Police had also separately booked them under the Sindh Arms Act in four more cases after allegedly seizing pistols and grenades from them, it added.

The investigation report stated that notices were issued to the complainant and other policemen, but they did not turn up and went into hiding.

It further said that the then SHO claimed in the FIR that he along with his team was on a routine patrol when they got a tip-off about the presence of alleged terrorists of Daesh (the Arabic acronym of the militant Islamic State group) and outlawed Lashkar-i-Jhangvi at an abandoned poultry farm in Usman Khaskheli Goth.

He added that they cordoned off the area, but the alleged terrorists opened fire and hurled hand-grenades at the police and they were killed when police returned fire.

The IO further stated in the investigation report that during the inspection of the crime scene no evidence of projectile trajectory was found and empty bullet casings were placed there after the staged shoot-out while there was no impact on the walls of the abandoned house as well as no proof of hurling hand grenades.

Reproducing the findings of a three-member inquiry committee in the investigation report, the IO said that the Jan 13 encounter was prima facie a coordinated fake/staged shoot-out and according to the alleged encounter’s FIR six police officials were present at the place of the incident while the call date record analysis indicated that former Malir SSP Rao Anwar and members of his team were also present at the place of the alleged shoot-out or within its vicinity.

Referring to the inquiry report, the IO maintained that the criminal record produced by Rao Anwar against Naqeeb before the committee was not his.

He added that since Rao Anwar remained posted in the Malir district for around six-and-a-half years in different stints, there was extreme fear prevailing among witnesses and they were fearful of their security and afraid to cooperate during the inquiry and investigation against the police.

The committee also recommended that protection be provided to the witnesses of the case under the Sindh Witness Protection Act, 2013 and suggested that the investigation of the case may be carried out by another team headed by an additional inspector general of police.

The investigation report further said that police picked up Naqeeb with his two friends from a teashop on Abul Hassan Ispahani Road on Jan 3, kept them in detention and left his friends abandoned later on the Superhighway while he along with three others was killed in a staged encounter on Jan 13.

The shoot-out was fake and baseless and it was a case of extrajudicial killing. A letter had been sent to the home department for permission to register a case against the police party for framing the victims in forged illicit weapons cases, the report concluded.

The administrative judge sent the report to the ATC-II with direction to decide it in accordance with law.

The Supreme Court had also taken notice of Naqeeb’s killing after the incident sparked outrage on social media and protests by political parties, religious groups and rights organisations.

Subsequently, a three-member inquiry committee was formed and then a case was lodged against Rao Anwar and his associates under Sections 302 (premeditated murder), 365 (kidnapping with intent secretly and wrongfully to confine person), 344 (wrongful confinement for 10 or more days), 109 (abetment) and 34 (common intention) of the Pakistan Penal Code read with Section 7 of the Anti-Terrorism Act, 1997 on a complaint of Naqeeb’s father, Mohammad Khan, at the Sachal police station.

DSP Qamar Ahmed, said to be a close aide of absconding Rao Anwar, was in police custody on physical remand in the case while nine other policemen including a sub-inspector had already been remanded to prison.

However, Rao Anwar, Amanullah Marwat, then SHO of the SITE Superhighway police station Annar Khan and around 10 other policemen are still at large.



‘Disappeared’ Muslim Brotherhood member re-emerges with ISIS

February 25, 2018

CAIRO - The release of a jihadist video threatening retaliation against the Egyptian military in the Sinai Peninsula has created questions about links between the Muslim Brotherhood and the Islamic State (ISIS).

The video purports to show behind-the-scenes footage of ISIS’s Sinai Province affiliates attacking the Egyptian Army and police.

One ISIS militant in the video was identified as Omar Ibrahim al-Deeb, a 22-year-old among eight militants killed by police in Giza province last September. Egypt’s Interior Ministry had said Deeb was a member of Hasm, a Muslim Brotherhood group that has targeted Egyptian police.

The Brotherhood claimed that Deeb was not a militant and that he was in Egypt on holiday from his studies in Malaysia. A Muslim Brotherhood-related media outlet said that, while Deeb was an active member of the group, he was not involved in violence and accused the police of fabricating evidence against him.

The ISIS video seems to show that Deeb, son of prominent Muslim Brotherhood figure Ibrahim al-Deeb, had travelled to Mosul to receive training before returning to Egypt where he contacted Sinai Province and that he was in Giza to form an ISIS cell.

Deeb’s story, observers said, raised questions about ties between the Muslim Brotherhood and ISIS. It renewed public discussion about Brotherhood claims, particularly over enforced disappearances.

“I think it is now clear where the dozens of people who are reported to have disappeared by the Brotherhood ended up,” said Dalia Ziada, the founding director of Egypt’s Liberal Democracy Institute think-tank. “The Brotherhood spreads false ideas about its members who leave Egypt to join terrorist organisations outside it by claiming that they had been arrested by police.”

Dozens of junior members of the Muslim Brotherhood have been reported missing by the group. These members, the group claims, were “forcibly disappeared” as part of a government crackdown on Islamists following the ouster of Muslim Brotherhood President Muhammad Morsi in 2013. Al-Shehab Centre for Human Rights, a local rights group, in 2013 said 5,500 people had disappeared since the 2011 uprising.

Last August, local NGO the Egyptian Commission for Rights and Freedoms said 378 people had been reported missing by their families in the previous year. Most of the disappearances were reported at the National Council for Human Rights (NCHR), an organisation that was founded by the Egyptian government but which maintains that it operates as an independent agency.

Abdel Ghaffar Shukr, deputy head of the NCHR, said the agency received reports about the disappearance of 266 people in 2017 and that 143 of those were in police custody as suspects in criminal cases.

“The surprising thing for us, however, was that the Interior Ministry informed us that 44 of those reported missing had travelled outside Egypt to join terrorist organisations in other countries,” Shukr said.

It was not clear what had happened with the 79 people unaccounted for.

Mistrust between the Egyptian public and police means that many are willing to blame security forces for arrests instead of believing that loved ones left the country or joined terrorist groups.

“The video released by the terrorists in Sinai… reveals the way in which the Muslim Brotherhood utilises lies, falsification and deception,” a statement by Egypt’s State Information Service said.

A significant number of those reported missing by relatives were revealed to have fled Egypt to join terrorist groups, or to have joined domestic terrorist groups, such as Hasm or Lewa al-Thawra.

Security expert Gamal Mazloum said most of those reported missing left Egypt for Libya or Sudan. From there, they might have travelled to Syria and Iraq to join ISIS.

“This is why the authorities need to tighten control on the borders and prevent Egyptian nationals from reaching countries where they can be radicalised by terrorist organisations,” Mazloum said.

Hundreds of Egyptians are said to have joined ISIS since 2014. ISIS also has a presence in neighbouring Libya, as well as the Sinai Peninsula, with many Egyptians believed to have joined the group there.

Battle-hardened jihadists returning from the battlefield in Syria and Iraq represent a major threat to Egypt’s national security, officials said.

Sinai Province has stepped up operations in the past year, with analysts saying this was due to an influx of returning jihadists.

The Muslim Brotherhood regime actively encouraged Egyptians to travel to Syria to fight against the Assad regime. Brotherhood figures also boasted of sending arms and fighters to Syria at the beginning of the Syrian revolution.

“The Brotherhood coined ‘enforced disappearance’ as a term to drive a wedge between the people and police,” Ziada said. “It wanted to deflect attention from its members who travelled to swell the ranks of radical groups killing people in other countries in the name of Islam.”



Myanmar media reports 90% of the Rohingyas have been driven out

February 24, 2018

The Irrawaddy calculates that only 79,000 Rohingyas remain in that state, which in 2016 had a population of 767,038

A leading Myanmar news portal the Irrawaddy have found that at least 90% of the Rohingya’s have fled to Bangladesh from Rakhine state following the Myanmar military’s crackdown in August 2017.

Their calculations are based on the Myanmar government’s and INGO’s statistics that show the population in majority-Muslim Maungdaw and Buthidaung townships, as well as nearby Rathedaung township in Rakhine State have fled to Bangladesh.

“The Irrawaddy analyzed recent updated regional statistics reports from the General Administrative Department for the three townships. The reports are dated October 2017. The GAD is under the military-controlled Ministry of Home Affairs.

“Along with the GAD reports, The Irrawaddy’s tally also takes into account figures on the number of Rohingya in Bangladeshi camps collected by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. OCHA said that between Aug 25 and Jan 27, 688,000 new arrivals were registered,” the news portal wrote.

The Irrawaddy calculates that only 79,000 Rohingyas remain in that state, which in 2016 had a population of 767,038 according to a senior official from Maungdaw District’s General Administration Department who told the news portal told on condition of anonymity.

The 2000 word-long article also states: “The GAD report also avoids mention of burned Rakhine and Hindu villages. The Irrawaddy witnessed some burned sites at Buddhist villages like Khone Daing and a village from Kha Maung Seik village tract while accompanying a tour of Maungdaw for foreign diplomats in October 2017.

“The GAD reports do not clearly mention the number of Rakhine or Muslim villages in each township. They only list the total number of villages. According to GAD officials from Maungdaw and Buthidaung, Maungdaw comprises 364 villages, of which 272 are Muslim (or 74% of the villages in Maungdaw). Nearly 70 villages were spared arson attacks after the months-long clearance operations by government security forces.

“Buthidaung comprises 339 villages, including 173 Rohingya villages, or 51%. A senior GAD officer in Buthidaung said 30 of the township’s 173 villages were burned to the ground. He requested anonymity due to the sensitivity of the issue.

“Rathedaung region is dominated by ethnic Rakhine; it had just 22 Muslim villages before the conflict. Rohingya sources said that only two or three villages remain intact; the rest were completely torched.”

There seems to a systematic push by the Myanmar government to discredit the Rohingyas claim to any land there, according the article which elaborates on the situation saying: “When The Irrawaddy visited last December, most of the villages in southern Maungdaw and some in northern Maungdaw remained as burned-out sites. The smoldering remains of one of the biggest Muslim enclaves, Myo Thu Gyi, which previously had a population of about 8,600 living in 1,230 houses, had already been bulldozed, as had the Ka Nyin Tan Muslim quarter.

“At that time, locals told The Irrawaddy that heavy machinery such as bulldozers, dump trucks and steamrollers had been hired by the local authorities. On Friday, Human Rights Watch (HRW) issued an urgent release regarding government mass demolitions in northern Rakhine. Its satellite images showed that at least 55 Rohingya villages partially destroyed by arson since Aug 25, 2017 have subsequently been bulldozed.

“HRW’s Asia director Brad Adams was quoted in a statement as saying: ‘Bulldozing these areas threatens to erase both the memory and the legal claims of the Rohingya who lived there.’”



North America


U.S. court says Trump travel ban unlawfully discriminates against Muslims

FEBRUARY 15, 2018

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Donald Trump’s travel ban targeting people from six Muslim-majority countries violates the U.S. Constitution by discriminating on the basis of religion, a federal appeals court ruled on Thursday in another legal setback for the policy.

The Richmond, Virginia-based 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, on a 9-4 vote, became the second federal appeals court to rule against the ban, finding that the Republican president’s own words demonstrated that bias against Muslims was the basis of the policy.

The U.S. Supreme Court has allowed the ban, put in place by Trump by presidential proclamation in September, to go into effect while litigation challenging it continues.

The 4th Circuit ruling went further than the earlier decision by the San Francisco-based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which found the ban violated federal immigration law but did not address whether it also violated the Constitution. The Supreme Court already has said it will consider both issues in deciding the legality of the ban in the coming months.

The justices are due in April to hear arguments over the ban and issue a ruling by the end of June.

“Examining official statements from President Trump and other executive branch officials, along with the proclamation itself, we conclude that the proclamation is unconstitutionally tainted with animus toward Islam,” 4th Circuit Chief Judge Roger Gregory wrote in the ruling.

The travel ban challengers “offer undisputed evidence of such bias: the words of the President,” Gregory wrote, noting Trump’s “disparaging comments and tweets regarding Muslims.”

As a candidate, Trump promised “a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States.” The court also took note of the fact that Trump in November shared on Twitter anti-Muslim videos posted by a far-right British political figure.

Trump’s policy, the third version of the ban that he has issued since taking office in January 2017, blocks entry into the United States of most people from Chad, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria and Yemen. Trump has said the policy is needed to protect the United States from terrorism by Islamic militants.

U.S. Justice Department spokeswoman Kerri Kupec said the 4th Circuit ruling “does not alter the status quo, and we look forward to ultimate resolution of these issues by the Supreme Court.”

“Nothing is more important to the President and the Attorney General (Jeff Sessions) than the safety and security of all Americans,” Kupec added. “The President’s lawful order remains critical to accomplishing that goal.”

In the main dissenting opinion, Judge Paul Niemeyer said the courts should be deferential to the president on national security matters. Niemeyer criticized the court’s majority, saying his colleagues applied “a novel legal rule that provides for the use of campaign-trail statements to recast later official acts of the president.”

Thursday’s ruling upheld a Maryland-based district court judge’s decision in a case brought by the American Civil Liberties Union, which represents several advocacy groups including the International Refugee Assistance Project.

“President Trump’s third illegal attempt to denigrate and discriminate against Muslims through an immigration ban has failed in court yet again. It’s no surprise,” ACLU lawyer Cecillia Wang said.



Car torching revived fears in Quebec City's Muslim community, mosque leader tells court

Feb 24, 2018

The torching in August of a car belonging to the leader of a Quebec City mosque reinforced the Muslim community's fears about their safety following a deadly shooting there last year, a court heard earlier this week.

Mohamed Labidi, president of Quebec City's Islamic Cultural Centre, testified Friday at a sentencing hearing for one of the men charged with deliberately setting his car ablaze.

In January 2017, Labidi's mosque was the scene of a shooting, where six men were killed and five others seriously injured.  

Just seven months after the shooting, Labidi's car was set on fire in his driveway at home.  

"It reignited fear in the community," Labidi told the court. He added that it had a ripple effect, "because now they were targeting individuals, people."

Two men have been charged in connection with the fire. One of them, 34-year-old Mathieu Bilodeau, pleaded guilty earlier this month to setting that fire, as well as three others, in the Sainte-Foy neighborhood of Quebec City.

The other man, Marc Gagnon, is due to stand trial in May.

Labidi was injured trying to put out the fire

During Bilodeau's sentencing hearing on Friday, Labidi told the court that he injured himself while trying to put out the fire, forcing him to take two weeks off work.

The Labidi family changed the locks on their home in the weeks following the incident. He also said his wife cancelled a trip abroad in order to stay home with their daughters.

When Bilodeau and Gagnon were arrested in September, about a month after the fire, police described the crime as being of "a heinous nature."

But in her arguments to the court, Bilodeau's lawyer — Marie-Pier Bertrand — disagreed with that characterization.

