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Islamic World News ( 7 May 2016, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Tom and Jerry Are Terrorists: Egyptian Official Blames Kids' Cartoon for Rise of ISIS
















© Jonni Valentayn / YouTube

 

Arab World

Tom and Jerry Are Terrorists: Egyptian Official Blames Kids' Cartoon for Rise of ISIS

Saudi Cleric Says Muslim Countries should not Punish Homosexuals

Over 200 Militants Lay Down Arms in Syria's Homs

17 ISIL Terrorists Killed in Syrian Army's Missile Attack in Deir Ezzur

Syria: Al-Qaeda Reports Loss of Tens of Militants in Khan Touman

Egypt court recommends death for two Al-Jazeera employees

Terrorists in Aleppo Pounding Each Other with Mortar, Artillery Fire

New Saudi minister is believer in reform and low oil price

Saudi policeman dies in shoot-out as 'terror' plot foiled

Iraqi, Lebanese, Syrian Social Media Users Appreciate General Soleimani

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South Asia

Suspected Islamists Kill Sufi Leader in Bangladesh

Detained Bomber Speaks About Brainwashing Techniques in Miranshah Camps

78 Militants Killed In Latest Air and Ground Raids of Afghan Forces: MoD

45 Militants Killed, 80 Wounded In Failed Taliban Attack in Kunar

Taliban and Afghan police suffer casualties in Lashkargah city clash

15 Afghans recruited by Iran killed during a clash in Syria

52 dead after buses collide with tanker in Afghanistan

Six Taliban inmates on death row hanged: Afghan govt

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Europe

UK-Trained Navy Officer 'Joins the Islamic State'

Sadiq Khan's Meteoric Rise from London Housing Estate to City Hall

London's mayor Sadiq Khan condemns Cameron's 'Trump-style' attacks

Historic Bosnian mosque reopens in move towards reconciliation

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India

Four Were Told That Jihad Only Solution

Cops Fail to Link 4 Of 10 Held To 'JeM Plot', Let Them Off

Hunger Has No Religion: This 79-Year-Old Attaullah Shariff Fed Over 1 Cr Poor Since 40 Years

3 J&K Ultras Killed: Fearing Stir, Train Services Stalled

Pakistan disowns dead Pathankot militants

Kill saffron netas, get South Africa jobs, said D-Company

Militants flee with rifles in Jammu & Kashmir

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Mideast

Erdogan Pours Cold Water On Hopes of Progress on EU Deal

55 ISIL Militants Killed As Turkish Military Hits Positions in Syria

Treasury guarantees were a critical rift between Erdoğan and Davutoğlu, sources say

Police expand investigation in Dündar attack as details emerge

Turkish PM’s departure ‘raises investor concerns over significant uncertainty’

Euro Investment Bank offers Turkey help for refugees

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Southeast Asia

Indonesia's Muslim Cyber Warriors Take On IS

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North America

ISI Made Haqqani Taliban's No. 2 to Protect Him from US: Report

US asks Pakistan suppress militants pursuing cross-border attacks

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Pakistan

Prominent Pakistani Anti-Militant Activist Shot Dead in Karachi

Trust Deficit Must Be Removed For Better Ties with India, Says Pakistan

Some improvement but no permanent cure yet for Pakistan's 'solar kids'

Pakistan-origin Chinese engineer ‘goes missing’

WTO chief advises Pakistan to devise business-friendly border rules

Mourners offer funeral prayers for Khurram Zaki outside CM House

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Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau

URL: http://www.newageislam.com/islamic-world-news/new-age-islam-news-bureau/tom-and-jerry-are-terrorists--egyptian-official-blames-kids--cartoon-for-rise-of-isis/d/107231

 

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Tom and Jerry are… terrorists? Egyptian official blames kids' cartoon for rise of ISIS

7 May, 2016

The head of Egypt’s State Information Service believes he has pinpointed the cause of increasing violence and extremism in the Middle East. It’s cartoon cat and mouse duo, Tom and Jerry, he says.

During an address at Cairo University on Tuesday, Salah Abdel Sadek blamed the classic cartoons, which feature comically unrealistic “battles” between a dim-witted cat and cunning mouse, for encouraging young men towards violent actions.

Abdel Sadek also claimed video games and “violent” movies play an important influential role alongside the cartoons.

“Video games are spreading… It has become very normal for a young man to spend long hours playing video games, killing and spilling blood and he’s happy and content,” he said, according to Egyptian Streets.

Speaking of Tom and Jerry, Abdel Sadek suggested the show facilitates violent behavior by creating the impression that violence is natural.

“It portrays the violence in a funny manner and sends the message that, yes, I can hit him…and I can blow him up with explosives,” he said.

He added that when young people are put under social pressure to resort to violence, they consider it normal and justifiable.

Abdel Sadek’s comments have been met with ridicule on social media.

Violence on TV and in video games have long been blamed for a surge in real life violence.

In 2012, the NRA (National Rifle Association) blamed violent  video games for mass shootings in the US.

The Simpsons famously created a satire around onscreen violence and censorship in an episode where baby Maggie attacks her father Homer with a mallet, and Marge blames it on the “Itchy and Scratchy Show” - a parody of Tom and Jerry.

However, research on any potential link between violent video games and violent behavior has produced differing results.

Massachusetts General Hospital countered the NRA’s claim in 2012 by saying that scientific research had not demonstrated the lobby group’s “assertion that violent video games and movies cause violent behavior.”

A recent study by the American Psychological Association concluded playing violent video games is linked to increased aggression in players, but noted insufficient evidence exists about whether the link actually extends to criminal violence or delinquent behavior.

https://www.rt.com/viral/342197-cartoons-violence-isis-egypt/

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Saudi Cleric Says Muslim Countries should not Punish Homosexuals

Saturday 7 May 2016

Rabat – Salman al-Ouda, a leading cleric in Saudi Arabia, said that the government should not punish individuals for homosexuality, even though he believes it to be a sin according to Islam.

During his visit with Syrian refugees in Sweden, the Saudi cleric said that punishment for homosexuals should come only from God, claiming that homosexuals will be punished “after death.”

In an interview with the Swedish daily Sydsvenskan, the cleric stressed that “one of the fundamentals of Islam is man’s freedom to act as he wants.”

“Homosexuals are not deviating from Islam,” al-Ouda said. “Homosexuality is a grave sin, but those who say that homosexuals deviate from Islam are the real deviators. By condemning homosexuals to death they are committing a graver sin than homosexuality itself.”

The Muslim cleric added that homosexuality, which still carries the death penalty in Saudi Arabia, is considered “a sin in all the Semitic holy books,” however, “it does not require any punishment in this world.”

Al-Ouda evidently remains confident that homosexual conduct will be punished “after death.”

It is a sin that will accompany its committer in the life after death,” Al-Ouda said.

Today, the cleric is against criminally punishing homosexuality. However, he said that Islam does not “encourage individuals who have same-sex attraction to show their feelings in public.”

According to the Jerusalem Post, the Saudi cleric’s statements have already provoked controversy in his country and in the Islamic world. A campaign under the hashtag “Al-Ouda permits homosexuality” was launched on Twitter.

“According to Sharia law, homosexuals should be killed. How can you say homosexuality should not be punishable, Sheikh?” Fadi Matiri, a Saudi citizen posted on Twitter, according to the same source.

http://www.moroccoworldnews.com/2016/05/186038/saudi-cleric-says-muslim-countries-should-not-punish-homosexuals/

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Suspected Islamists kill Sufi leader in Bangladesh

AFP | May 7, 2016

DHAKA: A local Sufi leader has been found hacked to death in Bangladesh in a suspected Islamist killing, police said on Saturday; two weeks after the Islamic State group claimed the murder of a liberal professor in the same northwestern district.

Mohammad Shahidullah, 65, went missing after leaving home on Friday morning, until villagers last night found his body in a pool of blood in a mango grove in Rajshahi.

"He was not a famous Sufi. But there could be a possibility that he was killed by Islamist militants," Rajshahi district police chief Nisharul Arif told AFP.

The police officer said the killing of the self-proclaimed Sufi master was "similar" to a recent spate of hacking murders of religious minorities in the country.

"He was slaughtered from his neck and there are also some deep gashes in his throat," Abdur Razzak, a local police official said, adding that "he had scores of followers in a nearby district".

Sufi Islam is a mystical form of Islam popular in rural Bangladesh but considered deviant by many of the country's majority Sunni Muslims.

They include the Saudi-inspired Salafis and Wahabis, who are gaining strength in the country.

Suspected Islamists have carried out dozens of murders of atheist bloggers, liberal voices and religious minorities in recent years including Sufi, Shia and Ahmadi Muslims, Hindus, Christians and foreigners.

In the past five weeks, two gay activists, a liberal professor, an atheist activist and a Hindu tailor who allegedly made derogatory remarks about the Prophet Muhammad were hacked to death by suspected Islamist militants.

Some of the attacks have been claimed by the Islamic State group and a local branch of al-Qaida, although Dhaka denies the transnational groups have any presence in the country.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/south-asia/Sufi-leader-killed-by-suspected-Islamists-in-Bangladesh/articleshow/52165545.cms

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UK-Trained Navy Officer 'Joins the Islamic State'

8 MAY 2016

A UK-trained naval officer has reportedly joined the Islamic State (Isil), raising fears he could use his knowledge of British maritime activity for terror attacks.

Ali Alosaimi, a 28-year-old Kuwaiti, spent three years training on a Merchant Navy officer's course in Britain before joining the jihadist group, according to the Mail on Sunday.

He reportedly trained at South Tyneside College’s Marine School in South Shields before heading to Syria and joining Isil in April 2014.

On an "entry form" the jihadist group uses to track foreign fighters, Alosaimi said he had been educated as a "navy officer in Britain".

Before coming to the UK he reportedly worked for a state-owned Kuwaiti oil tanker company.

What does Islamic State want?Play! 01:33

While Isil and other terror groups have more commonly targeted passenger planes, Western governments have long feared that they could try to attack shipping routes or oil tankers - potentially disrupting world trade or causing a major environmental disaster.

Alosaimi's maritime knowledge could be a valuable asset to Isil in planning such an attack.

The Kuwaiti apparently did not complete his training course but if he had he might have been eligible to work on civilian ships that help supply the Royal Navy.

He reportedly did not finish the exams required for his marine license.

A roommate in South Shields told the Mail that Alosaimi had become radicalised in response to the killing of thousands of Syrian civilians by Syrian president Bashar al-Assad.

Facebook pictures show him clean shaven but he reportedly grew more religious over time and grew a beard and began preaching to family members.

He cut off contact with his family in 2013. Alosaimi may have had a younger brother who joined the Islamic State and was killed in battle in Syria.

It is not clear what happened to Alosaimi himself or even if he is still alive. On the Isil entry form it is claimed he said he wanted to be a fighter rather than a suicide bomber.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/05/08/pic--pub-uk-trained-navy-officer-joins-the-islamic-state/

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Four Were Told That Jihad Only Solution

But Will Keep Youths under Watch for 1 Yr

Three days after police claimed to have foiled a Jaish-e-Muhammed plot for a Pathankot-style attack in NCR, four of the 10 detained suspects were let off on Saturday as there was no evidence to link them to the conspiracy. The youths, questioned by the special cell for three days, admitted to attending an indoctrination session conducted by the prime accused, Sajid, and receiving Jihadi literature but said there was no mention of Jaish or a terrorist strike. Sajid had told them to go about their lives as usual until asked to “take the path of jihad“.

Three of the youths -Mohseen (32), Zeeshan (18) and Imran (30) -are residents of Chand Bagh in northeast Delhi while 23-year-old Iman lives in Loni, Ghaziabad. The four will be under police surveillance for a year and have been told to attend counselling sessions. A psychologist will meet the four every week and file reports on their mental condition.

