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Islamic World News ( 9 May 2018, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Trump’s Decision Could End the Very Empire He’s Trying to Protect: Scholar



















PressTV-Trump announces 'withdrawal' from Iran nuclear deal

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Trump’s Decision Could End the Very Empire He’s Trying to Protect: Scholar

Out On Bail, 26/11 Mumbai Attacks Mastermind Lakhvi Raising Funds in Pakistan

UNSC Urges Myanmar to Punish Abusers of Muslim Minority

Husain Haqqani: 'Pakistani Military Fears Ethno-Linguistic Identities'

92 Year Old Mahathir Takes the Helm, Gains Surprise Victory in Malaysian Elections

Vatican Denies Deal with Saudi Arabia to Build Churches

 

North America

Trump’s Decision Could End the Very Empire He’s Trying to Protect: Scholar

Trump Deserves Impeachment For Iran Deal Withdrawal: Waters

Appeals Court Bars U.S. From Transferring American ISIS Suspect

Mattis vows to work with allies after Iran pullout

Man Pleads Guilty to Vandalizing Tennessee Islamic Centre

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India

Out On Bail, 26/11 Mumbai Attacks Mastermind Lakhvi Raising Funds in Pakistan

Saving Taj Mahal: SC Says Throw Out ASI, Govt Says Calling Experts

Ramzan here, Amarnath Yatra starts next month, declare ceasefire: J&K parties to Delhi

India sends second relief consignment for Rohingya Muslims in Bangladesh

Gurgaon DC Asks For List of Places Where Namaz Will Be Held

Terror-funding, stone-throwing rising in Jammu and Kashmir: Hansraj Gangaram Ahir

Civilian killings: J&K Police bust Lashkar-e-Toiba module operating in Baramulla, Sopore

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South Asia

UNSC Urges Myanmar to Punish Abusers of Muslim Minority

Suicide Bombers, Gunmen Attack Kabul Police Stations

ICC asks Bangladesh for input on Rohingya jurisdiction

Myanmar Verifies More Than 1,000 Refugees in Bangladesh for Repatriation

Militants suffer heavy casualties in joint Afghan, US operations in Paktia

NDS says Haqqani network involved behind today’s coordinated Kabul attacks

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Pakistan

Husain Haqqani: 'Pakistani Military Fears Ethno-Linguistic Identities'

Anchors Failing To Maintain Ramazan Sanctity Risk Life Ban: IHC

Pakistan Releases Commemorative Coin for Late Catholic Nun

Pakistan Stands with Iran on Nuclear Deal Issue

‘Abducted’ Faisalabad Student Embraces Islam, Marries Muslim Man

US blocks Pakistan’s requests to UN on Khurasani: report

Punjab to Consider Separate Funds for JuD Seminaries after Takeover: Report

Saudi Ambassador says KSA will continue to cooperate with Pakistan

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Southeast Asia

92 Year Old Mahathir Takes the Helm, Gains Surprise Victory in Malaysian Elections

Islamic Groups Report Indonesian Politician for ‘Blasphemous ‘Poem

ISIS-Linked Indonesian Jail Riot Ends as Police Raid Cellblock

ISIS-Linked Groups in the Philippines Are Not Yet Defeated

China to continue cooperation With Iran after US withdrawal from nuclear deal

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Arab World

Vatican Denies Deal with Saudi Arabia to Build Churches

ISIS Leader Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi Travels In East Syria with Tight-Knit Group

Trump’s Envoy Praises Muslim League Leader’s Declaration on Holocaust

Five Top ISIS Officials Captured in U.S.-Iraqi Sting

Iraq readies for first election since end of IS war

Saudi air defences intercept two missiles over Riyadh

Kurdish Militias Planning to Set up New Military Base in Northeastern Syria

Main Syrian opposition backs Trump’s Iran move, calls it real opportunity

Syrian government forces carry on with anti-terror operations

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Europe

Cardiff University Receives £850k Gift for Study of Islam

EU Pledges Commitment to Iran Nuclear Deal, Regrets Trump Decision

Germany Deports Suspected Islamic Extremist to Tunisia

Web of obscure British firms try to tarnish UAE’s terrorism fight

France's Macron says Trump made a mistake by leaving JCPOA

Germany vows to protect EU firms against Iran bans

Sunday Telegraph Pays Damages to Mosque Chief Over Corbyn Article

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Mideast

Suspected Israeli Strike on Syria Kills 8 Iranians: Monitor

Israel blames Iran for firing rockets at the Golan from Syria

Saada tribes: We reject the Houthi coup backed by Iran

Yemeni forces fire missiles at 'economic targets' in Saudi capital

Netanyahu sets off to Russia after Israel strikes Syrian army positions

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Africa

Investigations Reveal Sudan Is Safe Haven For IS Group

Blast kills 11 people in Somali khat market near Mogadishu

Tackle Lake Chad environment to stop Boko Haram: experts

Boko Haram: 2 teenagers killed in failed Borno suicide attack

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau

URL: http://www.newageislam.com/islamic-world-news/new-age-islam-news-bureau/trump’s-decision-could-end-the-very-empire-he’s-trying-to-protect--scholar/d/115204

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Trump’s decision could end the very Empire he’s trying to protect: Scholar

May 9, 2018

US President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw the United States from the Iran nuclear deal is going to be catastrophe for the very Empire that Trump says he is trying to protect, according to E. Michael Jones, an American scholar and political analyst in Indiana.

Jones, a writer, former professor, media commentator and the current editor of the Culture Wars magazine, made the remarks in a phone interview with Press TV on Wednesday, a day after Trump announced that he was pulling the US out of the nuclear agreement, formally called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JPCOA), which was negotiated and signed by his predecessor, Barack Obama.

In a televised speech from the White House, Trump also said that he would reinstate nuclear sanctions on Iran. “We will be instituting the highest level of economic sanctions."

Trump’s decision risked alienating America’s European allies who warned the administration that the JPCOA was a multilateral pact that could not be terminated by only one party. It also raised the prospect of another conflict in the Middle East, they warned.

“As everyone expected Donald Trump has announced the United States is revoking or pulling out from the Iran nuclear deal,” Jones said.

“He did this because he needs the support of America’s Jews, and the Israel lobby, in order to stay in power and to protect himself from the US Deep State,” he stated. 

“So the question now that this has happened, now that he pulled out, what is going to happen,” he said.

“I have been all along that the main fallout here comes from the fact that he is going to reimpose the sanctions, if he re-imposes the sanctions this means that Germany and England have announced that they are not going to go along with the deal,” the analyst noted. 

“All these European countries have already signed deals with Iran. And now if they reimpose the sanctions, that means the United States will be in an economic warfare with Europe, with its partners in NATO. This is going to be catastrophe for the very empire that Trump says he is trying to protect here,” he said. 

“You will be waging economic warfare against Germany. Germany has already gone on record, saying, ‘This is illegal. And they are not going to follow it.’ This is going to break up the NATO,” he observed.

“Germany cannot afford at this point to go along with these sanctions. Nobody in Europe can afford to go along with this,” he said.

“What Trump has done here is unite the entire world against him and Israel. This is a catastrophe on any rational point of view for the United States and its interests abroad,” the commentator concluded.

http://www.presstv.com/Detail/2018/05/09/561180/Trumps-decision-could-end-the-very-Empire-hes-trying-to-protect

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Out On Bail, 26/11 Mumbai Attacks Mastermind Lakhvi Raising Funds in Pakistan

Bharti Jain

May 10, 2018

NEW DELHI: Pakistan-based mastermind of 26/11 Mumbai attacks and top Lashker-e-Taiba commander Zaki-ur Rehman Lakhvi has resurfaced for the first time after being released on bail by the Lahore high court in 2015, and is allegedly collecting donations from wheat farmers in Punjab province to fund the outfit's terror activities .

According to intelligence inputs with the Indian agencies, Lakhvi - a most-wanted terrorist in India - continues to head the outfit's operations despite being away from the public eye since his release from Rawalpindi's Adiala jail in April 2015. He resurfaced in February 2018 and is actively organising collection of donations in Punjab coinciding with the wheat harvesting season, sources told TOI .

LeT continues to raise finances through various charities, with new names lately being added to the list, despite the sword of Financial Action Task Force (FATF) hanging over Pakistan. In February this year, FATF had said it would put Pakistan back on its watch-list or "greylist" from June 2018 over its failure to crack down on terrorist outfits.

LeT chief Hafiz Saeed continues to address public meetings in Pakistan and hopes to enter the political arena by getting the Jamaat ud Dawah's political front, Milli Muslim League, to contest elections.

LeT has also launched a magazine by the name 'Wyeth' (meaning 'The Resistance in Flow') with a focus on Kashmir. The 20-page, maiden issue of the magazine, seeks to encourage and motivate Kashmiris to join terrorist ranks.

The magazine stresses that India's 'Operation All-Out' in Kashmir is backfiring as more Kashmiri youths are joining terrorist ranks.

The magazine carries an interview of LeT spokesperson Abdullah Ghaznawi where he declares: "Year 2018 would be tough for Indian Army... Our freedom struggle is heading towards conclusion. India has already lost the war and is breathing its last. "

An intelligence officer claimed ‘Wyeth’ misquotes the Prophet and states that jihad is the only practical way of spreading Islam. It uses some ten-odd verses from Quran, which were relevant to the war to liberate Mecca, and tries to show that this is true religion.

“The reality and context of these verses has been correctly shown in the recent fatwa against terror in all forms, by Jamiat Ahle Hadis. The same was reiterated by King Hussein of Jordan when he visited India on March 1, at Vigyan Bhavan, where PM hosted a conference of Muslim scholars and religious heads, to welcome the King. Maulana Mehmood Madani (head of Jamiat Ulema Hind) had stressed that for Indian Muslims, nation was supreme,” said the officer.

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/out-on-bail-lakhvi-raising-funds/articleshow/64102389.cms

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UNSC urges Myanmar to punish abusers of Muslim minority

May 10, 2018

The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) has called on Myanmar’s government to hold accountable the perpetrators of widespread violence against the Rohingya Muslim minority in the Buddhist-majority country’s northwest over the past year and a half.

The 15-member body — which includes Myanmar’s ally China — stressed in a statement on Wednesday the importance of conducting “transparent investigations” into accusations of violence against Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar’s northwestern Rakhine State and giving immediate aid access to the troubled region.

“The members of the Security Council, in light of the importance of undertaking transparent investigations into allegations of human rights abuses and violations, urge the government of Myanmar to fulfill, based on respect for the rule of law, its stated commitment to holding accountable perpetrators of violence, including sexual violence and abuse and violence against children,” the Council said.

The statement came days after a team of UN envoys met Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh for the first time to hear the sufferings of some 700,000 Muslims who have escaped a campaign of violence, rape, and arson by the military in Myanmar.

The UN envoys were also granted a rare visit to Rakhine.

The UNSC statement said that during the visit to Rakhine, members observed “widespread destruction of villages” and “were struck by the scale of the humanitarian crisis and remain gravely concerned by the current situation.”

The Council called on Myanmar’s government to conclude an agreement “in the coming days” with the UN refugee agency on repatriating refugees from Bangladesh and creating conditions for their “safe, voluntary and dignified return” to their homes in Rakhine.

A day before the UNSC statement, four human rights groups urged the world body to refer Myanmar to the International Criminal Court (ICC) for crimes against humanity.

The four rights groups, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, the Global Center for the Responsibility to Protect and Fortify Rights, said Myanmar’s government was incapable of bringing those responsible for the brutal violence to justice.

Myanmar has come under intense criticism since its military launched a deadly crackdown against the Muslim minority in Rakhine in late 2016. Thousands of the Muslims have been killed. About 700,000 others have fled to neighboring Bangladesh since August last year, bringing with them horrifying accounts of massacres, gang rape, and arson by Myanmar’s military forces and Buddhist mobs.

The international medics who have examined the refugees have verified that their bodily injuries conform to the accounts of violence, including rape.

The UN has previously described the violence against the Rohingya as “ethnic cleansing” and possibly “genocide.”

It was unlikely that the UNSC call would be heeded. Myanmar has denied that violence has taken place. It has also bulldozed the formerly Muslim-majority villages in Rakhine and has set up encampments to settle Buddhists shuttled in from elsewhere in the country. An agreement with Bangladesh to return the Rohingya also remains stalled due to safety concerns by the Muslim refugees.

http://www.presstv.com/Detail/2018/05/10/561203/UN-Security-Council-Myanmar-Rohingya-Muslims-investigation

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Husain Haqqani: 'Pakistani military fears ethno-linguistic identities'

May 10, 2018

Husain Haqqani: The idea of my latest book was born in a conversation many years ago, when Salman Rushdie [novelist] said, "If nations are imagined communities, Pakistan is poorly imagined." There were some valid criticisms about how Pakistan was created in a hurry. The generation before us had to suddenly stop being Indian and start being Pakistani; they needed an ideology. I am a Pakistani by birth, so I don't need it.

In my book, I thought how I could contribute to the process of reimagining Pakistan. The good thing about imagination is that what is poorly imagined can be reimagined. That is why I wrote this book.

70 years of ideological orientation cannot be reversed overnight. Any attempt to phase out the invoking of religion as ideology would have to be gradual. Pakistan's civilian and military leaders would have to work together to ensure over time that Pakistanis realize the pitfalls of their contrived national narrative. The first step in that direction would be to trigger a debate over alternative paths for the country, something that has almost been shut down since former military dictator General Zia-ul-Haq's era.

There are those who would argue that the state ideology has helped Pakistan survive against the threat of disintegration, especially after the loss of Bangladesh. But that suggests that Pakistan, as a nation and as a state, cannot sustain itself except through ideological rhetoric, which, in turn, must be sustained through issues that mean little for most people in the 21st century. If that is the case, Pakistan has no choice but to stay mired in conceptual argumentation as Islamization has proved to be a recipe for unceasing internal conflict.

The alternative is for Pakistan to evolve as a functional, territorial nation state and a working federation of its various component ethnicities and nationalities. For that to happen, its leaders must take a stand against the unidimensional preoccupation with ideology.

The Pakistani military has always feared ethno-linguistic identities and believed they would result in a break up of Pakistan. Any demands for more autonomy or creation of states based on ethnic or linguistic bases are perceived as anti-national and other countries (especially India and Afghanistan) are accused of helping these demands. The separation of Pakistan's eastern wing in 1971 only reinforced these fears.

Pakistan's ideological national identity has always been seen as the glue that will tie disparate ethnicities together and will over time reduce the ethnic-linguistic bonds. The truth is justice, fair treatment and a genuine federalism is the real way to keep Pakistan together and to make it stronger.

At independence, the Pakistani state feared Pashtun irredentist demands. This led to the policy of encouraging Islamization in the northwestern regions of the country as a counter to nationalist Pashtun sentiments. The Pakistani "deep state" is unable to view any peaceful movement as genuine because this runs counter to their narrative about Pakistan. Just as the Baluch uprising is treated as anti-national so is the Pashtun awakening seen as against Pakistani interests. But the Pashtun Tahafuz Movement is a genuine popular movement seeking human rights and protection of the Pashtun peoples' lives and dignity. There is no evidence that the thousands of young people joining it are foreign supported or externally inspired.

Nawaz Sharif's ouster only reinforces what can best be described as Pakistan's viceregal tradition. Elected politicians are subject to the whims and "superior judgment" of appointed generals, judges, and civil servants, just as they were during the British colonial era. One need not be convinced of Sharif's innocence to note that in the last 70 years, all elected Pakistani prime ministers have either been assassinated, dismissed or forced to resign by heads of state with military backing, or deposed in coups d'état. Sharif was himself a protégé of the military establishment once but now that he challenges them, he is being targeted through courts that once gave him carte blanche.

The Trump administration has taken a tough stance against Pakistan in relation to Islamabad's alleged support to Islamists. What should Pakistan do to allay US concerns?

The Trump administration's policies reflect the deep mistrust that has characterized the US-Pakistan relationship. At the heart of that dysfunction is the divergence of core interests in South Asia. Even at the height of the alliance, the United States never shared Pakistan's views about its co-leadership in the region and its envisioning of India as a major threat to its neighbors.

The Americans doled out military assistance and economic support in return for favors such as intelligence bases against the Soviet Union and China during the 1950s and 60s as well as for using Pakistan as the staging ground for jihad against the Soviets in Afghanistan during the 1980s.

Pakistan, on the other hand, single-mindedly defined its national interest in terms of rivalry with India. The Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan was not the end of jihad for Pakistan but the beginning of an opportunity to expand jihad to Kashmir and even India. Turning Afghanistan into a satellite with the help of obscurantist proxies like the Taliban and the Haqqani Network became an obsession for the all-powerful Pakistani military and intelligence services. Even blowback in the form of extremist attacks inside Pakistan did not alter that calculus.

The US understood that Pakistan was not on board with its vision for Afghanistan as well as the entire region. But there were NATO transshipments and intelligence sharing to consider. Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama also hoped that incentives, and occasional threats, would eventually lead Pakistan to change its strategic calculus. For that reason they put up with a situation in which American troops died in Afghanistan at the hands of fighters who received assistance and protection across the border, in the territory of an ostensible ally who received economic and military assistance from the US.

Meanwhile, Pakistan's military believed that the policies it was pursuing are in the country's "national interest" as the generals define it. They would not change their definition of national interest until the cost of pursuing it became higher than what they are willing to bear.

American and Pakistani interests can converge only when one of the two countries changes its definition of its interests in Afghanistan, in relation to terrorism, and about China's primacy in the Indo-Pacific region.

http://www.dw.com/en/husain-haqqani-pakistani-military-fears-ethno-linguistic-identities/a-43713351

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92 Year Old Mahathir Takes the Helm, Gains Surprise Victory in Malaysian Elections

MAY 10, 2018

Malaysia’s veteran ex-leader Mahathir Mohamad, 92, won a historic election victory Thursday, in a political earthquake that toppled the country’s scandal-plagued premier and ousted a regime that had ruled for over six decades.

In a stunning political upset that took pundits by surprise, Mahathir’s opposition alliance ended the long hold on power of the Barisan Nasional coalition, which has been in power in Malaysia since its birth as an independent country in 1957.

The thumping victory capped a dramatic political comeback for Mahathir, who previously ruled the country with an iron fist for 22 years and came out of retirement to take on Prime Minister Najib Razak after the leader became embroiled in a massive corruption scandal.

When he takes power, Mahathir will be the oldest prime minister in the world.

Despite the shock result there were no reports of trouble on the streets, where pockets of celebration erupted overnight.

A flag-waving crowd of supporters gathered on a field outside the headquarters of Mahathir’s party near Kuala Lumpur.

Suva Selvan, a 48-year-old doctor, said he felt the country had just won its independence.

“I feel that with this change we probably can see something better in the future… our hope for the future is a better government, fair, free and united,” he told AFP.

Defeat could just be the beginning of Najib’s troubles. Mahathir has vowed to bring him to justice over allegations that billions of dollars were looted from sovereign wealth fund 1MDB, which the scandal-hit leader set up and oversaw.

But at a press conference after his win, Mahathir vowed: “We are not seeking revenge. We want to restore the rule of law.”

He said he would be sworn in Thursday.

Mahathir’s return to the political frontlines saw him throw in his lot with an opposition alliance filled with parties that he crushed while in power, and which includes jailed opposition icon Anwar Ibrahim — his former nemesis.

Anwar is due to be released from prison in June. Mahathir has vowed to get him a royal pardon, and later hand over the premiership to him.

As well as seizing control of the national government, several state legislatures across the country fell into opposition hands for the first time, including the highly symbolic bastion of Johor, the birthplace of Najib’s party that was the lynchpin of the ruling coalition.

Official results from the Election Commission showed that Mahathir’s opposition grouping Pakatan Harapan, along with a small ally, had secured 121 parliamentary seats. 112 are needed to form a government.

BN got 79 seats –- a dramatic drop from the 133 they held previously.

Najib was nowhere to be seen as the evening wore on, and was believed to have holed up inside his house for talks with senior members of BN.

The opposition win was particularly striking as critics said that Najib tried everything he could to cling to power.

His government was accused of pushing a redrawing of electoral boundaries through parliament that created constituencies packed with the country’s Muslim Malay majority, who have traditionally supported BN.

He called the election on a weekday — polls are typically held at the weekend in Malaysia — in what observers said was an effort to keep turnout down, which would hurt the opposition. In the event, voters flocked to the polls in huge numbers.

Ultimately the explosive allegations of corruption, coupled with anger at rising living costs, proved too much for Malaysia’s 15 million voters, already sick of racially divisive politics in the multi-ethnic country and graft scandals under years of BN rule.

In Mahathir, the opposition found the perfect person to take on Najib. He is a staunch Malay nationalist who could appeal to the country’s biggest ethnic group, and whose years in power were remembered as a prosperous period in the country’s history.

The initial euphoria at the opposition victory will likely give way to some apprehension.

Mahathir was also accused of being an authoritarian leader, and political opponents were thrown in jail during his time in office.

https://dailytimes.com.pk/238212/92-year-old-mahatir-takes-the-helm-gains-surprise-victory-in-malaysian-elections/

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Vatican denies deal with Saudi Arabia to build churches

May 10, 2018

The Vatican has stated that the reports claiming that it signed a deal with the government of Saudi Arabia to build churches from Christian were “false.”

A report published by the Egypt Independent has claimed that the agreement was signed by the Secretary-General of the Muslim World League Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdel Karim Al-Issa and the President of the Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue in the Vatican and the French cardinal of the Catholic Church Jean-Louis Tauran.

The agreement to build churches for Christians was supposedly a part of the Saudi Arabian government’s effort to demonstrate the role of religions and cultures in the fight against terrorism and extremism.

Tauran had met with members of the Saudi Royal family earlier this year during his visit to the Middle Eastern country.

During the visit, Tauran and the Saudi crown prince discussed the government’s use of media and technology in its campaign to “disrupt extremist recruitment and promote tolerance.”

“I think we have two enemies: extremism and ignorance,” Tauran stated at the time, according to Daily Mail.

“I don’t believe in the clash of civilisation but rather in the clash of ignorance. Most of the time people react because they don’t know who you are or who they are,” he added.

The cardinal had reportedly signed an agreement with the Muslim World League, a government-backed organization that has been tasked with propagating the Wahhabi form of Islam.

The deal reportedly involves regular inter-religious summits organized by Saudi and Vatican delegations.

Upon his return, Tauran stated that his visit could be an indication of greater “openness” and desire for “rapprochement” with Christianity from Saudi Arabia, the only country in the Middle East without a Christian church.

In recent months, Saudi leaders have met with various Christian leaders, including the head of Lebanon’s Maronite church, Beshara Rai.

Rai had met with King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman during his visit to Riyadh in November.

Additionally, the prince had also met with Jewish and Catholic leaders during his trip to New York in March.

The reformist prince has been trying to clean up the image of his kingdom, which has often been linked to jihadist ideology.

It is estimated that 1.5 million Christians, most of whom are migrant workers, are currently residing in Saudi Arabia, where all forms of public worship are forbidden except for Islam.

According to Russia Today, a proposal to build a church was announced back in 2008, but the plan was abandoned at a later stage.

http://mattersindia.com/2018/05/vatican-denies-deal-with-saudi-arabia-to-build-churches/

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North America

 

Trump deserves impeachment for Iran deal withdrawal: Waters

May 10, 2018

US President Donald Trump deserves impeachment over his decision to withdraw from the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and six world powers, says a top Democratic lawmaker.

Representative Maxine Waters, a firm critic of Trump, said in a tweet on Wednesday that the Republican president "thinks he knows better" than all the negotiators and major American allies – the UK, France and Germany—who negotiated the deal with Iran under former President Barack Obama.

"Trump, further isolating the United States, thinks he knows better than our negotiators and all of our global allies who agreed to the Iran deal," she tweeted. "How long do we have to suffer his gigantic ego and narcissistic behavior? Impeachment is the only answer." 

Trump declared Tuesday that his country would pull out of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA, saying Washington would not only reinstate the anti-Iran sanctions lifted as part of the deal, but will also “be instituting the highest level of economic” bans against the Islamic Republic.

The JCPOA came out of years of negotiations between Iran on one side and six world powers, namely the US, Russia, China, France, Britain and Germany, on the other, in July 2015.

Apart from Democrats, many of Trump’s allies in the Republican Party had warned him against the decision.

Leaders of Germany, France, Britain, Russia, China as well as the United Nations have condemned the move, calling for the deal to be kept in place.

Some Democrats in the US House of Representatives have thrown their weight behind an effort to introduce articles of impeachment against Trump, but the movement has failed to gain traction among party leaders.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and several other ranking Democrats have blocked the efforts, arguing that the push by Waters and other lawmakers to impeach Trump was a "gift" for Republicans ahead of crucial midterm elections in November.

“On the political side I think it’s a gift to the Republicans,” Pelosi said during a press briefing in April. “We want to talk about what they’re doing to undermine working families in our country and what we are doing to increase their payrolls and lower their costs.”

http://www.presstv.com/Detail/2018/05/10/561207/US-Trump-Iran-deal-impeachment-Iran-deal

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Appeals Court Bars U.S. From Transferring American ISIS Suspect

By Charlie Savage

May 9, 2018

WASHINGTON — The United States cannot forcibly transfer an American citizen being held in Iraq as an Islamic State suspect to the custody of another country without first proving that he is an enemy combatant, a federal appeals court has ruled.

A major decision on presidential war powers and individual rights, the ruling was handed down by a three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia on Monday and unsealed on Wednesday. It rejected the Trump administration’s argument that it has the authority to transfer the man against his will.

“We cannot accept the government’s argument,” Judge Sri Srinivasan wrote. “We know of no instance — in the history of the United States — in which the government has taken an American citizen found in one foreign country and forcibly transferred her to the custody of another foreign country.”

The man, an American-born dual citizen of Saudi Arabia whose name has not been made public, was captured by a Syrian militia in September and turned over to the American military. The Trump administration wants to transfer the man to another country — apparently Saudi Arabia — but he has objected.

However, Judge Srinivasan wrote, if a review were to find that the government is lawfully holding the man as an enemy combatant, that would likely give American officials the legal authority to transfer the man to an ally in the fight against the Islamic State, also known as ISIS.

The man has apparently said he went to Syria to be a journalist and was arrested by the Islamic State, then worked for the group as a condition of being freed from prison. But the government has said it seized Islamic State records that show he registered with the group as a fighter.

The majority ruling upheld a decision last month by Judge Tanya S. Chutkan of the Federal District Court to block the Trump administration from transferring the man.

Asked whether the Justice Department will appeal again or proceed to a hearing before Judge Chutkan over the merits of the man’s claim that he is not being lawfully detained, Kerri Kupec, a department spokeswoman, said it was still considering its next steps.

The activities the man is accused of with the Islamic State “implicate numerous national security, law enforcement, international relations and foreign policy concerns,” Ms. Kupec said. “Both domestic and international law confer on the U.S. military broad discretion over battlefield operations, including the transfer of individuals captured on overseas battlefields.”

Judge Srinivasan was joined by Judge Robert L. Wilkins. Both are appointees of former President Barack Obama. But their ruling was not unanimous. The third judge on the panel, Karen L. Henderson, an appointee of President George Bush, dissented, arguing that the administration should be able to transfer the battlefield captive without further ado.

The majority’s ruling, she argued, was itself without precedent, and risked disrupting “military operations and sovereign-to-sovereign relations half a world away.”

Jonathan Hafetz, an American Civil Liberties Union lawyer representing the man, invoked the Supreme Court’s landmark 2004 ruling in the case of Yaser Esam Hamdi, a dual American-Saudi citizen who was captured in Afghanistan. In that case, the court ruled that the man could be held indefinitely without trial as a wartime detainee, but only if he got a hearing at which the government presented sufficient evidence to show he was part of the enemy.

Full report at:

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/05/09/us/politics/american-isis-suspect-appeals-ruling.html

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Mattis vows to work with allies after Iran pullout

09 May 2018

The United States will keep working with allies to prevent a nuclear Iran, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said Wednesday, a day after President Donald Trump withdrew from a deal aimed at doing just that.

"We will continue to work alongside our allies and partners to ensure that Iran can never acquire a nuclear weapon, and will work with others to address the range of Iran's malign influence," Mattis told a Senate panel.

"This administration remains committed to putting the safety, interests and well-being of our citizens first."

But he has been a staunch advocate of working with allies and became a quiet defender of the Iran deal as Trump mulled pulling out.

In October, he said it was in the US national interest to remain in the deal.

In January, he said the Iran deal was "imperfect" but added that "when America gives her word, we have to live up to it and work with our allies."

Last month, he said the deal allowed for "pretty robust" inspections of Iranian facilities.

Full report at:

http://www.worldbulletin.net/america-canada/201898/mattis-vows-to-work-with-allies-after-iran-pullout

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Man Pleads Guilty to Vandalizing Tennessee Islamic Centre

May 9, 2018

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — A man pleaded guilty Wednesday to vandalizing a Tennessee Islamic Center last July with profane references to Allah in spray-paint and strips of bacon, federal prosecutors said.

Charles Dwight Stout III, 20, was initially charged with civil rights violations and obstruction of justice.

Stout now faces a year of supervision and must pay for the damage after pleading guilty to conspiracy and to causing damage to religious property because of its religious character, U.S. Attorney Donald Cochran said.

A judge will determine how much Stout will have to pay at a sentencing hearing in August.

Stout and a co-defendant, Thomas Gibbs, apologized to the congregation in Murfreesboro during a service focused on forgiveness in March. Stout said he was "very, very sorry" and that he could "imagine the disappointment and the hurt and the fear I caused." He said he wouldn't want anyone to do that to his church.

Gibbs called his actions "dumb, foolish and immature."

After the service, numerous men approached the men with open arms and smiles. A spokesman for the center said Islam teaches forgiveness, and it's better to forgive and correct than condemn and punish.

Gibbs' case is still going through the system. He has pleaded not guilty.

The Islamic Center of Murfreesboro has faced opposition for years in the suburb of Nashville. The center has endured public protests, vandalism, arson of a construction vehicle and a bomb threat since announcing its expansion.

Full report at:

https://www.usnews.com/news/best-states/tennessee/articles/2018-05-09/man-pleads-guilty-to-vandalizing-tennessee-islamic-center

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India

 

Saving Taj Mahal: SC says throw out ASI, govt says calling experts

by Ananthakrishnan G

May 10, 2018

With the Supreme Court making clear that the Archaeological Survey of India “will have to be thrown out of the picture” if the Taj Mahal has to be saved, the Centre Wednesday informed the court it was considering the suggestion to involve international experts in the conservation of the 17th century monument.

Additional Solicitor General A N S Nadkarni conveyed this to the bench of Justices Madan B Lokur and Deepak Gupta which has been hearing a matter related to the protection of the Taj.

Expressing concern that the marble structure was turning green, the bench on May 1 asked the Centre and Uttar Pradesh government to think of hiring experts from outside if local experts could not do the job. “You all appear to be helpless. Money should not be the consideration. We might order you to hire experts from within India or abroad. We need to save it,” the bench said.

Nadkarni said the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change was considering the court’s suggestion.

The court was upset with the role of the ASI which, in a report, suggested that stagnation of water in the Yamuna river and high phosphorus in the riverbed had made it a breeding ground for insects that formed patches on the walls of the Taj every summer. To resolve this, the ASI suggested that the water level of the Yamuna be increased and sources of pollution be plugged immediately to stop algae formation on the river bank.

These insects, the ASI report stated, disappeared during winter and reappeared in April. It said they were also fewer in number during the monsoon. The problem, the report stated, had increased since 2015. Earlier, the insects would be eaten by the fish in the Yamuna but marine life, the report stated, had disappeared due to increasing toxicity caused by pollution.

Hauling up the ASI, the bench said: “This situation would not have arisen if the ASI had done its job. We are surprised with the way the ASI is defending itself.”

The judges told Nadkarni: “You (Centre) please consider if the ASI is needed there or not. The view of ASI is very clear from their submissions. They are not prepared to accept the problem… you have to remove the ASI because they are saying they are doing an excellent job. ASI will have to be thrown out of the picture.”

The bench asked ASI counsel A D N Rao whether algae could fly and how it had reached the top of the structure. Rao said the problem would remain as long as there was water stagnation in the river which, he said, had become a dumping ground for waste.

On the marble changing colour, Rao said one of the reasons was the high turnout of visitors who entered with dirty socks. While dignitaries who visited the monument were provided socks, the others carried their own, he pointed out.