Bertrand said her client is mentally disabled, and was simply acting on a dare by Gagnon.

She played extracts from her client's police interrogation. Officers spent more than 35 minutes explaining to him the difference between arson and an accidental fire.

Full report at:





Islamic universities have role in fighting extremism

Wagdy Sawahel

23 February 2018

In January Uzbekistan unveiled a new university, Islamic Academy of Uzbekistan, devoted to Islamic studies which, according to the Uzbek government’s religious affairs committee, will focus on scholarly knowledge about Islam and supporting an atmosphere of religious tolerance in Uzbek society and beyond in Central Asia.

It will also provide the highest and secondary special religious education institutions of the country with highly qualified scientific and pedagogical staff.

The new academy offers two-year undergraduate degrees and three-year doctoral courses for Uzbek citizens in different disciplines, including Koranic studies, Islamic law, study of the hadiths – the words and actions of the Prophet Muhammad – and the interpretation of Islamic texts, and has so far enrolled 16 undergraduates for its 2018-19 academic year.

The development is seen as an important step in combating the rise of extremism and the influence of radical militants.

Various Islamic universities have been established in Central Asian countries, with new institutions opening sporadically over the past five decades in Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan.

In recent years most of the countries in the region have seen an increase in the numbers of their citizens becoming foreign fighters for Islamic State, or Daesh as it is known in Arabic, and experts agree that Islamic universities could have an important role to play in combating the spread of extremist ideology.

The five Central Asian states – Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan – provide the largest proportion of foreign fighter recruits (8,717) for Islamic State (or ISIS), followed by the Middle East (7,054) and Western Europe (5,718), according to an October 2017 report entitled Beyond the Caliphate: Foreign fighters and the threat of returnees, published by the Soufan Center, which provides global security insights.

Sufian Zhemukhov, a senior research associate at the George Washington University in the United States, told University World News: "It is mainly the poor knowledge of Islam in Central Asia and other parts of post-Soviet Eurasia that makes young people look for alternative learning sources and fall into the trap of Jihadist propaganda."

Islamic universities have been opened sporadically over the past five decades in some Central Asian countries along with several departments of theology in secular universities to impose the state-developed version of Islam and Islamic education.

In Uzbekistan they include the Tashkent Islamic Institute of Imam Al-Bukhari (1971), and Tashkent Islamic University, founded in 1999 as the first specifically Islamic university in Central Asia that focuses on religious studies as well as secular subjects, including natural sciences and economics.

National level training centres for theological education in other Central Asian states include Kyrgyzstan Islamic University in Bishkek (1971), Kazakh-Egyptian Islamic University Nur in Almaty, Kazakhstan (2003), and Tajik Islamic University in Tajikistan (2015).

A step in the right direction

"Investing in formal Islamic educational institutions is a step in the right direction,” says Dilshod Achilov, assistant professor of political science at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, US.

“The lack of Islamic educational institutions through which citizens pursue learning as well as seeking formal [advanced] degrees has been one of the factors that have contributed to the increase of underground, and often radical, groups preaching Islam. In other words, the void has often been filled by various unverifiable actors – groups or networks – attempting to teach Islam to those who are genuinely seeking Islamic knowledge," according to Achilov, who is the lead author of a report entitled Islamic Revival, Education and Radicalism in Central Asia.

Achilov sees contextualised Islamic education as an ‘antidote’ to Islamic extremism. "The universities should provide a learning environment in which students openly debate and engage issues from critical perspectives, regardless of how harsh or controversial the topics are," Achilov emphasised.

A broader academic perspective of Islam “may help deter the vulnerable youth from out-of-context framed radical-extremist narratives propagated by various radical groups operating inside and outside Central Asia”, he added.

"Religious education at local universities is important for resisting Islamic radicalisation," said Zhemukhov, co-author in 2017 of the book Mass Religious Ritual and Intergroup Tolerance: The Muslim pilgrims' paradox.

"Universities in Central Asia should become intellectual centres that provide learning opportunities for ambitious young Muslims who otherwise are left with the only option of studying abroad, in the Middle East, and, upon return back home, often tend to clash with the older Muslim leaders because of the different understanding of Islam," Zhemukhov added.

Guli Yuldasheva, a former professor of politics and international relations who is a member of the Expert Council of the Central Eurasia Analytical Project, Tashkent, Uzbekistan, told University World News: "Establishing Islamic universities in Central Asia is important, as they should prepare well-trained theologians and provide knowledge of true Islamic beliefs and values to oppose the influence of various radical distortions of Islam."

"The network of Islamic institutions, including universities, academies with postgraduate courses, specialised high schools and research centres of Islamic studies, could be quite helpful to prepare local clerics and fight against the radical propaganda," Yuldasheva said.

Nargis Kassenova, director of the Central Asian Studies Center at KIMEP University, Kazakhstan, told University World News: "It seems radicalisation of Central Asians happens often when they go outside the region; however, that means that the values of tolerance and respect for human life had not been well inbred in them while they were home, which is not surprising given the nature of the political systems in the region.”



Pakistani peacekeepers made ‘significant contribution’ to Liberia peace process: UN

February 25, 2018

UNITED NATIONS: With the United Nations set to close its “successful” peacekeeping mission in Liberia by the end of next month, the remaining unit of the Pakistani contingent — a well-equipped hospital — is now winding up its operations after serving the people of the West African country for some 15 years.

The United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) was deployed in 2003 to monitor a ceasefire agreement in Liberia following the conclusion of a brutal civil war. At its peak, it consisted of up to 15,000 United Nations military personnel from and 1,115 police officers, along with a civilian component, from at least 10 troop-contributing countries.

Over the years, Pakistan, as UNMIL’s backbone, provided infantry battalions, a signal company, engineering companies, military observers, police officers as well as the Level-II hospital. From 2005 to 2013, Pakistan contributed more than 2,000 peacekeepers to UNMIL per annum, with a high of 3,400 in 2007 and 2008. The bulk of the Pakistani troops returned home in 2015, with the medical unit remaining behind.

“We really have to acknowledge the significant contribution made by Pakistan to the peace process in Liberia,” Waldemar Vrey, UNMIL’s deputy special representative, said in an interview, during which he commended the professionalism and sense of dedication of the Pakistani personnel operating in difficult conditions.

“They have been with us from the beginning of the mission, particularly in the first difficult days of the mission,” he said, noting that more than 20,000 Pakistani peacekeepers, both military and police, have served in Liberia since 2003.

“Not only that, I also want to acknowledge that several of the force commanders who served in Liberia were from Pakistan, and we have to acknowledge the good leadership that has been displayed by the Pakistani generals over this period of time,” the mission’s deputy chief said.

For a long period of time at least up to 3,000 Pakistani troops were serving in Liberia per year. “And we have to acknowledge the service and sacrifice of the Pakistani peacekeepers and remember that 23 of them lost their lives serving under the UN flag in Liberia.”

The Pakistani peacekeepers, Vrey said, played a “crucial role” in the implementation of the cease-fire agreement, as also in disarming of more than 100,000 former combatants during the first years of the mission. “And since the disarmament process, I can tell you that up to this day we have not had a significant arms-in-circulation challenge in Liberia: a very good factor that makes peace and security durable and makes it easier for us to depart as having achieved our Security Council-mandated instructions.” The deputy chief of the mission said, “We had peacekeepers on the ground from Pakistan from the beginning and we have them right up to the end in the form of the Pakistani Military Hospital that is still with us on the ground, and they will be the last military unit, leaving us in Liberia.

“They have been providing a very professional service to us: expert doctors on the ground; very good equipment that Pakistan has made available to us. They helped us deal with a lot of tropical diseases, particularly malaria, and spare a thought for their contribution during the dreadful period of Ebola epidemic as well.

They supported mission staff but they also made a significant contribution to Liberians and played their part in overcoming this catastrophe that was brought about by Ebola. So, certainly, they have played a critical role in (the) success of the mission in Liberia.”

He said that the Pakistani medical unit reached out to prisons and local communities and children at schools. “This is way beyond the call of duty. We have to acknowledge that Pakistan through their medical contingent also reached out as a Member State to Liberia in helping the Liberian people with the peace that they experienced.”

Lauding the work done by Pakistani military engineers, he said they built and repaired bridges ensuring the strategic mobility that opened up the whole of the hinterland and helping outreach to all the communities.

“We also have to acknowledge that Pakistani police also deployed in Liberia and made a significant contribution to the mentoring and advisory support they provided over the years to the Liberian national police.”

Full report at:



Russia sends most advanced jets to Syria after US F-22 deployment: Reports

Feb 24, 2018

Russia has reportedly sent two of its most advanced and sophisticated fighter jets to Syria, where its air force has been backing up the national army's ground operation against terrorist groups.

The reported deployment comes after the US employed earlier this month its most advanced fighter jet, the F-22 stealth fighter, in strikes against alleged terrorist targets in Syria.

Reports say two of Russia’s Su-57 fifth-generation fighter jets had been recently spotted in the skies above Syria and then seem landing at the Hmeymim airbase in the country’s western Latakia province.

The Su-57s were escorted by Russian 4th generation Sui-30SM multi-role fighter jets before landing at the Syrian airbase, according to the reports.

The sophisticated military aircraft have stealth capabilities and are specifically designed for attacking roles. They also enjoy an avionics system that autonomously makes battlefield calculations to assist the pilot.

Russian authorities have yet to confirm the Su-57s’ deployment to Syria, but Vladimir Gutenov, chairman of the Military Industry Committee in the Russian parliament told Sputnik news agency that he "whole-heartedly welcomed" the reports.

The presence of the Su-57s will doubtlessly send a political message, serving as a deterrent "for aircraft from neighboring states which periodically fly into" Syrian airspace uninvited, according to Gutenov.

The Russian lawmaker added that the stealth SU-57 fighter jet planes “need to be tested in combat conditions, in conditions of [enemy] resistance.”

The Russian Defense Ministry had said the jets were slated to be introduced to its forces this year, and a total of 12 aircraft were initially ordered by the Moscow government.

Russia has been lending aerial support to Syria upon a request by Damascus since September 2015.

Full report at:





How ‘India’s Bin Laden’ Brought SIMI Close To Indian Mujahideen

Feb 25, 2018

Abdul Subhan Qureshi alias Kalim alias Tauqeer, who was arrested last month in New Delhi for his alleged involvement in the 2008 blasts in Gujarat and the national capital, tried to bridge the gap between the banned Indian Mujahideen and Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI). Known as India’s Bin Laden, he wanted to revive the IMnetwork in the country.

He would meet prominent IM members at SIMI’s head office in Kurla and conspire to carry out attacks. Qureshi, a resident of Highland apartment from Nayanagar area of Mira Road in Mumbai, was an active SIMI member since 1998 — when radicalisation of Muslim youth reached its pinnacle.

He studied computer science at Bharatiya Vidyapeeth at Kharghar (in 1990) and Wilson College at Marine Lines. He worked with various software firms in and around Mumbai, including at SEEPZ in Andheri.

The first signs of his radical tilt were witnessed when he resigned from a software firm in 1999. His resignation stated that he had quit to ‘to pursue religious activities’. Qureshi, police sources said, enrolled himself into SIMI and used to give public speeches at Mira Road. SIMI, which called for ‘liberation of India through Islam’, was first banned in 2001.

His activities caught the attention of senior SIMI leaders who then used to visit him on a regular basis. Qureshi rose through the ranks and is believed to have handled SIMI’s technical aspects owing to his education and work experience, according to the an officer from Maharashtra anti-terrorism squad. Such was Qureshi’s hold in the organisation that, police sources said, Safdar Nagori — the chief of SIMI’s radical wing — used to visit him in his house and at times stay there. Police officials believe that Qureshi played a vital role in organising SIMI meetings before the 7/11 serial train blasts in Mumbai.

His name features prominently in almost all interrogation reports of SIMI leaders, who were arrested from Madhya Pradesh. Qureshi attended all meetings and training camps organised by SIMI in various parts of the country, including the ones at Choral in Madhya Pradesh, Waghamon near Alwaye in Kerala and at Halol near Vadodara.

Qureshi thus became a key SIMI operative. This is one of the reasons that he was roped in by IM founders Amir Raza, Riyaz Ismail Shahbandri alias Riyaz Bhatkal and Sadiq Israr Shaikh. Riyaz studied at Veermata Jijabai Technological Institute in Mumbai.

Hyderabad-born Salim Mujahid Islahi first recruited Bhatkal and others to carry out blasts in India. Islahi had contacts with brothers Asif Raza Khan and Amir Raza Khan, who controls IMfrom Pakistan.

Qureshi would meet Riyaz and Sheikh at SIMI’s Mumbai head office in Kurla and they became the key planners for IM. Qureshi, police sources said, would plan the blasts and leave the city making it tough for them to nab him.



Amarinder's 'terror' list to Trudeau: Details of 5 most wanted operatives

Feb 24, 2018

CHANDIGARH: The list that Punjab chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh handed over to Canadian PM Justin Trudeau on February 21 has minute details of the nine men who are seen as the most active handlers of alleged Khalistani terrorists in Punjab.

Most of them are linked to International Sikh Youth Federation (ISYF) and Khalistan Tiger Force. Details in the list include when they last visited India, how they funded firearms for terror modules and how they received funds from terror groups in Pakistan.

Of the nine names, five have been booked for various crimes including terror activities. They are Gurjeet Singh Cheema, Gurpreet Singh, Hardeep Singh Nijjar, Gurjinder Singh Pannu and Malkeet Singh alias Fauji.

TOI is not making the remaining four names public as the men are still being investigated and are yet to be booked for serious offences. The process of issuing red corner notices against the accused is also under process.

Trudeau’s trip, which was supposed to be a public relations exercise, turned into a political minefield after senior ministers of both the Centre and the Punjab government initially avoided meeting him to register their protest over the Canadian government’s alleged proximity to some so-called Khalistani sympathisers. Interestingly, ISYF figured even in the joint statement that Trudeau and Modi released after meeting on Friday.

The list given to Trudeau includes details of the Canada-based handlers not only arming the modules but also funding them. For instance, Cheema transferring Rs 75,000 Sukhmanpreet Singh in July 2016 and May 2017 to help set up a module. He also helped module members get ‘militant hardware’ from Pakistan through his associate there, Lakhbir Singh Rode. Rode is the nephew of slain terrorist Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale and brother of former Akal Takht jathedar Jasbir Singh Rode.

Gurpreset Singh, on the other hand, arranged more than Rs 1 lakh for his module between June 2016 and February, 2017. Nijjer sourced Rs 10 lakh to Jagtar Tara in September 2012 to carry out terror activities in India. Tara is accused in the August 1995 assassination of former Punjab chief minister Beant Singh and is presently in Burail jail in Chandigarh.