Family members of Im ran, who had recently landed a job as a salesperson with an automobile company, say the release will do him little good. “We fear he might have to look for a new job now since all his colleagues are aware of the reason he was taken to the police station for questioning,“ said his father, Farooq Khan.He has been asked to inform the local police if he goes for outstation assignments. Mohseen's father-in-law Sajjad, who has been visiting the south Delhi police station ever since the detention, says the 32-year-old has to inform police every time he leaves Chand Bagh, even for work. “We are relieved that he is back now. We have asked him to keep a low profile and focus on his business,“ said Sajjad.

Sajid, who was in touch with Jaish chief Maulana Masood Azhar's brother on WhatsApp and had planned the strike on Hindon airbase to prove his worth to his handlers, got to know Mohseen as both lived in the same locality. Sajid met Zeeshan at a mosque near their house where he gave him books on jihad. Imran met Sajid during a prayer session at which the Jaish operative convinced the youth to attend one of their indoctrination sessions at a house in Gokulpuri in December 2015. The four told interrogators that Sajid had spoken about jihad at the session and given them Urdu pamphlets which contained inflammatory preachings. They were also shown sermons titled Sada-E-Mujahid, Elaan-eJung and Jihad-Raah-e-Nijaat. Sajid reportedly told them that Muslims were suffering across the world and jihad was the only solution. They were also shown videos of the war in Afghanistan and Syria.

Sajid, Samir and another operative, Shakir, are suspected to have assembled IEDs for simultaneous blasts at several places, in a terror strike planned for the month-end. The trio and three other accused will be interrogated further during which their conversations on WhatsApp and other social media platforms would be verified with their statements, sources said. Police have sought the help of Computer Emergency Response Team to trace the conversations.

http://epaperbeta.timesofindia.com/Article.aspx?eid=31808&articlexml=Four-were-told-that-jihad-only-solution-08052016005048

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Arab World

 

Over 200 Militants Lay Down Arms in Syria's Homs

TEHRAN (FNA)- A group of 210 militants laid down arms and surrendered to Syrian government in the city of Homs on Sunday, a source in the city said.

"The move by the militants in Homs city was a part of the national reconciliation program and the work on the rehabilitation of 210 former militants who were active in the Homs' industrial area of Hisya has begun after they laid down their arms," the source said.

The reconciliation program in Syria, for the militant to turn themselves in, began in 2013. The program stipulates that former militants have the opportunity to resume peaceful life after surrendering their arms to the Syrian army and undergoing rehabilitation process.

The program proved successful when, in 2013, some 1,500 fighters laid down arms in Homs, thus enabling the Syrian army to regain control of the city center.

Since late April, the Syrian air force has been dropping leaflets to invite the militant groups across the Central province of Homs to give up fight.

The militants formerly fighting in the Southern battlefields of the country surrendered to the Syrian government as the forces loyal to the Syrian President Bashar Assad continue gaining ground across the country.

Earlier today, 38 militants laid down their arms and turned themselves in to the Syrian officials as the pro-government forces keep on advancing across Hasaka province.

The militants surrendered to the competent authorities in Qamishli (a Kurdish-majority area in Northeastern Syria) in Hasaka province.

Early March, around 80 militants had also laid down their arms and turned themselves in to the Syrian officials in Damascus.

Also last month, more than 97 militants, formerly operating in Homs province, laid down their arms and turned themselves in to the Syrian officials.

Late February, around 250 militants in the Southern province of Dara'a laid down their arms and turned themselves in to the Syrian officials as the pro-government forces keep on advancing across the country.

Also in the same month, at least 59 militants in two provinces of Damascus and Idlib turned themselves in to the Syrian authorities.

Also, 27 Takfiri militants laid down arms and turned themselves in to the Syrian army in Homs, Hama and Idlib provinces in February.

Reports said also in late December that some 157 wanted militants turned themselves in to the Syrian authorities.

Some 117 wanted persons from Homs surrendered to be pardoned.

Meanwhile, 40 wanted persons from the provinces of Damascus and Hama also turned themselves in to the authorities.

Early in January, 86 wanted persons from Damascus province and Aleppo also gave up fight.

City officials also announced on December 22 that at least 15 militants laid down arms and surrendered to the competent authorities in Aleppo after the army and the country's popular forces' victories across the province.

Until last year, most surrendering cases happened in Homs and Damascus provinces, but now a growing number of militants lay down arms across the country. As the army scores more wins across Syria more militants lay down arms to save their lives.

Some 116 Takfiri militants turned themselves in to the Syrian army in Homs province on December 20.

On December 12, some 20 wanted Takfiri terrorists in Hama province gave up fight and turned themselves in to the authorities to enjoy the general amnesty issued by President Bashar Al-Assad that has been in place for the last several years.

Some 200 wanted militants from Zabadani region and Madaya in Damascus province also surrendered earlier in December.

"The Syrian government has vowed to pardon all those who lay down arms voluntarily and it has remained loyal to its pledge so far, and this has encouraged us to give up fight, specially considering that the government troops, National Defense Forces (NDF) and Hezbollah who also enjoy the air backup of the Syrian and Russian air forces has gained momentum in its battlefield victories," one of those who surrendered in Damascus on December 5 said.

President Bashar Assad’s government freed 270 militants within the framework of the country's reconciliation plan on December 11.

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13950219001239

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17 ISIL Terrorists Killed in Syrian Army's Missile Attack in Deir Ezzur

 

TEHRAN (FNA)- The Syrian army continued pounding the ISIL's military positions in Deir Ezzur in Eastern Syria, and killed over a dozen Takfiri terrorists in a missile attack on Sunday.

At least 17 ISIL terrorists were killed in the Syrian army's missile attack in Deir Ezzur province in Eastern Syria today.

The ISIL's military and armored vehicles were also destroyed in the army's missile attack on their military positions.

In a relevant development earlier on Sunday, the Syrian army and Air Force targeted the ISIL concentration centers and gatherings in seven key regions across the Eastern province of Deir Ezzur and inflicted major losses on the terrorists.

The Syrian soldiers' attacks on the ISIL positions in the Eastern side of airport, Haweija Sakar, and the village of al-Jafreh, ended in the killing or wounding of scores of the militants.

In the meantime, the Syrian army men and the country's fighter jets struck the ISIL positions near the villages of al-Mura'yeh South of Euphrates River and al-Jafreh, which claimed the lives of several terrorists and destroyed their military hardware.

The ISIL strongholds near two districts of al-Sina'ah and al-Umal came under heavy bombardments of the Syrian air fleet, which inflicted a heavy death toll the terrorists.

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13950219000968

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Syria: Al-Qaeda Reports Loss of Tens of Militants in Khan Touman

 

TEHRAN (FNA)- Al-Qaeda-affiliated websites confirmed on Sunday that 30 more of their militants were killed and 12 others were wounded during clashes with the pro-government forces in the strategic town of Khan Touman on Sunday.

The Syrian army and its allies increased their missile and artillery attacks on terrorists' positions in Khan Touman in the Southern parts of Aleppo today, forcing the militants to request help from their comrades in other terrorist groups.

According to military sources, the terrorists' positions in Khan Touman were pounded by over 100 missiles around midday and forced a large number of Jaish al-Adl terrorists to withdraw from the region.

After the terrorist groups confirmed the death of tens of their members in Khan Touman, two teams of al-Qaeda-affiliated groups and the so-called Turkmen Islamic Party came to their aide in Khan Touman and Khalediya, but they were caught in the Syrian army forces' ambush in Tal Bastawi region.

The Syrian Army announced a few minutes ago that its troops and their allies continued to push back the terrorist groups from their strongholds in the Southern part of Aleppo province and seized control over more territories near Khan Touman following several hours of non-stop battle.

The Syrian government forces, including the Iraqi and Lebanese Hezbollah, stormed the defense lines of the terrorist groups near Tal Bastawi and inflicted heavy casualties on the Takfiri terrorists before they fled the battlefield.

The Syrian military forces captured Tal Bastawi and started to fortify their positions there.

The pro-government forces, meantime, repelled the terrorists' offensive near the village of Abu Reil and killed at least 25 of them.

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13950219001138

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Egypt court recommends death for two Al-Jazeera employees

AP | May 7, 2016, 08.04 PM IST

CAIRO: An Egyptian court on Saturday recommended the death penalty for three journalists and three others charged with endangering national security by leaking state secrets and documents to Qatar.

Jordanian national Alaa Omar Sablan and Ibrahim Mohammed Helal, who both work for Qatar-based broadcaster Al Jazeera, and Asmaa Al Khateeb, a reporter for Rassd, a pro-Muslim Brotherhood news network, were sentenced in absentia. They can appeal.

The sentence is the latest since a crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood after an army takeover stripped former president Mohammed Mursi of power in 2013 following mass protests against his rule. Mursi and other Brotherhood leaders, as well as leading figures from the 2011 popular uprising that toppled Hosni Mubarak, many of them secular activists and journalists, are now in jail.

Following Saturday's ruling, a final decision is expected on June 18, after the sentence has been referred to the top religious authority, the Grand Mufti, for a non-binding opinion.

Judge Mohammed Shireen Fahmy, who announced the verdict, also said that a ruling against Mursi and several others charged in the same case, would be postponed to the same date.

Prosecutors in Saturday's case argued that Mursi's aides were involved in leaking sensitive documents to Qatari intelligence that exposed the location of weapons held by the Egyptian armed forces.

Defence lawyers said that documents were moved out of the presidential palace to protect them during growing protests against Mursi's rule, but this process was not the responsibility of the president and the documents presented in the case show no signs of spying.

"The case's documents are devoid of any type of espionage or participation in it," a defence lawyer said.

Mursi has been sentenced in three other cases. He has been awarded the death penalty for a mass jail break during the 2011 uprising and a life sentence for spying.

Qatar had supported Mursi, who is in jail along with thousands of Brotherhood members, many of whom have been sentenced to death on separate charges.

Relations between Qatar, a Gulf Arab state, and Egypt have been icy since July 2013 when Egypt's then-army chief Abdel Fattah al-Sisi overthrew Mursi.

Sisi says the Brotherhood poses a serious threat to security despite the crackdown, which has weakened what was once Egypt's most organised political group.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/rest-of-world/Egypt-court-recommends-death-for-two-Al-Jazeera-employees/articleshow/52167015.cms

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Terrorists in Aleppo Pounding Each Other with Mortar, Artillery Fire

 

TEHRAN (FNA)- The ISIL resumed attacks against other terrorist groups in the Northern parts of Aleppo on Sunday to extend its clout in the region.

The ISIL attacked the gathering centres of other terrorist groups in Northern Aleppo in several missile attacks after its own positions were pounded by coalition fighter jets.

Salih al-Zain, a field commander of terrorists stationed in the Northern parts of Aleppo, said that the ISIL attacked the town of Mare' with several Katyusha and mortar shells, but the attack failed to inflict any casualties on other terrorist groups.

Also, the ISIL launched an offensive on the strongholds of other terrorist groups near the border village of Sandaf which was repelled by Faylaq al-Sultan Murad and Faylaq al-Sham militants and forced the ISIL members to withdraw.

According to field sources, the mortar and artillery fire is still being exchanged between the ISIL and other terrorist groups present in the region.

Some 30 ISIL terrorists were killed and scores more were injured after its positions near a key village in the Northern part of Aleppo province near the border with Turkey came under attack by rival terrorist groups on Saturday.

The terrorist groups stormed the ISIL lines of defense in the village of Dalha and drove the terrorist rivals back from its positions after several hours of non-stop infighting.

The terrorist groups took back Dalha and started to fortify their position inside and outside of the village.

Late in April, several terrorists of Faylaq al-Sultan Murad were killed in clashes with ISIL in Northern Aleppo province.

Faylaq al-Sultan Murad, affiliated to the Free Syrian Army, confirmed that at least eight members of the group were killed in fierce clashes with the ISIL near the village of Tal Hossein.