Appearing for the UP government, Additional Solicitor General Tushar Mehta informed the bench that a vision document on protection and preservation of Taj and environment in the Taj Trapezium Zone (TTZ) was under preparation and would be finalised by July — the TTZ is spread over 10,400 sq km, across the districts of Agra, Firozabad, Mathura, Hathras and Etah in Uttar Pradesh and Bharatpur in Rajasthan. He said the report will soon be filed in court following which the bench adjourned the matter.

http://indianexpress.com/article/india/saving-taj-mahal-supreme-court-says-throw-out-asi-govt-says-calling-experts-5170706/

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Ramzan here, Amarnath Yatra starts next month, declare ceasefire: J&K parties to Delhi

by Bashaarat Masood

May 10, 2018

With the Ramadan here and the Amarnath Yatra starting next month, an all-party meeting Wednesday urged the Centre to “consider” announcing ceasefire in Jammu and Kashmir.

Emerging from a marathon meeting attended by all mainstream parties, Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti said: “The consensus of all was that we should appeal to the Government of India to consider, on the eve of Ramadan and Amarnath Yatra, the unilateral ceasefire… The way (Atal Bihari) Vajpayee did a unilateral ceasefire in 2000… the Government of India should think on those lines so that people get relief.”

With BJP leader and Deputy Chief Minister Kavinder Gupta by her side, Mufti said: “Crackdowns are happening, encounters are happening and search operations are happening, people are facing a lot of hardship. And now it is the month of Ramadan and the Amarnath Yatra is starting, we should make efforts to take steps that restore the confidence of people here”.

Kavinder Gupta told The Indian Express that his party’s stand was “what the Chief Minister said”.

But state BJP chief spokesperson Sunil Sethi had a different view. “Our point of view is that a ceasefire at this stage will not solve the problem. Rather it will aggravate it as the Army has an upper hand at the moment. We have cornered the militants and this breathing period will be used by them to regroup.’’

While leaders from other parties took on the PDP-BJP government over its “failure to implement” the Agenda of Alliance, there was consensus on the need for the Centre to announce an unilateral ceasefire.

“We have put this (ceasefire) demand in the meeting,” National Conference leader Ali Mohammad Sagar said. “If they (government) have to improve the situation here, they will have to do it (announce unilateral ceasefire)”.

The Congress too supported the unilateral ceasefire demand: “All Opposition parties said about it (ceasefire). We had said it in the previous all-party meeting as well that there should be unilateral ceasefire as happened previously.”

The meeting that lasted over four hours also recommended that an all-party delegation from Jammu and Kashmir meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The National Conference, however, is yet to take a final call on this and will decide only after its senior leaders consult each other.

“My people suggested that we should together meet the Prime Minister and apprise him of our concerns as far as the situation in Jammu and Kashmir is concerned,” Chief Minister Mufti said. “We should request the Prime Minister to implement what he said in his August 15 speech — where he talked about hugging the people of Jammu and Kashmir.”

Full report at:

http://indianexpress.com/article/india/ramzan-here-amarnath-yatra-starts-next-month-declare-ceasefire-jk-parties-to-delhi-mehbooba-mufti-5170680/

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India sends second relief consignment for Rohingya Muslims in Bangladesh

May 9, 2018

India has sent to Bangladesh its second relief consignment to help tens of thousands of displaced Rohingya Muslims who fled Myanmar following a military crackdown, triggering one of the world’s worst refugee crises. Over 600,000 Rohingyas have fled Myanmar’s violence-hit Rakhine state to neighbouring Bangladesh since August when the military intensified crackdown against alleged militant outfits of Rohingya Muslims. Indian Navy Ship INS Airavat sailed from Vishakhapatnam and reached Chattogram port (formerly Chittagong) Port yesterday where Indian High Commissioner Harsh Vardhan Shringla handed over the relief consignment to Disaster Management and Relief Minister Mofazzel Hussain Chowdhury Maya.

Officials familiar with the development said the 373-tonne consignment contained 104 tonnes of milk powder, 102 tonnes of dried fish, 61 tonnes of baby food, 50,000 raincoats and 50,000 pairs of gum boots. “Another tranche containing 1 million litres of kerosene oil and 20,000 cooking stoves is expected to arrive soon,” Shringla said. He said India sent the relief in view of the specific needs of the “large number of (Rohingya) women and children living in the camps and the onset of monsoon”.

“We hope this will bring some succour to the people living in camps,” he said. Bangladesh has repeatedly sought India’s help to put pressure on Myanmar to resolve the Rohingya crisis. During a recent high-level visit of UN Security Council, Bangladesh called upon India as well as Russia, China and Japan to play a stronger role for Rohingya’s secured and dignified repatriation. Earlier, Bangladesh premier Sheikh Hasina engaged the foreign ministry to pursue a vigorous diplomacy with countries having direct borders with Myanmar along with Russia and sought enhanced Indian engagement in resolving the crisis.

“We want India to mount pressure on Myanmar so they quickly take back their displaced people,” Hasina had told a visiting non-government Indian delegation. She had warned that Rohingyas’ longer stay in Bangladesh could create a security crisis, arguing that “when people remain frustrated and have no work, they could easily be indulged in militancy”.

“We understand that the influx of large number of refugees has created unprecedented challenges for the government and people of Bangladesh,” Shringla said. India’s foreign secretary Vijay Gokhale, who was in Dhaka last month, said “India has been fully supportive of the efforts being made to resolve the crisis, including early repatriation of the displaced people”.

Full report at:

http://indianexpress.com/article/india/india-sends-second-relief-consignment-for-rohingya-muslims-in-bangladesh/

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Gurgaon DC asks for list of places where namaz will be held

by Sakshi Dayal

May 10, 2018

Two days before Friday namaz in Gurgaon, the deputy commissioner has asked representatives of the Muslim community to prepare a list of places where prayers will be offered so that security arrangements can be made accordingly.

Speaking to The Indian Express after discussing the matter with representatives of the Muslim community as well as the Sanyukt Hindu Sangharsh Samiti in separate meetings, the deputy commissioner offered reassurance that peace will be ensured, unlike last Friday when prayers were disrupted by various outfits at several locations.

“I met with both groups today and have secured their word that all communication and contact between them henceforth will go through the district administration and officials. This will prevent an outbreak of violence or friction during namaz this week,” said Chander Shekhar Khare, who has stepped in as the deputy commissioner of Gurgaon while Vinay Pratap Singh is on leave.

“We are also working with the Muslim community to come up with a list of places where namaz will be read, so police personnel can be deployed as a precautionary measure,” he said.

Wajid Khan, who heads the Nehru Yuva Sangathan Welfare Society Charitable Trust, said the community has come up with a list of 90 places, which will be handed over to officials Thursday.

Full report at:

http://indianexpress.com/article/cities/delhi/gurgaon-dc-asks-for-list-of-places-where-namaz-will-be-held-5170594/

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Terror-funding, stone-throwing rising in Jammu and Kashmir: Hansraj Gangaram Ahir

by Rahul Tripathi

May 10, 2018

Acknowledging that incidents of stone-pelting and terror-funding in the Valley is on the rise again, Minister of State for Home Affairs Hansraj Gangaram Ahir on Wednesday said that the Centre’s approach on Kashmir will “not change”, and that the Army, central armed forces and the state police will continue operations to “flush out militants”.

“In the last few weeks, the incidents of stone-pelting have risen. It may be because of Pakistan. Army, CRPF and the police have been effectively dealing with the situation, and they will continue with their operations in the Valley,” Ahir told The Indian Express.

On amnesty to first-time stone-pelters, Ahir said, “It was a good initiative. So far, it has not come to light in our inquiry that those released on amnesty were involved in recent stone-pelting incidents (including Monday’s incident, in which a 22-year-old tourist from Chennai was killed). Strict action will be taken against those involved.”

He said, “The death of a tourist is very unfortunate. For Kashmir, tourism is important and a lot of people’s survival depends on it.”

In November last year, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) had advised the Jammu and Kashmir government to withdraw cases against 740 first-time stone-pelters. Of these 740 people, 40 were lodged in prison when the amnesty was announced — 20 of them were reportedly below 18 years.

More than 11,000 FIRs have been registered against stone-pelters in the Valley since July 2016, when the recent round of unrest began in the Valley following the death of top Hizbul Mujahideen militant Burhan Wani in an encounter. Of these, over 4,400 cases were registered against youths who were first-time offenders.

Ahir, who is in-charge of the J&K division in MHA, also acknowledged that despite the crackdown last year on funding for separatists, the flow of money is back. “It was an effort by the government to curb funding of militants in the Valley. However, Pakistan is using all tactics to pump money and militants into the Valley and has been successful on some occasions. We will continue with our efforts to choke funding. It’s an ongoing process, and all the agencies are working towards it.”

Full report at:

http://indianexpress.com/article/india/terror-funding-stone-throwing-rising-in-jammu-and-kashmir-hansraj-gangaram-ahir-5170530/

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Civilian killings: J&K Police bust Lashkar-e-Toiba module operating in Baramulla, Sopore

by Mir Ehsan |

May 10, 2018

Two days after four militants and six overground workers (OGW) were arrested in north Kashmir’s Baramulla and Sopore districts, the police Wednesday claimed to have busted a Lashkar-e-Toiba module, which was behind the May 1 civilian killings.

Asif Ahmad Sheikh (23), Haseeb Ahmad Khan (18) and Mohammad Ashgar (21) — residents of Kakar Hamam area of the district — were shot dead from a point blank range outside a shop in Iqbal Market by at least three gunmen earlier this month.

Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) of Baramulla Imtiyaz Hussain Wednesday confirmed the four militants — Bilal Ahmad Najar, Suhaib Akhoon, Aijaz Gojree and Mohsin Bhat — were responsible for killings. The group confessed that they belonged to a Lashkar module and had links in Pakistan, he said, adding that Suhaib Akhoon had also received training in a Lashkar camp in the neighbouring country.

The SSP said during searches in Hajibal-Drangbal forest area after the triple murder, one of the militants was captured. The arrested militant later led to their hideout, from where the three other militants were arrested.

SSP Hussain said that on May 1, Suhaib Akhoon, Aijaz Gojree and Bilal Najar shot the three youths from a point blank range and escaped to the Hajibal-Drangbal forest area in a car. Police have recovered two AK rifles and a Chinese pistol that were used in the crime and also detained the car owner.

According to the police, names of at least two youths, who were killed, “had figured in a threatening video issued by the Lashkar in 2016” for allegedly have links with the security forces. The police sources added that with the arrest of the militants and six OGWs, the Lashkar module operating in Sopore-Baramulla area, was busted.

Full report at:

http://indianexpress.com/article/india/jammu-and-kashmir-police-bust-lashkar-e-toiba-module-operating-in-baramulla-sopore-5170547/

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South Asia

 

Suicide bombers, gunmen attack Kabul police stations

May 09, 2018

Suicide bombers and gunmen launched apparent coordinated attacks on two Kabul police stations on Wednesday, with security forces still searching buildings for some of the assailants.

A series of loud explosions rocked the Afghan capital in the late morning and were quickly followed by volleys of gunfire as police engaged in fierce battles with militants.

At least two officers were killed and half a dozen civilians were wounded in the attacks, one of which was ongoing, police and health officials said, as the city braces for more violence in the coming days.

After an easing of attacks in Kabul in February and March, Taliban and Islamic State militants have stepped up assaults in the city in recent weeks.

IS claimed responsibility for the first attack on a police station in a heavily Shiite-populated neighbourhood in the city's west, which police spokesman Hashmatullah Estanakzai told AFP had ended.

Interior ministry spokesman Najib Danish said a suicide bomber blew himself up outside the station, triggering an intense gunfight.

"Two attackers were killed. Two policemen also lost their lives and two policemen are wounded," Estanakzai said.

Ariana TV footage showed a thick plume of black smoke rising into the sky while a photo posted on Twitter purportedly of the west Kabul police station showed a building on fire.

The second attack took place in front of a police station in Shar-e-Naw neighbourhood in downtown Kabul where a "search and clearing operation" was still under way.

An AFP correspondent near the scene of the second attack saw a body on the street by the police station and heard several gunshots. He also saw several terrified women running away from the scene.

A travel agency that handles Indian visa applications is located on the same street as the Shar-e-Naw police station. The Indian embassy and some of its consulates in Afghanistan have previously been targeted by the Taliban.

Health ministry spokesman Waheed Majroh said one person was killed in the west Kabul attack and six others wounded.

He had no further details on casualties.

Increased attacks

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the second of the attacks that come just over a week after twin blasts in Kabul killed 25 people, including AFP chief photographer Shah Marai and eight other journalists.

Those attacks were claimed by IS.

The Taliban recently launched their annual spring offensive, in an apparent rejection of a peace talks overture by the Afghan government.

Their Operation Al Khandaq will target US forces and "their intelligence agents" as well as their "internal supporters", a Taliban statement said on April 25.

Kabul has long been one of the deadliest places in Afghanistan for civilians.

A suicide bomber targeting a blood drive for victims of recent attacks blew himself up in a city park on Monday after being spotted by police, causing no other casualties.

On April 22, a suicide bomber detonated himself outside a voter registration centre in the city, killing 60 people and wounding more than 100.

That was among a series of attacks across the country in places where people were signing up to vote.

The Taliban and IS have made clear their intentions to disrupt the parliamentary and district council elections scheduled for October 20.

General John Nicholson, who leads US and NATO forces in Afghanistan, said previously that protecting Kabul was a priority for foreign troops.

But he acknowledged that preventing attacks would be challenging in the sprawling city that is poorly mapped and extremely porous.

https://nation.com.pk/09-May-2018/suicide-bombers-gunmen-attack-kabul-police-stations

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ICC asks Bangladesh for input on Rohingya jurisdiction

May 10, 2018

DHAKA (Reuters) - The International Criminal Court has asked Bangladesh to weigh in as the court considers a request by the ICC prosecutor for jurisdiction over alleged deportations of Rohingya Muslims from Myanmar to Bangladesh.

ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda asked the court last month to rule on whether it had jurisdiction over alleged deportations of Rohingya last year.

In a May 7 letter to the Bangladesh government, the ICC said the country had been "affected by the events concerning the alleged deportation of Rohingya people from Myanmar", and it was appropriate to seek its observations on the matter.

It also sought Dhaka's views on the court's "exercise of territorial jurisdiction over the alleged deportation of members of the Rohingya people from Myanmar into Bangladesh".

Myanmar has expressed "serious concern" about the prosecutor's request, and a government spokesman said on Wednesday it would have no effect because Myanmar is not a member of the ICC.

"ICC will have no effect on Myanmar and ICC cannot take action on Myanmar," spokesman Zaw Htay told Reuters in Yangon.

Attacks by Rohingya insurgents on security posts in Myanmar's Rakhine State in August sparked a military crackdown that, according to the United Nations and rights groups, sent nearly 700,000 Rohingya fleeing to camps in Bangladesh.

The United Nations said the military action amounted to ethnic cleansing. Myanmar denies the accusation, saying it was engaged in legitimate counter-insurgency operations.

The May 7 letter, seen by Reuters, asked the Bangladesh government about the "circumstances surrounding the presence" of Rohingya in the country.

Bangladesh foreign ministry spokesman Touhidul Islam said the government was considering the ICC's request.

"Before sending any observation the country needs some time to take a decision," he told Reuters.

Full report at:

https://www.firstpost.com/world/icc-asks-bangladesh-for-input-on-rohingya-jurisdiction-4463491.html

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Myanmar Verifies More Than 1,000 Refugees in Bangladesh for Repatriation

9 May 2018

NAYPYITAW — Myanmar will repatriate more than 1,000 Muslim refugees who have fled northern Rakhine State for Bangladesh, Union Immigration and Population Minister U Thein Swe said on Monday.

Bangladesh gave Myanmar a list of just over 8,000 refugees willing to return to Rakhine in February. Myanmar has since verified more than 1,000 of them as former residents and provided their names to Bangladesh; it is still reviewing the rest of the list. “We have so far verified about 1,100 refugees on the list,” U Thein Swe said in Naypyitaw at the launch of a video on migration in Myanmar.

According to the UN, nearly 700,000 mostly Rohingya Muslims have fled northern Rakhine for Bangladesh since late August, when militant attacks on security posts there triggered a sweeping military clearance operation. Myanmar has denied the figure and said it would only accept refugees who have lived in Myanmar and volunteer to return.

Full report at:

https://www.irrawaddy.com/news/burma/myanmar-verifies-1000-refugees-bangladesh-repatriation.html

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Militants suffer heavy casualties in joint Afghan, US operations in Paktia

May 10 2018

The local officials in southeastern Paktia province are saying that the anti-government armed militants have suffered heavy casualties during the joint operations conducted by the Afghan and US forces in this province.

The provincial government media office in a statement said the operations were conducted in Surkh Dara, Zaghni, and Roidar areas of Aryoub azai district.

The statement further added that at least 22 militants were killed and 7 others were wounded during the operations which were conducted with the help of the close-air support.

According to the local officials, the dead bodies of the militants are still left in the area and the death toll could be much higher.

The operations were conducted as the militants were attempting to establish safe havens after crossing from the other side of the Durand Line, Azra district of Logar, and Hesarak district of Nangarhar, the statement added.

According to the governor’s office, several key commanders of the militants have also been killed during the operations.

Full report at:

https://www.khaama.com/militants-suffer-heavy-casualties-in-joint-afghan-us-operations-in-paktia-05120/

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NDS says Haqqani network involved behind today’s coordinated Kabul attacks

May 09 2018

The Afghan Intelligence, National Directorate of Security (NDS), says the findings of the directorate indicate that the notorious Haqqan terrorist network was involved behind today’s coordinated attacks in Kabul city.

NDS in a statement said the attacks were planned with the support of Lashkar-e-Taiba militants group.

This comes as the ISIS Khurasan had earlier claimed that the attack in the Police District#13 in Dashti Barchi was carried out by the suicide bombers of the group.

The Minister of Interior Wais Ahmad Barmak had earlier said that the attack in Police District#13 in Dasht Barchi area has ended and all assailants were shot dead.

He said at least two attackers were involved in the attack in Police District#13 who had taken position inside a building and at least two policemen have lost their lives in the attack.

Full report at:

https://www.khaama.com/nds-says-haqqani-network-involved-behind-todays-coordinated-kabul-attacks-05117/

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Pakistan

 

Anchors failing to maintain Ramazan sanctity risk life ban: IHC

By Rizwan Shehzad

May 9, 2018

ISLAMABAD: No television programme flouting regulatory authority’s guidelines can be aired during Ramazan, the Islamabad High Court (IHC) declared on Wednesday.

Urging the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) for strict monitoring of all TV transmissions, the IHC ruled that the authority should take stern action against all violators.

IHC’s Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui also ruled: “No programme suggestive of containing lottery and gambling, even apparently for…Hajj or Umra tickets…shall be promoted to air either live or recorded. Programmes like Nelaam Ghar and those that appear to be like circus shows must be stopped.”

Justice Siddiqui directed Pemra and ministries of information and interior to ensure that the directives complied.

TV channels were also ordered to broadcast Azaan (Call to Prayer) five times a day.

IHC issues notice to PEMRA for airing anti-judiciary speeches

A blanket ban was ordered on foreign-origin dramas, films and advertisements, particularly from India.

Justice Siddiqui ruled that regulations allowed television channels to telecast just 10 per cent foreign content, subject to the approval of a committee consisting secretaries and representatives of the ministries of interior, information technology, religious affairs and information with the special participation of chairmen Pemra and Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA).

The committee, the order stated, should ensure that the aired content was not in conflict with Islamic injunctions, PEMRA rules, electronic media’s code of conduct and judgments of the superior judiciary.

Any channel, the judgment stated, found to be engaged in airing content deemed to be obscene, indecent and immoral by the regulator would be penalised in accordance with provisions of applicable laws.

Pakistan, Justice Siddiqui stated, is an Islamic Republic and an ideological state with Islam as its state religion.

Since indecency, immorality and obscenity were against the injunctions of Islam and offensive to constitutional guarantees, therefore, all law-enforcement agencies and regulatory bodies were under statutory obligation to ensure that no activity prejudicial to Islam was permitted.

No activity in individual or collective capacity of any citizen could be allowed against the glory of Islam, integrity, security or defence of Pakistan, friendly relations with foreign states, public order, decency or morality, or in relation to contempt of court or “incitement to an offence”.

Holding the state responsible for providing an atmosphere in accordance with Islamic tenets as set out in the Holy Quran and Sunnah, he ruled that the sanctity of Ramazan should not be violated and “it is expected that no channel shall air any programme that may disrupt the spirit of this month”.

The order also ruled out airing of advertisements at least five minutes prior to Iftar shall be aired and instead Darood Sharif and a prayer for the solidarity, prosperity, peace and tranquillity of the country, well-being of all its citizens and call for promoting tolerance, forgiveness, sacrifice and acceptance of prayers.

All channels and Pemra licensees were expected that the sanctity and spirit of Ramazan was not compromised by any host or guest, either through their appearances or any act or spoken words, the judgment stated.

The court told the committee concerned to file a compliance report on the completion of the first 10 days of Ramazan.

Meanwhile, counsel for Pakistan Broadcasters Association (PBA) Barrister Ali Zafar argued that PBA and Pemra had voluntarily agreed to a code of conduct under another Supreme Court verdict and if any channel violated Pemra law or the code of conduct, the regulatory authority could take action against that particular channel in accordance with the law.

He said that if any channel considered that Pemra had taken a wrong action, it could challenge the authority’s order before the high court. However, he said, the court was not a regulator.

“Neither the court has authority to take over Pemra’s role and pass directions on the programming of channels, nor can it (the court) direct which programmes can or cannot be aired,” he said, adding that this is solely Pemra’s role.

Zafar maintained that matters of controlling media and entertainment industry and determining what was obscene or indecent or against Islamic values or against the integrity of Pakistan are all matters of policy and fall within the domain of the executive, which must act in accordance with law, and not the court.

Top court removes Marriyum from PEMRA chairman selection committee

“No generalised standard of what is decent or indecent, obscene or not obscene or against the Islamic values or ideology of Pakistan can be laid down or applied by the court,” he asserted.

He believed that if such petitions were allowed, all forms of bigotry would be deemed to have a moral basis for the law to abolish freedom of speech and expression and freedom of the press, which was enshrined in the Constitution as a fundamental right.

He added that the court had no jurisdiction to generally decide on what was moral or decent and which programmes fall or do not fall into this category.

Moreover, morality and decency are relative and individuals might have different perceptions, so the court could not impose its own sense of morality and indecency on the general public.

“Today, it is the choice of the people to watch or not to watch a particular programme and the court cannot ban any particular kind of show,” he concluded.

During the hearing, Justice Siddiqui remarked that TV hosts indulging in antics not befitting the sanctity of Ramazan risked being banned for life.

These remarks were made by Justice Siddiqui while hearing a code-of-conduct petition challenging morning shows and Ramazan broadcasts.

Justice Siddiqui directed Pemra to serve notices on anchors Amir Liaquat Hussain, Faisal Qureshi, Fahad Mustafa, Sahir Lodhi and Waseem Badami and others on this account. The judge said they could face a lifetime ban if they failed to respect the sanctity of Ramazan.

Justice Siddiqui remarked that fashion models delivered sermons in Ramazan, adding that Pemra should ensure only PhD scholars delivered talks on Islamic issues.

Pakistan ideology and ideological frontiers are violated with impunity, he said.

This decision came in response to petitions filed by advocates Waqas Malik, Haider Malik, Chaudhry Asghar Ali, Hafiz Farmanullah, Syed Iqbal Hashmi, Sajid Mahmood Shah, Sohail Akhtar, and Inamur Rahiem.

Petitioners cited Article 2 of the Constitution, saying that the basic law guaranteed that the state shall enable the people of Pakistan to live their lives in accordance with the teachings of Islam.

They said that public homes were invaded by vulgarity on TV channels and the people were helpless. Foreign content, they contended, was being aired by television channels, affecting national language and culture.

The petitioners requested the court to put a stop to vulgarity and immorality on television channels, particularly during the Ramazan transmissions and morning shows.

https://tribune.com.pk/story/1705980/1-anchors-failing-maintain-ramazan-sanctity-risk-life-ban-ihc/

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Pakistan Releases Commemorative Coin For Late Catholic Nun

May 9, 2018

Pakistan has released a commemorative coin for Ruth Katherina Martha Pfau, a German physician and Catholic nun who dedicated her life to eradicating leprosy.

Known as "Pakistan's Mother Teresa," Sister Pfau died at 87 in August 2017 after spending 57 years in the country. She was accorded a full state funeral, a first for a Christian woman in the Muslim-majority nation.

Born in Leipzig in 1929, she arrived in Karachi in 1960 en route to India and volunteered at a leprosy colony. She was a member of the Society of Daughters of the Heart of Mary.

State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) governor Tariq Bajwa and German ambassador to Pakistan Martin Kobler unveiled the 50-rupee commemorative coin at the bank's headquarters in Karachi.

It was available for public issuance across the country through SBP Banking Service Corporation offices from May 9.

Sister Pfau was an emblem of devotion, commitment and service to Pakistan. Her untiring efforts meant Pakistan became one of the first countries in Asia to bring leprosy under control.

Her contribution to society was acknowledged by the people and state during her lifetime. She was honored with the Hilal-i-Imtiaz, Nishan-e-Quaid-i-Azam and Hilal-i-Pakistan civil awards.

Bajwa said commemorative coins had previously been issued for such great people as Quaid-i-Azam, Allama Muhammad Iqbal, Fatima Jinnah and Abdul Sattar Edhi.

Full report at:

https://www.ucanews.com/news/pakistan-releases-commemorative-coin-for-late-catholic-nun/82251

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Pakistan stands with Iran on nuclear deal issue

SHAFQAT ALI

May 10, 2018

ISLAMABAD - Pakistan Wednesday supported Iran against the United States President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw from the historic nuclear deal .

A foreign ministry statement issued here said ‘arbitrarily rescinding’ such agreements “will undermine confidence in the value of dialogue and diplomacy in the conduct of international relations and the peaceful resolution of disputes.”

Pakistan, the statement said: “believes that the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action represents a very good example of a negotiated settlement of complex issues, through dialogue and diplomacy.”

“We had welcomed the JCPOA when it was concluded and hope that all parties will find a way for its continuation, especially when the International Atomic Energy Agency has repeatedly verified Iran’s compliance,” it said.

On May 8, President Trump walked out of the agreement calling JCPOA a ‘horrible, one-sided deal that should have never, ever been made.’ Trump said he would work to find a ‘real comprehensive and lasting’ deal to tackle not only the Iranian nuclear program but its ballistic missile tests and activities across the Middle East. The US President warned that his country would re-impose economic sanctions that were waived when the deal was signed in 2015.

The sanctions would target industries mentioned in the deal, including Iran’s oil sector, aircraft manufacturers exporting to Iran and Iranian government attempts to buy US dollar banknotes. This is expected to hit major European and US companies. Some exemptions are due to be negotiated.

US National Security Adviser John Bolton said the European companies doing business in Iran will stop their activities within six months or they will have to face US sanctions.

The deal was agreed between Iran and the five permanent members of the UN Security Council - the US, the United Kingdom, France, China and Russia - plus Germany. It was struck by Trump’s predecessor Barack Obama. The other member countries have not yet seconded Trump’s decision.

After Trump’s decision, Iran said it would try to salvage the agreement but would restart uranium enrichment if it failed.

In a statement, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said: “If we achieve the deal's goals in co-operation with other members of the deal, it will remain in place.” Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said he did not trust the UK, France or Germany, and would need guarantees before continuing the nuclear deal .

Under JCPOA, Iran had agreed to limit the size of its stockpile of enriched uranium - used to make reactor fuel and nuclear weapons - for 15 years and the number of centrifuges installed to enrich uranium for 10 years. Tehran also agreed to modify a heavy water facility so that it could not produce plutonium suitable for a bomb. In return, sanctions imposed by the United Nations, the US and the European Union were lifted. These sanctions had crippled Iran’s economy.

The foreign ministry statement said: “We have noted the willingness of the parties to the Agreement to work together on upholding their respective commitments as stipulated in the JCPOA, despite US decision to withdraw from it.”

It added: “Pakistan believes that International Treaties and Agreements concluded through painstaking negotiations are sacrosanct.”

Press attaché at the Iranian embassy Abbas Badrifar said since Trump assumed power in the US, “we have witnessed unusual and abnormal steps by him, which surprised the world.”

Full report at:

https://nation.com.pk/10-May-2018/pakistan-stands-with-iran-on-nuclear-deal-issue

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‘Abducted’ Faisalabad Student Embraces Islam, Marries Muslim Man

BY ABDULLAH ZAFAR

May 10, 2018

FAISALABAD: A woman belonging to the Hindu community, who had allegedly been abducted, last week, has revealed that she had embraced Islam and married a Muslim boy.

The woman, Ayesha (previously Basanti Devi), a student of Zoology at University of Agriculture Faisalabad, had gone missing while on her way back home from the varsity on April 29. It was reported last Friday that her brother, Lal Krishan, had registered a case of abduction against unidentified persons at the Civil Lines police station and said that he could not get through to her even on phone.

With the police starting to search for the missing woman, she was finally recovered from Toba Tek Singh. Following her recovery, the 22-year-old along with her husband was presented before media at a presser held at the Civil Lines police station.

Speaking at the occasion, Ayesha said she had testified before a court that she accepted Islam and later married Zeeshan with her own will. She also demanded from the government to provide her and her in-laws with security, fearing life threats.

Meanwhile, Civil Lines SP while speaking to Pakistan Today said the further course of action on the registered FIR would be determined while considering that the woman is an adult and has her own CNIC card. “She will once again be presented in front of a court and any further action would come in the light of her statement.”

“Ayesha has already appeared before the Bahawalpur bench of the high court and said that she did everything with her own will. She has also told the police that she converted to Islam as well as married Zeeshan without any pressure and approached the court only after she feared her and her in-laws’ life was in danger,” the official added.

It may be noted that the case, which appears to be the first of its kind within the past several years, has surfaced amid the rising numbers of reports pertaining to “enforced conversions” in the country. In June 2017, a 16-year-old Hindu girl, Ravita Meghwar, was allegedly abducted by men in Sindh. Within hours, Ravita had apparently embraced Islam. The woman, now Gulnaz, had then married a Muslim man.

The next day she told media representatives that she had accepted Islam and married the man without any pressure. But Meghwar’s parents had reported the suspects, claimed that their daughter was a minor, and demanded her safe recovery. Countering the claims, Gulnaz’s husband had submitted an application to the Sindh High Court (SHC) seeking protection from her family and relatives. The case was settled on June 23 when SHC allowed the woman to go with her husband.

Full report at:

https://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2018/05/09/abducted-faisalabad-student-embraces-islam-marries-muslim-man/

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US blocks Pakistan’s requests to UN on Khurasani: report

May 10, 2018

ISLAMABAD: The United States is believed to have blocked a Pakistani request with the UN Security Council’s sanctions committee for the listing of Jamaat-ul-Ahrar (JuA) leader Abdul Wali, commonly known as Umer Khalid Khurasani, media reports have said.

Although Pakistan has not been informed of the development yet, the Foreign Office has informally learnt that the process has been halted because of an objection by the United States, a senior diplomatic source revealed.

The US objected to Pakistani request for Khurasani’s listing because of his location that has been mentioned as Afghanistan.

The US move comes amid deteriorating ties with Pakistan since the announcement of the new South Asia and Afghanistan policy by the Trump administration last August.

“The Americans inject politics into the sanctions regime and practice double standards. They are not listing the leader of a terrorist entity who is targeting Pakistan. Merely because he is operating from Afghanistan,” a Pakistani official was quoted as saying.

“Instead of supporting Pakistani request for listing a terrorist, the US raised an objection. The US needs to act fairly to root out terrorism. Such actions by the US undermine the credibility of the UN sanctions list,” he added. Pakistan had made the request almost nine months ago as Khurasani was the leader of JuA that had been listed earlier on Pakistan’s request on July 6, 2017 with its base identified as Lalpura, in Nangarhar province of Afghanistan.

JuA was listed for “participating in the financing, planning, facilitating, preparing, or perpetrating of acts or activities by, in conjunction with, under the name of, on behalf of, or in support of, otherwise supporting acts or activities of and either owned or controlled, directly or indirectly by, or otherwise supporting Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan and Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant”.

JuA is one of the splinter groups of the banned TTP and is believed to be the most lethal terrorist group that has claimed to have carried out several major attacks including a suicide blast at Wagah; the October 2014 twin bombing in Mohmand Agency; the March 2015 attack on Youhanabad Church in Lahore; the March 2015 Easter Sunday attack on a children’s park in Lahore; the March 2016 attack with IED on a vehicle carrying a US Drug Enforcement Administration team at Sangar in Mohmand Agency; the March 2016 bombing attack on Shabqadar (Charsadda) District Court; the bomb attack in Warsak Colony, Peshawar; and a February 2017 attack in Lahore.

Full report at:

https://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2018/05/10/us-blocks-pakistans-requests-to-un-on-khurasani-report/

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Punjab to consider separate funds for JuD seminaries after takeover: report

May 10, 2018

RAWALPINDI: The Punjab government might consider allocating separate funds for the running of the banned Jamaat-ud- Dawa (JuD) seminaries it took over, reported a local media outlet.