Cheema, Gurpreet Singh and Pannu have been identified as operatives of ISYF. An FIR was registered against them on May 21, 2017 in Amritsar. They have been booked under Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) and the Arms Act.

Nijjar is accused of raising a 5-member Khalistan Tiger Force (KTF) module in 2014 and four criminal cases have been registered against him. In 2009, he was accused of murdering Rulda Singh, the then head of the Rashtriya Sikh Sangat, an affiliate of RSS. Fauji is a Babbar Khalsa International (BKI) operative and was booked under UAPA and Arms Act on June 5, 2017.

One of the four men, whose identity has not been revealed by TOI, is a frequent visitor to Pakistan and maintains contact with chief of the Khalistan Zindabad Force. Another accused was one of the key speakers at an event outside Canadian parliament on June 10 last year where the Khalistan flag was hoisted.

Details of the infamous 5:

Gurjeet Singh Cheema

- Canadian national based in Brampton and Toronto

- International Sikh Youth Federation (ISYF) operative

- Originally from Jogi Cheema village, Gurdaspur

- Last visited Punjab in March-April, 2017, to create ISYF module for terrorist activities

- Visited Gwalior in March 2017 to source weapons

- Transferred funds to the module in July 2016, May 2017

- Arranged consignment of militants' hardware through Pakistani terrorists

Gurpreet Singh

- Based in Brampton city, Canada

- ISYF operative

- Has roots in two villages in Moga - Lande and Hakam Ka Agwar

- Visited India in March 2016 to activate militant module

- In November 2016, sourced two pistols with help from Pakistan-based Harmeet PhD for ISYF members

- Provided funds for buying pistols from Gwalior in April 2017

- Transferred funds to militant operatives in Punjab in 2016 and 2017

Hardeep Singh Nijjar

- Based in Surrey, Canada

- Khalistan Tiger Force (KTF) operative

- Originally from Bhar Singhpur village of Phillaur, Jalandhar

- Trained 4 Sikh youths in AK-47 and sniper firing in Mission Hills near British Columbia in December 2015 for terrorist activities in Punjab

- One of these 4 youths - Mandeep Singh Dhaliwal- sent to Punjab for targeted killings was arrested in May 2016

Gurjinder Singh Pannu

- Settled in Hamilton port city, Canada

- ISYF operative

- Originally from Chaudhari Wala village in Tarn Taran

- Funded purchase of weapons between June 2016 and February 2017 to ISYF members Gurpreet Peet and others, arrested by Punjab police

Malkeet Singh alias Fauji

- Settled in Surrey, Canada

- Babbar Khalsa International (BKI) operative

- Originally from Talwandi Nahar village, Amritsar- Sourced weapons from Uttar Pradesh in 2014 for a militant module

Full report at:



J&K: Pakistani troops fire mortar shells at border villages in Rajouri district

Feb 24, 2018

JAMMU: Pakistani troops on Saturday fired mortar shells targeting villages along the Line of Control (LoC) in Jammu and Kashmir's Rajouri district, police said.

"Pakistani troops fired mortar shells and small arms from across the border in the Lam area of the Nowshera sector around 6.15 pm," a police official said.

He said Indian troops retaliated and the exchange of fire continued for 15 minutes.

There was no casualty reported in the Pakistani firing, the official said.



Muslims top complainants to minority commission

25th February 2018

NEW DELHI: The National Commission for Minorities (NCM) received a total of 1,647 complaints in 2016-2017. Law and order issues and complaints from Muslims top the list.The complaints range over a variety of issues, including discrimination in educational institutes to not being allowed to exercise religious rights.

More than 74 per cent of the total number of complaints—1,231—came from Uttar Pradesh, according to NCM’s 2016-2017 annual report that is likely to be placed before Parliament soon.While Muslims and Jains faced the most number of problems in Uttar Pradesh, Christians faced maximum discrimination in Tamil Nadu. The maximum number of complaints from Sikhs and Buddhists were received from Delhi. Three complaints were received from the Parsi community, all from Maharashtra.

The report, a copy of which is with The Sunday Standard, cites some cases of discrimination against minorities that were effectively resolved.For instance, the NCM says it gave relief to a minority institution in Uttar Pradesh’s Meerut, which had not received a scholarship of over `28 lakh from the state government for academic sessions of 2009-2010 and 2010-2011.

In this case, the NCM—in an order passed on April 11, 2016—directed the state government to disburse the amount to the Translam Group of institutions in three months.The NCM, headed by Syed Ghayorul Hassan Rizvi, also dealt with a harassment complaint filed by one Tajinder Singh, who said he was heckled for being from a minority community by being transferred 17 times in 22 years of service at government banks.

The annual report also states that it has rejected the minority status demand by Vedic Brahmins, Sindhis and Codavas, saying it will lead to “fragmentation” of the Hindu community. The request for minority status was made by the World Brahman Organisation and Purbouttar Bahubhashiya Brahmin Mahasabha.

Full report at:



‘JeM pushing in terrorists from Pakistan’s FATA’

by Arun Sharma

February 25, 2018

The Jaish-e-Mohammed has started pushing terrorists into Jammu and Kashmir from Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) of Pakistan, sources said. All the three terrorists who were killed by security forces during the attack on Sunjwan military station earlier this month were operating in FATA and had been pushed into the Valley a few months ago.

The three terrorists have been identified as Noman of Bannu in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Adeel of Bhawalpur and Rashid of Lahore. Their identity was ascertained on the basis of information disclosed by arrested JeM terrorist Nasir Khan, a close associate of JeM commander Usman alias Billa alias Badshah, who along with two other Pakistani terrorists was killed in an encounter with security forces in Pakherpora area of Budgam district on November 30 last year.

DGP S P Vaid said it has been observed that most of the suicide attackers inducted by JeM are a little older than 25-30 years. “Some of them have been battle hardened and are operating in FATA areas of Pakistan,’’ he said, adding that “We do not have their exact numbers, but we are tracking them and soon, we will track them down’’.

Vaid said the security situation was fast returning to normalcy, and “whatever suicide attackers are outside, we are looking for them and we will neutralize them very soon”.

Full report at:



J-K: Panic in Uri amid heaviest shelling in 15 years, Pakistan tells LoC villagers to flee

February 25, 2018

AMIDST the most intense cross-border shelling in the Uri sector in Kashmir since 2003, on now for nearly a week, fresh panic was set off on Saturday following announcements from the Pakistan side asking Uri villagers to vacate their houses.

Evacuation has been on in the area along the Line of Control since Thursday, and by Saturday evening, around a thousand villagers had moved to Uri town as the administration moved in to calm nervous villagers. An alert was sounded for two power projects operating in the region, asking officials to take necessary precautions.

As Indian troops “retaliated with force” to the Pakistani shelling, for the first time since the 2013 ceasefire, artillery fire was seen in the Uri sector. There have been regular exchanges of fire and mortar between the two sides here since Monday, with the Line of Control (LoC) falling silent in the Jammu region for the past few days.

Shelling began from the Pakistan side around 11.30 am on Saturday, hitting the three border villages of Churanda, Silikote and Tilawari in Uri, and leaving several houses damaged. Silikote villagers said that soon after, there was an announcement over a loudspeaker by suspected Pakistani soldiers asking them to vacate their houses.

“They asked us to vacate our houses by 12.30 pm,” said a villager. “This created panic and we started moving out of the villages.”

Deputy Commissioner, Baramulla, Nasir Naqash confirmed hearing about the announcements from the Pakistan side. “This could be a military strategy. This could be a strategy to create fear,” he told The Sunday Express.

Official sources told The Sunday Express that Pakistan has been attempting to enlarge the area of its ceasefire violations on the LoC, which was earlier restricted to south of the Pir Panjal range. But as the Indian Army has adopted a proactive stance south of the range, putting Pakistani soldiers under pressure, Pakistan is taking action in areas such as Uri.

Sources said that the low volume of snowfall received this summer has also meant that Pakistan is hoping to start the infiltration of terrorists earlier than usual this year. Uri is one of the major infiltration routes for militants into Kashmir. The brigade headquarters at Uri was the site of the terror attack that killed 19 soldiers in 2016.

As per official estimates, more than 200 militants are waiting on the LoC north of Pir Panjal, ready to infiltrate into Kashmir. The Army has been targeting Pakistani launch pads and posts along the LoC used to push militants across.

The government used ambulances as well as deployed private vehicles to evacuate the villagers in the Uri sector on Saturday. Naqash said the villagers had “voluntarily” shifted out to the accommodation provided by the government in a higher secondary school at Uri town.

“The situation is tense,” said Sub-Divisional Magistrate Dr Sagar D. “Around 7,000-8,000 people are affected. We have evacuated around a thousand people.”

Full report at:



Aligarh Muslim University students: No RSS man with Kovind

February 25, 2018


THE STUDENTS’ union of Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) has threatened the university authorities of serious consequences if anyone with “RSS ideology” attend its March 7 convocation ceremony, where President Ram Nath Kovind is the chief guest.

In a letter to AMU Vice-Chancellor Tariq Mansoor, union secretary Mohammad Fahad has referred to a statement by Kovind in 2010, when he was a BJP leader. Addressing media, Kovind had sought that the Justice Ranganath Misra Commission, which had recommended inclusion of Muslim and Christian converts among Scheduled Castes, be “scrapped”. Asked how Sikh Dalits could enjoy the quota privilege in the same category, Kovind had said: “Islam and Christianity are alien to the nation.”

In a letter, Fahad has said: “The statement made by Ram Nath Kovind against minorities is still in the mind of AMU students. Despite this, the student union respects the post of the President and welcomes him to the convocation ceremony. We also remind him that he is no more a member of RSS or BJP, but President to 1.25 crore people… He should maintain dignity of the post.”

“Also, we warn the AMU administration that if it invites any RSS man along with the President, it should be ready to face consequences. This university will not tolerate any RSS man, (those who demolished) Babri Masjid or Gandhi’s killers on its premises,” he added.

Student union president Maskoor Ahmad Usmani said they will not let any politician enter AMU. “In 2010, Kovindji gave a statement saying that Muslims and Christians are aliens in this country. It had hurt our feelings. He was a political person then, but now he is the President and the visitor of the university. We welcome him. But we would not let any other political person enter the university… no matter from which political party,” he added.

M Shafey Kidwai, AMU member in-charge of public relation said only the President has been invited for the convocation. “In a letter to the V-C, the union secretary has said that no one from the RSS of BJP should be invited, otherwise, they would stage protest. But we have only invited the President… this is above any political activity… After a gap of 32 years, a President is coming here, it a big moment for us,” he said.

Full report at:





Rome's Colosseum Turned Red to Protest Pakistan Blasphemy Law

FEBRUARY 25, 2018

Hundreds gathered on a rainy night outside the Roman amphitheatre that is a symbol of the martyrdom of early Christians to hear the husband and daughter of Asia Bibi.

The Catholic woman has been living on death row in Pakistan since 2010, when she was condemned for allegedly making derogatory remarks about Islam after neighbors objected to her drinking water from their glass because she was not Muslim.

Human rights groups such as Amnesty International say the blasphemy law is increasingly exploited by religious extremists as well as ordinary Pakistanis to settle personal scores.

“The aim of the blasphemy laws is crush people who believe differently,” Archbishop Nunzio Galantino, secretary-general of the Italian bishops conference, told the gathering.

The law does not define blasphemy and evidence might not be reproduced in court for fear of committing a fresh offense. There are no penalties for false accusations.

Asia Bibi’s case drew international attention after the murder of two politicians who tried to intervene on her behalf.

At the Rome gathering, her husband Ashiq Masih said his wife was innocent of blasphemy. “This is just hate against Christians, who are considered impure,” he said.

The husband and daughter, who broke down in tears as she addressed the group, were earlier received by Pope Francis, who told her: “I think often of your mother and I pray for her”.

European Parliament President Antonio Tajani, who has been tipped as a possible Italian prime minister after next week’s election, said that persecution of Christians was “a genocide”.

“A message must be sent from this place. It is the duty of Europe to defend these values (of religious liberty) wherever on earth they are trampled on,” Tajani said.

Rebecca Bitrus, a Nigerian Christian woman who was held for two years after she was abducted by Boko Haram Islamist militants, told of how she was repeatedly beaten and raped.

During the event, organised by the Catholic group “Aid to the Church in Need,” there were live link-ups with Aleppo, Syria and Mosul, Iraq, both of whose minority Christian populations have been hit hard by wars.



Pakistan determined to defeat menace of terrorism: NSA Janjua

February 25, 2018

ISLAMABAD: National Security Adviser (NSA) Lt General (r) Nasser Khan Janjua has reiterated that Pakistan is determined to defeat the menace of terrorism for a bright future.

He said this while talking to Romanian Ambassador Nicolaie Goia, who called on him in Islamabad on Friday.

While discussing the prospects of regional connectivity, the NSA told the ambassador that Pakistan was an exceedingly important country not only for the region but for the world at large. “Connectivity potential of Pakistan is unique and immense and it is a country of future from which whole of the world will benefit.”

“Participation of Romania in this connectivity will also bring Pakistan and Romania closer to each other,” he added.

The NSA briefed the ambassador on regional security situation with particular reference to Afghanistan and reiterated that Pakistan and its people were determined to defeat the menace of terrorism to embrace a brighter future.

NSA Janjua warmly received the guest and said that Romania is a great country with rich history. “Pakistan attaches great importance to its relations with Romania and considers it as an important member of the European Union,” he added.

Discussing the regional security environment, the envoy applauded Pakistan’s efforts for regional peace and stability. “We understand that Pakistan is caught in a complex security situation and is facing multidimensional challenges,” he commented.

Besides promotion of bilateral relations, matters pertaining to the regional security situation and regional connectivity also came under discussion. The ambassador traced the history of Pakistan Romania relations and said that ever since the establishment of diplomatic relations in 1964, both the nations have come close to each other.

“Romania considers Pakistan as a credible and responsible country and supports it at every international forum, including GSP Plus status which has increased Pakistan’s exports to the EU by more than 30 per cent,” he said.

Full report at:



FC kills one alleged terrorist, arrests 11 others in Balochistan

February 25, 2018

QUETTA: Under the ongoing Operation Raddul Fassad, the FC personnel conducted intelligence-based operations (IBOs) in different areas of Balochistan, Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) said in a press release on Saturday.

The operation was carried out in the areas of Quetta, Sherazai, Sibbi and Kahan. The press release said that at least one alleged terrorist was killed, while 11 suspects were arrested during the raids.

The security forces also recovered RPG rockets, sub-machine guns, mines and explosive material from the suspected terrorists.



IB tasked with selecting PML-N candidates for polls: Imran

Amir Wasim

February 25, 2018

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) chairman Imran Khan has alleged that the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) has assigned the task of selecting its candidates for the upcoming general elections to the Intelligence Bureau (IB), through its “hand-picked” director general Aftab Sultan.