A number of the ISIL terrorists were wounded in the clashes.

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13950219001043

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New Saudi minister is believer in reform and low oil price

Reuters | May 8, 2016

DUBAI: It was January 2016 and oil prices had crashed to their lowest in more than a decade.

Saudi Arabia's health minister, Khalid al-Falih, a favourite to take over the oil ministry from his mentor Ali al-Naimi, was not panicking.

Falih told an audience of oil executives, bankers and policymakers at the World Economic Forum in Davos that the world's top oil exporter might benefit from oil below $30 per barrel.

It could help to speed up reform and restructure the economy, and move Saudi Arabia to a smaller and more effective government and unleash its private sector, he said.

For decades Saudi Arabia, a de facto leader of OPEC, had targeted certain oil price levels. If it did not like the price, it would try to orchestrate a production cut or increase together with its fellow OPEC members.

Things were different this time. For the first time in decades, output cuts were not on the agenda to fix the growing global glut that Saudi Arabia helped create by ramping up supply to drive higher-cost producers such as US shale firms out of the market.

Also for the first time in decades, a royal rather than a non-royal - Deputy Crown Price Mohammed bin Salman - had been appointed a few month earlier to oversee Saudi oil policies and drive the massive change.

Do you not think Prince Mohammed, who is just 30, is doing it all a bit too fast for the generally conservative Saudi society, Falih was asked.

"The Royal Highness is very ambitious where he wants Saudi Arabia to be sooner rather later. I can assure you that everybody who works around him is very excited by his vision and energized by his energy," Falih told the audience.

"Some people were concerned that we were too slow in the past.. As a former runner, I can tell you that it helps to go through sprints at times to develop your muscular strengths. We are accelerating reform."

The writing was on the wall, said the executives leaving the Davos conference. Falih would soon become oil minister reporting to Prince Mohammed, who is quickly turning into the world's most powerful oil figure.

Three months later, Prince Mohammed had a chance to showcase his might when he effectively ordered the Saudi delegation led by Naimi not to agree to a global production freeze deal with OPEC and non-OPEC Russia.

Fellow OPEC members accused Naimi, who initially said he liked the deal, of no longer speaking with the voice of authority. Three weeks later on Saturday, Naimi was gone and Falih became energy minister.

"It is an end of an era when Naimi fought hard and struggled to create a price environment which would have been good for both consumers and producers," said Gary Ross, a veteran OPEC watcher and founder of New York-based consultancy PIRA.

"We are moving to a new era where OPEC will no longer be managing the market while supply and demand will determine the price. The new Saudi oil leadership believes the market will dictate the price and that means higher volatility. We will see higher highs and lower lows," Ross said.

IMPETUS TO REFORM

Naimi, born in 1935, had orchestrated several OPEC oil output cuts and increases since taking on the oil minister job in 1995.

The former Saudi Aramco's clerk-turned-chairman saw oil priced as low as $9 per barrel during the Asian financial crisis at the end of 1990s, as high as $147 in 2008 and back to $36 several months later after the collapse of Lehman Brothers.

Rumours about Naimi being finally allowed to retire have been hitting the market periodically in the past four years.

But even though the Riyadh-born and US-educated Falih has long been tipped to replace Naimi, his fortunes and career kept zigzagging from Saudi Aramco's chairman to health minister until finally securing the job on Saturday - combining energy, industry and mineral resources in a new super ministry.

Falih takes the job in a much better market environment compared to January - oil prices have indeed recovered from their January lows of $27 per barrel to trade at around $45 last week on th prospect that the market has began to rebalance thanks to lower U.S. output.

Born in 1960, Falih joined Aramco in 1979, and went to study engineering at Texas A&M University in 1982 on an Aramco sponsorship programme.

Falih probably knows every oil chief executive in the world as he was the key negotiator behind a Saudi initiative to jointly develop gas resources with oil majors in early 2000.

Over the past year, when Naimi was carefully choosing his words or not commenting at all, Falih has become more vocal about his views that the oil market needs to rebalance through low prices and that the Saudis have the resources to wait.

"That doesn't really point to somebody who would invest a lot of time and energy in trying to reconcile different OPEC members," said Richard Mallinson from Energy Aspects.

Falih says job creation and economic reforms are top worries for the Saudi government these days, not an obsession with oil price levels.

"Those transitions sometimes take years, sometimes decades. The current low oil prices will give us an impetus to accelerate this," Falih said in Davos in January.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/middle-east/New-Saudi-minister-is-believer-in-reform-and-low-oil-price/articleshow/52172702.cms

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Saudi policeman dies in shoot-out as 'terror' plot foiled

AFP — PUBLISHED ABOUT 2 HOURS AGO

RIYADH: A Saudi policeman was killed in a shoot-out Sunday with suspects planning a “terrorist” attack, the interior ministry said, in the latest such incident this week in the kingdom's west.

The two gunmen were trying to "infiltrate" a police station parking area in the western Taif province to carry out a "terrorist act", the ministry said in a statement on the official SPA news agency.

As they realised that they were being monitored, the men opened machinegun fire at police and fled in a waiting vehicle.

Chased by security forces, they abandoned the vehicle and fled into a residential area, the statement said. An exchange of fire left policeman Saeed al-Harithi dead, it said.

Security forces surrounded the area and were searching for the suspects, it said, adding that a suicide vest and nine improvised explosives were found.

The past week has seen a rise in such incidents in the kingdom, where the militant Islamic State (IS) group has previously claimed bombings and other attacks targeting security forces.

On Thursday, a Saudi police officer was shot dead after four suspected militants died during a raid in the area between Taif and the region of Makkah.

http://www.dawn.com/news/1257082/saudi-policeman-dies-in-shoot-out-as-terror-plot-foiled

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Iraqi, Lebanese, Syrian Social Media Users Appreciate General Soleimani

 

TEHRAN (FNA)- The number of users of social media in different regional states, including Iraq, Lebanon and Syria, who are hailing Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) Quds Force Commander Major General Qassem Soleimani for leading campaign against terrorism in the region is increasing every day.

Arab activists from different Middle-Eastern countries used #Shokran (Thank You in Arabic) Soleimani and #Shokran Iran on their web pages and tweeter accounts to show admiration of and appreciation for the Iranian General's efforts, braveness and sacrifices in fighting terrorism.

The large number of tweets and posts to hail the Iranian General has astonished many political analysts and critics in the Arab world.

The users also wrote short sentences and used photos of General Soleimani and the Iranian flag on their web pages to show appreciation.

"The life of millions of people in different countries was endangered (by terrorism) but the danger was obviated only due to the presence of this man," Abdullah Jaberi, an Arab activist, wrote on his tweeter page.

Also Assad Haider, another social media activist, prayed God to help General Soleimani, and said God willing he will command the operations to annihilate the al-Saud.

Among females, Rahif al-Baidani wrote on her tweeter page that were Major General Soleimani not in Iraq, the country's leaders would be enslaved by ISIL and sold in Riqqa's market in Syria.

Iran is providing Iraq and Syria with military advisory and humanitarian aid in their fight against terrorist groups.

General Soleimani said in March that Takfiri terrorism threatens all Muslims, and Iran has waged war on those terrorists that trade enslaved women and children.

"The fire of Takfiri and Takfirism has engulfed in homes of our Sunni brothers. Those behind this are under the illusion that they can bring Shiism and the Islamic Republic to their knees. More than anywhere else, Takfiri groups have targeted the sanctity of humanity and the Sunni world," General Soleimani said, addressing a ceremony in Tehran.

General Soleimani then asked those behind the smear campaign to question Iran's policy in its ongoing war on terror, "Is it adventurism if the Islamic Republic makes sacrifices to defend Muslims? Is it wrong for the Islamic Republic to battle a group that in just one region is buying and selling some 20,000 unfortunate enslaved young women? Is it wrong for the Islamic Republic to stand against the anti-Muslim current and stop the demolition of Mosques and Muslim holy sites?"

His remarks came after Iraqi Minister of Human Rights Mohammed Mahdi Ameen al-Bayati said the Takfiri ISIL terrorist group has sold more than 5,000 women and girls merely from Iraq’s Izadi Kurdish minority in their slave market.

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13950219000489

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South Asia

 

Detained bomber speaks about brainwashing techniques in Miranshah camps

By KHAAMA PRESS - Sun May 08 2016

A would-be suicide bomber who was detained the Afghan security forces has spoken regarding the training camps in Miramshah, the administrative headquarters of North Waziristan.

Identified as Nematullah, the would be bomber was trained in the training camps in Miramshah and was assigned to attack the district administrative headquarters of Tagab in Kapisa.

The National Directorate of Security (NDS) said the suspect was identified and was arrested by the intelligence operatives before he manage to carry out the attack.

Nematullah has confessed that he was recruited by a Taliban commander Mawlavi Ataullah and was sent to Miramshah for training.

According to Nematullah, the trainers were adding medicines to their tea every morning in a bid to help wash their brains and prepare them for the attack.

He said the trainees were forgetting everything by having the medicine and were concentrating on terrorist activities which were taught to them in the camp.

This comes as the Afghan officials have long been criticizing Pakistan for allowing the Afghan anti-government armed militants to use their soil as sanctuaries for conducting attacks in Afghanistan.

The Taliban group leadership as well as the notorious Haqqani terrorist network are openly operating in Pakistan by establishing councils in Peshawar and Quetta cities.

President Ghani earlier asked Pakistan to take actions against the Taliban group leaderships based in Peshawar and Quetta cities of Pakistan.

http://www.khaama.com/detained-bomber-speaks-about-brainwashing-techniques-in-miranshah-camps-0876

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78 militants killed in latest air and ground raids of Afghan forces: MoD

By KHAAMA PRESS - Sun May 08 2016

At least 28 militants were killed and 19 others were wounded in the latest air and ground operations of the Afghan National Security Forces, the Ministry of Defense (MoD) said.

“In the last 24 hours, as a result of the joint clearance operations of the Afghan security and defense forces aimed to topple down the insurgents and protect the lives and property of people , 78 armed insurgents were killed, dozens were wounded and 6 arrested,” MoD said in a statement.

The statement further added that the operations were conducted in a number of the districts of Kunar, Nangarhar, Laghman, Paktia, Maidan Wardak, Kandahar, Uruzgan, Zabul, Balkh, Herat, Jawzjan, Baghlan, Kunduz, Takhar and Helmand provinces.

The joint operations were supported by heavy artillery and Air forces, MoD said, adding that 45 insurgents were killed, 80 others wounded in Ghaziabad district of Kunar.

MoD also added that 10 others were killed in Chardara district of Kunduz, while 2 ISIS loyalists were killed in eastern Nangarhar province of Afghanistan.

According to MoD, at least 3 others were killed in a separate operation in Keshk Kohna district of Herat and 5 others were killed in Paktia.

At least 5 more were killed in and 4 others were wounded during another operation conducted in Wardak province, MoD said, adding that 4 more were killed in Takhar and Zabul provinces and 4 others were wounded.

“Afghan National Army as National Defense Forces for the protection of peoples’ lives and properties and for defeating and eradicating terror groups, will fight the enemies vigorously and are ready to give sacrifices for bringing lasting peace and stability to people,” the statement said.

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

http://www.khaama.com/78-militants-killed-in-latest-air-and-ground-raids-of-afghan-forces-mod-0786

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45 militants killed, 80 wounded in failed Taliban attack in Kunar

By KHAAMA PRESS - Sun May 08 2016

Taliban rebelsAt least 45 militants were killed and around 80 others were wounded in a failed Taliban coordinated attack in eastern Kunar province of Afghanistan.

The Afghan National Army (ANA) 201st Silab Corps said the militants were killed during the gun battle with the Afghan forces in Ghaziabad district.

A statement by 201st Silab Corps said the coordinated attack by Taliban on several security posts in Ghaziabad was successfully repulsed by the Afghan forces.