The government froze JuD accounts and that of its sister organisation, Falah-i-Insaniyat Foundation (FIF), and will now be solely responsible for running the day to day affairs of the seminaries and the health unit.

The district administration in Rawalpindi took over one seminary and four health units while the Islamabad administration took over three health facilities and seven ambulances. There were no JuD seminaries in Islamabad, according to the publication.

Auqaf Department Regional Administrator Zahid Iqbal told the publication that the Punjab government had asked the department to prepare a report on the expenses of the seminaries which came under the department’s control in February.

He said the Auqaf Department is running the Madressah Hudebia, the expense report of which has been sent to the Punjab government through the deputy commissioner. This includes teacher salaries, student meals and utility bills.

Full report at:

https://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2018/05/10/punjab-to-consider-separate-funds-for-jud-seminaries-after-takeover-report/

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Saudi Ambassador says KSA will continue to cooperate with Pakistan

May 10, 2018

ISLAMABAD: Saudi Ambassador to Pakistan Nawaf Bin Saeed Ahmad Al-Maliki has said Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) will continue cooperate with the elected political government of Pakistan after the general election – 2018.

“Saudi Arabia has close brotherly ties and has always supported Pakistan at the time of trail. KSA and Pakistan relations are characterized by Muslim brotherhood, fraternity, faith and mutual respect. And the relations between both countries are strengthening day by day. KSA has supported Pakistan’s cause at International level he said.

Saudi Ambassador said KSA will continue to its cooperation with elected political government after the general polls 2018. Pakistan is important Muslim populated country and the first Muslim nuclear power as well. The two countries are enjoying brotherly ties for decades, he added.

He went on to say that Saudi Arabia has upheld Pakistan stance in international forums. In the recent 45th OIC council of Foreign Ministers meeting held in Dhaka, His country has supported Pakistan on the issue of violations against the fundamental rights in Indian Occupied Kashmir. Pakistan and Saudi Arabia enjoys closest, cordial diplomatic relations based on bonds of common religion and faith, he added.

Full report at:

https://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2018/05/09/saudi-ambassador-says-ksa-will-continue-to-cooperate-with-pakistan/

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Southeast Asia

 

Islamic Groups Report Indonesian Politician for ‘Blasphemous ‘Poem

May 9, 2018

JAKARTA, April 4 (Reuters) – Hard-line Islamic groups on Wednesday filed a blasphemy complaint against a daughter of Indonesia‘s first president, accusing her of reciting a poem insulting Islam and prompting fresh concerns over intolerance in the world‘s most populous Muslim-majority country.

Sukmawati Sukarnoputri, a politician, is the third daughter of Indonesia‘s founding father Sukarno and the younger sister of Megawati Sukarnoputri, who leads President Joko Widodo‘s ruling party.

Indonesia is a secular country with significant Christian, Hindu, Buddhist and other religious minorities, but a rise of hard-line, politicized Islam and stricter interpretations of the religion have undermined its reputation for tolerance in recent years.

The Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) was among an alliance of hard-line groups that reported Sukmawati, as she is usually known, to police over the poem. The same alliance last year accused Jakarta‘s former Christian governor of blasphemy and spearheaded mass rallies that led to his ouster and jailing, a ruling that many believed was politicized and unjust.

"It‘s clear there is an insult toward the teachings of Islam in the poem," said Eggi Sudjana, a lawyer and an adviser to the alliance.

"We hoped that Ahok‘s case would be the last one, but now there are others who dare to insult Islam again," he said, referring to the ex-Jakarta governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama by his nickname.

Sukmawati apologized for reading the poem, which appeared to favour traditional Indonesian culture and beliefs over conservative Islamic customs like the full veil, in public.

"The poem is a reflection of my concern about the sense of nationalism…and to honor our motherland‘s rich cultural traditions and diversity," a tearful Sukmawati told a news conference in Jakarta on Wednesday.

"I apologize to Islamic people in Indonesia, especially to those who feel offended by the poem," said Sukmawati, whose family remains highly influential in Indonesia.

FPI‘s Novel Bamukmin said the alliance appreciated the apology but would not withdraw its complaint.

"There will be no mercy for those who blaspheme," he said.

Rights activists feared the controversy was a sign that religious tolerance and freedom of expression are being eroded in the world‘s third-largest democracy.

"It‘s creating an atmosphere of fear," said Andreas Harsono of Human Rights Watch. "People never know when someone could report them to the police for blasphemy against Islam."

Suspects can be jailed for up to five years under the blasphemy laws, which have been criticized by rights groups as draconian and vulnerable to abuse.

Sukmawati‘s family issued a statement distancing itself from the issue, saying the poem only reflected the writer‘s personal opinion. A spokesman for President Widodo said the palace "did not want to be associated with the issue".

https://mtlnewsjournal.com/islamic-groups-report-indonesian-politician-for-blasphemous-poem/31223/

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ISIS-Linked Indonesian Jail Riot Ends as Police Raid Cellblock

By Joe Cochrane

May 9, 2018

JAKARTA, Indonesia — A riot and deadly two-day standoff by terrorism detainees in a police detention center near the Indonesian capital ended early Thursday after a police assault on the cellblock led to a mass surrender by those holed up inside, officials said.

Explosions could be heard from the compound as a police counterterrorism unit, known as Detachment 88, fired tear gas and blew out walls in search of bombs made by a group of 155 terrorism suspects and convicted militants. Five guards and one detainee had been killed in the standoff, official said.

Most of the inmates in the section have been linked to the Islamic State, and the terrorist group’s media arm claimed responsibility for the uprising, posting images it said showed guards that the detainees had taken hostage and then killed.

“They all surrendered,” Commissioner General Syafrudin, deputy chief of the Indonesian National Police, told reporters outside the local headquarters of the National Police Mobile Brigade, a paramilitary unit, in Depok, West Java Province, which houses the detention center.

“The blast sounds were part of our efforts to destroy any bombs inside because they had made bombs,” General Syafrudin said. “For the next six hours, we will continue sterilization, and afterward, you journalists can go inside and look around.”

He said the 155 detainees under scrutiny would all be transferred to the maximum-security prison island of Nusakambangan, off the south coast of Java Island, where the convicts considered to be the most dangerous are all sent.

Gen. Mohammad Iqbal, a National Police spokesman, told reporters that the riot erupted late Tuesday at the detention center.

Even as the riot was unfolding, the Islamic State’s propaganda arm uploaded videos and photos that it claimed were from inside the detention center, showing executed hostages and detainees brandishing weapons, raising the black flag of the Islamic State and pledging allegiance to the group’s leader.

But initially, Indonesian officials denied that Islamic State loyalists had been behind the uprising. “The trigger is trivial: complaints about food,” General Iqbal said in the early hours of the standoff on Wednesday.

There was a riot at the same police detention center last November, when terrorist detainees fought with guards during a search for contraband, including cellphones. They took photos and video of themselves brandishing Islamic State flags.

According to the Institute for Policy Analysis of Conflict, a Jakarta-based research organization, the large population of terrorism suspects and convicts in the detention center has long been “a disaster waiting to happen.”

In a report the institute released in February, “we said it was A: overcrowded, and B: there was no effort at all to counsel the newly arrived detainees, and they were almost all pro-ISIS,” Sidney Jones, the institute’s director, said in an interview on Wednesday.

Ms. Jones, a prominent terrorism analyst, said the November 2017 riot was a warning to the authorities, who then began moving the most violent or radicalized convicts on terrorism charges to Nusakambangan.

The biggest attack by pro-ISIS Indonesian militants here came in January 2016, when a four men attacked a police post and shopping center in downtown Jakarta with homemade guns, bombs and suicide vests. The four attackers were killed along with four civilians, and 23 people were injured.

Last week, the police in West Java arrested three men who were accused of planning a suicide bombing on the Police Headquarters where the detention center is.

Full report at:

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/05/09/world/asia/indonesia-isis-hostages.html

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ISIS-Linked Groups in the Philippines Are Not Yet Defeated

May 10, 2018

When U.S. officials gave lawmakers the latest update in the battle against ISIS-linked groups in the Philippines, it appeared to be a sea of good news.

Last year, the local coalition of ISIS-affiliated militants in the southeast Asian nation, dubbed ISIS-P by the U.S. government, stunned counter-terrorism officials when it managed to capture and hold the city of Marawi in the country’s south. But after a bloody battle with U.S.-supported Philippine government forces that lasted nearly half a year, ISIS-P was beaten down. The militants suffered an estimated 900 killed-in-action, including the deaths of two of the most powerful factions’ overall commanders. “According to USPACOM [U.S. Pacific Command], the 5-month siege of Marawi took a significant toll on the force strength of ISIS-P and prevented the insurgents from conducting any major attacks in the immediate aftermath of the heavy fighting, which ended in October 2017,” says the oversight report sent to Congress and published online last week. “USPACOM reported that ISIS-P did not control any territory in the Philippines this quarter [January 1 to March 31], and there were no reports of ISIS-P aligned fighters still present in Marawi. According to USPACOM, the loss of senior ISIS-P leadership severed the functional relationship between ISIS-P and its Middle Eastern affiliates, although ISIS leaders in Syria were attempting to reestablish contact with elements in the southern Philippines.”

As of the end of March, core-ISIS had yet to recognize a new leader for ISIS-P and, aside from deadly skirmishes with the Philippine military, the group is not believed to be near a position to re-create the “success” of the Marawi takeover.

But just because ISIS-P is on its back foot now does not mean the terrorist threat has abated — mostly because Marawi wasn’t necessarily a loss for ISIS, globally speaking, and because killing of those hundreds of militants did not address the root cause of militancy that’s certain to return, as ISIS or not, according to experts and observers.

“Think about it, a small group of militants claiming allegiance to ISIS occupied and held portions of Marawi — a major Philippines city — in the face of a full on government offensive for over five months. With only a little spin and propaganda, this was presented by ISIS-core as a strategic victory and one that could end up helping them regenerate their ranks and bolster the group’s appeal,” Joseph Felter, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for South and Southeast Asia, told the Combating Terrorism Center at West Point in December. “So let’s be clear, the Philippine military ultimately prevailed in a brutal urban fight. Huge credit must go to them for regaining control of the city and degrading ISIS as a coherent and effective organization in the process… My concerns about the group’s capability going forward hinge more on the ISIS brand in the Philippines and the region and the ability of the Philippine government to erode the strength of ISIS’s ideological appeal.”

Jack Murphy, a former soldier in the U.S. Army Special Forces and close observer of the counter-terrorism fight in the Philippines, told RealClearLife it looked like ISIS-P was in “shambles” and that name could even be a “thing of the past” thanks to ISIS-core’s loss of territory in Iraq and Syria, but that almost misses the point. Violent militancy, in the form of an anti-government insurgency, was around long before ISIS in the Philippines and, in some other form, will likely be around long after.

“For these bandits and insurgents, ISIS was the cool new name brand of global jihad so of course they wanted to hitch their wagon, as have other jihadi groups,” Murphy said in an email. “From Afghanistan to the Philippines, there are little terrorist groups re-branding themselves as ISIS in order to attract membership, financing, and even to goad governmental troops into fighting them so that they gain credibility as insurgents. What was called ISIS-P is probably defunct at this point, but the various jihadists who survived along with other disenfranchised young people will most likely remain jihadists, and over the course of the next decade will likely consolidate into whatever the flavor du jour of international jihadis at that time.”

According to Filipino security analyst Rommel Banlaoi, one underappreciated aspect of the problem that transcends ISIS’s current infamy is perhaps the Philippines’s other most controversial issue: the drug trade and President Rodrigo Duterte’s highly criticized, brutal crackdown against it.

Banlaoi, Chairman at the Philippine Institute for Peace, Violence and Terrorism Research, argues in a forthcoming study that the siege of Marawi and the operations of ISIS-P groups elsewhere were closely tied to the drug trade, as alleged by Duterte’s government, and aided by criminal groups with little interest in jihad.

“The [s]iege occurred not only because of the collective actions of most of the ISIS followers in the Philippines, but also because of the collective support of various criminal syndicates engaged in drug trafficking, human smuggling, money laundering, and trafficking of small arms and light weapons…” Banlaoi writes in the study, which he provided to RealClearLife. “Transnational organized [crime] provided the resilient support network of ISIS followers in the Philippines to mount the Marawi siege.” (Banlaoi’s report identifies no less than 23 separate militant groups in the Philippines who purportedly have pledged allegiance or support to ISIS in some manner.)

For the Philippines to be victorious against the Islamic terrorist threat, the government must reconcile and coordinate the two separate battles they’re currently fighting on different fronts, Banlaoi says. “In the aftermath of the Marawi City siege, there is a strong realization that waging the war on drugs and the war on terrorism should go in tandem,” he writes.

In his interview in December, Felter, the State Department official, didn’t mention drugs specifically, but agreed that the battle against Islamic militancy cannot succeed without addressing the trouble spots where enduring local issues mix with opportunistic international Islamic extremism.

“[T]he factors responsible for ISIS’s attack and occupation of Marawi are local, not international in origin. [Chinese leader] Mao [Zedong’s] famous dictum that insurgents are the fish and the population is the sea in which they swim applies in this case. Disenfranchised Filipino Muslims who are dissatisfied with their government’s ability or willingness to address their needs are more inclined to provide tacit, and sometimes direct, support to anti-government activities,” he said. “Going forward, it will be important to maintain pressure on ISIS and other extremists. However, the real challenge for the Philippine government will be addressing the conditions that drove many of these militants to violence and will drive the next generation to similar ends. This must complement [military] efforts if any enduring solutions are to be achieved.”

Meanwhile, the clock is ticking. In the oversight report, U.S. officials said, “USPACOM cautioned that it must be assumed that the surviving militants loyal to ISIS-P have retained the additional skills and capabilities demonstrated in the Marawi campaign.”

Back in January Col. Romeo Brawner, the deputy commander of Joint Task Force Marawi, told Reuters he and his men were waiting for the next wave of violence.

Full report at:

http://www.realclearlife.com/military/philippines-isis-linked-groups-marawi-defeat/

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China to continue cooperation With Iran after US withdrawal from nuclear deal

May 09, 2018

BEIJING: Regretting the US announcement of terminating its agreement on the Iranian nuclear issue, a Chinese foreign ministry’s spokesperson Wednesday said China would continue to conduct normal and transparent pragmatic cooperation with Iran without violating its own international obligations.

“China regrets the decision made by the United States. The comprehensive agreement on the Iranian nuclear issue was a multilateral agreement negotiated by the six nations, the European Union and Iran,” Geng Shuang said during his regular press briefing held here.

He said the agreement between all parties was approved by the Security Council Resolution No. 2231, adding, all parties should seriously implement it and maintain the integrity and seriousness of the comprehensive agreement.

The spokesperson said this was conducive to maintaining the international nuclear non-proliferation regime, promoting peace and stability in the Middle East, and demonstrating significance for solving hot issues through political means.

“Under the current situation, China urges all parties to proceed in the long-term and overall situation in a responsible manner, persist in the direction of political diplomacy, properly manage their differences, and return as soon as possible to the correct track of continuing to implement the comprehensive agreement,” he added.

Geng Shuang said the Chinese side would maintain an objective, fair and responsible attitude, maintain dialogues and consultations with all parties, and continue to work to maintain and implement the comprehensive agreement.

When asked will China continue from buying oil and other goods from Iran after the withdrawal of the US from the Iranian nuclear deal , he said China and Iran had always maintained normal economic and trade exchanges.

“China will continue to conduct normal and transparent pragmatic cooperation with Iran without violating its own international obligations,” he added.

To another question, he reiterated that China and Iran had maintained normal economic and trade exchanges and added, China would continue to conduct normal and transparent pragmatic cooperation with Iran without violating its own international obligations.

At the same time, he emphasized, “Chinese government opposes any country’s implementation of unilateral sanctions against other countries and the so-called “long arm jurisdiction” under its domestic law. This position is consistent and clear.”

While commenting on the statement of Iranian President Rohani that he would discuss with relevant signatories of the Iranian nuclear comprehensive agreement, including Britain, France, Germany, Russia, the European Union and China, he said, “We have taken note of the positive statements made by Iran, the EU and Russia.”

Full report at:

https://nation.com.pk/09-May-2018/china-to-continue-cooperation-with-iran-after-us-withdrawal-from-nuclear-deal

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Arab World

 

ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi travels in east Syria with tight-knit group

9 May 2018

ISIS group leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is hiding in eastern Syria and moves around with only a small group of followers, including one of his sons, an Iraqi intelligence official said Wednesday.

ISIS retains territory in the desert plains along the Iraqi frontier despite losing the vast bulk of its cross-border “caliphate” to various military offensives.

The senior Iraqi official said Baghdadi was in the Hajin, Shaddadi, Suwar and Markadah areas and “travels accompanied by four or five people, including his son and son-in-law”.

“His movements are discreet and he never travels in a convoy,” the official said on condition of anonymity.

Originally from Iraq, Baghdadi has been dubbed the “most wanted man on the planet” and the United States is offering a $25 million reward for his capture.

The intelligence official said the noose was closing around the militant leader after Iraqi forces captured five top IS commanders in an unprecedented raid into war-torn Syria on March 24.

“Officers from Iraqi intelligence entered Syrian territory and gained access to the zones controlled by IS,” he said.

The five men had featured in IS execution videos filmed while the group ruled over vast swathes of Iraq, the official said.

One of those detained, former Syrian anti-government fighter Saddam al-Jamal, allegedly confessed to Iraqi forces that he had supplied IS with arms stolen from the Syrian army.

The official said 39 ISIS fighters had been killed in cross-border air raids by Iraqi forces in Syria over the past few weeks and that the group had seen a “sharp decrease” in numbers.

Iraq’s interior ministry said in February that Baghdadi was being treated at a field hospital for wounds sustained in an earlier air strike.

In mid-2017, Russia said it had probably killed Baghdadi in a late May air raid near Raqa in Syria, but later said it was still trying to verify his fate.

In September, an American military chief said the jihadist chief was still alive and probably hiding in eastern Syria’s Euphrates Valley.

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2018/05/09/ISIS-leader-Abu-Bakr-al-Baghdadi-travels-in-east-Syria-with-tight-knit-group.html

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Trump’s envoy praises Muslim League leader’s declaration on Holocaust

9 May 2018

Jason Greenblatt, US president’s Mideast peace envoy, met with Mohammad Al-Issa, Secretary General of the Saudi-based Muslim World League, to discuss current dynamics in the Middle East. "Greenblatt joined Dr. Al Issa "in declaring the importance of speaking out against and condemning those who deny the Holocaust or distort its historical record," a White House spokesperson said.

A statement added that they they also reaffirmed the principles that Dr. Al Issa previously described in his January 2018 letter to the US Holocaust Memorial Museum. Specifically, they reaffirmed Secretary General Dr. Al Issa’s statement: “the Holocaust, an incident that shook humanity to the core, and created an event whose horrors could not be denied or underrated by any fair-minded or peace-loving person.”

They also reaffirmed Dr. Al Issa’s statement that “One would ask who in his right mind would accept, sympathize, or even diminish the extent of this brutal crime.”

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/gulf/2018/05/09/Trump-s-envoy-praises-Muslim-League-leader-s-declaration-on-Holocaust.html

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Five Top ISIS Officials Captured in U.S.-Iraqi Sting

By Margaret Coker

May 9, 2018

BAGHDAD — Five senior Islamic State officials have been captured, including a top aide to the group’s leader, in a complex cross-border sting carried out by Iraqi and American intelligence, two Iraqi officials said Wednesday.

The three-month operation, which tracked a group of senior Islamic State leaders who had been hiding in Syria and Turkey, represents a significant intelligence victory for the American-led coalition fighting the extremist group and underscores the strengthening relationship between Washington and Baghdad.

Two Iraqi intelligence officials said those captured included four Iraqis and one Syrian whose responsibilities included governing the Islamic State’s territory around Deir al-Zour, Syria, directing internal security and running the administrative body that oversees religious rulings.

Iraq’s external intelligence agency published a statement confirming the arrests, but did not mention any details of the role played by the Americans or the Turks. The two Iraqi intelligence officials spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss details that had not been made public.

Turkey did not immediately comment on the operation. The White House and the C.I.A. declined to comment.

The developments quickly took over many Iraqi news broadcasts on Wednesday night, with news anchors praising Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi for what the intelligence service called a “major victory.” The news came at an opportune time for Mr. Abadi, who faces a tight parliamentary race on Saturday.

The two Iraqi officials said that they had been tracking several of their targets for months, but the breakthrough came at the start of the year.

An Iraqi intelligence unit responsible for undercover missions had tracked an Iraqi man, Ismail Alwaan al-Ithawi, known by the nom de guerre Abu Zeid al-Iraqi, from Syria to the Turkish city of Sakarya, about 100 miles east of Istanbul, these officials said.

Mr. Ithawi, described by the Iraqis as a top aide to the Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al- Baghdadi, had been in charge of fatwas, or religious rulings, in the Islamic State’s so-called caliphate. He was also in charge of the education curriculum, and was a member of the body that appointed security and administrative leaders for the Islamic State’s territory, which had included large parts of Iraq and Syria.

He had been living in Turkey with his Syrian wife under his brother’s identity, one of these officials said.

The Iraqis sent the Turks an intelligence file they had amassed on Mr. Ithawi, and the Turkish security forces arrested him on Feb. 15, and extradited him to Iraq, this official said.

Iraqi and American intelligence officials then spent weeks interrogating him, learning the details and whereabouts of other ISIS leaders in hiding, the officials said.

The American-led coalition used this information to launch an airstrike in mid-April that killed 39 suspected Islamic State members near Hajin, in the Deir al-Zour district of Syria, the second official said.

The joint Iraqi-American intelligence team then set a trap, according to these officials. They persuaded Mr. Ithawi to contact several of his Islamic State colleagues who had been hiding in Syria and lure them across the border, the officials said.

The Iraqi authorities were waiting, and arrested the group soon after they crossed the frontier, the officials said.

Those arrested included Saddam al-Jammel, a Syrian who had been the head of the Islamic State territory around Deir al-Zour, and Abu Abdel al-Haq, an Iraqi who had been the head of internal security for the group. Two other Iraqis were also arrested, the officials said.

Iraq’s state television broadcast images of four of the detainees. Wearing yellow prisoner jumpsuits, the men, some with long beards and some clean-shaven, explained in short statements their responsibilities in the Islamic State. Each appeared to be in good health.

It was unclear where they were being held or whether they had been given access to a lawyer.

Turkey made no public comment on the arrests, but frequently announces arrests of Islamic State suspects in Turkish cities. Last week, Turkish news media reported the capture of three people in Sakarya who were accused of being members of the Islamic State. The reports said one of the three was the group’s leader in Deir al-Zour.

It is not known if those arrests were related to the arrest of Mr. Ithawi.

Relations have been strained between Turkey and the United States recently, in particular over American support for the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces.

Full report at:

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/05/09/world/middleeast/iraq-isis-islamic-state-arrest.html

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Iraq readies for first election since end of IS war

May 10, 2018

Iraq is gearing up for key parliamentary elections on Saturday, some five months after declaring victory over the Islamic State group, with the dominant Shiites split, the Kurds in disarray and Sunnis sidelined.

A lull in violence ahead of the fourth such nationwide vote since Saddam Hussein was toppled in 2003 has spurred some hope for Iraqis, but surging tensions between key players Iran and the United States could rattle the country.

Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi -- who has balanced off Washington and Tehran -- is angling for a new term as he takes credit for the brutal fightback against the jihadists and seeing off a Kurdish push for independence.

But stiff competition from within his Shiite community, the majority group that dominates Iraqi politics, should fragment the vote and spell lengthy horse-trading to form any government.

Whoever emerges as premier will face the mammoth task of rebuilding a country left shattered by the battle against IS.

Despite a rare period of calm, more than two and a half million people remain internally displaced and the jihadists still pose a major security threat.

Over 15 blood-sodden years since the US-led invasion upended Iraqi politics there is also widespread disillusionment with the same old faces from an elite seen as mired in corruption and sectarianism.

Shiite rivals

Abadi -- who took over as IS rampaged across the country in 2014 -- is facing two leading Shiite challengers to his Victory Alliance, which has pitched itself as an attempt to bridge Iraq's Shiite-Sunni divide.

Ex-prime minister Nuri al-Maliki -- a bitter foe despite coming from the same Dawa party -- is widely reviled for stirring sectarianism and losing territory to IS, but draws support from a hardline base.

Former transport minister Hadi al-Ameri -- who has close ties to Iran's Revolutionary Guards -- is hailed by many as a war hero after leading paramilitary units that fought IS alongside Baghdad's troops.

He wants US forces that helped battle the jihadists to leave Iraq for good, challenging Abadi's cautious foreign policy that has seen him build bridges with Iran's rival Saudi Arabia.

Overall just under 7,000 candidates are standing and Iraq's complex system means no single bloc looks set to get anything near a majority in the 329-seat parliament.

"There is certainly a contest between the three main lists for the post of prime minister, but that will not impact the system that sees the Shiites control and run Iraq," said Jordan-based analyst Adel Mahmud.

Among the other groups jostling for position in the negotiations to come is an unlikely alliance between Shiite cleric Moqtada Sadr and secular communists that is looking to ride a wave of protests against corruption.

Sunnis, Kurds struggling

Votes in the Sunni heartlands once dominated by IS -- including Iraq's devastated second city Mosul -- are up in the air as traditional alliances have been shredded by the fallout of jihadist rule.

Abadi is aiming to be the first Shiite leader to make inroads there but apathy is high as people struggle to rebuild their lives and few efforts have been made to reach out to the hundreds of thousands still displaced in camps.

Political forces in the Kurdish community -- often seen as potential kingmakers -- are also in disarray after a controversial vote for independence in September backfired spectacularly.

Baghdad unleashed a battery of sanctions and seized back disputed oil-rich regions in the wake of the ballot and the Kurds now look set to lose some of their clout on the national stage.

In a sign of the disenchantment with Iraq's squabbling elite, the country's top Shiite cleric Ayatollah Ali Sistani has broken with previous habits and not urged people to cast ballots.

Instead he demanded that Iraq's nearly 24.5 million registered voters refuse to re-elect legislators who have already held government jobs and proved to be "corrupt and failing"

The swirling uncertainty around the elections has sparked concern that IS -- which has threatened to attack the vote -- could profit from any power vacuum.

There are also fears that a spike in tensions between the US and Iran after President Donald Trump withdrew from the nuclear deal could spill over into Iraq, where both play major roles.

But while the situation remains combustible, analysts say that for now no side appears keen on destabilising Iraq as it emerges from the turmoil of the war against the jihadists.

The US withdrawal from the Iran nuclear agreement "will of course have a direct influence on the political situation in Iraq," said Iraqi political expert Essam al-Fili.

Full report at:

https://nation.com.pk/10-May-2018/iraq-readies-for-first-election-since-end-of-is-war

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Saudi air defences intercept two missiles over Riyadh

May 10, 2018

RIYADH : Saudi Arabia’s air defences intercepted two ballistic missiles over the capital Riyadh on Wednesday, state television said, the latest in a series of attacks claimed by rebels in neighbouring Yemen.

Two explosions were heard in the city, according to an AFP photographer. A spokesman for the coalition said Saudi air defences hours earlier had also intercepted a ballistic missile originating from Yemen and targeting Saudi’s Jizan.

Yemen’s Huthi rebels quickly claimed responsibility for attacking “Riyadh Dry Port and other economic targets” in the Saudi capital with Burkan 2H ballistic missiles. The rebels also claimed the Jizan attack, via their Al-Masirah TV. Riyadh has long accused its regional rival Tehran of supplying the Huthis with ballistic missiles.

S Arabia launched a military coalition in Yemen in 2015, aimed at rolling back the Huthis and restoring the internationally recognised government to power.

The Huthis have in recent months intensified missile attacks against Saudi Arabia.

Full report at:

https://nation.com.pk/10-May-2018/saudi-air-defences-intercept-two-missiles-over-riyadh

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Kurdish Militias Planning to Set up New Military Base in Northeastern Syria

May 09, 2018

The Kurds gave three days to civilians in Shalihat Ayed region in al-Tabaqa city in Western Raqqa to leave their residential units.

Local sources said that the Kurdish militias' move was aimed at setting up a military base for the American and French forces in a region which enjoys good geographical situation for such activity.

A media outlet reported earlier this month that the US and France dispatched new military convoys to the town of Manbij, North-East of Aleppo province as tensions go high in the region.

Orient news website reported that the American and French forces deployed near Sajour River Northwest of the town of Manbij in Northeastern Aleppo.

Also, other sources reported that the Kurdish militias were put on alert in the town of Manbij and started to set up more checkpoints in and outside the town.

Full report at:

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13970219000891

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Main Syrian opposition backs Trump’s Iran move, calls it real opportunity

10 May 2018

Syrian opposition leaders on a visit to London on Wednesday welcomed President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw the United States from the Iran nuclear deal.

Nasr al-Hariri, head of the mainstream Syrian Negotiation Commission, called the move “a step in the right direction” and provided “a real opportunity” to resolve regional issues involving Iran.

“There is no place in the world that feels very clearly the malignant influence of Iran as much as in Syria,” he told reporters following a meeting with British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson.

“This is a step in the right direction. But on its own it’s not enough to limit the influence of Iran in the area,” Hariri said. Earlier, Johnson told lawmakers that Britain regretted the American decision and urged the US not to undermine the Iran nuclear deal, which he said Britain would continue to honor.

Future plans

He also called for Washington to “spell out” its future plans over Iran. Hariri said the US now needed to prioritize countering Iranian actions in Syria.

“There is no way to solve the Iran problems without focusing on the Syria file,” he added. “Iran had intervened very early on Syria, and we have reached a stage by which there is to a great extent an occupation by an external power.”

However, Hariri warned against letting his country become even more of a battlefield for outside powers. “This response needs to be part of a broad and strategic effort that protects civilians and resolves the conflict, as opposed to piecemeal actions,” he said.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2018/05/10/Main-Syrian-opposition-backs-Trump-s-Iran-move.html

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Syrian government forces carry on with anti-terror operations

May 9, 2018

Syrian government forces have launched several intensive strikes on terrorist-held positions located to the south of the capital Damascus.

Syria's official SANA news agency reported on Wednesday that the Syrian air force backed by army artillery fire launched a series of attacks in the northern part of al-Hajar al-Aswad region.

The precision strikes are aimed at isolating the terrorists by cutting off their supply routes and ridding the region of their presence.

The report added that Syrian government sniper units and demolition experts are also currently engaged in purging terrorist-held tunnels and structures in the area.      

Earlier in the day, four people were killed and 24 other wounded mortar fire launched by terrorists holed up in al-Hajar al-Aswad.

Since February, the Syrian army, backed by Russia, has been engaged in a major push to rid Damascus and the surrounding areas of terrorist groups.

In a significant victory early last month, the Syrian army managed to fully liberate Eastern Ghouta, which had long been controlled by militant groups and served as a launch pad for deadly rocket attacks against residents and civilian infrastructure in the capital.

Full report at:

http://www.presstv.com/Detail/2018/05/09/561184/syria-airstrike-damacus-terrorist

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Europe

 

Cardiff University receives £850k gift for study of Islam

May 10, 2018

A philanthropist has donated £850,000 to a university in a bid to help promote a better understanding of Islam in society.

Yousef Abdul Latif Jameel is supporting MA and PhD scholarships at Cardiff University's Centre for the Study of Islam

Prof Sophie Gilliat-Ray, the centre's director, said the funding would make a "positive difference to the lives of British Muslims".

Mr Jameel has donated £2.5m since 2009.

The centre, part of the University's School of History, Archaeology and Religion, was set up in 2005 and has become a leading academic institution for research and teaching about Islam and Muslims in Britain.

Mr Jameel's gift will provide nine MA scholarships, three PhD scholarships and two postdoctoral positions - one of which will be a specialist in religion/Islam in the media, and in particular, the involvement of Muslims in journalism.

As part of their studies, the students will also be asked to volunteer with the local Muslim community to foster a strong sense of social responsibility.

Mr Jameel, an international business leader and philanthropist, said his scholarships would allow students to research the major issues affecting Muslims in Britain in the 21st century, "helping to promote a better understanding of Islam in the wider society".

Prof Gilliat-Ray, the centre's director, added: "Mr Jameel values the fact that our research is directed towards improving knowledge of Islam and Muslim communities in Britain."

Previous work of students who won a Jameel scholarship has included exploring the economic activity of Muslim women and Muslim music in Britain.