Speaking at a news conference at his Banigala residence on Saturday, the PTI chief accused former prime minister Nawaz Sharif and his brother Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif of using bureaucrats in the Centre and the province as their “front men”, and to protect their alleged corruption.

“It is utterly shameful how the bureaucracy has chosen to protest against accountability,” Mr Khan said, referring to a protest by some in Punjab’s bureaucracy over the recent arrest of Ahad Cheema, former director general of the Lahore Development Authority (LDA), in a housing scheme scam.

The arrest of Mr Cheema, a grade 20 officer of the Public Administration Service, by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) had reportedly drawn sharp protest from certain quarters in the provincial bureaucracy and many senior PML-N leaders and in the Punjab Assembly. The treasury benches condemned NAB’s action whereas the opposition parties had urged the bureaucracy to distance itself from the ongoing tussle between the PML-N and the state institutions.

At a news conference in Islamabad on Friday, Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) leader Asif Zardari had claimed that a rebellion was afoot in the Punjab’s bureaucracy after the arrest of Mr Cheema.

Mr Khan alleged that while the elder Sharif was using the bureaucracy for corruption at the Centre, his younger brother was doing that at the provincial level. There was a nexus between the protesting bureaucrats and the Sharif family as the latter was now petrified of what Ahad Cheema might say to save himself in NAB custody, Mr Khan said.

“These people who are sitting on top, all their dirty work is done by the bureaucrats at the bottom,” he stated, adding that the apex court had rightly stated that all institutions were being controlled.

The PTI chief regretted that banners in support of Ahad Cheema had been put up on the streets in Lahore, making it seem like he was a leader like Nelson Mandela. He alleged that Mr Cheema was Shahbaz Sharif’s front man and was looking after projects worth billions of rupees. “There are corruption cases worth Rs14bn against Ahad Cheema in just one project,” he said, adding that “bureaucracy’s godfather is Prime Minister’s Principal Secretary Fawad Hassan Fawad”.

Mr Khan said the IB head Aftab Sultan was also a member of the Sharifs’ “gang”, which was why he had been given an extension of service for the third time. He alleged that the IB DG had been told by the PML-N leadership to “minutely observe” which PML-N candidate could win their constituencies.

The PTI chief said the PML-N had ruined all institutions by choosing their own people to head them. He mentioned a report compiled by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) which stated that leaders of third world countries like Pakistan earned kickbacks through mega projects. He asked NAB to take notice of the corruption in Metro Bus Projects in Lahore, Multan and Islamabad.

In nine years, he said, Shahbaz Sharif had spent Rs9 trillion and now he was not ready to present himself for accountability. “The nation cannot be fooled anymore, playing victim card and mantra of Mujhe Kyun Nikala will soon be in the past,” he said.

Replying to a question, Mr Khan claimed that he had evidence, including details of bank accounts, to prove the corruption of Ahad Cheema, and added that they would hand those over to NAB.

Defending the decision of his party-led Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government to provide massive funds to Darul Uloom Haqqania of Maulana Samiul Haq, Mr Khan said the money had been provided to bring 2.5 million poor students in religious seminaries to the mainstream.

He said those children had been put into the seminaries by the parents because they could not afford to pay their fees in other educational institutions.

Mr Khan criticised those who were objecting to the KP government’s decision to provide a grant to Darul Uloom Haqqania, saying that those studying at the seminaries could not be ignored as they were also the children of the nation. Mr Khan, once again, vowed to bring people out on the streets to show solidarity with courts and NAB.

Separately, PTI information secretary Fawad Chaudhry, in a statement, “condemned” the reports of placing the NAB chairman under a board through an ordinance. He said the PTI would resist every attempt to amend NAB laws to facilitate Ahad Cheema, the Sharifs and other “criminals”.

He said the PTI had geared itself up for the next general elections and its parliamentary board will soon start working to select candidates.

Full report at:



Pakistan can nudge Haqqanis over border: US

FEBRUARY 25, 2018

ISLAMABAD/WASHINGTON: Pakistan need not kill or capture militants such as members of the Haqqani network but could push them across the border instead, a senior US official said on Friday.

“Evicting the militants would put them at risk of attack from Afghan and US forces trying to keep Afghanistan from becoming a launching pad for strikes on the West more than 16 years after the Sept 11, 2001, attacks on New York and Washington.”

The United States had accused Pakistan of harbouring terrorist safe havens — a claim Islamabad strongly denies.

On January 4, Washington said it would suspend some security aid to Islamabad to get it to end “support” for the Afghan Taliban and the allied Haqqani network whose attacks in Afghanistan have killed US, Afghan and other forces.

The senior US official said in an interview that since the aid suspension – which US officials later said could affect as much as about $2 billion – the United States has not seen any sustained Pakistani effort against the militants.

The US official dismissed suggestions that pressure from Washington may backfire and suggested that Pakistan might start by taking smaller, tactical steps, including forcing such groups into Afghanistan before the spring fighting season begins.

“I don’t think Pakistan is feeling its oats. I think it is feeling pressure,” said the US official, who spoke on condition of anonymity. “We have their attention.”

The official said the United States did not have a specific timeline to assess Pakistani cooperation, and would be looking to see if Islamabad would take “tactical steps such as actions against… (the) Haqqanis, pushing them across the border”.

“They don’t have to arrest them or kill them… just get them into Afghanistan, disrupt some of the infrastructure that exists, make it harder for them,” the official added. “We are about two months away from the fighting season, so now is the time to do some of this.”.

Full report at:



Unchecked terror threat in Afghanistan as Afghan forces lack capacity: DG ISPR

February 25, 2018

Director General Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR) Major General Asif Ghafoor says Pakistan's security relations with Saudi Arabia and the UAE are extremely important for the region, reported Radio Pakistan.

In an interview with Arab News, he said Pakistan, Saudi Arab and the UAE have a history of wonderful cooperation and this is increasing with every passing day.

The DG ISPR said the development work in conflict areas cleared by Pakistani forces has been assisted phenomenally by Saudi Arabia and the UAE, especially in the social welfare field.

About relations with Afghanistan , Major General Asif Ghafoor said Pakistan has fought a war against terrorists for fifteen years and areas on our side, which were under the influence of terrorists, have been cleared.

Full report at:



FC Balochistan kills one terrorist, arrests 11 others

February 25, 2018

QUETTA:- Under the ongoing Operation Raddul Fassad, FC personnel conducted intelligence-based operations (IBOs) in different areas of Balochistan , ISPR said in a press release on Saturday. The operation was carried out in the areas of Quetta, Sherazai, Sibi and Kahan. The press release said that at least one terrorist was killed while 11 suspects were arrested during the raids. The security forces also recovered RPG rockets, sub-machine guns, mines and explosive material from the suspected terrorists.–INP



Arab World


Iraq rejects Riyadh's request to extradite over 400 Saudi 'terrorists’

Feb 25, 2018

Iraq has rejected a request from Riyadh to hand over more than 400 Saudi Arabians, whom it has imprisoned on terrorism charges.

According to the London-based newspaper Al-Araby Al-Jadeed, the Saudis were captured along with “hundreds” of other Arabs and Europeans in the fight against Daesh and al-Qaeda.

The paper cited Government spokesman Saad al-Hadithi as saying that Baghdad would allow extradition of those foreigners who have been acquitted of terror charges.

Iraq says all foreign prisoners fall under the jurisdiction of the country’s legal system. So far this year, it has sentenced a German and a Turkish woman to death over their Daesh ties.

Riyadh made the extradition request after pledging $1.5 billion during a donors’ conference held in Kuwait to Iraq’s post-Daesh reconstruction.

Daesh follows the radical ideology of Wahhabism, which dominates Saudi Arabia. It views people of other faiths and creeds as “infidels” punishable by death.

The outfit unleashed its campaign of bloodshed and destruction on Iraq and neighboring Syria in 2014, overrunning large swathes of territory. At the time, extremists from Britain, France and Germany as well as from elsewhere across Europe joined the group to establish a Takfiri caliphate.

As their exodus began, many European leaders ignored repeated warnings that hardened militants could return home one day and hit back, simply because they wanted to see the back of the Syrian government. 

On Saturday, the British newspaper The Daily Mail warned that as many as 1,000 Daesh wives were returning to Europe, as the Takfiri caliphate collapses in the Middle East.

European authorities fear the decline of Daesh and its territories is prompting women and their children to flee the Middle East and relocate in the West.

A report by EU border agency Frontex warns the threat is "evolving" and that it is hard to assess the long-term threat of widowed wives and orphaned children.   

“An estimated 30 percent of 5,000 foreign terrorist fighters who resided in Europe, and left to Syria, Iraq or Libya have come back to the Continent,” Frontex said.

According to The Daily Mail, European authorities are alarmed by a frightening trend of women having sought "more active roles" in Daesh's campaign.

Several women were involved in a plot to attack Notre Dame cathedral in Paris in September 2016, while there have been numerous high-profile cases of British women fleeing to Syria to marry Daesh terrorists.

Frontex said almost 1,000 women from Europe have joined the different Takfiri groups in the Middle East, mainly Daesh. "Furthermore several hundred minors are also believed to have been brought to, or born in, the same region," it said.

Iraqi officials have announced that the country was holding 500 wives and 1,000 children of Daesh terrorists.

Last July, Iraq famously arrested a 16-year-old German woman, only identified as Linda W., among 26 foreigners in the northern city of Mosul. They turned out to be from the town of Pulsnitz in eastern Germany.



UN unanimously demands a 30-day ceasefire across Syria to deliver humanitarian aid

February 25, 2018

The UN Security Council unanimously approved a resolution Saturday demanding a 30-day cease-fire across Syria “without delay” to deliver humanitarian aid to millions and evacuate the critically ill and wounded. UN humanitarian chief Mark Lowcock welcomed the vote saying: “Words must now quickly become action – any cessation of hostilities must be real. Attacks must stop.”

The vote was postponed for several days of lengthy and intense negotiations to try to get support from Russia, a key Syrian ally that said repeatedly an immediate cease-fire was unrealistic. Sponsors Kuwait and Sweden amended the resolution late Friday in a last-minute attempt to satisfy Russia, dropping a demand that the cease-fire take effect in 72 hours.

The effort worked, though US Ambassador Nikki Haley was sharply critical of Russia for delaying the vote. “How many mothers lost their kids to the bombing and the shellings?” due to the delay, she asked. “How many more images did we need to see of fathers holding their dead children?” Sweden, Kuwait and many other countries had been pressing for an immediate cease-fire as deaths mount in a Syrian bombing campaign in the rebel-held suburbs of Damascus known as eastern Ghouta where the death toll in a week of bombardment has risen to 500.

Earlier this week UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres urged an immediate suspension of “all war activities” in eastern Ghouta, where he said 400,000 people are living “in hell on earth.” Guterres welcomed the resolution’s adoption and stressed his expectation that it will be “immediately implemented and sustained” so aid gets to the needy and sick, U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric said. “The U.N. stands ready to do its part.” While the spotlight is on eastern Ghouta, the resolution expresses “grave distress” at the humanitarian situation there as well as throughout the country including Idlib governorate, Northern Hama governorate, Rukhban and Raqqa.

It states that urgent humanitarian assistance is now required by 13.1 million people in Syria, including 5.6 million people in 1,244 communities in “acute need.” That includes 2.9 million in hard-to-reach and besieged locations such as eastern Ghouta. The resolution calls on all parties to immediately lift the sieges of populated areas including eastern Ghouta, Yarmouk, Foua and Kefraya.

On the key issue of a cease-fire, the resolution “demands that all parties cease hostilities without delay for at least 30 consecutive days throughout Syria for a durable humanitarian pause, to enable the immediate delivery of humanitarian aid and services and medical evacuations of the critically sick and wounded … and demands that all parties engage to this end.” The resolution also demands that a cease-fire be followed immediately by access for humanitarian aid. Sweden’s UN Ambassador Olof Skoog told the council just before the vote that “the U.N. convoys and evacuation teams are ready to go.”

Kuwait’s U.N. Ambassador Mansour Al-Otaiba, the current council president, said after the resolution’s adoption that “it cannot end the human suffering in Syria immediately.” “However, it is a positive sign sent by the Security Council _ a sign that the council is united and showed solidarity to stop the humanitarian suffering and stop hostilities immediately,” he said. “Now we must implement this resolution to save the lives of Syrian people and to deliver humanitarian aid.”

Since the Syrian conflict began nearly seven years ago, the Security Council has been deeply divided, with Russia backing President Bashar Assad’s government and the US, Britain and France supporting the opposition. The result has almost always been paralysis and inaction. Those divisions were evident Saturday in the tough language from the U.S. ambassador and the reply from her Russian counterpart after the vote. “Every minute the council waited on Russia the human suffering grew,” Haley said. “Getting to a vote became a moral responsibility for everyone, but not for Russia, not for Syria, not for Iran. I have to ask why? At least 19 health facilities have been bombed since Sunday” in eastern Ghouta.

She expressed hope that Russia’s belated decision to support a cease-fire “after trying every possible way to avoid it … will be a turning point, where Russia will join us in pushing for the political settlement to this conflict.” Russia’s U.N. Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia responded saying it took so much time to reach an agreement because an immediate cessation of hostilities, which was originally called for by the sponsors, was “not feasible, … not possible.”

“What is necessary is for the demands of the Security Council to be underpinned by concrete, on-the-ground agreements,” he said. “It would be naive to think that difficult issues can be addressed overnight, momentarily. We trust that all parties with influence to bear will help to bring this about.” Another major issue in the negotiations was an exemption the Russians sought to keep up attacks against extremist groups. The resolution allows attacks directed at extremists from the Islamic State group and all al-Qaida affiliates including the Nusra Front to continue. The Syrian government and its Russian allies say they are pursuing Islamic extremists they call “terrorists” _ and U.S.-backed forces are also going after IS and al-Qaida militants.

Full report at:



Russia joins UNSC to demand Syria ceasefire as over 500 killed in week

February 25, 2018

UNITED NATIONS -  With Russia’s backing, the UN Security Council on Saturday unanimously demanded a 30-day ceasefire in Syria to allow for humanitarian aid deliveries and medical evacuations.

The resolution demanding the ceasefire “without delay” was adopted as Syrian government forces pounded the rebel-held enclave of Eastern Ghouta, where hundreds have died during a week-long assault.

“We are late to respond to this crisis, very late,” US Ambassador Nikki Haley told the council after the vote, accusing Russia of stalling the vote.

More than 500 people, including more than 120 children, have been killed in seven days of relentless airstrikes in Eastern Ghouta, which UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres described as “hell on earth.”

The resolution demands a cessation of hostilities “without delay” throughout Syria to allow the “safe, unimpeded and sustained” deliveries of aid and evacuations of the sick and wounded. To win Russia’s approval, language specifying that the ceasefire would start 72 hours after the adoption of the draft was scrapped, replaced by “without delay,” and the term “immediate” was also dropped in reference to the aid deliveries and evacuations.