Earlier, the local officials said at least 28 Taliban militants were killed and 30 others were wounded during the clash.

The officials further added that a member of the Afghan National Army lost his life and three others were wounded in the attack.

The Taliban group spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid earlier claimed that two Taliban militants were killed and five others were wounded during the gun battle with the Afghan forces.

Mujahid also claimed that eleven soldiers of the Afghan National Army were killed and several others were wounded during the clash.

Kunar is among the volatile provinces in eastern Afghanistan where anti-government armed militants are actively operating in its various districts.

The province is also home of various foreign insurgents as they are routinely crossing the Durand Line from the tribal regions of Pakistan to stage attacks.

http://www.khaama.com/45-militants-killed-80-wounded-in-failed-taliban-attack-in-kunar-0874

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Taliban and Afghan police suffer casualties in Lashkargah city clash

By KHAAMA PRESS - Sun May 08 2016

At least 10 Taliban insurgents were killed during a clash in southern Helmand province of Afghanistan late on Saturday night, the Ministry of Interior (MoI) said Sunday.

“10 armed Taliban were killed following an armed attack last night, after a group of armed Taliban attacked the Afghan National Police check post in Baba Ji region, 4th district of Lashkar Gah City capital of southern Helmand province,” a statement by MoI said

The statement further added that 10 Taliban militants also sustained injuries during the gun battle with the Afghan forces.

According to MoI, a number of the Afghan National Police forces also suffered casualties during the attack.

“Unfortunately, during this attack, three Afghan National Police officers were martyred and four others were wounded,” the statement said.

The Taliban militants group has not commented regarding the report so far.

Helmand is among the volatile provinces in southern Afghanistan where the anti-government armed militant groups are actively operating and frequently carry out insurgency activities.

Meanwhile, the Special Operation Forces of the Afghan National Army (ANA) conducted a night raid in southern Helmand province targeting a prison run by the Taliban insurgents on Friday.

According to Ministry of Defense, at least 60 people kept in the prison were released during the operation, leaving at least 2 militants dead and 3 others wounded.

http://www.khaama.com/taliban-and-afghan-police-suffer-casualties-in-lashkargah-city-clash-0877

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15 Afghans recruited by Iran killed during a clash in Syria

By KHAAMA PRESS - Sun May 08 2016

At least 15 Afghan nationals have reportedly been killed during a clash with the Syrian rebels near the Syrian city of Aleppo, it has been reported.

The British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said has said the Afghans who were killed during the clash were among the Iranian-backed militia fighters.

The monitor said at least six from Lebanon’s Hezbollah Shi’ite movement and 15 Afghan Shi’ite fighters were killed during the clash.

Earlier, Tehran said thirteen Iranian soldiers were killed in a battle with Islamist militants over a village near the Syrian city of Aleppo.

This comes as earlier reports emerged that suggesting Iran has sent thousands of Shia Afghans to Syria to fight for support of the regime of Bashar al-Assad.

According to the estimates, the number of these fighters is between 10,000 to 12,000 who are mainly illegal immigrants.

The reports also added that Iran has promised citizenship to these fighters and improving the living conditions of their families besides each of these fighters are paid from $400 to $600 monthly wages.

http://www.khaama.com/15-afghans-recruited-by-iran-killed-during-a-clash-in-syria-0875

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52 dead after buses collide with tanker in Afghanistan

AP | May 8, 2016, 03.20 PM IST

KABUL: Two buses and a fuel tanker collided Sunday on a major highway in Afghanistan, killing 52 people, officials said.

Another 73 people who had been on the buses were wounded in the accident, which set all three vehicles ablaze, said Jawed Salangi, spokesman for the governor of the eastern Ghazni province.

Records show the two buses were carrying a total of 125 passengers, Salangi said. ``With 73 survivors out of the 125, 52 people are dead,'' he said, adding that the survivors had been transferred to hospitals.

The collision happened at 7 am on the main highway linking the capital, Kabul, to the southern city of Kandahar. Salangi said the road had been cleared and re-opened early afternoon.

The buses were traveling one behind the other from Kabul to Kandahar when the accident happened, according to Mohammadullah Ahmadi, director of the provincial traffic department. He blamed the crash on reckless driving.

He said local residents helped firefighters and first responders pull survivors from the wreckage.

Road accidents are common in Afghanistan, where roads are often in poor condition and traffic laws are rarely enforced.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/rest-of-world/52-dead-after-buses-collide-with-tanker-in-Afghanistan/articleshow/52174893.cms?

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Six Taliban inmates on death row hanged: Afghan govt

AFP — UPDATED ABOUT 3 HOURS AGO

KABUL: Six Afghan Taliban inmates on death row were hanged on Sunday, government sources said, in the first set of executions endorsed by President Ashraf Ghani since he came to power in 2014.

Ghani last month vowed a new hardline stance against the Taliban after an insurgent attack killed 64 people in Kabul, in what appeared to be the deadliest attack on the Afghan capital since 2001.

The executions occurred despite a threat of reprisal attacks from the Taliban, which launched its annual spring offensive last month, widely expected to be the worst fighting season in 15 years.

"In accordance with the Afghan constitution... Ghani approved the execution of six terrorists who perpetrated grave crimes against civilians and public security," the presidential palace said in a statement. "This order has been carried out today after... considering the human rights obligations of Afghanistan... and in accordance with Afghan laws."

A government source told AFP that all six were Taliban inmates, most of them convicted of insurgent strikes that resulted in mass casualties. There was no immediate comment from the Taliban.

In an unusually vitriolic speech last month, Ghani pledged a tough military response against the Taliban and vowed to enforce legal punishments, including executions of convicted militants.

His remarks were in response to a brazen Taliban assault on April 19 on a security services office in the heart of Kabul, seen as the opening salvo in this year's Taliban spring offensive.

The carnage left 64 civilians and military personnel dead and cast a pall over international efforts to jumpstart Pakistan-brokered peace talks, which stalled last summer after the Taliban belatedly confirmed the death of long-time leader Mullah Omar.

Ghani also threatened diplomatic reprisals against Pakistan if it refuses to take action against insurgent havens on its soil.

Ghani's remarks reflected his frustration after he expended substantial political capital since coming to power in 2014 in courting Pakistan in the hope of pressuring the militants to the negotiating table.

The Pakistani government recently admitted, after years of official denial, that the Taliban leadership enjoys safe haven inside the country.

The Taliban announced the start of their spring offensive on April 12.

http://www.dawn.com/news/1257075/six-taliban-inmates-on-death-row-hanged-afghan-govt

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Europe

 

Sadiq Khan's Meteoric Rise from London Housing Estate To City Hall

May 7, 2016

LONDON: London's new mayor Sadiq Khan has gone from a public housing estate in the British capital to running the city, a remarkable rise for the Pakistani immigrant bus driver's son.

The 45-year-old human rights lawyer-turned-politician swept to victory on Friday, becoming the first Muslim mayor of a Western capital in the process.

After a campaign that saw his main rival try to establish links between Khan and Islamist extremists, the Labour Party candidate now faces the task of bringing London's diverse communities together to keep it on its perch as a top world city.

"I'm a Londoner, I'm British, I'm of Islamic faith, of course I am a proud Muslim. I'm of Asian origin, of Pakistani heritage," he told AFP on Wednesday.

"But the great thing about this city is you can be a Londoner of any faith or none and we don't simply tolerate each other: we respect, we embrace and we celebrate each other."

Street fighting man

Khan's journey to City Hall is like a modern fairytale.

Born in London in 1970 to parents who had recently arrived from Pakistan, Khan was the fifth child out of seven brothers and one sister.

He grew up in public housing in Tooting, an ethnically mixed residential area in south London, and slept in a bunkbed until he was 24.

His modest background plays well in a city that is proud of its diversity and loves a self-made success story.

Khan regularly recalls how his late father drove London's famous red buses, and his mother was a seamstress. One of his brothers is a motor mechanic.

He is a handy boxer, having learnt the sport to defend himself in the streets against those who hurled racist abuse at him. Two of his brothers are boxing coaches.

He remains sporting and ran the 2014 London Marathon.

Khan joined the Labour Party aged 15 when Conservative prime minister Margaret Thatcher was in her pomp.

At school, he wanted to study science and become a dentist. But a teacher spotted his gift for verbal sparring and directed him towards law.

He gained a law degree from the University of North London and started out as a trainee lawyer in 1994 at the Christian Fisher legal firm.

He specialised in human rights, and spent three years chairing the civil liberties campaign group Liberty.

He represented Louis Farrakhan, leader of the Nation of Islam, and Babar Ahmad, a mosque acquaintance who was jailed in the United States after admitting providing support to the Taliban regime in Afghanistan.

Death threats

He became a partner in the law firm but left to become the member of parliament for Tooting in the 2005.

He had been a local councillor for Tooting in the Conservative-dominated Wandsworth local borough since 1994.

He still lives in Tooting with his lawyer wife Saadiya and their two teenage daughters.

Prime minister Gordon Brown made him the communities minister in 2008 and he later served as transport minister, becoming the first Muslim minister to attend cabinet meetings.

In parliament, he voted for gay marriage -- which earned him death threats.

His London mayoral election campaign focused on providing affordable homes for Londoners and freezing transport fares.

Khan is London's third mayor after Labour's Ken Livingstone (2000-2008) and Conservative Boris Johnson (2008-2016).

Khan told AFP one of the "great things about London" was that "if you work hard, you get a helping hand and you can achieve anything".

"I've gone from a council estate to being a lawyer, to running a succesful business to being a minister in the cabinet" -- and now London mayor.

He ran for City Hall because "there are too many Londoners who don't get the helping hand that I received".

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/uk/Sadiq-Khans-meteoric-rise-from-London-housing-estate-to-city-hall/articleshow/52158876.cms

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London's mayor Sadiq Khan condemns Cameron's 'Trump-style' attacks

AFP — PUBLISHED ABOUT 6 HOURS AGO

LONDON: London's new Muslim mayor Sadiq Khan accused Prime Minister David Cameron on Sunday of using "Donald Trump playbook" tactics to try to divide communities in a bid to prevent his election.

The day after being sworn in with a promise to be "mayor for all Londoners", the Labour lawmaker condemned Cameron's Conservatives for trying to link him to Islamic extremists during the election campaign.

"They used fear and innuendo to try to turn different ethnic and religious groups against each other something straight out of the Donald Trump playbook," Khan wrote in The Observer newspaper. "Londoners deserved better and I hope it's something the Conservative party will never try to repeat."

Khan won 57 per cent of the vote in Thursday's mayoral election, securing 1.3 million votes to see off multimillionaire Tory Zac Goldsmith and making history as the first Muslim mayor of a major Western capital.

The 45-year-old, the son of a Pakistani immigrant bus driver, hailed his victory as a triumph of "unity over division" after weeks of Tory criticism over his past appearances at public events alongside radical Muslims.

A number of Conservative politicians criticised the tone of the campaign, but Defence Secretary Michael Fallon said the questions raised had been legitimate.

Khan had admitted representing some "pretty unsavoury characters" during his previous job as a human rights lawyer but said their views were "abhorrent".

"Both candidates were asked questions about their backgrounds, their personalities, their judgement, the people they associate with," Fallon told BBC radio. "That's the nature of our democracy and the rough-and-tumble of politics."

Clinton sends congratulations

Khan broke from convention by taking his oath of office in a multi-faith ceremony at Southwark Cathedral, promising to represent "every single community, and every single part of our city, as mayor for all Londoners".

Hillary Clinton, who as the likely Democratic nominee will face presumptive Republican nominee Trump in the race for the United States (US) presidency, led international congratulations.

"Son of a Pakistani bus driver, champion of workers' rights and human rights, and now Mayor of London. Congrats, @SadiqKhan. -H" she tweeted.

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio said he was looking forward to working with his "fellow affordable-housing advocate" while Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo tweeted that Khan's "humanity [and] progressivism will benefit Londoners".

PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto and Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf chief Imran Khan also tweeted their congratulations.

Former Conservative minister Sayeeda Warsi, herself a daughter of a Pakistani bus driver, hailed Khan's victory and condemned her party's attacks against him. "Our appalling dog-whistle campaign lost us the election, our reputation and credibility on issues of race and religion," she said.

Cameron's former adviser, Steve Hilton, said Goldsmith had brought back the Conservatives' "nasty party label".

Labour losses elsewhere

Khan broke the eight-year hold of the Conservatives on City Hall and succeeds the charismatic Boris Johnson in a prestigious post that has responsibility for transport, housing, policing and promoting economic development.

His success is a boost for Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, a veteran socialist who has been battling a row over anti-Semitism and growing criticism from the moderate wing of his party since his election in September.

But Corbyn was conspicuously absent from Khan's signing-in ceremony and in his article, the new mayor appeared to criticise the way Labour was being run.

The party "only wins when we face outwards... and engage with all voters", Khan wrote, adding: "It's crucial for the whole country that the Labour party becomes a credible government-in-waiting."

Labour fared less well in other elections held Thursday. The party was beaten into third place in Scotland, once a Labour stronghold, as the Conservatives became the official opposition to the Scottish National Party (SNP), which won a third term in office. Labour maintained control of the Welsh assembly and lost only a handful of local council seats in England.

But critics said it should have done better against a government that has lost support over welfare reforms and is deeply divided ahead of the referendum on Britain's membership of the EU on June 23

http://www.dawn.com/news/1257070/londons-mayor-sadiq-khan-condemns-camerons-trump-style-attacks

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Historic Bosnian mosque reopens in move towards reconciliation

May 8th, 2016

BANJA LUKA: Thousands of Muslims flocked to the capital of Bosnia’s Serb region on Saturday for the reopening of a historic mosque destroyed during wartime, a ceremony seen as encouraging religious tolerance among deeply divided communities.

Twenty years after the devastating war between its Muslim Bosniaks, Orthodox Serbs and Catholic Croats, Bosnia remains split along ethnic lines, with rival groups blocking reconciliation and reform needed to join the European Union.

The return of Muslim believers to the rebuilt Ferhadija mosque in the largely Serb city of Banja Luka, capital of Bosnia’s autonomous Serb Republic, offered hope for change to many, although some were more cautious.

Turkey’s outgoing Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, whose country contributed to the cost of rebuilding, reopened the mosque in front of a congregation of up to 10,000, saying the new building sent a message of peace.

“Bosnia-Herzegovina, with its Muslims, Catholics, Orthodox and Jews, is one body, one heart. If there is any attempt to split it up, it means that this one heart would be split,” he said, apparently referring to secessionist threats by Bosnian Serbs.

http://www.dawn.com/news/1256949/historic-bosnian-mosque-reopens-in-move-towards-reconciliation

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India

 

Four Were Told That Jihad Only Solution

But Will Keep Youths under Watch for 1 Yr

Three days after police claimed to have foiled a Jaish-e-Muhammed plot for a Pathankot-style attack in NCR, four of the 10 detained suspects were let off on Saturday as there was no evidence to link them to the conspiracy. The youths, questioned by the special cell for three days, admitted to attending an indoctrination session conducted by the prime accused, Sajid, and receiving Jihadi literature but said there was no mention of Jaish or a terrorist strike. Sajid had told them to go about their lives as usual until asked to “take the path of jihad“.

Three of the youths -Mohseen (32), Zeeshan (18) and Imran (30) -are residents of Chand Bagh in northeast Delhi while 23-year-old Iman lives in Loni, Ghaziabad. The four will be under police surveillance for a year and have been told to attend counselling sessions. A psychologist will meet the four every week and file reports on their mental condition.

Family members of Im ran, who had recently landed a job as a salesperson with an automobile company, say the release will do him little good. “We fear he might have to look for a new job now since all his colleagues are aware of the reason he was taken to the police station for questioning,“ said his father, Farooq Khan.He has been asked to inform the local police if he goes for outstation assignments. Mohseen's father-in-law Sajjad, who has been visiting the south Delhi police station ever since the detention, says the 32-year-old has to inform police every time he leaves Chand Bagh, even for work. “We are relieved that he is back now. We have asked him to keep a low profile and focus on his business,“ said Sajjad.

Sajid, who was in touch with Jaish chief Maulana Masood Azhar's brother on WhatsApp and had planned the strike on Hindon airbase to prove his worth to his handlers, got to know Mohseen as both lived in the same locality. Sajid met Zeeshan at a mosque near their house where he gave him books on jihad. Imran met Sajid during a prayer session at which the Jaish operative convinced the youth to attend one of their indoctrination sessions at a house in Gokulpuri in December 2015. The four told interrogators that Sajid had spoken about jihad at the session and given them Urdu pamphlets which contained inflammatory preachings. They were also shown sermons titled Sada-E-Mujahid, Elaan-eJung and Jihad-Raah-e-Nijaat. Sajid reportedly told them that Muslims were suffering across the world and jihad was the only solution. They were also shown videos of the war in Afghanistan and Syria.

Sajid, Samir and another operative, Shakir, are suspected to have assembled IEDs for simultaneous blasts at several places, in a terror strike planned for the month-end. The trio and three other accused will be interrogated further during which their conversations on WhatsApp and other social media platforms would be verified with their statements, sources said. Police have sought the help of Computer Emergency Response Team to trace the conversations.

http://epaperbeta.timesofindia.com/Article.aspx?eid=31808&articlexml=Four-were-told-that-jihad-only-solution-08052016005048

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Cops Fail To Link 4 Of 10 Held To 'JeM Plot', Let Them Off

Somreet Bhattacharya | TNN | May 8, 2016

NEW DELHI: Three days after police claimed to have foiled a Jaish-e-Muhammed plot for a Pathankot-style attack in NCR, four of the 10 detained suspects were let off on Saturday as there was no evidence to link them to the conspiracy. The youths, questioned by the special cell for three days, admitted to attending an indoctrination session conducted by the prime accused, Sajid, and receiving jihadi literature but said there was no mention of Jaish or a terrorist strike. Sajid had told them to go about their lives as usual until asked to "take the path of jihad".

Three of the youths -Mohseen (32), Zeeshan (18) and Imran (30) -are residents of Chand Bagh in northeast Delhi while 23-year-old Iman lives in Loni, Ghaziabad. The four will be under police surveillance for a year and have been told to attend counselling sessions. A psychologist will meet the four every week and file reports on their mental condition.

Family members of Imran, who had recently landed a job as a salesperson with an automobile company, say the release will do him little good. "We fear he might have to look for a new job now since all his colleagues are aware of the reason he was taken to the police station for questioning," said his father, Farooq Khan. He has been asked to inform the local police if he goes for outstation assignments. Mohseen's father-in-law Sajjad, who has been visiting the south Delhi police station ever since the detention, says the 32-year-old has to inform police every time he leaves Chand Bagh, even for work. "We are relieved that he is back now. We have asked him to keep a low profile and focus on his business," said Sajjad.

Sajid, who was in touch with Jaish chief Maulana Masood Azhar's brother on WhatsApp and had planned the strike on Hindon airbase to prove his worth to his handlers, got to know Mohseen as both lived in the same locality. Sajid met Zeeshan at a mosque near their house where he gave him books on jihad. Imran met Sajid during a prayer session at which the Jaish operative convinced the youth to attend one of their indoctrination sessions at a house in Gokulpuri in December 2015. The four told interrogators that Sajid had spoken about jihad at the session and given them Urdu pamphlets which contained inflammatory preachings. They were also shown sermons titled Sada-E-Mujahid, Elaan-eJung and Jihad-Raah-e-Nijaat. Sajid reportedly told them that Muslims were suffering across the world and jihad was the only solution. They were also shown videos of the war in Afghanistan and Syria.

Sajid, Samir and another operative, Shakir, are suspected to have assembled IEDs for simultaneous blasts at several places, in a terror strike planned for the month-end. The trio and three other accused will be interrogated further during which their conversations on WhatsApp and other social media platforms would be verified with their statements, sources said. Police have sought the help of Computer Emergency Response Team to trace the conversations.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/City/Delhi/Cops-fail-to-link-4-of-10-held-to-JeM-plot-let-them-off/articleshow/52171153.cms

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Hunger Has No Religion: This 79-Year-Old Attaullah Shariff Fed Over 1 Cr Poor since 40 Years

May 8, 2016

Vizianagaram: 79-year-old Attaullah Shariff Shataj Khadiri Baba more popular as ‘Biryani Baba’ has been serving biryani for the poor for more than 40 years in Krishna district of Andhra Pradesh.

Attaullah Shariff, a respected religious man, effectively continue his guru Khadar Baba’s legacy who passed away 40 years ago.

“I am just providing meals to the needy. With the help of donors and devotees, the programme continues smoothly”, said the Baba.

More than 1,000 people come to seek blessings from him everyday. This number exceed to 8,000-10,000 on special occasions.

On an average day around 2 tonnes of Basmati rice and quintals of chicken and mutton and pure ghee are  used to cook the biryani. For those who want vegetarian food it is also available.

It is served at Langar Khana on the Cheemalapadu Dargah premises. His aim is to serve the poor and it is above religions.

“I don’t believe in religion or castes, I  appeal to the public to help the poor. I believe that service to humans is equal to service to God,” he said.

http://www.siasat.com/news/hunger-has-no-religion-biryani-baba-fed-over-1-cr-poor-40-years-955622/

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Pakistan disowns dead Pathankot militants

Neeraj Chauhan | TNN | May 8, 2016

NEW DELHI: India was on Wednesday forced to bury the four Jaish-e-Muhammed terrorists involved in the Pathankot terror attack after Pakistan washed its hands of the slain quartet despite irrefutable proof they had been sent by the terror outfit to launch attacks on India.

Despite India providing evidence on their nationality to Pakistan, including electronic intercepts, Islamabad, keen to erase its links to the jihadi squad Jaish had sent to attack the strategically crucial air base in India, disowned them as "unverifiable bodies". Initially, Pakistan, faced with compelling evidence marshalled by Indian probe agencies on the four militants, had acknowledged that all four were its nationals.

11 cops on 24-hour duty to protect Pathankot attackers' bodies

Though India has been asking Islamabad to take possession of the bodies of the four militants, the latter conveyed its reluctance to do so earlier this week which led the authorities here to bury the bodies in keeping with Islamic rituals.

In the documents submitted to Pakistani officials, Indians have given precise co-ordinates of all the four terrorists. Nasir, Abu Bakar, Farooq and Qayum were identified as residents of Vehari (Punjab), Gujranwala (Punjab), Sanghar (Sindh) and Sukkur (Sindh) districts of Pakistan, respectively.

Nasir had even talked to his mother after he crossed over into India and was heading towards the airbase in the car the gang had jacked from Punjab police SP Salwinder Singh.

However, this is not the first instance where Pakistan refused to own up its nationals who it has often called 'strategic assets'

Islamabad refused to come forward to claim bodies of members of another Jaish module who virtually triggered a war between the two countries by carrying out an audacious attack on Parliament on December 13, 2001.

To prevent Pathankot-like attacks, India plans 5-layer 'lock' at Pakistan border

At the time of Kargil war, it, in fact, disowned its soldiers who had been guised as 'non-state' actors.

Islamabad had denied that the 26/11 attackers were its nationals, but had to grudgingly own up the gang after reports in Pakistani media exposed the truth about Ajmal Kasab and his jehadi comrades.

The four bodies had been kept in Pathankot hospital mortuary for past four months, in anticipation that Pakistan would take them.