Matthew Vince, who volunteered as a teaching assistant at a local Muslim primary school while studying for his PhD, said: "I thoroughly enjoyed my time at school, and the chance to give back was immensely important to me both academically and personally."

http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-wales-south-east-wales-44058839

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EU pledges commitment to Iran nuclear deal, regrets Trump decision

May 9, 2018

The European Union (EU)'s foreign policy chief has reiterated its support for the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, saying it "regrets" US President Donald Trump's decision on Tuesday to withdraw his country from the agreement.

"The JCPOA, unanimously endorsed by UN Security Council Resolution 2231, is a key element of the global nuclear non-proliferation architecture and is crucial for the security of the region," Federica Mogherini said in a statement on Wednesday, using an acronym for the deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.

"As long as Iran continues to implement its nuclear related commitments, as it has been doing so far and has been confirmed by the International Atomic Energy Agency in 10 consecutive reports, the EU will remain committed to the continued full and effective implementation of the nuclear deal," the statement added.

The JCPOA came out of years of negotiations between Iran on one side and six world powers, namely the US, Russia, China, Germany, France and Britain, on the other, in July 2015.

After criticizing the agreement for months, Trump on Tuesday officially declared that his country is pulling out of the JCPOA, saying Washington will not only reinstate the anti-Iran sanctions that were lifted as part of the deal, but will also “be instituting the highest level of economic” bans against the Islamic Republic.

Mogherini said the EU did not support Trump's decision to reinstate the bans and would work instead to make sure Iranian and European businesses can enjoy the freedoms provided under the JCPOA.

"The lifting of nuclear related sanctions is an essential part of the agreement. The EU has repeatedly stressed that the sanctions lifting has a positive impact on trade and economic relations with Iran. The EU stresses its commitment to ensuring that this can continue to be delivered," she added.

Hailing the deal as "the culmination of 12 years of diplomacy," Mogherini said the accord was working and the EU was determined to preserve it.

Trump made the decision despite numerous reports by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) that confirm Iran's compliance to the landmark agreement.

Putin 'concerned' by Trump's decision

Russian President Vladimir Putin expressed "deep concern" over the move, his spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Wednesday.

Shortly after Trump's announcement, the Russian Foreign Ministry lamented the move “to unilaterally refuse to carry out commitments under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action,” adding Washington’s actions were “trampling on the norms of international law.”

Macron asks Iran to stay in JCPOA

Speaking to his Iranian counterpart Hassan Rouhani, French President Emmanuel Macron said Paris would stay committed to the deal because it was needed to preserve stability in the Middle East.

"The French president emphasized the willingness of France to continue enforcing the Iran nuclear agreement in all respects," the Elysee said in a statement after the call. "He underlined the importance that Iran do the same."

During the phone call, Rouhani told the French head of state that he expected Europe to act swiftly and fulfill its obligations under the JCPOA.

“In the current situation, Europe has a very limited time to save the JCPOA and must determine and announce its clear, firm stances on its obligations in the deal,” he said.

“The Islamic Republic of Iran is fully committed to its obligations in the JCPOA and will pursue its interests as it has done so far, but unfortunately, the other side has not demonstrated a satisfactory performance,” the Iranian president added.

Rouhani said Iran has never felt the need to develop nuclear weapons through its peaceful nuclear program, which he said was “a scientific and technical attempt to promote national pride and meeting the needs of the Iranian nation.”

Germany to keep JCPOA 'alive'

Germany also sided against the Trump administration, with German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas saying that the deal was necessary for world security.

“We will try to keep alive this important agreement, which ensures the Middle East and the world as a whole are safer,” he told broadcaster ARD.

Trump's decision 'rash, unthinking': Iraq

Trump's move prompted criticism from Baghdad as well, with the Iraqi Foreign Ministry expressing concern over the security implications of the region.

"The Iraqi Foreign Ministry is sorry about the rash and unthinking decision taken by the US president," said ministry spokesman Ahmad Mahjoub.

Full report at:

http://www.presstv.com/Detail/2018/05/09/561167/EU-Iran-deal-Mogherini-Trump-US-Macron

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Germany Deports Suspected Islamic Extremist to Tunisia

May 9, 2018

BERLIN (AP) — GERMAN authorities have deported a suspected Islamic State member to Tunisia, days after Germany's highest court rejected his appeal.

Hesse state Interior Minister Peter Beuth says the 37-year-old Tunisian, identified as Haikel S., was handed over to authorities in his homeland Wednesday.

Beuth said he hoped the deportation would set a precedent and allow Germany to speed up such procedures in future.

The man was arrested in 2017 on suspicion of being a recruiter and smuggler for IS and of planning an attack. Tunisia accused him of involvement in the 2015 attack on a Tunis museum and a 2016 attack on the border town of Ben Guerdane.

Germany is also trying to deport a 42-year-old Tunisian alleged to have once been a bodyguard for al-Qaida chief Osama bin Laden.

Full report at:

https://www.usnews.com/news/world/articles/2018-05-09/germany-deports-suspected-islamic-extremist-to-tunisia

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Web of obscure British firms try to tarnish UAE’s terrorism fight

May 9, 2018

A Dh200 million pledge by the UAE to help Interpol fight terrorism is the latest target in the campaign orchestrated by a British group with close links to the Muslim Brotherhood.

The donation last year to the Interpol Foundation for a Safer World was hailed by the secretary general Jurgen Stock as a significant boost to tackling security challenges posed by terrorism, and organised and cyber crime.

The Arab Organisation for Human Rights in UK is to hold a panel discussion today at University College London, to debate whether Interpol is in danger of being manipulated for “political purposes” after the donation.

AOHR UK, a limited company, conducts political activities despite operating on apparently meagre resources, its Companies House accounts show.

The group is run by a single director, Mohammed Jamil, 46, who runs at least three inter-linked UK firms. Two other companies, AOHR in Europe and AOHR in Britain and Europe, share similar names, mission statements, company addresses and an accountant.

AOHR UK has organised at least 12 anti-UAE conferences since June last year, including a March panel at the university, which was live-streamed on Al Jazeera’s Arabic website.

It has also organised talks about a UN Human Rights Council meeting in Geneva and events in the UK Parliament, including a forum hosted by Labour MP Andy Slaughter, secretary of the Britain-Palestine All-Party Parliamentary Group.

A panel of top-flight barristers has been assembled to discuss the UAE’s donation. A Queen’s Counsel listed to attend, Toby Cadman, a prominent international rights lawyer, has featured in at least five of the AOHR discussions in Geneva and London.

Mr Cadman told The National that he was not involved with AOHR’s business activities. He refused to answer questions about whether he receives appearance fees or travel and other expenses.

Mr Cadman said that as a barrister he did not discuss the details or scope of his legal instructions, whether acting pro bono or not.

“I am not now, nor have I ever been, a member of the AOHR UK and therefore I am not in a position to answer questions on Mr Jamil’s behalf,” he said. “I will take issue should your article suggest that I am.”

AOHR is also behind a complaint to the International Criminal Court about the UAE, which was lodged by lawyer Joseph Breham in Paris.

Mr Breham said client-attorney privilege prevented him from discussing who, if anyone, was paying his legal fees or whether he was working on the case pro bono. The ICC complaint concerns the UAE’s presence in Yemen.

AOHR picked up the tab for British politicians to visit Qatar in September last year after the boycott by the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Bahrain over Doha’s support for terrorism.

Lord Nazir Ahmed, Lord John Kilclooney and Lord Qurban Hussain said AOHR paid for travel and accommodation.

Grahame Morris, an MP who was also part of the trip, estimated his costs for the visit at £1,321 (Dh7,000). The House of Lords members registered their trips with the Register of Members’ Financial Interests without specifying costs.

An investigation by The National has found the AOHR UK financial accounts filed in February this year show the company was £265 in the red for the year ended April 2017.

As a designated micro-entity, it does not disclose annual revenues but AOHR UK has shown a loss every year since it was incorporated in 2013.

AOHR UK’s website says it was “established to promote human rights culture in the world and to advocate human rights in general and the rights of the Arab citizens in particular”.

Mr Jamil didn’t respond to two emailed requests for comment send to AOHR’s London office. The door to his former London office block is padlocked.

Mr Jamil and his east London accountant, Ibrahim Sayam, 66, both have ties to men accused of links to the Muslim Brotherhood.

Companies House records show that Mr Sayam’s accounting firm also worked for the Cordoba Foundation in 2010, which describes its mandate as “bridging the gap of understanding between the Muslim World and the West”.

Former British prime minister David Cameron called the Cordoba Foundation a “front for the Muslim Brotherhood” in 2008, and the UAE listed it as a terrorist group in 2014.

Mr Sayam has, at various times, acted as a company director, accountant, and offered his company headquarters as the mailing address for AOHR entities since 2011. He refused to answer specific queries about the company.

“I’m an accountant. I don’t know where they get their money,” Mr Sayam said in an interview with The National. “That’s not my job.”

Mr Sayam also denied having been a director of any of the AOHR companies, although his name, address and signature are on the incorporation documents for AOHR in Europe and he is listed as the director in 2011 and again between August 2012 and April 2015, Companies House records show.

His address is also the mailing address for AOHR UK and AOHR in Britain and Europe, the latter registered in October last year. AOHR in Britain and Europe has not yet filed financial information.

AOHR in Europe is the oldest of the web of companies, registered in 2011. It showed a £280 loss when Mr Sayam prepared the AOHR in Europe accounts for the year ended April 30, 2012.

In its best year, AOHR in Europe had £53,046 cash in the bank in April 2015 but that dropped to £24,000 in 2016. The company had total net assets of £839 at the end of April last year.

Over the years, AOHR in Europe has been run by a director alternately using the names Mohammad Jamil, Mohammed Jameel and Mohammad Jamil Al Hirch.

The AOHR in Europe financial accounts for the year ending April 30, 2017 were filed by Mohamed Al Hirsch, director, but that name was changed to Mohammad Jamil in July last year.

Despite the different spellings and names, the AOHR in Europe director shares the same birth date, mailing address and accountant as Mr Jamil, the AOHR UK director.

The Cordoba Foundation is run by director Anas Al Tikriti, 49, who did not respond to a request for comment. Mr Al Tikriti has previously denied links between the foundation and the Brotherhood.

The complex web of connections is typical of the nexus of activists and campaigns that promote Muslim Brotherhood causes in Britain, says Emma Webb, a research fellow at the Henry Jackson Society.

“The UK’s Islamist scene is now an interconnected fluid alliance of movements sharing similar aims,” Ms Webb said.

“They have built an ecosystem of organisations, media and literature outlets, lobby groups, educational institutions, charities and companies, hosting everything from conferences to recreational activities.

“The Muslim Brotherhood spearheaded this approach, entering people’s lives and politics through every available route. By creating such a vast network, they are more than the sum of their parts and inflate their ability to influence.”

AOHR has also been a supporter of extremist cleric Raed Salah, leader of the Islamic Movement Northern Branch, an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood that seeks to build an Islamic society, according to the Brookings Institution.

“The northern branch, led by Raed Salah, is said to have links with Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood,” the European Council for Foreign Relations says.

Mr Jamil was photographed with the cleric during Mr Salah’s 2012 deportation proceedings in the UK. In August 2017, AOHR sent urgent messages to the UN asking officials to provide Mr Salah with special protection in Israel, where he is now in prison.

Mr Salah was jailed in Israel from 2003-2005 on charges that he funnelled money to Hamas, which Israel considers a terrorist organisation. He has been in custody in Israel since August for incitement to violence and racism, according to news reports.

The question posed by AOHR UK about Interpol is unlikely to find a sympathetic audience at the agency’s headquarters in Lyon.

Full report at:

https://www.thenational.ae/world/europe/web-of-obscure-british-firms-try-to-tarnish-uae-s-terrorism-fight-1.728900

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France's Macron says Trump made a mistake by leaving JCPOA

May 9, 2018

French President Emmanuel Macron has said that the US decision to leave the Iran nuclear agreement, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), was a "mistake."

Macron made the remarks on Wednesday during an interview with Germany's Deutsche Welle broadcaster.

He added that Europe needed to reaffirm its commitments to the JCPOA in an attempt to preserve regional stability.

"What's most important is to maintain stability and peace in the Middle East," he added.

"We stand today at a historic moment for Europe — Europe is in charge of guaranteeing the multilateral order that we created at the end of World War II and which today is sometimes being shaken," he added.

Macron's remarks came one day after US President Donald Trump declared that his country is pulling out of the JCPOA, saying Washington will not only reinstate the anti-Iran sanctions lifted as part of the deal, but will also “be instituting the highest level of economic” bans against the Islamic Republic.

The JCPOA came out of years of negotiations between Iran on one side and six world powers, namely the US, Russia, China, Germany, France and Britain, on the other, in July 2015.

Full report at:

http://www.presstv.com/Detail/2018/05/09/561189/france-iran-trump-jcpoa-macron

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Germany vows to protect EU firms against Iran bans

May 9, 2018

Germany says it will try to protect European companies from any adverse effects from US President Donald Trump's decision to quit the 2015 Iran nuclear agreement.

The announcement was made by German Finance Minister Olaf Scholz who said some time would be needed to study the actual impacts of Trump’s decision.

"We'll try to do everything in our means so that European companies will be affected as little as possible," he said at a news conference as reported by Reuters.

Trump on Tuesday signed a presidential memorandum to re-impose what he described as the “highest level of sanctions” against Iran.

He also emphasized that the US would punish other countries that violate the regime of sanctions against Iran.

The memorandum specifies that many of the sanctions should be re-imposed in 90 days — by August 6, 2018. The most important ones – as reported by media – would be a ban on Iran over buying or acquiring US dollars.

Another set of sanctions will once again be clamped down on Iran within the next 180 days. The most important sanctions would be those concerning Iran’s oil sales and energy sector investment as well as transactions with the Central Bank of Iran (CBI).

The biggest investment by a European company in Iran’s energy sector has been made by Total over the development of a major gas field in which it would invest several billion dollars.

On Wednesday, Iran’s media quoted an oil official as saying that Total had not announced any change in its plans for the development of South Pars Phase 11 following Trump’s decision.

Another European business that could suffer as a result of sanctions against Iran could be the French aviation giant Airbus.

Full report at:

http://www.presstv.com/Detail/2018/05/09/561165/Germany-vows-to-protect-EU-firms-against-Iran-bans-

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Sunday Telegraph pays damages to mosque chief over Corbyn article

9 May 2018

The Sunday Telegraph has paid “substantial damages” to the general secretary of Finsbury Park mosque after it falsely portrayed him as a supporter of violent lslamist extremism as part of a botched attempt to criticise the Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn.

In March 2016 the newspaper published an article headlined: “Corbyn and the mosque leader who blames the UK for Isil.” The story tried to connect the Labour leader to extremist views allegedly held by Mohammed Kozbar, who runs the mosque in Corbyn’s Islington North constituency and is also vice-chair of the Muslim Association of Britain.

Kozbar successfully argued that the article was defamatory and the Sunday Telegraph has now removed the article from its website, published a ruling accepting the article was defamatory, and paid damages understood to be in the region of £30,000 to settle the case. This does not include the newspaper’s costs.

“It was not just myself who was the target of this article, it was Jeremy Corbyn,” said Kozbar after the verdict. “The aim was to damage the reputation of Jeremy and make his progress with the Labour party more difficult.”

The piece, by the journalist Andrew Gilligan, claimed the mosque administrator supported the use of violence in the Israel-Palestine conflict and blamed the UK government for the rise of Islamic State.

It appeared alongside a picture of Corbyn shaking hands with Kozbar, detailed regular meetings between the two men, and quoted the Labour leader as calling the mosque leader “fantastic”.

Finsbury Park mosque became infamous for hosting the radical preacher Abu Hamza before it was shut down by the authorities in 2003 over an alleged plot to produce the poison ricin.

Kozbar says he has since fought hard to rebuild the mosque’s reputation and standing in the community and he was forced to fight the case against the Sunday Telegraph in order to take a stand against “Islamophopic media coverage”. He insisted the article was “not just an attack on me but also my faith community”.

“This mosque went through very difficult times in the past and we managed to change the atmosphere from a hostile atmosphere to a welcoming community,” said Kozbar. “We will not accept anyone who wants to destroy the reputation and the hard work that has been done with the community here at Finsbury Park mosque.”

Corbyn appeared alongside Kozbar last summer following the far-right terrorist attack near the mosque, which resulted in the death of Makram Ali.

Jonathan Coad of Keystone Law, who took up the case after Kozbar was unsatisfied with a ruling by the press regulator Ipso, said: “While there are many responsible elements of the press, the demonising of Muslims in some parts of it is immensely destructive.

Full report at:

https://www.theguardian.com/media/2018/may/09/sunday-telegraph-pays-substantial-damages-to-london-mosque-chief

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Mideast

 

Suspected Israeli strike on Syria kills 8 Iranians: monitor

May 09, 2018

Eight Iranians were among 15 foreign pro-regime fighters killed in a suspected Israeli strike in Syria on a weapons depot of Iran's elite Revolutionary Guards, a war monitor said Wednesday.

The raid struck the area of Kisweh south of Damascus late Tuesday, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group said.

Syria's official news agency SANA said the army had intercepted two Israeli missiles fired towards Kisweh, with state television broadcasting images of fires in the nearby area.

"The death toll of the missile strike has risen to 15 pro-regime fighters eight from Iran's Revolutionary Guards and others not of Syrian nationality," Observatory head Rami Abdel Rahman said.

The monitor previously reported nine pro-regime combatants had died in the raid, without specifying their nationality.

SANA quoted a medical source saying that two civilians had died on a highway linking Damascus with the southern city of Deraa as a result of an explosion linked to "the Israeli aggression".

Late Tuesday, the Israeli-occupied section of the Golan Heights was placed on high alert due to "irregular activity by Iranian forces" across the demarcation line in Syria.

It is not the first time that Kisweh has been targeted. In December, Israel reportedly bombed military positions in the area south of Damascus, including a weapons depot.

Since the start of Syria's civil war in 2011, Israel has repeatedly targeted positions of the Syrian army and the Lebanese Hezbollah movement backing it inside the country.

On April 29, missile strikes"probably Israeli" fired on regime military positions killed at least 26 mostly Iranian fighters, according to the Observatory.

On April 9, missiles targeted the T-4 air base in the central province of Homs, killing up to 14 fighters, including seven Iranians, two days after an alleged chemical attack carried out by the Syrian regime.

Damascus accused Israel of carrying out the strike.

Israel and Syria are still officially in a state of war, though the armistice line on the sector of the Golan Heights which the Jewish state seized from its Arab neighbour in 1967 was largely quiet for decades until the Syrian civil war broke out in 2011. In an interview late last month, Israeli Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman vowed to strike at any attempt by Iran to establish a "military foothold" in Syria.

https://nation.com.pk/09-May-2018/suspected-israeli-strike-on-syria-kills-8-iranians-monitor

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Israel blames Iran for firing rockets at the Golan from Syria

10 May 2018

Al-Arabiya correspondent reported on Thursday that armed factions were firing rockets from Syria at Israeli positions in the Golan Heights.

The Israeli military said Iranian forces on the Syrian-held side of the Golan Heights shelled Israeli army outposts on the strategic plateau on Thursday but caused no casualties.

Israel retaliated for the attack, military spokesman Lieutenant-Colonel Jonathan Conricus said, without elaborating.

The late-night incident followed a surge in tensions between Israel and Syria, where Iranian and Lebanese Hezbollah forces have been helping Damascus beat back a 7-year-old rebellion.

Fearing that Iran and Hezbollah are setting up a Lebanese-Syrian front against it, Israel has occasionally struck at their forces. Iran blamed it for an April 9 air strike that killed seven of its military personnel in Syria, and vowed revenge.

Conricus said that, in Thursday’s attack, around 20 projectiles, most likely rockets, were fired by the Quds Force, an external arm of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps, at around 12.10 a.m.

“A few of those rockets were intercepted” by Israel’s Iron Dome air defence system, Conricus told reporters. “We are not aware of any casualties. The amount of damage that we currently

assess is low.”

Asked if Israel retaliated for the salvo, he said: “We have retaliated but I have no further details about this.”

Expectations of a regional flare-up were stoked by US President Donald Trump’s announcement on Tuesday that he was withdrawing from the Iranian nuclear deal. Hours later, an Israeli air strike in Syria killed 15 people, including 8 Iranians, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

Israel has neither confirmed or denied responsibility.

Israel has been on heightened alert in recent days, anticipating a possible Iranian retaliation. Iran has vowed revenge after blaming Israel for a series of deadly airstrikes on Iranian positions in Syria.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2018/05/10/Israel-blames-Iran-for-firing-rockets-at-the-Golan-from-Syria.html

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Saada tribes: We reject the Houthi coup backed by Iran

9 May 2018

Saada tribes on Wednesday issued a joint statement confirming that their province was Arab Yemeni and rejected “the Iranian Safavid” ideology and the Houthi coup backed by Iran that took over their territories in 2014.

The statement called by the tribes of al-Mughtar demanded the militias to stop “forcing their children in a futile war”.

They stressed that the tribes of Saada will form a political committee to hold meetings with the ambassadors of the coalition countries in their bid to fight off Houthi militias from their lands.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/gulf/2018/05/09/Saada-tribes-We-reject-the-Houthi-backed-coup-by-Iran.html

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Yemeni forces fire missiles at 'economic targets' in Saudi capital

May 9, 2018

Yemeni army forces, supported by allied fighters from Popular Committees, have fired a salvo of domestically-designed and -developed ballistic missiles at "economic targets" in the Saudi capital city of Riyadh in retaliation to the Al Saud’s devastating military aggression against their impoverished country.

Yemen’s Joint Operations Command, in a statement released on Wednesday, announced that the long-range missiles struck the designated targets with great precision, Arabic-language al-Masirah television network reported.

Four blasts were heard in the central part of Riyadh, but there were no immediate reports of casualties or damage.

Saudi authorities later claimed that its air defense systems had intercepted the missiles in the skies over the capital.

A military spokesman for the Houthi Ansarullah movement, Colonel Aziz Rashed, said the missile attack marked “a new phase” and was revenge for Saudi airstrikes on Yemen.

“There will be more salvos until this enemy is deterred, understands the meaning of the Yemeni might and ceases its crimes,” he pointed out.

Separately, a child lost his life and a couple sustained injuries when a cluster bomb went off in the Razih district of Yemen’s mountainous northwestern province of Sa’ada.

Cluster munitions, which are banned by more than 100 countries, present an enormous danger to civilians.

Cluster bombs are banned under the Convention on Cluster Munitions (CCM), an international treaty that addresses the humanitarian consequences and unacceptable harm caused to civilians by cluster munitions through a categorical prohibition and a framework for action.

Yemeni forces inflict losses on Saudi mercenaries

Meanwhile, Yemeni troops and Popular Committees fighters dealt new blows to Saudi-backed militiamen loyal to Yemen's resigned president, Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, in Saudi Arabia’s southwestern border region of Jizan.

A Yemeni military source said Yemeni forces carried out an ambush on the Saudi mercenaries in the region’s al-Amoud military base on Wednesday, killing and injuring scores of them.

Yemeni army soldiers and their allies also shot down two unmanned reconnaissance drones, and destroyed an M1 Abrams battle tank.

The Yemeni Ministry of Human Rights announced in a statement on March 25 that the Saudi-led war had left 600,000 civilians dead and injured since March 2015.

The United Nations says a record 22.2 million Yemenis are in need of food aid, including 8.4 million threatened by severe hunger.

A high-ranking UN aid official recently warned against the “catastrophic” living conditions in Yemen, stating that there was a growing risk of famine and cholera there.

“People's lives have continued unraveling. Conflict has escalated since November driving an estimated 100,000 people from their homes,” John Ging, UN director of aid operations, told the UN Security Council on February 27.

Full report at:

http://www.presstv.com/Detail/2018/05/09/561151/Yemeni-forces-fire-missiles-at-economic-targets-in-Saudi-capital

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Netanyahu sets off to Russia after Israel strikes Syrian army positions

May 9, 2018

Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has traveled to Russia for talks with President Vladimir Putin after the Tel Aviv regime hit military positions in Syria, which enjoys Moscow’s support in its anti-terror drive.

Netanyahu headed to Moscow on Wednesday, saying in advance, "The meetings between us are always important and this one is especially so," AFP reported.

A day earlier, Syrian state media said Israel had attacked Syrian army positions south of the capital Damascus, prompting the country’s air defenses to shoot down two Israeli missiles.

Tel Aviv regularly conducts such attacks, sometimes trying to hit Syrian military positions, but mostly aiming at targets belonging to Hezbollah. The Lebanese resistance movement has been helping the Syrian military out in the face of terrorists.

In February, Russia's Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov warned against escalation of tension in the Middle East after Israel carried out an airstrike in Syria, only to have one of its F-16s shot down for the first time. Following the Israeli airstrike, Putin asked Netanyahu during a phone conversation to avoid moves that could lead to “a new round of dangerous consequences for the region.”

Moscow has been backing Syrian forces against terrorists since September 2015 at Damascus’ request.

In his remarks before departing, Netanyahu also said, "In light of what is currently happening in Syria, it is necessary to ensure the continued coordination between the Russian military and [that of Israel]."

Earlier in the week, Israel’s former minister for military affairs Moshe Ya’alon claimed that the regime nearly shot down a Russian jet that was approaching its “airspace” back in 2015.

The incident took place shortly after the launch of the Russian military campaign in Syria.

Full report at:

http://www.presstv.com/Detail/2018/05/09/561121/Syria-Israel-Russia-Netanyahu-Putin

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Africa

 

Investigations reveal Sudan is safe haven for IS group

May. 9, 2018

CAIRO – 9 May 2018: The investigations conducted by Egypt’s public prosecution in the case of the Islamic State group in Sinai, which included 555 defendants, revealed that the IS group moved to Sudan as a safe haven after their defeat in Libya.

It was revealed that the terrorist Hani Abdul Samad Abdul Sattar was responsible for smuggling accused members to Sudan. Rahman Mohammed Mahdi Shklov, a member of IS, was responsible for providing clothes to members.

The list of defendants also included fugitive Tarek el-Zomor, former chairman of the Building and Development Party. Zomor is accused of funding terrorist activities in Egypt following the July 2013 revolution, Al-Shorouq newspaper reported on Sunday.

Zomor was among the terrorists who assassinated former Egyptian President Anwar Sadat during a military parade on October 6, 1981 while celebrating the 1973 victory against Israel.

Zomor served a prison sentence before he joined the Salafist Building and Development Party formed after the January 25th Revolution. He is currently the chairman of Al Jama’a Al-Islamiyya and the Building and Development Party. He was also a member of Egyptian Islamic Jihad. He is charged with a number of terror-related cases and inciting violence.

According to officials, out of the 555 defendants, 216 would appear in court, while 339 would be tried in absentia.

Egypt has been hit by significant militant attacks in recent years, especially after Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated President Mohamed Morsi was toppled following mass protests against his rule.

On February 9, the Egyptian Armed Forces launched a full-scale military operation titled "Sinai 2018" to confront terrorist elements in Sinai and other areas across the country.

https://www.egypttoday.com/Article/1/49676/Investigations-reveal-Sudan-is-safe-haven-for-IS-group

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Blast kills 11 people in Somali khat market near Mogadishu

9 May 2018

At least 11 people were killed in an explosion in a busy market in a small Somali city north of Mogadishu, a security official and witnesses said.

“Eleven people were confirmed dead and more than 10 others were wounded in the blast which we are still investigating, some of the victims have serious wounds and they are admitted at hospital,” Mohamed Abdikarim, a regional security official, told AFP.

Sources contacted by AFP did not yet know whether the blast was caused by a suicide bomber or an explosive device.

The blast occurred at the marketplace in Wanlaweyn district about 70 kilometers north of the Somali capital where Khat (narcotic leaves) is sold.

“There was chaos at the market, a number of people died and others wounded, I saw the severed dead bodies of civilians but there were also security personnel involved in the casualty,” Mohamed Dahir, a witness said.

Wanlaweyn district is close to the Balidogle airbase where the US special forces have a major base.

Given Wanlaweyn’s lack of hospitals able to take in multiple casualties, residents said they took many of the wounded to their homes for the time being after the afternoon blast near a busy cluster of khat kiosks.

Police said they were investigating whether the explosion was caused by a planted bomb or by a suicide bomber.

Residents said the kiosks were busy with soldiers buying khat. “I counted five dead people, including two shoe shiners, a mother who sold khat and two customers. There were 10 other injured civilians,” shopkeeper Ahmed Mohamud told Reuters.

“I could also see several soldiers in uniform being transported from the blast scene but I could not confirm whether they were dead or wounded.”

No group has so far claimed responsibility for the blast. The Shabaab, linked to Al-Qaeda, are known to be present in the region.

Al Shabaab is fighting to overthrow Somalia’s central government and establish its own rule based on its interpretation of Islamic law.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/world/2018/05/09/Blast-kills-at-least-5-people-in-Somali-khat-market-near-Mogadishu.html

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Tackle Lake Chad environment to stop Boko Haram: experts

2018-05-09

Revitalising Lake Chad will stop Boko Haram from gaining a long-term foothold in the region, experts said on Wednesday, as four countries wrapped up talks aimed at ending in the conflict.

The insurgency began in 2009 and has killed at least 20 000 in northeast Nigeria alone, spreading to neighbouring Cameroon, Chad and Niger, prompting a regional military response.

But 11 governors from four countries surrounding the lake plus local and international aid agencies were told that fighting alone would not stop the conflict.

"The whole of the Boko Haram problem has its roots in the drying of the lake, which has left millions with no means of livelihood," said Mamman Nuhu, executive secretary of the Lake Chad Basin Development Commission.

"Poverty has no frontier, the people around Lake Chad face the same challenges," he told AFP on the sidelines of the Lake Chad Governors' Forum in Maiduguri, northeast Nigeria.

"Once the lake is restored, the Boko Haram problem will permanently be taken care of."

Mohamed Ibn Chambas, the UN secretary-general's special envoy for West Africa and the Sahel, said the shrinking of most of the lake's surface was one of the main causes of poverty.

"It is a major factor for the lack of jobs and other employment opportunities for young people, which makes the region a fertile recruitment ground for terrorists," he added.

 'Huge task' 

The freshwater lake and its fertile hinterland once provided a living for fishermen and farmers but in the last 40 years has seen a staggering 90% of its surface area shrink.

Climate change and mismanagement have been blamed.

Loss of employment opportunities, a lack of access to education, poor governance and corruption has fostered resentment, anger and a desire to fight back.

Boko Haram tapped into such disaffection with the promise of financial rewards in a largely lawless region where drugs and arms flowed through porous borders.

In February, Cameroon, Chad, Niger and Nigeria met in Abuja to discuss with international experts and development agencies how to salvage the lake.

One plan mooted was the revival of a project to dig a 2 600km canal from the Democratic Republic of Congo across the Central African Republic.

The canal would meet the Chari River that feeds into the lake.

Proponents say it also could attract back cattle herders whose migration further south because of desertification has led to clashes with farmers.

The flow of migrants from Africa to Europe could also slow, they argued.

Some estimates put the cost of the project as much as $14bn but the governor of Niger's Diffa region, Bakabe Mahamadou, said there was a lack of funds.

"We don't have the money to execute this project, it is a huge task that will take years to accomplish," he added.

Security concerns

Efforts to tackle the source of radicalisation in the northeast have been floated before, not least in 2014 at the height of the insurgency under president Goodluck Jonathan.

Then, the government proposed a "soft-power" plan to encourage local communities to shun extremism as well as "de-radicalise" suspected militants.

The plan, widely praised by analysts tracking the conflict, was seen as a recognition that military might alone was not enough, particularly against Boko Haram's guerilla tactics.

As the conference opened on Tuesday, two female suicide bombers were shot dead in a botched attack on a mosque in the Jiddari Polo area of Maiduguri.

But even if funding was not an issue, implementation of any environmental scheme for Lake Chad would have to take a back seat initially to security operations.

According to the commander of the Multi-National Joint Task Force, Major-General Lucky Irabor, military action was targeting Boko Haram on the islands of Lake Chad.

Full report at:

https://www.news24.com/Africa/News/tackle-lake-chad-environment-to-stop-boko-haram-experts-20180509

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Boko Haram: 2 teenagers killed in failed Borno suicide attack

May 9, 2018

By Don Silas

Two female suicide bombers were killed on Wednesday morning while attempting to attack a mosque in Borno State, North-east Nigeria.

Mr Damian Chukwu, the Commissioner of Police in the state, confirmed this in a statement personally signed.

Chukwu disclosed that the attackers tried to gain entry into the Alhaji Bunu’s Mosque during the morning prayers in Jiddari Polo general area on the outskirts of Maiduguri, the state capital.

He added that the bombers who were between the ages of 13 and 16 were, however, prevented by the policemen on patrol and unarmed vigilante men also praying in the same mosque.

“In the ensuing stampede, both bombers ran into an uncompleted building in the neighbourhoods, collided and simultaneously exploded, killing only themselves,” he said.