Diplomats said they were confident that this would not open the door to postponing the ceasefire , as council members had made clear in negotiations that the truce must quickly come into force. Guterres is to report to the council in 15 days on the ceasefire , diplomats said.

In another concession to Russia , the resolution said the ceasefire will not apply to operations against the Islamic State group or Al-Qaeda, along with “individuals, groups, undertakings and entities” associated with the terror groups.

US President Donald Trump on Friday said Russia’s recent actions in Syria were a “disgrace”.

The UN Security Council had been due to hold a vote on Friday on a resolution calling for a month-long ceasefire to allow aid deliveries and the evacuation of seriously wounded civilians. On Saturday, the meeting failed to start as scheduled at 1700 GMT as negotiations continued in an effort to avert a Russian veto, diplomats in New York said. “Today we are going to see if Russia has a conscience,” US Ambassador Nikki Haley told reporters as she went into the council chamber.

Control of Eastern Ghouta is shared between two main Islamist factions, while Syria’s former Al-Qaeda affiliate is also present, and Russia insists there can be no ceasefire with the militants or their allies.

Russia has been pressing for a negotiated withdrawal of rebel fighters and their families like the one that saw the government retake full control of second city Aleppo in December 2016.

But all three rebel groups have refused.

World leaders have expressed outrage at the plight of civilians in Eastern Ghouta, which UN chief Antonio Guterres called “hell on earth”, but have so far been powerless to halt the bloodshed. The enclave is completely surrounded by government-controlled territory and its 400,000 residents are unwilling or unable to flee the deadly siege.

In one of the many unfolding dramas at a Douma field hospital, a young woman amputated from the knee breastfed a 40-day-old infant who had lost his entire family in the bombings. “She doesn’t know yet that her own daughter has been killed,” a nurse said.

Food supplies have been running dry, with bread no longer available on local markets. “I haven’t eaten since the day before yesterday,” said a mother in a shelter with her two children in Douma, Eastern Ghouta’s main town. “They haven’t stopped crying for three days.”

The cornered rebels in Eastern Ghouta have been firing back into Damascus, where six civilians were wounded on Saturday, state media said. Around 20 people have been killed in eastern districts of the capital since Sunday, according to state media, and many residents have sought temporary accommodation elsewhere for fear of a further intensification of the fighting. At the United Nations, US ambassador Haley expressed dismay as negotiations dragged on to secure Russian approval for a ceasefire resolution. “Unbelievable that Russia is stalling a vote on a ceasefire allowing humanitarian access in Syria ,” she posted on Twitter.

Russia has vetoed 11 draft resolutions throughout the Syrian conflict to block action that targeted its ally. In November, it used its veto to end a UN-led investigation of chemical weapons attacks in Syria .

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron wrote to Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin on Friday to ask him to back the ceasefire .

Negotiations have stumbled over a key provision of the draft resolution that specifies when the ceasefire will begin.

Following hours of tough negotiations, an amended draft was circulated that demands a 30-day ceasefire “without delay,” while stopping short of specifying the timing.

A previous draft had said the ceasefire would go into force 72 hours after the adoption, but that was dropped from the text in a bid to reach compromise with Russia .

In another concession to Russia , the draft also specifies that the ceasefire will not apply to operations against the Islamic State group or Al-Qaeda, along with “individuals, groups, undertakings and entities associated” with the blacklisted terror groups.

Full report at:



Eastern Syria: US Air Raids Take Civilian Tolls Again

Feb 24, 2018

The sources said that the warplanes bombed heavily a school in the village of al-Sha'afa near the border with Iraq, killing 25 civilians and wounding five more.

They went on to say that several refugee families were living in the school. 

Local sources reported on Thursday that the US warplanes attacked the town of Hajin in Eastern Deir Ezzur, killing 12 civilians, most of them women and children.

Meantime, tens of other civilians were wounded, a number of them in critical conditions.

Also, last Tuesday, the US-led coalition fighter jets killed 16 civilians in Southeastern Deir Ezzur.

Full report at:



Misinformation Campaign Intensifies by Advocates of Ghouta Terrorists

Feb 24, 2018

"They show the photo of a child who has been killed in the Saudi bombing in Yemen and claim her to be a child slain in Eastern Ghouta of Damascus," Hossein Morteza, a reporter of the Arabic-language al-Alam news channel, wrote on his twitter page on Saturday.

"She has been killed by bin Salman and you cry for her tears and say that she is in Ghouta?" he asked addressing those who have released the image.

Meantime, the Lebanese social media activists released the images of the terrorists deployed in Eastern Ghouta to mock at alleged concerns by those Arab and western states who claim to be worried about the lives of those innocent children who are in the region, asking if by children, they mean these sweethearts.

"Come and save the Ghouta children. Each of them is sweeter than another!" they wrote.

Meantime, army officers declared on Saturday that they have specified a safe corridor for evacuating civilians from terrorist-held regions in Eastern Ghouta as the pro-government forces are preparing for an imminent operation.

The source said that the army has called on civilians in terrorist-held regions in Eastern Ghouta to use a newly-set up safe corridor to move towards regions that are under the government forces' control.

The army's helicopters dropped thousands of leaflets over residential areas in Eastern Ghouta and urged civilians to leave the terrorist-held regions.

The army has illustrated a map of rapid access to the safe corridor and necessary instructions, calling on civilians to use the safe corridor in al-Wafedin camp to reach government-controlled regions.

Full report at:



Syrian Army Repels Terrorists' Heavy Offensive in Quneitra

Feb 24, 2018

The Al-Nusra terrorists, deployed in the villages of al-Hamidiyeh and al-Samadaniyeh Qarbi, stormed the army near the town of al-Ba'ath, but failed to prevail the pro-government forces' positions.

In the meantime, the army's artillery and missile units pounded the positions and movements of the Al-Nusra and destroyed two armored vehicles and killed a number of militants.

A field source said that a large number of Al-Nusra terrorists were killed or wounded and their remaining pockets retreated towards al-Hamidiyeh.    

The Arabic-language al-Watan daily reported last month that the terrorists of Al-Nusra, Ahrar al-Sham and other groups affiliated to the Quneitra Operation Room, in a joint statement, declared their disagreement with reconciliation or ceasefire with the army.

The statement further said that the militants who embark on signing the peace agreement with the army will be badly punished.

Full report at:



Terrorist Groups Continue Shelling of Residential Areas in Damascus

Feb 24, 2018

A source at Damascus Police Command told SANA that the terrorist groups fired a rocket on Salahuddin area in Roknulddeen neighborhood in Damascus, killing one civilian and injuring tens others, some of them are in critical situation, in addition to causing severe material damage to public and private properties.

Seven other civilians were injured in another attack on Bab Touma and Ish al-Warwar  regions in Damascus city, the source said.

The terrorist groups' mortar units positioned in Eastern Ghouta targeted al-Sheikh Raslan area in Bab Touma neighborhood, injuring a civilian, while another shell landed in Bab al-Salam area, causing only material damage.

The source added that a rocket attack by terrorist groups positioned in Eastern Ghouta caused massive material damage to the ICU at the Medical Surgery Hospital in Baghdad Street in Damascus, damaging medical equipment in the hospital, cars parked in the area, and surrounding houses.

Earlier, the source told SANA that the terrorist groups positioned in Eastern Ghouta also fired mortar shells and rockets on the neighborhoods of Mezzeh 86, Barzeh, al-Joura, al-Qaboun, causing material damage to houses and properties.

The Police said also that a number of shells landed in al-Assad residential suburb and its vicinity, causing only material damage to properties and infrastructure.

Three shells were landed on al-Homsi neighborhood in Jaramana city, causing only material damage, the source added.

Full report at:



Syrian Army Specifies Safe Corridor for Civilians' Evacuation from Eastern Damascus

Feb 24, 2018

The source said that the army has called on civilians in terrorist-held regions in Eastern Ghouta to use a newly-set up safe corridor to move towards regions that are under the government forces' control.

The army's helicopters dropped thousands of leaflets over residential areas in Eastern Ghouta and urged civilians to leave the terrorist-held regions.

The army has illustrated a map of rapid access to the safe corridor and necessary instructions, calling on civilians to use the safe corridor in al-Wafedin camp to reach government-controlled regions.

In the meantime, the Russian Reconciliation Center for Syria announced that the terrorists in Eastern Damascus are preventing people from leaving the region. 

The Russian center said on Friday that militants in Eastern Ghouta continue to hinder civilians' evacuation from the controlled areas.

"Situation in Eastern Ghouta has been exacerbated. Illegal armed formations has been denying citizens the right to freely exit the controlled areas. Most of the civilians badly need urgent medical aid," the center's statement read.

Eastern Ghouta is one of Syrian de-escalation zones, established during the Astana talks, with Russia, Iran and Turkey serving as guarantors of the agreements.

According to the Russian Defense Ministry, the Syrian capital of Damascus and its suburbs subjects to shelling by insurgents.

"The Syrian capital is subject to sustained provoking shelling. Over the last 24 hours, 33 mines have been fired by insurgents from Eastern Ghouta targeting various regions of Damascus and settlements nearby. Civilian casualties and destructions have been reported," according to the statement.

The servicemen of the Russian Center for Syrian reconciliation are proceeding with the implementation of their tasks in Syria. Since the military campaign in the country is over, the center's employees are now focused on the withdrawal of civilians from the de-escalation zones and helping the refugees to return home.

Full report at:



Russian Air Force Redeploys Su-57 Fighter Jets to Syria to Face Intruding Warplanes

Feb 24, 2018

The Arabic-language website of Sputnik reported that two Su-57 fighter jets landed on the Russia-run Humeimim airbase in the coastal province of Lattakia, adding that four fighter jets of this kind have thus far joined the country's air fleet in Humeimim. In the meantime, Head of Legal Committee of Russian Defense Industries Vladimir Gotinov said that Su-57 fighter jets' presence in Syria will reinvigorate the country's deterrence power against intruding warplanes of certain neighboring countries that had been violating Syria's airspace.  

Chief Designer of the United Aircraft Corporation (UAC) Sergei Korotkov said in December that the Russian Air Force planed to test new weapons systems mounted on its Mikoyan MiG-29SMT fighter jets to hit terrorists' positions in Syria.

"The program of developing MiG-29SMT planes will be continued, including for the purpose of checking effective destruction by new and promising weapons systems. The experience gained in Syria will be taken into account during the operation of these aircraft, and will also be introduced as part of the work to develop new MiG aviation platforms, including the MiG-35," the chief designer said.

A batch of MiG-29SMT aircraft was sent to the Humeimim air base in Syria in September for testing, the chief designer said.

Korotkov is heading the UAC’s delegation at the Humeimim air base to analyze the results of using these aviation complexes in the Russian air task force’s operation in Syria.

"The participation of new aviation complexes in sorties makes it possible to confirm their reliability and efficiency and assess the operation of onboard radio-electronic equipment and armament," the chief designer said.

"The MiG-29SMTs have carried out over 140 sorties, accomplishing the missions of destroying terrorists’ infrastructure," the UAC chief designer said, adding that MiG-29SMT aircraft "performed the combat assignments of hitting terrorists’ bases autonomously and also jointly with Su-34 and Su-35 planes.

He added that MiG-29SMT had also accomplished missions to escort Tupolev Tu-22M3 strategic missile bombers.

Full report at:



Air strikes hit Syria’s Ghouta minutes after UN vote on ceasefire

25 February 2018

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said warplanes struck eastern Ghouta on Saturday evening, minutes after the UN Security Council adopted a resolution demanding a 30-day ceasefire in Syria.

The jets hit the town of Shifouniyeh in the rebel enclave, said the Britain-based monitoring group and two residents of the besieged suburbs near Damascus.

A surge of air strikes and shelling by the Syrian government and its allies has pounded eastern Ghouta since Sunday night, in one of the fiercest air-assaults of the seven-year war, residents, rescuers and the monitor say.

The UN Security Council on Saturday demanded a 30-day truce across Syria as rescuers in the country’s eastern Ghouta region said bombing would not let up long enough for them to count bodies during one of the bloodiest air assaults of the seven-year war.

Full report at:



Iraqi army threatens to ‘crush’ ISIS if they approach Kirkuk

24 February 2018

Commander of the second special operations in the Iraqi army, Maj. Gen. Maan al-Saadi, warned ISIS and Peshmerga forces on Friday that the national army will “crush” anyone that approaches the outskirts of Kirkuk.

Saadi continued saying that the security situation in Kirkuk is under control. He also denied any ISIS militant presence in the city or plans to attack them.

Meanwhile, the Iraqi Observatory for Human Rights said that hundreds of injured children in Mosul are suffering and not receiving appropriate treatments for their conditions.



Two civilians killed, four injured in Turkish shelling on Syria's Afrin

Feb 24, 2018

At least two civilians have been killed and four others injured in Turkish shelling on Syria’s northwestern region of Afrin, where Ankara is leading an operation against US-backed Kurdish militants.

On Saturday, one child was killed and four civilians were injured due to the continued shelling by the Turkish forces on Qntara village in Afrin, Syria's official news agency SANA reported.

Turkish forces fired a barrage of artillery rounds and rockets at the villages in the areas of Shiran, Jindares and M’abatli in Afrin, leaving a civilian dead and causing material damage to people’s property, according to SANA.

Turkish forces have been heavily bombing Afrin since early Saturday, killing a number of pro-government forces and destroying a drinking water tank in Jandaris in southwestern Afrin, the Kurdish Hawar News Agency (ANHA) reported.

Syrians protest Turkey’s offensive

Separately on Saturday, Syrians in Afrin staged a demonstration to protest against Turkey’s military operation in the northern border region.

The protesters chanted slogans against Ankara and held placards bearing the images of those killed in Turkish attacks.

In a statement released on Friday, Human Rights Watch criticized the Ankara government’s ongoing cross-border offensive in Afrin, saying that the Turkish military had failed to adopt necessary measures to avoid civilian casualties.

The New York-based rights organization said that some 26 civilians, including 17 children, lost their lives during Turkey’s three attacks against Afrin in late January.

Turkey launched the so-called Operation Olive Branch in Afrin on January 20 in a bid to eliminate the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG), which Ankara views as a terror organization and the Syrian branch of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK).

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has repeatedly said that Afrin should be cleared of “terrorists.” He demanded the deployment of Turkish troops there during a speech back in November 2016.

US officials regard the YPG as the most effective fighting force against the Daesh Takfiri terrorist group in northern Syria, and have substantially increased their weaponry and technological support to the terrorist group.