NIA seeks US help in Pathankot airbase attack probe

Pakistan's response came as a suprise to investigators who see this as a major about-turn. The officials also see this as a clear sign that Pakistan will not provide any evidence to India against Jaish-e-Muhammed chief Maulana Masood Azhar and other conspirators of the deadly attack.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Pakistan-disowns-dead-Pathankot-militants/articleshow/52170469.cms

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3 J&K ultras killed: Fearing stir, train services stalled

M Saleem Pandit | TNN | May 8, 2016

SRINAGAR: Three militants were killed in an overnight firefight with security forces at Panzgam in Jammu & Kashmir's Pulwama district.

The gunbattle broke out on Friday night and ended in the early hours of Saturday with the killing of Ishfaq Baba, Ishfaq Dar and Haseeb Paul. Police said the three belonged to the Hizbul Mujahideen. Three AK 47 Rifles, six magazine and 85 rounds were recovered from the gunfight site.

An 18-year-old youth, Vakeel Ahmed, was wounded in a grenade explosion at the site after the gunfight. This was followed by clashes between stonepelting protesters and police in Pulwama's Tahab and Bandina villages.

Police retaliated with teargas shelling as a complete shutdown was observed across the district. Mobile as well as internet services were suspended in the district, besides train services between Banihal and Srinagar.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/3-JK-ultras-killed-Fearing-stir-train-services-stalled/articleshow/52170997.cms

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Kill saffron netas, get South Africa jobs, said D-Company

Neeraj Chauhan | TNN | May 8, 2016

NEW DELHI: Target Hindu leaders seen to have had a role in the Gujarat 2002 riots and those perceived as "anti-Muslim" and get good money and jobs in South Africa: this was a line Dawood Ibrahim's D-Company used to lure recruits to execute its plan to create communal tension in India. TOI had reported on May 6 that Dawood plotted social unrest to upset the Modi government.

The National Investigation Agency chargesheet in an Ahmedabad court against 10 D-Company men accuses them of being part of a "larger conspiracy" to attack Hindu leaders that led to the gunning down of former BJP chief of Bharuch Shirish Bangali and BJP youth wing leader Pragnesh Mistry last year.

The D-Company bosses, NIA says, also asked its recruits in India to throw petrol bombs made in empty liquor bottles and indulge in arson in churches. The motive, NIA sources say, was to create communal tension.

In its chargesheet, details of which were exclusively accessed by TOI, NIA has stated, "D-Company, through Javed Chikna planned to target BJP, RSS, VHP and Bajrang Dal leaders..."

For carrying out the attacks, Rs 50 lakh was sent to Gujarat from Dubai through hawala channels by Javed Chikna while guns were also arranged by him in Mumbai and Surat through his contacts in India. For the first killings - of Mistry and Bangali - accused were paid Rs 5 lakh out of this money.

The accused are: Abid Patel (brother of Dawood's close aide Javed Patel alias Chikna who is based in Pakistan), Saiyed Imran, Zuheb Ansari, Inayat Patel, Mohmad Yunus, Haider Ali, Nissarbhai Sheikh, Mohsin Khan Pathan, Mohmed Altaf Shaikh and Abdul Salim Ghanchi.

"As part of the plan, Javed Chikna (based in Pakistan) and another senior member of D-Company (based in South Africa) Zahid Miyan alias Jao contacted several of their men, including Chikna's brother Abid Patel and Yunus (also called Manjrao), and asked them to prepare a list of such leaders," NIA says. A list of 15 such leaders, mostly local, had already been prepared.

NIA says that the accused persons who had hatred against such Hindu leaders had been identified on the basis of their religion and "they were offered handsome money and jobs in South Africa".

When Abid realised that he is likely to be arrested soon, he tried to flee to England but he couldn't do so. "He, then, fled to Nepal along with his close friend Salim Ghanchi by road," said an NIA officer.

Abid, while in Nepal, contacted his brother Chikna in Pakistan who tried to get him out of Nepal but they didn't succeed. Abid and Ghanchi were later arrested on the Indo-Nepal border. NIA has already issued red corner notices against Chikna and Jao.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Kill-saffron-netas-get-South-Africa-jobs-said-D-Company/articleshow/52171039.cms

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Militants flee with rifles in Jammu & Kashmir

PTI | May 8, 2016

SRINAGAR: Suspected militants on Sunday snatched four rifles from policemen on duty at a police post in south Kashmir's Kulgam district.

The militants fled with four rifles two SLRs and two INSAS rifles from a police post guarding the minority community in Adijan area of Kulgam at around 2 AM, a police official said.

He said the police have launched a manhunt to nab the rifle snatchers.

Police has also started an investigation into the incident, the official said.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Militants-flee-with-rifles-in-Jammu-Kashmir/articleshow/52172340.cms

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Mideast

Erdogan Pours Cold Water On Hopes Of Progress On EU Deal

May 8th, 2016

ISTANBUL: Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan on Saturday poured more cold water on hopes for progress with Europe on a deal to curb migration, suggesting Ankara would not change its anti-terrorism laws just to meet European Union requirements.

The EU has asked member states to grant visa-free travel to Turks in return for Ankara stopping migrants from reaching Europe, but said Turkey still had to change some legislation, including bringing its terrorism laws in line with EU standards.

The migrant deal between Brussels and Ankara was negotiated by Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, who this week announced his decision to step down as premier, capping weeks of public tension with Erdogan.

“Those who ask Turkey to change its laws on terror should first remove the terrorists’ tents that were erected outside the EU parliament,” Erdogan said in a speech to supporters in the eastern Anatolian city of Matalya.

He was referring to Belgian authorities allowing supporters of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) to set up a protest site outside an EU-Turkey summit in March.

Visa-free travel is for many Turks the biggest benefit of Ankara’s deal with the EU. Europe, meanwhile, is counting on Turkey to maintain an agreement that has helped stem the flow of refugees and migrants via Turkish shores.

http://www.dawn.com/news/1256989/erdogan-pours-cold-water-on-hopes-of-progress-on-eu-deal

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55 ISIL militants killed as Turkish military hits positions in Syria

May/08/2016

The Turkish military hit Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) positions in Syria on May 7, killing 55 ISIL militants.

Reconnaissance and surveillance vehicles spotted ISIL positions in the Suran region north of Aleppo and the Baragidah and Kuşacık regions northeast of Tal el Hişn, security sources said.

A total of 55 ISIL militants were killed in the shellings, while three vehicles and three rocket launchers belonging to the jihadist group were also destroyed.

The moment of destruction was also recorded via reconnaissance and surveillance vehicles.

Turkey has been hit by a series of rocket attacks from ISIL-controlled areas in Syria since mid-January, as over 20 people have been killed so far and scores of others have been wounded.

In response the Turkish army has been shelling ISIL positions and firing multiple rockets after unmanned aerial vehicles spotted where the rockets were fired from.

http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/55-isil-militants-killed-as-turkish-military-hits-positions-in-syria.aspx?pageID=238&nID=98873&NewsCatID=352

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Treasury guarantees were a critical rift between Erdoğan and Davutoğlu, sources say

May/08/2016

Several disagreements between Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and outgoing Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu have been highlighted since the latter’s announcement to step down, however the issue of Treasury guarantees was an unvoiced yet critical source of friction, according to sources in the capital Ankara.

In line with the tight fiscal policy implementations in Turkey following the 2001 economic crisis, the country had quit offering Treasury guarantees on any projects. With the end of the high liquidity party in global markets and the rise in financing problems, especially in emerging markets, Turkey again started to offer a 100 percent Treasury guarantee for major projects which cost more than $1 billion in April 2014.

Many companies which undertook the building of giant projects - from the third airport in Istanbul to the third bridge over the Bosphorus, the İzmit Bay Bridge and huge city hospitals - were subsequently able to obtain a crucial guarantee in the form of cheaper costs and financing diversity.

According to sources close to the matter, Davutoğlu had recently created another formula regarding this issue which contradicted with Erdoğan’s general approach.

Davutoğlu and his economic team wanted to decrease the share of guarantees from 100 percent to 80 percent due to fragile economic conditions, sources said.

Davutoğlu even asked for the preparation of a report over this issue from the related ministers in a cabinet meeting around one month ago, they added.

When this demand was heard, some circles however voiced their concerns about the possible negative effects of this move on the country’s giant projects, according to sources.

The planned move to decrease Treasury guarantees by 20 percent was ultimately canceled.

http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/treasury-guarantees-were-a-critical-rift-between-erdogan-and-davutoglu-sources-say.aspx?pageID=238&nID=98889&NewsCatID=344

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Police expand investigation in Dündar attack as details emerge

May/08/2016

The investigation into the failed armed attack targeting daily Cumhuriyet editor-in-chief Can Dündar in front of an Istanbul courthouse on May 6 has been expanded, with the Istanbul Police Department’s intelligence bureau, anti-terror bureau and public security bureau initiating an extensive search surrounding the main suspect of the attack and two others who were detained for their alleged role in it.  

Murat Şahin, the main suspect in the attack, and two other suspects were given three extra days of detention time, while police teams were set to examine the cell phone signals, text messages and telephone conversations of the suspects, as wide-scale interrogations were also going to be conducted.  

Şahin, who attempted to shoot Dündar outside of an Istanbul courthouse on May 6, claimed he carried out the act independently and “wanted to teach Dündar a lesson” as he “did not like him,” security sources said, after detaining the 40-year-old following the failed attempt.

“If I wanted to kill him, I would [have] but I shot at his leg to scare him,” Şahin reportedly said.

Şahin, who was born in 1976 in Istanbul and registered in the Central Anatolian province of Sivas, approached Dündar as he was speaking to reporters during a break in the journalist’s trial on May 6. After firing two shots at Dündar’s legs while saying, “You are a traitor,” Şahin was immediately subdued by Dündar’s wife, Dilek Dündar, and a main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) lawmaker Muharrem Erkek before police intervened. However, Yağız Şenkal, a reporter for private broadcaster NTV, was wounded in the leg during the attack.

As Şahin was detained an extra 24 hours, two more suspects were detained on May 7 over the attack. According to the Istanbul Police Department, the suspects were reported to be associates of the gunman.

Searching the records of the surveillance cameras around the courthouse, police learned Şahin had arrived at the scene at 9:00 a.m. and waited until 5:20 p.m. to carry out the attack. Police added that one of the two other suspects had been following Dündar and called Şahin as the journalist went outside to take his break to give a green light for the attack.

Police were continuing the extensive investigation over the attack, as 20 people from the assailant’s circle were interrogated, including Şahin’s wife, while inspectors were trying to determine where Şahin got the weapon he used in the attack.

Dündar was also provided with a special three-person guard team from the Istanbul Police Department, in addition to his previous guard, who was one of the officers who intervened in the incident.

Meanwhile, security sources also claimed Dündar may have been a target of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), as police learned the journalist’s house had been searched by a militant from the group’s cell in the southeastern province of Gaziantep.

According to the sources, Dündar’s home address had been searched on a cell phone belonging to Hüseyin Kara, whose name previously appeared in police records as allegedly being one of the two militants from the group’s cell in Gaziantep who gave the order for the deadly March 19 attack near Istanbul’s Taksim Square. Upon the intelligence, Dündar was provided with an additional guard.

Dündar, along with Cumhuriyet’s Ankara bureau chief, Erdem Gül, were on trial for “leaking state secrets” due to stories published about Turkish intelligence trucks allegedly bound for Syria with hidden weapons in early 2014. After their final trial on May 6, the Dündar and Gül were convicted by an Istanbul court and sentenced to five years and 10 months and five years in prison, respectively.

http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/police-expand-investigation-in-dundar-attack-as-details-emerge.aspx?pageID=238&nID=98890&NewsCatID=509

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Turkish PM’s departure ‘raises investor concerns over significant uncertainty’

May/08/2016

The fallout from the rift between Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu has created “significant uncertainty” and heightened investor concerns about the quality of economic policy making, an official from the Institute of International Finance (IIF) has said at the 15th Annual Forum Istanbul.