Full report at:

http://dailypost.ng/2018/05/09/boko-haram-2-teenagers-killed-failed-borno-suicide-attack/

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URL:

 

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

 

PressTV-Trump announces 'withdrawal' from Iran nuclear deal

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Trump’s Decision Could End the Very Empire He’s Trying to Protect: Scholar

Out On Bail, 26/11 Mumbai Attacks Mastermind Lakhvi Raising Funds in Pakistan

UNSC Urges Myanmar to Punish Abusers of Muslim Minority

Husain Haqqani: 'Pakistani Military Fears Ethno-Linguistic Identities'

92 Year Old Mahathir Takes the Helm, Gains Surprise Victory in Malaysian Elections

Vatican Denies Deal with Saudi Arabia to Build Churches

 

North America

Trump’s Decision Could End the Very Empire He’s Trying to Protect: Scholar

Trump Deserves Impeachment For Iran Deal Withdrawal: Waters

Appeals Court Bars U.S. From Transferring American ISIS Suspect

Mattis vows to work with allies after Iran pullout

Man Pleads Guilty to Vandalizing Tennessee Islamic Centre

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India

Out On Bail, 26/11 Mumbai Attacks Mastermind Lakhvi Raising Funds in Pakistan

Saving Taj Mahal: SC Says Throw Out ASI, Govt Says Calling Experts

Ramzan here, Amarnath Yatra starts next month, declare ceasefire: J&K parties to Delhi

India sends second relief consignment for Rohingya Muslims in Bangladesh

Gurgaon DC Asks For List of Places Where Namaz Will Be Held

Terror-funding, stone-throwing rising in Jammu and Kashmir: Hansraj Gangaram Ahir

Civilian killings: J&K Police bust Lashkar-e-Toiba module operating in Baramulla, Sopore

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South Asia

UNSC Urges Myanmar to Punish Abusers of Muslim Minority

Suicide Bombers, Gunmen Attack Kabul Police Stations

ICC asks Bangladesh for input on Rohingya jurisdiction

Myanmar Verifies More Than 1,000 Refugees in Bangladesh for Repatriation

Militants suffer heavy casualties in joint Afghan, US operations in Paktia

NDS says Haqqani network involved behind today’s coordinated Kabul attacks

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Pakistan

Husain Haqqani: 'Pakistani Military Fears Ethno-Linguistic Identities'

Anchors Failing To Maintain Ramazan Sanctity Risk Life Ban: IHC

Pakistan Releases Commemorative Coin for Late Catholic Nun

Pakistan Stands with Iran on Nuclear Deal Issue

‘Abducted’ Faisalabad Student Embraces Islam, Marries Muslim Man

US blocks Pakistan’s requests to UN on Khurasani: report

Punjab to Consider Separate Funds for JuD Seminaries after Takeover: Report

Saudi Ambassador says KSA will continue to cooperate with Pakistan

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Southeast Asia

92 Year Old Mahathir Takes the Helm, Gains Surprise Victory in Malaysian Elections

Islamic Groups Report Indonesian Politician for ‘Blasphemous ‘Poem

ISIS-Linked Indonesian Jail Riot Ends as Police Raid Cellblock

ISIS-Linked Groups in the Philippines Are Not Yet Defeated

China to continue cooperation With Iran after US withdrawal from nuclear deal

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Arab World

Vatican Denies Deal with Saudi Arabia to Build Churches

ISIS Leader Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi Travels In East Syria with Tight-Knit Group

Trump’s Envoy Praises Muslim League Leader’s Declaration on Holocaust

Five Top ISIS Officials Captured in U.S.-Iraqi Sting

Iraq readies for first election since end of IS war

Saudi air defences intercept two missiles over Riyadh

Kurdish Militias Planning to Set up New Military Base in Northeastern Syria

Main Syrian opposition backs Trump’s Iran move, calls it real opportunity

Syrian government forces carry on with anti-terror operations

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Europe

Cardiff University Receives £850k Gift for Study of Islam

EU Pledges Commitment to Iran Nuclear Deal, Regrets Trump Decision

Germany Deports Suspected Islamic Extremist to Tunisia

Web of obscure British firms try to tarnish UAE’s terrorism fight

France's Macron says Trump made a mistake by leaving JCPOA

Germany vows to protect EU firms against Iran bans

Sunday Telegraph Pays Damages to Mosque Chief Over Corbyn Article

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Mideast

Suspected Israeli Strike on Syria Kills 8 Iranians: Monitor

Israel blames Iran for firing rockets at the Golan from Syria

Saada tribes: We reject the Houthi coup backed by Iran

Yemeni forces fire missiles at 'economic targets' in Saudi capital

Netanyahu sets off to Russia after Israel strikes Syrian army positions

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Africa

Investigations Reveal Sudan Is Safe Haven For IS Group

Blast kills 11 people in Somali khat market near Mogadishu

Tackle Lake Chad environment to stop Boko Haram: experts

Boko Haram: 2 teenagers killed in failed Borno suicide attack

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau

URL:

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Trump’s decision could end the very Empire he’s trying to protect: Scholar

May 9, 2018

US President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw the United States from the Iran nuclear deal is going to be catastrophe for the very Empire that Trump says he is trying to protect, according to E. Michael Jones, an American scholar and political analyst in Indiana.

Jones, a writer, former professor, media commentator and the current editor of the Culture Wars magazine, made the remarks in a phone interview with Press TV on Wednesday, a day after Trump announced that he was pulling the US out of the nuclear agreement, formally called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JPCOA), which was negotiated and signed by his predecessor, Barack Obama.

In a televised speech from the White House, Trump also said that he would reinstate nuclear sanctions on Iran. “We will be instituting the highest level of economic sanctions."

Trump’s decision risked alienating America’s European allies who warned the administration that the JPCOA was a multilateral pact that could not be terminated by only one party. It also raised the prospect of another conflict in the Middle East, they warned.

“As everyone expected Donald Trump has announced the United States is revoking or pulling out from the Iran nuclear deal,” Jones said.

“He did this because he needs the support of America’s Jews, and the Israel lobby, in order to stay in power and to protect himself from the US Deep State,” he stated. 

“So the question now that this has happened, now that he pulled out, what is going to happen,” he said.

“I have been all along that the main fallout here comes from the fact that he is going to reimpose the sanctions, if he re-imposes the sanctions this means that Germany and England have announced that they are not going to go along with the deal,” the analyst noted. 

“All these European countries have already signed deals with Iran. And now if they reimpose the sanctions, that means the United States will be in an economic warfare with Europe, with its partners in NATO. This is going to be catastrophe for the very empire that Trump says he is trying to protect here,” he said. 

“You will be waging economic warfare against Germany. Germany has already gone on record, saying, ‘This is illegal. And they are not going to follow it.’ This is going to break up the NATO,” he observed.

“Germany cannot afford at this point to go along with these sanctions. Nobody in Europe can afford to go along with this,” he said.

“What Trump has done here is unite the entire world against him and Israel. This is a catastrophe on any rational point of view for the United States and its interests abroad,” the commentator concluded.

http://www.presstv.com/Detail/2018/05/09/561180/Trumps-decision-could-end-the-very-Empire-hes-trying-to-protect

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Out On Bail, 26/11 Mumbai Attacks Mastermind Lakhvi Raising Funds in Pakistan

Bharti Jain

May 10, 2018

NEW DELHI: Pakistan-based mastermind of 26/11 Mumbai attacks and top Lashker-e-Taiba commander Zaki-ur Rehman Lakhvi has resurfaced for the first time after being released on bail by the Lahore high court in 2015, and is allegedly collecting donations from wheat farmers in Punjab province to fund the outfit's terror activities .

According to intelligence inputs with the Indian agencies, Lakhvi - a most-wanted terrorist in India - continues to head the outfit's operations despite being away from the public eye since his release from Rawalpindi's Adiala jail in April 2015. He resurfaced in February 2018 and is actively organising collection of donations in Punjab coinciding with the wheat harvesting season, sources told TOI .

LeT continues to raise finances through various charities, with new names lately being added to the list, despite the sword of Financial Action Task Force (FATF) hanging over Pakistan. In February this year, FATF had said it would put Pakistan back on its watch-list or "greylist" from June 2018 over its failure to crack down on terrorist outfits.

LeT chief Hafiz Saeed continues to address public meetings in Pakistan and hopes to enter the political arena by getting the Jamaat ud Dawah's political front, Milli Muslim League, to contest elections.

LeT has also launched a magazine by the name 'Wyeth' (meaning 'The Resistance in Flow') with a focus on Kashmir. The 20-page, maiden issue of the magazine, seeks to encourage and motivate Kashmiris to join terrorist ranks.

The magazine stresses that India's 'Operation All-Out' in Kashmir is backfiring as more Kashmiri youths are joining terrorist ranks.

The magazine carries an interview of LeT spokesperson Abdullah Ghaznawi where he declares: "Year 2018 would be tough for Indian Army... Our freedom struggle is heading towards conclusion. India has already lost the war and is breathing its last. "

An intelligence officer claimed ‘Wyeth’ misquotes the Prophet and states that jihad is the only practical way of spreading Islam. It uses some ten-odd verses from Quran, which were relevant to the war to liberate Mecca, and tries to show that this is true religion.

“The reality and context of these verses has been correctly shown in the recent fatwa against terror in all forms, by Jamiat Ahle Hadis. The same was reiterated by King Hussein of Jordan when he visited India on March 1, at Vigyan Bhavan, where PM hosted a conference of Muslim scholars and religious heads, to welcome the King. Maulana Mehmood Madani (head of Jamiat Ulema Hind) had stressed that for Indian Muslims, nation was supreme,” said the officer.

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/out-on-bail-lakhvi-raising-funds/articleshow/64102389.cms

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UNSC urges Myanmar to punish abusers of Muslim minority

May 10, 2018

The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) has called on Myanmar’s government to hold accountable the perpetrators of widespread violence against the Rohingya Muslim minority in the Buddhist-majority country’s northwest over the past year and a half.

The 15-member body — which includes Myanmar’s ally China — stressed in a statement on Wednesday the importance of conducting “transparent investigations” into accusations of violence against Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar’s northwestern Rakhine State and giving immediate aid access to the troubled region.

“The members of the Security Council, in light of the importance of undertaking transparent investigations into allegations of human rights abuses and violations, urge the government of Myanmar to fulfill, based on respect for the rule of law, its stated commitment to holding accountable perpetrators of violence, including sexual violence and abuse and violence against children,” the Council said.

The statement came days after a team of UN envoys met Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh for the first time to hear the sufferings of some 700,000 Muslims who have escaped a campaign of violence, rape, and arson by the military in Myanmar.

The UN envoys were also granted a rare visit to Rakhine.

The UNSC statement said that during the visit to Rakhine, members observed “widespread destruction of villages” and “were struck by the scale of the humanitarian crisis and remain gravely concerned by the current situation.”

The Council called on Myanmar’s government to conclude an agreement “in the coming days” with the UN refugee agency on repatriating refugees from Bangladesh and creating conditions for their “safe, voluntary and dignified return” to their homes in Rakhine.

A day before the UNSC statement, four human rights groups urged the world body to refer Myanmar to the International Criminal Court (ICC) for crimes against humanity.

The four rights groups, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, the Global Center for the Responsibility to Protect and Fortify Rights, said Myanmar’s government was incapable of bringing those responsible for the brutal violence to justice.

Myanmar has come under intense criticism since its military launched a deadly crackdown against the Muslim minority in Rakhine in late 2016. Thousands of the Muslims have been killed. About 700,000 others have fled to neighboring Bangladesh since August last year, bringing with them horrifying accounts of massacres, gang rape, and arson by Myanmar’s military forces and Buddhist mobs.

The international medics who have examined the refugees have verified that their bodily injuries conform to the accounts of violence, including rape.

The UN has previously described the violence against the Rohingya as “ethnic cleansing” and possibly “genocide.”

It was unlikely that the UNSC call would be heeded. Myanmar has denied that violence has taken place. It has also bulldozed the formerly Muslim-majority villages in Rakhine and has set up encampments to settle Buddhists shuttled in from elsewhere in the country. An agreement with Bangladesh to return the Rohingya also remains stalled due to safety concerns by the Muslim refugees.

http://www.presstv.com/Detail/2018/05/10/561203/UN-Security-Council-Myanmar-Rohingya-Muslims-investigation

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Husain Haqqani: 'Pakistani military fears ethno-linguistic identities'

May 10, 2018

Husain Haqqani: The idea of my latest book was born in a conversation many years ago, when Salman Rushdie [novelist] said, "If nations are imagined communities, Pakistan is poorly imagined." There were some valid criticisms about how Pakistan was created in a hurry. The generation before us had to suddenly stop being Indian and start being Pakistani; they needed an ideology. I am a Pakistani by birth, so I don't need it.

In my book, I thought how I could contribute to the process of reimagining Pakistan. The good thing about imagination is that what is poorly imagined can be reimagined. That is why I wrote this book.

70 years of ideological orientation cannot be reversed overnight. Any attempt to phase out the invoking of religion as ideology would have to be gradual. Pakistan's civilian and military leaders would have to work together to ensure over time that Pakistanis realize the pitfalls of their contrived national narrative. The first step in that direction would be to trigger a debate over alternative paths for the country, something that has almost been shut down since former military dictator General Zia-ul-Haq's era.

There are those who would argue that the state ideology has helped Pakistan survive against the threat of disintegration, especially after the loss of Bangladesh. But that suggests that Pakistan, as a nation and as a state, cannot sustain itself except through ideological rhetoric, which, in turn, must be sustained through issues that mean little for most people in the 21st century. If that is the case, Pakistan has no choice but to stay mired in conceptual argumentation as Islamization has proved to be a recipe for unceasing internal conflict.

The alternative is for Pakistan to evolve as a functional, territorial nation state and a working federation of its various component ethnicities and nationalities. For that to happen, its leaders must take a stand against the unidimensional preoccupation with ideology.

The Pakistani military has always feared ethno-linguistic identities and believed they would result in a break up of Pakistan. Any demands for more autonomy or creation of states based on ethnic or linguistic bases are perceived as anti-national and other countries (especially India and Afghanistan) are accused of helping these demands. The separation of Pakistan's eastern wing in 1971 only reinforced these fears.

Pakistan's ideological national identity has always been seen as the glue that will tie disparate ethnicities together and will over time reduce the ethnic-linguistic bonds. The truth is justice, fair treatment and a genuine federalism is the real way to keep Pakistan together and to make it stronger.

At independence, the Pakistani state feared Pashtun irredentist demands. This led to the policy of encouraging Islamization in the northwestern regions of the country as a counter to nationalist Pashtun sentiments. The Pakistani "deep state" is unable to view any peaceful movement as genuine because this runs counter to their narrative about Pakistan. Just as the Baluch uprising is treated as anti-national so is the Pashtun awakening seen as against Pakistani interests. But the Pashtun Tahafuz Movement is a genuine popular movement seeking human rights and protection of the Pashtun peoples' lives and dignity. There is no evidence that the thousands of young people joining it are foreign supported or externally inspired.

Nawaz Sharif's ouster only reinforces what can best be described as Pakistan's viceregal tradition. Elected politicians are subject to the whims and "superior judgment" of appointed generals, judges, and civil servants, just as they were during the British colonial era. One need not be convinced of Sharif's innocence to note that in the last 70 years, all elected Pakistani prime ministers have either been assassinated, dismissed or forced to resign by heads of state with military backing, or deposed in coups d'état. Sharif was himself a protégé of the military establishment once but now that he challenges them, he is being targeted through courts that once gave him carte blanche.

The Trump administration has taken a tough stance against Pakistan in relation to Islamabad's alleged support to Islamists. What should Pakistan do to allay US concerns?

The Trump administration's policies reflect the deep mistrust that has characterized the US-Pakistan relationship. At the heart of that dysfunction is the divergence of core interests in South Asia. Even at the height of the alliance, the United States never shared Pakistan's views about its co-leadership in the region and its envisioning of India as a major threat to its neighbors.

The Americans doled out military assistance and economic support in return for favors such as intelligence bases against the Soviet Union and China during the 1950s and 60s as well as for using Pakistan as the staging ground for jihad against the Soviets in Afghanistan during the 1980s.

Pakistan, on the other hand, single-mindedly defined its national interest in terms of rivalry with India. The Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan was not the end of jihad for Pakistan but the beginning of an opportunity to expand jihad to Kashmir and even India. Turning Afghanistan into a satellite with the help of obscurantist proxies like the Taliban and the Haqqani Network became an obsession for the all-powerful Pakistani military and intelligence services. Even blowback in the form of extremist attacks inside Pakistan did not alter that calculus.

The US understood that Pakistan was not on board with its vision for Afghanistan as well as the entire region. But there were NATO transshipments and intelligence sharing to consider. Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama also hoped that incentives, and occasional threats, would eventually lead Pakistan to change its strategic calculus. For that reason they put up with a situation in which American troops died in Afghanistan at the hands of fighters who received assistance and protection across the border, in the territory of an ostensible ally who received economic and military assistance from the US.

Meanwhile, Pakistan's military believed that the policies it was pursuing are in the country's "national interest" as the generals define it. They would not change their definition of national interest until the cost of pursuing it became higher than what they are willing to bear.

American and Pakistani interests can converge only when one of the two countries changes its definition of its interests in Afghanistan, in relation to terrorism, and about China's primacy in the Indo-Pacific region.

http://www.dw.com/en/husain-haqqani-pakistani-military-fears-ethno-linguistic-identities/a-43713351

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92 Year Old Mahathir Takes the Helm, Gains Surprise Victory in Malaysian Elections

MAY 10, 2018

Malaysia’s veteran ex-leader Mahathir Mohamad, 92, won a historic election victory Thursday, in a political earthquake that toppled the country’s scandal-plagued premier and ousted a regime that had ruled for over six decades.

In a stunning political upset that took pundits by surprise, Mahathir’s opposition alliance ended the long hold on power of the Barisan Nasional coalition, which has been in power in Malaysia since its birth as an independent country in 1957.

The thumping victory capped a dramatic political comeback for Mahathir, who previously ruled the country with an iron fist for 22 years and came out of retirement to take on Prime Minister Najib Razak after the leader became embroiled in a massive corruption scandal.

When he takes power, Mahathir will be the oldest prime minister in the world.

Despite the shock result there were no reports of trouble on the streets, where pockets of celebration erupted overnight.

A flag-waving crowd of supporters gathered on a field outside the headquarters of Mahathir’s party near Kuala Lumpur.

Suva Selvan, a 48-year-old doctor, said he felt the country had just won its independence.

“I feel that with this change we probably can see something better in the future… our hope for the future is a better government, fair, free and united,” he told AFP.

Defeat could just be the beginning of Najib’s troubles. Mahathir has vowed to bring him to justice over allegations that billions of dollars were looted from sovereign wealth fund 1MDB, which the scandal-hit leader set up and oversaw.

But at a press conference after his win, Mahathir vowed: “We are not seeking revenge. We want to restore the rule of law.”

He said he would be sworn in Thursday.

Mahathir’s return to the political frontlines saw him throw in his lot with an opposition alliance filled with parties that he crushed while in power, and which includes jailed opposition icon Anwar Ibrahim — his former nemesis.

Anwar is due to be released from prison in June. Mahathir has vowed to get him a royal pardon, and later hand over the premiership to him.

As well as seizing control of the national government, several state legislatures across the country fell into opposition hands for the first time, including the highly symbolic bastion of Johor, the birthplace of Najib’s party that was the lynchpin of the ruling coalition.

Official results from the Election Commission showed that Mahathir’s opposition grouping Pakatan Harapan, along with a small ally, had secured 121 parliamentary seats. 112 are needed to form a government.

BN got 79 seats –- a dramatic drop from the 133 they held previously.

Najib was nowhere to be seen as the evening wore on, and was believed to have holed up inside his house for talks with senior members of BN.

The opposition win was particularly striking as critics said that Najib tried everything he could to cling to power.

His government was accused of pushing a redrawing of electoral boundaries through parliament that created constituencies packed with the country’s Muslim Malay majority, who have traditionally supported BN.

He called the election on a weekday — polls are typically held at the weekend in Malaysia — in what observers said was an effort to keep turnout down, which would hurt the opposition. In the event, voters flocked to the polls in huge numbers.

Ultimately the explosive allegations of corruption, coupled with anger at rising living costs, proved too much for Malaysia’s 15 million voters, already sick of racially divisive politics in the multi-ethnic country and graft scandals under years of BN rule.

In Mahathir, the opposition found the perfect person to take on Najib. He is a staunch Malay nationalist who could appeal to the country’s biggest ethnic group, and whose years in power were remembered as a prosperous period in the country’s history.

The initial euphoria at the opposition victory will likely give way to some apprehension.

Mahathir was also accused of being an authoritarian leader, and political opponents were thrown in jail during his time in office.

https://dailytimes.com.pk/238212/92-year-old-mahatir-takes-the-helm-gains-surprise-victory-in-malaysian-elections/

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Vatican denies deal with Saudi Arabia to build churches

May 10, 2018

The Vatican has stated that the reports claiming that it signed a deal with the government of Saudi Arabia to build churches from Christian were “false.”

A report published by the Egypt Independent has claimed that the agreement was signed by the Secretary-General of the Muslim World League Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdel Karim Al-Issa and the President of the Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue in the Vatican and the French cardinal of the Catholic Church Jean-Louis Tauran.

The agreement to build churches for Christians was supposedly a part of the Saudi Arabian government’s effort to demonstrate the role of religions and cultures in the fight against terrorism and extremism.

Tauran had met with members of the Saudi Royal family earlier this year during his visit to the Middle Eastern country.

During the visit, Tauran and the Saudi crown prince discussed the government’s use of media and technology in its campaign to “disrupt extremist recruitment and promote tolerance.”

“I think we have two enemies: extremism and ignorance,” Tauran stated at the time, according to Daily Mail.

“I don’t believe in the clash of civilisation but rather in the clash of ignorance. Most of the time people react because they don’t know who you are or who they are,” he added.

The cardinal had reportedly signed an agreement with the Muslim World League, a government-backed organization that has been tasked with propagating the Wahhabi form of Islam.

The deal reportedly involves regular inter-religious summits organized by Saudi and Vatican delegations.

Upon his return, Tauran stated that his visit could be an indication of greater “openness” and desire for “rapprochement” with Christianity from Saudi Arabia, the only country in the Middle East without a Christian church.

In recent months, Saudi leaders have met with various Christian leaders, including the head of Lebanon’s Maronite church, Beshara Rai.

Rai had met with King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman during his visit to Riyadh in November.

Additionally, the prince had also met with Jewish and Catholic leaders during his trip to New York in March.

The reformist prince has been trying to clean up the image of his kingdom, which has often been linked to jihadist ideology.

It is estimated that 1.5 million Christians, most of whom are migrant workers, are currently residing in Saudi Arabia, where all forms of public worship are forbidden except for Islam.

According to Russia Today, a proposal to build a church was announced back in 2008, but the plan was abandoned at a later stage.

http://mattersindia.com/2018/05/vatican-denies-deal-with-saudi-arabia-to-build-churches/

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North America

 

Trump deserves impeachment for Iran deal withdrawal: Waters

May 10, 2018

US President Donald Trump deserves impeachment over his decision to withdraw from the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and six world powers, says a top Democratic lawmaker.

Representative Maxine Waters, a firm critic of Trump, said in a tweet on Wednesday that the Republican president "thinks he knows better" than all the negotiators and major American allies – the UK, France and Germany—who negotiated the deal with Iran under former President Barack Obama.

"Trump, further isolating the United States, thinks he knows better than our negotiators and all of our global allies who agreed to the Iran deal," she tweeted. "How long do we have to suffer his gigantic ego and narcissistic behavior? Impeachment is the only answer." 

Trump declared Tuesday that his country would pull out of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA, saying Washington would not only reinstate the anti-Iran sanctions lifted as part of the deal, but will also “be instituting the highest level of economic” bans against the Islamic Republic.

The JCPOA came out of years of negotiations between Iran on one side and six world powers, namely the US, Russia, China, France, Britain and Germany, on the other, in July 2015.

Apart from Democrats, many of Trump’s allies in the Republican Party had warned him against the decision.

Leaders of Germany, France, Britain, Russia, China as well as the United Nations have condemned the move, calling for the deal to be kept in place.

Some Democrats in the US House of Representatives have thrown their weight behind an effort to introduce articles of impeachment against Trump, but the movement has failed to gain traction among party leaders.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and several other ranking Democrats have blocked the efforts, arguing that the push by Waters and other lawmakers to impeach Trump was a "gift" for Republicans ahead of crucial midterm elections in November.

“On the political side I think it’s a gift to the Republicans,” Pelosi said during a press briefing in April. “We want to talk about what they’re doing to undermine working families in our country and what we are doing to increase their payrolls and lower their costs.”

http://www.presstv.com/Detail/2018/05/10/561207/US-Trump-Iran-deal-impeachment-Iran-deal

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Appeals Court Bars U.S. From Transferring American ISIS Suspect

By Charlie Savage

May 9, 2018

WASHINGTON — The United States cannot forcibly transfer an American citizen being held in Iraq as an Islamic State suspect to the custody of another country without first proving that he is an enemy combatant, a federal appeals court has ruled.

A major decision on presidential war powers and individual rights, the ruling was handed down by a three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia on Monday and unsealed on Wednesday. It rejected the Trump administration’s argument that it has the authority to transfer the man against his will.

“We cannot accept the government’s argument,” Judge Sri Srinivasan wrote. “We know of no instance — in the history of the United States — in which the government has taken an American citizen found in one foreign country and forcibly transferred her to the custody of another foreign country.”

The man, an American-born dual citizen of Saudi Arabia whose name has not been made public, was captured by a Syrian militia in September and turned over to the American military. The Trump administration wants to transfer the man to another country — apparently Saudi Arabia — but he has objected.

However, Judge Srinivasan wrote, if a review were to find that the government is lawfully holding the man as an enemy combatant, that would likely give American officials the legal authority to transfer the man to an ally in the fight against the Islamic State, also known as ISIS.

The man has apparently said he went to Syria to be a journalist and was arrested by the Islamic State, then worked for the group as a condition of being freed from prison. But the government has said it seized Islamic State records that show he registered with the group as a fighter.

The majority ruling upheld a decision last month by Judge Tanya S. Chutkan of the Federal District Court to block the Trump administration from transferring the man.

Asked whether the Justice Department will appeal again or proceed to a hearing before Judge Chutkan over the merits of the man’s claim that he is not being lawfully detained, Kerri Kupec, a department spokeswoman, said it was still considering its next steps.

The activities the man is accused of with the Islamic State “implicate numerous national security, law enforcement, international relations and foreign policy concerns,” Ms. Kupec said. “Both domestic and international law confer on the U.S. military broad discretion over battlefield operations, including the transfer of individuals captured on overseas battlefields.”

Judge Srinivasan was joined by Judge Robert L. Wilkins. Both are appointees of former President Barack Obama. But their ruling was not unanimous. The third judge on the panel, Karen L. Henderson, an appointee of President George Bush, dissented, arguing that the administration should be able to transfer the battlefield captive without further ado.

The majority’s ruling, she argued, was itself without precedent, and risked disrupting “military operations and sovereign-to-sovereign relations half a world away.”

Jonathan Hafetz, an American Civil Liberties Union lawyer representing the man, invoked the Supreme Court’s landmark 2004 ruling in the case of Yaser Esam Hamdi, a dual American-Saudi citizen who was captured in Afghanistan. In that case, the court ruled that the man could be held indefinitely without trial as a wartime detainee, but only if he got a hearing at which the government presented sufficient evidence to show he was part of the enemy.

Full report at:

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/05/09/us/politics/american-isis-suspect-appeals-ruling.html

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Mattis vows to work with allies after Iran pullout

09 May 2018

The United States will keep working with allies to prevent a nuclear Iran, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said Wednesday, a day after President Donald Trump withdrew from a deal aimed at doing just that.

"We will continue to work alongside our allies and partners to ensure that Iran can never acquire a nuclear weapon, and will work with others to address the range of Iran's malign influence," Mattis told a Senate panel.

"This administration remains committed to putting the safety, interests and well-being of our citizens first."

But he has been a staunch advocate of working with allies and became a quiet defender of the Iran deal as Trump mulled pulling out.

In October, he said it was in the US national interest to remain in the deal.

In January, he said the Iran deal was "imperfect" but added that "when America gives her word, we have to live up to it and work with our allies."

Last month, he said the deal allowed for "pretty robust" inspections of Iranian facilities.

Full report at:

http://www.worldbulletin.net/america-canada/201898/mattis-vows-to-work-with-allies-after-iran-pullout

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Man Pleads Guilty to Vandalizing Tennessee Islamic Centre

May 9, 2018

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — A man pleaded guilty Wednesday to vandalizing a Tennessee Islamic Center last July with profane references to Allah in spray-paint and strips of bacon, federal prosecutors said.

Charles Dwight Stout III, 20, was initially charged with civil rights violations and obstruction of justice.

Stout now faces a year of supervision and must pay for the damage after pleading guilty to conspiracy and to causing damage to religious property because of its religious character, U.S. Attorney Donald Cochran said.

A judge will determine how much Stout will have to pay at a sentencing hearing in August.

Stout and a co-defendant, Thomas Gibbs, apologized to the congregation in Murfreesboro during a service focused on forgiveness in March. Stout said he was "very, very sorry" and that he could "imagine the disappointment and the hurt and the fear I caused." He said he wouldn't want anyone to do that to his church.

Gibbs called his actions "dumb, foolish and immature."

After the service, numerous men approached the men with open arms and smiles. A spokesman for the center said Islam teaches forgiveness, and it's better to forgive and correct than condemn and punish.

Gibbs' case is still going through the system. He has pleaded not guilty.

The Islamic Center of Murfreesboro has faced opposition for years in the suburb of Nashville. The center has endured public protests, vandalism, arson of a construction vehicle and a bomb threat since announcing its expansion.

Full report at:

https://www.usnews.com/news/best-states/tennessee/articles/2018-05-09/man-pleads-guilty-to-vandalizing-tennessee-islamic-center

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India

 

Saving Taj Mahal: SC says throw out ASI, govt says calling experts

by Ananthakrishnan G

May 10, 2018

With the Supreme Court making clear that the Archaeological Survey of India “will have to be thrown out of the picture” if the Taj Mahal has to be saved, the Centre Wednesday informed the court it was considering the suggestion to involve international experts in the conservation of the 17th century monument.

Additional Solicitor General A N S Nadkarni conveyed this to the bench of Justices Madan B Lokur and Deepak Gupta which has been hearing a matter related to the protection of the Taj.

Expressing concern that the marble structure was turning green, the bench on May 1 asked the Centre and Uttar Pradesh government to think of hiring experts from outside if local experts could not do the job. “You all appear to be helpless. Money should not be the consideration. We might order you to hire experts from within India or abroad. We need to save it,” the bench said.

Nadkarni said the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change was considering the court’s suggestion.

The court was upset with the role of the ASI which, in a report, suggested that stagnation of water in the Yamuna river and high phosphorus in the riverbed had made it a breeding ground for insects that formed patches on the walls of the Taj every summer. To resolve this, the ASI suggested that the water level of the Yamuna be increased and sources of pollution be plugged immediately to stop algae formation on the river bank.

These insects, the ASI report stated, disappeared during winter and reappeared in April. It said they were also fewer in number during the monsoon. The problem, the report stated, had increased since 2015. Earlier, the insects would be eaten by the fish in the Yamuna but marine life, the report stated, had disappeared due to increasing toxicity caused by pollution.

Hauling up the ASI, the bench said: “This situation would not have arisen if the ASI had done its job. We are surprised with the way the ASI is defending itself.”

The judges told Nadkarni: “You (Centre) please consider if the ASI is needed there or not. The view of ASI is very clear from their submissions. They are not prepared to accept the problem… you have to remove the ASI because they are saying they are doing an excellent job. ASI will have to be thrown out of the picture.”

The bench asked ASI counsel A D N Rao whether algae could fly and how it had reached the top of the structure. Rao said the problem would remain as long as there was water stagnation in the river which, he said, had become a dumping ground for waste.

On the marble changing colour, Rao said one of the reasons was the high turnout of visitors who entered with dirty socks. While dignitaries who visited the monument were provided socks, the others carried their own, he pointed out.

Appearing for the UP government, Additional Solicitor General Tushar Mehta informed the bench that a vision document on protection and preservation of Taj and environment in the Taj Trapezium Zone (TTZ) was under preparation and would be finalised by July — the TTZ is spread over 10,400 sq km, across the districts of Agra, Firozabad, Mathura, Hathras and Etah in Uttar Pradesh and Bharatpur in Rajasthan. He said the report will soon be filed in court following which the bench adjourned the matter.

http://indianexpress.com/article/india/saving-taj-mahal-supreme-court-says-throw-out-asi-govt-says-calling-experts-5170706/

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Ramzan here, Amarnath Yatra starts next month, declare ceasefire: J&K parties to Delhi

by Bashaarat Masood

May 10, 2018

With the Ramadan here and the Amarnath Yatra starting next month, an all-party meeting Wednesday urged the Centre to “consider” announcing ceasefire in Jammu and Kashmir.