Full report at:



South Asia


Series of attacks, suicide bombings kill 23 in Afghanistan; Taliban and Islamic State claim responsibility

Feb 25, 2018

Kabul: At least 23 people, mostly soldiers, were killed and more than a dozen wounded in a series of attacks and suicide bombings in Afghanistan on Saturday, officials said, the latest assaults on the war-torn country's beleaguered security forces.

In the biggest attack, Taliban militants stormed an army base in the western province of Farah overnight, killing at least 18 soldiers.

"Last night a big group of militants attacked an army base in Bala Buluk district of Farah. Unfortunately, we lost 18 soldiers, two soldiers were wounded. We have sent more reinforcements to the area," defence ministry spokesman Daulat Wazir said.

The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack. Deputy provincial governor Younus Rasooli said the authorities had sent a fact-finding delegation to Bala Buluk to investigate the assault.

In another attack, a suicide bomber detonated his explosives near the diplomatic area of Kabul during the morning rush hour, killing at least three people and wounding five others, deputy interior ministry spokesman Nasrat Rahimi told AFP. "At around 8.30 am, a suicide bomber on foot, well-dressed with a necktie on, was identified at a checkpoint. He blew up his explosives, killing three and wounding five others," he said, updating an earlier toll.

A security source who requested not to be named said the explosion happened near a compound belonging to the National Directorate of Security (NDS), the Afghan intelligence agency. The NDS compound is located near the NATO headquarters and the US embassy. "I was driving nearby when I heard a big explosion, the windows of my car were smashed. I saw several wounded people on the street near me," a witness told Tolonews TV adding that security forces had since swarmed the area, closing off the main road leading to the attack site.

The Islamic State group, which is trying to make inroads in Afghanistan, claimed the responsibility for the Kabul attack. In December, a suicide attacker on foot blew himself up near the same compound, killing at least six civilians.

Kabul has recently seen an increase in attacks by both Taliban and the Islamic State group. Since mid-January, militants have stormed a luxury hotel, bombed a crowded street and raided a military compound in the capital, killing more than 130 people as the city remains on high alert fearing further violence.

Car bombings

In two other attacks on Saturday in volatile southern Helmand province, suicide car bombs killed at least two soldiers and wounded more than a dozen others, officials said.

In the first incident, militants used a Humvee to attack an army base in Nad Ali district but the vehicle was destroyed when soldiers identified it and hit it with a rocket propelled grenade, provincial spokesman Omar Zawak told AFP. "Unfortunately, two soldiers were killed in the attack and seven wounded," he said.

The Nad Ali attack was followed by a second suicide car bombing in the provincial capital Lashkar Gah that wounded seven people. The attack was against an NDS compound and near a police headquarters in the city, Helmand police spokesman Salaam Afghan told AFP.

The Taliban claimed both attacks in Helmand.

Militants including the Taliban and the Islamic State group have stepped up their attacks on Afghan troops and police in recent months, sapping morale already hit by desertions and corruption. Afghan soldiers have taken what the UN describes as "shocking" casualties since international forces ended their combat role at the end of 2014, though troop casualty figures are no longer released.



Bangladesh police free detained foreign aid workers

February 24, 2018

The Bangladesh police authority has freed all the foreign aid workers who had been detained near the city of Cox’s Bazar after failing to show their passports, visas or work permits, a senior police official said on Saturday.

The Rapid Action Battalion (RAB), the elite force of the Bangladesh police, had on Friday detained 11 aid workers with a number of different non-government organizations (NGOs) and handed them over to local police.

Mohammad Abul Khair, officer in charge of the police station in the Ukhiya sub-district, near Cox’s Bazar, said two of the aid workers were from the United Kingdom, two were from Italy, and one each were from Turkey, the Netherlands, Norway, Belgium, Brazil, Korea and Kenya.

“All of them were going to a refugees’ camp from Cox’s Bazar by their own vehicles, but they could not produce their passport, visa or work permit,” Khair told Reuters.

“All of them were freed later after their written undertaking that in future they will not visit any camp or will not come out without a valid passport or visa,” Khair added.

Full report at:



New threats loom over 720K Rohingya children: UNICEF

February 24, 2018

Rohingya children are facing threats either from severe weather approaching Bangladesh where hundreds of thousands are sheltered in overcrowded refugee camps, or by ongoing violence in their Myanmar homeland, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has warned.

“Some 720,000 Rohingya children are essentially trapped“ either hemmed in by violence and forced displacement inside Myanmar or stranded in overcrowded camps in Bangladesh because they can’t return home,” Manuel Fontaine, UNICEF Director of Emergency Programmes said Friday.

UNICEF’s report, ‘LIVES IN LIMBO: No End in Sight’ to the threats facing Rohingya children, marks six months since the start of the latest exodus of Rohingya refugees into southern Bangladesh.

The agency says that floods caused by the forthcoming cyclone season are likely to engulf the fragile and insanitary camps where most of the refugees are living, raising the likelihood of waterborne disease outbreaks and forcing clinics, learning centres and other facilities for children to close.

The report also estimates that some 185,000 Rohingya children remain in Myanmar’s Rakhine state, fearful of the violence and horror that drove so many of their relatives and neighbours to flee.

In Bangladesh, there are estimated to be around 534,000 Rohingya refugee children from last year’s and previous influxes.

“This is a crisis without a quick fix that could take years to resolve unless there is a concerted effort to address its root causes”, Fontaine said.

The report states that the Rohingya are a people cast adrift “ chased from their homes and communities, trapped in limbo and deprived of their basic rights“ while facing fresh threats to their well-being.

UNICEF calls on the Myanmar Government to end the violence, and to address what it terms a crisis of human rights in Rakhine state, referring to restrictions on Rohingya people’s freedom of movement, extremely limited access to health care, education and livelihoods, and consequent dependence on humanitarian support.

According to the report, recognizing the Rohingya people’s basic rights would create conditions necessary for the refugees to return to their former homes in Myanmar.

“People won’t go home unless they are guaranteed safety and security, unless they have citizenship, unless they can send their children to school and have a chance of a future,” Fontaine explained.

Since August 2017, a lack of access to many parts of the Rakhine state has severely restricted the work of UNICEF and other humanitarian agencies.

Immediate and unimpeded access to all children in the state is imperative along with longer-term efforts to address inter communal tension and promote social cohesion, UNICEF said.

Full report at:



Turkish whirling dervishes perform in Bangladesh


The Turkish embassy of Bangladesh and the Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency (TIKA) hosted the traditional ceremony of Sufi whirling dervishes Saturday night at the Dhaka Shilpakala Academy.

In collaboration with the Ministry of Cultural Affairs and the Dhaka Shilpakala Academy, Allama Rumi Society Bangladesh and Hatkhola Foundation jointly organized the three day long Second International Sufi fest ceremony.

Addressing the ceremony of whirling dervishes, Turkish Ambassador Öztürk explained the significance of the ceremony and Rumi's philosophy.

He said, “Sufism is a message of love, universal love. This is the second sufi festival in Bangladesh but it’s a common issues of all Muslims of all over the world. It’s the common little between Turkish people and Bangladeshi people. So we are relay glad our team attend this good festival, and as far as I know that’s the first time Turkish teems performs on whirling dervishes. Interpretation of Sufism in Turkey and Bangladesh slightly difference but main message love, union and god is the same. We hope that the message will reach all over the world in this difficult time our world needs so much of peace and harmony and tolerance.”

Syed Rezaul Karim, Adviser of the Allama Rumi Society Bangladesh said, “Actually this fest was initiated one year back, it was held on Chittagong and this time in Dhaka. Moulana Rume is very popular in Bangladesh. In fact all over the world. All the religious clerics here who have studied Madrasha, School or University they know about Moulana Rumi. Moulana has become more relevant in the present world because of the conflict and the hatred among the people. Moulana’s messages of the love and his universal love and it has strongest amongst all nations’ people. In Bangladesh particularly Moulana Rumi’s messages has to be spread, and it is very important because here also the fundamentalist forces are trying to raise their heads and try to dis stability in the society. it’s the messege of toralence and messege of harmony that is very important which comes to the sufi works of Moulana Rumi.

Sema was introduced by Moulana Jalaludin rume. He explained that he derived this tune from a celestial atmosphere on the movement of this fears. And anybody who understand this whirling also understand the god. All loves for all creation.”

Yusuf Muhammed Coordinator & General Secretary of Hatkhola Foundation said, "In the contemporary world, suicides, loss of harmony is common. Muslim attacks of Muslims and non-Muslims, we arrange this program to get rid of this violence.

Full report at:



9 Taliban insurgents killed in Baghlan operations

Feb 25 2018

At least nine Taliban insurgents were killed during the operations of the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces in northern Baghlan province of Afghanistan.

The 209th Shaheen Corps of the Afghan Military in the north said the militants were killed during Alburz-24 operations.

The source further added that the operations were conducted in Turmosh valley in Tala Barfak district.

According to Shaheen Corps, one Taliban insurgent was also wounded and a check post established by the militants was destroyed.

The Taliban insurgents were using the check post to collect money from the vehicles carrying coal.

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

The security situation has started to deteriorate during the recent years as the anti-government armed militant groups are attempting to expand their insurgency in some key Northern and northeastern provinces.

Full report at:



Each and every regional player to benefit from a stable Afghanistan: NATO SCR

Feb 24 2018

The NATO Senior Civilian Representative to Afghanistan (NATO SCR) Ambassador Cornelius Zimmermann has said that each and every regional player will benefit from a stable Afghanistan.

Speaking to reporters during a press conference of the top NATO officials in Kabul, Ambassador Zimmermann said “We are in a win-win situation if we, all together, concentrate on protecting stability to this country.”

He said “A stable Afghanistan will be to the benefit of each and every player in this region — this needs to be understood — that ultimately a peaceful and stable Afghanistan will be to the betterment of us all.”

According to a news release by the NATO-led Resolute Support Mission in Afghanistan, at the NATO Summit in Warsaw, 2016, NATO Allies and Resolute Support operational partners committed to sustain the NATO-led Resolute Support, to continue national contributions to the financial sustainment of the Afghan security forces, and to strengthen the Enduring Partnership between NATO and Afghanistan through political dialogue and practical cooperation.

At their meeting in November 2017, Defence Ministers from NATO Allies and Resolute Support operational partners committed to increase the strength of the Resolute Support Mission from around 13,000 to around 16,000 troops; they also confirmed they will continue to fund the Afghan Security Forces until at least 2020.

In July, 2018, a NATO Summit will be held in Brussels where heads of state and government from NATO Allies are expected to reaffirm NATO’s continued commitment to Afghanistan.

Full report at:



ISIS local leader among 3 killed in US drone strikes in Kunar province

Feb 24 2018

At least three militants affiliated with the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) terrorist group were killed in US drone strikes in eastern Kunar province of Afghanistan.

The 201st Silab Corps of the Afghan military in the East said the latest drone strikes were carried out in the vicinity of Manogi district.

The source further added that the hideouts of the terror group were targeted in the air raids and as a result three militants were killed.

According to the Silab Corps, a local leader of the group identified as Mohib son of Abdul Nabi was also among those killed.

The anti-government armed militant and terrorist groups including the ISIS insurgents have not commented regarding the report so far.

Kunar is among the relatively volatile provinces in East of Afghanistan which borders the tribal regions of Pakistan and is home to Taliban, ISIS, and other terrorist groups.

This comes as the US forces carried out similar airstrikes against the ISIS insurgents in Chapa Dara district last week.

Full report at:



Ghani vows relentless war against terror groups after recent attacks

Feb 24 2018

President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani has vowed relent war against the terror groups after recent attacks in Kabul, Farah, and Helmand provinces as he insisted that such attacks would not affect the resolve of the nation for economic development.

Speaking during a gathering for the distribution of the property certificates in Herat province, President Ghani condemned the recent attacks and said the enemies of the country have once again committed crimes in Farah, Kabul, and Helmand provinces as the country is celebrating the inauguration of the TAPI gas pipeline works.

However, he said the enemies of the country must understand that the Afghan nation will have stronger resolve for economic development and to suppress the terror groups.

This comes as a suicide bomber detonated his explosives in Kabul city earlier today amid reports at least two people were killed although the ministry of interior says at least one person has been killed and six others have been wounded.

The militants also launched coordinated attack on an army base in Farah province late last night with the ministry of defense saying at least eighteen soldiers were martyred in the attack.

Full report at:



Foreigner among three killed in Nangarhar clash

Feb 24 2018

A foreign insurgent was among at least three militants killed during a clash with the local public uprising forces in eastern Nangarhar province of Afghanistan.

According to the provincial police commandment, the incident took place late on Thursday night in the vicinity of Goshta district of Nangarhar.

The clash broke out in Torkani area of Goshta district, the provincial commandment said, adding that the foreign militant killed during the clash has been identified as Syed Nabi alias Jahanyar who was hailing fro Pakistan.

The provincial police commandment also added that the dead bodies of the militants were left in the area and two Ak-47 rifles, 2 motorcycles, and some ammunition were also confiscated by the uprising forces.

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

Nangarhar has been among the relatively calm provinces in East of Afghanistan since the fall of the Taliban regime but the anti-government armed militant groups have been attempting to expand their insurgency activities in some of the remote parts of the province during the recent years.

Full report at:



Southeast Asia


Malaysia scholars deny forming body to monitor Two Holy Mosques

24 February 2018

A group of 46 Malaysian Islamic associations has jointly denied any establishment of a body to monitor Saudi Arabia’s management of the Two Holy Mosques.

In an exclusive statement to Al Arabiya English, the group of associations categorically denied any establishment of a monitoring body based in Malaysia.

This comes following the fake news of establishment of such a body by the Qatari-owned Al Jazeera Media Network and other news websites that falsely said the body with powers to monitor the administration of the two holy mosques was created recently.

“It is known to us that the administration of the Two Holy Mosques and the service of Holy Places has been without doubt and over time, the honor of Saudi Arabia and we confirm the associations’ denial of establishing any monitoring body,” Dr. Fath al-Bari Yahya, president of the Khair al-Uma Foundation in Malaysia, told Al Arabiya English.

In a phone interview with Al Arabiya, Mufti of Malaysia Dr. Zulkifli Mohamad Al-Bakri confirmed no such body has been created.



No need to jump in anger over Namewee’s dog video, Muslim group chief says


February 25, 2018

KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 25 ― Malaysians need not get so upset over controversial rapper Namewee’s latest music video featuring people wearing dog costumes in Putrajaya, the head of Islamic Da’wah Foundation Malaysia advised today.

Yusri Mohamad said oversensitivity coupled with a controversial past could have been the reason the Johor-born rapper was hauled up by the police over his music video titled Like A Dog, but he added that the public should let the law take its course.

“Sometimes the issues that he raises could be deemed sensitive. Especially since it involves someone who already has a track record. Maybe the music video he produced isn’t the worst, but his name has been tied to past videos,” he told reporters at a Chinese New Year Open house organised by Malaysian Chinese Muslims Association here.