“Against this backdrop, media speculation about the three possible candidates [to succeed Davutoğlu] - all supporters of the president - has raised investor concerns about the quality of the new economic team and its policy making going forward,” said IIF Executive Managing Director Hung Tran in a written statement on May 6.

An extraordinary Justice and Development Party (AKP) convention will be held on May 22 to elect a new chairman and Davutoğlu himself said he would not be a candidate. There are a number of potential candidates for the Prime Ministry, according to some media reports.

According to the IIF, this uncertainty will “persist until the new PM and government are selected.”

The IIF’s session during the forum was on rebalancing global economic governance, but the buzz at the conference was “all about the fallout between Erdoğan and Davutoğlu,” said Tran.

The developments might signal a possible election in August to boost the AKP parliamentary majority and “heightened investor concerns about the quality of economic policy making,” he said.

“Domestic political risks have crystalized at a bad moment for Turkey, as the global ‘risk-on’ sentiment appears to be waning,” he added.

According to the IIF, with more risk-sensitive global investor sentiment, “Turkey’s economic vulnerability again comes to the fore.”

“Together with renewed pressure on the Turkish Lira, after a sharp devaluation last year, any political pressure to cut rates could be counter-productive. In particular, the corporate sector - with around $190 billion in net forex liabilities - could experience stress if the lira weakens further,” stressed the IIF official.

The IIF is the global association of the financial industry with close to 500 members from 70 countries, according to its website.

http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/turkish-pms-departure-raises-investor-concerns-over-significant-uncertainty.aspx?pageID=238&nID=98879&NewsCatID=345

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Euro Investment Bank offers Turkey help for refugees

May/08/2016

The European Investment Bank (EIB) is prepared to financially assist Turkey in caring for the 2.7 million Syrian refugees sheltering in the county, EIB Vice President Pim van Ballekom has told Anadolu Agency.        

“My message is that we are ready to support you but you have to define the plans. We are prepared to assist,” he said on May 6 in Istanbul.       

Van Ballekom said that during his visit to Ankara this week, he had talks with Turkish authorities on the refugee crisis but stressed they had not made up their minds about how to use the money. 

“We are waiting for your authorities. We are exploring our investment opportunities in order to help Turkey to face those challenges,” he stated.       

His remarks came at a time when the March 20 deal between Ankara and the European Union to stem the exodus to the continent has produced results.       

Over the past year, thousands of people have made short but perilous attempts to cross the Aegean in a bid to reach Greece before going on to northern and western Europe.       

According to the International Organization for Migration (IOM), in the first 100 days of 2016, arrivals in Greece by sea averaged close to 1,500 migrants daily. The IOM reported on April 22 that in the previous two weeks, arrivals had dropped to an average of 100 per day.       

The agreement allows for the return of “irregular migrants” to Turkey from Greece in exchange for Syrian refugees to be relocated within the EU.       

Van Ballekom said the bank would do more in “educational facilities, social housing and healthcare” to help Turkey face the challenges of hosting so many refugees.    

The EIB, the largest foreign financier in the country, has been active in financing projects in Turkey since the 1960s.       

Following the start of Turkey’s EU accession negotiations in 2004, the bank stepped up its lending operations to help Turkey’s development and integration with the EU.       

2.3-bln-euro in financing in 2015

The bank has provided finance totaling 2.8 billion euros since 2010. In 2015 alone, total EIB financing in Turkey reached 2.3 billion euros. The bank continued its support for small- and medium-sized companies (SMEs) and infrastructure projects.       

Van Ballekom visited Istanbul on May 5-6 to sign an agreement with major Turkish companies and banks for seven new loan agreements totaling over 800 million euros.      

The bank said SMEs would attract the largest part of the new funding. Other loans will support healthcare and port infrastructure projects.       

Van Ballekom stressed that SMEs were “innovative and important for job creation, which is very much needed especially in a young, dynamic and vibrant country like Turkey.”       

Van Ballekom praised the Turkish economy despite problems in areas including shaky relations with Russia and ongoing violence in the southeastern part of the country.       

“The economy is doing reasonably well. The Turkish economy is resilient. That’s why we are needed as a bank here. We need a good investment climate, which exists in the country,” he stated.       

He added that the bank was open to more projects. He said the bank’s annual budget for Turkey last year was 2.5 billion euros, up from 2.3 billion euros in 2014.   

Van Ballekom stressed the bank may lend out more than 2.5 billion euros in 2016. “The more projects you have, the more can be realized,” he added.       

He signaled that the bank would do more in agriculture, sustainable energy and infrastructure projects like gas storage.       

The EIB plans to invest 1 billion euros in the Trans Anatolian Pipeline natural gas pipeline (TANAP) and gas storage facilities in Turkey’s Marmara region.       

Van Ballekom said TANAP was “under appraisal” and he expressed hope the bank would participate in the project.       

“That will become clear I think during the coming months. But we are doing our best to make it happen,” he stated.

http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/euro-investment-bank-offers-turkey-help-for-refugees.aspx?pageID=238&nID=98880&NewsCatID=345

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Southeast Asia

 

Indonesia's Muslim cyber warriors take on IS

AFP | May 8, 2016

JAKARTA: A group of Indonesian "cyber warriors" sit glued to screens, as they send out messages promoting a moderate form of Islam in the world's most populous Muslim-majority country.

Armed with laptops and smartphones, some 500 members of the Nahdlatul Ulama (NU) - one of the world's biggest Muslim organisations - are seeking to counter the Islamic State group's extremist messages.

"We'll never let Islam be hijacked by fools who embrace hate in their heart," tweeted Syafi' Ali, a prominent member of the NU's online army, a typical message to his tens of thousands of followers.

They are trying to hit back at IS's sophisticated Internet operations, which have been credited with attracting huge numbers from around the world to their cause.

Internet propaganda is believed to have played a key role in drawing some 500 Indonesians to the Middle East to join IS, particularly among those living in cities where it is easier to get online.

The dangers of the growing IS influence in Indonesia were starkly illustrated in January when militants linked to the jihadists launched a gun and suicide bombing attack in Jakarta, leaving four assailants and four civilians dead.

It was the first major attack in Indonesia for seven years, following a string of Islamic militant bombings in the early 2000s that killed hundreds.

As well as firing off tweets, the NU members have sought to dominate cyberspace by establishing websites promoting the group's moderate views, an Android app and web-based TV channels, whose broadcasts include sermons by moderate preachers.

The initiative has been building momentum for a while but started to pick up pace a few months ago. A handful of cyber warriors operate from a small office in Jakarta, while the rest work remotely, and the group mostly communicate with one another over the web.

But it will be an uphill battle and the NU, which has been promoting moderate Islam for decades, conceded they have previously struggled to take on IS's hate-filled messages.

"NU has for a while wrestled with this radical propaganda," said Yahya Cholil Staquf, secretary general of the NU, which claims at least 40 million followers.

"Every time we defeated them, it didn't take long for them to regain their strength."

The online drive comes as the NU is set to take its campaign to promote their tolerant form of Islam onto the international stage this week, with a two-day meeting from tomorrow of moderate religious leaders from around the world.

They aim to showcase their particular brand of the Muslim faith, known as "Islam Nusantara", to counter the IS jihadists' radical interpretation of Islam.

Meaning "Islam of the Archipelago" - Indonesia is the world's biggest archipelago, comprising over 17,000 islands - it is accepting of diversity and stresses non-violence.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/rest-of-world/Indonesias-Muslim-cyber-warriors-take-on-IS/articleshow/52175746.cms

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North America

 

ISI made Haqqani Taliban's No. 2 to protect him from US: Report

PTI | May 8, 2016

NEW YORK: Pakistan's powerful ISI had brought in Haqqani network's chief Sirajuddin Haqqani as the deputy leader of the Taliban last year to protect him from the Americans, a media report said today.

The New York Times, quoting Afghan and American officials, said in a report that the "closer integration of the feared" Haqqani militant network into the leadership of the Taliban is "changing the flow of the Afghan insurgency this year, with the Haqqanis' senior leader increasingly calling the shots in the Taliban's offensive.

It quoted Afghanistan's former intelligence chief Rahmatullah Nabil as saying that "the ISI brought Sirajuddin as the deputy to the Taliban to give him protection, so if the peace talks get serious, the Americans wouldn't be able to say, 'We will make peace with the leader but not with the deputy'."

Nabil, who now runs a charity for wounded Afghan soldiers, said the merger had been helped by the fact that the Haqqanis were struggling financially, after their chief fund-raiser was gunned down near Islamabad in 2013, and that the Taliban needed Haqqani's expertise in waging complex attacks.

Brigadier General Charles Cleveland, the chief spokesman for United States and NATO forces in Afghanistan, said that "Sirajuddin increasingly runs the day-to-day military operations for the Taliban, and, we believe, is likely involved in appointing shadow governors."

"The Haqqani network's closer integration with the Taliban command also creates awkwardness for the Obama administration, and is raising tension between Pakistan and Afghanistan," it said.

The report cited some senior Afghan officials as saying that the Pakistani military was "central" to bringing the Haqqanis more closely into the Taliban during the insurgency's leadership councils last summer, which were held in Quetta.

The report said that the Haqqanis have "refined a signature brand" of urban terrorist attacks and cultivated a sophisticated international fund-raising network, factoring prominently in the United States military's push to keep troops in Afghanistan.

It added that the group's growing role in leading the entire insurgency in the war-torn country has raised concerns about an even deadlier year of fighting ahead, as hopes of peace talks have collapsed.

"The shift is also raising tensions with the Pakistani military, which American and Afghan officials accuse of sheltering the Haqqanis as a proxy group," it said.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/rest-of-world/ISI-made-Haqqani-Talibans-No-2-to-protect-him-from-US-Report/articleshow/52175094.cms

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US asks Pakistan suppress militants pursuing cross-border attacks

By KHAAMA PRESS - Sun May 08 2016

Afghan Taliban in PakistanThe United States has asked Pakistan to suppress the militant groups pursuing cross-border attacks, days after the country’s national security adviser Sartaj Aziz opposed to take military actions against the Afghan Taliban.

A State Department official has reportedly reminded Islamabad that in December last year Afghanistan and Pakistan signed a joint statement, agreeing, “not to allow use of their respective soil against each other”.

The official has further added that Afghanistan and Pakistan had also agreed to “sternly handle any elements crossing over and getting involved in violence on either side, through active intelligence sharing and intelligence-based operations”.

Aziz had earlier said such a policy had not brought results for 14 long years, refering to Kabul’s demand to act against the Taliban leaderships in Peshawar and Quetta cities.

“Afghanistan has been insisting that if the peace negotiations do not start, then other option should be tried. But that option has been used for 14 years but it has not produced any result,” he said.

President Ghani ordered the Afghan security institutions to start crackdown against the Taliban groups pursuing violence and asked Islamabad to take actions against the sanctuaries of the groups in its soil.

The remarks by President Ghani followed a deadly attack in capital Kabul on a VIP protection unit which left at least 64 people dead and 347 others wounded.

In his remarks to announce the government’s stance towards peace efforts and fight against terrorism, President Ghani also added that Kabul does not expect Pakistan to bring the Taliban to the negotiation table”.

http://www.khaama.com/us-asks-pakistan-suppress-militants-pursuing-cross-border-attacks-0870

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Pakistan

 

Prominent Pakistani anti-militant activist shot dead in Karachi

Reuters | May 8, 2016

KARACHI: Gunmen shot dead a prominent Pakistani rights activist, known for his outspoken stance against the Taliban and other radical Islamist groups, in the southern port city of Karachi late on Saturday night, police said.

The police said Khurram Zaki was killed at an outdoor cafe in central Karachi, while a companion was wounded.

A faction of the Pakistani Taliban, the Hakeemullah group, claimed responsibility for the attack in a phone call to Reuters, saying Zaki had been targeted for his stance against radical cleric Abdul Aziz.