Emerging from a marathon meeting attended by all mainstream parties, Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti said: “The consensus of all was that we should appeal to the Government of India to consider, on the eve of Ramadan and Amarnath Yatra, the unilateral ceasefire… The way (Atal Bihari) Vajpayee did a unilateral ceasefire in 2000… the Government of India should think on those lines so that people get relief.”

With BJP leader and Deputy Chief Minister Kavinder Gupta by her side, Mufti said: “Crackdowns are happening, encounters are happening and search operations are happening, people are facing a lot of hardship. And now it is the month of Ramadan and the Amarnath Yatra is starting, we should make efforts to take steps that restore the confidence of people here”.

Kavinder Gupta told The Indian Express that his party’s stand was “what the Chief Minister said”.

But state BJP chief spokesperson Sunil Sethi had a different view. “Our point of view is that a ceasefire at this stage will not solve the problem. Rather it will aggravate it as the Army has an upper hand at the moment. We have cornered the militants and this breathing period will be used by them to regroup.’’

While leaders from other parties took on the PDP-BJP government over its “failure to implement” the Agenda of Alliance, there was consensus on the need for the Centre to announce an unilateral ceasefire.

“We have put this (ceasefire) demand in the meeting,” National Conference leader Ali Mohammad Sagar said. “If they (government) have to improve the situation here, they will have to do it (announce unilateral ceasefire)”.

The Congress too supported the unilateral ceasefire demand: “All Opposition parties said about it (ceasefire). We had said it in the previous all-party meeting as well that there should be unilateral ceasefire as happened previously.”

The meeting that lasted over four hours also recommended that an all-party delegation from Jammu and Kashmir meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The National Conference, however, is yet to take a final call on this and will decide only after its senior leaders consult each other.

“My people suggested that we should together meet the Prime Minister and apprise him of our concerns as far as the situation in Jammu and Kashmir is concerned,” Chief Minister Mufti said. “We should request the Prime Minister to implement what he said in his August 15 speech — where he talked about hugging the people of Jammu and Kashmir.”

Full report at:

http://indianexpress.com/article/india/ramzan-here-amarnath-yatra-starts-next-month-declare-ceasefire-jk-parties-to-delhi-mehbooba-mufti-5170680/

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India sends second relief consignment for Rohingya Muslims in Bangladesh

May 9, 2018

India has sent to Bangladesh its second relief consignment to help tens of thousands of displaced Rohingya Muslims who fled Myanmar following a military crackdown, triggering one of the world’s worst refugee crises. Over 600,000 Rohingyas have fled Myanmar’s violence-hit Rakhine state to neighbouring Bangladesh since August when the military intensified crackdown against alleged militant outfits of Rohingya Muslims. Indian Navy Ship INS Airavat sailed from Vishakhapatnam and reached Chattogram port (formerly Chittagong) Port yesterday where Indian High Commissioner Harsh Vardhan Shringla handed over the relief consignment to Disaster Management and Relief Minister Mofazzel Hussain Chowdhury Maya.

Officials familiar with the development said the 373-tonne consignment contained 104 tonnes of milk powder, 102 tonnes of dried fish, 61 tonnes of baby food, 50,000 raincoats and 50,000 pairs of gum boots. “Another tranche containing 1 million litres of kerosene oil and 20,000 cooking stoves is expected to arrive soon,” Shringla said. He said India sent the relief in view of the specific needs of the “large number of (Rohingya) women and children living in the camps and the onset of monsoon”.

“We hope this will bring some succour to the people living in camps,” he said. Bangladesh has repeatedly sought India’s help to put pressure on Myanmar to resolve the Rohingya crisis. During a recent high-level visit of UN Security Council, Bangladesh called upon India as well as Russia, China and Japan to play a stronger role for Rohingya’s secured and dignified repatriation. Earlier, Bangladesh premier Sheikh Hasina engaged the foreign ministry to pursue a vigorous diplomacy with countries having direct borders with Myanmar along with Russia and sought enhanced Indian engagement in resolving the crisis.

“We want India to mount pressure on Myanmar so they quickly take back their displaced people,” Hasina had told a visiting non-government Indian delegation. She had warned that Rohingyas’ longer stay in Bangladesh could create a security crisis, arguing that “when people remain frustrated and have no work, they could easily be indulged in militancy”.

“We understand that the influx of large number of refugees has created unprecedented challenges for the government and people of Bangladesh,” Shringla said. India’s foreign secretary Vijay Gokhale, who was in Dhaka last month, said “India has been fully supportive of the efforts being made to resolve the crisis, including early repatriation of the displaced people”.

Full report at:

http://indianexpress.com/article/india/india-sends-second-relief-consignment-for-rohingya-muslims-in-bangladesh/

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Gurgaon DC asks for list of places where namaz will be held

by Sakshi Dayal

May 10, 2018

Two days before Friday namaz in Gurgaon, the deputy commissioner has asked representatives of the Muslim community to prepare a list of places where prayers will be offered so that security arrangements can be made accordingly.

Speaking to The Indian Express after discussing the matter with representatives of the Muslim community as well as the Sanyukt Hindu Sangharsh Samiti in separate meetings, the deputy commissioner offered reassurance that peace will be ensured, unlike last Friday when prayers were disrupted by various outfits at several locations.

“I met with both groups today and have secured their word that all communication and contact between them henceforth will go through the district administration and officials. This will prevent an outbreak of violence or friction during namaz this week,” said Chander Shekhar Khare, who has stepped in as the deputy commissioner of Gurgaon while Vinay Pratap Singh is on leave.

“We are also working with the Muslim community to come up with a list of places where namaz will be read, so police personnel can be deployed as a precautionary measure,” he said.

Wajid Khan, who heads the Nehru Yuva Sangathan Welfare Society Charitable Trust, said the community has come up with a list of 90 places, which will be handed over to officials Thursday.

Full report at:

http://indianexpress.com/article/cities/delhi/gurgaon-dc-asks-for-list-of-places-where-namaz-will-be-held-5170594/

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Terror-funding, stone-throwing rising in Jammu and Kashmir: Hansraj Gangaram Ahir

by Rahul Tripathi

May 10, 2018

Acknowledging that incidents of stone-pelting and terror-funding in the Valley is on the rise again, Minister of State for Home Affairs Hansraj Gangaram Ahir on Wednesday said that the Centre’s approach on Kashmir will “not change”, and that the Army, central armed forces and the state police will continue operations to “flush out militants”.

“In the last few weeks, the incidents of stone-pelting have risen. It may be because of Pakistan. Army, CRPF and the police have been effectively dealing with the situation, and they will continue with their operations in the Valley,” Ahir told The Indian Express.

On amnesty to first-time stone-pelters, Ahir said, “It was a good initiative. So far, it has not come to light in our inquiry that those released on amnesty were involved in recent stone-pelting incidents (including Monday’s incident, in which a 22-year-old tourist from Chennai was killed). Strict action will be taken against those involved.”

He said, “The death of a tourist is very unfortunate. For Kashmir, tourism is important and a lot of people’s survival depends on it.”

In November last year, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) had advised the Jammu and Kashmir government to withdraw cases against 740 first-time stone-pelters. Of these 740 people, 40 were lodged in prison when the amnesty was announced — 20 of them were reportedly below 18 years.

More than 11,000 FIRs have been registered against stone-pelters in the Valley since July 2016, when the recent round of unrest began in the Valley following the death of top Hizbul Mujahideen militant Burhan Wani in an encounter. Of these, over 4,400 cases were registered against youths who were first-time offenders.

Ahir, who is in-charge of the J&K division in MHA, also acknowledged that despite the crackdown last year on funding for separatists, the flow of money is back. “It was an effort by the government to curb funding of militants in the Valley. However, Pakistan is using all tactics to pump money and militants into the Valley and has been successful on some occasions. We will continue with our efforts to choke funding. It’s an ongoing process, and all the agencies are working towards it.”

Full report at:

http://indianexpress.com/article/india/terror-funding-stone-throwing-rising-in-jammu-and-kashmir-hansraj-gangaram-ahir-5170530/

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Civilian killings: J&K Police bust Lashkar-e-Toiba module operating in Baramulla, Sopore

by Mir Ehsan |

May 10, 2018

Two days after four militants and six overground workers (OGW) were arrested in north Kashmir’s Baramulla and Sopore districts, the police Wednesday claimed to have busted a Lashkar-e-Toiba module, which was behind the May 1 civilian killings.

Asif Ahmad Sheikh (23), Haseeb Ahmad Khan (18) and Mohammad Ashgar (21) — residents of Kakar Hamam area of the district — were shot dead from a point blank range outside a shop in Iqbal Market by at least three gunmen earlier this month.

Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) of Baramulla Imtiyaz Hussain Wednesday confirmed the four militants — Bilal Ahmad Najar, Suhaib Akhoon, Aijaz Gojree and Mohsin Bhat — were responsible for killings. The group confessed that they belonged to a Lashkar module and had links in Pakistan, he said, adding that Suhaib Akhoon had also received training in a Lashkar camp in the neighbouring country.

The SSP said during searches in Hajibal-Drangbal forest area after the triple murder, one of the militants was captured. The arrested militant later led to their hideout, from where the three other militants were arrested.

SSP Hussain said that on May 1, Suhaib Akhoon, Aijaz Gojree and Bilal Najar shot the three youths from a point blank range and escaped to the Hajibal-Drangbal forest area in a car. Police have recovered two AK rifles and a Chinese pistol that were used in the crime and also detained the car owner.

According to the police, names of at least two youths, who were killed, “had figured in a threatening video issued by the Lashkar in 2016” for allegedly have links with the security forces. The police sources added that with the arrest of the militants and six OGWs, the Lashkar module operating in Sopore-Baramulla area, was busted.

Full report at:

http://indianexpress.com/article/india/jammu-and-kashmir-police-bust-lashkar-e-toiba-module-operating-in-baramulla-sopore-5170547/

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South Asia

 

Suicide bombers, gunmen attack Kabul police stations

May 09, 2018

Suicide bombers and gunmen launched apparent coordinated attacks on two Kabul police stations on Wednesday, with security forces still searching buildings for some of the assailants.

A series of loud explosions rocked the Afghan capital in the late morning and were quickly followed by volleys of gunfire as police engaged in fierce battles with militants.

At least two officers were killed and half a dozen civilians were wounded in the attacks, one of which was ongoing, police and health officials said, as the city braces for more violence in the coming days.

After an easing of attacks in Kabul in February and March, Taliban and Islamic State militants have stepped up assaults in the city in recent weeks.

IS claimed responsibility for the first attack on a police station in a heavily Shiite-populated neighbourhood in the city's west, which police spokesman Hashmatullah Estanakzai told AFP had ended.

Interior ministry spokesman Najib Danish said a suicide bomber blew himself up outside the station, triggering an intense gunfight.

"Two attackers were killed. Two policemen also lost their lives and two policemen are wounded," Estanakzai said.

Ariana TV footage showed a thick plume of black smoke rising into the sky while a photo posted on Twitter purportedly of the west Kabul police station showed a building on fire.

The second attack took place in front of a police station in Shar-e-Naw neighbourhood in downtown Kabul where a "search and clearing operation" was still under way.

An AFP correspondent near the scene of the second attack saw a body on the street by the police station and heard several gunshots. He also saw several terrified women running away from the scene.

A travel agency that handles Indian visa applications is located on the same street as the Shar-e-Naw police station. The Indian embassy and some of its consulates in Afghanistan have previously been targeted by the Taliban.

Health ministry spokesman Waheed Majroh said one person was killed in the west Kabul attack and six others wounded.

He had no further details on casualties.

Increased attacks

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the second of the attacks that come just over a week after twin blasts in Kabul killed 25 people, including AFP chief photographer Shah Marai and eight other journalists.

Those attacks were claimed by IS.

The Taliban recently launched their annual spring offensive, in an apparent rejection of a peace talks overture by the Afghan government.

Their Operation Al Khandaq will target US forces and "their intelligence agents" as well as their "internal supporters", a Taliban statement said on April 25.

Kabul has long been one of the deadliest places in Afghanistan for civilians.

A suicide bomber targeting a blood drive for victims of recent attacks blew himself up in a city park on Monday after being spotted by police, causing no other casualties.

On April 22, a suicide bomber detonated himself outside a voter registration centre in the city, killing 60 people and wounding more than 100.

That was among a series of attacks across the country in places where people were signing up to vote.

The Taliban and IS have made clear their intentions to disrupt the parliamentary and district council elections scheduled for October 20.

General John Nicholson, who leads US and NATO forces in Afghanistan, said previously that protecting Kabul was a priority for foreign troops.

But he acknowledged that preventing attacks would be challenging in the sprawling city that is poorly mapped and extremely porous.

https://nation.com.pk/09-May-2018/suicide-bombers-gunmen-attack-kabul-police-stations

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ICC asks Bangladesh for input on Rohingya jurisdiction

May 10, 2018

DHAKA (Reuters) - The International Criminal Court has asked Bangladesh to weigh in as the court considers a request by the ICC prosecutor for jurisdiction over alleged deportations of Rohingya Muslims from Myanmar to Bangladesh.

ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda asked the court last month to rule on whether it had jurisdiction over alleged deportations of Rohingya last year.

In a May 7 letter to the Bangladesh government, the ICC said the country had been "affected by the events concerning the alleged deportation of Rohingya people from Myanmar", and it was appropriate to seek its observations on the matter.

It also sought Dhaka's views on the court's "exercise of territorial jurisdiction over the alleged deportation of members of the Rohingya people from Myanmar into Bangladesh".

Myanmar has expressed "serious concern" about the prosecutor's request, and a government spokesman said on Wednesday it would have no effect because Myanmar is not a member of the ICC.

"ICC will have no effect on Myanmar and ICC cannot take action on Myanmar," spokesman Zaw Htay told Reuters in Yangon.

Attacks by Rohingya insurgents on security posts in Myanmar's Rakhine State in August sparked a military crackdown that, according to the United Nations and rights groups, sent nearly 700,000 Rohingya fleeing to camps in Bangladesh.

The United Nations said the military action amounted to ethnic cleansing. Myanmar denies the accusation, saying it was engaged in legitimate counter-insurgency operations.

The May 7 letter, seen by Reuters, asked the Bangladesh government about the "circumstances surrounding the presence" of Rohingya in the country.

Bangladesh foreign ministry spokesman Touhidul Islam said the government was considering the ICC's request.

"Before sending any observation the country needs some time to take a decision," he told Reuters.

Full report at:

https://www.firstpost.com/world/icc-asks-bangladesh-for-input-on-rohingya-jurisdiction-4463491.html

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Myanmar Verifies More Than 1,000 Refugees in Bangladesh for Repatriation

9 May 2018

NAYPYITAW — Myanmar will repatriate more than 1,000 Muslim refugees who have fled northern Rakhine State for Bangladesh, Union Immigration and Population Minister U Thein Swe said on Monday.

Bangladesh gave Myanmar a list of just over 8,000 refugees willing to return to Rakhine in February. Myanmar has since verified more than 1,000 of them as former residents and provided their names to Bangladesh; it is still reviewing the rest of the list. “We have so far verified about 1,100 refugees on the list,” U Thein Swe said in Naypyitaw at the launch of a video on migration in Myanmar.

According to the UN, nearly 700,000 mostly Rohingya Muslims have fled northern Rakhine for Bangladesh since late August, when militant attacks on security posts there triggered a sweeping military clearance operation. Myanmar has denied the figure and said it would only accept refugees who have lived in Myanmar and volunteer to return.

Full report at:

https://www.irrawaddy.com/news/burma/myanmar-verifies-1000-refugees-bangladesh-repatriation.html

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Militants suffer heavy casualties in joint Afghan, US operations in Paktia

May 10 2018

The local officials in southeastern Paktia province are saying that the anti-government armed militants have suffered heavy casualties during the joint operations conducted by the Afghan and US forces in this province.

The provincial government media office in a statement said the operations were conducted in Surkh Dara, Zaghni, and Roidar areas of Aryoub azai district.

The statement further added that at least 22 militants were killed and 7 others were wounded during the operations which were conducted with the help of the close-air support.

According to the local officials, the dead bodies of the militants are still left in the area and the death toll could be much higher.

The operations were conducted as the militants were attempting to establish safe havens after crossing from the other side of the Durand Line, Azra district of Logar, and Hesarak district of Nangarhar, the statement added.

According to the governor’s office, several key commanders of the militants have also been killed during the operations.

Full report at:

https://www.khaama.com/militants-suffer-heavy-casualties-in-joint-afghan-us-operations-in-paktia-05120/

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NDS says Haqqani network involved behind today’s coordinated Kabul attacks

May 09 2018

The Afghan Intelligence, National Directorate of Security (NDS), says the findings of the directorate indicate that the notorious Haqqan terrorist network was involved behind today’s coordinated attacks in Kabul city.

NDS in a statement said the attacks were planned with the support of Lashkar-e-Taiba militants group.

This comes as the ISIS Khurasan had earlier claimed that the attack in the Police District#13 in Dashti Barchi was carried out by the suicide bombers of the group.

The Minister of Interior Wais Ahmad Barmak had earlier said that the attack in Police District#13 in Dasht Barchi area has ended and all assailants were shot dead.

He said at least two attackers were involved in the attack in Police District#13 who had taken position inside a building and at least two policemen have lost their lives in the attack.

Full report at:

https://www.khaama.com/nds-says-haqqani-network-involved-behind-todays-coordinated-kabul-attacks-05117/

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Pakistan

 

Anchors failing to maintain Ramazan sanctity risk life ban: IHC

By Rizwan Shehzad

May 9, 2018

ISLAMABAD: No television programme flouting regulatory authority’s guidelines can be aired during Ramazan, the Islamabad High Court (IHC) declared on Wednesday.

Urging the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) for strict monitoring of all TV transmissions, the IHC ruled that the authority should take stern action against all violators.

IHC’s Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui also ruled: “No programme suggestive of containing lottery and gambling, even apparently for…Hajj or Umra tickets…shall be promoted to air either live or recorded. Programmes like Nelaam Ghar and those that appear to be like circus shows must be stopped.”

Justice Siddiqui directed Pemra and ministries of information and interior to ensure that the directives complied.

TV channels were also ordered to broadcast Azaan (Call to Prayer) five times a day.

IHC issues notice to PEMRA for airing anti-judiciary speeches

A blanket ban was ordered on foreign-origin dramas, films and advertisements, particularly from India.

Justice Siddiqui ruled that regulations allowed television channels to telecast just 10 per cent foreign content, subject to the approval of a committee consisting secretaries and representatives of the ministries of interior, information technology, religious affairs and information with the special participation of chairmen Pemra and Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA).

The committee, the order stated, should ensure that the aired content was not in conflict with Islamic injunctions, PEMRA rules, electronic media’s code of conduct and judgments of the superior judiciary.

Any channel, the judgment stated, found to be engaged in airing content deemed to be obscene, indecent and immoral by the regulator would be penalised in accordance with provisions of applicable laws.

Pakistan, Justice Siddiqui stated, is an Islamic Republic and an ideological state with Islam as its state religion.

Since indecency, immorality and obscenity were against the injunctions of Islam and offensive to constitutional guarantees, therefore, all law-enforcement agencies and regulatory bodies were under statutory obligation to ensure that no activity prejudicial to Islam was permitted.

No activity in individual or collective capacity of any citizen could be allowed against the glory of Islam, integrity, security or defence of Pakistan, friendly relations with foreign states, public order, decency or morality, or in relation to contempt of court or “incitement to an offence”.

Holding the state responsible for providing an atmosphere in accordance with Islamic tenets as set out in the Holy Quran and Sunnah, he ruled that the sanctity of Ramazan should not be violated and “it is expected that no channel shall air any programme that may disrupt the spirit of this month”.

The order also ruled out airing of advertisements at least five minutes prior to Iftar shall be aired and instead Darood Sharif and a prayer for the solidarity, prosperity, peace and tranquillity of the country, well-being of all its citizens and call for promoting tolerance, forgiveness, sacrifice and acceptance of prayers.

All channels and Pemra licensees were expected that the sanctity and spirit of Ramazan was not compromised by any host or guest, either through their appearances or any act or spoken words, the judgment stated.

The court told the committee concerned to file a compliance report on the completion of the first 10 days of Ramazan.

Meanwhile, counsel for Pakistan Broadcasters Association (PBA) Barrister Ali Zafar argued that PBA and Pemra had voluntarily agreed to a code of conduct under another Supreme Court verdict and if any channel violated Pemra law or the code of conduct, the regulatory authority could take action against that particular channel in accordance with the law.

He said that if any channel considered that Pemra had taken a wrong action, it could challenge the authority’s order before the high court. However, he said, the court was not a regulator.

“Neither the court has authority to take over Pemra’s role and pass directions on the programming of channels, nor can it (the court) direct which programmes can or cannot be aired,” he said, adding that this is solely Pemra’s role.

Zafar maintained that matters of controlling media and entertainment industry and determining what was obscene or indecent or against Islamic values or against the integrity of Pakistan are all matters of policy and fall within the domain of the executive, which must act in accordance with law, and not the court.

Top court removes Marriyum from PEMRA chairman selection committee

“No generalised standard of what is decent or indecent, obscene or not obscene or against the Islamic values or ideology of Pakistan can be laid down or applied by the court,” he asserted.

He believed that if such petitions were allowed, all forms of bigotry would be deemed to have a moral basis for the law to abolish freedom of speech and expression and freedom of the press, which was enshrined in the Constitution as a fundamental right.

He added that the court had no jurisdiction to generally decide on what was moral or decent and which programmes fall or do not fall into this category.

Moreover, morality and decency are relative and individuals might have different perceptions, so the court could not impose its own sense of morality and indecency on the general public.

“Today, it is the choice of the people to watch or not to watch a particular programme and the court cannot ban any particular kind of show,” he concluded.

During the hearing, Justice Siddiqui remarked that TV hosts indulging in antics not befitting the sanctity of Ramazan risked being banned for life.

These remarks were made by Justice Siddiqui while hearing a code-of-conduct petition challenging morning shows and Ramazan broadcasts.

Justice Siddiqui directed Pemra to serve notices on anchors Amir Liaquat Hussain, Faisal Qureshi, Fahad Mustafa, Sahir Lodhi and Waseem Badami and others on this account. The judge said they could face a lifetime ban if they failed to respect the sanctity of Ramazan.

Justice Siddiqui remarked that fashion models delivered sermons in Ramazan, adding that Pemra should ensure only PhD scholars delivered talks on Islamic issues.

Pakistan ideology and ideological frontiers are violated with impunity, he said.

This decision came in response to petitions filed by advocates Waqas Malik, Haider Malik, Chaudhry Asghar Ali, Hafiz Farmanullah, Syed Iqbal Hashmi, Sajid Mahmood Shah, Sohail Akhtar, and Inamur Rahiem.

Petitioners cited Article 2 of the Constitution, saying that the basic law guaranteed that the state shall enable the people of Pakistan to live their lives in accordance with the teachings of Islam.

They said that public homes were invaded by vulgarity on TV channels and the people were helpless. Foreign content, they contended, was being aired by television channels, affecting national language and culture.

The petitioners requested the court to put a stop to vulgarity and immorality on television channels, particularly during the Ramazan transmissions and morning shows.

https://tribune.com.pk/story/1705980/1-anchors-failing-maintain-ramazan-sanctity-risk-life-ban-ihc/

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Pakistan Releases Commemorative Coin For Late Catholic Nun

May 9, 2018

Pakistan has released a commemorative coin for Ruth Katherina Martha Pfau, a German physician and Catholic nun who dedicated her life to eradicating leprosy.

Known as "Pakistan's Mother Teresa," Sister Pfau died at 87 in August 2017 after spending 57 years in the country. She was accorded a full state funeral, a first for a Christian woman in the Muslim-majority nation.

Born in Leipzig in 1929, she arrived in Karachi in 1960 en route to India and volunteered at a leprosy colony. She was a member of the Society of Daughters of the Heart of Mary.

State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) governor Tariq Bajwa and German ambassador to Pakistan Martin Kobler unveiled the 50-rupee commemorative coin at the bank's headquarters in Karachi.

It was available for public issuance across the country through SBP Banking Service Corporation offices from May 9.

Sister Pfau was an emblem of devotion, commitment and service to Pakistan. Her untiring efforts meant Pakistan became one of the first countries in Asia to bring leprosy under control.

Her contribution to society was acknowledged by the people and state during her lifetime. She was honored with the Hilal-i-Imtiaz, Nishan-e-Quaid-i-Azam and Hilal-i-Pakistan civil awards.

Bajwa said commemorative coins had previously been issued for such great people as Quaid-i-Azam, Allama Muhammad Iqbal, Fatima Jinnah and Abdul Sattar Edhi.

Full report at:

https://www.ucanews.com/news/pakistan-releases-commemorative-coin-for-late-catholic-nun/82251

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Pakistan stands with Iran on nuclear deal issue

SHAFQAT ALI

May 10, 2018

ISLAMABAD - Pakistan Wednesday supported Iran against the United States President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw from the historic nuclear deal .

A foreign ministry statement issued here said ‘arbitrarily rescinding’ such agreements “will undermine confidence in the value of dialogue and diplomacy in the conduct of international relations and the peaceful resolution of disputes.”

Pakistan, the statement said: “believes that the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action represents a very good example of a negotiated settlement of complex issues, through dialogue and diplomacy.”

“We had welcomed the JCPOA when it was concluded and hope that all parties will find a way for its continuation, especially when the International Atomic Energy Agency has repeatedly verified Iran’s compliance,” it said.

On May 8, President Trump walked out of the agreement calling JCPOA a ‘horrible, one-sided deal that should have never, ever been made.’ Trump said he would work to find a ‘real comprehensive and lasting’ deal to tackle not only the Iranian nuclear program but its ballistic missile tests and activities across the Middle East. The US President warned that his country would re-impose economic sanctions that were waived when the deal was signed in 2015.

The sanctions would target industries mentioned in the deal, including Iran’s oil sector, aircraft manufacturers exporting to Iran and Iranian government attempts to buy US dollar banknotes. This is expected to hit major European and US companies. Some exemptions are due to be negotiated.

US National Security Adviser John Bolton said the European companies doing business in Iran will stop their activities within six months or they will have to face US sanctions.

The deal was agreed between Iran and the five permanent members of the UN Security Council - the US, the United Kingdom, France, China and Russia - plus Germany. It was struck by Trump’s predecessor Barack Obama. The other member countries have not yet seconded Trump’s decision.

After Trump’s decision, Iran said it would try to salvage the agreement but would restart uranium enrichment if it failed.

In a statement, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said: “If we achieve the deal's goals in co-operation with other members of the deal, it will remain in place.” Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said he did not trust the UK, France or Germany, and would need guarantees before continuing the nuclear deal .

Under JCPOA, Iran had agreed to limit the size of its stockpile of enriched uranium - used to make reactor fuel and nuclear weapons - for 15 years and the number of centrifuges installed to enrich uranium for 10 years. Tehran also agreed to modify a heavy water facility so that it could not produce plutonium suitable for a bomb. In return, sanctions imposed by the United Nations, the US and the European Union were lifted. These sanctions had crippled Iran’s economy.

The foreign ministry statement said: “We have noted the willingness of the parties to the Agreement to work together on upholding their respective commitments as stipulated in the JCPOA, despite US decision to withdraw from it.”

It added: “Pakistan believes that International Treaties and Agreements concluded through painstaking negotiations are sacrosanct.”

Press attaché at the Iranian embassy Abbas Badrifar said since Trump assumed power in the US, “we have witnessed unusual and abnormal steps by him, which surprised the world.”

Full report at:

https://nation.com.pk/10-May-2018/pakistan-stands-with-iran-on-nuclear-deal-issue

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‘Abducted’ Faisalabad Student Embraces Islam, Marries Muslim Man

BY ABDULLAH ZAFAR

May 10, 2018

FAISALABAD: A woman belonging to the Hindu community, who had allegedly been abducted, last week, has revealed that she had embraced Islam and married a Muslim boy.

The woman, Ayesha (previously Basanti Devi), a student of Zoology at University of Agriculture Faisalabad, had gone missing while on her way back home from the varsity on April 29. It was reported last Friday that her brother, Lal Krishan, had registered a case of abduction against unidentified persons at the Civil Lines police station and said that he could not get through to her even on phone.

With the police starting to search for the missing woman, she was finally recovered from Toba Tek Singh. Following her recovery, the 22-year-old along with her husband was presented before media at a presser held at the Civil Lines police station.

Speaking at the occasion, Ayesha said she had testified before a court that she accepted Islam and later married Zeeshan with her own will. She also demanded from the government to provide her and her in-laws with security, fearing life threats.

Meanwhile, Civil Lines SP while speaking to Pakistan Today said the further course of action on the registered FIR would be determined while considering that the woman is an adult and has her own CNIC card. “She will once again be presented in front of a court and any further action would come in the light of her statement.”

“Ayesha has already appeared before the Bahawalpur bench of the high court and said that she did everything with her own will. She has also told the police that she converted to Islam as well as married Zeeshan without any pressure and approached the court only after she feared her and her in-laws’ life was in danger,” the official added.

It may be noted that the case, which appears to be the first of its kind within the past several years, has surfaced amid the rising numbers of reports pertaining to “enforced conversions” in the country. In June 2017, a 16-year-old Hindu girl, Ravita Meghwar, was allegedly abducted by men in Sindh. Within hours, Ravita had apparently embraced Islam. The woman, now Gulnaz, had then married a Muslim man.

The next day she told media representatives that she had accepted Islam and married the man without any pressure. But Meghwar’s parents had reported the suspects, claimed that their daughter was a minor, and demanded her safe recovery. Countering the claims, Gulnaz’s husband had submitted an application to the Sindh High Court (SHC) seeking protection from her family and relatives. The case was settled on June 23 when SHC allowed the woman to go with her husband.

Full report at:

https://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2018/05/09/abducted-faisalabad-student-embraces-islam-marries-muslim-man/

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US blocks Pakistan’s requests to UN on Khurasani: report

May 10, 2018

ISLAMABAD: The United States is believed to have blocked a Pakistani request with the UN Security Council’s sanctions committee for the listing of Jamaat-ul-Ahrar (JuA) leader Abdul Wali, commonly known as Umer Khalid Khurasani, media reports have said.

Although Pakistan has not been informed of the development yet, the Foreign Office has informally learnt that the process has been halted because of an objection by the United States, a senior diplomatic source revealed.

The US objected to Pakistani request for Khurasani’s listing because of his location that has been mentioned as Afghanistan.

The US move comes amid deteriorating ties with Pakistan since the announcement of the new South Asia and Afghanistan policy by the Trump administration last August.

“The Americans inject politics into the sanctions regime and practice double standards. They are not listing the leader of a terrorist entity who is targeting Pakistan. Merely because he is operating from Afghanistan,” a Pakistani official was quoted as saying.

“Instead of supporting Pakistani request for listing a terrorist, the US raised an objection. The US needs to act fairly to root out terrorism. Such actions by the US undermine the credibility of the UN sanctions list,” he added. Pakistan had made the request almost nine months ago as Khurasani was the leader of JuA that had been listed earlier on Pakistan’s request on July 6, 2017 with its base identified as Lalpura, in Nangarhar province of Afghanistan.

JuA was listed for “participating in the financing, planning, facilitating, preparing, or perpetrating of acts or activities by, in conjunction with, under the name of, on behalf of, or in support of, otherwise supporting acts or activities of and either owned or controlled, directly or indirectly by, or otherwise supporting Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan and Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant”.

JuA is one of the splinter groups of the banned TTP and is believed to be the most lethal terrorist group that has claimed to have carried out several major attacks including a suicide blast at Wagah; the October 2014 twin bombing in Mohmand Agency; the March 2015 attack on Youhanabad Church in Lahore; the March 2015 Easter Sunday attack on a children’s park in Lahore; the March 2016 attack with IED on a vehicle carrying a US Drug Enforcement Administration team at Sangar in Mohmand Agency; the March 2016 bombing attack on Shabqadar (Charsadda) District Court; the bomb attack in Warsak Colony, Peshawar; and a February 2017 attack in Lahore.

Full report at:

https://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2018/05/10/us-blocks-pakistans-requests-to-un-on-khurasani-report/

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Punjab to consider separate funds for JuD seminaries after takeover: report

May 10, 2018

RAWALPINDI: The Punjab government might consider allocating separate funds for the running of the banned Jamaat-ud- Dawa (JuD) seminaries it took over, reported a local media outlet.