Yusri explained that there could have been a misunderstanding regarding the music video produced by Namewee that was deemed to be racially and religiously insensitive as it showed people wearing dog costumes dancing suggestively in Putrajaya.

“But he has explained and I hope there will be more forums and channels to discuss these sort of issues. If it reaches the court, he will also have the space to explain himself and his reason.

“The public shouldn’t jump up [in anger] and we should let due process run its course. We should allow the rules to run this country and not take the law into our own hands. Everyone has a right to lodge a police report,” said Yusri.

Full report at:



Najib: Changes to education system needed to meet challenges

February 24, 2018

KUALA LUMPUR: The government will likely realign the education system to be able to meet the challenges of the Industrial Revolution 4.0 (IR4.0), says Prime Minister Najib Razak.

He said this could be achieved if the government continued to enjoy the people’s mandate at the coming 14th general election (GE14).

“This is one of my concerns and post-GE, with the mandate of the rakyat, we’ll have to look closely at this and probably make the changes,” he said at the townhall session with Axiata and Celcom employees at Axiata Arena in Bukit Jalil, near here yesterday.

Najib said such a move would ensure that future generations were equipped with knowledge and skills to face IR4.0.

Also present were Axiata Group president and group chief executive officer Jamaludin Ibrahim.

Queried on the National Transformation 2050 (TN50) agenda, Najib said the 30-year timeframe from 2020 was enough to effect changes and see outstanding results for the future.

On another matter, the prime minister said Malaysians should continue to respect one another with a view to strengthening unity in the country.

“We need to impart certain core values like learning to interact with one another and learn to respect each other so that Malaysia can progress as a harmonious country.

“If you can create more moments of unity, we can strengthen our unity, and we have to fight any form of extremism,” he said.

Questioned on concerns over the rising cost of living, Najib said the government had taken various measures to address the issue.

Full report at:



Rohingya refugees find uneasy solace in Malaysia

February 25, 2018

Every weekday morning, about 70 students stream into a house in a quiet neighborhood on Malaysia's Penang Island.

The children are Rohingya refugees and the house is a private school where they learn Malay, English, math and science.

This life is light years away from the one the children left behind in Myanmar.

"People were getting hit and killed and the police were arresting people. My whole village was burned down," 13-year-old Anwar Sadek Shah Ahmad says softly, cowering into his teacher's shoulder.

Anwar and his family fled their fishing village in Myanmar's Rakhine State in 2013 after violence broke out.

His grandmother, he said, only fled Myanmar last year and is now in a refugee camp in Bangladesh, where more than 680,000 Rohingya have fled to since August 2017.

There are thousands of children like Anwar in Malaysia — he's among the Rohingya refugees who escaped from Rakhine State by boat largely before 2015, when Kuala Lumpur began turning back Rohingya arrivals.

Even though they consider themselves the lucky ones, those who made it to Malaysia still lead lives fraught with risk and hardship.

"They have no legal rights — no right to work, no opportunity for mainstream education, and are obliged to eke out a very difficult living in the grey market economy of the country," said Richard Towle, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Representative for Malaysia.

This is the case for all refugees in Malaysia. Most of the 150,000 refugees there are from Myanmar, but there are also Pakistanis, Syrians, Yemenis and Palestinians.

Anwar's father has been working illegally in Penang since 2006 and paid smugglers to bring over his son, daughter and wife by boat. Anwar also has an infant brother who was born in Malaysia. The family are now registered with the UNHCR.

The UN body has registered 62,000 Rohingya refugees in Malaysia, but the organization estimates there could be another 30,000 to 40,000 who are there illegally and don't have official refugee status -- obtaining it is a lengthy process that can only happen in the Malaysian capital, Kuala Lumpur.

"UNHCR Malaysia prioritises refugees in immigration detention, vulnerable refugees who have come to UNHCR from referral partners including government agencies, and others who have been interviewed and found to need UNHCR's protection and support," said Towle.

It's not clear whether Malaysia will accept any of those who have fled since August, an exodus that has lead to the world's fastest growing refugee crisis in Bangladesh.

The Muslim Rohingya have been denied citizenship in mostly Buddhist Myanmar since 1982, and while the group has long been discriminated against, the situation has deteriorated significantly in the past few years. Between 2012 and 2015, more than 112,000 Rohingya fled, largely by boat, to Malaysia.

In September 2017, Zulkifli Abu Bakar, the director-general of the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency said those fleeing violence in Myanmar would not be turned away, and that they would be provided temporary shelter.

But in 2015, Wan Junaidi Jaafar, the Malaysian Deputy Home Minister, said the Rohingya arriving in the country illegally would be turned back.

"We cannot welcome them here," Wan Junaidi said, adding that if the country continued to welcome them "hundreds of thousands" would come from Myanmar and Bangladesh.

CNN reached out to Zulkifli as well as the country's Ministry of Home Affairs for this article but did not get a response.

The latest exodus was sparked in last August, after an attack on government border posts by a Rohingya militant group resulted in a brutal crackdown by Myanmar's military. Refugees poured into Bangladesh with horrific stories of systematic rape, mass killings and arson -- although Myanmar's military denies killing any civilians or committing atrocities.

In Malaysia, schools such as the one Anwar goes to, have sprouted up because while the country tolerates Rohingya presence and the UNHCR has issued them refugee status, they are still officially considered illegal migrants and therefore can't go to regular schools.

This limits their options to schools run by non-government organisations, or religious schools known as madrassas where they learn Arabic and study Islam.

According to the UNHCR, there are about 50 schools in Malaysia run by non-governmental organisations educating Rohingya children.

Anwar studies at the Penang Peace Learning Centre, also known as the School of Peace. On the morning CNN visited, Anwar and the older students were being taught math while the younger students, aged three to six, did coloring. Their classroom was also home to two pet rabbits.

All classes are held in Malay, or Bahasa Melayu, the country's national tongue. The kids have picked up the language despite arriving with no knowledge of Malay just a few years ago.

"Malay is easy, we hear it everywhere, but English is hard," says Rosmin Kayas, 12, who arrived in 2014.

The School of Peace was founded by Kamarulzaman Askandar, a political science lecturer at the Universiti Sains Malaysia, who learned about the Rohingya's plight while doing research.

He said: "I was sad about how bad their lives in Malaysia have been, that they can't work and that their children do not have access to free education."

The school started as weekend classes using space in the local religious school. As the student population grew, Kamarulzaman rented a terrace house and hired three teachers so the school could run five days a week.

But there are huge challenges. They struggle to find the RM6,000 (US$1,471) needed to run the school each month and neighbors complain about the school being in their neighborhood, because of the noise.

The school is mainly funded by individual donations. "Other organizations like the UNHCR also helps from time to time with school materials and training support for the teachers," he said.

Most frustratingly, he says, he has difficulty keeping the children in school.

"Older boys would be asked by the families to look for jobs, while older girls would be asked by the parents to help the families at home, and to be married off when they come of age," Kamarulzaman says.

Rosmin's sister, for example, is only 13, but was pulled out of school early this year to help out at home when their mother got pregnant.

Kamarulzaman says there is also little incentive for older kids to stay in school since the school only teaches the elementary school syllabus, which is typically for children aged seven to 12.

He said he wants to start teaching the secondary school syllabus — if he can secure funding that will provide the teachers and the necessary space.

Experts say Malaysia should look at improving the Rohingya's access to employment, healthcare and education.

"It is really about livelihood — being able to work and to feed their families and to have enough money to use services from the market. If they cannot access government services, they need money for healthcare services and to send their children to school," Oh Su-Ann, a visiting fellow at Singapore's ISEAS - Yusof Ishak Institute.

Towle from the UNCHR says he can understand why Malaysia is afraid committing towards formal arrangements for the refugees might cause more to arrive.

"We believe that a carefully managed registration scheme, where UNHCR and the Government, working closely together, can mitigate the risks of this but could also deliver the positive dividends to Malaysia and to refugees," he said.

But despite the difficulties with work and education, the Rohingya students and parents at the Penang school say they are happy.

Malaysia is peaceful compared to what he left behind, says Anwar. Now, he spends his free time playing football with new friends from the neighborhood.

Likewise, Jubairah Bashir, 34, who brought three children to her illegal migrant husband in Penang in 2013, says she has picked up basic Bahasa Melayu and can buy her groceries. She has also made Malaysian friends.

Full report at:



Philippines arrests widow of slain militants

25 February 2018

MANILA: The widow of two slain militant leaders has been arrested for allegedly supporting extremist groups and possessing firearms and explosives, Philippine police said Sunday.

Juromee Dongon was married to a senior leader of the notorious Abu Sayyaf kidnap-for-ransom group, Khadaffy Janjalani. After his death in 2006 she married Malaysian bombmaker Zulkifli bin Hir, alias Marwan, who was killed in 2015 in the Philippines, police said.

Authorities arrested Dongon along with her relatives in her home in Lanao del Norte province in the restive southern region of Mindanao where they found firearms, ammunition and bomb-making components, a police statement said.

“She assists, associates, networks and supports terrorist groups,” regional police spokesman Superintendent Lemuel Gonda told AFP.

“Juromee is linked with Abu Sayyaf during the time of Janjalani and then later Jemaah Islamiyah,” he added, referring to a Southeast Asian militant group.

Marwan was a leading member of Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) and a suspect in the 2002 Bali nightclub bombings that killed 202 people as well as in two deadly Philippine attacks.

He died in a raid in the southern Philippines that also left 44 police commandos dead. The US had offered a $5 million bounty for him.

In two operations on Sunday, police arrested Dongon as well as her two sisters and father, Gonda said, adding the family had “connections with terrorists.”

The Dongons faced charges of illegal possession of firearms and explosives.

Abu Sayyaf is an extremist militant group which was set up in the 1990s with seed money from the Al-Qaeda network, and has been blamed for the worst terror attacks in the Philippines’ history, including bombings.

The Abu Sayyaf had harbored JI militants in their bases in remote southern islands, including key suspects in the Bali bombings.

Full report at:





Avant-Garde Mosque Angers Hard-Liners In Iran

February 25, 2018

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — A newly built avant-garde mosque in the heart of Iran's capital would have hard-liners shouting from the minarets — if there were any.

The architects behind the Vali-e-Asr mosque dispensed with the traditional rounded domes and towering minarets, opting instead for a modern design of undulating waves of gray stone and concrete, which they say complements the surrounding architecture and evokes the austerity of early Islam.

The new structure has infuriated hard-liners, who see it as part of a creeping secular onslaught on the Islamic republic. An editorial posted on the Mashregh news website compared the curvature to that of a Jewish yarmulke, accusing authorities of "treason" for approving it. The "completely neutral" design betrays an "atheistic approach," it said.

The mosque has emerged as the latest battleground in a longstanding culture war between hard-liners and Iran's vibrant artistic community, which has hoped — often in vain — for greater openness since President Hassan Rouhani, a relative moderate, was elected in 2013.

The 25,000-square-meter (270,000 sq. feet) structure rises smoothly from a major intersection, in a popular shopping area near Tehran University that also hosts cultural and artistic events. It's adjacent to the City Theater of Tehran, an iconic building dating back to before the 1979 Islamic Revolution, and the mosque includes its own library, reading halls, classrooms and amphitheater.

Reza Daneshmir, one of the architects, said he struggled for months before finally convincing authorities that a traditional mosque would look out of place at the site. He even argued his case before a parliamentary committee.

City officials "objected and said it did not look like a mosque, did not resemble the conventional form of a mosque, and that it couldn't be done," he said. "I explained who the real audiences of this mosque are," he said, referring to the young, bohemian Iranians who frequent the neighborhood. "I finally succeeded in persuading them."

"We wanted it to be an avant-garde project, not a conservative and backward one," he added.

He and his co-designer, Catherine Spiridonoff, point out that mosques come in many shapes and sizes, and that the first mosque ever built, at the time of the Prophet Muhammad, was a simple structure without domes or minarets.

The dome structure, which had been used in pagan and Christian architecture for centuries before the arrival of Islam, was only adopted later, as were minarets. In the past, a muezzin would climb a spiral staircase to the top of the minaret five times a day to call the faithful to prayer, but that practice has all but disappeared across the Muslim world, where most mosques are now equipped with loudspeakers.

Those arguments carry little weight with Iran's hard-liners and conservatives, who fear that the questioning of traditional structures — including the concrete variety — could erode the foundations of the Islamic republic. Mashregh says the architects sacrificed traditional design "at the foot of the City Theater."

The structure was nevertheless completed, after 10 years and at a cost of $16 million. It is expected to be opened to the public within the coming months.

Nima Borzouie, an 18-year-old student, acknowledged that he was initially unaware the building included a mosque, but said he approved of the idea.

"The spiritual aspect of a mosque is more important than its architecture," he said. "It's no big deal if it does not follow the stereotypical architecture of mosques that have domes or minarets. It is a place of worship."



At least 14 dead in attack on Yemen counter-terrorism base

February 25, 2018

ADEN: At least 14 people were killed and 40 wounded when Islamist car suicide bombers and gunmen tried to storm the headquarters of a counter-terrorism unit in the southern port city of Aden on Saturday, security and medical sources said.

Islamic State, in a statement carried by its Amaq news agency, claimed responsibility for what it described as two “martyrdom operations” targeting the camp in Tawahi district in south-western Aden.

The agency provided no immediate evidence for the claim.

Security sources said two suicide bombers detonated two cars laden with explosives at the camp’s entrance while six gunmen tried to storm the facility.

They were all killed by guards and their bodies taken to a military hospital, a medical source told Reuters.

Aden police said in a statement on its Facebook page that security forces had foiled a major attack on the camp.

“All the ... terrorists were liquidated immediately before they could reach the outer gate of the anti-terrorism headquarters,” a police statement said.

Security sources and medics said three security men, a woman and two children died in the attack, while 40 other people, many of them civilians, were wounded.

The attack was the first of its kind in southern Yemen since gun battles erupted in January between southern separatists and President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi’s government over control of the city.

Aden is the temporary capital of Yemen’s internationally recognized Hadi government, which is now operating out of Saudi Arabia.

Backed by a Saudi-led Arab coalition, Hadi’s government has been battling the Iran-aligned Houthi movement since 2015 in a war that has driven the country to the verge of famine.

Residents described two large explosions in the area that sent up a cloud of gray smoke while ambulances raced to evacuate the wounded.

In a statement carried by the state-run Saba news agency, Hadi described the attack as a “cowardly act aimed to destabilize security in the temporary capital ... but it will not dissuade people from their will to achieve security, safety and decent living.”

Al Qaeda and Islamic State have exploited the war in Yemen to carry out assassinations and bombings, mostly in lawless southern Yemeni areas nominally controlled by the government.