The police could not verify the Hakeemullah faction's claim, and said the group has previously taken responsibility for attacks it did not carry out in Karachi, a teeming metropolis of 20 million people that is known for its complex mix of ethnic, sectarian and political violence.

"Zaki was sitting at a cafe where he was targeted by four armed men arriving on two motorcycles," Muqadas Haider, a senior police official said on Sunday.

Zaki was known for his outspoken stance against the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, a Sunni Muslim sectarian militant group, the Pakistani Taliban, and radical cleric Abdul Aziz.

In December 2015, Zaki lead street protests against Aziz, demanding the cleric be arrested and charged with hate speech for allegedly justifying attacks, such as the Peshawar school massacre where 134 schoolchildren were killed in 2014.

In 2007, Aziz and his followers were engaged in an armed standoff with government forces at his mosque in the capital Islamabad, culminating in a eight-day military operation that saw Pakistani commandoes raid the mosque.

Aziz has since been exonerated of all criminal charges by Pakistani courts, but still calls for the overthrow of the government and for a strict version of Islamic sharia law to be imposed.

Zaki had confided to friends that he was on several militant "hitlists", Jibran Nasir, a fellow activist who was also involved in protests against Aziz, told Reuters on Sunday.

Nasir said that Zaki did not specify which groups specifically had threatened him.

According to a statement released after Zaki's death by a website he helped run, the activist had been "a target of a systematic hate campaign" by an Islamist political leader and Lashkar-e-Jhangvi.

Targeted killings are common in Karachi, although violence has declined significantly since the launch of a paramilitary operation in the city almost three years ago.

Rights activists are increasingly among those targeted in Karachi. In April last year, prominent activist Sabeen Mahmud was shot and killed while travelling in her car.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/pakistan/Prominent-Pakistani-anti-militant-activist-shot-dead-in-Karachi/articleshow/52175130.cms

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Trust deficit must be removed for better ties with India, says Pakistan

PTI | May 7, 2016

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan on Saturday said the "trust deficit" with India needs to be removed to ensure better relations. It voiced support for any effort to restart the stalled bilateral dialogue between the two nations.

Pakistan Foreign Secretary Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry added, "Whenever there will be talks between Pakistan and India, Kashmir will remain on top of the agenda."

He also talked about the arrest of alleged Indian spy Kulbushan Yadav, and termed it as proof of "Indian involvement" in Pakistan's internal affairs.

India has acknowledged Yadav is a retired Indian Navy officer but denied the allegation that he was in any way connected to the government.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/pakistan/Trust-deficit-must-be-removed-for-better-ties-with-India-says-Pakistan/articleshow/52166464.cms

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Some improvement but no permanent cure yet for Pakistan's 'solar kids'

May 8th, 2016

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan's 'solar kids', victims of a perplexing medical condition who are currently under treatment at the Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (Pims), are set to remain at the hospital until all tests are complete and results reveal more about their affliction.

The pair of siblings from Mian Kundi, a village near Quetta, were nicknamed 'solar kids' by fellow villagers due to a rare condition that leaves them paralysed by sunset, although they wake up full of energy in the morning.

Pims Vice Chancellor (VC) Dr Javed Akram told DawnNews that after testing different medicines, one appeared to be "somewhat effective". The condition of the 'solar kids' is better in the evening now they can sit and walk but it's not a completely effective cure, he said.

Nearly a hundred medical tests have been completed while the results of around 200 tests are still awaited, Akram said, adding that one test reported a genetic problem which pointed to an issue with the nervous system.

The children's mother and brother are being tested as well and doctors have also been sent to Mian Kundi to assess their living environment and obtain more clues about the disease.

The Pims VC confirmed that the children are unlikely to be sent home any time soon. "We will not send them back until we complete their treatment."

The children were taken on a trip to the zoo yesterday, he said. "We will take them on more outings as their condition improves," he said.

Special arrangements were made last week with Pims to initiate treatment. A medical board had examined the children and recommended 232 tests and DNA analyses, samples of which might be sent abroad. The board members had anticipated that testing could reveal an entirely new disease.

If this is a case without precedent, the doctors at Pims may have to suggest a name for the condition themselves, Akram said.

http://www.dawn.com/news/1257072/some-improvement-but-no-permanent-cure-yet-for-pakistans-solar-kids

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Pakistan-origin Chinese engineer ‘goes missing’

May 8th, 2016

SAHIWAL: A Pakistan-origin Chinese national and engineer working at Karachi-based coal-fired power plant has gone missing from Pakpattan city.

Sources say engineer Muhammad Yousaf’s all mobile numbers are silent for the last 35 hours.

Pakpattan District Police Officer Kamran Yousaf confirmed to Dawn that the missing Chinese engineer’s wife, Sumera Yousaf, filed an application at 6pm on Saturday with the city police station that her husband had gone missing since Friday morning.

He was on a visit to Pakpattan to see his in-laws.

The sources said Muhammad Yousaf had been working in China for the last many years and had Chinese nationality.

He is among the Chinese workers and engineers who shifted to Pakistan to build a coal-fired power plant at Bin Qasim Port, Karachi.

He married Sumera Bibi, a resident of Shahidi Mohalla, Pakpattan, in February 2016.

City police station SHO Saifullah said Yousaf was in the city since May 5.

“On early Friday he went missing mysteriously,” Sumera Yousaf claimed in her application.

A source said the Chinese engineer had his own security arrangements, adding that Yousaf could neither be contacted on his mobile phone nor logged in to his social media account for the last 36 hours.

The DPO told Dawn by phone the initial investigations revealed that Yousaf was attached with a religious organisation for the last many years. He frequently visited Pakistan along with his parents, he added.

SHO Saifullah said Yousaf frequently visited his in-laws without informing local police and other security agencies.

DPO said police were informed of Yousaf’s absence on Sunday. “Police have started investigation on all possible lines, including his kidnapping or voluntarily moving to some other place”, the DPO added.

http://www.dawn.com/news/1257016/pakistan-origin-chinese-engineer-goes-missing

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WTO chief advises Pakistan to devise business-friendly border rules

May 8th, 2016

ISLAMABAD: At a time when each province is bargaining to secure a larger share in the $46 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, the World Trade Organisation’s (WTO) Director-General Roberto Azevedo has cautioned that Pakistan can only reap benefits from the physical infrastructure by enacting efficient business-friendly rules, regulations and procedures at the borders.

“The CPEC is not just about hardware or mega projects in terms of infrastructure, improving roads and fixing energy problems,” he said. “All these things are very important, but they are simply not enough.

“It does not help to have the physical infrastructure if rules, regulations and procedures at the border are inefficient,” Mr Azevedo told Dawn in an exclusive interview during a recent two-day visit to Pakistan.

To maximise the project’s benefits, he suggested the Pakistani government to also focus on capacity-building of human resources, build institutional capacity and business-friendly regulations so that regional integration could take place in the most expedited fashion.

Mr Azevedo was referring to the implementation of the Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) which would streamline, simplify and standardise customs procedures, thereby reducing the time and cost of moving goods across the border. Studies show that when fully implemented, the agreement could reduce trade costs for Pakistan by around 13pc.

A group of WTO members struck a deal to expand the WTO’s Information Technology Agreement (ITA). This deal will eliminate tariffs on 201 IT products, including the latest generation of semi-conductors, GPS devices, advanced medical products and machine tools. Trade in these products is worth around $1.3 trillion annually.

There is divergence of opinion whether Pakistan should ratify this agreement or not. “Pakistan should look very carefully at the possibility of joining the agreement,” the DG said, adding that any trade agreement has to meet the strategic objective of the country.

Revival of multilateral trade negotiations

In the last two ministerial meetings, some historic decisions were taken paving the way to revive the stalled talks. In Nairobi, the DG said that member countries decided to abolish agriculture export subsidies. “This is the biggest reform in agricultural trade rules in the last 20 years and a big win for Pakistan,” he said.

Eliminating export subsidies will help level the playing field in agriculture markets for the benefit of farmers and exporters in Pakistan.

Asked whether the proliferation of bilateral and regional preferential agreements will have an impact on the multilateral trading system, he said that such agreements compliment the multilateral trading system. “The problem was that WTO was not negotiating, but now it is,” he said.

Domestic subsidies in agriculture are an issue of major concern for many countries. However, the DG said that domestic subsidies have become more important and sensitive politically. As a result of falling commodities and the global economic slowdown, the number of countries that provide these subsidies in a significant way has increased.

After the positive results of Bali and Nairobi, members have started a discussion on how the WTO can do more, and faster. It is clear that all WTO members want to deliver on the so-called Doha negotiating issues, such as domestic subsidies in agriculture and improved market access for agricultural produce, industrial goods and services. However, they do not agree on how to tackle them.

“I think the single undertaking that we were negotiating earlier is very unlikely to succeed in the near future for many reasons,” Mr Azevedo painted a bleak picture for the breakthrough in the stalled so-called Doha round.

“In case the single undertaking is possible,” he said, “let’s push it by all means.” However, he said if it is not possible let’s push elsewhere.

Some members of the WTO would like to start discussing other issues as well. A range of issues have been suggested — fisheries subsidies, investment promotions, e-commerce, small and medium-sized enterprises — to name a few.

The WTO secretariat is monitoring trade regimes of member countries. “We provide a forum for members to talk to each others on restrictive trade measures for its resolution,” the DG said. WTO also provides dispute settlement mechanism to members.

In just 20 years, WTO has successfully dealt with more than 500 trade disputes. Pakistan has been an active user of this mechanism, having participated in 17 cases in different capacities: as a complainant, respondent and an interested party.

There are two committees on technical barriers to trade (TBT) and sanitary and phyto-sanitary measures (SPS) that offer member countries a forum to discuss behind-the-border measures that might restrict trade flows.

Asked about the expected outcome of the WTO ministerial meeting in 2017, Mr Azevedo said it would be difficult to predict how much one could expect from it. “I think we have built-in agenda like public stockholding of grains for food security purposes and many other areas where negotiations are ongoing,” he said.

http://www.dawn.com/news/1256970/wto-chief-advises-pakistan-to-devise-business-friendly-border-rules

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Mourners offer funeral prayers for Khurram Zaki outside CM House

 

KARACHI: Mourners protesting the murder of slain civil rights activist Khurram Zaki offered funeral prayers outside Chief Minister House on Sunday.

Zaki was gunned down by unknown assailants in North Karachi late Saturday night. Two others, journalist Rao Khalid and a bystander, Aslam, were critically injured in the attack.

A heavy contingent of police was deployed in the area and television footage showed containers blocking major roads leading to CM House.

A First-Information Report was registered on Saturday by a member of Majlis Wahdat Muslimeen (MWM) under sections 324/34, 302 and 109 of the Pakistan Penal Code and Section 7 of the Anti-Terrorism Act.

A former journalist, Zaki was an active campaigner for human rights and was the editor of the website and Facebook page Let Us Build Pakistan (LUBP) which claimed to "spread liberal religious views and condemned extremism in all forms".

Zaki was last in the media limelight alongside activist Jibran Nasir in a campaign against Lal Masjid cleric Maulana Abdul Aziz for inciting hatred against Shia Muslims. The campaigners had managed to get a case registered against Aziz.

Zaki had confided to friends that he was on several militant "hitlists", Jibran Nasir, a fellow activist who was also involved in protests against Aziz, told Reuters on Sunday. Nasir said that Zaki did not specify which groups specifically had threatened him.

Rights activist Sabeen Mahmud, who was also gunned down in Karachi, had taken part in the protest against Lal Masjid as well.

An MWM spokesperson said that Khurram Zaki, 40, was not only a prominent civil society activist but also a religious scholar who tended to attend programmes on various TV channels.

The MWM spokesperson said they believed that banned sectarian outfits were involved in this gruesome murder.

http://www.dawn.com/news/1257078/mourners-offer-funeral-prayers-for-khurram-zaki-outside-cm-house

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