The government froze JuD accounts and that of its sister organisation, Falah-i-Insaniyat Foundation (FIF), and will now be solely responsible for running the day to day affairs of the seminaries and the health unit.

The district administration in Rawalpindi took over one seminary and four health units while the Islamabad administration took over three health facilities and seven ambulances. There were no JuD seminaries in Islamabad, according to the publication.

Auqaf Department Regional Administrator Zahid Iqbal told the publication that the Punjab government had asked the department to prepare a report on the expenses of the seminaries which came under the department’s control in February.

He said the Auqaf Department is running the Madressah Hudebia, the expense report of which has been sent to the Punjab government through the deputy commissioner. This includes teacher salaries, student meals and utility bills.

Full report at:

https://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2018/05/10/punjab-to-consider-separate-funds-for-jud-seminaries-after-takeover-report/

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Saudi Ambassador says KSA will continue to cooperate with Pakistan

May 10, 2018

ISLAMABAD: Saudi Ambassador to Pakistan Nawaf Bin Saeed Ahmad Al-Maliki has said Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) will continue cooperate with the elected political government of Pakistan after the general election – 2018.

“Saudi Arabia has close brotherly ties and has always supported Pakistan at the time of trail. KSA and Pakistan relations are characterized by Muslim brotherhood, fraternity, faith and mutual respect. And the relations between both countries are strengthening day by day. KSA has supported Pakistan’s cause at International level he said.

Saudi Ambassador said KSA will continue to its cooperation with elected political government after the general polls 2018. Pakistan is important Muslim populated country and the first Muslim nuclear power as well. The two countries are enjoying brotherly ties for decades, he added.

He went on to say that Saudi Arabia has upheld Pakistan stance in international forums. In the recent 45th OIC council of Foreign Ministers meeting held in Dhaka, His country has supported Pakistan on the issue of violations against the fundamental rights in Indian Occupied Kashmir. Pakistan and Saudi Arabia enjoys closest, cordial diplomatic relations based on bonds of common religion and faith, he added.

Full report at:

https://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2018/05/09/saudi-ambassador-says-ksa-will-continue-to-cooperate-with-pakistan/

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Southeast Asia

 

Islamic Groups Report Indonesian Politician for ‘Blasphemous ‘Poem

May 9, 2018

JAKARTA, April 4 (Reuters) – Hard-line Islamic groups on Wednesday filed a blasphemy complaint against a daughter of Indonesia‘s first president, accusing her of reciting a poem insulting Islam and prompting fresh concerns over intolerance in the world‘s most populous Muslim-majority country.

Sukmawati Sukarnoputri, a politician, is the third daughter of Indonesia‘s founding father Sukarno and the younger sister of Megawati Sukarnoputri, who leads President Joko Widodo‘s ruling party.

Indonesia is a secular country with significant Christian, Hindu, Buddhist and other religious minorities, but a rise of hard-line, politicized Islam and stricter interpretations of the religion have undermined its reputation for tolerance in recent years.

The Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) was among an alliance of hard-line groups that reported Sukmawati, as she is usually known, to police over the poem. The same alliance last year accused Jakarta‘s former Christian governor of blasphemy and spearheaded mass rallies that led to his ouster and jailing, a ruling that many believed was politicized and unjust.

"It‘s clear there is an insult toward the teachings of Islam in the poem," said Eggi Sudjana, a lawyer and an adviser to the alliance.

"We hoped that Ahok‘s case would be the last one, but now there are others who dare to insult Islam again," he said, referring to the ex-Jakarta governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama by his nickname.

Sukmawati apologized for reading the poem, which appeared to favour traditional Indonesian culture and beliefs over conservative Islamic customs like the full veil, in public.

"The poem is a reflection of my concern about the sense of nationalism…and to honor our motherland‘s rich cultural traditions and diversity," a tearful Sukmawati told a news conference in Jakarta on Wednesday.

"I apologize to Islamic people in Indonesia, especially to those who feel offended by the poem," said Sukmawati, whose family remains highly influential in Indonesia.

FPI‘s Novel Bamukmin said the alliance appreciated the apology but would not withdraw its complaint.

"There will be no mercy for those who blaspheme," he said.

Rights activists feared the controversy was a sign that religious tolerance and freedom of expression are being eroded in the world‘s third-largest democracy.

"It‘s creating an atmosphere of fear," said Andreas Harsono of Human Rights Watch. "People never know when someone could report them to the police for blasphemy against Islam."

Suspects can be jailed for up to five years under the blasphemy laws, which have been criticized by rights groups as draconian and vulnerable to abuse.

Sukmawati‘s family issued a statement distancing itself from the issue, saying the poem only reflected the writer‘s personal opinion. A spokesman for President Widodo said the palace "did not want to be associated with the issue".

https://mtlnewsjournal.com/islamic-groups-report-indonesian-politician-for-blasphemous-poem/31223/

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ISIS-Linked Indonesian Jail Riot Ends as Police Raid Cellblock

By Joe Cochrane

May 9, 2018

JAKARTA, Indonesia — A riot and deadly two-day standoff by terrorism detainees in a police detention center near the Indonesian capital ended early Thursday after a police assault on the cellblock led to a mass surrender by those holed up inside, officials said.

Explosions could be heard from the compound as a police counterterrorism unit, known as Detachment 88, fired tear gas and blew out walls in search of bombs made by a group of 155 terrorism suspects and convicted militants. Five guards and one detainee had been killed in the standoff, official said.

Most of the inmates in the section have been linked to the Islamic State, and the terrorist group’s media arm claimed responsibility for the uprising, posting images it said showed guards that the detainees had taken hostage and then killed.

“They all surrendered,” Commissioner General Syafrudin, deputy chief of the Indonesian National Police, told reporters outside the local headquarters of the National Police Mobile Brigade, a paramilitary unit, in Depok, West Java Province, which houses the detention center.

“The blast sounds were part of our efforts to destroy any bombs inside because they had made bombs,” General Syafrudin said. “For the next six hours, we will continue sterilization, and afterward, you journalists can go inside and look around.”

He said the 155 detainees under scrutiny would all be transferred to the maximum-security prison island of Nusakambangan, off the south coast of Java Island, where the convicts considered to be the most dangerous are all sent.

Gen. Mohammad Iqbal, a National Police spokesman, told reporters that the riot erupted late Tuesday at the detention center.

Even as the riot was unfolding, the Islamic State’s propaganda arm uploaded videos and photos that it claimed were from inside the detention center, showing executed hostages and detainees brandishing weapons, raising the black flag of the Islamic State and pledging allegiance to the group’s leader.

But initially, Indonesian officials denied that Islamic State loyalists had been behind the uprising. “The trigger is trivial: complaints about food,” General Iqbal said in the early hours of the standoff on Wednesday.

There was a riot at the same police detention center last November, when terrorist detainees fought with guards during a search for contraband, including cellphones. They took photos and video of themselves brandishing Islamic State flags.

According to the Institute for Policy Analysis of Conflict, a Jakarta-based research organization, the large population of terrorism suspects and convicts in the detention center has long been “a disaster waiting to happen.”

In a report the institute released in February, “we said it was A: overcrowded, and B: there was no effort at all to counsel the newly arrived detainees, and they were almost all pro-ISIS,” Sidney Jones, the institute’s director, said in an interview on Wednesday.

Ms. Jones, a prominent terrorism analyst, said the November 2017 riot was a warning to the authorities, who then began moving the most violent or radicalized convicts on terrorism charges to Nusakambangan.

The biggest attack by pro-ISIS Indonesian militants here came in January 2016, when a four men attacked a police post and shopping center in downtown Jakarta with homemade guns, bombs and suicide vests. The four attackers were killed along with four civilians, and 23 people were injured.

Last week, the police in West Java arrested three men who were accused of planning a suicide bombing on the Police Headquarters where the detention center is.

Full report at:

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/05/09/world/asia/indonesia-isis-hostages.html

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ISIS-Linked Groups in the Philippines Are Not Yet Defeated

May 10, 2018

When U.S. officials gave lawmakers the latest update in the battle against ISIS-linked groups in the Philippines, it appeared to be a sea of good news.

Last year, the local coalition of ISIS-affiliated militants in the southeast Asian nation, dubbed ISIS-P by the U.S. government, stunned counter-terrorism officials when it managed to capture and hold the city of Marawi in the country’s south. But after a bloody battle with U.S.-supported Philippine government forces that lasted nearly half a year, ISIS-P was beaten down. The militants suffered an estimated 900 killed-in-action, including the deaths of two of the most powerful factions’ overall commanders. “According to USPACOM [U.S. Pacific Command], the 5-month siege of Marawi took a significant toll on the force strength of ISIS-P and prevented the insurgents from conducting any major attacks in the immediate aftermath of the heavy fighting, which ended in October 2017,” says the oversight report sent to Congress and published online last week. “USPACOM reported that ISIS-P did not control any territory in the Philippines this quarter [January 1 to March 31], and there were no reports of ISIS-P aligned fighters still present in Marawi. According to USPACOM, the loss of senior ISIS-P leadership severed the functional relationship between ISIS-P and its Middle Eastern affiliates, although ISIS leaders in Syria were attempting to reestablish contact with elements in the southern Philippines.”

As of the end of March, core-ISIS had yet to recognize a new leader for ISIS-P and, aside from deadly skirmishes with the Philippine military, the group is not believed to be near a position to re-create the “success” of the Marawi takeover.

But just because ISIS-P is on its back foot now does not mean the terrorist threat has abated — mostly because Marawi wasn’t necessarily a loss for ISIS, globally speaking, and because killing of those hundreds of militants did not address the root cause of militancy that’s certain to return, as ISIS or not, according to experts and observers.

“Think about it, a small group of militants claiming allegiance to ISIS occupied and held portions of Marawi — a major Philippines city — in the face of a full on government offensive for over five months. With only a little spin and propaganda, this was presented by ISIS-core as a strategic victory and one that could end up helping them regenerate their ranks and bolster the group’s appeal,” Joseph Felter, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for South and Southeast Asia, told the Combating Terrorism Center at West Point in December. “So let’s be clear, the Philippine military ultimately prevailed in a brutal urban fight. Huge credit must go to them for regaining control of the city and degrading ISIS as a coherent and effective organization in the process… My concerns about the group’s capability going forward hinge more on the ISIS brand in the Philippines and the region and the ability of the Philippine government to erode the strength of ISIS’s ideological appeal.”

Jack Murphy, a former soldier in the U.S. Army Special Forces and close observer of the counter-terrorism fight in the Philippines, told RealClearLife it looked like ISIS-P was in “shambles” and that name could even be a “thing of the past” thanks to ISIS-core’s loss of territory in Iraq and Syria, but that almost misses the point. Violent militancy, in the form of an anti-government insurgency, was around long before ISIS in the Philippines and, in some other form, will likely be around long after.

“For these bandits and insurgents, ISIS was the cool new name brand of global jihad so of course they wanted to hitch their wagon, as have other jihadi groups,” Murphy said in an email. “From Afghanistan to the Philippines, there are little terrorist groups re-branding themselves as ISIS in order to attract membership, financing, and even to goad governmental troops into fighting them so that they gain credibility as insurgents. What was called ISIS-P is probably defunct at this point, but the various jihadists who survived along with other disenfranchised young people will most likely remain jihadists, and over the course of the next decade will likely consolidate into whatever the flavor du jour of international jihadis at that time.”

According to Filipino security analyst Rommel Banlaoi, one underappreciated aspect of the problem that transcends ISIS’s current infamy is perhaps the Philippines’s other most controversial issue: the drug trade and President Rodrigo Duterte’s highly criticized, brutal crackdown against it.

Banlaoi, Chairman at the Philippine Institute for Peace, Violence and Terrorism Research, argues in a forthcoming study that the siege of Marawi and the operations of ISIS-P groups elsewhere were closely tied to the drug trade, as alleged by Duterte’s government, and aided by criminal groups with little interest in jihad.

“The [s]iege occurred not only because of the collective actions of most of the ISIS followers in the Philippines, but also because of the collective support of various criminal syndicates engaged in drug trafficking, human smuggling, money laundering, and trafficking of small arms and light weapons…” Banlaoi writes in the study, which he provided to RealClearLife. “Transnational organized [crime] provided the resilient support network of ISIS followers in the Philippines to mount the Marawi siege.” (Banlaoi’s report identifies no less than 23 separate militant groups in the Philippines who purportedly have pledged allegiance or support to ISIS in some manner.)

For the Philippines to be victorious against the Islamic terrorist threat, the government must reconcile and coordinate the two separate battles they’re currently fighting on different fronts, Banlaoi says. “In the aftermath of the Marawi City siege, there is a strong realization that waging the war on drugs and the war on terrorism should go in tandem,” he writes.

In his interview in December, Felter, the State Department official, didn’t mention drugs specifically, but agreed that the battle against Islamic militancy cannot succeed without addressing the trouble spots where enduring local issues mix with opportunistic international Islamic extremism.

“[T]he factors responsible for ISIS’s attack and occupation of Marawi are local, not international in origin. [Chinese leader] Mao [Zedong’s] famous dictum that insurgents are the fish and the population is the sea in which they swim applies in this case. Disenfranchised Filipino Muslims who are dissatisfied with their government’s ability or willingness to address their needs are more inclined to provide tacit, and sometimes direct, support to anti-government activities,” he said. “Going forward, it will be important to maintain pressure on ISIS and other extremists. However, the real challenge for the Philippine government will be addressing the conditions that drove many of these militants to violence and will drive the next generation to similar ends. This must complement [military] efforts if any enduring solutions are to be achieved.”

Meanwhile, the clock is ticking. In the oversight report, U.S. officials said, “USPACOM cautioned that it must be assumed that the surviving militants loyal to ISIS-P have retained the additional skills and capabilities demonstrated in the Marawi campaign.”

Back in January Col. Romeo Brawner, the deputy commander of Joint Task Force Marawi, told Reuters he and his men were waiting for the next wave of violence.

Full report at:

http://www.realclearlife.com/military/philippines-isis-linked-groups-marawi-defeat/

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China to continue cooperation With Iran after US withdrawal from nuclear deal

May 09, 2018

BEIJING: Regretting the US announcement of terminating its agreement on the Iranian nuclear issue, a Chinese foreign ministry’s spokesperson Wednesday said China would continue to conduct normal and transparent pragmatic cooperation with Iran without violating its own international obligations.

“China regrets the decision made by the United States. The comprehensive agreement on the Iranian nuclear issue was a multilateral agreement negotiated by the six nations, the European Union and Iran,” Geng Shuang said during his regular press briefing held here.

He said the agreement between all parties was approved by the Security Council Resolution No. 2231, adding, all parties should seriously implement it and maintain the integrity and seriousness of the comprehensive agreement.

The spokesperson said this was conducive to maintaining the international nuclear non-proliferation regime, promoting peace and stability in the Middle East, and demonstrating significance for solving hot issues through political means.

“Under the current situation, China urges all parties to proceed in the long-term and overall situation in a responsible manner, persist in the direction of political diplomacy, properly manage their differences, and return as soon as possible to the correct track of continuing to implement the comprehensive agreement,” he added.

Geng Shuang said the Chinese side would maintain an objective, fair and responsible attitude, maintain dialogues and consultations with all parties, and continue to work to maintain and implement the comprehensive agreement.

When asked will China continue from buying oil and other goods from Iran after the withdrawal of the US from the Iranian nuclear deal , he said China and Iran had always maintained normal economic and trade exchanges.

“China will continue to conduct normal and transparent pragmatic cooperation with Iran without violating its own international obligations,” he added.

To another question, he reiterated that China and Iran had maintained normal economic and trade exchanges and added, China would continue to conduct normal and transparent pragmatic cooperation with Iran without violating its own international obligations.

At the same time, he emphasized, “Chinese government opposes any country’s implementation of unilateral sanctions against other countries and the so-called “long arm jurisdiction” under its domestic law. This position is consistent and clear.”

While commenting on the statement of Iranian President Rohani that he would discuss with relevant signatories of the Iranian nuclear comprehensive agreement, including Britain, France, Germany, Russia, the European Union and China, he said, “We have taken note of the positive statements made by Iran, the EU and Russia.”

Full report at:

https://nation.com.pk/09-May-2018/china-to-continue-cooperation-with-iran-after-us-withdrawal-from-nuclear-deal

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Arab World

 

ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi travels in east Syria with tight-knit group

9 May 2018

ISIS group leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is hiding in eastern Syria and moves around with only a small group of followers, including one of his sons, an Iraqi intelligence official said Wednesday.

ISIS retains territory in the desert plains along the Iraqi frontier despite losing the vast bulk of its cross-border “caliphate” to various military offensives.

The senior Iraqi official said Baghdadi was in the Hajin, Shaddadi, Suwar and Markadah areas and “travels accompanied by four or five people, including his son and son-in-law”.

“His movements are discreet and he never travels in a convoy,” the official said on condition of anonymity.

Originally from Iraq, Baghdadi has been dubbed the “most wanted man on the planet” and the United States is offering a $25 million reward for his capture.

The intelligence official said the noose was closing around the militant leader after Iraqi forces captured five top IS commanders in an unprecedented raid into war-torn Syria on March 24.

“Officers from Iraqi intelligence entered Syrian territory and gained access to the zones controlled by IS,” he said.

The five men had featured in IS execution videos filmed while the group ruled over vast swathes of Iraq, the official said.

One of those detained, former Syrian anti-government fighter Saddam al-Jamal, allegedly confessed to Iraqi forces that he had supplied IS with arms stolen from the Syrian army.

The official said 39 ISIS fighters had been killed in cross-border air raids by Iraqi forces in Syria over the past few weeks and that the group had seen a “sharp decrease” in numbers.

Iraq’s interior ministry said in February that Baghdadi was being treated at a field hospital for wounds sustained in an earlier air strike.

In mid-2017, Russia said it had probably killed Baghdadi in a late May air raid near Raqa in Syria, but later said it was still trying to verify his fate.

In September, an American military chief said the jihadist chief was still alive and probably hiding in eastern Syria’s Euphrates Valley.

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2018/05/09/ISIS-leader-Abu-Bakr-al-Baghdadi-travels-in-east-Syria-with-tight-knit-group.html

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Trump’s envoy praises Muslim League leader’s declaration on Holocaust

9 May 2018

Jason Greenblatt, US president’s Mideast peace envoy, met with Mohammad Al-Issa, Secretary General of the Saudi-based Muslim World League, to discuss current dynamics in the Middle East. "Greenblatt joined Dr. Al Issa "in declaring the importance of speaking out against and condemning those who deny the Holocaust or distort its historical record," a White House spokesperson said.

A statement added that they they also reaffirmed the principles that Dr. Al Issa previously described in his January 2018 letter to the US Holocaust Memorial Museum. Specifically, they reaffirmed Secretary General Dr. Al Issa’s statement: “the Holocaust, an incident that shook humanity to the core, and created an event whose horrors could not be denied or underrated by any fair-minded or peace-loving person.”

They also reaffirmed Dr. Al Issa’s statement that “One would ask who in his right mind would accept, sympathize, or even diminish the extent of this brutal crime.”

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/gulf/2018/05/09/Trump-s-envoy-praises-Muslim-League-leader-s-declaration-on-Holocaust.html

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Five Top ISIS Officials Captured in U.S.-Iraqi Sting

By Margaret Coker

May 9, 2018

BAGHDAD — Five senior Islamic State officials have been captured, including a top aide to the group’s leader, in a complex cross-border sting carried out by Iraqi and American intelligence, two Iraqi officials said Wednesday.

The three-month operation, which tracked a group of senior Islamic State leaders who had been hiding in Syria and Turkey, represents a significant intelligence victory for the American-led coalition fighting the extremist group and underscores the strengthening relationship between Washington and Baghdad.

Two Iraqi intelligence officials said those captured included four Iraqis and one Syrian whose responsibilities included governing the Islamic State’s territory around Deir al-Zour, Syria, directing internal security and running the administrative body that oversees religious rulings.

Iraq’s external intelligence agency published a statement confirming the arrests, but did not mention any details of the role played by the Americans or the Turks. The two Iraqi intelligence officials spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss details that had not been made public.

Turkey did not immediately comment on the operation. The White House and the C.I.A. declined to comment.

The developments quickly took over many Iraqi news broadcasts on Wednesday night, with news anchors praising Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi for what the intelligence service called a “major victory.” The news came at an opportune time for Mr. Abadi, who faces a tight parliamentary race on Saturday.

The two Iraqi officials said that they had been tracking several of their targets for months, but the breakthrough came at the start of the year.

An Iraqi intelligence unit responsible for undercover missions had tracked an Iraqi man, Ismail Alwaan al-Ithawi, known by the nom de guerre Abu Zeid al-Iraqi, from Syria to the Turkish city of Sakarya, about 100 miles east of Istanbul, these officials said.

Mr. Ithawi, described by the Iraqis as a top aide to the Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al- Baghdadi, had been in charge of fatwas, or religious rulings, in the Islamic State’s so-called caliphate. He was also in charge of the education curriculum, and was a member of the body that appointed security and administrative leaders for the Islamic State’s territory, which had included large parts of Iraq and Syria.

He had been living in Turkey with his Syrian wife under his brother’s identity, one of these officials said.

The Iraqis sent the Turks an intelligence file they had amassed on Mr. Ithawi, and the Turkish security forces arrested him on Feb. 15, and extradited him to Iraq, this official said.

Iraqi and American intelligence officials then spent weeks interrogating him, learning the details and whereabouts of other ISIS leaders in hiding, the officials said.

The American-led coalition used this information to launch an airstrike in mid-April that killed 39 suspected Islamic State members near Hajin, in the Deir al-Zour district of Syria, the second official said.

The joint Iraqi-American intelligence team then set a trap, according to these officials. They persuaded Mr. Ithawi to contact several of his Islamic State colleagues who had been hiding in Syria and lure them across the border, the officials said.

The Iraqi authorities were waiting, and arrested the group soon after they crossed the frontier, the officials said.

Those arrested included Saddam al-Jammel, a Syrian who had been the head of the Islamic State territory around Deir al-Zour, and Abu Abdel al-Haq, an Iraqi who had been the head of internal security for the group. Two other Iraqis were also arrested, the officials said.

Iraq’s state television broadcast images of four of the detainees. Wearing yellow prisoner jumpsuits, the men, some with long beards and some clean-shaven, explained in short statements their responsibilities in the Islamic State. Each appeared to be in good health.

It was unclear where they were being held or whether they had been given access to a lawyer.

Turkey made no public comment on the arrests, but frequently announces arrests of Islamic State suspects in Turkish cities. Last week, Turkish news media reported the capture of three people in Sakarya who were accused of being members of the Islamic State. The reports said one of the three was the group’s leader in Deir al-Zour.

It is not known if those arrests were related to the arrest of Mr. Ithawi.

Relations have been strained between Turkey and the United States recently, in particular over American support for the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces.

Full report at:

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/05/09/world/middleeast/iraq-isis-islamic-state-arrest.html

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Iraq readies for first election since end of IS war

May 10, 2018

Iraq is gearing up for key parliamentary elections on Saturday, some five months after declaring victory over the Islamic State group, with the dominant Shiites split, the Kurds in disarray and Sunnis sidelined.

A lull in violence ahead of the fourth such nationwide vote since Saddam Hussein was toppled in 2003 has spurred some hope for Iraqis, but surging tensions between key players Iran and the United States could rattle the country.

Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi -- who has balanced off Washington and Tehran -- is angling for a new term as he takes credit for the brutal fightback against the jihadists and seeing off a Kurdish push for independence.

But stiff competition from within his Shiite community, the majority group that dominates Iraqi politics, should fragment the vote and spell lengthy horse-trading to form any government.

Whoever emerges as premier will face the mammoth task of rebuilding a country left shattered by the battle against IS.

Despite a rare period of calm, more than two and a half million people remain internally displaced and the jihadists still pose a major security threat.

Over 15 blood-sodden years since the US-led invasion upended Iraqi politics there is also widespread disillusionment with the same old faces from an elite seen as mired in corruption and sectarianism.

Shiite rivals

Abadi -- who took over as IS rampaged across the country in 2014 -- is facing two leading Shiite challengers to his Victory Alliance, which has pitched itself as an attempt to bridge Iraq's Shiite-Sunni divide.

Ex-prime minister Nuri al-Maliki -- a bitter foe despite coming from the same Dawa party -- is widely reviled for stirring sectarianism and losing territory to IS, but draws support from a hardline base.

Former transport minister Hadi al-Ameri -- who has close ties to Iran's Revolutionary Guards -- is hailed by many as a war hero after leading paramilitary units that fought IS alongside Baghdad's troops.

He wants US forces that helped battle the jihadists to leave Iraq for good, challenging Abadi's cautious foreign policy that has seen him build bridges with Iran's rival Saudi Arabia.

Overall just under 7,000 candidates are standing and Iraq's complex system means no single bloc looks set to get anything near a majority in the 329-seat parliament.

"There is certainly a contest between the three main lists for the post of prime minister, but that will not impact the system that sees the Shiites control and run Iraq," said Jordan-based analyst Adel Mahmud.

Among the other groups jostling for position in the negotiations to come is an unlikely alliance between Shiite cleric Moqtada Sadr and secular communists that is looking to ride a wave of protests against corruption.

Sunnis, Kurds struggling

Votes in the Sunni heartlands once dominated by IS -- including Iraq's devastated second city Mosul -- are up in the air as traditional alliances have been shredded by the fallout of jihadist rule.

Abadi is aiming to be the first Shiite leader to make inroads there but apathy is high as people struggle to rebuild their lives and few efforts have been made to reach out to the hundreds of thousands still displaced in camps.

Political forces in the Kurdish community -- often seen as potential kingmakers -- are also in disarray after a controversial vote for independence in September backfired spectacularly.

Baghdad unleashed a battery of sanctions and seized back disputed oil-rich regions in the wake of the ballot and the Kurds now look set to lose some of their clout on the national stage.

In a sign of the disenchantment with Iraq's squabbling elite, the country's top Shiite cleric Ayatollah Ali Sistani has broken with previous habits and not urged people to cast ballots.

Instead he demanded that Iraq's nearly 24.5 million registered voters refuse to re-elect legislators who have already held government jobs and proved to be "corrupt and failing"

The swirling uncertainty around the elections has sparked concern that IS -- which has threatened to attack the vote -- could profit from any power vacuum.

There are also fears that a spike in tensions between the US and Iran after President Donald Trump withdrew from the nuclear deal could spill over into Iraq, where both play major roles.

But while the situation remains combustible, analysts say that for now no side appears keen on destabilising Iraq as it emerges from the turmoil of the war against the jihadists.

The US withdrawal from the Iran nuclear agreement "will of course have a direct influence on the political situation in Iraq," said Iraqi political expert Essam al-Fili.

Full report at:

https://nation.com.pk/10-May-2018/iraq-readies-for-first-election-since-end-of-is-war

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Saudi air defences intercept two missiles over Riyadh

May 10, 2018

RIYADH : Saudi Arabia’s air defences intercepted two ballistic missiles over the capital Riyadh on Wednesday, state television said, the latest in a series of attacks claimed by rebels in neighbouring Yemen.

Two explosions were heard in the city, according to an AFP photographer. A spokesman for the coalition said Saudi air defences hours earlier had also intercepted a ballistic missile originating from Yemen and targeting Saudi’s Jizan.

Yemen’s Huthi rebels quickly claimed responsibility for attacking “Riyadh Dry Port and other economic targets” in the Saudi capital with Burkan 2H ballistic missiles. The rebels also claimed the Jizan attack, via their Al-Masirah TV. Riyadh has long accused its regional rival Tehran of supplying the Huthis with ballistic missiles.

S Arabia launched a military coalition in Yemen in 2015, aimed at rolling back the Huthis and restoring the internationally recognised government to power.

The Huthis have in recent months intensified missile attacks against Saudi Arabia.

Full report at:

https://nation.com.pk/10-May-2018/saudi-air-defences-intercept-two-missiles-over-riyadh

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Kurdish Militias Planning to Set up New Military Base in Northeastern Syria

May 09, 2018

The Kurds gave three days to civilians in Shalihat Ayed region in al-Tabaqa city in Western Raqqa to leave their residential units.

Local sources said that the Kurdish militias' move was aimed at setting up a military base for the American and French forces in a region which enjoys good geographical situation for such activity.

A media outlet reported earlier this month that the US and France dispatched new military convoys to the town of Manbij, North-East of Aleppo province as tensions go high in the region.

Orient news website reported that the American and French forces deployed near Sajour River Northwest of the town of Manbij in Northeastern Aleppo.

Also, other sources reported that the Kurdish militias were put on alert in the town of Manbij and started to set up more checkpoints in and outside the town.

Full report at:

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13970219000891

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Main Syrian opposition backs Trump’s Iran move, calls it real opportunity

10 May 2018

Syrian opposition leaders on a visit to London on Wednesday welcomed President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw the United States from the Iran nuclear deal.

Nasr al-Hariri, head of the mainstream Syrian Negotiation Commission, called the move “a step in the right direction” and provided “a real opportunity” to resolve regional issues involving Iran.

“There is no place in the world that feels very clearly the malignant influence of Iran as much as in Syria,” he told reporters following a meeting with British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson.

“This is a step in the right direction. But on its own it’s not enough to limit the influence of Iran in the area,” Hariri said. Earlier, Johnson told lawmakers that Britain regretted the American decision and urged the US not to undermine the Iran nuclear deal, which he said Britain would continue to honor.

Future plans

He also called for Washington to “spell out” its future plans over Iran. Hariri said the US now needed to prioritize countering Iranian actions in Syria.

“There is no way to solve the Iran problems without focusing on the Syria file,” he added. “Iran had intervened very early on Syria, and we have reached a stage by which there is to a great extent an occupation by an external power.”

However, Hariri warned against letting his country become even more of a battlefield for outside powers. “This response needs to be part of a broad and strategic effort that protects civilians and resolves the conflict, as opposed to piecemeal actions,” he said.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2018/05/10/Main-Syrian-opposition-backs-Trump-s-Iran-move.html

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Syrian government forces carry on with anti-terror operations

May 9, 2018

Syrian government forces have launched several intensive strikes on terrorist-held positions located to the south of the capital Damascus.

Syria's official SANA news agency reported on Wednesday that the Syrian air force backed by army artillery fire launched a series of attacks in the northern part of al-Hajar al-Aswad region.

The precision strikes are aimed at isolating the terrorists by cutting off their supply routes and ridding the region of their presence.

The report added that Syrian government sniper units and demolition experts are also currently engaged in purging terrorist-held tunnels and structures in the area.      

Earlier in the day, four people were killed and 24 other wounded mortar fire launched by terrorists holed up in al-Hajar al-Aswad.

Since February, the Syrian army, backed by Russia, has been engaged in a major push to rid Damascus and the surrounding areas of terrorist groups.

In a significant victory early last month, the Syrian army managed to fully liberate Eastern Ghouta, which had long been controlled by militant groups and served as a launch pad for deadly rocket attacks against residents and civilian infrastructure in the capital.

Full report at:

http://www.presstv.com/Detail/2018/05/09/561184/syria-airstrike-damacus-terrorist

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Europe

 

Cardiff University receives £850k gift for study of Islam

May 10, 2018

A philanthropist has donated £850,000 to a university in a bid to help promote a better understanding of Islam in society.

Yousef Abdul Latif Jameel is supporting MA and PhD scholarships at Cardiff University's Centre for the Study of Islam

Prof Sophie Gilliat-Ray, the centre's director, said the funding would make a "positive difference to the lives of British Muslims".

Mr Jameel has donated £2.5m since 2009.

The centre, part of the University's School of History, Archaeology and Religion, was set up in 2005 and has become a leading academic institution for research and teaching about Islam and Muslims in Britain.

Mr Jameel's gift will provide nine MA scholarships, three PhD scholarships and two postdoctoral positions - one of which will be a specialist in religion/Islam in the media, and in particular, the involvement of Muslims in journalism.

As part of their studies, the students will also be asked to volunteer with the local Muslim community to foster a strong sense of social responsibility.

Mr Jameel, an international business leader and philanthropist, said his scholarships would allow students to research the major issues affecting Muslims in Britain in the 21st century, "helping to promote a better understanding of Islam in the wider society".

Prof Gilliat-Ray, the centre's director, added: "Mr Jameel values the fact that our research is directed towards improving knowledge of Islam and Muslim communities in Britain."

Previous work of students who won a Jameel scholarship has included exploring the economic activity of Muslim women and Muslim music in Britain.

Matthew Vince, who volunteered as a teaching assistant at a local Muslim primary school while studying for his PhD, said: "I thoroughly enjoyed my time at school, and the chance to give back was immensely important to me both academically and personally."

http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-wales-south-east-wales-44058839

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EU pledges commitment to Iran nuclear deal, regrets Trump decision

May 9, 2018

The European Union (EU)'s foreign policy chief has reiterated its support for the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, saying it "regrets" US President Donald Trump's decision on Tuesday to withdraw his country from the agreement.