Full report at:



Turkey says U.S. decision to open embassy in Jerusalem damaging peace


Turkey said on Saturday a decision by the United States to open an embassy in Jerusalem in May disregarded decision by the United Nations and Organisation for Islamic Cooperation (OIC) and showed the United States insisted on damaging peace.

In a statement, Turkey’s Foreign Ministry said the decision was “very worrying”. The U.S. State Department said on Friday it would open an embassy in Jerusalem in May to coincide with Israel’s 70th anniversary.

In December, President Tayyip Erdogan hosted an OIC summit of more than 50 countries in Istanbul, where Muslim leaders condemned the U.S. decision to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.



IS attacks kill dozens in Yemen

February 25, 2018

ADEN - Dozens of people were killed or wounded in two suicide car bombings in the southern Yemeni port city of Aden on Saturday, according to witnesses and local medics.

Islamic State, in a statement carried by its Amaq news agency, claimed responsibility for what it described as two “martyrdom operations” targeting a counter-terrorism camp in Aden’s Tawahi district. The agency provided no immediate evidence for the claim.

Aden is the temporary capital of Yemen’s internationally recognised government of President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi. Backed by a Saudi-led Arab coalition, Hadi’s government has been battling the Iran-aligned Houthi movement since 2015 in a war that had driven the country to the verge of famine.

The attack was the first one of its kind in southern Yemen since gunbattles erupted in January between southern separatists and the Hadi government over control of the city.

Officials at the city’s main Jumhouriya hospital said the bodies of five victims, most of them soldiers, had arrived at the facility, along with a number of injured people including civilians, but gave no precise figures.

Residents described two large explosions in the area that sent up a cloud of grey smoke while ambulances raced to evacuate the wounded.

Residents initially said one of the bombers targeted an office of the separatist Southern Transitional Council, but a member of the group said there was no attack on the building.

Full report at:



Yemen: Deadly car bomb attack hits Aden anti-terror camp

24 February 2018

A large number of people were killed and wounded in a bombing close to the anti-terrorism camp south of Aden, the temporary Yemeni capital, on Saturday.

A suicide bomber detonated a car bomb at the camp gate resulting in deaths. Those killed were, mainly civilians.

Information indicated that the car exploded in front of the outer gate of the camp which is located at the main road.

The camp is located in the Goldmor area in Al-Tawahi district, south of Aden.



Daesh not over, US relocating it: Iran’s Zarif

Feb 24, 2018

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif says the United States is regularly relocating Daesh terrorists to outside of the Middle East, where they had been based before losing all the territory they had occupied.

Foreign Minister Zarif made the remarks during an event called the Patterns of Regional Order in the Post-ISIS Era at the Tehran University on Saturday.

The US transfer of the Daesh elements from the Syrian cities of Hasakah, Mayadin, and Dayr al-Zawr as well as other areas to outside the region “is  a dangerous development that has had a regular pattern,” he said.

“Their (the terrorists’) communication network remains in place, their leaders remain [alive or at large], and they still receive financial support; so we must expect the re-emergence of the threat any day,” the Iranian foreign minister warned.

Zarif also stressed that although Daesh had been defeated territorially, its ideological and financial resources coming from the region and beyond had yet to be destroyed.

“One of the West’s major mistakes is that they believe that Daesh is over,” he said. “[But] the conditions that created Daesh in the region are still present. Daesh is the birth child of the US invasion of Iraq and, before that, the Israeli oppression against the Palestinian people.”

The top Iranian diplomat also put forward an initiative for security in the region that includes dialog in the Persian Gulf.

Daesh started offensives in Iraq and Syria in 2014, occupying territory in the two Arab countries and establishing a self-proclaimed “caliphate.” Soon, the Iraqi and Syrian armies — both receiving advisory military help from Iran — galvanized to retake Daesh-held territory.

The terrorist group was gradually stripped of all the land it had occupied in the two Arab countries.

Earlier this month, the Russian presidential envoy to Afghanistan said that there were indications that the US military was allowing Daesh terrorists to infiltrate Afghanistan after their defeats in Syria and Iraq.

“It’s noteworthy that the extremists themselves and weapons for them, according to numerous witness accounts, are often transferred to the territory of Afghanistan by helicopters without identifying insignia,” Zamir Kabulov said.

Full report at:



Hezbollah chief warns Lebanese nation against voting for pro-US candidates

Feb 24, 2018

The secretary general of the Hezbollah resistance movement has warned the Lebanese nation against voting for pro-US candidates in the forthcoming parliamentary elections, saying such contenders will simply hand over the Arab country to Americans.

Addressing his supporters via a televised speech from the eastern Lebanese city of Baalbek on Saturday evening, Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah called upon people from all walks of life to participate in the elections, which are scheduled to be held on May 6.

“Voters should consider national interests when picking candidates and voting for them. People should approach the upcoming legislative polls from the perspective of fulfilling responsibilities towards the country,” he said.

Nasrallah further noted, “Voters should not make their decisions on the basis of candidates’ family connections, religious or party affiliations.”

The Hezbollah chief went on to say that the movement’s legislators represented the entire Lebanese nation, and not simply their political bloc.

Nasrallah added that Lebanese voters should not cast their ballots in favor of those who would hand over the country to the US, compromise over oil reserves with the Israeli regime, conspire against Hezbollah or destroy the country’s economy.

He said when voting in parliamentary elections, people should ask themselves what Hezbollah had offered to Lebanon and the nation, concerning the anti-Israel resistance front, stability and services.

“Your support for Hezbollah in the elections preserves the blood of martyrs who sacrificed their lives for the sake of the resistance movement," Nasrallah said.

Full report at:



'MPs can help settle political differences between Egypt and Turkey,' Turkish MP tells reporters in Cairo

24 Feb 2018

Turkish MP Ali Arkscon told reporters in Cairo Saturday that in spite of political differences between Egypt and Turkey he is sure that these differences will be ironed out gradually.

"Egyptian-Turkish relations are based on strong foundations, and so I think that the two countries should do their best in the future to resolve differences between them," said Arkscon.

Arkscon, who was speaking on the sidelines of a meeting held by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Mediterranean in Cairo Saturday, said: "Egypt and Turkey are two powerful Islamic countries in the Muslim world and the Middle East and it is not good that they still have political differences."

"I can say that in official and popular terms Turkey respects Egypt very much," Arkscon added. "Also, as Turkish MPs we think we should play a greater role in settling differences between Islamic countries in general."

"I came here to Cairo to sit down with Egyptian MPs and with deputies from different countries and we accepted that the meeting be headed by an Egyptian (parliament speaker Ali Abdel-Aal), and that shows that any differences or difficulties between Egypt and Turkey can be settled gradually and that we as Turkish MPs have a strong wish to recover strong bilateral relations with Egypt."

Arkscon also said that "as a Turkish MP I am very happy to be here in Cairo today to help thawing the ice between Egypt and Turkey and let me thank Egypt's parliament speaker and Egyptian MPs for hosting us and for their generosity and hospitality."

Arkscon, who is a member of Turkish President Rcept Tayyib Erdogan's ruling Justice and Development Party, argued that Turkey has no maritime border problem with Egypt. "Turkey is just defending its water rights in the Mediterranean and its maritime borders with Cyprus."

He said he does not expect the dispute between Turkey and Cyprus to reach the stage of military confrontation.

Political relations between Egypt and Turkey have rapidly deteriorated since the 2013 ouster of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi. Erdogan led a hostile campaign against Cairo, refusing to recognise the regime led by President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi.

Egyptian officials and MPs have repeatedly accused Turkey and Qatar of supporting the banned Muslim Brotherhood group, helping some of its leading officials in Istanbul to own satellite television channels to target El-Sisi in person.

Egypt's interior ministry has also charged that many of the terrorist attacks in Egypt since 2013 have been masterminded by fugitive Brotherhood loylists in Turkey.

A parliamentary statement indicated Saturday that Egypt's parliament speaker Ali Abdel-Aal led a meeting of the bureau of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Mediterranean. "This is the second meeting of the Assembly under Egyptian chairmanship, and it was attended by parliamentary representatives from Italy, Turkey, France and Egypt," said the statement.

The statement also indicated that the meeting discussed the financial conditions of the Assembly and the necessity of building its headquarters very soon.

Full report at:





Death toll rises to 38 in Mogadishu bombings

February 25, 2018

MOGADISHU - Two car bombings killed 38 people in the Somali capital Mogadishu on Friday, the city's main ambulance service told AFP on Saturday.

"We have seen at least 38 people dead," said Abdukadir Abdurahman Aden of the Aamin Ambulance of the bombings that targeted the presidential palace and a hotel.

The first blast, followed by gunfire, occurred at a security checkpoint close to Villa Somalia, the name for the seat of government, while a second followed soon after at a hotel, according to police.

The Shabaab militant group claimed the attacks in a statement posted online, saying it was targeting the government and security services.

The blasts follow weeks of relative calm in Mogadishu . According to officials, the main attack involved the use of a vehicle loaded with explosives attempting to breach a checkpoint leading to the presidential palace, but security forces prevented the assault.

"The security forces foiled the intent of the terrorists. They were aiming for key targets but they could not even go closer, there were five of them killed by the security force," said Abdulahi Ahmed, a security officer.

The Shabaab is fighting to overthrow Somalia's internationally-backed government. In October it carried out its deadliest-ever bombing, killing over 500 people.

In the wake of that attack Somalia's government declared a fresh offensive against the group and US drone strikes have increased in frequency.

While the militant group was pushed out of the capital in 2011 by an African Union force it continues to control large parts of the countryside and launches regular attacks on government, military and civilian targets.



Nigeria says kills 5 Boko Haram militants


ABUJA, Feb. 24 (Xinhua) -- The Nigerian army on Saturday said five Boko Haram fighters were killed as troops intensify efforts to clear the remnants of the terror group in the country's northeast region.

Onyema Nwachukwu, an army spokesman in Maiduguri, capital of the northeastern state of Borno, said the five Boko Haram fighters were shot dead at a hideout in Parisu, near the Sambisa Forest, on Friday.

The troops also rescued three civilians from Boko Haram captivity during the operation, the army spokesman said.

According to Nwachukwu, the troops had been engaging the Boko Haram fighters since late Thursday.

Full report at:



Turkey condemns double car bombings in Somalia

24 February 2018

Turkey on Saturday condemned the double car bombings in the Somalia capital Mogadishu, where at least 18 people were killed and 20 others wounded on Feb. 23.

“We wish God’s mercy upon those who lost their lives in the attacks, convey our condolences to the families who lost their loved ones and wish speedy recovery to the wounded,” Turkey’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

“Turkey will maintain its strong solidarity with the Government and the brotherly people of Somalia in the wake of terrorist attacks targeting stability in Somalia,” the statement added.

On Friday, the first car bomb exploded near the Somalia presidential palace followed by a gun battle between security forces and terrorist al-Shabaab attackers, according to state media.

Internal Security Minister Mohamed Abukar Islow confirmed that security forces killed five al-Shabaab attackers after an hour-long battle near the presidential palace.

The second blast targeted a security checkpoint near the Somali national intelligence and security agency headquarters in Mogadishu.

Friday's double attack comes a day after Islow issued a warning of terrorist attacks at a Cabinet meeting.

According to local media, the Somali-based insurgent group al-Shabaab claimed responsibility for the Friday evening attack.

Full report at:



EU warns violent attacks threaten Tanzania's democracy

24 February 2018

A recent spate of violent attacks in Tanzania threaten the country's democracy, the European Union has said.

"We note with concern the recent developments which threaten democratic values and the rights of Tanzanians," the EU said in a statement Friday.

"We are worried by the rising number of reports of violence in the last months," the EU said.

On Friday the opposition Chadema party said one of its elected officials was murdered in "a political assassination" in the centre of the country.

Last September, senior opposition lawmaker Tundu Lissu survived being shot several times at his home in the capital Dodoma.

Full report at:



Muslim scholars tapped to fight extremism


FEBRUARY 25, 2018

DAVAO CITY: The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has tapped Muslim scholars to help in the Philippine’s counter-terrorism efforts by keeping young Muslims away from extremist ideologies.

About a hundred prominent Muslim scholars from across the country, mostly educated in the Middle East and Africa, gathered to throw their support behind the call of the custodian of two mosques in Saudi Arabia to end extremist ideologies wrongly attributed to the Islamic faith.

“Terrorism is a criminal phenomenon and it has nothing to do with religions and the Muslims,” the scholars said in a joint statement submitted to the Office of the Religious Attaché of Saudi Arabia’s Embassy in Manila.

They believe that “terrorism is the result of political and sectarian conflicts that stem from human values and moral responsibility and a result of misinterpretations of true teachings of Islam distorting the image of the religion leading to some leaning to retaliate with extreme force.”

The scholars are composed of businessmen and clerics that are operating Madrasas (Islamic schools), mosques and religious organizations in the country.

Among them are prominent members of the Agama Islam Society, the Markazus Shabab al-Muslim Fil-Filibbin, the Mercy Foundation, the Al-Maarif in Baguio and the Regional Darul Ifta of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao together with other religious groups and individuals.

The group pledged to start confronting their members and followers in their respective homes, schools, mosques and other places to keep them away from extremism.

The scholars also submitted 24 recommendations to the KSA, including the formation of a committee or council of scholars that would serve as a national umbrella for Muslim religious groups and institutions operating in the country that would also deal with fatwa [Islamic rulings] being issued locally and other Islamic issues.

Saudi Arabia, through its religious attaché in the country, welcomed the inputs and thanked the scholars participating in its worldwide campaign to combat extremism and terrorism.

“We are thankful to Allah that we are here united in realizing our aims,” Fares Al-Mutairi, Saudi Religious Attaché, said.

Marawi City is still reeling from a five-month siege instigated by militants of the Maute Group, which had earlier pledged allegiance to the Islamic State.

Al-Mutairi, meanwhile, responded to claims that it has not been keen on helping Marawi City residents rebuild their lives.

He said Saudi Arabia is merely waiting for a “go-signal” from the government before it could deploy its resources to help rehabilitate the ravaged city.

Full report at:



Al-Shabaab claims Somalia blasts that kill 18


Mogadishu - The Somalia-based extremist group al-Shabaab is claiming responsibility for the twin blasts in Mogadishu that have killed at least 18 people and injured 20 others.

Al-Shabaab made the claim late on Friday via its Andalus radio arm.

The explosions shattered months of relative calm in Somalia's capital, which is often a target of al-Shabaab.

Police say one blast occurred near Somalia's intelligence headquarters. The second occurred near the headquarters of parliament.




New Age IslamIslam OnlineIslamic WebsiteAfrican Muslim NewsArab World NewsSouth Asia NewsIndian Muslim NewsWorld Muslim NewsWomen in IslamIslamic FeminismArab WomenWomen In ArabIslamophobia in AmericaMuslim Women in WestIslam Women and Feminism