"The JCPOA, unanimously endorsed by UN Security Council Resolution 2231, is a key element of the global nuclear non-proliferation architecture and is crucial for the security of the region," Federica Mogherini said in a statement on Wednesday, using an acronym for the deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.

"As long as Iran continues to implement its nuclear related commitments, as it has been doing so far and has been confirmed by the International Atomic Energy Agency in 10 consecutive reports, the EU will remain committed to the continued full and effective implementation of the nuclear deal," the statement added.

The JCPOA came out of years of negotiations between Iran on one side and six world powers, namely the US, Russia, China, Germany, France and Britain, on the other, in July 2015.

After criticizing the agreement for months, Trump on Tuesday officially declared that his country is pulling out of the JCPOA, saying Washington will not only reinstate the anti-Iran sanctions that were lifted as part of the deal, but will also “be instituting the highest level of economic” bans against the Islamic Republic.

Mogherini said the EU did not support Trump's decision to reinstate the bans and would work instead to make sure Iranian and European businesses can enjoy the freedoms provided under the JCPOA.

"The lifting of nuclear related sanctions is an essential part of the agreement. The EU has repeatedly stressed that the sanctions lifting has a positive impact on trade and economic relations with Iran. The EU stresses its commitment to ensuring that this can continue to be delivered," she added.

Hailing the deal as "the culmination of 12 years of diplomacy," Mogherini said the accord was working and the EU was determined to preserve it.

Trump made the decision despite numerous reports by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) that confirm Iran's compliance to the landmark agreement.

Putin 'concerned' by Trump's decision

Russian President Vladimir Putin expressed "deep concern" over the move, his spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Wednesday.

Shortly after Trump's announcement, the Russian Foreign Ministry lamented the move “to unilaterally refuse to carry out commitments under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action,” adding Washington’s actions were “trampling on the norms of international law.”

Macron asks Iran to stay in JCPOA

Speaking to his Iranian counterpart Hassan Rouhani, French President Emmanuel Macron said Paris would stay committed to the deal because it was needed to preserve stability in the Middle East.

"The French president emphasized the willingness of France to continue enforcing the Iran nuclear agreement in all respects," the Elysee said in a statement after the call. "He underlined the importance that Iran do the same."

During the phone call, Rouhani told the French head of state that he expected Europe to act swiftly and fulfill its obligations under the JCPOA.

“In the current situation, Europe has a very limited time to save the JCPOA and must determine and announce its clear, firm stances on its obligations in the deal,” he said.

“The Islamic Republic of Iran is fully committed to its obligations in the JCPOA and will pursue its interests as it has done so far, but unfortunately, the other side has not demonstrated a satisfactory performance,” the Iranian president added.

Rouhani said Iran has never felt the need to develop nuclear weapons through its peaceful nuclear program, which he said was “a scientific and technical attempt to promote national pride and meeting the needs of the Iranian nation.”

Germany to keep JCPOA 'alive'

Germany also sided against the Trump administration, with German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas saying that the deal was necessary for world security.

“We will try to keep alive this important agreement, which ensures the Middle East and the world as a whole are safer,” he told broadcaster ARD.

Trump's decision 'rash, unthinking': Iraq

Trump's move prompted criticism from Baghdad as well, with the Iraqi Foreign Ministry expressing concern over the security implications of the region.

"The Iraqi Foreign Ministry is sorry about the rash and unthinking decision taken by the US president," said ministry spokesman Ahmad Mahjoub.

Full report at:

http://www.presstv.com/Detail/2018/05/09/561167/EU-Iran-deal-Mogherini-Trump-US-Macron

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Germany Deports Suspected Islamic Extremist to Tunisia

May 9, 2018

BERLIN (AP) — GERMAN authorities have deported a suspected Islamic State member to Tunisia, days after Germany's highest court rejected his appeal.

Hesse state Interior Minister Peter Beuth says the 37-year-old Tunisian, identified as Haikel S., was handed over to authorities in his homeland Wednesday.

Beuth said he hoped the deportation would set a precedent and allow Germany to speed up such procedures in future.

The man was arrested in 2017 on suspicion of being a recruiter and smuggler for IS and of planning an attack. Tunisia accused him of involvement in the 2015 attack on a Tunis museum and a 2016 attack on the border town of Ben Guerdane.

Germany is also trying to deport a 42-year-old Tunisian alleged to have once been a bodyguard for al-Qaida chief Osama bin Laden.

Full report at:

https://www.usnews.com/news/world/articles/2018-05-09/germany-deports-suspected-islamic-extremist-to-tunisia

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Web of obscure British firms try to tarnish UAE’s terrorism fight

May 9, 2018

A Dh200 million pledge by the UAE to help Interpol fight terrorism is the latest target in the campaign orchestrated by a British group with close links to the Muslim Brotherhood.

The donation last year to the Interpol Foundation for a Safer World was hailed by the secretary general Jurgen Stock as a significant boost to tackling security challenges posed by terrorism, and organised and cyber crime.

The Arab Organisation for Human Rights in UK is to hold a panel discussion today at University College London, to debate whether Interpol is in danger of being manipulated for “political purposes” after the donation.

AOHR UK, a limited company, conducts political activities despite operating on apparently meagre resources, its Companies House accounts show.

The group is run by a single director, Mohammed Jamil, 46, who runs at least three inter-linked UK firms. Two other companies, AOHR in Europe and AOHR in Britain and Europe, share similar names, mission statements, company addresses and an accountant.

AOHR UK has organised at least 12 anti-UAE conferences since June last year, including a March panel at the university, which was live-streamed on Al Jazeera’s Arabic website.

It has also organised talks about a UN Human Rights Council meeting in Geneva and events in the UK Parliament, including a forum hosted by Labour MP Andy Slaughter, secretary of the Britain-Palestine All-Party Parliamentary Group.

A panel of top-flight barristers has been assembled to discuss the UAE’s donation. A Queen’s Counsel listed to attend, Toby Cadman, a prominent international rights lawyer, has featured in at least five of the AOHR discussions in Geneva and London.

Mr Cadman told The National that he was not involved with AOHR’s business activities. He refused to answer questions about whether he receives appearance fees or travel and other expenses.

Mr Cadman said that as a barrister he did not discuss the details or scope of his legal instructions, whether acting pro bono or not.

“I am not now, nor have I ever been, a member of the AOHR UK and therefore I am not in a position to answer questions on Mr Jamil’s behalf,” he said. “I will take issue should your article suggest that I am.”

AOHR is also behind a complaint to the International Criminal Court about the UAE, which was lodged by lawyer Joseph Breham in Paris.

Mr Breham said client-attorney privilege prevented him from discussing who, if anyone, was paying his legal fees or whether he was working on the case pro bono. The ICC complaint concerns the UAE’s presence in Yemen.

AOHR picked up the tab for British politicians to visit Qatar in September last year after the boycott by the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Bahrain over Doha’s support for terrorism.

Lord Nazir Ahmed, Lord John Kilclooney and Lord Qurban Hussain said AOHR paid for travel and accommodation.

Grahame Morris, an MP who was also part of the trip, estimated his costs for the visit at £1,321 (Dh7,000). The House of Lords members registered their trips with the Register of Members’ Financial Interests without specifying costs.

An investigation by The National has found the AOHR UK financial accounts filed in February this year show the company was £265 in the red for the year ended April 2017.

As a designated micro-entity, it does not disclose annual revenues but AOHR UK has shown a loss every year since it was incorporated in 2013.

AOHR UK’s website says it was “established to promote human rights culture in the world and to advocate human rights in general and the rights of the Arab citizens in particular”.

Mr Jamil didn’t respond to two emailed requests for comment send to AOHR’s London office. The door to his former London office block is padlocked.

Mr Jamil and his east London accountant, Ibrahim Sayam, 66, both have ties to men accused of links to the Muslim Brotherhood.

Companies House records show that Mr Sayam’s accounting firm also worked for the Cordoba Foundation in 2010, which describes its mandate as “bridging the gap of understanding between the Muslim World and the West”.

Former British prime minister David Cameron called the Cordoba Foundation a “front for the Muslim Brotherhood” in 2008, and the UAE listed it as a terrorist group in 2014.

Mr Sayam has, at various times, acted as a company director, accountant, and offered his company headquarters as the mailing address for AOHR entities since 2011. He refused to answer specific queries about the company.

“I’m an accountant. I don’t know where they get their money,” Mr Sayam said in an interview with The National. “That’s not my job.”

Mr Sayam also denied having been a director of any of the AOHR companies, although his name, address and signature are on the incorporation documents for AOHR in Europe and he is listed as the director in 2011 and again between August 2012 and April 2015, Companies House records show.

His address is also the mailing address for AOHR UK and AOHR in Britain and Europe, the latter registered in October last year. AOHR in Britain and Europe has not yet filed financial information.

AOHR in Europe is the oldest of the web of companies, registered in 2011. It showed a £280 loss when Mr Sayam prepared the AOHR in Europe accounts for the year ended April 30, 2012.

In its best year, AOHR in Europe had £53,046 cash in the bank in April 2015 but that dropped to £24,000 in 2016. The company had total net assets of £839 at the end of April last year.

Over the years, AOHR in Europe has been run by a director alternately using the names Mohammad Jamil, Mohammed Jameel and Mohammad Jamil Al Hirch.

The AOHR in Europe financial accounts for the year ending April 30, 2017 were filed by Mohamed Al Hirsch, director, but that name was changed to Mohammad Jamil in July last year.

Despite the different spellings and names, the AOHR in Europe director shares the same birth date, mailing address and accountant as Mr Jamil, the AOHR UK director.

The Cordoba Foundation is run by director Anas Al Tikriti, 49, who did not respond to a request for comment. Mr Al Tikriti has previously denied links between the foundation and the Brotherhood.

The complex web of connections is typical of the nexus of activists and campaigns that promote Muslim Brotherhood causes in Britain, says Emma Webb, a research fellow at the Henry Jackson Society.

“The UK’s Islamist scene is now an interconnected fluid alliance of movements sharing similar aims,” Ms Webb said.

“They have built an ecosystem of organisations, media and literature outlets, lobby groups, educational institutions, charities and companies, hosting everything from conferences to recreational activities.

“The Muslim Brotherhood spearheaded this approach, entering people’s lives and politics through every available route. By creating such a vast network, they are more than the sum of their parts and inflate their ability to influence.”

AOHR has also been a supporter of extremist cleric Raed Salah, leader of the Islamic Movement Northern Branch, an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood that seeks to build an Islamic society, according to the Brookings Institution.

“The northern branch, led by Raed Salah, is said to have links with Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood,” the European Council for Foreign Relations says.

Mr Jamil was photographed with the cleric during Mr Salah’s 2012 deportation proceedings in the UK. In August 2017, AOHR sent urgent messages to the UN asking officials to provide Mr Salah with special protection in Israel, where he is now in prison.

Mr Salah was jailed in Israel from 2003-2005 on charges that he funnelled money to Hamas, which Israel considers a terrorist organisation. He has been in custody in Israel since August for incitement to violence and racism, according to news reports.

The question posed by AOHR UK about Interpol is unlikely to find a sympathetic audience at the agency’s headquarters in Lyon.

Full report at:

https://www.thenational.ae/world/europe/web-of-obscure-british-firms-try-to-tarnish-uae-s-terrorism-fight-1.728900

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France's Macron says Trump made a mistake by leaving JCPOA

May 9, 2018

French President Emmanuel Macron has said that the US decision to leave the Iran nuclear agreement, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), was a "mistake."

Macron made the remarks on Wednesday during an interview with Germany's Deutsche Welle broadcaster.

He added that Europe needed to reaffirm its commitments to the JCPOA in an attempt to preserve regional stability.

"What's most important is to maintain stability and peace in the Middle East," he added.

"We stand today at a historic moment for Europe — Europe is in charge of guaranteeing the multilateral order that we created at the end of World War II and which today is sometimes being shaken," he added.

Macron's remarks came one day after US President Donald Trump declared that his country is pulling out of the JCPOA, saying Washington will not only reinstate the anti-Iran sanctions lifted as part of the deal, but will also “be instituting the highest level of economic” bans against the Islamic Republic.

The JCPOA came out of years of negotiations between Iran on one side and six world powers, namely the US, Russia, China, Germany, France and Britain, on the other, in July 2015.

Full report at:

http://www.presstv.com/Detail/2018/05/09/561189/france-iran-trump-jcpoa-macron

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Germany vows to protect EU firms against Iran bans

May 9, 2018

Germany says it will try to protect European companies from any adverse effects from US President Donald Trump's decision to quit the 2015 Iran nuclear agreement.

The announcement was made by German Finance Minister Olaf Scholz who said some time would be needed to study the actual impacts of Trump’s decision.

"We'll try to do everything in our means so that European companies will be affected as little as possible," he said at a news conference as reported by Reuters.

Trump on Tuesday signed a presidential memorandum to re-impose what he described as the “highest level of sanctions” against Iran.

He also emphasized that the US would punish other countries that violate the regime of sanctions against Iran.

The memorandum specifies that many of the sanctions should be re-imposed in 90 days — by August 6, 2018. The most important ones – as reported by media – would be a ban on Iran over buying or acquiring US dollars.

Another set of sanctions will once again be clamped down on Iran within the next 180 days. The most important sanctions would be those concerning Iran’s oil sales and energy sector investment as well as transactions with the Central Bank of Iran (CBI).

The biggest investment by a European company in Iran’s energy sector has been made by Total over the development of a major gas field in which it would invest several billion dollars.

On Wednesday, Iran’s media quoted an oil official as saying that Total had not announced any change in its plans for the development of South Pars Phase 11 following Trump’s decision.

Another European business that could suffer as a result of sanctions against Iran could be the French aviation giant Airbus.

Full report at:

http://www.presstv.com/Detail/2018/05/09/561165/Germany-vows-to-protect-EU-firms-against-Iran-bans-

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Sunday Telegraph pays damages to mosque chief over Corbyn article

9 May 2018

The Sunday Telegraph has paid “substantial damages” to the general secretary of Finsbury Park mosque after it falsely portrayed him as a supporter of violent lslamist extremism as part of a botched attempt to criticise the Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn.

In March 2016 the newspaper published an article headlined: “Corbyn and the mosque leader who blames the UK for Isil.” The story tried to connect the Labour leader to extremist views allegedly held by Mohammed Kozbar, who runs the mosque in Corbyn’s Islington North constituency and is also vice-chair of the Muslim Association of Britain.

Kozbar successfully argued that the article was defamatory and the Sunday Telegraph has now removed the article from its website, published a ruling accepting the article was defamatory, and paid damages understood to be in the region of £30,000 to settle the case. This does not include the newspaper’s costs.

“It was not just myself who was the target of this article, it was Jeremy Corbyn,” said Kozbar after the verdict. “The aim was to damage the reputation of Jeremy and make his progress with the Labour party more difficult.”

The piece, by the journalist Andrew Gilligan, claimed the mosque administrator supported the use of violence in the Israel-Palestine conflict and blamed the UK government for the rise of Islamic State.

It appeared alongside a picture of Corbyn shaking hands with Kozbar, detailed regular meetings between the two men, and quoted the Labour leader as calling the mosque leader “fantastic”.

Finsbury Park mosque became infamous for hosting the radical preacher Abu Hamza before it was shut down by the authorities in 2003 over an alleged plot to produce the poison ricin.

Kozbar says he has since fought hard to rebuild the mosque’s reputation and standing in the community and he was forced to fight the case against the Sunday Telegraph in order to take a stand against “Islamophopic media coverage”. He insisted the article was “not just an attack on me but also my faith community”.

“This mosque went through very difficult times in the past and we managed to change the atmosphere from a hostile atmosphere to a welcoming community,” said Kozbar. “We will not accept anyone who wants to destroy the reputation and the hard work that has been done with the community here at Finsbury Park mosque.”

Corbyn appeared alongside Kozbar last summer following the far-right terrorist attack near the mosque, which resulted in the death of Makram Ali.

Jonathan Coad of Keystone Law, who took up the case after Kozbar was unsatisfied with a ruling by the press regulator Ipso, said: “While there are many responsible elements of the press, the demonising of Muslims in some parts of it is immensely destructive.

Full report at:

https://www.theguardian.com/media/2018/may/09/sunday-telegraph-pays-substantial-damages-to-london-mosque-chief

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Mideast

 

Suspected Israeli strike on Syria kills 8 Iranians: monitor

May 09, 2018

Eight Iranians were among 15 foreign pro-regime fighters killed in a suspected Israeli strike in Syria on a weapons depot of Iran's elite Revolutionary Guards, a war monitor said Wednesday.

The raid struck the area of Kisweh south of Damascus late Tuesday, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group said.

Syria's official news agency SANA said the army had intercepted two Israeli missiles fired towards Kisweh, with state television broadcasting images of fires in the nearby area.

"The death toll of the missile strike has risen to 15 pro-regime fighters eight from Iran's Revolutionary Guards and others not of Syrian nationality," Observatory head Rami Abdel Rahman said.

The monitor previously reported nine pro-regime combatants had died in the raid, without specifying their nationality.

SANA quoted a medical source saying that two civilians had died on a highway linking Damascus with the southern city of Deraa as a result of an explosion linked to "the Israeli aggression".

Late Tuesday, the Israeli-occupied section of the Golan Heights was placed on high alert due to "irregular activity by Iranian forces" across the demarcation line in Syria.

It is not the first time that Kisweh has been targeted. In December, Israel reportedly bombed military positions in the area south of Damascus, including a weapons depot.

Since the start of Syria's civil war in 2011, Israel has repeatedly targeted positions of the Syrian army and the Lebanese Hezbollah movement backing it inside the country.

On April 29, missile strikes"probably Israeli" fired on regime military positions killed at least 26 mostly Iranian fighters, according to the Observatory.

On April 9, missiles targeted the T-4 air base in the central province of Homs, killing up to 14 fighters, including seven Iranians, two days after an alleged chemical attack carried out by the Syrian regime.

Damascus accused Israel of carrying out the strike.

Israel and Syria are still officially in a state of war, though the armistice line on the sector of the Golan Heights which the Jewish state seized from its Arab neighbour in 1967 was largely quiet for decades until the Syrian civil war broke out in 2011. In an interview late last month, Israeli Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman vowed to strike at any attempt by Iran to establish a "military foothold" in Syria.

https://nation.com.pk/09-May-2018/suspected-israeli-strike-on-syria-kills-8-iranians-monitor

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Israel blames Iran for firing rockets at the Golan from Syria

10 May 2018

Al-Arabiya correspondent reported on Thursday that armed factions were firing rockets from Syria at Israeli positions in the Golan Heights.

The Israeli military said Iranian forces on the Syrian-held side of the Golan Heights shelled Israeli army outposts on the strategic plateau on Thursday but caused no casualties.

Israel retaliated for the attack, military spokesman Lieutenant-Colonel Jonathan Conricus said, without elaborating.

The late-night incident followed a surge in tensions between Israel and Syria, where Iranian and Lebanese Hezbollah forces have been helping Damascus beat back a 7-year-old rebellion.

Fearing that Iran and Hezbollah are setting up a Lebanese-Syrian front against it, Israel has occasionally struck at their forces. Iran blamed it for an April 9 air strike that killed seven of its military personnel in Syria, and vowed revenge.

Conricus said that, in Thursday’s attack, around 20 projectiles, most likely rockets, were fired by the Quds Force, an external arm of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps, at around 12.10 a.m.

“A few of those rockets were intercepted” by Israel’s Iron Dome air defence system, Conricus told reporters. “We are not aware of any casualties. The amount of damage that we currently

assess is low.”

Asked if Israel retaliated for the salvo, he said: “We have retaliated but I have no further details about this.”

Expectations of a regional flare-up were stoked by US President Donald Trump’s announcement on Tuesday that he was withdrawing from the Iranian nuclear deal. Hours later, an Israeli air strike in Syria killed 15 people, including 8 Iranians, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

Israel has neither confirmed or denied responsibility.

Israel has been on heightened alert in recent days, anticipating a possible Iranian retaliation. Iran has vowed revenge after blaming Israel for a series of deadly airstrikes on Iranian positions in Syria.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2018/05/10/Israel-blames-Iran-for-firing-rockets-at-the-Golan-from-Syria.html

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Saada tribes: We reject the Houthi coup backed by Iran

9 May 2018

Saada tribes on Wednesday issued a joint statement confirming that their province was Arab Yemeni and rejected “the Iranian Safavid” ideology and the Houthi coup backed by Iran that took over their territories in 2014.

The statement called by the tribes of al-Mughtar demanded the militias to stop “forcing their children in a futile war”.

They stressed that the tribes of Saada will form a political committee to hold meetings with the ambassadors of the coalition countries in their bid to fight off Houthi militias from their lands.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/gulf/2018/05/09/Saada-tribes-We-reject-the-Houthi-backed-coup-by-Iran.html

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Yemeni forces fire missiles at 'economic targets' in Saudi capital

May 9, 2018

Yemeni army forces, supported by allied fighters from Popular Committees, have fired a salvo of domestically-designed and -developed ballistic missiles at "economic targets" in the Saudi capital city of Riyadh in retaliation to the Al Saud’s devastating military aggression against their impoverished country.

Yemen’s Joint Operations Command, in a statement released on Wednesday, announced that the long-range missiles struck the designated targets with great precision, Arabic-language al-Masirah television network reported.

Four blasts were heard in the central part of Riyadh, but there were no immediate reports of casualties or damage.

Saudi authorities later claimed that its air defense systems had intercepted the missiles in the skies over the capital.

A military spokesman for the Houthi Ansarullah movement, Colonel Aziz Rashed, said the missile attack marked “a new phase” and was revenge for Saudi airstrikes on Yemen.

“There will be more salvos until this enemy is deterred, understands the meaning of the Yemeni might and ceases its crimes,” he pointed out.

Separately, a child lost his life and a couple sustained injuries when a cluster bomb went off in the Razih district of Yemen’s mountainous northwestern province of Sa’ada.

Cluster munitions, which are banned by more than 100 countries, present an enormous danger to civilians.

Cluster bombs are banned under the Convention on Cluster Munitions (CCM), an international treaty that addresses the humanitarian consequences and unacceptable harm caused to civilians by cluster munitions through a categorical prohibition and a framework for action.

Yemeni forces inflict losses on Saudi mercenaries

Meanwhile, Yemeni troops and Popular Committees fighters dealt new blows to Saudi-backed militiamen loyal to Yemen's resigned president, Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, in Saudi Arabia’s southwestern border region of Jizan.

A Yemeni military source said Yemeni forces carried out an ambush on the Saudi mercenaries in the region’s al-Amoud military base on Wednesday, killing and injuring scores of them.

Yemeni army soldiers and their allies also shot down two unmanned reconnaissance drones, and destroyed an M1 Abrams battle tank.

The Yemeni Ministry of Human Rights announced in a statement on March 25 that the Saudi-led war had left 600,000 civilians dead and injured since March 2015.

The United Nations says a record 22.2 million Yemenis are in need of food aid, including 8.4 million threatened by severe hunger.

A high-ranking UN aid official recently warned against the “catastrophic” living conditions in Yemen, stating that there was a growing risk of famine and cholera there.

“People's lives have continued unraveling. Conflict has escalated since November driving an estimated 100,000 people from their homes,” John Ging, UN director of aid operations, told the UN Security Council on February 27.

Full report at:

http://www.presstv.com/Detail/2018/05/09/561151/Yemeni-forces-fire-missiles-at-economic-targets-in-Saudi-capital

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Netanyahu sets off to Russia after Israel strikes Syrian army positions

May 9, 2018

Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has traveled to Russia for talks with President Vladimir Putin after the Tel Aviv regime hit military positions in Syria, which enjoys Moscow’s support in its anti-terror drive.

Netanyahu headed to Moscow on Wednesday, saying in advance, "The meetings between us are always important and this one is especially so," AFP reported.

A day earlier, Syrian state media said Israel had attacked Syrian army positions south of the capital Damascus, prompting the country’s air defenses to shoot down two Israeli missiles.

Tel Aviv regularly conducts such attacks, sometimes trying to hit Syrian military positions, but mostly aiming at targets belonging to Hezbollah. The Lebanese resistance movement has been helping the Syrian military out in the face of terrorists.

In February, Russia's Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov warned against escalation of tension in the Middle East after Israel carried out an airstrike in Syria, only to have one of its F-16s shot down for the first time. Following the Israeli airstrike, Putin asked Netanyahu during a phone conversation to avoid moves that could lead to “a new round of dangerous consequences for the region.”

Moscow has been backing Syrian forces against terrorists since September 2015 at Damascus’ request.

In his remarks before departing, Netanyahu also said, "In light of what is currently happening in Syria, it is necessary to ensure the continued coordination between the Russian military and [that of Israel]."

Earlier in the week, Israel’s former minister for military affairs Moshe Ya’alon claimed that the regime nearly shot down a Russian jet that was approaching its “airspace” back in 2015.

The incident took place shortly after the launch of the Russian military campaign in Syria.

Full report at:

http://www.presstv.com/Detail/2018/05/09/561121/Syria-Israel-Russia-Netanyahu-Putin

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Africa

 

Investigations reveal Sudan is safe haven for IS group

May. 9, 2018

CAIRO – 9 May 2018: The investigations conducted by Egypt’s public prosecution in the case of the Islamic State group in Sinai, which included 555 defendants, revealed that the IS group moved to Sudan as a safe haven after their defeat in Libya.

It was revealed that the terrorist Hani Abdul Samad Abdul Sattar was responsible for smuggling accused members to Sudan. Rahman Mohammed Mahdi Shklov, a member of IS, was responsible for providing clothes to members.

The list of defendants also included fugitive Tarek el-Zomor, former chairman of the Building and Development Party. Zomor is accused of funding terrorist activities in Egypt following the July 2013 revolution, Al-Shorouq newspaper reported on Sunday.

Zomor was among the terrorists who assassinated former Egyptian President Anwar Sadat during a military parade on October 6, 1981 while celebrating the 1973 victory against Israel.

Zomor served a prison sentence before he joined the Salafist Building and Development Party formed after the January 25th Revolution. He is currently the chairman of Al Jama’a Al-Islamiyya and the Building and Development Party. He was also a member of Egyptian Islamic Jihad. He is charged with a number of terror-related cases and inciting violence.

According to officials, out of the 555 defendants, 216 would appear in court, while 339 would be tried in absentia.

Egypt has been hit by significant militant attacks in recent years, especially after Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated President Mohamed Morsi was toppled following mass protests against his rule.

On February 9, the Egyptian Armed Forces launched a full-scale military operation titled "Sinai 2018" to confront terrorist elements in Sinai and other areas across the country.

https://www.egypttoday.com/Article/1/49676/Investigations-reveal-Sudan-is-safe-haven-for-IS-group

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Blast kills 11 people in Somali khat market near Mogadishu

9 May 2018

At least 11 people were killed in an explosion in a busy market in a small Somali city north of Mogadishu, a security official and witnesses said.

“Eleven people were confirmed dead and more than 10 others were wounded in the blast which we are still investigating, some of the victims have serious wounds and they are admitted at hospital,” Mohamed Abdikarim, a regional security official, told AFP.

Sources contacted by AFP did not yet know whether the blast was caused by a suicide bomber or an explosive device.

The blast occurred at the marketplace in Wanlaweyn district about 70 kilometers north of the Somali capital where Khat (narcotic leaves) is sold.

“There was chaos at the market, a number of people died and others wounded, I saw the severed dead bodies of civilians but there were also security personnel involved in the casualty,” Mohamed Dahir, a witness said.

Wanlaweyn district is close to the Balidogle airbase where the US special forces have a major base.

Given Wanlaweyn’s lack of hospitals able to take in multiple casualties, residents said they took many of the wounded to their homes for the time being after the afternoon blast near a busy cluster of khat kiosks.

Police said they were investigating whether the explosion was caused by a planted bomb or by a suicide bomber.

Residents said the kiosks were busy with soldiers buying khat. “I counted five dead people, including two shoe shiners, a mother who sold khat and two customers. There were 10 other injured civilians,” shopkeeper Ahmed Mohamud told Reuters.

“I could also see several soldiers in uniform being transported from the blast scene but I could not confirm whether they were dead or wounded.”

No group has so far claimed responsibility for the blast. The Shabaab, linked to Al-Qaeda, are known to be present in the region.

Al Shabaab is fighting to overthrow Somalia’s central government and establish its own rule based on its interpretation of Islamic law.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/world/2018/05/09/Blast-kills-at-least-5-people-in-Somali-khat-market-near-Mogadishu.html

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Tackle Lake Chad environment to stop Boko Haram: experts

2018-05-09

Revitalising Lake Chad will stop Boko Haram from gaining a long-term foothold in the region, experts said on Wednesday, as four countries wrapped up talks aimed at ending in the conflict.

The insurgency began in 2009 and has killed at least 20 000 in northeast Nigeria alone, spreading to neighbouring Cameroon, Chad and Niger, prompting a regional military response.

But 11 governors from four countries surrounding the lake plus local and international aid agencies were told that fighting alone would not stop the conflict.

"The whole of the Boko Haram problem has its roots in the drying of the lake, which has left millions with no means of livelihood," said Mamman Nuhu, executive secretary of the Lake Chad Basin Development Commission.

"Poverty has no frontier, the people around Lake Chad face the same challenges," he told AFP on the sidelines of the Lake Chad Governors' Forum in Maiduguri, northeast Nigeria.

"Once the lake is restored, the Boko Haram problem will permanently be taken care of."

Mohamed Ibn Chambas, the UN secretary-general's special envoy for West Africa and the Sahel, said the shrinking of most of the lake's surface was one of the main causes of poverty.

"It is a major factor for the lack of jobs and other employment opportunities for young people, which makes the region a fertile recruitment ground for terrorists," he added.

 'Huge task' 

The freshwater lake and its fertile hinterland once provided a living for fishermen and farmers but in the last 40 years has seen a staggering 90% of its surface area shrink.

Climate change and mismanagement have been blamed.

Loss of employment opportunities, a lack of access to education, poor governance and corruption has fostered resentment, anger and a desire to fight back.

Boko Haram tapped into such disaffection with the promise of financial rewards in a largely lawless region where drugs and arms flowed through porous borders.

In February, Cameroon, Chad, Niger and Nigeria met in Abuja to discuss with international experts and development agencies how to salvage the lake.

One plan mooted was the revival of a project to dig a 2 600km canal from the Democratic Republic of Congo across the Central African Republic.

The canal would meet the Chari River that feeds into the lake.

Proponents say it also could attract back cattle herders whose migration further south because of desertification has led to clashes with farmers.

The flow of migrants from Africa to Europe could also slow, they argued.

Some estimates put the cost of the project as much as $14bn but the governor of Niger's Diffa region, Bakabe Mahamadou, said there was a lack of funds.

"We don't have the money to execute this project, it is a huge task that will take years to accomplish," he added.

Security concerns

Efforts to tackle the source of radicalisation in the northeast have been floated before, not least in 2014 at the height of the insurgency under president Goodluck Jonathan.

Then, the government proposed a "soft-power" plan to encourage local communities to shun extremism as well as "de-radicalise" suspected militants.

The plan, widely praised by analysts tracking the conflict, was seen as a recognition that military might alone was not enough, particularly against Boko Haram's guerilla tactics.

As the conference opened on Tuesday, two female suicide bombers were shot dead in a botched attack on a mosque in the Jiddari Polo area of Maiduguri.

But even if funding was not an issue, implementation of any environmental scheme for Lake Chad would have to take a back seat initially to security operations.

According to the commander of the Multi-National Joint Task Force, Major-General Lucky Irabor, military action was targeting Boko Haram on the islands of Lake Chad.

Full report at:

https://www.news24.com/Africa/News/tackle-lake-chad-environment-to-stop-boko-haram-experts-20180509

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Boko Haram: 2 teenagers killed in failed Borno suicide attack

May 9, 2018

By Don Silas

Two female suicide bombers were killed on Wednesday morning while attempting to attack a mosque in Borno State, North-east Nigeria.

Mr Damian Chukwu, the Commissioner of Police in the state, confirmed this in a statement personally signed.

Chukwu disclosed that the attackers tried to gain entry into the Alhaji Bunu’s Mosque during the morning prayers in Jiddari Polo general area on the outskirts of Maiduguri, the state capital.

He added that the bombers who were between the ages of 13 and 16 were, however, prevented by the policemen on patrol and unarmed vigilante men also praying in the same mosque.

“In the ensuing stampede, both bombers ran into an uncompleted building in the neighbourhoods, collided and simultaneously exploded, killing only themselves,” he said.

Full report at:

http://dailypost.ng/2018/05/09/boko-haram-2-teenagers-killed-failed-borno-suicide-attack/

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